Voice of the Faithful Focus, Dec. 20, 2019


Pope Francis abolishes the pontifical secret for sexual misconduct cases involving clerics
“In a decision of enormous importance, long called for by survivors of abuse and their advocates, Pope Francis has abolished the pontifical secret for sexual misconduct cases concerning clerics. The ‘pontifical secret’ is not related to the seal of the confessional, which remains absolute in Catholic teaching and practice. Rather, the pontifical secret refers to confidentiality in the church’s judicial handling of clerical sex abuse and other grave crimes (as well as secrecy in other areas, such as some matters concerning the appointment of cardinals and bishops). The secrecy ensures that cases are dealt with in strict confidentiality.” By Gerard O’Connell, America: The Jesuit Review

The Vatican is using donations for the poor to fight its budget deficit, report says
As little as 10% of donations by Roman Catholics that are specifically advertised as helping the poor and suffering actually go toward charitable work, a new report says. About two-thirds of the rest of the $55 million in donations for Pope Francis’ annual charitable appeal, known as Peter’s Pence, is used to fill the Vatican’s administrative budget deficit, The Wall Street Journal reported in an article Wednesday (Dec. 11), citing sources familiar with the spending.” By Dan Mangan, CNBC

Bishops takes new actions to hold themselves accountable for abuse in 2019
“The clergy sexual abuse crisis continued to command a large amount of attention and action from the U.S. bishops throughout 2019. The year was headlined by actions during the bishops’ spring general assembly during which they approved a plan to implement Pope Francis’ ‘motu proprio’ on addressing abuse. The pope issued his document, ‘Vos Estis Lux Mundi’ (‘You are the light of the world’), in May to help the Catholic Church safeguard its members from abuse and hold its leaders accountable.” By Catholic News Service in CatholicPhilly.com

Abuse, safeguarding and the survivors’ stories
“If the Church is to become a safe place for children and vulnerable adults, those who have suffered abuse must be listened to. Three of the victims of abuse by Catholic priests who gave evidence to the IICSA hearings tell their stories to The Tablet. Nolan and Cumberlege. These two names were repeated day after day, by witness after witness, at the various hearings in the inquiry into the extent of failures to protect children from sexual abuse within the Roman Catholic Church in England and Wales: one of the 15 investigations into a broad range of institutions being conducted by the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA).” By Catherine Pepinster, The Tablet

A look at 15 states making it easier to sue over sex abuse
“Fifteen states have revised their laws in the past two years extending or suspending statute of limitations to allow child sex abuse claims stretching back decades, unleashing potentially thousands of new lawsuits against the U.S. Roman Catholic Church. Some highlights of the new laws …” By Associated Press in National Catholic Reporter


Pontifical Secret Abolished: Additional Media Coverage

Catholic activism, not repentance for sexual abuse, is what forces clergy to resign
“The Roman Catholic bishop of Buffalo, New York, Richard Malone, became the seventh U.S. bishop since 2015 to be forced out of power for his role in covering up clergy sexual abuse cases … By comparison, during the prior 35 years, only three U.S. bishops had resigned because of the scandal, even though there were more than 10,000 cases of clergy sexual abuse reported to the American bishops during that time. In my research, I have found that this increase in bishop accountability is due not to an improvement in the Vatican’s protocols, but rather to the activism of local Catholic reform groups.” By Brian Clites, TheConversation.com

Across the country, the Catholic church is under pressure to name abusers
“Survivors of clergy abuse across Canada are mobilizing, with growing calls for greater transparency and accountability in the Catholic church over its handling of sexual abuse cases. Actions span from London, Ont., where a group of survivors has published names of credibly accused priests, to St. John’s, where the archbishop is under pressure to release names, and Ottawa, where a petition to the House of Commons is calling for a public inquiry.” By Tavia Grant, The Globe and Mail

Silence lifting over clergy abuse
“During Pope Francis’ recent visit to Japan, Harumi Suzuki stood where his motorcade passed by holding a sign that read: ‘I am a survivor.’ Katsumi Takenaka stood at another spot, on another day, holding up his banner that read, ‘Catholic child sexual abuse in Japan, too.’ The two are among a handful of people who have gone public as survivors of Catholic clergy sexual abuse in Japan, where values of conformity and harmony have resulted in a strong code of silence. But as in other parts of the world, from Pennsylvania to Chile, Takenaka and Suzuki are starting to feel less alone as other victims have come forward despite the ostracism they and their family members often face for speaking out.” By Yuri Kageyama, Associated Press, in Northwest Arkansas Democrat Gazette


Pope removes shroud of secrecy from clergy sex abuse cases
“ Pope Francis abolished the use of the Vatican’s highest level of secrecy in clergy sexual abuse cases Tuesday (Dec. 17), responding to mounting criticism that the rule of ‘pontifical secrecy’ has been used to protect pedophiles, silence victims and prevent police from investigating crimes. Victims and their advocates cheered the move as long overdue, but cautioned that the proof of its effectiveness would come when the Catholic hierarchy is forced to respond to national inquiries, grand jury subpoenas and criminal prosecutors who are increasingly demanding all internal documentation about abusers.” By Nicole Winfield, Associated Press

