Voice of the Faithful Focus, Feb. 23, 2018


Chilean sexual abuse victim testifies before Vatican investigator
“The key witness in the case of a Chilean bishop accused of covering sexual abuse said on Saturday (Feb. 17) he gave ‘eye opening’ testimony to a papally mandated investigator and hoped it would lead to the truth. Juan Carlos Cruz met in a church on Manhattan’s Upper West Side for about four hours with Archbishop Charles Scicluna, one of the most experienced and respected Vatican investigators of clergy sexual abuse. ‘It’s been a good experience and I leave here very hopeful today,’ he told reporters afterwards. ‘I feel that I was heard … it was very intense and very detailed and very, sometimes, eye-opening for them.’” By Alice Popavici, Reuters

Francis backs down in dispute with Nigerian priests, accepts bishop’s resignation
Pope Francis has removed a Nigerian bishop whose 2012 appointment sparked years of protest from the diocese’s priests, backing down from a confrontation eight months after threatening to suspend the priests should they continue to agitate. In a short note Feb. 19, the Vatican said the pontiff had accepted the resignation of Bishop Peter Okpaleke, head of the southern Nigerian diocese of Ahiara, and put neighboring Umuahia Bishop Lucius Ugorji in charge as apostolic administrator.” By Joshua J. McElwee, National Catholic Reporter

Pope revives sexual abuse commission
“After his spirited defense of a Chilean bishop accused of covering up sexual abuse prompted the greatest crisis of his pontificate, Pope Francis reactivated an abuse commission on Saturday (Feb. 17) that had lapsed into dormancy. It was the latest in a series of measures by the Vatican to counter criticism that fighting abuse was not a priority for Francis’ papacy. Cardinal Sean O’Malley of Boston was reappointed as the leader of the group, called the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors. A Vatican statement said the panel would include some victims of clerical sexual abuse.” By Jason Horowitz, The New York Times

Disenchanted Catholics look afield in Madison’s Morlino era
“At the 4 p.m. Saturday Vigil Mass at St. Mary Church here, Fr. John Blewett recites the prayers with his back to the congregation. Only occasionally does he turn around to face the worshipers … The parish is the centerpiece in (Bishop Robert) Morlino’s efforts to reshape the diocese after arriving in 2003 from Helena, Montana. As Pope Francis declares a welcoming church, the parish leadership here has dug in its heels. Morlino publicly says he is in accord with Francis. At the same time, he embraces the concept that the church is better off smaller in number if its adherents remain zealous.” By Peter Feuerherd, National Catholic Reporter


Vatican probe of child sex abuse begins in Chile
“The archbishop of Malta, Charles Scicluna, has begun the investigation ordered by Pope Francis to clarify whether Chilean bishop Juan Barros concealed the sexual abuse of minors committed by nearly 80 priests. Scicluna opened the case with the testimony of Chilean journalist Juan Carlos Cruz, one of the victims of the influential Chilean priest Fernando Karadima who was accused of pedophilia and sentenced in 2010 by the Vatican to ‘a life of prayer and penance,’ he heard in a parish in the U.S. city of New York.” By The Santiago Times

Chilean victim of sexual abuse demands thorough Vatican investigation
“A Chilean victim of clerical sexual abuse who is the key witness in the case of a bishop accused of covering it up says a Vatican investigation must be rigorous and fair if the church is to salvage its reputation on the issue. In a telephone interview with Reuters from his home in the United States on Thursday (Feb. 8) night, Juan Carlos Cruz said Pope Francis had ‘set the clock back years and years’ with his recent comments casting doubt on the credibility of victims of abuse.” By Philip Pullella, Reuters, in U.S. News & World Report

Ex-Vatican judge takes plea bargain on molestation, child pornography charges
“A former judge of the Roman Rota, the Vatican’s highest appellate court, has accepted a plea bargain in an Italian criminal court for a conditionally suspended sentence of one year and two months in prison on charges of sexual molestation and possession of child pornography. Based on reports in the Italian media, 55-year-old Monsignor Pietro Amenta was detained by police after an incident in March 2017, in which Amenta allegedly fondled the genitals of a young but over-age Romanian man in a Roman market. The man reportedly then followed Amenta and summoned police, who took Amenta into custody.” By John L. Allen, Jr., Cruxnow.com

