Posts Tagged sexual abuse scandal

Voice of the Faithful Focus News Roundup


December 10, 2019

TOP STORIES

Buffalo bishop resigns after scandal over secret list of abusive priests
“First, a whistle-blower revealed that Bishop Richard J. Malone of Buffalo had kept files about abusive priests that he hid from the public. Then leaked recordings showed that he was reluctant to remove a parish priest whom he called a ‘sick puppy.’ On Wednesday (Dec. 4), after months of pressure from priests and lay leaders, the Vatican said in a statement that it had accepted the resignation of Bishop Malone, effective immediately(link is external). Since the Vatican did not specify the reasons behind the resignation, it was unclear whether Bishop Malone had been forced to quit.” By Sharon Otterman, The New York Times

Legal reckoning: new abuse suits could cost church over $4B
“At the end of another long day trying to sign up new clients accusing the Roman Catholic Church of sexual abuse(link is external), lawyer Adam Slater gazes out the window of his high-rise Manhattan office at one of the great symbols of the church, St. Patrick’s Cathedral. ‘I wonder how much that’s worth?’ he muses. Across the country, attorneys like Slater are scrambling to file a new wave of lawsuits alleging sexual abuse by clergy, thanks to rules enacted in 15 states that extend or suspend the statute of limitations to allow claims stretching back decades.” By Bernard Condon and Jim Mustian, Associated Press, in Time

Argentine court finds two Catholic priests guilty of sexually assaulting deaf children; first convictions in long-alleged abuse
“An Argentine court on Monday Nov. 25) found two priests and a lay worker guilty of the sexual abuse and rape of 10 former students of a Catholic institute for the deaf(link is external), the first legal victory for a string of hearing-impaired victims stretching from Italy to the Andes whose denunciations against one of the clerics to church officials including Pope Francis went unheeded for years. The landmark verdict related to the Provolo Institute for Deaf and Hearing Impaired Children in the western Argentine city of Luján de Cuyo is the latest stain on the church’s handling of sex abuse cases in Francis’s native Argentina. Argentine prosecutors last week requested an international arrest warrant for Catholic Bishop Gustavo Zanchetta—a longtime associate of the pope accused of sexually abusing two seminarians.” By Anthony Faiola, Chico Harlan and Stefano Pitrelli, The Washington Post

Lawsuit: Church pressured victims into unfair settlements
“Two impoverished Mississippi men who say they were sexually assaulted by Franciscan missionaries filed a federal lawsuit Thursday (Nov. 21) claiming that Catholic officials pressured them into signing settlements that paid them little money and required them to remain silent(link is external) about the alleged abuse. The lawsuit, filed in New York, claims the church officials drew up the agreements a year ago to prevent the men from telling their stories or going to court — a violation of a 2002 promise by American bishops to abandon the use of nondisclosure agreements, as part of an effort to end the cover-up of sexual abuse within the church.” By Michael Rezendes, Associated Press

Children’s rights group says ‘third wave’ of abuse scandals hitting Latin America
“A children’s rights group is warning that a ‘Third Wave’ of clerical sex abuse scandals is hitting Latin America, with revelations showing how the Catholic Church has continued to try and hide the extent of the crisis(link is external). The London-based Child Rights International Network (CRIN) released The Third Wave: Justice for survivors of child sexual abuse within the Catholic Church in Latin America on Nov. 20. It looks at the scale of abuse and cover-up by the Church in every Latin American country, as well as reviewing whether national laws on child sex crimes adequately protect children.” By Charles Collins, Cruxnow.com

Questions of faith: exclusive survey of Catholic Church employees
“A vast survey of the Roman Catholic Church workforce in America shows the people who know best how the church is run – the employees themselves – are deeply split on key issues facing parishes across nation(link is external). The survey reveals diocesan priests are far more likely to view clergy abuse as a problem of the past, while nuns and other religious employees often consider sex abuse and misconduct to be major problems even today. And just as Pope Francis considers expanding the role of married men and women in the church, the survey highlights vivid differences in how female and male employees view a host of religious reforms under the Vatican’s consideration.” By Dan Corcoran, NBC-TV Connecticut News

ACCOUNTABILITY

Bishops need to recognize their own checkered history
“Novelist William Faulkner wrote, ‘The past is never dead. It’s not even past.’ Faulkner’s insight is worth remembering in church circles as Catholics deal with the fallout from the ongoing process of bishops investigating other accused bishops(link is external). In the short time since the church formalized that process to deal with its seemingly never-ending crisis, we are finding out that it’s had, to put it mildly, its hiccups.” By National Catholic Reporter Editorial Staff

German Catholic women call for change as ‘synodal path’ gets underway
But the momentum for real change — the loudest voice for a transformation of the church — comes from Catholic women(link is external) who are no longer willing to accept a subordinate role in a male-dominated church. ‘The grief that women had to endure through the power of churchmen was too great, and the hope for real change was too small,’ said Mechthild Heil in an email, noting that many women have turned their backs on the Church. Heil is the leader of the Catholic Women’s Association in Germany and a member of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union Party in the Bundestag.” By Donald Snyder, National Catholic Reporter

