Archive for category Voice of the Faithful

Voice of the Faithful “Focus” News Roundup


TOP STORIES

Study reveals wide disparity in online financial transparency of U.S. Roman Catholic dioceses
“A recently completed study reveals a wide disparity in online financial transparency for U.S. Roman Catholic dioceses. The study was conducted by the Finance Working Group of Voice of the Faithful®, a movement of Catholics concerned, among other things, with helping to ensure that the hierarchy uses the Church’s financial resources accountability and transparently.” By Voice of the Faithful
— On MarketWatch(link is external)

Ex-bishops’ doctrine chief says darkness coming to light under Francis
“Capuchin Father Thomas Weinandy, a former chief of staff for the U.S. Bishops’ Committee on Doctrine and a current member of the Vatican’s International Theological Commission, has written Pope Francis to say the pontiff is causing ‘chronic confusion(link is external),’ appointing bishops who ‘scandalize’ the faithful, and prompting ordinary Catholics to ‘lose confidence in their supreme shepherd.’” By Cruxnow.com Staff
— After critical letter to pope, theologian resigns as consultant to U.S. bishops(link is external)By Cruxnow.com Staff
— U.S. cardinal asserts unity with pope after former doctrine chief questions Francis(link is external)By Dennis Coday, National Catholic Reporter
— U.S. bishops consultant on doctrine resigns after criticizing Pope Francis(link is external)By Kevin Clarke, America: The Jesuit Review
— Hypocrisy marks DiNardo’s inadequate response to Weinandy(link is external)By Michael Sean Winters, National Catholic Reporter

Pope Francis appoints two laywomen to key positions in Roman curia
“Pope Francis has appointed two Italian women as under-secretaries in the Vatican Dicastery for the Laity, the Family and Life(link is external), which is headed by Cardinal Kevin Farrell. The Vatican announced this today (Nov. 7) and gave the names and professional profiles of both women: Professor Gabriella Gambino and Dr. Linda Ghisoni. They now become the third ranking officials in the department and are further evidence of Pope Francis’ determination to assign important positions in the Roman Curia to women.” By Gerard O’Connell, America: The Jesuit Review

Stolen Childhoods
“Decades later, the damage from one Philadelphia predator priest still torments a generation of victims(link is external): Like (Jim) Cunningham (who committed suicide), each (Cunnigham’s friends) had been a student in the same Northeast Philadelphia parish school, St. Cecilia’s, in the 1980s when the Rev. James Brzyski turned their community into a stalking ground. Brzyski (BRISH-kee) had sexually assaulted possibly more than 100 boys during stints at St. Cecilia’s and a prior parish, St. John the Evangelist in Lower Makefield, a grand jury later asserted, but like so many abusers had eluded prosecution.” By Maria Panaritis, The Philadelphia Inquirer
— Pedophile priest’s tale cries for day in court for long-ago victims(link is external)Editorial in Philadelphia Enquirer
— Media coverage of church sex abuse scandal is unbalanced(link is external)By Archbishop Charles Chaput, The Philadelphia Inquirer

POPE FRANCIS

Francis’ correction of Sarah shows Vatican II is his ‘sure compass’
“Pope Francis’ letter to Cardinal Robert Sarah, correcting him(link is external) on the procedures now in force for producing liturgical translations, has been both praised and denounced as an ecclesiastical ‘slap down.’ The publication of this letter, however, is an occasion for neither right-wing handwringing nor left-wing schadenfreude. This is not about ecclesiastical one-upmanship. It is simply one more example of Francis’ consistent determination to implement the vision of the Second Vatican Council.” By Richard Gaillardetz, National Catholic Reporter

The war against Pope Francis
Pope Francis is one of the most hated men in the world toda(link is external)y. Those who hate him most are not atheists, or Protestants, or Muslims, but some of his own followers. Outside the church he is hugely popular as a figure of almost ostentatious modesty and humility. From the moment that Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio became pope in 2013, his gestures caught the world’s imagination … But within the church, Francis has provoked a ferocious backlash from conservatives who fear that this spirit will divide the church, and could even shatter it.” By Andrew Brown, The Guardian

CARDINALS

Cardinal Muller backs Pope Francis against critics of ‘Amoris Laetitia’
“Cardinal Gerhard Müller acknowledges in his writing that there can be ‘mitigating factors in guilt,’ referring to the case of access to the sacramen(link is external)ts for divorced and civilly remarried people. The prelate also argued against the self-proclaimed liberal-progressive theologians who raise the phrases they like of Pope Francis to the level of dogma while they question papal magisterium in ‘Humanae Vitae.’” By Ines San Martin, Cruxnow.com

BISHOPS

Petition asks Francis to remove Madison’s Bishop Morlino
“A social media petition campaign asking Pope Francis to remove Bishop Robert Morlino(link is external) as leader of the Diocese of Madison, Wisconsin, has generated more than 7,300 signatures as of Nov. 9. The campaign is a response to an advisory sent to priests by Fr. James Bartylla, diocesan vicar general, that discouraged Catholic funerals for those in same-sex marriages and relationships. The advisory was made public Oct. 22.” By Peter Feuerherd, National Catholic Reporter

U.S. bishops missing opportunity for meaningful conversation
“The press release announcing the agenda for the upcoming meeting of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops was pretty sad. The agenda is thin(link is external). The release notes that the bishops will vote on a new translation for the Order of Baptism of Children, that there will be a report from several committees, and some votes for committee chairs. It must cost several hundreds of thousands of dollars to fly the nation’s bishops to Baltimore, put them up at a pricey hotel for four or five nights, provide meals and transportation. Why spend all that money for an agenda that is this meager?” By Michael Sean Winters, National Catholic Reporter

Differences over church’s role in U.S. culture persist in bishops’ conference
“Two weeks from today (Oct. 27), the bishops of the United States will begin assembling in Baltimore for their annual plenary meeting. On Monday, Oct. 30, I will look at the agenda for the meeting, but this morning I would like to take note of the fact that this year marks the 100th anniversary of the establishment of the bishops’ conference(link is external), examine briefly how the U.S. bishops’ conference began, and how those beginnings remain relevant.” By Michael Sean Winters, National Catholic Reporter

CHILD PROTECTION

U.S. bishops’ new child protection program aims to create culture of mindfulness
“After years of research, the U.S. bishops are rolling out a new training program that takes some of the best risk-management practices from other industries and applies them to child protection in the Church. The new program, entitled ‘Creating a Culture of Protection and Healing(link is external),’ is being piloted in several dioceses and will eventually be available to any diocese by request.” By Mary Rezac, Catholic News Service

