Voice of the Faithful “Focus” News Roundup


TOP STORIES

‘Catastrophic institutional failure’ can be fixed
“The Australian Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse(link is external) spent five years interviewing over 8,000 survivors, their abusers and personnel from institutions that had covered up the abuse. The Commission found that 61.8 percent of all survivors within religious institutions had been under the care of the Catholic Church. The Commission’s 17 volume Final Report, released on Dec. 15, 2017, made hundreds of recommendations for change in structures, practices and internal laws of institutions.” By Kieran Tapsell, National Catholic Reporter
— 15 recommendations from the royal commission into child sexual abuse that you should know about(link is external)By ABC News Australia

Clergy abuse database releases new names in Chile
“The leading Catholic clergy sexual abuse tracking website has identified nearly 80 priests in Chile that have been publicly accused of sexually abusing minors(link is external), releasing their names online just days before Pope Francis is to visit the country. BishopAccountability.org calls the list only a sampling of the number of Chilean priests who have likely committed abuse, saying that unlike in the U.S., the church in Chile has yet to face substantial outside investigation into its handling of sexual misconduct.” By Joshua J. McElwee, National Catholic Reporter
— Publicly accused priests, brothers, sisters, and deacons in Chile(link is external)By BishopAccountability.org

‘The hurt is still there’: clergy abuse survivors, others react to Cardinal Law’s death
“Reaction to the death of Cardinal Bernard Law(link is external), the man who came to be the face of the sex abuse scandal in the Catholic Church, has been emotional, particularly for survivors of clergy abuse. Law, who led the Boston archdiocese for 19 years before he stepped down in disgrace over the scandal, died in Rome early Wednesday. He was 86.” By Deborah Becker, WBUR-FM

German church accused of failing to make finances transparent
“The German Church has been accused of failing to make church finances transparent(link is external) as the German bishops’ conference had promised it would in 2014 after Bishop Franz-Peter Tebartz-van Elst — since referred to as the Bishop of Bling — was suspended by the Vatican for spending more than 31m euros (£26m) on renovating his bishop’s palace. ‘We feel and understand the faithful’s desire to be informed about the dioceses’ assets and about how the money is being spent,’ the German bishops’ conference declared at the time and promised that each diocese would publish its balance sheets by the end of 2016.” By Christa Pongratz-Lippitt, The Tablet

Top five under-appreciated Vatican stories of 2017
“When there’s a surging river of news streaming down the line every day, it’s often tough to separate the important from the ephemeral. Herewith, then, my countdown of the Top Five Under-Appreciated Vatican Stories(link is external) from the last twelve months, meaning matters whose lasting significance arguably hasn’t yet been fully digested.” By John L. Allen, Jr., Cruxnow.com
— What’s coming up in the life of the U.S. church in 2018(link is external)By Michael Sean Winters, National Catholic Reporter
— 2017 in Review(link is external)By National Catholic Reporter

ACCOUNTABILITY

The Editors: Pope Francis needs to restore trust in response to sex abuse crisis
“On Dec. 21, Pope Francis spent the morning addressing members of the Roman Curia. He focused on the need to reform the Curia, as well as the Curia’s relationship to the world outside the Vatican. That relationship must be characterized, he said, by a spirit of service. As the cardinal (Bernard Law) was laid to rest, the church waits for Pope Francis to officially renew the mandate of the Pontifical Commission(link is external) for the Protection of Minors, which had been allowed to expire on Dec.17. The official renewal is expected soon, with the membership of the commission to be announced in the new year.” By the Editors at America: The Jesuit Review
— Letting abuse commission lapse, Vatican sends disappointing message(link is external)Editorial by National Catholic Reporter

Church is urged to do more on clergy abuse since Cardinal Law’s resignation
“In the 15 years since Cardinal Bernard F. Law resigned in disgrace(link is external), the Catholic Church has removed hundreds of American priests accused of preying on children, and adopted new policies and training designed to prevent abuse. But many abuse survivors and activists say reforms have been made slowly, inconsistently, and under pressure, and the church has not fully reckoned with the crisis. In a troubling sign for victims, a Vatican commission on sexual abuse, headed by Cardinal Sean P. O’Malley, effectively lapsed this week, when its members’ terms expired.” By Michael Levenson, The Boston Globe

After the royal commission, a new generation of Catholic priests looks to the future
“A new generation of Catholic priests(link is external) is promising to make the church more open, engaging and modern. Last month (December 2017), the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse delivered damning findings about the Catholic Church. The commission’s final report recommended the Church break with centuries of tradition, tossing out the sanctity of the confessional and making celibacy for priests voluntary. There has been reluctance from senior leadership, but a new wave of priests-in-training believe the priesthood must evolve.” By Isabella Higgins, ABC News Australia

