Voice of the Faithful Focus, June 26, 2015

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


Catholic archbishop and aide resign in Minnesota over sexual abuse scandal
“The Roman Catholic archbishop of St. Paul and Minneapolis and a deputy bishop resigned on Monday (June 15) after prosecutors recently charged the archdiocese with having failed to protect youths from abuse by pedophile priests. In statements released Monday morning, the archbishop, John C. Nienstedt, and an auxiliary bishop, Lee A. Piché, said they were resigning to help the archdiocese heal.” By Mark S. Getzfred and Mitch Smith, The New York Times
Twin Cities archbishop resigns after charges of abuse coverup, By Jean Hopfensperger and Chao Xiong, Star Tribune
Nienstedt resignation: a first step toward healing, By Star Tribune Editorial Board
Archbishop Nienstedt resigns after sex abuse coverup charges against archdiocese, By Ines San Martin, Cruxnow.com
Archbishop Nienstedt resigns after Twin Cities archdiocese charged with failing children, By Joshua J. McElwee, National Catholic Reporter
U.S. archbishop quits after archdiocese charged with cover-up, By Nicole Winfield, Associated Press
Two Catholic U.S. bishops resign in child sex abuse scandal, By Isla Binnie, Reuters
Twin resignations in Twin Cities called ‘prudent move,’ ‘a painful process,’ By Brian Roewe, National Catholic Reporter

Vatican orders former Dominican Republic archbishop to stand trial on child abuse charges
In an unprecedented move, the Vatican on Monday (June 15) announced its former ambassador to the Dominican Republic, Jozef Wesolowski, would stand trial on charges he paid for sex with children. Wesolowski, 66, who had the title archbishop during his five-year post in Santo Domingo, the Dominican Republic capital, was recalled to the Vatican in 2013. He was later the first person to be arrested inside the Vatican on child abuse charges.” By Rosie Scammell, Religion News Service
Vatican sets trial for ex-ambassador accused of sexual abuse, By Laurie Goodstein, The New York Times

Editorial: Tribunal a new phase in abuse crisis
“Never before has the language describing the mishandling of these cases by bishops been so strong. It has been slow in coming and the steps taken are incremental, but there is little doubt that the Catholic church has entered a new phase in the decades-long crisis and scandal of clergy sexually abusing children. For the first time, there is clear evidence that the people’s cry for justice and action has reached the pope and his closest advisers. For the first time, there is clear evidence that bishops who perpetuated and extended this scandal by covering up, dismissing or ignoring abuse are going to be held accountable.” By National Catholic Reporter Editorial Staff

Vatican lays groundwork for discussions on family
“A working paper released on Tuesday (June 23) by the Vatican for a much-anticipated fall gathering of the world’s bishops laid the groundwork for fresh discussions on issues like the Roman Catholic Church’s ban on same-sex unions and the sacrament of communion for divorced Catholics who have remarried outside the church. By Elisabetta Povoledo, The New York Times


Bishops hear summary of U.S. synod consultation
“Amid updates on the pope’s coming U.S. trip, pending Supreme Court cases and immigration, bishops gathered here for their annual spring meeting also received a review of the top-10 plus two points made in the summary document sent to the Vatican for the upcoming Synod of Bishops on the family.” By Brian Roewe, National Catholic Reporter

U.S. Catholic bishops: Are we really following Francis?
“The nation’s Roman Catholic bishops engaged Thursday (June 11) in a rare public discussion about whether their priorities properly reflect those of Pope Francis, with one Church leader urging an emphasis on helping immigrants that’s at least as energetic as the bishops’ focus on religious freedom. The issue arose at the US Conference of Catholic Bishops’ mid-year assembly in St. Louis, where Church leaders considered their programming through the end of the decade.” By Rachel Zoll, Associated Press, on Cruxnow.com


Dozens of witnesses named in brief of evidence against Catholic Archbishop Philip Wilson
“A Newcastle court has heard there are around 40 witnesses in their case against Catholic Archbishop Philip Wilson, who has been charged with concealing child sexual abuse … The charge relates to when Wilson was an assistant parish priest in East Maitland in the 1970s, and worked with paedophile priest James Fletcher. By ABC News Australia

