Posts Tagged sexual abuse scandal

Explainer: What the church has done to fight clergy sex abuse since 2018’s ‘summer of shame’ / America: The Jesuit Review

According to a ProPublica database, 178 dioceses and religious orders in the United States have now released lists of clergy members who have been credibly accused of sexually abusing minors. The lists name 6,754 alleged abusers in total. (America: The Jesuit Review)

“It has been two years since the Pennsylvania Grand Jury Report was published on Aug. 14, 2018, documenting in at times disturbing detail at least 1,000 cases of abuse by 300 predator priests spanning seven decades. Within two months, 13 more states and the District of Columbia had launched similar investigations, and Pope Francis had accepted the resignation of Cardinal Donald Wuerl, then-archbishop of Washington, who was named in the report as failing to deal adequately with abuse when he was bishop of Pittsburgh.

“The Pennsylvania report came in the middle of what became known as the Catholic Church’s ‘summer of shame,’ which began with the surfacing of accusations of abuse of minors by the now-laicized former Cardinal Theodore McCarrick and ended with the release of Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano’s bombshell letter accusing church leaders, including Pope Francis, of knowing about Mr. McCarrick’s actions and failing to take action.

“Two years later, the church has taken actions on local and global levels toward greater transparency regarding abuse accusations and investigations, closed loopholes that had allowed bishops who covered up abuse not to face consequences and created universal guidelines for abuse reporting systems to be established in every diocese in the world.”

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

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Voice of the Faithful Focus News Roundup


August 10, 2020

TOP STORIES

Former Vatican ambassador to stand trial in Paris on charges of ‘sexual aggression’ against four men
“The former Vatican nuncio in France, Archbishop Luigi Ventura, 75, will stand trial in Paris on Nov. 10 on charges of alleged ‘sexual aggression’ against four men(link is external), Agence France-Press and other French media, including Le Monde, reported today, based on information from judicial sources. It is the first time in the modern history of papal diplomacy that a nuncio of the Holy See will stand trial in a civil court.” By Gerard O’Connell, America: The Jesuit Review

Church in Argentina is making a ‘change in mentality’ on clerical sexual abuse
“Two major archdioceses in Argentina are facing allegations of wanting to ‘replace the state’ by creating a commission to receive allegations of clerical sexual abuse(link is external), but one expert says civil law and canon law aren’t competitors for justice. ‘Always, every case, the law of the State wherever the abuse happens, must be followed and respected,’ said Maria Ines Franck, the executive secretary of the Pastoral Council for the Protection of Minors and Vulnerable Adults of the Argentine bishops’ conference.” By Inés San Martín, Cruxnow.com

A Church That Is Poor? Money, Sectarianism, & Catholic Tradition
“What to make of the fact that the Catholic Church received $1.4 billion from the U.S. government’s Paycheck Protection Program? The remarks from Oklahoma City Archbishop Paul S. Coakley seem to suffice. As he put it, the ‘Catholic Church’ in this case encompasses the hundreds of individual Catholic dioceses, parishes … Yet at the same time, we should remain mindful about the constitutional and political issues concerning the relationship between Church and state, and the continued need for financial accountability and transparency in light of the links between the sexual-abuse crisis and financial mismanagement in Catholic institutions(link is external).” By Massimo Faggioli, Commonweal

Latin Americans press fight against clerical sexual abuse
“Public Mass might have stopped across much of the world during the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic, but several aspects of the life of the Church have continued, including efforts to prevent clerical sexual abuse in Latin America … ‘Nowhere have I encountered the level of destruction I found within the Church,’ said Chilean laywoman Maria Josefina Martinez Bernal, a member of the National Council on Abuse Prevention and Victims Accompaniment of the Chilean bishops conference since 2011, and a member of the Fundacion para la Confianza, an NGO founded by three survivors of former Chilean priest Fernando Karadima.” By Inés San Martín, Cruxnow.com

Is child abuse now just more hidden from view?
“Authorities have seen a dramatic decrease in the number of child abuse cases being reported, but they aren’t viewing it as good news(link is external). Berrien County Prosecutor Michael Sepic and Jamie Rossow, executive director of the Children’s Advocacy Center of Southwest Michigan, say they suspect that child abuse is actually up and is just not being reported. They said this is occurring not just locally but all across the country.” By Julie Swidwa, Herald Palladium

Papal envoy to meet women who ‘applied’ to be priests, bishops
“‘We’re working for equality of all baptized Catholics, and we understand that in a very broad way,’ she (Alix Bayle, a representative of the coalition) said, but insisted that it’s not just about the priesthood. ‘What should be clear is that we don’t just want ordination for women, and actually some of us don’t want that … but we do want a reformed Church, we want the Church to be reformed so that also laypeople have more responsibilities and actions, and that true synodality is lived(link is external).’ Bayle said there is a common feeling inside the coalition that the Catholic Church ‘is in urgent need to respond on many fronts,’ one of which is ‘asking for equality for all baptized women.’” By Elise Ann Allen, Cruxnow.com

ACCOUNTABILITY

Magazine report is aimed at silencing nuns on sex abuse, says Vatican critic
“An article in a Jesuit magazine describing alleged exploitation of nuns in Catholic convents has been criticized as an attempt to silence members of women’s religious orders who have begun to speak out against sexual abuse by priests(link is external). ‘I think there is a possibility of a revolt of religious sisters,’ said Lucetta Scaraffia, the former head of the Vatican magazine Donne, Chiesa, Mondo (Women, Church, World), adding that many nuns she has heard from ‘are furious.’” By Claire Giangravé, Religion News Service

Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston rolls out third-party system for reporting of alleged abuse, harassment
“The Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston announced two third-party reporting systems for people to use about concerns and allegations of abuse and harassment in the diocese. DWC officials announced on Monday (Aug. 3) the partnership with Navex Global to roll out a new version of its EthicsPoint platform, intended to report suspected financial, professional, and personal misconduct of a priest, deacon, religious, or lay employee of the diocese, parish, or Catholic school in West Virginia(link is external). This comes more than a year after the Catholic Church investigation concluded disgraced former Bishop Michael Bransfield sexually harassed younger priests and misused millions of dollars in church money.” By West Virginia MetroNews

French Sex Assault Trial Ordered For Pope’s Ex-envoy
“Pope Francis’s former ambassador to France, Luigi Ventura, will stand trial for sex assault in Paris in November following complaints by four men(link is external), one of whom accused the cleric of inappropriate touching, lawyers said Thursday (Jul. 30). Ventura, an Italian-born archbishop, was stripped of his diplomatic immunity by the Vatican last July after he was questioned by French police, and resigned in December when he reached the 75-year age limit for his post.” By Agence France Press

Diocese Still Awaiting Guidance From Vatican on Bransfield’s Amends
“More than eight months after the amends for disgraced bishop Michael Bransfield were announced, Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston officials still have heard nothing from The Vatican about how to proceed(link is external). In a letter sent to Roman Catholics across West Virginia on Tuesday Jul. 28), the Most Rev. Mark Brennan said he is still waiting for guidance from Pope Francis on whether the amends set forth against the former bishop are appropriate or whether there should be changes.” By Mike Jones, The Intelligencer/Wheeling News-Register

McCARRICK INVESTIGATION

New Abuse Lawsuit Filed Concerning Former Cardinal Theodore McCarrick
“Today, I filed a civil sexual abuse lawsuit against the Diocese of Metuchen concerning a courageous survivor who was abused by McCarrick(link is external) in the early 1980’s when McCarrick was the bishop of Metuchen. Apart from all the recent news stories about McCarrick, I learned about McCarrick and his secret life about 15 years ago from Richard Sipe, a good friend and colleague. When our discussions turned to the Catholic Church and sexual abuse, Richard never hesitated to share his frustration with the hierarchy, including popes and bishops, whom he said knew about McCarrick’s sexual abuse of children and seminarians.” By Joseph H. Saunders, Los Angeles Injury Loss News, The Legal Examiner Affiliate

Catholic Church hesitant to publish McCarrick report as survivors continue to sue
“Insiders say the Vatican sponsored investigation of disgraced and former Cardinal Theodore McCarrick has been completed for months and sits gathering dust on Pope Francis’ desk(link is external). In the meantime, survivors come forward and file abuse lawsuits against Catholic dioceses in New Jersey, the Archdiocese of New York, and the Archdiocese of Washington revealing more embarrassing details of McCarrick’s history of predation.” By Legal Examiner

Eradicating the McCarrick Virus
“It has now been two years since Pope Francis accepted Theodore McCarrick’s resignation from the College of Cardinals(link is external), shortly after allegations of his sexual abuse of a minor and evidence of other sexual exploitations first detonated into public view. Yet after all this time, Catholics in the United States are still waiting for answers about which Church leaders, here and in Rome, knew about McCarrick’s scandalous situation but failed to take meaningful disciplinary and preventive actions — and possibly even facilitated and abetted his meteoric rise to prominence.” By The Editors, National Catholic Register

PRIESTS

Priest shortage forcing Jesuits to leave New Mexico
“A shortage of Jesuit priests is forcing the storied Society of Jesus Catholic order to abandon New Mexico(link is external) after more than 160 years. The St. Louis, Missouri-based Jesuits USA Central and Southern Province is pulling out the last remaining four Jesuit priests next year, the Albuquerque Journal reports. Rev. Warren Broussard, pastor of Immaculate Conception Church and Parish in Albuquerque will be the last to depart next June 30.” By The Associated Press

Should priests still lead parishes? German bishops debate new Vatican document
“The Vatican instruction on the reform of Catholic parishes continues to stir debate in Germany, where some bishops say the current parish model with a priest in charge is no longer sustainable because of a lack of vocations(link is external). The instruction bars laypeople from leading parishes and emphasizes the role of priests. It directly opposes efforts to hand over the management of parishes to teams made up of priests and dedicated church members as well as other staff.” By Catholic News Service in America: The Jesuit Review

WOMEN RELIGIOUS

A virtual LCWR assembly aims to discern modern role of women religious
“Meeting fellow sister leaders over coffee or lunch, perusing and networking with exhibition booths, sharing deep exchanges between speakers: The subtle yet substantial interactions that infused past annual assemblies of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious will be absent this year. But rather than canceling the gathering that was to be in Dallas, Texas, LCWR decided to take the Aug. 12-14 assembly online(link is external), as the coronavirus pandemic discourages large, in-person gatherings.” By Soli Salgado, National Catholic Reporter

Franciscan Sisters give NCR $1.5 million to help ‘wake up the world’
“The Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration announced on July 31 a gift of $1.5 million to NCR’s endowment(link is external) earmarked to support and amplify ‘integral ecological education and journalism reflecting the spirit of Laudato Si’.’ The gift marks the establishment of the Laudato Si’ Fund, which NCR will seek to grow with gifts from other donors. It is one of the largest donations ever received by NCR. The donation represents roughly half of the amount needed to permanently endow NCR’s environmental coverage.” By National Catholic Reporter Staff

Vatican official laments system of ‘dominance, submission’ for women religious
“Brazilian Cardinal João Braz de Aviz, the Vatican’s point man on consecrated life, has criticized what he said is a state of ‘dominance’ that men often hold over women in the Catholic Church, and stressed the need for a deeper renewal of religious life across the board(link is external). ‘In many cases, the relationship between consecrated men and women represents a sick system of relations of submission and dominance that takes away the sense of freedom and joy, a misunderstood obedience,” said Braz de Aviz in a recent interview.” By Elise Ann Allen, Cruxnow.com

WOMEN IN THE CHURCH

Catholic bishops urged to appoint a woman as co-chair of Plenary Council
“Australia’s Catholic bishops must appoint a woman as co-chairperson of the church Plenary Council (PC) if they wish the summit meeting to be taken seriously(link is external), the Australian Catholic Coalition on Church Reform has declared. After a Zoom meeting attended by over 100 church reform advocates representing thousands of Catholics from around Australia and New Zealand on 16 July, co-chairs Andrea Dean and John Warhurst said there was overwhelming support for recognition of women’s leadership in the church. This is fundamental to the reform of church governance.” By Catholic Outlook