POPE FRANCIS

Ahead of trip, pope orders takeover of Catholic group in Peru
“Pope Francis has ordered the Vatican takeover of an elite Catholic society in Peru(link is external)whose founder is accused of sexually and physically abusing children and former members of the group. The move, announced by the Vatican on Wednesday (Jan. 10), is the latest in a saga that has damaged the reputation of the Catholic Church in Peru and comes a week before Francis is set to make his first visit as pope to that country and Chile.” By Philip Pullella, Reuters

How to make the world a better place in 2018, according to Pope Francis
“Pope Francis has some surprising things to say about the state of the world. On Monday (Jan. 8), Pope Francis delivered his annual address to his diplomatic corps(link is external), ambassadors from 183 nations to the Holy See. The speech outlined a bold vision for a peaceful, free and just world. The pontiff touched on themes that have been in the headlines, like the Syrian war and the Rohingya refugee crisis. But he also drilled down on development topics like child labor, global inequality and the threat of technological advances that may put millions of people, especially the poorest, out of work.” By Malaka Gharib, National Public Radio

Conservative Catholic dissidents attack Popes Francis and Benedict
Conservative Catholic dissidents(link is external), who have been attacking Pope Francis, showed their true colors recently by attacking retired Pope Benedict XVI, calling his writings ‘subversive’ and ‘modernist.’ That’s right, they think Benedict is a heretic. In his new book, ‘Al Cuore di Ratzinger, Al Cuore del Mondo,’ the Italian philosopher Enrico Maria Radaelli goes after Joseph Ratzinger’s ‘Introduction to Christianity,’ one of Pope Benedict’s most popular books. Radaelli accuses him of embracing modern subjectivism by dabbling in Kant’s transcendentalism and Hegel’s ‘dialectical idealism.’” By Thomas Reese, National Catholic Reporter

Pope Francis: theologians should be ‘faithful and anchored’ to teachings of Vatican II
“In an increasingly complex world of unprecedented scientific and technological challenges, theologians must communicate what is essential(link is external) about life and help Christians proclaim God’s merciful, saving grace, Pope Francis told a group of Italian theologians. The theologians’ task requires being ‘faithful and anchored’ to the teachings of the Second Vatican Council and continuing the council’s focus on the church ‘letting itself be enriched by the perennial newness of Christ’s Gospel,’ he said.” By Carol Glatz, Catholic News Service, in America: The Jesuit Review

Pope Francis says reforming Vatican as hard as cleaning Sphinx with toothbrush
“Pope Francis issued a stinging new critique of the Vatican’s top administration(link is external) on Thursday (Dec. 21), saying ‘traitors’ stood in the way of his reforms and made any change as hard as cleaning Egypt’s Sphinx ‘with a toothbrush.’ For the fourth year running, Francis used his annual Christmas greetings to the Roman Catholic Church’s central bureaucracy, or Curia, to lecture the assembled cardinals, bishops and other department heads on the need for change.” By The Telegraph
— Pope’s ferocity with Roman Curia straight out of Jesuit playbook(link is external), By Austen Ivereigh, Cruxnow.com
— Pope upbraids Vatican bureaucracy: serve the world, not ‘degraded logic of small cliques(link is external),’ By Joshua J. McElwee, National Catholic Reporter

CARDINALS

Drawing lessons from the life of Cardinal Bernard Law
“For those trying to understand the legacy of Cardinal Bernard Law, Donna B. Doucette, executive director of Voice of the Faithful(link is external), may offer the most useful insight. Doucette’s organization grew out of the revelations of clergy sexually abusing children and its cover up that forced Law out of Boston in 2002, ripped the lid off a simmering cauldron of scandal, and made the sexual exploitation of children by clergy an issue of global concern. She says Catholics should learn three basic lessons from Law’s legacy: ‘absolute power corrupts absolutely,’ ‘secrets destroy’ and, for those interested in reforming church structures, ‘trust but verify.’” By National Catholic Reporter Staff
— Spotlight reporter recalls the real heart of the church scandal, the victims(link is external)By Mike Rezendes, The Boston Globe
— Since 2002, U.S. church has had strict protocols in place to address abuse(link is external)By Julie Asher, The Pilot
— Fallen kings: how Cardinal Law’s reign cemented the Church’s fading power(link is external)By Tovia Smith, National Public Radio
— Death of disgraced Cardinal Law reveals a truth we’d rather ignore about the Catholic Church(link is external)By Melinda Henneberger, The Kansas City Star
— Cardinal Law’s overlooked legacy: a new anti-clericalism in America’s Catholic heartland,(link is external) By Catholic Herald
— The death of Cardinal Bernard Law and the legacy of clergy sex abuse(link is external)By James Carroll, The New Yorker
— The obituary Bernard Law deserves, by Eileen McNamara(link is external)WBUR-FM
— The scandal and tragedy of Cardinal Law(link is external)By Philip Lawler, First Things, The Institute on Religion and Public Life
— Cardinal Law’s legacy: a stain of scandal on the church(link is external)By Rachel Zoll, Associated Press
— Cardinal Law and the U.S.-Rome sex abuse divide(link is external)By Jason Horowitz, The New York Times
— A judgment Cardinal Law cannot avoid,(link is external) By Elizabeth Williamson, The New York Times

