Posts Tagged news

Voice of the Faithful Focus


June 14, 2017


Pope tells Nigerian priests accept bishop or be suspended
“Pope Francis is giving priests belonging to the Diocese of Ahiara, Nigeria, 30 days to write a letter promising obedience to him(link is external) and accepting the bishop appointed for their diocese; priests who do not write will be suspended, according to Fides, the news agency of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples.” By Cindy Wooden, Catholic News Service, in National Catholic Reporter
Online campaign tries to raise doubts about Pope’s Nigeria edict(link is external), By Ines San Martin,

Annual audit of church abuse allegations shows work still needed
“The 14th annual report on diocesan compliance with the U.S. Catholic Church’s Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People shows that church leaders have taken steps to help many find healing as victims of clergy sexual abuse, but there is still work to be done(link is external) … Any allegation involving a current minor should remind the bishops that they must rededicate themselves each day to maintaining a level of vigilance.” By Carol Zimmerman, Catholic News Service

No one is monitoring former abusive priests
“The parents of boys who accused a priest of sexual abuse(link is external) wrote to the Chicago Archdiocese more than two decades ago: ‘You’re repeatedly asking ‘what do we want’? It’s one more insult. ‘What we want’ should be totally obvious. We want something done about these priests.’” By Nicole Sotelo, National Catholic Reporter

Married priests: Groups call on U.K. church to have national, courageous conversation
“The ordination of married men to the priesthood(link is external) ‘needs to be explored openly within the church in England and Wales at national and diocesan levels,’ the retired bishop of Portsmouth, England, has said. Speaking to NCR, Bishop Crispian Hollis said he was ‘increasingly aware’ of the pressure which priests are under due to the shortage of priests.” By Sarah Mac Donald, National Catholic Reporter
Priests’ group accuses bishops of refusing to support pope’s openness to reform(link is external), By Christa Pongratz-Lippitt, La Croix International

French cardinal to face new legal action over pedophile cover-up
“Almost a year after the French justice system decided to drop criminal proceedings against Cardinal Philippe Barbarin, the archbishop of Lyon, and six others for failing to report sexual abuse of boy scouts committed by a priest, the case has been reopened(link is external) … ‘If we stop now, who will bring the debate into the public domain?’ said François Devaux, the head of La Parole Libérée (‘Lift the Burden of Silence’).” By Bénévent Tosseri, La Croix International

The church must build ‘spiritual ramps’ to sex abuse survivors
“ … But what about the Catholic faithful who are inhibited from entering the church(link is external), not by a physical disability but a sacramental one? When survivors of sexual abuse by members of the clergy encounter the symbols of Christianity through which they were abused, they may experience feelings ranging from severe discomfort to panic attacks. I consider these ‘sacramental disabilities.’ By Lea Karen Kivi, America: The Jesuit Review (Ms. Kivi is a member of Voice of the Faithful’s Broken Vessel™ Healing Circles program leadership committee)


We’re watching Pope Francis institutionalize his vision
“Pope Francis on Friday(Jun. 9) took part in a dedication ceremony for a new Vatican headquarters for ‘Scholas Occurentes,’ dedicated to building networks of schools around the world(link is external). Like the World Meeting of Popular Movements, Francis is institutionalizing his vision, ensuring that his initiatives to promote social activism and hear the voices of the base will survive his papacy and form part of his legacy.” By John L. Allen, Jr.,

Pope’s friend says Francis simply doesn’t fit any ideology
“Marcelo Figueroa, a Protestant and a close friend of Pope Francis who is now editing the Argentinian edition of the Vatican newspaper ‘L’Osservatore Romano(link is external)‘ in order to get past the local spin on the pope’s words, says that ‘trying to match or relate Francis to an ideology, be it an economic or political one, whatever the name of the ideology, is a mistake.’” By Ines San Martin,


Council of Cardinals considers decentralizing authority over permanent deacons
“The group of cardinals advising Pope Francis on reforming the Vatican bureaucracy has considered specific ways to decentralize authority in the Catholic church, proposing in particular that more responsibility for permanent deacons could move from Rome to local bishops’ conferences(link is external). The nine member Council of Cardinals spoke in their June 12-14 meeting about ‘transferring some faculties from the Roman Curia to local bishops or bishops’ conferences,’ Vatican spokesman Greg Burke said in a short briefing June 14.” By Joshua J. McElwee, National Catholic Reporter

Pope names five new cardinals, all from outside Italy and Vatican
“Pope Francis is to elevate five Roman Catholic prelates(link is external) from outside Italy and the Vatican to the rank of cardinal, the elite group of churchmen who are his closest advisers and can enter a conclave to choose his successor.” By Philip Pullella, Reuters, on Religion News Service
Francis names five new cardinals, including associated of Oscar Romero(link is external), By Joshua McElwee, National Catholic Reporter

Eyeing Catholic demographics, and maybe his successor, Pope Francis shakes up his cardinals
“Throughout his papacy, Pope Francis has been appointing cardinals from far-flung parts of the world — choosing men who appear to be toiling away at pastoral work with little or no interest in becoming ‘princes of the church.’(link is external) Next month (July), during their council, or consistory, Francis will formally induct five more of them into the exclusive club, meaning that he will have appointed close to half of those who will elect his successor. It is these prelates who, at an unspecified date in the future and providing they are under the age of 80, will process into the Sistine Chapel during the next conclave.” By Christopher Lamb, Religion News Service


Fostering safe environments in the Church
“On June 14, as they begin the spring meeting of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) in Indianapolis, the bishops of the United States will celebrate a ‘Mass of Prayer and Penance’ for survivors of sexual abuse within the Church(link is external). This is a good and important occasion. Sexual abuse is a heinous crime, one that cries out for penance and prayer. This is especially true when the Church, the sacrament of salvation, is the setting in which sexual abuse has taken place, violating sacred trust and causing real spiritual harm.” By J.D. Flynn, National Catholic Register

