Voice of the Faithful Focus, Feb. 11, 2022


Spain’s government vows to investigate Catholic Church abuse
“Spain’s ruling coalition wants historic clerical sexual abuses to be investigated in the country, and Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez has said he will first meet with abuse victims. ‘We’re going to talk and build,”’ said the head of the coalition government that rules Spain. ‘The human dimension of this problem is important.’ Three left-wing parties – Unidas Podemos, ERC and EH Bildu – presented a petition for the creation of a commission in Spain’s Congress to launch an investigation into the sexual abuses of minors committed within the Catholic Church.” By Inés San Martin, Cruxnow.com

Germany’s Cardinal Marx calls findings of abuse report a ‘disaster’ for church
“The archbishop of Munich said Thursday (Jan. 27) that the Catholic church needs deep reform to overcome the ‘disaster’ of sexual abuse and made clear that he intends to stay in his job, after a report faulted him and predecessors including retired Pope Benedict XVI for their handling of abuse allegations and cases in Germany. Cardinal Reinhard Marx last year offered to resign over the church’s abuse scandal, an extraordinary gesture at the time which was rejected swiftly by Pope Francis. Marx, a prominent reformist ally of the pontiff, was faulted over his handling of two cases in the report commissioned by his archdiocese from a Munich law firm.” By Geir Moulson, Associated Press, in National Catholic Reporter

New Zealand bishops publish report on abuse cases: nearly 1,700 abuse cases involving Catholic clergy, religious and lay people
“A report released by the New Zealand bishops’ conference found allegations of abuse were made against 14 percent of diocesan clergy who have ministered in the country since 1950. The report, published Feb. 1, said that ‘a total of 1,680 reports of abuse were made by 1,122 individuals against Catholic clergy, brothers, nuns, sisters and laypeople from 1950 to the present, with 592 alleged abusers named.’ “Almost half the reported abuse involved sexual harm,” the report said … In a statement published after the release of the report, Cardinal John Dew, president of the New Zealand bishops’ conference, said the investigation’s findings were ‘horrifying and something we are deeply ashamed of.’” By Junno Arocho Esteves, Catholic News Service, on Cruxnow.com

Father Hans Zollner on the German sex abuse report, Pope Benedict and the future of the church
“In a wide-ranging interview with America, Father Hans Zollner, the German Jesuit and one of the church’s top experts in the field of the safeguarding and protection of minors and vulnerable people from abuse, discussed the much-publicized report on how abuse cases were handled in the archdiocese of Munich and Freising, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI’s response to that report, the situation of the Catholic Church in Germany today, and what more Rome could do to help eliminate this plague from the church.” By Gerard O’Connell, America: The Jesuit Review

Catholic group calls on Pope Francis to set up independent abuse inquiry for Vatican files
“The Catholic We Are Church International network of groups has called on Pope Francis to establish an independent legal investigation of the files at the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) ‘to determine the global extent of the cover-ups of clerical sex abuse cases.’ In a statement, it noted how ‘a decade ago in Ireland State judges investigating clerical abuse cases sought relevant files from the office of the Vatican’s CDF. The CDF refused to supply any files.’ The group referred to the recent ‘detailed Munich independent legal investigation’ which ‘accused . . . [Emeritus] Pope Benedict XVl with failing to report four cases of clerical abuse [by priests] while he was archbishop of Munich.’” By Patsy McGarry, The Irish Times


Former Vatican prelate to face trial for sexual abuse in Argentina on Feb. 21
“After a five-month delay, Argentine Bishop Gustavo Zanchetta, a veteran prelate who has boasted of his friendship with the pope, will be tried in a criminal court Feb. 21 … A hearing in the case against the former bishop of Oran, in Argentina’s northern Salta region, was originally scheduled to take place Oct. 12-15 of last year, according to the local public ministry. ‘As it was already suspended while waiting for the documents, the judge decided that the hearing should be held,’ said the Public Prosecutor’s Office, according to Salta’s daily El Tribuno.” By Inés San Martin, Cruxnow.com

Pope Benedict concedes failings in new letter, but no apology for German abuse cases
“Retired Pope Benedict XVI on Feb. 8 acknowledged past failings of the Catholic Church in confronting clergy sexual abuse under his watch but stopped short of a direct, personal apology after an independent report faulted his handling of four cases of abuse when he was an archbishop in Germany in the 1970s and 80s. A legal team advising the retired pope has also published an analysis challenging the German report’s findings, arguing that investigators mischaracterized some of Benedict’s actions or knowledge during his time as archbishop.” By Christopher White, National Catholic Reporter

