Posts Tagged vatican

Abuse allegations against former Springfield Bishop Christopher Weldon ‘unequivocally credible,’ investigation finds / The Springfield Republican

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Voice of the Faithful Focus News Roundup, June 22, 2020


June 22, 2020

TOP STORIES

Four new members named to National Review Board
“The National Review Board, the all-lay group that monitors dioceses’ performance in dealing with sexually abusive clergy and creating a safe environment for children(link is external) throughout the church, has four new members. Archbishop Jose H. Gomez of Los Angeles, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, announced the appointments June 10. The new members are …” By Catholic News Service in National Catholic Reporter

Vatican investigates Polish bishop for abuse cover-up
“The Vatican has given the go-ahead for an investigation into a Polish bishop suspected of covering up sexual abuse of children by clergy(link is external) — a subject that has long remained taboo in predominantly Catholic Poland. The investigation, which was announced on Tuesday (Jun. 2) by the archdiocese of Poznan, comes just two weeks after the release of a documentary detailing abuse cases that were allegedly covered up by Henryk Janiak, bishop of Kalisz.” By Agence France-Press on YahooNews.com

Eyebrows raised as Swiss bishop taps woman for senior job
“A Swiss bishop’s appointment of a lay mother of three to a senior administrative post previously held by a priest has raised eyebrows(link is external) in conservative Catholic circles, at a time when a strengthened role for women in the church is under debate in other European countries. Marianne Pohl-Henzen will serve as an “episcopal delegate” in the diocese of Lausanne, Geneva and Fribourg, and will also be joining Bishop Charles Morerod’s episcopal council, the main governance advisory body which is traditionally made up of priests and bishops.” By Nadine Achoui-Lesage and Jamey Keaten, Associated Press, on Cruxnow.com

Wyoming bishop accused of abuse won’t be charged, prosecutors say
“Following a decision by Wyoming prosecutors not to charge retired Bishop Joseph Hart for sexual abuse against minors, his alleged victims are looking to the Church’s canonical process as a last chance for the 88-year-old prelate to be brought to justice(link is external). As first reported by the Kansas City Star on Tuesday (Jun. 8), and confirmed by Crux on Wednesday, a Wyoming witness coordinator informed one of Hart’s accusers that the prosecutor would not advance the case, citing insufficient evidence. This comes nearly two years after the Diocese of Cheyenne deemed the allegations from the same individual to be credible in 2018.” By Christopher White, Cruxnow.com

Final version of governance report to be published by mid-August
“The final version of a report into diocesan and parish governance will be published after a series of amendments and clarifications have been made, likely by mid-August(link is external), according to ACBC Media Blog. Australian Catholic Bishops Conference president Archbishop Mark Coleridge on Friday (Jun. 12) announced a timeline for the report’s release after a draft version was leaked to international Catholic media earlier this month. The report, The Light from the Southern Cross: Promoting Co-Responsible Governance in the Catholic Church in Australia, was prepared by the Governance Review Project Team, a group of experts assembled by the Implementation Advisory Group.” By CathNews.com

ACCOUNTABILITY

Effort to give Colorado child sex assault survivors unlimited time to sue abusers is rejected
“House Bill 1296, brought in the wake of a damning report on Colorado’s Catholic church, was set aside at the request of one of its prime sponsors in the hopes of bringing future legislation that will also benefit past survivors of abuse(link is external). The decision to sideline the measure drew disappointment. In a stunning reversal on Friday (Jun. 12), a lead sponsor on a bill that would have given future child sexual assault victims in Colorado unlimited time to sue their abusers and those who allowed their abuse to happen asked that the measure be rejected. Instead, state Sen. Julie Gonzales, a Denver Democrat, said she wants to bring legislation that would also allow prior child sex assault victims to sue to their accusers as other states have done — sometimes called a ‘look-back window’ — despite caution from the legislature’s attorneys that doing so may violate the Colorado constitution.” By Jesse Paul, Colorado Sun

McCARRICK INVESTIGATION

Alleged Theodore McCarrick victim says he is helping fact-check abuse dossier
“An anonymous alleged sexual abuse victim of former Cardinal Theodore McCarrick says he and other alleged victims have been working with the Vatican to fact-check the comprehensive dossier on McCarrick’s misdeeds(link is external). The alleged victim, writing under the name Nathan Doe, says he was one of several minors that McCarrick abused, and that he had previously collaborated with Church authorities to provide evidence during the canonical penal administrative process which resulted in McCarrick’s 2019 laicization.” By Catholic News Agency

BISHOPS

Argentine bishop accused of sexual misconduct returns to work at Vatican central bank
“As the Vatican resumed its activities after the two-month COVID-19 coronavirus lockdown, Crux has confirmed an Argentinian bishop suspended over allegations of sexual misconduct with seminarians quietly went back to work(link is external). Bishop Gustavo Zanchetta was appointed by Francis to the Administration of the Patrimony of the Apostolic See (APSA), which functions as the Vatican’s central bank, in 2017, where he works as an ‘assessor,’ a position created for the Argentine.” By Inés San Martin, Cruxnow.com

Catholic bishops need to give up the secrecy
“Australia’s Catholic bishops seem to have learned little from the sexual abuse scandal and its associated cover-ups(link is external). Pushed by a royal commission report to implement reforms, they recently reverted to standard operating procedures of delay and secrecy in suppressing a major report on governance reform. While hoping to delay and control discussion, the bishops were outmanoeuvred by the leaking of the highly significant report. It will now be available to and discussed by all Catholics – as it should be.” By Terry Fewtrell, Canberra Times

Reporting abuse by bishops now easier with new service
“In the United States, accusations of sexual abuse by clergy are to be reported to the local bishop. But what if it’s the bishop himself who is the problem? The answer is the national Catholic Bishop Reporting Service. Begun March 16, the Catholic Bishop Abuse Reporting (CBAR) is a third-party service that collects and reports to appropriate church authorities bishops who have committed sexual abuse or who have interfered with a civil or church investigation(link is external) into allegations of sexual abuse by another cleric or religious.” By Patrick Downes, Hawaii Catholic Herald

New accuser comes forward in DiMarzio case
“A second man has come forward to accuse Brooklyn Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio of sexual abuse(link is external). Samier Tadros, 46, alleges that he was sexually abused between 1979 to 1980, when DiMarzio was assigned as a priest to Holy Rosary Church in Jersey City, a part of the Newark Archdiocese. Tadros was around 6 years old at the time. DiMarzio, who is currently under church investigation for a previous allegation of abuse, has denied the charges. The allegations were made in a March 9 letter that Tadros’ attorney, Mitchell Garabedian, sent to the Newark Archdiocese’s attorney, according to The Associated Press.” By Sarah Salvadore, National Catholic Reporter

PRIESTS

Archdiocesan priests removed from ministry
Three archdiocesan priests have been removed from ministry(link is external) … In each case, the priest retained the presumption of innocence and was allowed to participate in his defense. As is archdiocesan protocol, the allegations were shared with law enforcement, investigated by outside professionals and the entire matter carefully examined by the archdiocesan Lay Review Board, which concluded that the allegations had been substantiated. Both priests have been permanently removed from ministry, and may not publicly present themselves as priests.” By Catholic New York

WOMEN RELIGIOUS

Nuns kick off new webinar series on fighting sex abuse
“Members of the International Union of Superiors General (UISG) Monday were the protagonists of the first of a series of webinar sessions focusing on child protection(link is external) and how safeguarding efforts have been impacted by the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic. Sister Nuala Kenny, a doctor with a background in pediatrics who has been a member of the ad hoc committee for child sexual abuse for the Canadian Catholic Bishops Conference, was the keynote for the June 8 session, which focused on the Theology of Childhood.” By Elise Ann Allen, National Catholic Reporter

WOMEN IN THE CHURCH

Pope appoints two women to positions in Vatican library and financial authority
“The Holy See Press Office on Friday (Jun. 12) announced papal appointments to two positions in the Vatican(link is external). Pope Francis appointed Dr. Raffaella Vincenti as office head of the Vatican Apostolic Library. Dr. Vincenti had previously served as secretary of the Library.  Pope Francis also named Professor Antonella Sciarrone Alibrandi as a Member of the managing board of the Vatican’s Financial Information Authority (AIF). The AIF works to combat money-laundering and financing of terrorism.” By Vatican News

Abuse scandal linked to status of women in Church
“Cardinal Reinhard Marx has reiterated how urgent it is to appoint more women leaders in the Church(link is external). ‘Changes in this field are really urgent and must be pressed ahead with,’ he warned. ‘We talk a lot about the Church’s new social form and on no other point is this reflected more clearly,’ Marx said last week.” By Christa Pongratz-Lippitt

