Posts Tagged Pope Francis

Pope institutes new ‘secular ministry’ of Catechist open to laymen and laywomen / Cruxnow.com

“‘Catechists,’ he (Archbishop Rino Fisichella, president of the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of the New Evangelization) said, ‘must know that they speak in the name of the Church and transmit the faith of the Church, but always doing so in a ‘secular’ manner, ‘without falling into forms of clericalism that blur the true identity of the ministry, which must express itself not primarily in the liturgical sphere, but in the specific sphere of the transmission of the faith through proclamation and systematic instruction.'”

Cruxnow.com

“Pope Francis on Tuesday (May 11) instituted the ‘secular’ ministry of the catechist, meant for lay men and women who feel called to help in the Catholic Church’s mission of spreading the Gospel. With the formal recognition of the many ‘competent catechists,’ who already exercise an ‘irreplaceable mission in the transmission and deepening of the faith,’ Francis offers yet another ministry to the laity after extending the role of acolytes and readers to women in the beginning of January.

“The institution of the ministry of the catechist came in the form of a motu proprio, meaning a document issued by the pope on his own initiative and personally signed by him. Titled Antiquum ministerium, Instituting the ministry of catechist, it was presented on Tuesday by Archbishop Rino Fisichella, president of the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of the New Evangelization, and Bishop Franz-Peter Tebartz-Van Elst, who heads up the council’s catechetical office.

“‘There is no doubt that the institution of this ministry, together with those already existing of Acolyte and Lector, will make it possible to have a laity that is better prepared in the transmission of the faith,’ Fisichella said.

“Catechists, he said, must know that they speak in the name of the Church and transmit the faith of the Church, but always doing so in a ‘secular’ manner, ‘without falling into forms of clericalism that blur the true identity of the ministry, which must express itself not primarily in the liturgical sphere, but in the specific sphere of the transmission of the faith through proclamation and systematic instruction.'”

By Inés San Martín, Cruxnow.com Read more …

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Voice of the Faithful Focus News Roundup

May 10, 2021

TOP STORIES

A historic resignation
“When Msgr. Roger Grundhaus wanted to baptize his niece’s baby in the cathedral of a nearby diocese, there was the simple matter of getting a letter from his bishop affirming that he was a priest in good standing. Bishop Michael J. Hoeppner of Crookston (who recently resigned at Pope Francis’ request) obliged the retired priest, a former vicar general of his diocese. ‘He is a person of good moral character and reputation,’ he wrote in 2012. ‘I am unaware of anything in his background which would render him unsuitable to work with minor children.’ But contrary to that blanket statement, Hoeppner had already heard allegations directly from a diaconate candidate(link is external), Ron Vasek, that Grundhaus had molested him in the early 1970s. And so, attorney Jeff Anderson confronted the bishop with the letter during a deposition: ‘That’s a lie, isn’t it?’” By Paul Moses, Commonweal

Podcast: Inside the secret process of appointing a Catholic bishop
“When Father John Wester received a call just before 8 a.m. Mass, he had no idea it would be the nuncio, the pope’s ambassador, phoning to tell him he would be the next auxiliary bishop of San Francisco. ‘I think my knees were knocking,’ now-Archbishop Wester of Santa Fe, N.M., told America’s ‘Inside the Vatican’ podcast. The bishop said his parishioners told him, ‘You don’t look very good, Father!’ and I said, ‘Well, I don’t feel very good right now!’ It was kind of a shockeroo.’ Archbishop Wester’s story is not unusual. Most bishops are appointed without ever knowing they were being considered for the job and are caught by surprise when chosen. The bishop selection process is perhaps the most secretive hiring process in the world(link is external), shielded from both the candidate and the priests and people he will serve.” Inside the Vatican, by Colleen Dulle and Gerard O’Connell, America: The Jesuit Review

Parishes cannot obstruct sex abuse investigations
“The Catholic Church’s struggle to eradicate the cancer of clergy sex abuse is on trial today(link is external). The community at St. Sabina church in Chicago is trying to obstruct the investigation of their much-beloved pastor Fr. Michael Pfleger on charges he sexually molested minors, according to a report in the Chicago Sun-Times. ‘Once again this week, there was an organized effort through the St. Sabina website to employ inappropriate and intimidating tactics to put pressure on the Archdiocese of Chicago and the Independent Review Board (IRB) as the case of Father Michael Pfleger is being processed,’ Chicago Cardinal Blase Cupich wrote in a letter to the administrators of the parish.” By Michael Sean Winters, National Catholic Reporter

Panel: Racism compounds the clergy sex abuse crisis for Black Catholics
“As a kid, Fr. Bryan Massingale was an altar server at his predominantly-Black Catholic school. When he served at Masses with one priest in particular, nuns who worked at the school kept a close watch on Massingale and the other boys, never leaving them unattended. Years later, Massingale saw that priest’s name on a list of clergy credibly accused of sexual abuse(link is external). It dawned on him that the sisters were trying their best to protect him and other children. ‘If not for the efforts of those sisters, I could have been one of that man’s victims,’ said Massingale, a professor of theological and social ethics at Fordham University, in a panel on clergy sexual abuse in Black Catholic communities.” By Madeleine Davison, National Catholic Reporter

Synods will make the difference
“Over the years, we have begun to discover some differences between Jesus and the church: Jesus has credibility. The reputation of the church, on the other hand, teeters(link is external) … Until finally, the renewal of the church has been swamped in regalia, clericalism and wealth … The church is again in need of reform and repentance, of growth and grace. It is being called in this era to embrace the whole church rather than simply a segment of it. The implication of that is that the church, too, as well as society, must move beyond clericalism, sexism and institutionalism, not to mention the emphasis on organization often at the expense of the people who identify and depend on it.” By Joan Chittister, National Catholic Reporter

ACCOUNTABILITY

Wisconsin to launch statewide investigation of clergy sex abuse, attorney general document reveals
“Wisconsin authorities will launch an investigation into the state’s Catholic dioceses and religious orders to determine how many clergy members have sexually assaulted children over the year(link is external)s. Attorney General Josh Kaul notified the state’s five dioceses as well as separate orders of Catholic priests that his office will review sexual abuse allegations against clergy and other faith leaders, according to a letter obtained by USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin. Wisconsin is home to the Archdiocese of Milwaukee and dioceses in Madison, Green Bay, La Crosse and Superior.” By Haley BeMiller, Laura Schulte and Patrick Marley, Green Bay Press Gazette

POPE FRANCIS

Pope facilitates Vatican prosecutions for cardinals, bishops
“Pope Francis has sent another message to Vatican-based cardinals and bishops about his intent to hold them accountable for criminal misconduct(link is external): He removed the procedural obstacles that had spared them from being prosecuted by the Vatican’s criminal tribunal. A new law published April 30 makes clear that Vatican city-state prosecutors have jurisdiction over Holy See cardinals and bishops and need only the pope’s consent to proceed with investigations against them. The law abrogated a regulation, upheld as recently as last year, that said only the tribunal’s highest appeals court, which is composed of three cardinal judges, could assess the actions of cardinals and bishops accused of criminal offenses.” By Nicole Winfield, The Associated Press, in National Catholic Reporter

Pope ousts leadership of Ecuadorian diocese amid complaints
“Pope Francis responded Wednesday (Apr. 28) to reports of poor governance, financial mismanagement and moral failings in the Ecuadorian diocese of Riobamba by not only accepting the resignation of the retiring bishop but that of his heir apparent as well(link is external). Francis on Wednesday accepted the resignations of Bishop Julio Parrilla Diaz, who turned 75 last month, and his deputy, Monsignor Gerardo Miguel Nieves Loja, 53. Nieves had been named ‘coadjutor bishop’ for Riobamba last year and was due to be consecrated bishop in February, to take over when Parrilla retired at 75, the normal retirement age for bishops. But Nieves offered his resignation to Francis a week before the ceremony.” By Nicole Winfield, Associated Press, on USNews.com

BISHOPS

German Catholic cardinal abandons medal over church abuse legacy
“Groups for survivors of sexual abuse at the hands of Catholic clergy(link is external) in the Cologne and Trier dioceses welcomed Cardinal Reinhard Marx’s decision not to receive one of Germany’s top awards for public service — akin to an Anglo-Saxon knighthood. ‘It shows that churchly princes also are finally glancing at the people harmed,’ said Peter Bringmann-Henselder of a Cologne diocese advisory group, referring to the many children abused in the past by priests. Herman Schell of a Trier abuse victims group, calling itself Missbits, said Marx’s renunciation showed earnest candor, but irritation lingered over the cardinal’s reticence to explain his role in protecting perpetrators and trivializing abuse during his term as Trier bishop between 2002 and 2008.” By Deutsche-Welle

Stika facing likely ‘Vos estis’ Vatican investigation
“The Vatican has received multiple allegations of administrative misconduct against Bishop Richard Stika of Knoxville(link is external), and is expected to authorize an investigation under the terms of Vos estis lux mundi, The Pillar has learned. Complaints filed against the bishop allege that Stika impeded or restricted investigations into accusations of serial sexual misconduct by a seminarian who was living in his home, according to multiple sources in both the United States and Rome.” By PillarCatholic.com

PRIESTS

Pray, be poor, be close to the people, pope tells new priests
“The priesthood ‘is not a career, it is a service,’ Pope Francis told nine men just before ordaining them to the priesthood for the Diocese of Rome. The service to which priests are called must reflect the way God has cared and continues to care for his people(link is external), a ‘style of closeness, a style of compassion and a style of tenderness,’ the pope told the men April 25 during his homily at the ordination Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica.” By Cindy Wooden, Catholic News Service, in National Catholic Reporter

RELIGIOUS WOMEN

Bringing attention to exploited obedience, spiritual abuse in religious communities
“There has been much written recently about rising incidents of abuse and violence against women, including an important meeting of the U.N. Commission on Women. Through conversations about this, I also learned of another kind of abuse: spiritual/religious abuse(link is external). Although the term was new to me, the stories from women who have experienced it are not new. It was — and is — experienced in the context of obedience to church leaders, church teachings and projected images of women that tend to shame them.” By Joyce Meyer, Global Sisters Report, National Catholic Reporter

WOMEN’S VOICES

Barring women as leaders in church may be bad for their health, new study finds
“Going to church is generally touted as good for the soul. But there is also evidence church attendance can be good for your health — unless, that is, you are a woman at a church that bars women from preaching or other leadership roles(link is external). A new study published in the American Sociological Review has found that women who attend churches with such restrictions report worse health than those who attend churches with women in leadership roles. The study suggests sexism can counter some of the health benefits associated with religion, said co-author Patricia Homan, an associate professor of sociology at Florida State University.” By Bob Smietana, Religion News Service

LAITY & THE CHURCH

Catholic laypeople in Cologne Archdiocese demand local synod
“Catholic laypeople in the Archdiocese of Cologne have called for a local synod to address the ongoing crisis in Germany’s most populous diocese(link is external). ‘We must make every effort to reestablish a genuine dialogue between the cardinal, senior members of the diocesan leadership and the grassroots of the church,’ said Tim-O. Kurzbach, president of the Cologne archdiocesan council of Catholics. On March 18, the law firm Gercke Wollschläger released a report on how clergy sexual abuse was handled in the archdiocese.” By Catholic News Service on CatholicPhilly.com

CHILD PROTECTION

Papal safeguarding commission continues work online and in Rome
“Even as the COVID-19 pandemic continued, members of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors remained active in promoting outreach and providing new educational opportunities(link is external). As they met online and in Rome for their plenary assembly April 19-22, the members also welcomed a new member, Juan Carlos Cruz, a survivors’ advocate, who was participating in his first meeting since Pope Francis appointed him March 24.’ By Carl Glatz, Catholic News Service, on Cruxnow.com

Vatican approves strengthening safeguarding studies, research in Rome
“The Centre for Child Protection at Rome’s Pontifical Gregorian University has been transformed into a Vatican-approved academic institute(link is external) with its own faculty and ability to award advanced academic degrees. Starting Sept. 1, 2021, the university’s center will become the Institute of Anthropology, offering interdisciplinary studies on human dignity and care and expanding its scope in research, the university said in a press release April 27. The Vatican Congregation for Catholic Education approved the change April 15, allowing the center to broaden its work, develop its own academic faculty and award a licentiate in safeguarding and a doctorate in anthropology, in addition to the current diploma in safeguarding.” By Catholic News Service in The Pilot

Annual reports detail training, outreach in archdiocesan child protection efforts
“The Archdiocese of Baltimore and the Independent Review Board that assists with child protection efforts released the fourth annual reports from the archdiocesan Office of Child and Youth Protection and the review board(link is external). Archbishop William E. Lori initiated the reports in 2019, with reports from fiscal/reporting years 2017 and 2018 released within months of each other. Since then, the reports have been issued annually. The latest report, which covers the reporting year from July 1, 2019, to June 30, 2020, notes that the archdiocese was again, as every year, found by outside auditors to be in full compliance with standards set by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops in the 2002 Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People and its accompanying norms, as well as updates to those policies.” By Christopher Gunty, Catholic Review of the Archdiocese of Baltimore

CHURCH FINANCES

Parishes enlisted to help pay clergy abuse victims
“St. Therese Catholic Parish in Albuquerque’s North Valley was once the largest in the Archdiocese of Santa Fe, with a holy shrine and tiled-roof church considered one of the finest ecclesiastical buildings in New Mexico(link is external).These days, the parish on North Fourth is one of the smallest and struggles to make ends meet. It is behind on its property insurance and in debt to the Archdiocese of Santa Fe … The financial press on parishes over the past several months comes as attorneys for the archdiocese, the state’s largest, and victims have tentatively settled on a yet-to-be-disclosed amount to be distributed to survivors.” By Colleen Heild, Albuquerque Journal

Vatican reforms at a crossroad, Part 1: the financial scandals
“More than eight years have passed (2,966 days, to be exact) since Pope Francis was elected to Peter’s throne, with a clear mandate from the College of Cardinals to reform the Roman Curia and clean up the Vatican’s financial scandals. More than eight years have passed (2,932 days) since the Pope formed the Council of Cardinals, to advise him on the process of curial reform(link is external). That Council has now held 33 meetings, but the long-awaited document that will reorganize the offices of the Vatican—which was supposedly in final form last June, given a title (Praedicate Evangelium), signed by the Pontiff, waiting only for official translations—has not yet appeared.” By Phil Lawler, CatholicCulture.org

Vatican reforms at a crossroad: the financial scandals
“Yesterday, in Part I of this analysis, I showed how the Vatican’s quest for financial credibility has been damaged by the highly questionable financial deals originating with the Secretariat of State. But the problem with the Secretariat of State goes beyond the realm of financial affairs(link is external). Americans tend to assume that the Vatican Secretariat of State is equivalent to the US Department of State: an agency that deals with foreign affairs. But the Vatican’s ‘superdicastery’ has far more sweeping influence. One section of the Secretariat, the Office for Relations with States, is indeed the counterpart of the State Department, concerned with diplomatic relations. But another section, the Office for General Affairs, supervises all of the work of the Roman Curia.” By Phil Lawler, CatholicCulture.org

VOICES

Synodality and papal primacy: questions regarding the Catholic Church today and the next pope
“‘There’s a short path that is long, and a long path that is short.’ In the third seasons of the Netflix series ‘Shtisel,’ an eminent ultra-Orthodox rabbi who heads a yeshiva in Jerusalem offers that bit of sage advice to a star student who is dealing with a life-and-death decision. Short paths tend to become shortcuts leading nowhere, while wisdom suggests taking time to make a decision. ‘A long path that is short’ is indeed a good way to explain the virtue of synodality(link is external), the biggest wager Pope Francis has made for the Catholic Church today.” By Massimo Faggioli, La Croix International, in National Catholic Reporter

This is the true ‘gold standard’ for child protection in Pennsylvania
“Across the 32 Catholic archdioceses in the United States, there are limited policies that exist to protect children from clergy sex abuse(link is external). In fact, according to CHILD USA’s recent study of the written child protection policies of the 32 U.S. Roman Catholic Archdioceses, there is no uniformity in policies across the country, and the content and quality of these policies vary significantly. The same research additionally found that the average overall score for all 32 archdioceses, based on an objective system determining whether practices and procedures to safeguard abuse victims are described in the archdiocese’s policies, was 100.9 out of 250 points, or just 40 percent of the total possible score.” By Marci Hamilton, Capital-Star Guest Contributor

The lists of ‘credibly accused priests’ are all over the map
“Think back a couple of decades. Remember how survivors and advocates deplored the stunning disparity that characterized how both the accusers and the accused were treated based solely on where the reported abuse happened? A case in Chicago, for instance, was handled very differently from a case across the state line in Milwaukee or across another state line in Gary, Indiana. These disparities were supposed to end in 2002. That year, gathered in Dallas, all of the United States bishops adopted a first-ever allegedly binding nationwide church abuse policy mandating ‘openness’ and ‘transparency’ in this scandal. But for the most part, consistency just isn’t happening. Each bishop continues to act as he sees fit, despite the nationwide policy(link is external).” By AdamHorowitzLaw.com

Abuse survivor believes now is a great evangelical moment for Church
“Teresa Pitt Green, who as a child was sexually abused by Catholic priests(link is external), said she is convinced ‘there’s a lot more hope than people dare to feel.’ ‘If I can turn all the suffering and darkness of my life into a testimony that even in that place, Jesus was there and Jesus heals me, then that’s not such a bad way to use having been abused,’ she said. Pitt Green is co-founder of Spirit Fire, a Christian restorative justice initiative and fellowship of survivors of abuse in the Church.” By Catholic Standard

Editorial: Pennsylvania Senate must stand up for victims of abuse
“Getting just about any piece of substantial legislation passed in Pennsylvania’s General Assembly is likely to be a roller coaster ride for the lawmakers and activists who support it. That’s just the nature of the institution. But it’s hard to imagine anyone having a rougher ride than state Rep. Mark Rozzi and his allies trying to expand legal rights for survivors of childhood sexual abuse(link is external). Rozzi, a Muhlenberg Township Democrat, has been working on this issue ever since entering the Legislature eight years ago. His passion for addressing the issue is motivated by his own childhood experience being raped by a priest and further fueled by so many other harrowing stories shared by fellow abuse survivors.” By Daily Times Editorial Board

STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS

Vermont bill would end time limit for civil physical abuse
“The Vermont Senate on Tuesday (Arp. 20) passed a proposal to eliminate the statute of limitations in civil cases of childhood physical abuse(link is external). The bill, approved by a vote of 29-0, builds on legislation passed two years ago that ended the statute of limitations for civil cases of past childhood sexual abuse. The proposal that passed Tuesday was pushed by a group of now-aging people who say they suffered physical abuse while living at the St. Joseph’s Orphanage in Burlington, which closed in 1974.” By Wilson Ring, Associated Press

New Colorado law ends statute of limitations for civil sex abuse cases
“Gov. Jared Polis signed a bill into law Thursday (Apr. 15) ending the statute of limitations for civil sex abuse cases(link is external). The bill removes the current six-year limitation on bringing a civil claim based on sexual misconduct. It applies to any incidents that happen on or after January 1, 2022. The legislation defines sexual misconduct and removes restrictions that limit victims’ ability to file a civil action or recover damages. The bipartisan bill was signed as survivors of sexual assault spoke out about how this bill will change lives.” By Angela Case, FOX-TV21 News

With return of lawmakers, victims of child sex crimes implore Pennsylvania Senate to advance reform bill
“Those were the gut-wrenching stories shared on Monday (Apr. 19) as dozens of victims and advocates urged the Pennsylvania Senate to advance legislation that would provide a temporary period of time for victims – all of them now adults and out of legal recourse – to seek justice. The state Senate this week is poised to consider a bill that would pave the way for victims timed-out of the legal system to get a two-year reprieve to file civil claims(link is external) – facing predators in court, or at the very least, the institutions that turned a blind eye to their abuse. The state House of Representatives has already approved the bill.” By Ivey DeJesus, PennLive.com

CLERGY SEXUAL ABUSE

INVESTIGATION: What is the real reason the Archdiocese of New Orleans declared bankruptcy
Russ Hebron, the SNAP (Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests) Leader of Louisiana, emphasized this. ‘They have multiple insurance claims of policies that cover exactly this. Sex abuse. That’s what it’s for. They’re gonna pay for most of this. Not all of it, but most of this. It’s crazy. It’s a losing battle,’ he explained. ‘… This is a matter of secrecy, a matter of silencing(link is external). The church thinks in centuries, not in weeks or years, but in centuries, literally. That’s how quickly they change. So that’s what we’re up against here.’ (Archbishop Gregory) Aymond confirmed in a WWL-TV interview that insurance will pay for the sex abuse claims … When the reporter interviewing him asked why the archdiocese needs bankruptcy protection then if insurance pays for abuse claims, one of his advisors interrupted and said that the archbishop had already answered that question.” By Helen Lewis, Big Easy Magazine

Why ABC’s (Australian Broadcasting Company) deep dive into Catholic Church abuse is groundbreaking
“‘Revelation’ (now streaming on DocPlay) is a three-part, Australian-produced documentary series, shot across a couple of years in multiple locations. It’s nothing short of a revelation itself – and a must-watch for anyone who has been following the allegations of abuse against the Catholic Church(link is external) both across the ditch – and here. ABC journalist and director Sarah Ferguson was given unprecedented access – by, yes, the church – to a few of the perpetrators, court sessions and archival material. The film-makers also travelled to New Zealand in pursuit of stories here.” By Stuff.co.nz

In New Mexico, shadows of a former haven for troubled priests
“What remains of the Servants of the Paraclete here is a wisp of the Catholic order that thrived in this mountain town a few decades ago. The ministry that drew hundreds of priests to Jemez Springs for nearly 50 years, treating them for problems ranging from alcoholism to pedophilia, shows hints of its old self. But its history is inescapable as the Archdiocese of Santa Fe continues to raise money to settle lawsuits filed by dozens of people who say they were sexually abused by priests(link is external).” By Rick Ruggles, Santa Fe New Mexican

COLORADO

Settlement helping victim of Colorado Catholic priest abuse to start a new life
“A state-led investigation into child sex abuse by Catholic priests in Colorado in 2019 discovered 52 priests were responsible for sexually assaulting 212 children(link is external) between the 1950s and 1999. Now, one of the victims is telling a story of healing after he reached a settlement with the church. ‘I never thought I would come out of the darkness,’ said Troy Gallegos, a Denver man who kept his story a secret or more than four decades. ‘I’m still trying to climb out of there.’” By Tony Kovaleski, ABC-TV7 News

CONNECTICUT

Lawsuits make new sex abuse claims against Legion of Christ
“The Legion of Christ, a Roman Catholic order disgraced by sexual abuse committed by its founder and other clergy, is facing new allegations of molestation of children in lawsuits filed this month in Connecticut, where it is based(link is external). Five men and a woman sued the order in federal court on April 14 and 15, saying they were victims of sexual crimes when they attended schools run by the Legion of Christ in New Hampshire and Rhode Island in the 1990s when they were children.” By Dave Collins, Associated Press

FLORIDA

New York man shares story of his alleged sexual abuse by a Florida priest in the 1970s
“The state’s two-year investigation into allegations Catholic priests sexually abused Florida children resulted in a blistering report(link is external), naming 97 Catholic priests meeting the state’s criteria for prosecution. Not a single one will stand trial. The priests were dead, had already been prosecuted, or in most cases — too many years had passed. But the story doesn’t end there.” By Kylie McGivern, WFTS-TV News Tampa Bay

