Posts Tagged Focus

Voice of the Faithful Focus

May 21, 2017

TOP STORIES

Abuse survivor wants papal panel to push back on Vatican resistance
“On Saturday (May 13), Pope Francis called Marie Collins(link is external), an abuse survivor who recently quit his Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors citing Vatican resistance to reform, a ‘great woman’ and said she’s ‘right on some things.’ In a Crux interview, Collins expressed gratitude but also said that the Church still needs uniform global standards and a way to hold bishops accountable.” By John Allen, Ines San Martin and Claire Giangrave, Cruxnow.com

Lawsuit accuses Minnesota bishop of coercion in clergy abuse case
“Ron Vasek said all he wanted was to become a church deacon and support his son, a Catholic priest. But in a lawsuit filed this week(link is external) (May 9), Vasek claims that Crookston Bishop Michael Hoeppner threatened to undermine his religious work and his son’s if he didn’t retract a clergy abuse claim. It’s among the allegations in an unusual lawsuit that, for the first time, accuses a U.S. bishop of coercion in a clergy abuse case, said Vasek’s attorney Jeff Anderson.” By Jean Hopfensperger, Minneapolis Star Tribune
Minnesota bishop sued for coercion, blackmail over sex abuse accusation(link is external), By Brian Roewe, National Catholic Reporter
Deacon candidate accuses Minnesota bishop of blackmail to keep abuse allegations quiet(link is external), By Steve Karnowski, Associated Press, in America: The Jesuit Review
Attorney: Suit to allege Minnesota bishop threatened retaliation against victim(link is external), By Paul Walsh, Minneapolis Star Tribune

Hartford Archdiocese announces parish consolidations, church closings
“The Hartford Archdiocese announced May 7 that its 212 Connecticut parishes will be consolidated into 127 by June 29, downsizing the archdiocese by about 40 percent(link is external). It may be the most massive effort of its kind in a series of consolidations that have taken place in dioceses in the Northeast and the Midwest over the past decade as the number of priests and Catholic Massgoers in those regions decline.” By Peter Feuerherd, National Catholic Reporter
After reorganization, a look at the future of the Catholic Church in Connecticut,(link is external) By Catie Talarski, WNPR, Connecticut Public Radio

What did Cardinal George Pell know about allegations of child sex abuse within the church?
“New allegations of alleged conspiracies, cover-ups and broken lives(link is external) have emerged, with questions about what Pell knew about pedophilia in the Catholic Church before he become Archbishop of Melbourne.” By Louise Milligan, Canberra Times

ACCOUNTABILITY

Pope Francis says sex abuse survivor is ‘a bit right’ to complain about 2,000-case backlog
“Pope Francis says the Vatican has a 2,000-case backlog in processing clerical sex abuse cases(link is external) and admits criticism of the slow pace is justified. But he says more staff are being added and the Vatican is ‘on the right path.’ Francis was making his first comments about the criticism leveled at the Vatican’s handling of sex abuse cases by Marie Collins, an Irish abuse survivor who resigned from Francis’ sex abuse commission in March. Collins quit because of what she called the ‘unacceptable’ resistance in the Vatican to implementing the group’s proposals to better care for victims and protect children.” By Nicole Winfield, Associated Press in Time magazine
Pope says abuse survivor who quit Vatican panel was ‘right on some issues,(link is external)By Ines San Martin, Cruxnow.com

CHURCH REFORM

Priests’ group accuses bishops of refusing to support pope’s openness to reform
“An internationally renown group of reform-minded priests(link is external) in Austria has criticized the world’s bishops for not capitalizing on Pope Francis’ openness to make significant changes in Church ministry and pastoral practice. The Austrian Priests’ Initiative (API) is urging the bishops to take up the leeway the pope has given them to look at such issues as the possibility of ordaining married men of proven virtue (viri probati) to the priesthood, women to the diaconate and allowing remarried divorcees to receive the Eucharist in certain cases.” By Christa Pongratz-Lippitt, LaCroix

FUTURE OF THE CHURCH

Archdiocese plan calls for sweeping changes for Connecticut Catholics
“As Roman Catholics across the Archdiocese of Hartford learned the fate of their parishes(link is external) this weekend, Archbishop Leonard P. Blair acknowledged that there might be more changes for parishes throughout Hartford, Litchfield and New Haven counties in the future. ‘I can’t stand before you here today and say that with this plan, the next 10 years now we don’t have to do anything,’ Blair said. ‘That would be irresponsible on my part and simply not the case. I can tell you that what we are doing today goes a long way to providing stability in the assignment of priests and in the life of these parishes.’ By Jordan Otero Sisson, Hartford Courant
Catholics prepare for changes under new archdiocesan plan(link is external), By Jordan Otero Sisson and Ken Byron, Hartford Courant
Hartford Archdiocese announces parish closings, mergers(link is external), By Associated Press & WTNH.com

Disrupters and rebuilders
“It’s hard to know what the Modesto meeting portends for the future of the U.S. church(link is external). The pope’s clear desire to recalibrate Catholic identity away from the culture wars—part of his distaste for a hunkered down, fortress Catholicism—still leaves some vocal American church leaders and lay faithful more jittery than energized … At the same time, a network of Catholic activists on the right that has attacked the church’s commitment to community organizing for decades remains well-mobilized and relentless.” By John Gehring, Commonweal

Activist wants NYC’s shuttered churches put to use
“Like his nemesis Donald Trump, Felix Cepeda knows something about Manhattan real estate. Location, location, location. That’s the mantra of real estate. And it’s what now-closed properties in the New York Archdiocese(link is external) offer in abundance. One such property is Our Lady of the Scapular/St. Stephen Church on East 28th Street, between Lexington and Third Avenue.” By Peter Feuerherd, National Catholic Reporter

Howells, Nebraska, has only about 550 residents – but two Catholic churches
“Howells, Nebraska, is in fact the last small town with two Catholic parishes in the entire Omaha Archdiocese. These two Catholic churches of Howells are a quirk of fate(link is external), an oddity of American immigration, a faded symbol of long-forgotten ethnic strife and also a newer symbol of this town’s persistence and cooperation … The two churches of Howells are something else, too: endangered.” By Matthew Hansen, Omaha World-Herald

VATICAN

What happened to ecumenism?
“This is the second of a series of posts(link is external) discussing issues related to the coming review and re-evaluation of ‘Liturgiam Authenticam,’ the document which governs the translation of liturgical texts – When Pope Francis and the Coptic Orthodox Pope, Tawadros II, issued a joint statement in Egypt this past week (May 3), they landed squarely on an ecumenical issue of great importance … ‘Let us deepen our shared roots in the one apostolic faith by praying together and by seeking common translations of the Lord’s Prayer …’ Common translations have been, and continue to be, one of the important tools of ecumenism.” By Rita Ferrone, Commonweal

