Posts Tagged roman catholic church

‘The deep heart’s core’: Faith of lay people will guide Catholic Church for uncertain future

So why am I still hanging in there? That is a question I struggle to answer except, to say, borrowing a few words from Yeats, that there is something I feel “in the deep heart’s core” which doesn’t allow me to walk away just yet.

Patricia Melvin, The Irish Times

“I am torn. A rather negative starting point I must confess, but let me elaborate. On the one hand I hear the echoing voices of my now adult children expressing, rather vehemently, their incredulity that a woman they deem intelligent continues to be involved with the Catholic Church.

“It is an institution which has become irrelevant in their lives. They repeatedly describe it to me as misogynistic, homophobic, abusive and money-grabbing. I understand where they are coming from and find myself sadly in agreement with their analysis.

“So why am I still hanging in there? That is a question I struggle to answer except, to say, borrowing a few words from Yeats, that there is something I feel ‘in the deep heart’s core’ which doesn’t allow me to walk away just yet.

“And so, I have found myself involved in a process in the Killala diocese called Placing Hope in Faith. This listening exercise was initiated by clergy and completed well before the synodal process, now under way in the Catholic Church worldwide, began.”

By Patricia Melvin, The Irish Times — Read more …

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Voice of the Faithful Focus News Roundup

November 23, 2021

TOP STORIES

New report on abuse shows ‘need for continued commitment and diligence’
“The 18th annual report on U.S. diocesan and eparchial compliance with the 2002 Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People found a total of 4,250 clergy sex abuse allegations for the 2019-2020 audit year, about two-thirds of which stem from lawsuits, compensation programs and bankruptcies … ‘Though the Church’s efforts are admirable, constant vigilance is still required and the commitment of the clergy and lay faithful remains necessary(link is external),’ he (Deacon Bernie Nojadera, USCCB Secretariat of Child and Youth Protection executive director) wrote. ‘The efforts of the Church will hopefully change the culture, and this will only work if everyone follows the rules.’” By John Lavenburg, Cruxnow.com

Portugal’s Catholic bishops announce independent child sexual abuse commission
“Portugal’s Roman Catholic Church said on Thursday (Nov. 11) it would create an independent commission to investigate historical child sexual abuse allegedly committed by members of the clergy(link is external) following pressure from prominent congregants to lift a veil of silence around the issue. Portugal’s Bishops’ Conference said in a statement that it decided to create the commission to improve the way cases are handled and to ‘carry out a study to clarify the history of this serious issue.’” By Catarina Demony and Sergio Goncalves, Reuters

French clerical abuse report puts spotlight on confession
“The absolute secrecy of confession is central to the Roman Catholic faith. What is said in confession is between a penitent and God, the priest a mediator. Any priest who breaks that seal can face excommunication under church laws that the Vatican places above all others. But what happens when what is confessed is a violation of the laws of the state?(link is external) It is an issue that has vexed attempts to address the sexual abuse cases that have roiled the church in any number of countries, but one that has emerged as especially charged in France, where the state long ago stripped the Catholic Church of its pre-eminence.” By Norimitsu Onishi and Aurelien Breeden, The New York Times

Nebraska AG finds 258 victims of Catholic church sex abuse
“A Nebraska attorney general’s office investigation identified 258 victims who made credible allegations of sexual abuse against 57 Catholic church officials(link is external) in the state going back decades, including many that high-ranking church leaders knew about and didn’t report to the authorities, according to a report released Thursday (No. 4). Prosecutors can’t charge against any current or former church officials with a crime because the statutes of limitations have expired in the vast majority of cases, Attorney General Doug Peterson said at a news conference announcing the findings.” By Grant Schulte, Associated Press, on Cruxnow.com

Sex abuse survivors urge bishops to denounce Church Militant’s agenda
“On the first of two days of public sessions during the U.S. bishops’ fall general assembly, a group of sex abuse survivors in a Nov. 16 news conference called on the prelates meeting in Baltimore to focus less on who can take Communion and instead do more to end sex abuse and other abuses by clergy(link is external). The survivors also demanded the bishops condemn a group that was holding a nearby protest claiming homosexuality is linked to pedophilia.” By Rhino Guidos, Catholic News Service, in National Catholic Reporter

Bishops agree to begin review of charter earlier than planned
“An update on the U.S. bishops’ ‘Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People’ will take place sooner than originally planned. On Nov. 17, the second of two days of public sessions during their fall general assembly Nov. 15-18 in Baltimore, the bishops voted to begin the process of updating the charter in 2022 rather than in 2025(link is external). The vote was 230 bishops in favor of the plan and five bishops against it. Bishop James V. Johnston Jr. of Kansas City-St. Joseph, Missouri, chairman of the Committee on the Protection of Children and Young People, told the bishops that events in recent years made it necessary to start the review sooner than expected.” By Dennis Sadowski, Catholic News Service

ACCOUNTABILITY

French Church admits sexual abuse responsibility
“The French episcopate, shaken by a report’s estimates of widespread sexual abuse within the Church, has admitted its institutional responsibility for the scandal and called on the Vatican and outside experts asked to help it reform(link is external). The French bishops’ conference, at its autumn plenary session in Lourdes, said it will name nine lay-led working groups to formulate responses to the main proposals of the independent commission’s report. They will be staffed by lay people, clerics and victims.” By Tom Heneghan, The Tablet

French bishops agree to compensate sex abuse victims
“France’s Catholic Church announced on Monday (Nov. 8) that it would financially compensate sex abuse victims by selling property assets or taking out a loan if needed(link is external). French bishops said in a written statement they will set up an ‘independent, national body’ tasked with addressing compensation issues. They committed to allocating money to a specific fund ‘in order to compensate victims,’ notably by selling property or through a potential loan. They also called on Pope Francis to send ‘a team of visitors’ to assess the church’s response regarding child protection.” By Associated Press

FOR A SYNODAL CHURCH: COMMUNION, PARTICIPATION AND MISSION

Joint letter of Cardinals Koch and Grech to bishops responsible for ecumenism calls on bishops to listen to non-Catholic Christians during the synodal process
“In a joint letter of 28 October 2021, Cardinal Kurt Koch, President of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, and Cardinal Mario Grech, General Secretary of the Synod of Bishops, addressed the Bishops responsible for ecumenism in their Episcopal Conferences and Synods of the Oriental Catholic Churches. In the letter, the two Cardinals offer practical suggestions aimed at implementing the ecumenical dimension of the synodal process in Dioceses, Episcopal Conferences, and Synods(link is external). The Vademecum for the Synod affirms: ‘The dialogue between Christians of different confessions, united by one baptism, has a special place in the synodal journey’ (5.3.7).” By Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, on ChristianUnity.va

POPE FRANCIS

Francis appoints first female secretary-general
“Pope Francis has appointed the first female secretary-general of Vatican City State(link is external), choosing Franciscan Sister of the Eucharist Raffaela Petrini for the role. Sr Raffaella, 52, is the first woman to be appointed as the number two official at the Vatican City State administration, a position that has traditionally been held by a bishop. She becomes the highest-ranking woman official in the Vatican. Sr Rafaella’s role gives her a pivotal role in the governance of the city-state which includes the Vatican’s museums, police, department for health, post office and pharmacy.” By CathNews.com

BISHOPS

Catholic bishops avoid confrontation with Biden over communion
“The Roman Catholic bishops of the United States backed away from a direct conflict with President Biden on Wednesday (Nov. 17), approving a new document on the sacrament of the Eucharist that does not mention the president or any politicians by name(link is external). At issue was the question of which Catholics, under which circumstances, are properly able to receive Communion, one of the most sacred rites within Christianity. For some conservative Catholics, the real question was more pointed: Should Catholic politicians who publicly support and advance abortion rights be denied the sacrament?” By Ruth Graham, The New York Times

Opening bishops’ meeting, Vatican ambassador urges prelates to tamp down divisons
“The Vatican’s ambassador to the U.S. urged the country’s Catholic bishops on Nov. 16 to try to tamp down divisions among themselves and to embrace Pope Francis’ vision for a listening church(link is external), open to change. In an energetic half-hour address opening the first general session of the bishops’ four-day assembly, Archbishop Christophe Pierre told the prelates gathered here that the church needs ‘attentive listening more than ever if she is to overcome the polarization facing this country.’ Although Pierre did not specifically mention the bishops’ plans to release a controversial document on Communion, he appeared to touch on the intense disagreements among the prelates in recent months about the text.” By Brian Fraga, National Catholic Reporter

These five U.S. bishops may be in the spotlight for years to come
“‘My impression continues to be that the most important prelates in the United States have more or less given up on the USCCB,’ said (Massimo) Faggioli (church historian and professor of theology and religious studies at Villanova University), who suggested that the bishops’ conference today is ‘in the hands’ of prelates who are ‘out of sync’ with Francis … Among the nominees for election (to USCCB standing committees) in Baltimore are five bishops who appear to be among ‘rising stars’ of the national conference(link is external). Some are known for prioritizing similar issues as Francis, such as immigration, economic injustice, climate change and reaching out to those on the margins. Others have not been always known for emphasizing issues favored by the pope.” By Brian Fraga, National Catholic Reporter

Sadly, the U.S. bishops’ conference is a ghost of its former self
“Now, the bishops’ conference is like a ghost of its former self(link is external). In 2012, they failed to pass(link is external) a document on poverty. In 2018, the Vatican had to intervene at the last minute and ban voting(link is external) on a series of action items related to clergy sex abuse, a public rebuke of the conference leadership without precedent. This week, if they vote to approve this document on the Eucharist it will not be because the text is good but because its mediocrity does not offend. How sad.” By Michael Sean Winters, National Catholic Reporter

Bishops’ visits to Rome unable to quell crisis in Polish church
“For the first time in seven years, nearly all Poland’s Catholic bishops went to Rome last month for formal meetings with Pope Francis and Vatican officials. Although most of the prelates expressed satisfaction with the encounters, they also hinted that there had been some frank exchanges over the pope’s handling of the country’s sex abuse crisis. An unprecedented 10 Polish bishops, mostly retired, have been sanctioned in various ways in recent months for ignoring abuse complaints(link is external). ‘The pope knows how important the Polish church is,’ said Fr. Piotr Mazurkiewicz, a Polish theologian and former secretary-general of the Brussels-based Commission of European Union Bishops’ Conferences (COMECE).” By Jonathan Luxmoore, Catholic News Service, National Catholic Reporter

Mexico bishops investigated over abuse cover-up allegations
Twelve bishops in Mexico are being investigated for covering up the abuse of minors and vulnerable adults(link is external), although no conclusions have so far been reached, the Vatican ambassador to the South America nation has revealed. Archbishop Franco Coppola, the Apostolic Nuncio to Mexico, said that some of the investigations, carried out on the basis of new norms established by Pope Francis, have been referred to the Vatican itself.” By Madoc Cairns, The Tablet

Bishops’ visits to Rome unable to quell crisis of Polish church
“For the first time in seven years, nearly all Poland’s Catholic bishops went to Rome last month for formal meetings with Pope Francis and Vatican officials. Although most of the prelates expressed satisfaction with the encounters, they also hinted that there had been some frank exchanges over the pope’s handling of the country’s sex abuse crisis(link is external). An unprecedented 10 Polish bishops, mostly retired, have been sanctioned in various ways in recent months for ignoring abuse complaints.” By Jonathan Luxmore, National Catholic Reporter

PRIESTS

Dear Bishops: We need to talk about the crisis of despair in Catholic priests
“The U.S. bishops are meeting this week (Nov. 15-18) in Washington. And amid all the stories about a document on the Eucharist and other matters that they will discuss, you would be forgiven if you didn’t catch word of the results of a survey of clergy released Nov. 2; it found that over half of U.S. priests are pessimistic about the state of the church(link is external). Fifty-one percent indicated the church is in ‘not so good’ shape, and another 13 percent described it as ‘poor.’” By Jim McDermott, America: The Jesuit Review

CHURCH FINANCES

Parishioners at Catholic church in Louisville sue longtime priest, alleged wrongful use of money
“A civil lawsuit filed in Jefferson County alleges a Louisville priest, Rev. Anthony Ngo, wrongfully used church money by converting funds donated to the parish for his personal use(link is external) … Ngo has been the pastor at St. John Vianney’s for more than two decades. He denies he did anything wrong. Members of his former parish council and the parish’s former music director filed the lawsuit.” By Rachel Droze WHAS-TV11 News

Yes, honest to God, Vatican finance stories matter
“It’s only Tuesday (Nov. 9), but I’ve already got a candidate for the Vatican soundbite of the week. It came in a piece in the Financial Times, quoting an unidentified expert on the London real estate market on news that the Vatican is selling a property in the posh Chelsea neighborhood for $270 million, representing roughly a $130 million loss on its original investment of $400 million. ‘I couldn’t quite understand how they [the Vatican] had lost money on it(link is external),’ the expert said, referring to the well-known fact that losing money on real estate in London is hard to do – unless, it turns out, you’re the Vatican’s Secretariat of State.” By John L. Allen, Cruxnow.com

