Posts Tagged Voice of the Faithful Focus News Roundup

Voice of the Faithful Focus News Roundup

February 22, 2021

TOP STORIES

Pope appoints more women to Vatican posts previously held only by men
“Pope Francis has appointed two women to Vatican posts previously held only by men(link is external), in back-to-back moves giving women more empowerment in the male-dominated Holy See. He appointed Nathalie Becquart, a French member of the Xaviere Missionary Sisters, on Saturday (Feb. 6) as co-undersecretary of the Synod of Bishops, a department that prepares major meetings of world bishops held every few years on a different topic. The previous day, Francis named Italian magistrate Catia Summaria as the first woman Promoter of Justice in the Vatican’s Court of Appeals.” By Reuters on NBC News

New York’s Catholic church leaders control billions outside the reach of abuse survivors
“The Catholic bishops of New York sold a lucrative insurance business they controlled and stored the proceeds in a foundation they also administer, keeping billions out of the reach of survivors of childhood sexual abuse(link is external). The move occurred in 2018, with the church selling its Fidelis Care insurance company and moving $4.3 billion of the proceeds into the new Mother Cabrini Health Foundation. At the same time, the Child Victims Act in New York was gaining momentum in the Legislature, a measure that the church had lobbied against for more than a decade.” By Edward McKinley, Albany Times Union

Pope again updates Vatican legal code amid scrutiny, probes
“Pope Francis has made another set of changes to the Vatican City State’s legal code, which has come under heightened scrutiny and criticism as Vatican prosecutors seek to crack down on financial crimes and mismanagement(link is external) by Holy See monsignors and money managers. In a new law published Tuesday, Francis made two modifications to criminal trial procedures when defendants don’t show up, one of which allows their lawyers to defend them fully even in absentia.” By Nicole Winfield, Associated Press

St. Louis Archbishop Rozanski accused of covering up clergy sex abuse at previous post
“A civil lawsuit filed in Springfield, Massachusetts, alleges St. Louis Archbishop Mitchell T. Rozanski was part of ‘abhorrent attempts’ to protect the reputation of a now disgraced Roman Catholic bishop while at his previous post in the northeast(link is external). The plaintiff, named John Doe in court records, had already claimed that the late Springfield Bishop Christopher J. Weldon sexually abused him in the 1960s when he was an altar boy. Now he alleges he was also harmed by the alleged cover-up of the abuse decades later when he first started reporting it to the diocese in late 2014.” By Jesse Bogan, St. Louis Post-Dispatch

ACCOUNTABILITY

Kansas Catholic bishop under investigation by KBI for alleged sexual abuse of a minor
“Kansas’ top law enforcement agency is investigating an allegation of sexual abuse of a minor against Roman Catholic Bishop John B. Brungardt of Dodge City(link is external), the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas announced Monday (Feb. 8). ‘An investigation conducted by the Kansas Bureau of Investigation (KBI) is under way,’ the archdiocese said in a statement published in The Leaven, its official newspaper. ‘Bishop Brungardt denies the allegation and is cooperating fully with the KBl.’” By Judy L. Thomas, The Kansas City Star

POPE FRANCIS

Opposition to Francis rooted in opposition to Vatican II
“At the end of January, Pope Francis delivered an important address to participants in a meeting of the National Catechetical Office of the Italian Bishops conference. It warrants attention from all the local churches because it shows, I think, why the opposition to Francis is rooted in the desire to put the Vatican II toothpaste back into a pre-conciliar tube(link is external). In the address, the pope presented an understanding of catechesis that is so far from the dry appeals to chapter and verse that tend to characterize a certain kind of apologetical, conservative Christianity.” By Michael Sean Winters, National Catholic Reporter

PRIESTS

Catholic priests accused of sex abuse increasingly use defamation lawsuits to fight allegations
“As clergy abuse lawsuits proliferate across the U.S., a growing number of priests who say they were falsely accused are pushing back(link is external) — by suing their accusers, investigators and even church officials. The list includes the Rev. Roy Herberger of the Catholic Diocese of Buffalo, New York. Last year, he filed a defamation case against a 42-year-old man who said the priest had assaulted him as a boy. The diocese cleared Herberger after a six-month investigation, but the experience was devastating, he said.” By Deena Yellin, NorthJersey.com

WOMEN’S VOICES

Women’s voices necessary for genuine discernment at synods
“The good news: Pope Francis named Xaverian Sr. Nathalie Becquart as undersecretary to the Vatican’s office of the Synod of Bishops, possibly with voting rights. The other news: the second undersecretary named, Augustinian Fr. Luis Marín de San Martín, will become a bishop. The more things change. … Still, it is important to have a woman’s voice near the top(link is external), and the fact that Sr. Becquart will likely have a vote makes an important statement about the role of the nonordained.” By Phyllis Zagano, National Catholic Reporter

Nun says her Vatican appointment means ‘clericalist mindset is changing’
“A French nun who could potentially be the first woman to cast a vote in the Synod of Bishops said Wednesday (Feb. 10) that her appointment is evidence the ‘clericalist mindset is changing’(link is external) as more and more women assume high-level decision-making responsibilities in the Catholic hierarchy. Sister Nathalie Becquart told journalists that Pope Francis has been underlining the importance of including women in the decision-making processes, helping move the Church from a clericalist attitude towards a more synodal one.” By Inés San Martín, Cruxnow.com

Pope’s move for women’s rights anything but a token gesture
“In what’s being hailed as a demonstration that Pope Francis is in earnest about empowering women within ecclesiastical structures(link is external), on Friday (Feb. 5), for the first time ever, the pontiff named a woman as the Promoter of Justice for the Appeals Court of the Vatican City State. In effect, the Promoter of Justice functions like a District Attorney in the United States, making the case for a criminal charge in front of the justices of the Vatican tribunal whenever a conviction comes up for appeal.” By John L. Allen, Jr., Cruxnow.com

Women Religious, Women Deacons Q&A: Why would the ministry of women religious/women deacons be beneficial?
“Francis’ repeated calls for a ‘more incisive female presence’ in church leadership have met uneven implementation around the world(link is external) as well as at the Vatican. There are possible positions open to laypersons that might allow women — if appointed — to have a ‘more incisive presence’ in the church. These are typically administrative positions and, at the Vatican at least, can be limited to five-year terms. Again, women can be appointed to some positions, and women’s viewpoints can make a difference, but only if they are considered. Depending on the Vatican office or diocesan structure, a woman is too often at risk of being ornamental and eliminated from actual decision-making.” Last is a series of five by Phyllis Zagano, Global Sisters Report, National Catholic Reporter

VATICAN

Priest in Vatican youth seminary trial denies abuse claims
“An Italian priest denied Wednesday (Feb. 10) that he sexually molested a fellow altar boy when both were teenagers at the Vatican’s youth seminary(link is external), taking the stand for the first time in a criminal trial over alleged abuse within the Vatican walls. The Rev. Gabriele Martinelli told the Vatican tribunal that the allegations against him were unfounded and implausible. He said they were the fruit of divisions in the seminary as well as ‘jealousy’ among former seminarians that he was eventually ordained a priest.” By Nicole Winfield, Associated Press

CHURCH FINANCES

Envoy’s case confirms culture, not law, is real roadblock to reform
“In virtually any reform effort, there are usually two targets, one of which is obvious and relatively easy to tackle if there’s the will to do it, the other far more elusive and resistant to change. The first of those targets is outright, blatant corruption, and the other is formed by cultural assumptions and patterns of behavior that aren’t generally perceived as criminal or even immoral. It would seem that Pope Francis’s financial reform of the Vatican has reached that second stage(link is external), and it’s an open question whether it will succeed and how many other contretemps may erupt along the way.” By John L. Allen, Jr., Cruxnow.com

Sitting on billions, Catholic dioceses amassed taxpayer aid
“Scores of Roman Catholic dioceses in the U.S. had more than $10 billion in cash and other readily available funds when they received at least $1.5 billion from the nation’s emergency relief program(link is external) for small businesses slammed by the coronavirus, an Associated Press investigation has found. The financial resources of several dioceses rivaled or exceeded those available to publicly traded companies — like Shake Shack and Ruth’s Chris Steak House — whose participation in the Paycheck Protection Program triggered outrage last spring.” By Reese Dunklin and Michael Rezendes, Associated Press, in National Catholic Reporter

VOICES

A cardinal in the dock would mark real reform in Vatican justice
“From the outside, the commonplace assumption about the Vatican’s system of criminal justice probably is that it’s too lenient, because, as people would see it, the system boils down to Vatican personnel policing their peers and thus, many likely assume, the temptation is to go easy. Insiders, however, have long felt it’s precisely the other way around. The whole point of Vatican tribunals, as they rather cynically perceive it, is to deliver lower-level scapegoats to insulate senior figures from culpability(link is external), so the system is stacked in favor of the prosecution.” By John L. Allen Jr., Cruxnow.com

Legislation needed to help victims of child sexual abuse
“We’ve been told by thinkers and self-help gurus through the years that mistakes can be a source of learning, inspiration and growth(link is external) that we shouldn’t fear them, and we should courageously move on from them. Advice along these lines has undoubtedly been ricocheting through the mind of now-departed Pennsylvania Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar in recent days. Boockvar fell on her sword and resigned last week after a mistake the State Department made that had the distinction of being both trivial and exceptional.” By Editorial Board, Observer-Reporter

STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS

House Sponsors Hope Derailed Sex Abuse Survivor Rights Amendment Will Get Back On Track
“A proposal to give childhood sexual abuse survivors in Pennsylvania two more years to sue after the statute of limitations has expired(link is external) is getting another chance in the state legislature. The measure would have amended the commonwealth’s Constitution, but its years-long approval process was set to start over when the Department of State revealed this week it failed to advertise the amendment last year, as required by the Constitution.” By Sam Dunklau, WSKG-FM National Public Radio

State agency bungles ballot referendum for child sex victims
“Some victims of child sexual abuse might have to wait two years or more to pursue legal claims because of a major bureaucratic bungle that prompted angry denunciations across the political spectrum Monday (Jan. 29) and the resignation of Pennsylvania’s top state elections official. A proposed state constitutional amendment allowing lawsuits over decades-old claims — prompted by investigations into child sexual abuse allegations inside Pennsylvania’s Roman Catholic diocese(link is external) — wasn’t advertised as required and so cannot appear on the ballot this spring, the Wolf administration disclosed Monday (Jan. 29).” By Mark Scolforo, Associated Press

Abuse survivors and advocates push emergency measure for May ballot
“A bipartisan team of Pennsylvania lawmakers will invoke a rare emergency provision of the Pennsylvania Constitution, seeking to restore a constitutional amendment ballot question long sought by victims of child sex abuse(link is external). An administrative error by the Department of State, discovered late last month, prevents the question from appearing on the May 18 ballot. The proposed amendment gives child sexual abuse victims a retroactive two-year ‘window’ in which to file civil lawsuits, no matter how long ago the alleged abuse occurred.” By Deb Erdley, TribLive.com

CLERGY SEXUAL ABUSE

Charity says assault allegations against founder ‘plausible’
“International charity Aid to the Church in Need said it found ‘very plausible’ the claim that its founder, the late Fr Werenfried van Straaten, had sexually assaulted a former employee(link is external) in the 1970s. The charity, which supports Christians suffering under persecution or extreme poverty, confirmed in a statement last week that the victim came forward with the allegation in 2010 and that preparations for a sainthood cause for Fr van Straaten stopped at the time. ‘The leadership of the charity took the accusation very seriously. It immediately sought out the person concerned and, in a personal meeting, listened to her. Her portrayal of the incident seemed very plausible,’ ACN said in the statement published after Christ und Welt, a supplement of the German newspaper Die Zeit, reported the charity had paid the woman 16,000 euros ($25,000).” By CathNews.com

CALIFORNIA

New Diocese of Oakland sex abuse lawsuit reveals seminaries as a hot bed of abuse
“New revelations of disturbing sexual abuse at a seminary are coming to light(link is external) after a sexual abuse lawsuit against the Diocese of Oakland settled last year. According to a local NBC affiliate, “The accusations come from a former seminarian, 28, who had previously alleged in 2019 that he was raped by Livermore priest Fr. Michael Van Dinh three years ago. He does not wish to be identified, so NBC Bay Area is calling him John Doe.” By Los Angeles Legal Examiner

DELAWARE

Diocese of Wilmington again found in compliance with plan to deal with sexual abuse of minors
“The Catholic Diocese of Wilmington has once again been found to be in compliance with the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People(link is external), the comprehensive action plan adopted by the U.S. bishops in 2002 to effectively deal with sexual abuse of minors by members of the clergy and other church personnel. The findings are a result of a review of data collected for the 2019/2020 Charter audit period by StoneBridge Business Partners, an independent firm hired by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. The Diocese of Wilmington has been found to be in compliance in all audits including its first audit in 2004.” By The Dialog

FLORIDA

Former Jacksonville bishops failed to report sexual abuse allegations, records show
“Since the early 1990s, at least four women have repeatedly come to the Diocese of St. Augustine with complaints of how now-deceased priest William Malone molested and fondled them, impregnating at least one of them(link is external), in the 1980s. His victims were young girls, the youngest just 11 years old. The Diocese of St. Augustine told its parishioners in 2019 — for the first time — it knew of credible allegations against Fr. Malone. Church leaders didn’t specify how many victims came forward or what they knew.” By Kelly Wiley, News4Jax

ILLINOIS

Cardinal Blase Cupich demanding details on abusive order priests but won’t post findings
“Two and a half years after the latest sex abuse scandal rocked the Catholic church and prompted new pledges of transparency, the church in the Chicago region has yet to make a full accounting to the public of its problem priests(link is external). Cardinal Blase Cupich has demanded for more than two years now that Catholic religious orders that operate in his territory fully disclose to him any information on their clergy members who now face or previously have faced accusations of child sexual abuse.” By Robert Herguth, Chicago Sun-Times

LOUISIANA

New Orleans archdiocese to add clergy abuse survivor to allegation review board
“For the first time since a sexual abuse scandal erupted within the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of New Orleans decades ago, its leader is adding an abuse survivor to the panel that reviews allegations involving clergy(link is external). Archbishop Gregory Aymond announced Thursday (Feb. 11) that a clergy abuse survivor, whose identity will be kept confidential, will become part of his Independent Review Board. The board, comprised of ‘primarily lay professionals’ according to the archdiocese, reviews abuse claims to see if they are credible and then makes recommendations to the archbishop.” By Greg LaRose, WDSU-TV6 News

MASSACHUSETTS

Archives: Diocese wanted Rev. Holley out. Personal letters detailing priest’s situation obtained by T&G
“Bishop Bernard J. Flanagan in 1971 decided that one reason the Rev. David A. Holley should go into the care of Servants of the Paraclete in New Mexico or some other location operated by the order was because they would be able to find a placement for him after he completed treatment, the bishop said in a letter written at the time. Rev. Holley, denied parole last week, is now serving a 55- to 275-year prison sentence in New Mexico for sexually abusing and raping eight boys(link is external) there. Although Rev. Holley was taken in as a priest of the Worcester Diocese in 1962 and incardinated in 1967, which means he became a priest of the diocese, he proved to be problematic because of his history of sexually molesting boys.” By Kathleen A. Shaw, Telegram & Gazette

Bishop Weldon accuser files lawsuit against Springfield diocese
“A former altar boy who accused the late Bishop Christopher J. Weldon of sexual assault(link is external) — and whose claim was found to be ‘unequivocally credible’ following a review ordered by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Springfield — has filed a lawsuit seeking compensation for the physical harm he suffered in the 1960s and continued emotional distress. The plaintiff says he was between 9 and 11 years old when he was raped multiple times at multiple locations by Weldon and two other members of the clergy.” By Ray Kelly, Springfield Republican, on MassLive.com

MINNESOTA

Diocese files plan for reorganization
“The Diocese of Winona-Rochester has reached a settlement with the Creditors’ Committee representing 145 survivors of clergy sexual abuse(link is external). ‘It is my desire and hope that the compensation paid in this settlement will help the survivors heal from the pain they have felt over these many years. We must never forget the tragic anguish caused by individuals who abused their power and positions of authority. We must stay vigilant in our unwavering commitment to protect the youth in our Diocese who rely on priests, deacons, religious, and lay people to keep them safe and provide for their spiritual care.’ said the Most Reverend John M. Quinn, Bishop of the Diocese of Winona-Rochester.” By Diocese of Winona-Rochester

  • Winona-Rochester Diocese reaches $21.5 million settlement with abuse victims, By Jean Hopfensperger, Star Tribune

MISSISSIPPI

Mississippi trial delayed for friar accused of sex abuse
“A trial has been postponed until April for a former Franciscan friar accused of molesting students(link is external) in the 1990s at a Catholic school in Mississippi. Paul West had been scheduled for trial in February. His case was delayed so he could undergo a mental evaluation, The Greenwood Commonwealth reported, citing dockets on the local district attorney’s website. A Leflore County grand jury indicted West in August on two counts of sexual battery and two counts of gratification of lust. If convicted, he faces life in prison.” By Associated Press

NEW MEXICO

Catholic priest sex abuse trial to begin in December 2021
“A trial date was set in the case of the late Fr. David Holley, who allegedly sexually abused a victim in Alamogordo(link is external). New Mexico Second Judicial District Judge Daniel Ramczyk set the jury trial date for the case as Dec. 13. The complainant, listed as John Doe, allegedly was one of several of Holley’s victims in Alamogordo in the 1970s, court records state.” By Nicole Maxwell, Alamogordo Daily News

Judge: Sex abuse lawsuits can proceed against the Church
“A federal judge has rejected an attempt by the bankrupt Archdiocese of Santa Fe to block three lawsuits accusing it of transferring millions of dollars(link is external) in property to individual parishes to shield the assets from settlements in sexual abuse cases. Last week’s ruling allows lawsuits for hundreds of victims to proceed, while the archdiocese says it will file another appeal. ‘The gist of the proposed actions was that [the archdiocese] allegedly transferred to its 93 parishes most of [its] property, without consideration, and with the intent to hinder, delay, or defraud its creditors (almost entirely sex abuse claimants),” U.S. Bankruptcy Judge David T. Thuma wrote in his ruling.’” By Dillon Mullan, Santa Fe New Mexican

NEW YORK.

Diocese of Buffalo says audit shows it to be complying with youth safety procedures
“The Catholic Diocese of Buffalo says a newly-completed audit by a Rochester firm finds it is fully complying with guidelines put forth to protect children(link is external) and young people from harm. StoneBridge Business Partners looked at the years 2019 and 2020, collecting and measuring data from parishes, schools and key diocesan departments. The information collected covers topics including appropriate training, screening and hiring processes and procedures for working with victims.” By Michael Mroziak, WBFO-FM National Public Radio

PENNSYLVANIA

Former priest sentenced to 5 years’ probation in abuse case
“A former Roman Catholic priest in Pennsylvania who pleaded guilty to assaulting two altar boys(link is external) about two decades ago has been sentenced to five years’ probation. John G. Allen, 77, of York had pleaded guilty in November to indecent assault and corruption of minors in the assaults at St. Margaret Mary Alacoque Church in Penbrook between 1997 and 2002. He acknowledged having touched the children over their clothes.” By Associated Press

TEXAS

Archdiocese of San Antonio plans to update its clergy abuse list
“Two years ago, when Archbishop Gustavo García-Siller released a landmark list of priests credibly accused of sexually assaulting and abusing children(link is external), he said that apologizing once wouldn’t suffice. Two years after that defining moment, his words torment survivors of crimes that amounted to rape. None of the cases might have resulted in imprisonment, but they embroiled the Catholic Church in a global cover-up and scandal.” By Elaine Ayala, LMTonline.com

AUSTRALIA

Catholic Church pedophile networks to be mapped ‘like organized crime’ by academics
“A ‘mafia-like’ code of silence among ‘dark networks’ within the Catholic Church has begun to emerge from a world-first project mapping clerical pedophile networks(link is external), says an academic behind the project. The project is led by Newcastle sociologist Kathleen McPhillips and criminologist Jodi Death (pronounced Deeth) from Queensland University of Technology’s (QUT) law faculty. The research builds on work done by Sally Muytjens, one of Dr Death’s doctoral students, who mapped Catholic paedophile networks in Victoria.” By Giselle Wakatama, ABC Newcastle

CANADA

Supreme Court sides with London, Ont., woman suing Catholic church
“The Supreme Court of Canada has sided with Irene Deschenes, the London, Ont., woman trying to reopen her civil suit against the Diocese of London(link is external), which has tried to legally stop her for more than a decade. Thursday’s (Feb. 11) dismissal of the diocese’s appeal application marks the end of the legal road for the church, at least for now, and it means Deschenes and the church can begin renegotiating her claim. ‘It’s in the hands of the church so we will see what will happen next. If they have any compassion for the victims they created, they’d be on the phone to us by the end of the day,’ said Deschenes at a virtual media conference after the ruling.” By Kate Dubinski, CBC News

Catholic Church sued in class-action suit linked to Mount Cashel case
“A class-action lawsuit has been filed over allegations that children at two Vancouver-area Catholic schools were abused by members of the Christian Brothers(link is external) who had been transferred to B.C. from the infamous Mount Cashel Orphanage. The lawsuit says that the abuse at Vancouver College and St. Thomas More in the period from 1976 to 1995 continued a pattern of systemic child abuse at institutions run by the Christian Brothers in Canada first revealed at the Newfoundland orphanage in the mid- to late-1970s.” By Keith Fraser, Vancouver Sun

St. John’s Catholic diocese named in proposed Vancouver class action
“The legal entity of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of St. John’s has been named in a proposed class-action lawsuit involving alleged sexual abuse at schools in Vancouver where Christian Brothers taught(link is external) decades ago. The notice of civil claim was to be filed in the Supreme Court of British Columbia Monday (Feb. 8) and the local archdiocese has not had legal notification yet, according to the lawyer Joe Fiorante who hopes to get the class action certified in B.C. … Early police investigations in Newfoundland and Labrador were covered up at the time.” By Barb Sweet, The Chronicle Herald

GERMANY

Cologne Catholic sex abuse probe seen as cover-up
“Germany’s secular panel on sexualized violence against children says Cologne’s Catholic archdiocese has ‘severely damaged’ moves to own up to its abusive past(link is external). Cologne’s archbishopric ‘severely damaged’ the process of owning up to decades of sexualized violence against children in its ranks as demanded by victims and lay Catholics, a top secular German panel found on Monday. The Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse — a commission mandated by parliament since 2016 to probe cases across German society — decried the diocese’s own internal review, saying this must be done instead by outsiders.” By Deutsche Welle

German archbishop under fire over clergy sex abuse report
“The head of the German Bishops’ Conference has criticized the handling by one of the country’s most prominent Roman Catholic archbishops of a report on past child sexual abuse by clergy(link is external). Cardinal Rainer Maria Woelki, the archbishop of Cologne, faces mounting discontent in his diocese over his decision to keep under wraps a study he commissioned on how local church officials reacted when priests were accused of sexual abuse. Woelki has cited legal concerns about publishing the study conducted by a law firm.” By Associated Press

GREAT BRITAIN, SCOTLAND, AND WALES

Christian Brothers abused children at Fife care home ‘with impunity’ inquiry concludes
“St. Ninian’s School in Falkland exposed youngsters to risks of sexual, physical, and psychological danger for almost the entire time it was open(link is external). Lady Smith’s damning conclusion of the Christian Brothers was revealed today with the publication of the Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry. She said they were the perpetrators who would ‘pursue their abusive practices with impunity.’ And her view of St Ninian’s School in Falkland was ‘depressing.’ and that abusive Brothers had ‘unrestrained access’ to vulnerable children.” By Allan Crow, Fife Today

Victim speaks out after abusive priest sentenced
“The victim of a priest sentenced to serve more than a decade in jail for child sexual abuse has attacked the Archdiocese of Birmingham for trying to dissuade him from reporting the assaults to police. Last week, Fr Joseph Quigley was jailed for 11 years and six months for sexually and physically abusing a young man(link is external). At one stage he locked him in the crypt of a church as a punishment for supposed wrongdoing.” By Catherine Pepinster, The Tablet

Catholic brother allowed to live by school had been charged with abuse of seven victims
“A Catholic brother who was allowed to live on school grounds was the former head of a school accused of abusing multiple children(link is external). The man spent several years living in France before moving onto accommodation connected to St Francis Xavier’s (SFX) College in Woolton. The ECHO has since learned that the man, a member of the French Catholic order the Brothers of Christian Instruction, was charged with 10 counts of indecent assault against seven victims, some under 13, at a school outside the Merseyside area.” By Jonathan Humphries, Liverpool Echo

GUAM

Vatican removed as defendant in Guam clergy sex abuse case
“The nephew of former Guam Archbishop Anthony Apuron removed the Holy See, or the Vatican, from the list of defendants in his clergy sex abuse case(link is external). Mark Apuron, through attorney Delia Lujan Wolff, filed a ‘notice of voluntary dismissal without prejudice’ of all claims against ‘Defendant Holy See, State of the Vatican City, its instrumentalities and/or agents.’ A dismissal without prejudice means the matter is not dismissed forever, and can be brought to court again.” By Haidee Eugenio Gilbert, The Guam Daily Post

MALTA

The long shadow of clerical abuse
“The Church has always been a key focal point in Maltese life and culture. Precisely because of its importance and dominance, and not just in Malta, the issue of clerical sex abuse has only begun to fully surface in recent decades(link is external). Evidence from countries which have had extensive experience of clerical abuse suggests that it is far more widespread than formal reporting would suggest. Experience to date indicates that victims are extremely slow to come forward while Church and state are notoriously slow to acknowledge the issue and society at large is significantly reluctant to even discuss it.” By Times Malta Editorial Board

Sex abuse in the Church; majority of victims don’t report cases, says expert
Victims of child and adolescent abuse rarely report their abuse, meaning many perpetrators are still within the community(link is external), a 2000 study by psychologist Mariella Dimech of 80 people with drug problems had found at the time. ‘Numbing The Pain’ focused on the link between child and adolescent abuse and drug addiction by following 80 people who had drug problems over time – 90% of these vicims had been abused during childhood and adolescence.” By Laura Calleja, Malta Today

POLAND

Poland’s Catholic church accused of failing to take action against paedophile priest for 25 years
“The Catholic church in Poland has been accused of failing to take decisive action against an accused pedophile priest for 25 years(link is external) after first being made aware of the allegations. The claims, broadcast in a new television report on Monday (Feb.15), are the latest revelations regarding the church’s alleged failure to properly investigate child sex abuse by clergy. In some instances, the institution has been accused of deliberately covering cases up and protecting perpetrators.” By NotesfromPoland.com

SPAIN

Madrid archdiocese provided support for 85 abuse victims in 2020
“The Archdiocese of Madrid provided support services for 85 victims of abuse in 2020, 75 of them direct victims and 10 who were family members(link is external). The 85 victims received free psychological care and listening sessions offered through the Repara Project for the prevention of abuse and care for victims, launched in January 2020. Altogether, the Repara Project provided free 400 psychological care and listening sessions in its first year of operation.” By Catholic News Agency

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Voice of the Faithful Focus News Roundup

February 8, 2021

TOP STORIES

Francis: ‘No concession’ to those who deny Vatican II teachings
“Pope Francis on Jan. 30 urged those charged with passing on the principles of the Catholic faith to consider the teachings of the Second Vatican Council as sacrosanct(link is external), saying that to be Catholic one must adhere to the reforms brought about by the landmark event. ‘You can be with the church and therefore follow the council, or you can not follow the council or interpret it in your own way, as you want, and you are not with the church,’ the pontiff said in a meeting with a group of catechists connected to the Italian bishops’ conference.” By Joshua J. McElwee, National Catholic Reporter

