Voice of the Faithful Focus, Jan. 22, 2016

Highlighting issues we face working together
to Keep the Faith, Change the Church

Late-breaking news — Former St. Paul-Minneaplis Archbishop John Nienstedt, who had resigned amid a clergy sexual abuse scandal and moved to a Michigan parish, has left that parish — “Nienstedt leaves Michicgan diocese after presence causes stir,” By Associated Press on Cruxnow.com


What Pope Benedict knew about abuse in the Catholic Church
“The election of Pope Francis, in 2013, had the effect, among other things, of displacing the painful story of priestly sexual abuse that had dominated public awareness of the Church during much of the eight-year papacy of his predecessor. The sense that the Church, both during the last years of Benedict and under Francis, had begun to deal more forcefully with the issue created a desire in many, inside and outside the Church, to move on. But recent events suggest that we take another careful look at this chapter of Church history before turning the page.” By Alexander Stille, The New Yorker

Abuse survivor (Marie Collins) hopes 2016 sees results from Vatican safeguarding body
“Irish clerical abuse survivor Marie Collins has said she hopes 2016 will see results from the work of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, despite the ‘frustratingly slow’ pace of the reforms being developed by it. Speaking to NCR in a personal capacity, Collins, a member of the commission, admitted that she has found Vatican bureaucracy ‘very difficult.’ The safeguarding body, which is starting its third year of work, is headed up by Boston Cardinal Sean O’Malley and holds its next plenary meeting at the beginning of February.” By Sarah Mac Donald, National Catholic Reporter

Lawyer alleges 231 children abused at German Catholic choir
More than 200 children may have been abused, some of them sexually, by adults working with a Catholic children’s choir in southern Germany, a lawyer tasked with investigating the allegations said Friday (Jan. 8). Ulrich Weber said the 231 alleged victims included 50 who made ‘plausible’ claims of sexual abuse at the Regensburger Domspatzen boys’ choir and two associated boarding schools between 1953 and 1992.” By Associated Press on ABCNews.go.com
Over 200 members of German choir were abused, investigator says, By Alison Smale, The New York Times
Pope Benedict’s brother says he was unaware of abuse, By Melissa Eddy, The New York Times
More victims counted in mass abuse of Catholic choir boys in Germay, By Amy Nordrum, International Business Times

Archbishop Nienstedt, Bishop Robert Finn have new homes outside former dioceses
“Two U.S. bishops who prematurely resigned their posts amid clergy sexual abuse scandals each have found new landing spots outside their previous dioceses. A southern Michigan parish announced over the weekend that Archbishop John Nienstedt, formerly head of the St. Paul-Minneapolis archdiocese, will help out temporarily in the coming months, while Bishop Robert Finn, former head of the Kansas City-St. Joseph, Mo. diocese, began last month as chaplain for a Nebraska community of women religious.” By Brian Roewe, National Catholic Reporter
Archbishop John Nienstedt, former head of Twin Cities Catholics, goes to Michigan parish, By Jean Hopfensperger, Star Tribune
Catholics, community react to priest’s arrival amid sex abuse backdrop, By Rosemary Parker, Kalamazoo Gazette on MLive.com
Embattled K.C. bishop starts anew in Lincoln convent, By Erin Andersen, Lincoln Journal Star


Catholic Whistleblowers request Vatican investigation of flaws in U.S. bishops’ sex abuse policies
“After years of raising concerns to U.S. bishops about potential holes in their clergy sexual abuse policies to little avail, a group of Catholic advocates has requested Vatican intervention. Catholic Whistleblowers, in a formal request for investigation, alleges the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has not followed through fully on its policy of zero tolerance toward abusive priests and deacons, in part because its guidelines lack a mechanism to assure that bishops send the necessary cases to the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.” By Brian Roewe, National Catholic Reporter


In new scandals, Catholicism feels the birth pains of reform
“Recently news broke in Germany about widespread sexual and physical abuse at a well-known Catholic boys’ choir, news that ricocheted around the world because when the abuse occurred, the choir was being directed by Monsignor Georg Ratzinger, the brother of emeritus Pope Benedict XVI … Around the same time, the Vatican was reeling from the latest twists in the ‘Vatileaks 2.0’ saga, centering on leaks of secret papal documents revealing various kinds of financial corruption or dubious expenditures … Both stories are embarrassing for the Vatican and for the Church, and both raise troubling questions … Lost in the shuffle, however, is another point that both the German abuse story and Vatileaks 2.0 have in common: Neither would have come to light had the Church itself not made the decision to get to the bottom of things.” By John L. Allen, Jr., Cruxnow.com


Are married priests the thin edge of the wedge
“The fact of the matter therefore, is that we already have married Catholic priests. We are very few in number, but is our existence ‘the thin edge of the iceberg getting its toe in the door’?” By Fr. Dwight Longenecker, Aleteia.org


