Voice of the Faithful

Voice of the Faithful is a worldwide movement of mainstream Roman Catholics working to provide a prayerful voice, attentive to the Spirit, through which the faithful can actively participate in the governance and guidance of the Catholic Church. VOTF has three goals: to support survivors of clergy sexual abuse, support priests of integrity and shape structural change within the Church.

Homepage: https://voicefaithful.wordpress.com

Voice of the Faithful “Focus” News Roundup

TOP STORIES

Cardinal Pell, top advisor to Pope Francis, found guilty of ‘historical sexual offenses’
“An Australian jury has found Cardinal George Pell, 77, guilty on five charges of ‘historical child sexual offenses(link is external)’ that go back decades, according to various media reports and confirmed by America. The 12-member jury gave their unanimous verdict in the County Court of the State of Victoria in Melbourne on Tuesday, Dec. 11. The judge decided that the sentencing will take place in early February 2019 and released the cardinal on bail.” By Gerard O’Connell, America: The Jesuit Review

Pope cuts two cardinals from cabinet named in abuse scandal
Pope Francis has removed two cardinals from his informal cabinet after they were implicated in the Catholic Church’s sex abuse and cover-up scandal(link is external), shedding embarrassing advisers ahead of a high-stakes Vatican summit on abuse early next year. The Vatican said Wednesday (dec. 12) that Francis in October had written to Chilean Cardinal Javier Errazuriz and Australian Cardinal George Pell thanking them for their five years of service on the so-called Group of Nine, or C-9.” By Nicole Winfield, Associated Press

Analysis: On sexual abuse, what will U.S. bishops, and the pope, do next?
“Bishop Frank Rodimer and Fr. Peter Osinski were friends. Osinski was a priest in the Diocese of Camden, New Jersey. Rodimer was Bishop of Paterson, a nearby diocese, from 1978 until 2004. For years the men rented a beach house together each summer on New Jersey’s Long Beach Island, south of Seaside and north of Atlantic City. There, for seven years in the 1980s, Osinski molested a young boy. The first year it happened, the boy was seven … These are unpredictable times in the life of the Church(link is external), shaped by events with little precedent. But four points seem clear about the months to come …” By J.D. Flynn, Catholic News Agency

Analysis: How sexual misconduct reforms might begin in U.S. dioceses
“Before it began, many U.S. bishops expected their November general assembly in Baltimore to produce something tangible – a new policy, structure, or system – that would help them reassure Catholics that they were responding to months of sexual abuse scandals breaking across the Church … Some U.S. bishops have told CNA they now realize that if they want to initiate new reforms, they’ll have to do so in their own dioceses(link is external), using the ordinary prerogatives of a diocesan bishop.” By Ed Condon, Catholic News Service

Bankruptcy filing provides rare window into diocese finances
“New Mexico’s largest Catholic diocese has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars in recent months on lawyers to fight claims of clergy sex abuse(link is external) and to prepare for a potentially lengthy battle in U.S. Bankruptcy Court. The Archdiocese of Santa Fe’s petition for reorganization provides a rare look into the finances of a religious organization that for decades has been wrestling with the financial and social consequences of a scandal that rocked churches across the country.” By Susan Montoya Bryan, Associated Press

Pennsylvania Supreme Court rules priests names to remain secret in grand jury abuse case
“The Pennsylvania Supreme Court will not make public the blacked-out names of priests implicated in a grand jury report on child sex abuse(link is external), ruling that keeping them secret is the only way to ensure their constitutional due process rights will be upheld. The majority opinion, issued Monday (Dec. 3), involved 11 clerics who challenged the validity of a report that labeled 301 clergymen as ‘predatory priests’ who abused more than 1,000 children in six Catholic dioceses, including Allentown.” By Steve Esack and Peter Hall, The Morning Call

Vatican appears likely to empower archbishops on abuse claims against bishops
“One of the proposals made at last month’s meeting of U.S. Catholic bishops for investigating future allegations of misconduct by prelates appears likely to receive Vatican approval, according to several eminent canon lawyers and theologians. The suggestion to empower the nation’s metropolitan archbishops to examine accusations made against bishops(link is external) in their regions of the country corresponds both with the way the church handled such issues in earlier centuries and the current Code of Canon Law, they say. Nicholas Cafardi, a respected civil and canon lawyer, noted that the current version of the code already says the Vatican can give archbishops ‘special functions and power’ in their regions ‘where circumstances demand it.’” By Joshua J. McElwee, National Catholic Reporter

Catholic dioceses spending millions in legal fees amid sex abuse investigations
“Pennsylvania Catholic dioceses began to ante up legal fees in the wake of a statewide grand jury long before last summer, when the panel released its scathing report detailing allegations of rampant clergy sexual abuse and cover-ups … Margaret Roylance, of Voice of the Faithful, said the group was prompted to begin conducting transparency audits(link is external) of financial reports of the nation’s dioceses in 2017 by concerns about where church funds are going in the wake of sexual abuse scandals and the establishment of settlement funds to compensate victims.” By Deb Erdley, TribLive.com

ACCOUNTABILITY

FBI engaged in wide-ranging probe of clergy sex abuse in Buffalo Diocese
“Mark Lynch says he was molested by a priest when he was 13. The abuse happened 50 years ago, well beyond when a sex crime could be prosecuted. But the FBI wanted to know more(link is external), anyway. Lynch said two federal agents visited him at his Youngstown home about a month ago, armed with questions about the abuse and the Buffalo Diocese’s response to his allegations against the Rev. Joseph Schuster.” By Jay Tokasz and Dan Herbeck, The Buffalo News

Australian archbishop cleared of child sex abuse cover-up
“An Australian appeal court on Thursday (Dec. 6) overturned a conviction against the most senior Catholic cleric ever found guilty of covering up child sex abuse(link is external). New South Wales state District Court Judge Roy Ellis upheld former Adelaide Archbishop Philip Wilson’s appeal against his May conviction in a lower court for concealing the sexual abuse of two altar boys by a pedophile priest in the 1970s. Ellis found there was reasonable doubt that the 68-year-old cleric had committed the crime, which is punishable by up to two years in prison.” By Associated Press, on Cruxnow.com

Names of 11 clergy shielded from grand jury report on sex abuse in the Catholic Church
“Eleven Roman Catholic clergy won a Pennsylvania Supreme Court decision Monday (Dec. 3) to keep their names and other information out of a grand jury report(link is external) issued earlier this year into decades of sexual abuse of children by hundreds of priests. The 6-1 court majority said keeping the names and other information secret was, at this point, the only way to protect the priests’ right to reputation under the state constitution.” By Associated Press, on NBC News

Can Baltimore’s archbishop bring accountability to West Virginia’s Catholic Church
“Pope Francis in late August appointed Baltimore Archbishop William E. Lori to lead an investigation into the alleged ‘sexual harassment of adults(link is external)’ by former Catholic bishop Michael J. Bransfield of the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston, which comprises all of West Virginia. However, Archbishop Lori’s own record and actions seem to demonstrate a church ‘protectionism’ that comes at the expense of transparency and accountability.” By Vincent DeGeorge, The Baltimore Sun

If bishops fail to reform church, someone else will. Houston may be proof
“This week in Houston, state prosecutors investigating a case of sexual abuse by a Catholic priest searched the offices of the local archdiocese. They were seeking employment and disciplinary records for Manuel La Rosa-Lopez, who stands accused by two people of fondling them(link is external) two decades ago when they were teenagers. ‘This is not a search warrant against the Catholic Church,’ said Montgomery County District Attorney Brett Ligon, who is leading the investigation. The archdiocese says it has been cooperating, and was quick to contend that this was not a raid.” By Cynthia M. Allen, Star-Telegram

Cardinal DiNardo’s office raided by prosecutors in abuse case
Prosecutors investigating a sexual abuse case against a Houston-area priest searched the offices Wednesday (Nov. 28) of the local archdiocese(link is external), which is led by the cardinal who is heading the Roman Catholic Church’s response in the U.S. to sexual misconduct. The intensifying investigation has raised questions about how Cardinal Daniel DiNardo of the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston and his staff dealt with complaints against Manuel La Rosa-Lopez, who is accused by two people of fondling them two decades ago when they were teenagers.” By Normaan Merchant, Associated Press, in America: The Jesuit Review

Tasmanian government acts to ‘lift veil’ on confesson
“The Tasmanian Liberal Government has introduced a bill to Parliament that will make it mandatory for people in religious ministry to report child abuse or face criminal charges. The bill will also allow for the use of more pre-recorded testimony in court for victims of child sexual abuse, ensure victims will not have to give evidence twice at a trial, when it is possible, and for their evidence to be taken earlier to avoid the risk of retraumatisation.” By CathNews

