Cardinal Law’s complex role in the contemporary history of clergy sexual abuse / National Catholic Reporter

Cardinal Bernard Law’s scandalous cover-up and resignation led to a phenomenon that was not expected nor clearly obvious at the time, but it was real. (National Catholic Reporter)

Public awareness of sexual abuse by Catholic clergy actually dates from 1984. It was triggered by the public exposure of widespread sexual violation of children by a single priest in the Diocese of Lafayette, Louisiana, and its systemic cover-up by the church’s leadership that lasted well over a decade.

Cardinal Bernard Law, who went from in 1974 being bishop of Springfield-Cape Girardeau, Missouri, to in 1984 being named archbishop of Boston, became the most powerful and influential Catholic bishop in the United States. This all came to a screeching halt in 2002. In one day Law became the face of hierarchical treachery and dishonesty when The Boston Globe revealed the systemic cover-up of widespread sexual abuse by Boston priests, most of it his doing. He remained the face of the hierarchy’s disgraceful attitude towards the violation of minors and the vulnerable. Even in death he remains the focal point of the anger and rage of countless victims of sexual abuse by clergy — certainly Boston victims, but also others worldwide.

Law’s role in the history of clergy abuse is more than the systemic cover-up in Boston. What is little known is the influential part he played in the early days when the extent and depravity of this evil was first exposed. In those very early days in 1984 and 1985, I believed that when the bishops realized the nature of sexual abuse and potential plague before them, they would lose no time in doing the right thing.

By Thomas P. Doyle, National Catholic Reporter — Read more …

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Voice of the Faithful Focus News Roundup


TOP STORIES

Cardinal Bernard Law, who left Boston in wake of clergy abuse scandal, dies at 86
Cardinal Bernard F. Law(link is external), whose 19-year tenure as head of the Archdiocese of Boston ended in his resignation after it was revealed he had failed to remove sexually abusive priests from the ministry, setting off a scandal that reached around the world, died Tuesday (Dec. 19). He was 86. The Vatican’s newspaper confirmed his death early Wednesday. Cardinal Law will be buried in Rome, according to a statement from his successor, Cardinal Sean P. O’Malley.” By Mark Feeney, The Boston Globe

‘Changes must be made’: shocking Australian child abuse inquiry ends
Children are still being sexually assaulted(link is external) in Australian institutions. That was the stark warning of an exhaustive five-year investigation by an Australia Royal Commission into institutional child sex abuse that concluded Thursday (Dec. 14). In a short hearing in Sydney, Hon. Justice Peter McClellan, who has headed the investigation, said the ‘nation thanks the survivors’ who gave testimony about decades of systematic abuse and cover-ups in religious and state institutions such as churches, youth groups, care homes and schools.” By Lucie Morris-Marr, CNN News

Melbourne’s Catholic archdiocese let pedophile priests free to abuse children
“Culture of secrecy inside Melbourne’s Catholic Archdiocese let pedophile priests free to abuse scores of children(link is external), a damning report by the child abuse royal commission has found. Releasing its report into the Catholic Archdiocese of Melbourne today (Dec. 5) the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse was most scathing of former Archbishop Frank Little.” By Shannon Deery, Victoria Herald Sun

Study ranks dioceses’ online financial transparency; Sacramento at top
“Separated by a continent, the dioceses of Sacramento, California, and Camden, New Jersey, are also divided by degrees of financial transparency(link is external). Parishioners in Sacramento can find out where their donations go with the click of a button on the diocesan website. Those in the Diocese of Camden, which covers southern New Jersey, will have a more difficult time. That is a takeaway from a study on financial transparency undertaken recently by Voice of the Faithful, a church watchdog group.” By Peter Feuerherd, National Catholic Reporter

Retreat restores survivors’ spark
“Grief to Grace retreat director Anne Sherston is changing the lives of abuse survivors(link is external), writes Emilie Ng in The Catholic Leader. At a Grief to Grace retreat held in Hobart earlier this year, a Catholic priest guided 17 abuse survivors through the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. For several days the survivors unpatched hidden wounds caused by traumatic abuse experiences in their childhood or adult life.” By CathNews.com

ACCOUNTABILITY

Australian church, take abuse commission report seriously or risk irrelevance
“After five intense years of inquiry and more than 400 recommendations — with 20 new recommendations specifically relating to the Catholic Church — the report of Australia’s Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse(link is external) is due a considered response. Many will rush to draw conclusions and to try and sum it up long before it is properly digested. Others will be overwhelmed by the sheer volume of issues that need to be addressed.” By Francis Sullivan, National Catholic Reporter

Australia and Catholic Church ‘failed’ abused children, inquiry finds
“A royal commission investigating the sexual abuse of children in Australia found Friday (Dec. 15) that the nation was gripped by an epidemic dating back decades, with tens of thousands of children sexually abused(link is external) in schools, religious organizations and other institutions. The commission, the highest form of investigation in Australia, urged government action on its 189 recommendations, including the establishment of a new National Office for Child Safety and penalties for those who suspect abuse and fail to alert the police, including priests who hear about abuse in confessionals.” By Jacqueline Williams, The New York Times

Archbishop Wilson stands trial in Newcastle
“Adelaide Archbishop Philip Wilson has been accused of covering up child sex abuse(link is external) by the Catholic clergy for nearly three decades. Crown prosecutor Gareth Harrison told the Newcastle Local Court on Wednesday Dec. 6) that Wilson had allegedly been involved in a number of cases where he had tried to prevent abuse claims being reported to police from between 1976 and 2004 to protect the Catholic Church.” By Australian Associated Press on 9news.com

Editorial: Integrity of Brownsville diocese in question; contrition asked of church leaders
“There is no delicate way to say this about an institution that so many believe in so fervently, and put their faith in daily. It’s for that very reason — so many entrust their lives and their faith in an afterlife with the Catholic church and its teachings — that we feel compelled to point out that the Brownsville Diocese has a serious image problem(link is external)right now and church officials must address it quickly.” By The Monitor Editorial Board

