Voice of the Faithful Focus, Aug. 16, 2017


Ex-Catholic bishop of Phoenix accused of sex abuse of boy
“A former bishop who led the Roman Catholic church in metro Phoenix during a worldwide child sexual abuse scandal has been accused of molesting a young boy 35 years ago. Retired Bishop Thomas O’Brien is accused in a lawsuit of sexually abusing the boy on several occasions at parishes in Phoenix and Goodyear from 1977 to 1982. The Diocese of Phoenix says O’Brien denies the allegation.” By The Associated Press in The New York Times
Lawsuit accuses former Phoenix bishop of sexually abusing boy, By Matt Stevens, The New York Times
Dark cloud of alleged sex abuse continue to follow former Phoenix bishop O’Brien, By Sean Holstege, Phoenix New Times

Canon expert: Vatican protected bishops for centuries
“The ongoing canonical trial of Guam Archbishop Anthony Apuron is significant in that it’s only the second time in centuries a bishop has been put on trial by the church, said Thomas Doyle, a Catholic priest and former board member of the Canon Law Society of America. The last archbishop to undergo a canonical trial — Jozef Wesołowski, who was accused of sexually abusing children in the Dominican Republic — was defrocked in 2014.” By Steve Limtiaco, Pacific Daily News

German abuse report ‘shocking’ and not the end, Church expert says
“Jesuit Father Hans Zollner, a leading anti-abuse expert and a member of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, called a report documenting hundreds of cases of physical and sexual abuse at a German boys’ choir ‘shocking,’ and warned that as the taboo lifts in other parts of the world, similar accounts are likely to keep emerging.” By Ines San Martin, Cruxnow.com

On abuse: Francis yet to make critical clerical changes
“NCR’s editorial, ‘On Abuse: church has changed but not enough,’ rightly identifies the all-male clerical culture as a critical factor in the sex abuse scandal, but it fails to point to the failure of Pope Francis to change parts of canon law that embody that culture.” Commentary by Kieran Tapsell, National Catholic Reporter

Bankrupt archdiocese files objections to creditors’ reorganization plan
“The bankrupt Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis says the latest reorganization plan proposed for the church by creditors would strip it of all assets required to pursue the church’s mission. The archdiocese filed its objections to the creditors’ plan Friday (Aug. 4) and urged acceptance of its own $156 million settlement. ‘The committee’s plan isn’t a reorganization plan, it’s an unlawful dismantling of the Catholic Church in the Twin Cities,’ read a joint statement from Tom Abood, chair of the Archdiocesan Finance Council and Brian Short, a member of the Archdiocesan Corporate Board of Directors. ‘The committee’s plan is also simply unworkable from a legal or practical basis.’” By Martin Moylan, Minnesota Public Radio


Petition seeks to place ex-priest in secured treatment facility
“Ex-priest Paul Shanley was released from prison on July 28 after serving 12 years for child sex abuse, but some worry he still poses a danger to children. Two organizations, Real Women Real Stories and Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, also known as SNAP, are co-sponsoring an online petition, ‘Victims’ Plea: Place Rapist Ex-Priest in a Secured Treatment Center,’ that urges ‘the Boston Archdiocese and the State of Boston to insist Shanley live in a facility where he can receive treatment and where he will have no access to children, and to wear a GPS bracelet so that his whereabouts can be tracked on anytime.’” By Maria Benvento, National Catholic Reporter

Statement on Pell case by Bishopaccountability.org
“Although today’s (Jul. 26) hearing in Melbourne was merely procedural, its impact will be felt worldwide. Whatever the outcome of the case against Pell, his presence today in a secular courtroom marks the victory of transparency over secrecy, and of the rule of law over the Vatican’s failed strategy of containment.” By Anne Barrett Doyle, BishopAccountability.org Co-Director, posted by Tom Roberts, National Catholic Reporter