Church must be transparent in response to abuse, says head of Child Protection Center
“The Head of the Pontifical Gregorian University’s Centre for Child Protection has said the Church’s legal process for handling accusations of abuse must be more transparent and that it will take a long time for the culture of the Church to change. Jesuit Father Hans Zollner was speaking to reporters on Friday at a ceremony awarding 18 people – religious and lay – diplomas for completing a specialization course in safeguarding minors. Even though the Catholic Church has all the necessary norms and laws in place to safeguard minors from abuse by clergy, the problem continues to be a lack of understanding or care about those rules and guidelines and applying them effectively, he said.” By Megan Cornwell, Catholic News Service, in The Tablet


Pope Francis says he meets almost weekly with abuse victims
“Pope Francis revealed in a meeting with confreres of his Jesuit order last month that he meets with survivors of sexual abuse on a nearly weekly basis, according to a newly released transcript of the encounter. In a Jan. 19 question and answer session during his visit to Peru, the text of which was published for the first time Feb. 15 by Italian Jesuit magazine La Civiltà Cattolica, the pope said the Catholic Church must hear from those who have been abused by clergy.” By Joshua J. McElwee, National Catholic Reporter

Looking back: the election of Pope Francis
“Here’s something you may not hear a Jesuit say very often: I had no clue. On March 13, 2013, white smoke suddenly started pouring out of the chimney of the Sistine Chapel in Vatican City, indicating that a new pope had been elected—and more quickly than most people expected.” By James Martin, S.J., America: The Jesuit Review

La Civilta Cattolica editor describes pope’s ‘diplomacy of mercy’
“Jesuit Father Antonio Spadaro, editor of the influential Rome-based magazine La Civilta Cattolica and a close associate of Pope Francis, outlined the pope’s ‘diplomacy of mercy’ that he has used with both political leaders and their citizens throughout his papacy during a Feb. 13 talk at Georgetown University. Francis, according to Spadaro , spoke of his diplomatic aims during his 2016 World Communications Day message: ‘Our political and diplomatic language would do well to be inspired by mercy, which never loses hope.’” By Mark Pattison, Catholic News Service, in National Catholic Reporter

Five years in, pope praised for outreach, criticized for abuse response
“Pope Francis received glowing reviews for his pastoral outreach and his public engagement of the Church in the modern world from a panel of Catholic experts convened at Georgetown University on Tuesday (Feb. 13) to review the last five years since his election – but they warned that it all risks being lost if he does not effectively respond to the question of sexual abuse within the Church.” By Christopher White, National Catholic Reporter

In abuse scandal, Pope stakes his case on evidence, not authority
“In many ways, it’s surprising that Pope Francis’s spontaneous, shoot from the hip style of public speech hasn’t gotten him into serious trouble long before now. There have been mini-fracases along the way … Now, however, the romance appears to be in crisis, amid intense criticism currently swirling around the pope’s statement on his return flight from a trip to Chile and Peru …” By John L. Allen, Jr., Cruxnow.com


Pope Francis’ sexual abuse commission, hit by resignations and criticism, gets a reboot
“Last week (Feb. 17) Pope Francis announced he was reviving a panel he created to advise the Vatican on how to handle sexual abuse by clergy. The issue has dogged the Roman Catholic Church in recent years, and critics have accused Francis and his two predecessors, John Paul II and Benedict XVI, of failing to aggressively weed out and punish predator priests. Here’s a look what drove the panel’s creation and what to expect in the future.” By Tom Kington, Los Angeles Times

Pope’s decision on child sex-abuse commission members criticized
“Dublin abuse survivor Marie Collins has criticized a decision by Pope Francis not to reappoint ‘some of the most hard-working, independent, and active members’ of the outgoing Vatican Commission for the Protection of Minors to the new commission announced at the weekend (Feb. 17). The former commission ended its term of office in December. Ms. Collins resigned from it last March after serving ‘three difficult years,’ due to frustration with some officials in the Roman curia, particularly at the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.” By Patsy McGarry, The Irish Times

