Posts Tagged voice of the faithful

Voice of the Faithful Focus News Roundup

June 14, 2021

TOP STORIES

New Vatican law criminalizes abuse of adults, even by laity
“Pope Francis has changed church law to explicitly criminalize the sexual abuse of adults by priests who abuse their authority, and to say that laypeople who hold church office can be sanctioned for similar sex crimes(link is external). The new provisions, released Tuesday (Jun. 1) after 14 years of study, were contained in the revised criminal law section of the Vatican’s Code of Canon Law, the in-house legal system that covers the 1.3 billion-strong Catholic Church. The most significant changes are contained in two articles, 1395 and 1398, which aim to address major shortcomings in the church’s handling of sexual abuse.” By Nicole Winfield, Associated Press, in National Catholic Reporter

Governance report ‘catalyst for conversation’
“Catholic Religious Australia is launching a series of online conversations to explore the 2020 Church governance review report(link is external), ‘The Light from the Southern Cross.’ ‘The Light from the Southern Cross: Promoting Co-Responsible Governance in the Catholic Church in Australia’ report, published in August 2020, has been commended as an important and substantial contribution to the life and mission of the Church in Australia, and a roadmap for the future of the Church. CRA president Br. Peter Carroll FMS said, ‘The report is a valuable resource and in light of the Plenary Council, the timing is right for the People of God to reflect on the themes in the report and discern what those themes mean to them.’ By CathNews.com

Archdiocese of Milwaukee says it won’t participate in AG investigation of clergy sex abuse
“The Archdiocese of Milwaukee is pushing back against a recently announced attorney general investigation into sexual abuse by Catholic clergy(link is external), calling it a display of ‘anti-Catholic bigotry’ and a violation of the First Amendment. In a letter from the archdiocese’s attorney, Frank LoCoco of the Milwaukee firm Husch Blackwell, contends Attorney General Josh Kaul doesn’t have the authority to investigate the Catholic dioceses of the state and that doing so would go against the U.S. Constitution and state laws.” By Laura Schulte and Patrick Marley, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Pope Francis orders review of the Vatican congregation that oversees over 410,000 Catholic priests worldwide
“Pope Francis has asked an Italian bishop, Msgr. Egidio Miragoli, 65, to carry out a visitation of the Vatican’s Congregation for the Clergy, which has oversight of the more than 410,000 Catholic priests around the world(link is external). Bishop Miragoli broke the news today, June 7, in a letter to the priests of the Diocese of Mondovi, in Italy’s Piedmont region, where he is pastor … He (Miragoli) revealed that on June 3, Francis explained in some detail what he expected him to do when he met the bishop at a private audience in Santa Marta, the Vatican guesthouse where the pope lives. The bishop did not disclose the details of his brief, and the Vatican has not commented on the meeting or a visitation of the congregation.” By Gerard O’Connell, America: The Jesuit Review

Pope Francis refuses resignation of German cardinal, commends his courage
“Although agreeing with him that the clerical abuse crisis is a ‘catastrophe,’ Pope Francis rejected the resignation presented to him by German Cardinal Reinhard Marx(link is external) as archbishop of the archdiocese of Munich. ‘You tell me that you are going through a moment of crisis, and not only you but also the Church in Germany is going through it,’ Francis wrote in a letter dated June 10. ‘The whole Church is in crisis because of the abuse matter; moreover, the Church today cannot take a step forward without addressing this crisis.’” By Inés San Martín, Cruxnow.com

ACCOUNTABILITY

Vatican punishes Polish churchmen for alleged abuse cover-up
“The Vatican said March 29 that it is punishing a retired Polish archbishop and a bishop for their alleged roles in covering up sexual abuse committed by other clergymen(link is external). Former Gdansk Archbishop Slawoj Leszek Glodz and former Bishop Edward Janiak of Kalisz have also been forbidden from living in their former dioceses or participating in any public religious celebrations there. The Vatican Embassy in predominantly Roman Catholic Poland also said each of the two is being required to contribute personal money into a fund helping victims of clerical abuse.” By Associated Press in National Catholic Reporter

Poland’s embattled bishops to meet with Pope Francis
“When Bishop Tadeusz Rakoczy, a retired Polish prelate, was sanctioned by the Vatican in late May for mishandling sexual abuse by his clergy, it was just the latest blow to the once-unsullied image of the country’s Catholic Church. In recent days, there have been reports that the Polish bishops have been specially summoned to Rome in the fall by Pope Francis(link is external) because of a spate of sexual abuse cases that have rocked the country’s church. Although officials have denied the accuracy of the reports, they nonetheless signal the deep unease now afflicting religious life in Europe’s most Catholic country.” By Jonathan Luxmoore, National Catholic Reporter

Missing residential school records: Vatican won’t release documents, feds destroyed files
“While the Vatican has refused to release residential school records, it isn’t the only body suppressing the racism and abuse experienced within these institutions(link is external). The Canadian government destroyed 15 tons of paper documents related to the residential school system between 1936 and 1944, including 200,000 Indian Affairs files. From the age of four, Mike Cachagee attended three separate residential schools in northern Ontario. But there are few records to prove it.” By Omar Sachedina and Brooklyn Neustaeter, CTV News

POPE FRANCIS

A reforming pope’s dilemma: Using the center to deliver decentralization
“Before St. John Paul II, the old joke used to go that being pope meant never having to say you’re sorry. Since John Paul actually apologized for various failures and sins of the church well in excess of 100 times, that bit of papal humor no longer really applied. However, here’s another old papal saw that’s still highly relevant: ‘Do as I say, not as I do(link is external).’ The thought comes to mind in light of news that the Vatican under Pope Francis, for the very first time in history, is carrying out a financial audit of the Diocese of Rome.” By John L. Allen, Jr., Cruxnow.com

Pope orders visitation of German archdiocese
“Pope Francis has ordered an apostolic visitation ‘to obtain a comprehensive picture of the complex pastoral situation’ in the Archdiocese of Cologne and to investigate how accusations of clerical sexual abuse were handle(link is external)d, the Vatican nuncio to Germany announced. The pope asked Swedish Cardinal Anders Arborelius of Stockholm and Dutch Bishop Johannes van den Hende of Rotterdam to carry out the visitation, which include onsite visits in the first half of June, the note said.” By Catholic News Service on UCANews.com

Pope expresses sorrow but no apology for indigenous school deaths in Canada
“Pope Francis expressed sorrow Sunday (Jun. 6) for the gruesome discovery of a mass grave in Canada containing the remains of hundreds of Indigenous children. The remains were found at a boarding school for Indigenous Canadians, operated by Catholic clergy. ‘I join the Canadian Bishops and the whole Catholic Church in Canada in expressing my closeness to the Canadian people, who have been traumatized by this shocking news,’ Francis told an audience in St. Peter’s Square, according to a translation of prepared remarks. ‘This sad discovery further heightens awareness of the pain and sufferings of the past.’” By Matthew S. Schwartz, National Public Radio

CARDINALS

Cardinal Marx offers Pope Francis his resignation, citing ‘responsibility for the catastrophe of sexual abuse’
“In a decision that has sent shock waves through the German Catholic Church, Cardinal Reinhard Marx, 67, the archbishop of Munich and Freising, revealed that on May 21 he met Pope Francis in the Vatican and handed him his letter of resignation(link is external), with a strong plea that the pontiff accept it. He said Francis asked him to continue serving as bishop of the archdiocese until he has made a decision on his request. In a declaration issued today (Jun. 4), Cardinal Marx said: ‘It is important to me to share the responsibility for the catastrophe of the sexual abuse perpetrated by representatives of the church over the past decades.’” By Gerard O’Connell, America: The Jesuit Review

PRIESTS

Pope Francis: The church needs fragile pastors – not ‘superman’ priests
“Pope Francis told a group of priests studying in Rome that if they do not want to be pastors, spending time with the faithful, they should request dismissal(link is external) from the priesthood and concentrate on academics instead. ‘Be pastors with the scent of your sheep, persons able to live, laugh and cry with your people—in other words, to communicate with them,’ the pope told the priests June 7. The priests, who are studying at pontifical universities in Rome, live at the city’s St. Louis of France residence.” By Cindy Wooden, Catholic News Service

Wisconsin priest digs in to refuse bishop’s demand to resign
“The Rev. James Altman calls himself ‘a lowly priest’ serving a blue-collar city in western Wisconsin. But when his bishop demanded his resignation – after a series of divisive remarks about politics and the pandemic – Altman refused to oblige(link is external) and has since raised more than $640,000 from his conservative supporters to defend himself. While not unprecedented, a Catholic priest’s refusal to abide by a bishop’s call to resign is certainly rare. Altman’s case, which has garnered national attention and made him a celebrity of sorts among conservative Catholics, has further fueled the divide between them and those urging a more progressive, inclusive church.” By Todd Richmond and David Crary, Religion News Service

We need to talk about our Catholic seminaries
“We are looking for our priests to be shepherds; to live among us, to listen to our joys and sorrows, and above all to love us with the heart of Jesus. In my last podcast, I talked with the Rev. Erich Rutten, a white priest who pastors St. Peter Claver Catholic Church, a historically Black Catholic parish in Saint Paul, Minn. He recounted how he prepared for his current assignment at the Institute for Black Catholic Studies at Xavier University(link is external) in New Orleans, La.” By Gloria Purvis, America: The Jesuit Review

WOMEN’S VOICES

Ambassador welcomes Vatican ‘See change’ on women
“There is ‘definitely’ a change in the Holy See in their approach to women(link is external), according to Sally Axworthy, British ambassador to the Holy See. ‘There are more senior appointments now…Sister Natalie Becker is the deputy in charge of synods, there’s a deputy foreign minister who’s a woman…women are increasingly being appointed to positions of real responsibility in the Vatican.’ By Sebastian Milbank, The Tablet

New canon on women’s ordination nothing new, can be changed
“Now it is formally illegal to ordain a woman as a deacon. Or as a priest. Or as a bishop(link is external). On June 1, Pope Francis promulgated revisions to the Code of Canon Law detailing crimes and punishments. The new ‘Book VI: Penal Sanctions in the Church’ takes effect Dec. 8. Most of the revisions have to do with crimes of sexual abuse and the responses (or non-responses) of bishops and religious superiors. Some have to do with financial crimes. And then there is the one about women’s ordination: ‘Can. 1379 § 3. Both a person who attempts to confer a sacred order on a woman, and the woman who attempts to receive the sacred order, incur a latae sententiae excommunication reserved to the Apostolic See; a cleric, moreover, may be punished by dismissal from the clerical state.’” By Phyllis Zagano, National Catholic Reporter

VATICAN

Priests testify at Vatican trial on abuse in minor seminary
“Several priests, some of whom were former students at a minor seminary located in the Vatican, testified at the ongoing trial of Fr. Gabriele Martinelli, who is accused of sexually abusing a younger student at the St. Pius X Pre-Seminary(link is external). The priests — Frs. Giuliano Zanotta, Daniele Pinton, Giampaolo Cozzi and Ambrogio Marinoni — described Father Martinelli’s influence at the minor seminary, as well as that of his mentor and former rector of St. Pius X, Msgr. Enrico Radice, and L.G., the victim who is also a former student. Also testifying was Deacon Alessio Primante.” By Junno Arocho Esteves, Catholic News Service, in National Catholic Reporter

CHURCH REFORM

Pope pushes “synodality” dialog to reform Catholic Church
“Using the word ‘synodality’ at the start of an article is enough to turn readers off. Boring! And when they learn it’s about the Roman Catholic Church, many might say they’re interested only in its scandals about sex or money. But the champion of this ‘synodality’ reform drive is Pope Francis, one of the world’s most popular religious leaders(link is external). The drive will be either his biggest victory or the worst failure of his papacy. And its success will depend to a large part on how young people react to it.” By Tom Heneghan, News-Decoder.com

Vatican Curia, semper reformanda
“A new papal document reforming the Curia — the Vatican bureaucracy, mostly composed of priests and bishops — will soon be published(link is external). I’m sure Pope Francis’ heart is in the right place, but I expect to be disappointed. Attempts to reform the Curia have been going on since the Second Vatican Council of the 1960s, each announced with great fanfare, but the effects were only incremental. There is no reason to expect anything better this time.” By Thomas Reese, Religion News Service

CHURCH FINANCES

Perth Catholic priest who denied stealing almost $500,000 from church agrees to pay money back
“A Catholic priest previously accused of stealing almost $500,000 from his Perth parish(link is external) has settled civil proceedings with the church, acknowledging he used parish money partly for personal use and agreeing to pay it back. Father Joseph Walsh had been facing criminal charges, accused of stealing the funds from St Joseph’s parish in Subiaco by allegedly using church credit cards and cheques to pay for personal expenses between 2014 and 2017.” By Nicolas Perpitch, ABC News

Cathedral fraudster who took £235,000 must pay back £1
“A fraudster who took £235,000 from Norwich’s Catholic Cathedral(link is external) has been ordered to pay back £1 because he has no money left. Rene Mugenzi siphoned off the cash while volunteering as the treasurer at St John the Baptist from 2016 to 2018. He moved the money, much of which had been donated by the congregation and was designated for charity work, from the Cathedral’s account into his own.” By Tom Bristow, Eastern Daily Press

FUTURE OF THE CHURCH

What new revisions to the Cod of Canon Law mean for safeguarding
“The new series of laws and provisions set out in the revised section on crimes and penalties in the Code of Canon Law will help the Catholic Church in its efforts at safeguarding(link is external), said two canon lawyers. And yet, like with every new norm and measure, its success will depend on following through on enforcement, being mindful in interpreting still unclear aspects and working on remaining gaps, they said.” By Carol Glatz, Catholic News Service, in The Pilot

VOICES

Church still incapable of saying there is no excuse for a priest abusing a child
“I don’t know whether he or the people around him still regard the institution as more important than the people it is supposed to serve, but sometimes abuses. Or maybe it’s just — and I don’t know the answer to this either — he and those around him think we’re all fools. Whatever the answer to those questions, I don’t believe it is possible to read the most recent changes to canon law — the law of the Catholic Church — without feeling utterly let down by Pope Francis(link is external). The Pope who promised so much, but has changed as little as possible.” By Fergus Finlay, Irish Examiner

Crime of abuse is personal failure, not institutional
“A cleric who sexually abuses a child and a bishop or religious superior who covers up that abuse are personally morally at fault, but the Catholic Church as an institution is not, said Cardinal Julián Herranz, retired president of the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts. In a letter published on the front page of the Vatican newspaper, the 91-year-old cardinal said that ‘the errors, sins and sometimes even crimes of her members, including senior members of the hierarchy’ cannot be allowed to ‘cast doubt on the credibility of the church(link is external) and the salvific value of her mission and her magisterium.’” By Cindy Wooden, Catholic News Service in The Pilot

Abuse laws come 40 years too late for Catholic Church
After thousands of reported cases of sexual abuse, the Vatican has finally updated its canon laws(link is external) for handling cases within the Church — standards which haven’t been touched since the 1980s. The new canon laws, or a set of laws set by the Roman Catholic Church to be followed by members of the religion, sought to streamline and clarify how to deal with child sexual abuse. The biggest of these changes included requiring all priests and nuns to become mandated reporters, making grooming for sex or child pornography illegal, and enforcing punishment within the Church like defrocking.” By Hayley DeSilva, DePauliaOnline.com

STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS

Here’s what you need to know about the Child Victims Act, a proposed bill to allow survivors to pursue justice after sexual abuse
“A proposed bill that would allow survivors of childhood sexual abuse to hold their abuser accountable is facing an uncertain future in the state Legislature(link is external). The Child Victims Act would allow survivors to pursue civil action against their abuser or the organization that employed the person, removing the current limitation that allows a person to pursue action only until they turn 35 years old. The bill, survivors say, would allow them to finally feel a sense of justice, share their stories as adults and hopefully prevent future crimes from taking place.” By Laura Schulte, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

CLERGY SEXUAL ABUSE

The Catholic Church is reinstating priests accused of sexual abuse
“In most of the cases uncovered by VICE News, the Catholic Church has also provided little to no insight into how, exactly, its officials determined that these priests weren’t guilty of sexual assault(link is external). And in at least three cases, the Church gave the priests back their jobs but added a glaring asterisk: They had to agree to abide by certain restrictions, such as staying away from kids.” By VICE News

Sex abuse victims want AG to keep convicted priest locked up
“An attorney and victims of sexual abuse by a Chicago Roman Catholic priest on Thursday (Jun.3) urged Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul to keep the defrocked priest locked up(link is external). Daniel McCormack is committed indefinitely under a state law that allows sex offenders to be held in custody beyond their sentences if a judge finds they are substantially likely to re-offend. ‘Daniel McCormack as a priest is a serial predator and has been incarcerated for some years,’ victims’ advocate and attorney Jeff Anderson said.” By Associated Press