POPE FRANCIS

Pope Francis in 2017: question marks over what counts as ‘reform’
“From the beginning, Pope Francis has been labeled a ‘reformer(link is external),’ and also from the beginning, it’s been a bit unclear what exactly ‘reform’ means in his case. Is it revitalizing the public image of a Church that was emerging from an atmosphere of crisis in March 2013, changing the political and theological orientation of the Church in the direction of what some analysts call a ‘pastoral conversion,’ or the nuts-and-bolts work of cleaning house in the Vatican itself?” By Ines San Martin, Cruxnow.com

Pope Francis: poplar worldwide, but some young conservatives question his approach
“The Catholic university overlooking the Ohio River here, with a campus abounding in images of St. Francis of Assisi and a replica of his medieval chapel, shares a namesake with the current pope. But a number of students and staff at Franciscan University of Steubenville are wrestling with the question of how much else they share with Pope Francis(link is external). They admire his personal simplicity and his message of divine mercy. But at a school that emphasizes a staunch defense of Catholic orthodoxy, many stumble over what they see as Pope Francis’ ambiguity on it.” By Peter Smith, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

CARDINALS

Just some media coverage concerning the death Dec. 19 of Cardinal Bernard Law

22nd meeting of Council of Cardinals concludes
“Greg Burke, Director of the Holy See Press Office, has reiterated that Pope Francis and the Council of Cardinals are continuing to discuss curial reform(link is external). During a briefing held this afternoon in the Holy See Press Office, the Vatican spokesman informed journalists about the 22nd Session of the ‘Council of Cardinals,’ often called the “C9,” which began Monday (Dec.11) and ends this afternoon (Dec. 13) in the Vatican. Director Burke noted that the Pope participated in all, but this morning’s meeting, due to his weekly General Audience.” By Deborah Castellano Lubov, Zenit.org

PRIESTS

Permanent deacons – a solution to the shortage of priests
“While the Catholic Church in Ireland tries to address a shortage of priests there has been a concerted move to re-introduce an ancient ministry(link is external) – that of permanent deacons. One hundred men, many of them married, have been ordained to serve the community and assist priests in parishes across Ireland.” By Donna Traynor, BBC News

Ireland’s first healing circle for stressed out Catholic priests
Organizers of Ireland’s first-ever healing circle for priests(link is external) suffering from anxiety and stress have said more therapy sessions are likely to be held across the country from early next year. At least 10 priests from the Munster region attended an initial group therapy session in Parish Center in Ovens, Co. Cork on Tuesday, November 28. But the Association of Catholic Priests (ACP), which organized the workshop, said the event could be ‘the first of many,’ provided there is a strong demand from members of the clergy.” By Nick Bramhill, Irish Central

PONTIFICAL COMMISSION FOR THE PROTECTION OF MINORS

Letting abuse commission lapse, Vatican sends disappointing message
“In December 2013, Pope Francis sparked hope that the Catholic Church was (finally!) taking the scandal of clergy sexual abuse seriously. He created a group to advise him and future popes on how the church worldwide could protect children, appointing experts on the issue and even survivors of abuse to a new Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors(link is external). Now, as of this writing four years later, that commission has lapsed into an inactive state. Its members’ terms of office, as set by the group’s Vatican-approved statutes, expired Dec. 17. Neither the pope nor the Vatican have made known when or if the current members will be reappointed or new members found.” By National Catholic Reporter Editorial Staff

Pope will extend the commission for the protection of children for three more years
“Pope Francis will renew the mandate of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors(link is external) for another three years, informed sources told America this week (Dec. 15). Its membership, however, will not be announced until the New Year. While many of its current members will be renewed for a second three-year term, others will be replaced. The news, which is expected to be announced in the coming days, comes after Francis met the full commission in a private audience in the Vatican on Sept. 21. He indicated then that he wished the P.C.P.M. to continue its work, or as he put it, ‘to continue to be of great assistance in the coming years to the pope, the Holy See, bishops and major superiors throughout the world.’” By Gerard O’Connell, America: The Jesuit Review

Suspended member of papal clergy abuse commission to resign
“The member of Pope Francis’ commission on clergy sexual abuse who was suspended nearly two years ago after publicly critiquing the pope says he will now resign his post in advance of the expiration of his term(link is external) of office Dec. 17. Englishman Peter Saunders told NCR Dec. 13 he is planning to send a formal letter of resignation Dec. 15 to Boston Cardinal Sean O’Malley, the president of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors. ‘It’s just a kind of closure for me that I feel I’ve done my best for the church and the institutional church has kind of rejected me,’ Saunders said in a brief interview. ‘And so I will resign.’” By Joshua J. McElwee, National Catholic Reporter

CHILD PROTECTION

Progress on abuse reporting measure
“Leaders of a local effort to expand reporting of suspected sexual abuse of children(link is external)say they’re feeling good about chances of getting state legislators to take action on a bill this year. Members of a local committee formed to combat sexual abuse testified before the Joint Committee on Children, Families and Persons with Disabilities last week on the bill that would broaden mandated reporting of suspected abuse to include a wide range of people who work with children, including volunteer coaches.” By Rick Foster, The Sun Chronicle

Default must be to trust the victim
“In our legal system, we presume an accused person to be innocent until someone can prove otherwise. In the case of sexual assault, violence or harassment, that means the burden is on victims(link is external) to prove their trustworthiness. Often, in those cases, we are asked to choose sides based on the stories of the only two people involved — the accuser and the accused. In the post-Weinstein milieu we are now experiencing, one is a woman and the other a man who holds some level of power. In a different conversation, the victims have been children and the powerful accused have been priests.” By National Catholic Reporter Editorial Staff

