Voice of the Faithful Focus, May 28, 2015

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


Senior Vatican official offered bribe to child sex abuse victim, inquiry says
“A senior Vatican official, who is also Australia’s highest ranking cleric, has been accused of attempting to bribe a victim of child sex abuse to keep quiet about the molestation he suffered from a paedophile Catholic priest. The victim, David Ridsdale, told an Australian royal commission into child sexual abuse that he called Cardinal George Pell in 1993 to report being abused by his uncle Gerald Ridsdale, a former priest who is in prison after committing more than 130 offences against children as young as four between the 1960s and 1980s.” By Oliver Millman and Stephanie Kirchgaessner, The Guardian

The nuns spoke out, but the archbishop listened
“When 25 leaders of the largest organization of American nuns met for the first time with Archbishop J. Peter Sartain of Seattle in 2012, after the Vatican appointed him to lead an overhaul of their group, they expected conflict … But instead of lecturing the nuns — women who had dedicated their lives to teaching, health care, academia and social justice — Archbishop Sartain listened.” By Laurie Goodstein, The New York Times

Minnesota Child Victims Act continues to rock Catholic Church
“Fallout continues to jolt Catholic institutions across Minnesota as a landmark law permitting lawsuits for older claims of clergy sex abuse marks its second anniversary this week. Just last week (May 18) the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis removed a priest from active ministry in Richfield — bringing to 69 the number of accused priests it has identified since the law was passed.” By Jean Hopfensperger, Star Tribune

The Catholic Church’s American downfall: Why its demographic crisis is great news for the country
“The big news out of the new Pew poll on Americans and religion was the precipitous drop in the number of Americans calling themselves ‘Christian’ … But there’s another number lurking in the poll that may prove just as consequential: there are 3 million fewer people calling themselves Catholic today than in 2007, the last time Pew conducted their extensive poll. As a result, the share of the U.S. population that identifies as Catholic dropped from approximately 24 percent to 21 percent.” By Patricia Miller, Salon

Catholic Church ‘buried head’ to abuse, says priest convicted of indecent assault
“Catholic church leaders buried their heads about clergy abusing children in Ballarat and should have made victims a priority, a priest convicted of indecent assault has told the royal commission into institutional responses to child sexual abuse.” By Megan Neil, The Guardian

They’ve been told to ‘get over it’ for 700 Sundays. They come anyway.
“The Cathedral of the Holy Cross cast a shadow over his face, but Richard Orareo stood tall, with one hand holding his cane and the other holding a poster of a girl who was raped by a priest from kindergarten through the seventh grade. The church bells began ringing just as Orareo began to speak to a crowd of 20 other survivors gathered in front of the church.” By Allison Poole, Boston.com


Catholics in San Francisco rally against ‘morality clauses’
“Teachers from four San Francisco Catholic high schools on Wednesday (May 20) rejected the archbishop’s latest revision of a teacher handbook. The rally is the latest opposition to (Archbishop Salvatore) Cordileone’s call for teachers and staff members to accept contract and handbook language against homosexuality, same-sex marriage, abortion, contraceptives, and artificial insemination.” By Associated Press in Cruxnow.com
Different visions of the church collide in San Francisco archdiocese, By Dan Morris-Young, National Catholic Reporter

A Church divided? At Notre Dame, discussing the problem of polarization
“One of the more demanding and absorbing conversations I have been part of was a recent discussion of polarization in the American Catholic Church. Held at the University of Notre Dame, our gathering included sociologists, ethicists, theologians, bishops, students and others.” By Holly Taylor Coolman, America

Forget the numbers. The big story is that religion has lost social influence
“‘Religion plays a less important role in American life.’ Or maybe, ‘Religion declines as powerful source of American public authority.’ I doubt those headlines would have garnered the attention the Pew Center recently received with its subtitle ‘Christians Decline Sharply as Share of Population’ … But behind the story of Christian decline and the rise of ‘nones’ is a long-standing debate about what religion theorists call ‘secularization,’ the broad process by which religion gradually loses its social influence.” By Arthur E. Farnsley, II, Religion News Service analysis