CALIFORNIA

Lawsuit Alleges Sexual Abuse by Former Diocese of San Diego Priest
“A man who alleges a former Catholic priest repeatedly molested him when he was a young boy, then continued to be active at parishes(link is external) within the Diocese of San Diego for decades, said Tuesday he decided to file a lawsuit to protect children. Beau Potter, now 54 years old, alleges Father Ramon Marrufo molested him in Rialto over the course of several years in the 1970s, beginning when the plaintiff was in second grade. Prior to 1978, the Diocese of San Diego stretched into portions of San Bernardino and Riverside counties.” By Times of San Diego

ILLINOIS

Names sought of all Illinois order priests accused of abuse
“An attorney is calling on Catholic bishops across Illinois to end the ‘dangerous deceit’ and release a full list of religious order priests who face credible sexual abuse accusations(link is external). Attorney Jeff Anderson last week made public the identities of 175 priests accused of sex abuse, including 117 who previously worked in the Archdiocese of Chicago, the Chicago Sun-Times reported. Those names came from lawsuits as well as lists compiled by the religious orders themselves, among other sources, he said.” By Associated Press in The Southern Illinoisan

Pfleger returns to St. Sabina, reflects on ‘painful nightmare’ that followed sex abuse allegations
“The Rev. Michael Pfleger on Sunday Jun. 6) returned to his South Side parish for the first time since he was reinstated last month following an investigation into decades-old allegations of sexual abuse(link is external), a process he described as ‘a painful nightmare’ spurred by ‘false accusations.’ ‘It’s good to be home,’ Pfleger told a raucous congregation at St. Sabina Church in Auburn Gresham that included director Spike Lee and acting Chicago Fire Commissioner Annette Nance-Holt.” By Tom Schuba, Chicago Sun Times

MASSACHUSETTS

Springfield diocese to expand list of those ‘credibly accused’ of sexually abusing minors
“The Catholic Church in western Massachusetts has announced that it will release an expanded list of those credibly accused of sexually abusing a minor while serving the church(link is external). In a letter to parishioners, Bishop William Byrne said the Roman Catholic Diocese of Springfield is expanding its criteria for disclosure of accusations. The diocese will release its updated list in early June, and Byrne said it will include a “considerable addition” by including those who were dead when an allegation surfaced, were members of a religious order or were lay employees of the diocese.” By Dusty Christensen, Athol Daily News

NEW MEXICO

Las Cruces Diocese Says Abuse Records Were Disclosed Voluntarily, Despite New Mexico Attorney General’s Claims
“While New Mexico’s attorney general has taken credit for securing Catholic Church documents on sex abuse by clergy, saying they will be released to the public soon, a spokesperson for the Las Cruces diocese said it provided the documents voluntarily(link is external) out of a desire to address the “abhorrent crime” of sex abuse, not because of a search warrant or legal obligation.” By Kevin Jones, National Catholic Register

NEW YORK.

Abuse survivors in Rochester Diocese bankruptcy case ask judge to go to trial
“Attorneys for survivors who have filed child sex abuse lawsuits against the Roman Catholic Diocese of Rochester say mediation has failed. Nearly 500 claims are part of a federal bankruptcy proceeding(link is external). Now, in documents filed Tuesday (Jun. 8), some are asking the judge to take a rather unusual step: to allow them to move their cases to a different court.” By WHAM-TV13 News

Former Olean priest among three accused in lawsuit
“Three priests — including one who long served in Olean — have been placed on leave in response to claims in a lawsuit filed last month that they sexually abused a boy(link is external) in the 1990s, the Diocese of Buffalo announced over the weekend. Bishop Michael Fisher said Saturday (Jun. 5) the priests all ‘deny ever committing any acts of abuse’ but were placed on leave pending an investigation. The diocese also notified the Erie County District Attorney’s Office of the claims, which emerged in a lawsuit last month.” By Olean Times Herald

Priest on leave after his name appears on clergy offender list
“A priest serving in the Albany Diocese is on administrative leave, after his name appeared on a list of clergy offenders in the Springfield Diocese(link is external) Wednesday (Jun. 2). Bishop Edward B. Scharfenberger has placed Rev. Jeffrey L’Arche, a priest of the LaSalette Missionaries and pastor of St. Mary’s Church in Amsterdam and St. Stephen’s Church in Hagaman, on administrative leave, effective immediately. While on leave, Father L’Arche is barred from officiating at sacraments, wearing clerical garb, or presenting himself as a priest.” By WRGB-TV6 News

TENNESSEE

Big trouble in little Knoxville: Misconduct cases bring systemic, cultural weaknesses into sharp focus
“Who shall watch over the Watchers? That is just one of the questions raised by the complex and deeply troubling circumstances of the Diocese of Knoxville(link is external), only some of which have been reported. The Catholic Herald has learned significant details regarding several cases of clerical misconduct and mismanagement in Knoxville. The details of one case in particular involve senior Church leaders in the US and abroad, and raise questions regarding oft-cited structural weaknesses in the Church’s new ‘metropolitan’ system for investigating abuse and coverup allegations.” By Christopher R. Altieri, Catholic Herald

AUSTRALIA

Catholic priest’s evidence in abuse trial
“A Catholic priest writing of his unwanted ‘sexual problem’(link is external)

 left something crucial out of the passage, a jury has heard. ‘In my dreams,’ Anthony William Peter Caruana told Sydney’s District Court. ‘When you talk about fondling young boys, is this referring to your dreams or real life?’ the 79-year-old’s barrister Bernard Brassil said on Wednesday (Jun. 10). ‘My dreams,’ Caruana said.” By Greta Stonehouse, 7News.com.au

After 40 years of waiting, Garden Point abuse survivors get justice
“Forty-two survivors of Aboriginal forced removal policies have signed a deal for compensation and apology 40 years after suffering sexual and physical abuse in the Garden Point Catholic Church mission(link is external) on Melville Island north of Darwin. ‘I’m happy, and I’m sad for the people who have gone already … we had a minute’s silence for them … but it’s been very tiring fighting for this for three years,’ said Maxine Kunde, the leader of a group which took civil action against the church and Commonwealth in the Northern Territory Supreme Court.” By Jane Bardon, ABC News

86-year-old pedophile priest loses Australian court appeal
“An 86-year-old pedophile former Catholic priest came a step closer to deportation to Ireland when a court on Friday (Jun.4) upheld a decision to strip him of his Australian citizenship. Finian Egan has been fighting a five-year legal battle against former Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton’s decision to cancel his citizenship over the defrocked priest’s criminal record(link is external). Egan initially won an appeal in 2016 in the Administrative Appeals Tribunal, a court that reviews government decisions.” By Rod McGuirk, Associated Press, on Cruxnow.com

CANADA

Sask. Catholic churches delay, reject calls to release internal files on abuser priests
“Joey Basaraba cries randomly while sitting in his Saskatoon apartment, in the shower or out walking. He can’t remember the last time he slept through the night. ‘I take it one day at a time,’ Basaraba said in an interview this week. Basaraba, who says he was sexually abused for years starting at age six by two Prince Albert, Sask., priests, is joining the renewed national calls for church transparency after the discovery of what are believed to be the unmarked graves of 215 children at a Catholic residential school(link is external) site in Kamloops, B.C.” By Jason Warwick, CBC News

B.C. Catholic archdiocese sued in Gambier Island camp sexual allegations
“A B.C. man is suing the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Vancouver and its archbishop alleging a camp counsellor sexually abused him(link is external) and others at a Bible camp. Vernon Mulvahill, in a notice of civil claim filed in B.C. Supreme Court June 7, alleges a man named only as John Doe exposed his penis to him, touched him in a sexual manner, made other children perform sexual acts on him in the same room and made the plaintiff perform oral sex on him.” By Jeremy Hainsworth, VancouverIsAwesome.com

Catholic Church must take responsibility for the harm done in residential schools
“In reality, these were prisons for children; children who were treated as a looming threat to that so-called civilized society(link is external). Children forcibly taken from their parents and then forced to remain in the custody of institutions managed by various Christian denominations and paid to do so by the federal government. This particular ‘school’ was operated by the Oblates of Mary Immaculate, a Roman Catholic order of priests who were assisted by various orders of Catholic nuns. It was established in 1890 and closed down in 1978.” By Gillian Steward, Toronto Star

CHILE

Chile’s Jesuits confess ‘crimes, negligence and errors’ on sex abuse
“In an internal report made public this week, the Jesuits of Chile acknowledge that based on accusations and investigations that emerged over a fifteen-year period, at least 64 people have been sexually abused by 11 Jesuit priests in the country(link is external). Among those victims were 34 minors, both boys and girls. The report compiles investigations carried out by the Jesuits in Chile between 2005 and 2020, meaning, five years before explosive revelations against former priest Fernando Karadima, found guilty of abusing seminarians, including minors, in 2011.” By Inés San Martin, Cruxnow.com

EAST TIMOR

The disgraced priest, the children’s shelter and a fight for justice in East Timor
“The road up to the village of Kutet in East Timor’s western enclave of Oecusse is so rough that most highlanders walk the jungle trail when they need to visit the coast … At Kutet’s centre is a shelter for girls and boys that for many years was run by American Catholic priest and Timorese independence hero Richard Daschbach. There, visitors would witness a serene setting with children playing marbles, with jump ropes and running around apparently as happy as can be … But it was all an illusion(link is external).” By Chris Barrett, The Age

GERMANY

German Catholic abuse victims meet papal investigators
“Victims of Catholic Church sex abuse met on Tuesday (Jun. 8) with two senior bishops sent by the Pope to investigate the German archdiosese of Cologne, which has come under increasing pressure after a report found hundreds of historic cases. The Pope’s two envoys are looking at possible mistakes committed by Germany’s largest archdiocese(link is external), after an 800-page report in March found more than 200 abusers and more than 300 victims, mainly children, in cases from 1975-2018.” By Reuters

HUNGARY

Catholic bishops’ conference condemns all forms of child abuse
“The Hungarian Catholic Bishops’ Conference (MKPK) has condemned all forms of child abuse and declared zero tolerance towards it(link is external). In a statement issued on Wednesday (Jun.2), MPKP added, however, that manifestations suggesting that there are links between church profession and the propensity to commit abuse ‘fail to serve the interests of society.’ Child abuse is a serious sin and a crime, regardless of whether it is committed in school, at sport clubs, in camps, within family, or in secular or religious institutions, the statement said.” By Hungary Today

IRELAND & NORTHERN IRELAND

Up to 7,000 abuse survivors assisted by Catholic Church support service
“Over the past 25 years the Catholic Church in Ireland has provided a counselling service for almost 7,000 survivors(link is external) of institutional, clerical, and religious abuse, and members of their families. It is free and involves a network of counsellors in Ireland and abroad which provides essential therapy to those who have suffered such abuse, said Auxiliary Bishop of Armagh, Michael Router. He is a director of Towards Healing which, with its forerunner Faoiseamh, provides the counselling service.” By Patsy McGarry, The Irish Times

POLAND

Polish bishop sanctioned in new abuse scandal
“Another Polish bishop has been sanctioned by the Vatican and ordered to withdraw from public life, for covering up sexual abuse of minors by clergy(link is external) in the predominantly Catholic country. ‘Acting on the basis of Canon Law provisions and Pope Francis’ motu proprio Vos estis lux mundi, the Holy See conducted proceedings, following formal reports, into reported negligence by Bishop Tadeusz Rakoczy,’ Poland’s southern Krakow Archdiocese said in a weekend communique.” By Jonathan Luxmore, The Tablet

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The abuse crisis and the elusive horizon of a repenting church / National Catholic Reporter

“For the Catholic Church in the 21stcentury, the present is unmanageable, the future continues to slip away, and the hope of a fresh start has become elusive.”

National Catholic Reporter

“The Catholic Church enjoyed a bit of a renewed honeymoon with the global media after the May 21st announcement of the ‘synodal process 2021–2023.’ But the love fest lasted only about a week.

“It was brought to an abrupt and ugly end when law enforcement officials in Canada discovered 215 unmarked graves of indigenous children at a former Catholic-run residential school in British Columbia.

“International organizations quickly demanded that the Church in Canada and the Holy See admit responsibility for the tragedy.

“Pope Francis expressed his ‘closeness with Canadians traumatized by the shocking news,’ as he addressed pilgrims in St. Peter’s Square at last Sunday’s Angelus. But he stopped short of issuing a direct apology …

“These last two weeks demonstrate the predicament of the Catholic Church today. Every time the ecclesiastical hierarchy has tried to turn a new page, the past has come back to bite them.”

By Massimo Faggioli, La Croix International, in National Catholic Reporter — Read more …

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New Vatican law criminalizes abuse of adults, even by laity / National Catholic Reporter

‘It’s the first time church law has officially recognized as criminal the method used by sexual predators to build relationships with their victims to then sexually exploit them. The law also removes much of the discretion that had long allowed bishops and religious superiors to ignore or cover up abuse, making clear they can be held responsible for omissions and negligence in failing to properly investigate and sanction errant priests.”

National Catholic Reporter

“Pope Francis has changed church law to explicitly criminalize the sexual abuse of adults by priests who abuse their authority, and to say that laypeople who hold church office can be sanctioned for similar sex crimes.

“The new provisions, released Tuesday (Jun. 1) after 14 years of study, were contained in the revised criminal law section of the Vatican’s Code of Canon Law, the in-house legal system that covers the 1.3 billion-strong Catholic Church.

“The most significant changes are contained in two articles, 1395 and 1398, which aim to address major shortcomings in the church’s handling of sexual abuse. The law recognizes that adults, too, can be victimized by priests who abuse their authority over them, and said that laypeople in church offices, such as school principals or parish economists, can be punished for abusing minors as well as adults.

“The Vatican also criminalized the “grooming” of minors or vulnerable adults by priests to compel them to engage in pornography. It’s the first time church law has officially recognized as criminal the method used by sexual predators to build relationships with their victims to then sexually exploit them. 

“The law also removes much of the discretion that had long allowed bishops and religious superiors to ignore or cover up abuse, making clear they can be held responsible for omissions and negligence in failing to properly investigate and sanction errant priests.”

By Nicole Winfield, Associated Press, in National Catholic Reporter — Read more … 

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Pope institutes new ‘secular ministry’ of Catechist open to laymen and laywomen / Cruxnow.com

“‘Catechists,’ he (Archbishop Rino Fisichella, president of the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of the New Evangelization) said, ‘must know that they speak in the name of the Church and transmit the faith of the Church, but always doing so in a ‘secular’ manner, ‘without falling into forms of clericalism that blur the true identity of the ministry, which must express itself not primarily in the liturgical sphere, but in the specific sphere of the transmission of the faith through proclamation and systematic instruction.'”

Cruxnow.com

“Pope Francis on Tuesday (May 11) instituted the ‘secular’ ministry of the catechist, meant for lay men and women who feel called to help in the Catholic Church’s mission of spreading the Gospel. With the formal recognition of the many ‘competent catechists,’ who already exercise an ‘irreplaceable mission in the transmission and deepening of the faith,’ Francis offers yet another ministry to the laity after extending the role of acolytes and readers to women in the beginning of January.

“The institution of the ministry of the catechist came in the form of a motu proprio, meaning a document issued by the pope on his own initiative and personally signed by him. Titled Antiquum ministerium, Instituting the ministry of catechist, it was presented on Tuesday by Archbishop Rino Fisichella, president of the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of the New Evangelization, and Bishop Franz-Peter Tebartz-Van Elst, who heads up the council’s catechetical office.

“‘There is no doubt that the institution of this ministry, together with those already existing of Acolyte and Lector, will make it possible to have a laity that is better prepared in the transmission of the faith,’ Fisichella said.

“Catechists, he said, must know that they speak in the name of the Church and transmit the faith of the Church, but always doing so in a ‘secular’ manner, ‘without falling into forms of clericalism that blur the true identity of the ministry, which must express itself not primarily in the liturgical sphere, but in the specific sphere of the transmission of the faith through proclamation and systematic instruction.'”