ILLINOIS

SNAP encourages Paprocki to add five names to diocese’s ‘credibly accused’ list
“Holding signs like ‘Split hairs or protect kids’ outside of the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, members and supporters of a group of clergy sexual abuse survivors urged Springfield Catholic Bishop Thomas John Paprocki Wednesday (Apr. 21) to include five more names on the diocese’s list of ‘credibly accused’ priests(link is external). All five of the accused served at parishes or studied in the Springfield diocese, which includes 28 counties in central Illinois.” By Steven Spearie, State Journal Register

Chicago priest asked to step away following report of minor sex abuse decades ago
“A Chicago priest has been asked to step away from ministry following a report of minor sex abuse from over 35 years ago(link is external). In a letter to members of the Christ the King parish and school, Cardinal Blase Cupich said the archdiocese received a minor sex abuse allegation involving Rev. Lawrence Sullivan. Sullivan has agreed to cooperate with the request and will live away from the parish, the archdiocese said.” By WGN-TV9 News

Father Christopher Ciomek, pastor of St. Peter Damian Parish in Bartlett, removed amid 30-year-old child sex abuse claims
“Father Christopher Ciomek, pastor of St. Peter Damian Parish in northwest suburban Bartlett, has been removed from ministry as the Catholic Archdiocese of Chicago investigations allegations of child sex abuse(link is external) dating back 30 years. ‘It is with great difficulty that I write to share news about your pastor, Father Christopher Ciomek. In keeping with our child protection policies, I have asked Father Ciomek to step aside from ministry following receipt by the Archdiocese of allegations of sexual abuse of a minor approximately 30 years ago. Allegations are claims that have not been proven as true or false. Therefore, guilt or innocence should not be assumed,’ Cardinal Blase Cupich said in a letter to the parish.” By CBS-TV2 News

INDIANA

Fr. Bradley ‘rejoiced’ after Vatican reinstates him following sexual abuse allegations
“Fr. Joseph Edward Bradley, a priest of the Diocese of Owensboro, has been reinstated by the Vatican(link is external). ‘I am so happy I can hardly talk,’ Father Bradley shared. ‘I’ve been on cloud nine.’ On March 1, 2019, Fr. Bradley was temporarily suspended from public ministry by Bishop William F. Medley following a recommendation by the Diocesan Review Board that an allegation of the sexual abuse of a minor had been found credible.” By Jill Lyman and Evan Gorman, NBC-TV14 News

LOUISIANA

Rape allegations surface for Jesuit priest accused of inappropriate conduct at Loyola, Boston College
“A Jesuit priest who founded a Catholic service group resembling the Peace Corps before facing complaints of inappropriate conduct at Boston College and Loyola University is now accused of raping a subordinate on a volunteer mission(link is external). Tim Ballard’s allegations against the Rev. Ted Dziak triggered Dziak’s removal last fall as chaplain at Le Moyne College in upstate New York, where he had landed after leaving Loyola only weeks earlier. It’s unclear whether Dziak faces other consequences.’ By Ramon Antonio Vargas, NOLA.com

MARYLAND

Baltimore priest Fr. Martin H. Demek removed from ministry after allegations of child sex abuse emerge
“Fr. Martin H. Demek, the pastor at Corpus Christi Catholic Church in Baltimore, was suspended from his ministry pending the results of an investigation into allegations he sexually abused a minor(link is external) more than 30 years ago. The Archdiocese of Baltimore is now investigating those allegations and have suspended Demek from the ministry pending the results of the investigation. Demek denied the allegation, the archdiocese said in a press release Sunday, and he is cooperating with the investigation.” By WJZ-TV13 News

MASSACHUSETTS

Lawyers of man abused by late bishop want judge from outside area, citing diocese’s legal influence
“Flagging ‘novel questions of law’ that will require at least a month-long trial, lawyers for a Chicopee man abused by a former Catholic bishop(link is external) want the state’s chief justice to assign the case to a single judge, one from outside Western Massachusetts to avoid undue influence. In a recent filing in Hampden Superior Court, the lawyers say the man, identified in court documents as John Doe, faces the risk of being further traumatized by the legal process as he seeks to prove not only his sexual abuse by the late Christopher J. Weldon in the early 1960s, but that employees of the Springfield Diocese, including former Bishop Mitchell T. Rozanski, blocked his attempts to bring the molestation to light.” By Larry Parnass, The Berkshire Eagle

Complaints about Boston College priest sent to Leahy and Jesuit provincial years prior to rape allegation
“Members of the Boston College community sent complaints beginning in the 1997-98 academic year to University President Rev. William P. Leahy, S.J., accusing Rev. Ted Dziak, S.J., a Jesuit at BC from 1990 to 1998, of inappropriate conduct with students(link is external). Dziak—who went on to work at Jesuit schools in Jamaica, New Orleans, and New York—was accused last week of raping a postgraduate volunteer in Belize in 2004, according to nola.com.” By Julie Kiersznowski, Victor Stefanescu, Amy Palmer and Megan Kelly, The Heights

MICHIGAN

Former U.P. priest pleads guilty to sex abuse, to serve minimum of eight years in prison
“A former Upper Peninsula priest pleaded guilty today to four counts of criminal sexual conduct(link is external), which will result in the harshest prison sentence thus far in the Michigan Attorney General’s clergy abuse investigation. Gary Jacobs, 75, pleaded guilty in Ontonagon County on Thursday, April 22, to three counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct and one count of second-degree criminal sexual conduct, the attorney general’s office announced. He was facing four separate sexual abuse cases and his plea agreement required that he plead guilty to the highest charge in each case.” By Justine Lofton, MLive.com Michigan

MISSOURI

Guarding faith: St. Louis Archdiocese adds another priest’s name to its list of abusers, but won’t talk about it
“To this day, Our Lady of Providence is still active. But it’s faced with a conundrum. In 2019, the archdiocese released a list of dozens of clergy deemed to have substantiated claims of sexual abuse of minors against them(link is external). Last month, (Rev. Vincent J.) Duggan’s name was added to the existing list, which victim advocates say is among the least informative in the country. Apart from his name, the list merely says Duggan was ordained in 1940 and died in 1984. It doesn’t say where Duggan, or the other disgraced archdiocesan priests and deacons, served. Nor are there mug shots.” By Jess Bogan St. Louis Post-Dispatch

NEW JERSEY

‘You think you’re the only one’: N.J. abuse survivor featured in Discovery+ documentary
“At first, Keith Rennar Brennan felt flattered by the attention lavished on him by the director of his church choral group. ‘After only a few weeks of being in the group, he started calling me every night and we’d meet every week,’ Brennan said of the music director at St. Paul the Apostle Roman Catholic Church in Jersey City, where he grew up. But starting at age 14, the yearlong friendship evolved into sexual abuse(link is external).” By Deena Yellin, NorthJersey.com

N.J. Catholic priest accused of sexually abusing a boy 30 years ago
“A Catholic priest in Atlantic Highlands stands accused of sexual assault in a lawsuit filed by a man who claims the priest repeatedly molested him(link is external) decades ago when he was 13 or 14 years old. Rev. Joseph Farrell, now a pastor at St. Isidore the Farmer Parish in New Egypt, was put on leave by the Diocese of Trenton after the 44-year-old man filed suit. NJ Advance Media is not disclosing the plaintiff’s name since his lawsuit involves claims of sexual abuse.” By Rebecca Panico, NJ Advance Media on NJ.com

NEW MEXICO

St. Therese no stranger to clergy sexual abuse
“St. Therese Catholic parish in Albuquerque knows too well the scourge of clergy sexual abuse(link is external). Eight of the 79 priests and other clergy members on the archdiocese list of those ‘credibly accused’ of molesting children worked at the North Valley parish over a 32-year period. The first priest was assigned in 1959, five years after the current church was built.” By Colleen Heild, Albuquerque Journal

10th Circuit upholds sex abuse convictions of former Catholic priest
“The 10th Circuit upheld a federal grand jury’s conviction of a former priest on seven counts of sexual abuse against a 10-year-old boy(link is external) dating back to the 90s. Arthur Perrault, a former Roman Catholic priest who served at several parishes in Albuquerque, New Mexico, fled the country in 1992 to Canada and then Morocco after learning of a local reporter’s investigation into allegations that Perrault sexually abused young boys.” By Jon Parton, Courthouse News Service

St. Michael’s High School sued over alleged abuse decades ago
“Seven men filed a lawsuit last week against St. Michael’s High School in Santa Fe, alleging school officials failed to prevent three staff members – all Christian Brothers – from sexually abusing them while they were students(link is external) decades ago. The lawsuit filed in 1st Judicial District Court alleges Brothers Andrew Abdon, Louis Brousseau and Tom McConnell abused students while working for the school as teachers and athletics coaches between 1953 and 1980. All three had already been listed on the Archdiocese of Santa Fe’s credibly accused list.” By Kyle Land, Albuquerque Journal

NEW YORK.

For first time, diocese releases list of ‘credibly accused’ clergy
“As part of its bankruptcy court filings, the Roman Catholic Diocese of Rockville Centre, which oversees parishes across Long Island, has released a list of over 100 clergy accused of sexual abuse while serving in the diocese,(link is external) including some who had not previously been identified. Eleven of the clergy on the list served on the South Fork from the late-1950s through as recently as 2000.” By Carissa Katz, The East Hampton Star

Rochester’s Catholic diocese barred from shielding identities of accused priests
“A federal judge has blocked an effort by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Rochester to shield the identity of priests accused of sexual abuse(link is external) during its bankruptcy procedure, after the Democrat and Chronicle objected to the practice. Gannett Co. Inc., the parent corporation of the Rochester newspaper, filed a motion to intervene in the diocese’s bankruptcy proceeding ‘in order to enforce the public’s right of access.’ The diocese filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in September 2019, saying it could not afford to pay the compensation being demanded in a flood of new civil suits alleging sexual abuse by its priests in past decades. Hundreds of claims have been filed against the diocese as part of the bankruptcy process.” By Sean Lahman, Rochester Democrat & Chronicle

OHIO

Trial delayed for Cincinnati priest accused of rape
“The trial for Geoff Drew, the Catholic priest accused of raping an altar boy(link is external) decades ago, has been delayed again, the Hamilton County Prosecutor’s office confirmed Friday (Apr. 23). Nearly 21 months after Cincinnati police arrested Drew, his jury trial was set to begin Monday before Judge Leslie Ghiz. Now, Hamilton County court records show a ‘plea or trial setting’ scheduled for Monday at 10 a.m.” By Craig Cheatham, WCPO-TV9 News

For true healing, abuse survivors urge church to hear their stories
“A trio of survivors of sexual abuse are inviting the Catholic Church(link is external) — from parishioners in the pews to the bishops who lead dioceses — to join them on their journey toward healing and reconciliation. The invitation from Mike Hoffman, who chairs the Archdiocese of Chicago’s Hope and Healing Committee, Mark Williams, a special adviser to Cardinal Joseph W. Tobin of Newark, New Jersey, and a deacon in the Diocese of Joliet, Illinois who asked to remain anonymous is meant to help the wider church heal as well.” By Dennis Sadowski, Catholic News Service, on Cruxnow.com

VERMONT

Former Vermonter files sexual abuse lawsuit against Weston Priory
“A former Vermont resident has filed a civil lawsuit in Windsor County Superior Court, alleging the Weston Priory and the Jesuits religious order were negligent in allowing him to be sexually abused as a teenager(link is external) in about 1970. Michael Veitch, 66, of New York said he was 15 when priest James Talbot molested him during a visit to the priory, according to claims first reported in 2018. Talbot, convicted three years ago of sexually abusing a boy in Maine, recently was released from prison. The registered sex offender, now in his 80s, was jailed earlier on another conviction and has settled lawsuits with more than a dozen other plaintiffs, according to media reports.” By VTDigger.com

WASHINGTON

When sin runs deep: one Puyallup church, two priests, one awful legacy of child abuse
“Twice in the past two years, a Catholic parish in Pierce County has found itself on a list of sin, scandal and modest compensation for great pain. It’s a list that no church wants to show up on. Credible allegations of sexual abuse against two former priests led to financial settlements between abuse survivors and the Archdiocese of Seattle(link is external). The two served at All Saints Parish in Puyallup within a decade of each other. Both were accused of violating their sacred trust while assigned to the parish on 3rd Street Southwest.” By The News Tribune

WISCONSIN

Advocates for sexual abuse survivors applaud DOJ investigation into Catholic Church
“Advocacy groups representing survivors of sexual abuse are applauding the news that the Wisconsin Department of Justice plans to open an investigation into abuse by clergy members and other leaders in the Catholic church(link is external). USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin reported Thursday (Apr. 22) that Attorney General Josh Kaul sent a letter this week to the state’s five Catholic dioceses and several religious orders to inform them of the investigation. Melanie Sakoda, survivor support coordinator for Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, said she hopes the investigation will lead to a more complete list of abusers across the state. Sakoda said many of the lists released by dioceses are incomplete, leaving off visiting priests or those with abuse allegations reported in other dioceses.” By Hope Kirwan, Wisconsin Public Radio

ARGENTINA

Plaintiffs in second Provolo sex abuse trial demand ‘end to delays’
“More than a decade after pleading guilty in 1988 to sexually abusing a young boy(link is external) in Louisville, Kentucky, Deacon James Griffith was moved by his religious order to a monastery next to Immaculate Conception School in Norwood Park. The Passionists — the Catholic religious order that at the time was overseeing the church and school just north of the Kennedy Expressway on the Northwest Side — say he was assigned there in 2002 ‘to work in the provincial office’ on the third floor.” By Robert Herguth, Chicago Sun-times

CANADA

Ottawa Catholic board launching review after longtime teacher charged with sex offences
“The Ottawa Catholic School Board is launching a review of how it handled previous allegations brought forward to school administrators concerning a longtime teacher at St. Matthew High School in Orleans(link is external). Last Tuesday, Ottawa police charged Rick Watkins, 57, of Ottawa with three counts of sexual assault, three counts of sexual interference and three counts of sexual exploitation of a young person. Watkins is also known as Rick Despatie. None of the allegations have been tested in court.” By Josh Pringle, CTV News

St. Boniface priest loses ordination years after sex abuse claims
“A Roman Catholic priest from St. Boniface has been stripped of his ordination by the Pope, six years after allegations surfaced that he sexually abused young men he was counselling(link is external). Archbishop Albert LeGatt of the Archdiocese of St. Boniface announced in a letter to clergy dated April 19 that Fred Olds, former priest at St. Timothy and St. Bernadette parishes, was dismissed from the clerical state by Pope Francis and also removed from all priestly obligations, including celibacy.” By Brenda Suderman, Winnipeg Free Press

GUIANA

Bishop to the rescue as Cayenne torn over sex abuse
“Bishop Michel Dubost, after running Lyon archdiocese between the resignation of Cardinal Philippe Barbarin and the appointment of new Archbishop Olivier de Germay, will take on another clerical sexual abuse controversy(link is external) as the new apostolic administrator of Cayenne diocese in French Guiana. Dubost, 78, will temporarily lead the diocese while a canonical inquiry investigates a dispute between retired Bishop Emmanuel Lafont and an illegal  Haitian immigrant who accuses him of sexual abuse. The bishop flatly denied the charge and accused the immigrant of robbery.” By Tom Heneghan, The Tablet

IRELAND & NORTHERN IRELAND

Dublin Archdiocese ‘committed to protecting children’ despite halving staff at safeguarding service
“The Dublin Catholic Archdiocese has begun restructuring the support services it provides to parishes after halving the number of staff working in the Child Safeguarding and Protection Service(link is external) (CSPS). The number of staff working in the CSPS has been reduced from 10 to five people in recent months as part of a wider redundancy programm in the Archdiocese.” By TheJournal.ie

Bishop of Raphoe confirms diocese cooperating with retired priest investigation
“The Bishop of Raphoe has confirmed that a retired priest of the diocese has been charged with assaulting two minors(link is external) between 1972 and 1975. It is understood the 85-year-old retired priest has been released on bail after he was charged with 26 counts of indecent assault. In a statement, Bishop Alan McGuckian says the diocese has been cooperating fully with Gardai and Tusla regarding the case. He added that they are committed to assisting and supporting anyone who has been a victim of clerical abuse in seeking justice.” By Highland News Radio

SPAIN

Catholic leaders put numbers to sex abuse claims
“In a first public attempt to put numbers to instances of child sex abuse by the country’s Catholic clergy, Spain’s Episcopal Conference revealed Friday (Apr. 23) that 220 cases were officially reported to the Vatican over the past two decades(link is external). The conference, which is the top governing body of Spain’s Catholic Church, said Spanish bishops submitted 76 allegations against regular priests and 144 against members of specific religious orders to the Vatican’s office that handles sex abuse cases since 2001.” By Aritz Parra, Associated Press

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Voice of the Faithful Focus News Roundup

April 20, 2021

Pope asks U.S. bishop to resign after cover-up investigation
“Pope Francis asked a bishop in the U.S. state of Minnesota to resign after he was investigated by the Vatican for allegedly interfering with past investigations into clergy sexual abuse(link is external), officials said Tuesday (Apr. 13). The Vatican said Francis accepted the resignation of Crookston Bishop Michael Hoeppner on Tuesday and named a temporary replacement to run the diocese. Hoeppner is 71, four years shy of the normal retirement age for bishops.” By Associated Press

Woelki calls for stronger law on clerical sex abuse
“The Archbishop of Cologne Cardinal Rainer Maria Woelki has called for a tightening up of Canon law on clerical sex abuse(link is external). ‘Canon law on how to deal with priestly sexual abuse must be changed. It needs tightening, that is, the rulings must be made clearer and more explicit,’ he said. For example, the statute of limitations for sexualized violence must be extended and the ‘contradictions in canon law and in the German bishops’ conference’s guidelines on priestly sexual abuse must be eliminated,’ he added.” By Christa Pongratz-Lippitt, The Tablet

A bird’s nest and healing: Vatican sponsors event on preventing sexual abuse
“The Vatican is teaming up with Harvard University to host a virtual Symposium on preventing and healing child sexual abuse(link is external), an event which grew out of a bird’s nest presented to Pope Francis, according to Jennifer Wortham, Ph.D., of Harvard. A bird’s nest can carry a powerful message: ‘All children deserve a safe and nurturing environment in which to grow.’ That simple, yet important, aim lies at the heart of this global symposium entitled ‘Faith and Flourishing: Strategies for Preventing and Healing Child Sexual Abuse.’ Dr. Wortham says she hopes April 8 will become the World Day for Child Sexual Abuse Prevention, Healing, and Justice, a proposal which she is launching at the United Nations in September.” By Devin Watkins, Vatican News

Dominicans in Poland launch investigation of abusive priest
“The Dominican province in Poland has started an independent, lay-led investigation of a sect-like youth ministry ran by Dominican Father ‘Paweł M.’ between 1996-2000 in Wrocław. The Dominican friary in Wrocław released a statement on March 7 apologizing for the abuse(link is external). ‘We turn to you with great pain and shame. We stand before you in the truth that, despite the passage of years, is revealing its terrifying face more and more clearly,’ the statement said.” By Paulina Guzik, Cruxnow.com

Legal lessons: Past sexual abuse cases help train canon lawyers, according to Pope Francis
“When Pope Francis abolished the ‘pontifical secret’ covering the church’s judicial handling of cases of the sexual abuse of minors, it was hailed as a major step forward in promoting greater transparency and accountability(link is external). At first glance, it means victims and witnesses are free to discuss a case … But an additional consequence of this landmark change, enacted in mid-December 2019, will be its potential to provide much-needed practical training and multidisciplinary studies for those involved in the handling of abuse cases.” By Carol Glatz, Catholic News Service, on TheDialog.org

ACCOUNTABILITY

French high court clears cardinal of abuse cover-up
“France’s highest court confirmed on Wednesday (Apr. 14) that the former archbishop of Lyon, Cardinal Philippe Barbarin, did not cover up the sexual abuse of minors(link is external) by a predator priest. The ruling by the Court of Cassation closes a long, emotional drama that brought angst to the Roman Catholic Church, under scrutiny around the world for hiding abuse by its clergy.” By Nicolas Vaux-Montagny, Associated Press in Star-Tribune

At online symposium, Pope Francis says religions can eradicate sexual abuse together
“After decades of child sexual abuse scandals, the Catholic Church is ready to share its successes — and failures — with other religious and lay institutions. At an April 8-10 online symposium with religious representatives from around the world, Pope Francis expressed his hope that together, religions can fight ‘this profound evil(link is external).’ ‘Faith and Flourishing: Strategies for Preventing and Healing Child Sexual Abuse,’ organized by the Human Flourishing Program at Harvard University, brought together 73 speakers from different religious, cultural and professional backgrounds last weekend to address the phenomenon that has touched nearly every major religious group in the world.” By Claire Giangravé, Religion News Service

Accountability, transparency, due process still needed, abuse experts say
“To help foster a wider discussion on work that still must be done to safeguard minors and vulnerable people in the Catholic Church(link is external), a canon law journal published a series of talks by experts regarding accountability, transparency and confidentiality in the handling of abuse allegations.mThe talks were part of a seminar in December 2019 sponsored by the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors to address the topics as well as the seal of confession and the pontifical secret.” By Carol Glatz, Catholic News Service, in The Pilot

Disgraced Palmerston North bishop’s future lies with the Vatican
“The disgraced bishop of Palmerston North, Charles Drennan, still retains his title, but must follow conditions imposed on him by the Vatican, a commission has heard(link is external). Cardinal John Dew apologised to victims of abuse from the Catholic Church at the Royal Commission into Abuse in Care on Friday (Apr. 2) and he also discussed Drennan’s resignation. Drennan resigned as Palmerston North bishop in October 2019 after allegations involving an inappropriate relationship and harm of a young woman who was not a minor.” By George Heagney, Stuff.co.nz

CARDINALS

Cupich: 30 years ago Cardinal Bernardin developed plan to address abuse
“When Cardinal Joseph L. Bernardin of Chicago developed a comprehensive plan over a two-year period, in 1991 and 1992, to address clerical sexual abuse issues(link is external) in the Illinois archdiocese, he provided a copy of those procedures to all his fellow U.S. bishops at their annual meeting. ‘Their response was decidedly mixed,’ Cardinal Blase J. Cupich, Chicago’s current cardinal-archbishop, said in recounting these efforts by the late prelate. ‘Imagine if all the bishops had taken those documents home and fully implemented them in their dioceses, how much further ahead we would be … how many children might have been spared,’ he said.” By Mark Pattison, Catholic News Service

BISHOPS

‘We are outraged’: Parents object to new assignment for Cincinnati bishop who failed to report Father Drew allegations
“Parents of young children at a private Catholic school say they are infuriated and may withdraw their students after the Archdiocese of Cincinnati assigned a former high-ranking bishop who resigned in the fallout over a priest charged with raping an altar boy to be the pastor at two churches affiliated with their school(link is external). ‘We are outraged. We are being ignored and our children’s safety is not being considered at all,’ said Kim McRoberts, whose 11-year-old daughter is in the fifth grade at St. John The Baptist School on Dry Ridge Road in Colerain Township.” By Jennifer Edwards Baker, FOX19-TV News

The cultural disarmament of progressive Catholic bishops
“Archbishop Chaput and many of his views need to be challenged. But most liberal and progressive Catholics are just ignoring him. They do so at their own peril(link is external). It is striking that Chaput seems to be the only US bishop in the 21st century who seems capable or willing to offer to the wider public — Catholics and non-Catholics alike — his vision in a format that leaves an impression and a deeper effect than the occasional interview or speech.” By Massimo Faggioli, La Croix International, in National Catholic Reporter

