Voice of the Faithful Focus, Mar. 13, 2020


Vatican sends top two sex crimes investigators to Mexico
“The Vatican is sending its top two sex crimes investigators to Mexico on a fact-finding and assistance mission as the Catholic hierarchy in the world’s second-largest Catholic country begins to reckon with decades of clergy sex abuse and cover-up. Archbishop Charles Scicluna and Monsignor Jordi Bertomeu teamed up in 2018 to investigate the Chilean church and its wretched record of protecting pedophile priests — a bombshell expose that resulted in every active Chilean bishop offering to resign.” By Nicole Winfield and Maria Verza, Associated Press

Papal task force to help bishops, religious write, revise abuse guidelines
“Pope Francis has set up a task force of qualified experts and canon lawyers to help bishops’ conferences and congregations of men and women religious with drawing up or revising guidelines for the protection of minors. The Vatican will also be releasing — at an ‘imminent,’ but unspecified date — a handbook or vademecum, prepared by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, to help bishops and religious superiors clearly understand their responsibilities and the procedures for handling allegations of abuse.” By Carol Glatz, Catholic News Service, in The Pilot

L’Arche founder’s printed legacy damaged in sex-abuse report
“Revelations that Jean Vanier, the founder of L’Arche, sexually abused at least six women continues to reverberate throughout the Roman Catholic and wider church world. Vanier, who died in 2019 at age 90, wrote 30 books. Christian bookstores and publishers are among those dealing with the fallout of last month’s report on Vanier’s ‘manipulative sexual relationships.’ In Winnipeg, Stephanchew’s Church Goods took the only book by Vanier in the store off its shelves.” By John Longhurst, Winnipeg Free Press

West Virginia Catholics turn to ‘restorative justice’ I wake of bishop revelations
“More than one hundred West Virginians ranging from victim-survivors to key diocesan officials gathered at Wheeling University last week to learn how restorative justice practices might bring healing to their scandal-plagued Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston. Following Bishop Michael Bransfield’s resignation in September of 2018, West Virginians gradually learned about extensive allegations of sexual harassment and financial abuse during his thirteen-year tenure … Against that backdrop, participants at last week’s conference explored the theological and biblical foundations for the use of restorative justice.” By Nick Mayrand, Cruxnow.com

Dozens of Catholic priests credibly accused of abuse found work abroad, some with the Church’s blessing
“The Rev. Jose Antonio Pinal, a young priest from Mexico, arrived at his first parish in rural Northern California in 1980, fresh out of seminary … Thirty years later, in the spring of 2019, the Diocese of Sacramento put Pinal’s name on its list of credibly accused priests. The list had five allegations of sexual abuse against Pinal dating to the late 1980s. Pinal had ‘fled to Mexico,’ according to the list, and the diocese had prohibited him from performing priestly work in public in the 20 counties that make up the diocese. But an investigation by ProPublica and the Houston Chronicle shows the Catholic Church allowed or aided dozens of priests — including Pinal — to serve abroad as priests after being credibly accused of abuse in the United States.” By Katie Zavadski, Topher Sanders, ProPublica, and Nicole Hensley, Houston Chronicle


A year later, Catholic Church checks progress on abuse
“Since Pope Francis convened a historic summit at the Vatican one year ago to address clergy sex abuse and accountability, much has been done, but advocates say more is needed. Dozens of experts, abuse survivors and their advocates came to Rome the same week as the summit’s anniversary to emphatically reiterate the need to never let ignorance, complacency or denial ever take hold again and to make the Church safe for everyone.” By Carol Glatz, Catholic News Service, in Arkansas Catholic

Pope lets French cardinal embroiled in abuse cover-up resign
“Pope Francis on Friday (Mar. 6) accepted the resignation of a French cardinal who was convicted and then acquitted of covering up for a pedophile priest in a case that fueled a reckoning over clergy sexual abuse in France. Lyon Cardinal Philippe Barbarin, 69, had offered to resign when the Lyon court in March 2019 first convicted him and gave him a six-month suspended sentence for failing to report the predator priest to police.” By Nicole Winfield, Associated Press, on WSLS-TV10 News

