Posts Tagged Pope Francis

In shockingly frank deposition, former bishop admits moving alleged abusers from treatment to ministry / America: The Jesuit Review

In similarly straightforward testimony, Bishop Hubbard said that in instances when priests admitted to him that they had committed abuse, he did not report this to Albany police.

Kevin Clarke, America: The Jesuit Review

“In testimony conducted over four days in April 2021, Bishop Howard Hubbard, the former leader of the Diocese of Albany, N.Y., described in unusually frank terms how he moved diocesan priests who had been accused of molesting children in and out of treatment centers and back into ministry. He admitted that the transfers were consistently made without informing local police, families of abuse victims or Catholics in Albany’s parishes, where the men were reassigned.

“Bishop Hubbard testified that parishioners were told that their pastors had been removed for ‘treatment’ with no further explanation.

“‘My perspective is we did not reveal the reason for his treatment,’ Bishop Hubbard told Jeff Anderson, the lead attorney for one of the survivors suing the diocese, in reference to one priest.

“‘And the reason for his treatment was he had been accused of sexually abusing a minor, correct?’ Mr. Anderson asked.

“‘That is correct,’ answered the bishop, who led the diocese from 1977 until 2014, answered.

“Mr. Anderson pressed further. ‘As a matter of practice and protocol, you as the bishop were required to keep that secret to avoid scandal and protect the reputation of the church, of the diocese, correct?’ he asked.

“‘I think both were reasons for not disclosing fully the reason for his treatment,’ Bishop Hubbard responded, after clarifying objections from his attorney.”

By Kevin Clarke, America: The Jesuit Review — Read more …

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Ex-Albany bishop acknowledges covering up abuse allegations / Associated Press

Hundreds of people have sued the Albany diocese over sexual abuse they say they endured as children, sometimes decades ago.

Associated Press

“The former bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany has acknowledged covering up allegations of sexual abuse against children by priests in part to avoid scandal and protect the reputation of the diocese.

“Howard J. Hubbard made the admission during a deposition taken last year as part of a response to dozens of claims filed under New York’s Child Victims Act. A judge ordered the deposition released on Friday.

“Hundreds of people have sued the Albany diocese over sexual abuse they say they endured as children, sometimes decades ago.

“During the four-day deposition, Hubbard named several priests who had been accused of sexual abuse who were referred to treatment and later returned to ministry, without notification to the public. One, David Bentley, admitted to Hubbard that he had engaged in the behavior alleged.”

By Associated Press — Read more …

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A Voice of the Faithful Retrospective: 20 Years of Work on Protection Our Children

Voice of the Faithful marks its 20th year in 2022 and is offering a series of articles about who we are and what we do. The following is by Patricia T. Gomez, Voice of the Faithful Trustee and Co-Chair Protection of Children Working Group.

March 28, 2022

Twenty years have passed since the public exposé of clergy sexual abuse within the Catholic Church by the Boston Globe Spotlight Team. And it is 20 years since the foundation of Voice of the Faithful and the Protection of Children Working Group in response to those revelations.

Immediate reaction to the horror of child abuse within our church spurred us into action: listening to victims’ stories, supporting victims of clergy abuse in their journey of recovery, and working to create and maintain safe environments for children and vulnerable adults in our faith communities. The Protection of Children (POC) working group continues its mission to ensure safety of children today; in the past few years members have been working on an analysis of diocesan safe environments by reviewing diocesan website postings. 

Early in the history of VOTF the POC team identified the ongoing need to raise awareness and educate adults and children on abuse prevention measures in parish communities. We worked with local and national organizations to promote abuse prevention training. Over the years POC members engaged in conversations with many abuse prevention organizations, including consultations with the chairs of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ National Review Board on dispersing prevention information and tips for parents and adults on perpetrator grooming behaviors.

We also consulted with researchers at the University of New Hampshire Crimes Against Children Research Center. Through these and other efforts we came to understand that, to truly protect children in our parish communities, changes must occur at the local level. To that effect, the POC team created helpful hints to aid parishes in education and awareness efforts. Our Safety Sunday project, for example, provides short tips for publication in parish bulletins, especially during the month of April, which has been designated National Child Abuse Prevention Month. Many parish safe environment coordinators have continued to utilize the resources found on our Child Protection webpages.

Maintaining safe environments in our parishes is a strong prevention measure against potential abuse, but in recent years POC members have noted a de-emphasis on this key program. This de-emphasis diverts us from the shame and horror that abuse of children occurred and persisted for so many years in our churches. Timely reminders to remain vigilant are needed. For example, the annual observance in April of National Child Abuse Prevention month in the United States should be promoted in every diocese as a reminder of the ongoing necessity to protect the children and the vulnerable among us. Does your diocese promote this annual observance?

Voice of the Faithful has been working to help ensure the safety of our children from the beginning of its mission 20 years ago.

The responses of many bishops to cases of clergy sexual abuse over the past 20 years were designed to protect the institution at the expense of sacrificing the well-being of victims of clergy abuse. But ultimately such posturing has sacrificed the image and future of the institution. Clergy sexual abuse still resonates within the Church today because the faulty structures that allowed this abuse to occur and to be covered up still exist. The fact is: the institution has been damaged. It is time for the hierarchy to be held accountable to their own mandates for safe environments and abuse prevention measures. And it is time to enforce diocesan standards of prevention and safe environments in our parishes.

What can you do? The POC team encourages you to look into abuse prevention measures posted on your diocese’s website. Are these measures comprehensive and carried out in your parish or faith community? It is time for us in the pews to evaluate diocesan child protection measures to determine whether they are lived out in local parish communities.

During this month of April, dedicated to educate and raise awareness of the need to protect children from predators in every environment, VOTF members recall our outrage at the injustice served on victims of clergy sexual abuse, their families, and communities. We recall the shame we feel at the failure of leadership to protect our children. We support the call from Hans Zollner, S.J., president of the Centre for Child Protection in Rome, for forceful implementation of changes in church law introduced by Pope Francis and his predecessors, especially the 2019 motu propio, Vos Estis Lux Mundi (America Magazine, Feb 4, 2022).

We also call for the enforcement of standards set in the U.S. bishops’ 2002 Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People and the Essential Norms for Diocesan/Eparchial Policies Dealing with Allegations of Sexual Abuse of Minors by Priests or Deacons. And we call for change in the faulty structures and attitudes that foment clericalism, especially the insular and authoritarian culture fostered in many dioceses.

VOTF has focused on supporting survivors, promoting parish safe environment efforts, and calling for structural change in the governance of the Church for 20 years. And our work continues!

Following the example of the VOTF Finance Working Group, the most recent work by the POC Working Group investigated how the church as institution presents its efforts to prevent abuse and responds to those abused. Over the past three years, the POC team developed a comprehensive set of questions for reviewing diocesan websites to assess efforts of bishops in every diocese. We recently completed the website review for diocesan Child Protection and Safe Environment efforts and scored performances of the 177 dioceses in the U.S. A link to the detailed findings from that review will be available shortly on the VOTF’s Child Protection webpage.

Ongoing Child Protection Efforts

Results of our review indicate the need to enhance diocesan child protection policies and safe environment measures. Actions by all are essential to keep children safe in our church communities:

  • Clearly stated, publicly available, and comprehensive diocesan guidelines for safe environments provide measurable standards that can be modeled in parishes and are essential to prevent further child abuse.
  • The USCCB can more frequently update their Charter and Norms. 
  • The USCCB National Review Board should more closely monitor compliance with the bishops’ own standards for child protection by augmenting annual audits.

VOTF will continue to monitor diocesan child protection measures on an annual basis.

Parishioners have a key role in ensuring the protection of children in our parishes. We need to work with diocesan and parish safe environment personnel to bolster child protection guidelines at the diocesan level and ensure that safety measures are carried out in their faith communities. Alive in the life of Jesus, the entire People of God can transform into a sacramental community where children, youth, and the vulnerable are nurtured and protected in safe environments.

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Voice of the Faithful Focus News Roundup

March 28, 2022

TOP STORIES

Pope releases Vatican reform, gives weight to fighting abuse
“Pope Francis released his long-awaited reform program of the Holy See bureaucracy on Saturday (Mar. 19) that envisages greater decision-making roles for the laity and gives new institutional weight to efforts to fight clerical sex abuse(link is external). The 54-page text, titled ‘Praedicate Evanglium,’ or ‘Proclaiming the Gospel,’ replaces the founding constitution ‘Pastor Bonus’ that was penned by St. John Paul II in 1988.” By Nicole Winfield, Associated Press

Spain parliament approves independent investigation into Catholic Church sexual abuse cases
“The Spanish Parliament voted Thursday (Mar. 10) overwhelmingly in favor of a proposal to create an independent commission to investigate alleged Catholic Church sexual abuses of minors(link is external). Spain’s ombudsperson is set to chair the commission. The final vote count consisted of 286 votes in favor, 51 votes against and two abstentions. Spain’s Catholic Church has been under investigation on multiple fronts since a report from El Pais newspaper revealed 1,237 cases of sexual abuse within the church. Since then, the Catholic Church opened an investigation, lawmakers opened an inquiry, and the Attorney General launched an investigation.” By Lauren Ban, Jurist: Legal News & Commentary

1st German Catholic diocese allows women to perform baptisms
“The Roman Catholic Diocese of Essen has become the first in Germany to allow women to perform baptisms(link is external), citing a lack of priests. The diocese said in a statement Monday (Mar. 14) that Bishop Franz-Josef Overbeck tasked 18 lay ministers —17 of them women — with conferring the sacrament of admission into the Church at a ceremony over the weekend. Until now only priests and deacons – functions the Catholic Church reserves for men – were allowed to perform baptisms.” By the Associated Press on ABCNews.com

For the synod to succeed, the church must listen to all of us
“As the synodal consultation process gets underway, I’ve heard from several diocesan lay leaders throughout the country about how concerned they are that this process will not be inclusive(link is external). Many fear that only a single group of people, primarily from leadership councils in parishes and dioceses, will be asked for input during this initial stage. Others share how parishes continue to serve only the dominant group in the community and are not inclusive of all cultural communities. What is painfully obvious is the lack of diversity in areas of leadership and the lack of centering the experiences of those parishioners at the margins.” By Milton Javier Bravo, U.S. Catholic

ACCOUNTABILITY

The Institutionalist: Pope Benedict and Munich’s sex-abuse crisis
“‘What did he know and when did he know it?’ That was the famous question asked by Senator Howard Baker fifty years ago at the Watergate hearings. Today that question is being asked about Pope Benedict, who has been accused of mishandling sexual-abuse cases(link is external) when he was archbishop of Munich between 1977 and 1982.” By Arthur McCaffrey, Commonweal

FOR A SYNODAL CHURCH: COMMUNION, PARTICIPATION AND MISSION

Will Catholic colleges embrace synodality
Why haven’t Catholic colleges and universities in the United States more urgently engaged Pope Francis’s repeated calls to practice ‘synodality’(link is external)? After all, these centers of intellectual development and social change are crucial in getting younger Catholics to care about the future of the Church. On this episode, we’re featuring a series of conversations with three experts on the current state of the synod and American Catholic higher education: Massimo Faggioli of Villanova University, Micah Kiel of St. Ambrose University, and Amirah Orozco of Dominican University.” By Editors at Commonweal

Parishes hold discernment sessions
“In Catholic parishes around western Oregon, Catholics have gathered over the past six weeks to pray, speak up, listen and dream about the future of their worldwide church(link is external). Information from parish discernment meetings will feed into regional writeups then move on to an Archdiocese of Portland report that will help shape documents at the national and Vatican levels. Launched by Pope Francis, the process is the largest consultation with believers in the history of Christianity. It will reach a culmination at the Vatican’s Synod on Synodality in 2023.” By Catholic Sentinel

Not many Catholics care about the synod. But I’m not ready to give up on it year.
“The apathy in the U.S. church is real. The synodal journey, and the diocesan synods, are not off to a good start(link is external). Find someone in your parish who even knows anything about it—take your time. Catch a priest off guard, and he might have a word or two to say. Good luck, though, finding any earnest enthusiasm. Thumb through Twitter a minute. Caustic medium though it is, you will really get an idea what I mean. It has had a sluggish start, this synod.” By Joshua J. Whitfield, America: The Jesuit Review

POPE FRANCIS

After 9 years, Francis reorganizes Vatican with focus on evangelization, roles for laypeople
“Pope Francis has overhauled the Vatican’s central bureaucracy for the first time in over 30 years, dramatically expanding the number of top leadership roles lay men and women can hold and reorganizing Vatican departments under the central priority of evangelization(link is external). The 54-page text of the new Apostolic Constitution was released on March 19 — 9 years to the day of Francis’ inauguration as pope in 2013 — and fulfills a top priority of the College of Cardinals, who made clear their desire to improve and decentralize church governance when they gathered in Rome to name a successor to the then-recently retired Pope Benedict XVI.” By Christopher White, National Catholic Reporter

Pope removes Puerto Rican bishop from office
Pope Francis has ‘relieved’ Bishop Daniel Fernández Torres of Arecibo, Puerto Rico, of the pastoral care of the diocese(link is external), the Vatican announced without providing an explanation. The Vatican’s brief announcement March 9 added only that the pope had asked 79-year-old Bishop Álvaro Corrada del Río, retired head of the neighboring Diocese of Mayagüez, to serve as apostolic administrator. Bishop Fernández, in a statement posted on the diocesan website, said, ‘I feel blessed to suffer persecution and slander for proclaiming the truth.’ The bishop also said he had been asked to resign but refused to do so.” By Catholic News Service in National Catholic Reporter

BISHOPS

Scandinavian bishops criticize Germany’s synodal path reform project
“The Catholic bishops of the Scandinavian countries have voiced concern about ‘the direction, the methodology and the substance’ of the Synodal Path reform consultations in Germany(link is external). In an open letter to the German bishops’ conference, the Nordic bishops’ conference said it appreciated that there was a ‘palpable need for change’ in Germany. However, the issues addressed were not a ‘purely German’ concern, they added. Although the bishops acknowledged the Germans’ desire to address the wounds caused by clergy sexual abuse and to call for a ‘radical conversion’ of the church, they said the process must stop at those issues ‘that contain unchangeable parts of the church’s teaching.’” By Katholische Nachrichten-Agentur, National Catholic Reporter