Diocese: Bransfield should apologize and pay $792,000 restitution
“Disgraced Bishop Michael Bransfield would make public apologies and pay $792,638 restitution(link is external) if he accepts a proposed ‘plan of amends’ from the Wheeling-Catholic Diocese. Wheeling-Charleston Bishop Mark Brennan on Tuesday outlined the penance for Bishop Michael Bransfield, whose sexual and financial activities continue to receive scrutiny.” By Brad MdElhinny, MetroNews

CARDINALS

Cardinal Cupich: how can we end clerical sex abuse and purify the church?
“One day, a man in his mid-50s came to my office and shared the painful story of being sexually abused by his pastor(link is external). He started serving Mass when he was 9 years old, and the pastor always asked him to stay afterward to tidy up the sacristy. One day the priest took him to the basement and sexually abused him. He did this every Sunday over four years … Seeing the suffering in this victim-survivor’s eyes, witnessing his courage in sharing this horrible experience with me, I knew I had to act.” By Blase J. Cupich, America: The Jesuit Review

McCARRICK INVESTIGATION

NJ’s Former Top Roman Catholic Cleric Among Clergy Named in New Sex Abuse Lawsuits
“Theodore McCarrick — the now-defrocked, one-time top Roman Catholic cleric in New Jersey — is among the defendants named in dozens of lawsuits filed this week(link is external) after lawmakers eased the state’s legal bar on claims of past sexual abuse by clergy members and others in a position of trust. A lawsuit filed on behalf of 37-year-old John Bellocchio alleges that he was assaulted by McCarrick, then the archbishop of the Newark Archdiocese, in the vestry of Hackensack’s St. Francis of Assisi Church in the mid-1990s, when he was a 14-year-old altar server.” By Brenda Flanagan, NJTV News

Pennsylvania, New Jersey bishops ask Vatican for McCarrick report
“The bishops of Pennsylvania and New Jersey discussed sexual abuse with Pope Francis in a Thanksgiving Day meeting, according to Bishop Lawrence T. Persico of Erie, Pennsylvania, who was present at the meeting. The gathering was a central part of the bishops’ ‘ad limina’ visit, during which the bishops also asked the Vatican to release the results of its investigation into Theodore E. McCarrick(link is external), who had served in two New Jersey dioceses before being named archbishop of Washington and a cardinal, then was dismissed from the clerical state when the Vatican determined he had abused minors.” By Cindy Wooden, Catholic News Service, in America: The Jesuit Review

BISHOPS

Adrift & alone
“The 2019 fall gathering of the U.S. bishops in Baltimore lacked the drama of last year’s meeting, where a breakdown in communications between the USCCB and Rome on addressing the sex-abuse crisis was visible for all to see (an embarrassment for which the official explanation contradicts the well-documented history). This time around, the bishops avoided major public missteps(link is external) and everything appeared to go according to plan.” By Massimo Faggioli, Commonweal

Sex abuse claim dismissed by church foreshadowed years of allegations against W.Va. bishop
“Michael J. Bransfield was just a couple of years into his tenure as West Virginia’s bishop in 2007 when one of his former students called a church sexual abuse hotline(link is external). Decades earlier, at a Catholic high school, Bishop Bransfield had repeatedly summoned him from class, escorted him to a private room and fondled his buttocks and genitals, the caller said. The former student said he was a freshman when the unwanted touching began.” By The Washington Post in Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Argentine bishop says he’ll return to face sex allegations
“An Argentine bishop close to Pope Francis said Saturday (Nov. 23) he’ll return voluntarily to Argentina to respond to prosecutors’ accusations of sex abuse(link is external). Javier Belda Iniesta, the canon law lawyer for Bishop Gustavo Zanchetta issued a statement that the monsignor would arrive in Argentina on Tuesday (Nov. 25) and would fully cooperate with authorities. Zanchetta has been formally accused of ‘aggravated continuous sexual abuse’ of two seminarians, charges that carry a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison. He has denied the charges.” By Associated Press

The failed leadership of U.S. bishops is clear
“What a mess. It doesn’t take an ecclesiologist to arrive at that conclusion about the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops after witnessing its dysfunction during the group’s recent meeting in Baltimore. If there is an upside to the proceedings, it is that neither the bishops nor the faithful need any longer pretend that the church is being led competently or that the bishops are acting in unity(link is external). What has become clear is that too many of the bishops still are captives of the political culture wars; that the conference as a whole has been drained of authority and credibility because of the ongoing sexual abuse scandal; and that the bishops have been frozen in place by their inability to collectively and honestly examine the secretive, privileged culture that was the pathway to the current mess.” By National Catholic Reporter Editorial Staff

PRIESTS

Fallen priests: should we hear their stories
“Speaking about the church’s sex-abuse scandal at a September conference on the ‘Catholic Imagination’ at Loyola University in Chicago, the essayist Richard Rodriguez said a very brave thing(link is external). ‘What do we know about these priests? We know nothing about the burden of these fallen priests,’ Rodriguez said, according to articles in the National Catholic Reporter. ‘We don’t know their stories. What do they think they were doing? … We have no idea who they were, or what they suffered…. Our imaginations have gone dull.’” By Paul Baumann, Commonweal