Ireland’s approval of same-sex marriage a ‘reality check’ for Catholic Church
“Catholic Ireland has become the first country in the world to introduce gay marriage by popular vote, with 62 percent of the electorate voting “Yes” in a referendum Friday approving same-sex marriage. The vote was a “reality check” for the Catholic church, the archbishop of Dublin said.” By Sarah Mac Donald, National Catholic Reporter
Catholic Church ponders future after same-sex marriage vote in Ireland, By Danny Hakim, The New York Times
The victory for same-sex marriage in Ireland, Editorial by The New York Times
This isn’t your grandmother’s Ireland, By Danny Hakim, Cruxnow.com
For one Irish couple, backing gay marriage is a matter of family, By Hanna Ingber, The New York Times
Ireland is for gay marriage because it is Catholic, By Paul F. Morrissey, USA TODAY
Ireland gay-marriage vote a ‘reality check’ for church, By Kim Hjelmgaard, Religion News Service
On same-sex marriage, Catholics are leading the way, By Frank Bruni, The New York Times

Reform groups’ letter for Francis: Stop combining parishes into megaparishes
“The leaders of 24 international reform groups who met in Limerick, Ireland, in April are urging Pope Francis to call for a halt to the church’s policy of clustering parishes into megaparishes as a response to the decline in priest numbers. In an open letter, the 32 signatories — from groups such as Catholics for Renewal in Australia, A Call to Action in England, and the Society for Open Christianity for the 21st Century in Slovakia — tell Francis that the future of parish life is ‘massively threatened.’” By Sarah Mac Donald, National Catholic Reporter


Can Pope Francis succeed in reforming the Curia?
“Many Catholics who are eager to see Pope Francis reform the Roman Curia have grown noticeably impatient with how long the project is taking. Recently, some have even begun to wonder whether the 78-year-old pope has the time, energy and necessary support to radically overhaul the church’s central bureaucracy. Fr. Ladislas Orsy, one of Catholicism’s most important and respected canon lawyers these past several decades, has a clear mind on the issue. He says there can be no real reform of the Roman Curia without decentralization of the church’s governing structures and its decision-making apparatus.” By Robert Mickens, National Catholic Reporter


LCWR evaluates end of mandate
In a statement released this morning (May 14), the Leadership Conference of Women Religious acknowledged the sadness and public humiliation they experienced during the six years they were under Vatican review, but they said they hoped the process would be a valuable learning experience for both the wider church and community. By Dawn Cherie Araujo, Global Sisters Report, National Catholic Reporter
American nun: We feel vindicated at end of Vatican investigation, By Michael O’Loughlin, Cruxnow.com
LCWR observers see a model for the wider church, By Dawn Cherie Araujo and Dan Stockman, Global Sisters Report, National Catholic Reporter
For U.S. sisters, ordinary Catholics made a way where there was no way, By Christine Schenk, National Catholic Reporter


Profits soar at Vatican Bank after governance overhaul
“The Vatican bank said on Monday that its 2014 net profit had soared, recovering from the expense of last year’s extraordinary overhaul of the organization’s governance. The Institute for the Works of Religion, as the bank is officially called, reported 69.3 million euros, or about $76 million, in net profit, more than 20 times the €2.9 million reported for the previous year.” By Gaia Pianigiani, The New York Times


A celebration of Voices of Young Catholic Women project
“‘The pope cannot hear unless we speak,’ St. Mary’s College student Kristen Millar exhorted today’s young Catholic women. At an April panel discussion celebrating St. Mary’s Voices of Young Catholic Women project, Millar articulated well the challenge facing her millennial generation. Marking the 30th anniversary of the Madeleva Lecture Series, the panel testified to the college’s longstanding commitment to the theological formation of women. Most recently, this commitment inspired an exchange with the pope himself.”By Jennifer Mertens, National Catholic Reporter

In more than a third of dioceses, there are no women in three influential posts
“Of three top jobs open to laypeople in Catholic dioceses across the United States — chancellor, chief financial officer, and schools superintendent — only one-third are filled by women. In fact, 35 percent of US dioceses have no women at all in these influential positions.” By Michael O’Loughlin, Cruxnow.com


Stories of sex abuse make it hard being a Catholic priest today
It is hard being a Catholic priest today. Our shame is deep, for some it’s overwhelming because good people are being condemned by association. But we must not fall prey to self-pity because as hard as it is for us, we are not nearly as innocent, or as damaged, as the children who are only now being given a voice.” By The Australian