PRIESTS

Top Vatican officials invite priests to help contribute to synodal process
“Priests should try to help show the true face of the church as an open, welcoming home inhabited by the Lord and enlivened by love, said Cardinal Mario Grech, secretary-general of the Synod of the Bishops, and Archbishop Lazarus You Heung-sik, prefect of the Vatican Congregation for Clergy. ‘It is well known that today’s world is in urgent need of fraternity. Without realizing it, the world yearns to meet Jesus,’ they said in a letter to the world’s priests, including those who are also bishops and cardinals. In order to help people encounter Jesus, priests ‘need to listen to the Spirit together with the whole people of God(link is external), so as to renew our faith and find new ways and languages to share the Gospel with our brothers and sisters,’ they wrote. That is the precise objective of the synodal process that Pope Francis has proposed …” By Carol Glatz, Catholic News Service, in National Catholic Reporter

WOMEN’S VOICES

Women’s theology mentoring program doubles in size
“The Good Samaritan Study and Mentoring Program has doubled in size for its second year(link is external), meaning eight women will receive support to undertake studies aimed at promoting women’s leadership within the Church. The popular SAM Program was able to be expanded thanks to financial assistance from a number of men’s religious orders. Congregational Leader of the Sisters of the Good Samaritan, Sister Patty Fawkner, wrote to several male religious congregations in Australia offering them the opportunity to contribute to the SAM Program as a way of supporting women’s leadership in the Church.” By CathNews.com

Pope Francis: The church needs women saints
The Catholic Church needs women, especially women saints(link is external), who have shown throughout history an unwavering dedication to God and to caring for their brothers and sisters, Pope Francis said. The women honored as doctors of the church and as co-patrons of Europe, he said, are examples of “the courage to face difficulties; the capacity for being practical; a natural desire to promote what is most beautiful and human according to God’s plan; and a far-sighted, prophetic vision of the world and of history, that made them sowers of hope and builders of the future.” By Catholic News Service in America: the Jesuit Review

CHURCH FINANCES

Church finances must be ‘exemplary,’ ‘irreproachable,’ pope says
“Financial and judicial reforms are meant not only to bring the Vatican up to date with international standards of transparency but also to make the church’s structure reflect ‘an increasingly evangelical style,’ Pope Francis said. Meeting March 12 with judges, prosecutors, investigators and other members of the Vatican’s state tribunal, the pope said that when it comes to financial management and transparency, ‘the church must be exemplary(link is external) and irreproachable, especially on the part of those who hold important roles of responsibility.’” By Junno Arocho Esteves, Catholic News Service, on Cruxnow.com

CLERICALISM

Brazilian bishop: I hope the synod will end clericalism in the church
“The church needs to overcome clericalism once and for all in order to effectively promote unity and synodality(link is external), said Brazilian Bishop Pedro Carlos Cipollini in an interview conducted over Zoom last December … ‘It is clericalism that prevents the church today from being missionary,’ Bishop Cipollini said. ‘I have great hope that the synod on synodality can make clericalism collapse—perhaps not entirely, but at least in its major strongholds. If this synod doesn’t overcome that difficulty, I don’t know when we will have another opportunity.’” By Filipe Domingues, America: The Jesuit Review

VOICES

Pope Francis is drawing on Vatican II to radically change how the Catholic Church is governed
“Pope Francis’ long-awaited reform of the Roman Curia takes a head-on approach to the crises facing the church, using the Second Vatican Council as a road map for reclaiming the church’s credibility. One could argue Francis was elected to carry out this reform, given that it was a main subject of the cardinals’ pre-election conversations in 2013. It is only the fifth such effort to remake the Curia in the last 500 years … The new constitution for the Roman Curia, ‘Praedicate Evangelium’ (‘Preach the Gospel’), which was finally released March 19 after nine years of work, recognizes that in the face of the crises of abuse, vocations and credibility, the way forward is not a ‘smaller but purer’ church but rather a broad evangelization(link is external), the road map for which is Vatican II.” By Colleen Dulle, America: The Jesuit Review

Commentary: a time of reckoning for Newfoundland and Labrador’s Roman Catholic churches and parishioners
“I’ve also, off and on as a reporter for 30 years, covered the physical and sexual abuse cases of Christian Brothers and priests who destroyed young boys’ lives(link is external) — right from the Hughes Inquiry to the actual trials of the Mount Cashel Christian Brothers and priests in the early 1990s.I’ve also met, spoke with and interviewed a number of victims — mostly men, and mostly still young men at the time, with their hearts and lives torn apart. Watched them crumble in front of me.” By Glen Whiffen, SaltWire.com

I am an abuse survivor. I believe the synod will teach the church how to listen.
“On Dec. 9, 1968, I pulled a stool next to my father in his room at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City, the same hospital where so many coronavirus patients succumbed during the Covid-19 pandemic … Two hours later my father died. I had just turned 12, and I didn’t realize that my darkest days were ahead. His death left our family shattered. My mother fell prey to her alcoholism, and I fell prey to her escalating physical and mental abuse. Father figures in the community sought me out. Some were well-intentioned, others were not. In my 13th year, I was raped by a male teacher. Molestation by a Roman Catholic priest would follow(link is external).” By Mark Joseph Williams, America: The Jesuit Review

CLERGY SEXUAL ABUSE

Irish abuse survivor: Curia reform undermines independence of commission
“A survivor of clerical sexual abuse who quit the Vatican’s advisory group on abuse said she believes new reforms of the Roman Curia will further erode the independence of the body(link is external). Marie Collins, whose advocacy led to an Irish government inquiry into the handling of abuse allegations in the Dublin Archdiocese, was one of the founding members of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors in 2014. She quit in 2017, warning that ‘the reluctance of some in the Vatican Curia to implement recommendations or cooperate with the work of a commission, when the purpose is to improve the safety of children and vulnerable adults around the world, is unacceptable.’ By Chai Brady, Catholic News Service, on Cruxnow.com

INDIANA

Priest at Carmel church under investigation for misconduct with a minor
“A priest at a Carmel Catholic church has been suspended from public ministry. The Diocese of Lafayette in Indiana says the Rev. James De Oreo has been accused of inappropriate conduct with a minor. De Oreo is a priest at Our Lady of Mount Carmel church, located on the southwest corner of West 146th Street and Oak Ridge Road.” By WISH-TV8 News

KANSAS

Statement regarding Rev. Michael Schemm
“Today (Mar. 7), Rev. Michael Schemm was reinstated to public ministry in the Catholic Diocese of Wichita(link is external). In October of last year, the diocese received an allegation that Father Schemm, pastor at Church of the Resurrection, sexually abused a minor in the 1990s. Rev. Schemm denied the allegation and was placed on administrative leave of absence pending investigation. In accordance with our protocols, the diocese notified the district attorney.” By the Diocese of Wichita

LOUISIANA

New lawsuit alleges members of Hope Haven sexually abused man when he stayed at home in 1970s
“On Tuesday, March 15, attorneys Jessica Arbour and Jacques Bezou, Jr. hosted a press conference regarding the filing of what they say is a ‘new child sexual abuse and coverup lawsuit(link is external).’ The suit has been filed on behalf of Larry Polizzi, a man who claims he was sexually abused as a child at Hope Haven, a church-run home for orphans and troubled youth. Court papers report Polizzi was molested during a court-ordered stay at Hope Haven in 1976. Polizzi was 14 when the allegations happened.” By Kylee Bond, WGNO-TV News

Priest, nun names in new Hope Haven sexual abuse lawsuit
“A new lawsuit filed on behalf of Larry Polizzi, who lived at Hope Haven in his teens, alleges the horrific sexual abuse he endured while living there(link is external) back in the 1970s. ‘Instead of taking care of him, they abused him, pretty systemically and repeatedly,’ said Jessica Arbour, an attorney for Polizzi. The lawsuit names Father Sean Leo Rooney and Sister Alvin Marie Hagan as the perpetrators of the abuse. ‘I’ve been ashamed of myself for many years and I feel, for what they done to me, from the time I was 14, they need to be held accountable,’ said Polizzi.” By Anna McAllister, WGNO-TV News

Lawsuit filed against Diocese of Baton Rouge under new child sexual abuse law
“A lawsuit has been filed against the Diocese of Baton Rouge under a new law suspending the statute of limitations in sexual abuse cases in Louisiana(link is external). The lawsuit names Fr. John Weber, who was a priest with the Archdiocese of New Orleans and Diocese of Baton Rouge. Weber died in 2000. According to the petition for damages, which was filed in East Baton Rouge Parish District Court, a man claims he was sexually abused by Weber at St. Charles Borromeo Catholic Church in Baton Rouge beginning when he was about 13 years old. The church was also named in the lawsuit.” By WAFB-TV9 News

MASSACHUSETTS

Late Everett priest accused of sexually abusing student at least 100 times in 1970s
“A Boston Archdiocese priest has been accused of sexually abusing a student at least 100 times in the late 1970s(link is external) at a Catholic school in Everett, one of the many places where he was assigned by the archdiocese, according to the alleged victim’s lawyer and the official Catholic Directory. The late Rev. Michael J. Regan allegedly abused the girl from approximately 1977 to 1980, when she was about 14 to 17 years old and the priest was a teacher at Pope John XXIII High School, Mitchell Garabedian said at a press conference on Tuesday (Mar. 14).” By Marie Szaniszlo, Boston Herald

Trial should go forward in former altar boy’s case against diocese, SJC justice says
“Lawyers for the Springfield diocese failed to persuade a Supreme Judicial Court justice to delay action on a lawsuit brought by a former altar boy sexually abused decades ago by a bishop(link is external). In a ruling late last week (Mar. 11), Associate Justice David A. Lowy denied a motion by lawyers for the diocese and other defendants to halt proceedings in the case, saying the plaintiff ‘has a right to expeditious resolution of his case.’” By Larry Parnass, The Berkshire Eagle

MICHIGAN

No charges against northern Michigan priest
“The Michigan Attorney Generals Office will not file criminal charges against a northern Michigan priest accused of sending inappropriate texts to students(link is external). Late last year, the Diocese of Gaylord referred a complaint to the AG’s Office involving a priest sending messages through text and social media to high school students. The Attorney General’s Office said the priest involved was Bryan Medlin.” By Roxanne Werly, UpNorthLive

NEW HAMPSHIRE

Legion of Christ N.H. school dismissed from sex assault lawsuit
“The Center Harbor school where several boys were reportedly molested by members of the disgraced Roman Catholic religious order, the Legionaires of Christ, is no longer a defendant in the federal lawsuits brought by the survivors(link is external). Five men filed lawsuits against the order and the school last year in the United States District Court of Connecticut accusing the order of negligence for effectively facilitating and covering up the abuse.” By Damien Fisher, InDepthNH.org

NEW JERSEY

Abused as an altar boy, he biked 800 miles to inspire other victims in a new film
“A lone cyclist pedals along a rolling road as cars pass. This is David Ohlmuller. He is 52 now, divorced, the father of a college-bound son, a hall of fame champion paddle tennis player and a long-distance cyclist. He was also abused by a Catholic priest when he was an altar boy(link is external) in Montclair, New Jersey. He rides his bicycle to exorcise that memory.” By Mike Kelly, NorthJersey.com

NEW YORK.

Nassau County DA investigating Diocese of Rockville Centre pastor for possession of child pornography
“The Nassau County District Attorney’s office is investigating an associate pastor at a Levittown church for possible possession of child pornography(link is external). The church is under the umbrella of the Diocese of Rockville Centre. The Rev. Joseph Nohs is being probed and is not permitted to serve as a priest at St. Bernard’s Church in Levittown until the outcome of the investigation is complete. Requests for comment from the diocese were not returned at press time.” By Mike Smolins, LIHerald.com

Brooklyn aux bishop under Vatican investigation, whistleblower resigns
“Bishop Raymond Chappetto, 76, whose resignation was announced by the Vatican on March 7, is accused of failing to pass on to the Brooklyn diocesan review board and diocesan officials a memo about a priest who had been accused of misconduct(link is external). The Vatican has directed the bishop of a New York diocese to investigate, sources in Brooklyn and the Vatican told The Pillar. The investigation has raised questions among some in Brooklyn about the decision of Brooklyn’s Bishop Robert Brennan to leave Chappetto in place as vicar general for more than four months after he became aware of complaints to the Vatican about Chappetto’s conduct in office.” By The Pilar

Accused bishop’s funeral Mass participation provokes outcry from abuse victims
“Retired Auxiliary Bishop Edward M. Grosz kept a low profile in the Catholic Diocese of Buffalo since being accused last summer of sexually assaulting a 15-year-old boy in 1990(link is external). At least that was the case until Monday (ar. 14), when Grosz was on the altar for the funeral of Bishop Emeritus Donald W. Trautman in St. Peter Cathedral in Erie, Pa. Grosz’s participation in the funeral Mass alongside several other bishops has sparked outrage on social media among survivors of clergy sexual abuse who thought the church had suspended him from public ministry while it investigated the abuse claim.” By Jay Tokasz, The Buffalo News

OHIO

Former Franciscan friar Morrier sentenced on sex crimes
“A former Franciscan friar has been sentenced on sex crimes that took place when he was at Franciscan University of Steubenville(link is external). ‘I’ve lost the last 12 years of my life to him, the third order regular Franciscans and Franciscan university,’ the victim said in court Friday (Mar. 11). As the victim read a long and emotional statement, David Morrier sat emotionless in the Jefferson County Common Pleas Courtroom of Judge Joseph Bruzzese.” By Paul Giannamore, WTOV-TV9 News

SOUTH CAROLINA

Lawsuit accuses Charleston priest of sexual abuse of former student
“A new lawsuit accuses a Charleston priest of sexual abuse. Reverend Father Bryan Babick has been named in a federal lawsuit along with the diocese of Charleston and the Bishop of Charleston brought by a former seminary student(link is external). Babick has been the parish administrator at Lady of Good Counsel Catholic Church in Folly Beach. The defendant was also a former chaplain at Bishop England High School. According to the lawsuit, the plaintiff ‘John Doe 197,’ was a seminary student. He says he was being advised by Babick at the time of the alleged abuse in 2019.” By Anne Emerson, ABC-TV4 News

SOUTH DAKOTA

Former Rapid City priest sentenced for child sex crimes
“A former Rapid City catholic priest was sentenced on Friday (Mar. 11) for child sex crimes on top of his current sentence for stealing from the church(link is external). Marcin Garbacz, a native of Poland, first pleaded not guilty, and then guilty for illicit sexual conduct in a foreign place. While traveling in Poland, Garbacz recorded video of an unclothed minor.” By NewsCenter1 Staff

