Voice of the Faithful Focus, Jan. 14, 2022


Coming abuse report to review retired Pope Benedict’s tenure as German archbishop
“In mid-January, the law firm Westpfahl Spilker Wastl is scheduled to publish a report into the handling of clerical sexual abuse in the Archdiocese of Munich and Freising. The potentially explosive aspect is that three of the highest-ranking officials are still alive: Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger — now retired Pope Benedict XVI — and Cardinals Friedrich Wetter and Reinhard Marx, reported the German Catholic news agency KNA. The investigation followed two years of research and covers the period from 1945 to 2019, centering on who knew what about sexual abuse and when, and what action they took, if any, KNA reported.” By Catholic News Service in National Catholic Reporter

20 years after Spotlight investigation of Catholic sex abuse crisis, is the church a safer place?
“On Jan. 6, 2002, on the Feast of the Epiphany, The Boston Globe published the first in a series of reports from its Spotlight investigative team, headlined ‘Church allowed abuse by priest for years.’ While the findings were not a surprise to abuse survivors, the revelations that a previously unknown number of priests in the Boston area had sexually abused minors for decades devastated Catholics in Boston and, ultimately, the faithful around the world.” By Kathleen McChesney, former F.B.I. executive and first executive director of the Office of Child Protection for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops

Catholic Church in Australia publishes annual report on abuse
“The Australian Catholic Bishops’ Conference (ACBC) and Catholic Religious Australia (CRA) on Thursday (Dec. 17) published their Annual Progress Report on initiatives implemented at national and local level to fight abuse in the Church. The report has been issued yearly since 2018 on recommendation of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse. It summarizes reports provided by more than 50 Catholic entities across the country to give an account to the Australian government of the progress made in the field of child protection.” By Lisa Zengarini, Vatican News

El Pais Newspaper: Catholic Church in Spain faces major abuse investigation
“Spain’s Catholic Church is to open an investigation into alleged sex abuse of hundreds of children by members of the clergy dating back 80 years that the newspaper El Pais has uncovered, the daily said on Sunday (Dec. 19). The investigation will look into allegations of abuse against 251 priests and some lay people from religious institutions that the paper has uncovered, El Pais said.” By Reuters on VOANews.com

Priest who led diocesan office of child protection charged in abuse case
“A retired priest of the Diocese of Arlington, who for seven years oversaw the diocese’s program on protecting minors from clerical sexual abuse, was indicted shortly before Christmas on two counts of sexually abusing a minor. A trial is scheduled next October for Father Terry Specht, 68, who now lives in Donegal, Pennsylvania. The priest was the director of the diocese’s Office of Child Protection from 2004-2011. The Washington Post reported that Father Specht was indicted on two felony counts related to sexual abuse of a child under age 13. The indictment said the assault took place in 2000, when Father Specht was chaplain and assistant principal at Paul VI Catholic High School in Fairfax.” By Catholic News Service in National Catholic Reporter


SNAP disputes assessment of Dallas charter at its 20th anniversary
“An essay by Kathleen McChesney on the impact of the U.S. bishops’ Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People drew a sharp rebuke by the executive director of the Survivor’s Network of Those Abused by Priests. Zach Hiner, the group’s director, said the steps outlined in the charter ‘needed to be taken,’ but he likened McChesney’s essay to ‘patting oneself for winning the marathon when you’re only a mile in.’ Hiner, in a Jan. 10 phone interview with Catholic News Service, said ‘delayed disclosure’ of abuse is ‘a fact.’ He noted that ‘most people in the United States do not come forward until their 50s,’ so anyone abused in the past 20 years ‘would not likely be coming forward until 2030, 2040.’” By Mark Pattison, Catholic News Service, in National Catholic Reporter

The sex abuse scandal is not over. The hierarchical culture still needs transformation
“A 2004 story in The New York Times bore the headline, all in caps: ABUSE SCANDAL HAS BEEN ENDED, TOP BISHOP SAYS. That top bishop was a young Wilton Gregory who, two years earlier and as head of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, had herded the rest of the U.S. hierarchy through the first phase of accountability for the scandal. The headline was based on a Gregory declaration, made following the release of two studies of the scandal. ‘The terrible history recorded here today is history,’ he said. That, of course, turned out to be more wish than reality.” By Tom Roberts, National Catholic Reporter

Catholic dioceses investigate their role in boarding schools for Native Americans
“Catholic dioceses across the U.S. are beginning to investigate their role in operating boarding schools for Native American children in the late 1800s and 1900s, including searching for evidence of students who might have died at the institutions. The inquiries under way at numerous dioceses follow an Interior Department investigation launched in June into the institutions, which were set up by the federal government to assimilate young Native Americans. Native students sometimes faced physical and emotional abuse, and thousands might have died from accidents, disease and other causes. Most of the schools were shut down by the 1970s.” By Dan Frosch and Ian Lovett, The Wall Street Journal