VATICAN

Vatican instructions give parishioners more hope in face of closings
“Arthur McCaffrey fought for about a decade to keep his parish in suburban Boston open. But in 2015, St. James the Great Parish in Wellesley was demolished. The site is now home to the Boston Sports Performance Center … Now, four years later, the Vatican’s new document on pastoral care raises the question of whether parishioners have more legal recourse(link is external) within the church to keep their parishes open. The answer appears to be yes. The 22-page document from the Vatican’s Congregation for the Clergy, released July 20, is titled ‘The pastoral conversion of the parish community in the service of the evangelizing mission of the church.’” By Mark Nacinovich, National Catholic Reporter

Former Vatican ambassador to stand trial in Paris on charges of ‘sexual aggression’ against four men
“The former Vatican nuncio in France, Archbishop Luigi Ventura, 75, will stand trial in Paris on Nov. 10 on charges of alleged ‘sexual aggression’ against four men(link is external), Agence France-Press and other French media, including Le Monde, reported today, based on information from judicial sources. It is the first time in the modern history of papal diplomacy that a nuncio of the Holy See will stand trial in a civil court. This was made possible when Pope Francis last year authorized the Holy See to lift the archbishop’s diplomatic immunity.” By Gerard O’Connell, America: The Jesuit Review

VOICES

Progressive millennials offer the church much hope and promise
“I wasn’t surprised when, in late July, the Vatican put out new instructions limiting the extent to which the laity can preside over a parish. But I was sad to see an institution so intent preserving clerical power that it is willing to deny the gifts that the laity offer to the life of the church every day(link is external). Laypeople, the document says, should not be ‘directing, coordinating, moderating or governing the Parish.’ Only a priest can exercise ‘the full care of souls,’ the Vatican tells us — which means, of course, women never can.” By Jamie Manson, National Catholic Reporter

STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS

Congress Should Expunge Statutes of Limitations on Child Sexual Assault
“July 2020 marks the tenth anniversary of Florida’s repeal of all civil and criminal statutes of limitation for prosecution of cases involving child sexual battery(link is external). The repeal has opened courthouse doors so survivors can enter when they are sufficiently recovered mentally and emotionally to confront their abusers. A delayed report of child sex abuse to law enforcement no longer means officers have to wait for the reporting of a predator’s next victim and abusers can now be brought to justice and exposed in our communities.” By Michael Dolce, Newsweek

CLERGY SEXUAL ABUSE

The Heavy Toll of Priest Sex Abuse
“Readers share their stories of growing up in the Catholic church and of the culture that allowed the abuse to happen(link is external).” Letters to the Editor, The New York Times

Case against diocese draws attention
“The Pennsylvania Supreme Court in the past week has received several friend-of-the-court briefs both supporting and challenging a landmark decision made by the court last year in which it allowed an Altoona woman to proceed with a sexual abuse case against a priest, even though the alleged offenses occurred in the mid-1970s(link is external). Pennsylvania’s highest court agreed in March to review the Superior Court decision, which has drawn interest from church organizations as well victims’ rights groups nationwide.” By Phil Ray, Altoona Mirror

CALIFORNIA

Warrant issued for California priest who failed to show
“A San Francisco Bay Area priest accused of sexual battery failed to appear in court(link is external) Monday (Jul. 27) and a judge issued a warrant for his arrest. Varghese Alengadan, 67, known as ‘Father George,’ was charged last week with one count of misdemeanor sexual battery for allegedly inappropriately touching a woman in July 2019.” By Associated Press

KENTUCKY

Diocese of Covington: 59 priests sexually abused children since 1950
“A nearly year-long review of records at the Diocese of Covington found that 59 Catholic priests and 31 others associated with the church have sexually abused children(link is external) since the 1950s. A report summarizing the findings of the review was released Friday (Jul. 31) on the diocese’s website, along with a list naming the accused and a letter of apology from Covington Bishop Roger Foys.” By Erin Glynn and Dan Horn, Cincinnati Enquirer

LOUISIANA

Abuse victims say Archdiocese of New Orleans must reveal ‘secret’
“Local victims of Catholic clergy abuse(link is external) want to see investigation records the Archdiocese of New Orleans has shared with the Vatican. Members of the Survivors Network of those Abuse by Priests (SNAP) held a news conference Friday (Jul. 31) at Notre Dame Seminary, where area Catholic priests are trained. They called upon Archbishop Gregory Aymond to share all documents related to abuse probes.” By WDSU-TV6 News

New Orleans priest continued serving 13 years after abuse claim landed him in treatment
“Sixteen years ago, Ricky Monsour spoke up for the first time about how he was groomed and molested in his boyhood by a priest the Catholic Church(link is external) eventually acknowledged was almost certainly a child predator. But it was only recently that he decided to speak out about the details of the $106,000 payment that the church later gave him to quietly settle his claims of abuse at the hands of Carl Davidson.” By David Hammer, Eyewitness News, and Ramon Antonio Vargas, The New Orleans Advocate

MASSACHUSETTS

Vicar general of Springfield diocese won’t accept reappointment, says he was ‘unfairly’ portrayed in Weldon report
“Fallout continues in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Springfield as the diocesan vicar general, the Rev. Monsignor Christopher Connelly, will not seek reappointment, saying he was ‘unfairly and unfavorably portrayed’ in the recent report into allegations of sexual abuse(link is external) by the late Bishop Christopher J. Weldon. Connelly’s announcement coincides with letters having circulated in the religious community in which retired priest James Scahill, an outspoken advocate on behalf of victims of sex abuse within the Catholic church, called for the removal of the vicar based on the results of the report by retired Judge Peter A. Velis. The vicar is second only to the bishop in the diocesan hierarchy.” By Anne-Girard Flynn, MassLive.com

MISSOURI

Two new lawsuits filed against Kansas City diocese over local priests’ alleged sexual abuse
“Two new lawsuits have been filed against the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph, claiming the diocese covered up abuse by two local Catholic priests(link is external). ‘My church was completely aware,’ a victim’s statement reads. An interpreter read the statement Tuesday (Jul. 28) in front of the Kansas City Catholic Diocese headquarters. ‘I was taken to him for help,’ the victim said. ‘Unfortunately, help was the furthest thing from his mind.’” By Regan Porter, FOX4-TV News

MONTANA

Jesuits: Child sex abuse claim ‘credible’ against former Missoula pastor
“A former Jesuit pastor at St. Francis Xavier Catholic Church in Missoula has been permanently removed from ministry after officials in the church’s province found claims that he sexually abused a minor girl 40 years ago to be credible(link is external), according to a statement from the province. The Rev. Rich Perry will remain at Sacred Heart Jesuit Center in California and live under a safety plan, according to the statement provided to the Missoulian … Perry’s name and a timeline of his assignments have been added to a publicly available online list of Jesuits with credible claims of sexual abuse of a minor or vulnerable adult.” By Seaborn Larson, Missoulian

NEW JERSEY

Camden’s Roman Catholic diocese suspends payments to clergy abuse victims, citing COVID-19 financial stress
“Citing financial losses resulting from the coronavirus pandemic, the Roman Catholic Diocese of Camden in New Jersey said Friday (Jul. 31) that it would halt payments from a clergy sex-abuse victim fund that has paid out nearly $7.6 million(link is external). In a statement, the diocese said it had suffered a “precipitous decline in revenue” and was rapidly approaching a point where it would not be able to continue to borrow money to pay authorized awards.” By Jeremy Roebuck, The Philadelphia Inquirer, on Bakersfield.com

Metuchen Diocese looks to settle mentally disabled man’s clergy sexual abuse case
“The Diocese of Metuchen has offered to settle a lawsuit brought by a mentally disabled man who claims he was sexually abused by priest(link is external) in the basement of St. James Catholic Church in Woodbridge nearly three decades ago. The priest, the Rev. Kevin P. Duggan, took the man to a private area of the basement of St. James on Amboy Avenue on two separate occasions and pulled the man’s pants and underwear down to his ankles and touched his penis, according to the lawsuit.” By Nick Muscavage, Bridgewater Courier News, on MyCentralJersey.com

Former Cardinal McCarrick accused of participating in beach house ‘sex ring,’ lawyers allege
“He is known only as ‘Doe 14.”’ Raised in a devout Catholic family, he attended St. Francis Xavier in Newark and Essex Catholic in East Orange in the Archdiocese of Newark, participating in church and youth activities. And by the time he was a teenager, his lawyers say he was being groomed for a role in what they called a ‘sex ring’ involving then-Bishop Theodore McCarrick(link is external), the 90-year-old now defrocked and disgraced former cardinal who was cast out of the ministry last year over decades-old sexual abuse allegations.” By Ted Sherman, NJ Advance Media for NJ.com

NEW MEXICO

Two more Catholic priests accused of child sexual abuse in southern New Mexico
Two Catholic priests were accused Tuesday (Aug. 4) of child sexual abuse(link is external) in southern New Mexico. Civil complaints were filed against the two priests, as well as the Las Cruces and El Paso dioceses and the parishes where the alleged sexual abuse occurred. Fr. Roderick Nichols and Fr. Damian Gamboa were named in the alleged abuse of John Doe and Jane Doe.” By Leah Romero and Damien Willis, Las Cruces Sun-News

NEW YORK.

Dunkirk church named in new Child Victims Act suit
“The former pastor of a Dunkirk church is being accused of sexually abusing a child(link is external) in the 1960s in a new Child Victims Act lawsuit filed Monday (Aug. 3). The complaint, filed in New York State Supreme Court in Chautauqua County, names the former St. Mary’s Church as a defendant. The victim claims to have been abused by the Rev. Maurus Schenck between 1962 and 1968 when the victim was about 12 to 17 years old.” By Eric Tichy, Post-Journal

Two weeks remain for civil lawsuits against Diocese of Rochester
“All legal claims against the Diocese of Rochester must be filed within the next two weeks, according to a federal bankruptcy judge(link is external). U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Paul Warren issued the ruling Wednesday (Jul. 29), stating August 13, 2020 will be the deadline for filing claims in the Diocese’s Chapter 11 case. An official committee representing plaintiffs in abuse cases and other unsecured creditors had filed a motion to extend the deadline, but were denied.” By WHAM-TV13 News

Child Victims Act plaintiff confronts Bishop Scharfenberger: ‘I lost my son’
“Kevin Brun, a member of the committee representing childhood survivors of sex abuse in Buffalo Diocese bankruptcy proceedings, told Bishop Edward B. Scharfenberger on Wednesday (Jul. 29) that his son killed himself within 24 hours of reading Brun’s letter of being abused by a priest(link is external) more than 40 years ago. Brun gave Scharfenberger a heart-wrenching account of losing his son Patrick, 21, on Easter Sunday in 2019, saying he wanted the bishop and the diocese’s lawyers to understand his level of commitment to making sure victims of abuse get a measure of justice in the bankruptcy.” By Jay Tokasz, The Buffalo News

FBI: Queens Priest Shared Sexually Explicit Texts, Photos With 15-Year-Old Boy
“A priest in Queens was arrested Wednesday (Jul. 29) by the FBI for allegedly sending sexually explicit text messages and photos to a 15-year-old boy(link is external). Francis Hughes, 65, a pastor at a religious institution in Glendale, is charged with receiving images of child pornography via text from a 15-year-old minor in Westchester. ‘The allegations against Francis Hughes are chilling and frightening to any parent. A person who, by the nature of his profession, is presumed to be trustworthy allegedly victimized a child,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Audrey Strauss.” By Erica Brosnan, WCBS News Radio

Four new sex-abuse suits filed against Monsignor Paddack; 1 from time as Farrell principal
“A new lawsuit claims that Monsignor John Paddack sexually abused a boy at Monsignor Farrell High School in the early 2000s(link is external). The former principal of the all-boys school in Oakwood was named in four new lawsuits filed Wednesday in Manhattan state Supreme Court by Jeff Anderson & Associates under the New York Child Victim’s Act. ‘These lawsuits demonstrate Paddack’s pattern of predation: In each instance, exploiting his clerical power to abuse children,’ said attorney Jeff Anderson. His firm has filed numerous lawsuits alleging sex-abuse by clergy.” By Maura Grunlund, SILive.com

Legislation would make clergy mandatory reporters
“Legislation introduced by Assembly member Monica Wallace titled the CARE Act has passed the Assembly this week. The Child Abuse Reporting Expansion Act would add clergy members to the list of mandatory reporters of child abuse and maltreatment(link is external), ‘closing a loophole that allowed for the proliferation and cover-up of child abuse,’ according to Wallace. The act was introduced last year, weeks after passage of the Child Victims Act, which extended the statute of limitations for survivors of child abuse to file civil claims and provided a temporary period during which survivors could file a claim regardless of how long ago the alleged abuse occurred.” By Cheektowaga Bee