VATICAN

Vatican frees broker as details emerge of costly London deal
“ The Vatican has released from detention an Italian businessman accused of extortion and fraud(link is external) in a London real estate venture that to date has cost the Vatican more than 350 million euros (nearly $400 million), much of it donations from the faithful. The Vatican said in a statement Monday (Jun. 15) that Gianluigi Torzi, who was jailed in the barracks of the Vatican gendarmes on June 6, was granted provisional release after he wrote a lengthy memorandum for prosecutors about his role in the deal.” By Nicole Winfield, Associated Press

CHURCH FINANCES

St. Cloud Diocese declares bankruptcy
“The Diocese of St. Cloud filed for bankruptcy in U.S. Bankruptcy Court Monday (Jun. 15), just weeks after reaching a $22.5 million settlement with clergy abuse survivors. The Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing provides a ‘framework for resolution’ of the clergy abuse claims(link is external) filed by 70 individuals against 42 priests dating to the 1950s, the diocese said.” By Jean Hopfensperger, Star Tribune

Former Warwick priest accused of stealing from church
“The former pastor of a Catholic parish in Warwick is accused of stealing church funds for personal use(link is external). Steven Matthew Glover, 42, was charged with credit card fraud, larceny and obtaining money under false pretenses. Glover was a priest from 2004 to 2019, most recently serving as pastor at St. Rose and Clement Parish in Warwick. He left the priesthood in 2019 for personal, unrelated reasons.” By Rachel Nunes, Patch.com

Diocese of Rockville Centre threatens bankruptcy in face of child sex-abuse lawsuits
“One of the nation’s largest Catholic dioceses is threatening bankruptcy if a Long Island judge doesn’t pause the nearly 100 child sex-abuse lawsuits it faces(link is external). The Diocese of Rockville Centre, which serves more than 1.4 million Catholics in Nassau and Suffolk counties, claims it’s in an “ever-more serious financial situation,” straining under the legal costs of defending itself in court while its income has been devastated by the coronavirus pandemic, according to court papers.” By Kathianne Boniello, New York Post

CHILD PROTECTION

Archdiocese of Oklahoma City announces new training program for those required to work with minors
“The Archdiocese of Oklahoma City announced a new training program for volunteers, staff members and clergy that will be required before working with minors(link is external) in Catholic churches or schools. The program, which launches July 1 and is called Safe and Sacred Training Program for Catholic Dioceses, provides online training in several areas. A news release states those areas include appropriate and inappropriate interaction with minors, proper boundaries, potential red flags and how to report suspected child abuse.” By KOCO-TV5 News

FUTURE OF THE CHURCH

Record numbers leave Church in Munich archdiocese
“A record number of people left the Church in the German Archdiocese of Munich and Freising last year, a local statistical office said Tuesday (May 26). The Munich statistical office told CNA Deutsch, CNA’s German-language news partner, May 26 that 10,744 Catholics formally withdrew from the Church in 2019(link is external). It noted that this was a fifth higher than in 2018, when 8,995 people left. Statisticians said this was the first time that annual departures had surpassed the 10,000 mark since records began. Previously, the highest figure was 9,010, set in 1992.” By Catholic News Agency in Catholic World Report

VOICES

Bishop made progress but didn’t lead
“Bishop Mitchell Rozanski cleared the low bar set by his predecessor when it came to issues of communication and response to clergy abuse(link is external). Opportunities were missed to do so much more. At his introduction as the new Archbishop of the St. Louis diocese, Bishop Rozanski spoke of initiatives he had taken in Springfield as if they were entirely his own. But they came only after pressure was applied by activists like Olan Horne of Chester, an abuse survivor who advocates for other victims, and by The Berkshire Eagle.” By The Berkshire Eagle Editorial Board

STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS

Quebec moves to eliminate time limits for filing civil sexual assaiults
“Sexual assault victims in Quebec will soon be able to pursue justice against their abusers regardless of how long ago crimes took place, according to proposed legislation tabled Thursday (Jun. 11). The bill tabled in the provincial legislature by Justice Minister Sonia LeBel would eliminate the 30-year time limit for bringing a civil suit against an alleged assailant(link is external). Quebec and Prince Edward Island are the only two provinces to maintain a time limitation for this type of lawsuit.” By Jocelyne richer, The Canadian Press, on montreal.ctvnews.ca

‘They are mistaken’: AG backs sex-abuse law challenged by Diocese of Providence
“Three alleged priest abuse victims and the state attorney general this week defended the legality of the new deadline to sue over child molestation(link is external) after the Diocese of Providence argued a key feature was unconstitutional. The arguments come in response to the Diocese of Providence’s attempt to have the three alleged victims’ lawsuits dismissed from state court. A 2019 law extended the deadline to sue over childhood sexual abuse from seven years to 35 years after a victim’s 18th birthday.” By Brian Amaral, Providence Journal

New Jersey sexual abuse law survives Catholic school’s challenge
“A Superior Court judge has ruled in favor of a New Jersey statute that gives victims of sexual abuse more time to sue(link is external). The 2019 law waived the statue of limitations and allowed victims to file civil suits until they are 55, or seven years after they discover they were abused. Judge Peter Bogaard of Morris County ruled against two arguments submitted by attorneys for Delbarton School, a catholic school in Morristown.” By Associated Press

CLERGY SEXUAL ABUSE

Review: The continued fight to eradicate clergy sex abuse
“A Canadian pediatrician and woman religious who has worked on issues of sexual abuse for more than three decades(link is external), Nuala Kenny, S.C., offers her diagnoses and prescriptions for treating the ‘sick soul’ and the ‘global septic shock in the Body of Christ’ in ‘Still Unhealed.’ Kenny has been working in this area since she joined the one-of-its-kind, lay-led Archdiocesan Commission of Inquiry on Clergy Sexual Abuse in St. John’s, Newfoundland, in 1989.” By James F. Keenan, America: The Jesuit Review

CONNECTICUT

Danbury clergy sexual abuse case pushed to July
“The pre-trial hearing of the former local priest accused of sexually assaulting two boys(link is external) has been rescheduled from June 19 to July 24. Jaime Marin-Cardona, 52, is charged with three counts of fourth-degree sexual assault, three counts of risk of injury to child and three counts of illegal sexual contact. He pleaded not guilty to all nine charges.” By Kendra Baker, New Canaan Advertiser

FLORIDA

Former Winter Haven priest accused of sexually abusing teen in Polk facility; lawsuit filed in Polk Circuit Court
“A Sarasota man is suing a former Winter Haven priest on allegations of sexual abuse(link is external) while the man was incarcerated as a teenager at Demilly Correctional Institution near Polk City. In the lawsuit, filed in Polk Circuit Court, the man states that he initially met with the Rev. Fred Ruse, then pastor at St. Matthew Catholic Church in Winter Haven, at the prison to receive communion in 2001 and 2002. They met privately in the chaplain’s office and in classrooms at the prison, the lawsuit states.” By Suzie Schottelkotte, TheLedger.com

MASSACHUSETTS

Springfield Diocese temporarily removes 3 priests from public ministry after sexual abuse allegation
“Three priests from the Roman Catholic Diocese of Springfield have been temporarily removed from public ministry as a result of an allegation of sexual abuse(link is external), according to Jeffrey J. Trant, director of the diocesan Office of Safe Environment and Victim Assistance. The priests were not identified. Trant, who was appointed to his position last June, said that 14 new alleged victims have come forward with claims of clerical sexual abuse since July 2019.” By Anne-Gerard Flynn, MassLive.com

MICHIGAN

Former Franciscan brother living in DeWitt named by second man as sexual abuser
“Two religious orders deny any knowledge of sexual abuse by a former Franciscan brother(link is external) living in DeWitt who is now named in two lawsuits. Martin Rusnak filed a lawsuit in New Jersey earlier this year naming Kurt Munn as an abuser and saying religious leaders enabled Munn for decades. In the legal complaint filed in Mercer County, Rusnak says Munn started abusing him in the 1970s.” By Megan Banta, Lansing State Journal

MINNESOTA

Additional name added to list of clergy likely to have abused minors
“Bishop Donald Kettler added an additional name to the list of clergy likely to have abused minors(link is external): Father Charles Meyer, a member of the Society of the Precious Blood. Meyer was added to the list following notification by the Diocese of Bismarck, North Dakota, that it added him to its list of “extern clergy with substantiated allegations of sexual abuse of a minor,” according to a June 12 news release from the diocese.” By The Central Minnesota Catholic

MISSOURI

Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests hold protest in response to new St. Louis archbishop
“The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests held a protest Wednesday (Jun. 10) morning in response to the new St. Louis archbishop-elect. On Wednesday it was announced that Pope Francis had named Reverend Mitchell T. Rozanski as the 11th bishop and 10th archbishop of St. Louis. SNAP has criticized Rozanski for refusing to name three priests(link is external) who had been suspended after allegations of sexual abuse in Massachusetts.” By Kayla Wheeler, KSDK-TV5 News

