Posts Tagged news roundup

Voice of the Faithful “Focus” News Roundup

 January 25, 2019

TOP STORIES

Cardinal Wuerl acknowledges he knew of one accusation against predecessor
“In a second letter issued in mid-January about what he knew and didn’t regarding abuse allegations involving his predecessor, Cardinal Donald W. Wuerl, Washington’s retired archbishop, apologized Jan. 15 for what he called a ‘lapse of memory(link is external),’ clarifying that he knew of at least one abuse allegation against former U.S. Cardinal Theodore E. McCarrick, but he had ‘forgotten’ about it. In the letter sent to priests of the Archdiocese of Washington, Cardinal Wuerl acknowledged that he became aware of the allegation against now-Archbishop McCarrick after receiving a report in 2004 about a different allegation, but the ‘survivor also indicated that he had observed and experienced ‘inappropriate conduct’ by then-Bishop McCarrick.’” By Catholic News Service in The Pilot

Vatican commission members: Women served as deacons for a millennium
Women served as deacons in Europe for about a millennium(link is external) in a variety of ministerial and sacramental roles, according to Phyllis Zagano, an author and professor of religion at Hofstra University, and Bernard Pottier, S.J., a faculty member at the Institut D’Études Théologiques in Brussels, in an interview this week with America. ‘They anointed ill women; they brought communion to ill women,’ said Ms. Zagano. They also participated in baptism, served as treasurers and, in at least one case, participated in an annulment.” By Brandon Sanchez, America: The Jesuit Review

Irish abuse survivor wants Vatican summit to increase accountability
“A prominent survivor and advocate for those affected by clerical abuse has urged Pope Francis to publicly name bishops who have been found guilty of negligence by church tribunals(link is external). Marie Collins – who was a member of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors from 2014 to 2017 – also said that, during the Vatican summit on safeguarding in February, the pope should set out comprehensive procedures to hold bishops accountable.” By Catholic News Service in The Pilot

Curb the crisis: 10 essential lessons for investigating church leaders
“The Catholic Church is in serious and deepening crisis, primarily as a result of grave sins and failed leadership involving clergy sexual misconduct(link is external). This tragedy is most recently exemplified by the alleged abusive, long-standing behavior of former Cardinal Theodore McCarrick. In order for the church in the United States to determine and learn from how it failed to address McCarrick’s decades of alleged misconduct, new guidelines and procedures must be established and implemented for investigating him and any high-ranking church leader.” By Hank Shea, National Catholic Reporter

17 years later, the impact of clergy sex abuse on Boston’s Catholic community
“The top Catholic bishops from around the world will gather at the Vatican for a historic summit next month. The topic will be sex abuse by the clergy. Here & Now‘s Lisa Mullins looks at the impact of the revelations on the once thriving Catholic community in Boston(link is external).” By Robin Young, Here & Now, WBUR-FM, National Public Radio

ACCOUNTABILITY

We want to see humility, action, but I’m not expecting anything like that from bishops
“Nothing. That is what I am expecting from the bishops in Rome in February. Nothing. Maybe that seems a bit pessimistic, but I think it is realistic. I’ve been disappointed at their lack of courage and leadership before. So, this time, it is best to expect nothing(link is external). I was disappointed in 2003 when the U.S. bishops drafted the Dallas Charter which rightly held priests accountable for sexual abuse of minors but did nothing about the accountability of the bishops. They thought only Rome could hold them accountable.” By Fr. Peter Daly, National Catholic Reporter

New Jersey priest arrested in first criminal case from state’s clergy abuse task force
“New Jersey authorities announced Thursday (Jan. 17) that a priest has been charged with sexual assault(link is external) based on allegations stemming from the 1990s in the first criminal case by the state’s new Clergy Abuse Task Force. Father Thomas P. Ganley, 63, of Phillipsburg, was arrested Wednesday on allegations that he sexually abused a minor between 1990 and 1994, while he worked at Saint Cecelia Church in Woodbridge, according to a press release from the state Attorney General’s Office.” By Doha Madani, NBC News

Editorial: the lesson of Opus Dei Fr. McCloskey’s downfall
“It is time for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops to issue a standard sign to be posted in every chancery office in the country, just outside the bishop’s door, reading: IT’S THE CLERICAL CULTURE!(link is external) It is time to be done with the breathless wonderment at whatever new revelations show one more holy and wonderful priest has been, in a hidden life, abusive of children, or women, or seminarians, or just a liar about what he knew or didn’t know, did or didn’t do.” By National Catholic Reporter Editorial Staff

USA Northeast Province releases names of Jesuits credibly accused of sexual abuse
“Following similar moves by other U.S. provinces, the USA Northeast Province of the Society of Jesus on Jan. 15 released a list of members with credible allegations of sexual abuse of minors(link is external). ‘At the heart of this crisis is the painful, sinful and illegal harm done to children by those whom they should have been able to trust,’ John J. Cecero, S.J., the provincial of the Northeast Province, said in a statement. ‘We did not know any best practices to handle these violations many decades ago and regrettably made mistakes along the way.’” By Michael J. O’Loughlin, America: The Jesuit Review

Diocese, Zubik, Wuerl sued in latest round of accusations
“In 1976, a priest in the Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh took a 13-year-old boy on a trip to Super Bowl X in Miami. Instead of enjoying a fun trip to watch the Steelers play the Cowboys for the NFL championship, the boy endured what he later described as a ‘week of hell.(link is external)’ The priest, the Rev. Thomas M. O’Donnell, forced the boy, Martin Nasiadka, now 56, to share a bed with him and repeatedly sexually assaulted him over several days.” By Andrew Goldstein, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Faith in clergy’s honesty tanks among U.S. Catholics
“Fewer than a third of U.S. Catholics rate the honesty and ethical standards of clergy as ‘very high’ or ‘high,’ the latest evidence of the hierarchy’s diminished credibility as a result of the clergy sex abuse scandal(link is external), according to a Gallup poll released Friday (Jan. 11). The record-low 31 percent honesty rating marked an 18-percentage-point drop from 2017, a large fall after years of steady decline that followed a new global explosion of the scandal and revelations of high-ranking cover-up.” By Nicole Winfield, Associated Press, on Cruxnow.com

A global response to abuse: work already underway, Jesuit says
“By summoning leaders of the world’s bishops’ conferences and top representatives of religious orders to the Vatican in February to address the abuse crisis and the protection of minors, Pope Francis is sending the message that the need for safeguarding is a global issue(link is external) … While Catholic leaders in some countries might not recognize it as a global issue, Vatican offices that receive abuse allegations have a “clear idea about what is the situation now because allegations come from all parts of the world,” said Jesuit Father Hans Zollner.” By Carol Glatz, U.S. News & World Report, in Catholic Standard

VATICAN ABUSE BISHOPS’ SUMMIT SET FOR FEBRUARY 2019

Five reasons the pope’s clergy sex abuse meeting in Rome will fail
“Next month’s meeting in Rome, called by Pope Francis to deal with the sex abuse crisis in the Catholic Church, may well be a failure before it even starts(link is external). The stakes for the meeting have been ratcheted up, at least for the American church, as the Pennsylvania grand jury report on clergy sex abuse has summoned up new scrutiny of the church’s response, from the pews and from government officials; then, in November, the Vatican squelched a vote at the U.S. bishops’ fall meeting on measures designed to hold the hierarchy accountable for not dealing with abuse.” By Thomas Reese, Religion News Service, National Catholic Reporter

Getting to February: the decisions that could shape the pope’s summit
“As the Church continues to wrestle with the fall-out of last year’s sexual abuse scandals, the Vatican faces a series of crucial decisions in the coming weeks(link is external). How they are resolved, and in what order, will likely set the tone for the rest of the year. One month from today (Jan. 22), the heads of the world’s bishops’ conferences will gather in Rome for a special summit to address the abuse crisis. Ahead of that meeting, the Vatican has attempted to lower what it has called ‘excessive’ expectations.” By Ed Condon, Catholic News Agency

What’s known, and unknown, about pope’s abuse summit in February
“When presidents and other representatives of the world’s nearly 130 bishops’ conferences gather in Rome next month for a summit on clerical sex abuse(link is external), many experts are predicting it will be the most-covered Vatican event since the last papal election in 2013. Whether the gathering lives up to that hype, however, remains to be seen.” By Inés San Martin and Christopher White, Cruxnow.com

Vatican summit to help nations lagging on abuse policies, Jesuit says
Only about half of the national bishops’ conferences in the world have adopted complete, Vatican-approved guidelines for handling accusations of clerical sexual abuse(link is external) and promoting child protection, said the Jesuit named to moderate the Vatican’s February summit on abuse. Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi said about one-quarter of the bishops’ conferences have received feedback on their proposed guidelines from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and are working on the final versions. That leaves 25 percent of conferences ‘behind for various reasons, among which are different cultural contexts and a scarcity of available competence.” By Cindy Wooden, Catholic News Service, on Cruxnow.com

Vatican abuse summit to hear from survivors
“A summit at the Vatican to address child sexual abuse next month will include both a penitential liturgy and testimonies from survivors(link is external). The meeting will include plenary sessions, working groups and time for communal prayer while listening to the personal testimonies of abuse survivors. Though no formal schedule has yet been released, there will also be a penitential liturgy during the three-day gathering, which will conclude with Mass celebrated by Pope Francis.” By CathNews.com from Cruxnow.com

Vatican lowers expectations ahead of February’s sex abuse summit
“The Vatican has spelled out the purpose and goals of the summit on the protection of minors, to be held Feb. 21 to 24, which will bring together the presidents of bishops’ conferences from around the Catholic world, senior officials of the Roman Curia, representatives of the international unions of major religious superiors (both men and women) and a number of survivors of abuse. It also sought to lower expectations for that event(link is external). ‘The goal is that all of the bishops clearly understand what they need to do to prevent and combat the worldwide problem of the sexual abuse of minors,’ Alessandro Gisotti, the interim director of the Holy See press office, told journalists.” By Gerard O’Connell, America: The Jesuit Review

Pope Francis wants bishops to learn to punish abusers at the Vatican’s sex abuse prevention summit
“Pope Francis is insisting that bishops attending his high-stakes sex abuse prevention summit will learn the laws to use against predators(link is external), how to care for victims and will make sure that no cleric abuse cases are covered up again. The Vatican on Wednesday (Jan. 16) provided details about the Feb. 21-24 meeting, saying its main aim is to guarantee that bishops around the world ‘clearly understand what they need to do to prevent and combat the worldwide problem of the sexual abuse of minors.’” By Nicole Winfield, Associated Press, in Time

McCARRICK CASE

Disgraced U.S. ex-cardinal could be defrocked soon
“Disgraced former U.S. cardinal Theodore McCarrick is almost certain to be defrocked in the next few weeks over allegations against him, including sexual abuse of minors(link is external), two Vatican sources said. Last July, McCarrick became the first Catholic prelate in nearly 100 years to lose the title of cardinal. The allegations against him date back to decades ago when he was still rising to the top of the U.S. Church hierarchy.” By Philip Pullella, Reuters

Accuser speaks to D.A. about cover-up
“The key accuser in the sex abuse case against ex-Cardinal Theodore McCarrick has met with New York City prosecutors, evidence that the scandal that has convulsed the papacy is now part of the broader U.S. law enforcement investigation(link is external) into sex abuse and cover-up in the Catholic Church. James Grein gave testimony last month to Manhattan Assistant District Attorney Sara Sullivan, who is investigating a broad range of issues related to clergy abuse and the systematic cover-up by church superiors, Grein’s attorney, Patrick Noaker, told The Associated Press.” By Nicole Winfield, Associated Press, on LMTOnline.com

The cardinal who knew and said nothing
“What did Donald Cardinal Weurl, Washington’s retired archbishop, know about his pervy predecessor, the ex-cardinal Theodore ‘Uncle Ted’ McCarrick, and when did he know it? That question has agitated American Catholics ever since McCarrick’s depredations came to light last summer. Well, now we have an answer: Wuerl knew much more than he first let on. In fact, Wuerl was aware of allegations of McCarrick’s predatory(link is external) ­behavior going back at least 15 years, and he misled the Catholic faithful in the capital and across the nation instead of speaking with the honesty ­required of a disciple of Jesus.” By Sohrab Ahmanri, New York Post

POPE FRANCIS

Vatican editor says Pope must face questions on women, sex abuse
“According to an Italian historian who presides over a monthly Vatican magazine on women, both women and clerical sexual abuse are problems that will continue to dog Pope Francis until they’re resolved(link is external). ‘[A] question arises, that of women who are nonexistent and invisible in the eyes of ecclesiastical hierarchies, accustomed to taking their service for granted,’ Lucetta Scaraffia wrote in a recent op-ed for the Spanish newspaper El Pais. ‘Today religious [women] no longer accept shameful conditions of exploitation and humiliation.’” By Inés San Martin, Cruxnow.com

Pope meets with Chilean bishops, discusses abuse crisis
“Pope Francis spent nearly three hours with bishops from Chile discussing the sexual abuse crisis that has rocked the church in the country(link is external), a Chilean bishop said. Briefing journalists on the bishops’ meeting with the pope Jan. 13, Bishop Luis Fernando Ramos Perez, apostolic administrator of Rancagua and secretary-general of the bishops’ conference, said they met for one hour with the pope at Vatican’s Apostolic Palace and were invited to have lunch for nearly two hours with him to discuss ‘the situation of the church in Chile.’ By Catholic News Service in The Pilot

CARDINALS

French cardinal to be acquitted of covering sex abuses in Lyon
“One of France’s most prominent bishops, Cardinal Philippe Barbarin, is likely to be acquitted of charges of not denouncing a priest who sexually abused children(link is external)between 1971 and 1991. At the end of his four-day trial, Jan. 7-10, in Lyon, public prosecutor Charlotte Trabaut announced she would not ask for his conviction. Even though the president of the tribunal is not bound by the prosecutor’s stand, it seems likely that the cardinal will be acquitted. French judicial authorities opened a case against Barbarin in 2016, in the name of the French state. The court closed it, invoking statute of limitation.” By Elisabeth Auvillain, National Catholic Reporter

BISHOPS

Reality check was missing at U.S. bishops’ retreat
“It was a highly unusual event when most of the bishops in the United States gathered(link is external) for a weeklong retreat earlier in January at Mundelein Seminary outside of Chicago. The event was driven by a most unusual and debilitating problem, the clergy sex abuse crisis, which has bedeviled the church in the United States for nearly 34 years. The event itself may have been the primary goal — gathering a group of men publicly divided over a host of issues for prayer and meditation away from daily pressures. Only time will tell if there are long-term benefits.” By National Catholic Reporter Editorial Board

Italian bishops refine anti-abuse guidelines without victim input
“As the Vatican prepares to host an international summit of bishops in February on clerical sex abuse, the Italian bishops are preparing by fine-tuning new guidelines for the protection of minors … Victims of sexual abuse were expected to meet with the commission during its gathering, ‘but we preferred moving it because there wasn’t enough time(link is external),’ (Father Stefano) Russo (Secretary General of the Italian Bishops’ Conference) said.” By Claire Giangravè, Cruxnow.com

Bishops describe retreat as inspiring, Spirit-filled
“Although the weeklong retreat for U.S. Catholic bishops emphasized quiet reflection, several bishops spoke out on social media during the retreat and after it(link is external) wrapped up Jan. 8 with positive reaction about it and to give shoutouts to the retreat leader, Capuchin Father Raniero Cantalamessa, who has preached to popes and top officials of the Roman Curia for nearly 40 years.” By Carol Zimmermann, Catholic News Service

Pope Francis’ letter to the U.S. Bishops
“On January 1, Pope Francis wrote an extraordinary eight-page letter to the bishops of the United States(link is external) as they were preparing to convene at Mundelein Seminary north of Chicago for a retreat with the preacher to the papal household, Fr. Raniero Cantalamessa. The retreat was suggested by Pope Francis to the leaders of the U.S. Bishops Conference when they met with him in Rome in September about steps to respond to the sexual abuse crisis plaguing the Church in our country.” By Father Roger J. Landry, The Pilot

WOMEN RELIGIOUS

Women religious shatter the silence about clergy sexual abuse of sisters
“Galvanized by the #MeToo movement and the sex abuse crisis commanding the attention of the Vatican, women religious are now openly discussing a subject that was once taboo — sexual harassment, abuse and rape of sisters by clergy(link is external) — in congregational motherhouses and national conference offices.Slowly, an era is ending in which Catholic women religious were silent victims of sexual abuse by priests and bishops. Consider these developments in the past year …” By Gail De George, Global Sisters Report, National Catholic Reporter

LAITY & THE CHURCH

Lay people in Church roles ‘the way of the future’
“Newly-appointed Brisbane Archdiocese chancellor Pat Mullins says more lay people should step up to take on Church roles(link is external). ‘It’s a good direction that the Church is going in, I think. It’s the way of the future,’ he said. Uniquely qualified for the role of chancellor, Mr Mullins is believed to be Australia’s only canon lawyer simultaneously practicing as a common lawyer. He becomes the first layman to hold the position in Brisbane, succeeding Fr Adrian Farrelly, chancellor for the past 10 years.” By CathNews.com

The Catholic Church has a leadership problem. Lay people can help.
“The Catholic Church, according to this week’s guest, is facing not one but two crises(link is external). The first is the sexual abuse of children and its cover-up; the second is a complete break down of trust in church leadership. Kerry Alys Robinson has been working to confront both over a decade as the founding executive director of Leadership Roundtable, a group that brings together clergy, religious and laypeople to promote the best practices in the areas of finance, human resources and management.” By Ashley McKinless, America: The Jesuit Review

VATICAN

Vatican: no prior accusation of sex abuse against Argentine
“The Vatican is insisting that there were no accusations of sexual abuse against an Argentine bishop close to Pope Francis(link is external) when he resigned suddenly in 2017 and was promoted to a job at the Vatican. Vatican spokesman Alessandro Gisotti repeated Tuesday (JAN. 22) that the Vatican only received the first accusations of alleged sexual abuse by Archbishop Gustavo Zanchetta a few months ago.” By Nicole Winfield, Associated Press

CHILD PROTECTION

Vatican releases details on protection of minors meeting (aka. Vatican Bishops Summit on Clergy Abuse)
“The Director ad interim of the Holy See Press Office, Alessandro Gisotti, on Wednesday (Jan. 16) provided journalists with further information regarding ‘The protection of minors in the Church’ Meeting(link is external), to be held in the Vatican from 21 to 24 February 2019. The Organizing Committee of the Meeting gathered in Rome on Thursday 10 January, he said. Afterwards, the Holy Father received in audience the members of the Committee, who updated him on preparations for the Meeting.” By Vatican News

CELIBACY& MARRIED PRIESTS

Vermont Catholics voice support for married, female clergy
“The first surprise came when a crowd of 75 Vermont Catholics defied a snowstorm to ask a flurry of questions about a rise in priest misconduct(link is external) headlines and fall in parishioner attendance. ‘Can you see the possibility,’ one woman asked, ‘of having a dialogue about celibacy, marriage and the priesthood?’ The second one arrived when the head of the state’s Roman Catholic Diocese answered each and every inquiry without dodging or deflecting. ‘If the Holy Father said we’re going to allow for married clergy, I would say fine,’ Bishop Christopher Coyne said. ‘But I would feel badly for the woman who would have to marry me.’” By Kevin O’Connor, VtDigger.com

WOMEN DEACONS

It’s not about women priests
The question of women deacons has nothing to do with women priests(link is external). What? And, why? Well, to begin with, historical documents — canons, liturgical texts, and other writings — speak freely and regularly about women deacons, not priests, ‘ordained’ or ‘blessed.’ Facts are facts.” By Phyllis Zagano, National Catholic Reporter

One-third of U.S. bishops believe church ‘should’ ordain women as deacons
“As Pope Francis mulls a report about women deacons in the early church, a new survey reveals that at least when it comes to U.S. bishops, support for ordaining women as deacons remains uneven(link is external). According to a report released by the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate at Georgetown University on Jan. 22, just 33 percent of bishops in the United States think the church ‘should’ ordain women as deacons.” By Michael O’Loughlin, America: The Jesuit Review

FUTURE OF THE CHURCH

Scandal-scarred American Catholic Church approaches a crossroad
“The Catholic abuse scandal in the United States is approaching a critical moment(link is external)as the Vatican prepares for a worldwide abuse summit with a prominent American former cardinal under Vatican investigation and another American cardinal under pressure for changing his story about what he knew about the case.” By Alex Johnson, NBC News

Church in India must confront ‘indifference to spirituality,’ bishop says
“In a ‘dynamic and fast-changing’ society, the Church in India must embrace ‘flexibility’ in pastoral ministry(link is external), according to one bishop in the country. ‘Evangelization demands creativity and innovation. God is ever new and ancient,’ said Bishop Thomas Dabre of Poona at the beginning of this week’s plenary meeting of the Conference of Catholic Bishops of India (CCBI).” By Nirmala Carvalho, Cruxnow.com

Here’s one way the Catholic Church can regain some of its credibility
“Next month, more than a hundred Catholic bishops are expected to meet in Rome for a gathering dedicated to the sexual abuse crisis. In a letter released by the Vatican from the conference’s steering committee, bishops were urged to meet with survivors of abuse(link is external). Committee members say the Church’s credibility is at stake. The upcoming conference comes as the Catholic Church continues to grapple with the fallout of the crisis … In the audio above, she explains why she believes releasing names of the accused can help the Church gain back some of its credibility.” By Abner Fletcher, Houston Public Media

VATICAN II

Vatican II: Reforming the Catholic Church
Pope John XXIII wanted to modernize the Catholic Church(link is external); reforms too place in 1960s.” By BBC News

VOICES

Why victims of Catholic priests need to hear more than confessions
“Pope Francis has criticized U.S. Catholic bishops for how they handled the pervasive sexual abuse of children by predatory priests. He even called for a new management method and mindset in dealing with this crisis. Most recently, the pope summoned presidents of every bishops’ conference from around the world to come to the Vatican on Feb. 21 through 24 for a meeting on how to respond to the pervasive scandals(link is external). As trauma psychologists who have collectively spent nearly 60 years investigating and treating the devastating effects of violation and assault, we have concrete suggestions based on clinical experience and research for such change.” By Joan Cook and Jennifer Freyd, TheConversation.com

The long road to transparency and healing in the Church
“Five months after the release of the Pennsylvania Grand Jury report, the Catholic Church is facing a number of investigations and many calls for transparency(link is external). Dioceses and religious orders have begun releasing the names of credibly accused clergy. However, questions have been raised about whether or not the grand jury report itself was misleading, in an extensive piece from Peter Steinfels, former religion reporter for the New York Times, published in Commonweal. We speak with Peter Steinfels and Kathleen McChesney, a retired FBI agent who works with the U.S. bishops on child and youth protection, about how to achieve transparency and accuracy in understanding the history of abuse in the church.” By America: The Jesuit Review

Time’s up!
“In a basketball game if you’re still holding the ball when the shot clock expires, the most jarring noise in the arena, the buzzer, sounds off loud and clear. Known as a turnover, the ball goes over to the other team. The Catholic Church in New Jersey is losing their match with the faithful. They’ve had more than ample time, decades actually(link is external), to do what is right for victims of sexual abuse. Having failed to police itself, the Church must know their time on the shot clock is about to expire.” By Tom Barrett, Insider New Jersey

CHURCH FINANCES

Catholic Charities appeals for $11M as sex scandal roils Buffalo Diocese
“Some local Catholics fuming over the Buffalo Diocese’s sex abuse scandal have threatened to hold back on gifts to the church(link is external), and the diocese soon will get a better sense of the depth of that anger. Catholic Charities – the human services arm of the diocese – on Tuesday launched its annual appeal and said it will seek to raise $11 million in support of programs that benefit more than 150,000 people. The Catholic Charities board chose to keep the goal at the same level of the past three years, even with the possibility of some Catholics withholding their giving.” By Jay Tokasz, The Buffalo News

Former Catholic Charities workers, friends accused of stealing money meant for homeless
“Federal prosecutors have accused former Minnesota charity workers and their friends of stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars originally set aside to help the homeless(link is external). The heartless scam could have bilked Catholic Charities of St. Paul and Minneapolis of $750,000, the nonprofit said in a statement ― money that state and local governments had given the charity for homeless outreach.” By Carol Kuruvilla, Huffington Post

STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS REFORM

Cardinal Timothy Dolan proves once again the Church will never reform itself without the law and civil society behind it
“New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has announced that the Child Victims Act, for which we have been fighting for 15 years, will pass this year with his full support. With both houses controlled by Democrats, the leadership of Sen. Brad Hoylman, now Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, and Assemblywoman Linda Rosenthal, he is surely correct. The barrier to passage until now has been Republican lawmakers kneeling to the Catholic bishops and in particular New York City Archdiocese’s Cardinal Timothy Dolan(link is external). The latter is not going down, though he is decidedly going down on this issue, without a final whining tour about justice for child sex abuse victims.” By Marci Hamilton, Verdict: Legal Analysis and Commentary from Justia

CLERGY CHILD SEXUAL ABUSE

A wake-up call against sexual abuse
Sexual abuse is a widely discussed topic today(link is external). It has cut across families (often in the form of domestic violence), spreads even to religious institutions, and is often used as a weapon in conflict situations. Many have experienced this humiliating trauma, and felt its stigma. We are overwhelmed and concerned about it as if it were a cancer! Few could be aware of its magnitude unless they are close to its reality. In the Great Lakes Region of Africa, consecrated women and men who have been exposed to the realities of sexual abuse were urged to address its horror through a wakeup call at two formation …” By Mary Lilly Driciru, Global Sisters Report, National Catholic Reporter

Why making clergy mandatory reporters won’t solve the Catholic abuse crisis
“The desire to protect children from abuse, both sexual and physical, has led many states to designate certain classes of people as mandatory reporters(link is external), even threatening them with jail time if they fail to report abuse. These laws vary from state to state in terms of who are listed as mandatory reporters and what they are required to report. Mandatory reporters have included teachers, nurses, doctors, child welfare officials and police. Even psychologists and psychiatrists, who normally must respect the confidentiality of what they are told by their patients, have sometimes been covered.” By Thomas Reese, Religion News Service

Proposed laws in D.C. and Virginia would require clergy to report sexual abuse
“In response to recent Catholic Church clergy sex abuse scandals, lawmakers in the District and Virginia say they will soon propose legislation that adds clergy to the list of people mandated by law to report child abuse or neglect(link is external). Both efforts hit at the hot-button intersection of child protection and religious liberty, but lawmakers are expected to give them an open reception at a time when recent sexual abuse scandals in churches and others involving athletes have prompted conversation about broadening legal responsibility to extend beyond positions such as teachers and doctors.” By Michelle Boorstein, The Washington Post

CALIFORNIA

Santa Rosa Diocese names 39 clergymen as known or alleged sex abusers
“Santa Rosa Bishop Robert F. Vasa on Saturday (Jan. 12) revealed the names of 39 priests and deacons(link is external) who church leaders say committed child sexual abuse or were credibly accused of such crimes, a disclosure that marks the most comprehensive acknowledgment of the decades-long scope of the clergy abuse scandal for the local Catholic church.” By Mary Callahan and Guy Kovner, Santa Rosa Press Democrat

