Posts Tagged Pope Francis

Voice of the Faithful Focus News Roundup


March 27, 2020

TOP STORIES

The American parish today
“A few years ago Commonweal published a special issue on parishes in the U.S. We sent out correspondents to report on what they encountered … These dispatches provided an interesting, eclectic account of what it meant to worship in different parishes in different parts of the U.s.. At the same time, such an approach was unable to take the full measure of the changes remaking the U.S. Catholic Church(link is external)—most of all the significant changes in demographics and geography, set against the backdrop of declining vocations and broader trends in religious disaffiliation—and what they meant for local communities of Catholics.” By The Editors, Commonweal

Reporting system to record abuse complaints against bishops begins
“A reporting system accepting sexual misconduct allegations against U.S. bishops and eparchs is in place(link is external). Called the Catholic Bishops Abuse Reporting Service, or CBAR, the system became operational March 16. The mechanism incorporates a website and a toll-free telephone number through which individuals can file reports regarding a bishop. The website is ReportBishopAbuse.org. Calls can be placed at (800) 276-1562.” By Dennis Sadowsky, Catholic News Service, in Catholic Standard

Retrial of U.S. Catholic official delayed over virus concerns
“The retrial of the only church official who has ever gone to prison in the Roman Catholic Church sex abuse scandal was delayed Monday (Mar. 16) because of the coronavirus outbreak(link is external). The retrial of Monsignor William Lynn, the longtime secretary for clergy in the Philadelphia archdiocese, had been to start Monday in Philadelphia Common Pleas Court but was put on hold until January amid court shutdowns meant to slow the spread of the pandemic.” By Maryclaire Dale, Associated Press

Theologian says clerical sexual abuse ‘always about abuse of power’
“Karlijn Demasure taught religion at a secondary school for girls in Belgium when she first came across child abuse. It turned out a girl was sexually abused at home and no one at the school knew exactly what to do(link is external). ‘The psychiatrist associated with the school was also unable to help us,’ said Demasure. ‘Should we address the father that we knew about it and that it shouldn’t be happening? Should we send the girl to therapy? Nobody knew. This episode made me decide to go back to university for further study, and to specialize as a theologian in this field. We must help these children.’” By Joke Heikens, Katholiek Nieuwsblad, on Cruxnow.com

Court-appointed official says Vatican failing on accountability in Nienstedt case
“A court-appointed official for the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis is alleging that the Vatican’s Congregation for Bishops is failing to comply with new protocols for bishop accountability(link is external) created by Pope Francis with regard to a potential investigation into former Archbishop John Nienstedt. Nienstedt led the archdiocese from 2008 until resigning under fire in 2015 after charges of failing to protect children from sexual abuse. In addition to allegations that he actively covered up for abusive priests, Nienstedt has been the subject of investigations regarding his own misconduct.” By Christopher White, Cruxnow.com

Post-reformation theology of the priesthood influenced abuse crisis, author says
“My (Clare McGrath-Merkle, OCDS, DPhil,) work has been focused mainly on the theology of the priesthood and its possible role, if any, in the crisis of sexual abuse and cover-up(link is external). The causes of the crisis are, of course, varied, but I have wanted to try to understand how this theology might have somehow contributed to a clerical identity prone to the abuse of power.” By Charles C. Camosy, Cruxnow.com

ACCOUNTABILITY

Priest chaplain at Sisters of Loretto Motherhouse had abuse record
“In January, Lindsey Faust and her partner visited the Loretto Motherhouse in Nerinx, Kentucky, for a mini vacation. Faust was a former volunteer with Loretto Volunteers and shared a rapport with the sisters and community members. It was almost like home to her. During their stay, Faust’s partner, out of curiosity, inquired about the priest who lived there, celebrating daily Mass. It was then that a community member revealed details about Fr. J. Irvin Mouser that no volunteer knew. Mouser, a priest from the Archdiocese of Louisville, was removed from public ministry in 2002 on charges of child sex abuse(link is external).” By Sarah Salvadore, National Catholic Reporter

Erie, other dioceses unveil system to report bishops
“The creation of the nationwide Catholic Bishop Abuse Reporting Service grew out of the clergy abuse crisis. Roman Catholic dioceses nationwide have launched a system to report claims of abuse against bishops(link is external), the Catholic Diocese of Erie announced on Tuesday (Mar. 17). The Catholic Bishop Abuse Reporting Service, which started operating on Monday, grew out of a document called ‘Vox estis lux mundi,’ or ‘You Are the Light of the World,’ which Pope Francis issued in May 2019 after an international meeting of bishops in Rome in February 2019 to address clergy sexual abuse.” By Erie Times-News Staff

You’ll need a strong stomach to digest Revelation’s insights into child sexual abuse in the Catholic church
“Despite an extensive royal commission, scores of criminal trials and excellent books such as Louise Milligan’s Cardinal and David Marr’s The Prince, there are still some unanswered questions about child sexual abuse in the now-tattered narrative of the Catholic church in Australia(link is external). These include: why did these priests do such horrible things? How did they justify their crimes to themselves and to God? What kind of conversations may they have had with, say, their archbishop or monsignor, once they were rumbled by a parent or teacher or victim?” By Brigid Delaney, The Guardian

POPE FRANCIS

What lies ahead for Pope Francis as he enters the eighth year of his pontificate
Today (Mar. 13) is the seventh anniversary of the election of Pope Francis(link is external). It is a holiday in the Vatican, but it takes place under the most extraordinary circumstances dominated by the coronavirus pandemic that began in China and then spread worldwide, infecting some 138,000 people in at least 117 countries. So far it has caused the deaths of more than 5,000 people, including more than 1,200 in Italy.” By Gerard O’Connell, America: The Jesuit Review

CARDINAL PELL

Cardinal Pell’s lawyers move quickly to file documents
“Lawyers for Cardinal George Pell have already filed supplementary material with the High Court amid hopes of a quick decision in his appeal(link is external). The cardinal’s legal team was asked to file a short note on the evidentiary relationship between the two separate incidents of abuse of which he was convicted. The note was filed on Friday (Mar. 13) night following the second and final day of his appeal. Sources close to the case doubt the issue will impact the decision in any significant way.” By CathNews.com

PRIESTS

U.S. Hispanic Catholics are future, but priest numbers are dismal
“Maria Chavira, a senior administrator in the Diocese of Phoenix, says Spanish-speaking Catholic parishes in her area are ‘bursting at the seams(link is external)’ and celebrates the emergence of Hispanics as the largest ethnic component of the church nationwide. Throughout the Southwest, where the surge has been dramatic, Roman Catholic leaders are excited by the possibilities — and well aware of daunting challenges.” By David Crary, Associated Press, in The Island Packet

WOMEN RELIGIOUS

Emerging communities: Religious life is changing, but changing to what?
“At almost every national gathering of sisters in the United States in recent years, the speakers say, ‘Religious life is changing.’ However, no one knows what it is changing to(link is external). There might be a way to get a snapshot of what is to come. In 2017, the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate at Georgetown University published the third edition of a directory, ‘Emerging U.S. Communities of Consecrated Life since Vatican II,’ that lists each operating religious community in the United States that was formed since 1965, the year the Second Vatican Council ended.” By Dan Stockman, Global Sisters Report, National Catholic Reporter

WOMEN DEACONS

Advocate says quest for female deacons not over, despite silence in pope’s Amazon document
“There’s arguably no one in the United States that has championed the cause of women deacons more the Phyllis Zagano(link is external) – a senior research associate-in-residence at Hofstra University – who was tapped by Pope Francis in 2016 to serve on the Vatican commission to study the historical evidence as to whether there were women deacons in the early Church. While many had expected that Pope Francis would green light the proposal to ordain women as deacons in the Amazon after last October’s Synod on the region, instead the pope has said that he would reconstitute a new commission to study the issue further.” By Christopher White, Cruxnow.com

CHURCH FINANCES

Former Rapid City priest convicted on 65 counts in theft, wire fraud and money laundering scheme
“A formerly ordained priest of the Catholic Diocese in Rapid City, South Dakota, was found guilty by a federal jury of wire fraud, nine counts of money laundering, transportation of stolen money, and making and subscribing a false tax return(link is external). During the trial, evidence was shown that Marcin Stanislaw Garbacz, 41, while employed as a priest with the Catholic Diocese of Rapid City, arranged a plan to steal money from that was collected from parishioners from various churches.” By NewsCenter1.tv

CHILD PROTECTION

Child protection pioneer McChesney to receive Notre Dame’s Laetare Medal
“Kathleen McChesney, a leading trailblazer in the fight against clergy sexual abuse, will receive the highest honor in the U.S. Catholic Church(link is external). On Sunday (Mar. 22), the University of Notre Dame announced that McChesney, who worked for decades in law enforcement before being tapped to establish and lead the Office of Child Protection for the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), will be awarded the 2020 Laetare Medal, the nation’s oldest and most prestigious Catholic award.” By Christopher White, Cruxnow.com