A flurry of lawsuits alleging child sex abuse are filed as deadline for claims nears
“In one lawsuit filed on Thursday (Jul. 23), eight men alleged that a longtime Orange County priest sexually abused them when they were children(link is external), adding their claims to those of at least three other accusers of the late Rev. George Boxelaar who have sued. In another case brought one day earlier, a former Middletown School District student alleges he was molested in second or third grade by Dr. Stefan Irving, a former school pediatrician now serving almost 22 years in prison for a 2003 conviction on charges he traveled abroad to have sex with minors.” By Chris McKenna, Times Herald-Record

Suit alleges sexual abuse at St. Agnes Rectory in 1980s
“One word comes to mind when Mark Rowe recalls Joseph Larrabee, a former priest who’s now the subject of multiple lawsuits alleging the sexual abuse of children(link is external). ‘I guess the word is charismatic,’ said Rowe, the latest to file suit against Larrabee. ‘Funny guy. There wasn’t anybody that didn’t like him – adults, kids. He was very likable.’So when Larrabee, an associate pastor at the St. Agnes parish, invited Rowe and some of his classmates over for a sleepover at the rectory one summer in the early 1980s when Rowe was in his early teenage years, Rowe didn’t think much of it.” By Matt Leader, Livingston County News

OHIO

Catholic order’s list of accused shows past of mishandling abuse allegations
“A Dayton Daily News investigation into the Society of Mary’s handling of alleged abuse of children by its members found the religious order concealed allegations against some from parents, students and school officials(link is external). The order released a list this summer of 46 priests and brothers its leaders say sexually abused children since 1950, but critics say the disclosure falls short.” By Josh Sweigert, Dayton Daily News

Clinical counselor taking clergy abuse reports at Coumbus Diocese
“Laura Lewis believes that mental health counseling is beyond essential when working with survivors of priests’ sexual abuse of minors(link is external). That’s part of the reason she said she was happy to accept the position of interim victims assistance coordinator when it was offered by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Columbus. Lewis began the part-time position on July 15, replacing Monsignor Stephan Moloney in the role that includes taking all reports of sexual abuse by a clergy member in the diocese; leading the Diocesan Board of Review for the Protection of Children, a group of 10 that determines whether claims are credible; and facilitating healing and help for survivors.” By Danae King, The Columbus Dispatch

PENNSYLVANIA

Archdiocese of Philadelphia grants over $50 million in financial reparations to survivors of sexual abuse
“The Archdiocese of Philadelphia has paid out or approved over $50 million so far to 222 clergy sex abuse survivors(link is external), according to a new report from the Independent Reconciliation and Reparations Program. IRRP was launched in November 2018 as a means of providing settlements to claimants alleging abuse by archdiocesan clergy. The program’s administrators, acting independently of the archdiocese, assess claims and offer compensation with no monetary cap, either individually or in total. Claims are considered regardless of how long ago the events in question occurred, or whether the statute of limitations has expired.” By Gina Christian, Catholic News Service, in America: The Jesuit Review

Erie Diocese sued over claims of abuse cover-ups
“A woman is using a new ruling in Pennsylvania law to sue the Catholic Diocese of Erie over claims it covered up child sex abuse allegations against one of its priests(link is external), the Rev. Michael G. Barletta, named as one of 301 ‘predator priests’ in the statewide grand jury report issued two years ago. The woman’s lawsuit, filed in Erie County Court this week, appears to be part of a growing trend. Other plaintiffs have filed at least three other legal actions against the diocese in Erie County Court since July 15, with claims related to sex abuse allegations or cover-ups.” By Ed Palattella, GoErie.com

Man sues Allentown diocese, Northampton church and school, claiming priest molested him when he was 11
“A 57-year-old Pennsylvania man who claims that he was molested by a Catholic priest from a Northampton church starting when he was 11 years old(link is external), has filed a lawsuit, one of numerous claims recently made under a potential loophole in the statute of limitations for civil cases involving sexual abuse. The plaintiff, identified as Joe Doe in the suit filed Wednesday (Jul. 22) in Lehigh County Court, claims that he was sexually abused in the 1970s and early 1980s by the Rev. Thomas Kerestus.” By Laurie Mason Schroeder, The Morning Call

TENNESSEE

Harriman priest named in sexual abuse lawsuit
A lawsuit filed in the Circuit Court of Knox County accuses a Harriman Catholic priest of sexually abusing a female parishioner(link is external). Plaintiff Celeste Arnone alleges that she sustained injuries and damages as a result of a sexual relationship with Father Michael Sweeney, pastor of Blessed Sacrament Church in Harriman. The Catholic Diocese of Knoxville is also listed as a defendant.” By Hugh Willett, Roan County News

Nashville Diocese Paid $65K Settlement to Priest’s Alleged Abuse Victim
“The Catholic Diocese of Nashville paid $65,000 in May to settle the case of an adult woman who says she was sexually abused by a priest who was working as a chaplain at Aquinas College and the Dominican Campus. The settlement was revealed by the London-based Catholic Herald, which published an investigation over the weekend raising questions about how the diocese handled the abuse allegations.” By Steven Hale, Nashville Scene

WASHINGTON

Former Gonzaga Prep Jesuit priest added to list of credibly accused abusers
“A Jesuit priest assigned to Gonzaga Preparatory School for two periods in the 1960s and ’70s has been added to a list of Catholic clergy credibly accused of sexual abuse(link is external). Richard Perry has been assigned to the Sacred Heart Jesuit Center in California since October, as provincial authorities investigated an allegation of sexual abuse by an adult female at St. Francis Xavier Parish in Missoula. During that investigation, a second credible allegation was made regarding abuse against a female student at Seattle Preparatory School in the late 1970s and early ’80s, according to a statement from Jesuits West.” By

WASHINGTON, D.C.

Lawsuit claims McCarrick ‘groomed’ abuse victims
“A man has filed a lawsuit claiming that he and others were sexually abused as boys(link is external) in the 1980s in New Jersey by Catholic priests and bishops, and were groomed for and by Theodore McCarrick, who went on to become Archbishop of Washington. The New Jersey lawsuit also claims that McCarrick began sexually abusing boys in 1969, 50 years before he was laicized by Pope Francis in 2019.” By Rick Massimo, WTOP News

WISCONSIN

Pewaukee priest once accused of sexual assault of a minor free to return to church
“A Pewaukee priest whose sexual assault of a minor case ended with a mistrial and then dropped charges is being allowed to return to work(link is external) at his church, the Archdiocese of Milwaukee announced Saturday. The announcement comes after the archdiocese says it completed its own investigation into the allegations against the Rev. Charles Hanel, 63, and determined they were unsubstantiated and false.” By Elliot Hughes, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

CHILE

Survivors’ group in Chile condemns abuse ‘secretism’ of Catholic Church
“A little over two years after Pope Francis accepted the resignation of a controversial Chilean bishop accused of covering up sexual abuse by his mentor, a local network of clerical abuse survivors are alleging that neither civil nor Church authorities are making allegations public(link is external). In an online map that is updated periodically, mostly recently on Wednesday (Jul. 29), the Chilean Network of Clerical Sexual Abuse Survivors counts 41 new allegations against priests, religious brothers, and religious sisters in the past 6 months.” By Inés San Martín, Cruxnow.com

GREAT BRITAIN, SCOTLAND & WALES

96-year-old man ‘ruined many lives’ and used his position in society to cover up his secret … and he got away with it for decades
“A 96-year-old former Catholic priest was jailed today (Jul. 29) for sexually abusing six boys(link is external) more than 30 years ago. All but one of Father John Kevin Murphy’s victims came forward to police after seeing media reports about him being imprisoned in 2017 for molesting other boys. Liverpool Crown Court heard he had been ordained as a priest in 1962 and served in a number of parishes in Greater Manchester, Merseyside and Lancashire until he retired.” By Lynda Roughley and Helen Johnson, Manchester Evening News

INDONESIA

Justice delayed, denied for victims of sexual abuse in Catholic Church
“Victims of sexual abuse and harassment in the Indonesian Catholic Church face ‘thick walls’ of silence, secrecy and denial, having to bear trauma while the priests who they have accused remain on a moral pedestal. Sisca, who has chosen to use an alias to protect her privacy, said she was molested by a Catholic priest in Jakarta when she was 11 years old(link is external). The 38-year-old watches the same priest greet school children in the same Catholic school every morning, and in December of last year, she heard His Eminence Ignatius Cardinal Suharyo, the highest-ranking member of the Indonesian Catholic Church, deny that he had ever received any reports of sexual abuse in the Church.” By Ivany Atina Arbi, Evi Mariani and Dwi Atmanta, The Jakarta Post

PHILIPPINES

Ex-judge to clergy: Focus on fixing Church scandals, not politics
“Former Sandiganbayan justice and Commission on Elections (Comelec) chairperson Harriet Demetriou on Tuesday (Jul. 28) called out religious leaders for engaging in politics and urged them to focus instead on reforming the Catholic Church which has been plagued by scandals(link is external). ‘Instead of your non-stop politicizing, criticizing and demeaning the System which includes the judicial power of the Philippines, you wait for the decision of the Supreme Court on some issues you rally behind together with some politicians and ‘prostitute’ the dignity of your being ministers of God for self-seeking objectives,’ Demetriou said in a Facebook post particularly directed to Manila Apostolic Administrator, Bishop Broderick Pabillo, Caloocan Bishop Pablo Virgilio David, and Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Socrates Villegas.” By Benjamin Pulta, Philippine News Agency

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Voice of the Faithful Focus News Roundup


TOP STORIES

Vatican says bishops should report sex abuse to police
“The Vatican told bishops around the world on Thursday (Jul. 16) they should report cases of clergy sex crimes to police(link is external) even when not legally bound to do so, in its latest effort to compel church leaders to protect minors from predator priests. The Vatican issued a long-awaited manual for bishops and religious superiors on conducting in-house investigations into allegations of priests who rape and molest minors and vulnerable adults. While the Vatican has had detailed canonical norms in place for two decades, the laws continue to be ignored by some bishops who dismiss allegations by victims in favor of protecting their priests.” By Nicole Winfield, Associated Press

Catholic Church lobbied for taxpayer funds, got $1.4B
“The U.S. Roman Catholic Church used a special and unprecedented exemption from federal rules to amass at least $1.4 billion in taxpayer-backed coronavirus aid(link is external), with many millions going to dioceses that have paid huge settlements or sought bankruptcy protection because of clergy sexual abuse cover-ups. The church’s haul may have reached — or even exceeded — $3.5 billion, making a global religious institution with more than a billion followers among the biggest winners in the U.S. government’s pandemic relief efforts, an Associated Press analysis of federal data released this week found.” By Reese Dunklin and Michael Rezendes, Associated Press

Reporter’s notebook: clergy sex abuse accountability
“I interviewed Francesco Cesareo, the former chairman of the National Review Board, last week for Our Sunday Visitor on the completion of his eight years leading the committee that advises the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops on clergy sex abuse matters(link is external). Cesareo, the president of Assumption College in Worcester, Massachusetts, also went into the progress made on holding bishops accountable, the changes that he believes still need to be made to the Dallas Charter, as well as the reasons he sees for why a culture of accountability may not yet have taken root in some parishes or schools.” By Brian Fraga, Our Sunday Visitor, on Patheos.com

ACCOUNTABILITY

Argentine archbishops under attack for establishing abuse reporting offices
“Two archbishops in Argentina are under fire for following Pope Francis’s orders in creating an office to receive allegations of clerical abuse(link is external). They are being accused of ‘usurpation of the role of the State, swindles and other frauds,’ an allegation some described as ‘grotesque.’ The criminal complaint against Archbishop Eduardo Martin of Rosario and Archbishop Sergio Fenoy from nearby Santa Fe was filed after the two prelates announced the ‘implementation of a system for receiving allegations’ of sexual crimes committed by priests and other members of the Church.” By Inés San Martín, Cruxnow.com

