Posts Tagged Synod on Synodality

Francis’ synod reforms show voices of Catholic laity can no longer be ignored / National Catholic Reporter

In a 2016 letter to Cardinal Marc Ouellet, he (Pope Francis) urged: ‘Let us trust in our People, in their memory and in their ‘sense of smell,’ let us trust that the Holy Spirit acts in and with our People and that this Spirit is not merely the ‘property’ of the ecclesial hierarchy.’ Simply stated, lay Christians have a ‘nose’ for the truth of the Gospel.

By Catherine E. Clifford, National Catholic Reporter

“Pope Francis’ decision in late April to include lay persons as full participants with voting rights in the upcoming Synod of Bishops is a significant step towards making the synod a body that more adequately represents and embodies an act of discernment by the whole entire people of God. 

“In exhorting the pastors of the local churches to embark upon a synodal process with the whole community of the baptized and listen to the voices of the marginalized, the pope has been seeking to reawaken the muscle memory of the ecclesial body. 

“The successors of the apostles are relearning the importance of consulting the whole church, in the image of the first Apostles (Acts 6:5; 9:22). A more synodal church — the goal of the present synodal process — better reflects the nature of the Christian community as followers of the Way (Acts 9:2; John 14:6), a community of disciples on a shared journey of faith.

“On many occasions Francis has astutely diagnosed the debilitating consequences of failing to receive fully Vatican II’s recognition of the equal dignity and co-responsibility of the baptized through the creation of spaces for their meaningful participation in the discernment of the church’s missional needs and priorities.”

By Catherine E. Clifford, National Catholic Reporter — Read more …

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” —

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Voice of the Faithful Focus News Roundup, April 14, 2023

April 14, 2023


Report details ‘staggering’ church sex abuse in Maryland
More than 150 Catholic priests and others associated with the Archdiocese of Baltimore sexually abused over 600 children and often escaped accountability, according to a long-awaited state report released Wednesday (Apr. 8) that revealed the scope of abuse spanning 80 years and accused church leaders of decades of coverups. The report paints a damning picture of the archdiocese, which is the oldest Roman Catholic diocese in the country and spans much of Maryland.” By Lea Skene, Brian Witte, and Sarah Brumfield, Associated Press

Jesuit resigns from pope’s clergy abuse commission, criticizing group’s leadership
“One of Pope Francis’ key advisers on clergy sexual abuse has resigned from the pontiff’s child protection commission and has launched searing criticisms against the organization’s leadership and its alleged lack of transparency. The president of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, Boston’s Cardinal Sean O’Malley, announced on March 29 that one of the commission’s founding members, German Jesuit Fr. Hans Zollner, had asked the pope ‘to be relieved of his duties as a member … In an unusually blunt 400-word statement issued several hours later, Zollner said that after nine years of service on the commission, it was “impossible” to continue given his mounting concerns ‘in the areas of responsibility, compliance, accountability and transparency.’” By Christopher White, National Catholic Reporter

Clergy abuse and the church’s silence leave deep wounds for Catholics, study finds
“The more stories he heard from clergy abuse survivors, the more Marcus Mescher realized that their suffering wasn’t just emotional or physical − it was a moral trauma. Clergy abuse victims often feel alone and empty − if not ‘dirty,’ said Mescher, an associate professor of Christian ethics at the Jesuit-run Xavier University in Cincinnati He and his co-researchers at Xavier published a report in December, demonstrating the abuse of children and subsequent concealment by the church resulted in ‘persistent psychological and emotional distress, moral confusion, spiritual anguish, social alienation and distrust for institutions.’” By Deena Yellin,

North American synod gathering focused on concerns about pope’s process, says participating bishop
“A U.S. bishop who helped draft the synthesis document for the North American continental phase of the ongoing process for the Synod of Bishops said he saw “notable differences” in this phase’s virtual listening sessions, compared to input from the previous parish- and diocesan-level phase. ‘Concerns about the direction of the synod were more pronounced,’ said Bishop John Stowe of Lexington, Kentucky, noting that among the concerns of those delegates, who were handpicked by bishops, were restrictions against the pre-Vatican II Latin Mass, possible changes to Catholic doctrine, the focus on inclusivity and the synod process itself.” By Heidi Schlumpf, National Catholic Reporter


Accountability for lay groups destined to be test of sex abuse reform
“Depending on who you ask, Pope Francis’ 2019 decree ‘Vos Estis Lux Mundi’ (‘You are the Light of the World’), coupled with updates to the policy announced March 25, is either a watershed in the Church’s fight against sexual abuse or a major disappointment — or, perhaps, both at the same time. Originally issued in the wake of a summit of the heads of bishops’ conferences from around the world to discuss the abuse scandals, ‘Vos Estis’ was designed to promote a culture of accountability, not just for the crime of sexual abuse but also for the cover-up.” By John L. Allen, Jr.,, on

Shattered: Catholic community confronts its founder’s lies
“The findings of an initial expert report were astonishing: One of the 20th century’s revered Catholic leaders, who built an international movement of community care for people with intellectual disabilities, perverted Catholic doctrine about Jesus and Mary to justify his own sexual compulsions and abuse women. The findings of a second report were even worse: The movement he created had at its core a secret, mystical-sexual “sect,” and was founded for the precise purpose of hiding the sect’s deviant activities from church authorities.” By Nicole Winfield, Associated Press

Pope broadens rules for investigating abuse allegations
“Pope Francis has updated the procedures for investigating sexual abuse allegations, specifying that leaders of international Catholic lay associations and movements have the same responsibilities over their members that bishops have over diocesan priests. The updated version of Vos Estis Lux Mundi (You are the light of the world), published on Saturday (Mar. 25), also expanded the categories of victims covered by the regulations to include vulnerable adults.” By

Catholic watchdog group names bishops tied to sex abuse and urges pope to act
“Prominent researchers of accountability for clergy sexual abuse called on Pope Francis on Wednesday (Mar. 18) to release the names of bishops investigated by the Vatican since the implementation of 2019 rules that overhauled how the church responds to abuse accusations. The watchdog group,, criticized the pope at a news conference for failing to give a ‘full accounting’ of the impact of the revised rules, which they called a landmark effort to combat abuse. The organization also released a list, based on news reports from around the world, of 40 bishops who have been investigated under the four-year-old law.” By Marissa Iati, The Washington Post


Synod’s ‘messy,’ ‘joyful North American phase concludes with a call to mission, moves to Rome
The final document for the North American phase of the 2021-2024 Synod on Synodality was released April 12, capturing a process of dialogue and discernment that two participants described as ‘messy,’ ‘joyful’ and unifying — like the synod itself. ‘It’s amazing what comes about when … you invoke the Holy Spirit in the conversation,’ Julia McStravog, a theologian and co-coordinator of the North American team for the synod’s continental phase, told OSV News.” By Gina Christian, OSV News

Oceania bishops finalize response to Synod’s working document
“Representatives of the four bishops conferences in Oceania have approved the region’s final response to the working document published last October for the Synod of Bishops for a Synodal Church. The new executive council of the Federation of Catholic Bishops Conferences of Oceania recently met via videoconference, along with members of the discernment and writing group tasked with drafting the Oceania response.” By

Vatican’s highest-ranking nun, Nathalie Becquart, talks synodality with young Catholics
“Sister Nathalie Becquart, the highest-ranking woman at the Vatican, dropped into St. Paul the Apostle Church in Manhattan on Tuesday evening (Mar. 28) to talk to and about young Catholics, and particularly young women in the church. The French nun, who is shepherding a worldwide survey of Catholics ahead of a fall meeting of bishops on the future of the church, didn’t have answers for the women in the audience so much as she had advice.” By Meagan Saliashvili, Religion News Service

Cardinal McElroy on the voices of synodal dialogue
“Last year, the Catholic community in the United States undertook the largest non-governmental process of interpersonal dialogue and consultation ever held in our nation’s history. More than five hundred thousand men and women gathered together in prayer and discernment in their parishes, schools, cultural communities and service organizations to share their joys and their sorrows, their hopes and their fears for the life of the Church. This initial process of dialogue produced a rich sense of exhilaration and unity among its participants.” By Robert W. McElroy, Commonweal

Synod preparatory commission aware of ‘high expectations and anxiety’
“Three members of the preparatory commission for the assembly of the Synod of Bishops, including Perth Archbishop Timothy Costelloe SDB, said they know some Catholics have high expectations for the process while others have intense anxiety. The seven-member commission met at the Vatican on March 13-16 and had an audience with Pope Francis on the last day of their gathering.” By

Hope for change endures decades after Vatican II and Detroit’s ’69 synod
“Countless pieces of analysis have used the occasion of the 10th anniversary of the election of Pope Francis to argue that he is a breath of fresh air as he urges the church to consider difficult topics, most notably through the ongoing synodal process. And while that’s true, the spirit of synodality can also trace its origins in the United States to much earlier. In the years immediately following the Second Vatican Council, Detroit’s Archbishop John Dearden launched a process that feels thoroughly in sync with the goals of Francis.” By Christopher White, National Catholic Reporter

India: Catholic ministry to migrants to be more synodal
“The National Commission for Migrants of the Conference of Catholic Bishops of India (CCBI), is calling on Indian dioceses to take up the challenging mission of working with migrants with a synodal approach, to foster a Good Samaritan attitude both in institutions and society. The issue was discussed this week during a three-day conference in Bangalore titled ‘The Pastoral Care of migrants in the Multicultural context of India: A synodal way.’” By Lisa Zengarini, Vatican News

Synod vigil to be expression of ‘ecumenism of solidarity,’ pastor says
“Planning an ecumenical prayer vigil for the Catholic Church’s Synod of Bishops and making a commitment to participating in it is an expression of ‘an ecumenism of solidarity,’ said the Rev. Anne-Laure Danet, ecumenical officer for the French Protestant Federation. ‘It is extraordinary,’ she said. ‘We can pray for one another, but the best way to do it is to pray with one another.’ Rev. Danet spoke to Catholic News Service and Vatican News March 15 after she and some 60 Catholic and Protestant representatives met Pope Francis at the end of a three-day gathering to plan the ecumenical prayer vigil that will be held Sept. 30 in St. Peter’s Square.” By Cindy Wooden, Catholic News Service

Pope Francis seeks a synodal church that is always reforming
“The Second Vatican Council was a council of reform. We see this in the speeches Popes John XXIII and Paul VI delivered at the beginning of the first and second periods of the council’s work. The former spoke of aggiornamento (‘updating’). The second spoke of renovatio ecclesiae (‘ecclesial reform’) … The ecclesial form to which the conciliar reform aimed was described by one of the most brilliant minds of Lumen gentium, Belgian Cardinal Leo Suenens. Shortly after the 1965 conclusion of the council, Suenens emphasized that the two richest elements of the ecclesiological renewal were the image of the People of God as a whole and the co-responsibility in the mission for all its members.” By Rafael Luciani, National Catholic Reporter

Commission focuses on ensuring synod will be prayerful experience
“At the end of their first meeting, three members of the preparatory commission for the assembly of the Synod of Bishops said they know some Catholics have very high expectations for the process while others have intense anxiety. The seven-member commission met at the Vatican March 13-16 and had an audience with Pope Francis on the last day of their gathering. Bishop Daniel E. Flores of Brownsville, Texas, who has been coordinating the synod process for the bishops of the United States, was one of the members whose appointment was announced by the Vatican March 15.” By Cindy Wooden, Catholic News Service


Pope Francis faces chance to radically reshape U.S. Catholic hierarchy: 13 American archdioceses and 21 dioceses could need new bishops by 2025
“If Pope Francis continues to serve as bishop of Rome for another two years, he may have a notable opportunity to refashion the U.S. Catholic hierarchy. Dozens of bishops, several in historically significant archdioceses, will be required by canon law to submit resignation letters upon turning 75. At least 13 archdioceses and 21 dioceses could have new episcopal appointments by February 2025 … The number of episcopal openings could increase because of deaths or resignations.” By Brian Fraga, National Catholic Reporter

