Voice of the Faithful Focus, Jan. 11, 2019


Where do the biggest Vatican stories of 2018 stand now?
“This week before Inside the Vatican goes on break, we are giving you a round-up of this year’s top Vatican news—and digging into the questions that remain about these stories going into the new year. We examine whether Pope Francis’ document on holiness ‘Gaudete et Exsultate’ has had an impact beyond its short appearance in the news cycle. We also look at the open questions from this year’s sexual abuse scandals in both the United States in Chile—and ask when those questions might finally be answered.” By Colleen Dulle, America: The Jesuit Review

More than 500 priests accused of sexual abuse not yet publicly identified by Catholic Church, Illinois attorney general finds
“A scathing report from Attorney General Lisa Madigan finds the number of Catholic priests accused of sexual abuse against children in Illinois is much higher than previously acknowledged. The report said accusations have been leveled against 690 priests, while Catholic officials have publicly identified only 185 clergy with credible allegations against them …The report says Illinois dioceses “have lost sight of both a key tenet” of policies laid out by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops as well as ‘the most obvious human need as a result of these abhorrent acts of abuse: the healing and reconciliation of survivors.’” By Elvia Lalagon, Chicago Tribune

U.S. Jesuit provinces release names of priests accused of abuse
All U.S.-based provinces of the Society of Jesus are releasing the names of clerics they say are credibly accused of child sex abuse, joining other Catholic institutions that are embracing increased transparency as they rush to respond to the resurgence of the Catholic sex abuse crisis. The revelations are seen as an important step by the Society of Jesus, which claims more than 16,000 members worldwide, including the pope. Although it does not represent the whole of Catholicism, the group is deeply influential both inside and outside the church …” By Jack Jenkins, Religion News Service, in America: The Jesuit Review

A reckoning is underway in U.S. Catholic Church
“Over the past four months, Roman Catholic dioceses across the U.S. have released the names of more than 1,000 priests and others accused of sexually abusing children in an unprecedented public reckoning spurred at least in part by a shocking grand jury investigation in Pennsylvania, an Associated Press review has found. Nearly 50 dioceses and religious orders have publicly identified child-molesting priests in the wake of the Pennsylvania report issued in mid-August, and 55 more have announced plans to do the same over the next few months, the AP found. Together they account for more than half of the nation’s 187 dioceses.” By Claudia Lauer, The Associated Press

Catholic cardinal on trial in France’s biggest church sex abuse trial
“A Catholic cardinal and five other people went on trial Monday (Jan. 7) accused of covering up for a pedophile priest who abused Boy Scouts — France’s most important church sex abuse case to date. The case poses a new challenge to the Vatican, amid growing demands in overwhelmingly Catholic France for a reckoning with decades of sexual abuse by the clergy.” By Nicholas Vaux-Montagny, The Associated Press, in The Salt Lake Tribune

Pope Francis accepts the resignation of L.A. auxiliary bishop accused of abuse
“Pope Francis has accepted the resignation of the Auxiliary Bishop Alexander Salazar of the archdiocese of Los Angeles, after an allegation of his misconduct with a minor in the 1990s was deemed credible by the archdiocese’s independent Clergy Misconduct Oversight Board. Pope Francis’ decision to accept the resignation is in line with his zero-tolerance policy in cases of abuse.” By Gerard O’Connell, America: The Jesuit Review

Catholic bishops told to act on sex abuse or lose all credibility
“The Roman Catholic Church’s leading experts on sexual abuse told bishops on Tuesday (Dec. 18) finally to take responsibility for a global clerical abuse scandal and go and speak personally to victims, or risk seeing the Church lose its credibility worldwide. Pope Francis has summoned the heads of some 110 national Catholic bishops’ conferences and dozens of experts and leaders of religious orders to the Vatican on Feb. 21-24 for an extraordinary gathering dedicated to the sexual abuse crisis.” By Philip Pullella, Reuters

Long history of nuns abused by priests in India
“The nuns talk of Catholic priests who pushed into their bedrooms and of priests who pressured them to turn close friendships into sex. Across India, they talk about being groped and kissed, of hands pressed against them by men they were raised to believe were representatives of Jesus Christ. At its most grim, nuns speak of repeated rapes, and of a Catholic hierarchy that did little to protect them.” By Tim Sullivan, Associated Press, in The Seattle Times


Sex abuse crisis: what dioceses have released names (so far)?
“Over the past four months, Roman Catholic dioceses across the U.S. have released the names of more than 1,000 priests and others accused of sexually abusing children in an unprecedented public reckoning spurred at least in part by a shocking grand jury investigation in Pennsylvania, an Associated Press review has found. Nearly 50 dioceses and religious orders have publicly identified child-molesting priests in the wake of the Pennsylvania report issued in mid-August, and 55 more have announced plans to do the same over the next few months, the AP found. Together they account for more than half of the nation’s 187 dioceses.” By Claudia Lauer, Associated Press, in America: The Jesuit Review

Head of BishopAccountability site sends ‘to do’ list in letter to Cupich
I am writing to you about the upcoming summit in Rome. One of your colleagues in planning the event, Cardinal Oswaldo Gracias, says that I should be worried, and I am … But while I write you this letter, you and your brother bishops are beginning a retreat at Mundelein led by Fr. Raniero Cantalamessa, O.F.M. Cap., the Preacher to the Papal Household. This is the same Cantalamessa who once compared criticism of clergy abuse in the Church to ‘the more shameful aspects of anti-Semitism.’ Survivors of clergy abuse are the retreat masters you need now.” By Terance McKiernan, National Catholic Reporter

45 states looking to pursue Catholic church for documents on abuse by priests, Pennsylvania attorney general says
“Law enforcement officials from up to 45 states have sought assistance from Pennsylvania authorities in pursuit of alleged misconduct by Catholic priests and related efforts to conceal that abuse by the church, Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro said. Shapiro, in an interview with USA TODAY, said the surge of outside inquiries has come just in the past four months since a landmark state grand jury investigation found that more than 300 ‘predator’ priests had abused at least 1,000 victims across six decades.” By Kevin Johnson, USA TODAY