TENNESSEE

Questioning Knoxville diocese’s handling of abuse cases / Featured letter
“When you string together all that’s alleged or known about Diocese of Knoxville Bishop Richard Stika and the purported seminarian who is now accused of sexually assaulting a church employee, it paints a pretty damning picture(link is external). None of these facts or allegations, in isolation, is of course conclusive proof of wrongdoing. But taken together, they sure don’t pass the smell test.” By David Clohessy, KnoxNews.com

ARGENTINA

‘We were practically nothing to him,’ ex-seminarian says of Bishop Zanchetta’s abusive behavior
“One of the former seminarians who was the victim of sexual abuse by Argentine Bishop Emeritus Gustavo Zanchetta(link is external) of Orán says the powerful prelate manipulated young men under his authority with clothing, computers, and other gifts, discriminated against darker-skinned seminarians, and ‘bragged about being friends’ with Pope Francis. ‘The truth is that we had a bad time,’ the former seminarian, identified only as ‘M.C.’ told journalist Silvia Noviasky of the newspaper El Tribuno in an exclusive interview.” By Catholic News Agency

AUSTRALIA

Toowoomba Diocese performs strongly on audit
“Australian Catholic Safeguarding Ltd has today published its safeguarding audit report on the Toowoomba Diocese. The audit assessed the diocese’s progress in implementing the National Catholic Safeguarding Standards. The standards provide a framework for the safety and protection of children and adults at risk in Catholic organizations. ACSL chief executive officer Ursula Stephens said that the diocese has performed strongly, with 87 per cent of the NCSS criteria and indicators relevant to the diocese either fully implemented, or substantially progressed(link is external).” By CathNews.com

Retired Catholic priest Richard Doyle found guilty of molesting young girl decades ago
“A retired Catholic priest in Perth has been found guilty of sexually abusing a young girl(link is external) more than 40 years ago. Richard Doyle, 85, was found guilty of four charges of indecent dealings with the girl when she was between the ages of six and 10. The District Court in WA was told the girl’s mother was a devout Catholic with a strong involvement in the church. She first met Doyle in Bruce Rock where he was a parish priest.” By Cason Ho, ABC News

Victorian Catholic priest Gerald Ridsdale faces more child sex abuse charges
“Victorian police have charged Catholic priest Gerald Ridsdale with more child sexual abuse offences(link is external) as part of an investigation into a number of alleged historical assaults. On Tuesday (Mar. 8), detectives from the Sexual Crimes Squad charged the 87-year-old with 24 charges related to sexual offenses, including sexual penetration of a person aged 10-16 and indecent assault.” By ABC

CANADA

Former B.C. seminary student suing estate of dead priest over alleged sexual abuse
“Vancouver’s Roman Catholic archbishop, a Mission Catholic seminary and a dead priest have been named as defendants in a lawsuit alleging sexual and physical abuse(link is external) dating to 1977. The complainant, known only by his initials, alleges Harold Vincent Sander, also known as Father Placidus, encouraged the 13-year-old seminary student to sketch his profile. It was in Sander’s private office that the boy’s pants and underwear were lowered to his ankles, according to a notice of civil claim filed in B.C. Supreme Court on March 14.” By Jeremy Hainsworth, North Shore News

Papal meetings will address ‘legacy of suffering’ Indigenous face, Canadian bishop says
“Canada’s bishops have voiced hope that when delegations of Canadian Indigenous meet with Pope Francis next week (Mar. 28), the meetings will be an opportunity to reflect on the tragedies of the past and take steps toward further healing and reconciliation(link is external). Speaking to Crux, Johnathan Lesarge, a spokesman for the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB), expressed sorrow and remorse for the trauma experienced by Indigenous communities, and for the church’s role in the suffering they endured through the residential school system.” By Elise Ann Allen, Cruxnow.com

Cemeteries will not be sold to help compensate Mount Cashel victims, says archdiocese
“Uncertainty about the fate of cemeteries in the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of St. John’s has been put to rest following an agreement in principle that excludes the sacred properties from a historic and ongoing liquidation process(link is external). Evelyn Grondin-Bailey, a member of the St. Patrick’s cemetery committee in Burin, said Monday (Mar.14) she was ‘absolutely elated’ that the restored cemetery in her community will not be sold. ‘We were extremely happy to get that news,’ she said.” By Terry Roberts, CBC News

CHILE

Chile’s new leader puts bishops on notice over legacy of abuse scandals
“Gabriel Boric, the charismatic former student activist who swept to the presidency in Chile last December and is now the second-youngest head of state in the world, marked the end of his first week in charge on Friday (Mar. 18). There’s at least one group in Chile clearly put on notice there’s a new sheriff in town – the country’s Catholic bishops, who presided over the most massive clerical abuse crisis anywhere in Latin America(link is external).” By Inés San Martin, Cruxnow.com

GUIANA

Archbishop: ‘Many of our assets must be contributed’ to settle abuse cases
“Archbishop Michael Jude Byrnes on Friday (Mar. 18) issued a much stronger call for the Catholic community to pull together more existing assets to help pay nearly 300 survivors of Guam clergy sexual assault(link is external) because it’s the ‘right thing’ to do, and it would end the Archdiocese of Agana’s three-year bankruptcy. Many of these assets must be contributed, he said. The archdiocese is under a March 25 deadline to offer a revised settlement offer to the creditors’ committee that represents mostly abuse survivors. Otherwise, the clergy sex abuse cases could go to trial.” By Haidee Eugenio Gilbert, The Guam Daily Post, in Kilgore News Herald

IRELAND & NORTHERN IRELAND

Retired Catholic priest, 89, jailed after admitting historical sexual offenses
“A retired Catholic priest has been jailed after admitting to historical sexual offences carried out in the 1960s. Anthony Barker, 89, pleaded guilty to three counts of sexual assault(link is external) at Durham Crown Court on December 22, 2021. On Friday (Mar.11), Barker, of Queensway, Hexham, Northumberland, was sentenced to a 28-month custodial sentence and placed on the sex offenders’ register for 10 years. The court heard how Barker abused a child in his care on the grounds of the former Ushaw College, a former Catholic seminary in Durham, north-east England.” By Gerard Donaghy, The Irish Post

LUXEMBOURG

Victims of sexual abuse continue to come forward
“Eleven people contacted the archdiocese in 2021 to report that they experienced sexual violence within the structures of the church(link is external). Specifically, the reports were made by three women and eight men. One of these individuals was over 18 years of age at the time the incident occurred. This means that ten people were minors when they were sexually assaulted. The incidents reportedly took place between 1940 and 2009.” By Roy Grotz, RTL.lu

NEW ZEALAND

Hundreds held after New Zealand-led investigation into images of child abuse
“A two-year investigation led by the authorities in New Zealand has resulted in the arrests of hundreds of people around the globe on charges of possessing and sharing child sexual abuse material(link is external), officials said on Wednesday (Mar. 2). Dozens of children were moved out of harm’s way as a result, the authorities said. The investigation, the largest of its kind led out of New Zealand, found a secret global networks that shared child sexual abuse images on a wide scale.” By Natasha Frost, The New York Times

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Pope Francis is drawing on Vatican II to radically change how the Catholic Church is governed / America: The Jesuit Review

… Gianfranco Ghirlanda, S.J., explained the changes, saying that the ‘power of governance in the church does not come from the sacrament of [Holy] Orders’ but from one’s mission. The is a huge step for an institution that has for centuries relegated governance and administration to the ordained and only gradually opened both to lay people …

America: The Jesuit Review

Pope Francis’ long-awaited reform of the Roman Curia takes a head-on approach to the crises facing the church, using the Second Vatican Council as a road map for reclaiming the church’s credibility.

One could argue Francis was elected to carry out this reform, given that it was a main subject of the cardinals’ pre-election conversations in 2013. It is only the fifth such effort to remake the Curia in the last 500 years. The last three followed Vatican II, with efforts by Paul VI in 1967 and John Paul II in 1988 preceding Pope Francis’ reform. Since then, the church has lost credibility and hemorrhaged members in wealthy Western nations where its hold was once the strongest and is now experiencing a severe shortage of priests, leaving some Catholics without access to the sacraments for up to a year at a time …

The new constitution for the Roman Curia, “Praedicate Evangelium” (“Preach the Gospel”), which was finally released March 19 after nine years of work, recognizes that in the face of the crises of abuse, vocations and credibility, the way forward is not a “smaller but purer” church but rather a broad evangelization, the road map for which is Vatican II.

By Colleen Dulle, America: The Jesuit Review — Read more …

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Pope releases Vatican reform, gives weight to fighting abuse

In one of the major changes, it (the new reform, Praedicate Evanglium) brings the pope’s advisory commission on preventing sexual abuse into the Vatican’s powerful doctrine office which oversees the canonical investigations into abuse cases. Previously, the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors existed as an ad hoc commission that reported to the pope but had no real institutional weight or power.

Associated Press

“Pope Francis released his long-awaited reform program of the Holy See bureaucracy on Saturday (Mar. 19) that envisages greater decision-making roles for the laity and gives new institutional weight to efforts to fight clerical sex abuse.

“The 54-page text, titled “Praedicate Evanglium,” or “Proclaiming the Gospel,” replaces the founding constitution “Pastor Bonus” that was penned by St. John Paul II in 1988.

“Francis was elected pope in 2013 in large part on his promise to reform the bulky and inefficient Vatican bureaucracy, which acts as the organ of central governance for the 1.3-billion strong Catholic Church. He named a Cabinet of cardinal advisers who have met periodically since his election to help him draft the changes.

“Much of the reform work has been rolled out piecemeal over the years, with offices consolidated and financial reforms issued. But the publication of the new document, for now only in Italian, finalizes the process and puts it into effect in June.”

By Nicole Winfield, Associated Press — Read more …

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Voice of the Faithful Focus News Roundup

March 14, 2022

TOP STORIES

Cardinal archbishop offers resignation on return from timeout
“A prominent Roman Catholic archbishop who faced strong criticism for his handling of the church’s sexual abuse scandal in Germany said Wednesday (Mar. 2) that he has offered his resignation to Pope Francis following a ‘spiritual timeout’ granted by the pontiff(link is external). Cardinal Rainer Maria Woelki, the archbishop of Cologne, marked his return to work with a lengthy letter to the faithful in which said he was ‘not returning unchanged, as if nothing had happened in this time.’” By Greg Moulson, Associated Press

Bishop barred from public ministry in former diocese
“The former bishop of the Diocese of Crookston, Minnesota, Bishop Michael Hoeppner, will not return to do any ministry in the diocese and will have his retirement compensation cut(link is external), the diocese’s new shepherd announced on March 7. Hoeppner resigned on April 13, 2021 at the request of Pope Francis following a 20-month-long investigation into claims that he mishandled allegations of clergy sex abuse. He was 71 at the time – four years shy of the normal retirement age for bishops.” By John Levenburg, Cruxnow.com

Young Catholics say they need church leaders to listen, engage them more
“Catholic young people in the U.S. are leaving behind traditional models of learning about and living out their faith, and clergy, youth ministers and others will have to make some drastic changes(link is external) to their ministry style if they want to keep them engaged. That’s the bottom line of ‘The State of Religion & Young People 2021 — Catholic Edition,’ a report released Feb. 23 by Springtide Research Institute, a Minnesota-based nonprofit sociological research institute dedicated to exploring the spiritual lives of young people. Its current research focuses on the demographic ages 13-25, also known as Generation Z.” By Christina Lee Knauss, Catholic News Service, on Cruxnow.com

Ex-bishop appointed by pope sentenced for sex abuse
“A retired Argentine bishop seen as close to Pope Francis was sentenced on Friday (Saturday, Mar. 5, in Manila) to four-and-a-half years in prison for sexually abusing two seminarians(link is external). A court in the northwestern town of Oran, where Gustavo Oscar Zanchetta was bishop from 2013 to 2017, ordered his immediate detention. The 57-year-old Zanchetta, who had traveled from the Vatican for the trial, was convicted of ‘simple, continued and aggravated sexual abuse,’ with his offense aggravated by his role as a clergyman.” By Agence France-Press in The Manila Times

FOR A SYNODAL CHURCH: COMMUNION, PARTICIPATION AND MISSION

A personal reflection on synodal listening session
Our pastoral care area, or PCA, for the synodal listening session consists of five parishes grouped together, based on proximity(link is external). The first session was Dec. 15. As I was going to the meeting, I ran into a young person near the church and struck up a conversation. He asked, ‘What is going on this evening?’ I threw the question back to him: ‘What do you think is happening?’ He replied, ‘I don’t know. I hear that there is going to be a big complaining meeting!’ ‘Complaining about what?’ I enquired. ‘I don’t know. I guess the church!’” By Teresia Mutiso, Global Sisters Report, National Catholic Reporter

Catholic college leaders urged to listen up in synod sessions
“Although next year’s world Synod of Bishops on synodality may seem like it would be something far removed from U.S. Catholic college students, many are hoping that’s not the case. ‘Synodality is the chance to be creative in imagining the future of the church. Use this chance. … Catholic colleges and universities can make a contribution(link is external),’ a theologian told a group of Catholic college leaders in February. Massimo Faggioli, professor of historical theology at Villanova University, outside of Philadelphia, urged Catholic leaders … to be invested in the synod not only because Catholic colleges are a big part of the church but also because there is currently a ‘crisis of trust in institutions’ and Catholic colleges are not immune to it.” By Carol Zimmermann, Catholic News Service

Where German Catholics & Pope Francis diverge: Germany’s ‘synodal way’ charts its own course to reform.
“Germany’s Synodale Weg (‘synodal way’), led by the German conference of bishops and the national committee of lay German Catholics (ZdK), assembled for the third time in February; it was likely a watershed moment in the German Church’s synodal process(link is external). Some 230 delegates, lay and clergy, debated and voted on over a dozen documents produced by working groups in four areas: power in the Church; the model of priesthood; women and ministries; and sexual morality in Church teaching.” By Massimo Faggioli, Commonweal

BISHOPS

Argentine bishops renew commitment to eradicating sex abuse after Bishop Zanchetta’s sentencing
“The Argentine Bishops’ Conference expressed Friday (Mar. 4) its closeness to the victims of Bishop Gustavo Oscar Zanchetta, sentenced to prison for sexually abusing seminarians(link is external), and renewed their commitment to eradicate these abusive behaviors. ‘Having learned of the court ruling in which Gustavo Zanchetta, Bishop Emeritus of the Diocese of San Ramón de la Nueva Orán, has been convicted, we want to express our closeness to the victims and express a strong and sincere request for forgiveness on behalf of the entire Church,’ the bishops said in a March 4 statement.” By Walter Sanchez Silva, Catholic News Agency, in The Catholic World Report