Immigration, religious liberty and synod on agenda for bishops’ meeting
“The proverbial plate is full of issues for U.S. bishops(link is external) to tackle at their upcoming spring assembly June 14-15 in Indianapolis. They will discuss issues ranging from immigration to religious freedom, as well as the Synod of Bishops on youth and the Fifth National Encuentro gathering, both coming up in 2018. ‘We’re certainly going to talk about the upcoming convocation in Orlando, some of the specific plans,’ said Bishop Oscar Cantu of Las Cruces, New Mexico, referring to the Convocation of Catholic Leaders: The Joy of the Gospel in America, July 1-4, in Orlando, Florida.’” By Rhina Guidos, Catholic News Service, in National Catholic Reporter


Pope tells Nigerian priests to accept bishop or be suspended
“Pope Francis has demanded obedience from priests(link is external) in a Nigerian Diocese where the bishop has been unable to take up residence. Nigerian church leaders met Francis to discuss the situation of Bishop Peter Ebere Okpaleke, who was appointed bishop of Ahiara by then-Pope Benedict XVI in 2012, but has been rejected by the clergy because he is not from the diocese.” By Cindy Wooden,
Three ironies about a dramatic show of papal muscle in Nigeria(link is external), By John L. Allen, Jr.,


From ‘Spotlight’ to ‘Keepers,’ Richard Sipe sees celibate priesthood as problem for the Catholic Church
“Richard Sipe, the former priest who spent 25 years studying the sexual behavior of the Catholic clergy, appears in ‘Keepers,’ the Netflix documentary series about the unsolved murder of Sister Catherine Cesnick and the monstrous abuse of some of her students … Sipe famously helped the Boston Globe reporters who broke the story of widespread abuse by priests in Massachusetts … He argued then, and argues now, that child sexual abuse by the clergy should be addressed as part of an examination of celibacy(link is external), which, he says, stunts the psychological development of priests, leaving them emotionally unprepared for the celibate life.” By Dan Rodricks, Baltimore Sun


No more audible gasps in church, please
“Recent events in the Hartford Archdiocese underscore our church’s profound challenges(link is external), yet also point the way to toward a better future. Archbishop Leonard Blair recently announced a sweeping and painful reorganization: consolidating 212 churches down into 126 … As part of that process, one parish’s congregants were briefed about the broader context. Since 1969, the number of Catholics in the archdiocese had declined by 69 percent; the number of priests had fallen by roughly two-thirds. One parishioner told National Catholic Reporter that such statistics were greeted by an audible gasp in the church … Consider that ‘audible gasp’ as an indictment of sorts and a cry to do things differently from now on: parishioners should never be in a position to be shocked by news about the ongoing health of their own parishes and diocese.” By Chris Lowney, National Catholic Reporter

Catholic parishes prepare for changes to take effect June 29
“Parishes across the Archdiocese of Hartford are facing big decisions as they prepare(link is external)for a long-anticipated reorganization plan, which takes effect June 29. Creating single parishes by merging two or more has broad implications, ranging from the emotional to the pragmatic, including questions of what will be done with church buildings, stained glass windows and other religious items, and how best to consolidate parish staff.” By Jordan Otero Sisson, Hartford Courant
Long decline in attendance led to Catholic church mergers(link is external), By Daniela Altimari, Hartford Courant


The Case for Women Deacons
Dr. Phyllis Zagano discussed the ordination of women deacons recently with Sebastian Gomes of Salt + Light Catholic Media in Canada. Listen to the conversation(link is external) as Phyllis cites the presence of women deacons from the first years of the Church through the 12th century and how a focus on priesthood gradually eliminated the idea of permanent deacons. Now that the permanent diaconate has been restored by the Second Vatican Council, why shouldn’t it extend to women as well, just as in the past? By Salt+Light Catholic Media in Canada


Patriarchy, not nature, makes women unequal
“In a new collection of papers published by an Indian pontifical college, a diverse range of bishops, theologians and lay professionals challenges the global Catholic church to break down ecclesial structures that place women on an unequal or subservient standing(link is external). As Bishop Joshua Mar Ignathios, one of the contributors to ‘Gender Justice in the Church and Society: Papers of the Second DVK National Seminar on Moral Theology’ (Dharmaram Publications, 476 pages, $25), puts it: The women who prayed with men in the Gospel accounts were there ‘not to cook for them but to pray along with them.’” By Joshua J. McElwee, National Catholic Reporter

Catholic young women launch self-led initiatives across U.S. after forum
Catholic women from dioceses across all 50 U.S. states(link is external) have decided to put their faith into action. In a forum sponsored by the Council of Major Superiors of Women Religious more than 300 women carried out ‘action plans’ following the June 2016 Given Forum at The Catholic University of America.” By Catholic News Service on

Uphold a woman’s right to contribute fully to society, pope says
“The more women are involved in and contribute to communities, politics, economics and the church, the more positive changes will come about, Pope Francis said. ‘Women are fully entitled to actively take part in all settings,(link is external) and their rights must be affirmed and protected, including through legal instruments wherever it may prove necessary,’ he said June 9. The pope was speaking to members, consultors and guests of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, which was holding its plenary assembly in Rome June 7-9. Participants had discussed the role of women in teaching universal fraternity.” By Carol Glatz, Catholic News Service, in National Catholic Reporter


Cardinal-designate from Mali charged with hiding funds in Swiss bank accounts
“An investigative report in the French daily Le Monde charges(link is external) that Catholic bishops in Mali—including one recently named by Pope Francis to become a cardinal—have placed €12 million ($13.5 million) in Swiss bank accounts.” By