MASS TRANSLATIONS

Catholic bishops have the ‘right’ to re-examine liturgy, say U.S. bishops
“Catholic bishops have the right to re-examine translations of the Roman Missal(link is external) that have already been approved, according to the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. However, ‘prudential’ questions should be asked about the need to do that, and ‘whether it would be worth the time and expense’ such a project would require, according to the latest newsletter from the U.S. bishops’ committee on divine worship.” By Ruth Gledhil, The Tablet
— How we got the Mass translation we have(link is external)By Daniel Horan, America: The Jesuit Review

WOMEN DEACONS

Seeing is believing: why Catholics need women deacons
“As a child, I had a fairly good idea of what God looked like. When I prayed, I imagined God in the form of Msgr. McMahon, the pastor of my parish. Certainly the way people treated him seemed like he must be a step away from divinity. As a result, I conjured an image for God as an older male, balding, wearing a white alb(link is external), and maybe even speaking an Irish brogue. I knew God wasn’t Msgr. McMahon, but being surrounded by male-only church officials and male-only pronouns for the divine, the image of a masculine God was cemented for the first 20 years of my life. It took many more years to pry that male-only template out of my heart. But it still slips back from time to time.” By Nicole Sotelo, National Catholic Reporter

WOMEN IN THE CHURCH

Survey of U.S. Catholics shows refreshed enthusiasm among women
Women have been the backbone of the Catholic Church(link is external) in the U.S. and other Western countries since at least the beginning of the 20th century. Despite disagreeing with various elements of church teaching, they have long maintained a higher degree of participation than men have in the church’s sacramental and communal life, and have also been instrumental in keeping men within the fold.” By Michele Dillon, National Catholic Reporter

Discovering my priesthood as a Catholic woman in a Protestant seminary
“‘What are you, a deacon?’ the man asks from his bed. We are about 20 minutes into a pastoral visit. His parish deacon has been visiting regularly since he got sick. Now I have entered this man’s life as a hospice chaplain(link is external), and he does not quite know what to make of me. It is not the first time I have been asked the question. Sometimes they ask if I am a priest or a sister or if they should call me ‘Reverend.’ Their questions bring a smile to my face, but they also take me back to a time when I did not know what I wanted the answer to be.” By Nancy Small, America: The Jesuit Review

A woman now leads the Vatican museums. And she’s shaking things up.
“Vatican City has been governed by men since it was established as an independent state in 1929. A year ago, however, a woman joined the upper ranks(link is external): Barbara Jatta, the first female director of the Vatican Museums. In the 12 months since her appointment, Ms. Jatta has put her stamp on the role, resisting some of her predecessor’s initiatives and forging her own path.” By Farah Nayeri, The New York Times

FUTURE OF THE CHURCH

The church cannot succumb to hurry sickness
“What’s a bishop to do? There are two broad choices: keep the parish open or close it. But, for too many bishops, the only way to keep a parish open is to place a pastor in it. No pastor, no parish. Simple mathematics makes the decision. That is going too fast. Several U.S. dioceses have decided that Canon 517.2 is not such a bad thing. Canon 517.2? That is the part of the Code of Canon Law that allows a bishop to appoint a non-resident canonical pastor(link is external) for a parish managed by someone else.” By Phyllis Zagano, National Catholic Reporter

Catholic leadership conference in Chicago aims to ‘inspire and equip’
“Thousands of Catholic leaders from all walks of life will ring in the new year at the Fellowship of Catholic University Students (FOCUS) SLS Leadership Conference(link is external), which will offer five days of fellowship and evangelical instruction in the heart of Chicago. ‘Sometimes it can feel lonely trying to reach those in the world who seem too busy and distracted to realize God’s love for them,’ said Paul DeBuff, a previous conference attendee.” By Catholic News Agency

“AMORIS LAETITIA”

Muller blames his ouster on anti-Roman, Argentine  clique close to Pope
“Cardinal Gerhard Müller has blamed a group of anti-Roman clerics from Argentina(link is external)for convincing Pope Francis to dismiss him last June as prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF). ‘From the very beginning, certain forces in the background suggested that I stood in the pope’s way and in the way of their notions of pope and Church, and they publicized their opinions,’ the former CDF chief said on December 5.” By Christa Pongrats-Lippitt, La Croix

CELIBACY

The Rev. Thomas Reese: Catholics will loosen up on clerical celibacy
“This is the year the Catholic Church will get serious about discussing the possibility of married priests(link is external). The church has experienced a shortage of priests around the world, especially in developed countries. There are not enough priests to provide the sacraments, celebrate Mass or give pastoral care to the Catholic people.” By Thomas Reese, Religion News Service