A disappointing 10 years of Pope Francis on abuse
“A widely known and well-respected world figure is once again taking on the Catholic Church over its abuse crisis, speaking more forcefully than ever before. Asking for forgiveness “is not enough,” he says. Victims, he says, have to be “at the center” of everything. He insists there must be “concrete actions to repair the horrors they have suffered and to prevent them from happening again.” The Catholic Church must set an example in helping to solve the problem and “bring it to light,” he says. Strong words, no? Here’s the problem, though: the man saying these things is the man who can do these things.” By David Clohessy, National Catholic Reporter

Iowa conference celebrates Pope Francis
“Although a number of universities, Catholic organizations and even NCR held events for the 10th anniversary of Pope Francis’ election, the only multiday conference in the U.S. dedicated to marking a decade of his pontificate was held in Davenport, Iowa. Nearly 300 people from 17 states and three countries attended the March 16-18 ‘Francis at 10: A Papacy of Possibilities’ conference at St. Ambrose University, while another 100 joined online. Yes, if you build it, they will come. (OK — I know the ‘Field of Dreams’ is in Dyersville, near Dubuque, not Davenport, but close enough!)” By Heidi Schlumpf, National Catholic Reporter

Francis’ papacy has been good news for U.S. Catholics
“This month marks the 10th anniversary of the election of Pope Francis who, as the leader of the Roman Catholic Church and its 1.3 billion members, continues to capture the attention of Catholics and non-Catholics worldwide. Several historical firsts accompanied his papal election: first Latin American, first Jesuit and first to choose the name Francis. Along with these ‘firsts,’ Francis’ pontificate has also signaled some possible ‘lasts,’ even if temporarily.” By Hosffman Ospino, National Catholic Reporter

The legacy of a decade of Pope Francis
“When Pope Francis was elected 10 years ago, I was sitting in front of a BBC camera preparing to be interviewed and uttered a word I cannot print in my column. Luckily, my mic had not been turned on. All I knew about Jorge Bergoglio was that my friends in Latin America, liberation theologians and Jesuits, did not like him, calling him conservative and authoritarian … Within a couple of weeks, we learned how wrong we both (Thomas Reese and George Weigel) were. The cardinals had elected as pope a man who would change the style of being pope, attack clericalism, empower the laity, open the church to conversation and debate and change the pastoral and public priorities of the church.” By Thomas Reese, National Catholic Reporter


German bishop resigns, cites responsibility in abuse scandal
“Pope Francis on Saturday (Mar. 25) accepted a resignation request from a German bishop who asked to step down because of his mistakes in handling sexual abuse cases. Franz-Josef Bode, who has been the bishop of Osnabrueck, Germany, since 1995, said in a personal statement that his decision to resign ‘has matured in me in recent months’ and he hoped it would have a liberating effect on the diocese. Bode explained that an interim report released in September on abuse by clergy in the diocese had revealed his mistakes. He acknowledged his responsibility as a bishop and said, ‘Today, I can only ask all those affected again for forgiveness.’” By Kirsten Grieshaber, Associated Press, on


Inside the effort to identify Catholic-run boarding schools for Indigenous children
“For 150 years, the United States government financed more than 400 boarding schools across the United States, educating tens of thousands of Native American children but subjecting them to abuse, neglect, cultural oppression, and sometimes even death. But while the government has a list of every Navy ship the nation has floated, it has never compiled a list of the boarding schools it ran. ‘There was no central place where all this information was held,’ said Brenna Cussen, the religious communities liaison for the Nuns and Nones Land Justice Project.” By Dan Stockman, National Catholic Reporter, Global Sisters Report, National Catholic Reporter


Sister Nathalie Becquart will be the first woman to vote with bishops at a synod. Her advice for young women?
“Sister Nathalie Becquart, the highest-ranking woman at the Vatican, dropped into St. Paul the Apostle Church in Manhattan on Tuesday evening (March 28) to talk to and about young Catholics, and particularly young women in the church. The French nun, who is shepherding a worldwide survey of Catholics ahead of a fall meeting of bishops on the future of the church, didn’t have answers for the women in the audience so much as she had advice: Listen.” By Meagan Saliashvili, America: The Jesuit Review

UN women’s commission examines global gender divide in digital technology
“In her ministry in Zambia, Sr. Kayula Lesa knows all about digital divides. Many places in Zambia and rural Africa simply don’t have adequate internet access despite the importance of computer skills, creating an access divide. But a gender divide also exists based on the culture in some countries that says male students should have priority in acquiring computer and digital tech skills. In both cases, girls lose out, and gender inequality does not get solved.” By Chris Herlinger, National Catholic Reporter


Debate over clergy exemption pits sanctity of confession against child safety
“Since January 2019, Fr. Jim Connell of the Archdiocese of Milwaukee has been urging state legislators around the country to repeal clergy-penitent privilege in mandatory reporting laws that exempt Catholic priests from notifying authorities of any sexual abuse they hear about in the confessional. Milwaukee Archbishop Jerome Listecki has suspended Connell’s faculties to hear confessions and grant absolution, citing his advocacy ‘for the removal of the legal protection of the confessional seal, suggesting there are situations where it is permissible to violate it.’ Listecki said in a March 22 statement that Connell’s ‘false assertions’ that the seal of confession should not apply in some situations had caused ‘understandable and widespread unrest’ among Catholics.” By Brian Fraga, National Catholic Reporter

Review: ‘Ghosts of the Orphanage,’ by Christine Kenneally
“Even after Spotlight, even after Tuam this book was a shock. Christine Kenneally’s exposé of the abuse and torture of children in 20th-century orphanages fits neatly alongside those earlier stories of religious institutional child abuse. And yet, readers might find themselves emotionally unprepared. Kenneally’s book, “Ghosts of the Orphanage,” focuses primarily on St. Joseph’s Orphanage in Burlington, Vt., though it also touches on Native boarding schools as well as institutions in Canada, Ireland and Australia. Most were run by the Catholic Church. The appalling stories from all of those places are chillingly similar.” By Laurie Hertzel, Star Tribune

‘It’s gutless’: clergy abuse survivors and their families outraged by legal stays that thwart cases
“Victims of crimes committed by clergy such as Marist Brother ‘Romuald’ Cable speak out about handling of civil claims — Two hours after Audrey Nash forced her son Andrew’s bedroom door open, finding him dead by suicide at just 13, she received a surprise home visit from a now notorious member of the Catholic clergy. Marist Brother Francis ‘Romuald’ Cable, one of New South Wales’ worst Catholic school pedophiles, fired off a strange series of questions to the shocked and grieving mother. ‘[Cable] asked me, ‘Did Andrew leave a note?’ she told the royal commission in 2016. ‘I said, ‘No.’” By Christopher Knaus, The Guardian


Omaha archdiocese poised to group churches in families
“Facing a shrinking pool of priests, declining Mass attendance and population shifts from rural to urban areas, the Archdiocese of Omaha is expected to finalize plans by the end of the month grouping its 133 parishes into 33 families. Placing parishes in families will allow for more sharing of resources — both human and financial — and of outreach to groups such as the poor and the elderly, said Deacon Tim McNeil, chancellor of the archdiocese.” By Julie Anderson, Omaha World-Herald

Priests asked for input on possible closure of St. Louis Catholic parishes
“Local Roman Catholic pastors have until Tuesday (Mar. 28) to respond to a request from the Archdiocese of St. Louis for opinions on whether a merger or closing of their parish is warranted. In a form letter dated March 13, the pastors were asked for feedback on the viability of their parishes ‘in terms of the number of parishioners and the real estate and financial assets to order divine worship, provide for the support of the clergy, and exercise works of the sacred apostolate and of charity, for the next 10-15 years.” By Blythe Bernhard, St. Louis Post-Dispatch


Clergy abuse survivors group seeking investigation of Catholic bankruptcies by California AG
“The national Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests wants Attorney General Rob Bonta to investigate the bankruptcy proceedings launched this week by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Santa Rosa and perhaps Oakland as well. The survivors’ group, known as SNAP, decided to act in the wake of the Oakland bishop’s announcement Thursday that he was ‘giving strong consideration’ to filing Chapter 11 bankruptcy. That announcement came just four days after Santa Rosa Bishop Robert F. Vasa submitted his own bankruptcy petition to the court.” By Mary Callahan, The Press Democrat

Additional charges filed in Vatican finance trial
“The Vatican’s prosecuting attorney has leveled additional charges against four of the defendants who have been on trial since July 2021 for their alleged roles in the Vatican’s failed investment in a property in London. Alessandro Diddi, the prosecutor, announced the new charges March 30 at the end of the trial’s 54th session. Raffaele Mincione, Gianluigi Torzi and Enrico Crasso were charged with bribery in addition to the original charges that included embezzlement, fraud and money laundering. A money-laundering charge also was made against Fabrizio Tirabassi, a former official in the Vatican Secretariat of State, who had been accused of corruption, extortion, embezzlement, fraud and abuse of office.” By Cindy Wooden, Catholic News Service, in National Catholic Reporter

U.S. dioceses’ bankruptcies highlight complex tensions
“Recent and potential bankruptcy filings by California and New York dioceses, made in response to clerical sexual abuse claims, highlight the complex tensions between civil and canon law regarding church assets — including those at parishes — and their availability for settling lawsuits … A key issue for those in the pews is ‘whether the parishes are part of the debtor’s estate,’ said attorney L. Martin Nussbaum, cofounder and partner of the Nussbaum Gleason firm, who has advocated for dioceses in litigation. He told OSV News, ‘Crystal clear it is not … because parishes and dioceses come into existence not by an act of the state, but by an act of the church.’” By

Why priests steal – researchers look to ‘fraud triangle’ in parish life
“Priests who steal are often motivated by resentment, envy, and a desire to cover up for other moral lapses, new analysis has found, adding that isolation and weak oversight can contribute to the rationalization of theft through ‘moral licensing.’ But the same analysis concluded that a relatively small number of priests have been caught stealing from parishes, and that the priesthood does not seem to attract fraudsters or financial con artists. A new scholarly article, ‘Exploring Embezzlement by Catholic Priests in the United States: A Content Analysis of Cases Since 1963,’ documented almost 100 instances of stealing by priests, which have sometimes involved hundreds of thousands stolen.” By The Pillar


Religious make ‘powerful; call against clericalism Synod summary
“Contributions from religious to the Synod on Synodality contained a ‘powerful and fearless critique’ of clericalism and a ‘clear call’ for lay people and religious to be involved in the formation of seminarians. Delivering an address at Trinity College Dublin, Dr Gemma Simmonds CJ, a member of the group charged with drawing up the summary, said members of religious orders felt that lay and religious involvement in formation might help a ‘more participative and welcoming’ Church to emerge and ensure that ordained ministry was seen not as ‘a clerical caste’ but a ‘refined form of the baptismal vocation’ in line with the teaching of Vatican II.” By

Pre-Vatican II Mass was formed by ‘clericalization,’ says papal preacher
“Clericalization led to the separation of the clergy from the faithful in the church’s liturgy celebrated before the Second Vatican Council, said Cardinal Raniero Cantalamessa, preacher of the papal household. In his Lenten reflection March 24, the cardinal told Pope Francis and officials of the Roman Curia gathered in the Vatican audience hall that Vatican II’s reform of the Mass was a return from ‘a relatively recent past to a more ancient and original one.’ Through descriptions of the Mass from St. Justin in the second century and St. Hippolytus in the third century, he said, ‘we obtain a vision of the Mass that is certainly closer to the reformed one of today than to that of the centuries behind us.’” By Justin McLellan, Catholic News Service, on