“AMORIS LAETITIA”

Vatican’s point man on family says Church needs to go positive
“Cardinal Kevin Farrell, president of the Vatican’s new Dicastery for Marriage, Family and Life, says that Pope Francis’s document ‘Amoris Laetitia’(link is external) will be the basis for the looming World Meeting of Families in Dublin, Ireland.” By Elise Harris, Catholic News Agency, on Cruxnow.com

‘Amoris Laetitia’ is about accompaniment, not the divorced and remarried
“Three professors from the John Paul II Institute in Rome have produced a handbook explaining how to apply ‘Amoris Laetitia,(link is external)‘ which was just published in English. They argue discernment should help find ways to live spousal fidelity, and not ways to be excused from the Church’s moral law.” By Father Matthew Schneider, Cruxnow.com

WOMEN RELIGIOUS

With declining numbers, women religious are invisible to many non-Catholics
“…But in doing research for the piece, she learned this(link is external): ‘The number of women religious across America has been in steady decline since 1965, when there were approximately 180,000 sisters in the country. The total now is about 49,000, roughly 90 percent of whom are more than 60 years old. In Philadelphia — where one in four people identify as Catholic — there are only about 2,400 nuns, a 30-plus percent decrease in just the past 16 years.’” By Bill Tammeus, National Catholic Reporter

VOICES

Editorial: The enemy is not the secular world, it is fear
“Can these two men (Archbishop Joseph Naumann and Cardinal Joseph Tobin) be leaders of the same church? One implores us to encounter, to stand by the ‘other,’ to welcome the stranger. The other suggests a theology of fear — fear of outside forces and fear of change. The stark difference in focus illustrates the cultural and political divide that is expanding within the church(link is external), especially in the United States. For some bishops, the fight has taken on the theme of church vs. the devil they view as the secular world.” By National Catholic Reporter Editorial Staff

Knights of Columbus’ financial forms show wealth, influence
“For more than a decade and a half, under the leadership of a former political operative, the Knights of Columbus has increasingly used its enormous wealth to influence the direction of the church(link is external), underwriting think tanks and news outlets while gaining entrée to some of the highest levels of decision-making in the church.” By Tom Roberts, National Catholic Reporter
Why do we write about the Knights of Columbus?(link is external) By Dennis Coday, National Catholic Reporter
‘Find common cause,’ Knights spokesman advices NCR(link is external), By Tom Roberts, National Catholic Reporter

Continental Drift
“‘Il Tevere è più largo.’ Students of Italian history are familiar with the metaphoric expression describing the ever-growing distance between the Vatican and Italian politics: ‘The Tiber has become wider(link is external)’ … But the widening of the Tiber is little compared to the spreading of the world’s oceans. The ‘Catholic Pangea’ itself is breaking up, undergoing a kind of continental drift. The expanding gap between Rome and the world is perhaps best symbolized by the growing distance between Rome and the U.S. Catholic church, itself owing to the uncomfortable relationship between Francis and many American bishops—among other things.” By Massimo Faggioli, Commonweal
Catholic Citizenship: Massimo Faggioli on the role of public theologians today(link is external), By Kaya Oakes, Religion Dispatches

Church Militant’s nonsense not authentically Catholic
“The ‘Atlantic’ video about Church Militant(link is external) and their founder Michael Voris was, at the same time, fascinating and frustrating. The fascination stems from the easy way that normalcy and extremism seem to coincide in the lives of Voris and his colleagues. One minute he is eating pizza with his dad, and the next he is prepping for a broadcast that will, like all his broadcasts, be viciously extreme and extremely vicious. He drops by a Subway for a sandwich, and then is shown spouting gibberish.” By Michael Sean Winters, National Catholic Reporter

Catholic Church’s good deeds are being erased, says archbishop
“Decades of service by countless nuns and priests in education and healthcare are being ‘almost obliterated by a revised and narrow narrative that religious ethos(link is external) cannot be good for democracy,’ Catholic Primate Archbishop Eamon Martin has said. He said there was a view that religious ethos stands ‘against the progress and flourishing of society and the rights of citizens’ and that there was a tendency in some public discussion to give the impression that things related to faith were ‘unconnected with reason.’ By Patsy McGarry, The Irish Times

Bishop John Stowe leads prayer at LGBT Catholic gathering
“Clad in traditional brown Franciscan robes, Bishop John Stowe of Lexington, Kentucky, seemed at home among the rainbow of colors at New Ways Ministry’s eighth annual symposium here April 28-30. This was the first time that the bishop had spoken in front of the advocacy group(link is external), which supports lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Catholics. ‘New Ways Ministry made me want to come here,’ the bishop told NCR during a 40-minute interview at the gathering. He has been observing and admiring the group’s outreach to LGBT Catholics over several years, he added.” By Patricia Lefevere, National Catholic Reporter

CHURCH FINANCES

Priest who stole from Northboro church returns to parish work
“A Catholic priest who pleaded guilty in court to stealing(link is external) nearly $240,000 from St. Bernadette Parish and School in Northboro to feed a gambling habit has been returned to parish ministry on a limited basis. The Rev. Stephen M. Gemme will be allowed to celebrate Mass and other sacraments in parishes in need of assistance when their own priest is on vacation, retreat or unavailable because of illness or emergency, Bishop Robert J. McManus of the Worcester Diocese announced Friday (May 12).” By Mark Sullivan, Worcester Telegram & Gazette

Vatican’s financial watchdog cites progress, but still no prosecutions
“The Vatican’s financial watchdog presented a rosy annual report(link is external) on Thursday (May11), suggesting a drop in reports of suspicious activity and an increase in cooperation with international partners in tracking transactions. However, there still has been no public prosecution of anyone for financial crimes in the Vatican, which faces a ticking clock to get that done from the Council of Europe’s review process.” By Ines San Martin, Cruxnow.com

Priest pleads guilty to stealing $500K for casinos, concerts
“The rector of a church-owned retirement home for Roman Catholic priests has admitted embezzling a half-million(link is external) to pay for casino visits, high-end dinners and Philadelphia Pops concerts. Monsignor William A. Dombrow pleaded guilty Thursday (May 4) to four federal wire fraud counts for skimming money over nine years from a Villa St. Joseph account he controlled. The Philadelphia Archdiocese runs the facility in Darby to house aging priests and treat those accused of sexual abuse.” By Associate Press on FOX29-TV

Embezzlement charges filed against Catholic priest
“St. Joseph County prosecutors have filed embezzlement charges against a former Branch County Catholic priest. Reverend Richard Fritz is accused of stealing over $213,000(link is external) from St. Mary’s Assumption in Bronson and St. Barbara Mission in Colon. A pre-examination conference has been scheduled for next Tuesday (May9). A preliminary hearing is set for May 16, 2017. Fritz is currently free on bond.” By Ken Delaney WTVB-FM

