Archive for March, 2018

Australian Catholics need to wake up / The Sydney Morning Herald

With a sexual abuse record among the worst in the world, and an exhaustive and fair investigation completed by a Royal Commission that produced a clear set of recommendations, the international church ought to be looking to Australia for a way forward. All Australians, and particularly the Catholic community, should do what they can to shame and pressure the Australian bishops. The first step is to arise from their slumber. (The Sydney Moening Herald)

“Australian Catholics are being conned. After all the disgrace of the Royal Commission evidence and its specific and telling recommendations, the response effectively proposed by the Australian Bishops is to call a Plenary Council of the church in Australia in 2020-21. Australia’s Catholics seem to be meekly agreeing to what is an unconscionable delay and a fudge. In short, the bishops have us where they want us: corralled and quietened.

“In one sense, convening such a forum could be seen as innovative and consultative. Realistically, it downplays the magnitude and urgency of the issues that need to be addressed. Whether the agenda ultimately addresses the main reform issues raised by the Royal Commission is a moot point. Such forums in the Australian church have a habit of being lead down paths that produce platitudinous outcomes and avoid the contentious. More significantly it is openly acknowledged that there is considerable doubt and dispute as to whether such a forum would have the authority to make decisions that address the real issues.

“The temper of Australian Catholics appears to have moved from outrage to exhausted resignation that change in our church is just too hard. And indeed, it is. Faced with a witheringly perceptive analysis of the problems that contributed to sexual abuse, the bishops give little indication, individually or collectively that they know how to respond. They seem caught between their own, not surprisingly, inadequate skills in managing and leading organisational change and the very real sense that they are beholden to Rome and incapable of acting authentically and in ways that recognise the stark reality of the Australian church’s predicament.”

By Terry Fewtrell, The Sydney Morning Herald — Read more …

Advertisements

, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Leave a comment

Voice of the Faithful “Focus” News Roundup


TOP STORIES

Vatican sentences Guam archbishop accused of abuse to removal from office, exile
“A Vatican tribunal has found Guam Archbishop Anthony Apuron, who had been accused of sexually abusing young men decades ago, ‘guilty of certain of the accusations(link is external),’ imposing a penalty of removal from office and a prohibition from living on the U.S. island territory. A five-judge apostolic tribunal of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith announced its verdict in Apuron’s canonical case March 16 with a brief press release.” By Joshua J. McElwee, National Catholic Reporter

Cardinal’s alleged abuse victims end testimony in Australia
“The alleged victims of the most senior Vatican official charged(link is external) in the Catholic Church sex abuse crisis finished testifying to an Australian court Wednesday Mar. 14). A hearing began last week in the Melbourne Magistrate Court to determine whether prosecutors have sufficient evidence to put Australian Cardinal George Pell on trial.” By Associated Press in U.S. News & World Report

Francis invites change, but we are the change
“There was a time in life when I wanted things done and wanted them done now. I still want things done now but over the course of the years, I discovered that, at least where the church is concerned, I was looking for action in the wrong places … It’s the average layperson living out the faith in the temper of the times(link is external) who shapes the future. It is the visionary teacher, the loving critic, the truth-telling prophet that moves the church from one age to another.” By Joan Chittister, National Catholic Reporter

Fresh financial scandals hit Vatican
“A fresh round of financial scandals(link is external) has emerged in the Vatican as Pope Francis marks five years as the 266th successor of Saint Peter today. On Thursday (Mar. 12), a former president of the Vatican bank, Angelo Caloia, 78, who headed the institution for 20 years until 2009 will go on trial before a Vatican court with his lawyer, Gabriele Liuzzo, 94. The pair is accused ‘unlawful conduct’ involving ‘the disposal of a considerable part of the institute’s real estate assets.’” By Tess Livingstone, The Australian

Catholic Church fails to confront tragedy of ‘epic proportions’
“The Catholic Church has failed to fully accept the horrific impact of child sexual abuse and its own role in a tragedy of ‘epic proportions(link is external),’ a member of the royal commission has said. In a surprisingly frank speech, Robert Fitzgerald – one of the six commissioners that oversaw the recently completed, five year inquiry – has slammed the church’s approach to abuse survivors, and its failure to tackle practices that contributed to the scourge of abuse and the secrecy around it.” By Ben Schneiders, Royce Millar, Chris Vedelago, The Canberra Times

ACCOUNTABILITY

Australian court hears public testimony in Cardinal Pell abuse case
“A judge allowed reporters into an Australian courtroom on Wednesday(Mar. 14) to hear witness testimony during a pretrial hearing for Cardinal George Pell(link is external), the Vatican’s third-highest-ranking priest, in a high-profile sexual abuse case that has largely unfolded behind closed doors. Cardinal Pell has been accused of ‘historical sexual offenses,’ meaning they took place decades ago, but the details of the criminal complaint have not been made public. For the past 10 days the court has been closed to the public as those accusing Cardinal Pell were questioned via video conference.” By Adam Baidawi, The New York Times

Abuse that stretched to Atlanta among reports emerging in Buffalo
“More details about the handling of predatory priests(link is external) in the Diocese of Buffalo, New York, are coming to light after a 52-year-old man came forward last week with allegations that he was abused by Fr. Norbert Orsolits, a now-retired priest of the diocese. The Olean Times Herald reported March 2 that Orsolits, now 78, claims he was assigned to serve at multiple parishes and to teach at Archbishop Walsh High School in Olean, New York, after receiving treatment for his predatory behavior in the 1980s. Earlier that week, Orsolits had admitted to The Buffalo News that he had abused ‘probably dozens’ of young boys during his career as a priest.” By James Dearie, National Catholic Reporter

Vatican removes from office and exiles Guam archbishop accused of sexual abuse
“Guam Archbishop Anthony Apuron, who was accused of sexually abusing young men, has been found guilty of some of the charges against him(link is external) by a Vatican tribunal, which removed him from office and exiled him from the island. He retains the right to an appeal. The five-judge apostolic tribunal of the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith announced the verdict on Friday (March 16) but did not specify which allegations the 72-year-old archbishop had been found guilty of, according to the National Catholic Reporter.” By Jack Jenkins, Religion News Service

POPE FRANCIS

Pope Francis is beloved. His papacy might be a disaster
“…So the idea of this pope as a ‘great reformer,’ to borrow the title of the English journalist Austen Ivereigh’s fine 2014 biography, can’t really be justified by any kind of Roman housekeeping. Instead Francis’ reforming energies have been directed elsewhere(link is external), toward two dramatic truces that would radically reshape the church’s relationship with the great powers of the modern world.” By Ross Douthat, The New York Times

Over five years, Pope produces major shift in church culture
“Whenever Pope Francis visits prisons, during his whirlwind trips to the world’s peripheries or at a nearby jailhouse in Rome, he always tells inmates that he, too, could have ended up behind bars(link is external): ‘Why you and not me?’ he asks. That humble empathy and the ease with which he walks in others’ shoes has won Francis admirers around the globe and confirmed his place as a consummate champion of the poor and disenfranchised. As he marks the fifth anniversary of his election Tuesday Mar. 13, Francis still faces criticism for both the merciful causes he has embraced and the ones he has neglected.” By Nicole Winfield, Associated Press, in the Boston Globe

Five years of Francis: How has he changed U.S. Catholicism
“Five years ago this week the cardinals of the Roman Catholic Church selected the first Latin American pope—and the first from a Jesuit religious order known for its fierce commitment to social justice. Pope Francis immediately began changing the public face of Catholicism(link is external). He warned that the church can’t only be ‘obsessed’ with opposing abortion, struck a more welcoming tone toward LGBT people, and chose to live in a Vatican guesthouse instead of the more regal Apostolic Palace … But for all that Pope Francis has accomplished in chipping away at culture-war Catholicism and prioritizing social justice, his woefully insufficient response to clergy abuse is conspicuous.” By John Gehring, Commonweal

Five years on, Pope Francis has failed to deliver on his promises
“Five years on, Francis’s efforts at reforms have got stuck. The pope recognizes the problems(link is external) of overhauling the unwieldy structure of the Vatican bureaucracy: he has likened it to cleaning the Egyptian sphinx with a toothbrush. Then there is his calling of synods to discuss the family, especially the treatment of divorced and remarried Catholics. They have won him huge support among millions of people in the pews, but have led to open hostility from conservative prelates. Two issues above all remain a problem for him: child abuse and the role of women.” By Catherine Pepinster, The Guardian

U.S. Catholics offer wide range of answers when asked about Francis’ most notable action as Pope
“Most U.S. Catholics continue to have a high opinion of Pope Francis(link is external) as he marks his fifth year as pontiff, according to a Pew Research Center survey conducted in January. And when we asked Catholics to tell us the most significant thing Francis has done so far – in their own words, regardless of their opinion of the pope – they offered a variety of responses that cover many facets of religious and public life.” By Elizabeth Podrebarac Sciupac, Pew Research Center

Cardinal blames Barros interviews for bad press during pope’s Chile visit
“A Chilean cardinal and member of Pope Francis’ advisory Council of Cardinals has sent a letter to the presidents of various Latin American bishops’ conferences to rebut media reports that the pope’s visit to Chile(link is external) in January was a failure. A Chilean cardinal and member of Pope Francis’ advisory Council of Cardinals has sent a letter to the presidents of various Latin American bishops’ conferences to rebut media reports that the pope’s visit to Chile in January was a failure.” By Joshua J. McElwee, National Catholic Reporter