Leading Catholic figure Francis Sullivan calling for changes after sex abuse crisis
“LEADING Catholic figure Francis Sullivan has criticized Church authorities for a ‘glaring lack of moral leadership’ over the child sex abuse crisis and has called for the Church to change its ‘terms of engagement’ if it is to remain relevant and engaged in Australia. ‘Unless we break the shackles of entitlement and cronyism, become inclusive and more representative in our decision-making we risk losing any claim to renewal and reform,’ Mr Sullivan, former chief executive officer of the Catholic Church’s Truth, Justice and Healing Council, told the biennial Catholic Social Services national conference in Melbourne on February 27.” By Mark Bowling, The Catholic Leader

Turning the abuse crisis discussion to deeper themes
“Two Catholic leaders recently turned the discussion about the crisis in the church away from a focus on institutional change to the less measurable work of transformation, the significance of relationships and the need for members of the hierarchy to confront that culture’s past. Sr. Carol Zinn, a member of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Philadelphia and executive director of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, and Archbishop Charles Scicluna of Malta, widely considered one of the most significant forces in revealing the truth of the sex abuse crisis, advanced their ideas in separate interviews.” By Tom Roberts, National Catholic Reporter

Vanier abuse revelations prompt Catholic soul-searching
“When news went public last week that Jean Vanier, the renowned Canadian theologian who transformed the way the world views the disabled, had sexually abused several women seeking his spiritual counsel, the revelations provoked not just shock, but also serious reflection. Given that the news was so unexpected from a figure such as Vanier, many Catholic experts and admirers pondered deep questions, such as just how widespread this form of manipulative abuse of adults is within the Catholic Church; the speed at which such towering figures as Vanier are popularly declared as saints; as well as the complex intersection of sin and virtue, as Vanier is someone who clearly exhibited both deviance and inspiration.” By Elise Ann Allen, Cruxnow.com, in Angelus


Pope Francis’ diplomatic triumph with U.S. bishops
“For some time, a narrative has developed among Catholic pundits and observers suggesting that Pope Francis and the bishops of the United States do not get along with each other. While much of that narrative has been a creation of media spin, relationships between the U.S. bishops and the Holy See did, in fact, decline in recent years amid the real tension occasioned by the McCarrick scandal.” By Ed Condon, Catholic News Agency

Father James Alison on how Pope Francis is changing the church
“Imagine picking up the phone only to hear Pope Francis’ voice on the other line. It seems almost absurd, yet this is what happened to me a couple of years ago. After a senior member of the Brazilian church hierarchy sought to have me forcibly laicized (which I have written about in further detail elsewhere), Pope Francis called me to confirm my vocation to the priesthood.” By James Alison, U.S. Catholic


Cupich on new Catholic Church abuse protection task force: ‘regaining trust has to begin with a profound sense of responsibility
“In their first interview since Pope Francis named them among the leaders of a new worldwide task force on sexual abuse protections, Cardinal Blase Cupich and the Rev. Hans Zollner this week sketched out how they plan to help Catholic leaders across the world comply with new protection guidelines. The task force was created by Francis to help bishops write new local guidelines to adhere to universal church rules issued last year.” By Javonte Anderson, Chicago Tribune


The word is George Pell will walk free … but first the high court must have its say
“The word around the bars is: George Pell will walk free. These barristers don’t have a heads up. They’re only talking among themselves. But those who have followed this prosecution as it has made its slow and dramatic way to the high court must face the possibility that the cardinal is about to be acquitted. Historic child sex assaults make difficult cases. The facts are frequently bizarre. So often there is no corroborating evidence and the word of the accuser is simply pitted against the denials of the accused. These trials test the criminal law.” By David Marr, The Guardian


Philippine bishops say abuse of women is an ‘affront to God’
“The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines has highlighted the value of women, noting that abuse of women is ‘an affront to God.’ ‘God made man and woman according to his own image and likeness. Every offense against the dignity of women is a direct offense against God himself,’[ said Bishop Crispin Varquez of Borongan, chairman of the CBCP’s Commission on Women.” By Catholic News Agency


Study finds more than 50 accused priests active outside U.S.
“A new analysis of diocesan lists of priests credibly accused of sexual abuse in the United States finds that more than 50 such clerics have been able to continue in ministry in another country, including work with minors, suggesting global gaps in the Church’s response to the abuse crisis. The findings, published jointly last week by ProPublica and the Houston Chronicle, is a follow-up to an investigative effort commenced last year and published in January that includes the launch of an independent database listing nearly 6,000 priests accused of abuse in America.” By Christopher White, Cruxnow.com