What historians will say about Francis
“A recent column by Ross Douthat in the New York Times (‘Pope Francis’ Next Act’ July 15, 2017) tags the issue of communion for the divorced and remarried as the ‘great controversy’ of the past two years of the Francis pontificate. He says it has reached ‘a stalemate,’ with Francis on the one side, and ‘bishops the world over’ on the other. Now that Cardinal George Pell has gone to Australia to face sex abuse charges, and Cardinal Gerhard Mueller’s term as Prefect of the CDF has not been renewed, and Cardinal Meisner has died, and Cardinal Angelo Scola has retired from the Archdiocese of Milan, Douthat worries that ‘resistance to Francis in the highest reaches of the hierarchy’ is eroding. What will be the ‘next act’ of the ‘drama’ of this ‘liberal pope’?” By Rita Ferrone, Commonweal


Why Pope Francis’ appointment of the new archbishop of Milan is a big deal
“The Vatican announced on July 7 that Pope Francis had appointed Auxiliary Bishop Mario Delpini as the next archbishop of Milan, succeeding the retiring Cardinal Angelo Scola. Bishop Delpini, a native of the archdiocese, lives in a very modest home mostly for retired priests about a mile northeast of the cathedral, with its old and venerable archbishop’s palace across the piazza. He is in close contact with the clergy of the archdiocese, where he has served most of his priestly life.” By Edward W. Schmidt, America: The Jesuit Review


Changing the parish to help keep unity in a changing Church
“Personal parishes sort and separate like-minded Catholics. There are now (by formal decree) personal parishes whose primary focus is social justice, the Traditional Latin Mass, charismatic Catholicism, Anglican Use, tourism, college ministry, and more.” By Charles C. Camosy, Cruxnow.com

Hundreds of Dallas Catholics join the Pope’s worldwide effort to engage Millennials
“Earlier this year, Pope Francis wrote a letter to young Catholics around the world and asked them to share ‘your voice, your sensitivities and your faith; even your doubts and your criticism.’ The Diocese of Dallas responded to the request by inviting representatives from over 50 local parishes to join in a three-day convocation on young Catholics, called Feedback for Francis.” By Claire Ballor, Dallas Morning News

Is the Catholic Church a capsizing ship?
“Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI recently likened the Catholic Church to a capsizing ship. Benedict’s use of the phrase came in an elegant tribute to Cardinal Joachim Meisner of Germany, who died recently. In it, Benedict praised Meisner’s faith and ‘conviction, that the Lord does not abandon His Church, even when sometimes the boat has taken on so much water as to be on the verge of capsizing.’ Conservatives in Catholic cyberspace jumped all over that phrase, seeing it as Benedict’s coded critique of Pope Francis.” By Chris Lowney, Religion News Service

Cathedral emerges from surging growth of Catholic Church
“While Catholic churches are closing in other parts of the U.S. because of declining members, the Catholic Church in North Carolina is experiencing record-setting growth. A steady stream of parishioners packs the pews at St. Catherine of Siena Catholic Church in Wake Forest every Sunday. ‘Coming from different places around the country, it was sort of a mediocre turnout, and we came here, and it just seems to grow and grow,’ said Tom Ranaudo, who moved to the Triangle with his wife, Darlene, about a decade ago. ‘It’s really fantastic to see.’ The Ranaudos said the thriving Catholic Church in the region is more than just people moving to North Carolina.” By WRAL-TV


That sneaky clericalism
“Jesus warned about it. Luther revolted against it. Pope Francis is trying to deal with it. Yet clericalism – a priest or clergyman placing himself above the laity – is still alive. We all know its effects are negative: abuse of power, passivity of the laity (‘pray, pay, and obey’) and ‘project[ing] an image of power and privilege’ of the Church in the context of poverty. Concretely, it’s why many have left the Church in disillusionment.” By Henoch Derbew, The Jesuit Post


Sister leaders to connect contemplation with real world at 2017 LSCW assembly
“The 2017 assembly for the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR) in Orlando, Florida, is not going to be a business meeting. It will be a spiritual experience, said Sr. Catherine Bertrand, a School Sister of Notre Dame and the assembly’s facilitator, with as many experiences as women in the room. The conference represents about 80 percent of the 48,500-some women religious in the U.S. Because of the popularity of last year’s format, the conference will engage in contemplative dialogue for the second time at its Aug. 8-11 assembly.” By Soli Salgado, Global Sisters Report, National Catholic Reporter


