New Hampshire Catholic Bishop John McCormack to agree to the New Hampshire attorney general’s request for a fourth state audit
It took the pressure of an impending court hearing this coming Monday to force New Hampshire Catholic Bishop John McCormack to agree to the New Hampshire attorney general’s request for a fourth state audit. McCormack had declined since 2006 to commit to such an audit, and last May refused outright to cooperate with the state after December 31, 2007.
McCormack has engaged in a pattern of obstruction since December 2002 when he signed a plea bargain agreement that prevented prosecution of the Diocese for criminally endangering children, with perjury as part of the indictment. The agreement called for five annual audits through December 2007, to assure effective implementation of the Diocese’s sexual abuse policy. McCormack’s unsuccessful court challenge of the comprehensive audit the state desired delayed the process for over two years, and resulted in the decision by the state to reduce the number to four.
The need for state audits is clear from comparing their results to Church audits by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) and Diocesan Review Board (DRB). For instance the last state audit in 2006 found numerous lapses in documentation verifying screening and training records, no evidence of national sex offender registry checks, required in addition to state checks; and verification forms with dates for 100% compliance before compliance was actually achieved.
By contrast, the USCCB 2006 audit comprised two sentences noting full compliance with the Dallas Charter, and that the auditors depended on “the completeness and accuracy” of information provided by the Diocese. In 2005, the state found that the “level of compliance” by the Diocese was “inconsistent at best,” with ineffectiveness across the board. The USCCB wrote only a single paragraph indicating success, save the need to train additional children.
“Voice of the Faithful applauds Attorney General Kelly Ayotte and her staff for their steadfast resolve to protect the children of New Hampshire”, said Carolyn Disco, survivor support chairman of the state’s affiliates. Bishop McCormack also deserves credit for finally accepting his obligation to fulfill the terms of the agreement he signed with the state.
John Moynihan (617) 558-5252, (617) 680 2131 ©
About Voice of the Faithful (VOTF) VOTF is a worldwide movement of concerned mainstream Catholics formed in response to the clergy sexual abuse crisis. The group’s mission is to provide a prayerful voice, attentive to the Spirit, through which the Faithful can actively participate in the governance and guidance of the Catholic Church. Its goals are to support survivors of clergy sexual abuse, support priests of integrity, and shape structural change within the Catholic Church in full accordance and harmony with Church teaching.
New Clergy Sexual Abuse Revelations Prompt VOTF to Reaffirm Its 10 Steps to Resolve Scandal
NEWTON, Mass. – Fresh, seemingly daily, revelations of clergy sexual abuse continue roiling the worldwide Roman Catholic Church and have prompted Voice of the Faithful (http://www.votf.org) to reaffirm its 10-step program to help resolve the scandal and institute church reforms.
Two recent revelations in particular demonstrate the scandal’s broad extent and underscore the need to heed suggestions like those VOTF has made for resolving it, no matter what Church hierarchy claims about the sexual abuse scandal being behind us.
In one such revelation, Newark Archbishop John J. Myers was cited in a Newark Star Ledger story earlier this month for “shielding at least four priests accused of sexual abuse” since 2002, when he and the nation’s bishops gathered in Dallas to “craft a policy intended to cleanse the priesthood of pedophiles and restore trust among shaken American Catholics.” In ratifying the Dallas Charter, the Ledger continues, he and “his colleagues promised a new era of reform and transparency.”
Also earlier this month, stories began circulating about extensive new claims of clergy sexual abuse in the Netherlands. A New York Times story declared “an investigative commission showed that almost 2,000 people had made complaints of sexual or physical abuse against the church, in a country with only four million Catholics.” The Times also said, “One central accusation in the Netherlands is that, as in other countries, known abusers were simply transferred to new parishes.”
VOTF also remains realistic about the time frame for change in the Church. Immediate action is required on steps like protecting children, supporting survivors and holding accountable all who facilitate abuse; while other steps will take time, such as inclusive governance structures and men and women laity in positions of authority.
Voice of the Faithful
Voice of the Faithful is a lay organization formed in 2002 in response to the sexual abuse crisis in the Catholic Church. Started in the basement of a church in Wellesley, Mass., Voice of the Faithful has expanded worldwide to comprise more than 150 Parish Voice affiliates and 30,000 members. The entire organization is committed to helping the Catholic Church. More information is at http://www.votf.org.
Nick Ingala, Public Relations Director
781-5593360, 617-291-3495 Cell
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Voice of the Faithful Emily & Rosemary Fund for Women in the Church Awards $10,000 Grants
NEWTON, Mass. – Two women who reported losing their positions because of discrimination have received the first grants awarded by the Voice of the Faithful’s Emily & Rosemary Fund for Women in the Church. The $10,000 grants were awarded to Carolyn Johnson, Ed.D., of Chestnut Ridge, N.Y., and Karen DeFilippis of Colleyville, Texas.