VATICAN II

Hostility to Vatican II runs deep with Pope Francis’ critics
“A little more than a year ago, I did a three-part series examining the opposition to Pope Francis(link is external). In the first of those essays, I argued that the opposition to Francis was rooted in a misconception about the reception of Vatican II and, indeed, about the Second Vatican Council itself. I stand by that assessment, but it is increasingly clear that the opposition to Francis comes not only from misconceptions about Vatican II but actual hostility to the council and to all the popes since. In short, the situation is even worse than I had suspected.” By Michael Sean Winters, National Catholic Reporter

VOICES

Conservative donors aim to shape Catholic narrative for the wider culture
“In early March, Timothy Busch stepped to a lectern in the sanctuary of the Crypt Church of the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C. In an apparent reference to the presidential inauguration that had occurred less than two months before, he told those in the congregation that Catholics looked forward to a new ‘time of light(link is external)’ … It is as illuminating an illustration as one might find of the influence that an ‘ideologically motivated funder’ can have on the direction of the church and institutions associated with it.” By Tom Roberts, National Catholic Reporter

Cardinal Law’s complex role in the contemporary history of clergy sexual abuse
“Public awareness of sexual abuse by Catholic clergy actually dates from 1984(link is external). It was triggered by the public exposure of widespread sexual violation of children by a single priest in the Diocese of Lafayette, Louisiana, and its systemic cover-up by the church’s leadership that lasted well over a decade. Cardinal Bernard Law, who went from in 1974 being bishop of Springfield-Cape Girardeau, Missouri, to in 1984 being named archbishop of Boston, became the most powerful and influential Catholic bishop in the United States. This all came to a screeching halt in 2002.” By Thomas P. Doyle, National Catholic Reporter

CHURCH FINANCES

New Ulm Dioceses scores low on online financial transparency
“According to a VOTF survey of 32 territorial archdioceses and 145 territorial dioceses, the average diocesan score for online transparency was 36(link is external) out of a possible 60. The New Ulm Diocese rated below this average with a score of 15 out of 60. The VOTF organization was started in the wake of the Catholic abuse scandal. VOTF’s mission is to provide a voice through which the faithful can participate in the governance and guidance of the Catholic Church. They work to support victims of abuse and correct institutional flaws in the church that led to a pattern of cover-ups.” By Clay Schuldt, The New Ulm Journal

Suspect arrested after video catches him stealing money form Philly church
“A man accused of taking bags of money(link is external) from a church in Philadelphia is now under arrest. Video captured the suspect on Jan. 8 around 2:50 p.m. entering the Calvary Roman Catholic Church located at 11024 Knights Road with a key. Once inside surveillance video recorded the suspect entering a room where he took bags of donations containing an undisclosed amount of money and checks.” By Brandon Longo, Philadelphia.CBSLocal.com

Monsignor who admitted to embezzling $500K to cover gambling debts headed to prison
“The Catholic clergyman who pleaded guilty last spring of stealing more than a half million dollars(link is external) from an unauthorized Philadelphia Archdiocese account has been sentenced. Prosecutor allege the money was spent to fund as a lavish lifestyle. In front of two dozen family members, friends, Catholic nuns and fellow priests, 78-year-old William Dombrow learned his fate on Wednesday (Jan. 3). A judge sentenced him to eight months in a federal prison, with three years supervised release.” By Kristen Johanson, KYW News Radio

Judge rejects archdiocese bankruptcy plans, orders return to mediation
“A federal judge has rejected competing reorganization plans for the bankrupt Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis(link is external) and ordered the church and its creditors back into mediation. In orders released Thursday (Dec. 28), Judge Robert Kressel said plans put forth by the archdiocese and a creditors committee made up largely of sexual abuse victims both had shortcomings.” By Martin Moylan, Minnesota Public Radio

Pope orders probe into finances of top Honduran adviser
(Dec. 22, 2017) “The Vatican confirmed Friday (Dec. 22) that Pope Francis had ordered up an investigation into alleged financial and other irregularities(link is external) in the diocese of one of his top advisers, Honduran Cardinal Oscar Rodriguez Maradiaga Italian newsweekly L’Espresso said the investigation was initiated in May following allegations of failed investments, questionable expenses by one of Maradiaga’s deputies, and the ultimate destination of a 35,000 euro monthly payment to the cardinal by the Catholic University of Honduras.” By The Associated Press in The Kansas City Star
— Cardinal Maradiaga accused of financial mismanagement(link is external)By Catholic News Agency

STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS REFORM

Abuse survivor pushes for extending statute of limitations
“A Webster woman, who is an abuse survivor, is pushing for extended statute of limitations(link is external) on childhood sexual assault victims. Across the state, advocates of sexual assault victims are pushing the governor to expand the limitations for child victims. Currently, they only have until the age of 23 to bring criminal or civil charges against their abuser.” By Carlet Cleare, 13WHAM.com