NEW JERSEY

Numerous victims of childhood sex abuse file lawsuits against Diocese of Trenton
“The Diocese of Trenton is facing numerous lawsuits alleging it failed time and again to prevent the sexual abuse of children(link is external). These civil-action complaints in Mercer County Superior Court are a microcosm of the widespread sex abuse scandals rocking the Roman Catholic Church worldwide. ‘It’s an epidemic in the Catholic Church, and it has been going on for centuries,’ attorney John W. Baldante told The Trentonian in an interview. ‘The Catholic Church has largely ignored this behavior.’” By Sulaiman Abdur-Rahman, The Tentonian

Priest worked in North Jersey parishes for decades after being accused of sex abuse
“The Rev. Gerald Sudol, who spent decades serving in North Jersey Catholic parishes, allegedly began abusing children even before he was ordained as a priest(link is external). Later he moved from one church to another, at first injecting new life into parishes where he’d been assigned, befriending families and becoming a spiritual mentor to their sons. Then the man who was fondly known as Father Gerry would allegedly abuse boys sexually — sometimes more than one at a time — and tell them that God would punish them if they told anyone.” By Abbott Koloff, NorthJersey.com

NEW MEXICO

Servants of the Paraclete seeks dismissal in Catholic priest abuse lawsuit; victim speaks out
“The Servants of the Paraclete, named in a lawsuit over child sexual abuse by Catholic priests(link is external), asked a New Mexico court to dismiss the case in a June 10 response. The Servants of the Paraclete is one of several defendants, including two Alamogordo Catholic parishes, named in the case filed in the 2nd Judicial District Court in Bernalillo County. The suit was filed by ‘John Doe’ and alleged negligence, intentional infliction of emotional distress, vicarious liability, public nuisance and racketeering.” By Nicole Maxwell, Alamogordo Daily News

NEW YORK

38 more people sue Syracuse Catholic Diocese, claiming abuse by priests
“Nearly 40 new lawsuits have been filed against the Roman Catholic Diocese of Syracuse(link is external), alleging child sex abuse by priests and a teacher. The suits filed today alleged allegations of abuse that happened at the hands of priests in parishes across Central New York, spanning more than 50 years.” By Marnie Eisenstadt, Syracuse.com

52 new suits against Albany Diocese allege sex abuse by priests, nuns
“The Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany was the target Monday (Jun. 15) of 52 new lawsuits alleging sex abuse of children by priests and nuns(link is external) as much as 63 years ago. The Guilderland and Minnesota law firms teaming up to represent the victims in these cases have previously filed 22 such lawsuits and say they are preparing 36 more. Other law firms are separately bringing similar cases.” By John Cropley, Albany Daily Gazette

Late priest from Lake Luzerne parish among those named in child sex abuse lawsuits
“A late priest that served at a church in Lake Luzerne was named in one of 52 sex abuse lawsuits(link is external) filed Monday (Jun. 15) against the Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany. The Rev. Charles A. Gaffigan, who retired from Holy Mother and Child Parish in 2011, is accused of sexually abusing a minor from 1992 to about 1994 at what was then Holy Infancy Church in Lake Luzerne, according to a news release from Jeff Anderson & Associates. The law firm has filed a total of 74 lawsuits against the diocese.” By Michael Goot, The Post Star

Child Victims Act attorneys oppose Buffalo Diocese move to shield parishes from lawsuits
“A federal bankruptcy judge will soon decide whether hundreds of lawsuits against Catholic parishes and former parishes, schools and other entities in the Buffalo Diocese should be blocked(link is external) from moving forward in state courts. The diocese’s Chapter 11 filing in February immediately stopped lawsuits against the diocese from advancing as it goes through a reorganization. In May, the diocese asked Chief Judge Carl L. Bucki of the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in the Western District of New York to extend that same protection to more than 400 Catholic parishes, schools and other entities that also have been named as defendants in Child Victims Act cases.” By Jay Tokasz, The Buffalo News

TEXAS

Texas Supreme Court to hear case of former deacon suing diocese for abuse claim
“The Texas Supreme Court will hear the Diocese of Lubbock’s appeal of a legal decision allowing a former deacon to sue the diocese for defamation for including his name on a list of clergy credibly accused of sex abuse(link is external). ‘We are committed to transparency for the trust and safety of the members of our parishes,’ Bishop Robert Coerver of Lubbock said June 8. ‘At a time when many religious messages are being shared digitally, courts must protect churches’ ability to communicate effectively with their members.’” By Kevin J. Jones, Catholic News Agency

VIRGINIA

Sexual abuse allegations by former priests in Hampton Roads under investigation
Allegations of sexual abuse of Hampton Roads children(link is external) by four retired or inactive priests are now under review by the Catholic Diocese of Richmond. None of the four are currently serving in active ministry, the diocese said Monday (Jun. 8). None have served in the diocese in recent years. The diocese has not reached any conclusions about the allegations, though it has informed civil authorities about them.” By Dave Ress, Daily Press

Richmond Diocese reviews allegations against four ex-priests
“The Catholic Diocese of Richmond announced it has begun reviewing child sexual abuse allegations(link is external) made against four former priests in Virginia. ‘While the alleged incidents are from the past, we recognize the pain is still a deep and present reality for victim survivors of abuse and for their loved ones,’ Bishop Barry C. Knestout said in the statement released Monday (Jun. 8).” By Associated Press on ABC-TV13 News

WASHINGTON, D.C.

Church investigations clear DC clergy member a 2nd time on sexual, financial misconduct allegations
“Church investigations into the rector of the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in D.C. found no credible evidence of sexual and financial impropriety(link is external). Monsignor Walter Rossi has served as rector since 2005 and was accused of sexually assaulting male students at the Catholic University of America. Those allegations reportedly came from Archbishop Carlo Viganò who relayed the accusations during an interview last year with The Washington Post, claiming the Vatican embassy in D.C. received documentation on the matter.” By Ken Duffy, WTOP News

WYOMING

Criminal investigation into Wyoming clergy sexual abuse drags into third year
“The criminal investigation into sexual abuse by members of the Catholic clergy(link is external) in Wyoming passed its second birthday in April, a prolonged process with no end in sight that has ‘shattered’ an alleged victim’s family’s belief in the criminal justice system. In August, Cheyenne police recommended that retired bishop Joseph Hart, the highest-ranking member of the Catholic church in Wyoming for 25 years, be charged with sexual abuse.” By Seth Klamann, KPVI-TV6 News

FRANCE

Thousands of victims of cheld sex abuse in French Catholic Church, says commission
“At least 3,000 children have fallen victim to sex abuse in the French Catholic Church since 1950(link is external), the president of a commission set up to investigate the claims said today (Jun. 17). Jean-Marc Sauve said preliminary figures suggested some 1,500 clergy and other church officials carried out the abuse. The commission was set up last June at the request of French bishops after a series of paedophilia cases that rocked the Church in France and abroad.” By Malaymail.com

INDIA

Savio Rodrigues on sexual abuse and corruption in the Catholic Church of India
Savio Rodrigues separates the faith from the organization that the Church has become and highlights the corruption that has permeated into it. The faith is under pressure because of the allegations of sexual abuse(link is external) and the harsh treatment meted out to those who highlight them. A must watch!” By Sahil Mishra, PGurus.com

IRELAND & NORTHERN IRELAND

Abuse victim’s advocate was ‘open’ about Catholic church role
“A number of victims’ groups called for Brendan McAllister to stand down, or be removed from his post, after it became apparent he has been officiating at Catholic church services at St Peter’s in Warrenpoint. Spokespersons for Survivors and Victims of Institutional Abuse said that Mr McAllister’s elevation to a leadership role with the church made his positions as the interim advocate for victims untenable – as around 80% of its members had been abused by members of the Catholic clergy(link is external).” By Mark Rainey, News LetterCatholic Church says data laws ‘detrimental to efforts to safeguard children’
“Current data protection legislation is a threat to the safety of children and has made their welfare difficult to guarantee(link is external), the Catholic Church’s child protection watchdog has said. General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) was introduced in 2018. The church’s National Board for Safeguarding Children, based at Maynooth, Co Kildare, said the current legislation was ‘detrimental to the efforts to safeguard children.’” By Patsy McGary, The Irish Times

NEW ZEALAND

Historic sex abuse: Former Catholic brother sentenced to home detention in Napier
“An 81-year-old Catholic brother and schoolteacher from Napier has been sentenced to a second term of home detention for sexually abusing children(link is external) when he was teaching in Masterton more than 40 years ago. Kevin Peter John Healy was sentenced in Napier District Court today on five charges of indecency in the 1970s, involving a girl aged 8 or 9, and her brother and another boy who were at the time aged 12 and 13.” By Hawkes Bay Today