Quebec bishop gets Vatican OK for nun to officiate at wedding
“When no priests were available, the bishop of the Quebec Diocese of Rouyn-Noranda sought and received Vatican permission for a local nun to officiate at a recent wedding. While the story has been portrayed around the world as a sign that Pope Francis is changing the role of women in the church, Bishop Dorylas Moreau said the wedding was carried out according to a long-established provision of canon law.” By Deborah Gyapong, Cruxnow.com

U.S. Catholic communications expert is first woman to be Signis president
“U.S. communications expert Helen Osman has begun a four-year term as the new president of Signis, the World Catholic Association for Communication, based in Brussels. An internationally recognized journalist, writer and communications professional, Osman is the first woman and first North American to be president of Signis. She was elected in June to succeed Gustavo Andujar of Cuba, who was elected at the 2014 Signis World Congress in Rome. He did not run for re-election.” By Catholic News Service on Cruxnow.com


A Vatican shot across the bow for hard-line U.S. Catholics
“Two close associates of Pope Francis have accused American Catholic ultraconservatives of making an alliance of ‘hate’ with evangelical Christians to back President Trump, further alienating a group already out of the Vatican’s good graces. The authors, writing in a Vatican-vetted journal, singled out Stephen K. Bannon, Mr. Trump’s chief strategist, as a ‘supporter of an apocalyptic geopolitics’ that has stymied action against climate change and exploited fears of migrants and Muslims with calls for ‘walls and purifying deportations.’ By Jason Horowitz, The New York Times
Evangelical Fundamentalism and Catholic Integralism: A Surprising Ecumenism, By Antonio Spadaro and Marcelo Figueroa, La Civilta Cattolica
Exclusive interview: Antonio Spadaro on his article about ‘The Ecumenism of Hate’ in the U.S., By Gerard O’Connell, America: The Jesuit Review
A note on the ‘ecumenism of hate’ and papal rhetoric, By Father Raymond J. de Souza, Cruxnow.com

The Vatican’s America problem
“…In the United States there was no ancien regime to imagine restoring, no plausible scenario in which the integration of church and state might be achieved — and Catholics had been trying to prove their patriotism in a largely Protestant country by rallying to the republic since the founding era …” By Ross Douthat, The New York Times

Vatican article on ‘ecumenism of hate’ in U.S. was long overdue
“Recently two intrepid souls, both of whom reportedly hold Pope Francis’s confidence, sought to advance a long-overdue conversation on the division of the Church in America along political lines. They’re Jesuit Father Antonio Spadaro, editor–in–chief of the Jesuit publication ‘La Civilità Cattolica,’ and Presbyterian Rev. Marcelo Figueroa, editor–in–chief of the Argentinean edition of ‘L’Osservatore Romano,’ and whatever the gaps in details may be, the heart of their argument is long overdue.” By Steven A. Krueger, Cruxnow.com


The implosion of the Roman Catholic Church
“… A Church where the most important decisions are made almost exclusively by a celibate male clergy, and where bishops are held to little or no accountability, is unsustainable in a world where patriarchal and monarchical societies—begrudgingly, but steadily—are ceding rights and duties to those who are not part of the nobility, the clergy, or one specific gender …” By Robert Mickens, Commonweal

Can the church change its focus from rules to people?
“It is difficult to know which direction the church will take in the future. Francis seems to recognize that the church is not an island but lives and operates in a larger world and a larger context. We need to recognize what is good about the world in which we live. We need to learn from those around us as well as those who make up our own insular community.” By Pat Perriello, National Catholic Reporter


Priest accused of embezzlement seeks $800K seized by police
“The attorney for a Michigan priest accused of bilking a Catholic church that’s missing millions of dollars asked a judge Friday to authorize the release of $800,000 seized by police to his client. The Rev. Jonathan Wehrle is charged with embezzling $100,000 or more from St. Martha Parish in Okemos, Michigan, but prosecutors say an ongoing audit shows an estimated $5 million is missing from the Lansing-area Roman Catholic church.” By Associated Press on WFLA.com

Church volunteer accused of skimming cash, perhaps as much as $40,000
“A 64-year-old woman with a history of criminal convictions in St. Croix County faces new charges after allegedly stealing thousands of dollars in collection offerings from a Hudson church. Authorities suspect Kathryn R. Burge likely pocketed money while passing through the St. Patrick’s Catholic Church confessional on her way to a room where the funds were to be placed into cash bags, according to the charging document.” By Mike Longaecker, The Globe, Hudson, Wisconsin

