Voice of the Faithful Focus, Apr. 26, 2019

April 26, 2019


With letter on sex abuse, Pope Benedict returns to the public eye
“In his retirement, Pope Benedict XVI is apparently tired of hiding. The former pontiff, who declared he would ‘remain hidden to the world’ when he became the first pope in six centuries to abdicate in 2013, has released a 6,000-word letter that puts the blame for the clerical sexual abuse crisis in the Roman Catholic Church on the sexual revolution of the 1960s, the disappearance of God from public discourse in the West and what he considers dangerously liberal theological ideas that eroded morality after the church reforms of the Second Vatican Council.” By Jason Horowitz, The New York Times

Inside the fight for compensation for clergy sex abuse survivors
“For attorney Ken Feinberg and his longtime associate Camille Biros, their work overseeing compensation funds for survivors of clergy sex abuse is familiar: They represented the victims of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks and the Deepwater Horizon spill. In order to determine what type of compensation is appropriate, Biros says they look at written documentation of the abuse, such as journal entries, or sometimes the survivor will tell their story in person.” By Robin Young, National Public Radio

Catholic diocese, Movement to Restore Trust launch new methods for abuse claims
“The Catholic Diocese of Buffalo is taking a new approach to handling alleged sex abuse cases. The diocese now is working with the Movement to Restore Trust, an independent group of Catholics. The group first met with officials from the diocese last Thursday Apr. 11). They discussed new ways to improve the church’s response to accusations of abuse made against members of the clergy. One idea would be for Bishop Richard Malone to reserve time in his schedule regularly for one-on-one meetings with victims. Additionally, there would be diocese-wide listening sessions over the next few months to hear directly from Catholics about the scandal and other matters of importance to churchgoers.” By Spectrum News Staff

We’re waiting on decision about women deacons
“Will he or won’t he? That’s the question being asked in some circles as the date approaches for the pope’s appearance at this year’s May 6-10 meeting of the International Union of Superiors General (UISG), the leaders of the world’s congregations of Catholic women religious. Every three years the group meets in Rome, and during the last gathering, in answer to a question from the group, Pope Francis agreed that it would be good to appoint a commission to study the history of women deacons. The commission was formed within three months, in August 2016, and last summer, having completed its work, the commission sent a paper to the pope. So the big question this year is: What’s Francis going to say about women deacons?” By Tom Roberts, National Catholic Reporter


How can we shift power in the Church – Talking about clericalism
“In Deliver Us, host Maggi Van Dorn is a Catholic committed to healing the church from the inside. She wants to know: How did this happen? And what, if anything, can we do to help? Hear from experts, advocates, and survivors to learn what the church can do to move forward. Because you can’t fix something until you know how it’s broken.” By Maggi Van Dorn, Deliver Us, America: The Jesuit Review

As Child Victims Act takes effect, some seek to void settlements
“Beginning in August, people with decades-old claims of childhood sex abuse will have the rare chance to sue their alleged abusers and the institutions who they say ignored the crime. The Child Victims Act, which passed the Legislature in January, lifts the statute of limitations for reporting childhood abuse and also creates a one-year ‘look back’ window for past claims to be brought. But hundreds who say they were abused by Catholic priests may be ineligible to pursue damages in court due to releases they signed as part of New York Archdiocese’ victims compensation program, relinquishing their rights to sue the church.” By Rachel Silberstein, Times Union

Latin American and Caribbean religious conference formalizes protocols for protection of minors
“When the Confederation of Latin American and Caribbean Religious (CLAR) decided to form a commission geared toward the protection of minors, Sr. Nancy Negrón Ortiz was the logical choice to help lead that effort. Ortiz, a Missionary Sister of the Good Shepherd (Hermanas Misioneras del Buen Pastor), is a psychologist experienced in working with abused children and is also a member of the CLAR presidency. The Commission for the Protection of Minors, which first met in November in Bogotá, Colombia, established protocols for responding to victims who come forward that each member country’s religious conference can adapt to their own local civil laws.” By Soli Salgado, Global Sisters Report, National Catholic Reporter