By Inés San Martín, Cruxnow.com Read more …

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Voice of the Faithful Focus News Roundup

May 10, 2021

TOP STORIES

A historic resignation
“When Msgr. Roger Grundhaus wanted to baptize his niece’s baby in the cathedral of a nearby diocese, there was the simple matter of getting a letter from his bishop affirming that he was a priest in good standing. Bishop Michael J. Hoeppner of Crookston (who recently resigned at Pope Francis’ request) obliged the retired priest, a former vicar general of his diocese. ‘He is a person of good moral character and reputation,’ he wrote in 2012. ‘I am unaware of anything in his background which would render him unsuitable to work with minor children.’ But contrary to that blanket statement, Hoeppner had already heard allegations directly from a diaconate candidate(link is external), Ron Vasek, that Grundhaus had molested him in the early 1970s. And so, attorney Jeff Anderson confronted the bishop with the letter during a deposition: ‘That’s a lie, isn’t it?’” By Paul Moses, Commonweal

Podcast: Inside the secret process of appointing a Catholic bishop
“When Father John Wester received a call just before 8 a.m. Mass, he had no idea it would be the nuncio, the pope’s ambassador, phoning to tell him he would be the next auxiliary bishop of San Francisco. ‘I think my knees were knocking,’ now-Archbishop Wester of Santa Fe, N.M., told America’s ‘Inside the Vatican’ podcast. The bishop said his parishioners told him, ‘You don’t look very good, Father!’ and I said, ‘Well, I don’t feel very good right now!’ It was kind of a shockeroo.’ Archbishop Wester’s story is not unusual. Most bishops are appointed without ever knowing they were being considered for the job and are caught by surprise when chosen. The bishop selection process is perhaps the most secretive hiring process in the world(link is external), shielded from both the candidate and the priests and people he will serve.” Inside the Vatican, by Colleen Dulle and Gerard O’Connell, America: The Jesuit Review

Parishes cannot obstruct sex abuse investigations
“The Catholic Church’s struggle to eradicate the cancer of clergy sex abuse is on trial today(link is external). The community at St. Sabina church in Chicago is trying to obstruct the investigation of their much-beloved pastor Fr. Michael Pfleger on charges he sexually molested minors, according to a report in the Chicago Sun-Times. ‘Once again this week, there was an organized effort through the St. Sabina website to employ inappropriate and intimidating tactics to put pressure on the Archdiocese of Chicago and the Independent Review Board (IRB) as the case of Father Michael Pfleger is being processed,’ Chicago Cardinal Blase Cupich wrote in a letter to the administrators of the parish.” By Michael Sean Winters, National Catholic Reporter

Panel: Racism compounds the clergy sex abuse crisis for Black Catholics
“As a kid, Fr. Bryan Massingale was an altar server at his predominantly-Black Catholic school. When he served at Masses with one priest in particular, nuns who worked at the school kept a close watch on Massingale and the other boys, never leaving them unattended. Years later, Massingale saw that priest’s name on a list of clergy credibly accused of sexual abuse(link is external). It dawned on him that the sisters were trying their best to protect him and other children. ‘If not for the efforts of those sisters, I could have been one of that man’s victims,’ said Massingale, a professor of theological and social ethics at Fordham University, in a panel on clergy sexual abuse in Black Catholic communities.” By Madeleine Davison, National Catholic Reporter

Synods will make the difference
“Over the years, we have begun to discover some differences between Jesus and the church: Jesus has credibility. The reputation of the church, on the other hand, teeters(link is external) … Until finally, the renewal of the church has been swamped in regalia, clericalism and wealth … The church is again in need of reform and repentance, of growth and grace. It is being called in this era to embrace the whole church rather than simply a segment of it. The implication of that is that the church, too, as well as society, must move beyond clericalism, sexism and institutionalism, not to mention the emphasis on organization often at the expense of the people who identify and depend on it.” By Joan Chittister, National Catholic Reporter

ACCOUNTABILITY

Wisconsin to launch statewide investigation of clergy sex abuse, attorney general document reveals
“Wisconsin authorities will launch an investigation into the state’s Catholic dioceses and religious orders to determine how many clergy members have sexually assaulted children over the year(link is external)s. Attorney General Josh Kaul notified the state’s five dioceses as well as separate orders of Catholic priests that his office will review sexual abuse allegations against clergy and other faith leaders, according to a letter obtained by USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin. Wisconsin is home to the Archdiocese of Milwaukee and dioceses in Madison, Green Bay, La Crosse and Superior.” By Haley BeMiller, Laura Schulte and Patrick Marley, Green Bay Press Gazette

POPE FRANCIS

Pope facilitates Vatican prosecutions for cardinals, bishops
“Pope Francis has sent another message to Vatican-based cardinals and bishops about his intent to hold them accountable for criminal misconduct(link is external): He removed the procedural obstacles that had spared them from being prosecuted by the Vatican’s criminal tribunal. A new law published April 30 makes clear that Vatican city-state prosecutors have jurisdiction over Holy See cardinals and bishops and need only the pope’s consent to proceed with investigations against them. The law abrogated a regulation, upheld as recently as last year, that said only the tribunal’s highest appeals court, which is composed of three cardinal judges, could assess the actions of cardinals and bishops accused of criminal offenses.” By Nicole Winfield, The Associated Press, in National Catholic Reporter

Pope ousts leadership of Ecuadorian diocese amid complaints
“Pope Francis responded Wednesday (Apr. 28) to reports of poor governance, financial mismanagement and moral failings in the Ecuadorian diocese of Riobamba by not only accepting the resignation of the retiring bishop but that of his heir apparent as well(link is external). Francis on Wednesday accepted the resignations of Bishop Julio Parrilla Diaz, who turned 75 last month, and his deputy, Monsignor Gerardo Miguel Nieves Loja, 53. Nieves had been named ‘coadjutor bishop’ for Riobamba last year and was due to be consecrated bishop in February, to take over when Parrilla retired at 75, the normal retirement age for bishops. But Nieves offered his resignation to Francis a week before the ceremony.” By Nicole Winfield, Associated Press, on USNews.com

BISHOPS

German Catholic cardinal abandons medal over church abuse legacy
“Groups for survivors of sexual abuse at the hands of Catholic clergy(link is external) in the Cologne and Trier dioceses welcomed Cardinal Reinhard Marx’s decision not to receive one of Germany’s top awards for public service — akin to an Anglo-Saxon knighthood. ‘It shows that churchly princes also are finally glancing at the people harmed,’ said Peter Bringmann-Henselder of a Cologne diocese advisory group, referring to the many children abused in the past by priests. Herman Schell of a Trier abuse victims group, calling itself Missbits, said Marx’s renunciation showed earnest candor, but irritation lingered over the cardinal’s reticence to explain his role in protecting perpetrators and trivializing abuse during his term as Trier bishop between 2002 and 2008.” By Deutsche-Welle

Stika facing likely ‘Vos estis’ Vatican investigation
“The Vatican has received multiple allegations of administrative misconduct against Bishop Richard Stika of Knoxville(link is external), and is expected to authorize an investigation under the terms of Vos estis lux mundi, The Pillar has learned. Complaints filed against the bishop allege that Stika impeded or restricted investigations into accusations of serial sexual misconduct by a seminarian who was living in his home, according to multiple sources in both the United States and Rome.” By PillarCatholic.com

PRIESTS

Pray, be poor, be close to the people, pope tells new priests
“The priesthood ‘is not a career, it is a service,’ Pope Francis told nine men just before ordaining them to the priesthood for the Diocese of Rome. The service to which priests are called must reflect the way God has cared and continues to care for his people(link is external), a ‘style of closeness, a style of compassion and a style of tenderness,’ the pope told the men April 25 during his homily at the ordination Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica.” By Cindy Wooden, Catholic News Service, in National Catholic Reporter

RELIGIOUS WOMEN

Bringing attention to exploited obedience, spiritual abuse in religious communities
“There has been much written recently about rising incidents of abuse and violence against women, including an important meeting of the U.N. Commission on Women. Through conversations about this, I also learned of another kind of abuse: spiritual/religious abuse(link is external). Although the term was new to me, the stories from women who have experienced it are not new. It was — and is — experienced in the context of obedience to church leaders, church teachings and projected images of women that tend to shame them.” By Joyce Meyer, Global Sisters Report, National Catholic Reporter

WOMEN’S VOICES

Barring women as leaders in church may be bad for their health, new study finds
“Going to church is generally touted as good for the soul. But there is also evidence church attendance can be good for your health — unless, that is, you are a woman at a church that bars women from preaching or other leadership roles(link is external). A new study published in the American Sociological Review has found that women who attend churches with such restrictions report worse health than those who attend churches with women in leadership roles. The study suggests sexism can counter some of the health benefits associated with religion, said co-author Patricia Homan, an associate professor of sociology at Florida State University.” By Bob Smietana, Religion News Service

LAITY & THE CHURCH

Catholic laypeople in Cologne Archdiocese demand local synod
“Catholic laypeople in the Archdiocese of Cologne have called for a local synod to address the ongoing crisis in Germany’s most populous diocese(link is external). ‘We must make every effort to reestablish a genuine dialogue between the cardinal, senior members of the diocesan leadership and the grassroots of the church,’ said Tim-O. Kurzbach, president of the Cologne archdiocesan council of Catholics. On March 18, the law firm Gercke Wollschläger released a report on how clergy sexual abuse was handled in the archdiocese.” By Catholic News Service on CatholicPhilly.com

CHILD PROTECTION

Papal safeguarding commission continues work online and in Rome
“Even as the COVID-19 pandemic continued, members of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors remained active in promoting outreach and providing new educational opportunities(link is external). As they met online and in Rome for their plenary assembly April 19-22, the members also welcomed a new member, Juan Carlos Cruz, a survivors’ advocate, who was participating in his first meeting since Pope Francis appointed him March 24.’ By Carl Glatz, Catholic News Service, on Cruxnow.com

Vatican approves strengthening safeguarding studies, research in Rome
“The Centre for Child Protection at Rome’s Pontifical Gregorian University has been transformed into a Vatican-approved academic institute(link is external) with its own faculty and ability to award advanced academic degrees. Starting Sept. 1, 2021, the university’s center will become the Institute of Anthropology, offering interdisciplinary studies on human dignity and care and expanding its scope in research, the university said in a press release April 27. The Vatican Congregation for Catholic Education approved the change April 15, allowing the center to broaden its work, develop its own academic faculty and award a licentiate in safeguarding and a doctorate in anthropology, in addition to the current diploma in safeguarding.” By Catholic News Service in The Pilot

Annual reports detail training, outreach in archdiocesan child protection efforts
“The Archdiocese of Baltimore and the Independent Review Board that assists with child protection efforts released the fourth annual reports from the archdiocesan Office of Child and Youth Protection and the review board(link is external). Archbishop William E. Lori initiated the reports in 2019, with reports from fiscal/reporting years 2017 and 2018 released within months of each other. Since then, the reports have been issued annually. The latest report, which covers the reporting year from July 1, 2019, to June 30, 2020, notes that the archdiocese was again, as every year, found by outside auditors to be in full compliance with standards set by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops in the 2002 Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People and its accompanying norms, as well as updates to those policies.” By Christopher Gunty, Catholic Review of the Archdiocese of Baltimore

CHURCH FINANCES

Parishes enlisted to help pay clergy abuse victims
“St. Therese Catholic Parish in Albuquerque’s North Valley was once the largest in the Archdiocese of Santa Fe, with a holy shrine and tiled-roof church considered one of the finest ecclesiastical buildings in New Mexico(link is external).These days, the parish on North Fourth is one of the smallest and struggles to make ends meet. It is behind on its property insurance and in debt to the Archdiocese of Santa Fe … The financial press on parishes over the past several months comes as attorneys for the archdiocese, the state’s largest, and victims have tentatively settled on a yet-to-be-disclosed amount to be distributed to survivors.” By Colleen Heild, Albuquerque Journal

Vatican reforms at a crossroad, Part 1: the financial scandals
“More than eight years have passed (2,966 days, to be exact) since Pope Francis was elected to Peter’s throne, with a clear mandate from the College of Cardinals to reform the Roman Curia and clean up the Vatican’s financial scandals. More than eight years have passed (2,932 days) since the Pope formed the Council of Cardinals, to advise him on the process of curial reform(link is external). That Council has now held 33 meetings, but the long-awaited document that will reorganize the offices of the Vatican—which was supposedly in final form last June, given a title (Praedicate Evangelium), signed by the Pontiff, waiting only for official translations—has not yet appeared.” By Phil Lawler, CatholicCulture.org

Vatican reforms at a crossroad: the financial scandals
“Yesterday, in Part I of this analysis, I showed how the Vatican’s quest for financial credibility has been damaged by the highly questionable financial deals originating with the Secretariat of State. But the problem with the Secretariat of State goes beyond the realm of financial affairs(link is external). Americans tend to assume that the Vatican Secretariat of State is equivalent to the US Department of State: an agency that deals with foreign affairs. But the Vatican’s ‘superdicastery’ has far more sweeping influence. One section of the Secretariat, the Office for Relations with States, is indeed the counterpart of the State Department, concerned with diplomatic relations. But another section, the Office for General Affairs, supervises all of the work of the Roman Curia.” By Phil Lawler, CatholicCulture.org

VOICES

Synodality and papal primacy: questions regarding the Catholic Church today and the next pope
“‘There’s a short path that is long, and a long path that is short.’ In the third seasons of the Netflix series ‘Shtisel,’ an eminent ultra-Orthodox rabbi who heads a yeshiva in Jerusalem offers that bit of sage advice to a star student who is dealing with a life-and-death decision. Short paths tend to become shortcuts leading nowhere, while wisdom suggests taking time to make a decision. ‘A long path that is short’ is indeed a good way to explain the virtue of synodality(link is external), the biggest wager Pope Francis has made for the Catholic Church today.” By Massimo Faggioli, La Croix International, in National Catholic Reporter

This is the true ‘gold standard’ for child protection in Pennsylvania
“Across the 32 Catholic archdioceses in the United States, there are limited policies that exist to protect children from clergy sex abuse(link is external). In fact, according to CHILD USA’s recent study of the written child protection policies of the 32 U.S. Roman Catholic Archdioceses, there is no uniformity in policies across the country, and the content and quality of these policies vary significantly. The same research additionally found that the average overall score for all 32 archdioceses, based on an objective system determining whether practices and procedures to safeguard abuse victims are described in the archdiocese’s policies, was 100.9 out of 250 points, or just 40 percent of the total possible score.” By Marci Hamilton, Capital-Star Guest Contributor

The lists of ‘credibly accused priests’ are all over the map
“Think back a couple of decades. Remember how survivors and advocates deplored the stunning disparity that characterized how both the accusers and the accused were treated based solely on where the reported abuse happened? A case in Chicago, for instance, was handled very differently from a case across the state line in Milwaukee or across another state line in Gary, Indiana. These disparities were supposed to end in 2002. That year, gathered in Dallas, all of the United States bishops adopted a first-ever allegedly binding nationwide church abuse policy mandating ‘openness’ and ‘transparency’ in this scandal. But for the most part, consistency just isn’t happening. Each bishop continues to act as he sees fit, despite the nationwide policy(link is external).” By AdamHorowitzLaw.com

Abuse survivor believes now is a great evangelical moment for Church
“Teresa Pitt Green, who as a child was sexually abused by Catholic priests(link is external), said she is convinced ‘there’s a lot more hope than people dare to feel.’ ‘If I can turn all the suffering and darkness of my life into a testimony that even in that place, Jesus was there and Jesus heals me, then that’s not such a bad way to use having been abused,’ she said. Pitt Green is co-founder of Spirit Fire, a Christian restorative justice initiative and fellowship of survivors of abuse in the Church.” By Catholic Standard

Editorial: Pennsylvania Senate must stand up for victims of abuse
“Getting just about any piece of substantial legislation passed in Pennsylvania’s General Assembly is likely to be a roller coaster ride for the lawmakers and activists who support it. That’s just the nature of the institution. But it’s hard to imagine anyone having a rougher ride than state Rep. Mark Rozzi and his allies trying to expand legal rights for survivors of childhood sexual abuse(link is external). Rozzi, a Muhlenberg Township Democrat, has been working on this issue ever since entering the Legislature eight years ago. His passion for addressing the issue is motivated by his own childhood experience being raped by a priest and further fueled by so many other harrowing stories shared by fellow abuse survivors.” By Daily Times Editorial Board

STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS

Vermont bill would end time limit for civil physical abuse
“The Vermont Senate on Tuesday (Arp. 20) passed a proposal to eliminate the statute of limitations in civil cases of childhood physical abuse(link is external). The bill, approved by a vote of 29-0, builds on legislation passed two years ago that ended the statute of limitations for civil cases of past childhood sexual abuse. The proposal that passed Tuesday was pushed by a group of now-aging people who say they suffered physical abuse while living at the St. Joseph’s Orphanage in Burlington, which closed in 1974.” By Wilson Ring, Associated Press

New Colorado law ends statute of limitations for civil sex abuse cases
“Gov. Jared Polis signed a bill into law Thursday (Apr. 15) ending the statute of limitations for civil sex abuse cases(link is external). The bill removes the current six-year limitation on bringing a civil claim based on sexual misconduct. It applies to any incidents that happen on or after January 1, 2022. The legislation defines sexual misconduct and removes restrictions that limit victims’ ability to file a civil action or recover damages. The bipartisan bill was signed as survivors of sexual assault spoke out about how this bill will change lives.” By Angela Case, FOX-TV21 News

With return of lawmakers, victims of child sex crimes implore Pennsylvania Senate to advance reform bill
“Those were the gut-wrenching stories shared on Monday (Apr. 19) as dozens of victims and advocates urged the Pennsylvania Senate to advance legislation that would provide a temporary period of time for victims – all of them now adults and out of legal recourse – to seek justice. The state Senate this week is poised to consider a bill that would pave the way for victims timed-out of the legal system to get a two-year reprieve to file civil claims(link is external) – facing predators in court, or at the very least, the institutions that turned a blind eye to their abuse. The state House of Representatives has already approved the bill.” By Ivey DeJesus, PennLive.com