Pope Benedict likely won’t be punished for his handling of sex abuse. But his record can point the way forward.
“An in-depth report released last week alleges that former Pope Benedict XVI allowed four abusive priests in Munich to remain in ministry. The pope, then known as Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, led the German archdiocese from 1977 to 1982. The 1,900-page audit was commissioned by the Archdiocese of Munich and Freising but conducted by independent investigators. It covers the period from 1945 to 2019 and lists 235 alleged clergy who were perpetrators of sexual abuse and at least 497 minors who were victims. Given Benedict’s status – he was pope from 2005 to 2013 – the news has put additional scrutiny on top leaders’ roles in allowing abusers to go unpunished. It also raises the classic questions of what Benedict knew, and when.” By David Gibson, The Conversation, in America: The Jesuit Review

Critics of former pope are scapegoating him over abuse, Vatican says
“The Vatican on Wednesday (Jan. 26) hit back at critics of former Pope Benedict, under scrutiny over his handling of sex abuse in Germany decades ago, accusing them of seeking a scapegoat over what should be a ‘collective examination’ of the Church’s past. The Vatican waited nearly a week to issue a substantive response following last Thursday’s (Jan. 20) report on abuse in the Munich archdiocese from 1945 to 2019. That report said the then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger failed to take action against clerics in four cases of alleged abuse when he was the city’s archbishop between 1977 and 1982.” By Philip Pullella, Reuters, on WTVB-AM/FM News


The Synodal process: an initial assessment
“About three months after the opening of the synodal process, the Ordinary Council expressed great satisfaction with the headway being made by the process at the local level. Close to 98% of the Episcopal Conferences and Synods of Eastern Churches worldwide have appointed a person or an entire team to implement the synodal process. The Ordinary Council’s assessment was bolstered by the results that emerged from exchanges during some 15 online meetings with synod appointees from around the world organized by the General Secretariat of the Synod of Bishops from November-December in 2021.” By Synod.va

As a bishop, I was skeptical about synodality. The Latin American church changed that.
“Something dramatic happened in the development of Vatican II’s document on the church, Lumen Gentium, in 1964. The original draft of the document, sharply criticized by the council fathers, was discarded in favor of one that placed a chapter on the people of God (Chapter 2) before a chapter on the hierarchy of the church (Chapter 3). This move was astounding for a church that had become accustomed to a cleric-centric culture. But the change was not a novelty in the church; it was based deeply in Scripture and tradition. While maintaining and clarifying the proper and essential role of the hierarchy in the church, this shift in Lumen Gentium signaled a correction to the excesses of a clerical culture.” By Bishop Oscar Cantú, San Jose, California

Pope to meet university students as part of synodal process
“Highlighting the importance of a church that truly listens, Pope Francis will participate in a virtual meeting hosted by Loyola University in Chicago with students from North, Central and South America. The Feb. 24 virtual meeting, titled ‘Building Bridges: A Synodal Encounter between Pope Francis and University Students,’ will be an opportunity to ‘address the salient challenges of our times,’ the university’s website said. ‘The pope will dialogue with these university students who will share concrete educational projects that seek to justly transform environmental and economic realities,’ as well as discuss the challenges of migration, it said.” By Junno Arocho Esteves, Cruxnow.com

Local submissions roll in for global Synod of Bishops: Deadline for online submissions in Australia is February 27
“Hundreds of individuals and groups have made submissions to the local consultation phase of the global Synod of Bishops, and Australian Catholics have three more weeks to share their stories. In October last year, Pope Francis launched the international journey towards the XVI Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops. The Synod … has been dubbed by many the ‘Synod on Synodality’ – the process of walking together as Catholics. Catholics around the world have been invited to take part in local engagement, responding to a series of questions under themes of communion, participation and mission. The deadline for online submissions for the diocesan phase in Australia is February 27, when the process of collating reports for each diocese will commence.” By CathNews.com