One pope is quite enough
“We are living in a unique moment in church history with an ex-pope, properly credited for having the courage to resign when the problems he faced became overwhelming, living within the Vatican walls. The resignation is best interpreted as Benedict XVI’s act of generosity toward the church. The graciousness Francis has displayed toward his predecessor is equally an act of generosity. Increasingly, however, Francis must also be calling on the virtue of patience to deal with the interference of a predecessor whose retirement has gone from a promised ‘life dedicated to prayer’ to a life of backseat pontificating.” By National Catholic Reporter Editorial Staff


German theologians blast Benedict’s letter as ‘failed and improper’ account of abuse crisis
“A group of prominent German-speaking theologians has sharply criticized retired Pope Benedict XVI’s recent letter on clergy sexual abuse, saying it ‘instrumentalized’ the Catholic church’s continuing crisis to rehash stale, decades-long theological disputes. In a blunt two-page letter released April 15, the theologians said the former pontiff ignored scientific research on the causes of abuse, neglected evidence of the centuries-long history of the problem, and did not speak from the perspective of victim-survivors.” By Joshua J. McElwee, National Catholic Reporter


World’s largest Catholic country debates the right number of priests
“A declining proportion of Catholics and accelerated growth of Evangelical denominations in Brazil since the 1970s have frequently caused anxiety for the Catholic Church, which fears a vocations crisis from which it might not easily recover. Although the country continues to have the biggest Catholic population in the world with 123 million adherents, a supposed lack of priests could speed up a downfall. But the insufficiency of the clergy in Brazil may not be so obvious.” By Eduardo Campos Lima, Cruxnow.com


Look up at the altar, where are the women?
“If you had the chance to attend Holy Week services in person or via television — and I hope you did — you probably noticed the more things change, the more they stay the same. It’s a men’s church. The clerics — all vested — are in the sanctuary or at least up front. The rest of us are far away. Keeping the faithful at a distance was a hallmark of medieval Catholicism, so much so that St. Francis of Assisi tried to do something about it. Unable to bring the people closer to the celebration, he gave them the Gospel. His attitude, still flowering in the world, helps faithful folks assimilate the uncomfortable truth: they cannot be near the sacred. Especially women.” By Phyllis Zagano, National Catholic Reporter


Gonzaga University forming panel to address clergy sex abuse

“Four months after Gonzaga University was criticized for allowing sexually abusive priests to live on campus, GU President Thayne McCulloh announced Monday (Apr. 15) he is assembling a commission to address the abuse crisis that continues to grip the Catholic Church. In an email to faculty and staff, McCulloh said the commission will ‘identify, discuss and make recommendations’ about how the university should respond to abuse by clergy.” By Chad Sokol, The Spokane Spokesman-Review


New Vatican document to put evangelization ahead of doctrine
“A new ‘super dicastery’ on evangelization might be one of the most significant reforms of the governing structures of the Vatican, according to a new report. Spanish journalist Dario Menor Torres, writing for the weekly Vida Nueva, reveals several elements of the new Vatican constitution that has been in development for years. The biggest novelty in the document, called Praedicate Evangelium (‘Preach the Gospel’), will be the creation of the ‘super dicastery’ for evangelization, which will potentially be more important than the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF), often called ‘The Supreme Congregation.” By Inés San Martin, Cruxnow.com

Vatican imposes 10-year suspension on Legionaries priest for abuse
“The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith has banned a Legionaries of Christ priest from publicly exercising his priestly ministry for 10 years after he was convicted in Chile of sexually abusing a young girl. Irish-born Legionaries Father John O’Reilly was convicted in Chile in 2014 and sentenced to four years of ‘supervised liberty.’ When the four years was up in December, he was told to leave the country or face deportation. He moved to Rome, where he still lives, according to the Legionaries.” By Cindy Wooden, Catholic News Service, on CatholicPhilly.com

Two groundbreaking dialogues at the Vatican this week
This week on ‘Inside the Vatican,’ Gerard O’Connell and I update you on Cardinal Sarah’s recent comments on migrants, which strike a different tone from what we’ve come to expect from Pope Francis. We also discuss why Francis prefers to have advisors who disagree with him on some issues. Then, Gerry and I will tell you about an international human rights delegation that visited the Vatican asking for support for the decriminalization of homosexuality … Plus, we’ll take a look at what it means for the Vatican to begin a dialogue with this delegation. Our final story is about an ecumenical retreat—possibly the first of its kind—being held at the Vatican this week for the opposing political and ecclesial leaders of South Sudan.” By Colleen Dulle, Inside the Vatican, America: The Jesuit Review


