Voice of the Faithful Focus, Dec. 3, 2021


Catholic nuns lift veil on abuse in convents
“As the Roman Catholic Church pays more attention to the closed world of convents, where women spend much of their time in prayer and household work, more episodes of psychological, emotional and physical abuse are coming to light. A new book, “Veil of Silence” by Salvatore Cernuzio, a journalist for the Vatican’s online outlet, Vatican News, is the latest expose to come from within and approved by authorities. Cernuzio recounts experiences of 11 women and their struggles with an age-old system where the Mother Superior and older nuns demand total obedience, in some cases resulting in acts of cruelty and humiliation.” By Philip Pullella, Reuters

Phil Saviano, clergy abuse victim who refused to stay silent dies at 69
“Phil Saviano was near death from AIDS three decades ago and thousands of dollars in debt when the Worcester Diocese tried to silence him with a settlement that would have prevented him from publicly revealing that he had been sexually abused by a priest when he was a boy. ‘I just couldn’t agree to it,’ Mr. Saviano told the Globe in 1995. ‘I knew if I did I would just be contributing to their campaign to look away and shut everybody up’ … ‘I lost my faith before I’d even gone through puberty. For over a year, I struggled with a priest who cornered me every chance he got,’ Mr. Saviano wrote in remarks he prepared for a searing, healing speech he delivered in Boston in 2002 at the first national convention of the Voice of the Faithful.” By Bryan Marquand, The Boston Globe

French Catholic Academy questions findings of child sex abuse inquiry
“Members of the French Catholic Academy have expressed doubt about a recent report on historical sex abuse in the church. Eight representatives of the 250-person academy have questioned the findings of the Independent Commission on Sexual Abuse in the Church (CIASE). In October, a CIASE report estimated that 330,000 children were victims of sex abuse since 1950 within the church … The inquiry sent shockwaves through the Catholic Church in Europe and led to apologies from French bishops and Pope Francis. But eight members of the Catholic Academy said CIASE used ‘flawed methodology’ and had ‘serious shortcomings.’” By Agence France Presse

Sorry isn’t enough: People and Catholic Church need to heal, says MMF president
“The president of the Manitoba Métis Federation (MMF) says he has no doubt that Pope Francis will soon apologize for the role the Catholic Church played in Canada’s residential school system, but he believes the path to healing and moving forward requires much more than just an apology. ‘What we need to discuss is how we create healing, and not just say sorry, and walk away,’ MMF President David Chartrand said on Tuesday (Nov. 30). In late December MMF representatives including Chartrand will join several other delegations that will travel to Rome to meet with Pope Francis.” By Dave Baxter, Winnipeg Sun, in Toronto Star

U.S. Catholic bishops encourage government search for boarding school graves
“Two influential U.S. Roman Catholic Church bishops are encouraging their peers to cooperate with a federal investigation into abuses committed within the former Native American boarding school system. In a letter sent to all U.S. bishops in November, Archbishop Paul Coakley of Oklahoma City, who heads a church committee on domestic justice, and Bishop James Wall of Gallup, New Mexico, who leads a church committee on Native American affairs, asked fellow bishops to hand over records investigators may seek and allow access to property where the unmarked remains of Native American students may lie.” By Brad Brooks, Reuters


Defrocked cardinal McCarrick named in sex abuse lawsuit
“Defrocked Cardinal Theodore McCarrick is facing another sexual abuse lawsuit, from a man who claims McCarrick abused him in the 1980s in New Jersey. In the lawsuit filed in state court and announced Tuesday (Nov. 23), Michael Reading alleged McCarrick engaged in sexual contact with him in 1986 while on a trip to the New Jersey shore, around the same time McCarrick ordained Reading as a priest. The claim comes as a two-year window nears completion in New Jersey for people to file abuse lawsuits regardless of how far back the alleged abuse occurred.” By David Porter, Cruxnow.com