Former pastor from St. Frances Xavier Catholic Church pleads guilty to federal bank fraud charges
“On Monday, May 1, 2017, John S. Mattingly, age 71, of Charlotte Hall, Maryland, pleaded guilty to bank fraud in connection with a scheme to steal funds from St. Francis Xavier Catholic Church(link is external), while he was the pastor. The guilty plea was announced by Acting United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Stephen M. Schenning; Special Agent in Charge Gordon B. Johnson of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, St. Mary’s County Sheriff Tim Cameron, and St. Mary’s County State’s Attorney Richard Fritz.” By Southern Maryland News Net

STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS REFORM

Outdated laws, unpunished child abusers
“Around the country, religious groups, and predominantly the Catholic church, have balked at the prospect of similar laws(link is external) (Child Victims Act), claiming they could lead to so much litigation that their institutions would become bankrupt.” By Ginia Bellafante, The New York Times

Sex assault statute of limitations bill pondered in Nevada legislature
Victims of child sexual abuse(link is external) may get another decade to decide if they will sue an attacker. The clock would start after a victim turns 18 or discovers as an adult, through counseling or other means, that they were abused. Assembly Bill 145 would extend the statute of limitations for civil suits from 10 years to 20 years from the later date.” By Ben Botkin, Review Journal

Church supports alternative to Child Victims Act
“As lawmakers prepare for the closing weeks of session, victims of childhood sexual abuse are pushing once again for a controversial bill that would give them a chance to seek justice for decades-old cases. The Child Victims Act(link is external) (S.809) would allow victims to file legal action against their abusers, regardless of when the crime took place.” By Kaleb H. Smith, The Legislative Gazette

CLERGY CHILD SEXUAL ABUSE

Abused by a Catholic priest as a child, this man turned back to faith for forgiveness
“Today, (Miguel) Prats has a wide-eyed, happy-go-lucky demeanor. But he says 15 years ago, he was angry and tortured inside. In 2002, when the Boston Globe uncovered widespread sexual abuse within the Catholic Church, the story brought back a memory that Prats says he had repressed: shortly after he turned 18, he himself had been sexually abused by a priest(link is external).” By Jake J. Smith, Morning Edition from NPR, KALW-FM

Merced County authorities arrest former priest on child porn charges for second time
“Shortly after finishing his jail sentence, a Los Banos priest is facing child pornography charges again(link is external). Robert Gamel faces a felony charge of possession of child pornography with prior conviction after he was arrested in April.” By Nathalie Granda, ABC30-TV

CONNECTICUT

Former Danbury priest defrocked after sex abuse allegations
“Parishioners of a Catholic church where a former pastor was accused of sexually abusing a minor(link is external) a decade ago stressed their commitment on Tuesday (May 9) to supporting the victim. ‘Faith communities have been through this before, and the way forward is with as much transparency as possible, and to offer support services to any victims who come forward,’ said Thomas Saadi, a parishioner at St. Anthony Maronite Catholic Church.” By Jim Shay an Rob Ryser, Danbury News Times

MAINE

Priest at Waterville church removed over sexual abuse allegation
“A priest at a Waterville church was removed from the priesthood Sunday after a report of sexual abuse of a minor(link is external) about 15 years ago in Connecticut was substantiated, according to a church official. The Rev. Larry Jensen, 62, was removed from the St. Joseph Maronite Catholic Church, by Bishop Gregory John Mansour, head of the Eparchy of Saint Maron of Brooklyn, New York, the official said.” By Judy Harrison, Bangor Daily News
A week after priest’s ouster, St. Joseph congregation continues to grapple with allegations against him(link is external), By Kate McCormick, Morning Sentinel

MINNESOTA

Diocese of Crookston’s Hoeppner sued, Grundhaus accused
“The former Vicar General of the Diocese of Crookston, Father Roger Grundhaus, is being accused of child sexual abuse(link is external) and Minnesota Bishop Michael Hoeppner is the first bishop to be sued for coercion for suppressing a report of abuse, according to a media advisory by Jeff Anderson and Associates attorney’s office. At a news conference Tuesday (May 9) in St. Paul, attorney Jeff Anderson, a child abuse survivor, and a Minnesota priest announced the filing of a lawsuit on behalf of the survivor, Ronald Vasek, naming Bishop Hoeppner and the Diocese of Crookston as defendants.” By Crookston Times

Archdiocese bankruptcy reorganization plan rejected by sex-abuse survivors
“A group of sexual abuse survivors(link is external) engaged in bankruptcy court mediation with the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis has overwhelmingly rejected the archdiocese’s proposed bankruptcy reorganization plan, which includes how much it should pay victims.” By Tad Vezner, Twin Cities Pioneer Press
Clergy abuse victims reject archdiocese compensation plan(link is external), By Adrian Schramm, Twin Cities Agenda

PENNSYLVANIA

Justice for Sister Cathy is long overdue
“Catherine Cesnik was the valedictorian of her Catholic high school class in Lawrenceville in 1960, where she’d also been the May Queen and the president of the senior class and student council. Nine years later, Sister Cathy was brutally murdered in Baltimore. Nearly 48 years have passed and the killer has yet to be named, but Baltimore County Police haven’t given up … Many of (Sister Cathy’s students) believe that Father John Maskell, the priest whose body (has been) exhumed, was either the killer or an accomplice. He was the school chaplain and guidance counselor, and several of these women say he sexually molested them(link is external).” By Brian O’Neill, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Death of Johnstown man, 31, claims a voice for abuse survivors
“Just over a year ago in a Hollidaysburg courtroom, Corey Leech took the stand and, in a poised and confident voice, testified in excruciating detail how a Franciscan friar began sexually abusing him(link is external) from his early teens. Mr. Leech gave voice to scores of victims of the late Stephen Baker in his testimony, which took place in the pretrial hearing of three Franciscan supervisors who face criminal charges for allegedly failing to protect children from the abusive friar.” By Peter Smith, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

SOUTH CAROLINA

Nearly 10 years later, conflict over $12 million settlement between Catholic diocese of Charleston and victims of sex abuse continues
“After nearly a decade, legal wrangling continues over a $12 million settlement paid to victims who were sexually abused by Catholic priests(link is external) in the Charleston area more than 30 years ago. A lawsuit on behalf of one of the victims, identified only as John Doe 10, was filed in September 2010, according to court documents. The plaintiff was molested at his church school and parish beginning in 1983 according to the suit.” By Gregory Yee, The Post and Courier