The Catholic Church faces a youth retention problem following sex abuse scandals
“When USC students discuss Catholicism with one another, all too often the first thing that comes to people’s mind is the sexual abuse scandal in the church. That’s what David de la Cruz has experienced during his time on the Caruso Catholic Center Student Advisory Board. ‘I think there is a lot of misunderstanding because I know that sometimes when I say that I am Catholic, the punchline eventually gets to, ‘Oh, how many pedophile priests do you know?’ said de la Cruz, a sophomore majoring in classics and informatics. ‘That is very reductionist, and a hurtful sentiment to hold.’” By Mia Speier, USC Annenberg Media


Three criteria to evaluate Francis’ reform of Vatican curia
“The cardinals who voted in conclave to elect Pope Francis did so hoping he would reform the scandal-plagued Vatican Curia and make it more responsive to the concerns of the universal church. Six years later, his reform proposals are reportedly to be promulgated at the end of June, although they will probably be leaked earlier. Will they satisfy the critics of the Curia? Reforming the Vatican Curia has been a constant topic since the Second Vatican Council ended in 1965. The Curia has been accused of being inefficient, Byzantine, dictatorial, and out of touch with the needs of ordinary Catholics. On top of that, it has been plagued by financial and sexual scandals.” By Thomas Reese, Religion News Service

New Vatican constitution will resist centralization in Rome, drafter says
“It took 29 meetings, but the pope’s ‘C-9’ council of cardinal advisers, which is now functionally more akin to a ‘C-6,’ has a new constitution for the Vatican in the form of a draft presentable to all the bishops’ conferences around the world, the heads of the various departments of the Holy See, theologians and canonists. According to a principal drafter of that document, one core aim, reflecting the electoral mandate given Pope Francis six years ago, is to combat centralization of power in Rome.” By Inés San Martin, Cruxnow.com


More Americans than ever are leaving the Catholic Church after the sex abuse scandal. Here’s why.
“On Palm Sunday, Barbara Hoover exited Brougher Chapel with a palm frond in her left hand. The 76-year-old retiree sized up the church in front of her and sighed, visibly upset. ‘I don’t know why I’m still here,’ she said, throwing her hands up. ‘I don’t know why I still go. I guess the ritual.’ In Portland, Oregon, Norma Rodriguez, 51, hustled up the steps of St. Mary’s Cathedral of Immaculate Conception, eager to get a good seat before the service started …” By Lindsay Schnell, USA TODAY


Those abused by priests need justice, more protection from the Catholic Church, advocates say
“Recently, the New Jersey Legislature passed a bill that would give survivors of sexual abuse in New Jersey more opportunity to seek justice for the crimes committed against them. This is an important step in addressing the decades of clergy abuse, but for countless survivors in New Jersey, it is too little, too late.” By Justin Hoffmann and Michelle Simpson Tuegel

The Guardian view on the Catholic Church: trouble ahead
“Jesus entered Jerusalem a week before his death as if he were the messiah, pushing through adoring crowds who sang and waved palm fronds – at least that’s what the story says. By this criterion at least, Pope Francis is further from Jesus than most popes have been. He entered Holy Week this year battered by assaults from the right wing of the American church, the Italian government, and even his immediate predecessor, the former pope Benedict XVI …” By The Guardian Editorial Board

The wrong way to ask Catholics for money amid the sex abuse crisis
“It is that time of year when a portion of Mass is dedicated to the Annual Appeal. The collection used to be called the Cardinal’s Appeal, but this is the Archdiocese of Washington, and we’ve been having some problems with our cardinals lately. Given the ongoing scandals surrounding former Cardinal Theodore McCarrick and outgoing Cardinal Donald Wuerl, asking Washington parishioners for money is more awkward and delicate than usual.” By Melissa Cedillo, America: The Jesuit Review