Quiet progress of pope’s anti-abuse commission a hard sell
“Perhaps that insight helps explain why the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, the body established by Pope Francis in 2014 to advise him on policies to combat sexual abuse, has long struggled to tell its story to the world – against the backdrop of spectacular failures and noisy controversy on the Church’s anti-sex abuse front, steady lower-level success doesn’t quite cut through the noise.” By John L. Allen, Jr., Cruxnow.com


Audit critical of five Catholic male congregations on child protection
“Sixteen out of 135 Catholic congregations in Ireland had ‘unsatisfactory’ child protection procedures in place to the end of 2015, according to an audit by Tusla, the child and family agency. The audit found ‘a clear shift in attitudes and culture’ within the congregation and deemed safeguarding procedures in 29 congregations to be ‘excellent’ and said they were ‘satisfactory’ in 43 others.” By Patsy McGarry, The Irish Times

Vatican special envoy hears sex abuse victim testimony in Chile
“The Vatican’s top sexual abuse investigator said he had started taking testimony on Tuesday (Feb. 20) from victims in the Chilean capital, where he is looking into accusations that a bishop appointed by Pope Francis covered up crimes against minors. Archbishop Charles Scicluna of Malta was sent to Chile after the pope was criticized during his visit last month for defending Bishop Juan Barros, who he appointed in 2015 despite accusations he had covered up sexual abuse of minors.” By Cassandra Garrison, Reuters, in U.S. News & World Report


Curial reform as a matter of pastoral concern
“Reform of the Vatican Curia aims to emphasize pastoral care, and should not be seen as a reform that will overturn the whole Curia, a bishop involved in Rome’s Curia reform process has explained. Bishop Marcello Semeraro is the secretary of Pope Francis’ Council of Cardinals, appointed to assist the Pope in the government of the Church and to tailor a Curia reform. In a recent article for the Italian Catholic magazine Il Regno, Bishop Semeraro explained how the reform is being carried forward, and the rationale behind it.” By Andrea Gagliarducci, The Pilot


47 bishops to take part in theology seminars on ‘Amoris Laetitia’
“Forty-seven Catholic bishops from across the U.S. will take part in a series of daylong seminars in mid-February aimed at helping them better understand and implement Pope Francis’ 2016 apostolic exhortation on family life, Amoris Laetitia. The seminars will be led by a team of seven theologians and several bishops and held on separate days at Boston College, the University of Notre Dame and Santa Clara University. Among the speakers: Cardinal Donald Wuerl of Washington, D.C.; Cardinal Blase Cupich of Chicago; Cardinal Joseph Tobin of Newark, New Jersey; and Bishop Robert McElroy of San Diego.” By Joshua J. McElwee, National Catholic Reporter

Cupich says ‘Amoris Laetitia’ changes how church teaches families, by learning
“Pope Francis is calling the global Catholic Church to make ‘an enormous change of approach’ in how it relates to families and to renounce heavy-handed ways of implementing doctrine, recognize that teachings can develop over time, and better respect the insights of laypeople, said Chicago Cardinal Blase Cupich. In a speech at the University of Cambridge in the United Kingdom Feb. 9, the cardinal reflected on the pope’s 2016 apostolic exhortation Amoris Laetitia, calling aspects of it ‘nothing short of revolutionary.’ Cupich also said that some critics ‘misinterpret and misunderstand’ the document by not considering it in light of the new and various struggles facing families today.” By Joshua J. McElwee, National Catholic Reporter


Church doctrine must be life-giving, not oppressive
“‘One of the more daunting challenges facing the Church today comes from many young adults, in particular, for whom the idea of adhering to a normative religious tradition appears both unnecessary and irrelevant to their lives. The Church needs to offer an account of its tradition that makes evident the authentic human flourishing that tradition makes possible while affirming the value of questioning, doubt and disagreement.’ Richard Gaillardetz, Joseph Professor of Catholic Systematic Theology at Boston College, interviewed by Charles Comosy for Crux.” By Charles Camosy, Cruxnow.com

Catholic Church’s misconceived wealth and power, and its growing weakness
“The Catholic Church is a wealthy institution, but Archbishop Anthony Fisher is right that to compare its type of wealth to that of Westfield or Wesfarmers is crude and simplistic. Nevertheless, that wealth, however calculated, stands in stark contrast to the resistance and mean-spiritedness that, it has now been demonstrated beyond reasonable doubt, has characterized its leaders’ treatment of those who were sexually abused while in the church’s care.” By John Warhurst, The Sydney Morning Herald