MARRIED PRIESTS

Pope raises prospect of married men becoming priests
“Pope Francis has requested a debate over allowing married men in the Amazon region of Brazil to become priests, in a controversial move that is likely to outrage conservatives(link is external) in the Church, Vatican sources say. The pontiff took the decision to put a partial lifting of priestly celibacy up for discussion and a possible vote by Brazilian bishops following a request made by Cardinal Claudio Hummes, the president of the Episcopal Commission for the Amazon, Il Messaggero newspaper quoted the sources saying.” By John Phillips, The Telegraph
— Pope paves the way for married men to become Catholic priests(link is external)By Darren Boyle, Daily Mail

MASS TRANSLATIONS

Cardinal Wuerl: Francis’ liturgical translation reform is ‘what the council said’
“In decentralizing authority from the Vatican to bishops’ conferences for the translation of texts for the Catholic Church’s liturgies from Latin into local languages, Pope Francis is simply putting in place a reform(link is external) called for by the 1962-65 Second Vatican Council, said Washington Cardinal Donald Wuerl. Speaking in an interview with NCR Oct. 24, Wuerl said: ‘The council clearly said this was the responsibility of the bishops, these translations — in communion, obviously, with Peter. Now, we have Pope Francis saying, ‘Isn’t this what the council said?’’ Wuerl said. ‘Shouldn’t we be doing that?’” By Joshua J. McElwee, National Catholic Reporter

CLERICALISM

Need for power and money is path of clericalism, pope says
“Clericalism is a path taken by those who, unlike the good shepherd, concern themselves with money and power and not with people(link is external) who are suffering and neglected, Pope Francis said. Hypocrites, even within the church, focus either on being friends with powerful people or ‘think about what is inside their pockets,’ the pope said Oct. 30 during his morning Mass at Domus Sanctae Marthae. ‘These are the hypocrites, they are capable of anything; they don’t care about the people,’ he said. ‘When Jesus uses that beautiful adjective that he uses so many times with them — ‘hypocrites’ — they are offended: ‘But not us, we follow the law.’” By Junno Arocho Esteves, Catholic News Service, on CatholicPhilly.com

CELIBACY & MARRIED PRIESTS

Is the celibacy of Catholic priests coming to an end
Pope Francis may consider ending the celibacy(link is external) of the parish clergy, at least if local bishops want him to. That much seems clear from the confused reports(link is external) and counter-reports emerging in advance of a conference of Amazonian Catholic bishops in Brazil. This is a special case of a more general problem affecting the church worldwide. There are far fewer men coming forward for ordination than it needs. In France the average age of the clergy is over 60; in Ireland Maynooth seminary, built to train 500 priests a year, this year had only six new entrants.” By Andrew Brown, The Guardian
— Despite reports, Pope Francis isn’t opening the door to all married priests(link is external)By Mary Rezac, Catholic News Agency

VOICES

Priest sex abuse and Hollywood sexual harassment scandals: Cultures of cover-up, cruelty and corruption
“…And how does an entire industry go from denial to denunciation in just eight years? ‘Maybe that’s the new norm,’ said former Los Angeles County Dist. Atty. Steve Cooley, who called me last week to talk about the Polanski case and about Weinstein’s role in defending him. Cooley said the long-running abuse of women by powerful men(link is external) in Hollywood echoes the Catholic Church’s pedophilia scandal, which his office investigated for years, fighting against church leaders who refused to turn over documents.” By Steve Lopex, Los Angeles Times

What society could learn from the Catholic Church regarding child protection
“In the early 2000s, the Catholic Church in the United States was also reeling from a sex abuse crisis(link is external) when the Boston Globe broke the story of a former priest who was accused of molesting 130 minors, mostly young boys, over the course of more than 30 years. This led to a large-scale uncovering of thousands more allegations of abuse in dioceses throughout the country. Since then, the Church has put into place numerous policies and practices to protect children from sexual abuse, including the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Charter for Child and Youth Protection.” By Mary Rezac, Catholic News Service

Luther and Martin, up against the same obstacle
“Martin Luther’s assault on the Roman Catholic Church 500 years ago this week changed the map of Christianity by testing the boundaries of religious liberty and ushered in a new concept of what it meant. The well-known Jesuit James Martin has been caught in the aftermath(link is external) in 2017. Luther was ousted from the church four years after pitching 95 hard-edged proposals for church reform to the pope by way of his local archbishop. His nudges were judged out of bounds by Rome and four years later he was excommunicated. Martin published a book this year suggesting that bishops should relate better to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people; he sparked a backlash from Catholics who saw in his appeal a stealthy effort to change the church’s sexual doctrine.” By Ken Briggs, National Catholic Reporter

Dissent and consensus in the era of Pope Francis: petitions are not the answer
“How do people who believe the aftermath of the Second Vatican Council (1962-65) was a period of great turmoil see the current situation of discord in the Catholic Church? ‘Post-conciliar period’ is a term that has become so vague(link is external) as to be almost useless now. The transition from Benedict XVI to Francis is part of the post-Vatican II period, as was the pontificate of Paul VI and that of John Paul II. Was one of these post-Vatican II periods more turbulent than the others? The most obvious temptation in this situation is not just to take sides – all of us do, consciously or not – but to form a party.” By Massimo Faggioli, LaCroix International

CLERGY CHILD SEXUAL ABUSE

Silence on sexual violence makes church leaders complicit, say victim advocates
“Jessica Mesman Griffith was sitting outside her high school cafeteria, waiting for a ride home after dance team practice, when a janitor approached her with his penis exposed and started masturbating in front of her. She was 14 — and terrified(link is external). About a year later, while hanging out with her girlfriends, each one started sharing stories of sexual assault or violence, by a babysitter, an uncle or their mom’s boyfriend. That’s when Griffith realized, ‘I’m a girl, and because I’m a girl, I’m not safe.’” By Heidi Schlumpf, National Catholic Reporter

Retired priest, 96, arraigned on child pornography charges
“A 96-year-old retired priest who was once a high-ranking official of the Archdiocese of New York was arraigned in State Supreme Court in the Bronx on Tuesday (Oct. 31) on charges of possessing child pornography(link is external). The pictures, which were on his computer, were of girls ages 8 to 14 years old performing sex acts with men or posing naked, the Bronx district attorney said. In announcing the indictment, the Bronx district attorney, Darcel D. Clark, said that Msgr. Harry J. Byrne, who lives at the St. John Vianney Center for Retired Priests in the Bronx, regularly showed people who came into his room the disturbing images.” By Sharon Otterman, The New York Times

