Posts Tagged accountability

Pope’s abuse prevention commission prioritizes survivors, education / Catholic News Agency

According to an April 22 communique from the commission, the first day of their plenary was dedicated to hearing thoughts and testimonies from survivors of clerical sexual abuse, many of them members of the Survivor Advisory Panel (SAP) of the National Catholic Safeguarding Commission of England and Wales. (Catholic News Agency)

Pope Francis’ commission for the protection of minors met in Rome last week to listen to survivors of clerical sexual abuse, and to discuss abuse prevention education and policy, and ways the Church might work more closely with abuse survivors.

“According to an April 22 communique from the commission, the first day of their plenary was dedicated to hearing thoughts and testimonies from survivors of clerical sexual abuse, many of them members of the Survivor Advisory Panel (SAP) of the National Catholic Safeguarding Commission of England and Wales.

“Those who attended voiced appreciation for being listened to, and described the encounter as ’empowering.’

“One of the survivors, according to the communique, voiced hope that their visit would help the commission “develop a wider network of survivors who are willing to advise and support” the commission’s work in a similar manner.”

By Elise Harris, Catholic News Agency — Read more …

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Voice of the Faithful “Focus” News Roundup


TOP STORIES

Francis admits ‘serious mistakes’ in handling of Chile abuse cases
“Pope Francis has admitted making ‘serious mistakes’(link is external) in his handling of clergy sexual abuse cases in Chile, telling the country’s bishops in a lengthy letter that he feels ‘pain and shame’ for the ‘crucified lives’ of those who suffered abuse. But Francis has not revealed whether he will sack a Chilean prelate accused of covering up abuse, whom he has previously defended to the outrage of abuse survivors. Instead, Francis has asked the country’s bishops to come to Rome en masse for a meeting at some point soon.” By Joshua J. McElwee, National Catholic Reporter

As diocese prepares to pay victims, its primary source of money: parishioners
“Bishop Richard J. Malone assures donors that no gifts to Catholic Charities will be used to settle clergy sexual abuse claims. But area Catholics – one way or another – are paying(link is external). To compensate sex abuse victims, Malone said the diocese will rely on insurance coverage, investment reserves and the possible sale of property, all of which trace back to the wallets and pocketbooks of people in the pews.” By Jay Tokasz, The Buffalo News

First class action against Church looms under new laws
“The Sale Diocese (Australia) could become embroiled in a landmark class action to be brought by alleged victims of child abuse(link is external). The proposed action relates to alleged historical child sex and physical abuse offences at St Patrick’s College in Sale, many of which are said to have occurred in the 1970s when the school housed boarders. Two St Patrick’s cases have already been prosecuted in the criminal system, with another case against a Marist Brother, alleging multiple victims, set to go to trial later this year.” By CathNews.com

In Gaudete et Exultate, Pope answers ‘Amoris’ critics; don’t ‘reduce, constrict’ Gospel
“Although a new document from Pope Francis on holiness reflects permanent themes in his thinking and in Catholic spirituality, in context, it also offers indirect commentary on two recent burning questions(link is external): First, what does the pope really believe about Hell, the afterlife, and the spiritual realm? Second, how would he answer critics such as the several hundred who gathered in Rome to contest his 2016 document Amoris Laetitia?” By Inés San Martin, Cruxnow.com

Catholic Whistleblowers want ‘substantial revisions’ to church’s sex abuse policies
“A Catholic watchdog group is challenging the U.S. bishops to make ‘substantial revisions’ to their nearly two-decade-old policies regarding sexual abuse of minor(link is external)s, and to include abuse survivors and the laity in the process. Among seven reforms to the guiding documents — the 2002 Charter for the Protection of Young People, or the Dallas Charter, and the Essential Norms for Diocesan/Eparchial Policies Dealing with Allegations of Sexual Abuse of Minors by Priests or Deacons — proposed by the Catholic Whistleblowers are: extending its zero tolerance policy regarding sexual abuse to any cleric, religious or church employee, including bishops complicit with abuse …” By Peter Roewe, National Catholic Reporter

ACCOUNTABILITY

Sex-abuse report looms over Catholic dioceses
“Since July 2016, a grand jury seated in Pittsburgh has been quietly hearing testimony on alleged rape and sexual abuse of children by priests and others associated with the Roman Catholic Church(link is external). The scope of the investigation spans seven decades and from one end of Pennsylvania to the other. What is expected in the coming weeks is a report that could be the most comprehensive and geographically expansive official report ever produced in the United States on the enormity of the scandal.” By Peter Smith, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Downingtown pastor resigns after ‘inappropriate’ expenses, relationships
“Seven years ago, Msgr. Joseph McLoone was dispatched to Downingtown with a tall task: to try to stabilize St. Joseph Parish, a Catholic community left shell-shocked after its pastor was charged with protecting priests who preyed on children(link is external) across the region … But this weekend (Apr. 15), St. Joseph parishioners learned that his tenure had come to a shocking end. The archdiocese announced that McLoone, 55, had resigned – less than two months after he went on an indefinite leave of absence – amid an investigation into financial improprieties and inappropriate ‘relationships with adults’ that violated archdiocesan standards.” By David Gambacorta and John V. Smith, The Inquirer