Pope’s 2019: Preaching the Gospel globally, dealing with scandals
For Pope Francis, 2019 included his sixth anniversary as pope, his 83rd birthday and his 50th anniversary as a priest, but it also was a year that saw him still confronted with the clerical sexual abuse crisis and with Vatican financial scandals. He earned more points than ever on his frequent-flyer card, making seven foreign trips in 2019, traveling almost 52,000 miles … Continuing to push the idea of a “synodal church,” one in which all the faithful are asked to reflect on specific issues and then the bishops gather to discern practical responses together, Francis hosted a special Synod of Bishops for the Amazon and issued his post-synod document on young people, Christus Vivit …” By Cindy Wooden, Catholic News Service, on Cruxnow.com

What lies beneath all the criticism of Pope Francis?
“Schisms and rumors of schisms troubled the end of summer as preparations began in Rome for the Synod of Bishops for the Pan-Amazon region—at least among folks who comprise what is known as Catholic Twitter. On that occasionally benighted platform, 240-character communiqués from crowds of Henny Pennies in all corners of the church’s various cultural blocs weighed in with the latest news about the internal crumbling of the church.” By Kevin Clarke, U.S. Catholic


Lawsuit: McCarrick victim told pope of sex abuse in 1988
“A man claims in a lawsuit filed under a recently enacted New Jersey law that he told Pope John Paul II in 1988 about being sexually abused as a child by the priest who would become Cardinal Theodore McCarrick but that the Vatican did nothing — claims he also made in a lawsuit this summer in New York. James Grein alleged Thursday (Dec. 5) that McCarrick, a family friend, abused him for two decades starting when he was 11 in the late 1960s when McCarrick was serving in New Jersey.” By David Porter, Associated Press


Montreal’s Dowd shows different face of ‘the bishops’ on the abuse crisis
“Every Catholic, sooner or later, is tempted to despair about ‘the bishops,”’ no matter what their particular lament or desideratum … On no front has that been truer of late than the clerical sexual abuse crisis. Indeed, sometimes it seems the lone thing the Catholic left and right can agree on vis-à-vis the scandals is the dismal performance of the hierarchy. For everyone tempted to such a complaint, however, there’s also Bishop Thomas Dowd.” By John L. Allen, Jr., Cruxnow.com

Bishop Scharfenberger, a passionate advocate for his beliefs
“In his five years at the helm of Albany’s Roman Catholic Diocese, Bishop Edward Scharfenberger has fulfilled expectations that he would speak his mind on controversial issues and be a vigorous advocate for his faith, a friend of the cleric for more than 20 years said. Michael Long, former chairman of the state Conservative Party and a Brooklyn native, as is Scharfenberge, said the bishop has distinguished himself as an effective leader of his faith amid challenging times. ‘He is outspoken, and he has always been a very solid person who believes very strongly in Catholic values,’ Long told CNHI.” By Joe Mahoney, CNHI State Reporter, in Niagara Gazette

U.S. bishop resigns amid abuse cover-up accusations
“The Vatican has announced the resignation of a U.S. bishop who faced widespread criticism for his handling of sexual abuse claims. Bishop Richard J Malone of New York state’s Buffalo oversaw one of the country’s most scandal-hit dioceses. It is facing more than 200 lawsuits and an FBI investigation. In a statement, Bishop Malone said that ‘after much prayer and discernment’ he had decided the diocese would be better served by a new bishop. At 73, he is leaving earlier than the 75-year mark that is the mandatory age for bishops to offer their retirement.” By BBC News

German bishop accused of taking $140,000 from elderly woman’s account
“A German bishop has been relieved of all his diocesan responsibilities after being charged by prosecutors with taking more than $140,000 from an elderly woman’s account. Bishop Johannes Bündgens ‘left all offices’ in the Diocese of Aachen following charges by state authorities in Cologne.” By Catholic News Agency


It’s a ‘great injustice’ to link homosexuality and pedophilia, hurts faithful gay priests, Vatican official says
“As the Catholic Church deals with cases of pedophilia and sexual misconduct worldwide, one Vatican official says that neither homosexuality nor celibacy should be linked to cases of sexual abuse of children by priests. Jordi Bertomeu Farnos of the Vatican Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) stated that homosexuality and celibacy are not the causes of sexual abuse. Farnos based his conclusions on approximately 6,000 cases of abuse investigated by the CDF. He also served as a special investigator in the Chilean Catholic sex abuse cases.” By Jeffery Martin, Newsweek

U.S. Catholic priests beset by overwork, isolation, scandals
“More than a century ago, waves of Catholic immigrants from Ireland, Poland and Quebec settled in Chicopee and other western Massachusetts mill towns, helping build churches, rectories and schools to accommodate their faith. Today the priests leading those churches are under siege due to stresses, challenges and sex abuse scandals complicating their lives and those of their fellow priests across the United States.” By David Crary, Associated Press