Vatican to lose £100m of charitable funds in London property sale
“The Vatican City will suffer a loss of £ 100 million in donations to the poor(link is external) when it completes the pending sale of its luxurious London office building, which is now the center of international criminal investigations. According to some people familiar with the process, the Vatican City is in the final stages of selling 60 Sloane Avenue, a building in London’s Knightsbridge district, to private equity group Bain Capital for about £ 200 million. Both Bain Capital and Savills, which manages the sale, declined to comment. The Vatican City states that between 2014 and 2018, senior Holy See officials invested a total of € 350 million in donations to the London building. In short, the sale is expected to confirm a loss of approximately £ 100 million in the Catholic Church.” By California News Times

VOICES

Catholic leaders have to be defenders of children
“Shame, anguish and anger at child sexual abuse in the Church should lead to a devoted commitment to eradicate abuse everywhere. This active stance has to be the primary focus of society and of the Church and every individual member(link is external). Jesus of Nazareth said the child is the most important of all. If we continue to fail children, we fail Christ. The established institutional Church and many members — lay people and priests — have spectacularly failed to care, protect, help, support and compensate innocent vulnerable children for heinous crimes against them. Many of the bishops, priests and lay people have over the years, denied, covered up, transferred abusive priests, lied and forced child victims to shut up.” By Fr. Shay Cullen, The Manila Times

‘The Church must be political’: an interview with Bishop John Stowe
“Bishop John Stowe, OFM Conv., was ordained as the third bishop of the Diocese of Lexington, Kentucky, in May 2015. The following interview was conducted by email. John Gehring: What would you like to see come out of the upcoming meeting of the U.S. bishops (Nov. 15-18)? Bishop John Stowe: My hopes for the USCCB meeting are probably unrealistic, but I would love to see us as a conference modeling the synodal path that the Church has embarked upon(link is external). I would like to see real discernment, serious discussion, and prayerful listening before publishing a letter as important as a teaching document on the Eucharist.” By John Gehring, Commonweal

CLERGY SEXUAL ABUSE

Italian bishops mark first day of prayer for abuse victims
“As the Catholic Church in Italy still reels from several fresh scandals involving clergy, the country’s bishops on Thursday (Nov. 18) will be hold the first-ever Day of Prayer and Awareness for victims and survivors of sexual abuse(link is external). ‘We cannot forget the suffering experienced by minors and vulnerable people due to the abuses of power, conscience, and sexuality committed by a considerable number of clerics and consecrated persons,’ said Bishop Lorenzo Ghizzoni of Ravenna-Cervia in the introduction for one of the formal prayers prepared for Thursday.” By Elise Ann Allen, Cruxnow.com

Church shores up ability to support survivors
“A capital injection from Catholic dioceses and religious orders has strengthened the ability of Catholic Church Insurance and the Church to make financial reparations for abuse carried out by priests, religious and lay people(link is external). Catholic Church Insurance (CCI), which has been supporting Catholic parishes, schools, community services and other ministries for more than 100 years, last year reported that recent and projected compensation claims for historical abuse had necessitated an increase in the company’s capital levels. Eighteen current CCI shareholders contributed to a capital injection earlier this year, which solidifies the broader insurance business, but especially the historical abuse claims that CCI covers.” By CathNews.com

CONNECTICUT

Priest abuse victims oppose diocese actions in bankruptcy case
“The committee that represents people who say they have been sexually assaulted by priests and other members of the Diocese of Norwich have filed a motion in federal bankruptcy court opposing the Catholic diocese’s attempt to prohibit victims from filing claims(link is external) after Feb. 10, 2022. The claimants’ committee, which is being represented by the Bridgeport law firm of Zeisler and Zeisler, wants a 120-day window from the date that a plan advertising the deadline, otherwise known as the bar date, is approved by Judge James Tancredi, as opposed to the 90-day window being requested by the diocese.” By Joe Wojtas, The Day

ILLINOIS

Catholic order found California abuse complaint credible, then moved priest to Chicago
“The Rev. Timothy Keppel was overseeing two parishes near San Bernardino, Calif., when a man told the diocese there that, while in his teens, he’d been repeatedly sexually abused by the priest(link is external). The abuse happened decades earlier, he said. And Keppel was never charged with a crime. But the Resurrectionist religious order of Catholic priests, brothers and deacons that Keppel belongs to determined the accusations were credible.” By Robert Herguth, Chicago Sun-Times

MARYLAND

Former priest Robert Brennan, a Maryland resident, pleads guilty to lying to agents investigating clergy abuse
“ A defrocked priest pleaded guilty Wednesday (Nov. 10) to four counts of making false statements to FBI agents investigating clergy abuse(link is external). Former Philadelphia priest Robert Brennan, 83, changed his plea to guilty Wednesday in federal court, according to court documents. The charges stem from a federal investigation undertaken after Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro released an explosive 2018 grand jury report on abuse in the state’s Roman Catholic dioceses that detailed decades of abuse by more than 300 priests against nearly 1,000 victims across the state.” By Associated Press in The Baltimore Sun

MASSACHUSETTS

Boston Archdiocese settles two new lawsuits alleging sexual abuse by priests
“Two lawsuits filed this month alleging sexual abuse of children by Catholic priests(link is external), one of whom was based in Milton, were settled on Friday (Nov. 12) for undisclosed sums. Lawyer Mitchell Garabedian said the lawsuits each settled in the ‘high five figures.’ One of the lawsuits was filed against the Boston archdiocese and the Missionary Society of St. Columban in Milton, which hosted Irish priest Brian Gallagher, who died in 2014. The lawsuit also named the Rev. John K. Connell, who died in 2007.” By Wheeler Cowperthwaite, The Patriot Ledger

MICHIGAN

Attorney general gives update on clergy sex abuse cases
“A former priest in Oakland County has pleaded guilty to sex abuse(link is external), Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel announced today. Gary Berthiaume, 79, was sent to trial in July by Judge James Brady in Oakland County’s 47th District Court on two counts of second-degree criminal sexual conduct, 15-year felonies. That development involved the original case against him, which was charged last year. In June, Berthiaume was charged with additional felonies in two new cases. Both cases were sent to trial by the end of September.” By Jack Hall, RadioResultsNetwork.com

MISSOURI

Kansas City man encourages others who’ve been sexually assaulted to ‘tell their story’
“‘We need to hold each other up,’ says one Kansas City man who was assaulted by his priest. Others tell their stories in a new Netflix documentary shot in Kansas City. Brian Heydon was sexually assaulted as a kid. Now a licensed counselor in Kansas City, Heydon grew up in a Catholic family. In the 1960s and ’70s, he said, the religion was a place for child predators to thrive(link is external).” By KCUR-FM National Public Radio

NEBRASKA

Nebraska investigation: Catholic clergy sexually abused hundreds of victims
“Nebraska’s attorney general conducted an investigation that found that Catholic clergy in that state sexually abused hundreds of victims, but the offenders can’t be prosecuted(link is external). And Peterson says by no means did his office find every victim or abuser. In the three-year investigation released Thursday, the office found evidence of 57 abusers, few of whom are still alive. Investigators found evidence that the church knew about the assaults and didn’t properly report them to law enforcement. Peterson had this message for church leaders. Nebraska Public Media’s Will Bauer explains why that is.” By Will Bauer, National Public Radio

NEW JERSEY

More than 850 sexual abuse lawsuits have been filed as deadline approaches for past claims
“Since it (24-month window on abuse suits) took effect, 880 cases involving individuals with claims that would have been time barred but for the new law have been filed(link is external) through Sept. 30, according to the state Administrative Office of the Courts. Most of those cases, 62.2%, named a cleric and/or religious institution as a defendant. Schools accounted for 15.5% of the lawsuits and the Boy Scouts of America was named in 11.3% of the cases. State Sen. Joseph Vitale, D-Middlesex, who championed the legislation despite years of pushback, said those numbers should be much higher, and said the window for filing civil lawsuits should stay open.” By Ted Sherman, NJ Advance Media for NJ.com

NEW YORK.

Elderly Buffalo priest accused of abuse denies claim, prays for accuser
“At age 87, Monsignor Ronald P. Sciera might not have much time left to clear his name of the child sexual abuse allegation lodged against him(link is external) in an August lawsuit. But the priest of 60 years said his reputation is not his main concern.’ I have to answer to God,’ he said. ‘I have a hope that justice will be served, and the truth will come to light.’ An unnamed plaintiff alleges Sciera molested him nearly five decades ago at St. Aloysius Gonzaga parish in Cheektowaga.” By Jay Tokasz, The Buffalo News

OHIO

‘Cunning, calculating and extremely cruel’: Sentencing nears for disgraced priest
“A disgraced Catholic priest, convicted of sex trafficking in minors and various child pornography charges, will be sentenced(link is external) next Tuesday (Nov. 9) by a federal judge. Prosecutors said Robert McWilliams led a double life. While professing his belief in Christianity at St. Joseph Catholic Church in Strongsville and St. Helen’s Church in Newbury Township, Father McWilliams was using fake identifies and technology to hide his abuse of children and secret criminal lifestyle.” By Jack Shea, FOX-TV8 News

Priest who served in North Canton placed on leave
“A Catholic Diocese of Youngstown priest has been placed on administrative leave pending an investigation of allegations involving a minor(link is external). The Rev. Marian Babjak serves as pastor of Christ Our Savior Catholic Church in Struthers. He previously served at St. Paul Catholic Parish in North Canton. Babjak was parochial vicar and associate pastor at St. Paul starting in 2017, where he served until 2020 when he was appointed to Christ Our Savior parish in Struthers.” By Charita Ml Goshay, The Repository, on The-Review.com

PENNSYLVANIA

Philly priest sexually abused a teen at Cardinal Dougherty High and on a shore trip decades ago
“A Philadelphia priest who was on the faculty at Cardinal Dougherty High School in the 1980s sexually abused a teen there and also took the boy on a trip to Margate, where he served him alcohol and assaulted him(link is external), according to a lawsuit filed in Atlantic County Superior Court.

The Rev. Peter Foley sexually assaulted the boy, then 16, on a trip to the Shore in 1981 and also at the school, where they worked together on student council, the suit says.” By Menasah M. Dean, The Philadelphia Inquirer

RHODE ISLAND

Former Rhode Island priest charged with sexual assaults going back to 1989
“A former Rhode Island Catholic priest has been indicted on sexual assault charges. James Silva, 81, is charged with two counts of first-degree child molestation sexual assault and nine counts of second-degree child molestation sexual assault(link is external). He was charged after an investigation by the state attorney general’s office and the Rhode Island State Police. The allegations stem from alleged assaults of a boy under the age of 14 between 1989 and 1990, while Silva was interim director and assistant director at the Office of Ministerial Formation within the Diocese of Providence, Attorney General Peter Neronha’s office said Tuesday (Nov. 9). The charges come as Neronha’s office continues its review of decades of diocesan records.” By Brian Amaral, The Boston Globe

SOUTH CAROLINA

Lawsuit claims sexual abuse from Myrtle Beach Catholic Church priest
“A lawsuit filed Wednesday (Nov. 3) claims a child was sexually abused by a priest at a Catholic church in Myrtle Beach(link is external) between 1990 and 1994. The lawsuit, filed anonymously by ‘John Doe,’ claims Father Robert Kelly at St. Andrew’s Catholic Church groomed and sexually assaulted the child while he was an altar boy in the early 1990s. Kelly died in 2004, according to the lawsuit. The lawsuit was filed against The Diocese of Charleston and The Bishop of the Diocese of Charleston.” By Kevin Accettulla, WBTW-TV13News

WISCONSIN

Wisconsin’s attorney general is investigating the handling of clergy abuse claims. Six months in, here is what we know.
“As allegations of abuse at the hands of Catholic priests continue to emerge, Wisconsin hasn’t been immune to the scandal … In early 2021, Josh Kaul, the Wisconsin attorney general, announced an investigation into claims of clergy abuse and systemic cover-up(link is external) over decades. Here is the background on the Department of Justice investigation and where it stands as it reaches its sixth month …” By Laure Schulte, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

FRANCE

Trial of Lebanese priest accused of sexual abuse begins in France
“The trial of Lebanese priest Mansour Labaky started on Monday (Nov. 8) at the Criminal Court of the French city of Caen. The Maronite priest is formally accused of sexually abusing three children under his care(link is external), but there are dozens more alleged victims. Labaky, now 81, is prosecuted by three women who say they were sexually assaulted by the priest in the nineties while they were still teenagers. They were living in a French orphanage for Lebanese children founded by Labaky in the aftermath of the Lebanese Civil War.” By The New Arab (alaraby.co.uk)

IRELAND & NORTHERN IRELAND

A priest sits on a bed, trousers off, legs open. ‘What do you do when you think of girls?’ he asks.
“Everything in the bedroom is white, including a white crucifix on a white wall. A holy man sits on the corner of a bed, trousers off, legs open. ‘You need to confess everything(link is external),’ he says, gripping a young boy’s arm to pull him closer. ‘The Catholic church has been very good to you, to your mother, to your brother and sister. You don’t want that to all go away, do you? So tell me, what else have you done wrong.” By David Smith, The Irish Times

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At five-year mark, financial transparency report shows some progress made, but much improvement needed

Voice of the Faithful’s fifth annual review of all dioceses comprising the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops was conducted between June 1 and Aug. 31, 2021, by three independent reviewers and their report, “Measuring and Ranking Diocesan Online Financial Transparency: 2021 Report,” and all previous VOTF reports on diocesan online financial transparency can be read by clicking here.