Victims of Legion of Christ founder seek compensation for abuse
“Eight victims of the Catholic Church’s most notorious pedophile priest(link is external) are pressing the Legion of Christ religious order to compensate them for the sexual abuse they suffered and the psychological harm they say resulted from the order’s prolonged campaign to discredit them. The men sent a letter to the Legion’s leadership seeking public. … The letter, obtained by The Associated Press, is the latest indication that clergy abuse victims are increasingly demanding recognition and apologies for the retaliation often inflicted on them by Church leaders after they report allegations of abuse.” By Nicole Winfield, Associated Press, on Cruxnow.com

Chilean abuse victims welcome Pope Francis’ letter, call for zero tolerance
“Victims of clergy sexual abuse welcomed Pope Francis’ letter in which he apologized(link is external) for underestimating the seriousness of the crisis in Chile. James Hamilton, Jose Andres Murillo and Juan Carlos Cruz, victims of Father Fernando Karadima, released a statement April 11 saying they appreciated the pope’s letter and were ‘evaluating the possibilities’ for meeting with the pope. ‘The damage committed by the hierarchy of the Chilean church, to which the pope refers, has affected many people, not just us,’ the victims said.” By Jane Chambers, Catholic News Service, in America: The Jesuit Review

POPE FRANCIS

Chile victims meet Pope April 28-29 at Vatican
“The three main protagonists in denouncing Chile’s sex abuse scandal will meet with Pope Francis on April 28-29(link is external) and will stay as his guests at the Vatican hotel where he lives, one of the men told The Associated Press. Juan Carlos Cruz, a survivor of Chile’s most famous predator priest, said he and his colleagues had agreed to Francis’ invitation to come to Rome so the pope could personally apologize for having discredited them during his recent trip to Chile.” By Nicole Winfield, Associated Press

Pope Francis’s ‘Gaudete et Exsultate,’ the devil vs. the middle class of holiness
“The call to holiness is universal, and it is incompatible with individualism, dogmatism, and sectarianism. This is the heart of the exhortation Gaudete et Exsultate(link is external), the fourth major pontifical document to appear since Francis became pope (not counting the encyclical Lumen fidei of June 2013, largely written by Benedict XVI before his resignation). The new exhortation is also the most important magisterial text of the Catholic Church on holiness since Vatican II’s Lumen gentium, which insisted on the ‘universal call to holiness.’” By Massimo Faggioli, Commonweal

Pope Francis’ new exhortation on holiness is deeply Ignatian
“Pope Francis’ new apostolic exhortation, ‘Gaudete et Exsultate,’ (‘Rejoice and Be Glad’) offers Christians a rich reflection on the ‘Call to Holiness in Today’s World(link is external).’ It is both steeped in the church’s spiritual tradition and at the same time is a passionately personal document. The third of the pope’s apostolic exhortations, it bears the date March 19, 2018. Thus it marks the fifth anniversary of Francis’ inaugural Mass on the Feast of St. Joseph, March 19, 2013, and, in many ways, can be read as a recapitulation of major themes and concerns of his papal magisterium.” By Robert P. Imbelli, America: The Jesuit Review

Panelists look at ‘new lens’ of Pope Francis
“Among the plethora of events commemorating five years of Pope Francis’ pontificate this spring, the one at the University of Notre Dame aimed to focus on his contributions to Catholic social teaching on peace(link is external), the poor and the planet. But another ‘P’ also kept coming up: polarization. Although Francis remains popular, controversy about his pontificate is real, especially among inner-circle Catholics deeply invested in the church, said speakers at the April 3 event, sponsored by Notre Dame’s Center for Social Concerns.” By Heidi Schlumpf, National Catholic Reporter

Bishops try to clarify Pope Francis’ decision not to apologize for residential schools
“The Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops says it’s incorrect to suggest that Pope Francis is refusing to apologize to survivors of Canada’s notoriously abusive residential schools. The conference has sent a background paper to MPs and senators in a bid to clarify what it characterizes as ‘misunderstandings and factual errors(link is external)’ in media reports about the Pope’s decision not to personally apologize for the role played by the Roman Catholic Church in operating the schools.” By Andrew Medichini, The Associated Press, in The Globe and Mail

CARDINALS

Cardinal Pell’s sex abuse hearing closes, ruling expected May 1
“A lawyer for the most senior Vatican official to be charged in the Catholic Church sex abuse crisis(link is external) told an Australian court on Tuesday (Apr. 17) that Cardinal George Pell could have been targeted with false accusations to punish him for the crimes of other clerics. Defense and prosecution lawyers were making their final submissions in the Melbourne Magistrates Court in a hearing to determine whether the case against Australia’s highest-ranking Catholic was strong enough to warrant a trial by jury.” By Associated Press on Cruxnow.com

PRIESTS

Flannery urges end to silencing of Irish priests before papal visit
“Vatican silencing of six Irish priests(link is external) should be ended in preparation for the visit of Pope Francis to Ireland next August, one of those priests has said. Redemptorist priest Fr. Tony Flannery said that ‘if Irish bishops really cared about justice and fairness in the church’ they would be making efforts to have sanctions placed on the six priests during the pontificate of Pope Benedict lifted.” By Patsy McGarry, The Irish Times