Msgr. John Tracy Ellis on selecting bishops in the US
“The title ‘On the Selection of Bishops for the United States’(link is external) did not indicate if this was a lecture or the draft of a magazine article. I asked Purcell if he knew to what purpose the monograph had been put, and he checked with a priest in San Francisco who instructed me to reach out to Fr. Tom Shelley, a priest of the New York Archdiocese, who is working on a biography of Ellis. I did so, and Shelley let me know that Ellis had published two articles on the subject, one for Commonweal and the other for The Critic. I took a photograph of the first page and sent it to Shelley. He replied that the monograph was identical to the opening of the article in the July, 1969 issue of The Critic.” By Michael Sean Winters, National Catholic Reporter

PRIESTS

Vatican plans major conference on priesthood
“Increasing vocations to the priesthood, improving the way lay people and priests work together and ensuring that service, not power, motivates ordination(link is external) are all possible outcomes of a major Vatican symposium planned for 2022. ‘A theological symposium does not claim to offer practical solutions to all the pastoral and missionary problems of the church, but it can help us deepen the foundation of the church’s mission,’ said Cardinal Marc Ouellet, prefect of the Congregation for Bishops and the chief organizer of the symposium planned for February 17-19, 2022.” By CathNews.com

VATICAN

Vatican event on priesthood to explore topic of celibacy
“A top Vatican official in charge of organizing a major symposium on the priesthood next year has said the discussion will touch on several controversial hot-button issues such as priestly celibacy, the women’s diaconate, clericalism, and the clerical sexual abuse crisis(link is external). Speaking to journalists during the April 12 presentation of the event, Canadian Cardinal Marc Ouellet said, ‘the question of celibacy is important.’ ‘We have all spoken about it, and it will be discussed, but it will not be the central theme of the symposium,’ he said. ‘It is not a symposium on celibacy, like it needs to be taken up deeply. It’s a broader perspective.’” By Elise Ann Allen, Cruxnow.com

CHURCH FINANCES

Italian prosecutors request arrest warrant for Italian financier named in Vatican scandals”
“Italian prosecutors have asked a judge for an arrest warrant for Gianluigi Torzi, accusing the financier of money laundering and tax evasion(link is external). Torzi is already embroiled in a legal battle with the Vatican’s judiciary for his alleged role in the controversial purchase of a London apartment complex using Catholic Church funds. The document, signed March 29 and seen by Religion News Service, cites ‘serious indications of guilt related to self-laundering and tax violations.’ The Italian authorities also charged him with requesting false payments and fraudulently filing for bankruptcy.” By Claire Giangravé, Religion News Service

VOICES

Can the Catholic Church agree to change anything?
“Sometimes you need to catch your breath when a Vatican official’s speaking echoes a theologian’s writings. Which way is this going to go? Not long ago, the Vatican secretary of state, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, echoed a 50-year-old passage from a book by … wait for it … Swiss theologian Hans Küng. Speaking on Spain’s church-owned COPE radio network, Parolin underscored the Good Friday theme of Cardinal Raniero Cantalamessa, preacher for the papal household, and (perhaps unknowingly) brought forth a concept delineated by Küng 50 years ago: Some things can change, but internal church divisions are dangerous(link is external).” By Phyllis Zagano, National Catholic Reporter

Overdue reckoning at hand for archdiocese
“Completing a settlement between victims of clergy sexual abuse and the Archdiocese of Santa Fe is crucial for Roman Catholics in New Mexico. First, the people injured by an institution that allowed its priests to harm children are owed reparations. The damage to these victims is incalculable; money is the least the church can do to compensate for the sins of the past. As many New Mexicans know too well, the church that nurtured their faith and fed their souls also turned a blind eye to repeated reports that its clergy were molesting children(link is external). Preserving the church’s reputation was all that mattered.” By The Santa Fe New Mexican Editorial Board

Barron’s ‘beige Catholicism’ erases years of racial, social justice activism
“Bishop Robert Barron’s recent piece detailing the ‘evangelical path’ of his organization Word on Fire has provoked heated debate over his use of the term ‘beige Catholicism’ to refer to the faith of liberal or progressive Catholics(link is external). It’s not the first time he’s used the term. He coined the phrase 25 years ago, to critique modern or liberal Catholicism as ‘a faith that had become culturally accommodating, hand-wringing, unsure of itself.’ Barron has long combated post-Vatican II trends that he sees as anthropocentric rather than Christocentric. He connects these trends with the loss of the beauty and splendor of the Catholic cultural tradition. But he has now become concerned with what he sees as liberal Catholicism’s dangerous opposite extreme: the radical traditionalist movement in the church.” By Rebecca Bratten Weiss, national Catholic Reporter

Wealthy conservative Catholics are the new U.S. magisterium
“Sean Fieler was once asked to name ‘the thinkers or donors’ who have influenced how he practices his considerable philanthropy. ‘There’s a good network I’ve gotten to know over the last decade or so, through boards or shared charitable interests, who have had a big effect on me — Frank Hanna, Tim Busch, and Leonard Leo, for sure,’ he answered. Fieler is not a household name in Catholic circles, but anyone interested in the future of the church in the United States should keep tabs on what he and his ‘good network’ are up to(link is external).” By Tom Roberts, National Catholic Reporter

Saying sorry not enough
“A day late and a dollar short. That was the phrase used by Dr. Tom Doyle, a non-practicing Catholic priest, to describe the church’s apology, at the Royal Commission into Abuse in Care(link is external) last month, to those damaged by clergy sexual abuse. Dr. Doyle has been researching this issue since the 1980s when, as a canon lawyer stationed at the Vatican embassy in Washington, he was one of the authors of a 1985 confidential report on clergy sexual abuse of minors written for the National Conference of Catholic Bishops.” By Otago Daily Times Editorial Board

American Catholicism: Headed Towards a Dead End
“Although ‘nearly one-third of American adults (31.7%) say they were raised Catholic, only about one in five (20.8%) identified as Catholic’ in a survey conducted by the Pew Research Center. ‘The share of adults who identify as Christians fell from 78% to just under 71%’ between 2007 and 2014. But ‘within Christianity the greatest net losses, by far, have been experienced by Catholics(link is external),’ according to the ‘America’s Changing Religious Landscape’ study. The survey also showed that – since 34% of Catholics were Latino and 8% Black, Asian or other – the number of white Catholics had fallen to less than 12% of the population.” By Betty Clermont, OpenTabernacle.wordpress.com

STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS

Child sex abuse lawsuit bill faces long odds in House vote
“The Pennsylvania General Assembly is again discussing legislation to aid survivors of childhood sexual abuse(link is external), which faces an uphill battle to be passed. The goal of several different proposed measures is to create a two-year window for survivors of childhood sexual abuse to sue their abusers, most notably Catholic dioceses across Pennsylvania. The original measure, a constitutional amendment question that would have been posed to voters during the May 2021 primary election, has faced multiple setbacks.” By Harri Leigh, FOX43-TV News

Colorado Lawmaker Shares Story Of Rape As Legislature Eliminates Statute of Limitations Ending 30 Year Battle
“ he state legislature passed a bill which allows survivors of sexual assault to sue their perpetrators no matter how much time has passed(link is external). The bill eliminates the statute of limitations in civil cases. Survivors have been trying to pass the bill for 30 years, telling their stories year after year. This year, a state lawmaker was among them.” By CBS4 Political Specialist Shaun Boyd

Is this the year Minnesota gets rid of the statute of limitations on sexual assault?
“People who commit sexual assault will be at risk of criminal charges for the rest of their lives(link is external) if a bill to eliminate Minnesota’s statute of limitations on rape and other sex crimes gets enough support in the Legislature. William Dinkel, a survivor of child sexual abuse and a Long Prairie native, has advocated for the policy. A law change will send a message to victims that the justice system and the government care about them and want justice, Dinkel said Tuesday (Mar. 30).” By Nora G. Hertel, St. Cloud Times

CLERGY SEXUAL ABUSE

Former campus minister at Franciscan University indicted on rape charges
“A former campus minister at Franciscan University of Steubenville has been charged with rape and sexual battery against an individual with mental illness(link is external) placed under his care for mental health treatment. The charges against Third Order Franciscan Fr. David Morrier were filed on April 7 in Jefferson County, Ohio. Morrier, 59, is charged with one count of rape and two counts of sexual battery dating from November 2010 through the spring of 2013. According to the indictment, the alleged victim’s ability ‘to resist or consent was substantially impaired because of a mental or physical condition.’” By Christopher White, National Catholic Reporter

Site aims to help abuse survivors
“Jeff Anderson & Associates on Tuesday (Apr. 6) launched a database they hope will aid child abuse survivors, law enforcement and fellow attorneys(link is external) in their efforts to seek justice from the Catholic Church in New York State. The virtual event featured a breakdown of statistics for all dioceses in the state, including the Diocese of Ogdensburg. Anderson said the purpose of the report was, in part, “to identify those institutions and Catholic bishops across this country who have been complicit in allowing children to have been abused and to do what we can with each survivor, one at a time, to make sure that we are doing something today to protect kids tomorrow.” By Cara Chapman, Press-Republican

CALIFORNIA

Newport psychologist arrested on charges of sexually abusing children as a priest in California
“A former Roman Catholic priest who has worked as a clinical psychologist in Newport is facing charges of sexually abusing boys at parishes in California more than 20 years ago(link is external). The former Rev. Christopher J. Cunningham was arrested early Wednesday at his home on Sylvan Terrace by the U.S. Marshals Fugitive Task Force. Cunningham, 58, was sought by the Los Angeles County Sheriffs Department on a dozen charges of lewd acts upon boys under 14 years old, during incidents from 1995 through 1997. He was arraigned at Kent County Superior Court in Warwick and held for extradition to face the charges in Los Angeles County.” By Amanda Milkovits, The Boston Globe

MASSACHUSETTS

A progress report on diocese’s abuse response task force
“Last fall, in my capacity as chair of the Independent Task Force on the Response to Sexual Abuse within the Diocese of Springfield, I wrote an op-ed providing an overview of the work the task force was undertaking with emphasis on the stakeholder input that we would be seeking. I write now to affirm that the task force has been actively engaged and has made excellent progress in our data collection endeavor and in other phases of our work(link is external).” By Daniel Ford, Berkshire Eagle

MISSOURI

Survivors of church abuse laud Missouri Supreme Court ruling on evidence in lawsuits
“Survivors of sexual abuse by Catholic priests lauded a Missouri Supreme Court decision that will allow some circumstantial evidence to be presented in lawsuits(link is external). A small group of volunteers with the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests gathered Wednesday (Apr. 7) outside the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph in downtown Kansas City. ‘The Supreme Court, in a unanimous ruling yesterday, essentially made it somewhat easier for victims to expose predators and protect kids through civil lawsuits,’ said SNAP member David Clohessy. ‘Let’s be clear — Missouri has always been and remains a very tough state for victims to get justice in, but yesterday was progress.’” By Katie Moore, The Kansas City Star

Missouri Supreme Court keeps Chaminade clergy sex abuse case alive
“The Missouri Supreme Court on Tuesday(Apr. 6) affirmed a decision by a lower court that First Amendment protections shield religious employers from some lawsuits in certain cases of clergy abuse(link is external). But the court also overturned part of the lower court’s decision, saying it erred in not allowing plaintiff John Doe to bring expert testimony backing his claims of intentional failure to supervise clergy before a jury.” By Maria Benevento, St. Louis Post-Dispatch

NEW JERSEY

Newark Archdiocese let priest work after one sex abuse allegation. Now there are 2 more
“A newly filed lawsuit alleges that Kevin Gugliotta, a priest in the Newark Archdiocese, sexually abused a boy at a Union County parish(link is external) in 2006, a few years after church officials decided he could not be punished for alleged abuse from decades earlier when he was a Boy Scout leader. Newark Archdiocese officials have said they had no authority to punish Gugliotta after first hearing about allegations against him in 2003 because he was not yet a priest at the time of the alleged abuse, which the accuser said occurred in the 1980s.” By Abbott Koloff, NorthJersey.com

NEW MEXICO

Silent no more: Victim says abuse left her life a shambles
“For decades, Leigh-Anne just wanted someone, anyone, to listen. Instead, she said, she was placed in a mental hospital, silenced and ignored(link is external) until she fell into a years-long spiral of drug addiction, self-doubt and destruction. The 39-year-old was finally going to get her chance to confront Sabine Griego – the former priest who she says raped her repeatedly from ages 7 to 9.” By Matthew Reisen, Albuquerque Journal

Priest sex abuse survivor sues NMAG for allegedly withholding public records
“A survivor of alleged sexual abuse when he was a child is suing the New Mexico Attorney General’s Office for allegedly withholding public records related to credibly accused Catholic priests within the Diocese of Las Cruces(link is external). ‘For decades the national Catholic Church used New Mexico as a destination to hide pedophile priests, taking advantage of the unique cultural makeup of our communities, including their devoutness,’ attorney Paul Linnenburger said in a news release … Fr. David Holley victim Phil Saviano who was abused by Holley in Douglas, Massachusetts, in the Worcester Diocese in the 1960s.” By Nicole Maxwell, Alamogordo Daily News, in New Hampshire Union Leader

NEW YORK.

Head of elite Catholic school is fired over sexual misconduct charges
“Regis High School, one of the most prominent Catholic schools in the country, said it planned to fire the Jesuit priest who serves as its president after an investigation found he had engaged in sexual misconduct involving several adults(link is external), including school employees. The Rev. Daniel Lahart, who has been president of Regis, a prestigious all-boys school in Manhattan, since 2016, has been on administrative leave since late February, the school said in a statement. His firing will be effective April 21, the school said.” By Liam Stack, The New York Times

Almost 600 child sex abuse lawsuits filed against Brooklyn Jiocese under Child Victims Act
“Almost 600 child sex abuse lawsuits(link is external) have been filed against the Catholic Church’s Diocese of Brooklyn since the passage of the state’s Child Victims Act in 2019 through the end of 2020, according to a recent analysis. The 571 complaints filed against the Diocese, which covers Brooklyn and Queens, during the first 17 months of the act includes filings against 532 institutions under control of the religious district and 301 alleged abusers. Of those alleged abusers are 230 members of the clergy.” By Kevin Duggan, The Brooklyn Paper

More than 300 sex abuse claims against the Roman Catholic Diocese of Rochester
“The Roman Catholic Diocese of Rochester is facing more than 300 lawsuits tied to accusations of sexual abuse(link is external). The lawsuits stem from the New York’s Child Victims Act, which took effect in August 2019. It allowed victims who claim that they were sexually abused by members of the diocese to file civil lawsuits anonymously. It also stiffened penalties for their perpetrators. The diocese filed for bankruptcy in 2019 a month after the Child Victims Act took effect.” By James Brown, WXXI-FM Public Radio News

Ogdensburg Catholic diocese named in 80 child abuse cases
“Between September 2019 and December 2020 cases were filed under New York’s Child Victims Act that accused 39 clergy and a lay teacher in the diocese of abuse(link is external). Analysis of the cases in New York state was conducted by a law firm representing some of the child abuse survivors. The oldest alleged incidents were from 1959 ending with the most recent ones occurring in 1995.” By Celia Clarke, North Country Public Radio

Catholic Church Faces Wave Of Sex Abuse Cases Across State
“The New York State Child Victims Act has wiped away decades of silence in the Catholic Church, with thousands of sexual abuse survivors coming forward(link is external) and creating a surge of sexual abuse cases against the papistry. This past summer, it was revealed that priests in Oswego were included in a list of new lawsuits against the Diocese of Syracuse under the Child Victims Act.” By Shea O’Malley, Oswego County Today

NORTH DAKOTA

Catholic Confessions Part 1: A history of clergy abuse in North Dakota
“In January, the Attorney General’s office released the results of an 18-month long investigation into allegations of child sexual abuse by members of the North Dakota Catholic Dioceses(link is external). This investigation was prompted after the Bismarck and Fargo Dioceses released a list of 53 individuals with allegations of child sexual abuse in 2019. Of the 53 named individuals, all but two had died by the time the investigation commenced.” By Hayley Boland, KFYR-TV FOX News

OHIO

Cincinnati bishop who quit in fallout over priest charged with raping altar boy will be pastor over two churches
“The second-highest ranking bishop at the Archdiocese of Cincinnati who resigned in the fallout over a West Side priest charged with raping an altar boy three decades ago will be the pastor of two Hamilton County churches starting July 1(link is external). Auxiliary Bishop Emeritus Joseph Binzer was assigned to oversee the ‘pastoral territory’ of Corpus Christi Catholic Church off Springdale Road in Mt. Healthy and St. John Neumann Catholic Church located on Mill Road in Springfield Township, according to one of the church’s websites.” By Jennifer Edwards Baker, FOX19-TV News

Former campus minister at Franciscan University indicted on rape charges
“A former campus minister at Franciscan University of Steubenville has been charged with rape and sexual battery against an individual with mental illness(link is external) placed under his care for mental health treatment. The charges against Third Order Franciscan Fr. David Morrier were filed on April 7 in Jefferson County, Ohio. Morrier, 59, is charged with one count of rape and two counts of sexual battery dating from November 2010 through the spring of 2013. According to the indictment, the alleged victim’s ability ‘to resist or consent was substantially impaired because of a mental or physical condition.’” By Christopher White, Cruxnow.com

PENNSYLVANIA

State House OKs plan to allow sex abuse victims to sue despite statute of limitations
“The state House on Wednesday (Apr. 7) passed legislation that would open a window for lawsuits by survivors of childhood sex abuse without first seeking to change the Constitution(link is external). The measure isn’t likely to move in the state Senate, where Republicans have said they think that the change to allow lawsuits can only be legally provided by amending the Constitution, a process that will take until 2023 at the earliest … This legislation would allow survivors of abuse to sue public schools in addition to private schools and other private organizations.” By John Finnerty, New Castle News

VERMONT

Former residents of St. Joseph’s Orphanage recount horrific abuse, want day in court
“Several former residents of the St. Joseph’s Orphanage in Burlington spoke of the abuse they suffered there and urged the Legislature to eliminate the statute of limitations(link is external) for civil claims of childhood physical abuse. They would also like to see the legislation go further and allow civil claims of childhood emotional abuse. Linda Crossman, a member of Voices of St. Joseph’s, was among the former residents who urged expanding the legislation to include emotional abuse.” By Alan J. Keays, VTDigger.org

WISCONSIN

St. Norbert Abbey identifies two more Norbertine priests who abused minors, including former abbot
“St. Norbert Abbey, under pressure to deal with a history of abusive clergy(link is external), has identified two more Norbertine priests who sexually abused minors in the 1960s and ’80s. The newly named priests include former Abbot Benjamin Mackin, who led the Catholic order in De Pere from 1982 to 1994. A review by an independent board substantiated claims that Mackin sexually assaulted minors in the 1980s while abuse by Arnold Schinkten occurred in 1962, according to a news release from the abbey Thursday (Apr. 8). Both men are dead.” By Benita Mathew and Haley BeMiller, Green Bay Press-Gazette

WYOMING

Police, DA’s office clashed amid Bishop Hart investigation, documents show
“Wyoming police and prosecutors were repeatedly at odds over the sexual abuse investigation into retired Catholic Bishop Joseph Hart(link is external), police and prosecutor documents show, with police claiming that prosecutors hadn’t read basic case documents and prosecutors complaining about media attention and their problems with the work by police. For 10 months between 2019 and 2020, prosecutors in Wyoming were considering whether to charge Hart, now 89. At least eight men told police that they or a relative had been the victim of sexual misconduct by him.” By Seth Klamann, Denver Gazette

AUSTRALIA

Bishops’ Conference achieves strong result in audit
“The Australian Catholic Bishops Conference has fully implemented or substantially progressed the implementation of 97 per cent of relevant safeguarding indicators(link is external), an external audit has found. Australian Catholic Safeguarding Ltd last week published its findings after selective interviews with Conference staff, interaction with the Conference’s leadership and Safeguarding Committee, and a review of policies and procedures. Trudy Dantis, the director of the National Centre for Pastoral Research and the chair of the Bishops Conference’s Safeguarding Committee, said the audit process helped the organization strengthen its policies and procedures.” By CathNews.com

Vatican ruling on Bishop of Broome looms as tension builds in outback diocese
“Tensions are building over whether the Vatican will allow a bishop accused of sexual misconduct and bullying(link is external) to return to his outback parish, with a former priest warning it is a critical crossroads for the Catholic Church that could set an international precedent. Bishop of Broome Christopher Saunders was sent on a six-month sabbatical in November to give the Vatican time to assess the findings of an internal investigation into his running of the remote northern diocese.” By Erin Parke, ABC Kimberley

CANADA

Former Vancouver Catholic Archbishop ordered to give evidence in old sex-abuse case
“A former Roman Catholic Archbishop of Vancouver has been ordered by a judge to give evidence in old sex-abuse case(link is external), the second time he will have given evidence in such a case. The case involves a man named Mark O’Neill alleging that he was physically and sexually abused when he was a student at the Seminary of Christ the King in Mission. He claims that several former Benedictine priests abused him while he was between the ages of 13 and 17, with the alleged incidents occurring between 1974 and 1978.” By Keith Fraser, Vancouver Sun

Former Hanover priest sentenced for sexual abuse
“A priest who lived in Hanover was sentenced Wednesday (Mar. 31) to 21 months in jail in the Superior Court of Justice in Walkerton for sexually abusing a child(link is external). Mervin Perera, 73, was found guilty Jan. 30 of touching a girl for a sexual purpose, after a trial in Walkerton. He appeared in person in a Walkerton courtroom but the sentencing was conducted by videoconference. Perera has appealed the court’s decision and was released immediately after he was sentenced, his lawyer, Scott Cowan said after the hearing. Perera is governed by release terms which include non-association with the victim.” By Scott Dunn, The Sun Times

EAST TIMOR

Defrocked US priest revered in East Timor accused of abuse
“It was the same every night. A list of names was posted on the Rev. Richard Daschbach’s bedroom door. The child at the top of the roster knew it was her turn to share the lower bunk with the elderly priest and another elementary school-aged girl. Daschbach was idolized in the remote enclave of East Timor where he lived … So, the girls never spoke about the abuse they suffered(link is external). They said they were afraid they would be banished from the shelter the 84-year-old from Pennsylvania established decades ago for abused women, orphans, and other destitute children.” By Margie Mason and Robin McDowell, Associated Press

INDONESIA

Indonesian Catholic schools move to tackle sexual abuse
“A high-profile sexual abuse case in which altar boys in Depok on the outskirts of Jakarta were assaulted by a church worker was a wake-up call for Indonesia’s Catholic schools to look at ways to better protect students from such predators, according to educators. The case — the first involving sexual abuse within the Indonesian Catholic Church brought to a civil court(link is external) — saw the perpetrator, Syahril Marbun, jailed for 15 years for raping two altar boys.” By Ryan Dagur, UCANews.com

POLAND

Sanctions against Polish bishops cautiously welcomed by abuse survivors
“After the Vatican sanctioned two retired bishops in Poland, abuse victims say it’s a good start, but may be too little, too late(link is external). On Tuesday (Mar. 30), the Vatican imposed sanctions on emeritus Bishop Edward Janiak of Kalisz and Archbishop Sławoj Leszek Głódź of Gdańsk. The two had been featured in the ground-breaking documentaries ‘Hide and Seek’ (2020) and ‘Tell No One’ (2019) by the Sekielski Brothers.” By Paulina Guzik, Cruxnow.com

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A historic resignation / Commonweal

“The disclosure that the pope had ‘asked for’ the bishop’s resignation, appearing in a statement from the Diocese of Crookston, marked a significant advance in the long effort to hold prelates accountable for concealing clergy sexual abuse.”

Commonweal

“When Msgr. Roger Grundhaus wanted to baptize his niece’s baby in the cathedral of a nearby diocese, there was the simple matter of getting a letter from his bishop affirming that he was a priest in good standing.

