Voice of the Faithful Biweekly News Roundup

Voice of the Faithful Focus

Highlighting issues we face working together to Keep the Faith, Change the Church

March 31, 2017

TOP STORIES

French TV inquiry accuses 25 bishops of abuse cover-ups
“A hard-hitting French television investigation has accused 25 Catholic bishops(link is external) of protecting 32 accused clerical sex abusers in France over the past half century and often transferring them to other parishes or even other countries when they were singled out for sexual abuse of minors.” By Tom Heneghan of The Tablet in National Catholic Reporter

Catholic leaders told to come down from the pulpit to deal with sexual abuse
Catholic leaders must come down ‘from the pulpit’(link is external) to acknowledge that clergy sexual abuse of children and cover-ups had broken the Church’s heart and to do more to prevent it, speakers at a conference said on Thursday, March 23.” By Reuters Media in the Duluth News Tribune

Vatican reform on sexual abuse has stalled
“Three weeks have passed since Marie Collins resigned from the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors(link is external), complaining that the group’s work has been thwarted by resistance from within the Roman Curia. A few days after her public announcement, Cardinal Gerhard Müller, the prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith defended his office and denied any foot-dragging on the abuse issue. Collins quickly shot back, rebutting the cardinal’s arguments.” By Phil Lawler, CatholicCulture.org

O’Malley pledges pope still committed to rooting out clergy sex abuse
“In the midst of a month in which the effectiveness of Pope Francis’ measures to fight clergy sexual abuse has come into question(link is external), Boston Cardinal Sean O’Malley pledged Thursday (Mar. 23) that the pontiff is still ‘thoroughly committed to rooting out the scourge of sex abuse.’ O’Malley, the head of Francis’ Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, told participants of an education seminar hosted by the group that ‘there is simply no justification in our day for failures to enact concrete safeguarding standards for our children.’” By Joshua J. McElwee, National Catholic Reporter

How the church is combatting sexual abuse: an interview with Jesuit Hans Zollner
“‘The impression that Pope Francis is not hard enough on perpetrators is wrong(link is external). The general line of judgment and sentence has not changed,’ Hans Zollner, S.J., president of the Centre for Child Protection at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome, told ‘America’ in this interview in which he explains what the pope and the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors (PCPM) are doing to combat child abuse and ensure the protection of children in church institutions worldwide.” By Gerard O’Connell, America: The Jesuit Review

Cardinal’s plan for laypeople to lead parishes
“Cardinal Reinhard Marx has announced plans to allow laypeople in his Archdiocese of Munich to lead parishes(link is external) where there are no priests. In doing so he has strongly rejected the increasingly common option of coping with the dwindling number of ordained ministers by combining or “clustering” parishes. The 63-year-old cardinal is a top aide and advisor to Pope Francis.” By Christa Pongratz-Lippitt

ACCOUNTABILITY

Faith in Vatican lost
“A clergy sexual abuse survivor says he has lost faith the Vatican(link is external) will enact a reform to eradicate paedophile clergy from the Catholic Church. Peter Blenkiron said the Catholic Church was still focused on acting in the interests of its brand ahead of the protection of children.” By Melissa Cunningham, the Courier

Erie bishop publicizes priest dismissals
“A brief notice in a recent edition of the Catholic Diocese of Erie’s newspaper signals a new diocesan policy. Bishop Lawrence Persico is publicizing the names of priests who, from now on, have been permanently dismissed from the priesthood for disciplinary reasons(link is external) or removed from active clerical duty for reasons related to wrongdoing. The notice, in the March 5 edition of Faith Life, the diocese’s biweekly newspaper, states that Pope Francis has dismissed a former priest in the diocese, Samuel B. Slocum, 65.” By Ed Palattella, GoErie.com

Vatican maze: retracing the path of abuse accountability proposals
“Recent exchanges in the media between the head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and a former member of a papal advisory commission have highlighted a lack of clarity and transparency(link is external) when it comes to finding better ways to make bishops and religious superiors more accountable for how they handle allegations of sexual abuse.” By Carol Glatz, Catholic News Service