Pennsylvania Attorney General: Senate Judiciary Committee should investigate clergy abuse
“Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro lobbied Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), projected by many to be the next chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, to investigate abuse by members of the Catholic Church(link is external). “I hope Chairman @LindseyGrahamSC focuses @senjudiciary on clergy abuse. It is a national issue and deserves attention. I’ll assist in any way the Chairman deems appropriate,’ he tweeted Saturday (Nov. 24).” By Tal Axelrod, The Hill

Greensburg and Erie dioceses release financial statements as a result of grand jury report
“Donna Doucette, Executive Director of Voice of the Faithful joined Robert Mangino to talk about the Greensburg and Erie Dioceses releasing their financial statements as a result of the grand jury report; together they have totaled 5 million dollars in legal fees. Donna Doucette says this is probably just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to cost.  The Pittsburgh Diocese has yet to release their financial statements.” By Robert Morlino, KDKA-AM Afternoon News

VATICAN ABUSE SUMMIT SET FOR FEBRUARY 2019

A reality check on expectations for February child abuse summit
“Under any circumstances, the announcement in September that Pope Francis plans to convene a summit Feb. 21-24 for all the presidents of bishops’ conferences around the world, along with the Vatican’s senior leadership, to discuss the clerical sexual abuse scandals in the Church would have been big news(link is external) … Before expectations spiral completely out of control, however, it’s important to say this out loud: For all kinds of reasons, this is not going to be Yalta on sex abuse, and to hope that it will be is a fool’s errand.” By John L. Allen, Cruxnow.com

Finding hope and healing in the face of the abuse crisis
“In February of next year, Pope Francis will meet with presidents of episcopal conferences throughout the world to talk about the Catholic Church’s response to clerical abuse. The U.S. bishops met in November of this year and discussed the same topic. In many dioceses, parishes have been or will be hosting listening sessions for concerned parishioners. All these meetings are meant in some way to address the sexual abuse crisis in the Catholic Church. The current round of gatherings and news coverage strikes many people as sadly familiar—a replay of what happened in the early 2000s. But this is different(link is external).” By Louis J. Cameli, America: The Jesuit Review

Will the Vatican’s sexual abuse summit make a difference?
“This week on ‘Inside the Vatican,’ Gerry and I take a look at the newly announced committee that will plan the Vatican’s upcoming, high-stakes summit on sexual abuse(link is external). One committee member, Cardinal Oswald Gracias of India, told Crux in October that the meeting ‘will be successful, or it will be a disaster for the Church. So, can it succeed in creating lasting change?” By Colleen Dulle, America: The Jesuit Review

Rome event challenges key Indian prelate’s record on sex abuse
“One of the organizers appointed by Pope Francis to plan a February 21-24 summit at the Vatican on sexual abuse of vulnerable people(link is external) has been accused of covering up abuse in his own archdiocese in India by one of his former collaborators. ‘My bishop is among the organizers, which left me perplexed,’ said Indian-born Virginia Saldanha, a former director of the women’s commission of the Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conferences, ‘What is he going to do? Come up with more cover-up ideas?’” By Claire Giangrave and Elise Harris, Cruxnow.com

POPE FRANCIS

Juan Carlos Cruz: the survivor who changed the pope’s mind on sex abuse
“‘The church has to change that paradigm, that way of thinking that survivors are enemies of the church and want to destroy the church,’ said Juan Carlos Cruz. ‘It’s quite the opposite. There’s a lot of people that have been destroyed by the church and others that have been wronged in the worst way(link is external) by the church and yet they still want to move forward and call themselves Catholics.’ Juan Carlos has been advocating for survivors for years, since he publicly disclosed that as a child he was abused by the notorious predator Fernando Karadima, a Chilean Catholic priest.” By Ashley McKinless, America: The Jesuit Review

CARDINALS

As investigation hits home diocese, can Cardinal DiNardo continue to lead on the abuse crisis?
“Investigators for the district attorney of Montgomery County in Texas executed a search warrant seeking records pertaining to the handling of instances of alleged clerical abuse(link is external) at the offices of the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston on Nov. 28. The spectacle of dozens of Texas Rangers and other local law enforcement swarming the Houston chancery offered the latest unprecedented moment as the church in the United States grapples with the ongoing crisis of the clerical abuse of children and vulnerable adults. The archdiocese is headed by Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, the president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and the person leading the U.S. bishops’ response to the crisis.” By Kevin Clarke, America: The Jesuit Review

BISHOPS

Australian archbishop cleared of child sex abuse cover-up
“An Australian appeal court on Thursday (Dec. 6) overturned a conviction against the most senior Catholic cleric ever found guilty of covering up child sex abuse(link is external). New South Wales state District Court Judge Roy Ellis upheld former Adelaide Archbishop Philip Wilson’s appeal against his May conviction in a lower court for concealing the sexual abuse of two altar boys by a pedophile priest in the 1970s. Ellis found there was reasonable doubt that the 68-year-old cleric had committed the crime, which is punishable by up to two years in prison.” By Associated Press on Cruxnow.com

Experts question whether bishops really need a new code of conduct
“In the effort to tackle clerical sexual abuse, one step slotted for adoption by the U.S. bishops in their fall meeting was a new code of conduct for bishops, which would specifically address the issue of accountability not just for the crime but the cover-up. Yet some experts dispute the need for a new code(link is external), saying the guidelines written out for all clergy in the 2002 Dallas Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People are valid for bishops too, if they are applied.” By Elise Harris, Cruxnow.com

Some Catholics demand bishops resignation, others beg him to stay during emotional listening session
“Voices searing with anger and cracking with grief rang out for nearly two hours Monday (Dec. 3) night as Catholics and others spoke on revelations of sexual abuse by priests and its coverup in the Catholic Church(link is external). More than 200 people gathered at St. Thomas A’Becket Church in Jefferson Hills, where Pittsburgh Bishop David Zubik sat in a wooden chair at the front of the modern sanctuary, hands folded, as several speakers called on him to resign and denounced his handling of abuse cases. Others called on him to stay and be part of the healing.” By Peter Smith, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Madison bishop’s passing kicks off lengthy replacement process
“The death of Madison’s bishop means the Catholic Church must soon begin the lengthy process of selecting a new bishop for the diocese(link is external) of around 200,000 parishioners — a process that ultimately ends with the pope. Madison Bishop Robert Morlino, 71, died Saturday after suffering an apparent heart attack during a planned procedure at St. Mary’s Hospital in Madison earlier in the week. He was the fourth bishop of Madison. Tim Cavanaugh, a canonist for the Madison Diocese, said Morlino’s death leaves a lot of roles left unfilled.” By Phoebe Petrovic, Wisconsin Public Radio

Memphis under Holley offers object lesson for new bishops everywhere
“Inside the vestibule of the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, the wall where the traditional portrait of the sitting bishop would be affixed now stands empty. Just over two years ago, Bishop Martin Holley was installed as the new head of the birthplace of Rock ‘n Roll, promising priests that he would be ‘a father and a pastor who serves,’ and vowing to ‘learn from and share with these sons of Christ.’ What began as a high note for Memphis’s clergy now has many of them singing the blues(link is external).” By Christopher White, Cruxnow.com

Bishop: Naming Syracuse priests accused of sexual assault was ‘important’
“The Roman Catholic Diocese of Syracuse has named 57 priests accused of sexual abuse since 1950 who have been either removed from the ministry or have died(link is external). ‘We went through files and looked at them and made a determination that these priests have credible allegations against them,’ said Bishop Robert Cunningham of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Syracuse. Cunningham says release of these names was voluntary, despite a lawsuit demanding New York dioceses publicize the names.” By Courtney Carter, Spectrum News

PRIESTS

Priests’ group urges reform in open letter to bishops
“The Association of Catholic Priests (APC) has written an open letter to the bishops, urging them to convene a national assembly to address the crisis facing Catholicism in Ireland(link is external) and to consider reforms. Stressing ‘what we can’t afford to do is do nothing,’ the APC, which represents 1,000 priests, says ‘it is clear to everyone, now, that we are at crisis point, entering a post-Catholic Ireland.’” By T.P. O’Mahony, Irish Examiner

Priest’s View: Bishops, chancery officials who failed children can step aside
“There continues to be much anger and outrage and shame and sadness in the Catholic Church over the abuse scandals and especially over the coverups by the bishops. Most agree now that the root cause of our troubles is the failure of the bishops’ leadership(link is external). Bishops and chancery officials who should have stopped the pain and suffering of children decided to protect themselves instead. Some chancery officials even advanced up the ecclesial ladder, even though they were involved in the coverups. When confronted with the crisis, the bishops acted as if they were the victims and not the abused children.” By Fr. William Fider, Duluth News Tribune