Whistle-blower priest seeks lifting of suspension imposed by disgraced bishop
“As Bishop Edward Scharfenberger, the temporary leader of the Diocese of Buffalo, considers whether to reinstate a whistleblower priest, further questions have emerged about both whistleblower protections and potential conflicts of interest regarding the priest in question. Father Ryszard Biernat last year secretly recorded private conversations with Bishop Richard Malone in which the now disgraced bishop raised serious questions about his handling of abuse cases and diocesan personnel matters – including a matter involving Biernat himself.” By Christopher White, Cruxnow.com


Women deacons possible after ‘Synodal Way,’ says German bishops’ chairman
“The new chairman of the German bishops’ conference has said that calling for the ordination of women could be a conclusion of the two-year ‘synodal way’ being undertaken by the Church in Germany. Bishop Georg Bätzing of Limburg said in a radio interview Monday (Mar. 9) for International Women’s Day that such a conclusion would require Roman approval.” By Bishop Georg Bötzing of Limburg, Catholic San Francisco

What we can learn from the women deacons of the early Eastern Christian church
“The earliest period of Christianity flourished with great attention to the members of the community, with great care shown for women in the church. The New Testament demonstrates concern for the widows as well as the general well-being of women. The nascent Christian community worked assiduously to continue to spread the message of Jesus Christ and to develop ways of continuing to realize His mystery in their midst.” By Sean Salai, S.J., America: The Jesuit Review


Catholic women seek changes in policies, practices of church
“On International Women’s Day on Sunday (Mar. 8), women have demanded equality in the Catholic Church of India. In a memorandum submitted to Cardinal Oswald Gracias, the Archbishop of Bombay who is also the president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India and advisor to Pope Francis, women have called for a prophetic church where their voices count, and demanded respect from the clergy in their communication.” By Jyoti Shelar, The Hindu

Germany: women demand more sway in Catholic Church
“Catholic women in Germany have intensified their demand for more sway in the church as leaders met on Tuesday to elect a new leader of the Catholic Church in Germany. Women’s rights advocates on Monday (Mar. 2) had presented church leaders at the German Bishops Conference —the governing body of the Catholic Church in Germany — with a petition with over 130,000 signatures calling for more women in leadership roles. More than 50 women also gathered outside the cathedral in the western city of Mainz, where the conference is taking place, to show their support for the movement coined ‘Maria 2.0.’ By Deutsche-Welle


Clergy and laity share ‘co-responsibility’ if Church, bishop says
“Caggiano recounted this story at a session of the ‘Called and Co-Responsible: Exploring Co-Responsibility for the Mission of the Church’ conference, hosted by the McGrath Institute for Church Life at the University of Notre Dame on March 4-6. The three-day event is part of a series of programs hosted by Notre Dame as a response to the clergy sex abuse crisis in the Church. The talks at the event addressed different facets of “co-responsibility,” a phrase Pope Benedict XVI favored over “collaboration” to describe the relationship between laity and the clergy.” By Jack Lyons, Cruxnow.com


Who’s missing on the Vatican’s new abuse task force?
“Recently the Vatican announced Pope Francis has created a task force to help bishops’ conferences around the world address the clerical sex abuse crisis. The lineup is impressive, but much like a high-profile February 2019 summit on child protection, laypeople — women in particular — are the missing link. The eight-man lineup for the task force includes seven clerics, two of whom are regarded by all sides as part of the solution to the abuse crisis: Maltese Archbishop Charles Scicluna, once the Vatican’s top prosecutor on priestly abuse of minors; and German Father Hans Zollner, SJ, a member of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors and director of the Center for Child Protection of Rome’s Gregorian University.” By Inés San Martin, Cruxnow.com, on AngelusNews.com


Jury gets case of former Rapid City priest
“The trial of a former Rapid City Catholic priest accused of stealing from church collections is now in the hands of the jury. The jury got the case of 41-year old Marcin Garbacz after closing arguments Monday morning (Mar. 9). Garbacz is facing a total of 65 charges, including wire fraud, money laundering, transportation of stolen money and filing a false tax return. In his closing statement Monday, Assistant U.S. Attorney Benjamin Patterson told the jury that they believe Garbacz stole nearly $260,000 from parishes in the Rapid City Diocese, depositing the money in his bank account, then taking that money across state lines when he moved to Missouri and didn’t declare the money on his tax return.” By Jack Caudill, KOTA-TV News