CARDINALS

Could O’Malley be the center-right candidate for the next pope?
“This Sunday (Mar. 18), Crux’s Christopher White and I bumped into one such old friend, and over breakfast we had one of those conversations that people absorbed by Church affairs often do. My friend posed the following question: If there were a St. Gallen group of center-right cardinals today trying to prepare for the next papal conclave, who would their candidate be(link is external) … White and I kicked the question around, and here’s what we came up with: Cardinal Sean O’Malley of Boston. I know, I know, the idea of an American pope seems a stretch, but hear us out.” By John L. Allen, Jr., Cruxnow.com

Cardinal Pell may face new charges
“Cardinal George Pell may face fresh charges after his committal hearing(link is external) heard a witness, who was due to face cross-examination, had provided a new statement to police. The Melbourne Magistrates Court heard yesterday that the witness had supplied the new statement to police on Monday (Mar. 19) evening.” By CathNews.com

BISHOPS

McAreavey remains bishop despite resignation announcement
“Despite announcing his resignation earlier this month Dr. John McAreavey remains on as Bishop of Dromore(link is external) until his standing down is accepted by Pope Francis. This has yet to happen. When it does, the Dromore diocese college of consultors will then meet and, in accordance with its rights and duties under canon law, elect a diocesan administrator who will take charge of affairs until a new bishop is appointed.” By Patsy McGarry, The Irish Times

PONTIFICAL COMMISSION FOR THE PROTECTION OF MINORS

Springfield woman appointed by Pope to serve on panel to protect minors
“Teresa Morris Kettelkamp never envisioned such a quick return to Rome. ‘Stunned. That pretty much captures it,’ said Kettelkamp, a Springfield resident and Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception parishioner, about her appointment Feb. 17 by Pope Francis to a three-year term to the Pontifical Commission(link is external) for the Protection of Minors, finding out after an early birthday lunch at Bella Milano.” By Steven Spearie, The State Journal-Register

CLERICALISM

‘Clericalized’ Catholic Church will not survive, says McAleese
“The Catholic Church in its current form will not survive(link is external), former president Mary McAleese said in Rome on Thursday (Mar. 8). ‘The clericalized church will not survive and that will be good. Just how long it might take or whether I’ll be around to see, or whether my children will be still Catholics, my grandchildren that I don’t know. But frankly I did my best and the people who let me down in the job that I was given, the vocation as a Catholic mother and a Catholic woman, the people who let me down are not very far from here (in the Vatican),’ she said.” By Patsy McGarry, The Irish Times

WOMEN IN THE CHURCH

The Catholic Church must listen to the courageous voices of women
“My first encounter with the Voices of Faith event(link is external) happened on International Women’s Day in 2015. From my desk, I watched the live stream of the event that took place inside the Vatican and featured the stories of Catholic women working on the frontiers of the church in areas like education and health care for girls and women as well as initiatives that supported migrants, refugees and victims of human trafficking. The event featured a panel in which five accomplished women raised critical questions and spoke about their hopes and dreams for the leadership of women inside the Catholic Church.” By Luke Hansen, S.J., America: The Jesuit Review

Catholic women’s event persists despite Vatican’s rejection of progressive participants
“For the past four years, the Voices of Faith conference(link is external) has brought prominent Catholic women from around the world to the Vatican to highlight women’s voices and their contributions. But this year, the Vatican’s approach to the International Women’s Day event has caused a great deal of controversy ― even prompting one prominent Catholic leader to call her church an ‘an empire of misogyny.’ Unlike in past years, this year’s conference had to be held outside the Vatican’s walls.” By Carol Kuruvilla, Huffington Post

When my daughter whispered to me, ‘I wish girls could be priests,’ I didn’t know what to say.
“The rites of the annual paschal triduum fascinate and inspire me more than almost anything else that the church’s liturgy has to offer, and I know I am not alone. Like many other Catholics, I find myself drawn in and moved, year after year, during those three great days. So I probably should not have been surprised to realize last year that they were also moving my 9-year-old daughter(link is external).” By Barry Hudock, America: The Jesuit Review

CHURCH REFORM

You to bishops: yes to guidance, no to clericalism, questions on secularism
“Judging by day one of the March 19-24 gathering (pre-synod of youth meeting), however, not only did the Church succeed in bringing together a good cross-section of the fractured reality of young people(link is external) today, but already relevant and recurring topics have begun to emerge – such as the real need felt by youth for guidance, the need for more effective engagement with secularism, and the toxic nature of clericalism.” By Claire Giangrave, Cruxnow.com

The tensions between church reform and pushing an agenda
“The Catholic Church does not seem quite able to manage the expectations of reform(link is external). The ancient motto ecclesia semper reformanda (‘the church is always in need of being reformed’) has taken on a slightly new meaning in our day where leaders are measured more by their ability to reform rather than to govern. And this stands in contrast with a genuine theology of reform.” By Massimo Faggioli, La Croix International

Dismantling Catholic misogyny: searching for a way forward
“The former president of Ireland, Mary McAleese, garnered worldwide media coverage when she bluntly called out misogyny in the Catholic hierarchy(link is external) in her keynote speech at the Voices of Faith event held in Rome on International Women’s Day. ‘The Catholic Church has long since been a primary global carrier of the virus of misogyny,’ McAleese said. ‘It has never sought a cure, though a cure is freely available. Its name is equality.’ Previous Voices of Faith events were hosted at the Vatican, but this year Cardinal Kevin Farrell denied permission for McAleese and Ugandan advocate Ssenfuka Joanita Warry to speak because of their support for LGBTI persons’ rights.” By Christine Schenk, National Catholic Reporter

FUTURE OF THE CHURCH

FOCUS promises to ‘fight for this generation’ on college campuses
“While the rest of the Catholic Church is wringing its hands about the ‘nones’ who have distanced themselves from organized religion, thousands of young people spent part of their winter vacation — in frigid Chicago, no less — at a conference about their Catholic faith … ‘It was amazing seeing everyone come together(link is external) in praise and worship and being able to surrender everything,’ said (Madalena) DeAndrea, who attended the Jan. 2-6 Student Leadership Summit sponsored by the Fellowship of Catholic University Students, known as FOCUS.” By Heidi Schlumpf, National Catholic Reporter

Church to hold first Plenary Council in 80 years
“Pope Francis has given his approval for the Church to hold the first Plenary Council – the most significant national gathering that can be held(link is external) – in Australia in more than 80 years. ‘The Australian Bishops are deeply grateful to Pope Francis for affirming the decision and we ask all people to join in prayer as we embark on this journey together as God’s people in Australia,’ said Brisbane Archbishop Mark Coleridge, chair of the Bishops Commission for the Plenary Council.” By CathNews.com

Young delegates headed to synod preparation
“Some 300 young people from around the world will come to the Vatican in late March for a weeklong conference meant to prepare the way for an October Synod of Bishops on issues facing youth today(link is external). Several of the delegates to the March 19-24 meeting say they want to discuss specifically why so many young people raised Catholic are deciding to leave the faith as they grow older.” By Joshua J. McElwee, National Catholic Reporter

Reaching young ‘nones’ will take an authentic evangelizing voice
“Last week (Mar. 9), my colleague Heidi Schlumpf reported on a conference at the University of Notre Dame, aimed at creating ‘cultures of formation’(link is external) that will help stem the exodus of young Catholics into the ranks of the ‘nones.’ I was especially interested in the keynote address by Bishop Robert Barron, auxiliary bishop of Los Angeles. Barron began by recalling what then-Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio said at the pre-conclave meetings of the cardinals, about the need for the church to go out to the peripheries, ‘not simply the economic peripheries, but the existential peripheries as well.’” By Michael Sean Winters, National Catholic Reporter

Young people seen as urgent crisis at pre-synod conference at Notre Dame
“Negative cultural influences have left generations of young people confused, anxious and unhappy(link is external) — conditions the church could help address if the young people weren’t disconnected from church institutions. This makes the upcoming Synod on Young People, Faith and Vocational Discernment all the more urgent, said speakers at a conference at the University of Notre Dame.” By Heidi Schlumpf, National Catholic Reporter

VOICES

Why the Catholic Church can (and does) change
“In his preface to ‘To Change the Church: Pope Francis and the Future of Catholicism,’ Ross Douthat describes himself as something of a Graham Greene character: the ‘good bad Catholic,’ or the ‘bad good Catholic,’ depending on how one uses the term. He was raised in an Episcopalian family that became Catholic when he was a teenager, but his early years were shaped by various Protestant circles: mainline, evangelical and Pentecostal. Now, despite what he calls his ‘spiritual sloth,’ he is a deeply committed Catholic. Hence his problem with Pope Francis, who he fears may be breaking faith with Jesus(link is external).” By Thomas P. Rausch, America: The Jesuit Review

Young people are not the problem
“If the recent conference at the University of Notre Dame — where speakers postulated reasons for young people’s disassociation from the Catholic Church(link is external) — represents the approach going into the upcoming Synod of Bishops on young people, we would beg church officials to postpone the gathering. What we heard was a familiar litany, placing blame for missing young people on …” By Editorial Staff, National Catholic Reporter