Nashville deacon removed from ministry for speaking out about sex abuse
“A Nashville deacon who has raised questions about the completeness of the diocese’s recently published list of priests accused of sexual abuse has been removed from ministry for ‘carrying on a public disagreement with the Diocese,’ according to a letter from his pastor. In the wake of the Pennsylvania grand jury report, more and more dioceses are moving to publish such lists, raising questions about who is — and is not — on them. Deacon Ron Deal first raised concerns in October, after an email to priests and deacons indicated the list would contain only nine names.” By Heidi Schlumpf, National Catholic Reporter


The No. 3 ranking official in the Catholic Church has been convicted of sex abuse. Where is the reckoning?
“Cardinal George Pell was, as Vatican treasurer, one of the Catholic Church’s most powerful figures and a senior counselor to Pope Francis, until Mr. Pell was placed on a leave of absence last year (2017). Last week (Dec. 12, 2018), he was convicted in an Australian court on what were referred to there as ‘historical’ sex abuse charges. That locution seemed to diminish the events themselves, which, as a unanimous jury found, occurred decades ago. Yet the crucible of clergy sex abuse remains a thoroughly contemporary blight for the church, for the Vatican and for Francis, whose papacy, already blemished by his flailing and shuffling on the issue, hangs in the balance.” By The Washington Post Editorial Board

With his treatment of Cardinal Pell, Pope Francis shows his clericalism
“About two weeks into his pontificate in March 2013, Pope Francis uttered a phrase that would quickly become one of his greatest hits in his canon of quotes: ‘This I ask you: be shepherds, with the ‘odor of the sheep.’’ Francis spoke those words to thousands of clerics who had gathered at the Vatican for the annual chrism Mass, a liturgy traditionally held on the morning of Holy Thursday that celebrates the holiness of the priesthood. The phrase became a common refrain for any progressive Catholic testifying to the promise of Francis’ pontificate.” By Jamie Manson, National Catholic Reporter

Australian court convicts once-powerful Vatican official on sex-abuse-related charges
“Cardinal George Pell has been found guilty in Australia of charges related to sexual abuse, according to two people familiar with the case and other media reports, becoming the highest-ranking Vatican official to face such a conviction. The conviction provides one of the clearest examples of how the sexual abuse scandal has eroded the church’s credibility while ensnaring figures in the upper echelons of power. Pell, who has categorically declared his innocence, had taken a leave of absence from the Vatican’s third- most-powerful position, as the economy minister, to fight the charges.” By Chico Harlan, The Washington Post


How is the Vatican preparing for the sex abuse summit?
“As 2019 begins, all eyes in the Vatican are turned toward the upcoming summit on sexual abuse, and recent weeks have brought a number of stories that reveal how Pope Francis aims to lead the church on this issue. First, the Vatican confirmed this past weekend that it is investigating a third accusation of abuse against Archbishop Theodore McCarrick. On ‘Inside the Vatican’ this week, Gerry O’Connell and I look at how—and why—the Vatican is expediting that investigation. Next, we examine the U.S. bishops’ retreat, which they held at the behest of Pope Francis.” By Colleen Dulle, America: The Jesuit Review

Vatican summit on sex abuse should discuss holding bishops accountable, expert says
“A member of the committee organizing Pope Francis’ February summit on the sexual abuse crisis said the meeting should include discussing ways to hold bishops accountable for handling cases correctly. Addressing members of the Roman Curia before Christmas, Pope Francis said the meeting Feb. 21-24 of the presidents of the world’s bishops’ conferences, the heads of the Eastern Catholic churches and leaders of religious orders will reaffirm the church’s ‘firm resolve to pursue unstintingly a path of purification.’ By Cindy Wooden, Catholic News Service, in America: The Jesuit Review

Pope Francis asks top bishops to meet with sex abuse victims before Vatican summit
“Pope Francis wants the presidents of the Catholics bishops’ conferences in every country to personally meet with victims of sexual abuse by clergy and religious before coming to a meeting at the Vatican on the protection of minors in the church in February. The request came in a letter to top bishops and other participants from the steering committee set up by Pope Francis earlier this month to coordinate and prepare for the Feb. 21 to 24 summit. Even though the letter does not say so explicitly, America has learned that Pope Francis personally approved the request, which was suggested by the committee.” By Gerard O’Connell, America: The Jesuit Review


As U.S. bishops meet, Vatican may be deciding McCarrick’s fate
“As U.S. bishops gathered in early January at a seminary in Illinois to pray and reflect about the American church’s sex abuse crisis, reports trickled out about the possible fate of one their own being decided overseas. The Wall Street Journal newspaper reported Jan. 5 that a decision on whether to laicize former U.S. Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, who’s facing accusations that he sexually abused minors, could come as soon as mid-January because Vatican officials don’t want the decision to overshadow a gathering the pope has called for, seeking to meet Feb. 21-24 with prelates from around the world about protecting minors.” By Rhina Guidos, Catholic News Agency

Analysis: The non-trial of Theodore McCarrick
“While recent media reports suggest that a trial of Archbishop Theodore McCarrick is underway, Vatican sources have told CNA that his case is not being handled by a full judicial process. Sources at the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith have confirmed that allegations against McCarrick are being considered through an abbreviated approach called an ‘administrative penal process.’” By Ed Condon, Catholic News Agency

The Vatican’s investigation into Theodore McCarrick’s alleged crimes is underway
“The Vatican has begun its long-promised investigation into the crimes allegedly committed by disgraced ex-cardinal Theodore McCarrick, with the intent of determining a punishment for the former high-ranking church leader. McCarrick, who retired as archbishop of Washington in 2006 but remained a globe-trotting diplomat representing the Catholic Church and occasionally the U.S. State Department, was removed from ministry when the church determined in June that he had groped a teenager at a New York church almost 50 years ago.” By Julie Zauzmer and Chico Harlan, The Washington Post

Man who says McCarrick abused him for years speaks after Vatican testimony
“A Virginia man who says ex-Cardinal Theodore McCarrick abused him for years starting when he was an 11-year-old boy is showing his face for the first time since testifying to the Vatican. ‘There were times when McCarrick always wanted to get me alone for his own ability to prey on me,’ James Grein said. Grein said McCarrick began abusing him decades ago at his family’s New Jersey home. He says McCarrick groped him several times and the abuse got worse as he got older.” By David Culver, NBC4 News Washington


