Posts Tagged clergy sexual abuse

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Voice of the Faithful “Focus” News Roundup


TOP STORIES

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

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

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

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

ACCOUNTABILITY

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

POPE FRANCIS

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

BISHOPS

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

CELIBACY

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

PRIESTS

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

WOMEN IN THE CHURCH

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

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

FUTURE OF THE CHURCH

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

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

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

“AMORIS LAETITIA”

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

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

VOICES

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

CHURCH FINANCES

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

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

STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS REFORM

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

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

CLERGY CHILD SEXUAL ABUSE

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

CALIFORNIA

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

MINNESOTA

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

NEW MEXICO

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

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

NEW YORK

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

OHIO

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

PENNSYLVANIA

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

WASHINGTON

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

AUSTRALIA

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

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

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

GUAM

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

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

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

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

IRELAND & NORTHERN IRELAND

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Stolen Childhoods / The Philadelphia Inquirer

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

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

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

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

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

By Maria Panaritis, The Philadelphia Inquirer — Read more …

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Voice of the Faithful “Focus” News Roundup


TOP STORIES

Listen to families on ‘Amoris Laetitia,’ bishops and theologians say
“While much of the debate over ‘Amoris Laetitia,’ the controversial 2016 document from Pope Francis about pastoral outreach to families, has focused on the question of Communion for divorced and remarried Catholics, more than three dozen cardinals, bishops and lay theologians gathered at Boston College(link is external) this week (Oct. 6) to explore the broader implications of the letter—and to strategize ways to promote it in the United States.” By Michael J. O’Loughlin, America: The Jesuit Review
— Conference weighs how ‘Amoris Laetitia’ rejects ‘infantilization of the laity(link is external)By Joshua J. McElwee, National Catholic Reporter
— ‘Amoris Laetitia’ conference signals big changes, highlights problems left(link is external)By Michael Sean Winters, National Catholic Reporter
— National Catholic Reporter ‘Amoris Laetitia’ Feature Series(link is external)

Top Vatican official says ‘tragic experience’ on sex abuse helps Church lead
“At the opening session of a major conference at Rome’s Jesuit-run Gregorian University on the protection of children in a digital world, the Vatican’s number two official, Italian Cardinal Pietro Parolin, said the Catholic Church’s ‘tragic experience’ with clerical sexual abuse(link is external) allows it to be a leader in the fight against child abuse in other arenas.” By Ines San Martin, Cruxnow.com

Canadian bishops won’t publish new policy on minor protection till 2018
“In June 1992, the Canadian bishops published a report entitled ‘From Pain to Hope,’ entirely devoted to sexual assaults by the clergy(link is external). The bishops proposed ‘ways and means both to eliminate in the church the after-effects of past scandals and to prevent new cases of aggression against children.’ The adoption by the Vatican of new standards for the protection of children made it necessary to revise the standards and policies of the bishops’ conference.” By Francois Gloutnay, Cruxnow.com

Expert says Vatican botched response to child porn suspicions about envoy
“German Jesuit Father Hans Zollner, who leads a child protection center at a Roman university and serves on a papal commission advising Francis on reform, says the Vatican should have been more transparent(link is external) about recent reports that an envoy at the papal embassy in Washington, D.C., is part of an investigation for possible involvement in child pornography, seeing it as part of an going struggle to be more ‘up-front.’” By John L. Allen, Jr., and Clair Giangrave, Cruxnow.com
— Vatican needs boots on the ground to promote child safety, expert says(link is external)By John L. Allen, Jr., Cruxnow.com

How can we protect children from abuse online? A congress in Rome will seek solutions
“A pioneering international congress on the risks and challenges to children in the digital world and how to protect them from online sexual abuse(link is external) will be hosted by the Jesuit-run Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome, from Oct. 3 to 6. ‘Child Dignity in the Digital World’ is the first congress of its kind and ‘opens a whole new scenario,’ said Hans Zollner, S.J., the president of the child protection center at the Gregorian, at a press briefing in the Vatican.” By Gerard O’Connell, America: The Jesuit Review
— Vatican urges online protections for children(link is external)By Nicole Winfield, Associated Press, in San Jose Mercury News

ACCOUNTABILITY

Australian bishops meet in Rome as Church reels from recent crisis
“Last week, Church leaders from Australia traveled to Rome to meet with Vatican authorities to discuss the various crises Catholics in the country are currently undergoing, largely tied to a history of clerical sex abuse(link is external). According to an Oct. 7 communique from the Vatican, the leadership of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference traveled to Rome last week to meet with officials from the Vatican’s Secretariat of State and other relevant offices of the Holy See ‘for a wide-ranging discussion concerning the situation of the Catholic Church in Australia at this time.’” By Elise Harris, Catholic News Agency

Vatican shines light on child abuse as claims against priests persist
“For a church hierarchy excoriated for decades over the sexual abuse of children(link is external) in its trust, hosting a conference this week (Oct. 3-6) about the spreading scourge of online child pornography was an opportunity to strike a positive note about the Vatican’s role in protecting minors. ‘Yes, yes, yes,’ said Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the Vatican’s secretary of state, when asked Tuesday (Oct. 3) night at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome if the Catholic Church could lead a global response to the problem.” By Jason Horowitz, The New York Times

Guam’s day of reckoning after decades of sex abuse
“The river looks completely different from that day 46 years ago when B.J. says he was raped repeatedly by Fr. Louis Brouillard(link is external), a priest and then-Boy Scout leader. B.J. was only 11 years old, and remembers the water was calm. The trees weren’t pressed so hard against the water’s edge … The magnitude of the (clergy sex abuse) claims is staggering. According to a recent USA Today analysis, Guam, with a population of only about 160,000, has a per-capita rate of abuse claims more than five times higher than in Boston.” By Anita Hofschneider, Honolulu Civil Beat, National Catholic Reporter

Church more aware of crime, harm of child abuse, top Vatican official says
“‘We must work to take control of the development of the digital world(link is external), so that it might be at the service of the dignity of minors,’ Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the Vatican Secretary of State, said in his keynote address at the opening of ‘Child Dignity in the Digital World,’ the first world congress focused on addressing the dangers children and adolescents face on the internet.” By Gerard O’Connell, America: The Jesuit Review

PONTIFICAL COMMISSION FOR THE PROTECTION OF MINORS

Fr. Zollner on PCPM achievements, goals and lessons learned
“The Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors concluded its 4-day Plenary Assembly on Sunday (Sept. 24), with a renewed commitment to its mandate(link is external) as an advisory body to the Holy Father for the protection of minors. In an interview with Vatican Radio, Commission member Father Hans Zollner spoke of the key areas of focus during the plenary and of the lessons learnt during the past three years of work. He also spoke of the encouragement expressed by Pope Francis during a private audience at the start of the Plenary, and of his ongoing support since the Commission was established.” By Vatican Radio

MASS TRANSLATIONS

German-speaking bishops move to take full control over liturgical translations
“Cardinal Reinhard Marx says ‘Liturgiam authenticam,’ the rules for translation the Vatican issued in 2001(link is external), was a ‘dead end.’ But thanks to a recent decision by the pope the bishops now have greater freedom.” By Christa Pongratz-Lippitt, La Croix International

POPE FRANCIS

Canon law must serve Vatican II vision of the church, Pope says
“Pope Francis says the Church’s law must always be perfected to better serve the church’s mission and the daily lives of the faithful(link is external). Canon law, he said, can and should be an instrument for implementing the vision of the Second Vatican Council.” By Cindy Wooden, Catholic News Service, on Cruxnow.com

Child safety summit reflects Pope’s ‘extraordinary’ power to convene
“Look around at the lineup at an Oct. 3-6 summit at Rome’s Gregorian University on ‘Child Dignity in the Digital World,’ and it’s a host of experts from the biggest outfits in their various fields — Harvard, Interpol, Facebook, UNICEF, Microsoft, and so on. It’s the cream of the crop, and it’s another illustration of the Vatican’s unique power to convene(link is external), since basically nobody can say no to an invite from the pope.” By John L. Allen, Jr., Cruxnow.com

Amid avalanche, real questions about the papacy risk being obscured
“In the last few days, Pope Francis has faced three remarkable accusations(link is external) — one of suffering from narcissistic personality disorder, another of heresy, and a third of dropping the ball on financial reform of the Vatican. In trying to sort through it all, one towering problem is that in an environment defined by hysteria, separating legitimate criticism from the same-old, same-old is increasingly difficult.” By John L. Allen, Jr., Cruxnow.com