Get rid of the clergy but keep Holy Orders
“In their fascinating exchange on the clergy (‘Imagine There’s No Clergy’), William M. Shea and David Cloutier seem unable to distinguish the ‘clerical state’ from the ‘sacrament of orders(link is external).’ One author appears to seek elimination of both for the sake of evangelical renewal, while the other appears to seek preservation of both for the same reason. Contrary to what appears to be the argument of both authors, the ‘sacrament of orders’ and the ‘clerical state’ are historically distinct and institutionally separable. During its first three centuries, the Greek-speaking church developed and sustained the ‘sacrament of orders’ for episcopoi, presbyteroi, and diaconoi (bishops, presbyters, and deacons). But there was as yet no ‘clerical state.’ That came only in the fourth century, through the Constantinian fusion of the Catholic Church with the Roman Imperial State.” By Joe Holland, Commonweal

Priests’ group wants significant change in priest formation process
“The Association of U.S. Catholic Priests has called on the U.S. bishops to assure that teachings of the Second Vatican Council(link is external) become the bedrock of U.S. priestly formation programs, not ‘little more than an historical footnote’ or ‘a distortive moment in the Church’s pilgrimage through time.’ On March 29, the national group released the text of a 5,000-plus-word statement outlining ‘five overriding concerns’ about priestly formation. The document and an explanatory letter was sent to Cardinal Joseph Tobin of Newark, New Jersey, in late January. Tobin chairs the U.S. bishops’ Committee on Clergy, Consecrated Life and Vocations, which is overseeing revision of the Program of Priestly Formation for U.S. seminaries, part of a global effort mandated by the Vatican.” By Dan Morris-Young, National Catholic Reporter

WOMEN RELIGIOUS

Catholic sisters are not an ‘endangered species’
“I was deeply inspired by a recent interview of young Catholic sisters(link is external) who are entering religious communities at a time when some wonder if this lifestyle is doomed to extinction. Worldwide there are about 670,000 Catholic sisters, but there are 75 percent fewer U.S. sisters today compared to 1965, when 180,000 sisters were serving in Catholic schools and hospitals. Today, 45,605 serve in more diverse ministries, and many are well into their wisdom years. Still, over 1,000 U.S. women are preparing to become sisters right now, and over 200 women and men profess perpetual vows annually.” By Christine Schenk, National Catholic Reporter

Sisters on the front lines declare: ‘we’re the Church, we’re leaders!’
“As anyone who follows the Catholic Church has known for a long time, in many of the ways that matter, including leadership of some of the Church’s keenest social justice fights, religious women represent the front lines(link is external). That point got an exclamation point at a Rome gathering on Wednesday (Apr. 11), with nuns involved in combating human trafficking and ending some of the world’s most chronic conflicts declaring, ‘We are the Church, we are women, we are leaders!’” By Claire Giangravè, Cruxnow.com

CHILD PROTECTION

Archdiocese reveals investments in child protection, victim aid
April is Child Abuse Prevention Awareness Month(link is external), and on April 23 the Archdiocese of Philadelphia will conduct a conference on the topic for safe environment coordinators and facilitators at the Doubletree by Hilton in King of Prussia. A letter announcing this conference written by Archbishop Charles Chaput was sent to all archdiocesan priests and deacons earlier this month.” By Lou Baldwin, CatholicPhilly.com

Hundreds march in downtown Boise to demand an end to child abuse
“Hundreds of people hit the streets of downtown Boise Wednesday (Apr. 4) in a stand for children – and against abuse. Chanting ‘No excuse for child abuse(link is external),’ the group marched from the Grove Plaza to the Idaho Statehouse for the Idaho Child Abuse Prevention Rally. Many of the participants dressed in blue and carried blue pinwheels, which organizers call the symbol of the happy, healthy, carefree childhood that all children deserve.” By KTVB-TV

Online course focuses on child sex abuse prevention
“A Ronkonkoma-based nonprofit on Monday (Apr. 2) announced that the group has launched a free online course that seeks to teach adults how to detect, report and, hopefully, prevent child sexual abuse(link is external). Enrollees will learn tips on how to prevent a sexual assault from taking place and “tricks” sexual predators employ to gain access to children, said Laura Ahearn, executive director of Parents for Megan’s Law and The Crime Victims Center.” By Chau Lam, Newsday

CELIBACY& MARRIED PRIESTS

Quebec bishops ponder possibility of married priests
“The Catholic bishops of Quebec have discussed the possibility of ordaining married men to priesthood(link is external). During a conference dedicated to the future of the Catholic Church in Quebec, Auxiliary Bishop Marc Pelchat of Quebec said consolidating parishes was not a solution to the lack of priests. ‘During a closed hearing at a recent plenary session of bishops, there was talk of the ordination of married men of a certain age, whose ecclesial commitment is tested. This is an important reflection that we have right now,’ he said in mid-March.” By Veronique Demers, Catholic News Service, in National Catholic Reporter

WOMEN DEACONS

A return to church tradition on women deacons
“Two new books in Italian join the expanding conversation about women in the diaconate(link is external), one a collection of academic essays, the other a more accessible, general book. Both Donne Diacono? and Diacone are in response to Pope Francis’ May 2016 announcement and August 2016 appointment of the Papal Commission for the Study of the Diaconate of Women. The books’ titles belie their views. Women Deacons? and Deacons seem innocuous enough in English, but their matching linguistic subtexts present the view that women deacons are just that.” By Phyllis Zagano, National Catholic Reporter

