Posts Tagged Catholic dioceses

New York attorney general’s office has issued subpoenas to every Catholic diocese in the state / The Washington Post

As Catholics looked to their own leaders to follow Pennsylvania’s and now New York’s example — D.C. Attorney General Karl Racine, for one, has said that his phone has been ringing off the hook since the Pennsylvania report — some states have noted they have different laws than Pennsylvania. (The Washington Post)

“The New York attorney general’s office has issued subpoenas to every Catholic diocese in the state, becoming the latest U.S. state to embark on a major investigation of sex crimes committed and covered up by Catholic priests. And New Jersey quickly followed on Thursday (Sept. 6), announcing a criminal task force focused on investigating sexual abuse by Catholic clergy.

“A person familiar with the New York investigation said that the attorney general’s office sent civil subpoenas to the eight Catholic dioceses. The Associated Press first reported the subpoenas.

“The subpoenas are part of an ongoing civil investigation by the attorney general’s Charities Bureau, which is looking into whether the nonprofit dioceses covered up sexual abuse of minors. Separately, the criminal division is working with district attorneys in the state who might convene grand juries to investigate crimes committed by priests. On Thursday, Attorney General Barbara Underwood announced a telephone hotline and an online form for victims and witnesses of child abuse committed by clergy in the state of New York to contact investigators.”

By Julie Zauzmer and Mark Berman, The Washington Post — 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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Study ranks dioceses’ online financial transparency; Sacramento on top / National Catholic Reporter

Transparency in diocesan financial statements is a means to keep dioceses accountable while also encouraging donations, Margaret Roylance, a member of the Voice of the Faithful committee that put together the study, told NCR. (National Catholic Reporter)

Separated by a continent, the dioceses of Sacramento, California, and Camden, New Jersey, are also divided by degrees of financial transparency.

“Parishioners in Sacramento can find out where their donations go with the click of a button on the diocesan website. Those in the Diocese of Camden, which covers southern New Jersey, will have a more difficult time.

“That is a takeaway from a study on financial transparency undertaken recently by Voice of the Faithful, a church watchdog group. The study surveyed dioceses and archdioceses across the country, rating them from most transparent to most opaque. The study was based on how much financial information is accessible on diocesan websites.”

Peter Feuerherd, Naitonal Catholic Reporter — Read more …

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Voice of the Faithful applauds Boston Archdiocese’s program for helping secure parish donations against theft

Catholic Church reform movement Voice of the Faithful applauds the Archdiocese of Boston’s parish “Offertory Collection Controls Initiative,” which helps make sure Sunday donations make it to the bank. The pilot project was initiated in Brockton, Mass., in July. “It’s been a long time coming – more than 25 years by my counting,” said VOTF member Michael Ryan.

Ryan has been advocating at least that long for more secure practices for parish collections. He is a retired federal law enforcement official with experience in conducting financial audits and security. He also wrote Nonfeasance: the Remarkable Failure of the Catholic Church to Protect Its Primary Source of Income, which was published in 2011.

The Church’s Canon Law requires that administrators ‘exercise vigilance so that the goods entrusted to their care are in no way lost or damaged.’ (Canon 1284 §2)

“Despite Canon Law, easy opportunities for theft exist throughout the Church’s parishes and dioceses,” Ryan says. “Considering there are more than 17,000 parishes and nearly 200 dioceses in the U.S., you can see the potential enormity of the problem. The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops could end that nearly Conference-wide vulnerability by simple decree (under provisions of Canon 455), but for reasons best known only to them, they have steadfastly refused to do so.”

Statistics back up Ryan’s concern. A 2007 Villanova University study estimated that 85% of responding dioceses discovered losses and thefts within the previous five years. Eleven percent of these reported losses of more than $500,000. A 2014 University of Cincinnati study found that 64 percent of small businesses, which parishes resemble in size and number of employees, say they experience employee theft, but only 16 percent of them report it. And National Catholic Reporter said in a 2012 story that, “according to the most modest estimates, at least $89 million donated each year by the people never gets to the intended Catholic cause or recipient due to theft.”