American Catholics need to shed some habits to get in the synodal spirit
“The conversations about the synodal process are telling. In discussions with friends on the Catholic left, it appears that some are approaching the synod with a clear agenda. Advocacy groups like the Women’s Ordination Conference and New Ways Ministry are providing materials for their members to get involved and, to be clear, there is nothing wrong about that. In fact, the Vatican has encouraged such involvement. I am even told that some pundits and columnists are voicing strong opinions on what the synod can or should accomplish! Heaven forbid!” By Michael Sean Winters, National Catholic Reporter

Unexcused absence: Why aren’t colleges more involved in the synod?
“The ‘synodal process’ in advance of the Synod on Synodality of October 2023 is officially underway, or should be underway, in all local churches. But if you spend any time on the campus of a Catholic college or university—as a student, teacher, member of the staff, parent, or simply because your house or parish is near one of those campuses—you’d never think that the Church is in the midst of the biggest ecclesial event since the Second Vatican Council, one that’s supposed to involve the entire people of God. There just seems to be a feeling of indifference about the whole thing.” By Massimo Faggioli, Commonweal


Indigenous delegation meeting with Pope Francis at Vatican set for March
“An Indigenous delegation is to meet with Pope Francis at the Vatican in early spring to discuss reconciliation and healing after a visit was postponed because of the COVID-19 pandemic. A joint statement from the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops and national organizations representing First Nations, Inuit and Métis people says the delegation is to meet with the Pope in Rome the week of March 28. A final audience with him is to take place April 1.” By Cranbrook Daily Townsman


Head of German bishops calls on Benedict XVI to ask forgiveness over abuse report
“According to the president of the German Bishops’ Conference, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI must apologize for his role in the sexual abuse scandal in the Church and accept his faults in the cover-up of cases. ‘He must make a statement, he must set aside the recommendations of his advisors and say clearly and simply: I bear guilt, I have made mistakes, I ask forgiveness from those affected,” Bishop Georg Bätzing told ZDF, the German public broadcaster. He made the statement following the publication of the report on sexual abuse in the Archdiocese of Munich-Freising. The document, released Jan. 20, found that at least 497 people were abused in the German archdiocese between 1945 and 2019.” By Inés San Martin, Cruxnow.com

Italian bishops pondering national abuse inquiry
“Following the recent example of other European Church leaders, bishops in Italy are considering the launch of a formal independent inquiry into clerical sexual abuse in the country, yet victims have voiced doubt that the Italian ecclesial hierarchy is ready to take such a significant step. The idea for the inquiry was pitched during the Italian bishops’ fall plenary assembly in November 2021 by Bishop Lorenzo Ghizzoni of Ravenna-Cervia, who also heads the National Service for the Protection of Minors and Vulnerable Adults in the Church.” By Elise Ann Allen, Cruxnow.com


Justice for women religious within the Catholic Church
“The message of Pope Francis on the day of Consecrated Life has heartened a number of women religious in India. It is based on his prayer intention for the month of February: ‘Let us pray for religious sisters and consecrated women, thanking them for their mission and their courage; may they continue to find new responses to the challenges of our times.’ ‘The Pope is very sensitive to the contribution of women religious to the church. He is well aware of the discrimination and abuse that victimize sisters. He may not be able to do much to change the situation but his words give us the space to mobilize opinion and take action,’ said Sister Philomena Thomas, a religious of Assumption Sisters.” By Virginia Saldanha, Mumbai, UCANews.com


Germany’s Synodal Assembly votes for Catholic women deacons by large majority
“The Synodal Path of the Catholic Church in Germany wants laypeople to be able to participate in choosing bishops and wants the church to have women deacons. The third Synodal Assembly to bring about reforms to the Catholic Church ended Feb. 5 with the first concrete decisions of the process. Most German bishops signaled they are prepared to support far-reaching change in the Catholic Church.” By Catholic News Service in National Catholic Reporter


Vatican symposium to explore relationship between priests and laity
“The Vatican will hold an international symposium next week (Feb. 14) to discuss the theology of the relationship between Catholic priests and the laity. The conference, “For a Fundamental Theology of the Priesthood,” will take place Feb. 17-19 in the Vatican’s Paul VI Hall. The symposium was first announced in April 2021. Cardinal Marc Ouellet, prefect of the Congregation for Bishops, has organized the meeting together with the France-based Research and Anthropology Center for Vocations.” By Hannah Brockhaus, Catholic News Agency, in National Catholic Register


