Keep the Faith, Change the Church.

Voice of the Faithful Focus, Apr. 1, 2016

Highlighting issues we face working together
                            to Keep the Faith, Change the Church

TOP STORIES

The Catholic Church puts one foot forward on the path to including women
“In her 50th Easter season as a nun, Sister Antonia Sanchez participated in something new. For the past 49 years, since she joined the order of Religious Mary Immaculate at age 16, Sanchez has watched priests wash the feet of men on Holy Thursday. This week, Sanchez was before the altar herself at the nation's pre-eminent Catholic shrine. She was the one removing her shoes and socks. And then the pope's representative to America washed her feet.” By Julie Zauzmer, The Washington Post, in The Salt Lake Tribune

A pedophilia scandal is engulfing the oldest Catholic institution in France
“A miracle did not occur in Lourdes last week. Instead, on March 15, the French media descended on the pilgrimage site in southwestern France, which is hosting a conference of the country's bishops. The journalists came to grill Cardinal Philippe Barbarin, who, as bearer of the ancient title ‘primat des Gaules,’ is France's most prominent Catholic cleric. As the cardinal of Lyon, France's second largest city, he runs a diocese rocked by a series of sexual abuse scandals.” By Robert Zaretsky, The Week

Shepherds’ accountability when the flock is abused
“Thirteen years ago, as a national scandal raged over the rape and molestation of school children by hundreds of Catholic priests, a panel of leading laity appointed by the national hierarchy to look into church responsibility candidly warned ‘there must be consequences’ for the bishops who led years of cover-up. The bishops’ marked failure to follow through since by investigating fellow superiors was brought home this month in a scathing grand jury report in Pennsylvania.” By Francis X. Cline, The New Times

Vatican’s abuse commission needs proper funding
“… Pope Francis established the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, because, he said, ‘Many painful actions have caused a profound examination of conscience for the entire Church, leading us to request forgiveness from the victims and from our society for the harm that has been caused … Marie Collins is reported to have said recently that the current funding arrangements were inadequate. It has also been reported that the commission has even been told to consider raising their own funds to complete the work.” By Nuala O’Loan, The Irish Catholic

‘I only answer to God. Bishops don’t bother me.’
“The three veteran investigators were speechless. For just a few months, they had waded into a probe of clergy sex abuse in central Pennsylvania. They didn't yet know much. But they had heard about a man near Altoona named George Foster. Foster, they were told, had long been "making noise" about eliminating abusive priests in the Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown - writing letters in the local papers, meeting with church leaders. Daniel Dye, the deputy attorney general leading the investigation, knew he was someone worth meeting.” By Maria Panaritis, Philly.com

ACCOUNTABILITY

More religious orders may not be accountable to the Catholic Church
“Even as the leadership of a Hollidaysburg-based Franciscan province is called to account in criminal court for its handling of a sex offender, the case is raising a broader question: Just how accountable are male religious orders for following the U.S. Catholic Church's zero-tolerance policy adopted in 2002? Such orders are typically authorized by the pope and consist of priests and brothers who make specific vows, typically to poverty, chastity and obedience, with some orders having additional vows.” By Peter Smith, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Catholic bishop calls for resignation of bishops who failed to address child sexual abuse
“An Australian bishop has called on Pope Francis to request the resignation of every bishop who has failed to properly address cases of child sexual abuse. Roman Catholic Bishop Geoffrey Robinson said there needed to be "death and resurrection" in the church this Easter to restore trust and credibility.” By RN TV on ABC News Australia
 -- Bishop Geoffrey Robinson: extended interview, By RN TV

Real action on abuse crisis is needed
“‘Spotlight’ was awarded an Oscar for the best motion picture of 2016 and it more than deserves such recognition. It brings a whole new level of attention to this outstanding film and the problems it addresses especially the abuse of authority in the Roman Catholic Church. It is a wake-up call for people in the United States and in countries around the world to recognize the egregious damage done to children and deal with the epidemic, the pandemic really, that childhood sexual abuse is.” By Sister Maureen Paul Turlish, Delaware County Pennsylvania Daily Times