Goodbye, climbers! We need to restore servant leadership in the priesthood
“When I was in the seminary in Rome, we called them ‘Alpiners,’ the ‘climbers’ among our fellow seminarians who were ambitious to climb up the corporate ladder of the church. They had a secret (or not so secret) ambition to be a bishop or a Vatican official. Sometimes it was painfully obvious. One guy was caught with a ‘hope chest’ in his room, full of bishops’ accoutrements like miters, a pectoral cross and a collapsible crozier.” By Fr. Peter Daly, National Catholic Reporter


The scriptural case for women deacons
“The synod on the Pan-Amazonian region re-opened the question of whether women can be deacons in the church. But we can return to the beginning as we contemplate the future. The New Testament not only gives us women deacons, but we know one of their names: Phoebe. This is her hour. Because Jesus never refers to priests, deacons or ordination in any direct way, our discussion should take us to the earliest literature in the New Testament: the letters and ministerial practice of the Apostle Paul.” By Micah D. Kiel, America: The Jesuit Review


Alleged U.S. sex abuse victims sue Vatican over secrecy policy
“Seven people who say they were sexually abused by Roman Catholic priests when they were children sued the Vatican on Tuesday (Dec. 17), saying that a secrecy policy imposed on U.S. bishops effectively fostered child sex abuse by some clergy. A state law that temporarily lifted the statute of limitations for civil lawsuits on child sex abuse cases cleared the way for the suit, which was filed in federal court in New York and seeks class-action status. The plaintiffs will face an uphill climb in the suit, since U.S. law acknowledges the Vatican as a sovereign entity not subject to U.S. courts.” By Reuters in The New York Times

Vatican began preparing weeks ago to replace Malone as bishop
“Buffalo Bishop Richard J. Malone said Wednesday (Dec. 4) he wasn’t forced to retire. In fact, though, Vatican officials had begun preparing to replace Malone at least three weeks ago. He and the other bishops in New York were in Rome Nov. 11 to 15 for what is known as an ad limina visit, a trip that occurs every few years to update the pope on the status of their dioceses. Archbishop Christophe Pierre, the Vatican’s ambassador to the United States, contacted Albany Bishop Edward Scharfenberger prior to the trip to Rome to ask whether he would be willing to take on a temporary role in Buffalo if Malone stepped down.” By Mary B. Pasciak, The Buffalo News


Rochester Diocese using old legal ‘playbook’ by declaring bankruptcy, say victims’ advocates
“When the Rochester Diocese became the first in New York State to file for bankruptcy in September, it didn’t come as a surprise to legal experts. With the state passing the Child Victims Act in August, extending the statute of limitations for sex abuse victims, the diocese was served with hundreds of lawsuits alleging abuse, dating back decades. Reeling under the financial weight of clerical sexual misconduct lawsuits, Rochester joined a list of other dioceses across the country that have also filed for bankruptcy protection.” By Sarah Salvadore, National Catholic Reporter

Diocese of Ogdensburg is less transparent
“This is the third consecutive year that Voice of the Faithful, a Roman Catholic lay organization founded in 2002 and devoted to monitoring church management of sex abuse and finances, has rated the financial transparency of 177 dioceses in the United States … In the 2019 report, the Diocese of Ogdensburg earned an overall score of 42. In the 2018 report, it earned an overall score of 40. What do the two scores say about Bishop Terry LaValley’s efforts over the last two years to advance financial transparency in the Diocese of Ogdensburg? They say that his efforts were either lame, ineffectual or virtually absent.” By Watertown Daily Times and Norther New York Newspapers on nny360.com

Vatican’s finance scandal, and faithful stewardship
“On Oct. 1, Vatican police raided the usually quiet offices of the Vatican’s Secretariat of State. They packed up documents, computers, and files, and banned employees from entering the premises. Since then, security and financial officials have resigned their positions, the Vatican has been excised from an international intelligence organization, and the details of a series of investments involving shady figures and banks, violations of canon law, and myriad holding companies and investment funds have emerged. Still, the unfolding financial scandal has not yet led to action at the Vatican. To understand why, it’s important to understand something about the scandal itself.” By J.D. Flynn, Catholic News Agency

Vatican investments linked to global money laundering investigations
“A fund in which the Vatican’s Secretariat of State has invested tens of millions of euros has links to two Swiss banks investigated or implicated in bribery and money laundering scandals involving more than one billion dollars. The fund is under investigation by Vatican authorities. The fund, Centurion Global Fund, made headlines this week (Dec. 7) that it used the Vatican assets under its management to invest in Hollywood films, real estate, and utilities, including investments in movies like ‘Men in Black International’ and the Elton John biopic ‘Rocketman.’” By Ed Condon, Catholic News Service


A University of Cambridge research project takes a frank look at clericalism and sexuality
“Since Pope Francis identified ‘clericalism’ as a key factor in the sexual abuse crisis, it has been a topic of intense discussion among both laypeople and priests. Francis sees it as a sickness that associates ministry with power rather than service. A hierarchical attitude that separates clergy and elevates them above the laity, clericalism seems to permeate the institutional church. But while there has been much discussion of clericalism and sexual abuse, the overall sexual behavior and identity of clergy is relatively unexamined territory.” By Catherine R. Osborne, America: The Jesuit Review