WOMEN RELIGIOUS

Vatican investigates after nuns report sex abuse by priests
“The Vatican has launched an investigation into a small Chilean religious order of nuns after some sisters denounced sexual abuse at the hands of priests(link is external) and mistreatment by their superiors, a turning point that shows the Holy See is now willing to investigate allegations of sexual violence against nuns. The scandal at the Institute of the Good Samaritan was revealed publicly in an investigative report by Chilean national television earlier this year at the height of outrage over how Chilean Catholic hierarchy covered up decades of sexual abuse of children by priests.” By Nicole Winfield, Associated Press, in The Salt Lake Tribune

CHILD PROTECTION

National safeguarding standards set for release
“Catholic Professional Standards Ltd is set to publish the first edition of the National Catholic Safeguarding Standards by the end of the year(link is external). CPSL has released its 2017-18 Annual Report, which marks the first full year of operation of the company since the appointment of inaugural chief executive officer, Sheree Limbrick, in July 2017. Speaking shortly after the release of the report, Ms Limbrick said she is committed to doing what she can to ensure the lessons from the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse remain a live issue for the leadership of the Church in Australia.” By CathNews.com

CLERICALISM

Clericalism is ugly perversion, pope tells seminarians
“Priests must always keep in mind that their mission is to serve others and not claim superiority over the people entrusted to their care, Pope Francis said. Meeting with seminarians from the Sicilian coastal city of Agrigento Nov. 24, the pope told them that priests must never forget their roots and that God chose them from among their people to serve. ‘Clericalism, my dear ones, is our ugliest perversion(link is external). The Lord wants you to be shepherds; shepherds of the people, not clerics of the state,’ he said.” By Junno Arocho Esteves, Cruxnow.com

WOMEN IN THE CHURCH

Connecticut bishop appoints laywoman to lead parish
“Less than two months after serving as delegate in the Bishops Synod on Youth which called women’s leadership within the Church ‘a duty of justice,’ Bishop Frank Caggiano has established a new leadership model in a Connecticut parish, appointing a woman to serve as parish life coordinator. The appointment of Dr. Eleanor W. Sauers, which was announced on Sunday (Dec. 9) in a letter to parishioners of St. Anthony of Padua in Fairfield, Connecticut, grants Sauers decision-making authority over a team of priests who will be responsible for sacramental ministry(link is external).” By Christopher White, Cruxnow.com

FUTURE OF THE CHURCH

Brazil cardinal rues lack of priests in Amazon but avoids ‘viri probati’
“One of the most compelling voices for the Catholic Church in Latin America, Brazilian Cardinal Claudio Hummes, believes a lack of priests and access to the sacraments for Christians in the Amazon often leaves many communities in the mammoth region ‘isolated’ and ‘weakened(link is external).’ That reality, according to the retired Archbishop of São Paulo, can’t help but be a major issue that a special Synod of Bishops for the Amazon called by Pope Francis will have to address in October 2019.” By Filipe Domingues, Cruxnow.com

Three already-merged Philadelphia Catholic churches set to close
“The Archdiocese of Philadelphia has announced three churches that previously merged with other parishes will close after the new year(link is external). The Philadelphia Inquirer reports Archbishop Charles Chaput said Sunday (Dec. 2) Our Lady of the Holy Souls, Saint Stanislaus Kostka and Saint Leo church will no longer serve as worship sites after Jan. 7.” By NBC10-TV News

Why are we at each others’ throats? Healing polarization in our church
“People say our society is getting increasingly polarized, but is it true? We have heard the rhetoric and the vitriol, but is this just what improves ratings? If it bleeds, it leads? Is this so-called ‘culture war’ really just fought among leaders and the media or is polarization a fact that touches the rest of us? Further, is this polarization also happening among American Catholics?(link is external) If so, how can we heal? Lots of questions — let’s look at some answers.” By Maureen K. Day, National Catholic Reporter

America’s epidemic of empty churches
“Many of our nation’s churches can no longer afford to maintain their structures—6,000 to 10,000 churches die each year in America(link is external)—and that number will likely grow. Though more than 70 percent of our citizens still claim to be Christian, congregational participation is less central to many Americans’ faith than it once was. Most denominations are declining as a share of the overall population, and donations to congregations have been falling for decades. Meanwhile, religiously unaffiliated Americans, nicknamed the ‘nones,’ are growing as a share of the U.S. population.” By Jonathan Merritt, The Atlantic

Bridgeport-area Catholics brace for changes to neighborhood parishes, schools as archdiocese reorganizes
“Parishioners from nine Catholic churches and schools in Bridgeport, Canaryville and Chinatown are expected to learn Wednesday (Nov. 28) the fate of their houses of worship(link is external). A meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. Wednesday at St. Barbara Parish, 2859 S. Throop St., where parishioners are expected to hear the details of the reorganization approved by Archdiocese of Chicago Cardinal Blase Cupich.” By Elvia Malagon, Chicago Tribune

VOICES

U.S. Catholic Church marred by allegations of abuse, claims of cover-up
“2018 will no doubt be remembered as a dark time for the U.S. Catholic Church. Catholics felt betrayed by church leaders accused of sexual misconduct and cover-up(link is external)revealed this summer and this cloud still hung over the church at the year’s end. In June, allegations were made against then-Cardinal Theodore E. McCarrick, retired archbishop of Washington, accused of sexually abusing a minor almost 50 years ago and having sexual contact with seminarians while he was a bishop in New Jersey …” By Carol Zimmermann, Catholic News Service, on CatholicPhilly.com

Commentary: Blame lies, secrecy and unchecked power, not gay priests
“This past summer’s credible allegations against former Cardinal Theodore McCarrick have fundamentally altered the way Catholics are talking about the abuse crisi(link is external)s. In the wake of the Boston Globe’s 2002 exposé (memorialized in the important and painful film, Spotlight), the conversation revolved around the most shocking tales of abuse – namely, of priests sexually molesting children. And indeed, it’s the allegation that ‘Uncle Ted’ sexually assaulted a minor that finally brought his story into its own recent spotlight.” By Brandon R. Peterson, The Salt Lake Tribune

Pedophilia victims deserve justice
“In a quarter-page advertisement in this newspaper on Nov. 29, the Roman Catholic Diocese of Providence encouraged alleged priest pedophilia victims to come forward. Those ongoing scandals underscore widespread disgust for historically unpunished, unspeakable crimes against children(link is external). Adult survivors of rectory or home seductions — sometimes with parents nearby, unaware of the horrors their children suffered — deserve justice, and courts need laws to dispense it. Warwick Attorney Carl DeLuca estimates about 450 victims sought his help: his office alone settled at least 65 civil cases against the Diocese of Providence.” Commentary by Mary Ann Sorrentino, Providence Journal

Catholic Church has work ahead to rebuild trust
“The Archdiocese of Santa Fe’s decision to seek Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection is the latest twist in a long and often sordid story of individual abuse against children(link is external), protected by one of the most powerful institutions in New Mexico. That the bankruptcy announcement came just before Advent, the beginning of the church liturgical year — the countdown to the birth of a savior, the light of the world — brings an ironic touch to the whole proceeding.” By The New Mexican Editorial Board

Why I left the church, and what I’m hearing about it
“After so many years of trying to “stay and fight” for the Catholic Church as it should be, the day finally came when walking away wasn’t so much a decision as an acknowledgement(link is external) of reality: I just couldn’t continue to help prop up an institution that I’ve loved my whole life, but that’s run by men who, after all this time, are dithering still in response to the devastation done by child abusers in collars. Staying ‘because it’s our church, too’ had come to feel like complicity by another name. And even staying for the Eucharist made me wonder at what point I had to stop letting the hierarchy use the real presence to excuse the inexcusable. Does Jesus ever feel he’s being held hostage?” By Melinda Henneberger, National Catholic Reporter

It’s time for Catholics to demand this from the church
“We all regret some decisions in life; for me, it was my choice not to learn Spanish. So, in my search to find the one word that could capture the essence of Pope Francis, it is with much irony that the language of Spain would give me the most appropriate one: Dictablanda! For those like me who ‘no hablo espanol,’ Dictablanda is a Spanish pun for a benevolent dictator. It is also the description that best suits our Holy Father and the Roman Curia(link is external). In this instance, it is not a funny pun.” By Paul Snyder, CNN

Commentary: why the ‘Catholic Church’ is different than the ‘Catholic hierarchy’
“It is time to stop using the term ‘Catholic Church’ as a synonym for ‘Catholic hierarchy(link is external).’ We all do it. ‘The church teaches such and such.’ ‘The church lobbied against gay marriage.’ ‘The church failed to protect children.’ ‘The church is homophobic and sexist.’ ‘The church is authoritarian.’ ‘I hate the church.’ The word ‘church’ has multiple meanings. One theologian counted more than a dozen ways ‘church’ was used in the documents of the Second Vatican Council, referring to everything from a building to the Mystical Body of Christ.” By Thomas Reese, Religion News Service, in The Salt Lake Tribune