(Pontifical College) Josephinum proposes admission changes to week out predators
“In the wake of the arrest of a former student, the leader a Roman Catholic seminary on the Far North Side has recommended a trio of admissions policy changes, including the creation of an applications database that would be available to seminaries nationwide. The Pontifical College Josephinum announced the proposals publicly on Monday (Mar. 21), about seven weeks after former Josephinum seminarian Joel A. Wright, 23, was arrested in San Diego on federal allegations that he planned to travel to Mexico to rape 1- to 3-year-old girls.” By JoAnne Viviano, The Columbus Dispatch

WOMEN IN THE CHURCH

A place at the table
“When cardinals and bishops entered the Vatican meeting hall for the Synod on the Family in October 2015, they walked past a table inviting them to take a free copy of the book, Catholic Women Speak: Bringing Our Gifts to the Table. The book was edited by the Catholic Women Speak Network and published by Paulist Press. Three hundred books were delivered to the hall, and they were nearly all taken. That felt like the miraculous culmination of an odyssey that began on a wet British Sunday afternoon in December 2014, when I impetuously started a Facebook group called “Catholic Women Speak.” By Tina Beattie, Commonweal

BISHOPS

Francis appoints Hebda to replace Nienstedt in St. Paul-Minneapolis
“Pope Francis has appointed a new leader for a Catholic archdiocese in the American Midwest where mismanagement of clergy sexual abuse cases led to the dual early resignations of the former archbishop and an auxiliary bishop last June. Archbishop Bernard Hebda will now lead the archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis in Minnesota, canceling his former appointment to take over the archdiocese of Newark, N.J., in July.” By Joshua J. McElwee, National Catholic Reporter
 -- No longer administrator, how might Hebda change as Twin Cities archbishop? By Brian Roewe, National Catholic Reporter
 -- Vatican names Hebda Twin Cities archbishop, By MinnPost.com

‘SPOTLIGHT’ THE MOVIE

'Spotlight' and the right of Catholics to be angry
“The Australian Catholic Bishops Conference has issued a statement about ‘Spotlight,’ the film about the cover up of child sexual abuse in Boston. The bishops agreed with Father Richard Leonard that ‘Spotlight’ is ‘an occasion for holy, righteous anger and every adult Catholic should see it.’ I saw the film, and I was angry, not so much about the past but by what is happening right now. A cover up ordered by canon law in 1922 continues to this day.” By Kieran Tapsell, Newcastle Herald

The movie “Spotlight” makes me feel guilty
(Mar. 19, 2016) “I finally watched the Oscar-winning movie ‘Spotlight’ tonight (Mar. 19), and I had three strong emotional reactions: admiration for The Boston Globe’s investigative team, pride in the profession I labored in for more than four decades, and … guilt. Why guilt?” By Bruce DeSilva, Rogue Island Blog

VOICES

The 1-2 punch the Catholic bishops have delivered to clergy sex abuse victims
“The Catholic survivors are subjected to traumatic betrayal twice. First, when the sexual abuse occurs. Second, when society locks them out of the courthouse, and the padlock stays in place because the bishops lobby to keep the doors locked. When a survivor finally has the support and courage to come forward, it is devastating to check on legal options only to learn that the doors remain padlocked, because elected officials defer to the hierarchy that betrayed the victims in the first place.” By Marci A. Hamilton and Steven Berkowitz, Verdict.Justia.com

Preventing crime in the Catholic Church
Investigating theft and other irregularities in corporations often starts with an analytical device known as the fraud triangle. This method examines three classic elements of criminal activity: opportunity, pressure/motivation and rationalization. Corporations typically claim that opportunity is the element over which they have the most control. Accordingly, companies focus on limiting opportunities for crime with measures like heightened security.” By Raymond Ramirez, The Observer

