Voice of the Faithful Focus, Dec. 4. 2020


Vatican sued over alleged sex abuse in wake of its report on disgraced ex-cardinal McCarrick
“A week after an explosive report by the Vatican detailing decades-long allegations against former Cardinal Theodore McCarrick involving the sexual abuse of young boys, seminarians and fellow priests, the first federal lawsuit stemming from that report has been filed against the Roman Catholic Church. A stunning 85-page complaint filed in New Jersey on behalf of four unidentified men against the highest echelons of the church charges the Vatican knew McCarrick ‘was a suspected abuser and child molester’ and a danger to its members, but did nothing to stop him.” By Ted Sherman, NJ Advance Media for NJ.com

McCarrick report is one small step to dismantling clerical culture
“The steps not yet taken involve much deeper, interior work on the part of those still greatly invested in and rewarded by the culture than they’ve yet been willing or able to face. They must be willing to ask themselves fundamental questions about the meaning of ordination, the role of the ordained in the larger community, the consequences of prohibiting women from the realm of the ordained, the role of privilege and secrecy in church governance. They have to decide whether the model for bishops is prince or servant, and what that decision portends for their credibility and leadership in the future.” By Tom Roberts, National Catholic Reporter

This archbishop has become the first African American cardinal in Catholic history
“For the past week, Archbishop Wilton Gregory of Washington, DC, was holed up in a Vatican guesthouse, receiving meals at his door. On Saturday (Nov. 28), Gregory stepped out of his quarters and into history, becoming the Catholic Church’s first African American cardinal during an installation ceremony in Rome. Gregory was one of 13 men — and the only American — elevated to the College of Cardinals during Saturday’s ceremony … Gregory, 72, already the highest-ranking African-American Catholic in US history, told CNN this week that he has been praying, writing homilies and letters to well-wishers, and reflecting on his new role.” By Delia Gallagher, CNN, on WKTV-TV2 News

Pope named as defendant in Australian legal claim
“Pope Francis has been named as a defendant in a Victorian Supreme Court damages claim by three Aboriginal men who say they were sexually assaulted as young boys by pedophile priest Michael Glennon, according to The Age. It is the first known case in Australia in which survivors of clerical sexual abuse have sought to hold the Pope personally responsible for the Church’s failure to take decisive action against predators in its ranks. The three plaintiffs, who cannot be identified for legal reasons, all claim to have experienced significant, ongoing impacts from their childhood abuse, including drug addiction, homelessness and unemployment.” By CathNews.com

Lawsuit says Buffalo Diocese, bishops covered up failures on abuse
“New York State Attorney General Letitia James filed a lawsuit Nov. 23 against the Diocese of Buffalo and Bishop Richard J. Malone, who headed the diocese from 2012 to 2019, and newly retired Auxiliary Bishop Edward M. Grosz. The suit alleges a two-decades-long cover-up of how the diocese failed to deal with numerous priests accused of alleged sexual abuse.” By Mike Matvey, Catholic News Service, on CatholicPhilly.com


The modern vision of Pope Francis in a medieval church
“Pope Francis issued his third encyclical, Fratelli Tutti, on the feast of St. Francis of Assisi, indicating his deep spiritual affinity with the founder of the Franciscan movement. The encyclical deepens the pope’s vision of integral ecology laid out in his 2015 work, ‘Laudato Si’, on Care for Our Common Home’ now extended to the social order on the level of fraternity and social friendship. The pope’s writings are comprehensive in his depth of analysis of ecological, social and technocratic structures that have created systems of separation, manipulation and disregard for the poor. He begins Fratelli Tutti by taking his cue from the ‘Admonitions’ of Francis of Assisi, who writes in his 25th admonition: ‘Blessed is the servant who would love and respect his brother as much when he is far from him as he would when he is with him; and who would not say anything behind his back which in charity he could not say to his face.’’’ By Ilia Delio, Global Sisters Report, National Catholic Reporter

Pope Francis challenges the Catholic left
“It is one of the saddest facts about a certain kind of liberal Catholic that, as the pope said, with nothing but goodwill, they take a wrong path with an agenda that may be defensible or even laudable on other grounds, but is no longer a Catholic path. They consider the doctrines that have defined our church for centuries as so much silly putty in their hands, to be stretched any which way to achieve an objective that may not be reconcilable with the Catholic faith. I have said it before and will say it again: Just because a Catholic has a thought does not mean it is a Catholic thought that has been had.” By Michael Sean Winters, National Catholic Reporter


