‘The List’ – Watch Here or On WHYY

Please watch …

Catholics4Change

“The List” tells the hidden story of one of the worst criminal cover-ups in America’s history – the clergy sex abuse scandal in Philadelphia. The victims, hundreds of children whose lives were destroyed. The perpetrators, Catholic priests protected by their church.

Catholics4Change is honored to have been a part of the making of this documentary. It will appear on WHYY, Friday, May 12th at 10:30 pm. You can also view it through this link:

Watch “The List.”

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Guam archbishop’s first sex abuse accuser testifies before Vatican tribunal / USA TODAY

“Cardinal Raymond Leo Burke and the Vatican tribunal is wrapping up the discovery phase and is entering another phase in the groundbreaking canonical trial of Archbishop Anthony S. Apuron.

“John Toves, the first to publicly accuse Apuron in 2014 of sexual abuse of a minor, testified before the Vatican tribunal at the archbishop’s residence in San Francisco on Monday (Tuesday, Guam time), about Apuron’s alleged sexual abuse of Toves’ cousin while the cousin was an altar boy at the Dulce Nombre de Maria Cathedral-Basilica in Hagåtña.

“Toves said the Rev. Justin M. Wachs, who serves as the Vatican court reporter for the Apuron trial, told Toves he’s the last accuser to present testimony.

By Haidee Eugenio, Pacific Daily News, in USA TODAY — Read More …

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Voice of the Faithful Focus

Voice of the Faithful’s twice monthly news roundup highlighting
issues we face working together to Keep the Faith, Change the Church

VOTF LogoMay 8, 2017

TOP STORIES

Evidence likely sufficient for Vatican to decide on Apuron by late July
“Minnesota-based canon lawyer and former priest Patrick J. Wall said there appears to be more than sufficient evidence for a Vatican tribunal(link is external) to come to a decision on Archbishop Anthony S. Apuron’s canonical penal trial, after two accusers provided testimony in March. ‘In short, the Roman Pontiff can step in and make a decision since he is the supervisor of Apuron,” said Wall.” By Haidee Eugenio, Pacific Daily News

U.S. priests’ group calls Vatican vocations document ‘insulting’
“Declarations in the Vatican Congregation for the Clergy’s recent document ‘The Gift of the Priestly Vocation’ have been called ‘disrespectful,’ ‘ambiguous’ and ‘insulting(link is external)’ by the Association of U.S. Catholic Priests. In a statement released April 19, the 1,200-member Ohio-based organization charged that ‘the terms ‘homosexual tendencies’ and ‘deep-seated homosexual tendencies’ are ambiguous and disrespectful of the personhood of those who identify with a homosexual orientation.’ The terms appear in the Dec. 8, 2016, document’s section titled ‘Persons with Homosexual Tendencies.’” By Dan Morris-Young, National Catholic Reporter

Montana Catholic officials say bankruptcy ‘best and only way’ to compensate the sexually abused
“The recent bankruptcy filing by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Great Falls-Billings was the ‘best and only way’ it could meet its obligations to all victims with sexual abuse(link is external)claims and continue its ministry, church officials said … The bankruptcy is likely to be complicated and take time. How it could affect the diocese’s operations, along with parishes, schools and other church programs, is not yet clear.” By Clair Johnson, Billings Gazette

Catholic bishops urged to renew celibacy rules amid shortage of priests
“Catholic bishops in England and Wales are facing a fresh call for a national commission on the ordination of married men(link is external) amid mounting concern that the church’s celibacy requirement is contributing to a shortage of priests … The Movement for Married Clergy (MMaC) is renewing its call for a national commission of bishops, clergy and laity to discuss ways of tackling the shortage of priests. ‘We’re asking bishops to recognize the issue and examine possible solutions in good faith,’ said the MMaC secretary, Chris McDonnell.” By Harriet Sherwood, The Guardian

Council of Cardinal speaks about decentralizing authority in the church
“The group of cardinals advising Pope Francis on reforming the Vatican bureaucracy spoke in their latest meeting about how to decentralize authority in the Catholic church(link is external) and improve relationships between the Vatican and local bishops’ conferences. The nine member Council of Cardinals spoke in their April 24-26 meeting about how the Vatican can ‘be more at the service of local bishops’ spokesman Greg Burke said.” By Joshua J. McElwee, National Catholic Reporter

Child sex abuse survivors visit Wall Street’s fearless girl, urge to fix child-rape law
“The ‘Fearless Girl’ has nothing on child sex abuse survivors(link is external) Bridie Farrell and Steve Jimenez. The unflinching pair came to Wall Street, urging passage of a long-rejected proposal that would finally give a full voice to the victims of sexual predators. They stood behind the ‘Fearless Girl’ statue in the Financial District to recount their own stories of abuse — and support the 11-year-old ‘Child Victims Act.’” By Micah danney and Larry McShane, New York Daily News

POPE FRANCIS

Letter from Rome: Don’t say ‘We have always done things this way’
“Vatican II pulled down the sectarian walls(link is external) behind which the Catholic Church had long taken refuge. It rediscovered and deepened the real consequences of our Christian belief in the incarnation of Jesus Christ and how that demands us to be involved in the world and not stand apart from it.” By Robert Mickens, Commonweal

Two key takeaways from the Pope’s TED talk
“Pope Francis recently gave a talk at the TED international conference, which brings in influential speakers. The talk – a surprise for all in the audience – recapitulated the key themes of the Argentinian pope’s view(link is external) of the human person: We are all related and interconnected; scientific and technological progress must not be disconnected from social justice and care for the neighbor; and that the world needs tenderness.” By Massimo Faggioli, Religion News Service

PRIESTS

Catholic church struggling to recruit future priests
“Facing an acute shortage of priests(link is external) brought on by aging in its ranks, and hoping to connect with younger parishioners, the Catholic Church is intensifying its recruitment of young men to the priesthood, an effort made more difficult by the different motivations and interests of the millennial generation.” By Sara Flores, Beaumont Enterprise
Save the Date, Jun. 19-22, for priests association assembly
“I just received this press release from the Association of U.S. Catholic Priests. The association’s annual meeting(link is external) will convene in Atlanta, Georgia, this June. Below are the details: The AUSCP 2017 Assembly, Peacemaking in Our Fractured Society, will be held June 19-22 at the Airport Marriott in Atlanta …” By Dennis Coday, National Catholic Reporter

FUTURE OF THE CHURCH

Vermont Catholics prepare for ‘extraordinary council’
“Emerging from a priest-sex-abuse scandal but still confronting challenges with finances and decreasing participation, Vermont’s Roman Catholic diocese is embarking on a yearlong re-examination of church structure and rules(link is external). Bishop of Burlington Christopher Coyne plans to convene ‘an extraordinary council of the church’ known as a synod next year — the first for Vermont’s Catholics in more than half a century … Events surrounding the synod are set to begin this fall, when the bishop plans to embark on a listening tour of sorts to hear from a wide range of parishioners who make up Vermont’s dominant religion.” By Adam Silverman, Burlington Free Press

Woman theologian examines new forms of religious life
“Kottayam: Kochurani Abraham, a feminist theologian, left a congregation of women religious to lead an independent religious life in her home state of Kerala, southern India. Her name, ‘Kochurani,’ means ‘little princess.’ Although born in a traditional Catholic family, she said religion did not attract her when she studied in Catholic schools in Kerala. However, a Catholic youth program she organized made her rethink her values. She said it awakened a dormant spirituality in her life that made her sensitive to the marginalized(link is external).” By Philip Matthew, MattersIndia.com

“AMORIS LAETITIA”

Ethicist sees “Joy of Love’ as call-out for family, justice
“There’s a lot going on in ‘The Joy of Love(link is external)’ (Amoris Laetitia), the exhortation Pope Francis published last year after the two-part synod on the family, but, says theologian Julie Hanlon Rubio, the core of it is pretty simple. An array of social forces makes marriage and family life more difficult — poverty, incarceration, migration, violence, racism, individualism and many more. ‘The pope says, if we care about marriage and family, we have to care about these issues as well …’” By Patrick Reardon, National Catholic Reporter

