Archive for July, 2017

The clergy’s task is unfinished in confronting sex abuse / National Catholic Reporter

“The central question (still confronting Catholic Clergy: What caused us, members of the Catholic clergy culture, to arrive at the point where we could devise a rationale that allowed us to walk away from the incalculable suffering of the community’s children in order to protect those members of the clergy culture who caused the suffering?” (National Catholic Reporter)

The story of Marie Collins, an Irish victim of clergy sex abuse and a witness of unimpeachable integrity, is a dual tale of how far the church has come in acknowledging and handling the scandal and of how wholly and demonstrably incapable the Catholic clerical culture is of dealing with its own sin.

“Collins was one of two survivors of clergy sex abuse who were appointed in 2014 to the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, an agency created by Pope Francis. She resigned the commission in March, providing NCR with a long explanatory statement.

“Her decision to leave was not lightly taken. She had rejected the logic of some critics early on that any cooperation with church efforts was selling out to an institution that had generally ignored or re-victimized the abused for decades. She had later defended the work of the commission when its only other victim member, Peter Saunders, openly criticized the group for the slow pace of reform.

“In March, however, three years after her appointment, she wrote: ‘I have come to the point where I can no longer be sustained by hope. As a survivor, I have watched events unfold with dismay.’

“Among the primary reasons for her despair, she listed ‘lack of resources, inadequate structures around support staff, slowness of forward movement and cultural resistance.’

“Those first three are easily remedied: more money, more staff, pick up the pace.

“The last one — ‘cultural resistance’ — is the impenetrable, if invisible, shield, a kind of carapace protecting the clergy culture. It prevents the disturbing, ugly reality of what experts have termed the ‘soul murder’ of children from penetrating the deepest levels of the clerical culture. The awareness inside the encasement can expand only so far before it runs into the resistance of rigid boundaries.”

By Tom Roberts, National Catholic Reporter — Read more …

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Voice of the Faithful Focus

July 18, 2017

TOP STORIES

Cardinal Pell returns to Australia, charged with sexual offenses
“Cardinal George Pell returned on Monday (Jul. 10) to his native Australia, where he has been charged with sexual offenses(link is external), as a commission released a new trove of documents from its investigation into the Roman Catholic Church’s past response to abuse allegations in the country. Cardinal Pell, 76, one of the highest-ranking figures in the church’s global hierarchy, was met by the Australian Federal Police at Sydney’s international airport, where his flight from Singapore landed just before 6 a.m.” By Adam Baidawi, The New York Times
— Cardinal’s sex abuse charges raise questions about pope’s record(link is external)By Josephine McKenna, Religion News Service
— Prominent cardinal returns to Australia to face sex abuse charges(link is external)By Camila Domonoske, National Public Radio

Pope Francis defrocks Italian priest convicted of child sex abuse
“Pope Francis has defrocked an Italian priest who was found guilty of child sex abuse(link is external), three years after overturning predecessor Benedict XVI’s decision to do the same after allegations against the priest first came to light. Mauro Inzoli, 67, was initially defrocked in 2012 after he was first accused of abusing minors, but Francis reversed that decision in 2014 … On June 28, the priest’s diocese of Crema in northern Italy released a statement saying the pope had made a ‘definitive ruling’ that Inzoli, also known as Don Mauro, should be dismissed from clerical duties.” By Josephine McKenna, Religion News Service, in National Catholic Reporter

The Vatican’s failure in the abuse scandal
“For all of Pope Francis’ deserved acclaim in leading the Roman Catholic Church to new directions, he is failing badly on his promise to address the child abuse scandal(link is external) at the crucial level where ranking churchmen systematically protected priests who raped and molested children.” Editorial in The New York Times
— The Catholic Church and sex abuse(link is external)By Marci Hamilton, Letter to the Editor, The New York Times

More power for Catholic bishops? Not so fast
“A lot has been written about Pope Francis’s goal of making the church more democratic, with less control by the Vatican and more power to individual bishops(link is external) … However, unless the institutional church actually reaches that goal, and power truly devolves to the grassroots, giving more autonomy to Catholic bishops might make things worse, not better, at least for progressive Catholics.” By Celia Wexler, Contributor, Huffington Post