Editorial: Pope Francis makes right move in holding bishops accountable
“Pope Francis has taken an admirable if overdue step in creating a tribunal to deal with bishops accused of covering up for priests suspected of sexual abuse against children.” By The Tampa Tribune Editorial Staff

Will resignation be the end of the punishment for Finn and Nienstedt?
“On Monday (June 15), two more American bishops lost their jobs while facing charges of failing to respond appropriately to accusations of child abuse lodged against personnel under their supervision. More colloquially, they stepped down amid controversy related not to the crime, but the cover-up.” By John L. Allen, Jr., National Catholic Reporter

Holding bishops accountable
“It is hard to overstate the importance of Pope Francis’ decision to establish a standing tribunal at the Vatican to deal with bishops who fail to deal properly with charges of child sexual abuse against priests and other diocesan personnel.” By Mark Silk, Religion News Service

Vatican tribunal could audit at least 12 Irish bishops
“At least 12 of Ireland’s Catholic bishops may be subject to investigation by the new Vatican tribunal announced this week by Pope Francis. The tribunal will hold bishops to account where it is claimed they failed to protect children from sexual abuse by priests.” By Patsy McGarry, The Irish Times

Vatican tribunal ‘must deal retrospectively’ with abuse
“The new Vatican tribunal created by Pope Francis to deal with bishops who fail to protect children from being sexually abused by priests should deal retrospectively with past allegations of sexual abuse, says survivor Marie Collins. Ms. Collins, who is the only Irish member of the Vatican Commission for the Protection of Minors, told RTÉ’s Morning Ireland program that the main recommendations of the commission would focus on accountability for incidences of sexual abuse.” By Sorcha Pollak and Patsy McGarry, The Irish Times
Pope’s abuse tribunal should also lift the lid on historic cases, By Danny Sullivan, The Tablet

How the Vatican will hold bishops accountable on protection of minors
“For years, bishops’ accountability has been the missing element in the Vatican’s approach to sexual abuse by priests. Despite the many cases of mismanagement and negligence on the part of bishops who turned a blind eye or moved abusive priests from parish to parish, very few bishops have been removed from office. That’s because, until now, there was no systematic process for discipline and dismissal when such failures occurred.” By John Thavis on his blog, johnthavis.com

At long last Vatican to hold bishops to account over abuse
“Pope Francis has set up a special tribunal to deal with bishops who fail in their duties in dealing with questions of child protection. In so doing he is following the advice of the commission he set up to advise on matters of child protection and his own advisory commission of eight Cardinals. It needs hardly be said, but this is very welcome news indeed. And for several reasons.” By Fr. Alexander Lucie-Smith for Catholic Herald International on UCANews.com


We need a new way of choosing bishops
“Certain Catholics love to repeat ad nauseam that the church is not a democracy, especially when it comes to decision-making and the selection of leadership. And thank God it is not. Nor should it aspire to be if the democratic model is the dysfunctional political and electoral system at work in places like the United States. But that doesn’t mean all is well with the way the Roman church makes its pastoral-administrative decisions, discerns the call of the Spirit, or chooses its bishops. Quite the contrary.” By Robert Mickens, National Catholic Reporter


Kilmore bishop wants Church to consider married priests
“Bishop Leo O’Reilly has said he is ‘liaising’ with other bishops with a view to setting up a commission to discuss the possibility of ordaining married men to the priesthood as well as appointing female deacons. Bishop O’Reilly is making the proposal as a result of a 10-month listening process in his Kilmore diocese which led to a diocesan assembly and a new diocesan pastoral plan to tackle challenges facing the Church, including a declining number of priests.” By The Irish Catholic
Bishop calls for married men to be ordained, By Leitrim Observer
Irish bishop seeks to discuss possibility of ordaining married men, By Michael Kelly, Catholic News Service, in National Catholic Reporter

