Voice of the Faithful Focus, Oct. 23, 2020


In case related to abuse at minor seminary, two priests face trial at Vatican
“Two priests connected to a minor seminary located at the Vatican will appear before a Vatican criminal court Oct. 14 on charges related to the alleged sexual abuse of students at the seminary. Father Gabriele Martinelli faces charges of sexually abusing younger boys when he was a seminarian at the St. Pius X Pre-Seminary. Father Enrico Radice, former rector of the seminary, is accused of aiding and abetting the abuse. The two were indicted in late 2019 following an investigation that began in November 2017.” By Cindy Wooden, Catholic News Service, on Cruxnow.com

Poland’s powerful Cardinal Dziwisz accused of covering up abuse case
“Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz, the Polish bishops, and the Vatican’s ambassador in Poland are responsible for the case of Janusz Szymik, a long-time victim of the abusive priest Fr. Jan Wodniak. Why does the injured person have to fight for justice for over 25 years, and still waits … Szymik claims that between the years of 1984 and 1989 he was sexually abused almost 500 times by Wodniak in the village of Międzybrodzie Bialskie, about two hours southeast of Krakow.” By Szymon Piegza, National Catholic Reporter

Judge: Victims can sue Santa Fe Archdiocese over transfer
“A U.S. bankruptcy judge has ruled that lawyers for clergy sex abuse survivors can file lawsuits alleging the Archdiocese of Santa Fe fraudulently transferred millions to avoid bigger payouts to victims. The recent decision by Judge David T. Thuma in the Chapter 11 reorganization case opens the door to what could be a multimillion-dollar boon to hundreds of alleged victims, The Albuquerque Journal reports. Or it could set off protracted, costly legal appeals that would tap funds that could have paid valid abuse claims.” By Associated Press

Clergy shortage grows to more than 14k Catholics for every priest, Vatican data shows
“Catholic missions are struggling amid dwindling vocations and the COVID-19 pandemic, according to data released by the Vatican ahead of the World Mission Day this Sunday (Oct. 18). The number of priests and ordained leaders has dropped significantly, especially in Europe and America, according to the report issued on Friday (Oct. 16) by the Vatican Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, charged with distributing clergy and coordinating missions around the world.” By Claire Giangravé, Religion News Service

Justices review priest abuse lawsuit’s ruling on time limits
“Pennsylvania’s highest court on Tuesday (Oct. 20) grappled with whether a woman’s lawsuit on claims of sexual abuse by a priest decades ago should be allowed to proceed — a lower-court ruling that has launched many other lawsuits since it was issued a year ago. In oral argument, the justices focused questions on whether the plaintiff, Renee Rice, waited too long to sue the Roman Catholic Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown. Rice has argued that a 2016 grand jury report alerted her to allegations that church officials’ silence about a priest who she says molested her amounted to fraudulent concealment.” By Mark Scolforo, Associated Press, in National Catholic Reporter


Poland becomes testing ground for Vatican’s new anti-abuse legislation
“In 1984 in the town of Międzybrodzie in southwestern Poland, a boy was abused by the local parish priest for more than five years, beginning when he was 12. Today, more than thirty-six years later, he is still looking for justice. ‘Abuse was only one station in my personal way of the cross,’ he wrote in a letter to Pope Francis last week. The investigation into the case not only involved the accused priest and his bishop – the now retired Tadeusz Rakoczy – but might also involve Cardinal Stanisław Dziwisz, the longtime secretary of Pope John Paul II, who later served as Archbishop of Krakow from 2005-2016.” By Paulina Guzik, Cruxnow.com

Vatican clears 91-year-old priest of abuse allegations
“The Vatican has determined that an allegation of sexual abuse of a minor against a 91-year-old priest is unsubstantiated, the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Boston said Tuesday (Oct. 13). The Rev. John P. Carroll, who was ordained in 1953, has been on administrative leave since 2005 while the allegation has been investigated, the archdiocese said in a statement. Carroll will remain restricted from ministry and has been given senior priest status, the statement said.” By Andrew Stanton, The Boston Globe