“Bishop Michael J. Hoeppner of Crookston in northwest Minnesota obliged the retired priest, a former vicar general of his diocese. ‘He is a person of good moral character and reputation,’ he wrote in 2012. ‘I am unaware of anything in his background which would render him unsuitable to work with minor children.’

“But contrary to that blanket statement, Hoeppner had already heard allegations directly from a diaconate candidate, Ron Vasek, that Grundhaus had molested him in the early 1970s. And so, attorney Jeff Anderson confronted the bishop with the letter during a deposition: ‘That’s a lie, isn’t it?’

“‘Counsel, can you rephrase in a non-argumentative way?’ the diocesan lawyer interjected, and there was no admission from the bishop in settling the lawsuit.

“This letter was part of a trail of evidence leading to the announcement that Pope Francis had asked for and received Hoeppner’s resignation as bishop, a first in the United States under the 2019 Vatican regulations designed to prevent cover-ups of clergy sexual abuse. The disclosure that the pope had ‘asked for’ the bishop’s resignation, appearing in a statement from the Diocese of Crookston, marked a significant advance in the long effort to hold prelates accountable for concealing clergy sexual abuse.”

By Paul Moses, Commonweal — Read more …

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Vatican event on priesthood to explore topic of celibacy / Cruxnow.com

“The event will focus primarily on the common priesthood shared by all the baptized and the roles of individual ministries within that, such as the ordained priesthood, consecrated religious life, and the laity.”

Cruxnow.com

“A top Vatican official in charge of organizing a major symposium on the priesthood next year has said the discussion will touch on several controversial hot-button issues such as priestly celibacy, the women’s diaconate, clericalism, and the clerical sexual abuse crisis.

“Speaking to journalists during the April 12 presentation of the event, Canadian Cardinal Marc Ouellet said, ‘the question of celibacy is important.’

“‘We have all spoken about it, and it will be discussed, but it will not be the central theme of the symposium,’ he said. ‘It is not a symposium on celibacy, like it needs to be taken up deeply. It’s a broader perspective.’

“Head of the Vatican’s Congregation for Bishops, which is helping to organize the symposium, Ouellet when asked whether other hot-button issues such as the priestly ordination of viri probati, or “tested” married men, and the women’s diaconate would be addressed, said yes.”

By Elise Ann Allen, Cruxnow.com — Read more …

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Pope asks U.S. bishop to resign after cover-up investigation / Associated Press

Hoeppner was the first bishop known to be investigated by the Vatican under a 2019 law that Francis approved laying out the procedures to conduct preliminary investigations against bishops accused of sex abuse or cover-up.

Associated Press

“Pope Francis asked a bishop in the U.S. state of Minnesota to resign after he was investigated by the Vatican for allegedly interfering with past investigations into clergy sexual abuse, officials said Tuesday.

“The Vatican said Francis accepted the resignation of Crookston Bishop Michael Hoeppner on Tuesday (Apr. 13) and named a temporary replacement to run the diocese. Hoeppner is 71, four years shy of the normal retirement age for bishops.

“The Roman Catholic Diocese of Crookston said in a statement that the pontiff asked Hoeppner to resign following the Vatican probe, which it said arose from reports that the bishop ‘had at times failed to observe applicable norms when presented with allegations of sexual abuse involving clergy.’

“The Vatican had tasked St. Paul-Minneapolis Archbishop Bernard Hebda with conducting a preliminary investigation. Last year, Hebda’s office announced that the Holy See had authorized a more in-depth probe.”

By Associated Press — Read more …

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Voice of the Faithful Focus News Roundup

April 2, 2021

TOP STORIES

USCCB: Church must build culture of transparency on abuse
“Members of the U.S. bishops’ Committee on the Protection of Children and Young People have agreed with the National Review Board’s call that the Catholic Church must continue to build a culture of accountability and transparency regarding clergy sexual abuse(link is external). Bishop James V. Johnson Jr. of Kansas City-St. Joseph, Missouri, committee chairman, said in a statement that the members also agree with the all-lay review board ‘on the need to identify, address and correct systemic failures which hinder the best response to allegations.’’ By Catholic News Service in Florida Catholic Media

Cologne Catholic Church Failed in Handling Sex Abuse Claims, Report Finds
“A Roman Catholic archbishop in Germany offered his resignation and two other high-ranking officials were suspended in the wake of a report that found decades of ‘systematic cover-up’ in the church’s handling of accusations of sexual abuse at the hands of clergy members(link is external). The 800-page report, examining the years 1975 to 2018 at the Archdiocese of Cologne, was released on Thursday after five months of intense investigation. It was critical of the actions of Stefan Hesse, who had worked at the Archdiocese of Cologne and is now the archbishop of Hamburg.” By Melissa Eddy, The New York Times

Pope names prominent Chilean clerical abuse survivor to Vatican panel
“Pope Francis has appointed a prominent Chilean survivor of clerical sex abuse to a Vatican commission(link is external) which focuses on education to prevent abuse in the Roman Catholic Church. Juan Carlos Cruz, an international advocate for abuse victims, was abused as a teenager in his native Chile by a notorious paedophile, Father Fernando Karadima.” By KFGO-AM News

Former Albany bishop will be investigated under ‘Vos estis’ norms
“An anonymous plaintiff last week filed a lawsuit against former Albany bishop Howard Hubbard, alleging that Hubbard molested him in 1977, soon after his installation as bishop(link is external). The diocese of Albany confirmed to CNA on Wednesday (Mar. 24) that Hubbard will be investigated according to Vos estis lux mundi, the procedure for investigating abuse accusations against bishops that Pope Francis promulgated in May 2019. Also named in the suit are the diocese of Albany and St. Edward the Confessor Catholic Church in Clifton Park, New York, north of the city.” By Jonah McKeown, Catholic News Agency

Is Synodal Path in Germany a road to schism?
“In 2019, the German Catholic Church envisioned a ‘Synodal Path’ to try to address the institutional clerical sexual abuse scandal(link is external). Bishops, laity, priests, religious and experts were all summoned to find solutions and set forth a reform path that has expanded its scope to question Catholic Church teaching on areas of sexuality. (This is part two of a two part series looking into Germany’s Synodal Path, a process launched by the bishops’ conference in 2019 in an attempt to respond to the clerical sexual abuse crisis. Part one can be found here(link is external).) By Inés San Martín, Cruxnow.com

Vatican sanctions two Polish bishops after ‘Vos estis’ investigations
“The apostolic nunciature in Poland announced Monday (Mar. 29) that the Vatican has sanctioned two Polish bishops at the conclusion of canonical inquiries into accusations they were negligent in their handling of sexual abuse of minors by clergy(link is external). According to March 29 statements on the website of the Polish Catholic bishops’ conference, Archbishop Sławoj Leszek Głódź and Bishop Edward Janiak have been ordered by the Holy See to live outside their former dioceses, and told they cannot participate in public liturgies or non-religious gatherings within the territory of the dioceses.” By Hannah Brockhaus, Catholic News Agency

ACCOUNTABILITY

Sanctions against Polish bishops cautiously welcomed by abuse survivors
“After the Vatican sanctioned two retired bishops in Poland, abuse victims say it’s a good start, but may be too little, too late(link is external). On Tuesday (Mar. 30), the Vatican imposed sanctions on emeritus Bishop Edward Janiak of Kalisz and Archbishop Sławoj Leszek Głódź of Gdańsk. The two had been featured in the ground-breaking documentaries ‘Hide and Seek’ (2020) and ‘Tell No One’ (2019) by the Sekielski Brothers. The filmmakers documented how, for years the bishops ignored sexual abuse by the clergy in their dioceses, refusing to help victims or even properly investigate accusations.” By Paulina Guzik, Cruxnow.com

Effort to eliminate clergy-penitent privilege dies amid anti-Catholic fears
“An effort to eliminate clergy privilege and force religious leaders to report child abuse to legal authorities was unable to get enough votes(link is external) to make it out of committee Tuesday (Mar. 23) after days of backroom drama. Currently, only Guam, New Hampshire and West Virginia consider clergy mandated reporters and clergy-penitent privilege is waived in cases of suspected child abuse or neglect in those states. In Arizona (and everywhere else), clergy are not mandated reporters and suspected child abuse or neglect isn’t exempted from that, even if it is ongoing. And religious leaders cannot be forced to testify in court about abuse a parishoner confessed to committing.” By Jerod MacDonald-Evoy, Arizona Mirror

German Catholic Church ‘covered up’ cases of sexual abuse by clergy
“A system of ‘silence, secrecy and lack of oversight’ led to a lack of compassion for the victims of sexual abuse by the clergy(link is external), a German cardinal has announced. Archbishop of Cologne Cardinal Rainer Maria Woelki said he bore some responsibility for the sexual abuse scandal that has rocked the German Catholic Church and that there was an effort in the Cologne diocese to cover up cases of sexual abuse. He did not, however, offer to resign, saying such a move would be a short-lived symbolic step. He instead vowed to do ‘everything humanly possible’ to prevent sexual abuse in the Church.” By Deutsche Welle

German cardinal sees own mistakes over past abuse cases
“The Roman Catholic archbishop of the German city of Cologne said Tuesday (Mar. 23) that he made mistakes in past cases involving sexual abuse allegations against priests(link is external), although a report has cleared him of wrongdoing, but made clear he has no intention of resigning. Cardinal Rainer Maria Woelki was speaking after the release last week of a report he commissioned on church officials’ response to past abuse allegations. The findings have prompted the current archbishop of Hamburg to offer his resignation to Pope Francis, while three Cologne church officials, including two auxiliary bishops, were suspended.” By Associated Press

POPE FRANCIS

Francis says the Church is ‘never wrong’ when it listens to the faithful
“An estimated 100,000 Argentines sent messages to Pope Francis March 13, sharing their opinions regarding the first eight years of his pontificate, and he responded with a video made public Thursday (Apr. 1), arguing that the Church is ‘never wrong’ when listening to the ‘holy faithful people of God(link is external).’ ‘In theological terms, they call it synodality,’ Francis said. ‘It might have many names, but it’s the holy faithful people of God that carries the faith forward and in its own dialect.’” By Inés San Martín, Cruxnow.com

CARDINALS

Leading cardinals feel push toward schism
“The Vatican is now in crisis management mode with German bishops. In January, two Vatican cardinals wanted to summon the president of the German bishops’ conference to Rome and correct him about a media interview in which he expressed his dissent from Church teaching in a number of areas. Such a meeting, which some believe should have been used to give the Vatican’s formal opposition to the Synodal Path, never happened and now the German bishops are blazing ahead unfettered, drawing grave concerns of possible schism(link is external).” By Edward Pentin, National Catholic Register

Brazilian cardinal accused of downplaying priest’s alleged abuse of teen
“When he was 17-year-old, Elissandro Nazare de Siqueira was trying to make a living for himself in São Paulo when he met Father Bartolomeu da Silva Paz, a priest known for his lively Masses and his charitable enterprises … At first, he saw Paz as a savior, since the priest found him a small room in the house of one of his parishioners, and he became the handyman of the parish of Nossa Senhora de Monte Serrat. Yet soon Siqueira claims an abusive relationship began: He said that in a secluded house owned by the parish, the priest got him drunk and raped him(link is external).” By Inés San Martín, Cruxnow.com

BISHOPS

Pope grants German archbishop faulted over abuse ‘time out’
“Pope Francis has granted a ‘time out’ to a German archbishop who offered his resignation after being faulted for his handling of allegations of sexual abuse(link is external) in his previous diocese, church authorities said Monday (Mar. 29). Hamburg Archbishop Stefan Hesse’s offer on March 18 followed the release of a report commissioned by his counterpart in Cologne which found 75 cases in which high-ranking officials neglected their duties in such cases. They were criticized, for example, for failing to follow up on or report cases of abuse, not sanctioning perpetrators or not caring for victims.” By Associated Press

Italian bishops plan synodal path to overcome ‘stale’ structures
“This week the Italian bishops set to work on the initial preparations of their upcoming ‘synodal journey,’ which was explicitly asked for by Pope Francis. At the close of their spring plenary assembly, the Italian Bishops Conference (CEI) said the coronavirus pandemic is an ideal time to hold their own national synod, assessing not only the challenges the country faces in the current crisis, but the state of the Church. ‘For the bishops, it is time to abandon those superstructures known to be stale and repetitive(link is external) … sometimes breaking with, or, in any case, not in line with the ‘it’s always been done like this’ mentality,’ read a March 25 communique issued by the bishops at the close of their assembly.” By Elise Ann Allen, Cruxnow.com

WOMEN’S VOICES

‘Synodality’ and women’s empowerment go together, leading sisters say
“Over the eight-plus years of the Francis papacy, perhaps no single term has captured the essence of this maverick pope’s vision better than ‘synodality.’ The only thing about the word more striking than the frequency of its use, perhaps, is the near-impossibility of specifying exactly what it means. A Vatican official, and a woman much-cited recently as proof of Pope Francis’s commitment to hearing the voices of women, now says whatever the precise definition of ‘synodality,’ in practice it implies an almost Copernican shift in perspective and operating style(link is external).” By Elise Ann Allen, Cruxnow

Priests and lay women work together every day. The church is finally starting to train them together, too.
“Integrated formation models—which most often take the form of men preparing for the priesthood sharing classrooms and even degree programs with men and women pursuing vocations in lay ministry—are one way to foster such encounters. Part of the larger trend of greater lay involvement and leadership in the church following the Second Vatican Council(link is external), such programming is not new in the United States.” By America: The Jesuit Review

LAITY & THE CHURCH

Some church things shouldn’t return to ‘normal’ after the pandemic
“When it comes to our communal ecclesial life, I think a major lesson of the pandemic has been that more involvement and leadership on the part of the laity and non-ordained ministers is an absolute necessity(link is external). I have participated in several dozen Zoom liturgies — some Eucharistic celebrations streamed live, others centered on the celebration of the Word that allowed for greater inclusion in who presided or preached — and each of them was spiritually nourishing in its own right. I know many others who have likewise “shopped” around online, sampling the liturgical life of communities physically distanced but spiritually united, and it was life giving.” By Daniel P. Horan, National Catholic Reporter

CHURCH REFORM

Former Priest Calls to Reform the Catholic Church
“The battle to reform the Catholic Church has been plagued by a long-running sexual abuse crisis. Author, historian and journalist James Carroll argues that male dominance is the root cause of the church’s issues(link is external). His new memoir, “The Truth at the Heart of the Lie,” links his own crisis of faith as a priest to the history of the church itself. He joins Michel Martin to discuss his call for reform.” James Carroll on Amanpour & Co., PBSLocal.com

CHURCH FINANCES

Further measures needed to combat financial crime at Vatican, pope says
“Signaling further reforms of the Vatican City State penal code, particularly when it comes to financial crimes(link is external), Pope Francis said the laws must reflect ‘the equality of all members of the church’ by doing away with ‘privileges that go back in time and are no longer in keeping with the responsibility of each for building up of the church.’ Meeting March 27 with the judges, prosecutors, investigators and other members of the Vatican’s state tribunal, the pope also encouraged efforts to facilitate international cooperation in investigations to ensure an accurate exchange of information in a timely manner.” By Catholic News Service in The Catholic Sun

British judge: Vatican made ‘appalling’ claims in UK probe
“A British judge has blasted Vatican prosecutors for making ‘appalling’ misrepresentations to the court about their investigation into the Holy See’s investment in a London real estate deal(link is external), determining they don’t have much of a case against their key suspect. In a remarkable ruling made public this week, Judge Tony Baumgartner of Southwark Crown Court reversed another judge’s decision to seize the British-based bank accounts of broker Gianluigi Torzi and awarded Torzi legal fees.” By Nicole Winfield, Associated Press

FUTURE OF THE CHURCH

The Church’s demagogues: Can synodality rebalance the charismatic celebrities?
“Pope Francis’ push for synodality inside the Church coincides chronologically with the rise of populist leaders and the crisis of democracy on the outside(link is external). Synodality, therefore, has an ad extra dimension. It is an ecclesial response to populist leaders who ‘hijack’ religion by sowing division and exploiting the anger of those who feel excluded, as Vatican Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle noted recently. Of course, synodality has specific ad intra dimensions, too. In an interesting article published a few months ago in Vida Nueva, Spanish Jesuit Alejandro Labajos pointed out that, according to the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, four percent of these religious communities had undergone an apostolic visitation (basically a Vatican investigation).” By Massimo Faggioli, La Croix International, in National Catholic Reporter

Catholic Church facing biggest mass walkout since child sex abuse scandal, priest claims
“James Martin, a priest who advocates for LGBT+ inclusion within the Catholic Church, made his comments after the Vatican released an explanatory note insisting that clergy must not bless same-sex unions because God ‘cannot bless sin.’ ‘Not since the anger over sex abuse in 2002 and 2018 have I seen so many people so demoralized, and ready to leave the church(link is external), as I have this week,’ Martin wrote. He added: ‘And not simply LGBT+ people, but their families and friends, a large part of the church.’” By Patrick Kelleher, YahooNews.com

VOICES

Critics charge German ‘synodal path’ exploits suffering of abuse victims
“Many of those taking part in the process believe it will bring reform and help restore credibility in the Catholic Church, particularly seeing that according to a poll by German Catholic news agency KNA, the over 200,000 people who left the Church between 2018 and 2019 did so motivated primarily by the abuse scandals. In addition, a recent survey showed almost 30 percent of the German Catholics are now considering leaving the Church. However, some believe that the Synodal Path is a wolf in sheep’s clothing. In reality, they charge, the purpose of the Synodal Path is not to bring the sexual abuse crisis to a close, but to use the actual crisis to justify profound changes in the Church(link is external), concerning Catholic teaching, identity, and tradition.” By Inés San Martín, Cruxnow.com

STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS

Bill would eliminate statute of limitations for civil claims of childhood physical abuse
“Proposed legislation would eliminate the statute of limitations in Vermont for a victim of childhood physical abuse(link is external) to bring a civil action against those responsible. The bill, S.99, which was presented Friday before the Senate Judiciary Committee, follows legislation enacted two years ago that repealed the statute of limitations for victims of sexual abuse to bring civil lawsuits. Both pieces of legislation also come in light of claims of physical and sexual abuse decades ago at the Vermont Catholic Diocese’s former St. Joseph’s Orphanage in Burlington.” By Alan J. Keays, VTDigger.org

Church, insurers oppose new effort to extend deadline for sex-abuse lawsuits
“The Rhode Island Catholic church and the state’s insurance lobby are once again leading the charge against legislative efforts to extend the deadline for lawsuits by victims of childhood sex abuse(link is external). This year, the effort focuses on removing a barrier to the filing of lawsuits against people and institutions who enabled and protected abusers by looking the other way or concealing their crimes. On Wednesday (Mar. 24) night, one speaker after another recounted for the House Judiciary Committee the number of churches their abusers worked before and after, they said, their childhoods were taken away from them.” By Katherine Gregg, The Providence Journal

Child sex abuse lawsuit ‘window’ amendment clears Pa. House
“Pennsylvania lawmakers on Wednesday (Mar. 24) finished a new first round of approvals for a constitutional amendment giving victims of child sexual abuse the power to file what would otherwise be outdated claims(link is external), but it will be 2023 at the earliest before it takes effect. The House voted 188 to 13 to approve the proposed constitutional amendment, which must pass both chambers in two consecutive two-year legislative sessions before going before voters as a referendum.” By Mark Scolforo, Cruxnow.com

Stop the bickering: Pennsylvania lawmakers must help victims of clergy sex abuse
“Lawmakers are scrambling to resurrect a proposed amendment to the state Constitution that would open a two-year window for victims of childhood sexual abuse(link is external) to retroactively sue their attackers, along with organizations that covered up the abuse, such as the Catholic church. The effort was driven by a scathing 2018 grand jury report. It disclosed accusations of more than 1,000 Pennsylvania children being sexually abused by hundreds of priests over seven decades.” By Paul Muschick, The Morning Call

CLERGY SEXUAL ABUSE

Journalists accuse Cologne archdiocese of violating freedom of the press
“The German Journalists’ Association (DJV) and the Association of German Catholic Publicists (GKP) have sharply criticized the Cologne archdiocese’s stipulations for journalists who want to read the first abuse report(link is external). On 25 March, under strict stipulations, the archdiocese allowed a first select group of ten journalists to inspect the Munich law firm’s report, which Cardinal Rainer Maria Woelki commissioned but refused to publish.” By Christa Pongratz-Lippitt, The Tablet

Legionaries of Christ publish latest abuse report for the congregation
“On Monday (Mar. 22), the scandal-plagued Legionaries of Christ religious order published its latest report detailing what they have done and what they still need to do to repair the damage done and guarantee safe spaces for minors(link is external), from third-party investigations to mandatory formation seminars and revealing the names of priests found guilty of abuse. The religious congregation continues to claim it is cleaning house, after a report released last year showed that the late Father Marcial Maciel Degolaldo, founder of the Legionaries, was far from being the only abusive priest in the movement.” By Inés San Martín, Cruxnow.com

ARIZONA

Lawsuit accuses Tucson priests of sexually abusing minors decades ago in southern Arizona
“A third victim has come forward in a federal lawsuit accusing Catholic priests of sexual abuse of minors across southern Arizona(link is external) in the 1970s and 1980s. Initially filed in December, the lawsuit claims that the Tucson Diocese and Los Angeles Archdiocese covered up abuse and moved priests around instead of reporting them to law enforcement.” By Audrey Jensen, Arizona Republic

ILLINOIS

Amid ongoing investigation, Chicago priest says he will ‘seek other ways and opportunities’ to work in the community
“The Rev. Michael Pfleger intends to find other ways to work in the Auburn Gresham community as the Chicago Archdiocese continues to investigate allegations that he molested two brothers(link is external) in the 1970s, Pfleger wrote in a recent letter to the community. ‘I know that I cannot emotionally or spiritually continue to remain isolated in an apartment waiting for this board to do its job,’ Pfleger, the pastor at St. Sabina Church, wrote. ‘While I hope and pray that the Review Board will work a little harder and more promptly to conclude their investigation, I will no longer wait in silence.’” By Sarah Freishtat and Christy Gutowski, Chicago Tribune

LOUISIANA

Slidell priest charged with molesting a juvenile
“Patrick Wattigny, a former priest at a Slidell church, has been formally charged with molestation of juvenile(link is external), District Attorney Warren Montgomery announced on Thursday, March 18. Wattigny, 63, the former pastor of St. Luke the Evangelist Catholic Church and chaplain at Pope John Paul II High School, both in Slidell, is accused of molesting a teenager, then 15, between June 1, 2013, and August 31, 2014. Wattigny was arrested in October of 2020.” By Mykal Vincent, Fox-TV News

MICHIGAN

Catholic Diocese of Saginaw removes priest from list of clergy accused of sexual misconduct
“The Catholic Diocese of Saginaw is no longer featuring the name of a local priest on its website’s list of clergy who have been credibly accused of sexually abusing a minor(link is external). Bishop Robert D. Gruss on Friday, March 26, announced he had removed the Rev. Dennis H. Kucharczyk’s name from subsection of the diocesan website titled ‘Names of Clergy Accused of Sexual Abuse of a Minor.’ The page lists 26 other names.” By Cole Waterman, MLive.com

Brighton-Area Priest Under Investigation By Michigan AG
“A priest at a Brighton-area church has been placed on leave pending the outcome of an investigation(link is external) by the Michigan Office of the Attorney General. In an email to parishioners Friday (Mar. 19), it was announced that Bishop Earl Boyea of Lansing had placed the Reverend Shaun Lowery, Pastor of St. Mary Magdalen Church in Brighton Township, on ministerial leave. The Diocese of Lansing says they are fully cooperating with the Attorney General’s investigation.” By Jon King, WHMI-FM Radio News

MISSISSIPPI

Catholic sex abuse claim: State Supreme Court hears oral arguments in Hattiesburg case
“A Forrest County judge erred when he dismissed a case of alleged sexual abuse by a Catholic priest(link is external), one attorney argued Tuesday (Mar. 30) before a three-judge panel of the Mississippi Supreme Court. Attorney John Hawkins said state law provides for a case to proceed if it was brought within three years of the discovery of an injury even if the statute of limitations for when the crime occurred had already expired. Hawkins is representing Robert McGowen, who claims he was sexually abused by former Sacred Heart Catholic Church priest Father John Scanlon in 1984 and 1985, when McGowen was 12 and 13 years old.” By Lici Beveridge, Hattiesburg American

MISSOURI

Vatican defrocked former KC priest over sexual abuse claims four days before he died
“Four days before Michael Tierney died, the Vatican confirmed a decision to defrock the former Kansas City-area priest after finding him guilty of sexually abusing minors(link is external). Bishop James V. Johnston Jr. has been notified that an appeal by Tierney to reverse the penalty of dismissal from the priesthood was resolved on Dec. 11, the Catholic Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph announced on its website this month. Tierney died on Dec. 15 at age 76.” By Judy L. Thomas, The Kansas City Star

NEW MEXICO

Clergy abuse bankruptcy moves toward resolution
“Archbishop of Santa Fe John C. Wester is living out of two rooms at an Albuquerque parish these days, his formal diocesan home sold to help pay for the sins of his predecessors and the damage done by priests and other clergy members who molested children(link is external). The archdiocese reported selling the four-bedroom, tri-level house near its Catholic Center on Albuquerque’s West Side for about $425,000 as part of a stepped up liquidation of assets in its ongoing Chapter 13 bankruptcy reorganization, which appears closer than ever to settlement.” By Colleen Heild, Albuquerque Journal

NEW YORK.