Leading religion reporter calls Pennsylvania grand jury report ‘inaccurate and unjust’
“Veteran religion reporter Peter Steinfels has published an in-depth article questioning both the motivation and the methodology of the August Pennsylvania grand jury report, which chronicled seven decades of abuse within the state’s six Catholic dioceses and led to the resignation of one of the nation’s top Catholic cardinals. The nearly 11,000 word essay, ‘The PA Grand-Jury Report: Not What It Seems,’ released on Thursday (Jan.10) in Commonweal magazine, concludes that the report is ‘grossly misleading, irresponsible, inaccurate, and unjust.’” By Christopher White, Cruxnow.com


What do U.S. Catholics think about Pope Francis and the sexual abuse crisis?
“Over the past seven years I have been interviewing U.S. Catholics for a book about attitudes toward the church and toward Pope Francis. In the last round of interviews, which took place last September, I asked people for their reactions to the sexual abuse scandal. They voiced anger and disgust but also hope that substantial changes might soon take place. For example, Pam, a woman from Minnesota in her early 50s, remarked: ‘I feel sad for the leaders of the church that they have to defend themselves and our church. But mostly, I don’t know whom to trust in the Catholic Church anymore.’” By Thomas P. Sweetser, America: The Jesuit Review

Pope Francis takes U.S. bishops to task for cover-up, conflict, division
“In a strongly worded, eight-page letter to U.S. bishops, Pope Francis has rebuked the prelates not only for covering up sexual abuse but for unhealthy conflicts and divisions among themselves, which have ‘gravely’ and ‘seriously’ undercut the church’s credibility. ‘God’s faithful people and the Church’s mission continue to suffer greatly as a result of abuses of power and conscience and sexual abuse, and the poor way that they were handled, as well as the pain of seeing an episcopate lacking in unity and concentrated more on pointing fingers than on seeking paths of reconciliation,’ the pope wrote.” By Heidi Schlumpf, National Catholic Reporter

Pope to church: bring abusers to justice
“Shortly before Christmas, Pope Francis declared in response to the sexual abuse crisis that ‘the church will spare no effort to do all that is necessary to bring to justice whosoever has committed such crimes.’ He promised that ‘the church will never seek to hush up or not take seriously any case.’ For decades, people have been hoping for such a statement from a pontiff, which Francis made in a public address to the Roman Curia, the offices in the Vatican that help him govern the church.” By Thomas Reese, Religion News Service


Cardinal Dolan urges aid for abuse victims ‘no matter who their abuser was’
“Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York wrote in a recent an op-ed that while he fully supports victims of sexual abuse, proposed legal reforms in the state should be crafted so as support all victims, whether their abuser was part of a public or private institution. ‘I believe it is important to strengthen the Child Victims Act to ensure that all victim-survivors are the center of this much-needed legislation,’ Dolan wrote in the New York Daily News Dec. 31.” By Catholic news Agency on Cruxnow.com

Vatican expels two cardinals implicated in sexual abuse from Pope’s council
“The Vatican announced Wednesday (Dec. 11) that it had removed two cardinals implicated in sexual abuse cases from a powerful council of advisers picked by Pope Francis to guide him on matters critical to the future of the Catholic Church. One of the cardinals is George Pell of Australia, who has been facing charges of sexual abuse of minors in legal proceedings that are subject to a gag order in that country, suppressing news coverage until after they have concluded. The other is Cardinal Francisco Javier Errázuriz of Chile, who has been accused of covering up abuse.” By Jason Horowitz and Elisabetta Povoledo


Electing bishops will not solve the church’s problems
“The systemic failure of leadership shown by the bishops in the clerical sexual abuse crisis has revived the centuries-old debate on the procedures for the recommendation and appointment of bishops in the Catholic Church. Remembering a few historical realities can help us frame the issue. The first is that the power of the pope alone to appoint bishops is a quite recent development in church history.” By Massimo Faggioli, America: The Jesuit Review

Argentine bishop at Holy See under investigation, Vatican says
“The Vatican has confirmed that an Argentine bishop, who resigned suddenly in 2017 for stated health reasons and then landed a top administrative job at the Holy See, is under preliminary investigation after priests accused him of sexual abuse and other misconduct. The case could become yet another problem for Pope Francis, who is already battling to gain trust from the Catholic flock over his handling of sex abuse and sexual misconduct, stemming in particular from the scandal of ex-Cardinal Theodore McCarrick.” By Nicole Winfield and Delora Rey, The Associated Press, in The Salt Lake Tribune

Catholic bishops still don’t get it
“Recent revelations that U.S. bishops are still concealing allegations of clergy sexual abuse made headlines this past summer and again this Christmas season … The U.S. Catholic hierarchy is asking forgiveness and promising reforms to earn back the trust of parishioners and the American public … This pattern of periodic revelations of coverup followed by expressions of remorse and promises of reform is a familiar one – and it is likely to persist so long as the Catholic hierarchy continues to blame the scandal on the sexual misconduct of priests rather than the lack of accountability for their own duplicity.” By Timothy D. Lytton, The Globe Post

U.S. Catholic bishops to pray over clergy sexual abuse scandal
“U.S.-based Roman Catholic bishops will gather Wednesday (Jan. 2) for a weeklong retreat near Chicago on the church sexual abuse scandal that organizers say will focus on prayer and spiritual reflection and not formulating policy. The retreat begins a day after The Associated Press reported that the Vatican blocked U.S. bishops from taking measures last year to address the scandal because U.S. church leaders didn’t discuss the legally problematic proposals with the Holy See enough beforehand.” By Jeff Karoub, Associated Press

Detroit Archbishop Allen Vigneron breaks with Vatican in letter addressing abuse scandal
“Archbishop Allen Vigneron shocked some Catholics when he addressed the priest sex abuse scandal and disagreed with the Vatican. Vigneron’s Advent letter to parishioners expressed his concerns about the sex abuse scandal. It’s highly unusual to see this type of public rift between Rome and its bishops, and the controversy is deeply upsetting to some Catholics. ‘I am tempted to discouragement in the face of the ongoing abuse crisis,’ Vigneron said in the letter. He was discouraged by Pope Francis after he gave an order to American bishops at a recent Baltimore meeting.” By Rod Meloni, ClickOnDetroit.com