CHURCH FINANCES

Bishop arrested on corruption charges
“Bishop José Ronaldo and six other priests are accused of diverting money(link is external) from the coffers of churches in three cities around the capital Brasilia. Prosecutors said they are investigating the disappearance of around $600,000 (£430,000) from church accounts. Police say they expect to make more arrests.” By BBC News

How $42K-a-year priest built mansion worth millions
“The Rev. Jon Wehrle, who is proud of his prowess as a builder, constructed his masterpiece on the rural outskirts of this central Michigan town … Wehrle, 67, who was pastor of St. Martha Church in Okemos, lived in the mansion, which a contractor said was worth $3 million to $4 million. How could a Catholic priest who earned $42,000 a year afford such opulence(link is external)? Police officials argue the clergyman had stolen from the Sunday collection plate for at least 19 years. An audit found $5 million missing from church coffers, they said.” By Francis X. Donnelly, The Detroit News

Eastern Montana Catholic diocese wants to back out of bankruptcy
“The Catholic diocese for Eastern Montana is hoping to back out of the bankruptcy proceedings(link is external) it entered into a year ago, petitioning instead for a settlement with sex abuse victims in state court. The move comes after negotiations were stalled by disputes over which church assets are fair game in the bankruptcy.” By Phoebe Tollefson, Montana Standard

Catholic Charities appeal takes hit from growing sex abuse claims against priests
Sexual abuse allegations against Catholic priests(link is external) in Western New York are having an impact on the annual Catholic Charities Appeal. The $11 million campaign is behind other years, according to Catholic Charities of Buffalo CEO Dennis Walczyk. He tells 7 Eyewitness News that part of the reason is because some community members are reluctant to contribute out of concern that their donation will be used to pay out settlements between the Catholic Diocese of Buffalo and victims of sexual abuse by priests.” By WKBW-TV

STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS REFORM

Conservative groups split over child sex abuse legislation
Controversies like this are likely to spread(link is external) across Georgia if legislation being debated in the state Senate becomes law. It’s splitting Baptists and other social conservatives against organizations such as the Catholic Church and the Boy Scouts.” By Ty Tagami, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Child sex abuse bill unfairly shields public institutions, Atlanta archbishop warns
“The Archbishop of Atlanta released a statement Friday (Mar. 9) announcing his opposition to a bill in the Georgia legislature(link is external) that would discriminate between government and private entities in past cases of sex abuse. House Bill 605, which is currently under session at the Georgia General Assembly, would extend the time limits for child abuse victims to sue their perpetrators, changing the age from 23 to 38, and potentially longer.” By Catholic News Agency

Catholic Church needs to take responsibility
“The Catholic Church has been attempting to cover up cases of child sexual abuse for too long(link is external). A bill in Michigan inspired by the Larry Nassar case could extend the amount of time children who experienced sexual abuse have to sue their abusers. This is drawing concern from the Catholic Church, which leads some to believe this concern is an attempt to continue covering up United States’ clergy abuse cases.” By Emma Getz, Indiana Daily Student

Lobbyist for archdiocese tries to gut childhood sexual abuse bill
“A Georgia legislative proposal to give adult survivors of childhood sexual abuse more time to sue pedophiles and organizations has encountered opposition from the Catholic Church(link is external). A lobbyist for the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Atlanta proposes gutting a bill that would extend the statute of limitations for lawsuits and make it easier to sue entities that harbored pedophiles. The Archdiocese is led by a clergyman who was in charge of the U.S. Catholic church’s response in the early 2000s to the priest pedophilia scandal and who has publicly spoken out for justice for the victims.” By Ty Tagami, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

CLERGY CHILD SEXUAL ABUSE

Overseas abuse survivors also need justice
“Truth, Justice and Healing Council chief Francis Sullivan is calling on the Church in Australia to deal with crimes carried out overseas by Church officials(link is external). Mr. Sullivan said it was clear that priests with child sex allegations made against them had been sent overseas to developing countries, including Papua New Guinea and the Philippines, although he was not prepared to concede that those actions were deliberate. But he said the Church needed to treat overseas survivors exactly as they would those in Australia, and ensure they get justice.” By CathNews.com

A courageous woman steps up again on behalf of child sexual abuse victims
“A convergence of events has got me thinking about a question I raised during the 2013/14 Special Commission of Inquiry into Hunter Catholic pedophile priests James Fletcher and Denis McAlinden … The question is what the Catholic Church has done to identify and support ictims of the pedophile priests(link is external) it knowingly and deliberately exported all over the world – a reality proven by formal inquiries in Australia, Canada, the United States and Ireland.” By Peter Gogarty, The Herald

IDAHO

Boise Catholic priest charged for child porn, drug possession back in custody
“A retired Boise Catholic priest facing child porn and drug charges(link is external) is back in custody. Seventy-two-year-old Thomas Faucher has been charged with seven extra counts of possession of child pornography, one count of child porn distribution and an additional count of drug possession.” By Norm Gunning, Boise State Public Radio

Clergy abuse victim says of Springfield Catholic diocese discipline: too little too late
“Richard Koske sits at a restaurant not far from the Roman Catholic parish where he has worked as a janitor and handyman for 15 years. It seems a suitable role for a devout man who traces many of his 62 years of memories back to the Catholic church — for better or for worse. A longtime South Hadley Falls resident, Koske and four siblings were students of Catholic schools growing up. But he and the church remain at odds over the discipline of a once-trusted pastor who sexually assaulted him(link is external) once when Koske was an adult.” By Stephanie Barry, MassLive.com

MICHIGAN

Michigan diocesan priest charged with criminal sexual conduct
“A Saginaw, Michigan, diocesan priest, previously cleared of accusations of sexual abuse of a minor, has been caught in a police sting operation and charged with criminal sexual conduct(link is external). Fr. Robert DeLand, 71, pastor of St. Agnes Parish in Freeland, Michigan, was arrested Feb. 25 after a 21-year-old man and a 17-year-old boy complained about sexual misconduct by the priest.” By James Dearie, National Catholic Reporter

NEW YORK

Buffalo diocese paid $1.5 million to settle priest sex abuse lawsuit
“The Catholic Diocese of Buffalo quietly paid $1.5 million in 2016 to a man who alleged a priest sexually abused him(link is external) when he was a teenager more than three decades ago. It was the diocese’s second financial settlement of a lawsuit alleging abuse by James A. Spielman, a former diocesan priest who served in at least six Western New York parishes and taught religion at Archbishop Walsh High School in Olean. The settlement is the largest that has come to light so far in the Buffalo Diocese for a clergy sex abuse case. The News found the case in a recent search of federal court records from Hawaii, where the lawsuit was filed.” By Jay Tokasz, Buffalo News
— Victims to Diocese of Buffalo on priest sex abuse: ‘secrecy must end(link is external),’ By Jane Kwiatkowski Radlich, Buffalo News

Minnesota law firm prods bishop on names of local priests accused of abuse
“A Minnesota law firm known for representing victims of clergy sexual abuse(link is external) is urging Bishop Richard J. Malone to release details about the extent of abuse in the Catholic Diocese of Buffalo, including identifying the names of accused priests … (Attorney J. Michael ) Reck will be in Buffalo Tuesday Mar. 13) to release a new report that identifies 13 priests in the Buffalo diocese who have been publicly accused of alleged sexual offenses against minors.” By Jay Tokasz, The Buffalo News

Despite Syracuse diocese claim, parishioners will help pay sex abuse victims’ settlements
“In announcing a program to compensate victims of clergy sexual abuse(link is external), Roman Catholic Diocese of Syracuse officials said payments to victims would not come from parishioners’ donations. Instead, they said, the money would come from the diocese’s general liability insurance fund. In reality, however, money collected from church members each Sunday will be used to help pay the victims. That’s because the diocese is self-insured. It doesn’t buy insurance from a third party like an insurance company.” By Patrick Lohmann, Syracuse.com

Priest followed two sex abuse victims from North Tonawanda to Atlanta
“When Janet and Frank Larango moved from North Tonawanda to an Atlanta suburb, they were happy the Catholic priest they considered part of their family(link is external) also made the move. The Rev. Stanley Idziak, who had celebrated Masses at Our Lady of Czestochowa parish in the 1960s and 1970s, arranged to have himself transferred in 1978 to the Larangos’ new parish 900 miles away. The Larangos did not suspect anything beyond friendship was motivating Idziak’s move.” By Lou Michel, The Buffalo News

PENNSYLVANIA

Ex-priest says a priest abused him as a teen in Erie
“James Faluszczak, now of Buffalo, said he testified about the abuse before a grand jury investigating the Catholic Diocese of Erie. A former northwestern Pennsylvania priest has provided a glimpse into a Pennsylvania grand jury’s investigation of the Catholic Diocese of Erie.James Faluszczak, who resigned from the active priesthood in the Erie diocese in 2014, said he testified before the grand jury about how a priest in Erie sexually abused him(link is external) when he was a teenager in the 1980s.” By Ed Palattella, GoErie.com

‘We named names’: Pennsylvania law didn’t cover child sex crime victims. That didn’t stop the D.A.
“The document she was about to present to the press was historic: More than 400 pages that described sex crimes against children(link is external) in horrendous, relentless detail. More than a decade later, activists credit the report for setting a precedent in Pennsylvania: This state — more than anywhere else in the nation — exposes the truth of child sexual abuse, even if convictions aren’t possible.” By Joel Shannon, York Daily Record