In came Latin, incense and burned books, out went half the parishioners
“Religion scholar Maria Lichtmann felt a strangeness overcome St. Elizabeth of the Hill Country Parish in Boone, North Carolina, four years ago. Fr. Matthew Codd, the then-pastor at St. Elizabeth’s, was joined by a group of seminarians who went through the church’s theology library and removed books deemed heretical, including those of spiritual writers Henri Nouwen and Thomas Merton. The books were later burned, she was told by a parish staff member(link is external). Lichtmann, a retired religious studies professor at Appalachian State University, left the region in part, she told NCR, because of the changes in the parish. She now lives in Georgia.” By Perter Feuerherd, National Catholic Reporter

Joy, frustration and humor: reactions to Vatican law change on lectors, altar servers
“”Am I the only one who is like: wait, women aren’t explicitly allowed to be lectors and altar servers before this?” Flora Tang wrote on Twitter Jan. 11. She was not, in fact, the only one. (For starters, more than 30 people liked her tweet). In the wake of Pope Francis’ announcement Jan. 11 that officially opened altar serving, lectoring and eucharistic ministries to all ‘lay persons(link is external),’ rather than just men, Catholic organizations and individuals expressed a mix of emotions, including joy, disappointment and a bit of wry humor — or just plain surprise. Some saw the move as a positive step that more fully recognizes women’s roles in the church.” By Madeleine Davison, National Catholic Reporter

Lots of Politics, Little Legitimacy: The USCCB needs an ecclesial and theological vision
“The second Catholic president of the United States is the first to hold office in the midst of an American intra-Church crisis. John Kennedy never had to deal with the kind of conflict currently roiling the USCCB or the opposition of so many bishops to the papacy(link is external). But Joe Biden takes office just as the situation inside the U.S. Catholic Church becomes reminiscent of the Americanist controversy of the late nineteenth century. What divided the bishops then were the warnings put forth by Leo XIII in Longinqua oceani (1895) and Testem benevolentiae (1899)—namely, admonitions against embracing the ‘American’ models of religious liberty and separation of church and state. New York Archbishop John Corrigan sided with the pope, against St. Paul Archbishop John Ireland and his allies, whom Leo ultimately disavowed for their ‘Americanist’ views. The split had long-term effects on the Church.” By Massimo Faggioli, Commonweal

Women’s Work: The pope makes it harder to keep women out of liturgy
“It must be difficult for a mainstream journalist covering the Vatican beat on days like January 11, when Pope Francis’s motu proprio, Spiritus Domini, was announced. How to convey the significance of a tweak to canon law that clarifies women’s eligibility to be lectors and acolytes at Mass(link is external)? Aren’t they…already doing those things? Pity the reporter who must quickly explain the existence of ‘stable ministries’ in the Church, and the now-obscure practice of formally instituting lay men into those roles … It’s no wonder so many outlets framed the news in terms of what hadn’t happened: ‘Pope says women can read at Mass, but still can’t be priests’ ran a typical headline.” By Mollie Wilson O’Reilly, Commonweal

ACCOUNTABILITY

Australian police find no crime in Vatican money transfers
“Australian police said Wednesday (Feb. 2) they found no evidence of criminal misconduct in money transfers from the Vatican that a financial agency mistakenly inflated(link is external) by almost $1.8 billion and fueled corruption speculation. Australian Federal Police investigated the transfers to Australia that the country’s financial intelligence agency, Austrac, reported to the Senate in December amounted to $1.8 billion over six years.” By Associated Press in Star Tribune

Catholic Church: German bishops’ summit considers women and lay roles as answer to abuse crisis
“Germany’s Catholic bishops will resume discussions this week to plan the Synodal Path, a set of conferences slated to address controversial questions such as women’s roles and LGBTQ acceptance, even as the country faces yet another scandal of sexual abuse by clergy. Many churchmen believe that the social questions and the abuse crisis are related(link is external). ‘The abuse crisis hurts the church very deeply,’ Rev Martin Maier, a Jesuit priest and former editor at the German Catholic magazine Voices of the Time (Stimmen der Zeit), told Religion News Service. ‘One of the goals of the Synodal Path is to restore trust, which is crucial and vital.’” By Claire Giangravé, Religion News Service, in Sight Magazine

A Vanishing Priest, a Wall of Secrecy and a 25-Year-Old Abuse Case
“Thirty-odd years ago, 8-year-old Timothy Schlenz spent every Saturday being tutored on the sacraments at a Manhattan church. It was there, he said, that he was regularly abused. Only years later did Mr. Schlenz come to understand that Father Jones had abused him. He wanted to press charges, though by then the statute of limitations had passed. But the New York State Child Victims Act, which allows for victims to file civil lawsuits against their abusers regardless of how long ago the abuse occurred, has given Mr. Schlenz a chance to make his case(link is external).” By Jenn Morson, The New York Times

Michael McDowell: Church, State and society all owe redress over homes
“A somewhat fractious debate has emerged on whether responsibility, legal or moral, for the awful neglect and ill-treatment of Ireland’s unmarried mothers and their children lies with the State, the churches, or with society at large. It is a combination of all three. A duty of acknowledgment of responsibility and of redress lies with all three.(link is external) The state is an emanation of society; the churches were integral parts of that society. Our church-dominated society perpetrated this terrible mistreatment of its weakest and most vulnerable.” By Michael McDowell, The Irish Times

Pope Francis

Clergy must remain united with faithful, not become elitist, pope says
“Members of the clergy should always remember they are part of the people of God and not an elite group that stands above the faithful(link is external), Pope Francis said. In a video message sent Jan. 24 to Peruvian Bishop Miguel Cabrejos Vidarte of Trujillo, president of the Latin American bishops’ council, also known as CELAM, the pope said the council’s upcoming meeting with the laity highlights the importance of remaining ‘together with the people of God.’ By Junno Arocho Esteves, Catholic News Service, in Catholic San Francisco

BISHOPS

Sunday Mass in every church to become a thing of the past, Dublin Archbishop says
“Dublin’s new Catholic Archbishop has said celebration of Sunday Mass in every church will become a thing of the past and a declining priesthood will require a greater role for lay leadership(link is external). In a interview on the day of his formal installation, Archbishop Dermot Farrell set out the current state of his diocese in numbers , 197 parishes served by 350 active priests with an average age of 70. He said there was now a need to reorganize parishes both in terms of how they are divided out and the possibility of lay leadership.” By Patsy McGarry and Mark Hilliard, The Irish Times

Bishops throw cold water on the most Catholic inauguration in history
“Apparently, the leadership of the U.S. bishops conference, before it had even heard the speech, chose to range itself among those unwilling to ‘come together to carry all of us forward(link is external).’ Los Angeles Archbishop José Gomez, president of the conference, issued a churlish statement … The statement contained two big fat lies at its heart … The worse lie came when Gomez said, “Catholic bishops are not partisan players in our nation’s politics.” By Michael Sean Winters, National Catholic Reporter

WOMEN IN THE CHURCH

Leading nun says decision-making shouldn’t be a matter of ordination
“One of the Catholic Church’s most prominent nuns has said the push for women’s priestly ordination in the Catholic Church points to a deeper question that needs to be asked and stressed the need to separate ordained ministry from decision-making(link is external). ‘I think there’s a bigger question, which is really the discernment of the ministries that are needed in the Church and in the world today,’ said Sister Patricia Murray, a member of the Institute of the Blessed Virgin Mary and secretary general of the International Union of Superiors General (UISG).” By Elise Ann Allen, Cruxnow.com

The larger dimension of the pope’s new document on women and ministry
““Spiritus Domini” is the latest moment in a long-term process to de-clericalise the Catholic Church. Pope Francis’s little document Spiritus Domini on allowing women to be officially invested with the lay ministries of lector and acolyte is a most welcome development(link is external). It is a very interesting small brick in his larger pastoral edifice dedicated to implementing the reforms mandated over half a century ago by the Second Vatican Council (1962-65).” By Thomas O’Loughlin, Catholic Outlook

WOMEN DEACONS

Women Religious, Women Deacons Q&A: Who could be the general superior?
It is a documented fact that women, including members of abbeys and monasteries, were ordained as deacons(link is external). The misconception that the ordination of women deacons was ‘only’ the ceremonial appointment of an abbess ignores both the fact of their sacramental diaconal ordinations and the fact of their abbatial consecrations, which gave jurisdictional powers and authority. In some liturgies, the two nominations are collapsed, but without question some abbesses were ordained as deacons and, in fact, had territorial jurisdictional authority equivalent to that of bishops within their abbey and monastery territories.” By Phyllis Zagano, Global Sisters Report, National Catholic Reporter

VATICAN

Vatican says allegations against Wyoming bishop can’t be proven
“A Vatican investigation has exonerated retired Bishop Joseph Hart of Cheyenne, Wyoming, on seven accusations of sexual abuse towards minors, while five other accusations ‘could not be proven with moral certitude(link is external),’ the diocese announced in a statement Monday (Jan. 25). The decree came from the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith (CDF) – the Vatican office responsible for processing clergy sex abuse complaints. However, the CDF issued a canonical rebuke to Hart for ‘his flagrant lack of prudence as a priest and bishop for being alone with minors in his private residence and on various trips, which could have been potential occasions endangering the ‘obligation to observe continence’ and that would ‘give rise to scandal among the faithful,’’ according to the diocese statement.” By John Lavenburg, Cruxnow.com

CHURCH FINANCES

Despite question marks, Vatican bank verdict is still a watershed
“We’ve been down this road before, of course, but nevertheless we witnessed what’s being hailed as a landmark moment this week for financial reform in the Vatican(link is external) when a longtime former president of the Vatican Bank, along with the bank’s lawyer, were sentenced to eight years and 11 months in jail for their roles in a $70 million fraud.” By John L. Allen, Jr., Cruxnow.com

Former Vatican bank president guilty of embezzlement
“A former president of the Vatican bank and his lawyer have been found guilty of money laundering and embezzling millions of euros from property sales(link is external). According to a statement released by the Vatican yesterday (Jan. 21), Angelo Caloia, who served as president of the Institute for the Works of Religion from 1999 to 2009, and his lawyer, Gabriele Liuzzo, were sentenced to eight years and 11 months for skimming profits from the sale of Vatican properties. Giuseppe Pignatone, president of the Vatican tribunal, handed down the sentence and ordered Caloia and Liuzzo to pay a fine of 12,500 euros ($19,600) each.” By CathNews.com

VOICES

Opinion: It’s time for Colorado’s Catholic Church to take a moral inventory
“The dialogue about the need for accountability following reports of priestly abuse should also be the catalyst for examining other areas where the church presumes moral authority(link is external), including health care. Growing up in the Catholic faith, several guiding principles were instilled in me, including the sanctity of human life and dignity, that our humanity is measured by the compassion we show the poor and our most vulnerable, and that regardless of our differences, we are all God’s children. And of course, and perhaps most fundamentally, to trust in God, his plans, and in his holy church.” By Bri Buentello, The Colorado Sun

Catholic Church Sex Abuse: What Is Suitable Compensation for a Life of Trauma?
“If you had a choice between losing a limb or being psychologically traumatized your whole life, which would you choose? By ‘psychologically traumatized,’ I mean suffering debilitating lifetime depression and anxiety, having difficulty holding onto a job, not being able to enter into satisfying personal and intimate relationships, unshakeable (and unwarranted) self-blame and even being rejected by family who don’t understand consequent behavior. Many sex abuse victims struggle with substance abuse throughout their lives(link is external), undergo repeated hospitalization, attempt or commit suicide, and many without anyone knowing why they were so troubled. Many of them live in poverty or near poverty their whole lives.” By Janet E. Smith, Commentary in National Catholic Register

Port: We cannot let children be hurt so that priests can keep their vows
“If your religious or political beliefs require you to stay silent when a child is in harm’s way, it’s time to change those beliefs … Though I am not religious myself, I have a well-established history of supporting religious liberty. It saddens me to see the religious liberty argument invoked to protect people who are harming children(link is external). Americans are already losing faith in their cultural institutions, from the government to the news media to organized religion. Arguing that religious leaders shouldn’t be required to report child abuse because of “religious liberty” isn’t going to help with that trend.” By Rob Port, Inforum

Joe Biden, the pope and the looming schism in America’s Catholic Church
“The new president of the United States of America is a Catholic — only the second Catholic to be elected to America’s highest office after John F. Kennedy in 1960. But in recent times, a significant change in the US has seen the Catholic Church(link is external) becoming the country’s single largest community of faith … The country has no problem with [Biden] being Catholic, but a not insignificant segment of the Catholic Church in the US — from among its bishops, its clergy, and its faithful — has a problem with his brand of Catholicism.” By Deutsche Welle

STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS

A Pa. Dept. of State error means some sex-abuse victims will again have to wait for justice
“Pennsylvania’s top election official will resign after her agency made a mistake that will delay a statewide vote on whether survivors of decades-old sexual abuse should be able to sue the perpetrators and institutions that covered up the crimes(link is external). Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar, who oversaw a tense and difficult presidential election in the battleground state, will resign Feb. 5, Gov. Tom Wolf announced Monday (Feb. 1).” By Angela Couloumbis, Philadelphia Inquirer

AB218: California Catholic bishops fighting 2019 clergy sex abuse law
“Most California Roman Catholic bishops are asking a judge to throw out a 2019 law that allowed accusers of clergy sexual abuse to sue even if they were molested decades ago(link is external). Motions filed this month in southern and northern superior courts ask judges to rule Assembly Bill 218 unconstitutional. Among the arguments was the assertion that the amount of time that had passed could make it harder for the defense to gather evidence.” By Robert Jablon, Associated Press, in The Mercury News

Pa. House passes measure to allow voters to create a window for child sex abuse victims to go to court
“Pennsylvania on Wednesday (Jan. 27) stepped closer to paving the way for adults who were sexually abused as children to seek recourse in court against their predators. By a vote of 187-15, the state House of Representatives passed a measure that could lead to a temporary lifting of expired statute of limitations for some abuse victims, allowing them to file civil suits.” Ivey DeJesus, By PennLive.com

Abuse amendment gets second go
“A Senate committee moved quickly Monday (Jan. 25) to start the second round needed to pass a state constitutional amendment to open a two-year retroactive window for lawsuits by child abuse survivors(link is external). The Judiciary Committee voted unanimously to approve Senate Bill 8, which addresses fallout from a 2018 statewide grand jury report that examined decades of child sexual abuse and cover-ups in six Catholic dioceses in Pennsylvania.” By Roger Swift, Altoona Mirror

CLERGY SEXUAL ABUSE

Dilemma at heart of sex abuse claims
“We can’t guess at the truth, and shouldn’t try. All the public can do is wait for the case to resolve itself, which might never happen(link is external). Until then, we can look at the context in which this is occurring.

What do we know? Such accusations have exploded. In 2019, accusations of sexual abuse against Catholic clergy quadrupled, from what had been a steady 1,000 or so a year, to 4,434. The church paid out more than a quarter billion dollars in settlements that year.” By Neil Steinberg, Chicago Sun-Times

ARIZONA

Former Tempe pastor accused of child sex abuse
“A man known in his community as being devoted to God is now facing child abuse allegations(link is external). A six-month investigation led Tempe police to the arrest of 48-year-old Mario Rodriguez-Ramirez, a man who was once a pastor. Police say the abuse began in 2015, when the little girl was 9 years old. Rodriguez-Ramirez took the victim and two other children to Kiwanis Park in Tempe, police say. There, he allegedly hugged and kissed the girl when she reached the ground after going down the slide, police say.” By Andriana Loya, 12News Phoenix

Tucson Diocese being sued for racketeering over alleged sex abuse
“A federal lawsuit accuses the Tucson Diocese and Los Angeles Diocese of violating Arizona’s racketeering laws by burying allegations that some priests sexually abused children and moving those priests from parish to parish(link is external) instead of turning them over to law enforcement. This is the second major case of its kind after a recent change to state law gave sexual abuse victims more time to take their abusers and the organizations that protected them to court. Two lawsuits have been making their way through Arizona court aimed at the Corpus Christi Diocese alleging abuse by a priest who was moved to Arizona by the Diocese there.” By Jerod MacDonald-Evoy, Arizona Mirror

CALIFORNIA

New Sexual Abuse Claims Against Two Oakland Diocese Priests
New sexual abuse allegations within the Oakland Diocese are publicly coming to light(link is external) for the first time after being included in a lawsuit against the Diocese that settled late last year for $3.5 million, without any admission of liability. The accusations come from a former seminarian, 28, who had previously alleged in 2019 that he was raped by Livermore priest Fr. Michael Van Dinh three years ago.” By Candice Nguyen, Michael Bott and Mark Villarreal, NBCBayArea.com

CONNECTICUT

Lawsuit: Priest raped boy on day of his sister’s wedding
“A Catholic priest raped a 9-year-old altar boy on the day of his sister’s wedding(link is external) that the priest officiated, according to a new lawsuit against the Catholic Diocese of Bridgeport. The lawsuit, filed in Superior Court in Bridgeport, charges that the diocese knew or should have known that Father Kiernan Ahearn was unfit to be around children but continued to assign him duties that involved children.” By Associated Press

ILLINOIS

St. Sabina’s Rev. Michael Pflegerfaces 2nd allegation of child sex abuse; priest’s lawyers assail ‘false attacks’
“A second person has come forward with allegations of sex abuse as a minor by Rev. Michael Pfleger(link is external), which attorneys of the longtime St. Sabina Church pastor have called ‘false attacks … motivated by greed.’ Pfleger, one of the most prominent figures in the Catholic community in Chicago, stepped away from the Auburn Gresham parish earlier this month at the archdiocese’s request as it investigates decades-old sexual abuse allegations made by another person. The Archdiocese of Chicago’s general counsel ‘just received’ the additional allegation, a spokesperson said Sunday evening.” By Madeline Kenney, Chicago Sun-Times

KANSAS

Lawsuit accusing Kansas priest of sexual abuse in 1980s can go forward, court says
“A lawsuit alleging a Topeka priest sexually abused a boy(link is external) in the 1980s can proceed after an appeal by church officials was struck down this week. The lawsuit, which says the boy was 9 years old when a priest at St. Matthew’s Church began abusing him, was filed in Wyandotte County District Court in August 2017. The lawsuit names as defendants a priest identified in court records only as M.J. and the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas, which has authority over St. Matthew’s.” By Katie Moore and Judy L. Thomas, The Kansas City Star

LOUISIANA

Archdiocese suspends pastor of St. Peter Claver after he is accused of child rape in lawsuit
“The Archdiocese of New Orleans on Wednesday (Jan. 27) suspended the pastor of St. Peter Claver Catholic Church in Treme after he was accused in a lawsuit of raping a 10-year-old boy while hearing his confession(link is external) during an out-of-state retreat in 2008. The Rev. John Asare-Dankwah’s suspension will remain in effect until church authorities can complete an investigation into the allegations, archdiocesan officials said in a statement.” By Ramon Antonio Vargas, NOLA.com

Attorneys for alleged church sex abuse victims asking court to unseal deposition of accused pedophile priest
“Attorneys for alleged church sex abuse victims are fighting to get the deposition of an accused pedophile priest unsealed(link is external). Those lawyers claim the Archdiocese of New Orleans concealed almost all of Lawrence Hecker’s crimes from law enforcement. In a new court filing, lawyers for the alleged church sex abuse survivors say ‘there is more than ample evidence and support’ that both Hecker and the Archdiocese concealed multiple felonies perpetrated by Hecker against children.” By Kimberly Kurth, WVUE-TV8 News

MASSACHUSETTS

The Boston Archdiocese’s list of priests accused of abuse does not include cases settled with alleged victims
“The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Boston has paid millions of dollars in recent years to resolve accusations of sexual abuse against priests working in local parishes. Yet, the names of many of those priests are missing from the archdiocese’s public roster of clergy accused of sexually abusing children(link is external), an accounting that began a decade ago under pressure from victims. Their exclusion has angered survivors of abuse, particularly in light of Cardinal Sean P. O’Malley’s longstanding pledge to be transparent about clergy sexual abuse after decades of secrecy.” By Shelley Murphy, The Boston Globe

NEW HAMPSHIRE

Seven decades after a priest assaulted her, a Plainfield woman is still grappling with the trauma
“When trauma resurfaced in Patty Rondeau’s life 50 years ago, it came in a sleek black car rolling up to her sister’s Hartford home. The day had been beautiful; sunny and bright, just before a christening party one of her sisters was throwing. Rondeau, then in her 30s, was sitting among the lilacs and grass outside, turning the sandy dirt into small castles with her children. The arrival of the Rev. Daniel Roberts dashed the idyllic moment(link is external).” By Anna Merriman, The Valley News

NEW YORK.

Buffalo Diocese: Audit shows compliance with Catholic Church child safety charter
“The Buffalo Diocese says that an independent audit shows they were in full compliance with the Catholic Church’s child safety charter for 2019-2020(link is external). Rochester firm StoneBridge Business Partners conducted the audit, which the diocese says required extensive data collection from schools, parishes and diocesan departments, including the documentation of procedures, training conducted, and hiring practice.” By Emyle Watkins, WGRZ-TV2 News

Church deacon busted for trying to have sex with teen he met on Grindr: officials
“A church deacon was busted this week for trying to have sex with a 14-year-old boy(link is external) he met on the gay hook-up site Grindr, officials said. It turns out that Rogelio Vega, 50, of Maspeth, Queens, was actually chatting up an undercover detective posing as a youngster, according to prosecutors. ‘This defendant by all outward appearances is a church-going family man,’ said Queens DA Melinda Katz.” By Rebecca Rosenberg, New York Post

NORTH DAKOTA

North Dakota bill to close child abuse reporting loophole nixed after Catholic opposition
“A bill that would have required North Dakota clergy to report cases of child abuse and neglect learned during confession(link is external) or other private religious conversations has been withdrawn from consideration this session. Current state law presents a loophole that does not mandate that pastors, priests and other clergy report abuse to a law enforcement agency if it’s information received when acting as a spiritual advisor. The withdrawal of Senate Bill 2180 on Friday, Jan. 29, came after the Catholic Church publicly condemned the legislation as ‘draconian.’” By Inforum.com

PENNSYLVANIA

Allentown Diocese sells 171 acres to pay priest sex abuse victims
“The Allentown Diocese has sold some of its property in Lower Macungie and Upper Saucon townships to help compensate victims of clergy sexual abuse(link is external). The diocese sold 118 acres on Flint Hill Road in Upper Saucon for $3.55 million and 53 acres on North Krocks Road across from Hamilton Crossings in Lower Macungie for $7.5 million, the diocese said in a Jan. 8 news release. With the land sales, the diocese finished paying off a loan taken out to fund a compensation program for victims of clergy sexual abuse.” By Michelle Merlin, The Morning Call

VIRGINIA

Catholic Diocese of Richmond says allegations one priest found not credible
“The Catholic Diocese of Richmond announced Thursday (Jan. 28) that child sexual abuse allegations against Thomas Long, a former priest of the diocese, were not credible(link is external) and that his name will not be added to its list of clergy for which credible and substantiated allegations of child sexual abuse have been made. The allegations were part of an investigation launched in June 2020 after the diocese received an allegation of child sexual abuse against Long, who was accused of the abuse while serving at Christ the King School in Norfolk in 1986.” By Holly Prestidge, Richmond.com

AUSTRALIA

New Church protocol published for responding to sexual abuse
“A new protocol to be introduced next week provides a framework for Catholic entities across Australia to respond consistently to people raising concerns or allegations of child sexual abuse(link is external). Source: ACBC Media Blog. The National Response Protocol, which was adopted by the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference at its November 2020 plenary meeting, is the product of two years of work and widespread consultation within and beyond the Church. That consultation included engagement with victims and survivors and their advocates.” By CathNews.com

Sex abuse victim speaks out after Perth Catholic church consents to pay $2.45m compensation
“A victim who will be awarded $2.45 million in compensation for sexual abuse he suffered at the hands of a Catholic priest has spoken out about the ‘severe’ impact the abuse continues to have on his life(link is external). Perth’s Catholic archbishop consented to pay the compensation after the victim, who is now aged in his 50s, described being raped by Father Bertram Adderley in the 1970s. The landmark judgement was approved by a District Court judge last week and is believed to be one of the highest known sums paid by any Catholic church in Australia to a survivor of historic sex abuse.” By Keane Bourke and Amelia Searson, ABC News

Case highlights horror of abuse: Archbishop Costelloe
“Perth Archbishop Timothy Costelloe SDB says the case of the former altar boy who was abused by a priest in Perth in the 1970s highlighted the horror of sexual abuse and the dreadful effects it had on victims(link is external). The Church will make a record payment of $2.45 million to the survivor, agreed to after one day of trial in Western Australia’s Supreme Court. Fr Bertram Adderley, who died in the 1980s without ever being charged, abused many boys in regional WA and Perth, the survivor’s Victorian law firm Rightside Legal said yesterday (Jan. 21).” By CathNews.com

GERMANY

Priests urge Cologne cardinal to resign in sexual abuse report crisis
“Priests in Cologne’s Catholic archdiocese are demanding their archbishop resign for suppressing a critical report into clerical sexual abuse(link is external) in the western German diocese. The growing crisis in the powerful western diocese has taken on fresh urgency after claims that Cardinal Rainer Maria Woelki ignored church guidelines rather than report a friend’s sexual abuse record to Rome. The case involves a priest friend who had convictions for sexually abusing young boys in the 1970s.” By Derek Scally, The Irish Times

GREAT BRITAIN, SCOTLAND & WALES

Diocese asking for voices of church sex abuse survivors to be heard
“An independent review of all past safeguarding cases related to Church of England churches in the region wants to ensure that survivors’ voices are heard(link is external). All dioceses nationally are taking part in the Church of England’s Past Cases Review 2 including the Diocese of Lichfield, which is home to more than 500 churches in Staffordshire, Stoke-on-Trent, Shropshire and the Black Country. Lichfield Diocese was also one of seven dioceses identified as needing to carry out further work to provide an updated and comprehensive version of the first Past Cases Review published in 2010.” By James Vukmirovic, Express & Star

GUAM

Judge OKs latest legal fees of $476K in church bankruptcy case; 1-month stay ordered
“U.S. District Court Chief Judge Frances Tydingco-Gatewood on Tuesday (Jan. 26) approved $476,000 in revised legal fees and costs in the Archdiocese of Agana’s two-year-old bankruptcy case(link is external). Two days later, the judge issued an order approving stipulation for stay of proceedings and suspension of work at least until Feb. 28, 2021, except for certain matters. The judge, in her Jan. 28 order, said all parties shall make their best efforts to reduce legal fees by limiting work in the main case and the adversary proceeding case for at least a month.” By Haidee Eugenio Gilbert, The Guam Daily Post

MALTA

‘The First Time Was A Sunday’: Bursting Into Tears, Gozo Rape Victim Recalls Being Pushed Into A Confessional And Touched By Priest
“‘He used to threaten me and use force when I refused. I often tried to run away but he would hold me down. He would force me in, telling me I’m going to hell or that he was going to speak to my parents.’ These were the harrowing words of a former altar boy who was allegedly raped by priest Joseph Sultana(link is external).” By David Grech Urpani, LovinMalta.com

NEW ZEALAND

Catholic Church abuse victims: Only a fraction of them coming forward, group says
“A survivor group for people abused while in the care of the Catholic Church says only a fraction of them are coming forward. A number have spoken with the Royal Commission into Abuse in Care, but it is being seen as only the tip of the iceberg(link is external). Dr Christopher Longhurst from SNAP, Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, said many people are reluctant to come forward for fear of ridicule. ‘There is so much shame around the abuse that society sees the victim as wounded and defective and there is victim blaming.’” By Andrew McRae, Radio New Zealand

PERU

She Exposed Sexual Abuse in a Catholic Kids Camp. Now She’s Facing a Prison Sentence
“When reporters at the Boston Globe exposed child sex abuse within the Catholic Church, their investigative work was so celebrated that Hollywood made a film, Spotlight, about it. Now, after carrying out a similar crusading probe into pedophilia in a Catholic lay organization in South America, Peruvian journalist Pao Ugaz is facing jail time(link is external) and a hefty damages bill.” By Simeon Tegel, VICE World News