Long Island’s Catholic Diocese sells headquarters for $5.2M amid bankruptcy
“The Roman Catholic Diocese of Rockville Centre has sold its headquarters for $5.2 million in a move that was approved by U.S. Bankruptcy Court, church officials said Friday (Mar. 26) … The diocese, home to 1.4 million Catholics in the Long Island region, declared bankruptcy in October as it faced more than 200 lawsuits under New York State’s Child Victims Act(link is external). It became the largest diocese in the United States to declare bankruptcy.” By Bart Jones, Newsday

Newly filed lawsuit alleges abuse by former Albany Bishop Howard Hubbard
“Howard Hubbard, the former Bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Albany, was accused of sexual abuse in a Child Victims Act lawsuit filed last week — the seventh such action containing allegations against him(link is external). The lawsuit was filed anonymously on a male plaintiff’s behalf by Herman Law, a large firm that specializes in abuse cases. The defendants are the Diocese of Albany and St. Edward the Confessor Roman Catholic Church in Clifton Park. The complaint alleges that in 1977 — the year Hubbard was appointed bishop — he approached an 11-year-old boy at a carnival put on by St. Edward the Confessor, told the boy to accompany him to the rectory and molested him there.” By Edward McKinley, Albany Times-Union

PENNSYLVANIA

Catholic priest who groped girl, sent her nude photos deserves to do penance in prison, Pa. court says
“A Roman Catholic priest who groped a teenage girl and sent her nude photos and a video of himself(link is external) wasn’t punished too harshly with a 1- to 2-year prison sentence, a state Superior Court panel has decided. That ruling, outlined in an opinion by Judge Megan King, comes little more than a year after Lehigh County Judge Maria Dantos told Father Kevin Lonergan, ‘You have made families feel that church is no longer a safe place.’” By Matt Miller, PennLive.com

AUSTRALIA

Catholic priest accused of sexually abusing a schoolboy almost 50 years ago told police the teenager had the ‘wrong bloke’, court hears
“A former Catholic priest accused of sexually abusing a schoolboy at a remote parish(link is external) almost 50 years ago told police the teenager had the ‘wrong bloke’, a court has heard. Neville Joseph Creen, 80, denies indecently abusing the teenager in Mount Isa, northwest Queensland, where he served as a priest in the 1970s. Asked about the allegations in 2018, Creen told officers he had ‘never, ever touched the boy’, calling it a ‘gross injustice’ that he had been accused.” By Australian Associated Press in Daily Mail

CANADA

St. John’s, N.L., diocese to sell property to settle Mount Cashel abuse claims
“Roman Catholic parishes in the St. John’s area will be undergoing significant restructuring in the months ahead as the archdiocese works to resolve the harm caused to victims of abuse(link is external) at Mount Cashel orphanage, parishioners learned on the weekend. ‘Over the coming weeks you may expect to see some properties listed on the real estate market,’ read an email update from St. John’s Archbishop Peter Hundt.” By Staff, The Canadian Press

EAST TIMOR

Trial of ex-priest accused of child abuse in Timor postponed to May
“The trial of a former US priest accused of child abuse in Timor-Leste(link is external) due to resume tomorrow at the Oecusse Court has been postponed until May 24, according to judicial sources. The president of the Court of Appeal, Deolindo dos Santos, confirmed the postponement to Lusa news agency, explaining that he was asked by the lawyers for the defendant, Richard Daschbach. He was concerned with the current conditions due to the covid-19 sanitary lockdown in the Timorese capital.” By Asia Pacific Report

FRANCE

French Catholic Church to propose ‘financial contribution’ to child sex victims
“The French Catholic Church will offer a ‘financial contribution’ to the thousands of victims of child sex abuse by priests(link is external) since the 1950s, bishops have agreed. The Church wants to “recognise its responsibility to society by asking forgiveness for these crimes and shortcomings,” the bishops announced after a gathering in the southern city of Lourdes. The Bishops’ Conference of France agreed in November 2018 to set up an investigative commission after huge and repeated child abuse scandals shook the Catholic Church at home and abroad.” By Michael Fitzpsatrick, RFI.fr

IRELAND & NORTHERN IRELAND

Former Archbishop of Armagh Cardinal Sean Brady’s ‘pain’ over role in pervert priest inquiry
“Former Archbishop of Armagh Cardinal Sean Brady has expressed his ‘sadness’ and ‘pain’ over his role in an internal Church inquiry into pedophile priest Brendan Smyth, which involved swearing a 14-year-old victim to secrecy(link is external). Cardinal Brady said he was ‘too focused’ on getting a statement from the boy and acknowledged it was a ‘horrendous’ situation for the child. In a new book about Catholicism in Ireland Cardinal Brady told author Derek Scally: ‘Hauled into a room with three fellows there, his father wasn’t there, it was horrendous, really. That is only dawning on me now, really… his double victimization.’” By Maeve Sheehan, Belfast Telegaph

NEW ZEALAND

Catholic priest sexually abuses school boy, tells God would punish him if he told anyone about abuse
“A priest from a prestigious Auckland school in New Zealand is accused of sexually assaulting a boy inside the school’s Chapel(link is external). The Priest later instilled fear in the mind of the boy by saying that God would punish him if he told anyone else about the abuse. Father John Goodwin, who is now at the King’s School, has been ‘sent on leave’ by the school authorities after allegations of sexual abuse surfaced and now faces a police enquiry into the matter.” By Vinod D’Souza, International Business Times

New Zealand’s Catholic Church apologizes to survivors of abuse
“New Zealand’s Catholic Church formally apologized on Friday (Mar. 26) to the survivors of abuse within the church and said its systems and culture must change(link is external). Cardinal John Dew, who is the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Wellington and Metropolitan of New Zealand, made the apology at the Royal Commission into Abuse in Care on behalf of the bishops and congregational leaders in New Zealand. ‘Today, recognising the importance of this moment, I apologize to you, on behalf of the bishops and congregational leaders of the Catholic Church in Aotearoa New Zealand,’ said Cardinal Dew, who is also the president of the New Zealand Catholic Bishops Conference.” By Reuters

Catholic Church structure to blame for abuse in care, priest tells inquiry
A theologian has pointed the blame directly at the hierarchy and structure of the Catholic Church for abuse by priests(link is external). Dr. Tom Doyle, who is a priest, canon lawyer and addictions therapist, has given evidence to the Royal Commission into Abuse in Care in Auckland. He said the so-called mystic aura of a priest had given him super human status. Dr. Doyle, who beamed in via an audio visual link from the United States, told the inquiry priests suffered from what he called clerical narcissism.” By Andrew McRae, Radio New Zealand

Catholic Church on abuse: ‘We are ashamed and saddened’
“The Catholic Church says it’s shamed and saddened by abuse in the church(link is external). The church opened its evidence on its handling of complaints at the Inquiry into abuse in care on Monday (Mar. 22). It said its response to redress has at times been ahead of Vatican guidelines. The number of cases of abuse within the Catholic Church in New Zealand is in excess of 1100, but the Royal Commission said that is just a preliminary figure. Counsel for the Commission Katherine Anderson said failure in record keeping from the 1950s impacts on the accuracy of the figures. Cardinal John Dew told the Commission the church was saddened and ashamed by what has happened.” By Andrew McRae, Radio New Zealand, on Stuff.co.nz

POLAND

Poland: 4 churchmen allegedly didn’t report sex abuse claims
“Polish prosecutors say they have received allegations that four senior churchmen broke the law by failing to report a complaint that a priest allegedly sexually abused a minor(link is external). National Prosecutor’s Office spokeswoman Ewa Bialik confirmed to The Associated Press Wednesday (Mar. 17) that the formal notification was received this month from a new state commission that reviews whether reports of pedophilia should be reported to prosecutors.” By Associated Press

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Voice of the Faithful Focus News Roundup

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March 22, 2021

TOP STORIES

Cardinal Tobin joins Cupich on Vatican’s influential Congregation for Bishops
“On March 4, Pope Francis named Cardinal Joseph Tobin of Newark, New Jersey, as a member of the Vatican’s Congregation for Bishops(link is external), making him the second American now serving on the group tasked with advising the pontiff on which Catholic priests to appoint as bishops across the world. Tobin effectively replaces retired Washington Cardinal Donald Wuerl, whose appointment to the congregation ended in November on Wuerl’s 80th birthday. Tobin now joins Chicago Cardinal Blase Cupich, whom Francis appointed to the group in 2016.” By Joshua J. McElwee, National Catholic Reporter

The Vatican is pushing forward on synodality; the U.S. Bishops should follow suit
“Pope Francis’ appointment of Xavière Sister Nathalie Becquart and now-bishop-elect Luis Marín de San Martín to the Vatican’s Synod of Bishops is only the latest step in his efforts to push the global church toward a synodal model of leadership(link is external). That is, a model in which bishops and lay people speak freely together about the issues affecting them and where they believe the Spirit is calling them, and, through discussion and voting, reach decisions together.” By Colleen Dulle, SacredHeartUniversity.typepad.com

Cologne diocese abuse scandal: Investigators identify suspects
“A German law firm published an independent report Thursday (Mar. 18) following accusations of efforts to cover up sexual violence in Germany’s most powerful Roman Catholic diocese, Cologne. The report identified around 243 abusers of minors — priests or laypeople working for the church — and at least 386 victims between 1946 and 2018, but some of these did not fall under the jurisdiction of the Cologne diocese. Some 55% of cases referred to children under the age of 14 and around half dealt with sexual violence. The rest of the cases had to do with verbal or physical abuse. Almost two-thirds of abuses were carried out by members of the clergy, the rest by laypeople. The report also indicated a clear rise in reported abuse between 2004 and 2018.” By Deutsche Welle

‘It’s not just lip service’: Jesuits announce new commission on the role of women in the order
“On March 8—International Women’s Day—Arturo Sosa, S.J., the superior general of the Jesuits, announced the creation of the Commission on the Role and Responsibilities of Women in the Society of Jesus(link is external). Father Sosa explained in a statement that the commission is the next step in the Society’s efforts to more fully include and collaborate with women, following previous decrees from General Congregations. A task force assembled by Father Sosa in 2020 also recommended the formation of a commission of this nature. The Commission on the Role and Responsibilities of Women in the Society of Jesus is made up of 10 members: six women, three Jesuits and one lay man.” By Molly Cahill, America: The Jesuit Review

ACCOUNTABILITY

Retired Buffalo bishops must pay for lawyers in defending against AG’s lawsuit
“Two retired bishops from the Buffalo Diocese will have to pay for their own defense against a state Attorney General’s Office lawsuit that accuses them of protecting priests accused of child sex abuse(link is external). “U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Carl L. Bucki rejected the diocese’s request to retain a Buffalo law firm to represent retired Bishop Richard J. Malone and retired Auxiliary Bishop Edward M. Grosz, both of whom are individually named, along with the diocese, in a lawsuit brought by Attorney General Letitia James in November. In a ruling late Tuesday (Mar. 2), Bucki said the diocese has “no obligation” to retain the Lippes Mathias Wexler Friedman law firm on behalf of the two bishops, who retired prior to the diocese’s Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing in 2020.” By Jay Tokasz, The Buffalo News

Washington account of $2m Cardinal Wuerl fund raises transparency questions
“The Archdiocese of Washington on Thursday (Mar. 4) said that more than $2 million allocated for the ‘continuing ministry activities’ of emeritus archbishop Cardinal Donald Wuerl was given by donors to cover Wuerl’s living and travel expenses, and to allow the cardinal to give charitable gifts at his discretion. But while the archdiocese now says the money was given by donors for the express purpose of funding Wuerl’s ‘expenses and ministerial needs,’ its audited financial statements tell a different story, stating the archdiocese designated $2 million of its own ‘net assets without donor restrictions’ for Wuerl’s use(link is external).” By The Pillar, on PillarCatholic.com

Panelists call for reckoning on abuse of Native American children at Catholic boarding schools
“In its attempts to address sex abuse crises, the Catholic Church has issued apologies, conducted investigations and paid reparations, but the Vatican has never publicly apologized for abuse inflicted on Indigenous Americans at Catholic-run boarding schools(link is external) in the United States and Canada in the 19th and 20th centuries, according to presenters at a Feb. 25 online panel event, ‘Native American Communities and the Clerical Abuse Crisis,’ hosted by Fordham University’s Taking Responsibility project.” By Lucy Grindon, National Catholic Reporter

CARDINALS

Pressure eases on Cardinal Woelki
“German bishops have backtracked after sharp criticism of the turmoil in the archdiocese of Cologne in recent weeks caused by Cardinal Rainer Maria Woelki’s decision not to publish the abuse report he had commissioned(link is external). At their plenary in the last week of February, they publicly emphasised that they were all responsible for the situation of the German Church. ‘A number of things in the Cologne archdiocese certainly need clearing up, but it would be all too hasty a conclusion to put the focus solely on the Archbishop of Cologne,’ conference president, Bishop Georg Bätzing of Limburg, underlined in his final report after the online plenary.” By Christa Pongratz-Lippitt, The Tablet

BISHOPS

German bishop orders new look at US claims against Schonstatt founder
“Bishop Stephan Ackermann of Trier has ordered a reexamination of abuse allegations against Fr. Joseph Kentenich(link is external), the founder of the international Schonstatt movement, from his time in exile in the U.S. The German Catholic news agency KNA reported Ackermann referred to allegations made by an American man who accused Kentenich of sexually abusing him between 1958 and 1962. The bishop told the diocesan newspaper Paulinus that the accusations had been examined at the time, but that such suspected cases were treated differently today.” By Catholic News Service in National Catholic Reporter

Top German bishop laments ‘scandalous’ image of church
“The head of the German Bishops’ Conference said Thursday (Mar. 4) that the country’s Roman Catholic church is suffering from a ‘scandalous image’ amid mounting anger over the Cologne archbishop’s handling of a report on past sexual abuse by clergy(link is external), but he defended its overall record in addressing the issue. The Cologne archbishop, Cardinal Rainer Maria Woelki, faces discontent after keeping under wraps for months a study he commissioned on how local church officials reacted when priests were accused of sexual abuse.” By Associated Press

WOMEN’S VOICES

Dear Pope Francis: Thank you for 8 years of challenging and healing the church. But women still deserve more.
“Dear Pope Francis, I remember that last year you personally recommended us to be brave like Mary Magdalene even when addressing the Pope. That is why I allow myself to tell you, with all respect, trust and affection, that as a woman I feel that something is owed to us(link is external). You fight against machismo and clericalism, but I think that not enough progress has been made in taking advantage of the wealth of women who make up a large part of the People of God.” By María Lía Zervino, America: The Jesuit Review

Ambassador: Progress for women leaders at Vatican
“International Women’s Day was celebrated yesterday (Mar. 8) with the global theme ‘Women in leadership: achieving an equal future in a COVID-19 world.’ In terms of the Church, Pope Francis is making small but significant steps towards greater inclusion of women in decision making and leadership(link is external). He has amended Canon Law so that women may be officially recognized as exercising the ministries of Lector and Acolyte. And he has appointed a woman as Under-Secretary to the Synod of Bishops – with the right to vote. Chiara Porro, the Australian Ambassador to the Holy See has told Vatican News that Pope Francis is an active promotor of gender equality:” By CathNews.com

Mary Grace Gallagher: Man shares why Maryland should end statute of limitations on child abuse claims
“It is a paradox of ‘social movements’ that they rely on lone voices, sharing stories of impact and pain. Whether chanting ‘Me Too’ or ‘Black Lives Matter,’ it is easy to stand in a crowd and demand change and much harder to stand alone, as one Bowie resident did last month, when he shared with strangers the most horrifying and vulnerable experience of his(link is external) life in a recorded Zoom session for the Maryland General Assembly. The legislators tuning into the hearing had been given a 200-page stack of testimony from survivors of childhood sexual abuse, all of it urging them to strengthen a law called the Hidden Predator Act that had passed with great fanfare in 2017.” Commentary by Mary Grace Gallagher, Capital Gazette

Catholic women invited to national consultation
“Catholic women are being invited to participate in a national consultation with two bishops later this month and to mark their diaries for a national gathering in September. The national consultation, which will take place on 27 March via Zoom, invites women to articulate and celebrate their contribution to and vision for the mission of the Catholic Church in Australia(link is external). Bishop Michael Morrissey, the Bishop Delegate for Women, said he is looking forward to hearing from Catholic women from across the country.” By Catholic Outlook

VATICAN

Ex-Vatican altar boy testifies in seminary sex abuse trial
“A former Vatican altar boy has testified that an older seminarian would come into his bed at night to perform a sexual act on him(link is external) in the Vatican’s youth seminary, saying his initial shock gave way to resignation because he feared being sent home. Accuser L.G. testified for the first time Wednesday (Mar. 17) in the Vatican’s criminal courtroom, in the first-ever case to go to trial alleging sexual abuse within the Vatican walls — among the altar boys who serve at papal Masses in St. Peter’s Basilica. The Rev. Gabriele Martinelli is accused of abusing his authority as a more senior seminarian to force L.G. into ‘carnal acts’ of sodomy and masturbation, using violence and threats, from 2007-2012.” By Nicole Winfield, Associated Press

The Vatican restricts Traditional Latin Mass and suppresses private Masses at St. Peter’s Basilica
“The Vatican’s Secretariat of State has issued an instruction regarding the celebration of Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica, suppressing Masses said by a priest by himself, and restricting the celebration of the extraordinary form of Mass in the Latin rite to one altar(link is external) in the crypt of the basilica. The instruction comes from the First Section of the Secretariat of State, which deals with the general affairs of the church and is headed by Venezuelan-born Archbishop Peña Parra. He is the third-highest ranking official in the Roman Curia and is known as the “substitute” (or chief of staff).” By Gerard O’Connell, America: The Jesuit Review

Curial speculation follows papal meetings with bishops
“Sources have told CNA that Pope Francis may choose two US-born prelates as prefects of congregations in the Roman Curia.(link is external) The two are Blase Cardinal Cupich, Archbishop of Chicago, and Bishop Robert Prevost of Chiclayo. Pope Francis had a private audience with Cardinal Cupich Jan. 30, while he met Bishop Prevost March 1. The two audiences may be part of a series of meetings Pope Francis has in view of a general reshuffle of the top Curia officials. After the retirement of Robert Cardinal Sarah as prefect of the Congregation for the Divine Worship and the Discipline of Sacraments, there are five congregations whose prefects have already reached and surpassed the retirement age of 75.” By Andrea Gagliarducci, Catholic News Agency

CHURCH FINANCES

Celebrity priest creates financial storm at Long Island parish
“The gist of a meeting on a late February weeknight at St. Joseph Parish in Babylon, New York, is probably familiar to many Catholic churches across the country, as Fr. Jason Grisafi, the pastor, discussed how St. Joseph could meet its expenses in light of steadily declining contributions, a drop exacerbated during the last year by COVID-19. The meeting, however, was remarkable, given St. Joseph’s recent history(link is external). For one, it was livestreamed and a video of it was posted on the parish’s website, which also contained St. Joseph’s latest financial report. That transparency stands in stark contrast to the alleged opacity that marked the tenure of the previous pastor, Fr. Charles Mangano, who has moved on to a new assignment but has left behind unanswered questions about his financial stewardship at St. Joseph.” By Mark Nacinovich, National Catholic Reporter

Pope Francis signs off on Vatican budget with a multimillion-dollar deficit
“The Holy See’s budget for 2021 is significantly different from those of previous years both because of the financial difficulties related to the Covid-19 pandemic and the new methodology involved in its preparation—a ‘zero-based budget’—that sought to ensure maximum accountability. It envisages a deficit of $59 million (U.S. dollars), but the deficit would have been $95 million if the Peter’s Pence donations had not been included as income(link is external).” By Gerard O’Connell, America: The Jesuit Review

CHILD PROTECTION

Poland’s Catholic bishops work with religious orders to strengthen child protection system
“Poland’s Catholic bishops strengthened their child protection system(link is external) on Thursday (Mar. 11) with an agreement with the country’s male religious orders. During the bishops’ plenary meeting in Warsaw on March 11, Archbishop Stanisław Gądecki and Fr. Janusz Sok, C.Ss.R., signed a declaration committing men’s religious orders to cooperation with the St. Joseph Foundation, which the bishops established in 2019 to support abuse survivors.” By Catholic News Service

FUTURE OF THE CHURCH

German Catholics and Protestants Pursue Intercommunion Despite Vatican Objections
Catholics and Protestants in Germany announced on Tuesday (Mar. 16) that they would press ahead with intercommunion at an event in May despite Vatican objections(link is external). In a March 16 press release, organizers of the third Ecumenical Church Congress (ÖKT) in Frankfurt said that they planned to invite Christians to attend celebrations ‘in many churches’ in the city and across Germany on May 15. According to CNA Deutsch, CNA’s German-language news partner, they said: ‘Christians of all denominations have the opportunity on this evening to come and enter, to get to know different traditions and — following their own conscience — to celebrate the living memory of Jesus Christ.’” By Catholic News Agency in National Catholic Register

VOICES

Honor the ‘mothers’ of early Christianity during Women’s History Month
“Women’s History Month is a great time to celebrate the ‘mothers’ of our Christian church. Until recently, few realized that early female believers shaped our church’s future no less than their better-known brothers (aka the ‘fathers of the church’(link is external)). On Feb. 14, 2007, Pope Benedict XVI made the rather remarkable statement that ‘without the generous contribution of many women, the history of Christianity would have developed very differently,’ and that the female presence was not ‘in any way secondary.’ Some early church mothers are relatively well-known while others are all but forgotten. Early writings and funerary inscriptions testify that women served as prophets, evangelists, missionaries, teachers, deacons, presbyters, enrolled widows, and heads of house churches and monasteries.” By Christine Schenk, National Catholic Reporter