Diocese of Monterey releases names of clergymen accused of sexual misconduct
“The Diocese of Monterey has released the names of 30 Clergymen who have been credibly accused of sexual misconduct with a child(link is external). According to the Diocese, the assaults go back to the 1950’s. There have been two allegations received since the Charter for Protection of Children and Young People was put into effect in 2002 and implemented in the Diocese of Monterey in 2003.” By Brandon Castillo, KION-AM News Channel

CONNECTICUT

Hartford Archdiocese identifies 48 priests accused of sexual abuse

“When John T. O’Connor retired in 1997 after 50 years as a priest, parishioners at the Church of the Holy Spirit in Newington named their parish hall after him. On Tuesday (Jan. 22), after the Hartford Archdiocese included O’Connor in a list it made public of Catholic clergymen who have been credibly accused of sexually abusing minors(link is external), the current parish priest said O’Connor’s name would be stripped from the hall.” By Dave Altimari, Jesse Leavenworth and David Owens, Hartford Courant

ILLINOIS

Clergy sexual abuse: justice before forgiveness
“The latest spate of revelations regarding Catholic dioceses in Illinois protecting and hiding sexually abusive clergy is, sadly, nothing new(link is external). In January 1976, an associate pastor at Ascension Church in Oak Park, Fr. Richard Barry ‘Doc’ Bartz, molested me during an overnight ski trip to Wisconsin. My incident with Bartz, which I reported to the Archdiocese in 1992, was not the only case of sexual abuse in Bartz’s file.” By Patrick, Navin, OakPark.com

North side Catholic priest removed from church following allegation of sexual abuse of a child
“The Archdiocese of Chicago removed a priest from a North Side Catholic church after receiving a report of an allegation that he sexually abused a child(link is external) decades prior in suburban Midlothian, according to a news release. The Rev. Patrick J. Lee, the head pastor at Our Lady of Mount Carmel in the East Lakeview neighborhood, was asked by Cardinal Blase Cupich to ‘step aside’ from ministry after someone came forward this week and reported being sexually abused as a child by Lee, according to a statement issued by the archdiocese.” By Elvia Malagon, Chicago Tribune

IOWA

Diocese issues statement on allegations
“The Diocese of Sioux City would first like to apologize to all victims of abuse by members of the clergy(link is external). We are working to do everything we can to help victims who come forward. We want to help them feel a sense of justice and healing. The Diocese of Sioux City continues to express sorrow for and to apologize to the victims of sexual misconduct by members of our clergy. We again encourage all victims, if you have not reported past or present abuse, to please come forward. The Victims Assistance hotline number is (866) 435-4397 or (712) 279-5610.” By Diocese of Sioux City in The Catholic Globe diocesan newspaper

LOUISIANA

Houma-Thibodaux names 14 priests accused of sexual misconduct involving children
“The Diocese of Houma-Thibodaux on Friday (Jan. 11) named six Catholic priests who admitted or were convicted of sexual misconduct with children(link is external) as well as three others who faced civil litigation credibly accusing them of molesting minors. Another five were credibly accused outside of a court setting of ‘serious and unacceptable conduct with minors, ranging from inappropriate physical contact … to molestation,’ bringing the total number of names on Friday’s list to 14, officials said.” By Ramon Antonio Vargas, The Advocate

MAINE

Some accused priests on Jesuits’ list played key roles at Cheverus
“Included in Tuesday’s (Jan.15) release by the USA Northeast Province of Jesuits of credibly accused priests are eight with ties to Maine(link is external). Information in this list was drawn from publicly available records, news reports and information provided by the Jesuits.” By Eric Russell and Megan Gray, Portland Press Herald

MARYLAND

Baltimore archbishop takes steps to increase reporting of abuse, seeks to move archdiocese ahead of reform
“Archbishop William Lori encouraged the more than 500,000 Catholics in the Archdiocese of Baltimore on Tuesday (Jan. 15) to report wrongdoing by clergy at all levels as part of an effort to regain public trust as church leaders worldwide confront a sexual abuse crisis(link is external). Lori outlined the expansion of a reporting system to cover himself and his three auxiliary bishops, as well as a code of conduct the bishops will sign, as steps he is taking to address any abuse up to the highest levels.” By Sarah Meehan, The Baltimore Sun

Maryland attorney general: hotline for clergy abuse victims
“Maryland’s top law enforcement official on Thursday (Jan. 10) announced a phone hotline for victims to report child sex abuse(link is external) associated with a place of worship or school across the U.S. state, which is steeped in Catholicism like few others. Attorney General Brian Frosh announced the creation of the hotline in Baltimore, home to the country’s first bishop, first cathedral, first diocese and first archdiocese. Unlike counterparts in other states that have formally announced probes into clergy sex abuse, Frosh’s office has only publicly called for victims of abusers linked to schools or places of worship to come forward.” By David McFadden, Associated Press

MASSACHUSETTS

Our opinion: diocese still dodging issue of clergy abuse
“The Catholic Church will never succeed in putting its clergy abuse scandals behind it as long as it insists on finding ways to avoid full responsibility(link is external). The latest example is the absence of The Rev. Richard J. Ahern on the Springfield Diocese’s list of clergy who sexually abused young people even though he clearly belongs there. The Rev. Ahern served churches all over the Diocese, including Our Lady of Mount Carmel on Fenn Street in Pittsfield, a church that was closed about a decade ago. Court records document his abuse of children in the diocese and a long list of allegations against him were unresolved when he died in 2001.” By The Berkshire Eagle Editorial Board

Accused priest not on the list
“The Rev. Richard J. Ahern isn’t on the Springfield diocese’s list of clergy who sexually abused young people. But the priest, who served in Pittsfield, died in 2001 with a stack of allegations against him(link is external). A decade after Ahern ended his ministry in Berkshire County, the priest’s own religious order prohibited him from hearing confessions from children, sent him to weekly therapy sessions and barred him from the diocese that includes Pittsfield and is now overseen by The Most Rev. Mitchell T. Rozanski.” By Larry Parnass, The Berkshire Eagle

MISSISSIPPI

‘A nightmare.’ May tells all, says he was abused by Mississippi priest more than 75 times
“Mark Belenchia remembers the first time he saw his would-be abuser. Belenchia was playing third base, wearing a white, wool baseball uniform with green socks pulled up to his knees. A matching green hat covered his mop of dark brown hair. He was 12 years old.(link is external)The year was 1968, and the Rev. Bernard Haddican had just arrived in Shelby, a small town nestled in the Mississippi Delta.” By Sarah Fowler, Mississippi Clarion Ledger

NEW JERSEY

First criminal case filed by new state task force on clergy abuse
“The New Jersey attorney general’s clergy abuse task force has filed its first criminal case against a Roman Catholic priest who allegedly sexually assaulted a teenage girl in the 1990s(link is external). A priest from Phillipsburg has been arrested and charged with multiple criminal counts in the sexual assault of a child who was between the ages of 14 and 17 when the abuse allegedly occurred. The arrest was made by members of the Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office assigned to the task force.” By Krystal Knapp, Planet Princeton

Ten Catholic priests with N.J. ties on new list of Jesuits accused of sex abuse
“Ten priests who spent part of their careers in New Jersey are on a new list of 50 Jesuits who have been accused of child sexual abuse(link is external). The USA Northeast Province Jesuits, an organization representing the Roman Catholic order of priests in north Jersey and several other states, released its list Tuesday. The order is the last of the regional Jesuit organizations to publicly name all priests credibly accused of abuse.” By Kelly Heyboer, NJ Advance Media for NJ.com

Catholic Church settles for $400K in five sex abuse lawsuits against New Jersey priest
Five alleged victims who say they were sexually abused by a New Jersey priest settled their lawsuits(link is external) against the Catholic Church for a total of $400,000 — and a sixth cases against him is still in court, an attorney said. The Rev. Michael ‘Mitch’ Walters was accused of molesting both boys and girls at St. Cassian Church and school in Montclair and St. John Nepomucene Parish in Guttenberg in the 1980s and 1990s. He denied the accusations and was removed from ministry in 2016.” By Kelly Heyboer, NJ Advance Media

NEW MEXICO

Santa Fe archbishop agrees to open lawsuit records
“Archbishop of Santa Fe John C. Wester agreed to open sealed state court lawsuits in priest child sexual abuse cases and pay therapy bills for survivors(link is external) during an extraordinary public meeting with several victims whose claims are now intertwined with the archdiocese’s pending bankruptcy reorganization. It was also revealed during the meeting last week Jan. 11) that the Archdiocese of Santa Fe continues to pay thousands of dollars a year to assist two priests who have been credibly accused of molesting children.” By Colleen Heild, Albuquerque Journal

NEW YORK

Diocese of Scranton launches compensation program for sex-abuse survivors
“The Diocese of Scranton on Tuesday (Jan. 22) launched its Independent Survivors Compensation Program(link is external) designed to compensate survivors of childhood sexual abuse. Participation by survivors is voluntary and the program is run independently of the diocese.” By Bill O’Boyle, Times Leader

‘Spotlight’ lawyer says Newark archdiocese blamed victims to defend predator priest
“The lawyer celebrated for going after predatory Roman Catholic clergymen in Boston accused the Archdiocese of Newark on Monday (Jan. 14) of using a blame-the-victim strategy to protect a New Jersey priest who allegedly abused five boys and a girl decades ago(link is external). Mitchell Garabedian, whose efforts were dramatized in the Oscar-winning movie ‘Spotlight,’ launched the broadside after announcing that five of the alleged victims of the Rev. Michael ‘Mitch’ Walters had settled their civil lawsuits against the Catholic Church for $400,000. The sixth case against Walters is still in court, he said.” By NBC News

NORTH CAROLINA

Why hasn’t Charlotte Catholic diocese released list of priests accused of sex abuse?
“Dozens of Catholic dioceses and religious orders across the country have, in recent months, released lists of priests who have been credibly accused of child sex abuse(link is external) over the years. In North Carolina, the 54-county Raleigh diocese published its list in October. But the Charlotte diocese, which includes the rest of the state, hasn’t yet. The state’s attorney general, Josh Stein, says the Charlotte diocese should follow the lead of the others.” By Tim Funk, The Charlotte Observer

PENNSYLVANIA

Compensation fund now in effect for victims of priest sex abuse
“The Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh’s Victim Compensation Fund is now in effect(link is external). Dioceses across the state announced its creation last month. The fund allows victims of priest sex abuse to receive monetary compensation, though none of the money comes directly from the Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh.” By WPXI-TV News

Phillipsburg priest arrested, accused of sexually assaulting teen
“Authorities arrested a Roman Catholic priest from Phillipsburg this week on allegations he sexually assaulted an underage girl(link is external) during the 1990s. The arrest of Father Thomas P. ‘Tom’ Ganley, 63, was announced in a news release late Thursday (Jan. 17) afternoon from New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal and Middlesex County Prosecutor Andrew C. Carey.” By Kurt Bresswein, LehighValleyLive.com

Archdiocese of Philadelphia places one priest on administrative leave and announces two others have been found unsuitable for ministry
“Reverend Monsignor Joseph L. Logrip has been placed on administrative leave and his priestly faculties have been restricted following an allegation that he sexually abused a minor in the early 1980s. Reverend John F. Meyers and Reverend Raymond W. Smart previously had their priestly faculties restricted. Both have been found unsuitable for ministry based on substantiated allegations that they sexually abused minors(link is external) in the early 1980s.” By Archdiocese of Philadelphia Press Release

Catholic priest sentenced to prison in Jefferson County sex abuse case
“A Catholic priest was sentenced Friday (Jan. 11) to 2½ to 14 years in state prison during an emotional proceeding at the Jefferson County Courthouse. Jefferson County Common Pleas President Judge John H. Foradora levied the sentence after reading Bible verses and quoting saints and theologians. David Poulson, 65, who was assigned to the Diocese of Erie but has been forbidden from serving as a priest and is in the process of being removed from the priesthood, pleaded guilty in October to sexually assaulting one boy and attempting to assault another(link is external) at a rural Jefferson County cabin between 2002 and 2010.” By Shelly Bradbury, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Harrisburg Catholics seeking answers after clergy sex abuse scandal pack ‘listening session’
“About 250 people attended a town-hall style meeting at a Harrisburg Catholic parish night to hear what their church was doing differently after revelations that thousands of children were molested by priests(link is external) over decades. Parishioners asked tough questions at the 7 p.m. meeting at the Saint Catherine Laboure Parish at 4000 Derry Street. It was the first in a series of planned ‘listening sessions’ by Bishop Ronald W. Gainer across the Harrisburg Diocese, which covers 89 parishes.” Christine Vendel, PennLive.com

Diocese of Hamburg to restore trust in the Catholic Church following sex abuse scandal
“Catholics in Harrisburg looking to heal following alleged child sex abuse in the church met face-to-face with their Bishop(link is external) Thursday (Jan. 10). Hundreds of people, including some sexual abuse survivors, filled Saint Catherine Labouré looking to Harrisburg’s Bishop Ronald Gainer for leadership following turmoil in the Catholic church.” By Brendan Kinney, Local21News.com

TEXAS

Police issue arrest warrant for Dallas priest after new accuser comes forward
“Dallas police have issued an arrest warrant for an Oak Cliff priest previously accused of molesting three teenagers after a new accuser reached out to investigators. Edmundo Paredes, the former longtime pastor at St. Cecilia Catholic Church, had been accused of sexually assaulting three teenage boys(link is external) more than a decade ago and stealing from his parish. The Dallas Catholic Diocese, amid a worldwide sex-abuse crisis within the Catholic Church, made the allegations public in August.” By David Tarrant, The Dallas Morning News

Sisters’ plea to the Catholic Church: ‘I want the truth to be known’
“There was a time when Monica Deanda Baez was a little girl that she prayed to God to let her die. In her family’s modest home in northeast Houston, she would climb on top of the toilet and scream out the bathroom window to God, to whomever — to whatever — would listen. ‘I would beg God,’ Baez said. ‘Please let me die, ‘cause I don’t want him to do this to me anymore.’ Baez, now 53, said for years she was sexually abused by her family’s priest(link is external). It was only later she learned that her older sister, Elodia Flores, and three of their siblings also said they suffered the same abuse by the same priest.” By Jeremy Rogalski and tina Macias KHOU-TV News

VERMONT

Catholic diocese reviews sexual abuse allegations involving 52 priests
“A lay committee created by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Burlington has identified 52 former or deceased priests accused of sexually abusing children in Vermont(link is external). The names of those with substantiated allegations against them will be released as soon as next month, Bishop Christopher Coyne said Thursday night at St. Mary’s Church in St. Albans.” By Derek Brouwer, SevenDaysVt.com

WISCONSIN

Milwaukee DA John Chisholm calls for a statewide review of Catholic Church abuse files
“Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm is calling for a statewide investigation of the Catholic Church’s response to allegations of sexual abuse of minors(link is external), similar to the Pennsylvania probe that sparked a wave of inquiries across the country. Chisholm said he would like to work with district attorneys around the state and newly elected Attorney General Josh Kaul to review all abuse allegations over the last 50 years. He said he would hope the state’s bishops would voluntarily open their files.” By Annysa Johnson, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Green Bay diocese releases list of 46 priests it knows to have sexually abused minors since 1906
“he Catholic Diocese of Green Bay on Thursday (Jan. 17) morning released 46 names of clergy with substantiated allegations of sexual abuse of minors(link is external). At a press conference on the diocesan campus, Bishop David Ricken apologized to the 98 known victims of sexual abuse by the clergy in the diocese since 1906 and called for other victims, if any, to come forward, to help make sure no abusers remain in the clergy.” By Paul Srubas, Green Bay Post-Gazette

CHILE

Chilean church abuse victims launch fresh attack on bishops
“Two victims of sexual abuse by a Roman Catholic Church priest in Chile launched a fresh attack on the country’s bishops(link is external) on Wednesday (Jan. 9), accusing them of failing to reform or learn from the crisis. Juan Carlos Cruz and Jose Andres Murillo, two prominent victims of the abuse who gave evidence of their ordeal to Pope Francis in Rome, said the pontiff had also acted too slowly in handling the crisis.” By Aislinn Laing, Reuters

FRANCE

French court to rule in March on cardinal’s alleged abuse cover-up
“A court trying a French cardinal on charges he covered up the sexual abuse of minors(link is external) by one of his priests will render its verdict on March 7, the judge in the case said yesterday (Jan. 10). The court in Lyon, southeast France, has spent the past four days trying Philippe Barbarin, the city’s 68-year-old archbishop, and five of his former aides.” By MalayMail.com

Vatican is now defendant in three Guam clergy sex abuse lawsuits
Three Guam clergy sex abuse lawsuits this week have named the Holy See, or the Vatican, as a new defendant(link is external). Attorneys for the plaintiffs said the survivors of clergy sex abuse believe they can hold the Vatican responsible under the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act’s tort exception to sovereign immunity. The survivors demand damages and repair of the Holy See’s policies for child protection, according to a joint statement from attorneys Delia Lujan, Michael Berman and Charles McDonald.” By Haidee Eugenio, Pacific Daily News

GUAM

Guam Catholic Church files for bankruptcy under shadow of abuse claims
“The Catholic Church on Guam has filed for bankruptcy in an attempt to settle 200 claims of child sex abuse(link is external). The move by the Archdiocese of Agana will allow it to avoid trial and enter settlement negotiations. Since the territory’s statute of limitations was lifted in 2016, 21 people – including a bishop, two archbishops and several priests – have been named in 200 child sex abuse lawsuits which date back to the 1940s. The bankruptcy was filed in the federal court after mediation attempts with victims’ lawyers ultimately failed.” By Radio New Zealand

IRELAND & NORTHERN IRELAND

Church response to modern abuse scandals ‘same as 30 years ago’
“As the scandal of clerical child sex abuse emerges in other countries across the world the Catholic Church response in each has been exactly as it was in Ireland decades ago(link is external), Dublin abuse survivor Marie Collins has said. ‘The church reaction is a mirror image of what we were hearing here in Ireland 30 years ago. I spoke recently with someone from Poland where the crisis is just now breaking. There the bishops are saying it is ‘enemies of the church’ who are behind it. It is an aggressive ‘media with an anti-church agenda’, all very familiar and an absolutely disgraceful attitude in 2019,’ she said.” By Patsy McGarry, The Irish Times

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Voice of the Faithful ‘Focus’ News Roundup


TOP STORIES

Cardinal George Pell to stand trial on historical sex offenses
“Cardinal George Pell, the Vatican’s third-highest-ranking official, must stand trial on several charges of sexual abuse(link is external), an Australian court ruled on Tuesday, promising to prolong a case that has already dragged on for months, and which many see as a moment of reckoning for a church racked by scandal.” By Adam Baidawi, The New York Times

Chile victims of clergy sex abuse praise talks with Pope
“Men who were sexually abused by a priest in Chile described the private talks they’ve had so far with Pope Francis(link is external) at the Vatican as very helpful and respectful Sunday. James Hamilton, one of three clergy abuse survivors the pope invited to Italy after he discounted some of their assertions, tweeted that his more than two hours of conversation with Francis were ‘enormously constructive.’” By Frances D’Emilio, Associated Press, on Cruxnow.com

In wake of abuse scandal, bishops of Chile talk resignation
“As the date for their upcoming meeting with Pope Francis approaches, several of the 32 Chilean bishops who will be in Rome to meet the pontiff(link is external) May 14-17 are speaking up, some ready to resign, and others ready to demand the resignation of a bishop accused of covering up clerical sexual abuse.” By Inès San Martin, Cruxnow.com

Australian mining town breaks its silence about grim past of sexual abuse
“Rob Walsh was outside Melbourne Magistrates’ Court recently awaiting a pretrial hearing for Cardinal George Pell, the Vatican’s third-highest-ranking official, when, he said, he unexpectedly walked into the cardinal himself. The encounter wasn’t their first. They both were raised in the same old mining town, which could be why the cardinal extended his hand, inviting Mr. Walsh to shake it. Mr. Walsh declined — a gesture that signified the lasting impact of a decades-long sexual abuse scandal(link is external) that has rocked this town, Ballarat, and sent shock waves around the world.” By Jacqueline Williams, The New York Times

Household names: Junia, Phoebe, & Prisca in early Christian Rome
“Paul’s letter to the Romans is arguably the most significant theological text in Christian history … Few readers focus on the end of the letter, where Paul greets almost thirty people in the nascent assemblies of Roman Christians. After all, it seems mostly like an ordinary exchange of pleasantries and commendations. But pay closer attention to whom Paul addresses and a surprise emerges: the status of women(link is external) in the early church in Rome.” By Michael Peppard, Commonweal

ACCOUNTABILITY

Rundown of sex abuse within the Catholic Church
“Between 1950 and 2013, the Catholic Church in the US received 17,000 complaints from people who said they had suffered sexual abuse from 6,400 clerics(link is external) between 1950 and 1980. In 2012, specialists in contact with the Vatican mooted the figure of 100,000 cases of child sex abuse in the US. Vatican finance chief Cardinal George Pell on Tuesday (May 1) became the highest-ranked Catholic ever to be sent to trial for sex offences, adding to a series of scandals facing the church globally. Here is a rundown of notable cases …” By The Straits Times

Montana diocese reaches $20M settlement with abuse victims
“The Roman Catholic Diocese of Great Falls-Billings reached a $20 million agreement to settle claims by 86 people(link is external) who said they were sexually abused as children by clergy employed by the Montana diocese dating back to the 1950s, officials said Friday (Apr. 27). The abuse happened at the hands of dozens of priests, deacons and at least one nun in Native American reservations and in towns and cities throughout the diocese’s territory across eastern Montana, attorneys for about half of the plaintiffs said.” By Matt Volz, Associated Press

Sexual abuse scandals deepen Chile mistrust in Catholic Church
“Despite a strong Catholic tradition, Chile is witnessing a growing rift between the people and the church, sharpened by a string of sexual abuse scandals(link is external) that until recently had been ignored by the pope. The extent of the rift became clear in January when Pope Francis visited Chile and sparked outrage by hugging Juan Barros, a controversial bishop who has been accused of covering up abuses by another priest in the 1980s and ’90s.” By The Sun Daily

Power of words: listening must lead to action, abuse survivors say
“Pope Francis’ planned meeting with abuse survivors from Chile could mark a turning point in how the Catholic Church(link is external) deals not just with prevention, but especially with how it responds to accusations. The pope has said he wants the four days of meetings in April to be his chance to ask for forgiveness and express his ‘pain and shame’ for what they have suffered. And Pope Francis, who emphasizes the importance of listening and learning, also sees this as a chance to hear survivors’ suggestions for how to avoid repeating ‘such reprehensible acts,’ the Vatican said April 25.” By Carol Glatz, Catholic News Service

He forced the Vatican to investigate sex abuse. Now he’s meeting with Pope Francis
“When I first interviewed Juan Carlos Cruz eight years ago, he was so ashamed about what had happened to him that he was not sure he wanted his name to be public. In his youth in Chile, he had been sexually abused by the Rev. Fernando Karadima(link is external), one of Chile’s most prominent priests … This week, Mr. Cruz and two other victims of Father Karadima’s will stay at the Vatican in an extended visit with Pope Francis, who issued an extraordinary apology this month for ‘grave errors’ in the handling of sexual abuse cases in Chile.” By Laurie Goodstein, The New York Times

POPE FRANCIS

Pope Francis in the wilderness
“Five years ago, Pope Francis was elected to be an agent of change within a church shaken by scandals and the historic resignation of Benedict XVI. He quickly became a global force in geopolitics, setting the agenda on climate change and care for migrants. World leaders wanted to be near him. Even non-Catholics adored him. Today, Francis is increasingly embattled(link is external).” By Jason Horowitz, The New York Times

A Pope given to apologies has nothing for indigenous Canada
“The past three popes have invested deeply in the forgiveness-begging business(link is external), offering official apologies for the church’s sins against Jews during World War II and Indigenous people in Bolivia, among others. But Canada’s Roman Catholic bishops said late last month that Pope Francis would not apologize in the foreseeable future for the boarding schools where, for more than a century and a half, more than 150,000 Indigenous children were forced to attend in an effort to obliterate their cultures and languages. About 70 percent of children went to schools operated by the church.” By Ian Austen and Jason Horowitz, The New York Times

CARDINALS

Meeting of the Council of Cardinals with Pope Francis
“The Council of Cardinal Advisors assembled with Pope Francis(link is external) in Rome on Wednesday (Apr. 25) for the third and last day of their 24th session … A large part of their work has been dedicated to the draft of a new Apostolic Constitution of the Roman Curia, which will be submitted to the Holy Father for his final approval … Cardinal Sean O’Malley presented to the Cardinals the efforts that have been made to protect minors and vulnerable adults in the Church.” By Joachim Teigen, VaticanNews.va

PRIESTS

Confront racism, Archbishop Gregory tells priests at federation gathering
“As a group of priests gathered to mark the 50th anniversary of their organization, there was some reminiscing, but most of the discussion was about the present and the future, including the need to fight racism, to work more closely with laity and even to re-imagine priesthood altogether … Yet, while the societal challenges have remained over the 50-year history of the NFPC (National Federation of Priests’ Councils), much has changed for priests in the United States(link is external).” By Heidi Schlumpf, National Catholic Reporter

PONTIFICAL COMMISSION FOR THE PROTECTION OF MINORS

Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors Meets in Rome
“The Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors (PCPM) met this week (Apr. 22) in Plenary Assembly in Rome. The first day of the meeting was dedicated to hearing from members of the Survivor Advisory Panel(link is external) (SAP) of the National Catholic Safeguarding Commission from England and Wales. The gathering was part of the PCPM’s ongoing commitment to ensuring that the thoughts and contributions of people who have been abused inform all aspects of the Commission’s work.” Press Release from Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors

Kiwi’s three years on the Pope’s commission
“Bill Kilgallon is looking back on his three years as a member(link is external) of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors with sense of achievement, alongside a certain sense of frustration. Mr Kilgallon’s three years term on the commission came to an end last year, and he was not reappointed to a second term, an outcome he had anticipated.” By Michael Otto, NZCatholic.org.nz

CHILD PROTECTION

Women from ‘The Keepers’ discuss experience at Baltimore conference on child sexual abuse prevention
“ Three women featured in the documentary ‘The Keepers’ renewed calls Thursday (Apr. 19) for the Archdiocese of Baltimore to release its files on the priest at the center of the Netflix series(link is external). ‘Open your books, release your records,’ Abbie Schaub said at a conference at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. Schaub, along with Lil Hughes Knipp and Teresa Lancaster, was featured in a panel at the annual symposium of the Moore Center for the Prevention of Child Sexual Abuse, which is part of the public health school.” By Alison Knezevich, Baltimore Sun

Child sexual abuse in the U.S. costs up to $1.5 million per child death
Child sexual abuse in the United States is costly(link is external), with an average lifetime cost of $1.1 million per death of female victims and $1.5 million per death of male victims, according to a new study. Researchers measured the economic costs of child sexual abuse by calculating health care costs, productivity losses, child welfare costs, violence/crime costs, special education costs and suicide death costs. They estimated the total lifetime economic burden of child sexual abuse in the United States to be $9.3 billion, based on child sexual abuse data from 2015.” By LaTina Emerson, Georgia State University Public Relations Coordinator