Francis replaces Cardinal Muller with deputy Ladaria as head of doctrinal congregation
“Pope Francis has decided not to renew the expiring term of Vatican doctrinal chief Cardinal Gerhard Muller(link is external), choosing instead to replace the German prelate with his deputy, a Spanish Jesuit theologian known for keeping a relatively low public profile. The pontiff has appointed Archbishop Luis Ladaria, 73, as the new prefect for the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. He had previously served as the office’s secretary.” By Joshua J. McElwee, National Catholic Reporter

ACCOUNTABILITY

Vatican money man says abuse charges are a smear campaign
“A senior Vatican cardinal charged in Australia with multiple historical sexual offenses has denied the accusations(link is external) and denounced what he called a ‘relentless character assassination.’ Cardinal George Pell, Pope Francis’s chief financial adviser and Australia’s most senior Catholic, said he would take a leave of absence as the Catholic Church’s finance tsar and would return to Australia to fight the charges. Cardinal Pell is the highest-ranking Vatican official charged in the church’s long-running sexual abuse scandal.” By Nicole Winfield and Kristen Gelineau, Scotland Sunday Herald
— Vatican No. 3 charged with sexual abuse by Australian court,(link is external) By Elliot Hannon, Slate
— Senior Catholic Church officials have rarely faced charges in the sexual abuse of children. Here are a few who did(link is external)By Alexandra Zavis, Los Angeles Times
— Cardinal George Pell charged: What a mess?(link is external) By David Armstrong, LaCroix
— Vatican cardinal charged with ‘historic sexual offenses’ in Australia(link is external)By Laurel Wamsley, National Public Radio

Secrecy over clergy abuse standards causes confusion in India
“Three months after India’s theologians and Catholic religious pressed a congress of bishops to act aggressively against a wave of sex abuse cases involving priests(link is external), no official response has come. But top church leaders told National Catholic Reporter in exclusive interviews that bishops in India are following Vatican-approved guidelines for handling clergy abuse cases. The guidelines took effect in 2015 but have not been shared beyond bishops and religious superiors to protect the policy from being misused, an officer in the bishops’ conference told NCR.” By Jose Kevi, National Catholic Reporter

POPE FRANCIS

Francis makes clear his mission as pope is far from ended
Pope Francis made it clear(link is external) this morning (Jun. 27) that he believes his mission as successor to St. Peter and leader of the Catholic world is far from over. The message can be read as an answer to those who hope his pontificate may end soon. He said that his mission entails being able ‘to dream’ and to share this dream and experience of life with young people today so that they may live prophetic lives.” By Gerard O’Connell, America: The Jesuit Review

CARDINALS

Marie Collins: Cardinal Pell’s leave from Vatican service comes ‘far too late’
“A former member of Pope Francis’ commission on clergy sexual abuse has responded to news that Australian police are pursuing charges against Vatican financial chief Cardinal George Pell over allegations of historic sexual abuse against minors(link is external). Marie Collins, an Irish clergy abuse survivor, said she will not pre-judge Pell’s guilt or innocence regarding the charges against him. But she said Francis should not have appointed the cardinal the prefect of the new Secretariat of the Economy in 2014.” By Joshua J. McElwee, National Catholic Reporter

Cardinal Pell’s situation may be unique, but there are plenty of parallels
“Although Cardinal George Pell of Australia is the first cardinal and Vatican official to face criminal charges related to sexual abuse(link is external), he’s hardly the first Catholic bishop to be prosecuted on those grounds, and also not the first Vatican official to face a criminal indictment. A rundown of several such recent cases allows one to compare and contrast with the Pell situation, including the fact he’s not playing the immunity card.” By Ines San Martin, Cruxnow.com

Francis tells new cardinals to look at reality facing today’s Catholics
“Pope Francis has told the world’s Catholic cardinals not to seek privilege(link is external) but to look at the situations Catholics in their care are facing today and to serve them as brothers and sisters. Speaking during a formal ceremony in St. Peter’s Basilica marking the creation of five new cardinals, the pope told the prelates that God is calling them ‘to look at reality, not to let yourselves be distracted by other interests or prospects.’” By Joshua J. McElwee, National Catholic Reporter
— Francis names five new cardinals, including associate of Oscar Romero(link is external)By Joshua J. McElwee, National Catholic Reporter