CLERICALISM

Top anti-abuse expert says ‘paternalistic’ is worse than clericalism
“German Jesuit Father Hans Zollner, one of the Catholic Church’s leading experts in child protection, has said that more dangerous than clericalism in the clerical abuse crisis is a ‘paternalistic’ attitude within the Church(link is external) that both devalues laypeople and puts clergy on a pedestal. While clericalism has become a hot-button issue under Pope Francis and while it certainly contributes to the problem of abuse, ‘What I think is a deeper problem is the paternalistic attitude that exists, said German Jesuit Father Hans Zollner in an interview with Crux.” By Elise Ann Allen, Curxnow.com

VOICES

To heal the church from the sex abuse crisis, we need apologies, not just policies
“The day after New Year’s my husband and I packed up our six children and drove to the Encounter Conference, in Toledo, Ohio, where 3,000 Catholics gathered for three days of inspiring talks, Eucharistic adoration and Mass. I’ll admit it: I limped into the Encounter. Since the summer of 2018, the revelations of grave sexual abuse committed by Catholic clergy in the highest echelons of the church hierarchy has left me devastated and grieving(link is external).” By Colleen Duggan, America: The Jesuit Review

Editorial: How do women convince a male clerical culture to change?
“Indian Cardinal Oswald Gracias had to know when he declared that he had undergone a conversion and was now an advocate for women seeking leadership roles in the global church(link is external) that those words would not be the last on the subject. Gracias made his comments during a Feb. 21 interview with NCR’s Vatican correspondent, Joshua McElwee. Gracias is not just any cardinal. The archbishop of Mumbai, he is also president of the Indian bishops’ conference and a member of Pope Francis’ Council of Cardinals.” By National Catholic Reporter Editorial Staff

STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS

Bill advances that aims to deliver justice for adults abused as children
“After a couple of failed attempts in recent years, Georgia lawmakers are again advancing legislation to allow adults who were victims of sexual abuse more time to sue organizations that employed their abuser(link is external). This latest version of the Hidden Predator Act passed the House late last week and its fate is now in the state Senate. Its author, Warner Robins Republican Heath Clark, said the bill raises the age a victim can bring a civil suit for child sexual abuse from 23 to 38 years and expands the amount of time a victim can bring suit from two years after becoming aware of the abuse to four years.” By Ross Williams, Georgia Recorder

Shaw: Abuse victims should be able to take civil action
“It is time for the North Dakota Legislature to open a new window, so victims of sexual abuse can seek civil action against their abusers(link is external). Many of the perpetrators were or are Catholic priests. Many of the victims were children. They were frightened, ashamed and traumatized. By the time they realized the seriousness of the offenses against them or had the courage to come forward, the statute of limitations had expired for them to take legal action.” By Jim Shaw, The Dickinson Press

CLERGY CHILD SEXUAL ABUSE

Priest on PBS special offers frank accounting of past, hope for future
“If you tune in to the PBS special ‘Inside the Vatican,’ slated to air 9-11 p.m. EDT April 28, you’ll have to wait more than an hour and a half to see him, and to hear what he has to say. But German Jesuit Father Hans Zollner’s words are a necessary tonic, even if it’s sonic castor oil to some(link is external). Father Zollner wears many hats.” By Mark Pattison, Catholic News Service, in Catholic Courier

The Catholic Church hires ‘fixers’ to cover up sexual abuse – now they’re speaking out
“As survivors of child sex abuse continue speak out against the priests that attacked them, the Catholic Church continues to hide credible accused priests(link is external), allowing them to live, shop, walk, and freely roam communities throughout the US. But the communities the Catholic Church have chosen to set up these places of respite, where hundreds of priests die peacefully, without ever facing criminal charges, are carefully chosen. One former monk says his main task while employed by the church was to cover up and displace child molesting priests.” By Mick S. Grewal, The Legal Examiner

CONNECTICUT

Danbury clergy sexual abuse case to resume later this month
“The case of a former local priest accused of sexually assaulting two boys(link is external) is scheduled to resume in two weeks. Jaime Marin-Cardona, 51, is charged with three counts of fourth-degree sexual assault, three counts of risk of injury to child and three counts of illegal sexual contact. He pleaded not guilty to all nine charges. The warrant for Marin-Cardona’s arrest alleges that he groomed two boys over the course of four years, and sexually abused one of them over the same period of time.” By Kendra Baker, The Register Citizen

FLORIDA

Diocese finds 1976 sexual abuse allegations against former St. Augustine priest ‘credible’
“A retired St. Augustine Catholic priest was accused of sexually abusing a minor(link is external) 44 years ago in a recent complaint, the Diocese of St. Augustine announced in a statement Monday (Mar. 23). Father John H. Dux, a former clergyman at the Cathedral Basilica in St. Augustine, was immediately suspended indefinitely in May 2019 after the alleged victim’s attorney sent the Diocese a copy of the complaint.” By Matt Bruce, The St. Augustine Record

IOWA

Diocese of Des Moines investigating priest accused of sexual misconduct
“A Catholic priest has been placed on administrative leave by the Diocese of Des Moines after allegations of sexual misconduct in the 1990s(link is external) surfaced. The Rev. Robert ‘Bud’ Grant was placed on leave March 4, the diocese said Wednesday (Mar. 18) morning. A complaint about sexual misconduct was made to Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller’s office last fall, the diocese said. The complaint involves an incident that allegedly occurred in the early 1990s, according to the diocese.” By Philip Joens, Des Moines Register

LOUISIANA

Archdiocese paid settlements for priest accused of sex, would not answer questions about bankruptcy, report says
“A New Orleans Archdiocese attorney said Wednesday (Mar. 11) the church paid out four financial settlements in cases involving former priest Lawrence Hecker, who is accused of sexually molesting children(link is external). According to The Times-Picayune | The New Orleans Advocate, attorney Dirk Wegmann also said in court the church found out about at least one abuse allegation against Hecker in 1988. That is 14 years before he was removed from public ministry.” By WVUE-TV8 News

MICHIGAN

Former priest returns to Michigan to face additional sex abuse charges
“A former Michigan priest who relocated to New Mexico has returned to the state to face additional charges for allegedly sexually abusing children(link is external) decades ago. Gary Allen Jacobs was formally arraigned late Tuesday in Ontonagon County on two additional criminal sexual conduct cases that he reportedly committed in the 1980s while serving as a priest under the Catholic Diocese of Marquette in the Upper Peninsula.” By WWJNewsRadio.radio.com

MINNESOTA

Bankruptcy judge approves New Ulm Diocese’s clergy sexual abuse settlement
“Bankruptcy Judge Robert Kressel’s final approval clears the way for the 93 clergy abuse survivors to begin receiving compensation under the settlement(link is external). It also marks the end of a three-year bankruptcy process for the diocese. The diocese also has committed to 17 child protection protocols. In a statement, Bishop John LeVoir of New Ulm apologized for the harm abuse survivors endured and said he knows the settlement can’t make amends for all that was taken from them.” By Joe Ruff, The Catholic Spirit

NEW MEXICO

Lawyer: Archdiocese moved assets before bankruptcy filing
“A creditors committee of clergy abuse survivors believes the Archdiocese of Santa Fe moved assets to hinder creditors before it filed for bankruptcy(link is external) protection, a lawyer said. Attorney James Stang told a federal judge Monday that the committee may seek standing in the case to challenge the movement of assets, the Albuquerque Journal reports.” By Associated Press

NEW YORK

High-ranking Buffalo Diocese priest accused of misconduct
“An allegation of sexual misconduct against one of the region’s most high-profile priests(link is external) led to another shakeup in the Diocese of Buffalo on Saturday (Mar. 21). The Rev. Peter J. Karalus, one of the closest aides to acting Bishop Edward B. Scharfenberger, was placed by the bishop on administrative leave while an independent investigator looks into the allegation made against Karalus, the Buffalo Diocese announced Saturday.” By Dan Herbeck, The Buffalo News

Abuse plaintiff calls committee’s work ‘awesome responsibility’ to uncover the truth
“Richard Brownell recalled watching a 1993 television newscast in which the Rev. Bernard ‘Corky’ Mach, a popular Catholic priest assigned to a Lockport parish at the time, tearfully denied molesting a 14-year-old boy. Brownell immediately turned to his wife during the newscast and said the priest was lying. He told her the Rev. John Aurelio had sexually assaulted him when he was 11 or 12 years old(link is external), and Aurelio was a close friend of Mach. It was the first time he had told anyone about the abuse.” By Jay Tokasz, The Buffalo News

Judge orders Buffalo Diocese to release secret files for two ‘notorious’ priests
“Two weeks before the Diocese of Buffalo declared bankruptcy, a state judge ruled that the diocese must turn over the ‘secret files’ of two of its most ‘notorious’ pedophile priests(link is external). But most Catholics — and by extension, dozens of the priests’ alleged victims — are still barred from seeing the files because of conditions the judge placed on their disclosure. State Supreme Court Justice Deborah A. Chimes ruled Feb. 13 that after months of fighting their release, lawyers for the diocese must disclose the personnel files of Fr. Norbert F. Orsolits and Fr. William F.J. White.” By Charlie Sprecht, WKBW-TV7 News

Trustee in Buffalo Diocese bankruptcy appoints seven abuse victims to creditors committee
“A trustee for the federal bankruptcy court has selected seven people suing the Buffalo Diocese over clergy sexual abuse to serve on a creditors committee(link is external) that will investigate the diocese’s finances and negotiate a bankruptcy settlement. U.S. Trustee William K. Harrington interviewed at least 20 people for seven spots on the committee, which will represent all unsecured creditors and play a major role in formulating a reorganization plan for the diocese.” By Jay Tokasz, The Buffalo News