German Synodal Assembly opens with calls for change, but some object
“The third German Synodal Assembly spent hours discussing church issues and, by the end of its first day, adopted two texts that delegates hope will bring change and more democracy to the church. A vote on the election of bishops was delayed until the second day of the Feb. 3-5 meeting in Frankfurt … This was the third of five assemblies of the Synodal Path, organized to revitalize the church and restore trust following a September 2018 church-commissioned report that detailed thousands of cases of sexual abuse by Catholic clergy over six decades. Assembly delegates were under pressure to produce change.” By Anli Serfontein, Catholic News Service, in National Catholic Reporter


Italy court definitively annuls warrant for Vatican suspect
“An Italian appeals court has definitively annulled the pre-trial arrest warrant for the prime suspect in the Vatican’s big fraud and embezzlement trial, signaling an end to extradition procedures in Britain for now, his legal team said Wednesday (Feb. 2). The decision by Rome’s Tribunal of Review is a blow to Italian prosecutors but also to Vatican prosecutors, who had been trying to bring Gianluigi Torzi back to Italy to eventually stand trial in the Vatican for his role in the Holy See’s costly London real estate deal.” By Nicole Winfield, Associated Press

Vatican projects budget deficit for 2022 as pandemic continues
“Presenting a budget projection that foresees a deficit of $37.1 million in 2022, the prefect of the Vatican Secretariat for the Economy said he believes the Vatican is on the path to honesty and transparency in financial matters. “We are well aware that we have made major mistakes in financial management, which have undermined the credibility of the Holy See. We seek to learn from them, and we believe we have remedied them so that they do not happen again,” the prefect, Jesuit Father Juan Antonio Guerrero Alves, told Vatican News.” By Cindy Wooden, Catholic News Service, in National Catholic Reporter


Germany’s Cardinal Marx backs loosening of priestly celibacy
“A prominent German archbishop advocated loosening celibacy rules for Catholic priests in comments published Feb. 3 before a meeting of a German reform assembly. Cardinal Reinhard Marx, the archbishop of Munich and Freising, told the daily Sueddeutsche Zeitung that ‘it would be better for everyone to create the possibility of celibate and married priests.’ Marx’s comments come as his diocese has been shaken by an independent report on the church’s handling of sexual abuse cases over decades, which faulted Marx and predecessors, including retired Pope Benedict XVI. Marx, a prominent reformist ally of Pope Francis, said last week that the church needs deep reform to overcome the ‘disaster’ of sexual abuse.” By Associated Press in National Catholic Reporter


How clerical sex abuse crisis reached the top of the Catholic Church
“In January, an in-depth report into the Catholic archdiocese of Munich and Freising – a bulwark of German Catholicism – was published, revealing nearly 500 cases of clerical sexual abuse since 1945. The report accused the now 94-year-old Emeritus Pope Benedict XVI of failing to stop the clerical child sex abuse. German investigators said it is ‘overwhelmingly likely’ the former pope was aware of at least four abusing and pedophile priests during his time as archbishop of Munich from 1977 to 1982. As membership of the Catholic Church in western Europe continues to fall, what will be the consequences of this latest scandal within an increasingly fractured church?” By Sorcha Pollak, The Irish Times

Opinion: The Catholic Church cannot police itself
“Twenty years have passed since the Boston Globe report on the sexual abuse of children by members of the Boston Archdiocese of the Catholic Church. The time since has only lengthened the catalogue of horrors, with untold numbers of cases of children abused at the hands of the church across the globe. Year on year, the numbers have grown as victims have continued to demand redress — and the public has slowly become numb to the magnitude of the crimes. Sporadically, a new report, like the one from last week in Munich, erupts into public view and sheds more light on the scale of the abuse.” By Martin Gak, Deutsche Welle

The lesson for Catholic bishops from Benedict report: apologize, apologize, apologize
Too many Catholic prelates believe that, when it comes to clergy sexual abuse, being in charge means never having to say you’re sorry. For as long as the crisis has been going on, lawyers for bishops have advised many of them not to apologize, as this would be an admission of guilt that would come back as evidence when they were sued in court. Some were too arrogant and cowardly to admit guilt. Others refused to apologize because they believe they are blameless since they made decisions based on the advice they got from psychologists and canon lawyers who themselves were ignorant. Some even foolishly thought that admitting responsibility would somehow harm the church.” By Thomas Reese, Religion News Service