BISHOPS

Pope names Bishop Nelson J. Perez as new leader of Cleveland diocese
“Bishop-designate Nelson J. Perez, born in Miami but most recently serving in New York state, has been named the new leader of the Cleveland Catholic Diocese(link is external). Pope Francis’ decree was made public this morning (Jul. 11), and the new bishop will be introduced at a 9 a.m. news conference.” By Karen Farkas, Cleveland.com

Pope Francis names Atlanta auxiliary bishop to head Diocese of Raleigh
“Pope Francis has named Atlanta Auxiliary Bishop Luis R. Zarama to head the Diocese of Raleigh(link is external), North Carolina. He succeeds Bishop Michael F. Burbidge, who last October was named to head the Diocese of Arlington, Virginia, where he was installed Dec. 6. Zarama, 58, has been an Atlanta auxiliary bishop since 2009. A native of Colombia, he was ordained a priest for the Archdiocese of Atlanta in 1993.” By Catholic News Service in National Catholic Reporter

Pope Francis accepts Scola’s resignation, appoints native son Delpini to Milan
“Pope Francis has accepted the resignation of Cardinal Angelo Scola as archbishop of Milan and appointed Bishop Mario Delpini(link is external), 66, a man of spartan habits who rides a bicycle and lives with elderly priests, as his successor. The Vatican made the announcement on July 7, confirming rumors that had been circulating in the Italian media in recent days.” By Gerard O’Connell, America: The Jesuit Review

Local priest named fifth bishop of Allentown, Pennsylvania
“On Tuesday (Jun. 27) the Vatican announced Pope Francis’s pick of Monsignor Alfred A. Schlert to be the next bishop of the Diocese of Allentown(link is external) in Pennsylvania, himself born and raised in the diocese … It is the first time a priest of the diocese has been named its bishop.” By Hannah Brockhaus, Cruxnow.com

PRIESTS

Crisis in Irish priesthood revealed at meetings of clergy
“Eight priests have taken their own lives in the past 10 to 15 years in Ireland, a meeting of the Association of Catholic Priests(link is external) (ACP) in Cavan has been told. At another such meeting in Co Limerick, there was a call for the setting up of a national confidential priests’ helpline. Minutes of the latter meeting in Caherconlish quote one attendee as saying: ‘Our morale is affected because we are on a sinking ship. When will the ‘counter-reformation’ take place? We’re like an All-Ireland team without a goalie. We need a national confidential priests’ helpline. We’re slow to look for help.’” By Patsy McGarry, The Irish Times

FUTURE OF THE CHURCH

Four-day convocation in Orlando called ‘a journey’ for U.S. church
“Theirs was a monumental responsibility(link is external): shepherding lay leaders, cardinals, archbishops, bishops, religious, deacons, musicians, event staff and a legion of volunteers at the historic ‘Convocation of Catholic Leaders: The Joy of the Gospel in America’ July 1–4 in Orlando.” By Laura Dodson, Catholic News Service
— Lofty rhetoric aside, why the U.S. bishops’ ‘Convocation’ mattered(link is external)By John L. Allen, Jr., Cruxnow.com

VATICAN

Top theologian is out in Pope Francis’ move to be more inclusive
“Pope Francis took the decision to replace Cardinal Gerhard Ludwig Muller(link is external) , a German, with Jesuit Luis Ladaria Ferrer, a Spaniard, as the prefect of Congregation for Doctrine of the Faith. The outgoing chief theologian was at odds with the pope as the latter tried to open the Catholic church to ‘imperfect’ Catholics like divorced ones.” By Kelly Frazier, World Religion News
— Was Muller’s exit really a ‘night of the long knives’ move?(link is external) By John L. Allen, Jr., Cruxnow.com

WOMEN IN THE CHURCH

New Swedish cardinal suggests high-level advisory group of women
“One of the five prelates Pope Francis just made a new cardinal of the Catholic Church has suggested the pope consider creating a special advisory body of women akin to the College of Cardinals(link is external) to offer more opportunity for women’s leadership in the church. Stockholm Cardinal Anders Arborelius, whom Francis made Sweden’s first cardinal in a consistory Wednesday, June 28, said he thinks ‘it’s very important to find a broader way of involving women at various levels in the church.’” By Joshua J. McElwee, National Catholic Reporter