NORTH DAKOTA

North Dakota priest says he’s not sorry for sexually abusing two kids, but regrets the emotional trauma
“A disgraced former North Dakota priest said he’s not remorseful for sexual assaults he carried out on young children(link is external) decades ago. New documents released following an investigation into more than 50 Catholic Clergy from the Fargo and Bismarck Dioceses have named 53 priests with substantiated allegations of sexual abuse of a minor, including one Martin Cullen.” By Akshay Pai, MEAWW.com

PENNSYLVANIA

Prosecutors file notice of appeal of ruling in abuse case
“Prosecutors have filed a notice of appeal of a western Pennsylvania judge’s ruling throwing out the conviction of a retired Roman Catholic priest accused of having assaulted a boy(link is external) almost two decades ago. A spokesman for the Allegheny County district attorney’s office said Monday that the brief setting out reasons for the appeal to Superior Court in the case of the Rev. Hugh Lang will be filed at a later date.” By Associated Press

Msgr. Lynn on trial again for covering up clergy sexual abuse
“More than three years after his release from state prison, Monsignor William Lynn is scheduled to face a familiar, but unwelcome sight: a Philadelphia jury(link is external). Lynn, the first U.S. Catholic Church official to be convicted of covering up clergy sex abuse, will also face familiar allegations next week, when the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office begins retrying the 69-year-old on one felony count of child endangerment.” By Aaron Moselle, WHYY-FM National Public Radio

Victims expect more dioceses to declare bankruptcy
“Adult survivors of priest abuse across Pennsylvania expect that other dioceses will follow the Roman Catholic Diocese of Harrisburg and declare bankruptcy to force victims tons seek damages through bankruptcy court rather than civil court(link is external). Mary McHale, a Reading women involved with the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests said ‘I think it’s only a matter of time’ before other dioceses in Pennsylvania declare bankruptcy, a move announced by the Harrisburg diocese in mid-February.” By John Finnerty, The Tribune-Democrat

VIRGINIA

Former Purcellville Church Friar Indicted in 1985 Sexual Abuse Case”

“Attorney General Mark R. Herring today (Mar. 16) announced former clergyman Scott Asalone, 63, of Asbury Park, NJ, was indicted on one felony count of carnal knowledge of a minor between 13 and 15 years old(link is external). The indictment is related to alleged sexual contact by Asalone in 1985, while he was a friar assigned to St. Francis de Sales Catholic Church in Purcellville involving a former parishioner in 1985.” By LoudounNow.com

WASHINGTON, D.C.

Councilmember David Grosso was a childhood victim of indicted former Catholic priest
“At-Large Councilmember David Grosso revealed in an emailed statement today (Mar. 17) that he was sexually assaulted as a minor by a former Virginia priest(link is external) who was recently indicted for the alleged crime. Scott Asalone, 63, was arrested March 12 in New Jersey and is now charged with sexually assaulting a minor between the ages of 13 and 15, according to a news release from Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring. Asalone will be tried in Loudoun County Circuit Court and is among the 50 priests the Virginia dioceses said had been credibly accused of sexual abuse between 1974 and 2007.” By Mitch Ryals, Washington City Paper

WEST VIRGINIA

Lay Catholic group presses West Virginia Diocese for action on Bransfield
“A group called Lay Catholic Voices for Change has sent a letter to Bishop Mark Brennan of Wheeling-Charleston, West Virginia, asking that the diocese investigate charges of sex abuse of minors by former Bishop Michael Bransfield(link is external). The letter also asked that Bransfield be ordered not to use the title bishop emeritus to describe himself.” By Peter Feuerherd, National Catholic Reporter

WYOMING

Police’s sex abuse investigation into retired Cheyenne bishop finishes
“Cheyenne police’s follow-up investigation into allegations of sexual abuse by a retired Catholic leader in Wyoming concluded last week(link is external), right around the time that another alleged victim of the clergyman came forward in Missouri. The investigation into retired Bishop Joseph Hart will turn 2 years old in April. Cheyenne police have said they began investigating in spring 2018, after the Diocese of Cheyenne launched its own investigation into Hart and concluded he’d sexually abused at least two then-adolescents in the 1970s and 80s. Since then, four more victims have been identified in Wyoming alone.” By Seth Clayman, Casper Star Tribune

AUSTRALIA

Convicted pedophile Bernard McGrath abused dozens of children. The Catholic Church failed to report his offending
“Former brother of St John of God, Bernard McGrath, will be eligible for parole in December 2044. McGrath, who is serving two prison sentences in NSW for sex crimes against children, says his religious order and the Catholic Church covered up his offending at schools in Australia and New Zealand(link is external). In the early 1990s, after decades as a sex offender, new reports emerged about McGrath’s abuse of children at schools and a residential program he’d run for street kids in Christchurch, New Zealand.” By Sarah Ferguson, ABC News

Convicted pedophile Vincent Ryan confessed to a priest—then he continued abusing children
“Vincent Ryan is a Catholic priest and a aedophile, convicted of sexually abusing more than 30 children. In Australia’s first television interview with a convicted clerical sex abuser, Ryan said there was no reason why he should not remain a priest(link is external). ‘It’s a duty. I’ve committed myself to it,’ he said. ‘It’d have to be a very serious reason, unless I’m stopped by authority, for me to make that decision and at this moment I don’t see it.’” By Sarah Ferguson, ABC News

CANADA

Clergy sex abuse victim: ‘My name is Barbara Erlandson and I am sharing my story’
“An Ottawa woman who was sexually abused by Rev. Barry McGrory(link is external) in the mid-1970s says a senior church official made her feel that she was to blame for the crime. Barbara Erlandson says she met in 1977 with then Bishop John Beahan, one of the most powerful figures in the Catholic Archdiocese of Ottawa, to relate her story of abuse.” By Andrew Duffy, Ottawa Citizen

FRANCE

Defrocked French priest jailed for abusing scouts over 20-year period
“A defrocked French Catholic priest has been sentenced to five years in jail for sexually abusing scouts(link is external) in his care several decades ago, ending a case in which it was claimed his superiors shielded him from prosecution. After survivors testified about the abuse during his trial in Lyon, Bernard Preynat, 75, confessed in January to “caresses” he knew were forbidden.” By Agence France-Presse in Lyon

GREAT BRITAIN, SCOTLAND & WALES

Catholic priest from the Fens steps down following historic child sex abuse claims
“A statement released by Bishop Alan Hopes and the Diocese of East Anglia on Friday (March 20) explains Father Michael Ryan had recently been accused of the non-recent sexual abuse of children(link is external). It says he voluntarily stepped down from his responsibilities while the investigation is ongoing and that the accusations have been reported to the relevant authorities, including police.” By Cambridge Times

‘Those told of abuse must report it,’ says Workington MP
Any person in a position of responsibility who is told about the sexual abuse of a child should report it to the police(link is external), says Workington MP Mark Jenkinson. The politician spoke out after the News & Star reported on the cases of two Allerdale men whose abusers were clergymen – one with the Catholic Church and the other with the Church of England – and both were allowed to continue working after they confessed their paedophilia. Neither was reported to the police by their church bosses.” By Phil Coleman, News & Star

INDIA

Court dismisses discharge petition filed by Bishop Franco in rape case
“In a major setback to Bishop Franco Mulakkal, former head of the Latin Catholic Diocese of Jalandhar, the Additional District and Sessions Court I, Kottayam, on Monday (Mar. 16) dismissed the discharge petition filed by him in connection with the rape case registered against him(link is external) by the Kuravilangad police. The judge G Gopakumar directed bishop Mulakkal to face the trial in the case, which was registered on the basis of a complaint filed by a Catholic nun of the same diocese.” By The Indian Express

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In ‘Querida Amazonia,’ Francis’ sacramental imagination stops short of women / National Catholic Reporter

“How much disappointment and outrage would have erupted if the pope had moved forward with ordaining married men, but his retrograde words about women remained the same?” (National Catholic Reporter)

Perhaps no one was less surprised last week than I was when Pope Francis’ Querida Amazonia showed no openness to a female diaconate, and instead was laden with the language of gender complementarity in its discussion of women.

“For years I have used this column to document Francis’ beliefs about women and to plead with readers to be honest about how his thinking would seriously limit the possibilities of real change for women in the church. Beginning with his description of feminism as “chauvinism with skirts” early in his papacy in 2013 through his 2019 dithering on women deacons, I wrote on this topic at least 20 times in the last seven years.

“I did this not to sound like a broken record — though I most certainly did — but rather to spare myself and my fellow churchwomen from the heartbreak that I knew would come. Unless Francis moved beyond the theology of complementarity, women would never receive the justice they deserve from their church, an institution that they serve, sacrifice for, and very often sustain singlehandedly. The pope, unfortunately, never showed any signs of budging.