Dissenters’ conference on Amoris Laetitia hears call for an answer to the dubia
“Pope Francis ‘needs to be fraternally corrected’ because he has issued ‘Amoris Laetitia(link is external),’ the post-synodal exhortation on the family, ‘that implies heresies,’ and although he ‘does not directly contradict the doctrine of the indissolubility of marriage, he does so indirectly,’ Professor Claudio Pierantoni, an Italian who teaches in a university in Chile, stated at a conference in Rome today (Apr. 22).” By Gerard O’Connell, America: The Jesuit Review

Marriage and divorce: The limits of the Roman Catholic mind
“The conservative resistance to Pope Francis(link is external) has circled its firing squad around ‘Amoris Laetitia,’ the year-old apostolic exhortation that opens the door to communion for divorced and remarried Catholics. A week ago, speakers at a conference in Rome accused the pope of heresy … ‘The pope,’ declared Australian theologian Anna M. Silvas, ‘is a skandalon (scandal), the rock has become the stumbling block.’ To be sure, the other side has mounted a defense, but it’s striking how little attention has been paid on either side to the theological concept that best supports the pope’s opening — and how ill-informed that attention has been.” By Mark Silk, Religion News Service

CELIBACY

Fresh concerns over celibacy rules for Catholic priests
“Rules preventing Catholic priests(link is external) in England and Wales from getting married should be open to fresh discussion, it has been claimed. The call comes from the Movement for Married Clergy (MMaC) which fears a celibacy requirement is deterring men from pursuing ordination. Secretary of the MMaC, Chris McDonnell, told Premier: ‘The Pope has made it very, very clear that he wants a listening church.’” By Alex Williams, Premire.org.uk

VOICES

The unhappy leadership history of St. Luke’s Institute
“There’s irony in the news that a laicized priest, who once ran a counseling center, has agreed to counseling as a condition of his parole(link is external). In case you missed the story, Edward Arsenault resigned from his post as head of the St. Luke Institute in Maryland in 2013, after he was charged with financial as well as sexual improprieties. He was eventually sentenced to a 4-year prison term after pleading guilty to misappropriating over $300,000 from the Diocese of Manchester, New Hampshire, where he once served as chancellor. The sexual improprieties, involving an adult male recording artist, were not criminal offenses.” By Phil Lawler, CatholicCulture.org

CHURCH FINANCES

Former Catholic pastor pleads guilty in scheme to steal Maryland church funds
“Prosecutors say a former church pastor in Maryland has pleaded guilty in connection with a scheme to steal more than $76,000 in church funds(link is external). Prosecutors said in a statement Tuesday (May 2) that 71-year-old Rev. John S. Mattingly of Charlotte Hall, Maryland, pleaded guilty to bank fraud. Prosecutors say that Mattingly was the pastor of St. Francis Xavier Catholic Church in Leonardtown, Maryland, from 1994 to 2010.” By Associated Press on WJLA-TV

STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS REFORM

Protecting children every day
“Child abuse can include sexual, physical and mental abuse, encompassing anything from neglect, abandonment, or even exploitation. In Oklahoma, 15 out of every 1000 children were abused in 2014, which was almost twice the rate that was reported in 2011 … This session, there are two bills moving through the legislative process aimed at helping child abuse survivors seek justice(link is external) against their abusers. The measures would amend the timeframe for abuse survivors to file criminal and civil cases against their abusers.” By Sen. Wayne Shaw, Pawhuska Journal Capital

CLERGY CHILD SEXUAL ABUSE

Website launched containing database of child sex abusers
“A new website has been launched which provides statistical information about alleged sexual abuse of minors by the Catholic Church(link is external) in 49 countries. It was created and designed to encourage legislation to expand the statute of limitations on sex crimes committed against minors. According to the website’s creator and analyst, G.R. Pafumi, the database took him two and a half years to complete.VictimsSpeakDB.org contains a database of Survivor Accounts of Catholic Clergy Abuse, Denial, Accountability and Silence, or SACCADAS.” By Donna De Jesus, Pacific News First

ILLINOIS

Former Catholic pastor pleads guilty to child porn, gets 4-year sentence
“A former associate pastor at an Arlington Heights church was sentenced to four years in prison Thursday (Apr. 28) for distributing child pornography(link is external), according to court records. Clovis Vilchez-Parra, 36, also was ordered to register as a sex offender after pleading guilty to the charge during a hearing in Cook County’s Rolling Meadows branch court. Numerous other pornography charges were dropped in exchange for his plea.” By George Houde, Chicago Tribune

Chicago Archdiocese to pay $4.45 million to settle priest abuse lawsuits
“The Archdiocese of Chicago will pay $4.45 million to settle three lawsuits brought by three men who allege they were sexually abused(link is external) more than a decade ago by former Roman Catholic priest, basketball coach and convicted sex offender Daniel McCormack, the plaintiffs’ attorney said Tuesday. According to Mark Brown, the attorney for the three plaintiffs, two brothers reached settlements in late January.” By Manya Brachear Pashman, Chicago Tribune

LOUISIANA

Breauz Bridge priest pleads not guilty to 20 child porn charges
“Nearly 10 months after his arrest in a child pornography investigation(link is external), a Roman Catholic priest made his first court appearance on Tuesday (May 2) to plead not guilty to the alleged crimes. Felix David Broussard, 51, has been formally charged with 20 counts of possessing pornography involving juveniles. He appeared in 16th Judicial Court in St. Martin Parish on Tuesday (May 2) for an arraignment.” By KATC-TV

MAINE

York gathers for form child sexual assault awareness campaign
“Jean Browne had been sexually abused at 5, and as a teenager(link is external), was a victim of date rape … Dennis O’Connor was abused by his parish priest when he was a kid, and his disclosure ultimately led to the priest’s prosecution … Heather Brower was 11 years old when she was sexually abused … These York residents were among a group of about 30 people who came to the York Library Friday (Apr. 28) afternoon to become involved in a local campaign to raise awareness of child sexual abuse.” By Deborah McDermott, SeacoastOnline.com

MASSACHUSETTS

Central Catholic sex abuse demonstration will unveil new allegations from 1960s incidents
“An international group that supports sexual abuse survivors will be on the public sidewalk in front of Central Catholic High School in Lawrence late Monday (May 1) morning. The group, Road to Recovery, is coming to the city after Central Catholic administrator Andrew Nikonchuk was fired last Tuesday (Apr. 25) due to allegations that he drugged and raped a student(link is external) in 2006. Road to Recovery is also exposing new information and allegations regarding sexual abuse of a boy by a priest at St. Patrick’s Church and members of a Catholic order of brothers who worked at Central Catholic High School in the 1960s, said Dr. Robert Hoatson, founder and leader of Road to Recovery.” By Jill Marmacinski, Lawrence Eagle-Tribune
Central Catholic teacher from Salisbury under investigation(link is external), By Newburyport Daily News
Central Catholic: We’ll be transparent on new abuse allegations(link is external), By Aaron Curtis, Lowell Sun

MISSOURI

New allegation of abuse surfaces against deceased former priest
“A complaint of sexual abuse involving a minor(link is external) and Larry Gregovich, a former Catholic priest who died earlier this year, has been made to the Diocese of Springfield-Cape Girardeau, the diocese announced in a statement Monday (May 1). The diocese, which covers the southern third of Missouri, also said in the statement that it notified civil authorities of the incident, which occurred more than 30 years ago, but did not say who was notified, or where. The allegation also was forwarded to the diocesan Safe Environment Review Board, which found it ‘credible’ during a recent meeting.” By The Joplin Globe

NEW YORK

Fugitive former priest accused of sexually abusing a six-year-old girl is extradited to the U.S. to face charges
“A defrocked priest on the run for allegedly sexually abusing a young girl(link is external) in 2014 was tracked down in Guatemala and extradited back to the US, where he will finally face abuse charges in Long Island, N.Y. Upon landing at JFK Airport on Saturday (Apr. 22), Cortez — a former Catholic priest of the Vincentian Congregation — was arrested and sent to jail without bail.” By Daily Mail