When we got a new bishop, he didn’t know about our archdiocese’s history of abuse. Then he listened to me and other victims.
“Shortly after Archbishop Donald Bolen was installed to serve as Archbishop of Regina, I and other victims reached out and requested to meet with him. We learned he was unaware of the area’s deep legacy of clergy sexual abuse(link is external). At the initial and subsequent meetings, he learned of the deep legacy of abuse and the painful, retraumatizing and broken process that myself and other victims were subjected to when they came to the church to report abuse. Those initial conversations resulted in an understanding and willingness on his part to walk with and work with victims.” By Pamela Walsh, America: The Jesuit Review

Warning to bishops: Please make sure the Eucharistic Congress isn’t a very expensive boondoggle
“In a report published last week, my colleague Brian Fraga surveyed a variety of opinions about the U.S. bishops’ planned eucharistic revival that begins in June and is set to culminate with a $28 million Eucharistic Congress in Indianapolis in 2024. Fraga’s reporting brought to mind a famous moment in the history of the Catholic Church in this country(link is external). On June 24, 1926, some 600,000 Catholics made their way by car or train to the campus of Mundelein Seminary for the great eucharistic procession that was the final act in the 28th International Eucharistic Congress in Chicago, the first to be held in the United States. Earlier that week, a Mass had been celebrated at Soldier’s Field and a variety of programs, Masses and confessions were held at Chicago’s many churches.” By Michael Sean Winters, National Catholic Reporter

WOMEN RELIGIOUS

Religious Sister tells Mexican symposium: Women have an essential role in the Church
“Despite her short stature, Sister María Grazia Caputo, Representative of the Salesian International Institute Mary Help of Christians of the United Nations in Geneva and New York, has plenty of reasons to stand tall. And she’s had many opportunities to do so, when both men and women within the church tried to set her aside. ‘I have had the negative experience of men and women who tried to squash me or move me to the side(link is external),’ Caputo told Crux. ‘Each one of us is called to rediscover themselves as a gift from God, who has a project for us to carry out, and for which he has given us an identity. We do not need to be someone else to achieve what God has planned for us.’” By Inés San Martin, Cruxnow.com

WOMEN’S VOICES

The nun reshaping the role of women inside the Vatican
“Sister Nathalie Becquart, 53, a French Roman Catholic nun, was named to serve as under secretary of the Synod of Bishops, a summit of 250 bishops from around the world that will meet in Rome in 2023. She will become the first woman with a right to vote at such a high-level Vatican gathering(link is external).” By Celestine Bohlen, The New York Times

CHURCH FINANCES

Vatican judge tosses defense motions as fraud trial advances
“The Vatican’s criminal tribunal on Tuesday (Mar. 1) resoundingly rejected defense motions to dismiss a landmark financial fraud case and ruled the trial will go ahead(link is external) with the questioning of a cardinal scheduled for later this month. Judge Giuseppe Pignatone read aloud his rejection of two-dozen defense arguments from the past seven months that sought to have the charges dropped against the 10 defendants. The case involves the Holy See’s bungled 350 million-euro (US$390 million) investment in a London property, though it has grown to involve other unrelated financial charges.” By Nicole Winfield, Associated Press, in National Catholic Reporter

Sentencing due for Torrance nun who embezzled Catholic school funds
“The retired principal of a Catholic elementary school in Torrance, who as a nun took a vow of poverty, faces sentencing today (Mar. 8) for embezzling more than $835,000 in school funds to support a gambling habit and other personal expenses(link is external). Mary Margaret Kreuper, 80, of Los Angeles, pleaded guilty in July to federal wire fraud and money laundering charges. Prosecutors recommend a 24-month prison sentence, three years of supervised release, and restitution. Kreuper’s sentencing position was sealed.” By City News Service on kfiam640.iheart.com

VOICES

Midlands voices: All victims of sexual abuse deserve chance at justice
“All victims of child sexual abuse deserve the chance to seek justice. Who could disagree? Two high-profile Nebraska public officials, that’s who. On Feb. 9, Nebraska Attorney General Doug Peterson sent a representative to a Judiciary Committee hearing to publicly testify against LB 1200. That legislation would allow victims of child sexual abuse to sue public institutions(link is external) — like public schools and juvenile detention facilities — for their careless supervision of employees who sexually abuse children.” By Matt Heffron, Omaha World-Herald

Diocese of Albany fights release of records as former bishop contends he wants to help survivors
“When former Bishop Howard Hubbard penned an Op-ed in the Times Union just as the Child Victims’ Act was about to expire, his former diocese was facing more than 300 lawsuits from survivors of childhood sexual abuse. His words offered regret for mistakes made in the past and hope for reconciliation and healing, in spite of the fact that Hubbard himself was the target of some of the abuse allegations. Currently, the Diocese of Albany is fighting the release of internal documents that would surely shed light on how sexual predators were allowed to continue preying on innocent children.” By Joseph Saunders, LosAngeles.legalexaminer.com

The Whistleblower
“It’s near the end of Lent 2021, the Church busy season, and Father Boniface Ramsey, 75, bounds around St. Joseph of Yorkville Parish in New York City amid a hectic schedule. On this warm, early spring day as the city seemingly emerges, slowly and cautiously, from a yearlong pandemic, students at the parish school are playing on the street … For decades, Father Ramsey knew much about McCarrick’s sexual misconduct but found few willing to listen(link is external) and fewer still willing to do anything about it. ‘It would come up on occasion,’ Father Ramsey recalls, particularly when McCarrick was up for an ecclesial promotion or was the subject of a laudatory story. ‘Something would irritate me on all this. I would feel frustrated and not listened to.’” By Peter Feuerherd, FranciscanMedia.org

CLERGY SEXUAL ABUSE

Shocking statistics
“An extraordinary claim appeared in a column by Matthew Syed in the Sunday Times yesterday (Fe. 27), namely that up to a million Italian children have been abused by Italian priests since 1950(link is external). No-one can fail to have been shocked by such a figure, but from where does it originate? The answer is that it comes from a member of ‘The Abuse Network’ which is calling on the Church in Italy to investigate clerical sex abuse as has happened recently in France and Germany.” By David Quinn, Catholic Herald

‘I felt like I had to be there,’ says photographer Lisa Kessler, who documented aftermath of clergy sexual abuse crisis in Boston
“Twenty years ago, as the Globe’s Spotlight Team broke explosive stories about clergy sexual abuse of children, protests erupted outside the Cathedral of the Holy Cross, blocks away from photographer Lisa Kessler’s studio(link is external). She picked up her camera and went to the demonstrations. ‘I felt like I had to be there. I was the only person, certainly the only photographer, with access to all the different players,’ said Kessler, who is not Catholic. She had spent most of the 1990s as a photographer of record for the Archdiocese of Boston, traveling with church hierarchy and shooting for the Boston Pilot, the archdiocese’s official newspaper.” By Cate McQuaid, The Boston Globe

CONNECTICUT

Woman accuses former Bridgeport priest of sexual abuse
“A woman is coming forward with sexual abuse allegations against a former Bridgeport priest. ‘Jane Doe’ said Fr. George Maslar sexually abused her twice in his car in 1971 when she was around 15 years old(link is external). ‘I never envisioned myself doing this,’ the woman said during a press conference Wednesday (Feb. 16). ‘I was too afraid. I felt ashamed as if it was my fault. Thinking about it made me physically sick.’ She said she met Maslar when both attended prayer meetings at the Cathedral of Saint Augustine in Bridgeport.” By Jenn Brink WTNH-TV8 News

INDIANA

Priest gets prison term for sexually abusing altar boy
“A western Pennsylvania Roman Catholic priest who sexually assaulted an altar boy for several years has been sentenced to 2½ to five years in state prison(link is external). The Rev. Andrew Mark Kawecki, of Greensburg will also have to register as a sex offender for 10 years once he’s freed from custody under the sentence imposed Thursday. He had pleaded no contest last October to indecent assault.” By The Associated Press

Suspended Indianapolis priest pleads guilty in minor sex abuse case
“An Indianapolis Catholic priest suspended amid allegations of sexual abuse involving a minor on Tuesday (Mar.8) agreed to plead guilty to one charge filed against him(link is external). According to the Hamilton Superior Court plea agreement, Fr. David Marcotte, 32, pleaded guilty to one count of dissemination of matter harmful to minors, a level 6 felony.” By Lucas Gonzalex, WRTV-TV News

MASSACHUSETTS

New allegation of abuse deemed credible against former Pittsfield priest
“A review board run by the Diocese of Springfield has upheld a new allegation of sexual abuse by a Catholic priest who served parishioners of a Pittsfield(link is external) church in the mid-1980s. The diocese said Wednesday it updated its roster of credibly accused priests to now reflect multiple allegations that Charles J. Sullivan sexually abused minors. Sullivan, who served the diocese from 1965 to 1992, died in 2014. He was assigned to St. Mary the Morning Star Parish in Pittsfield from 1984 to 1986.” By Larry Parnass, The Berkshire Eagle

Lawsuit alleges sexual abuse of student at Holbrook Catholic school in the 1980s
“An Auburn man has filed a negligence lawsuit accusing two now deceased priests of sexually abusing him while he was a student at a Catholic school in Holbrook(link is external) during the 1980s. The suit, filed Tuesday in Worcester Superior Court, alleges the abuse occurred at St. Joseph School when Gerry Nee, now 46, was 6 to 12 years old. The alleged abuse took place in confessionals and a vacant rectory, where one sexual assault left Nee in need of medical attention, according to the nine-page lawsuit.” By Tonya Alanez, The Boston Globe

MINNESOTA

Bishop Cozzens offers clarity regarding statuses of Msgr. Grundhaus and Bishop Hoeppner
“In a Mar. 7 letter to diocesan faithful, Bishop Andrew H. Cozzens offered clarity regarding the statuses of Msgr. Roger Grundhaus and Bishop Michael J. Hoeppner(link is external). According to the letter, Msgr. Grundhaus does not have faculties for public ministry in the Diocese of Crookston. The declaration is in effect for one year and will be reviewed at that time to determine if it should continue.” By Janelle C. Gerge, Crookston Diocese

MONTANA

Missoula Catholic schools president on leave following diocese investigation
“Missoula Catholic Schools President Luis Hayes has been placed on immediate paid administrative leave following an investigation(link is external), the Diocese of Helena announced. Former Loyola Sacred Heart High School Principal Kathy Schneider and former Athletic Director Jacob Alford will also remain on paid administrative leave for the remainder of the year. None of the three administrators on leave will be offered contracts to return in the fall, according to Bishop Austin Vetter.” By Skylar Rispens, Missoulian

NEW MEXICO

Catholic child sex abuse trial moved to February 2023
“The civil tort case referencing alleged abuse by the late Fr. David Holley against a John Doe while Holley was in Alamogordo in the 1970s will now be heard in February 2023(link is external). The case was originally set to begin in July 2022. According to court filings, more time was needed for discovery between the parties. Discovery, in the legal senses, means to exchange legal information and facts of the case between opposing attorneys so that all sides can know the facts of a case.” By Nicole Maxwell, Alamogordo Daily News

Archdiocese sues insurance companies over sexual abuse coverage
“The Archdiocese of Santa Fe, in the throes of Chapter 11 bankruptcy, sued four insurance companies this week, claiming they haven’t fulfilled their contracts to provide liability coverage for sexual abuse complaints(link is external). The archdiocese hopes to raise enough money, including through insurance payouts, to settle the bankruptcy case involving more than 400 people who allege they were victims of clergy sexual abuse, with some claims dating back decades.” By Rick Ruggles, Santa Fe New Mexican

NEW YORK.

Nassau priest under investigation for child pornography
“The pastor of a Levittown church has been barred from services while Nassau County District Attorney’s office investigates him for possible possession of child pornography(link is external). According to News12, Father Joseph Nohs, a priest at St. Bernard’s Roman Catholic Church on Hempstead Turnpike in Levittown, is not allowed to present himself as a priest while the investigation is ongoing, the Diocese of Rockville Centre said.” By Alex Costello, Levittown Patch

Pre-trial battles form as Albany diocese fights release of records
“Last August, former Bishop Howard J. Hubbard reflected on his handling of decades of child abuse allegations in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany, noting that his ‘most fervent prayer each day is that victims’ … But for many victims, according to their attorneys, the ‘healing’ they seek may rely on a full disclosure of why the diocese(link is external), as Hubbard has acknowledged, covered up the chronic sexual abuse for decades by secretly shuffling priests in and out of treatment, or moving them from parish to parish without warning congregations about their criminal behavior.” By Brendan J. Lyons, Albany Time Union

OKLAHOMA

Two more Mount St. Mary administrators out following sexual assault allegations
“Months after sexual assault allegations surfaced, two additional Mount St. Mary administrators have resigned. The school’s vice principal and a counselor have resigned. The announcement was sent to parents and students. Last year, Mount St. Mary conducted an independent investigation into sexual assault claims from current and former students(link is external). ‘At first I was really scared because, honestly, it’s just really traumatizing to have to deal with it again, it’s been a long time and I don’t like to even think about what happened,’ one woman said.” By Shelby Montgomery, KOCO-TV5 News

PENNSYLVANIA

Pa priest gets prison term for sexually abusing altar boy
“A western Pennsylvania Roman Catholic priest who sexually assaulted an altar boy for several years has been sentenced to 2 1/2 to five years in state prison(link is external). The Rev. Andrew Mark Kawecki, of Greensburg will also have to register as a sex offender for 10 years once he’s freed from custody under the sentence imposed Thursday. He had pleaded no contest last October to indecent assault.” By Associated Press

TENNESSEE

Knoxville Catholic diocese accused of improper sexual abuse investigation, lawsuit alleges
“An unnamed plaintiff is suing the Roman Catholic Diocese of Knoxville and its bishop, alleging the diocese did not properly investigate sexual abuse allegations against a former employee(link is external).