POLAND

Fresh cover-up claims against former Papal secretary
“A group of Polish politicians has pledged to press new accusations against Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz, former secretary of St John Paul II, after prosecutors refused to investigate TV documentary claims that he ignored and covered up abuse by priests in his Krakow archdiocese(link is external). ‘The gravity of crimes that Cardinal Dziwisz may have committed is so enormous that failure to investigate them is obviously detrimental to the public good and the private interests of victims,’ said Lukasz Kohut, a European Parliament member from Poland’s liberal Wiosna (Spring) party.” By Jonathan Luxmoore, The Tablet

SPAIN

Jesuit order in Spain apologizes for decades of sexual abuse by members
“The Jesuit order in Spain has admitted that 81 children and 21 adults have been sexually abused by 96 of its members since 1927(link is external), and has apologized for the ‘painful, shameful and sorrowful’ crimes. In a report released on Thursday (Jan. 21), the Society of Jesus, whose members often work as teachers, said most of the abuse had taken place in schools ‘or was related to schools.’ According to the document, 48 of the 65 Jesuits who abused children are dead. Four of the surviving abusers are no longer Jesuits and 13 have been prevented from working with children pending the outcome of civil or canonical cases, or have already been ordered to cease their ministry and sent to isolated Jesuit communities.” By Sam Jones, The Guardian

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Voice of the Faithful Focus News Roundup

January 10, 2021

TOP STORIES

Event series’ proposals aim to raise women’s voices in San Diego Diocese
“The 2018 Pennsylvania grand jury report on clergy sex abuse sent shock waves through the U.S. Catholic Church. For Bridget Gramme, the moment felt like a ‘call to women’ to improve the church(link is external). ‘I’m a cradle Catholic, it’s my community and my identity and my kids go to Catholic schools,’ Gramme said. ‘It’s something we really believe in and the community is so important to us. Maybe it’s time we step it up and not just sit around and let these things happen.’ Gramme is an attorney and member of the advisory board of the Frances G. Harpst Center for Catholic Thought and Culture at the University of San Diego.” By Sophie Vodvarka, National Catholic Reporter

Podcast: How 2020 changed the Vatican
“The coronavirus pandemic upended everyone’s plans for 2020—including the Vatican’s. From the first weeks of the pandemic when Pope Francis prayed in the rain in St. Peter’s Square to the London finance scandal to the new standards of transparency ushered in by the McCarrick report, it has been an unprecedented year in every way(link is external). On ‘Inside the Vatican,’ host Colleen Dulle and Vatican correspondent Gerard O’Connell recap the biggest Vatican moments of 2020. The hosts focus on three areas of change in the Vatican: transparency, missionary work and solidarity with the poor.” By Colleen Dulle and Gerard O’Connell, Inside the Vatican, America: The Jesuit Review

Australia’s Catholic bishops seek answers about mystery billions linked to Vatican
“Australia’s Catholic bishops are considering raising questions with the country’s financial watchdog authority about whether any Catholic organizations were among the recipients of billions of Australian dollars in transfers reputedly from the Vatican(link is external). AUSTRAC, Australia’s financial intelligence agency, revealed in December that the equivalent of around US$1.8 billion had been sent to Australia from the Vatican or Vatican-related entities since 2014.” By Hannah Brockhaus, Catholic News Agency

Looking ahead to 2021 in the life of the church in the U.S.
What will the new year bring in the life of the church in the United States?(link is external) As we learned last year, we never know what unforeseen events will enlighten or becloud all else. We can discern three major themes that will largely shape the year ahead: the relationship between the United States bishops and the Biden administration, the Year of the Family,(link is external) the appointments of new bishops in some significant sees, and how the church will continue to cope with COVID-19. Then, just before the end of the year, a new major theme emerged, arguably the most explosive: significant upheaval at EWTN.” By Michael Sean Winters, National Catholic Reporter

Vatican reforms finances following London property scandal
“Pope Francis has stripped the Vatican’s powerful central administration office of an investment portfolio worth hundreds of millions of euros(link is external) following a scandal linked to luxury London real estate development in Chelsea. The Vatican said that all of the financial assets of the Secretariat of State, the Holy See’s state bureaucracy, would be placed under the control of APSA, the Vatican’s existing centralized asset manager, from the start of the new year.” By Miles Johnson, Financial Times

ACCOUNTABILITY

Crisis Episode 10: Bishops’ Accountability
“This podcast series keeps coming back to the question of bishops’ accountability(link is external). Are the reforms of Vos estis lux mundi being applied in the US Church? This episode features Cardinal Timothy Dolan of the Archdiocese of New York, reporters Harriet Ryan of the L.A. Times and Christopher Altieri of the UK Catholic Herlald, and canon lawyer Tom Doyle.” By The Catholic Project

McCarrick report shows a church infected with unchecked clericalism
“The Vatican’s report on defrocked Cardinal Theodore McCarrick revealed sexual abuse of adults and minors by a Catholic cleric and its cover-up by church officials — more of the same pattern we’ve seen so often in the church, reaching to the highest levels … What’s the disease? Clericalism, sure, but other denominations have clericalism but don’t seem to have the problem of recurrent and widespread abuses of power. Rather, unchecked clericalism is at the root of the Catholic Church’s affliction. A tight-knit clerical culture defends itself, first by defining priests as uniquely Christ-like — different and better than the unanointed laity(link is external).” By Lisa Fullam, National Catholic Reporter

Germany: Catholic officials ask reporters for ‘silence’ on child abuse report
“With the Catholic Church shaken by the child abuse scandal in Germany, journalists walked out of a press event organized by church representatives on Tuesday (Jan. 5). The Archdiocese of Cologne had called for a press conference to discuss an unpublished child abuse report. Specifically, church officials were to explain issues regarding the report’s methodology. These issues, at least according to Cologne Archbishop Reiner Maria Woelki, were the reason for withholding the document from the public in its current form(link is external).” By Deutsche Welle

WOMEN DEACONS

Next archbishop of Dublin would like to see women deacons in Church
Dublin’s Catholic archbishop-elect Dermot Farrell has said he would like to see women becoming deacons in the Church(link is external). He said the biggest barrier to female priests in the Catholic Church ‘is probably tradition, not the scriptures.’ ‘Women have almost preserved the faith in the church, certainly in this country and probably beyond,’ he said in an interview before he assumes the role on February 2nd. But he expressed concern that the introduction of female priests could split the church as it had the Church of England.” By Patsy McGarry, The Irish Times

CHURCH FINANCES

Former comptroller of Catholic Diocese of Steubenville sentenced to prison for tax crimes, embezzlement
“The former comptroller of the Catholic Diocese of Steubenville was sentenced in federal court in Columbus this month for failing to pay payroll taxes(link is external) withheld from the paychecks of diocesan employees, filing false tax returns and embezzling $299,500 in diocesan funds between 2008 and 2017. David A. Franklin, 67, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court in July 2020 to one count of willful failure to account for and pay over employment tax, one count of making a false income tax return and one count of wire fraud. Franklin was sentenced to 12 months and one day in prison and two years of supervised release and was also ordered to pay $1,332,885.04 in restitution.” By Highland County Press

Vatican denies knowledge of $1.8 billion transferred to Australia
“The Vatican and the Australian Catholic Church have both denied knowledge of transfers worth US$1.8 billion which Australia’s financial watchdog says have been sent from Rome to Australia in the past seven years(link is external). ‘That amount of money and that number of transfers did not leave the Vatican City,’ a senior Vatican official with knowledge of the city-state’s finances said on Wednesday (Dec. 30). The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the Vatican would be seeking details from Australian authorities on the specific origin and destination of the money.” By Philip Pullella, Reuters

FUTURE OF THE CHURCH

Archdiocese considers mergers, closures of Niles, Morton Grove, Skokie Catholic churches
“Five north suburban Catholic parishes are waiting to hear on Jan. 21 if they will merge with another parish, close, or stay as they are(link is external). Those parishes are St. Lambert and St. Peter in Skokie; St. Isaac Jogues and St. John Brebeuf in Niles, and St. Martha in Morton Grove. The possible consolidation is part of the Archdiocese of Chicago’s ‘Renew My Church’ initiative, which the archdiocese defines on its website as a way to ‘address the challenges of our time.’” By Myrna Petlick, Pioneer Press, Chicago Tribune

VOICES

Our Views: New Orleans archdiocese owes Catholics acknowledgment, promise not to fail again
“We knew things had been bad with the Archdiocese of New Orleans’ handling of the case of George Brignac some time ago. But new reporting by Ramon Antonio Vargas of The Times-Picayune and The Advocate and David Hammer of WWL-TV shows that the diocese has — for more than a generation — been negligent at least and intentionally evasive at worst(link is external).” By The Advocate Editorial Board

Our hearts go out to victims of sexual abuse who are suffering in silence
“A teen’s allegations that she was raped and subjected to other forms of sexual abuse by someone known to her will no longer proceed in the court system(link is external). And somewhere on Guam, a 25-year-old man, Austin Joseph Palacios Quitugua, who is known to the girl, is a free man. He once stood accused of sexually assaulting the girl – who was 12 at the time – on multiple occasions, between Christmas break 2018 to July the next year, according to court documents.” By The Guam Daily Post Editorial Board

Head of German bishops, self-described conservative, calls for change
“In a wide-ranging interview, the head of the German bishops’ conference called for far-reaching changes to the Catholic Church(link is external) and criticized the Vatican’s treatment of the church in his country. ‘I would describe myself as conservative because I love this church and enjoy devoting my life and my strength to it. But I want it to change,’ Limburg Bishop Georg Bätzing told the magazine Herder Korrespondenz. His remarks were reported by the German Catholic news agency KNA.’” By Catholic News Service on CatholicPhilly.com

CLERGY SEXUAL ABUSE

Reporters storm out of press conference after Catholic officials ask for silence on child abuse report
“Journalists have stormed out of a press conference in Germany after Catholic Church officials asked for their ‘absolute silence’ on a long-awaited report into child sex abuse(link is external). A vast and comprehensive report investigating decades of alleged sexual abuse of young people at the hands of clerics and the resulting institutional cover-up in the Archdiocese of Cologne – the world’s wealthiest Catholic diocese, and Germany’s largest – had been pledged back in 2018 by Cardinal Rainer Maria Woelki.” By Andy Gregory, The Independent

ARIZONA

As deadline nears, adults flood Arizona courts with lawsuits alleging childhood sex abuse
“Hundreds of civil lawsuits by people who allege they suffered abuse as children(link is external) are being filed in Arizona’s courts as a year-end deadline looms for them to seek justice. Many of those filing are listed in court documents simply as ‘John Doe’ or ‘Jane Doe.’” By Lauren Castle, Arizona Republic

FLORIDA

Diocese of St. Augustine investigating abuse allegations against retired priest
“The Diocese of St. Augustine is investigating abuse allegations against retired priest Father David Terrence Morgan(link is external), according to a bulletin by the diocese to parishioners. The diocese said the Church reached out to law enforcement to investigate the allegations, in addition to conducting its own investigation, which the bulletin states found ‘the allegations have a semblance of truth based on an initial review, but guilt has not been determined.’” By Matthew Copeland and Haley Harrison, WTLV-TV News

Investigation: Florida was dumping ground for priests accused of sex abuse
“Investigators in the Florida Attorney General’s office have completed a two-year investigation into sexual abuse inside Florida Catholic churches(link is external). Using 267 tips to a tip line, investigators found 97 Florida priests accused of sexual abuse in Florida. The investigation did not uncover current, ongoing or unreported sexual abuse by Florida priests. Investigators found 81 priests who had been credibly accused of sexual abuse in other states, then transferred, relocated or retired to Florida, sometimes without the knowledge of the Florida churches they were being moved to.” By Jeff Butera, ABC-TV7 News

ILLINOIS

Chicago’s activist priest Rev. Michael Pfleger steps aside amid past child abuse allegation
“The Rev. Michael Pfleger has temporarily stepped down from his ministry leading the Roman Catholic Faith Community of St. Sabina amid allegations of sexual abuse of a minor more than 40 years ago(link is external). Cardinal Blase Cupich, the archbishop of Chicago, shared the news in a letter Tuesday (Jan. 5) to members of the Faith Community of St. Sabina and St. Sabina Academy, a predominantly Black parish on the city’s South Side.” By Emily McFarlan Miller, Religion News Service

LOUISIANA

Archdiocese of New Orleans, SNAP meet for first time in attempts to unify for abuse victims
“For the first time, two organizations who have been at odds amid a growing list of victims of sexual assault at the hands of Catholic clergy have come together(link is external). The Archdiocese of New Orleans and New Orleans-area advocate SNAP (Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests) have had a strained relationship ever since the list of accused priests started. Both organizations issued the following statement saying that first steps were taken to work together for victims …” By WDSU-TV6 News

MASSACHUSETTS

Former Cape pastor indicted on rape, assault and battery charges
“A grand jury returned indictments against a former Cape pastor on Friday, with multiple counts of rape and assault and battery(link is external). The Rev. Mark Hession was indicted out of Barnstable Superior Court on two counts of rape, one count of indecent assault and battery on a child less than 14 and one count of intimidation of a witness, a superior court official confirmed Monday.” By Jessica Hill, Cape Cod Times

NEW JERSEY

Priest accused of sexually assaulting parishioner denies claims but admits to having affair
“A New Jersey priest has acknowledged he had an affair with a woman who recently filed a lawsuit alleging he sexually assaulted her(link is external). The Rev. Robert L. Sinatra, of St. Padre Pio Parish in Vineland, admitted the affair in a Jan. 2 letter to parishioners, but denied that he assaulted the woman. ‘With a deep sense of embarrassment and shame, I write to let you know that in late 2018 I had a two-month affair with an unmarried woman,’ Sinatra wrote.” By Matt Gray, NJ Advance Media, on NJ.com

NEW YORK.

Diocese to hire another law firm in defending against AG’s lawsuit
“The Buffalo Diocese, which already is paying six law firms for work in bankruptcy proceedings, is looking to hire another firm to defend against a lawsuit filed by state Attorney General Letitia James in November(link is external). The diocese wants to retain the Jones Day firm as ‘special counsel’ for the lawsuit, which alleges that diocese leaders protected more than two dozen priests accused of child sexual abuse by not referring their cases to the Vatican for potential removal from the priesthood.” By Jay Tokasz, The Buffalo News

Child abuse allegations against Troy church divide family, friends, community
“‘No matter what people say negatively, it’s painful, it’s hurtful, it’s discouraging, it’s angering and it can defame the Lord’s bride, the church, most of all,’ Pastor Phil Smith, of Victorious Life Christian Church, said. His message — only God is the source of ultimate judgment and forgiveness — was typical for a sermon. But the apparent inspiration for the message on that Sunday was atypical, and it was not the enemy harming the church’s reputation, but a young woman suing them for allegedly abetting and harboring a Sunday school teacher who she says sexually abused her as a girl(link is external).” By Edward McKinley, Albany Times-Union

New sex abuse and ‘grooming’ allegations target former Staten Island priest
“Former priest Ralph LaBelle has again been accused of sexually abusing a young male parishioner on Staten Island(link is external). According to a civil complaint filed last week in Richmond County state Supreme Court, St. George, the victim was “groomed” and sexually abused between the ages of 13 and 16-years-old. At the time, LaBelle was assigned to St. Clare’s R.C. Church in Great Kills. He was there from 1979 to 1985.” By Kyle Lawson, SILive.com

NORTH DAKOTA

Investigation into clergy sex abuse in Catholic Church concludes in North Dakota
“Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem said Monday (Dec. 5) that the investigation by his office into allegations of child sexual abuse by members of the two catholic dioceses(link is external) in the state has concluded. The 18-month criminal investigation began around the time the two North Dakota Catholic Dioceses, in Fargo and Bismarck, released a list of 53 people for whom they felt allegations of child sexual abuse had been substantiated.” By Paul Jurgens, KFGO-AM 790 News

OHIO

Trial of former St. Helen’s seminarian now scheduled for May
“The trial of a Strongsville priest with Geauga County ties is now scheduled for late May, federal court records show. The priest, Robert McWilliams, 40, is facing charges of two counts of sex trafficking of a minor, three counts of sexual exploitation of children(link is external), one count of transportation of child pornography, one count of receipt and distribution of visual depictions of real minors engaged in sexually explicit conduct and one count of possession of child pornography.” By Andrew Cass, News-Herald

PENNSYLVANIA

After abuse, addiction, and recovery, Mike McDonnell works to help others
Mike McDonnell understands how victims can lose their way. He was abused by two Catholic priests, one of whom was later convicted, a dark secret that traumatized him(link is external) so much he became addicted to drugs and alcohol, two of his three marriages failed, and he stole about $100,000 from the Archdiocese of Philadelphia — a crime for which he served nearly a year in jail. But through recovery, and maintaining his Catholic faith, McDonnell, 52, has rebuilt himself as a victims advocate as he tries to help others. He’s now a local leader for the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP).” By Isabella Simonetti, Philadelphia Inquirer

Lawmakers could let voters decide whether to allow lawsuits for abuse survivors in 2021
“The chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee says that moving a bill to amend the Constitution to create a window of time for lawsuits by adult survivors of child abuse will be a top priority when lawmakers return to the Capitol next month(link is external). The bill has already passed once, but because it’s a proposed constitutional amendment, it must pass unchanged a second time before it goes on the ballot for voters statewide.” By John Finnerty, The Tribune-Democrat

SOUTH CAROLINA

Catholic Diocese of Charleston facing new lawsuit
“The Catholic Diocese of Charleston is facing a new lawsuit. Court documents filed late Monday (Jan. 4) afternoon accuse a member of the church of sexual abuse and a systematic cover up of that abuse(link is external). The charges were filed by a woman referred to as Mary Roe 1818. She alleges one of the priests, Frederick Austin McLean, repeatedly abused her and her sister when they were kids. According to the suit, the abuse took place during the victim’s formative years as a child between 1961 and 1966. Roe was part of the St. John Catholic Church and School where McLean was a priest and teacher with regular contact with children.” By Nick Reagan, WCSC-TV5 News

TEXAS

Texas Diocese Asks Court to Toss Libel Suit Over List of Accused Abusers
“The Catholic Diocese of Lubbock urged the Texas Supreme Court on Wednesday (Jan. 6) to dismiss a defamation lawsuit brought by a former deacon who claims it falsely outed him as a child molester(link is external). Texas Catholic bishops say the case threatens to uproot tenets of church autonomy enshrined in the First Amendment and open churches up to crippling liability simply for following their principles. Jesus Guerrero said he was ‘shocked, confused, hurt and I knew that it wasn’t true’ when the diocese published a list of clergy it said had been ‘credibly accused of sexual abuse of a minor’ in January 2019 and his name was on it, according to his brief with the state high court.” By Cameron Langford, Courthouse News

VERMONT

St. Joseph’s Orphanage abuse survivors disappointed in task force report conclusions
“Abuse survivors with the group Voices of St. Joseph’s Orphanage, shared stories Wednesday (Dec. 16) of what they experienced at the orphanage decades ago. Some of the group of more than 30 is sticking to their claims that children were murdered while they were being cared for. In a nearly 300 page report(link is external) released on Monday (Dec. 14), Attorney General T.J. Donovan says evidence of abuse exists, but there isn’t enough evidence to substantiate murder. Donovan also says law enforcement and the state should have investigated when the claims were first made.” By Dom Amato, WCAX-TV3 News

WASHINGTON

Seattle archbishop is stonewalling push for more transparency of church sex-abuse cases, group contends
“Their ranks include ex-federal prosecutors, a retired judge, a one-time assistant police chief, even a former priest. But a group of prominent Catholics say they still can’t get an audience with Seattle’s new archbishop in their push to address the fallout of a lingering scandal(link is external). Members of Heal Our Church, a Seattle-based alliance of practicing Catholics who seek a public review of how the Roman Catholic Church’s worldwide sexual abuse scandal secretly festered within the parishes of Western Washington, contend they’re being stonewalled by Archbishop Paul Etienne.” By Lewis Kamb, Seattle Times

WISCONSIN

A Notre Dame Academy graduate alleged abuse by priests, then died by suicide. Over 400 alumni demand answers.
“Graduates of four Catholic high schools are demanding action from St. Norbert Abbey after its leader disputed allegations of sexual abuse lodged by a fellow alumnus(link is external) who died by suicide in March. The call for change came after the Green Bay Press-Gazette published an investigation detailing the story of Nate Lindstrom, who said three Norbertine priests abused him as a teenager in Green Bay in the late 1980s. Lindstrom received $420,000 in secret payments from the Catholic order over 10 years until the abbey stopped sending checks in 2019.” By Haley BeMiller, Green Bay Press-Gazette

AUSTRALIA

Report documents steady, meaningful progress on safeguarding
“The presidents of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference and Catholic Religious Australia say their annual report to the National Office for Child Safety outlines comprehensive and sustained work across Church settings(link is external). The provision of an annual report on progress in child protection and safeguarding was one of the recommendations of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse. The Bishops Conference and CRA adopted that recommendation. They have published the Church’s third such report today (Dec. 17).” By CathNews.com

BRAZIL

Brazil archbishop investigated for sex abuse
“Police in Brazil said on Monday (Dec. 4) they were investigating the archbishop of the city of Belem for alleged sexual abuse against underage seminary students(link is external). Confirmation of the investigation came after four alleged victims of Archbishop Alberto Taveira Correa accused him of years of abuse in a sweeping investigative report aired Sunday night on Brazil’s biggest broadcaster, TV Globo. The alleged victims, who spoke on condition of anonymity, accused the 70-year-old archbishop of abusing them from 2014 to 2018, when they were between 15 and 18 years old.” By Agence France-Presse, Rio de Janeiro

Father Marcelo Rossi and Fabio de Mela defend archbishop accused of sexual assault
“In Fantasy this Sunday (Jan. 3), it was revealed that four former seminarians were accusing the House of Albert Taveira Correa, Archbishop of Belen do Par, of sexual violence. The archbishop was defended by the religious. Among them are Father Marcello Rossi and Fabio de Mello. ‘At this hour of battle we are together in prayer,’ Father Marcelo Rossi said. ‘Don Alberta has supported me many times. I would like my prayers and my commitment to do the same for him right now,’ Melo said.” By VarietyInfo.com

CANADA

Edmonton Catholic priest removed under allegations of historic sexual abuse of minor
“An Edmonton Catholic priest has been removed from public ministry in the region after an allegation of historic sexual abuse of a minor surfaced(link is external). The Catholic Archdiocese of Edmonton said in a statement Christmas Eve it removed Rev. Sylvio Lacar after he was identified by the archdiocese of Los Angeles. It says Lacar was the subject of a credible accusation of sexual assault of a minor in the Los Angeles area during the 1980s.” By Lauren Boothby, The Edmonton Journal

Vancouver Catholic Church names another three priests who abused minors
“The Archdiocese of Vancouver has named another three priests who sexually abused minors(link is external). All three men — John Edward Kilty, Johannes Holzapfel and Armand Frechette — served in at least one parish in the Archdiocese of Vancouver between the mid-1940s and early 1980s, and all three are now dead. The men were identified in a follow-up report about historical cases of clergy sexual abuse in the archdiocese, published this week.” By Glenda Luymes, Vancouver Sun

GREAT BRITAIN, SCOTLAND & WALES

Catholic priest facing sex abuse charges against boys dating back 40 years
“Father Patrick Smythe entered not guilty pleas to four charges of indecent assault when he appeared before Leeds Magistrates’ Court this week. The 77-year-old is alleged to have committed the offences against four different boys aged under the age of 16(link is external) between 1978 and 1983. Smythe, a priest with the Diocese of Leeds, appeared in court for a brief hearing and spoke to confirm his name, date of birth and address.” By Tony Gardner, Wakefield Express

NEW ZEALAND

Abuse survivors speak at redress hearing
“As the first phase of the Royal Commission into Abuse in Care’s hearing into the redress processes of faith-based institutions was about to begin on November 30 in Auckland, Catholic Church leaders made statements that they would take the opportunity to listen, learn and reflect on the experience of survivors. The first week of the two-week public hearing saw 10 survivors of abuse in the Catholic Church in New Zealand or their family members speak at the royal commission(link is external). There was one closed session in the first week. The second week was scheduled to see 14 survivors of abuse in the Anglican Church or Salvation Army institutions give their testimony. Many of the testimonies were live-streamed.” By New Zealand Catholic

PHILIPPINES

Philippines: Pedophilia and the Church
“The Philippines, despite being one of the most Catholic countries in the world, has never convicted a member of the clergy for sex abuse(link is external). And yet there are survivors who say that the abuse has been going on for years. At the end of 2018, an American priest who had officiated for forty years was arrested for pedophilia by the Philippine police and the American federal authorities.” By Arte.tv

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Voice of the Faithful Focus News Roundup

December 17, 2020

TOP STORIES

The People Should Choose Their Bishops Again
“There are a number of conclusions one could draw from reading the Vatican report on former Cardinal Theodore McCarrick. For example: that the clerical sex-abuse crisis in the Church is worse than we thought and extends to vulnerable adults. Also, that position and influence in our Church are easily bought, and that bishops lie, even to the pope, to protect other bishops. But the conclusion that encompasses all of the above is that the way we choose our bishops is deeply flawed, producing bishops who are, in turn, deeply flawed(link is external). How did things get this way, and what can be done about it?” By Nicholas P. Cafardi, Commonweal

Action plan missing from McCarrick Report can be found Down Under
“The entire Church should take seriously the proposals for ecclesial reform coming from Catholics in Australia(link is external). The solution to the sex abuse crisis in the Catholic Church hangs in the balance between these two questions: What happened? and What needs to happen? The so-called ‘McCarrick Report,’ which was compiled by the Vatican’s Secretariat of State and published on November 10, is an example of unprecedented transparency under pressure. It represents a fundamental step towards a better comprehension of what happened … But other parts of the global Catholic Church are addressing this problem with concrete proposals. The Church in Australia is one of the best examples.” By Massimo Faggioli, Catholic Outlook

Annual Report: Some U.S. dioceses improve financial transparency, others remain secretive
More U.S. dioceses published audited financial documents in 2020 than before(link is external), but more than a quarter still did not publish any audited financial reports, according to an annual financial transparency report by the lay organization Voice of the Faithful(link is external). About 70% of dioceses posted audited financial reports on their websites in 2020, up from 65% in 2019 and from 56% in 2017, according to the review. Margaret Roylance, chair of the organization’s finance working group, said she was heartened to see that many dioceses published these reports on time despite delays due to COVID-19.” By Madeleine Davison, National Catholic Reporter

Inter-American Human Rights Commission to look into clerical sexual abuse
“For the first time in its history, the Inter-American Human Rights Commission promised to defend victims of clerical sexual abuse(link is external), with cases being reported in at least 19 countries in Latin America … The Washington, D.C.-based commission is an autonomous part of the Organization of American States and is the main human rights body in the Americas. Thursday’s (Dec. 3) hearing was held via Zoom due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The commission said it was committed to using its power to demand information on cases that are not being resolved by member states.” By Inés San Martín, Cruxnow.com

DOJ probe of Catholic church abuse goes quiet 2 years later
“Two years ago, the U.S. attorney in Philadelphia joined the long line of ambitious prosecutors investigating the Roman Catholic Church’s handling of priest-abuse complaints. The Justice Department had never brought a conspiracy case against the church, despite exhaustive reports(link is external) that showed its long history of burying abuse complaints in secret archives, transferring problem priests to new parishes, silencing accusers and fighting laws to benefit child sex assault victims. U.S. Attorney William McSwain sent subpoenas to bishops across Pennsylvania asking them to turn over their files and submit to grand jury testimony if asked. The FBI interviewed at least six accused priests, court files show.” By Maryclaire Dale, Associated Press, in The Charlotte Observer