Ex-pastor sentenced in scheme to steal Maryland church funds
“A former Catholic priest in Maryland is facing 18 months home confinement after pleading guilty in a scheme to steal church funds. Seventy-one-year-old Rev. John Mattingly of Charlotte Hall was sentenced Monday (Jul. 31) to three years supervised release, including the home confinement period. He also was ordered to pay $400,000 restitution, which was paid prior to the sentencing hearing.” By Associated Press on ABC2News.com

Commentator sees ‘thin results’ from Pope’s financial ‘shock therapy’
“One of Italy’s most respected political journalists wrote on Saturday (Jul. 29) in ‘Corriere della Sera,’ considered the country’s paper of record, that the ‘shock therapy’ Francis tried to impose on Vatican finances has yielded ‘thin results.’ Massimo Franco also suggested things are drifting back toward what Vatican insiders call “normality,” meaning the situation prior to the initial reforms three years ago, and that another key figure in the pope’s attempted reform may soon be gone.” By Cruxnow.com Staff


Sex abuse litigation prompted effort to update state law regarding statute of limitations
“The sponsor of 2015 Georgia General Assembly legislation that extended the statute of limitations on childhood sexual abuse civil lawsuits is now supporting a tougher bill. State Rep. Jason Spencer, R-Woodbine, held a press conference at the Capitol Wednesday (Aug. 2) morning surrounded by victims’ advocates and those who have filed litigation under the Hidden Predator Act.” By Nick Watson, Gainesville Times


The Catholic Church’s words ring hollow in light of merciless legal tactics
“In public, the Catholic Church has made promises of compassion to survivors of child sexual assault for decades. Privately, however, it empowered lawyers to ‘strenuously’ defend every Common Law claim brought against the institution. ‘The way the church is treating us now is actually adding to the abuse we suffered when we were kids,’ a survivor confided. The church has built a ruthless reputation for its range of legal tactics, from stonewalling to counter-attack.” By Paul Kennedy, ABC News Australia

In predominantly Catholic Guam, clergy sex abuse lawsuits near 100 mark
“Nearly 100 lawsuits have accused Catholic clergy in Guam of sex abuse over a 50 year timespan, alleging assault, manipulation and intimidation of the alleged victims, according to a new report. The accused include Archbishop Anthony Apuron, 13 Guam priests, a Catholic schoolteacher, a Catholic school janitor and a Boy Scout leader. The Archdiocese of Agana is a defendant in 96 lawsuits, which concern claims from 1955 to 1994, reports the USA Today Network’s Pacific Daily News.” By Catholic News Agency

Police report paints damning picture of ‘Archangel’ charged with abuse
“Members of a Catholic spiritual movement in Italy are rallying around their leader who’s facing charges of sexual abuse against girls, some as young as 11 years old, but a police pre-trial report obtained by Crux tells a different story, suggesting the lay leader of the movement routinely asked girls for sexual favors and even fined them for refusing to comply.” By Claire Giangrave, Cruxnow.com


Father figures: the untold financial, emotional and spiritual cost of New Mexico’s Catholic priest sex crimes
“A quarter century after the last time (Brad) Hall can recall seeing his basketball pal, (Clifford) Esquibel walked into his office. ‘I was the first person he ever told all about being an altar boy in the archdiocese,’ Hall says. Esquibel revealed that the Rev. John George Weisenborn, a priest at a different parish in Albuquerque who had a history of sexual abuse known to the church, had sexually molested him as a boy over the course of several years.” By Matt Grubs, Santa Fe Reporter


Trial date stands for accused Aurora priest facing deportation
“A Kane County judge decided not to move up the jury trial of a former Aurora priest facing deportation along with felony charges of child sex abuse. Prosecutors last week filed a motion asking for the trial of Alfredo Pedraza Arias to start sooner. However, Kane County Judge Linda Abrahamson Monday (Aug. 7) ordered the trial date to remain Sept. 18.” By Hannah Leone, Chicago Tribune