MASS TRANSLATIONS

Archbishop Gregory: the time is right to review Mass translations
“The archbishop who heads the U.S. bishops’ liturgy committee says that controversial changes to liturgical translations that have been fully implemented in Catholic parishes since 2011 may need to be revisited to fix ‘problematic’ sections(link is external) that fail to ‘bring the entire church together.’” By Michael J. O’Loughlin, America: The Jesuit Review

WOMEN IN THE CHURCH

Women appointed to Vatican’s doctrine office
“Pope Francis named five new consultors of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith on Saturday (Apr. 21), including three female academics and two priests(link is external) … While a Vatican spokesman was unable to confirm whether laywomen have previously served as consultors, he did confirm for CNA that women have served as staff members at the dicastery.” By CathNews.com

CHURCH REFORM

Editorial: resist outsourcing evangelization
“In a March 19 essay in the international edition of the French Catholic newspaper La Croix, church historian Massimo Faggioli offers important insights(link is external) about the role of special interest groups, influence and money in the life of the church today. In ‘The tensions between church reform and pushing an agenda,’ Faggioli writes: In the tradition of the church, reform has been driven mostly by the urgent need to correct serious deviations (for instance, simony and corruption) or to respond to new threats facing the church (such as the Holy Roman Empire’s challenge to papal authority) … Backed by big money, special interest groups, informal networks and invisible actors are today penetrating and influencing more and more institutions, including the church.” By National Catholic Reporter Editorial Staff

FUTURE OF THE CHURCH

Changes coming to Catholic parishes
Another round of church closures appears to be on the horizon(link is external) for the Catholic archdiocese of Halifax- Yarmouth. ‘We have a problem with attendance and with financial issues of the church,’ said Ervin Doak, a retired Saint Mary’s University professor, and a parishioner and volunteer at St. Thomas Aquinas and Canadian Martyrs parish in central Halifax.” By Francis Campbell, Truro Daily Herald

The Pittsburgh Diocese deadline
“Change is inevitable. We see it nationally — tax reform, tariffs, gun control. We see it regionally — fracking, medical innovation, clean energy. We see it on the job — automation, outsourcing, reorganizations, mergers. No one and nothing is immune from change, not even one of the oldest religious institutions in the world, the Catholic Church. As any practicing Catholic in the Diocese of Pittsburgh knows, Saturday (Apr. 28) at 4 p.m. is when Bishop David Zubik announces the new parish groupings(link is external) and clergy assignments that will take effect in October, known as On Mission.” By Jan Kowalski, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

VOICES

Expert says abuse of power at root of sexual abuse crisis in Church
“The center (Center for Child Protection at Rome’s Pontifical Gregorian University) works closely with the Vatican on developing polices to deal with sexual abuse and hosts numerous workshops for Church leaders from around the world. Which is why ‘Dalla parte dei piccoli’ [‘On the side of the small ones’] is sure to be discussed when it’s released in May. The book is by Angela Rinaldi, a 28-year-old Italian research assistant at the Center for Child Protection, and she argues the problem of sexual abuse in the Church ‘is a question of abuse of power(link is external).’” By Filipe Domingues, Cruxnow.com

When Americans say they believe in God, what do they mean?
“A new Pew Research Center survey of more than 4,700 U.S. adults finds that one-third of Americans say they do not believe in the God(link is external) of the Bible, but that they do believe there is some other higher power or spiritual force in the universe. A slim majority of Americans (56%) say they believe in God ‘as described in the Bible.’ And one-in-ten do not believe in any higher power or spiritual force.” By Pew Research Center: Religion & Public Life

CHURCH FINANCES

Federal appeals court affirms parish assets separate from archdiocese
“A federal appeals court upheld two lower court rulings that the assets of Catholic institutions, including parishes, are separate(link is external) from those of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis and that they cannot be consolidated with archdiocesan assets in its Chapter 11 bankruptcy. The April 26 ruling came from the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.” By Maria Wiering, Catholic News Service, in The Pilot

Okemos priest embezzlement grows to $5.4M
“An investigation of a Catholic priest had focused on a $3 million mansion he built in 2007, but new records show the alleged pilfering began long before then. The purported embezzlement started shortly after the Rev. Jon Wehrle founded St. Martha Church in 1988 and continued for 26 years, according to an audit by Plante Moran. In all, the priest is accused of taking $5.4 million from the church(link is external) from 1991 to 2017, the audit shows.” By Francis X. Donnelly, The Detroit News

Vatican continues its financial clean-up
“When it comes to clean-up of the Vatican’s troubled finances, officials often say that no news is good news. Such is the case with a 2017 report from the Financial Information Authority (AIF), in effect the Vatican’s financial watchdog unit. According to the report, suspicious financial activity in the Vatican has decreased(link is external) for the second year in a row.” By Inés San Martin, Cruxnow.com

As much as $100,000 taken from collection plate at Holy Name Cathedral, police say
“Chicago police are investigating whether former security guards at Holy Name Cathedral may have played a role in the theft of up to $100,000 from the historic church’s collection plate(link is external), according to preliminary information from police sources and the security company. No one is in custody, but multiple suspects have been identified, according to Anthony Guglielmi, a police spokesman.” By Elyssa Cherney, Chicago Tribune

Catholic church falls victim to Melbourne’s latest crime spree
“The Catholic Church, one of Victoria’s wealthiest institutions, has found itself repeatedly targeted as part of a crime spree that some believe could be an ‘inside job.’ The Sunday Age can reveal that 23 churches and religious buildings have been robbed in the past two months, with offenders potentially reaping hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of Mass collections(link is external), as well as electronic equipment, keys, and other small items … Another church source had a different view, saying that priests and lay workers were ‘fairly slack’ about putting collections and other money in safe places.” By Farrah Tomazin and Chris Vedelago, The Canberra times

Millennial philanthropy can teach Catholic Church three things
“In 2015, 84 percent of working millennials gave money to a charity. Surprised? You shouldn’t be. Growing up hearing stories of Mother Teresa, Dorothy Day, and Martin Luther King Jr. in the classroom, millennials are a decidedly socially conscious generation. They prefer to financially support organizations that have a compelling cause. More specifically, they like causes that seek to alleviate burdens associated with poverty … Can the church learn any lessons from what millennials expect from charities?(link is external) My answer — yes, and below I offer three.” By Christian Mocek, National Catholic Reporter

STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS REFORM

Child Victims Act left behind in state’s budget, kept alive by survivors
“The state budget left out the Child Victims Act — a bill supported by the governor and the State Assembly — that would have extended the statute of limitations for child victims of sexual assault(link is external), but adult survivors are not giving up. The bill never made it to the State Senate floor, so the GOP majority leader is the focus of upcoming efforts.” By Elizabeth Floyd Mair, The Altamont Enterprise Regional

CLERGY CHILD SEXUAL ABUSE

Lawyers descend on Buffalo for clergy sex abuse cases
“In the Oscar-winning movie ‘Spotlight,’ Boston attorney Mitchell Garabedian talks openly about the priest who abused his clients and the power of the Catholic Church to keep the scandal a secret … That scene was from 17 years ago, but Garabedian’s anger with the Catholic Church is still front and center, an important part of his message as he brings his high profile to Buffalo in search of sexual abuse clients(link is external) here. Garabedian is one part, a big part, of the out-of-town legal presence that arrived here when the Catholic Diocese of Buffalo announced a compensation fund for victims of clergy sexual abuse.” By Phil Fairbanks, The Buffalo News

CALIFORNIA

Second person comes forward to accuse form Redondo Beach priest of sexual abuse
“A second accuser has come forward alleging sexual abuse(link is external) by former Rev. Chris Cunningham while he served at St. Lawrence Martyr Catholic Church in Redondo Beach from 1998 to 2001. The man, now 30, contacted attorney Anthony DeMarco after reading media reports about DeMarco’s representation of a different accuser at St. Lawrence during the same time period. The attorney reached out to the Southern California News Group Thursday (Apr. 26).” By David Rosenfeld, Daily Breeze

MASSACHUSETTS

New book alleges sex abuse, coverups by Springfield bishops
“‘Death of an Altar Boy,’ a new book exploring the unsolved 1972 murder of Danny Croteau, 13, of Springfield, paints a damning portrait of then Springfield bishop Christopher J. Weldon(link is external) as man who obstructed justice and may have sexually abused a young boy in the 1950s. Drawing on more than 10,000 pages of police and court records and interviews with Croteau’s family, friends, fellow abuse victims and church officials, author E.J. Fleming (“Tread Softly: Bullying and the Death of Phoebe Prince”) looks at the killing and the only publicly named suspect — Richard R. Lavigne, a since defrocked priest who has been the subject of claims from 40 alleged victims of sexual abuse.” By Ray Kelly, MassLive.com

MICHIGAN

Man gives emotional testimony claiming Saginaw priest sexually assaulted him
“When the Rev. Robert J. ‘Father Bob’ DeLand Jr. first appeared in court on sexual assault charges(link is external), he asked a judge when he’d find out who his accusers were. Two months later, the 71-year-old Catholic priest heard testimony from two of the three males who say he molested them. The witnesses testified during two of DeLand’s preliminary examinations held the morning of April 25 before Saginaw County District Judge David D. Hoffman.” By Cole Waterman, Saginaw News

Saginaw Diocese names independent delegate to lead sex abuse investigation
“The Diocese of Saginaw, Michigan, has named an independent delegate to lead its investigation into child abuse in the diocese(link is external), while also releasing the names of several priests who have been defrocked for accusations in their past. Saginaw Bishop Joseph Cistone appeared at a press conference April 13 along with Michigan Appeals Court Chief Judge Michael Talbot, to announce Talbot’s appointment to oversee the diocese’s handling of sex abuse cases.” By James Dearie, National Catholic Reporter

MONTANA

$20M settlement reached in clergy abuse cases
“The Roman Catholic Diocese of Great Falls and Billings reached a $20 million settlement agreement(link is external) Friday (Apr. 27) with more than 80 people who say they were sexually abused by clergy as children, according to attorneys in the case.” By Corin Cates-Carney, Montana Public Radio

NEW YORK

Four priests accused of sexual abuse served at one Buffalo-area parish
“Members of Most Precious Blood Church in Angola were as stunned as any Catholics – and maybe more so – when the Diocese of Buffalo in March publicly named 42 priests who had been accused of child sex abuse. The list released by Bishop Richard J. Malone included not just one priest who served in the village parish, but four(link is external). Parishioners had no idea. ‘The sticker shock was the number, not that it had happened,’ said longtime member Karen A. Erickson. ‘The sticker shock of so many in your community was what had people talking.’” By Jay Tokasz, The Buffalo News

Men say Long Island priest who led singing group abused them in mid-1970s
“Eight men who were members of a popular youth folk group at a Catholic church in St. James in the 1970s have filed reports with the Suffolk County district attorney saying they were sexually abused as boys by the charismatic priest(link is external) who ran the group. The men filed the accusations as part of the second phase of a program established by the Diocese of Rockville Centre to compensate clergy sex-abuse victims, according to Manhattan-based attorney Michael Reck, who is representing them.” By Bart Jones, Newsday

The long road to recovery after sexual abuse
“But Father James Spielman wasn’t there to help (David) Husted. He was there to groom him for years of sexual abuse(link is external) — and Husted says, a lifetime of pain. ‘He was thought of as a God,’ Husted said. ‘He was thought of as do no wrong, such a wonderful person. He was so good at what he did, in grooming.’” By Charlie Specht, WKBW-TV I-Team

You asked, we answered: why aren’t accused priests in jail?
“It’s been two months since The Buffalo News first reported that a retired priest from the Catholic Diocese of Buffalo admitted that he sexually abused ‘probably dozens’ of teenage boys(link is external) in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Since then, The News also has published more than 30 stories related to the sexual abuse scandal within the Catholic Diocese of Buffalo. Among The News’ findings …” By Qina Liu, The Buffalo News

Two priests suspended amid probe of sexual abuse allegations
“Two Buffalo-area priests were put on leave this past weekend as the Diocese of Buffalo investigates complaints of childhood sexual abuse(link is external). Bishop Richard J. Malone suspended the Rev. Samuel J. Venne and the Rev. Arthur S. Smith from ministry due to allegations that the priests behaved inappropriately with minors.” By Jay Tokasz, The Buffalo News

Editorial: Evidence of honorable intent
“It’s anyone’s guess whether it will be enough, but no one can say Bishop Richard J. Malone isn’t putting his money where his mouth is: With the announcement that the Diocese of Buffalo is putting the bishop’s mansion up for sale(link is external), it seems clear that the local Catholic Church is serious about securing the money in needs to settle claims of sexual abuse by priests … No properties would be off limits, he pledged – even the bishop’s stately mansion on Oakland Place in Buffalo. Plainly, he meant it.” By The Buffalo News Editorial Board

PENNSYLVANIA

Pennsylvania is national leader in aggressively going after institutional child sex predators
“More than any other state, Pennsylvania is aggressively going after child sex predators(link is external). From multiple grand jury investigations into the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, a similar grand jury probe into the Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown, the prosecution of Jerry Sandusky and the investigation into systemic sex abuse of students at a New Hope private school, state prosecutors have positioned the state as arguably the most aggressive in the nation against child sex crimes. A pending grand jury investigation into six Roman Catholic dioceses in the state is poised to further ratchet up the scope of that outlook. The probe ostensibly will provide a complete look into clergy sex abuse in Pennsylvania.” By Ivey DeJesus, PennLive.com

WEST VIRGINIA

Diocese won’t name sex offenders
“The Roman Catholic dioceses of Wheeling-Charleston and Steubenville don’t plan to issue any lists of alleged sexual offenders(link is external) as dioceses in neighboring states have done in recent weeks. The Roman Catholic Diocese of Erie, Pennsylvania, and the Roman Catholic Diocese of Buffalo, New York, released lists of clergy and laity identified as being sexual abusers. The lists contained the names of living and deceased subjects. But that won’t happen here, church officials have said.” By The Weirton Daily Times

AUSTRALIA

Three years’ jail time for Catholic brother who abused boys, then moved on
“A Catholic brother who was moved by his order to other schools interstate after he sexually abused students at De La Salle College(link is external) in Malvern has been jailed for at least three years. Former De La Salle brother Frank Terrence Keating, 75, was on Friday (Apr. 20) sentenced to five years and three months in jail for indecently assaulting eight students between 1969 and 1977.” By Australian Associated Press in The Age

CANADA

Ontario jury set record punitive award against Catholic Church over priest’s abuse
“A jury has awarded $500,000 in punitive damages against a Roman Catholic religious order over a priest’s abuse of a schoolboy(link is external), accusing it of betraying the community’s trust by covering up abuse and moving a serial predator along to new posts. Rob Talach, a lawyer who represented the victim, Rod MacLeod, now 68, said the case represents the largest punitive award by a civil jury in a sexual-abuse case against the Catholic Church in Canada. Over all, the jury award in the Ontario Superior Court of Justice amounted to $2.5-million, which includes money for lost wages, suffering and lost enjoyment of life.” By Sean Fine, The Globe and Mail

Motion fails: Parliament wanted to direct CCCB on papal abuse apology
“A conservative member of Parliament blocked a motion calling on the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops to invite Pope Francis to apologize for the Catholic Church’s role in abuse(link is external) at Indian residential schools. However, Charlie Angus, a member of Parliament, said the motion would come up for debate and a vote in the House in the coming weeks. Angus is seeking unanimous government support for a motion to call on the CCCB to formally invite Francis to apologize in Canada, as requested by the 2015 report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.” By Deborah Gyapong, Catholic News Service, in National Catholic Reporter

GREAT BRITAIN, SCOTLAND & WALES

Nuns sent 11-yesr-old Scottish boy to Australia
“A witness told the Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry hearing in Edinburgh he was 11 when he was forced to migrate overseas in the 1950s. He was then sexually abused by priests(link is external)at the care home he was moved to in Tasmania, the inquiry was told. The man accused the British government at the time of robbing him of a family, a country and an education.” By Diane King, Edinburgh News

Child abuse inquiry: victims must be offered more legal support
“The long running inquiry into child sexual abuse(link is external) has recommended that victims be offered more legal support, and the rules be changed on claiming compensation. The Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA) in England and Wales is midway through its work, but has issued an interim report based on its findings so far.” Ian Woods, By Sky News

We need a public inquiry into child sex abuse in the Catholic Church
“Only a full public inquiry led by a judge will have a chance of uncovering the true extent and nature of child sex abuse(link is external) in the Scottish Catholic Church rather than its spin doctors’ highly selective version of it. Nicola Sturgeon must start that process now in the name of a little boy she once knew a long time ago. In the meantime she should request the presence of the Papal Nuncio to Great Britain, Archbishop Edward Adams, at Holyrood to ask how the Vatican intends to deal with a grossly dysfunctional Catholic leadership in Scotland, one that has betrayed its people.” By Kevin McKenna, The Herald

Child abuse investigation to look into claims at former Aberdeen children’s home
“A national child abuse investigation(link is external) will turn its focus on events at a former Aberdeen children’s home from next week. Former residents and other witnesses connected to Nazareth House on the city’s Claremont Street, are expected to give evidence to the Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry.” By Evening Express

GUAM

Three new clergy abuse lawsuits against Cepeda, Brouillard
Three new clergy sex abuse lawsuits(link is external) were filed on Monday (Aor. 30) in local and federal courts, two of them alleging abuse by former priest Louis Brouillard in the late 1960s,  and one alleging abuse by the now deceased former priest Raymond Cepeda in the mid 1980s.” By Haidee Eugenio, Pacific Daily News

Another priest, Fr. Daniel Cristobal, named in sex abuse lawsuit
“A now deceased Capuchin priest, Father Daniel Cristobal, has been named for the first time in a Guam clergy sex abuse lawsuit(link is external), which was filed Tuesday (Apr. 24) in federal court. The plaintiff, identified in court documents only as C.A. to protect his privacy, said in his lawsuit that Cristobal repeatedly sexually molested and abused him immediately after C.A. became an altar boy in or about 1979 at the Our Lady of Guadalupe Catholic Church in Santa Rita.” By Haidee Eugenio, Pacific Daily News

It takes time to rebuild trust in church after abuse scandal
“Archbishop Michael Jude Byrnes on Tuesday (Apr. 24) said it takes time to win back peoples’ trust in the Catholic Church after the clergy sex abuse(link is external) scandal broke, but he said the Archdiocese of Agana has been making headway in trying to bring a measure of justice to more than 160 victims and in preventing more abuse from happening.” By Haidee Eugenio, Pacific Daily News

IRELAND & NORTHERN IRELAND

Suspended sentence for priest who assaulted two girls at first confession
“A former priest who indecently assaulted two young girls(link is external) as they made their first confession was given an 18-month suspended sentence at Cork Circuit Criminal Court today. John Calnan, 79, now living at the Presbytery, Roman Street, Co Cork, sexually abused each girl as they went into a room alone with him to make their confession.” By RTE

ITALY

Accuser tells her story of abuse and manipulation by the ‘Archangel’
“His followers called him the Archangel. People would come from far and wide to see him, to speak to him, to touch him. The word of Piero Alfio Capuana, the 70-year-old leader of the ‘Catholic Culture and Environment Association,’ or ACCA, a lay movement in the Church, was law. In 2013, when Capuana called ‘Maria,’ at the time only 11, into his study(link is external), she says she followed. When he locked the door behind her, she says she stayed. When he told her to sit on the desk in front of him, she says she sat, and when he ordered her to take off her shirt, she says, eventually, in tears, she obeyed.” By Claire Giangravè, National Catholic Reporter

SICILY

Diocese had warnings about lay group accused of abuse for 40-plus years
“Documents obtained by Crux show that both the Diocese of Acireale on the Italian island of Sicily and the Vatican were aware since the mid-1970s that a powerful lay organization whose leaders today stand accused of sexual abuse of minor girls(link is external) was suspected of ‘deviations of a doctrinal and moral character’ and ‘true scandals’ … Despite several failed attempts in the late 1970s to impose discipline, documents and interviews show the group continued to enjoy loose approval from a string of bishops in Acireale until criminal charges were lodged by civil prosecutors in August 2017.” By Claire Giangravè, Cruxnow.com

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Voice of the Faithful Focus News Roundup


TOP STORIES

Cardinal Bernard Law, who left Boston in wake of clergy abuse scandal, dies at 86
Cardinal Bernard F. Law(link is external), whose 19-year tenure as head of the Archdiocese of Boston ended in his resignation after it was revealed he had failed to remove sexually abusive priests from the ministry, setting off a scandal that reached around the world, died Tuesday (Dec. 19). He was 86. The Vatican’s newspaper confirmed his death early Wednesday. Cardinal Law will be buried in Rome, according to a statement from his successor, Cardinal Sean P. O’Malley.” By Mark Feeney, The Boston Globe

‘Changes must be made’: shocking Australian child abuse inquiry ends
Children are still being sexually assaulted(link is external) in Australian institutions. That was the stark warning of an exhaustive five-year investigation by an Australia Royal Commission into institutional child sex abuse that concluded Thursday (Dec. 14). In a short hearing in Sydney, Hon. Justice Peter McClellan, who has headed the investigation, said the ‘nation thanks the survivors’ who gave testimony about decades of systematic abuse and cover-ups in religious and state institutions such as churches, youth groups, care homes and schools.” By Lucie Morris-Marr, CNN News

Melbourne’s Catholic archdiocese let pedophile priests free to abuse children
“Culture of secrecy inside Melbourne’s Catholic Archdiocese let pedophile priests free to abuse scores of children(link is external), a damning report by the child abuse royal commission has found. Releasing its report into the Catholic Archdiocese of Melbourne today (Dec. 5) the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse was most scathing of former Archbishop Frank Little.” By Shannon Deery, Victoria Herald Sun

Study ranks dioceses’ online financial transparency; Sacramento at top
“Separated by a continent, the dioceses of Sacramento, California, and Camden, New Jersey, are also divided by degrees of financial transparency(link is external). Parishioners in Sacramento can find out where their donations go with the click of a button on the diocesan website. Those in the Diocese of Camden, which covers southern New Jersey, will have a more difficult time. That is a takeaway from a study on financial transparency undertaken recently by Voice of the Faithful, a church watchdog group.” By Peter Feuerherd, National Catholic Reporter

Retreat restores survivors’ spark
“Grief to Grace retreat director Anne Sherston is changing the lives of abuse survivors(link is external), writes Emilie Ng in The Catholic Leader. At a Grief to Grace retreat held in Hobart earlier this year, a Catholic priest guided 17 abuse survivors through the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. For several days the survivors unpatched hidden wounds caused by traumatic abuse experiences in their childhood or adult life.” By CathNews.com

ACCOUNTABILITY

Australian church, take abuse commission report seriously or risk irrelevance
“After five intense years of inquiry and more than 400 recommendations — with 20 new recommendations specifically relating to the Catholic Church — the report of Australia’s Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse(link is external) is due a considered response. Many will rush to draw conclusions and to try and sum it up long before it is properly digested. Others will be overwhelmed by the sheer volume of issues that need to be addressed.” By Francis Sullivan, National Catholic Reporter

Australia and Catholic Church ‘failed’ abused children, inquiry finds
“A royal commission investigating the sexual abuse of children in Australia found Friday (Dec. 15) that the nation was gripped by an epidemic dating back decades, with tens of thousands of children sexually abused(link is external) in schools, religious organizations and other institutions. The commission, the highest form of investigation in Australia, urged government action on its 189 recommendations, including the establishment of a new National Office for Child Safety and penalties for those who suspect abuse and fail to alert the police, including priests who hear about abuse in confessionals.” By Jacqueline Williams, The New York Times

Archbishop Wilson stands trial in Newcastle
“Adelaide Archbishop Philip Wilson has been accused of covering up child sex abuse(link is external) by the Catholic clergy for nearly three decades. Crown prosecutor Gareth Harrison told the Newcastle Local Court on Wednesday Dec. 6) that Wilson had allegedly been involved in a number of cases where he had tried to prevent abuse claims being reported to police from between 1976 and 2004 to protect the Catholic Church.” By Australian Associated Press on 9news.com

Editorial: Integrity of Brownsville diocese in question; contrition asked of church leaders
“There is no delicate way to say this about an institution that so many believe in so fervently, and put their faith in daily. It’s for that very reason — so many entrust their lives and their faith in an afterlife with the Catholic church and its teachings — that we feel compelled to point out that the Brownsville Diocese has a serious image problem(link is external)right now and church officials must address it quickly.” By The Monitor Editorial Board

POPE FRANCIS

Pope Francis in 2017: question marks over what counts as ‘reform’
“From the beginning, Pope Francis has been labeled a ‘reformer(link is external),’ and also from the beginning, it’s been a bit unclear what exactly ‘reform’ means in his case. Is it revitalizing the public image of a Church that was emerging from an atmosphere of crisis in March 2013, changing the political and theological orientation of the Church in the direction of what some analysts call a ‘pastoral conversion,’ or the nuts-and-bolts work of cleaning house in the Vatican itself?” By Ines San Martin, Cruxnow.com

Pope Francis: poplar worldwide, but some young conservatives question his approach
“The Catholic university overlooking the Ohio River here, with a campus abounding in images of St. Francis of Assisi and a replica of his medieval chapel, shares a namesake with the current pope. But a number of students and staff at Franciscan University of Steubenville are wrestling with the question of how much else they share with Pope Francis(link is external). They admire his personal simplicity and his message of divine mercy. But at a school that emphasizes a staunch defense of Catholic orthodoxy, many stumble over what they see as Pope Francis’ ambiguity on it.” By Peter Smith, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

CARDINALS

Just some media coverage concerning the death Dec. 19 of Cardinal Bernard Law

22nd meeting of Council of Cardinals concludes
“Greg Burke, Director of the Holy See Press Office, has reiterated that Pope Francis and the Council of Cardinals are continuing to discuss curial reform(link is external). During a briefing held this afternoon in the Holy See Press Office, the Vatican spokesman informed journalists about the 22nd Session of the ‘Council of Cardinals,’ often called the “C9,” which began Monday (Dec.11) and ends this afternoon (Dec. 13) in the Vatican. Director Burke noted that the Pope participated in all, but this morning’s meeting, due to his weekly General Audience.” By Deborah Castellano Lubov, Zenit.org

PRIESTS

Permanent deacons – a solution to the shortage of priests
“While the Catholic Church in Ireland tries to address a shortage of priests there has been a concerted move to re-introduce an ancient ministry(link is external) – that of permanent deacons. One hundred men, many of them married, have been ordained to serve the community and assist priests in parishes across Ireland.” By Donna Traynor, BBC News

Ireland’s first healing circle for stressed out Catholic priests
Organizers of Ireland’s first-ever healing circle for priests(link is external) suffering from anxiety and stress have said more therapy sessions are likely to be held across the country from early next year. At least 10 priests from the Munster region attended an initial group therapy session in Parish Center in Ovens, Co. Cork on Tuesday, November 28. But the Association of Catholic Priests (ACP), which organized the workshop, said the event could be ‘the first of many,’ provided there is a strong demand from members of the clergy.” By Nick Bramhill, Irish Central

PONTIFICAL COMMISSION FOR THE PROTECTION OF MINORS

Letting abuse commission lapse, Vatican sends disappointing message
“In December 2013, Pope Francis sparked hope that the Catholic Church was (finally!) taking the scandal of clergy sexual abuse seriously. He created a group to advise him and future popes on how the church worldwide could protect children, appointing experts on the issue and even survivors of abuse to a new Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors(link is external). Now, as of this writing four years later, that commission has lapsed into an inactive state. Its members’ terms of office, as set by the group’s Vatican-approved statutes, expired Dec. 17. Neither the pope nor the Vatican have made known when or if the current members will be reappointed or new members found.” By National Catholic Reporter Editorial Staff