MARRIED PRIESTS

Editorial: Time to welcome married priests
“… It’s time the Vatican considered what other Christian denominations have long accepted: the ability of clergy to marry(link is external). While the male-only priesthood is Catholic doctrine and cannot be reversed by papal decree, clerical celibacy is only a discipline of the church. Were he so inclined, Francis could begin ordaining married priests tomorrow …” Editorial in the Richmond Times-Dispatch

Leader of largest U.S. Catholic church advocates for married priests
“The leader of the largest Catholic church in the U.S. said he would support allowing married men to become priests(link is external), among other church reforms. Monsignor John McSweeney said in an interview with the Charlotte Observer Friday (Jul. 7) about his upcoming retirement that he would support a reversal of the church’s celibacy requirement for priests.” By Joshua Gill, The Daily Caller

The pluses and minuses of married priests
“Ten or 12 years ago, I wrote a feature story for The Kansas City Star about a married Catholic priest(link is external) in southeast Kansas. He was, as no doubt you’ve already guessed, a convert from the Episcopal Church, which he had served as a priest. He was also conflicted. He loved his wife and loved the Catholic Church. He said he felt married to both, but that divided loyalty wasn’t easy. Indeed, he told me that if he had been a Catholic official with the authority to approve his request to convert to Catholicism and become a priest, he might well have said no.” By Bill Tammeus, National Catholic Reporter

VOICES

Why the Catholic Church must continue soul-searching
“The news that a high-ranking Vatican official has been charged with sexual abuse is a reminder that the church’s sex abuse crisis is not over(link is external) — and that it has potential to affect the entire church, across so-called liberal or conservative lines, even to the top echelons of the church hierarchy. Cardinal George Pell, former archbishop of Sydney and Melbourne and current head of the Vatican’s Secretariat for the Economy, denied the allegations that will require him to return to Australia from Rome to face multiple charges of sexual assault.” By Heidi Schlumpf, CNN

Lay groups lament Paprocki’s decree denying same-sex Eucharist
“Although response from Catholic clergy has been muted in the wake of Springfield, Illinois, Bishop Thomas Paprocki’s June 12 decree that prohibits Catholics in ‘same-sex marriage’ from receiving Communion(link is external), lay organizations have been vocal about their disdain for the decree. The decree bars Catholics in same-sex marriages from receiving Communion as well as from receiving “ecclesiastical funeral rites,” unless they show signs of repentance before death.” By Kristen Whitney Daniels, National Catholic Reporter

Vatican II being unleashed through Pope Francis
“People are free to raise questions about certain teachings(link is external) but should remember Peter is the rock of the Catholic faith, according to the Archbishop of Washington, Cardinal Donald Wuerl. Wuerl was in Orlando for the July 1-4 ‘Convocation of Catholic Leaders,’ and spoke with Crux about the impact of the pontificate of Pope Francis. ‘We are 50 years after the [Second Vatican] Council. What’s happening is all that Pentecostal energy that the Council unleashed is now, with this Holy Father, being felt,’ Wuerl said.” By John L. Allen, Jr., and Ines San Martin

U.S. priests’ association wants to focus on formation
“‘All means all — no exceptions, no small print. God loves all of us, whatever our differences,’ Fr. Bryan Massingale said as he recalled the anniversary of the Orlando massacre of LGBT people in the Pulse nightclub a year ago. Amid sustained applause from 170 members of the Association of U.S. Catholic Priests(link is external), the Fordham University theology professor challenged the sixth annual assembly gathered in Atlanta, June 19-22, to retrieve a crucial insight of Martin Luther King Jr. — the need to ‘redeem the soul.’” By Jeannine Gramick, National Catholic Reporter

CHURCH FINANCES

Millions missing from Catholic church near Lansing
“An audit so far has found that nearly $5 million is missing from a Roman Catholic church(link is external) near Lansing. The disclosure was made Friday (Jul. 7) during a court hearing for the Rev. Jonathan Wehrle, who is charged with embezzling $100,000 or more from St. Martha Church in Okemos. Wehrle’s attorney, Lawrence Nolan, says $5 million is a ‘new high-water mark.’” By ClickOnDetroit.com
— Alleged embezzlement by Lansing priest approaches $5 million(link is external)By Dan Morris-Young, National Catholic Reporter

Abuse charges against Pell not good news for Vatican financial reform
“With criminal charges of sexual abuse having been filed against Cardinal George Pell in his home country of Australia, many questions will be asked, most about the accusations and Pell’s defense. From a Vatican point of view, however, a key question is what all this means for the prospects of financial reform(link is external), and the best answer probably is, ‘Nothing good.’” By John L. Allen, Cruxnow.com

STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS REFORM

Survivors of non-recent abuse in Scotland can now bring civil claims
“The three-year time limit on cases of childhood abuse has been lifted(link is external) by Scottish Parliament. This is a monumental step forward for survivors of abuse who previously may not have been able to bring civil claims for damages. The time bar has been removed by the Limitation (Childhood Abuse) Bill, which was unanimously approved when MSPs voted.” By Lexicology.com

The silence of children (locked away in secret archives of the Archdiocese of New York City)
“New York lawmakers last week (Jun. 26) closed their 2017 session in ‘legislative hell,’ as one Senator called it, without resolving a number of important issues, including the Child Victims Act, which would reform New York’s antiquated child sex abuse statutes of limitations(link is external) (SOLs). It would extend the civil and criminal SOLs, revive expired civil SOLs for one year, and eliminate the ‘notice of claim’ requirement that has hobbled public school victims’ access to justice.” By Marcia A. Hamilton, Verdict.justia.com

CLERGY CHILD SEXUAL ABUSE

Pope Francis’ toleration of sexually abusive clergy leaves a stain
“Pope Francis, who pledged a policy of “zero tolerance” for sexually abusive clergy in the Catholic Church, has turned out to be all too tolerant(link is external). On Thursday (Jun. 29), Australian police brought criminal charges against Cardinal George Pell, a top Vatican official and kitchen- cabinet adviser to the pope, for multiple alleged incidents of sexual assault. The charges against Cardinal Pell, the Vatican’s finance chief and the pope’s hand-picked agent of administrative reform, shook the Holy See, notwithstanding long-standing allegations that he ignored, dismissed and excused cases of sexual misconduct during his pre-Vatican years as a priest and church official in Australia.” Editorial in The Washington Post

In fighting abuse by members of Catholic Church clergy, victim sees resistance to change
“Has the Catholic Church made enough progress in fighting abuse by its priests(link is external)? That question has renewed urgency after George Pell became the highest-ranking member of the clergy to be formally charged. Cardinal Pell of Australia is a close adviser to the pope. He’s been charged with sexual assault … Joining us to talk about the case from Dublin and the broader questions it raises is Marie Collins. She was until recently on a papal commission dealing with the sexual abuse of children by clergy.” By Lulu Garcia-Navarro, National Public Radio

Editorial: On abuse, church has changed, but not enough
“… this is not 1985, when the U.S bishops’ conference and the Vatican could bury detailed reports on the abuse of minors(link is external) and cover-up in Lafayette, Louisiana, and ignore advice from a priest, a lawyer and psychiatrist on how to proceed in transparency and justice. The U.S. bishops would go blithely on for another decade before some individual dioceses would begin to implement policies to handle abusive priests.” By National Catholic Reporter Editorial Staff

Timeline: A look at the Catholic Church’s sex abuse
“For more than three decades, the Catholic Church has been rocked by sex abuse scandals spanning the globe(link is external). And for decades, the church has been accused of protecting itself rather than the victims of child sexual abuse. Here are some major scandals and revelations involving the Catholic Church and allegations of abuse.” By Madison Park, CNN

GEORGIA

Molestation claims resurface against former DeKalb priest
“The allegations against Father Stanley Idziak(link is external) never really went away. Even as they receded into memory for most as a dark part of DeKalb County history, the boys who say he molested them still carried the weight of his sins.” By Joshua Sharpe, Atlanta Journal-Constitution

ILLINOIS

Priest who abused child still working with kids
“The Claretians Roman Catholic order has settled a lawsuit from a man sexually abused as a 6-year-old(link is external) by a teenager who later became a prominent priest in Chicago, confirming in the settlement obtained by The Associated Press that the longtime cleric recently left the priesthood. But Bruce Wellems, 60, still works as executive director of a non-profit that offers youth mentoring, alternative schooling and other programs for children, according to a staff list at the Peace and Education Coalition. Its head office is also located in the same southwest side Chicago church where he served as priest for two decades.” By Michael Tarm, Associated Press