WOMEN IN THE CHURCH

Should women rejoice over ‘Gaudete et Exsultate’?
“The first impressions of Pope Francis’ apostolic exhortation, Gaudete et Exsultate, are in and, not surprisingly, the reviews are glowing. And with good reason: in his reflection on the universal call of all of God’s people to holiness, Francis taps into one of the richest dimensions of the Catholic imagination. That is, the notion that those who live in our midst, from our next-door neighbor to the homeless person on the street, can, and often do, reflect God’s presence … But, sadly, another hallmark of Francis’ theological vision also resurfaces in this latest work: his narrow view of a woman’s purpose in the world(link is external).” By Jamie Manson, National Catholic Reporter

There are also women there
“The first thing that jumped out at me in Pope Francis’s apostolic exhortation on holiness, Gaudete et Exsultate, is how much he has put women in the foreground(link is external). Women are usually in the background of papal statements, if they appear at all. Not here. They are upfront and visible. Right at the outset (§ 3), Francis brings up the witness of Sarah (along with Abraham), and calls attention to the role of our own mothers and grandmothers as holy witnesses who have shaped our faith.” By Rita Ferrone, Commonweal

Pontifical Commission for Latin America proposes synod on women
“The Catholic Church in Latin America must recognize and appreciate the role of women(link is external) and end the practice of using them solely as submissive laborers in the parish, said members of a pontifical commission. In addition, at the end of their plenary meeting March 6-9 at the Vatican, members of the Pontifical Commission for Latin America proposed that the church hold a Synod of Bishops ‘on the theme of the woman in the life and mission of the church.’” By Junno Arocho Esteves, Catholic News Service, in America: The Jesuit Review

FUTURE OF THE CHURCH

Cardinal Tobin warns against temptation to shrink Catholic community to pure members
“Attempts to make the church smaller and more pure(link is external) will only achieve one of the two—and it is probably not the latter. That was the message from Cardinal Joseph Tobin in a talk at Villanova University on April 12, during which he urged Catholics to resist allowing ‘the individualism that permeates our culture’ to infect the church.” By Michael O’Loughlin, America: The Jesuit Review

Weekly Catholic Church attendance in decade-long decline
“Weekly church attendance among Catholics in the United States has been on a steep and steady decline over the past decade(link is external), Gallup data released Monday (Apr. 9) indicate. Gallup’s data found an average of 39 percent of Catholics reported attending church within the past seven days between 2014 and 2017, compared with 45 percent from 2005 to 2008.” By Daniel Uria, UPI

German bishops ask Vatican for clarity on Holy Communion
“Seven German bishops have written to the Vatican, asking for clarification on the question of Protestant spouses of Catholics receiving Holy Communion(link is external). The letter was sent to Cardinal Kurt Koch, President of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, and Archbishop Luis Ladaria, Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. The signatories, among them the Archbishop of Cologne and five Bavarian bishops, did not beforehand consult with the president of the German bishops’ conference, Cardinal Reinhard Marx.” By Anian Christoph Wimmer, Catholic News Agency

VOICES

‘Biggest obstacle to Catholic Church is itself,’ claims bishop
“The Bishop of Galloway has released a letter suggesting: ‘It could be argued that the greatest obstacle to preaching the gospel today in Scotland is the Catholic Church itself(link is external).’ The clergyman’s letter came just days after a priest from his diocese was jailed for child sex abuse. He said negative publicity was ‘embarrassing’ to Catholics. The pastoral letter from Bishop William Nolan said recent sexual abuse scandals involving clergy called into question the trust parishioners have in their priests.” By BBC News Scotland

Appalled by what Catholic Church has become, I am walking away
“I am voting with my feet. As a 62-year-old practicing Catholic, one would think my religious adherence has been well and truly set. To an extent, that is correct; I love my church’s rites and, most especially, the beautiful sacraments that have helped to sustain me throughout my life. I appreciate the redemptive power of confession, when used in appropriate circumstances and with the freedom of surrender. Despite this deeply felt connection, I have concluded my only way forward is to turn away(link is external).” By Maryanne McNeil, The Chronicle Herald

CHURCH FINANCES

Expert in diocesan finances has ‘never seen’ pension move like La Crosse’s
“Jack Ruhl, an expert on diocesan finances, frequently wanders through the thicket of church financial disclosures, but has never seen anything like the dissolution of the Diocese of La Crosse(link is external), Wisconsin, lay pension plan … He told NCR he has never seen the approach taken by the La Crosse Diocese, which says it will not be able to meet its promised obligations to hundreds of retired Catholic school teachers, parish workers and custodians.” By Peter Feuerherd, National Catholic Reporter

Downingtown St. Joe’s parish members in shock after sudden resignation of pastor
“Over the weekend (Apr. 15), parishioners were informed that (Monsignor Joseph) McLoone had been placed on administrative leave by the archdiocese after he acknowledged that he had set up a private bank account in the church’s name, and had used funds from that account — which in all totaled about $110,000 over a six-year period beginning in 2017 — for ‘personal expenses of an inappropriate nature(link is external) … related to relationships with adults.’ By Michael Rellahan, Delaware County Times

STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS REFORM

What’s next for Child Victims’ Act in Albany
“The bill was included inside a New York State Assembly budget proposal this year, but was not included in the final spending plan. Currently, victims of child sex abuse in New York state can only seek civil penalties against their abusers until the age of 18. The Child Victims Act, which aims to extend that age to 50, would also open a ‘look-back’ period of a year for those who were abused at any time.(link is external) Despite originally being included with the state budget this year, it was removed before the budget passed late last week.” By Katrina Fuller, The Post-Journal