Pope intention for October: that women have greater leadership roles in the Church
“No one has been baptized a priest or a bishop. We have all been baptized as lay people. Lay people are protagonists of the Church. Today, it is especially necessary to create broader opportunities for a more incisive female presence in the Church. And we must emphasize the feminine lay presence because women tend to be left aside. We must promote the integration of women, especially where important decisions are made. We pray that by the virtue of baptism, the laity, especially women, may participate more in areas of responsibility in the Church, without falling into forms of clericalism that diminish the lay charism.” By Pope Francis on VaticanNews.va

Francis expressed ‘dramatic concern’ over Germany’s ‘synodal path’
“A German bishop says Pope Francis expressed a ‘dramatic concern’ over the Catholic Church in Germany and its ‘synodal path’ of reform that began last year, which could include reviewing ‘taboo’ issues such as priestly celibacy and a female priesthood. Francis comments were reported made at Wednesday’s (Oct. 14) general audience during a conversation with Bishop Heinz Josef Algermissen, the retired bishop of Fulda. Algermissen spoke on the phone with German newspaper Fuldaer Zeitung after meeting the pope.” By Inés San Martin, Cruxnow.com


Cardinal George Pell meets with Pope Francis for first time since child sexual abuse convictions quashed
Cardinal George Pell has met with Pope Francis at the Vatican. The meeting was confirmed in the Holy See’s daily bulletin. The Vatican released video of the private audience, showing Cardinal Pell sitting with the Pope inside his office while the pair were filmed by a camera crew. No further details were provided, but Cardinal Pell told reporters in front of his residence just outside the Vatican walls that the meeting ‘went very well.’” By ABC News Australia


Pope Francis accepts resignation of Polish bishop under investigation
“Pope Francis accepted Saturday (Oct. 17) the resignation of the Bishop of Kalisz in central Poland, Edward Janiak, who is under investigation for his handling of an abuse case. Since June, Janiak’s diocese has been administered by Archbishop Grzegorz Ryś of Łódź. Pope Francis named Ryś apostolic administrator ‘sede plena’ of the Diocese of Kalisz June 25. ‘Sede plena’ is a term used to signify that a see is still occupied by a bishop.” By Hannah Brockhaus, Catholic News Agency


Germany’s Catholic Church: women are pushing for equality
“Monika Schmelter is one of the women who crisscrosses the country to press for equal rights in the Catholic Church. The reason, she points out, is that people are leaving the church in droves — including her own children. Many women share her experience of seeing their children turn their backs on the church. In response, they have come together to form a movement called ‘Maria 2.0.’ Many of them are among the traditional church faithful: women who are the backbone of Catholic parishes across Germany. They raised their sons and daughters by giving them a spiritual home, and guiding them through important sacraments.” By Deutsche-Welle

Women who ‘applied’ to be clergy say Vatican envoy is ‘open-minded’
“Seven women who recently turned in résumés at the Vatican embassy to France for ecclesial jobs open only to men were shocked not only when they got a response, but were offered one-on-one private meetings with Vatican’s nuncio to the country, Archbishop Celestino Migliore … Several of the women came out of their conversation describing it not only as ‘cordial’ and pleasant, but praising Migliore – a longtime Vatican diplomat who from 2002-2010 served as the Vatican’s Permanent Observer to the United Nations – as kind, as an attentive listener, and as someone who is well-informed.” By Elise Ann Allen, Cruxnow.com


Vatican plagued by scandal as Pope Francis sorts through its finances
Pope Francis faces a scandal as he tries to sort out the Vatican’s finances. This month, he appeared publicly with European financial inspectors to reassure them that he’s cleaning house. Pope Francis was elected with a mandate to clean up the Vatican’s murky finances, and he’s made strides in doing so. But as NPR’s Sylvia Poggioli reports, the Vatican is still plagued by scandal and intrigue.” By Sylvia Poggioli, National Public Radio