SWITZERLAND

Pedophile priest found free in Switzerland after conviction in Belgium
“A Swiss priest found guilty of abusing a minor in Belgium has been arrested in Switzerland(link is external), where he was living free despite being sentenced to prison in 2017. The Brussels Court of Appeal sentenced Frédéric Abbet to three years’ imprisonment after finding him guilty of sexually abusing a nine-year-old boy in a Brussels boarding school between 2010 and 2011. Swiss regional daily Le Nouvelliste reported on Friday (Jun. 12) that the priest was found living free in the Swiss canton of Valais, years after he was sentenced.” By The Brussels Times

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Voice of the Faithful Focus News Roundup


Jun. 8, 2020

TOP STORIES

Explaining the Vatican’s lingering ambivalence on ‘zero tolerance’
“‘Zero tolerance’ for sexual abuse has become one of those notoriously elastic phrases, such as ‘change,’ ‘hope’ and ‘progress,’ which everyone claims to be for but no one seems to define in exactly the same way. In American Catholic parlance, however, the term ‘zero tolerance’ does have a fairly precise meaning, derived from the US bishops’ 2002 Dallas charter(link is external) and norms: Permanent removal from ministry, and, in most cases, laicization, for even one justified allegation of sexual abuse of a minor. In that sense, ‘zero tolerance’ remains a contested point. To this day, a central plank in the indictment of many abuse survivors and their advocates is that the Vatican has not imposed a universal ‘zero tolerance’ policy everywhere in the world, which is often taken as a sign of reluctance to reform.” By John L. Allen, Jr., Cruxnow.com

Secret bishops’ report calls for radical revamp of Catholic Church
“Australia’s Catholic Church could be dramatically overhauled to give lay people more power, increase the number of women in leadership roles and force parishes to open up their finances to the public(link is external). A secret 200-page report being considered by the nation’s bishops has called for unprecedented reform in a bid to make the church more inclusive and break down the structures that contributed to decades of clergy abuse and cover-ups … But in a sign of how sensitive the church is to issues of reform, the body that commissioned the report – the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference – is unlikely to publicly release or reveal how it will respond to its 86 recommendations until the end of the year.” By Farrah Tomazin, The Sydney Morning Herald

‘Vos Estis’ at one year: Some question pope’s process for investigating bishops
“It is a bit early to assess the effect of Pope Francis’ new global system for how the Catholic Church evaluates reports of clergy sexual abuse or cover-up by individual bishops(link is external), say canon lawyers who spoke to NCR. They also raised questions about the new process, first established in May 2019, which involves the empowering of archbishops to conduct investigations of prelates accused in their local regions. Among their main concerns with the procedure, outlined in Francis’ motu proprio Vos Estis Lux Mundi: the possible bias that can arise in asking one prelate to investigate another, and whether there has been an appropriate level of transparency about bishops who are being investigated.” By Joshua J. McElwee, National Catholic Reporter

Brooklyn bishop accused by 2nd man of sex abuse in the 1970s
“The Roman Catholic bishop of Brooklyn, already under a church investigation for alleged sex abuse, has been accused by a second man of abuse in the 1970s, when the bishop was a parish priest in New Jersey(link is external). Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio ‘repeatedly sexually abused’ Samier Tadros starting when he was about 6 years old, according to a March 9 letter that Tadros’ lawyer sent to the attorney representing the Archdiocese of Newark. The letter alleges the abuse happened in Holy Rosary Church in Jersey City.” By Michael Rezendes, Associated Press

Australia’s bishops seeking ‘whole-of-Church’ approach for child protection
“Plans are moving forward for the establishment of a national system for child protection within the Australian Catholic Church(link is external), according to a report following the meeting of the country’s Catholic bishops earlier this month. The ‘National Response Protocol’ will develop a comprehensive system for reporting complaints of clergy abuse or misconduct and establish new guidelines for child protection policies.” By Christopher White, Cruxnow.com

ACOUNTABILITY

Pope makes anti-corruption spending rules mandatory in Vatican
“Pope Francis has approved sweeping new rules for procurement and spending in the Vatican meant to cut costs, ensure transparent competition and reduce the risk of corruption(link is external) in awarding contracts. An Apostolic Letter and 30 pages of new norms released on Monday (Jun. 1) are the culmination of a four-year process to rationalize spending procedures and tackle nepotism and cronyism. They come as the coronavirus pandemic has wreaked havoc with the Vatican’s finances, forcing it to implement some of the toughest cost-control measures ever.” By Philip Pullella, Reuters

New suit alleging sexual abuse by an Allentown priest uses a loophole in hopes of getting around statute of limitations
“Relying on a loophole that could open the floodgates for other victims years, or even decades, after the statute of limitation on such claims has expired(link is external), Berks County state Rep. Mark Rozzi on Tuesday (May 26) filed a lawsuit against the Allentown Diocese and Holy Guardian Angels Parish in Reading, saying he was sexually abused by a priest in the 1980s, when he was 13 years old. Rozzi’s attorneys say they are relying on an August state Superior Court ruling that allowed a similar lawsuit, based on new information from the 2016 grand jury report on the Altoona-Johnstown Diocese, to move forward.” By Laurie Mason Schroeder, The Morning Call

POPE FRANCIS

Criticizing a pope: a dialogue between Massimo Faggioli and Bill McCormick, S.J.
“The driving thesis of Mr. McCormick’s article is that ‘the papacy does not have an agenda: the papacy is an agenda in itself.’ This is hard to reconcile with an ecclesiology of the papacy as an ecclesial ministry in the framework of a sacramental ecclesiology. But this approach has also far-reaching consequences(link is external). The first is that Mr. McCormick’s argument seems to be not about the style or content of my critique of Pope Francis’ approach to two particular issues, but about the very possibility of criticizing the bishop of Rome at all.” By Massimo Faggioli and Bill McCormick, S.J.

CARDINAL PELL

Inside stories: lawyers on the trials of the Pell case
“In a sexual abuse case that has polarized opinion, for the solicitors working on both sides it has been business as usual(link is external). When the High Court announced on 7 April that it would uphold Cardinal George Pell’s appeal against his County Court conviction for sexual abuse of two choirboys in the 1990s, it drew a line, for now, under years of work for the solicitors who have been intimately involved in the case. It has been a case that has polarized opinion, has had international notoriety and involved controversy on a number of levels.” By Karin Derkley, Law Institute Victoria

PRIESTS

Priesthood and the renewal of the Church
Debates about celibacy have recently been in the forefront of conversations regarding the Church(link is external), given the ongoing fallout of the abuse crisis and the meeting of the Synod of Bishops for the Pan-Amazon region in the fall of 2019. Although the synod sought to confront the general pastoral difficulties of the Amazon region, stretched over many South American nations, European prelates focused excessively on changes to the priesthood and ecological problems.” By Jared Staudt, Denver Catholic

CHURCH FINANCES

Opening salvos in Pope Francis’s financial ‘Reform 2.0’
“Facing both a looming economic crisis and reminders that the anti-financial scandal measures adopted to date haven’t been fully effective, Pope Francis and his Vatican team this week (May 27) have moved to try to defuse the bomb(link is external) before it goes off, closing several Swiss holding companies responsible for portions of its assets and reallocating internal control over financial data collection.” By John L. Allen, Jr., Cruxnow.com

Vatican Finances, what is going on? The Vatican City State Administration
“Plans for a ‘Vatican Asset Management’ outfit were laid out almost as soon as Pope Francis created the new Secretariat for the Economy. The VAM was supposed to be a centralized office that managed all Vatican investments(link is external). The proposed management outfit would have responded to two needs: that of generating revenues to support the expenses of the Holy See / Vatican City State; and, that of keeping investments under better control (because each dicastery had some funds that it managed independently).” By Andrea Gagliarducci, Catholic News Agency

CHILD PROTECTION

Reporting abuse – the church’s blind spot
“When in doubt, REPORT. If every allegation of child sexual abuse was simply reported by church leaders to appropriate authorities, the resulting positive impact would be immeasurable(link is external). Survivors of abuse would feel validated — by itself a significant positive outcome — pathways to healing would open, future victims would be spared and abusers would be revealed. Criminal behavior would be investigated and prosecuted, and elements of  realaccountability put in place. When ministry leaders simply report suspicions and allegations of sexual abuse, the church is perceived as a sanctuary where God’s love and justice are demonstrated.” By Gregory Love & Kimberlee Norris, Church Executive