Faced with resurgent abuse crisis, Catholic prelates answer with more meetings
“This week, America’s Roman Catholic bishops are gathering near Chicago for a retreat. This unusual high-level meeting comes quickly after their annual national get-together, in Baltimore last November, and just before a February meeting in Rome, where the highest-ranking Catholic prelates from across the globe will convene to address the same topic: clergy sexual abuse. To some, this flurry of meetings may seem hopeful. But to those of us who’ve closely followed the church’s distressing self-inflicted scandal for decades, this seems depressingly familiar.” By Religion News Service Editorial Board


The crisis and the role of the laity
“In the Catholic universe, time doesn’t provide any barriers from the ongoing fallout from the sex abuse scandal. Perhaps time will eventually bring healing, but in this moment the crisis slides from the year gone by to the next, seemingly gaining momentum by the month as bishops finally open the files and provide lists of abusers … That justice, he believes, demands action of the people in the pews who should ‘suspend institutional giving’ and send funds instead to such groups as Catholic Charities … Laity should also demand that bishops send all records relating to sex abuse to state attorneys general, he said, and be involved in clergy assignments where the safety of children is in question.” By Tom Roberts, National Catholic Reporter


Vatican letter undermines U.S. cardinal on abuse
“The Vatican blocked U.S. bishops from taking measures to address the clergy sex abuse scandal because U.S. church leaders didn’t discuss the legally problematic proposals with the Holy See enough beforehand, according to a letter obtained by The Associated Press. The Nov. 11 letter from the Vatican’s Cardinal Marc Ouellet provides the primary reason that Rome balked at the measures that were to be voted on by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops at its Nov. 12-14 meeting. The blocked vote stunned abuse survivors and other Catholics who were demanding action from U.S. bishops to address clergy sex abuse and cover-up.” By Nicole Winfield, Associated Press

Where do the biggest Vatican stories of 2018 stand now?
“This week (Dec. 13) before ‘Inside the Vatican’ goes on break, we are giving you a round-up of this year’s top Vatican news—and digging into the questions that remain about these stories going into the new year. We examine whether Pope Francis’ document on holiness ‘Gaudete et Exsultate’ has had an impact beyond its short appearance in the news cycle. We also look at the open questions from this year’s sexual abuse scandals in both the United States in Chile—and ask when those questions might finally be answered.” By Colleen Dulle, America: The Jesuit Review


German cardinal calls for ‘new thinking’ ahead of celibacy discussion
“German Cardinal Reinhard Marx of Munich and Freising called for change in long-standing church teachings as the German bishops’ conference prepares for a workshop debate to ‘review’ the issue of celibacy for priests. In his homily at New Year’s Mass at the Cathedral of Our Lady in Munich, Cardinal Marx said the church must, ‘in light of the failure’ surrounding the clergy sex abuse crisis, be open to modifying church teaching in response to changing modern times.” By Zita Fletcher, Catholic News Service, in America: The Jesuit Review


Judgment for predatory priests, here and in the hereafter
“Pope Francis had grim tidings for predatory priests, in this life and the next. ‘Hand yourself over to human justice, and prepare for divine justice,’ the pope said in a Christmas address at the Vatican, making clear that the church will no longer protect them, ‘hush up or not take seriously any case.’ The warning came after the release of the latest catalog of church horrors, a scathing report by the Illinois attorney general, Lisa Madigan, finding that nearly 700 priests had been accused of abusing children over the years, while the names of only 185 were made public.” By The New York Times Editorial Board


Montreal –area Catholic dioceses to let parishioners decide on church closures
“The packed holiday masses that took place as scheduled in the St-Antoine and Ste-Paule churches north of Montreal seemed extra special this year, given that a few months ago it looked like they might not happen at all. That’s because the churches were two of more than 30 that were on a list to be considered for closure as part of the Diocese of St-Jerome’s tentative plan to radically slash its 54 churches by more than half.” By The Canadian Press, in The Province


Details published on Vatican delaying U.S. bishops vote on abuse provisions
“The surprising news in November that the Vatican had asked U.S. bishops not to vote on several proposals for responding to the sexual abuse crisis was motivated by a lack of time given the Vatican to study the proposals and potential conflicts with church law, according to a letter obtained by the Associated Press. AP reported Jan. 1 it had obtained the letter written Nov. 11 by Cardinal Marc Ouellet, prefect of the Congregation for Bishops, to Cardinal Daniel DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, asking that the votes be delayed.” By Cindy Wooden, Catholic News Service, in National Catholic Reporter


Historians take ‘long view’ on Catholic sex abuse crisis
“While the U.S. bishops were on retreat at Mundelein Seminary north of Chicago, a group of Catholic historians were gathering in the city’s downtown for their annual academic conference. In both places, the sex abuse crisis was on people’s minds. Although the American Catholic Historical Association (ACHA) meeting included presentations on various things like the great Chicago Fire of 1871 and Pope Pius IX, the attendees — who by definition are usually focused on the past — were very much thinking and talking about the present crisis and what the future might bring for the church.” By Heidi Schlumpf, National Catholic Reporter

Make the Catholic Church great again? There’s no going back
“In the wake of the crises of faith and trust renewed by the revelations of the abuse and assault allegations against former-Cardinal Theodore McCarrick and witnessed in the Pennsylvania grand jury report, women and men of faith have had to grapple with why they continue to identify as Catholic and what that identity means to them. And the responses have varied.” By Daniel Horan, National Catholic Reporter

Why are the bishops praying about the abuse crisis instead of doing something about it?
“Catholics are angry. They have every right to be: They have been failed by their priests, their bishops, even their popes. The clergy sexual abuse crisis that many wishfully thought was behind us has come roaring back. While reforms instituted in 2002 seem to have been effective in preventing new cases of abuse, the ongoing revelations about sexual abuse cases going back decades and cover-ups by church leaders underscore that the church has never properly atoned, to say the least.” By Zac Davis, America: The Jesuit Review

As 2018 ends, U.S. bishops move to address allegations of abuse and claims of cover-up
“2018 will no doubt be remembered as a dark time for the U.S. Catholic Church. Catholics felt betrayed by church leaders accused of sexual misconduct and cover-up revealed this summer and this cloud still hung over the church at the year’s end.” By Carol Zimmermann, Catholic News Service

