Voice of the Faithful Focus, Oct. 1, 2021


Francis is set to open worldwide synod process. U.S. dioceses don’t seem prepared
“With about three weeks to go before Catholic prelates around the world are due to open a first-of-its-kind grassroots consultation period as part of an expanded vision for the Vatican’s Synod of Bishops, church officials across the U.S. are still figuring out exactly what that process will look like. A range of dioceses contacted by NCR in recent weeks said they were still working out the details for the consultation period and would be in a better position to comment on the synod in coming weeks, after Pope Francis formally opens the two-year synod process with a ceremony in Rome on Oct. 9. Officials who agreed to interviews described plans that relied on parish listening sessions, online surveys, Zoom meetings and other avenues to get feedback from laity.” By Brian Fraga, National Catholic Reporter

Given abuse reforms, expert says bishops have ‘no excuse’ for failure
“Ahead of a three-day summit on child protection taking place in Poland against the backdrop of the country’s recent abuse scandals, perhaps Catholicism’s leading expert has said progress is being made and that new legal tools drafted over the past few years mean bishops now have ‘no excuse’ for failure. Speaking to Crux, Jesuit Father Hans Zollner said that while much still needs to be done in terms of awareness and safeguarding, on a general level, people in the Church now are taking the problem of clerical sexual abuse ‘much more seriously.’” By Elise Ann Allen, Cruxnow.com

‘They knew and they let it happen’: Uncovering child abuse in the Catholic Church
“On his first day on the job in July 2001, Globe editor Martin Baron stopped by the desk of Eileen McNamara, a Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist. A week earlier, McNamara had published a column about the Boston Archdiocese’s silence on three priests accused of sexually abusing children. One line, in particular, had irked Baron. McNamara had wondered whether an accused priest’s superiors had known about his crimes. Court documents were sealed. McNamara recalls Baron standing over her desk: ‘Why don’t we find out,’ he said.” By Joseph P. Kahn and Mike Damiano, The Boston Globe

Women are rising to new heights in the Vatican. Could they change the Church forever?
“When Nathalie Becquart, a member of the Congregation of Xavières, was appointed the first woman undersecretary of the Synod of Bishops, she voiced an observation that made headlines around the world. In a press conference at the Vatican, she told reporters her appointment was evidence that ‘the patriarchal mindset [of the church] is changing.’ Is it true? Pope Francis has appointed women to positions of greater authority than any previous pontiff, but the Vatican remains a largely male-dominated space that, because it must be controlled by an ordained bishop, places a definite restriction on the heights to which women can aspire—a limit some have termed a ‘stained-glass ceiling.’ By Colleen Dulle, America: The Jesuit Review

Prof. Suchocka: ‘Clerical sexual abuse a universal problem, not only a Western one’
“As the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors holds a conference in the Polish capital of Warsaw, the painful history of Eastern and Central Europe is coming to the fore. Much of the region suffered for decades under the iron fist of communism and the Soviet Union. Throughout those years, the Church in many countries was seen as a stronghold against oppression. Now, thirty years after the fall of the Iron Curtain, another side of that history is showing its face, as the Church seeks to root out the scourge of clerical sexual abuse.” By Devin Watkins, Vatican News


Explainer: Why did the Catholic Church cooperate with the Canadian government’s abuse of Indigenous children?
“At least 160 unmarked graves were discovered using ground-penetrating radar near the Kuper Island Indian Residential School on July 12, the fifth in a series of similar discoveries at residential schools across Canada since May. All five schools surveyed so far were operated by Catholic orders or dioceses—four of them were administered at one time by the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate. The discoveries have prompted a renewed discussion about Canada’s colonial history and the integral role played by the Catholic Church, which at the government’s behest administered around 60 percent of Canada’s residential schools.” By Dean Dettloff, America: The Jesuit Review

Notre Dame to host consultation session, lecture on Church’s sex abuse crisis and lessons derived from truth and reconciliation processes
“Daniel Philpott, a professor of political science at the University of Notre Dame, and Katharina Westerhorstmann, a professor of theology at Franciscan University, will host a public lecture and a day-long consultation session at Notre Dame on Thursday and Friday (Sept. 23 and 24), examining the Church’s sex abuse crisis and the lessons that may be derived from national truth and reconciliation processes for healing and restoration. The initiative, ‘The Truth Will Make You Free: What Promise Do National Truth and Reconciliation Processes Offer for the Catholic Church’s Response to the Sexual Abuse Crisis? is funded by Notre Dame’s Church Sexual Abuse Crisis Research Grant Program and stems from the 2019-20 Notre Dame Forum, ‘Rebuild My Church: Crisis and Response.’” By Carrie Gates, Notre Dame News