International Safeguarding Conference announces new webinar series
“In a new series of webinars beginning on 29 May, the International Safeguarding Conference (ISC) will be encouraging ‘the Catholic Church and other faith-based organizations’ to ‘continue with safeguarding programs, despite the expected Covid-19 recession(link is external).’ ICS annually brings together Church representatives, professionals and scientific specialists to share knowledge and good practices on the subject of child protection. ISC writes that the upcoming webinar is ‘the first in a series of webinars’ … which aim to enable safeguarding professionals to share good practice in safeguarding, both in the current pandemic circumstances ‘and in ‘normal’ times.’” By Vatican News

FUTURE OF THE CHURCH

Record numbers leave Church in Munich archdiocese
“A record number of people left the Church in the German Archdiocese of Munich and Freising last year, a local statistical office said Tuesday (May 26). The Munich statistical office told CNA Deutsch, CNA’s German-language news partner, May 26 that 10,744 Catholics formally withdrew from the Church in 2019(link is external). It noted that this was a fifth higher than in 2018, when 8,995 people left. Statisticians said this was the first time that annual departures had surpassed the 10,000 mark since records began. Previously, the highest figure was 9,010, set in 1992.” By Catholic News Agency in Catholic World Report

VOICES

New bishop says Catholic Church has learned from the past
“Minnesota priest selected to be the new bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Rapid City comes from a diocese that concluded bankruptcy proceedings last year agreeing to pay tens of millions of dollars to victims of child sexual abuse. Father Peter Muhich, 59, said addressing the abuse of victims was ‘obviously a very difficult process’ for the church(link is external) and especially for the victims themselves.” By Kevin Woster, Rapid City Journal

STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS

Child Victims Act gets 1-year extension
“The Child Victims Act received a second extension, bringing the filing deadline for child sexual abuse cases past the statute of limitations to Aug. 14, 2021(link is external). Championed for years by New Baltimore activist and attorney Gary Greenberg, who is a survivor of child sexual abuse, the law initially opened a one-year window of opportunity for claimants of child sexual abuse to bring their case to civil court, regardless of the statute of limitations and when the alleged abuse took place.” By Melanie Lekocevic, Columbia-Greene Media

Texas Statutes of Limitations for sexual crimes against children
“For many years, the Catholic Church has come under fire for the widespread occurrence of child molestation. While the majority of the media attention has fallen on U.S. priests, clergy members in many other countries have been identified as abusers. ‘Sexual Assault, commonly referred to as ‘rape,’ is perhaps the most stressful allegation with which to be faced, particularly if the sexual assault involves a child.” By Broden Mickelsen, Dallas Sex Crimes Lawyers, News.TopWireNews.com

CLERGY SEXUAL ABUSE

Documentary Prompts Polish Archbishop To Refer Case To Vatican
“Poland’s most senior Archbishop referred a child sex abuse case to the Vatican(link is external) on May 17th. Following the release of a Youtube documentary from Tomasz and Marek Sekielski, Archbishop Wojciech Polak has called on the Vatican to launch proceedings against Bishop Edward Janiak. The film alleges that Janiak knew about the allegations for years, but failed to take any action.” By Maria Kuuiper, Current Events, The Organization for World Peace

Revictimizing the victims of sexual abuse
“Victims of sexual abuse by clergy frequently have told me that the way they were treated by bishops has hurt them more than the abuse did(link is external). Virtually every bishop has made the announcement that he is dedicated to helping victims who have been sexually abused by priests and that he has put considerable resources toward that effort. Unfortunately, from what I have heard from too many victims, some bishops are quite adept at virtue-signaling and at making empty promises.” By Janet E. Smith, National Catholic Register

CALIFORNIA

Catholic priest sexual abuse survivor suing Oakland Diocese and East Bay churches
“The Roman Catholic Diocese of Oakland and two East Bay churches are the target of a lawsuit by a young man who was sexually abused by a priest when he was a child(link is external), his attorney said Tuesday (May 26). In a complaint recently filed in Alameda County Superior Court, the victim seeks unspecified damages against the the Diocese, St. John’s Catholic Church in San Lorenzo, and Corpus Christi Church in Fremont, accusing them of negligence in not protecting children like him from ‘predator priests.’” By Joseph Geha, Bay Area News Group

LOUISIANA

Alleged victim of nuns’ sex abuse fears Archdiocese bankruptcy will silence him
“The Archdiocese of New Orleans has filed for bankruptcy, and survivors of abuse at the hands of Catholic clergy say it’s just a maneuver meant to silence them. They include one man who says he was molested by nuns at a West Bank youth home in the 1970s(link is external), and he’s now urging other victims to speak out. Jeff, whose real name isn’t being used, says his parents sent him to Madonna Manor in Marrero in 1976 for help with dyslexia. He was 11 years old at the time.” By Greg LaRose, WDSU-TV6 News

SNAP asks governor to order state investigation of church
“The Louisiana chapter of SNAP has asked Gov. John Bel Edwards to direct State Police to investigate the Catholic Church(link is external). The organization, which represents and speaks for survivors of sexual abuse by priests, believes that the recent declaration of bankruptcy(link is external) by the Archdiocese is an effort to seal evidence in sex abuse cases.” By KATC-TV3 News

Clergy abuse survivors, Hancock Bank on Archdiocese of New Orleans bankruptcy creditors’ committee
“A committee representing the unsecured creditors in the Archdiocese of New Orleans’ bankruptcy case will include clergy abuse claimants and Hancock Whitney Bank(link is external), which has managed more than $38 million in state facilities bonds that helped the local Catholic Church rebuild after Hurricane Katrina. Federal court records Wednesday only identified one representative on the seven-member committee: Beth Zeigler of Hancock Whitney. The rest of the names were redacted, suggesting that the committee’s balance might be comprised of people who claim they were sexually molested by New Orleans-area clergymen and religious personnel.” By Ramon Antonio Vargas, Nola.com

MASSACHUSETTS

Roman Catholic Diocese of Springfield forms independent task force to advise Bishop Mitchell Rozanski on confronting reported clergy sex abuse
“Bishop Mitchell T. Rozanski announced on Wednesday (May 27) the creation of an independent task force to advise the Diocese of Springfield on the ongoing issue of sexual misconduct and abuse by clergy(link is external) within the diocese. The 10-member Independent Task Force on the Response to Sexual Abuse within the Diocese of Springfield will have retired Massachusetts Superior Court Judge Daniel Ford as chairman and Irene Woods, founding executive director of the Children’s Advocacy Center of Franklin County and North Quabbin, as vice chairwoman.” By Patrick Johnson, MassLive.com

MICHIGAN

Former priest bound over on criminal sexual conduct charges
“A former Upper Peninsula priest accused of molesting children(link is external) was bound over to Ontonagon County Circuit Court. Gary Jacobs, 74, had a preliminary hearing on Tuesday (May 26) and Wednesday in 98th District Court in Ontonagon. No date has been set for his circuit court arraignment. Jacobs was also arraigned in Dickinson County’s district court Monday for similar charges there. He will be arraigned in circuit court next month.” By Garrett Neese, The Daily Mining Gazette

MINNESOTA

St. Cloud Diocese reaches settlement framework for clergy abuse survivors
“The Diocese of St. Cloud says they have reached framework for a settlement for survivors of clergy abuse(link is external). In a news release from the diocese, it says, ‘the resolution will include the diocese filing a Chapter 11 bankruptcy in the near future. In the Chapter 11 bankruptcy, the framework for resolution will include a consensual plan of reorganization that will provide for a $22.5 million trust to compensate survivors of clergy sexual abuse.” By Jenifer Lewerenz, KNSI Radio News

NEW JERSEY

Judge denies Delbarton School’s request to find new sex abuse law unconstitutional
“A judge has denied a challenge to a law that loosened restrictions on civil sex abuse complaints — allowing a lawsuit to continue(link is external) against the order that runs the Delbarton School and clearing the way for dozens of similar cases against the Catholic Church and other institutions to go forward in state courts. The lawsuit against Delbarton was filed more than two years before New Jersey extended the civil statute of limitations for sex abuse cases. Dozens of sex abuse lawsuits have been filed since the law took effect on Dec. 1, 2019, many of them against the Catholic Church for alleged abuse from decades ago.” By Abbott Koloff, NorthJersey.com

NEW YORK

LI priest molested me, now church is trying to keep me quiet, lawsuit says
“A man says a Long Island priest sexually abused him when he was a teen(link is external) — and that church investigators are now trying to intimidate him into silence, new court papers show. Greg Hein, 52, says in a Nassau County lawsuit that Father Gregory Cappuccino repeatedly molested him in the sacristy and rectory of St. Anthony of Padua in Rockville Centre in 1984. Hein was 17 at the time, while the priest oversaw the parish’s youth programs, the suit says.” By Rebecca Rosenberg, New York Post