IADC director among editors of new volume on Catholic theology and theological ethics in response to the abuse crisis
“A pioneering new book which charts fresh territory for Catholic theology and theological ethics in response to the abuse crisis in the Church has been published. Edited by the Australian ethicist Daniel J. Fleming, Boston College professor of theological ethics and founder of Catholic Theological Ethics in the World Church (CTEWC), James F. Keenan SJ, and director of the Institute of Anthropology at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome, Hans Zollner SJ, the new volume features contributions from 22 scholars from 15 different countries spread across Asia, Africa, North America, South America, Europe and Oceania.” By IADC Staff

Laity in Africa cautioned against fostering clericalism, elevating ‘the clergy too much’
Clericalism is not just a problem of the clergy, members of the newly constituted Synodality Resource Team (SRT) for Africa have said, and called on the laity to play their role in de-clericalizing the Church. In a two-day workshop they held to devise ways to deepen the understanding of a Synodal Church on the continent, the SRT members who shared their experiences with the Synod on Synodality noted that the phenomenon of clericalism had surfaced prominently in synodal conversations.” By Agnes Aineah,


Pope Francis rejects optional celibacy to increase vocations: ‘We must not be naïve’
“In an interview with the Argentinian media Infobae, Pope Francis revealed that he considers it naive to think the solution to the shortage of priestly vocations is for them to get married. Instead, he considers the lack of vocations to be a cultural problem. He used the example of Lutheran priests, who can get married. But he explained that this has not increased the number of ministers. Pope Francis also spoke about celibacy with the authors of the book, The Pastor. He emphasized that he is in favor of the tradition of the Western Church where priests do not marry. But the Pope added that he will leave that decision to his successor.” By Catholic Diocese of Raleigh


‘Manufacturing the Clerical Predator
A new film from Nate’s Mission and ending Clergy Abuse

When a Catholic diocese goes bankrupt, does it help or hurt sex abuse survivors
“Catholic dioceses throughout the United States, including several in New York and California, are considering or already taking steps toward declaring bankruptcy, partly in response to a flood of sexual abuse lawsuits filed after states adopted laws that eliminate or pause statutes of limitations … Lawyers and advocates for survivors say that dioceses seeking bankruptcy protections use the process to shield church assets from individuals who were harmed by the church … Some bankruptcy experts, however, say the process allows for a thorough process that can ultimately lead to a more just outcome for those who were harmed.” By Michael J. O’Loughlin and Christopher Parker, America: The Jesuit Review

Commentary: Forsaken again
“On March 15, the Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany filed for protection under Chapter 11 bankruptcy. That day I watched in despair as Bishop Edward Scharfenberger justified his decision as ‘the best way to protect everyone’ while acknowledging ‘it may cause pain and suffering.’ The public has the right to know exactly what that pain and suffering looks like. Not from the loudest attorney or a diocese spokesperson, but from a victim of clergy sexual abuse. I was one of over 400 plaintiffs under the New York Child Victims Act seeking civil relief from the Albany diocese.” By Daniel Thompson, Albany Times Union

Catholic priest releases memoir focused on spiritual abuse, healing
“Morganton native Jeffrey Kendall no longer works as an active Catholic priest, but that doesn’t mean he has given up looking for God. ‘I’m always going to be Catholic – I can never change that,’ Kendall said. ‘I’m not antichurch. I’m antiabuse.’ Kendall left his post in the Diocese of Charleston due to what he calls ‘a culture of cruelty.’ He said the abuses of power and mistreatment he experienced left him broken and distant from God.” By Jason Koon, The News Herald

Church needs creative ministries to care for abuse survivors, advocate says
“A ministry for homebound victim-survivors of clergy abuse to receive the Eucharist in the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis is an example of the creativity needed to help abuse survivors find healing, said the executive director of the Secretariat for Child and Youth Protection for the U.S. bishops. ‘It’s the Holy Spirit at work,’ said Deacon Bernie Nojadera, who has led the post at the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops for the past 12 years. He said this new program is ‘leading the way with its ministry,’ noting that it has brought ‘blessing and grace’ to the person receiving the Eucharist and the person bringing it.” By Carol Zimmermann, The Tablet

Kansas sex abuse survivors’ efforts bear fruit with a hearing. But we owe children more than that.
“Kansas owes its kids. It owes them protection. It owes them a better future. For those who have been wronged through sexual abuse, it owes them justice. With a hearing Thursday Mar. 23), the Kansas Legislature has finally — after years of delay — inched toward recognizing that fact. At 10:30 a.m., the Senate Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing on Senate Bill 317, which eliminates the statute of limitations for criminal prosecutions of child sexual abuse. It also extends the deadline for pursuing civil action by 10 years, among other changes to state law.” By Clay Wirestone, Kansas Reflector

The sacramental seal, sinners, and saints
“Mothers and fathers would have good reason to think of child abuse—sexual or otherwise—as the greatest of crimes. Parents, after all, see the physical, emotional, and spiritual fallout from abuse in their children’s lives. Everyone, particularly parents, should be interested in measures that would detect child abuse earlier or prevent it entirely. It’s therefore not surprising that lawmakers continue to try to find ways to protect children.” By Dawn Beutner, The Catholic World Report


New Maryland law stops statue of limitations for survivors to sue sex abusers
“Maryland Gov. Wes Moore signed dozens of bills into law Tuesday (Apr. 11) afternoon, hours after the 2023 legislative session ended. One of those new Maryland laws will open the door to new lawsuits brought by survivors of child sex abuse. Survivors of child abuse have been pushing lawmakers to pass the “Child Victims Act” for decades. Finally, Senate Bill 686, House Bill 1 is now a law. There is no longer a statute of limitations for survivors of child sex abuse in Maryland to sue their abusers.” By Paul Gessler, CBS News Baltimore

Commentary: Open the courthouse to child sex abuse survivors
“A proposed bill, now pending in the Texas Legislature, could bring a measure of justice to many survivors of childhood sexual abuse. As introduced by state Rep. Ann Johnson, a Democrat from Harris County, House Bill 206 would allow a person who was sexually abused as a child to bring a civil lawsuit ‘at any time’ to recover for injuries arising out of the abuse. If the bill is passed, the law would apply retroactively, effectively reforming archaic statutes of limitation to give child sex-abuse survivors access to the civil justice system, even if their cases would have been time-barred under prior law.” By Christa Brown, San Antonio Express-News

Get ‘predators off the street’: Kansas Senate ends limits on child sex abuse prosecutions
“When Sen. Cindy Holscher was 5 years old, she did what most young children would do on their family farm: play with animals, spend time with family and enjoy a few blissful months off from school. But one day, things turned much darker. A farmhand entered a barn while Holscher was playing with kittens and their conversation began innocently. Quickly, however, the man suggested playing a game ‘like Simon says’ that involved showing private parts.” By Andrew Bahl, The Topeka Capital-Journal

After weeks of waiting, Kansas survivor of child sex abuse eager for legislative hearing
“Every week since the beginning of the legislative session in January, survivors of childhood sexual abuse have staffed a table near the main public entrance to the Statehouse. Every week, they have met with senators and representatives, working toward a compromise on legislation that would remove barriers for other survivors who seek justice through criminal charges and civil litigation … This week, on Thursday (Mar. 23), a Senate panel finally plans to hold a hearing on legislation that remains a work in progress. Senate Bill 317 would establish a legal climate in Kansas where there is no statute of limitations on criminal charges, and where survivors could seek damages through civil cases until they turn 31 years old.” By Sherman Smith, Kansas Reflector

Maryland Senate passes law repealing statute of limitations
“Much to the chagrin of the state’s Catholic conference, the Maryland Senate passed legislation late on March 16 that would repeal the statute of limitations on sexual abuse lawsuits, creating a ‘lookback window’ for survivors to take legal action no matter how far back the abuse occurred. The 42-5 vote in favor of the Child Victims Act of 2023 paves the way for it to become law. It was cross-filed with a Maryland House bill of the same name, which is expected to pass with ease, as similar House legislation has in recent years. Gov. Wes Moore has also publicly expressed his support for the bill.” By John Lavenburg,


A new Catholic ministry brings the Eucharist to survivors of sexual abuse
“At the time (in 2018, when the Archdiocese of St. Paul-Minneapolis emerged from bankruptcy court), Archbishop Bernard Hebda said, ‘Our efforts to reach out to those hurt by people in the Church is just beginning and will continue indefinitely, along with our core commitment of creating and maintaining safe environments for all.’ A new ministry within the archdiocese is doubling down on that commitment. Starting in March 2023, victims of sexual abuse in Saint Paul-Minneapolis who still wish to receive the Eucharist but find it too traumatic to enter a church can have the sacrament brought to them.” By Christopher Parker, America: The Jesuit Review

We don’t know enough about the causes of clergy sexual abuse. One Jesuit initiative is beginning to change that.
“After three years of searching archives, surveying Jesuits and the laity, and struggling to honor the stories of survivors of sexual abuse by members of the clergy, we released the final report of Fordham University’s Taking Responsibility initiative on Feb. 9, marking an ending that actually feels like our work is just beginning. While our research was conducted at and frequently focused on the history, impact and prevention of sexual abuse at Jesuit institutions, we believe that our work is relevant to the entire church.” By Bradford E. Hinze, America: The Jesuit Review

Pope Francis extends ‘Vos Estis’ decree to counter both lay and clerical abuse
“Pope Francis permanently decreed Saturday (Mar. 25) an updated version of Vos estis lux mundi, his landmark legislation to counter sexual abuse in the Catholic Church. The decree promulgated March 25 extends the Church’s norms for handling of abuse to cover lay leaders of international associations of the faithful recognized by the Vatican.” By Courtney Mares, Catholic News Agency

Defrocked Catholic priest accused of molesting a boy still runs charity for kids
“A defrocked New York priest ‘credibly accused’ of sexually abusing a minor runs a charity that provides scholarships to Catholic schools for underprivileged children, according to public records. John J. Voglio, 65, is president of Mary F. Clancy Charities, which was founded in 2000 by another former priest, John Harrington, who was also accused of sexually abusing a minor, according to the Archdiocese of New York.” By Corky Siemaszko and Kate Martin, NBC News

‘It crucifies you every time’: the ‘crushing’ new tactic the church uses to block claims y abuse survivors
“In the small workshop behind his home in the Victorian country town of Broadford, Craig Waters was huddled on the floor, rocking back and forth. He’d been back there for hours, crying and alone, trapped anew in childhood nightmares. Waters was trying to process what the Catholic church had just told him: it was threatening to thwart his attempt to receive justice for the horrors he says he experienced as an eight-year-old boy at St Brendan’s Catholic primary school in western Sydney. There, a Catholic nun he dubs ‘the witch’ would take him away from his friends at lunchtime, lead him to a small dark room off the main assembly hall and shut the door.” By Christopher Knaus, The Guardian


Diocese warns that Stockton priest accused of sexual abuse is performing Masses illegitimately
“An ex-priest is reportedly hosting private, religious gatherings despite his dismissed status, the Diocese of Stockton warns. The former priest in question is Leo Suarez, who was ousted from the church back in 2010 and formally laicized in 2016. The diocese says he is not allowed to perform any priestly ministry in the diocese or elsewhere. Wednesday (Mar. 22) diocese officials told CBS13 they obtained proof through photographic evidence that Suarez has been celebrating Masses and quinceañeras in Diocese of Stockton halls as well as private homes and event spaces.” By Ashley Sharp, CBS-Tv Sacramento

Oakland Catholic diocese may file for bankruptcy over 300 sex abuse lawsuits
“The Diocese of Oakland is trying to get ahead of what appears to be around 330 looming clergy sexual abuse lawsuits, announcing they may file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, which critics say is just a tactic to avoid testifying and paying damages. The Roman Catholic Diocese of Oakland had a pretty ugly run of sexual abuse of children allegations back in the early 2000s, and in 2005, they paid a $56 million settlement to 56 victims. In today’s dollars, those settlements would likely be larger. And that’s a crucial consideration, as KRON4 reports that the diocese now suspects it’s facing ‘approximately 330’ sex abuse lawsuits from victims, and announced Thursday (Mar. 16) that they may file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.” By