RHODE ISLAND

Probable cause that R.I. Supreme Court justice Flaherty violated ethics code
“The state Ethics Commission voted 5-2 Tuesday (Apr. 24) that there was probable cause to find that Supreme Court Justice Francis X. Flaherty violated the state ethics code by failing to disclose his leadership position in a Catholic nonprofit organization … (Helen) Hyde, a former Rhode Island resident, alleges that Flaherty held that role while presiding over her appeal before the state Supreme Court. She and a man who alleged that a Roman Catholic priest sexually abused them(link is external) more than four decades ago sought to recover damages from the Roman Catholic Bishop of Providence. Flaherty wrote the decision denying Hyde and Jeffrey Thomas damages.” By Katie Mulvaney, Providence Journal

CAMBODIA

Scrutiny turns to child abusers among clergy
“Up to seven foreign clergymen are serving time in Cambodian prisons for child sex crimes(link is external), according to the executive director of a child protection NGO, a situation highlighted by the arrest of a Dutch priest who was charged last week with producing child pornography. Evrard-Nicolas Sarot, 53, who was a parish priest in the Netherlands, is accused of paying 19 boys, all under the age of 15, a few dollars each to pose nude for photographs in Siem Reap City.” By Hannah Hawkins, The Cambodian Daily

Catholic Church knew of alleged child abuser
“A Dutch priest who was arrested in Siem Reap City last week after allegedly taking more than 1,000 photographs of naked boys(link is external) had told a bishop in his home country about his ‘sexual preference for underage boys,’ church representatives said on Sunday Apr. 23). Evrard-Nicolas Sarot, 53, was charged with possessing and producing child pornography by the Siem Reap Provincial Court on Thursday (Apr. 20) and is accused of paying 19 boys, all under the age of 15, a few dollars each to pose nude for photos.” By Hannah Hawkins, The Cambodia Daily

CANADA

Suspended Ottawa priest acquitted of sexual assault charges
“An Ottawa courtroom erupted in applause today (May 2) after a Catholic priest was found not guilty of sexually assaulting a young boy(link is external). Reverend Stephen Amesse said he had forgiven his accuser, but the 14-year-old boy’s family left the court house in tears. It’s been nearly three years since police began their investigation after an allegation that the boy had been sexually assaulted in a west end Ottawa church. Three long years for both the priest and the boy, but only one of them left the courthouse feeling justice had been done.” By Joanne Schnurr, CTV News Ottawa

Disgraced priest sentenced to three years in prison
“A retired Roman Catholic priest convicted in September of sexually assaulting a young boy(link is external) in Kingston over a period of about four years in the late 1980s and early 1990s was sentenced Wednesday (Apr. 26) to three years in prison. Robin Quinton Gwyn, 69, has also been ordered included on the Sex Offender Information Registry for 20 years and Superior Court Justice Wolfram Tausendfreund has imposed a 20-year judge’s order that forbids the priest attending public parks, swimming areas and other places where children are or could reasonably be expected to be present, including play grounds, school grounds and community centers.” By Sue Yanagisawa, Kingston Whig-Standard

GREAT BRITAIN, SCOTLAND & WALES

Abuse priest failings found
“Concerns raised about a Catholic priest later jailed for sexual assault were not acted upon or taken seriously by the Church, a review has found. Anthony McSweeney, 70, was jailed for three years in 2015 for abusing a boy at a west London care home(link is external). In the wake of the case an independent review was commissioned by the Dioceses of Brentwood and East Anglia. The review said McSweeney was found with videos of adolescent boys in 1998 but this was not reported to police.” By BBC News

GUAM

RMS property among assets archdiocese may sell to compensate abuse victims
“The once-controversial Redemptoris Mater Seminary is among the properties the Archdiocese of Agana may be looking to sell as part of a larger effort to liquidate assets that will be used as compensation for clergy sexual abuse victims(link is external). During a press conference today (May 2), Coadjutor Archbishop Michael Byrnes fielded questions about a reported list of assets the archdiocese put together of that could be potentially sold. The archdiocese has already contributed $1 million in seed money for the Hope and Healing fund that will provide counseling services and compensation to clergy sex abuse victims.” By Janela Carrera, Pacific News First

SNAP: Put survivor on Hope and Healing board
“The world’s largest network of priest sex abuse survivors(link is external) says a program to help Guam clergy abuse victims should have an abuse survivor on its board. ‘To claim to know what survivors want and need in a ‘Hope and Healing’ program without having a survivor on the board is a bit patronizing,’ said Joelle Casteix, volunteer western regional director for the St. Louis-based Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, or SNAP. ‘Survivors are the ones who truly know how they can be helped the best.’” By Haidee Eugenio, Pacific Daily News

Former Saipan bishop Thomas A. Camacho accused of clergy sex abuse again
“Former Saipan bishop Tomas A. Camacho stands accused a second time of clergy sex abuse(link is external). Filed in the District Court of Guam late Wednesday (Apr. 26), 65-year-old B.C. alleges he was sexually molested by Father Camacho in the early 1960s at Nuestra Senora de las Aguas Parish in Mongmong.” By Krystal Paco, KUAM-TV

Another Apuron accuser talking to Vatican
“Roy Quintanilla, the first former altar boy in 2016 to come forward and publicly accuse Archbishop Anthony S. Apuron of sexually abusing him(link is external), said Tuesday (Apr. 25) he will testify before a Vatican tribunal. The tribunal, led by Cardinal Raymond Leo Burke, is handling Apuron’s canonical penal trial. Quintanilla said it will receive his testimony in Honolulu on May 6.” By Haidee Eugenio, Pacific Daily News

Limtiaco leads board to help victims of priest abuse
“Guam’s previous top federal prosecutor has been named chairwoman of the board of Hope and Healing, the organization created by the archdiocese to address multiple accusations of sexual abuse(link is external) by former Guam priests, decades ago. Chairwoman Alicia Limtiaco’s role was announced during a press conference yesterday (Apr. 22) at the Hilton Guam Resort and Spa. Limtiaco is the previous U.S. Attorney for Guam and the Northern Marianas.” By The Guam Daily Post

Archbishop seeks reporting of child abuse, sexual assault
“Archbishop Michael Jude Byrnes has asked Catholics to join the rest of Guam in observing child abuse prevention month(link is external), to help bring hope and healing to victims, including those who are sexual assault survivors.” By Haidee Eugenio, Pacific Daily News

Sex abuse victims’ attorney warns Vatican could be next
“Attorney David Lujan says more lawsuits will be filed in the coming days(link is external) including two new ones next week that will name new priests. He just filed two Wednesday (Apr. 19) in District Court, marking the 52nd and 53rd lawsuits to be filed in a matter of months. Both lawsuits filed name former Guam priest and Boy Scout master Father Louis Brouillard as the alleged perpetrator … M.W.’s lawsuit further accuses the Catholic Church and the Boy Scouts of plotting together, saying they ‘developed and maintained a relationship …. by which pedophilic priests exploited the opportunity to serve as scout masters for the specific purpose of having access to young boys.’” By Janela Carrera, PNC News First

INDIA

Indian Catholics frustrated over clergy sex abuse cases
“A rash of recent alleged sex abuse cases involving Catholic priests(link is external) in Southern India have left Christians distraught and frustrated over the local church’s lack of response. More than 100 theologians, women religious, priests and feminists have written to India’s bishops to demand they react quickly in accordance with the pope’s call to end such transgressions. ‘We are trying every way to get the bishops to act. We thought this is a good opportunity,’ says Virginia Saldanha, a theologian who was part of the team that drafted the March 22 letter to the bishops.” By Jose Kavi, National Catholic Reporter

IRELAND & NORTHERN IRELAND

Northern Ireland child abuse victims slam ‘derisory’ recommended compensation payment of £7,500
“The victims, who were abused in children’s homes run by some churches(link is external), charities and state institutions, said the payment should be higher and should reflect the length of time spent in the institutions. In January the Historical Institutional Abuse Inquiry (HIAI) recommended that victims should receive financial redress. Chairman of the inquiry Sir Anthony Hart said the payments should range from £7,500 to £100,000. A 30-page response by victims has criticized the level of basic payment recommended.” By Deborah McAleese, Belfast Telegraph

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Attorney: Suit to allege Minnesota bishop threatened retaliation against victim / Star Tribune

“Jeff Anderson said this is the first case of a bishop in the United States being sued for coercion.”