Lawsuit: Defrocked Cardinal McCarrick abused man in 1980s
“Three sex abuse lawsuits filed against a New Jersey diocese and announced Thursday (Sept. 16) include claims that defrocked Cardinal Theodore McCarrick abused a young man in the 1980s. The lawsuit accuses McCarrick of sexual battery against the man, who was in his late teens and early 20s when McCarrick was Bishop of the Diocese of Metuchen, in central New Jersey. McCarrick went on to become archbishop of the Archdiocese of Newark in the mid-1980s and then Cardinal Archbishop of Washington, D.C., in 2001. The lawsuit seeks unspecified compensatory and punitive damages.” By David Porter, Associated Press, on Cruxnow.com


Synodal process looks to hear from voices on the margins of the church
Pope Francis is inviting Catholics both in the mainstream of church life and on the margins to voice their dreams, ideas and concerns in preparation for the Synod of Bishops in 2023.The process launches Oct. 17 in parishes and dioceses worldwide. The pope is scheduled to formally open the synod process at the Vatican Oct. 9-10. Under the theme ‘For a Synodal Church: Communion, Participation, and Mission,’ the pope is calling the church to practice synodality, that is listening to — and hearing — one another in all facets of church life, two of the coordinators of the effort at the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops told Catholic News Service.” By Dennis Sadowski, Catholic News Service

Editorial: Let’s give the Holy Spirit a chance at synod on synodality
“When we learned that the topic of the next Synod of Bishops would be synodality itself, you could hear the collective groan in the (virtual) newsroom. A process about a process: What could be duller? Even worse, it’s a long process … Yet despite the concerns and controversies, we urge Catholics — especially marginalized Catholics — to participate in the synodal process. It may not be a perfect process, but the church is more likely to address the needs of the people of God with it than without it. We should take this process seriously, as Francis recently urged Catholics of the Rome Diocese to do, adding: ‘The Holy Spirit needs you.’” By National Catholic Reporter Editorial Staff

Pope Francis wants every Catholic to have a say. Why haven’t US Catholics heard about it?
“Pope Francis’ plan is for ordinary Catholics to have their say. It begins with the coming synod, which opens in Rome on Oct. 9 and in every diocese in the world on Oct. 17. The problem: No one seems to know about it. The bigger problem: U.S. bishops don’t seem to care. It’s called ‘For a Synodal Church: Communion, Participation, and Mission.’ While Francis truly wants all Catholics to pray and talk about the needs of today’s church, his plan depends on diocesan participation. As the U.S. bishops fulminate over which Catholic politician can receive Communion, they’ve done little to plan for the worldwide discussion on the needs of the church. They were asked to get organized last May. They haven’t.” By Phyllis Zagano, Religion News Service, in National Catholic Reporter

Pope to Rome’s faithful: Synodality expresses the nature of the Church
“In a discourse to the faithful of the Diocese of Rome, Pope Francis describes the Synodal process due to begin in October and the importance of the diocese as the Church works together to feel part of ‘one great people.’ Addressing the faithful of the Diocese of Rome, Pope Francis described the upcoming Synod — with the theme ‘For a synodal Church: communion, participation, mission’ — as a journey in which the whole Church is engaged. He noted that the Synod will take place between October 2021 and October 2023, and that the itinerary has been conceived as ‘a dynamism of mutual listening, conducted at all levels of the Church, involving the whole the people of God.’” By Francesca Merlo, Catholic Outlook, News from the Diocese of Parramatta

German synodal way begins with calls for the Catholic Church to ‘embrace radical change’
“The German bishops’ plenary assembly began with urgent appeals for church reform and a reminder to heed admonitions from Pope Francis. Bishop Georg Bätzing, conference president, called on all bishops to embrace radical change, reported the German Catholic news agency KNA. He said visible changes were needed soon in the Synodal Path German church reform project, which could be a “door opener” for the worldwide synodal process launched by the pope.” By Catholic News Service, in America: The Jesuit Review

Pope Francis: Rigidity in the church ‘is a sin against the patience of God’
“On Sept. 18, Pope Francis addressed roughly 1,000 representatives from the Diocese of Rome to speak about the upcoming church-wide synod. ‘I have come here to encourage you to take this synodal process seriously and to tell you that the Holy Spirit needs you,’ the pope said to those gathered in the Paul VI audience hall, which included bishops, clergy, women and men religious and members of the laity. ‘Listen to him. Listen to each other; do not leave anyone out.’ Pope Francis explained that the synodal process will be a journey spanning two years that involves ‘a dynamism of mutual listening, conducted at all levels of the church, involving the whole people of God.’” By Gerard O’Connell, America: The Jesuit Review