This year marks five years that Voice of the Faithful has reviewed annually all U.S. Catholic dioceses’ online financial transparency. Over the past five years, according to VOTF reviewers, overall diocesan transparency scores have increased, and some dioceses have achieved considerable success, but much work remains to be done.

The 2021 report shows that overall diocesan online financial transparency scores increased from 65% in 2020 to 69% in 2021, but that only 64% of all dioceses posted current audited financial reports, even though those dioceses posting such reports increased from 104 in 2020 to 113 in 2021. Looking back five years, VOTF reported in 2017 that only 65 of the 177 U.S. dioceses posted current audited financial statements. Additionally, the 2017 report showed that 15 dioceses scored 90% or higher, while, in 2021, 38 dioceses achieved scores above 90%.

The 2021 report shows that several dioceses achieved considerable success over the past year. Among those most improved from 2020 are the Diocese of Camden, which scored 20% in 2020 and 82% in 2021. Similarly, Cheyenne scored 25% in 2020 and 70% in 2021; Rapid City 30% and 72%; and Biloxi 57% and 96%.

This year’s top-scoring dioceses all scored 100%: Bridgeport, Charleston, Orlando, and Scranton. The Diocese of Bellville scored next highest, maintaining its 2020 score of 98%. The poorest performing dioceses were: El Paso, 22%; Allentown, 20%; Nashville, 20%; Tulsa, 20%, and St. Thomas, 17%.

In addition, VOTF’s 2021 reviewers concluded:

  • Transparency concerning the membership and activities of Diocesan Finance Councils is limited, with an average score of 4.1 out of 10 on this question. Further, 62 out of 177 dioceses posted no information on their DFC this year. This will figure strongly in VOTF’s current review of lay involvement in Church governance through DFCs.
  • The only area where scores dropped this year is on the parish collection security question. The decrease was only 3.1 to 2.9 out of 10 points, but reflected primarily the conflicting guidance and contradictory policies found within posted financial policies in dioceses. Consistency between posted policies on a diocese’s web pages could easily raise the diocese’s score on this section.

VOTF’s fifth annual review of all dioceses comprising the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops was conducted between June 1 and Aug. 31 by three independent reviewers and their report, “Measuring and Ranking Diocesan Online Financial Transparency: 2021 Report,” and all previous VOTF reports on diocesan online financial transparency can be read by clicking here.

VOTF 2021 reviewers concluded that, “Although significant progress has been achieved in the last decade, and in particular during the last three years, members of the church in the U.S. must be vigilant if they wish to prevent financial mismanagement and abuse.” They recommend the following for dioceses committed to increasing their financial transparency:

  • If your diocese does not post audited financial reports, communicate your concerns
    to your parish and diocesan leadership. If they say they will provide it upon request, request it!
  • If you cannot find any useful information on your diocesan website concerning the Diocesan Finance Council, communicate your concerns.
  • If your diocese does post audited reports, use the guide What to Look for When Reviewing Diocesan Financial Statements (http://www.votf.org/Financial_Acct-Trans/ReadingFS-VOTF-FWG.pdf) to assess the report. If dioceses post reports that no one reads, who is holding them accountable?
  • If your diocese’s financial transparency score has dropped dramatically since the last review it may be an indication of serious financial problems. Look into possible causes and work to demand transparency and accountability.

Voice of the Faithful News Release, Nov. 12, 2021, Nick Ingala, nickingala@votf.org, 781-559-3360

Voice of the Faithful®: Voice of the Faithful’s® mission is to provide a prayerful voice, attentive to the Spirit, through which the Faithful can actively participate in the governance and guidance of the Catholic Church. VOTF’s goals are to support survivors of clergy sexual abuse, to support priests of integrity, and to shape structural change within the Catholic Church. More information is at www.votf.org.

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Portugal’s Catholic bishops announce independent child sexual abuse commission / Reuters

“In Portugal, more than 200 Catholics sent a letter to the Bishops’ Conference earlier this month urging them to launch an investigation similar to Frances’s, arguing that child sexual abuse was a ‘systemic’ problem ‘directly related to the exercise of power’ within the church.”

Reuters

“Portugal’s Roman Catholic Church said on Thursday (Nov. 11) it would create an independent commission to investigate historical child sexual abuse allegedly committed by members of the clergy following pressure from prominent congregants to lift a veil of silence around the issue.

“Portugal’s Bishops’ Conference said in a statement that it decided to create the commission to improve the way cases are handled and to ‘carry out a study to clarify the history of this serious issue.’

“The announcement comes after a major report by an independent commission in France revealed last month that around 3,000 priests and religious officials sexually abused more than 200,000 children over the past 70 years. read more

“It was the latest blow for the Roman Catholic Church, which has been rocked by sexual abuse scandals around the world, often involving children, over the past 20 years.

“In Portugal, more than 200 Catholics sent a letter to the Bishops’ Conference earlier this month urging them to launch an investigation similar to France’s, arguing that child sexual abuse was a ‘systemic’ problem ‘directly related to the exercise of power’ within the church.”

By Catarina Demony and Sergio Goncalves — Read more …

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New report on abuse shows ‘need for continued commitment and diligence’ / Cruxnow.com

“Composition of membership, not following by-laws of the Board, members not confident in their duties, lack of rotation of members and lack of review of Diocesan/Eparchial policies and procedures,’ according to the report. ‘Twenty-five to forty percent of Dioceses/Eparchies visited didn’t have a child protection policy or code of conduct that included language regarding child pornography,’ the report shows.”

Cruxnow.com

“The 18th annual report on U.S. diocesan and eparchial compliance with the 2002 Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People found a total of 4,250 clergy sex abuse allegations for the 2019-2020 audit year, about two-thirds of which stem from lawsuits, compensation programs and bankruptcies.

“Almost all of the allegations – 4,228 – are historical in nature, meaning the alleged victim is now an adult and the abuse happened in years or decades past, according to the report. The other 22 allegations were made by minors that were minors as of June 20, 2020.

“In a letter to Archbishop José Gomez, president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops at the start of the report, Suzanne Healy, the USCCB National Review Board chair, called the 4,228 allegations ‘a reminder that the pain of the past remains and we as a Church must continue to reach out to all who have been harmed regardless of when the event occurred.’

“Six of the 22 allegations made by minors are substantiated. Seven of the allegations have ongoing investigations. Three were unable to be proven. Two were unsubstantiated, and four fall into an unspecified “other” category, according to the report. The number of both the substantiated and total allegations by minors dropped compared to the 2018-2019 audit year data where there were 9 substantiated and 37 total allegations by minors.”

By John Lavenburg, Cruxnow.com — Read more …

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Voice of the Faithful Focus News Roundup

November 9, 2021

TOP STORIES

Rome’s anti-abuse beachhead inaugurates next phase
“On Friday (Oct. 15) the Pontifical Gregorian University’s newly-minted Institute of Anthropology, which replaces its famed Center for Child Protection, was formally inaugurated amid praise from abuse survivors and experts alike. Unveiled earlier this year, the institute’s formal name is the Institute of Anthropology: Interdisciplinary Studies on Human Dignity and Care(link is external). Overseen by German Jesuit Father Hans Zollner, former director of the Centre for Child Protection (CCP) and a member of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors (PCPM), the institute will take over the CCP’s work in conducting research and formation in the field of child protection, but it will do so with the heft of an entire degree-offering faculty at the Gregorian university, with its own academic staff.” By Elise Ann Allen, Cruxnow.com.

What the report on abuse in the French Catholic Church says to theology
“The CIASE commission’s report on sexual abuse in the Catholic Church in France between 1950 and 2020 has been released on October 5, 2021, and will have effects, at the moment difficult to be predicted, on the ecclesial discourse not only in France, but also at a global level … But the CIASE report is also a document that raises serious theological questions for theology(link is external): they will have to be addressed by a theology that has among its audiences not only the academy, but also the church and the public sphere. This brief article proposes, without any pretense of being exhaustive or definitive, to begin to make a first list of issues.” By Massimo Faggioli, Catholic Outlook

Francis says sexual abuse produces a ‘culture of death’
“In a letter sent to an Italian safeguarding conference, Pope Francis on Thursday (Nov. 4) referred to sexual abuse as ‘a culture of death’ that can only be eradicated by systemic action by an alliance of parties(link is external). No action will ever be too small when it comes to creating a culture capable of preventing abuse, its cover-up and perpetuation, Francis wrote, and the Church today is undergoing a process of conversion that begins ‘from below, as an expression of the active participation of the People of God in the journey of personal and community conversion.’” By Inés San Martin, Cruxnow.com

What is the synod of bishops? A Catholic theologian explains
“Pope Francis opened a two-year process called ‘a synod on synodality,’ known as ‘Synod 2021-2023: For a Synodal Church,’ on October 10. In brief, the process involves an expansion of an established institution, called the ‘Synod of Bishops.’ This means that bishops around the world will consult with everyone from parishioners to monks, nuns and Catholic universities before coming together for a discussion in 2023 … As a Catholic priest who studies theology, with particular interest in the role of lay persons and of local communities in the worldwide Catholic church, I will be watching this synod carefully(link is external). In part, it is designed to make church governance more open and inclusive of all its members.” By William Clark, College of the Holy Cross, The Conversation

Catholic leadership reform critical to combating clergy sexual abuse
“The Roman Catholic Church, as well as society at large, has a responsibility to create networks of support and foster empathy for survivors of clerical sexual abuse, panelists said at an Oct. 25 event. The virtual event, titled ‘Lifting Up the Voices of Female Survivors of Clergy Sexual Abuse,(link is external)’ invited four survivors of clerical sexual abuse to share their perspectives on preventing future abuse. The event was co-sponsored by the Berkley Center for Religion, Peace & World Affairs, the Initiative on Catholic Social Thought in Public Life, the Office of Mission and Ministry, the Georgetown Law Office of Mission and Ministry, the Human Flourishing Program at Harvard University, and Awake Milwaukee.” By Joshua Moschetto, The Hoya

ACCOUNTABILITY

Former cardinal McCarrick to faces next court hearing on Dec. 21
“The first pretrial hearing in the criminal sex abuse case against ex-cardinal Theodore McCarrick came and went in a matter of minutes. The case was continued until December 21, for a second pretrial hearing. The attention paid to the case at Dedham District Court on Oct. 28 was noticeably different from that of McCarrick’s arraignment at the Massachusetts courthouse on Sept. 3. There was hardly any media presence and the court operated as normal with McCarrick’s pretrial hearing lumped in with 30-plus other cases on the docket.” By John Lavenburg, Cruxnow.com

The U.S. Church should pay attention to the French report on sex abuse. Here’s why
“By now we have been depressed once more by headlines of abuse in the Catholic Church, this time in France, where the large number of cases (more than 200,000) blazoned across our newsfeeds. Pope Francis recently called the abuse in France a ‘moment of shame.’ But beyond that stomach-churning number, there are details in the report that merit wider consideration. Perhaps even more urgently, all Catholics should examine the 45 highly detailed recommendations made by the Sauvé Commission(link is external). These are contained in the 50-page report. Below, I translate the recommendations that stand out as especially important for wider consideration by Catholics outside of francophone contexts.” By Adam A.J. DeVille, Our Sunday Visitor

The Catholic Church in France shines a light on its own abuse scandal
“In 2002, this newspaper exposed the widespread and systematic sexual abuse of children by local Catholic priests and the equally systematic cover-up by the diocese’s bishops and cardinals. It was a brutal but vital shock. By illuminating this darkness, the Spotlight team made history and laid the foundations for similar investigations across the globe. As if to mark the 20th anniversary of this event, a report commissioned by France’s Catholic Church was released to the public this month. The 2,500-page document — the work of the Independent Commission on Sexual Abuse in the Church (CIASE) — revealed that at least 330,000 children had been sexually abused by more than 3,000 ordained and lay clergy in France(link is external) between 1950 and 2020. The report’s authors emphasized these numbers were a conservative estimate.” By Robert Zaretsky, The Boston Globe

FOR A SYNODAL CHURCH: COMMUNION, PARTICIPATION AND MISSION

Deadline extended for first phase of the synodal process
“In order to ‘provide a greater opportunity for the people of God to have an authentic experience of listening and dialogue’ during the recently launched synodal process, the General Secretariat of the Synod of Bishops has decided to extend the deadline of the first phase. In a statement on Friday (Oct. 29), the General Secretariat of the Synod of Bishops said that it has extended ‘the deadline for the presentation of the synthesis of the consultations by the Episcopal Conference, the Oriental Catholic Churches sui iuris and other ecclesial bodies’ to 15 August 2022(link is external).” By Vatican News

Dioceses plan for Synod of Bishops journey
Representatives of Australian dioceses have gathered online to consider how to support local engagement with the global process leading to the 2023 Synod of Bishops in Rome(link is external) … The gathering of local coordinators last week was designed to help dioceses share their insights and determine how they can best invite the People of God to take part in the consultation. That included hearing from dioceses that have held local synods or assemblies in recent months while also engaging with the Fifth Plenary Council of Australia and now the global Synod of Bishops.” By CathNews.com