Man says Chicago Archdiocese, Catholic bishop responsible for priest’s sex abuse
“An individual is suing The Archdiocese of Chicago and The Catholic Bishop of Chicago, alleging battery and sexual abuse by a member of the clergy(link is external). An unnamed man filed a complaint on June 15 in Cook County Circuit Court against the defendants alleging defrocked Catholic priest Daniel McCormack sexually abused the plaintiff while he was still a practicing member of the clergy in Chicago.” By Louie Torres, Cook County Record

KENTUCKY

Louisville priest now faces nine years in prison for sexual abuse
“A Catholic priest is facing an additional two years in prison after a sentencing hearing in Meade County Thursday (Jun. 29) for sexually abusing a boy(link is external) at a summer camp in the 1970s. Father Joseph Hemmerle, 74, who was serving seven years for the sexual abuse of another victim, was sentenced to an additional two years in prison as well as eight years of probation.” By Thomas Novelly, The Courier-Journal

MARYLAND

Netflix’s ‘Keepers’ prompts call for archdiocese to release priest’s files
“The release of ‘The Keepers,’ a Netflix documentary series examining the unsolved death of a Catholic nun and abuse at then-Archbishop Keough High School(link is external), has sparked calls for the Archdiocese of Baltimore to release files on the priest at the center of the story. An online petition on change.org has more than 11,000 signatures urging church officials to make public its files on A. Joseph Maskell, who died in 2001.” By Alison Knezevich, The Baltimore Sun

NEW JERSEY

Man claims monk sexually abused him more than 100 times as a kid
“A New Jersey man who attended the now-shuttered St. Elizabeth of Hungary School more than four decades ago has anonymously stepped forward and accused a Benedictine monk of abusing him on more than 100 occasions(link is external) as a teenager. In a lawsuit filed Friday (Jul. 7) morning, a plaintiff identified as John Doe III alleges he was sexually abused on numerous occasions by the Rev. Timothy Brennan between 1968 and 1971 while a student at St. Elizabeth’s School.” By Justin Zaremba, NJ Advance Media on nj.com

PENNSYLVANIA

Diocese places priest on leave for alleged misconduct involving minor in mid-1980s
“A priest in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown was placed on leave from public ministry(link is external) Wednesday (Jul. 5). Rev. Mark L. Bartchak, bishop of the diocese, said in a release that Rev. Anthony J. Petracca has been placed on leave from public ministry.” By Ron Musselman, WJAC-TV

AUSTRALIA

Laws introduced to help prevent child abuse
“New laws have been introduced in Victoria to help protect children from abuse(link is external), holding religious, childcare, government and community organizations to account and modernizing child pornography laws. The Wrongs Amendment (Organizational Child Abuse) Act 2017 came into force on Saturday (Jul. 1) with new duty-of-care requirements for organizations that care for or have authority over children.” By SkyNews.com.au

The case of Cardinal Pell raises hope of reform among Australian victims of clerical abuse
“The Catholic Church, long damaged by sex abuse scandals(link is external), is facing a fresh crisis following the laying of charges of child sex abuse against one of its most senior clerics, the Australian cardinal George Pell. The 76-year-old Pell, who as the Church’s treasurer is the most senior Vatican figure to be charged with sexual abuse, returned home to Australia from the Vatican early Monday (Jul. 10), where he was met at Sydney airport by police. He is due in a Melbourne magistrate’s court on July 26 for the hearing of charges that he has strenuously denied.” By Sharon Verghis, Time

Catholic priest’s alleged inappropriate conduct kept hidden from school nearby his residence for ‘privacy reasons’
“The Catholic Church decided not to tell a Canberra primary school a priest living next door had been accused of inappropriate conduct with children(link is external) because it was concerned about his privacy, an independent report has found. The historical allegations involve two girls, and include the priest putting his arms around an 11 or 12-year-old from behind and nibbling her ear when they were alone in a Tumut church in the Riverina.” By Jesse Dorsett, ABC News Australia

Catholic boys school in Ballarat apologizes to victims of child sex abuse
“A survivor of clergy child sexual abuse(link is external) has called on Catholic institutions in Melbourne to take the lead of a Ballarat school, after it offered the first public apology to its abuse victims. St Patrick’s College is one of Ballarat’s most enduring Catholic institutions. Some students have graduated to become priests, archbishops and even a cardinal.” By Charlotte King, ABC News Australia