Pope creates 13 new cardinals, including Washington archbishop
“One by one 11 senior churchmen, including two U.S. citizens — Cardinals Wilton D. Gregory of Washington and Silvano M. Tomasi, a former Vatican diplomat — knelt before Pope Francis to receive their red hats, a cardinal’s ring and a scroll formally declaring their new status and assigning them a ‘titular’ church in Rome. But with the consistory Nov. 28 occurring during the COVID-19 pandemic, Pope Francis actually created 13 new cardinals.” By Cindy Wooden, Catholic News Service, in The Pilot


Cardinal Pell says he feels ‘vindicated’ by Vatican finance corruption being investigated
“The pope’s former treasurer, Cardinal George Pell, said Monday (Nov. 30) he feels a dismayed sense of vindication as the financial mismanagement he tried to uncover in the Holy See is now being exposed in a spiraling Vatican corruption investigation. Pell made the comments to The Associated Press in his first interview since returning to Rome after his conviction-turned-acquittal on sexual abuse charges. Pell told the AP that he knew in 2014 when he took the treasury job that the Holy See’s finances were ‘a bit of a mess.’” By Nicole Winfield, Associated Press, in America: The Jesuit Review


What the McCarrick report means for the church
“The report is unprecedented, reading like no other Vatican document I can recall. It is not clothed in dense church-speak or vague references to misdeeds. It is at times graphic and always revealing. As a whole, it is a devastating portrait of personal deception and institutional blindness, of opportunities missed and faith shattered. For those of us who have experience with Vatican documents and Vatican investigations, the report is amazing in its efforts to be transparent. At 449 pages, the report is exhaustive and at times exhausting. Not only were over 90 interviews conducted, but extensive quotations from relevant Vatican correspondence and documents reveal the internal back and forth between individuals and offices.” By Catholic News Service

Blame to share
“In the weeks since the Vatican released its report regarding disgraced former Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, the blame game has been in full swing. How is it possible, both critics and friends ask, that such a man as McCarrick could ever rise to the highest levels of the Church? It’s a good question, with not a lot of good answers. The 460-page report does not lay blame on any one person or group. Instead, it has carefully followed the trail of facts and communiques inside and outside the Vatican regarding who knew what and when and how about the allegations of sexual misconduct against McCarrick. The issue of guilt isn’t addressed in the report; that had been decided by an investigation two years ago that found ‘credible’ evidence against him. He was subsequently removed from the priesthood.” By The Catholic Register Editorial Board


U.S. Catholic bishops’ response to McCarrick report is sad but predictable
“The discussion of the Vatican report on ex-Cardinal Theodore McCarrick by the U.S. bishops at their annual fall meeting was sad but predictable — sad because the bishops failed to communicate that they understood the report’s implications; predictable in that some bishops defended John Paul II against the report’s finding that the pontiff shared culpability in the McCarrick case. The report, released Nov. 10, acknowledged that despite it being known that McCarrick was sleeping with seminarians, he was promoted to the Archdiocese of Washington and made a cardinal by Pope John Paul II.” By Thomas Reese, Religion News Service, in National Catholic Reporter

Pope Francis names new bishop of scandal-ridden Buffalo diocese
“Pope Francis Tuesday (Dec. 1) appointed Bishop Michael Fisher, an auxiliary of Washington, to be the next bishop of the scandal-ridden Diocese of Buffalo, New York. Fisher, 62, will take over leadership of Buffalo as the diocese faces a new lawsuit from the State of New York for failing to protect children from clergy sex abuse. The diocese also filed for bankruptcy in February of this year, after it was named in hundreds of clerical abuse lawsuits filed in New York courts. Fisher will be the 15th bishop of the western New York diocese, following Bishop Richard Malone, who resigned amid controversy in December 2019.” By Catholic News Agency