CELIBACY

Abandoning celibacy won’t stop sexual abuse by priests
“Anyone committed to the protection of children should carefully study the important report by the Australian Royal Commission(link is external) into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse. But not the recommendations to the Catholic Church on celibacy and sacramental confession, which media attention has principally been focused on. The commission said the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference should press the Holy See ‘to consider introducing voluntary celibacy for diocesan clergy ‘ and argued that ‘compulsory celibacy (for clergy) and vowed chastity (for members of religious institutes) have contributed to the occurrence of child sexual abuse, especially when combined with other risk factors.’” By Thomas Reese, National Catholic Reporter

MASS TRANSLATIONS

New Zealand bishops ask ICEL to look at 1998 translation
“The New Zealand Catholic Bishops Conference will ask the members of the International Commission on English in the Liturgy (ICEL) to review the 1998 draft Roman Missal translation(link is external) in view of Pope Francis’ recent edict Magnum Principium. NZCBC president Auckland Bishop Patrick Dunn said the New Zealand bishops agreed to write to ICEL to put the possibility of using the 1998 translation under discussion when it (ICEL) meets in February.” By Rowena Orejana, New Zealand Catholic

CLERICALISM

Australian bishop urges end to clericalism
“Bishop Vincent Long Van Nguyen of Parramatta, Australia, speaking to the National Council of Priests of Australia, urged an end to clericalism in the church(link is external) and expressed hope that a newly revitalized Catholic clergy would emerge from the sex abuse crisis that has wracked the Catholic Church in Australia. He spoke Aug. 30 to the National Council of Priests in Australia, which reprinted his remarks in the December edition of The Swag, its quarterly magazine.” By Peter Feuerherd, National Catholic Reporter

Child abuse recommendations test church credibility
“The final report of the Royal Commission(link is external) into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse once more draws attention to the Catholic Church … Clerical status is important because the commission identified clericalism as a significant contributor to abuse within the Catholic Church. It defined clericalism as ‘the idealization of the priesthood, and by extension, the idealization of the Catholic Church. Clericalism is linked to a sense of entitlement, superiority and exclusion, and abuse of power.’” By Paul Hegerty, The Daily Telegraph

WOMEN DEACONS

The orthodox Church’s move on women deacons is a baby step forward
“It’s welcome news, though it is short of any goal favored by feminists, whether Orthodox or Catholic. Patriarch Theodoros II and the Holy Synod of the Patriarchate of Alexandria have decided to reinstate the order of deaconesses(link is external) in the Greek Orthodox Church. Granted, this is not a full acknowledgement of the equality of women and men, but it is a step in the right direction. And it’s a step from which the Catholic Church can learn. Indeed, Pope Francis expressed interest in this prospect in 2016, when he appointed a committee to study the matter. (It’s not clear where that committee is today in its deliberations.)” By Maureen Fiedler, National Catholic Reporter

WOMEN IN THE CHURCH

Interfaith panel describes women’s struggle for equality in religious traditions
“Decades of interfaith dialogue have demonstrated that there are many similarities among the three major Abrahamic faiths. Jews, Christians and Muslims share a common belief in one God. They share common characters, like prophets, angels and Satan. They bear similar codes of morality, social responsibility and accountability. They also share a common exclusion of women(link is external) from religious and spiritual leadership. Though some branches of Judaism and denominations of Christianity have allowed women equal participation in ministry, Islam, Orthodox Judaism, and the Roman Catholic and Orthodox Christian churches continue to dictate and enforce the idea that male superiority is ordained by God.” By Jamie Manson, National Catholic Reporter

“AMORIS LAETITIA”

‘I’m sure it will do a lot of good’
“Changes in canon law don’t come quickly, as the ongoing reception of Amoris Laetitia(link is external)since its promulgation in April 2016 is currently reminding us. But the news this week that Pope Francis has officially recognized the interpretation of Chapter VIII of the exhortation put forth by Argentine bishops indicates that change does nevertheless occur … This counts as big news, but there are also some additional interesting facts about it.” By Massimo Faggioli, Commonweal

Pope’s letter to Argentine bishops on ‘Amoris Laetitia’ part of official record
“Describing them as ‘authentic magisterium(link is external),’ Pope Francis ordered the official publication of his letter to a group of Argentine bishops and their guidelines for the interpretation of ‘Amoris Laetitia,’ his apostolic exhortation on the family. According to a brief note by Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Vatican secretary of state, Pope Francis wanted his letter and the bishops’ document to be published on the Vatican website and in the ‘Acta Apostolicae Sedis,’ the official record of Vatican documents and acts.” By Cindy Wooden, Catholic News Service, in National Catholic Reporter

VOICES

It’s not about celibacy: blaming wrong thing for sexual abuse in the church
Many factors underlie the sexual abuse crisis(link is external) in the Catholic Church … One thing you don’t see on the list of factors is celibacy. Because celibacy does not cause pedophilia. But that hasn’t stopped otherwise thoughtful pundits and commentators, and among them even some Catholics, from opining on celibacy as a cause of the crisis.” By James Martin, S.J., America: The Jesuit Review

We all helped build the wall of silence around victims of sexual assault
“Gretchen Carlson, whose sexual harassment claims led to Roger Ailes’s downfall, recently stated that ‘the culture of concealment and denial(link is external) is coming to an end’ and the Silence Breakers were just named Time Magazine’s Person of the Year. But a culture of silence does not simply end when its victims are ready to speak up. For victims to be heard, we must understand what role we play in building the silence around them.” By Guila Benchimol, Huffington Post

Whether Hollywood or the Vatican, patriarchy gives me n license to abuse
“In mid-November, at what many thought was the height of revelations about sexual misconduct(link is external) by powerful men in the media, the New Yorker Radio Hour presented a series of interviews on the fallout from the unrelenting flood of sordid tales of sexual misconduct and assault by men. In one interview, feminist author and activist bell hooks was asked about the roots of this male aggression and violence. She told New Yorker editor David Remnick that, though she had read a lot of commentaries since the first revelations about Weinstein, hardly any commentator had used the word ‘patriarchy’ to explain the root cause of all of this bad behavior.” By Jamie Manson, National Catholic Reporter