Pope Benedict faulted over sex abuse claims: New report is just one chapter in his – and Catholic Church’s – fraught record
“An in-depth report released last week alleges that former Pope Benedict XVI allowed four abusive priests in Munich to remain in ministry. The pope, then known as Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, led the German archdiocese from 1977 to 1982. The 1,900-page audit was commissioned by the Archdiocese of Munich and Freising but conducted by independent investigators. It covers the period from 1945 to 2019 and lists 235 alleged clergy who were perpetrators of sexual abuse and at least 497 minors who were victims … As a journalist, I covered Ratzinger in Rome in the 1980s and wrote a biography of him in 2006. Today, I see this episode as an opportunity to understand the church’s fitful evolution on dealing with abuse.” By David Gibson, The Conversation


Bill would remove statute of limitations for child sex abuse lawsuits
“Another try at lifting the statute of limitations in child sexual abuse cases sits in limbo in the Legislature. A bill introduced by Sen. Katy Duhigg, D-Albuquerque, would remove restrictions on how long a victim of such abuse has to file a lawsuit. Many experts say statutes that narrowly limit the time survivors of child abuse have to sue a perpetrator or an organization are unfair because it takes many victims years to acknowledge or come to terms with the abuse.” By Rick Ruggles, Santa Fe New Mexican


The Catholic Church and pedophilia: the story never ends
“The tragic saga of sexual abuses of minors committed by Catholic priests never seems to end. The latest episode in a story that is damaging, perhaps irreparably, the image of the Church is a report commissioned by the German Archdiocese of Munich and Freising on sexual abuses committed by clergy in the diocesan territory from 1945 to 2019. The report speaks of ‘at least 497’ victims and ‘mistakes’ made by successive archbishops in their handling of priests accused of abuses.” By Massimo Introvignew, MercatorNet.com

‘There is still a lot of pushback from church to victims of abuse,’ warns Catholic priest
“A priest who has campaigned on behalf of clerical sexual abuse victims for more than three decades has criticized the Catholic Church’s ‘toxic and erroneous teaching’ on human sexuality. Canon lawyer Fr Tom Doyle linked the crisis over the church’s mishandling of allegations of abuse and abusers to ‘a misconception of the clergy and bishops as the essence of the Church’ who are ‘essential for salvation.’ He warned there is ‘still plenty of pushback and resistance in the church’ toward abuse victims. ‘The good of the Church really means the good of the ecclesiastical aristocracy,’ he said.” By Sarah MacDonald, Independent.ie

Your thoughts on accused clergy
“In a recent commentary for NCR, Barbara Thorp, the former director of child protection for the Boston Archdiocese, says that despite decades of work by clergy sex abuse survivors and their families, along with journalists and other organizations, the full story is yet to be told. Former NCR editor Tom Roberts agrees, writing that behind the nearly 40-year public history of the clergy sexual abuse scandal is the unaccountable hierarchical culture. – ‘Thank you so much for Barbara Thorp’s honest and compelling commentary on the anniversary of Spotlight’s investigation …’” By National Catholic Reporter Staff

Investigation involving Catholic priest in Wichita has concluded
“On Monday Nov. 1, 2021, the Catholic Diocese of Wichita announced that Bishop Carl Kemme was placing a priest on administrative leave following a report made to the diocese by a reporting party on behalf of an alleged victim. The diocese identified the priest as Rev. Michael Schemm. Prior to placing Rev. Schemm on leave, the diocese forwarded the allegations to the Office of the District Attorney. The Office of the District Attorney in turn forwarded the matter for investigation to the Exploited and Missing Child Unit (EMCU).” By District Attorney Marc Bennett, 18th Judicial District of Kansas


Maine diocese finds sexual abuse allegations against two priests credible
“The Roman Catholic Diocese of Portland has found recent complaints credible that allege two priests, including one who served in Bangor in the 1970s, sexually abused children in the 1950s and 1970s. The diocese received the complaint against Renald Hallee, who served as a priest at St. John’s Catholic Church in Bangor between 1970 and 1973, in 2020. It alleged that he had sexually abused a high school student when he was a priest sometime in the 1970s. The diocese did not specify dates or location.” By Lia Russell, Bangor Daily News