Power struggles entangle the Vatican
“Sometimes for excellent reasons, presidents and prime ministers in democracies are prone to suspect plots aimed at removing them or forcing fundamental policy changes. The reign of Pope Francis, now in its eighth year, testifies to the fact that ruthless power struggles go on at the Vatican, too. The infighting revolves around alleged financial crimes, sexual abuse scandals, doctrinal disputes and Pope Francis’s efforts to reform the Vatican’s administrative apparatus. All are being weaponised in a contest for control of the Roman Catholic Church that has persisted since the death in 2005 of John Paul II, the second-longest-serving pope in the Church’s more than 2,000-year history.” By Tony Barber, Financial Times


Australian police probe alleged Vatican funds transfer amid Pell trial
“Australian police are investigating the alleged transfer of Vatican funds to Australia amid the prosecution of former Vatican treasurer George Pell for child sex abuse and have referred the matter to an anti-corruption body. The Australian Federal Police (AFP) confirmed on Wednesday (Oct. 21) they have received information from Australia’s financial crimes watchdog. ‘The AFP is undertaking a review of the relevant information,’ the police said in emailed comments. The AFP said it had also referred some aspects of the matter to the Victorian Independent Broad-based Anti-corruption Commission (IBAC), which investigates misconduct by state police.” By Sonali Paul, Reuters

Moveyval team concludes evaluation of Vatican Bank
“Moneyval, the Council of Europe Committee of Experts on the Evaluation of Anti-Money Laundering Measures and the Financing of Terrorism concluded what has been described as a ‘positive and collaborative’ on-site visit to the Vatican. A statement released by the Holy See Press Office said the meetings, that took place during the evaluation visit, ‘were held in a constructive and cooperative atmosphere.’” By Independent Catholic News

Vatican updates transparency laws to strengthen financial management
“Continuing its efforts to combat money laundering and financial mismanagement, the Vatican amended its transparency laws and expanded the role of its financial watchdog agency in monitoring financial transactions. According to a statement released Oct. 10, the Vatican said it updated its legislation, more commonly known as Law XVIII. Passed in 2013, Law XVIII regulated financial activities and paved the way for collaboration and an exchange of information between the Vatican’s Financial Information Authority, known by the Italian acronym AIF, and its international counterparts, and monitored financial transactions.” By Junno Arocho Esteves, Catholic News Service


Who governs the Catholic Church? It’s an open question.
“As every Catholic knows, the pope runs the church. Is it not exceedingly strange, therefore, to call church governance an open question? Yes, it is strange, but I feel compelled to do so for three reasons. First, I have just published a book, “When Bishops Meet,” in which the third chapter is entitled “Who Is in Charge?” That question arose with unavoidable force as I compared and contrasted the last three church-wide councils: Trent, Vatican I and Vatican II. That review of the councils showed clearly that, historically speaking, the question of who runs the church is complex—and cannot be reduced to the papacy.” By John W. O’Malley, America: The Jesuit Review

N.J. diocese bankruptcy filing creates uncertainty
“Amid the world-shaking news of recent days, the announcement that the Catholic Diocese of Camden has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection created fewer ripples than it might have at some other time. This may well have played into the diocese’s desire for the faithful and the community to regard the event as a ‘nothing to see here; business as usual’ one. After all, Americans have been busy sorting sort out another set of circumstances concerning the health of its president, where the smiley faces posted in official updates turned out not to be what they first seemed.” By South Jersey Times Editorial Board


Churches knew of allegations against notorious pedophile priests, royal commission says
“The Anglican and Catholic churches knew about allegations against notorious pedophile priests years before they were convicted and jailed for child sexual abuse, missing crucial opportunities to stop them from abusing other children. The findings were outlined in two unredacted and one previously unreleased report published by the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse on Tuesday (Oct. 20). The findings were previously redacted so as not to prejudice ongoing legal proceedings against the two abusers: the former Anglican dean of Newcastle Graeme Lawrence and the former Catholic priest Vincent Gerard Ryan.” By Melissa Davey, The Guardian


Report: 18 people eligible for compensation in statewide priest abuse cases
“The Most Rev. Stephen J. Berg, bishop of the Diocese of Pueblo, said Friday (Oct. 16) that he is grateful for the work of an independent program created to help victims of historic sexual abuse by priests throughout the state. The Independent Reconciliation and Reparations Program provides survivors of abuse with an opportunity to file claims for compensation and to receive victim support services, regardless of how long ago the abuse occurred.” By Anthony A. Mestas, The Pueblo Chieftain