Weigel sustains intellectual whiplash under Francis’ pontificate
“If irony were gold, Weigel would be a rich man in this pontificate of Francis. But this kind of intellectual—and moral—whiplash is unbecoming and unserious. If he has had a conversion, let him explain his conversion. Otherwise, his writings are mere evidence of hypocrisy. The ever-shrinking, increasingly unhinged crowd at First Things may still look to him for guidance but Weigel is not precisely unhinged. He appears to be flailing about, clearly disconnected, not clear how to reconnect. The ‘evangelical Catholicism’ he said the church needed has arrived with Pope Francis(link is external), and it is about the poor not contraception, about witness not entrenchment, about engaging the culture not denouncing it—in short, not what he was expecting.” By Michael Sean Winters, National Catholic Reporter

CHURCH FINANCES

Catholic priest Father Joe Walsh charged with stealing $250,000 from Subiaco church
“Father Joe Walsh allegedly stole the funds between 2014 and 2017(link is external) while he was the parish priest at St Joseph’s church in Subiaco. The 66-year-old from Hamilton Hill appeared briefly in Perth Magistrates Court this morning ( Dec. 12) and was not required to plead to six charges of stealing. He was released on bail until his next scheduled court appearance in February.” By James Carmody and Joanna Menagh, Australia Broadcasting Company

Abuse scandal has cost Altoona-Johnstown diocese $21.5 million, bishop says
“The Roman Catholic Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown has made what could be considered its most in-depth public statement concerning clerical child sexual abuse within its organization(link is external), since the Pennsylvania Office of Attorney General issued a grand jury report in 2016 outlining an alleged systemic effort to protect predator priests within its ranks. A Dec. 10 edition of The Catholic Register, the diocese’s official publication, included multiple stories about the subject, a ‘special message’ from Bishop Mark Bartchak and a chart showing that the expense of the scandal cost the diocese $21,491,052 from July 1, 1999, until Dec. 1, 2018.” By Dave Sutor, The Daily Item

Nuns misappropriated $500K in school funds, spending some on gambling and trips, Catholic church says
Two nuns at a Catholic church in Southern California are suspected of embezzling up to $500,000 in school funds(link is external), allegedly using some of the money to go on trips and gamble at casinos, a spokesperson for the Archdiocese of Los Angeles told ABC News. The nuns, Sister Mary Margaret Kreuper and Sister Lana Chang, had been ‘involved in the personal use of a substantial amount’ of school funds ‘over a period of years,’ Monsignor Michael Meyers, pastor for the St. James Catholic School in Redondo Beach, wrote in a letter to parents on Nov. 28.” By Julia Jacobo, Clayton Sandell and Matthew Fuhrman, ABC News

Bankruptcy filing for Santa Fe archdiocese, led by Utah’s former Catholic leader John Wester, provides peek at church finances
“New Mexico’s largest Catholic diocese has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars in recent months on lawyers to fight claims of clergy sex abuse(link is external) and to prepare for a potentially lengthy battle in U.S. Bankruptcy Court. The Archdiocese of Santa Fe’s petition for reorganization provides a rare look into the finances of a religious organization that for decades has been wrestling with the financial and social consequences of a scandal that rocked churches across the country.” By Susan Montoya Bryan, The Associated Press, in The Salt Lake Tribune

Buffalo Diocese has a $48 million surplus as it prepares to pay victims
“Victims of sexual abuse by clergy in the Diocese of Buffalo have been coming forward since March, when the diocese announced it would pay voluntary settlements to those who were abused(link is external). While the bishop plans to sell his Oakland Place mansion to help pay those victims, internal church documents obtained by the 7 Eyewitness News I-Team show he will need much more money than the sale of the mansion — assessed at nearly $2 million — is likely to bring in. But the church appears to have plenty of money in the bank.” By Charlie Spect, WKBW-TV

‘We don’t want these coverups anymore.’ Parishioners speak out after informant priest reassigned
“A second priest has been identified as an informant against a fellow priest accused of scamming parishioners(link is external). Now, he’s being moved by the Catholic Diocese of Jackson from the Starkville parish he tried to protect. Sunday morning, the Rev. Rusty Vincent announced he was being reassigned from St. Joseph Catholic Church in Starkville. He will be moved to Vicksburg in January. A priest from Madison, the Rev. Jason Johnston, will take over pastoral duties at St. Joe.” By Sarah Fowler, Mississippi Clarion Ledger

CLERGY CHILD SEXUAL ABUSE

‘It happened everywhere’: How Pennsylvania upended deep history of priest abuse across nation
“The investigation by the 40th Statewide Investigating Grand Jury wasn’t the first into the epidemic of child sexual abuse among Catholic priests. It wasn’t even the first to be done in Pennsylvania, following investigations of the Philadelphia archdiocese and the Altoona-Johnstown diocese. But its scope was unprecedented(link is external). ‘We, the members of this grand jury, need you to hear this,’ the nearly 900-page report begins.” By Mike Argento, York Daily Record

Two Jesuit provinces release 153 names of accused abusers
“Two Roman Catholic Jesuit provinces that cover nearly half the U.S. released the names Friday (Dec. 7) of more than 150 priests and other ministry leaders who were found to have ‘credible allegations’ of sexual abuse(link is external) made against them dating to the 1950s … Jesuits West found credible allegations against 111 priests, brothers or priests in training who were connected to it dating back to 1950. Hours earlier, the Jesuits U.S. Central and Southern Province, which covers 13 states along with Puerto Rico and the Central American country of Belize, released the names of 42 men who had ties to the province going back to 1955.” By Jim Salter, Associated Press, in America: The Jesuit Review

Catholic Church facing multiple abuse scandals
Where will the abuse scandal turn next?(link is external) Peter Isley from ECAglobal.org, Ending Clergy Abuse, talks to Brent on the Day.” By Deutschel Welle on DW.com

Women survivors speak of church authority structure facilitating their abuse
“Three women survivors of clergy sexual abuse shared deeply personal stories(link is external)during a Nov. 27 storytelling event, each revealing layers of pain, sadness and hurt exacerbated by the realization that they were trapped within a male-dominated structure that ignored their stories and demanded silence. Peruvian Rocio Figueroa Alvear … American Barbara Dorris … German Doris Wagner ….” By Joshua J. McElwee, Global Sisters Report, in National Catholic Reporter

‘Time to put a stop to this’: why a Catholic prosecutor who witnessed abuse took on his own church
“The suspicious looks were one thing, but the whispers are what David Hickton remembers from the Sunday mornings two years ago when he would rise from his pew at SS. Simon & Jude to receive Holy Communion. ‘I could hear the ‘tsk, tsk, tsk’ while I was going up the aisle,’ he says. ‘Others were muttering, ‘Of all the nerve!’’ Hickton – then the chief federal prosecutor in western Pennsylvania known for his landmark indictment in 2014 of Chinese military hackers for stealing trade secrets from state institutions such as U.S. Steel – had just revealed his new target: the Catholic Church(link is external).” By Kevin Johnson, USA TODAY

Hiding behind God
“Tim Bendig was repeatedly abused by Catholic priest Anthony Cipolla(link is external) from 1982 to 1986. That came after the Catholic Church declined to remove Cipolla from the priesthood for the abuse of two brothers in the 1970s. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette recently followed Mr. Bendig as he returned to the vacant rectory and church, St. Canice, where his life changed forever 36 years ago. ‘That’s the room,’ said a shaken Tim Bendig. He was pointing at the bedroom on the second floor in the former St. Canice Church rectory where he was first sexually abused 36 years ago by a Catholic priest, Anthony Cipolla.” By Sean D. Hamill, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

‘It doesn’t mean it didn’t happen. It just means it hasn’t been discovered’: Reporters spend years chasing down Catholic sex scandals
“When the Diocese of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, released the names of 71 clergy members accused of sexual abuse, York Daily Record investigative reporter Brandie Kessler immediately thought of Todd Frey. Kessler has stayed in touch with Frey since 2016, when he told her that a priest named Guy Marsico had abused him as a young teenager(link is external) at a church in York. Marsico’s name on the list gave Kessler the chance to ask Frey something she had asked several times before — whether he would be willing to put his story on the record. This time, he said yes.” By Tiffany Stevens, Poynter.com

ALABAMA

DA urges victims of priest abuse to come forward, so she can prosecute
“Mobile County District Attorney Ashley Rich is urging victims of priest and clergy abuse to come forward so she can prosecute(link is external). The Archdiocese of Mobile Thursday (Dec. 6) released the names of 29 priests and deacons who have been ‘credibly accused’ since 1950 … She’s also asking anyone with evidence to come forward. Rich says there’s no statute of limitations on any sex offense if the victim is under 16, regardless if it involves force or serious injury.” By Chis Best, WKRG-TV5 News