Cuomo’s silence is deafening as time runs out on child sex abuse bill
“As the state’s legislative session winds to a close, Gov. Andrew Cuomo has yet to announce his support for the Child Victims Act(link is external) despite his promises to survivors that he’d help get a bill passed this year. The act, which would extend the restrictive time frame for victims of child sexual abuse to seek justice, recently sailed through the Assembly with a vote of 139 to 7 before stalling, as such bills do, in the state Senate.” By Lauren Evans, The Village Voice

Assembly passes child victims act
“In a historic moment and after years of lobbying, an emotionally charged State Assembly today passed the Child Victims Act legislation(link is external), 129-7, extending the statute of limitation for criminal and civil child sex abuse cases. It was the first time that either chamber of the legislature has approved the measure after 10 years of lobbying.” By Kings County Politics

Statute of limitations bills stalled
“It’s been several months since I’ve written about efforts to extend legislative justice to more victims of child sex abuse in Pennsylvania. That’s mostly because those efforts are stalled(link is external). I’ll get back to that.” By Bill White, The Morning Call

Sexual abusers shouldn’t be allowed to run the clock
“I was only 9 years old when my landlord’s teenage son led me into the basement with the promise of new toys. Instead, he forced me to touch him. He made me do things(link is external) my young body and mind weren’t prepared to do. I distinctly remember how the damp floor and walls smelled of mildew, and how cold it was. I begged him to stop.” By Fabio Cotza, The New York Times


Let’s call child sexual abuse in the church what it is: Catholic extremism
“…The royal commission has heard from victims of abuse in many religious and state-run institutions, but the Catholic church (my church, and Abbott’s too) stands out(link is external). Over 4,000 cases of sexual abuse in the Catholic church were reported to the royal commission. These reports showed wilful ignorance by church leaders, systematic shielding of abusers and a continual preference for the perpetrator and the institution over the victim. …” By Kristina Kelly, The Guardian

Fifteen years after Dallas, a seven-part series
“The 2002 Dallas Bishops’ Conference was a barn-burner. On the heels of the Spotlight series and scandals in dioceses across the nation, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops got together at their annual June meeting to put together ‘massive reforms.’ Those reforms became the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People and its accompanying Norms … So, in honor of the 15th anniversary of the 2002 Dallas Charter, I thought I would take a look at some recent scandals that show us that the problem is far from over(link is external) and that any glad-handing on behalf of the members of the USCCB this week is just for show. Nothing has changed, except the window dressing. The Charter, which the Bishops have been hailing as ‘watershed’ document in child protection, I contend, is a massive failure. Fifteen years after Dallas, the protesters may be gone, but the disgust remains.” By Joelle Casteix, The Worthy Adversary

‘I lost faith in God … But I’m now pursuing faith in justice’: child sexual abuse survivors lobby for reform
“Inspired by his oath of honesty when enlisting in the Navy, 21-year-old recruit Shaun Dougherty decided to be truthful about what had happened to him as a child. He finally opened up to his parents on his first Christmas break from the boot camp in 1991. Dougherty told them about the three-year long sexual abuse(link is external) he had endured in 1980 starting at age 10 as a fifth-grader at St. Clement School in Johnstown, Pennsylvania. His abuser was George Koharchik ― a longtime Catholic priest, pastor at St. Clement Church, and Dougherty’s basketball coach and religion teacher. His parents, who had attended the Mass conducted by Koharchik for many years at the same church where young Shaun was an altar boy, did not believe him.” By Ilgin Yorulmaz, Huffington Post


Settlement paid to sexual abuse victim from Norwalk Catholic Church
“A male victim of sexual abuse(link is external) at the hands of a Norwalk Catholic priest in the 1970s and ’80s will be paid an undisclosed financial settlement, one of five such settlements in Connecticut recently approved by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Bridgeport, reports the Stamford Advocate.” By Alfred Branch, Norwalk Patch


Judge denies new trial for St. Louis priest’s accuser; orders her to pay
“A judge has denied a woman’s request for a new civil trial seeking damages against a Roman Catholic priest(link is external) after a Lincoln County jury in April found insufficient evidence that he fondled her at her home. St. Louis Circuit Judge Steven Ohmer on Monday also ordered the woman to pay legal expenses of the St. Louis Archdiocese and the Rev. Xiu Hui “Joseph” Jiang totaling $48,516.84. Ohmer’s order requires she pay $19,316.51 to the archdiocese and $29,200.33 to Jiang.” By Joel Currier, St. Louis Post-Dispatch


Kentucky Catholic priest reaches plea deal on sex abuse
“A Catholic priest has reached a plea agreement on sexual abuse charges(link is external) that occurred at a summer camp that he ran for decades in Kentucky. R. Joseph Hemmerle was facing allegations of abuse from a second person who said Hemmerle abused him at Camp Tall Trees in Meade County. Hemmerle was also convicted in November of abusing a boy who attended the camp in the 1970s and sentenced in February to seven years imprisonment. Prosecutors say Hemmerle’s plea deal for sexual abuse and wanton endangerment calls for an additional two years imprisonment and eight years of probation.” By Dylan Lovan, Associated Press in The Washington Post


Court rejects child molesting priest’s appeal
“An appeals court has rejected the appeal of a former priest convicted of rape(link is external), molestation and sexual battery of children. Mark Broussard was convicted by a Calcasieu Parish jury last spring of five child sex charges. The crimes occurred while he was a Catholic priest in the 1980s. He’s no longer a priest; he left the church in 1994, according to evidence presented at his trial.” By KATC-TV