A Twin Cities law firm intends to file a lawsuit against a current Minnesota bishop and a Roman Catholic diocese in the state alleging that a survivor of clergy sex abuse was threatened with retaliation if he revealed how he was assaulted as a child.

“St. Paul attorney Jeff Anderson, who for many years has pursued many legal cases in connection with clergy sex abuse in Minnesota and elsewhere, said this is the first time a U.S. bishop has been sued for coercion.

“At a news conference scheduled for Tuesday (May 8) at Anderson’s offices, the abuse survivor and a priest from the diocese will speak publicly for the first time about ‘how the bishop threatened retaliation against the survivor and a family member if he disclosed the sexual abuse,’ a statement from Anderson’s law firm read.”

By Paul Walsh, Minneapolis Star Tribune — Read more …

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Catholic clergy sexual abuse continues to scandalize the Church

Clergy child abuse allegations continue to surface around the world.

Allegations of historic sexual abuse of minors by Catholic clergy continue to surface around the world.

With National Child Abuse Prevention Month in the United States having ended yesterday, April 30, we’re reminded that Catholic clergy sexual abuse continues to scandalize the Church and affect its dioceses and that allegations of historic Catholic clergy child abuse are still being made around the world. Here are a few recent examples:

  • Montana Catholic officials say bankruptcy ‘best and only way’ to compensate the sexually abused
    “The recent bankruptcy filing by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Great Falls-Billings was the ‘best and only way’ it could meet its obligations to all victims with sexual abuse claims and continue its ministry, church officials said … The bankruptcy is likely to be complicated and take time. How it could affect the diocese’s operations, along with parishes, schools and other church programs, is not yet clear.” By Clair Johnson, Billings Gazette
  • Indian Catholics frustrated over clergy sex abuse cases
    “A rash of recent alleged sex abuse cases involving Catholic priests in Southern India have left Christians distraught and frustrated over the local church’s lack of response. More than 100 theologians, women religious, priests and feminists have written to India’s bishops to demand they react quickly in accordance with the pope’s call to end such transgressions. ‘We are trying every way to get the bishops to act. We thought this is a good opportunity,’ says Virginia Saldanha, a theologian who was part of the team that drafted the March 22 letter to the bishops.” By Jose Kavi, National Catholic Reporter
  • Abuse priest failings found
    “Concerns raised about a Catholic priest later jailed for sexual assault were not acted upon or taken seriously by the Church, a review has found. Anthony McSweeney, 70, was jailed for three years in 2015 for abusing a boy at a west London care home. In the wake of the case an independent review was commissioned by the Dioceses of Brentwood and East Anglia. The review said McSweeney was found with videos of adolescent boys in 1998 but this was not reported to police.” By BBC News
  • Scrutiny turns to child abusers among clergy
    “Up to seven foreign clergymen are serving time in Cambodian prisons for child sex crimes, according to the executive director of a child protection NGO, a situation highlighted by the arrest of a Dutch priest who was charged last week with producing child pornography. Evrard-Nicolas Sarot, 53, who was a parish priest in the Netherlands, is accused of paying 19 boys, all under the age of 15, a few dollars each to pose nude for photographs in Siem Reap City.” By Hannah Hawkins, The Cambodian Daily
  • Former Saipan bishop Thomas A. Camacho accused of clergy sex abuse again
    “Former Saipan bishop Tomas A. Camacho stands accused a second time of clergy sex abuse. Filed in the District Court of Guam late Wednesday (Apr. 26), 65-year-old B.C. alleges he was sexually molested by Father Camacho in the early 1960s at Nuestra Senora de las Aguas Parish in Mongmong.” By Krystal Paco, KUAM-TV
  • Old Catholic Church suspends second pastor after abuse claims
    “The Old Catholic church in the Netherlands has suspended a second pastor involved in a child abuse scandal, this time involving a retired priest who abused a young teenage boy in the 1970s.” By DutchNews.nl

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Voice of the Faithful Focus

Voice of the Faithful’s biweekly news roundup highlighting
issues we face working together to Keep the Faith, Change the Church

VOTF LogoApril 21, 2017

TOP STORIES

It was an honor to know you, Joe Crowley
“No one taught me more about the incalculable damage of sexual abuse(link is external), and the surprising resiliency of the human spirit, than Joe Crowley. I met Joe in the fall of 2001, when my Spotlight Team colleagues and I were searching for people who had been molested by Catholic priests. Through a network of lawyers and advocates, I contacted Joe, then 42. He was smart, funny, and articulate, but also nervous, insecure, and still trying to recover emotionally from what had happened to him decades earlier.” By Sacha Pfeiffer, The Boston Globe

Atlanta archbishop says clericalism continues to hinder sex abuse reforms
“Archbishop Wilton Gregory, who led the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops during the tumultuous years when the wide scope of the clergy sexual abuse scandal was brought to light, said in a new interview that clericalism is still hampering efforts to address the issue(link is external), even at the highest levels of the church. ‘I would say there is a resistance to do the hard thing,’ the Atlanta archbishop told NPR affiliate WABE in a March interview broadcast on April 10.” By Michael O’Loughlin, America: The Jesuit Review

Pope makes appointments amid criticism of sex abuse response
“Pope Francis on Tuesday (Apr. 4) named a new official to oversee the Vatican office that processes clerical sex abuse cases(link is external) amid mounting criticism over a years-long backlog of cases and Francis’ handling of the problem. The promotion of Monsignor John Kennedy to head of the discipline section of the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith was the second abuse-related appointment in recent days. Francis named the Rev. Hans Zollner, one of the Catholic Church’s top experts on fighting abuse and protecting children, as an adviser to the Vatican’s office for clergy on Saturday (Apr. 1).” By Nicole Winfield, Associated Press, in The Washington Post

Child sex abuse: Catholic bishops ‘must meet Pope Francis to push for urgent change’
“Australia’s bishops must lead an urgent delegation to Pope Francis(link is external) seeking changes to some of the church’s most fundamental views on women, celibacy, governance and the handling of child sex cases, according to Australia’s peak Catholic reform group in a call to arms to Catholics across the country. In an open letter sent to all parishes, Catholics for Renewal has urged bishops and archbishops not to “defer to the Holy See”, or wait for the recommendations from the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, before acting on serious issues identified by the commission that contributed to the child sexual abuse crisis.” By Joanne McCarthy, The Sydney Morning Herald

German bishops divided on diaconate for women
“A German theologian-bishop has called for the ordination of woman deacons(link is external), saying it is more important than relaxing mandatory celibacy or ordaining married men of proven virtue (viri probati) to the priesthood. ‘Women should be ordained deacons. It is a sign of the times,’ said Bishop Gebhard Fürst of Rottenburg-Stuttgart. He told a 27 March gathering of the German Catholic Women’s Association the time had come for women deacons. The association, which has been demanding the move for over twenty years, was marking its 100th anniversary.” By Christa Pongratz-Lippitt, La Croix International

ACCOUNTABILITY

Guam Catholic Church sees a perfect storm of controversy
“The Catholic Church on the Pacific island of Guam has been devastated by allegations that its longtime archbishop sexually abused altar boys(link is external). But even before the scandal broke, Guam’s church was divided over another issue — the presence of a controversial European lay movement that became so toxic that a community of nuns fled to the mainland U.S. in despair. The battle on the tiny tropical U.S. territory pits the Neocatechumenal Way lay group against critics on a majority Catholic island that was colonized by Spanish missionaries in the 17th century.” By Grace Garces Bordallo and Nicole Winfield