ACCOUNTABILITY

Keeping Quiet: The downside to ‘voluntary laicization’
“Pope Francis quietly laicized a priest accused of grave immorality and serious canonical crimes in 2017, rather than have him stay in the priesthood long enough to face trial. The former cleric, Peter Mitchell, was a priest in the Diocese of Green Bay, Wisconsin, when he was accused. Before joining the Green Bay diocese, he had been a priest of the Lincoln, Nebraska diocese. The case of this former cleric is closed, but the way Church authorities dealt with this man bears significant resemblance to the way in which Churchmen attempted to manage priests accused of abusing minors in the days before the crisis of leadership and governance(link is external) in the Church became a worldwide scandal.” By Christopher Altieri, Catholic Herald

POPE FRANCIS

Big business gets its wings as leaders from major U.S. companies partner with Pope Francis
“The Pope means business. Capitalism met Catholicism on Tuesday (Dec. 8), as some of the world’s biggest business leaders announced a new partnership with Pope Francis(link is external). The alliance, known as the Council for Inclusive Capitalism with the Vatican, aims to create a more inclusive, fair and sustainable economic landscape by taking pledges toward sustainable development goals focused on areas such as climate action, peace and justice, quality education and gender equality.” By Haley Messenger, NBC News

Radical truths
“A friend of mine told me that after reading Fratelli tutti he wondered how a document that is so full of obvious truisms could also be so radical. Pope Francis’s latest encyclical breaks little new ground, but the ground upon which we all stand has shifted to such an extent that talk of ‘fraternal love’ sounds both outdated and revolutionary(link is external). Part of the reason it sounds outdated is the use of gender-specific language. Would it have killed the Vatican to be more inclusive? But the encyclical also sounds utopian—in a shocking and, I think, necessary way—when set against the divisiveness and hopelessness we are currently experiencing.” By William T. Cavanaugh, Commonweal

CARDINALS

German cardinal accused of abuse cover-up turns to pope
“The Archbishop of Cologne, Cardinal Rainer Maria Woelki, has been accused of not informing the Vatican about sex abuse allegations against a priest(link is external). He’s now asked Pope Francis to review his conduct. Facing accusations of covering up an alleged sexual abuse case, Cardinal Rainer Maria Woelki asked Pope Francis on Friday (Dec. 11) to investigate. ‘In order to clarify the canonical accusations against me, I am asking the Holy Father [Pope Francis] to examine this matter,’ Woelki said in a statement issued by the archdiocese of Cologne.” By Deutsche Welle

McCARRICK REPORT

After McCarrick Report, Here’s How to Extend Safe Environment to Adults
“Ex-Cardinal Theodore McCarrick was finally brought down by credible allegations that he had sexually abused children — but as the McCarrick report reveals Church leaders could have stopped the powerful cleric’s career, and saved the lives of children, seminarians, and young priests, had they acted on allegations McCarrick had abused his power to sexually exploit young men under his pastoral care or authority(link is external). But stopping the present and future McCarricks in the Church’s midst means the People of God need to take proactive steps to educate and inform themselves about adult sexual abuse in the Church, recognizing that every adult can be vulnerable to the abuse of power for sex by clergy and lay leaders, and that protecting adults from abuse in the Church strengthens also the protection of children.” By Peter Jesserer Smith, National Catholic Register

McCarrick report shows former cardinal’s character: ambitious, brazen, untouchable
“Seventeen! That’s the most shocking number in the Vatican’s 449-page report on ex-Cardinal Theodore McCarrick. McCarrick appears to have molested 17 ‘postpubescent boys or young men’ over the course of his career(link is external) (Page 440). Some victims were as young as 12 years old. Some he molested repeatedly. Many were children in families that he knew well and visited frequently. He was trusted as a ‘member of the family.’ The Vatican report does not reveal names or discuss the individual cases. However, it does lay out his typical pattern of grooming and molesting his victims.” By Fr. Peter Daly, National Catholic Reporter

BISHOPS

Bishops respond to governance review report
“A review of governance will help shape the way the Church in Australia understands co-responsibility in its life and mission and puts it into practice, the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference has said. The Australia bishops reviewed and discussed the final version of the governance review report The Light from the Southern Cross: Co-Responsible Governance in the Catholic Church in Australia(link is external) during their recent plenary meeting. The bishops finalized their initial response to the report, which they have published today (Dec. 17). ‘A report that contains dozens of recommendations and was prepared over more than a year takes time to consider and absorb,’ Bishops Conference president Archbishop Mark Coleridge said.” By CathNews.com

Archbishop accused of failing to act on abuse appeals to Vatican
“Archbishop Stefan Hesse of Hamburg has asked the Congregation for Bishops in Rome to judge whether he is guilty of having hushed up abuse. Hesse has been accused of covering up abuse and violating canon law(link is external) by failing to report abuse to the Vatican authorities during his time as head of personnel in the Cologne archdiocese from 2006-2011. Last week the Archbishop of Cologne, Cardinal Rainer Maria Woelki, accused his two predecessors, cardinals Joseph Höffner and Joachim Meisner, both deceased, of failing to notify the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith of the abuse committed by a priest referred to as ‘Fr. A.’” By Christa Pongratz-Lippitt, The Tablet

South Carolina bishop says Vatican has cleared him of sexual abuse allegation
“South Carolina’s top Roman Catholic priest says the Vatican has cleared him of wrongdoing after he was accused of sexually abusing a boy(link is external) as the pastor of a New York church in the late 1970s. In a message to fellow S.C. priests ahead of Sunday’s mass, Charleston Bishop Robert Guglielmone wrote that he received a letter ‘stating that the Vatican has determined that the sexual abuse allegation against me has no semblance of truth and is thus unfounded.’” By Avery G. Wilks, The Post and Courier

American Viganò: Archbishop Chaput divides episcopacy even in retirement
“His Excellency, the Most Reverend Charles Chaput, emeritus archbishop of Philadelphia, has come out of retirement to explain to the rest of his benighted brothers in the episcopacy — and to the rest of us — that an impending scandal looms for the Holy, Roman, Catholic and Apostolic Faith: President-elect Joe Biden might be given Communion(link is external). The horror! Chaput set forth his reasonings, such as they are, in an article at First Things, the magazine of record for culture warrior conservative Catholicism.” By Michael Sean Winters, National Catholic Reporter

PRIESTS

Polish priest apologizes for defense of disgraced priest
“A popular Polish priest apologized Tuesday (Dec. 8) for a sermon in which he defended a bishop accused of covering up for pedophile priests(link is external). His sermon, delivered to a congregation including the justice minister and other top politicians, was later condemned by government officials. Father Tadeusz Rydzyk insisted that he had not intended to hurt victims or downplay the church’s role in the ‘sin and crime of pedophilia.’” By Associated Press

WOMEN RELIGIOUS

UISG, LCWR leaders discuss connections in pandemic, women in diaconate, vocations in Africa
Global Sisters Report recently held a discussion(link is external) with Sr. Jolanta Kafka, president of the International Union of Superiors General and general superior of the Claretian Missionary Sisters; Sr. Pat Murray, executive secretary of UISG and member of the Institute of the Blessed Virgin Mary; Sr. Elise  García, president of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, and who serves on the General Council of the Adrian Dominican Sisters; and Sr. Carol Zinn, executive director of LCWR and a Sister of St. Joseph of Philadelphia. This is an edited transcript of that discussion.” By Global Sisters Report Staff, National Catholic Reporter

CHURCH FINANCES

Diocese gets A+ in financial transparency for 2020
“Voice of the Faithful (VOTF) — a national grassroots movement of Catholics responding since 2002 to the sexual abuse crisis in the Catholic Church — has given the Diocese of Erie a 100 percent financial transparency score for 2020, the second year in a row(link is external). Erie was one of only five dioceses in the country with a perfect score …The Massachusetts-based organization conducts a survey annually of all U.S. dioceses. Financial transparency, according to the VOTF, is one key element of an open response by the Catholic Church to survivors of clerical sexual abuse and guards against fraudulent diversion of donated funds by clergy or laity.” By Mary Solberg and Anne-Marie Welsh

Pope updates Vatican financial authority following scandals
“Pope Francis has revamped the Holy See’s financial intelligence and anti-money-laundering unit(link is external) following financial scandals, including an ongoing in-house corruption probe, Vatican officials said Saturday (Dec. 5). The changes involve the governance and organization of the Vatican’s financial watchdog agency, which has been renamed the Supervisory and Financial Information Authority, or ASIF, the Vatican said. Until Saturday, the agency was known as AIF, or Financial Information Authority.” By Associated Press

CLERICALISM

Post-McCarrick report dialogue zeroes in on ‘hyperclerical culture’
“One month to the day that the Vatican released its report on since-laicized cardinal Theodore McCarrick, a panel of academics took a close look at what one called a ‘hyperclerical culture’ that allowed McCarrick’s sexual misconduct to go unchecked(link is external). ‘Silence is dangerous,’ said John Carr, director of the Initiative on Catholic Social Thought and Public Life at Georgetown University, a co-sponsor of the Dec 10 dialogue, ‘The McCarrick Report: Findings, Lessons and Directions,’ and who himself had been subject to sexual abuse when he was a seminarian. ‘Hyperclerical culture can be horrific — and their decisions reflect that.’” By Mark Pattison, Catholic News Service, on CatholicSF.org

FUTURE OF THE CHURCH

Detroit Archdiocese announces major reorganization of 216 Catholic parishes
“In one of its biggest restructurings in years, the Catholic Archdiocese of Detroit announced Wednesday (Dec. 9) it is grouping its 216 parishes in southeastern Michigan into 51 families — each made up of three to eight parishes sharing priests. The changes have been approved by Archbishop Allen Vigneron, according to a statement released Wednesday morning … A noted Catholic expert, Rocco Palmo, said the new Detroit plan to create 51 families ‘is drastic, quite possibly the most drastic I’ve seen(link is external)’ among dioceses in the U.S. who are doing similar reorganizations.” By Niraj Warikoo, Detroit Free Press

What does a consolidation of sisters’ communities look like?
“When seven congregations of Sisters of St. Joseph completed their consolidation into one new community in 2007, the sisters thought the work of the merger was largely finished(link is external). After all, it had taken nearly a decade to get to that point. ‘I remember when we did this, thinking, ‘We’re done! We did it!’ But we were not done,’ said Sr. Kathleen Brazda, part of the current leadership team for the Congregation of St. Joseph. ‘We’re still evolving, still looking at structures.’” By Dan Stockman, Global Sisters Report, National Catholic Reporter

VOICES

The McCarrick case and some disturbing conclusions
“In a couple of sleepless nights, I read the 449 pages and 1,410 notes (the devil, as they say, is in the detail) of the Vatican report on former US cardinal Theodore McCarrick. I had anticipated that it would be depressing reading, yet we must read the worst circumstances of the time in which we live and fully carry the weight and feel the responsibility. I write under an interior impulse. I feel that the Catholic Church, starting with its leaders, can no longer wait. Either structural changes are promoted (beyond those at the level of conscience, as is obvious) or this crisis will not be overcome(link is external). Already too many have distanced themselves from ecclesial life and the practice of faith.” By Gianni Criveller, UCA.com

Opinion: Archdiocese must be held accountable for priest abuse
“After a two-year investigation, the Vatican recently released a 450-plus-page report about now-defrocked Cardinal Theodore McCarrick and how the Catholic Church hierarchy failed to stop his predatory sexual behavior. Now, local Catholics are owed a similar in-depth investigation into the Archdiocese of Cincinnati and its complicity in failing to protect children from predatory sexual behaviors of local priests, such as Geoffrey Drew. Although the Drew story is a microcosm of McCarrick’s, the system that allowed both men to go unpunished for decades, in spite of countless complaints, exists in every Catholic diocese(link is external), including our own. Drew, former pastor of St. Ignatius of Loyola Parish, was arraigned on nine counts of rape in July 2019, finally halting his access to children.” By Teresa Dinwiddie-Herrman, Jan Seidel, Dan Frondorf and Kathy Weyer, Cincinnati.com

Time for a reckoning: Church must confront, change old boys’ network exposed in Vatican’s McCarrick report
“The report refers to her simply as ‘Mother 1.’ A Manhattan woman with a large brood of mostly boys and an Irish husband, she had become suspicious of then-New York Monsignor Theodore McCarrick(link is external), who snaked his way into her family and had her children call him ‘Uncle Ted.’

Her husband thought it an honor to have a clergyman take an interest in his children. Mother 1, not so. Her antennae went up when she learned he gave her sons alcohol when he took them on trips.” By Rev. Alexander Santora for the Jersey Journal, on NJ.com

CLERGY SEXUAL ABUSE

Local View: Add racism to church’s sex-abuse scandals
‘Too often the Catholic Church uses Native American communities to hide pedophile priests,’ Phoenix attorney Robert Pastor said. Environmental racism was a term coined to describe historical tendencies in the U.S. to store toxic waste on Native American reservations or build pollution-spewing incinerators in Latino or African-American neighborhoods. An analogous term may now be required for the Catholic Church’s systematic dumping of sexually abusive priests into minority communities: Racist diocesan exile(link is external)? Clergy abuse racism? That’s because, as more information has been extracted through recent lawsuits against dioceses and investigations of abusive priests, it has become clear that the church often banished sex offenders to minority parishes as a way of burying them.” By David McGrath, Duluth News Tribune

McCarrick report shows need to focus on survivors, panel says
“In the aftermath of the Holy See’s report on laicized ex-cardinal Theodore McCarrick, a clergy sex abuse survivor from Chile wants matters of clergy abuse to focus more on the survivors and less so on the episcopacy itself(link is external). ‘For me, we’re discussing here how the bishops behave, how we elect them, how we make them better, how they serve us better. Where are the survivors? The men and women survivors have to be the center of our topics,’ said Juan Carlos Cruz. ‘There are so many questions and we feel that yes, we have a McCarrick report, which is a great step for sure. But the suffering and the horror that is still going for so many people in our church is real and it’s now and we need to address it immediately.’” By John Lavenburg, Cruxnow.com

CALIFORNIA

Oakland diocese settles sex-misconduct suit for $3.5 million
“A civil lawsuit anonymously filed last year against the Diocese of Oakland by a former seminarian over alleged sexual misconduct by an East Bay pastor(link is external) reached a settlement late last month, authorities said. In a statement last week, the diocese said the Alameda County District Attorney’s Office did not file charges despite a Livermore police investigation. Church officials added that Father Van Dinh, the former pastor of Livermore’s St. Michael’s Catholic Parish, was not a defendant in last month’s settlement of the suit ‘which had no finding or admission of liability by Dinh or by the diocese.’” By George Kelly, East Bay Times, Bay Area News Group

COLORADO

Colorado’s review of Catholic Church sex abuse named priests, but not those who covered up their crimes
“A pair of explosive reports on decades of child sex abuse in Colorado’s three Catholic dioceses named 52 priests but kept confidential the identities of numerous church officials — from administrators to bishops — who covered up or ignored allegations of misconduct and transferred known child abusers to work in other parishes(link is external). The Colorado Sun counted 37 priests in the two investigative documents—one released last year and another earlier this month—whose abuse was hidden by the church, either because officials ignored victims’ stories, chose not to investigate or did not report suspected abuse to law enforcement. In many cases, the church allowed an abusive priest to continue working as clergy despite warnings about their behavior.” By Jesse Paul and Jennifer Brown, The Colorado Sun

Colorado report names nine more priests accused of abusing minors decades ago
“New findings in an investigation into clergy sex abuse in Colorado’s Catholic dioceses show substantiated claims that an additional nine Catholic priests abused minors decades ago(link is external). Released Dec. 1, the findings are in a supplemental report from the lead investigator, former U.S. Attorney Bob Troyer, who continued to look into cases as more survivors came forward after the release of his initial report in October 2019.” By Julie Asher, Catholic News Service, on CatholicPhilly.com

Denver Archbishop Aquila appears to downplay new Catholic Church abuse cases
“Following the release of a report this week on the history of child sexual abuse at the hands of Colorado Catholic priests that identified dozens of new survivors and nine new perpetrators, Denver Archbishop Samuel Aquila seemed to once again downplay the severity of the abuse(link is external). The supplemental report released Tuesday (Dec. 1) by the Colorado Attorney General’s office was a follow up to a report on clergy sexual abuse released last year. Tuesday’s report, which concludes a 22-month investigation into how Colorado’s three Catholic dioceses sheltered abusers over seven decades, identified an additional 46 abuse survivors and nine priests that came to light since the release of the first report.” By Madeleine Schmidt, Colorado Times Recorder

Investigator says Pueblo Diocese has system in place that could improve handling of child sex abuse cases
“An investigator of child sexual abuse by Catholic priests says the Pueblo Diocese has set up systems that would significantly improve its handling of reports of misconduct(link is external). Investigator Bob Troyer, a former federal prosecutor, also says the systems—which are new—are yet untested. Troyer worked this year and last for the Colorado Attorney General’s Office to delve into hundreds of cases of sexual assaults by priests in the state’s three dioceses: Pueblo, Colorado Springs and Denver.” By Robert Boczkiewicz, The Pueblo Citizen

Catholic priest names as a child abuser in new report was a counselor at church camp
“A Catholic priest who was named as a child sex abuser in a new report was a counselor at a church camp(link is external) in 1958 when a 10-year-old deaf boy disappeared before his skeletal remains were discovered a year later. Jerry Repola worked at the Catholic Camp St. Malo in Colorado in August 1958, when Bobby Bizup vanished in mysterious circumstances after a day of fishing in the mountains.” By Rachel Sharp, Daily Mail

CONNECTICUT

Victim advocate charged with distributing child pornography
“A victim advocate for the Connecticut court system was charged Friday (Dec. 11) with distributing child pornography over a cellphone app(link is external). Federal prosecutors and the FBI said Robert Eccleston, 56, of Canton, used the app Kik in August and September to distribute numerous pictures and videos of child porn, including images depicting the sexual abuse of toddlers and prepubescent children.” By Associated Press

DELAWARE

Priest indicted, faces federal child pornography charges
“A Catholic priest from Wilmington, Delaware, who served as an advisor to Monoco’s royal family now faces federal child pornography charges. Reverend William McCandless is accused of collecting thousands of child pornography images(link is external) while serving overseas, then returning home with them. The 56-year-old was placed on home confinement and ordered to surrender his passport. McCandless also once served as principal of the Salesianum School in Wilmington and held a post at DeSales University.” By ABC-TV6 News

ILLINOIS

Chicago archdiocese to pay $1.5 million in sexual abuse suit
“The Archdiocese of Chicago has agreed to pay $1.5 million to settle a lawsuit filed by a man who says he was sexually abused as a child by a defrocked priest who was convicted of sexually abusing several boys(link is external), the man’s attorney said Thursday (Dec. 3). The settlement agreement announced in a news release by attorney Lyndsay Markley is the latest dark chapter in the story of Daniel McCormack, one of the most notorious pedophiles in the history of the archdiocese.” By Don Babwin, Associated Press

LOUISIANA

Archdiocese Adds Deceased Fr. Robert Cooper to Clergy Abuse Report
“The Archdiocese of New Orleans has concluded an investigation into newly received information regarding allegations of abuse of minors lodged against the late Fr. Robert K. Cooper. With moral certitude, today, December 2, 2020, the Archdiocese of New Orleans has added Cooper’s name to the Archdiocese of New Orleans Report Regarding Clergy Abuse(link is external) found online at nolacatholic.org. This deceased Fr. Cooper should not be confused with the Fr. Cooper who is an active pastor in the Archdiocese of New Orleans.” By Archdiocese of New Orleans

MASSACHUSETTS

Priest who gave Sen. Ted Kennedy’s funeral homily charged in sex assault case
“A Catholic priest who delivered the funeral homily for Massachusetts Senator Edward M. Kennedy in 2009 has been indicted on charges alleging rape and indecent assault of a minor(link is external). A Barnstable Superior Court grand jury on Friday (Dec. 11) indicted the Rev. Mark R. Hession, 62, on two counts of rape, one count of indecent assault and battery of a person under 14, and one count of witness intimidation, court records show. An arraignment date will be set in January, a spokesperson for the Cape and Islands district attorney’s office said.” By Travis Andersen, The Boston Globe

In shift, Springfield Diocese will name all credibly accused priests
“The Springfield Diocese will expand its list of credibly accused priests to include those who died before survivors brought accusations of sexual abuse.(link is external) The exclusion of such priests long has prevented some victims from seeing their abusers face a public accounting. The change is a new bishop’s first step in reckoning with a history of clergy abuse in the Catholic diocese that includes Berkshire County. It comes as an independent task force led by a retired Pittsfield judge continues to shape recommendations on how the diocese can improve policies to protect children.” By Larry Parnass, The Berkshire Eagle

Five takeaways from Bishop-elect William Byrne’s interview with the Republican
“Bishop-designate William Byrne, who will be ordained Dec. 14 as the 10th bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Springfield, is the author of the recently published ‘5 Things with Father Bill,’ that tackles diverse topics and offers brief insights on each. Cardinal Sean O’Malley of the Archdiocese of Boston will be the principal celebrant and consecrator for the invitation-only Episcopal Ordination and Installation Mass at 2 p.m. at St. Michael’s Cathedral … Here are five takeaways from his recent interview with The Republican.” By Anne-Gerard Flynn, Springfield Republican, on MassLive.com

MICHIGAN

Three men accuse prominent Michigan priest, Polish seminary leader of sexual abuse
“The call came one warm night in June 2019. A young Polish priest referred to as ‘John Doe 1’ in a federal lawsuit filed Monday (Dec. 14) knew it was his boss, Rev. Miroslaw Krol, and he knew that Krol was drunk. But he didn’t know the night would end with him driving an intoxicated Krol and another visiting priest to a motel to meet a male sex worker, and then, according to the suit, withdrawing cash from an ATM so Krol could pay him(link is external). Krol is the chancellor and CEO of Orchard Lake Schools, an Oakland County campus that includes a private prep school, St. Mary’s; a seminary, and a Polish cultural center.” By Kate Wells, Michigan Public Radio

Judge denies accused priest’s request to throw out confession in sex crimes case
“A Michigan judge recently denied a request to throw out a confession from a priest accused of sex crimes(link is external). Gary Jacobs, a former Catholic priest in the Upper Peninsula’s Ontonagon and Dickinson counties, is charged with 10 counts of criminal sexual conduct in five cases. His confession will stand in court. Jacobs, 75, was in court on Friday, Dec. 4, for a Walker Hearing during which the Ontonagon County Circuit Court judge denied Jacobs’ request to throw out his confession.” By Justine Lofton, MLive.com

MINNESOTA

St. Cloud Diocese bankruptcy plan approved to settle abuse claims
“A bankruptcy court has approved a reorganization plan for the Catholic Diocese of St. Cloud to settle legal claims of clergy abuse survivors(link is external). Two years ago, the St. Cloud diocese announced that it planned to file for bankruptcy after receiving 74 claims of sexual abuse of minors. Those claims were filed during a three-year window that lifted the statute of limitations on allegations of clergy abuse in Minnesota.” By Minnesota Public Radio

NEW MEXICO

Lawyer: Victims seek to eliminate archdiocese
“An attorney for the Archdiocese of Santa Fe said Monday (Dec. 7) that his clients are dedicated to a ‘compassionate and generous’ settlement for victims of clergy sexual abuse(link is external), but he accused victims’ attorneys of seeking to eliminate the ‘physical presence’ of the archdiocese in New Mexico by inquiring into church holdings. The assertion by Albuquerque lawyer Tom Walker was disputed by victims’ attorney James Stang during a hearing Monday in the archdiocese’s Chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganization.” By Colleen Heild, Albuquerque Journal

Judge asked to halt abuse victims’ church properties lawsuit
“The lawsuits allege that more than an estimated $245 million in property owned by the archdiocese was fraudulently transferred to its parishes or their trusts and should be available to help pay claims filed by nearly 380 victims of clergy sexual ab(link is external)use. Lawyers for the archdiocese and its 94 parishes deny any fraud and argue in one court filing that the litigation is intended to strip parishes of assets that have ‘always been beneficially or legally owned by the Parishes.’” By Colleen Heild, Albuquerque Journal

NEW YORK.

