Voice of the Faithful Focus, Aug. 11, 2023

Aug. 11, 2023


Huge billboard in Lisbon puts spotlight on clergy abuse as pope arrives
“A huge billboard raising awareness of sexual abuse by clergymen was put up overnight in Lisbon, just hours before Pope Francis was due to arrive in the Portuguese capital for the world’s largest gathering of young Catholics. The World Youth Day event was devised by the late Pope John Paul II for Catholics in their teens or early 20s and is held every two or three years in a different city.” By Catarina Demony, Reuters

Vatican’s child protection commission invites public feedback on safeguarding principles
“The Vatican’s child protection commission is inviting the public to provide feedback on Church safeguarding principles for the creation of updated diocesan guidelines. Anyone can participate in an online survey, which is available in four languages, including English and Spanish. The responses will be used to formulate an updated Universal Guidelines Framework (UFG), the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors said last week.” By Hannah Brockhaus, Catholic News Agency

Pope Francis meets with survivors of clergy sex abuse in Portugal
“Pope Francis met with survivors of clergy sexual abuse in Portugal on Wednesday (Jul. 26) and blasted members of the country’s Catholic hierarchy for their response to the long-ignored scandal, which he said had marred the Catholic Church and helped drive the faithful away. Francis dove head-on into the crisis roiling the Portuguese church on the first day of a five-day visit to Lisbon for the Catholic Church’s World Youth Day festival.” By Nicole Winfield, Associated Press, on PBS News Hour, pbs.org

English Catholic bishop’s installation models synodality with abuse victims
“The installation of the new bishop of Hexham and Newcastle in the northeast of England was very different from the usual ceremonies to inaugurate bishops. It included a moment, without obvious precedent, that points to how a synodal, listening church can respond to the clerical sexual abuse scandal. Thirty minutes into the liturgy, Bishop Stephen Wright, the new leader of the diocese, came down the sanctuary steps to greet three abuse survivors who presented him with prayer ribbons re presenting victims of abuse. These ribbons were then tied to the bishop’s episcopal chair.” By Christopher Lamb, National Catholic Reporter

Catholic church seeks to stop family’s lawsuit over George Pell child abuse allegations
“The Catholic church is seeking to challenge a legal ruling in Victoria that would allow the father of a choirboy to sue for damages over allegations of child sexual abuse by Cardinal George Pell. The father, who cannot be named for legal reasons, filed a claim against the Catholic archdiocese of Melbourne and Pell. He claims to have suffered nervous shock after learning of allegations that Pell sexually abused his now deceased son in the mid-1990s.” By Australian Associated Press in The Guardian


Vatican investigates sexual abuse allegations at Roman Catholic society in Peru
“Vatican investigators looking into sexual abuse allegations at a Roman Catholic society in Peru have completed the first stage of their audit and will issue a report in the coming month, Vatican spokesman Matteo Bruni told CNN Friday (Aug.4). ‘The first stage, gathering information, was concluded last Saturday. Now they will be working on the documentation they have, in order to present a report in the coming months,’ Bruni said.” By Claudia Rebaza, Antonia Mortensen and Tara John, CNN

Victims hopeful, bitter about Vatican inquiry of Peru’s Sodalitium
“The visit of Archbishop Charles Scicluna of Malta and Spanish Msgr. Jordi Bertomeu to Peru to investigate the lay organization Sodalitium Christianae Vitae is being received with confidence by many of the group’s victims, who hope it will be finally dissolved. Some, however, say, they lost hope that the case will be resolved. Once a powerful lay institution with massive membership not only in Peru, but in several other countries, the Sodalitium was accused of promoting systemic spiritual, physical and sexual abuse against dozens of members for decades, as well as financial corruption.” By Eduardo Campos Lima, OSV News

Sinead O’Connor condemned Church abuse early. America didn’t listen.
“Americans began to grapple with a nationwide epidemic of child abuse in Catholic parishes and other religious organizations in 2002, after a landmark Boston Globe investigation revealed a pattern of misdeeds and cover-ups in Boston that went back decades. Ten years earlier, Sinead O’Connor became a pop culture pariah in the United States for an on-air protest intended to raise awareness of the same problem.” By Liam Stack, The New York Times