CALIFORNIA

California victim activists release their own list of accused priests as more are identified
Dozens more Catholic priests who served in Southern California have been accused of sexually abusing children(link is external), according to two reports issued Thursday (Nov. 6). Advocates for survivors of child sex abuse compiled a list of 72 priests they say served in the Diocese of Orange and have been accused of abuse. That’s many more than the 14 such clerics listed by the diocese in 2016. The Archdiocese of Los Angeles on Thursday updated its tally of accused priests for the first time in a decade, adding 54 more for a total of 323 clerics accused in such incidents.” By Associated Press in America: The Jesuit Review

Dozens more California priests accused of child abuse
Dozens more Catholic priests who served in Southern California have been accused of sexually abusing children(link is external), according to two reports issued Thursday (Dec. 6). Advocates for survivors of child sex abuse compiled a list of 72 priests they say served in the Diocese of Orange and have been accused of abuse. That’s many more than the 14 such clerics listed by the diocese in 2016.” By Associated Press in Lompoc Record

Los Angeles diocese adds new names to list of accused priests
“The Archdiocese of Los Angeles Dec. 6 released an updated list of priests accused of sexual abuse of minors(link is external), with the report showing two cases of alleged abuse of current minors in the archdiocese since 2008. The two cases were made public at the time the allegations were first received. Upon receiving the accusations, the archdiocese removed the two priests, Juan Cano and Jose Luis Cuevas, from ministry and reported them to law enforcement. Following separate investigations by police and by an Archdiocesan oversight board, the men were permanently removed from ministry.” By Pablo Kay, America: The Jesuit Review

Sex abuse cases cost San Francisco Catholic Church $87 million in settlements
“The Catholic diocese in San Francisco has settled roughly $87 million worth of sex abuse cases against priests and others associated with the church(link is external), mostly in the last 15 years, according to Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone. The archbishop divulged the eye-popping figure during a series of town hall meetings held to address the sexual abuse of minors in the local Catholic Church on the heels of a grand jury report in Pennsylvania that found hundreds of priest had molested at least 1,000 children in that region.” By Michael Barba, San Francisco Examiner

COLORADO

‘Forgiveness is a decision’: Abuse survivor shares journey of healing and faith
“Growing up, Pat was a strong Catholic with a deep passion for her faith. ‘I knew all of the responses before Vatican II,’ she said. ‘I knew all of the altar boy responses in Latin. I even knew what they meant.’ That foundation of faith has carried Pat through a remarkable journey of strength and forgiveness(link is external). She’s remained in the Church her entire life — despite the abuse she suffered at the hands of a priest at just five years old.” By Moira Cullings, DenverCatholic.com

CONNECTICUT

Norwich Diocese faces 20 new lawsuits for alleged abuse at Mt. St. John facility for troubled teens
“he Roman Catholic Diocese of Norwich is facing 20 lawsuits filed this week (Nov. 28) alleging abuse of teenage students(link is external) at The Academy at Mount Saint John, a Deep River residential treatment center, in the 1990s. The lawsuits were filed by Hartford attorney Patrick Tomasiewicz, alleging students were abuse at the hands of at least four staff members, although the majority of the allegations were against two now-deceased brothers.” By Dave Altimari, Hartford Courant

Norwich diocese sued by 24 men who say they were sexually assaulted
“Twenty-four men, who say they were sexually assaulted as teenage boys(link is external) by the late Brother K. Paul McGlade and others, have filed lawsuits against the Diocese of Norwich and former Bishop Daniel Reilly. Some of the suits, in which the men allege they were fondled, sodomized and raped while attending the diocesan-run Academy at Mount Saint John in Deep River from 1986 to 1996, are slated for trial in 2019. Each of the boys, who ranged in age from 11 to 15, had been placed at the now defunct school by the state Department of Children and Families or the state court system. DCF is not a defendant in the lawsuits.” By Joe Wojtas, The Day

ILLINOIS

Diocese discloses names of priests who sexually abused minors
“The Diocese of Springfield (Illinois) on Thursday (Nov. 6) afternoon, in response to a review by the Illinois Attorney General’s office, released the names of 19 priests — including a former bishop — that it confirmed were the subjects of substantiated charges of sexually abusing children(link is external). Though individual priests may have been identified over the years, the Springfield Diocese confirmed that this is the first comprehensive list of abuse cases it has ever released.” By Brenden Moore, The State Journal-Register

10 names added to list of clergy with ‘substantiated’ sex misconduct allegations
“At a closed-door gathering in August with young men studying to be priests at the Catholic church’s seminary in Mundelein, Cardinal Blase Cupich boasted that the Archdiocese of Chicago’s ‘record’ on sex abuse is ‘clean(link is external).’ ‘We are not what happened’ in Pennsylvania, Cupich said, referring to a grand jury report that recently had been released in that state, showing decades of priests raping children and bishops covering up … But Wednesday (Nov. 28) night the archdiocese made public the names of 10 more former priests and deacons — some now dead — against whom ‘substantiated allegations’ had been found they engaged in sexual misconduct with minors.” By Robert Herguth, Chicago Sun Times

LOUISIANA

Jesuit high school president: release of clergy abuse list shows spirit of reconciliation, transparency
“The Archdiocese of New Orleans’ decision Friday (Dec. 2) to release a list of 57 area clergy members ‘credibly accused’ of sexually abusing minors(link is external) was met with support from the leader of Jesuit High School, who said the release was done in the spirit of reconciliation and transparency. Four people named on the list were at one time employed by the Mid-City high school, including a former president of the school.” By Jonathan Bullington, NOLA.com

Quest for facts in clergy abuse allegation leaves indelible question marks
“As it grapples with clergy abuse, the Church needs to be transparent for the sake of survivors and for justice(link is external). That transparency, however, comes with side effects. It carries with it disenchantment for many Catholics who have trusted priests embroiled in what New Orleans Archbishop Gregory Aymond has called the church’s now-exposed ‘family sin.’” By Kim Chatelain, The Times-Picayne on NOLA.com

MAINE

Trial begins in Maine for ex-priest facing sex abuse charges
“A 74-year-old former Roman Catholic priest who pleaded guilty to raping an altar boy in Massachusetts(link is external) went on trial Monday (Nov. 26) for allegedly assaulting two boys in Maine in the 1980s. Ronald Paquin, who was defrocked in 2004, is charged with assaulting the boys between 1985 and 1988 in Kennebunkport, Maine, when the victims were 14 or younger. Court documents indicate one of them was “substantially impaired” by drugs during the assault.” By Associated Press

MISSOURI

Church, Hawley slow to eject sex abusers
“Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests says the Jefferson City Diocese and Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley are not doing enough to investigate and raise awareness of sex abuse by clergy(link is external). Bishop W. Shawn McKnight released in November a list of 33 names of Jefferson City Diocese clergy that had been ‘credibly accused’ of illicit sexual acts involving minors. The list came during a listening tour regarding the abuse crisis in the Catholic Church and on the heels of an announced investigation by Hawley.” By Pat Pratt, Columbia Daily Tribune

Advocates for priest abuse survivors says three priest names are missing
“Thursday (Nov. 29) an advocate group for priest abuse survivors called out priests who were left off a recent Jefferson City Diocese ‘credibly accused list(link is external).’ SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, met outside of the Cathedral of St. Joseph to voice their concerns about the list. ‘We are here today because we are concerned, in particular, about three credibly accused child molesting priests who spent time in Mid-Missouri,’ David Clohessy, SNAP St. Louis volunteer, said.” By Mercedes Mackay, KOMU-TV News

After criticism of priest sex abuse investigation, Attorney General Hawley tweets ‘this is false’
“Angered by a column in a Missouri newspaper that said he wasn’t doing enough to investigate clergy sex abuse in the Roman Catholic Church(link is external), Attorney General Josh Hawley on Tuesday (Nov. 27) took to social media. ‘We are seeking court orders to acquire information needed from the dioceses to ensure a full, thorough, and independent investigation,’ Hawley said in a tweet just before noon.” By July L. Thomas, The Kansas City Star

NEBRASKA

Omaha archdiocese disclosure reveals clergy sex abuse secrets it hid for decades
“What the Omaha Archdiocese long sought to keep hidden, it is now shouting from the rooftops. When it disclosed last month that 38 clergymen had been credibly accused of child sexual abuse or misconduct, some of the names were familiar — notorious priests who already had been defrocked or jailed. But others — more than half — had been kept secret(link is external) until last week, even though some of the reports of alleged abuse dated back decades.” By Christopher Burbach, Omaha World Herald