PONTIFICAL COMMISSION FOR THE PROTECTION OF MINORS

Abuse commission member: We asked pope to create Vatican office to train in responding to survivors
“A member of Pope Francis’ commission on clergy sexual abuse says his group has asked the pontiff to create a new Vatican office to train the city-state’s personnel in how to respond to letters from abuse survivors(link is external). Jesuit Fr. Hans Zollner, a member of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, told the Italian Catholic channel TV2000 Monday  that Vatican officials need training before they can respond to survivors.” By Joshua J. McElwee, National Catholic Reporter

POPE FRANCIS

Pope Francis’ message faces intensifying criticism
“It seems that criticism of Francis is increasing(link is external) and becoming more overt and intense. What is it about Francis that is making him a more and more controversial figure? One reason, of course is that he has created a more open papacy in which dissent is tolerated and even encouraged. The opportunity to share one’s thoughts, however, should not include being disrespectful.” By Pat Perriello, National Catholic Reporter

Letter from Rome: Who is Francis listening to?
“… It is about his apparently ambivalent attitude towards holding bishops accountable(link is external) for mishandling cases, protecting abusive priests, or showing more concern for the reputation of the institution than for victims. However, there was a small sign last week that the pope’s attitude may be changing (and, note well, Francis has shown an amazing capacity to listen, learn, and change). It came with the forced resignation of a bishop in Southern France. The resignation of the prelate in question—Bishop Hervé Gaschignard of the Diocese of Dax and Aire—was accepted on April 6. It occurred just a few months after people in his diocese went to the French bishops’ conference and the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith with complaints over the bishop’s inappropriate ‘words and attitude with respect to several young people.’” By Robert Mickens, Commonweal
How are Pope Francis’ reforms of the Roman Curia going?
“Kurt Martens is a Belgian-born lay Catholic civil and canon lawyer who serves as a professor of canon law at the Catholic University of America. He is a consultant to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ committee on canonical affairs and specializes in the working and organization of church structures, including published research on the reform of the Roman Curia. He is the editor of ‘The Jurist,’ the only canon law periodical in the United States. I recently interviewed Dr. Martens by email about the ongoing efforts of Pope Francis to reform the Roman Curia(link is external).” By Sean Salai, S.J., America: The Jesuit Review

BISHOPS

Atlanta’s Catholic archbishop on abuse scandal news, married priests
“As Christians began to observe Holy Week, the leader of the world’s Catholics was preparing for a two-day visit to Egypt despite the recent deadly bombings at Christian churches there. Among other things, the April 28-29 visit by Pope Francis is aimed at further improving relations between the Catholic Church and the world’s Muslims. But the church continues its internal struggles over how the Vatican and Catholic bishops have handled the clergy abuse scandal(link is external). Recently, an abuse survivor, who had been a member of a commission advising the Vatican, quit in frustration.” By Denis O’Hayer, National Public Radio, Atlanta, WABE.org

PRIESTS

Catholics surge in Africa but priest shortages persist in other parts of the globe
“The number of Catholics worldwide is rising fastest in Africa(link is external) while the church continues to suffer from a shortage of priests in some parts of the world … Despite an increase in the number of Catholics, there was a fall in the number of priests called to ministry in some parts of the world. The number of priests rose by more than 1,100 in Africa and 1,100 in Asia but fell by 2,502 (6 percent) in Europe between 2014 and 2015. There were a total of 47 new priests in the Americas in 2015.” By Josephine McKenna, Religion News Service

CHURCH REFORM

Fix a disconnect that hobbles the Church
“A new book offer suggestions about how the laity can get more involved(link is external) in the life of the parish and Church at large. ‘Everyone Leads: How to Revitalize the Catholic Church’ looks at a disconnect between Church leadership and the people in the pews.” By Chris Lowney, Cruxnow.com

Married priests and female deacons? What the Pope’s politics look like from Latin America
“Priests are Catholicism’s greatest figures: shepherds who manage the relationship with the divine. But their numbers have been dwindling worldwide(link is external) since the 1930s. In Argentina, the Church lost 23% of its priests and nuns from 1960 to 2013. France and Spain have also seen a dramatic reduction in clergy. In Europe, the number of priests declined 3.6% between 2012 and 2015 alone.” By Veronica Gimenez Beliveau, University of Buenos Aires, in The Huffington Post

FUTURE OF THE CHURCH

Not just another ‘trade meeting,’ convocation seeks to unify U.S. church
“This summer’s Convocation of Catholic Leaders comes at a time when the U.S. Catholic Church is seeking how best to respond to a changing social landscape(link is external) while bringing Pope Francis’ vision for a church that offers mercy and joy to the world. Called by the bishops, the historic convocation will find more than 3,000 Catholic leaders — bishops, clergy, religious and laypeople — meeting July 1-4 in Orlando, Florida, to focus on how the pope’s 2013 apostolic exhortation, ‘Evangelii Gaudium’ (‘The Joy of the Gospel’), applies in the United States.” By Dennis Sadowski, Catholic News Service

Letter from Rome: Who will speak to solve the vocations crisis?
“The (Second Vatican) Council stated clearly that the Eucharist is the source and summit of the church’s life and all its activity. And in its decree on priestly life and ministry Vatican II said it’s impossible to truly build up a Christian community ‘unless it has its basis and center in the celebration of the most Holy Eucharist.’ Hence, the need for priests(link is external) … But the church has a serious shortage of ordained presbyters in almost every part of the world, except in some countries in Africa and Asia. And this “vocations crisis” is not something new. The first signs of it started appearing even before Vatican Council II got underway.” By Robert Mickens, Commonweal

Vatican statistics confirm the Catholic future is in Africa
“New statistic released by the Vatican on Thursday (Apr. 6) show that Africa continues to position itself as the future axis of Catholicism(link is external), with the number of baptized Catholics on the continent growing at a significantly faster rate than anywhere else in the world. According to the numbers released on Thursday by the Vatican’s press office, Catholicism has grown globally from 1.272 billion in 2014 to 1.285 in 2015. This represents a 1 percent annual growth, and 17.7 percent of the world’s population.” By Ines San Martin, Cruxnow.com

“AMORIS LAETITIA”

On ‘Amoris’ anniversary, let’s appreciate its beauty and relevance
“Cardinal Donald Wuerl of Washington says the one-year anniversary of the release of ‘Amoris Laetitia’ spotlights the ‘beauty and relevance’ of the document(link is external), including the way it does not reverse Church teaching on marriage but rather offers ‘greater emphasis on the role of the individual conscience in appropriating those moral norms in the person’s actual circumstances.’” By Cardinal Donald Wuerl, Cruxnow.com

WOMEN IN THE CHURCH

Role of women in the modern Catholic Church ‘unacceptable’
“‘Women are stalwarts of the Catholic Church when it comes to attendance and participation. The role of women in the church(link is external), as it is now, is unacceptable in modern times,’ Fr O’Hanlon said Pope Francis wanted to change the role of women, and he urged the Bishops to embrace his ideas more enthusiastically.” By Kim Bielenberg, Irish Independent

Francis’s words about women: What does he really think?
“The Catechism of the Catholic Church offers some sage advice on how to take someone else’s words. In article 2478, it says: To avoid rash judgment, everyone ought to be careful to interpret insofar as possible his neighbors’ thoughts, words, and deeds, in a favorable way … I thought about this advice when considering some of Pope Francis’s words about women(link is external). As many have noted, despite his stated intention of including and promoting women, the Pope has caused no little consternation by some of his remarks concerning them.” By Rita Ferrone, Commonweal

CLERICALISM

New clericalism is imposing old ways on modern church architecture
“Church architecture has become a frontline of the liturgy wars as Catholic churches undergo re-renovations. Michael DeSanctis, a church building consultant and theology professor, is not pleased. Restoration-minded pastors, most who came of age well after Vatican II, are ordering the changes. Gone are what they sometimes disparage as ‘Pizza Hut’ churches. The goal is to restore tradition. They impose altar rails, the placement of the Blessed Sacrament near the altar, and use expensive marble on the floor to seal off the sanctuary area as a polished and exclusive arena for clerical liturgical action(link is external).” By Peter Feuerherd, National Catholic Reporter