No system ‘will ever by perfect’ but Church abuse prevention is improving
“According to one of the lay members of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, it would be ‘naïve’ to think that every case of abuse can be prevented, though much can be done to greatly reduce the number of cases and stop repeat offenders. ‘If we would expect that with all the guidelines we have in place we can prevent abuse 100 percent, we would be naïve,’ said Dr. Myriam Wijlens of the Netherlands. ‘We cannot prevent it in the Church in as much as we cannot prevent it in the Scouts or sports. No system will ever be perfect.’” By Inés San Martin, Cruxnow.com

The Protection of Minors meeting a year on: an Irish perspective
“It’s been a year since Church leaders, abuse survivors and experts came to the Vatican for an unprecedented summit entitled the ‘Protection of Minors in the Church.’ The meeting provided the opportunity to listen to victims, raise awareness, develop new norms and procedures, and share good practices. It also focused on three key themes: responsibility, accountability and transparency.” By Lydia O’Kane, Vatican News


Argentina’s Catholic numbers in sharp decline, following Latin American trend
“A recent national survey reports that the number of Catholics in Argentina is declining while the proportion of people without a religion is increasing, but analysts consider that the still-high percentage of people who believe in God—82 percent—is a sign that the church has an opportunity to prevent further losses in the South American country … Juan Cruz Esquivel is a professor at the University of Buenos Aires and a Conicet researcher. He was part of the team that conducted the study. ‘The 1960 census showed that Catholics represented 90 percent of the population in Argentina,’ he said, noting the figure dropped by almost 14 percentage points by 2008, “a period of 48 years,’ and experienced another 14 percentage-point drop by 2019, this time over a period of only 11 years.” By Eduardo Campos Lima, America: The Jesuit Review


Leadership Roundtable brings a dose of reality to the church
“No event planner could have orchestrated a scene that better explains the state of the church in the United States at this moment than the recent tableau that unfolded in a large ballroom in the Fairmont Hotel in Washington, D.C. Sponsored by the Leadership Roundtable, more than 260 people gathered in small groups at, appropriately enough, round tables for a by-invitation only discussion of some of the weightiest questions facing the U.S. church in the 21st century … Here in this kind of synodal space of the future, no one, not even the papal representative, voiced a public objection to the prevailing motivation for the gathering: the church is in crisis and needs help.By Tom Roberts, National Catholic Reporter

Healing the scars of scandal
“This Lent, perhaps more than ever, the critically wounded Catholic Church is being called to more deeply examine its dark side. The process of repentance and reform is both individual and communal, but time has taught us that the road to conversion also needs to be collaborative. All of us — including clergy, seminarians, sisters and brothers, and the laity — need to examine the church’s past and envision its future together and use our gifts to breathe life into a gasping institution.” By Pat McDonough, Newsday

Fully reckon with the harm caused to victims of childhood sexual abuse
“The Catholic prayer known as the ‘Act of Contrition’ is prayed when seeking forgiveness. The prayer says nothing about shielding oneself from the consequences of one’s sins. It’s a simple and penitential plea, an acceptance of responsibility and a resolution to do better. If only that had been the guiding principle of the Roman Catholic Church in its handling of priestly sexual abuse of children.” By The Sentinel-Journal Editorial Board


Lawmakers hear testimony on ending the Statute of Limitations on sex assault
“Victims of childhood sexual abuse urged lawmakers Tuesday (Mar.3) to eliminate the statute of limitations on sexual abuse. Children with that traumatic experience need time to heal before disclosing what happened and that is often longer than the current time limit for prosecution of 22 years, said Catherine Devine, Assistant Hillsborough County Attorney. ‘Closing the courthouse door on an arbitrary time limit does not change prosecution,’ Devine told the House Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee on Tuesday.” By Garry Rayno, InDepthNH.org

Outlier South Dakota Legislature again fails to protect children
“The South Dakota Legislature has again had the chance to vote to open the statute of limitation for survivors of child sexual abuse. The politicians again have voted it down, unlike 14 other states in the country. This is nothing new. They went so far in 2010 as to pass one of the most restrictive laws for survivors in the country. They do this despite examples of ongoing abuse such as at the St Paul’s Mission School. When will the South Dakota Legislature start protecting the children, not the predators?” By Mike Bryant, The Legal Examiner


Walking with ‘suffering Christ’ means standing with victims, priest says
“Jesuit Father Hans Zollner, one of the world’s leading experts on safeguarding minors, said the church is suffering ‘institutional trauma’ from clerical sexual abuse, trauma that it must learn to integrate into its theology and understanding of salvation if it is to overcome it. He visited the Archdiocese of Chicago March 1-3 to speak with seminarians, clergy and members of religious congregations on ‘The Present Status of Safeguarding in the Church,’ which also was the topic of his March 2 DePaul University talk.” By Michelle Martin, Catholic News Service, on CatholicPhilly.com