Why Crux’s Knights of Columbus “partnership” is problematic
“Whether the site (Cruxnow.com) will retain true editorial independence under the Knights’ sponsorship, however, is an open question. The Knights have long been known as the ‘strong right arm of the Church,’ according to Archbishop Lori, who is the head of the USCCB’s Ad Hoc Committee for Religious Liberty, and the Supreme Chaplain of the Knights. Lori told the Catholic News Agency in 2011 that the Knights ‘are the families that are promoting priestly and religious vocations… [and they] step up and defend the Church whether it’s bishops, priest or the Pope himself when it is appropriate to do so.’ By Kaya Oakes, Religion Dispatches

POPE FRANCIS

A guide to decoding Catholic reaction to Pope Francis
“He’s (Pope Francis) massively popular around the world, but somewhat divisive inside the Church itself. In his case, it’s often more conservative Catholics who find themselves ambivalent. Here, then, a quick guide to decoding four keywords or phrases in Catholic conversation that can betoken such reactions.” By John L. Allen, Jr., Cruxnow.com

FUTURE OF THE CHURCH

Bartholomew: ‘Without Synod’s decision, discernment between orthodoxy and heresy is not possible’
“The encyclical officially announcing and convening the pan-Orthodox Synod scheduled to take place in Crete from 18 to 17 June, has been written by Bartholomew, by the grace of God Archbishop of Constantinople, New Rome, and Ecumenical Patriarch. ‘The path of opposing lies with the truth,’ the Patriarch writes, ‘is the path that the Church has followed from the beginning throughout the course of its history, and this was nothing more than that of collegiality …” By Andrea Tornielli, La Stampa

CHURCH FINANCES

Canadian priest gambled away $380K meant for refugees, church says
“A Canadian Catholic priest is under investigation after he told his bishop he allegedly gambled away hundreds of thousands of dollars meant to support refugees. The Toronto Star reported Monday (Mar. 28) that Father Amer Saka, a priest at St. Joseph Chaldean Catholic Church in London, Ontario, phoned Bishop Emanuel Shaleta last month to tell him he had lost the money.” By Josh Hafner, USA TODAY

VOICES OF THE FAITHFUL

Editorial: the season is now in full swing
(Mar. , 2016) “There are times when it might appear like our justice system is more geared toward the rights of the accused than the rights of the victim. Chalk up one major victory for victims in the state of Delaware. Earlier this week, Gov. Ruth Ann Minner signed Senate Bill 29 into law. The bill gets rid of the state’s two-year statute of limitations for victims of child sexual abuse, and opens a two-year window for past victims to re-file claims for personal injury lawsuits stemming from sexual abuse. The law is considered one of the strongest in the nation in regards to protecting victims.” Editorial by CoastalPoint.com

CLERGY CHILD SEXUAL ABUSE

Why church doesn’t care about victims of sex abuse
“Recent comments by high-ranking officials of the Catholic Church have painted a terrifying picture of the attitudes and policies the church holds toward the most atrocious actions committed by its own clergy: the sexual abuse of children. While allegations of sexual assaults have plagued the church since the 1970s, that Vatican has done little to discipline those responsible.” By Michael Heckel, Iowa State Daily

FLORIDA

Local church leaders accused of enabling child abuse
“A Catholic priest in Mount Dora was charged in western Pennsylvania on Tuesday (Mar. 15) with conspiracy and child endangerment after he reportedly helped provide jobs to a friar who was a known sexual predator. The jobs included a position as a high school athletic trainer, which enabled the friar to molest more than 100 children, according to an Associated Press story.” By Millard K. Ives, Daily Commercial

ILLINOIS

Chicago Heights native works to protect children from abuse
Protecting Roman Catholic children from sexual predators is a full-time job for this Chicago Heights native. As the newly-appointed Archdiocese of Chicago's director of the Office for the Protection of Children and Youth, Mary Jane Doerr has a candid, but optimistic view of the challenges she faces.” By Erin Gallagher, Daily Southtown