Pope Francis: Synodal process not about ‘gathering opinions,’ but ‘listening to the Holy Spirit’
“Pope Francis said on Saturday (Sept. 18) that the two-year process leading to the 2023 synod on synodality is not about ‘gathering opinions,’ but ‘listening to the Holy Spirit.’ Addressing Catholics from the Diocese of Rome on Sept. 18, the pope noted that preparations for the synod would take place in three phases between October 2021 and October 2023. He said that the process sought to create “a dynamism of mutual listening” at all levels of the Church. ‘This is not about gathering opinions, no. This is not an inquiry; but it is about listening to the Holy Spirit,’ he said.” By Catholic News Service, in Catholic Sentinel

First of its kind assembly to address future of Latin American Catholic Church
“Tens of thousands of Catholics throughout Latin America and the Caribbean — and some in the United States — have been discussing issues ranging from missionary discipleship to integral ecology as part of a ‘listening’ process leading up to a regionwide ecclesial assembly to be held Nov. 21-28 in Mexico City. Unlike general conferences of Latin American and Caribbean bishops, such as meetings held decades ago in Puebla, Mexico, and Medellín, Colombia, the event will not be a meeting of bishops, but an ecclesial assembly with wider participation, said Archbishop Jorge Lozano of San Juan de Cuyo, Argentina, secretary general of the Latin American bishops’ council, or CELAM.” By Barbara Fraser, National Catholic Reporter

The Spirit in the Assembly: Preparing for the synod on synodality
“The most far-reaching event in the Catholic Church in my lifetime officially gets its start next month. It is Pope Francis’s boldest move yet, the historic shake-up that a Church brought low by sex-abuse scandals badly needs, and potentially the most transformative moment in Catholicism since the Second Vatican Council, which it seeks to embed permanently into the life of the Church. The two-year ‘synod on synodality,’ launched in Rome on October 9 and in dioceses worldwide a week later, is set to mark Christianity forever. Yet who knows it is even happening?” By Austen Ivereigh, Commonweal

National committee to help Church prepare for Synod
“A national committee has been established to support the Church in Australia as it prepares to join an international consultation process in the lead-up to the 2023 Synod of Bishops. The Pope will launch the global process next month in Rome, with dioceses to launch a months-long period of consultation on October 17, followed by national and regional consultation. Trudy Dantis, the director of the National Centre for Pastoral Research, has been appointed to lead the Australian engagement with the Holy See.” By CathNews.com


Pope retains German archbishop criticized over abuse scandal
“Pope Francis has decided to leave in office a prominent German archbishop who faced criticism for his handling of the church’s sexual abuse scandal, but the pontiff also gave the cleric a ‘spiritual timeout’ of several months after he made ‘major errors’ of communication, the Vatican said Friday (Sept. 24). The pope ‘is counting on’ the archbishop of Cologne, Cardinal Rainer Maria Woelki, the Vatican said in a statement. ‘But at the same time it is clear that the archbishop and the archdiocese need a time for a pause, renewal and reconciliation.’” By Geir Moulson, Associated Press

Pope Francis responds to attacks from EWTN, other church critics: ‘They are the work of the devil.’
“When a Jesuit in Slovakia asked Pope Francis ‘How are you?’ the pope stunned them with his answer: ‘Still alive, even though some people wanted me to die.’ ‘There were even meetings between prelates who thought the pope’s condition was more serious than the official version. They were preparing for the conclave,’ Pope Francis said. That statement was not the only striking piece of information given by the pope during his conversation with 53 Jesuits from Slovakia.” By Gerard O’Connell, America: The Jesuit Review


German cardinal contributed to ‘crisis of trust’ on abuse, will take leave
“Cardinal Rainer Maria Woelki of Cologne will take a ‘spiritual sabbatical’ after a Vatican investigation found he did nothing illegal in his handling of clerical sex abuse allegations, but he did contribute to a ‘crisis of trust’ in his archdiocese. The German bishops’ conference announced Sept. 24 that Pope Francis had ‘a long conversation’ with Cardinal Woelki earlier in September and agreed with the cardinal’s request to take a break from mid-October until March 1 because it was ‘obvious that the cardinal and the archdiocese need a time of pause, renewal and reconciliation.’” By Cindy Wooden, Catholic News Service, in The Pilot

Women in the College of Cardinals: A modest proposal for a more equal (and prophetic) church
“Avery Dulles’s lucid essay on the female priesthood, or rather its impossibility within the Catholic Church, raises fundamental questions that go beyond the scope of the ordination of women: What is the church’s relationship to its female members overall? And by what criteria do we judge the institutional church’s response to women? If we judge by modern standards of equality and equal opportunity between women and men, are we not in danger of placing too much emphasis on social conditioning? A religion, and particularly the Christian religion, is not simply a moral system. It is born of revelation and obeys a tradition, and we must take that into account.” By Lucetta Scaraffia, America: The Jesuit Review