Maryville College sociology professor sees impact of culture in recent sexual harassment revelations
“Tricia Bruce’s first book, “Faithful Revolution: How Voice of the Faithful Is Changing the Church,” published in 2011, is about the lay movement that started in response to that crisis within the church(link is external). Like the child abuse within the church that came out in the early 2000s, often decades after the fact, today women are feeling safer to talk about past harassment. ‘The behavior itself is not new,’ Bruce said. ‘The question is why are people talking about it now, why is there accountability for it now.’” By Amy Beth Miller, The Daily Times

CHURCH FINANCES

Analysis: What the Vatican does to stop money laundering
“The Council of Europe’s Moneyval committee has praised the Holy See’s financial intelligence unit, the Financial Information Authority(link is external), in a report published last week. The report noted the progress the Holy See has made in establishing an effective reporting system for suspect transactions, and in its international cooperation with investigation and reporting of financial irregularities. The report recommended that the financial authority “actively pursue” pending criminal cases of money laundering.” By Andera Gagliarducci, Catholic News Agency

Vatican needs to strengthen fight against financial crime, Moneyval says
“The Vatican earned praise from Council of Europe experts for its updated legislation against money laundering and for its vigilance in flagging suspected cases, but the committee said the effectiveness of the Vatican efforts could not be proven(link is external) until Vatican courts actually prosecuted someone for a crime. Moneyval — the Council of Europe’s Committee of Experts on the Evaluation of Anti-Money Laundering Measures and the Financing of Terrorism — released a progress report on the Vatican’s efforts Dec. 8.” By Cindy Wooden, Catholic News Agency, in National Catholic Reporter

Brownsville Diocese scores low on openness
“The Catholic Diocese of Brownsville was among the lowest scoring(link is external) U.S. dioceses in terms of online financial transparency, according to a study released Nov. 7 by Voice of the Faithful. The nonprofit group originally formed to support survivors of clergy sexual abuse but also advocates for “accountability and transparency” in how the church handles its financial resources. However, a spokeswoman for the diocese said an initiative was already underway to make more financial information available online.” By Steve Clark, The McAllen, Texas, Monitor

The Catholic Church and financial transparency
“Sunday collections and annual appeals: How transparent is your Catholic diocese or archdiocese(link is external)? Do they post audited financial statements on their websites? How are cash donations protected from theft? Recent survey results make me feel as insecure as a basket of $20 bills in an empty room.” By Suzette Martinez, Bucks County Courier Times

Inquiry launched into financial records of Subiaco’s St. Joseph church
“A spokesman for Archbishop Timothy Costelloe confirmed Church administrators had begun a review of the books at the parish of St Joseph(link is external) to ensure ‘professional governance’ and to demonstrate ‘due diligence.’ ‘The Catholic Archdiocese of Perth Administration Centre received several queries raised by a parishioner/parishioners of the Subiaco Parish pertaining to the parish’s finances,’ the spokesman said.” By Nick Butterly, The West Australian

Man gets five years for embezzling $134,000 from UNC’s Catholic parish
“A former administrator was sentenced Monday (Dec. 4) to nearly five years in federal prison for embezzling more than $134,000(link is external) from UNC’s Newman Center Catholic parish. Brian Lee Cansler, 27, of Chapel Hill, pleaded guilty in May to three felonies: fraudulent use of a credit card, bank fraud and aggravated identity theft. Five additional federal charges were dismissed.” By Tammy Grubb, The Herald Sun

Latest Vatican mystery raises more questions about pope’s financial reform
“Perhaps not entirely coincidentally, unhappy news from the Vatican sometimes has a habit of breaking when the pope is out of town, and thus the media spotlight is momentarily somewhere else. When the Vatican decided to put a couple of former officials from a papally-sponsored pediatric hospital on trial(link is external) in early September for financial misappropriation, for instance, they started the proceeding on the day Pope Francis left for a much-anticipated trip to Colombia, apparently hoping it would be wrapped up before he got back.” By John L. Allen, Jr., Cruxnow.com

STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS REFORM

Advocates demand state senators change child sex abuse law
“Advocates on Monday (Dec. 18) gathered outside the offices of two state senators to press them to help get a long-stalled bill passed in Albany that would temporarily lift the statute of limitations in child sex abuse cases(link is external). The dozen protesters, including victims, university professors and supporters, said the “#MeToo” movement exposing sexual harassment against women is giving renewed life to their campaign, which started more than a decade ago.” By Bart Jones, Newsday

Judge’s ruling disappoints attorney
“A local attorney said Monday (Dec. 18) that he is disappointed with the recent ruling by a Blair County judge, concluding that the statute of limitations has expired(link is external) for a woman who last year filed a civil lawsuit, revealing that she was sexually molested, as a youth, by her priest. The ruling prevents Renee Rice from having her day in court, Altoona attorney Richard Serbin said Monday (Dec. 18).” By Kay Stephens, Altoona Mirror

CLERGY CHILD SEXUAL ABUSE

Catholic priest released from jail, but has no apology for sexual assaults
“A former Catholic priest who sexually assaulted young girls(link is external) over three decades has been released from jail after spending four years behind bars. Now 81, he was freed at the earliest possible opportunity, but when confronted by Seven News there was no apology for his actions.” By Laura Banks, 7News Sydney

In sex abuse cases, an expiration date is often attached
“Statutes of limitation are devised to protect people and institutions from false allegations that are impossible to defend because evidence is stale, witnesses are dead and documents have been lost. But as schools increasingly confront sexual abuse carried out against children in their care, sometimes decades ago, the statutes have also become a way for them to avoid paying victims(link is external).” By Elizabeth Harris, The New York Times