CARDINALS

Pope names Cardinal Burke a judge on Vatican supreme court
“Pope Francis has named U.S. Cardinal Raymond L. Burke a member of the Apostolic Signature(link is external), the church’s supreme court, which the cardinal headed as prefect from 2008 to 2014.mMembers of the Apostolic Signature serve as judges in the cases, which mainly involve appeals of lower-court decisions or of administrative decisions by other offices of the Holy See.” By Cindy Wooden, Catholic News Service, in The Pilot

Cardinal Dolan: Church needs to be transparent, honest about its flaws
“New York Cardinal Timothy Dolan suggested to more than 400 priests of the state of Louisiana that humbly and openly sharing the ‘wounds’ and shortcomings of the church might bring those who are alienated back to the practice of the faith. Using the image of the church as ‘our supernatural family, which we, as priests, are called to image,’ Cardinal Dolan told the opening session of the three-day Louisiana Priests’ Convention Sept. 19 that human weakness has been a part of the church from the beginning(link is external).” By Jonelle Fotz, Clarion Herald

Despite wing-clipping, Sarah not going quiet in defense of tradition
“Although Cardinal Robert Sarah of Guinea arguably just had his wings clipped(link is external), as Pope Francis recently transferred a share of his Vatican department’s control over translating liturgical texts to local bishops, a major address he gave on Thursday (Sept. 14) suggests that if anyone expects Sarah to go quiet, they can forget it — and equally, if anyone expects him to go to war against the boss, they can forget that too.” By John L. Allen, Jr., Cruxnow.com

BISHOPS

Bishop Kicanas of Tucson retires; pope names Kansas bishop his successor
“Pope Francis has accepted the resignation of Bishop Gerald F. Kicanas of Tucson(link is external), Arizona, and named as his successor Bishop Edward J. Weisenburger, who has headed the Diocese of Salina, Kansas, since 2012. Bishop Kicanas, former vice president and former secretary of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, has headed the Diocese of Tucson since 2003. He is 76. Canon law requires bishops to turn in their resignation when they reach age 75.” By Catholic News Service

PRIESTS

I became a priest 50 years ago. Here’s how the perception of priesthood has changed
“Both of us (Robert Collins and the author Roger Haight, who were seminarians together) have had the privilege of living across the canyon of an epochal change in the image of a Catholic priest in North America(link is external). Since we are celebrating 50 years of priestly ministry I think I should risk a comment on how I, at least, have experienced changes in the perception of a Catholic priest. I will propose a thesis from my experience that others can react to on the basis of their own. I mean it as applied to Jesuit priesthood rather than diocesan.” By Roger Haught, S.J., America: The Jesuit Review

WOMEN RELIGIOUS

Sister Simone Campbell: The dangers of becoming a “celebrity nun”
“I was asked if I had a favorite mistake. I think I am making it right now. In my roles as the director of NETWORK Lobby for Catholic Social Justice and the leader of NETWORK’s Nuns on the Bus campaign, two groups that advocate for social justice, I seek to influence lawmakers. Having influence means we can protect the safety net(link is external) that so many Americans rely on; it means protecting immigrants caught up in an unjust system. It also means notoriety …” By Simone Campbell, S.S.S., America: The Jesuit Review

WOMEN IN THE CHURCH

Vatican official condemns discrimination against women
“The need to recognize women as having equal worth as men(link is external) and allow them to fully exercise their human rights is increasingly urgent due to the ‘resurgence of divisions in today’s world,’ a top Vatican official told the U.N. Human Rights Council in Geneva.” By Matthew Fowler, Catholic News Service

FUTURE OF THE CHURCH

El Paso parish’s ministries awaken missionary community
“One of the largest and youngest parishes in the El Paso Diocese, St. Mark Catholic Church, mirrors the rest of the city(link is external) in Texas: 85 percent Hispanic, largely bilingual, and home to mainly Mexican-Americans with ties across the border in Juárez, Mexico. Just outside the church is a 30-foot statue of Our Lady of Guadalupe, which came from Guadalajara, Mexico, and is surrounded by a towering wall and waterfall. Inside the church is the ‘Missionary Jesus’ statue, draped in a thin quilt with fabric from various countries. At Sunday’s 12:30 p.m. Mass in August, children with maracas led the procession.” By Soli Salgado, National Catholic Reporter

Catholic community life on the wane?
“Volunteer fire departments, bowling leagues and fraternal orders live on in much the same way the American elm has: Once a feature of the American landscape, their presence is increasingly vanishing — with important ramifications for the Church in the United States. Social scientists have been calling attention to the weakening of American community life(link is external) for more than a decade, and a new research group in the U.S. Senate, called the Social Capital Project, has been established to investigate the causes of that decline.” By Nicholas Wolfram Smith, National Catholic Register

Pittsburgh plan would consolidate 188 parishes into 48 groups
“There will be grief, but a new, more effective church outreach will emerge out of a massive planned consolidation(link is external) in the Pittsburgh Diocese, diocesan spokesman Bob DeWitt told NCR. He spoke after a diocesan planning commission, which includes DeWitt, recommended to Bishop David Zubik that the diocese arrange its 188 current parishes into 48 groups. The plan now goes to the bishop for a decision, which will take place after Easter 2018, with implementation to begin in the fall of that year … No diocese has undertaken such a massive change.” By Peter Feuerherd, National Catholic Reporter

“AMORIS LAETITIA”

‘Amoris Laetitia’ controversy predates the document itself
“The controversy surrounding Amoris Laetitia(link is external) (‘The Joy of Love’) began even before the document was issued, even before the two synods that discussed the issues surrounding marriage and the family, discussions that served as the basis for Amoris Laetitia.” By Michael Sean Winters, National Catholic Reporter

Bishops, theologians gather to consider U.S. implementation of ‘Amoris Laetitia’
“Pope Francis’ apostolic exhortation on family life, Amoris Laetitia, is perhaps the most hotly debated Catholic church document since Humanae Vitae(link is external), Pope Paul VI’s 1968 encyclical letter that reaffirmed the church’s ban on birth control … In five panel discussions over two days Oct. 5-6, two cardinals, 12 bishops, and 24 other invited participants are set to discuss what organizers are calling the ‘new momentum’ Amoris Laetitia gives local bishops to renew their pastoral practices toward families.” By Joshua J. McElwee, National Catholic Reporter

Pope Francis: Engaging with people’s real lives does not ‘bastardize’ theology
“Seeing, understanding and engaging with people’s real lives does not ‘bastardize’ theology, rather it is what is needed to guide people toward God, Pope Francis told Jesuits in Colombia. ‘The theology of Jesus was the most real thing of all(link is external); it began with reality and rose up to the Father,’ he said during a private audience Sept. 10 in Cartagena, Colombia. The Rome-based Jesuit-run journal, La Civilta Cattolica, published a transcript from the meeting Sept. 28. The journal provided its own translations of the original Spanish remarks.” By Carol Glatz, Catholic News Service

VOICES

Open to opposition
The heat that a group of conservative academics generated by publicly accusing Pope Francis of heresy(link is external) this summer in a letter they released September 23 is warming up the Catholic environment for dissent. And in the end, the pope’s patience with critics like these could do a lot to reform the culture of the church. It is one more way Francis is sculpting the church that the Second Vatican Council envisioned … The conservative academics have posted to the web a carefully defined basis for their dissent … Voice of the Faithful has relied on the same canon law to buttress its right to question church authorities (in a much milder way). By Paul Moses, Commonweal

Kick-starting a new Catholic conversation
“The sorry state of the Catholic conversation about same-sex love prompts us to make a constructive proposal. If we have any hope of moving the discussion in a justice-seeking direction, we need a new approach to the problems of homohatred(link is external) and heterosexism that begins not with church teaching but with real people’s lives. Rehashing old arguments on the morality of sexual activity, about which there is substantial and deeply hurtful disagreement, is useless.” By Mary E. Hunt, Marianne Duddy-Burke, and Jamie Manson, National Catholic Reporter

NCR Editorial: Stop censoring, have a civil discussion
“In September, NCR and GSR have reported on three tales of Catholic thinkers censored — Jesuit Fr. James Martin; Boston College theology professor M. Shawn Copeland; and Rebecca Bratten Weiss, co-founder of the New Pro-Life Movement. The excruciating irony of these tales begins with the fact that it no longer requires an edict from the Holy Office or a word of disapproval from the local bishop to silence thought(link is external) and to pronounce someone persona non grata … It no longer takes the time it once did for tiny minorities to derail careers by slandering anyone who asks inconvenient questions.” By National Catholic Reporter Editorial Staff