Former priest again accused of abuse in lawsuit
“A former priest previously accused of sexual assault has again been identified in a Child Victims Act lawsuit(link is external). The suit was filed last week in New York State Supreme Court in Chautauqua County. It alleges abuse by the Rev. John D. Lewandowski, who had previously been accused of abuse according to a list released by the Diocese of Buffalo. The plantiff is identified in the suit as ‘M.L.’ The male victim was about 14 years old in 1960 when the alleged sexual assault took place during after-school activities at the Boys and Girls Club in Jamestown.” By Eric Tichy, The Post-Journal

‘I’m tired of being quiet’: Child Victims Act suit retraumatizes and empowers Schenectady woman
“Colleen Garbarini has to make a plan before entering a grocery store: the mask can’t stay on too long. She knows the mask is there to protect her and others, but the feeling of it covering her face stirs deep emotions four decades in the making. The mask takes her back to when she was a little girl and her abuser tried to quiet her(link is external) when other people were nearby.” By Zachary Matson, Schenectady Daily Gazette

Buffalo Diocese has new bishop, but controversial attorneys, aides remain
“Terrence M. Connors has had so much influence at the Diocese of Buffalo chancery for the past 25 years that some employees privately called him ‘Bishop Terry.’ But the smooth-talking criminal defense attorney was the subject of criticism in a blistering report by State Attorney General Letitia James that accused the diocese of a ‘systemic’ cover-up of sex abuse allegations. Diocese lawyers were cited 46 times in the highly critical lawsuit filed by New York’s top prosecutor.” By Charlie Specht, WKBW-TV7 News

Prominent New York priest is investigated over sexual assault accusation
“A nationally prominent Catholic priest is under criminal investigation(link is external) after a security guard assigned to his church accused him of sexually assaulting her on Election Day, the Manhattan district attorney’s office said on Friday (Dec. 4). The priest, the Rev. George William Rutler, 75, is accused of watching pornography and masturbating in front of the guard, Ashley Gonzalez, 22, without her consent in his office at the Church of St. Michael the Archangel. He then attacked her physically and sexually when she tried to flee from the room, Ms. Gonzalez told the police.” By Liam Stack, The New York Times

Catholic Church shielded priest who sexually abused NY man as a kid
“A New York man says the Catholic Church shielded a priest who sexually abused him for years(link is external) beginning when he was 13 and homeless in Queens in the 1970s, new court papers show. Evan Manderson, 63, says the Roman Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn failed to report the Rev. Coleman Costello to law enforcement — and even allowed him to retire with a clean slate despite the church’s knowledge of his alleged sexual abuse of children, a new Queens Supreme Court lawsuit alleges.” By Priscilla DeGregory, New York Post

PENNSYLVANIA

Catholic church abuse probe goes quiet
“Two years ago, the U.S. attorney in Philadelphia joined the long line of ambitious prosecutors investigating the Roman Catholic Church’s handling of priest-abuse complaints. The Justice Department had never brought a conspiracy case against the church, despite exhaustive reports(link is external) that showed its long history of burying abuse complaints in secret archives, transferring problem priests to new parishes, silencing accusers and fighting laws to benefit child sex assault victims. U.S. Attorney William McSwain sent subpoenas to bishops across Pennsylvania asking them to turn over their files and submit to grand jury testimony if asked. The FBI interviewed at least six accused priests, court files show.” By Associated Press in Altoona Mirror

Ex-DeSales University priest’s child porn included torture of young children, feds say
“A former DeSales University priest and advisor to the royal family of Monaco is accused of possessing thousands of images of child pornography, including some described as the torture of very young children(link is external), according to federal authorities. William McCandless, 56, of Wilmington, Delaware, was charged by indictment Thursday with three counts of child pornography offenses, U.S. Attorney William M. McSwain announced.” By Sarah Cassi, LeighValleyLive.com

Pittsburgh Catholic diocese pays $19.2 million to abuse survivors
“The Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh paid out $19,237,000 to victims of sexual abuse by its clergy members(link is external) through a compensation fund launched after the release of a grand jury report in 2018. That report found widespread child sexual abuse in Catholic churches across Pennsylvania. The settlements were paid out by the Kenneth Feinberg Group, an independent mediator hired by the diocese in 2019, to 244 claims, according to a statement from the diocese Thursday (Dec. 3).” By Kiley Koscinski, WESA-FM90.5 News, National Public Radio

TEXAS

Former Conroe priest Manuel La Rosa-Lopez heading to prison for child indecency
“A Catholic priest is heading to Texas state prison after his formal sentencing on Wednesday (Dec. 16) for committing indecency with two underage parishioners(link is external) 20 years ago. Father Manuel La Rosa-Lopez will serve 10 years in prison on two charges of second-degree felony indecency with a child. The maximum penalty for the charge is 20 years in prison.” By Shelly Childers, WTRK-TV13 News

Ex-Catholic church worker in The Woodlands accused of sexual assault of child faces more felony charges
“A former IT employee at the St. Anthony of Padua Catholic Church and School in The Woodlands accused of sexually assaulting a child is now facing additional felony charges(link is external). According to court documents Ronald M. See, 53, was originally charged with aggravated sexual assault of a child under the age of 14. Now, the charges include a second count of aggravated sexual assault of a child, sexual performance by a child, both first-degree felonies, and online solicitation of a minor, a second-degree felony, according to court records.” By Click2Houston.com

VERMONT

Orphanage report: Investigators say authorities failed to pursue abuse claims
“No evidence of murder but an acknowledgment of abuse: Those are the main findings of a more than two-year investigation into claims at a former orphanage in Burlington. Our Dom Amato explains how the state came up with the findings. The old building on North Ave. is now part of a new housing complex, but it was once the St. Joseph’s Orphanage. Attorney General T.J. Donovan says the state investigation uncovered evidence of abuse over several decades(link is external), and blames police and prosecutors for failing to investigate the allegations when they were first made.” By Dom Amato, WCAX-TV3 News

VIRGINIA

Individual retracts child sexual abuse claim against priest, Richmond Catholic Diocese says
“An individual who said they had been sexually abused as a child by a priest in Norfolk, Va., has retracted their claim(link is external), the Catholic Diocese of Richmond announced Tuesday (Dec. 15). The allegations were made earlier this year against retired diocesan priest William Dinga Jr. Dinga has been accused of abuse while serving at Christ the King Catholic Church in 1986. He retired in 1990 and was not permitted to exercise public priestly duties before these allegations, which Dinga denies, were made.” By Keyris Manzanares, WRIC-TV8 News

WASHINGTON

Lawsuit claiming abuse by Catholic priests dismissed
“A lawsuit claiming sexual abuse committed by four Catholic priests formerly of an Ellensburg church was dismissed(link is external) Thursday (Dec. 10). The suit was filed in April 2019 by a man identified only as John Doe against the Catholic Diocese of Yakima and four priests, including Father Seamus Kerr, a senior priest at Holy Apostles Parish in East Wenatchee. John Doe claimed he was abused in the late 1970s and early 1980s at St. Andrew Catholic Church, when he was between the ages of 10 and 18.” By Pete O’Cain, The Wenatchee World

WISCONSIN

First came sex abuse allegations at the abbey. Then secret payments. Then a suicide.
“According to interviews and documents, the Norbertines quietly sent Lindstrom monthly checks totaling more than $400,000 over 10 years after his parents complained to the Catholic order’s leaders about the harm their son suffered from being sexually abused by at least one priest(link is external) in the late 1980s. Lindstrom spent years in therapy and taking medication, and he eventually settled in suburban Minneapolis with his wife and three children. But in 2018, his life changed when the order’s abbot told him the monthly payments would end.” By Haley BeMiller, Green Bay Post-Gazette

AUSTRALIA

Church defends ‘modest’ payout to abused altar boy in landmark case appeal
“A $32,500 settlement paid by the Catholic Church to a former altar boy after he was repeatedly sexually abused by a priest was adequate and reflected the legal landscape at the time, a court has heard. The Catholic Church is seeking to overturn a landmark court ruling that paved the way for sex abuse victims to seek more compensation(link is external) even if they had already signed away their rights to sue. In October, the Supreme Court overturned a deed of release signed by a former altar boy known as ‘WCB’ in 1996 after he was repeatedly sexually abused by Warragul priest Daniel Hourigan.” By Tom Cowie, The Age

New national Catholic safeguarding agency established
“The Catholic Church has established a new company to oversee all safeguarding, child protection and professional standards in Australia(link is external), creating a more focused and streamlined model. The Australian Catholic Bishops Conference, Catholic Religious Australia and the Association of Ministerial PJPs yesterday launched Australian Catholic Safeguarding Limited. ‘We have discerned what was working well and what needed to change, and we are convinced this new national agency will make the Church’s work more coordinated, accountable and best prepared to ensure the safety of people in Catholic settings,’ CRA president Br Peter Carroll FMS said.” By CathNews.com

CANADA

Humboldt RCMP arrest Catholic priest on sexual assault charges
“The Humboldt RCMP arrested a 45-year-old Saskatchewan priest after receiving multiple reports of incidents of a sexual nature(link is external). RCMP charged Fr. Anthony Atter of Lake Lenore with sexual assault, sexual interference and sexual exploitation. RCMP say the incidents allegedly occurred between Sept. 1 and Nov. 4, 2020. Fr. Atter is responsible for the parishes of St Gregory, St Ann and St Anthony.” By YahooNews.com

Chilliwack Catholic church pastor fired for alleged ‘sexual misconduct’
“Parishioners of St. Mary’s Church in Chilliwack are left with questions after the departure of a long-serving pastor accused of sexual misconduct(link is external). In a letter sent to parishioners of St. Mary’s and Immaculate Conception Parish in Delta on Dec. 4, Archbishop J. Michael Miller said an internal investigation ‘confirmed that a number of accusations of sexual misconduct with an adult by Father [Nelson] Santos were with an adult were well-founded, along with related inappropriate behavior and comments.” By Paul Henderson, Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows News

Catholic church names more sexually abusive priests, more victims come forward
More victims of sexual assault by members of the Roman Catholic clergy have come forward in B.C.(link is external) after the release of a report in 2019 on cases of abuse going back decades. And the Archdiocese of Vancouver has named three more priests. ‘We again want to acknowledge the deep suffering of the victims and their loved ones and I apologize to each of them for the trauma caused by the abuse by a priest,’ Archbishop J. Michael Miller said in a new archdiocese publication. ‘They are in my prayers.’” By Jeremy Hainsworth, Glacier

B.C. priest accused of sexual misconduct: Vancouver Archdiocese
“An investigation into a B.C. priest has concluded accusations of sexual misconduct were ‘well-founded(link is external),’ according to the Vancouver Archdiocese. In a letter from Archbishop Michael Miller, he addressed the recent departure of Father Nelson Santos, who had been serving as an assistant pastor at Immaculate Conception Parish in Delta. Miller writes that a number of accusations of sexual misconduct with an adult by Santos were ‘well-founded’ as were ‘related inappropriate behaviour and comments.’” By Kathryn Tindale and Tim James, CityNews1130.com

FRANCE

Ex-Vatican envoy to France gets 8-month suspended sentence for sexual harassment
“A French court has found former Vatican ambassador to France Luigi Ventura guilty of sexual harassment against five men(link is external) in 2018 and 2019 and given him an eight-month suspended sentence, AFP reported on its Twitter feed on Wednesday (Dec. 16). Prosecutors had opened an investigation after a junior official at Paris City Hall accused the papal nuncio, then 74, of molestation in January 2019, and city authorities filed a complaint. Other men later came forward with similar allegations.” By Reuters Staff

GERMANY

German nuns accused of enabling child sex abuse by priests
“Nuns in the city of Speyer ‘dragged’ children to be sexually abused by priests and politicians, a survivor told a German court(link is external). His explosive testimony is the latest abuse scandal to rock the German Catholic Church. Catholic nuns who ran a former children’s home in the German city of Speyer allegedly aided in the sexual abuse of the children who were under their care, according to a newly-surfaced court decision. The latest scandal came to light after a victim filed a case to claim compensation from the Catholic church, prompting the Darmstadt Social Welfare Court to investigate.” By Deutsche Welle

GREAT BRITAIN, SCOTLAND & WALES

‘Horror’ that abusive priest allowed back into schools
“Devastated head teachers, teachers and other education experts have spoken of their anger regarding the Catholic Church’s handling of the case of Fr Joseph Quigley, an authority and adviser to bishops on Catholic education, who has been convicted of child sex abuse(link is external). Quigley, 56, was found guilty on December 3 at Warwick Crown Court of physical and sexual abuse – but 12 years after Birmingham archdiocese, when it was led by Archbishop Vincent Nichols, first learned of his abuse and did not immediately report Quigley to the police.” By Catherine Pepinster, The Tablet

Scots abuse survivor handed 100K in damages after horror childhood in care
“An abuse survivor has secured £100,000 in damages after being molested and beaten while in care. The man – known as Victim N – was locked in cupboards, beaten with a stick and sexually abused when he was being looked after as a child by the Sisters of Nazareth Catholic order(link is external). He was then moved to council-run Auldhouse Care Home in Glasgow, only to be subjected to worse violence. Victim N, now 58 and living in England, raised a legal action after spending decades coming to terms with what happened.” By Jenny Morrison, Daily Record

‘Sexual sadist’ priest abused boy and locked him in church crypt
“A ‘sexual sadist’ priest who worked as a private tutor sexually and physically abused a boy and locked him in a church crypt(link is external). Father Joseph Quigly – who held various ‘presitigious’ roles including as national education advisor for Roman Catholic schools – sexually and physically abused a boy while he was a parish priest in Warwickshire. The priest – described as a ‘sexual sadist’ – rubbed the teenager’s inner thigh after making him wear gym kit, take showers with the door open, and inflicted ‘sado-masochistic’ punishments on him such as locking him in the church’s crypt.” By Birmingham Mail

The U.K. is reckoning with a clerical sex abuse crisis. Again.
“Ms. (Sue) Cox is one of the abuse survivors who provided evidence to a government inquiry into the sexual abuse of children in the Roman Catholic Church in England and Wales. The inquiry has identified significant and ongoing failings in the church’s safeguarding of children and in decision-making among its highest leaders(link is external). Published on Nov. 10, the same day the Vatican released its internal report into decades-long sexual abuse by Theodore McCarrick, a former U.S. cardinal, the U.K. inquiry reports that the church’s ‘moral purpose was betrayed over decades by those in the Church who perpetrated this abuse and those who turned a blind eye to it.’” By Ricardo da Silva, S.J., America: The Jesuit Review

When a Catholic lawyer fights sexual abuse in Indonesian Church
“Almost every Monday since September, Catholic lawyer Azas Tigor Nainggolan accompanies the altar boys who were sexually abused and their families appearing at the Depok District Court in West Java(link is external). He accompanies them against the defendant, Syahril Marbun, former altar boys’ trainer at St Herkulanus parish, Bogor diocese, the first recorded case of sexual abuse in a church brought before a civil court.” By Ryan Dagur, Jakarta, USANews.com

NEW ZEALAND

New Zealand child abuse inquiry finds quarter of a million harmed in state and faith-based care
“Up to a quarter of a million children, young people and vulnerable adults were physically and sexually abused in New Zealand’s faith-based and state care institutions from the 1960s to early 2000s(link is external), a public inquiry revealed on Wednesday (Dec. 16). An interim report by the Royal Commission of Inquiry found children, some from as young as nine months old, suffered years of abuse, which included rape and electric shock treatment, by staff at psychiatric and state care facilities, clergy and foster guardians. The report estimated that up to 256,000 people were abused, accounting for almost 40% of the 655,000 people in care during the period, with most abuse occurring in the 1970s and 1980s.” By Praveen Menon, Reuters

SPAIN

A parish priest has been jailed for 20 years for sexually abusing young girls
“A parish priest has been jailed for 20 years for sexually abusing young girls in his care(link is external) during a six month period back in 2014, according to newly released court documents. The priest, practicing in the city of Cordoba, was accused of sexually groping six individuals between the ages of eight and 12 who were visiting during religious camps during the school summer holidays. An investigation began when one of the victims, who has not been named for her protection, spoke of the abuse in front of a Policia Local officer five years after the events.” By James Warren, The Olive Press

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Voice of the Faithful Focus News Roundup

December 7, 2020

TOP STORIES

Vatican sued over alleged sex abuse in wake of its report on disgraced ex-cardinal McCarrick
“A week after an explosive report by the Vatican detailing decades-long allegations against former Cardinal Theodore McCarrick involving the sexual abuse of young boys, seminarians and fellow priests, the first federal lawsuit stemming from that report has been filed against the Roman Catholic Church(link is external). A stunning 85-page complaint filed in New Jersey on behalf of four unidentified men against the highest echelons of the church charges the Vatican knew McCarrick ‘was a suspected abuser and child molester’ and a danger to its members, but did nothing to stop him.” By Ted Sherman, NJ Advance Media for NJ.com

McCarrick report is one small step to dismantling clerical culture
“The steps not yet taken involve much deeper, interior work on the part of those still greatly invested in and rewarded by the culture than they’ve yet been willing or able to face. They must be willing to ask themselves fundamental questions about the meaning of ordination, the role of the ordained in the larger community, the consequences of prohibiting women from the realm of the ordained, the role of privilege and secrecy in church governance. They have to decide whether the model for bishops is prince or servant, and what that decision portends for their credibility and leadership in the future(link is external).” By Tom Roberts, National Catholic Reporter

This archbishop has become the first African American cardinal in Catholic history
“For the past week, Archbishop Wilton Gregory of Washington, DC, was holed up in a Vatican guesthouse, receiving meals at his door. On Saturday (Nov. 28), Gregory stepped out of his quarters and into history, becoming the Catholic Church’s first African American cardinal(link is external) during an installation ceremony in Rome. Gregory was one of 13 men — and the only American — elevated to the College of Cardinals during Saturday’s ceremony … Gregory, 72, already the highest-ranking African-American Catholic in US history, told CNN this week that he has been praying, writing homilies and letters to well-wishers, and reflecting on his new role.” By Delia Gallagher, CNN, on WKTV-TV2 News

Pope named as defendant in Australian legal claim
“Pope Francis has been named as a defendant in a Victorian Supreme Court damages claim by three Aboriginal men who say they were sexually assaulted as young boys by pedophile priest(link is external) Michael Glennon, according to The Age. It is the first known case in Australia in which survivors of clerical sexual abuse have sought to hold the Pope personally responsible for the Church’s failure to take decisive action against predators in its ranks. The three plaintiffs, who cannot be identified for legal reasons, all claim to have experienced significant, ongoing impacts from their childhood abuse, including drug addiction, homelessness and unemployment.” By CathNews.com

Lawsuit says Buffalo Diocese, bishops covered up failures on abuse
“New York State Attorney General Letitia James filed a lawsuit Nov. 23 against the Diocese of Buffalo and Bishop Richard J. Malone, who headed the diocese from 2012 to 2019, and newly retired Auxiliary Bishop Edward M. Grosz. The suit alleges a two-decades-long cover-up of how the diocese failed to deal with numerous priests accused of alleged sexual abuse(link is external).” By Mike Matvey, Catholic News Service, on CatholicPhilly.com

POPE FRANCIS

The modern vision of Pope Francis in a medieval church
“Pope Francis issued his third encyclical, Fratelli Tutti, on the feast of St. Francis of Assisi, indicating his deep spiritual affinity with the founder of the Franciscan movement. The encyclical deepens the pope’s vision of integral ecology laid out in his 2015 work, ‘Laudato Si’, on Care for Our Common Home’ now extended to the social order on the level of fraternity and social friendship. The pope’s writings are comprehensive in his depth of analysis of ecological, social and technocratic structures that have created systems of separation, manipulation and disregard for the poor(link is external). He begins Fratelli Tutti by taking his cue from the ‘Admonitions’ of Francis of Assisi, who writes in his 25th admonition: ‘Blessed is the servant who would love and respect his brother as much when he is far from him as he would when he is with him; and who would not say anything behind his back which in charity he could not say to his face.’’’ By Ilia Delio, Global Sisters Report, National Catholic Reporter

Pope Francis challenges the Catholic left
“It is one of the saddest facts about a certain kind of liberal Catholic that, as the pope said, with nothing but goodwill, they take a wrong path with an agenda that may be defensible or even laudable on other grounds, but is no longer a Catholic path(link is external). They consider the doctrines that have defined our church for centuries as so much silly putty in their hands, to be stretched any which way to achieve an objective that may not be reconcilable with the Catholic faith. I have said it before and will say it again: Just because a Catholic has a thought does not mean it is a Catholic thought that has been had.” By Michael Sean Winters, National Catholic Reporter

CARDINALS

Pope creates 13 new cardinals, including Washington archbishop
“One by one 11 senior churchmen, including two U.S. citizens — Cardinals Wilton D. Gregory of Washington and Silvano M. Tomasi, a former Vatican diplomat — knelt before Pope Francis to receive their red hats, a cardinal’s ring and a scroll formally declaring their new status and assigning them a ‘titular’ church in Rome. But with the consistory Nov. 28 occurring during the COVID-19 pandemic, Pope Francis actually created 13 new cardinals(link is external).” By Cindy Wooden, Catholic News Service, in The Pilot

CARDINAL PELL

Cardinal Pell says he feels ‘vindicated’ by Vatican finance corruption being investigated
“The pope’s former treasurer, Cardinal George Pell, said Monday (Nov. 30) he feels a dismayed sense of vindication as the financial mismanagement he tried to uncover in the Holy See is now being exposed in a spiraling Vatican corruption investigation(link is external). Pell made the comments to The Associated Press in his first interview since returning to Rome after his conviction-turned-acquittal on sexual abuse charges. Pell told the AP that he knew in 2014 when he took the treasury job that the Holy See’s finances were ‘a bit of a mess.’” By Nicole Winfield, Associated Press, in America: The Jesuit Review

McCARRICK REPORT

What the McCarrick report means for the church
“The report is unprecedented, reading like no other Vatican document I can recall. It is not clothed in dense church-speak or vague references to misdeeds. It is at times graphic and always revealing. As a whole, it is a devastating portrait of personal deception and institutional blindness, of opportunities missed and faith shattered(link is external). For those of us who have experience with Vatican documents and Vatican investigations, the report is amazing in its efforts to be transparent. At 449 pages, the report is exhaustive and at times exhausting. Not only were over 90 interviews conducted, but extensive quotations from relevant Vatican correspondence and documents reveal the internal back and forth between individuals and offices.” By Catholic News Service

Blame to share
“In the weeks since the Vatican released its report regarding disgraced former Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, the blame game has been in full swing. How is it possible, both critics and friends ask, that such a man as McCarrick could ever rise to the highest levels of the Church?(link is external) It’s a good question, with not a lot of good answers. The 460-page report does not lay blame on any one person or group. Instead, it has carefully followed the trail of facts and communiques inside and outside the Vatican regarding who knew what and when and how about the allegations of sexual misconduct against McCarrick. The issue of guilt isn’t addressed in the report; that had been decided by an investigation two years ago that found ‘credible’ evidence against him. He was subsequently removed from the priesthood.” By The Catholic Register Editorial Board

BISHOPS

U.S. Catholic bishops’ response to McCarrick report is sad but predictable
“The discussion of the Vatican report on ex-Cardinal Theodore McCarrick by the U.S. bishops at their annual fall meeting was sad but predictable(link is external) — sad because the bishops failed to communicate that they understood the report’s implications; predictable in that some bishops defended John Paul II against the report’s finding that the pontiff shared culpability in the McCarrick case. The report, released Nov. 10, acknowledged that despite it being known that McCarrick was sleeping with seminarians, he was promoted to the Archdiocese of Washington and made a cardinal by Pope John Paul II.” By Thomas Reese, Religion News Service, in National Catholic Reporter

Pope Francis names new bishop of scandal-ridden Buffalo diocese
“Pope Francis Tuesday (Dec. 1) appointed Bishop Michael Fisher, an auxiliary of Washington, to be the next bishop of the scandal-ridden Diocese of Buffalo, New York(link is external). Fisher, 62, will take over leadership of Buffalo as the diocese faces a new lawsuit from the State of New York for failing to protect children from clergy sex abuse. The diocese also filed for bankruptcy in February of this year, after it was named in hundreds of clerical abuse lawsuits filed in New York courts. Fisher will be the 15th bishop of the western New York diocese, following Bishop Richard Malone, who resigned amid controversy in December 2019.” By Catholic News Agency

Canadian Catholic bishop resigns at age of 64 ‘for the good of the Church’
“Pope Francis accepted Sunday (Nov. 29) the resignation of a Canadian Catholic bishop at the age of 64. The Holy See press office said that the pope accepted the resignation of Bishop Robert Bourgon of Hearst-Moosonee on Nov. 29 … Radio-Canada reported Nov. 29 that Bourgon faced criticism following the dismissal of two priests facing charges of fraud. It added that following protests by parishioners, who believed the priests to be innocent of wrongdoing, Pope Francis mandated a visitation by Bishop Serge Poitras of Timmins, Ontario.” By Catholic News Agency

PRIESTS

Seminaries need clear sexual harassment guidelines to prevent clerical abuse
“When the former cardinal Theodore McCarrick was bishop of the diocese of Metuchen, N.J., he routinely asked seminarians to join him at his vacation home, visits that regularly included the bishop sharing a bed with young men. Any reasonable standards would characterize those episodes, in which a powerful authority figure even suggested sharing a bed with students, as instances of sexual harassment(link is external). Stories like these led to Mr. McCarrick’s downfall, as was laid out in a recent Vatican investigation into allegations of harassment and abuse.” By Michael J. O’Loughlin, America: The Jesuit Review

LAITY & THE CHURCH

The complicated legacy of Bishop John England
“Amid all the heart-searching that the Catholic Church is doing in response to the ongoing scandal of sexual abuse and episcopal malfeasance, the realization that laypeople need to be engaged in structural reform is central(link is external). No group should ever police itself, and that includes the bishops. The 1983 revision of the Code of Canon Law made some progress in recognizing the rights and responsibilities of the laity, but it never got beyond allowing them a consultative role in the decision-making process. That this could change is clear, because the heartening truth about canon law is that it is subordinate to the Gospel; it must reflect and support Gospel priorities.” By Paul Lakeland, Commonweal

VATICAN

Vatican launches website dedicated to ‘Fratelli Tutti’ encyclical
“Beginning Tuesday (Dec.1), Pope Francis’ recent Encyclical Fratelli tutti, on Fraternity and Social Friendship, will be more readily accessible by the faithful(link is external). The Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development announces a special website dedicated to the Encyclical which can be accessed either from the homepage of the Dicastery www.humandevelopment.va(link is external) or directly from the URL www.fratellitutti.va(link is external).” By Vatican News

CHURCH FINANCES

South Dakota Catholic priest steals nearly $260,000 from three churches, jailed for three years; also faces sex charges
“Most people are familiar with the phrase ‘caught with your hand in the cookie jar.’ However, a Catholic priest from Rapid City, South Dakota, earned himself a sentence in federal prison for being caught with his hand ‘in the offertory bag(link is external).’ Marcin Stanislaw Garbacz, 42, was sent to prison for 7 years and 9 months on Monday (Nov. 30) for stealing nearly $260,000 from three parishes in Rapid City.” By Jeevan Biswas International Business Times

Swiss court orders full access to records for Vatican financial investigation
“Vatican investigators have been granted full access to Swiss banking documentation related to long-time Vatican investment manager Enrico Crasso. The newly announced decision by a Swiss federal court is the latest development in the ongoing financial scandal(link is external) surrounding the purchase of a London building by the Secretariat of State in 2018. According to Huffington Post, the decision was issued on Oct. 13 but only published this week. The documents to be turned over to the Vatican include financial records of the company to Az Swiss & Partners. Az Swiss owns Sogenel Capital Holding, the company Crasso founded after leaving Credit Suisse in 2014.” By Ed Condon, Catholic News Agency

CLERICALISM

The implosion of clericalism dramatized in Leonard Berstein’s ‘Mass’
“I find myself again lamenting the abysmal sinfulness of the Catholic clerical system(link is external). The long-anticipated release of the McCarrick report sheds harsh light on the failure of complicit bishops and Pope John Paul II to believe then-Archbishop Theodore McCarrick’s victims even after New York Cardinal John O’Connor warned the pope not to make him Cardinal Archbishop of Washington. The painful mendacity of the clerical system was also on depressing display at FutureChurch’s 30th anniversary celebration, where theologian Doris Wagner Reisinger received the organization’s Young Catholic Leaders Award. Reisinger spoke about her abuse as a young nun and her efforts to bring a prominent Vatican priest to justice. In her experience, Catholic sisters have too often been entrapped in a conspiracy of silence that protects abusing priests.” By Christine Schenk, National Catholic Reporter

FUTURE OF THE CHURCH

Switzerland’s Catholic bishops lament record exodus from Church in 2019
“Bishops in Switzerland lamented Wednesday (Dec. 2) a record exodus of Catholics from the Church in 2019(link is external). In a statement after their virtual plenary assembly Dec. 2, the bishops acknowledged new figures showing that last year saw the highest annual number of ‘church exits’ on record.” By Catholic News Service

Dozens of Catholic churches merging to create 14 new ones in the Diocese of Pittsburgh
“Fourteen new merged parishes will be created in the Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh on Jan. 4, the diocese announced Saturday (Nov. 28). Forty parishes will be part of the mergers and will bring the number of parishes in the diocese from 107 to 81(link is external), the release states. ‘For two years, you have journeyed together on a road that is intended to unite you on the mission to bring the Good News of Jesus to your neighbors and to strengthen all of you in faith,’ Bishop David Zubik said.” By WPXI-TV11 News

VOICES

The media is not the church’s enemy
“Yes, media outlets need to tell the whole truth, the good news as well as the bad. But as professional journalists, we also have to respect news values in our coverage, and often that involves some sort of conflict(link is external) … In his comments calling for transparency, Bishop Shawn McKnight of Jefferson City, Missouri, may have inadvertently promoted the work of journalists. “We as a church need to use all the resources that are available to us, and in many instances that will be found in lay people, who are skilled and qualified in investigating these kinds of accusations and helping us evaluate the facts,” he said. Exactly. The media are not the enemy. We are professionals, trying to do our jobs, in the service of the truth.” By Heidi Schlumpf, National Catholic Reporter

Confessions of a Vatican source: Jason Barry on the McCarrick report
“When Pope John Paul II made Theodore McCarrick a cardinal in 2001, the archbishop of Washington, D.C., was a silk-between-the-fingers fundraiser(link is external). A year later, when the pope summoned the U.S. cardinals to Rome to confront the abuse crisis, McCarrick took the lead at press conferences — a bold move, given his revelation to The Washington Post and CNN that accusations against him had been investigated and found false. In the ensuing years, McCarrick traveled the globe as an unofficial church diplomat, and rumors spread that he had slept with seminarians while a bishop in Metuchen and Newark, New Jersey, using a beach house on the Jersey Shore. Rumors no journalist could pin down.” By Jason Berry, National Catholic Reporter

Who’s at fault? New reports on clergy sex abuse offer different views
“On the same day last week (Nov. 10), two reports on sexual abuse in the Catholic Church made headlines. The first report, released by the Vatican, is the so-called ‘McCarrick report’ … The second report was released by an independent commission in the U.K … What the reports have in common is long lists of sexual abuse victims and their broken families(link is external). The testimonies of survivors are instructive for the quality of their demand for justice and yet, to paraphrase Tolstoy, each unhappy survivor story ‘is unhappy in its own way.’ Each story is unbearable in its details of the physical and psycho-spiritual torture and the chronic wounds that remain.” By Rose Marie Berger, Sojourners on Sojo.net

CLERGY SEXUAL ABUSE

Prominent priest, EWTN contributor accused of sexual assault
“A floor mosaic inscribed with the words ‘The Truth Above All Things’ welcomes visitors to the Church of St. Michael in midtown Manhattan where popular priest Fr. George Rutler has served as pastor since 2013. Yet Rutler now stands accused of sexually assaulting a female security guard after she allegedly filmed him watching gay pornography(link is external) last month. Those allegations have shocked parishioners and associates of Rutler, as they seek to reconcile the accusations with their own experience of the politically and theologically conservative priest known for his regular appearances on EWTN and prolific writings where he derided ‘abortionists and the sodomites,’ advocated for traditional liturgical practices and regularly criticized Pope Francis.” By Christopher White, National Catholic Reporter

Priests’ defamation suits are the latest wrinkle in sex-abuse fallout
“As U.S. dioceses continue to pay out big settlements for lawsuits, the church is facing another nettlesome problem stemming from the abuse scandal: Priests who say they were falsely accused are suing for defamation(link is external). In August 2018, shortly after a Pennsylvania grand jury report listed more than 300 priests in six dioceses in the state who had been credibly accused of abusing more than 1,000 minors since 1947, Nebraska Attorney General Doug Peterson asked the three dioceses in his state to turn over files on church personnel credibly accused of sexual abuse since 1978.” By Mark Nacinovich, National Catholic Reporter

COLORADO

Further investigation into Colorado Catholic Church IDs 46 more victims, nine more abusive priests—including Denver’s Father Woody
“Father James Moreno sexually assaulted a teenage boy dozens of times over two years after they met at a Denver Catholic school(link is external) — including in the rectory of the city’s most prominent church. Moreno assaulted the boy more than 60 times between 1978 and 1980. He groomed him, gave him alcohol and marijuana, and raped him, according to a report released Tuesday Dec. 1) by the Colorado Attorney General’s Office. The abuse happened all over Denver: in the rooms of St. Andrew’s Preparatory Seminary High School, in Moreno’s car, in the boy’s home, in the rectory of the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in the heart of Denver, one block from the state Capitol.” By Elise Schmelzer, The Denver Post

FLORIDA

What can Florida do about 51 Catholic priests who abused kids? Nothing
“The state attorney general’s office has concluded a two-year investigation into alleged sexual abuse by Catholic priests. Investigators believe the systemic abuse has been largely weeded out. That’s the good news. The bad news is investigators say they have enough evidence to prosecute dozens of priests, and here’s what they plan to do about it: Nothing(link is external). They can’t. Statute-of-limitations laws make the alleged criminal untouchable.” By Orlando Sentinel Editorial Board

ILLINOIS

Suburban Lake County priest investigated for past child sex abuse
“The Archdiocese of Chicago is investigating allegations that a suburban priest sexually abused children(link is external) 25 years ago. Cardinal Blase Cupich wrote a letter to parishioners on Saturday (Nov. 28) saying he asked the Rev. David Ryan to ‘step aside from ministry’ after the archdiocese received the allegations. Ryan, pastor at St. Francis de Sales Catholic Parish in Lake Zurich, has been ‘directed to live away from the parish’ during the investigation and ‘is fully cooperating with this direction,’ Cupich said in the letter.” By NBC-TV5 News

MISSISSIPPI

Abuse trial delayed for ex-Catholic Church friar
“The trial for a former Catholic Church friar accused of sex abuse at a Mississippi school has been postponed(link is external). Paul West, a former member of the Franciscan religious order, was supposed to face trial on Tuesday for allegations that he sexually molested students in the 1990s at Greenwood’s St. Francis of Assisi School. No new trial date was immediately set, Kelly Roberts, senior deputy clerk of the Leflore County Circuit Court, told The Greenwood Commonwealth.” By Associated Press on WJTV-TV12 News

NEW JERSEY

Over a year, more than 230 sex abuse suits have been filed in NJ against the Catholic Church
“The lawsuits filed over the past 12 months in New Jersey alleging sex abuse by Catholic priests have been numerous — there are more than 230 of them — and varied(link is external). One man said that when he was a student at St. Joseph Regional High School in Montvale and told a vice principal that he’d been abused by a religious brother, the administrator struck the student over the head with a 500-page book, warned him never to speak of it again and imposed a five-day suspension.” By Abbott Koloff and Deena Yellin, NorthJersey.com

NEW YORK.