Catholic Church (in Australia) national wealth estimated to be $30 billion
“There are calls for the Catholic Church’s tax-free status to be reviewed after a Fairfax investigation revealing the extent of property, assets and investments owned by the church in Australia. Fairfax’s six-month investigation found the Catholic Church was worth more than $9 billion in Victoria alone. The investigation extrapolated that figure to estimate the church’s national wealth at $30 billion.” By Emily Bourke, ABC News Australia


Effort to extend Colorado’s statute of limitations for failure to report child abuse fails after opposition from Catholic Church, teachers’ group
“An effort to extend Colorado’s statute of limitations for the crime of failing to report child abuse died in a Senate panel Wednesday (Feb. 14) following opposition from a teacher’s organization and the Catholic Church … The legislation would have changed the start of the statute of limitations for failing to report child abuse — a Class 3 misdemeanor — from 18 months to five years. It would have specifically applied to so-called mandatory reporters, people who are legally bound, such as a doctor or school officials, to report abuse to authorities when they are told about or discover it.” By Jesse Paul, Denver Post


Catholic aid agencies pledge ‘zero tolerance’ as sex scandal grows
“Catholic international aid charities have pledged zero-tolerance for sexual exploitation by their employees, as a sex abuse scandal affecting one of Britain’s largest charities is now latching onto U.N. aid agencies. Andrew MacLeod, the former Chief of Operations of the UN Emergency Coordination Center for the 2005 Kashmir earthquake, estimated in The Sun – a British tabloid – that tens of thousands of people have been raped by UN employees, and the international body employs at least 3,000 pedophiles.” By Charles Collins, Cruxnow.com

Chile sex abuse victim’s credibility praised, challenged
“When a Vatican court convicted a Chilean predator priest of sex crimes, it went out of its way to affirm the credibility of his victims. Their testimony had been consistent and corroborated, while their motives in coming forward had been only to ‘free themselves of a weight that had tormented their consciences,’ the tribunal said. One key witness in the Rev. Fernando Karadima’s 2010 trial is preparing to testify again, this time in a spinoff case with potentially more significant consequences. Juan Carlos Cruz’s allegations of a cover-up raise questions about Pope Francis’ already shaky track record on preventing clergy sex abuse and concealment.” By Nicole Winfield and Eva Vergara, Associated Press

The “Guardian” view on the Catholic Church and child abuse: Pope Francis Gets is Wrong
“It is five years since Pope Benedict XVI stunned the Roman Catholic world by announcing he would resign … His successor, Pope Francis, seemed as if he were going to change all that as part of the openness, energy and realism that has characterized his approach. But developments in recent weeks have cast Francis’s sincerity and seriousness into question and threaten to overshadow many of the other accomplishments of his papacy.” Editorial by The Guardian


Details emerge of alleged sexual misconduct by priest who served in, around Modesto
“A Catholic priest who served in Modesto and throughout Stanislaus County nearly two decades ago is under criminal investigation, suspected of sexual misconduct with a child. The alleged incident in 1999 involved a 15-year-old girl who was a member of St. Stanislaus Catholic Church, according to Heather Graves, spokesperson for the Modesto Police Department.” By Brian Clark, Modesto Bee

Former Los Banos priest sentenced in child porn case
“The ex-priest of a Los Banos Catholic church who pleaded no contest to possessing child pornography for the second time in two years was sentenced to four years in state prison on Thursday (Feb. 8). Robert Gamel, 67, was sentenced in Merced County Superior Court by Judge Jeanne E. Schechter. He’ll also be required to register as a sex offender.” By Thaddeus Miller, Merced Sun-Star

Presentation High: 20 students, alums now allege sex abuse involving eight teachers, staff
“The number of women claiming they were sexually abused as students at a prestigious San Jose Catholic girls high school has swelled to 20 while the number of accused staff has grown to eight. The mounting accusations surfaced as nearly 5,000 former students and their supporters have signed a petition demanding an independent investigation of how the administration handled reported abuse.” By John Woolfolk, the Mercury News