New canon law courses launched
“A leading canon lawyer believes accountability and transparency are critical(link is external) within Church institutions to ensure they reflect the Gospel values upon which they were founded, reports BBI-The Australian Institute of Theological Education. Emeritus Professor Francis Morrisey OMI was speaking at the official launch of BBI’s new Graduate Certificate and Graduate Diploma in Canon Law courses at the Polding Centre offices of the Archdiocese of Sydney on Monday (Mar.20).” By CathNews.com

PONTIFICAL COMMISSION FOR THE PROTECTION OF MINORS

Pontifical commission on clergy abuse expresses ‘strong support’ for Marie Collins
“Pope Francis’ commission on clergy sexual abuse has expressed its ‘strong support’ for a former member(link is external) of the group who resigned earlier this month due to frustration with Vatican officials’ reluctance to cooperate with its work to protect children. The Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors said in a statement late Sunday (Mar. 26) that the resignation of abuse survivor Marie Collins had been ‘a central topic’ of their discussions during their plenary assembly, held in Rome March 24-26.” By Joshua J. McElwee, National Catholic Reporter

Child protection commission seeks new ways to be informed by victims
“Following the resignation of a prominent member and abuse survivor(link is external), a pontifical commission charged with addressing issues related to clergy sex abuse vowed to continue to seek input from victims and survivors. The Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors said the resignation of Marie Collins was a ‘central topic’ of its March 24-26 plenary assembly, and it ‘expressed strong support for her continuing work’ to promote healing for abuse victims and ensuring best practices for prevention.” By Junno Arocho Esteves, Catholic News Service
Pope’s sex abuse board vows to go on without survivor member(link is external), By Associated Press in Chicago Tribune

Vatican abuse-prevention event ‘extremely important’ for church
“On Thursday (Mar. 23) a Vatican event on the prevention of child abuse(link is external) narrowed in on the importance of education in schools and parishes in the safeguarding of children – not only for teachers, but for parents and children – and on the Church’s role.” By Catholic News Agency
Protection of minors event draws swath of top Vatican leaders(link is external), By Elise Harris, Catholic News Agency

‘Vatican abuse commission wants compliant survivors, so I’m unlikely to return’
“Abuse survivor Peter Saunders has confirmed that he is unlikely ever to return to the Vatican’s abuse commission(link is external). Saunders, who was placed on indefinite leave from the commission last year, said that he was disappointed that Pope Francis had ‘never once visited’ the commission.” By Madeleine Teahan, Catholic Herald

POPE FRANCIS

Don’t blame Pope Francis for the confusion
“Some self-declared Catholic traditionalists have been complaining bitterly that there is much confusion and division within the Catholic Church(link is external) … They are right about one thing: there is a lot of confusion and division in the church. It’s just that it’s not the fault of Pope Francis.” By Robert Mickens, Commonweal

PRIESTS

The Church’s seminary problem
“It is such a serious problem that, according to one noted church historian, not even Pope Francis dares to speak about it(link is external). It’s the outdated model of Catholic priesthood and, even more significantly, how candidates for the ordained ministry are selected and prepared for service among the People of God. Professor Alberto Melloni of the John XXII Foundation for Religious Sciences (Bologna, Italy) recently pointed out that the archetype of today’s priest dates back to over 400 years ago and the reforms stemming from the Council of Trent (1545-1563).” By Robert Mickens, Commonweal

‘Very serious’ decline in number becoming priests in Ireland
“Papal nuncio Archbishop Charles Brown has expressed alarm at the lack of vocations in Ireland(link is external), and at the age profile of existing priests. ‘We’ve a lot of priests in Ireland who are in their 70s, who are working right now. Some are in their 80s. In 10 years they’re not going to be working. We’re at the edge of an actuarial cliff here, and we’re going to start into a free fall.” By Patsy McGarry, The Irish News

Priest who quit over abuse cases leaves priesthood entirely
“In a period of time in which Marie Collins, clergy sex abuse survivor, resigned her place on a Vatican commission attempting to deal with new policies for dealing with clerical abuse, the spotlight has returned to these issues with new focus. A priest who resigned in frustration over mishandled abuse cases(link is external) has now decided to leave the priesthood entirely. The former vicar general of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis has left the priesthood, some three and a half years after his abrupt resignation amid allegations that church officials mishandled the case of a priest found with child pornography.” By Associated Press on Cruxnow.com