We must start believing victims of child abuse
“‘Who did you tell?’ ‘What did they do after you told them?’ These are questions I ask almost every child that I interview. The answers are important; they tell me not just who the child trusts, but also about that child’s history, including what their life as a survivor of childhood sex abuse(link is external) has been like. I am a child abuse pediatrician, specializing in the care of children with concerns for neglect, physical abuse, and sexual abuse. The majority of my work is in sexual abuse, and I am often called to court to explain not only physical exam findings, but the process of disclosure. Most commonly, I explain why children wait to tell.” Editorial by Observer-Reporter

CALIFORNIA

Former Davis priest gets sex charge reduced, dismissed
“A former Davis priest convicted in 2014 of having a sexual relationship with an underage girl(link is external) returned Friday to Yolo Superior Court, where a judge granted his petition to reduce the felony charge to a misdemeanor and dismiss the count.” By Lauren Keene, Davis Enterprise

KANSAS

Catholic priest in Kansas City, Kansas, ordered to trial in indecent liberties with child case
“A 13-year-old girl testified Friday (Dec. 8) that twice when she was 10, a Kansas City, Kan., Catholic priest tickled her breasts against her wishes. A Wyandotte County District Court judge ruled the testimony at the preliminary hearing was sufficient to proceed toward a trial of the Rev. Scott Kallal, 36, who is charged with two felony counts of aggravated indecent liberties(link is external) with a child. The incidents allegedly occurred in 2015 but the police report was not filed until July, when Kallal was suspended and charged.” By Matt Campbell, The Kansas City Star

LOUISIANA

Diocese reports investigation of sexual misconduct involving local priest
“The Catholic Diocese of Baton Rouge said it has informed civil authorities of an allegation of sexual misconduct(link is external) involving a local priest, but its own internal inquiry has not substantiated the allegations. In a statement late Saturday (Dec. 16), the Diocese released not only the name of the priest – identified Fr. Eric Gyan of St. Theresa Avila Parish in Gonzales – but also the allegation: misconduct that allegedly occurred in 1996. The Diocese said the woman, now in her thirties, wrote to the Catholic church of misconduct by Fr. Gyan when she was a minor. At the time, the woman said, Fr. Gyan was pastor of a parish in Brusly.” By Trey Schmaltz, WBRZ-TV

MAINE

Ex-priest with long history as a sex offender pleads not guilty to new charges in Maine
“A former Jesuit priest and longtime Cheverus High School teacher pleaded not guilty Friday (Dec. 1) to charges that he sexually abused a 9-year-old boy(link is external) at a Freeport church nearly 20 years ago. James Francis Talbot, 80, appeared Friday in Unified Criminal Court in Portland. He has been held in the Cumberland County Jail since Wednesday, when he was extradited from Missouri.” By Eric Russell, Portland Press Herald

MISSOURI

Novice of credible allegation of abuse dating to 1950
“The diocese recently received an allegation of sexual abuse of a minor(link is external) by Father Sylvester Hoppe dating to 1953 to 1956. The priest, who died in 2002, was chaplain to St. Mary’s Orphanage in St. Joseph at the time. Consistent with diocesan policy, the allegation was reported to the civil authorities and investigated. It was found credible by the independent ombudsman, Independent Review Board and Bishop Johnston. Several prior allegations have been received against Hoppe since 2002. He also was the subject of two lawsuits claiming child sexual abuse that the diocese settled in 2008.” By The Catholic Key

MONTANA

Victims: $70 million in assets from Montana Catholic parishes at stake in clergy-abuse settlement
“More than $70 million in assets at Catholic parishes in Eastern Montana, including in Billings, could be at stake as part of the regional diocese’s bankruptcy amid claims of sexual assault(link is external) stemming back to the 1950s. Survivors of sexual assault at the hands of priests and nuns dating back to the 1950s say the Great Falls-based diocese has understated its total assets by not including properties held in local parishes, according to documents filed Monday (Dec. 18) in federal bankruptcy court in Butte.” By Erik Olson, KTVQ-TV

NEW YORK

Legal group adds to list of Brooklyn priests names in child abuse cases
“A report sent to media outlets by an attorney group on Thursday (Dec. 14) details abuse allegations against 65 priests(link is external) at the Brooklyn Diocese, including eight priests who have never been publicly identified as abusers. The report comes out just days before a filing deadline to receive compensation provided by the diocese to abuse victims.” By Mary Frost, Brooklyn Daily Eagle

New York archdiocese stresses commitment to aiding victims of clergy abuse
“Nearly 200 sex abuse victims of clergy(link is external) in the New York archdiocese have received compensation through a program the archdiocese says shows the Church’s willingness to reach out to and listen to victims. ‘At a time when nearly every institution that involves minors has had to face allegations of abuse, the Church is now a model in how to respond to this horror,’ the Archdiocese of New York said Dec. 7. Since its program launched last year, the archdiocese has compensated 189 victims of archdiocesan clergy abuse in amounts totaling more than $40 million.” By Catholic News Agency

Archdiocese pays three local men $250,000 each after priest-abuse claims
“Three Hudson Valley men abused by a Catholic priest decades ago will receive $250,000 each in compensation from the New York Archdiocese, according to their Kingston lawyer. Joe O’Connor of Mainetti, Mainetti & O’Connor confirmed the payouts Friday (Dec. 8). The money from the Archdiocese was authorized after a review of the claims the three men filed with the Independent Reconciliation and Compensation Program(link is external).” By Paul Brooks, times Herald-Record

New York Catholic Church pays $40 million to clergy sex abuse victims
“Just over $40 million in compensation has been paid to 189 people who identified themselves as victims of clergy sex abuse(link is external), the Archdiocese of New York said in a report released Thursday (Dec. 7). The archdiocese noted that the Independent Reconciliation and Compensation Program ended Nov. 30, but some additional claims are still being processed. Money for the payouts came through a long-term loan.” By CBS News