CANADA

Catholic Church to fingerprint priests, other workers
“Catholic priests and church workers in Quebec will have to give their digital fingerprints in order to work with minors, the elderly and the sick by 2020, according to several news outlets. This new rule is part of larger pilot project initiated by the Montreal Catholic Church in the fall of 2016. It aims to protect anyone considered to be at-risk or vulnerable(link is external). The 10-part process includes obligatory background checks on all personnel and having more than one adult present with minors.” By Montreal Gazette

GUAM

Vatican judges to deliberate
“A panel of Vatican judges will soon begin deliberating the fate of suspended Archbishop Anthony Apuron, who is facing accusations of child sex abuse(link is external) when he was a Guam priest decades ago. Apuron’s ongoing canonical trial in the Vatican is in its penultimate phase, Coadjutor Archbishop Michael Byrnes said during a press conference yesterday (Jul. 6).” By Neil Pang, The Guam Daily Post
— Guam Catholic look to Vatican, court process for closure,(link is external) Editorial in the Guam Daily Post

Stop fighting accusers in civil courts
“The world’s largest group of clergy sex abuse survivors(link is external) said Thursday (Jul. 6) the only way the Archdiocese of Agana can now make amends is to stop fighting accusers in the civil courts.” By Haidee Eugenio, Pacific Daily News

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Culture of silence abetted abuse of at least 547 German choir boys, inquiry finds / The New York Times

“‘Many described this time as the darkest period of their lives, dominated by violence, fear and helplessness,’ Mr. (Ulrich) Weber said (attorney leading independent inquiry).” (The New York Times)

For decades, a ‘culture of silence’ pervaded a Catholic music school where the brother of a future pope directed a renowned boys’ choir, contributing to an environment in which at least 547 children were abused, a lawyer who carried out an investigation of the mistreatment said on Tuesday (Jul. 18).

“The estimate of the number of children abused was far greater than a previous figure, 231, that the lawyer gave last year.

“The choir — the Regensburg Domspatzen, literally the Cathedral Sparrows — dates to the 10th century and continues to perform at Sunday Mass in Regensburg’s 16th-century Gothic cathedral. The choir’s music director from 1964 to 1994 was the Rev. Georg Ratzinger, whose younger brother, Joseph Ratzinger, reigned as Pope Benedict XVI from 2005 to 2013.”

By Melissa Eddy, The New York Times — Read more …

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Editorial: On abuse, church has changed, but not enough / National Catholic Reporter

What continues to thwart the work of the church in finally putting this scandal behind us is that the hierarchy has yet to undertake the deep and likely painful examination of the role the all-male clerical culture of the church has played in this scandal. At its core, this scandal is not about sex, it is about how power and authority are wielded in the church. Until that changes, little else will.”

By National Catholic Reporter Editorial Staff — Read more …

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Secrecy over clergy abuse standards causes confusion in India / National Catholic Reporter

“Despite Pope Francis’ call for ‘zero tolerance’ by the church in handling cases of clergy abuse against minors, change has not been swift worldwide. ” (National Catholic Reporter)

Three months after India’s theologians and Catholic religious pressed a congress of bishops to act aggressively against a wave of sex abuse cases involving priests, no official response has come.

“But top church leaders told National Catholic Reporter in exclusive interviews that bishops in India are following Vatican-approved guidelines for handling clergy abuse cases. The guidelines took effect in 2015 but have not been shared beyond bishops and religious superiors to protect the policy from being misused, an officer in the bishops’ conference told NCR.

“The March 22 letter, signed by 127 Catholic religious, theologians and feminists, was sent to Cardinal Baselios Cleemis, president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India, with copies to heads of India’s three ritual churches.”

By Jose Kevi, National Catholic Reporter — Read more …

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Cardinal’s sex abuse charges raise questions about pope’s record / Religion News Service

“But (Robert) Mickens said Francis has never made the church’s sexual abuse crisis a priority of his administration.” (Religion News Service)

As the Vatican reeled from news that one of its top officials was taking a leave to fight historical sex abuse charges in Australia, the spotlight quickly turned to Pope Francis, with his critics slamming him for failing to do enough to tackle the vexing issue.

“Cardinal George Pell, the most senior figure in church history to face child sex abuse charges, is the Vatican’s financial czar and a trusted adviser to the pope.

“Pell, 76, is facing ‘multiple charges in respect of historic sexual offences,’ said police in the Australian state of Victoria.”

By Josephine McKenna, Religion News Service — Read more …

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