CLERGY CHILD SEXUAL ABUSE

Barbara Dorris, two board members the latest SNAP leaders to leave
“More leadership upheaval(link is external) has hit the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests. Roughly a year after founder Barbara Blaine and executive director David Clohessy departed the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, another longtime leader, Barbara Dorris, has left the sexual abuse victims’ advocacy organization, along with the president of its board of directors and another board member.” By Brian Roewe, National Catholic Reporter

Can justice heal scars of sexual abuse by a priest?
“Nothing damages a child more than betrayal of trust. Failure by a person who is supposed to love and/or protect the child leaves lifelong scars. Knowing that, it is painful to read that a state grand jury is poised to deliver ‘the worst report ever’ on child abuse in the Catholic Church(link is external) in six dioceses, including Harrisburg. State Rep. Mark Rozzi, D-Berks, who counts himself as a survivor of clergy abuse, said the grand jury had no trouble finding witnesses to testify. His hope is that the report will prompt the Legislature to pass laws allowing victims to get justice despite the passage of time.” By Nancy Eshelman, PennLive.com

CONNECTICUT

Civil lawsuit filed against Connecticut priest accused of child sex abuse
(Apr. 18, 2018) “A man who says he was sexually abused by a priest(link is external) while growing up in Bristol is taking his case to court. A civil lawsuit filed in New Haven Superior Court names the priest, Reverend Gregory Altermatt, and the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Hartford. It claims sexual abuse dating back to the 1970s and 1980s when the plaintiff, now in his 40s, was 7 to 15 years old.” By Justin Schecker, NBC News Connecticut

ILLINOIS

Religious orders should publicize names of those accused of sexual abuse, just like diocesan priests
“On its website, the Roman Catholic Diocese of Joliet publishes a document called, ‘List of Diocesan Priests With a Credible/Substantial Allegation(link is external).’ When I checked Friday (Apr. 13), the list contained 35 names and was last updated in late 2016. I’d like you to take note of the word ‘diocesan’ in the document’s title.” By Ted Slowik, Chicago Tribune

Ex-Providence Catholic president under investigation for alleged sexual abuse of student
“The former president of Providence Catholic High School in New Lenox, whom police investigated earlier this year for ‘potentially inappropriate material(link is external)’ on his cell phone, is now under investigation for allegations he sexually abused a male student in the mid-1990s, police said. New Lenox Police Chief Bob Sterba said Thursday (Apr. 12) that the department began a criminal investigation into the sexual abuse claims against the Rev. Richard McGrath after the alleged victim came to them in early January.” By Zak Koeske, Chicago Tribune

MAINE

Maine House votes to save child abuse prevention program
“The Maine House voted Tuesday (Apr. 10) to rescue a $2.2 million child abuse prevention program(link is external) in an attempt to overturn efforts by the LePage administration to terminate it. The bill to save the Community Partnerships for Protecting Children has attracted bipartisan support, with Democratic lawmakers joined by Republican Senate Majority Leader Michael Thibodeau and Republican Sen. Amy Volk of Scarborough. The measure was approved on a voice vote and will now go to the Senate.” By Joe Lawlor, Portland Press Herald

MARYLAND

Former youth minister at Rockville church sentenced to three years for sexual abuse of teen
“A former youth minister at St. Elizabeth’s Catholic Church in Rockville was sentenced Tuesday (Apr. 3) to three years in prison for the sexual abuse of a teen parishioner(link is external), according to Montgomery County prosecutors. Brian Patrick Werth, 34, had been arrested in 2016 in connection with the abuse of a then-16-year-old girl, to whom he had sent explicit text messages for two years and had sexual contact with her earlier that year. He was charged with a fourth-degree sex offense, sexual abuse of a minor and second-degree assault.” By Joe Zimmermann, Bethesda Magazine

MICHIGAN

Prosecutor jabs back after DeLand’s attorney calls charges ‘outright appalling’
“A Catholic priest in the Saginaw area is facing additional charges. Rev. Robert DeLand was jailed Thursday, April 5, on four additional charges … DeLand of Freeland originally was charged in February with criminal sexual conduct for allegedly assaulting two males(link is external), ages 21 and 17. Det. Brian Berg with the Tittabawassee Township Police Department said three of the new charges involved the same victim from the original February charges. The fourth charge involved an additional 18-year-old victim who claims DeLand tried to sexually assault him inside St. Agnes Church in May 2017.” By WNEM-TV

Upper Peninsula priest on leave denies allegation of sexual misconduct with minor
“A retired priest in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula currently on administrative leave has denied allegations he committed sexual misconduct involving a minor(link is external) back in the 1970s. The Mining Journal reports Rev. Frank M. Lenz said that he is innocent ‘without reservation’ and that he looks forward to the investigation clearing his name. Lenz was accused on Friday, March 30 by a woman who said he sexually abused her at least a dozen times while she was underage.” By Benjamin Raven, MLive.com

NEW JERSEY

Lawsuit alleges Bergen Catholic covered up wrestling coach’s abuse
“A former wrestler has sued a prestigious Catholic high school in New Jersey, claiming school and church officials conspired to cover up sexual and verbal abuse in its nationally recognized wrestling program(link is external). Andrew Miltenberg represents the former student, who accuses Bergen Catholic High School wrestling head coach David Bell and assistant coach Dominick Spataro of sexually harassing the boy and others on the team.” By ABC7NY.com