ARGENTINA

Roman Catholic nun allegedly helped priests sexually abuse deaf children in Argentinian school
“The nun, a woman named Kosaka Kumiko, of Japanese heritage but Argentine nationality, was arrested and charged Friday (May 5) on suspicion of helping priests sexually abuse children(link is external) at the Antonio Provolo Institute, a school for the hearing-impaired in the Mendoza province of Argentina, authorities said. She was also charged with physically abusing the students.” By Samantha Schmidt, Washington Post, in National Post

AUSTRALIA

Victoria police receives advice on investigation into Cardinal George Pell
“Victoria Police has received advice from the Director of Public Prosecutions about its investigation into Cardinal George Pell, days after fresh details of historic sex abuse allegations(link is external) were aired. Detectives from the Sano taskforce, the squad set up to investigate historic child abuse allegations, will now consider the DPP’s advice, police spokeswoman Creina O’Grady said on Tuesday night.” By Beau Donelly, The Age
Pope aide denies new Australia abuse claims,(link is external) By Agence France-Presse, in Daily Mail
How George Pell gazumped other bishops to claim credit for tackling child abuse in the church(link is external), By Louise Milligan, The Sydney Morning Herald

Child sex abuse victims to be compensated in Federal budget
(May 9, 2017) “Commonwealth child sex abuse survivors(link is external) will get access to payments of up to $150,000 under a new redress scheme to be live by mid next year. The Turnbull government tonight announced a $33.4 million commitment to establish the scheme that would provide abuse survivors with counseling, apologies from the organization responsible and financial compensation.” By Lanai Scarr, News Corp Australia Network, in Herald Sun

Australian bishops gather in the light of the royal commission
“The government and the Catholic Church both face difficulties when commending values(link is external). The difficulties will dog events during the next week in which both institutions are on public display — the bringing down of the budget and the meeting of the Australian Catholics Bishops Conference.” By Andrew Hamilton, EurekaStreet.com

Dave Joseph Perrett granted conditional bail to live in Armidale on historical sex abuse charges
“An ex-priest accused of molesting young boys(link is external) in the New England has been granted bail amid reports detectives have received another complaint. Since The Leader revealed David Joseph Perrett’s extradition to NSW on Friday (May 5), police have been contacted by other members of the public looking to speak to investigators. New England Detective Inspector Ann Joy told The Leader investigations were continuing.” By Breanna Chillingworth, The Northern Daily Leader

GREAT BRITAIN, SCOTLAND & WALES

Retired priest faces trial over abuse claims
“A former Catholic priest charged with sexually abusing children(link is external) in the 1970s and 80s is set to stand trial. Father Paul Moore, 81, who worked in Ayrshire, is also accused of abusing a student priest in the 1990s.” By BBC News

GUAM

Guam Catholic school sued
“After more than 60 sex-abuse lawsuits(link is external) named former priests as alleged perpetrators, a new lawsuit accuses a former Guam Catholic school teacher for the first time in recent years. And unlike the previously filed cases, in which the former priests no longer hold positions in the church that directly involve children, the newly accused still teaches music to youth, but he’s no longer in Guam.” By Mindy Aguon, The Guam Daily Post

Guam archbishop’s first sex abuse accuser testifies before Vatican tribunal
“Cardinal Raymond Leo Burke and the Vatican tribunal is wrapping up the discovery phase and is entering another phase in the groundbreaking canonical trial of Archbishop Anthony S. Apuron(link is external). John Toves, the first to publicly accuse Apuron in 2014 of sexual abuse of a minor, testified before the Vatican tribunal at the archbishop’s residence in San Francisco on Monday (May 8) (Tuesday, Guam time), about Apuron’s alleged sexual abuse of Toves’ cousin while the cousin was an altar boy at the Dulce Nombre de Maria Cathedral-Basilica in Hagåtña.” By Haidee Eugenio, Pacific Daily News, in USA TODAY
Guam archbishop’s accusers pray Vatican defrocks him for sex abuse(link is external), By Haidee Eugenio, Pacific Daily News, in USA TODAY

Another victim names Father Mannetta as abuser
“A 60th lawsuit has been filed(link is external) against the Archdiocese of Agana and former Guam priest Andrew Mannetta is named as the perpetrator. This is not the first time that Father Mannetta has been named, he was previously named in two other lawsuits that were filed in April. Like the first two victims to accuse Father Mannetta, the 60th plaintiff to file suit is only identified by initials C.C. According to the complaint, the sexual abuse happened in the early 1980s when C.C. was between the ages of 8 to 10.” By Janela Carrera, Pacific News Center News First

Vatican gets testimony from more Apuron accusers
“The Vatican tribunal working on Archbishop Anthony S. Apuron’s canonical penal trial will be hearing testimony in California from John Toves, the first person to publicly accuse Apuron in 2014 of sexual abuse(link is external), of his cousin. Led by Cardinal Raymond Leo Burke, the tribunal also received a written testimony from John Michael ‘Champ’ Quinata, alleging that Apuron raped his brother, the now deceased former altar boy Joseph Anthony ‘Sonny’ Quinata, when his brother was 9 years old.” By Haidee Eugenio, Pacific Daily News

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Voice of the Faithful Focus

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

VOTF LogoMay 8, 2017

TOP STORIES

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

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

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

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

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

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

POPE FRANCIS

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

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

PRIESTS

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

FUTURE OF THE CHURCH

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

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

“AMORIS LAETITIA”

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

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

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

CELIBACY

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

VOICES

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

CHURCH FINANCES

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

STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS REFORM

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

CLERGY CHILD SEXUAL ABUSE

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

ILLINOIS

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

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

LOUISIANA

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

MAINE

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

MASSACHUSETTS

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

MISSOURI

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

NEW YORK

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

RHODE ISLAND

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

CAMBODIA

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

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

CANADA

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

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

GREAT BRITAIN, SCOTLAND & WALES

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

GUAM

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

INDIA

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

IRELAND & NORTHERN IRELAND

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

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Voice of the Faithful Focus

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

VOTF LogoApril 21, 2017

TOP STORIES

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

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

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

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

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

ACCOUNTABILITY

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

PONTIFICAL COMMISSION FOR THE PROTECTION OF MINORS

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

POPE FRANCIS

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

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

BISHOPS

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

PRIESTS

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

CHURCH REFORM

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

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

FUTURE OF THE CHURCH

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

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

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

“AMORIS LAETITIA”