Pensacola Catholic Church deacon inappropriate conduct with minor accusation deemed ‘unfounded’
“The investigation into a Pensacola Catholic Church deacon carried out by the Florida Department of Children and Families on a claim of sexual misconduct was deemed ‘unfounded,’ according to a statement from Chief Operating Officer of Diocese of Pensacola-Tallahassee, David Ell. In February, the Diocese of Pensacola-Tallahassee ‘became aware of a report of inappropriate conduct with a minor female,’ involving Deacon Tom Gordon, while serving at Little Flower Catholic Church in Pensacola.” By WKRG-TV5


Report of Child Sexual Abuse in the Archdiocese of Atlanta and Diocese of Savannah
“On January 31, 2019, the Attorney General, Christopher M. Carr, facilitated a meeting. … During this meeting, with the consent and cooperation of the Archbishop of Atlanta Wilton D. Gregory and the Bishop of Savannah Gregory J. Hartmayer, the Archdiocese of Atlanta and the Diocese of Savannah expressed a willingness to permit the Prosecuting Attorneys’ Council to conduct a third-party review of any records, files, documents, and reports concerning suspected child abuse in the possession of the Archdiocese of Atlanta and the Diocese of Savannah.” By Prosecuting Attorneys’ Council of Georgia


Evergreen Park priest reinstated after child sexual abuse accusation
“An Evergreen Park priest was reinstated Tuesday (Mar.21), two weeks after the archdiocese launched an investigation into a child sexual abuse accusation from about 40 years ago. The Rev. Paul Guzman returns to his position as associate pastor at Most Holy Redeemer Parish. Guzman was reinstated after a review board found that there was ‘insufficient reason to believe he was guilty of the allegation,’ according to a letter from Cardinal Blase Cupich.” By Mohammad Samra, Chicago Sun-Times


Report: Ex-Slidell Catholic priest’s juvenile molestation trial delayed again
“The trial of a former Slidell Catholic priest accused of sexually abusing a 15-year-old boy has been delayed again. As The Times-Picayune reports, the trial date was delayed Monday (Mar. 20) as jury selection for Patrick Wattigny was supposed to begin. The north shore District Attorney’s Office said the trial will be rescheduled at a later date but did not say when that rescheduled date might be.” By Kenny Kuhn, WWL-TV4 News


How Baltimore lawyers helped the Catholic church manage sexual abuse claims
“In 1987, a lawyer for the Archdiocese of Baltimore contacted a prosecutor with a question: was the church obligated to report a priest who had recently been accused of attempting to rape a teenage girl a decade earlier? The answer was no, according to last week’s extensive report into sexual abuse and coverups in the archdiocese. But the priest could be charged with assault, battery or attempted rape, the assistant state’s attorney said.” By Madeleine O’Neill, Maryland Daily Record

Two women detail alleged abuse by Catholic priest in Batimore: ‘I was in total shock’
“For more than 50 years, Teresa Lancaster wanted the Catholic Church to believe her when she said she was sexually abused by Father Joseph Maskell at her high school in Baltimore. She said she was 16 when she went to see Maskell for help, and that within five minutes, he took her clothes off and set her on his lap. ‘I was in total shock,’ she said.” By Nikki Battiste, CBS News

Report detailing sex abuse within Catholic Church of Baltimore to be released Wednesday
“Maryland Attorney General Anthony Brown said he will release a redacted version of a long-awaited 456-page grand jury report that details decades of sexual abuse within the Archdiocese of Baltimore on Wednesday (Apr. 5) after privately meeting with survivors in the morning. Baltimore Circuit Judge Robert K. Taylor Jr. on Tuesday approved the release of the report ‘as the Office of the Attorney General shall see fit.’ The attorney general’s office will post the document on its website at 1 p.m., according to an email sent to survivors of clergy sexual abuse.” By Liz Bowie and Dylan Segelbaum, The Baltimore Banner


Former Flint-area priest faces April trial date in sex abuse case
“A former Catholic priest accused of sexually assaulting underage boys may stand trial just shy of four years after being charged with several counts of criminal sexual conduct. Vincent DeLorenzo, 84, is scheduled to face a jury at a trial before Genesee County Circuit Judge Brian S. Pickell on April 26, online court records show. DeLorenzo, a former Flint-area priest accused of sexually assaulting two boys in the mid-1990s, when the alleged victims were under 13 years old, appeared before Pickell on Monday, March 27, for a final pretrial hearing.” By Joey Oliver,


Diocese takes Eucharist to abuse survivors too traumatized to attend church
“An American archdiocese is bringing the Eucharist to survivors of clerical sex abuse who hunger for Communion but find church-going traumatic. ‘People really want the Eucharist. They want to be fed and healed by it,’ said Paula Kaempffer, outreach coordinator for restorative justice and abuse prevention for the Archdiocese of St Paul and Minneapolis.” By Bess Twiston Davies, The Tablet


Archbishop apologizes for priest abuse
“Archbishop John Wester wrote he was ‘ashamed’ by decades of sexual abuse committed by Roman Catholic priests in an open letter to those who’d filed complaints and lawsuits against the Archdiocese of Santa Fe. In a letter dated Thursday (Mar. 16) and read during Mass on Sunday, Wester professed his ‘profound regret and sorrow over the tragic and inexcusable harm done to you,’ referring to the hundreds of claimants in a scandal that rocked the archdiocese for many years” By Santa Fe New Mexican


Priest at St. Therese of Lisieux Church in Brooklyn removed from ministry
“The Diocese of Brooklyn has removed from priestly ministry Father Bony Monastere, the parochial vicar for St. Therese of Lisieux Church in East Flatbush, after a sexual abuse allegation involving an adult was substantiated, according to the diocese. Bishop Robert Brennan announced the decision via a letter that was read aloud to parishioners by Auxiliary Bishop Neil Tiedemann on Sunday, March 19.” By Paula Katinas, The Tablet

NY deacon gets 16 years for ‘enticing’ minors via Grindr
“A deacon of the Diocese of Brooklyn, New York, has been sentenced to 16 years in prison after he admitted to prosecutors that he engaged in sexual acts with minors he met on the hookup app Grindr. Rogelio Vega, 52, was sentenced March 15, two years after he was arrested in an NYPD sting operation using Grindr. Vega, who previously served in the Brooklyn diocese’s parish of St. Sebastian, Woodside, pled guilty last September to three counts of ‘enticing a minor’ to engage in sexual acts with him” By The Pillar

Former Buffalo Diocese chancery official put on leave a second time following additional abuse claim
“Bishop Michael W. Fisher has put a Cheektowaga pastor on administrative leave for a second time after an additional claim of child sexual abuse was made against the priest. The diocese received a recent ‘proof of claim’ alleging abuse by Monsignor Peter J. Popadick, pastor of St. Aloysius Gonzaga Parish, according to diocese spokesman Joseph Martone. Popadick was removed from ministry in 2019 due to a previous allegation in a Child Victims Act lawsuit and reinstated four months later after a diocese investigation and a review board examination of the claim.” By Jay Tokasz, The Buffalo News


Three women sue Parmadale, Catholic Diocese over sexual abuse allegations spanning decades
“Three women filed lawsuits Tuesday (Mar. 21) that allege they were sexually and physically abused at a now-shuttered children’s group home that had been run by the Catholic Diocese of Cleveland. One of the women who was at the Parmadale Children’s Village in the 1970s said in her lawsuit that the priest at the time, whom the document referred to as ‘Father Leahy,’ sexually abused her at his cottage on the property while men he invited there watched.” By Cory Shaffer,


A BuzzFeed writer exposed abuse at a Vermont orphanage. Her new book reveals even more.
“Journalist Christine Kenneally sparked worldwide headlines in 2018 when her BuzzFeed exposé about a history of abuse at Burlington’s now-closed St. Joseph’s Orphanage, ‘We Saw Nuns Kill Children,’ spurred local and state authorities to launch a review that confirmed misconduct, if not the story’s 75-year-old claims of murder. ‘Allegations were never investigated when they should have been,’ former Vermont Attorney General TJ Donovan said after the probe ended in 2020 with an apology but no criminal charges. ‘It is my hope that through a restorative process, we can bring peace, we can bring justice, we can bring reconciliation for so many of these survivors who still struggle today.’” By Kevin O’Connor, VTDigger

Clergy reporting bill fails to make key legislative deadline over constitutional concerns
“A bill that would end clergy exemptions for reporting child abuse and neglect appears dead as it failed to meet a key legislative deadline for passing out of a committee Friday (Mar. 17). The bill, S.16, had been assigned to the Senate Judiciary Committee, which held hearings on the matter, including one that featured Vermont Catholic Bishop Christopher Coyne, who testified in opposition to the legislation. Sen. Dick Sears, D-Bennington, the committee’s chair, said Thursday that due to ‘constitutional concerns’ the bill was being shelved, at least for now, and therefore will not move out of committee.” By Alan J. Keays VT Digger


Concerns raised over Washington state mandatory reporting bill that lacks confession exception
“A bill that would require clergy to report child abuse or neglect in Washington state is under consideration by the Legislature, but some have expressed concern that this bill could force Catholic priests to violate the civil law in order to uphold church law regarding the seal of confession. SB 5280, sponsored by state Sen. Noel Frame, D-Seattle, would make members of the clergy mandatory reporters, people required by law to report suspected or known instances of child abuse or neglect.” By Kate Scanlon, OSV News

Former Tacoma Catholic nun and priest added to clergy abuse accusation list
“A former Tacoma Catholic nun and a priest were added to an official list of clergy and others accused of abuse, the Archdiocese of Seattle announced Friday (Mar.31). Sister Jerry Lyness and Father Thomas Phelan were added to the official list of ‘Clergy and Religious Brothers and Sisters for Whom Allegations of Sexual Abuse of a Minor Have Been Admitted, Established or Determined to be Credible.’ Lyness was a teacher at St. Patrick Catholic School from 1976 to 1994 and she served as co-principal there from 1991 to 1994. Phelan served as pastor at St. Ann Parish from 1973 to 1983. Both are dead.” By Craig Sailor,


A retired priest pushed to require clergy to report sex=-abuse confessions; now he’s banned from hearing confessions
“Milwaukee Archbishop Jerome Listecki has stripped a retired priest of his permission to hear confessions after the priest advocated publicly for requiring clergy to report abuse revealed in confidential settings. The Rev. James Connell said he got word Wednesday that Listecki had ordered him to stop speaking publicly about repealing what’s known as clergy-penitent privilege. Listecki also removed Connell’s ‘faculty’ to hear confessions and offer absolution.” By Sophie Carson, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

DOJ investigation leads to discovery of additional credibly accused priest in La Crosse Diocese
“A new name has been added to the list of credibly accused priests within the La Crosse Diocese as a result of the Attorney General’s inquiry into abuse perpetrated by clergy and other faith leaders across the state. John J. Cullinan, who served at St. Paul’s Church in Mosinee and St. Mary’s Church in Wausau, was added to the list on Dec. 20, over two years after the diocese first published their list, the attorney general’s office confirmed this week.” By Laura Schulte, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel


Win for victim-survivors as Vic Court of Appeal finds Catholic Church liable for sexual abuse be priests
“A decision by Victoria’s highest court to uphold a landmark ruling that holds the Catholic church vicariously liable for the abuse by its priests has been hailed as a win for victim-survivors. An attempt by the church to appeal the ruling was quashed by the Victorian Court of Appeal on Monday (Apr. 3). The original decision involved the case of a then-five-year-old boy, known as DP, who was abused by Catholic priest Bryan Coffey at his parents’ home in Port Fairy in 1971. The church had argued Coffey was not a formal employee and therefore it could not be held liable.” By Kyra Gillespie, ABC South West Vic