‘Spotlight’ wins Best Picture at Critics’ Choice Awards
“The investigative journalism drama ‘Spotlight’ won the top prize at the Critics’ Choice Awards on Sunday (Jan. 18), while awards favorites Brie Larson and Leonardo DiCaprio won the top acting prizes for ‘Room’ and ‘The Revenant.’ By Associated Press on Cruxnow.com

Spotlight earns six Oscar nominations
“A number of local (Boston-area) stars and productions were nominated this year including Spotlight, the film about the Boston Globe‘s investigation into the Catholic Church’s sex abuse scandal. The film was nominated in six categories, including best picture, best original screenplay, best film editing, and best director. Rachel McAdams also picked up a nod for best supporting actress while Mark Ruffalo was nominated for best supporting actor.” By Matt Juul, Boston Magazine

Spotlight: the reporters who uncovered Boston’s Catholic child abuse scandal
“On the homepage of the Boston Roman Catholic archdiocese website, next to information on preparing for marriage, is a box labeled ‘Support, Protection and Prevention.’ You have to scroll to see the first reference to children and click a link to find any mention of abuse. In 2002, the Boston Globe’s Spotlight team, a group of five investigative journalists, uncovered the widespread sexual abuse of children by scores of the district’s clergy. They also revealed a cover-up: that priests accused of misconduct were being systematically removed and allowed to work in other parishes.” By Henry Barnes, The Guardian

True story of how Boston Globe exposed child sex abuse in Catholic Church comes to big screen in Spotlight (Spotlight opened internationally on Jan. 1)
“‘It takes a village to raise a child and it takes a village to abuse one,’ is one sobering insight voiced in the newspaper drama Spotlight, and it’s only one among many. Written and directed by Irish-American actor-director Tom McCarthy, Spotlight retells the true story of how the Boston Globe exposed child sexual abuse in the Catholic Church. It also reveals the unsettling truth that the abuse was covered up for longer than anyone can determine. Many people, including the general public, chose to look the other way.” By Stephen Martin, The Irish Post


Children remain victims, and the powerful protect each other
“If you’re not from New England, you may have missed news of a devastating sexual abuse scandal engulfing St. George’s School, a prestigious Rhode Island prep school that educated President George H.W. Bush and other children of America’s aristocracy. Two of the lawyers representing an ever-growing number of accusers there — Eric MacLeish and Carmen Durso — represented dozens of victims in the Catholic Church abuse scandal as well. And the patterns between the two cases are stunning.” By Margery Eagan, Cruxnow.com

The Catholic story, conservative vs. progressive
“Ross Douthat is a thoughtful and articulate conservative who converted to Catholicism in his teens and now writes for The New York Times. He infuriates many of my progressive friends, but I usually find his writings interesting and thought provoking even if I often disagree with him.” By Thomas Reese, National Catholic Reporter

Welcome to the cafeteria, Ross
“Last week I reviewed and commented on the conservative narrative as described by Ross Douthat in ‘A Crisis in Conservative Catholicism.’ This week I would like to continue the conversation by looking at his comments on Pope Francis and his recommendations to conservatives. Douthat believed that there was no ‘vibrant, potent alternative’ to conservative Catholicism until the election of Pope Francis. ‘The waning of liberal Catholicism seemed to be continuing, and outside of certain theology departments and the pages of the National Catholic Reporter, the idea that the Church needed constant revolution seemed to have lost its once intoxicating appeal.’” By Thomas Reese, National Catholic Reporter

Silenced priest frustrated by lack of support from bishops
“The founder of the Association of Catholic Priests said his experience of the last four years, having been ordered by the Vatican not to minister publicly or to speak or write about his views, makes it hard to have much faith in the Church. Fr Flannery spoke of the lack of process surrounding his dealings with the Vatican, which demanded he make public statements renouncing his views in relation to women priests and homosexuality, issues on which he opposes Catholic policy.” By Niall Murray, Irish Examiner


Part 1: In new interview, Francis pushes for a church big on mercy, tough on law
“Pope Francis has offered his most detailed outline yet for the role of the Catholic church in the modern era, saying in a new book-length interview (published in three parts) the church needs to follow Jesus’ example more closely and seek to ‘enter the darkness’ in which many of today’s people live. The pontiff has also responded sharply to church leaders who have criticized his focus on the boundless nature of God’s mercy and who suggest that the focus obscures church teachings.” By Joshua J. McElwee, National Catholic Reporter,
Part 2: The Pope’s personal encounters with mercy, By Joshua J. McElwee, National Catholic Reporter
Part 3: Francis explains ‘who am I to judge?’ By Joshua J. McElwee, National Catholic Reporter
Review: In new book, Pope Francis calls mercy essential, By Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times