WOMEN DEACONS

Possibility of female deacons gives some Catholic hope
“There are many roles open to women in the Catholic Church today, said (St. Louis University professor of theology Rev. David) Meconi, including campus chaplain and Eucharistic minister. (Eucharistic ministers serve Communion but do not consecrate the bread and wine themselves.) Still, he believes restricting ordination to men is an essential part of the faith(link is external).” By Shahla Farzan, National Public Radio

VATICAN

Vatican still refusing to expel priests condemned in Provolo case
“This week’s convictions of priests Horacio Corbacho and Nicola Corradi for the sexual abuse of minors at the Antonio Próvolo Institute in Mendoza exposes yet another failure by the Vatican to act and respond to judicial sentences against members of the Catholic Church(link is external). In a historic judgment, both priests were convicted for the repeated rape and abuse of deaf students at the school in Luján de Cuyo. Corbacho received 45 years in prison for his crimes and Corradi received 42 years. The institution’s former gardener, Armando Gómez, was given 18 years behind bars.” By Mariana Sarramea, Buenos Aires Times

Vatican accused of harboring bishop in sex abuse claims
“The Vatican has been accused of harboring a bishop wanted for alleged sex abuse offences, as Pope Francis railed against the evils of sexual exploitation on a visit to Thailand. Prosecutors in Argentina have issued an international arrest warrant for Bishop Gustavo Zanchetta, who is accused of sexually abusing young trainee priests(link is external), known as seminarians. He denies the charges. Bishop Zanchetta, 55, who is close to his fellow Argentine Pope Francis, lives in the Vatican.” By Ruth Sax, Premiere.org.uk

Vatican charity knew in 2017 of pedophilia concerns about Central African Republic director
“The Vatican’s Caritas Internationalis charity says it learned in 2017 of pedophilia concerns involving its Central African Republic director, but left it for his superiors to investigate and he remained in place and in ministry until this year(link is external). CNN revealed the scandal over the Rev. Luk Delft this week (Nov. 25), reporting that the Belgian Salesian priest was appointed to lead the Vatican’s main charity in the poverty-stricken country despite a 2012 criminal conviction in Belgium for child sexual abuse and possession of child pornography.” By Associated Press in Los Angeles Times

CHURCH FINANCES

Vatican officials: Swiss bank suspected of money laundering led to Pell conflict
“The Holy See’s relationship with a disreputable Swiss bank triggered an internal dispute(link is external) between the Secretariat of State and Vatican financial authorities. At the center of the conflict was a multimillion-dollar line of credit used to fund a controversial investment in London property speculation. Sources inside the Vatican’s Prefecture for the Economy confirmed to CNA that a substantial part of the $200 million used to finance the Secretariat of State’s purchase of a luxury development at 60 Sloane Avenue came through credit extended by BSI, a Swiss bank with a long track record of violating money-laundering and fraud safeguards in its dealings with sovereign wealth funds.” By Ed Condon, Catholic News Agency

Study shows 65% of U.S. dioceses post audited financial reports online, but 27% post no financial information
“Voice of the Faithful has completed its third annual study of U.S. Catholic dioceses’ online financial transparency(link is external) and concluded that, although a majority of dioceses have made a commitment to financial transparency, a sizable minority share little or no verifiable financial information with their members.” By Voice of the Faithful in Longview News-Journal

CELIBACY& MARRIED PRIESTS

German Catholics’ celibacy debate could lead to schism with Vatican
“German Catholics are meeting to debate what remain taboo subjects for many in the church — lifting celibacy policies and whether to allow women to play bigger roles in ecclesiastical life(link is external). The German Bishops Conference and the Central Committee of German Catholics will start a two-year process of reckoning and reform on Sunday (Dec. 1), the first day of Advent. The meeting comes in response to damning revelations of sexual abuse in the church.” By Ivana Kottasova, CNN

FUTURE OF THE CHURCH

German Catholic Church debates sexuality, celibacy and women’s roles
“The Roman Catholic Church in Germany has a split identity(link is external). At home, attendance is falling and many Germans say they regard the church’s teaching on social issues as hopelessly out of touch. But globally, the German church is one of the most powerful — and liberal — regions of the Catholic world, a player whose wealth and theological influence are now creating a challenge for the entire church.” By Liam Stack, The New York Times

VOICES

Viewpoints: healing reconciliation, reform: a path forward for he diocese of Buffalo
“Last December, the Movement to Restore Trust empaneled six working groups involving about 150 Catholics who developed a series of reports and recommendations for reform in the Diocese of Buffalo. These reports were released to the public this past July. The Movement was working with the diocese on the early stages of implementation of various reforms when it determined in early September that it did not believe that it could make further progress on its reform agenda while Bishop Richard J. Malone remained in office(link is external). The Movement called for the bishop’s resignation on Sept. 5. He has refused to resign.” By John J. Hurley, Special to The Buffalo News