NEW MEXICO

Not all abusive clergy listed in archdiocese list
“In September, after years of pressure from survivors of childhood sexual abuse by Catholic clergy, the Archdiocese of Santa Fe publicly released the names of 74 priests, deacons and brothers it says have been credibly accused of abusing children(link is external) in its parishes in the past several decades. Many people hailed the list as an important first step in the archdiocese taking accountability for widespread suffering caused by a deeply rooted scandal. But a lawsuit filed Thursday (Apr. 5) in a state District Court in Albuquerque accuses the archdiocese of issuing a list that was ‘deceptively incomplete.’” By Phaedra Haywood, The Santa Fe New Mexican

NEW YORK

Buffalo bishop to sell mansion to compensate clergy sex abuse victims
“Bishop Richard J. Malone mentioned in March that no Catholic Diocese of Buffalo properties would be off-limits from the possibility of being sold to help compensate childhood victims of clergy sexual abuse. The sell-off started on Tuesday (Apr. 17), with Malone’s sudden announcement that he will put on the market his own residence(link is external), a palatial mansion on one of Buffalo’s most exclusive streets that’s been home to Buffalo bishops since 1952.” By Jay Tokasz and Jonathan Epstein, The Buffalo News

Priest who taught at two Buffalo-area high schools was target of sex abuse complaint
“A priest who taught students at two Buffalo-area Catholic high schools for more than a decade was suspended from any public ministry in 2014 after he was accused of sexually abusing a minor(link is external), The Buffalo News confirmed this week (Apr. 9). The Rev. Michael M. Lewandowski, now 71, was suspended after the allegation was made in May 2014, according to the Catholic Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown, Pa.” By Dan Herbeck, The Buffalo News

Priest accused of sexual abuse at Lewiston church
“In 1981, a Western New York native says a man he trusted, did the unthinkable at a Catholic church in Lewiston. ‘I had asked to have a confession and after the confession, he sexually abused me(link is external).’ That survivor came forward Thursday (May. 5), over the phone. We’ve identified him as ‘John Doe’ because he doesn’t want to reveal his identity.” By Rochelle Alleyne, Spectrum News Buffalo

50 years later, man accuses prominent Niagara Falls priest of molesting him as a child
“A 63-year-old Youngstown man alleges he was sexually abused 50 years ago by a Niagara Falls priest(link is external) who received many awards and honors for his work with poor people, the homeless and disadvantaged teenagers. Niagara County resident Mark V. Lynch said he was 13 years old when he was molested in 1968 by the late Rev. Joseph A. Schuster in a Niagara Falls rectory.” By Dan Herbeck, The Buffalo News

PENNSYLVANIA

Pittsburgh Catholic diocese suspends deacon, says child porn charges against him ‘disturbing’
“A deacon with the Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh has been arrested and is facing child pornography and related charges(link is external), accused of trying to contact a minor over the internet. Investigators say the Pennsylvania Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force arrested 73-year-old Rosendo ‘Ross’ Dacal, of McCandless, at his home on Tuesday (Apr. 11).” By Ralph Iannotti, KDKA-TV CBS Local, Pittsburgh

Grand jury investigation into Harrisburg Diocese nears completion; findings to be worse than other reports
“The findings of a state grand jury investigation into clergy sex abuse(link is external) in six Roman Catholic Dioceses across Pennsylvania, including that of Harrisburg, are shaping up to be the most damning to date against the Catholic Church, according to one of the biggest advocates for victims of child sex abuse. State Rep. Mark Rozzi, D-Berks, on Wednesday (Apr. 4) said the findings out of the grand jury will likely prove to be worse than those out of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia and the Altoona-Johnstown Diocese.” By Ivey DeJesus, PennLive.com

Erie Catholic diocese priests, laypersons credibly accused of sexual abuse
“Erie Catholic Diocese released a list of all priests and laypersons credibly accused of sexual abuse(link is external) during a news conference Friday morning (Apr. 6). The list includes 34 priest, 20 of whom are deceased, and 17 laypersons, two of whom are dead. The list includes the names of people who have been credibly accused of actions ranging from furnishing pornography to minors to direct, sexual assault of minors. The Diocese said it believes these actions disqualify them from working with children and youth.” By ErieNewsNow.com

Survivor of abuse warns that grand jury findings of Pennsylvania Catholic dioceses will be graphic, troubling
“Advocates for victims of clergy sex abuse are bracing for what they say is certain to be stunning findings(link is external) out of the most current investigation into abuse across six Catholic dioceses in Pennsylvania. One of those advocates, Shaun Dougherty, himself a childhood victim of sexual abuse by a priest, warned that the findings expected out of the grand jury investigation could be extremely troubling. ‘There’s some graphic things coming,’ Dougherty told PennLive during a phone interview from his home in New York. ‘If their report reflects the reports I’m hearing, yes some parts are going to make the Altoona-Johnstown report look like Disney World. This is huge.’” By Ivey DeJesus, PennLive.com

ARGENTINA

Argentine bishop’s new law orders priests: ‘hands off children’
“Priests in Argentina are now banned from touching children(link is external) under new guidelines intended to help curb pedophilia in the Catholic church, but relatives of survivors say the move doesn’t go far enough. New ecclesiastical legislation from Archbishop of Parana Juan Alberto Puiggari, in the province of Entre Rios, rules that priests must refrain from all physical contact; must leave the sacristy door open while hearing confessions; must be accompanied by another adult during road trips with minors, and are prohibited from sharing a hotel room with children.” By TeleSurTV.net