Brooklyn Bishop to Retire After Vatican Clears Him of Child Sexual Abuse
“Pope Francis named a new bishop to lead the Roman Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn on Wednesday (Sept. 29), ending the 18-year tenure of the current bishop, Nicholas DiMarzio, weeks after a Vatican investigation cleared him of two accusations of child sexual abuse dating to the 1970s. The new bishop, Robert J. Brennan, will be the eighth man to lead the diocese, which encompasses 1.5 million Catholics in Brooklyn and Queens. He has served as bishop of the Columbus, Ohio, diocese since 2019. Before that, he held various roles in the Diocese of Rockville Centre on Long Island over 30 years.” By Liam Stack, The New York Times

Canadian Catholic bishops apologize for residential schools
Catholic bishops in Canada apologized Friday (Sept. 24) ‘unequivocally’ to Indigenous peoples for the suffering endured in residential schools, just as Pope Francis prepares to meet with Indigenous leaders at the Vatican later this year. The institutions held children taken from families across the nation. From the 19th century until the 1970s, more than 150,000 First Nations children were required to attend state-funded Christian schools as part of a program to assimilate them into Canadian society. They were forced to convert to Christianity and not allowed to speak their Native languages. Many were beaten and verbally abused, and up to 6,000 are said to have died.” By The Associated Press


With priest numbers dwindling, Cincinnati archdiocese readies to reorganize parishes
“With fewer Catholics and fewer priests, the Archdiocese of Cincinnati is preparing to unite parishes in groups called ‘families’ — a reorganization that could orient some Southwestern Ohio churches toward diminished use or eventual closure, although no closures are imminent. Called ‘Beacons of Light,’ a draft of the reorganization is set to be unveiled Oct. 1, with a plan finalization slated for this winter. The implications are significant for the religious life of about 160,000 registered Catholic households in Southwestern Ohio, with the plan touching, or potentially touching, parish operations, Mass schedules, employment, the education of children and more.” By Thomas Gnau, Springfield News-Sun


Vocation director says women hold good leadership roles in Church
“Karen Cortes Foong is a woman who believes she was chosen for the jobs she has – director of ongoing priestly formation for the diocese of Nottingham in the UK and a consultant for the Vatican’s office for clergy – because she was the right person for the task, and not because she’s female. ‘I find that there are many women in good leadership roles within the Church,’ Foong said. ‘I don’t know if the right word is ‘reticence’, but we don’t feel like we need to put ourselves out there, shout it from the rooftops, because well, one would like think we’re in the job because we were the right person in the job, not because we’re a woman.’” By Inés San Martín, Cruxnow.com

Catholic women feel called to be deacons. The church should listen to their stories.
“Is the church being called to receive women into the permanent order of deacons? Are women being called by God to serve as deacons in the church? And what role do Sunday Mass-goers, lapsed Catholics and daily communicants play in discerning responses to such questions? In the form of theological studies, sociological research and papal commissions, the church has been discerning the question of female deacons for decades. And now, thanks to the synod that begins this October, the whole church has an opportunity to engage in a discernment about the diaconate.” By Casey Stanton, America: The Jesuit Review

Called to Contribute: Findings from an In-depth Interview Study of US Catholic Women and the Diaconate
“Women comprise the majority of US Catholics and the majority of lay ministers in the U.S. Catholic Church. While the ordained diaconate remains the exclusive realm of men, women engage in expansive service that overlaps core diaconal functions in word, liturgy, and charity. Many women feel specifically called to be deacons or express an openness to discerning such a call should the vocational path become available to them. Escalating global attention to the question of women and the diaconate compels social scientific research to enhance knowledge regarding how contemporary women experience and fulfill their felt call in the Catholic Church.” By Tricia C. Bruce, Ph.D.

Pope Francis wants to disrupt church hierarchies, but for women it may not be enough
“In Pope Francis’ vision for the future of the Catholic Church, bishops will no longer make decisions alone but in dialogue and discernment with the faithful in their community. The new, expanded two-year process to prepare for synods will begin in October and promises to flip the power structures in the church. When it comes to the voice of women in the church, though, it might not be enough. The question of the role of women in church leadership remains one of the biggest ecclesial and social challenges in the Catholic Church.” By Claire Giangravé, Religion News Service