NORTH DAKOTA

Former Fargo priest facing sexual abuse charges has been extradited
“A former Fargo priest who faces child sexual abuse charges(link is external) has been extradited from the Philippines to the United States. Fernando Laude Sayasaya was extradited to face state child sexual abuse charges filed 15 years ago in Cass County District Court, U.S. Attorney Christopher C. Myers announced Friday. Sayasaya was arrested in the Philippines last month.” By Forum News Service in The Bismark Tribune

PENNSYLVANIA

Judge tosses lawsuit against suspended priest
“A lawsuit against a former Cambria County Catholic priest was tossed by a Blair County Judge on Friday (Dec. 15) because it didn’t fall within the state’s statute of limitations guidelines(link is external). In her ruling, Blair County Judge Jolene G. Kopriva called the two sisters’ claims ‘untimely’ because they were filed more than three decades after incidents against them occurred.” By David Hurst, The Tribune-Democrat

TENNESSEE

Victims of abuse in the Catholic Church find help locally
“In the wake of the hashtag #MeToo Movement initiated by ‘The Silence Breakers,’ women who spoke out against sexual abuse and assault and the allegations of sexual misconduct(link is external) that spans from the United State Senate, to prominent journalists, to Hollywood, one local diocese is offering help to local victims abused by a member of the Catholic Church.” By Janeen Gordon, WMCA-TV

WISCONSIN

Priest led away in handcuffs after judge hands down 1-year sentence for sexual contact with child
“It started when she was in first grade, when she still had her baby teeth. Robert Marsicek, a priest she trusted, repeatedly molested her(link is external) at a Catholic school in Wauwatosa. ‘My little self thought it was OK and I thought that this was normal,’ she said.”  By Ashley Luthern, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

AUSTRALIA

Catholic bishop warns parishioners that a pedophile priest who raped and abused young girls is set to be released from prison
“A Catholic bishop has taken the rare step of writing to parishioners about a pedophile priest who is about to be released from jail(link is external). Father Finian Egan, 81, is walking out of Sydney’s Long Bay prison on Tuesday (Dec. 19) He was sentenced in 2013 to eight years behind bars for rape and seven counts of indecent assault on young girls during the 1960s to 1980s.” By Stephen Johnson, The Daily Mail Australia

The child abuse commission didn’t flinch. Can Australia show the same courage?
“It’s huge. Don’t believe anyone who tells you they’ve already absorbed its lessons. Digesting the 17 volumes of the report of the royal commission into institutional responses to child sexual abuse(link is external) is a work in progress for the nation. It’s going to take time. Journalists and economists are given a head start on the Australian federal budget each year: a few hours’ lockup to help them get on top of the budget before it’s delivered. We – survivors, bishops, lawyers and journalists – should have been locked up with this for a week.” By David Marr, The Guardian

‘I was abused, too’: the bishop who fought for sex abuse victims
Bishop Geoffrey Robinson(link is external) was born into a world of faith. But in another life, it’s quite likely that he would have been happier as a family man and may not even have been a priest. The retired Catholic bishop is aghast when he looks at 12-year-old boys today because at that tender age his mother, a good Irish Catholic, sent him to the seminary.” By Anne Kim, Eternity News

Royal Commission: support workers pay tribute to ‘remarkable’ abuse survivors
“To be heard, to be listened to, and to be believed. That’s what survivors of sexual abuse deserve(link is external), say the lawyers and social workers who have supported thousands of people who shared their tragic stories with the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Abuse, to be handed down on Friday (Dec. 15).” By Miki Perkins, The Sydney Morning Herald

George Pell: complainants to give evidence on historical sexual offense charges over two weeks
“It is expected to take up to two weeks for the complainants against Cardinal George Pell(link is external) to give their evidence at an upcoming committal hearing, a Melbourne court has heard. The 76-year-old will face the pre-trial hearing in March next year on historical sexual offence charges, involving multiple complainants. No other details of the case can be reported for legal reasons.” By Emma Younger, ABC News Australia

Catholic Church Ballarat Diocese looks toward change after Royal Commission
“It will come as no surprise to anyone who has followed the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse to hear Anne Levey has not stepped foot inside a Catholic church for more than two years(link is external). Her son Paul’s tale of being sent to live with notorious pedophile priest Gerald Ridsdale in Mortlake in the mid-1970s was among the most harrowing heard across more than two years of testimony.” By Brendan Wrigley, The Courier

Victims fear abuse royal commission report will be shelved
“While survivors are grateful their voices have finally been heard and cover-ups exposed, there are concerns over what happens after the five-year institutions sexual abuse inquiry(link is external) ends on Friday (Dec. 8). There is a lot of hope but also much anxiety and a real lack of certainty, survivor and activist Dr Cathy Kezelman says.” By Megan Neil, Australian Associated Press, on News.com.au

Church revealed for all its ‘hypocrisy and self interest’
“Francis Sullivan, the chief executive of the Truth, Justice and Healing Council(link is external) that was set up to coordinate the Catholic Church’s response to the Royal Commission into Child Sexual Abuse, has said the Church ‘has scandalized the faithful and those who rely on it as a moral compass and prudent guide.’” By Mark Broily, The Tablet
— Royal Commission slams Catholic Church leaders(link is external)By Monique Patterson, The Standard
— Sullivan calls for further Church reforms(link is external)By CathNews.com

Archbishop Wilson ordered to face court
Adelaide Archbishop Philip Wilson(link is external) has been ordered to travel to Newcastle to face court this week (Dec. 4) if he is cleared to stand trial by a specialist doctor. Archbishop Wilson, 67, was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease in recent weeks, which his legal team has argued has impacted his ‘cognitive function.’ He was due to stand trial last week — more than 30 months after he was charged — on one charge of concealing a serious indictable offense.” By CathNews.com

Rush on abuse deals before scheme
“Some institutions are rushing to lock child sexual abuse survivors(link is external) into accepting top-up damages payments before a national redress scheme comes into effect, advocates say. A number of institutions are ‘herding people through’ before the mid-2018 start of the federal government’s redress scheme, church abuse victims’ advocacy group Broken Rites spokesman Wayne Chamley says.” By Megan Neil, Australian Associated Press, on News.com.au