Overland Park Catholic priest charges with child sex crimes
“Authorities say a Catholic priest charged in Wyandotte County with child sex crimes has been arrested in Maryland. The Wyandotte County prosecutor’s office announced Tuesday (Jul. 25) that the Rev. Scott Kallal was charged Friday with two counts of aggravated indecent liberties with a child. Online court records show the 35-year-old was arrested Monday in Rockville in Maryland’s Montgomery County.” By Chris Oberholtz, KCTV-TV


Freed pedophile priest moves across from kids’ dance studio
“A defrocked priest at the heart of Boston’s Catholic clergy sex abuse scandal was released from prison Friday (Jul. 28) and settled into an apartment across the street from a children’s dance studio. Paul Shanley, who was convicted of raping a boy in the 1980s, moved to the town of Ware, 65 miles west of Boston, after his release from the Old Colony Correctional Center, where he served a 12-year sentence.” By Newser.com
Thousands sign petition calling for Shanley to live in treatment facility, By Danny McDonald, The Boston Globe

Abuse survivors say ex-priest should be kept far from kids
“A group representing survivors of priest sex abuse is calling for a former priest recently released from prison to be placed in a secure treatment facility far from children. Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests has launched an online petition urging the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Boston and the state to take the extra measures after the former priest, Paul Shanley, was released last week.” By Associated Press
Landlord to sex offenders in Ware says safe home cuts risk, By Elaine Thomspon, Worcester Telegram & Gazette


Newly ordained priest charged with groping teen girl
“Authorities say a newly ordained Roman Catholic priest in New Jersey has been charged with groping a teen girl under her skirt. The Morris County prosecutor’s office said that the Rev. Marcin Nurek was charged last week with endangering the welfare of a child and criminal sexual contact. They say the 37-year-old touched the teen girl’s buttocks in Boonton over her underwear and told her she was ‘sexy.’” By Associated Press in U.S. News & World Report


Delays common in reporting child sexual abuse
“Last Monday (Jul. 17), the State Attorney General announced charges against another priest accused of sexually abusing a child. The alleged abuse happened two-and-a-half decades ago. Attorney General Josh Shapiro announced the case against retired priest John Thomas Sweeney outside the Westmoreland County Catholic school where the alleged abuse occurred in the 1991-92 school year.” By Radio Pennsylvania on WTIF.org


Abuse victim accuses diocese of breaking its own rules
“The Ballarat Diocese is being accused of breaking its own guidelines in its legal fight against a compensation claim from a victim of notorious paedophile priest Gerald Ridsdale, ABC News reports. The Church released new guidelines for dealing with civil claims for child sexual abuse in November 2015, which state a claimant would not be required to prove the elements of an abuse case that the Church authority had already accepted to be true.” By CathNews.com

Child sex abuse royal commission chair calls for change as cases double but conviction rates fall
“Justice Peter McClellan is calling for changes to legal processes and the rules of evidence to ensure victims are given the best chance of receiving justice. In a speech to be delivered to a conference in Sydney today (Aug. 1), Justice McClellan said the work of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse had seen many more victims coming forward to police. But official data shows conviction rates are down and the chances of an offender being acquitted have risen rather than fallen.” By Jean Kennedy, ABC News Australia

Brisbane Catholic girls school rocked by sex abuse claim
“A Catholic girls school in Brisbane is the latest institution to be rocked by allegations of historical child sexual abuse. Mount St Michael’s College in Ashgrove principal Sharon Volp sent an email to current and former students on Monday (Jul. 31) confirming it had received a ‘formal complaint’ about a former staff member between 1976-1978.” By Brisbane Times

Former Vic priest faces 1970s sex offenses
“A former Catholic priest has appeared briefly in a Melbourne court via video link facing historical sex charges dating back to the 1970s. Frank Klep, 74, is facing four charges of indecent assault against a male, with the alleged offences occurring between 1976 and 1982 while he was a priest and teacher at Salesian College Rupertswood at Sunbury.” By Australian Associated Press on 9News.com.au