CLERGY SEXUAL ABUSE

INVESTIGATION: What is the real reason the Archdiocese of New Orleans declared bankruptcy
Russ Hebron, the SNAP (Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests) Leader of Louisiana, emphasized this. ‘They have multiple insurance claims of policies that cover exactly this. Sex abuse. That’s what it’s for. They’re gonna pay for most of this. Not all of it, but most of this. It’s crazy. It’s a losing battle,’ he explained. ‘… This is a matter of secrecy, a matter of silencing(link is external). The church thinks in centuries, not in weeks or years, but in centuries, literally. That’s how quickly they change. So that’s what we’re up against here.’ (Archbishop Gregory) Aymond confirmed in a WWL-TV interview that insurance will pay for the sex abuse claims … When the reporter interviewing him asked why the archdiocese needs bankruptcy protection then if insurance pays for abuse claims, one of his advisors interrupted and said that the archbishop had already answered that question.” By Helen Lewis, Big Easy Magazine

Why ABC’s (Australian Broadcasting Company) deep dive into Catholic Church abuse is groundbreaking
“‘Revelation’ (now streaming on DocPlay) is a three-part, Australian-produced documentary series, shot across a couple of years in multiple locations. It’s nothing short of a revelation itself – and a must-watch for anyone who has been following the allegations of abuse against the Catholic Church(link is external) both across the ditch – and here. ABC journalist and director Sarah Ferguson was given unprecedented access – by, yes, the church – to a few of the perpetrators, court sessions and archival material. The film-makers also travelled to New Zealand in pursuit of stories here.” By Stuff.co.nz

In New Mexico, shadows of a former haven for troubled priests
“What remains of the Servants of the Paraclete here is a wisp of the Catholic order that thrived in this mountain town a few decades ago. The ministry that drew hundreds of priests to Jemez Springs for nearly 50 years, treating them for problems ranging from alcoholism to pedophilia, shows hints of its old self. But its history is inescapable as the Archdiocese of Santa Fe continues to raise money to settle lawsuits filed by dozens of people who say they were sexually abused by priests(link is external).” By Rick Ruggles, Santa Fe New Mexican

COLORADO

Settlement helping victim of Colorado Catholic priest abuse to start a new life
“A state-led investigation into child sex abuse by Catholic priests in Colorado in 2019 discovered 52 priests were responsible for sexually assaulting 212 children(link is external) between the 1950s and 1999. Now, one of the victims is telling a story of healing after he reached a settlement with the church. ‘I never thought I would come out of the darkness,’ said Troy Gallegos, a Denver man who kept his story a secret or more than four decades. ‘I’m still trying to climb out of there.’” By Tony Kovaleski, ABC-TV7 News

CONNECTICUT

Lawsuits make new sex abuse claims against Legion of Christ
“The Legion of Christ, a Roman Catholic order disgraced by sexual abuse committed by its founder and other clergy, is facing new allegations of molestation of children in lawsuits filed this month in Connecticut, where it is based(link is external). Five men and a woman sued the order in federal court on April 14 and 15, saying they were victims of sexual crimes when they attended schools run by the Legion of Christ in New Hampshire and Rhode Island in the 1990s when they were children.” By Dave Collins, Associated Press

FLORIDA

New York man shares story of his alleged sexual abuse by a Florida priest in the 1970s
“The state’s two-year investigation into allegations Catholic priests sexually abused Florida children resulted in a blistering report(link is external), naming 97 Catholic priests meeting the state’s criteria for prosecution. Not a single one will stand trial. The priests were dead, had already been prosecuted, or in most cases — too many years had passed. But the story doesn’t end there.” By Kylie McGivern, WFTS-TV News Tampa Bay

ILLINOIS

SNAP encourages Paprocki to add five names to diocese’s ‘credibly accused’ list
“Holding signs like ‘Split hairs or protect kids’ outside of the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, members and supporters of a group of clergy sexual abuse survivors urged Springfield Catholic Bishop Thomas John Paprocki Wednesday (Apr. 21) to include five more names on the diocese’s list of ‘credibly accused’ priests(link is external). All five of the accused served at parishes or studied in the Springfield diocese, which includes 28 counties in central Illinois.” By Steven Spearie, State Journal Register

Chicago priest asked to step away following report of minor sex abuse decades ago
“A Chicago priest has been asked to step away from ministry following a report of minor sex abuse from over 35 years ago(link is external). In a letter to members of the Christ the King parish and school, Cardinal Blase Cupich said the archdiocese received a minor sex abuse allegation involving Rev. Lawrence Sullivan. Sullivan has agreed to cooperate with the request and will live away from the parish, the archdiocese said.” By WGN-TV9 News

Father Christopher Ciomek, pastor of St. Peter Damian Parish in Bartlett, removed amid 30-year-old child sex abuse claims
“Father Christopher Ciomek, pastor of St. Peter Damian Parish in northwest suburban Bartlett, has been removed from ministry as the Catholic Archdiocese of Chicago investigations allegations of child sex abuse(link is external) dating back 30 years. ‘It is with great difficulty that I write to share news about your pastor, Father Christopher Ciomek. In keeping with our child protection policies, I have asked Father Ciomek to step aside from ministry following receipt by the Archdiocese of allegations of sexual abuse of a minor approximately 30 years ago. Allegations are claims that have not been proven as true or false. Therefore, guilt or innocence should not be assumed,’ Cardinal Blase Cupich said in a letter to the parish.” By CBS-TV2 News

INDIANA

Fr. Bradley ‘rejoiced’ after Vatican reinstates him following sexual abuse allegations
“Fr. Joseph Edward Bradley, a priest of the Diocese of Owensboro, has been reinstated by the Vatican(link is external). ‘I am so happy I can hardly talk,’ Father Bradley shared. ‘I’ve been on cloud nine.’ On March 1, 2019, Fr. Bradley was temporarily suspended from public ministry by Bishop William F. Medley following a recommendation by the Diocesan Review Board that an allegation of the sexual abuse of a minor had been found credible.” By Jill Lyman and Evan Gorman, NBC-TV14 News

LOUISIANA

Rape allegations surface for Jesuit priest accused of inappropriate conduct at Loyola, Boston College
“A Jesuit priest who founded a Catholic service group resembling the Peace Corps before facing complaints of inappropriate conduct at Boston College and Loyola University is now accused of raping a subordinate on a volunteer mission(link is external). Tim Ballard’s allegations against the Rev. Ted Dziak triggered Dziak’s removal last fall as chaplain at Le Moyne College in upstate New York, where he had landed after leaving Loyola only weeks earlier. It’s unclear whether Dziak faces other consequences.’ By Ramon Antonio Vargas, NOLA.com

MARYLAND

Baltimore priest Fr. Martin H. Demek removed from ministry after allegations of child sex abuse emerge
“Fr. Martin H. Demek, the pastor at Corpus Christi Catholic Church in Baltimore, was suspended from his ministry pending the results of an investigation into allegations he sexually abused a minor(link is external) more than 30 years ago. The Archdiocese of Baltimore is now investigating those allegations and have suspended Demek from the ministry pending the results of the investigation. Demek denied the allegation, the archdiocese said in a press release Sunday, and he is cooperating with the investigation.” By WJZ-TV13 News

MASSACHUSETTS

Lawyers of man abused by late bishop want judge from outside area, citing diocese’s legal influence
“Flagging ‘novel questions of law’ that will require at least a month-long trial, lawyers for a Chicopee man abused by a former Catholic bishop(link is external) want the state’s chief justice to assign the case to a single judge, one from outside Western Massachusetts to avoid undue influence. In a recent filing in Hampden Superior Court, the lawyers say the man, identified in court documents as John Doe, faces the risk of being further traumatized by the legal process as he seeks to prove not only his sexual abuse by the late Christopher J. Weldon in the early 1960s, but that employees of the Springfield Diocese, including former Bishop Mitchell T. Rozanski, blocked his attempts to bring the molestation to light.” By Larry Parnass, The Berkshire Eagle

Complaints about Boston College priest sent to Leahy and Jesuit provincial years prior to rape allegation
“Members of the Boston College community sent complaints beginning in the 1997-98 academic year to University President Rev. William P. Leahy, S.J., accusing Rev. Ted Dziak, S.J., a Jesuit at BC from 1990 to 1998, of inappropriate conduct with students(link is external). Dziak—who went on to work at Jesuit schools in Jamaica, New Orleans, and New York—was accused last week of raping a postgraduate volunteer in Belize in 2004, according to nola.com.” By Julie Kiersznowski, Victor Stefanescu, Amy Palmer and Megan Kelly, The Heights

MICHIGAN

Former U.P. priest pleads guilty to sex abuse, to serve minimum of eight years in prison
“A former Upper Peninsula priest pleaded guilty today to four counts of criminal sexual conduct(link is external), which will result in the harshest prison sentence thus far in the Michigan Attorney General’s clergy abuse investigation. Gary Jacobs, 75, pleaded guilty in Ontonagon County on Thursday, April 22, to three counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct and one count of second-degree criminal sexual conduct, the attorney general’s office announced. He was facing four separate sexual abuse cases and his plea agreement required that he plead guilty to the highest charge in each case.” By Justine Lofton, MLive.com Michigan

MISSOURI

Guarding faith: St. Louis Archdiocese adds another priest’s name to its list of abusers, but won’t talk about it
“To this day, Our Lady of Providence is still active. But it’s faced with a conundrum. In 2019, the archdiocese released a list of dozens of clergy deemed to have substantiated claims of sexual abuse of minors against them(link is external). Last month, (Rev. Vincent J.) Duggan’s name was added to the existing list, which victim advocates say is among the least informative in the country. Apart from his name, the list merely says Duggan was ordained in 1940 and died in 1984. It doesn’t say where Duggan, or the other disgraced archdiocesan priests and deacons, served. Nor are there mug shots.” By Jess Bogan St. Louis Post-Dispatch

NEW JERSEY

‘You think you’re the only one’: N.J. abuse survivor featured in Discovery+ documentary
“At first, Keith Rennar Brennan felt flattered by the attention lavished on him by the director of his church choral group. ‘After only a few weeks of being in the group, he started calling me every night and we’d meet every week,’ Brennan said of the music director at St. Paul the Apostle Roman Catholic Church in Jersey City, where he grew up. But starting at age 14, the yearlong friendship evolved into sexual abuse(link is external).” By Deena Yellin, NorthJersey.com

N.J. Catholic priest accused of sexually abusing a boy 30 years ago
“A Catholic priest in Atlantic Highlands stands accused of sexual assault in a lawsuit filed by a man who claims the priest repeatedly molested him(link is external) decades ago when he was 13 or 14 years old. Rev. Joseph Farrell, now a pastor at St. Isidore the Farmer Parish in New Egypt, was put on leave by the Diocese of Trenton after the 44-year-old man filed suit. NJ Advance Media is not disclosing the plaintiff’s name since his lawsuit involves claims of sexual abuse.” By Rebecca Panico, NJ Advance Media on NJ.com

NEW MEXICO

St. Therese no stranger to clergy sexual abuse
“St. Therese Catholic parish in Albuquerque knows too well the scourge of clergy sexual abuse(link is external). Eight of the 79 priests and other clergy members on the archdiocese list of those ‘credibly accused’ of molesting children worked at the North Valley parish over a 32-year period. The first priest was assigned in 1959, five years after the current church was built.” By Colleen Heild, Albuquerque Journal

10th Circuit upholds sex abuse convictions of former Catholic priest
“The 10th Circuit upheld a federal grand jury’s conviction of a former priest on seven counts of sexual abuse against a 10-year-old boy(link is external) dating back to the 90s. Arthur Perrault, a former Roman Catholic priest who served at several parishes in Albuquerque, New Mexico, fled the country in 1992 to Canada and then Morocco after learning of a local reporter’s investigation into allegations that Perrault sexually abused young boys.” By Jon Parton, Courthouse News Service

St. Michael’s High School sued over alleged abuse decades ago
“Seven men filed a lawsuit last week against St. Michael’s High School in Santa Fe, alleging school officials failed to prevent three staff members – all Christian Brothers – from sexually abusing them while they were students(link is external) decades ago. The lawsuit filed in 1st Judicial District Court alleges Brothers Andrew Abdon, Louis Brousseau and Tom McConnell abused students while working for the school as teachers and athletics coaches between 1953 and 1980. All three had already been listed on the Archdiocese of Santa Fe’s credibly accused list.” By Kyle Land, Albuquerque Journal

NEW YORK.

For first time, diocese releases list of ‘credibly accused’ clergy
“As part of its bankruptcy court filings, the Roman Catholic Diocese of Rockville Centre, which oversees parishes across Long Island, has released a list of over 100 clergy accused of sexual abuse while serving in the diocese,(link is external) including some who had not previously been identified. Eleven of the clergy on the list served on the South Fork from the late-1950s through as recently as 2000.” By Carissa Katz, The East Hampton Star

Rochester’s Catholic diocese barred from shielding identities of accused priests
“A federal judge has blocked an effort by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Rochester to shield the identity of priests accused of sexual abuse(link is external) during its bankruptcy procedure, after the Democrat and Chronicle objected to the practice. Gannett Co. Inc., the parent corporation of the Rochester newspaper, filed a motion to intervene in the diocese’s bankruptcy proceeding ‘in order to enforce the public’s right of access.’ The diocese filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in September 2019, saying it could not afford to pay the compensation being demanded in a flood of new civil suits alleging sexual abuse by its priests in past decades. Hundreds of claims have been filed against the diocese as part of the bankruptcy process.” By Sean Lahman, Rochester Democrat & Chronicle

OHIO

Trial delayed for Cincinnati priest accused of rape
“The trial for Geoff Drew, the Catholic priest accused of raping an altar boy(link is external) decades ago, has been delayed again, the Hamilton County Prosecutor’s office confirmed Friday (Apr. 23). Nearly 21 months after Cincinnati police arrested Drew, his jury trial was set to begin Monday before Judge Leslie Ghiz. Now, Hamilton County court records show a ‘plea or trial setting’ scheduled for Monday at 10 a.m.” By Craig Cheatham, WCPO-TV9 News

For true healing, abuse survivors urge church to hear their stories
“A trio of survivors of sexual abuse are inviting the Catholic Church(link is external) — from parishioners in the pews to the bishops who lead dioceses — to join them on their journey toward healing and reconciliation. The invitation from Mike Hoffman, who chairs the Archdiocese of Chicago’s Hope and Healing Committee, Mark Williams, a special adviser to Cardinal Joseph W. Tobin of Newark, New Jersey, and a deacon in the Diocese of Joliet, Illinois who asked to remain anonymous is meant to help the wider church heal as well.” By Dennis Sadowski, Catholic News Service, on Cruxnow.com

VERMONT

Former Vermonter files sexual abuse lawsuit against Weston Priory
“A former Vermont resident has filed a civil lawsuit in Windsor County Superior Court, alleging the Weston Priory and the Jesuits religious order were negligent in allowing him to be sexually abused as a teenager(link is external) in about 1970. Michael Veitch, 66, of New York said he was 15 when priest James Talbot molested him during a visit to the priory, according to claims first reported in 2018. Talbot, convicted three years ago of sexually abusing a boy in Maine, recently was released from prison. The registered sex offender, now in his 80s, was jailed earlier on another conviction and has settled lawsuits with more than a dozen other plaintiffs, according to media reports.” By VTDigger.com

WASHINGTON

When sin runs deep: one Puyallup church, two priests, one awful legacy of child abuse
“Twice in the past two years, a Catholic parish in Pierce County has found itself on a list of sin, scandal and modest compensation for great pain. It’s a list that no church wants to show up on. Credible allegations of sexual abuse against two former priests led to financial settlements between abuse survivors and the Archdiocese of Seattle(link is external). The two served at All Saints Parish in Puyallup within a decade of each other. Both were accused of violating their sacred trust while assigned to the parish on 3rd Street Southwest.” By The News Tribune

WISCONSIN

Advocates for sexual abuse survivors applaud DOJ investigation into Catholic Church
“Advocacy groups representing survivors of sexual abuse are applauding the news that the Wisconsin Department of Justice plans to open an investigation into abuse by clergy members and other leaders in the Catholic church(link is external). USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin reported Thursday (Apr. 22) that Attorney General Josh Kaul sent a letter this week to the state’s five Catholic dioceses and several religious orders to inform them of the investigation. Melanie Sakoda, survivor support coordinator for Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, said she hopes the investigation will lead to a more complete list of abusers across the state. Sakoda said many of the lists released by dioceses are incomplete, leaving off visiting priests or those with abuse allegations reported in other dioceses.” By Hope Kirwan, Wisconsin Public Radio

ARGENTINA

Plaintiffs in second Provolo sex abuse trial demand ‘end to delays’
“More than a decade after pleading guilty in 1988 to sexually abusing a young boy(link is external) in Louisville, Kentucky, Deacon James Griffith was moved by his religious order to a monastery next to Immaculate Conception School in Norwood Park. The Passionists — the Catholic religious order that at the time was overseeing the church and school just north of the Kennedy Expressway on the Northwest Side — say he was assigned there in 2002 ‘to work in the provincial office’ on the third floor.” By Robert Herguth, Chicago Sun-times