Revived abuse crisis, newfangled simony dominated the church’s 2018
“If the year 2018 in politics was dominated by Donald Trump, the life of the Catholic Church in this country in 2018 was marked by two major stories, one a reprise and the other just beginning, and one story that did not happen, the ecclesial dog that did not bark. In the event, Pope Francis addressed both major stories in his address to the Roman Curia just before Christmas: the clergy sex abuse crisis and the newfangled simony afflicting the church. I shall consider those comments in their proper place.” By Michael Sean Winters, National Catholic Reporter


Detroit Archdiocese shifts assets; critics say it’s a shell game
“The Archdiocese of Detroit transferred hundreds of parishes this year to a separate real estate corporation, a move critics say is similar to attempts across the country by the Catholic Church to shield assets from lawsuits filed by victims of clergy sex abuse. For the six-county archdiocese, which includes 313 parishes, this is a first step toward creating an individual corporation for each parish, archdiocese spokesman Ned McGrath said.” By Robert Allen, Detroit Free Press


Victims of abuse by religious order priests say their claims fall through the cracks
“When Larry Antonsen decided to report a priest who sexually abused him during high school, he believed the Archdiocese of Chicago was the right place to go. Mr. Antonsen and his wife were lifelong churchgoers who sent their children to Sunday school and counted themselves as members of a parish in the archdiocese. The priest Mr. Antonsen was accusing had spent 14 years working at Chicago-area Catholic high schools. But Mr. Antonsen, who is now 72, said reporting the allegations dropped him into a maze of church bureaucracy, in which his accusations were passed from one office to another before being quietly set aside.” By Jack Healy, The New York Times

‘Time of light?’ or ‘Time of Darkness?’: Boston-area Catholics struggle with resurgence of sex abuse crisis
“On Sunday (Jan. 6), Christians around the world marked the Epiphany — the end of the Christmas season. It’s a time that’s especially profound right now for many Catholics. On the Epiphany 17 years ago, The Boston Globe published the first articles of its explosive exposé about priests in the Archdiocese of Boston sexually abusing children and church leaders covering it up. In perhaps the worst year since the crisis erupted, 2018 saw a stream of painful revelations across the U.S. that highlighted the pervasive nature of the problem and the failure of the church to properly respond.” By Lisa Mullins and Lynn Jolicoeur, WBUR-RM

Opus Dei paid $977,000 to settle sexual misconduct claim against prominent Catholic priest
“The global Catholic community Opus Dei in 2005 paid $977,000 to settle a sexual misconduct suit against the Rev. C. John McCloskey, a priest well-known for preparing for conversion big-name conservatives — Newt Gingrich, Larry Kudlow and Sam Brownback, among others. The woman who filed the complaint is a D.C.-area Catholic who was among the many who received spiritual direction from McCloskey through the Catholic Information Center, a K Street hub of Catholic life in downtown Washington.” By Michelle Boorstein, The Washington Post

Two decades into crisis, no consensus on what ‘credibly accused’ means
“In a recent interview with Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, archbishop of Galveston-Houston and president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), DiNardo was asked about a pledge that all dioceses in Texas would release the names of priests credibly accused of sexual abuse. ‘Credibly accused’ is being worked out in terms of our lawyers even now as we speak,’ DiNardo said, adding that independent auditors were also reviewing archdiocesan files.” By Christopher White, Cruxnow.com

New York Archdiocese issued suitability letter for priest under abuse investigation
“The Archdiocese of New York told a California college this month that a local priest had never been accused of sexual abuse, even while the priest was being investigated by the archdiocese for several abuse charges. An administrator at the college called the letter ‘a lie,’ and said she can no longer trust assurances from the archdiocese.” By Ed Condon, Catholic News Agency, in Catholic Herald


Catholic Diocese of Birmingham releases names of six priests accused of child sex abuse
“The Catholic Diocese of Birmingham today (Dec. 14) released the names of priests accused of sexual abuse of minors. Robert Wilford said one of the priests, Charles Cross, abused him as a teenager in Birmingham in the 1960s. ‘You don’t forget about it. You never will. I don’t really think about it in detail every day. There’s not a day in my life that some thought doesn’t pop up in my head,’ he said.” By WVTM-TV13


Catholic Church’s Santa Rosa Diocese to name priests accused of sex abuse
“Santa Rosa Bishop Robert F. Vasa has chosen this weekend to release the names of Catholic priests credibly accused of child sexual abuse during the local diocese’s 57-year history in hopes of turning a corner on a scourge that has wounded the faithful, drained church coffers and deeply injured survivors whose innocence was exploited by men they trusted.” By Mary Callahan, The Press Democrat

Diocese of Monterey names 30 clergymen ‘credibly accused’ of sexual misconduct
“The Catholic Diocese of Monterey has released a list of 30 clergymen who have been ‘credibly accused’ of abusing children going back to the 1950s. The list documents cases dating back as far 1954 and as recently as 2009. Eighteen priests were arrested and 19 of them are now dead. None of those still living are currently active clergymen except maybe for 1 whose status was listed as ‘unknown.’” By KSBW-TV News


Hartford Archdiocese to publish names of clergy accused of abuse
“Come January the Archdiocese will be publishing the names of clergy who have been credibly accused of sexual abuse. This is after the most recent United States Conference of Catholic Bishops discussed more reforms for sexual abuse within the Church. ‘I think there is more accountability,’ says Michael Foster, a parishioner at St. Patrick-St.Anthony Church in Hartford.” By Taylore Dichello, FOX61 News


Lawyers plan to publish clergy names in Illinois sex abuse cases
“In the weeks since Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan released a scathing report faulting Illinois dioceses for failing to investigate hundreds of allegations of sexual abuse by Catholic clergy, a daunting question has lingered on the minds of parishioners: Which priests were accused? Unlike a sweeping grand jury report in Pennsylvania that identified more than 300 accused priests last summer, the preliminary report released Dec. 19 by Ms. Madigan did not name the clergy members implicated in her probe or note the diocese where they worked.” By Elyssa Cherney, Chicago Tribune, in Pittsburgh Post-Gazette


Victims accuse Cardinal DiNardo of concealing Iowa sex abuse in calling for his resignation
“Survivors of sex abuse by Catholic clergy are calling for the resignation of Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, the former bishop of Sioux City, from his post as President of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB). DiNardo, currently the archbishop of Galveston-Houston, is accused of covering up abuse cases in both Iowa and Texas. According to a statement released by the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP), DiNardo helped conceal admitted abuse by the Rev. Jerome Coyle and allegations against the Rev. George B. McFadden while serving as bishop of Sioux City from 1997 to 2004.” By Shelby Fleig, des Moines Register