Saint Rose of Lima Catholic Church investigating $160K theft, pastor says
“After the recent appointment of a new pastor, a Murfreesboro Catholic church learned two former employees may have stolen nearly $160,000 from the parish. Saint Rose of Lima Roman Catholic Church alerted the congregation in April of the theft, according to a letter from Father John Sims Baker and Larry Farmer, chair of the parish finance council, obtained by The Daily News Journal.” By Brinley Hineman, Murfreesboro Daily News Journal

Priest arrested after $14,000 goes missing at his Kansas parish
“Authorities in Reno County, Kansas, say a Roman Catholic priest has been arrested after an investigation into money missing from his church. The sheriff’s office said in a news release that 51-year-old Juan Gregorio Garza-Gonzalez, of Wichita, was arrested Thursday (Apr. 9) … The release said detectives determined nearly $14,000 was missing from several locations at the church.” By Associated Press on Cruxnow.com


General Assembly committee deals a blow to many priest abuse victims
“A General Assembly committee has modified a proposed bill so alleged victims of Catholic clergy abuse will not have a 27-month window to sue the church regardless of their age. During an April 1 public hearing before the Judiciary Committee, people older than 48 who say they were sexually assaulted by priests urged the committee to support a provision in Senate Bill 3 that would have allowed them to sue the church after that age, which is the current law.” By Joe Wojtas, The Day

Governor signs law expanding stature of limitations for sexual assault prosecutions
“The statute of limitations on rape was limiting justice for rape survivors. That’s now changed, but it’s taken five years of painful work. As Governor Inslee singed the new law today, Dinah Griffey stood with her husband Dan. He’s one of the lead sponsors. Later she said it sends a powerful message of support to survivors, that they are believed … And it eliminates the statute of limitations for child rape.” By Essex Porter, KIRO-TV7 News


Archdiocese shares expertise on healing from clergy abuse
“Groups discussing best practices for legal and pastoral approaches to the national clergy sexual abuse crisis are reaching out to officials with the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis. Organizations seeking their faith-filled expertise, perspective and experience recently included an April 9 panel discussion at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., on the role of civil law and the action of lawyers in hiding and uncovering the abuse crisis.” By The Catholic Spirit of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis

How Catholic Church used treatment centers to protect priests accused of child abuse
“In 1995, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops commissioned an internal church study on child abuse. The two-volume study surveyed bishops in more than 100 dioceses nationwide about their use of treatment centers to assess and care for priests believed to be sexually abusing children. The result: 87% of bishops (127 out of 145 dioceses surveyed) reported using treatment centers for clergy accused of child abuse.” By Ian Nawalinski, WHYY, Philadelphia National Public Radio


Phoenix Diocese still trying to right the wrongs of decades of coverup
“With the #MeToo movement sparking a social awakening, empowering more victims to seek help and justice the Phoenix Catholic Diocese is still trying to right the wrongs of decades of secrecy and cover-up as they investigate new allegations. Mary O’Day sent a letter to the Pope in October 2017 detailing claims of being sexually abused in her parish as a child, saying nuns were involved.” By Nicole Crites, 3TV Phoenix on AZFamily.com


Diocese says it will add names to accused list if contacted by victims, survivors
“The Diocese of Stockton said Friday (Apr. 19) that it will not add any new names to its list of ‘credibly accused’ unless it is contacted by victims and survivors. The diocese’s statement comes after the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests came to Stockton on Tuesday (Apr. 16) to urge the organization to add an additional seven names of clergymen who spent parts of their careers in the area and have been publicly accused of abuse in other regions to its list of ‘credible accused.’” By Wes Bowers, Stockton Record

Teen molested by Catholic school teacher gets record $8 million from L.A. archdiocese
“For more than a year, some at San Gabriel Mission High School had expressed concerns about Juan Ivan Barajas. Officials received reports about suspicious behavior between the athletic director and students at the all-girls campus … Still, Barajas continued to oversee the office he used repeatedly to molest a 15-year-old. The Archdiocese of Los Angeles recently agreed to pay a record $8-million settlement to the victim, now 18. It is the largest individual settlement by the local church in a sex abuse case.” By Richard Winton, Los Angeles Times