Former priest says revered colleague was a predator
“…But those nights at the rectory were not innocent. In August, Mr. Ryan-Vuotto was awarded a $500,000 settlement for sexual abuse by Father Lott(link is external). The money was from a program being run by the Archdiocese of New York to compensate those sexually abused by priests. In an interview, Mr. Ryan-Vuotto said he was abused more than 50 times between 1975 and 1985, in acts ranging from fondling to sodomy. But he kept silent, in part because after the abuse ended, he became a priest.” By Sharon Otterman, The New York Times

ILLINOIS

Area priest arrested for sexual assault
“Father Richard E. Jacklin, pastor of Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Goodrich, was arrested by Illinois State Police on Tuesday (Oct. 31) and charged with sexually assaulting a resident at Shapiro Developmental Center in Kankakee. The 65-year-old Jacklin has been preliminarily charged by state police with criminal sexual assault by force and sexual misconduct(link is external) of a person with a disability.” By Jeff Bonty, Kankakee Daily Journal

Chicago archdiocese wins claim against false sex abuse allegations
“A Chicago man who filed a lawsuit against the Archdiocese of Chicago alleging sexual abuse by a notorious former priest(link is external) has been ordered to repay the church for the money it spent defending itself, a Cook County circuit court judge ruled earlier this month. Church officials in Chicago say that revelations regarding other fraudulent cases could be forthcoming, a prospect that both the archdiocese and victim advocates say will be a disservice to genuine victims.” By Michael O’Loughlin, America

MINNESOTA

Twin cities archdiocese releases names of 19 men suspected of sexually abusing minors
“The Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis on Friday (Nov. 3) afternoon released the names of 19 deceased or former priests or members of religious orders against whom it now acknowledges ‘substantiated claims of sexual abuse of minors(link is external).’ Many of the names have long been in the public domain, released by their religious orders on their own lists of members credibly accused of abuse, named in victims’ lawsuits or on websites compiled by abuse survivors. But it appears to be the first time the archdiocese has released their names in relation to its own jurisdiction.” By Karen Zamora, Star Tribune

NEW MEXICO

Panel discussions planned on clerical abuse
“The Archdiocese of Santa Fe officials will field questions about clerical sexual abuse(link is external) in a series of panel discussions scheduled from Nov. 7 to Jan. 31 at five parishes around the New Mexico, the archdiocese said Monday (Oct. 30). The announcement came less than a week after a court-ordered disclosure of church records about three former Archdiocese of Santa Fe priests, and about a month after the archdiocese released a list of 74 clergy who have been credibly accused of sexually abusing children, together with an apology to survivors.” By Oliver Uyttebrouck, Albuquerque Journal

Archdiocese committed to righting wrongs
“On Sept. 12 the Archdiocese of Santa Fe released a list of 74 priests, deacons and religious who have been accused of sexual abuse of children(link is external). The vast majority of these abuses occurred over 25 years ago. Since then, the Archdiocese of Santa Fe has implemented a number of strict measures, including removing perpetrators from ministry, terminating employment of perpetrators, instituting a zero tolerance policy, and implementing Safe Environment and Victim’s Assistance Programs throughout the Archdiocese.” Guest Column by Most Rev. John C. Wester, Archbishop of Santa Fe, in Albuquerque Journal
— ‘I offer my sincere apology(link is external),’ By Archbishop John C. Wester, Santa Fe New Mexican

Santa Fe prelate voices ‘sadness and shame’ over clerical sex abuse
“Archbishop John C. Wester published an op-ed piece in The Albuquerque Journal on Sunday (Oct. 28) expressing ‘sadness and shame over the betrayal of(link is external) trust’ by clergy ‘who were supposed to love and protect our children,’ and for the suffering of abuse survivors. He also said a series of panel discussions scheduled from Nov. 7 to Jan. 31 at five parishes will ‘promote further transparency and healing.’” By Associated Press on Cruxnow.com

NEW YORK

Former priest accused of sexually abusing minors at Covina, Redondo Beach and Palmdale churches
“A former priest who served in Southern California and was named in a 2015 child sexual abuse lawsuit allegedly allegedly molested at least four additional children(link is external) at parishes in Palmdale, Redondo Beach and Covina, according to lawsuits recently filed in Los Angeles Superior Court. Civil complaints filed in July and October allege former Rev. Chris Cunningham sexually molested boys ages 10 to 15 from the mid-1990s to the early 2000s at St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Palmdale, St. Lawrence Martyr Catholic Church in Redondo Beach and St. Louise de Marillac Catholic Church in Covina.” By Stephanie Baer, San Gabriel Valley Tribune

Retired priest shared stash of kiddie porn with other priests
“A 96-year-old retired Catholic priest kept a large collection of kiddie porn(link is external) on his computer — with pictures of girls as young as eight years old — and shared it with others at the retirement home for priests where he lived, according to prosecutors. Monsignor Harry Byrne was charged Tuesday (Oct. 31) with more than 70 counts of possession of child pornography after cops uncovered the stockpile during an online investigation.” By Rick Perez, New York Post

Group of childhood sex abuse victims inks $1.8 million settlement with two New York archdioceses
“A half-dozen survivors of childhood sexual abuse(link is external) by priests reached a $1.8 million settlement with two New York archdioceses, their attorney announced Wednesday. Lawyer Michael Reck, in revealing the payouts, also publicly identified a pair of Bronx priests for the first time as sexual predators: Rev. Herbert D’Argenio and Msgr. Casper Wolf.” By Edgar Sandoval and Larry McShane, New York Daily News

AUSTRALIA

Pedophile priest set for release after just four years in jail
“A priest who sexually abused girls as young as 10(link is external) over three decades will soon be released on parole after spending four years in a NSW prison, the Daily Telegraph reports. Finian Egan, 81, will be released from jail on December 19, despite desperate pleas from his victims to keep him locked up. ‘This sends a message not just to me, but to every child sex survivor,’ victim Kellie Roche said.” By CathNews.com

Child sex abuse redress scheme to cap payments at $150,000 and exclude some criminals
“The Federal Government has tabled a bill that would entitle victims of child sexual abuse(link is external) in Commonwealth and Territory institutions up to $150,000 in compensation, but it excludes victims who have served time in jail. Social Services Minister Christian Porter said the response of institutions to claims of child abuse were ‘inadequate.’ ‘No child should ever experience what we know occurred,’ he told the House of Representatives.” By ABC News Australia