MARRIED PRIESTS

Why married priests won’t really fix the shortage
“What the Holy Father did say is that he is open to exploring the possibility of proven men(link is external) (‘viri probati,’ in Latin) who are married being ordained to the priesthood. Currently, such men, who are typically over the age of 35, are eligible for ordination to the permanent diaconate, but not the priesthood. However, marriage was not the first solution to the priest shortage Pope Francis proposed. In fact, it was the last.” By Mary Rezac, Catholic News Agency

Married priests would broaden perspective of Catholic Church
“Pope Francis is open to the possibility of ordaining married men as priests(link is external). But don’t get too excited. The Catholic Church moves at glacial speed, and a cadre of married priests won’t be joining the clerical ranks any time soon. My initial reaction was cynical. Ordaining married men seemed like a convenient way to shut women out. But, upon reflection, I decided that was unfair. Married priests would be a good thing for Roman Catholicism.” By Louise McEwan, Troy Media of Canada

VOICES

The Catholic Church’s child sexual abuse scandal revisited
“A few days ago in this space I kicked off Holy Week with an expression of dismay over the Catholic Church’s incorrigible ineptitude in dealing with its never-ending child sex abuse scandal(link is external). I wrote about being stunned over the Church’s legislative campaign to make it more difficult for people to sue their rapists and molesters.” By Bruce R. Nelson, “Let’s Think This Out” Blog

A new genre of civic literature: official reports of government inquiries into international cases of abuse of institutionalized children
“This is a story about institutional crime and social justice. At times, it may seem there is too much of the former and not enough of the latter. That’s the bad news. The good news is, when the institutional crime involves the abuse and exploitation of children(link is external), a number of different governments, in different countries, in different parts of the world, are finally beginning to do something. Unfortunately, the U.S. government is not one of them.” By Arthur McCaffrey, Los Angeles Review of Books

CHURCH FINANCES

Catholic priest who stole almost €60K from parish spared jail
“A Roman Catholic priest who stole £50,000 (€58,447) from his parish(link is external) after falling in love with his housekeeper and lavishing gifts on her family has been spared jail. Judge Christopher Prince said Father John Reid’s fraud was an ‘aberration’ which persisted over 40 months while he was in charge of St Cuthbert’s Church in Chester-le-Street, County Durham.” By Tom Wilkinson, Irish Independent

Pope dismisses priest who stole $300K from bishop, hospital
“The Diocese of Manchester said Friday, April 7, that Pope Francis dismissed Arsenault from the priesthood on Feb. 28. Arsenault is serving a jail sentence after he was convicted of stealing thousands of dollars(link is external) from a hospital, a bishop and a deceased priest’s estate.” By Associated Press on Cruxnow.com

Rector charged with stealing money at Catholic priests’ home
“The rector of a church-owned retirement home for Roman Catholic priests has been charged with embezzling $535,000(link is external) to pay for casino visits, high-end dinners and Philadelphia Pops concerts. Federal prosecutors have charged Msgr. William A. Dombrow with skimming money for nearly nine years from an account meant to support Villa St. Joseph. The Philadelphia archdiocese runs the facility to house aging priests and those accused of sexual abuse. Much of the stolen money came from insurance payments for priests who died and from parishioners who left the facility money.” By Associated Press in The Washington Times
Pennsylvania monsignor to plead guilty to embezzling $500,000(link is external), By David DeKok, Religion News Service

Italy puts Vatican on ‘clean’ financial institutions list, ending years of mistrust
“Italy put the Vatican on its ‘white list’ of states with cooperative financial institutions on Tuesday (Apr. 4), ending years of mistrust and providing an endorsement(link is external) of efforts by Pope Francis to clean up the city state’s banking sector. The list includes countries with which Italy has agreements on the exchange of financial and tax information, such as other EU member states.” By Philip Pullella, Reuters, in U.S. News & World Report

Diocese filing for bankruptcy to settle sex abuse claims
“A second Montana Roman Catholic diocese will file for bankruptcy(link is external) protection as part of settlements involving more than 400 people in sex abuse lawsuits, church officials said Friday. The Diocese of Great Falls-Billings said it expected to make the Chapter 11 reorganization filing later in the day, and the diocese and its insurance carriers would contribute to a fund to compensate victims and set aside additional money for those who have not yet come forward.” By Amy Beth Hanson, Associated Press
Great Falls-Billings Diocese becomes 15th to file for bankruptcy(link is external), By Dan Morris-Young

STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS REFORM

House seeks wider window for child sex abuse lawsuits
“The state House (North Carolina) will likely vote this week on a bill to lengthen the statute of limitations(link is external) for civil lawsuits by victims of childhood sexual abuse. House Bill 585 had its first hearing Wednesday morning, passing the House Judiciary IV Committee by a unanimous vote.” By WRAL.com

A standard for sex abuse liability
Enabling victims of child sexual abuse to seek damages(link is external) after they become adults is a no-brainer in concept. But the tortured path of a bill in the state Legislature to expand that opportunity demonstrates that the matter is far more complex in practice.” By Standard-Speaker Editorial Board

Child sex abuse survivors rally for 2-year retroactive window
Survivors of child sex abuse(link is external) and their supporters took to the steps of the state capitol to ask lawmakers to pass their bill, one they are calling the ‘real deal.’ With his back to a row of reporters now facing his supporters, Rep. Mark Rozzi summed up why those wanting a statute of limitations reform stood together outside the Capitol Building on Monday (Apr. 3).” By Kody Leibowitz, WJAC-TV

CLERGY CHILD SEXUAL ABUSE

Report charges cover-up of sexual abuse by traditionalist society
“An explosive report airing tonight (Apr. 5) on Swedish television charges that the traditionalist Society of St. Pius X knew about at least three cases of its priests being accused of sexually abusing minors(link is external), but failed to enforce a ‘zero tolerance’ policy. An alleged victim told Crux he believes the Vatican should have done more to hold the society accountable.” By Ines San Martin, Cruxnow.com

Ending the horror of child abuse is crucial
“Last weekend (Apr. 15) on my radio show, I had the distinct honor of interviewing Angela Liddle, the president of the Pennsylvania Family Support Alliance, a heroic organization based in Harrisburg that lobbies on behalf of children(link is external) who are in danger of being abused, or who have already suffered abuse.” By Christine Flower, Delaware County Daily Times

Renegade Catholic order in UK ‘harbors clergy accused of sexual abuse’
“A British Catholic priest who has been excommunicated twice by different popes is allegedly harboring clergy accused of sexual abuse(link is external) in his renegade religious order. Richard Williamson, who was illicitly ordained as a bishop in 1988 by an ultra-conservative group, the Society of St Pius X, and later convicted of Holocaust denial by a German court, is now head of the ‘SSPX Resistance,’ based in Broadstairs, Kent.” By Harriet Sherwood, The Guardian
Breakaway Catholic order ‘hides priests accused of sexual crimes’ in British coastal town(link is external), By RT.com

ILLINOIS

Chicago archdiocese pays $3.15 million to settle abuse suits
“The Archdiocese of Chicago will pay $3.15 million to settle lawsuits brought by three men who allege they were sexually abused by a notorious former pastor(link is external) of a West Side Catholic church more than a decade ago, the plaintiffs’ attorney said Wednesday (Apr. 13). The accusers, all identified in court papers as John Doe, said former priest and convicted sex offender Daniel McCormack sexually abused them more than once during their participation in an after-school program called S.A.F.E. at Our Lady of the Westside Catholic School.” By Manya Brachear Pashman, Chicago Tribune

MASSACHUSETTS

Eight clergy abuse victims receive $880,000 settlement
“The Diocese of Fall River has agreed to an $880,000 settlement with eight men who as children were sexually abused by a West Harwich priest(link is external), the victims’ attorney announced Monday. The late Rev. James Nickel, who served at Holy Trinity Parish in West Harwich, sexually abused at least eight boys in the early 1970s and 1980s, some as many as 50 times over several years. Attorneys for the men suspect there are more victims.” By Jan Ransom, The Boston Globe