AUSTRALIA

Former church worker charged with abuse offenses
“A 79-year-old man has been charged with child sexual offenses(link is external) linked to incidents alleged to have happened while he was an employee of the Canberra-Goulburn Archdiocese almost 30 years ago. NSW Police will allege the man was performing an administrative role within the Archdiocese when he met the 15-year-old alleged victim.” By CathNews.com

Cardinal Pell committal hearing opened to the public
Cardinal George Pell’s committal hearing(link is external) in the Melbourne Magistrate’s Court has been opened to the public and the media (Mar. 14) for the first time since it began on March 5. The hearing has been closed up until yesterday to allow the complainants to give their evidence, which is standard practice in Victoria for cases involving sexual offence charges.” By CathNews.com

Archbishop Hart welcomes redress scheme
“The Church has welcomed two states signing on to a national redress scheme for survivors of child sexual abuse(link is external), despite claims by the Attorney-General that the Church is ‘making excuses’ about joining the scheme. In a major development, NSW and Victoria last week became the first states to sign up to the scheme, which would provide up to $150,000 in compensation to victims of child sex abuse.” By CathNews.com
— Church moves quickly to join redress scheme(link is external)By CathNews.com

NSW, Victoria sign up to redress scheme
“A national redress scheme for child sexual abuse survivors(link is external) is a step closer with NSW and Victoria signing up to an agreement that offers practical services and compensation of up to $150,000. Malcolm Turnbull will reveal the agreement with Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews and NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian today (Mar. 9), in an agreement that puts each state on the line for costs that will run to hundreds of millions of dollars over a decade.” By CathNews.com

GREAT BRITAIN, SCOTLAND & WALES

Fr. Seamus Reid connected to sex abuse at St. Coleman’s
“Fr Seamus Reid, who died in 2001, was not a teacher but did visit the school. In 2015 the Catholic Church confirmed that a catalogue of allegations(link is external) had been made against the priest. In February, it came to light that Fr. Malachy Finnegan, who taught at St Colman’s from 1967 to 1976, had sexually abused pupils.” By BBC News

Priest guilty of child sex abuse
“An 82-year-old Catholic priest has been convicted of sexually abusing three children(link is external)and a student priest in crimes spanning more than 20 years. Father Paul Moore committed the crimes in various locations in Ayrshire between 1977 and 1996. The court heard how he abused one boy at a school, another at a leisure center and a third on the beach at Irvine in the 1970s. He was also found guilty of indecently assaulting a student priest in 1995.” By BBC News

GUAM

Parties for 160 sex abuse lawsuits against clergy due in court
“Back in court this week (Mar. 17) will be parties for the 160 clergy sexual abuse lawsuits(link is external). Back in January, majority of counsels were in agreement on pre-mediation protocol and anticipated mediation to take place in June or earlier. Only one group of plaintiffs, those represented by attorney Anthony Perez, requested lifting the stay on those cases in the local court.” By Krystal Pace, KUAM-TV News

Guam Catholic Church seeks to rebuild after Vatican verdict
“After a Vatican tribunal convicted Archbishop Anthony S. Apuron and removed him from office(link is external), Catholics on Guam said this could be a turning point in the healing process of a church rocked by clergy sex abuse scandal. ‘I feel the healing will start. It will be a slow, slow process but it will happen,’ Tamuning resident Van Morada said as he and his family were about to attend Sunday Mass at Dulce Nombre De Maria Cathedral-Basilica in Hagåtña, the mother church on the island.” By Haidee Eugenio, Pacific Daily News

Priest abused boy to cleanse him of sin
“A new clergy sex abuse lawsuit(link is external) against the Archdiocese of Agana accuses deceased Rev. Ray Techaira of sexual abuse while Techaira was a priest serving at Niño Perdido y Sagrada Familia Catholic Church in Asan. J.M.R., of Dededo, filed a civil complaint filed with the District Court of Guam on Friday (Mar. 9) alleging he had been sexually abused by Techaira after asking questions about the Catholic faith during confirmation class in 1984.” By Mindy Augon, Guam Daily Post

IRELAND& NORTHERN IRELAND

Suspended sentence for former priest who abuse girl as she made first confession
“A west Cork priest sexually assaulted a little girl(link is external) throughout her First Confession, and yesterday (Mar. 16) the 79-year-old got a suspended jail term. Judge Sean Ó Donnabháin noted that the accused had served two previous jail sentences for similar crimes at this time and said that there was no point in re-committing him to jail at this point in his life.” By Liam Heylin, Evening Echo

Catholic bishops will cooperate with any abuse inquiry
“The Catholic bishops have said they will fully cooperate with any statutory inquiry into clerical child sexual abuse(link is external), following former President Mary McAleese’s call for a public inquiry into the Church’s response to child abuse allegations against Father Malachy Finnegan. Responding to McAleese’s call for a public inquiry into the Church’s response to child abuse allegations against Finnegan in the northern diocese of Dromore, a spokesman re-issued the bishop’s statement on child safeguarding published following last week’s regular Spring meeting of the hierarchy.” By Joe Little, RTE News

MEXICO

Archdiocese of Mexico backs sentence of priest jailed for abuse
“The Archdiocese of Mexico reaffirmed its commitment to fighting sexual abuse(link is external) and expressed its support for the 62-year jail sentence for a priest found guilty of abuse. The archdiocesan communications office issued a statement March 13 on the sentence imposed on the priest Carlos Lopez Valdés, who was found guilty of molesting Jesús Romero Colín several times between 1994 and 1998.” By Catholic News Service

17 Coahuila priests accused of abuse
(Mar. 10, 2018) “A man who describes himself as a survivor of sexual(link is external) abuse in the Catholic church has given church authorities a list of 17 priests whom he alleges are part of a ‘network of pedophiles.’ The first indication of sexual abuse in the diocese of Piedras Negras, Coahuila, was revealed when two men came forward and formally accused parish priest Juan Manuel Riojas of sexual assault. Close to 20 men of the cloth are now facing similar accusations.” By Mexico News Daily

SOUTH KOREA

South Korea’s Catholic Church forms sexual assault prevention body
“South Korea’s Catholic Church said Friday (Mar.9) it will form a special committee to fight sexual assault(link is external) within the church amid a controversy over a priest’s alleged attempt to rape a female volunteer worker in the past. The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Korea (CBCK) announced that it reached a decision to form a committee addressing sexual violence within the church at the conference’s five-day spring general meeting, which started on Monday (Mar. 5).” By Yonhap News Agency

, , , , ,

Leave a comment

Police search MIchigan bishop’s home, citing lack of cooperation in sex abuse investigation / Catholic News Agency

“Contrary to the statements of the diocese and the bishop that they would fully cooperate with law enforcement, they did not,” Saginaw County Assistant Prosecutor Mark Gaertner (Catholic News Agency)

On Thursday, police in Saginaw, Michigan raided the home of Bishop Joseph Cistone, as well as the diocesan chancery and its cathedral rectory, as part of an ongoing investigation into sex abuse allegations against several diocesan priests.

“CNA has reached out to the Diocese of Saginaw, Michigan for comment but did not receive a response by press time.

“Police told local media that they could not reveal what they were searching for or taking from the properties. However, authorities did say that the search warrants were due to a lack of cooperation on the part of the diocese related to an ongoing clerical sex abuse investigation.

“‘Contrary to the statements of the diocese and the bishop that they would fully cooperate with law enforcement, they did not,’ Saginaw County Assistant Prosecutor Mark Gaertner told local news source Michigan Live. ‘Therefore it was necessary for law enforcement to use other investigative tools, including search warrants.'”

By Mary Rezac, Catholic News Agency — Read more …

, , , , , , , , , ,

Leave a comment

Outraged Catholics say Australian church leaders are ‘locked in a misogynistic and unaccountable culture’ / Newcastle Herald

The failure so far of any decisive response in the way of systemic reform after the catastrophe of sex abuse by clergy has been the last straw for many committed Catholics who see their church leadership locked in a misogynistic and unaccountable culture. (Newcastle Herald)

Australian Catholic church leaders are ‘locked in a misogynistic and unaccountable culture’ that has failed to adequately respond to the child sexual abuse scandal and is denying the need for urgent reform, say Catholic groups meeting in Canberra on Friday (Mar. 23) to demand change.

“More than 50 leading Catholic reformists are expected to seek an urgent meeting with Australia’s bishops after a request to release the first formal church assessment of child abuse royal commission recommendations was declined last week by Melbourne Archbishop Denis Hart.

“The lack of a decisive response on systemic reform after the ‘catastrophe of sex abuse by clergy’ was ‘the last straw for many committed Catholics,’ said Australian Catholic Coalition for Church Reform in a statement on Thursday (Mar. 22).

“Coalition convenor Peter Johnstone said the Canberra meeting is a direct response to the bishops’ refusal to release a Truth Justice and Healing Council analysis of the royal commission’s findings and recommendations before a bishops’ conference in May. It was given to a senior church leaders group several weeks ago.”