Canadian Catholic bishop resigns at age of 64 ‘for the good of the Church’
“Pope Francis accepted Sunday (Nov. 29) the resignation of a Canadian Catholic bishop at the age of 64. The Holy See press office said that the pope accepted the resignation of Bishop Robert Bourgon of Hearst-Moosonee on Nov. 29 … Radio-Canada reported Nov. 29 that Bourgon faced criticism following the dismissal of two priests facing charges of fraud. It added that following protests by parishioners, who believed the priests to be innocent of wrongdoing, Pope Francis mandated a visitation by Bishop Serge Poitras of Timmins, Ontario.” By Catholic News Agency


Seminaries need clear sexual harassment guidelines to prevent clerical abuse
“When the former cardinal Theodore McCarrick was bishop of the diocese of Metuchen, N.J., he routinely asked seminarians to join him at his vacation home, visits that regularly included the bishop sharing a bed with young men. Any reasonable standards would characterize those episodes, in which a powerful authority figure even suggested sharing a bed with students, as instances of sexual harassment. Stories like these led to Mr. McCarrick’s downfall, as was laid out in a recent Vatican investigation into allegations of harassment and abuse.” By Michael J. O’Loughlin, America: The Jesuit Review


The complicated legacy of Bishop John England
“Amid all the heart-searching that the Catholic Church is doing in response to the ongoing scandal of sexual abuse and episcopal malfeasance, the realization that laypeople need to be engaged in structural reform is central. No group should ever police itself, and that includes the bishops. The 1983 revision of the Code of Canon Law made some progress in recognizing the rights and responsibilities of the laity, but it never got beyond allowing them a consultative role in the decision-making process. That this could change is clear, because the heartening truth about canon law is that it is subordinate to the Gospel; it must reflect and support Gospel priorities.” By Paul Lakeland, Commonweal


Vatican launches website dedicated to ‘Fratelli Tutti’ encyclical
“Beginning Tuesday (Dec.1), Pope Francis’ recent Encyclical Fratelli tutti, on Fraternity and Social Friendship, will be more readily accessible by the faithful. The Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development announces a special website dedicated to the Encyclical which can be accessed either from the homepage of the Dicastery www.humandevelopment.va or directly from the URL www.fratellitutti.va.” By Vatican News


South Dakota Catholic priest steals nearly $260,000 from three churches, jailed for three years; also faces sex charges
“Most people are familiar with the phrase ‘caught with your hand in the cookie jar.’ However, a Catholic priest from Rapid City, South Dakota, earned himself a sentence in federal prison for being caught with his hand ‘in the offertory bag.’ Marcin Stanislaw Garbacz, 42, was sent to prison for 7 years and 9 months on Monday (Nov. 30) for stealing nearly $260,000 from three parishes in Rapid City.” By Jeevan Biswas International Business Times

Swiss court orders full access to records for Vatican financial investigation
“Vatican investigators have been granted full access to Swiss banking documentation related to long-time Vatican investment manager Enrico Crasso. The newly announced decision by a Swiss federal court is the latest development in the ongoing financial scandal surrounding the purchase of a London building by the Secretariat of State in 2018. According to Huffington Post, the decision was issued on Oct. 13 but only published this week. The documents to be turned over to the Vatican include financial records of the company to Az Swiss & Partners. Az Swiss owns Sogenel Capital Holding, the company Crasso founded after leaving Credit Suisse in 2014.” By Ed Condon, Catholic News Agency


The implosion of clericalism dramatized in Leonard Berstein’s ‘Mass’
“I find myself again lamenting the abysmal sinfulness of the Catholic clerical system. The long-anticipated release of the McCarrick report sheds harsh light on the failure of complicit bishops and Pope John Paul II to believe then-Archbishop Theodore McCarrick’s victims even after New York Cardinal John O’Connor warned the pope not to make him Cardinal Archbishop of Washington. The painful mendacity of the clerical system was also on depressing display at FutureChurch’s 30th anniversary celebration, where theologian Doris Wagner Reisinger received the organization’s Young Catholic Leaders Award. Reisinger spoke about her abuse as a young nun and her efforts to bring a prominent Vatican priest to justice. In her experience, Catholic sisters have too often been entrapped in a conspiracy of silence that protects abusing priests.” By Christine Schenk, National Catholic Reporter