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

WOMEN IN THE CHURCH

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

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

CLERICALISM

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

MARRIED PRIESTS

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

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

VOICES

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

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

CHURCH FINANCES

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

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

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

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

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

STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS REFORM

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

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

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

CLERGY CHILD SEXUAL ABUSE

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

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

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

ILLINOIS

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

MASSACHUSETTS

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

MISSOURI

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

NEW YORK

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

PENNSYLVANIA

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

AUSTRALIA

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

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

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

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

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

BELGIUM

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

CANADA

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

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

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

COLOMBIA

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

GREAT BRITAIN, SCOTLAND & WALES

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

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

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

GUAM

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

IRELAND

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

SPAIN

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

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Voice of the Faithful Focus

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

March 17, 2017

TOP STORIES

Exclusive: Marie Collins responds to Cardinal Muller’s allegations about abuse commission
“Marie Collins of Ireland is a clergy sexual abuse survivor who resigned March 1(link is external) from Pope Francis’ Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors. Cardinal Gerhard Müller, the head of the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, gave an interview shortly following Collins’ resignation. Collins has written an open letter to Müller in response to that interview.” By Marie Collins, National Catholic Reporter

Five great achievements of Pope Francis’ first four years
“In four years, (PopeFrancis) has had a profound impact on the church(link is external). True, he has not changed the church’s position on birth control, celibacy, women priests and gay marriage, but he has fundamentally changed how we see the church in five ways.” By Thomas Reese, National Catholic Reporter
A Crux rundown of memorable moments from Francis’ first four years,(link is external) By Cruxnow.com
Editorial: What we celebrate about this pontificate(link is external), By National Catholic Reporter Editorial Board

Pope Francis signals openness to ordaining married men in some cases
“Pope Francis this week (Mar. 10) signaled receptiveness to appeals from bishops in the remote and overwhelmed corners of the Roman Catholic Church to combat a deepening shortage of priests by ordaining married men(link is external) who are already committed to the church. In an interview with a German newspaper, the pope made clear that he was not advocating an end to celibacy for current priests or those aspiring to join the clergy. But his seeming openness about the prospect of ordaining married men in places hardest hit by a dearth of priests was unusually explicit and brought the issue to the forefront.” By Jason Horowitz, The New York Times
Pope Francis discusses ordination of married men in response to priest shortage(link is external), By Kevin Clarke, America: The Jesuit Review
Pope Francis signals openness to ordaining married men(link is external), By Cruxnow.com Staff
Pope signals he’s open to married Catholic men becoming priests(link is external), By Delia Gallagher, CNN Rome
Svea Fraser, a VOTF founder, is interviewed on WGBH-TV’s ‘Greater Boston’ about Pope Francis’ comments on ordaining married Catholic men as priests(link is external), By WGBH-TV

Since 2013, Pope Francis has endeavored to shift church culture
“In January, the Vatican office that oversees Catholic priests, sisters and brothers in global religious orders had a plenary session … It was the first time in decades that women had been present at such a meeting, the result of a direct request to Pope Francis … Four years into this pontificate, many of the changes taking place(link is external) at the upper echelons of the church echo the sisters’ experience: Transformations build slowly as a culture shifts.” By Joshua J. McElwee, National Catholic Reporter

Editorial: Clergy culture sustains sex abuse scandal
“The resignation of Marie Collins from the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors is a turning point in Pope Francis’ pontificate(link is external). It cannot be seen any other way. For all the hope and promise that we find in Francis and his vision for the church, we believe his pontificate teeters on the brink of failure on the issue of sexual abuse by the clergy.” By National Catholic Reporter Editorial Staff

ACCOUNTABILITY

Religious have ‘moral responsibility’ for half cost of redress scheme
“Religious orders have a ‘moral responsibility’ to honor a commitment to pay half the cost of compensating those who were abused in their institutions(link is external), Minister for Education Richard Bruton has said … A Comptroller and Auditor General report has revealed religious orders have contributed just €192 million of the €1.5 billion the redress scheme cost to the end of 2015.” By Michael O’Regan, The Irish Times

Church strives to apply abuse lessons globally
“Fifteen years after the clergy sexual abuse crisis shook the Catholic Church in the United States, survivors of sexual abuse and their advocates believe recent developments in Rome and elsewhere show that not all Church leaders have internalized the scandal’s gravity(link is external). In addition to several ongoing investigations into alleged abuse, observers who are concerned with the Church’s direction on the issue point to the sudden resignation of Marie Collins from the Vatican commission Pope Francis created in 2014 to protect minors.” By Brian Fraga, Our Sunday Visitor

The mysterious case of the missing Vatican tribunal
“When abuse survivor Marie Collins resigned last week from the pope’s anti-abuse advisory board she cited the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith’s failure to implement a tribunal for trying bishops who cover up abuse(link is external). But was that idea actually scrapped, or simply modified to achieve the same result?” By Austen Ivereigh, Cruxnow.com

POPE FRANCIS

Pope Francis is pushing for change. Now it’s up to the Church to catch up
“There aren’t many jobs that can pluck a man in his late 70s out of obscurity and make him a global figure(link is external). That’s what happened four years ago, when a smiley Argentinian man appeared on a balcony in Rome and bade the world good evening. I was there in the crowd in St Peter’s Square, sandwiched between an Australian nun and a Canadian prelate. The nun and I had no idea who the man on the balcony was, but after a few minutes, the Canadian tumbled it. ‘That’s Bergoglio from Buenos Aires,’ he said. ‘What will he be like?’ the nun and I asked him. ‘No idea,’ said the bishop.” By Joanna Moorhead, The Guardian

Cardinal Cupich: Francis is giving new life to Vatican II reforms
“In his four years as the leader of the global Catholic Church, Pope Francis has been giving new life to the reforms of the Second Vatican Council(link is external), says Chicago Cardinal Blase Cupich. In an NCR interview in advance of the March 13 anniversary of Francis’ election, the cardinal said the pontiff is ‘reinvigorating that experience of the church’ that people had following the reforms of the 1962-65 council. ‘As I read the reaction of people to him I think back to how people were responding to the council with that same sense of hopefulness and joy, pride about the church that we saw at that time,’ said Cupich.” By Joshua J. McElwee, National Catholic Reporter

Cardinal Nichols: Pope Francis’ ‘toughness’ will see the Catholic Church through reforms
“The head of the Catholic Church in the United Kingdom, Cardinal Vincent Nichols, says one way to combat ‘a corruption of the democratic system’ that he believes can accompany this strain of politics is for politicians to model their rhetoric on that of another European leader, Pope Francis(link is external). ‘The biggest challenge in political leadership is not to play to people’s fear but to genuinely appeal to what is best in them and to lead from what is best, not from what is worst,’ the cardinal told ‘America.’” By Michael O’Loughlin, America: The Jesuit Review

Pope Francis has reconnected the church with Vatican II
“Reconnecting the church ‘with the energy of the Second Vatican Council,’ may be the pope’s greatest achievement(link is external), Cardinal Donald Wuerl of the Archdiocese of Washington said in an exclusive interview with ‘America’ as the fourth anniversary of the pope’s election approaches on March 13.” By Gerard O’Connell, America: The Jesuit Review