By Joanne McCarthy, Newcastle Herald — Read more …

, , , , , , , , , , , ,

Leave a comment

Vatican sentences Guam archbishop accused of abuse to removal from office, exile / National Catholic Reporter

(Guam Archbishop Anthony) Apuron, a Guam native who had led the island’s only diocese since 1986, was placed on leave by Pope Francis in June 2016 after a series of accusations about abuse of young men in the 1960s and 70s were made public. (National Catholic Reporter)

A Vatican tribunal has found Guam Archbishop Anthony Apuron, who had been accused of sexually abusing young men decades ago, ‘guilty of certain of the accusations,’ imposing a penalty of removal from office and a prohibition from living on the U.S. island territory.

“A five-judge apostolic tribunal of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith announced its verdict in Apuron’s canonical case March 16 with a brief press release. The release did not specify of which exact acts the archbishop had been found guilty.

“‘The canonical trial in the matter of accusations, including accusations of sexual abuse of minors … has been concluded,’ states the release. ‘The Apostolic Tribunal … has issued its sentence of first instance, finding the accused guilty of certain of the accusations and imposing upon the accused the penalties of privation of office and prohibition of residence in the Archdiocese of Guam.’

“Apuron, a Guam native who had led the island’s only diocese since 1986, was placed on leave by Pope Francis in June 2016 after a series of accusations about abuse of young men in the 1960s and 70s were made public.

“Francis named an apostolic administrator to run the archdiocese for several months and then named Coadjutor Archbishop Michael Byrnes, a former auxiliary bishop of Detroit, to take over.”

By Joshua J. McElwee, National Catholic Reporter — Read more …

, , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Leave a comment

Voice of the Faithful “Focus” News Roundup

TOP STORIES

Cardinal to face Australian court on sex abuse charges
“The alleged victims of the most senior Vatican official ever charged(link is external) in the Catholic Church sex abuse crisis began giving secret evidence to an Australian court on Monday (Mar. 5). Australian Cardinal George Pell wore his clerical collar for the first day of the hearing in the Melbourne Magistrate Court to determine whether prosecutors have sufficient evidence to put him on trial. The committal hearing is scheduled to take up to a month.” By Rod McGuirk, Associated Press, in The Boston Globe

Irish bishop resigns after criticism of his treatment of abusive priest
“An Irish bishop announced his resignation(link is external) March 1 after increased criticism over how he dealt with revelations of an abusive priest. Bishop John McAreavey of Dromore was criticized in a program on BBC Northern Ireland Feb. 28, after it emerged that he concelebrated a parish anniversary Mass in 2000 with a priest he knew had stepped down after being sent for treatment following complaints of abuse.” By Michael Kelly, Catholic News Service, on Cruxnow.com

Bishop at heart of abuse cover-up claims testifies in Chile
“The Chilean bishop accused of covering up sex abuse(link is external) by a pedophile priest has testified before a Vatican mission looking into the allegations, a priest involved in the interviews said Friday (Feb. 23). Bishop Juan Barros has been among those interviewed by the team, said Father Jordi Bertomeu, who has been handling recent interviews in the investigation. But he did not say when the interview occurred, or whether Barros appeared voluntarily or was summoned.” By Associated Press on Cruxnow.com

Former papal advisor says Francis need to make sex abuse a priority
“A former member of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors has charged that Pope Francis is not making the fight against sexual abuse a priority(link is external), and expressed her frustration with the procedures and limitations of the group, which she said led her to hand in her resignation last year …French child psychiatrist Catherine Bonnet said she tendered her resignation letter in June to Cardinal Sean O’Malley of Boston, a member of the C9 group that advises the pope and the president of the commission, after she failed to convince the majority of its members to enact changes she perceived as necessary.” By Claire Giangrave, Cruxnow.com

ACCOUNTABILITY

The shocking case that shows how far the Vatican has to go in child protection
“We canon lawyers, unfortunately, spend a lot of time dealing with tragic, disturbing, sometimes appalling situations. It’s all too easy to become inured. But even among canonists who routinely deal with cases of child sexual abuse, the news that Mgr Pietro Amenta, a senior Vatican judge, has been convicted of possessing child pornography(link is external) is shocking.” By Ed Condon, Catholic Herald

St. Cloud Diocese to declare bankruptcy after sex abuse claims
“The Catholic Diocese of St. Cloud will become the fourth Minnesota Catholic institution to declare bankruptcy following a flood of clergy sex abuse claims(link is external). Its announcement reinforced Minnesota’s position as the state with the largest number of bankruptcies related to clergy sex abuse. It follows dioceses in New Ulm and Duluth, as well as the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis, which filed for Chapter 11 in 2015.” By Jean Hopfensperger, Star Tribune

Vatican inspector meets bishop mired in child abuse case
“A Vatican investigator sent to Chile(link is external) by Pope Francis to interview sex abuse victims met on Friday (Feb. 23) with Chilean Bishop Juan Barros about accusations that he covered-up sexual abuse of minors committed by a priest. The investigator, Spanish priest Jordi Bertomeu, declined to share details of the interview with Barros, but told reporters the meeting was ‘cordial and friendly.’” By TelesurTV.net

Santiago sex abuse victims ask Vatican to investigate another case
“A group of people who say they were sexually abused by members of the Marist Brothers congregation(link is external) in Santiago asked on Thursday (Feb. 22) that their cases be considered by Vatican representatives who are in Chile to investigate other abuse claims. The group’s spokesman, Isaac Givovich, has requested a meeting with Archbishop Charles Scicluna, a Vatican envoy who traveled to Santiago to meet with witnesses accusing a bishop of covering up the sexual abuse of minors by a priest.” By Antonio de la Jara, U.S. News & World Report

Vatican sex crimes investigator meets Chile Marist victims
“The Vatican’s sex crimes investigator interviewed several victims(link is external) of sexually abusive members of the Marist Brothers religious order Tuesday (Feb. 27), suggesting that his mandate has expanded beyond investigating alleged abuse cover-up by a lone Chilean bishop. Archbishop Charles Scicluna, tasked by Pope Francis with investigating Bishop Juan Barros, was forced to extend his trip in Chile by several days after having undergone emergency gall bladder surgery. He and his colleague from the Vatican, Father Jordi Bertomeu, have taken advantage of the extra time to add more interviews, including with victims of the Marist Brothers.” By Patricia Luna, Cruxnow.com

POPE FRANCIS

Pope Francis still highly regarded in U.S., but signs of disenchantment emergy
Five years into Francis’ papacy(link is external), the vast majority of U.S. Catholics continue to have a favorable opinion of the Argentinian pontiff, and most say he represents a major – and positive – change for the Roman Catholic Church. At the same time, a new Pew Research Center survey finds signs of growing discontent with Francis among Catholics on the political right, with increasing shares of Catholic Republicans saying they view Francis unfavorably, and that they think he is too liberal and naïve.” By Pew Research Center: Religion & Public Life

Pope Francis and reform: clergy sexual abuse
“Pope Francis was elected largely on the basis of reforming the Church’s handling of clerical sex abuse(link is external) and streamlining a Vatican beset with financial scandals, bureaucratic inefficiency and waste. So as the Holy Father approaches the fifth anniversary of his pontificate, how has he fared in these areas? When it comes to reforming the Vatican’s handling of clerical sex abuse, the verdict is mixed.” By Edward Pentin, National Catholic Register

Reflections on Francis and the deconstruction of the ‘Imperial Papacy’
“Sometimes ideas arrive fully formed, springing like Athena from the head of Zeus, but other times they’re more of a slow burn, requiring multiple pieces of the picture to fall into place before they really take shape. I’ve been working on one of those slow burn ideas recently, to wit: As we near the five-year anniversary of Francis’s election(link is external) to the papacy next month, it’s becoming steadily clearer that a core aspect of his legacy may be a deconstruction of the strong ‘imperial papacy’ many observers believe has taken shape over the last century or so.” By John L. Allen, Jr., Cruxnow.com

Five years into Pope Francis’ papacy, there is much more noise to be made
“Three years ago this March, Pope Francis made a startling observation during an interview with the Mexican media company Televisa: ‘I have the sense that my pontificate will be brief: four or five years.’ Since two years had already passed since his election on March 13, 2013, Francis’ offhand remark seemed to put an unexpectedly short timeline on his papacy. We now mark five years of Francis’ pontificate(link is external). The editors of America wish him many more. ‘Hagan lio,’ he told a crowd of millions at World Youth Day in Rio de Janeiro in 2013, ‘Make some noise,’ and there is no question that this pontificate has done just that.” Editorial in America: The Jesuit Review

One key to understanding Pope Francis? His approach to judgment
“For good or ill, a single sound bite sometimes sums up the essence of an entire papacy(link is external) … Those sound bites help us understand the priorities and personalities of the popes, and while it’s perhaps too early to speculate which sound bite will ultimately define Pope Francis, it’s hard to imagine anything coming close to a question he asked in 2013: “Who am I to judge?” … It was a simple question that nonetheless would go on to define the papacy of a pastor whom the world was just getting to know.” By Michael J. O’Loughlin, America: The Jesuit Review