MISSOURI

At sex abuse trial, St. Louis archbishop says he was unaware of priest’s sleepovers
“St. Louis Archbishop Robert Carlson testified Monday (Apr. 3) he told the Rev. Xiu Hui ‘Joseph’ Jiang to counsel a Lincoln County family about their participation in a rogue nun’s religious rituals(link is external) but that he didn’t know the priest sometimes slept overnight at the family’s home.” By Joel Currier, St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Jury sides with St. Louis Archdiocese, suspended priest in civil sex abuse trial(link is external), By Joel Currier, St. Louis Post-Dispatch

NEW YORK

All Saints teacher’s aide promised 60 years for child porn filmed at home
“A teacher’s aide at All Saints Elementary School in Syracuse quietly admitted today (Apr. 19) that she exploited two young girls(link is external) — one less than a year old — for child pornography at her home and at the school. Emily Oberst, 24, pleaded guilty to conspiracy and child porn charges in federal court today in exchange for a promised sentence of 60 years in prison. There is no parole in federal prison, so she will not be released early.” By Douglass Dowty, Syracuse.com

PENNSYLVANIA

Grand jury hears testimony about alleged abuse in Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh
“A grand jury has been meeting behind closed doors about sexual abuse allegations in the Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh(link is external). Jurors heard testimony on Tuesday (Apr. 11) during the secret proceedings about cases that could date back 70 years. Target 11’s Rick Earle learned one man who testified claims that he was abused by a priest and nun. Earle previously spoke with Johnny Hewko about the allegations. Hewko said he was abused over a nearly three-year span of time. ‘I’d have to say, on average, maybe once a week would be around right,’ he told Earle in February.” By WPXI-TV

AUSTRALIA

This Easter, it’s the Church that needs redemption
“In short, Jesus’ death and resurrection saves us from our sins. This Holy Week I won’t be at church. Don’t get me wrong. I’m no saint. I make no claim to sinlessness. I could use some of that forgiveness and redemption. But it is hard to take seriously a church that, in its very organization, seems so sinful(link is external). If Jesus’ death and resurrection imparts some saving grace to humanity, how is it that the very institution that is meant to mediate Christ to his followers can be so intrinsically flawed?” By Kristina Keneally, The Guardian

Act now against the criminals protected by the Catholic Church
“It is difficult to stop crying. A child sexual abuse expert(link is external) from the US, Bruce Perry, simply picked a random example. He spoke via video link to the Royal Commission into Institutional ­Responses to Child Sexual Abuse; he was one of 36 experts in the field who gave evidence last week at the final public hearing of the royal commission, titled Case Study 57: Nature, Cause and Impact of Child Sexual Abuse. Perry’s example was of ‘a little five-year-old child and somebody is raping you,’ and he talked of what it does to the young mind.” By Chrissie Foster, The Australian

Victim advocate: The abuse scandal has broken the heart of the Catholic Church in Australia
“In this exclusive interview with ‘America,’ Francis Sullivan, the chief executive officer of the Australian Catholic Church’s ‘Truth, Justice, and Healing Council,’ reflects on what contributed to the abuse of minors by priests and religious in Australia, and what he thinks the Royal Commission that has been investigating(link is external) this abuse might say in its report at the year’s end.” By Gerard O’Connell, America: The Jesuit Review

‘They were empty word’: abuse survivors lose faith in George Pell’s Roman vow
Survivor Paul Levey said he’d lost all faith in Cardinal Pell(link is external), who stood on the steps of the Hotel Quirinale in Rome last year, pledging to help the survivors and do something to stop suicides of victims in Ballarat … ‘He’s [Cardinal Pell] done nothing since then,’ Mr Levey said. ‘They were empty words. He was just waiting for us to go away and hoping we couldn’t come back.’” By Melissa Cunningham, The Age

‘The dirty linen is out there’: slow progress on sex abuse compensation frustrates victims and states
“After decades waiting for justice and recognition, survivors of Australia’s legacy of institutional child sexual abuse(link is external) are losing patience with the slow development of a major national compensation scheme. Nearly five months after Social Services Minister Christian Porter announced an opt-in redress system to run until 2028, state governments say no further detail has been provided and the Catholic Church’s representative on a key advisory body has warned that political resistance to costly payouts will weaken any plan.” By Tom McIlroy, The Sydney Morning Herald

BELGIUM

Catholic Church in Belgium honors sex abuse victims
“The Catholic Church in Belgium on Saturday (Apr. 8) took part in a day of recognition for victims of sexual abuse by priests(link is external), seven years after a paedophile scandal rocked the institution.” By Agence France-Press on Inquirer.net

CANADA

Saskatchewan Roman Catholic priest sexual assault charge stayed
“A stay of proceedings has been granted in a sexual assault case against a Roman Catholic priest(link is external) who served three rural parishes in northwestern Saskatchewan. Father Javier De Los Angeles Cortazar, 48, was charged in 2014 after an incident at a cabin near Goodsoil, Sask. The alleged victim’s name was subject to a publication ban.” By Canadian Broadcasting Company

Late Ottawa Catholic bishop who managed sex abuse complaints now accused of sex abuse
“An Ottawa man says he was sexually abused in August 1979 by Bishop John Beahan(link is external), who was then one of the most powerful figures in the Archdiocese of Ottawa. The man, now 52, has launched a $2-million lawsuit against the Catholic archdiocese. It represents the first time that Beahan, once the second-highest-ranking member of the Ottawa clergy, has been named in a sex abuse lawsuit.” By Andrew Duffy, Ottawa Citizen

More victims of sexual abuse go after Moncton church for money
“After paying out millions of dollars in damages to more than 100 victims of sexual abuse(link is external), the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Moncton may owe even more money. Three new lawsuits have been filed in recent weeks by victims of sexual abuse against the priests accused of molesting them.” By Gabriele Fahmy, CBC News

COLOMBIA

Colombia’s Catholic Church shuns responsibility in potential child abuse cases
“A controversial document stipulating that priests are solely responsible in child abuse cases and not the church(link is external), has been circulated by the Catholic Church in Colombia, reported local media. So far only the archdiocese of the southwestern city of Cali has made its priests sign a document absolving their employer of all responsibility, which has once again opened the debate on liability in church pedophilia cases.” By Jamie Vaughan Johnson, Colombia Reports

GREAT BRITAIN, SCOTLAND & WALES

Catholic priest, 74, who repeatedly raped a young boy until he prayed for his own death is jailed for 17 years
“A Catholic priest who repeatedly raped a young boy(link is external) until he prayed for his own death was today (Apr. 13) jailed for 17 years. Michael Higginbottom, 74, reveled in ‘cruel, sadistic bullying’ at St Joseph’s College in Upholland, near Ormskirk, Lancashire. A court heard he used a strap and cane on boys as punishment and said he could ‘make this as easy or as hard’ as the victim wanted.” By Abe Hawken, Daily Mail
Catholic priest goes on trial accused of sex abuse at Upholland seminary(link is external), By Lynda Roughley, Liverpool Echo
Ex-Catholic school pupil who accused Darlington priest of sex abuse ‘made up the claims to get compensation(link is external),’ By Stuart Manning, The Northern Echo
Was disgraced Darlington priest Michael Higginbottom at the center of a pedophile ring?(link is external) By Joanna Morris, The Northern Echo

Catholic priest who allegedly abused boy sent to Bristol retreat near primary school
“A Catholic priest found guilty by his peers of sexually abusing a boy(link is external) was transferred to a Bristol retreat near a primary school. The unnamed priest, known as ‘Father S’ and formerly a member of the traditionalist Catholic splinter group the Society of St. Pius X (SSPX), was accused of abusing a boy in 2006 while based in France.” By Lewis Pennock, Bristol Post

Child abuse inquiry to focus on Catholic Church homes
The second phase of the Scottish child abuse inquiry(link is external) will investigate children’s homes run by the Catholic Church. The inquiry is examining historical allegations about the abuse of children in care and has been taking statements from witnesses since last spring. Officials said the next phase, due to begin in autumn, will initially focus on homes run by the Daughters of Charity of St Vincent de Paul.” By STV News