By Jamie Manson, National Catholic Reporter — Read more …

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Pope Francis sets aside proposal on married priests / The New York Times

In his letter, which took the form of a 94-page booklet and has the power of church teaching, Francis notably made no mention of ordaining married men in good standing or elevating to the priesthood married deacons, a lower clerical rank that does not require celibacy. The silence amounted to a pocket veto of the proposal. (The New York Times)

Pope Francis has for now rejected a landmark proposal by bishops to allow the ordination of married men in remote areas, a potentially momentous change that conservatives had warned would set the Roman Catholic Church on a slippery slope toward lifting priestly celibacy and weakening church traditions.

“Francis’ decision, in a papal letter made public on Wednesday (Feb. 12), surprised many given the openness he had displayed on the subject and his frequently expressed desire for a more collegial and less top-down church.

“It disappointed supporters of Francis who had hoped for more revolutionary change. Coming seven years into his papacy, it also raised the question of whether Francis’ promotion of discussing once-taboo issues is resulting in a pontificate that is largely talk.

“His closest advisers have already acknowledged that the pope’s impact has waned on the global stage, especially on core issues like immigration and the environment. His legacy, they have said, will be inside the church, where his authority is absolute.”

By Jason Horowitz and Elisabetta Pololedo, The New York Times — Read more …

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10 years after Vatican reform, Legion in new abuse crisis / Associated Press

“But more importantly, it has called into question the Vatican reform itself: The papal envoy who ran the Legion starting in 2010 learned about the case nearly a decade ago and refused to punish or even investigate the priest or the superiors who covered up his crimes, many of whom are still in power and ministry today.” (Associated Press)

The administrator of the elite Catholic school in Cancun, Mexico, used to take the girls out of class and send them to the chapel, where the priest from the Legion of Christ religious order would sexually abuse them.

“‘As some were reading the Bible, he would rape the others in front of them, little girls aged 6 to 8 or 9,’ said one of his victims, Ana Lucia Salazar, now a 36-year-old Mexican television host and mother of three.“

“‘Afterward, nothing was the same, nothing went back to the way it was,’ she said through tears at her home in Mexico City.

“Salazar’s horrific story, which has been corroborated by other victims and the Legion itself, has sparked a new credibility crisis for the once-influential order, 10 years after the Holy See took it over after determining that its founder was a pedophile.

“But more importantly, it has called into question the Vatican reform itself: The papal envoy who ran the Legion starting in 2010 learned about the case nearly a decade ago and refused to punish or even investigate the priest or the superiors who covered up his crimes, many of whom are still in power and ministry today.”

By maria Verza and Nicole Winfield, Associated Press — Read More …

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Voice of the Faithful Focus News Roundup


January 17, 2020

TOP STORIES

Panel to call for more lay control in the Australian Church
“A six-person committee charged with reviewing church governance and management is expected to present Australia’s bishops with a plan to overhaul the management of the church in the country. The plan would cede control over financial, human resources and governance functions to professional laity(link is external), Jack de Groot, a member of the review committee, told Catholic News Service. The committee, established by the Australian Catholics Bishops’ Conference and Catholic Religious Australia in May 2018, expects to present the plan by late March.” By Michael Sainsbury, Catholic News Service, on CatholicPhilly.com

In surprise, Benedict openly defends clerical celibacy as Francis considers married priests
“Retired Pope Benedict XVI has coauthored a new book defending the Catholic Church’s practice of a celibate priesthood, in a shocking move(link is external) that comes as Pope Francis is considering the possibility of allowing older, married men to be ordained as priests in the Amazon region.According to excerpts from the volume released Jan. 12 by the conservative French outlet Le Figaro, the ex-pontiff says he could not remain silent on the issue as Francis is contemplating the move, which was requested by the bishops from the nine-nation Amazon region at October’s Vatican synod gathering.”By Joshua J. McElwee, National Catholic Reporter

A bill in the Utah State Legislature removes ‘priest-penitent’ privilege when it comes to child abuse
“A bill made public ahead of the 2020 legislative session would remove the ‘priest-penitent’ privilege when it comes to reporting abuse cases(link is external).House Bill 90, sponsored by Rep. Angela Romero, D-Salt Lake City, would demand that a priest, a bishop or any other clergy who receives a disclosure of abuse turn around and report that to law enforcement to investigate. If that clergy member doesn’t, they could face a misdemeanor charge. It also allows for the possibility of civil litigation by a victim, she told FOX 13.” By FOX-TV13 News

Catholic Church shields $2 billion in assets to limit abuse payouts
“For most of the 20th century, the Catholic Church in the U.S. minimized the damage wrought by pedophile priests by covering up the abuse(link is external). When the bishop of the Davenport, Iowa, diocese was told in the mid-1950s that one of his priests was sexually abusing boys at a local YMCA, he kept it secret. “It is consoling to know that no general notoriety has arisen, and I pray none may result,” he wrote to a priest, capturing the strategy of the era.” By BloombergQuintBy Josh Saul, BloombergQuint.com (Bloomberg Businessweek)

Archbishop Scicluna hils abolition of pontifical secret in clerical sex crimes
“Malta’s archbishop Charles Scicluna has hailed the abolition of the pontifical secret in cases of sexual violence and clerical abuse of minors(link is external), as an important step in working for justice for victims.Scicluna, whom Pope Francis appointed as the Holy See’s prosecutor on clerical sex abuse cases, said the abolition will mean certain jurisdictions cannot be excused from not collaborating with authorities on such cases.”By Matthew Vella, MaltaToday.com.mt

Church offers little outreach to minority victims of priests
“The Samples were a black Chicago family, with six children and few resources. The priest helped them with tuition, clothes, bills. He offered the promise of opportunities — a better life.He also abused all the children(link is external).They told no one. They were afraid of not being believed and of losing what little they had, said one son, Terrence Sample. And nobody asked, until a lawyer investigating alleged abuses by the same priest prompted him to break his then 33-year silence.”By Gary Fields, Juliet Linderman and Wong Maye-E, Associated Press, in Minneapolis Star Tribune

Irish cardinal admits inquiries into child rapist priest were only to protect church
“Senior figures in Ireland’s Catholic church set up inquiries into historical sexual abuse solely to protect the church from scandal(link is external), the former leader of Ireland’s Catholics has admitted.

DrSeán Brady, the former primate of All Ireland, told an inquiry into historical abuse on Thursday (Jan. 2) that he and other Catholic clerics were sworn to secrecy about these tribunals so that the ‘good name’ of the church could be protected.”By Henry McDonald, The Guardian

ACCOUNTABILITY

Judge says parents can sue diocese over abuse reporting
“A Pennsylvania judge has ruled that parents of children in the Roman Catholic Church and survivors of sexual abuse by clergy members can move forward with a lawsuit against the Diocese of Pittsburgh alleging that it has not fulfilled its obligations under state law to report child sexual abusers(link is external).The parents and survivors claim that the Pittsburgh diocese along with the other seven Pennsylvania dioceses have created a public nuisance by failing to report every allegation of child abuse and are asking that they be compelled to release information about all known allegations.” By Claudia Lauer, Associated Press

Thomas Doyle traces the disintegration of clerical/hierarchical culture
“I have thought recently that one way to understand the revived interest in the priest sexual abuse scandal(link is external), post-Theodore McCarrick and the Pennsylvania grand jury reportof little more than a year ago, is in the context of the Kübler-Ross stages of grief. You know: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance … No doubt the cycles will go on. But in one peculiar and important sense, regarding the hierarchical culture at the heart of the scandal, perhaps we can now say with some certainty that significant portions of the community have arrived at acceptance of the death of the clerical/hierarchical culture.” By Tom Roberts, National Catholic Reporter

Victims benefit from mandated reporting laws
“The Dec. 30 editorial ‘Vatican Secrets’ brings an opportunity to clarify the meaning and ramifications of a ‘pontifical secret(link is external).’ Pontifical secrecy never pertained to the reporting of an allegation to civil authorities or to whether a victim could speak publicly about his or her experience.The Diocese of Pittsburgh has reported allegations involving current minors to the district attorney for more than 30 years and expanded that in 2002 to include allegations of past child sexual abuse brought forward by survivors who had become adults.” By Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Editorial Board

POPE FRANCIS

Pope Francis struggles to escape scandals of 2019
“Pope Francis ended 2019 in embarrassment(link is external) when he angrily slapped the hand of a woman who had pulled on his own while he was greeting pilgrims on New Year’s Eve. He began 2020 with a public apology for losing his patience and setting a ‘bad example.’ It was a fitting coda to a year in which the pope addressed one scandal—the Catholic Church’s sex-abuse crisis—only to become embroiled in another, over the Vatican’s murky finances.” By Francis X. Rocca, The Wall Street Journal, on MSN.com

Pope hints at broader vision of ‘recovery’ from sex abuse scandals
“From the beginning, two things have been true about the clerical sexual abuse scandals(link is external) in the Catholic Church.The first is that the Church failed, and failed miserably, in its duty to protect children and vulnerable adults entrusted to its care. Unearthing those failures, and doing justice for them, is a long-term challenge that’s far from over.The second is that despite those failures, the Catholic Church also carries generations of wisdom about raising children successfully …”By John L. Allen, Jr., Cruxnow.com

McCARRICK INVESTIGATION

Why the McCarrick report could be delayed
“The news that Theodore McCarrick recently moved from the Kansas friary where he had been living has fueled speculation that a report from the Vatican’s internal investigation on McCarrick will soon be released.But while the report may be completed in Rome, its release may not be imminent(link is external), and some U.S. bishops may be quietly hoping for further delays.” By J.D. Flynn, Catholic News Agency