Five things Hollywood could learn from the Catholic Church after Harvey Weinstein
“Living in Los Angeles and watching the cascade of horror that is the unraveling story of Hollywood uber-exec Harvey Weinstein and his abuses of women, I have had a strange sense of déjà vu. I was a seminarian studying for the priesthood in Boston in January 2002(link is external) when The Boston Globe began publishing its astonishing series of articles on child sexual abuse in the Catholic Church … I suspect the Weinstein story, too, is just the beginning of a much larger set of revelations about abuse and power in the entertainment industry. And 15 years into the Catholic crisis, having witnessed the choices the institutional church has made (some of them disastrous), I suspect there are things that Hollywood could learn from that experience right now. Here are five that come immediately to mind.” By Jim McDermott, America: The Jesuit Review

CHURCH FINANCES

Vatican bank launches legal action in Malta over major investment loss
“Launching the legal action demonstrates the bank’s desire ‘to accept responsibility for abuses in the past(link is external),’ he (Greg Burke, Vatican spokesman) said. According to the written communique, such a move also reflects the bank’s ‘commitment, in the interest of transparency, to report to the competent authorities any potential abuses perpetrated against it and to take, as in this instance, any appropriate action to protect its financial and reputational interests, including outside of the Vatican City State.’ By Carol Glatz, Catholic News Service, on CatholicPhilly.com

Vatican trial finds ‘opaqueness,’ ‘disorder’ in handling of papal finances
“In the latest session of a Vatican trial concerning the misappropriation of funds(link is external) from a papally-sponsored hospital to remodel a large Vatican apartment, the prosecution asked that the former president of the hospital, layman Giuseppe Profiti, be charged with three years imprisonment and pointed to a profound “opaqueness” and “disorder” in the handling of papal finances.” By Claire Giangrave, Cruxnow.com

Catholic priest sentenced for embezzling $1.4 million
“As a priest for the Diocese of San Jose, 57-year-old Hien Minh Nguyen funneled more than $1.4 million in church donations into his bank accounts(link is external) over a five-year period, but the princely sum sat mostly untouched, according to court records. Tensions that Nguyen believed existed between the Vietnamese Catholic community in San Jose and the Diocese reportedly were what drove his criminal conduct. He believed that he could make better use of the money for his parishioners than the Diocese. Whatever his motivations were, Nguyen now faces time behind bars.” By Jason Green, The Mercury News
— Catholic priest sentenced to three years in prison for stealing(link is external)By Associated Press in U.S. News & World Report

Testimony at Vatican trial shows cardinal ha hand-on role
“Italian businessman Gianantonio Bandera told a Vatican court on Monday (Oct. 2) that Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, the former Secretary of State under Pope emeritus Benedict XVI, played a hands-on role in making the arrangements(link is external) for remodeling his Vatican apartment that ultimately led to criminal charges. Bertone is not charged in the case, and was never considered a suspect.” By John L. Allen, Jr., Cruxnow.com

CLERGY CHILD SEXUAL ABUSE

Four-week court hearing for Cardinal Pell
“As many as 50 witnesses will give evidence during a hearing that will determine if Cardinal George Pell stands trial on historical sexual offence charges(link is external). The highest-ranking Catholic official to be charged with sexual abuse has appeared in court for the second time, again for a brief administrative hearing in the Melbourne Magistrates Court. The case will return to the same court for a four-week committal hearing beginning on March 5.” By Australian Associated Press on sbs.com.au

Jeff Anderson’s firm to fund law school’s Zero Abuse Project
“A $2 million gift from a leading firm in sexual abuse litigation seeks to turn a Minnesota law school into a national training and resource center(link is external) for child abuse prevention and response. The donation, from the firm Jeff Anderson and Associates, will create at the Mitchell Hamline School of Law in St. Paul, Minnesota, what is called the Zero Abuse Project. The effort will educate and train lawyers and other professionals in the skills necessary to recognize signs of child abuse, how to better work with people who have experienced such trauma, and ultimately how to advocate for an end to child abuse through courtroom litigation and legal reform.” By Brian Roewe, National Catholic Reporter

Barbara Blaine spoke truth to power
“Although she had already climbed mountains for the victims of child sex abuse, Barbara Blaine, founder of SNAP, passed away(link is external) before she had achieved all that she could. Since the 1980s, her sights had been set on ending child sex abuse in the United States Catholic Church. Even before SNAP, her mission was to help the vulnerable, whether they were the homeless or the abused. She stepped down as president of SNAP earlier this year to head the Accountability Project, which would have expanded her focus to the globe. I have no doubt it, too, would have changed the world.” By Marci A. Hamiltion, Verdict.Justia.com

ILLINOIS

$50M suit filed against ‘sexually violent’ ex-priest Daniel McCormack
“A lawsuit filed Thursday (Oct. 5) in Cook County Circuit Court seeks more than $50 million in damages from convicted child molester and defrocked priest Daniel McCormack(link is external)and the Archdiocese of Chicago. The plaintiff, identified only as John Doe, developed a trust relationship’ with McCormack while playing on a basketball team the pastor coached at St. Ailbe School, according to the suit.” By Chicago Sun-Times

KENTUCKY

Several priests in prison for child sex abuse still being paid by Louisville Catholic Church
“They stand convicted of committing terrible sins, but pedophile priests are still being paid by the Catholic church(link is external) in Louisville. ‘I think it’s absurd,’ Michael Norris said. ‘I just don’t understand it.’ Norris is one of Fr. Joseph Hemmerle’s victims, molested at age 11 at camp Tall Trees in Meade County in the 1970’s.” By Gil Corsey, WDRB-TV
— Convicted priests still getting pensions and medical benefits(link is external)By Connie Leonard, WAVE-TV News

MINNESOTA

Minnesota diocese settles in lawsuit against Bishop Hoeppner
“The Diocese of Crookston, Minnesota, has settled one part of a lawsuit brought by a deacon candidate who accused his bishop of coercing him into silence about alleged sexual abuse(link is external) by a past vicar general. The rural northwestern Minnesota diocese announced Sept. 20 that a settlement had been reached on charges brought by Ronald Vasek against Bishop Michael Hoeppner. In May, Vasek sued Hoeppner on counts of coercion and intentional infliction of emotional distress, in addition to bringing negligence and public nuisance claims against the diocese.” By Brian Roewe, National Catholic Reporter

MISSOURI

St. Louis priest settles part of civil suit against accuser and clergy abuse survivor’s group
“A Roman Catholic priest has settled part of a federal lawsuit he filed against the mother of a boy who accused him of abuse(link is external), the group that supported the accuser and police, court filings Tuesday (Oct. 10) say. In a filing in U.S. District Court in St. Louis, a lawyer for the Rev. Xiu Hui ‘Joseph’ Jiang wrote that the case had been settled with Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, or SNAP, and SNAP officials, and that Jiang and the mother of his former accuser had ‘reached an agreement in principle.’” By Robert Patrick, St. Louis Post-Dispatch

MONTANA

Judge orders Montana Catholic diocese to update court settlement plan
“A U.S. bankruptcy judge last week (Sept. 29) ordered a hearing intended to map out the remaining settlement proceedings(link is external) between the Great Falls-Billings Diocese and the 86 victims claiming they were abused by eastern Montana priests through the 1900s.” By Seaborn Larson, Great Falls Tribune

NEW JERSEY

Judge finds probable cause to charge priest with sex assault
“A hearing has found probable cause for the filing of charges against a Catholic priest accused of sexually assaulting a young parishioner(link is external) two decades ago. Probable cause was found for charges of first-degree aggravated sexual assault and second-degree sexual assault against the Rev. Michael ‘Mitch’ Walters on Wednesday (Sept. 27), according to an official with the Guttenberg court. The case was then transferred from the municipal court up to the Hudson County Superior Court.” By Justin Zaremba, NJ.com

NEW MEXICO

Dark Canyon: Trust and Betrayal in the Northern New Mexico Church
“For the second feature-length installment of our series, our reporters go to Northern New Mexico where Catholicism has been a central part of life for centuries, since the Spanish conquest of New Mexico. The list of 74 credibly accused priests, brothers and deacons(link is external) released by the Archbishop last month names more than a dozen priests who served the parishes in the Taos area.” By Ellen Berkovitch, Rita Daniels and Hannah Colton, KSFR-FM, Santa Fe Public Radio