CHURCH REFORM

Revisiting ‘Liturgiam Authenticam’: an update
“In January, I wrote in ‘Commonweal’ that Pope Francis has authorized a review and revision of the document that gives the Church its guidelines(link is external) for liturgical translations: ‘Liturgiam authenticam.’ Since then, some additional facts have come to light that should raise our expectations further. First, a list of names of the people appointed to this commission was leaked on March 8 by a blogger in Spain … The list has been confirmed by a reliable source, although it has still not been announced publically by the Vatican.” By Rita Ferrone, Commonweal

FUTURE OF THE CHURCH

Facing large decline in priest numbers, an Irish diocese preps for change
“In one Irish diocese, the number of active priests may halve in fewer than 15 years(link is external). As a result, Bishop Francis Duffy of Ardagh and Clonmacnois has aimed to prepare his flock to take on more active roles. ‘This ongoing development will impact every parish in the diocese and will bring about considerable change in how the parishes are organized and also in the way the Good News of Jesus Christ is passed on to succeeding generation,’ he said.” By Catholic News Agency

Oklahoma monks open one of first Catholic monasteries in Ireland since 1536
“An Oklahoma Catholic Benedictine community has opened what may be the first monastery to open in Ireland since 1536(link is external). The religious community in the priory has been steadily growing since 2012 and prior Dom Mark Kirby told the National Catholic Register ‘hardly a day passes when I do not receive a vocational inquiry.’” By Frances Mulraney, Irish Central

“AMORIS LAETITIA”

‘Amoris’ is much bigger than Communion debate, cardinal insists
“Pope Francis’s point man on the family said Thursday (Mar. 30) that by allowing discussion of the pontiff’s document ‘Amoris Laetitia’ to focus narrowly on Communion for the divorced and civilly remarried, the Church is playing with fire(link is external), because today the family is ‘under attack’ and needs to hear the full range of the document’s teaching.” By Ines San Martin, Cruxnow.com

Can Catholic dissent from Pope Francis’ teaching on the family? Wrong question.
“March 19 marks the one-year anniversary of the publication of ‘Amoris Laetitia(link is external),’ the apostolic exhortation promulgated by Pope Francis after the close of the latest session of the Synod of Bishops. For some, this anniversary is celebratory, a reminder of the synod’s prayerful study of the mission and vocation of the family. For others, it calls attention to what they see as the document’s dangerous ambiguities, particularly as they pertain to the pastoral care of Catholics who are divorced and civilly remarried.” By Peter Folan, S.J., America: The Jesuit Review

CELIBACY

Married Catholic priests? I am one.
“Pope Francis—ever fond of stirring the pot—has made headlines again recently with a remark during an interview with a German paper suggesting a new openness to married priests(link is external). Married priests in the Catholic Church? It’s not really new. I am one. As a former Anglican minister, I have been ordained as a Catholic priest under a special measure called the Pastoral Provision even though I have a wife and four children.” By Dwight Longenecker, Newsweek

Now is the time for married priests
“It is time for the Catholic bishops to stop hoping for an increase in vocations to the celibate priesthood(link is external) and to acknowledge that the church needs married priests to serve the people of God. We cannot have a Catholic Church without sacraments, and a priest is needed for the Eucharist, confession, and anointing. At the Last Supper, Jesus said, ‘Do this in memory of me,’ not ‘have a celibate priesthood.’” By Thomas Reese, National Catholic Reporter

VOICES

African lay woman warns hierarchy ‘don’t get complacent’
“Though a March 22-25 Rome summit on the African church featured four cardinals and several bishops, it was a lay woman from Nigeria who rang the loudest warning(link is external) bell, charging the powers that be with not getting complacent and allowing the faithful to get ‘lost in the crowd’ among ever-expanding numbers.” By Ines San Martin, Cruxnow.com

CHURCH FINANCES

Retired priest gets three-week sentence in money laundering case
“A retired Catholic priest pleaded guilty to money laundering(link is external) stemming from his involvement in an overseas scheme that defrauded women seeking companionship online. He was sentenced to time served (three weeks) because of a mental condition that impaired his judgment. The Rev. Thomas B. Fleming, 67, a resident of Dodge Park Rest Home, originally pleaded not guilty to 12 counts of money laundering. He changed his plea to guilty on one count.” By Craig Semon, Worcester Telegram & Gazette