New York attorney general sues bishops Malone, Grosz and Buffalo Diocese for failing to protect children
“New York State Attorney General Letitia James on Monday (Nov. 23) sued the Catholic Diocese of Buffalo and former bishops Richard J. Malone and Edward M. Grosz for failing to protect children and for engaging in a decades-long cover-up of sexual abuse by diocesan priests. New York’s top prosecutor also filed a motion that seeks to force a full public disclosure of predatory priests and their actions against those whom they were entrusted with spiritual care, and is seeking a court-appointed monitor that would ensure that interim Bishop Edward B. Scharfenberger complies with sexual abuse policies and procedures.” By Charlie Spect, WKBW-TV7 News

PENNSYLVANIA

Allentown Diocese has paid $16 million to abuse victims
“The Allentown Diocese has paid nearly $16 million to victims of sexual abuse by members of the clergy(link is external), it reported Tuesday (Nov. 24), as the program to compensate victims draws to a close. The payments, totaling $15.85 million, were made to 96 abuse victims through the diocese’s Independent Reconciliation and Compensation Program, according to a final report by an independent committee appointed to oversee the program.” By Peter Hall, The Morning Call

UTAH

Utah priest abuse lawsuit poses new challenge to time limits on old cases
“What began as a routine visit to the deli aisle last year ended in a revelation for Guy Platt. Platt spotted the Colosimo name on a pork sausage label and wondered if it belonged to a member of the family he recalled from childhood. But an online search turned up a series of mugshots and a more profound connection. The man he said he remembers sexually abusing and threatening him(link is external) five decades earlier hadn’t been a schoolmate’s father like he’d thought.” By Annie Knox, Deseret News

CANADA

Catholics angered, saddened by Montreal church’s mishandling of abusive priest
“People who tried to warn Montreal’s Catholic Archdiocese about a pedophile priest say they’re sad, angry and overwhelmed by an explosive report outlining the church’s repeated failures to heed their warnings(link is external). The Montreal archdiocese asked retired Quebec Superior Court justice Pepita Capriolo to investigate the church’s handling of allegations against former priest Brian Boucher, who was convicted in January 2019 of sexually abusing two young boys.” By Leah Hendry and Steve Rukavina, CBC News

FRANCE

‘My world was the Church,’ abuse survivor Andrew Madden on his journey to recovery
“Andrew Madden was an altar boy. He had always enjoyed going to the Church and wanted to become a priest. But aged 12, he was abused by Father Ivan Payne. That abuse lasted for several years(link is external).In Ireland, he was the first victim of clerical child sex abuse to go public with his story in 1995. As part of an Unreported Europe episode focusing on the survivors of Ireland’s child sex abuse scandal at the hands of Catholic priests, Euronews spoke to Madden his personal healing journey.” By Euronews

GERMANY

Child abuse in the Catholic Church—a scandalous approach to scandal
“Standing on the banks of the Rhine river, practically in the shadows of Cologne’s cathedral, Karl Haucke says he has lost faith in the Catholic Church. His story begins in the early 1960s, when he was sent to boarding school in the West German capital at the time, Bonn. From the age of eleven, he was regularly abused by a priest for four years—at least once a week(link is external). But the abuse was not just of a physical, sexual nature. The priest made him relate the stories during the weekly confession.” By Deutche Welle

German survivors accuse Cardinal Woelki of ‘abuse of abuse victims’
“The two abuse survivors who resigned as spokesmen of the victims’ advisory board in the Cologne Archdiocese have accused Cardinal Rainer Maria Woelki of a ‘renewed abuse of abuse victims(link is external).’ The board had been ‘completely overrun’ by Cardinal Woelki’s treatment of the Cologne abuse studies, Patrick Bauer told the Süddeutsche Zeitung newspaper in comments published Nov. 19. ‘We were meant to deliver the certificate: approved by the advisory board,’ said Karl Haucke.” By Catholic News Service

GREAT BRITAIN, SCOTLAND & WALES

New pupils barred from top UK Catholic school after abuse scandal
“The government has ordered one of England’s most prestigious Catholic boarding schools, Ampleforth college, to stop admitting new pupils as a result of ‘very serious’ failings. Scandal has surrounded the private school in recent years and an independent inquiry into child sexual abuse published a highly critical report in August 2018 that said ‘appalling sexual abuse [was] inflicted over decades on children as young as seven(link is external).’” By Mattha Busby, The Guardian

IRELAND & NORTHERN IRELAND

Sins of the fathers: Ireland’s sex abuse survivors
“Ireland has one of the largest Catholic communities in Europe. The Church is rooted into the culture of the country, but when Pope Francis visited Dublin in 2018 his words divided the nation. Since 2002, multiple reports and investigations have shed light on nearly 15,000 cases of sexual abuse committed in Ireland between 1970 and 1990(link is external). The pontiff had come to apologise for those crimes carried out by members of the Church’s clergy. For many survivors, the visit and remorse that came with it was far too late.” By Euronews

MALTA

Stop blaming children for the behavior of sexual predators
“Two headlines this week have perturbed me considerably, not only because of the stories they refer to, but because it points to an alarming inability by some fellow members of the press to comprehend how important it is to report sex abuse stories using the right terminology(link is external). This is not about being ‘politically correct’, which has become a hackneyed phrase, and is often being used with negative connotations, much in the same way we sneer at people for being ‘snowflakes’, i.e., overly sensitive and easily offended.” By Josanne Cessar, Malta Today

NEW ZEALAND

Catholic Church abuse: Victim says church refused to strip honors from abuser
“A woman who was sexually abused at a Catholic school(link is external) says the church refused to strip her abuser of any honors or remove his name from a school classroom despite evidence he had abused multiple people. It also never told her to go to police and instead offered her $6000 in compensation – which she rejected. Frances Tagaloa, 52, gave her evidence before the Royal Commission of Inquiry into Abuse in State Care this morning (Nov. 29), as hearings began on abuse in faith-based institutions.” By Isaac Davison, New Zealand Herald

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Voice of the Faithful Focus News Roundup

October 26, 2020

TOP STORIES


In case related to abuse at minor seminary, two priests face trial at Vatican
“Two priests connected to a minor seminary located at the Vatican will appear before a Vatican criminal court Oct. 14 on charges related to the alleged sexual abuse of students(link is external) at the seminary. Father Gabriele Martinelli faces charges of sexually abusing younger boys when he was a seminarian at the St. Pius X Pre-Seminary. Father Enrico Radice, former rector of the seminary, is accused of aiding and abetting the abuse. The two were indicted in late 2019 following an investigation that began in November 2017.” By Cindy Wooden, Catholic News Service, on Cruxnow.com

Poland’s powerful Cardinal Dziwisz accused of covering up abuse case
“Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz, the Polish bishops, and the Vatican’s ambassador in Poland are responsible for the case of Janusz Szymik, a long-time victim of the abusive priest Fr. Jan Wodniak(link is external). Why does the injured person have to fight for justice for over 25 years, and still waits … Szymik claims that between the years of 1984 and 1989 he was sexually abused almost 500 times by Wodniak in the village of Międzybrodzie Bialskie, about two hours southeast of Krakow.” By Szymon Piegza, National Catholic Reporter

Judge: Victims can sue Santa Fe Archdiocese over transfer
“A U.S. bankruptcy judge has ruled that lawyers for clergy sex abuse survivors can file lawsuits alleging the Archdiocese of Santa Fe fraudulently transferred millions to avoid bigger payouts to victims(link is external). The recent decision by Judge David T. Thuma in the Chapter 11 reorganization case opens the door to what could be a multimillion-dollar boon to hundreds of alleged victims, The Albuquerque Journal reports. Or it could set off protracted, costly legal appeals that would tap funds that could have paid valid abuse claims.” By Associated Press

Clergy shortage grows to more than 14k Catholics for every priest, Vatican data shows
“Catholic missions are struggling amid dwindling vocations and the COVID-19 pandemic, according to data released by the Vatican ahead of the World Mission Day this Sunday (Oct. 18). The number of priests and ordained leaders has dropped significantly(link is external), especially in Europe and America, according to the report issued on Friday (Oct. 16) by the Vatican Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, charged with distributing clergy and coordinating missions around the world.” By Claire Giangravé, Religion News Service

Justices review priest abuse lawsuit’s ruling on time limits
“Pennsylvania’s highest court on Tuesday (Oct. 20) grappled with whether a woman’s lawsuit on claims of sexual abuse by a priest decades ago should be allowed to proceed(link is external) — a lower-court ruling that has launched many other lawsuits since it was issued a year ago. In oral argument, the justices focused questions on whether the plaintiff, Renee Rice, waited too long to sue the Roman Catholic Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown. Rice has argued that a 2016 grand jury report alerted her to allegations that church officials’ silence about a priest who she says molested her amounted to fraudulent concealment.” By Mark Scolforo, Associated Press, in National Catholic Reporter

ACCOUNTABILITY

Poland becomes testing ground for Vatican’s new anti-abuse legislation
“In 1984 in the town of Międzybrodzie in southwestern Poland, a boy was abused by the local parish priest for more than five years, beginning when he was 12. Today, more than thirty-six years later, he is still looking for justice(link is external). ‘Abuse was only one station in my personal way of the cross,’ he wrote in a letter to Pope Francis last week. The investigation into the case not only involved the accused priest and his bishop – the now retired Tadeusz Rakoczy – but might also involve Cardinal Stanisław Dziwisz, the longtime secretary of Pope John Paul II, who later served as Archbishop of Krakow from 2005-2016.” By Paulina Guzik, Cruxnow.com

Vatican clears 91-year-old priest of abuse allegations
“The Vatican has determined that an allegation of sexual abuse of a minor against a 91-year-old priest is unsubstantiated(link is external), the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Boston said Tuesday (Oct. 13). The Rev. John P. Carroll, who was ordained in 1953, has been on administrative leave since 2005 while the allegation has been investigated, the archdiocese said in a statement. Carroll will remain restricted from ministry and has been given senior priest status, the statement said.” By Andrew Stanton, The Boston Globe

POPE FRANCIS

Pope intention for October: that women have greater leadership roles in the Church
“No one has been baptized a priest or a bishop. We have all been baptized as lay people. Lay people are protagonists of the Church. Today, it is especially necessary to create broader opportunities for a more incisive female presence in the Church(link is external). And we must emphasize the feminine lay presence because women tend to be left aside. We must promote the integration of women, especially where important decisions are made. We pray that by the virtue of baptism, the laity, especially women, may participate more in areas of responsibility in the Church, without falling into forms of clericalism that diminish the lay charism.” By Pope Francis on VaticanNews.va

Francis expressed ‘dramatic concern’ over Germany’s ‘synodal path’
“A German bishop says Pope Francis expressed a ‘dramatic concern’ over the Catholic Church in Germany and its ‘synodal path’(link is external) of reform that began last year, which could include reviewing ‘taboo’ issues such as priestly celibacy and a female priesthood. Francis comments were reported made at Wednesday’s (Oct. 14) general audience during a conversation with Bishop Heinz Josef Algermissen, the retired bishop of Fulda. Algermissen spoke on the phone with German newspaper Fuldaer Zeitung after meeting the pope.” By Inés San Martin, Cruxnow.com

CARDINAL PELL

Cardinal George Pell meets with Pope Francis for first time since child sexual abuse convictions quashed
Cardinal George Pell has met with Pope Francis at the Vatican(link is external). The meeting was confirmed in the Holy See’s daily bulletin. The Vatican released video of the private audience, showing Cardinal Pell sitting with the Pope inside his office while the pair were filmed by a camera crew. No further details were provided, but Cardinal Pell told reporters in front of his residence just outside the Vatican walls that the meeting ‘went very well.’” By ABC News Australia

BISHOPS

Pope Francis accepts resignation of Polish bishop under investigation
“Pope Francis accepted Saturday (Oct. 17) the resignation of the Bishop of Kalisz in central Poland(link is external), Edward Janiak, who is under investigation for his handling of an abuse case. Since June, Janiak’s diocese has been administered by Archbishop Grzegorz Ryś of Łódź. Pope Francis named Ryś apostolic administrator ‘sede plena’ of the Diocese of Kalisz June 25. ‘Sede plena’ is a term used to signify that a see is still occupied by a bishop.” By Hannah Brockhaus, Catholic News Agency

WOMEN IN THE CHURCH

Germany’s Catholic Church: women are pushing for equality
“Monika Schmelter is one of the women who crisscrosses the country to press for equal rights in the Catholic Church. The reason, she points out, is that people are leaving the church in droves — including her own children. Many women share her experience of seeing their children turn their backs on the church. In response, they have come together to form a movement called ‘Maria 2.0.’(link is external) Many of them are among the traditional church faithful: women who are the backbone of Catholic parishes across Germany. They raised their sons and daughters by giving them a spiritual home, and guiding them through important sacraments.” By Deutsche-Welle

Women who ‘applied’ to be clergy say Vatican envoy is ‘open-minded’
“Seven women who recently turned in résumés at the Vatican embassy to France for ecclesial jobs open only to men were shocked not only when they got a response, but were offered one-on-one private meetings with Vatican’s nuncio(link is external) to the country, Archbishop Celestino Migliore … Several of the women came out of their conversation describing it not only as ‘cordial’ and pleasant, but praising Migliore – a longtime Vatican diplomat who from 2002-2010 served as the Vatican’s Permanent Observer to the United Nations – as kind, as an attentive listener, and as someone who is well-informed.” By Elise Ann Allen, Cruxnow.com

VATICAN

Vatican plagued by scandal as Pope Francis sorts through its finances
Pope Francis faces a scandal as he tries to sort out the Vatican’s finances(link is external). This month, he appeared publicly with European financial inspectors to reassure them that he’s cleaning house. Pope Francis was elected with a mandate to clean up the Vatican’s murky finances, and he’s made strides in doing so. But as NPR’s Sylvia Poggioli reports, the Vatican is still plagued by scandal and intrigue.” By Sylvia Poggioli, National Public Radio

Power struggles entangle the Vatican
“Sometimes for excellent reasons, presidents and prime ministers in democracies are prone to suspect plots aimed at removing them or forcing fundamental policy changes. The reign of Pope Francis, now in its eighth year, testifies to the fact that ruthless power struggles go on at the Vatican, too(link is external). The infighting revolves around alleged financial crimes, sexual abuse scandals, doctrinal disputes and Pope Francis’s efforts to reform the Vatican’s administrative apparatus. All are being weaponised in a contest for control of the Roman Catholic Church that has persisted since the death in 2005 of John Paul II, the second-longest-serving pope in the Church’s more than 2,000-year history.” By Tony Barber, Financial Times

CHURCH FINANCES

Australian police probe alleged Vatican funds transfer amid Pell trial
“Australian police are investigating the alleged transfer of Vatican funds to Australia amid the prosecution of former Vatican treasurer George Pell for child sex abuse(link is external) and have referred the matter to an anti-corruption body. The Australian Federal Police (AFP) confirmed on Wednesday (Oct. 21) they have received information from Australia’s financial crimes watchdog. ‘The AFP is undertaking a review of the relevant information,’ the police said in emailed comments. The AFP said it had also referred some aspects of the matter to the Victorian Independent Broad-based Anti-corruption Commission (IBAC), which investigates misconduct by state police.” By Sonali Paul, Reuters

Moveyval team concludes evaluation of Vatican Bank
“Moneyval, the Council of Europe Committee of Experts on the Evaluation of Anti-Money Laundering Measures and the Financing of Terrorism concluded what has been described as a ‘positive and collaborative’ on-site visit to the Vatican(link is external). A statement released by the Holy See Press Office said the meetings, that took place during the evaluation visit, ‘were held in a constructive and cooperative atmosphere.’” By Independent Catholic News

Vatican updates transparency laws to strengthen financial management
“Continuing its efforts to combat money laundering and financial mismanagement, the Vatican amended its transparency laws and expanded the role of its financial watchdog agency(link is external) in monitoring financial transactions. According to a statement released Oct. 10, the Vatican said it updated its legislation, more commonly known as Law XVIII. Passed in 2013, Law XVIII regulated financial activities and paved the way for collaboration and an exchange of information between the Vatican’s Financial Information Authority, known by the Italian acronym AIF, and its international counterparts, and monitored financial transactions.” By Junno Arocho Esteves, Catholic News Service

VOICES

Who governs the Catholic Church? It’s an open question.
“As every Catholic knows, the pope runs the church. Is it not exceedingly strange, therefore, to call church governance an open question?(link is external) Yes, it is strange, but I feel compelled to do so for three reasons. First, I have just published a book, “When Bishops Meet,” in which the third chapter is entitled “Who Is in Charge?” That question arose with unavoidable force as I compared and contrasted the last three church-wide councils: Trent, Vatican I and Vatican II. That review of the councils showed clearly that, historically speaking, the question of who runs the church is complex—and cannot be reduced to the papacy.” By John W. O’Malley, America: The Jesuit Review

N.J. diocese bankruptcy filing creates uncertainty
“Amid the world-shaking news of recent days, the announcement that the Catholic Diocese of Camden has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection created fewer ripples than it might have at some other time(link is external). This may well have played into the diocese’s desire for the faithful and the community to regard the event as a ‘nothing to see here; business as usual’ one. After all, Americans have been busy sorting sort out another set of circumstances concerning the health of its president, where the smiley faces posted in official updates turned out not to be what they first seemed.” By South Jersey Times Editorial Board

CLERGY SEXUAL ABUSE

Churches knew of allegations against notorious pedophile priests, royal commission says
“The Anglican and Catholic churches knew about allegations against notorious pedophile priests years before they were convicted and jailed for child sexual abuse(link is external), missing crucial opportunities to stop them from abusing other children. The findings were outlined in two unredacted and one previously unreleased report published by the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse on Tuesday (Oct. 20). The findings were previously redacted so as not to prejudice ongoing legal proceedings against the two abusers: the former Anglican dean of Newcastle Graeme Lawrence and the former Catholic priest Vincent Gerard Ryan.” By Melissa Davey, The Guardian

COLORADO

Report: 18 people eligible for compensation in statewide priest abuse cases
“The Most Rev. Stephen J. Berg, bishop of the Diocese of Pueblo, said Friday (Oct. 16) that he is grateful for the work of an independent program created to help victims of historic sexual abuse by priests throughout the state(link is external). The Independent Reconciliation and Reparations Program provides survivors of abuse with an opportunity to file claims for compensation and to receive victim support services, regardless of how long ago the abuse occurred.” By Anthony A. Mestas, The Pueblo Chieftain

Colorado’s Catholic dioceses paid $6.68 million to 73 survivors of priest abuse
“Colorado’s three Catholic dioceses have paid $6.68 million to 73 survivors of sexual abuse by priests(link is external). That’s according to an update Friday (Oct. 16) from the managers of the state’s Independent Reconciliation and Reparations Program, which fielded claims from survivors and determined their credibility and eligibility for compensation, and how much money each should be given by the church. Eight claims were rejected by the IRRP. Another eight claims are pending because the survivors are waiting to receive payment, have not received their compensation offers or must still report their abuse to law enforcement before their cases can move forward.” By Jesse Paul, Colorado Sun

ILLINOIS

Archdiocese of Chicago removes retired pastor Daniel McCarthy from Norwood Park parish following allegation of sexual abuse
“The Archdiocese of Chicago over the weekend removed the Rev. Daniel McCarthy from St. Elizabeth of the Trinity, a parish in Norwood Park where he was pastor emeritus, after an allegation surfaced that he sexually abused a minor(link is external) about 50 years ago at a Far North Side orphanage, according to the archdiocese. McCarthy, a chaplain since 2012 at Notre Dame College Prep, a Roman Catholic school in Niles, was alleged to have committed the abuse while he was assigned to the now-closed Angel Guardian Orphanage in Chicago’s West Ridge neighborhood, according to a letter Cardinal Blase Cupich sent Saturday to the St. Elizabeth of Trinity community.” By Kelli Smith, Chicago Tribune

Ex-Merrillville priest accused of abuse, faking assault is defrocked, church says
“A former Merrillville priest accused of sexually abusing a girl(link is external) in the 1980s, and later faking a 2018 beating at St. Michael Byzantine Catholic Church was officially banned from the priesthood this summer, according to a church statement. After a nearly two-year review, Basil J. Hutsko was defrocked, according to a letter dated Aug. 17, posted online from the Byzantine Catholic Eparchy of Parma, an Eastern Catholic sect based in Ohio.” By Meredith Colias-Pete, Post-Tribune

INDIANA

Indiana church defrocks priest who allegedly abused minor, faked assault claim
“An Indiana priest who garnered headlines in 2018 by claiming that he had been assaulted in a hate crime and allegedly sexually abused a minor in the 1980s has been defrocked(link is external). Father Basil John Hutsko of Saint Michael Byzantine Catholic Church in Merrillville claimed back in 2018 that he’d been assaulted by a man shouting ‘this is for all the little kids.’” By Michael Gryboski, Christian Post Reporter

LOUISIANA

Archdiocese of New Orleans prepares to add 7 Franciscan priests to clergy abuse list
“The Archdiocese of New Orleans is preparing to add seven names to its list of local clergy found to have credible accusations of child molestation(link is external) against them, after a Roman Catholic religious order released its own roster of accused priests last week. The additional names, which include a priest who is believed to have preyed on a minor during his time in the New Orleans area, will bring the total number of alleged abusers publicly identified by Archbishop Gregory Aymond to 72.” By Ramon Antonio Vargas, New Orleans Times-Picayune, and David Hammer, WWL-TV

New Orleans priest removed for abuse sent messages to high school student
“The Archdiocese of New Orleans reportedly knew for months but did not inform school officials that a priest chaplain at a Catholic high school had sent texts to a student, in violation of archdiocesan policies(link is external). The priest was removed from ministry last week after admitting to have sexually abused a minor in an unrelated case.” By Catholic News Agency

MICHIGAN

Michigan’s clergy abuse probe identifies 454 accused priests, 811 victims
“A two-year investigation into sexual abuse in Michigan’s Catholic churches has, so far, identified 454 accused priests and 811 victims(link is external), and led to charges against 11 clergymen. Of the 11 charged, two have been convicted thus far. Their sentences were for 60 and 45 days in jail. ‘We are committed to ensuring that every case of sexual abuse and assault is thoroughly reviewed and that whenever we are able to pursue justice for a victim, we do so aggressively and relentlessly,’ said Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel. “We must all commit to breaking down the walls of silence that so often surround sexual assault and abuse.” By Justine Lofton, MLive.com

Former priest charged with sex crime in Farmington returns to court next week
“A former priest charged with a sex crime that allegedly happened in 1977 in Farmington has been extradited from Illinois and arraigned in 47th District Court, where he will return next week for a pre-exam conference. Gary Berthiaume, 78, was arrested Sept. 29 at his home in Warrendale, Illinois, and arraigned Monday (Oct. 19) on one count of second-degree criminal conduct for allegedly assaulting a young boy at Our Lady of Sorrows Catholic Church(link is external). Bond was set at $50,000 cash/surety.” By Aileen Wingblad, The Oakland Press

NEW JERSEY

Twin hit of abuse claims and pandemic could push NJ Catholic dioceses toward bankruptcy
“For Catholic churches around the country, it has become a familiar refrain: After shelling out millions of dollars in settlements to survivors of clergy abuse, a diocese says it’s broke and declares bankruptcy. The Diocese of Camden, representing a half-million Catholics in 62 South Jersey parishes, became the latest to file for bankruptcy protection(link is external) on Oct. 1 — 10 months after a new state law waived the statute of limitations on decades-old abuse claims.” By Deena Yellin, NorthJersey.com

NEW YORK.