Defrocked Boston priest convicted of sex abuse sentenced in March
“A former Boston priest who was convicted of sexually abusing an altar boy on trips to Maine years ago has been scheduled for sentencing late this winter. Seventy-six-year-old Ronald Paquin was found guilty of 11 of 24 counts of gross sexual misconduct in November. The Journal Tribune reports Paquin is scheduled to be sentenced at York County Superior Court in Alfred, Maine, on March 5 with a tentative time of 1 p.m.” By The Associated Press on WBUR-FM News

Brighton rector in misconduct allegations at St. John’s Seminary to go to Worcester
“The rector of a Brighton seminary who has been on sabbatical during an investigation of alleged misconduct there will be returned to his home diocese in Worcester, according to an announcement Friday by church officials. Monsignor James P. Moroney, who was placed on sabbatical in August by Cardinal Sean P. O’Malley, will become interim rector of the Cathedral of St. Paul and the Worcester Diocese Office for Divine Worship, the announcement said.” By Kay Lazar, The Boston Globe


Catholic dioceses of Michigan under investigation
“The Michigan Attorney General’s office announced earlier this year it was joining several other states in investigating allegations of sexual abuse and assault of children and others by Catholic priests from the 1950s till today. All 7 Michigan Catholic Dioceses are being investigated. Bishop Earl Boyea of the Lansing Diocese welcomed the investigation. Church members formed a coalition, and asked the Lansing Bishop for transparency during the investigation.” By David Mittleman, The Legal Examiner


Minnesota archbishop announces moves to end culture fostering clergy abuse
“Archbishop Bernard Hebda of Saint Paul and Minneapolis announced Friday (Dec. 14) several changes meant ‘to change the culture that fostered the clergy abuse crisis.’ Among these are the creation of a new position within the Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis to ensure that ‘the voice of survivors of clergy sexual abuse will be regularly heard within Archdiocesan leadership,’ Hebda wrote in a Dec. 14 letter.” By Catholic News Agency


Priest who lives in Ord charged with sexual assault
“A Catholic priest who lives in Ord has been placed under arrest by the Nebraska State Patrol in Grand Island and charged with first-degree sexual assault of an adult. The Rev. John Kakkuzhiyil, 63, is a priest of the Diocese of Grand Island. His accuser is a woman who lives in Ord.” By Jeff Bahr, The Grand Island Independent


Church administrator out of the priesthood in light of past abuse allegations
“An administrator at a South Jersey Catholic Church is not only out of a job, he’s out of the priesthood in light of past allegations of sexual abuse dating back more than 30 years. Father John Bohrer was removed from ministry more than a decade ago when the case first surfaced out of St. Pius X Church in Cherry Hill. But the Vatican reversed the move, determining the allegation did not rise to the level of permanent banishment from the priesthood.” By David Madden, KYW News Radio

New Jersey bishops finalizing plans to compensate sex abuse victims
“In the wake of sex abuse allegations against a former cardinal, the Catholic bishops of New Jersey have announced the creation of a fund to compensate victims of clergy sex abuse, while details of similar funds in Pennsylvania are also being finalized. The New Jersey program aims to compensate ‘eligible victims of child sexual abuse including those whose financial claims are legally barred by New Jersey’s statute of limitations,’ the New Jersey Catholic Conference said in Dec. 14 statement.” By Catholic News Agency


More sex abuse victims could be eligible for Catholic reconciliation cash
“Two Catholic dioceses in New York are considering expanding the criteria that allow victims of clergy sexual abuse to seek compensation from the church. Under the proposed changes, the Archdiocese of New York and the Rockville Centre Diocese would allow for molestation at the hands of clergy not ordained in those dioceses to be covered under their Independent Reconciliation and Compensation Programs.” By Michael Gartland, New York Daily News

Women describe alleged abuse by ‘pedophile nuns’
“One woman called alleged sexual abuse by nuns ‘the secret not yet told.’ While Catholic bishops from around the country gather at a seminary near Chicago on Wednesday (Dec. 2) for a retreat to address the sexual abuse crisis, CBS News reported several cases of nuns accused of sexual misconduct. CBS’ Nikki Battiste spoke with several women who recently reported abuse by nuns ranging from forceful kissing to molestation.” By CBS News

Syracuse Catholic bishop was right to reveal names of accused priests
“At last, the Catholic Diocese of Syracuse has released the names of 57 priests, alive and dead, who were credibly accused of sexual abuse since 1950. For the first time, we can begin to see the scale of the clergy sexual abuse crisis in our midst. It is horrifying. Two weeks ago, Bishop Robert J. Cunningham wisely reversed his previous stance of keeping the names of accused priests secret unless the victims went public first. Cunningham, who is nearing retirement, said he changed his mind after concluding that ‘this practice has become a roadblock to moving our local Church forward.’” By Syracuse.com Editorial Board


Harrisburg bishop slated to talk about grand jury probe on clergy sex abuse during town hall style meetings
“Billing them as ‘listening sessions,’ the Harrisburg Diocese has announced that Bishop Ronald Gainer early this year will hold town hall style meetings to address a host of topics, chief among them the 2018 grand jury report on clergy sex abuse. Gainer also plans to address the diocese’s response to abuse and its ‘path forward.’ Janet McNeal, who was recently appointed to oversee the diocese’s youth protection program will also participate in the meetings. McNeal is a retired Pennsylvania State Police captain.” By Ivey DeJesus, PennLive.com

Silver lining in Pennsylvania priests report
“It’s been more than four months since Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro released a stunning grand jury report that documented decades of abusive behavior against children by Catholic priests. The allegations were astounding: An estimated 300 assailants were alleged to have accosted more than a thousand young victims over a span of some 60 years. Seemingly no part of the state, including York County, was left unscathed.” By York Dispatch Editorial Board

Can victim funds help heal wounds of Pennsylvania church sex abuse scandal?
“The 15-page packet of information John Delaney received in the mail weighed heavily on him. Inside was information about a fund set up by the Archdiocese of Philadelphia to compensate victims of sexual abuse at the hands of Catholic priests and an application to apply. ‘I’m not sure what I’m going to do. It’s a hard pill to swallow,’ Delaney, 48, said in a telephone interview from his Sevierville, Tenn., home.” By Aaron Aupperlee, TribLive.com