Survey of sex abuse victims hopes to dispel myths about survivors
“A survivor of sexual abuse is conducting what she believes is the first broad survey of victims of sexual abuse in the U.S. Catholic Church, with the hopes that the information will clarify and counteract common misperceptions about the survivor community. Among those myths: that all the victims are male and were abused by priests.” By Heidi Schlumpf, National Catholic Reporter

Notre Dame Forum examines Catholic laity’s role in responding to sex abuse crisis
“The 2019-20 Notre Dame Forum series, ‘Rebuild My Church: Crisis and Response,’ continues March 4-6 with a look at the relationship between clergy and laity in addressing the Catholic Church’s sexual abuse crisis. Called & Co-responsible will be an academic and pastoral conference hosted by the McGrath Institute for Church Life at the University of Notre Dame. Drawing upon Pope Benedict’s 2012 speech, the conference will address questions about the nature of leadership in the Church, and how lay people are not to be merely collaborators with the clergy, but are rather truly co-responsible for the Church’s being and activity.” By Anna Bradley, Notre Dame News


Accused priest in Rock Island sues Peoria Diocese: ‘I am innocent’
“Sometimes, John Onderko celebrates Mass alone in his home in Rock Island. Other times, he hears confessions from people who knew him from the old days, before he was barred from priestly duties by the Roman Catholic Church over sexual abuse allegations. A priest for 58 years, Onderko served from June 1981 through June 1993 at St. Mary’s in Moline, then was reassigned to LaSalle, Ill., and served at numerous other parishes in Illinois. Onderko, 83, no longer can publicly represent himself as a priest or engage in any priestly functions. Yet he maintains his innocence.” By Linda Cook, Quad City Times


Times-Picayune, three TV stations seek unsealing of records on accused predator priest
“The Times-Picayune | New Orleans Advocate and the city’s three leading television news outlets filed a motion Monday (Mar. 9) asking a judge to publicly release court records detailing the Archdiocese of New Orleans’ handling of a retired priest who stands accused of being a serial child molester. Attorneys for an alleged victim suing both the priest, Lawrence Hecker, and the archdiocese already have the documents in question, but the archdiocese has claimed the records are confidential and subject to a protective order preventing their release.” By Ramon Antonio Vargas, Nola.com

Retired New Orleans priest likened in court docs to notorious Boston clerical abuser
“A trove of still-hidden church documents show a retired New Orleans priest was ‘a serial pedophile’ who abused children for decades and was never reported to all relevant law enforcement authorities by Archdiocese of New Orleans officials, according to allegations in a court filing Monday (Mar. 2) by attorneys representing a person claiming to be one of the priest’s victims.” By Ramon Antonio Vargas, Nola.com


Former Michigan priest charged with additional child sexual abuse charges
“A former Catholic priest who allegedly abused his power to sexually abuse children while working in the Upper Peninsula was arraigned on more criminal sexual conduct charges on Tuesday, March 10. Gary Allen Jacobs, 74, was arraigned on two additional criminal sexual conduct cases that he reportedly committed in the early 1980s while serving as a priest under the Catholic Diocese of Marquette in the Upper Peninsula, the Michigan Department of Attorney General announced.” By Justine Lofton, MLive.com


Court approves $34 million clergy abuse settlement with New Ulm Diocese
“After tearful testimony by several survivors of clergy sexual abuse and a heartfelt apology from Bishop John LeVoir, the Catholic Diocese of New Ulm and area churches won approval Tuesday (Mar. 10) of a $34 million settlement with nearly 100 claimants. Just as important to the victims: The diocese agreed to adopt 17 protocols designed to protect children from abuse and to turn over its files on credibly accused priests.” By Dan Browning, Star Tribune


Witness testifies, third allegation presented against retired Catholic priest
“One witness took the stand and publicly testified to his allegations of being sexually assaulted by retired Catholic priest Fred Lutz at a bond hearing Monday. The retired priest was arrested Feb. 19 at his home in Springfield, Missouri, and charged with the unclassified felony of forcible sodomy, two class C felony counts of second-degree statutory sodomy and one class C felony count of sexual abuse.” By Ben Matthews, Southeast Missourian