PENNSYLVANIA

Erie diocese priest reinstated after abuse probe ends
“A priest in the Catholic Diocese of Erie is returning to active ministry after Bishop Lawrence Persico said the diocese could not substantiate allegations of child sexual abuse(link is external) made against the priest a year ago. The priest, Monsignor Charles Kaza, has been reinstated as pastor of St. Tobias Parish, in Brockway, Jefferson County, Persico announced on Monday (Jun. 1).” By Times-News staff on GoErie.com

Attorneys: Abuse victims getting low offers from Diocese of Pittsburgh’s fund
“Many people filing claims of sexual abuse by priests in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh are being offered compensation amounting to only a ‘fraction’ of what victims have received in other dioceses(link is external), according to attorneys representing many of them before an out-of-court compensation fund. Attorney Alan Perer, who said he represents about 75 clients who applied to the fund, is accusing Bishop David Zubik and the diocese of breaking a promise to compensate victims fairly.” By Perter Smith, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Erie Diocese wants out of New York lawsuit against Trautman
“The Catholic Diocese of Erie is asking a judge to dismiss a lawsuit in New York that tries to connect the diocese to claims that retired Erie Catholic Bishop Donald W. Trautman(link is external) covered up clergy sex abuse of a minor when he was a top official in the Catholic Diocese of Buffalo in the 1980s. The suit also names Trautman as a defendant, though the claims against him mostly pertain to his tenure in the Catholic Diocese of Buffalo. The suit alleges the abuse took place there about six years before Trautman was named the bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Erie, in 1990.” By Ed Palattella, GoErie.com

TEXAS

Catholic Archdiocese asks to have child abuse lawsuit dismissed, contends case filed too late
“The lawsuit seeks $20 million in damages from the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston, claiming the church covered up allegations of abuse(link is external), and continued to allow La Rosa-Lopez access to children. Lawyers for the Archdiocese filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit contending it was filed years after the statute of limitations ran out in 2011. The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests says the archdiocese is trying to escape responsibility by relying on a legal technicality.” By KPRC-TV2 News

A year later, most documents seized in Dallas police raid of diocese ordered returned as sexual assault investigation continues
“A year after police searched Dallas Catholic Diocese offices for records related to allegations of sexual abuse by priests, most of the documents seized in the raid were returned to the church as beyond the scope of the police investigation(link is external). And charges have been filed against only one of the five former priests, who are targets of the investigation. Dallas Bishop Edward Burns condemned the May 15, 2019 raid, which involved dozens of law enforcement officers, as ‘unnecessary and sensational,’’ in a statement released by the diocese Thursday (May 28).” By David Tarrant, The Dallas Morning News

AFRICA

My catholic priest uncle molested me when I was 11 – DJ Switch
“Nigerian rapper and disc jockey, Obianuju Catherine Udeh, popularly known as DJ Switch, has opened up on how her uncle, who’s a catholic priest, molested her at the age of 11(link is external). The songwriter who was the winner of the Glo X-Factor revealed this on his Instagram page on Monday, adding that her revelation may shock her family. DJ Switch’s post is coming after the brutal killing of Vera Uwaila Omozuwa, a student of the University of Benin (UNIBEN) who was raped and murdered in a church in Benin where she went to study.” By Taiwo Okanlawon, pmnewsnigeria.com

AUSTRALIA

Former principal who warned of dangerous priest to sue Catholic Church
Mr (Graeme) Sleeman now plans to sue the Catholic Church over the Archdiocese of Melbourne’s catastrophic inaction in the 1980s on his complaints about (pedophile priest Peter)Searson(link is external). He estimates his lost education career cost him $3 million. Searson’s infamy was known at the top: the then archbishop of Melbourne, Frank Little, knew of an allegation Searson raped a young woman in 1974, and his conduct around parishioners and children was discussed at archdiocese meetings in the early 1980s.” By Adam Cooper, The Sydney Morning Herald

Bishop backs mother’s plea to release report
“A 94-year-old Newcastle woman calling for the release of royal commission findings on sexual abuse her son endured and his subsequent suicide is being backed by the local bishop. Audrey Nash fears she will die before the findings of the 2016 royal commission probe into her son Andrew Nash’s suicide are made public. Andrew Nash died in 1974 when he was just 13.” By Giselle Wakatama, ABC News, on CathNews.com

Report Suggests High-Ranking Australian Priest Covered Up Decades of Abuse Within Catholic Church
“Weeks after Cardinal George Pell was released from jail, a newly release report suggests that he knew of child sex abuse by Australian priests as early as the 1970s(link is external) but failed to take action to stop it. Pell, an ex-Vatican treasurer, is the highest-ranking Roman Catholic leader ever found guilty in the church’s clergy pedophilia crisis.” By Joseph H. Saunders, The Legal Examiner

CANADA

London Catholic Diocese loses appeal in child sexual abuse case
“An Ontario appeals court has dismissed a bid by the Diocese of London to fight a lower court’s decision to throw out a settlement involving a victim of child sexual abuse(link is external). Justice David Aston ruled in 2018 that London-area resident Irene Deschenes would not have settled with the church for the abuse she suffered at the hands of a priest had the church disclosed key information about previous sexual assault allegations.” By CBC News

FRANCE

Church orders French pedophile priest Preynat to compensate victims
“The Ecclesiastical Court of Lyon has paved the way for the compensation of victims of French ex-priest Bernard Preynat(link is external), convicted in March for the sexual assault of minors. In a sentence handed down on Thursday but made public two days later, 21 people assaulted by Preynat between 1971 and 1991 are to receive an unspecified amount of compensation.” By rfi.fr

GUAM

‘Look what he’s taken from me’: the deadly toll of Catholic church sex abuse on Guam
“Roosters crow in the distance as Walter Denton gestures toward a white one-story concrete building behind a church in Agat, a village in southern Guam. ‘You know, just standing here, right behind you, that is where I was raped,’ says Denton, 56. It has been more than three years since Denton first went public with accusations that Guam’s former archbishop Anthony Apuron assaulted him(link is external), and even though he has told the story many times his voice is still heavy with emotion.” By Anita Hofschneider, The Guardian

PHILIPPINES

Priest slams crimes against, and abuse of, children
“A Catholic priest said the sins and crimes committed against children are crimes that cry out to heavens for justice(link is external). Father Melvin Castro of the Diocese of Tarlac said this on the heels of a study by the International Justice Mission stating that the Philippines has become the world’s largest known source of online child sexual exploitation with parents and relatives the ones responsible for facilitating the abuse in nearly all cases.” By Leslie Ann Aquino, Manila Bulletin

POLAND

Polish priests defy bishops and pedophilia scandal
“The documentary ‘Hide and Seek’ by Marek and Tomasz Sekielski, which was watched by almost 7 million people on YouTube within a week, continues to make waves in Poland. The film tells the story of two brothers who were sexually abused by a priest in the diocese of Kalisz in central Poland in the 1990s(link is external). They were 7 and 13 years old at the time. The documentary makes it clear that the local bishop, Edward Janiak, knew about the abuse and swept the scandal under the carpet. The filmmakers uncovered dozens of other cases in the diocese as well.” By Deutsche Welle

SOUTH KOREA

Bishop apologizes for priest’s sex abuse after 23 years
“Bishop John Baptist Jung Shin-chul, head of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Incheon, issued a statement apologizing for a priest’s sexual abuse(link is external) of students of a Catholic university about 23 years ago. The sexual abuse cases were made public recently through an investigative TV program. In a statement uploaded on the website of the Diocese of Incheon, the bishop said he was deeply sorry for letting such an inappropriate incident happen, confirming the media report was true.” By Park Ji-won, The Korea Times

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Australian bishops’ report advocates major changes to church governance / National Catholic Reporter

Revelations of clergy abuse and cover-up, the authors state, showed “the widespread failure of the Church’s authorities to respond with justice and compassion” and “give a particular focus to the need for reform in practices of governance within the Catholic Church.” (National Catholic Reporter)

 A new report commissioned by Australia’s bishops and religious orders recommends a series of radical changes to the way the Catholic Church operates across the country, tackling issues as far-ranging as women’s inclusion in decision-making roles and the Vatican’s opaque process for making episcopal appointments.

“The overarching theme for the report — written as part of the local church’s response to a five-year government inquiry into institutional child sexual abuse — is how governance in the church can be more ‘co-responsible,’ or better shared among bishops, clergy and laypeople.

“Revelations of clergy abuse and cover-up, the authors state, showed ‘the widespread failure of the Church’s authorities to respond with justice and compassion’ and ‘give a particular focus to the need for reform in practices of governance within the Catholic Church.’

“The report, which encompasses seven chapters, four indices and a bibliography over its 208 pages, had originally been delivered to the Australian bishops in early May and kept confidential to allow the prelates time to digest its contents.”