Livermore priest accused of sexual assault held prior accusations
“A Catholic priest accused of sexual assault in the East Bay also has some serious allegations from his past. A young former seminarian who does not want to be identified says he was sexually assaulted by a priest he considered a mentor, Father Michael Van Dinh. He says it happened inside the rectory of St. Michael’s Catholic Church in Livermore where he says Van Dinh lured him with the promise of helping him find a job.” By WPIX-TV5 News


Accused priest’s records show effort by church to conceal scandal
“When the Diocese of Lafayette released its list of accused priests last week, 11 of the 37 members of clergy had never been publicly accused. Among them is the Rev. John de Leeuw, who made arrangements to defend himself in death. Shortly after publishing the church’s list, KATC was contacted by a friend of de Leeuw, who shared with us more than 100 pages of documents the late priest kept about his case.” By Jim Hummel, KATC-TV3 News

33 priests, four deacons accused of sex abuse in Catholic Diocese of Lafayette
“The Roman Catholic diocese in Louisiana where the first widely reported case of U.S. clergy sex abuse became public in the 1980s has released a list of 33 priests and four deacons credibly accused of sexually abusing a minor or vulnerable adult. Lafayette Bishop Douglas Deshotels’ list identifies three priests who were convicted or pleaded guilty but does not indicate where any of the 37 was accused, let alone give details of the accusations.” By Associated Press on NOLA.com

Louisiana bishop celebrates special Way of the Cross to ‘heal this wound’ of abuse
“Where there is darkness, light shines; where there is despair, hope. Bishop Michael G. Duca celebrated a special Way of the Cross for reparation for the sin of sexual abuse within the church April 5 at St. Joseph Cathedral in Baton Rouge, offering grace to survivors and asking the church to accompany them on their journey of healing. ‘(Praying the Way of the Cross) was important because we need to heal this wound in the church in many different ways.’ The bishop said.” By Catholic News Service in The Catholic Sun

Diocese of Lake Charles releases list of credibly accused clergy
“The Diocese of Lake Charles has released a list of clergy against whom they have found credible accusations of sexual misconduct with a minor. The list contains the names of a dozen people, eleven of whom were priests. One was a religious called a brother. Of the priests, eight are dead. The others include Mark Broussard who is in prison serving two life sentences plus fifty years for sexually abusing children.” By Hannah Daigle and Theresa Schmidt, KPLC-TV7 News


Archdiocese of Baltimore discloses the names of 23 deceased clergy accused of child sexual abuse
“The Archdiocese of Baltimore has added the names of 23 deceased priests and religious brothers to its online database of clergy members accused of child sexual abuse, signaling a revision in policy on dealing with cases that come to the diocese’s attention only after an accused individual has died. The change is part of an ongoing effort by the diocese to enhance openness when it comes to the issue of child sexual abuse in the church, said Archbishop William E. Lori, leader of the area’s half-million Catholics.” By Jonathan M. Pitts, The Baltimore Sun


Judge denies lower bond for ex-priest accused of abuse
“A St. Louis County judge on Monday (Apr. 22) refused to lower bail for a former Catholic priest who was previously imprisoned and labeled sexually violent. Fred Lenczycki, 74, of suburban Chicago, was charged in February with two counts of sodomy for allegedly abusing two boys in the early 1990s at a north St. Louis County parish. He is jailed on $500,000 cash-only bond but was seeking an unspecified reduction.” By Jim Salter, Associated Press, on FoxNews.com


Diocese IDs clerics, volunteer accused of sexual misconduct
“The Catholic Diocese of Las Vegas released a list Friday of 27 priests and six others who served in the Las Vegas Valley and had been ‘credibly accused’ of sexual misconduct with a minor. The announcement came a week after the Catholic Diocese of Reno named 12 ‘credibly accused’ priests, eight of whom at some point had served in the Las Vegas area. All of those priests also were included in the Las Vegas list.” By Rachel Crosby, Las Vegas Review-Journal


New Jersey sting: Cop, minister among 16 charged with trying to lure children for sex
“Police in a three-state sting operation said they caught 16 people, including a cop and a minister, using chat apps to lure children for sex. In a news conference Wednesday (Apr. 24) morning, Attorney General Gurbir Grewal announced that ‘Operation Home Alone’ had nabbed the alleged child predators from across the region. Half of the men accused are from New Jersey, seven are from New York and one is from Pennsylvania.” By Anthony Zurita, North Jersey Record