It’s time to reset our pastoral strategy: ordain married men
“Holy Thursday commemorated the day Jesus ‘conferred his priesthood on his Apostles’ (Chrism Mass). Most of those apostles were probably married. In doing so, Jesus effected a pastoral reset. That memory suggests the Church in the US could use a strategic pastoral reset and ordaining married men needs to be part of it. For our current strategy seems headed toward catastrophe — sacramental drought and Eucharistic starvation.” By Rev. Bernard R. Bonnot, Special to Cruxnow.com


No new ground in Vatican family document
“The Vatican has set the stage for more debate on hot-button issues like gays, remarried Catholics and unmarried couples living together by publishing the working document for its meeting on family issues. The document released Tuesday (June 23) breaks no major ground on the most divisive issues, although it offers some nuances that may prove key when bishops gather in October for the three-week synod.” By Nicole Winfield, Associated Press, in U.S. News & World Report
Catholic church must nurture family life, married couples tell bishops, By Patricia Rice, St. Louis Public Radio
New family synod document a mixture of welcome, criticism of modern life, By Joshua J. McElwee, National Catholic Reporter
Vatican road map for fall meeting on families features roadblocks, too, By Rosie Scammell, Religion News Service
Outreach to gay couples not on agenda for Vatican meeting, By Philip Pullella, Reuters
Synod guiding document: families need the Church’s message of mercy, By Elise Harris, Catholic News Agency
Presentation of the Instrumentum Laboris of the Synod: “The vocation and the mission of the family in the Church and contemporary World,” On VIS.va

European church gears up for battle at Vatican’s family synod
“When Catholic bishops from Eastern Europe met in Slovakia in May to coordinate a strategy for next October’s Synod of Bishops on the family, it was the latest sign of a looming feud over key areas of church teaching. Though widely seen as pitting conservative and liberal church leaderships against each other, preparations for the synod are also stoking local conflicts in Europe, as bishops, priests and laypeople weigh in with appeals and demands.” By Jonathan Luxmoore, National Catholic Reporter

Synod appointments promise October fireworks
“A Belgian bishop who has called on the Church to welcome same-sex couples will get to bring his case straight to Pope Francis. The Vatican announced Tuesday (June 16) that Bishop Johan Bonny of Antwerp will serve as a delegate to October’s Synod on the Family. His appointment adds intellectual heft and star power to the liberal flank of bishops pushing for the Church to change how it approaches Catholics living in “irregular situations.” By Michael O’Loughlin, Cruxnow.com

Polish bishops vow to resist change at synod on the family
“Poland’s Catholic bishops have pledged to resist changes to Catholic teaching on marriage and family life at October’s synod on the family at the Vatican and rejected demands for reform by German-speaking Catholics. “Polish Church delegates will certainly stick to the understanding of Popes Paul VI and John Paul II,” said Msgr Jozef Kloch, spokesman for the Polish bishops’ conference.” By Jonathan Luxmoore, Catholic Herald

Synod. Africa’s hour
“They were five cardinals and forty-five bishops from as many African countries who met in Accra, the capital of Ghana, from June 8-11. All in the clear light of day, not almost in secret like some of their colleagues from Germany, France, and Switzerland, who had gathered a few days before at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome. But while at the Gregorian the objective was changing the Church’s stance on divorce and homosexuality, in Accra the push was in the other direction.” By Sandro Magister, L’Espresso


Vatican abuse tribunal has much work to do
“Even for an institution that measures its history in centuries, not decades, the Vatican’s move toward sanctions against bishops who cover up for pedophile priests seems glacial. So when news arrived last week (week of June 8) that Pope Francis has approved the creation of a church tribunal to do just that, embracing the recommendations of a papal commission led by Boston’s archbishop, Cardinal Sean P. O’Malley, you could imagine a Greek chorus of abuse victims responding: ‘It’s about time.’” By Thomas Farragher, Columnist, The Boston Globe

More smoke and mirrors from the Vatican on child sexual abuse
“Cardinal Desmond Connell, the former archbishop of Dublin, told the Murphy commission in Ireland that mental reservation was deceiving someone without telling a lie. He said it is permissible to use ‘an ambiguous expression realizing that the person who you are talking to will accept an untrue version of whatever it may be.’ There is an exquisite piece of mental reservation in a recent announcement from the Vatican.’” By Kieran Tapsell, National Catholic Reporter