Priest sexually abused me for years and N.J. diocese knew he was a danger, woman says in suit
“A New Jersey woman has filed a lawsuit against the Diocese of Camden accusing a priest of sexually abused her decades ago when she was a child while church officials allowed it to happen. Patricia Cahill, 67, of Bergen County, claims the Rev. Daniel Francis Marks Millard, sexually abused her from 1957 to 1965, according to the suit, filed Feb. 4 in Camden County Superior Court.” By Anthony G. Attrino, NJ Advance Media for NJ.com


Pope Francis accepts resignation of Buffalo’s Bishop Edward Grosz
“Pope Francis Monday (Mar. 2) accepted the resignation of Bishop Edward Grosz, the auxiliary bishop of Buffalo, who has been accused of mishandling a sex abuse allegation. Grosz, who turned 75 on February 16, offered his resignation at the age required by canon law. The Vatican’s March 2 announcement accepting Grosz’s resignation did not indicate whether it will conduct any investigation into the allegation against the bishop.” By Courtney Mares, Catholic News Agency

Buffalo Roman Catholic Diocese seeks bankruptcy protection
“The embattled Roman Catholic Diocese of Buffalo filed for bankruptcy protection Friday (Feb. 28), taking another major step in its effort to recover from a clergy misconduct scandal that’s been the basis for hundreds of lawsuits, Vatican intervention and the resignation of its bishop. With its filing in U.S. Bankruptcy Court, the western New York diocese became the second in the state to file for Chapter 11 reorganization, and one of more than 20 dioceses to seek bankruptcy protection nationwide. Most recently, the Roman Catholic Diocese of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, filed Feb. 19.” By Carolyn Thompson, Associated Press, in Citrus County Chronicle

New strategy includes suing parishes to get around Buffalo Diocese bankruptcy
“South Buffalo resident Dennis Archilla filed a childhood sex abuse lawsuit in September to expose the Buffalo Diocese for protecting a pedophile priest. ‘I wanted the public to know just how deep the deception is in the Catholic Church,’ Archilla said. Archilla believes that deception continued when the diocese on Friday (Feb. 28) filed for bankruptcy – effectively bringing his and more than 250 other Child Victims Act lawsuits to a grinding halt.” By Jay Tokasz, The Buffalo News


Charlotte Diocese adds two new names to list of clergy ‘credibly accuses’ of abuse
“The Catholic Diocese of Charlotte has made additions to a list of clergy it considers credibly accused of sexual abuse. The diocese initally published a list in late December that included 14 former clergy members and 23 clergy members who were assigned here but were accused elsewhere. The update on the diocese’s website includes two new names.” By Sarah Delia, WFAE-FM Public Radio


Ex-Fargo priest says he isn’t remorseful for sexually abusing kids
“A former Fargo priest says he is not remorseful for sexual assault incidents that happened dozens of years ago. New documents revealed his name, Martin Cullen, as well as 52 other North Dakota Catholic priests who were moved to other churches after being accused of sexually abusing minors. Three lawyers held a press conference in Fargo on Thursday (Mar. 5) stating they are making it their business to change state laws for victims of sexual abuse.” By Joshua Peguero, Valley News Live

Lawyers demand North Dakota Catholic dioceses ‘end cover-up of clergy abuse,’ release files
“Lawyers representing victims of sexual abuse by Catholic priests and other clerics released a report detailing the assignments of priests the church has identified as having been accused of sexual abuse and demanded the public release of church files. The lawyers provided information about the church assignments of 53 priests, deacons and others who face substantiated allegations of sexual abuse of a minor in a news conference on Wednesday, March 4. The Catholic dioceses of Fargo and Bismarck had released the names of the priests and others in January, but did not share details about which parishes they had served.” By Patrick Springer, Inforum.com


Why aren’t Ohio officials investigating Catholic sex abuse cases
“A year after the Roman Catholic Diocese of Columbus released its list of priests credibly accused of child sexual abuse, some survivors and advocates still are pressing Ohio officials to take action. The list, one of many released by dioceses across the country, was spurred in part by a state grand jury investigation in Pennsylvania, released in August 2018. But when asked why Ohio doesn’t investigate the issue, state officials point to a home-rule law stating that county prosecutors must request such an investigation before the attorney general can initiate it.” By Danae King, The Columbus Dispatch