Priest sex abuse settlement stirs old aches for local man
(Feb. 10, 2018) “John Waddington felt the blood drain from his face when his girlfriend called him last month to say a former altar boy at Sacred Heart Church in Groton who was molested by a priest in the late 1970s and early 1980s received a $900,000 settlement from Catholic church officials … The news of Andrew Aspinwall’s settlement brought Waddington back to the day in 1978 when he, a 14-year-old altar boy at Sacred Heart, was sexually assaulted by former priest Charles Many. Same church, same priest, same time period.” By Karen Florin, The Day


John Sarro, former Delaware priest accused of child rape, pleads not guilty
“John Sarro, a former priest with the Catholic Diocese of Wilmington, on Friday (Feb. 9) pleaded not guilty to charges that he raped a pre-teen girl in the ’90s. Sarro, 76, is charged with first-degree unlawful sexual intercourse and second-degree unlawful sexual contact.” By Xerxes Wilson, The News Journal


This is how Boise’s Catholic diocese investigates sexual abuse allegations
“Until his recent arrest, Catholic Church officials say they didn’t investigate any complaints about the Rev. W. Thomas Faucher because they had none. If the Roman Catholic Diocese of Boise had been aware of allegations of sexual misconduct against 72-year-old Faucher before his arrest, it would have followed existing policy, officials said … The diocese’s 63-page policy is readily available and easily accessible. But it’s unclear how often the diocese investigates complaints of sexual misconduct, because investigations are not public record.” By Ruth Brown, Idaho Statesman

Retired Idaho priest charged with sex exploitation of child, child porn
“The arrest of a retired Boise Catholic priest on multiple charges of sexual exploitation of a child, distribution of child pornography and drug possession has shocked Catholics in the statewide Diocese of Boise. ‘When I first heard of these allegations, I was absolutely stunned,’ Boise Bishop Peter Christensen said in a statement Feb. 6. He said that ‘there are no excuses’ for the behavior described in the charges.” By Catholic News Service in National Catholic Reporter


Fr. McGrath porn allegations spark lots of reactions
“Last Friday (Feb. 16), New Lenox Police revealed that they were not filing criminal charges against the Augustinian Catholic priest (Fr. Richard McGrath) because they had insufficient evidence to charge him. Police did say the 71-year-old Catholic priest was uncooperative; he refused to hand over his Providence High School-issued cell phone to New Lenox Police or to Providence.” By John Ferak, New Lenox Patch

Former priest charged with sexual abuse pleads to battery
“A former Catholic priest in suburban Chicago who was charged with sexually abusing two girls is likely returning to his native Colombia soon after pleading guilty to misdemeanor battery. The Kane County State’s Attorney’s office says it agreed to the plea deal Friday (Feb. 9) after prosecutors analyzed evidence, communicated with the victims’ families and received assurances that Alfredo Pedraza-Arias will be ‘removed from the United States.’” By NBC News Chicago


Lawsuit claiming Montana priest sex abuse can proceed
“A U.S. judge has granted a request for lawsuits to proceed in Montana state court that were filed by two people who claim they were sexually abused as children by a Roman Catholic priest in the small southern town of Absarokee in the 1970s and 1980s. Monday’s (Feb. 12) order by U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Jim Papas said the parties were not making progress in settlement negotiations, the Great Falls Tribune reported.” By Associated Press


Suit alleges Las Cruces diocese aided priest charged with sexual battery
“A former Hobbs resident allegedly sexually abused by a former Las Cruces priest is suing the priest and the Catholic Diocese of Las Cruces over allegations that church officials facilitated the priest’s abuses and helped him flee the state. The man’s allegations were detailed in a lawsuit filed Monday (Feb. 12) in 3rd Judicial District Court in Las Cruces.” By Carlos Andres Lopez, Las Cruces Sun-news


Abuse survivor: why I won’t seek reparations from Syracuse diocese
“I recently reviewed the Independent Reconciliation and Compensation Commission procedures posted on the website for the Syracuse Catholic Diocese. I myself, as a survivor of priest sexual abuse, received a letter Feb. 17 that states I ‘may’ qualify to submit a claim … Based upon my initial review, it appears this commission will not be part of my path forward. I will press onward in hopes the New York Child Victims Act passes.” By Kevin Braney, Syracuse.com