Ryan has long contended that parish practices as simple and low-cost as using tally sheets, multiple counters and secure collection bags could significantly cut down on the possibility of theft from parish collections. These are exactly the practices the Archdiocese of Boston is now promulgating with its “Offertory Collection Controls Initiative.”

The initiative is explained in its “Offertory Collection Controls: Responsible Stewardship” video (https://player.vimeo.com/video/133384564?badge=0), in which Cardinal Sean O’Malley, archbishop of Boston, said, “We want to make sure that the whole process is safe and transparent so that all the people’s donations will be properly cared for and banked.” The archdiocese plans to implement its initiative at all parishes during the 2016 fiscal year.

VOTF already counts the Boston archdiocese as among the most financially transparent dioceses in the country. Ryan, an active member of VOTF’s Financial Accountability & Transparency Working Group, said he is hopeful Pope Francis’ renewed emphasis on financial accountability and transparency will be fully accepted and embraced by the USCCB and its members.

VOTF’s Financial Accountability & Transparency Working Group’s efforts can be reviewed at votf.org under Programs/Financial Accountability.

Voice of the Faithful®: Voice of the Faithful® is a worldwide movement of faithful Roman Catholics working to support survivors of clergy sexual abuse, support priests of integrity and increase the laity’s role in the governance and guidance of the Church. More information is at www.votf.org.

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Voice of the Faithful gratified by Connecticut Supreme Court ruling

Voice of the Faithful, a Roman Catholic Church reform movement, is gratified the Connecticut Supreme Court has upheld a superior court ruling finding the Archdiocese of Hartford “acted negligently and recklessly” in assigning a known pedophile priest as director of an elementary school where he abused Jacob Doe, the plaintiff in the case.

In the same ruling, the Connecticut Supreme Court rejected the Hartford archdiocese’s argument that the 2002 extension of the state’s statute of limitations for victims to file lawsuits against their abusers was unconstitutional.

In 2012, A Waterbury Superior Court jury had found the archdiocese negligent and reckless in allowing Rev. Ivan Ferguson to work with children in 1981 as director of St. Mary’s Elementary School in Derby after Ferguson had admitted child abuse in 1979.

Dioceses have repeatedly attempted to avoid their responsibilities for protecting children from abusive priests and have covered up their wrongdoing, but this ruling is an example that at least civil courts, if not yet ecclesial courts, will no longer tolerate such actions.

Voice of the Faithful: Voice of the Faithful is a worldwide movement of faithful Roman Catholics working to support survivors of clergy sexual abuse, support priests of integrity and increase the laity’s role in governance and guidance of the Church. More information is at www.votf.org.

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Bishops that Left Abuse Unreported Face Police / The Scotsman

Church officials have warned that Catholic dioceses and bishops who ignored complaints over alleged sexual abuse by priests will be reported to police for prosecution. Complaints of clerical sexual abuse stretching back almost 70 years are the subject of a review by the Catholic Church in Scotland, which insists any serious complaint since 1947 must be passed on to the police even if both alleged victim and priest are dead.”

By Stephen McGinty, The Scotsman — Click here to read the rest of this story.

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Additional Vatican Synod Survey Reports Tell Similar Stories / National Catholic Reporter

In the month since NCR published a story about the efforts of some Catholic dioceses to ascertain the thoughts of lay Catholics on a variety of issues related to the family, readers and diocesan officials have reached out to say that they, too, took part in the historic consultation with laity.” By Michael O’Loughlin, National Catholic Reporter — Click here to read the rest of this story

National Catholic Reporter also has posted charts showing how individual U.S. dioceses have responded to the Vatican’s questionnaire for the Synod on the Family. Click here to see these charts.

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