CANADA

Ottawa Catholic board launching review after longtime teacher charged with sex offences
“The Ottawa Catholic School Board is launching a review of how it handled previous allegations brought forward to school administrators concerning a longtime teacher at St. Matthew High School in Orleans(link is external). Last Tuesday, Ottawa police charged Rick Watkins, 57, of Ottawa with three counts of sexual assault, three counts of sexual interference and three counts of sexual exploitation of a young person. Watkins is also known as Rick Despatie. None of the allegations have been tested in court.” By Josh Pringle, CTV News

St. Boniface priest loses ordination years after sex abuse claims
“A Roman Catholic priest from St. Boniface has been stripped of his ordination by the Pope, six years after allegations surfaced that he sexually abused young men he was counselling(link is external). Archbishop Albert LeGatt of the Archdiocese of St. Boniface announced in a letter to clergy dated April 19 that Fred Olds, former priest at St. Timothy and St. Bernadette parishes, was dismissed from the clerical state by Pope Francis and also removed from all priestly obligations, including celibacy.” By Brenda Suderman, Winnipeg Free Press

GUIANA

Bishop to the rescue as Cayenne torn over sex abuse
“Bishop Michel Dubost, after running Lyon archdiocese between the resignation of Cardinal Philippe Barbarin and the appointment of new Archbishop Olivier de Germay, will take on another clerical sexual abuse controversy(link is external) as the new apostolic administrator of Cayenne diocese in French Guiana. Dubost, 78, will temporarily lead the diocese while a canonical inquiry investigates a dispute between retired Bishop Emmanuel Lafont and an illegal  Haitian immigrant who accuses him of sexual abuse. The bishop flatly denied the charge and accused the immigrant of robbery.” By Tom Heneghan, The Tablet

IRELAND & NORTHERN IRELAND

Dublin Archdiocese ‘committed to protecting children’ despite halving staff at safeguarding service
“The Dublin Catholic Archdiocese has begun restructuring the support services it provides to parishes after halving the number of staff working in the Child Safeguarding and Protection Service(link is external) (CSPS). The number of staff working in the CSPS has been reduced from 10 to five people in recent months as part of a wider redundancy programm in the Archdiocese.” By TheJournal.ie

Bishop of Raphoe confirms diocese cooperating with retired priest investigation
“The Bishop of Raphoe has confirmed that a retired priest of the diocese has been charged with assaulting two minors(link is external) between 1972 and 1975. It is understood the 85-year-old retired priest has been released on bail after he was charged with 26 counts of indecent assault. In a statement, Bishop Alan McGuckian says the diocese has been cooperating fully with Gardai and Tusla regarding the case. He added that they are committed to assisting and supporting anyone who has been a victim of clerical abuse in seeking justice.” By Highland News Radio

SPAIN

Catholic leaders put numbers to sex abuse claims
“In a first public attempt to put numbers to instances of child sex abuse by the country’s Catholic clergy, Spain’s Episcopal Conference revealed Friday (Apr. 23) that 220 cases were officially reported to the Vatican over the past two decades(link is external). The conference, which is the top governing body of Spain’s Catholic Church, said Spanish bishops submitted 76 allegations against regular priests and 144 against members of specific religious orders to the Vatican’s office that handles sex abuse cases since 2001.” By Aritz Parra, Associated Press

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Synods will make the difference / National Catholic Reporter

“Over the years, we have begun to discover some differences between Jesus and the church: Jesus has credibility.

The reputation of the church, on the other hand, teeters.”

National Catholic Reporter

“Over the years, we have begun to discover some differences between Jesus and the church: Jesus has credibility.

“The reputation of the church, on the other hand, teeters. The papacy, the very cornerstone of the church, is a little-known history because so many of the early popes themselves were morally decrepit. The institution itself has wavered between the preservation of the faith and the amassing of power. The call of the church to protect the faith deteriorated into the Crusades rather than into universal unity. Evangelization became more a game of denominational competition than wholesale welcome of the ecumenical others.

“Until finally, the renewal of the church has been swamped in regalia, clericalism and wealth. The eminence of the church has become more architectural, more institutional than ringingly, obviously, universally compassionate. At least not as the divorced Catholic saw it then. Not as the Catholic in a mixed marriage saw it. Not as the beaten women they were telling to be more obedient to their husbands saw it. And certainly not as LGBT persons seeking real love and the sacraments they need to maintain them even now.

“Yet, it is also the church that saved itself over and over again. The church recoiled from nepotism — the control of the church by family dynasties. The church faced a long, long struggle to do it but managed finally to free itself from secular power in a monarchial world that had come to engulf it in simony and the selling of positions, pastorates and religious hucksterism.

“Even more, the church pursued idea development well beyond the errant levels of piety gone astray or magic confused with sacramentalism. The church triumphant educated generations of the faithful who sought to lead both a spiritual life and a humanly fulfilled life. And, from age to age, the church gave the world models of sanctity that kept Jesus alive in our midst.

“Is that the church that has repented its sins over the centuries and converted itself from age to age.

“But now we are back to that very point: The Church is again in need of reform and repentance, of growth and grace …”

By Joan Chittister, National Catholic Reporter — Read more …

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Podcast: Inside the top secret process of appointing a Catholic bishop

“The bishop selection process is perhaps the most secretive hiring process in the world, shielded from both the candidate and the priests and people he will serve.”

America: The Jesuit Review

“When Father John Wester received a call just before 8 a.m. Mass, he had no idea it would be the nuncio, the pope’s ambassador, phoning to tell him he would be the next auxiliary bishop of San Francisco.

“‘I think my knees were knocking,’ now-Archbishop Wester of Santa Fe, N.M., told America’s ‘Inside the Vatican’ podcast. The bishop said his parishioners told him, ‘You don’t look very good, Father!’ and I said, ‘Well, I don’t feel very good right now!’ It was kind of a shockeroo.’

“Archbishop Wester’s story is not unusual. Most bishops are appointed without ever knowing they were being considered for the job and are caught by surprise when chosen.

“The bishop selection process is perhaps the most secretive hiring process in the world, shielded from both the candidate and the priests and people he will serve. Those who are consulted about possible candidates are required to return the list of questions they’ve been sent, because even the questions, which reveal no particulars about a candidate, are protected under the Vatican’s top confidentiality classification: the ‘pontifical secret.’

‘Inside the Vatican,’ by Colleen Dulle and Gerard O’Connell, America: The Jesuit Review — Read more …

Click here to see Voice of the Faithful’s bishop selection webpages.

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Voice of the Faithful Focus News Roundup

April 20, 2021

Pope asks U.S. bishop to resign after cover-up investigation
“Pope Francis asked a bishop in the U.S. state of Minnesota to resign after he was investigated by the Vatican for allegedly interfering with past investigations into clergy sexual abuse(link is external), officials said Tuesday (Apr. 13). The Vatican said Francis accepted the resignation of Crookston Bishop Michael Hoeppner on Tuesday and named a temporary replacement to run the diocese. Hoeppner is 71, four years shy of the normal retirement age for bishops.” By Associated Press

Woelki calls for stronger law on clerical sex abuse
“The Archbishop of Cologne Cardinal Rainer Maria Woelki has called for a tightening up of Canon law on clerical sex abuse(link is external). ‘Canon law on how to deal with priestly sexual abuse must be changed. It needs tightening, that is, the rulings must be made clearer and more explicit,’ he said. For example, the statute of limitations for sexualized violence must be extended and the ‘contradictions in canon law and in the German bishops’ conference’s guidelines on priestly sexual abuse must be eliminated,’ he added.” By Christa Pongratz-Lippitt, The Tablet

A bird’s nest and healing: Vatican sponsors event on preventing sexual abuse
“The Vatican is teaming up with Harvard University to host a virtual Symposium on preventing and healing child sexual abuse(link is external), an event which grew out of a bird’s nest presented to Pope Francis, according to Jennifer Wortham, Ph.D., of Harvard. A bird’s nest can carry a powerful message: ‘All children deserve a safe and nurturing environment in which to grow.’ That simple, yet important, aim lies at the heart of this global symposium entitled ‘Faith and Flourishing: Strategies for Preventing and Healing Child Sexual Abuse.’ Dr. Wortham says she hopes April 8 will become the World Day for Child Sexual Abuse Prevention, Healing, and Justice, a proposal which she is launching at the United Nations in September.” By Devin Watkins, Vatican News

Dominicans in Poland launch investigation of abusive priest
“The Dominican province in Poland has started an independent, lay-led investigation of a sect-like youth ministry ran by Dominican Father ‘Paweł M.’ between 1996-2000 in Wrocław. The Dominican friary in Wrocław released a statement on March 7 apologizing for the abuse(link is external). ‘We turn to you with great pain and shame. We stand before you in the truth that, despite the passage of years, is revealing its terrifying face more and more clearly,’ the statement said.” By Paulina Guzik, Cruxnow.com

Legal lessons: Past sexual abuse cases help train canon lawyers, according to Pope Francis
“When Pope Francis abolished the ‘pontifical secret’ covering the church’s judicial handling of cases of the sexual abuse of minors, it was hailed as a major step forward in promoting greater transparency and accountability(link is external). At first glance, it means victims and witnesses are free to discuss a case … But an additional consequence of this landmark change, enacted in mid-December 2019, will be its potential to provide much-needed practical training and multidisciplinary studies for those involved in the handling of abuse cases.” By Carol Glatz, Catholic News Service, on TheDialog.org

ACCOUNTABILITY

French high court clears cardinal of abuse cover-up
“France’s highest court confirmed on Wednesday (Apr. 14) that the former archbishop of Lyon, Cardinal Philippe Barbarin, did not cover up the sexual abuse of minors(link is external) by a predator priest. The ruling by the Court of Cassation closes a long, emotional drama that brought angst to the Roman Catholic Church, under scrutiny around the world for hiding abuse by its clergy.” By Nicolas Vaux-Montagny, Associated Press in Star-Tribune

At online symposium, Pope Francis says religions can eradicate sexual abuse together
“After decades of child sexual abuse scandals, the Catholic Church is ready to share its successes — and failures — with other religious and lay institutions. At an April 8-10 online symposium with religious representatives from around the world, Pope Francis expressed his hope that together, religions can fight ‘this profound evil(link is external).’ ‘Faith and Flourishing: Strategies for Preventing and Healing Child Sexual Abuse,’ organized by the Human Flourishing Program at Harvard University, brought together 73 speakers from different religious, cultural and professional backgrounds last weekend to address the phenomenon that has touched nearly every major religious group in the world.” By Claire Giangravé, Religion News Service

Accountability, transparency, due process still needed, abuse experts say
“To help foster a wider discussion on work that still must be done to safeguard minors and vulnerable people in the Catholic Church(link is external), a canon law journal published a series of talks by experts regarding accountability, transparency and confidentiality in the handling of abuse allegations.mThe talks were part of a seminar in December 2019 sponsored by the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors to address the topics as well as the seal of confession and the pontifical secret.” By Carol Glatz, Catholic News Service, in The Pilot

Disgraced Palmerston North bishop’s future lies with the Vatican
“The disgraced bishop of Palmerston North, Charles Drennan, still retains his title, but must follow conditions imposed on him by the Vatican, a commission has heard(link is external). Cardinal John Dew apologised to victims of abuse from the Catholic Church at the Royal Commission into Abuse in Care on Friday (Apr. 2) and he also discussed Drennan’s resignation. Drennan resigned as Palmerston North bishop in October 2019 after allegations involving an inappropriate relationship and harm of a young woman who was not a minor.” By George Heagney, Stuff.co.nz

CARDINALS

Cupich: 30 years ago Cardinal Bernardin developed plan to address abuse
“When Cardinal Joseph L. Bernardin of Chicago developed a comprehensive plan over a two-year period, in 1991 and 1992, to address clerical sexual abuse issues(link is external) in the Illinois archdiocese, he provided a copy of those procedures to all his fellow U.S. bishops at their annual meeting. ‘Their response was decidedly mixed,’ Cardinal Blase J. Cupich, Chicago’s current cardinal-archbishop, said in recounting these efforts by the late prelate. ‘Imagine if all the bishops had taken those documents home and fully implemented them in their dioceses, how much further ahead we would be … how many children might have been spared,’ he said.” By Mark Pattison, Catholic News Service

BISHOPS

‘We are outraged’: Parents object to new assignment for Cincinnati bishop who failed to report Father Drew allegations
“Parents of young children at a private Catholic school say they are infuriated and may withdraw their students after the Archdiocese of Cincinnati assigned a former high-ranking bishop who resigned in the fallout over a priest charged with raping an altar boy to be the pastor at two churches affiliated with their school(link is external). ‘We are outraged. We are being ignored and our children’s safety is not being considered at all,’ said Kim McRoberts, whose 11-year-old daughter is in the fifth grade at St. John The Baptist School on Dry Ridge Road in Colerain Township.” By Jennifer Edwards Baker, FOX19-TV News

The cultural disarmament of progressive Catholic bishops
“Archbishop Chaput and many of his views need to be challenged. But most liberal and progressive Catholics are just ignoring him. They do so at their own peril(link is external). It is striking that Chaput seems to be the only US bishop in the 21st century who seems capable or willing to offer to the wider public — Catholics and non-Catholics alike — his vision in a format that leaves an impression and a deeper effect than the occasional interview or speech.” By Massimo Faggioli, La Croix International, in National Catholic Reporter

Msgr. John Tracy Ellis on selecting bishops in the US
“The title ‘On the Selection of Bishops for the United States’(link is external) did not indicate if this was a lecture or the draft of a magazine article. I asked Purcell if he knew to what purpose the monograph had been put, and he checked with a priest in San Francisco who instructed me to reach out to Fr. Tom Shelley, a priest of the New York Archdiocese, who is working on a biography of Ellis. I did so, and Shelley let me know that Ellis had published two articles on the subject, one for Commonweal and the other for The Critic. I took a photograph of the first page and sent it to Shelley. He replied that the monograph was identical to the opening of the article in the July, 1969 issue of The Critic.” By Michael Sean Winters, National Catholic Reporter

PRIESTS

Vatican plans major conference on priesthood
“Increasing vocations to the priesthood, improving the way lay people and priests work together and ensuring that service, not power, motivates ordination(link is external) are all possible outcomes of a major Vatican symposium planned for 2022. ‘A theological symposium does not claim to offer practical solutions to all the pastoral and missionary problems of the church, but it can help us deepen the foundation of the church’s mission,’ said Cardinal Marc Ouellet, prefect of the Congregation for Bishops and the chief organizer of the symposium planned for February 17-19, 2022.” By CathNews.com

VATICAN

Vatican event on priesthood to explore topic of celibacy
“A top Vatican official in charge of organizing a major symposium on the priesthood next year has said the discussion will touch on several controversial hot-button issues such as priestly celibacy, the women’s diaconate, clericalism, and the clerical sexual abuse crisis(link is external). Speaking to journalists during the April 12 presentation of the event, Canadian Cardinal Marc Ouellet said, ‘the question of celibacy is important.’ ‘We have all spoken about it, and it will be discussed, but it will not be the central theme of the symposium,’ he said. ‘It is not a symposium on celibacy, like it needs to be taken up deeply. It’s a broader perspective.’” By Elise Ann Allen, Cruxnow.com

CHURCH FINANCES

Italian prosecutors request arrest warrant for Italian financier named in Vatican scandals”
“Italian prosecutors have asked a judge for an arrest warrant for Gianluigi Torzi, accusing the financier of money laundering and tax evasion(link is external). Torzi is already embroiled in a legal battle with the Vatican’s judiciary for his alleged role in the controversial purchase of a London apartment complex using Catholic Church funds. The document, signed March 29 and seen by Religion News Service, cites ‘serious indications of guilt related to self-laundering and tax violations.’ The Italian authorities also charged him with requesting false payments and fraudulently filing for bankruptcy.” By Claire Giangravé, Religion News Service

VOICES

Can the Catholic Church agree to change anything?
“Sometimes you need to catch your breath when a Vatican official’s speaking echoes a theologian’s writings. Which way is this going to go? Not long ago, the Vatican secretary of state, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, echoed a 50-year-old passage from a book by … wait for it … Swiss theologian Hans Küng. Speaking on Spain’s church-owned COPE radio network, Parolin underscored the Good Friday theme of Cardinal Raniero Cantalamessa, preacher for the papal household, and (perhaps unknowingly) brought forth a concept delineated by Küng 50 years ago: Some things can change, but internal church divisions are dangerous(link is external).” By Phyllis Zagano, National Catholic Reporter

Overdue reckoning at hand for archdiocese
“Completing a settlement between victims of clergy sexual abuse and the Archdiocese of Santa Fe is crucial for Roman Catholics in New Mexico. First, the people injured by an institution that allowed its priests to harm children are owed reparations. The damage to these victims is incalculable; money is the least the church can do to compensate for the sins of the past. As many New Mexicans know too well, the church that nurtured their faith and fed their souls also turned a blind eye to repeated reports that its clergy were molesting children(link is external). Preserving the church’s reputation was all that mattered.” By The Santa Fe New Mexican Editorial Board