NEW YORK

Number of women accusing Catholic priest of sexual abuse rises to 23
“The number of women alleging they were abused as children by a Catholic priest(link is external) in Queens has swelled to 23, the Daily News has learned. The accusers of former Rev. Adam Prochaski, ranging in age from 39 to 57, say the priest abused them in the Holy Cross parish in Maspeth between 1972 and 1994. The women were between 11 to 16 years old when the abuse allegedly took place.” By Graham Rayman, New York Daily News
— Number of abuse allegations against Queens priest are growing(link is external)By CBS News, New York
— 23 women accuse former queens priest of abusing them as children,(link is external) By Sharon Otterman, The New York Times

NYPD opens investigation into Catholic priest sex abuse claims
“Prosecutors and the NYPD have opened an investigation into allegations that a Catholic priest sexually abused 15 victims(link is external) decades ago at a parish school, officials said. The Queens District Attorney’s office and the NYPD’s Special Victims squad are looking into the allegations made public Tuesday (Sept. 26) by the 15 women against former Rev. Adam Prochaski, who once worked at Holy Cross School in Maspeth, police officials said.” By Esha Ray and Graham Rayman, New York Daily News

ARGENTINA

Catholic Church struggles to erase stain of child sex abuse
“Pope Francis admits the Church has not done enough to tackle the abhorent acts commited by some members of the clergy(link is external). The Vatican and the Argentine Synod say they are taking steps to tackle the problem. But survivors, victims and experts warn that some inside the Church are resistant to change and that many cases still go unreported.” By Santiago del Carril, Buenos Aires Times

AUSTRALIA

Australian church facing biggest crisis in its history, says Brisbane archbishop
“The archbishop said the Church had been ‘shaken to the core’ by the abuse scandal(link is external)and today was being called to a ‘greater authenticity.’ A leading Australian bishop says the Church in his country is facing the biggest crisis in its history after taking part in talks with the Vatican over how to address the problem. The Archbishop of Brisbane, Mark Coleridge, who is Vice President of the Australian Bishops’ Conference, told The Tablet that he and fellow bishops were in Rome to discuss the fallout of the clerical sexual abuse crisis, and how the Church will adopt a new approach.” By Christopher Lamb, The Tablet

Attacks on the credibility of abuse survivors not justified by research
“For a quarter of a century, the concept of ‘false memories’ has provided a scientific fig leaf for skeptics of child sexual abuse allegations(link is external) … However, for those uncomfortable with the social and legal reforms required to address child sexual abuse, the idea that large numbers of allegations are the product of ‘false memories’ remains attractive. This argument underpins recent reporting in the Australian, which has called into question the findings of the royal commission into institutional responses to child sexual abuse, on the basis that sexual abuse survivor testimony cannot be trusted.” By Michael Salter, The Guardian

‘Prevention is crucial’ in safeguarding children
“Working together to protect children and create child safe cultures(link is external) was the focus of a workshop hosted by the Australian Catholic University (ACU) in Melbourne yesterday (Sept. 27), Melbourne Catholic reports. The ‘Safeguarding children: Leading change’ workshop was for those involved in child protection, and provided thought leadership on how to prevent child abuse in a proactive manner.” By CathNews.com

CANADA

Catholic priest wanted for alleged child porn offenses committed in Windsor church
“A Canada-wide warrant has been issued for a high-ranking Vatican diplomat who police believe committed child pornography offences at a Windsor church(link is external) during the Christmas holidays. Monsignor Carlo Capella, 50, is wanted for accessing, possessing and distributing child pornography, according to Windsor police. ‘The Diocese of London confirms that it was asked to, and did, assist in an investigation around suspicions involving Msgr. Capella’s possible violations of child pornography laws by using a computer address at a local Church,’ wrote spokesperson Nelson Couto in a media release.” By Dan Taekema, CBC News
— Canadian police seek recalled Vatican envoy for child porn(link is external)By Nicole Winfield and Rachel Zoll, Associated Press, in Akron Beacon Journal

GREAT BRITAIN, SCOTLAND & WALES

Roman Catholic priest absconds with Vatican funds after sexual abuse accusation
“A Roman Catholic priest withdrew £182,000 from his Vatican bank account and went on the run in Albania after he was accused of sexually abusing schoolchildren(link is external) in the 1970s and 1980s, a court heard.” By Abe Hawken, Daily Mail

London priest ‘sex abuse victim’ had ‘nightmares’
“Laurence Soper, 74, the abbot of Ealing Abbey from 1991-2000, was headmaster and senior priest at St Benedict’s School in Ealing, west London. He is on trial at the Old Bailey where he denies 19 charges of child sex abuse against 10 boys(link is external) between 1970 and 1980. The boys allege they were subjected to sexual touching and beaten with a cane. The witness told the court he would get “flashbacks” and “nightmares” about Mr Soper.” By BBC News

GUAM

Lawsuit: Abuse occurred in 2006
“A 23-year-old former altar boy is the latest victim to come forward alleging he was sexually abused by a Capuchin brother(link is external) assigned to the Agana Heights parish in 2006. J.C.M.P., who used initials to protect his identity, filed a lawsuit against the Archdiocese of Agana, the Capuchin Friars and Vernon Kamiaz.” By Mindy Aguon, The Guam Daily Post

Second boy claims priest brought him to Minnesota for sex abuse
Four new clergy sex abuse lawsuits(link is external) were filed in local and federal court, including one by a second former altar boy who said priest Louis Brouillard paid for his summer trip to Minnesota and sexually abused and molested him. The lawsuit states that Brouillard forced the boy to engage in sexual activity with another boy during the trip.” By Haidee Eugenio, Pacific Daily News
— Lawsuits: Brouillard took advantage of ‘childhood an innocence(link is external),’ By Mindy Aguon, The Guam Daily Pose

Boy sexually abused daily while living with priest
“A 14-year-old boy whose parents thought it would be best for him to live with a Catholic priest after he ran away from home was sexually abused daily by the priest(link is external) for about two weeks, according to a lawsuit filed in local court on Thursday (Oct. 5).” By Haidee Eugenio, Pacific Daily News

ITALY

Police capture ex-priest who fled while serving sex abuse sentence
“An ex-Catholic priest serving a 14-year sentence for sexual abuse of seven minors(link is external) in Rome, and who had been given permission to receive treatment for a health condition in a nearby clinic, surreptitiously left last week and hailed a taxi, escaping detection. On Thursday, police caught up to him in Milan’s San Raffaele hospital and placed him in custody. Now, he’ll have to serve the remaining 11 years behind bars.” By Cruxnow.com Staff

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Australian church facing biggest crisis in its history, says Brisbane archbishop / The Tablet

High on the agenda at the Vatican summit was Australia’s Royal Commission inquiry into how institutions handled child sexual abuse. This has seen the Catholic Church facing unrelenting criticism for its response to the scandal. (The Tablet)

A leading Australian bishop says the Church in his country is facing the biggest crisis in its history after taking part in talks with the Vatican over how to address the problem. 

“The Archbishop of Brisbane, Mark Coleridge, who is Vice President of the Australian Bishops’ Conference, told The Tablet that he and fellow bishops were in Rome to discuss the fallout of the clerical sexual abuse crisis, and how the Church will adopt a new approach. This, he says, will look at how to include women in positions of ‘governance.’  

“High on the agenda at the Vatican summit was Australia’s Royal Commission inquiry into how institutions handled child sexual abuse. This has seen the Catholic Church facing unrelenting criticism for its response to the scandal. The problem has been magnified after the Australian police’s decision to charge Cardinal George Pell, the Vatican treasurer and former Archbishop of Sydney, with historic sexual offences.”