German Catholics complete final preparations for ‘synodal way’
“German Catholics insisted their national ‘synodal way’ reform consultation will have an impact on the church worldwide, as final preparations were completed for the consultation’s first plenary in January. ‘Our bishops’ conference verified the issues – authority, participation, the separation of powers, sexual morality, the priestly form of life, women in church services and orders – and wishes to face these issues, especially because a vast number of believers await this,’ said Matthias Kopp, the German bishops’ Bonn-based spokesman.” By Jonathan Luxmoore, Catholic News Service, in National Catholic Reporter


Portraits of resilience
“They came from different towns and cities, from different ethnic and economic backgrounds. They were A-students and outcasts, people of all ages. From their churches they sought love or guidance, a better education or a place that felt like home. They were believers before their trust was tested, fractured or blown apart entirely by sexual abuse at the hands of a priest.” By Wong Maye-e and Juliet Linderman, Associated Press

Ending pontifical secret a milestone, but there’s accountability beyond law
“Tuesday’s (Dec.17) news that Pope Francis essentially has abolished the requirement of pontifical secrecy for clerical sexual abuse cases means that robust cooperation with civil authorities is now a cornerstone not only of Church practice, but also Church law. That’s an important distinction, because in the U.S. and some other parts of the Catholic world, the pontifical secret had already been reinterpreted by bishops and canon lawyers to permit such cooperation, seen as essential not merely in the interests of justice but also to prevent the Church from being exposed to both civil and criminal liability.” By John L. Allen, Jr., Cruxnow.com

Why has the Catholic Church taken so long to address child sexual abuse
Why has the Catholic Church taken so long to confront child sexual abuse? In a Conflict Zone interview in Rome, Father Hans Zollner told DW’s Tim Sebastian: ‘There are factors that make it difficult to change.’ Zollner is the head of the Centre of Child Protection at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome, and was appointed by Pope Francis as a founding member of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors.” By Deutsche Welle

Church’s pledges don’t match behavior
“Sometimes it seems every pledge of reform by the Roman Catholic Church is matched by one — or more — reports of outrageous behavior. A permissive policy toward predator priests who molested children appears to have characterized church policy for decades, not just in the United States but also in many other countries. Church officials say they will crack down on that. No longer will molesters be shielded, they vow. But those pledges of turning over a new leaf have been coming forth for several years.” By The Journal


Eight states have ‘look back’ windows allowing survivors of priest abuse to seek justice
“Five years ago, such a thing would have been unimaginable. I have been an abuse survivor advocate and attorney for the past twenty years and the rapid change in state laws and the public’s perception of childhood sexual abuse has forced the Catholic Church to offer compensation funds in all the dioceses of New York, some in Pennsylvania and California in order to stave off civil lawsuits. In total, eight states have opened ‘look back’ windows, which allow adult victims of sex abuse to come forward with allegations from their childhoods, even if they have passed the statute of limitations.” By Joseph H. Saunders, The Legal Examiner

Pennsylvania’s recently approved statute of limitations reform fell short. Here’s how.
“This year, the legislature finally approved a small but meaningful measure of justice. We passed laws to eliminate the criminal statute of limitations for childhood abuse and raise the age to file civil suits from 30 to 55. This law also gives survivors, whose abuse happened between ages 18-23, until age 30 to file civil claims and 20 years after the offense for criminal claims. This will open the courthouse doors for many survivors who have been denied justice for too long … But we are not declaring victory yet.” By Tim Kearney and Katie Muth, Pennsylvania Capital-Star Op-Ed Contributors


Recommending “The List” – Commentary on Catholic Diocese of Charlotte and Its Yet to Be Fulfilled Promise to Release List of Abusive Priests
“As I have noted in previous postings, the diocese of Charlotte, North Carolina, is one of the last dioceses in the nation to release a list of priests credibly accused of abusing minors, though its sister diocese in Raleigh long since published its list. As I’ve also noted, Charlotte Bishop Peter Jugis promised this year that he would release a list of credibly accused priests prior to the end of the year.” By William D. Lindsey, Bilgrimage

Symposium on restoring trust in the Catholic Church held in Buffalo
“‘I believe that our victim survivors, they are our family. They’re a part of us. And while we don’t want to burden them with yet one more burden, they have a tremendous invitation shall I say, to feel a part of the healing mission,’ explains Bishop Edward Scharfenberger, Buffalo Diocese Apostolic Administrator. Many Catholics expressed relief after Bishop Richard Malone resigned. This after months of Malone being accused of covering up for priests and mishandling the sex abuse crisis.” By Katherine Chloé Cahoon, Spectrum News

Catholic Church, Boy Scouts hit with dozens of sex abuse suits under new N.J. law extending victims’ rights to sue
“Dozens of new allegations of sexual abuse against priests and scoutmasters have surfaced after New Jersey opened a two-year window granting victims a second chance to pursue court claims that had been barred by time limits. New lawsuits filed Sunday and Monday (Dec. 1 & 2) include allegations against six priests in the Camden Diocese as well as previously undisclosed claims involving the now-defrocked cardinal Theodore McCarrick, former archbishop of Newark.” By Jeremy Roebuck, The Philadelphia Inquirer