Time to protect New York’s Children
“Next year will bring yet another attempt to overhaul New York’s antiquated statutes of limitations(link is external) for victims of childhood sexual abuse — and it must be the last. With exceptions for rape and other forcible violations, prosecutors have just five years after individuals victimized as children turn 18 to bring criminal charges, a constraint that has protected many a pedophile. Victims have just until they are 21 years old to bring a civil complaint against organizations that may have been havens for predators.” By New York Daily News Editorial
— Some tough choices faces by New York state lawmakers as they start a new session(link is external)By Associated Press on WXXI-AM News
— Liberal activist Bill Samuels backing Child Victims Act(link is external)By Kenneth Lovett, New York Daily News

CLERGY CHILD SEXUAL ABUSE

Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual abuse the toughest test for the Catholic Church
“A former trainee Catholic priest whose evidence to the child abuse royal commission exposed the secret 20th century Vatican decisions behind a global child sex scandal said the church can heal if Pope Francis is up to the challenge(link is external). While royal commission final report recommendations in December on celibacy and the secrecy of the confessional attracted the headlines, less publicized recommendations presented more significant and fundamental challenges that the church had to grapple with, lawyer, author and former trainee priest Kieran Tapsell said.” By Joanne McCarthy, The Newcastle Herald

The role of apology in abuse redress schemes
“The profound apology has been an essential part of abuse redress schemes(link is external)adopted by a number of religious institutions in Australia for supporting victims of abuse within their organisations … These schemes have not only had a transformative effect for the victims of that abuse they also have had a profound effect on those representatives giving the apology.  As a result they have a powerful influence on bringing about a change of culture within those institutions.” By Greg Rooney, Mediate.com

Bernard Law’s legacy: a MeToo moment for Catholics
“What do Rupert Murdoch and Bernard Law have in common? They were both dismissive of actual human suffering(link is external). They both “allowed abusive predators” to use the workplace as a ready source of prey. Make no mistake, both are villains. There are not many heroes in the Catholic abuse crisis but Fr. Tom Doyle is a hero. He referred to the predatory behavior as “soul murder” because those priests used their role as spiritual figures to entrap their victims. Tamara Holder makes an analogous charge about Murdoch. “He ruined my life,” she said.” By Sally Vance-Trembath, Huffington Post, past vice president of Voice of the Faithful

CALIFORNIA

San Jose: Presentation High failed to report alleged abuse, victims claim
“Over three decades, Presentation High School administrators repeatedly violated state law and failed to report sexual abuse claims to police and the county’s child protection agency(link is external), according to allegations in two cases made public Tuesday (Dec.14). In one case, an alleged victim’s mother said her daughter was sexually assaulted by an instructor in 2013-’14. Classmates reported to administrators the teacher’s troubling behavior — touching, sending multiple daily texts and sexual SnapChat photos — Dina Leonis said. The school, however, did not report the matter to police, she said.” By Sharon Noguchi, The San Jose Mercury News

GEORGIA

Family of late Stone Mountain priest settles child molestation suit
“When a 47-year-old man decided to sue a former DeKalb County priest in 2017, he dreamed of facing his alleged abuser in court(link is external). But it turned out Father Stanley Idziak, who’d been accused of molesting multiple children in Dunwoody and Stone Mountain, had died months earlier, leaving the only legal recourse suing his estate. On Tuesday (Jan. 2), the plaintiff withdrew the complaint after receiving a settlement from the priest’s family, attorney John Burdges said.” By Joshua Sharpe, Atlanta Journal-Constitution

HAWAII

Sexual predator abused children – and treated priests who did the same
“Long-hidden documents show how the same man, prominent Honolulu psychiatrist Dr. Robert Browne, played a central role in two of Hawaii’s biggest sex abuse scandals(link is external). Browne is accused of sexually assaulting more than 30 former students at Kamehameha Schools over nearly three decades, from 1958 to 1985. And, the documents show, he was also treating Catholic priests in Hawaii who had been caught abusing children.” By Lynn Kawano, Hawaii News Now

ILLINOIS

Metro East priest accused of possessing child porn
“A Catholic priest from a church in Mascoutah, Illinois is accused of possessing child pornography(link is external). Belleville police say they got a tip leading them to Rev. Gerald Hechenberger, who is the associate pastor at Holy Childhood Church and School. Investigators say he was distributing images of children under 13-years-old.” By KMOV.com

KANSAS

Kansas priest will not return to parish after hiking trip with children
“A Catholic priest removed from the pulpit after taking a group of boys on an unsupervised hike(link is external) in October will not return to the parish, Bishop Carl Kemme announced in a letter to parishioners in Conway Springs. The Catholic Diocese of Wichita would not comment on or confirm Friday (Jan. 5) the news about the Rev. Andrew Seiler, who was removed from St. Joseph Catholic Church in Conway Springs in mid-October after the incident. Being alone with a minor goes against behavioral boundaries set by the diocese.” By Stan Finger and Katherine Burgess, Wichita Eagle