Strongsville priest awaiting indictment by federal grand jury
“Strongsville priest Robert McWilliams is now in the custody of the U.S. Marshals as he waits indictment from a federal grand jury on child sex crime charges. McWilliams, 39, who was previously a seminarian at St. Helen’s Catholic Church in Newbury Township appeared in federal court Feb. 27 where court records show he waived a preliminary hearing on charges of child pornography, child exploitation and juvenile sex trafficking.” By Andrew Cass, The News-Herald


Rev. Hugh Lang’s abuse conviction overturned by judge
“A judge on Monday (Mar. 9) morning tossed out the conviction and sentencing of the Rev. Hugh Lang, arguing that the Catholic priest received an unfair trial last year when he was convicted on charges he sexually assaulted an 11-year-old boy in 2001. ‘I’m going to grant a new trial,’ said Allegheny County Common Pleas Judge Anthony Mariani, who took over the case from Judge Mark Tranquilli, who presided over the trial last year.” By Peter Smith, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Monsignor Willian Lynn back in court prepping for retrial for allegedly covering up clergy sex abuse reports
“Monsignor William Lynn was back before a Philadelphia judge on Monday (Mar. 2). The former archdiocesan official is prepping for his retrial in two weeks. Lynn and lawyers won’t comment because of a gag order. Prosecutors are arguing pretrial motions to get certain evidence admitted, including grand jury testimony and testimony from his first trial. Lynn was the first highest ranking church official convicted of covering up reports of clergy sex abuse.” By Philadelphia CBS3 Staff

Allentown Diocese says earlier accusation against now jailed priest was ‘unfounded.’ Prosecutors disagree.
“In May 2016 a 15-year-old girl told someone that the Rev. Kevin Lonergan had touched her inappropriately. The allegation triggered investigations by the Northampton County Children, Youth and Families Division, Forks Township police, and the district attorney’s office. Lonergan was suspended during the investigation, and the Allentown Catholic Diocese said Monday that it reinstated him a few months later because Children and Youth determined the accusation was ‘unfounded.’” By Peter Hall, Daniel Patrick Sheehan and Sarah M. Wojcik, The Morning Call

Harrisburg Diocese files for reorganization under Chapter 11 of Bankruptcy Code
“Bishop Ronald W. Gainer said Feb. 19 the restructuring process provided for by filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection will allow the Diocese of Harrisburg to lay a foundation to build upon and secure its future. ‘Our diocese has had to come to terms with the harsh reality that we no longer have the funds to meet our current obligations,’ the bishop said at a news conference to announce the diocese has filed for bankruptcy under Chapter 11 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code.” By Rachel Bryson, Catholic News Service, in The Pilot


An explosive new clergy abuse lawsuit is filed as the Rhode Island Attorney General reviews the Providence Diocese’s records
“As an explosive allegation of clergy sexual abuse in Rhode Island emerged in a lawsuit filed Thursday (Feb. 28), state prosecutors said they are conducting an exhaustive review of more than 100,000 documents related to the sexual abuse of children that have been turned over by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Providence. The attorney general’s office is examining files going back 70 years to determine whether any of the cases warrant criminal charges — and whether there are any credibly accused clergy still in the ministry.” By Amanda Milkovits, The Boston Globe


Catholic diocese releases list of 20 priests ‘credibly accused’ of child sexual abuse
“The Catholic Diocese of Memphis has released a list of priests accused of child sexual abuse during their time in Memphis and West Tennessee. The list of ‘credibly accused’ priests spans more than 50 years and was compiled at the request of Bishop David Talley shortly after he became leader of the Diocese that covers West Tennessee including Memphis.” By Bill Dries, Daily Memphian


Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston expanding safety, background program
“In a mission to increase safety and reduce risk in Catholic schools and parishes, the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston is expanding its Safe Environment Program. Bishop Mark Brennan and the diocese announced changes to the program on Thursday (Mar. 5). This comes 16 months after the diocese released the names of clergy who have been credibly accused of sexual abuse of minors, and follows former Bishop Michael Bransfield stepping down amidst sexual harassment allegations.” By MetroNews Staff


Priest accused of sex abuse cleared by Madison Diocese
“The Catholic Diocese of Madison has deemed allegations of sexual misconduct against the Rev. William A. Nolan not credible. Nolan served in several southern Wisconsin parishes. ‘In the coming days, Fr. Nolan will be reinstated to his previous status as a retired priest of the Diocese of Madison in good standing,’ according to a news release from diocese communications director Brent M. King.” By Frank Schultz, GazetteXtra