Pope will extend the commission for the protection of children for three more years
“Pope Francis will renew the mandate of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors(link is external) for another three years, informed sources told America this week (Dec. 15). Its membership, however, will not be announced until the New Year. While many of its current members will be renewed for a second three-year term, others will be replaced. The news, which is expected to be announced in the coming days, comes after Francis met the full commission in a private audience in the Vatican on Sept. 21. He indicated then that he wished the P.C.P.M. to continue its work, or as he put it, ‘to continue to be of great assistance in the coming years to the pope, the Holy See, bishops and major superiors throughout the world.’” By Gerard O’Connell, America: The Jesuit Review

Suspended member of papal clergy abuse commission to resign
“The member of Pope Francis’ commission on clergy sexual abuse who was suspended nearly two years ago after publicly critiquing the pope says he will now resign his post in advance of the expiration of his term(link is external) of office Dec. 17. Englishman Peter Saunders told NCR Dec. 13 he is planning to send a formal letter of resignation Dec. 15 to Boston Cardinal Sean O’Malley, the president of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors. ‘It’s just a kind of closure for me that I feel I’ve done my best for the church and the institutional church has kind of rejected me,’ Saunders said in a brief interview. ‘And so I will resign.’” By Joshua J. McElwee, National Catholic Reporter

CHILD PROTECTION

Progress on abuse reporting measure
“Leaders of a local effort to expand reporting of suspected sexual abuse of children(link is external)say they’re feeling good about chances of getting state legislators to take action on a bill this year. Members of a local committee formed to combat sexual abuse testified before the Joint Committee on Children, Families and Persons with Disabilities last week on the bill that would broaden mandated reporting of suspected abuse to include a wide range of people who work with children, including volunteer coaches.” By Rick Foster, The Sun Chronicle

Default must be to trust the victim
“In our legal system, we presume an accused person to be innocent until someone can prove otherwise. In the case of sexual assault, violence or harassment, that means the burden is on victims(link is external) to prove their trustworthiness. Often, in those cases, we are asked to choose sides based on the stories of the only two people involved — the accuser and the accused. In the post-Weinstein milieu we are now experiencing, one is a woman and the other a man who holds some level of power. In a different conversation, the victims have been children and the powerful accused have been priests.” By National Catholic Reporter Editorial Staff

CELIBACY

Abandoning celibacy won’t stop sexual abuse by priests
“Anyone committed to the protection of children should carefully study the important report by the Australian Royal Commission(link is external) into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse. But not the recommendations to the Catholic Church on celibacy and sacramental confession, which media attention has principally been focused on. The commission said the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference should press the Holy See ‘to consider introducing voluntary celibacy for diocesan clergy ‘ and argued that ‘compulsory celibacy (for clergy) and vowed chastity (for members of religious institutes) have contributed to the occurrence of child sexual abuse, especially when combined with other risk factors.’” By Thomas Reese, National Catholic Reporter

MASS TRANSLATIONS

New Zealand bishops ask ICEL to look at 1998 translation
“The New Zealand Catholic Bishops Conference will ask the members of the International Commission on English in the Liturgy (ICEL) to review the 1998 draft Roman Missal translation(link is external) in view of Pope Francis’ recent edict Magnum Principium. NZCBC president Auckland Bishop Patrick Dunn said the New Zealand bishops agreed to write to ICEL to put the possibility of using the 1998 translation under discussion when it (ICEL) meets in February.” By Rowena Orejana, New Zealand Catholic

CLERICALISM

Australian bishop urges end to clericalism
“Bishop Vincent Long Van Nguyen of Parramatta, Australia, speaking to the National Council of Priests of Australia, urged an end to clericalism in the church(link is external) and expressed hope that a newly revitalized Catholic clergy would emerge from the sex abuse crisis that has wracked the Catholic Church in Australia. He spoke Aug. 30 to the National Council of Priests in Australia, which reprinted his remarks in the December edition of The Swag, its quarterly magazine.” By Peter Feuerherd, National Catholic Reporter

Child abuse recommendations test church credibility
“The final report of the Royal Commission(link is external) into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse once more draws attention to the Catholic Church … Clerical status is important because the commission identified clericalism as a significant contributor to abuse within the Catholic Church. It defined clericalism as ‘the idealization of the priesthood, and by extension, the idealization of the Catholic Church. Clericalism is linked to a sense of entitlement, superiority and exclusion, and abuse of power.’” By Paul Hegerty, The Daily Telegraph

WOMEN DEACONS

The orthodox Church’s move on women deacons is a baby step forward
“It’s welcome news, though it is short of any goal favored by feminists, whether Orthodox or Catholic. Patriarch Theodoros II and the Holy Synod of the Patriarchate of Alexandria have decided to reinstate the order of deaconesses(link is external) in the Greek Orthodox Church. Granted, this is not a full acknowledgement of the equality of women and men, but it is a step in the right direction. And it’s a step from which the Catholic Church can learn. Indeed, Pope Francis expressed interest in this prospect in 2016, when he appointed a committee to study the matter. (It’s not clear where that committee is today in its deliberations.)” By Maureen Fiedler, National Catholic Reporter

WOMEN IN THE CHURCH

Interfaith panel describes women’s struggle for equality in religious traditions
“Decades of interfaith dialogue have demonstrated that there are many similarities among the three major Abrahamic faiths. Jews, Christians and Muslims share a common belief in one God. They share common characters, like prophets, angels and Satan. They bear similar codes of morality, social responsibility and accountability. They also share a common exclusion of women(link is external) from religious and spiritual leadership. Though some branches of Judaism and denominations of Christianity have allowed women equal participation in ministry, Islam, Orthodox Judaism, and the Roman Catholic and Orthodox Christian churches continue to dictate and enforce the idea that male superiority is ordained by God.” By Jamie Manson, National Catholic Reporter

“AMORIS LAETITIA”

‘I’m sure it will do a lot of good’
“Changes in canon law don’t come quickly, as the ongoing reception of Amoris Laetitia(link is external)since its promulgation in April 2016 is currently reminding us. But the news this week that Pope Francis has officially recognized the interpretation of Chapter VIII of the exhortation put forth by Argentine bishops indicates that change does nevertheless occur … This counts as big news, but there are also some additional interesting facts about it.” By Massimo Faggioli, Commonweal

Pope’s letter to Argentine bishops on ‘Amoris Laetitia’ part of official record
“Describing them as ‘authentic magisterium(link is external),’ Pope Francis ordered the official publication of his letter to a group of Argentine bishops and their guidelines for the interpretation of ‘Amoris Laetitia,’ his apostolic exhortation on the family. According to a brief note by Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Vatican secretary of state, Pope Francis wanted his letter and the bishops’ document to be published on the Vatican website and in the ‘Acta Apostolicae Sedis,’ the official record of Vatican documents and acts.” By Cindy Wooden, Catholic News Service, in National Catholic Reporter

VOICES

It’s not about celibacy: blaming wrong thing for sexual abuse in the church
Many factors underlie the sexual abuse crisis(link is external) in the Catholic Church … One thing you don’t see on the list of factors is celibacy. Because celibacy does not cause pedophilia. But that hasn’t stopped otherwise thoughtful pundits and commentators, and among them even some Catholics, from opining on celibacy as a cause of the crisis.” By James Martin, S.J., America: The Jesuit Review

We all helped build the wall of silence around victims of sexual assault
“Gretchen Carlson, whose sexual harassment claims led to Roger Ailes’s downfall, recently stated that ‘the culture of concealment and denial(link is external) is coming to an end’ and the Silence Breakers were just named Time Magazine’s Person of the Year. But a culture of silence does not simply end when its victims are ready to speak up. For victims to be heard, we must understand what role we play in building the silence around them.” By Guila Benchimol, Huffington Post

Whether Hollywood or the Vatican, patriarchy gives me n license to abuse
“In mid-November, at what many thought was the height of revelations about sexual misconduct(link is external) by powerful men in the media, the New Yorker Radio Hour presented a series of interviews on the fallout from the unrelenting flood of sordid tales of sexual misconduct and assault by men. In one interview, feminist author and activist bell hooks was asked about the roots of this male aggression and violence. She told New Yorker editor David Remnick that, though she had read a lot of commentaries since the first revelations about Weinstein, hardly any commentator had used the word ‘patriarchy’ to explain the root cause of all of this bad behavior.” By Jamie Manson, National Catholic Reporter

Maryville College sociology professor sees impact of culture in recent sexual harassment revelations
“Tricia Bruce’s first book, “Faithful Revolution: How Voice of the Faithful Is Changing the Church,” published in 2011, is about the lay movement that started in response to that crisis within the church(link is external). Like the child abuse within the church that came out in the early 2000s, often decades after the fact, today women are feeling safer to talk about past harassment. ‘The behavior itself is not new,’ Bruce said. ‘The question is why are people talking about it now, why is there accountability for it now.’” By Amy Beth Miller, The Daily Times

CHURCH FINANCES

Analysis: What the Vatican does to stop money laundering
“The Council of Europe’s Moneyval committee has praised the Holy See’s financial intelligence unit, the Financial Information Authority(link is external), in a report published last week. The report noted the progress the Holy See has made in establishing an effective reporting system for suspect transactions, and in its international cooperation with investigation and reporting of financial irregularities. The report recommended that the financial authority “actively pursue” pending criminal cases of money laundering.” By Andera Gagliarducci, Catholic News Agency

Vatican needs to strengthen fight against financial crime, Moneyval says
“The Vatican earned praise from Council of Europe experts for its updated legislation against money laundering and for its vigilance in flagging suspected cases, but the committee said the effectiveness of the Vatican efforts could not be proven(link is external) until Vatican courts actually prosecuted someone for a crime. Moneyval — the Council of Europe’s Committee of Experts on the Evaluation of Anti-Money Laundering Measures and the Financing of Terrorism — released a progress report on the Vatican’s efforts Dec. 8.” By Cindy Wooden, Catholic News Agency, in National Catholic Reporter

Brownsville Diocese scores low on openness
“The Catholic Diocese of Brownsville was among the lowest scoring(link is external) U.S. dioceses in terms of online financial transparency, according to a study released Nov. 7 by Voice of the Faithful. The nonprofit group originally formed to support survivors of clergy sexual abuse but also advocates for “accountability and transparency” in how the church handles its financial resources. However, a spokeswoman for the diocese said an initiative was already underway to make more financial information available online.” By Steve Clark, The McAllen, Texas, Monitor

The Catholic Church and financial transparency
“Sunday collections and annual appeals: How transparent is your Catholic diocese or archdiocese(link is external)? Do they post audited financial statements on their websites? How are cash donations protected from theft? Recent survey results make me feel as insecure as a basket of $20 bills in an empty room.” By Suzette Martinez, Bucks County Courier Times

Inquiry launched into financial records of Subiaco’s St. Joseph church
“A spokesman for Archbishop Timothy Costelloe confirmed Church administrators had begun a review of the books at the parish of St Joseph(link is external) to ensure ‘professional governance’ and to demonstrate ‘due diligence.’ ‘The Catholic Archdiocese of Perth Administration Centre received several queries raised by a parishioner/parishioners of the Subiaco Parish pertaining to the parish’s finances,’ the spokesman said.” By Nick Butterly, The West Australian

Man gets five years for embezzling $134,000 from UNC’s Catholic parish
“A former administrator was sentenced Monday (Dec. 4) to nearly five years in federal prison for embezzling more than $134,000(link is external) from UNC’s Newman Center Catholic parish. Brian Lee Cansler, 27, of Chapel Hill, pleaded guilty in May to three felonies: fraudulent use of a credit card, bank fraud and aggravated identity theft. Five additional federal charges were dismissed.” By Tammy Grubb, The Herald Sun

Latest Vatican mystery raises more questions about pope’s financial reform
“Perhaps not entirely coincidentally, unhappy news from the Vatican sometimes has a habit of breaking when the pope is out of town, and thus the media spotlight is momentarily somewhere else. When the Vatican decided to put a couple of former officials from a papally-sponsored pediatric hospital on trial(link is external) in early September for financial misappropriation, for instance, they started the proceeding on the day Pope Francis left for a much-anticipated trip to Colombia, apparently hoping it would be wrapped up before he got back.” By John L. Allen, Jr., Cruxnow.com

STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS REFORM

Advocates demand state senators change child sex abuse law
“Advocates on Monday (Dec. 18) gathered outside the offices of two state senators to press them to help get a long-stalled bill passed in Albany that would temporarily lift the statute of limitations in child sex abuse cases(link is external). The dozen protesters, including victims, university professors and supporters, said the “#MeToo” movement exposing sexual harassment against women is giving renewed life to their campaign, which started more than a decade ago.” By Bart Jones, Newsday

Judge’s ruling disappoints attorney
“A local attorney said Monday (Dec. 18) that he is disappointed with the recent ruling by a Blair County judge, concluding that the statute of limitations has expired(link is external) for a woman who last year filed a civil lawsuit, revealing that she was sexually molested, as a youth, by her priest. The ruling prevents Renee Rice from having her day in court, Altoona attorney Richard Serbin said Monday (Dec. 18).” By Kay Stephens, Altoona Mirror

CLERGY CHILD SEXUAL ABUSE

Catholic priest released from jail, but has no apology for sexual assaults
“A former Catholic priest who sexually assaulted young girls(link is external) over three decades has been released from jail after spending four years behind bars. Now 81, he was freed at the earliest possible opportunity, but when confronted by Seven News there was no apology for his actions.” By Laura Banks, 7News Sydney

In sex abuse cases, an expiration date is often attached
“Statutes of limitation are devised to protect people and institutions from false allegations that are impossible to defend because evidence is stale, witnesses are dead and documents have been lost. But as schools increasingly confront sexual abuse carried out against children in their care, sometimes decades ago, the statutes have also become a way for them to avoid paying victims(link is external).” By Elizabeth Harris, The New York Times

We must start believing victims of child abuse
“‘Who did you tell?’ ‘What did they do after you told them?’ These are questions I ask almost every child that I interview. The answers are important; they tell me not just who the child trusts, but also about that child’s history, including what their life as a survivor of childhood sex abuse(link is external) has been like. I am a child abuse pediatrician, specializing in the care of children with concerns for neglect, physical abuse, and sexual abuse. The majority of my work is in sexual abuse, and I am often called to court to explain not only physical exam findings, but the process of disclosure. Most commonly, I explain why children wait to tell.” Editorial by Observer-Reporter

CALIFORNIA

Former Davis priest gets sex charge reduced, dismissed
“A former Davis priest convicted in 2014 of having a sexual relationship with an underage girl(link is external) returned Friday to Yolo Superior Court, where a judge granted his petition to reduce the felony charge to a misdemeanor and dismiss the count.” By Lauren Keene, Davis Enterprise

KANSAS

Catholic priest in Kansas City, Kansas, ordered to trial in indecent liberties with child case
“A 13-year-old girl testified Friday (Dec. 8) that twice when she was 10, a Kansas City, Kan., Catholic priest tickled her breasts against her wishes. A Wyandotte County District Court judge ruled the testimony at the preliminary hearing was sufficient to proceed toward a trial of the Rev. Scott Kallal, 36, who is charged with two felony counts of aggravated indecent liberties(link is external) with a child. The incidents allegedly occurred in 2015 but the police report was not filed until July, when Kallal was suspended and charged.” By Matt Campbell, The Kansas City Star

LOUISIANA

Diocese reports investigation of sexual misconduct involving local priest
“The Catholic Diocese of Baton Rouge said it has informed civil authorities of an allegation of sexual misconduct(link is external) involving a local priest, but its own internal inquiry has not substantiated the allegations. In a statement late Saturday (Dec. 16), the Diocese released not only the name of the priest – identified Fr. Eric Gyan of St. Theresa Avila Parish in Gonzales – but also the allegation: misconduct that allegedly occurred in 1996. The Diocese said the woman, now in her thirties, wrote to the Catholic church of misconduct by Fr. Gyan when she was a minor. At the time, the woman said, Fr. Gyan was pastor of a parish in Brusly.” By Trey Schmaltz, WBRZ-TV

MAINE

Ex-priest with long history as a sex offender pleads not guilty to new charges in Maine
“A former Jesuit priest and longtime Cheverus High School teacher pleaded not guilty Friday (Dec. 1) to charges that he sexually abused a 9-year-old boy(link is external) at a Freeport church nearly 20 years ago. James Francis Talbot, 80, appeared Friday in Unified Criminal Court in Portland. He has been held in the Cumberland County Jail since Wednesday, when he was extradited from Missouri.” By Eric Russell, Portland Press Herald

MISSOURI

Novice of credible allegation of abuse dating to 1950
“The diocese recently received an allegation of sexual abuse of a minor(link is external) by Father Sylvester Hoppe dating to 1953 to 1956. The priest, who died in 2002, was chaplain to St. Mary’s Orphanage in St. Joseph at the time. Consistent with diocesan policy, the allegation was reported to the civil authorities and investigated. It was found credible by the independent ombudsman, Independent Review Board and Bishop Johnston. Several prior allegations have been received against Hoppe since 2002. He also was the subject of two lawsuits claiming child sexual abuse that the diocese settled in 2008.” By The Catholic Key

MONTANA

Victims: $70 million in assets from Montana Catholic parishes at stake in clergy-abuse settlement
“More than $70 million in assets at Catholic parishes in Eastern Montana, including in Billings, could be at stake as part of the regional diocese’s bankruptcy amid claims of sexual assault(link is external) stemming back to the 1950s. Survivors of sexual assault at the hands of priests and nuns dating back to the 1950s say the Great Falls-based diocese has understated its total assets by not including properties held in local parishes, according to documents filed Monday (Dec. 18) in federal bankruptcy court in Butte.” By Erik Olson, KTVQ-TV

NEW YORK

Legal group adds to list of Brooklyn priests names in child abuse cases
“A report sent to media outlets by an attorney group on Thursday (Dec. 14) details abuse allegations against 65 priests(link is external) at the Brooklyn Diocese, including eight priests who have never been publicly identified as abusers. The report comes out just days before a filing deadline to receive compensation provided by the diocese to abuse victims.” By Mary Frost, Brooklyn Daily Eagle

New York archdiocese stresses commitment to aiding victims of clergy abuse
“Nearly 200 sex abuse victims of clergy(link is external) in the New York archdiocese have received compensation through a program the archdiocese says shows the Church’s willingness to reach out to and listen to victims. ‘At a time when nearly every institution that involves minors has had to face allegations of abuse, the Church is now a model in how to respond to this horror,’ the Archdiocese of New York said Dec. 7. Since its program launched last year, the archdiocese has compensated 189 victims of archdiocesan clergy abuse in amounts totaling more than $40 million.” By Catholic News Agency

Archdiocese pays three local men $250,000 each after priest-abuse claims
“Three Hudson Valley men abused by a Catholic priest decades ago will receive $250,000 each in compensation from the New York Archdiocese, according to their Kingston lawyer. Joe O’Connor of Mainetti, Mainetti & O’Connor confirmed the payouts Friday (Dec. 8). The money from the Archdiocese was authorized after a review of the claims the three men filed with the Independent Reconciliation and Compensation Program(link is external).” By Paul Brooks, times Herald-Record

New York Catholic Church pays $40 million to clergy sex abuse victims
“Just over $40 million in compensation has been paid to 189 people who identified themselves as victims of clergy sex abuse(link is external), the Archdiocese of New York said in a report released Thursday (Dec. 7). The archdiocese noted that the Independent Reconciliation and Compensation Program ended Nov. 30, but some additional claims are still being processed. Money for the payouts came through a long-term loan.” By CBS News

NORTH DAKOTA

Former Fargo priest facing sexual abuse charges has been extradited
“A former Fargo priest who faces child sexual abuse charges(link is external) has been extradited from the Philippines to the United States. Fernando Laude Sayasaya was extradited to face state child sexual abuse charges filed 15 years ago in Cass County District Court, U.S. Attorney Christopher C. Myers announced Friday. Sayasaya was arrested in the Philippines last month.” By Forum News Service in The Bismark Tribune

PENNSYLVANIA

Judge tosses lawsuit against suspended priest
“A lawsuit against a former Cambria County Catholic priest was tossed by a Blair County Judge on Friday (Dec. 15) because it didn’t fall within the state’s statute of limitations guidelines(link is external). In her ruling, Blair County Judge Jolene G. Kopriva called the two sisters’ claims ‘untimely’ because they were filed more than three decades after incidents against them occurred.” By David Hurst, The Tribune-Democrat

TENNESSEE

Victims of abuse in the Catholic Church find help locally
“In the wake of the hashtag #MeToo Movement initiated by ‘The Silence Breakers,’ women who spoke out against sexual abuse and assault and the allegations of sexual misconduct(link is external) that spans from the United State Senate, to prominent journalists, to Hollywood, one local diocese is offering help to local victims abused by a member of the Catholic Church.” By Janeen Gordon, WMCA-TV

WISCONSIN

Priest led away in handcuffs after judge hands down 1-year sentence for sexual contact with child
“It started when she was in first grade, when she still had her baby teeth. Robert Marsicek, a priest she trusted, repeatedly molested her(link is external) at a Catholic school in Wauwatosa. ‘My little self thought it was OK and I thought that this was normal,’ she said.”  By Ashley Luthern, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

AUSTRALIA

Catholic bishop warns parishioners that a pedophile priest who raped and abused young girls is set to be released from prison
“A Catholic bishop has taken the rare step of writing to parishioners about a pedophile priest who is about to be released from jail(link is external). Father Finian Egan, 81, is walking out of Sydney’s Long Bay prison on Tuesday (Dec. 19) He was sentenced in 2013 to eight years behind bars for rape and seven counts of indecent assault on young girls during the 1960s to 1980s.” By Stephen Johnson, The Daily Mail Australia

The child abuse commission didn’t flinch. Can Australia show the same courage?
“It’s huge. Don’t believe anyone who tells you they’ve already absorbed its lessons. Digesting the 17 volumes of the report of the royal commission into institutional responses to child sexual abuse(link is external) is a work in progress for the nation. It’s going to take time. Journalists and economists are given a head start on the Australian federal budget each year: a few hours’ lockup to help them get on top of the budget before it’s delivered. We – survivors, bishops, lawyers and journalists – should have been locked up with this for a week.” By David Marr, The Guardian

‘I was abused, too’: the bishop who fought for sex abuse victims
Bishop Geoffrey Robinson(link is external) was born into a world of faith. But in another life, it’s quite likely that he would have been happier as a family man and may not even have been a priest. The retired Catholic bishop is aghast when he looks at 12-year-old boys today because at that tender age his mother, a good Irish Catholic, sent him to the seminary.” By Anne Kim, Eternity News

Royal Commission: support workers pay tribute to ‘remarkable’ abuse survivors
“To be heard, to be listened to, and to be believed. That’s what survivors of sexual abuse deserve(link is external), say the lawyers and social workers who have supported thousands of people who shared their tragic stories with the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Abuse, to be handed down on Friday (Dec. 15).” By Miki Perkins, The Sydney Morning Herald

George Pell: complainants to give evidence on historical sexual offense charges over two weeks
“It is expected to take up to two weeks for the complainants against Cardinal George Pell(link is external) to give their evidence at an upcoming committal hearing, a Melbourne court has heard. The 76-year-old will face the pre-trial hearing in March next year on historical sexual offence charges, involving multiple complainants. No other details of the case can be reported for legal reasons.” By Emma Younger, ABC News Australia

Catholic Church Ballarat Diocese looks toward change after Royal Commission
“It will come as no surprise to anyone who has followed the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse to hear Anne Levey has not stepped foot inside a Catholic church for more than two years(link is external). Her son Paul’s tale of being sent to live with notorious pedophile priest Gerald Ridsdale in Mortlake in the mid-1970s was among the most harrowing heard across more than two years of testimony.” By Brendan Wrigley, The Courier

Victims fear abuse royal commission report will be shelved
“While survivors are grateful their voices have finally been heard and cover-ups exposed, there are concerns over what happens after the five-year institutions sexual abuse inquiry(link is external) ends on Friday (Dec. 8). There is a lot of hope but also much anxiety and a real lack of certainty, survivor and activist Dr Cathy Kezelman says.” By Megan Neil, Australian Associated Press, on News.com.au

Church revealed for all its ‘hypocrisy and self interest’
“Francis Sullivan, the chief executive of the Truth, Justice and Healing Council(link is external) that was set up to coordinate the Catholic Church’s response to the Royal Commission into Child Sexual Abuse, has said the Church ‘has scandalized the faithful and those who rely on it as a moral compass and prudent guide.’” By Mark Broily, The Tablet
— Royal Commission slams Catholic Church leaders(link is external)By Monique Patterson, The Standard
— Sullivan calls for further Church reforms(link is external)By CathNews.com

Archbishop Wilson ordered to face court
Adelaide Archbishop Philip Wilson(link is external) has been ordered to travel to Newcastle to face court this week (Dec. 4) if he is cleared to stand trial by a specialist doctor. Archbishop Wilson, 67, was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease in recent weeks, which his legal team has argued has impacted his ‘cognitive function.’ He was due to stand trial last week — more than 30 months after he was charged — on one charge of concealing a serious indictable offense.” By CathNews.com

Rush on abuse deals before scheme
“Some institutions are rushing to lock child sexual abuse survivors(link is external) into accepting top-up damages payments before a national redress scheme comes into effect, advocates say. A number of institutions are ‘herding people through’ before the mid-2018 start of the federal government’s redress scheme, church abuse victims’ advocacy group Broken Rites spokesman Wayne Chamley says.” By Megan Neil, Australian Associated Press, on News.com.au

CANADA

Retired western Newfoundland Catholic priest George Smith jailed again for sex crimes
“The victim impact statement filed in the sex abuse case of George Ansel Smith(link is external) was gripping. ‘I haven’t had the chance to live yet, I’ve only existed,’ read the words of the man who was abused as a boy by the Roman Catholic priest.” By Gary Kean, The Western Star

One-man play chronicles how ‘the force’ saved sexual abuse survivor’s life
“In an alternate universe, the force has moved mountains, dethroned despots and fine-tuned fighting instincts. For Nicholas Harrison, the force has had a more tangible application — it saved his life. Harrison is at the helm of a one-man show called How Star Wars Saved My Life, an 80-minute long play that debuts at Performance Works on Granville Island Dec. 6. The production hones in on Harrison’s experiences as a survivor of sexual and physical abuse(link is external) and how he reconciled those episodes of abuse as a teenager, and then as an adult.” By John Kurucz, Vancouver Courier

GREAT BRITAIN, SCOTLAND & WALES

Former abbot Laurence Soper convicted of sexually abusing boys at Catholic schools
“The former Abbot of Ealing Abbey, Laurence Soper, has been convicted of abusing 10 boys(link is external) at a Catholic-run school in the 1970s and 80s. Andrew Soper, 74, was found guilty on Wednesday (Dec. 6) afternoon of 19 individual rape and sexual offences of offences after a trial at London’s Old Bailey. Soper sexually abused 10 boys while he was a teacher at St Benedict’s School, Ealing. He would abuse them after hitting them with a cane, the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) said.” By Rose Gamble, The Tablet