Leading Vatican observer claims ‘Francis revolution almost over’
“Massimo Franco, the political editor of Corriere della Sera and widely respected commentator on the Vatican, said this week (Wednesday, Feb. 21) that he believes the ‘revolutionary appeal of Pope Francis is almost over(link is external).’ Speaking without reporting restrictions at London’s Chatham House, the Royal Institute of International Affairs independent think tank, he contrasted the expectations of reform that followed Jorge Bergoglio’s election in 2013 with the actual results five years on. Referring to Francis’ remark in his annual Christmas speech to the curia on 21 December last year, that reforming the Vatican is like ‘cleaning the Sphinx with a toothbrush,’ he said that this comment was an indication of Francis’ powerlessness.” By James Roberts, The Tablet

WOMEN RELIGIOUS

Vatican magazine denounces nuns’ servitude
“A Vatican magazine has denounced how nuns are often treated like indentured servants(link is external) by cardinals and bishops, for whom they cook and clean for next to no pay. The March edition of ‘Women Church World,’ the monthly women’s magazine of the Vatican newspaper L’Osservatore Romano, hit newsstands Thursday (Mar. 1). Its expose on the underpaid labor and unappreciated intellect of religious sisters confirmed that the magazine is increasingly becoming the imprint of the Catholic Church’s #MeToo movement.” By Nicole Winfield, Associated Press, in the Sacramento Bee

PONTIFICAL COMMISSION FOR THE PROTECTION OF MINORS

Abuse commission needs working time with Pope Francis, former member says
“Pope Francis’ clergy sexual abuse commission could be more effective in protecting children(link is external) if the group were granted more time to work directly with the pope and given resources to hold more in-person meetings each year, a former member has suggested. French child psychiatrist Catherine Bonnet, who was among a group of six founding members of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors not reappointed by Francis last month, said the ‘most important thing’ is that the group does not have adequate time to explain its proposals directly to the pontiff.” By Joshua J. McElwee, National Catholic Reporter

Papal adviser on sex abuse wants Church to offer experience to the world
“A Vatican commission created by Pope Francis to advise him on the fight against sexual abuse(link is external) now is looking to repair its relationship with victims and to ‘go forward’ in order to lend its expertise and resources to the outside world, according to a recently appointed member. Last week (Feb. 17), the Vatican announced that Francis had confirmed seven members of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors and appointed nine new members, some of whom are former victims of sexual abuse.” By Claire Giangrave, Cruxnow.com

Member of Pope’s anti-abuse panel insists, ‘the church is not failing’
“In a Feb. 20 Crux interview, Kettelkamp also insisted that ‘the Church is not failing’ when it comes to the effort to prevent sexual abuse(link is external). ‘Sometimes, people just love for the Catholic Church to fail,’ she said. ‘The Church is not failing on this issue, the Church is aggressively addressing it … maybe not as fast as other people would want to see done, but it’s a change in culture, in a lot of cultures … People who want things to change faster are not realistic about how things change.’” By John L. Allen, Jr., and Ines San Martin, Cruxnow.com

Trust in the Catholic Church has been ‘broken,’ says top nun
“The Church has to change a ‘deep-seated culture’(link is external) that resists transparency and accountability when dealing with clerical sexual abuse, according to one of the new members of Pope Francis’ child protection body. Sister Jane Bertelsen, named last week to the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, told The Tablet that this culture has been around for centuries and that the Pope had made attempts to change it. ‘We have to restore credibility. Trust has been broken. And we have got to keep trying to restore that credibility, with truth-seeking, compassionate listening and in whatever way we can,’ she said.” By The Tablet

CELIBACY& MARRIED PRIESTS

Celibacy revisited
“Writing in the first person is always a risk, but the subject matter of this column is best done, I feel, through personal testimony. In a world where chastity and celibacy are seen as naïve(link is external) and to be pitied and where there’s a general skepticism that anyone is actually living them out, personal testimony is perhaps the most effective protest.” By Fr. Ronald Rolheiser

Catholic Church considers married priests to ease Amazon clergy shortage
“In the remote Brazilian town of Tabatinga, João Souza da Silva helped construct the Roman Catholic church where he got married 31 years ago, a wedding that officially ended his boyhood dream of becoming a priest(link is external). He may get a second chance, as Catholic leaders in the vast Amazon basin consider whether the church should let married men become priests in certain cases. The issue is likely to be discussed at a gathering of bishops Pope Francis has called for next year about the church in the Amazon.” By Luciana Magalhaes and Francis Rocca, The Wall Street Journal

WOMEN DEACONS

What’s the problem with women deacons? Nothing, says this scholar of women’s ordination in the early church
“At least 25 years ago the late Archbishop of New York Cardinal John O’Connor told me there were secret discussions in Rome about restoring women to the ordained diaconate(link is external). The problem, he said, was that they could not figure out how to ordain women as deacons and not as priests. The confusion remains. One priest, a convert to Catholicism, wrote me recently: ‘It seems somewhat disingenuous for an expert in women’s ordination to the diaconate to then insist that there is no connection with women priests.’”By Phyllis Zagano, U.S. Catholic

WOMEN IN THE CHURCH

Signs suggesting a turning point for the role of women in the Church
“While tensions over women in the Church have been a constant in Catholic life for a long time, recent signs suggest a turning point may be looming(link is external), with conferences, assemblies and media outlets both within and outside the Vatican speaking up in a new way about perceived injustices. Women meeting at a Voices of Faith conference this week (Mar. 8) in Rome, for instance, are saying the ‘Church is at a very important crossroads.’” By Claire Giangrave, Cruxnow.com

Christ reduced to ‘misogynistic’ figure by church leaders, McAleese says
“Former president Mary McAleese has said she fears the Catholic Church’s hierarchy has ‘reduced Christ to this rather unattractive politician who is just misogynistic and homophobic and anti-abortion’ … and criticized ‘the patronizing platitudes that women have heard from a succession of popes and cardinals(link is external)’ … Ms McAleese also said Pope Francis should visit Newry, Co Down, if he comes to Ireland next August, in the wake of clerical child sex abuse revelations there which led to the recent resignation of the Bishop of Dromore.” By Patsy McGarry, The Irish Times

Thoughts on women in ministry, in a bit more than two sentences
“One wedding and two children ago, I seriously considered becoming a priest(link is external). I looked into two orders and my home diocese, as well as the archdiocese I was living in at the time. Things progressed far enough with one of those entities that I received — and for some reason still have — the application materials for acceptance into the seminary … And so, on this the start of Women’s History Month, I thought I’d finally answer one of those questions, and perhaps you the reader would like to join me …” By Mark Piper, National Catholic Reporter

FUTURE OF THE CHURCH

Where are the millennial Catholic activists
“Looking back on the ‘Catholic Day of Action to Protect Dreamers’ in late February—when dozens of Catholics, many of them members of religious orders, were arrested while demonstrating in support of undocumented people(link is external) who were brought to the United States as children—it was difficult for me not to notice something striking: the average age of the protestors. Perhaps it was because so many of the photos were taken from above, capturing the gray- and white-haired heads of peaceful protesters in concentric circles flanked by the Capitol police officers who would later arrest them.” By Colleen Dulle, America: The Jesuit Review

A wake up call to liberal theologians: academic theology needs the church as much as the church needs theology
“The estrangement between academic theology and the institutional Church is one reason many younger Catholics are now turning to neo-traditionalist circles(link is external) for instruction. A new generation is re-examining what’s happened in the church since the 1960s and reacting against the theology that came out of the Second Vatican Council. Some younger Catholics are also questioning the legitimacy of the secular, pluralistic state. This is why the concerns of academic theology are no longer merely academic.” By Massimo Faggioli, Commonweal

Pittsburgh Catholic diocese calls for more deacons as reorganization approaches
“By day, he’s a the chief clerk of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court in Pittsburgh, but after hours and on weekends, John Vaskov has been called to be something else — a deacon in the Catholic Church. ‘It is a call to serve the church and serve the people(link is external),’ says Vaskov. And Bishop David Zubik wants to find more like him, requesting his priests to nominate men in their parishes for a deacon-in-training program.” By Andy Sheehan, Pittsburgh,CBSLocal.com

“AMORIS LAETITIA”

Cardinal lays out plan for parishes to implement Amoris Laetitia
“Cardinal Donald Wuerl has issued a broad and detailed pastoral plan for parishes to implement Pope Francis’s post-synodal apostolic exhortation, Amoris Laetitia (‘The Joy of Love’). ‘Amoris Laetitia is a call to compassionate accompaniment(link is external) in helping all to experience Christ’s love and mercy,’ the Archbishop of Washington said in the 58-page pastoral plan.” By Catholic Herald

World Meeting of Families’ congress to center on ‘Amoris Laetitia’
“Some of the church’s best-known prelates have been lined up to expound on church teachings on the family for the ninth World Meeting of Families(link is external). On Feb. 28, organizers of the international gathering, to be held in Dublin Aug. 21-26, unveiled the preliminary program for the Pastoral Congress, Aug. 22-24 … The Vatican has not confirmed that Pope Francis will attend.” By Sarah Mac Donald, Catholic News Service, on CatholicPhilly.com

Understanding ‘Amoris Laetitia’
“University President William P. Leahy, S.J., welcomed 15 U.S. Catholic bishops to Boston College on February 19 for a daylong seminar designed to help them better understand and implement Amoris Laetitia(link is external) (‘The Joy of Love’), Pope Francis’ 2016 apostolic exhortation on the family. The event was the first of three—held on separate days at Boston College, the University of Notre Dame, and Santa Clara University—organized by BC Jesuit Institute Director and Canisius Professor of Theology James F. Keenan, S.J., with Chicago Archbishop Cardinal Blase Cupich and Vatican Prefect Cardinal Kevin Farrell.” By Boston College News