By Christopher Lamb, The Tablet — Read more … 

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Voice of the Faithful Focus News Roundup, Sept. 29, 2017


TOP STORIES

Pope admits Catholic Church waited too long to respond to clergy abuse crisis
“Pope Francis has admitted that the Catholic Church waited too long(link is external) before taking reports of clergy sexual abuse seriously, suggesting that the former practice of moving priests accused of abuse to new ministries instead of reporting them to authorities kept the church numb to the scope of the situation … The pontiff also called ‘prophetic’ the men and women who urged the church for decades to face the problem.” By Joshua J. McElwee, National Catholic Reporter
— Pope admits church realized sex abuse problem ‘a bit late(link is external),’ By Stefano Pitrelli, Washington Post, in The Boston Globe
— Abuse survivor calls for more accountability after Pope Francis promises ‘zero tolerance(link is external).’ By Claire Giangrave, Cruxnow.com

University report lifts the lid on child sexual abuse in the Catholic Church
“The most comprehensive report ever published(link is external) on the systemic reasons behind child sexual abuse in the Catholic Church has recently been released. The August 2017 report … examined 26 commissions of inquiry, scientific research and literature since 1985 to find common features in the culture, history and structures of the church and the psychological, social and theological factors that contributed to the tragedy. The report, five years in the making, comes from a research team at the Centre for Global Research at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT) University headed by Desmond Cahill and Peter Wilkinson.” By Kieran Tapsell, National Catholic Reporter
— Catholic sexual abuse partly caused by secrecy and mandatory celibacyBy Melissa Davey, The Guardian

‘Magnum Principium’ is the latest event in the ‘liturgy wars’
(Part of NCR Magnum Principium Feature Series)
“Pope Francis’ Sept. 9 announcement that he was decentralizing the Vatican’s authority over translations of liturgical texts, turning that duty back over to local bishops, created quite a buzz in Catholic circles(link is external) because, for some, it capped a story that spans more than 50 years. It is the story of the ‘liturgy wars.’” By James Dearie, Dennis Coday, National Catholic Reporter
— Magnum Principium Feature Series(link is external), By National Catholic Reporter
— Apostolic Letter in the form of Motu Proprio “Magnum Principium(link is external)” Quibus nonulla in can. 838 Codicis Iuris Canonici immutantur, 09.09.2017

Official at Vatican embassy to United States removed over child porn allegations
“The Vatican has confirmed a priest serving at the Holy See embassy to the United States has been recalled to Rome after receiving information he had violated child pornography laws(link is external). The priest is now being investigated by the Vatican’s Promoter of Justice.” By Charles Collins, Cruxnow.com
— Vatican diplomat recalled amid child porn investigation(link is external)By Nicole Winfield and Matthew Lee, Associated Press
— Vatican diplomat to the U.S. recalled amid child pornography investigation,(link is external) By Gerard O’Connell, Associated Press, in America: The Jesuit Review
— Vatican diplomat recalled from U.S. during child-porn investigation(link is external)By Cindy Wooden, Catholic News Service, in National Catholic Reporter

ACCOUNTABILITY

French cardinal ordered to stand trial over cover-up
“French Cardinal Philippe Barbarin and a senior Vatican official were ordered on Tuesday (Sept. 19) to stand trial for allegedly covering up for a pedophile priest(link is external) accused of abusing several boy scouts in Lyon in the 1980s, Yahoo7 News reports. The most senior French Catholic official to be tried for failing to report a pedophile priest will go on trial on April 4 next year along with six co-defendants, a court in Lyon said. Cardinal Barbarin, who is Archbishop of Lyon, is accused of having shielded priest Bernard Preynat from claims of abuse involving scouts in his Lyon parish.” By CathNews.com

Parish removes priest who asked middle school students during confession if they masturbated or watched porn
“An associate pastor at St. Robert Bellarmine Catholic Church has been dismissed from the parish(link is external) after asking middle school students during confession if they masturbated or watched pornography. Deacon Tim McNeil, chancellor and spokesman for the Archdiocese of Omaha, said the Rev. Nicholas Mishek, 26, is an inexperienced priest who was overzealous in his questioning and made a lapse in judgment. He has been removed from St. Robert Bellarmine, but the archdiocese will work with him to review the training he received in the seminary.” By Erin Duffy, Omaha World-Herald
— Priest’s questions to kids about masturbation and porn rightly set off alarms(link is external), By Michael Kelly, Omaha World-Herald
— Omaha Catholic school priest fired for confession questions(link is external)By Associated Press

Scandals in the Catholic Church: Bad news and good news
“Leaders in the Catholic Church, like leaders in any organization, hate scandals. They wish that they never happen, and when they do, they try to deal with them internally so as not to get a lot of bad publicity. The problem is that they usually make a mess of it(link is external). Any attempt by the church to try to limit publicity is seen as a cover-up. A better strategy would be to recognize that scandals represent bad news and good news.” By Thomas Reese, National Catholic Reporter

Vatican, former Vatican auditor give differing accounts of resignation
“The first person to serve as the Vatican’s independent auditor said he was forced to resign(link is external) after opponents of Pope Francis’ financial reforms mounted a campaign against him. But the Vatican press office responded Sept. 24, saying Libero Milone, going outside his competencies, illegally hired an external company to undertake investigative activities about the private lives of representatives of the Holy See.’ ‘This, besides being a crime, irremediably strained the trust placed in Dr. Milone,’ the statement said. It added that the Vatican’s internal investigation of his actions was conducted with care and respect.” By Cindy Wooden, Catholic News Service, in National Catholic Reporter

POPE FRANCIS

When the pope releases a statement ‘motu proprio’ it’s important—but why?
“Over the last few weeks, the media has reported on two significant Vatican reforms set in motion by Pope Francis(link is external). One, ‘Magnum Principium,’ involved the fraught issue of liturgical translations, for which the pope shifted the responsibility back to national bishops’ conferences. The other, ‘Summa Familiae Cura,’ rebooted a Rome-based academic institute established by Pope John Paul II to study family life, in order to incorporate some of Francis’ teachings on the subject. In both instances, the pope’s teachings were issued motu proprio, a detail reported by Catholic journalists to underscore the significance of both moves. The Latin phrase certainly sounds weighty—and it is—but more than a few Catholics were left wondering what, exactly, it means.” By Michael J. O’Loughlin, America: The Jesuit Review

Local responsibility, not disunity: Pope moves toward decentralization
“Pope Francis talks about the need for a ‘healthy decentralization’ in the Catholic Church, but how that should look and work has been a topic of debate since the Second Vatican Council. The discussion often centers on how people describe the way the church experiences and ensures its unity around the globe(link is external): For example, by focusing on a strong, decision-making central authority, that helps unites the parts to the whole or by describing the church as a communion where unity is found in sharing, cooperative relationships among the diversity of local churches. By Carol Glatz, Catholic News Service, in The Pilot

Pope calls new bishops to avoid ‘nostalgia’ for one-size-fits-all answers
“In remarks to newly appointed Catholic bishops during the last twelve months on Thursday (Sept. 14), Pope Francis focused on the virtue of discernment(link is external), saying it ‘can’t be reduced to repeating formulas such as ‘high clouds send little rain’ to a concrete person, who’s often immersed in a reality that can’t be reduced to black and white.’” By Cruxnow.com Staff

Is Pope Francis right about traditionalists who love the Latin Mass?
“My experience with the Latin(link is external) Mass offers one possible answer to Pope Francis’ questions about why young people are attracted to traditional liturgies: Having grown up with the Mass in English, these young Catholics have a vague sense of what any given moment in the Mass is about. The unfamiliar rituals and language of the Tridentine Rite, however, allows them to see these moments with fresh eyes. Discovering the Latin Mass is, to many members of my generation, what the introduction of the vernacular Mass was to people like Francis.” By Timothy Kirchoff, America: The Jesuit Review

CARDINALS

Despite wing-clipping, Sarah not going quiet in defense of tradition
(Sept. 15, 2017) “Although Cardinal Robert Sarah of Guinea arguably just had his wings clipped(link is external), as Pope Francis recently transferred a share of his Vatican department’s control over translating liturgical texts to local bishops, a major address he gave on Thursday (Sept. 14) suggests that if anyone expects Sarah to go quiet, they can forget it — and equally, if anyone expects him to go to war against the boss, they can forget that too.” By John L. Allen, Jr., Cruxnow.com

WOMEN RELIGIOUS

Sister Simone Campbell: The dangers of becoming a “celebrity nun”
“I was asked if I had a favorite mistake. I think I am making it right now. In my roles as the director of NETWORK Lobby for Catholic Social Justice and the leader of NETWORK’s Nuns on the Bus campaign, two groups that advocate for social justice, I seek to influence lawmakers. Having influence means we can protect the safety(link is external) net that so many Americans rely on; it means protecting immigrants caught up in an unjust system. It also means notoriety …” By Simone Campbell, S.S.S., America: The Jesuit Review