MASSACHUSETTS

Archdiocese reaches settlement with victim of priest who served in Lowell
“The Archdiocese of Boston has reached a five-figure settlement with William Brown, a childhood sexual abuse victim(link is external) of the Rev. Arnold Kelley, who lived in Lowell for a number of years … ‘My client should be proud of himself for coming forward,’ Brown’s attorney, Mitchell Garabedian, stated in an email on Tuesday (Jan. 2). ‘In doing so, he is empowering himself, other sexual abuse victims and making the world a safer place for children. Sexual abuse victims should not and will not be silenced,’ he added.” By Aaron Curtis, The Lowell Sun
— Archdiocese of Boston reaches settlement with reported victim of priest in Jamaica Plain(link is external)By David Ertischek, Jamaica Plain News

MINNESOTA

Audit finds archdiocese ‘substantially compliant’ with clergy abuse settlement terms
“Former Hennepin County Attorney Thomas Johnson stood inside the Ramsey County District Courthouse on Friday (Jan. 5) morning and rattled off his email address and cellphone number to a handful of reporters gathered nearby. Then he made the unusual request of asking the media to share his personal contact information with the public. That’s the only way Johnson can do what the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis and the Ramsey County Attorney’s Office have collectively asked him to do: Serve as an independent and ongoing point-of-contact for victims of clergy sexual abuse(link is external)seeking help and a confidential ear.” By Sarah Horner, Twin Cities Pioneer Press

Judge orders more mediation to resolve Minnesota clergy abuse settlements
Disputes over clergy abuse settlements(link is external) in the Archdiocese of St. Paul-Minneapolis have led a federal bankruptcy judge to order a return to mediation for all the parties involved. ‘Judge Kressel’s decision bolsters our resolve to move forward in the bankruptcy process,’ Tom Abood, chairman of the archdiocese’s reorganization task force, said Dec. 28. ‘We are guided by his words from earlier this year, that the longer this process continues, the less money will be available for those who have been harmed.’” By Catholic News Agency

Crookston diocese reinstates priest after no charges filed in abuse inquiry
“The Catholic Diocese of Crookston has reinstated a priest who was placed on administrative leave(link is external) as pastor of parishes in Dilworth and Hawley after allegations of abuse surfaced in early 2016. The Rev. Patrick Sullivan has been reinstated to priestly ministry at St. Elizabeth’s Parish in Dilworth and St. Andrew’s Parish in Hawley, the diocese said in a statement released Tuesday (Dec. 26).” By Twin Cities Pioneer Press

Attorney blasts reinstatement of Dilworth-Hawley priest accused of sexually abusing teen
“An attorney representing a man who claims a Catholic priest sexually abused him as a teen(link is external) expressed outrage Wednesday, Dec. 27, that the Crookston Diocese has reinstated the priest as pastor of the Dilworth and Hawley parishes. The diocese announced on Tuesday, Dec. 26, that Father Patrick Sullivan resumed his priestly duties at St. Elizabeth’s Parish in Dilworth and St. Andrew’s Parish in Hawley. Sullivan had been placed on administrative leave after the abuse allegations surfaced in 2016.” By Dave Olson, Inforum.com

MISSOURI

St. Louis-area Catholic priest charged in child porn case after cyber tip to police
“A St. Louis Metro East Catholic priest was charged Tuesday (Jan. 9) with 16 felony child porn charges(link is external), along with a count of meth possession. The Rev. Gerald R. Hechenberger is an associate pastor of Holy Childhood of Jesus Parish in Mascoutah, St. Pancratius Parish in Fayetteville and St. Liborius Parish in St. Libory.” By Erin Heffernan, Herald & Review News Service

MONTANA

Sex abuse lawsuit seeks $70 million is assets from Montana diocese
“Attorneys for victims of sex abuse have filed a lawsuit(link is external) against a bankrupt Catholic diocese in Montana last week to ensure that more than $70 million in assets will be available to their clients. A committee representing eight sex abuse victims filed a complaint against the diocese of Great Falls-Billings in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court on Dec. 18 in an attempt to reach a negotiated settlement in the dispute over the matter of $70 million worth of diocesan assets.” By Jardine Malado, Christian Times

NEW MEXICO

Ex-priest fell from grace after archbishop resigned
“Former priest Sabine Griego’s relationship with the Archdiocese of Santa Fe took an abrupt turn for the worse after the late Archbishop Robert Sanchez stepped down in March 1993. Just three days after Sanchez resigned, an archdiocese official sent Griego a letter telling him to ‘not exercise your ministry in parishes(link is external) or in any other ministerial situations.’” By Olivier Uyttebrouck, Albuquerque Journal

NEW YORK

Ex-priest admits to new abuse in Saratoga County
“A former priest convicted of molesting a 13-year-old boy(link is external) on Long Island in 2003 pleaded guilty Friday (Jan. 5) to sexually attacking a new young victim on two occasions in Saratoga County. Michael Hands, 51, admitted to two counts of third-degree criminal sex act, the legal name for sodomy. He faces 7 to 8 years in prison at his March 2 sentencing by Saratoga County Judge James A. Murphy III.” By Robert Gavin, Times Union