Baltimore archdiocese suspends Catholic priest over sexual abuse allegation dating back to 1970s
“The Archdiocese of Baltimore announced Sunday (Jan. 30) that it has suspended a priest from his duties while it investigates allegations that he sexually abused a minor in the 1970s. Rev. Samuel Lupico was retired but had been assisting at St. Mary of the Assumption in North Baltimore’s Govans and St. Pius X in the Rodgers Forge neighborhood of Towson, the archdiocese said in a news release. The alleged abuse took place in the mid-1970s, when Lupico was serving at St. Ann’s Catholic Church in Baltimore, according to the archdiocese. He served there from 1974 to 1982, the archdiocese said.” By Christine Condon, The Baltimore Sun


Camden diocese offers $90M for victims of clergy sex abuse
“The Diocese of Camden has announced a plan to distribute $90 million to survivors of clergy sex abuse, well above its original offer of $10 million as part of a bankruptcy action. But attorneys for sex-abuse survivors promptly rebuffed the proposal. ‘It’s just woefully inadequate,’ said Jeffrey Prol, an attorney for a committee representing more than 300 people with sex-abuse claims.” By Jim Walsh, Cherry Hill Courier-Post


Queen Catholic priest removed form ministry following sexual misconduct investigation involving teens
“A pastor at a Queens catholic church has been removed from the ministry. Father John O’Connor, 54, who was a pastor at St. Gregory the Great in Bellerose has been removed from the priesthood following an investigation into sexual misconduct involving minors, according to the Diocese of Brooklyn, which serves Brooklyn and Queens. A decision to remove him was determined by the Diocesan Review Board—an independent investigatory panel established by the diocese—following an investigation into claims that he had inappropriate internet communications with teenagers in March 2000 while assigned to St. Athanasius in Brooklyn.” By Christian Murray, Forest Hills Post


Newark priest who taught throughout Greater Columbus accused of abuse of a minor in 1990s
“A Newark priest has been put on leave after he was accused of sexual abuse of a minor, which was alleged to have happened in the 1990s. The Rev. Dean A. Mathewson, 77, was placed on leave by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Columbus on Monday (Jan. 27). Mathewson is accused of sexually abusing a minor while he was serving at St. Francis de Sales in Newark in the early 1990s.” By Danae King, The Columbus Dispatch


A Staten Island priest is charged with molesting a Philadelphia boy decades ago
“A Staten Island priest has been charged with molesting a Philadelphia boy from 1995 until 2002, beginning when the child was 10 years old. The Rev. James Garisto, 73, who spent nearly 40 years as a priest, teacher, and school administrator in the Archdiocese of New York, was arrested Thursday (Jan. 27) and charged with endangering the welfare of children, corruption of minors, and indecent assault. Garisto, who owned a home in Fishtown at the time of the assaults, is accused of attacking the child hundreds of times.” By Mensah M. Dean, The Philadelphia Inquirer


Smithfield priest on leave after sexual-assault allegation
“The Diocese of Providence has placed a Smithfield priest on administrative leave following an allegation he sexually abused a minor sometime around 1979 or 1980, said a diocese spokesman Thursday. The Rev. Francis C. Santilli, pastor of St. Philip Parish in Greenville, has been banned from exercising public ministry or residing on church property pending the outcome of an investigation, the diocese said.” By Tom Mooney, Providence Journal


Trial date set for Brownsville Catholic diocese sexual assault case
“The Roman Catholic Diocese of Brownsville will face trial in May for the alleged sexual assault one priest inflicted on two children in the 1980s. On Thursday (Feb. 3), a Cameron County judge set a trial date of May 16 for a lawsuit between two unidentified people against the diocese. The lawsuit was first filed in March 2019. The plaintiffs claim that Father Benedicto Ortiz sexually assaulted the two children from 1982 to 1985 while he was the priest of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Brownsville and St. Anne Mother of Mary in Pharr.” By Nathaniel Puente, KVEO-TV4News


Vatican orders investigation into sexual misconduct allegations against retired Broome bishop Christopher Saunders
“Documents obtained by the ABC reveal the Vatican has ordered a fresh investigation into retired bishop Christopher Saunders under a protocol set up by Pope Francis to deal with sexual abuse cover-ups. The correspondence, written by a senior manager within a Catholic Church agency, states that Archbishop of Brisbane Mark Coleridge has been appointed to conduct the Vos Estis Lux Mundi inquiry. Pope Francis established the investigative protocol in 2019 to combat sexual abuse and increase the accountability for senior clerics like bishops.” By Erin Parke, ABC Kimberley


