Voice of the Faithful Focus, June 12, 2015

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


Pope creates abuse tribunal for cases of bishop negligence
“Pope Francis has created a new Vatican tribunal section to hear cases of bishops accused of failing to protect children from sexually abusive priests, the biggest step the Holy See has taken yet to hold bishops accountable. For years, the Vatican has been criticized by victims, advocacy groups and others for having failed to ever punish or forcibly remove a bishop who covered up for clergy who raped or molested children.” By Nicole Winfield, Associated Press
Pope creates tribunal for bishop negligence in child sexual abuse cases, By Elisabetta Povoledo and Laurie Goodstein, The New York Times
Francis approves process of accountability for bishops on sexual abuse, By Joshua J. McElwee, National Catholic Reporter
No more ‘daddy’s boys,’ By John L. Allen, Jr., Cruxnow.com
Pope creates tribunal to hold bishops accountable, By John L. Allen, Jr., and Rosa Nguyen, National Catholic Reporter
— ‘Sea change’ in Catholic sex abuse scandal, By Daniel Burke, CNN

Minnesota archdiocese is charged in abuse scandal
Prosecutors in Minnesota filed criminal charges Friday (June 5) against the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis, accusing church leaders of mishandling repeated complaints of sexual misconduct against a priest and failing to follow through on pledges to protect children and root out pedophile clergymen. The charges and accompanying civil petition, announced by the Ramsey County prosecutor, John J. Choi, stem from accusations by three male victims who say that from 2008 to 2010, when they were underage, a local priest, Curtis Wehmeyer, gave them alcohol and drugs before sexually assaulting them.” By Mitch Smith, The New York Times
Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis charged with ‘failing to protect’ clergy abuse victims, by Jean Hopfensperger, Start Tribune
Minnesota charges Catholic archdiocese with failure to protect children from abuse, By Reuters in Religion News Service
Catholic archdiocese in Minnesota charged in priest sex abuse, By Ben Brumfield, CNN
Catholic Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis charged in child sex abuse case, By Tina Susman, Los Angeles Times
Twin Cities archdiocese charged with child endangerment, By Grant Gallicho, Commonweal
Whistleblower: ‘It’s pretty much same old, same old’ at the St. Paul archdiocese, by Emily Kaiser, Minnesota Public Radio

Pope Francis swift to accept resignation of the Primate of Belgium
“Pope Francis swiftly accepted the resignation of Archbishop André-Joseph Léonard, the Archbishop of Mechelen-Brussels and Primate of Belgium. As required by canon law, Archbishop Léonard submitted his letter of resignation on May 6 upon reaching the age of 75. The Belgian archdiocese announced on Monday (June 1) that the Pope had accepted it, despite Archbishop Léonard only being in the position since 2010. A Belgian court recently ruled that Archbishop Léonard was guilty of misconduct in failing to take action in a sex abuse case, which dated back to when he was Bishop of Namur, from 1991 to 2010.” By Catholic Herald


Review board head: Diocesan reviews, mandatory audits should be priorities for bishops
“Requiring all allegations of clergy sexual abuse to be reviewed by diocesan review boards and making mandatory parish audits should be priorities for bishops, according to the head of its National Review Board. Francesco Cesareo, chair of the National Review Board established under the Dallas Charter, addressed a gathering here of more than 200 bishops Wednesday (June 10) morning.” By Brian Roewe, National Catholic Reporter


Papal responses to sexual abuse in the Church
In setting up a Vatican tribunal to discipline negligent Roman Catholic bishops, Pope Francis has taken the most concrete step of any pope in holding accountable church leaders who failed to prevent the sexual abuse of minors by priests. Although Francis and his most recent predecessors, Pope Benedict XVI and Pope John Paul II, made efforts to punish abusive priests, the tribunal is the Vatican’s first mechanism to punish their superiors. Here is a look at responses to scandals by the last three popes.” By Karin Roberts, The New York Times