NORTH DAKOTA

$5M bail set for priest accused of abusing North Dakota boys
“A judge has set bail at $5 million cash for a Catholic priest accused of molesting two boys(link is external) in North Dakota in the 1990s. KFGO radio reports that Fernando Laude Sayasaya appeared in court on Tuesday (Dec. 20) via video from the Cass County Jail. He’s facing two counts of gross sexual imposition.” By Associated Press in Pacific Daily News

TEXAS

He claimed sexual abuse by Catholic leaders, but a judge wasn’t convinced
“A judge on Wednesday (Jan. 10) dismissed a lawsuit(link is external) against the Catholic Diocese of Fort Worth filed by a man who said he was sexually abused while a student at a Wichita Falls Catholic school from 1990 to 1992. Jason Montgomery filed the lawsuit in 2015, saying he was sexually abused by the late Rev. John Sutton while he was a student at Notre Dame Middle High School. Montgomery later amended his lawsuit to say that then-Principal Ron Staley also sexually abused him during that time. Montgomery’s memory of the abuse returned in 2013, according to his lawyer.” By Mitch Mitchell, Fort Worth Star-Telegram

AUSTRALIA

Secret details of Cardinal Pell case released to Australia Public Broadcasting
“Secret details of the criminal case against Cardinal George Pell(link is external) have been released to lawyers for the ABC and lawyers for one of the broadcaster’s journalists, The Australian reports. The ABC and investigative journalist Louise Milligan were subpoenaed by the Cardinal’s legal team, along with Victoria Police and clergy abuse advocate group Broken Rites, but the media organization and Ms. Milligan have yet to hand over the requested material.” By CathNews.com

Retired Vic priest in court over sex abuse
“Men and women who were allegedly abused as children(link is external) more than 30 years ago have begun giving evidence against a former Catholic priest accused of multiple child sex offences. Retired priest Peter Maurice Waters, 72, appeared before Melbourne Magistrates Court on Monday (Jan. 8) charged with 20 child sex offences between 1974 and 1987. He is accused of sexually abusing six children.” By 9News.com.au

Fr. Tom Doyle says tax concessions should be on table as church responds to royal commission
“The Australian Government should ignore the church/state divide and put ‘massive pressure’ on the Catholic Church to name child sexual abuse as a crime in church law(link is external), says the American Catholic cleric who first blew the whistle on the global abuse scandal in 1984. ‘The church gave up this privilege long ago when they started to enable sex abuse, lie about it to society and cover up for abusers,’ said Dominican priest Tom Doyle after the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse’s final report in December recommended major changes, including to celibacy and the secrecy of the confessional.” By Joanne McCarthy, The Newcastle Herald

CANADA

Church reform is coming amazingly slowly
“I once again take up the topic of reform in the Catholic church, because I’m a kind of an insider/outsider, a Pope-watcher, and an analyst who knows the immense power and global reach of this church. And the sad effects of its mistaken teachings and practices. There were two items in recent news: one the death of American Cardinal Bernard Law of Boston, age 86, who, after being indicted on charges related to his cover-up of clergy sex abuse against children(link is external), fled to Rome in 2002 and was put in charge of a major church. Remember the courageous journalism of the Boston Globe and the subsequent film Spotlight.” By Rosemary Ganley, The Peterborough Examiner

GERMANY

Catholic ex-priest refuses to speak at sexual abuse trial in Germany
“A 53-year-old former priest is currently on trial in a district court in the Bavarian city of Deggendorf. Thomas Maria B., who was born in Wuppertal, is accused of having sexually abused five German boys(link is external) under the age of 14 a total of 110 times between 1997 and 2016. The man is also accused of the attempted rape of an 18-year-old in Austria. The attorney defending the former Catholic priest has said that the man ‘feels incapable’ of testifying before the court. He also refused to address the court in December.”By Deutsche Welle

GREAT BRITAIN, SCOTLAND & WALES

Church in Scotland criticized for not meeting abuse victims
“The author of an independent review of the child protection policies of the Catholic Church in Scotland has said he is ‘disappointed’ in the progress the bishops are making(link is external) in meeting victims and survivors of clerical sexual abuse. Rev. Andrew McLellan, the former Moderator of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church of Scotland, was asked in 2013 to chair an interdenominational commission looking at the issue of child protection in Scotland’s Catholic Church.” By Cruxnow.com Staff
— A sickness has infected the Catholic church in Scotland, By Kevin McKenna,(link is external)The Guardian

Former Kirk moderator Dr. Andrew McLellan Hits out over ‘astonishing’ delay in abuse response from Catholic Church
“The Catholic Church has been accused of failing to establish contact with victims of historic child abuse(link is external) as it pledged to do in response to an independent review. The Very Reverend Dr. Andrew McLellan, a former Church of Scotland moderator who carried out an independent external review of child protection and safeguarding policies within the Catholic Church, said it was ‘astonishing’ no contact had been made with victims’ groups.”By Stephen Naysmith, The Scotland Sunday Herald