KENTUCKY

Priest sentenced to 33 months in child porn case
“A Louisville priest who pleaded guilty to viewing child pornography was sentenced Tuesday (Mar. 29) to 33 months in federal prison. U.S. District Court Judge David Hale accepted the terms of the plea agreement for Stephen Pohl, the former pastor of St. Margaret Mary Parish, at a hearing Tuesday (Mar. 29) afternoon in U.S. District Court in Louisville.” By Matthew Glowicki, Louisville Courier-Journal

MASSACHUSETTS

Abuse settlement reached in case of priest who committed suicide
“The Springfield Roman Catholic Diocese has reached a settlement concerning an abuse allegation of a minor by the late Father Paul Archambault. According to a statement from the Diocese of Springfield, Fr. Archambault committed suicide in 2011 apparently after being confronted with the abuse allegations.” By Mark Wiernasz, WWLP-TV
 -- Roman Catholic Diocese of Springfield reaches settlement, adds another name to its list of priests accused of sexual abuse, By Stephanie Barry, Springfield Republican, on MassLive.com

Boston Archdiocese settles with 7 alleged victims of clergy abuse
“The Archdiocese of Boston has agreed to settlements involving cash and counseling with seven people who say they were sexually abused by priests, including one case that stretches back to the 1930s, according to the attorney for the alleged victims. Two other settlements with religious orders have been reached in cases involving priests who allegedly abused victims while they worked in the archdiocese, according to the attorney, Mitchell Garabedian. Another, separate settlement with the Carmelite Order involved a brother who had been accused of abuse in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles before being assigned to a chapel at the Northshore Mall in Peabody.” By Brian MacQuarrie, The Boston Globe

MINNESOTA

Minnesota town’s showy gravestone is bitter reminder of priest’s abuse
“In a small cemetery on the eastern edge of the Iron Range, one gravestone sticks out. A granite headstone honoring the Rev. Thomas Stack, who founded the Roman Catholic church across the street, sits atop a hill near the entrance of the Hoyt Lakes Memorial Cemetery. The stone is the only one permitted to stand above ground in the municipal cemetery. It would seem to be an unremarkable site in an off-the-beaten-path graveyard, but one Grand Rapids woman is fighting for the stone’s removal.” By Tom Olsen, Forum News Service, on TwinCities.com

Twin Cities priest reinstated to ministry after investigation
“A Twin Cities Roman Catholic priest who had been on leave for seven months after allegations of past sexual abuse of a minor surfaced was reinstated to public ministry Thursday (Mar. 17) in the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis, church officials said. The allegations against the Rev. Robert J. Fitzpatrick were from the 1980s.” By Pat Pheifer, Star Tribune

NEW MEXICO

Diocese of Gallup offers to settle sex abuse claims
“Attorneys in the Diocese of Gallup’s Chapter 11 bankruptcy filed a reorganization plan Monday (Mar. 28) that contains cash contributions of $21 million from nine sources to settle claims filed by 57 alleged victims of clerical sexual abuse. An attorney who represents abuse victims estimated Monday that payments would average about $350,000 per claimant, though amounts likely would vary depending on circumstances.” By Olivier Uyttebrouck, Albuquerque Journal

NEW YORK

DA looks into allegations of possible sexual abuse at All Saints Elementary amid baby porn case
“The Onondaga County District Attorney's Office is probing whether any students at All Saints Elementary School were physically abused, an official confirmed. Their probe comes amid a federal child pornography case against school aide Emily Oberst, 23, who was fired Monday (Mar.21) after being charged with sexually exploiting a 16-month-old girl.” By Douglass Doughty, Syracuse.com

Dutchess priest resigns after sex-abuse probe
“A longtime Dutchess County priest has officially been removed from the clergy following an investigation into allegations of sexual abuse from decades ago, according to the Archdiocese of New York. Allegations of sexual abuse made against Peter Kihm in 2015 have been found to be ‘credible’ by both law enforcement and the Archdiocesan Review Board, said Bishop Dominick John Lagonegro in a letter to parishioners of the Good Shepherd Church in Rhinebeck, where Kihm last served as a priest.” By Nina Schutzman, Poughkeepsie Journal