Pope’s commissioner for child protection says Cardinal Pell is a ‘dangerous individual’ and ‘almost sociopathic’
Cardinal George Pell is ‘a dangerous individual’ and ‘almost sociopathic’ in his response to child sexual abuse victims, Pope Francis’ specially-appointed commissioner for the protection of children, Peter Saunders, says. In an interview with Channel Nine’s 60 Minutes, Mr Saunders said Cardinal Pell had a ‘moral responsibility’ to front the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse and address allegations that he knew of priests abusing children in Ballarat and elsewhere but did nothing to stop it. Cardinal Pell has denied these accusations.” By Kerrie Armstrong, The Sydney Morning Herald
Cardinal Pell’s response to victims “almost sociopathic,” says member of pope’s sexual-abuse commission, By Grant Gallicho, Commonweal
Australian archbishops write open letter to support Cardinal George Pell, a ‘man of integrity,’ By Shannon Deery, Herald Sun
Vatican abuse commission keeps distance in row over Australian cardinal, By Philip Pullella, Reuters
Sexual abuse commission member: Pell is ‘almost sociopathic,’ By Cindy Wooden, Catholic News Service
Pell seeks legal advice after Vatican official slams ‘mockery’ of abuse victims, By Melissa Davey, The Guardian
Pope Francis’ finance chief promises to appear at Australian child abuse inquiry, By Bonnie Malkin, The Telegraph
Cardinal George Pell’s position is untenable, says papal adviser, By The Australian
Pope’s adviser ‘not well informed’ about Ballarat claims, By CathNews.com
Vatican discord over Australia child abuse inquiry, By UCANews.com


Europe’s fractious Catholics set out their views in synod questionnaire
“Like their counterparts around the world, Europe’s bishops’ conferences are supposed to have been engaged in a listening process for next October’s Synod of Bishops on the family. And while little has been divulged officially so far about the views collected from Catholic respondents, it’s been possible to glean some measure of the strong feelings being expressed.” By Jonathan Luxmoore, National Catholic Reporter

Pope, council discuss synod document; bishops hold study day in Rome
“Pope Francis and members of the council of the Synod of Bishops met May 25-26 to review input from around the world for October’s synod on the family and made their final suggestions for the synod’s working document. The office of the synod’s general secretary will incorporate the suggestions and have the document translated, said a statement issued after the meeting.” By Cindy Wooden, Catholic News Service


Cardinal Kasper: Francis wants a hierarchy that listens to ‘sensus fidei’
Pope Francis wants to retool the Catholic hierarchy so that it not only defines and enforces church teachings, but also listens and responds to how laypeople understand God’s will, German Cardinal Walter Kasper said. Kasper, a noted theologian whose writings are known to have influenced Francis, said the pope wants to create a ‘listening magisterium.’” By Joshua J. McElwee, National Catholic Reporter

Through expressive writing, Eugene Kennedy espoused a rich sacramental vision
The passing of Eugene Cullen Kennedy closes a rich chapter in Catholic church history. He was the last of three masters of the pen, Chicago-area colleagues, off and on friends who came out of the same pre- and post-Second Vatican Council generation to help explain — and critique — to the wider Catholic populace their changing church.” By Thomas C. Fox, National Catholic Reporter
Thank you, Gene Kennedy, for empowering laypeople, By Jim Wayne, National Catholic Reporter

Catholic Church needs to empower the laity
“In the wake of the recent referendum on same-sex marriage, Archbishop Diarmuid Martin agreed with Minister for Health Leo Varadkar in describing what happened as a ‘social revolution.’ He spoke about the need in the Catholic Church for a ‘reality check.’” By Gerry O’Hanlon, Irish Times

Vatican official denounces Ireland’s vote for same-sex marriage
“In the Vatican’s eyes, the referendum in Ireland that legalized same-sex marriage last week was a ‘defeat for humanity,’ a top Vatican official said in remarks published late on Tuesday (May 26). ‘I was very saddened by this result,’ said Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the Vatican secretary of state, according to the Vatican Radio website. ‘I don’t think we can speak only about a defeat for Christian principles, but a defeat for humanity.’” By Gaia Pianigiani, The New York Times

Massachusetts judge orders end to decade-long vigil at Catholic Church
“A Massachusetts judge on Friday (May 29) ordered parishioners of a Roman Catholic church who have occupied the building for more than a decade while the archdiocese attempted to close it to end their vigil by next week.’” By Scott Malone, Reuters
Protesters occupying Catholic church for 11 years hope for reprieve despite eviction deadline, By FOX-TV News
Scituate parishioners vow to keep up legal fight, By Kathy McCabe, The Boston Globe

Theologian to La Civilta Cattolica: “Yes” to exceptions for divorce and remarriage
“It is possible to consider exceptions on a case-by-case basis, admitting remarried divorcees to the sacraments, without changes to the doctrine. This is according to Dominical theologian Jean-Miguel Garrigues, Professor of Patristics and Dogmatics at the Institut Supérieur Thomas d’Aquin, at the Dominican House of Studies in Toulouse and at the Seminaire International St Cure’d Ars.” By Andrea Tornielli, Vatican Insider, La Stampa


Catholic Church importing priests from Africa and Asia for European and U.S. churches as it runs short of natives
“The Catholic Church has been increasingly turning to Africa and Asia to find priests to staff its parishes in the U.S., Europe and other parts of the world because it’s now struggling to find native priests in these areas, according to the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate at Georgetown University.” By Leonard Blair, Christian Post