Woman abused by Caldey Island monk tells of lasting impact
“A victim of a monk who abused girls on Caldey Island(link is external) has described how she took drugs to numb the emotional pain and eventually fled the UK to escape the memories. Alice – not her real name – told the Guardian her earliest memories were of the monk, Thaddeus Kotik, and how he lured her with sweets and pets into dens he had set up around the remote island off the Welsh coast.” By Amanda Gearing and Steven Morris, The Guardian

After waiting years to be heard, the children of Smyllum tell their heartbreaking stories
“The witnesses wept too as their stories unfolded. The children’s home – run by a Catholic order of nuns called the Daughters of Charity of St Vincent De Paul from 1864 to 1981 – is one of more than 60 institutes being looked at by the inquiry (Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry). But it’s the first to come under scrutiny by the inquiry which is examining cases of abuse from the 1930s onwards(link is external).” By Gordon Blackstock, The Sunday Post

Victim of pedophile priest left so traumatized he attempted suicide
“A man who endured years of sexual abuse(link is external) at the hands of a priest was so traumatized he turned to self-harm and extreme suicide attempts. Father John Kevin Murphy, 93, used his position of trust to groom four boys during the 60s and 70s while working as a priest at St Luke’s Parish in Whiston and the attached St Edmund Arrowsmith Catholic School.” By Josh Parry, Liverpool Echo

GUAM

Notary for Vatican tribunal quits amid allegations
“The notary for the Vatican tribunal who came to Guam to investigate child sex abuse allegations against Archbishop Anthony Apuron(link is external) has resigned from his position at the Vatican’s Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faithful. Rev. Justin Wachs, the notary and recorder for the tribunal, resigned from his Vatican appointed position for ‘personal and professional reasons,’ according to a letter from Sioux Falls, South Dakota Bishop Paul Swain’s letter to clergy dated Nov. 29.” By Mindy Aguon, The Guam Daily Post

Brouillard allegedly raped altar boy in Tumon church decades ago
“Former Guam priest Louis Brouillard allegedly raped an altar boy who was sleeping over at the rectory(link is external) of the Tumon church in the late 1970s, according to a lawsuit filed Wednesday (Dec. 6) afternoon in the U.S. District Court of Guam.” By Steve Limtiaco, Pacific Daily News

Judge limits defendants’ disclosure of clergy sex abuse accusers’ identities
“U.S. District Court Chief Judge Frances Tydingco-Gatewood ordered attorneys for the defendants in dozens of clergy sex abuse lawsuits(link is external) to limit their disclosure of the true names of accusers who are identified only by their initials in court documents. In a Nov. 30 blanket order in at least 101 clergy sex abuse cases, the chief judge said defendants’ attorneys shall not disclose plaintiffs’ true names’until that person has certified in writing that the person is either an insurer or an investigator for the defendants or their counsel and further assures that the true names shall not be disclosed to any other person.’” By Haidee Eugenio, Pacific Daily News

IRELAND & NORTHERN IRELAND

Reporting of suspected child abuse becomes mandatory
“The Irish Association of Social Workers has criticized the HSE for failing to appoint designated liaison persons to oversee the handling of allegations of child abuse(link is external) that are brought to its attention. The criticism comes on the day mandatory reporting of concerns about child welfare has been introduced by the Government.” By RTE

Dutch Catholic church sexual abuse bill soars as hotline closes down
(Dec. 18, 2017) “In total, 3,712 people have reported being victims of sexual abuse(link is external)within the Catholic church to a special hotline set up in 2010 and the cost of dealing with the eight-year scandal could be as much as €60m. Of all the reported cases to the hotline, 2,062 became official complaints and 1,002 cases were declared justified. Several hundred were not accepted because of a lack of supporting evidence, the final report from hotline officials said.” By DutchNews.nl

SICILY

Pedophile priest arrested in Sicily
“For the last three years, a priest who worked in the village of Sant’Agata, on the southern outskirts of Catania, (abused those who) would have been entrusted to him(link is external). Not only would he frighten those who did not want to undergo his ‘rites,’ (he) carried (them) out with a great deal of holy oil. The Carabinieri (one of Italy’s police corps) arrested him this morning: Father Pio Guidolin is accused of aggravated sexual violence against minors.” By Fabio Albanese, La Stampa

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Voice of the Faithful “Focus” News Roundup


TOP STORIES

Pope Francis rebukes Cardinal Sarah on liturgy
“Pope Francis has publicly corrected Cardinal Robert Sarah(link is external), Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, in a letter released by the Vatican on Oct. 22, 2017. In that letter, the pope informs the cardinal that the commentary attributed to Sarah on the motu proprio ‘Magnum Principium,’ regarding the translation of liturgical texts, is not a faithful and correct interpretation of that papal decree.” By Gerard O’Connell, America: The Jesuit Review
— Francis corrects Sarah: liturgical translations not to be ‘imposed’ from Vatican(link is external)By Joshua J. McElwee, National Catholic Reporter
— Pope tells Sarah power is indeed shifting from Rome to the bishops(link is external)By Crux Staff on Cruxnow.com
— Expert says on liturgy, Pope isn’t settling scores but harvesting fruits(link is external)By John L. Allen, Jr., and Ines San Martin, Cruxnow.com

Clerical sex abuse disclosures skyrocket in Pope’s Argentina
“Karen Maydana says she was 9 years old when the Rev. Carlos Jose fondled her at a church pew facing the altar. It was her first confession ahead of her first Holy Communion. She blames the trauma of that moment(link is external) in 2004 for a teenage suicide attempt. And yet she never spoke about it publicly until this year. After hearing that two women who attended her school in the Argentine town of Caseros were allegedly abused by the same priest, she joined them as complainants in a case that in July led to his arrest for investigation of aggravated sexual abuse.” By Luis Andres Henao and Almudena Calatrava, Associated Press

Ex-president of Vatican hospital convicted of abuse of office
“The former president of a Vatican-owned hospital in Rome on Saturday (Oct. 14) was convicted of abuse of office(link is external) for diverting nearly half a million dollars of funds to renovate a top cardinal’s luxury apartment. The Vatican court, a three-judge panel, gave Giuseppe Profiti a one-year suspended sentence. The prosecution had asked for three years for the former head of the prestigious Bambino Gesu hospital. It also reduced the seriousness of the charge against Profiti to abuse of office from the initial embezzlement. Massimo Spina, the hospital’s treasurer, was acquitted.” By Philip Pullella, Reuters, in U.S. News & World Report

Pope Francis endorses internet safety resolution
“For three days last week (Oct. 3-6), about 150 experts in technology, child safety, medicine, mental health and theology gathered in Rome at the Child Dignity in the Digital World Congress(link is external) to talk about how to keep kids safe online and protect children from sexual exploitation. On the final day, the group had an audience with Pope Francis, who endorsed the Declaration of Rome, a 13-point manifesto that outlines the group’s goals for keeping children safe.” By Larry Magid, The Mercury News

ACCOUNTABILITY

Unfinished
“Four years ago in September, I sat at the kitchen table in the rectory reading the newspaper. I was a parish pastor and had been serving parishes and schools for over 23 years. I saw the headlines and was disturbed(link is external). There was yet another story on clergy sexual abuse. I felt angry at Church leaders and fighting attorneys. I felt frustrated that this issue had been going on since before I was ordained. I felt sadness and compassion for victims and their families.” By Father Charles Lachowitzer, The Catholic Spirit, Archdiocese of Stain Paul & Minneapolis

POPE FRANCIS

The new art of pope-watching
“Monsignor Vincenzo Tizzani, one of the most remarkable witnesses of papal Rome’s nineteenth-century transition from temporal power to a landless spiritual authority, observed in 1871: ‘In the halls of the Vatican the human heart very rarely shows itself.’ He was talking about the studied subtleties of the court of Rome, where the pope, a supposedly absolute monarch, was far more dependent(link is external) on his ecclesiastical nobility than other monarchs. That kind of papal court does not exist anymore; the world of more-or-less formalized clienteles is gone, or, better, those clienteles have changed names.” By Massimo Faggioli, Commonweal

BISHOPS

What is Pope Francis’ approach to appointing new bishops?
“Among the most lasting aspects of a Pope’s leadership(link is external) is his appointment of bishops. To understand a Pope, it’s important to understand how he makes decisions about episcopal leadership. With that in mind, Pope Francis’ approach to the selection and appointment of bishops is worth considering.” By Andrea Gagliarducci, CAN/EWTN News, in The Pilot

CELIBACY

‘Priests should be allowed to marry,’ says Derry clergyman
“Fr. Paddy O’Kane, of Holy Family Church in Ballymagroarty, said the move could help address the global shortage of Catholic priests. A quarter of Catholic parishes worldwide now have no resident priest. Fr. O’Kane said the Church may have to ‘take another look at celibacy(link is external) and women priests. Many priests might choose to be celibate, but for those who want to get married it should be an option,’ he said.” By BBC News Northern Ireland

PRIESTS

Does a Catholic priest have any standing to talk about Harvey Weinstein?
“My voice isn’t really credible on this topic, I get that. In fact, I respect it. Even though so much was before my time, even though I had nothing to do with it, I get it. I understand that I have no standing here, that it’d be better and wiser simply to be quiet, hold my tongue. As a priest of the Catholic Church(link is external), I get the near ironic hypocrisy of me saying anything at all. I get it, the anger still smoldering, blazing in some, in the hearts of those wounded by our crimes. I accept it, and I will continue to accept it. Because there’s something about their anger that is just, even holy … But I’m a strange priest, you see, married before I was ordained, I have three daughters and a son, all under 8. And so I see all this, even my own church, with another pair of eyes, that is, with a parent’s eyes.” By Joshua, J. Whitfield, Dallas News

WOMEN IN THE CHURCH

What was Paul doing crashing a woman’s worship service?
“For the past several days, I have been boning up on St. Paul’s ministry in Greece as I prepare to lead a FutureChurch pilgrimage to early Christian sites where women had founding leadership roles(link is external). Most Christians are completely unaware that women helped establish many of the earliest churches in Greece, Turkey and Rome. This is because church tradition always credits their founding to Paul.” By Christine Schenk, National Catholic Reporter

New scholarship offers hope to women who long to be ordained in Catholic Church
“‘There is always a moment in childhood when the door opens and lets the future in,’ Graham Greene writes in his novel The Power and the Glory. For Sheila Durkin Dierks, that moment came around the age of 5 or 6 when she was playing priest(link is external). ‘I can still see the light and feel the air in the room,’ Durkin Dierks said in a recent interview with Women’s Ordination Conference. ‘And I said to my mother that I intended to be a priest when I grew up.’” By Jamie Manson, National Catholic Reporter

FUTURE OF THE CHURCH

Participation in lay ministry training programs down 16 percent
“A study released this summer by the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA) at Georgetown University indicates a 16-percent drop in participation in lay ministry training programs(link is external) over the past year. Zeni Fox, a retired professor of pastoral theology at Seton Hall University, wrote her doctoral dissertation on such programs. She told NCR that the numbers could be an indication that such programs are being increasingly abandoned by dioceses.” By Peter Feuerherd, National Catholic Reporter

Can the Catholic Church keep millennials from passing it by?
“August 15 marked two important events for New York-area Catholics this year. It was the feast of the Assumption of Mary. It was also the start of the Subway Series between the New York Yankees and the New York Mets. The Diocese of Bridgeport decided to celebrate both, with an event billed as ‘Baseball with the Bishop(link is external),’ which is exactly what it sounds like. Young adults of the diocese were invited to attend the game. The group began the evening with Mass in Bridgeport, Conn., before boarding a charter bus bound for the Bronx.” By Zac Davis, America: The Jesuit Review

Catholics of color are keeping the U.S. Catholic Church alive
“As an African-American Catholic, I often feel like the unnamed black man from Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man, present but not really seen … The truth is, the Catholic Church in the United States is being transformed by its black and brown parishioners(link is external), whose numbers and voices are rising. They and priests from around the world are keeping the church alive. When the National Gathering for Black Catholic Women met in Charlotte a few years ago, I connected with my sister, still holding strong in her Baltimore parish—transformed from white to black and offering services with hymns, praise dance and more emotion than the services of our youth. Yet the parishioners are as devout when it comes to the celebration of the Mass.” By Mary C. Curtis, America: The Jesuit Review

“AMORIS LAETITIA”

Those pesky privileges
“In a brief commentary at the Catholic Thing, Fr. Gerald E. Murray rebukes Cathleen Kaveny and Fr. Anthony Spadaro, S. J., for contradicting the ‘plain meaning’ of Christ’s teaching(link is external) about divorce and remarriage at a recent conference on Amoris laetitia. Murray, a canon lawyer, has been a vocal critic of Amoris Laetitia since its publication, and his criticism of Kaveny and Spadaro is really just an extension of his earlier criticism of Pope Francis and Cardinal Kasper.” By Matthew Boudway, Commonweal

Let ‘Amoris Laetitia’ be heard
“Amoris Laetitia, Pope Francis’s 2016 apostolic exhortation, is translated as “The Joy of Love,” but its reception over the last year has been anything but patient and kind(link is external). A richly textured if occasionally unwieldy document that stretches to over two-hundred pages, the controversy it’s generated has almost entirely focused on one chapter—even one footnote—that raises the issue of divorced-and-remarried Catholics receiving Communion.” By Matthew Sitman, Commonweal

VOICES

The madness of Barbara Blaine
“‘Flectere si nequeo superos, Acheronta movebo.’ — Virgil — This quote in Latin is not a Catholic one. It is from Virgil, the great first century Roman poet. It can be translated in various ways, most literally, ‘If I cannot deflect the superior powers, then I shall move the River Acheron,’ and more commonly, ‘If I cannot bend the heavens, then I shall move the powers of hell.’ This is the epitaph I would give to my generous, difficult and ‘mad’ friend of over 25 years, Barbara Blaine(link is external), whose sudden death Sept. 24 I am still finding incomprehensible.” By Peter Isley, National Catholic Reporter
— Remembering Barbara Blaine, a visionary advocate for survivors everywhere(link is external)By Pamela Spees, The Daily Outrage, Center for Constitutional Rights Blog

CHURCH FINANCES

Priest’s plan to spend £15,000 on statue of Christ causes controversy
“These are tough times for churches(link is external), with both congregations and donations dwindling rapidly. As such, a Catholic priest has incurred the wrath of some of his parishioners for choosing to blow £15,000 on a sculpture of Christ to help make the church feel more modern.” By Victoria Ward, The Telegraph

Indonesia bishop resigns in finance, mistress scandal
“Pope Francis on Wednesday (Oct. 11) accepted the resignation of Bishop Hubertus Leteng(link is external) of Indonesia’s Ruteng diocese. The Vatican sent an investigator to look into allegations that Leteng had a mistress and secretly borrowed $94,000 from the Indonesian bishops’ conference and another $30,000 from the diocese without accounting for it.” By Associated Press on Cruxnow.com
— Vatican asks Indonesian bishop to repay funds he allegedly stole(link is external)By Catholic News Service in National Catholic Reporter
— Anomalies abound in Vatican trial over diverted donations(link is external)By Associated Press on Cruxnow.com

STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS REFORM

Pro-Child Victims Act PAC presses for constitutional convention
“The founder of a PAC formed to support candidates in favor of the stalled Child Victims Act in the Legislature is urging sexual assault survivors to vote yes on holding a constitutional convention(link is external) in November. Fighting for Children PAC founder Gary Greenberg, a sexual abuse survivor, said Tuesday (Oct. 17) that a constitutional convention, which would be held in 2019, would allow victims of sexual abuse to run as delegates and ultimately propose amendments reforming sexual abuse statutes. Delegates would be selected in 2018 if a convention process is triggered.” By Matthew Hamilton, Albany Times Union

False hope for Maryland childhood sexual assault survivors
“At first glance, the newly enacted Maryland law that extends the statute of limitations for victims of childhood sexual abuse(link is external) from age 25 to age 38 appears to offer hope to individuals who, for any number of reasons, are psychologically unable or unwilling to seek a remedy for the horrors they experienced as children until they are well into adulthood. That’s not how it worked out, however, and at the very least this law delivers false hope. House Bill 642 instead dealt a stealthy and significant win to the Archdiocese of Baltimore — and any other employer that has allowed perpetrators under their purview to persist in terrorizing children.” By Joanne Suder, Baltimore Sun

CLERGY CHILD SEXUAL ABUSE

Diocesan program seeks to aid survivors of clergy sexual abuse
“The Diocese of Rockville Centre announced today (Oct. 16) the establishment of the Independent Reconciliation and Compensation Program(link is external) (IRCP) for survivors of sexual abuse by clergy of the Diocese of Rockville Centre. The IRCP allows survivors of sexual abuse by priests or deacons of the diocese to seek financial compensation. This program is a major commitment in ongoing efforts by the diocese to respond to the tragedy of sexual abuse of minors by clergy. By The Long Island Catholic
— Long Island diocese creates program for victims of clergy abuse(link is external)By Sharon Otterman, The New York Times

CALIFORNIA

The Catholic Church knew he was an abuser, but helped him get a job in public schools
“Time and again, the record shows, Brother Edward ‘Chris’ Courtney was accused of child sexual abuse in the Roman Catholic schools(link is external) where he taught, and the church responded by moving him to another jurisdiction. That makes his case similar to those of hundreds of other priests and brothers who committed sexual abuse before the problem exploded into national consciousness more than 15 years ago. What sets Courtney apart is this: According to a lawsuit settled last week in Seattle’s King County Superior Court, he was ultimately shuffled off to a public school, where he continued to commit sexual assault.” By Rick Anderson, The Los Angeles Times
— Moving an accused abuser to public schools is a new low for the Catholic Church(link is external)Letter to the Editor, Los Angeles Times

MINNESOTA

Statement regarding reinstatement of Rev. James Devorak
“I have accepted the recommendation of the Archdiocesan Ministerial Review Board (MRB) and the Director of the Office of Ministerial Standards and Safe Environment to return Father James Devorak to ministry(link is external) in the Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis … In July 2017, an accusation of an alleged single incident of sexual abuse said to have occurred in 1995 was reported to the Glencoe Police Department. On August 31, 2017, the Glencoe Police Department announced that it had completed its investigation, that Father Devorak had fully cooperated in the investigation and that no charges would be brought … It is my hope that this one allegation will not over shadow the life’s work of Father James Devorak.” By Archbishop Bernard Hebda, Archdiocese of St. Paul & Minneapolis

NEW MEXICO

New Mexico judge orders release of clergy sex abuse records
“The Archdiocese of Santa Fe has released hundreds of pages of court records related to sexual abuse allegations against clergy(link is external) members in response to an order from a New Mexico judge, marking the largest disclosure of such records since alleged victims began suing the archdiocese nearly three decades ago … The documents include letters showing church leaders knew of sexual abuse allegations that had been leveled against three priests from the 1960s through the 1980s.” By Associated Press on ReligionNews.com

A cautionary tale: clergy sex abuse victim’s confidentiality breached
“The story of plaintiff Jane L.S. Doe’s clergy sex abuse lawsuit(link is external) in Coconino County Superior Court should be a cautionary tale for all sex abuse victims. Particularly for any abuse survivor who is given promises that his or her identity and personal information will be kept confidential by attorneys and the court system. In the case of Jane L.S. Doe v. the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament and St. Michael Indian School, Doe’s real name, identifying information and confidential details about her abuse have been published all throughout the public court file for months courtesy of the attorneys for the Sisters and Catholic school and her own attorney is now scrambling to seal all those documents.” By Elizabeth Hardin-Burrola, Gallup Independent, on Bishop-Accountability.org

NEW YORK

Alleged victim of clergy abuse shares story as diocese unveils fund
“As the Diocese of Rockville Centre unveils a compensation fund for victims of clergy sex abuse(link is external), a Long Island man who says he was sexually abused by a priest decades ago is sharing his story. Thomas McGarvey says he grew up in a typical Irish Catholic family. He also says he was abused by a priest at St. Catherine of Sienna in Franklin Square, starting when he was 16. Ever since then, McGarvey says he has struggled in both his personal and professional life.” By News12 Long Island

OHIO

Former Catholic church music director facing federal child porn charges
“A man behind the music at a Catholic church for almost a decade is facing charges of receiving and possessing child pornography(link is external). Investigators found stacks of images inside the Clifton home of Dan Fuerst, 69, in August. Fuerst was the music director at St. Maximilian-Kolbe Parish in Liberty Township from March 23, 2001 through June 30, 2010. The Diocese of Cincinnati confirms he also worked in other churches in the diocese previous to 2001.” By Amanda Kelley, WLWT-TV

PENNSYLVANIA

Religious institution-focused training in child abuse prevention now available
“Did you know mandated reporters are people who are required by law to report suspected child abuse(link is external)? To tell them about their obligation, the Pennsylvania Family Support Alliance provides child protection and Mandated Reporter Training. Recently, the PFSA began offering religious-based institutions specialized training materials for their mandated reporters of child abuse. Reverend Kathy Nice of the Presbytery of Kiskiminetas had requested these materials to better meet their training needs.” By Anna Nguyen, The Philadelphia Inquirer

WASHINGTON

Sex abuse lawsuit filed against Catholic diocese
“A lawsuit alleging sexual abuse of a minor(link is external) was filed against the Catholic Diocese of Yakima in Superior Court on Tuesday (Oct. 24). The lawsuit was filed on behalf of a young man who said that the Rev. Gustavo Gómez Santos abused him at St. Juan Diego Catholic Church in Cowiche in 2012 when the alleged victim was 16 or 17 years old. Last May, after the young man reported the abuse to the Yakima County Sheriff’s Office, Gómez was permanently removed from public ministry by Bishop Joseph Tyson.” By Jane Gargas, Yakima Herald

AUSTRALIA

Former Campbeltown Catholic priest charged with historic sex offenses
“A former Catholic priest who also worked as a Campbelltown teacher in the 1980s and 1990s, has been charged with historic sexual assault offences(link is external). It is alleged the 78-year-old man assaulted three boys. One of the boys was allegedly assaulted during the man’s time as a teacher in Campbelltown.” By Wollondilly Advertiser

Catholic Church ‘hiding behind the law’ over historic abuse compensation claims
“A man who was raped and beaten by priests and brothers(link is external) as a 12-year-old says he felt like a beggar when he asked the Catholic Church for money to pay for medical bills for treatment of the mental and physical illness he suffered as a result of his abuse.” By Louise Milligan, ABC News Australia

Head of Catholic Church body updates response to Royal Commission
“‘The Catholic Church has been the single largest institutional grouping to have perpetrated sexual abuse on children(link is external) over the past half century,’ says Francis Sullivan, CEO of the Truth Justice Healing Council. The Council was set up to coordinate the Catholic Church’s response to the Royal Commission Into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse. With the Royal Commission’s report due to be handed down by the end of this year, the Council’s CEO updates Jon Faine on the progress of the redress scheme.” By ABC News Australia

GUAM

Church revamps child protection policy
Child sexual abuse allegations(link is external) against Archbishop Anthony Apuron went unchecked for years because of an inadequate policy for the protection of children and young people, according to Archbishop Michael Byrnes, who said the island’s Catholic church has completely revised its policy. Byrnes said the decision about whether to move forward with an investigation rested with the archbishop. That decision now will be made by an independent body, he said Tuesday (Oct. 24).” By Haidee Eugenio, Pacific Daily News

Archdiocese committed to protecting youth against sexual abuse
“Over the last several years the Archdiocese of Guam has found itself in the midst of sexual abuse scandals(link is external), to date over 100 cases of sexual abuse has been filed against the church. But even more alarming in each case it is alleged that the Archdiocese was aware and conspired to cover-up the widespread sexual violence … Today, it appears that at least for the Archdiocese of Guam, they are attempting to make a change, through the implementation of policies addressing the problems of sexual abuse by clergy, employees and volunteers.” By Jolene Toves, Pacific News Center

New priest accused of raping boy for five years
“Another priest, the now-deceased Monsignor Jose Ada Leon Guerrero, was added to the list of Guam clergy accused of sexually abusing or raping children(link is external). A plaintiff, identified in court documents only as C.M.V. to protect his privacy, said in his complaint filed Wednesday (Oct. 17) that the priest sexually abused him, including penetration, when he was about 9 to 13 years old from about 1969 to 1973.” By Haidee Eugenio, Pacific Daily News

Lawsuit: Apuron tells altar boy to ‘pray, get over’ sexual abuse by another priest
“Archbishop Anthony S. Apuron allegedly told an altar boy that he will get over an evil situation if he prays about it, after the boy told Apuron that Father Raymond Cepeda sexually abused him from around 1992 to 1999(link is external), a lawsuit filed in federal court on Tuesday (oct. 17) says. The plaintiff, identified in court documents only as P.P. to protect his privacy, said in his lawsuit that he made several attempts to report Cepeda to members of the clergy including Apuron. ‘During P.P.’s meeting with Apuron, Apuron told P.P. that ‘P.P. needs to pray about these types of evil in the world and that P.P. would get over it, if he prayed about it,’” the lawsuit says.” By Haidee Eugenio, Pacific Daily News

IRELAND & NORTHERN IRELAND

Call to open Church records to abuse survivors
“The Government must push the Catholic Church and religious orders to open their records to abuse survivors and academics(link is external). Catriona Crowe, former head of special projects at the National Archives of Ireland, said that it ‘should not be a matter of grace and favour’ that survivors are granted full access to records, but a matter of right. She said Ireland had seen unprecedented disclosures relating to treatment of vulnerable women and children across a unique archipelago of institutions — mother and baby homes, Magdalene laundries, industrial schools, and reformatories. She said the only way to achieve a complete picture of what happened is to have full access to their archives.” By Conall O’Fatharta, Irish Examiner

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Voice of the Faithful “Focus” News Roundup


TOP STORIES

Listen to families on ‘Amoris Laetitia,’ bishops and theologians say
“While much of the debate over ‘Amoris Laetitia,’ the controversial 2016 document from Pope Francis about pastoral outreach to families, has focused on the question of Communion for divorced and remarried Catholics, more than three dozen cardinals, bishops and lay theologians gathered at Boston College(link is external) this week (Oct. 6) to explore the broader implications of the letter—and to strategize ways to promote it in the United States.” By Michael J. O’Loughlin, America: The Jesuit Review
— Conference weighs how ‘Amoris Laetitia’ rejects ‘infantilization of the laity(link is external)By Joshua J. McElwee, National Catholic Reporter
— ‘Amoris Laetitia’ conference signals big changes, highlights problems left(link is external)By Michael Sean Winters, National Catholic Reporter
— National Catholic Reporter ‘Amoris Laetitia’ Feature Series(link is external)

Top Vatican official says ‘tragic experience’ on sex abuse helps Church lead
“At the opening session of a major conference at Rome’s Jesuit-run Gregorian University on the protection of children in a digital world, the Vatican’s number two official, Italian Cardinal Pietro Parolin, said the Catholic Church’s ‘tragic experience’ with clerical sexual abuse(link is external) allows it to be a leader in the fight against child abuse in other arenas.” By Ines San Martin, Cruxnow.com

Canadian bishops won’t publish new policy on minor protection till 2018
“In June 1992, the Canadian bishops published a report entitled ‘From Pain to Hope,’ entirely devoted to sexual assaults by the clergy(link is external). The bishops proposed ‘ways and means both to eliminate in the church the after-effects of past scandals and to prevent new cases of aggression against children.’ The adoption by the Vatican of new standards for the protection of children made it necessary to revise the standards and policies of the bishops’ conference.” By Francois Gloutnay, Cruxnow.com