Diocesan clergy abuse Review Board Chairman John Hale resigns, quits Catholic church following Bishop Weldon report
“The chairman of the Springfield Catholic Diocese’s volunteer Review Board resigned in the wake of the release of a report finding late Bishop Christopher Weldon raped a young boy(link is external). John Hale, who served on the volunteer board that hears clergy abuse allegations for 14 years, said he resigned in disgust in the wake of the report, authored by retired Judge Peter A. Velis at the request of the diocese … Hale, retired from both the U.S. Air Force and the Hampden County Sheriff’s Department, said even more than that, his experience over the Weldon matter triggered his decision to leave the Catholic church altogether.” By Stephanie Barry, Springfield Republican, on MassLive.com

Leadership Roundtable calls for new financial standards for church
“A new report by Leadership Roundtable recommends establishing national standards for financial management for dioceses across the United States(link is external), along with an annual, publicly shared audit of financial policies and practices. It also calls for the church to invest in more training and support for young adults interested in ministry. The proposal is modeled after the ‘Dallas Charter,’ which was implemented by the U.S. bishops in 2002 and established national protocols for child protection and would be codified in the church’s canon law. The Leadership Roundtable is an organization devoted to promoting best management practices in the church.” By Christopher White, National Catholic Reporter

CARDINALS

New cardinals? They’ll be more of the same
The good news is 15 new cardinals seem to be on the Roman horizon. The bad news is they are all men(link is external). Yes, Francis will choose from the peripheries. Yes, he will most probably select the usual suspects — the archbishops of Washington, D.C., and Paris, for example. But a mix of major sees, elderly theologians and surprise picks is probably the best he can do right now. Don’t expect a woman’s name to be on the list. The 1917 Code of Canon Law decreed cardinals — advisers to the pope and electors of his successor — must be ‘at least’ priests. The 1983 code added they ‘must receive episcopal ordination’ if not already bishops (Canon 351.1).” By Phyllis Zagano, National Catholic Reporter

CARDINAL PELL

My faith sustained me: Cardinal Pell
“Cardinal George Pell says he was spat on and abused by fellow prisoners while serving time in jail for historical child sex offences(link is external) and that, in his darkest hours, he contemplated abandoning his fight to clear his name. Opening up about his time behind bars, Cardinal Pell also said the fact he was despised by many of his fellow inmates for being a convicted child sex offender actually helped restore his faith in the natural “existence of right and wrong”. By CathNews.com

McCARRICK INVESTIGATION

New sex abuse accusation surfaces against former cardinal Theodore McCarrick
“A firm that has filed previous legal complaints against former Cardinal Theodore E. McCarrick and church entities added another complainant July 21 against the defrocked prelate, leveling a new accusation that he allegedly abused its new client as a boy at a beach house in Sea Girt, New Jersey(link is external), in the early 1980s. (Attorney Jeff) Anderson said the new complaint identifies at least seven children who were ‘groomed by others for McCarrick,’ and in addition to McCarrick it names several Catholic entities as defendants.” By Rhina Guidos, Catholic News Service, America: The Jesuit Review

‘Pray for your poor uncle,’ a predatory priest told his victims
“Rain fell in New York City four days before Christmas of 2018. Francis M. had planned to be in the city that day for business, but he had dutifully put aside time when asked to answer questions at the Archdiocese of New York offices about his experiences with “Uncle Ted” — former Cardinal Theodore McCarrick(link is external). Francis had been in enough depositions in his career as an attorney to know how these question-and-answer sessions went. He assumed he would relate the story of his interactions with Mr. McCarrick, which began when he was 11, and then he would return to his usual routine.” By Elizabeth Bruening, The New York Times

BISHOPS

Allegation of clergy sexual abuse cover-up filed against Springfield Bishop Mitchell Rozanski
“Olan Horne, a long-time advocate for clergy sexual abuse victims, has filed an allegation that Springfield Bishop Mitchell T. Rozanski engaged in a cover-up(link is external) with the Catholic Bishops Abuse Reporting Service. Horne said his complaint is not solely based on a recent investigation by retired Judge John Velis that determined how the Springfield Diocese handled allegations of abuse against the late Bishop Christopher J. Weldon was ‘greatly flawed.’” By Anne-Gerard Flynn, The Springfield Republican

PRIESTS

Opus Dei confirms one of its priests sentenced by Vatican for abuse
“Through a statement released on Thursday Jul. 16), Opus Dei publicly acknowledged the first sentence issued by the Vatican against one of its priests for sexual abuse(link is external). ‘The Opus Dei prelature in Spain asks for forgiveness and deeply regrets the suffering caused to the victims,’ says the statement. ‘We ask God to bring comfort and healing to those affected.’” By Inés San Martín, Cruxnow.com

Safeguarding seminar highlights the need for more holistic formation
Priestly formation should focus as much on relationships and formation around sexuality(link is external) as it does on the intellectual, spiritual and pastoral aspects of priesthood, international child protection expert Fr Hans Zollner told Australian seminarians and formators last week. Catholic Professional Standards Limited held the first session of its online Seminary Formation and Safeguarding Seminar last Friday (Jul. 10), which included a keynote from Fr Zollner for seminarians and others involved in forming people for religious life.” By Michael McVeigh, Catholic Outlook

LAITY& THE CHURCH

Boston College theologian Richard Lennan returns as speaker for 2020 Voice of the Faithful Conference
“Voice of the Faithful is welcoming back Boston College theology professor Fr. Richard Lennan as a speaker at its 2020 Conference: Visions of a Just Church(link is external), a virtual Zoom gathering that takes place Oct. 3. VOTF members and others will meet to promote their visions of a just Church 18 years after The Boston Globe brought to light widespread clergy abuse in the Archdiocese of Boston and Voice of the Faithful was founded. After nearly two decades, VOTF continues to address the scandal.” Digital Journal

VATICAN

Vatican: In rare cases, lay faithful can lead marriage rite
“The Vatican said on Monday (Jul. 20) that in very exceptional circumstances and with special permission, lay Catholics can be allowed to perform marriage rites(link is external). In a document issued by the Holy See office for clergy, the Vatican said that could only happen if there are no priests or deacons available, the nation’s bishops sign off on the exception and the Holy See OKs it too.” By Associated Press

Vatican issues guidelines for parishes in Pope Francis era
“Urging parish communities to abandon ‘outdated’ models and to embrace what Pope Francis has styled as a spirit of ‘missionary evangelization,’ the Vatican Monday (Jul. 20) issued a new instruction on the renewal of parish life(link is external). Among other things, the guidelines caution priests not to ‘commercialize’ the sacraments by charging fees, and they stipulate that financial difficulties within a diocese are not a legitimate reason for closing down parishes.” By Elise Ann Allen, Cruxnow.com

CHURCH FINANCES

Archdiocese adds $2.5 billion to Queensland Economy
“A ground-breaking study shows the Brisbane Archdiocese makes a $2.5 billion contribution to the Queensland economy(link is external) through its parishes, schools and agencies … It’s the first time a socio-economic study of this size and scope has examined the community role of the Church, stretching across south-east Queensland, taking in 17 local government areas, 24 federal and 70 state electorates.” By CathNews.com

Vatican’s new financial regulator vows transparency
“The Vatican’s new financial regulator says he is confident that the days when the Holy See would ‘wash dirty laundry’ in private are over(link is external) and that Pope Francis’ recent spending rules are a sea change in transparency. In an interview with Reuters, Carmelo Barbagallo, the head of the Vatican’s Financial Information Authority (AIF), cited two recent scandals that were revealed by the Vatican and not by the media.” By Philip Pullella and Stefano Bernabei, Reuters

FUTURE OF THE CHURCH

German archdiocese plans to cut parishes from 1,000 to 40
“A German archdiocese is pressing ahead with plans to dramatically reduce the number of its parishes despite the Vatican’s decision to block a similar plan in another diocese(link is external). CNA Deutsch, CNA’s German language news partner, reported July 15 that Archbishop Stephan Burger intends to turn the archdiocese’s 1,000 parishes into 40 mega parishes. In a July 14 letter to archdiocesan staff, Burger described the proposal as an ‘adequate response to the challenges facing our archdiocese.’” By Catholic News Agency

VOICES

Bishop McElroy’s hopeful vision of a church transformed
“Last week, San Diego Bishop Robert McElroy ordained a new auxiliary, Bishop Ramon Bejarano. McElroy’s homily was a tour de force, not only for its spiritual insights, but for its connections of those insights with the crises facing the nation today(link is external). He spoke this brief but incisive meditation on the Gospel image of the Good Shepherd that should be shared with all new bishops …” By Michael Sean Winters, National Catholic Reporter

STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS

Statute of limitations reform: A bittersweet, overwhelming success
“This week (Jun. 26), the US Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) reported that allegations of child sexual abuse in the Catholic Church TRIPLED in the past year. There is only one reason for this huge increase in reports: Statute of Limitation Reform.(link is external) Survivors in many states (California, New Jersey, New York, Arizona) now have the right to come forward in the courts to expose the men and women who abused them and the institutional actors who covered it up.” By Joelle Casteix, The Worthy Adversary

CLERGY SEXUAL ABUSE

Top Vatican investigator on sex abuse says church must empower victims
“It’s been more than a year since Pope Francis issued his historic document, ‘Vos Est Lux Mundi (You are the light of the world),’ and ushered in a new wave of transparency and accountability for abuse cases in the Catholic Church(link is external). But according to Archbishop Charles J. Scicluna, much more still needs to be done. ‘We need to empower disclosure’ of abuse cases by providing victims with avenues for safe communication, said Scicluna, adjunct secretary of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith at the Vatican, during a webinar for “A Safer Church” on Tuesday (June 30).” By Claire Giangravé, Religion News Service

ALASKA

Despite abuse allegations, a Jesuit with Alaska ties worked for a prominent Northwest university for years
“In 2011, the Jesuit Order in the Northwest settled a bankruptcy case for $166 million. It’s one of the largest settlements in Catholic church history. A small fraction of that money — less than $500 every month — is going to a man who spent most of the last year behind bars at the Anchorage Correctional Center. His criminal history includes a lot of alcohol-related violence and he blames much of his record on an experience he had with a Catholic priest when he was still a child(link is external).” By Emily Schwing, Anchorage Daily News

CALIFORNIA

Presentation Catholic H.S. admits they failed to protect students from sexual abuse
“Decades after the first complaint, Presentation High School officials admitted Thursday (Jul. 9) their premier San Jose educational institution failed some of its students. ‘I’m relieved. Because it just validated everything I’d been saying for three years,’ said former student Kathryn Leehane … She first penned an op-ed article about her alleged abuse at the school in the 1990s. That led to almost two dozen victims coming forward(link is external), who said administrators did not report instances of sexual abuse and assault stretching back more than three decades.” By Jesse Gary, KTVU-TV2 News

CONNECTICUT

Danbury clergy sex abuse case postponed two months
“The pre-trial hearing of the former local priest accused of sexually assaulting two boys(link is external) has been pushed to Sept. 4. Jaime Marin-Cardona, 52, is charged with three counts of fourth-degree sexual assault, three counts of risk of injury to child and three counts of illegal sexual contact. He pleaded not guilty to all nine charges. The warrant for Marin-Cardona’s arrest alleges that he groomed two boys over the course of four years, and sexually abused one of them over the same period of time.” By Kendra Baker, News Times

FLORIDA

Sarasota County man sues priest, alleging sexual abuse
“A 33-year-old man has filed a lawsuit against a retired Catholic priest who lives in Ormond Beach, accusing the priest of sexually molesting him(link is external) two decades ago when the man was a teenager being held in a juvenile detention facility. Louis Reed’s suit is filed in Polk County Circuit Court against the Rev. Fred Ruse. An attorney for the former priest said his client did not want to discuss the lawsuit and denied the allegations in a phone interview, citing Reed’s criminal history to question his credibility.” By Frank Fernandez, Herald-Tribune

LOUISIANA

Lawsuit alleging sexual abuse by priest filed against Catholic Diocese of Shreveport
“A civil lawsuit alleging repeated sexual abuse of a minor by a priest(link is external) has been filed against the Shreveport Catholic Diocese. The lawsuit, ‘Paul Doe vs. the Diocese of Shreveport’ accuses the late Rev. William Allison, a priest who served under the Alexandria Catholic Diocese from 1949 until his death in 1987, of sexually abusing the plaintiff during his two-year tenure at Our Lady of Fatima in Monroe, when he was an altar boy in the fifth or sixth grade.” By ArkLaTexHomepage.com