Our View: State falls short on abuse reform
“The 2018 release of state Attorney General Josh Shapiro’s grand jury report exposing decades of Roman Catholic clergy child sexual abuse offered state lawmakers the opportunity to level a gross imbalance of power and speed justice to damaged victims. They failed to deliver in full(link is external). Landmark legislation guaranteed to protect future victims is heading to Gov. Tom Wolf’s desk to be signed into law … But when it comes to the grand jury recommendation that victims be given a time window to sue the church retroactively, those victims who want to confront their abusers independently and transparently in a court of law again must wait.” By GoErie.com Editorial Board

STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS

Ohio House GOP leader ‘open’ to statute of limitations reform after I-Team report on Catholic church

“The author of a 2006 bill that reformed Ohio’s civil statute of limitations for child sex abuse wants to revise the law again after reviewing materials uncovered in the I-Team’s three-month investigation of the Catholic Church(link is external). Rep. Bill Seitz, a Republican from Green Township, said he would like to encourage more public disclosure in the church and correct problems a Columbus judge cited in 2010. As majority floor leader, Seitz sets the Republican agenda in the House.” By Dan Monk, WCOP-TV9 News

How some sex abuse victims are finding different ways to sue clergy in Pennsylvania
“The #MeToo movement and revelations around child sexual abuse have prompted lawmakers across the U.S. to extend the window to sue for old sexual assaults(link is external). Pennsylvania’s Legislature just passed a bill that would move forward a constitutional amendment that allows these suits. But that process can take years. From member station WHYY, Laura Benshoff reports on a group of victims who are not waiting for that to happen to sue the Catholic Church.” By Laura Benshoff, Blue Ridge Public Radio

Pennsylvanians get more time on sex abuse charges, suits
“The state where a grand jury’s groundbreaking report set off a new wave of reckoning over sexual abuse in the Roman Catholic Church passed legislation Thursday (Nov. 21) giving victims more time to sue and police more time to file charges(link is external). The Pennsylvania House sent the statute-of-limitations bill to Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf with a 182-5 vote, along with a measure that invalidates secrecy agreements in lawsuit settlements that prevent child sexual abuse victims from talking to investigators.” By Mark Scolforo, The Morning Call

CLERGY CHILD SEXUAL ABUSE

Advocacy group urges changes to Catholic abuse review boards
“The bishop of the Kansas City-St. Joseph Roman Catholic diocese, who was recently appointed chairman-elect of the U.S. Catholic church’s national committee for protecting abuse victims, should lead an effort to change boards that review abuse allegations(link is external) to make them more transparent, inclusive and willing to publicly identify predator priests, an advocacy group said Friday (Nov. 15).” By Margaret Stafford, Associated Press

Clergy abuse reparations are closure for some victims, resurface trauma for others
“For some, these payments provided a kind of closure, after years of ‘howling into the wind(link is external),’ as 67-year-old John Quinn put it. He first came forward two decades ago with allegations of sexual assault by a Philadelphia priest and said he considered waiting to sue. Instead, he received $250,000 from the Archdiocese of Philadelphia Independent Reparations and Reconciliation Program in February. ‘I’m a man of my word; I signed it and I said I wasn’t going to go after them anymore,’ said Quinn. Still, doubts and questions persist, he said. ‘I get stressed, I get depressed, I get what-ifs … what if it didn’t happen this way, where would I be?’” By Laura Benshoff, National Public Radio

Pennsylvanians to get more time on sex abuse charges, suits
“The state where a grand jury’s groundbreaking report set off a new wave of reckoning over sexual abuse in the Roman Catholic Church passed legislation Thursday (Nov. 21) giving victims more time to sue and police more time to file charges(link is external). The Pennsylvania House sent the statute-of-limitations bill to Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf with a 182-5 vote, along with a measure that invalidates secrecy agreements in lawsuit settlements that prevent child sexual abuse victims from talking to investigators.” By Mark Scolforo, Associated Press

CALIFORNIA

Pedophile priests operated at this Bay Area school for decades. This is the Catholic order that covered up their abuse
“Two boys, born into deeply religious families, both sent to Catholic school, and both abused by the very priests and teachers meant to protect them(link is external). George Stein and Joey Piscitelli grew up a decade apart, but they are connected by their abuse at the hands of priests and brothers from a Catholic order founded to help and support vulnerable children. Their experiences reveal a pattern of abuse and cover-up going back more than half a century.” By Nima Elbagir,Barbara Arvanitidis, Katie Polglase,Bryony Jones and Alex Platt, CNN

Pinay filmmaker sues LA’s Catholic archdiocese over childhood sexual assault by Filipino priest
“A Filipina American filmmaker from Hollywood is suing the Archdiocese of Los Angeles over sexual assault she experienced as a child by a Filipino priest(link is external).  The suit is said to be the first civil lawsuit against the nation’s largest Catholic diocese since California passed a law giving childhood sexual assault survivors more time to file civil lawsuits.” By Rae Ann Varona, Asian Journal

MICHIGAN

Former Coloma, Michigan, priest pleads guilty to a felony after clergy abuse investigation
“Michigan Attorney Dana Nessel said a 57-year-old Coloma priest pleaded guilty to felony charges Wednesday(link is external) (Nov. 20). The Rev. Brian Stanley pleaded guilty to attempted false imprisonment during a pretrial conference in an Allegan County Circuit Court. Stanley faces five years in prison and will be required to register as a sex offender for 15 years. ‘Mr. Stanley’s decision to plead guilty to attempted false imprisonment ensures that he will be held accountable for the pain and suffering he has caused,’ Nessel said in a written statement on the pleading.” By WWMT-TV3 News