The complaint, filed Tuesday in Knox County Circuit Court, outlines in vivid detail several instances of sexual harassment and abuse the plaintiff said he suffered. It also makes several allegations about the bishop overreaching in an investigation of abuse claims, using information reported last year by a news agency.” By Liam Adams, Knoxville News Sentinel

VERMONT

‘Move Forward with Love’: Exhibit traces healing journey of abuse survivors
“The newest exhibit at the Vermont History Museum documents a painful legacy, but it’s one survivors of childhood abuse and trauma say needs to be heard(link is external) as part of their healing process. ‘This cannot be allowed to happen again,’ said Katelin Hoffman, referring to the abuse she experienced at the now-defunct St. Joseph’s Orphanage in Burlington when she was in her early teens. Hoffman and others have reported they were routinely harmed at the facility that closed in 1974. Some said, as a particularly shocking example, they were even forced by staff to eat their own vomit when they were sick.” By Jack Thurston, NECN-TV

AUSTRALIA

Abuse survivor takes Archdiocese of Melbourne to trial over historical sexual abuse
“Oliver will never forget the day his life changed forever. It was the day a Catholic priest — a man he saw as God — abused his trust and allegedly set him on a path towards ‘shame, substance abuse and profound mental illness(link is external),’ the Supreme Court of Melbourne heard. ‘I was dead. He murdered me,’ Oliver told the court. ‘He murdered that boy, that little boy, that I used to be.’

In 1968, Oliver was sexually assaulted by Desmond Gannon — now known to be a notorious pedophile priest.” By Lucy MacDonald, ABC News

CANADA

Deal will see Mount Cashel abuse survivors and St. John’s parish get share of Chase the Ace cash
“A settlement has been reached involving millions of dollars raised in a Chase the Ace fundraiser for a St. John’s-area parish nearly five years ago(link is external). The cash got tangled up in ongoing insolvency proceedings involving the Roman Catholic church in eastern Newfoundland and efforts to compensate victims of historic abuse at the Mount Cashel orphanage. An out-of-court settlement was reached Sunday (Feb. 27) night. The matter had been due to go before a Newfoundland and Labrador Supreme Court judge Monday morning.” By Tony Roberts and Rob Antle, CBC News

GERMANY

German court convicts Catholic priest of abusing girls
“A German court on Friday (Feb. 25) convicted a Catholic priest of sexual abuse of children in cases that spanned many years(link is external) and sentenced him to 12 years in prison. The Cologne state court also ordered the 70-year-old to pay three co-plaintiffs in the cases damages totaling 50,000 euros ($56,000), news agency DPA reported. The priest was identified by local media only as Hans U. According to the indictment, the case against the priest covered 118 counts and the youngest victim was a 9-year-old girl.” By Associated Press

GREAT BRITAIN, SCOTLAND, AND WALES

Archbishop: Child abuse scandal shames us
“The new Archbishop of Glasgow yesterday (Feb. 27) said the Catholic Church should feel ashamed over the child abuse scandal while praising survivors for speaking out(link is external). William Nolan also insisted the Church must ‘change our ways to ensure what happened in the past does not happen again.’ His comments came as he was installed as the new leader of Scotland’s largest Catholic community at a mass in the city’s St Andrew’s Cathedral.” By Katrine Busey, The Sunday Post

GUAM

Judge’s ruling paves way for use of Catholic parish, school assets to help pay clergy sex abuse survivors
“U.S. District Court Chief Judge Frances Tydingco-Gatewood on Saturday (Feb. 26) afternoon issued a ruling that paves the way for the use of the assets of Catholic schools and parishes to help pay nearly 300 survivors of Guam clergy sexual assaults(link is external). The judge found in favor of the committee representing mainly abuse survivors. The creditors committee, represented by attorneys Edwin Caldie and Andrew Glasnovich, asked the court to allow the inclusion of school and parish assets into the Archdiocese of Agana’s bankruptcy estate, so they could be used to compensate abuse survivors.” By Haidee Eugenio Gilbert, The Guam Daily Post

INDIA

50-year-old priest arrested for uploading child pornography
“A 50-year-old priest has been arrested for allegedly uploading child pornography on social media in Tamil Nadu’s Tiruppur district(link is external). The accused has been arrested under sections of Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act (POSCO) 2012 and the Information Technology (IT) Act 2000. The complaint came from a US-based NGO. The police said that the complaint was made by the National Centre for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) which is a US-based NGO. NCMEC found the content and informed the Indian authorities.” By TimesNewNews.com

INDONESIA

Timor-Leste acquits priest over false abuse case report
“A Timor-Leste court has acquitted a priest and several of his staff over writing a report in favor of a defrocked priest jailed for sexually abusing young girls(link is external). Father Herminio Fatima Goncalves, former chairman of the Justice and Peace Commission of Dili Archdiocese, and three of his staff were on trial after being accused of authoring the controversial report that made wild and false allegations against police prosecutors, journalists and NGOs involved in the prosecution of Richard Daschbach.” By Ryan Dagur, UCANews.com

JAPAN

Bishops in Japan set March 18 as day of prayer for victims of sexual abuse
“Catholic bishops in Japan have dedicated the second Friday of Lent as a Day of Prayer and Penance for Victims and Survivors of Sexual Abuse(link is external). Archbishop Isao Kikuchi of Tokyo, president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Japan, has requested Catholics to join in prayers for the victims and survivors of sex abuse on March 18, ucanews.com reported. Archbishop Kikuchi said that in recent years cases of sexual abuse by clergy have been reported in churches around the world, and investigations reveal that many similar cases existed way back in the past.” By Catholic News Service

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Voice of the Faithful Focus News Roundup

March 1, 2022

TOP STORIES

In Italy, a call for a national investigation into clerical sexual abuse
“Catholic groups and abuse survivors on Tuesday (Feb. 15) called on the Roman Catholic Church in Italy, which has yet to reckon with the scourge of sexual abuse by priests, to create an independent commission to investigate how the crisis has been handled(link is external). In a number of countries — including Australia, France, Ireland and the United States — the church has allowed some scrutiny of its actions. But so far, the church in Italy has resisted calls for an independent inquiry, even after Pope Francis in 2019 held a landmark meeting on clerical sexual abuse and called ‘for an all-out battle against the abuse of minors.’” By Elisabetta Povoledo, The New York Times

Spanish bishops announce national investigation of clerical sexual abuse
“Caving to pressure from abuse survivors, politicians and the media, the Spanish bishops announced on Tuesday (Feb. 22) that they will conduct a full, nation-wide investigation of clerical sexual abuse(link is external). Cardinal Juan José Omella, president of the Spanish bishops’ conference, and lawyer Javier Cremades announced a twelve-month investigation with the necessary historical ‘breadth’ which will include both dioceses and religious congregations.” By Inés San Martin, Cruxnow.com

Pope Francis reorganizes Vatican’s doctrinal office, creating department to handle abuse cases
“Pope Francis on Feb. 14 overhauled the current structure of the Vatican’s doctrinal office, creating an independent section to handle disciplinary matters related to the sexual abuse of minors(link is external). Under its new structure, the office will operate with autonomous doctrinal and discipline sections that will be coordinated by separate secretaries, both of whom will report to the prefect of the congregation. The new legislation, Fidem servare (‘To preserve the faith’), represents the most significant organizational changes to the office in over 30 years.” By Christopher White, National Catholic Reporter

Why is an abuser still working as a priest?
“The BBC has uncovered how a culture of complicity and denial conceals the true scale of clerical sex abuse in Italy. One shocking case that we delved into exposes how abusers in the Church can escape justice(link is external). This account contains descriptions which readers may find upsetting. – We’ll call him ‘Mario.’ He pulls back slightly as we shake hands, still clearly uncomfortable with physical contact. And at my first question – ‘How are you?’ – which I hoped would ease him gently into conversation, he immediately breaks down. ‘This interview is taking me back to it all,’ he stutters, barely able to get the words out through his tears. Mario has never spoken before to a journalist about what he calls his ‘sexual slavery’ at the hands of his childhood priest.” By Mark Lowen, BBC News, Rome

U.S. bishops defend planned $28 million Eucharistic congress amid criticism
“To organize a National Eucharistic Congress in 2024, the Catholic bishops in the United States have partnered with an event planner who was accused of charging exorbitant rates during the preparations for Donald Trump’s presidential inauguration in January 2017. The bishops are also relying on conservative Catholic organizations to provide funding and create catechetical and promotional materials for a multiyear National Eucharistic Revival that will lead up to the four-day congress in July 2024(link is external). The bishops intend to set up a nonprofit organization to handle logistics and raise $28 million over the next two years to hold the event in downtown Indianapolis.” By Brian Fraga, National Catholic Reporter

ACCOUNTABILITY

Argentine bishop rejects sex abuse claims as trial begins
“The trial of a Roman Catholic bishop accused of sexually abusing young men in northern Argentina began Monday (Feb. 21)(link is external) with the cleric denying the claims, in the latest court case to highlight sex crimes that have roiled the global church in recent decades. Pope Francis, the former archbishop of Buenos Aires and the first Latin American pontiff, has repeatedly apologized for past crimes by priests and pledged to end cover-ups while ensuring that priestly sexual abuse be ‘erased from the face of the earth.’” By Augustin Geist, Reuters

Pope Benedict’s lack of apology for abuse cases ‘appalling,’ say German survivors
“German survivors of clergy sexual abuse are sharply criticizing retired Pope Benedict XVI’s response to a report that faulted his handling of four abuse cases in the 1970s and ’80s, calling his lack of a direct apology an abdication of personal responsibility. ‘The one thing everybody expects from him is to say, ‘I made a mistake. I’m sorry. I should have acted differently back then. And I’m sorry,’ said survivor Doris Reisinger. Reisinger, a German theologian who left religious life after alleging abuse by a priest in her community, said that Benedict’s two-page Feb. 8 letter responding to accusations that he mishandled four cases of abuse during his time as Archbishop of Munich and Freising, was an ‘embarrassment(link is external).’” By Christopher White, National Catholic Reporter

FOR A SYNODAL CHURCH: COMMUNION, PARTICIPATION AND MISSION

Synodality needs to begin at the local level
“The key elements of synodality – communion, participation and mission – must first be inculcated in our local communities if they are to shape the wider Church, writes Deacon Justin Stanwix …But can we have a synodal Church if we don’t start the process of growing the synodal parish?(link is external) There is no rush to perfect the model instantly because we are on a journey together. But this journey needs many travellers and a commitment to go the distance.” By CathNews.com

Priest: Listening sessions offer faithful chance ‘to participate, be heard’
“The Philadelphia Archdiocese plans to offer to as many of the faithful as possible ‘multiple opportunities to participate and be heard’ in listening sessions in preparations for the 2023 world Synod of Bishops on synodality(link is external), said Msgr. Brian Hennessy. The priest, who is pastor of St. Alphonsus Parish in Maple Glen, Pennsylvania, is the coordinator for the archdiocesan phase of the synod. He issued a letter about plans for in-person and virtual gatherings in parishes and among various groups across the archdiocese. The listening sessions will be led by trained facilitators from the local communities. Results of the sessions will be compiled into a report in June.” By Gina Christian, Catholic News Service, in The Pilot

Lay Catholics fill the enthusiasm gap on Francis’ Synod on Synodality
“When Pope Francis announced the Synod on Synodality, Robert Choiniere, a lay minister, said, ‘This is the thing I’ve been waiting for.’ If the phrase ‘Synod on Synodality’ fails to strike similar reverberations in your soul, you’re not alone. The synod has seemingly failed to grab the attention of American Catholics, for reasons both worldly and ecclesiastical(link is external). First, Francis announced the synod on March 7, 2020 — four days before the World Health Organization declared the novel coronavirus a pandemic. A global lockdown soon put every other reality on pause.” By Renée Roden, Religion News Service

The Global Synod at Catholic University
“The Catholic University of America is fully engaging in the global synod process(link is external) called for by Pope Francis, beginning with a public conversation on Feb. 28 between the Apostolic Nuncio Archbishop Christophe Pierre and University President John Garvey, followed by campus-wide listening sessions to be held this semester … The Vatican has called for Catholic universities and faculties of theology to contribute to the universal Church’s discussion of synodality. Catholic University is one of the only universities in the country to respond with a plan that includes both internal discussion and external events, including events with bishops.” By The Catholic University of America

A tale of two synods: What will the German and Roman synodal gatherings accomplish?
“There are two synodal gatherings going on now in the Catholic Church — the ‘Synodal Way’ of the German church and the ‘synod on synodality’ of the bishops of the Catholic Church — which will undoubtedly have serious repercussions on the life of the church(link is external). A number of factors influenced the German Synodal Way: the devastating consequences of the sex abuse scandal by priests, the cover-up by many bishops and the appallingly low level of less than 6% of German Catholics participating in the Sunday eucharistic liturgies. The Synodal Way of the German church involves a synodal assembly with meetings beginning in 2020 and scheduled to end in 2023.” By Charles Curran, National Catholic Reporter

POPE FRANCIS

Pope exempts Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter from Latin Mass restrictions
“Despite his efforts last year to crack down on use of the Traditional Latin Mass, Pope Francis this month issued a decree exempting members of a priestly society(link is external) with a special attachment to the traditional liturgy from adhering to the restrictions. Headquartered in Switzerland, the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter (FSSP) is a Society of Apostolic Life of pontifical right that was founded in 1988 by 12 priests who were formerly members of the Society of St. Pius X, after its founder, Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, was excommunicated for consecrating four bishops without the proper papal mandate.” By Elise Ann Allen, Cruxnow.com

Pope amends canons to give greater authority to bishops, conferences
“Saying he wanted to promote a ‘healthy decentralization’ of some aspects of church life, Pope Francis made several changes to church law, granting greater authority to individual bishops, bishops’ conferences and synods of bishops(link is external) of the Eastern Catholic churches. The changes, the pope said, should ‘foster a sense of collegiality and the pastoral responsibility’ of bishops and religious superiors who are closest to the matters being decided and therefore have a better understanding of what is appropriate.” By Cindy Wooden, Catholic News Service, in National Catholic Reporter

PRIESTS

Vatican ponders priesthood amid abuse research, revelations
“The Vatican this week (Feb. 17) is hosting a three-day symposium on the Catholic priesthood amid renewed public attention on clergy sex abuse scandals and fresh research into the abuses of priestly power(link is external) that harm both children and adults. Pope Francis opens the symposium Thursday, and no fewer than a half-dozen Vatican cardinals are scheduled to either address the conference or preside over its sessions. The high-level lineup suggests the topic has particular relevance as the Catholic hierarchy grapples with dwindling numbers of priests in Europe and the Americas and calls for a reform of everything from celibacy requirements to the role of women in the church.” By Nicole Winfield, Associated Press