New Orleans clergy abuse plaintiff aims to move bankruptcy-halted case out of federal court
“The plaintiff in a Catholic clergy sex abuse lawsuit(link is external) halted by the Archdiocese of New Orleans’ federal bankruptcy filing is seeking to have his case moved back into state court in hopes of continuing to pursue his claims. In a filing late Tuesday (Jul. 7), the plaintiff’s attorneys argue that the suit revolves around matters of state law and therefore should be transferred back to Orleans Parish Civil District Court rather than handled in the federal system.” By Ramon Antonio Vargas, The New Orleans Advocate, on WWL-TV4 News

MAINE

Statute of limitations runs out on assault allegation
“The statute of limitations for reporting sexual assaults will prevent a potential case(link is external) involving a priest or pastor from being prosecuted, according to District Attorney Matt Foster. ‘I tried to see if the United States Attorney’s Office would be able to prosecute, but they didn’t think they could prosecute the case either,’ Foster said. Hancock County Sheriff’s Det. Stephen McFarland last week took a complaint from a New Jersey man who reported sexual assaults were committed against him between 1978 and 1980 in Dedham.” By Jennifer Osborn, The Ellsworth American

MASSACHUSETTS

Priests question fund appeal for camp cited in Bishop Weldon abuse report
“Like all camps that can’t open this summer, the one the Springfield Diocese owns alongside a cool mountain reservoir is hurting for money. This week, the Dalton priest who runs Camp Holy Cross passed the hat … What he got instead, from at least two priests, was censure(link is external). That’s because the camp’s name was linked to clergy sexual abuse in the independent report released June 24 by retired Judge Peter A. Velis.” By Larry Parnass, The Berkshire Eagle

MINNESOTA

Deadline set for St. Cloud Diocese clergy sex abuse claims
“The Diocese of St. Cloud has announced a deadline for claims for victims and survivors of clergy sex abuse(link is external). The United States Bankruptcy Court for the District of Minnesota issued an order Tuesday saying anyone making a claim against the Diocese for sex abuse must make a claim with the bankruptcy court no later than 5:00 p.m. October 21, 2020.” By Jennifer Lewerenz, KNSI Radio

MISSOURI

Lessons learned: St. Louis archbishop-elect leaves a community still reeling from a bombshell report on clergy sex abuse
“A narrator’s voice on a show about the Sistine Chapel triggered John Doe’s memories of horror he experienced as a 9-year-old altar boy. He survived being gang raped and other abuses by Roman Catholic clergy that were so traumatic they took some 50 years to resurface(link is external). Doe ultimately wanted the Springfield Diocese in western Massachusetts to know what had been done to him in the early 1960s — not just by rank-and-file priests, but by the late Bishop Christopher J. Weldon, whose reputation was still untarnished from leading the diocese from 1950 to 1977.” By Jess Bogan, St. Louis Post-Dispatch

Springfield-Cape Girardeau Diocese releases additional sexual abuse allegations against a retired priest with many ties to the Ozarks
“Since the initial April 27, 2020, release outlining an allegation of sexual misconduct involving Fr. Gary Carr, retired, the Diocese of Springfield-Cape Girardeau has received three additional allegations involving Fr. Carr(link is external). The three allegations were reviewed by the Diocesan Safe Environment Review Board at its most recent June meeting, and all three were found to meet the criteria for publication as they satisfy the prevailing standard of Semblance of Truth. One of the allegations involved a male, now an adult, who reported that Fr. Carr made inappropriate physical/sexual contact with him in 1987.” By KY3-TV News

NEW JERSEY

Nine new sex abuse suits filed against Newark Archdiocese include cleric not accused before
“Nine lawsuits filed against the Catholic Church on Monday (Jul. 13) include allegations of sex abuse against seven clerics(link is external) — including two priests who worked for years after church officials were told of alleged abuse and a religious brother who worked at a Florida university until two years ago despite a criminal conviction. Taken together, they allege abuse by four archdiocese priests and three members of religious orders, including one cleric who had not been publicly accused of abuse before Monday.” By Abbott Koloff, NorthJersey.com

Delbarton sex abuse lawsuits may be first of a wave, raise new questions about abusers
“A new round of lawsuits filed against the order that runs the Delbarton School in Morris Township underscores questions about how allegedly abusive monks are being dealt with even now(link is external) — with one still having voicemail at a residence on school grounds after being the subject of another lawsuit settled two years ago. Attorneys filed six lawsuits Tuesday (Jul. 7) that contain new accusations of sexual abuse allegedly committed by five men who have been monks of St. Mary’s Abbey and the Order of St. Benedict and one former Delbarton lay teacher.” By Abbott Koloff, New Jersey Herald

NEW YORK.

Lawsuits claim priest in ‘The Exorcist,’ three others sexually abused McQuaid students
“Three priests and a lay teacher who taught at McQuaid Jesuit High School decades ago have been accused of sexually abusing students there in newly filed lawsuits. In a suit filed Tuesday morning, a one-time star teacher at the Brighton school, the Rev. William O’Malley, was accused of sexually abusing a student there in 1975 or 1976. O’Malley, who left McQuaid in 1986, was well-known for his teaching and writing and for his role as a Jesuit priest(link is external) in the supernatural hit film ‘The Exorcist.'” By Steve Orr, Rochester Democrat and Chronicle

Child Victims Act suit filed against former St. Joseph’s school
“A Dunkirk man has filed a Child Victims Act lawsuit against the former St. Joseph’s Catholic Church and School for repeated abuse(link is external) he alleged happened in the early 1960s. The 20-page complaint was filed Tuesday in state Supreme Court in Chautauqua County. The Dunkirk man, who is not being identified, said he was abused by the Rev. Edward Walker between 1960 and 1962 when he was about 12 to 14 years old. Walker was a priest at St. Joseph’s and was associated with Sisters of St. Joseph in Clarence.” By Eric Tichy, Post-Journal, on ObserverToday.com

Survivor Speaks About Syracuse Catholic Diocese Filing for Bankruptcy
“Amy, a sexual abuse survivor, was 11 years old when she was touched inappropriately by a male figure in her church(link is external). ‘Somebody had brought this up to his wife who was the other person running the meetings and she kind of blew it off like she didn’t want to know,’ said Amy. ‘Several times I was told … no one would believe [my story] anyway,’ said Amy. Amy is not her real name but she wishes to stay anonymous for her protection because even to this day she runs into her abuser.” By Katelynn Ulrich Central NY Spectrum News

Albany Diocese adds deceased Capital Region priest to list of offenders
“The Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany on Tuesday (Jul. 7) added Rev. Alan Jupin – who spent most of his tenure as a priest at Our Lady of Fatima, now St. Kateri Tekakwitha, in Schenectady – to its list of priests and clergy ‘credibly accused’ of sexually abusing children(link is external). Jupin, who died in January 2019, is accused of molesting five children in Schenectady and Albany in the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s. He is the latest, and the first 2020 addition, to a list of nearly 50 priests and clergy who have substantive complaints of molestation filed against them, as determined by a diocesan review panel.” By Cayla Harris, Times Union

Firms file 20 Child Victims Act lawsuits against diocese
“Twenty new lawsuits were filed against the Diocese of Ogdensburg under the New York Child Victims Act Tuesday (Jul. 7). The suits collectively named 14 priests. ‘The Diocese of Ogdensburg takes all allegations of abuse seriously(link is external), and these new allegations will be investigated,’ Diocese of Ogdensburg Communications Director Darcy Fargo said. ‘We hope and pray that victims of abuse are able to find healing and reconciliation, and that justice is served in these cases.’” By Cara Chapman, Press-Republican

NORTH CAROLINA

Bishop: North Carolina priest kept on leave on abuse claims
“A Catholic priest in North Carolina will remain on administrative leave after allegations of sexual abuse against him were revealed last year(link is external), the Charlotte diocese’s bishop said. Bishop Peter Jugis made the announcement to St. Matthew parishioners in a letter Wednesday (Jul. 8), writing that he had accepted the recommendation of the diocese’s Lay Review Board to keep Father Patrick Hoare out of ministry, The Charlotte Observer reported.” By Associated Press on Cruxnow.com

OHIO

Northeast Ohio priest indicted on charges of child pornography, child exploitation and juvenile sex trafficking
Justin Herdman, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Ohio, announced that a federal grand jury sitting in Cleveland, Ohio has returned an eight-count indictment against Robert D. McWilliams, 40, of Strongsville. The defendant is charged with two counts of sex trafficking of a minor, three counts of sexual exploitation of children(link is external), one count of transportation of child pornography, one count of receipt and distribution of visual depictions of real minors engaged in sexually explicit conduct and one count of possession of child pornography.” By The Highland County Press

PENNSYLVANIA

Diocese of Scranton seeks stay of sex abuse cases
“The Diocese of Scranton wants the state Supreme Court to stay all activity in lawsuits filed by five men who allege they were molested by a priest(link is external) until the court rules on a critical legal issue that could nix the cases. In a recent court filing, attorneys for the diocese estimate it will incur over $200,000 in attorneys’ fees gathering evidence that lawyers for the victims are seeking. Those fees would be wasted if the Supreme Court ultimately overturns an Allegheny County case that extends the statute of limitations for sexual abuse victims to file suit.” By Terrie Morgan-Besecker, The Citizen’s Voice

Erie Diocese facing lawsuit over fund for abuse victims
“Filing of writ signals suit in Erie County Court. Claims linked to St. Hedwig Catholic Church and its long-closed school. The Catholic Diocese of Erie is the subject of a potential lawsuit over its victims’ compensation fund(link is external), a program the diocese created as an alternative to allowing victims to sue over clergy sexual abuse. Two anonymous plaintiffs have filed paperwork indicating they plan to file a full-blown suit against the diocese in Erie County Court.” By Ed Palattella, GoErie.com

Former Philadelphia priest pleads guilty to decades-old sex assaults of altar boys in Bucks County
“After years of dodging allegations of abusing children(link is external), a former Catholic priest pleaded guilty Wednesday (Jul. 8) to molesting two altar boys in Bucks County decades ago. Francis Trauger, 74, admitted his guilt to two counts of indecent assault of a minor, and Bucks County Judge Jeffrey L. Finley sentenced him to 18 to 36 months in a state prison and seven years’ probation.” By Vinny Vella, The Philadelphia Inquirer

TENNESSEE

Catholic leaders in Nashville face scrutiny over handling of sexual assault allegation against former Aquinas College priest
“A woman has accused the former chaplain of Aquinas College of sexually assaulting her nearly three years ago while she was a student at the Nashville school(link is external). Catholic leaders in Tennessee are now facing scrutiny for how they handled her allegation against the Rev. Kevin McGoldrick, the 46-year-old priest from the Archdiocese of Philadelphia who ministered in Nashville for almost six years.” By Holly Meyer, Nashville Tennessean

TEXAS

Two Catholic priests who worked in Fort Worth were accused of molesting kids elsewhere
“Two Marianist religious order priests accused of molesting children(link is external) in the United States worked in the Diocese of Fort Worth. But they aren’t on a list of clergy accused of sexual abuse of minors in the Fort Worth area because the alleged abuse didn’t occur here, according to a statement from the diocese. The Roman Catholic religious order based in St. Louis recently released the names of its members found to have sexually abused a minor since 1950 in the United States.” By Domingo Ramirez, Jr., Fort Worth Star-Telegram

VIRGINIA

Former Norfolk Catholic teacher given 3 years for sexually abusing student in 1970s
“A former teacher at Norfolk Catholic High School has been sentenced to five years in prison with two years suspended in connection with sexual abuse of a student(link is external) that happened in the late 1970s. Daniel Wolfe was arrested in March 2019 after the victim came forward alleging sexual abuse between 1978 and 1979, when Wolfe was employed as a teacher at Norfolk Catholic High School. Wolfe pleaded guilty to one charge of crimes against nature in October 2019 in connection with the allegations.” By Sarah Fearing, WAVY-TV10 News