CANADA

Retired western Newfoundland Catholic priest George Smith jailed again for sex crimes
“The victim impact statement filed in the sex abuse case of George Ansel Smith(link is external) was gripping. ‘I haven’t had the chance to live yet, I’ve only existed,’ read the words of the man who was abused as a boy by the Roman Catholic priest.” By Gary Kean, The Western Star

One-man play chronicles how ‘the force’ saved sexual abuse survivor’s life
“In an alternate universe, the force has moved mountains, dethroned despots and fine-tuned fighting instincts. For Nicholas Harrison, the force has had a more tangible application — it saved his life. Harrison is at the helm of a one-man show called How Star Wars Saved My Life, an 80-minute long play that debuts at Performance Works on Granville Island Dec. 6. The production hones in on Harrison’s experiences as a survivor of sexual and physical abuse(link is external) and how he reconciled those episodes of abuse as a teenager, and then as an adult.” By John Kurucz, Vancouver Courier

GREAT BRITAIN, SCOTLAND & WALES

Former abbot Laurence Soper convicted of sexually abusing boys at Catholic schools
“The former Abbot of Ealing Abbey, Laurence Soper, has been convicted of abusing 10 boys(link is external) at a Catholic-run school in the 1970s and 80s. Andrew Soper, 74, was found guilty on Wednesday (Dec. 6) afternoon of 19 individual rape and sexual offences of offences after a trial at London’s Old Bailey. Soper sexually abused 10 boys while he was a teacher at St Benedict’s School, Ealing. He would abuse them after hitting them with a cane, the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) said.” By Rose Gamble, The Tablet

Woman abused by Caldey Island monk tells of lasting impact
“A victim of a monk who abused girls on Caldey Island(link is external) has described how she took drugs to numb the emotional pain and eventually fled the UK to escape the memories. Alice – not her real name – told the Guardian her earliest memories were of the monk, Thaddeus Kotik, and how he lured her with sweets and pets into dens he had set up around the remote island off the Welsh coast.” By Amanda Gearing and Steven Morris, The Guardian

After waiting years to be heard, the children of Smyllum tell their heartbreaking stories
“The witnesses wept too as their stories unfolded. The children’s home – run by a Catholic order of nuns called the Daughters of Charity of St Vincent De Paul from 1864 to 1981 – is one of more than 60 institutes being looked at by the inquiry (Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry). But it’s the first to come under scrutiny by the inquiry which is examining cases of abuse from the 1930s onwards(link is external).” By Gordon Blackstock, The Sunday Post

Victim of pedophile priest left so traumatized he attempted suicide
“A man who endured years of sexual abuse(link is external) at the hands of a priest was so traumatized he turned to self-harm and extreme suicide attempts. Father John Kevin Murphy, 93, used his position of trust to groom four boys during the 60s and 70s while working as a priest at St Luke’s Parish in Whiston and the attached St Edmund Arrowsmith Catholic School.” By Josh Parry, Liverpool Echo

GUAM

Notary for Vatican tribunal quits amid allegations
“The notary for the Vatican tribunal who came to Guam to investigate child sex abuse allegations against Archbishop Anthony Apuron(link is external) has resigned from his position at the Vatican’s Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faithful. Rev. Justin Wachs, the notary and recorder for the tribunal, resigned from his Vatican appointed position for ‘personal and professional reasons,’ according to a letter from Sioux Falls, South Dakota Bishop Paul Swain’s letter to clergy dated Nov. 29.” By Mindy Aguon, The Guam Daily Post

Brouillard allegedly raped altar boy in Tumon church decades ago
“Former Guam priest Louis Brouillard allegedly raped an altar boy who was sleeping over at the rectory(link is external) of the Tumon church in the late 1970s, according to a lawsuit filed Wednesday (Dec. 6) afternoon in the U.S. District Court of Guam.” By Steve Limtiaco, Pacific Daily News

Judge limits defendants’ disclosure of clergy sex abuse accusers’ identities
“U.S. District Court Chief Judge Frances Tydingco-Gatewood ordered attorneys for the defendants in dozens of clergy sex abuse lawsuits(link is external) to limit their disclosure of the true names of accusers who are identified only by their initials in court documents. In a Nov. 30 blanket order in at least 101 clergy sex abuse cases, the chief judge said defendants’ attorneys shall not disclose plaintiffs’ true names’until that person has certified in writing that the person is either an insurer or an investigator for the defendants or their counsel and further assures that the true names shall not be disclosed to any other person.’” By Haidee Eugenio, Pacific Daily News

IRELAND & NORTHERN IRELAND

Reporting of suspected child abuse becomes mandatory
“The Irish Association of Social Workers has criticized the HSE for failing to appoint designated liaison persons to oversee the handling of allegations of child abuse(link is external) that are brought to its attention. The criticism comes on the day mandatory reporting of concerns about child welfare has been introduced by the Government.” By RTE

Dutch Catholic church sexual abuse bill soars as hotline closes down
(Dec. 18, 2017) “In total, 3,712 people have reported being victims of sexual abuse(link is external)within the Catholic church to a special hotline set up in 2010 and the cost of dealing with the eight-year scandal could be as much as €60m. Of all the reported cases to the hotline, 2,062 became official complaints and 1,002 cases were declared justified. Several hundred were not accepted because of a lack of supporting evidence, the final report from hotline officials said.” By DutchNews.nl

SICILY

Pedophile priest arrested in Sicily
“For the last three years, a priest who worked in the village of Sant’Agata, on the southern outskirts of Catania, (abused those who) would have been entrusted to him(link is external). Not only would he frighten those who did not want to undergo his ‘rites,’ (he) carried (them) out with a great deal of holy oil. The Carabinieri (one of Italy’s police corps) arrested him this morning: Father Pio Guidolin is accused of aggravated sexual violence against minors.” By Fabio Albanese, La Stampa

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Statement from Voice of the Faithful on the death of Cardinal Bernard Law

We pray for the family and friends of Cardinal Law, whose coverup of clergy sexual abuse was one of the greatest scandals of the Catholic Church. The child sex abuse and coverup, once revealed, pried open many other coverups and failures of the Catholic Church hierarchy. His passing also reminds us that so many of those damaged by the abuse and its coverup have yet to experience healing. We hope, particularly during this season of Advent, that we will see stronger support from the Church for that healing.