Pembroke Pines priest’s sexual abuse of boys covered up by Archdiocese of Miami
“A 41-year-old man who served under a Catholic priest in a Pembroke Pines parish as a boy in the 1980s has filed a lawsuit against the Archdiocese of Miami for sexual abuse. The civil lawsuit claims that several boys at the parish were also abused and that although the abuses were reported to the Archdiocese of Miami, the reports went ignored.” By Chris Joseph, New Times (Broward, Palm Beach)


Catholic priest removed over abuse allegation speaks out
“A Catholic priest who was removed as pastor of four central Illinois parishes over an abuse allegation says the church inquiry that led to his ouster resembled a witch hunt.” By Associated Press in Daily Herald


Former Crookston priest pleads guilty to sexual assault of a minor
“A Catholic priest pleaded guilty Friday (May 22) to sexually assaulting a 16-year-old girl while serving in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Crookston. The guilty plea comes nearly 10 years after the Rev. Joseph Palanivel Jeyapaul, 60, assaulted the girl at his home in Greenbush.” By Sarah Volpenhein, InForum.com


Lawsuit: pedophile New England priest sent to New Mexico
“A new lawsuit says the Vatican sent a New England priest accused of raping boys and stealing parish money to New Mexico for treatment and that he later abused a boy in that state numerous times. By Russell Contreras, Associated Press, in Santa Fe New Mexican


Jury finds Hoefgen not guilt in sex abuse case
“A Dakota County jury on Tuesday (May 26) evening found Fran Hoefgen not guilty of accusations that he raped an altar boy more than 20 years ago at a Hastings church where he was a priest.” By David Unze, St. Cloud Times


Second Catholic priest in Toledo faces misconduct allegations
“The Diocese of Toledo announced today (May 22) that the Rev. Samuel Punnoor has been placed on administrative leave by Bishop Daniel Thomas after he learned of an unspecified allegation against the priest. Father Punnoor came to Toledo in April, 2011, from the Diocese of Pathanamthitta in India.” By The Blade


Child sexual assault lawsuit filed again San Antonio Archdiocese
“A civil lawsuit filed Tuesday (May 26) against the Archdioceses of San Antonio accuses two priests of sexually assaulting an orphan during the 1980s. The lawsuit claims leaders of the church covered up the complaints for decades.” By KENS5-TV


Clergy abuse victims walk out of hearing in frustration over pedophile priest’s lack of memory
Victims of clergy abuse have said they are ‘disappointed’ over pedophile priest Gerald Francis Ridsdale’s lack of memory of key details on who in the Catholic Church knew about his abusing.” By 9NEWS-TV

Australians push for Vatican cardinal to testify on abuse
“More than 55,000 people have signed a petition calling for Cardinal George Pell to return to his native Australia and face a government commission on child sex abuse, after allegations that he tried to bribe the victim of a pedophile priest. By Rosie Scammell, Religion News Service
Sydney Archbishop Anthony Fisher defends Catholic Church and Cardinal Pell over response to child abuse victims, By Kate Aubusson, The Sydney Morning Herald

Catholic Church’s worst pedophile Gerald Risdale was unleashed on Sydney’s southern beaches
“Catholic Church superiors knew a remorseless paedophile priest was a self-confessed child abuser when they quietly shifted him to Sydney where he went on to prey on children around the southern beaches.” By Rory Callinan, The Sydney Morning Herald


Mark Murray confronts Catholic priest he claims abused him as a 14-year-old boy
“Detectives investigating historic sexual abuse at a school for trainee Catholic priests in the 1960s and 1970s have said they would not rule out further enquiries if new information comes to light. The appeal comes after alleged abuse victim Mark Murray, 59, went to Italy to secretly film a meeting with Father Romano Nardo, now 73, the priest he claims systematically abused him when he was 14.” By Louise Cooper, The Huddersfield Daily Examiner


Few priests prosecuted for sexual abuse
“Only around 20 criminal cases have been opened against priests and Catholic monks for sexual abuse in Switzerland since 2010, despite the church catching 172 alleged offenders.” By SwissInfo.com