More priest abuse victims plan to sue Catholic Diocese of San Diego
“Four victims of priest abuse came forward Wednesday (Dec. 11) to announce they will be suing the Catholic Diocese of San Diego for negligence. The men say the late Father Anthony Edward Rodrigue molested them when they were children attending parishes in the San Diego Diocese in the 1960s and 1970s. They are now able to bring the case against the Diocese because of a new California law that expands the statute of limitations for victims of childhood sexual assault.” By Priya Sridhar, KPBS-FM Public Radio

Six California dioceses subpoenaed by state attorney general in child sex abuse case
“The Roman Catholic Diocese of Sacramento, along with the other 5 dioceses in California, will be subpoenaed for additional records as the state attorney general continues to investigate whether dioceses complied with mandatory reporting requirements. California Attorney General Xavier Becerra announced in May he would investigate all of California’s Roman Catholic dioceses to ensure that church officials followed state law and reported sexual misconduct allegations to law enforcement.” By Alexandra Yoon-Hendricks, The Sacramento Bee

Santa Rosa bishop says priest served on North Coast after 1987 molestation case in Texas
“A Roman Catholic priest who served on the North Coast after he was accused of sexual misconduct in Texas has been added to the Santa Rosa Diocese’s list of clergy credibly accused of child sex abuse on the basis of the 32-year-old molestation case from San Antonio. Jose Luis Contreras, believed to be 78, is not known to have acted improperly while posted in California, where he served between 1995 and 2000 before returning to Mexico, Santa Rosa Bishop Robert F. Vasa said.” By Mary Callahan, The Press Democrat

Man sues Catholic archdiocese over child sex abuse by priest in San Francisco
“A survivor of child sexual abuse by a former priest at St. Finn Barr School is suing the Archdiocese of San Francisco in an effort to force the release of a long-promised list of names of clergy accused of sexual misconduct. The lawsuit, filed by now 53-year-old Genaro Licea in San Francisco Superior Court on November 27, is also seeking damages for negligent supervision of a minor, among other things.” By Laura Waxmann, San Francisco Examiner


Catholic priests suspended after DCF substantiates abuse allegations, Danbury police investigating
“Another Catholic priest in Connecticut has been removed from his parish and prohibited from ministering publicly amid two investigations into allegations he abused a minor. Reverend Jaime Marin-Cardona was placed on administrative leave from the Diocese of Bridgeport over the weekend after the state Department of Children and Families substantiated allegations of abuse after a months-long investigation, Bishop Frank Caggiano wrote in a letter to parishioners dated Saturday (Dec. 7).” By Zach Murdock, Hartford Courant


George Brignac, disgraced former New Orleans deacon, indicted on child rape charge
“An Orleans Parish grand jury on Thursday (Dec. 12) handed up a charge of child rape against George Brignac, a former Roman Catholic deacon who was removed from ministry decades ago amid multiple molestation accusations but still remained involved in a local church parish until last year. Brignac, 84, faces a count of first-degree rape in the newest bid from prosecutors to convict a man who decades ago beat similar allegations.” By Ramon Antonio Vargas, The New Orleans Advocate and Times-Picayune


Former Biddeford man, abused by priest, loses court battle over $875 counseling payment
“The sex abuse scandal in the Roman Catholic Church has been exposed in large and loud ways over the years – on the front pages of newspapers across the country detailing massive financial payouts to thousands of abuse survivors and the removal or criminal prosecution of hundreds of priests. Just this year it was reported that more survivors than ever are coming forward, leading to a dramatic increase in financial settlements and a renewed crisis for the church. But for one abuse survivor, it played out in a much quieter way – in small claims court in Portland, where the local Catholic diocese successfully avoided paying his psychological counseling bill totaling $875.” By Eric Russell, Portland Press Herald


Priest charged in sexul assaults of three minors in Springfield in the 1980s
“A Catholic priest in New Jersey pleaded not guilty Thursday (Dec. 12) to charges of indecently assaulting three children under 14 in Springfield in the 1980s, about 20 years before his ordination, according to prosecutors and court records. Rev. Patrick Kuffner, 72, entered his plea in Hampden Superior Court to three counts of indecent assault and battery on a child under 14, legal filings show.” By Travis Anderson, The Boston Globe

Former Quincy priest who raped altar boy to remain on probation
“A former Catholic priest convicted of raping a Waltham altar boy will remain on probation after a judge denied his request to have his sentence cut short. Robert Gale, a 78-year-old registered sex offender who was assistant pastor at St. Joseph’s Church in Quincy in the 1970s, had asked the court to release him early from a 25-year probation stemming from his 2004 guilty pleas on four counts of child rape. Gale had also been sentenced to 4 to 5 years in state prison. He was released from the Massachusetts Treatment Center for the Sexually Dangerous in May 2009.” By The Patriot Ledger