Does Pope Francis need to rethink improvisational management?
“The resignation of the lone remaining survivor of clerical abuse from Pope Francis’s anti-abuse commission raises questions about the pontiff’s improvisational management style(link is external). If he really can’t get what he wants from the Vatican bureaucracy, is it maybe time to try a different way of getting it?” By Father Raymond J. De Souza, Cruxnow.com

Pope Francis’s American critics
“Catholic conservatives come in many colors across the world—traditionalists who love the old Mass and its trappings, nostalgic restorationists who opine for greater deference to the hierarchy and moral norms, fierce anti-communists who cozy up to oligarchs—and even, on some fringes, the last gasp of the blood-and-soil nationalists. But while the American opponents of Pope Francis(link is external) certainly embrace some of these positions, their enmity seems to be motivated by something else entirely—an ideology of economic libertarianism that exalts free markets and puts “economic freedom” far ahead of solidarity.” By Anthony Annett, Commonweal

PRIESTS

Former Twin Cities vicar general leaves the priesthood
“A former vicar general of the St. Paul-Minneapolis archdiocese who resigned early in the region’s three-year-plus clergy sexual abuse scandal(link is external), has now left the priesthood altogether. Peter Laird in January was granted by Pope Francis a ‘request for laicization,’ or dispensation from the obligations of the clerical state, according to a March 10 statement from Twin Cities Archbishop Bernard Hebda. Laird had made the request in January 2014. This May would have marked his 20th anniversary of his ordination.” By Brian Roewe, National Catholic Reporter

What does it actually mean for a priest to be ‘laicized’?
“When reports came out recently about Pope Francis’ decision to modify the penalties for several priests found guilty of abusing minors(link is external), the question arose as to whether the Pope was being too merciful in his decision. Another concern was whether priests found guilty of abuse of minors would continue to be dismissed from the clerical state, or ‘laicized.’ To address these issues and clear up some of the grey area on this topic, CNA spoke with a canonist, Fr. Damián Astigueta, S.J.” By Elise Harris, Catholic News Agency

CHURCH REFORM

Guidance on Catholic church reform might not be from Rome
“This article was triggered by some interesting occasional reading about the Irish Catholic Church, the prolonged state of the deepening decline in practice and enthusiasm, along with the seemingly inept and ineffective efforts to stem the determined and ubiquitous tide … ‘Indeed, a thorough-going repudiation of clericalism in its various non-spiritual(link is external)dimensions would seem to be a necessary requirement for an effective re-positioning of the institutional Catholic Church in Ireland at the beginning of the new millennium,’ writes James S Donnelly, Jr., in ‘Christianity in Ireland: Revisiting the Story.’” By Michael O. Murchu, The Irish Times

PONTIFICAL COMMISSION FOR THE PROTECTION OF MINORS

Additional media interest in Marie Collins’ resignation from the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors and Cardinal Gerhard Mueller’s comments —
 — Abuse survivor Marie Collins: ‘Resistance’ from CDF led to my resignation from papal commission(link is external), By Gerard O’Connell, America: The Jesuit Review
Problem with anti-abuse panel isn’t survivors, it’s the Roman Curia(link is external), By Marie Collins, Cruxnow.com
Cardinal O’Malley says voices of clergy sexual abuse survivors are critical(link is external), By Lisa Wangsness, The Boston Globe
Cardinal (Parolin) says abuse survivor quit to ‘shake the tree(link is external),’ By Ines San Martin, Cruxnow.com
Pope should ditch top cardinal over abuse row(link is external), By Agence France-Presse on GMANetwork.com
Cardinal Muller’s comments on Marie Collins resignation are rejected(link is external), By Greg Daly, The Irish Catholic

WOMEN IN THE CHURCH

Sister Simone Campbell: Women can bring about a ‘contemplative renewal’ in the church
“Sister Simone Campbell, a member of the Sisters of Social Service and executive director of Network, participated in the Voices of Faith conference in the Vatican on International Women’s Day, March 8. Afterwards, in an interview with ‘America,’ she shared her reflections on this experience, on the place of women in the church(link is external) and on her lobbying work in Washington, D.C., for the pressing issues of health care and migrants.” By Gerard O’Connell, America: The Jesuit Review
At Vatican, Sister Simone Campbell blasts ‘male power(link is external),’ By Josephine McKenna, Religion News Service

Here’s what the Vatican is doing for International Women’s Day
“‘Voices of Faith’ might be the most extraordinary event you’ve never heard of(link is external). Now in its fourth year, this annual gathering lives up to its name: It serves to amplify the voices of women from around the world who live out their faith through works of mercy and justice. Women from many countries, languages, cultures and sectors come forward in their shared mission—to protect the dignity and rights of women and children. They share their stories and speak to a shared vision, emphasizing that their work must not be in vain.” By Nicole Perone, America: The Jesuit Review

Voices of Faith: women and leadership
“The fourth annual Voices of Faith storytelling event(link is external) takes place in the Vatican on Wednesday March 8th, which is also International Women’s Day. The initiative was started by Catholic philanthropist Chantal Goetz as she puts it, ‘to enhance the dignity, participation and leadership of women and girls through persistent and good storytelling.’ Voices of Faith is supported by the Fidel Goetz Foundation and partnered this year by the Jesuit Refugee Service.” By Vatican Radio
Women gather at the heart of the Vatican to stir things up(link is external), By Inés San Martin, Cruxnow.com

VATICAN

Vatican ignores child protection proposals approved by pope
“It has been said of some senior civil servants, in Ireland as elsewhere, that they believe governments are elected to carry out their will. Such Sir Humphrey-like attitudes are not confined to civil societies. They also exist at the Vatican where, inevitably, similar senior bureaucrats go one better(link is external). They believe the pope has been chosen by God to carry out their will. Should a pope resist, though they prefer to think him misled, they will show him the way. He may propose, but they dispose. Or nothing happens.” By Patsy McGarry, The Irish Times

CELIBACY

Will Pope Francis allow married men to become priests
“In an interview with the German magazine ‘Die Zeit’ this week (Mar. 10), Pope Francis spoke about the Roman Catholic Church’s priest shortage, which has left Catholics in many rural areas without a clerical leader. The interviewer asked whether viri probati, or married men with a proven fidelity to the Church, might be able to join the priesthood. ‘We must think, yes, viri probati are a possibility(link is external),’ said Francis, according to a translation published by the Catholic News Agency. ‘But then we must also consider what tasks they could perform, for example in isolated communities.’” By Emma Green, Atlantic
Married Catholic priests? There are about 120 in the United States already. Here’s how.(link is external) By Alene Tchekmedyian, Los Angeles Times

Pope Francis has some ideas on how to fix the priest shortage
“In a newly-released interview Pope Francis discussed the shortage of vocations to the priesthood, saying the first response must be prayer. He also mentioned working with youth, the low birthrate, and the ordination of married men(link is external) … He called the lack of priests, to the point that some parishes are cared for by female ‘community leaders’ in Switzerland, ‘a problem that the Church must resolve.’ By Catholic News Agency