Diocese again pushes back deadline to file clergy sexual abuse claims
“The second phase of the Diocese of Rockville Centre’s Independent Reconciliation and Compensation Program has begun, and will allow more survivors of sexual abuse by clergy members to seek financial compensation. Victims who had previously notified the diocese that they had suffered abuse by a member of the clergy were invited to participate in Phase One of the program. Phase Two was set up to allow those who had never reported abuse to apply. To receive monetary compensation, victims must agree that they will not pursue legal action against the church in the future.” By Ben Strack, Long Island Herald

New settlement program for sex abuse victims
“The Diocese of Syracuse, which includes Broome, Chenango and Cortland counties—is establishing a settlement program for victims of clergy sexual abuse spanning decades, Bishop Robert Joseph Cunningham announced Wednesday (Feb. 14). More than 70 people will receive letters informing them of the possibility of settling, Cunningham said. Those cases relate to about 40 priests, none of whom is still serving in the Diocese, and many of whom are no longer alive.” By Hannah Schwarz, Syracuse Press Connects


Accused priest extradited from Philippines pleads not guilty
“A Roman Catholic priest accused of molesting two boys in North Dakota in the 1990s has pleaded not guilty. Fernando Sayasaya was recently returned to the United States from the Philippines, where he had been since 1998. He entered his pleas Thursday (Feb. 15) to two counts of felony gross sexual imposition. Prosecutors allege that Sayasaya abused two underage siblings from 1995 to 1998, while he was assigned to the Blessed Sacrament Catholic Church and St. Mary’s Cathedral in the Fargo area.” By The Associated Press in U.S. News & World Report


Two Diocese of Erie priests removed from ministry, prohibited from contact with minors
“Two Diocese of Erie priests have been removed from ministry — one for alleged sexual abuse and the other for inappropriate contact with minors. Father David Poulson, 64, pastor of St. Anthony of Padua Parish, Cambridge Springs, and Father Sean Kerins, 27, chaplain at Kennedy Catholic High School, Hermitage, have been prohibited from any public ministry, as well as from any contact with minors.” By Erie News Now


Cardinal George Pell case back in court
“Cardinal George Pell’s lawyers have been denied access to further complainants’ medical records as they prepare his defense against historical sexual offense charges. Pell, the highest-ranking Catholic official to be charged with sexual abuse, was not in Melbourne Magistrates Court on Wednesday (Feb. 20) for a brief administrative update centered on requests for a variety of documents.” By Australian Associated Press on 9news.com.au

Australian cardinal blames inquiry for sex allegations
“Lawyers for Cardinal George Pell, the most senior Catholic cleric to face sex charges, told an Australian court on Wednesday (Feb. 14) that the allegations stemmed from publicity surrounding a national inquiry into child abuse three years ago. Pope Francis’ former finance minister was charged last year with offenses involving multiple complainants in his native Australia. The exact details and nature of the charges have not been disclosed to the public, though police have described them as ‘historical’ sexual assaults, meaning they are alleged to have occurred decades ago.” By The Associated Press

Former Port Pirie Catholic Church priest faces in court three boys he abused more than three decades ago
“A judge urged a former South Australian priest who used his power, influence and authority to sexually abuse teenage boys more than three decades ago to address his apology to his victims. Charles Alfred Barnett, 72, appeared in the District Court on Monday (Feb. 19) ahead of sentencing next month after admitting the persistent sexual exploitation of one boy, and indecent assault of two others.” By Meagan Dillon, The Advertiser

Cardinal Pell’s lawyers want access to his accusers’ medical records
“Cardinal George Pell’s lawyers want access to the medical records of people who have accused him of sexual offenses, denying it is ‘a fishing expedition.’ Prosecutors oppose the defense application for access to the complainants’ treatment information. The crown Prosecutor Mark Gibson SC said there was no substantial probative value in the material being provided.” By Australian Associated Press in The Guardian