Some churches talk about archdiocese sexual misconduct report at Mass
“Some churches in the Catholic Archdiocese of Omaha used time before and during Mass on Sunday (Dec. 2) to react to the recent revelation of 38 past clergy members being accused of sexual misdeeds with minors(link is external). The archdiocese announced Friday that ‘substantiated claims of sexual abuse of, or sexual misconduct with, a minor’ had been made against 34 priests and four deacons on a list it provided to Nebraska Attorney General Doug Peterson, who had asked for the information.” By Norfolk Daily News

NEW MEXICO

New legal troubles for the Archdiocese of Santa Fe
“Seven years after he murdered a female parishioner in Texas in 1960, Father John Feit found refuge in Jemez Springs, where he was a supervisor at the Servants of the Paraclete center for Catholic priests with psychosexual problems. According to a new lawsuit, Feit documented an agreement with the Archdiocese of Santa Fe in 1967 to supply pedophile priests to New Mexico parishes(link is external) without telling parishioners or other working priests in the archdiocese about the potential danger to local children.” By Colleen Heild, Albuquerque Journal

Diocese of Las Cruces releases names of credibly accused priests
“Last month, the Diocese of Las Cruces published the names of 28 priests who have been credibly accused of sexual misconduct with minors(link is external) and have served within the geographical boundary of the diocese. Among these are several priests who served in churches in Grant County, mostly during the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s. The last priest served in 1990. In addition to the names, the list also includes, if known, the dates of the alleged incidents, the date they were reported to the diocese, the status of the accused and the date and location of their assignments in the diocese.” By Christine Steele, Silver City Daily Press

New Mexico archdiocese to file bankruptcy over sex abuse
“The Archdiocese of Santa Fe announced Thursday (Nov. 29) it will soon be filing for bankruptcy protection, as the Catholic church in New Mexico has settled numerous claims of sexual abuse by clergy(link is external) over the years and is close to depleting its reserves. About 20 dioceses and other religious orders around the U.S. have filed for bankruptcy protection as a result of clergy sex abuse claims, according to lawyers representing the archdiocese. Archbishop John Wester said he had been contemplating the action for years but that the archdiocese had reached a tipping point and he wanted to ensure there would be resources to provide compensation for victims.” By Susan Montoya Bryan Associated Press

NEW YORK

Geneva priest removed from ministry by bishop
“The Rev. Erick Viloria, parochial vicar in Our Lady of Peace Parish since June, has been removed from public ministry(link is external). Viloria’s removal, and that of the Rev. Thomas Valenti, was announced Sunday (Dec. 9) by Bishop Salvatore Matano, the Diocese of Rochester leader. The decision followed an independent investigation, review and recommendation from the Diocesan Review Board.” By David L. Shaw, Finger Lakes Times

Rochester Catholic Diocese removes two priests from public ministry
“The Rochester Catholic Diocese says that two priests have been removed from public ministry by Bishop Salvatore Matano after allegations of misconduct(link is external). According to a statement posted on the diocese’s website, the actions follow an independent investigation and a recommendation from a review board which includes lay professionals in law, child protection, law enforcement and psychology.” By Randy Gorbman, WXXI-AM News

Former altar girl says she was abused for years at Brooklyn Catholic church
“A former altar girl at a Brooklyn church says she was the victim of sexual abuse for years(link is external), police sources told The Post on Sunday (Dec. 9). The 17-year-old told cops on Saturday that a custodian at Holy Innocents Church in Flatbush groped her while she served as an altar girl between 2013 and 2015. She would have been between 12 and 15 years old when the abuse took place.” By Tina Moore, Sydney Denmark and Tamar Lapin, New York Post

Buffalo diocese offers abuse victims $10,000 to $360,000 to settle claims
“The Buffalo Diocese so far has offered as much as $360,000 and as little as $10,000 to settle molestation claims against some of its priests(link is external). Attorneys who represent victims of childhood sex abuse said they recently received compensation offers for 19 clients, ranging from $10,000 to $360,000. They are the first award offers since the diocese announced the program in March. ‘It’s never enough money to fully acknowledge this level of harm,’ said attorney J. Michael Reck. ‘It certainly isn’t full justice for what happened.’” By Todd Tokasz, The Buffalo News

Syracuse diocese releases list of 57 sexually abusive priests
“The Roman Catholic Diocese of Syracuse today (Dec. 3) released a list of 57 priests with credible allegations of child sexual abuse against them(link is external). The list includes 38 deceased priests. Nineteen priests are still alive. All of the living priests were previously removed from ministry, the diocese said. No active priests have credible accusations of child sexual abuse against them, according to the diocese and Onondaga County district attorney.” By Julie McMahon, Syracuse.com

Movement to restore trust in Buffalo’s Catholic diocese begins taking action
“The present structure of the Catholic Church took some real hits Wednesday (Nov. 28) night, as the sex abuse crisis was scrutinized before a large crowd(link is external) at Canisius College’s Montante Center and in cyberspace. A group of prominent local Catholics organized the meeting, under the general title of the Movement to Restore Trust. Moderated by Canisius President John Hurley, the panelists were two priests, a nun and a nationally prominent lay Catholic leader.” By Mike Desmond, WBFO-FM, Buffalo’s NPR Station

Buffalo priest allegedly forced teen into sex acts at gunpoint
“A Buffalo priest pointed a gun to a teenage boy’s head to force him into sex acts(link is external)— and the ‘sick behavior’ turned him on, according to the alleged victim’s lawyer. The disturbing allegations were lodged against Rev. Michael Freeman, who died in 2010 at age 63. The alleged victim, now 48, said Freeman would hold a silver .38-caliber revolver to his head to get him to comply in the 1980s.” By Lia Eustachewich, New York Post

OHIO

Former Fisher Catholic nun accused of sexually abusing student
“A nun who once taught at Fisher Catholic High School in Lancaster has been accused of sexually abusing a student 36 years ago(link is external), according to a police report. Sister Lisa Zuccarelli, who belongs to the Dominican Sisters of Peace, was removed from her ministry, restricted from unsupervised contact with former students and minors, and was sent to a psychological center for clergy for assessment after the allegation came to light, the Columbus-based Dominican Sisters of Peace said in a news release. Details about when the abuse occurred weren’t given.” By Danae King, The Columbus Dispatch

Catholic priest sentenced to 12 years in prison for sexual misconduct
“A Catholic priest with the Diocese of Steubenville is headed to prison for 12 years for sexual battery charges involving a teenage member of his parish(link is external). The church is in Athens County, Ohio. Henry Christopher Foxhoven pleaded guilty to the charges in Athens County Court Tuesday (Nov. 27) morning. The sentence was part of a plea deal with prosecutors who believe justice was served in this case.” By Gil McClanahan and Jeff Morris, FOX11 Eyewitness News

PENNSYLVANIA

For some, Catholic church’s victim program made priest abuse trauma even worse
“Mary Handler remembers some of the details so vividly that it’s like it happened yesterday(link is external) instead of decades ago. She was 5-½ years old, sitting in the backseat of her family’s car. Family cars in the 1950s were big — and felt exceptionally so to a child. Handler remembers it was dark out, her mother was in the front seat holding a baby and her father was driving.” By Brandie Kessler, York Daily Record

Retired state police captain to oversee Roman Catholic diocese of Harrisburg’s youth protection programs
“A retired Captain who successfully ran the Megan’s Law Section of the Pennsylvania State Police will run the Roman Catholic Diocese of Harrisburg’s Safe Environment program(link is external). Retired Capt. Janet A. McNeal, through her firm Law and Grace Consulting, will review the Diocese’s current youth protection programs, develop programs and policies to make any needed improvements and will serve as our Safe Environment Coordinator.” By FOX43 Newsroom

‘Prayer and penance’: More than 78 predator priests in Pennsylvania still paid by Catholic church
“Decades after their crimes were reported and largely ignored, more than 78 priests accused of child sex abuse are still collecting paychecks and pensions from Pennsylvania dioceses(link is external). Each of those priests has been removed from ministry by Pennsylvania bishops, but the pope himself needs to sign off on all clerics being removed from the priesthood and the payroll. That process is formally known as laicization, and it can take years or decades, if it happens at all.” By Candy Woodhall, York Daily Record

Catholic Church of South Carolina to release names of clergy who sexually abused children
“The Diocese of Charleston, the governing body of all of South Carolina’s Catholic churches, will release the names of all priests credibly accused of sexual abuse of minors since 1950(link is external). On Friday (Dec. 7), Bishop Robert E. Guglielmone, head of the Charleston diocese, made the announcement, saying he plans to release the list by mid-February 2019.” By David Travis Bland, The State

SOUTH DAKOTA

South Dakota priest looks for answers after assistant arrested
“Brian Christensen is on his way to jail again. A clerical collar around his thin neck, rosary dangling from the rearview mirror, the priest sets out on the same trip he has taken almost every day that week. First was Monday (Nov. 26) afternoon, when he followed the detectives down this road, then up to the third floor of the police department, where he waited outside the interrogation room. On Wednesday , he went to the preliminary hearing, where the felony charges were announced: two counts of sexual contact with a 13-year-old(link is external).” By The Washington Post in The Daily Republic

VERMONT

Burlington Roman Catholic Diocese target of lawsuit accusing ex-priest of sexual abuse
“A man who says he was sexually abused as a boy by a priest(link is external) serving at St. Ann Catholic Church in Milton has filed a lawsuit against the Roman Catholic Diocese of Burlington alleging negligence, fraud, and ‘outrageous conduct.’ The man is asking for in excess of $75,000 in damages, in addition to any other damages deemed appropriate by a jury.” By Elizabeth Murray, Burlington Free Press

WASHINGTON, D.C.