Santa Clara Catholic priest guilty of stealing donations
“A Roman Catholic priest who once ran the Vietnamese Catholic Center for the Diocese of San Jose was convicted in federal court on March 21 of 14 counts of bank fraud for diverting parishioners’ donations(link is external) into his personal bank account. Hien Minh Nguyen, 57, was found guilty by U.S. District Judge Beth Labson Freeman of San Jose, who conducted a nonjury trial on the charges in February.” By Los Gatos Patch

Durham priest admits stealing £50,000 from church
“A Catholic priest has admitted abusing his position by fraudulently taking at least £50,000 of church money(link is external) over more than four years. Father John Charles Leo Reid could be facing a prison sentence after changing his plea to guilty at Durham Crown Court.” By ITV.com

Retired Michigan priest arrested in Grand Forks on embezzlement charges
“A Michigan priest who retired to Grand Forks is in the process of being extradited to his home state after being charged with embezzling hundreds of thousands of dollars(link is external)from his former church. Rev. David Ernest Fisher, 70, was arrested at his Grand Forks home on March 11 on an extradition order from Shiawassee County, Mich.” By Andrew Hazzard, Grand Forks Herald

CLERGY CHILD SEXUAL ABUSE

CNMI Law to help clergy abuse survivors get help, justice
“Three months after the CNMI lifted the statute of limitations on child sex abuse cases(link is external), retired Saipan bishop Tomas A. Camacho faced accusations he raped an altar boy in the 1970s. Camacho also is a former Guam priest.” By Haidee Eugenio, Pacific Daily News

Sister Maureen: It’s time to put victims first
“For decades, the hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown has covered up the sexual abuse of children while transferring errant priests from parish to parish, place to place, year after year(link is external). In this, it is not unlike other dioceses in Pennsylvania, including the Archdiocese of Philadelphia … Now, a year after the 2016 release of an equally scathing grand jury report on the Altoona-Johnstown diocese, an ‘independent oversight board’ is being created to ‘protect diocese children from sexual abuse in the church.’ Had it not been for that grand jury report, the cover-up would likely have continued as business as usual in the Altoona-Johnstown diocese as it has in many states across the country.” By Sister Maureen, The Tribune-Democrat

Breda O’Brien: Pope Francis must prioritize child safety
“Pope Francis has just completed four years of his pontificate. From the moment Jorge Bergoglio greeted Rome and the world with ‘Buona sera,’ he has been controversial(link is external). That is no bad thing. Jesus himself was controversial, to the extent that people left him in droves, unable to stomach his teachings.” By Breda O’Brien, The Irish Times

Cardinal George Pell could turn key witness against Catholic Church
“Cardinal George Pell could turn key witness against the Catholic Church(link is external) on behalf of sexual abuse victims. In an unprecedented move, the cardinal, the church’s third-most senior official, is expected to be summonsed to testify in a string of lawsuits against former Ballarat bishop Ronald Mulkearns.” By Shannon Deery, Herald Sun

The Vatican is ‘all words, no action’ on addressing child sex abuse
“When Pope Francis named two victims of clergy sexual abuse(link is external) to a new Vatican commission on the protection of minors in 2014, some observers took it as a sign that the pope was getting serious about the issue. But Marie Collins says there was still some skepticism. ‘A lot of people felt that I was just being asked [to join] the commission as a sort of token survivor,’ says Collins, who was sexually abused as a child by a Catholic priest in Ireland. ‘I wanted to be sure that the commission was sincere.’” By Matthew Bell, Public Radio International

HAWAII

Sex abuse suits against Hawaii priest persist
“The Roman Catholic Diocese of Honolulu has settled one of three civil lawsuits that allege a prominent retired Big Island priest sexually molested teenage boys(link is external) decades ago, according to the attorney for the plaintiffs in the cases. Mark Gallagher, a Kailua, Oahu, attorney said Monday (mar. 20) the settlement of the 2013 suit brought by two men known only as John Roe 6 and 7, concerns only the diocese and ‘there is no dismissal of any claims against Father George DeCosta.’” By John Burnett, Hawaii Tribune Herald, in West Hawaii Today