Why does the Catholic Church require its priests to be celibate and is this going to change
“Pope Francis has given a wide-ranging interview to the German publication Die Zeit, where his comments on the issue of married clergy are generating conversation and questions about the Catholic practice of requiring priests to refrain from marriage(link is external).” By Zac Davis, America: The Jesuit Review

VOICES

Drop the ‘cliché’ of a reforming pope v. Vatican foes, cardinal says
“German Cardinal Gerhard Muller, whose Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith was cited by abuse survivor Marie Collins as part of the reason for her resignation from Pope Francis’s anti-abuse commission, has fired back, saying it’s time to drop the ‘cliché’ of a reforming pope being hobbled(link is external) by internal opposition in the Vatican.” By Inés San Martin, Cruxnow.com

CHURCH FINANCES

Guam’s Catholic Church embraces financial transparency
“The Archdiocese of Agana, which last year spent about $213,000 more than it collected, is trying to restore public confidence in its leadership as it asks residents to donate to the archdiocese and its programs during the current Lenten season. The archdiocese has embraced financial transparency and accountability(link is external) to help rebuild that trust, Coadjutor Archbishop Michael Jude Byrnes and other officials said as the church deals with a deficit and at least $125 million in clergy sex abuse lawsuits.” By Haidee Eugenio, Pacific Daily News

Despite 2015 deficit, progress made in implementing reforms, Vatican says
“Although the Holy See reported a deficit of 12.4 million euros ($13.1 million) in 2015, significant progress has been made(link is external) in the budgeting process and carrying out economic reform, the Vatican said. Vatican City State, on the other hand, which has a separate budget, reported a surplus of 59.9 million euros ($63.4 million) ‘largely due to continued revenue from cultural activities, especially those linked to the museums,’ a statement from the Vatican Secretariat for the Economy said March 4.” By Junno Arocho Esteves, Cruxnow.com

New Ulm diocese third in Minnesota to file for bankruptcy
“A third Catholic diocese in Minnesota facing clergy sexual abuse lawsuits has declared bankruptcy, as New Ulm filed on March 3 for financial(link is external) reorganization under Chapter 11 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code. In announcing the decision, the diocese cited the 101 lawsuits brought against it during the three-year window into the state’s statutes of limitations on civil cases involving sexual abuse of minors, which was opened by the 2013 Minnesota Child Victims Act. That window closed May 25, 2016.” By Brian Roewe, National Catholic Reporter

STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS REFORM

Victims, Roman Catholic Church spar over N.Y. sex abuse bill
“New York legislation to relax one of the nation’s most restrictive statutes of limitations on child molestation victims(link is external) continues to stall under pressure from the Roman Catholic Church and other opponents. The bill has circled the drain in Albany for a decade, but victims and advocates are optimistic this year because they’ve gained a key supporter, Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo. The fate of the Child Victims Act could rest with Senate Leader John Flanagan, a Long Island Republican, who supporters say has refused to meet to discuss the bill.” By David Klepper, Associated Press, in Minneapolis Star Tribune

CLERGY CHILD SEXUAL ABUSE

The Vatican drags its feet on accountability for clergy sex abuse
“When Pope Francis established a commission in 2014 to address sexual abuse by clergy members, he picked two survivors, victims themselves(link is external), to serve on the 17-member panel. Now, three years later, both are gone, having denounced foot-dragging and official intransigence inside the Vatican.” By The Washington Post Editorial Board

Reflections from the frontline in the war on Catholic child sex abuse
“The presentation of victim impact statements is one of the most powerful and revealing parts of a child sexual abuse trial(link is external). Each one is different, a unique voice speaking out, usually after decades of painful, secretive silence. But there is a terrible consistency in the effect the abuse had on these people’s lives.” By Jonathan Flynn, ABC News Australia

Hear no evil: How culture of resistance may hinder child protection
“When a child-protection advocate resigned from a papal advisory board in early March, she did so because of growing frustration with persistent resistance and a ‘toxic’ sense of superiority from some in the Roman Curia(link is external). A number of church leaders on the front lines promoting child protection policies have also long noted the biggest challenge they face is a cultural one — an aversion to the unknown, playing it safe rather than speaking up, and denial and defensiveness to protect an institution over a possible victim.” By Carol Glatz, Catholic News Service

The end of Pope Francis’ zero tolerance?
“Sexual abuse victim Marie Collins has resigned from the Pontifical Commission(link is external) for the Protection of Minors. CDF prefect, Cardinal Gerhard Müller has contested her accusations.” By Nicolas Senèze, La Croix International

OREGON

Judge sentences Eugene priest to 90 days in jail
“A Eugene priest was sentenced to three years of probation and 90 days in jail Thursday (Mar. 9) for hiring a teenage girl for sex(link is external), according to the Lane County District Attorney’s Office. Erik Hasselman, chief deputy district attorney, said Daniel MacKay was sentenced to 30 days in jail for each of his three counts of prostitution behavior, totaling 90 days.” By KVAL-TV

PENNSYLVANIA

Catholic priest pleads guilty to child porn charges in Wayne County
“A Roman Catholic priest from New Jersey pleaded guilty Friday (Mar. 10) to child pornography charges(link is external) in Wayne County. In an orange jumpsuit, Father Kevin Gugliotta went into court ready to plead guilty. ‘Whenever you have a person who is in a position of faith, respect, it’s upsetting to the public to know that person abused that position by doing what he did,’ Wayne County District Attorney Janine Edwards said.” By Wayne Deabill, WYOU-TV

Editorial: Bishop’s plan good first step in long journey toward justice for victims
“The Roman Catholic Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown this past week (Mar. 10) pledged to tighten guidelines for dealing with priests accused of sexual abuse(link is external), and to have an outside committee provide oversight for the welfare of children. How tragic that the church – any church – must take steps to protect innocent children from the clutches of pedophiles disguised as men of God.” By Tribune-Democrat Editorial Board

Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown details sweeping changes for child sex abuse
“The Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown announced sweeping changes Monday (Mar. 6) aimed at protecting children from sexual abuse(link is external) and ensuring that all allegations are immediately reported to law enforcement. The diocese also will provide sexual abuse victims with access to counseling and support services. ‘One case of sexual abuse is too many,’ Bishop Mark L. Bartchak said during an afternoon news conference. ‘We need to repent in that and make sure it doesn’t happen again.’” By Ron Musselman, WJAC-TV

Abuse survivors: Church leaders failing victims
Survivors of sexual abuse at the hands of local Roman Catholic clergy(link is external) don’t believe much has changed since last year when a statewide grand jury revealed that about 50 religious leaders abused hundreds of children over the past 40 years in the Altoona-Johnstown diocese. About 10 members of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests gathered Wednesday for a demonstration in front of the diocese administration building on Logan Boulevard.” By Russ O’Reilly, Altoona Mirror