Fall from grace: Why Nienstedt had so little support among Twin Cities Catholics
“The letters began arriving shortly before John Nienstedt was appointed archbishop in 2008: clean up or be shut down. It was the least that his predecessor, Archbishop Harry Flynn, could do: play the good cop; warn the rebellious parishes in the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis before the bad cop arrived. Nienstedt seemed to relish the bad-cop role.” By Tim Gihring, MinnPost.com

Editorial: Pope Francis a partner in Chicago Archdiocese reforms
“The Archdiocese of Chicago has made great strides in confronting the scandal of child sexual abuse by clergy. But the Roman Catholic Church’s failings of the past, here and elsewhere — the way in which bishops looked away for decades — cannot be denied. Only when bishops are held to account as fully as the priests they supervise can there be confidence this scandal will never come roaring back.” By Chicago Sun-Times Editorial Board


Priests needed: As Church growth explodes worldwide, parishes can’t keep up
“The global Catholic population is growing – so quickly, in fact, that priest and parish numbers cannot keep up, says a new study on trends in the worldwide Church. And this poses a challenge: With an overall growth in the number of Catholics, especially in Africa and Asia, but not enough growth in the number of parishes and priests to supplement it, there are fewer opportunities for Catholics to receive the sacraments and participate in their parishes.” By Catholic World Report


Conservatives who elected Francis driven by need for reform
“The English-speaking conservatives, including Cardinal George Pell, who elected Pope Francis were united by the notion that the Curia had to be cleared out. They wanted to break the nexus between the Vatican’s finances and Italy’s economic and political powers.” By CathNews.com


Vatican cardinal may have diverted funds going to children’s hospital
“Italian magistrates suspect a Vatican cardinal may have diverted 30 million euros in state funds destined for a children’s hospital to save a Church-owned institution and kept the operation from Pope Francis, Italian media reported Saturday.” By Reuters in Bangor Daily News
Cardinal Gisueppe Versaldi embroiled in $43m financial scandal, By The Australian

Nienstedt’s resignation could boost church donations
“The resignation of Archbishop John Nienstedt could boost donations to the Catholic Church in the Twin Cities, where many parishioners have grown frustrated by his handling of allegations of sexual abuse by priests. Nienstedt resigned Monday (June 15) following two years of damaging revelations about the failure of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis to protect children from sexual abuse by priests.” By Martin Moylan, Minnesota Public Radio

Vatican and U.S. sign historic agreement to go after tax evaders
“The United States on Wednesday (June 10) signed an agreement with the Vatican to trace American taxpayers hiding assets within the walls of the city-state, the latest step in the Holy See’s push for greater financial transparency.” By Rosie Scammell, The Washington Post
Forget confessional: Vatican adopts FATCA, helps IRS track offshore accounts, By Robert W. Wood, Forbes


Francis again rejects women as heads of Vatican offices
“Pope Francis has again publicly indicated he is not considering appointing women to leadership positions in the nearly all-male Vatican bureaucracy, saying to do so would be to promote a ‘functionalism’ of women’s roles in the Catholic church.” By Joshua J. McElwee, National Catholic Reporter

Women deacons for Ireland?
“The good news: Kilmore, Ireland, Bishop Leo O’Reilly wants the Irish bishops’ conference to study women deacons. The bad news: The news reports misrepresent the latest Vatican statement on women deacons. Whatever will we do about the folks who fall down in a dead faint whenever you say ‘woman’ and ‘ordination’ in the same sentence?” By Phyllis Zagano, National Catholic Reporter


How Twin Cities archdiocese leaders handled the sexual abuse case
“When Archbishop John Nienstedt resigned last week as leader of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis, Ramsey County Attorney John Choi said he’d ‘allow the facts to lead the way’ in his ongoing investigation into an alleged cover-up of sexual abuse. Choi filed criminal charges against the archdiocese as a corporation this month, and hasn’t ruled out charges against individuals if evidence warrants. So far, that hasn’t happened.” By Amy Forliti, Associated Press on Cruxnow.com