Australian bishops dedicate start of Lent to abuse victims
“The bishops of Australia have called on the faithful of the country to begin the season of Lent with four days of fasting and reparation for victims of sexual abuse within the Church. One suggested prayer for the penitential period asks God: ‘May all those who have been abused physically, emotionally and sexually by your ministers be respected and accompanied by tangible gestures of justice and reparation so that they may feel healed with the balm of your compassion.’” By Catholic News Agency

Survivors respond to Ballarat Diocese meeting abuse compensation
“Clergy abuse survivors are pushing for a more comprehensive redress model as the Catholic Diocese of Ballarat reveals it is confident in being in a financial position to meet all compensation claims. The Ballarat Diocese has paid more than $4.9 million in compensation to survivors of child sexual abuse and more than $1 million in pastoral support to abuse survivors so far.” By Rochelle Kirkham and Siobhan Calafiore

Royal Commission has been a major crisis for the Catholic Church leadership
“In a recent interview Francis Sullivan, chief executive of the Catholic Church’s Truth, Justice and Healing Council, claimed that the recent Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse was ‘two years too long and 20 years too late.’ Too long because in the end it suffered from both media and church fatigue; too late because many of the culprits were ‘either dead or demented.’ With the tabling of the final report in December, the question remains just what impact the work of the commission in uncovering high levels of clergy sexual abuse and subsequent cover-up has had on Catholics, particularly those ‘in the pews.’” By Meil Ormerod, The Canberra Times

Important to confront the dark secrets of child abuse
“Like in so many other nations, children in Australia have suffered at the hands of men in positions of moral, educational and administrative authority, subjected to systemic sexual, emotional and physical abuse by dark figures in the Roman Catholic church and its hierarchy.” By Editorial Staff, Gulf News
Timeline of institutional child sex abuse cases, By Gulf News


Victims of sexual abuse committed by Brothers of Sacred Heart at College Mont Sacre-Coeur
“Kugler Kandestin (law firm) files a class action seeking compensatory damages, as well as punitive and exemplary damages of $15 million. The class action seeks to enable access to justice to numerous people who were victims of sexual abuse during their childhood by religious members of the Brothers of Sacred Heart associated with Collège Mont-Sacré-Coeur in Granby. The class action alleges that the reprehensible and unacceptable sexual abuse was perpetrated systematically for several decades by at least 18 religious Brothers.” By KuglerKandestin, kklex.com

Canadian Catholic diocese in bitter row with insurers over predator priest payouts
“A Canadian Catholic diocese is locked into a bitter struggle with its insurers over responsibility for historic sexual abuse cases. The Diocese of London, Ontario, is suing AXA Insurance after it said it wanted the repayment of $10 million paid to the diocese so it could settle claims brought against it by victims of predatory priests.” By Christian Today


Vatican expert to meet delegation in Chile bishop dispute
“The Vatican’s sex abuse investigator has agreed to meet with a delegation of lay Catholics and priests from the Chilean diocese of Osorno who have opposed the appointment of a bishop strongly backed by Pope Francis, according to an email seen Monday (Feb. 12) by The Associated Press. The Vatican’s embassy in Santiago set the meeting for Feb. 21 in Santiago and asked the Osorno group to select no more than five people to meet with the investigator, Maltese Archbishop Charles Scicluna.” By The Associated Press in Statesman

Chile sex-abuse victim: ‘Vatican investigation must be fair’
“A Chilean victim of clerical sexual abuse who is the key witness in the case of a bishop accused of covering it up says a Vatican investigation must be rigorous and fair if the church is to salvage its reputation on the issue. In a telephone interview with Reuters from his home in the United States on Thursday, Juan Carlos Cruz said Pope Francis had “set the clock back years and years” with his recent comments casting doubt on the credibility of victims of abuse.” By TelesurTV.net


Accused priest seeks $5 million in damages
“An accused former priest has denied all allegations of sexual abuse of a child decades ago, and made a counterclaim seeking $5 million in damages for the ‘false accusations’ filed against him. Joe R. San Agustin, also known as Andrew San Agustin, filed an answer to a civil complaint filed against him by a Saipan woman who alleged the priest sexually abused her during a trip to Guam when she was 12.” By Mindy Aguon, The Guam Daily Post