Marist Brothers Catholic Order’s use of pedophile’s death as shield from abuse claims sparks outrage in Australia
“A pedophile’s death allegedly has been used as a shield from abuse accusations in the Catholic Order in Australia. The Marist Brothers, a Catholic order, will argue in court that they should not be held liable for abuse claims related to Brother Francis ‘Romuald’ Cable because he is dead, despite allegations that the order concealed his crimes for years. Even though Cable had been accused of abusing children as early as 1967, the Marist Brothers took no action to expel him from the order or alert the police.” By A.J. Paz, Christianity Daily


Vancouver archdiocese and private school deny wrongdoing, sue alleged abusers
“The Catholic Archdiocese of Vancouver and a private Catholic school have denied wrongdoing after claims of sexual abuse from former students and have filed their own lawsuits against the alleged abusers. The archdiocese and St. Thomas More Collegiate in Burnaby filed separate lawsuits last week against the men who belonged to a Catholic order and were transferred to B.C. from Mount Cashel, the Newfoundland orphanage notorious for the sexual abuse that took place there.” By The Canadian Press

Survivor calls on Archdiocese of St. John’s to release names of accused priests
“Gemma Hickey wants the Catholic church to start naming names. As a survivor of clergy abuse, and an advocate for other survivors, Hickey is tired of chasing down the church for information and pushing it to right historic wrongs. Now they want to see the church lay it all out there for the public to see. ‘Newfoundland and Labrador is ground zero when it comes to this type of abuse,’ said Hickey, who uses they/them pronouns. ‘When it erupted here in the ’80s, it erupted everywhere else. And so that’s why it’s really important, particularly here, to have lists that contain the names of credibly accused priests.’” By Ryan Cooke, CBC News

Former principal, teacher at Winnipeg’s St. Paul’s among Jesuit priests accused of sexually abusing minors
“Two former teachers at St. Paul’s High School in Winnipeg, one of whom also served as principal, are on a list of accused sexual abusers in the Jesuits of Canada. ‘I am incredibly saddened,’ St. Paul’s president Kevin Booth said in a statement posted Monday (Mar.20) on the school’s website, after it was revealed two former St. Paul’s educators — Father John Pungente and Father George Topp — were on the list of 27 priests and brothers released Monday by the Jesuits, a religious order of the Catholic Church.” By Darren Bernhardt, CBC News

10 out of 27 Jesuits ‘credibly accused’ of abusing minors worked at a residential school or a First Nation
“Over a third of the Jesuits who are ‘credibly accused’ of sexually abusing minors worked in First Nations or at the Spanish Indian Residential School in Spanish, Ont. The religious order released a list of names, along with the places they were assigned to work, on Monday (Mar. 20) as part of an attempt to be more transparent and accountable. Among the 27 priests and brothers named, 10 worked at the residential school in Spanish and/or in First Nations communities.” By Ka’nhehsi:io Deer, CBC News


French bishops outline new anti-abuse measures, warn of ‘social fractures’
“France’s Catholic bishops have announced new steps against sexual abuse – while also urging national dialogue to deter current nationwide protests over a proposal to raise state pension age and warning against new government moves to legalize euthanasia. ‘Our precise intention was to find ways of building a safer church, and this order has been honored with remarkable work by 100 working group members,’ the bishops’ conference explained in a March 31 statement at the close of its spring plenary at the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Lourdes.” By Jonathan Luxmoore, OSV News, in Detroit Catholic


German prosecutors not pressing charges in Catholic Church abuse scandal
“The Munich I public prosecutor’s office said on Tuesday (Mar. 21) that it has closed its investigations based on the abuse report on the German archdioceses of Munich and Freising. In each case, the investigations had not yielded sufficient suspicion of criminal conduct on the part of the personnel managers, the public prosecutor’s office announced at a news conference in Munich. According to the public prosecutor’s office, among those accused at times was also the late ex-Pope Benedict XVI, who was archbishop in Munich from 1977 to 1982.” By Anadolu Agency,


‘Church knew about abusive priest years ago. I thold them’: Victim says inaction put other women at risk
“A victim of a former priest convicted of sexually abusing a young woman as he drove her to rape counselling has criticized the Catholic Church for allowing his offending to continue after she raised the alarm. Father Joseph Dunne, 81, who was sacked as a priest in Scotland, indecently assaulted the woman on a number of occasions after befriending her in hospital in Ireland, where he now lives. Now a Scottish woman who says she was assaulted when Dunne was a priest at St Paul’s church, Whiteinch, Glasgow, in the 1980s has spoken of her anger …” By Janet Boyle and Marion Scott, The Sunday Post


Archdiocese to list names of abusive priests, allow survivors to tell their stories
“The Archdiocese of Agana has committed to publishing on its website the names of priests and other clergies who were identified as child sexual abusers, and to allow survivors of clergy sexual assaults to tell their stories if they so desire. These are among the archdiocese’s nonmonetary commitments as part of its court-approved bankruptcy exit plan, which also includes multimillion settlement payouts to more than 270 clergy abuse claimants.” By Haidee Eugenio Gilbert, Pacific Daily News

Chancery, FIP properties sold for $$5.8M to help pay clergy sex abuse claims; court approves sale
“Ownership of the Archdiocese of Agana’s two major real estate properties that include the chancery will soon officially change hands after a federal judge on Monday (Mar.20) approved the total $5.8 million sale, proceeds of which would help settle clergy sex abuse claims and pay other costs in the Catholic church’s bankruptcy case.” No one objected to the archdiocese’s $2.3 million sale of its chancery property in Agana Heights to ‘Phoenix Foundation or nominee’ by the court’s March 16 deadline.” By Haidee Eugenio Gilbert, Pacific Daily News


Catholic priest booked for sexual harassment in Kanyakumari district

The Kanyakumari district cyber police have registered a case against a Catholic priest after a nursing college student levelled sexual harassment allegations against the priest. For more than a week, obscene videos and pictures involving the priest went viral on social media. The videos and photos were stolen from his laptop by some people and uploaded online. Under these circumstances, a first-year nursing student has filed a complaint with the superintendent of police stating that Fr Benedict Anto posted at the Our Lady of Assumption Malankara Church at Pilankalai was harassing her online.” By Times of India


Clergy sex abuse victims feel ‘vindicated’ after Vatican talks
“Survivors of Roman Catholic clergy sex abuse from Britain and Ireland said on Thursday (Mar. 24) they finally felt vindicated after ‘transformative’ meetings with Pope Francis and leaders of the Comboni Missionary order. The survivors were abused as teenagers in the 1960s and 1970s, while studying to be missionary priests at a Comboni seminary in Yorkshire, northern England.” By Alvise Armellini, Reuters


Catholic prevention organization: Mexico ranks first in human trafficking and child abuse
“Sister Karina de la Rosa Morales, a nun with the Xavierian Missionary Sisters of Mary and a member of the Rahamim network that is fighting against human trafficking, lamented that Mexico holds ‘first place in human trafficking, child abuse, organ selling, sex tourism, child abduction, and child pornography.’ ACI Prensa spoke with several of the nuns and a laywoman who belong to the Rahamim prevention network.” By Ana Paula Morales, Catholic News Agency, in The Catholic World Report


Catholic Church abuse survivors group says Pope ignored their letter

“A support group for survivors of abuse within the Catholic Church has sent an open letter to the pope claiming a coverup, secrecy and denial of abuse by the church in this country. The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, SNAP, said the church’s redress process was secretive and denied a survivor’s right to natural justice. SNAP said it wrote to Pope Francis in September last year, but never got a reply. ‘We informed you of ongoing coverup and denial of credible complaints of clerical abuse and child sexual assault through a secretive A Path to Healing – Te Houhanga Rongo redress process. ‘We are disappointed to not have had the courtesy of a reply or acknowledgement of our letter.’” By Radio New Zealand


A case of clerical child rape, 1
“The many incidents of child sexual abuse by clerics has shamed thousands of good bishops and priests who have been justly angered by the rampant and tolerated child sexual abuse of their fellow pedophile priests and some bishops. They feel helpless when their bishop protects the pedophile priests and calls him ‘his son.’ They hunger for justice for the victims and wish to exonerate their own vocation and blemished priesthood.” By Fr. Shay Cullen, Panay News


Vatican hands over files of priest accused of abuse to Polish court for first time
“The Vatican has for the first time handed over to a Polish court the case file of a former priest on trial for child sex abuse. The move came after the local Polish archbishop informed the judge that he was unable to make the documents available himself. The transfer of the material took place in the autumn of last year, when the Vatican handed the 200 pages of documents over to the Polish embassy. But it was only reported yesterday for the first time by the Gazeta Wyborcza daily because the trial of the former priest is being conducted behind closed doors.” By Notes from Poland


Bishop of Porto suspends three priests for suspected sexual abuse of children
“The Bishop of Porto, Portugal’s second-largest city, has temporarily suspended three priests suspected of pedophilia, the Diocese of Porto announced Thursday (Mar. 16). In a brief statement, the church said the priests were all named in a recently finalized investigation of sexual abuse in Portugal’s Catholic Church. Last Friday, the Diocese of Porto said the investigators sent them a list of 12 Porto clergy who were all suspected abusers. Of the 12, four had died and one had left the district, according to a statement. The diocese said it would investigate the seven remaining priests further.” By Alyssa McMurtry,

Portuguese Catholic Church highlights problems in abuse commission’s report
“Portugal’s Catholic Church has reiterated new safeguarding commitments in line with an independent commission on sexual abuse by clergy, although most of its dioceses also reported inconsistencies in the commission’s findings. ‘We renew our gratitude for the work carried out, which has made it possible to cross reference information between victim testimonies and data from our archives,’ the Portuguese bishops’ permanent council said March 14.” By Johathan Luxmoore, National Catholic Reporter


Spain’s ombudsman registers 445 church sex abuse complaints
“Spain’s ombudsman said Monday (Mar. 20) that an independent commission set up a year ago to investigate historic sex abuse by the Catholic church has collected testimonies from 445 victims, as the nation tackles an issue other European countries acted on long ago. Spain’s parliament voted on March 10, 2022 to open the first official investigation, led by ombudsman Ángel Gabilondo, into the extent of sexual abuse committed by priests and church officials. The government was forced to act after allegations of abuse involving more than 1,200 victims were published in Spanish newspaper El País, provoking public outrage.” By Associated Press


Number of child sexual abuse cases increases by 33 percent in 2022 in Turkey
“Turkey has experienced a spike in cases of child sexual abuse in 2022, the Justice Ministry’s statistics revealed. According to the 2022 Justice Statistics, the number of child sexual abuse cases filed in Turkey has increased by 33 percent in 2022 compared to 2021. Children’s rights advocates have been calling for better sex abuse prevention for years. Experts say prevention involves increasing gender equality, educating children on their bodies and sexuality in age-appropriate ways, teaching about sexual abuse through awareness campaigns and training public officials. But under the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), talking about sexual issues is still considered taboo.” By

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North American synod gathering focused on concerns about pope’s process, says participating bishop / National Catholic Reporter

‘Asia, Europe and Africa with their vast geographies and cultural diversity were able to conduct continental assemblies. Even the Middle East created such an assembly,’ he (Bishop John Stowe) said. ‘North America did not, citing economic and practical difficulties in coming together.’

By Heidi Schlumpf, National Catholic Reporter

“A U.S. bishop who helped draft the synthesis document for the North American continental phase of the ongoing process for the Synod of Bishops said he saw ‘notable differences’ in this phase’s virtual listening sessions, compared to input from the previous parish- and diocesan-level phase.

“‘Concerns about the direction of the synod were more pronounced,’ said Bishop John Stowe of Lexington, Kentucky, noting that among the concerns of those delegates, who were handpicked by bishops, were restrictions against the pre-Vatican II Latin Mass, possible changes to Catholic doctrine, the focus on inclusivity and the synod process itself.

“Stowe made his remarks in an April 11 talk on ‘Synodality and the Common Good’ as part of the Cardinal Bernardin Common Cause lecture series at the Hank Center for the Catholic Intellectual Heritage at Loyola University Chicago.