BISHOPS

Bishops narrowly approve USCCB rate hike for 2021
“The bishops of the United States have narrowly approved an increase on the amount dioceses must contribute to the national bishops’ conference. The measure initially failed to pass when put to a vote during their November 2019 meeting and additional votes had to be collected by mail to ensure the measure passed.” By Catholic News Agency

Controversy continues regarding South Sudan archbishop appointment
“Bari ethnic leaders in South Sudan have distanced themselves from critics of the newly-appointed Archbishop of Juba. The archbishop has faced controversy since his December appointment for several reasons(link is external), including that he is not a member of the region’s predominant Bari tribe. ‘Those indigenous clergy and faithful Bari who have rejected the appointment of the new Archbishop for Juba [do] not reflect the position of the entire Bari Community or their association i.e. the Bari Community Association,’ Cornelio BepoLadoKenyi, chairman of the Juba-based association, explained in a Dec. 23 statement.”By Catholic News Agency

PRIESTS

Meeting of Church heavy-hitters calls for ‘adjustments’ to priestly formation
“A major gathering of ecclesial heavy hitters focusing on the future of the priesthood concluded with a call for a reimagining of priestly formation(link is external) – one that incorporates the laity and women in the process and better reflects the racial and cultural diversity within the U.S. Church.The two-day symposium at Boston College took place January 2-3 and was organized around “To Serve the People of God: Renewing the Conversation on Priesthood and Ministry,” a document first published in December 2018, which was the result of a series of seminars sponsored by the college’s Department of Theology and School of Theology and Ministry.”By Christopher White, Cruxnow.com

WOMEN IN THE CHURCH

Francis appoints first woman to managerial role at Vatican’s Secretariat of State
“Pope Francis appointed an Italian woman as an undersecretary in the Vatican’s Secretariat of State Jan. 15, in the first such appointment of a woman to a managerial role(link is external) in what is traditionally considered the city-state’s most important office. Francesca Di Giovanni, who has worked for the Secretariat for 27 years, will be one of two undersecretaries in the Section for Relations with States, which is essentially the Vatican’s foreign ministry.” By Joshua J. McElwee, National Catholic Reporter

The church must face its own role in violence against women
“”By how we treat a woman’s body, we can understand our level of humanity,” Francis told the crowd, decrying the ways in which women are ‘continually offended, beaten, raped, forced into prostitution and forced to suppress the lives they carry in their wombs.’ This was not the first time that Francis has spoken about violence against women(link is external), but his comments stood out in stark relief against an incident on New Year’s Eve in which he angrily slapped away a woman’s hands after she forcefully pulled him close to her.”By Jamie Manson, National Catholic Reporter

CHURCH FINANCES

Bishop Scharfenberger suggests bankruptcy is ‘probability’ for Diocese of Buffalo
“It’s been a little more than a month since Bishop Edward B. Scharfenberger of Albany assumed the additional role of apostolic administrator for the Diocese of Buffalo. As he enters his second month as the interim caretaker of the diocese, Scharfenberger is speaking about the work to sort through a painful and extensive clergy sex abuse crisis, admitting that Chapter 11 bankruptcy appears likely(link is external).”By Michael Mroziak, WXXI-AM News, from WBFO-FM

How parishes can tackle U.S. church’s money crisis
“Of its myriad problems in recent decades—including the serial sexual abuse of children by clergy and the institutional cover-up of these horrific acts—a growing cash crunch is the single biggest threat to the church’s future(link is external).Historically, U.S. Catholics have dutifully contributed to the church, but with newer generations not as likely to attend Mass, there is no guarantee this giving will continue. Meanwhile, many dioceses and parishes employ the same threadbare fundraising playbook.”By Michael White and Tom Corcoran, America: The Jesuit Review

CLERICALISM

Your thoughts on dismantling clericalism
“Two recent NCR Connectionscolumns by executive editor Tom Roberts highlighted thoughts on the culture of clericalism(link is external) from Thomas Doyle, who said the clergy sexual abuse crisis ‘is evidence of a profound contradiction that reaches to the foundational core of the institutional church,’ and from Jesuit Fr. James Keenan, who proposes an alternative ‘culture of vulnerability as a path to a ‘servant priesthood’ and a ‘servant episcopacy.’ Letters to the editor are edited for length and clarity …”By National Catholic Reporter Staff

FUTURE OF THE CHURCH

New celibacy kerfuffle sparks debate over role of pope emeritus
“When retired Pope Benedict XVI resigned from the papacy in 2013, he said that he would be ‘hidden from the world(link is external),’ and that God was calling him ‘to go up the mountain,’ and to dedicate himself to prayer and meditation.However, it became clear on Sunday Jan. 12) that his idea of ‘hidden’ is not quitethe dictionary definition when excerpts of a new book by Benedict and Guinean Cardinal Robert Sarah, the head of the Vatican’s liturgy office, were published in French daily Le Figaro.”By Elise Harris, Cruxnow.com

As village churches close, Dutch Catholics leave faith rather than worship elsewhere
“Churches appear to be less indispensable to small communities than they themselves are inclined to think. The Dutch Catholic weekly KatholiekNieuwsbladreached that conclusion after long-term research into the effects of church closure on village communities(link is external).The research of the Dutch Catholic weekly shows, among other things, that the pace at which churches are disappearing from the countryside will only increase in the coming years. It often results in painful closures or mergers, but the local village communities also seem to recover surprisingly quickly.”By Dutch Catholic Weekly “KatholiekNieuwsblad” on Cruxnow.com

Friars, seeing numbers shrink, plan to pull clergy from Raleigh Catholic church
“The pastor of Raleigh’s St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church told parishioners he was surprised by the decision Friday (Jan. 3) of his order to pull Franciscan friars from the parish.In his email to parishioners, Fr. Steve Patti said the order, Franciscan Friars of Holy Name Province, had been discussing for years a gradual withdrawal from some of their ministries, a response to ‘the aging of friars and declining vocations to religious life(link is external).’” By WRAL.com

VOICES

The Church’s enduring legacy of abuse
“In Fernando Meirelles’ film ‘The Two Popes,’ former Pope Benedict XVI, played by Anthony Hopkins, confesses his sins to Argentinian Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio, now Pope Francis. It is a crucial scene, in which Benedict aims to convince Bergoglio, played by Jonathan Pryce, of the reasons for his resignation as head of the church. As Bergoglio listens, Benedict mentions Mexican priest Marcial Maciel, founder of the Legionaries of Christ(link is external) …” By Leon Krause, Slate

Buffalo Diocese bankruptcy must not be a sanctuary for sin
“Now we know that Bishop Edward B. Scharfenberger is more than bankruptcy curious. The leader in charge of Buffalo’s Catholic diocese told a Buffalo News reporter on Monday (Jan. 13) that filing for Chapter 11 protection is probable as the diocese faces an onslaught of lawsuits(link is external) from individuals making claims of clergy sex abuse.As we have noted before, that would be unfortunate. If it happens – and there are defenses for it – the diocese needs to be as forthcoming about the abuses its priests and bishop committed as it would if the matter were left in state court. There can be no more hiding in dark corners.” By The Buffalo News Editorial Board

Paying the cost of willful ignorance
“The Roman Catholic Church in the United States has seen better days.In the nearly 20 years since The Boston Globe’s Spotlight Team uncovered a concerted effort within the Archdiocese of Boston not only to cover up the reprehensible behavior of pedophile priests(link is external), but also the ensuing coordinated effort to move these men from parish to parish with no warning to the people who they ostensibly served, it has seemed that every passing year has brought with it a fresh set of new revelations about similarly horrific cases from virtually every corner of the country.”By Cape Cod Times Editorial Board

Cardinal Cupich: How can we end clerical sex abuse and purify the Church?