WOMEN IN THE CHURCH

Female envoys to Vatican say it’s past time for Church to empower women
Three female ambassadors(link is external) from different parts of the world and of different religious beliefs all agree that the Vatican is a pretty cozy place for women diplomats, but they also concur that when it comes to the role of women in the decision making process inside the Church, there’s still a long way to go.” By Ines San Martin and Claire Giangrave, Cruxnow.com

PONTIFICAL COMMISSION FOR THE PROTECTION OF MINORS

‘Pontifical secret’ in abuse cases needs review, advisers tell pope
“Experts on the 15-member Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors have called for a new look at how the principles regarding ‘pontifical secret’(link is external) are applied during canonical processes and see where canon law may impede the reporting of suspected child abuse to civil authorities. The same experts also called for exempting cases that involve ‘sexual delicts’ and crimes against minors from those norms governing pontifical secret.” By Carol Glatz, Catholic News Service

Pope Francis’ abuse panel to also look into priests’ children
“Pope Francis’ committee of advisers on protecting children from sexually abusive priests is expanding its workload to include the needs and rights of children fathered by Roman Catholic priests(link is external). Committee members told the Associated Press on Sunday (Sept. 24) that a working group is looking into developing guidelines that can be used by dioceses around the world to ensure that children born to priests are adequately cared for.” By Nicole Winfield, Associated Press, in The Boston Globe

CHURCH REFORM

The pope’s new liturgy document: who was involved and what that tells us
“‘Magnum Principium’ is one of the major documents of Francis’ pontificate(link is external). For this reason it deserves an analysis that is not only one of historical-theological context—and not just from the point of view of its possible consequences for the liturgical texts in English—but also an analysis of the institutional context in which it was decided and published.” By Massimo Faggioli, America: The Jesuit Review
— A liturgical expert explains Pope Francis’ change to Mass translation rules(link is external)By John F. Baldovin, America: The Jesuit Review
— One priest’s hopes for the Mass translations(link is external)By Michael G. Ryan, America: The Jesuit Review
— Bishops may changes ‘sexist, archaic’ Mass text after Pope ruling(link is external)By Patsy McGarry, The Irish Times
— All in good time: Liturgy document unlikely to bring quick changes,(link is external) By Cindy Wooden, Catholic News Service

FUTURE OF THE CHURCH

An Ordinary Sunday: A Nationwide Survey of Parish Masses
“So, on most weekends, it seems to me like the state of Sunday Mass is not so bad. And yet(link is external) I realize my parish is an unusual and healthy one, and that the more than seventeen thousand other parishes out there include many without the resources and talent we have. In the pages that follow, you’ll see reports on a wide variety of Catholic Sunday experiences on two weekends, one in June and one in July. It’s too small a sample, of course, to draw quantitative conclusions—but not, perhaps, to get an impression of how Catholic Sundays are faring.” By The Editors at Commonweal

Pittsburgh diocese panel proposes merging 188 parishes to 48
“A radical new plan in the Diocese of Pittsburgh could reduce the number of parishes to a third of their current number(link is external). A diocesan commission is recommending keeping multiple worship sites open in the parishes, although some churches would close. The number of active priests in the Diocese of Pittsburgh is expected to decline from 211 to 112 by 2025.” By Associated Press on Cruxnow.com

Latin Mass fans celebrate 10-year anniversary
“Fans of the old Latin Mass have descended on Rome for their annual pilgrimage, facing indifference to their cause(link is external), if not outright resistance, from none other than Pope Francis. Ten years after Pope Benedict XVI passed a law allowing greater use of the Latin Mass, Francis seems to be doing everything possible to roll that back or simply pretend it never happened.” By Nicole Winfield, Associated Press, on Religion News Service

A parish is the body of Christ – not a Starbucks franchise
“Over the past ten years, this all-too-familiar scenario has been repeated in one U.S. diocese after another(link is external). Currently, in addition to Hartford, the Diocese of Pittsburgh and the Archdiocese of New York are also drastically downsizing, while priests in the Archdiocese of Chicago project closing up to 100 churches by 2030. Often, the euphemism ‘demographic changes’ leads the list of justifications for this assault on faithful Catholic communities like St. Joan of Arc (in New Haven, Connecticut).” By Christine Schenk, National Catholic Reporter

VATICAN

Tools for thinking about the Vatican’s two latest scandals
“At the moment, the Vatican finds itself facing two less-than-edifying storylines(link is external), one involving a priest in the papal embassy in Washington, D.C., suspected of possible violations of child pornography laws, and the other featuring a Vatican trial for financial misappropriation against former officials of a papally-sponsored pediatric hospital. Here are a few resources for thinking intelligently about each.” By John L. Allen, Jr., Cruxnow.com

Vatican holds seminar on young people ahead of 2018 Synod of Bishops
“The Vatican released a statement on Tuesday (Sept. 19) for the 15th Ordinary Synod of Bishops to take place in October 2018. In the statement, the Secretariat General of the Synod of Bishops said an international seminar on the condition of youth in the world(link is external) was held on 11-15 September 2017 at the Jesuit General Curia. Some 82 young people from around the world attended the event, as well as various experts and pastoral workers. The statement said the sessions reflected on several themes, including ‘the young and identity, the young and otherness, the young and planning, the young and technology, and the young and transcendence.’” By Vatican Radio

Don’t be embarrassed to talk about sex, youths tell Vatican officials
“Several young people attending a Vatican-sponsored seminar on the upcoming Synod of Bishops urged the Vatican and the bishops themselves(link is external) to be open to listening to youths talk and ask questions about love, sex and sexuality. A ‘big gap’ exists between the concerns young people want to talk about and the issues most bishops are comfortable discussing, said Therese Hargot, who describes herself as a philosopher and sexologist.”By Cindy Wooden, Catholic News Service, in Cruxnow.com

Mary McAleese says the Vatican is moving backwards on children’s rights
“Former president Mary McAleese has criticized the Vatican for its stance on children’s rights(link is external). Speaking to the Royal Irish Academy yesterday evening, McAleese asked if an unresolved dispute between the Holy See and the governing body of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child has caused the church to move backwards on children’s rights.” By TheJournal.ie

“AMORIS LAETITIA”

Pope Francis is guilty of heresy over his thawing of relations with remarried Catholics
Pope Francis has been accused of heresy(link is external) over his thawing relations with remarried Catholics. More than 60 priests, theologians and academics have lashed out at the Pontiff in relation to his 2016 opening to divorced and civilly remarried Catholics. In a 25-page letter delivered to Francis last month, the 62 signatories issued a ‘filial correction’ – meaning brotherly correction – to the pope – a measure they said hadn’t been employed since the 14th century.” By Alex Matthews, Daily Mail
— Conservative theologians accuse pope of spreading heresy(link is external)By Nicole Winfield, Religion News Service
— Scholars say correction of Francis for ‘heresey’ marked by hypocrisy, lack of signatories(link is external)By Joshua J. McElwee, National Catholic Reporter

Cardinal Wuerl mounts strong defense of ‘Amoris’ and Pope Francis
“In the opening lecture for Georgetown University’s Sacred Lecture Series, Cardinal Donald Wuerl of Washington defended Pope Francis’s efforts(link is external) to decentralize Church governance, his approach to synodality, and ‘Amoris Laetitia.’” By Christopher White, Cruxnow.com

VOICES

A Church that Can & Did Change
“Our society’s toxic ‘culture wars’ have colonized too many sectors within the Catholic Church(link is external). One thinks, for example, of the ‘liturgy wars’ concerning what constitutes ‘authentic liturgical reform’ or the recent disputes regarding Pope Francis’s pastoral accommodations for the divorced and remarried. At the level of Catholic ecclesiology, the ‘culture wars’ have morphed into the ‘council wars,’ a fight over the authentic interpretation of Vatican II.” By Richard Gaillardetz, America: The Jesuit Review

Jesuit priest stands up for gay Catholics, then faces backlash
“The Rev. James Martin knew his latest book – which urges a dialogue between the Roman Catholic Church and lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Catholics who feel estranged from it – would be provocative(link is external). Even though the book was approved by his Jesuit superior as in line with church teachings and was endorsed by several cardinals, he did not expect everyone to agree. That’s fine, he said. That’s why dialogue was needed.” By David Gonzalez, The New York Times
— Backlash over Martin’s LGBT book prompts speech cancellations(link is external)By Christopher White, Cruxnow.com
— Bishop McElroy: Attacks on Father James Martin expose a cancer within the U.S. Catholic Church(link is external)By Robert W. McElroy, America: The Jesuit Review