20 years after Boston Globe’s ‘Spotlight,’ we need a national database of accused clergy
“In the United States, the terrible truth that Catholic clergy have sexually violated children has been known publicly now for at least 36 years. For this truth-telling, we are indebted to journalists such as Jason Berry. In stark and unsparing detail he documented in May 1985, writing for the Times of Acadiana (and National Catholic Reporter), the predations of admitted serial pedophile Fr. Gilbert Gauthe in the Diocese of Lafayette, Louisiana. Over the decades others followed Berry’s groundbreaking truth-telling, often against and despite enormous pressure to remain silent.” By Barbara Thorp, National Catholic Reporter

Prosecution of ex-cardinal McCarrick takes next step in Massachusetts
“A Dec. 21 motion for transcript, audio and video recordings of depositions related to the criminal charges against ex-Cardinal Theodore McCarrick was an important step for the prosecution, according to one of his alleged victims present in the courtroom. The motion was a part of a brief second pre-trial hearing in the case at Dedham District Court in Massachusetts. In addition to the motion, the case was continued to March 3 for a status update. McCarrick wasn’t present in the courtroom. His attorney Barry Coburn stated he had no objection to the commonwealth’s motion before exiting the courtroom without further comment.” By John Lavenburg, Cruxnow.com

Despite setbacks, Vatican editorial defends trial procedures
“Six months after the Vatican announced criminal charges in connection with a London property deal that cost millions, the Vatican City State court is still dealing with preliminary, procedural arguments. But in an editorial for Vatican News Dec. 20, Andrea Tornielli, an official at the Dicastery for Communication, argued that was to be expected due to complications arising from the Vatican’s penal code, which is older than and different from Italy’s. ‘This has created objective problems for all parties to the proceedings, who are asked to apply that code to factual situations that the legislator of a century ago could certainly not foresee,’ he wrote.” By Junno Arocho Esteves, Catholic News Service


Cardinal Tobin: Refusing to deal with complexity in the church is a form of heresy.
“Critics who dismiss an ongoing Vatican effort to consult Catholics around the world, part of the pope’s efforts to reinvigorate church life, fail to understand how Francis is trying to reshape the church, one of his cardinal advisors said in a speech on Tuesday (Jan. 11). ‘Synodality is a way of being church, based on the idea, the ideal, that all the baptized are walking together with a shared attention to the Holy Spirit,’ Cardinal Joseph Tobin, the archbishop of Newark, said in a keynote address to the Cathedral Ministry Conference, which is taking place this week in Chicago.” By Michael J. O’Loughlin, America: The Jesuit Review

Pope launches synodal process to discern Holy Spirit’s call to the church
“Building on the guiding principles of his papacy, Pope Francis this year invited Catholics both in the mainstream of church life and on the margins to express their dreams, ideas and concerns in preparation for the Synod of Bishops in 2023. The pope’s invitation to discern a path forward for the church stems from his belief that the Holy Spirit inspires all members to be missionary disciples, sharing core Christian beliefs by going out to the world. The pope formally opened the synodal process at the Vatican Oct. 9-10. It launched Oct. 16-17 in dioceses worldwide. Under the theme ‘For a Synodal Church: Communion, Participation and Mission,’ the pope has called the church to practice synodality, that is listening to — and hearing — one another in all facets of church life, coordinators of the effort at the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops explained.” By Dennis Sadowski, Catholic News Service, in National Catholic Reporter

German Catholic group gives Pope Francis ‘reform manifesto,’ saying the Synodal Path is ‘getting out of hand’
“A group of pilgrims presented Pope Francis with a ‘reform manifesto’ critical of the German Synodal Path, reported the German Catholic news agency KNA. On the sidelines of the pope’s Jan. 5 general audience, representatives of the ‘Neuer Anfang’ (‘New Beginning’) initiative handed him a pamphlet containing their own statements on themes that are also dealt with in the Synodal Path consultations, launched by the German bishops’ conference and the Central Committee of German Catholics. A member of the group said they had handed the manifesto directly to the pope because its views had no chance of being accepted by Synodal Path members in Germany.” By Catholic News Service in America: The Jesuit Review

Is Pope Francis’ Synod on Synodality bound to disappoint—or will it renew the Church?
“Pope Francis has begun a multi-year process for the entire church, what he has called ‘a synod on synodality.’ In his talks and in the preparatory documents, he has explained the unusual term ‘synodality’ very simply by retrieving its Greek roots. ‘Synodality,’ as he describes it, is being syn-hodos, on the road together. The Holy Father wants this vision of the church being on the road or journey together to come alive.” By Louis J. Caneli, America: The Jesuit Review