Pope Francis: Priests need to have these four traits in the world today
“Addressing a symposium on the priesthood in the Vatican on Feb. 17, Pope Francis offered reflections that, he said, could be considered ‘the swan song’ of his priestly life, since they are the fruit of ‘what the Lord has gradually helped me to realize’ during more than 50 years in the ministry. Francis was ordained a priest for the Society of Jesus on Dec. 13, 1969. In a profoundly spiritual talk today, he presented what he called the ‘four pillars’ or ‘four forms of closeness’ that he considers fundamental to the life of a priest(link is external) ‘since they imitate God’s own style of God, which is essentially a style of closeness.’” By Gerard O’Connell, America: The Jesuit Review

Vatican reports more Catholics, with varying access to priests globally
“The number of Catholics and of Catholic men and women who devote their lives to serving them continues to grow in Africa and Asia, Vatican statistics show, but pastoral ministry is still much more readily available to Catholics in Europe(link is external) … And while just over 20 percent of the world’s Catholics live in Europe, 40 percent of the world’s priests minister there. The Americas have 48 percent of the world’s Catholics, but only 29.3 percent of the world’s priests.” By Cindy Wooden, Catholic News Service, in The Arlington Catholic Herald

WOMEN’S VOICES

Women speakers emphasize need for ‘reciprocity’ in church’s ministry
“Promoting better collaboration between women and men in the Catholic Church is not primarily about equality but about allowing the church to fulfill the mission given to it by God(link is external), said women speakers at a Vatican conference on priesthood. ‘The church needs women and must call them to serve’ for the good of all people, said Michelina Tenace, a professor of dogmatic theology at Rome’s Pontifical Gregorian University and consultant for the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. ‘If the church does not make this call, a ministry risks being seen as a right. But serving is not a right, it is a duty,’ she said Feb. 18 in a panel on ‘Women and ministry — the state of investigation.’” By Carol Glatz, Catholic News Service, in The Pilot

CHURCH REFORM

Benedict XVI and the German church he served seek forgiveness in very different ways
“The Church hierarchy has been signaling a new openness to change, but a plea from the Pope emeritus, following the release of a report on abuse, follows an old path(link is external). — In Germany, lately, powerful bishops have been speaking of prospects for change in Catholic life with a frankness not seen from the Church hierarchy anywhere else in a long time … The issues they raise are so complex and controversial that a serious effort to address them could break the Church apart.” By Paul Elie, The New Yorker

FUTURE OF THE CHURCH

What happens next with tests approved by Germany’s Synodal Assembly?
“In early February, the plenary assembly of the Synodal Path met in Frankfurt and approved a number of far-reaching reform proposals for the Catholic Church in Germany. Now people in the church are debating what comes next regarding the approved resolutions and how to carry them out.(link is external) The plenary approved three texts in a second reading; two-thirds of nearly 230 delegates, including bishops, approved the texts; in a separate vote of just bishops, the texts still garnered two-thirds of the votes.” By Ludwig Ring-Eifel, Cruxnow.com

CHURCH FINANCES

Pope’s use of authority becomes new front in Vatican ‘trial of the century’
“As the dust began to settle last year on the Vatican’s troubled $400 million dollar land deal in London, and as the colossal dimensions of the failure it represents became clear, Pope Francis was determined to put someone on trial, including his former chief of staff(link is external), Italian Cardinal Becciu, along with nine other defendants. Yet, under the heading of ‘be careful what you wish for,’ Francis could find that the primary person on trial ends up being not Becciu and the rest, but himself.” By John L. Allen, Jr., Cruxnow.com

Report shows more dioceses establish foundations to fund work of church
“Despite fundraising challenges nationwide caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, Catholic foundations continue to grow their role in helping the U.S. church with its fundraising needs(link is external), according to a recent study. ‘Catholic Foundations in the U.S. Revisited,’ released in late 2021, is the work of Walter Dillingham, a Catholic who serves as director of endowments and foundations at the Wilmington Trust, a New York City-based firm that specializes in helping nonprofits manage their finances. This is Dillingham’s third look at the role of Catholic foundations nationwide, and this report highlights not only the role foundations play, but also which fundraising tools they find most effective and how they provide information about their work to current and prospective donors.” By Christina Knauss, Catholic News Service

CELIBACY& MARRIED PRIESTS

Celibacy no ‘divine law’ for priests, but promotes holiness, speakers say
“The requirement that most priests in the Latin rite of the Catholic Church be celibate has theological and spiritual foundations and not only practical motivations, said speakers at an international conference on priesthood. Jesus’ chastity, poverty and obedience were not ‘incidental or simply functional,’ but expressed his total union with God and dedication to the salvation of humanity, Jesuit Father Gianfranco Ghirlanda, a well-known canon lawyer, said Feb. 19 at the Vatican conference. The church has never claimed that celibacy is ‘intrinsic’ to the priesthood(link is external), he said, and, in fact, the Eastern Catholic churches have maintained the discipline of having both celibate and married clergy, and the Latin church has welcomed married priests coming from other denominations.” By Cindy Wooden, Catholic News Service, in National Catholic Reporter

VOICES

Mulakkal verdict signals a need for structural and systemic change
“The verdict acquitting Bishop Franco Mulakkal in the much-awaited case of the sexual abuse of a religious sister has been disappointing to many of us, and has made us suspicious. I write this for many reasons; first, because I have journeyed with this case from a distance; and because I feel the need for speaking up in defense of our sisters, and sounding a wake-up call for us as women religious … For too long we women in the church have accepted dominance and hierarchy and never questioned this because of the socialization processes we have gone(link is external) through. Right from our childhood and into our teens we have been taught to accept everything without questioning. Because “they” know and you don’t; this is internalized and every institution in our society has reinforced this belief.” By Dorothy Fernandes, Global Sisters Report, National Catholic Reporter

A Catholic nun is going to prison for fraud. Why are abusive priests going unpunished
“Recently Sister Mary Margaret Kreuper, a Catholic nun who stole $835,000 from a Catholic elementary school in Torrance, California, was sent to prison for a year and ordered to pay the money back to the school, where she was the principal for over 28 years. The school funds were used to support the nun’s gambling addiction, including trips to Las Vegas and Lake Tahoe. ‘I have sinned, I’ve broken the law and I have no excuses,’ Kreuper admitted during her sentencing. Her sentence is ironic and her contrition admirable compared with the behavior of Catholic priests and their history of abuses within the church(link is external).” Commentary on Religion News Service by Robert D. Karpinski

CLERGY SEXUAL ABUSE

25 years later, Legion of Christ victims seek reparations
“A Connecticut newspaper exposed one of the Catholic Church’s biggest sexual abuse scandals by reporting 25 years ago Wednesday (Feb. 23) that eight men had accused the revered founder of the Legion of Christ religious order of raping and molesting them when they were boys preparing for the priesthood. It took a decade for the Vatican to sanction the founder, the Rev. Marcial Maciel, and another decade for the Legion to admit he was a serial pedophile who had violated at least 60 boys. In the meantime, the original whistleblowers suffered a defamation campaign by the Legion, which branded them liars bent on creating a conspiracy to hurt a man considered a living saint.” By Nicole Winfield, Associated Press

FLORIDA

Homestead priest sentenced to nearly eight years in prison for raping parishioner in rectory
“Father Jean Claude Philippe, convicted of raping a parishioner in the rectory of his church(link is external) in Homestead, did not apologize when it came time for his sentencing. Instead, he complained about his time in jail and said he was preaching the word of God to inmates behind bars. ‘The devil is powerful but won’t change me,’ he said. ‘I won’t change my ways. I will continue in my path.’ That path, a judge ruled on Thursday (Fen. 17), will nevertheless continue in state prison for nearly eight years.” By David Ovalle, Miami Herald

MISSOURI

Lawsuit accuses De Soto priest of sexually abusing boy
“The priest at St. Rose of Lima Catholic Church in De Soto has been accused in a lawsuit of abusing a child two decades ago at a St. Louis boys’ home(link is external). Christin Hornbeck says in the lawsuit that the Rev. Alexander Anderson fondled him in the late 1990s or early 2000s at St. Joseph’s Home for Boys, 4753 S. Grand Ave., in south St. Louis. The lawsuit was filed Feb. 10 in the St. Louis Circuit Court. Hornbeck, who now lives in Georgia, was between the ages of 11 and 13 at the time of the alleged abuse, said his lawyer, Rebecca M. Randles of the Randles Mata law firm in Kansas City.” By Tony Krausz, Leader Publications

NEW MEXICO

Legacy Christian Academy principal charged with sexually abusing a child in Alamogordo
“Trevor Lavalais, principal and director of Legacy Christian Academy, a private school in Alamogordo, was arrested on Feb. 11 on six counts relating to sexual assault involving a child(link is external). Lavalais, 33 of Alamogordo, was charged with one count of criminal sexual penetration of a minor, three counts of criminal sexual contact of a minor and two counts of contributing to the delinquency of a minor, per court records.” By Nicole Maxwell, Alamogordo Daily News

Archdiocese of Santa Fe insurance records can be filed publicly
“A potential showdown over whether insurance documents related to coverage of clergy sex abuse claims filed against the Archdiocese of Santa Fe should be sealed fizzled Monday (Feb. 14) when lawyers for four companies voiced no objection to the records generally being filed publicly(link is external). How much insurance carriers will pay toward a settlement of nearly 400 claims filed by abuse survivors is one of the remaining obstacles to resolving the four-year-old archdiocese case in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Albuquerque.” By Colleen Heild, Albuquerque Journal

OHIO

Alleged victims of abuse at Parmadale orphanage have discussed counseling, restitution with Catholic leaders
“Decades-old abuse allegations against the Catholic Church came to the forefront Tuesday (Feb. 22). A national organization is lending its support to people who claim they endured severe abuse when they were children at the former Parmadale home for children(link is external) in Parma. Dr. Robert Hoatson and Carolyn Mason held a news conference Tuesday talking about her time at Parmadale in the 1960s. You might remember Carolyn from the News 5 investigation that broke the news of the claims of physical abuse against some nuns at Parmadale.” By ABC-TV5 News

TENNESSEE

Judge sentences former Catholic Sunday school teacher for abuse at Murfreesboro parish
“A Rutherford County judge sentenced Michael D. Lewis to 20 years in prison Monday (Feb. 14) after Lewis pleaded guilty to felony charges in the sexual abuse of a girl at a Catholic parish in Murfreesboro(link is external). Lewis pleaded to four counts of statutory rape, Class C felonies, all related to events that occurred between 2014 to 2016 when Lewis was the director for religious education at Saint Rose of Lima Catholic Church.” By Liam Adams, Nashville Tennessean

WISCONSIN

‘Dirty, disgusted, afraid’: Former Wisconsin police chief speaks about clergy abuse he faced as a child
“Zipping up his sleeping bag, a Sheboygan teen was restless, worrying about what was to come. ‘He’d go from sleeping bag to sleeping bag. I’d learn to flip over on my stomach so he couldn’t touch me.’ Former Germantown Police Chief, Peter Hoell, is speaking out publicly for the first time about the sexual abuse he faced as a teenager(link is external) in Sheboygan. More than four decades ago, Hoell says a Holy Name Parish Priest, William Effinger, sexually molested him several times, taking advantage of him and his friends by feeding them alcohol.” By Shaun Gallagher, WTJM-TV4 News

ARGENTINA

Argentine court hears testimony of porn on accused bishop’s phone, requests for ‘messages’
“On the second day of the trial against Argentine Bishop Gustavo Zanchetta over sexual abuse, a priest testified that he had porn on his phone(link is external), while a psychologist of one of the alleged victims testified that the bishops’ behavior ‘scared and intimidated him.’ As the trial began Monday (Feb. 21), Zanchetta, bishop emeritus of Orán, in northern Argentina, denied all charges of alleged sexual abuse.” By Inés San Martin, Cruxnow.com

AUSTRALIA

Retired bishop Zanchetta denies sex abuse claims at trial in Salta
“A retired Argentine bishop seen as close to the Pope, and who worked as an advisor for management of Vatican property, on Monday (Feb. 21) denied charges of sex abuse allegedly committed a decade ago(link is external). Gustavo Oscar Zanchetta, 57, appeared behind closed doors in the court of San Ramón de la Nueva Orán, where he was bishop from his appointment by Pope Francis in 2013 until his resignation in 2017.” By Agence France-Press in Buenos Aires Times

GERMANY

Munich report on sex abuse heightens Catholic Church divide over sexuality
“Supporters of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI rose to his defense in the past week after a report on decades of sexual abuse in his former archdiocese in Munich accused the retired pontiff of covering up and ignoring abuse by Catholic priests there. But some believe the defense of Benedict is less about his legacy and more about the deepening polarization in the Catholic Church and its approach to homosexuality and priestly celibacy(link is external), issues that are both now center stage in Germany.” By Claire Giangravé, Religion News Service

GREAT BRITAIN, SCOTLAND, AND WALES

Victim awarded £1.4m damages over abuse by monks
“A man who was abused by monks at a school in Fife run by Christian Brothers has secured £1.4m in damages(link is external). It is believed to be the highest sum ever to be awarded to a survivor. The victim was sexually assaulted and beaten by three Christian Brothers while staying at St Ninian’s School in Falkland in 1980 and 81. The man, who was named in courts as AB to protect his identity, said he hoped his award would inspire others in their quest for justice.” By BBC News

GUAM

Archbishop Byrnes, finance volunteer take the witness stand in payment case for abuse survivors
“Archbishop Michael Jude Byrnes and former Archdiocesan Finance Council President Richard Untalan on Monday (Feb. 21) took the witness stand in a trial that would determine whether the assets of Catholic parishes and schools could also be used to pay hundreds of survivors of alleged clergy sexual assaults(link is external). Byrnes acknowledged the position of the archdiocese that he, as archbishop of the Archdiocese of Agana, only holds the assets of schools and parishes in trust, for the benefit of schools and parishes.” By Haidee Eugenio Gilbert, The Guam Daily Post

Archdiocese makes case for hiring special counsel a week before trial on church assets to pay sex abuse claims
“The Archdiocese of Agana’s legal team on Friday (feb. 11) morning made the case to hire a special counsel, a week before the start of a trial on a lawsuit seeking to include the assets of Catholic parishes and schools to help pay clergy sex abuse claimants(link is external). U.S. District Court Chief Judge Frances Tydingco-Gatewood heard oral arguments from the archdiocese, the U.S. Trustee, and the creditors committee representing mostly abuse claimants in the archdiocese’s bankruptcy case. The judge is expected to soon issue a written order.” By Haidee Eugenio Gilbert, The Guam Daily Post