Expert says Vatican botched response to child porn suspicions about envoy
“German Jesuit Father Hans Zollner, who leads a child protection center at a Roman university and serves on a papal commission advising Francis on reform, says the Vatican should have been more transparent(link is external) about recent reports that an envoy at the papal embassy in Washington, D.C., is part of an investigation for possible involvement in child pornography, seeing it as part of an going struggle to be more ‘up-front.’” By John L. Allen, Jr., and Clair Giangrave, Cruxnow.com
— Vatican needs boots on the ground to promote child safety, expert says(link is external)By John L. Allen, Jr., Cruxnow.com

How can we protect children from abuse online? A congress in Rome will seek solutions
“A pioneering international congress on the risks and challenges to children in the digital world and how to protect them from online sexual abuse(link is external) will be hosted by the Jesuit-run Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome, from Oct. 3 to 6. ‘Child Dignity in the Digital World’ is the first congress of its kind and ‘opens a whole new scenario,’ said Hans Zollner, S.J., the president of the child protection center at the Gregorian, at a press briefing in the Vatican.” By Gerard O’Connell, America: The Jesuit Review
— Vatican urges online protections for children(link is external)By Nicole Winfield, Associated Press, in San Jose Mercury News

ACCOUNTABILITY

Australian bishops meet in Rome as Church reels from recent crisis
“Last week, Church leaders from Australia traveled to Rome to meet with Vatican authorities to discuss the various crises Catholics in the country are currently undergoing, largely tied to a history of clerical sex abuse(link is external). According to an Oct. 7 communique from the Vatican, the leadership of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference traveled to Rome last week to meet with officials from the Vatican’s Secretariat of State and other relevant offices of the Holy See ‘for a wide-ranging discussion concerning the situation of the Catholic Church in Australia at this time.’” By Elise Harris, Catholic News Agency

Vatican shines light on child abuse as claims against priests persist
“For a church hierarchy excoriated for decades over the sexual abuse of children(link is external) in its trust, hosting a conference this week (Oct. 3-6) about the spreading scourge of online child pornography was an opportunity to strike a positive note about the Vatican’s role in protecting minors. ‘Yes, yes, yes,’ said Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the Vatican’s secretary of state, when asked Tuesday (Oct. 3) night at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome if the Catholic Church could lead a global response to the problem.” By Jason Horowitz, The New York Times

Guam’s day of reckoning after decades of sex abuse
“The river looks completely different from that day 46 years ago when B.J. says he was raped repeatedly by Fr. Louis Brouillard(link is external), a priest and then-Boy Scout leader. B.J. was only 11 years old, and remembers the water was calm. The trees weren’t pressed so hard against the water’s edge … The magnitude of the (clergy sex abuse) claims is staggering. According to a recent USA Today analysis, Guam, with a population of only about 160,000, has a per-capita rate of abuse claims more than five times higher than in Boston.” By Anita Hofschneider, Honolulu Civil Beat, National Catholic Reporter

Church more aware of crime, harm of child abuse, top Vatican official says
“‘We must work to take control of the development of the digital world(link is external), so that it might be at the service of the dignity of minors,’ Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the Vatican Secretary of State, said in his keynote address at the opening of ‘Child Dignity in the Digital World,’ the first world congress focused on addressing the dangers children and adolescents face on the internet.” By Gerard O’Connell, America: The Jesuit Review

PONTIFICAL COMMISSION FOR THE PROTECTION OF MINORS

Fr. Zollner on PCPM achievements, goals and lessons learned
“The Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors concluded its 4-day Plenary Assembly on Sunday (Sept. 24), with a renewed commitment to its mandate(link is external) as an advisory body to the Holy Father for the protection of minors. In an interview with Vatican Radio, Commission member Father Hans Zollner spoke of the key areas of focus during the plenary and of the lessons learnt during the past three years of work. He also spoke of the encouragement expressed by Pope Francis during a private audience at the start of the Plenary, and of his ongoing support since the Commission was established.” By Vatican Radio

MASS TRANSLATIONS

German-speaking bishops move to take full control over liturgical translations
“Cardinal Reinhard Marx says ‘Liturgiam authenticam,’ the rules for translation the Vatican issued in 2001(link is external), was a ‘dead end.’ But thanks to a recent decision by the pope the bishops now have greater freedom.” By Christa Pongratz-Lippitt, La Croix International

POPE FRANCIS

Canon law must serve Vatican II vision of the church, Pope says
“Pope Francis says the Church’s law must always be perfected to better serve the church’s mission and the daily lives of the faithful(link is external). Canon law, he said, can and should be an instrument for implementing the vision of the Second Vatican Council.” By Cindy Wooden, Catholic News Service, on Cruxnow.com

Child safety summit reflects Pope’s ‘extraordinary’ power to convene
“Look around at the lineup at an Oct. 3-6 summit at Rome’s Gregorian University on ‘Child Dignity in the Digital World,’ and it’s a host of experts from the biggest outfits in their various fields — Harvard, Interpol, Facebook, UNICEF, Microsoft, and so on. It’s the cream of the crop, and it’s another illustration of the Vatican’s unique power to convene(link is external), since basically nobody can say no to an invite from the pope.” By John L. Allen, Jr., Cruxnow.com

Amid avalanche, real questions about the papacy risk being obscured
“In the last few days, Pope Francis has faced three remarkable accusations(link is external) — one of suffering from narcissistic personality disorder, another of heresy, and a third of dropping the ball on financial reform of the Vatican. In trying to sort through it all, one towering problem is that in an environment defined by hysteria, separating legitimate criticism from the same-old, same-old is increasingly difficult.” By John L. Allen, Jr., Cruxnow.com

CARDINALS

Pope names Cardinal Burke a judge on Vatican supreme court
“Pope Francis has named U.S. Cardinal Raymond L. Burke a member of the Apostolic Signature(link is external), the church’s supreme court, which the cardinal headed as prefect from 2008 to 2014.mMembers of the Apostolic Signature serve as judges in the cases, which mainly involve appeals of lower-court decisions or of administrative decisions by other offices of the Holy See.” By Cindy Wooden, Catholic News Service, in The Pilot

Cardinal Dolan: Church needs to be transparent, honest about its flaws
“New York Cardinal Timothy Dolan suggested to more than 400 priests of the state of Louisiana that humbly and openly sharing the ‘wounds’ and shortcomings of the church might bring those who are alienated back to the practice of the faith. Using the image of the church as ‘our supernatural family, which we, as priests, are called to image,’ Cardinal Dolan told the opening session of the three-day Louisiana Priests’ Convention Sept. 19 that human weakness has been a part of the church from the beginning(link is external).” By Jonelle Fotz, Clarion Herald

Despite wing-clipping, Sarah not going quiet in defense of tradition
“Although Cardinal Robert Sarah of Guinea arguably just had his wings clipped(link is external), as Pope Francis recently transferred a share of his Vatican department’s control over translating liturgical texts to local bishops, a major address he gave on Thursday (Sept. 14) suggests that if anyone expects Sarah to go quiet, they can forget it — and equally, if anyone expects him to go to war against the boss, they can forget that too.” By John L. Allen, Jr., Cruxnow.com

BISHOPS

Bishop Kicanas of Tucson retires; pope names Kansas bishop his successor
“Pope Francis has accepted the resignation of Bishop Gerald F. Kicanas of Tucson(link is external), Arizona, and named as his successor Bishop Edward J. Weisenburger, who has headed the Diocese of Salina, Kansas, since 2012. Bishop Kicanas, former vice president and former secretary of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, has headed the Diocese of Tucson since 2003. He is 76. Canon law requires bishops to turn in their resignation when they reach age 75.” By Catholic News Service

PRIESTS

I became a priest 50 years ago. Here’s how the perception of priesthood has changed
“Both of us (Robert Collins and the author Roger Haight, who were seminarians together) have had the privilege of living across the canyon of an epochal change in the image of a Catholic priest in North America(link is external). Since we are celebrating 50 years of priestly ministry I think I should risk a comment on how I, at least, have experienced changes in the perception of a Catholic priest. I will propose a thesis from my experience that others can react to on the basis of their own. I mean it as applied to Jesuit priesthood rather than diocesan.” By Roger Haught, S.J., America: The Jesuit Review

WOMEN RELIGIOUS

Sister Simone Campbell: The dangers of becoming a “celebrity nun”
“I was asked if I had a favorite mistake. I think I am making it right now. In my roles as the director of NETWORK Lobby for Catholic Social Justice and the leader of NETWORK’s Nuns on the Bus campaign, two groups that advocate for social justice, I seek to influence lawmakers. Having influence means we can protect the safety net(link is external) that so many Americans rely on; it means protecting immigrants caught up in an unjust system. It also means notoriety …” By Simone Campbell, S.S.S., America: The Jesuit Review

WOMEN IN THE CHURCH

Vatican official condemns discrimination against women
“The need to recognize women as having equal worth as men(link is external) and allow them to fully exercise their human rights is increasingly urgent due to the ‘resurgence of divisions in today’s world,’ a top Vatican official told the U.N. Human Rights Council in Geneva.” By Matthew Fowler, Catholic News Service

FUTURE OF THE CHURCH

El Paso parish’s ministries awaken missionary community
“One of the largest and youngest parishes in the El Paso Diocese, St. Mark Catholic Church, mirrors the rest of the city(link is external) in Texas: 85 percent Hispanic, largely bilingual, and home to mainly Mexican-Americans with ties across the border in Juárez, Mexico. Just outside the church is a 30-foot statue of Our Lady of Guadalupe, which came from Guadalajara, Mexico, and is surrounded by a towering wall and waterfall. Inside the church is the ‘Missionary Jesus’ statue, draped in a thin quilt with fabric from various countries. At Sunday’s 12:30 p.m. Mass in August, children with maracas led the procession.” By Soli Salgado, National Catholic Reporter

Catholic community life on the wane?
“Volunteer fire departments, bowling leagues and fraternal orders live on in much the same way the American elm has: Once a feature of the American landscape, their presence is increasingly vanishing — with important ramifications for the Church in the United States. Social scientists have been calling attention to the weakening of American community life(link is external) for more than a decade, and a new research group in the U.S. Senate, called the Social Capital Project, has been established to investigate the causes of that decline.” By Nicholas Wolfram Smith, National Catholic Register

Pittsburgh plan would consolidate 188 parishes into 48 groups
“There will be grief, but a new, more effective church outreach will emerge out of a massive planned consolidation(link is external) in the Pittsburgh Diocese, diocesan spokesman Bob DeWitt told NCR. He spoke after a diocesan planning commission, which includes DeWitt, recommended to Bishop David Zubik that the diocese arrange its 188 current parishes into 48 groups. The plan now goes to the bishop for a decision, which will take place after Easter 2018, with implementation to begin in the fall of that year … No diocese has undertaken such a massive change.” By Peter Feuerherd, National Catholic Reporter

“AMORIS LAETITIA”

‘Amoris Laetitia’ controversy predates the document itself
“The controversy surrounding Amoris Laetitia(link is external) (‘The Joy of Love’) began even before the document was issued, even before the two synods that discussed the issues surrounding marriage and the family, discussions that served as the basis for Amoris Laetitia.” By Michael Sean Winters, National Catholic Reporter

Bishops, theologians gather to consider U.S. implementation of ‘Amoris Laetitia’
“Pope Francis’ apostolic exhortation on family life, Amoris Laetitia, is perhaps the most hotly debated Catholic church document since Humanae Vitae(link is external), Pope Paul VI’s 1968 encyclical letter that reaffirmed the church’s ban on birth control … In five panel discussions over two days Oct. 5-6, two cardinals, 12 bishops, and 24 other invited participants are set to discuss what organizers are calling the ‘new momentum’ Amoris Laetitia gives local bishops to renew their pastoral practices toward families.” By Joshua J. McElwee, National Catholic Reporter

Pope Francis: Engaging with people’s real lives does not ‘bastardize’ theology
“Seeing, understanding and engaging with people’s real lives does not ‘bastardize’ theology, rather it is what is needed to guide people toward God, Pope Francis told Jesuits in Colombia. ‘The theology of Jesus was the most real thing of all(link is external); it began with reality and rose up to the Father,’ he said during a private audience Sept. 10 in Cartagena, Colombia. The Rome-based Jesuit-run journal, La Civilta Cattolica, published a transcript from the meeting Sept. 28. The journal provided its own translations of the original Spanish remarks.” By Carol Glatz, Catholic News Service

VOICES

Open to opposition
The heat that a group of conservative academics generated by publicly accusing Pope Francis of heresy(link is external) this summer in a letter they released September 23 is warming up the Catholic environment for dissent. And in the end, the pope’s patience with critics like these could do a lot to reform the culture of the church. It is one more way Francis is sculpting the church that the Second Vatican Council envisioned … The conservative academics have posted to the web a carefully defined basis for their dissent … Voice of the Faithful has relied on the same canon law to buttress its right to question church authorities (in a much milder way). By Paul Moses, Commonweal

Kick-starting a new Catholic conversation
“The sorry state of the Catholic conversation about same-sex love prompts us to make a constructive proposal. If we have any hope of moving the discussion in a justice-seeking direction, we need a new approach to the problems of homohatred(link is external) and heterosexism that begins not with church teaching but with real people’s lives. Rehashing old arguments on the morality of sexual activity, about which there is substantial and deeply hurtful disagreement, is useless.” By Mary E. Hunt, Marianne Duddy-Burke, and Jamie Manson, National Catholic Reporter

NCR Editorial: Stop censoring, have a civil discussion
“In September, NCR and GSR have reported on three tales of Catholic thinkers censored — Jesuit Fr. James Martin; Boston College theology professor M. Shawn Copeland; and Rebecca Bratten Weiss, co-founder of the New Pro-Life Movement. The excruciating irony of these tales begins with the fact that it no longer requires an edict from the Holy Office or a word of disapproval from the local bishop to silence thought(link is external) and to pronounce someone persona non grata … It no longer takes the time it once did for tiny minorities to derail careers by slandering anyone who asks inconvenient questions.” By National Catholic Reporter Editorial Staff

Five things Hollywood could learn from the Catholic Church after Harvey Weinstein
“Living in Los Angeles and watching the cascade of horror that is the unraveling story of Hollywood uber-exec Harvey Weinstein and his abuses of women, I have had a strange sense of déjà vu. I was a seminarian studying for the priesthood in Boston in January 2002(link is external) when The Boston Globe began publishing its astonishing series of articles on child sexual abuse in the Catholic Church … I suspect the Weinstein story, too, is just the beginning of a much larger set of revelations about abuse and power in the entertainment industry. And 15 years into the Catholic crisis, having witnessed the choices the institutional church has made (some of them disastrous), I suspect there are things that Hollywood could learn from that experience right now. Here are five that come immediately to mind.” By Jim McDermott, America: The Jesuit Review

CHURCH FINANCES

Vatican bank launches legal action in Malta over major investment loss
“Launching the legal action demonstrates the bank’s desire ‘to accept responsibility for abuses in the past(link is external),’ he (Greg Burke, Vatican spokesman) said. According to the written communique, such a move also reflects the bank’s ‘commitment, in the interest of transparency, to report to the competent authorities any potential abuses perpetrated against it and to take, as in this instance, any appropriate action to protect its financial and reputational interests, including outside of the Vatican City State.’ By Carol Glatz, Catholic News Service, on CatholicPhilly.com

Vatican trial finds ‘opaqueness,’ ‘disorder’ in handling of papal finances
“In the latest session of a Vatican trial concerning the misappropriation of funds(link is external) from a papally-sponsored hospital to remodel a large Vatican apartment, the prosecution asked that the former president of the hospital, layman Giuseppe Profiti, be charged with three years imprisonment and pointed to a profound “opaqueness” and “disorder” in the handling of papal finances.” By Claire Giangrave, Cruxnow.com

Catholic priest sentenced for embezzling $1.4 million
“As a priest for the Diocese of San Jose, 57-year-old Hien Minh Nguyen funneled more than $1.4 million in church donations into his bank accounts(link is external) over a five-year period, but the princely sum sat mostly untouched, according to court records. Tensions that Nguyen believed existed between the Vietnamese Catholic community in San Jose and the Diocese reportedly were what drove his criminal conduct. He believed that he could make better use of the money for his parishioners than the Diocese. Whatever his motivations were, Nguyen now faces time behind bars.” By Jason Green, The Mercury News
— Catholic priest sentenced to three years in prison for stealing(link is external)By Associated Press in U.S. News & World Report

Testimony at Vatican trial shows cardinal ha hand-on role
“Italian businessman Gianantonio Bandera told a Vatican court on Monday (Oct. 2) that Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, the former Secretary of State under Pope emeritus Benedict XVI, played a hands-on role in making the arrangements(link is external) for remodeling his Vatican apartment that ultimately led to criminal charges. Bertone is not charged in the case, and was never considered a suspect.” By John L. Allen, Jr., Cruxnow.com

CLERGY CHILD SEXUAL ABUSE

Four-week court hearing for Cardinal Pell
“As many as 50 witnesses will give evidence during a hearing that will determine if Cardinal George Pell stands trial on historical sexual offence charges(link is external). The highest-ranking Catholic official to be charged with sexual abuse has appeared in court for the second time, again for a brief administrative hearing in the Melbourne Magistrates Court. The case will return to the same court for a four-week committal hearing beginning on March 5.” By Australian Associated Press on sbs.com.au

Jeff Anderson’s firm to fund law school’s Zero Abuse Project
“A $2 million gift from a leading firm in sexual abuse litigation seeks to turn a Minnesota law school into a national training and resource center(link is external) for child abuse prevention and response. The donation, from the firm Jeff Anderson and Associates, will create at the Mitchell Hamline School of Law in St. Paul, Minnesota, what is called the Zero Abuse Project. The effort will educate and train lawyers and other professionals in the skills necessary to recognize signs of child abuse, how to better work with people who have experienced such trauma, and ultimately how to advocate for an end to child abuse through courtroom litigation and legal reform.” By Brian Roewe, National Catholic Reporter

Barbara Blaine spoke truth to power
“Although she had already climbed mountains for the victims of child sex abuse, Barbara Blaine, founder of SNAP, passed away(link is external) before she had achieved all that she could. Since the 1980s, her sights had been set on ending child sex abuse in the United States Catholic Church. Even before SNAP, her mission was to help the vulnerable, whether they were the homeless or the abused. She stepped down as president of SNAP earlier this year to head the Accountability Project, which would have expanded her focus to the globe. I have no doubt it, too, would have changed the world.” By Marci A. Hamiltion, Verdict.Justia.com

ILLINOIS

$50M suit filed against ‘sexually violent’ ex-priest Daniel McCormack
“A lawsuit filed Thursday (Oct. 5) in Cook County Circuit Court seeks more than $50 million in damages from convicted child molester and defrocked priest Daniel McCormack(link is external)and the Archdiocese of Chicago. The plaintiff, identified only as John Doe, developed a trust relationship’ with McCormack while playing on a basketball team the pastor coached at St. Ailbe School, according to the suit.” By Chicago Sun-Times

KENTUCKY

Several priests in prison for child sex abuse still being paid by Louisville Catholic Church
“They stand convicted of committing terrible sins, but pedophile priests are still being paid by the Catholic church(link is external) in Louisville. ‘I think it’s absurd,’ Michael Norris said. ‘I just don’t understand it.’ Norris is one of Fr. Joseph Hemmerle’s victims, molested at age 11 at camp Tall Trees in Meade County in the 1970’s.” By Gil Corsey, WDRB-TV
— Convicted priests still getting pensions and medical benefits(link is external)By Connie Leonard, WAVE-TV News

MINNESOTA

Minnesota diocese settles in lawsuit against Bishop Hoeppner
“The Diocese of Crookston, Minnesota, has settled one part of a lawsuit brought by a deacon candidate who accused his bishop of coercing him into silence about alleged sexual abuse(link is external) by a past vicar general. The rural northwestern Minnesota diocese announced Sept. 20 that a settlement had been reached on charges brought by Ronald Vasek against Bishop Michael Hoeppner. In May, Vasek sued Hoeppner on counts of coercion and intentional infliction of emotional distress, in addition to bringing negligence and public nuisance claims against the diocese.” By Brian Roewe, National Catholic Reporter

MISSOURI

St. Louis priest settles part of civil suit against accuser and clergy abuse survivor’s group
“A Roman Catholic priest has settled part of a federal lawsuit he filed against the mother of a boy who accused him of abuse(link is external), the group that supported the accuser and police, court filings Tuesday (Oct. 10) say. In a filing in U.S. District Court in St. Louis, a lawyer for the Rev. Xiu Hui ‘Joseph’ Jiang wrote that the case had been settled with Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, or SNAP, and SNAP officials, and that Jiang and the mother of his former accuser had ‘reached an agreement in principle.’” By Robert Patrick, St. Louis Post-Dispatch

MONTANA

Judge orders Montana Catholic diocese to update court settlement plan
“A U.S. bankruptcy judge last week (Sept. 29) ordered a hearing intended to map out the remaining settlement proceedings(link is external) between the Great Falls-Billings Diocese and the 86 victims claiming they were abused by eastern Montana priests through the 1900s.” By Seaborn Larson, Great Falls Tribune

NEW JERSEY

Judge finds probable cause to charge priest with sex assault
“A hearing has found probable cause for the filing of charges against a Catholic priest accused of sexually assaulting a young parishioner(link is external) two decades ago. Probable cause was found for charges of first-degree aggravated sexual assault and second-degree sexual assault against the Rev. Michael ‘Mitch’ Walters on Wednesday (Sept. 27), according to an official with the Guttenberg court. The case was then transferred from the municipal court up to the Hudson County Superior Court.” By Justin Zaremba, NJ.com

NEW MEXICO

Dark Canyon: Trust and Betrayal in the Northern New Mexico Church
“For the second feature-length installment of our series, our reporters go to Northern New Mexico where Catholicism has been a central part of life for centuries, since the Spanish conquest of New Mexico. The list of 74 credibly accused priests, brothers and deacons(link is external) released by the Archbishop last month names more than a dozen priests who served the parishes in the Taos area.” By Ellen Berkovitch, Rita Daniels and Hannah Colton, KSFR-FM, Santa Fe Public Radio

NEW YORK

Number of women accusing Catholic priest of sexual abuse rises to 23
“The number of women alleging they were abused as children by a Catholic priest(link is external) in Queens has swelled to 23, the Daily News has learned. The accusers of former Rev. Adam Prochaski, ranging in age from 39 to 57, say the priest abused them in the Holy Cross parish in Maspeth between 1972 and 1994. The women were between 11 to 16 years old when the abuse allegedly took place.” By Graham Rayman, New York Daily News
— Number of abuse allegations against Queens priest are growing(link is external)By CBS News, New York
— 23 women accuse former queens priest of abusing them as children,(link is external) By Sharon Otterman, The New York Times

NYPD opens investigation into Catholic priest sex abuse claims
“Prosecutors and the NYPD have opened an investigation into allegations that a Catholic priest sexually abused 15 victims(link is external) decades ago at a parish school, officials said. The Queens District Attorney’s office and the NYPD’s Special Victims squad are looking into the allegations made public Tuesday (Sept. 26) by the 15 women against former Rev. Adam Prochaski, who once worked at Holy Cross School in Maspeth, police officials said.” By Esha Ray and Graham Rayman, New York Daily News

ARGENTINA

Catholic Church struggles to erase stain of child sex abuse
“Pope Francis admits the Church has not done enough to tackle the abhorent acts commited by some members of the clergy(link is external). The Vatican and the Argentine Synod say they are taking steps to tackle the problem. But survivors, victims and experts warn that some inside the Church are resistant to change and that many cases still go unreported.” By Santiago del Carril, Buenos Aires Times

AUSTRALIA

Australian church facing biggest crisis in its history, says Brisbane archbishop
“The archbishop said the Church had been ‘shaken to the core’ by the abuse scandal(link is external)and today was being called to a ‘greater authenticity.’ A leading Australian bishop says the Church in his country is facing the biggest crisis in its history after taking part in talks with the Vatican over how to address the problem. The Archbishop of Brisbane, Mark Coleridge, who is Vice President of the Australian Bishops’ Conference, told The Tablet that he and fellow bishops were in Rome to discuss the fallout of the clerical sexual abuse crisis, and how the Church will adopt a new approach.” By Christopher Lamb, The Tablet

Attacks on the credibility of abuse survivors not justified by research
“For a quarter of a century, the concept of ‘false memories’ has provided a scientific fig leaf for skeptics of child sexual abuse allegations(link is external) … However, for those uncomfortable with the social and legal reforms required to address child sexual abuse, the idea that large numbers of allegations are the product of ‘false memories’ remains attractive. This argument underpins recent reporting in the Australian, which has called into question the findings of the royal commission into institutional responses to child sexual abuse, on the basis that sexual abuse survivor testimony cannot be trusted.” By Michael Salter, The Guardian

‘Prevention is crucial’ in safeguarding children
“Working together to protect children and create child safe cultures(link is external) was the focus of a workshop hosted by the Australian Catholic University (ACU) in Melbourne yesterday (Sept. 27), Melbourne Catholic reports. The ‘Safeguarding children: Leading change’ workshop was for those involved in child protection, and provided thought leadership on how to prevent child abuse in a proactive manner.” By CathNews.com

CANADA

Catholic priest wanted for alleged child porn offenses committed in Windsor church
“A Canada-wide warrant has been issued for a high-ranking Vatican diplomat who police believe committed child pornography offences at a Windsor church(link is external) during the Christmas holidays. Monsignor Carlo Capella, 50, is wanted for accessing, possessing and distributing child pornography, according to Windsor police. ‘The Diocese of London confirms that it was asked to, and did, assist in an investigation around suspicions involving Msgr. Capella’s possible violations of child pornography laws by using a computer address at a local Church,’ wrote spokesperson Nelson Couto in a media release.” By Dan Taekema, CBC News
— Canadian police seek recalled Vatican envoy for child porn(link is external)By Nicole Winfield and Rachel Zoll, Associated Press, in Akron Beacon Journal

GREAT BRITAIN, SCOTLAND & WALES

Roman Catholic priest absconds with Vatican funds after sexual abuse accusation
“A Roman Catholic priest withdrew £182,000 from his Vatican bank account and went on the run in Albania after he was accused of sexually abusing schoolchildren(link is external) in the 1970s and 1980s, a court heard.” By Abe Hawken, Daily Mail

London priest ‘sex abuse victim’ had ‘nightmares’
“Laurence Soper, 74, the abbot of Ealing Abbey from 1991-2000, was headmaster and senior priest at St Benedict’s School in Ealing, west London. He is on trial at the Old Bailey where he denies 19 charges of child sex abuse against 10 boys(link is external) between 1970 and 1980. The boys allege they were subjected to sexual touching and beaten with a cane. The witness told the court he would get “flashbacks” and “nightmares” about Mr Soper.” By BBC News

GUAM

Lawsuit: Abuse occurred in 2006
“A 23-year-old former altar boy is the latest victim to come forward alleging he was sexually abused by a Capuchin brother(link is external) assigned to the Agana Heights parish in 2006. J.C.M.P., who used initials to protect his identity, filed a lawsuit against the Archdiocese of Agana, the Capuchin Friars and Vernon Kamiaz.” By Mindy Aguon, The Guam Daily Post