AUSTRALIA

States slow to sign on to redress scheme
“Recalcitrant states – rather than the churches – are looming as the biggest roadblock to the Commonwealth’s $4 billion sexual abuse redress scheme(link is external). As the broad Catholic sector moves to opt in, the Turnbull Government will use a state and territory ministers’ meeting on April 30 to urge Western Australia and Queensland to join the national victim compensation scheme.” By CathNews.com

Former Shenton Park priest charged with historic child sex offenses
“An 83-year-old man has been charged with historic child sex abuse offences(link is external), allegedly committed while he was a priest at a Shenton Park Catholic church between 1979 and 1992. Police allege the man physically and sexually assaulted seven children – boys and girls – who were aged between six and 12 years old at the time of the first offence.” By The Sydney Morning Herald

Archbishop denies in Australian court knowledge of pedophile
“A Catholic archbishop on Wednesday (Apr. 11) denied under oath in an Australian court that two former altar boys ever told him that they had been sexually abused by a priest(link is external). Adelaide Archbishop Philip Wilson is the most senior cleric in the world to be charged with covering up for a pedophile priest. The 67-year-old was tried in the Newcastle Local Court on Wednesday after Magistrate Robert Stone rejected his application to have the case thrown out. Wilson has pleaded not guilty and faces a potential two-year prison sentence if convicted.” By Associated Press on Cruxnow.com

Former Catholic principal, 80, sexually assaults five young boys
(Apr. 6, 2018) “A former Catholic principal has pleaded guilty to assaulting five boys(link is external)while he taught at a Victorian school in the 1970s. Marist Brother Gerard Joseph McNamara, 80, was the head of St Paul’s Catholic College in Traralgon and the sports master when the assaults happened. He pleaded guilty during a committal hearing at Melbourne Magistrates’ Court to abusing five boys during his tenure, the Gippsland Times reported.” By Cait Kelly and Australian Associated Press for Daily Mail Australia

CANADA

Convicted of sexually abusing boys, ex-priest granted parole
“William O’Sullivan arrived at Penetanguishene, Ont, Friday (Apr. 13) expecting the worst but hoping he was wrong. He wasn’t. Donald Grecco, the former Catholic priest convicted of sexually abusing O’Sullivan as a boy(link is external), will soon be a free man. After deliberating for more than four hours Friday, Ontario parole board members at the Central North Correctional Centre voted to grant Grecco’s request for early release after serving six months of an 18-month sentence.” By Grant LaFleche, St. Catharine’s Standard

GREAT BRITAIN, SCOTLAND & WALES

Catholic Church ‘sorry’ but yet to contact priest sex abuse victims
“The Catholic Church in Scotland has apologized to two victims of a priest jailed for sexual abuse(link is external) but is yet to contact them. Father Paul Moore committed the crimes in Ayrshire between 1977 and 1996. Two of his victims, Paul Smyth and Andi Lavery, went public with their stories after waiving their right to anonymity.” By BBC News Scotland

Top Catholic school stripped of pupil welfare responsibilities
“A leading Catholic school has been stripped of its responsibilities to protect children(link is external) amid concerns over the way it has handled allegations of sexual abuse. The Charity Commission has appointed a lawyer to take charge of safeguarding at Ampleforth College, a prestigious boarding school in North Yorkshire. Emma Moody has been appointed to manage the charities that run the college and Ampleforth Abbey. Both bodies have been under investigation by the commission since 2016 following reports of abuse.” By Harriet Sherwood

GUAM

Father Adrian Cristobal accused of sexually assaulting altar boy
Another sexual abuse lawsuit(link is external) has been filed against the church, this time naming former Chancellor Father Adrian Cristobal. The alleged victim is now 35 years old and is only known by the initials L.J.C. He alleges that Cristobal molested him when he was between the ages of 12 to 14 years while an altar boy at the San Vicente Church in Barrigada.” By Janela Carrera, Pacific News Center News First

New archbishop cracking down on clergy sex abuse
“He’s the leader of Guam’s faithful. Archbishop Michael Byrnes was appointed to the Archdiocese of Agana two years ago. At the time there were only a handful of clergy sexual abuse lawsuits. Though the count is now upwards of 160-lawsuits(link is external), he’s worked tirelessly to prevent future cases. And his efforts haven’t gone unnoticed. He’s the recipient of this year’s Visionary Voice Award. Earlier this week, Archbishop Byrnes accepted the award during a proclamation signing to commemorate Sexual Assault Awareness Month and Child Abuse Prevention Month.” By Krystal Paco, KUAM-TV

IRELAND & NORTHERN IRELAND

Priest admits sexual assaults
“A 79-year-old priest who got a suspended jail term last month for sexually assaulting a girl throughout her First Confession(link is external) in West Cork pleaded guilty yesterday to carrying out similar assaults on three other girls in the mid-1970s. John Calnan who is now living at The Presbytery, Roman St, Cork, was formally arrested and charged yesterday (Apr. 9) by Detective Garda Maurice Shanley.” By Liam Heylin, Irish Examiner

MEXICO

Mexican diocese apologizes for failing to stop abusive priest
“A Mexican diocese has apologized and asked for forgiveness for failing to stop a priest from sexually abusing Catholic school children(link is external). At the time, the priest had been banned from his priestly duties in a neighboring archdiocese. ‘As a church, we ask for forgiveness from the victims. … We manifest our commitment to always act truthfully and with justice and, as an institution, take preventive measures so that nothing similar ever happens again,’ the Diocese of Irapuato, in the western state of Guanajuato, said April 3 in a short statement.” By David Agren, Catholic News Service, in National Catholic Reporter

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As diocese prepares to pay victims, its primary source of money: parishioners / The Buffalo News

To compensate sex abuse victims, (Bishop Richard) Malone said the diocese will rely on insurance coverage, investment reserves and the possible sale of property, all of which trace back to the wallets and pocketbooks of people in the pews. (The Buffalo News)

Bishop Richard J. Malone assures donors that no gifts to Catholic Charities will be used to settle clergy sexual abuse claims.