Pope Francis accepts resignation of Cardinal Turkson as head of Vatican’s peace and justice office
“Pope Francis on Dec. 23 accepted the resignation of Cardinal Peter Turkson as head of the Vatican’s office for peace and justice, signaling a complete organizational overhaul of the department’s leadership following an investigation into its governance and operations earlier this year. The Vatican announced high-level departure in its daily bulletin, which followed several reports that the cardinal would soon be departing his office.” By Christopher White, National Catholic Reporter

Francis & the new ecclesial movements: a complicated story for a complex papacy
“Since the election of Pope Francis, interpretations of his papacy in the United States (and the West more generally) have somehow felt not quite fully formed. This is especially the case among those who tend to position Francis simply as a corrective to John Paul II and Benedict XVI and the policies they put forth. This view rests heavily on the casting of Francis as a specific kind of figure: the Jesuit, the outsider from Latin America and the global South, the Vatican II pope. Certainly there are elements of this broad portrayal that are central to understanding Francis. But they can also obscure the complexity of this papacy. Almost nine years after the 2013 conclave, some undercurrents of Francis’s pontificate are emerging with more clarity.” By Massimo Faggioli, Commonweal

Pope at 85: No more Mr. Nice Guy, as reform hits stride
“Pope Francis celebrates his 85th birthday on Friday (Dec. 17), a milestone made even more remarkable given the coronavirus pandemic, his summertime intestinal surgery and the weight of history: His predecessor retired at this age and the last pope to have lived any longer was Leo XIII over a century ago. Yet Francis is going strong … But Francis also is beset by problems at home and abroad and facing a sustained campaign of opposition from the conservative Catholic right. But Francis has responded with the papal equivalent of “no more Mr. Nice Guy’” By Nicole Winfield, Associated Press, on Cruxnow.com

Pope Francis approves further restrictions on Latin Mass to ensure adherence to Vatican II
“Pope Francis has approved further clarifications regarding restrictions on the traditional Latin Mass in an effort to ensure that liturgical reform is ‘irreversible’ and that liturgical celebrations adhere to the changes made after the Second Vatican Council. The clarifications, published Dec. 18, ban priestly ordinations and confirmations in the old rite and limit the frequency in which priests who receive a dispensation to celebrate the traditional Latin Mass can do so. The Vatican’s Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments released the responses to 11 questions (or dubia) prompted by Francis’ July 16 decree, Traditionis Custodes, which limited the use of the traditional Latin Mass.” By Christopher White, National Catholic Reporter


New Zealand cardinal on accused prelate: ‘I really don’t know why he is still a bishop’
“A New Zealand government-commissioned report on abuse in care settings is questioning how the Vatican has handled a Catholic bishop credibly accused of abuse. The report by the Royal Commission of Inquiry into Abuse in Care – titled He Purapura Ora, he Māra Tipu; from Redress to Puretumu — was tabled in New Zealand’s parliament on Dec. 15. Bishop Charles Drennan, the former bishop of the Diocese of Palmerston North, resigned from his diocese on Oct. 4, 2019, after an investigation into a complaint by a young woman that the bishop committed an abuse against her of a sexual nature.” By Charles Collins, Cruxnow.com

Cardinal O’Malley discusses preist and bishop critis of Pope Francis and the polarizing role of media
“Boston Cardinal Seán P. O’Malley, in a Dec. 17 interview with a newspaper from Argentina, spoke about how some church factions in the U.S. drive views opposing Pope Francis via polarizing media messages. The cardinal, head of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, also spoke of how the sex abuse crisis has impacted evangelization. In the interview with La Nación on the occasion of Pope Francis’ 85th birthday, Cardinal O’Malley said polarization and opposition to Pope Francis includes some prelates in the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, but he did not name anyone.” By Rhina Guidos, Catholic News Service, in National Catholic Reporter


U.S. Catholic priest shortage eased by recruits from Africa
“Fr. Athanasius Chidi Abanulo — using skills honed in his African homeland to minister effectively in rural Alabama — determines just how long he can stretch out his Sunday homilies based on who is sitting in the pews. Seven minutes is the sweet spot for the mostly white and retired parishioners who attend the English-language Mass at Immaculate Conception Catholic Church in the small town of Wedowee. ‘If you go beyond that, you lose the attention of the people,’ he said. For the Spanish-language Mass an hour later, the Nigerian-born priest — one of numerous African clergy serving in the U.S. — knows he can quadruple his teaching time. ‘The more you preach, the better for them,’ he said.” By Kwasi Gyamfi Asiedu, Associated Press, in National Catholic Reporter