WYOMING

Natrona County prosecutors again decide not to charge retired bishop with sexual abuse
“Natrona County prosecutors have again decided not to pursue sexual abuse charges against retired bishop Joseph Hart, who has been accused of abusing boys(link is external) dating back to the early 1960s. The decision was confirmed Tuesday by Michael Schafer, an assistant district attorney in Natrona County. In a message to the Star-Tribune, Schafer said that prosecutors “did take a look at it for the Laramie County District Attorney’s Office, and after reviewing the investigation, we don’t feel like we can be successful” in prosecuting Hart. Cheyenne’s top prosecutor recused herself from adjudicating the case last year, citing a conflict.” By Seth Klamann, Casper Star Tribune

ARGENTINA

Argentine archbishops under attack for establishing abuse reporting offices
“Two archbishops in Argentina are under fire for following Pope Francis’s orders in creating an office to receive allegations of clerical abuse(link is external). They are being accused of ‘usurpation of the role of the State, swindles and other frauds,’ an allegation some described as ‘grotesque.’ The criminal complaint against Archbishop Eduardo Martin of Rosario and Archbishop Sergio Fenoy from nearby Santa Fe was filed after the two prelates announced the ‘implementation of a system for receiving allegations’ of sexual crimes committed by priests and other members of the Church.” By Inés San Martín, Cruxnow.com

AUSTRALIA

Former WA Catholic priest, 84, to face court on historic child sex abuse charges
“An 84-year-old man will face Perth Magistrates Court on Monday (Jul. 13), charged over historical child sex abuse allegations(link is external) dating back to the late 70s and early 80s. Police claim the man indecently assaulted a girl, who was between six and seven years old at the time of the first offence, while he was a Catholic priest providing pastoral care from 1979-1982. The man, who is from the Mandurah district, has been charged with six counts of indecent treatment of a child under 14 years old.” By The Sydney Morning Herald

FIJI ISLANDS

Uncovering child sexual abuse in Fiji’s Catholic schools
“The abuse began when he was seven. He among other young children kept the abuse quiet by the priests and brothers working and living near the Marist Brothers Primary School he attended in Fiji. The sexual abuse happened so repeatedly the children thought it was normal(link is external). ‘[There] were two main ones that would do it to us regularly. Almost like a daily thing,’ the victim, who wishes to remain anonymous, told 1 NEWS.” By Barbara Dreaver, TVNZ-TV1 News

GUAM

Catholic archdiocese in Guam stopping monthly payments to former archbishop
“The Archdiocese of Agaña announced Tuesday (Jul. 7) it will no longer give a monthly honorarium to its emeritus Archbishop Anthony Apuron. Archbishop Apuron, 74, was found guilty of some of several abuse-related charges(link is external) by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in 2018. The archdiocese announced June 30 that ‘the decision by Archbishop Michael Byrnes will become effective Wednesday, July 1.’” By Catholic News Agency

INDIA

Indian Bishops to implement CDF guidelines on abuse
“Indian bishops say they are ready to implement the guidelines of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith on sexual abuse in the Churh. Bishops in India are ready to implement the instructions contained in the new Vademecum of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith on procedures to be followed in cases of sexual abuse of minors committed by members of the clergy(link is external).” By Vatican News

INDONESIA

18-year-long child abuse at an Indonesian church opens a can of worms
“A parish church tried to hide a series of sexual assaults, but as more victims come forward, investigators begin to view the case as a Pandora’s box(link is external). ‘I thought church was a safe place. But it is not,’ said Azas Tigor Nainggolan, an Indonesian lawyer, recalling the words spoken to him by one of his clients. In late June, Michael — not his real name — told Nainggolan that his son had been sexually assaulted at St Herkulanus church in West Java, Indonesia. His son had been enrolled in the church as an altar boy, a priest’s assistant during a service – they are most prevalent in Roman Catholic Church services.’ By Jennar Kiansantang and Johanes Hutabarat, TRTWorld.com

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Vatican says bishops should report sex abuse to police

While the manual doesn’t have the force of a new law, it goes beyond the current Vatican policy about cooperating with law enforcement agencies, prosecutors and police. (Associated Press)

“The Vatican told bishops around the world on Thursday (Jul. 16) they should report cases of clergy sex crimes to police even when not legally bound to do so, in its latest effort to compel church leaders to protect minors from predator priests.

“The Vatican issued a long-awaited manual for bishops and religious superiors on conducting in-house investigations into allegations of priests who rape and molest minors and vulnerable adults. While the Vatican has had detailed canonical norms in place for two decades, the laws continue to be ignored by some bishops who dismiss allegations by victims in favor of protecting their priests.

“While the manual doesn’t have the force of a new law, it goes beyond the current Vatican policy about cooperating with law enforcement agencies, prosecutors and police. That policy requires bishops and religious superiors to report allegations of sex crimes with minors only where local laws require it.

“The manual says: ‘Even in cases where there is no explicit legal obligation to do so, the ecclesiastical authorities should make a report to the competent civil authorities if this is considered necessary to protect the person involved or other minors from the danger of further criminal acts.’

“And it says church leaders must comply with ‘legitimate’ subpoena requests.”

By Nicole Winfield, Associated Press — Read more …

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Latest USCCB abuse audit report shows cover-up’s extent, 4,400 new allegations last year

BOSTON, Mass., Jun. 26, 2020 – The numbers tell the story. According to the USCCB’s 2020 Report on the Implementation of the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People, more than 4,400 allegations of Catholic clergy sexual abuse were reported over the single year ending Jun. 30, 2020, the period of the report, which was released yesterday.

The report said the actual number of child sexual abuse survivor allegations over the past year was 4,434, more than three times the 1,451 allegations in the 2017-2018 reporting period.

The numbers show like none since the 2002 revelations in the Boston Archdiocese the extent of the cover-up the Church’s hierarchy has perpetrated. This increase in allegations has brought to light thousands of concealed clergy abuse cases from victims/survivors just now coming forward as a result of recent reforms of state statutes of limitations, nationwide civil investigations prompted by the August 2018 Pennsylvania grand jury report, increases in lawsuits and victim compensation plans employed by several dioceses. How many abuses will remain hidden by diocesan bankruptcies may never be known, and many victim/survivors agreeing to compensation plans will never get their day in court.

The USCCB’s National Review Board chairman, Francesco Cesareo, Ph.D., pointed out in a letter prefacing the report that activities and “a growing desire among the laity for greater involvement in addressing this issue has led many to question whether the audit is sufficiently adequate to determine if a culture of safety within dioceses has taken root.”

Equally if not more troubling is the report’s reference to current rather than historical cases. Thirty-seven 37 new abuse allegations have been made since last year. Cesareo made the magnitude of the problem perfectly clear. As much at 30 percent of dioceses have recurring difficulties pointing to a “lack of diligence that puts children’s safety at risk.”

“The current year’s Annual Report” he said, “highlights concerns also noted in previous years that speak to the issue of complacency. We continue to see the failure to publish reporting procedures in the various languages in which the liturgy is celebrated; poor recordkeeping of background checks; dysfunctional Diocesan Review Boards; lack of a formal monitoring plan for priests who have been removed from ministry; failure to update policies and procedures in light of the 2011 Charter revisions.”

And, with the Charter still not requiring parish audits, the need for continued vigilance is obvious.


Voice of the Faithful Statement, Jun. 26, 2020
Contact: 
Nick Ingala, nickingala@votf.org(link sends e-mail), 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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Abuse allegations against former Springfield Bishop Christopher Weldon ‘unequivocally credible,’ investigation finds / The Springfield Republican

The allegations that were investigated and examined are not dubious, vague or ambiguous in any essentials nor are they the product of any chimerical conception, fabrication or schematic design. The unsavory and heinous nature of the offensive behavior attributed to the late bishop is clearly shocking. (The Springfield Republican)

A retired superior court judge’s review of sexual abuse allegations against former Bishop Christopher J. Weldon, who led the Roman Catholic Diocese of Springfield for more than 25 years, found the accusations to be ‘unequivocally credible.’

“Meanwhile, mandatory reporters in the diocese who first heard the alleged victim’s account failed to report the matter to law enforcement officials, according to the executive summary for a 350-plus page report released Wednesday by the diocese. The report is the product of an investigation by retired Superior Court Judge Peter A. Velis, who was hired a year ago to investigate the matter.

“Velis’ report concluded ‘the allegations of the Complainant of sexual molestation committed upon him by Bishop Christopher J Weldon, both as a principal, and as a ‘coventurer’ that included anal rape, indecent assault and battery and intentional infliction of emotional distress are unequivocally credible. The allegations that were investigated and examined are not dubious,  vague or ambiguous in any essentials nor are they the product of any chimerical conception, fabrication or schematic design. The unsavory and heinous nature of the offensive behavior attributed to the late bishop is clearly shocking.'”

By Anne-Gerard Flynn, The Springfield Republican — Read more …

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Report on sexual abuse allegations against late Springfield Bishop Christopher Weldon could prove pivotal / Springfield Republican

There have been reports that those in the diocesan hierarchy with ties to (Bishop Christopher J.) Weldon — and had sexual abuse allegations made against them — destroyed files related to pedophile priests over the years. (Springfield Republican)

A soon-to-be-released report nearly a year in the making could shed light on decades of sexual abuse by clergy in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Springfield and forever change how one of its most influential bishops is viewed.

“Last July, retired Superior Court Judge Peter A. Velis was asked by Bishop Mitchell T. Rozanski to investigate allegations of sexual misconduct made against the late Bishop Christopher J. Weldon dating back to the early 1960s. The report is expected to be released before Rozanski is installed as Archbishop of St. Louis on Aug. 25.

“The findings will impact not only the alleged victim — who reiterated to Rozanski a year ago his claim that he was sexually abused as a boy by Weldon and two diocesan priests — but also questions that continue to linger around how early in time the diocesan hierarchy may have participated in, covered up and enabled clergy sexual abuse of minors. It could either encourage or discourage other alleged survivors of clergy sex abuse to continue to come forward.”

By Anne-Gerard Flynn, Springfield Republican on MassLive.com — Read more …

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‘Vos Estis’ at one year: Some question pope’s process for investigating bishops / National Catholic Reporter

“You would think by now the church would have learned the lesson that secrecy in these matters does not work,” said (civil and canon lawyer Nicholas) Cafardi, dean emeritus of Duquesne University School of Law in Pittsburgh. “What is done in the darkness will be seen in the light. Maybe not right away, but eventually.” (National Catholic Reporter)

It is a bit early to assess the effect of Pope Francis’ new global system for how the Catholic Church evaluates reports of clergy sexual abuse or cover-up by individual bishops, say canon lawyers who spoke to NCR.

“They also raised questions about the new process, first established in May 2019, which involves the empowering of archbishops to conduct investigations of prelates accused in their local regions.

“Among their main concerns with the procedure, outlined in Francis’ motu proprio Vos Estis Lux Mundi (‘You Are The Light Of The World’): the possible bias that can arise in asking one prelate to investigate another, and whether there has been an appropriate level of transparency about bishops who are being investigated.

“Nicholas Cafardi, a civil and canon lawyer who was a member of the U.S. bishops’ original National Review Board, highlighted the latter point …”

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

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Pell knew of abuse by Australian pedophile priest / Cruxnow.com

The inquiry rejected Pell’s evidence given by video link from Rome in 2016 that he was deceived and lied to by Catholic Church officials about Australia’s worst pedophile priest … (Cruxnow.com)

Australian Cardinal George Pell knew a notorious pedophile priest had been moved decades ago because he had sexually abused children, and should have removed an unstable priest in another parish who was also a suspected pedophile, a government inquiry concluded.

“A report from the inquiry on child sexual abuse had been released in 2017, but findings concerning Pope Francis’ former finance minister had been redacted until Thursday to avoid prejudicing juries in any future prosecutions.

“The government decided to release the full report after the High Court last month overturned convictions against Pell on charges he molested two choirboys in a Melbourne cathedral in the late 1990s when he was an archbishop.”