Global Catholic population up, number of priests down since 1980
“The Catholic population of the world increased by 57 percent, or 445 million souls, between 1980 and 2012, but the number of priests declined by 17 percent, or 20,547 priests, according to a study released June 1 by CARA, the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate. Granted the church’s theology, which requires a priest for most sacraments, this presents a serious problem for the church. In 2012, there were 1,228,612,000 Catholics in the world and 393,053 priests.” By Thomas Reese, National Catholic Reporter
Catholic Church running out of priests, importing from Africa, Asia, By Paul Bedard, Washington Examiner


Editorial: The pilgrim church revived under Pope Francis
“It was a bold, even audacious, assertion by then-Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio in an intervention to fellow cardinals during the week preceding the conclave that elected him pope: the critique of a self-referential church that courts illness, a kind of theological narcissism, and, worse, spiritual worldliness. The antidote, he argued, was to go beyond confines of the church structure and travel to the peripheries, both the geographic and existential, to be with those on the margins in every sense of that phrase.” Editorial by National Catholic Reporter Staff


Vatican’s financial watchdog says the new system is ‘state of the art’
Cleaning up Vatican finances has been a major priority of Pope Francis, and that campaign reached a milestone on Friday with the release of a 2014 annual report from the Financial Information Authority (AIF), an anti-money laundering watchdog unit created under Benedict XVI and strengthened by Francis. The report’s main assertion was that the Vatican now has a financial regulatory system in line with international best practices, flagging suspicious transactions and, when warranted, turning them over for criminal prosecution.” By John L. Allen, Jr., Cruxnow.com

Embezzlement inquiry has no effect on World Meeting
“The Vatican archbishop in charge of overseeing the World Meeting of Families, to be held in Philadelphia this year, is under investigation for possible embezzlement, according to several European news organizations. Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia, president of the Pontifical Council for the Family, reportedly bought the 14th-century San Girolamo castle in Umbria, Italy, at an artificially low price with the intention of reselling it at market value.” By David O’Reilly, Philadelphia Inquirer

Vatican sees 147 reports of suspicious transactions as anti-money laundering norms take hold
“The Vatican’s financial watchdog agency said Friday (May 29) it received 147 reports of suspicious financial transactions last year, a sign that tough new anti-money laundering norms are taking hold at its scandal-marred bank. The Financial Information Authority’s annual report showed a slight decline in the number of suspicious reports received in 2014 compared to the 202 received in 2013, when the Vatican bank was undergoing a review of all its accounts.” By Nicole Winfield, Associated Press, in Minneapolis Star Tribune

Catholic priest faces police probe over missing church funds
“A Catholic priest is under police investigation over thousands of pounds of missing church funds stretching back years. Shocked parishioners were told in a statement from their bishop that Father Graeme Bell, parish priest at Our Lady Star of the Sea in Saltcoats, North Ayrshire, was facing the probe after concerns came to light in recent days.” By Gerry Braiden, Herald Scotland

Vatican Archbishop Paglia: ‘I trust completely in the Justice on earth’
“The Italian media are reporting that Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia, the President of the Pontifical Council for the Family, has been listed among those placed “under investigation” by an Italian prosecutor in connection with the sale of a castle at Narni, in the region of Umbria, central Italy, that took place four years ago in the diocese of Terni, where he was bishop from 2002-2012.” By Gerard O’Connell, America


Funding risk for papal commission, according to adviser
“A abuse survivor and member of Pope Francis’s child protection commission has expressed concern that George Pell is in charge of the panel’s finances. British advocate Peter Saunders on the weekend called on the Pope to sack Cardinal Pell as the Vatican’s financial chief over allegations he helped cover up pedophile activity in Australia. Now Mr Saunders has revealed the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors may not be able to do its job properly due to a lack of resources.” By News.com.au

Catholic Church works to combat abuse
“In the early 2000s, the Catholic Church faced many allegations against its priests. After that time, a required program was instituted to try prevent abuse from happening again. Bonnie Sigers, safe environment manager for the Diocese of Charleston, which includes St. Anne and St. Anthony locally, said the program has been in place for a decade now.” By Melissa Rollins, Morning News, Florence, South Carolina

Catholic Church ‘Knew of pedophile priest’s sexual behavior since 1982
“A senior Catholic Church figure claims Cardinal George Pell knew a convicted pedophile priest was abusing young boys. Father Eric Bryant said he had attended a meeting, along with Mr Pell who was then serving as a priest in the Ballarat area, in 1982 when the issue of Gerald Ridsdale arose.” By Louise Cheer and John Carney, Daily Mail Australia