Pope accepts resignation of Paris archbishop, who denies accusations
“Pope Francis has accepted the resignation of Archbishop Michel Aupetit of Paris, who had offered to step down to avoid ‘becoming a source of divisions,’ after an article in the Le Point weekly claimed he mismanaged his archdiocese and had an affair with a woman while he was vicar general. The pope also named retired Archbishop Georges Pontier to temporarily lead the archdiocese as the apostolic administrator; the 78-year-old archbishop had served as apostolic administrator of the Archdiocese of Avignon from January to July after deep divisions and financial difficulties lead to the early retirement of Archbishop Jean-Pierre Marie Cattenoz.” By Carol Glatz, Catholic News Service, in National Catholic Reporter


Church cannot repair what it does not recognize, Cardinal “’Malley says on abuse
“Gathering information and statistics on the sexual abuse of minors is an important tool for assessing established responses and for crafting recommendations to fix a failed system, said U.S. Cardinal Seán P. O’Malley of Boston, president of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors. ‘We cannot repair what we do not recognize. We cannot restore a broken trust if we do not address the heart of the matter.’ The message, published Nov. 18, was sent to a conference marking the European Day on the Protection of Children against Sexual Exploitation and Sexual Abuse — held every Nov. 18 and promoted by the Council of Europe.” By Carol Glatz, Catholic News Service, in The Pilot


Interview: Bishop Wack ;discusses ‘anger, division’ in U.S. Catholic Church
“Christendom has come and gone, says Bishop William Wack of Pensacola-Tallahassee, Florida. ‘We’ve reached the end of Christendom,’ said Wack, who told NCR in a recent interview that the church’s goal should not be to restore a supposed golden age of Christianity or rebuild a political culture where the Christian faith reigns supreme. ‘Our faith is not built on this state-sponsored or state-supported Christianity. It’s built on a person: Jesus Christ, who is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow,’ said Wack, explaining in the interview his vision of the Christian faith and modern society that he wrote about in his first pastoral letter.” By Brian Fraga, National Catholic Reporter

What the Vatican thought of the U.S. bishops’ meeting
“The U.S. bishops approved their long-awaited and much-debated document on the Eucharist at their November meeting last week. This week on ‘Inside the Vatican,’ America’s national correspondent Michael O’Loughlin, who covered the meeting in Baltimore, joins Vatican correspondent Gerard O’Connell and host Colleen Dulle for a conversation about what the bishops decided and what the Vatican hopes they will do next.” By Colleen Dulle and Gerard O’Connell, Inside the Vatican

Communion rules set out for U.S. Roman Catholics
“A statement on the Eucharist approved by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops last week urges communicants to ‘enter more deeply by faith and love’ into the Real Presence of Christ. It warns that receiving holy communion while publicly rejecting ‘defined doctrines of the Church, or knowingly and obstinately repudiat[ing] her definitive teaching on moral issues’ is ‘likely to cause scandal for others.’ Its publication follows debate in the US on whether President Biden, a Roman Catholic, should receive communion, given his public support for abortion rights; some bishops have stated that they would not allow it.” By Madeleine Davies, Church Times

Bishops encourage cooperation to address church’s past in tribal schools
“Two U.S. bishops have urged their fellow prelates to cooperate with any requests they receive from the federal government for an investigation on alleged abuses at tribal schools operated by church entities in the past. In a Nov. 8 letter addressed to all U.S. bishops, Archbishop Paul S. Coakley of Oklahoma City, who is chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, and Bishop James S. Wall of Gallup, New Mexico, chair of the USCCB’s Subcommittee on Native American Affairs, told prelates that ‘if the government asks for any records you may possess, we encourage cooperation.’” By Rhina Guidos, Catholic News Service

French Catholic bishops announce ‘vast program of renewal’ after abuse report
“Catholic bishops in France announced Monday (Nov. 15) that they have agreed to ‘a vast program of renewal’ of governance practices in response to a landmark report on clerical sex abuse. Archbishop Éric de Moulins-Beaufort, president of the French bishops’ conference, said Nov. 8 that the bishops had decided to ‘initiate a path of recognition and reparation opening for the victims the possibility of mediation and compensation.’” By Catholic News Agency in National Catholic Register


Catholic priests survey finds lower morale, ‘conservative shift’ among U.S. clergy
“A new survey released this month suggests a more ‘pessimistic’ view of the Catholic Church among U.S. priests today as compared to 2002, as well as an increasing perception of ‘more theologically conservative or orthodox’ young priests as compared to their older counterparts. A Nov. 1 report summarized findings from the 2021 Survey of American Catholic Priests (SACP), which comprised 54 questions posed to 1,036 Catholic priests in the United States.” By Jonah McKeown, Catholic News Association on EurasiaReview.com