CANADA

Ex-priest Grecco gets 18 months in prison
“There was no forgiveness in William O’Sullivan’s heart Tuesday (Oct. 24) for the priest who sexually abused him as a child(link is external). But there was empathy as he watched Donald Grecco be led away from a St. Catharines courtroom to serve the next 18 months of his life in prison. ‘I know where he is going. I know what it is like, so I have some empathy. I’m human,’ said O’Sullivan, who has served time in prison. ‘But when they led him away and got the handcuffs out, that was good to see.’” By Grant LaFleche, The St. Catherines Standard

GUAM

Archdiocese compiling list of clergy with credible allegations of child sex abuse
“The Archdiocese of Agana will compile a list of clergy with credible allegations of child sexual abuse against them(link is external), according to Archbishop Michael Jude Byrnes. The Catholic Church on Guam faces more than 140 lawsuits alleging sexual abuse decades ago by 16 different clergy members.” By Haidee Eugenio, Pacific Daily News

Attorney: Priest gave sharp, unemotional answers on Guam child abuses
“Former Guam priest Louis Brouillard did not show much emotion and remained fairly sharp mentally when he provided, over a four-day period, information about the ‘tragic circumstances that allowed him to have access to Guam’s children for many years,’ according to one of the attorneys involved in more than 140 lawsuits accusing Brouillard of child sex abuse(link is external).” By Haidee Eugenio, USA TODAY

Lawsuit: Priest raped, abused Agat altar boy during confessions
“Capuchin priest Jack Niland allegedly raped and sexually abused(link is external) an Agat altar boy during confessions around 1979, according to a lawsuit filed in federal court on Tuesday (Oct. 31.). The lawsuit says Archbishop Anthony Apuron, other priests and the Capuchin Order were aware of Niland’s sexual abuses but deliberately remained quiet.” By Haidee Eugenio, Pacific Daily News

Lawsuit: Priest abused non-Catholic teen he named ‘best altar boy’
“Father Louis Brouillard in 1979 allegedly allowed a non-Catholic youth to serve as an altar boy, sexually abused him(link is external), and later gave him a medallion for being the ‘best altar boy’ at the Tumon parish, a lawsuit filed in federal court on Monday (Oct. 30) states.” By Haidee Eugenio, Pacific Daily News

IRELAND & NORTHERN IRELAND

Irish group offers therapy for priests falsely accused on abuse
“Irish priests who have been falsely accused of sexually abusing children(link is external) are being offered group therapy sessions in a bid to improve their mental health. Ireland’s Association of Catholic Priests will run its first so-called ‘Circle of Healing’ later in November in Cork, as part of an innovative new move to help innocent churchmen who have been affected by past abuse scandals.” By Catholic News Service in Catholic Herald

Four years on, questions continue to be asked of report on Magdalene Laundries
“More than four years after its publication in February 2013, the McAleese Report on the Magdalene Laundries(link is external) continues to generate headlines, but for all the wrong reasons. It has been criticized by survivors, advocacy groups, the human rights community, and the United Nations. The reaction of the Government to it has been rather odd. It continues to cite the report as the essential narrative of the Magdalene Laundries … Yet, it is surprised that, based on a reading of the McAleese Report, religious orders have refused to contribute any money to the redress bill.” By Conall O’Fatharta, Irish Examiner

PHILIPPINES

Lifting the veil of the Catholic Church and the Iglesia ni Cristo
“No doubt the Catholic Church and INC are among the country’s most influential institutions. Wielding power from the truth they espouse, these religions are, however, also prone to controversies and abuse(link is external). But more often than not, they are left unchecked because of how they are revered as institutions beyond question. This has not stopped us, however, from checking on reported abuses – even if it means being at the receiving end of hate and threats.” By Jodesz Gavilan and Sofia Tomacruz, Rappler.com

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Brooklyn diocese names eight priests who sexually abused children / The New York Times

“The Brooklyn diocese hid Father Lara’s secret from the public, but quietly posted Mr. Lara’s name on its website on Thursday morning, confirming that he had been laicized, or defrocked, for the abuse. Later in the day, the diocese posted the names of seven more former priests who were defrocked for child sexual abuse offenses, in an effort to protect children who might come into contact with them.” (The New York Times)

Over the past 25 years, a university professor named Jaime Lara built an illustrious career in the academic world of sacred art history. He was a professor at Yale University for more than a decade, wrote five books and won more than a dozen prestigious awards and fellowships. Since 2013, he has been a professor of medieval and renaissance studies at Arizona State University.

“But through his rise, Mr. Lara has kept a secret. On Thursday (Nov. 8), the Roman Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn revealed that 25 years ago, Mr. Lara, then known as the Rev. James Lara, was laicized by the Vatican for sexually abusing children.

“The Brooklyn diocese hid Father Lara’s secret from the public, but quietly posted Mr. Lara’s name on its website on Thursday morning, confirming that he had been laicized, or defrocked, for the abuse. Later in the day, the diocese posted the names of seven more former priests who were defrocked for child sexual abuse offenses, in an effort to protect children who might come into contact with them.

“The public posting was meant to partly answer victims and their advocates who have pleaded for decades for the publication of all of the names of priests credibly accused or defrocked for child sexual abuse, to prevent the abuse of additional children. About 15 dioceses around the country have published partial lists.”

By Sharon Otterman, The New York Times — Read more …

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Pope Francis appoints two lay women to key positions in Roman curia / America: The Jesuit Review

They (Professor Gabriella Gambino and Dr. Linda Ghisoni) now become the third ranking officials in the department and are further evidence of Pope Francis’ determination to assign important positions in the Roman Curia to women. (America: The Jesuit Review)

Pope Francis has appointed two Italian women as under-secretaries in the Vatican Dicastery for the Laity, the Family and Life, which is headed by Cardinal Kevin Farrell.

“The Vatican announced this today (Nov. 7) and gave the names and professional profiles of both women: Professor Gabriella Gambino and Dr. Linda Ghisoni. They now become the third ranking officials in the department and are further evidence of Pope Francis’ determination to assign important positions in the Roman Curia to women …

“…’the laity have a vocation to fulfill in the church.’ Like Pope Francis, he (Cardinal Kevin Farrell, head of the Vatican Dicastery for Laity, the Family and Life ) said, ‘I am a firm believer that the future of the church depends on them. I have always felt the need to promote laity within the church, and within its organization.'”