NEW JERSEY

New accusers file suits alleging sex abuse by defrocked Paterson Diocese priest
“At least two new accusers came forward this week(link is external) (Dec.4) to file sex abuse lawsuits naming a now-defrocked Paterson Diocese priest, James T. Hanley, who has admitted to abusing children and was at the center of the 2002 Catholic Church scandal in New Jersey related to an alleged cover-up of sex abuse by some bishops.” By Abbott Koloff, NorthJersey.com

New sex abuse lawsuits roll in as New Jersey law takes effect
“Three years ago Sunday (Dec. 1), Carolyn Fortney woke up in a hospital. She had tried to end her life, she said, because of sexual abuse she endured from a priest decades ago(link is external). Her sisters were with her then, and three were next to her Monday (Dec. 2) in Newark, when the family announced a new lawsuit against Newark’s Archdiocese. ‘Did they know he was a pedophile, prior to moving him to PA?’ asked Lara Fortney-McKeever, one of Carolyn’s sisters who said she was also abused in Pennsylvania by the same priest.” By Blake Nelson, New Jersey Advance Media for NJ.com

New accuser names former Cardinal McCarrick as dozens of lawsuits are filed un New Jersey law
“The first wave of lawsuits was filed Sunday (Dec. 1) under a new state law(link is external) that opened the way for perhaps hundreds of people to bring sex abuse claims against the Catholic Church, the Boy Scouts of America and other institutions. They included a new accuser saying in court papers that he was abused as a child growing up in Hackensack by former Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, once one of the most powerful leaders in the U.S. Catholic Church. McCarrick was defrocked earlier this year amid allegations that he sexually abused minors and harassed adult seminarians.” By Abbott Koloff, NorthJersey.com

Diocese of Metuchen addresses indictment, alleged crimes predating accused’s tenure as priest
“The former pastor of Our Lady of Mount Virgin Parish in Middlesex, Fr. Patrick J. Kuffner, identified on the list of names of clergy currently under investigation(link is external) by civil authorities as released by the Diocese of Metuchen in February of this year, was arrested Nov. 20 by the Ocean County Sheriff’s Department on three counts of sexual assault of a minor that date back more than three decades to when he was a layperson and while in Massachusetts.” By Diocese of Metuchen

NEW YORK

Sexual abuse and its widespread damage
“During the last two decades, we have learned more about sexual abuse than we ever expected or wished to know. The suffering that victims and their families endured has been twofold(link is external) — the abuse itself and the trauma of being silenced or ignored. Much has changed in the church since the adoption of the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People (the Dallas Charter) in June 2002, but the pain continues.” Editorial by The Tablet, the newspaper of the Diocese of Brooklyn

NORTH CAROLINA

Reporter Sarah Delia talks about ‘The List,’ a new investigative series from WFAE
“Most Catholic dioceses in the country have released a list of clergy credibly accused of sexual abuse. The diocese of Charlotte has not released a list(link is external), but its bishop has said he’s committed to doing so by the end of the year. In the meantime, WFAE’s Sarah Delia has been learning how such a list is compiled, what it means, and how victims of clergy continue to deal with the abuse they suffered.” By Sarah Delia, WFAE-RF National Public Radio

More ‘credible’ sexual misconduct claims found against former Belmont Abbey leader
“Belmont Abbey College announced late Tuesday (Nov. 26) that four more claims of sexual misconduct have been found ‘credible’(link is external) against one of the school’s former top officials. The findings involve Monsignor Mauricio West, who was most recently the vicar general and chancellor of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Charlotte. He stepped down from those roles in March after an initial claim of sexual misconduct against him – concerning an incident in the mid-1980s – was found to be credible by authorities with the diocese.” By Michael Barrett, Gaston Gazette

OHIO

These priests, credibly accused of child sexual abuse, still live quietly in the Tri-State
“The Diocese of Covington suspended the Rev. Jack Goeke from ministry in 1994 after two women accused him of sexually abusing them while they were as young as 11(link is external). More than two decades later, local Catholic Church and community leaders participated in a celebration to honor Goeke. A Facebook photo from June 2018 shows a smiling Goeke at a groundbreaking ceremony for a legacy house honoring his quarter-century of work at Housing Opportunities for Northern Kentucky, a nonprofit that renovates and builds homes for low-income families.” By Paula Christian, Craig Cheatham and Don Monk

OKLAHOMA

Internal investigation clears Tulsa priest of sexual abuse allegations
“A Tulsa Roman Catholic priest is being allowed to return to work after officials with the Diocese of Tulsa and Eastern Oklahoma say an internal investigation failed to substantiate allegations of sexual abuse of a minor(link is external). The diocese on Tuesday announced that the Rev. Joe Townsend is no longer on administrative leave and could be considered for a pastoral assignment next year.” By KFOR-TV4 News