Former priest sues Archdiocese of St. Louis for naming him on list of alleged abusers
“A former priest has sued the Archdiocese of St. Louis for libel, claiming church officials falsely said he was credibly accused of sexually abusing a minor. In a lawsuit filed Nov. 3 in St. Louis County Circuit Court, Michael W. Toohey, 77, of Creve Coeur accused the archdiocese of intentionally damaging his reputation by falsely naming him as an alleged abuser, refusing to provide more details of any allegation against him and denying his challenge of the claim.” By Nassim Benchaabane, St. Louis Post-Dispatch


Clergy sex-abuse lawsuits filed against Camden, Trenton diocese
“Six men have come forward with allegations of childhood sex abuse by Catholic clergy in South Jersey. The accusers all say they were targeted in the 1970s and ’80s by clerics who exploited their trust and assaulted their bodies. They are suing the dioceses of Camden and Trenton under a new state law that allows civil actions for sex-abuse claims previously barred by a statute of limitations.” By Jim Walsh, Cherry Hill Courier-Post


Former Newburgh bishop, priest accused of sex abuse
“A former parishioner of St. Patrick’s Church on Grand Street alleges in a new lawsuit that both a bishop and another priest at the church sexually abused him when he was a boy. The accused clergymen are Bishop Austin Vaughn, who was named pastor of the Newburgh church in 1979, and the Rev. Donald Whelan, who was made administrator at around the same time, according to the St. Patrick’s website. Both men are now deceased; Vaughn died in 2000 and Whelan in 1987.” By Chris McKenna, Times Herald-Record

Whistleblower says local bishops ‘covered up’ sexual abuse by Catholic priests
“A whistleblower and an attorney representing victims of sexual assault by priests say the Catholic Church continues to cover up abuse in several dioceses across the state, including in Albany. James Faluszczak, a former priest and abuse survivor, says the Church is not publicly identifying 28 priests he says have been accused of sexual abuse. This is because Bishop Edward Scharfenberger in Albany, former Bishop Edward Malone of Buffalo, and Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio in Brooklyn swept the allegations under the rug, Faluszczak says.” By Peter Eliopoulos, ABC-TV 10 News

Victim advocate calls on Scharfenberger to release Vatican report on Buffalo diocese
“James Faluszczak, a former priest and well-known Buffalo advocate for survivors of clergy abuse, is calling on the new interim administrator of the Diocese of Buffalo to release the Vatican’s full report into its handling of sexual abuse cases. Bishop Edward Scharfenberger of Albany was named temporary head of the diocese following the Dec. 4 resignation of Bishop Richard Malone. The Vatican accepted Malone’s resignation after widespread outcry and calls for his removal over his handling of sexual abuse allegations within the diocese.” By Kyle S. Mackie, WBFO-FM Buffalo’s National Public Radio Station

Scharfenberger faces first test of transparency with Buffalo priest files
“Bishop Edward B. Scharfenberger, apostolic administrator for the Diocese of Buffalo, has talked the talk when it comes to transparency on sexual abuse. ‘We can’t be afraid of reality,’ Scharfenberger said last week. ‘We have to be able to — with sober eyes — look at the damage that was done.’ The question on the minds of survivors like former priest James Faluszczak is whether the new interim bishop will now walk the walk — and turn those words about transparency into action.” By Charlie Specht, WKBW-TV7 News

NY Giants chaplain subject of latest sex abuse lawsuit against Newark Archdiocese
“A New York Giants football team chaplain accused of sexual abuse more than 15 years ago and later reinstated by church officials — just in time to get a Super Bowl ring — was named in a lawsuit filed Monday (Dec. 9) by one of the two men who came forward years ago. The priest, the Rev. William Dowd, was returned to ministry in 2007 after a church tribunal made up of priests acquitted him in a closed-door hearing. That decision came five years after a Newark Archdiocese review board, which included lay people, determined that the allegations warranted further action by church officials.” By Abbott Koloff and Deena Yellin, NorthJersey.com

Nun accused of sex abuse at Middletown School
“A nun is accused of sexually abusing a young girl at a Middletown school before moving on to higher positions at schools around Westchester County, according to court documents. Sister Ann Peterson is accused of groping and molesting then-10-year-old Pamela Hayes at Saint Joseph School in Middletown throughout the mid-1960s, according to court documents.” By Frank Esposito, The Journal News


Catholic diocese to release review of sexual misconduct by year’s end
“The Roman Catholic Diocese of Charlotte, which represents 46 counties in Western North Carolina and six parishes in the Asheville area, announced in August that it will release a list of clergy who have been the subject of credible accusations of sexual abuse by the end of this year. The process of reviewing personnel files and other historical records, which date to the diocese’s founding in 1972, began last fall.” By Laura Hackett, Mountain Express

Priest at Ballantyne parish on administrative leave after sex abuse allegation
“A Charlotte priest at one of the largest Catholic churches in the country was placed on administrative leave Monday (Dec. 9) after being accused of sexually abusing a minor. In a statement, Bishop Peter Jugis said Father Patrick Hoare is facing allegations of sexual abuse from when he worked in Pennsylvania 25 years ago, before he joined the ministry.” By WCOC-TV News