Switzerland’s Catholic bishops lament record exodus from Church in 2019
“Bishops in Switzerland lamented Wednesday (Dec. 2) a record exodus of Catholics from the Church in 2019. In a statement after their virtual plenary assembly Dec. 2, the bishops acknowledged new figures showing that last year saw the highest annual number of ‘church exits’ on record.” By Catholic News Service

Dozens of Catholic churches merging to create 14 new ones in the Diocese of Pittsburgh
“Fourteen new merged parishes will be created in the Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh on Jan. 4, the diocese announced Saturday (Nov. 28). Forty parishes will be part of the mergers and will bring the number of parishes in the diocese from 107 to 81, the release states. ‘For two years, you have journeyed together on a road that is intended to unite you on the mission to bring the Good News of Jesus to your neighbors and to strengthen all of you in faith,’ Bishop David Zubik said.” By WPXI-TV11 News


The media is not the church’s enemy
“Yes, media outlets need to tell the whole truth, the good news as well as the bad. But as professional journalists, we also have to respect news values in our coverage, and often that involves some sort of conflict … In his comments calling for transparency, Bishop Shawn McKnight of Jefferson City, Missouri, may have inadvertently promoted the work of journalists. “We as a church need to use all the resources that are available to us, and in many instances that will be found in lay people, who are skilled and qualified in investigating these kinds of accusations and helping us evaluate the facts,” he said. Exactly. The media are not the enemy. We are professionals, trying to do our jobs, in the service of the truth.” By Heidi Schlumpf, National Catholic Reporter

Confessions of a Vatican source: Jason Barry on the McCarrick report
“When Pope John Paul II made Theodore McCarrick a cardinal in 2001, the archbishop of Washington, D.C., was a silk-between-the-fingers fundraiser. A year later, when the pope summoned the U.S. cardinals to Rome to confront the abuse crisis, McCarrick took the lead at press conferences — a bold move, given his revelation to The Washington Post and CNN that accusations against him had been investigated and found false. In the ensuing years, McCarrick traveled the globe as an unofficial church diplomat, and rumors spread that he had slept with seminarians while a bishop in Metuchen and Newark, New Jersey, using a beach house on the Jersey Shore. Rumors no journalist could pin down.” By Jason Berry, National Catholic Reporter

Who’s at fault? New reports on clergy sex abuse offer different views
“On the same day last week (Nov. 10), two reports on sexual abuse in the Catholic Church made headlines. The first report, released by the Vatican, is the so-called ‘McCarrick report’ … The second report was released by an independent commission in the U.K … What the reports have in common is long lists of sexual abuse victims and their broken families. The testimonies of survivors are instructive for the quality of their demand for justice and yet, to paraphrase Tolstoy, each unhappy survivor story ‘is unhappy in its own way.’ Each story is unbearable in its details of the physical and psycho-spiritual torture and the chronic wounds that remain.” By Rose Marie Berger, Sojourners on Sojo.net


Prominent priest, EWTN contributor accused of sexual assault
“A floor mosaic inscribed with the words ‘The Truth Above All Things’ welcomes visitors to the Church of St. Michael in midtown Manhattan where popular priest Fr. George Rutler has served as pastor since 2013. Yet Rutler now stands accused of sexually assaulting a female security guard after she allegedly filmed him watching gay pornography last month. Those allegations have shocked parishioners and associates of Rutler, as they seek to reconcile the accusations with their own experience of the politically and theologically conservative priest known for his regular appearances on EWTN and prolific writings where he derided ‘abortionists and the sodomites,’ advocated for traditional liturgical practices and regularly criticized Pope Francis.” By Christopher White, National Catholic Reporter

Priests’ defamation suits are the latest wrinkle in sex-abuse fallout
“As U.S. dioceses continue to pay out big settlements for lawsuits, the church is facing another nettlesome problem stemming from the abuse scandal: Priests who say they were falsely accused are suing for defamation. In August 2018, shortly after a Pennsylvania grand jury report listed more than 300 priests in six dioceses in the state who had been credibly accused of abusing more than 1,000 minors since 1947, Nebraska Attorney General Doug Peterson asked the three dioceses in his state to turn over files on church personnel credibly accused of sexual abuse since 1978.” By Mark Nacinovich, National Catholic Reporter