People like Francis, but maybe not the Church
“Two bits of data emerged recently which, taken together, confirm a disquieting reality for Pope Francis: His personal popularity doesn’t appear to be translating into notably greater enthusiasm for the Church he leads.” By John L. Allen, Jr., National Catholic Reporter

In 2016, Pope Francis wants a Church on the move
“Pope Francis closed out the holiday season Wednesday (Jan. 5) by calling Catholicism to a new sense of missionary hustle, urging the Church to reach out to all the peoples of the world and insisting that ‘mission is her vocation’ … To accomplish that goal, the pope said, requires Christians ‘to go forth, to leave behind all that keeps us self-enclosed, to go out from ourselves and to recognize the splendor of the light which illumines our lives.’” By John L. Allen, Jr., Cruxnow.com


Judges drop corruption charge, find monsignor guilty of slander
“A Rome court dropped charges of corruption against an Italian monsignor, yet found him guilty of slander and gave him a two-year suspended sentence. Msgr. Nunzio Scarano, a former accountant in a Vatican office overseeing property and investments, remains accused of money laundering and illegal lending in two other separate trials in Salerno in southern Italy.” By Carol Glatz, Catholic News Service, in National Catholic Reporter
Mixed verdicts for ex-Vatican official in corruption trial, By CathNewsUSA.com

Philippine diocese to keep money out of church services
“The Archdiocese of Lingayen-Dagupan in the northern Philippines has decided to ‘choose the path of pastoral prudence’ and rid parish operations of ‘any semblance of business and commerce.’ ‘It is a hard climb but we must be wise as serpents and innocent as doves,’ Archbishop Socrates Villegas said a statement addressed to parishes under his jurisdiction.” By Joe Torres and Roy Lagarde, UCANews.com


Archdiocese of Seattle names 77 people as child abusers
“The Archdiocese of Seattle has published a list of 77 child-sex abusers who served or lived in western Washington State over the past several decades. Archbishop J. Peter Sartain of Seattle apologized for the actions by the nearly all-male list of priests, brothers and deacons, and at least one sister, who abused minors. He said in a letter released Friday that he was disclosing the names ‘in the interest of further transparency and accountability’ and to continue to encourage victims of sexual abuse by clergy to come forward.” By Associated Press in The New York Times
Church IDs two deceased Pacific County priests as child sex abusers, By Chinook Observer
Five Catholic priests named as sex abusers have Whatcom County ties, By Caleb Hutton, Bellingham Herald
Knowing, and not knowing, a Catholic pedophile, By Julie Muhlstein, Everett Washington Herald

Protesters occupy cathedral of Chilean bishop charged with covering up abuse
“Laypeople in Chile opposed to Pope Francis’ appointment of a bishop with ties to the country’s most notorious abuser priest have occupied the local cathedral, demanding the bishop’s resignation. The demonstration came on Saturday (Jan. 9), the anniversary of the day Pope Francis announced the appointment one year ago.” By Ines San Martin, Cruxnow.com


Hawaii Catholic Church sues insurer over sex abuse payments
“Lawsuits against the Catholic Church alleging sexual abuse of parishioners are all too common. But in a twist, the Roman Catholic Church in Hawaii is suing a local insurance company, alleging that the insurer won’t cover settlements arising from scores of past sexual abuses cases in the islands.” By CivilBeat.com


Lawsuits claim Portland diocese concealed priest’s sex abuse
“Six men have sued the Roman Catholic Diocese of Portland, claiming Church leaders concealed allegations that a priest sexually abused children for decades. The suits, filed in November by men from Maine, New Hampshire, and New York, were made public this week and accuse the diocese of covering up abuse by the Rev. James Vallely. The men say Vallely sexually abused them from 1958 to 1977 when they were ages 8 to 15. Their lawyer, Mitchell Garabedian, said Tuesday that the suits claim the Church ‘fraudulently concealed’ Vallely’s abuse. Vallely died in 1997 in Florida.” By Associated Press on Cruxnow.com


Priest accused of misconduct working in Battle Creek
“A Catholic official accused of covering up sexual misconduct will start working at St. Philip Parish in Battle Creek. According to the Diocese of Kalamazoo, Archbishop Emeritus John Nienstedt volunteered to help Father John, who has ‘ongoing serious health challenges.’ The Diocese of Kalamazoo said Nienstedt moved to Battle Creek on Jan. 6. He’s expected to stay in Battle Creek for approximately six months.” By WOOD-TV


Trial date set for Minnesota priest accused of abusing girls
“June trial date has been scheduled for a Hibbing priest accused of sexually abusing four girls. A five-day trial for Brian Michael Lederer, 30, is set to begin June 13 in State District Court in Hibbing, according to court records.” By Forum News Service on Inforum.com