Clergy sex abuse mediation on shaky ground
“Dozens of clergy abuse lawsuits are scheduled to go through mediation later this year, but David Lujan, the attorney representing those plaintiffs, on Monday (Aug. 7) said he is prepared to abandon mediation altogether and take the cases to trial. At issue is four abuse lawsuits filed against Archbishop Anthony Apuron, who does not want to participate in mediation with his accusers and who instead wants the federal court to move forward and rule on his motions to dismiss the cases.” By Haidee Eugenio, Pacific Daily News

Nearly 100 sex abuse suits against Catholic priests rock island of Guam
“It started off innocently: a 15-year-old boy helping out at San Miguel, a local church named for Archangel Michael. There was yard work and cleaning, followed by invitations to the rectory to eat and watch TV. Soon, there were offers to drink sacramental wine and watch X-rated movies, and then sexual assault. More than 50 times over three years. By the parish priest. Those jarring allegations come from a recent lawsuit claiming assault from 1985 to 1988. It is one of nearly 100 lawsuits that describe rampant child sexual abuse by some of Guam’s most revered men: the Catholic clergy.” By Haidee Eugenio, Steve Limtiaco and Dana Williams, Religion News Service


‘You’re presumed guilty and priests are terrified’ – Irish priest falsely accused of sexually abusing a child
“A priest who was falsely accused of sexually abusing a child has called the ordeal ‘years of hell’ and said he received no official support from the Catholic church. Father Tim Hazelwood said that factors such as years of scandals involving the church and an increased workload are putting our clergymen at an increased risk of suicide and he is encouraging them to reach out if they are under strain.” By Kathy Armstrong, Irish Independent


Pedophile priest’s pic taken down at Dunedin’s Kavanagh College
“A paedophile priest’s picture has been removed from the wall at Dunedin’s Kavanagh College after a group of old boys complained. But the group’s call for the Catholic college to consider a name change, to end another association with the priest’s dark past, has been rejected.” By Chris Morris, New Zealand Herald


What’s going on in the Philippines: “101 East’s” sins of the father
“In February 2017, Al Jazeera’s ‘101 East’ produced this 25-minute documentary feature about sexual abuse in the Catholic Church in the Philippines. It’s a great primer for anyone interested in learning more about the clergy sexual abuse crisis in this VERY Catholic country. Here’s a peek at what you’ll see …” By Joelle Casteix, TheWorthyAdversary.com

How CBCP probes clergy sexual abuse
“The human trafficking case filed against Taytay-based priest Arnel Lagarejos is one of the rare instances a member of the Roman Catholic clergy has been hauled into a criminal court. But the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) is no stranger to complaints of sexual misconduct, including child molestation, against priests. Retired Archbishop Emeritus Oscar Cruz, who is investigating 55-year-old Lagarejos following his arrest on July 28 for bringing a 13-year-old to a motel, has been leading the CBCP’s national tribunal that probes about 60 cases of clergy misconduct every year, including those against priests involved in money scandals, priests siring children, and pedophilic priests.” By Anton Onato, ABC CBN News on News.ABS-CBN.com
Sexually deviant priests sent to Tagaytay for rehab, By Anton C. Onato, ABS CBN News

Priest nabbed ‘en route to motel’ with 13-year-old girl
“A priest who heads a Catholic school was arrested on Friday (Jul. 28) night as he was allegedly taking a 13-year-old girl to a motel in Marikina City. Msgr. Arnel Lagarejos, 55, underwent inquest proceedings on Saturday (Jul. 29) afternoon for alleged violation of the Anti-Human Trafficking in Persons Act following his arrest around 6:30 p.m. on July 28 near Blue Wave Mall on Sumulong Highway in Barangay Sto. Niño.” By The East Asia Star
Filipino priest in child abuse case suspended, By Manolo B. Jara, The Gulf Today
Priest nabbed with 13-year-old girl gets bail, By Joe Torres, UCANews.com
Priest in child abuse charge faces 12 years in jail, By Manolo Jara, The Gulf Today


Self-proclaimed ‘Archangel’ arrested for sex abuse in Sicily
“The leader of a Catholic lay organization in Sicily, who proclaimed himself to be an Archangel, was arrested August 1 for sexually abusing at least six underage girls with the help of three female accomplices. The association was founded by renowned exorcist and ‘spiritual son’ of Padre Pio, Father Stefano Cavalli, who died in 2015.” By Claire Giangrave, Cruxnow.com