Is your diocese promoting the synod? No matter what, you can still participate
“I am fascinated and encouraged by Pope Francis’ determination to find ways for all the people of God to participate in the 2021-23 synod on synodality. As I write, the diocesan phase of the synod process is just beginning. Given initial reports that the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and many U.S. dioceses seemed less than enthusiastic about Francis’ synod(link is external), I decided to do an informal review of the websites of major U.S. dioceses and archdioceses — especially those with large populations. I was pleasantly surprised to discover that of the 67 websites I visited over Oct. 15-17, more than half indicated a comprehensive process was planned or already underway (34) or said plans would be announced soon (3).” By Christine Schenk, National Catholic Reporter

Editorial: A Ministry of Listening: On the Opening of Synod 2023
“For laypeople who have long dreamed of a more participatory and inclusive church—a church that, in the words of the International Theological Commission’s (ITC) 2018 document ‘Synodality in the Life and Mission of the Church,’ might ‘overcome the obstacles created by the lack of formation and recognized spaces in which the lay faithful can express themselves and act, and by a clerical mindset which runs the risk of keeping them on the edges of ecclesial life’ (§73)—this comes as a golden opportunity(link is external).” By Michael Centore, Editor, Today’s American Catholic

Speak Boldly, Listen Carefully: inside the synod
“At the start of July, in preparation for what has become known as the “Synod on Synodality,” the general secretariat of the synod’s spirituality commission convened a meeting of the heads of religious orders in Rome … to find out how the different orders make decisions, elect leaders, and hear the Holy Spirit nudging them to change(link is external). While in Rome for the October 9–10 launch of the synod, I heard about this gathering from a number of those who were involved, among them the woman who has become the synod’s face and voice. What the meeting showed, the French Xaverian Sr. Nathalie Becquart told me, was how each of the orders had developed different mechanisms of deliberating as a body and reaching consensus.” By Austen Ivereigh, Commonweal

A new beginning? Listening for a synodal church
“Pope Francis has convened a synod in Rome with the theme ‘For a Synodal Church: Communion, Participation and Mission.’ In his opening address he called us as church to engage this synod as an opportunity ‘to become a listening church, to break out of our routine and pause from our pastoral concerns in order to stop and listen.’ This synodal process invites all the faithful and, in particular, our leaders within parishes, dioceses, hospitals, schools, universities and other church-related ministries to do some soul-searching(link is external). We must seize this moment to listen intently, especially to those who have been marginalized.” By Miguel H. Díaz, National Catholic Reporter

Vatican Launches Prayer Website ‘To Accompany’ Synod on Synodality
“The Vatican on Tuesday (Oct. 19) launched a website and smartphone app to help Catholics pray for the success of the two-year process culminating in the 2023 synod on synodality. At prayforthesynod.va, Catholics can find information in English, Spanish, and other languages about how to support the synod through prayer(link is external). ‘This website, together with the app Click To Pray, aims to accompany the synodal way for prayer,’ the website says on its ‘About us’ page.” By Hannah Brockhaus, Catholic News Agency, in National Catholic Register

Synod on synodality a stepping-stone for Italian bishops’ own national consultation
“As Pope Francis’s much-touted Synod of Bishops on Synodality begins its initial consultative phase at a parish level, Italy’s bishops are blending the process into their own 4-year national consultation(link is external), using materials for the universal gathering to guide their own national discussion. Ever since they were first instituted by Pope Saint Paul VI in 1965 as a direct product of the Second Vatican Council, a Synod of Bishops has been held at the Vatican every three to four years, gathering bishops from around the world for a month-long discussion on a contemporary issue of pressing importance.” By Elise Harris, Cruxnow.com

Call to prayer for the synod finds home online, in app
“Cardinal Mario Grech, secretary-general of the Synod of Bishops, said in the process to create a more ‘synodal church,’ one where every member contributes and all listen to each other, ‘we are touching something divine, and prayer is essential(link is external).’ The synod office, the Pope’s Worldwide Prayer Network and the women’s International Union of Superiors General have joined forces not only to encourage prayers, but to collect them, share them and build a global community of people praying for the synod and each other.” By Catholic News Service

We contacted every diocese in the U.S. about their synod plans. Here’s what we found.
“The diocesan phase of the global synodal process, officially entitled ‘Toward a Synodal Church: Communion, Participation, Mission’ began on Sunday, Oct. 17, but only about half of U.S. dioceses had taken the first step of appointing a local synod coordinator(link is external), as called for by the Vatican’s instructions. In the last month, a team of America Media reporters contacted all 196 ‘particular churches’ in the United States—dioceses, eparchies and the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter—and was able to confirm the appointment of 62 local synod coordinators.” By Colleen Dulle and Doug Girardot, America: The Jesuit Review

POPE FRANCIS

Pope laicizes priest accused of sexual abuse
Joseph Gallatin, who was ordained a priest of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis in 1997 and has been prohibited from public ministry since 2014, has been dispensed from the obligations of the clerical state(link is external), Archbishop Bernard Hebda announced in a statement Oct. 25. Pope Francis recently granted the change in Gallatin’s status, which Gallatin requested, Archbishop Hebda said. ‘That means that the canonical status of Joseph Gallatin, who has not exercised public ministry since 2014, is that of a lay person,’ he said.” By The Catholic Spirit

Pope Francis to visit Canada for indigenous reconciliation
“Pope Francis has agreed to visit Canada to assist with ongoing reconciliation efforts with indigenous groups(link is external), the Vatican said on Wednesday (Oct. 27). The trip follows disturbing revelations this spring about the indigenous children who died while attending residential schools. The Catholic Church was essential in the schools’ founding and operation. The date of the papal visit has not yet been announced.” By BBC News

Pope Francis releases letter from sex abuse survivor: ‘We cannot close our eyes’ to sin in the church
“An adult survivor of abuse by a priest appealed to the world’s seminarians(link is external) to become good priests and to make sure the ‘bitter truth’ always prevails, not silence about scandals and their cover-up. ‘Please, do not sweep things under the carpet, because then they start to stink, putrefy, and the rug itself will rot away…. Let us realize that if we hide these facts, when we keep our mouths shut, we hide the filth and we thus become a collaborator,’ said the survivor in a letter sent to Pope Francis and addressed to all seminarians.” By Carol Glatz, Catholic News Service, in America: The Jesuit Review

BISHOPS

French bishops set to weigh demining child abuse revelations at annual conference
“French Catholic bishops kicked off their annual conference on Tuesday (Nov. 2), set to pour over a shock report last month that detailed massive child abuse of 216,000 minors spanning 70 years. The 120 bishops from across France are to devote nearly half their week-long meeting to ‘the fight against violence and sexual aggression directed at minors(link is external),’ according to the published agenda. Some victims were invited to join the meeting, but many declined, denouncing the decision to make the sexual abuse scandal just one of several topics — rather than the sole issue on the agenda.” By France24.com

U.S. bishops to choose culture war or communion in Baltimore
“In less than two weeks, the U.S. bishops will gather for their 2021 plenary meeting in Baltimore. It will be the first time they have met in person since before the pandemic so, whatever else happens, at least the manipulative dynamics of the Zoom meetings will be gone. You probably have to go back to the turn of the 20th century to find a time when the hierarchy was as divided as it is now(link is external). And the whole world will be watching because of the debate about whether or not to deny Communion to pro-choice politicians, including the president of the United States, which has engulfed the church for the past year.” By Michael Sean Winters, National Catholic Reporter

Polish bishops, at Vatican, call punishment for abuse cover-up lopsided
“The president of the Polish bishops’ conference said that in meetings with a Vatican official, several church leaders criticized the Vatican’s handling of sex abuse cases, particularly ‘disproportionate punishments’(link is external) inflicted on bishops accused of cover-ups in comparison with convicted abusers. Archbishop Stanislaw Gadecki, conference president, told Poland’s Catholic Information Agency, KAI, that Polish bishops met with Cardinal Marc Ouellet, prefect of the Congregation for Bishops, at the Vatican Oct. 12. He said the bishops were trying to be faithful to Pope Francis’ May 2019 motu proprio, Vos Estis Lux Mundi, revising and clarifying norms and procedures for holding bishops and religious superiors accountable for protecting abusers.” By Jonathan Luxmoore, Catholic News Service, in National Catholic Reporter

WOMEN’S VOICES

Catholic Church synod must bring women’s stories to the fore
How do you respond to a call to ‘journey together’ with people who, in Christ’s name, proclaim your non-existence?(link is external) This is what I asked myself when I heard the Irish Catholic bishops calling for participation in a five-year synodal pathway. Pope Francis has also launched a two-year worldwide synodal process, so we are now doubly exhorted to be a listening church where everyone can speak freely. I have heard that before. My first experience of formal consultation in the church was three decades ago, as a member of the Women in the Church subcommittee, in the Dublin archdiocese.” By Soline Humbert, The Irish Times

Pope Francis calls for greater female leadership ahead of G-20 summit
“In a message read by his secretary of state to a women’s advocacy group meeting ahead of the G-20 summit, Pope Francis called for greater female leadership in world affairs(link is external) on Monday (Oct. 18), telling the Women’s Forum G-20 that ‘our world needs the collaboration of women, their leadership and their abilities, as well as their intuition and their dedication.’ Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the Vatican’s secretary of state, read the pontiff’s message by video to a special two-day gathering in Milan of the Women’s Forum for the Economy & Society, founded by Publicis public relations to highlight women’s voices in government and diplomacy.” By Claire Giangravé, Religion News Service

Young women, #MeToo and clergy sex abuse: Lessons from my students
“Following the news about allegations of sexual abuse brought against then-Cardinal Theodore McCarrick and the publication of a Pennsylvania grand jury report during the summer of 2018, I joined many Catholic theologians in considering how I would address still another surge of news about clergy sexual abuse in my college classroom … I sensed that my undergraduate students deserved intellectual accompaniment as they confronted an issue that distinctly affected them. To speak with women about sexual abuse of any sort presents a unique situation(link is external), because women experience sexual assault of all kinds at higher rates than men.” By Jessica Coblentz, America: The Jesuit Review

CHURCH FINANCES

Keep priests from being financial power bases, nuncio warns Indian bishops
“The papal representative to India has ordered Catholic bishops in the southern state of Tamil Nadu to stop priests from engaging in activities that make them ‘financial and political power bases(link is external).’ UCA News reported that the apostolic nuncio, Archbishop Leopoldo Girelli, asked the Tamil Nadu bishops’ council to address the trend of priests forming and managing trusts or nongovernmental organizations independently of their dioceses, violating canon law. In a letter in early October, Archbishop Girelli noted a tendency among clergy to establish independent trusts ‘habitually registered under the guise of a nongovernmental organization, ostensibly intended to provide assistance to those in need.’” By Catholic News Service in National Catholic Reporter

VOICES

Bishops focus on Communion crisis highlights bigger issue, theologians say
“When the U.S. bishops highlighted Communion in their spring meeting, announcing their plans for both a document on the Eucharist and a three-year Eucharistic revival, they emphasized that they were responding to a lack of understanding among many Catholics about something that is central to the faith(link is external). In other words, they wanted to respond to what they saw as a catechetical crisis. And their discussion at the time, particularly over their proposed document — to be presented this November — garnered a lot of attention for its projected look at eucharistic coherence.” By Carol Zimmermann, Catholic News Service, on CatholicPhilly.com

Draft of bishops’ Eucharist document reflects 400-year-old theology
“The draft of the U.S. bishops’ proposed new document on the Eucharist, which has been circulated among the prelates and was leaked to several media outlets on Nov. 2, may not mention pro-choice Catholic politicians like President Joe Biden. But, even still, the document reads as if it could have been created before the Second Vatican Council(link is external). It is written in such a way that I would propose the title — currently ‘The Mystery of the Eucharist in the Life of the Church’ — be made much narrower. Perhaps: ‘The Mystery of the Sacrificial Presence of Christ in the Eucharistic Species.’” By Kevin Irwin, National Catholic Reporter

Opinion: U.S. could hold key for the future of the Catholic Church
“When US President Joe Biden and First Lady Jill Biden receive an audience with Pope Francis on October 29, it will be a very different moment from the previous meeting between Paul VI and John F. Kennedy in July 1963. In the early 1960s, the problem for a Catholic candidate or president was the acceptability of Catholicism by American Protestantism and the liberal secular establishment. Today the problem is what kind of Catholicism is acceptable to Biden’s fellow Catholics(link is external): In a hyper-polarized country, partisan affiliations shape more and more religious identities, also in the Catholic Church.” By Massimo Faggioli, Deutsche Welle Editorial Board

Minding the Church: How should the hierarchy respond to whistleblowers?
“When four whistleblowing priests in Scotland went public over the sexual hypocrisy of Cardinal Keith O’Brien in 2013, it resulted in his being prevented from attending the conclave that elected Pope Francis and ultimately in his removal as leader of the Archdiocese of St. Andrews and Edinburgh. I was one of the whistleblowers(link is external). When we sought a meeting with O’Brien’s successor, I remember keenly his obviously rehearsed instruction to us: the Vatican’s view was, ‘We are done here.’ In reality, the removal of the cardinal was the beginning, not the end, of what was to become an important change in the way Church authorities deal with the malfeasance of high-ranking members of the hierarchy, including previously untouchable cardinals.” By Brian Devlin, Commonweal