‘The deep heart’s core’: Faith of lay people will guide Catholic Church for uncertain future
“I am torn. A rather negative starting point I must confess, but let me elaborate. On the one hand I hear the echoing voices of my now adult children expressing, rather vehemently, their incredulity that a woman they deem intelligent continues to be involved with the Catholic Church. It is an institution which has become irrelevant in their lives. They repeatedly describe it to me as misogynistic, homophobic, abusive and money-grabbing. I understand where they are coming from and find myself sadly in agreement with their analysis … So why am I still hanging in there? There is something ‘in the deep heart’s core’ (Yeats) which doesn’t allow me to walk away just yet.By Patricia Melvin, The Irish Times


Pope sets up commission to monitor annulment reform in Italy
“Concerned at the slow pace of adopting his reforms of the marriage annulment process, Pope Francis has established a Vatican commission to encourage and verify progress in the dioceses of Italy. ‘Each bishop who does not yet have his own ecclesiastical tribunal must seek to erect one or at least endeavor to make this possible,’ the pope wrote in his document formally establishing a pontifical commission to monitor and assist the Italian dioceses. The document was published Nov. 26.” By Cindy Wooden, Catholic News Service, in National Catholic Reporter


Louisville priest denies allegations made by parishioners suing him for misusing church conations, according to court document
“A long-time Louisville Catholic priest filed a response in Jefferson County Civil Court to a lawsuit brought against him by parishioners. A civil lawsuit filed in October alleges Father Anthony Ngo is wrongfully using church money by converting some funds donated to the parish for his own personal use. Ngo has been pastor at St. John Vianney Catholic Church in south Louisville for more than two decades.” By Rachel Droze, WHAS-TV11 News

Former economy czar Cardinal Pell warns the Vatican is facing major deficit
“Former Vatican economy czar Cardinal George Pell warns in a new book that the Catholic institution is facing a growing deficit, but he hopes financial reform efforts have put a stop to money laundering in the small city-state. Pell’s newest book, ‘Prison Journal, Volume 3: The High Court frees an Innocent Man,’ was published in November and is the final installment detailing his experiences in prison. Pell was jailed for more than a year in 2019 after being accused of sexually abusing minors in Victoria, Australia, and was acquitted on appeal by the country’s High Court in April 2020 for lack of evidence.” By Claire Giangravé, Religion News Service, in National Catholic Reporter


Church membership declines amid changing faiths,times
“Faith is changing, at least according to some numbers. A Gallup survey shows church membership dropped below a majority for the first time. In 2020, 47% of U.S. adults were members of a church, synagogue or mosque. It’s a statistic that now has leaders in different religions taking action. ‘It’s a really big issue,’ said Rabbi David Steinhardt, a senior rabbi at B’Nai Torah Congregation in Boca Raton.” By Tory Dunnan, WPTV-TV5 News

Traditionalism, American-style: a new kind of opposition to Rome
“It wasn’t hard to anticipate the reception that Francis’s motu proprio Traditionis custodies would get in the United States: hostile (from those already militantly opposed to the pope) or lukewarm (from most of the U.S. bishops). It follows a pattern that began in 2013, with the reception of Francis’s pontificate in general: a minority of U.S. bishops willing to show their communion of intent with the pope; a majority reluctant to engage with him one way or another; and a very small but very vocal sliver of bishops and lay intellectuals who charge Francis with breaking the Church apart.” By Massimo Faggioli, Commonweal

U.S. bishops lost about how to engage a culture they don’t understand
“At the first press conference during the U.S. bishops’ fall assembly, conference president Archbishop José Gomez of Los Angeles did his best to convince the world that the bishops’ document on the Eucharist was never about criticizing President Joe Biden or focusing on other Catholic politicians who do not oppose legalized abortion. ‘My understanding is that the intention of the document was not that [criticizing pro-choice politicians],’ Gomez said. ‘The intention of the document since the beginning was about educating Catholics about the real presence of Jesus in the Eucharist.’” By Michael Sean Winters, National Catholic Reporter