Erie Diocese to launch survivors’ reparation fund in February
“Survivors of sexual abuse by clergy, lay employees or lay volunteers in the Diocese of Erie will be eligible to file financial claims with a new compensation fund. The Survivors’ Reparation Fund will launch in February and was described as an option for abuse survivors who are prevented from seeking compensation through the courts under Pennsylvania’s statute of limitations regarding sexual assault.” By Catholic News Agency in National Catholic Reporter


Catholic Church sex abuse survivors: 19 to watch in 1019
“(Bishop Thomas Tobin) will remain squarely in the spotlight — and not for good — in 2019, when he has pledged to release a list of names of abusive priests ‘credibly accused’ over the years in the Diocese, as pressure mounts nationally for how sexual abuse claims were handled around the country — including a U.S. Department of Investigation into Pennsylvania’s Roman Catholic Church.” By GoLocalProv.com


SNAP asks priest abuse survivors to share their stories as part of new It’s Not My Fault Project
“A victim advocacy group is encouraging survivors of clergy sex abuse to share their stories as part of a new initiative. The Tennessee chapter of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests announced Thursday (Jan. 3) that it is launching the It’s Not My Fault Project to raise awareness about clergy abuse across the state.” By Holly Meyer, Nashville Tennessean


Archdiocese accused of withholding documents in priest sex case
“More than two months after Father Manuel La Rosa-Lopez walked out of the Montgomery County Jail, investigators walked into the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston offices to collect evidence in their case against the Catholic priest. In his first interview since that November raid, Montgomery County’s Special Crimes Bureau Chief Tyler Dunman said they found evidence to suggest the church was withholding information when their investigation began.” By KTRK-TV ABC13 News

Priest abuse investigation: shredded document, hundreds of files seized
“Bags of shredded documents, electronics and hundreds of files were among the items investigators seized from a Montgomery County treatment center as part of its sexual assault investigation into a local priest. Listed among the items taken from the Shalom Center in Splendora in September are files for at least 200 people, according to an evidence log filed in the case and obtained by KHOU. The vast majority of the files are only identified by a last name, but among the few full names listed, at least six are priests who have been publicly accused of sexual misconduct.” By Jeremy Rogalski and Tina Macias, KHOU-TV11

What was seized at Richmond church during sex abuse investigation of priest
“Channel 2 Investigates has new details in the case of a Catholic priest accused of sexually abusing multiple victims at churches in which he’s worked. Father Manuel La Rosa-Lopez is charged with four counts of indecency with a child involving sexual contact in Montgomery County. Search warrants were executed in recent months at four locations, including St. John Fisher Church in Richmond. La Rosa-Lopez worked and lived at the church.” By Debbie Sttrauss, Click2Houston.com


Utah’s Catholic diocese releases names of 19 clergymen accused of sexually abusing minors
“In its most detailed account to date, the Catholic Diocese of Salt Lake City released the names Monday (Dec. 14) of every priest in Utah who has faced ‘credible allegations’ of sexual misconduct with minors since 1950. The diocese, which oversees Utah’s 300,000-plus Catholics, also announced the retirement of one priest who had been on leave after allegations surfaced earlier this year.” By Jessica Miller, The Salt Lake Tribune


Vermont’s Catholic Church reaching out for public comment
“Vermont Catholic Bishop Christopher Coyne, facing a rise in priest misconduct headlines and a fall in parishioner attendance, is set to hold a series of open meetings this month seeking public comment about the state’s largest religious denomination. ‘Anybody’s welcome, not just Catholics,’ Coyne said in announcing what he calls ‘part of a continuing effort to promote full transparency about Catholic matters in the state.’ Vermont’s Roman Catholic Diocese, the target of more than 40 clergy misconduct lawsuits in the past quarter-century, has a decades-long history of defying court orders and outside review.” By Kevin O’Connor, VTDigger.com


Virginia church goers push for mandatory clergy reporting law
“It’s a potentially dangerous loophole in Virginia law: church leaders who suspect child abuse are not mandated to report it. After a child sex abuse scandal at a Manassas church, former members realized they needed to fight for change, and now, that’s paying off. Lawmakers in the Virginia Senate and House of Delegates have proposed laws that would put clergy on the list of mandated reporters.” By Lindsay Watts, Fox 5 DC


Catholic Church kicks out priest who threw sex parties for schoolgirls
“The Nairobi Catholic Archdiocese has kicked out a priest, who is under investigation for sexual misconduct. A priest from Githunguri in Kiambu, who was mid last year accused of sleeping with female parishioners — including schoolgirls and married women — will remain suspended until the outcome of the investigation is vetted and a verdict made at the church headquarters in Rome.” By Nairobi News


Abuse allegations at famed monastery rock pope’s native Argentina
“Speaking on background, a Vatican official told Crux in early December that when the crisis of clerical sexual abuse explodes in Pope Francis’s native Argentina, the situation would be dramatic. Odds are he wasn’t referring to the recently disclosed allegations of abuse against two priests from the Monasterio del Cristo Orante, or the Monastery of the Praying Christ in the province of Mendoza, some 700 miles from Buenos Aires, closer to Chile than to the Argentine capital, but that doesn’t make it any less dramatic.” By Inés San Martin, Cruxnow.com


Roadblock to justice for survivors is ‘condemned to the scrapheap’ from today
“A legal roadblock stopping child sexual abuse survivors from suing churches and other powerful institutions has been ‘condemned to the scrapheap’ from today, said NSW Attorney-General Mark Speakman. NSW Government legislation abolishing the so-called ‘Ellis defense’ takes effect from today after more than a decade where it blocked many survivors from seeking justice against the institutions that failed them.” By Joanne McCarthy, Illawarra Mercury

Report outlines progress since royal commission ended
“The Australian Catholic Bishops Conference and Catholic Religious Australia have submitted a joint report to the National Office for Child Safety on the Church’s implementation of the child abuse royal commission’s recommendations. The report was posted on ACBC and CRA websites last Friday (Dec. 15) to coincide with the first anniversary of the completion of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, as required by one of the commission’s recommendations. It is expected it will be published on the NOCS website alongside other non-government institutions’ reports in the coming days.” By CathNews.com