“Stowe said he was sure the late Cardinal Bernardin of Chicago ‘would have enthusiastically engaged the synodal process with all of the hope it offers for a church that is faithful and engaged as a servant of the human family.'”

By Heidi Schlumpf, National Catholic Reporter — Read more …

See also “Synod’s ‘messy,’ ‘joyful’ North American phase concludes with call to mission, moves to Rome,” by Gina Christian, OSV News, in National Catholic Reporter

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Bishops, theologians talk frankly about synodality at Boston College conference / National Catholic Reporter

‘It’s not enough simply to maintain and adapt what has existed until now; it is necessary to creat something new,’ Rafael Luciani

National Catholic Reporter

“For the second consecutive year, dozens of theologians and bishops from across the United States gathered together to discuss how the Catholic Church can better live out the synodal path that Pope Francis has said is what ‘God expects of the church of the third millennium.’ The conference, ‘The Way Forward: Pope Francis, Vatican II, and Synodality,’ was held March 3-4 at Boston College.

“Several bishops over the event’s two days were forthright in describing their thoughts and experiences during the local consultative process of the 2021-23 Synod of Bishops on synodality, noting challenges during the process and some resistance to the synod. (The bishops spoke in conversations that were under the ‘Chatham House Rule,’ meaning that journalists covering the event were free to report on the discussions but not identify who made any particular comment. The rule is intended to encourage open and frank discussion.)

“One bishop said he felt a tension between listening to people’s unvarnished thoughts about the church and his understanding of his role to be a ‘conservator’ or defender of Catholic doctrine.

“Another bishop commented that better catechesis must be a part of the synodal process moving forward because most participants in his diocese saw the Catholic Church more as an institution than a spiritual communion.”

By Brian Fraga, National Catholic Reporter — Read more …

Read also, “Boston College conference didn’t just discuss synodality. Bishops and theologians modeled it,” by Michael Sean Winters, National Catholic Reporter

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Partners in mission: Dicastery promotes ‘co-responsibility’ of clergy, laity / National Catholic Reporter

‘The laypeople are not there at our service,’ (Quebec Cardinal Gerald) Lacroix said. ‘We are together at the service of the mission of the church.’

By Cindy Wooden, Catholic News Service, in National Catholic Reporter

For too many Catholics, ordained or lay, the responsibilities of the laity are those “delegated” by the priest or bishop.

“As the continental assemblies for the Synod of Bishops make clear that hot-button issues — like sexuality, climate change and the role of women in the church — are not going away, the Dicastery for Laity, the Family and Life is pointing at a more fundamental issue at stake in learning to be a “synodal church”: What responsibility comes from baptism and unites all Catholics?

“And, related to the synod’s goal of promoting a church where people listen to one another and work together to share the Gospel and care for the poor, the dicastery is asking: How do clergy and laity walk and work side by side?

“The dicastery is exploring those questions Feb. 16-18 at a conference titled, ‘Pastors and lay faithful called to walk together.’ The meeting, in the Vatican Synod Hall, has an enrollment of 210 participants from 74 countries: 107 laypeople, 36 priests and 67 bishops.”

By Cindy Wooden, Catholic News Service, in National Catholic Reporter — Read more …

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Is there room in the tent? / L’Osservatore Romano

People around the world have asked the Church to outgrow clericalism and recognize the managerial and ministerial abilities of women. There is progress in adding women to management. The extended Synod process should not delay the restoration of women to the ordained diaconal ministry.

Phyllis Zagano, Ph.D., L’Osservatore Romano

“As the Church prepares for the next phase of the Synod on Synodality, one of the most pressing issues is the relationship between women and the Church, combined with the problem of clericalism. The Working Document clearly states that “almost all reports raise the issue of full and equal participation of women.” (No. 64.)

“Many national reports asked to restore women to the ordained diaconate, yet the Synod’s Working Document for the Continental Stage refers to “a female diaconate.” Does this indicate ongoing discernment about the ability of women to receive sacramental ordination as deacons, despite the historical evidence of ordained women deacons? While women are increasingly included as professional managers within Church structures, notably within the Roman Curia, deep resistance to accepting historical precedence of women’s ordained ministry remains.

“Can the Church overcome clericalism and the denial of history?”

By Phyllis Zagano, Ph.D., L’Osservatore Romano — Read more …

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Voice of the Faithful Focus News Roundup, Oct. 7, 2022

Oct. 7, 2022


Time for more transparency in Vatican handling of sex abuse
“A Nobel Peace Prize-winning bishop alleged to have abused teenaged boys during the 1990s was sanctioned by the Vatican, which limited his movements and prohibited him from contact with minors or with his home country of East Timor. Meanwhile in Yakima, Washington, after a whistleblower raised concerns about the previous bishop’s handling of sexual abuse allegations, the now-retired bishop received a formal reprimand from the Vatican. Though the details of these two cases differ, what they share in common is that the consequences to the church leader under investigation — and even the fact of the investigation itself — were kept secret. That is, until news media shared the truth.” By National Catholic Reporter Editorial Staff

Is net finally closing on U.S. priest who allegedly abused ‘countless’ children?
“In arguably the clearest sign yet that he is under active criminal investigation, a retired Catholic priest from New Orleans who has been publicly accused of molesting ‘countless’ children but never charged has acknowledged that the FBI recently questioned him. Lawrence Hecker, 91, declined to elaborate on exactly when FBI agents met with him or what they asked him as they reportedly lead an investigation into whether clerics serving a Louisiana region that is home to nearly half a million Catholics took children across state lines to abuse them. But, in a brief conversation with the Guardian, Hecker admitted that FBI agents had spoken with him.” By Ramon Antonio Vargas, The Guardian

U.S. Catholic bishops’ report to the Vatican shows a church split by politics
“Catholics in the United States are deeply divided over issues as disparate as LGBTQ inclusion, clerical sexual abuse and celebrating the liturgy, according to a summary of consultations carried out in dioceses across the country in recent months as part of Pope Francis’ Synod on Synodality. ‘Participants felt this division as a profound sense of pain and anxiety,’ the U.S. bishops wrote in a summary released Monday (Sept. 19) to the public after being sent to the Vatican last month.” By Claire Giangravé, Religion News Service

Australian archbishop investigating retired bishop on abuse allegations
“Australian Archbishop Mark Coleridge will conduct an investigation into retired Bishop Christopher Saunders of Broome, using a process established by Pope Francis in 2019. Young Aboriginal men from towns and bush communities in the remote Kimberley region of Western Australia accused Saunders of sexual misconduct. The bishop has denied the allegations. Local media reported the inquiry in February, but it was not confirmed until late September. Brisbane’s Coleridge is president of the Australian Catholic Bishops’ Conference.” By Michael Sainsbury, Catholic News Service, in National Catholic Reporter

Churches defend clergy loophole in child sex abuse reporting
“It was a frigid Sunday evening at the Catholic Newman Center in Salt Lake City when the priest warned parishioners who had gathered after Mass that their right to private confessions was in jeopardy … In the following days of February 2020, Utah’s Catholic diocese, which oversees dozens of churches, says it collected some 9,000 signed letters from parishioners and sent them to state Rep. Angela Romero, a Democrat who had been working on the bill as part of her campaign against child sexual abuse. HB90 targeted Utah’s ‘clergy-penitent privilege,’ a law similar to those in many states that exempts clergy of all denominations from the requirement to report child abuse if they learn about the crime in a confessional setting.” By Jason Dearen and Michael Rezendes, Associated Press


Vatican’s quiet reprimand of U.S. bishop raises concerns about Pope’s clergy abuse law
“Earlier this year, the retired bishop of the Diocese of Yakima, Washington, received a formal reprimand from the Vatican for how he handled clergy abuse allegations — and possibly for how he treated a whistleblower. Victim advocates have praised the Vatican’s actions on that case as a rare rebuke of a bishop. Yet the dearth of information about both the investigation and subsequent reprimand appears to reinforce advocates’ concerns about one of Pope Francis’ landmark achievements on clergy abuse. Last week’s report that retired East Timor Bishop Carlos Filipe Ximenes Belo was secretly sanctioned for alleged abuse has raised similar critiques. Vos Estis Lux Mundi (“You Are the Light of the World”), issued by Francis in 2019, is a sweeping set of laws that includes a system to evaluate reports of abuse or cover-up by bishops. Bishop Carlos Sevilla, who led the central Washington diocese from 1996 until retiring in 2011, was investigated under the system put in place by Vos Estis, according to reporting by the Yakima Herald-Republic.” By Ketie Collins Scott, National Catholic Reporter


Pope meets group that prepared text for next phase of synod
“Pope Francis personally expressed his thanks to the four-dozen people who read through hundreds of reports about the listening phase of the Synod of Bishops and, after 12 days of prayer, reflection and discussion, drafted a working document for the continental stage of the synod process. The pope welcomed the cardinals, bishops, priests, religious and lay participants to the Vatican Oct. 2, the last day of their work. At the heart of the work were the 112 syntheses submitted by national bishops’ conferences from around the world, as well as syntheses from the Eastern Catholic churches, religious orders, church organizations and movements, offices of the Roman Curia and individuals.” By Catholic News Service in National Catholic Reporter

Synod on Synodality had its doubters, but it’s proving to be balm for ‘enduring wounds’
“In preparation for the Synod on Synodality, which will bring the world’s bishops to Rome a year from now, Pope Francis called for Catholics to meet in their parishes and dioceses to listen to one another and discern a path forward for the church. Many of the laity in the United States were excited by the opportunity … Despite these reservations, the U.S. bishops reported to the Vatican, ‘many were surprised by a level of engagement and richness that surpassed their expectations. It was frequently noted how much agreement participants found when they listened to each other.’” By Thomas Reese, Religion News Service

Head of Vatican Synod office: ‘Let us trust in our people’
“The head of the Vatican’s synod office says that when it comes to hot-button issues such as the reception of Communion for divorced and remarried Catholics and the blessing of same-sex couples, discussion cannot be limited to doctrinal concerns, but must also include pastoral considerations. ‘These issues are not to be understood simply in terms of doctrine, but in terms of God’s ongoing encounter with human beings,’ said Maltese Cardinal Mario Grech, secretary-general of the Synod of Bishops.” By Christopher White, National Catholic Reporter

National synod report raises question: ‘Now what?’
“The U.S. bishops’ conference issued its ‘National Synthesis of the People of God in the United States of America for the Diocesan Phase of the 2021-2023 Synod.’ The document is exceedingly well done, bringing together into one, concise and readable document the results of 22,000 reports from 30,000 listening sessions, in which the conference estimates some 700,000 people participated. Those numbers are staggering, a rebuke to the naysayers who viewed this process with suspicion … So, kudos to everyone who participated in this enormous undertaking and to the staff at the bishops’ conference who brought it all together. Now what?” By Michael Sean Winters, National Catholic Reporter

Vatican’s synod chief tells U.S. Church leaders to ‘listen to others’
“Cardinal Mario Grech encouraged more than 200 U.S. Catholic leaders to continue the process of listening called for by the Synod on Synodality, even as it moves out of the local phase, and to consider the contributions of all people of goodwill, in a recent presentation. “When we say that we are listening to the others, we are also saying that we are listening to the Holy Spirit, and for me, this is something sacred and it was about time that we came around to recognize this wealth, this richness in the church,” said Grech, secretary general of the Synod of Bishops.” By John Lavenburg,


Pope names new members to commission for protection of minors
“Pope Francis reconfirmed the leadership of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors and expanded its membership from 17 to 20 people, naming 10 new members and reappointing 10 returning members. U.S. Cardinal Seán P. O’Malley of Boston, president of the commission, said, ‘Coming from all over the world with varied backgrounds and a common passion for the well-being of children and vulnerable people, the members announced today (Sept. 30) include advocates and practitioners of prevention and protection to the many areas in which the church ministers to children.’” By Carol Glatz, Catholic News Service, in National Catholic Reporter