COUNCIL OF CARDINALS

Council of Cardinals takes ‘pause for reflection’ in latest meeting
“The group of cardinals advising Pope Francis on reforming the Vatican bureaucracy used its latest meeting to reflect on what the pope has said about reform(link is external) in the church before continuing on with its work. In a Sept. 13 briefing about the Council of Cardinals’ Sept. 11-13 meeting, Vatican spokesman Greg Burke said the group’s reflection material included Francis’ December 2016 address to the Roman Curia and his October 2015 address on the role of the Synod of Bishops in the church. Burke called the latest meeting of the council, the group’s 21st since its creation in 2013, a ‘pause for reflection’ led by Honduran Cardinal Óscar Rodríguez Maradiaga, its coordinator.” By Joshua J. McElwee, National Catholic Reporter

CHURCH FINANCES

In Vatican trial, witness calls spending on cardinal’s apartment ‘anomalous
“In the latest hearing of the Vatican’s first-ever trial for financial crimes, an official of the Government of the Vatican City State said that a controversial remodeling project for the private apartment of Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, the Secretary of State under Pope emeritus Benedict XVI, bypassed the normal competitive bidding process(link is external) and was ‘singular’ and ‘anomalous.’” By John L. Allen, Jr., Cruxnow.com

Leader of Vatican finance reform accused of spying on personnel
“The Vatican has accused its first-ever auditor general of ‘going beyond his powers(link is external)in hiring an external firm to carry out investigations on the private lives of exponents of the Holy See.’ The announcement comes after the auditor-general, Libero Milone, who resigned last June, broke his silence on Saturday (Sept. 23) and told reporters that he had been forced to resign or face arrest on fabricated charges. He claims that what happened was part of an effort by the old guard to slow down Pope Francis’ reform of Vatican finances.” By Gerard O’Connell, America: The Jesuit Review
— Auditor says he was forced to quit Vatican after finding irregularities(link is external)By Philip Pullella, Reuters

Defendant in Vatican trial says cardinal ‘clarified’ affair with the Pope
“On the second full day of testimony in the Vatican’s first-ever trial for alleged financial crimes, one of the defendants told the court he was informed there should be ‘no problems’ with spending money(link is external) from a children’s hospital on remodeling an Italian cardinal’s private apartment, because that cardinal had spoken personally to Pope Francis and “clarified” the situation.” By John L. Allen, Jr., Cruxnow.com

Queen of Apostles Catholic Church volunteer stole thousands from church in Alexandria
“An Alexandria church volunteer was arrested after she was accused of taking money from the church collection(link is external). The Fairfax County Police Department said 53-year-old Sandra Cortes of Annandale was charged with three counts of grand larceny after she stole thousands of dollars from the Queen of Apostles Catholic Church located at 4329 Sano St.” By Matt Ackland, FOX5 News

In Vatican trial, question remains: whose reputations are on the line?
“As the latest major Vatican criminal trial resumed on Tuesday (Sept. 19), judges seemed to challenge claims by the main defendant(link is external) that spending $500,000 from funds belonging to a papally-sponsored children’s hospital to remodel the private apartment of a Vatican cardinal was entirely routine and above-board. As the trial plays out, the reputations of both that cardinal and Pope Francis’s broader financial reform appear at stake.” By John L. Allen, Jr., Cruxnow.com

Priest paying back money misused from charitable account, no criminal charges filed
“A Catholic priest who resigned after he misused approximately $130,000 in charitable funds(link is external) from the St. Ignatius Loyola Parish in Kingston won’t face criminal charges and has paid back more than half of the money, the Diocese of Scranton said. An investigation by the Luzerne County District Attorney’s Office determined Rev. John J. Chmil, former pastor of the parish, apparently did not personally profit and will not be charged, Diocese spokesman William Genello said Monday (Sept. 18).” By Jerry Lynott, Scranton Times Leader

CLERGY CHILD SEXUAL ABUSE

‘Culture of celibacy’ to blame for Catholic sex abuse – study
“A five-year study into sexual abuse within the Catholic Church(link is external) has found that mandatory celibacy and a culture of secrecy within the entirely male-dominated clergy were ‘the major precipitating risk factor[s] for child sexual abuse.’ Former Catholic priest, Des Cahill, and co-author, theologian Peter Wilkinson, compiled information from 26 royal commissions and inquiries from Australia, Ireland, the UK, Canada and the Netherlands since 1985 in their report.” By RT.com

Lina’s Project seeks atonement for abuse survivors
“A survivor-led project that saw the Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle publicly acknowledge the devastation caused by clergy sexual abuse(link is external) was recently launched in Newcastle, mnnews.today reports. Lina, a victim of sexual abuse at the hands of a member of clergy in the Diocese, devised ‘The Atonement: Lina’s Project’ as a way of rebuilding her own trust in the Church and bringing some healing to those affected by the actions and inactions of the Church.” By CathNews.com

Barbara Blaine, who championed victims of priests’ abuse, dies at 61
Barbara Blaine(link is external), who was sexually abused by a Roman Catholic priest as a teenager and went on to found the nation’s most potent advocacy group for abuse survivors, died on Sunday in St. George, Utah. She was 61. The cause was a sudden tear in a blood vessel in her heart, which she sustained on Sept. 18 after going hiking on a vacation, her husband, Howard Rubin, said. She lived in Chicago.” By Laurie Goodstein, The New York Times
— Barbara Blaine, founder of priest-abuse victims group SNAP, dies at 61(link is external)By Manya Brachear Pashman, Chicago Tribune
— Barbara Blaine, 61, founder of church sex abuse victims group(link is external)By The Boston Globe Staff and Wire Services

Diocese names board to oversee clergy sex abuse allegations
“A Roman Catholic diocese has appointed a five-member board to oversee its handling of child sex abuse allegations(link is external) against clergy as part of an agreement with the federal prosecutor who oversees western Pennsylvania. Acting U.S. Attorney Soo Song announced the agreement in March with Altoona-Johnstown Bishop Mark Bartchak after a state grand jury alleged a decades-long abuse coverup. Song’s predecessor had threatened to sue the eight-county central Pennsylvania diocese under a federal racketeering statute if reforms weren’t enacted.” By Joe Mandak, Associated Press, in U.S. News & World Report

MARYLAND

Baltimore archdiocese responds to petition calling for release of ‘Keepers’ priest Maskell’s files
“The Archdiocese of Baltimore has responded to the organizer of a petition that urged the release of personnel files(link is external) of the late priest at the center of ‘The Keepers’ documentary, saying it treated the request ‘very seriously’ but is still declining to make the documents public. More than 54,000 people have signed the change.org petition, which calls on church officials to release the records of A. Joseph Maskell. The priest worked as chaplain and counselor at Archbishop Keough High School in Southwest Baltimore during the 1960s and 1970s. Multiple people have accused him of sexual abuse. He denied the allegations before his death in 2001.” By Alison Knezevich, Baltimore Sun

MASSACHUSETTS

Church abuse survivor comes forward
“Brian Ward said he was sexually abused by the altar boy coordinator(link is external) at St. Brenda’s Parish in Dorchester, Massachusetts for two years while he was growing up. Twenty-seven years later, Michael Walsh – who pleaded guilty to the abuse – had been living down the road from Ward’s young relatives. Realizing that proximity is what pushed him to come forward.” By Glenn Marshall, NBC-TV, Boston

MINNESOTA

Judge begins decision process in suit against Crookston diocese, bishop
“A northwest Minnesota judge has until Dec. 19, 2017, to rule on a lawsuit accusing the Diocese of Crookston and its bishop of covering up abuse(link is external) and inflicting emotional damages on a man who says his bid to become a deacon was rejected because he reported being sexually abused by a priest more than 40 years ago.” By Andrew Hazzard, Duluth News Tribune

NEW MEXICO

Lawsuits filed against priests
“In 1986, when John Doe 46 was nine years old, he was selected as one of the altar boys for the Sacred Heart of Jesus Parish, in Española. For the next two years, he was allegedly raped by former priest Armando Martinez(link is external), who was killed in 1997. Doe is just one of the many victims of sexual abuse and violence at the hands of Catholic clergy in Rio Arriba County. Because he is a victim of sexual abuse, he is only named as ‘John Doe’ in court documents.” By Wheeler Cowperthwatte, Rio Grande Sun