VOICES

Law, politics and media make abuse scandals different in U.S. than Chile
(Mar. 2, 2018) “As Archbishop Charles Scicluna of Malta returns from his on-the-ground investigation of alleged sex abuse cover-up by Bishop Juan Barros of the Chilean diocese of Osorno, some American Catholics have likened this latest chapter of the Church’s clerical sex abuse scandals to post-traumatic stress disorder(link is external) … It’s not clear there would be a major contrast between America and anywhere else in a case in which the accusation against a bishop is not abuse itself, but cover-up. However, fundamental differences between the U.S. and much of the rest of the world in terms of legal, political, and media pressures suggest that something like the Barros saga would, nevertheless, play out differently.” By Christopher White, Cruxnow.com

COUNCIL OF CARDINALS

Vatican studying ways to speed up sexual abuse cases
“The topic was a main point of discussion in three days of meetings between the pope and a group of nine cardinals from the around the world who gather four times a year at the Vatican to discuss reform, Church finances and other issues. Vatican spokesman Greg Burke said they had discussed ‘various options’ to shorten procedures in cases of abuse(link is external). They are currently handled by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF), the Vatican’s doctrinal department.” By Philip Pullella, Reuters

CHURCH FINANCES

Houston woman sentenced for defrauding Catholic mission
“A 38-year-old Houston woman has been sentenced to 41 months in federal prison after pleading guilty to defrauding more than $1.1 million from a Catholic mission(link is external) that supports schools in Mexico and Colombia.U.S. District Judge Nancy Atlas also placed Rosina Blanco on probation for three years following her prison term and ordered her Monday (Mar. 5) to repay the more than $1.1 million as restitution.” By Associated Press in U.S. News & World Report

Ex-head of Vatican Bank sent to trial on embezzlement charge
“A former president of the Vatican Bank has been ordered to stand trial on charges of embezzlement and money laundering(link is external), the Vatican said, the highest ranking Holy See financial official to be indicted. A statement by the bank, officially known as the Institute for Works of Religion (IOR), said the former president’s legal counsel was also indicted … It said damages had been estimated to be more than 50 million euro and that the IOR would be seeking compensation for damages. The trial is due to start on March 15.” By Philip Pullella, Reuters, in U.S. News & World Report

STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS REFORM

Abuse survivors push to change New York statute of limitations
“After three metro area dioceses offered programs to compensate victims of church sex abuse, Brian Toale was one of those who applied. Toale describes a horrific series of events in the early 1970s when, he wrote, as a student at Chaminade High School in Mineola, Long Island, New York, he was systematically groomed and abused(link is external) by the Marianist school’s radio club moderator.” By Peter Feuerherd, National Catholic Reporter

CLERGY CHILD SEXUAL ABUSE

Chileans lose faith as Vatican scrambles to contain sex abuse scandal
“Providencia is home to El Bosque, the former parish of priest Fernando Karadima, who was found guilty in a Vatican investigation in 2011 of abusing teenage boys over many years(link is external), spurring a chain of events leading to this week’s visit by a Vatican investigator. A Chilean judge in the same year determined the Vatican’s canonical sentence was valid but Karadima was not prosecuted by the civil justice system because the statute of limitations had expired.” By Cassandra Garrison, Reuters

Catholic priest sex abuse isn’t new. Diocese bankruptcies started in the Northwest
“It started in Portland. The Catholic Church there — as similar allegations spread worldwide — faced accusation after accusation of child sexual abuse by clergy(link is external). Then the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Portland reached financial strain it could no longer withstand … It became the first diocese in the country to declare bankruptcy due to sexual abuse cases … Since then, the 15 dioceses nationwide that have declared bankruptcy have paid out a total of about $542.6 million in settlements to victims, though not all of the cases are closed.” By Michael Katz, Idaho Statesman

CALIFORNIA

Presentation High: new independent office to handle sex abuse complaints
“A prominent San Jose Catholic girls high school, rocked by accusations that it failed for years to report sexual misconduct complaints(link is external) against teachers and staff, announced Tuesday (Feb. 20) it will create a new independent office to handle such claims from students in the future. The announcement came after Presentation High School officials spent months insisting they’ve had sound policies in place for protecting students from sexual harassment or abuse and properly handled complaints brought to their attention.” By John Woolfolk, The Mercury News

IDAHO

Retired Boise priest accused of crimes must leave diocese house. Where will he go?
“It took four attempts to hand-deliver the eviction notice, but the Rev. W. Thomas Faucher received official word Feb. 13 that he must move out of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Boise house that he leases by mid-April, according to the priest who delivered it … The move to evict the 72-year-old priest came on the heels of his Feb. 2 arrest on child porn and drug possession charges(link is external).” By Katy Moeller, Idaho Statesman

MARYLAND

Did some nuns, teachers know of child sex abuse in Baltimore Catholic schools
“For some time now, WJZ has been investigating a dirty secret: child sex abuse at the hands of priests(link is external), police and a teacher back in the 1960s and 1970s. Many asked how it was possible that no one noticed. Multiple sources have told WJZ’s Denise Koch that many people, including some nuns in positions of authority, did know about the abuse but instead of reporting it, they looked the other way.” By Denise Koch, CBS News Baltimore

MICHIGAN

Police hear from dozens more potential victims in priest sex abuse case
“A Saginaw County District Court judge formally charged Father Robert DeLand, Jr. Monday (Feb. 26) with three crimes. The most serious is second degree criminal sexual conduct(link is external), a 15 year felony. Tittabawassee Township Police Detective Brian Berg told ABC12 dozens of people have come forward since the public learned of DeLand’s arrest.” By ABC12 News

MINNESOTA

Twin Cities archdiocese backruptcy drags on, taking a toll on all parties involved
“David Lind has waited three years for justice. But the bankruptcy of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis still drags on — entering its fourth year with no settlement in sight and no relief for Lind and more than 400 other men and women who claim they were abused by local priests(link is external) when they were children and teenagers. The case is now on track to be one of the longest archdiocese bankruptcies in the nation, and the protracted dispute is placing mounting strains on all parties involved.” By Jean Hopfensperger, Star Tribune

NEW JERSEY

Middlesex priest accused of sex abuse
“The pastor of Our Lady of Mount Virgin Parish has been accused of sexual abuse by three people(link is external) when they were minors more than 30 years ago, Diocese of Metuchen Bishop James F. Checchio said in a letter to parishioners Sunday (Feb. 25). Checchio said the Rev. Patrick J. Kuffner is on a leave of absence and the Rev. David Skoblow will serve as temporary administrator of the parish.” By Suzanne Russell, MyCentralJersey.com

NEW YORK

Bishop Malone: ‘We’re are so very, very sorry for the pain of abuse’
“Days after a retired priest admitted sexually abusing ‘probably dozens’ of teenage boys(link is external), the Catholic Diocese of Buffalo on Thursday (Mar. 1) said it was taking steps to compensate other victims while attempting to address the pain its inaction has caused. During an afternoon news conference at the Catholic Center downtown, officials announced the creation of a fund to settle claims of alleged sex abuse against clergy in the diocese, a move officials said promotes healing and would offer closure to victims.” By Aaron Besecker, The Buffalo News

Diocese of Ogdensburg to offer compensation to those alleging they were abused by north country clergy while minors
“The Diocese of Ogdensburg is allowing an independent, two-person panel to determine whether financial compensation will be given to those alleging sexual abuse as children(link is external) at the hands of Catholic clergy across the north country … Catholic officials in Ogdensburg said Thursday (Mar. 1) that the Diocese of Northern New York has established an ‘Independent Reconciliation and Compensation Program’ to assist victims of clergy sex abuse.” By Larry Robinson, Watertown Daily Times

Advocate: many stories of sexual abuse by priests yet to be told
“For the past 22 years, Judith Burns-Quinn has listened to the shocking and heartbreaking stories of people who were sexually abused by priests(link is external). Most of them, she said, are adult men who were molested as young boys and teenagers. ‘Every victim I’ve talked to has their own story, but for every one, the experience of being molested by a priest has had a profound impact on their life,’ said Burns-Quinn, 74.” By Dan Herbeck, Buffalo News

Man says he was abused as teen by Buffalo-area priest
“A South Buffalo man is alleging he was sexually abused by a Buffalo-area Catholic priest(link is external) when he was a teenager nearly 40 years ago. Michael F. Whalen Jr., 52, said the alleged abuse occurred during a weekend ski trip south of Buffalo in 1979 or 1980 when he was about 14 years old. Whalen named the Rev. Norbert F. Orsolits as his abuser. The Diocese of Buffalo on Tuesday (Feb. 27) would not answer specific questions about the allegations made against Orsolits, but said in a written statement that he was removed from the ministry in 2003.” By Aaron Besecker, Buffalo News

Defrocked Long Island priest, sex offender found dead in Saratoga jail
“A former Long Island Catholic priest and convicted sex offender was found dead in his Saratoga County jail cell after an apparent suicide on Tuesday (Feb. 27), just days before he was to be sentenced to state prison for molesting a child(link is external). Michael L. Hands, 51, admitted in September to twice molesting a child younger than 17 in July in Charlton.” By Steve Hughes, Times Union