Here are notices published elsewhere regarding the death of Cardinal Law:

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Pope will extend the commission for the protection of children for three more years / America: The Jesuit Review

It remains unclear clear whether the P.C.P.M. (Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors) will continue to include survivors among its members in its next three-year term, as it did in its first term. America (magazine) has learned that there has been “considerable discussion” on how best to involve survivors in the work of the commission. (America: The Jesuit Review)

Pope Francis will renew the mandate of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors for another three years, informed sources told America this week. Its membership, however, will not be announced until the New Year. While many of its current members will be renewed for a second three-year term, others will be replaced.

“The news, which is expected to be announced in the coming days, comes after Francis met the full commission in a private audience in the Vatican on Sept. 21. He indicated then that he wished the P.C.P.M. to continue its work, or as he put it, ‘to continue to be of great assistance in the coming years to the pope, the Holy See, bishops and major superiors throughout the world.’

“He praised the commission for its work over the past three years and said, ‘It has continuously emphasized the most important principles that guide the church’s efforts to protect all minors and vulnerable adults’ …

“It remains unclear clear whether the P.C.P.M. will continue to include survivors among its members in its next three-year term, as it did in its first term. America has learned that there has been “considerable discussion” on how best to involve survivors in the work of the commission. While there is agreement that they ‘must have a voice’ there is still discussion on the best ways to achieve that goal. It remains to be seen whether a decision will be taken on this issue before the commission holds its next plenary assembly, which has been provisionally set for April 2018.”

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

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Australia and Catholic Church ‘failed’ abused children, inquiry finds / The New York Times

“Tens of thousands of children have been sexually abused in many Australian institutions,” said the report, which was particularly critical of Catholic organizations. “We will never know the true number. Whatever the number, it is a national tragedy, perpetrated over generations within many of our most trusted institutions.” (The New York Times)

A royal commission investigating the sexual abuse of children in Australia found Friday (Dec. 15) that the nation was gripped by an epidemic dating back decades, with tens of thousands of children sexually abused in schools, religious organizations and other institutions.

“The commission, the highest form of investigation in Australia, urged government action on its 189 recommendations, including the establishment of a new National Office for Child Safety and penalties for those who suspect abuse and fail to alert the police, including priests who hear about abuse in confessionals. It also urged Australia’s Roman Catholic leadership to press Rome to end mandatory celibacy for priests.

“‘Tens of thousands of children have been sexually abused in many Australian institutions,’ said the report, which was particularly critical of Catholic organizations. ‘We will never know the true number. Whatever the number, it is a national tragedy, perpetrated over generations within many of our most trusted institutions.’

“Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said all Australians should read the report.”

By Jacqueline Williams, The New York Times — Read more …

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‘Changes must be made’: shocking Australian child abuse inquiry ends / CNN News

(Hon. Justice Peter) McClellan (head of the investigation) singled out the Roman Catholic Church in particular for often putting reputation above the safety of children in what they found to be decades of systematic sexual abuse — a familiar pattern of scandals dogging Catholic institutions globally. (CNN News)

Children are still being sexually assaulted in Australian institutions.

“That was the stark warning of an exhaustive five-year investigation by an Australia Royal Commission into institutional child sex abuse that concluded Thursday (Dec. 15).

In a short hearing in Sydney, Hon. Justice Peter McClellan, who has headed the investigation, said the ‘nation thanks the survivors’ who gave testimony about decades of systematic abuse and cover-ups in religious and state institutions such as churches, youth groups, care homes and schools.

More than 8,000 people gave evidence in private sessions, and 2,559 referrals were made to authorities, including the police, as a result of the $383 million (AU$500 million) probe.

“‘The sexual abuse of children is not just a problem from the past. Child sexual abuse in institutions continues today,’ said McClellan. ‘In some case studies into schools the alleged abuse was so recent that the children are still attending school.’

“McClellan singled out the Roman Catholic Church in particular for often putting reputation above the safety of children in what they found to be decades of systematic sexual abuse — a familiar pattern of scandals dogging Catholic institutions globally.”

By Lucie Morris-Marr, CNN News — Read More …

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Australian bishop urges end to clericalism / National Catholic Reporter

“The sex abuse crisis was more than the evil acts of individuals. (Bishop Vincent Long) Van Nguyen said the culture of the church contributed to the crisis in Australia.” National Catholic Reporter

Bishop Vincent Long Van Nguyen of Parramatta, Australia, speaking to the National Council of Priests of Australia, urged an end to clericalism in the church and expressed hope that a newly revitalized Catholic clergy would emerge from the sex abuse crisis that has wracked the Catholic Church in Australia.

“He spoke Aug. 30 to the National Council of Priests in Australia, which reprinted his remarks in the December edition of The Swag, its quarterly magazine.

“Van Nguyen, 55, a Conventual Franciscan who became bishop of Parramatta last year, declared in a message to a Royal Commission investigating sex abuse in the Catholic Church that he himself had been abused by church members as an adult. He told the priests’ group that ‘we are in a big mess’ as priests ‘bear the brunt of public anger and distrust in the wake of the sexual abuse crisis. It is one of the hardest times to be a priest.’

“He suggested they look to the example of Pope Francis as a vision of priesthood based on a servant, not an authoritarian, model.”

By Peter Feuerherd, National Catholic Reporter — Read more …

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