PENNSYLVANIA

Pennsylvania’s clergy abuse hotline received 1,900 calls since grand jury report
“Nearly one year after a landmark grand jury report revealed accusations of sexual abuse against more than 300 priests across Pennsylvania, the state‘s clergy abuse hotline is still ringing. The hotline has received 1,862 calls since being instituted last August(link is external), according to Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro. The majority of the calls, roughly 90 percent, were related to allegations of abuse or cover-ups within the Catholic church. The remaining calls were related to institutions or individuals outside the Catholic church.” By Hoback Herald

Survivors conflicted about compromise to change Pennsylvania sex abuse law
“When Pennsylvania overhauled its child sexual abuse laws this week after a years-long battle, absent from the bill-signing ceremony were some of the people who had worked hardest for the changes. Some sexual-abuse survivors and victim advocates felt conflicted by the compromise package(link is external): Missing was a cornerstone of the recommendations by last year’s landmark grand jury report on child sexual abuse inside six of Pennsylvania’s eight Roman Catholic dioceses. That recommendation was for a two-year window in state law to allow now-adult victims of child sexual abuse to sue over claims that are past Pennsylvania’s statute of limitations.” By Marc Levy, Associated Press, in The Morning Call

WASHINGTON, D.C.

Catholic priest Urbano Vasquez gets 15 years for sexual abuse of children
“A Catholic priest has been sentenced to 15 years in prison for sexually abusing two children(link is external) at a DC church. The Washington Post reports that most of the more than 80 people who filled the courtroom Friday were supporters of 47-year-old Urbano Vazquez, providing a visual representation of how this case has divided his former parish.” By Associated Press on WJZ-TV13 News

WYOMING

Gordon says he’ll talk to AG about priest abuse in Wyoming
“Gov. Mark Gordon said he would talk with Wyoming Attorney General Bridget Hill about investigating sexual abuse by priests in the Equality State, in the wake of other states launching their own inquiries(link is external) into the history of abuse by Catholic clergymen. ‘My sense is I probably will, now that you bring it up, probably ask Attorney General Hill her point of view of where the state’s role should be,’ Gordon said during a wide-ranging interview with the Star-Tribune on Tuesday (Dec. 3). ‘Those are horrific cases. Horrific cases.’” By Seth Klamann, Caspar Star Tribune

Police say no plans to look into investigation into bishop, despite criticism from victim’s family
“There doesn’t appear to be much interest at looking back to 2002. Cheyenne police say they have no plans to reexamine that year’s most high-profile sexual abuse investigation(link is external). In April 2002, recently retired Wyoming Bishop Joseph Hart was accused of sexually abusing a teenage boy in Cheyenne in the 1970s. The Cheyenne police investigation that followed lasted two months before the allegation was declared unfounded because of a lack of victim cooperation.” By Seth Klaman, Caspar Start Tribune

AFRICA

How a Catholic order dedicated to protecting children failed them
“A pedophile priest was sent to work for an aid organization helping vulnerable families in an African country, even though his Catholic order knew he had been convicted of abusing children years earlier in Europe(link is external), a CNN investigation has found. Father Luk Delft is accused of abusing at least two other boys in the Central African Republic (CAR) while in a key role at Caritas, a leading Catholic charity.” By Nima Elbagir, Barbara Arvanitidis, Katie Polglase, Bryony Jones and Alex Platt, CNN, on WRAL.com

ARGENTINA

Argentine prosecutor calls for international arrest of bishop accused of sex abuse
“An Argentine criminal prosecutor has requested the arrest of a Roman Catholic bishop after officials said he ignored repeated calls and emails relating to an investigation of sex abuse allegations against him(link is external). The prosecutor in charge of gender violence and sex crimes for Oran, in the northern province of Salta, called for the arrest of Gustavo Zanchetta. The official request would need to be made by an Argentine judge, a spokeswoman for the prosecutor’s office said on Thursday (Nov. 21).” By Cassandra Garrison, reuters, on WTVBAM.com

AUSTRALIA

States agree on uniform mandatory reporting laws
“A federal and state agreement to standardize laws making it mandatory for priests to report child sexual abuse revealed during confession(link is external) is ‘counter-productive and unjust,’ Archbishop Mark Coleridge said. The state and federal attorneys-general agreed to three principles for the laws at a meeting in Adelaide on Friday (Nov. 29). The Australian Catholic Bishops Conference president said that while the Church supports nationally consistent mandatory reporting regimes and reportable conduct schemes that include ministers of religion as mandatory reporters, it does not consider the removal of legal protections for the sacramental seal of confession to be ‘helpful or necessary.’” By CathNews.com

CANADA

36 cases of abuse by Catholic priests uncovered in B.C.
“A file review of sexual abuse by Catholic clergy within the Archdiocese of Vancouver has uncovered 36 cases, most of them involving minors(link is external). A report released Friday (Nov. 22) says Archbishop Michael Miller appointed a committee last year to conduct the review following the disclosure of global sexual abuse by clergy. ‘This past year, guided by divine providence, we have studied and learned more than ever before about the pain suffered by you, victims/survivors of clerical sexual abuse in our Archdiocese,’ Miller says in a pastoral letter preceding the report.” By Brenna Owen, The Canadian Press, on HuffingtonPost.ca