PENNSYLVANIA

Hollidaysburg woman protests on anniversary of Kane report
“Rosalind Merritts, a retired nurse from Hollidaysburg, stood Thursday (Mar. 1) on the front lawn of the Altoona-Johnstown Roman Catholic Diocese, displaying photos of children allegedly abused by priests(link is external) and hoping to catch the attention of motorists along busy Logan Boulevard. Despite a driving rain and a bleak sky, motorists were able to spot Merritts, clad in a long, bright yellow rain coat and carrying a large sign bearing the inscription, ‘PROTEST.’” By Phil Ray, Altoona Mirror

TEXAS

Former Catholic priest sentenced to 60 years for raping 13-year-old girl
“A former Roman Catholic priest has been sentenced to 60 years in prison after being convicted in Texas of raping a teenager(link is external) in 2011. Jurors on Thursday (Mar. 1) convicted 61-year-old Stephen Tarleton Dougherty of aggravated sexual assault. He was then sentenced. Another jury in 2017 deadlocked on the charge.” By Associated Press on WFLA.com

AUSTRALIA

Survivors will soon be able to sue Catholic Church under new law
“Victoria will abolish the so-called Ellis defense, an ‘unfair legal loophole’ which has prevented child sexual abuse survivors(link is external) from suing organizations like the Catholic Church. Under proposed laws introduced to parliament on Tuesday (Mar. 6), unincorporated associations such as churches, would have to nominate an entity able to pay damages.” By Georgie Moore, The Courier

Child sex abuse commissioner hits out at lawyers who attack victim credibility
“One of the six commissioners who oversaw the landmark child sexual abuse royal commission has criticized defense lawyers who ‘mischievously’ attack the credibility of abuse victims(link is external). Robert Fitzgerald said that the country’s criminal justice system has previously favored alleged abusers, and even today ‘the pendulum has barely moved.’ He criticized defense lawyers for attacking the credibility of survivors over the length of time they took to report abuse.” By Australian Associated Press in The Guardian

Cardinal Pell’s barrister: loud, socially progressive and an avowed atheist
“Robert Richter is not the obvious choice to defend Catholic Cardinal George Pell(link is external)against historical sex charges. But the celebrity silk’s reputation for skewering witnesses – and winning cases – has delivered him the most high-profile case in his long and storied career.” By Tim Elliott, The Sydney Morning Herald

Senior Catholic leader faces sex abuse accusers via video link
“The most senior Catholic Church leader to be charged with sexual abuse(link is external) came close to confronting his accusers on Monday (Mar. 5) in a video-linked Australian court hearing to test the strength of the prosecution’s case. Cardinal George Pell’s alleged victims began testifying in the Melbourne Magistrates Court against Pope Francis’ former finance minister in testimony that cannot be made public.” By CBS News

CHILE

Sex abuse at Chilean church school was an unending ‘perverse game’
Sexual abuse at the hands of priests(link is external) marked the childhood of Jaime Concha since the day when, at age 10, he entered a school run by the Marist Brothers religious order in Santiago. He is now 55 years old and a doctor. After all these years, his case is one of the dozens finally being investigated by the Catholic Church in Chile — a church rocked by the scale of a sex-abuse scandal that tainted the recent visit of Pope Francis. Concha told AFP his treatment at the hands of the Marist Brothers was like ‘an everlasting perverse game.’” By The Sun Daily

Chileans lose faith as Vatican scrambles to contain sex abuse scandal
“To understand why Chile, one of Latin America’s most socially conservative nations, is losing faith in the Roman Catholic Church, visit Providencia, a middle-class area of Santiago coming to terms with a decades-old clergy sex abuse scandal(link is external). Providencia is home to El Bosque, the former parish of priest Fernando Karadima, who was found guilty in a Vatican investigation in 2011 of abusing teenage boys over many years, spurring a chain of events leading to this week’s visit by a Vatican investigator.” By Cassandra Garrison, Reuters, in U.S. News & World Report

GERMANY

German ex-priest convicted of sexually abusing boys
“A court in southeastern Germany has sentenced a former Catholic priest to 8 ½ years in prison for child sex abuse(link is external). The regional court in Deggendorf, about 100 kilometers (62 miles) northeast of Munich, found the defendant guilty Thursday (Feb. 22) of abusing five boys on more than 100 occasions since the mid-1990s. He was also convicted of bodily harm, forging documents and possessing child pornography.” By Associated Press in The Washington Post

GUAM

Former Capuchin brother wants clergy sex abuse claims dismissed, accusers object
“Former Capuchin brother Vernon T. Kamiaz has asked the federal court to dismiss three clergy sex abuse claims(link is external) filed against him over failure to timely serve him with the summons and complaints. His accusers separately said the service of process on Kamiaz was timely.” By Haidee Eugenio, Pacific Daily News

Island bishop accused in two Guam clergy sex abuse cases dies
“Saipan’s Bishop EmeritusTomas A. Camacho, one of several Catholic clergy members accused of sexually abusing altar boys(link is external) on Guam, died Monday (Mar. 5) after a long illness, church leaders said.Camacho was 84 and had been Saipan’s highest-ranking Catholic Church leader for some 25 years, from 1984 until his retirement in April 2010, according to Father James Balajadia of the Diocese of Chalan Kanoa in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands.” By Haidee Eugenio, Pacific Daily News, on THV11.com

Counseling for clergy sex abuse accusers continues
“Professional counseling services continue for victims of clergy sex abuse(link is external), nearly a year since the Archdiocese of Agana created Hope and Healing Guam in April 2017 amid efforts to try to settle clergy abuse lawsuits. Hope and Healing’s mission to provide counseling, treatment and spiritual healing doesn’t overlap or duplicate the work of the attorneys representing the archdiocese in the clergy sex abuse cases, said Andrew Camacho,the organization’s president.” By Haidee Eugenio, Pacific Daily News

IRELAND & NORTHERN IRELAND

Survivors of Catholic Church abuse in Ireland demand papal meeting
Survivors of sexual and physical abuse(link is external) in schools run by the Catholic church in Ireland have demanded a meeting with Pope Francisduring his visit to the country in the summer to discuss compensation.The Irish Catholic church has invited the pontiff to a religious conference in August. It will be the first papal visit to Irelandsince John Paul II’s tour in 1979.” By Henry Mcdonald, The Guardian

Lawyers and rights groups call for clerical abuse inquiry
“Lawyers and human rights groups have called for a public inquiry into allegations of clerical child sex abuse(link is external) in Northern Ireland. Amnesty International said recent revelations of abuse by Father Malachy Finnegan, former president of St Colman’s College in Newry, strengthened the case for an inquiry.” By IrishLegalNews.com

County Down GAA club urged any victims of pedophile priest Malachy Finnegan to come forward
“A CO Down GAA club has urged any victims of abuse by pedophile priest(link is external) Malachy Finnegan to come forward. Clonduff GAC in Hilltown said anyone affected by the actions of Finnegan, a former president of the club, should ‘bring this to the attention of the PSNI.’ It comes as it was revealed that parents at four Co Down primary schools have said they do not want the Bishop of Dromore, Dr John McAreavey to officiate at their children’s confirmation after he said Requiem Mass for Finnegan.” By Suzanne McGonagle, The Irish News

Priest guilty of sexually assaulting schoolboy 36 years ago
“The jury of nine men and three women returned to Courtroom one at the courthouse on Washington St, Cork, before 3 p.m. with their unanimous guilty verdict. The 74-year-old priest had denied indecently assaulting the boy at a sch(link is external)ool in Co Cork early in the 1980s. Tadgh O’Dalaigh was convicted yesterday at Cork Circuit Criminal Court on a charge of indecently assaulting the boy on an unknown date between Sept. 1, 1980, and Jan. 28, 1981 at the Sacred Heart college, also known as Coláiste An Chroí Naofa, Carraig Na Bhfear, Co Cork.” By Liam Heylin, Irish Examiner

NEW ZEALAND

New Zealand PM urged to expand royal commission over St. John of God child-sex abuse
Australian victims of notorious St John of God Brother Bernard McGrath(link is external) have urged New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern to include churches in a child abuse royal commission after McGrath’s fight against extradition from New Zealand stopped the Australian royal commission from a public inquiry into the Catholic order.” By Joanne McCarthy, The Sydney Morning Herald

, , , , ,

Leave a comment

Over five years, Pope produces major shift in church culture / Associated Press in The Boston Globe

Francis’ first five years have been an introduction to a new kind of pope, one who prizes straight talk over theology, and mercy over moral discussion — all for the sake of making the church a more welcoming place for those who have felt excluded. (Associated Press in The Boston Globe)

Whenever Pope Francis visits prisons, during his whirlwind trips to the world’s peripheries or at a nearby jailhouse in Rome, he always tells inmates that he, too, could have ended up behind bars: ‘Why you and not me?’ he asks.

“That humble empathy and the ease with which he walks in others’ shoes has won Francis admirers around the globe and confirmed his place as a consummate champion of the poor and disenfranchised.

“As he marks the fifth anniversary of his election Tuesday Mar. 13), Francis still faces criticism for both the merciful causes he has embraced and the ones he has neglected.

By Nicole Winfield, Associated Press, in The Boston Globe — Read more …

, , , , ,

Leave a comment