Vatican formally removes former Diocese of Metuchen priest from priesthood
“Mark Dolak, identified on the list of names of credibly accused clergy released by the Diocese of Metuchen, has now been permanently removed from the priesthood by the Vatican. The announcement was made in a news release posted Friday (Apr. 19) to the diocese’s website. Dolak, 66, had his priestly duties removed by the diocese more than two decades ago after he had multiple accusations of child sexual abuse made against him.” By Mike Deak, Bridgewater Courier News

New Jersey clergy sexual abuse victims say church compensation program isn’t enough
“Nearly 50 years after the first attack occurred, Todd Kostrub finds it easier to talk about the sexual abuse he said he endured at the hands of a Franciscan clergyman, but the pain never goes away. Yet, when Kostrub heard New Jersey’s five Catholic dioceses created an independent victim compensation program for victims of child sexual abuse, he was initially optimistic — until he learned that he was excluded from making a claim because the man was a brother of a religious order, not a diocesan priest.” By Nick Muscavage, Bridgewater Courier News


Priest abuse survivors, advocates laud Perrault conviction
“The verdict issued Wednesday (Apr. 10) against former Roman Catholic priest Arthur Perrault marked the first time a jury in New Mexico has found a member of the clergy guilty of sex crimes against children. Legal experts and victims’ advocates say Perrault’s conviction could mark a new era in how prosecutors try such cases. While hundreds of civil cases alleging child sexual abuse have been brought against the Archdiocese of Santa Fe over the past several decades, those lawsuits largely have been settled out of court for undisclosed sums, and rarely have priests faced criminal investigations.” By Rebecca Moss, Santa Fe New Mexican


Diocese of Buffalo puts three priests on temporary leave of absence
“The Diocese of Buffalo has placed three priests on temporary leave of absence following an incident at Saints Peter & Paul Parish Rectory in Hamburg. According to the diocese, ‘unsuitable, inappropriate and insensitive conversations’ took place during a social gathering of seminarians and priests on April 11 that some seminarians found to be offensive.” By WKBW-TV7 News

Buffalo priest who advised U.S. presidents about youth was alleged child molester
“Monsignor Joseph E. Schieder advised Presidents Dwight D. Eisenhower and John F. Kennedy on youth issues. In the 1950s and ’60s, he was arguably Buffalo’s most renowned Catholic priest, writing books on youth and their concerns and regularly traveling the country and abroad to speak at youth conferences … But behind his accomplishments, Schieder hid a dark secret. The secret wasn’t revealed until 2018 – more than two decades after Schieder’s death at age 87 – when his name was included on a Buffalo Diocese list of priests with substantiated allegations of child sexual abuse against them.” By Jay Tokasz, The Buffalo News

Catholic diocese agrees to changes in handling of sex abuse cases
“The Catholic Diocese of Buffalo and the Movement to Restore Trust have formed a Joint Implementation Team, facilitated by Leadership Roundtable, to address the clergy sex abuse scandal. Among the first orders of business was to agree to changes in how the diocese handles abuse cases. Bishop Richard Malone said the team held its first meeting on April 11 and quickly reached agreement on the following initiatives …” By Marian Hetherly, WBFO-FM, Buffalo National Public Radio

Priest in Manorhaven steps aside after abuse allegation
“A parish priest in Manorhaven has stepped down while law enforcement authorities investigate an allegation that he sexually abused a minor more than 40 years ago when he served in Suffolk County, the Diocese of Rockville Centre and officials said Monday (Apr. 16). The Rev. Steven J. Peterson, 71, has been serving as pastor at Our Lady of Fatima Roman Catholic Church in the village of Manorhaven. Diocese officials announced the move Sunday during Masses at the church, parishioners said.” By Bart Jones, Newsday