GUAM

Apuron accusers meet with Vatican tribunal
“A former Agat altar boy and the mother of a now deceased altar boy testified before a Vatican tribunal for the canonical penal trial of Archbishop Anthony S. Apuron, who is accused of raping and sexually abusing four altar boys(link is external) in the 1970s.” By Haidee Eugenio, Pacific Daily News

Archdiocese moves to dismiss 36 abuse cases
“The Archdiocese of Agana has asked the District Court of Guam to dismiss the 36 pending child sexual abuse cases(link is external) that have been filed against it. The archdiocese contends the recently passed law, which prompted the filing of the suits, does not actually provide for claimants to file such actions against third parties.” By Neil Pang, The Guam Daily Post

Sunday marks 42nd week of protest demanding Apuron be defrocked
“Dressed not in Sunday’s best, but with signs demanding Archbishop Anthony Apuron be defrocked. Sunday (Apr. 9) marked the 42nd week of pickets in front of the Hagatna Cathedral for members of the Concerned Catholics of Guam and the Laity Forward Movement. Apuron is four-times accused of sexually abusing former altar boys(link is external) at Mt. Carmel Parish in Agat, resulting in lawsuits filed in the federal court.” By Krystal Paco, KUAM-TV

SNAP: Guam clergy sex abuse cases could reach 150-200
“The world’s largest network of priest abuse survivors says Guam’s clergy sex abuse cases could reach into the hundreds(link is external) over the next couple of years, from 46 at present. Guam children were allegedly abused by Catholic clergy between 1956 and 1988, based on lawsuits filed in local and federal courts between Nov. 1 and April 6.” By Haidee Eugenio, Pacific Daily News

Three new clergy sex abuse cases filed
“Guam’s clergy sex abuse cases increased to 45(link is external) on Wednesday (Apr. 5), with former priest Andrew Manetta named as a defendant in the two latest filings. Two men, identified only with their initials — ‘M.B.’ and ‘G.G.’ — to protect their privacy, alleged Manetta sexually molested them during sleepovers at the rectory of Santa Teresita Church in Mangilao, around 1986 to 1987, when they were altar boys, ages 13 and 14, respectively.” By Haidee Eugenio, Pacific Daily News

40th person accuses church of sex abuse
“A 40th victim has filed suit against the Archdiocese of Agana and the Boy Scouts of America Aloha Council. Plaintiff J.C.T. alleges he was 15-years-old in the early 1970s when he was sexually molested by his Boy Scout troop leader, Father Louis Brouillard(link is external).” By Krystal Paco, KUAM-TV

Judge recusals of clergy sex abuse cases mount
“Superior Court of Guam judges continue to recuse themselves from hearing Catholic clergy sex abuse cases(link is external), now that the local court is seeing a second wave of filings. As of March 30, local judges have filed 89 disqualification memos to avoid doubts about their partiality.” By Haidee Eugenio, Pacific Daily News

Guam’s Catholic Church faces two more lawsuits
“Two more lawsuits have been filed in Guam by men who say they were sexually abused by a former priest(link is external) in the 1960s. The latest complaints bring the number of lawsuits for historical sexual abuse faced by the island’s Catholic Church to 39. Most of the allegations are against the island’s recused archbishop, Anthony Apuron, and a former priest, Louis Brouillard.” By Radio New Zealand

IRELAND

Historical abuse survivors continue to wait for compensation in Northern Ireland
Historical abuse survivors(link is external) have accused Northern Ireland’s politicians of putting their own needs before victims as they continue to wait for financial payments promised 17 months ago. Victims have warned that many have been left suicidal or facing financial ruin as the current Stormont impasse means that the findings and recommendations of a four-year inquiry into state and church abuse have still not been presented to the assembly.” By Sunday World

SPAIN

Spanish court clears priest in abuse case taken up by Pope Francis
Ending a sexual abuse case(link is external) in which Pope Francis intervened three years ago, a Spanish court on Tuesday (Apr. 11) cleared a parish priest in Granada who had been accused of molesting an altar boy. The court found no evidence that the Rev. Román Martínez had sexually abused one of his former altar boys more than a decade ago.” By Raphael Minder, The New York Times

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SNAP in the crosshairs II / Thomas Doyle

Photo of Tom DoyleRev. Thomas P. Doyle, who has a doctorate in canon law and five master’s degrees, sacrificed a rising career at the Vatican Embassy to become an outspoken advocate for church abuse victims. Since 1984, when he became involved with the issue of sexual abuse of children by Catholic clergy while serving at the Embassy, he has become an expert in the canonical and pastoral dimensions of this problem. The first part of his commentary on SNAP was published earlier in this blog.

As soon as the media announced that the two leaders of SNAP had resigned and that a former employee had filed a lawsuit, the usual suspects came out of the woodwork to hammer SNAP, Barbara Blaine, David Clohessy and several others who have been connected with SNAP in one way or another. The information they broadcast about SNAP and its problems all came from the complaint that initiated the lawsuit. No one has any “inside information.”

A complaint in a lawsuit is exactly that: a list of things with which the plaintiff took issue. The purpose of the legal process is to determine whether these complaints are true.

The complaint about SNAP and its central leadership tries to give the impression that the entire organization is somehow corrupt and working against sex abuse victims. Nothing could be further from reality. Nor is the national leadership the totality of SNAP, and vice versa. Thus, while the lawsuit names SNAP, the fact is that it’s really about less than a handful of members.

Most of the news stories triggered by the lawsuit have not vilified SNAP or its leaders. The exceptions come primarily from two notorious sources: David Pierre and Bill Donohue. Both of these individuals consistently deny the scope of clerical sex abuse and attribute the actions of survivors and their supporters to anti-Catholic sentiments instead of to a thirst for justice.

Pierre operates a web site called the Media Report, which I have read only once or twice and was singularly unenlightened each time.

Donohue has complained for years that SNAP promotes anti-Catholicism, and he endorses the baseless claim made in the lawsuit that SNAP leaders have a “pathological hatred of the Catholic Church.”

It’s a silly accusation. Yes, of course a lot of sex abuse survivors and those who support them are highly critical of the institutional church—and of bishops in particular. It’s a natural response to being abused and then having to endure the lying, cover ups, demonization, and manipulation by their trusted shepherds. Whether Donohue likes it or not, sexual molestation of innumerable minor boys and girls by Catholic clerics is a reality. No amount of spin or bombastic raving or charges of anti-Catholicism can make it go away. (The other reality is that the number of false accusations is miniscule.)

The ultimate anti-Catholic behavior, in my view, is the lying, cover up, demonization, and manipulation of victims by the bishops. Indeed, the prime cause of scandal, anger and “Catholic bashing” has not been the sex abuse itself but the behavior of the hierarchy world-wide.

Bishops who have secretly transferred sex abusers from parish to parish, protected them, and then lied about it not only deserve severe criticism but also, according to the Church’s own law enacted last May by Pope Francis, dismissal from office. Why? Because tolerating, protecting and enabling the molestation of children violates teachings that come from the core of the Church’s belief system: the Gospels of Jesus Christ.

Vilifying the victims of the Church’s ministers and attacking those who support them as “anti-Catholic” may generate headlines, but it cannot erase those basic truths. Catholic clergy abused children for decades (centuries); the bishops covered it up; and the Church still has not fully come to terms with that massive failure.

Contrary to the wishful thinking of many in Church leadership, it is not “over.” Victims of clergy abuse are still coming forward. In numerous other countries, the victims are organizing and standing up to the institutional Church just as they did in the U.S. Victims no longer will cower in the shadows. That era ended almost 40 years ago.

The forces who demand honesty, accountability, and transparency will continue hacking away at the False-Church facade so that the real thing, the “People of God,” can emerge to its rightful place.

A final thought about the lawsuit. A number of people who have read the complaint seem to believe there’s something fishy about it. One wonders if the real purpose has nothing to do with justice or whistleblowing but, like some of the other lawsuits aimed at SNAP, aims to use the legal process to force SNAP out of business.

April 20, 2017

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