‘Keepers’ priest Maskell spent time in Ireland, now under scrutiny
“Public health officials in Ireland say they are reviewing the work history of the Catholic priest profiled in the Netflix series ‘The Keepers,’ who was employed as a psychologist in that country after leaving Baltimore amid sexual abuse allegations(link is external). The priest, A. Joseph Maskell, worked in Wexford for about seven months in 1995 as a temporary clinical psychologist for an Irish public health board, according to the national health agency there. He later worked in private practice in Ireland between 1995 and 1998, church officials in Ireland say.” By Alison Knezevich, The Baltimore Sun


Judge laments $15 million in legal fees in St. Paul-Minneapolis archdiocese bankruptcy
“The judge overseeing the bankruptcy of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis expressed concern Thursday (May 18) over the legal fees being racked up in the case — about $15 million to date. ‘It bothers me so much that all these attorney fees are being run up,’ U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Robert Kressel said at a hearing Thursday(May 18), adding that legal fees are consuming funds that could be directed to survivors(link is external) of archdiocese clergy sex abuse.” By Jean Hopfensperger, Star Tribune


Syracuse diocese, former priest facing lawsuit over sexual abuse claims
“A California man is suing the Syracuse Catholic Diocese and a former priest for $25 million, claiming that he was sexually abused(link is external) nearly 30 years ago, according to the criminal complaint. The lawsuit was filed on Friday, June 2, in Connecticut by Matthew Strzepek who alleges former priest, Felix Colosimo, molested him from 1987 through 1990 when he was only 12-15 years old.” By Justine Marschner,

Seven victims name priests who sexually abused them as children
“Seven men who were abused as children by priests(link is external) of the Archdiocese of New York revealed on Thursday (May 18) some of the details of the settlements they had received through the archdiocese’s new sexual abuse survivor compensation fund. Since October, more than 100 victims have settled their sex abuse cases with the archdiocese by taking their claims to the Independent Reconciliation and Compensation Program. But very few details have been revealed because the program keeps the cases confidential, and no victims have yet spoken out.” By Sharon Otterman, The New York Times


Allentown Diocese Catholic priest pleads guilty to child pornography charges, but says has no memory of images
“A Roman Catholic priest who was forced to step down after child pornography was discovered on his computer(link is external) pleaded guilty Thursday (Jun. 8) in Lehigh County Court. Monsignor John S. Mraz, formerly of St. Ann Catholic Church in Emmaus, told Judge Maria L. Dantos that he didn’t remember downloading the child pornography but didn’t contest that he possessed it.” By Laurie Mason Schroeder, Allentown Morning Call
Priest who had child pornography on computer pleads guilty(link is external), By Associated Press in Pocono News


Priest removed from ministry after allegations of abuse
“A Catholic priest in the Yakima Valley town of Granger has been removed from all public ministry following allegations by a young man that the priest sexually abused him(link is external). The Catholic Diocese of Yakima said Monday (Jun. 12) that it took the action against the Rev. Gustavo Gomez Santos from Our Lady of Guadalupe parish.” By Associated Press in The Dispatch, Granger, Washington


Former Catholic priest, 75, jailed for just four months
“A predator Catholic priest who fondled an eight-year-old girl(link is external) in 1974 will spend just four months behind bars after pleading guilty to the historic sexual abuse offences. Friar Anthony Colbourne, now aged 75, pleaded guilty in the Brisbane District Court on Tuesday (May 23) to indecently assaulting the girl on four separate occasions in the presbytery and his office.” By Daniel Peters, Daily Mail Australia

Fifty years on, Melbourne priest charged with sexual assault of Aboriginal girls
“A retired Catholic priest from Melbourne has been charged with the sexual assault of four Aboriginal girls(link is external) at a West Australian orphanage more than 50 years ago. Father Allan Mithen, 78, was recently arrested in Clifton Hill over the sexual abuse that allegedly occurred when he served as rector at the Wandering Mission between 1965 and 1969.” By Cameron Houston, The Age, Victoria

Catholic Archbishop Philip Wilson seeks to have charge of hiding child sex abuse thrown out
“Lawyers for Catholic Archbishop of Adelaide Philip Wilson, accused of concealing child sex abuse(link is external) in the Maitland-Newcastle diocese, have fronted court again for their third attempt to stop the case against him from going ahead. Wilson, who has retained his position amid the criminal proceedings, is accused of failing to pass onto police information he had between 2004 and 2006 that might have helped convict Father Jim Fletcher.” By Karl Hoerr, ABC News Australia
Archbishop Philip Wilson failed in third bid for permanent stay against conceal charge(link is external), By Sam Rigney, The Newcastle Herald

Australian police closer to deciding Vatican abuse charges
“Australian police said Wednesday (May 17) they were a step closer to deciding whether to charge a top Vatican cardinal over allegations of sexual assault(link is external) dating back decades. Cardinal George Pell, Pope Francis’ top financial adviser and Australia’s most senior Catholic, has long been dogged by allegations he mishandled cases of clergy abuse when he was archbishop of Melbourne and, later, Sydney. More recently, Pell has faced accusations of child abuse himself when he was a young priest in the 1970s. Pell, who runs the Vatican’s economy ministry, has repeatedly denied all the allegations.” By Associated Press on ABC-TV News Australia

Catholic Priest who repeatedly raped and assaulted boys is facing jail
“Father Eugene Fitzpatrick, 68, was found guilty of the horrific attacks(link is external) at Blackfriars Crown Court yesterday after he denied all charges. He raped one boy multiple times between 1986 and 1992 while working at Our Lady and Saint Joseph Roman Catholic Church in Balls Pond Road, Islington.” By Sam Gelder, Islington Gazette