Catholic Church must deal with pedophile priests seriously
“The horrific data coming from an independent investigation conducted in France that concluded that an estimated 330,000 children were victims of sexual abuse within the Catholic Church in France during the previous 70 years did not shock me(link is external). It just further disgusted me. The 2,500-page document that has been reported is pure horror and shame. As a journalist, I have been investigating and reporting on different sexual abuse cases of the Catholic Church globally. It disturbs me. As a man from the Christian faith, it makes me feel ashamed that even today, most of us Christians prefer to turn a blind eye to or talk in hushed tones on the seriousness of the immense damage some Catholic priests are doing to young children all over the world.” By Savio Rodrigues, The Sunday Guardian

CLERGY SEXUAL ABUSE

A man abused by a Catholic priest relives trauma in a Netflix documentary procession
“Six men who were sexually abused by Catholic priests and clergy as children are the subject of a powerful new documentary exploring drama therapy as a way to heal their trauma(link is external). Robert Green’s Procession follows Midwestern survivors gathering to write, direct, and perform fictional scenes based on their childhood memories, dreams, and experiences.” By Texas News Today

Sexual Abuse Survivors and Advocates Ask NJ Governor for More Time to Sue Perpetrators
“Eleven national organizations that deal with sexual abuse are asking New Jersey’s governor to extend a Nov. 30 deadline after which considerably fewer victims of sexual trauma will be able to sue those who hurt them(link is external). In 2019, Governor Phil Murphy signed a measure that allows anyone who was sexually assaulted in New Jersey at any time by anyone to file a civil lawsuit against them and any institution that ignored or concealed the abuse until November 30, 2021. In recent years, 19 other states have adopted similar laws, often called ‘windows.’” By David Clohessy, Ms. Magazine

We’re all safer without these two predators
The trusted religious authority figures who molested two people I hold dear have passed away(link is external). My friends and colleagues are Steve Theisen & Barbara Blaine. Their predators are Sr. Josephine Schmitz and Fr. Chet Warren. Church officials kept quiet about these child molesters’ deaths (as they’ve done countless times before), even though publicizing them would surely have brought some measure of comfort to those who were hurt and assaulted by these predators.” By David Clohessy, DavidClohessy.com

CALIFORNIA

Court of Appeal broadens liability of Church for priest misconduct
“The Los Angeles Archdiocese of the Roman Catholic Church was erroneously awarded summary judgment in an action against it based on sexual child molestation by a priest(link is external), the Court of Appeal for this district held yesterday, saying that liability can be found notwithstanding lack of knowledge of the propensities on the part of the particular priest who committed the misconduct. Framing the issue, Justice John L. Segal of Div. Seven asked: ‘Does a church have a duty to protect children from sexual abuse by clergy while the children are attending religious school or participating in other church-sponsored programs?’ He said that because the answer to that question is ‘yes,’ we reverse the judgment entered after the trial court… answered that question ‘no’….’” By Metropolitan News-Enterprise

Sex Abuse Suit Against Catholic Church, Riverside Priest Settled
“A tentative settlement has been reached in a lawsuit brought by two brothers who allege they were sexually abused by a priest at a Riverside parish(link is external) more than 25 years ago, a lawyer for the pair told a judge Tuesday (Oct. 12) … Tuesday’s announcement came during what was scheduled to be a final status conference with Judge David Sotelo ahead of an Oct. 25 trial of their case against the Archdiocese of Los Angeles and the Diocese of San Bernardino, as well as the Congregation of the Mission Western Province, which conducts religious education and activities.” By City News Service, on Patch.com

FLORIDA

Jury selection underway in trial of former Homestead priest accused of sexual battery
“Jury selection is underway in the trial of a South Florida Catholic priest accused of sexual battery(link is external). Father Jean Claude Jean-Philippe appeared before Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Carmen Cabarga, Monday (Oct. 25). The defendant, who was a parochial vicar at Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Homestead, faces a charge of sexual battery of an incapacitated victim.” By WSNV-TV7 News

GEORGIA

Georgia Supreme Court hears lawsuit claiming sexual abuse by Catholic priest
“A lawsuit alleging a now-deceased Catholic priest sexually abused an altar boy(link is external) in the 1970s should go forward because the Archdiocese of Atlanta didn’t admit the crime until 2018, a lawyer for the unnamed plaintiff argued Tuesday (Oct. 19). But a lawyer representing Saint Joseph’s Catholic Church in Marietta asked the Georgia Supreme Court to uphold lower-court rulings that dismissed the suit because it was filed long after the statute of limitations had expired. The lawsuit was brought after then-Archbishop of Atlanta Wilton Gregory issued a public apology for sexual abuse of children by Catholic clergy.” By Dave Williams, Capitol Beat News Service

ILLINOIS

Defrocked priest Daniel McCormack, who admitted to molesting numerous underage boys, is out of state custody
“Defrocked pedophile priest Daniel McCormack has been released from state custody. McCormack is alleged to have molested at least 25 boys(link is external). He spent two years in prison, and then the remainder of his sentence was served as a state-run mental health facility after being deemed a sexually violent person. He was released from that facility last month. McCormack, formerly pastor of St. Agatha’s Church in Chicago, is one of the city’s most notorious figures in the Roman Catholic priest sexual abuse scandal.” By CBS-TV2 News

Bartlett pastor reinstated after archdiocese says it found insufficient evidence of sex abuse
“The pastor of a Bartlett church is being reinstated after an investigation found insufficient evidence to prove allegations of improper conduct(link is external), Cardinal Blase Cupich said in a letter Saturday. The Rev. Christopher Ciomek was asked to step aside from his duties as pastor at St. Peter Damian Catholic Church in April so authorities could investigate allegations he sexually abused a minor about 30 years ago. The Archdiocese of Chicago, with the help of an unspecified independent agency, investigated the allegations, the letter said, adding that Ciomek fully cooperated. The archdiocese also conducted a review of Ciomek’s fitness for ministry, Cupich said.” By Kayleigh Padar, Daily Herald

INDIANA

Former South Bend St. Joseph volleyball players accuse school of ignoring sexual misconduct
“Three former St. Joseph High School volleyball players have filed a lawsuit against the school, the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend and school officials, accusing their coach of abusive sexual misconduct and administrators of failing to appropriately respond to their allegations during that misconduct(link is external). The women, who graduated in 2018 and 2019 and are suing anonymously as Jane Doe plaintiffs, provide detailed accusations in their court filing.” By Cory Havens, South Bend Tribune

Special judge to be appointed following initial hearing for priest accused of sexual abuse
“A Catholic priest accused of sexual abuse in a case involving two females(link is external) made his initial appearance in Whitley County Superior Court Wednesday (Oct. 13) afternoon. Whitley County Prosecutor DJ Sigler filed multiple felony charges last week against Father David Huneck who at the time of the alleged crimes was the pastor at  Saint Paul of the Cross Catholic Church in Columbia City. Huneck also served as chaplain of Bishop Dwenger High School in Fort Wayne. Court documents indicate Huneck knew the alleged victims from his affiliation with the high school.” By WANE-TV15 News

KANSAS

Wichita-area priest placed on leave, accused of sexually abusing minor
“The Catholic Diocese of Wichita on Monday, Nov. 1, announced that Bishop Carl Kemme placed a priest on administrative leave following allegations of sexual abuse of a minor(link is external). The Wichita diocese identified that priest as Fr. Michael Schemm with Church of the Resurrection, in Bel Aire. ‘The bishop’s decision comes after an initial review by the Diocesan Review Board, which recommended administrative leave pending the completion of a full investigation,’ the diocese said. The Wichita diocese said it notified police and pending the investigation, ‘Fr. Schemm will maintain his faculties as a priest and the diocese will continue its support.’” By KWCH-TV12 News

KBI has received 215 reports, opened 122 cases in priest sexual abuse investigation”
“Nearly three years after launching an investigation into clergy sexual abuse in the state’s Catholic dioceses, Kansas’ top law enforcement agency has received 215 tips and opened 122 cases, legislators learned last week(link is external). Robert Jacobs, executive officer of the Kansas Bureau of Investigation, provided an update to members of the Legislature’s Joint Committee on Kansas Security during a meeting on law enforcement and security issues in the state. Jacobs said the cases are the result of work by the KBI’s Catholic Clergy Taskforce that was established in 2019 at the request of the Attorney General’s Office.” By Judy L. Thomas, The Kansas City Star

MASSACHUSETTS

Settlement reached with 15th sexual abuse victim of Lawrence priest
“A settlement for another sexual abuse victim of the late Father John J. Gallagher, who was assigned to St. Mary’s Church in Lawrence in the 1970s, was recently reached(link is external), said attorney Mitchell Garabedian. Garabedian, of Boston, who is well known for representing sexual abuse victims of the Catholic church, said this the 15th claim he’s settled involving Gallagher, of the Augustinian Order. The claims involved 14 females and one male, he said. The recent settlement was in the low six figures, Garabedian said.” By Jill Harmacinski, Lawrence Eagle Tribune

MICHIGAN

Former Michigan priest, 66, to stand trial for sex abuse
“A former Michigan priest will soon stand trial for sex abuse(link is external) he allegedly committed in the 1980s, state officials announced. Neil Kalina, 66, was a priest at St. Kiernan Catholic Church in Shelby Township from 1982-1985 when he allegedly committed sex abuse against children 13-15 years old … He is charged with one count of first-degree criminal sexual conduct (CSC) against a child 13-15 years old, punishable by up to life in prison; and two counts of second-degree CSC against a child 13-15 years old, punishable by up to 15 years in prison. His next court appearnce is set for Nov. 1.” By Justine Lofton, MLive.com

MISSISSIPPI

‘A very dark history.’ Kansas City diocese hopes ‘Procession’ can help with healing
“When the Kansas City-St. Joseph diocese’s victim assistance coordinator came to her with the unusual request in the summer of 2019, Carrie Cooper didn’t miss a beat. Six men, all survivors of childhood sexual abuse by priests, were making a documentary and wanted to film inside some of the churches in the diocese. ‘I said, ‘I’m great with that, but we just need to make sure our bishop is,’’ Cooper, director of the diocese’s Office of Child and Youth Protection, recalls telling Kathleen Chastain … The documentary, ‘Procession,’ was recently completed and acquired by Netflix. It is scheduled to begin running on Netflix and in selected theaters on Nov. 19(link is external), with a sold-out premiere Wednesday (Nov. 3) night in Kansas City. Local diocesan leaders are using the film’s release to try and open a new dialogue in the community.” By Judy L. Thomas, The Kansas City Star

NEBRASKA

Lincoln bishop reassigns, restricts priests accused of misconduct
“The Lincoln Diocese recently reassigned a pair of priests — and restricted their public ministry — after investigating claims of priestly misconduct(link is external). In statements posted to the diocese website Oct. 8, Bishop James Conley announced: Scott Courtney was assigned to minister to prisons, nursing and retirement homes, and provide administrative assistance to the chancery, effective early next January. Courtney has been out of active ministry since September 2018, after allegations he had sexual contact with a woman, the diocese reported at the time.” By Peter Salter, The Lincoln Journal

Omaha priest arrested, facing charges of theft, abuse of vulnerable adult
“An Omaha priest was arrested Friday (Oct. 15) morning accused of stealing from an incapacitated retired priest who had willed his estate to the Archdiocese of Omaha, saying he was giving the money to a homeless man. He appeared in court Friday afternoon to face charges of theft and abuse(link is external), and was released on his own recognizance. His preliminary hearing is set for Nov. 24.” By Gina Dvorak, WOWT-TV6 News

NEW JERSEY

Former St. Joseph, Bergen Catholic teachers accused of abuse as lawsuit deadline nears
Eleven new abuse lawsuits were filed against the Catholic Church in New Jersey(link is external) on Wednesday (Oct. 13), including three naming former teachers at Bergen Catholic High School in Oradell and another against a now-deceased instructor at St. Joseph Regional High in Montvale. The suits were the latest amid hundreds of complaints filed in the two years since New Jersey lifted its statute of limitations on old sexual abuse claims. They come as the window for such cases is set to expire next month.” By Deena Yellin, NorthJersey.com

$26M for Abuse Victims Proposed By Diocese of Camden
“The Diocese of Camden has submitted a plan of reorganization that offers $26 million to survivors of child sex abuse within the diocese(link is external), officials announced. That number could increase to $40 million if survivors accept tax-free payments over seven years, the Diocese of Camden said in a statement posted on its website. It comes about a year after the Diocese filed Chapter 11 bankruptcy.” By Kimberlee Bongard, Patch

NEW YORK.