“One day, a man in his mid-50s came to my office and shared the painful story of being sexually abused by his pastor(link is external). He started serving Mass when he was 9 years old, and the pastor always asked him to stay afterward to tidy up the sacristy. One day the priest took him to the basement and sexually abused him. He did this every Sunday over four years. After abusing him, the priest would walk the boy home and have dinner with the boy’s family Adding another demonic layer of pain to the sexual abuse itself, each Saturday the priest would drive the boy to another town and force him to confess his supposed sins to another priest …”By Cardinal Blasé Cupich, Archbishop of Chicago

Diocese falls short with its list
“The Catholic Diocese of Fargo has released a list of clergy, deacons and religious leaders accused of sexual abuse of children. In an accompanying statement, Bishop John Folda said ‘even one instance of abuse would be too many, and I know this list of clergy and religious (leaders) is a cause of deep sadness to us all.’ We stop short of saying it must be a difficult time for the church, since it’s obviously a much more difficult time for any abuse victims. The diocese should not be commended for releasing the names(link is external), since doing so is right and only one part of the process to heal these wounds.” By Grand Forks Herald Editorial Board

Church doesn’t seem serious about abuse
“Hundreds of clergy accused of sexually abusing children, including some convicted of crimes, were left off lists released by the Roman Catholic Church(link is external) in reaction to a worldwide scandal, The Associated Press found. In terms of rebuilding trust with those of the faith, the church seems to be in a one-step-forward, two-steps-back posture. When claims of transparency are exposed as hollow, what are those skeptical of the church to believe?”By Fairmount Sentinel Editorial Board

Diocese faces new decade to right itself
“Debate will continue about whether the decade of the 2020s really began on Jan. 1 of this year or whether that actually will occur on Jan. 1, 2021. Either way, the period of time has been traumatic for the Roman Catholic Church here, across Pennsylvania, across the nation and, indeed, around the world.The reason is the ongoing horrific, unconscionable child-sexual-abuse scandal(link is external).That scandal of mind-shattering proportion — one that has challenged even the most devout Catholics’ beliefs, attitudes and trust — is destined to span the decade of the 2020s and perhaps beyond.” By Altoona Mirror Editorial Board

Diocese falls short with its list
“The Catholic Diocese of Fargo has released a list of clergy, deacons and religious leaders accused of sexual abuse of children(link is external). In an accompanying statement, Bishop John Folda said “even one instance of abuse would be too many, and I know this list of clergy and religious (leaders) is a cause of deep sadness to us all. We stop short of saying it must be a difficult time for the church, since it’s obviously a much more difficult time for any abuse victims. The diocese should not be commended for releasing the names, since doing so is right and only one part of the process to heal these wounds …” By Grand Forks Herald Editorial Board

Protect children, ensure accountability, lift statutory limits
“Removing statutory limits on the age at which adult survivors of child sexual abuse may sue for damages is simply justice, given what we now know about the lasting effects of psychological trauma. It also will signal that complicity in shielding perpetrators from accountability is over, and that Connecticut will put the protection of children before the interests of institutions. The state’s legislative task force on the statute of limitations regarding sexual abuse, sexual exploitation and sexual assault is nearing the deadline for its assignment.’”By The Day Editorial Board

Transparency still lacking in Catholic Church
“Hundreds of clergy accused of sexually abusing children, including some convicted of crimes, were left off lists released by the Roman Catholic Church in reaction to a worldwide scandal(link is external), The Associated Press found. In terms of rebuilding trust with those of the faith, the church seems to be in a one-step-forward, two-steps-back posture. When claims of transparency are exposed as hollow, what are those skeptical of the church to believe.AP investigators examined lists released by Catholic dioceses across the country, of clergy ‘credibly accused’ of child sexual abuse. ‘An AP analysis found more than 900 clergy members accused of child sexual abuse who were missing from the lists,’ the news agency reported.”By The Weirton Daily Times Editorial Board

STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS

Bill would give sexual assault survivors one-year ‘look back window’ to file cases
“Florida lawmakers are considering a bill that would give survivors of childhood sexual assault a ‘look back window(link is external)’ to address previously unreported claims. It would allow them one year to open cases with an expired statute of limitations. This follows a recent wave of states passing look back laws. Sixteen states and the District of Columbia have created similar opportunities for abuse victims to have their voices heard.” By Stephanie Colombini, WLRN-FM National Public Radio

Ending limits for child sex abuse lawsuits gets support from Missouri lawmakers
“For two decades, Bryan Bacon kept the memories of his abuse locked away … Bacon told his story to the House Children and Families Committee in a hearing Tuesday (Jan. 14). He was there to support a proposal that would remove the statute of limitations for filing civil lawsuits in cases of childhood sexual abuse(link is external). Currently, the law gives survivors of abuse 10 years to file civil claims.” By Tynan Stewart, St Louis Post-Dispatch

Mexico bishops urge no statute of limitations on sex abuse
“The Roman Catholic Church in Mexico called on the country’s government Tuesday Jan. 14) to modify the legal code and do away with statutes of limitations for sexual abuse of minors(link is external). ‘We want to ask in the name of the bishops of Mexico for there to be no expiration for this crime,’ said Rogelio Cabrera, president of the Mexican Bishops’ Conference. He called it ‘unjust’ that nothing can be done about such cases starting 10 years from the date of the offense, ‘since the wrong done lasts for the lifetime of the person who has been a victim.’” By Associated Press

CLERGY CHILD SEXUAL ABUSE

Archdiocese to hold conference for clergy abuse survivors
“Victim/survivors and others impacted by clergy sexual abuse are invited to a Jan. 23 conference on restorative justice and healing organized by the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis(link is external). The daylong conference in Lake Elmo, east of St. Paul, will include Archbishop Bernard Hebda and Ramsey County Attorney John Choi providing an update on the impetus for the conference: The settlement of civil charges filed by the county in 2015 alleging the archdiocese was negligent in the case of an abusive priest.” By Joe Ruff, The Catholic Spirit

ALASKA

‘It’s never, ever been your fault’: Alaska bishop offers apology in wake of report on sexual abuse
“An Alaska bishop offered a series of apologies on Thursday Jan. 16) in the wake of a review that disclosed reports of sexual misconduct by 14 men(link is external) who worked for the Archdiocese of Anchorage, some stretching back more than 50 years. All but one of the accused were priests. The abuse involved children and vulnerable adults. At a press conference at the archdiocese in downtown Anchorage, Bishop Andrew Bellisario said he wanted those abused by clergy members to know: ‘It’s not your fault. It’s never, ever been your fault.’ By Tegan Hanlan, Alaska Public Radio

ARIZONA

Ex-priest indicted on charges of sexually abusing two boys in Phoenix diocese
“A former Catholic priest was indicted by a Maricopa County grand jury Thursday (Jan. 9) on charges of sexually abusing two boys under age 15(link is external) more than a dozen years ago. John ‘Jack’ Dallas Spaulding faces six counts of sexual misconduct with a minor and one count of molestation of a child between the years of 2003 and 2007.” By Lauren Castle, Arizona Republic

CALIFORNIA

A sordid life? Priest, now dead, accused of raping 7-year-old girl, fathering another child
“Decades after his death, the Rev. EfrénNeri is accused of leading a sordid secret life, raping a 7-year-old girl and fathering a child(link is external) out of wedlock in the 1950s.At that time of both incidents, he was assigned to Christ the King parish in Rialto, in San Bernardino County, then part of the Roman Catholic Diocese of San Diego.Outside the diocesan offices Wednesday (Jan. 8) morning, ‘Jane Doe’ accused Neri of raping her in 1958.” By Peter Rowe, Los Angeles Times

Bakersfield church, Fresno Diocese, accused of covering up child sexual abuse
“The Diocese of Fresno and St. Philip the Apostle church in Bakersfield are being sued. They’re accused of covering up sexual misconduct by a pastor for decades(link is external).Fr. Anthony Moreno, who served as priest at St. Philip the Apostle from July 1979 to December 1980, is being accused of molesting multiple children, according to a law suit filed in Fresno court this week.”By Emma Goss, KBAK-TV58 News

Law firm expects to file hundreds of lawsjuits against California Catholic Dioceses in coming weeks
“Standing in a hotel near the Oakland waterfront,James Brogan didn’t quite know where to begin, so he did something most sexual assault survivors don’t do—he gave his name(link is external). ‘It’s wrecked my entire life, every aspect of my life,’ he said, not looking past the lectern behind which he stood. ‘Where do you go?’ Because of a new California law, Brogan and countless other survivors of rapists masquerading as holy men can go to court.”By Raheem F. Hosseini, NewsReview.com

FLORIDA

State continues to investigate child sex abuse
“The Florida Attorney General’s office is not releasing the number of tips it has received since 2018 when then-state attorney general Pam Bondi launched a statewide investigation into all reports of past abuse(link is external) in the Catholic Dioceses, including a website where victims can submit tips about abuse – past and present.” By FOX13 News

INDIANA

St. Paul’s to hold discussion on sexual abuse
“Following decades of headlines about sexual abuse committed by clergy members in the Catholic Church, a Grant County parish is holding a two-week discussion on the issue.According to BBC News, a landmark 2004 church-commissioned report said more than 4,000 Roman Catholic priests in the US had faced sexual abuse allegations(link is external) in the previous 50 years, with numerous allegations, investigations and convictions of clergy reported since then worldwide. More recently, a grand jury report in Pennsylvaniasubstantiated that nearly 300 priests were involved in the sexual abuse of approximately 1,000 children.”By Victoria Lawson, Chronicle-Tribune

MASSACHUSETTS

One year later, Fall River diocese’s list of ‘credibly’ accused priests still not done
“Bishop Edgar M. da Cunha of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Fall River wrote a letter to parishioners last January announcing the church had hired a former FBI agent to review allegations of sexual abuse against minors dating back to the 1950s(link is external).The plan,he wrote, was to complete the review by spring of last year, and produce a list of credibly accused clergy members, following what a growing number of dioceses – including Providence – have already done across the country.”By Eli Sherman, WPRI-TV10 News

Priest gets probation for ‘unnatural acts’ on a minor
“A Catholic priest has pleaded guilty to two counts of ‘unnatural acts’ with a minor(link is external) for accusations of sexual abuse dating back to the 1970s.James Randall Gillette was sentenced to five years of probation in Suffolk Superior Court in Boston on Jan. 2, according to court records. More serious charges of child rape and indecent assault and battery on a minor were dismissed, but he still has to register as a sex offender.” By Associated Press on WBZ-TV4 News