Catholic Church sent pedophile priests away ‘for them to be fixed’: prosecutors turned blind eye to abuse
“The Catholic Church in Scotland has admitted it made a ‘huge mistake’ by sending pedophile priests away to be ‘fixed’(link is external) rather than prosecuting them. A senior cleric said yesterday (Jun. 7) that abuse was seen as a ‘sin’ and the church focused more on ‘treating’ child molesters than on helping their young victims. He said there were occasions when prosecutors turned a blind eye and agreed not to bring charges on the condition abusers received therapy, with their crimes seen as a ‘moral fault that could be fixed by prayer and retreat.’” By Graham Grant, Daily Mail


New priest named in sexual abuse lawsuit
“A 14-year-old altar boy who aspired to be a priest in the early 1980s is the latest victim to come forward alleging sexual abuse by a member of the clergy(link is external). Francis Charfauros, who now resides in Arizona, filed a lawsuit in the District Court of Guam against the Archdiocese of Agana and the Capuchin Franciscans accusing the late Father John ‘Jack’ Niland of sexually abusing and molesting him when he was a young boy.” By Mindy Aguon, The Guam Daily Post

Guam reaches Vatican, global audience a year since clergy sex abuse exposed
“Within a year since former altar boy Roy Quintanilla came forward on May 17, 2016 to accuse Archbishop Anthony S. Apuron of sexually abusing him in the 1970s, not only has the Vatican promptly stepped in but also placed a global spotlight on Guam’s clergy sex abuses(link is external). ‘We’ve come a long way,’ Quintanilla told Pacific Daily News. ‘We wouldn’t have come this far were it not for the Catholic community’s support. It’s amazing what we can do as a community.’” By Haidee Eugenio, Pacific Daily News
11 Guam Catholic priests involved in sex abuse lawsuits(link is external), By Haidee Eugenio, Pacific Daily News, in USA TODAY

Former priest named in suits may reside in Barrigada
“A former Catholic priest who has been named in at least five sex abuse complaints(link is external)may still be residing on island. Raymond Cepeda, a former priest who was defrocked in December 2009 following an investigation into abuse allegations, is believed to be currently residing in Canada, Barrigada, according to attorney Gloria Rudolph, of the Law Office of Lujan and Wolff LLP, which represents the plaintiffs in the cases currently pending in federal court.” By Neil Pang, The Guam Daily Post


Downward trend in reports of new clerical child sex abuse allegations continues
“The Catholic Church’s child protection watchdog received reports of 72 new allegations of clerical child sex abuse as well as 10 of physical and emotional abuse in the year to March 31st 2017, as a downward trend in such allegations continues … Teresa Devlin, NBSC (National Board for Safeguarding Children) chief executive, noted however that an examination of the downward trend ‘shows we cannot assume the work is complete(link is external).’ Since 2009, when the NBSC began compiling such figures, ‘there have been years where the figures rose and only constant vigilance will keep children safe,’ she said.” By Patsy McGarry, The Irish Times

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Voice of the Faithful Biweekly News Roundup

Voice of the Faithful Focus

Highlighting issues we face working together to Keep the Faith, Change the Church

March 31, 2017


French TV inquiry accuses 25 bishops of abuse cover-ups
“A hard-hitting French television investigation has accused 25 Catholic bishops(link is external) of protecting 32 accused clerical sex abusers in France over the past half century and often transferring them to other parishes or even other countries when they were singled out for sexual abuse of minors.” By Tom Heneghan of The Tablet in National Catholic Reporter

Catholic leaders told to come down from the pulpit to deal with sexual abuse
Catholic leaders must come down ‘from the pulpit’(link is external) to acknowledge that clergy sexual abuse of children and cover-ups had broken the Church’s heart and to do more to prevent it, speakers at a conference said on Thursday, March 23.” By Reuters Media in the Duluth News Tribune

Vatican reform on sexual abuse has stalled
“Three weeks have passed since Marie Collins resigned from the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors(link is external), complaining that the group’s work has been thwarted by resistance from within the Roman Curia. A few days after her public announcement, Cardinal Gerhard Müller, the prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith defended his office and denied any foot-dragging on the abuse issue. Collins quickly shot back, rebutting the cardinal’s arguments.” By Phil Lawler,

O’Malley pledges pope still committed to rooting out clergy sex abuse
“In the midst of a month in which the effectiveness of Pope Francis’ measures to fight clergy sexual abuse has come into question(link is external), Boston Cardinal Sean O’Malley pledged Thursday (Mar. 23) that the pontiff is still ‘thoroughly committed to rooting out the scourge of sex abuse.’ O’Malley, the head of Francis’ Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, told participants of an education seminar hosted by the group that ‘there is simply no justification in our day for failures to enact concrete safeguarding standards for our children.’” By Joshua J. McElwee, National Catholic Reporter

How the church is combatting sexual abuse: an interview with Jesuit Hans Zollner
“‘The impression that Pope Francis is not hard enough on perpetrators is wrong(link is external). The general line of judgment and sentence has not changed,’ Hans Zollner, S.J., president of the Centre for Child Protection at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome, told ‘America’ in this interview in which he explains what the pope and the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors (PCPM) are doing to combat child abuse and ensure the protection of children in church institutions worldwide.” By Gerard O’Connell, America: The Jesuit Review

Cardinal’s plan for laypeople to lead parishes
“Cardinal Reinhard Marx has announced plans to allow laypeople in his Archdiocese of Munich to lead parishes(link is external) where there are no priests. In doing so he has strongly rejected the increasingly common option of coping with the dwindling number of ordained ministers by combining or “clustering” parishes. The 63-year-old cardinal is a top aide and advisor to Pope Francis.” By Christa Pongratz-Lippitt


Faith in Vatican lost
“A clergy sexual abuse survivor says he has lost faith the Vatican(link is external) will enact a reform to eradicate paedophile clergy from the Catholic Church. Peter Blenkiron said the Catholic Church was still focused on acting in the interests of its brand ahead of the protection of children.” By Melissa Cunningham, the Courier