Clergy sexual abuse survivor: Bishop Cozzens had ‘immediate concern for my soul’
“Gina Barthel received a response the same day she emailed Bishop Andrew Cozzens, explaining she was a victim of sexual abuse by a priest in New York and asking if he would be willing to meet with her. He called, they found a time in January 2014 and they’ve been meeting once a month ever since. Conducted in a safe environment, their discussions have guided Barthel through anger, tears and trauma to drawing ever closer to Christ, particularly in eucharistic adoration.” By Joe Ruff, The Catholic Spirit

Altar boy abuse is an ‘old Spanish custom’ priest told victims
“When Robert Friscic was being molested by a Catholic priest from the age of 11 until he was 18, he kept asking his abuser why he was being subjected to such intolerable behavior. The answer he got was ‘because I love you.’ Father Anthony Bongiorno, since deceased, also told him and other victims that he was simply performing: An old Spanish custom in which the altar boy sleeps with the priest. Decades on Friscic decided to lodge a civil claim against the Catholic Church for the abuse he suffered at the hands of Bongiorno, and this week ABC News reported that he had been awarded an out-of-court settlement of $3-million (£1.6) by the Archdiocese of Melbourne.” By Barry Duke, Patheos.com

Woman, 33, who was repeatedly raped by a Catholic priest at age 14 recalls first time he abuse her
“A woman who was repeatedly raped by a Catholic priest when she was 14 years old has shared horrible details from the moment he assaulted her for the first time – and revealed that decades later, she still has PTSD from it. Megan Peterson, now 33, came forward in 2011 and said she had been sexually assaulted by Indian priest Joseph Palanivel Jeyapaul, now 67, for more than a year in 2004 – when she was just 14 years old. At the time, he had been transferred from Infant Jesus Church in India to Blessed Sacrament Church, in Greenbush, Minnesota.” By Lillian Gissen, Daily Mail


Court sets deadline for sexual assault claims in Norwich diocese bankruptcy case
“A federal bankruptcy judge has set a deadline of March 15, 2022 for receipt of claim forms from people who say they were sexually assaulted by priests and employees of Roman Catholic Diocese of Norwich. Victims who fail to do so will likely lose their right to obtain compensation from the diocese and possibly its parishes. The diocese filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in July as it faced more than 60 lawsuits filed by young men who charge they were sexually assaulted as boys by Christian Brothers and other staff at the diocese-run Mount Saint John Academy in Deep River from 1990 to 2002.” By Joe Wojtas, The New London Day


Chicago-area priest reinstated year after abuse probe began
“A suburban Chicago priest has been reinstated as a pastor after a review board for the Archdiocese of Chicago found there was ‘insufficient reason to suspect’ he had sexually abused children 25 years ago. The Rev. David F. Ryan was first asked to step away from the St. Francis de Sales Catholic Parish in Lake Zurich in November 2020 when an investigation into the alleged abuse began.” By Associated Press in Beaumont Enterprise


Springfield Diocese adds Joseph P. Quinlan to its roster of priests credibly accused of sexual abuse
“A priest who served the Diocese of Springfield from 1971 until his death in 1989 was added Monday (Nov. 29) to the list of those credibly accused of sexual abuse. ‘The Review Board carefully reviewed this allegation, including a report issued by the diocesan investigative team, and found this allegation to be credible,’ a statement from the Diocese of Springfield said. The diocese listed the name of Joseph P. Quinlan on its online directory of priests and other church personnel against whom an allegation of abuse — in this instance, it was sexual abuse of a minor — has been upheld by the Review Board.’ By Larry Parnass, The Berkshire Eagle

‘I’m tired of waiting for justice’: alleged clergy abuse victim wants action from diocese
“Two men who claim a local priest sexually abused them as minors decades ago are demanding action from the diocese. ‘I’m tired of waiting for justice,’ said Richard Eldridge, who has publicly accused retired priest the Rev. Edward Byington of sexual abuse … Eldridge spoke at a press conference on Tuesday (Nov. 24) morning with attorney Mitchell Garabedian, who has represented victims of clergy sexual abuse for several decades, and Robert Hoatson, co-founder and president of Road to Recovery, an advocacy group for victims of sexual abuse and their families.” By Audrey Cooney, The Herald News