Virginia priest accused of ‘inappropriate contact’ with minor, adults
“A Catholic priest in Purcellville, Virginia, is accused of inappropriate contact with a minor and adults(link is external), the Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office says. The Catholic Diocese of Arlington has placed Father Ronald S. Escalante on leave pending an investigation by the sheriff’s office. The Saint Francis de Sales Church priest is accused of ‘boundary violations involving a minor and adults’ that go against its clergy code of conduct, according to a press release from the diocese.” By Associated Press on NBC4 Washington

WASHINGTON

Bellarmine releases names of 23 priests and brothers accused of sexual abuse
“Bellarmine Preparatory School released on Friday (Dec. 9) the names of 23 Catholic priests and brothers suspected of sexually abusing a minor or vulnerable adult(link is external). The names come from a master list of 111 suspected offenders released by Jesuits West Province, which includes the Jesuit high school at 2300 S. Washington St. in Tacoma.” By KIRO-TV7

WEST VIRGINIA

Diocese releases names of clergy ‘credibly accused’ of sexual abuse of minors
“The Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston has released the names of clergy it said have been ‘credibly accused of sexual abuse of minors(link is external).’ A news release from the diocese said the list dates back to about 1950, which is the period for which there are reasonably reliable files. More than 2,000 files were reviewed, containing tens of thousands of documents.” By WTOV-TV9 News

WISCONSIN

Former priest accused of molesting young boys held on $500K bond
“A former Catholic priest accused of molesting at least three northern Wisconsin boys(link is external) is being held on a $500,000 bond. Thomas Ericksen, 71, is being held at the Sawyer County jail in Hayward after being extradited to Wisconsin from Minneapolis late last week, according to online court records. The former priest was accused of assaulting at least three boys between June 1982 and April 1983, during his time at St. Peter’s Catholic Church in the Sawyer County village of Winter.” By Laura Schulte, Wausau Daily Herald

WYOMING

Diocese to release list of clergy accused of abuse
“The Diocese of Cheyenne is compiling a list of priests, bishops and deacons who have been credibly accused of sexual abuse since 1950(link is external), Bishop Steven Biegler announced this week (Dec. 11), signaling that the Wyoming diocese is joining a wave of public self-examinations by dioceses across the country. ‘The Diocese should have a current master list so it can be confident that it has applied the current standards to all living credibly accused offenders — and especially the standards of zero tolerance — in all situations,’ Biegler wrote in a column in the December issue of the Wyoming Catholic Register.” By Seth Klaman, Casper Star-Tribune, in Gillette News Record, via Wyoming News Exchange

AFRICA

Church sex abuse survivors group launched in South Africa
“A young woman who accused popular Nigerian Pastor Timothy Omotoso of rape – in a case that has captivated South Africa – has launched a foundation aimed at helping women and children who have been victims of sexual assault in ‘sacred spaces’(link is external)like churches. In October, Cheryl Zondi, 22, gave a graphic testimony of the alleged abuse, which she said started when she was 14 years old.” By Pumza Fihlani, BBC New, Johannesburg

Kenya Catholic bishops commit to protect children from abuses
Kenyan bishops committed to safeguard and protect children from abuses(link is external) and said the violence and evil directed at the minors and vulnerable people were signs of a morally sick society. At a Nov. 27 media briefing following their general assembly in Isiolo, the bishops also addressed other issues, including the plight of small-holder farmers, political integrity and ethics, and the fight against corruption.” By Fredrick Nzwili, Catholic News Service, on Cruxnow.com

AUSTRALIA

Catholic Church reverses approach to redress scheme
“In a major backflip, the Catholic Church has announced its entities will enter the National Redress Scheme individually and not as a single church entity(link is external) as originally planned. The Church says its commitment to the scheme is unwavering. But survivors and their lawyers now fear lengthy delays in getting redress payments from the Church.” By Samantha Donovan, Australia Broadcasting Company

Former Catholic archbishop Philip Wilson wins appeal, has conviction overturned
“Former Adelaide archbishop Philip Wilson is a free man after winning an appeal against his landmark conviction for failing to report child sex allegations(link is external) about a priest to police. Judge Roy Ellis was asked to consider if prosecutors proved beyond reasonable doubt that Wilson, 68, failed to disclose allegations about priest Jim Fletcher between 2004 and 2006 after police charged Fletcher with crimes against a Hunter boy in the 1990s.” By The Sydney Morning Herald

CANADA

Victims abused by priests in New Brunswich waiting years for compensation
“Victims of abuse by Catholic priests in New Brunswick have been waiting almost three years for compensation after reaching out-of-court settlements(link is external), and there is no sign the money will arrive anytime soon. CBC News has learned as many as 29 sexual abuse victims have reached tentative settlements in their civil lawsuits against the archdiocese of Moncton, N.B. These are men who did not participate in the conciliation process led by the archdiocese between 2012 and 2014, but rather chose to sue the church on their own.” By Gabrielle Fahmy, CBC.ca

CHILE

Chilean prosecutors probe rural Catholic diocese for evidence in abuse case
“The offices of the Roman Catholic diocese in Chillan, a small agricultural city in southern Chile, recently had some unusual and unexpected visitors: Chilean prosecutor Emiliano Arias and 10 armed police officers(link is external) … After exchanging a few words with nervous church staff and explaining his mission, Arias and police immediately began going over personnel records stored in file cabinets along one wall in the next office.” By Jorge Poblete and Chris Kraul, The San Diego Union-Tribune

GERMANY

German prosecutors launch crackdown on church sex abuse

“German police and prosecutors are launching investigations into clergy sexual abuse following the Sept. 12 leak of a report containing evidence of 3,700 alleged child sex abuse cases(link is external) in the Catholic Church over a 68-year-period. Authorities in Cologne, Passau and Gorlitz have publicly initiated criminal proceedings following the release of the report, according to Welt news. Six law professors filed criminal complaints against all 27 dioceses in October. A further 20 public prosecutors nationwide are currently examining evidence against church officials in Germany’s 27 Catholic dioceses.” By Zita Ballinger Fietcher, Catholic News Service, in The Pilot

GREAT BRITAIN, SCOTLAND & WALES

Former Liverpool Catholic priest guilty of abusing young boys decades ago
“A former Liverpool parish priest has been found guilty of a series of sickening sex attacks(link is external) on young boys decades ago. Father Francis William Simpson, now 71, had been parish priest at Our Lady Queen of Peace Catholic Church in Kirkstone Road West, Litherland, before moving to Chorley in 2016. On Friday (Dec. 7) a jury at Bolton Crown Court convicted him of nine counts of indecent assault following a 10 day trial.” By Jonathan Humphries, Liverpool Echo

Former altar boy sues church over rapes by priest
“Jim Lawn told the BBC he was repeatedly raped and beaten over a two-year period(link is external)in the 1970s by Father John Gowans at St Patrick’s RC Church in Dumbarton. Mr Lawn, 54, said that when he initially approached the church about the abuse almost a decade ago it ignored him. The Catholic Church said its response to him had been ‘simply unacceptable.’” By Lucy Adams, BBC News

Re-opened sex abuse case against Catholic church ‘continuation of my fight’: survivor
“When she accepted a civil settlement from the Roman Catholic Church 18 years ago, Irene Deschenes was defeated. ‘We are tired, we want closure and are hesitant to believe we can or will get justice from the court process(link is external),’ she wrote in an email to her lawyer before accepting the terms in 2000. What Deschenes, the Catholic Diocese of London and disgraced ex-priest Charles Sylvestre wouldn’t know is that settlement would send Deschenes on a determined course to expose the abusive Sylvestre and hold the church accountable.” By Jane Sims, The London Free Press