Erie bishop publicizes priest dismissals
“A brief notice in a recent edition of the Catholic Diocese of Erie’s newspaper signals a new diocesan policy. Bishop Lawrence Persico is publicizing the names of priests who, from now on, have been permanently dismissed from the priesthood for disciplinary reasons(link is external) or removed from active clerical duty for reasons related to wrongdoing. The notice, in the March 5 edition of Faith Life, the diocese’s biweekly newspaper, states that Pope Francis has dismissed a former priest in the diocese, Samuel B. Slocum, 65.” By Ed Palattella,

Vatican maze: retracing the path of abuse accountability proposals
“Recent exchanges in the media between the head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and a former member of a papal advisory commission have highlighted a lack of clarity and transparency(link is external) when it comes to finding better ways to make bishops and religious superiors more accountable for how they handle allegations of sexual abuse.” By Carol Glatz, Catholic News Service

New canon law courses launched
“A leading canon lawyer believes accountability and transparency are critical(link is external) within Church institutions to ensure they reflect the Gospel values upon which they were founded, reports BBI-The Australian Institute of Theological Education. Emeritus Professor Francis Morrisey OMI was speaking at the official launch of BBI’s new Graduate Certificate and Graduate Diploma in Canon Law courses at the Polding Centre offices of the Archdiocese of Sydney on Monday (Mar.20).” By


Pontifical commission on clergy abuse expresses ‘strong support’ for Marie Collins
“Pope Francis’ commission on clergy sexual abuse has expressed its ‘strong support’ for a former member(link is external) of the group who resigned earlier this month due to frustration with Vatican officials’ reluctance to cooperate with its work to protect children. The Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors said in a statement late Sunday (Mar. 26) that the resignation of abuse survivor Marie Collins had been ‘a central topic’ of their discussions during their plenary assembly, held in Rome March 24-26.” By Joshua J. McElwee, National Catholic Reporter

Child protection commission seeks new ways to be informed by victims
“Following the resignation of a prominent member and abuse survivor(link is external), a pontifical commission charged with addressing issues related to clergy sex abuse vowed to continue to seek input from victims and survivors. The Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors said the resignation of Marie Collins was a ‘central topic’ of its March 24-26 plenary assembly, and it ‘expressed strong support for her continuing work’ to promote healing for abuse victims and ensuring best practices for prevention.” By Junno Arocho Esteves, Catholic News Service
Pope’s sex abuse board vows to go on without survivor member(link is external), By Associated Press in Chicago Tribune

Vatican abuse-prevention event ‘extremely important’ for church
“On Thursday (Mar. 23) a Vatican event on the prevention of child abuse(link is external) narrowed in on the importance of education in schools and parishes in the safeguarding of children – not only for teachers, but for parents and children – and on the Church’s role.” By Catholic News Agency
Protection of minors event draws swath of top Vatican leaders(link is external), By Elise Harris, Catholic News Agency

‘Vatican abuse commission wants compliant survivors, so I’m unlikely to return’
“Abuse survivor Peter Saunders has confirmed that he is unlikely ever to return to the Vatican’s abuse commission(link is external). Saunders, who was placed on indefinite leave from the commission last year, said that he was disappointed that Pope Francis had ‘never once visited’ the commission.” By Madeleine Teahan, Catholic Herald


Don’t blame Pope Francis for the confusion
“Some self-declared Catholic traditionalists have been complaining bitterly that there is much confusion and division within the Catholic Church(link is external) … They are right about one thing: there is a lot of confusion and division in the church. It’s just that it’s not the fault of Pope Francis.” By Robert Mickens, Commonweal


The Church’s seminary problem
“It is such a serious problem that, according to one noted church historian, not even Pope Francis dares to speak about it(link is external). It’s the outdated model of Catholic priesthood and, even more significantly, how candidates for the ordained ministry are selected and prepared for service among the People of God. Professor Alberto Melloni of the John XXII Foundation for Religious Sciences (Bologna, Italy) recently pointed out that the archetype of today’s priest dates back to over 400 years ago and the reforms stemming from the Council of Trent (1545-1563).” By Robert Mickens, Commonweal

‘Very serious’ decline in number becoming priests in Ireland
“Papal nuncio Archbishop Charles Brown has expressed alarm at the lack of vocations in Ireland(link is external), and at the age profile of existing priests. ‘We’ve a lot of priests in Ireland who are in their 70s, who are working right now. Some are in their 80s. In 10 years they’re not going to be working. We’re at the edge of an actuarial cliff here, and we’re going to start into a free fall.” By Patsy McGarry, The Irish News

Priest who quit over abuse cases leaves priesthood entirely
“In a period of time in which Marie Collins, clergy sex abuse survivor, resigned her place on a Vatican commission attempting to deal with new policies for dealing with clerical abuse, the spotlight has returned to these issues with new focus. A priest who resigned in frustration over mishandled abuse cases(link is external) has now decided to leave the priesthood entirely. The former vicar general of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis has left the priesthood, some three and a half years after his abrupt resignation amid allegations that church officials mishandled the case of a priest found with child pornography.” By Associated Press on


Revisiting ‘Liturgiam Authenticam’: an update
“In January, I wrote in ‘Commonweal’ that Pope Francis has authorized a review and revision of the document that gives the Church its guidelines(link is external) for liturgical translations: ‘Liturgiam authenticam.’ Since then, some additional facts have come to light that should raise our expectations further. First, a list of names of the people appointed to this commission was leaked on March 8 by a blogger in Spain … The list has been confirmed by a reliable source, although it has still not been announced publically by the Vatican.” By Rita Ferrone, Commonweal