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

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Explaining the Vatican’s lingering ambivalence on ‘zero tolearance’ / Cruxnow.com

“To this day, a central plank in the indictment of many abuse survivors and their advocates is that the Vatican has not imposed a universal ‘zero tolerance’ policy everywhere in the world, which is often taken as a sign of reluctance to reform.” (cruxnow.com)

“‘Zero tolerance’ for sexual abuse has become one of those notoriously elastic phrases, such as ‘change,’ ‘hope’ and ‘progress,’ which everyone claims to be for but no one seems to define in exactly the same way.

“In American Catholic parlance, however, the term ‘zero tolerance’ does have a fairly precise meaning, derived from the US bishops’ 2002 Dallas charter and norms: Permanent removal from ministry, and, in most cases, laicization, for even one justified allegation of sexual abuse of a minor.

“In that sense, ‘zero tolerance’ remains a contested point. To this day, a central plank in the indictment of many abuse survivors and their advocates is that the Vatican has not imposed a universal ‘zero tolerance’ policy everywhere in the world, which is often taken as a sign of reluctance to reform.

In part, such perceptions are rooted in memory. When the abuse scandals broke out in the United States in 2002, several Vatican officials initially dismissed them as a uniquely ‘American problem’ and described the ‘zero tolerance’ policy as a legalistic and Puritanical American overreaction.”

By John L. Allen, Jr., Cruxnow.com — Read more …

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Voice of the Faithful Focus News Roundup

April 27, 2020

TOP STORIES

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

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

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

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

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

ACCOUNTABILITY

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

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

POPE FRANCIS

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

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

CARDINAL PELL

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

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

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

McCARRICK INVESTIGATION

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

BISHOPS

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

PRIESTS

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

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

WOMEN DEACONS

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

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

WOMEN IN THE CHURCH

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

CHURCH FINANCES

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

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

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

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

VOICES

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

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

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

STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS

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

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

CLERGY SEXUAL ABUSE

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

CONNECTICUT

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

HAWAII

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

ILLINOIS

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

MISSOURI

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

NEW YORK

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

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

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

NORTH CAROLINA

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

PENNSYLVANIA

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

VIRGINIA

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

AUSTRALIA

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

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

CANADA

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

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

JAPAN

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

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Voice of the Faithful Focus News Roundup


April 10, 2020

TOP STORIES

George Pell freed after Australian court overturns sex abuse conviction
“Australia’s highest court on Tuesday (Apr. 7) overturned the sexual abuse conviction of Cardinal George Pell(link is external), the highest-ranking Roman Catholic leader ever found guilty in the church’s clergy pedophilia crisis. Cardinal Pell, 78, who was the Vatican’s chief financial officer and an adviser to Pope Francis, was sentenced to six years in prison last March for molesting two 13-year-old boys after Sunday Mass in 1996.” By Livia Albeck-Ripka and Damien Cave, The New York Times

Francis creates new women deacons commission, naming entirely different membership
“Pope Francis has created a new commission to study the ordaining of women as deacons(link is external) in the Catholic Church, the Vatican announced April 8. The new group, composed of 12 members, appears to replace the earlier study commission on the issue, which the pontiff had instituted in 2016. None of the members of the earlier group have been appointed to the new commission.” By Joshua J. McElwee, National Catholic Reporter

The Church after coronavirus: how our communities are changing (Part 1 of a survey series)
“Catholic parishes across the world are closed. Millions of Catholics have been unable to physically take part in the celebration of the Mass for weeks, and they may not be able to again for months. Simply put, the coronavirus pandemic is fundamentally changing how we do and be church(link is external). What could these changes mean for us in the long-term?” By Heidi Schlumpf, Michael Sean Winters and Joshua McElwee, National Catholic Reporter

The American Parish, Part 2
“In this second special episode on the American parish today, we talk with three writers about their concrete proposals for creating more vibrant, hope-filled parish communities(link is external). Their suggestions are simple: let more people, including women, preach; reach out to LGBTQ Catholics, and learn from their journeys; and finally, help young families, help parents with restless young children in tow make it through Mass by shortening homilies—no more than five minutes please. Plus, the Commonweal staff share thoughts about what our readers most want in parishes: robust social justice ministries, prayerful liturgies, and a sense of home.” By The Editors, Commonweal

ACCOUNTABILITY

Pell ruling prompts mixed reaction from church leaders, victims’ groups
“The Australian High Court’s decision to dismiss charges against Cardinal George Pell has been praised as a successful rendering of justice by some and emphatically denounced by others(link is external). While an immediate reaction from a number of clergy and others associated with the institutional church was largely positive, organizations that support survivors of clergy sexual abuse varied in their reactions, with some harshly criticizing the Australian judicial system and others holding firm that Pell’s case still represents progress.” By Jesse Remidios, National Catholic Reporter

Civil claims expected against Cardinal George Pell and Catholic Church despite acquittal
“The high court acquittal of George Pell is likely to be followed by a string of civil claims against the cardinal and the Catholic Church(link is external) from alleged abuse survivors and their families, lawyers say. Pell was freed from Victoria’s Barwon prison on Tuesday (Apr. 7) after the high court allowed his appeal and quashed a conviction for charges related to the alleged sexual assault of two choirboys in 1996. He strenuously denies all allegations. The father of one of the boys, who has since died, is suing the Catholic church and has said his case will continue despite the high court’s decision to overturn the jury verdict.” By Ben Smee, The Guardian

George Pell’s accuser issues rallying cry to sexual abuse survivors in wake of verdict
“The man at the heart of the failed case against Cardinal George Pell has issued a rallying cry to sexual abuse survivors(link is external). He said he would hate to think that anyone might not report to the police because of his outcome. Witness J said he was glad the tumultuous legal process was over and that while darkness was never far away, the legal saga would not define him. The man said he respected the decision and accepted the outcome. But he called on survivors not to be discouraged about going to the authorities.” By Australian Associated Press in The Guardian

WOMEN DEACONS

If Francis really wants women deacons, this seems an odd way to go about it
“’Synodality’ is the shibboleth of the Pope Francis era, and so it should be no surprise that the pontiff acted Tuesday (Apr. 7) on one of the recommendations of the recent Synod of Bishops for the Amazon by creating – for the second time in four years – a commission to study whether women might be ordained as deacons(link is external). During last October’s synod, the idea of female deacons surfaced as part of a broader discussion about finding new ways to recognize and institutionalize the contributions of women, especially in isolated rural areas where they’re often the Church’s primary catechists, prayer organizers and even leaders of communities.” By John L. Allen, Jr., Cruxnow.com

FUTURE OF THE CHURCH

Vatican statistics show decline in number of consecrated men, women between 2013-2018
“The decrease in the number of religious brothers and of women in religious orders is ‘worrying(link is external),’ according to the Vatican statistics office. While the number of religious brothers in Africa and Asia continues to increase, the number of religious brothers worldwide experienced an 8 percent drop between 2013 and 2018, while the number of women religious fell 7.5 percent globally in the same period, the Vatican Central Office for Church Statistics reported.” By Junno Arocho Esteves, Cruxnow.com

VOICES

Point counterpoint: the New York Child Victims Act
“As children, we were both abused by family members, people close to us, people we trusted. We both eventually spoke out as part of our own healing process and, more importantly, to protect other people, but it took us decades to disclose our abuse even to those closest to us. The science of trauma is clear: It takes time for survivors to come forward(link is external) and by the time we’re ready, many of us have lost the chance to pursue justice in the courts. That’s why the one year look-back window of the Child Victims Act is so important. Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic just hit pause for thousands of survivors who thought they still had time to file a civil lawsuit.” By Teri Hatcher and Tom Andriola

For the love of God (literally), stay home, be safe and pray
“Over the last two weeks, I have read a lot of disturbing articles and social media comments(link is external) decrying the widespread decisions of bishops to suspend the public celebration of liturgies and, in many cases, to close church buildings. That choice, painful as it has been for both the ecclesial leaders who had to make it and those who have felt the consequences, arose from the universal consensus of the best medical and public health experts. And yet, some Catholic media commentators and even a cardinal have proposed that churches should remain open …” By Daniel P. Horan, National Catholic Reporter

STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS

Perhaps the craziest claim by anti-SOL zealots
“The momentum has shifted from the selfish wrongdoers to the selfless innocent, from the secret-keepers to the openness advocates, from those who ignore common sense and psychology to those who understand common sense and psychology and from those who want to protect institutions and companies to those who want to protect kids and vulnerable adults … And in response to this long-overdue trend toward justice, self-serving lobbyists who are pro-arbitrary deadline, pro-secrecy and anti-victim are becoming ever-more-creative in dreaming up outlandish ‘the sky will fall!’ claims(link is external).” By Horowitz Law