Colorado’s Catholic dioceses paid $6.68 million to 73 survivors of priest abuse
“Colorado’s three Catholic dioceses have paid $6.68 million to 73 survivors of sexual abuse by priests. That’s according to an update Friday (Oct. 16) from the managers of the state’s Independent Reconciliation and Reparations Program, which fielded claims from survivors and determined their credibility and eligibility for compensation, and how much money each should be given by the church. Eight claims were rejected by the IRRP. Another eight claims are pending because the survivors are waiting to receive payment, have not received their compensation offers or must still report their abuse to law enforcement before their cases can move forward.” By Jesse Paul, Colorado Sun


Archdiocese of Chicago removes retired pastor Daniel McCarthy from Norwood Park parish following allegation of sexual abuse
“The Archdiocese of Chicago over the weekend removed the Rev. Daniel McCarthy from St. Elizabeth of the Trinity, a parish in Norwood Park where he was pastor emeritus, after an allegation surfaced that he sexually abused a minor about 50 years ago at a Far North Side orphanage, according to the archdiocese. McCarthy, a chaplain since 2012 at Notre Dame College Prep, a Roman Catholic school in Niles, was alleged to have committed the abuse while he was assigned to the now-closed Angel Guardian Orphanage in Chicago’s West Ridge neighborhood, according to a letter Cardinal Blase Cupich sent Saturday to the St. Elizabeth of Trinity community.” By Kelli Smith, Chicago Tribune

Ex-Merrillville priest accused of abuse, faking assault is defrocked, church says
“A former Merrillville priest accused of sexually abusing a girl in the 1980s, and later faking a 2018 beating at St. Michael Byzantine Catholic Church was officially banned from the priesthood this summer, according to a church statement. After a nearly two-year review, Basil J. Hutsko was defrocked, according to a letter dated Aug. 17, posted online from the Byzantine Catholic Eparchy of Parma, an Eastern Catholic sect based in Ohio.” By Meredith Colias-Pete, Post-Tribune


Indiana church defrocks priest who allegedly abused minor, faked assault claim
“An Indiana priest who garnered headlines in 2018 by claiming that he had been assaulted in a hate crime and allegedly sexually abused a minor in the 1980s has been defrocked. Father Basil John Hutsko of Saint Michael Byzantine Catholic Church in Merrillville claimed back in 2018 that he’d been assaulted by a man shouting ‘this is for all the little kids.’” By Michael Gryboski, Christian Post Reporter


Archdiocese of New Orleans prepares to add 7 Franciscan priests to clergy abuse list
“The Archdiocese of New Orleans is preparing to add seven names to its list of local clergy found to have credible accusations of child molestation against them, after a Roman Catholic religious order released its own roster of accused priests last week. The additional names, which include a priest who is believed to have preyed on a minor during his time in the New Orleans area, will bring the total number of alleged abusers publicly identified by Archbishop Gregory Aymond to 72.” By Ramon Antonio Vargas, New Orleans Times-Picayune, and David Hammer, WWL-TV

New Orleans priest removed for abuse sent messages to high school student
“The Archdiocese of New Orleans reportedly knew for months but did not inform school officials that a priest chaplain at a Catholic high school had sent texts to a student, in violation of archdiocesan policies. The priest was removed from ministry last week after admitting to have sexually abused a minor in an unrelated case.” By Catholic News Agency


Michigan’s clergy abuse probe identifies 454 accused priests, 811 victims
“A two-year investigation into sexual abuse in Michigan’s Catholic churches has, so far, identified 454 accused priests and 811 victims, and led to charges against 11 clergymen. Of the 11 charged, two have been convicted thus far. Their sentences were for 60 and 45 days in jail. ‘We are committed to ensuring that every case of sexual abuse and assault is thoroughly reviewed and that whenever we are able to pursue justice for a victim, we do so aggressively and relentlessly,’ said Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel. “We must all commit to breaking down the walls of silence that so often surround sexual assault and abuse.” By Justine Lofton, MLive.com