WISCONSIN

Court finds probable cause in case against former St. Pius priest
“The case against Robert Marsicek will continue after a Milwaukee County judge ruled that there is probable cause to move the proceedings forward. The former St. Pius Church and School priest known as ‘Father Bob’ is accused of three counts of felony first-degree sexual assault of a child(link is external). He appeared before a judge as part of a preliminary hearing at the Milwaukee County Courthouse March 6.” By Chris Barlow, Wauwatosa Now

AUSTRALIA

Research finds lack of coordination in child sexual abuse prevention
“The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse has released a new research report that finds there are limited programs and services to help prevent child sexual abuse(link is external) and those that do exist are not well coordinated. The Royal Commission contracted researchers from the Institute of Child Protection Studies, Australian Catholic University, to examine the potential service needs of a range of target groups, with a focus on individuals concerned that they or someone they know may sexually harm or abuse a child.” By Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse

TJHC head warns Vatican may be “backsliding” on abuse reform
“The Catholic Church in Australia could end up as a ‘marginalized rump’ unless there is real change to an institutional culture hell-bent on self-protection and self-preservation(link is external), Truth Justice and Healing Council CEO Francis Sullivan says.” By CathNews.com

Catholic priest Gerald Ridsdale likely to plead guilty to child sex charges
“Catholic priest Gerald Ridsdale looks set to plead guilty to dozens of child sex charges(link is external), a court has heard. The 82-year-old was charged with 36 child sex offences in January, and police have since served him with two additional charges.” By Shannon Deery, Herald Sun

Catholic Church seeks to rebuild after pain and scandal of child sex abuse
“The leader of nearly 160,000 Catholics in the Canberra region sees light among the darkness of child sexual abuse revelations(link is external) and hopes to heal and console. Archbishop Christopher Prowse, who recently appeared before the Royal Commission and last week faced calls to resign, likened himself to biblical figure Job in the ash heap and conceded he had needed emotional support to deal with the unfolding tragedy.” By Michael Corey, The Canberra Times

CANADA

Retired Ottawa priest Barry McGrory faces new abuse charges
“Rev. Barry McGrory, 82, has been charged with two counts of indecent assault on a male(link is external), and two counts of gross indecency. The incidents — two complainants are involved — are alleged to have occurred at Immaculate Heart of Mary Church on Alta Vista Drive, and St. Philip Parish in Richmond.” By Andrew Duffy, Ottawa Citizen

West-end priest accused of molesting minors
“Following his third arrest on assorted sex charges(link is external) that are alleged to have been committed between 1994 and 2011, police investigators now believe 56 year-old Brian Boucher – a Catholic priest – may have assaulted several more boys (minors) over the past decade and they want to hear about it.” By P.A. Sexigny, The Suburban

Canadian files lawsuit, says Pius X Secular Institute ignored abuse
“A $367,000 (US$274,000) lawsuit filed in Quebec Superior Court charged the Pius X Secular Institute and its officials of ignoring abuse that occurred on the institute grounds(link is external) in Quebec City in the 1970s and 1980s. Andre Lachance, 48, filed the suit claiming he was sexually abused by his uncle, Jean-Paul Lachance, a lay missionary and member of the institute. Andre Lachance, then a boy, claimed the abuse occurred when he was visiting his uncle, who committed suicide in 2014, after having been accused by two different plaintiffs of indecent exposure.” By Philippe Vaillancourt, Catholic News Service, in National Catholic Reporter

GUAM

Nude photos alleged in latest clergy sex abuse lawsuit
“One of two additional clergy sex abuse lawsuits(link is external) filed Wednesday (Mar. 8) said a now-deceased priest kept nude photos of ‘numerous altar boys’ and priests ‘committing sexual acts on minors.’ Tomas Afaisen De Plata and Richard Daniel Scroggs’ separate complaints bring to 26 the total number of clergy sexual abuse lawsuits filed thus far against the Archdiocese of Agana and Catholic clergy.” By Haidee Eugenio, Pacific Daily News

Catholic Church of Guam sets up $1 million abuse settlement fund
“The Roman Catholic Church of Guam has established a $1 million settlement fund for victims of child sexual abuse(link is external). In a news conference with his nine-member archdiocese finance council, Archbishop Michael J. Byrnes said the funds will become available as soon as the archdiocese has put in place an administrator who will be supported by an independent third party. After these are in place, Byrnes said victims can contact the administrator directly. He added victims’ confidentiality will be respected.” By Grace Garces Bordallo, Associated Press, on ABCNews.go.com

INDIA

Indian Catholic priest arrested for raping minor
“Roman Catholic diocese in southern India is considering using security cameras and other measures to contain sexual abuse by priests(link is external) after a vicar was arrested on charges of raping a teenage girl, a spokesman said.” By The Standard

Church will not protect priests guilty of sexual abuse
“In a sign that ecclesiastical authorities are finally ready to admit the magnitude of the problem, Cardinal George Mar Alencherry, head of the Syro Malabar church, said on Saturday (Mar. 4) that the church unequivocally condemns clergy members involved in sexual abuse and child molestation(link is external) cases and will under no circumstance protect the accused.” By The Times of India

‘Wayward priests’ accused of sexual crimes trouble Kerala’s Catholic churches
“A string of sexual assault allegations(link is external) involving clergymen is turning out to be a major embarrassment for the Catholic Church in Kerala. What is more worrying is that such incidents are popping up even after Pope Francis’s call to enforce ‘zero tolerance’ towards sexual crimes. The latest in the series is the rape of a 16-year-old girl allegedly by a 48-year-old priest who was active in social circles in north Kerala. Shockingly, there was a systemic attempt to cover up the whole incident and bail out the priest involved in the crime.” By Ramesh Babu, Hindustan Times

IRELAND

Pressure mounts on Church to ‘pay up’ on sexual abuse redress as Taoiseach says ‘get on with it’
“Taoiseach Enda Kenny is the latest political figure to weigh in and tell the Catholic Church that they have an obligation to pay the compensation(link is external) they owe to survivors of abuse.” By The Journal

Ex-priest loses appeal to pope on dismissal for ‘abusing minors’
“A former priest in the Diocese of Cloyne in Co Cork has lost a personal appeal to Pope Francis against his dismissal from the priesthood after the pontiff found a canonical court was right to defrock him for ‘the crime of abusing minors(link is external).’ Dan Duane (78) had already lost two appeals against a decision by the Canonical Court in Ireland to dismiss him from the priesthood after it found he had abused five girls while serving as a priest in north Cork in the 1970s and 1980s.” By Barry Roche, The Irish Times

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