Bankruptcy judge halts sex abuse suits against Buffalo Diocese parishes, schools
“A federal bankruptcy judge has again blocked 36 people who say they were sexually abused from pressing ahead with Child Victims Act lawsuits(link is external) against Catholic parishes and schools. Chief Judge Carl L. Bucki of the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in the Western District said in a written ruling this week that allowing the state litigation to move forward ‘would become an inherent distraction that promises to complicate negotiations”’ among the parties involved in the Diocese of Buffalo bankruptcy reorganization.” By Jay Tokasz, The Buffalo News

PENNSYLVANIA

Churchgoers Shocked After Their Pastor Is Arrested for Sex Crimes
“Churchgoers in Cresco, Pennsylvania were shocked leaving Sunday (Oct. 24) morning mass after they were informed that their Pastor had been arrested for alleged sex crimes against a minor(link is external). Father Gregory Loughney was arrested Friday by the Pocono Mountain Regional Police Department and charged with four counts connected to alleged inappropriate contact with a minor after a successful internet sting operation. According to police, Loughney believed he was communicating with a 15-year-old boy he met through Tinder.” By Samantha Berlin, Newsweek

Fayette County priest charged with sexually assaulting altar boy pleads no contest
“A Roman Catholic priest from the Diocese of Greensburg pleaded no contest Monday (Ovt.25) to charges of sexually assaulting an altar boy multiple times(link is external) between 2004 and 2007 at a Fayette County church, according to the Pennsylvania Attorney General’s office. Andrew Kawecki, 66, was charged by state AG’s office in August 2020 with multiple offenses after he was accused of assaulting the boy beginning when he was 11 years old at SS. Cyril and Methodius Church in Fairchance.” By Pittsburg Post-Gazette

RHODE ISLAND

Providence Catholic priest charged with sending child pornography
“A Roman Catholic priest was charged Saturday (Oct. 30) with possessing and transferring child pornography(link is external), according to State Police Superintendent Col. James Manni. James Jackson, 66, pastor of St. Mary’s Church, 538 Broadway, was ordered held at the Adult Correctional Institutions after he failed to post $5,000 surety bail, Manni said in a news release. The Most Rev. Thomas J. Tobin, bishop of the Diocese of Providence, removed Jackson as pastor and prohibited him from sacred ministry, the diocese said in a statement Sunday morning.” By Paul Edward Parker, The Providence Journal

TEXAS

Lawsuit targets Diocese of Brownsville on sexual assault allegations
“A civil lawsuit filed against the Catholic Diocese of Brownsville that alleges church officials tried to protect a priest accused in the alleged sexual assault of two siblings(link is external) continues to make its way through the legal system. The lawsuit was filed nearly two months after the Diocese released a list containing the names of 12 priests accused of sexually assaulting children. The accused priest, Father Benedicto Ortiz, was one of the 12 named in the list released by the diocese in 2019.” By Laura B. Martinez, The Brownsville Herald

WISCONSIN

Organizers urge AG to investigate abuse of Menominee children attending Catholic schools
“Dozens gathered under a pavilion in Keshena for a candlelight vigil to bring awareness to the children who were abused by the Catholic Church at Indigenous residential and boarding schools(link is external). ‘I am a survivor of physical abuse at the hands of the church, during that period they treated us in a manner that is not consistent with who we are as a people,’ said Dewey Schanandore who claimed to have attended St. Anthony’s grade school during the 1950s … The Catholic Diocese of Green Bay ran two schools on the Menominee Indian Reservation.” By Joshua Peguero, WBAY-TV2 News

Statewide investigation into clergy, faith leader abuse has received nearly 180 reports
“The state Department of Justice says they’ve received nearly 180 reports of abuse by faith leaders or of mishandling of abuse claims by religious organizations(link is external). Attorney General Josh Kaul released an update Wednesday about the statewide investigation into clergy and faith leader abuse that his office launched in April. The inquiry has been hindered by some Catholic dioceses not wanting to participate, with some leaders saying past cases of sexual abuse have already been reviewed by legal authorities.” By Hope Kirwan, Wisconsin Public Radio

AUSTRALIA

New center aims to prevent child sexual abuse
“A major trauma support organization will run a national child sexual abuse prevention center aimed at preventing abuse and helping survivors(link is external). Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Thursday marked the third anniversary of the National Apology to Victims and Survivors of Institutional Child Sexual Abuse. He announced the Blue Knot Foundation, alongside the Australian Childhood Foundation and The Healing Foundation, would establish a national child sexual abuse prevention center. Mr. Morrison said the center would build knowledge and expertise, as well as raise awareness of the impacts of child sexual abuse.” By CathNews.com

CANADA

Newfoundland activist Gemma Hickey files sexual abuse lawsuit against St. John’s Episcopal Corp. Catholic Priest
“Well-known Newfoundland and Labrador activist Gemma Hickey has filed a statement of claim against the Roman Catholic Episcopal Corp. and priest Denis Walsh for alleged sexual abuse(link is external). The claims have not been proven in court. The church is the first defendant in the case and Walsh is the second defendant. Hickey, the founder of the non-profit Pathways Foundation, which is dedicated to bringing awareness for victims of clergy abuse, alleges as a parishioner of various churches, they were subject to escalating inappropriate touching and grooming behavior by Walsh, as well as being subjected to lewd conversation.” By Barb Sweet, Saltwire.com

Saskatchewan Court file reveals new details of Catholic Church compensation for residential school survivors
“A Saskatchewan judge has released files detailing the Roman Catholic Church’s controversial $79-million compensation deal for residential school survivors(link is external) following a successful court application by CBC News and the Globe and Mail. This cache of documents, along with other internal papers obtained by CBC News in recent weeks, illustrates how Catholic officials, aided by a team of veteran lawyers, successfully fought years of federal government efforts to make them pay the full amounts promised in the landmark 2005 Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement.” By Jason Warick, CBC News

Canadian priest who served in Calgary convicted in sexual assault against minors
“A former Calgary priest has been convicted by a French court of sexually assaulting four minors(link is external), a statement from the Roman Catholic Diocese of Calgary said. Rev. Denis Tassé, who periodically served in Clear Water Academy and at the summer camps of Regnum Christi in Calgary, was convicted by the Criminal Court of Bordeaux, France, in the 2019 sexual assault of four teenage girls in France and Italy, a statement from the Legionaries of Christ, a Roman Catholic congregation of priests, said. The group said the assaults happened during pastoral group activities.” By CBC News

FRANCE

How and when will French Church compensate victims of ‘systemic’ child abuse?
“The Catholic Church of France was left reeling on Tuesday (Oct. 12) after an independent commission revealed in a 2,500-page report that members of the clergy had sexually abused around 216,000 children since 1950 – and covered up the abuse with a ‘veil of silence’ … As well as laying bare the extent of the abuse, the inquiry also suggested a number of avenues to address the victims’ yearning for justice and healing, from symbolic measures to financial reparation(link is external).” By Cyrielle Cabot, France24.com

GREAT BRITAIN, SCOTLAND, AND WALES

De La Salle order apologizes for sex abuse
“The De La Salle Order has issued an apology for sex abuse of children by members of the order, following a series of allegations and the suspension of its current provincial(link is external) after he was accused of historic abuse. The apology, in which the Order says that abuse ‘goes against everything that compelled our Founder to respond to the needs and challenges of the young people of Rheims in the seventeenth century’ became known after a Catholic safeguarding official mentioned it in passing to a survivor of abuse.” By Catherine Pepinster, The Tablet

Clerical sex abuse survivor wins payout for being ‘retraumatised’
“A survivor of sexual abuse by a priest who was branded ‘needy’ and ‘manipulative’ by church safeguarding officials has been awarded a financial settlement(link is external) after seeking redress for the trauma caused by the Church’s handling of her case. A priest began abusing the woman, known as A711, when she was 15. Subsequently she was raped. She sought compensation for what she described as being ‘retraumatised’ after she discovered critical remarks about her in emails disclosed to her regarding her case.” By Catherine Pepinster, The Tablet

Catholic Church asks Glasgow survivors of abuse to share experiences for independent review
“Thr Catholic Church in Glasgow has appealed to survivors of abuse within the church to get in touch and tell leaders ‘where they went wrong(link is external).’ Bosses at the Archdiocese of Glasgow say they want to hear to hear from people with ‘first-hand experience’ of how reports of abuse were dealt with and what ‘can be done’ to improve the process in future. It will form part of a major independent review during the month of November which is being led by the Social Care Institute for Excellence (SCEI).” By Jack Haugh, The Glasgow Times

IRELAND & NORTHERN IRELAND

Catholic Church apology after priest is sentenced for abuse of two children
“The Catholic Church has issued an apology after a retired priest was sentenced after being found guilty of abusing two children(link is external) following a ‘trial of facts’. Fr John J Murray had been due to stand trial for the abuse of two children, but was deemed medically unfit to take part in the proceedings due to dementia. On Friday (Oct. 22) a court ordered further supervision arrangements. The 80-year-old veteran priest had served as curate in St Matthew’s Parish in the Short Strand area of Belfast, where one of his victims had lived with her family.” By Allison Morris, Belfast Telegraph

MEXICO

Catholic Church admits cases of sexual abuse against minors in Campeche
“The spokesman for the Diocese of Campeche, Gerardo Casillas González; confirmed that they are aware of six cases of sexual abuse by clergy(link is external) and faithful committed against minors and vulnerable people. He pointed out that it is a crime and a very serious sin that must be punished both canonically and civilly, although he said he is aware that the damage will never be fully repaired. In this way, the Diocese of Campeche admits that both clerics and religious or lay pastoral agents have committed sexual abuse against six minors and vulnerable people. The church is following up on these cases and the authorities are doing their investigative work.” By Yucatan Times

NEW ZEALAND

Catholic Church welcomes Royal Commission’s Marylands inquiry dates
“The Catholic Church in Aotearoa New Zealand welcomes the announcement today (Nov. 3) by the Royal Commission into Abuse in Care of dates for hearing evidence about abuse at the Marylands School and Hebron Trust in Christchurch(link is external). The Royal Commission today announced that it has scheduled six days in February 2022 for the hearings. Marylands was a residential school for children with learning difficulties, run between the mid-1950s and 1984 by the Hospitaller Brothers of St John of God, a Catholic religious institute.” By New Zealand Catholic Bishops Conference

POLAND

Report into abuse by Polish Dominican priest only first step in healing
“Dominicans in Poland have confirmed the Vatican has yet to respond to a Sept. 15 report on a sect-like youth ministry run by a priest accused of sexual abuse(link is external) in the late 1990’s. An independent, lay-led investigation produced the 250-page report documenting several cases of abuse in the hands Dominican Father Pawel M. – whose full name cannot be revealed under Polish law since he is awaiting trial – from 1996-2000, but also of negligence by the Dominican leaders in handling those cases.” By Paulina Guzik and Inés San Martin, Cruxnow.com

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French clerical abuse report puts spotlight on confession / The New York Times

“In rare instances, it noted, the secrecy around the sacrament had been used to cover up abuse cases, again raising issues of whether church or state law should prevail.”

The New York Times

“The absolute secrecy of confession is central to the Roman Catholic faith. What is said in confession is between a penitent and God, the priest a mediator. Any priest who breaks that seal can face excommunication under church laws that the Vatican places above all others.

“But what happens when what is confessed is a violation of the laws of the state?

“It is an issue that has vexed attempts to address the sexual abuse cases that have roiled the church in any number of countries, but one that has emerged as especially charged in France, where the state long ago stripped the Catholic Church of its pre-eminence.

“A devastating church-ordered report issued in October by an independent commission on sexual abuse inside the French Catholic Church found that the sacrament of confession itself, in rare instances, had been used to cover up abuse cases.

“Some victims wishing to report past abuses or expose active abusive priests were told to speak about it during confession, effectively suppressing their revelations and turning the sacrament into a ‘weapon of silence,’ said Laëtitia Atlani-Duault, a member of the Independent Commission on Sexual Abuse in the Church, which wrote the report.”

By Norimitsu Onishi and Aurelien Breeden, The New York Times — Read More …

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Speak Boldly, Listen Carefully: Inside the Synod / Commonweal

There is confidence, too, that the people of God will, over time, hear the call to assemble. And when they do, that they will speak boldly and listen carefully, and that somehow, in spite of all the resistances and obstacles, not another but a different Church will come forth. Adsumus Sancte Spiritus.

Commonweal

“At the start of July, in preparation for what has become known as the ‘Synod on Synodality,’ the general secretariat of the synod’s spirituality commission convened a meeting of the heads of religious orders in Rome. In the big aula of the Jesuit Curia on the Borgo Santo Spirito were gathered the superiors general of the Jesuits, the Marists, the Claretians, the Eudists, and the Salesians, along with the master of the Dominicans, the vicar general of the Augustinians, the Benedictine abbot primate general, and so on, together with the presidents of the umbrella bodies of male and female religious across the Catholic world, whether contemplative, apostolic, or charismatic. The point of the gathering? To share experiences from the many different traditions of synodality and collective discernment. Or, in simpler language, to find out how the different orders make decisions, elect leaders, and hear the Holy Spirit nudging them to change.

“While in Rome for the October 9–10 launch of the synod, I heard about this gathering from a number of those who were involved, among them the woman who has become the synod’s face and voice. What the meeting showed, the French Xaverian Sr. Nathalie Becquart told me, was how each of the orders had developed different mechanisms of deliberating as a body and reaching consensus—whether classically, in the form of the “General Chapters” of monasteries and friaries, or as exercises in group discernment as developed, say, by the Jesuits. Many religious institutes had regular assemblies, others engaged in consultations prior to decision-making, while some combined consultative and deliberative practices. The diversity of methods and traditions was tremendous. Yet alongside the clear lines of authority and obedience in most religious orders were two elements they all seemed to have in common.

“The first is that discernment and decision-making are the business of the whole body, not just of the few entrusted with governance. In his landmark October 2015 synod speech, Pope Francis quoted an ancient maxim: Quod omnes tangit, ab omnibus tractari et approbari debet (“what affects everyone should be discussed and approved by all”). And because, as St. Benedict notes in his seventh-century rule, God sometimes speaks through the youngest in the community, enabling participation means paying special attention to the timid edges, to the unlikely places, to those outside.