CLERGY CHILD SEXUAL ABUSE

We help child sex abuse survivors break their silence when we show them support
“This month, communities across the country are gathering at local ‘Take Back the Night’ events in observance and support of those impacted by sexual violence(link is external). In the last year—as news broke about Baptist church leaders abusing children and the Pope acknowledged nuns were being abused by church leaders—sexual violence facing children proved to be an international crisis. Investigations of both found the majority of the crimes had been long standing and some even continued for decades, but little is said about support for the victims.” By Ashley Garling, Ms. Magazine

MASSACHUSETTS

Fr. Peter Gori cleared of abuse allegation, reinstated
“The Archdiocese of Boston announced March 30 that Augustinian Father Peter Gori has been cleared of an allegation of abuse(link is external) and that Cardinal Seán P. O’Malley, has returned him to active ministry. Father Gori has also been reinstated as pastor of St. Augustine Parish in Andover and will return to the parish by Palm Sunday.” By The Pilot

MISSOURI

KC diocese adds priest who died in 1950 to list of those credibly accused of sex abuse
“A priest who served in the Diocese of St. Joseph in the 1940s is the latest addition to a list of clergy deemed to have credible allegations of sexual abuse of a minor(link is external) made against them. The Kansas City-St. Joseph diocese said the allegation against the Rev. Peter Clement Vatter was substantiated by the diocesan ombudsman, the diocese’s independent review board and Bishop James V. Johnston Jr.” By Judy L. Thomas, The Kansas City Star

Missouri child abuse and neglect line sees 50% drop in calls
“The Department of Social Services (DSS) has seen a 50 percent drop in Child Abuse and Neglect Hotline calls(link is external) since March 11, 2020, roughly the same time schools began going on spring break and students have not returned due to COVID-19 shutdowns. This drop, representatives believe, is due to the lack of reports from teachers as students are out of school … Educators and child care providers make the largest number of hotline calls during the year.” By Elizabeth Orosco, Northeast News

PENNSYLVANIA

Erie Diocese suspends compensation payments due to COVID-19
“The COVID-19 pandemic has gone far beyond keeping parishioners out of church and absent from Mass in the Catholic Diocese of Erie. The diocese said the crisis has so affected its finances that the diocese has suspended payments from its special fund for victims of clergy sexual abuse(link is external). The 13-county diocese, which on March 17 suspended public Masses due to the coronavirus, has halted operation of the compensation fund for at least 90 days because of the sharp decline in the stock market related the coronavirus outbreak, the fund’s administrators and the diocese said on Tuesday (Mar. 31).” By Ed Palattella, GoErie.com

Priest steps down at Laflin parish amid abuse accusations
“The pastor of a Catholic church in Luzerne County has stepped down from his post amid sexual abuse allegations(link is external). A statement released by the Diocese of Scranton outlined multiple accusations against the Rev. James J. Walsh, pastor at St. Maria Goretti Parish in Laflin. Walsh, while denying the accusations leveled at him, resigned as pastor in lieu of being removed by Bishop Joseph Bambera.” By Kevin Carroll, Times Leader

Diocese Suspends Abuse Victims’ Compensation Program, Citing ‘Economic Turmoil’
“Among the people affected by the downturn on Wall Street are some alleged victims of sexual abuse by Catholic priests. The Diocese of Erie in northwestern Pennsylvania, identified in 2018 by the state attorney general as one of the places where clergy abuse had been especially egregious, has announced that it is suspending the processing of victim claims(link is external) in response to what it calls the “economic turmoil” brought about by the coronavirus.” By Tom Gjelten, National Public Radio

AUSTRALIA

Two new accusers say George Pell abused them when they were boys in the 1970s
“For decades, 53-year-old Bernie kept the secrets of his childhood deeply buried. As a boy growing up in a Ballarat orphanage in the 1970s, Bernie told the ABC’s Revelation program that he was abused on multiple occasions by George Pell(link is external), then a priest in the diocese of Ballarat. For years Bernie was convinced that, if he reported the abuse, he would be believed.” By Sarah Ferguson, ABC News

Redress a ‘jail free’ card for churches
“A Christian minister has labelled the national redress scheme for survivors of institutional child sexual abuse as a ‘get-out-of-jail-free card’ for churches(link is external). Pastor Bob Cotton has called for churches to be stripped of their tax-free status if they are not willing to accommodate their abuse victims. The senior pastor at Maitland Christian Church in NSW says the redress scheme’s compensation cap of $150,000 is far too low and ‘everything is weighted far too heavily in the favor of the church.’” By Heather McNab, 7News.com.au

COLOMBIA

Catholic priests in suspended in Colombia over abuse claim
“The Catholic Church in Colombia has suspended 15 priests accused of sexual abuse(link is external), the archdiocese of the city of Villavicencio said on Friday. The suspension was ‘a precautionary measure … because there is an ongoing investigation,’ priest Carlos Villabon told AFP. On February 14 a man, whose name has been withheld, accused the priests of ‘actions against sexual morality,’ according to the statement by the Villavicencio archdiocese. The archdiocese said it had informed the public prosecutor and had made itself ‘available to collaborate with investigators.’” By Agence France-Press in OutlookIndia.com

GERMANY

Justice checks suspected abuse in Catholic children’s home
“The judiciary is investigating allegations of abuse against a former Catholic children’s and youth home(link is external) in the municipality of Baiern near Munich. The public prosecutor’s office in Munich II, according to its own statements, initiated preliminary investigations against a former educator of the youth village Piusheim as well as a priest at the time.” By Steffen Heinemann, Web24News.com

GREAT BRITAIN, SCOTLAND & WALES

Catholic priest from the Fens steps down following historic child sex abuse claims
“A statement released by Bishop Alan Hopes and the Diocese of East Anglia on Friday (March 20) explains Father Michael Ryan had recently been accused of the non-recent sexual abuse of children(link is external). It says he voluntarily stepped down from his responsibilities while the investigation is ongoing and that the accusations have been reported to the relevant authorities, including police.” By Louise Hepburn, Cambridge Times

IRELAND & NORTHERN IRELAND

Compensation scheme for abuse survivors ‘must be launched’ despite lockdown
“A compensation scheme for survivors of historical abuse must be launched as scheduled next week despite the coronavirus lockdown, a campaigner has said. Jon McCourt, of the group Survivors North West, said a virtual launch could deliver progress for victims without compromising safety with a public gathering. Victims have already endured long delays in their campaign for recognition and compensation.” By Rebecca Black, Belfast Telegraph

JAPAN

Catholic bishops’ forum finds 16 cases of child sexual abuse in Japan
“The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Japan has found 16 cases of sexual abuse against minors(link is external) spanning from the 1950s to the 2010s in its internal probe of churches in the country, sources familiar with the matter said Thursday. The Tokyo-based organization has been investigating all its 16 dioceses and other convents in Japan since last May, calling for people to come forward with reports of sexual abuse regardless of when it occurred.” By Kyodo News

MALTA

St. Joseph Home sex abuse victims lose appeal for damages from church
“More disappointment for the victims of the St Joseph Home clerical sex abuse(link is external), as the Court of Appeal confirmed that their case was time-barred. Chief Justice Joseph Azzopardi, Mr Justice Tonio Mallia and Madam Justice Miriam Hayman, in a decision handed down on Friday(Mar. 27), upheld a judgment of the First Hall Civil Court, ruling the claim to be time-barred.” By Malta Today

POLAND

Polish Catholic Church liable for sex abuse compensation claims
“Poland’s Catholic Church is facing a tidal wave of compensation bills(link is external) after the country’s highest court ruled it is liable for damages for people abused by its priests and religious. The supreme court dismissed a challenge by a religious order, the Society of Christ Fathers, to a lower court ruling that it carried ultimate responsibility for compensating a woman abused by one of its priests.” By Dereck Scally, The Irish Times

More information about Voice of the Faithful is available at www.votf.org.

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Cardinal Pell’s acquittal was as opaque as his sexual abuse trial / The New York Times

“At every stage, critics argue, Australia’s courts exhibited a penchant for secrecy and insular decision-making that resembled the Catholic Church’s flawed and damaging response to sexual abuse within its ranks.” (The New York Times)

Cardinal George Pell walked out of prison on Tuesday after Australia’s highest court reversed his 2018 conviction for molesting two choirboys decades earlier — liberating the most senior Roman Catholic cleric to ever face trial over child sexual abuse.

The world may never be able to assess whether the court’s reasoning was sound.

The panel of seven judges ruled that the jury lacked sufficient doubt about the accusations against Cardinal Pell, the former archbishop of Melbourne and treasurer for the Vatican. Jurors, the court argued, ignored “compounding improbabilities” caused by conflicting accounts from the cardinal’s main accuser and other witnesses.

But no one outside the court case can test that comparison. The central evidence — the testimony of the main accuser, on which the case “was wholly dependent,” the judges wrote — has never been released, not in video, audio nor even redacted transcripts.

By Damien Cave and Livia Albeck-Ripka, The New York Times — Read more …

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