Second boy claims priest brought him to Minnesota for sex abuse
Four new clergy sex abuse lawsuits(link is external) were filed in local and federal court, including one by a second former altar boy who said priest Louis Brouillard paid for his summer trip to Minnesota and sexually abused and molested him. The lawsuit states that Brouillard forced the boy to engage in sexual activity with another boy during the trip.” By Haidee Eugenio, Pacific Daily News
— Lawsuits: Brouillard took advantage of ‘childhood an innocence(link is external),’ By Mindy Aguon, The Guam Daily Pose

Boy sexually abused daily while living with priest
“A 14-year-old boy whose parents thought it would be best for him to live with a Catholic priest after he ran away from home was sexually abused daily by the priest(link is external) for about two weeks, according to a lawsuit filed in local court on Thursday (Oct. 5).” By Haidee Eugenio, Pacific Daily News

ITALY

Police capture ex-priest who fled while serving sex abuse sentence
“An ex-Catholic priest serving a 14-year sentence for sexual abuse of seven minors(link is external) in Rome, and who had been given permission to receive treatment for a health condition in a nearby clinic, surreptitiously left last week and hailed a taxi, escaping detection. On Thursday, police caught up to him in Milan’s San Raffaele hospital and placed him in custody. Now, he’ll have to serve the remaining 11 years behind bars.” By Cruxnow.com Staff

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Voice of the Faithful Focus, Sept. 15, 2017


TOP STORIES

Editorial: Retain abuse survivors or risk irrelevancy
“It is distressing to learn that the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors may be restructured so that survivors of sexual abuse by clergy may have no direct voice in that body(link is external). The commission has helped the church make great strides in addressing this global issue, but it is in danger of becoming irrelevant. Signs of trouble with the commission began to surface in 2016, a year after its inception, when one of two abuse survivors on the commission, Peter Saunders, was suspended. The trouble became acute when the sole remaining survivor on the commission, Marie Collins, resigned earlier this year.” By National Catholic Reporter Editorial Staff

Francis decentralizes most authority for liturgical translations to local bishops
“Pope Francis has decentralized authority over how the texts used in the Catholic Church’s liturgies are translated(link is external) from Latin into local languages, moving most responsibility for the matter from the Vatican to national bishops’ conferences. In a motu proprio issued Sept. 9, the pontiff says he is making a change to the church’s Code of Canon Law so that the Second Vatican Council’s call to make the liturgy more understandable to people is ‘more clearly reaffirmed and put into practice.’ The motu proprio, given the title Magnum Principium, modifies two clauses of Canon 838. The rewritten clauses say simply that the Vatican is to ‘recognize’ adaptations of Latin liturgical texts approved by national bishops’ conferences.” By Joshua J. McElwee, National Catholic Reporter

Australian Catholic Church falls short on safeguards for children, study finds
“A study that examines child sexual abuse worldwide in the Roman Catholic Church has found that the Australian church has done less to safeguard children in its care than its counterparts(link is external) in similar countries have. The report, released on Wednesday by the Center for Global Research at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology, also found that the church’s requirement that priests be celibate was a major risk factor for abuse. And it said that the possibility of abuse in Catholic residential institutions, like orphanages, should be getting more attention, especially in developing countries.” By Jacqueline Williams, The New York Times

Living with echo of clergy abuse (Part 1 of 3)
“For a more than a decade, Catholic priest Donald Grecco sexually abused children in Niagara(link is external). On Thursday (Sept. 7), he will be sentenced for the abuse of three boys in the 1970s and 80s. This three part series is the story of one of his victims.” By Grant LaFleche, The St. Catherine’s Standard

ACCOUNTABILITY

Müller sacked for publicly opposing pope, especially on women deacons’
(Sept. 6, 2017) “A noted German Protestant theologian who attended the Catholic Church’s 2015 Synod on the Family has claimed that Cardinal Gerhard Müller was dismissed as prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) because of his public criticism of Pope Francis(link is external), especially on the issue of women deacons.” By Christa Pongratz-Lippitt, International La Croix

As Vatican trial waits to resume, who’s actually got the most to lose
“With a Vatican trial focusing on charges of misappropriation of funds(link is external) from a papally-sponsored children’s hospital now on hold until Sept. 19, the question arises of who has the most to lose from its outcome: The two lay defendants themselves, or the cardinal whose reputation appears to be on the line and the fate of the financial reform launched by Pope Francis?” By John L. Allen, Jr., Cruxow.com

POPE FRANCIS

Why world meeting of families is more than potential papal visit
“From August 21st-26th, 2018, families from across the world will gather in Ireland for the ninth world meeting of families. Much of the local commentary has focused on whether Pope Francis will attend(link is external) and what this might mean for the future of church and society in Ireland. Those of us involved in organizing the event are careful not to talk about a papal visit. Not because we aren’t delighted at the prospect of the pope coming but because, if he comes, it is clear he will come first and foremost for the world meeting of families itself.” By Fr. Tim Bartlett, The Irish Times

CARDINALS

Vatican reform process ‘nearly complete,’ C9 member says
“Bishop Marcello Semeraro said the Council of Cardinal’s work in advising Pope Francis on the reform(link is external) of the Vatican’s organization and church governance – describing it as a three-step process of ‘listening’ to the contributions from the bishops, the Roman Curia and ‘many people who have written,’ reflecting on those proposals and checking them over – is almost done.” By Junno Arocho Esteves, Cruxnow.com

BISHOPS

Vatican investigator wraps up cash, mistress probe
“A Vatican-appointed investigator has completed a probe into allegations leveled against an Indonesian bishop by rebel priests(link is external) within his own diocese. Holy Cross Bishop Antonius Subianto Bunjamin of Bandung was appointed by the Vatican as its apostolic visitator last month to look into allegations that Bishop Hubertus Leteng of Ruteng misappropriated church funds and kept a mistress. Bishop Bunjamin told ucanews.com on Aug. 24 that he had collected enough evidence during an Aug.-15-18 visit to Flores Island, during which he interviewed about 30 priests and laypeople, and would be sending a detailed report to the Vatican.” By Ryan Dagur, UCANews.com

PRIESTS

For historic Philadelphia seminary, enrollment hits a new peak
“The number of seminarians(link is external) at Philadelphia’s St. Charles Borromeo Seminary is on the rise, and rector Bishop Timothy Senior says Pope Francis’ visit has been a positive influence on the seminarians. ‘With 167 seminarians, we’re very excited and not only just the numbers but just extraordinary young men, candidates that really reflect the rich diversity of our region,’ Bishop Senior told CBS Philly.” By Catholic News Agency in Angelus News

WOMEN DEACONS

Irish priests call for diaconate pause
“The Association of Catholic Priests in Ireland has called on the Irish bishops to halt the introduction of permanent deacons(link is external) in their dioceses until the Vatican’s commission on women deacons has concluded its report and Pope Francis has made a decision based on its findings. In their statement, association leaders said they believed that proceeding with the introduction of male deacons at this time would add ‘another male clerical layer to ministry’ which was ‘insensitive, disrespectful of women and counter-productive at this present critical time.’” By Sarah Mac Donald, National Catholic Reporter

FUTURE OF THE CHURCH

The U.S. Catholic experience is increasingly Hispanic and Southwestern
“A new survey of the religious composition of the United States shows that white Christians are increasingly less dominant in American society(link is external), with fewer than half of U.S. states having white Christian majorities, down from 39 states in 2007. For the Catholic Church here, that means a shift from a predominantly white church clustered in the Northeast and Midwest to a church influenced by Latin American immigration and located in the South and West. About 18 percent of all Americans identify as Catholic, the report found.” By Michael J. O’Loughlin, America: The Jesuit Review

Seeking a path form Pell to a Plenary Council
“Arriving in Sydney, Australia, this summer for a round of conferences sponsored by the Broken Bay Institute of the Australian Institute of Theological Education, I found a church confronting events likely to have a profound impact on its future(link is external): the Royal Commission’s completion of its work on an ‘institutional response to child sexual abuse’; the return of Cardinal George Pell from Rome to face charges on sexual abuse cases alleged to have taken place decades ago in the diocese of Ballarat; and the announcement of a Plenary Council for Australia set for 2020—the first since 1937.” By Massimo Faggioli, Commonweal

Numbers of Catholics stable as more than half of British public now have ‘no religion’
“More than half of the British public now describe themselves as having no religion(link is external), a new survey has found. The decline in religious affiliation has hit the Church of England particularly hard with the number of Anglicans falling by 50 per cent in under two decades, the British Social Attitudes survey, released on 4 September, revealed. By contrast the number of Catholics — at around 10 per cent — has remained relatively stable over the same time period. The number of people saying they have no religion (53 per cent) is at its highest ever level, up from 48 per cent in 2015, the National Centre for Social Research found in their social attitudes survey of 2,942 people.” By Rose Gamble, The Tablet

VATICAN

Vatican fails to submit report to U.N.
“As sexual assault cases against the Archdiocese of Agana continue to increase, it appears that the Vatican has found itself in trouble with the United Nations(link is external). Three years ago, the Vatican was called to the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child which begged the Vatican to take concrete steps to remedy decades of institutional complicity and cover-up of widespread sexual violence. September 1, 2017, marked the deadline for the Vatican to submit a comprehensive report on their progress, but the Vatican did not submit the report.” By Jolene Toves, Pacific News First

MARRIED PRIESTS

Petitioners to Rockville Centre bishop: Ordain married men
“Jesuit Fr. Thomas Reese wrote in March that Pope Francis was ready to reconsider obligatory priestly celibacy(link is external). Reese wrote the pope was only waiting to be asked by bishops. ‘If the people of God want married priests, they need to let their bishops know. The pope is waiting for the bishops to ask,’ wrote Reese. NCR reader James Stubenrauch took up Reese’s challenge. And he brought along 52 other friends who reside with him at Dominican Village, a retirement community on the grounds of the Dominican Sisters Motherhouse here on Long Island.” By Peter Feuerherd, National Catholic Reporter

VOICES

Editorial: Fling open door for women
“Though the church exhibits ‘a keen awareness of the extent to which women have been victims of injustice, violence and oppression,’ she (Tina Beattie, British theologian) said, the Vatican has increasingly found itself in opposition(link is external) to international and local movements calling for greater rights for women and children. The reason for this, of course, is the official church’s inability to move away from the traditional teaching on the distinctions between male and female that has formed Catholic theology over centuries.” By National Catholic Reporter Editorial Staff

CHURCH FINANCES

Catholic church in Gardner under investigation for alleged financial wrongdoing
“The Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas is investigating alleged financial improprieties at a parish in the Johnson County(link is external) town of Gardner, officials announced Sunday (Sept. 10). A statement was read during Masses this weekend at Divine Mercy Catholic Church in Gardner, where the alleged incident occurred, said Anita McSorley, a spokeswoman for the archdiocese.” By Phil Anderson, Topeka Capital-Journal

If trial’s a test of accountability, what grade will the Vatican get?
“As the latest Vatican criminal trial, in this case for financial misappropriation(link is external), opens on Thursday (Sept. 7), many observers are still wondering how two laymen can be charged with illicitly spending roughly $500,000 from a pediatric hospital’s funds to remodel a cardinal’s Vatican apartment, but that cardinal isn’t facing any charges at all. If this is a test of accountability, in other words, what grade will the Vatican get?” By John L. Allen, Jr., Cruxnow.com

Retired Canton priest accused of stealing church wine, money from collection plate
“The Rev. Eugene Katcher, former pastor of Resurrection Parish in Canton, has been charged with three counts of larceny(link is external) after authorities say he stole money from the collection plate and from the donations parishioners gave to light votive prayer candles. He is also accused of stealing property, including church wine.” By Ann Zaniewski, Detroit Free Press

CLERGY CHILD SEXUAL ABUSE

Child sexual abuse in the Catholic Church
“What Australian researchers say about child sexual abuse in the Catholic Church(link is external) worldwide: it has always been an issue; can be traced back to New Testament times in the first century; is a global phenomenon within the Catholic Church; To attribute it solely to a series of personal failings of individual priests and religious insinuating they were just a few ‘rotten apples’ is simply not credible; young and vulnerable Catholic children, especially boys, were in danger and at risk in the presence of psychosexually immature, psychosexually maldeveloped and sexually deprived and deeply frustrated male priests and male religious, particularly those who had not satisfactorily resolved their own sexual identity.” By Australian Associated Press on 9news.com.au

Government cuts redress payout proposals in half
“The child abuse redress scheme proposed by the Turnbull government will provide a minimum compensation payment half the size recommended by the royal commission(link is external), The Australian reports. Confidential draft legislation reveals compensation payments of between $5000 and $150,000 — both below commission recommendations — as Canberra attempts to woo the states, territories and abuse institutions to opt into a $4 billion national scheme. The draft bill has been circulated to the states, and insiders believe the government will set a low bar for proving claims as part of the drive to prevent re-traumatizing victims, of whom an estimated 60,000 will seek redress over the next decade.” By CathNews.com

Sorry, Father, but the jig is up
“Until I read his piece in today’s (Sept. 4) edition of this newspaper, I had never heard of Father Brian McCoy. He takes me to task for either exaggerating or inventing claims of child abuse in Balgo(link is external). Violence of all kinds at Balgo was obvious in Balgo and the good Father must have missed it all. I do have people who knew what we were told about child sexual abuse when we visited.” Commentary by Graham Richardson in The Australian

Faith reclaimed: how survivors of clergy abuse return to the church
“Though individuals abused by clergy(link is external) regularly flee the church for good, others, like (Patsy) Seeley, eventually make a painful and circuitous journey back, finding the homecoming a transformative piece of their healing and a source of sustenance, peace and strength.” By Katie Scott, Catholic Sentinel

‘Shame keeps so many victims silent’: MN clergy abuse victim speaks out
“(Joe) McLean is one of hundreds of victims of clergy sexual abuse who have made clergy abuse claims against the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis(link is external) in the past few years, forcing it into bankruptcy court. A Minneapolis bankruptcy court judge will hear arguments Tuesday (Aug. 28) over competing plans to move the organization back to financial stability. As the courtroom wrangling continues, McLean said he wanted to make his story public. It only happened once, but McLean said (Rev. Mike) Charland’s abuse and betrayal made him feel tainted, less worthy than others, and isolated. It contributed to his depression and alcoholism.” By Martin Moylan, Minnesota Public Radio

CALIFORNIA

A decade after settling sex abuse cases the diocese of San Diego still copes with the fallout
“Whenever Heidi Lynch thinks about priests molesting children, she shudders with memories of her own abuse(link is external) and worries whether the Catholic Church is doing all it can to protect potential victims. ‘Are they really taking care of the children?’ asked Lynch, a 60-year-old San Carlos resident, who between the ages of 8 and 11 was repeatedly raped by a priest. ‘Are they really taking care of the abusers? Are they still hiding this?’ Ten years ago this week, the Roman Catholic Diocese of San Diego agreed to pay $198.1 million to settle the lawsuits filed by Lynch and 143 other adults.” By Peter Rowe, Los Angeles Times

ILLINOIS

Judge to decide if ex-priest who molested boys can be committed indefinitely
“The accusations against ‘Father Dan’ were seemingly endless. Court records show more than two dozen boys and young men have alleged Daniel McCormack molested them in their youth(link is external), most notably at St. Agatha Parish on Chicago’s Southwest Side, where the young Roman Catholic priest coached basketball, taught algebra and delivered eloquent sermons … Now, almost eight years after McCormack completed his prison term, Illinois prosecutors want him declared a sexually violent person …” By Megan Crepeau, Chicago Tribune

MINNESOTA

Archdiocese bankruptcy plans face off in court
“Before an overflow crowd of clergy abuse survivors(link is external), a federal bankruptcy judge heard arguments Tuesday (Aug. 29) for two competing compensation plans to settle abuse claims against the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis. U.S. Judge Robert Kressel heard from more than 20 attorneys about the plans, which aim to put an end to more than two years of legal wrangling. The plan by the committee representing abuse survivors, calling for tougher settlements with insurance companies and far greater contributions from the archdiocese, faced objections from the archdiocese, parishes and insurance companies for being too far reaching and essentially ‘liquidating’ the archdiocese.” By Jean Hopfensperger, Star Tribune

NEW MEXICO

Archdiocese of Santa Fe releases names of accused priests
“Following years of criticism, the Archdiocese of Santa Fe has released the names of 74 priests and religious leaders who were accused or later found guilty of sexually abusing children(link is external) by state or church authorities. Santa Fe Archbishop John Wester announced the release of the names Tuesday (Sept. 12) in a letter to parishioners after decades of pressure from victims and their family members who wanted a complete list.” By Russell Contreras, Associated Press, on Religion News Service

Judge rules good cause to open files on three ex-priests accused of child sexual abuse
“A state district judge said Friday (Sept. 1) there is good cause to open sealed records on three former Catholic priests accused of sexually abusing children(link is external) across New Mexico. Judge Alan Malott said he will review three binders filled with years-old documents from the Archdiocese of Santa Fe, including parts of depositions and personnel files, to decide which records will be released to the public for the first time.” By Andrew Oxford, Santa Fe New Mexican

NEW YORK

Disgraced ex-priest accused of sexually abusing teen in Saratoga County
“A disgraced former priest convicted in 2003 of sexually molesting a 13-year-old boy(link is external)on Long Island is facing new allegations in Saratoga County of sodomy, sexual abuse and using a child in a sexual performance. Michael Hands, 51, who was previously sentenced to two years in jail, also cooperated with investigators at the time in a probe of sexual abuse within the church because he too was a victim.” By Robert Gavin, Albany Times Union

Ex-priest Francis Stinner dies, but sex abuse controversy lives on
“Francis Stinner, a defrocked priest with ties to Somers, Bronxville, Chappaqua and Goshen, died earlier this month at the age of 76. But the sexual abuse controversy that has long surrounded him(link is external) did not die with him. At least three new claims of sexual abuse have been filed against the former Catholic priest and teacher through the Independent Reconciliation and Compensation Program or IRCP, a special compensation program set up by the Archdiocese of New York.” By Jorge Fitz-Gibbon, lohud.com

OREGON

Fairfield priest in prison for child sexual abuse loses his chance to appeal
“A Catholic priest lost his attempt to appeal a 2013 conviction for taking a 10-year-old Price Hill boy across state lines and allegedly raping him(link is external). Robert ‘Father Bob’ Poandl, 76, is in prison after a jury in U.S. District Court in Cincinnati convicted him of taking an altar boy, David Harper, on a trip to serve Mass at a church in West Virginia and raping him in a rectory bedroom there in 1991.” By Paula Christian, WCPO-TV

PENNSYLVANIA

No charges against accused Catholic priest
“An investigation into sexual misconduct by a Catholic priest(link is external) in the Diocese of Scranton is closed after state police say the alleged victim refused to testify. The person came forward in April of 2016 accusing Fr. Martin Boylan of abuse when the alleged victim was just a child. Fr. Boylan was serving as pastor of St. Patrick’s parish in Scranton when those accusations were made. No charges were filed against Fr. Boylan.” By WNEP-TV

AUSTRALIA

Ex-Catholic priest Adrian Van Klooster jailed over child sex abuse drawings
“A retired Catholic priest, with a past history of sex abuse against children(link is external), has been jailed for a year after disturbing illustrations of children being abused by adults and other children were found on a CD at his home. Adrian Van Klooster, 75, was already a reportable sex offender and on the national pedophile register after being jailed for eight years in 2003 for the abuse of a group of children who were staying overnight at his parish house in Australind.” By Tim Clarke, The West Australian

Sexual abuse victim re-traumatized by Catholic Church compensation process
“A Victorian woman who was sexually abused as a teenager(link is external) says the process of getting compensation from the Catholic church was ‘unnecessarily agonizing’ and sent her to ‘an absolute state of unwellness.’ The woman’s revelation adds weight to calls for an independent redress scheme, the final framework of which is expected to be released in the coming weeks, following a proposal put forward by the federal government last year.” By Calla Wahlquist, The Guardian

Victims demand plaque depicting sex offender be removed from St. Mary’s Catholic Cathedral
“The plaque on the external wall of the cathedral honors former Archbishop Sir Guilford Young and depicts the late Monsignor Philip Green. In 2004 Green pleaded guilty to assaulting a former altar boy(link is external) and was given a three-month suspended jail term. Julian Punch, a prominent former Hobart priest, also claimed he was sexually assaulted by the former Monsignor.” By Stephen Pigram, ABC News Australia

Liturgy launches Safeguarding Month
“The Catholic Diocese of Broken Bay is dedicating the month of September 2017 to Safeguarding, with the theme Compassion and Commitment. The month was officially launched with a Liturgy held at Our Lady of the Rosary Cathedral Waitara on Thursday 31 August. Led by Most Rev Peter A. Comensoli, Bishop of Broken Bay, the gathering came together to pray in solidarity for those affected by abuse(link is external).” By Diocese of Broken Bay

Vatican’s safeguarding expert visits Australia
“One of the Church’s front-line fighters against child sexual abuse(link is external), German Jesuit Fr Hans Zollner, is in Australia this week (Sept. 5) to share his experience and promote safeguarding efforts, reports The Catholic Leader. With a reputation as a reformer, Pope Francis named Fr Zollner a founding member of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors in 2014. Fr Zollner is president of the Centre for Child Protection at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome.” By CathNews.com

Australia’s worst ever pedophile priest to die in prison
“Australia’s worst paedophile priest Gerald Francis Ridsdale will likely die in prison with another three years added to his sentence. The 83-year-old will spend a total of almost 33 years in jail in total for his unprecedented child sex crimes over three decades(link is external).” By Australia Associated Press and Nic White, Daily Mail Australia

Bunbury victim seeks justice for alleged child sex abuse by Catholic priest
Twenty years after Alan Rowe first approached the Catholic Church seeking an apology for alleged sexual abuse by a priest(link is external) in Bunbury, he is set to file writs against the Catholic Diocese of Bunbury in the New South Wales Supreme Court. Mr Rowe was an altar boy at St Patrick’s Cathedral in the late 1960s and early 1970s. He claims Father Kevin Johnston, one of the parish priests, abused him on about 12 separate occasions.” By Andrew Elstermann, WAToday

GUAM

Lawsuit: priest influenced altar boy to watch others being sexually abused
“Father Louis Brouillard sexually abused an altar boy(link is external) and influenced him to watch other boys being abused, a lawsuit filed late last month in the Superior Court of Guam states. The plaintiff, identified in court documents only as R.C. in order to protect his privacy, was sexually abused by Brouillard on church grounds and at Boy Scouts outings during the time he was an altar boy for the Barrigada and Tumon parishes and a boy scout with Troop 13, the lawsuit states.” By Haidee Eugenio, Pacific Daily News

Clergy sex abuse suit withdrawn
“A clergy sex abuse lawsuit accusing a now-deceased priest(link is external), filed earlier this week (Aug. 31) in federal court, has been voluntarily withdrawn. Through attorney David Lujan, accuser ‘A.J.A.’ on Aug. 31 filed a notice of voluntary dismissal of his lawsuit, which he originally filed Aug. 28. The plaintiff, now 61 and now living in Las Vegas, is identified in court documents only as A.J.A. to protect his privacy.” By Haidee Eugenio, Pacific Daily News

16th priest accused in sex abuse suit
“Another Catholic clergy member on Guam has been accused of child sexual abuse(link is external), according to a lawsuit filed in federal court Tuesday (Sept. 5). Father Louis William Rink, who is now deceased, was sued by a former altar boy identified in documents only as R.R.C. to protect his privacy. The lawsuit accuses Rink of abusing the boy, who was 10, in Dededo in the 1980s. Rink is the 16th Guam clergy member accused in court of child sexual abuse.” By Haidee Eugenio, Pacific Daily News

Apuron’s attorney says claims against her client are time-barred
“As sex abuse cases against the Archdiocese of Agana(link is external) continue to be filed, Archbishop Anthony Apuron’s attorney Jacque Terlaje argues a motion to dismiss the four sexual abuse cases against her client saying that the claims are time-barred. Terlaje argued her client’s motion to dismiss on two grounds. ‘We have asked the court to dismiss the complaint involving the four Archbishop Anthony cases and that is simply because the plain statutory reading of the statue, that it did not apply to old cases such as the one Archbishop Anthony is involved in,’ stated Terlaje.” By Jolene Toves, Pacific News Center

INDIA

Indian priest charged with molesting student, bishop cries harassment
“A Catholic priest who is the principal of a school has been charged by police for molesting a girl student(link is external) in a central India state but bishops there say this is part of ongoing harassment against Christians. Police in Madhya Pradesh state Sept. 1 filed criminal charges against 40-year-old Father Sebastian Panthalluparambil, principal of the church-run Jyoti Senior Secondary School in Rewa, under Satna Diocese. The 17-year-old girl who made the complaint said two of them went to their principal’s office to seek his permission to organize a farewell program for a retiring teacher. The permission was denied and the principal ‘inappropriately touched’ her body, a police official told ucanews.com quoting the complaint.” By Saji Thomas, UCANews.com

PHILIPPINES

‘Forgive them Father for they have sinned’
“The Department of Justice has filed a case against Monsignor Arnel Lagajeros of the Diocese of Antipolo for molesting a minor(link is external). Lagajeros, 55, was caught in an entrapment operation while inside his gray Ford explorer at the parking area of Blue Wave Mall along Sumulong Hi-way in Barangay Sto. Nino, Marikina City, where he and the minor were supposed to meet. Lagajeros was not the first local prelate in the Catholic Church accused of sexual harassment or misconduct.” By The Manila Times

SICILY

Unpacking the ‘strong powers’ insulating lay group charged with abuse
“The leader of a lay Catholic group in Sicily, arrested for allegedly abusing six underage girls(link is external), was able to create a system of connections and relationships with high ranking members of the judiciary and political system, which kept himself and the group immune from government and ecclesiastical oversight.” By Claire Giangrave, Cruxnow.com

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Voice of the Faithful Focus


TOP STORIES

A first: Cardinal Pell appears in Australian court on sexual charges
“Cardinal George Pell, one of Pope Francis’ top advisers, made his first court appearance in Australia on Wednesday (Jul. 26) after becoming the highest-ranking Roman Catholic prelate to be formally charged with sexual offenses(link is external). Cardinal Pell, 76, was flanked by police officers as he entered Melbourne Magistrates’ Court through a thicket of camera crews, reporters and photographers.” By Jacqueline Williams, The New York Times
— Accused of abuse, Pell maintains innocence in first court appearance(link is external)By Barney Zwartz, National Catholic Reporter
— Vatican Cardinal Pell faces Australian court on sex charges(link is external)By Kristen Gelineau, Associated Press
— Beginning fight against abuse charges, Pell says he’ll plead ‘not guilty(link is external),’ By John L. Allen, Jr., Cruxnow.com

547 members of Catholic boys choir abused, report says
“At least 547 members of a prestigious Catholic boys’ choir in Germany were physically or sexually abused(link is external) between 1945 and 1992, according to a report released Tuesday (Jul. 18). Allegations involving the Domspatzen choir in Regensburg were among a spate of revelations of abuse by Roman Catholic clergy in Germany that emerged in 2010. In 2015, lawyer Ulrich Weber was tasked with producing a report on what happened.” By Associated Press on CBSNews.com
— Culture of silence abetted abuse of at least 547 German choir boys, inquiry finds(link is external)By Melissa Eddy, The New York Times
— Hundreds of boys abused at storied Catholic choir in Germany, new report says(link is external)By Isaac Stanley Becker, The Washington Post
— Ex-Vatican doctrine chief says Church did what it could on German abuse scandal(link is external)By Ines San Martin, Cruxnow.com