OHIO

Columbus Catholic diocese settles with man who said he was abused in 1970s
“The Roman Catholic Diocese of Columbus has agreed to a financial settlement with a man who says he was repeatedly sexually abused as a teenager by a priest who worked at a diocesan high school, said an attorney who represents the man. By JoAnneViviano, The Columbus Dispatch

Youngstown Catholic diocese to observe child abuse prevention month
“The Diocese of Youngstown has announced that its parishes, schools and institutions will observe National Child Abuse Prevention Month in April. According to a news release from the diocese, communities are being encouraged to share child abuse and neglect prevention awareness strategies and activities and promote prevention. The announcement comes just days after three Franciscan friars were charged in Pennsylvania with allowing a suspected sexual predator to hold jobs where he molested more than 100 children.” By WFMJ-TV

PENNSYLVANIA

Diocese of Pittsburgh settles sex abuse case for undisclosed ‘five-figure’ sum
“The Diocese of Pittsburgh reached an undisclosed ‘five-figure’ out-of-court settlement late last year with an alleged victim of a sexually abusive priest who served in Allegheny County from 1985-88, his attorney announced this week. Boston-based attorney Mitchell Garabedian said the settlement was reached in October over his client's alleged sexual assault by John Connor, who was a chaplain at Sewickley Valley Hospital and then a priest at St. Alphonsus Church in Pine.” By Matthew Santoni, Pittsburgh Tribune

Editorial: Bill to expand rights of abuse victims deserves support
“State Rep. Mark Rozzi, a Muhlenberg Township Democrat, makes a strong point about how the Altoona revelations emphasize the importance of his legislation. He wants to eliminate time limits on when victims can sue their abusers and allow victims already past those limits to be given two years to file lawsuits against their abusers and related institutions.” Editorial by Reading Eagle

Lynn fights attempt to block a new trial
Lawyers for Msgr. William J. Lynn have asked the Pennsylvania Supreme Court to reject prosecutors' appeal of a court decision that granted Lynn a new trial, calling the request ‘breathtakingly dishonest.’ In court documents filed Tuesday (Mar. 22) , lawyers for Lynn, who was granted a new trial in December after being convicted for his role in supervising Catholic priests who molested children, contend that there are no grounds for appeal under state rules.” By Justine McDaniel, Philly.com

Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape discusses the Pennsylvania Catholic Church sex scandal
“A child sex abuse scandal rocking the Pennsylvania Catholic Church within the past few weeks. Prosecutors released reports on cases of child sex abuse in western Pennsylvania. Hundreds of children were abused, leaders documented it but did nothing about it. Delilah Rumburg, CEO of Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape, sat down with us to talk about where we go from here and how we make sure this does not happen again.” By Janel Knight and Sarah Newton, WHTM-TV

Three friars in Pennsylvania abuse case removed from duties
“Three Franciscan friars charged with allowing a suspected sexual predator to hold jobs where he molested more than 100 children have been removed from their religious assignments in Florida and Minnesota. Robert D'Aversa, 69; Anthony Criscitelli, 61; and Giles Schinelli, 73, are scheduled to surrender Friday, said Jeffrey Johnson, a spokesman for the Pennsylvania attorney general's office. They're charged with child endangerment and criminal conspiracy.” By Associated Press

VIRGINIA

Virginia ties to Pennsylvania Catholic Church child sex abuse scandal
(Mar. 16, 2016) “Investigators say there is a Virginia connection to a Catholic Church child abuse scandal unfolding in Pennsylvania. An indictment shows several Franciscan Friars accused of being child predators worked in the Commonwealth. This indictment says there was a cover-up, which allowed four men to work in various churches in several states. They were in the Commonwealth in the 1970s.” By Ashley Monfort, NBC-TV12