But area Catholics – one way or another – are paying.

To compensate sex abuse victims, Malone said the diocese will rely on insurance coverage, investment reserves and the possible sale of property, all of which trace back to the wallets and pocketbooks of people in the pews.

The diocese’s self-insurance plan and its premiums for excess liability coverage are funded primarily by contributions from parishioners. Its investments grew out of parishioner gifts. And its buildings were constructed, purchased or donated thanks to the generosity of Catholic donors.

At most churches in the Buffalo Diocese, at least $20 of every $100 donated to an offertory collection goes directly to the diocese, according to a Buffalo News analysis of diocesan and parish annual financial statements. And for every $100 gift to the Catholic Charities appeal, about $35 goes into a fund controlled by the bishop.

By Jay Tokasz, The Buffalo News — Read more …

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Sex-abuse report looms over Catholic dioceses / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

But if the past is any indication, the investigation is likely to yield a report horrific in detail and blistering in its censure of church authorities who may have failed to protect victims as far back as the mid-20th century. (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)

Since July 2016, a grand jury seated in Pittsburgh has been quietly hearing testimony on alleged rape and sexual abuse of children by priests and others associated with the Roman Catholic Church.

The scope of the investigation spans seven decades and from one end of Pennsylvania to the other.

What is expected in the coming weeks is a report that could be the most comprehensive and geographically expansive official report ever produced in the United States on the enormity of the scandal.

The 40th Statewide Grand Jury had an 18-month term, extended by four months to the end of April, according to those familiar with its work.

Attorney General Josh Shapiro is refusing to confirm anything about the grand jury beyond the single indictment it has yielded so far — that of a Greensburg priest, the Rev. John Sweeney, who faces a June trial on a charge of sexually abusing a 10-year-old boy in the 1990s.

But if the past is any indication, the investigation is likely to yield a report horrific in detail and blistering in its censure of church authorities who may have failed to protect victims as far back as the mid-20th century.

By Peter Smith, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette — Read more …

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Francis admits ‘serious mistakes’ in handling of Chile abuse cases / National Catholic Reporter

“I have made serious mistakes in the assessment and my perception of the situation, especially due to a lack of truthful and balanced information,” Francis says in the letter. (National Catholic Reporter)

Pope Francis has admitted making ‘serious mistakes’ in his handling of clergy sexual abuse cases in Chile, telling the country’s bishops in a lengthy letter that he feels ‘pain and shame’ for the ‘crucified lives’ of those who suffered abuse.

“But Francis has not revealed whether he will sack a Chilean prelate accused of covering up abuse, whom he has previously defended to the outrage of abuse survivors. Instead, Francis has asked the country’s bishops to come to Rome en masse for a meeting at some point soon.

“In a letter released late April 11, Francis is reporting to the bishops about the mission of Maltese Archbishop Charles Scicluna, whom the pope sent to Chile in February to interview abuse victims and look into the case of Bishop Juan Barros Madrid.

“‘I have made serious mistakes in the assessment and my perception of the situation, especially due to a lack of truthful and balanced information,’ Francis says in the letter.

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

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French cardinal to stand trial in sex abuse cover-up / Associated Press

The seven defendants, including another archbishop and a bishop, would face up to three years in prison and a 45,000-euro ($53,000) fine if found guilty of failing to report the priest’s crimes. The penalty would be increased to up to five years in prison and a 75,000-euro ($88,000) fine for those convicted of failing to assist a person in danger. (Associated Press)

A French court has set a date in early 2019 for the criminal trial of a French cardinal and a high-ranking Vatican prelate suspected of covering up a child sex abuse scandal in the eastern diocese of Lyon.

Victims of a priest who has confessed to preying on them have summoned Cardinal Philippe Barbarin, archbishop of Lyon, Monsignor Luis Ladaria Ferrer, head of a powerful office in the Vatican, and five other Catholic Church officials to appear together in court for allegedly being informed of the priest’s past abuses and not reporting them to authorities.

A Lyon court on Wednesday set the trial to January 7-9. The lawsuit is the most prominent church sex abuse case to date in France.

Barbarin and some of the other defendants will also be tried for leaving the priest in contact with children until he retired in 2015, while knowing he had a history of sexual assaults.

The 67-year-old cardinal, one of the highest-ranking figures in the French Catholic Church, has admitted some “mistakes” in the management and nominations of certain priests but denied any attempt to cover up the case. Pope Francis has lent his support to Barbarin, saying he was a “brave” man.

By Philippe Sotto, Associated Press — Read more …

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Australian Catholics need to wake up / The Sydney Morning Herald

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

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

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

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

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

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