Judge to rule today in sex crimes case against Montreal Catholic priest
“Father Brian Boucher, who was tried last November on charges of harassing and sexually assaulting a former altar boy starting when the youth was 12 years old, will learn his fate today (Jan. 8). Quebec court Judge Patricia Campagnone is expected to render her decision in the case this morning. Boucher is charged with sexual assault, sexual interference and invitation to sexual touching for incidents dating back more than a decade.” By Canadian Broadcasting Company


Cardinal’s cover-up trial a reckoning for French Catholics
“The Roman Catholic Church faces another public reckoning when a French cardinal goes on trial Monday (Jan. 7) for his alleged failure to report a pedophile priest who confessed to preying on Boy Scouts and whose victims want to hold one of France’s highest church figures accountable. Nine alleged victims of the Rev. Bernard Preynat have summoned Cardinal Philippe Barbarin, 68, as a defendant in France’s most prominent clergy sex abuse case yet. Another archbishop, a bishop and the Vatican official in charge of sex abuse cases also are among the defendants ordered to court in the southeastern city of Lyon to answer allegations of a cover-up.” By Associated Press on WHDH-TV


Windsor priests facing sex allegations removed from London diocese
“Bishop Ronald Fabbro has kicked two Windsor priests accused of inappropriate sexual behaviour out of the London diocese. In a notice to parishioners a few days before Christmas, Fabbro wrote with ‘great sadness’ about the dismissals of Maurice Charbonneau and Andrew Dwyer. ‘Neither Maurice Charbonneau nor Andrew Dwyer may present themselves as clerics or, in any way, represent the Diocese of London,’ Fabrro wrote. ‘Anyone who observes that either individual is acting in a manner that is inconsistent with this directive is asked to advise my office immediately.’” By Trevor Wilhelm, Windsor Star

England’s most senior Catholic cleric apologizes for withholding evidence of child abuse allegations
“The country’s most senior Catholic cleric apologized for withholding evidence of abuse allegations made against JRR Tolkien’s son during his priesthood. Cardinal Vincent Nichols told an inquiry on Thursday (Dec. 13) he was focused on settling legal action against the church quickly when, in 2002, he chose not to disclose a key document to a complainant.” By Jack Hardy, The Telegraph


Priests as predators: long history of abuse in Indian churches
“The stories spill out in the sitting rooms of Catholic convents, where portraits of Jesus keep watch and fans spin quietly overhead. They spill out in church meeting halls bathed in fluorescent lights, and over cups of cheap instant coffee in convent kitchens. Always, the stories come haltingly, quietly. Sometimes, the nuns speak at little more than a whisper. Across India, the nuns talk of priests who pushed into their bedrooms and of priests who pressured them to turn close friendships into sex.” By Associated Press on en.prothomalo.com


Awareness raising key to protection of children and young people
“Christmas is usually a happy time for children and families. However, for a small number of girls in our society the holidays present a time of vulnerability and greater risk of harm with the threat of being taken abroad to undergo female genital mutilation … The procedure is dangerous, illegal and a serious form of child abuse. Unfortunately, it is an issue for some children across the UK and more needs to be done to stamp” By The Irish Times Editorial Board

Ireland agrees to reassess claims of workers in Magdalene laundries
“Women who worked in Ireland’s ‘Magdalene laundries’ but were denied compensation under the state’s Magdalene Restorative Justice program have won their long-running battle to have their applications reassessed. New legislation will ensure that payments to the women, many now over age 70, will be fast-tracked by the Irish state in an effort to make amends for the delay over their disputed compensation for their time working in the laundries.” By Sarah Mac Donald, Catholic News Service, on CatholicPhilly.com


Old cases of abuse in Myanmar’s Catholic Church come to light, prompting guidelines for clergy
“A handful of cases of sexual abuse by Catholic priests in Myanmar that have been covered up for decades with victims choosing not to report the crime in the country’s “culturally closed” society have come to light, a respected priest said on Wednesday (Jan. 2). ‘We didn’t have a significant number of cases in Myanmar,’ said Rev. Soe Naing. ‘We only heard one or two old cases that happened about 10, 15 years.’” By Reuters on Radio Free Asia


Pacific bishops want to rid Catholic church of predator priests
Predator priests will face the full force of the law, Catholic bishops in the Pacific say. In Papua New Guinea, Fr Giorgio Licini said any cases of priests abusing children would be dealt with severely. Fr Giorgio said an office had been established to deal with the matter. Meanwhile, the head of the church in Fiji, Archbishop Peter Loy Chong, said his church had policy and protocols in place for suspected sexual offending among priests.” By Radio New Zealand


Activists urge Pope to sack some Polish bishops for not reporting sex abuse cases
Some Polish bishops should lose their jobs after Pope Francis receives a report next month that will accuse them of failing in their duty to report pedophile cases inside the country’s powerful Catholic Church, activists said on Monday (Jan. 7). The Roman Catholic Church worldwide is reeling from crises involving sexual abuse of minors in a number of countries including Chile, the United States, Australia and Ireland.” By Reuters in U.S. News & World Report

‘We are witches’: clerical abuse scandal divides parishes and politics in Poland
“The former Catholic priest of the Polish village of Kalinowka is serving three years in jail for molesting five schoolgirls. But Marta Zezula, a mother whose testimony helped convict him, says the priest’s victims are the ones made to feel guilty. ‘We are witches … because we have pointed at the priest,’ Zezula fumed as she shoveled straw into a chaff cutter in her barn in the tiny settlement in eastern Poland.” By Marcin Goclowski and Andrew R.C. Marshal, Reuters, on WSAU News Talk Radio


Spain grapples with legacy of clerical sexual abuse crisis
“As the clerical sexual abuse scandals continue to work their way through the global church, bishops and religious superiors in Spain are showing similar but also contrasting reactions both to the crime of abuse and the public reactions to it. During his first remarks as bishop of Avila during his ordination, Jose Maria Gil Tamayo, former secretary and spokesman of the bishops’ conference, said on Saturday (dec. 12) that there’s an attempt to ‘extend an unfair veil of suspicion over the immense multitude of priests.’” By Inès San Martin, Cruxnow.com