Former priest charged with sex crime in Farmington returns to court next week
“A former priest charged with a sex crime that allegedly happened in 1977 in Farmington has been extradited from Illinois and arraigned in 47th District Court, where he will return next week for a pre-exam conference. Gary Berthiaume, 78, was arrested Sept. 29 at his home in Warrendale, Illinois, and arraigned Monday (Oct. 19) on one count of second-degree criminal conduct for allegedly assaulting a young boy at Our Lady of Sorrows Catholic Church. Bond was set at $50,000 cash/surety.” By Aileen Wingblad, The Oakland Press


Twin hit of abuse claims and pandemic could push NJ Catholic dioceses toward bankruptcy
“For Catholic churches around the country, it has become a familiar refrain: After shelling out millions of dollars in settlements to survivors of clergy abuse, a diocese says it’s broke and declares bankruptcy. The Diocese of Camden, representing a half-million Catholics in 62 South Jersey parishes, became the latest to file for bankruptcy protection on Oct. 1 — 10 months after a new state law waived the statute of limitations on decades-old abuse claims.” By Deena Yellin, NorthJersey.com


Date to file lawsuits against Syracuse Diocese moved up to April
“A bar on filing claims against the Roman Catholic Syracuse Diocese will begin April 15, 2021, as part of Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceedings. Chief Judge Margaret Cangilos-Ruiz of the U.S. Bankruptcy Court Northern District of New York made the decision Thursday, according to an announcement from the law firm Jeff Anderson and Associates. This was confirmed by diocese officials. Court records show a bench decision was made but a written decision has not yet been issued.” By H. Rose Schneider, Observer-Dispatch

Pastor place on leave after two sex abuse allegations
“The pastor of a Roman Catholic parish in Buffalo’s Old First Ward has been placed on administrative leave pending an investigation by the Diocese of Buffalo into two allegations of child sex abuse made against the priest that date back to the 1970s, according to a statement released by the diocese Friday (Oct.9). The Rev. Donald Lutz, pastor of Our Lady of Perpetual Help Catholic Church, was placed on leave by Apostolic Administrator Bishop Edward B. Scharfenberger.” By Harold McNeil, The Buffalo News


Rape case is latest action to bring attention to Catholic clergy in Butler County
“In a little more than a year, multiple local Catholic clergy have drawn accusations – and one faces criminal charges – about sexual abuse of youths. One of the more high-profile cases involving a former Liberty Twp. priest took its next step this week, when a judge ruled an alleged second victim of the Rev. Geoff Drew could testify at Drew’s rape trial, which was also rescheduled from this month to April 2021. In a little more than a year, multiple local Catholic clergy have drawn accusations – and one faces criminal charges – about sexual abuse of youths.” By Michael D. Clark, Journal-News


Priest found unsuitable for ministry after sex abuse allegation in Chester County is substantiated
“A Catholic priest has been found unsuitable for ministry after a finding that he sexually abused a minor in the late 1970s in Chester County, the Archdiocese of Philadelphia announced Friday (Oct. 9). The victim reported in October 2019 that the Rev. William E. Dean, now 70, had committed the abuse while serving at SS. Philip & James Parish in Exton. The allegation was reported to the Independent Reconciliation and Reparations Program, which was set up in 2018 to financially compensate victims of clergy sex abuse whose claims are too old to be taken to court.” By Julie Shaw, Philadelphia Inquirer

Pennsylvania Supreme Court sets hearing in clergy abuse case
“The Pennsylvania Supreme Court is scheduled to hear oral arguments on Oct. 20 on the appeal from a Roman Catholic diocese in a case that could allow plaintiffs to sue over sexual abuse by priests in cases that otherwise would be barred by the statute of limitations. The court will hear the case of Renee Rice of Altoona, who sued the Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown alleging sexual abuse by one of its priests, the Rev. Charles F. Bodziak, in the 1970s and 1980s.” By Peter Smith, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette


Judge dismisses priest-abuse suits against R.I. Catholic diocese
“A state judge on Friday (Oct. 16) dismissed three priest-abuse lawsuits against the leaders of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Providence. The ruling, by Superior Court Judge Netti Vogel, analyzed a new 2019 law that extended the deadline to sue over childhood sexual abuse in Rhode Island from seven years to 35 years after the victim’s 18th birthday. Vogel noted that if the deadline had already run out under the old law, someone could still sue their ‘perpetrator’ under the new deadline retroactively.” By Brian Amaral, Providence Journal