Strongsville Catholic priest arrested on child porn charges
“A Catholic priest was arrested Thursday (Dec. 5) on charges of possessing child pornography. Investigators took St. Joseph Catholic Church Rev. Robert McWilliams into custody Thursday (Dec.5) at the church. He is charged with four counts of possessing child pornography and one count of possessing criminal tools.” By Adam Ferrise, Cleveland.com

Judge orders Columbus Diocese to release document on clergy
“A Franklin County judge says the Roman Catholic Diocese of Columbus must hand over documents on at least 15 clergy members to see if they knew about any alleged sexual abuse. The order issued Friday (Dec. 6) comes as part of a 2018 lawsuit filed by a man who says he was molested during the 2002-2003 school year at St. Charles Preparatory School by Monsignor Thomas Bennett, who died in 2008.” By Steve Brown, WOSU-FM National Public Radio


Catholic priest with Oregon ties accused of sexually abusing a child
“The Archdiocese of Oklahoma City says it has substantiated an allegation of child sexual abuse against another priest. The archdiocese said Monday (Dec. 16) that Father Papa-Rao Pasala admitted to inappropriate advances toward a 17-year-old in 2001 when Pasala was temporarily assigned to a church in Edmond, Oklahoma.” By Associated Press on KXL.com


Erie diocese’s abuse-related costs rise to $12 million
“Catholic Diocese of Erie’s compensation fund payouts reach $5.9 million, adding to previous costs of about $6 million. The Catholic Diocese of Erie’s financial reckoning over the clergy sexual abuse crisis has reached nearly $12 million, rising by about $3 million over the past four months. The diocese’s newly created victims’ compensation fund has paid out $5.9 million since the fund started accepting claims on Feb. 15.” By Ed Palatella, GoErie.com

Philly priest accused of child molestation found ‘unsuitable for ministry’
“A Philadelphia Catholic priest who was placed on administrative leave in January after being accused of sexually abusing a minor in the 1980s has been found to be ‘unsuitable for ministry,’ the Archdiocese of Philadelphia announced Sunday (Dec. 8). Monsignor Joseph L. Logrip, 74, who had last worked as a chaplain at Camilla Hall, a retirement home for women in Malvern, Chester County, and as a weekend assistant at St. Peter Parish in West Brandywine, Chester County, was ruled to be unfit to serve as a priest after an investigation by the Archdiocesan Office of Investigation.” By Mensah M. Dean, Philadelphia Inquirer


Ex-priest sues over includion on list of suspected abusers
“A former Rhode Island priest has sued his old diocese for including his name on a list of clergy ‘credibly accused’ of sexually abusing minors. In a defamation lawsuit against the Roman Catholic Diocese of Providence, ex-priest John Tormey said he never sexually assaulted anyone and was not given the opportunity to defend himself, the Providence Journal reported. The lawsuit, which also named Bishop Thomas Tobin and a former state police major who oversees the diocese’s office of compliance, was filed on Friday (Dec. 13).” By Associated Press on WHDH-TV7 News


Audits show safeguarding policies being followed
“Safeguarding audits of Brisbane Archdiocese and Darwin Diocese have revealed high levels of compliance with the National Catholic Safeguarding Standards, according to reports published by Catholic Professional Standards Limited today. The CPSL audit of the Brisbane Archdiocese found that it had either implemented or was substantially progressed in the implementation of 87 (84 per cent) out of the 104 indicators relevant to archdiocese under the NCSS. A total of 18 recommendations have been accepted by the Brisbane Archdiocese to strengthen their safeguarding practices. Audit recommendations are classified according to priority and urgency for remediation. There are no Priority 1 (high rated) recommendations for the Archdiocese.” By CathNews.com

‘I cannot comprehend’: sex abuse royal commissioner slams Catholic leaders
“The head of Australia’s royal commission into child sex abuse has condemned Catholic church leaders for failing to recognize the sexual assault of children as a crime. Speaking publicly about the royal commission for the first time, Justice Peter McClellan said on Tuesday (Dec.10) that commissioners had heard from many leaders of the Catholic church, some of whom argued sexual abuse was a ‘moral failure’ rather than a criminal act. ‘I cannot comprehend how any person, much less one with qualifications in theology … could consider the rape of a child to be a moral failure but not a crime,’ Justice McClellan said in a speech to the Australian Human Rights Commission.” By Miki Perkins, The Age


Canadian Jesuits plan to publicly identify ‘credibly accused’ priests
“Canada’s Jesuits are going to do what no other Catholic Church organization in the country has done before – release the names of ‘credibly accused’ priests. Victims of clergy abuse within the Catholic Church in Canada have been demanding full transparency within the Church including the names of those who have been ‘credibly accused’ of abuse.” By Brian Dryden, Canadian Catholic News

St. John’s Roman Catholic archdiocese not ready to publish list of abusive priests
“St. John’s Catholic Archbishop Peter Hundt isn’t sure what publishing a list of priests convicted of sexual abuse would accomplish as they are already a matter of public record. ‘I mean nobody needs to say the name Jim Hickey or John Corrigan — everybody knows those names,’ Hundt said in response to whether or not he would publish a list of credibly accused priests, as has been done in the U.S. and Vancouver. Those two convicted priests were among the most infamous cases of clergy abuse in Newfoundland and Labrador.” By Barb Sweet, The Telegram