How Big Money Is Dividing American Catholicism
“A schism in the faith between liberals and conservatives is being exacerbated by a group of plutocrats. The hardening schism in American Catholicism is shaping up to be a test of the influence of liberal Catholicism and the liberal left more broadly(link is external). It pits a loosely organized cultural and theological movement against a well-oiled and well-funded political movement on the right—the latter a testament to conservative Catholicism’s commitment to a politics of money and power.” By Katherine Stewart, The New Republic

STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS

Catholic group opposes Colorado bill that would give child sex abuse survivors the ability to sue their abuser at any time
“For decades, survivors of childhood sexual abuse and their advocates have urged states to let them hold abusers accountable in civil court, no matter how long it’s been since the abuse. A bipartisan bill in the Colorado Legislature to do just that so far appears to have widespread approval, but it’s not without opposition from the Colorado Catholic Conference — a church embroiled in a sex abuse scandal in Colorado, the U.S. and around the world(link is external). There is no expiration date in Colorado to bring criminal charges against a person accused of child sex abuse, but the statute of limitations to sue an individual is only six years after a victim turns 18. Last year’s effort to change the latter failed.” By Saja Hini, The Denver Post

Lawmakers want to use emergency powers to pass sexual abuse reform. Can they find the votes to pull it off?
“Six weeks after the Wolf administration revealed that a clerical error had derailed a years-long effort to help survivors of child sex abuse, Pennsylvania state lawmakers are invoking a seldom-used legislative power to salvage it. If the plan that lawmakers put in motion on Monday (Mar. 15) succeeds, Pennsylvania voters will be asked during the May 18 primary election to ratify an emergency amendment to the state constitution allowing child sex abuse victims to sue perpetrators in decades-old cases(link is external). If it fails, voters will have to wait at least two years before they can weigh in.” By Stephen Caruso and Elizabeth Hardison, Pennsylvania Capital-Star

CLERGY SEXUAL ABUSE

Cologne Archdiocese awaits potentially explosive report on abuse
“A potentially explosive report about sexual abuse in Germany’s Cologne Archdiocese is set to be released March 18(link is external). The fate of the city’s archbishop, Cardinal Rainer Maria Woelki, could be profoundly affected. He has offered to resign if he is implicated in a cover-up. The upper echelon of the archdiocese will be targeted in the currently secret report, according to Joachim Frank, chief correspondent of the Kölner Stadt-Anzeiger, the city’s largest newspaper.” By Donald Snyder, National Catholic Reporter

This trauma counselor helps heal the wounds of abuse
“It was the early 2000s. The stories of sexual abuse by the Catholic clergy were making headlines everywhere(link is external) and over and over again. Horrifying stories of the abuse perpetrated on children by adults they had been taught to trust. It had happened in parishes across the country, and even those who hadn’t personally experienced that sort of trauma were triggered by the news stories. Sharon Froom, a licensed mental health professional, was witnessing a great deal of emotional turmoil.” By Ann Christenson, U.S. Catholic

Sipe documentary prompts memories of early sex abuse activist
“I watched the documentary, ‘Sipe: Sex, Lies, and the Priesthood,’ with a mix of very powerful emotions: profound admiration and gratitude for all that A.W. Richard Sipe had done and all that he continues to do, and very painful sadness. Richard and I go back to the earliest years of the clergy abuse phenomenon(link is external) … The documentary accurately showed Richard as a loving and gentle person who attracted people to him, especially people who were troubled, precisely because the empathy he shared was real, and because it was real it transcended the barriers of fear so many have when they seek help.” By Thomas P. Doyle, National Catholic Reporter

ILLINOIS

Lapeer teen sues Catholic church and school, claiming a priest raped him 10 years ago
“A former student of Bishop Kelley Catholic School in Lapeer has filed a federal lawsuit, claiming a priest raped him in a teacher’s lounge(link is external) 10 years ago. The student, who was 8 years old at the time, said he attended a one-on-one counseling session in October 2010 with the priest in a teachers lounge. The student claims the priest raped him during the spiritual formation session. The student, who is now 18 years old, says he did not immediately report the assault because the priest allegedly told him that he had “power with the devil” and would have the student’s mother killed if he talked about the incident.” By ABC-TV12 News

3rd man accuses a Chicago activist pries of sexual abuse
“A third man has come forward with sexual abuse allegations against a Chicago priest who has gained widespread acclaim for his activism(link is external), saying he felt he owes it to two brothers who have faced criticism for accusing the priest of abusing them decades ago when they were teens. The 59-year-old man alleges in an affidavit shared late  Mar. 2) with church officials that the Rev. Michael Pfleger once grabbed his crotch over his clothes in the priest’s bedroom area at St. Sabina Church in the summer of 1979 as the then 18-year-old accuser pretended to sleep.” By Associated Press

LOUISIANA

Archdiocese estimates 400 sexual abuse claims filed by March 1 deadline
“Roughly 400 people, who allege that they were sexually preyed upon by local priests and deacons(link is external), went to bankruptcy court and sought compensation from the Archdiocese of New Orleans before last week’s deadline for victims of clerical abuse to file such claims, church officials said Thursday. The announcement provides some clarity about the number and potential value of remaining clerical abuse cases that the archdiocese will have to settle or litigate before it can reorganize its finances, a process that started when the church filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy last May.” By David Hammer, WWL-TV4 News

Metairie deacon arrested on child molestation charges
“An ordained Catholic deacon from Metairie was arrested Monday (Mar. 8) and charged with sexually molesting a 10-11-year-old boy(link is external) two decades ago, Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office confirmed. Virgil Maxey ‘V.M.’ Wheeler III, 62, was booked into Jefferson Parish jail Monday on one count each of sexual battery and indecent behavior with a juvenile, Capt. Jason Rivarde said. Rivarde told The Times-Picayune | New Orleans Advocate that Wheeler is suspected of performing oral sex on the boy in question and showering with him.” By David Hammer, WWL-TV4 News

MISSOURI

Deceased priest added to archdiocese’s list of clergy with substantiated claims of abuse of minors
“The Archdiocese of St. Louis has added the name of a deceased priest to its list of clergy who have had substantiated allegations of sexual abuse of a minor(link is external). Father Vincent Duggan was added to the list of clergy with substantiated allegations of sexual abuse of a minor. Because Father Duggan was accused after his death, his name will be added to that section of the list. The updated list of clergy with substantiated claims of abuse is available online at archstl.org/list. Archbishop Mitchell Rozanski sent a letter to parishes in the archdiocese where Father Duggan had served in ministry, and an announcement will be made in those parish bulletins.” By Archdiocese of St. Louis

NEW MEXICO

Ex-Las Cruces pastor accused of molesting teenage girl in 1970s
“A civil complaint filed in Albuquerque alleges a former Las Cruces Catholic priest sexually abused a teenage girl(link is external) in the 1970s. The Rev. Jesus Goni was a pastor at St. Genevieve’s Catholic Church at the time of the alleged incident. The plaintiff, who is identified as Jane Doe 43 in the lawsuit, accuses Goni of ordering her into his office in approximately May 1970 and inappropriately touching her. She was about 14 years old at the time.” By Leah Romero, Las Cruces Sun-News, in Albuquerque Journal

NEW YORK

Deadline for filing sex abuse claims against Syracuse Catholic Diocese is approaching
“Anyone who wants to file a claim seeking damages for clergy sex abuse against the Roman Catholic Diocese of Syracuse must do so by midnight on April 15(link is external). The diocese issued a reminder of that deadline, known as the “bar date,” in a news release Sunday. The deadline was initially set in November 2020 by U.S. Bankruptcy Court Judge Margaret Cangilos- Ruiz.” By Don Cazentre, Syracuse.com

WISCONSIN

Advocates push for a clergy abuse investigation in memory of Notre Dame graduate who died one year ago
“Supporters of a man who accused priests at St. Norbert Abbey of sexually abusing him(link is external) gathered outside a Green Bay Catholic high school Sunday (Mar. 7) to call on state officials to pull back the curtain on clergy abuse in Wisconsin. The rally near Notre Dame Academy came two days before the family and friends of Nate Lindstrom will mark one year since he died by suicide on March 9, 2020. Lindstrom, a Notre Dame alumnus, said he endured abuse by three Norbertine priests in the 1980s while he worked for clergymen who often took him to the abbey swimming pool.” By Haley BeMiller, Green Bay Press-Gazette

ARGENTINA

Argentine court clears former priest in sexual abuse case
“A court on Tuesday (Mar. 9) cleared a retired priest of sexual abuse charges on grounds the statute of limitations on the alleged crimes had expired(link is external). Former priest Carlos Eduardo José, 62, had spent more than a year in custody during the legal process and the ruling by a three-judge panel in the city of San Martin means he can go free. Attorneys for his accuser, Mailin Gobbo, said they would appeal.” By Almudena Calatrava, Associated Press

AUSTRALIA

Catholic priest denies historical abuse
“A former Catholic priest has denied sexually abusing a teenage schoolboy(link is external) almost 50 years ago while stationed at a remote northwest Queensland parish. Neville Joseph Creen, 80, pleaded not guilty to four historical counts of indecent and sexual abuse of the teenager in Mt Isa, where he served as a priest in the 1970s. The alleged victim, who cannot be identified, had just lost his father in a mining accident when he first met Father Creen, crown prosecutor Katrina Overell said in her opening in Brisbane District Court.” By Robyn Wuth, Guardian News

‘I was walking into an ambush’: Former Wallaby Tony Daly speaks out about childhood sexual abuse
“‘I can acknowledge it and I accept the ramification. But I won’t accept that I was a 10, 11-year-old boy and I was walking into an ambush. It shouldn’t have happened.’ There are small moments around which our lives turn. A chance encounter, a diagnosis, a shared connection. The defining moment in Tony Daly’s life happened when he was just 11. The man who he claims sexually abused him was a Catholic brother at his new boarding school(link is external).” By David Mark, ABC News

CANADA

Saskatoon Catholic officials promise to name sexually abusive priests in spring report
“Roman Catholic Church officials in Saskatoon are promising to publish a report this spring naming all abusive priests and staff going back to 1933(link is external). Saskatoon would be just the second jurisdiction in Canada to release names of abusive priests. A partial list was published by the Vancouver diocese in 2019. In the U.S., the vast majority of churches chose—or were forced by the courts—to make their lists public more than a decade ago. The Saskatoon report will list the priests involved in public court cases, but also the ones contained in the church’s internal records, said Brenda Fitzgerald, a member of the historical review committee for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Saskatoon.” By Jason Warick, CBC News

Class action against archdiocese for alleged negligence in abuse by priests ‘proceeding’
“A class action by dozens of Nova Scotians who say they were sexually abused by Roman Catholic priests(link is external) dating back to 1960 ‘is proceeding,’ says the lawyer representing the plaintiffs. The class action was filed on behalf of Douglas Champagne and other sexual abuse survivors. Champagne, according to the court filing, suffered lasting and permanent effects from sexual abuse at the hands of Father George Epoch while Epoch worked as a priest at the Canadian Martyrs Church in Halifax.” By Francis Campbell, The Chronicle Herald

COSTA RICA

Costa Rican bishops respond to alleged cover-up of sex abuse by students at Catholic school
“The National Commission for the Protection of Minors and Vulnerable Adults of the Costa Rican Bishops’ Conference released a statement in response to the alleged cover up of the sexual abuse of a former student at the Calasanz Catholic school(link is external). According to the local newspaper La Nación, a 21-year-old woman surnamed Cruz Carrillo made the accusation on social media that two of her male classmates sexually abused her in 2016.” By Catholic News Agency

FRANCE

France faces hard-hitting report on clerical sexual abuse
France faces a hard-hitting report on sexual abuse in the Catholic Church(link is external) this autumn after the head of an independent inquiry into such crimes since 1950 said it could reach a total of at least 10,000 cases. The commission, headed by retired judge Jean-Marc Sauvé, has been analysing self-reported cases and combing through diocesan archives for the past two years and expects to issue its report in October.” By Tom Heneghan, The Tablet

GERMANY

Cardinal Marx’s Handling of Abuse Cases Under Scrutiny
“German Cardinal Reinhard Marx has rejected as ‘baseless’ accusations he prevented a full disclosure of information regarding clergy sex-abuse cases(link is external) in his diocese a decade ago — similar to accusations he himself has made against Cardinal Rainer Woelki, the archbishop of Cologne. The charges were made against Cardinal Marx, the archbishop of Munich and Freising, by German criminologist Christian Pfeiffer, whom the German bishops commissioned in 2011 to investigate a major study of abuse in the Church in Germany. That study was published in 2018.” By Edward Pentin, National Catholic Register

GREAT BRITAIN, SCOTLAND, AND WALES

Ampleforth College: Catholic school in child abuse scandal fails new inspection
“Ampleforth College, the Catholic school that is banned from taking new pupils after a child sex abuse scandal, has failed another Ofsted inspection(link is external). The school said that the latest findings related to ‘procedural’ issues rather than ‘horrific abuse.’ Ampleforth initially challenged the findings of an inspection in September before dropping its appeal. In November Gavin Williamson, the education secretary, ordered the North Yorkshire school not to take new pupils.” By Nicola Woolcock, The Times

INDONESIA

Amid sex abuse trial of ex-priest, Timor-Leste confronts its demons
“Images and short videos of people holding posters containing statements against sexual abuse adorn the timeline of a new Facebook campaign page. The campaign is called ‘Hapára Abuzu Seksuál hasoru Labarik,’ which means ‘Stop sexual abuse against children(link is external)’ in Timor-Leste’s Tetun language. Created on March 3, it aims to strengthen public awareness of sexual abuse amid the trial of ex-priest Richard Daschbach, according to Ariel Mota Alves, one of its administrators.” By Ryan Dagur, UCANews.com

IRELAND & NORTHERN IRELAND

Notorious clerical abuser Oliver O’Grady back on the streets after release from prison
“Former priest and infamous pedophile Oliver O’Grady has been released from prison this week after serving his latest sentence for a sex-offence. Now 75-years-old, O’Grady had been jailed for 22 months last October for possessing ‘child pornography’, his ninth conviction(link is external). He had served time in California for the abuse of two boys where he served as a Catholic priest before being deported back to Ireland in the 1990s.” By Emon Dillon, Sunday World

MALTA

Clerical sex abuse case to be heard behind closed doors
“The case against two Xagħra priests charged with sexually abusing an altar boy(link is external) will be heard behind closed doors, a Gozitan court ruled on Monday (Mar. 8). Magistrate Bridgette Sultana issued a decree ordering the proceedings to be held behind closed doors ‘in the interest of full justice.’ She also barred the press from further reporting on the alleged perpetrators before the proceedings end. The priests, aged 70, and 84, have both denied sexual abuse charges.” By The Times of Malta

Chihuahua priest sentenced to 34 years for sexual assault of altar girl, 8
“A Chihuahua priest who was convicted in February of aggravated sexual assault against an 8-year-old who served as an altar girl(link is external) at his church was sentenced Tuesday (Mar. 2) to more than 34 years in prison. Aristeo Trinidad Baca, 78, a suspended priest at the Santa María de la Montaña Parish Church in Ciudad Juárez, assaulted the girl between 2015–2018, the court found on February 22. The priest received multiple sentences, totaling 34 years, five months and 10 days, reflecting the fact that he had sexually assaulted the girl on at least three occasions.” By Mexico News Daily

NEW ZEALAND

Faith-based Institutions To Front Royal Commission On Redress For Abuse
“Witnesses for faith-based institutions, including Archbishops and a Cardinal, will give evidence before the Abuse in Care Royal Commission of Inquiry this month, on their processes for resolving historic and current abuse claims(link is external). Phase 2 of the Faith-based Redress hearing runs from 15 to 29 March. Phase 1 of the hearing was held late last year and focussed on the experience of survivors in seeking redress (such as compensation, counselling, an apology etc) for abuse and/or neglect in the care of faith-based institutions.” By Abuse in Care Royal Commission of Inquiry on Scoop.co.nz

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Voice of the Faithful Focus News Roundup

March 8, 2021

TOP STORIES

Survivors of sex abuse by nuns suffer decades of delayed healing
“Anne Gleeson was 12 years old when she says Sister of St. Joseph of Carondelet Judith Fisher — her charismatic history teacher at Immacolata School in Richmond Heights, Missouri — began singling her out for special attention. ‘She’d wander around the classroom, and she’d lean on my chair and press her fingers into my back. Or she’d send me a little note or leave a present in my desk,’ Gleeson, now 63, said. The secret, forbidden touches gave Gleeson shivers(link is external). She says the rape began in 1971 when she was 13, although it [took] three decades and some therapy for her to recognize it.” By Dawn Araujo-Hawkins, Global Sisters Report, National Catholic Reporter

The curse of clericalism: The Catholic Church must act now to address the sins of the past
“In just one week in January, it seemed as if all the grief and shame was unleashed again. Every media outlet was covering one story after another about the Catholic Church and the cumulative effect was dispiriting and demoralizing(link is external). There was the decision by the Supreme Court of Canada, which declined to hear a final appeal from the Archdiocese of St. John’s concerning its liability over the abuse of children at Mount Cashel Orphanage … So when does it end? When will the toxin that is clericalism – the corrosive pattern of entitlement and abuse of power by clergy – be purged?” By Michael W. Higgins, The Globe and Mail

‘Spotlight’ editor on retirement: Clergy abuse coverage has permanently changed church
“When Martin Baron, one of the most consequential newspaper editors in America, announced his upcoming retirement, he cited his work overseeing the Boston Globe’s coverage of clergy sexual abuse and cover-up as a highlight of his journalistic career(link is external). ‘I think the impact has been really quite profound on several levels,’ he told NCR ahead of his retirement. ‘One on investigative journalism, the other on the Catholic Church and then more broadly on institutions that are facing allegations of abuse of various types, but particularly sexual abuse.’” By Christopher White, National Catholic Reporter

Will the Vatican investigate a cardinal implicated in its own abuse trial?
“An unusual sex abuse trial currently underway in the Vatican took a potentially explosive turn Wednesday(link is external) (Feb. 24), and the response may have a great deal to say about how serious the reforms launched by Pope Francis actually are. Three witnesses testified that Italian Cardinal Angelo Comastri, who was relieved of his position as Archpriest of St. Peter’s Basilica last Saturday by Pope Francis, or his aides, had been aware of sexual abuse allegations at a pre-seminary on Vatican grounds and took no action … At the very least it creates the basis for an investigation of the 77-year-old Comastri, which, depending on the outcome, could lead to a charge of criminal negligence.” By John L. Allen, Jr., Cruxnow.com

Head of French church child abuse probe says there may be 10,000 victims
“The head of an independent enquiry investigating church child abuse in France said Tuesday (Mar. 2) that there might have been up to 10,000 victims since 1950(link is external). Jean-Marc Sauve, head of a commission set up by the Catholic church, said that a previous estimate in June last year of 3,000 victims ‘is certainly an underestimate.’ ‘It’s possible that the figure is at least 10,000,’ he added at a press conference where he delivered an update on the commission’s work. A hotline set up in June 2019 for victims and witnesses to report abuse received 6,500 calls in the first 17 months of operation.” By France24.com

ACCOUNTABILITY

Delayed Legion of Christ extortion trial goes ahead in Italy
“A judge in Milan has ruled that trial can go ahead in a case in which priests and lawyers of the Legion of Christ Catholic religious order are accused of offering to pay the family of a sexual abuse victim to lie to prosecutors(link is external). During a preliminary hearing Tuesday(Feb. 16), which was delayed by nearly a year because of the coronavirus pandemic, Judge Patrizia Nobile confirmed the charges of attempted extortion and obstruction of justice and set a May 13 trial date for the five suspects, said Daniela Cultrera, the lawyer for the victim’s family.” By Nicole Winfield, The Associated Press, in National Catholic Reporter

POPE FRANCIS

Seeing Pope Francis in the Argentine priest made a cardinal 20 years ago
“I recently gave a close friend a bit of dating advice, ‘When someone reveals who they are to you, believe them.’ Something similar, it turns out, is true of how we should think about cardinals who become popes. I was reminded of this recently when the Vatican released a lovely tribute to Pope Francis on the 20th anniversary of his becoming the Cardinal-Archbishop of Buenos Aires, on February 21, 2001. As with his predecessors, one can clearly see the pope he would become in the Argentine priest many years before his election(link is external).” By Charles Camosy, Religion News Service

Anonymous bishops take potshots at pope
“This week (Feb. 26), we got a big peek behind the hierarchic curtain and an example of anonymity used to assassinate from Fran Maier, the longtime amanuensis and senior advisor to former Philadelphia Archbishop Charles Chaput. A gifted writer, Maier is now a senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center and a research associate in Constitutional Studies at the University of Notre Dame. Maier penned a column on First Things, strangely, even creepily, entitled “Somebody Needs to be Dad” that presents the results of confidential interviews he conducted with 28 U.S. bishops in recent months(link is external).” By Michael Sean Winters, National Catholic Reporter

Pope Francis Accepts Resignation of Conservative African Cardinal
“Pope Francis accepted the resignation of Cardinal Robert Sarah of Guinea as head of the Vatican’s liturgy department, removing a conservative who was seen as an opponent of the pontiff’s vision for the church(link is external). In a statement released on Saturday, the Holy See Press Office announced that Sarah had stepped down from his leadership position. The Vatican did not provide any reason for his resignation or name a successor.” By National Public Radio

CARDINALS

Cardinal convicted, acquitted of sexual abuse charges to speak at Ave Maria University graduation
“Australian Cardinal George Pell, who was accused, convicted and then acquitted of sexual abuse charges(link is external), will speak at Ave Maria University’s commencement where he will also receive an honorary degree from the school. Pell will be one of the highest-ranking Catholic Church officials to have addressed the university’s graduates, according to the school. Pell, who once served as the Vatican’s Secretariat for the Economy, spent more than a year in prison following his conviction in 2018. The High Court of Australia overturned his conviction in April 2020.” By Rachel Fradette, Naples Daily News

BISHOPS

Top German bishop laments ‘scandalous’ image of the church
“The head of the German Bishops’ Conference said Feb. 25 that the country’s Roman Catholic church is suffering from a ‘scandalous image’(link is external) amid mounting anger over the Cologne archbishop’s handling of a report on past sexual abuse by clergy, but he defended its overall record in addressing the issue. The Cologne archbishop, Cardinal Rainer Maria Woelki, faces discontent after keeping under wraps for months a study he commissioned on how local church officials reacted when priests were accused of sexual abuse. Woelki has cited legal concerns about publishing the study conducted by a law firm. He has commissioned a new report, which is supposed to be published March 18.” By Associated Press in National Catholic Reporter

PRIESTS

Psychologist rallies efforts to better screening of would-be priests
“For the past eight years, Chatham University psychology professor Anthony Isacco has been part of a growing cohort of mental-health professionals nationwide who have been conducting psychological screenings of men interested in becoming Catholic priests(link is external). So when a Pennsylvania grand jury issued a devastating report in 2018 on the history of sexual abuse in Pittsburgh’s and five other Catholic dioceses, he saw a need to respond.” By Peter Smith, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

WOMEN’S VOICES

What the first woman to run BC High thinks is key to creating and educating good men
“In 2017, Grace Cotter Regan became the first woman president of Boston College High School, a Jesuit, all-boys college preparatory school in Boston, Mass. Ms. Regan is not only the first woman to serve in the role in the school’s more than 150-year history, she is also just the second lay person(link is external). Ms. Regan earned undergraduate and graduate degrees from Boston College, then served as a post-collegiate volunteer with the Jesuit Volunteer Corps in Belize. She has worked in advancement and communications at high schools, universities, the Boston Public Library Foundation and the former New England Province of the Society of Jesus. This interview has been edited for clarity and length …” By Molly Cahill, America: The Jesuit Review