Date to file lawsuits against Syracuse Diocese moved up to April
“A bar on filing claims against the Roman Catholic Syracuse Diocese will begin April 15, 2021, as part of Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceedings(link is external). Chief Judge Margaret Cangilos-Ruiz of the U.S. Bankruptcy Court Northern District of New York made the decision Thursday, according to an announcement from the law firm Jeff Anderson and Associates. This was confirmed by diocese officials. Court records show a bench decision was made but a written decision has not yet been issued.” By H. Rose Schneider, Observer-Dispatch

Pastor place on leave after two sex abuse allegations
“The pastor of a Roman Catholic parish in Buffalo’s Old First Ward has been placed on administrative leave pending an investigation(link is external) by the Diocese of Buffalo into two allegations of child sex abuse made against the priest that date back to the 1970s, according to a statement released by the diocese Friday (Oct.9). The Rev. Donald Lutz, pastor of Our Lady of Perpetual Help Catholic Church, was placed on leave by Apostolic Administrator Bishop Edward B. Scharfenberger.” By Harold McNeil, The Buffalo News

OHIO

Rape case is latest action to bring attention to Catholic clergy in Butler County
“In a little more than a year, multiple local Catholic clergy have drawn accusations – and one faces criminal charges – about sexual abuse of youths(link is external). One of the more high-profile cases involving a former Liberty Twp. priest took its next step this week, when a judge ruled an alleged second victim of the Rev. Geoff Drew could testify at Drew’s rape trial, which was also rescheduled from this month to April 2021. In a little more than a year, multiple local Catholic clergy have drawn accusations – and one faces criminal charges – about sexual abuse of youths.” By Michael D. Clark, Journal-News

PENNSYLVANIA

Priest found unsuitable for ministry after sex abuse allegation in Chester County is substantiated
“A Catholic priest has been found unsuitable for ministry after a finding that he sexually abused a minor(link is external) in the late 1970s in Chester County, the Archdiocese of Philadelphia announced Friday (Oct. 9). The victim reported in October 2019 that the Rev. William E. Dean, now 70, had committed the abuse while serving at SS. Philip & James Parish in Exton. The allegation was reported to the Independent Reconciliation and Reparations Program, which was set up in 2018 to financially compensate victims of clergy sex abuse whose claims are too old to be taken to court.” By Julie Shaw, Philadelphia Inquirer

Pennsylvania Supreme Court sets hearing in clergy abuse case
“The Pennsylvania Supreme Court is scheduled to hear oral arguments on Oct. 20 on the appeal from a Roman Catholic diocese in a case that could allow plaintiffs to sue over sexual abuse by priests in cases that otherwise would be barred by the statute of limitations(link is external). The court will hear the case of Renee Rice of Altoona, who sued the Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown alleging sexual abuse by one of its priests, the Rev. Charles F. Bodziak, in the 1970s and 1980s.” By Peter Smith, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

RHODE ISLAND

Judge dismisses priest-abuse suits against R.I. Catholic diocese
“A state judge on Friday (Oct. 16) dismissed three priest-abuse lawsuits against the leaders of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Providence(link is external). The ruling, by Superior Court Judge Netti Vogel, analyzed a new 2019 law that extended the deadline to sue over childhood sexual abuse in Rhode Island from seven years to 35 years after the victim’s 18th birthday. Vogel noted that if the deadline had already run out under the old law, someone could still sue their ‘perpetrator’ under the new deadline retroactively.” By Brian Amaral, Providence Journal

VIRGINIA

Catholic Diocese of Richmond paying $6.3 million to 51 victims sexually abused by clergy
“The Catholic Diocese of Richmond is paying $6.3 million to 51 individuals who as minors experienced sexual abuse by clergy(link is external). News of the payments was released Thursday in a report on the diocese’s website. ‘The completion of this program is by no means the end of our efforts to provide for our diocese’s victim survivors,’ wrote Bishop Barry C. Knestout in a letter on the website announcing the report. ‘Our outreach is ongoing. We must, and we will, continue to meet victim survivors with support and compassion motivated by our shared love of Jesus Christ.’” By Dean Hoffmeyer, Richmond Times-dispatch

Catholic abuse survivor says the money is not enough, she wants answers
“Father Mark White has been calling for transparency from the Catholic Church for a long time(link is external). The Catholic Diocese of Richmond will pay $6.3 million to 51 people who were sexually abused by clergy members when they were minors. As White explains, the money is a start. ‘It’s some kind of effort to make people who, to give them a cash settlement. Money comes in handy, because people who suffered the sex abuse as minors wind up with a lot of financial problems as a result.’” By Santiago Meilli-Huber, WFXR-TV News

BANGLADESH

Sex abuse: the price of negligence, ignorance and cover-ups
“Church leaders in Bangladesh are perhaps relieved that a series of brutal gang rapes in the country have overshadowed and shifted public and media attention from the arrest of a priest on allegations of raping a minor girl(link is external). Father Prodip Gregory, 41, a parish priest in Rajshahi Diocese, was arrested by police on Sept. 29, a day after the elder brother of the girl sued him. He is the first Catholic priest from the minority Christian community to be arrested for rape. If found guilty, he will be the first priest to serve a jail term for rape.” By Rock Ronald Rozario, UCANews.com

CANADA

‘Loophole’ in child abuse reporting in historic cases: advocates
“If a child told you they’d been sexually assaulted by an adult what would you do? Would you call police? Would you report the allegations to a children’s aid society? Or would you do neither? For most of us, the moral choice is clear. So why has the obligation to report often been ignored by many who claim to be doing God’s work(link is external)? Sister Nuala Kenny is a pediatrician who has spent decades examining the sexual assault scandal rocking the religious institution she’s given her life to.” By Adrian Ghobrial and Jessica Bruno, Toronto City News

Toronto-based order of priests buried allegations of sex abuse at boys camp: whistleblower
“For a group of underprivileged children from Toronto, a sunny escape became a cabin of horrors. A whistleblower tells CityNews he reported allegations of child sexual assault by a Catholic Father(link is external) and said he now wishes he hadn’t gone to the priest’s religious order to seek justice. ‘In hindsight, knowing more now, I would have phoned the police,’ said Bill Taylor. ‘But at 17, I did what I thought was right.’ This is the first time he’s publicly sharing his story.” By Adrian GhobriAL, Jessica Bruno and Meredith Bond, Toronto City News

Man claims he was sexually assaulted by former principal of St. Michael’s College School
“If you or someone you know are victims of sexual violence(link is external), you can contact Crisis Services Canada, a 24/7 hotline, at 1-833-456-4566 or you can find local support through the Ontario Coalition of Rape Crisis Centres; The Government of Canada has also compiled a list of sexual misconduct support centres. If you are under 18 and need help, contact the Kid’s Help Phone online or at 1-800-668-6868. Peter Luci loaded his father’s shotgun into the trunk of his car, drove to St. Michael’s College School, and sat in the parking lot.” By Adrian Ghobrial, Jessica Bruno and Meredith Bond, Toronto City News

IRELAND & NORTHERN IRELAND

Limerick priest jailed for sexually abusing young boy
“A priest who worked in several parishes in the Diocese of Limerick has been sentenced to three year’s imprisonment after he was convicted of sexually abusing a young boy(link is external) two decades ago. The 60-year-old, who cannot be named for legal reasons, had denied nine charges relating to offences which occurred on dates between September 1, 1999 and December 31, 2002.” By David Hurley, Limerick Leader

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Voice of the Faithful Focus News Roundup


TOP STORIES

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

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

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

ACCOUNTABILITY

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

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

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

CARDINALS

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

CARDINAL PELL

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

McCARRICK INVESTIGATION

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

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

BISHOPS

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

PRIESTS

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

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

LAITY& THE CHURCH

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

VATICAN

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

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

CHURCH FINANCES

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

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

FUTURE OF THE CHURCH

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

VOICES

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

STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS

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

CLERGY SEXUAL ABUSE

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

ALASKA

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

CALIFORNIA

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

CONNECTICUT

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

FLORIDA

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

LOUISIANA

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

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

MAINE

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

MASSACHUSETTS

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

MINNESOTA

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

MISSOURI

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

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

NEW JERSEY

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

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

NEW YORK.

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

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

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

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

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

NORTH CAROLINA

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

OHIO

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

PENNSYLVANIA

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

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

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

TENNESSEE

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

TEXAS

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

VIRGINIA

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

WYOMING

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

ARGENTINA

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

AUSTRALIA

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

FIJI ISLANDS

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

GUAM

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

INDIA

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

INDONESIA

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

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Voice of the Faithful Focus News Roundup


May 22, 2020

TOP STORIES

Cincinnati bishop resigns after failing to report local priest later accused of rape
“A Cincinnati bishop has resigned for his role in handling alleged inappropriate conduct by a priesthttps://local12.com/news/local/cincinnati-bishop-resigns-after-failing-to-report-local-priest-charged-with-rape(link is external). Bishop Joseph Binzer offered his resignation from his office as Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati in late April. Pope Francis accepted the resignation, which is effective Thursday (May 7). Binzer was previously removed as the Director of Priests’ Personnel after he failed to bring past concerns about Father Geoffrey Drew’s conduct to the attention of Archbishop Dennis Schnurr and the Priests’ Personnel Board.” By WKRC-tV12 News

Will the Royal Commission’s investigation bring any consequences for Cardinal Pell?
“On this week’s episode of the ‘Inside the Vatican’ podcast, Vatican correspondent Gerard O’Connell and I discuss the Australian Royal Commission’s findings that Cardinal George Pell knew about priests abusing children(link is external) in the Ballarat diocese as early as 1973, a year after he began working in that diocese, and that Cardinal Pell was involved in transferring pedophile priests between parishes.” By Colleen Dulle and Gerard O’Connell, America: The Jesuit Review

NY judge upholds Child Victims Act after challenge by Rockville Centre diocese
“A judge ruled Wednesday (May 13) that New York’s Child Victims Act is constitutional, rejecting a suit filed by the Diocese of Rockville Centre(link is external) that claimed the law is barred by the due process clause in the state constitution. ‘The court finds the Child Victims Act is a reasonable response to remedy the injustice of past child sexual abuse,’ Justice Steven Jaeger of the New York Supreme Court in Nassau County wrote in his May 13 decision. ‘Accordingly, it does not violate defendant diocese’s right to due process under the New York State Constitution.’” By Catholic News Agency

How central is Catholic church in New Orleans? Many federal judges recuse themselves from abuse cases
“One served as the Archdiocese of New Orleans’ in-house attorney. Another was on the board of the archdiocese’s seminary and earned an award for organizing monthly Masses for special-needs parishioners. A third is married to an attorney who is representing the archdiocese as it seeks bankruptcy protection. Yet another serves on an archdiocesan charity’s board. Respectively, U.S. District Judges Wendy Vitter, Jay Zainey, Sarah Vance and Ivan Lemelle are four members of the federal bench in New Orleans who have recused themselves from clergy abuse lawsuits(link is external) that were transferred to their courthouse after the church filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy on May 1.” By Ramon Antonio Vargas, NOLA.com

Victims of clerical sex abuse suffer from P.T.S.D. They deserve better treatment.
“Oceans of ink have been spilled about the church’s sexual abuse crisis, mostly focusing on the perpetrators and cover-ups. The magnitude of the crimes deserves attention and condemnation, but the victims should not be ignored(link is external). Their pain and long-term psychological damage cannot be undone by simply identifying and punishing the offenders, many of whom are already dead. Prayer, fasting, penance, forgiveness—some of the tools in the Catholic arsenal—are not enough to heal the wounded.” By Edwin T. Collins, America: The Jesuit Review

New Australian report may help church find its way out of abuse crisis
“There are signs that the Catholic Church’s response to the sexual abuse crisis is now getting at deeper, institutional questions(link is external). In particular, how local churches — parishes and dioceses — are governed. In the last few years, a unique example that could bring encouraging news has come from the Australian church. Since 2017-18, the abuse crisis has taken on a new dimension, thanks to the unveiling of cases (such as disgraced former cardinal Theodore McCarrick) and of extensive cover-ups identified and published in the reports of nationwide and regional investigations (such as in Australia, Chile and Pennsylvania).” By Massimo Fggioli, National Catholic Reporter

ACOUNTABILITY

Assessment of Vos Estis Lux Mundi on Its First Anniversary
“Last Thursday, on May 7, one year to the day since Vos Estis Lux Mundi was promulgated, we learned of what appears to be its first removal of a complicit bishop(link is external). A two-line announcement in the Vatican’s daily bulletin noted that the Pope had accepted the resignation of Bishop Joseph R. Binzer from the office of the auxiliary of the Cincinnati archdiocese. Lay Catholic media are reporting that Bishop Binzer was found guilty under Vos Estis, meaning that he was found guilty of intentionally interfering with or avoiding an investigation of an abusive cleric. We don’t know this for sure, however; neither the Pope nor his proxies have made any comment. Some might point to Binzer’s resignation as a sign that Vos Estis is working. Seen differently, it reveals serious flaws in the Pope’s plan.” By Anne Barrett Doyle, BishopAccountability.org

CARDINAL PELL

Cardinal Pell ‘knew of’ clergy abuse, says Australian Royal Commission
“Cardinal George Pell knew of child sexual abuse by priests in Australia as early as the 1970s but failed to take action(link is external), a landmark inquiry found. The findings on Cardinal Pell – an ex-Vatican treasurer – come from Australia’s royal commission into child sexual abuse, which ended in 2017. Details were only revealed on Thursday. A court had previously redacted the report because the cleric was facing child abuse charges at the time. The cardinal has denied the findings.” By BBC News

Clergy abuse survivor draws support for petition to defrock Pell
“A petition started by a clergy abuse survivor has received more than 30,000 signatures supporting his call for Cardinal George Pell to be defrocked. Paul Levey, who was abused by convicted pedophile priest Gerald Ridsdale, began the Change.org petition on Friday and said he was surprised by the response.” By Matt Neal, ABC South West Victoria

BISHOPS

Coleridge re-elected as head of Australian Bishops’ Conference
“On Friday (May 8), the Bishops of Australia re-elected Archbishop Mark Coleridge of Brisbane as President of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference(link is external). Sydney Archbishop Anthony Fisher, OP, also won re-election as Vice-President of the Conference. Both will be serving a second two-year term. The elections were held at the beginning of the Conference’s biannual plenary meeting, which runs from 7-14 May. The meeting is being held using videoconferencing on account of the coronavirus pandemic.” By Vatican News

Pope accepts resignation of Cincinnati auxiliary bishop accused of negligence in priest’s case
“Pope Francis has accepted the resignation of 65-year-old Auxiliary Bishop Joseph R. Binzer of Cincinnati, less than nine months after it was revealed he had failed to inform the archbishop and priest personnel board of a priest’s inappropriate conduct with minors(link is external). Archbishop Dennis M. Schnurr removed Binzer as director of priest personnel for the archdiocese in August after his failure to report the incidents became known; Binzer also resigned from the U.S. bishops’ Committee on the Protection of Children and Young People.” By Catholic News Service in National Catholic Reporter

PRIESTS

Priest who had controversial blog has been suspended
“A Catholic priest in Virginia has been suspended of all priestly duties(link is external) from the two parishes he leads in southwestern Virginia. The suspension is the latest development in the ongoing dispute between Father Mark White and the Bishop of Richmond. White had maintained a well-known blog that was critical of the church’s handling of the sexual abuse scandal.” By Associated Press on Cruxnow.com

New Jersey parishioners protest priests’ ouster
“About 150 parishioners from St. Mary of the Assumption Parish in Elizabeth, N.J., traveled by caravan Jan. 6 to Sacred Heart Cathedral here in an effort to reverse an order by Archbishop John Myers that the four priests living in their parish rectory vacate this month(link is external). The archbishop’s order — which parishioners view as an eviction notice and a summary dismissal of hard-working clergy without recognition of their longtime contribution to the church and the people of Elizabeth — was delivered to three of the priests by telephone the week before Christmas.” By Patricia LeFevere, National Catholic Reporter

WOMEN IN THE CHURCH

Female theologians back Ouellet: Seminaries need women involved in formation
“Several women theologians who teach in Catholic seminaries have applauded Canadian Cardinal Marc Ouellet, who argued in a recent interview that to foster a healthy relationship between the sexes, more women should be involved in priestly formation(link is external). “When women are not present in influential roles within all areas of seminarians’ formation … seminarians are at risk of gaining a distorted view of women,” author and speaker Dawn Eden Goldstein told Crux.” By Elise Ann Allen, Cruxnow.com

LAITY& THE CHURCH

The role of laity in covering up abuse
“If we are going to do real soul-searching about clergy sexual abuse, it’s time we turned the spotlight on to the laity and their role in enabling abusers(link is external). This is a difficult conversation to begin. We are used to seeing ourselves as the good guys, and the solution, not the problem: that if we had lay-led parishes or diocesan offices, this would rid us of clergy abuse for good. Unfortunately, history is not on our side. Cases of clergy sexual abuse in the English-speaking world reveal any number of compromised lay people who have helped with covering up and explaining away, either directly or indirectly.” By Dr. Phillippa Martyr, Catholic Weekly

CHURCH FINANCES

Podcast: The Vatican’s $200 million London real estate scandal, explained
“Last week, an Italian newspaper reported that Pope Francis had fired five employees who were under investigation(link is external) for their involvement in the $200 million purchase of minority stake in a luxury apartment development in London’s upscale Chelsea neighborhood … The Vatican’s judicial system is now investigating staffers who were involved in the deal for possible financial improprieties. Last year, Vatican police raided several offices in the Secretariat of State and the Vatican’s financial watchdog office and suspended the staff members.” By Coleen Dulle, America: The Jesuit Review

With COVID-19 Hurting Church Finances, Catholic Parishes In Boston May Consider Merging
“As many as two-thirds of the 280 Catholic parishes in Boston are working with the archdiocese to find a solution for their financial difficulties(link is external), according to church officials. Houses of worship across the commonwealth have been closed for close to two months since Gov. Charlie Baker issued a stay-at-home advisory and closed non-essential businesses in mid-March. The lack of weekly collections has made it difficult for some parishes to cover their expenses.” By Marilyn Schairer, WGBH News

CHILD PROTECTION

Child protection policies in Twin Cities ‘good in comparison to other archdioceses’
“Nearly five years after the Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis entered settlement with civil authorities over its mishandling of child sex abuse cases, an independent review of its protection policies finds the archdiocese new policies ‘are good in comparison to other archdioceses in the U.S.(link is external)’ The final report was released on May 15 and conducted by CHILD USA, a research-based think tank that promotes child protection policy improvements, and compared the archdiocese’s policies to that of the other 31 archdiocesan policies around the country.” By Christopher White, Cruxnow.com

FUTURE OF THE CHURCH

Plenary Council assemblies set for 2021 and 2022
“The two assemblies for the Fifth Plenary Council of Australia will now take place in October 2021 and April 2022, following the disruption of the original schedule due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Australian Catholic Bishops Conference last week decided to postpone the opening assembly by 12 months(link is external), with it now to be held in October 2021. Adelaide remains the venue for the first assembly. The second assembly will be in Sydney in April 2022.” By CathNews.com

How will the Catholic Church change after the coronavirus pandemic?
“A 25-minute conversation between President Trump and hundreds of bishops and other Catholic leaders sparked an intense debate about the right way for Catholic leaders to engage in politics. While the conference call got a lot of attention, it is just one story among many affecting the church in the United States(link is external), and as the national correspondent for Crux, Chris White has to try to cover them all.” By Jesuitical Podcast, America: The Jesuit Review

Sex, women, power – the three challenges Germany is issuing to the church
“The coronavirus pandemic has made the ‘synodal path’ of the Church of Germany disappear from the news. But meanwhile it continues forward. And on it not only the German Church, but the universal Catholic Church is staking its future: The synod held its first session in Frankfurt from January 30 to February 1. And the inaugural Mass, officiated by Munich cardinal Reinhard Marx, provided the portrait of it, with bishops, priests, and lay people, men and women, mixed together in the nave and arranged in alphabetical order, exactly as in the synodal assembly where each of the 230 delegates votes on an equal footing with the rest and the bishops are in the minority(link is external).” By Settimo Cielo, di Magister Blog

VOICES

Pell findings show extent of Catholic Church’s cover-up
“The cases of child abuse by Catholic clergy that have come to light over the past few decades have been damaging to the church, not just because of the horror of the individual crimes but because of what they said about the church’s higher echelons. Senior clergy were prepared to turn a blind eye to the crimes and even protect the perpetrators(link is external) in the interests of avoiding scandal and sometimes even saving cash by avoiding paying compensation to victims.” By The Sydney Morning Herald Editorial Board

STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS

New York extends civil ‘look back’ for child sexual assault victims
“New Yorkers who were sexually assaulted as children will have a little more time to take legal action against their alleged abusershttps://www.nydailynews.com/news/politics/ny-cuomo-extending-child-victims-act-20200508-jbpl4tbbc5cg7bx6w7g3ckq3he-story.html(link is external). Gov. Cuomo on Friday extended a “look back window” created as part of the Child Victims Act last year that allows survivors abused as kids, to file civil suits beyond the normal statute of limitations.” By Denis Slattery, New York Daily News

CLERGY SEXUAL ABUSE

Abuse survivor’s spiritual growth shows the church can heal, too
“This past February I sent a ‘welcome back to Philadelphia’ letter addressed to Archbishop Nelson Perez. This was written in the capacity of a survivor of clergy sex abuse at the hands of two parish priests(link is external) dating back to 1981 and as the SNAP (Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests) leader for Philadelphia. So imagine my surprise when I was asked to have a Zoom call with the Victim Assistance Coordinator assigned along with the Director for Children and Youth Protection. It was during our conversation that I was informed that the archbishop had received my letter and would welcome a meeting. What do I want to share with him? What will he share with me?” By Michael McDonnell, CatholicPhilly.com

‘Why didn’t he help these little boys?’: how George Pell failed the children of Ballarat
“‘Why isn’t all of Australia talking about what happened here in Ballarat?” That’s the question Clare Linane remembers asking her husband, Peter Blenkiron, 12 years ago as they were sitting in the kitchen talking about his abuse. Linane’s husband, brother and cousin had all been abused when they were children between 1973 and 1974 by Christian Brother and now convicted pedophile(link is external) Edward ‘Ted’ Dowlan. They knew they were among thousands of people living in and around Ballarat – Victoria’s largest inland city – who had been affected by child sexual abuse perpetrated by clergy.” By Melissa Davey, The Guardian

When should clergy report child abuse?
“Even though some mandatory social distancing measures are being lifted, the vast majority of young children will not be going back to school or participating in sports until fall. However, as soon as restrictions are lifted, many of these children and their families will attend religious observances where they will be seen by and talk to clergy members. Some of those returning have committed acts of child abuse and may confess these acts to members of the clergy(link is external). This raises the question: can a clergy member testify in court that an abuser confessed? It depends on whether the clergy-penitent privilege applies.” By Blake R. Hills, Real Clear Religion

Minors accounting for unprecedented amount of calls to National Sexual Assault Hotline
“For the first time, minors are making up half of the victims receiving help(link is external) from the National Sexual Assault Hotline. According to RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network), this is directly related to COVID-19. The Sexual Assault Center in Nashville said it expects Middle Tennessee to see a similar trend. Right now, SAC said kids make up 35 percent of the population it serves.” By Rachael Tiede, FOX17 News

KANSAS

KBI is investigating priests in Kansas town that draws parishioners from across U.S.
“For four decades, the Society of St. Pius X has made its home in this northeast Kansas town, its followers coming from across the country to raise their children according to traditional Catholic values. Now, with attendance at Latin Mass topping 4,000, plans are underway for the breakaway Catholic society to build a $30 million church high on its campus overlooking St. Marys. The Immaculata, the SSPX says, will become the biggest traditional Catholic church in the world. But something else is underway that threatens to overshadow the jubilation over a new house of worship with enough room to accommodate the ever-expanding flock: A criminal investigation by the state’s top law enforcement agency into allegations of priest sexual abuse(link is external).” By Judy L. Thomas, The Kansas City Star

LOUISIANA

Retired New Orleans priest invokes rights against self-incrimination in molestation lawsuit
“In a clear sign of concern about potential criminal charges, a retired New Orleans priest who is accused in a lawsuit of sexually molesting ‘countless’ children(link is external) invoked his constitutional rights against self-incrimination shortly before his deposition. Lawrence Hecker, through his attorney, served notice March 13 that he would essentially exercise his right to remain silent ‘from this point forward’ in a lawsuit filed against him and the Archdiocese of New Orleans in April 2019, according to court records.” By Ramon Antonio Vargas, NOLA.com

Leader of New Orleans archdiocese ministry’s board resigns after filing clergy sex abuse lawsuit
“The leader of the board of directors for one of the Archdiocese of New Orleans’ various ministries resigned his post recently after claiming in a lawsuit against the church that he was molested by one of its priests decades ago(link is external). The plaintiff spoke out about his case after an April 30 letter from the ministry to his fellow board members said he had agreed to resign to avoid ‘at least the appearance of a conflict of interest.’” By Ramon Antonio Vargas, NOLA.com

A New Orleans priest was accused of molestation; he still collected $2,500 monthly in retirement
“Accused of sexually molesting a boy he taught before he become a priest, Paul Calamari walked into New Orleans Archbishop Alfred Hughes’ office on Feb. 5, 2004, to discuss what might be ahead. The Catholic church had only recently been rocked by the sexual-abuse scandal in Boston. Bishops across the U.S. were dealing with allegations in their dioceses, and New Orleans was no different. Calamari ultimately chose to retire, and he began receiving a monthly pension of $1,566 from the archdiocese — which later rose to more than $2,500 a month(link is external), according to court records.” By Ramon Antonio Vargas, NOLA.com

MASSACHUSETTS

Roman Catholic Diocese of Springfield agrees to report all clergy sexual abuse allegations to law enforcement
“The Roman Catholic Diocese of Springfield says from now on it will notify area law enforcement once it learns of any allegations of clergy sexually assaulting minors(link is external) or any other “vulnerable persons” at Western Massachusetts parishes. In a statement issued Wednesday (May 6) by the diocese’s Office of Public Affairs and Communications, Bishop Mitchell T. Rozanski has entered into what is called “Memo of Understanding” with the district attorneys for Hampden, Hampden and Franklin, and Berkshire counties.” By Patrick Johnson, MassLive.com

MICHIGAN

Employee sues Catholic Diocese of Saginaw, claiming retaliation for reporting sex-abuse complaint
“A man who says his job with the Catholic Diocese of Saginaw was impacted after he reported a sex-abuse complaint against a priest has filed a lawsuit against the diocese. In the suit, Gabriel Villarreal alleges he was retaliated against by the diocese(link is external) and its agents for reporting a relative had been assaulted by the Rev. Robert J. DeLand. A jury acquitted DeLand of charges related to the relative, but DeLand was convicted of sexual assaulting a different person in a separate case.” By Cole Waterman, Saginaw and Bay City News

MISSOURI

Chaminade clergy abuse case challenges First Amendment protection for church officials accused of negligence
“The Missouri Supreme Court on Wednesday (May 13) heard arguments in a sex abuse case that asks the court to break with a previous ruling protecting church officials from negligent supervision claims(link is external) because courts deciding such claims could violate separation of church and state. The lawsuit before the state’s top court claims now-deceased Marianist Brother John Woulfe sexually abused a Chaminade College Preparatory School student in 1971 while working as a guidance counselor at the school.” By Nassim Benchaabane, St. Louis Post-Dispatch

NEW MEXICO

St. Jude’s, Immaculate Conception named in lawsuit for 1970s child sexual abuse
“A lawsuit centered on child molestation by Fr. David Holley named two Alamogordo Catholic parishes and several dioceses as defendants. The suit, filed in the 2nd Judicial District Court in Bernalillo County, alleged the Servants of Paraclete, the Catholic Diocese of El Paso, Diocese of Worcester, Diocese of Las Cruces, the Immaculate Conception Parish and St. Jude Parish allowed Holley to prey on boys within the Alamogordo parishes(link is external) during his time in New Mexico in the 1970s.” By Nicole Maxwell, Alamogordo Daily News