60-year-old claims sexual abuse by priests
“Another clergy sexual abuse lawsuit has been filed in the Superior Court of Guam. Only identified by his initials to protect his privacy, 60-year-old A.B.L. alleges he was raped up to nine times by former Guam priest, Father Louis Brouillard. The rapes occurred during sleepovers at the Barrigada church when he was about 14-years-old.” By Krystal Paco, KUAM-TV

Catholics urging for publication of Apuron’s verdict
“Guam Catholics want answers. The recent sighting of Guam’s suspended Archbishop Anthony Apuron in Rome is concerning for the Faithful who continue to wait for a verdict on Apuron’s canonical trial. Concerned Catholics of Guam President David Sablan tells KUAM, ‘Since he is in Rome, he more than likely was informed.’ Sablan urges the Tribunal to publicly release the verdict.” By Krystal Paco, KUAM-TV

Judge grants clergy abuse plaintiffs two more months to serve papers
“U.S. District Court Chief Judge Frances Tydingco-Gatewood granted seven clergy sex-abuse accusers up to early April to serve legal documents to three defendants in their lawsuits. This includes the Capuchin Franciscans and the Congregation of Holy Cross, which are both in Italy, and former Saint Anthony Catholic School teacher Ray Caluag in the Philippines.” By Haidee Eugenio, Pacific Daily News

‘I wanted to see you before dying’
“While suspended Archbishop Anthony Apuron hasn’t returned to Guam since he was accused of sexually abusing several altar boys and his own nephew, Apuron recently found a way to meet the pope in the Vatican, according to images from the Vatican’s official media. The more than 50 Sundays of marches by Guam’s Catholics to call for Apuron to be stripped of his title and leadership role also didn’t keep the pope from meeting Apuron on Wednesday (Feb. 7).” By Mindy Aguon, Guam Daily Post


Five religious orders criticized for ‘significant’ child safeguarding weaknesses
“Five Catholic religious orders have been criticized by a Tusla audit for their ‘significant (child) safeguarding weaknesses.’ The agency’s report on the response to child sexual abuse by 135 orders has censured the Christian Brothers, De La Salle Brothers, the Irish Norbertines, the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart and the Holy Spirit Congregation.” By Joe Little, RTE News

Bishop expresses regret for saying abuse priest’s funeral Mass in 2002
“Catholic Bishop of Dromore John McAreavey has apologized for saying the funeral Mass in 2002 for abuser priest Fr. Malachy Finnegan, a former president of St Colman’s College in Newry, Co. Down. The board of governors at St Colman’s have ordered that Fr Finnegan’s image be removed from all photographs on display in the college. It followed a settlement made by the diocese of Dromore last October in a case involving the priest.” By Patsy McGarry, The Irish Times


‘Archangel’ charged with sex abuse freed from pre-trial detention
“After six months in a Sicilian prison, the leader of a lay Catholic association charged with having sexually abused at least six underage girls has been released and allowed to await trial under house arrest. In previous reporting, Crux has followed the story of Piero Alfio Capuana, a banker turner charismatic religious leader of the ‘Catholic Culture and Environment Association,’ or ACCA, a lay association not officially recognized by the Church, that counted more than 5,000 members in the highly devout Sicilian inland near Catania.” By Claire Giangrave, Cruxnow.com


Priest accused of sexually abusing a 12-year-old child in Mexico City
“A 58-year-old priest was arrested and placed at the disposal of the Central Prosecutor’s Office for the Investigation of Sexual Offenses accused of sexual abuse against a 12 year-old child. The Attorney General’s Office of Mexico City reported that, according to the first investigations, on February 14 at 7:00 p.m., the mother of the victim left the child in a temple to study the catechism. The church was located in the Buenos Aires neighborhood in the Cuauhtémoc delegation, downtown Mexico City.” By Yucatan Times


Former Catholic brother jailed for 33 years for abusing boys in his care
“A Christchurch victim of Catholic brother Bernard McGrath feels relieved the former brother will spend the next 20 years in jail. McGrath, 70, was on Friday (Feb. 16) jailed for 33 years by a court in Sydney on 64 offences against 12 boys. The offending occurred at the St John of God order’s Kendall Grange home in Morisset, north of Sydney, between 1978 and 1985.” By Martin Van Beynen, Stuff.co.nz