Child sex abuse inquiry: Catholic Church did not understand pedophilia at the time of Gerard Ridsdale’s offending
“A priest who visited convicted paedophile Gerald Ridsdale in prison says no-one within the Catholic Church at the time fully understood the effect Ridsdale’s abuse had on his victims, and many believed he could change. Ridsdale, an 81-year-old former priest, this week (May 29)gave evidence at the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse in Ballarat.” By ABC News Australia


Fairbanks Catholic priest sentenced to 10 ears for child sex crimes
“It was announced by the Justice Department on Monday (June 8) that a priest with the Fairbanks Catholic Diocese was sentenced on charges of for Attempted Enticement of a Minor on Friday (June 5) by Chief United States District Court Judge Ralph R. Beistline.” By Alaska Native News


Los Banos priest arrested on child pornography charges
“A former Los Banos Catholic priest has been charged with possession of child pornography following a 10-month investigation by the city’s police department. The Rev. Robert Gamel was arrested Wednesday (June 10) afternoon and booked at the Merced County jail, according to booking records.” By Bob Parsons, Merced Sun-Star


Three Chicago-area Catholic schools keep dangerous secrets, sex abuse victims say
“The ABC7 I-Team looked into claims by nearly 100 alleged victims of sexual abuse in metro Chicago that the archdiocese and some of its schools are keeping dangerous secrets. The case involves claims of sexual and physical abuse by priests and teachers at three local Catholic high schools. The three high schools have been a part of a Roman Catholic order called the Irish Christian Brothers. Hundreds of men and women accused members of the North American order of sexual abuse.” By ABC7-TV


Theology professor priest faces sexual abuse allegations
“Theology professor Fr. Virgilio Elizondo, who is widely considered the founder of U.S. Latino theology and won the 1997 Laetare Medal, was named in a San Antonio civil suit alleging Elizondo sexually abused the unnamed plaintiff when he was a minor, according to a report originally run by WSBT. The lawsuit was filed against the Archdiocese of San Antonio, Fr. Jesus Armando Dominguez and Elizondo last Tuesday (May 26) in Bexar County district court. It alleges Dominguez repeatedly sexually abused the plaintiff, listed as “John Doe” in the 1980s.” By Notre Dame, Indiana, Observer


Former Catholic high school priest arraigned on 13 charges of criminal sexual conduct
“A former Jackson Lumen Christi High School priest in Jackson was arraigned on 13 charges of criminal sexual conduct in district court Thursday (May 27) morning. James Rapp, 75, is charged with three counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct and 10 counts of second-degree criminal sexual conduct for alleged sexual assaults against several boys in the 1980s.” By Theresa Ghiloni, MLive.com


Richard Geary: Catholic priest took advantage of innocence
“I was 12 years old when our local priest molested me. I thought I was younger at the time, but the lawyers who deposed me said he arrived in Helmville in 1959, so I had to have been 12 when it happened.” By Richard Geary, Missoulian

List of priests accused of sex abuse includes one believed to be murder victim
“When the Roman Catholic Diocese of Helena in April posted the names of 80 former employees, most of them priests and nuns, who had allegedly sexually abused children in western Montana, it also shook the dust on a 31-year-old murder mystery in Lake County. Among the priests placed on the list of alleged child sexual predators was Father John Kerrigan.” By Vince Devlin, Missoulian, on RavalliRepublic.com


Nevada high court overturns $500K award in priest abuse case
“The Nevada Supreme Court has overturned a $500,000 jury award to a man who said he was groped in 1984 as a 13-year-old by a Catholic priest who had a history of sexual abuse in Wisconsin before being sent to a Las Vegas parish.” By Ken Ritter, Associated Press, in Santa Fe New Mexican


To protect N.J.’s kids, Senate must expand statute of limitations on sex abuse lawsuits
“Imagine living in a state ranked in the bottom half of the country in protecting victims of child sexual abuse and letting molesters off the hook. Believe it or not, if New Jersey is your home, you live in such a state, according to an analysis of all 50 states by SOL-Reform.com. This doesn’t have to be the case. New Jersey should be leading the charge on this issue.” Commentary by Mai Fernandez, New Jersey Star Ledger


Horace Mann report shows why New York state needs to reform statute of limitations in sex abuse cases
“Attorney Kevin Mulhearn has been battling for sexual abuse victims for years … In the following column, Mulhearn explains why New York lawmakers should pass the Child Victims Act. The bill sponsored by Assemblywoman Margaret Markey (D-Queens) calls for the elimination of criminal and civil statutes of limitations for future child abuse victims; it would also open up a one-year window for victims of past crimes to pursue criminal and civil cases.” By Michael O’Keefe, Daily News
More than 60 Assembly members want a chance to vote on Child Victims Act, By Jackie Davis, The Legislative Gazette