By Rod McGuirk, Cruxnow.com — Read more …

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Voice of the Faithful Focus News Roundup

April 27, 2020

TOP STORIES

Australian cardinal links corruption to child abuse charges
“Cardinal George Pell has linked his fight against corruption in the Vatican with his prosecution in Australia for alleged child sex abuse(link is external). Pell was regarded as the third highest-ranking Vatican official in 2018 when he became the world’s most senior Catholic to be convicted of child sex abuse. He served 13 months in prison before Australia’s High Court last week acquitted him for molesting two choirboys in St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Melbourne while he was archbishop of Australia’s second-largest city in the 1990s.” By Rod McGuirk, Associated Press, on Cruxnow.com

Virginia priest with blog critical of Catholic Church’s sexual abuse handling removed
“A priest in Virginia was removed from his post after maintaining a blog critical of the Catholic Church’s handling of the sexual abuse scandal(link is external). Rev. Mark White, whose blog reaches more than 1 million readers, was removed on Monday (Apr. 13), news outlets reported. He served as the priest of St. Joseph Catholic Church in Martinsville and St. Francis of Assisi in Rocky Mount … His removal as the head of these two churches follows a months-long dispute with Bishop Barry Knestout, the head of the Diocese of Richmond, and other church officials over the blog.” By Associated Press in Daily Press

The end of clericalism
“As the human race joins the rest of the planet in a struggle for survival, the church is also trying to find its footing. Why? Clericalism. For too long — say, 800 to 1,000 years — the sacramental life of the church has been under priestly lock and key(link is external). Around the 10th century, the custom of stipends for Masses arose. Suddenly, the spiritual value of men’s prayers gained over the spiritual value of women’s prayers and women’s abbeys and monasteries failed one after another.” By Phyllis Zagano, Ph.D., National Catholic Reporter (Dr. Zagano will be a featured speaker at Voice of the Faithful’s 2020 Conference: Visions of a Just Church, Oct. 3, 2020, Boston Marriott Newton Hotel)

Clericalism and the pandemic
“As any diocesan director of worship knows, there has been much to navigate during this distorting period in human history. At the center of concerns lay the issue of how to deal with the celebration and administration of the sacraments. Yet, in my experience, the greatest difficulties lay not in the necessity of adapting to new norms and restrictions, but rather in the unanticipated reactions from clergy to the suggested adaptations(link is external). Little did I realize what sort of maelstrom would erupt as we put into place ideas and recommendations precipitated by the need for social distancing and stay-at-home orders.” By Fr. Jim Sabak, OFM, Pray Tell Blog

Cardinal Pell and the Victorian criminal justice system
“Cardinal George Pell has been acquitted of all charges of child sexual abuse by Australia’s highest court – the High Court of Australia. In criminal cases, they usually sit only a bench of five judges. In Pell’s case, the full bench of seven sat. They knew the world was watching. They often write separate opinions. But in the case of Cardinal Pell they all put their name to one judgment. They unanimously upheld his appeal and in almost record time … Readers need to understand that all is not well with the system of criminal justice in Victoria(link is external).” By Fr. Frank Brennan, The Catholic Weekly

ACCOUNTABILITY

A different kind of Catholic Church scandal at a Winchester (Mass.) parish
“Fistfuls of missing money. An FBI investigation. And a culture of secrecy that tore a suburban parish to shreds: What really happened at St. Mary’s in Winchester(link is external)By Mariya Manzhos, Boston Magazine

Pell faces Vatican inquiry into child abuse allegations
“Cardinal George Pell now faces a Church inquiry into allegations of sexually assaulting children(link is external), even though the High Court of Australia dramatically quashed his earlier convictions. Following the cardinal’s conviction by a jury, which became public in February 2019, the Vatican opened a case against the Australian prelate pending the final appeal.” By Christopher Lamb, The Tablet

POPE FRANCIS

Downloadable publication of Pope’s prayers and homilies now available
The Dicastery for Communication of the Holy See is making available a downloadable book entitled ‘Strong in the Face of Tribulation(link is external),’ containing prayers, supplications and the Pope’s homilies as ‘a sure support in time of trial.’ ‘A little help offered to all, so as to know how to discern and experience God’s closeness and tenderness in pain, in suffering, in solitude and in fear,’ writes Andrea Tornielli, the editorial director of Vatican’s Dicastery for Communication, presenting Strong in the Face of Tribulation: The Church in Communion – a Sure Support in Time of Trial.” By Eugenio Bonanata and Fr. Benedict Mayaki, SJ

Is the Francis pontificate in crisis? A response to Faggioli
When Massimo Faggioli offers a critique of this pontificate(link is external), as he did last week at La Croix in a two-part essay, everyone should take notice. Not only is Faggioli one of the leading ecclesiologists in the universal church, but he has been strongly supportive of Pope Francis. The first thing to note is how Faggioli engages the topic: He is deeply respectful, expressing concern not scorn, his analysis does not lead him down a rabbit hole in which the conversation is suddenly devoid of the ecclesial set forth at Vatican II.” By Michael Sean Winters, National Catholic Reporter

CARDINAL PELL

Cardinal George Pell reportedly facing fresh criminal investigation
“Police have arrived at the NSW seminary where Cardinal George Pell is living amid reports he is facing fresh criminal investigations(link is external). Four Officers from the Auburn Police Area Command arrived at the premises on Abbotsford Road in Homebush about 2.30pm for what was a prearranged meeting to ‘discuss security protocols,’ a NSW Police spokesperson said. The meeting followed a story in the Herald Sun this morning (Apr. 15) claiming Cardinal Pell is being secretly investigated by police over new claims against him.” By News.com.au

It is not possible to divorce George Pell’s acquittal from the Catholic Church’s history of child abuse
“Cardinal George Pell’s acquittal was legally the correct decision. His relief and that of his family and many supporters will be palpable. He – not the Catholic church – was on trial and the high court has seen fit to ensure justice was served. But it is not possible to divorce the acquittal from the broader context of the Catholic church’s history of child sexual abuse(link is external).” By Francis Sullivan, The Guardian

George Pell says ‘culture wars’ contributed to him being wrongfully jailed for child sexual abuse
“Cardinal George Pell says he believes ‘culture wars’ and his conservative views on social issues contributed to him being prosecuted and jailed on child sexual abuse charges(link is external) — convictions that were overturned by the nation’s highest court. The High Court unanimously quashed Cardinal Pell’s convictions and acquitted him of abusing two choirboys at Melbourne’s St Patrick’s Cathedral in the 1990s, finding there was the significant possibility that an innocent person had been convicted on evidence that did not establish guilt ‘to the requisite standard of proof.’” By ABC News

McCARRICK INVESTIGATION

DC priest describes a culture of cover-up in wake of McCarrick scandal
“In early February, the second-highest-ranking prelate in the Vatican told news outlets that a long-awaited report into the ascent of disgraced former Cardinal Theodore McCarrick would be published in the ‘near future.’ In 2018, Pope Francis ordered that the Vatican investigate all of the documentation it had collected over the years regarding McCarrick, including data gathered in the dioceses of New York; Metuchen and Newark, New Jersey; and Washington, D.C., where he had served. Almost three months after the February announcement, the report has still not seen the light of day.” By Clare Giangravé, Religion News Service

BISHOPS

USCCB administrative committee cancels U.S. bishops’ June assembly
“The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has canceled the U.S. bishops’ spring general assembly(link is external) that was planned for June 10-12 in Detroit. “Given the current situation with the coronavirus that has been classified by the World Health Organization as a pandemic, the Administrative Committee of the USCCB voted earlier this week to cancel the June assembly,” said a USCCB news release issued the afternoon of April 8. This marks the first cancellation of a plenary assembly in the conference’s history.” By Catholic New York

PRIESTS

Virginia priest in battle with bishop over blog blasting Church’s abuse response
“In Oct. 2008, Father Mark White started a blog under his name in the hopes that his preaching would reach those who don’t go to church … But he’s also been critical of the way some within the hierarchy of the Catholic Church addressed the clerical sex abuse crisis(link is external). The targets of his criticism have included Pope Francis and his own Diocese of Richmond in Virginia, which he’s called “opaque.” By Inés San Martin, Cruxnow.com

Pope Francis counsels world’s priests: ‘take risks for forgiveness’
“Pope Francis called on the more than 400,000 Catholic priests worldwide ‘to ask for forgiveness and to learn to forgive(link is external),’ as he celebrated Mass in an empty St. Peter’s Basilica on Holy Thursday, commemorating the Last Supper of Jesus before his passion and crucifixion. Because of the pandemic, liturgical celebrations with the pope have been pared down to the essential, eliminating or postponing optional rites and celebrations.” By Gerard O’Connell, America: The Jesuit Review

WOMEN DEACONS

U.S. Catholics wary of panel that will study the idea of women as deacons
“Some American Catholics are wary of Pope Francis’ call for a commission to study the idea of female deacons, saying the panel likely will be mostly conservative theologians(link is external). ‘The deck has really been stacked against [women deacons] with this commission,’ said Jamie L. Manson, a columnist with National Catholic Reporter. ‘I don’t think there’s any voice in this new crop of people who has argued that women deacons can be equal to male deacons.’ In a surprise announcement, Francis on Wednesday (Apr. 8) set up a 10-member commission to study whether women can serve as deacons — ordained ministers who can baptize, witness marriages and perform funerals.” By Christopher Vondracek, The Washington Times

Media reports shine light on emerging discussion of women deacons
“Recent declarations from the Vatican followed by assenting decrees from a number of bishops make it clear that Roman Catholic hierarchs will not entertain questions about ordaining women priests. They’ve underscored their decrees with excommunications, notably Maryknoll Fr. Roy Bourgeois and the women who have been ordained as part of the Roman Catholic Womenpriests movement. While priestly ordination is seemingly off the table and out of bounds, what is emerging is a fairly open discussion about ordaining women to the permanent diaconate(link is external).” By Porsia Tunzi, National Catholic Reporter

WOMEN IN THE CHURCH

Women demonstrate what priesthood of Jesus really means
“Virginia Saldanha’s superb Holy Thursday homily on Catholic Women Preach spoke of Jesus’ challenge to a servant leadership that involves ‘humility in service and sacrifice even to the extent of breaking one’s body and shedding one’s blood.’ Women, said Saldanha, are ‘living this model of priesthood.https://www.ncronline.org/news/opinion/simply-spirit/women-demonstrate-what-priesthood-jesus-truly-means?clickSource=email(link is external) … Where you may not find a sacramentally ordained priest, many women around the world are living the priesthood of Jesus.’ Women who serve economically poor indigenous people in India and Amazonia — sometimes even to the point of death — show the least and the last the loving and compassionate face of God. Women live their priesthood where they are planted, and demonstrate to the sacramentally ordained ministers what the priesthood of Jesus truly means.’” By Sister Christine Schenk, National Catholic Reporter

CHURCH FINANCES

Pope Francis appoints Carmelo Barbagallo to head AIF
“Pope Francis on Wednesday (Apr. 15) named Carmelo Barbagallo, of the Bank of Italy, as President of the Financial Information Authority(link is external) (It: Autorità di Informazione Finanziaria, the AIF). He succeeds Rene Brülhart, whose term ended last week. ‘I am honored to have received this appointment, aware of the full weight of the moral and professional responsibility it carries, and I thank the Holy Father for the trust he has placed in me,’ the new President of the Financial Information Authority, Carmelo Barbagallo, said when speaking to Vatican News after publication of the news of his appointment.” By Vatican News

With collection plates drying up, parishes race to SBA loans to avert layoffs
“Days before Easter Sunday, the worries for Fr. James Olson ranged from the momentous to the mundane. At one end, he grappled with the spiritual loss of a Holy Week in isolation, with empty pews in the four churches he pastors in northeast Philadelphia. At the other, he regretted not getting his hair cut before barbershops and other businesses shut down in response to the coronavirus pandemic. But just behind the spiritual loss was the state of the parish finances(link is external).” By Brian Roewe, National Catholic Reporter

Empty pews, empty collection baskets: coronavirus hits U.S. church finances
“St. Anselm Roman Catholic Church in New York’s Brooklyn borough is used to limping along, month after month, at a budget deficit of several thousand dollars a week. But the church that sits in the city that is the epicenter of the U.S. coronavirus pandemic(link is external) could always count on Easter. Last year, its Easter pew collection brought in $11,651. That was more than twice an average Sunday and, coupled with the church’s online Easter donations of $2,500, enough to cover its weekly operating expenses of $13,000, according to church records.” By Reuters in The New York Times

Catholic ministries get advice on finances during coronavirus crisis
“Andrew Robison is the owner and president of Petrus Development, which helps Catholic ministries build sustainable development programs. Over the past 15 years, the company has worked with over 125 Catholic ministries and raised over $500 million for campus ministries, high schools, universities, pro-life causes and more. He spoke to Charles Camosy about how the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic lockdown is affecting Catholic organizations(link is external), and what can be done to help.” By Charles Camosy, Cruxnow.com