Catholic priest convicted of taking semi-nude photographs of a boy in 1992 laicized
“Bishop Robert J. McManus announced Thursday (Nov. 18) that Ronald D. Provost has been laicized. In 1993, Provost was convicted in Worcester Superior Court of soliciting a child to pose nude and received a suspended prison sentence with probation. He was found guilty of taking semi-nude photographs of a 10-year-old boy in 1992 in the locker room of a pool in Gardner. Provost, who was pastor of St. Joseph’s Church in Barre when the photographs were taken, was removed from any active ministry in the diocese when the picture-taking allegations surfaced.” By Craig S. Semon, Worcester Telegram & Gazette


Former priest with Wyandotte ties pleads guilty to sex crimes
“A former priest with ties to Downriver and Oakland County has pleaded to several sex crime charges from the 1970s involving young boys, including two brothers. During a Nov. 8 Zoom hearing before Judge Daniel O’Brien of Oakland County Circuit Court, Gary Berthiaume, 79, pleaded guilty to two counts of second-degree criminal sexual conduct and no contest to one count of gross indecency. In exchange for his pleas, Assistant Attorney General Danielle Russo Bennetts dismissed two other counts of second-degree criminal sexual conduct and one other count of gross indecency.” By Aileen Wingblad, The News Herald


Advocates call for removal of street sign honoring NJ priest accused of sex abuse
“Most drivers and pedestrians who travel a part of Washington Street in West New York are oblivious to what the man whose name graces the thoroughfare has been accused of doing. At least four people have said Msgr. Eugene Fanelli abused them when he was pastor at Our Lady of Libera Roman Catholic Church and they were children in the West New York parish. ‘The fact that a street was named after him is heinous,’ said Jason Schack, who filed a lawsuit in November alleging that Fanelli abused him for seven years, beginning when he was 8.” By deena Yellin, NorthJersey.com

As filing window closes, sex abuse lawsuits against NJ Catholic Church number 820
“A recent lawsuit alleging that a religious order priest sexually assaulted a 12-year-old girl in 2006 was among the nearly 180 sex abuse civil complaints filed this month alone against the Catholic Church in New Jersey. The claim caught the attention of the attorney for the Diocese of Paterson, who said he routinely passes allegations of abuse to law enforcement authorities. This one warranted added urgency because of when the abuse allegedly occurred. The attorney sent information about the complaint to the Morris County Prosecutor’s Office on the day he received it several weeks ago.” By Abbott Koloff, NorthJersey.com

Another child sex abuse lawsuit filed against Delbarton School
“A lawsuit against the Delbarton School claims that a priest sexually abused a child in the 1990s. The complaint became the latest among several lawsuits filed against the school for alleged abuse. The lawsuit alleges that Father Jude Salus sexually abused the plaintiff from 1993-94. The plaintiff, who filed the lawsuit anonymously, was a student and approximately 14 years old.” By Josh Bakan, New Jersey Patch

Thirty-four alleged child abusers publicly identified for the first time in New Jersey
“Through lawsuits filed against the Catholic Archdiocese and Dioceses in New Jersey under the Victims’ Rights Bill, 34 alleged perpetrators have been publicly accused of sexual abuse for the first time. They are: Fr. Richard Carrington (Archdiocese of Newark) …” By AndersonAdvocates.com


86-year-old Queens priest removed from ministry following credible claims of child sexual abuse
“An 86-year-old priest has been removed from the ministry following an investigation conducted by the Brooklyn Diocese that determined that a claim of child molestation against him dating back to the 1970s was credible. Rev. Peter Mahoney–who had been ministering part-time to the Hispanic community at Saint Anne Catholic Church in Flushing and St. Nicholas of Tolentine in Jamaica, Queens—is no longer permitted to celebrate mass publicly, or exercise any public ministry.” By Christian Murray, Sunnyside Post


Priest sued for sexual abuse served this summer at Washington church
“A Catholic priest who served this past summer in Washington has been named in a sexual abuse lawsuit. Father Francis Gillespie, a Jesuit priest, filled in at Mother of Mercy Church from June to August. The Diocese of Charlotte was also named in the lawsuit that was filed under the Safe Child Act. The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, or SNAP, says the abuse involved an 8-year-old altar boy at Our Lady of the Assumption Church in Charlotte. The organization says it happened over a four-year period while the victim also attended the parish school.” By WITN-TV News