Amazon conference brings periphery front and center, cardinal says
“The establishment of an Ecclesial Conference of the Amazon that involves both the laity and the clergy is a sign of a church that listens to God through the voice of his people, Peruvian Cardinal Pedro Barreto Jimeno of Huancayo said. Participants at the 2019 Synod of Bishops for the Amazon had recommended forming ‘an episcopal organism that promotes synodality among the church of the Pan-Amazon region.’ Instead of creating a regional bishops’ conference, however, the bishops in 2020 formed the ‘ecclesial’ conference to include representatives of all the church’s membership.” By Junno Arocho Esteves, Catholic News Service, in National Catholic Reporter


Vatican megatrial to resume amid push for financial reform
“With the final embers of summer waning, the resumption of the Vatican’s megatrial is drawing near, featuring several big players indicted for financial crimes amid Pope Francis’s broader reform efforts. Over the summer the Vatican announced a swath of indictments against 10 people, including the once-powerful Italian Cardinal Angelo Becciu, who for years was one of the most influential Vatican officials, and who now finds himself to be the first person with a red hat to stand trial in the Vatican tribunal.” By Elise Ann Allen, Curxnow.com


Australian Catholic Church Plenary Council an opportunity for major reform
“Perth Archbishop Tim Costelloe is leading a process that could result in major reforms to the Catholic Church in Australia. ‘I’m rather nervous about it, only because it’s such a big challenge … but I’m also very hopeful,’ he said. The first assembly of the church’s Plenary Council — the highest formal gathering of all local churches in a country — starts on Sunday (Oct. 2). ‘The Plenary Council is a very significant, probably the most authoritative gathering of … the church in Australia, really to evaluate our situation and try, together as the people of God in Australia … to chart a way forward,’ Archbishop Costelloe, the president of the Plenary Council, said.” By Loretta Lohberger, ABC News

Conversations on Church governance continue
“Synodality and co-responsibility” is the theme for Catholic Religious Australia’s second online conversation exploring The Light from the Southern Cross report on Church governance. To be held on November 1, the event aims to provide an opportunity for reflection and engagement with the report at a significant time in Church history and in light of the Plenary Council. Australian Catholic University associate professor Fr Orm Rush, moderator for the Maitland-Newcastle Diocese’s synod working party Teresa Brierley and Plenary Council vice-president Bishop Shane Mackinlay will participate in the conversation.” By CathNews.com

German bishops’ plenary assembly begins with appeals on church reform
“The German bishops’ plenary assembly began with urgent appeals for church reform and a reminder to heed admonitions from Pope Francis. Bishop Georg Bätzing, conference president, called on all bishops to embrace radical change, reported the German Catholic news agency KNA. He said visible changes were needed soon in the Synodal Path German church reform project, which could be a ‘door opener’ for the worldwide synodal process launched by the pope.” By Catholic News Service, in The Catholic Sun


Archdiocese auctions off properties to pay for settlement in bankruptcy case
“Bids began rolling in Tuesday (Sept. 21) as the Archdiocese of Santa Fe launched its first online auction of properties to raise money for a settlement in a federal bankruptcy case prompted by hundreds of claims of child sexual abuse by Catholic clergy. The archdiocese wants to generate funds through the online auction — as well as insurance, donations and other property sales — to settle a case with about 385 people who have alleged abuse, with some claims dating back decades.” By Rick Ruggles, Santa Fe New Mexican


Historic gathering with bland agenda unlikely to stem decay in the Catholic Church
“Like it or not, Catholicism is still enormously influential in Australia. It is Australia’s largest non-government employer through its schools, hospitals and aged care with around 230,000 people working directly for the church. It also runs many voluntary organizations, like the Saint Vincent de Paul Society with some 20,700 members and 41,150 volunteers with a huge impact on social welfare. Despite this, Catholicism’s reputation has been effectively trashed in the media and wider community by the sexual abuse crisis and church leaders’ appalling, long-term failure to deal decisively with clerical abusers. The revelations of the royal commission reinforced the church’s toxic reputation.” Commentary in The Sydney Morning Herald

The Rite Stuff
“This July, Pope Francis largely rescinded permission for priests to celebrate the so-called ‘Extraordinary Form’ of the Roman Rite, also known as the Tridentine Mass. The move generated considerable controversy, especially among Catholics in the United States. On this episode, longtime Commonweal contributing writer Rita Ferrone draws on her extensive knowledge of liturgical history to explain the logic—and in her view, the wisdom—of Francis’s decision.” By The Editors of Commonweal


Advocates, legislators frustrated by inaction on child sex abuse bill
“Victims of child sex abuse in Pennsylvania are still waiting for leaders in Harrisburg to act after the Department of State failed to get an amendment on the ballot. That amendment would’ve given them a chance to take their abuser to court. Unfortunately moving on a ballot amendment, while not out of the question, is the long play because it would take at least two years to get it before voters. That’s why many advocates and legislators are pushing for House Bill 951 to get a vote in the Senate. That bill is currently stuck on the desk of Senate Majority Leader Kim Ward who has declined to advance it, citing constitutional questions about the retroactive window.” By Ryan Eldredge, CBS-TV21 News