Disgraced ex-Ottawa priest arrested for skipping sentencing for sex crimes
“Barry McGrory, the disgraced former Catholic priest who skipped his sentencing in Ottawa court last month for molesting boys, has been arrested and is now in jail. The now-defrocked McGrory, 85, had been on bail awaiting sentencing but didn’t bother to show up on Nov. 18, so Superior Court Justice Michelle O’Bonsawin issued an arrest warrant for the convicted sex predator, who was arrested in Toronto.” By Gary Dimmock, Edmonton Sun

Diocese says abuse lawsuit settlements don’t mean all accusations are credible
“The London diocese has paid out settlements in some sex abuse lawsuits for ‘practical reasons,’ despite believing the accused priests were not guilty, Bishop Ronald Fabbro said Friday (Dec.6). Some of those cases were included on the list of ‘credibly accused’ priests published this week by Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP), he said. ‘It is important to note that reaching a settlement in a civil suit does not necessarily indicate the allegation is credible,’ said Fabbro.” By Trevor Wilhelm, Windsor Star


Pope accepts resignation of nuncio to France accused of misconduct
“Pope Francis has accepted the resignation of Archbishop Luigi Ventura, the nuncio to France, who has been under investigation for sexual misconduct in France and in Canada. Announcing the archbishop’s retirement Dec. 17, the Vatican provided no reason why he stepped down. A statement released by the nunciature in Paris said Francis accepted the resignation ‘for reasons of age.’ Ventura turned 75, the age at which bishops must offer their resignations, Dec. 9.” By Catholic News Service on Cruxnow.com


List of priests accused of sexual abuse is ‘substantially correct’
“A recently-published list of Catholic priests accused or convicted of sexual abuse is ‘substantially correct,’ according to a statement from the Diocese of London. The list, published Wednesday by the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP), contains the names of 36 priests who worked in the London-area, along with a number of other cities such as Toronto, Windsor and Sarnia.” By Andrew Graham, Global News

Child abuse victim: pedophile priests gave kids ‘brutal beatings’
“A child abuse victim who was sent to Australia from Aberdeen believing he was an orphan has told of sexual abuse and ‘brutal beatings’ at the hands of pedophile priests. The Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry witness, known as Harry, left care in Aberdeen and sailed to Australia in the 1950s, growing up in two orphanages where the boys were subjected to public floggings and years of sexual abuse. Harry told the hearing, chaired by Lady Smith, about his experience in the care of Christian Brothers and how he was forced to perform sex acts by three of the men in the boys’ dormitory.” By Evening Express


Parishes, schools part of archdiocese assets that could pay clergy abuse claims
“Creditors of the Archdiocese of Agana asked the federal court for a partial summary judgment that, if granted, could pave the way for the use of Catholic parishes and schools’ assets to pay some 280 clergy sex abuse claims. These include everything from cars and vans to buildings, parishes, schools and cemetery property. The creditors said the archdiocese, its parishes and its schools ‘are one and the same under civil law.’” By Haidee Eugenio Gilbert, Pacific Daily News


More than 50 victims of sexual abuse in Indonesian Catholic Churches
“Weekly magazine Warta Minggu published by the Tomang Roman Catholic parish in West Jakarta reported that at least 56 people were subjected to sexual abuse in Catholic churches across Indonesia. The report, titled ‘Sexual Abuse in Indonesian Churches: An Iceberg Phenomenon?’ was published on Sunday (Dec. 8) and is based on a discussion held at Atma Jaya University in late November to mark the international campaign 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence.” By Karina M. Tehusijarana, The Jakarta Post


Father Brian D’Arcy: the church criticized me after I had revealed I was abused by a Christian Brother aged eight and by a priest as a teenager
“Fermanagh-born cleric Father Brian D’Arcy says the time was right for his tell-all memoir which reveals how he was sexually abused in the church as a young boy, and again as a teen. The 74-year-old priest, whose book It Has To Be Said is now on sale, tells how he suffered clerical sexual abuse but had to wait until the perpetrators had died before he could unmask them.” By Helen Carson, Belfast Telegraph

Abuse redress: Christian Brothers pay €30M
“The State has reached a milestone in securing church assets to cover the cost of abuse redress after the Christian Brothers fulfilled its pledge to complete its contribution of €30 million. This largely completes cash pledges worth €110 million from religious organisations who offered in the aftermath of the publication of the Ryan report to part-fund redress and support for 15,000 former pupils.” By Carl O’Brien, Irish Times


Bishop pardons three suspended priests
“The Bishop of Ruwenzori Diocese, Reuben Kisembo, has pardoned three priests who were suspended in 2017 on allegations of sex scandals and abuse of office. The pardon came during a church service at St Elizabeth Chapel of Kyembabe Girls yesterday (Dec. 15) in Fort Portal Town. The priests are Rev Joel Manyindo, Rev Felix Bataligaya, and Rev Paul Mbusa Kinyerere. They all appeared in church to ask for forgiveness before Christians and the bishop.” By Alex Ashaba, Daily Monitor