Plea negotiations underway in Father Geoff Drew rape case
“Negotiations are underway for a plea deal in the case of Father Geoff Drew, the Cincinnati Catholic priest accused of raping an altar boy 30 years ago. Sources told WCPO 9 there are active negotiations on a plea agreement ahead of the start of Drew’s trial Friday (Dec. 3), and the victim in the case has participated in those discussions. Drew, 59, is charged with nine counts of rape and has, so far, pleaded not guilty. He faces life in prison if convicted.” By WCPO-TV9 News staff in Dayton Daily News


D.C. priest in prison for abusing girls found guilty of groping woman
“A Catholic priest serving 15 years in prison for sexually abusing two girls at Shrine of the Sacred Heart Church in Northwest D.C. has now been convicted of groping an adult female parishioner. In 2019, Urbano Vazquez, now 49, was found guilty of one count of second-degree child sexual abuse of a 13-year-old girl, as well as two counts of second-degree child sexual abuse and one count of misdemeanor sexual abuse of a 9-year-old girl. Both the girls were from his parish, and the crimes happened between 2015 and 2017, while he was an assistant pastor at Shrine of the Sacred Heart.” By Neal Augenstein, WTOP News


Catholic archdiocese of Halifax-Yarmouth knew of sexual abuse, ‘vicariously liable’
“The alleged sexual abuse of a 10-year-old altar boy by a Roman Catholic priest nearly 60 years ago in Halifax is at the center of a class action against the Halifax-Yarmouth archdiocese. ‘The case law from the Supreme Court of Canada … is quite clear that dioceses are vicariously liable for sexual abuse by their priests,’ said John McKiggan, the Halifax lawyer who filed the class action in Nova Scotia Supreme Court in August 2018 on behalf of Douglas Champagne, the young altar boy from the early 1960s, and other plaintiffs.” By Francis Campbell, SaltWire.com


Abuse charged against Scottish priest who lived in Saskatchewan dropped
“The prosecution service in Scotland has dropped its case on historical child abuse charges against a retired Catholic priest who used to live and serve in Saskatchewan, according to the BBC. Rev. Robert MacKenzie was extradited from Canada in 2020 to stand trial in Scotland. The now 87-year-old was accused of physical and sexual abuse during his time as a teacher at two schools in Scotland from the 1950s to the 1980s.” By CBC News


Church offers to pay up to $34 million
“Guam’s Catholic Church has come up with a revised proposed payment of $27.96 million to $34.38 million to those who claimed they were raped or sexually molested by priests and other members of the clergy when they were minors, dating back to the 1950s. That’s more than $100,000 per clergy sex abuse survivor if the award is based on equal amounts, although the process is far from over. Clergy sex abuse survivors and other claimants would need to vote to either accept or reject the plan from the Archdiocese of Agana.” By Haidee Eugenio Gilbert, The Guam Daily Post


Former school principal Patrick Harte loses appeal for sexually abusing boys 50 years ago
“Former school principal Patrick Harte has failed in a bid to have his convictions for sexually abusing schoolboys in classrooms over 50 years ago overturned on appeal. In dismissing the appeal, the Court of Appeal rejected what was described as an ‘extraordinary’ submission by Harte that he was prejudiced after it emerged during the trial that he had not sought the blessing of a priest before entering a teacher training course. Court President Mr Justice George Birmingham had described any such risk as ‘fanciful’ during submissions.” By Paul Neilan, Sunday World


Why is Spain’s Catholic Church refusing an independent investigation into sex abuse claims
“Activists are calling for an independent probe into alleged sexual abuse in Spain’s Catholic Church. They insist the number of cases is on a par with neighbour France, where a recent investigation found 218,000 victims since 1950. But as the Episcopal Conference’s gathering of bishops closed in Madrid on Friday (November 19), the church denied the claims. Spokesman Luis Argüello reiterated the institution would not be ‘proactive’ in undertaking an external investigation into allegations of sexual abuse. ‘We are not prepared to carry out statistical and sociological investigations,’ he said.” By Heather Galloway, EuroNews.com