ITALY

Pressure groups demand Church in Italy submit to external sexual abuse inquiry
“Catholic groups on Tuesday (Feb. 15) accused Italy’s Church of an ‘institutional failure’ to confront clergy sexual abuse, and demanded an independent national inquiry mirroring ones conducted in France and Germany(link is external). A collective of nine groups – seven headed by women – issued the demand during the launch of a campaign called ‘Beyond the Great Silence’ and a hashtag, #ItalyChurchToo, inspired by the international #MeToo movement against sexual harassment.” By Philip Pullella, Reuters

NEW ZEALAND

Marylands School: Abuse in Care Inquiry unravels more mysteries
“Business has been brisk this past week at the Abuse in Care Royal Commission of Inquiry. The latest phase of the inquiry has looked at the historical wrongdoing that took place at the Marylands residential school and its co-located St Joseph’s orphanage(link is external) in Christchurch, as well as the nearby Hebron Trust facility. These residences were overseen by the Brothers Hospitaller of St John of God, a Catholic order known for its work with at-risk young people, including kids with learning disabilities – and rather too many of the 1680 reports of abuse against local Catholic clergy and workers from 1950 to the present day.” By Radio New Zealand

Archbishop accepts Catholic Church needs to take responsibility for historical abuse
“Catholic Archbishop Paul Martin accepts that survivors of abuse want the church to take responsibility and not just leave it to a particular order(link is external) that may have been involved. He made the comment at the Abuse in Care inquiry investigating historical abuse by the St John of God Order at Marylands School in Christchurch. The order ran the school between 1955 and 1984. Archbishop Martin said the culture at the time was wrong.” By Andrew McRae, Radio New Zealand

POLAND

Portugal: Church sex abuse panel unearths over 200 cases
“A lay committee looking into historic child sex abuse in the Portuguese Catholic Church(link is external) said Thursday (Feb. 10) that during its first month of work it received allegations from 214 people. The allegations are from people born between 1933 and 2006 and tell of psychological torment kept secret for decades, the Independent Committee for the Study of Child Abuse in the Church said. ‘This suffering is associated with feelings of shame, fear, guilt and self-exclusion, reinforcing the idea of lives where the sensation of ‘standing on the sidelines’ was always present,’ the committee said in a statement.” By Barry Hatton, Associated Press

SPAIN

Spain church pledges external probe into child abuse
“Spain’s Catholic Church said Monday (Feb. 21) a law firm would carry out an independent investigation into allegations of child abuse involving its clergy(link is external) as political pressure grows to hold an inquiry. The legal team will “open an independent channel” to receive complaints, review the legal procedures to punish criminal practices and help the authorities clarify the facts, the CEE Episcopal Conference, which groups Spain’s leading bishops, said in a statement.” By Agence France-Presse on newsinfor.inquirer,net

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1 Comment

Pope Francis reorganizes Vatican’s doctrinal office, creating department to handle abuse cases / National Catholic Reporter

The discipline section of the congregation will manage concerns related to the sexual abuse of minors and other ‘grave’ crimes.

National Catholic Reporter

“Pope Francis on Feb. 14 overhauled the current structure of the Vatican’s doctrinal office, creating an independent section to handle disciplinary matters related to the sexual abuse of minors. 

“Under its new structure, the office will operate with autonomous doctrinal and discipline sections that will be coordinated by separate secretaries, both of whom will report to the prefect of the congregation. 

“The new legislation, Fidem servare (‘To preserve the faith’), represents the most significant organizational changes to the office in over 30 years. 

“In announcing the new structure, which comes in advance of a much-anticipated new apostolic constitution that will reorganize the Vatican’s central bureaucracy, the Vatican did not announce any personnel changes at the congregation. 

“The office’s current prefect, Cardinal Luis Ladaria, is 77 years-old and has passed the Vatican’s traditional retirement age of 75. Last month, Francis reassigned the doctrinal office’s secretary, its number two official, to lead Italy’s Reggio Emilia-Guastalla Diocese, indicating the pope could soon remake the top leadership of the office in the near future.

By Christopher White, National Catholic Reporter — Read more …

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Voice of the Faithful Focus News Roundup

January 31, 2022

TOP STORIES

Report on sexual abuse in German diocese faults retired pope
“A long-awaited report on sexual abuse in Germany’s Munich diocese on Thursday (Jan. 20) faulted retired Pope Benedict XVI’s handling of four cases when he was archbishop in the 1970s and 1980s(link is external). The law firm that drew up the report said Benedict strongly denies any wrongdoing. The findings, though, were sure to reignite criticism of Benedict’s record more than a decade after the first, and until Thursday only, known case involving him was made public.” By Geir Moulson, Associated Press, on ABC-TV News

In first court testimony on abuse ever given by a German bishop, Hamburg archbishop admits to mistakes
“In the first testimony ever given by a German Catholic bishop in a court case on abuse, Hamburg Archbishop Stefan Hesse admitted having made mistakes(link is external) in the case of an offending priest on trial in the Cologne regional court. The German Catholic news agency KNA reported that Archbishop Hesse, 55, the former head of personnel in the Archdiocese of Cologne, was called as a witness in the case against the priest, who has only been named as U. He said the mistakes included that the allegations against the priest that became known in 2010 should have been reported to the Vatican.” By Catholic News Service in America: The Jesuit Review

Vatican includes group backing women’s ordination on website
“The Vatican has included a group that advocates for women’s ordination on a website promoting a two-year consultation of rank-and-file Catholics, indicating that Pope Francis wants to hear from all Catholics(link is external) during the process. The inclusion of the Women’s Ordination Conference on the website promoting the Vatican’s 2023 ‘synod,’ or meeting of bishops, is significant since the Vatican has long held the group at arm’s length. Catholic doctrine forbids the ordination of women as priests. In the run-up to the synod, the Vatican has asked dioceses, religious orders and other Catholic groups to embark on listening sessions so ordinary Catholics can talk about their needs and hopes for the church.” By Nicole Winfield, Associated Press, in National Catholic Reporter

For first time, Pope Francis installs women in two church ministries
“Pope Francis installed women as well as men from all over the world as catechists and lectors on Sunday (Jan. 23), marking a break with what had been church law reserving those ministries to men(link is external), even if women have performed those functions in many parts of the Catholic world for decades without the formal designation. Francis conferred the ministries during a celebration in St. Peter’s Basilica of the Sunday of the Word of God, which he instituted in 2019, to encourage among all Catholics an interest in knowing the sacred Scriptures and their central role in the life of the church and the Christian faith.” By Inés San Martin, Cruxnow.com

20 years after clergy sex-abuse scandal erupted: Reparation and rectification continures
As we mark the 20th anniversary of the beginning of the toxic avalanche of revelations about decades of clergy sexual abuse of minors in Boston and beyond, two headlines are clear(link is external). The first is the unfathomable scope of what had happened and remained hidden prior to that apocalypse: tens of thousands of victims, thousands of clerical molesters, hundreds of bishops and senior chancery officials who had covered up the abuse and transferred the abusers, and the entrenched culture of corruption that enabled all of it.” Commentary by Father Roger Landry in National Catholic Register

ACCOUNTABILITY

Father Zollner: Retired pope should make a personal statement on abuse report
“Following the publication of an experts’ report on how sexual abuse was handled in the Archdiocese of Munich and Freising, the German Catholic news agency KNA spoke to Jesuit Father Hans Zollner, a member of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors since its creation(link is external) and president of the Institute of Anthropology: Interdisciplinary Studies on Human Dignity and Care at Rome’s Pontifical Gregorian University.” By Catholic News Service on Cruxnow.com

Pope Benedict XVI knew of abusive priests when he ran Munich archdiocese, investigators say
Pope Benedict XVI knew about priests who abused children but failed to act when he was archbishop of Munich(link is external) from 1977 to 1982, an inquest found Thursday, rejecting Benedict’s long-standing denials in a damning judgment. “He was informed about the facts,” lawyer Martin Pusch said, as the Westpfahl Spilker Wastl law firm announced the findings of an investigation into historic sexual abuse at the Munich Archdiocese over several decades. The report was commissioned by the church itself.” By Rob Picheta, Claudia Otto and Nadine Schmidt, CNN

New Jersey is ‘impediment’ to McCarrick records release
“As New Jersey’s governor weighs the nomination of a new state attorney general, an ongoing investigation in the attorney general’s office has delayed the release of information about the activities of disgraced former cardinal Theodore McCarrick(link is external). But with appointment of a new attorney general, it is possible the investigation could come to a close, allowing New Jersey bishops to release diocesan records on McCarrick.” By The Pillar

FOR A SYNODAL CHURCH: COMMUNION, PARTICIPATION AND MISSION

Synodality and ecumenism require walking together, say cardinals
“All Christians are invited to pray for unity and continue to journey together, said Cardinals Mario Grech, general secretary of the Synod of the Bishops, and Cardinal Kurt Koch, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity. Toward that end, the two offices came together to offer a prayer, which could be added to the other intentions during the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity Jan. 18-25. Inspired by the theme of this year’s Week of Prayer, ‘We saw the star in the East, and we came to worship him,’ the prayer ‘offers a propitious occasion to pray with all Christians that the synod will proceed in an ecumenical spirit(link is external),’ the two cardinals said in a joint news release Jan. 17.” By Carol Glatz, Catholic News Service, in National Catholic Reporter

The ‘new evangelization’ has problems, but a synodal approach can help
“… The 2021-23 synod on synodality has asked us to create an intentional time to reflect together on becoming a more dialogical, loving and listening church. This is a true evangelical initiative, and possibly the answer to a lifetime of silent prayers spoken by all those who feel they need to turn their back on our church to find a deeper relationship with God(link is external). The synod is still scandalously on the backburner in many U.S. dioceses, but the parishes and dioceses that are thriving right now are those that are welcoming, loving and listening. In short, they are synodal: laity and clergy walking together, growing ever closer in friendship with one another and with Christ as they reach out to those on the margins and serve.” By Michael J. Sanem, National Catholic Reporter

POPE FRANCIS

Pope vows justice for abuse victims after Ratzinger faulted
“Pope Francis vowed Friday (Jan. 21) to provide justice to victims of clergy sexual abuse and German authorities called for further investigation(link is external) after an independent audit faulted retired Pope Benedict XVI for having botched four cases of abuse when he was archbishop of Munich, Germany. The fallout from the report continued to reverberate Friday as church officials digested the findings that a pope credited with having turned the Vatican around on the abuse issue had in fact mishandled cases earlier in his career.” By Nicole Winfield, Associated Press, in Religion News Service

BISHOPS

Spanish bishops meet with pope, vow to investigate sex abuse cases
“In the wake of a newspaper report revealing hundreds of allegations of sexual abuse in Spain, the country’s bishops assured Pope Francis that every diocese has established a commission that will investigate allegations of abuse(link is external). Speaking with journalists Jan. 14, Spanish Cardinal Juan José Omella of Barcelona, president of the Spanish bishops’ conference, said there are no plans to establish a single independent commission, as in Germany, France or neighboring Portugal, to conduct a nationwide investigation of the handling of cases past and present.” By Junno Arocho Esteves, Catholic News Service, in National Catholic Reporter

PRIESTS

New plans to improve treatment of clergy
“The Association of Catholic Priests has said it is hoping to work with the four archdioceses in the Irish Church to set up a structure to deal with priests’ complaints about bishops’ treatment of clergy(link is external). Spokesman for the ACP, Fr Tim Hazelwood, told the Tablet that what the association was asking for and working towards was establishing a system for engaging with the problems highlighted to the group by priests.” By Sarah Mac Donald, The Tablet

WOMEN’S VOICES

Women at the altar
“On January 23, 2022, Pope Francis installed several men and women to the lay ministries of lector and catechist. This might seem like a routine matter of Catholic practice, but in fact it represented an important change for the church(link is external): Francis altered canon law to state that ‘lay people’ rather than just ‘lay men’ can serve as lectors, or readers, at Mass, and as altar servers one year ago. In May, 2021, he created the entirely new ministry of catechist. Women had often been serving as lectors and catechists, but with this change in canon law, and with the papal installation at St. Peter’s Basilica, women are now officially recognized. That is an important development.” But does this mean women will soon be ordained?” By Phyllis Zagano, Sapientia

Women’s voices key to addressing clergy sexual abuse
“The final panel at a Jan. 20 webinar on clergy sex abuse brought together noted women leaders in the Catholic Church to share their perspectives on what might have been different in the church’s response to the abuse crisis(link is external) if women had ‘been given a seat at the table earlier in this process.’ The webinar, ‘Listening to the Voices of Survivors of Clergy Sexual Abuse,’ brought together investigators of past abuse, relatives of victims and those who counsel survivors. It was sponsored in part by Georgetown University.” By Mark Pattison, Catholic News Service, on UCANews.com

CHILD PROTECTION

Vatican child protection expert says prelates should apologize for abuse cover-up
“Those responsible for covering up abuse cases should be upfront and apologize, says a top Catholic expert on child protection and accountability. His comments come on the heels of a scathing report on sexual abuse in the Archdiocese of Munich, once headed by emeritus Pope Benedict XVI. ‘Everybody who is in a position of responsibility makes mistakes, nobody’s perfect, but people would understand if you apologize to them(link is external),’ said Jesuit Fr. Hans Zollner, a member of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, created by Pope Francis in 2014 to combat abuse in the church.” By Claire Giangravé, Religion News Service

VATICAN

Vatican defends Benedict after report faults abuse record
“The Vatican on Wednesday (Jan. 26) strongly defended Pope Benedict XVI’s record in fighting clergy sexual abuse and cautioned against looking for ‘easy scapegoats and summary judgments(link is external),’ after an independent report faulted his handling of four cases of abuse when he was archbishop of Munich, Germany. The Holy See’s editorial director, Andrea Tornielli, provided the Vatican’s first substantial response to the report in an editorial that appeared in the Vatican newspaper L’Osservatore Romano and its media portal, Vatican News. In it, Tornielli recalled that Benedict was the first pope to meet with victims of abuse, that he had issued strong norms to punish priests who raped children and had directed the church to pursue a path of humility in seeking forgiveness for the crimes of its clerics.” By Nicole Winfield, Associated Press