Former top Vatican official strikes back at Pope
“A top Vatican cardinal recently dismissed by Pope Francis struck back this week, calling the Pope’s treatment of him and other Vatican employees ‘unacceptable.’ ‘I cannot accept this way of doing things,’ Cardinal Gerhard Muller said(link is external) in an interview with German newspaper Passauer Neue Presse. ‘As a bishop, [the Pope] cannot treat people in this way.’ Francis informed Muller, the former head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Vatican’s doctrinal office, that he would not be renewing his contract in a brief meeting on June 30, just two days before the contract expired.” By Delia Gallagher, CNN

First Vatican trial under laws against financial crime to open Tuesday
“Tuesday (Jul. 18) sees the start of the Vatican trial of two former officials of a papal hospital in Rome charged with illicitly using funds(link is external) to renovate the Vatican apartment of Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, in a way that benefited a fellow Italian businessman. Bertone himself was not an object of the Vatican investigation and does not face any charges in the trial, which marks the first prosecution under new Vatican laws on financial crime.” By Ines San Martin, Cruxnow.com
— Vatican court refuses to stop embezzlement case(link is external)By Associated Press in The Sacramento Bee

ACCOUNTABILITY

Paul Shanley, notorious priest in Catholic sex abuse scandal, to be released this week
“Paul R. Shanley, a former ‘street priest’ who became one of the most notorious figures in the Catholic Church’s sexual abuse scandal(link is external), is set to be released from prison as early as this week (He was released on Jul. 28) after serving 12 years behind bars for raping a Sunday school student in the early 1980s. Middlesex prosecutors said they had hoped to keep the 86-year-old defrocked priest behind bars even after his sentence was completed by having him declared a ‘sexually dangerous person.’ But two doctors who examined Shanley found that he did not meet the required criteria, prosecutors said.” By Michael Levenson, The Boston Globe
— Defrocked priest is about to be freed amid renewed fury(link is external)By Katherine Q. Seelye, The New York Times
— ‘I’m concerned he’s going to abuse again’: those who say priest abused them criticize his release(link is external), By Michael Levenson, The Boston Globe
— Paul Shanley, convicted child rapist and former priest, released from prison(link is external)By Emily Sweeney, John R. Ellement and Travis Andersen, The Boston Globe
— A predator walks while his protectors never had to stand(link is external)By Kevin Cullen, The Boston Globe

Read the following note to readers for background on National Catholic Reporter’srecent series of stories on the Catholic clergy sexual abuse scandal. The stories are listed below this introduction:

Note to readers about content this week
“On the NCR website this week (Jul. 17), we will run a series of stories that will challenge our readers to look at the scandal of sexual abuse of minors(link is external) by clergy from several different viewpoints: from the perspective of a victim/survivor, from the perspective of a convicted offender, from the perspective of a family member of a victim, and from the perspective of professional advocates and watchdogs. The stories will make some people uncomfortable and others angry. It will be difficult reading, but my hope — my belief — is that it will make us confront a profound question about clergy sex abuse and the Catholic Church, namely, how do we as church, as a community of believers, bring healing to our wounded body? What cooperative acts of justice and mercy must we take as a community of believers to move forward in our journey of faith? Questions will be raised, but not all will be answered.” By Dennis Coday, National Catholic Reporter

Sister finds that faith sustains when institutions fail
“It’s a gorgeous spring day, and the sunshine is pouring into the bedroom of Dominican Sr. Sally Butler’s apartment in the Fort Greene neighborhood, brightening the already cheery lavender-painted walls … Butler, 86, can’t get out of bed because of spinal stenosis and arthritis. And even if she could, for the past 24 years, she says, she has had to find her connection to Christ outside the church. Though she has been in religious life for nearly 70 years, Butler is unable to believe in the institutional church anymore(link is external). But her faith in God, she says, has never been stronger.” By Dan Stockman, Global Sisters Report, National Catholic Reporter

‘Uncommon conversation’ on sex abuse falls silent
“An ‘uncommon conversation’ is on hold in Minnesota. After meeting a decade ago at a sex abuse treatment conference, Gil Gustafson and Susan Pavlak each came to see in their pasts a possible way forward(link is external) for their home archdiocese, St. Paul-Minneapolis, as it struggled to deal with the scandal of clergy sexual abuse. Pavlak, now 62, was sexually abused as a child by a teacher who was a former nun at a Catholic school. Gustafson, now 66, pleaded guilty in 1983 to sexually abusing a teenage boy, and has since admitted to abuse of three other male minors.” By Brian Roewe, National Catholic Reporter

‘All of us together’: Sex abuse survivor seeks healing within the church
“In this interview, Susan Pavlak, a lifelong resident of St. Paul, Minnesota, describes being sexually abused by her high school religion teacher(link is external), a former nun, beginning in 1970. The abuse, according to Pavlak, happened on several occasions over four years. The alleged perpetrator, whom Pavlak has chosen not to identify by name in this interview, has never been charged in a criminal court; and Pavlak has never sought damages from any party in a civil court.” By Luke Hansen, National Catholic Reporter

Convicted soul: a priest-perpetrator of child sexual abuse shares his story
“Gilbert Gustafson was ordained a priest in the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis in 1977, served as an associate priest at St. Mary of the Lake Parish in White Bear Lake, Minnesota, until 1982, pleaded guilty to the sexual abuse of a minor(link is external) in 1983, and served four and a half months in jail and 10 years’ probation. Gustafson has admitted to abusing four boys between 1978 and 1982. He was not criminally charged in the other cases.” By Luke Hansen, National Catholic Reporter

The clergy’s task is unfinished in confronting sex abuse
“The story of Marie Collins, an Irish victim of clergy sex abuse and a witness of unimpeachable integrity(link is external), is a dual tale of how far the church has come in acknowledging and handling the scandal and of how wholly and demonstrably incapable the Catholic clerical culture is of dealing with its own sin. Collins was one of two survivors of clergy sex abuse who were appointed in 2014 to the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, an agency created by Pope Francis. She resigned the commission in March … Three years after her appointment, she wrote: ‘I have come to the point where I can no longer be sustained by hope. As a survivor, I have watched events unfold with dismay.’” By Tom Roberts, National Catholic Reporter

POPE FRANCIS

Can anything burst Pope’s media bubble? Probably not
“Next March will mark the five-year anniversary of Francis’s papacy, and one interesting question is whether the broad media love affair with Francis will still be in place(link is external) when that moment comes. John Allen says “probably yes,” because by now the positive narrative surrounding Francis has become so entrenched as to be basically impervious to reconsideration.” By John L. Allen, Jr., Cruxnow.com

Vatican article says ‘main obstacle’ for Pope Francis is bishops, priests
“Shortly after one Vatican article stirred debate by asserting there’s an ‘ecumenism of hate’ in the U.S. between conservative Evangelicals and Catholics, another over the weekend asserted that the ‘main obstacle’ to implementing Pope Francis’s vision for the Church is ‘closure, if not hostility’ from ‘a good part of the clergy(link is external), at levels both high and low.’” By Crux Staff, Cruxnow.com

Pope Francis’ next act
“These four very different departures (Cardinal George Pell, Cardinal Gerhard Mueller, Cardinal Joachim Meisner and Cardinal Angelo Scola) have a combined effect: They weaken resistance to Francis in the highest reaches of the hierarchy(link is external). And they raise the question facing the remainder of his pontificate: With high-level opposition thinned out and the Benedict/John Paul II vision in eclipse, how far does the pope intend to push?” By Ross Douthat, The New York Times

CARDINALS

Headed to court, Cardinal Pell is no stranger to controversy
“Cardinal George Pell, who this week will become the highest ranked church official ever to face sex abuse charges in court(link is external), may be the most polarizing religious leader in Australia’s brief history. The former Archbishop of Sydney will appear in the Melbourne Magistrate’s Court on July 26 to answer yet-unspecified charges of historical sexual abuse involving multiple complainants, which he resolutely denies. The complaints apparently long predate his present Vatican role as prefect of the Secretariat for the Economy, often but misleadingly referred to as number three in the Vatican hierarchy behind the pope and secretary of state. It is a staggering fall from grace for the combative cardinal.” By Barney Zwartz, National Catholic Reporter

Cardinals on two sides of the Hudson reflect two paths of Catholicism
“Two very different books about being Roman Catholic and gay were released recently, each with an endorsement from a cardinal who oversees an archdiocese along the Hudson River(link is external). Cardinal Joseph W. Tobin, the archbishop of Newark, endorsed ‘Building a Bridge,’ calling it ‘brave, prophetic and inspiring.’ The book calls on church leaders to use preferred terms like ‘gay’ instead of ‘same-sex attraction,’ as a sign of respect to gay Catholics. Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan, the archbishop of New York, endorsed ‘Why I Don’t Call Myself Gay,’ a memoir by a Catholic man who resisted his homosexual attractions and who now leads a celibate life inspired by the Gospel.” By Sharon Otterman, The New York Times
— Real story of Tobin and Dolan in NY: try ‘America past acrimony(link is external),’ By John L. Allen, Jr., Cruxnow.com

Cardinal Muller’s self-delusion and sense of entitlement
“Cardinal Gerhard Müller’s criticism of Pope Francis’ termination of his tenure(link is external) as prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith is simply astonishing. His complaint is that he had no warning and the termination was a summary dismissal. I don’t know where the cardinal has been in recent months. But it doesn’t seem to have been in Rome.” By Michael Kelly, S.J., LaCroix International
— Former doctrine chief denies false account of papal meeting(link is external)By Junno Arocho Esteves, Cruxnow.com

BISHOPS

Why Pope Francis’ appointment of the new archbishop of Milan is a big deal
“The Vatican announced on July 7 that Pope Francis had appointed Auxiliary Bishop Mario Delpini as the next archbishop of Milan(link is external), succeeding the retiring Cardinal Angelo Scola. Bishop Delpini, a native of the archdiocese, lives in a very modest home mostly for retired priests about a mile northeast of the cathedral, with its old and venerable archbishop’s palace across the piazza. He is in close contact with the clergy of the archdiocese, where he has served most of his priestly life.” By Edward W. Schmidt, America: The Jesuit Review

WOMEN IN THE CHURCH

Austria: more and more girls as altar servers
Altar service is still attractive for children and teenagers(link is external): it is confirmed by the figures presented by Simon Mödl, in charge of the service for the ‘Young Church’ from the archdiocese of Vienna. With respect to the decrease in other sectors, said Mödl to the agency of the Austrian Catholic Church Kathpress, ‘here, figures are incredibly stable, and the flow of boys and girls is constant.’ Following a research, from 2014, almost 55% of the over 45 thousand Austrian altar servers – including 10 thousand in the archdiocese of Vienna only – have been female.” By SIR: Servizio Informazione Religiosa, agensir.it

VATICAN

New website for Vatican Dicastery for Laity, Family, Life
“The Vatican’s Dicastery for Laity, Family and Life has a new way to interact with the world: a new website(link is external) launched this week. The new site offers news about the Dicastery’s activities, as well as social updates and videos. Explaining its mission, the Dicastery says, ‘The new website, in addition to telling about the Dicastery’s activities, wants to become a familiar place for lay people and families, where everyone will feel at ease and have [a] chance to be heard.’” By Vatican Radio

CLERICALISM

That sneaky clericalism
“Jesus warned about it. Luther revolted against it. Pope Francis is trying to deal with it. Yet clericalism – a priest or clergyman placing himself above the laity(link is external) – is still alive. We all know its effects are negative: abuse of power, passivity of the laity (“pray, pay, and obey”) and “project[ing] an image of power and privilege” of the Church in the context of poverty. Conceretely, it’s why many have left the Church in disillusionment. So why does clericalism continue?” By Henoch Derbew, The Jesuit Post

VOICES

Catholicism between reform and counter-reform: reading Congar 50 years later
“‘We [now] live in the ‘transparency society’ and the stories of clerical sex abuse and (to a lesser degree) financial misconduct paint a very different picture of the Church than the one from Congar’s time(link is external),’ says Massimo Faggioli.” By Massimo Faggioli, La Croix Inernational

Evangelical fundamentalism and Catholic integralism in the USA: A surprising ecumenism
“In God We Trust. This phrase is printed on the banknotes of the United States of America and is the current national motto … A motto is important for a nation whose foundation was rooted in religious motivations(link is external). For many it is a simple declaration of faith. For others, it is the synthesis of a problematic fusion between religion and state, faith and politics, religious values and economy.” By Antonio Spadoro and Marcelo Figueroa, La Civlita Cattolica
— Italian Jesuit magazine criticizes political attitudes of some U.S. Catholics(link is external)By Joshua J. McElwee, National Catholic Reporter
— Exclusive interview: Antonio Spadaro on his article about ‘The Ecumenism of Hate’ in the U.S(link is external)., By Gerard O’Connell, America: The Jesuit Review
— Cardinal Schonborn: Moral theology needs both principles and prudence,(link is external) By Austen Ivereigh, Cruxnow.com
— Editorial: Complicity harmed church’s cultural standing(link is external)By National Catholic Reporter
— Vatican speaks out against fundamentalism, again(link is external)By Pat Perrillo, National Catholic Reporter

CHURCH FINANCES

Catholic parishes to pay higher fees
“To help Guam’s Catholic Church correct past financial mismanagement, pay debts and properly fund chancery operations, village parishes will see an average of 186-percent increases in assessment fees(link is external). This means up to a 1,146-percent hike for the Maina parish, for example, which used to pay only $107.82, church data shows. The Dededo parish, the biggest, will be assessed $10,763.45 instead of the $5,481.26 imposed six years ago, or an increase of 96 percent.” By Haidee Eugenio, Pacific Daily News

Questions multiply by the day in latest Vatican money scandal
“Italian Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, the former Secretary of State under Pope emeritus Benedict XVI, has denied rumors of involvement in a scheme(link is external) to overpay for remodeling on his Vatican apartment in order to benefit an Italian businessman and longtime friend. Meanwhile, questions remain about how the businessman was able to bill two different Vatican departments almost $1 million for the same work, which was never even finished.” By Crux Staff, Cruxnow.com

Priest admitted in 2007 to using parish checks for home construction
“A decade before he was charged with embezzlement(link is external), Rev. Jonathan Wehrle admitted to writing checks from St. Martha Parish to pay for the construction of his $1.48 million home. In November 2007, Wehrle told lawyer Michael Ryan that at times he transferred money from his personal accounts to the church’s account, then issued checks from the church’s account for personal use.” By Beth LeBlanc, Lansing State Journal

STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS REFORM

Legislator wants tougher hidden predator act to pursue sex offenders
“When his bill extending the statute of limitations for victims of childhood sexual abuse to file civil claims was signed into law in 2015, State Rep. Jason Spencer (R-Woodbine) knew it didn’t go far enough(link is external). The lawsuits that have been filed since the Hidden Predator Act took effect bear him out. While the law allows victims to go after the individuals they say abused them, the businesses and nonprofits that allegedly enabled or covered up predatory behavior have so far avoided any potential financial liability.” By Christian Boone, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Statute of limitations on child abuse cases should be longer
“Rarely does a month go by without us having to publish a police or court report involving an adult who has victimized a child sexually(link is external). It was only a few short weeks ago we reported charges against a Cassadaga man accused of alleged sexual conduct with a child under the age of 11. There are enough such cases for Patrick Swanson, county district attorney, to suggest adding money to his budget next year to assign a prosecutor solely to sexual crimes against children.” By The Post-Journal

CLERGY CHILD SEXUAL ABUSE

‘The Keepers’: here’s what has happened since the Netflix series debuted
“‘The Keepers’ debuted two months ago, and since then, filmmaker Ryan White has seen positive developments in the case(link is external): More victims have spoken out and police are investigating further into Father Joseph Maskell’s past life.” By Beatrice Verhoeven, SFGate.com

How the Catholic Church’s hierarchy makes it difficult to punish sexual abusers
“…While reforms in the Catholic Church in the United States have made it mandatory for priests to report instances of sexual abuse, there still remains much work to be done(link is external) in the Catholic Church worldwide. From my perspective as a Catholic scholar of religion, one of the challenges in tackling this issue is the hierarchy of the church itself. It is still difficult to hold high-ranking clerics responsible, either for the misdeeds of their subordinates or for the crimes that they may have committed themselves …” By Mathew Schmalz, SFGate.com

ILLINOIS

Catholic order settles abuse case years later
“The Claretians Roman Catholic order has settled a lawsuit from a man sexually abused as a 6-year-old(link is external) by a teenager who later became a prominent priest in Chicago, confirming in the settlement obtained by The Associated Press that the longtime cleric recently left the priesthood. But Bruce Wellems, 60, still works as executive director of a nonprofit that offers youth mentoring, alternative schooling and other programs for children, according to a staff list at the Peace and Education Coalition. Its head office is also located in the same southwest side Chicago church where he served as priest for two decades.” By Michael Tarm, Chicago Daily Law Bulletin

KANSAS

Father claims Overland Park priest ‘tickled,’ touched young daughter
“Hours after the Archdiocese of KCK announced the suspension of priest Scott Kallal on Tuesday (Jul. 18), a man who claims his daughter was sexually assaulted(link is external) by Kallal came forward with new allegations. The Archdiocese announced in a statement Monday (Jul. 17) afternoon that Kallal was suspended from his position at Holy Spirit Catholic Church in Overland Park after two sources came forward with allegations of wrongdoing.” By KSHB-TV

MASSACHUSETTS

Paul Shanley, priest at center of clergy sex abuse scandal, to be released
“One of the most notorious figures in the Boston clergy sex abuse scandal(link is external) has completed his prison sentence on child rape charges and will be released this week (Jul. 26) after two experts hired by prosecutors found he does not meet the legal criteria to be held as a sexually dangerous person. Paul Shanley was known in the 1960s and ’70s for being a hip street priest who reached out to troubled youths.” By Denise Lavoie, Associated Press, on WBUR.org

Man sues Boston Archdiocese citing sex abuse at orphanage
“A New York man is suing the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Boston for sexual abuse he says he suffered decades ago(link is external) at a church-affiliated home for orphaned and foster children. Andre Jones, who’s 51, said Monday (Jul. 17) that he was abused in the 1970s by the late Brother Edward Anthony Holmes, a supervisor and counselor at the now-shuttered Nazareth Child Care Center.” By Philip Marcelo, Associated Press

PENNSYLVANIA

Disgraced Catholic priest loses appeal of ‘sex tourism’ convictions for molesting orphans
“A former Catholic priest from Somerset County who was convicted of engaging in ‘sexual tourism(link is external)’ to molest poor orphans in Honduras has lost an appeal of his nearly 17-year prison sentence. That defeat came this week when the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit rejected Joseph D. Maurizio Jr.’s claims that he didn’t receive a fair trial.” By Matt Miller, PennLive.com

Advocacy group demands Greensburg Diocese release ‘secret files’
“An advocacy group believes that Greensburg Bishop Edward Malesic may be withholding evidence, hidden in secret files(link is external) known as Canon 489 files, pertaining to the arrest of the Rev. John T. Sweeney. The group thinks the files could contain evidence of the sexual abuse of children. Diocesan law describes the files as archives meant to be ‘kept secret, locked, and protected.’ On Tuesday (Jul. 25), the Diocese said it has turned over every file on Sweeney, including the Canon 489 files, to the attorney general.” By WTAE-TV Pittsburgh

Court upholds priest’s sex-abuse conviction involving orphans in Honduras
“A federal appeals court on Monday (Jul. 24) upheld the conviction of a former Somerset County priest who was found guilty in 2015 of traveling to Honduras to sexually abuse orphans(link is external) and sentenced last year to more than 16 years in federal prison. The Rev. Joseph D. Maurizio Jr., who at the time of his September 2014 arrest was the pastor at Our Lady Queen of Angels Parish in Central City, had asked the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit to overturn his conviction.” By Mark Pesto, Tribune-Democrat

Retired Westmorland County priest accused of forcing boy to perform oral sex
“A now-retired Roman Catholic priest is accused of forcing a 10-year-old Pennsylvania boy to perform oral sex on him after counseling the 4th-grader about misbehaving on a school bus. The state attorney general’s office said Monday (Jul. 24) that the Rev. John Thomas Sweeney committed felony involuntary deviate sexual intercourse(link is external) against the boy at St. Margaret Mary Elementary School in Lower Burrell.” By Associated Press on WJACTV.com

Western Pennsylvania Catholics, victims react to latest abuse arrest
“Area Catholics and ex-Catholics who testified before a state grand jury that met in 2014 to investigate Roman Catholic clergy sexual abuse(link is external) reacted Monday (Jul. 24) to the news of another abuse allegation with a mixture of relief and anger. ‘Being one of those people who came forward, this is a very proud day for me,’ said Shaun Dougherty, 47, formerly of Johnstown. ‘If this arrest came as a result of anything I testified to … that’s why I came forward.’” By Stephen Huba, TribLive.com

AUSTRALIA

Priest John Denham to face fresh Taree child sex allegations
“Convicted child sex offender Catholic priest John Denham has been charged with fresh offenses after a man alleged he was sexually abused(link is external) at Taree in the late 1970s by Denham, senior Maitland-Newcastle priest Barry Tunks and two other men. Manning/Great Lakes Local Area Command detectives charged Denham, 76, with three sexual assault offences more than two months after charging former Vicar General Barry Tunks, 76, in March with three indecent assault offences against the same boy in Catholic Church facilities at Taree.” By Joanne McCarthy, Newcastle Herald

George Pell braces for first court appearance amid accusations of Salem which hunt and slaughter of lambs
“People who have accused Cardinal George Pell of molesting them could be ‘lambs to the slaughter’ when legal proceedings begin(link is external), a Victorian lawyer representing sex abuse survivors fears. Australia’s most senior cleric will appear in Melbourne Magistrates’ Court next week on multiple historical sex charges, which one of Pell’s close friends has likened to a Salem witch hunt.” By Mark Saunokonoko, 9news.com.au

What are Catholics parishes doing to guard against child sexual abuse?
“The Catholic Church has acknowledged the number of priests identified by the child abuse royal commission is indefensible(link is external), and says it is working hard to make sure the abuse is never repeated. But what does that mean for local parishes making changes to protect children into the future?” By Eliza Borrello, ABC News Australia

Cardinal ‘knew about priest’s conviction’
“Australia’s first Catholic cardinal suspended a priest who exposed himself to children but the man later returned to parish work and allegedly abused a boy(link is external), documents before a royal commission reveal. The Catholic Church’s insurance company refused to cover a claim that Father Robert Alban McNeill abused a boy in the 1980s because of Sydney archdiocese’s prior knowledge in 1969/1970 of ‘the offender’s propensities.” By Megan Neil, Australian Associated Press, on News.com.au
— Cardinal Pell hires ‘Australia’s best lawyer’ to fight historic sex charges for rumored $11,000 a day(link is external)By Josh Hanrahan, Daily Mail Australia

CANADA

‘It killed part of me,’ clergy abuse victim says
“An Ottawa man has become the latest victim to sue the Archdiocese of Ottawa for sexual abuse that he allegedly suffered(link is external) at the hands of the city’s most notorious Catholic priest, Rev. Dale Crampton. Robert Sullivan has filed a $2-million damages claim for abuse that he says began when he was just 10 years old.” By Andrew Duffy, Ottawa Citizen

GUAM

Former priest, Boy Scout leader, accused in new abuse suits
“A man on Tuesday (Jul. 18) filed a lawsuit, alleging that now-deceased Boy Scouts of America scout leader Edward Pereira raped and sexually abused him(link is external) in the early 1970s. It is the first of 93 sexual abuse lawsuits that does not name the Archdiocese of Agana as a defendant. Another lawsuit filed Tuesday (Jul. 18), by a man now living in California, alleges that now-deceased priest Ray Techaira sexually abused him when he was a Catholic school student in the mid-1980s.” By Haidee Eugenio, Pacific Daily News

Five more sex abuse lawsuits filed against the Church
“Nearly 100 sex abuse lawsuits(link is external) have been filed against the Church. Late Thursday afternoon (Jul. 14), five more cases were filed in the District Court of Guam. 53-year-old R.W.J., 50-year-old P.P.R., and 58-year-old W.E.T. all allege they were molested by Father Louis Brouillard. P.P.R. goes into detail saying that aside from being exposed to the priest naked as well as naked swims it the river, the priest would molest him in a room behind the Church altar. The priest would tell the young boy that it was what God wanted him to do and that it was a sin if he didn’t do as Brouillard asked.” By Krystal Paco, KUAM-TV

Victim alleges sex abuse before grandma’s funeral
“Attorney David Lujan filed five more clergy sex abuse lawsuits(link is external) against the Archdiocese of Agana, Boy Scouts of America and two former Guam priests in federal court yesterday (Jul. 12) afternoon. One of the cases alleges defrocked priest Raymond Cepeda abused a boy after officiating the funeral Mass for the boy’s deceased grandmother, and while in a car ride to the burial site. The latest cases also added more cases against former Guam priest Louis Brouillard.” By Neil Pang, The Guam Daily Post

Guam’s Catholic Church could sell 41 properties to settle abuse cases
“The Guam Catholic church’s financial arm on Thursday (Jul. 13) released a list of 41 non-essential properties that could be sold to help settle more than 90 Guam clergy sexual abuse cases(link is external). The most valuable of the assets are the former Accion Hotel, which now houses the Redemptoris Mater Seminary in Yona, the chancery complex where the archbishop lives, and the former Thomas Aquinas High School in Ordot, the Archdiocesan Finance Council said.” By Haidee Eugenio, Pacific Daily News

INDIA

Kerala: Catholic priest held for sodomizing two boys
“A Kerala priest accused of sodomizing minor boys(link is external) was arrested by the police on Tuesday (Jul. 17). The suspect Fr. Saji Joseph, 45, was director of St. Vincent’s Balabhavan at Meenangadi in Waynad district. He was accused of sodomizing minor boys staying in the hostel since 2016. The incident came to light after a victim confided the ordeals to his mother when he went home for vacation recently.” By Gladwin Emmanuel, Mumbai Times

IRELAND & NORTHERN IRELAND

Irish priest who exposed pedophile to sue Florida diocese for defamation
“An Irish priest has been given permission by a US court to sue the West Palm Beach diocese over defamation. Father John Gallagher, a Tyrone native, claimed the Florida diocese tried to cover-up a pedophile priest(link is external) in the diocese. Gallagher exposed him and was shunned and defamed as a result. In January 2015, Gallagher (49), who has served in Florida since 2000, helped to report criminal misconduct by Fr. Jose Palimattom, a priest of the Franciscan Province of St. Thomas the Apostle in India, who was serving a two-year residency at Holy Name of Jesus Parish, in West Palm Beach.” By Staff at Irish Central

No justice for a life destroyed
Victims of historic abuse(link is external) in state care are fighting back, demanding justice – in cash and apologies – to help rebuild broken lives. But some are going further. In the second part of ODT Insight’s special investigation, Chris Morris tells Darryl Smith’s story.” By Chris Morris, Otago Daily Times

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