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

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Voice of the Faithful study reveals wide disparity in online financial transparency of U.S. Roman Catholic dioceses

A recently completed study reveals a wide disparity in online financial transparency for U.S. Roman Catholic dioceses. The study was conducted by the Finance Working Group of Voice of the Faithful®.

The working group’s review of all 177 U.S. diocesan websites shows a level of openness well below what could be reasonably expected of an organization anywhere near the size of the U.S. Catholic Church: 61 dioceses posted no financial data to their websites, and 75 dioceses did not post parish financial guidelines.

Overall, scores ranged from 10 to 59 out of a possible 60. The average overall score for all U.S. dioceses is 36 (60% if scoring were on a percentage basis). If the purpose of the study had been to measure the dioceses on a pass/fail basis, the overall score would mean that half of the dioceses failed to achieve a passing grade.

Please click here to receive a link to read the entire report, which includes exhibits detailing scores for each of the questions researchers used to judge degree of financial transparency.

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Voice of the Faithful “Focus” News Roundup


TOP STORIES

Pope Francis rebukes Cardinal Sarah on liturgy
“Pope Francis has publicly corrected Cardinal Robert Sarah(link is external), Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, in a letter released by the Vatican on Oct. 22, 2017. In that letter, the pope informs the cardinal that the commentary attributed to Sarah on the motu proprio ‘Magnum Principium,’ regarding the translation of liturgical texts, is not a faithful and correct interpretation of that papal decree.” By Gerard O’Connell, America: The Jesuit Review
— Francis corrects Sarah: liturgical translations not to be ‘imposed’ from Vatican(link is external)By Joshua J. McElwee, National Catholic Reporter
— Pope tells Sarah power is indeed shifting from Rome to the bishops(link is external)By Crux Staff on Cruxnow.com
— Expert says on liturgy, Pope isn’t settling scores but harvesting fruits(link is external)By John L. Allen, Jr., and Ines San Martin, Cruxnow.com

Clerical sex abuse disclosures skyrocket in Pope’s Argentina
“Karen Maydana says she was 9 years old when the Rev. Carlos Jose fondled her at a church pew facing the altar. It was her first confession ahead of her first Holy Communion. She blames the trauma of that moment(link is external) in 2004 for a teenage suicide attempt. And yet she never spoke about it publicly until this year. After hearing that two women who attended her school in the Argentine town of Caseros were allegedly abused by the same priest, she joined them as complainants in a case that in July led to his arrest for investigation of aggravated sexual abuse.” By Luis Andres Henao and Almudena Calatrava, Associated Press

Ex-president of Vatican hospital convicted of abuse of office
“The former president of a Vatican-owned hospital in Rome on Saturday (Oct. 14) was convicted of abuse of office(link is external) for diverting nearly half a million dollars of funds to renovate a top cardinal’s luxury apartment. The Vatican court, a three-judge panel, gave Giuseppe Profiti a one-year suspended sentence. The prosecution had asked for three years for the former head of the prestigious Bambino Gesu hospital. It also reduced the seriousness of the charge against Profiti to abuse of office from the initial embezzlement. Massimo Spina, the hospital’s treasurer, was acquitted.” By Philip Pullella, Reuters, in U.S. News & World Report

Pope Francis endorses internet safety resolution
“For three days last week (Oct. 3-6), about 150 experts in technology, child safety, medicine, mental health and theology gathered in Rome at the Child Dignity in the Digital World Congress(link is external) to talk about how to keep kids safe online and protect children from sexual exploitation. On the final day, the group had an audience with Pope Francis, who endorsed the Declaration of Rome, a 13-point manifesto that outlines the group’s goals for keeping children safe.” By Larry Magid, The Mercury News

ACCOUNTABILITY

Unfinished
“Four years ago in September, I sat at the kitchen table in the rectory reading the newspaper. I was a parish pastor and had been serving parishes and schools for over 23 years. I saw the headlines and was disturbed(link is external). There was yet another story on clergy sexual abuse. I felt angry at Church leaders and fighting attorneys. I felt frustrated that this issue had been going on since before I was ordained. I felt sadness and compassion for victims and their families.” By Father Charles Lachowitzer, The Catholic Spirit, Archdiocese of Stain Paul & Minneapolis

POPE FRANCIS

The new art of pope-watching
“Monsignor Vincenzo Tizzani, one of the most remarkable witnesses of papal Rome’s nineteenth-century transition from temporal power to a landless spiritual authority, observed in 1871: ‘In the halls of the Vatican the human heart very rarely shows itself.’ He was talking about the studied subtleties of the court of Rome, where the pope, a supposedly absolute monarch, was far more dependent(link is external) on his ecclesiastical nobility than other monarchs. That kind of papal court does not exist anymore; the world of more-or-less formalized clienteles is gone, or, better, those clienteles have changed names.” By Massimo Faggioli, Commonweal

BISHOPS

What is Pope Francis’ approach to appointing new bishops?
“Among the most lasting aspects of a Pope’s leadership(link is external) is his appointment of bishops. To understand a Pope, it’s important to understand how he makes decisions about episcopal leadership. With that in mind, Pope Francis’ approach to the selection and appointment of bishops is worth considering.” By Andrea Gagliarducci, CAN/EWTN News, in The Pilot

CELIBACY

‘Priests should be allowed to marry,’ says Derry clergyman
“Fr. Paddy O’Kane, of Holy Family Church in Ballymagroarty, said the move could help address the global shortage of Catholic priests. A quarter of Catholic parishes worldwide now have no resident priest. Fr. O’Kane said the Church may have to ‘take another look at celibacy(link is external) and women priests. Many priests might choose to be celibate, but for those who want to get married it should be an option,’ he said.” By BBC News Northern Ireland

PRIESTS

Does a Catholic priest have any standing to talk about Harvey Weinstein?
“My voice isn’t really credible on this topic, I get that. In fact, I respect it. Even though so much was before my time, even though I had nothing to do with it, I get it. I understand that I have no standing here, that it’d be better and wiser simply to be quiet, hold my tongue. As a priest of the Catholic Church(link is external), I get the near ironic hypocrisy of me saying anything at all. I get it, the anger still smoldering, blazing in some, in the hearts of those wounded by our crimes. I accept it, and I will continue to accept it. Because there’s something about their anger that is just, even holy … But I’m a strange priest, you see, married before I was ordained, I have three daughters and a son, all under 8. And so I see all this, even my own church, with another pair of eyes, that is, with a parent’s eyes.” By Joshua, J. Whitfield, Dallas News