Catholic priest jailed for 18 years over child sex abuse
“A priest was jailed for 18 years on Thursday (Dec. 21) for sexual abusing boys at a top British Catholic school(link is external) in crimes dating back to the 1970s. Andrew Soper, 74, fled to Kosovo in 2011 to avoid prosecution over charges that he molested boys while headmaster at St Benedict’s School in London.” By Vanguardngr.com
— London Catholic school abuse survivor speaks of ‘constant violence(link is external),’ By Harriet Sherwood, The Guardian

GUAM

Nephew accuses archbishop
“For the last 27 years, Mark Mafnas Apuron has held onto a secret, one that resulted in him being estranged from his immediate family members and left him ashamed and petrified. ‘When my experience happened, I thought I was the only one(link is external),’ Apuron said, as he sat in an office in Hagåtña yesterday, speaking with The Guam Daily Post. But Apuron resolved to make this year different by coming forward and speaking of the past. The 43-year-old will be filing a lawsuit this week alleging that he was sexually abused in the chancery in 1990 by his uncle, now-suspended Archbishop Anthony Apuron.” By Mindy Aguon, The Guam Daily Post
— Guam archbishop faces new sexual assault allegation(link is external), By Associated Press on FoxNews.com

Priest sexually abused boy during confession night in 1958
“Father Louis Brouillard allegedly sexually abused an altar boy(link is external) during confession night in or around 1958, according to a lawsuit filed Friday (Jan. 5) in federal court. The plaintiff, identified in court documents only as G.M. to protect his privacy, said Brouillard’s sexual molestation and abuse included fondling, masturbation and oral copulation during the time G.M. was a minor altar boy at the Mangilao parish and as a Boy Scout in the Mangilao troop.” By Haidee Eugenio, Pacific Daily News

Vatican tribunal, $500 million in sex abuse lawsuits
“Coadjutor Archbishop Michael Byrnes had hoped 2017 would be a year of reparation. It turned into a year of more than 100 sex abuse lawsuits(link is external), a canonical trial and efforts to fix a broken Catholic Church on Guam. At the start of the year, Byrnes gave the island’s Catholic faithful assurance that he would work to regain their ‘tremendous loss of trust’ in the Catholic Church, after suspended Archbishop Anthony Apuron left the island amid allegations that he sexually abused altar boys decades ago when he was a priest.” By Mindy Aguon, The Guam Daly Post
— No additional mediator in clergy sex abuse cases(link is external)Haidee Eugenio, Pacific Daily News

IRELAND& NORTHERN IRELAND

Waterford bishop warns local schools of pedophile ex-priest’s recent activities
“The bishop of Waterford and Lismore has sent a letter to local primary schools and teachers warning them about a convicted paedophile ex-priest(link is external) who is living in the Waterford city area. The letter concerned Oliver O’Grady, who admitted to sexually abusing children while serving as a parish priest in California from 1973 onwards.” By TheJournal.ie

Law planned to stop sex offenders from going abroad
“Proposed new legislation to ban pedophiles and sex offenders from foreign travel(link is external) is to be unveiled in the new year. Plans to expand the passport ‘stop list’ have been drafted after Father Shay Cullen, the four-time Nobel peace prize nominee, called on western governments to tackle sex tourism.” By Ed Carty, The Times

NETHERLANDS

Report affirms Dutch church handling of abuse cases
“A special independent foundation overseeing the Dutch Church’s response to past clerical sexual abuse(link is external) has concluded that its programs have provided victims with ‘recognition, satisfaction and help’ including 28.6 million euros in compensation. Presenting its final report, it said the programs set up after a shocking 2011 inquiry into scandals from 1945 to the present had dealt with 3,712 reports of abuse. Of these, 2,062 led to formal complaints that a special panel examined.” By Tom Heneghan, The Tablet

SWITZERLAND

Catholic Church in Switzerland still dealing with abuse claims
“Some 250 cases of sexual harassment(link is external) within the Catholic Church in Switzerland have been reported since 2010, according to media reports. A sizeable number involve abuse cases against adults. The information was first revealed on Wednesday (Jan. 3) on local radio station Rhône FM, and was reported again in several Sunday newspapers.” By SwissInfo.ch
— Catholic Church rocked by new sex abuse scandal as 10 pedophile priests named in Switzerland(link is external)By Isabelle Garretsen, International Business Tiimes

Catholic church in Valais rocked by new sex abuse claims
“Accusations of historic sexual abuse(link is external) have been made against around ten Catholic priests in the bishopric of Sion in the canton of Valais. The bishop of Sion, Jean-Marie Lovey, has asked the victims for forgiveness, the Swiss news agency SDA reported, quoting Radio Rhône FM. It said the abuse of children and young people happened between the 1950s and 1990s, and all the cases were now too old for a prosecution to take place.” By TheLocal.ch

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