An isolated Nienstedt tried to limit investigation into himself
“On April 10, 2014 — seven months into the clergy sex abuse scandal — Archbishop John Nienstedt’s top advisers gathered for a private meeting. They had just received several affidavits from an internal investigation of Nienstedt that had been authorized by the archbishop himself to address damaging rumors. The sworn statements accused Nienstedt of inappropriate behavior, according to people who read them, including sexual advances toward at least two.” By Madeleine Baran, Minnesota Public Radio

Dutch Catholic Church to offer more abuse victims compensation
“The Dutch Catholic church plans to offer other victims of sexual abuse, whose cases have not been formalized, some form of compensation, the Volkskrant reports on Wednesday (June 17). The committee investigating the abuse has determined that 250 cases are not proven, mainly because there were no other complaints about the priest concerned.” By DutchNews.nl


Man sues convicted, defrocked Chicago priest, alleging past abuse
“A former Chicago priest is facing new allegations from a man who says the convicted, defrocked priest abused him as a boy, according to court records. The lawsuit, filed Friday (June 12) in Cook County court, claims Norbert Maday sexually abused the Cook County man, identified only as John Doe, when he was a student at St. Bede the Venerable in Chicago, starting in 1979 when Doe was a 10-year-old altar boy.” By Lauren Zumbach, Chicago Tribune


Former bishop sued over failure to supervise priest accused of abuse
“A former Bay State bishop is being sued by two men who say he negligently oversaw a priest who allegedly sexually abused them repeatedly for nearly a decade. Former Bishop of the Fall River Diocese Daniel A. Cronin is being accused of failing to appropriately supervise the late Rev. Monsignor Maurice Souza. Paul Andrews and Daniel Sherwood, the two men who brought the suit, say they were abused as minors by Souza while they were parishioners of St. Anthony Parish in East Falmouth more than 30 years ago.” By Bob McGovern, Boston Herald


Sex, lies and leadership: What we learn from the sex offender program and Catholic sex abuse coverup
“Two Minnesota stories converged last week. In the first, a federal judge declared the Minnesota Sex Offender Program (MSOP) unconstitutional; the second was John Nienstedt’s resignation as archbishop of the MSP Catholic diocese. Together, they tell a story of sex (power), lies (deception and coverup), and leadership (bureaucracy and shirking of responsibility) with equally tragic tales and little to praise in terms of the political or religious leaders of the state of Minnesota and the Catholic Church.” By David Schultz, MinnPost.com Commentary

Priest convicted of sex abuse of Minnesota teen gets time served, faces deportation to India
“A Catholic priest who pleaded guilty last month to criminal sexual misconduct has been essentially sentenced to time served. The Rev. Joseph Jeyapaul was sentenced Monday (June 15) to a year and a day in prison in connection with the 2005 abuse of a teenage girl. But he’s been in custody since March 2012, and was given credit for time served. He now faces deportation to India.” By Associated Press in Star Tribune


Charges dropped against St. Louis priest accused of abuse
“Criminal charges against the Rev. Xiu Hui ‘Joseph’ Jiang — a Roman Catholic priest with close ties to Archbishop Robert Carlson who has been twice accused of sexual abuse — have been dismissed. In a statement, prosecutors within the St. Louis circuit attorney’s office said they had on Tuesday (June 16) dismissed the charges against Jiang, saying only that ‘the state is unable to proceed at this time.’” By Lily Fowler, St. Louis Post-Dispatch


Sex abuse bill again flounders in New York State Legislature
“Before taking its annual summer recess, lawmakers in the New York State Senate and Assembly are working to wrap up several important legislative matters, rather than leaving them for resolution when they return. On Friday (June 12), it was reported that despite a record number of sponsors, the initiative to revamp the state’s statute of limitations for minors who were victimized in sexual abuse cases has met resistance in the state house.” By Tom DeMarco, The Jewish Voice