Victims of child sex crimes demand Pa. Senate act on statute of limitations reform bill: ‘We have had enough’
“Victims of child sex abuse and their advocates said they have waited long enough to see Pennsylvania create a two-year window for child sex abuse survivors to take their abusers to court. A crowd of more than 50 people holding signs that carried messages such as ‘Justice for Survivors’ and ‘Why are we still here’ converged on the state Capitol steps in Harrisburg on Monday. They implored the state Senate to vote on a bill that has already passed the state House of Representatives.” By Jan Murphy, PennLive.com


‘Bachelorette’ Clare Crawley: I was abused by ‘predator’ priest at Catholic school
“Clare Crawley is sharing more about her experience as a survivor of sexual abuse. In a preview for Thursday’s (Sept. 29) installment of Facebook Watch’s ‘Red Table Talk: The Estefans,’ the Season 16 ‘Bachelorette,’ 40, reveals that she was mistreated by a priest while attending Catholic school. ‘I grew up going to a Catholic school and I was the victim of a predator,’ she says in the clip. ‘My parents looked at Catholic priests as — they held them on a pedestal.’” By Evan Real, Page Six

Central, Eastern European bishops listen to survivors during abuse summit
“Bishops from Central and Eastern Europe listened to gut-wrenching testimony from abuse victims at a summit being held in Poland. Among the first speakers was Polish Franciscan Father Tarsycjusz Krasucki, who was abused in 1993 at the age of 17 by Father Andrzej Dymer, the director of a center where he was living after being expelled from boarding school. ‘It has been nearly 29 years since my trauma,’ Krasucki said. ‘My first attempts to investigate and clarify the case started 26 years ago. The penal canon trial lasted for 17 years. The final canonical sentence was pronounced over 6 months ago [five days before Dymer’s death]. The sentence was pronounced, but not published. Consequently, until now the Church has failed to officially confirm neither my harm nor the perpetrator’s guilt.’” By Inés San Martín, Cruxnow.com

Catholic orphanage’s ex-residents ask church to fund therapy
“Some of the residents of a long-closed Vermont orphanage want the Catholic Church to pay for therapy as they continue to recover from what they described as abuse at the hands of the nuns and priests who were supposed to care for them. The youngest members of the group that calls itself The Voices of St. Joseph’s Orphanage are in their late 50s. The oldest are pushing 80.” By Wilson Ring, Associated Press


Sexual abuse lawsuit filed against Santa Maria school district
“A former student filed a childhood sexual abuse lawsuit against the Santa Maria Joint Union High School District on Thursday (Sept. 23), alleging that the district was negligent in hiring a teacher who sexually assaulted him. The lawsuit was filed by former student James McDaniel, who is accusing the district of completing “inadequate pre-employment background checks” before hiring former teacher Michael Cardoza. Mr. Cardoza was a teacher at Santa Maria and Pioneer Valley High Schools from 1997 to 2006 and was convicted in 2008 of sexually abusing Mr. McDaniel. The lawsuit accuses the district of “knowingly” fostering a “pervasive and hostile environment that utterly disregarded the rights and safety of young students.” As a result, Mr. McDaniel is demanding a trial by jury and damages exceeding $25,000.” By Madison Hirneisen, Santa Barbara News-Press


‘Additional information’ surfaces about recently reinstated priest accused of sexually abusing minors
“A recently reinstated Lake Zurich priest who was accused of sexually abusing minors 25 years ago while he was assigned to Maryville Academy in Des Plaines is again sidelined after ‘additional information’ has come to light, the Archdiocese of Chicago said. The Rev. David Ryan was expected to return to the Roman Catholic parish this weekend, but the new information caused a delay in Ryan’s return ‘while it is thoroughly investigated,’ according to a letter from Cardinal Blase Cupich that was released Thursday (Sept. 16).” By Rosemary Sobol, Chicago Tribune


Bishop calls news conference to discuss Fort Wayne priest accused of sexually abusing minor
“A Fort Wayne Catholic priest has resigned from his duties following an allegation he sexually abused a minor. According to a statement from the Catholic Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend, on Sept. 19, the diocese was made aware of an allegation that Father David Huneck was engaging in ‘sexual and other misconduct, including that with a minor.’ No specific details about the alleged abuse were released.” By WANE-TV15 News