Facing large decline in priest numbers, an Irish diocese preps for change
“In one Irish diocese, the number of active priests may halve in fewer than 15 years(link is external). As a result, Bishop Francis Duffy of Ardagh and Clonmacnois has aimed to prepare his flock to take on more active roles. ‘This ongoing development will impact every parish in the diocese and will bring about considerable change in how the parishes are organized and also in the way the Good News of Jesus Christ is passed on to succeeding generation,’ he said.” By Catholic News Agency

Oklahoma monks open one of first Catholic monasteries in Ireland since 1536
“An Oklahoma Catholic Benedictine community has opened what may be the first monastery to open in Ireland since 1536(link is external). The religious community in the priory has been steadily growing since 2012 and prior Dom Mark Kirby told the National Catholic Register ‘hardly a day passes when I do not receive a vocational inquiry.’” By Frances Mulraney, Irish Central


‘Amoris’ is much bigger than Communion debate, cardinal insists
“Pope Francis’s point man on the family said Thursday (Mar. 30) that by allowing discussion of the pontiff’s document ‘Amoris Laetitia’ to focus narrowly on Communion for the divorced and civilly remarried, the Church is playing with fire(link is external), because today the family is ‘under attack’ and needs to hear the full range of the document’s teaching.” By Ines San Martin,

Can Catholic dissent from Pope Francis’ teaching on the family? Wrong question.
“March 19 marks the one-year anniversary of the publication of ‘Amoris Laetitia(link is external),’ the apostolic exhortation promulgated by Pope Francis after the close of the latest session of the Synod of Bishops. For some, this anniversary is celebratory, a reminder of the synod’s prayerful study of the mission and vocation of the family. For others, it calls attention to what they see as the document’s dangerous ambiguities, particularly as they pertain to the pastoral care of Catholics who are divorced and civilly remarried.” By Peter Folan, S.J., America: The Jesuit Review


Married Catholic priests? I am one.
“Pope Francis—ever fond of stirring the pot—has made headlines again recently with a remark during an interview with a German paper suggesting a new openness to married priests(link is external). Married priests in the Catholic Church? It’s not really new. I am one. As a former Anglican minister, I have been ordained as a Catholic priest under a special measure called the Pastoral Provision even though I have a wife and four children.” By Dwight Longenecker, Newsweek

Now is the time for married priests
“It is time for the Catholic bishops to stop hoping for an increase in vocations to the celibate priesthood(link is external) and to acknowledge that the church needs married priests to serve the people of God. We cannot have a Catholic Church without sacraments, and a priest is needed for the Eucharist, confession, and anointing. At the Last Supper, Jesus said, ‘Do this in memory of me,’ not ‘have a celibate priesthood.’” By Thomas Reese, National Catholic Reporter


African lay woman warns hierarchy ‘don’t get complacent’
“Though a March 22-25 Rome summit on the African church featured four cardinals and several bishops, it was a lay woman from Nigeria who rang the loudest warning(link is external) bell, charging the powers that be with not getting complacent and allowing the faithful to get ‘lost in the crowd’ among ever-expanding numbers.” By Ines San Martin,


Retired priest gets three-week sentence in money laundering case
“A retired Catholic priest pleaded guilty to money laundering(link is external) stemming from his involvement in an overseas scheme that defrauded women seeking companionship online. He was sentenced to time served (three weeks) because of a mental condition that impaired his judgment. The Rev. Thomas B. Fleming, 67, a resident of Dodge Park Rest Home, originally pleaded not guilty to 12 counts of money laundering. He changed his plea to guilty on one count.” By Craig Semon, Worcester Telegram & Gazette

Santa Clara Catholic priest guilty of stealing donations
“A Roman Catholic priest who once ran the Vietnamese Catholic Center for the Diocese of San Jose was convicted in federal court on March 21 of 14 counts of bank fraud for diverting parishioners’ donations(link is external) into his personal bank account. Hien Minh Nguyen, 57, was found guilty by U.S. District Judge Beth Labson Freeman of San Jose, who conducted a nonjury trial on the charges in February.” By Los Gatos Patch

Durham priest admits stealing £50,000 from church
“A Catholic priest has admitted abusing his position by fraudulently taking at least £50,000 of church money(link is external) over more than four years. Father John Charles Leo Reid could be facing a prison sentence after changing his plea to guilty at Durham Crown Court.” By

Retired Michigan priest arrested in Grand Forks on embezzlement charges
“A Michigan priest who retired to Grand Forks is in the process of being extradited to his home state after being charged with embezzling hundreds of thousands of dollars(link is external)from his former church. Rev. David Ernest Fisher, 70, was arrested at his Grand Forks home on March 11 on an extradition order from Shiawassee County, Mich.” By Andrew Hazzard, Grand Forks Herald


CNMI Law to help clergy abuse survivors get help, justice
“Three months after the CNMI lifted the statute of limitations on child sex abuse cases(link is external), retired Saipan bishop Tomas A. Camacho faced accusations he raped an altar boy in the 1970s. Camacho also is a former Guam priest.” By Haidee Eugenio, Pacific Daily News

Sister Maureen: It’s time to put victims first
“For decades, the hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown has covered up the sexual abuse of children while transferring errant priests from parish to parish, place to place, year after year(link is external). In this, it is not unlike other dioceses in Pennsylvania, including the Archdiocese of Philadelphia … Now, a year after the 2016 release of an equally scathing grand jury report on the Altoona-Johnstown diocese, an ‘independent oversight board’ is being created to ‘protect diocese children from sexual abuse in the church.’ Had it not been for that grand jury report, the cover-up would likely have continued as business as usual in the Altoona-Johnstown diocese as it has in many states across the country.” By Sister Maureen, The Tribune-Democrat