Lynette Petruska, formerly a Roman Catholic nun and now a St. Louis attorney, established the Emily & Rosemary Fund last year. The fund was established to support women who lose employment in the Roman Catholic Church as a result of injustice or discrimination and to help women who are working to bring about justice and equality in the Church. Petruska said she experienced injustice and discrimination after opposing sexual harassment and other sexual misconduct by priests at Gannon University, Erie, Penn., where she was appointed the first female chaplain in 1999. She filed a lawsuit against the university and Erie’s bishop.
“I was fortunate to have a profession to which I could return, but many women serving the church find themselves and their families at great risk when targeted by discriminatory practices or when they stand up to injustice,” she said during a ceremony last year establishing the fund.
In her grant application, Johnson said her position as a Fordham University Graduate School of Religion assistant dean included helping to run and expand admissions and enrollment. After four months of sex discrimination and mistreatment, Johnson said, she filed a complaint with Fordham’s equal employment opportunity office and was fired a week later. She will use the grant for legal fees and living expenses while she seeks another position.
Expressing her gratitude to VOTF, Johnson said, “I am most grateful for the generous financial and moral support that Lynette Petruska and VOTF have extended to me and other women faced with the dilemma of risking their livelihoods by speaking the truth.”
DeFilippis was a pastoral associate in the Roman Catholic diocese of Ft. Worth, Texas, for 25 years. In her grant application, she said she was dismissed primarily because her degree from a Jesuit university was considered too liberal for the current climate of the church. She was dismissed without severance or unemployment compensation. DeFilippis will use her grant to further her education and obtain a master’s degree in social work or a doctorate in pastoral care.
“God is a God of liberation and has sent a holy chorus of angels in the form of VOTF to help get my feet on firm ground and move forward in service of the reign of God,” DeFilippis said. “My heart is filled with gratitude for the work you do and for this new path of light that you have shown to me.”
Dan Bartley, VOTF president, said, “We’re extremely grateful to Lynette for making it possible to ease somewhat the effects of discrimination that women can experience within a church we are striving to remake more in Christ’s image. Our fear is that such cases are not the exception but the rule. We have much work to do to reform the church’s attitudes toward women.”
The application process for the next round of Emily & Rosemary Fund for Women grants begins Dec. 15, 2010, when applications will be available at http://www.votf.org. Completed applications must be returned to VOTF, P.O. Box 423, Newton, MA 02464, by Feb. 1, 2011. The grants will be awarded March 30, 2011.
Voice of the Faithful
Voice of the Faithful is a lay organization formed in 2002 in response to the clergy sexual abuse crisis in the Roman Catholic Church. Started in a Wellesley, Mass., church basement, Voice of the Faithful has expanded worldwide to comprise more than 150 Parish Voice affiliates and 30,000 members. VOTF is committed to helping the Catholic Church. More information is available at http://www.votf.org.
Nick Ingala, Public Relations Director
Voice of the Faithful, 781-559-3360, firstname.lastname@example.org
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Voice of the Faithful Assesses Archbishop Timothy Dolan’s Election to U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Presidency
NEWTON, Mass. – Leaders of Voice of the Faithful, the 30,000-strong organization committed to reforming the Catholic Church, today expressed hope for its reform initiatives as Archbishop Timothy Dolan of New York was elected U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops president.
“We’re hopeful,” said Elia Marnik, VOTF board chair, “for continued positive dialogue with bishops in the Catholic Church on reform VOTF has worked long and hard to accomplish.”
According to Marnik, Dolan’s election could mean a more conservative approach to reform issues, but his tenure as archbishop of New York has promised openness and flexibility. “If Archbishop Dolan continues to be open to dialogue on VOTF issues, such as governance, bishop selection, clerical celibacy, the role of women in the Church and especially accountability surrounding clerical child sexual abuse, then VOTF sees the opportunity for steady progress on Church reform,” Marnik said.
VOTF president Dan Bartley said, “As faithful Catholics, we expect spiritual leadership from our bishops rather than secrecy and cover-ups. It is essential that the head of the USCCB supports the lay input and responsibility called for by Vatican II. It is equally essential that the bishops break the atmosphere of secrecy and the assumption that clergy exist far above the laity and do not answer for their own failures. That attitude has been a major factor in the clergy child sexual abuse scandal. That attitude will not keep the Church alive for the faithful or for our children and grandchildren.”
He added that Dolan’s record in handling clergy child sexual abuse cases as Archbishop of Milwaukee, while showing some compassion, was not stellar, and his profile on that issue in New York has been low key.
Dolan’s election was the first time in 50 years that a USCCB vice president has been on the ballot for president but not elected. Bishop Gerald Kicanas of Tucson, as USCCB vice president, was expected by custom to succeed Cardinal Francis George of Chicago, but lost on the third ballot when Dolan received 54 percent of the vote to Kicanas’ 46 percent. Dolan will serve a three-year term.
Voice of the Faithful
Voice of the Faithful is a lay organization formed in 2002 in response to the sexual abuse crisis in the Catholic Church. Started in the basement of a church in Wellesley, Mass., Voice of the Faithful has expanded worldwide with more than 150 Parish Voice affiliates and 30,000 members. The entire organization is committed to helping the Catholic Church. More information is available at http://www.votf.org.