WASHINGTON

Settlements don’t absolve Catholic sex abuse
“Accounting for the horrific sexual abuse of children by Catholic priests and nuns over the last half-century continues in the Archdiocese of Seattle. The legal settlement last week of eight abuse claims was the latest installment of a slowly unfolding story that the church could expedite with complete disclosure of files it holds on offenders.” Editorial by The Olympian

Two women sexually abused by Catholic priest in Bellingham now share in $9 million settlement
“Two women who were sexually abused by a Catholic priest in Bellingham are now sharing in a nine million dollar settlement. The Seattle Archdiocese is paying to settle the claims of eight women abused as young girls by Father Michael Cody.” By KGMI Radio
 -- Eight women settle with Seattle Archdiocese for $9.1 million in priest sex-abuse cases, By Jessica Lee, Seattle Times

AUSTRALIA

‘It’s disgusting’: Church spends more to restore church than compensate victims of pedophile priests
“A Bayside church linked to historical clerical abuse and destroyed by an arsonist last year will be rebuilt at an estimated cost of $20 million – almost double the total compensation paid by the Archdiocese of Melbourne to 326 victims of paedophile priests. The decision to restore St James Church in Gardenvale to its former glory has incensed victims of Father Ronald Pickering, who preyed on more than a dozen boys while he served at the church from 1978 to 1993 before fleeing to Britain.” By Cameron Houston and Chris Vedelago, The Age

Secret archive of pedophile crime kept by Church’s insurers
Victims of some of the worst sexual abuse perpetrated by the Catholic Church are being denied access to a vast archive of clergy crime, as the church continues to ensure the offending is kept secret, despite the files being handed over to the royal commission. The nearly 2000 files – which include evidence about at least 63 offenders – have been amassed by the church's insurers, but the church appears intent on paying millions of dollars in victims compensation settlements to ensure the documents are not made public.” By The Newcastle Herald

Victims tell their stories to Australia’s royal commission on child sexual abuse
“In some respects, the story of the Australian government inquiry into institutional responses to child sexual abuse is a story that can be told in numbers. Since its first hearing three years ago, the inquiry -- the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse -- has received 29,223 telephone calls from victims and other interested parties, as well as 16,171 letters and emails. It has conducted 4,874 sessions in private (to provide, where requested, a safe and confidential environment for those testifying) and made 961 referrals to authorities, including police, many of which have resulted in arrests and charges.” By Chris McGillion, National Catholic Reporter

Former Catholic Church insider calls for police and royal commission to subpoena secret ‘red files’
“A former Catholic Church insider has called on police and the royal commission to subpoena all of the church's secret clergy abuse documents — known as the ‘red files.’ Helen Last, a former coordinator of the Melbourne Archdiocese's Pastoral Response Office, said the full extent of church abuse would not be known until all the documents were made available.” By Steve Cannane and Brigid Andersen, ABC News Australia

FRANCE

French cardinal accused of cover-up in widening abuse scandal
“French Prime Minister Manuel Valls called on a prominent cardinal to ‘assume his responsibilities’ amid widening allegations of a pedophilia cover-up targeting Lyon’s Roman Catholic diocese. In an interview with BFM TV on Tuesday (March 15), Valls refused to comment on whether Cardinal Philippe Barbarin should step down. The archbishop of Lyon, Barbarin has been accused of covering up alleged sexual abuse of young boy scouts by Lyon priest Bernard Preynat between 1986 and 1991 — before Barbarin was named cardinal.” By Elizabeth Bryant, Religion News Service

GREAT BRITAIN, SCOTLAND & WALES

Victims of alleged sexual abuse by Catholic priests drop legal action against Salford Diocese
“Legal action against Salford Diocese by alleged victims of sexual abuse has been dropped. Former students of St Bede’s College in Whalley Range, Manchester, were suing church bosses over claims they were sexually abused by Catholic priests. But the court process has now been discontinued without any out of court settlement or apology.” By Neal Keeling, Manchester Evening News