Leaked diocese document reveals names of more accused priests
“The names of an additional 27 Catholic priests accused of misconduct emerged this week in leaked Buffalo Diocese documents showing that a review board examined allegations against the priests. A copy of the June 27 meeting agenda of the Diocesan Review Board included the names of nearly 100 priests. Bishop Richard J. Malone in 2018 publicly identified most of the priests as having been credibly accused of sexually abusing children. But Malone has remained silent on 27 of those priests, including a former superintendent of Catholic schools, Monsignor Ted Berg, and a former high-ranking diocesan administrator, Monsignor Albert Rung.” By Jay Tokasz, The Buffalo News


‘It’s their word against his’: Priest accused of sexually abusing boys goes to court
“Their stories are strikingly similar, recorded three months apart by a Dauphin County detective. They have names, but they’re known now as Victim 1 and Victim 2. Both men say John G. Allen sexually abused them from 1997 to 2002 while they were altar boys at St. Margaret Mary’s Alacoque Church in Harrisburg. Allen, a 75-year-old defrocked priest who lives in York County, molested them in the rectory and the area where altar boys and priests put on their robes for mass, according to Detective John O’Connor.” By Candy Woodall, York Daily Record

Allentown Diocese opens its new compensation fund to victims of priest sex abuse
“The Allentown Diocese on Tuesday (Apr. 23) announced the opening of a five-month window for people who suffered abuse by clergy to file claims for compensation. In addition to packets of information being sent by overnight courier to more than 100 people who have already reported their abuse to the diocese, a Washington, D.C., law firm specializing in administering victim compensation funds has a call center and website ready for those who may have waited to come forward.” By Peter Hall, The Morning Call

Pennsylvania House committees advance more grand jury recommendations on Catholic clergy abuse
“House committees advanced legislation Monday (Apr. 16) that addresses recommendations from last year’s grand jury report on hundreds of ‘predator’ Catholic priests, less than a week after the full chamber gave the OK to a civil window for older sex abuse victims. Without any dissenting votes, the House Children & Youth Committee advanced a bill to increase penalties for failing to report child abuse, while the House Judiciary Committee approved legislation that affirms the right of child abuse victims to break non-disclosure agreements to cooperate with law enforcement.” By Stephen Caruso, Pennsylvania Capital-Star


Accused bishops must be held accountable
“It is important to publicize names of credibly accused priests who were in San Antonio, even if their alleged abuses took place in other regions. Although no claims of abuse were made locally, it is naïve to conclude there were no incidents. Statistics show that 1 in 10 victims of sexual abuse will report their abuse, and studies confirm that most sex offenders have more than one victim.” By Patti Koo, for the San Antonio Express News


Ceremony, panel discussion aims to address child sex abuse
“While some conversations are uncomfortable, many find that discussing sexual abuse, especially of a child, is among the hardest topics to handle. But for Tom Stollings, one of the father’s involved in a sexual abuse lawsuit against a local Mormon church, bringing this commonly regarded ‘dark’ topic into the light has become his life’s passion.” By Breanna Francis, The Journal

Transparency on sex abuse requires more than just clerics
“While Baltimore’s Archbishop William Lori and the Catholic Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston (DWC) invoke ‘transparency’ and ‘accountability’ regularly regarding clerical sex abuse, they struggle to put these concepts into action. Disconnects between Lori and DWC higher-ups versus our secular authorities and West Virginia Catholics seem almost insurmountable, as Catholic leaders continue evading actual transparency, accountability and too many significant questions.” By Vincent DeGeorge, Charleston Gazette-Mail


Catholic priest charged over alleged child sex abuse at NSW school
“A Catholic priest has been charged in Sydney for alleged sex abuse against multiple children at a Southern Highlands boarding school during the 1980s. Police say that Father Anthony Caruana, 77, indecently assaulted five children aged 12 to 15 when he was a dormitory manager, rugby coach and band teacher at Chevalier College.” By Megan Gorrey and Sally Rawsthorne, Sydney Morning Herald

Principal knew about alledged sex abuse 35 years before teacher was convicted, letter reveals
“Senior staff at a Catholic school in Tasmania, including the then principal and his boss, were aware of allegations a teacher was sexually abusing multiple children as far back as 1971, and sought to move the teacher to a different parish, a letter obtained by the ABC reveals. The teacher, Greg Ferguson, was convicted of historical child sex offences against two students in 2007 relating to his time at Burnie’s Marist College in the early 1970s.” By Henry Zwartz, ABC News Australia