Further investigation into Colorado Catholic Church IDs 46 more victims, nine more abusive priests—including Denver’s Father Woody
“Father James Moreno sexually assaulted a teenage boy dozens of times over two years after they met at a Denver Catholic school — including in the rectory of the city’s most prominent church. Moreno assaulted the boy more than 60 times between 1978 and 1980. He groomed him, gave him alcohol and marijuana, and raped him, according to a report released Tuesday Dec. 1) by the Colorado Attorney General’s Office. The abuse happened all over Denver: in the rooms of St. Andrew’s Preparatory Seminary High School, in Moreno’s car, in the boy’s home, in the rectory of the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in the heart of Denver, one block from the state Capitol.” By Elise Schmelzer, The Denver Post


What can Florida do about 51 Catholic priests who abused kids? Nothing
“The state attorney general’s office has concluded a two-year investigation into alleged sexual abuse by Catholic priests. Investigators believe the systemic abuse has been largely weeded out. That’s the good news. The bad news is investigators say they have enough evidence to prosecute dozens of priests, and here’s what they plan to do about it: Nothing. They can’t. Statute-of-limitations laws make the alleged criminal untouchable.” By Orlando Sentinel Editorial Board


Suburban Lake County priest investigated for past child sex abuse
“The Archdiocese of Chicago is investigating allegations that a suburban priest sexually abused children 25 years ago. Cardinal Blase Cupich wrote a letter to parishioners on Saturday (Nov. 28) saying he asked the Rev. David Ryan to ‘step aside from ministry’ after the archdiocese received the allegations. Ryan, pastor at St. Francis de Sales Catholic Parish in Lake Zurich, has been ‘directed to live away from the parish’ during the investigation and ‘is fully cooperating with this direction,’ Cupich said in the letter.” By NBC-TV5 News


Abuse trial delayed for ex-Catholic Church friar
“The trial for a former Catholic Church friar accused of sex abuse at a Mississippi school has been postponed. Paul West, a former member of the Franciscan religious order, was supposed to face trial on Tuesday for allegations that he sexually molested students in the 1990s at Greenwood’s St. Francis of Assisi School. No new trial date was immediately set, Kelly Roberts, senior deputy clerk of the Leflore County Circuit Court, told The Greenwood Commonwealth.” By Associated Press on WJTV-TV12 News


Over a year, more than 230 sex abuse suits have been filed in NJ against the Catholic Church
“The lawsuits filed over the past 12 months in New Jersey alleging sex abuse by Catholic priests have been numerous — there are more than 230 of them — and varied. One man said that when he was a student at St. Joseph Regional High School in Montvale and told a vice principal that he’d been abused by a religious brother, the administrator struck the student over the head with a 500-page book, warned him never to speak of it again and imposed a five-day suspension.” By Abbott Koloff and Deena Yellin, NorthJersey.com


New York attorney general sues bishops Malone, Grosz and Buffalo Diocese for failing to protect children
“New York State Attorney General Letitia James on Monday (Nov. 23) sued the Catholic Diocese of Buffalo and former bishops Richard J. Malone and Edward M. Grosz for failing to protect children and for engaging in a decades-long cover-up of sexual abuse by diocesan priests. New York’s top prosecutor also filed a motion that seeks to force a full public disclosure of predatory priests and their actions against those whom they were entrusted with spiritual care, and is seeking a court-appointed monitor that would ensure that interim Bishop Edward B. Scharfenberger complies with sexual abuse policies and procedures.” By Charlie Spect, WKBW-TV7 News


Allentown Diocese has paid $16 million to abuse victims
“The Allentown Diocese has paid nearly $16 million to victims of sexual abuse by members of the clergy, it reported Tuesday (Nov. 24), as the program to compensate victims draws to a close. The payments, totaling $15.85 million, were made to 96 abuse victims through the diocese’s Independent Reconciliation and Compensation Program, according to a final report by an independent committee appointed to oversee the program.” By Peter Hall, The Morning Call


Utah priest abuse lawsuit poses new challenge to time limits on old cases
“What began as a routine visit to the deli aisle last year ended in a revelation for Guy Platt. Platt spotted the Colosimo name on a pork sausage label and wondered if it belonged to a member of the family he recalled from childhood. But an online search turned up a series of mugshots and a more profound connection. The man he said he remembers sexually abusing and threatening him five decades earlier hadn’t been a schoolmate’s father like he’d thought.” By Annie Knox, Deseret News