WOMEN IN THE CHURCH

What was Paul doing crashing a woman’s worship service?
“For the past several days, I have been boning up on St. Paul’s ministry in Greece as I prepare to lead a FutureChurch pilgrimage to early Christian sites where women had founding leadership roles(link is external). Most Christians are completely unaware that women helped establish many of the earliest churches in Greece, Turkey and Rome. This is because church tradition always credits their founding to Paul.” By Christine Schenk, National Catholic Reporter

New scholarship offers hope to women who long to be ordained in Catholic Church
“‘There is always a moment in childhood when the door opens and lets the future in,’ Graham Greene writes in his novel The Power and the Glory. For Sheila Durkin Dierks, that moment came around the age of 5 or 6 when she was playing priest(link is external). ‘I can still see the light and feel the air in the room,’ Durkin Dierks said in a recent interview with Women’s Ordination Conference. ‘And I said to my mother that I intended to be a priest when I grew up.’” By Jamie Manson, National Catholic Reporter

FUTURE OF THE CHURCH

Participation in lay ministry training programs down 16 percent
“A study released this summer by the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA) at Georgetown University indicates a 16-percent drop in participation in lay ministry training programs(link is external) over the past year. Zeni Fox, a retired professor of pastoral theology at Seton Hall University, wrote her doctoral dissertation on such programs. She told NCR that the numbers could be an indication that such programs are being increasingly abandoned by dioceses.” By Peter Feuerherd, National Catholic Reporter

Can the Catholic Church keep millennials from passing it by?
“August 15 marked two important events for New York-area Catholics this year. It was the feast of the Assumption of Mary. It was also the start of the Subway Series between the New York Yankees and the New York Mets. The Diocese of Bridgeport decided to celebrate both, with an event billed as ‘Baseball with the Bishop(link is external),’ which is exactly what it sounds like. Young adults of the diocese were invited to attend the game. The group began the evening with Mass in Bridgeport, Conn., before boarding a charter bus bound for the Bronx.” By Zac Davis, America: The Jesuit Review

Catholics of color are keeping the U.S. Catholic Church alive
“As an African-American Catholic, I often feel like the unnamed black man from Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man, present but not really seen … The truth is, the Catholic Church in the United States is being transformed by its black and brown parishioners(link is external), whose numbers and voices are rising. They and priests from around the world are keeping the church alive. When the National Gathering for Black Catholic Women met in Charlotte a few years ago, I connected with my sister, still holding strong in her Baltimore parish—transformed from white to black and offering services with hymns, praise dance and more emotion than the services of our youth. Yet the parishioners are as devout when it comes to the celebration of the Mass.” By Mary C. Curtis, America: The Jesuit Review

“AMORIS LAETITIA”

Those pesky privileges
“In a brief commentary at the Catholic Thing, Fr. Gerald E. Murray rebukes Cathleen Kaveny and Fr. Anthony Spadaro, S. J., for contradicting the ‘plain meaning’ of Christ’s teaching(link is external) about divorce and remarriage at a recent conference on Amoris laetitia. Murray, a canon lawyer, has been a vocal critic of Amoris Laetitia since its publication, and his criticism of Kaveny and Spadaro is really just an extension of his earlier criticism of Pope Francis and Cardinal Kasper.” By Matthew Boudway, Commonweal

Let ‘Amoris Laetitia’ be heard
“Amoris Laetitia, Pope Francis’s 2016 apostolic exhortation, is translated as “The Joy of Love,” but its reception over the last year has been anything but patient and kind(link is external). A richly textured if occasionally unwieldy document that stretches to over two-hundred pages, the controversy it’s generated has almost entirely focused on one chapter—even one footnote—that raises the issue of divorced-and-remarried Catholics receiving Communion.” By Matthew Sitman, Commonweal

VOICES

The madness of Barbara Blaine
“‘Flectere si nequeo superos, Acheronta movebo.’ — Virgil — This quote in Latin is not a Catholic one. It is from Virgil, the great first century Roman poet. It can be translated in various ways, most literally, ‘If I cannot deflect the superior powers, then I shall move the River Acheron,’ and more commonly, ‘If I cannot bend the heavens, then I shall move the powers of hell.’ This is the epitaph I would give to my generous, difficult and ‘mad’ friend of over 25 years, Barbara Blaine(link is external), whose sudden death Sept. 24 I am still finding incomprehensible.” By Peter Isley, National Catholic Reporter
— Remembering Barbara Blaine, a visionary advocate for survivors everywhere(link is external)By Pamela Spees, The Daily Outrage, Center for Constitutional Rights Blog

CHURCH FINANCES

Priest’s plan to spend £15,000 on statue of Christ causes controversy
“These are tough times for churches(link is external), with both congregations and donations dwindling rapidly. As such, a Catholic priest has incurred the wrath of some of his parishioners for choosing to blow £15,000 on a sculpture of Christ to help make the church feel more modern.” By Victoria Ward, The Telegraph

Indonesia bishop resigns in finance, mistress scandal
“Pope Francis on Wednesday (Oct. 11) accepted the resignation of Bishop Hubertus Leteng(link is external) of Indonesia’s Ruteng diocese. The Vatican sent an investigator to look into allegations that Leteng had a mistress and secretly borrowed $94,000 from the Indonesian bishops’ conference and another $30,000 from the diocese without accounting for it.” By Associated Press on Cruxnow.com
— Vatican asks Indonesian bishop to repay funds he allegedly stole(link is external)By Catholic News Service in National Catholic Reporter
— Anomalies abound in Vatican trial over diverted donations(link is external)By Associated Press on Cruxnow.com

STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS REFORM

Pro-Child Victims Act PAC presses for constitutional convention
“The founder of a PAC formed to support candidates in favor of the stalled Child Victims Act in the Legislature is urging sexual assault survivors to vote yes on holding a constitutional convention(link is external) in November. Fighting for Children PAC founder Gary Greenberg, a sexual abuse survivor, said Tuesday (Oct. 17) that a constitutional convention, which would be held in 2019, would allow victims of sexual abuse to run as delegates and ultimately propose amendments reforming sexual abuse statutes. Delegates would be selected in 2018 if a convention process is triggered.” By Matthew Hamilton, Albany Times Union

False hope for Maryland childhood sexual assault survivors
“At first glance, the newly enacted Maryland law that extends the statute of limitations for victims of childhood sexual abuse(link is external) from age 25 to age 38 appears to offer hope to individuals who, for any number of reasons, are psychologically unable or unwilling to seek a remedy for the horrors they experienced as children until they are well into adulthood. That’s not how it worked out, however, and at the very least this law delivers false hope. House Bill 642 instead dealt a stealthy and significant win to the Archdiocese of Baltimore — and any other employer that has allowed perpetrators under their purview to persist in terrorizing children.” By Joanne Suder, Baltimore Sun