Judge to investigate Montreal archdiocese’s handling of priest’s sexual abuse
“Montreal’s archdiocese enlisted a former Quebec Superior Court justice on Monday (Nov. 25) to investigate the case of a priest found guilty of sexually abusing two boys(link is external). Pepita G. Capriolo will conduct the investigation into Rev. Brian Boucher, a Catholic priest who was sentenced in March to eight years behind bars.” By The Canadian Press

FRANCE

French cardinal’s career at stake in sex abuse case
“A French cardinal said Thursday (Nov. 28) he did not understand why he was found guilty of covering up sexual abuse of children(link is external), speaking at an appeals court hearing that will help determine his future within the Catholic Church. Cardinal Philippe Barbarin tried to resign after his original conviction in March for failing to report a predator priest to police. But Pope Francis refused to accept the resignation until the appeals process is complete.” By Nicolas Vaux-Montagny, Associated Press

GUAM

Guam Catholic Church enters bankruptcy amid sex abuse claims
“Guam‘s Catholic Church filed for bankruptcy Wednesday (Nov. 20), a move that will allow the archdiocese to avoid trial in dozens of child sexual abuse lawsuits and enter settlement negotiations(link is external). Ford Elsaesser, an attorney representing the church, said the Chapter 11 bankruptcy petition was filed with federal court in Guam. The church faces multimillion-dollar lawsuits for sexual abuse from about 190 accusers. Elsaesser couldn‘t put a figure on the dollar amount the church is hoping to raise for its settlement. But it said its current assets are valued at $22.9 million with liabilities of $45.6 million. The church also plans to sell non-essential real estate and add the proceeds to the settlement fund.” By Stock Daily Dish

INDIA

Catholic priest arrested for allegedly making schoolgirls view porn
“An elderly Catholic priest, who worked as a correspondent of a school in Coimbatore, was arrested on Thursday (Nov. 21) for allegedly sexually harassing students of the institution(link is external). The priest, Maria Antony Raj, was reported to be around 60 years of age. Raj had been the correspondent of the St Mary’s High School in the Gandhipuram area of Coimbatore for over a year. The Hindu reported Raj allegedly forced ‘at least’ five girls of the school to open lewd content on his mobile phone on multiple occasions.” By The Week

MEXICO

Victim ignored by bishop today pushes Mexican Church on reform
“From the time she was 10 until she turned 17, Maria says she was sexually abused by a priest in San Ambrosio in the Mexican state of Sonora(link is external). Years after the local bishop refused to investigate her allegations, her abuser was finally removed from the clerical state. For the past two years, she’s been asked by several abuse prevention experts to share her story, including before several hundred South American bishops.” By Inés San Martin, Cruxnow.com

In 10 years, 550 sexual abuse complaints against Catholic Church
“Mexico has had the highest number of sexual abuse complaints against members of the Catholic clergy in Latin America(link is external) over the last decade. According to the Child Rights International Network (CRIN), there have been 550 complaints from 2008 to February of this year against priests and other workers in the Catholic Church. In the last nine years, 152 priests have been suspended from their duties for presumed sexual abuse.” By Mexico Daily News

Priest abused by head of Catholic order abused at least eight girls aged 6-11
“A priest abused as a teenager by the founder of the Legion of Christ Catholic order himself went on to abuse children in at least two cities(link is external) in Mexico. Fernando Martínez Suárez admitted to having sexually abused at least eight girls aged 6 to 11 between 1990 and 1993 at the Cumbres Catholic Institutes in Mexico City and Cancún.” By Mexico News Daily

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Buffalo bishop resigns after scandal over secret list of abusive priests / The New York Times

“For better or worse, he (Bishop Malone) had become the lightning rod for all that was wrong, and we really weren’t going to make any progress toward healing and reconciliation as long as he remained,” said John J. Hurley, the president of Canisius College. (The New York Times)

First, a whistle-blower revealed that Bishop Richard J. Malone of Buffalo had kept files about abusive priests that he hid from the public. Then leaked recordings showed that he was reluctant to remove a parish priest whom he called a “sick puppy.”

“On Wednesday (Dec. 4), after months of pressure from priests and lay leaders, the Vatican said in a statement that it had accepted the resignation of Bishop Malone, effective immediately. Since the Vatican did not specify the reasons behind the resignation, it was unclear whether Bishop Malone had been forced to quit.

“Bishop Malone, in a statement, described his resignation as an early retirement that had been accepted by Pope Francis. He said he had made the decision to step down ‘freely and voluntarily’ after being made aware of the conclusions of a recent Vatican investigation into the crisis in his diocese, which has been in turmoil over his handling of clergy abuse cases.

“‘I have concluded, after much prayer and discernment, that the people of Buffalo will be better served by a new bishop who perhaps is better able to bring about the reconciliation, healing and renewal that is so needed,’ he wrote.