Catholic church would rather die than accept women as equals
“It has been clear for quite a while, but it really crystallized for me when the Archdiocese of Cincinnati announced that in this big archdiocese, reaching way up into northern Ohio, the church is consolidating down from parishes to families of parishes, called Beacons of Light. There have been several big Enquirer stories about this. And, of course, they did it the way the church has always done everything – by fiat, by announcement, telling folks about how wonderful it will be. ‘They’ even exclaimed piously that it is the shortage of priests bringing about this shrinkage.” By Patricia Garry, Opinion Contributor, Cincinnati Enquirer

Women have a unique role to play in synodal Church, panel says
“It has been an uphill battle, but the role of women in leadership in the Church has been growing since the Second Vatican Council. The hope of some of the Catholic Church’s most influential women is that the synodal process launched in October will continue to cement this trend. ‘I’ve seen the leadership of women flourishing,’ said Sister Patricia Murray, member of the Spirituality Commission of the Synod on Synodality. ‘I look at the roles of superior religious generals and their collaborators, lay and religious women, from grassroots levels to all levels within the Church, and we’ve seen some pretty significant appointments.’” By Inés San Martin, Cruxnow.com

Can Pope Francis make real change for women? Vatican women leaders assess his chances
“A panel of women who have attained leadership positions in the Catholic Church met on Thursday (Dec. 16) to discuss Pope Francis’ ambitious plan to reform the power structures in the church, raising questions about female ordination, the role of bishops and the need for women theologians. In October, Francis launched a churchwide consultation process titled ‘For a synodal Church — Communion, Participation and Mission,’ commonly known as the Synod on Synodality. The three-year process, which will conclude with a summit of bishops at the Vatican in 2023, is intended to engage every level of the Catholic Church, from parishes to bishops’ conferences.” By Claire Giangravé, Religion News Service


A New Year challenge for us to protect children
“Has Christmas ended? Is the story over? Did we learn anything from the Christmas nativity story, and what values did the Church draw from it and teach us? Will we face 2022 with a new determination inspired to live out and practice the values of the Gospel? The Christmas belen (manger scene) that depicts the baby Jesus wrapped in swaddling clothes and surrounded by adoring parents Mary and Joseph, the shepherds and animals will be dismantled and removed from churches. But will it and the story it tells be removed from our minds and hearts? That is the story of Jesus of Nazareth that brought the love of God into the world, that elevated the rights of children and women to the highest level and that has called us to respect the rights of children and women and stop child abuse.” By Fr. Shay Cullen, The Manila Times


Francis reassigns Vatican doctrinal official, signaling other likely changes
“Pope Francis on Jan. 10 named the secretary of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith as the head of an Italian diocese, signaling a potential organizational overhaul of one of the Vatican’s most important offices in the near future. Archbishop Giacomo Morandi, 56, had served at the doctrinal office since 2015, first as an undersecretary and then as the No. 2 official under prefect Cardinal Luis Ladaria. He will now lead the Reggio Emilia-Guastalla Diocese in Italy’s Emilia-Romagna region.” By Christopher White, National Catholic Reporter


Dublin archbishop: ‘Radical change is coming in the church’
“After a year at the head of the Archdiocese of Dublin, Archbishop Dermot Farrell said, ‘Radical change is coming in the church,’ which will see a renewal of energy and new forms of ministry. ‘With a powerful commitment from clergy and lay faithful, across the full range of the life and ministry of parish communities, we are going to experience a renewal of energy and the adoption of new forms of outreach and ministry,’ the 67-year-old archbishop told Catholic News Service. He also said he believes change is already happening in the church’s structures all over the Western world.” By Sarah Mac Donald, Catholic News Service, in National Catholic Reporter


Archdiocese battles to raise enough money to settle with abuse victims
“The Archdiocese of Santa Fe’s Chapter 11 bankruptcy efforts have plodded along for three years with no end visible in the case involving more than 400 clergy abuse victims. Lawyers say three years is a comparatively long time for Chapter 11 proceedings but is far from unheard of. It’s in everyone’s interests — the archdiocese’s and the victims’ — to resolve it through Chapter 11, attorneys say. Therefore, an eventual settlement is still expected. ‘The alternatives are so bad that it’s worth it to stay in the game,’ Laura Coordes, associate professor of law at Arizona State University, said of Chapter 11.” By Rick Ruggles, Santa Fe New Mexican

Roman Catholic Church considers bankruptcy protection toward settling abuse claims
“The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of St. John’s says it may have to file for bankruptcy protection as it grapples with settling sex abuse claims linked to Mount Cashel Orphanage in the 1950s, ’60s and ’70s. In a message to all parishioners on Sunday (Dec. 19), Archbishop Peter Hundt said the move would buy the Church more time to finish assessing the value of all its assets ‘as we develop a proposal for our creditors to settle victims’ claims and creditor liabilities.’ Several months ago, the Church announced that a team of advisors was working on a ‘major restructuring’ plan to resolve the claims, estimated to be in the millions of dollars.” By VOCM Radio News