CLERGY CHILD SEXUAL ABUSE

Diocesan program seeks to aid survivors of clergy sexual abuse
“The Diocese of Rockville Centre announced today (Oct. 16) the establishment of the Independent Reconciliation and Compensation Program(link is external) (IRCP) for survivors of sexual abuse by clergy of the Diocese of Rockville Centre. The IRCP allows survivors of sexual abuse by priests or deacons of the diocese to seek financial compensation. This program is a major commitment in ongoing efforts by the diocese to respond to the tragedy of sexual abuse of minors by clergy. By The Long Island Catholic
— Long Island diocese creates program for victims of clergy abuse(link is external)By Sharon Otterman, The New York Times

CALIFORNIA

The Catholic Church knew he was an abuser, but helped him get a job in public schools
“Time and again, the record shows, Brother Edward ‘Chris’ Courtney was accused of child sexual abuse in the Roman Catholic schools(link is external) where he taught, and the church responded by moving him to another jurisdiction. That makes his case similar to those of hundreds of other priests and brothers who committed sexual abuse before the problem exploded into national consciousness more than 15 years ago. What sets Courtney apart is this: According to a lawsuit settled last week in Seattle’s King County Superior Court, he was ultimately shuffled off to a public school, where he continued to commit sexual assault.” By Rick Anderson, The Los Angeles Times
— Moving an accused abuser to public schools is a new low for the Catholic Church(link is external)Letter to the Editor, Los Angeles Times

MINNESOTA

Statement regarding reinstatement of Rev. James Devorak
“I have accepted the recommendation of the Archdiocesan Ministerial Review Board (MRB) and the Director of the Office of Ministerial Standards and Safe Environment to return Father James Devorak to ministry(link is external) in the Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis … In July 2017, an accusation of an alleged single incident of sexual abuse said to have occurred in 1995 was reported to the Glencoe Police Department. On August 31, 2017, the Glencoe Police Department announced that it had completed its investigation, that Father Devorak had fully cooperated in the investigation and that no charges would be brought … It is my hope that this one allegation will not over shadow the life’s work of Father James Devorak.” By Archbishop Bernard Hebda, Archdiocese of St. Paul & Minneapolis

NEW MEXICO

New Mexico judge orders release of clergy sex abuse records
“The Archdiocese of Santa Fe has released hundreds of pages of court records related to sexual abuse allegations against clergy(link is external) members in response to an order from a New Mexico judge, marking the largest disclosure of such records since alleged victims began suing the archdiocese nearly three decades ago … The documents include letters showing church leaders knew of sexual abuse allegations that had been leveled against three priests from the 1960s through the 1980s.” By Associated Press on ReligionNews.com

A cautionary tale: clergy sex abuse victim’s confidentiality breached
“The story of plaintiff Jane L.S. Doe’s clergy sex abuse lawsuit(link is external) in Coconino County Superior Court should be a cautionary tale for all sex abuse victims. Particularly for any abuse survivor who is given promises that his or her identity and personal information will be kept confidential by attorneys and the court system. In the case of Jane L.S. Doe v. the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament and St. Michael Indian School, Doe’s real name, identifying information and confidential details about her abuse have been published all throughout the public court file for months courtesy of the attorneys for the Sisters and Catholic school and her own attorney is now scrambling to seal all those documents.” By Elizabeth Hardin-Burrola, Gallup Independent, on Bishop-Accountability.org

NEW YORK

Alleged victim of clergy abuse shares story as diocese unveils fund
“As the Diocese of Rockville Centre unveils a compensation fund for victims of clergy sex abuse(link is external), a Long Island man who says he was sexually abused by a priest decades ago is sharing his story. Thomas McGarvey says he grew up in a typical Irish Catholic family. He also says he was abused by a priest at St. Catherine of Sienna in Franklin Square, starting when he was 16. Ever since then, McGarvey says he has struggled in both his personal and professional life.” By News12 Long Island

OHIO

Former Catholic church music director facing federal child porn charges
“A man behind the music at a Catholic church for almost a decade is facing charges of receiving and possessing child pornography(link is external). Investigators found stacks of images inside the Clifton home of Dan Fuerst, 69, in August. Fuerst was the music director at St. Maximilian-Kolbe Parish in Liberty Township from March 23, 2001 through June 30, 2010. The Diocese of Cincinnati confirms he also worked in other churches in the diocese previous to 2001.” By Amanda Kelley, WLWT-TV

PENNSYLVANIA

Religious institution-focused training in child abuse prevention now available
“Did you know mandated reporters are people who are required by law to report suspected child abuse(link is external)? To tell them about their obligation, the Pennsylvania Family Support Alliance provides child protection and Mandated Reporter Training. Recently, the PFSA began offering religious-based institutions specialized training materials for their mandated reporters of child abuse. Reverend Kathy Nice of the Presbytery of Kiskiminetas had requested these materials to better meet their training needs.” By Anna Nguyen, The Philadelphia Inquirer

WASHINGTON

Sex abuse lawsuit filed against Catholic diocese
“A lawsuit alleging sexual abuse of a minor(link is external) was filed against the Catholic Diocese of Yakima in Superior Court on Tuesday (Oct. 24). The lawsuit was filed on behalf of a young man who said that the Rev. Gustavo Gómez Santos abused him at St. Juan Diego Catholic Church in Cowiche in 2012 when the alleged victim was 16 or 17 years old. Last May, after the young man reported the abuse to the Yakima County Sheriff’s Office, Gómez was permanently removed from public ministry by Bishop Joseph Tyson.” By Jane Gargas, Yakima Herald

AUSTRALIA

Former Campbeltown Catholic priest charged with historic sex offenses
“A former Catholic priest who also worked as a Campbelltown teacher in the 1980s and 1990s, has been charged with historic sexual assault offences(link is external). It is alleged the 78-year-old man assaulted three boys. One of the boys was allegedly assaulted during the man’s time as a teacher in Campbelltown.” By Wollondilly Advertiser

Catholic Church ‘hiding behind the law’ over historic abuse compensation claims
“A man who was raped and beaten by priests and brothers(link is external) as a 12-year-old says he felt like a beggar when he asked the Catholic Church for money to pay for medical bills for treatment of the mental and physical illness he suffered as a result of his abuse.” By Louise Milligan, ABC News Australia