German Catholics appoint first female secretary
“Germany’s Catholic bishops elected a woman as their general secretary for the first time(link is external) on Tuesday (Feb. 23), in a decision hailed as a “strong sign” of modernisation in the crisis-hit Church. Theologian Beate Gilles, 50, will succeed Hans Langendoerfer on July 1 as a high-ranking official charged with implementing decisions taken by the bishops. ‘This is a strong sign that the bishops are acting on their agreement to promote women into leadership positions,’ said Georg Baetzing, president of the bishops’ conference.” By Agence France Presse on YahooNews.com

A day in the life of a lay Catholic woman who runs a parish
“The day begins with a beautiful sunrise: pinks, purples and blues that help dispel the heaviness of our continued slogging through a Covid-19 world. As we begin to assemble for Mass, everyone comments on what they had seen. Father F says he had reoriented his chair for morning prayer so he could watch the day unfolding. God will not be outdone in generosity. I serve this community, the Church of St. Vincent de Paul, as a parish life director(link is external), a position also known as parish life coordinator, which is a lay leader of a parish under the norms of Canon 517.2: ‘The diocesan bishop [may decide] that participation in the exercise of the pastoral care of a parish [may be] entrusted to a deacon, to another person who is not a priest or to a community of persons.’” By Elizabeth Simcoe, America: The Jesuit Review

LAITY & THE CHURCH

Lay member sees promise following first meeting of DWC’s Diocesan Pastoral Council
“Gina Boggess, a parishioner at Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Princeton says her deep faith and respect for Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston Bishop Mark Brennan drew her to the Diocesan Pastoral Council of lay members(link is external). Boggess is a member of Beckley Vicariate on the council which met for the first time Feb. 19 and 20 at the Saint John XXIII Pastoral Center in Charleston. The council was reestablished by Brennan earlier in the month with hopes of increasing laity and communication in the diocese following the fallout from the scandals of former Bishop Michael Bransfield.” By Jake Flatley, Metro News

VATICAN

The Remains of Vatican II
“Pope Francis has said some interesting things about Vatican II in the last several weeks. On January 11, in a letter to the cardinal prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith accompanying his motu proprio allowing women to become lectors and acolytes, the pope described his decision in terms of the ‘horizon of renewal traced by the Second Vatican Council’ and ‘in line with the Second Vatican Council(link is external).’ Then came these remarks in his January 29 speech to the national catechetical office of the Italian bishops’ conference …” By Massimo Faggioli, Commonweal

Vatican sex abuse trial exposes ‘unhealthy’ environment within youth seminary
“Witnesses at a Vatican criminal trial on Wednesday (Feb. 24) described ‘an unhealthy environment’ at St. Pius X preparatory seminary for Vatican altar boys(link is external), where a priest is accused of sexually abusing a student. The trial is the first to address alleged sexual abuse within the Vatican walls. St. Pius X, whose students are ages 12-18, is run by the Diocese of Como but is located in the Catholic nation-state, a stone’s throw away from Pope Francis’ residence.” By Claire Giangravé, Religion News Service

CHURCH FINANCES

Vatican expects multi-million dollar budget deficit for 2021
“In the wake of the economic fallout due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Vatican Secretariat for the Economy said it expects a multimillion-dollar deficit in its budget for 2021(link is external). In a statement released Feb. 19, the Vatican said Pope Francis signed off on the Holy See’s 2021 budget, which was proposed by the secretariat and approved by the Council for the Economy, the Vatican board charged with overseeing the financial operations of all offices and entities.” By Junno Arocho Esteves, Catholic News Service, in America: the Jesuit Review

CHILD PROTECTION

Donors’ group asks funders to sign pledge supporting child protection policies
“An umbrella group for Catholic philanthropy, calling it an effort to ‘change cultural norms’ by increasing donor engagement, has developed a pledge for funders to use to connect their giving to guarantees there will be procedures to protect children and vulnerable adults from sexual abuse(link is external). Foundations and Donors Interested in Catholic Activities, or FADICA, which was founded in 1976, calls it the ‘Funder Safeguarding Pledge’ and said it is the key component of a multiyear initiative, ‘Commitment to Child and Vulnerable Adult Protection.’” By Kurt Jensen, Cruxnow.com

FUTURE OF THE CHURCH

Jefferson City bishop taps into parishes to develop diocesan plan
“Bishop W. Shawn McKnight, of the Catholic Diocese of Jefferson City, described development of a pastoral plan for the diocese as having grown from the bottom up(link is external). It focuses on the stewardship of parishes — the wise use of the gifts each person brings to a parish. Oftentimes, parishes spend their time reflecting on what the bishop’s vision is, then they try to figure out what they need to do in their own parish, McKnight said. What’s different for the new diocesan pastoral plan, he said, is the diocese went to parishes and shared what the pope has asked Catholics to consider about what it means to be a church.” By Joe Gamm, Jefferson City News Tribune

Catholics in Quebec are leaving the church in droves. Can reinventing parish life save it?
“In a pastoral message released in December, Cardinal Gerald Lacroix of the Archdiocese of Quebec announced a dramatic transformation in how the Catholic Church in the province should understand itself(link is external). Faced with declining resources and a faithful but increasingly small cohort of weekly Mass attendees—between 2 and 11 percent of the province, according to The Economist in 2016—Cardinal Lacroix called on the church in Quebec not to struggle to hold on to what it has left but to see itself as a mission church moving outward. ‘We must reorient our pastoral teams toward a more intensely missionary activity, turned toward the people and groups that we join too little,’ the cardinal said.” By Dean Dettloff, America: The Jesuit Review

VOICES

Investigation of Rev. Pfleger demands fairness and thoroughness, not a timetable
“Michael Pfleger is one of the most remarkable Catholic priests in Chicago history. He leads one of the most vibrant congregations in the city, having first helped breathe new life into St. Sabina’s Church 40 years ago. He has been a crusader for social justice. We admire Pfleger for this. Always have and always will. At the same time, Pfleger now stands accused of sexual abuse(link is external). Two brothers allege they were victimized by Pfleger when they were minors more than 40 years ago.” By Chicago Sun Times Editorial Board

Our Opinion: Diocese suit shows need for transparency
“It’s a story both illuminating and disturbing: A Chicopee man credibly accuses the late Bishop Christopher J. Weldon of repeated sexual abuse, and alleges that top Roman Catholic Diocese of Springfield officials engaged in a cover-up(link is external) to protect the legendary figure’s reputation. That illumination would not have been possible without the tireless Berkshire Eagle news reporting led by investigations editor Larry Parnass. Indeed, the Chicopee man’s lawsuit against the diocese, filed last month in Hampden Superior Court, cites The Eagle’s coverage and Mr. Parnass’ interviews with diocese officials throughout.” By The Berkshire Eagle Editorial Board

STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS

After infighting, Colorado lawmakers revive effort to give child sex assault survivors unlimited time to sue abusers
“Colorado lawmakers are once again debating whether to give recent and future victims of child sexual assault unlimited time to sue their abusers(link is external) after a similar effort failed last year because of infighting among proponents of the policy change. Senate Bill 73 cleared its first hurdle on Wednesday, unanimously passing the Senate Health and Human Services Committee. Victims of child sexual assault have just six years after they turn 18 to sue their abusers. The bipartisan legislation would eliminate that restriction. The measure would apply to people abused after Jan. 1, 2022, as well as for those still within the window of the statute of limitations by that date.” By Jess Paul, Colorado Sun

R.I. lawmakers want to change deadline to sue over sexual abuse
“In 2019, Rhode Island gave victims of childhood sexual abuse more time to file lawsuits against their perpetrators, even if the abuse occurred decades ago. But victims’ advocates say the state courts have too narrowly defined what a ‘perpetrator’ is. So now some lawmakers are going back to the drawing board: They want people to be able to sue not just the person who actually committed the abuse, but the institutions that aided and abetted them(link is external), even if the deadline to do so had already run out under the old law.” By Brian Amaral, The Boston Globe

Hidden Predator’ bill for child sex-abuse victims to sue in Georgia advances
“Legislation to extend the statute of limitations for Georgians who were sexually abused as children to sue their abusers years later as adults advanced in the state House of Representatives on Tuesday(link is external) (Feb. 23). Sponsored by Georgia Rep. Heath Clark, R-Warner Robins, the bill would extend the deadline for victims to bring suits against their childhood abusers to age 52, a steep increase from age 23 under current state law. The bill would let victims sue their alleged abusers up to a year after realizing that past abuse has led to present-day trauma.” By Beau Evans, Capitol Beat News Service, Rome News-Tribune

Are you a former New Yorker? Times almost up for childhood ses-abuse survivors to seek justice
“Most former New Yorkers have no idea that our legal rights were dramatically expanded recently. In 2019, New York State enacted landmark legislation that makes it possible to seek justice for decades-old child sex-abuse crimes — the Child Victims Act (CVA). For a short time, this new law suspends the statute of limitations for child sex-abuse claims and provides a unique opportunity for survivors of such abuse, which happened in New York, to seek accountability and finality. But the time to take action is almost up(link is external). … Survivors have until early August 2021 to seek justice against institutions

CLERGY SEXUAL ABUSE

CALIFORNIA

Fresno-area priest resigns Catholic church amid lawsuit over misconduct investigation
“A Diocese of Fresno priest accused of sexual misconduct but never criminally charged resigned from the church this week. According to a statement from his attorney, Monsignor Craig Harrison handed his resignation for his pastor position at St. Francis Parish in Bakersfield. ‘This decision has come after nearly two years of seeking due process and fair play from the Bishop,’ the statement reads.” By Yesenia Amaro, The Fresno Bee

600 Sex Abuse Lawsuits Expected to Hit Northern CA Dioceses in New Window for Accusers
Hundreds of people accusing Northern California priests and clergy of sexually abusing them as children are coming forward for the first time(link is external), enabled by a recent law allowing new lawsuits to be filed based on older allegations that were previously barred by the statute of limitations. Assembly Bill 218, signed by Governor Newsom back in 2019, opened a three-year window beginning in January 2020 for the new lawsuits to be filed. A similar one-year window was opened by state lawmakers back in 2003.” By Candice Nguyen and Michael Bott, NBC-TV Bay Area

ILLINOIS

Church officials OK’d moving another priest accused of abuse to Hyde Park friary, records show
“Intended to be a place of contemplation, Hyde Park’s St. John Stone Friary instead became a source of consternation in 2018 when it came to light that the Rev. Richard McGrath was living there. A former president of Providence Catholic High School in New Lenox, McGrath was accused of having child pornography on his cell phone and of sexually abusing a student(link is external) and moved into the building as the allegations began to emerge. The monastery is next to a day care center and around the corner from a Catholic elementary school. Yet no one informed the people running those institutions McGrath was living there.” By Robert Herguth, Chicago Sun-Times

California bishop banned priest, but that didn’t keep him from ministry around Chicago
“While ministering in San Bernardino, California, in 2014, a Chicago-area priest named Joseph Jablonski told a boy something that prompted the bishop’s office there, when it found out, to notify the authorities and bar him from ever again ministering in that diocese. The bishop’s office decided that Jablonski’s words — deemed to be an attempt at ‘grooming’ for a possible sexual encounter — amounted to ‘sexual abuse(link is external),’ according to records and interviews. But that didn’t prevent Jablonski from continuing over the next several years to serve as a priest in other places — including Chicago, Aurora and Joliet.” By Robert Herguth, Chicago Sun-Times

LOUISIANA

New clergy sex abuse claims against archdiocese pour in as filing deadline arrives
“As a 5 p.m. deadline to file sex abuse claims against the local Catholic Church loomed, roughly 50 claimants filed forms saying they were preyed upon by members of the clergy. Another 370 claimants filed proof of claim forms saying the Archdiocese of New Orleans owed them millions(link is external) of dollars for other reasons, from outstanding utility company bills to accidental falls on church property. The New York-based firm processing the compensation demands received at least 56 claims in which the claimant’s name and address was intentionally omitted, a likely signal those were filed by anonymous clergy abuse victims.” By David Hammer, WWL-TV4 News

Clergy sex abuse survivors and whistleblower priests join together for healing and worship
Survivors and whistleblower priests are joining together in an unconventional way. They’ve found common ground in their personal experiences speaking out about clergy sexual abuse while continuing their fight for transparency from the church(link is external). On Sunday mornings, you will find a sanctuary for survivors. It’s a private mass that doesn’t take place within church walls. ‘Yes, it is a strange experience after so many years presiding and celebrating Eucharist, not to be able to be with the people in the church and behind the altar,’ said whistleblower priest, Father Ryszard Biernat.” By Kimberly Curth, FOX8 News

New Orleans archdiocese overhauls support for sex abuse survivors
“An ongoing series of discussions between New Orleans Archbishop Gregory M. Aymond and Kevin Bourgeois, the leader of the New Orleans chapter of Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, or SNAP, has led to a significant broadening and restructuring of Archdiocese of New Orleans’ response to abuse survivors(link is external). Aymond announced Feb. 11 that Joey Pistorius, director of the archdiocesan Catholic Counseling Service, will become the archdiocese’s new Victims’ Assistance coordinator April 1.” By Paul Finney Jr., Catholic News Service, in National Catholic Reporter

NEW MEXICO

Clergy sex abuse jury trial moved to July 2022 due to scheduling error
“The case alleging complicity in the rape of a child(link is external) against several Catholic entities scheduled to begin in December 2021 was moved to July 2022. The case was originally scheduled to go to jury trial on December 13, 2021, but that trial date was canceled due to a scheduling error, court records show. The case was filed by a John Doe against several parishes, dioceses and the Servants of the Paraclete alleging each were complicit in allowing Fr. David Holley, who moved to Alamogordo in the 1970s, to sexually abuse the complainant.” By Nicole Maxwell, Alamogordo Daily News

NEW YORK.

Lawsuit accuses Brooklyn bishop of sex abuse in Jersey City decades ago
“One of two men who have accused Brooklyn Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio of sexually abusing them as children(link is external) in Jersey City decades ago has filed a lawsuit based on allegations that he made public last year. The suit, filed last week in New Jersey Superior Court, alleges that DiMarzio sexually abused the man repeatedly when he was a 6-year-old boy at Holy Rosary parish in 1979 and 1980. The accuser, Samier Tadros, who lives in Florida, went public with the allegation in 2020, months after another man publicly alleged that he had been abused by DiMarzio at another Jersey City parish in the 1970s.” By Abbott Koloff, NorthJersey.com

Child sex abuse lawsuit names Diocese of Ogdensburg as defendant
“The Diocese of Ogdensburg has been named as a defendant in a child sex abuse lawsuit(link is external) filed in state Supreme Court late last week. The plaintiff, identified in court documents as LG 83 DOE, filed suit Feb. 17 in state Supreme Court in St. Lawrence County against the diocese and St. John the Baptist Church in Keeseville, which is a hamlet that straddles the border of Clinton and Essex counties. The plaintiff is a resident of New York state and was born in 1963.” By Sydney Schaefer, NNY360.com

NORTH DAKOTA

State report on child sex abuse by priests paints sobering picture
“In the late 1960s or early ’70s, the Rev. Armour Roberts drove three boys from Bismarck to New Leipzig to visit another priest, the Rev. John Owens. The men mixed cocktails for the boys, and the boys — high school freshmen — drank until they were drunk. One passed out and later awoke with Owens standing over him, partially naked and inappropriately touching him. Owens had already molested another boy. Roberts was in an upstairs room with the third boy(link is external). … That incident is one of several detailed in a recent report by the North Dakota Bureau of Criminal Investigation that resulted from a 1 ½-year investigation of sexual abuse by Catholic priests in North Dakota.” By Travis Svihovec, Bismark Tribune

SOUTH DAKOTA

Sioux City diocese settles sexual abuse lawsuit
“A man who had alleged that he was sexually abused by a priest(link is external) in the late 1960s has settled a lawsuit against the Diocese of Sioux City. Samuel Heinrichs had sued the diocese in October 2019, saying he was sexually and physically abused by the Rev. Dale Koster at Our Lady of Mount Carmel in Mount Carmel, Iowa. Terms of the settlement agreement are confidential, said Heinrichs’ attorney, Patrick Hopkins, of West Des Moines.” By Nick Hytrek, Sioux City Journal

AUSTRALIA

Christian Brother Rex Elmer jailed for sexually abusing boys
“Christian Brother Rex Francis Elmer will be classified as a serious sexual offender for the rest of his life after being sentenced for ‘abhorrent’ and ‘depraved’ historic abuse of children at a Melbourne orphanage(link is external). Elmer, now 76, fronted the County Court of Victoria on Friday dressed in a white forensic suit and blue gloves where he was jailed for two years, with a non-parole period of nine months, for abuse against two further boys.” By Erin Pearson, The Age

CANADA

Former Catholic priest and paedophile Patrick Holmes jailed a second time for sexually abusing children
“An elderly ‘defrocked’ Catholic priest has been sentenced to five-and-a-half years’ jail for sexually abusing five children in Perth(link is external) in the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s. It is not the first time 86-year-old Patrick Holmes has been sent to prison — in 2014 he was jailed for three years for abusing two young girls, also in the 1960s and the 1980s. All the offences happened when he was the parish priest, firstly at the Holy Name Church in Carlisle and later at the Saint Aloysius Church in Shenton Park.” By Joanna Menagh, ABC News Australia

FRANCE

French Catholic clergy may have abused at least 10,000 people since 1950, say investigators
French Catholic clergy could have abused at least 10,000 minors and other vulnerable people since 1950(link is external), according to an independent investigation set up by the Church in France. The Independent Commission on Sexual Abuse in the Church (CIASE) ‘estimates that the number of victims could reach ‘at least ten thousand,’’ it said in a statement released on Monday (Mar.1). The commission said it had so far received 6,500 testimonies, which concern at least 3,000 different victims. Jean-Marc Sauvé, the president of the CIASE, said it is not known at this stage what percentage of all victims have testified to the commission.” By Pierre Bairin, CNN

GERMANY

New report on abuse in Cologne will incriminate church officials
“The second expert report commissioned to investigate abuse in the Archdiocese of Cologne also incriminates church officials who are still alive and accuses them of mistakes in dealing with cases of sexualized violence(link is external), according to its author, Björn Gercke. The criminal lawyer who was asked by Cologne Cardinal Rainer Maria Woelki to conduct an investigation told the newspaper Kölner Stadt-Anzeiger March 2 that the report had already met with opposition from some officials and their lawyers even before its publication, scheduled March 18.” By Catholic News Service in The Pilot

INDIA

Vatican probes sex allegations against Indian bishop
“The Vatican is to investigate allegations against an Indian bishop two years after some priests and laypeople accused of him fathering two children and embezzling church funds(link is external). A team of church people has been appointed to probe the claims against Bishop K.A. William of Mysore (now Mysuru) Diocese in southern India’s Karnataka state, said a church official who asked not to be named. ‘Right now it is a preliminary investigation to find out if there is any truth in the allegations … because there are several cases where false charges are leveled against leaders to tarnish their image,’ the official told UCA News on Feb. 27.” By UCANews.com

INDONESIA

Ex-priest in sex case: Long battle for justice in Timor-Leste
“After a turbulent struggle for justice, the trial against a former priest charged with sexual abuse of children in his shelter finally starts(link is external) on February 22 in Timor-Leste. It is the biggest case in the history of the SVD congregation. … Ana was just 8 years old, when she went to live in Topu Honis Shelter Home. Life was perfect and she never imagined the betrayal and harm that would be inflicted upon her. ” By Tjitske Lingsma, The Rappler

IRELAND & NORTHERN IRELAND

Priest ‘sexually and physically’ abused boys at Belvedere College in 1970s
“A Jesuit priest abused boys at Belvedere College in Dublin’s city centre when he taught there in the 1970s, the congregation has confirmed, two years after being confronted by a former victim about the secrecy surrounding the case. Fr. Joseph Marmion ‘abused boys sexually, emotionally and physically(link is external), while he was on the teaching staff at Belvedere College in the 1970s,’ the Jesuits said in a statement.” By Patsy McGarry and Conor Lally, The Irish Times

NEW ZEALAND

Child sexual abuse victims retraumatized in their fight for justice
Thousands of New Zealanders were sexually abused as children in state care and faith-based institutions(link is external), but will never get the justice they need to move forward … He was 12 years old when the abuse started. The principal at his elite Christchurch Catholic school would call the boys to his office to check their lunch boxes. When J arrived, the principal would take him into his office and tell him his parents had sent him to the school ‘to help him become a man.’” By Mariné Lourens, Stuff.co.nz

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Voice of the Faithful Focus News Roundup

February 22, 2021

TOP STORIES

Pope appoints more women to Vatican posts previously held only by men
“Pope Francis has appointed two women to Vatican posts previously held only by men(link is external), in back-to-back moves giving women more empowerment in the male-dominated Holy See. He appointed Nathalie Becquart, a French member of the Xaviere Missionary Sisters, on Saturday (Feb. 6) as co-undersecretary of the Synod of Bishops, a department that prepares major meetings of world bishops held every few years on a different topic. The previous day, Francis named Italian magistrate Catia Summaria as the first woman Promoter of Justice in the Vatican’s Court of Appeals.” By Reuters on NBC News

New York’s Catholic church leaders control billions outside the reach of abuse survivors
“The Catholic bishops of New York sold a lucrative insurance business they controlled and stored the proceeds in a foundation they also administer, keeping billions out of the reach of survivors of childhood sexual abuse(link is external). The move occurred in 2018, with the church selling its Fidelis Care insurance company and moving $4.3 billion of the proceeds into the new Mother Cabrini Health Foundation. At the same time, the Child Victims Act in New York was gaining momentum in the Legislature, a measure that the church had lobbied against for more than a decade.” By Edward McKinley, Albany Times Union

Pope again updates Vatican legal code amid scrutiny, probes
“Pope Francis has made another set of changes to the Vatican City State’s legal code, which has come under heightened scrutiny and criticism as Vatican prosecutors seek to crack down on financial crimes and mismanagement(link is external) by Holy See monsignors and money managers. In a new law published Tuesday, Francis made two modifications to criminal trial procedures when defendants don’t show up, one of which allows their lawyers to defend them fully even in absentia.” By Nicole Winfield, Associated Press

St. Louis Archbishop Rozanski accused of covering up clergy sex abuse at previous post
“A civil lawsuit filed in Springfield, Massachusetts, alleges St. Louis Archbishop Mitchell T. Rozanski was part of ‘abhorrent attempts’ to protect the reputation of a now disgraced Roman Catholic bishop while at his previous post in the northeast(link is external). The plaintiff, named John Doe in court records, had already claimed that the late Springfield Bishop Christopher J. Weldon sexually abused him in the 1960s when he was an altar boy. Now he alleges he was also harmed by the alleged cover-up of the abuse decades later when he first started reporting it to the diocese in late 2014.” By Jesse Bogan, St. Louis Post-Dispatch

ACCOUNTABILITY

Kansas Catholic bishop under investigation by KBI for alleged sexual abuse of a minor
“Kansas’ top law enforcement agency is investigating an allegation of sexual abuse of a minor against Roman Catholic Bishop John B. Brungardt of Dodge City(link is external), the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas announced Monday (Feb. 8). ‘An investigation conducted by the Kansas Bureau of Investigation (KBI) is under way,’ the archdiocese said in a statement published in The Leaven, its official newspaper. ‘Bishop Brungardt denies the allegation and is cooperating fully with the KBl.’” By Judy L. Thomas, The Kansas City Star

POPE FRANCIS

Opposition to Francis rooted in opposition to Vatican II
“At the end of January, Pope Francis delivered an important address to participants in a meeting of the National Catechetical Office of the Italian Bishops conference. It warrants attention from all the local churches because it shows, I think, why the opposition to Francis is rooted in the desire to put the Vatican II toothpaste back into a pre-conciliar tube(link is external). In the address, the pope presented an understanding of catechesis that is so far from the dry appeals to chapter and verse that tend to characterize a certain kind of apologetical, conservative Christianity.” By Michael Sean Winters, National Catholic Reporter