Suspended Chester Country priest pleads guilty to child pornography charges
“A suspended Chester County priest pleaded guilty Monday (June 8) to federal child pornography counts and charges of destroying evidence. Mark Haynes, 56, previously of SS. Simon and Jude Parish in Westtown, admitted trading hundreds of pornographic images of children over Instagram and enticing teenage girls he met online to send him explicit photos of themselves.” By Jeremy Roebuck, Philadelphia Inquirer
Suspended Catholic priest pleads guilty in child porn case, By Associated Press on Cruxnow.com


Ex-priest wants new child sexual abuse trial
“A former East Tennessee priest wants his child sexual abuse conviction thrown out and a new trial granted. That’s what lawyers for William Casey filed motions for in a state appeals court, Wednesday (June 3). They claim his attorneys were ineffective during his trial, so the conviction should be overturned.” By Lenny Cohen, WCYB-TV5


Suit claims sexual abuse, cover-up by San Antonio Archdiocese
“A salacious civil lawsuit, accusing the San Antonio catholic archdiocese and two high profile priests of sexual abuse and the following cover-up, has been filed in Bexar County.” By WOIA-AM


Catholic cops involved in cover-up of child abuse by priests
“In recent times senior police have condemned leaders of the Catholic Church for failure to co-operate with investigations into sexual assaults by clergy members … But the terrible truth is that for decades police were part of the problem, with key officers actively working for the church and against fellow officers investigating rogue priests.” By John Silvester, The Standard

St. Ann’s Special School abuse: Royal commission finds school, Catholic Church, police failed abused children
“A number of failings by St Ann’s Special School, the police and Catholic Church have been found by an inquiry examining the sexual abuse of a number of intellectually disabled students. About 30 students were sexually abused by bus driver Brian Perkins in the late 1980s and early ’90s. But it was not until 2003 that he was convicted of abusing three children. The abuse often went unreported because most of his victims could not speak.” By ABC News Australia
Catholic Church responds to Royal Commission’s findings into Saint Ann’s Special School abuse, By ABC News Australia

Ballarat Diocese ma struggle to meet abuse claims, says bishop
“The Ballarat Diocese might not be able meet the claims it faces for widespread child sexual abuse by clergy, Bishop Paul Bird told the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse on Friday (May 29) By CathNews.com

Pedophile Gerald Risdale admits another priest ‘may have seen abuse’
Convicted paedophile Gerald Ridsdale has been questioned over the sexual abuse of a young girl in a house he shared with George Pell, Australia’s most senior Catholic cleric …The judge in the case remarked in sentencing that ‘this complainant believes another priest was present for a short time while you were sexually assaulting her and must have been aware of the assault but did not intervene.’” By Oliver Milman, The Guardian


Calls to extend abuse inquiry may grow
“Victims and the groups that represent them have been cautious about the announcement that Susan O’Brien QC will lead the Scottish National Inquiry into historic child abuse, set up by the Scottish Government. The remit of the inquiry is to examine abuse of children in formal institutions, such as children’s homes. Crucially while that will include homes run by churches, the inquiry will not cover abuse in more general faith settings.” By Herald Scotland

Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor memoirs ‘censored’ by church
“The Catholic church has been accused of pressuring one of its senior figures to censor extracts of his memoirs relating to a sexual abuse scandal. Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor, the former leader of the church in England and Wales, is said to have been forced to cut chunks from his new book relating to the crisis in his ministry in which he failed to report a paedophile priest to the police and let him continue working. The clergyman, Michael Hill, was later jailed twice for sexually assaulting young victims.” By Ed Salter and Haroon Siddique, The Guardian


184 new allegations of historic abuse by Catholic clergy raised in last year
“Dozens of new allegations or suspicions of historic abuse by Catholic clergy have been raised with a national watchdog in the past year. The National Board for Safeguarding of Children in the Catholic Church in Ireland (NBSCCCI) says the allegations concern physical, sexual and emotional abuse.” By Irish Examiner


Former Catholic priest faces historic sex charges
“A former Catholic priest, now living in Nelson, has been charged with historic sex offences, including indecently assaulting young girls and rape. Peter Joseph Hercock, 71, a former chaplain at Sacred Heart College in Lower Hutt and administrator at a Nelson school, appeared in the Nelson District Court last week (June 5).” By Jonathan Carson, Stuff.co.nz