Broome bishop Christopher Saunders stands down over serious allegations
“One of Australia’s highest-ranking Catholics has voluntarily stood aside amid serious allegations. On Wednesday (Mar. 11) afternoon the Catholic Church issued a statement saying Broome Bishop Christopher Saunders, 70, had stepped aside from the administration of the diocese and Monsignor Paul Boyers had been appointed to take care of the day to day running of the parish.” By Marta Pascual Juanola, WAToday

ABC journalist Sarah Ferguson on making Revelation and coming face-to-face with two of the Catholic Church’s worst serial pedophiles
“Sarah Ferguson spends her working life wading through murky waters, tackling difficult, confronting and harrowing stories but none has tested her like the project that consumed her for the past year: Revelation — a three-part documentary investigation into child sexual abuse within the Catholic Church, in which she comes face to face with two of Australia’s most notorious serial paedophiles. ‘I’m used to intense projects but this one has been more intense and more challenging than anything I have ever done,’ says Ferguson. ‘Throughout the long-running scandal of clerical abuse in Australia, there was one voice we hadn’t heard and that was the perpetrators.’” By Natasha Johnson, ABC


Sao Paulo Archdiocese creates commission to investigate abuse
“The Archdiocese of Sao Paulo announced the creation of a commission to investigate allegations of sexual abuse linked to the Catholic Church. Cardinal Odilo Scherer of Sao Paulo said the measure follows Pope Francis’ May 2019 document establishing new procedures for reporting abuse and violence within the Catholic Church. He said the commission will not only receive reports of sexual abuse committed by clergy and religious, but it will look at all areas of the church’s life in order to prevent abuse.” By Lise Alves, Catholic News Service, in America: The Jesuit Review


Survivors irritated: IDs of most Canadian bishops protection committee members secret
“The Canadian bishops’ Standing Committee for the Responsible Ministry and Protection of Minors and Vulnerable Persons met for the first time in January, but the fact that the identities of the majority of its members is kept secret irritates victims, who see a lack of transparency. Archbishop J. Michael Miller of Vancouver, British Columbia, chairman of the Standing Committee, said it was clear ‘from our first meeting that they are eager to work and bring forward real change to prevent abuse from ever occurring, as well as to assume their critical role as advocates for the healing of victims-survivors.’” By Franois Gloutnay, Catholic News Service, Cruxnow.com

‘I keep asking why,’ victim tell scourt during Barry McGrory sentencing hearing
“The victim of a Catholic priest’s sexual abuse says the incident caused him to lose his desire to be a priest, his faith in God, and his trust in the church. In a victim impact statement read at the sentencing hearing of defrocked priest Barry McGrory, the man, now an adult, said the betrayal has affected every aspect of his life. ‘The worst thing is I lost my faith for a long time: I felt so terrible without God in my life,’ he said in the written statement, read in court.” By Andrew Duffy, Ottawa Citizen


German bishops approve guidelines for abuse case payments
“Germany’s Roman Catholic bishops on Thursday (Mar. 5) approved new guidelines that likely will provide for payments ranging up to about 50,000 euros ($55,700) each for victims of sexual abuse by clergy. The church has been shaken in recent years by scandals in several countries, including Germany. A church-commissioned report in 2018 concluded that at least 3,677 people were abused by clergy in Germany between 1946 and 2014 — more than half of them 13 or younger and nearly a third of them altar boys. A top bishop has apologized for the abuse.” By Associated Press


‘A fugitive from justice’: concerned Catholics back move to laicize priest over abuse
“Concerned Catholics of Guam, which helped lead efforts to expose Guam’s clergy sex abuse of minors, backs the Archdiocese of Agana’s move to laicize Father Adrian Cristobal over alleged sexual abuse of multiple minors. ‘Father Adrian is a fugitive from justice, living outside of Guam, in an unknown location. Obviously, he is afraid to face his accusers for the alleged sexual abuse of children,’ Concerned Catholics of Guam President David Sablan said.” By Haidee Eugenio Gilbert, Pacific Daily News


Vatican dismisses Indian priest jailed for rape
“A diocese in southern India has announced completion of the process of laicization of a priest who is serving a 20-year jail term for raping and impregnating a minor girl three years ago. The laicization of Father Robin Vadakkumcherry has been completed with his acceptance of the Vatican’s dismissal decree and by informing the Vatican of his acceptance on March 1.” By Kochi, UCANews.com