Priest convicted of stealing from Churches appeals sentence
“A former Rapid City priest convicted of stealing donations from Catholic churches is appealing his sentence. Marcin Garbacz’s attorney told Eighth Circuit appeals court judges Thursday (Dec. 17) that the priest was ordered to pay restitution for money that wasn’t necessarily stolen. After a weeklong jury trial in early 2020, Garbacz was convicted for stealing from three Catholic churches in Rapid City over several years.” By Associated Press in U.S. News & World Report


How dark money prostitutes the U.S. church and distorts Catholicism
“My colleague Brian Fraga’s article last week detailing the financial networks that link conservative Catholic organizations with groups that organized the assault on the U.S. Capitol last year was chilling. That chill should haunt every U.S. prelate. The distortions of our faith brought on by the culture wars have been mixed with treasonous politics by a well-funded network that is willing to wink at Trumpian fascism. Let’s be clear: People who deny election results, who allege voter fraud without producing any evidence of such fraud, who try to get others to ‘find’ votes, and who try to stop the official certification of an election are assaulting our democracy. Period. Full stop. If those things are not treason, what is? And there is nothing in Catholic teaching that views cooperation with treason as morally neutral or otherwise unobjectionable.” By Michael Sean Winters, National Catholic Reporter

U.S. bishops should help Latin Massgoers understand purpose of Francis’ new restrictions
“The Dec. 18 publication by the Congregation for Divine Worship of responses to questions (or dubia) sent to them about Pope Francis’ motu proprio Traditionis Custodes, restricting the use of the traditional Latin Mass, added a bit more ammunition to those who insist on engaging in battles about liturgy. I wish they would stop. They won’t. The responses, like the initial document, invite us all to remember that our liturgy is always in some sense in relation to our ecclesiology, perhaps even an expression of that ecclesiology. In this regard, it is notable that the most vocal opposition to the pope’s restrictions are found in the English-speaking countries where opposition to the pope on other grounds has been most pronounced — countries like the United States.” By Michael Sean Winters, National Catholic Reporter

Labelle: Do right by victims of clergy abuse
“The following letter was sent to Bishop Christopher Coyne on Dec. 8: Why are you waiting for me and other clergy abuse victims to die? As children at St. Joseph’s Orphanage, we were physically, mentally and sexually abused. In December 2020 you said the following during an interview on the WCAX program You Can Quote Me: ‘I absolutely believe that children were abused at the orphanage. No one is contesting that at all.’ You know that there was abuse, yet you do everything you can to avoid helping the abused.” By Maura Labelle, Brattleboro Reformer


Is the Catholic Church beginning to address abuse of adults?
“As we’ve noted on this blog many times, the problem of sexual abuse in the Catholic Church is not limited to the abuse of children. Adults can be victimized as well, a reality that the Catholic community has been slow to recognize. The case of former cardinal Theodore McCarrick illustrates this problem: The Vatican’s own investigation showed that Church officials knew about McCarrick’s abuse of young adult seminarians but largely ignored it for decades; they failed to take definitive action against McCarrick until they received a formal report in 2017 that he had abused a minor. But recent developments suggest that the abuse of adults is receiving more attention within the Church.” By AwakeMilwaukee.org


Family of alleged priest abuse victim sues Oakland Diocese
“The family of a deceased man who said he was repeatedly sexually abused as a child by a Bay Area Roman Catholic priest is suing the Diocese of Oakland under the provisions of a new state law that allows such cases to move forward. The family and estate of Jim Bartko, former athletic director at Fresno State University, filed the suit last week in Alameda County Superior Court. The suit alleges Bartko suffered repeated sexual abuse from 1972 to 1975 at the hands of Stephen Kiesle, then a priest with the Diocese of Oakland and assigned to St. Joseph’s Parish in Pinole.” By Bay City News


Lawsuit alleging child sexual abuse filed against Archdiocese of Denver
“At least one lawsuit alleging child sexual abuse by Catholic clergy has been filed in Colorado following the passage of a new law last year. On Monday, Colorado resident Brian Barzee sued the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Denver, alleging exploitation and sexual abuse by a former priest during his time at St. Andrew’s Preparatory Seminary High School in Denver. Barzee’s suit was filed under Senate Bill 21-88, which passed last year and took effect on Jan. 1.” By Faith Miller, Colorado Newsline

Former Aspen priest faces civil lawsuit accusing him of 300 occasions of sex assault on altar boy
“A former Aspen Catholic priest not only sexually assaulted a local altar boy approximately 300 times in the early 2000s, he beat the boy when he declined to accede to his sexual demands, according to a civil lawsuit filed last week in Denver District Court. The Rev. Michael O’Brien allegedly began abusing Keegan Callahan at age 7, soon after he moved to Aspen in the summer of 2004 with his devout Roman Catholic family, the lawsuit states. The abuse of Callahan, now 24 and serving a 14-year prison sentence for committing sex crimes against juveniles in Aspen, allegedly continued through 2008.” By Jason Auslander, The Aspen Times