Head of Catholic Church body updates response to Royal Commission
“‘The Catholic Church has been the single largest institutional grouping to have perpetrated sexual abuse on children(link is external) over the past half century,’ says Francis Sullivan, CEO of the Truth Justice Healing Council. The Council was set up to coordinate the Catholic Church’s response to the Royal Commission Into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse. With the Royal Commission’s report due to be handed down by the end of this year, the Council’s CEO updates Jon Faine on the progress of the redress scheme.” By ABC News Australia

GUAM

Church revamps child protection policy
Child sexual abuse allegations(link is external) against Archbishop Anthony Apuron went unchecked for years because of an inadequate policy for the protection of children and young people, according to Archbishop Michael Byrnes, who said the island’s Catholic church has completely revised its policy. Byrnes said the decision about whether to move forward with an investigation rested with the archbishop. That decision now will be made by an independent body, he said Tuesday (Oct. 24).” By Haidee Eugenio, Pacific Daily News

Archdiocese committed to protecting youth against sexual abuse
“Over the last several years the Archdiocese of Guam has found itself in the midst of sexual abuse scandals(link is external), to date over 100 cases of sexual abuse has been filed against the church. But even more alarming in each case it is alleged that the Archdiocese was aware and conspired to cover-up the widespread sexual violence … Today, it appears that at least for the Archdiocese of Guam, they are attempting to make a change, through the implementation of policies addressing the problems of sexual abuse by clergy, employees and volunteers.” By Jolene Toves, Pacific News Center

New priest accused of raping boy for five years
“Another priest, the now-deceased Monsignor Jose Ada Leon Guerrero, was added to the list of Guam clergy accused of sexually abusing or raping children(link is external). A plaintiff, identified in court documents only as C.M.V. to protect his privacy, said in his complaint filed Wednesday (Oct. 17) that the priest sexually abused him, including penetration, when he was about 9 to 13 years old from about 1969 to 1973.” By Haidee Eugenio, Pacific Daily News

Lawsuit: Apuron tells altar boy to ‘pray, get over’ sexual abuse by another priest
“Archbishop Anthony S. Apuron allegedly told an altar boy that he will get over an evil situation if he prays about it, after the boy told Apuron that Father Raymond Cepeda sexually abused him from around 1992 to 1999(link is external), a lawsuit filed in federal court on Tuesday (oct. 17) says. The plaintiff, identified in court documents only as P.P. to protect his privacy, said in his lawsuit that he made several attempts to report Cepeda to members of the clergy including Apuron. ‘During P.P.’s meeting with Apuron, Apuron told P.P. that ‘P.P. needs to pray about these types of evil in the world and that P.P. would get over it, if he prayed about it,’” the lawsuit says.” By Haidee Eugenio, Pacific Daily News

IRELAND & NORTHERN IRELAND

Call to open Church records to abuse survivors
“The Government must push the Catholic Church and religious orders to open their records to abuse survivors and academics(link is external). Catriona Crowe, former head of special projects at the National Archives of Ireland, said that it ‘should not be a matter of grace and favour’ that survivors are granted full access to records, but a matter of right. She said Ireland had seen unprecedented disclosures relating to treatment of vulnerable women and children across a unique archipelago of institutions — mother and baby homes, Magdalene laundries, industrial schools, and reformatories. She said the only way to achieve a complete picture of what happened is to have full access to their archives.” By Conall O’Fatharta, Irish Examiner

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Clerical sex abuse disclosures skyrocket in Pope’s Argentina / Associated Press

“The allegations are part of a growing trend: While Pope Francis struggles to make good on his ‘zero tolerance’ pledge to fight clerical sex abuse worldwide, victims in his native Argentina are denouncing abuses in unprecedented numbers. An analysis by The Associated Press shows that the number of clerics publicly identified as alleged sexual abusers has increased dramatically in the last two years.” (The Associated Press)

Karen Maydana says she was 9 years old when the Rev. Carlos Jose fondled her at a church pew facing the altar. It was her first confession ahead of her first Holy Communion.

“She blames the trauma of that moment in 2004 for a teenage suicide attempt. And yet she never spoke about it publicly until this year. After hearing that two women who attended her school in the Argentine town of Caseros were allegedly abused by the same priest, she joined them as complainants in a case that in July led to his arrest for investigation of aggravated sexual abuse.

“‘Unfortunately, there are many of us. But speaking about it now also gives you strength to carry on,’ Maydana, 22, said. ‘I have a 9-year-old niece who’s receiving her Communion this year, and this is not going to happen to her.’

“The allegations are part of a growing trend: While Pope Francis struggles to make good on his ‘zero tolerance’ pledge to fight clerical sex abuse worldwide, victims in his native Argentina are denouncing abuses in unprecedented numbers. An analysis by The Associated Press shows that the number of clerics publicly identified as alleged sexual abusers has increased dramatically in the last two years.”

By Luis Andres Henao and Almudena Calatrava, The Associated Press — Read more …

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Stolen Childhoods / The Philadelphia Inquirer

“Rev. James Brzyski turned their community into a stalking ground. Brzyski (BRISH-kee) had sexually assaulted possibly more than 100 boys during stints at St. Cecilia’s and a prior parish, St. John the Evangelist in Lower Makefield, a grand jury later asserted, but like so many abusers had eluded prosecution.” Philadelphia Inquirer

Decades later, the damage from one Philadelphia predator priest still torments a generation of victims.

“Like (Jim) Cunningham (who committed suicide), each (Cunnigham’s friends) had been a student in the same Northeast Philadelphia parish school, St. Cecilia’s, in the 1980s when the Rev. James Brzyski turned their community into a stalking ground. Brzyski (BRISH-kee) had sexually assaulted possibly more than 100 boys during stints at St. Cecilia’s and a prior parish, St. John the Evangelist in Lower Makefield, a grand jury later asserted, but like so many abusers had eluded prosecution.

“As far as any of Cunningham’s boyhood friends had known, the scrawny bookworm with a million-dollar smile had been among the lucky altar boys to avoid the predator’s reach. He had earned a master’s degree, built a career, even won a seat on his local board of supervisors.

“But in truth, his world had spiraled over a simmering torment: long-ago abuse at the hands of Brzyski. His anguish peaked one February night in Doylestown, surrounded by the same Bucks County SWAT team he had helped with suicide standoffs. His mom had called the police to save her distraught son. Inside, Cunningham had posted a note on Facebook: ‘This is the face of being raped as a child.'”

By Maria Panaritis, The Philadelphia Inquirer — Read more …

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