By Sharon Otterman, The New York Times — Read more …

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Catholic Church could be hit by a deluge of lawsuits thanks to new state laws / Time

AP interviews with more than a dozen lawyers and clergy abuse watchdog groups offered a wide range of estimates but many said they expected at least 5,000 new cases against the church in New York, New Jersey and California alone, resulting in potential payouts that could surpass the $4 billion paid out since the clergy sex abuse first came to light in the 1980s. (Time)

A wave of new laws in 15 states that allow people to make claims of sexual abuse going back decades could bring a deluge of lawsuits against the Roman Catholic Church that could surpass anything seen so far in its clergy abuse crisis.

“Associated Press reporting found it could result in thousands of new cases against the church and more than $4 billion in payouts.

“It’s a financial reckoning playing out in such populous Catholic strongholds as New York, California and New Jersey, among the eight states that go the furthest with ‘lookback windows’ that allow sex abuse claims no matter how old.

“That has lawyers fighting for clients with TV ads and billboards asking, ‘Were you abused by the church?’ And Catholic dioceses are considering bankruptcy, victim compensation funds and even tapping valuable real estate to stay afloat.”

By Bernard Condon and Jim Mustian, Associated Press, in Time — Read more …

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Church sex abuse boards often undermine victims, help clergy / Associated Press

The AP checked all the roughly 180 dioceses in the U.S. for information, reviewed thousands of pages of church and court records and interviewed more than 75 abuse survivors, board members and others to uncover a tainted process where the church hierarchy holds the reins of power at every stage. (Associated Press)

Facing thousands of cases of clergy sex abuse, U.S. Catholic leaders addressed their greatest crisis in the modern era with a promised reform: Mandatory review boards.

“These independent panels with lay people in each diocese would review allegations fairly and kindly. And they would help bishops ensure that no abusive priests stayed in ministry.

“But almost two decades later, an Associated Press investigation of review boards across the country shows they have broadly failed to uphold these commitments. Instead, review boards appointed by bishops and operating in secrecy have routinely undermined sex abuse claims from victims, shielded accused priests and helped the church avoid payouts.

“The AP also found dozens of cases in which review boards rejected complaints from survivors, only to have them later validated by secular authorities. In a few instances, board members were themselves clergy accused of sexual misconduct. And many abuse survivors told the AP they faced hostility and humiliation from boards.”

By Reese Dunklin, Mitch Weiss and Matt Sedensky, Associated Press — Read more …

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‘By the Grace of God’ explores the church’s inimaginable betrayal of child victims of sexual abuse / Minneapolis Star Tribune

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Illinois chief justice distrusts church hierarchy to police itself on abuse / National Catholic Reporter

“Unfortunately, the hope I extended to you in 2012 has been severely eroded,” she (Illinois Chief Justice Anne Burke) said. “I no longer have faith in the hierarchy.” (National Catholic Reporter)

Don’t count on the bishops to clean up sex abuse in the church, Anne Burke told the annual gathering of Voice of the Faithful here Oct. 19.

“Burke, chief justice of the Illinois Supreme Court and a justice of the court’s First Judicial District, formerly served as interim chair of the National Review Board for the U.S. bishops’ conference; she last addressed Voice of the Faithful in 2012. At that time, she saw reason for optimism that the bishops were willing to address the sex abuse crisis.

“‘Unfortunately, the hope I extended to you in 2012 has been severely eroded,’ she said. ‘I no longer have faith in the hierarchy.’

“Voice of the Faithful was founded in 2002 in response to the sex abuse crisis in the Boston Archdiocese, where this year’s convention was held. The group now boasts affiliates around the country, which monitors progress on transparency by the church hierarchy on sex abuse and finances.

“‘I am disheartened to say we continue to learn of new instances of clerical misconduct and discover anew that some members of the hierarchy have engaged in secrecy and cover-ups,’ Burke said.

“The cover-ups, Burke said, have a long history. In her time at the National Review Board, she encountered stiff resistance among some bishops.”

By Peter Feuerherd, National Catholic Reporter — Read more …

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Unsupervised accused priests teach, counsel, foster children / Associated Press

“A recent push by Roman Catholic dioceses across the U.S. to publish the names of those it considers to be credibly accused has opened a window into the daunting problem of how to monitor and track priests who often were never criminally charged and, in many cases, were removed from or left the church to live as private citizens.” (Associated Press)

Nearly 1,700 priests and other clergy members that the Roman Catholic Church considers credibly accused of child sexual abuse are living under the radar with little to no oversight from religious authorities or law enforcement, decades after the first wave of the church abuse scandal roiled U.S. dioceses, an Associated Press investigation has found.

“These priests, deacons, monks and lay people now teach middle-school math. They counsel survivors of sexual assault. They work as nurses and volunteer at nonprofits aimed at helping at-risk kids. They live next to playgrounds and day care centers. They foster and care for children.

“And in their time since leaving the church, dozens have committed crimes, including sexual assault and possessing child pornography, the AP’s analysis found.

“A recent push by Roman Catholic dioceses across the U.S. to publish the names of those it considers to be credibly accused has opened a window into the daunting problem of how to monitor and track priests who often were never criminally charged and, in many cases, were removed from or left the church to live as private citizens.”

By Claudia Lauer and Meghan Hoyer, Associated Press — Read more …

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