MISSOURI

Civil trial alleging St. Louis archbishop knew priest was dangerous to begin in Lincoln County
“Jury selection is set for Monday (Mar. 27) in a civil trial in which a Lincoln County teenager and her family have accused St. Louis Archbishop Robert Carlson of knowing a priest was a danger to children(link is external) before the cleric was charged with molesting the teen in 2012.” By Joel Currier, St. Louis Post-Dispatch

PENNSYLVANIA

Fewer priest accusers to testify at ex-official’s retrial
“A judge will allow ‘prior bad act’ testimony from perhaps only one other church-abuse victim(link is external) when a church official is retried on child endangerment charges. Monsignor William Lynn is being retried after serving nearly three years of a three- to six-year sentence in a child endangerment case.” By Associated Press

Priest retires after inconclusive Vatican review of abuse claim
“A Roman Catholic priest is retiring and will not participate in public ministry after a Vatican investigation found it could not determine whether a single allegation of past sexual abuse(link is external) by him could be proven. Bishop David Zubik granted the Rev. John P. Fitzgerald’s request for immediate retirement, the diocese said in a statement Wednesday.” By Peter Smith, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Slocum defrocked by Pope Francis
“Five years after his conviction for having an inappropriate relationship with a teenage boy(link is external), former Bradford priest Samuel Slocum has been defrocked by Pope Francis. Bishop Lawrence Persico confirmed to ‘The Era’ on Monday (Mar. 20). ‘He’s no longer ‘Father,’ he’s just Mr. Sam Slocum now.’ Reached via email on Monday, Slocum, 65, declined to comment.” By Marci Schellhammer, Bradford Era

AUSTRALIA

Police charge serving Newcastle Catholic priest with historical child sex offenses
“A Newcastle Catholic priest has been charged with historical child sex offences(link is external) on a boy between 1979 and 1980 on the Mid North Coast. The 76-year-old priest – who is still serving within the Catholic Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle – was arrested and charged at noon on Thursday (Mar. 23).” By Manning River Times

Catholic priest in court on abuse charges
“A Victorian Catholic priest facing historical child sex abuse crimes(link is external) will have his court hearing adjourned until July after it was revealed the judge set to hear the case had an indirect link to one of the victims. Father Frank De Dood, of the Salesian order, faced a plea hearing in the County Court in Melbourne on Thursday (Mar. 16), charged with six child sex abuse related crimes dating back to 1978.” By Melissa Iaria, Australian Associated Press, in Melbourne Herald Sun

Catholic church ‘failed’ Canberra parents by housing disgraced priest near schools
“The Catholic Education Office in Canberra has admitted it ‘absolutely failed parents’ over a church plan(link is external) to quietly house a disgraced priest beside two primary schools. The priest was dismissed from the ministry for behaving inappropriately towards children. In 2014, he was moved into a home for retired priests neighboring the Saints Peter and Paul Primary School and Malkara Specialist School in Garran.” By ABC News Australia

FRANCE

French Catholic bishops accused of ‘covering-up sex abuses’
“Twenty-five French bishops have been covering up scores of cases of sexual abuses by Catholic priests(link is external), French media revealed on Tuesday (Mar. 21) in a report reminiscent of the Spotlight investigation into clergy sex abuse.”  By France24.com
25 French bishops accused of covering up hundreds of sex abuse cases(link is external), By en.rfi.fr

INDIA

Another Catholic priest faces child abuse case in Kerala
“A Catholic priest from Mananthavadi diocese in Wayanad was booked for allegedly trying to sexually abuse a minor girl(link is external) in his room in the church. Two days back, the District Child Welfare Officer Sheeba Mumtas received secret information that a girl was allegedly molested by a priest in Mananthavadi. The officer acted quickly and recorded the statement of the victim. The plus-two student told the officer that Jino Mekkatt, a co-priest of a church in Choondakkara under Mananthavadi diocese, misbehaved with her after summoning her to his room in the church in September last year.” By AsianNetNews.tv

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