PRIESTS

Catholic priests accused of sex abuse increasingly use defamation lawsuits to fight allegations
“As clergy abuse lawsuits proliferate across the U.S., a growing number of priests who say they were falsely accused are pushing back(link is external) — by suing their accusers, investigators and even church officials. The list includes the Rev. Roy Herberger of the Catholic Diocese of Buffalo, New York. Last year, he filed a defamation case against a 42-year-old man who said the priest had assaulted him as a boy. The diocese cleared Herberger after a six-month investigation, but the experience was devastating, he said.” By Deena Yellin, NorthJersey.com

WOMEN’S VOICES

Women’s voices necessary for genuine discernment at synods
“The good news: Pope Francis named Xaverian Sr. Nathalie Becquart as undersecretary to the Vatican’s office of the Synod of Bishops, possibly with voting rights. The other news: the second undersecretary named, Augustinian Fr. Luis Marín de San Martín, will become a bishop. The more things change. … Still, it is important to have a woman’s voice near the top(link is external), and the fact that Sr. Becquart will likely have a vote makes an important statement about the role of the nonordained.” By Phyllis Zagano, National Catholic Reporter

Nun says her Vatican appointment means ‘clericalist mindset is changing’
“A French nun who could potentially be the first woman to cast a vote in the Synod of Bishops said Wednesday (Feb. 10) that her appointment is evidence the ‘clericalist mindset is changing’(link is external) as more and more women assume high-level decision-making responsibilities in the Catholic hierarchy. Sister Nathalie Becquart told journalists that Pope Francis has been underlining the importance of including women in the decision-making processes, helping move the Church from a clericalist attitude towards a more synodal one.” By Inés San Martín, Cruxnow.com

Pope’s move for women’s rights anything but a token gesture
“In what’s being hailed as a demonstration that Pope Francis is in earnest about empowering women within ecclesiastical structures(link is external), on Friday (Feb. 5), for the first time ever, the pontiff named a woman as the Promoter of Justice for the Appeals Court of the Vatican City State. In effect, the Promoter of Justice functions like a District Attorney in the United States, making the case for a criminal charge in front of the justices of the Vatican tribunal whenever a conviction comes up for appeal.” By John L. Allen, Jr., Cruxnow.com

Women Religious, Women Deacons Q&A: Why would the ministry of women religious/women deacons be beneficial?
“Francis’ repeated calls for a ‘more incisive female presence’ in church leadership have met uneven implementation around the world(link is external) as well as at the Vatican. There are possible positions open to laypersons that might allow women — if appointed — to have a ‘more incisive presence’ in the church. These are typically administrative positions and, at the Vatican at least, can be limited to five-year terms. Again, women can be appointed to some positions, and women’s viewpoints can make a difference, but only if they are considered. Depending on the Vatican office or diocesan structure, a woman is too often at risk of being ornamental and eliminated from actual decision-making.” Last is a series of five by Phyllis Zagano, Global Sisters Report, National Catholic Reporter

VATICAN

Priest in Vatican youth seminary trial denies abuse claims
“An Italian priest denied Wednesday (Feb. 10) that he sexually molested a fellow altar boy when both were teenagers at the Vatican’s youth seminary(link is external), taking the stand for the first time in a criminal trial over alleged abuse within the Vatican walls. The Rev. Gabriele Martinelli told the Vatican tribunal that the allegations against him were unfounded and implausible. He said they were the fruit of divisions in the seminary as well as ‘jealousy’ among former seminarians that he was eventually ordained a priest.” By Nicole Winfield, Associated Press

CHURCH FINANCES

Envoy’s case confirms culture, not law, is real roadblock to reform
“In virtually any reform effort, there are usually two targets, one of which is obvious and relatively easy to tackle if there’s the will to do it, the other far more elusive and resistant to change. The first of those targets is outright, blatant corruption, and the other is formed by cultural assumptions and patterns of behavior that aren’t generally perceived as criminal or even immoral. It would seem that Pope Francis’s financial reform of the Vatican has reached that second stage(link is external), and it’s an open question whether it will succeed and how many other contretemps may erupt along the way.” By John L. Allen, Jr., Cruxnow.com

Sitting on billions, Catholic dioceses amassed taxpayer aid
“Scores of Roman Catholic dioceses in the U.S. had more than $10 billion in cash and other readily available funds when they received at least $1.5 billion from the nation’s emergency relief program(link is external) for small businesses slammed by the coronavirus, an Associated Press investigation has found. The financial resources of several dioceses rivaled or exceeded those available to publicly traded companies — like Shake Shack and Ruth’s Chris Steak House — whose participation in the Paycheck Protection Program triggered outrage last spring.” By Reese Dunklin and Michael Rezendes, Associated Press, in National Catholic Reporter

VOICES

A cardinal in the dock would mark real reform in Vatican justice
“From the outside, the commonplace assumption about the Vatican’s system of criminal justice probably is that it’s too lenient, because, as people would see it, the system boils down to Vatican personnel policing their peers and thus, many likely assume, the temptation is to go easy. Insiders, however, have long felt it’s precisely the other way around. The whole point of Vatican tribunals, as they rather cynically perceive it, is to deliver lower-level scapegoats to insulate senior figures from culpability(link is external), so the system is stacked in favor of the prosecution.” By John L. Allen Jr., Cruxnow.com

Legislation needed to help victims of child sexual abuse
“We’ve been told by thinkers and self-help gurus through the years that mistakes can be a source of learning, inspiration and growth(link is external) that we shouldn’t fear them, and we should courageously move on from them. Advice along these lines has undoubtedly been ricocheting through the mind of now-departed Pennsylvania Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar in recent days. Boockvar fell on her sword and resigned last week after a mistake the State Department made that had the distinction of being both trivial and exceptional.” By Editorial Board, Observer-Reporter

STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS

House Sponsors Hope Derailed Sex Abuse Survivor Rights Amendment Will Get Back On Track
“A proposal to give childhood sexual abuse survivors in Pennsylvania two more years to sue after the statute of limitations has expired(link is external) is getting another chance in the state legislature. The measure would have amended the commonwealth’s Constitution, but its years-long approval process was set to start over when the Department of State revealed this week it failed to advertise the amendment last year, as required by the Constitution.” By Sam Dunklau, WSKG-FM National Public Radio

State agency bungles ballot referendum for child sex victims
“Some victims of child sexual abuse might have to wait two years or more to pursue legal claims because of a major bureaucratic bungle that prompted angry denunciations across the political spectrum Monday (Jan. 29) and the resignation of Pennsylvania’s top state elections official. A proposed state constitutional amendment allowing lawsuits over decades-old claims — prompted by investigations into child sexual abuse allegations inside Pennsylvania’s Roman Catholic diocese(link is external) — wasn’t advertised as required and so cannot appear on the ballot this spring, the Wolf administration disclosed Monday (Jan. 29).” By Mark Scolforo, Associated Press

Abuse survivors and advocates push emergency measure for May ballot
“A bipartisan team of Pennsylvania lawmakers will invoke a rare emergency provision of the Pennsylvania Constitution, seeking to restore a constitutional amendment ballot question long sought by victims of child sex abuse(link is external). An administrative error by the Department of State, discovered late last month, prevents the question from appearing on the May 18 ballot. The proposed amendment gives child sexual abuse victims a retroactive two-year ‘window’ in which to file civil lawsuits, no matter how long ago the alleged abuse occurred.” By Deb Erdley, TribLive.com

CLERGY SEXUAL ABUSE

Charity says assault allegations against founder ‘plausible’
“International charity Aid to the Church in Need said it found ‘very plausible’ the claim that its founder, the late Fr Werenfried van Straaten, had sexually assaulted a former employee(link is external) in the 1970s. The charity, which supports Christians suffering under persecution or extreme poverty, confirmed in a statement last week that the victim came forward with the allegation in 2010 and that preparations for a sainthood cause for Fr van Straaten stopped at the time. ‘The leadership of the charity took the accusation very seriously. It immediately sought out the person concerned and, in a personal meeting, listened to her. Her portrayal of the incident seemed very plausible,’ ACN said in the statement published after Christ und Welt, a supplement of the German newspaper Die Zeit, reported the charity had paid the woman 16,000 euros ($25,000).” By CathNews.com

CALIFORNIA

New Diocese of Oakland sex abuse lawsuit reveals seminaries as a hot bed of abuse
“New revelations of disturbing sexual abuse at a seminary are coming to light(link is external) after a sexual abuse lawsuit against the Diocese of Oakland settled last year. According to a local NBC affiliate, “The accusations come from a former seminarian, 28, who had previously alleged in 2019 that he was raped by Livermore priest Fr. Michael Van Dinh three years ago. He does not wish to be identified, so NBC Bay Area is calling him John Doe.” By Los Angeles Legal Examiner

DELAWARE

Diocese of Wilmington again found in compliance with plan to deal with sexual abuse of minors
“The Catholic Diocese of Wilmington has once again been found to be in compliance with the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People(link is external), the comprehensive action plan adopted by the U.S. bishops in 2002 to effectively deal with sexual abuse of minors by members of the clergy and other church personnel. The findings are a result of a review of data collected for the 2019/2020 Charter audit period by StoneBridge Business Partners, an independent firm hired by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. The Diocese of Wilmington has been found to be in compliance in all audits including its first audit in 2004.” By The Dialog

FLORIDA

Former Jacksonville bishops failed to report sexual abuse allegations, records show
“Since the early 1990s, at least four women have repeatedly come to the Diocese of St. Augustine with complaints of how now-deceased priest William Malone molested and fondled them, impregnating at least one of them(link is external), in the 1980s. His victims were young girls, the youngest just 11 years old. The Diocese of St. Augustine told its parishioners in 2019 — for the first time — it knew of credible allegations against Fr. Malone. Church leaders didn’t specify how many victims came forward or what they knew.” By Kelly Wiley, News4Jax

ILLINOIS

Cardinal Blase Cupich demanding details on abusive order priests but won’t post findings
“Two and a half years after the latest sex abuse scandal rocked the Catholic church and prompted new pledges of transparency, the church in the Chicago region has yet to make a full accounting to the public of its problem priests(link is external). Cardinal Blase Cupich has demanded for more than two years now that Catholic religious orders that operate in his territory fully disclose to him any information on their clergy members who now face or previously have faced accusations of child sexual abuse.” By Robert Herguth, Chicago Sun-Times

LOUISIANA

New Orleans archdiocese to add clergy abuse survivor to allegation review board
“For the first time since a sexual abuse scandal erupted within the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of New Orleans decades ago, its leader is adding an abuse survivor to the panel that reviews allegations involving clergy(link is external). Archbishop Gregory Aymond announced Thursday (Feb. 11) that a clergy abuse survivor, whose identity will be kept confidential, will become part of his Independent Review Board. The board, comprised of ‘primarily lay professionals’ according to the archdiocese, reviews abuse claims to see if they are credible and then makes recommendations to the archbishop.” By Greg LaRose, WDSU-TV6 News

MASSACHUSETTS

Archives: Diocese wanted Rev. Holley out. Personal letters detailing priest’s situation obtained by T&G
“Bishop Bernard J. Flanagan in 1971 decided that one reason the Rev. David A. Holley should go into the care of Servants of the Paraclete in New Mexico or some other location operated by the order was because they would be able to find a placement for him after he completed treatment, the bishop said in a letter written at the time. Rev. Holley, denied parole last week, is now serving a 55- to 275-year prison sentence in New Mexico for sexually abusing and raping eight boys(link is external) there. Although Rev. Holley was taken in as a priest of the Worcester Diocese in 1962 and incardinated in 1967, which means he became a priest of the diocese, he proved to be problematic because of his history of sexually molesting boys.” By Kathleen A. Shaw, Telegram & Gazette

Bishop Weldon accuser files lawsuit against Springfield diocese
“A former altar boy who accused the late Bishop Christopher J. Weldon of sexual assault(link is external) — and whose claim was found to be ‘unequivocally credible’ following a review ordered by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Springfield — has filed a lawsuit seeking compensation for the physical harm he suffered in the 1960s and continued emotional distress. The plaintiff says he was between 9 and 11 years old when he was raped multiple times at multiple locations by Weldon and two other members of the clergy.” By Ray Kelly, Springfield Republican, on MassLive.com

MINNESOTA

Diocese files plan for reorganization
“The Diocese of Winona-Rochester has reached a settlement with the Creditors’ Committee representing 145 survivors of clergy sexual abuse(link is external). ‘It is my desire and hope that the compensation paid in this settlement will help the survivors heal from the pain they have felt over these many years. We must never forget the tragic anguish caused by individuals who abused their power and positions of authority. We must stay vigilant in our unwavering commitment to protect the youth in our Diocese who rely on priests, deacons, religious, and lay people to keep them safe and provide for their spiritual care.’ said the Most Reverend John M. Quinn, Bishop of the Diocese of Winona-Rochester.” By Diocese of Winona-Rochester

  • Winona-Rochester Diocese reaches $21.5 million settlement with abuse victims, By Jean Hopfensperger, Star Tribune

MISSISSIPPI

Mississippi trial delayed for friar accused of sex abuse
“A trial has been postponed until April for a former Franciscan friar accused of molesting students(link is external) in the 1990s at a Catholic school in Mississippi. Paul West had been scheduled for trial in February. His case was delayed so he could undergo a mental evaluation, The Greenwood Commonwealth reported, citing dockets on the local district attorney’s website. A Leflore County grand jury indicted West in August on two counts of sexual battery and two counts of gratification of lust. If convicted, he faces life in prison.” By Associated Press

NEW MEXICO

Catholic priest sex abuse trial to begin in December 2021
“A trial date was set in the case of the late Fr. David Holley, who allegedly sexually abused a victim in Alamogordo(link is external). New Mexico Second Judicial District Judge Daniel Ramczyk set the jury trial date for the case as Dec. 13. The complainant, listed as John Doe, allegedly was one of several of Holley’s victims in Alamogordo in the 1970s, court records state.” By Nicole Maxwell, Alamogordo Daily News

Judge: Sex abuse lawsuits can proceed against the Church
“A federal judge has rejected an attempt by the bankrupt Archdiocese of Santa Fe to block three lawsuits accusing it of transferring millions of dollars(link is external) in property to individual parishes to shield the assets from settlements in sexual abuse cases. Last week’s ruling allows lawsuits for hundreds of victims to proceed, while the archdiocese says it will file another appeal. ‘The gist of the proposed actions was that [the archdiocese] allegedly transferred to its 93 parishes most of [its] property, without consideration, and with the intent to hinder, delay, or defraud its creditors (almost entirely sex abuse claimants),” U.S. Bankruptcy Judge David T. Thuma wrote in his ruling.’” By Dillon Mullan, Santa Fe New Mexican

NEW YORK.

Diocese of Buffalo says audit shows it to be complying with youth safety procedures
“The Catholic Diocese of Buffalo says a newly-completed audit by a Rochester firm finds it is fully complying with guidelines put forth to protect children(link is external) and young people from harm. StoneBridge Business Partners looked at the years 2019 and 2020, collecting and measuring data from parishes, schools and key diocesan departments. The information collected covers topics including appropriate training, screening and hiring processes and procedures for working with victims.” By Michael Mroziak, WBFO-FM National Public Radio

PENNSYLVANIA

Former priest sentenced to 5 years’ probation in abuse case
“A former Roman Catholic priest in Pennsylvania who pleaded guilty to assaulting two altar boys(link is external) about two decades ago has been sentenced to five years’ probation. John G. Allen, 77, of York had pleaded guilty in November to indecent assault and corruption of minors in the assaults at St. Margaret Mary Alacoque Church in Penbrook between 1997 and 2002. He acknowledged having touched the children over their clothes.” By Associated Press

TEXAS

Archdiocese of San Antonio plans to update its clergy abuse list
“Two years ago, when Archbishop Gustavo García-Siller released a landmark list of priests credibly accused of sexually assaulting and abusing children(link is external), he said that apologizing once wouldn’t suffice. Two years after that defining moment, his words torment survivors of crimes that amounted to rape. None of the cases might have resulted in imprisonment, but they embroiled the Catholic Church in a global cover-up and scandal.” By Elaine Ayala, LMTonline.com

AUSTRALIA

Catholic Church pedophile networks to be mapped ‘like organized crime’ by academics
“A ‘mafia-like’ code of silence among ‘dark networks’ within the Catholic Church has begun to emerge from a world-first project mapping clerical pedophile networks(link is external), says an academic behind the project. The project is led by Newcastle sociologist Kathleen McPhillips and criminologist Jodi Death (pronounced Deeth) from Queensland University of Technology’s (QUT) law faculty. The research builds on work done by Sally Muytjens, one of Dr Death’s doctoral students, who mapped Catholic paedophile networks in Victoria.” By Giselle Wakatama, ABC Newcastle

CANADA

Supreme Court sides with London, Ont., woman suing Catholic church
“The Supreme Court of Canada has sided with Irene Deschenes, the London, Ont., woman trying to reopen her civil suit against the Diocese of London(link is external), which has tried to legally stop her for more than a decade. Thursday’s (Feb. 11) dismissal of the diocese’s appeal application marks the end of the legal road for the church, at least for now, and it means Deschenes and the church can begin renegotiating her claim. ‘It’s in the hands of the church so we will see what will happen next. If they have any compassion for the victims they created, they’d be on the phone to us by the end of the day,’ said Deschenes at a virtual media conference after the ruling.” By Kate Dubinski, CBC News

Catholic Church sued in class-action suit linked to Mount Cashel case
“A class-action lawsuit has been filed over allegations that children at two Vancouver-area Catholic schools were abused by members of the Christian Brothers(link is external) who had been transferred to B.C. from the infamous Mount Cashel Orphanage. The lawsuit says that the abuse at Vancouver College and St. Thomas More in the period from 1976 to 1995 continued a pattern of systemic child abuse at institutions run by the Christian Brothers in Canada first revealed at the Newfoundland orphanage in the mid- to late-1970s.” By Keith Fraser, Vancouver Sun

St. John’s Catholic diocese named in proposed Vancouver class action
“The legal entity of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of St. John’s has been named in a proposed class-action lawsuit involving alleged sexual abuse at schools in Vancouver where Christian Brothers taught(link is external) decades ago. The notice of civil claim was to be filed in the Supreme Court of British Columbia Monday (Feb. 8) and the local archdiocese has not had legal notification yet, according to the lawyer Joe Fiorante who hopes to get the class action certified in B.C. … Early police investigations in Newfoundland and Labrador were covered up at the time.” By Barb Sweet, The Chronicle Herald

GERMANY

Cologne Catholic sex abuse probe seen as cover-up
“Germany’s secular panel on sexualized violence against children says Cologne’s Catholic archdiocese has ‘severely damaged’ moves to own up to its abusive past(link is external). Cologne’s archbishopric ‘severely damaged’ the process of owning up to decades of sexualized violence against children in its ranks as demanded by victims and lay Catholics, a top secular German panel found on Monday. The Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse — a commission mandated by parliament since 2016 to probe cases across German society — decried the diocese’s own internal review, saying this must be done instead by outsiders.” By Deutsche Welle

German archbishop under fire over clergy sex abuse report
“The head of the German Bishops’ Conference has criticized the handling by one of the country’s most prominent Roman Catholic archbishops of a report on past child sexual abuse by clergy(link is external). Cardinal Rainer Maria Woelki, the archbishop of Cologne, faces mounting discontent in his diocese over his decision to keep under wraps a study he commissioned on how local church officials reacted when priests were accused of sexual abuse. Woelki has cited legal concerns about publishing the study conducted by a law firm.” By Associated Press

GREAT BRITAIN, SCOTLAND, AND WALES

Christian Brothers abused children at Fife care home ‘with impunity’ inquiry concludes
“St. Ninian’s School in Falkland exposed youngsters to risks of sexual, physical, and psychological danger for almost the entire time it was open(link is external). Lady Smith’s damning conclusion of the Christian Brothers was revealed today with the publication of the Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry. She said they were the perpetrators who would ‘pursue their abusive practices with impunity.’ And her view of St Ninian’s School in Falkland was ‘depressing.’ and that abusive Brothers had ‘unrestrained access’ to vulnerable children.” By Allan Crow, Fife Today

Victim speaks out after abusive priest sentenced
“The victim of a priest sentenced to serve more than a decade in jail for child sexual abuse has attacked the Archdiocese of Birmingham for trying to dissuade him from reporting the assaults to police. Last week, Fr Joseph Quigley was jailed for 11 years and six months for sexually and physically abusing a young man(link is external). At one stage he locked him in the crypt of a church as a punishment for supposed wrongdoing.” By Catherine Pepinster, The Tablet

Catholic brother allowed to live by school had been charged with abuse of seven victims
“A Catholic brother who was allowed to live on school grounds was the former head of a school accused of abusing multiple children(link is external). The man spent several years living in France before moving onto accommodation connected to St Francis Xavier’s (SFX) College in Woolton. The ECHO has since learned that the man, a member of the French Catholic order the Brothers of Christian Instruction, was charged with 10 counts of indecent assault against seven victims, some under 13, at a school outside the Merseyside area.” By Jonathan Humphries, Liverpool Echo

GUAM

Vatican removed as defendant in Guam clergy sex abuse case
“The nephew of former Guam Archbishop Anthony Apuron removed the Holy See, or the Vatican, from the list of defendants in his clergy sex abuse case(link is external). Mark Apuron, through attorney Delia Lujan Wolff, filed a ‘notice of voluntary dismissal without prejudice’ of all claims against ‘Defendant Holy See, State of the Vatican City, its instrumentalities and/or agents.’ A dismissal without prejudice means the matter is not dismissed forever, and can be brought to court again.” By Haidee Eugenio Gilbert, The Guam Daily Post

MALTA

The long shadow of clerical abuse
“The Church has always been a key focal point in Maltese life and culture. Precisely because of its importance and dominance, and not just in Malta, the issue of clerical sex abuse has only begun to fully surface in recent decades(link is external). Evidence from countries which have had extensive experience of clerical abuse suggests that it is far more widespread than formal reporting would suggest. Experience to date indicates that victims are extremely slow to come forward while Church and state are notoriously slow to acknowledge the issue and society at large is significantly reluctant to even discuss it.” By Times Malta Editorial Board

Sex abuse in the Church; majority of victims don’t report cases, says expert
Victims of child and adolescent abuse rarely report their abuse, meaning many perpetrators are still within the community(link is external), a 2000 study by psychologist Mariella Dimech of 80 people with drug problems had found at the time. ‘Numbing The Pain’ focused on the link between child and adolescent abuse and drug addiction by following 80 people who had drug problems over time – 90% of these vicims had been abused during childhood and adolescence.” By Laura Calleja, Malta Today

POLAND

Poland’s Catholic church accused of failing to take action against paedophile priest for 25 years
“The Catholic church in Poland has been accused of failing to take decisive action against an accused pedophile priest for 25 years(link is external) after first being made aware of the allegations. The claims, broadcast in a new television report on Monday (Feb.15), are the latest revelations regarding the church’s alleged failure to properly investigate child sex abuse by clergy. In some instances, the institution has been accused of deliberately covering cases up and protecting perpetrators.” By NotesfromPoland.com

SPAIN

Madrid archdiocese provided support for 85 abuse victims in 2020
“The Archdiocese of Madrid provided support services for 85 victims of abuse in 2020, 75 of them direct victims and 10 who were family members(link is external). The 85 victims received free psychological care and listening sessions offered through the Repara Project for the prevention of abuse and care for victims, launched in January 2020. Altogether, the Repara Project provided free 400 psychological care and listening sessions in its first year of operation.” By Catholic News Agency

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