Breda O’Brien: Pope Francis must prioritize child safety
“Pope Francis has just completed four years of his pontificate. From the moment Jorge Bergoglio greeted Rome and the world with ‘Buona sera,’ he has been controversial(link is external). That is no bad thing. Jesus himself was controversial, to the extent that people left him in droves, unable to stomach his teachings.” By Breda O’Brien, The Irish Times

Cardinal George Pell could turn key witness against Catholic Church
“Cardinal George Pell could turn key witness against the Catholic Church(link is external) on behalf of sexual abuse victims. In an unprecedented move, the cardinal, the church’s third-most senior official, is expected to be summonsed to testify in a string of lawsuits against former Ballarat bishop Ronald Mulkearns.” By Shannon Deery, Herald Sun

The Vatican is ‘all words, no action’ on addressing child sex abuse
“When Pope Francis named two victims of clergy sexual abuse(link is external) to a new Vatican commission on the protection of minors in 2014, some observers took it as a sign that the pope was getting serious about the issue. But Marie Collins says there was still some skepticism. ‘A lot of people felt that I was just being asked [to join] the commission as a sort of token survivor,’ says Collins, who was sexually abused as a child by a Catholic priest in Ireland. ‘I wanted to be sure that the commission was sincere.’” By Matthew Bell, Public Radio International


Sex abuse suits against Hawaii priest persist
“The Roman Catholic Diocese of Honolulu has settled one of three civil lawsuits that allege a prominent retired Big Island priest sexually molested teenage boys(link is external) decades ago, according to the attorney for the plaintiffs in the cases. Mark Gallagher, a Kailua, Oahu, attorney said Monday (mar. 20) the settlement of the 2013 suit brought by two men known only as John Roe 6 and 7, concerns only the diocese and ‘there is no dismissal of any claims against Father George DeCosta.’” By John Burnett, Hawaii Tribune Herald, in West Hawaii Today


Civil trial alleging St. Louis archbishop knew priest was dangerous to begin in Lincoln County
“Jury selection is set for Monday (Mar. 27) in a civil trial in which a Lincoln County teenager and her family have accused St. Louis Archbishop Robert Carlson of knowing a priest was a danger to children(link is external) before the cleric was charged with molesting the teen in 2012.” By Joel Currier, St. Louis Post-Dispatch


Fewer priest accusers to testify at ex-official’s retrial
“A judge will allow ‘prior bad act’ testimony from perhaps only one other church-abuse victim(link is external) when a church official is retried on child endangerment charges. Monsignor William Lynn is being retried after serving nearly three years of a three- to six-year sentence in a child endangerment case.” By Associated Press

Priest retires after inconclusive Vatican review of abuse claim
“A Roman Catholic priest is retiring and will not participate in public ministry after a Vatican investigation found it could not determine whether a single allegation of past sexual abuse(link is external) by him could be proven. Bishop David Zubik granted the Rev. John P. Fitzgerald’s request for immediate retirement, the diocese said in a statement Wednesday.” By Peter Smith, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Slocum defrocked by Pope Francis
“Five years after his conviction for having an inappropriate relationship with a teenage boy(link is external), former Bradford priest Samuel Slocum has been defrocked by Pope Francis. Bishop Lawrence Persico confirmed to ‘The Era’ on Monday (Mar. 20). ‘He’s no longer ‘Father,’ he’s just Mr. Sam Slocum now.’ Reached via email on Monday, Slocum, 65, declined to comment.” By Marci Schellhammer, Bradford Era


Police charge serving Newcastle Catholic priest with historical child sex offenses
“A Newcastle Catholic priest has been charged with historical child sex offences(link is external) on a boy between 1979 and 1980 on the Mid North Coast. The 76-year-old priest – who is still serving within the Catholic Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle – was arrested and charged at noon on Thursday (Mar. 23).” By Manning River Times

Catholic priest in court on abuse charges
“A Victorian Catholic priest facing historical child sex abuse crimes(link is external) will have his court hearing adjourned until July after it was revealed the judge set to hear the case had an indirect link to one of the victims. Father Frank De Dood, of the Salesian order, faced a plea hearing in the County Court in Melbourne on Thursday (Mar. 16), charged with six child sex abuse related crimes dating back to 1978.” By Melissa Iaria, Australian Associated Press, in Melbourne Herald Sun

Catholic church ‘failed’ Canberra parents by housing disgraced priest near schools
“The Catholic Education Office in Canberra has admitted it ‘absolutely failed parents’ over a church plan(link is external) to quietly house a disgraced priest beside two primary schools. The priest was dismissed from the ministry for behaving inappropriately towards children. In 2014, he was moved into a home for retired priests neighboring the Saints Peter and Paul Primary School and Malkara Specialist School in Garran.” By ABC News Australia


French Catholic bishops accused of ‘covering-up sex abuses’
“Twenty-five French bishops have been covering up scores of cases of sexual abuses by Catholic priests(link is external), French media revealed on Tuesday (Mar. 21) in a report reminiscent of the Spotlight investigation into clergy sex abuse.”  By
25 French bishops accused of covering up hundreds of sex abuse cases(link is external), By


Another Catholic priest faces child abuse case in Kerala
“A Catholic priest from Mananthavadi diocese in Wayanad was booked for allegedly trying to sexually abuse a minor girl(link is external) in his room in the church. Two days back, the District Child Welfare Officer Sheeba Mumtas received secret information that a girl was allegedly molested by a priest in Mananthavadi. The officer acted quickly and recorded the statement of the victim. The plus-two student told the officer that Jino Mekkatt, a co-priest of a church in Choondakkara under Mananthavadi diocese, misbehaved with her after summoning her to his room in the church in September last year.” By

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