Attorneys, author, bishop weigh in on how to prevent sex abuse by clergy
“Some say preventing future sexual abuse of children by Roman Catholic clergy may depend on ending the requirement for celibacy and allowing women into the priesthood. But if that’s not likely to happen any time soon, then strict screening and psychological testing of those seeking ordination might be the best way to prevent future crimes by clergy against children.” By Al Knauber, Independent Record

Bishop says church accepted responsibility for sex abuse
“Helena Bishop George Leo Thomas says the church had a duty to step up and accept responsibility for former priests and other employees who were accused of sexually abusing children, and he said it would have been wrong not to acknowledge their pain and suffering. Thomas told the Independent Record in an interview that the church could have fought claims by people in Montana who said they were abused, but it would not be right and they might never have seen a resolution to their cases.” By Associated Press in Herald Courier


Former priest barred from contact with anyone under 16 turns up at other N.H. churches
“The South Parish Unitarian Church, locked during a cold winter rainstorm, looked like so many other churches in so many other towns. Its steeple and clock, standing tall at the edge of Charlestown’s main strip, rose through the mist, a sign out front attached to weathered brick reading ‘built in 1844.’ Recently, a man named Mark Fleming, a former Catholic priest accused of molesting three young boys in the 1980s, worked at this historic site, perhaps breaking an agreement that forbade him from having contact with children younger than 16.” By Ray Duckler, Concord Monitor

A survivor, stull haunted by church abuse, hopes to provide an outlet for others
“They could be living anywhere, unchecked, unregistered and under no suspicion. What’s to stop a priest who’s molested children from living where he chooses, free to mingle in your neighborhood, greet your kids, earn their trust, and yours? Sometimes, absolutely nothing. Our statute of limitations permits this freedom, from both supervision and prison, creating an irony 13 years ago that helped expose the church sex abuse scandal, while allowing priests guilty of horrific crimes to walk free.” By Ray Duckler, Concord Monitor


Judge rules documents be public in priest abuse case
“A Philadelphia judge has ruled that documents and other evidence from pretrial proceedings in a lawsuit involving sexual abuse of minors by a Catholic priest will remain public before trial. The two-paragraph ruling by Common Pleas Court Judge Mark I. Bernstein was a setback for the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, which had asked for an order barring public disclosure of the materials. The church has insisted on confidentiality as a condition for engaging in pretrial discovery with lawyers in suits seeking damages for being sexually molested by priests.” By Joseph A. Slobodzian, Philadelphia Inquirer


Child abuse survivor Gina Swannell wins compensation after speaking out against Catholic Church
“A woman who was suing the Catholic Church over sexual abuse she suffered as a young child has been awarded an out-of-court settlement. Gina Swannell was seeking damages in the NSW Supreme Court for sexual abuse she suffered when she was six years old at the hands the late Father Charles Holdsworth when she was a boarder at the St Francis Xavier school in Urana.” By Lorna Knowles, ABC News Australia

Catholic Church facing potential multi-million dollar payouts as sex abuse victims sue
“The Catholic Church is facing a potential multi-million dollar bill as dozens of angry sex assault victims sue, demanding it pay for their suffering. In the last 12 months, 19 Supreme Court lawsuits have been filed against former Ballarat bishop Ronald Mulkearns, who was in charge when some of Australia’s most notorious paedophiles were active in his diocese.” By Shannon Deery, Herald Sun

Catholic Church spent millions providing for pedophile priests
“The Catholic Church has spent millions of dollars providing pensions, housing, and private medical insurance to convicted paedophile priests despite branding them ‘evil’ and having most defrocked. The Melbourne archdiocese alone is still financially supporting six former priests who have been convicted for committing sex crimes against children.” By Chris Vedelago, Cameron Houston, The Age
‘Pedophile priest’ received £100,000 from Catholic Church in Australia while on run, By Mark Brolly, The Tablet


Protests against Chile bishop accused of concealing pedophile priest
“Protestors in Chile have demanded the resignation of a bishop accused of concealing sex abuse allegations against a priest. About 30 demonstrators stood outside St Matthew’s Cathedral in Orsono, carrying green balloons and signs demanding the resignation of Bishop Juan Barros. The protest last Saturday (Jan. 9) marked the first anniversary of the announcement of his appointment by Pope Francis in Rome. On the same day, a delegation of bishops from Chile had an audience with the Pope at the Vatican.” By Ruth Gledhill, Christian Today


Govandi child abuse case: church opens probe against priest
“A 51-year-old Catholic priest from Govandi, recently arrested for sexually abusing a teenage boy, is also being investigated by a three-member committee instituted by the Archdiocese. The Catholic community will be paying close attention to the legal and ecclesiastic proceedings—this is the first case to come to light after the Catholic Bishop Conference of India (CBCI) set a protocol to deal with child sexual abuse by the clergy, that was then approved by the Vatican.” By Jyoti Shelar, Mumbai Mirror