“The second is that this business of consultation and deliberation is not separate from the life of prayer but intrinsic to it. The habitus of community decision-making is attentive listening to others, straining for the whispers of the Spirit even in the mouths of people we resent or disagree with. It calls, therefore, for giving time to all, in equal measure, for speaking honestly and boldly but not hammering others with our views, for sitting in peaceful, open silence so that we can hear what words do not always say and can often conceal. Synodality requires us to understand that we do not possess the truth, but that sometimes, when we put aside our emotions and agendas, it possesses us, overflowing the narrow channels of our thinking.”

By Austen Ivereigh, Commmonweal — Read more …

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Voice of the Faithful Focus News Roundup

October 20, 2021

TOP STORIES

Probe: Catholic Church in France had 3,000 child abusers
“An independent commission examining sex abuse within the Roman Catholic Church in France believes 3,000 child abusers — two-thirds of them priests — have worked in the church over the past 70 years(link is external). The estimate was given by the commission president, Jean-Marc Sauvé, in an interview published Sunday (Oct. 3) in the newspaper Journal du Dimanche. The commission has been investigating for 2 1/2 years. Its full findings are scheduled to be released on Tuesday. In the interview, Sauvé did not give a figure on the number of sex abuse victims but said the report does include a new estimate.” By Associated Press in The Boston Globe

The Catholic Church’s prayers for victims of sexual abuse are beginning to ring hollow.
“Early Tuesday (Oct. 5) morning, I opened my laptop to work. But first, I meandered over to Twitter, expecting to read a few comments on Krysten Sinema before diving into my Persian presentation. Instead, I started crying. I don’t cry easily. And these were not tears borne of sadness but of frustration(link is external). On Tuesday morning, an independent commission reported that priests and church workers in France have abused over 330,000 children over the past seven decades. As usual, the church too often turned a blind eye to the molestation.” By Valerie Pavilonis, America: The Jesuit Review

Australia’s grand experiment in synodality opens amid hopes, challenges
“Long before ‘synodality’ became the buzzword of this pontificate, and long before a world-wide summit on the topic was called for by Pope Francis that’s being described as his legacy, the Catholic Church in Australia was getting ready to launch its own major synodal moment. Called a ‘Plenary Council(link is external),’ it’s the first such gathering in Australia since 1937, and it will be celebrated across nine months, bookended by assemblies from October 3-10 and in July 2022.” By Inés San Martín, Cruxnow.com

The Guardian view on sexual abuse and the Catholic church: contrition is not enough
“An investigation into pedophile priests in France reveals an institution in desperate need of reform – The findings of an inquiry into sexual abuse and pedophilia in the French Catholic church, published last week, are difficult to read and painful to contemplate. Over the past 70 years, the Independent Commission on Sexual Abuse in the Church found that at least 216,000 children were subjected to abuse at the hands of Catholic priests and members of religious orders. Sexual exploitation within the church and associated institutions, the commission stated, had been a ‘massive phenomenon.’ Beyond immediate family and friends, the prevalence of sexual violence in the church outstripped that in any other social environment(link is external).” By The Guardian Editorial Board

Catholic priests in France ‘must report abuse allegations heard in confession
Catholic priests must report all child sexual abuse allegations to police, including if they hear about it in the secrecy of the confession box, the French interior minister has said after reprimanding France’s top bishop for claiming that the secrecy of the Catholic confessional was ‘above the laws of the Republic.’ France is reeling from the publication last week of a devastating independent report which found that at least 330,000 children were victims of sexual abuse by Catholic clergy and lay members of church institutions over the past 70 years, and that the crimes were covered up in a ‘systemic way’ by the church.” By Angelique Chrisafis, The Guardian

ACCOUNTABILITY

Philippine clerical child abusers must face civil courts
“The most important legislation needed worldwide is to cancel and revoke the legislation on the statute of limitations for crimes against children(link is external) and actively pursue legal action to bring the abusers to justice. The accused abusers can then hear the testimony of their victims and confess, repent, atone and accept penance in jail for abusing children.” By Fr. Shay Cullen, CathNews.com

As Catholic order fought sex abuse claims, secret trusts devoted to it poured millions into American rental properties
“Leaked files reveal nearly $300 million stashed overseas for the Legion of Christ in wake of Vatican investigation. Millions were invested with a corporate landlord that evicted struggling U.S. tenants during pandemic. – Soon after the Vatican announced in 2010 that it would seize the operations of the troubled order and launch a new investigation, high-profile Legion of Christ operatives began quietly setting up one of a trio of New Zealand trusts designed to hold money for the Legion. … These two trusts would come to hold nearly $300 million in assets devoted to the Legion of Christ at a time when victims of sexual abuse by its priests were seeking financial compensation(link is external) from the order through lawsuits and through a commission overseen by the Vatican.” By Spencer Woodman, International Consortium of Investigative Journalists

Judge: Newark Archdiocese can be held liable for McCarrick’s misconduct
“A New Jersey federal judge ruled this week that the Archdiocese of Newark can be held financially responsible for the abuse committed by Theodore McCarrick(link is external), a disgraced former cardinal. According to a report from the New York Post, District Court Judge Madeline Arleo found that the Newark archdiocese is ‘vicariously liable’ for McCarrick’s actions. According to the Legal Information Institute, ‘vicarious liability’ refers to liability that a supervisory party, such as an employer, bears for the actionable conduct of a subordinate or associate, such as an employee, based on the relationship between the two parties.” By Jonah McKeown, The Catholic Herald

FOR A SYNODAL CHURCH: COMMUNION, PARTICIPATION AND MISSION

Explainer: So, what exactly is a synod?
“The global synodal process on ‘Communion, Participation, and Mission’ that the Catholic Church is undertaking over the next two years will formally kick off on Sunday, Oct. 10, with a Mass at the Vatican. It has been nicknamed the ‘synod on synodality’—a term that, despite Pope Francis’ efforts to popularize it, may still leave some scratching their heads. So what is ‘synodality,’ and why does the pope think it’s such a big deal?(link is external)” By Colleen Dulle, America: The Jesuit Review

Experts see synod as ‘biggest consultation exercise in human history’
“Though probably unbeknownst to most Catholics around the world, on Saturday (Oct. 9) Pope Francis officially opened a two-year global consultation process, all part of a Synod of Bishops on Synodality, which participants hope will help radically change the way the Catholic Church takes decisions. ‘My expectation is that a new way of doing things, which will allow us to see synodality being lived at every level of the Church, is now underway(link is external),’ Spaniard Carmen Peña Garcia, a synod participant, told Crux.” By Inés San Martín, Cruxnow.com

In union with Pope Francis, Rochester Diocese opens Synod
“In union with Pope Francis, Bishop Salvatore R. Matano opened the XVI Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops Oct. 10(link is external) during the regularly scheduled 11:15 a.m. Mass at Sacred Heart Cathedral. Pope Francis is convening the worldwide Synod under the theme ‘For a Synodal Church: Communion, Participation, and Mission.’ At the beginning of his homily, Bishop Matano explained that the Synod, which has three phases — diocesan, continental and universal — will conclude with the assembly of the Synod Bishops in Rome in October 2023.” By Gina Capellazzi, Catholic Courier

Pope Francis opens synod, encouraging church to master the ‘art of encounter’
Pope Francis on Oct. 10 officially launched the Vatican’s high-stakes, two-year synod process(link is external) in an opening Mass where he urged the global Catholic Church to master the ‘art of encounter’ … The Synod of Bishops, which emerged out of the Second Vatican Council, was designed in part to provide a mechanism for global church leaders to come to Rome to confront certain challenges in church life. Now its newly retooled model adds another component that begins with a listening stage with local churches at the diocesan level.” By Christopher White, National Catholic Reporter

Utah Catholics ready to answer ‘revolutionary’ survey that will include church members on the fringes
Pope Francis wants to know what you think about the Catholic Church(link is external) — what it’s doing well, how it’s falling down, and where it should go in the future. By ‘you,’ the pontiff means people in the pews, people not in the pews, Christmas and Easter Catholics, former Catholics, priests, nuns, the laity, younger members, older members, non-Catholics and outside observers. Starting next week, the Vatican is launching a three-year synod on ‘communion, participation and mission’ — a program of ‘listening and consultation of the People of God in the particular churches.’” By Peggy fletcher Stack, The Salt Lake Tribune

How do we prepare for a synodal process? Start with the documents of Vatican II
“Nine days from now, Pope Francis will officially open a synodal process. As my colleague Brian Fraga reported on Wednesday (Sept. 29), you wouldn’t know much about it if you relied on the U.S. bishops’ conference(link is external). They have sent no directives to the nation’s bishops, no historical or theological reflections, no guidance, nada, niente. They have not amended their strategic priorities to reflect the start of this synodal process. And their last meeting was dedicated to figuring out how to justify a document on eucharistic coherence that no one needs and that Rome has indicated it does not want.” By Michael Sean Winters, National Catholic Reporter

POPE FRANCIS

Pope to begin synodal process with Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica
“The Vatican announced that Pope Francis will formally launch the process of the Synod of Bishops with a Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica(link is external). The Oct. 10 Mass, which officially open the synodal process, will be preceded by a day of reflection in the synod hall, the Vatican said in a statement published Oct. 1. The Oct. 9 day of reflection, the statement said, will include ‘representatives of the people God, including delegates of the bishops’ conferences and related bodies, members of the Roman Curia, fraternal delegates, delegates of consecrated life and ecclesial lay movements, the youth council, etc.’” By Junno Arocho Esteves, Catholic News Service, in National Catholic Reporter

CARDINALS

Italian cardinal becomes first red hat to stand trial at Vatican
“When the Vatican’s megatrial for financial crimes begins next week, one of the star figures will be Italian Cardinal Angelo Becciu, a former power-player in the Holy See’s Secretariat of State who is the first cardinal to be indicted by the small city-state(link is external). Set to open Oct. 5 after being postponed during an initial hearing over the summer, the trial involves a list of 10 people facing a variety of charges ranging from abuse of office to embezzlement, fraud, and corruption, among other things.” By Elise Ann Allen, Cruxnow.com

BISHOPS

High hopes for Synod of Bishops
“Participants in the two-year global consultation process for the Synod of Bishops on synodality hope the process will help radically change the way the Church takes decisions(link is external). ‘My expectation is that a new way of doing things, which will allow us to see synodality being lived at every level of the Church, is now underway,’ Spaniard Carmen Peña Garcia, a synod participant, said. ‘The Synod should not be reduced to this moment, these two years, because synodality is a call for co-responsibility and co-participation of the entire people of God in the life and mission of the Church, with baptism being the entry card,’ she said.” By CathNews.com

WOMEN’S VOICES

Vatican: Theological Commission welcomes first-ever African woman
“Pope Francis has appointed 61-yesr-old Sister Dr. Josée Ngalula of the Democratic Republic of Congo as the first-ever African woman to be a member of the International Theological Commission(link is external). She is a member of the Sisters of Saint Andrew. Sister Ngalula will be part of a 28-member theological Commission that comprises theologians from all over the world.” By Muando Babualo and Vatican News English Africa Service

The Vatican still has a ‘patriarchal mindset’ — but women are challenging it.
“Women are rising to new heights in the Vatican, but there is still a long way to go before women’s voices and leadership are satisfactorily integrated in the Vatican(link is external). In this deep dive episode based on Colleen Dulle’s cover story in America Magazine’s October issue, Colleen and producer Maggi Van Dorn take a look inside the corporate culture of the Vatican to examine how things have been changing for women—and why it’s difficult to have conversations about women’s empowerment there.” By Colleen Dulle, Inside the Vatican, America: The Jesuit Review

VATICAN

Vatican-backed sex abuse research institute expands mandate
“The Catholic Church’s foremost research institute studying sexual abuse of minors is expanding its mandate to also include the sexual and spiritual abuse of adults(link is external), evidence of the Vatican’s increasing awareness that children aren’t the only victims of clergy who abuse their power and authority. The Rev. Hans Zollner, one of Pope Francis’ top advisers on abuse, said the institute’s broader scope reflects lessons from the #MeToo movement, the pope’s own recognition that nuns and seminarians can be abused by their superiors, and evidence that systemic and structural problems in the church have allowed abuse to fester.” By Nicole Winfield, Associated Press, on Religion News Service

Europe court rejects case seeking to blame Vatican for abuse
“A European court agreed Tuesday (Oct. 12) that the Vatican couldn’t be sued in a local court for sexual abuse committed by Catholic priests, affirming that it enjoys sovereign immunity and that the misconduct of priests and their superiors can’t be attributed to the Holy See(link is external). The European Court of Human Rights dismissed a case brought by two dozen people who said they were victims of abusive priests in Belgium. The 24 had argued the Holy See was liable because of the ‘structurally deficient’ way the Catholic hierarchy had handled cases of priests who raped and molested children, covering up the crimes rather than reporting them.” By Nicole Winfield, Associated Press

Vatican Issues Acquittals in Sexual Abuse Case Involving Former Altar Boys
“A Vatican court on Wednesday (Oct. 6) acquitted a priest on sexual abuse charges(link is external) dating to when he and his accuser were teenage altar boys at a seminary within the Vatican walls. A second priest, the rector of the seminary at the time, was cleared of charges that he covered up the alleged abuses. Prosecutors claimed that the abuse began when the priest, the Rev. Gabriele Martinelli, now 29, and his accuser, who was identified only by his initials, L.G., were young teenagers, less than a year apart, living at a seminary and that it continued for five years. Father Martinelli was not a priest at the time, but he was ordained years later.” By Elisabetta Povoledo, The New York Times