Canadian bishops say they’ll follow pope’s example with Indigenous
“Canada’s bishops wound up their first in-person meetings in three years with discussion of concrete steps toward reconciliation with Indigenous Canadians. At the end of four days of plenary meetings of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops in Cornwall, Ontario, Edmonton Archbishop Richard Smith told a news conference that the bishops are following the example of Pope Francis and the priority he placed on meeting with Indigenous people.” By Michael Swan, Catholic News Service, in National Catholic Reporter

Leading German bishop to stay in post despite damning report
“A leading German bishop said on Thursday (Sept. 22) that he will remain in office despite a damning report on the handling of abuse cases in his diocese. Bishop Franz-Josef Bode told journalists at a press conference on Sept. 22 that he had discussed whether to resign as bishop of Osnabrück, northwestern Germany, with the safeguarding expert Fr. Hans Zollner, S.J. Zollner is a member of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors and the founding president of Rome’s Centre for Child Protection.” By Luke Coppen, The Pillar


New Zealand Catholic women display ‘pink shoes’ to call for equality in the church
“Hundreds of Catholic women in New Zealand contributed to a provocative public art protest on Sept. 18 calling for equality of women in the church. The event took place in Auckland, the nation’s largest city, and Wellington, its capital. Called ‘Pink Shoes into the Vatican,’ the event consisted of an installation of hundreds of pairs of shoes donated by women around the country that were lined up on the streets leading up to both cities’ cathedrals. Tied to each pair of shoes was a label from its owner describing their contribution to or aspirations for the church.” By Peter Kirkwood, National Catholic Reporter


Will laity by granted voice at next October’s synod
“I was pleasantly surprised that the U.S. bishops’ national synthesis for the Synod on Synodality explicitly named ‘hot button’ issues such as women’s ordination, LGBTQ+ inclusion and the need for freedom to speak up on controversial issues without fear of being silenced. Synthesis writers are to be congratulated for compiling a comprehensive, transparent document featuring input from ‘over 22,000 reports from individual parishes and groups.’ Many other important ecclesial issues are also named that I shall not address here, but the text is well worth the read.” By Christine Schenk, National Catholic Reporter


First graduate of Child Safety Certificate Program serves diocese
“When she began facilitating safe environment training in the Diocese of Palm Beach in 2005, Donna Eurich did not know that child protection would become her vocation and full-time work in the future. She was a middle school religion teacher at the time. Now she is the director of child and youth protection and the victim assistance coordinator for the Diocese of Tulsa and Eastern Oklahoma, and the first graduate of the online Certificate in Child Protection and Safe Environments offered by the National Catholic School of Social Service at The Catholic University of America.” By The Catholic University of America


Former Holy Cross Catholic Church official arrested in embezzlement case in Vero Beach
“A former parish administrator at Holy Cross Catholic Church was arrested Monday (Sept. 19) after police accused her of using nearly $550,000 of church donations over several years to pay off her personal lines of credit, according to records obtained Tuesday (Sept.20). Deborah Lynn True, 69, who has a listed address in Frederick, Colorado, was arrested on a charge of organized fraud over $50,000 after a Vero Beach police investigation that began in December 2021.” By Will Greenlee,


Theologian Gaillardetz warns against over-critique of church in ‘last lecture’
“Theologians from across the U.S. gathered here (Boston College) Sept. 23-24 for a conference celebrating the legacy of Richard Gaillardetz, one of the country’s foremost experts on the exercise of authority in the Catholic Church, who is receiving treatment for pancreatic cancer … In an hourlong discourse that was at turns autobiographical, theological and deeply personal, the theologian encouraged his colleagues to continue the work of ‘meaningful and lasting ecclesial reform’ and to seek out a middle path between over-critiquing the Catholic Church as an institution and being over-trustful of its leaders, especially after the clergy sexual abuse scandals.” By Joshua J. McElwee, National Catholic Reporter

The Catholic Church is increasingly diverse – and so are its controversies
“There is a lot of talk about ‘synodality’ in the Catholic church these days. Synodality refers to a process in which bishops and priests consult with lay Catholics about issues in the church. In 2021, Pope Francis called for the ‘Synod on Synodality,’ a worldwide discussion of issues that impact the church, which will culminate with a bishops’ meeting in Rome. A final report is scheduled for October 2023. The Catholic Church in Germany has also moved forward with a national ‘synodal path’ to restore trust after its own sexual abuse scandal.” By Matthew Schmalz, Religion News Service


Curran Center Award winner explores healing power of voice
“There is healing power in using your voice. That was one of the lessons of ‘A Theology of Voice: VOCAL and the Catholic Clergy Abuse Survivor Movement,’ an article by Brian Clites, Ph.D., chosen by Fordham’s Curran Center for American Catholic Studies in May as the winner of its third annual New Scholars essay contest … Clites said that when he first began working on the paper, which is part of a larger book project, in 2011, he was struck by how little academic research had been devoted to the sexual abuse crisis, and how often the concept of the voice was referenced in contemporary Catholic survivor groups, such as ‘Voice of the Faithful’ and ‘Speak Truth to Power.’” By Patrick Verel, Fordham News

Bishop Hart accuser discusses abuse with clergy at Wyoming film screenings
“A priest stood up and asked Ed Gavagan how he found hope after all that he’s endured. As a room full of Catholic clergy looked on, Ed told the priest that he had none. None at all. Gavagan had been shaken when he walked into the community room attached to Sheridan’s Holy Name Catholic Church on Monday (Sept. 19). The seats were filled by 50-some priests, plus a half-dozen nuns, all gathered to watch a documentary that follows Gavagan and five other men as they work to heal from the trauma they say they suffered at the hands of priests decades ago.” By Casper Star Tribune


Four more former California all-boys Catholic school students allege priest sexually assaulted them
“Father Kevin Fitzpatrick’s first 25 years in the service of the Order of Servants of Mary were commemorated by a page dedicated to the popular priest in Servite High School’s 1980 yearbook. The page features a photo of Fitzpatrick, the school’s swimming and water polo coach, poolside. There’s a picture of Fitzpatrick, known to the Servite community as simply Father Fitz, sticking out his tongue at the photographer and another of him grabbing a Servite student by the front of the boy’s shirt in mock anger.” By Scott Reid, By The Mercury News

Catholic priest who served in Atlanta faces rape, abuse warrants for three different victims
“A catholic priest who once served in Atlanta is now accused of rape, with warrants out for his arrest in California.The Atlanta Archdiocese confirmed the allegations Monday (Sept. 26). According to the Diocese of Sacramento, where the charges stem from, he left California in 2005 and served in the Atlanta area until leaving for his home diocese in Colombia in 2008. According to the Sacramento Diocese, 70-year-old Father Roberto Jaramillo faces criminal warrants for three instances of alleged sexual abuse going back more than two decades – the alleged ‘repeated’ rape and abuse of a girl between 1996 and 1999, kissing a juvenile boy in 1999 and sexually abusing an adult male in 2001.” By Kaitlyn Ross, 11Alive-TV News

Former Sacramento priest accused of child sex abuse. Here’s when and where he served.
“A priest who formerly was with the Catholic Diocese of Sacramento has been added to the list of clergy accused of child sex abuse, and authorities are searching for him. Roberto Jaramillo, who served at multiple churches in the Sacramento region for 10 years, is accused of rape and other sexual assault involving a girl under the age of 14 between 1996 and 1999. The Sacramento Police Department confirmed on Saturday that a felony warrant had been issued.” By Mathew Miranda, The Sacramento Bee


Archdiocese of Chicago asks three retired priests to remain out of ministry pending investigation of nearly 50-year-old allegations of sexual abuse of minors
“ The Archdiocese of Chicago today announced that it has asked three retired priests to remain out of ministry while its Independent Review Board investigates allegations of sexual abuse of minors against them. The priests are: Father John J. Rudnik, 87, Father James E. Flynn, 80 and Father John W. Clemens, 75. Each has one allegation against him, all dating from nearly a half century ago and all are cooperating fully with the process. The persons making the allegations have been offered the services of the Archdiocese Victim Assistance Ministry and civil authorities have been notified. In addition, parishioners in the parishes where these priests served have been notified.” News Release by Archdiocese of Chicago


Garrett Park priest placed on leave pending sexual abuse allegations
“A priest at Holy Cross Catholic Church in Garrett Park has been placed on administrative leave following allegations of sexually abusing minors in another diocese decades ago. The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Washington notified parishioners last Friday (Sept. 30). According to church officials, the sexual abuse allegations against Reverend Robert Buchmeier were first reported to the Catholic Diocese of Arlington on Sept. 30. After reviewing the preliminary information, the Diocese of Arlington notified Alexandria City Police and the Archdiocese of Washington — where Buchmeier is incardinated.” By


Judge to reexamine her decision on release of Eagle reporter’s notes in Springfield clergy abuse case
“A Hampden County Superior Court judge is poised to decide whether a reporter for The Berkshire Eagle must provide information the newspaper says would violate a promise of confidentiality to an anonymous source. That information is needed to allow the Roman Catholic Diocese of Springfield, its lawyer says, to defend itself against a civil lawsuit filed by a man who says he was raped by clergy, including former Bishop Christopher J. Weldon.” By Heather Bellow, the Berkshire Eagle


Retired priest removed from ministry as abuse allegation is investigated
“A retired priest of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis, Father Michael Ince, has been placed on a leave of absence from priestly ministry while an allegation of abusing a minor in the 1980s is investigated. ‘In accordance with archdiocesan policies, the archdiocesan Office of Ministerial Standards and Safe Environment promptly reported this to law enforcement, who advised that they are investigating the allegation,’ Archbishop Bernard Hebda said in a statement Sept. 26. Once law enforcement completes its investigation the archdiocese will follow its processes to determine next steps.” By Joe Ruff, The Catholic Spirit


‘Slap in the face.’ Sex abuse victims outraged over priest’s return to Kansas City.
“A former Kansas City priest and retired Wyoming bishop whose numerous sexual abuse allegations were dismissed by the Vatican but deemed credible by two current U.S. bishops is moving back to the metro area. Joseph Hart, who left Kansas City more than four decades ago to become Bishop of Cheyenne, will be residing in a senior living facility, The Star has learned. Hart, who turned 91 last month, has a brother — also a priest — who lives in Kansas City. One of Hart’s victims told The Star that he was contacted last week by Bishop James V. Johnston Jr., head of the Catholic Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph, to let him know Hart would be returning.” By Judy L. Thomas, The Kansas City Star


Priest convicted of sex abuse claimed ex-police detective McLaughlin erased tapes
“Gordon MacRae, the Catholic priest now serving a state prison sentence after he pleaded guilty to sexually assaulting four boys, once claimed in a lawsuit that the evidence against him was destroyed by a zealous investigator out to railroad him. The cop who pursued MacRae was then-Keene Police Detective James McLaughlin. The old lawsuit brought by the convicted child sex predator against McLaughlin is newly relevant now that McLaughlin’s recently released personnel file shows the decorated investigator was once accused by his own department of doctoring evidence.” By Damien fisher,


Questions as accused former pastor relocated
“A former pastor at St. Andrew Church in Westwood who resigned in 2018 amid allegations of sexual misconduct from over three decades ago has been reassigned as chaplain to a Catholic resource facility in Newark that offers services to help pregnant, post-abortion, and sexual abuse victims ‘who need a safe and supportive environment.’ Former pastor James Weiner was found to be working at The Mercy House, a ‘family-oriented resource and referral center in the heart of Newark with a focus on assisting pregnant and parenting women who need a safe and supportive environment.’” By The Press Group


Former Cincinnati Catholic priest told rape victim ‘I don’t have a clue what you could be talking about’
“In a ‘chilling’ phone call to then-Rev. Geoff Drew, the Catholic priest who raped him three decades ago, Paul Neyer said he was so unnerved that he grabbed a table and felt like he could ‘squeeze through it.’ At the request of detectives investigating his case, Neyer called Drew on July 31, 2019, one day after investigators from Green Township and Cincinnati interviewed him about being raped, according to previously unreleased police records from the investigation.” By Craig Cheatham, WCPO-TV9 News