Catholic Diocese of Richmond paying $6.3 million to 51 victims sexually abused by clergy
“The Catholic Diocese of Richmond is paying $6.3 million to 51 individuals who as minors experienced sexual abuse by clergy. News of the payments was released Thursday in a report on the diocese’s website. ‘The completion of this program is by no means the end of our efforts to provide for our diocese’s victim survivors,’ wrote Bishop Barry C. Knestout in a letter on the website announcing the report. ‘Our outreach is ongoing. We must, and we will, continue to meet victim survivors with support and compassion motivated by our shared love of Jesus Christ.’” By Dean Hoffmeyer, Richmond Times-dispatch

Catholic abuse survivor says the money is not enough, she wants answers
“Father Mark White has been calling for transparency from the Catholic Church for a long time. The Catholic Diocese of Richmond will pay $6.3 million to 51 people who were sexually abused by clergy members when they were minors. As White explains, the money is a start. ‘It’s some kind of effort to make people who, to give them a cash settlement. Money comes in handy, because people who suffered the sex abuse as minors wind up with a lot of financial problems as a result.’” By Santiago Meilli-Huber, WFXR-TV News


Sex abuse: the price of negligence, ignorance and cover-ups
“Church leaders in Bangladesh are perhaps relieved that a series of brutal gang rapes in the country have overshadowed and shifted public and media attention from the arrest of a priest on allegations of raping a minor girl. Father Prodip Gregory, 41, a parish priest in Rajshahi Diocese, was arrested by police on Sept. 29, a day after the elder brother of the girl sued him. He is the first Catholic priest from the minority Christian community to be arrested for rape. If found guilty, he will be the first priest to serve a jail term for rape.” By Rock Ronald Rozario, UCANews.com


‘Loophole’ in child abuse reporting in historic cases: advocates
“If a child told you they’d been sexually assaulted by an adult what would you do? Would you call police? Would you report the allegations to a children’s aid society? Or would you do neither? For most of us, the moral choice is clear. So why has the obligation to report often been ignored by many who claim to be doing God’s work? Sister Nuala Kenny is a pediatrician who has spent decades examining the sexual assault scandal rocking the religious institution she’s given her life to.” By Adrian Ghobrial and Jessica Bruno, Toronto City News

Toronto-based order of priests buried allegations of sex abuse at boys camp: whistleblower
“For a group of underprivileged children from Toronto, a sunny escape became a cabin of horrors. A whistleblower tells CityNews he reported allegations of child sexual assault by a Catholic Father and said he now wishes he hadn’t gone to the priest’s religious order to seek justice. ‘In hindsight, knowing more now, I would have phoned the police,’ said Bill Taylor. ‘But at 17, I did what I thought was right.’ This is the first time he’s publicly sharing his story.” By Adrian GhobriAL, Jessica Bruno and Meredith Bond, Toronto City News

Man claims he was sexually assaulted by former principal of St. Michael’s College School
“If you or someone you know are victims of sexual violence, you can contact Crisis Services Canada, a 24/7 hotline, at 1-833-456-4566 or you can find local support through the Ontario Coalition of Rape Crisis Centres; The Government of Canada has also compiled a list of sexual misconduct support centres. If you are under 18 and need help, contact the Kid’s Help Phone online or at 1-800-668-6868. Peter Luci loaded his father’s shotgun into the trunk of his car, drove to St. Michael’s College School, and sat in the parking lot.” By Adrian Ghobrial, Jessica Bruno and Meredith Bond, Toronto City News


Limerick priest jailed for sexually abusing young boy
“A priest who worked in several parishes in the Diocese of Limerick has been sentenced to three year’s imprisonment after he was convicted of sexually abusing a young boy two decades ago. The 60-year-old, who cannot be named for legal reasons, had denied nine charges relating to offences which occurred on dates between September 1, 1999 and December 31, 2002.” By David Hurley, Limerick Leader