FUTURE OF THE CHURCH

Taizé, a musical monastic community, formed in response to a global crisis. Today, it faced new once: climate change and sex abuse
“This is Taizé, the ecumenical monastic community founded by Brother Roger Schütz in the 1940s as a parable of communion, a hope that if Christians from different countries and backgrounds could gather on a hill in rural France and pray together, then this might serve as a sign that reconciliation is possible(link is external) among churches and in the world. Brother Roger believed in the radical idea that little acts, like young people singing together in a church, really matter in history. That is what a parable does, after all—it points to a meaning larger than itself.” By Stephanie Saldaña, America: The Jesuit Review

Bishop says Amazon Synod did little to tackle sacramental crisis in region
“The sacramental situation was not resolved in the (Amazon) synod,” he said. ‘The pope didn’t want to assume the risk of fracturing the Church with openings that could have risked its unity. He was more concerned with the unity of the Church than the sacramentality of an answer.’ However, the bishop argued, ‘every theological study tells us that there is no Church without the Eucharist(link is external). The fact that it is not available makes us become a Protestant Catholic Church, because we lack the Eucharist and the other sacraments.’” By Inés San Martin, Cruxnow.com

VOICES

The root of Catholic priest abuse in Louisiana
“Catholicism, in what is now the 18th state of the Union, predates Louisiana’s statehood by nearly two centuries. Its culture, religion, and economy have all been deeply influenced by the Catholic Church which were first embedded in this multi-cultural state by Catholic France and Spain … In terms of understanding the history of Catholic priest abuse in the state(link is external), these factors must be taken into account.” By Los Angeles Injury Law News

Editorial: In penance for mishandled abuse cases, Benedict needs to give up ‘pope emeritus’
“In some ways, last week’s news was not particularly new: another independent report about sex abuse in the Catholic Church. We’ve had them from Pennsylvania, from France, and now from Germany’s Archdiocese of Munich-Freising, the latest with details of nearly 500 victims over 74 years. But this one is different, because among the bishops implicated in moving around offenders and covering up their abuse was a man who went on to become pope: then-archbishop, later Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger(link is external). The 1,900-page report, released Jan. 20 by a Munich law office after a two-year investigation, accuses Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI of mishandling at least four cases of sexual abuse by priests when he was archbishop in Munich.” By National Catholic Reporter Editorial Staff

The Irish Times view on clerical abuse: Benedict has questions to answer
“The evidence that the institutional culture of church cover-up, so vividly recorded in Ireland’s own inquiries into clerical abuse, goes right to the top(link is external) is shocking but perhaps not surprising. The attitude of many church leaders that “scandal” brought about by revelations of abuse is a more pressing concern, than the abuse itself, reflects a very traditional, unacceptable placing of the church above society and its common rules.” By Editorial Staff at The Irish Times

STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS

Sen. Lauren Arthur files legislation to help catch predators and achieve justice for survivors of childhood sexual abuse
“State Sen. Lauren Arthur, D-Kansas City, filed two pieces of legislation to help survivors of childhood sexual abuse seek justice through civil action(link is external), while strengthening the attorney general’s ability to investigate cases of sex trafficking and abuse. ‘In Missouri, no one should be above the law,’ Sen. Arthur said. ‘When an organization knowingly ignores or hides child sex abuse, they must be held accountable. Together, these bills will help survivors seek justice while also strengthening the criminal prosecution of abusers. I look forward to working with my colleagues to address the scourge of child sexual abuse in Missouri, and to help heal wounds that have been ignored for too long.’” By Senate.mo.gov

Church victims push to expand lawsuit window in Nebraska
“Victims of sexual abuse at the hands of Catholic priests urged Nebraska lawmakers on Friday (Jan. 21) to pass a law that would let people who were abused decades ago file lawsuits against the church(link is external) or other organizations that were negligent. The proposal comes on the heels of a Nebraska attorney general report that identified 258 victims who made credible abuse allegations against church officials, dating back decades. None of those cases, however, are expected to result in prosecutions or legal judgments because the statutes of limitation for both criminal charges and civil lawsuits have expired.” By Grant Schulte, Associated Press

Louisiana becomes the latest of 22 states to open a ‘Lookback Window’ for childhood sex abuse
“‘The scars of childhood sexual abuse may stay with survivors long-term and they deserve more time to report these devastating crimes,’ stated Christina Step, spokeswoman for Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards. This came in August, 2021 at the signing of Louisiana House Bill 492 when lawmakers unanimously approved the current bill that removes deadlines for child sex abuse victims to pursue damages in civil court(link is external). The bill also created a three-year window where all unresolved child molestation claims — no matter how old — can be pursued in civil court.” By LosAngelesLegalExaminer.com

New Colorado law gives sex abuse survivors new option in court
“The first civil case has been filed under a Colorado law that took effect on the Jan. 1, 2022 allowing survivors can sue alleged perpetrators for cases going back to 1960(link is external). It was 1977, before and during a river rafting trip in which a then-teenage girl says she was sexually assaulted by a teacher from a private school. ‘I immediately buried it. It was too overwhelming for me to handle at my age, and I didn’t tell anyone except a Catholic priest who I confessed it to,’ Kate McPhee, now living in Vermont, told CBS4.” By CBS-TV4 News

CLERGY SEXUAL ABUSE

Infographic: Annual audit tracks increase in allegations of historic abuse incidents
“The latest annual audit of children protection sponsored by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Secretariat of Child and Youth Protection, released the same day Father McWilliams was sentenced (Nov. 9, 2021), reported that more than 4,200 allegations of sexual abuse by clergy were made between July 1, 2019, and June 30, 2020(link is external). The annual audit tracks not only new charges of abuse but also how well U.S. dioceses and eparchies are observing child protection protocols established in 2002 by the U.S.C.C.B. in accordance with its “Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People.” By Staff at America: The Jesuit Review

ILLINOIS

Retired Chicago-area priest facing allegations of sexually abusing a minor four decades ago
“ A retired Chicago-area priest is accused of sexually abusing a mino(link is external)r. The Archdiocese of Chicago has ordered Father James McIlhone to step aside from ministry and leave St. Edward Parish, where he lives in retirement. The allegations date back 40 years to when McIlhone served as associate pastor at Santa Maria Del Popolo Parish in Mundelein. The Archdioceses says the accusations have been reported to the Lake County State’s Attorney, and there will be a full investigation.” By CBS-TV2 News

KANSAS

Wichita priest won’t be charged with child sexual abuse
“A Roman Catholic priest who was accused of sexual exploitation of a child will not be charged(link is external) because the statute of limitations has ended, Sedgwick County District Attorney Marc Bennett said Wednesday (Jan. 26). The Catholic Diocese of Wichita placed Rev. Michael Schemm on administrative leave last November after it received an allegation against him.” By Associated Press in U.S. News & World Report

MICHIGAN

Former priest from Oakland, Wayne sentenced for sexual abuse of teenagers
“A former priest from Oakland and Wayne counties has been sentenced to prison for sexually abusing teenagers(link is external). Gary Berthiaume, 79, was sent to trial in July on two counts of second-degree criminal sexual conduct. He pleaded guilty to those counts in November but pleaded no contest to a third charge of gross indecency, according to authorities. He was also charged in two new cases in June. The charges stem from allegations of abuse in the 1970s, while Berthiaume was a priest at St. Joseph Catholic Church in Wyandotte and later Our Lady of Sorrows in Farmington, officials said.” By Derick Hutchinson, ClickonDetroit.com

NEBRASKA

Omaha priest, linked to sex abuse cases, facing more jail time for suspected thefts
“More potential jail time for a once high-ranking Omaha priest charged in two separate theft cases and also linked to several other priests named in a recent state investigation of widespread sexual abuse by Catholic clergy(link is external). Already facing up to 24 years in prison for allegedly stealing thousands in Douglas County, Father Michael Gutgsell now faces another 20 years for a second suspected theft case, this one in Sarpy County. The 73-year-old former Chancellor in the Omaha Archdiocese is accused of stealing $96,000 from Saint Joseph Church in Springfield, Gutgsell’s last church assignment.” By Joe Jordan, Nebraska News Channel

NEW MEXICO

Alamogordo clergy sex abuse case moves forward, trial set for July 11
“A motion to drop racketeering charges was denied in a lawsuit filed by a man alleging he was sexually assaulted by a Catholic priest in Alamogordo(link is external) in the 1970s. The suit was filed by a clergy sexual abuse survivor listed as John Doe who alleged Father David Holley sexually assaulted him while Holley lived in Alamogordo, and sued Servants of the Paraclete’s, the Roman Catholic Dioceses of Las Cruces, El Paso and Worcester, Massachusetts and Alamogordo parishes Immaculate Conception Parish and St. Jude Parish.” By Nicole Maxwell, Alamogordo Daily News

OKLAHOMA

‘We were all children.’ What we know about allegations of sexual abuse of students at Mount St. Mary
“Multiple former students at Mount St. Mary Catholic High School in Oklahoma City have accused top administrators, including former principal Talita DeNegri, of dismissing their reports of sexual abuse by other students(link is external). The story was detailed in an exclusive report by The Oklahoman. In the wake of the allegations DeNegri resigned and the school is bolstering its policies and procedures related to mandatory reporting of abuse. However, alumni are demanding more answers from the school’s Board of Trustees.” By Josh Dulaney, The Oklahoman

WISCONSIN

‘This is criminal evidence’: Advocates deliver boxes of documents regarding clergy abuse to attorney general
“An advocacy group has turned over thousands of pages of documents from the five Wisconsin Catholic dioceses it says demonstrate a systemic coverup of sexual abuse by clergy members(link is external). Nate’s Mission, an advocacy group aimed at ending clergy abuse in Wisconsin, handed the documents over to Wisconsin Attorney General Josh Kaul on Tuesday (Jan. 18), in a move to further the investigation launched last year into abusive clergy and the coverup of abuse by Catholic dioceses.” By Laura Schulte, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

FRANCE

French Catholic Church raises 20mn euros for sex abuse victims
“Catholic dioceses in France have raised 20 million euros ($22.6 million) to compensate thousands of victims of historical child sexual abuse by clergy(link is external), the fund in charge of raising the money said Tuesday (Jan. 25). Church officials have been under intense pressure to recognize and compensate victims after a landmark French inquiry confirmed widespread abuse of minors by priests, deacons and lay members of the Church dating from the 1950s. ‘It’s a first step. The Church has followed through on its commitment,’ the president of the Selam fund, Gilles Vermot-Desroches, told AFP after its board met on Monday (Jun. 24).” By Agence France-Press on DeccanHerald.com

GERMANY

Child abuse scandal: Germany’s Catholic Church fights for its future
“A perfect blue sky hangs over Aachen Cathedral. The crisp winter sunlight illuminates more than 12 centuries of church history, constructed on Charlemagne’s orders and the site of coronations of dozens of Germany’s kings and queens. But all is far from well behind the ornate facade here in the city on Germany’s western border with Belgium and the Netherlands(link is external). In his Sunday sermon, Aachen Bishop Helmut Dieser spoke of wrath and disappointment, outrage and dismay, suffering and doubt.” By Deutsche Welle

INDIA

Mumbai priest’s conviction for child abuse sparks debate on church procedures for victim protection
“On December 29, a special judge of a court set up under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act convicted Roman Catholic priest Lawrence Johnson for sexually assaulting a minor boy(link is external). The case highlights how church authorities failed to follow both the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act and rules set by the state and church Canon Law for victim protection. Human rights activists and women’s rights organizations within the Catholic community have criticized the manner in which the rights of victims are routinely negated and abusers are shielded or supported on the pretext of “maintaining neutrality” or that the matter is sub judice.” By Flavia Agnes, Scroll.in

Bishop’s acquittal: Kerala court questions nun’s ‘conduct,’ ignores change in law on rape
“From notions of how an ideal victim must behave to theories of possible enemies within the system plotting against the accused; speculation that the complainant could have had an affair with a married man to an earlier, narrower definition of rape. These are some of the key factors behind the Kerala court’s acquittal of Franco Mulakkal, the former Jalandhar Bishop of the Catholic Church, of all charges in the alleged rape of a nun(link is external).” By Apurva Vishwanath, The Indian Express

INDONESIA

Indonesia jails ‘Catholic brother’ for molesting boys
“An Indonesian court has sentenced a ‘Catholic brother’ to 14 years in jail for sexually assaulting boys at an orphanage near capital Jakarta(link is external). Lukas ‘Lucky’ Ngalngola, also known as Brother Angelo, was convicted by Depok District Court on Jan. 20 for threatening violence and committing lewd acts on at least three children. He was also ordered to pay a fine of 100 million rupiah (US$6,990). Ngalngola claimed to be a member of the Blessed Sacrament Missionaries of Charity (BSMC), an obscure order based in the Philippines.’ By Katharina R. Lestari, UCANews.com

Indonesia sees spike in sexual abuse of children
“Sexual violence committed against children in Indonesia almost tripled in 2021, but true figures remain elusive because of a tendency not to report such crimes and cover them up(link is external), according to an agency dedicated to protecting victims. The Witness and Victim Protection Agency (LPKS) said it recorded 288 complaints last year, a sharp increase on the 107 recorded in 2020. ‘At least 65.7 percent of these 288 incidents took place in schools,’ Edwin Partogi Pasaribu, an agency spokesman, said on Jan. 16.” By Konradus Epa, UCANews.com

POLAND

Polish diocese apologizes for asking if abuse victim is gay
“A Catholic diocese in Poland apologized on Thursday (Jan. 13) for having asked a court to determine whether a man who was sexually abused as a child by a priest is gay(link is external), and whether the sexual contact may have consequently been pleasurable for him. Following wide criticism, the Bielsko-Zywiec diocese said that its letter to the court should not have included questions about the victim’s sexuality or have suggested that he drew pleasure from contact with the priest. The diocese dispatched the letter in response to a lawsuit by the victim, Janusz Szymik.” By Vanessa Gera, Associated Press, in U.S. News & World Report

PORTUGAL

Portuguese abuse commission begins work investigating ‘deep pain and suffering’
“A week into the year-long independent anti-abuse commission convened by the Catholic Church in Portugal, 102 allegations had been mad(link is external)e. In a statement released to the Lusa Portuguese news agency, child psychiatrist Pedro Strecht, the coordinator of the independent abuse commission, said that the 102 testimonies received thus far, contain ‘moments of deep pain and suffering.’ The testimonies were received either online or via phone call. The Independent Commission for the Study of Sexual Abuse in the Portuguese Catholic Church is collecting complaints from victims of cases that have occurred since 1950, which may be referred to the police.” By Inés San Martin, Cruxnow.com

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