More than a dozen abusive clergy served local parishes
“Armando Martinez grew up in Questa, the village of alfalfa fields and a couple of thousand people at the western base of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains. Martinez didn’t look for work at the nearby molybdenum mine, like a lot of young men from the village. Instead, he went into a Catholic seminary(link is external), became a priest and headed parishes from Belen to Tucumcari, Springer to El Rito.” By Cody Hooks, Taos News

Archbishop identifies 74 clergy accused of child abuse
“Archbishop John C. Wester on Tuesday (Sept. 12) published the names of 74 clergy who have been credibly accused of sexually abusing children(link is external), together with an apology to survivors ‘for the pain and suffering you have endured.’ The disclosure marks the first time the Archdiocese of Santa Fe has provided a list of accused priests, deacons and religious brothers since the clergy sexual abuse crisis burst into public view in the early 1990s.” By Olivier Uyttebrouck, Albuquerque Journal
— Archdiocese of Santa Fe publicly names priests accused of molestation(link is external)By Andrew Oxford, The Santa Fe New Mexican

OHIO

Arthur McCaffrey: Forgiveness must be earned, Bishop Perez
(Sept. 15, 2017) “The Beacon Journal recently reported on the formal installation of the new Catholic bishop of Cleveland, Nelson Perez (“ Cleveland rocks,’ new ‘bishop tells the faithful,” Sept. 6). The story highlighted his personal appeal to the laity for forgiveness for the church’s ‘horrendous’ history of child abuse(link is external), as if this was a novel gesture after the dour administration of his predecessor Bishop Lennon.” By Arthur McCaffrey, Commentary in Akron Beacon Journal

PENNSYLVANIA

Retired priest accused of abusing boy waives hearing
“A former Roman Catholic priest accused of molesting a 10-year-old Pennsylvania boy(link is external) has waived his right to a preliminary hearing. The Tribune-Review reports 74-year-old Rev. John Thomas Sweeney waived a charge of involuntary deviate sexual intercourse on Wednesday (Sept. 20). Prosecutors say Sweeney abused the student at St. Margaret Mary Elementary School in Lower Burrell during the 1991-92 school year. The accuser, now 35, is serving in the Coast Guard.” By KDKA-TV

James Brzyski, infamous Philly priest, found dead in Texas motel
“James Brzyski, a defrocked Archdiocese of Philadelphia priest once described as one of the region’s most monstrous sexual predators(link is external), but who eluded prosecution after allegedly abusing dozens of boys in the 1970s and 1980s, was found dead Wednesday (Sept. 13) at a Texas motel. Authorities confirmed they were investigating a man’s death at the Super 7 motel on Seminary Road in Fort Worth. They had not officially determined his identity or cause of death but said they did not suspect foul play.” By Maria Panaritis, The Inquirer/Daily News, Philly.com

Former Catholic priest faces sentence for child porn
“ A former Catholic priest will spend time behind bars for possessing child porn(link is external). John Mraz was sentenced today (Sept. 14) to six to 23 months in Lehigh County jail. Mraz was the pastor at the Church of St. Ann in Emmaus, which is part of the diocese of Allentown.” By WFMZ-TV

WASHINGTON

Seattle archdiocese pays $1.3 million to settle sex abuse case
“The Seattle Archdiocese has paid $1.3 million to settle a sex-abuse lawsuit(link is external) involving a former member of a religious order who taught in its schools. A man sued the archdiocese in 2015, alleging the church knew Edward Courtney abused students at two archdiocesan schools in Seattle but later recommended him for a teaching job at a public school outside Tacoma.” By Associated Press
— Catholic Church abuse: Seattle archdiocese pays $1.3 million to settle case(link is external)By Conor Gaffey, Newsweek
— Archdiocese helped sexual abuser teach in Pierce County public school(link is external)By Alexis Krell, The News Tribune

WISCONSIN

Menasha priest found not guilty of sexual abuse of a child in church trial
“A Menasha priest accused in 2010 of sexually abusing a minor(link is external) has been found not guilty through canonical judicial proceedings. Father Paul Radetski had been placed on administrative leave from his duties at St. John’s, St. Mary’s and St. Patrick parishes in Menasha after civil authorities were alerted to what were said by the Catholic Diocese of Green Bay at the time to be credible allegations.” By Raquel Rutledge, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

AUSTRALIA

An Australian priest is being investigated in Papua New Guinea over confessional allegations
“An Australian Catholic priest is being investigated by Papua New Guinea police for allegedly touching female students during confession(link is external) after a bishop denied the priest ‘caressed their thighs to get some personal satisfaction.’ Vincentian priest Father Neil Lams allegedly held a teenage girl on his lap, ‘cuddled’ some girls and bought gifts for them, touched girls on the thighs during confession, asked them questions about whether they had sex with their boyfriends and ‘how many times,’ slapped some students on the head and called others ‘sweet baby.’” By Joanne McCarthy, Newcastle Herald

In fight against sex abuse, Australian archbishop sees progress, challenges
“Amid ongoing controversy surrounding clerical sex abuse in Australia(link is external), one of the country’s archbishops believes the local Churches are making progress – but still face a long journey ahead. ‘It’s very much a work in progress; we still have a long way to go,’ said Archbishop Mark Coleridge of Brisbane, according to the Australian Associated Press.” By Catholic News Agency

Church working to protect children but long way to go: Coleridge
“Brisbane Archbishop Mark Coleridge says the Church in Australia is acting to protect children from sexual abuse although he concedes it has a long way to go(link is external), News.com.au reports. Archbishop Coleridge says a lot has been and is being done around Australia to safeguard children. ‘But it’s very much a work in progress; we still have a long way to go,’ he said yesterday (Sept. 14).’ ‘Because it’s not just a matter of changing procedures and protocols but of building a culture, and that takes time.’ By CathNews.com

GUAM

Ten new clergy sex abuse suits include Brouillard bringing two boys to U.S., Canada
Ten clergy sex abuse cases(link is external) have been filed in local court, including one alleging that former priest Louis Brouillard engaged in group sex with minors and had two altar boys accompany him on summer road trips to Minnesota and Canada, where he continued to sexually abuse and molest them.” By Haidee Eugenio, Pacific Daily News

Another clergy sex abuse case filed in federal court
“Another clergy sex abuse case(link is external) has been filed in the District Court of Guam. 62-year-old R.A.J. alleges he was sexually molested by now deceased, father Ziolo Camacho. The incident occurred at San Vicente Catholic School when R.A.J. was about 6 or 7 years old.”By Krystal Paco, KUAM-TV

1,000 lawsuits: Guam clergy abuse scandal could widen, group says
“A year after Gov. Eddie Calvo signed into law a bill allowing victims of child sexual abuse to sue their abusers(link is external) and the groups they are associated with, at any time, Guam has seen 110 Catholic clergy sex abuse lawsuits. And the number of cases filed could reach 1,000 because of the extent of cover-up, denials and vast reach of the abusers for decades, a national survivors group says.” By Haidee Eugenio, USA TODAY

Talks over mediation protocol continue in sex abuse cases
“The parties in nearly 100 clergy sex abuse cases filed(link is external) in the local and federal courts in Guam have until Tuesday (Sept. 19) afternoon to advise the court how they intend to proceed with mediation and settlement talks. Many of the attorneys for childhood sex abuse victims, the Archdiocese of Agana, the Boy Scouts of America and other defendants met in Hawaii on Sept. 5 to try to come to an agreement on how to proceed with mediation and a possible global settlement for all of the cases.” By Mindy Aguon, The Guam Daily Post

Lawsuit: Priest abused boys simultaneously, repeatedly
“Former Guam priest Louis Brouillard sexually abused multiple boys at the same time and repeatedly(link is external), offering them food as a reward, according to a lawsuit filed Monday (Sept. 18) in federal court. The lawsuit, which is among dozens accusing Brouillard of child sexual abuse, was filed by 48-year-old ‘M.I.Q.’ who, like most plaintiffs, used his initials to protect his privacy.” By Haidee Eugenio, Pacific Daily News

INDIA

Church issues guidelines on sexual harassment at workplace
(Sept. 16, 2017) “With the Catholic Church facing embarrassment over allegations of sexual assault involving some of its clergymen(link is external), the community’s top decision-making body in India has released a set of guidelines to prevent such acts at the workplace, including a code of conduct to be signed by employees in all institutions under its control.” By Liz Mathew, The Indian Express

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