NEW YORK

Court denies Diocese of Rockville Centre’s attempt to dismiss 44 lawsuits filed by sexual abuse survivors under New York’s Child Victim’s Act
“A Nassau County Court has denied the Diocese of Rockville Centre’s callous attempt to throw out 44 lawsuits filed by sexual abuse survivors(link is external) under New York’s Child Victims Act. Yesterday (May 12), Nassau County Supreme Court Judge Steven M. Jaeger issued an order denying the dozens of motions to dismiss filed by the diocese. Judge Jaeger rejected the diocese’s argument that the Child Victims Act was unconstitutional and violated its right to due process.” By Jeff Anderson & Associates Staff Writer

Child sexual abuse deadline extended – but not for claims against Rochester priests”
“The one-year window for filing lawsuits over past acts of child sexual abuse has been extended by five months — except for claims against the Rochester diocese for misconduct by its priests(link is external). New York’s Child Victims Act, approved by the state Legislature in early 2019, carved out a one-year period for reviving old child sexual abuse claims that had been barred the statute of limitations. That one-year window was to close Aug. 13.” By Steve Orr, Rochester Democrat and Chronicle

Buffalo Diocese facing backlash for seeking federal funds, relief in CVA cases
“Advocates for survivors of sexual abuse are denouncing the Buffalo Diocese this week after the institution, temporarily headed by Albany Bishop Edward B. Scharfenberger, moved forward with two legal filings that activists say diminish victims’ experiences and could allow the diocese to dodge consequences for decades of alleged abuse and cover-up(link is external).” By Cayla Harris, Albany Times Union

OHIO

Diocese of Youngstown removes clergy member from abuse list
“The Catholic Diocese of Youngstown announced today that William Smaltz’s name has been removed from the list of clergy in the diocese against whom credible, substantiated allegations of sexual abuse(link is external) of a minor have been made. After further inquiry and consideration of additional and new information, the allegations are not deemed credible and substantiated, the diocese said in a news release.” By Mahoning Matters Staff

PENNSYLVANIA

Lawsuit: Man alleges Allentown Diocese priests sexually abused, tortured him in church basement in the 1970s
“A Texas man is suing the Roman Catholic Diocese of Allentown and one of its churches, St. Catharine of Siena in Reading, claiming he was sexually abused and tortured by several priests in a church basement(link is external) in the 1970s. Timothy Paul McGettigan’s attorneys say their client learned that he was not alone in being abused by Allentown Diocese priests from the scathing 2018 Pennsylvania grand jury report on unchecked sexual abuse by clergy across the state, and decided to come forward. He is seeking a jury trial and unspecified monetary damages.” By Laurie Mason Schroeder, Morning Call

Judge Sets Deadline for Abuse Claims Vs. Harrisburg Diocese
“A federal judge is giving most claimants until Nov. 13 to seek compensation over child sexual abuse from the Harrisburg Roman Catholic Diocese(link is external), which sought bankruptcy protection earlier this year. The order signed last week by Chief Bankruptcy Judge Henry Van Eck also gave governmental entities until Dec. 11 to file proofs of claims for debts.” By Associated Press in U.S. News & World Report

TEXAS

San Antonio Archdiocese removes Helotes priest following 2 sexual misconduct allegations
“The San Antonio Archdiocese has removed the pastor of a Catholic church in Helotes after two people accused him of sexual misconduct(link is external). According to a letter dated April 30 from the archdiocese that was sent to parishioners, Monsignor Carlos Davalos sent two sexually inappropriate text messages to an adult parishioner earlier this year.” By KSAT-TV12 News

AUSTRALIA

Pedophile priest Gerald Ridsdale sentenced to 10 years’ jail for sexual abuse of boys in 1970s
“Pedophile priest Gerald Ridsdale will spend at least another three years in jail after pleading guilty to 14 new offenses(link is external) committed against young boys under his care. Some of the offenses happened during Confession while reading the Bible. ‘Your sexual abuse, at times when the child was seeking comfort, reveals your utter hypocrisy,’ the sentencing Judge Gerard Mullaly said.” By Iskhandar Razak, ABC News

Broome Bishop bows out of national conference as police and Vatican investigations continue
“The Catholic Church is maintaining its silence on the status of its ongoing investigation into the leadership and financial practices(link is external) in its Broome diocese in West Australia’s Kimberley region. Catholic Bishop of Broome Christopher Saunders voluntarily stood aside in March after the Vatican took the unusual step of ordering an investigation into the running of the remote northern diocese … The Vatican inquiry came in the wake of a series of complaints to catholic authorities and the public revelation of a WA Police investigation into allegations of sexual misconduct.” By Erin Parke, ABC Kimberley

National protocols to replace Melbourne Response
“The Melbourne Response scheme set up in 1996 to compensate victims of clergy abuse in Melbourne is set to be replaced as Australia’s bishops develop new national protocols for survivors(link is external). Melbourne Archbishop Peter Comensoli is keen to retain some of the more-positive elements of the scheme – such as ongoing care for victims – but is working towards a state-wide approach, based on nationally consistent guidelines, rather than having the Melbourne archdiocese ‘go it alone’ with its own separate process.” By CathNews.com

POLAND

Polish archbishop refers sex abuse case to Vatican
“The head of Poland’s Roman Catholic Church has said he is asking the Vatican to investigate the cover-up of child sexual abuse by priests(link is external). Archbishop Wojciech Polak called on the Church hierarchy to ‘launch proceedings’ following the release of a documentary on the subject on Saturday (May 17). The film tells the story of two brothers who seek to confront a priest who allegedly abused them as children. The Vatican is expected to assign an investigator to the case.” By BBC News

SPAIN

Cartagena Diocese to investigate child abuse from 1950
“The Diocese of Cartagena intends to investigate the sexual abuse of minors and vulnerable people that has been committed within the Catholic Church(link is external) between 1950 and 2010. To do this, a special episcopal delegation has been created, detail of which were announced on Thursday by the bishop of Cartagena, José Manuel Lorca Planes, and his episcopal delegate, Gil José Sáez Martínez.” By The Leader

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Voice of the Faithful Focus News Roundup


May 10, 2020

TOP STORIES

Pell knew of abuse by Australian pedophile priest
“Australian Cardinal George Pell knew a notorious pedophile priest had been moved decades ago because he had sexually abused children(link is external), and should have removed an unstable priest in another parish who was also a suspected pedophile, a government inquiry concluded. A report from the inquiry on child sexual abuse had been released in 2017, but findings concerning Pope Francis’ former finance minister had been redacted until Thursday to avoid prejudicing juries in any future prosecutions.” By Rod McGuirk, Cruxnow.com

The acquittal of Cardinal Pell
“In setting aside the guilty verdict against Cardinal George Pell on sexual-assault charges, Australia’s High Court effectively concluded the criminal-justice aspect of a case that has consumed the nation and the Catholic Church for years. But the April 7 ruling doesn’t really settle anything in the relationship between the church and the Australian state, nor is it likely to resolve the clash between the different ‘kinds’ of Catholicism in Australia and elsewhere. In fact, the decision will probably keep the contentious debates alive(link is external), perhaps for a long time to come.” By Massimo Faggioli, Commonweal

Archdiocese of New Orleans to file bankruptcy; Aymond meets with area priests
The Archdiocese of New Orleans is preparing to file for bankruptcy, a source familiar with the matter said Thursday (Apr. 30) evening, as the mounting cost of unresolved clergy-abuse lawsuits and the shutdown of church services due to the coronavirus deliver crushing blows to church finances. The 227-year-old local institution serving half a million New Orleans-area Catholics will join 26 other American dioceses and Catholic religious orders that have sought financial protection(link is external) from creditors and claimants since the clergy-abuse scandal reached a fever pitch in 2002.” By Ramon Antonio Vargas, Nola.com

German Catholic Church agrees to rules for investigating abuse cases
“The Catholic Church has become Germany’s first institution to agree to fixed and binding rules for investigating sexual abuse cases(link is external). The agreement, described as historic by the German government’s abuse commissioner, could become a blueprint for other institutions in the fight against abuse. The Protestant Church in Germany and churches in many other countries have yet to take that step, reported KNA, the German Catholic news agency.” By Catholic News Service on AngelusNews.com

POPE FRANCIS

Sooner or later, Pope Francis will have to face the perplexities of reform
“Granted, right now Pope Francis has bigger fish to fry. Among other things he’s trying to hold the nation of Italy together, appealing on Saturday (May 2) for political unity at a time when regional governors from the political opposition are threatening to sabotage Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte’s plan for gradually easing coronavirus restrictions by issuing their own ad hoc decrees. Yet at some point when this is over, Francis will have to face the fact that his own house needs some work too(link is external).” By John L. Allen, Jr., Cruxnow.com

CARDINALS

On a call with President Trump, Cardinal Dolan reveals his true colors
“The ongoing collusion between certain U.S. bishops and President Donald Trump hit its nadir point this weekend (Apr.25). Or at least we have to pray it did. Crux’s Christopher White obtained a recording of a phone call that took place on Saturday between Trump and an estimated 600 Catholics, among whom were bishops and Catholic school superintendents. Leading the pack was New York’s Cardinal Timothy Dolan, who seems to like to boast about his relationship with Trump almost as much as Trump likes to boast about himself(link is external).” By Jamie Manson, National Catholic Reporter

CARDINAL PELL

Victorian government clears release of Pell royal commission findings
“Unpublished findings about Cardinal George Pell’s handling of child sexual abuse complaints(link is external) have been cleared for release by the Victorian government. Attorney general Jill Hennessy has advised her federal counterpart, Christian Porter, that blacked-out sections of two reports from the institutional child abuse royal commission can be released, after the high court overturned the cardinal’s convictions for child sexual abuse earlier this month.” By Melissa Davey, The Guardian

BISHOPS

Nigerian bishop, rejected by former diocese, installed at new diocese
“Bishop Peter Ebere Okpaleke was installed April 29 as the bishop of the new Ekwulobia Diocese, after having been rejected in the Ahiara Diocese by priests and parishioners in a prolonged crisis that engulfed the Catholic Church in the region for about eight years(link is external). ‘It’s one of the greatest news of the decade in this part of the church in Nigeria because the creation of the new diocese has long been overdue,’ Fr. Martin Anusi, the director of communications at the Awka Diocese, told NCR. ‘People have dreamt and made appeals for a new diocese over the years.’” By Patrick Egwu, National Catholic Reporter

An Australian bishop speaks about a national church ‘fraught with division’
“Like many Catholics in Australia, Bishop Vincent Long speaks about the upcoming plenary council(link is external) as something of a final chance for the national church to show it has both reformed on clergy sexual abuse and can still be culturally relevant in the 21st century. In an emailed NCR interview focused on how the quashing of Cardinal George Pell’s convictions might affect the gathering, which has been in preparation for two years, Long called the assembly ‘the last throw of the dice.’” By Joshua J. McElwee, National Catholic Reporter

PRIESTS

Church members show support for priest in legal battle
“Congregation members of two Catholic churches are showing their support for a priest who was removed by Richmond Diocese Bishop(link is external). The priest has appealed his removal and is still in place at both churches while the process unfolds. Father Mark White presides over St. Joseph in Martinsville and St. Francis of Assisi in Rocky Mount … Father Mark White presides over St. Joseph in Martinsville and St. Francis of Assisi in Rocky Mount. Originally Father Mark White was told to stop his blog, which at times was critical of the church’s handling of sexual abuse cases. He shut the blog down for some time, but once the pandemic hit and he wasn’t able to meet with his members face to face, he started it up again and he was removed shortly after.” By Eric Pointer, WFXR-TV News

CARA study on new ordinands spots trends worth watching
“The annual survey of seminarians scheduled for priestly ordination(link is external) this year reveals continuing trends and suggests potential trends in the making. ‘We’ve been consistent over the last 20 years in terms of the age of men being ordained to the priesthood. It continues to hover into the low to mid-30s,” said Father Luke Ballman, executive director of the U.S. bishops’ Secretariat for Clergy, Consecrated Life and Vocations.” By Mark Pattison, Catholic News Service, in Rhode Island Catholic

WOMEN IN THE CHURCH

Peter’s Field Hospital: Interview with Dr. Phyllis Zagano on women in the Church
“This week on Peter’s Field Hospital, Dan Amiri and I had the privilege of interviewing the Catholic author and theologian Phyllis Zagano. Phyllis Zagano is an internationally acclaimed Catholic scholar and lecturer on contemporary spirituality and women’s issues in the church(link is external). In 2016, Phyllis was named by Pope Francis to serve on the Papal Commission on women in the diaconate. Her new book, Women: Icons of Christ traces the history of ministry by women in the Church, especially women deacons. In this book, she shows how women were removed from leadership, prevented from using their voices, and eliminated from official ministries in the history of the Church. This book also argues in favor of the restoration of women to the ordained diaconate, while refuting the arguments against it.” By Mike Lewis, WherePeterIs.com

Seminaries must hire, involve more women, Cardinal Ouellet says
“For some priests and seminarians, ‘women represent danger, but in reality, the true danger are those men who do not have a balanced relationship with women(link is external),’ said Canadian Cardinal Marc Ouellet, prefect of the Congregation for Bishops. The cardinal was interviewed about the role of women in seminaries and seminary formation for the May issue of the women’s supplement to the Vatican newspaper; the interview was published April 24 by Vatican News.” By Cindy Wooden, Catholic News Service, in National Catholic Reporter

Your thoughts on women’s roles in the church
“On April 8, Pope Francis announced he had created a new commission to study the ordaining of women as deacons in the Catholic Church. This is the second commission on the topic under Francis, however several members of this new commission seem to be opposed to women deacons. This revelation sparked a response from NCR columnist Jamie Manson, who writes: ‘By selecting these members for the commission, Francis has effectively killed the possibility of any real progress for women in the church(link is external).’ Relatedly, St. Joseph Sr. Christine Schenk wrote a column entitled ‘Women demonstrate what the priesthood of Jesus truly means,’ of which NCR executive editor Tom Roberts mentions in his last NCR Connections column.” By National Catholic Reporter Staff

CHURCH FINANCES

Fraudster jailed for stealing $340,000 from Catholic Church to fund ‘indulgent’ lifestyle
“Adelaide mother Kerry Ann Keen used more than $340,000 that she stole from the Catholic Church(link is external) to pay for expensive overseas holidays and indulgent consumer goods. Now, the 57-year-old will spend at least three years in jail for her crimes. ‘In short, this was protracted, calculated dishonestly over a prolonged period [and involved] a large sum of money to fund an indulgent lifestyle,’ SA District Court Judge Stephen McEwen said during sentencing.” By Meagan Dillon, ABC News

Clergy Abuse Costs Drive New Orleans Archdiocese to File for Bankruptcy
“The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of New Orleans announced on May 1 that it is seeking federal Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection(link is external) amid growing legal costs related to sexual abuse by priests. The filing for reorganization could free the archdiocese from the threat of creditors’ lawsuits while it reorganizes its finances. The New Orleans archdiocese is the latest of more than 20 dioceses nationwide to take such action.” By Kevin McGill, Insurance Journal

Seychelles: Police Investigating Nigerian Priest’s ‘Suspicious’ Bank Transactions
“The police in Seychelles are investigating a Nigerian priest based in the island nation following suspicious bank account transactions(link is external), the authorities said Wednesday (Apr. 29). The police statement came a day after the Roman Catholic Diocese of Port Victoria announced in a communique that ‘a member of its clergy, Father Fidelis Mbanefo has been suspended from his ministerial duties as a priest in the Diocese of Port-Victoria, as of the 17 April 2020.’” By Patsy Athanase, Seychelles News Agency, in Eurasia Review

FUTURE OF THE CHURCH

Will the pandemic force the Catholic Church to transform
“While the church has a vast body of members, the pandemic is leaving one of the oldest religious institutions in financial limbo(link is external). The Catholic Church has survived many things, including the Protestant Reformation of the 16th Century, capitalism and secularism. As the world’s oldest religious institution, with nearly 1.3 billion followers, the Catholic Church is the largest continuously operating international organization, and the faithful would also like it to survive this deadly pandemic. But no one can deny that the Vatican’s finances are in disarray.” By TRTWorld.com

VOICES

Cardinal Pell: A decision with little certainty
George Pell is a cardinal in the Catholic Church. And that is where the problem lies(link is external). It lies as well in the institution. The two are inextricably intertwined so that the fate of one informs the other. Some, like Pope Francis, say, ‘I would like to pray today for all those persons who suffer an unjust sentence because someone had it in for them.’ The Vatican News reported that the pope made this statement at his morning Mass in Santa Marta, shortly after the news broke that the High Court of Australia had quashed the convictions against Pell.” By Gail Grossman Freyne, National Catholic Reporter

COLORADO

Colorado’s priest abuse reparations program has paid more than $3 million to 28 victims so far
“The Catholic Church so far has paid more than $3 million to 28 victims of priest abuse in Colorado(link is external) as part of a review of claims by an independent committee. The work of the oversight committee is ongoing, but its leaders announced Wednesday (Apr. 22) that they have received claims from 91 victims of abuse by priests who worked in one of Colorado’s three dioceses.” By Jennifer Brown, Colorado Sun

FLORIDA

Sexual abuse lawsuit filed in Polk County against retired priest
“On Monday, April 27, 2020 sex abuse attorney Adam Horowitz filed a Complaint in Polk County Circuit Court against Catholic priest Father Fred Ruse, who in 2018, suddenly retired from the active ministry. The suit, filed on behalf of a Sarasota County man, alleges that in 2001 and 2002, he was sexually abused multiple times by Father Ruse(link is external) in a classroom and in the chaplain’s office at the Demilly Correctional Institution in Polk City, Florida, when the plaintiff was approximately 14 and 15 years old.” By Horowitz Law

HAWAII

Hawaii courts filling with sex abuse cases
“Fallout from a slew of recently filed sexual abuse lawsuits(link is external) has a trustee from Punahou Schools stepping down. According to the school, Monica McLaren voluntarily stepped down from the Board, after her husband Christopher McLaren was named in one of several civil cases against Punahou. Hawaii courts have filled with last minute filings for sexual abuse cases.” By Paul Drewes, KITV-TV4 News

IDAHO

Idaho court upholds ex-priest’s prison sentence
“A former Boise priest convicted of possessing violent and extreme child pornography(link is external) will be sentenced to 25 years imprisonment, an appellate court ruled. William “Tom” Faucher, 74, was sentenced in December 2018 without the possibility of parole after pleading guilty to distribution of sexually exploitative material, possession of sexually exploitative materials and drug possession, the Idaho Statesman reported.” By Associated Press in Lewiston Tribune

LOUISIANA

Louisiana priest convicted of molestation released on bond
“A former Louisiana priest convicted of molesting an altar boy was released from jail on bond(link is external) over coronavirus safety concerns. Michael Guidry, 77, was released Friday (APR. 24) nearly a year after he pleaded guilty to molesting a 16-year old boy after giving him alcohol in Guidry’s home. The victim said in a civil lawsuit that he woke up one day in 2015 after doing chores in Guidry’s home and found the former priest molesting him. The victim told authorities about the molestation when he was an adult, four years after it happened.” By Associated Press on WBRZ-TV2 News

Survivors of clergy sex abuse want accountability following priest released on house arrest
“The release of a priest convicted of molesting a teenage boy is raising questions for the judicial system and the COVID-19 pandemic. Michael Guidry is out on bail tonight (Apr. 27). One-year-ago this week, he was sentenced to 10 years in prison, with three years suspended, after pleading guilty to molestation of a juvenile(link is external). According to court records, Guidry’s defense counsel, Jane Hogan, requested an emergency appeal hearing due to the COVID-19 pandemic.” By Chris Welty, KATC-TV3 News

MAINE

Maine high court upholds sex crime convictions of defrocked priest
“The Maine Supreme Judicial Court on Thursday (Apr. 23) upheld all but one of the 11 convictions of a former priest who is serving 16 years in prison for sexually assaulting a boy(link is external) during multiple vacations to Maine in the 1980s. Ronald Paquin, now 77, was found guilty in 2018 of 11 counts of gross sexual misconduct. A York County jury acquitted him of similar charges related to a second boy. A judge sentenced him last year to 20 years in prison with all but 16 years suspended.” By Matt Byrne, Portland Press Herald

MISSOURI

Springfield-Cape Girardeau Diocese releases investigation into priest with many ties to the Ozarks
“The Springfield-Cape-Girardeau Diocese reports a review board determined inappropriate physical/sexual misconduct involving a priest(link is external). Father Gary Carr became an ordained priest in 1982. He then served at several churches and schools in the diocese, including in Springfield, Monett and West Plains. The allegations involve a male student between the ages of 10-13. The report has been forwarded to the Stoddard County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office in southeast Missouri. This is only a report from the diocese. Police have not arrested Father Carr.” By KY3-TV News

MONTANA

Montana sees flurry of child sex abuse lawsuits as deadline approaches
“The one-year window Montana lawmakers opened to give child sex abuse survivors a chance to bring old claims is closing soon(link is external), and a flurry of lawsuits is hitting the courts. Adults who were abused as children have until May 6 to bring claims otherwise barred by the statute of limitations. The Montana Legislature created the window in 2019,” By Phoebe Tollefson, Helena Independent Record

NEW JERSEY

‘Prolific pedophile’ priest dies in News Jersey nursing home
“A pedophile priest who was defrocked in New Jersey after admitting abusing a dozen children(link is external) has died in a nursing home, the diocese confirmed to The Post. James Hanley — who abused young parishioners in Mendham and Pompton Plains over the course of 14 years — died last week, the diocese’s attorney, Kenneth Mullaney, confirmed.” By Lee Brown, New York Post

NEW YORK

Buffalo seeks halt to outstanding sex abuse lawsuits
“The Roman Catholic Diocese of Buffalo has taken legal action seeking to stop all outstanding clergy sexual abuse lawsuits(link is external) while it navigates bankruptcy proceedings in federal court. The diocese filed a motion in federal bankruptcy court on Saturday (May 2) seeking an injunction on lawsuits filed under New York’s Child Victims Act. About 250 lawsuits have been filed against the diocese since August, when the act gave victims one year to pursue even decades-old allegations of abuse.” By Associated Press

23 suspended Catholic priests to lose their pay and health insurance
“In the last few days, 23 suspended priests have been contacted by senior leadership of the Buffalo Catholic Diocese and told they lose their pay and health insurance on Friday (Apr. 24). These are men who have ‘substantiated’ allegations of sexual abuse(link is external). They remain priests, but can’t hold themselves out as priests, are not allowed to say Mass publicly or wear clerical garb.” By Mike Desmond, WBFO-FM National Public Radio

Accused priests cannot be left ‘destitute’
“The Diocese of Buffalo clarified on Friday (May 1) that priests accused of sexual abuse cannot be left ‘destitute(link is external),’ even as the diocese acts to withdraw financial support payments. The diocese had announced earlier this week that 23 priests “with substantiated allegations of sexual abuse” would no longer receive financial assistance or health benefits from the Diocese of Buffalo as of May 1. However, the diocese said that pension plans would not be affected by the decision.” By Matt Hadro, Catholic News Agency

OHIO

Diocese of Toledo names seven deceased priests accused of sexual abuse
“The Diocese of Toledo on Wednesday (Apr. 29) released the names of seven deceased clerics who are credibly accused of sexual abuse(link is external). In each case an accuser had come forward after the cleric had died. The Diocesan Review Board considered their cases this year and last year. The diocese for years declined to name or consider allegations against clerics in such cases ‘as they can neither defend themselves against the accusation nor possibly be a future threat to anyone if the allegation were true,’ according to an explanation the diocese provided for years on its website.” By Nicki Gorny, The Blade

PENNSYLVANIA

Philadelphia Archdiocese committed to paying $130 million to sex abuse victims
“In a profound letter to parishioners, the newly installed Archbishop of Philadelphia, Nelson Perez, addressed claims of prior priest sex abuse of children head-on(link is external), saying the archdiocese is committed to paying about $130 million in reparations. When new Archbishop Perez came to Philadelphia from Cleveland a few months ago, he inherited a mess stemming from the priest sex abuse scandal. But on Tuesday (May 5), he says in a letter that he deeply regrets the pain and suffering of survivors and any decisions that failed to protect them.” By Dann Cuellar, WPVI-TV6 News

TEXAS

Dallas priest accused of abuse removed from ministry
“The Diocese of Dallas has removed a priest from the ministry after sexual abuse allegations(link is external) arose in the Colombian archdiocese where he formerly served. Father Oscar Mora was among 19 priests suspended last month by the Catholic Archdiocese of Villavicencio after the allegation arose earlier this year, The Dallas Morning News reported Monday (Apr. 27).” By Associated Press on Cruxnow.com

WISCONSIN

Waukesha County DA will not pursue new charges against priest accused of sex assault
“The Waukesha County District Attorney will not pursue new charges against a priest accused of sexual assault of a teenage girl(link is external). Father Charles Hanel was accused of sexually assaulting a 13-year-old girl in December 2017 during confession at Queen of Apostles Church.” By FOX6 News

AUSTRALIA

On the right track, work still to be done for Christian Brothers
“The audit, by the Catholic Professional Standards Ltd, found that the Christian Brothers had either implemented or was substantially progressed in the implementation of 91 (89 per cent) out of the 102 indicators(link is external) relevant to the province under the National Catholic Safeguarding Standards. CPSL chief executive Sheree Limbrick said that on the back of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, CPSL is auditing Church organizations across Australia to make sure they have sound and robust processes in place to keep children safe.” By CathNews.com

Notorious pedophile priest Gerald Ridsdale is almost certain to die in jail
“Pedophile priest Gerald Ridsdale is likely to die in jail as he faces more sexual abuse charges(link is external). The 85-year-old will be heard on May 14 for 10 indecent assault charges and four buggery charges in Victoria between 1973 and 1979 to further his time behind bars. The charges will likely extend his time behind bars beyond 2022, his earliest release date. Ridsdale is suffering chronic health problems including heart conditions, arthritis, bowel problems and high blood pressure.” By Australian Associated Press and Jackson Barron for Daily Mail Australia

After 26 years, Eileen Piper has finally won an apology from the Catholic Church for her daughter’s abuse
“It’s taken 26 years, reams of legal documents and many tears, but Eileen Piper has done what she set out to do — cleared the name of her daughter, Stephanie, who was abused by a Catholic priest in the 1970s(link is external). In December, Mrs Piper, 95, received a written apology from Melbourne’s Archbishop, Peter Comensoli, and the Pallotine order of priests which, for years, had denied the crimes of Father Gerard Mulvale.” By Karen Percy, ABC News

‘The Catholic Church should close the Christian Brothers down’
“A McGowan Government minister and former student of CBC Fremantle has publicly criticized the Christian Brothers for a lack of care towards the victims of child sexual abuse(link is external). Dave Kelly, the MLA for Bassendean, attended CBC Fremantle in the 1970s from grade 4 to grade 12. Today on Mornings with Gareth Parker he has revealed his disgust with the Christian Brothers for failing to reckon with their shameful past in dealing with the legacy of child sexual abuse.” By Gareth Parker, 6PRNews

CANADA

Supreme Court says Basilian Fathers responsible for $2.5M in damages to sexual abuse victim Rod MacLeod
“Rod MacLeod, the victim of a pedophile priest in the 1960s at a Sudbury high school, said he hopes his latest legal victory will inspire other sexual abuse victims to come forward(link is external) and ‘seek justice through the court.’ MacLeod made the comments on April 30 when the Supreme Court of Canada rejected the Basilian Fathers of Toronto’s bid for a further appeal after they were held responsible when one of their priests was convicted in 2011 of abusing 17 students at schools over a 38-year period.” By SooToday.com

Supreme Court rejects Catholic Church appeal to reduce damages in sex abuse case
“The Supreme Court has rejected an appeal from a Catholic teaching order concerning damages awarded to a former Sudbury high school student. Lawyer Rob Talach says Father Hodgson Marshall was convicted of sexually abusing his client(link is external), Rod MacLeod, who was a student at St. Charles College from 1963-1967. In 2011, Marshall was ultimately convicted of abusing 17 young people over his 38-year career. He served two years in federal prison and died in 2014.” By CBC News

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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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