Child sexual abuse survivors prepare to file lawsuits under new state measure
“Lawmakers in the Colorado General Assembly passed legislation in June giving new power to people who’d survived sexual abuse decades ago — and survivors and their attorneys said Thursday (Dec. 30) they’re planning to move forward with several cases once the law takes effect in the new year. The statute of limitations had expired for these survivors, leaving them without the ability to hold abusers accountable. But Senate Bill 21-88 represented a major victory for child sexual abuse survivors and their advocates after years of advocacy and several failed attempts at passing similar state legislation.” By Faith Miller, Colorado Newsline


Fort Wayne priest removed for ‘serious boundary violations’
“A Fort Wayne priest has been removed from priestly ministry due to ‘serious boundary violations with an adult,’ the Catholic Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend said. The diocese said in a statement that it received ‘credible allegations’ against Father Eric Burgener, the parochial vicar of Saint Vincent de Paul Parish in Fort Wayne, on Dec. 6. Details about the ‘serious boundary violations’ were not released.” By WANE-TV15 News

Indiana Catholic priest reaches plea deal in sexual abuse cases
“A northeastern Indiana priest has agreed to plead guilty to child solicitation and sexual battery charges for allegedly sexually abusing a teenage girl and a young woman. The Rev. David Huneck was charged in October with felony child solicitation and sexual battery and several misdemeanor charges. If the 31-year-old priest pleads guilty to the felony charges and a judge accepts his plea at a Jan. 27 Whitley County hearing, the misdemeanor charges would be dropped.” By Associated Press and WISH-TV8 News Staff Reports


Stephen Sauer, former priest who ran agency for disabled, booked with sex crimes
“The executive director of Arc of Greater New Orleans has been arrested on five counts of video voyeurism and one count of sexual battery, according to court records. Stephen Sauer, 59, remains behind bars in the Jefferson Parish Correctional Center, pending a court hearing Thursday. ArcGNO, with headquarters in Metairie, provides services to mentally disabled people in Jefferson, Orleans, Plaquemines, St. Bernard and St. Tammany parishes.” By Mike Perlstein, WWL-TV4 News


Fall River priest abuse survivor asks for compensation
“One alleged survivor of child abuse by a Fall River priest is asking for financial compensation from the diocese after he said Catholic leaders ignored his claims for ten years. On Monday, the Fall River Diocese announced that three priests have been added to the list of those “credibly accused” of sexually abusing minors. Fathers James Buckley, Edward Byington, and Richard Degagne have been suspended from all church activities. Two of the men were already retired.” By Kate Robinson, WBSM-AM1420 News


Attorney general’s office investigating northern Michigan priest
“The Attorney General’s Office is investigating a priest in northern Michigan. Bryan Medlin was appointed to be the pastor of the National Shrine of the Cross In The Woods in Indian River in September. When contacted by 9&10 News for comment, the Diocese sent this statement …” By 9and10News.com


Midlands Voices: Nebraska’s civil recovery laws must fit the depravity of child sexual abuse
“Nebraska Attorney General Douglas J. Peterson did our state a service Nov. 4 when he released his detailed report on child abuse committed by Catholic Church officials in the Omaha, Lincoln and Grand Island Dioceses. I doubt that few people — including good, faithful Catholic Nebraskans — don’t hang their heads in sorrow when reviewing the details: credible allegations of sexual abuse and/or misconduct against 51 priests, four deacons and two teachers by a total of 258 victims dating back to Jan. 1, 1978.” By Sen. Rich Pahis in Omaha World-Herald


‘I was scared’ – Women say they were beaten, mistreated by nuns at Parma children’s home in 1960s
“Local women are breaking their silence about what they say really happened inside a Cleveland area home for children. They claim physical abuse by nuns at the former Parmadale home was well-beyond normal discipline handed out during the 1960s, and it’s all taken a drastic emotional toll. Parmadale Children’s Village of St. Vincent DePaul in Parma started accepting orphaned children in 1925. In 1964, a 4-year-old Carolyn Foland, now Carolyn Mason, started what she called a living nightmare at the village.” By Jonathan Walsh, By ABC-TV5 News

Some sex-related charges dropped against former Van Wert, Findlay priest
“Five of 10 charges have been dismissed in the U.S. District Court for Northern Ohio against a Catholic priest who was arrested by the FBI 16 months ago for the alleged sex trafficking of an adult and minor. A federal grand jury indicted Michael J. Zacharias, 55, of Findlay, in August 2020 on charges of sex trafficking of a minor and sex trafficking of an adult and minor by force, fraud or coercion.” By J. Swygart, LimaOhio.com