Brazil bishops issue handbook on dealing with clergy sex abuse
“After securing approval from the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the Brazilian Conference of National Bishops (BCNB), responsible for the single largest Catholic country in the world, has adopted a new handbook containing measures dioceses must take to deal with sex abuse cases. Published in March, the document is part of a broad effort by the Brazilian Church to deal with the growing social concerns over the sexual abuse of minors.” By Eduardo Campos Lima, Cruxnow.com


French Catholics raise voices, demand measures to prevent further clergy sex abuse
“How could this happen? This question is the most common reaction in France after a well-documented public television program showed that many nuns had been sexually abused by priests for more than 20 years in France. Not only did the nuns not talk about it for years, but people who knew did nothing to denounce the predators.” By Elisabeth Auvillain, Globe Sisters Report, National Catholic Reporter


People of faith reflect on the Catholic Church at a crossroads
“Johnny S. Villagomez said he’s lost trust in the Catholic priests who have been named in clergy sex abuse lawsuits against the Archdiocese of Agana. But he hasn’t lost faith in God and the Catholic Church. ‘Who else is going to take care of the church if not us, the believers?’ Villagomez said, after he and his wife, Linda, attended Palm Sunday Mass. On Guam and across the nation, the Catholic Church is at a crossroads.” By Haidee V. Eugenio, Pacific Daily News

Church wants 80-plus clergy sex abuse cases moved from local to federal court
“The Archdiocese of Agana seeks the transfer of more than 80 clergy sex abuse cases from local court to federal court which it says has jurisdiction over the archdiocese’s reorganization bankruptcy filing. Attorneys for the archdiocese filed notices of removal over the last few days, citing a provision in the U.S. Code that authorizes the removal of claims or causes of action in a civil action that are ‘related to’ bankruptcy cases.” By Haidee V. Eugenio, Pacific Daily News


Despite scandal, St. Thomas Christians in Kerala are staying with church
“On a hot Sunday morning as high Mass let out at St. Thomas Kottakavu Church, Niya Francis, 24, found her shoes among a sea of sandals left outside the church doorway and joined her fellow catechism teachers as they headed to class in a small building next door. Teaching her faith has been something Francis has wanted to do as soon as she was old enough to command a classroom … While Syro-Malabar Catholics number just 5.1 million out of 1.2 billion Roman Catholics worldwide, in Kerala, Syro-Malabar Catholics make up the majority of Christians. In a country that’s predominantly Hindu, Kochi stands out with a near 40 percent Christian population.” By Denise Chen, Religion News Service, National Catholic Reporter

India Cardinal mounts strong defense of ‘zero tolerance’ on abuse
“Cardinal Oswald Gracias of Bombay, India, a member of Pope Francis’s council of cardinals which advises him on Vatican reform and one of four figures tapped to organize a recent summit on the fight against clerical sexual abuse, says Catholic parents have the right to know the Church is genuinely committed to ‘zero tolerance.’ By Inés San Martin, Cruxnow.com


Northern Ireland abuse survivors lose compensation case
“Northern Ireland Secretary Karen Bradley’s ongoing failure to compensate victims of historical abuse in the absence of a Stormont executive is not unlawful, a High Court judge in Belfast has ruled. An abuse survivor failed in his bid to compel Mrs Bradley to implement stalled redress mechanisms for victims and call an Assembly election. But Judge Bernard McCloskey opened the door for a further potential challenge if Mrs Bradley does not act on draft legislation on the compensation scheme that has been developed by Stormont civil servants.” By The Irish Times


Ending impunity for child abuse
“Help a child being abused and report the crime to civil authorities. In an article published in the January 2019 issue of the ‘World Mission’ magazine, Fr. Shay Cullen of the Preda Foundation wrote that, ‘Every one of us has a solemn duty and responsibility to stop (child abuse).’ Twice nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize, the member of the Missionary Society of St. Columban co-founded the People’s Recovery Empowerment Development Assistance (Preda) Foundation, an Olongapo City organization promoting and protecting the rights of women and children.” By Cebu Sun Star Editorial Board