MINNESOTA

Crookston Diocese priest place on leave for boundary violations
“Bishop Michael Hoeppner says ‘several issues’ concerning Fr. Bryan Kujawa have been brought to his attention, including ‘non-criminal, non-sexual boundary violations(link is external).’ Kujawa works at St. Philip’s Church in Bemidji and St. Charles in Pennington. Hoeppner says Kujawa will remain on leave until a comprehensive assessment is completed and the Diocesan Review Board makes further recommendations.” By KVRR.com

NEBRASKA

Report says Archdiocese of Omaha is complying with U.S. bishops’ child protection policies
“The Archdiocese of Omaha announced this week that an audit had found the archdiocese to be in compliance(link is external) with U.S. bishops’ policies to prevent sexual abuse of children by clergy and other church personnel.The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops spelled out the policies in its Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People, also known as the Dallas Charter. The charter has called for annual audits of dioceses since the bishops adopted it in 2002.”By Christopher Burbach, Omaha World-Herald

NEW JERSEY

Former student accuses nun of sex abuse at Holy Cross School
“A former student of a Catholic school in New Jersey says she was sexually abused by a nun while she was in first grade(link is external), according to a lawsuit filed in state Superior Court.Holy Cross School in Rumson, Holy Cross Parish and the Diocese of Trenton were named as defendants.The woman, a Cliffside Park resident, she was abused by Sister Mary Nazareen while she was a teacher at Holy Cross School during the 1960s, according to the lawsuit.”By Tom Davis, Patch.com

New Jersey dioceses extend deadline for victims fund
“New Jersey’s Roman Catholic dioceses have given a six-week extension to childhood victims of sexual assault considering applying for compensation(link is external) from a fund the church set up, the account’s co-administrator said Thursday. Camille Biros, the co-administrator of the fund covering all five dioceses, including the Archdiocese of Newark, said in a phone interview that so far more than $9 million in 76 different cases has been paid out.”By CBS-TV3 News

NEW YORK

North Country’s Roman Catholic church faces 20 new child victim lawsuits
“The North Country’s Roman Catholic church faces 20 new lawsuits filed in recent months(link is external) under the Child Victims Act. Bishop Terry LaValley says this new wave of suits involves instances of alleged abuse by priests that date back decades. Governor Andrew Cuomo signed the Child Victims Act last February. Among other things it opened a window for victims of past alleged sexual abuse to sue for damages in civil court. So far, the Diocese of Ogdensburg says 20 people have sued under the provision. Asked about the legal and financial situation, spokeswoman Darcy Fargo referred NCPR to the church’s January regional newsletter.” By Brian Mann, North Country Public Radio

Child Victims Act sponsor moves to extend ‘lookback window’ for abuse lawsuits
“The state senator who sponsored legislation that allows victims of child sex abuse to sue their alleged predators, no matter when the abuse occurred, has introduced a bill to extend the window for new lawsuits(link is external).The Child Victims Act took effect in August 2019, eliminating statutes of limitations and enabling survivors to sue their alleged abusers during a one-year ‘lookback window’ that expires Aug. 13, 2020. State Sen. Brad Hoylman sponsored the bill, which passed last legislative session after years of advocacy, and has introduced a new piece of legislation that would extend the ‘lookback window’ for one more year.” By David Brand, Queens Daily Eagle

Honeoye Falls priest bounced from church to church in five counties
“A priest in the Rochester Diocese was bounced from church to church in an alleged cover-up of sexual abuse(link is external), says a new lawsuit filed under the Child Victims Act.It is the first lawsuit to name Rev. Otto Vogt. It alleges the abuse happened 30 years ago at St. Paul of the Cross Church in Honeoye Falls.John McHugh says he was 10-years-old in 1989 when he was singled out by Vogt. ‘He ingratiated himself into the family, became friends with the family, went to the family home,’ said attorney Mitchell Garabedian of Boston. He has filed hundreds of suits on behalf of victims of clergy abuse.”By WHAM-TV13 News

Lawsuit filed against diocese, Randolph church
“An unnamed woman has filed a Child Victims Act lawsuit against the Catholic Diocese of Buffalo and St. Patrick Roman Catholic Church in Randolph(link is external).The four-page court filing was received Dec. 30 in state Supreme Court in Erie County, where the headquarters for the Catholic Diocese of Buffalo is located. A woman accuses Father Joseph P. Friel of sexually abusing and sexually assaulting her while Friel was serving as priest at St. Patrick Roman Catholic Church while the woman was a child taking religious instruction at the church.” By John Whittaker, Jamestown Post-Journal

Lawsuit claims Trautman, former Buffalo Diocese leader and Erie bishop, covered up clergy abuse case
“A new Child Victims Act lawsuit filed Thursday (Jan. 2)details the lengths the accuser says Church officials took to cover up clergy abuse(link is external) in the Diocese of Buffalo. It specifically blames Donald Trautman, who served as vicar general and auxiliary bishop in Buffalo before becoming the Bishop of Erie in 1990. ‘In the lawsuit, we state that Bishop Trautman covered this abuse up,’ said Paul Barr, who represents the alleged victim.”By WIVB-TV4 News

NORTH CAROLINA

Catholic Church identifies those ‘credibly accused’ in WNC
“According to the diocese, Adelbert ‘Del’ Holmes was ‘credibly accused’ of committing child molestation against three minors(link is external) in Murphy in 1976 while he was a clergy member. The Catholic church became aware of the allegations against Holmes in 1988 and he was removed from the ministry in 1991. Holmes was a clergy member at the St. William Catholic Church in Murphy and the Immaculate Conception Catholic Mission in Hayesville. There is no recorded documentation that the Catholic church notified local law enforcement nor the District Attorney’s Office of these allegations when the church was notified in 1988.” By Smoky Mountain News

DA’s office issues statement on Catholic priest abuse
“Following the Roman Catholic Diocese of Charlotte’s list of clergy that have been ‘credibly accused’ of child sexual abuse since the diocese’s creation in 1972, District Attorney Ashley Welch’s office has released a statement noting that two of the members worked in her prosecutorial district, which includes Haywood County, back in the 1970s and 1980.The statement highlights that those who have allegations of abuse by members of the clergy can still come forward(link is external).” By Kyle Perrotti, The Mountaineer

NORTH DAKOTA

Bismarck Diocese names priests with sexual abuse claims
“The Bismarck Diocese has released a list of priests who have substantiated claims against them of sexual abuse of a minor(link is external).The list of 18 diocesan clergy and four extern clergy have all served the Diocese of Bismarck. Diocese of Bismarck Bishop David Kagan says each have claims the Diocese has determined to be likely true.The accused clergy include:Earl J. Becwar (died September, 1991), Norman J. Dukart (living) …” By ValleyNewsLive.com

PENNSYLVANIA

Allentown Diocese has paid out nearly $9 million over clergy sexual abuse
“The Allentown Diocese so far has agreed to pay $8.98 million to 47 victims of sexual abuse by priests(link is external) from its compensation fund since it was opened last spring in response to a landmark grand jury report accusing senior church officials of systematically covering up the sexual abuse of children, the diocese announced Tuesday (Jan. 14) in a press release … Administrators have not informed the committee of a completion date.” By Karen Shuey, TheMercury

Abuse case seeking church records moves forward in Pittsburgh
“Nearly 18 months after a Pennsylvania grand jury report unmasked decades of allegations of clergy sexual abuse in Catholic parishes across the state and church leaders paid $84 million to abuse survivors, fallout from the report continues to mount in the courts(link is external).State lawmakers began the process ofamending the Pennsylvania Constitution to give abuse survivors with old claims a day in court even as thestate Supreme Court weighs a lower court rulingthat could set the stage for such claims even sooner.”By Deb Erdley, TribLive.com

Walnutport priest removed from ministry after taking ‘disturbing’ photos of wrestlers
“A Catholic priest in Walnutport was removed from ministry after he was seen taking ‘disturbing’ photographs of wrestlers(link is external) at a high school tournament last month, the Diocese of Allentown announced Sunday (Dec. 5).The Rev. Thomas A. Derzack, 70, pastor of St. Nicholas Parish, took the photos Dec. 27 without the wrestlers’ knowledge during the event at the Bethlehem Catholic High School gym, the diocese said.”By Riley Yares, The Morning Call

TENNESSEE

Diocese of Knoxville settles sexual abuse lawsuit out of court
“The Catholic Diocese of Knoxville has reached an out-of-court settlement with a Blount County man whose lawsuit alleged he was sexually abused as a child by two priests(link is external).The settlement means the July suit bought by attorneys for Michael Boyd of Blount County will not proceed in Knox County Circuit Court.The terms and amount of the financial settlement were not disclosed in a seven-paragraph announcement issued today by the diocese. The diocese and church officials also admit no wrongdoing in the settlement.” By Amy McCrary, Knoxville News Sentinel

UTAH

Bill requiring clergy to report child abuse confessions opposed by Utah Catholics, House Speaker
“As religious opposition both in and out of Utah mounts against a proposed bill that would require all allegations of child abuse to be reported to authorities — including those stated in religious confessionals(link is external) — a powerful legislative leader has opposed the bill. House Speaker Brad Wilson won’t support the bill in its current form, according to a statement he sent to the national Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights.” By Katie McKellar, Deseret News

WASHINGTON, D.C.