Former priest accused of filming teen boy inside Target bathroom stall sees his day in court
“Former Catholic priest Paul Spisak was in handcuffs and a prison jumpsuit for his preliminary hearing Wednesday (Dec. 22). All charges were held against him after police say he took photos of a 13-year-old boy in a bathroom at the East Liberty Target store. The boy testified that he was going to the bathroom and saw an iPhone camera pointed at him through the crack between the stall and bathroom wall. When he left the bathroom, the boy said he told his dad, who then told security, and followed Spisak until police got there.” By Gabriella DeLucs, WPXI-TV11 News


Former priest given one year of probation for sexual assault
“A former Catholic priest will be on probation for 12 months after being convicted of 4th degree sexual assault. Charles Richmond, the former chaplain of McDonell Central High School, was sentenced by Judge James Isaacson on Wednesday (Dec. 22), who also said Richmond will not be required to register as a sex offender. ‘I heard no comments about your effectiveness as a teacher, or priest,’ judge Isaacson said. ‘Certainly heard comments about the effect of your actions as a counselor, that’s, there’s got to be consequences for that.’” By WQOW-TV18 News


Catholic Church ordered to pay 14 million pesos to sexual abuse victim
“In a ruling considered historic, Mendoza Judge María Lilen Sánchez has ordered that multi-million-peso compensation be paid to an ex-pupil of Antonio Próvolo Institute for Deaf and Hearing Impaired Children in Mendoza Province who suffered serious sexual abuse. The Catholic Church will be required to pay 14.4 million pesos in total via its San José charity, which is linked to the institute, the judge ordered. The ruling comes five years after the start of a trial which ended in convictions for Horacio Corbacho and Nicola Corradi, two priests who were in charge of the children at the centre.” By Buenos Aires Times


Victorian Catholic diocese found vicariously liable for child sexual abuse in landmark ruling
“The Catholic church’s failed attempt to argue it was not responsible for a priest’s abuse of a five-year-old, because it took place during after-hours ‘social’ visits, has been slammed as ‘ruthless’ by the survivor and an ‘affront to common sense’ by a judge. Last month the Victorian supreme court handed down a judgment finding the current diocese of Ballarat was vicariously liable for the abuse of the boy, who cannot be named, by Father Bryan Coffey in Port Fairy in the early 1970s.” By Christopher Knaus, The Guardian

Catholic diocese liable for priest’s abuse
“Ballarat’s Catholic diocese has been found liable for the sexual abuse of a young boy by one of its priests. The decision, believed to be an Australian first, was handed down by Victoria’s Supreme Court on Wednesday (Dec. 22). The diocese and its current bishop, Paul Bird, were sued by a man who said he was sexually assaulted by Father Bryan Coffey at his parents’ home in Port Fairy in 1971. He was five years old.” By au.news.yahoo.com

New pathway to respond to allegations of abuse
“Victoria’s bishops have today (Dec. 20) announced the establishment of Pathways Victoria, a new model for responding consistently across the state’s dioceses to allegations of abuse in the Church. ‘While we are deeply conscious that no effort will ever be sufficient to repair the lifelong harm suffered by those who have been abused, their families and loved ones, and the entire people of God, we are committed to restorative journeying with survivors of abuse that is compassionate, fair, respectful, and accountable,’ Victoria’s bishops said in a statement.” By CathNews.com


Point person on abuse in Bolivia says more must be done to tackle crisis
“For several years, a large number of the allegations of clerical sexual abuse that reach the Vatican have come from Latin America, where arguably, only Chile has fully grasped the scope of the crisis. In Bolivia, for instance, the bishops conference only recently produced a set of abuse guidelines. According to a 2015 report from the ombudsman office – the latest one available online – 23 percent of children in Bolivia suffer some form of sexual abuse before reaching the age of 18, and on average, 12 children are abused every day.” By Inés San Martin, Cruxnow.com


A Wolf in Priest’s Clothing: Diocese settlement satisfying to other Grecco victim William O’Sullivan
“A recent settlement reached by a sexual abuse victim of Donald Grecco, who had sued the disgraced ex-priest and Roman Catholic Diocese of St. Catharine’s, comes as gratifying news to William O’Sullivan. ‘I’m glad to see this happen for him. It’s about time,’ said O’Sullivan, who also was abused by Grecco, between the ages of nine and 12 at St. Kevin’s Catholic church in Welland, a place he had protested in front of weekly for more than two years.” By Kris Dubé, The St. Catherine’s Standard

Crown-Indigenous relations minister ‘absolutely open’ to review of survivor compensation deal
“Crown-Indigenous Relations Minister Marc Miller says he’s ‘absolutely open’ to an independent review of the residential school compensation deal reached between the federal government and Catholic Church. ‘I would say we’re absolutely open to the idea; we have to get to the bottom of what we’ve done,’ Miller said in a phone interview Monday (Dec. 20). ‘The job I’ve been given is to get to the bottom of these things.… This is not the end of the story.’” By Jason Warick, CBC News