Head of Chilean bishops abuse office says there’s need for ‘cultural change’
“After seeing the magnitude of the abuse scandals in Chile, Pope Francis replaced almost half of the South American country’s bishops, and summoned the head of all the bishops conferences to Rome for a clerical abuse prevention summit in 2019. Yet once the attention from the world’s media shifted its focus elsewhere, victims in Chile were still struggling – and some are still waiting for justice. Pilar Ramírez is the head of the department of prevention of the Chilean bishops conference. ‘In retrospect, and in the face of the horror of abuse, it is clear that the objective is always to prevent and repair,’ she told Crux.” By Inés San Martin, Cruxnow.com


German Catholic priest detained in child abuse case
“A German court has ordered a Catholic priest to be held in provisional detention during his trial on accusations he sexually abused children, deciding there was a risk he could commit further assaults. The decision by the Cologne district court, taken on Thursday (Jan. 27), came on the same day that a Catholic cardinal promised to learn from a report that detailed hundreds of cases of sexual abuse in the past 75 years in his archdiocese.” By Reuters


Indian women want Catholic leaders to ‘walk the talk’
“An Indian women’s group has demanded stringent action against sexual predators within the Catholic Church, exhorting Cardinal Oswald Gracias to remove accused priests and a bishop from their ecclesiastical offices. The Indian Christian Women’s Movement (ICWM) in a letter mentioned the recent acquittal of Bishop Franco Mulakkal of Jalandhar from charges of raping a nun. The nun who accused Bishop Mulakkal of raping her belongs to a diocesan congregation that functions under the bishop’s patronage.” By UCANews.com


New Zealand royal commission hers from survivors abused by Bernard McGrath ahead of Australian transfer
“A New Zealand royal commission into abuse in care has heard horrific evidence about a member of a Catholic order who was transferred from his homeland to a boys’ home near Newcastle. The commission comes four years after Australian victims of the St John of God order called on New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Arden to set up a special inquiry to investigate brothers there. An Australian royal commission into child abuse heard 40 per cent of St John of God brothers were abusers, the most of any order.” By Giselle Wakatama, ABC Newcastle

‘Horrifying’ statistics show abuse complaints against 1 in 7 Catholic clergy working for a bishop
“The Catholic Church for the first time today (Feb. 1) publicly released figures showing the scale of sexual and other abuse nationwide since 1950. NZ Catholic Bishops Conference president Cardinal John Dew said the figures were ‘horrifying.’ The church compiled the numbers in response to a request from the Royal Commission of Inquiry into Abuse. They show 1122 survivors laid almost 1700 complaints, that named almost 600 perpetrators of abuse. Others were not named. About half were over sexual abuse, and 80 percent involved children.” By RNZ.co.nz


Clergy abuse victims hopeful at signs to end impunity
“After decades of neglect, victims of sexual abuse by the Spanish clergy say that they are finally seeing momentum building in their quest for real accountability and reparations. On Tuesday (Feb. 1), Spanish lawmakers took the first step toward opening a parliamentary inquiry on the issue, a move that victims hail as a potential game-changer. Prosecutors are also stepping up efforts to dig deeper into existing and new allegations. And Spain’s left-to-center government is gauging whether to back the parliamentary probe or to launch another independent effort.” By Aritz Parra, Associated Press

Spanish archdiocese releases annual sex abuse report
“The Archdiocese of Madrid provided support, including counseling and psychological treatment, to 72 survivors of sexual abuse in 2021, according to an archdiocesan report. ‘Proyecto Repara,’ the archdiocesan office for the prevention of abuse, released its annual report Jan. 24, detailing the number of cases of abuse reported throughout the year, as well as the services offered to survivors and their families. At the end of the year, the office said, it also received information ‘on several possible cases of abuse provided by the newspaper El País in a report sent to Rome.’” By Junno Arocho Esteves, Catholic News Service, on UCANews.com

Left-wing parties call for inquiry commission into church sexual abuse allegations
“Three of Spain’s left-leaning political parties have announced they want to create a commission of inquiry into sex abuse allegations in the country’s Catholic Church, following an investigation by the newspaper El País and similar inquiries launched in other European countries such as France and Germany. On Wednesday, left-wing political parties Podemos, ERC (The Republican Left of Catalonia), and EH Bildu (Euskal Herria Bildu) introduced a proposal for the creation of a commission of inquiry into pedophilia and sexual misconduct in the Spanish Catholic Church.” By Euronews