PHILIPPINES

American priest arrested I Philippines for sexual abuse
“An American priest was arrested in the Philippines Wednesday (Dec.5), amid allegations that he sexually assaulted dozens of boys over a period of decades(link is external). The priest, Fr. Kenneth Hendricks, was arrested Dec. 5 inside the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Rosary in Naval, Biliran, a province in the eastern part of the Phillippines. Hendricks, 78, has been in ministry in the region for nearly 40 years.” By Catholic News Agency

POLAND

Poland comes to grips with Catholic clergy’s sexual assault
“Staunchly Catholic Poland has been slow to address the problem of sexual assaults on children by clergy(link is external) — and the pressure is now mounting. Bishops plan to present a report in 2019. Monika Sieradzka reports from Warsaw. On a map of Poland, Marek Lisinski marks the places where sexual abuse by priests by Catholic clergy has been reported. In several dozen cases, the perpetrators have been prosecuted. Lisinski has an archive filled with many more statements from victims.” By Deutsche Welle

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Cardinal Pell, top advisor to Pope Francis, found guilty of ‘historical sexual offenses’ / America: The Jesuit review

The cardinal is the most senior churchman yet to be convicted of such offenses, though he is not the third-ranking Vatican official, as some media have reported. His conviction is a grave blow not only to the church in Australia but also to the Vatican and to Pope Francis … (America: The Jesuit Review)

An Australian jury has found Cardinal George Pell, 77, guilty on five charges of “historical child sexual offenses” that go back decades, according to various media reports and confirmed by America. The 12-member jury gave their unanimous verdict in the County Court of the State of Victoria in Melbourne on Tuesday, Dec. 11.

“The judge decided that the sentencing will take place in early February 2019 and released the cardinal on bail.

“Little is known about the nature of the charges on which Cardinal Pell has been condemned because the entire trial and a second trial that has yet to take place are covered by a strict suppression order issued by the presiding judge, Peter Kidd. The order prohibits reporting on the case in any of the country’s media until the second trial has taken place to avoid prejudicing his case in both instances. The judge has prohibited the publication of the number of complainants in either of the two trials as well as the number and nature of the charges, except for the fact that the charges relate to ‘historical child sexual offenses.’

“The cardinal is the most senior churchman yet to be convicted of such offenses, though he is not the third-ranking Vatican official, as some media have reported. His conviction is a grave blow not only to the church in Australia but also to the Vatican and to Pope Francis, who placed great trust in him by nominating the Australian prelate to his nine-member Council of Cardinal Advisors (he was the only cardinal from Oceania at that time, and Francis chose one cardinal from each continent) and by appointing him as prefect of the Secretariat of the Economy with a sweeping mandate to reform Vatican finances.”

By Gerard O’Connell, America: The Jesuit Review — Read more …

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Pope cuts two cardinals from cabinet named in abuse scandal / Associated Press

Their continued presence on the C-9 had been a source of scandal for Francis, given the explosion of the abuse and cover-up crisis this year. (Associated Press)

Pope Francis has removed two cardinals from his informal cabinet after they were implicated in the Catholic Church’s sex abuse and cover-up scandal, shedding embarrassing advisers ahead of a high-stakes Vatican summit on abuse early next year.

“The Vatican said Wednesday (Dec. 12) that Francis in October had written to Chilean Cardinal Javier Errazuriz and Australian Cardinal George Pell thanking them for their five years of service on the so-called Group of Nine, or C-9.

“Francis also bid farewell to Congolese Cardinal Laurent Monsengwo Pasinya, who hasn’t been implicated in the scandal but at age 79 recently retired as archbishop of Kinshasa.

“Errazuriz, 85, has been accused by Chilean abuse survivors of having covered up for predator priests while he was archbishop of Santiago, a charge he has denied. Pell, 77, took leave from his job as the Vatican’s economy minister to stand trial in his native Australia on historic charges of sex abuse, which he denies.

“Their continued presence on the C-9 had been a source of scandal for Francis, given the explosion of the abuse and cover-up crisis this year.”

By Nicole Winfield, Associated Press — Read more …

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Connecticut bishop appoints laywoman to lead parish / Cruxnow.com

He (Bridgeport, Connecticut, Bishop Frank Caggiano) went on to note that the appointment was the first of its kind in the diocese of Bridgeport and added that it has support in canon law. (Cruxnow.com)

Less than two months after serving as delegate in the Bishops Synod on Youth which called women’s leadership within the Church ‘a duty of justice,’ Bishop Frank Caggiano has established a new leadership model in a Connecticut parish, appointing a woman to serve as parish life coordinator.

“The appointment of Dr. Eleanor W. Sauers, which was announced on Sunday in a letter to parishioners of St. Anthony of Padua in Fairfield, Connecticut, grants Sauers decision-making authority over a team of priests who will be responsible for sacramental ministry.

“‘We are at a very particular moment in the history of our Diocese, and indeed, within our Church,’ Caggiano wrote to parishioners. ‘As I travel throughout Fairfield County, it has become apparent to me that many lay women and men are seeking new ways to serve their parishes, and, in collaboration with the clergy, to create vibrant and thriving communities.’

“He went on to note that the appointment was the first of its kind in the diocese of Bridgeport and added that it has support in canon law.”

By Christopher White, Cruxnow.com — Read more …

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From Voice of the Faithful — Here is another idea for responding to the bishop coverup scandals


Expression of Concern

Concerned parishioners from Christ the King Parish in Chicago have written to Cardinal Blase Cupich concerning the crisis in the Church. Voice of the Faithful endorses this letter and urges those who may be interested to read and consider supporting and signing the “Expression of Concern,” which can clicking here.

Cardinal Cupich will be hosting the U.S. bishops for prayer at Mundelein Seminary near Chicago in January 2019 and then meeting with Pope Francis and bishops worldwide in February 2019 in Rome. The “Expression of Concern” letter and list of all signatories will be delivered to Cardinal Cupich in advance of those meetings.

Appointed to the organizing committee for the February meeting of bishops in Rome to discuss clergy sex abuse, Cardinal Blase Cupich of Chjicago has assumed new significance in efforts to repair the harm engendered by decades of coverups and denials. Here is an opportunity to bring lay voices to his attention.

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Finding hope and healing in the face of the abuse crisis / America: The Jesuit Review

The abuse crisis exposes an enormously frightening reality: People, even without a direct experience of abuse, may recognize that they have entrusted the care of their souls to unreliable leadership. (America: The Jesuit Review)

In February of next year, Pope Francis will meet with presidents of episcopal conferences throughout the world to talk about the Catholic Church’s response to clerical abuse. The U.S. bishops met in November of this year and discussed the same topic. In many dioceses, parishes have been or will be hosting listening sessions for concerned parishioners. All these meetings are meant in some way to address the sexual abuse crisis in the Catholic Church.

“The current round of gatherings and news coverage strikes many people as sadly familiar—a replay of what happened in the early 2000s. But this is different. Today’s conversations have shifted. The focus now falls on bishops who were negligent, incompetent or downright devious in dealing with clergy who had perpetrated abuse against minors. This new scrutiny of abuse in the church, one earnestly hopes, will lead to necessary structural realignments. Reforms may include new paths for accountability and transparency, a more rigorous application of existing church law or its amendment if needed, and closer cooperation with civil authorities to deal with criminal activity and any related cover-up.

“Structural reform and renewal are absolutely necessary to reclaim a measure of integrity for the church and—some would even say—for her very survival. These changes, however, are not enough to bring healing. The abuse crisis is about more than just logic and reason. The current crisis has revealed the unreliability of church leaders in protecting the flock entrusted to their care. And that matters very much to everyone with or without a direct experience of abuse. I would argue that any effective healing must take the experience of reliability versus unreliability as a central focus.”

By Louis J. Cameli, America: The Jesuit Review — Read more …

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Vatican appears likely to empower archbishops on abuse claims against bishops / National Catholic Reporter

The possibility of empowering archbishops to investigate allegations made in their provinces was raised at the annual meeting of the bishops’ conference in November, when the prelates were considering a number of proposals to respond to this year’s spate of revelations of clergy sexual abuse. (National Catholic Reporter)

One of the proposals made at last month’s meeting of U.S. Catholic bishops for investigating future allegations of misconduct by prelates appears likely to receive Vatican approval, according to several eminent canon lawyers and theologians.

“The suggestion to empower the nation’s metropolitan archbishops to examine accusations made against bishops in their regions of the country corresponds both with the way the church handled such issues in earlier centuries and the current Code of Canon Law, they say.

“Nicholas Cafardi, a respected civil and canon lawyer, noted that the current version of the code already says the Vatican can give archbishops ‘special functions and power’ in their regions ‘where circumstances demand it.’

“‘This function could be to receive and investigate accusations of sexual impropriety … and then to report to the Holy See on the results,’ said Cafardi, who has advised bishops and dioceses on canonical issues for decades.”

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

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