Church settles Snohomish priest’s sex abuse case for $1.7 million
“The Archdiocese of Seattle announced Thursday (Jan. 9) it has reached a $1.7 million settlement involving a Snohomish priest accused of sexually abusing a child(link is external) in the 1980s.The Rev. Dennis Champagne served at St. Michael parish in Snohomish from 1979 to 1999. He was put on administrative leave in 2002, after the archdiocese received a complaint of sexual abuse.” By Zachariah Bryan, Everett Herald

WYOMING

Cheyenne police interviewing more priests as witnesses in ongoing Catholic clergy investigation
“Cheyenne police detectives are interviewing Catholic priests as potential witnesses in authorities’ nearly two year-long investigation into sexual abuse by members of the clergy(link is external) here.Cheyenne police spokesman David Inman said Thursday (Jan. 9) that the case is still being investigated by police in the capital, five months after the agency turned the case over to prosecutors. In an email, a spokeswoman for the Diocese of Cheyenne said the church ‘hasn’t heard anything about priests being interviewed by the Cheyenne Police Department; therefore, the Diocese of Cheyenne cannot comment.’” By Seth Klaman, Caspar Star Tribune

AUSTRALIA

Brisbane Archdiocese slams laws to compel priests to report child abuse
“Brisbane’s Catholic Archbishop has hit out at proposed laws that would compel Queensland priests to report the confessions of child abusers(link is external). The state’s teachers, doctors, nurses, childcare workers and school principals already have to report crimes against children to authorities, but Archbishop Mark Coleridge says the laws would ‘limit and unjustly interfere’ with the human rights of Catholics.” By Lydia Lynch, Brisbane Times

Catholic priest dies before being sentenced for child sexual abuse
“Disgraced former Catholic Priest James Joseph Cunneen, who was found guilty of indecent assault against six teenage boys(link is external) in New South Wales in the late 1980s, has died before he could be sentenced.60-year old MrCunneen was due to be sentenced in Downing Centre District Court on 14 February 2020. He was arrested, charged and prosecuted last year after information given to the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse in 2014.After an extensive investigation, police extradited MrCunneen back to Australia in 2017 where he was charged.”By Sonia Hickey, The Big Smoke

FRANCE

Trial delayed for French priest accused of abusing 75 boys
“A former French priest accused of sexually abusing around 75 Boy Scouts(link is external) went on trial Monday (Jan. 13), but the proceedings were delayed for at least a day because of a strike by lawyers.The case is France’s worst clergy abuse drama to reach court so far, and its repercussions reached all the way to the Vatican. ‘I have heard the suffering of these people, which I’m guilty of causing. I hope that this trial can unfold as quickly as possible,’ Bernard Preynat told the court after the judge announced the trial would be delayed until Tuesday.”By Nicolas Vaux-Montagny, Associated Press, in National Catholic Reporter

GREAT BRITAIN, SCOTLAND & WALES

Inquiry report finds gaps in UK legal system are allowing known offenders to sexually abuse children abroad
“The Inquiry has published its reporton the protection of children outside the UK, focusing on the legal measures designed to prevent British child sex abusers from offending overseas.The report finds that offenders from England and Wales are travelling to commit extensive abuse of children across the world(link is external), including in eastern Asia and Africa.” By Independent Inquiry Child Sexual Abuse on iicsa.org.uk

Mum beaten and abused by nuns sues for £750k
“A mum from Renfrewshire who claims she was beaten and abused at an orphanage(link is external) has launched a £750,000 legal action bid against the Catholic order.Annemarie McGuigan said she was beaten with a stick and locked in cupboards during her five-year stayat the Nazareth House children’s home in Aberdeen.The 59-year-old was ‘force-fed’ her own vomit and is now taking legal action against the Sisters of Nazareth.” By The Herald

GUAM

‘Having nightmares to the day’: former Barrigada altar boy sues for priest’s sex abuse
“Some 40 years after he said a priest raped and molested him several times(link is external), a former Barrigada altar boy is now suing the entities that he thinks enabled and then covered up the abuses.To this day, he continues to have nightmares of being sexually abused by the priest, the lawsuit says.Father Louis Brouillard allegedly raped and molested him in or about 1977 to 1979, according to the $5 million lawsuit filed in local court Wednesday (Jan. 8).” By Haidee Eugenio Gilbert, Pacific Daily News

MEXICO

Legion of Christ accused abuser removed from priesthood
“ The Catholic Church has removed Mexican Fernando Martínez from the priesthood after considering him guilty of various sexual abuse crimes against minors(link is external), the Legion of Christ religious order said Monday Jan. 13).The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith decided that Martínez could not continue his priestly duties, but allowed him to remain as a member of the Legion of Christ and the church, a decision that upset his victims.” By Maria Verza, Associated Press

PHILIPPINES

Vatican acquits ‘healing’ priest of alleged sexual abuse of minors
“Controversial ‘healing priest’ Rev Fr. Fernando Suarez has been cleared by the Vatican from accusations of sexual abuse of minors(link is external).The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith informed Judicial Vicar and Retired Novaliches Bishop Most Rev. Antonio Tobias of the “not guilty” verdict on Suarez in a letter dated December 13, 2019.“I was instructed to notify the Rev. Fr. Fernando M. Suarez of the Apostolic Vicariate of San Jose de Occidental Mindoro of the Decree of “Not Guilty” of the accusation lodged against him of sexual abuse of minors or delicta contra sextum cum minoribus,” read the decree of notification signed by Tobias.”By CNN Philippines Staff

Vatican hands down ‘not guilty’ verdict on healing priest Fr. Fernando Suarez
“The Congregation of the Doctrine of Faith of the Vatican has exonerated a healing priest from Bukidnon, who was accused of sexual abuse(link is external).The Congregation sent a letter to the Judicial Vicar and Retired Novaliches Bishop Antonio Tobias that has ruled Fernando M. Suarez of the Apostolic Vicariate of San Jose de Occidental Mindoro of ‘not guilty’ of the accusation against him of committing sexual abuse of minors.In response, Tobias, through the National Tribunal of Appeals of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines informed Suarez and other priests and bishops about the ruling from the Vatican through a decree of notification.”By Samuel P. Medenilla, Business Mirror

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In surprise, Benedict openly defends clerical celibacy as Francis considers married priests / National Catholic Reporter

“Although the volume is yet to be seen in full, it appears to signify something as yet unexperienced in the two millennia history of the Catholic Church: a retired pope openly weighing in on something currently under consideration by his successor, the reigning pontiff.” (National Catholic Reporter)

Retired Pope Benedict XVI has coauthored a new book defending the Catholic Church’s practice of a celibate priesthood, in a shocking move that comes as Pope Francis is considering the possibility of allowing older, married men to be ordained as priests in the Amazon region.

“According to excerpts from the volume released Jan. 12 by the conservative French outlet Le Figaro, the ex-pontiff says he could not remain silent on the issue as Francis is contemplating the move, which was requested by the bishops from the nine-nation Amazon region at October’s Vatican synod gathering.

“The book is co-written with Cardinal Robert Sarah, the head of the Vatican’s liturgy office. It is to be released in France Jan. 15 and carries the title Des profondeurs de nos cœurs (‘From the Depths of Our Hearts’).

“Although the volume is yet to be seen in full, it appears to signify something as yet unexperienced in the two millennia history of the Catholic Church: a retired pope openly weighing in on something currently under consideration by his successor, the reigning pontiff.

“One noted theologian reached shortly after the release of the excerpts called Benedict’s decision to write on the issue a ‘serious breach.'”

By Joshua J. McElwee, National Catholic Reporter — Read more …

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Pope jettisons pontifical secret; Voice of the Faithful applauds

BOSTON, Mass., Dec. 18, 2019 – Pope Francis yesterday changed the Catholic Church’s Canon Law to abrogate the “pontifical secret,” the Vatican’s equivalent of “top secret,” with regard to clergy sexual abuse cases. Voice of the Faithful joins clergy abuse victims and survivors and their advocates in considering this reform long-overdue.

Voice of the Faithful has always promoted full transparency of clergy abuse, understanding that the Church used secrecy in an attempt to protect itself against scandal, which resulted in particularly unjust treatment of victims. Because of the Pope’s action, no one may in the future claim that they cannot hand over documentation of abuse, or testify at trials, or be uncooperative with civil authorities by claiming clergy abuse information is considered top secret by the Vatican.

The Church’s leading clergy abuse investigator, Archbishop Charles Scicluna, has called the Pope’s instruction “epochal.” Abuse survivor Marie Collins, a former member of the Papal Commission for the Protection of Minors who resigned in frustration at Vatican resistance, hailed the change, calling it “excellent” and a “real positive change.”

Will this reform usher in a new era of transparency and accountability in the Church? We can only hope.


Voice of the Faithful Statement, Dec. 18, 2019
Contact: Nick Ingala, nickingala@votf.org, 781-559-3360
Voice of the Faithful®: Voice of the Faithful® is a worldwide movement of faithful Roman Catholics working to support survivors of clergy sexual abuse, support priests of integrity and increase the laity’s role in the governance and guidance of the Church. More information is at www.votf.org.

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