Priest jailed in Bahamas cruise sex abuse case
“A former Roman Catholic priest was sentenced on Thursday (June 18) to 11 years in prison for taking a teenage boy on a cruise ship vacation to the Bahamas with the intent to engage in illegal sexual conduct.” By Associate Press on Tribune242.com


Victim files lawsuit against El Paso Catholic Diocese
“A man who says he’s the victim of a pedophile priest filed a lawsuit against the El Paso Catholic Diocese. The alleged victim said he was sexually molested by Father Denis Tejada, when he was 10 and 11 years old in the 1970s.” By KFOX14-TV


Pedophile Brother Francis Cable jailed over sexual abuse of Marist Brothers students
“One of the state’s worst Catholic school paedophiles, who brutally raped and assaulted at least 17 vulnerable boys over the course of 15 years, is set to die in jail after being sentenced to a maximum of 16 years’ jail.” By Paul Bibby, The Sydney Morning Herald

Catholic Church in WA launches safeguarding project in response to child sexual abuse
“The Catholic Archbishop of Perth says a new project to protect children from child abuse is his major priority during his time in the role. Archbishop Timothy Costelloe said the Safeguarding Project, believed to be the first of its kind nationally, has been launched in response to what he described as the “terrible scandal of sexual abuse of children” in the care of the Catholic Church.” By Natasha Harradine, ABC News Australia

Australian bishops ‘won’t be investigated’ by Vatican until after royal commission
“A Vatican tribunal to judge bishops accused of covering up child sex abuse is unlikely to investigate any Australian bishops until after the royal commission has concluded, the church’s Truth, Justice and Healing Council says … The commission is expected to conclude its public hearings in early 2017, with a final report due on 15 December of that year.” By Jane Lee, The Sydney Morning Herald


Paul-Andre Harvey, retired priest, pleads guilty to dozens of sex-related charges
“Retired Catholic priest Paul-André Harvey pleaded guilty in a Chicoutimi court on Tuesday (June 16) to sexual offences involving approximately 40 victims. The 78-year-old man from the diocese of Chicoutimi admitted to committing the acts over a span of four decades. Most victims were between the ages of six and 12.” By CBC News, Montreal


Brendan Smyth may have abused more than 200 children
“The Historical Institutional Abuse (HIA) inquiry in the North heard on Monday (June 22) that pedophile priest Brendan Smyth admitted that he could have sexually abused more than 200 children during his period in the religious life. Junior counsel for the inquiry Joseph Aiken said that new information had emerged from its investigations about Smyth including how after his arrest he told a doctor in 1994 that more than 200 children may have been abused by him.” By Gerry Moriarty, The Irish Times
Brendan Smyth denied his abuse had damaged Catholic Church, By Gerry Moriarty, The Irish Times

Vatican summons Irish bishops to explain role in pedophile scandals
“Several Irish bishops may soon find themselves having to explain to their bosses why they ignored or covered up the sexual abuse of children. The disclosure of the secret shame of the Catholic Church in Ireland has already been massive and shocking, but far from complete. Now the Vatican itself is poised to summon at least 12 Irish bishops to explain themselves before a tribunal.” By Malachi O’Doherty, Belfast Telegraph

Catholic Church still receiving new sex abuse claims
Allegations of child sex abuse have been made against five more Catholic priests from the country’s largest diocese. The new claims came as Archbishop Diarmuid Martin admitted he was still not satisfied that all clergy were doing enough to protect children and survivors of abuse. ‘The culture of safeguarding is not evenly embedded across the Church and that is a cause of concern,’ he said.” By Caroline O’Doherty, Irish Examiner


Former Catholic priest Peter Hercock pleads not guilty to historic sex charges
“A former Catholic priest, now living in Nelson, has pleaded not guilty to historic charges of raping and sexually violating former pupils of a girls’ school. Peter Joseph Hercock, 71, a former chaplain at Sacred Heart College in Lower Hutt and administrator at a Nelson school, entered the not guilty pleas through his lawyer in the Nelson District Court on Tuesday (June 23).” By Jonathan Carson, Stuff.co.nz