Barron’s ‘beige Catholicism’ erases years of racial, social justice activism
“Bishop Robert Barron’s recent piece detailing the ‘evangelical path’ of his organization Word on Fire has provoked heated debate over his use of the term ‘beige Catholicism’ to refer to the faith of liberal or progressive Catholics(link is external). It’s not the first time he’s used the term. He coined the phrase 25 years ago, to critique modern or liberal Catholicism as ‘a faith that had become culturally accommodating, hand-wringing, unsure of itself.’ Barron has long combated post-Vatican II trends that he sees as anthropocentric rather than Christocentric. He connects these trends with the loss of the beauty and splendor of the Catholic cultural tradition. But he has now become concerned with what he sees as liberal Catholicism’s dangerous opposite extreme: the radical traditionalist movement in the church.” By Rebecca Bratten Weiss, national Catholic Reporter

Wealthy conservative Catholics are the new U.S. magisterium
“Sean Fieler was once asked to name ‘the thinkers or donors’ who have influenced how he practices his considerable philanthropy. ‘There’s a good network I’ve gotten to know over the last decade or so, through boards or shared charitable interests, who have had a big effect on me — Frank Hanna, Tim Busch, and Leonard Leo, for sure,’ he answered. Fieler is not a household name in Catholic circles, but anyone interested in the future of the church in the United States should keep tabs on what he and his ‘good network’ are up to(link is external).” By Tom Roberts, National Catholic Reporter

Saying sorry not enough
“A day late and a dollar short. That was the phrase used by Dr. Tom Doyle, a non-practicing Catholic priest, to describe the church’s apology, at the Royal Commission into Abuse in Care(link is external) last month, to those damaged by clergy sexual abuse. Dr. Doyle has been researching this issue since the 1980s when, as a canon lawyer stationed at the Vatican embassy in Washington, he was one of the authors of a 1985 confidential report on clergy sexual abuse of minors written for the National Conference of Catholic Bishops.” By Otago Daily Times Editorial Board

American Catholicism: Headed Towards a Dead End
“Although ‘nearly one-third of American adults (31.7%) say they were raised Catholic, only about one in five (20.8%) identified as Catholic’ in a survey conducted by the Pew Research Center. ‘The share of adults who identify as Christians fell from 78% to just under 71%’ between 2007 and 2014. But ‘within Christianity the greatest net losses, by far, have been experienced by Catholics(link is external),’ according to the ‘America’s Changing Religious Landscape’ study. The survey also showed that – since 34% of Catholics were Latino and 8% Black, Asian or other – the number of white Catholics had fallen to less than 12% of the population.” By Betty Clermont, OpenTabernacle.wordpress.com

STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS

Child sex abuse lawsuit bill faces long odds in House vote
“The Pennsylvania General Assembly is again discussing legislation to aid survivors of childhood sexual abuse(link is external), which faces an uphill battle to be passed. The goal of several different proposed measures is to create a two-year window for survivors of childhood sexual abuse to sue their abusers, most notably Catholic dioceses across Pennsylvania. The original measure, a constitutional amendment question that would have been posed to voters during the May 2021 primary election, has faced multiple setbacks.” By Harri Leigh, FOX43-TV News

Colorado Lawmaker Shares Story Of Rape As Legislature Eliminates Statute of Limitations Ending 30 Year Battle
“ he state legislature passed a bill which allows survivors of sexual assault to sue their perpetrators no matter how much time has passed(link is external). The bill eliminates the statute of limitations in civil cases. Survivors have been trying to pass the bill for 30 years, telling their stories year after year. This year, a state lawmaker was among them.” By CBS4 Political Specialist Shaun Boyd

Is this the year Minnesota gets rid of the statute of limitations on sexual assault?
“People who commit sexual assault will be at risk of criminal charges for the rest of their lives(link is external) if a bill to eliminate Minnesota’s statute of limitations on rape and other sex crimes gets enough support in the Legislature. William Dinkel, a survivor of child sexual abuse and a Long Prairie native, has advocated for the policy. A law change will send a message to victims that the justice system and the government care about them and want justice, Dinkel said Tuesday (Mar. 30).” By Nora G. Hertel, St. Cloud Times

CLERGY SEXUAL ABUSE

Former campus minister at Franciscan University indicted on rape charges
“A former campus minister at Franciscan University of Steubenville has been charged with rape and sexual battery against an individual with mental illness(link is external) placed under his care for mental health treatment. The charges against Third Order Franciscan Fr. David Morrier were filed on April 7 in Jefferson County, Ohio. Morrier, 59, is charged with one count of rape and two counts of sexual battery dating from November 2010 through the spring of 2013. According to the indictment, the alleged victim’s ability ‘to resist or consent was substantially impaired because of a mental or physical condition.’” By Christopher White, National Catholic Reporter

Site aims to help abuse survivors
“Jeff Anderson & Associates on Tuesday (Apr. 6) launched a database they hope will aid child abuse survivors, law enforcement and fellow attorneys(link is external) in their efforts to seek justice from the Catholic Church in New York State. The virtual event featured a breakdown of statistics for all dioceses in the state, including the Diocese of Ogdensburg. Anderson said the purpose of the report was, in part, “to identify those institutions and Catholic bishops across this country who have been complicit in allowing children to have been abused and to do what we can with each survivor, one at a time, to make sure that we are doing something today to protect kids tomorrow.” By Cara Chapman, Press-Republican

CALIFORNIA

Newport psychologist arrested on charges of sexually abusing children as a priest in California
“A former Roman Catholic priest who has worked as a clinical psychologist in Newport is facing charges of sexually abusing boys at parishes in California more than 20 years ago(link is external). The former Rev. Christopher J. Cunningham was arrested early Wednesday at his home on Sylvan Terrace by the U.S. Marshals Fugitive Task Force. Cunningham, 58, was sought by the Los Angeles County Sheriffs Department on a dozen charges of lewd acts upon boys under 14 years old, during incidents from 1995 through 1997. He was arraigned at Kent County Superior Court in Warwick and held for extradition to face the charges in Los Angeles County.” By Amanda Milkovits, The Boston Globe

MASSACHUSETTS

A progress report on diocese’s abuse response task force
“Last fall, in my capacity as chair of the Independent Task Force on the Response to Sexual Abuse within the Diocese of Springfield, I wrote an op-ed providing an overview of the work the task force was undertaking with emphasis on the stakeholder input that we would be seeking. I write now to affirm that the task force has been actively engaged and has made excellent progress in our data collection endeavor and in other phases of our work(link is external).” By Daniel Ford, Berkshire Eagle

MISSOURI

Survivors of church abuse laud Missouri Supreme Court ruling on evidence in lawsuits
“Survivors of sexual abuse by Catholic priests lauded a Missouri Supreme Court decision that will allow some circumstantial evidence to be presented in lawsuits(link is external). A small group of volunteers with the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests gathered Wednesday (Apr. 7) outside the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph in downtown Kansas City. ‘The Supreme Court, in a unanimous ruling yesterday, essentially made it somewhat easier for victims to expose predators and protect kids through civil lawsuits,’ said SNAP member David Clohessy. ‘Let’s be clear — Missouri has always been and remains a very tough state for victims to get justice in, but yesterday was progress.’” By Katie Moore, The Kansas City Star

Missouri Supreme Court keeps Chaminade clergy sex abuse case alive
“The Missouri Supreme Court on Tuesday(Apr. 6) affirmed a decision by a lower court that First Amendment protections shield religious employers from some lawsuits in certain cases of clergy abuse(link is external). But the court also overturned part of the lower court’s decision, saying it erred in not allowing plaintiff John Doe to bring expert testimony backing his claims of intentional failure to supervise clergy before a jury.” By Maria Benevento, St. Louis Post-Dispatch

NEW JERSEY

Newark Archdiocese let priest work after one sex abuse allegation. Now there are 2 more
“A newly filed lawsuit alleges that Kevin Gugliotta, a priest in the Newark Archdiocese, sexually abused a boy at a Union County parish(link is external) in 2006, a few years after church officials decided he could not be punished for alleged abuse from decades earlier when he was a Boy Scout leader. Newark Archdiocese officials have said they had no authority to punish Gugliotta after first hearing about allegations against him in 2003 because he was not yet a priest at the time of the alleged abuse, which the accuser said occurred in the 1980s.” By Abbott Koloff, NorthJersey.com

NEW MEXICO

Silent no more: Victim says abuse left her life a shambles
“For decades, Leigh-Anne just wanted someone, anyone, to listen. Instead, she said, she was placed in a mental hospital, silenced and ignored(link is external) until she fell into a years-long spiral of drug addiction, self-doubt and destruction. The 39-year-old was finally going to get her chance to confront Sabine Griego – the former priest who she says raped her repeatedly from ages 7 to 9.” By Matthew Reisen, Albuquerque Journal

Priest sex abuse survivor sues NMAG for allegedly withholding public records
“A survivor of alleged sexual abuse when he was a child is suing the New Mexico Attorney General’s Office for allegedly withholding public records related to credibly accused Catholic priests within the Diocese of Las Cruces(link is external). ‘For decades the national Catholic Church used New Mexico as a destination to hide pedophile priests, taking advantage of the unique cultural makeup of our communities, including their devoutness,’ attorney Paul Linnenburger said in a news release … Fr. David Holley victim Phil Saviano who was abused by Holley in Douglas, Massachusetts, in the Worcester Diocese in the 1960s.” By Nicole Maxwell, Alamogordo Daily News, in New Hampshire Union Leader

NEW YORK.

Head of elite Catholic school is fired over sexual misconduct charges
“Regis High School, one of the most prominent Catholic schools in the country, said it planned to fire the Jesuit priest who serves as its president after an investigation found he had engaged in sexual misconduct involving several adults(link is external), including school employees. The Rev. Daniel Lahart, who has been president of Regis, a prestigious all-boys school in Manhattan, since 2016, has been on administrative leave since late February, the school said in a statement. His firing will be effective April 21, the school said.” By Liam Stack, The New York Times

Almost 600 child sex abuse lawsuits filed against Brooklyn Jiocese under Child Victims Act
“Almost 600 child sex abuse lawsuits(link is external) have been filed against the Catholic Church’s Diocese of Brooklyn since the passage of the state’s Child Victims Act in 2019 through the end of 2020, according to a recent analysis. The 571 complaints filed against the Diocese, which covers Brooklyn and Queens, during the first 17 months of the act includes filings against 532 institutions under control of the religious district and 301 alleged abusers. Of those alleged abusers are 230 members of the clergy.” By Kevin Duggan, The Brooklyn Paper

More than 300 sex abuse claims against the Roman Catholic Diocese of Rochester
“The Roman Catholic Diocese of Rochester is facing more than 300 lawsuits tied to accusations of sexual abuse(link is external). The lawsuits stem from the New York’s Child Victims Act, which took effect in August 2019. It allowed victims who claim that they were sexually abused by members of the diocese to file civil lawsuits anonymously. It also stiffened penalties for their perpetrators. The diocese filed for bankruptcy in 2019 a month after the Child Victims Act took effect.” By James Brown, WXXI-FM Public Radio News

Ogdensburg Catholic diocese named in 80 child abuse cases
“Between September 2019 and December 2020 cases were filed under New York’s Child Victims Act that accused 39 clergy and a lay teacher in the diocese of abuse(link is external). Analysis of the cases in New York state was conducted by a law firm representing some of the child abuse survivors. The oldest alleged incidents were from 1959 ending with the most recent ones occurring in 1995.” By Celia Clarke, North Country Public Radio

Catholic Church Faces Wave Of Sex Abuse Cases Across State
“The New York State Child Victims Act has wiped away decades of silence in the Catholic Church, with thousands of sexual abuse survivors coming forward(link is external) and creating a surge of sexual abuse cases against the papistry. This past summer, it was revealed that priests in Oswego were included in a list of new lawsuits against the Diocese of Syracuse under the Child Victims Act.” By Shea O’Malley, Oswego County Today

NORTH DAKOTA

Catholic Confessions Part 1: A history of clergy abuse in North Dakota
“In January, the Attorney General’s office released the results of an 18-month long investigation into allegations of child sexual abuse by members of the North Dakota Catholic Dioceses(link is external). This investigation was prompted after the Bismarck and Fargo Dioceses released a list of 53 individuals with allegations of child sexual abuse in 2019. Of the 53 named individuals, all but two had died by the time the investigation commenced.” By Hayley Boland, KFYR-TV FOX News

OHIO

Cincinnati bishop who quit in fallout over priest charged with raping altar boy will be pastor over two churches
“The second-highest ranking bishop at the Archdiocese of Cincinnati who resigned in the fallout over a West Side priest charged with raping an altar boy three decades ago will be the pastor of two Hamilton County churches starting July 1(link is external). Auxiliary Bishop Emeritus Joseph Binzer was assigned to oversee the ‘pastoral territory’ of Corpus Christi Catholic Church off Springdale Road in Mt. Healthy and St. John Neumann Catholic Church located on Mill Road in Springfield Township, according to one of the church’s websites.” By Jennifer Edwards Baker, FOX19-TV News

Former campus minister at Franciscan University indicted on rape charges
“A former campus minister at Franciscan University of Steubenville has been charged with rape and sexual battery against an individual with mental illness(link is external) placed under his care for mental health treatment. The charges against Third Order Franciscan Fr. David Morrier were filed on April 7 in Jefferson County, Ohio. Morrier, 59, is charged with one count of rape and two counts of sexual battery dating from November 2010 through the spring of 2013. According to the indictment, the alleged victim’s ability ‘to resist or consent was substantially impaired because of a mental or physical condition.’” By Christopher White, Cruxnow.com

PENNSYLVANIA

State House OKs plan to allow sex abuse victims to sue despite statute of limitations
“The state House on Wednesday (Apr. 7) passed legislation that would open a window for lawsuits by survivors of childhood sex abuse without first seeking to change the Constitution(link is external). The measure isn’t likely to move in the state Senate, where Republicans have said they think that the change to allow lawsuits can only be legally provided by amending the Constitution, a process that will take until 2023 at the earliest … This legislation would allow survivors of abuse to sue public schools in addition to private schools and other private organizations.” By John Finnerty, New Castle News

VERMONT

Former residents of St. Joseph’s Orphanage recount horrific abuse, want day in court
“Several former residents of the St. Joseph’s Orphanage in Burlington spoke of the abuse they suffered there and urged the Legislature to eliminate the statute of limitations(link is external) for civil claims of childhood physical abuse. They would also like to see the legislation go further and allow civil claims of childhood emotional abuse. Linda Crossman, a member of Voices of St. Joseph’s, was among the former residents who urged expanding the legislation to include emotional abuse.” By Alan J. Keays, VTDigger.org

WISCONSIN

St. Norbert Abbey identifies two more Norbertine priests who abused minors, including former abbot
“St. Norbert Abbey, under pressure to deal with a history of abusive clergy(link is external), has identified two more Norbertine priests who sexually abused minors in the 1960s and ’80s. The newly named priests include former Abbot Benjamin Mackin, who led the Catholic order in De Pere from 1982 to 1994. A review by an independent board substantiated claims that Mackin sexually assaulted minors in the 1980s while abuse by Arnold Schinkten occurred in 1962, according to a news release from the abbey Thursday (Apr. 8). Both men are dead.” By Benita Mathew and Haley BeMiller, Green Bay Press-Gazette

WYOMING

Police, DA’s office clashed amid Bishop Hart investigation, documents show
“Wyoming police and prosecutors were repeatedly at odds over the sexual abuse investigation into retired Catholic Bishop Joseph Hart(link is external), police and prosecutor documents show, with police claiming that prosecutors hadn’t read basic case documents and prosecutors complaining about media attention and their problems with the work by police. For 10 months between 2019 and 2020, prosecutors in Wyoming were considering whether to charge Hart, now 89. At least eight men told police that they or a relative had been the victim of sexual misconduct by him.” By Seth Klamann, Denver Gazette

AUSTRALIA

Bishops’ Conference achieves strong result in audit
“The Australian Catholic Bishops Conference has fully implemented or substantially progressed the implementation of 97 per cent of relevant safeguarding indicators(link is external), an external audit has found. Australian Catholic Safeguarding Ltd last week published its findings after selective interviews with Conference staff, interaction with the Conference’s leadership and Safeguarding Committee, and a review of policies and procedures. Trudy Dantis, the director of the National Centre for Pastoral Research and the chair of the Bishops Conference’s Safeguarding Committee, said the audit process helped the organization strengthen its policies and procedures.” By CathNews.com

Vatican ruling on Bishop of Broome looms as tension builds in outback diocese
“Tensions are building over whether the Vatican will allow a bishop accused of sexual misconduct and bullying(link is external) to return to his outback parish, with a former priest warning it is a critical crossroads for the Catholic Church that could set an international precedent. Bishop of Broome Christopher Saunders was sent on a six-month sabbatical in November to give the Vatican time to assess the findings of an internal investigation into his running of the remote northern diocese.” By Erin Parke, ABC Kimberley