Topeka Catholic priest suspended after allegation of sexual abuse of a minor, which he denies
“The Rev. John Pilcher, pastor of Topeka’s Mater Dei Catholic Parish, has been suspended from the public exercise of priestly ministry after being accused of sexually abusing a minor, the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas announced Monday (Sept. 27). ‘Father Pilcher denies the allegation and is cooperating fully,’ the archdiocese said in a news release. ‘He will remain on leave until the investigation is concluded and the archdiocesan Independent Review Board has reviewed the case and made a recommendation to Archbishop Joseph Naumann regarding the matter.’ Law enforcement was also notified, the archdiocese said.” By Tim Hrenchir, Topeka Capital-Journal


Convicted Kentucky priest set to be released from prison
“A Catholic priest in Kentucky is set to be released from prison after serving nearly four years for sexual abuse that happened in the 1970s. R. Joseph Hemmerle testified at his 2016 trial in Meade County that he would sometimes apply calamine lotion to the genitals of children at a church summer camp, with their permission. He was found guilty of one count of indecent or immoral practices with a child under 15.” By Associated Press


Second woman accuses Maine priest of sexual abuse
“A woman has come forward after 39 years alleging she was sexually assaulted by a priest who is on administrative leave amid an internal investigation by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Portland. Father Robert Vaillancourt was placed on leave in July following accusations he sexually abused a girl in the 1980s. Vaillancourt, who was relieved of his post as pastor to several churches on the Mid Coast within the parish of Saint Brendan the Navigator, has denied the allegations. The latest alleged victim, who does not want to be identified, is now considering taking action under a new law that allows survivors to file a civil case.” By Vivien Leigh, NBC-TV News Center Maine


Years into attorney general investigation of Maryland’s Catholic Church, abuse survivors wonder where it stands
“Three years after it became public that Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh was investigating child sexual abuse in the Catholic church, abuse survivors are wondering: Is he building a case, or has the probe stalled? In September 2018, Baltimore Archbishop William E. Lori told clergy the archdiocese was under investigation by the state. A few months later, church officials confirmed they had given the attorney general more than 50,000 pages of internal documents dating to 1965.” By Alison Knezevich, The Baltimore Sun


Catholic Diocese puts retired Buffalo priest on leave
Accusations of abuse have put another retired Buffalo priest on leave. The Catholic Diocese of Buffalo announced Friday (Sept. 17) that Rev. Robert Schober has been removed from his duties, while an independent investigator looks into the claims. Schober was most recently chaplain at Kenmore Mercy Hospital. Earlier this week, Bishop Michael Fisher announced that four other retired priests were also placed on administrative leave.” By WGRZ-TV2 News


HIDDEN IN PLAIN SIGHT: The silence, secrecy and empty promises of child sexual abuse
“The crime of child molestation is far more common than most people realize. Law enforcement officers tend to describe it as an epidemic, most often perpetrated in secret and typically by someone the child knows. ‘It’s a heavy thing to have to deal with investigating and it’s a very heavy thing for the public to accept. But it is an epidemic, it truly is,’ Payne County Investigator Rockford Brown said. ‘If you look at it on a big scale, abuse of children is an epidemic.’ Brown said almost all of his cases involve a suspect the child trusts.” By Ashlynd Huffman, Stillwater News Press


Lawsuit filed against Catholic Diocese of Nashville, St. Rose of Lima Catholic Church
“A lawsuit has been filed against the Catholic Diocese of Nashville and a church in Rutherford County. The lawsuit alleges that people at St. Rose of Lima Catholic Church did not stop repeated rapes and incidents of sexually exploiting children on the church property from 2014-2017. Michael D. Lewis was employed by the Catholic Diocese of Nashville as the director of the Parish School of Religion program at St. Rose of Lima Catholic Church in Murfreesboro. In June, a grand jury indicted Lewis on ten counts of statutory rape and four counts of sexual battery by an authority figure.” By Marissa Sulek and Joseph Wenzel, WSMV-TV4 News


Orphanage abuse survivors push Vermont’s Catholic Church to pay reparations
“Former residents of Burlington’s shuttered St. Joseph’s Orphanage are voicing frustration with Vermont’s Roman Catholic Diocese as they push the state’s largest religious denomination to pay for counseling after their mistreatment decades ago. ‘The diocese has done as little as possible to help with our healing goals,’ said Michael Ryan, who lived at the orphanage as a child. ‘They need to provide restitution for their sins of the past.’” By Kevin O’Connor, Vermont Digger


Argentinean trial of former Vatican official postponed until February
“Following a request from the official defense counsel, the criminal trial against Argentine Bishop Gustavo Zanchetta, a veteran prelate who once boasted of his friendship with Pope Francis, has been postponed until Feb. 2022, Crux has been able to confirm. The reason given is the fact that the Vatican has allegedly not provided the office of Enzo Giannotti with the canonical file of the Church’s own investigation of the bishop, following allegations of sexual abuse against seminarians. Through his lawyer, the prelate has denied wrongdoing.” By Inés San Martin, Cruxnow.com