Catholics angered, saddened by Montreal church’s mishandling of abusive priest
“People who tried to warn Montreal’s Catholic Archdiocese about a pedophile priest say they’re sad, angry and overwhelmed by an explosive report outlining the church’s repeated failures to heed their warnings. The Montreal archdiocese asked retired Quebec Superior Court justice Pepita Capriolo to investigate the church’s handling of allegations against former priest Brian Boucher, who was convicted in January 2019 of sexually abusing two young boys.” By Leah Hendry and Steve Rukavina, CBC News


‘My world was the Church,’ abuse survivor Andrew Madden on his journey to recovery
“Andrew Madden was an altar boy. He had always enjoyed going to the Church and wanted to become a priest. But aged 12, he was abused by Father Ivan Payne. That abuse lasted for several years.In Ireland, he was the first victim of clerical child sex abuse to go public with his story in 1995. As part of an Unreported Europe episode focusing on the survivors of Ireland’s child sex abuse scandal at the hands of Catholic priests, Euronews spoke to Madden his personal healing journey.” By Euronews


Child abuse in the Catholic Church—a scandalous approach to scandal
“Standing on the banks of the Rhine river, practically in the shadows of Cologne’s cathedral, Karl Haucke says he has lost faith in the Catholic Church. His story begins in the early 1960s, when he was sent to boarding school in the West German capital at the time, Bonn. From the age of eleven, he was regularly abused by a priest for four years—at least once a week. But the abuse was not just of a physical, sexual nature. The priest made him relate the stories during the weekly confession.” By Deutche Welle

German survivors accuse Cardinal Woelki of ‘abuse of abuse victims’
“The two abuse survivors who resigned as spokesmen of the victims’ advisory board in the Cologne Archdiocese have accused Cardinal Rainer Maria Woelki of a ‘renewed abuse of abuse victims.’ The board had been ‘completely overrun’ by Cardinal Woelki’s treatment of the Cologne abuse studies, Patrick Bauer told the Süddeutsche Zeitung newspaper in comments published Nov. 19. ‘We were meant to deliver the certificate: approved by the advisory board,’ said Karl Haucke.” By Catholic News Service


New pupils barred from top UK Catholic school after abuse scandal
“The government has ordered one of England’s most prestigious Catholic boarding schools, Ampleforth college, to stop admitting new pupils as a result of ‘very serious’ failings. Scandal has surrounded the private school in recent years and an independent inquiry into child sexual abuse published a highly critical report in August 2018 that said ‘appalling sexual abuse [was] inflicted over decades on children as young as seven.’” By Mattha Busby, The Guardian


Sins of the fathers: Ireland’s sex abuse survivors
“Ireland has one of the largest Catholic communities in Europe. The Church is rooted into the culture of the country, but when Pope Francis visited Dublin in 2018 his words divided the nation. Since 2002, multiple reports and investigations have shed light on nearly 15,000 cases of sexual abuse committed in Ireland between 1970 and 1990. The pontiff had come to apologise for those crimes carried out by members of the Church’s clergy. For many survivors, the visit and remorse that came with it was far too late.” By Euronews


Stop blaming children for the behavior of sexual predators
“Two headlines this week have perturbed me considerably, not only because of the stories they refer to, but because it points to an alarming inability by some fellow members of the press to comprehend how important it is to report sex abuse stories using the right terminology. This is not about being ‘politically correct’, which has become a hackneyed phrase, and is often being used with negative connotations, much in the same way we sneer at people for being ‘snowflakes’, i.e., overly sensitive and easily offended.” By Josanne Cessar, Malta Today


Catholic Church abuse: Victim says church refused to strip honors from abuser
“A woman who was sexually abused at a Catholic school says the church refused to strip her abuser of any honors or remove his name from a school classroom despite evidence he had abused multiple people. It also never told her to go to police and instead offered her $6000 in compensation – which she rejected. Frances Tagaloa, 52, gave her evidence before the Royal Commission of Inquiry into Abuse in State Care this morning (Nov. 29), as hearings began on abuse in faith-based institutions.” By Isaac Davison, New Zealand Herald