CANADA

Former Vancouver Catholic Archbishop ordered to give evidence in old sex-abuse case
“A former Roman Catholic Archbishop of Vancouver has been ordered by a judge to give evidence in old sex-abuse case(link is external), the second time he will have given evidence in such a case. The case involves a man named Mark O’Neill alleging that he was physically and sexually abused when he was a student at the Seminary of Christ the King in Mission. He claims that several former Benedictine priests abused him while he was between the ages of 13 and 17, with the alleged incidents occurring between 1974 and 1978.” By Keith Fraser, Vancouver Sun

Former Hanover priest sentenced for sexual abuse
“A priest who lived in Hanover was sentenced Wednesday (Mar. 31) to 21 months in jail in the Superior Court of Justice in Walkerton for sexually abusing a child(link is external). Mervin Perera, 73, was found guilty Jan. 30 of touching a girl for a sexual purpose, after a trial in Walkerton. He appeared in person in a Walkerton courtroom but the sentencing was conducted by videoconference. Perera has appealed the court’s decision and was released immediately after he was sentenced, his lawyer, Scott Cowan said after the hearing. Perera is governed by release terms which include non-association with the victim.” By Scott Dunn, The Sun Times

EAST TIMOR

Defrocked US priest revered in East Timor accused of abuse
“It was the same every night. A list of names was posted on the Rev. Richard Daschbach’s bedroom door. The child at the top of the roster knew it was her turn to share the lower bunk with the elderly priest and another elementary school-aged girl. Daschbach was idolized in the remote enclave of East Timor where he lived … So, the girls never spoke about the abuse they suffered(link is external). They said they were afraid they would be banished from the shelter the 84-year-old from Pennsylvania established decades ago for abused women, orphans, and other destitute children.” By Margie Mason and Robin McDowell, Associated Press

INDONESIA

Indonesian Catholic schools move to tackle sexual abuse
“A high-profile sexual abuse case in which altar boys in Depok on the outskirts of Jakarta were assaulted by a church worker was a wake-up call for Indonesia’s Catholic schools to look at ways to better protect students from such predators, according to educators. The case — the first involving sexual abuse within the Indonesian Catholic Church brought to a civil court(link is external) — saw the perpetrator, Syahril Marbun, jailed for 15 years for raping two altar boys.” By Ryan Dagur, UCANews.com

POLAND

Sanctions against Polish bishops cautiously welcomed by abuse survivors
“After the Vatican sanctioned two retired bishops in Poland, abuse victims say it’s a good start, but may be too little, too late(link is external). On Tuesday (Mar. 30), the Vatican imposed sanctions on emeritus Bishop Edward Janiak of Kalisz and Archbishop Sławoj Leszek Głódź of Gdańsk. The two had been featured in the ground-breaking documentaries ‘Hide and Seek’ (2020) and ‘Tell No One’ (2019) by the Sekielski Brothers.” By Paulina Guzik, Cruxnow.com

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A historic resignation / Commonweal

“The disclosure that the pope had ‘asked for’ the bishop’s resignation, appearing in a statement from the Diocese of Crookston, marked a significant advance in the long effort to hold prelates accountable for concealing clergy sexual abuse.”

Commonweal

“When Msgr. Roger Grundhaus wanted to baptize his niece’s baby in the cathedral of a nearby diocese, there was the simple matter of getting a letter from his bishop affirming that he was a priest in good standing.

“Bishop Michael J. Hoeppner of Crookston in northwest Minnesota obliged the retired priest, a former vicar general of his diocese. ‘He is a person of good moral character and reputation,’ he wrote in 2012. ‘I am unaware of anything in his background which would render him unsuitable to work with minor children.’

“But contrary to that blanket statement, Hoeppner had already heard allegations directly from a diaconate candidate, Ron Vasek, that Grundhaus had molested him in the early 1970s. And so, attorney Jeff Anderson confronted the bishop with the letter during a deposition: ‘That’s a lie, isn’t it?’

“‘Counsel, can you rephrase in a non-argumentative way?’ the diocesan lawyer interjected, and there was no admission from the bishop in settling the lawsuit.

“This letter was part of a trail of evidence leading to the announcement that Pope Francis had asked for and received Hoeppner’s resignation as bishop, a first in the United States under the 2019 Vatican regulations designed to prevent cover-ups of clergy sexual abuse. The disclosure that the pope had ‘asked for’ the bishop’s resignation, appearing in a statement from the Diocese of Crookston, marked a significant advance in the long effort to hold prelates accountable for concealing clergy sexual abuse.”

By Paul Moses, Commonweal — Read more …

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Voice of the Faithful Focus News Roundup

April 2, 2021

TOP STORIES

USCCB: Church must build culture of transparency on abuse
“Members of the U.S. bishops’ Committee on the Protection of Children and Young People have agreed with the National Review Board’s call that the Catholic Church must continue to build a culture of accountability and transparency regarding clergy sexual abuse(link is external). Bishop James V. Johnson Jr. of Kansas City-St. Joseph, Missouri, committee chairman, said in a statement that the members also agree with the all-lay review board ‘on the need to identify, address and correct systemic failures which hinder the best response to allegations.’’ By Catholic News Service in Florida Catholic Media

Cologne Catholic Church Failed in Handling Sex Abuse Claims, Report Finds
“A Roman Catholic archbishop in Germany offered his resignation and two other high-ranking officials were suspended in the wake of a report that found decades of ‘systematic cover-up’ in the church’s handling of accusations of sexual abuse at the hands of clergy members(link is external). The 800-page report, examining the years 1975 to 2018 at the Archdiocese of Cologne, was released on Thursday after five months of intense investigation. It was critical of the actions of Stefan Hesse, who had worked at the Archdiocese of Cologne and is now the archbishop of Hamburg.” By Melissa Eddy, The New York Times

Pope names prominent Chilean clerical abuse survivor to Vatican panel
“Pope Francis has appointed a prominent Chilean survivor of clerical sex abuse to a Vatican commission(link is external) which focuses on education to prevent abuse in the Roman Catholic Church. Juan Carlos Cruz, an international advocate for abuse victims, was abused as a teenager in his native Chile by a notorious paedophile, Father Fernando Karadima.” By KFGO-AM News

Former Albany bishop will be investigated under ‘Vos estis’ norms
“An anonymous plaintiff last week filed a lawsuit against former Albany bishop Howard Hubbard, alleging that Hubbard molested him in 1977, soon after his installation as bishop(link is external). The diocese of Albany confirmed to CNA on Wednesday (Mar. 24) that Hubbard will be investigated according to Vos estis lux mundi, the procedure for investigating abuse accusations against bishops that Pope Francis promulgated in May 2019. Also named in the suit are the diocese of Albany and St. Edward the Confessor Catholic Church in Clifton Park, New York, north of the city.” By Jonah McKeown, Catholic News Agency

Is Synodal Path in Germany a road to schism?
“In 2019, the German Catholic Church envisioned a ‘Synodal Path’ to try to address the institutional clerical sexual abuse scandal(link is external). Bishops, laity, priests, religious and experts were all summoned to find solutions and set forth a reform path that has expanded its scope to question Catholic Church teaching on areas of sexuality. (This is part two of a two part series looking into Germany’s Synodal Path, a process launched by the bishops’ conference in 2019 in an attempt to respond to the clerical sexual abuse crisis. Part one can be found here(link is external).) By Inés San Martín, Cruxnow.com

Vatican sanctions two Polish bishops after ‘Vos estis’ investigations
“The apostolic nunciature in Poland announced Monday (Mar. 29) that the Vatican has sanctioned two Polish bishops at the conclusion of canonical inquiries into accusations they were negligent in their handling of sexual abuse of minors by clergy(link is external). According to March 29 statements on the website of the Polish Catholic bishops’ conference, Archbishop Sławoj Leszek Głódź and Bishop Edward Janiak have been ordered by the Holy See to live outside their former dioceses, and told they cannot participate in public liturgies or non-religious gatherings within the territory of the dioceses.” By Hannah Brockhaus, Catholic News Agency

ACCOUNTABILITY

Sanctions against Polish bishops cautiously welcomed by abuse survivors
“After the Vatican sanctioned two retired bishops in Poland, abuse victims say it’s a good start, but may be too little, too late(link is external). On Tuesday (Mar. 30), the Vatican imposed sanctions on emeritus Bishop Edward Janiak of Kalisz and Archbishop Sławoj Leszek Głódź of Gdańsk. The two had been featured in the ground-breaking documentaries ‘Hide and Seek’ (2020) and ‘Tell No One’ (2019) by the Sekielski Brothers. The filmmakers documented how, for years the bishops ignored sexual abuse by the clergy in their dioceses, refusing to help victims or even properly investigate accusations.” By Paulina Guzik, Cruxnow.com

Effort to eliminate clergy-penitent privilege dies amid anti-Catholic fears
“An effort to eliminate clergy privilege and force religious leaders to report child abuse to legal authorities was unable to get enough votes(link is external) to make it out of committee Tuesday (Mar. 23) after days of backroom drama. Currently, only Guam, New Hampshire and West Virginia consider clergy mandated reporters and clergy-penitent privilege is waived in cases of suspected child abuse or neglect in those states. In Arizona (and everywhere else), clergy are not mandated reporters and suspected child abuse or neglect isn’t exempted from that, even if it is ongoing. And religious leaders cannot be forced to testify in court about abuse a parishoner confessed to committing.” By Jerod MacDonald-Evoy, Arizona Mirror

German Catholic Church ‘covered up’ cases of sexual abuse by clergy
“A system of ‘silence, secrecy and lack of oversight’ led to a lack of compassion for the victims of sexual abuse by the clergy(link is external), a German cardinal has announced. Archbishop of Cologne Cardinal Rainer Maria Woelki said he bore some responsibility for the sexual abuse scandal that has rocked the German Catholic Church and that there was an effort in the Cologne diocese to cover up cases of sexual abuse. He did not, however, offer to resign, saying such a move would be a short-lived symbolic step. He instead vowed to do ‘everything humanly possible’ to prevent sexual abuse in the Church.” By Deutsche Welle

German cardinal sees own mistakes over past abuse cases
“The Roman Catholic archbishop of the German city of Cologne said Tuesday (Mar. 23) that he made mistakes in past cases involving sexual abuse allegations against priests(link is external), although a report has cleared him of wrongdoing, but made clear he has no intention of resigning. Cardinal Rainer Maria Woelki was speaking after the release last week of a report he commissioned on church officials’ response to past abuse allegations. The findings have prompted the current archbishop of Hamburg to offer his resignation to Pope Francis, while three Cologne church officials, including two auxiliary bishops, were suspended.” By Associated Press

POPE FRANCIS

Francis says the Church is ‘never wrong’ when it listens to the faithful
“An estimated 100,000 Argentines sent messages to Pope Francis March 13, sharing their opinions regarding the first eight years of his pontificate, and he responded with a video made public Thursday (Apr. 1), arguing that the Church is ‘never wrong’ when listening to the ‘holy faithful people of God(link is external).’ ‘In theological terms, they call it synodality,’ Francis said. ‘It might have many names, but it’s the holy faithful people of God that carries the faith forward and in its own dialect.’” By Inés San Martín, Cruxnow.com

CARDINALS

Leading cardinals feel push toward schism
“The Vatican is now in crisis management mode with German bishops. In January, two Vatican cardinals wanted to summon the president of the German bishops’ conference to Rome and correct him about a media interview in which he expressed his dissent from Church teaching in a number of areas. Such a meeting, which some believe should have been used to give the Vatican’s formal opposition to the Synodal Path, never happened and now the German bishops are blazing ahead unfettered, drawing grave concerns of possible schism(link is external).” By Edward Pentin, National Catholic Register

Brazilian cardinal accused of downplaying priest’s alleged abuse of teen
“When he was 17-year-old, Elissandro Nazare de Siqueira was trying to make a living for himself in São Paulo when he met Father Bartolomeu da Silva Paz, a priest known for his lively Masses and his charitable enterprises … At first, he saw Paz as a savior, since the priest found him a small room in the house of one of his parishioners, and he became the handyman of the parish of Nossa Senhora de Monte Serrat. Yet soon Siqueira claims an abusive relationship began: He said that in a secluded house owned by the parish, the priest got him drunk and raped him(link is external).” By Inés San Martín, Cruxnow.com

BISHOPS

Pope grants German archbishop faulted over abuse ‘time out’
“Pope Francis has granted a ‘time out’ to a German archbishop who offered his resignation after being faulted for his handling of allegations of sexual abuse(link is external) in his previous diocese, church authorities said Monday (Mar. 29). Hamburg Archbishop Stefan Hesse’s offer on March 18 followed the release of a report commissioned by his counterpart in Cologne which found 75 cases in which high-ranking officials neglected their duties in such cases. They were criticized, for example, for failing to follow up on or report cases of abuse, not sanctioning perpetrators or not caring for victims.” By Associated Press

Italian bishops plan synodal path to overcome ‘stale’ structures
“This week the Italian bishops set to work on the initial preparations of their upcoming ‘synodal journey,’ which was explicitly asked for by Pope Francis. At the close of their spring plenary assembly, the Italian Bishops Conference (CEI) said the coronavirus pandemic is an ideal time to hold their own national synod, assessing not only the challenges the country faces in the current crisis, but the state of the Church. ‘For the bishops, it is time to abandon those superstructures known to be stale and repetitive(link is external) … sometimes breaking with, or, in any case, not in line with the ‘it’s always been done like this’ mentality,’ read a March 25 communique issued by the bishops at the close of their assembly.” By Elise Ann Allen, Cruxnow.com

WOMEN’S VOICES

‘Synodality’ and women’s empowerment go together, leading sisters say
“Over the eight-plus years of the Francis papacy, perhaps no single term has captured the essence of this maverick pope’s vision better than ‘synodality.’ The only thing about the word more striking than the frequency of its use, perhaps, is the near-impossibility of specifying exactly what it means. A Vatican official, and a woman much-cited recently as proof of Pope Francis’s commitment to hearing the voices of women, now says whatever the precise definition of ‘synodality,’ in practice it implies an almost Copernican shift in perspective and operating style(link is external).” By Elise Ann Allen, Cruxnow

Priests and lay women work together every day. The church is finally starting to train them together, too.
“Integrated formation models—which most often take the form of men preparing for the priesthood sharing classrooms and even degree programs with men and women pursuing vocations in lay ministry—are one way to foster such encounters. Part of the larger trend of greater lay involvement and leadership in the church following the Second Vatican Council(link is external), such programming is not new in the United States.” By America: The Jesuit Review

LAITY & THE CHURCH

Some church things shouldn’t return to ‘normal’ after the pandemic
“When it comes to our communal ecclesial life, I think a major lesson of the pandemic has been that more involvement and leadership on the part of the laity and non-ordained ministers is an absolute necessity(link is external). I have participated in several dozen Zoom liturgies — some Eucharistic celebrations streamed live, others centered on the celebration of the Word that allowed for greater inclusion in who presided or preached — and each of them was spiritually nourishing in its own right. I know many others who have likewise “shopped” around online, sampling the liturgical life of communities physically distanced but spiritually united, and it was life giving.” By Daniel P. Horan, National Catholic Reporter

CHURCH REFORM

Former Priest Calls to Reform the Catholic Church
“The battle to reform the Catholic Church has been plagued by a long-running sexual abuse crisis. Author, historian and journalist James Carroll argues that male dominance is the root cause of the church’s issues(link is external). His new memoir, “The Truth at the Heart of the Lie,” links his own crisis of faith as a priest to the history of the church itself. He joins Michel Martin to discuss his call for reform.” James Carroll on Amanpour & Co., PBSLocal.com

CHURCH FINANCES

Further measures needed to combat financial crime at Vatican, pope says
“Signaling further reforms of the Vatican City State penal code, particularly when it comes to financial crimes(link is external), Pope Francis said the laws must reflect ‘the equality of all members of the church’ by doing away with ‘privileges that go back in time and are no longer in keeping with the responsibility of each for building up of the church.’ Meeting March 27 with the judges, prosecutors, investigators and other members of the Vatican’s state tribunal, the pope also encouraged efforts to facilitate international cooperation in investigations to ensure an accurate exchange of information in a timely manner.” By Catholic News Service in The Catholic Sun

British judge: Vatican made ‘appalling’ claims in UK probe
“A British judge has blasted Vatican prosecutors for making ‘appalling’ misrepresentations to the court about their investigation into the Holy See’s investment in a London real estate deal(link is external), determining they don’t have much of a case against their key suspect. In a remarkable ruling made public this week, Judge Tony Baumgartner of Southwark Crown Court reversed another judge’s decision to seize the British-based bank accounts of broker Gianluigi Torzi and awarded Torzi legal fees.” By Nicole Winfield, Associated Press

FUTURE OF THE CHURCH

The Church’s demagogues: Can synodality rebalance the charismatic celebrities?
“Pope Francis’ push for synodality inside the Church coincides chronologically with the rise of populist leaders and the crisis of democracy on the outside(link is external). Synodality, therefore, has an ad extra dimension. It is an ecclesial response to populist leaders who ‘hijack’ religion by sowing division and exploiting the anger of those who feel excluded, as Vatican Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle noted recently. Of course, synodality has specific ad intra dimensions, too. In an interesting article published a few months ago in Vida Nueva, Spanish Jesuit Alejandro Labajos pointed out that, according to the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, four percent of these religious communities had undergone an apostolic visitation (basically a Vatican investigation).” By Massimo Faggioli, La Croix International, in National Catholic Reporter