CHURCH REFORM

The quiet revolution of German Catholics
“Marcus Wolf is the pastor St. Gangolf Parish in the small, northern Bavarian city of Bamberg. The priest takes out the parish registry and turns to the section marked ‘Kirchenaustritt,’ a procedure to have one’s name struck from the baptismal rolls. It indicates that 32 parishioners left the Church in 2019. And it shows that 21 others have already done so this year. ‘I myself thought of leaving the Church(link is external),’ Wolf says, nonchalantly. ‘But I stayed. Partly to look after my parishioners.’” By Youna Rivallain, La Croix International, in National Catholic Reporter

FUTURE OF THE CHURCH

First Australian Catholic Church plenary council opens
“The first Australian Catholic Church Plenary Council since 1937 opened on Sunday (Oct. 3), with COVID-19 restrictions forcing the original Adelaide meeting – delayed by 12 months – largely online. The national meeting, involving 278 members across the country – including bishops, members of religious congregations and laypeople – is discussing a range of issues, including matters relating to the Royal Commission into Institutional Response to Child Sexual Abuse, euthanasia laws and women’s roles within the church.” By Peta McCartney, Sight Magazine

‘Change is difficult’: Cincinnati Archdiocese launches shakeup that reaches almost every parish
“The Archdiocese of Cincinnati on Friday launched one of the most ambitious reorganizations in its 200-year history, potentially changing when and where almost a half-million Catholics attend Mass, school and other activities connected to their faith(link is external). Known as Beacons of Light, the restructuring process will combine the archdiocese’s 208 parishes into 60 ‘families of parishes,’ which will begin sharing priests and resources as early as next year.” By Dan Horn, Cincinnati Enquirer

VOICES

The hard truth of sexual abuse in the Catholic Church is demoralizing. But we must confront it
“When Pope Francis met with the Archbishop of Paris and other French bishops at the end of September, he observed on the matter of the then-forthcoming report on sex abuse in the church of France: ‘Look the truth in the face.’ It is not only the hierarchy that is now doing so, but all of France, Catholic and otherwise(link is external). Indeed, the world has taken shocked notice. The Sauvé Report, an investigation commissioned by the French bishops in 2018 in the wake of a series of clerical sex abuse scandals, was issued on Oct. 5. The tremors of disbelief, outrage and horror continue to reverberate.” By Michael W. Higgins, The Globe and Mail

STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS

How does NC’s lookback window for child sex abuse compare to measures in other states?
“In 2019, North Carolina legislators unanimously passed the SAFE Child Act. The law included provisions intended to prevent child sexual abuse and to increase consequences for perpetrators and the institutions that shield them when children are harmed(link is external). One element of the legislation was a ‘lookback window,’ a two-year period where time-related restrictions on civil lawsuits brought by child sex abuse survivors would be lifted.” By Carli Brosseau, The News & Observer

CLERGY SEXUAL ABUSE

CALIFORNIA

Diocese reveals more accusations of sexual abuse by former Northstate Catholic priests
“The Sacramento Diocese has revealed new allegations of sexual abuse by priests(link is external). The list includes six new allegations against five former priests, some of whom were assigned to churches in the Northstate in the past. These latest claims name five priests who had been previously accused of sexual misconduct against minors. Since the diocese revealed a list of accused priests in 2019, new victims have come forward alleging six additional instances of abuse involving five former priests.” By Kelli Saam, KRCR-TV7 News

COLORADO

Former Aspen priest accused of sexual abuse; archdiocese, local police open investigation
“Parishioners at St. Mary Catholic Church were notified Saturday (Sept. 25) that a former priest has been accused of sexually abusing a minor(link is external) between 2004 and 2008, according to the Archdiocese of Denver. Rev. Michael O’Brien — who left St. Mary in mid-2011 — was immediately placed on administrative leave from his duties as pastor in the eastern Colorado towns of Julesburg and Crook, according to a letter to St. Mary’s parishioners dated Saturday, and an archdiocese spokesman said Wednesday (Sept. 29).” By Jason Auslander, The Aspen Times

INDIANA

Former Columbia City pastor charged
“A criminal investigation into charges of sexual misconduct with a minor by Father David Huneck(link is external), pastor of St. Paul of the Cross Parish in Columbia City, has resulted in the following charges being filed by the Whitley County Prosecuting Attorney Friday, Oct. 8 … Father Huneck, a priest of the diocese for three years, resigned from his position at the parish and from his role as co-chaplain of Bishop Dwenger High School in Fort Wayne after the allegation of misconduct received Sept. 19.” By Todays Catholic, Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend

KANSAS

Catholic Clergy Task Force continues investigation into Topeka priest child sexual abuse allegations
“A task force created in 2019 to fight reports of alleged abuse in the Kansas Catholic Clergy is continuing the investigation into a Topeka priest for allegations of the sexual abuse of a child(link is external). The Kansas Bureau of Investigation says its Catholic Clergy Task Force is currently investigating the allegations against the Topeka priest. Father John Pilcher, of Topeka’s Mater Dei Parish, has been accused of sexual abuse against a minor. The KBI said it formed the task force in 2019 after Attorney General Derek Schmidt asked it to investigate reports of abuse in the Kansas Catholic Clergy.” By Sarah Motter, WIBW-TV13 News

KENTUCKY

Louisville priest convicted of child abuse released from prison
“A Louisville priest convicted of abusing children(link is external) has been released from prison. Father Joseph Hemmerle was sentenced to nine years in prison for sexual abuse that happened in the 1970s. The Louisville priest was denied parole several times but Friday (Oct. 1), became eligible to be released into mandatory re-entry supervision. He will be monitored by a parole officer but he isn’t required to register as a sex offender. Hemmerle remains a priest.” By WDRB.com

LOUISIANA

Victim of alleged sexual abuse by a priest speaks out
“Three Acadiana men are speaking publicly for the first time about being repeatedly sexually abused, allegedly, by a local priest(link is external) when they were only 10 and 11 years old. And now in their 50’s, the men are coming forward with the allegations, hoping to find closure through a new law that went into effect earlier this summer, allowing adults who were victims as minors up to three years to file suit against accused offenders.” By Darla Montgomery, KLFY-TV10 News

NEW JERSEY

Camden diocese plan would offer $26 million for clergy sex abuse survivors
“The Diocese of Camden wants a federal bankruptcy judge to approve a plan that offers at least $26 million to about 300 victims of alleged clergy sex abuse(link is external). But attorneys for sex-abuse survivors say they’ll fight the proposal, arguing the diocese and a committee representing sex-abuse claimants remain far apart on financial and other issues.” By Jim Walsh, Cherry Hill Courier-Post

TENNESSEE

Lawsuit Alleges Catholic Diocese Of Nashville Missed Signs Of Sexual Abuse At Murfreesboro Church
“A lawsuit filed this week alleges the Catholic Diocese of Nashville and St. Rose of Lima Church failed to protect a child from a staff member’s sexual abuse(link is external). The suit claims that concerns about sexual misconduct were raised to the bishop of the diocese, the pastor of St. Rose and other officials for years, but no meaningful action was taken. The alleged perpetrator, Michael D. Lewis, was indicted in June 2020 on felony sex crime charges. He will be facing trial for those charges in February. Lewis had been the church’s director of religions education.” By Juliana Kim, WPLN-FM Nashville National Public Radio News

CANADA

Sask. court file reveals new details of Catholic Church compensation for residential school survivors
“A Saskatchewan judge has released files detailing the Roman Catholic Church’s controversial $79-million compensation deal for residential school survivors following a successful court application by CBC News and the Globe and Mail. This cache of documents, along with other internal papers obtained by CBC News in recent weeks, illustrates how Catholic officials, aided by a team of veteran lawyers, successfully fought years of federal government efforts to make them pay(link is external) the full amounts promised in the landmark 2005 Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement.” By Jason Warick, CBC News

FRANCE

An inquiry exposed sexual abuse within French Catholic Church — now what?
“‘The father took me to his tent and closed it,’ said the victim. ‘He kissed me on the lips, with his tongue. It was disgusting. He caressed me. I was petrified,’ the victim continued. ‘He taught me words I didn’t know — like masturbation and fellatio. I thought I need to respect him, he’s a priest. Plus, my parents really appreciate him.’ This was just one experience of many shared in a recent report that revealed the scale of abuse within the French Catholic Church(link is external). At least 216,000 children were abused by Catholic clerics in France since the 1950s, according to the Independent Commission on Sexual Abuse in the Catholic Church (CIASE).” By Deutsche Welle

GERMANY

German Catholic Bishop Suggests ‘Synodal Way’ is Using Abuse Crisis to Reshape Church
“A German Catholic bishop suggested this week that the country’s ‘Synodal Way’ is using the abuse crisis to reshape the Church on Protestant lines(link is external). Bishop Rudolf Voderholzer of Regensburg questioned why the German Catholic Church’s progress in tackling abuse was seldom acknowledged, reported CNA Deutsch, CNA’s German-language news partner. He said: ‘The fact that interested parties now continue to pretend that nothing has actually happened so far … the peculiarities of the Catholic Church are systemically blamed for it, feeds my suspicion that the sexual abuse is being instrumentalized here in an attempt to reshape the Catholic Church along the lines of Protestant church orders, where ‘synod’ means something different than in the Catholic Church, namely a kind of church parliament.’” By Catholic News Agency Staff

GREAT BRITAIN, SCOTLAND, AND WALES

Sheffield bishop Ralph Heskett ‘failed to report priest who sexually abused altar boys’
“Bishop of Hallam Ralph Heskett is claimed to have known about a priest who preyed on altar boys in Liverpool but failed to report him to the police(link is external), with the culprit instead sent away to Scotland. It is alleged that Bishop Heskett, formerly parish priest at Bishop Eton in Childwall, Liverpool, was told about sex abuse by a priest at a Liverpool monastery but did not report him to the police.” By Neil Docking, The Star

Catholic Church in Scotland sets up abuse watchdog
“The Catholic Church in Scotland is setting up an independent watchdog to deal with abuse complaints against members of the clergy(link is external). The move follows a number of sex scandals where the church was accused of failing to respond to concerns. The church said the Scottish Catholic Safeguarding Standards Agency (SCSSA) would produce ‘consistency, transparency and accountability.’ It will operate as an independent private company.” By BBC News

Scots priest abused boys in Liverpool but was sent home after parent spoke out
“A Scots priest abused young altar boys in Liverpool – but was simply sent back home to Scotland after a parent made a complaint about him(link is external). Father Thomas MacCarte allowed the boys to smoke cannabis and drink alcohol so he could sexually abuse them. One of MaCarte’s victims thought the priest was ‘cool’ for letting them hang out in his room, reports Liverpool Echo. However, there was ‘another side’ to MacCarte, from Glasgow, who preyed on children at Bishop Eton Monastery in Woolton Road, Liverpool. Liverpool Crown Court heard how the pervert made one teenage boy watch gay porn, before performing a sex act on him twice.” By Neil Docking and Chloe Burrell, Daily Record

IRELAND & NORTHERN IRELAND

Northern Irish diocese’s plan to redress abuse criticized for payment caps
“Clerical abuse survivors and their advocates are criticizing a new redress scheme in a Northern Irish diocese that has placed a cap on payments for victims(link is external). They say that while the scheme offers to pay about $106,000 to individual survivors, from a total purse of some $3.4 million, limiting the compensation was insensitive and unjust. Some suggest the scheme from the Dromore Diocese would likely suit victims of potential grooming, but are advising other survivors to avoid using it.” By Sahm Venter, National Catholic Reporter

NEW ZEALAND

Catholic Church knew of previous complaint against teen-grooming priest
“A priest convicted of grooming a teenage girl to send him nude photos(link is external) was the subject of a previous complaint that was covered up by the Tongan Catholic Church. The victim’s aunt and an abuse survivors’ group said it showed the church should have prevented Sosefo Sateki Raass’ offending. The Tongan church gave Raass a good character reference before he moved to Auckland, where he was convicted in 2019 of indecent communication with a person under 16 and subsequently quit the priesthood.” By Steve Kilgallon, Stuff.co.nz

PHILIPPINES

No more impunity for child rapists in the Philippines
“The historic bill providing for a life sentence for a convicted child abuser will serve as a powerful deterrent(link is external). The Philippine Senate has finally approved the final draft of a law that is vital to the protection of children and the prosecution of child rapists who were committing the crime with impunity.” By UCANews.com

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French report: 330,000 children victims of church sex abuse / Associated Press

“Victims of abuse within France’s Catholic Church welcomed a historic turning point Tuesday (Oct. 5) after a new report estimated that 330,000 children in France were sexually abused over the past 70 years, providing the country’s first accounting of the worldwide phenomenon.

“The figure includes abuses committed by some 3,000 priests and an unknown number of other people involved in the church — wrongdoing that Catholic authorities covered up over decades in a ‘systemic manner,’ according to the president of the commission that issued the report, Jean-Marc Sauvé.

“The 2,500-page document was issued as the Catholic Church in France, like in other countries, seeks to face up to shameful secrets that were long covered up. Victims welcomed the report as long overdue and the head of the French bishops’ conference asked for forgiveness from them.”

By Sylvie Corbet, Associated Press — Read more …

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