VOICES

Editorial: In this forced retreat, are we asking big enough questions?
“A few weeks into this forced retreat and the agita level is ramping up, a growing wondering from all corners of the Catholic lot about what we might look like, how we might be changed, post-pandemic. But are we asking the right questions(link is external)? No sidestepping here. We’ve been a full and willing participant, soliciting opinions from experts, for starters, on three questions: How will the church change as a community, in its understanding of what’s most important, and in its understanding of social mission.” By National Catholic Reporter Editorial Staff

We must not accept any more self-serving bluster from the Catholic hierarchy
“On the day the High Court of Australia quashed the conviction of Cardinal George Pell for child sex abuse offences, the Pope asked for prayers for those who suffer unjust sentences because ‘someone had it in for them’ and compared them to Jesus who ‘was judged ferociously even though he was innocent.’ While not referring directly to Pell, the Pope’s comments were either ill-advised and oblivious to the deep distress they would cause(link is external) to hundreds of thousands of child abuse survivors across the world, or they were deliberately chosen to be inflammatory and offensive to those same survivors.” By Peter Gogarty, Liverpool Champion

The fight for justice for sexual abuse survivors must go on
“While (Cardinal George) Pell’s acquittal may be seen as a setback, his accuser said he hoped the case would not ‘discourage’ other survivors from coming forward(link is external). He reassured them ‘that most people recognize the truth when they hear it,’ noting that he had felt supported by police and prosecutors. Undoubtedly, if survivors stopped coming forward, there would be no justice to pursue.” By Victor Sande-Andeiros, Al Jazeera

STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS

West Virginia Sexual Abuse Survivors Now Have More Time to Seek Justice
“In a growing national trend, West Virginia has become the latest state to pass legislation reducing barriers to justice for victims of sexual assault(link is external). West Virginia House Bill 4559 effectively gives those who have been sexually assaulted or abused more time to sue their abuser for damages in a civil lawsuit. The bill extends the civil statute of limitations (SOL) to sue a perpetrator from age 22 to age 36, or 4 years from discovery of the abuse, whichever is later. The bill also extends the civil SOL against other individuals or organizations who aided, abetted or concealed the abuse from age 20 to age 36.” By Joseph Saunders, The Legal Examiner

Advocates continue pushing legislation for sex abuse survivors
“Activists had hoped that the state Legislature would take up at least two bills supporting survivors of sexual abuse(link is external) this legislative session, but with an uncertain schedule amid a pandemic, they worry the measures will be left on the backburner. Survivors of sexual abuse and members of the advocacy group Safe Horizon hosted a press call on Monday urging legislators to resume session and pass the Adult Survivors Act. The measure – like the Child Victims Act that went into effect in August – would open a one-year look-back period for adult victims to pursue previously time-barred lawsuits against their alleged abusers.” By Cayla Harris, Albany Times Union

CLERGY SEXUAL ABUSE

Sexual abuse survivors react to Cardinal Pell’s acquittal
“On Monday (Apr. 6), justices on Australia’s highest court decided to overturn a unanimous guilty verdict and free a man convicted of sexually abusing two young boys. The news rocked the survivor community worldwide. There is no shying away from the fact that the decision to overturn the conviction of Cardinal George Pell was a gut punch for survivors of clergy sexual abuse(link is external). The Pell case saw testimony from twelve witnesses, including the lone surviving victim. More accusers came later forward in the press and provided excruciating details of how the Cardinal manipulated them.” By Zack Hiner, Ms. Magazine

CONNECTICUT

Danbury clergy sexual abuse case pushed to June
“The pre-trial hearing of the former local priest accused of sexually assaulting two boys(link is external) has been rescheduled from April 24 to June 19. Jaime Marin-Cardona, 51, is charged with three counts of fourth-degree sexual assault, three counts of risk of injury to child and three counts of illegal sexual contact. He pleaded not guilty to all nine charges. The warrant for Marin-Cardona’s arrest alleges that he groomed two boys over the course of four years, and sexually abused one of them over the same period of time.” By Kendra Baker, News Times

HAWAII

Fr. Bart O’Leary named in new Hawaii sexual abuse case, Bishop Ferrario’s legacy of abuse continues
“Today (Apr. 14) Hawaii attorney Mark Gallagher and attorneys from the law firm of Jeff Anderson & Associates filed a complaint under Hawaii’s ‘window’ law (closing April 24, 2020) against the Diocese of Honolulu on behalf of clergy sexual abuse survivor Craig Christiansen(link is external). Christiansen courageously allowed his name to appear on the lawsuit even though survivors may bring claims confidentially. The lawsuit publicly identifies for the first time Father Bartholomew ‘Bart’ O’Leary, a globally-celebrated figure in Catholic seminary administration, as a child sexual abuser. The case also names the notorious former Diocese of Honolulu Bishop and child abuser, Bishop Joseph Ferrario.” By Jeff Anderson & Associates PC

ILLINOIS

Archdiocese of Chicago reaches $2.1 million settlement in lawsuit claiming 7-year-old girl abused at church camp
“The Archdiocese of Chicago has agreed to pay a $2.1 million settlement in a lawsuit that alleged a 7-year-old girl was sexually assaulted at a Catholic church camp(link is external) in 2015, according to a news release from the law firm representing the girl. The law firm, Romanucci & Blandin, did not name the camp where the abuse occurred, but a spokesman said it happened at a church in suburban Cook County.” By Javonte Anderson, Chicago Tribune

MISSOURI

Notice of credible allegation of abuse
“Bishop Johnston and diocesan leaders recognize how difficult it can be for a survivor of clergy sexual abuse to come forward and appreciate the great courage it takes in making a report to the Church. The diocese has received and deemed credible an allegation of sexual abuse of a minor by deceased Father Peter Clement Vatter(link is external). This allegation was deemed credible following the diocesan Policy for Response to Allegations, by the Ombudsman, Independent Review Board and Bishop Johnston. The abuse occurred in the late 1940’s when Vatter was assigned as Pastor at Immaculate Conception Parish, Moberly, Missouri. In 1955, the parish was renamed St. Pius X Parish.” By BishopAccountability.org

NEW YORK

Buffalo Diocese legal bill in sex abuse scandal: $2 million and counting
“The Buffalo Diocese is spending a lot of money defending itself. Hundreds of clergy sexual abuse lawsuits. A landmark bankruptcy case. The result is a legal bill totaling more than $2 million the past year alone(link is external). And the meter is running. More than half of the money paid out by the diocese – $1.4 million – went to Connors LLP, the Buffalo law firm handling more than 260 Child Victims Act lawsuits against the diocese.” By Phil Fairbanks, The Buffalo News

Hundreds of claims against Rochester-area Catholic parishes blocked, but at what cost?
“The parishes that make up the Diocese of Rochester, some of them already hobbled by declining attendance and flagging finances, are facing a new threat. A wave of litigation. The diocese’s parishes, as well as charitable affiliates like the Catholic Youth Organization and Camp Stella Maris, are facing more than 400 legal claims that allege sexual abuse of young people by priests(link is external) and nuns connected to those organizations.” By Steve Orr, Rochester Democrat & Chronicle

Delays expected in sex abuse lawsuits
“Even without a Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceeding by the Diocese of Buffalo, plaintiffs alleging sexual abuse by priests would be facing at least a two-year wait(link is external) for courts to hear their cases. A state Supreme Court Justice in Erie County has ruled that an unnamed man who attended the Holy Apostles Parish should receive a default judgement against Mark M. Friel, the priest who abused the plaintiff as a child. Damages can’t be decided in the case, though, until cases proceed against the Diocese of Buffalo and Holy Apostles Parish because they hired, retained and supervised Friel.” By John Wittaker, Post-Journal

NORTH CAROLINA

2 lawsuits alleging sexual abuse filed against Diocese of Charlotte
“Two people who say priests sexually abused them when they were children(link is external) are now suing the Charlotte Catholic Diocese. The civil lawsuits filed in Mecklenburg County claim the Catholic church concealed misconduct and sheltered abusers. The cases were filed against Fathers Richard Farwell and Joseph Kelleher. The plaintiffs’ attorney said their accusations are on the list of credible allegations that were released late last year, but their cases were previously dismissed based upon the statue of limitations.” By WSOC-TV9 News

PENNSYLVANIA

Man files lawsuit claiming he was sexually abused as a child by three Pittsburgh Catholic priests
“ By A man is suing the Catholic Pittsburgh Diocese, claiming he was abused by three priests as a child(link is external) — two of them who he knew only as ‘father.’ A 62-year-old man who lives in New Hampshire filed the suit in the Allegheny County Court of Common Pleas. It alleges that the abuse began when he was 7 or 8 and was a student at St. Coleman’s Catholic School in Turtle Creek. He claims the abuse continued through the age of 15 as he was living at the New Castle Youth Development Center.” By KDKA-TV2 News

VIRGINIA

Diocesan Review Board Concludes Investigation of Rev. Msgr. Raymond A. Barton
“Following a lengthy investigation by the Diocesan Review Board, Bishop Barry C. Knestout of the Catholic Diocese of Richmond has determined that Msgr. Raymond A. Barton, a retired priest of the diocese, will not have his name added to the diocesan list of clergy with a credible and substantiated allegation of child sexual abuse(link is external). On Feb. 14, 2020, the Catholic Diocese of Richmond announced it had received a report of allegations of child sexual abuse against the retired priest.” By Diocese of Richmond

AUSTRALIA

Vatican requires bishops ‘to cover up child sex abuse’ in absence of reporting laws, expert says
“A confidential instruction from the pope in 1922 directed bishops to treat canonical crimes such as ‘obscene acts with animals,’ ‘solicitation of sex during confession,’ and ‘gravely sinful offences perpetrated against children’ with the utmost secrecy. ‘And that secrecy has been confirmed, continued by every pope since(link is external), including the current one, Pope Francis,’ said Kieran Tapsell, an expert witness on a 2017 royal commission panel on canon law.” By Charlotte King, ABC News Ballarat

Cardinal Pell’s acquittal stirs abuse survivor memories in Ballarat hometown
“A thick line of black tape obscures Cardinal George Pell’s name on a board lauding ordained alumni of St Patrick’s College in the Australian town of Ballarat as colored ribbons flutter on doors and mailboxes. The high school in Pell’s home town has no immediate plans to remove the tape despite the former Vatican treasurer’s acquittal this week of the sexual assault(link is external) of two choirboys in Melbourne in the 1990s. The High Court’s decision to overturn a lower court’s ruling and clear 78-year-old Pell, releasing him from jail after serving just over a year of a six-year sentence, has stirred painful memories for child sex abuse survivors in Ballarat.” By Sonali Paul and Jonathan Barrett, Reuters

CANADA

Sign up to sex abuse redress scheme or lose funding, government warns
“Victorian private schools, religious entities and other organizations who don’t sign up to a redress scheme for child sex abuse survivors may lose funding(link is external), the state government will announce on Sunday. The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse recommended a national redress scheme to provide survivors with support such as compensation. Victoria’s Attorney-General Jill Hennessy said 49 non-government organizations operating in the state had not signed up to the scheme, which has a June 30 deadline.” By Goya Dmytryshchak, The Sydney Morning Herald

80-year-old Hearst priest accused of additional historic sex offences
“An 80-year-old priest from Hearst faces additional charges stemming from allegations of a historical sexual assaulthttps://www.thesudburystar.com/news/local-news/80-year-old-hearst-priest-accused-of-additional-historical-sex-offenses/wcm/de6ac01a-ded7-4807-a432-83b01ba27904(link is external). The Ontario Provincial Police say the offenses are alleged to have occurred in Hearst over a period between 1976 and 1985. As a result of the investigation launched Feb. 26, Fernand Villeneuve was charged with one count of sexual assault, one count of acting with gross indecency and one count of indecent assault on a female.” By The Daily Press

JAPAN

Sexual abuse of minors in dioceses ‘just the tip of iceberg’
“A new internal report by a Catholic bishops organization found that 16 sexual abuse cases against minors since the 1950s in Japan have been reported from the dioceses(link is external). Of these cases spanning seven decades, only four of the clergy have admitted to the abuse and five remain as priests. The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Japan on April 7 released its investigative report on its website after surveying all 16 diocesan bishops in Japan.” By Maki Okubo, The Asahi Shimbun

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