Abuse victim of Brother Daniel McMahon shares his story in the hope of reaching others
“As a young teenager, Jarrod Luscombe saw the man who would eventually sexually abuse him as his mentor – almost a father figure. Even in the years after the abuse, he still hoped his perpetrator would be proud of him and his achievements. The man who abused Mr Luscombe at age 16 in Perth, Western Australia, was Daniel McMahon – a Christian Brother who was later accepted into the priesthood in Tasmania and lived at Turner’s Beach from 1990 until his death in 2013.” By Matt Maloney, The Examiner


Canada’s extradition process with France over Oblate priest ‘atrocious’, says prof
“There is more Canada could be doing to pursue an Oblate priest in France suspected of sexually abusing children in Nunavut, says a Dalhousie law professor who specializes in extradition. Robert Currie says it’s ‘atrocious’ that criminal charges have been stayed against Johannes Rivoire, who worked in three Arctic communities in the 1960s and ‘70s. ‘What’s atrocious is the federal government’s refusal to say anything about the case to give the alleged victims any indication that there’s even any interest in justice being done,’ Currie tells APTN News.” By Kathleen Martens, APTNNews.ca


Catholic diocese in Northern Ireland opens redress scheme for survivors of ‘abhorrent’ child abuse
“A Catholic diocese in Northern Ireland is establishing a redress scheme for survivors of sexual abuse by priests in the diocese. The scheme is to provide financial redress, as well as offer a personal apology, counselling, and pastoral support for survivors and victims of abuse by any church representative in the diocese, where a 2011 report found 35 allegations made against 10 priests.” By TheJournal.ie

Bid by Catholic church to stop child sexual abuse case rejected by NSW supreme court
“The Catholic church tried to stop a survivor suing it over the childhood abuse she suffered at the hands of a parish priest in northern New South Wales, despite its own records showing it knew the man was a pedophile but did nothing other than move him from parish to parish. On Friday (Sept. 24), the NSW supreme court rejected the Catholic church’s request for a permanent stay of proceedings brought by a woman who alleges she was sexually assaulted in 1968, when she was 14, by Father Clarence Anderson, a priest with the Lismore diocese.” By Christopher Knaus, The Guardian


$2.4M left from the $7M sale of church assets
“Just $2.4 million remains of the $7.03 million in net proceeds from the sale of the Archdiocese of Agana’s two major real estate properties that were supposed to go toward paying clergy sex abuse claims, a financial report that Archbishop Michael Jude Byrnes released shows. Of the $7 million net proceeds of the sale, more than $4 million has been used to pay legal fees in the archdiocese’s ongoing bankruptcy case as of June 30. There are more legal fees that the archdiocese is ordered to pay under the bankruptcy case, including those that a federal judge recently approved.” By Haidee Eugenio Gilbert, The Guam Daily Post


Man abused by pedophile priest Malachy Finegan to receive ‘five-figure’ payout
“A man who claims a pedophile priest subjected him to sexual and physical abuse at a Co Down school is to receive a ‘five-figure’ payout, his lawyer said. The sum forms part of a resolution reached in his action centered on alleged historic assaults by the late Fr Malachy Finegan. No admission of liability has been made in proceedings brought against the Trustees and Board of Governors at St Colman’s College in Newry and the Diocese of Dromore. But the plaintiff’s solicitor, Kevin Winters, said: ‘This latest financial settlement highlights again the trail of emotional destruction left by Malachy Finegan.’” By The Irish News


East European church leaders pledge new efforts to counter abuse
“Catholic leaders from Eastern Europe pledged closer cooperation against sexual abuse by clergy, despite different levels of preparedness, at the region’s first international child protection conference. A statement from the Sept 19-22 conference said lectures and group sessions had covered ‘spiritual, theological, legal and pastoral aspects of the crisis,’ adding that key themes would be taken to the Synod of Bishops opening Oct. 9 in Rome.” By Jonathan Luxmoore, Catholic News Service, in The Pilot

Prof. Wiliński: Rights of victims of abuse must be protected
“A 4-day conference organized by the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors aims to help the Church in her reflections and response to the crisis of the abuse of minors and vulnerable persons. The event, themed ‘Our Common Mission of Safeguarding God’s Children,’ is being held on 19 – 22 September in the Polish capital of Warsaw. It gathers Catholic representatives from across Central and Eastern Europe, as well as experts who work in the field of child and youth protection.” By Benedict Mayaki, S.J., Vatican News