Catholic Church facing biggest mass walkout since child sex abuse scandal, priest claims
“James Martin, a priest who advocates for LGBT+ inclusion within the Catholic Church, made his comments after the Vatican released an explanatory note insisting that clergy must not bless same-sex unions because God ‘cannot bless sin.’ ‘Not since the anger over sex abuse in 2002 and 2018 have I seen so many people so demoralized, and ready to leave the church(link is external), as I have this week,’ Martin wrote. He added: ‘And not simply LGBT+ people, but their families and friends, a large part of the church.’” By Patrick Kelleher, YahooNews.com

VOICES

Critics charge German ‘synodal path’ exploits suffering of abuse victims
“Many of those taking part in the process believe it will bring reform and help restore credibility in the Catholic Church, particularly seeing that according to a poll by German Catholic news agency KNA, the over 200,000 people who left the Church between 2018 and 2019 did so motivated primarily by the abuse scandals. In addition, a recent survey showed almost 30 percent of the German Catholics are now considering leaving the Church. However, some believe that the Synodal Path is a wolf in sheep’s clothing. In reality, they charge, the purpose of the Synodal Path is not to bring the sexual abuse crisis to a close, but to use the actual crisis to justify profound changes in the Church(link is external), concerning Catholic teaching, identity, and tradition.” By Inés San Martín, Cruxnow.com

STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS

Bill would eliminate statute of limitations for civil claims of childhood physical abuse
“Proposed legislation would eliminate the statute of limitations in Vermont for a victim of childhood physical abuse(link is external) to bring a civil action against those responsible. The bill, S.99, which was presented Friday before the Senate Judiciary Committee, follows legislation enacted two years ago that repealed the statute of limitations for victims of sexual abuse to bring civil lawsuits. Both pieces of legislation also come in light of claims of physical and sexual abuse decades ago at the Vermont Catholic Diocese’s former St. Joseph’s Orphanage in Burlington.” By Alan J. Keays, VTDigger.org

Church, insurers oppose new effort to extend deadline for sex-abuse lawsuits
“The Rhode Island Catholic church and the state’s insurance lobby are once again leading the charge against legislative efforts to extend the deadline for lawsuits by victims of childhood sex abuse(link is external). This year, the effort focuses on removing a barrier to the filing of lawsuits against people and institutions who enabled and protected abusers by looking the other way or concealing their crimes. On Wednesday (Mar. 24) night, one speaker after another recounted for the House Judiciary Committee the number of churches their abusers worked before and after, they said, their childhoods were taken away from them.” By Katherine Gregg, The Providence Journal

Child sex abuse lawsuit ‘window’ amendment clears Pa. House
“Pennsylvania lawmakers on Wednesday (Mar. 24) finished a new first round of approvals for a constitutional amendment giving victims of child sexual abuse the power to file what would otherwise be outdated claims(link is external), but it will be 2023 at the earliest before it takes effect. The House voted 188 to 13 to approve the proposed constitutional amendment, which must pass both chambers in two consecutive two-year legislative sessions before going before voters as a referendum.” By Mark Scolforo, Cruxnow.com

Stop the bickering: Pennsylvania lawmakers must help victims of clergy sex abuse
“Lawmakers are scrambling to resurrect a proposed amendment to the state Constitution that would open a two-year window for victims of childhood sexual abuse(link is external) to retroactively sue their attackers, along with organizations that covered up the abuse, such as the Catholic church. The effort was driven by a scathing 2018 grand jury report. It disclosed accusations of more than 1,000 Pennsylvania children being sexually abused by hundreds of priests over seven decades.” By Paul Muschick, The Morning Call

CLERGY SEXUAL ABUSE

Journalists accuse Cologne archdiocese of violating freedom of the press
“The German Journalists’ Association (DJV) and the Association of German Catholic Publicists (GKP) have sharply criticized the Cologne archdiocese’s stipulations for journalists who want to read the first abuse report(link is external). On 25 March, under strict stipulations, the archdiocese allowed a first select group of ten journalists to inspect the Munich law firm’s report, which Cardinal Rainer Maria Woelki commissioned but refused to publish.” By Christa Pongratz-Lippitt, The Tablet

Legionaries of Christ publish latest abuse report for the congregation
“On Monday (Mar. 22), the scandal-plagued Legionaries of Christ religious order published its latest report detailing what they have done and what they still need to do to repair the damage done and guarantee safe spaces for minors(link is external), from third-party investigations to mandatory formation seminars and revealing the names of priests found guilty of abuse. The religious congregation continues to claim it is cleaning house, after a report released last year showed that the late Father Marcial Maciel Degolaldo, founder of the Legionaries, was far from being the only abusive priest in the movement.” By Inés San Martín, Cruxnow.com

ARIZONA

Lawsuit accuses Tucson priests of sexually abusing minors decades ago in southern Arizona
“A third victim has come forward in a federal lawsuit accusing Catholic priests of sexual abuse of minors across southern Arizona(link is external) in the 1970s and 1980s. Initially filed in December, the lawsuit claims that the Tucson Diocese and Los Angeles Archdiocese covered up abuse and moved priests around instead of reporting them to law enforcement.” By Audrey Jensen, Arizona Republic

ILLINOIS

Amid ongoing investigation, Chicago priest says he will ‘seek other ways and opportunities’ to work in the community
“The Rev. Michael Pfleger intends to find other ways to work in the Auburn Gresham community as the Chicago Archdiocese continues to investigate allegations that he molested two brothers(link is external) in the 1970s, Pfleger wrote in a recent letter to the community. ‘I know that I cannot emotionally or spiritually continue to remain isolated in an apartment waiting for this board to do its job,’ Pfleger, the pastor at St. Sabina Church, wrote. ‘While I hope and pray that the Review Board will work a little harder and more promptly to conclude their investigation, I will no longer wait in silence.’” By Sarah Freishtat and Christy Gutowski, Chicago Tribune

LOUISIANA

Slidell priest charged with molesting a juvenile
“Patrick Wattigny, a former priest at a Slidell church, has been formally charged with molestation of juvenile(link is external), District Attorney Warren Montgomery announced on Thursday, March 18. Wattigny, 63, the former pastor of St. Luke the Evangelist Catholic Church and chaplain at Pope John Paul II High School, both in Slidell, is accused of molesting a teenager, then 15, between June 1, 2013, and August 31, 2014. Wattigny was arrested in October of 2020.” By Mykal Vincent, Fox-TV News

MICHIGAN

Catholic Diocese of Saginaw removes priest from list of clergy accused of sexual misconduct
“The Catholic Diocese of Saginaw is no longer featuring the name of a local priest on its website’s list of clergy who have been credibly accused of sexually abusing a minor(link is external). Bishop Robert D. Gruss on Friday, March 26, announced he had removed the Rev. Dennis H. Kucharczyk’s name from subsection of the diocesan website titled ‘Names of Clergy Accused of Sexual Abuse of a Minor.’ The page lists 26 other names.” By Cole Waterman, MLive.com

Brighton-Area Priest Under Investigation By Michigan AG
“A priest at a Brighton-area church has been placed on leave pending the outcome of an investigation(link is external) by the Michigan Office of the Attorney General. In an email to parishioners Friday (Mar. 19), it was announced that Bishop Earl Boyea of Lansing had placed the Reverend Shaun Lowery, Pastor of St. Mary Magdalen Church in Brighton Township, on ministerial leave. The Diocese of Lansing says they are fully cooperating with the Attorney General’s investigation.” By Jon King, WHMI-FM Radio News

MISSISSIPPI

Catholic sex abuse claim: State Supreme Court hears oral arguments in Hattiesburg case
“A Forrest County judge erred when he dismissed a case of alleged sexual abuse by a Catholic priest(link is external), one attorney argued Tuesday (Mar. 30) before a three-judge panel of the Mississippi Supreme Court. Attorney John Hawkins said state law provides for a case to proceed if it was brought within three years of the discovery of an injury even if the statute of limitations for when the crime occurred had already expired. Hawkins is representing Robert McGowen, who claims he was sexually abused by former Sacred Heart Catholic Church priest Father John Scanlon in 1984 and 1985, when McGowen was 12 and 13 years old.” By Lici Beveridge, Hattiesburg American

MISSOURI

Vatican defrocked former KC priest over sexual abuse claims four days before he died
“Four days before Michael Tierney died, the Vatican confirmed a decision to defrock the former Kansas City-area priest after finding him guilty of sexually abusing minors(link is external). Bishop James V. Johnston Jr. has been notified that an appeal by Tierney to reverse the penalty of dismissal from the priesthood was resolved on Dec. 11, the Catholic Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph announced on its website this month. Tierney died on Dec. 15 at age 76.” By Judy L. Thomas, The Kansas City Star

NEW MEXICO

Clergy abuse bankruptcy moves toward resolution
“Archbishop of Santa Fe John C. Wester is living out of two rooms at an Albuquerque parish these days, his formal diocesan home sold to help pay for the sins of his predecessors and the damage done by priests and other clergy members who molested children(link is external). The archdiocese reported selling the four-bedroom, tri-level house near its Catholic Center on Albuquerque’s West Side for about $425,000 as part of a stepped up liquidation of assets in its ongoing Chapter 13 bankruptcy reorganization, which appears closer than ever to settlement.” By Colleen Heild, Albuquerque Journal

NEW YORK.

Long Island’s Catholic Diocese sells headquarters for $5.2M amid bankruptcy
“The Roman Catholic Diocese of Rockville Centre has sold its headquarters for $5.2 million in a move that was approved by U.S. Bankruptcy Court, church officials said Friday (Mar. 26) … The diocese, home to 1.4 million Catholics in the Long Island region, declared bankruptcy in October as it faced more than 200 lawsuits under New York State’s Child Victims Act(link is external). It became the largest diocese in the United States to declare bankruptcy.” By Bart Jones, Newsday

Newly filed lawsuit alleges abuse by former Albany Bishop Howard Hubbard
“Howard Hubbard, the former Bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Albany, was accused of sexual abuse in a Child Victims Act lawsuit filed last week — the seventh such action containing allegations against him(link is external). The lawsuit was filed anonymously on a male plaintiff’s behalf by Herman Law, a large firm that specializes in abuse cases. The defendants are the Diocese of Albany and St. Edward the Confessor Roman Catholic Church in Clifton Park. The complaint alleges that in 1977 — the year Hubbard was appointed bishop — he approached an 11-year-old boy at a carnival put on by St. Edward the Confessor, told the boy to accompany him to the rectory and molested him there.” By Edward McKinley, Albany Times-Union

PENNSYLVANIA

Catholic priest who groped girl, sent her nude photos deserves to do penance in prison, Pa. court says
“A Roman Catholic priest who groped a teenage girl and sent her nude photos and a video of himself(link is external) wasn’t punished too harshly with a 1- to 2-year prison sentence, a state Superior Court panel has decided. That ruling, outlined in an opinion by Judge Megan King, comes little more than a year after Lehigh County Judge Maria Dantos told Father Kevin Lonergan, ‘You have made families feel that church is no longer a safe place.’” By Matt Miller, PennLive.com

AUSTRALIA

Catholic priest accused of sexually abusing a schoolboy almost 50 years ago told police the teenager had the ‘wrong bloke’, court hears
“A former Catholic priest accused of sexually abusing a schoolboy at a remote parish(link is external) almost 50 years ago told police the teenager had the ‘wrong bloke’, a court has heard. Neville Joseph Creen, 80, denies indecently abusing the teenager in Mount Isa, northwest Queensland, where he served as a priest in the 1970s. Asked about the allegations in 2018, Creen told officers he had ‘never, ever touched the boy’, calling it a ‘gross injustice’ that he had been accused.” By Australian Associated Press in Daily Mail

CANADA

St. John’s, N.L., diocese to sell property to settle Mount Cashel abuse claims
“Roman Catholic parishes in the St. John’s area will be undergoing significant restructuring in the months ahead as the archdiocese works to resolve the harm caused to victims of abuse(link is external) at Mount Cashel orphanage, parishioners learned on the weekend. ‘Over the coming weeks you may expect to see some properties listed on the real estate market,’ read an email update from St. John’s Archbishop Peter Hundt.” By Staff, The Canadian Press

EAST TIMOR

Trial of ex-priest accused of child abuse in Timor postponed to May
“The trial of a former US priest accused of child abuse in Timor-Leste(link is external) due to resume tomorrow at the Oecusse Court has been postponed until May 24, according to judicial sources. The president of the Court of Appeal, Deolindo dos Santos, confirmed the postponement to Lusa news agency, explaining that he was asked by the lawyers for the defendant, Richard Daschbach. He was concerned with the current conditions due to the covid-19 sanitary lockdown in the Timorese capital.” By Asia Pacific Report

FRANCE

French Catholic Church to propose ‘financial contribution’ to child sex victims
“The French Catholic Church will offer a ‘financial contribution’ to the thousands of victims of child sex abuse by priests(link is external) since the 1950s, bishops have agreed. The Church wants to “recognise its responsibility to society by asking forgiveness for these crimes and shortcomings,” the bishops announced after a gathering in the southern city of Lourdes. The Bishops’ Conference of France agreed in November 2018 to set up an investigative commission after huge and repeated child abuse scandals shook the Catholic Church at home and abroad.” By Michael Fitzpsatrick, RFI.fr

IRELAND & NORTHERN IRELAND

Former Archbishop of Armagh Cardinal Sean Brady’s ‘pain’ over role in pervert priest inquiry
“Former Archbishop of Armagh Cardinal Sean Brady has expressed his ‘sadness’ and ‘pain’ over his role in an internal Church inquiry into pedophile priest Brendan Smyth, which involved swearing a 14-year-old victim to secrecy(link is external). Cardinal Brady said he was ‘too focused’ on getting a statement from the boy and acknowledged it was a ‘horrendous’ situation for the child. In a new book about Catholicism in Ireland Cardinal Brady told author Derek Scally: ‘Hauled into a room with three fellows there, his father wasn’t there, it was horrendous, really. That is only dawning on me now, really… his double victimization.’” By Maeve Sheehan, Belfast Telegaph

NEW ZEALAND

Catholic priest sexually abuses school boy, tells God would punish him if he told anyone about abuse
“A priest from a prestigious Auckland school in New Zealand is accused of sexually assaulting a boy inside the school’s Chapel(link is external). The Priest later instilled fear in the mind of the boy by saying that God would punish him if he told anyone else about the abuse. Father John Goodwin, who is now at the King’s School, has been ‘sent on leave’ by the school authorities after allegations of sexual abuse surfaced and now faces a police enquiry into the matter.” By Vinod D’Souza, International Business Times

New Zealand’s Catholic Church apologizes to survivors of abuse
“New Zealand’s Catholic Church formally apologized on Friday (Mar. 26) to the survivors of abuse within the church and said its systems and culture must change(link is external). Cardinal John Dew, who is the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Wellington and Metropolitan of New Zealand, made the apology at the Royal Commission into Abuse in Care on behalf of the bishops and congregational leaders in New Zealand. ‘Today, recognising the importance of this moment, I apologize to you, on behalf of the bishops and congregational leaders of the Catholic Church in Aotearoa New Zealand,’ said Cardinal Dew, who is also the president of the New Zealand Catholic Bishops Conference.” By Reuters

Catholic Church structure to blame for abuse in care, priest tells inquiry
A theologian has pointed the blame directly at the hierarchy and structure of the Catholic Church for abuse by priests(link is external). Dr. Tom Doyle, who is a priest, canon lawyer and addictions therapist, has given evidence to the Royal Commission into Abuse in Care in Auckland. He said the so-called mystic aura of a priest had given him super human status. Dr. Doyle, who beamed in via an audio visual link from the United States, told the inquiry priests suffered from what he called clerical narcissism.” By Andrew McRae, Radio New Zealand

Catholic Church on abuse: ‘We are ashamed and saddened’
“The Catholic Church says it’s shamed and saddened by abuse in the church(link is external). The church opened its evidence on its handling of complaints at the Inquiry into abuse in care on Monday (Mar. 22). It said its response to redress has at times been ahead of Vatican guidelines. The number of cases of abuse within the Catholic Church in New Zealand is in excess of 1100, but the Royal Commission said that is just a preliminary figure. Counsel for the Commission Katherine Anderson said failure in record keeping from the 1950s impacts on the accuracy of the figures. Cardinal John Dew told the Commission the church was saddened and ashamed by what has happened.” By Andrew McRae, Radio New Zealand, on Stuff.co.nz

POLAND

Poland: 4 churchmen allegedly didn’t report sex abuse claims
“Polish prosecutors say they have received allegations that four senior churchmen broke the law by failing to report a complaint that a priest allegedly sexually abused a minor(link is external). National Prosecutor’s Office spokeswoman Ewa Bialik confirmed to The Associated Press Wednesday (Mar. 17) that the formal notification was received this month from a new state commission that reviews whether reports of pedophilia should be reported to prosecutors.” By Associated Press

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