Details emerge about Father James Jackson’s alleged pre-trial release violations
“Father James Jackson, a Rhode Island priest who was arrested in October on federal and state child pornography charges, admitted Monday (Oct. 3) in federal court that the government could prove that he violated certain conditions of his pre-trial release. The conditions of Jackson’s pretrial release were set in November 2021 before he was allowed to leave Rhode Island to reside with a family member in Kansas. He was arrested in July by the U.S. Marshals in Kansas. He is currently in the custody of the U.S. Marshals at the Donald W. Wyatt Detention Facility in Central Falls, Rhode Island.” By Joe Burkuras, Catholic News Agency


Catholic priest arraigned for allegedly sodomizing 10 children
“A Catholic priest in Moshi, Sostenes Soka, who was being held by the police has been arraigned today, September 26, at the Resident Magistrate’s Court for allegedly raping and sexually assaulting more than 10 children. He was arrested on September 20. The children are pupils whose identity has been protected are in Standard Six and Form One who were attending the teachings for the first communion and confirmation.” By Florah Temba, The Citizen


B.C. man reaches settlement over priest sex abuse allegations
“A man who alleged he was sexually abused by Mission Roman Catholic priests and a seminary employee has reached an undisclosed settlement to end the case. Mark O’Neill was seeking damages for sexual abuse he alleges he suffered as a teen during his time at a Mission Roman Catholic seminary from 1974 to 1978. He was 13- to 17-years-old at the time. The defendants listed in the suit included the Seminary of Christ the King; Westminster Abbey Ltd.; the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Vancouver, a Corporation Sole; Emerick Lazar; Harold Vincent Sander, a.k.a. Dom Placidus Sander; Shawn Rohrbach; and John Doe.” By Jeremy Hainsworth, Pique News Magazine


German court asks Benedict XVI to testify after complaint by a victim of abuse by a priest
“ The Traunstein Regional Court in Bavaria has requested a deposition of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI over a lawsuit filed by a man who was abused by a priest, court spokeswoman Andrea Titz has confirmed. “The defendants have the opportunity to indicate their willingness to defend themselves within two weeks, after which they have four weeks, or one month, to respond,” she explained. As reported by German media when the complaint was filed, the plaintiff is a 38-year-old man from Bavaria who alleges he was sexually abused by the priest as a child.” By Daniel Stewart, News 360


Catholic Church in Guam begins processing abuse victims’ compensation claims
“The chief judge of the US district court of Guam Frances Tydingco-Gatewood has approved the final revision to the compromise agreement that would bring closure to the clergy abuse victims’ civil action against the Catholic Church. The settlement amount for victim-survivors of clergy sexual abuse will be in the range of between US$34 million and US$45 million, but Catholic church officials said the final amount would depend on the actual sum that the sale of respective archdiocese properties would bring in.” By Radio New Zealand


Indian family seeks dismissal of priest accused of abuse
“An Indian Catholic priest already under suspension following sex abuse complaints has fresh charges of sexual assault being lodged against him by a minor boy and his father, sparking calls for his dismissal from the priesthood. Father Vincent Pereira, 55, was originally suspended from public priestly ministries after police arrested him in September 2018 for sexually assaulting a teenage boy in a school where he was the principal. Released on bail in March 2020, he now lives in the pastoral center of the Pune diocese in western India.” By Michael Gonsalves,


Sex beast priest caught in another breach of sexual offenses prevention order
“One of Northern Ireland’s most notorious pedophile priests has admitted yet another breach of his life-long sexual offences prevention order. A court has been told the case of Daniel Gerard Curran ‘is to proceed by way of a guilty plea’ to the single charge against him. In August this year, the creep breached his lifelong SOPO by ‘loitering’ around Tollymore National Outdoor Centre in Newcastle.” By Paul Higgins, Belfast Telegraph


Lebanese pedophile priest Mansour Labaki defrocked by Vatican
“Mansour Labaki is believed to have sexually abused more than 50 individuals. The Vatican defrocked the former Lebanese priest and convicted pedophile on Tuesday (Sept. 27), ten years after he was found guilty of the sexual abuse of minors. The Assembly of the Catholic Patriarchs and Bishops of Lebanon issued a statement saying that Pope Francis decided that both Labaki and Priest George Karim Badr, will be ‘returned to their secular state.’” By The New Arab


Portugal abuse cases mount amid questions over Nobel bishop
Clergy sexual abuse cases are casting a pall over the Catholic Church in Portugal, ensnaring senior officials even as authorities scramble to explain why shelter was given to a Nobel Peace Prize-winning bishop at the center of sexual misconduct allegations. Senior Catholic leaders apologized over the weekend for the hurt caused by decades of alleged abuse and cover-up — current estimates number around 400 cases — with the archbishop of Lisbon begging the faithful to not lose faith in the church.” By Barry Hatton, Associated Press, on


Spain’s ombudsman urges Catholic bishops to collaborate in sexual abuse investigation
“The Spanish ombudsman on Tuesday (Sept. 26) said he ‘hasn’t noticed a lot of enthusiasm’ from parts of the Catholic Church as he looks into sexual abuse cases and urged bishops to collaborate with his investigation. ‘If they say they won’t, I will make very concrete requests about what happened in specific cases, congregations and what’s going on with certain archives,’ Angel Gabilondo said at the New Economy Forum in Madrid.” By Alyssa McMurtry, Anadolu Agency on


‘What I want is apologies’
“For years, Timor-Leste’s Nobel Peace Prize winner Bishop Carlos Filipe Ximenes Belo has been sexually abusing boys, survivors and others claim. Meanwhile, the Catholic church imposed travel restrictions on Belo. ‘We have to talk about it, and shout it out louder to the world.’ By Tjitske Kingsma, De Groene Amsterdammer

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U.S. diocesan synod reports highlight ‘enduring wounds’ in Church /

“Throughout the diocesan phase of the Synod on Synodality, U.S. Catholics consistently highlighted several ‘enduring wounds’ that plague the nation’s church, including the still-unfolding effects of the sexual abuse crisis, divisions over the celebration of the Traditional Latin Mass, and a perceived lack of unity among the nation’s bishops.

“The feedback was published by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops on Sept. 19, in a national synthesis of the diocesan synod phase. The synthesis is the culmination of diocesan Synod reports and contributions from other Catholic entities since last fall.

“An estimated 700,000 people out of an estimated 66.8 million U.S. Catholics contributed to the feedback that went into creating the synthesis.

“Bishop Daniel Flores of Brownsville, the USCCB’s committee on doctrine chair who oversaw the national process, called the document a ‘significant moment’ for the U.S. church, while cautioning that it’s only the first step in a larger process.”

Click here to read the National Synthesis of the People of God in the United States of America for the Diocesan Phase of the 2021-2023 Synod.

By John Lavenburg, — Read more …

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It’s Not about the Furniture

When we cultivate this synodal spirituality, we as a church will be better equipped to discern where the Spirit is leading us and to commit ourselves to those ecclesial reforms which faithful missionary discipleship requires.

Richard R. Gaillardetz, “Give Us This Day”

The commitment of Pope Francis to church reform is real and profound but widely misunderstood. Understandably, many of us think about church reform in a strictly institutional key. We want to change structures, laws, and policies in the light of basic Gospel values. Pope Francis is not opposed to structural reform; indeed, he has made considerable progress on that front. But for Francis, reform is not simply a matter of rearranging ecclesial furniture; it is about becoming a different kind of church. And the term he most frequently invokes in describing what that different kind of church looks like is “synodality.”

The word “synod” comes from the Greek synodos and means “a shared journey.” Francis imagines a church bound together as a people on a common journey. What marks that journey is a shared commitment to discipleship, a determination to follow Christ where he leads through the impulse of the Spirit. Consequently, synodality entails a spirituality that attunes us to the gentle voice of the Spirit heard in scripture, tradition, and in the lives of those we accompany along the way. This synodal spirituality has two essential features: vulnerable encounter and openness to conversion.

An authentic synodal spirituality impels us toward an authentic encounter with others. We can grasp something of this spirituality by way of the Hasidic philosopher Martin Buber. Buber contended there was no such thing as an autonomous “I.” We are always implicated in relationships. We spend much of our lives in what he referred to as “I-It” relationships, that is, relationships in which we place people and things in categories that predetermine and constrain how we engage them. So, when I go to a restaurant and order a meal, I am inclined to address the person taking my order as nothing more than a “waiter.” This is natural and often unavoidable but, by placing that person in a predetermined box, much of who they really are is filtered out in advance.

Yet Buber also suggests we are capable of entering into an “I-Thou” relationship. In this relationship, I abandon the categories and presuppositions that predispose me to engage you as “a certain kind of person.” I am invited to simply be present to you in all your marvelously mysterious and idiosyncratic depth. I allow your deepest truth to emerge in our interaction. This relationship is inherently vulnerable as we risk hearing insights and perspectives that may differ from and even challenge our own. Having acknowledged our differences and recognized even deep disagreements, the I-Thou relationship requires a faith that admits there might emerge from our encounter something holy, something of God.

This synodal encounter may also call us to conversion. We may have to abandon the impulse to foreclose honest listening prematurely. We may have to confront a deeply engrained instinct to defend the distinctive attitudes and convictions that mark our particular “tribe,” often at the expense of getting at the deep truth of things. We will have to learn to listen, not for a confirmation of our own “rightness,” but for the gentle voice of the Spirit.

When we cultivate this synodal spirituality, we as a church will be better equipped to discern where the Spirit is leading us and to commit ourselves to those ecclesial reforms which faithful missionary discipleship requires.

Richard R. Gaillardetz is the Joseph Professor of Catholic Systematic Theology at Boston College and the author of numerous books, including By What Authority? Most recently, he is the editor of The Cambridge Companion to Vatican II.

From the September 2022 issue of Give Us This Day, (Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 2022). Used with permission.

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In synod reports, US Catholics call for women’s leadership, LGBTQ welcoming / National Catholic Reporter

Still, the estimated 650,000 synod participants represent a little more than 1% of the roughly 51 million Catholic adults in the United States. The diocesan reports indicate that about two-thirds of those who attended listening sessions were 55 or older, and that most of those participants were women. An overwhelming majority of synodal participants were also white — 94% in the Diocese of Worcester, Massachusetts, for example — and were more likely to be married and attend Mass weekly.

By Brian Fraga, National Catholic Reporter

“More than a half million U.S. Catholics have participated in synodal listening sessions over the past year as part of Pope Francis’ two-year process of grassroots listening ahead of the 2023 Synod of Bishops in Rome, and responses indicate that many Americans want a more welcoming church that reaches out to the marginalized, especially the LGBTQ community, and that allows women to serve in leadership positions, including ordained ministry.

“A review of more than a dozen synodal ‘synthesis’ reports, posted online by dioceses across the country, also indicates that most Catholics are tired of the polarization in the church; believe that clerics need to do a better job communicating and involving the laity in ecclesial governance; and appreciate the opportunity to be heard, even if they harbor misgivings about what the Synod on Synodality will ultimately accomplish.

“‘I’ve been really touched by the amount of honesty that I’ve seen. Sensitive things are coming up, difficult conversations about difficult topics are coming up,’ said Julie McStravog, a consultant helping to coordinate the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ synodal work.

“McStravog told NCR that since fall 2021, more than 650,000 Catholics in the United States participated in synodal listening sessions, either online or in person, or responded to written surveys. In all, she said Catholics had more than 30,000 opportunities to participate in the synod.

“‘I’m delighted to see that every single report I’ve read expresses an appreciation for and a desire to continue the synodal listening, to enter into a sacred space and engage in deep listening and discernment with one another on a regular basis,’ McStravog said.

By Brian Fraga, National Catholic Reporter — Read more …

Read Voice of the Faithful’s Synod report by clicking here …

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