Retired Canadian archbishop: ‘We will not regain our credibility’ if the church doesn’t confront indigenous abuse
Pope Francis’ meeting with representatives of Canadian Indigenous communities at the Vatican, spurred after unmarked graves were discovered at residential schools earlier this year, has been delayed. America spoke via email with Archbishop Terrence Prendergast, S.J., archbishop emeritus of Ottawa-Cornwall and current apostolic administrator of the Diocese of Hearst–Moosonee—which includes a number of people belonging to First Nations—about the situation in Canada. Responses have been edited for length and clarity.” By Bill McCormick, S.J., America: The Jesuit Review

Seventy-five complaints filed against Montreal archdiocese, independent ombudswoman says
“An independent ombudswoman hired by the Montreal Roman Catholic archdiocese said Wednesday (Dec. 15) she has received 75 formal complaints – including 46 related to abuse – dating back to 1950 until the present day. The cumulative report published Wednesday by Marie Christine Kirouack, who was hired by the church this year, is composed of complaints against members of the church that were filed between May 5 and Nov. 30. Thirty complaints involve allegations of sexual abuse from 1950 to the present day, and another 16 complaints are connected to alleged psychological, financial, physical or spiritual abuse.” By The Canadian Press


American ex-priest in East Timor found guilty of sexually abusing children
“A defrocked American priest accused of sexually abusing orphaned and disadvantaged young girls under his care in East Timor was found guilty Tuesday (Dec. 21) and sentenced to 12 years in prison, in the first case of its kind in the staunchly Catholic nation. Richard Daschbach, 84, who spent decades as a missionary in the country’s remote enclave of Oecusse, faced charges of child sexual abuse as well as child pornography and domestic violence.” By The Associated Press on NBCNews.com


Life sentence to priest: victim’s family says faith restored in ‘justice and Jesus’
“The life sentence awarded to Fr Lawrence Johnson by a POCSO court has restored the faith of the victim’s family in ‘justice and Jesus.’ The boy’s mother in a tearful interview said that ‘Jesus had answered her prayer at Christmas.’ ‘The courts have pronounced Fr Lawrence guilty today. But I held him guilty on the very day of the assault. He even knelt before me and admitted his crime. My faith in the men that run the Church is broken but my faith in Jesus is unshakeable.’” By Bella Jaisinghani, The Times of India


Papal representative tells Mexican Church leaders to listen to abuse victims
“Hours before boarding the plane towards his new post, the papal representative in Mexico called the land of Our Lady of Guadalupe a ‘faithful’ place, but also ‘scourged by violence, by death.’ Archbishop Franco Coppola, Apostolic Nuncio in Mexico, expressed his gratitude for having represented Pope Francis for a little more than five years as he celebrated Mass for the World Day of Peace, commemorated by the Catholic Church every January 1st, in Latin America’s most famous shrine, dedicated to La Morenita.” By Inés San Martin, Cruxnow.com


New Zealand abuse report says Church hasn’t taken ‘sufficient steps’ to address problem

“A new report on sexual abuse in New Zealand says abuse in religious settings often causes ‘particular harm’ to victims. The report quoted Thomas Doyle, a former Catholic priest and a leading expert in abuse in the Catholic Church, who called it ‘soul murder’ … The document makes recommendations on how survivors of abuse in state and faith-based care should be listened to and how they should be compensated. The three religious denominations covered in the report were the Catholic Church, the Anglican Church, and the Salvation Army.’ By Charles Collins, Cruxnow.com


Reporting child abuse in the church, 1
“There are serious and profound changes taking place in the Catholic Church to acknowledge and prevent child sexual abuse by clerics and lay people. The number of priests convicted in the Philippines is zero. Clerical child abuse has become a crisis for the Church as an institution. We celebrate this December Pope Francis’ historic decree that approved a new law, Motu Proprio Vos estis lux mundi, to protect child victims and prosecute any clergy accused of child abuse. It covers bishops who covered up acts of abuse by priests or lay people. Every complaint of child abuse must be reported and investigated immediately and reported to the Church and the civil authorities.” By Fr. Shay Cullen, The Manila Times

Reporting abuse in the church, 2
“Pope Francis has also instructed that such crimes are known to the church authorities to be reported to the civil anchorites and must not be withheld under the guise of ‘confidentiality’ stipulated in Canon Law to protect the name of those involved. This has been used in the past to stifle all action against pedophile priests and to protect them. Now it is a crime to do so. The Instruction specifically states that church authorities must cooperate with the civil authorities and share evidence with them in any investigation.” By Shay Cullen, Panay News