Schools face million in Child Victims Act payments, but proposed state relief is stalled
“A proposed $200 million state fund meant to help public schools and voluntary foster care agencies cover the costs of resolving Child Victims Act lawsuits remains stalled in the State Legislature, more than a year after the bill was introduced. Some school districts and their advocates have called for New York to set aside money to at least partially reimburse their expenses in these legal settlements. They argue students today shouldn’t be penalized for purported sexual misconduct by teachers and other school employees from decades ago.” By Stephen T. Watson, The Buffalow News


Synod on Synodality needs the perspectives of ‘relatable clergy’
“One of the most anticipated events in modern church history — arguably, the most important gathering since Vatican II, the Synod on Synodality — is about to unfold this fall. After years of planning and preparation, with local meetings held and national reports issued, the Vatican recently named more than 300 delegates who will be taking part — lay men and women, priests and bishops and religious from all corners of the globe. Again and again, one of the refrains I’ve been hearing from friends and fellow clergy around the country is: ‘What? No deacons?’” By Deacon Greg Kandra, OSV News

Global synod faces challenge of getting pastoral care to divorced Catholics in parishes
“For divorced Catholics, the trauma of separation can often be twofold: In addition to a collapsed marriage, they may find themselves feeling abandoned by their own church … For those civilly remarried outside the church, the exclusion can seem even more intense. In an apparent recognition of the need to pastorally attend to these situations, the forthcoming 16th Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops — otherwise known as the Synod on Synodality, which Pope Francis convenes in Rome this October — will examine ways to accompany divorced and remarried Catholics. By OSV News


Pope Francis: Church is not ready for a Third Vatican Council
“On the occasion of its 65th anniversary, the Spanish Catholic magazine ‘Vida Nueva’ has issued a special edition entirely focused on Pope Francis, a longstanding subscriber of the media outlet. In a lengthy interview published this week during his Apostolic Journey to Lisbon for the 37th World Youth Day, the Pope addressed a vast range of issues including speculation over the summoning of a Third Vatican Council, an overview of his ten years of pontificate, his concerns for the current world situation, and his next planned Apostolic Journeys.” By Lisa Zengarini, Vatican News

Pope says ban on women priests, gay marriage doesn’t mean Church is ‘closed’
“Pope Francis insisted Sunday (Aug. 6) that restricting access to sacraments such as priestly ordination, as the Catholic Church does for women, and marriage, in the case of the LGBTQ+ community, is not a sign of close-mindedness. In an airborne news conference, the pope also touched on his reasons for opting not to mention Ukraine out loud while in the famed Marian shrine of Fatima on Saturday, addressed clerical abuse scandals in Portugal, mental health struggles among youth and his own physical condition, insisting that despite a grueling foreign trip this week ‘my health is good.’” By Elise Ann Allen, Cruxnow.com

Pope arrives in Portugal amid clergy sexual abuse scandal
“Pope Francis has landed in Lisbon for a global gathering of young Catholics taking place in the shadow of Portugal’s huge clergy sexual abuse scandal and criticism of soaring costs for the event. Hundreds of thousands of young people from around the world have descended on Lisbon to welcome Francis, whose plane, also carrying his entourage and reporters, touched down at Lisbon’s Figo Maduro military air base on Wednesday (Aug. 2).” By Aljazeera.com


As ‘an old man and from the heart,’ Pope Francis shares summer reflection with Rome priests
“Assuring Rome priests of his gratitude and prayers, Pope Francis asked them to use part of their summer rest to reflect on ways to strengthen the unity of the church and promote greater collaboration with laypeople. ‘I’m thinking of you at this time when, in addition to summer activities, you also may be having a bit of a rest after the pastoral labors of the last few months,’ the pope wrote in the letter dated ‘Lisbon, Aug. 5,’ indicating it was signed while he was in Portugal for World Youth Day. The Vatican published it two days later.” By Cindy Wooden, Catholic News Agency, in National Catholic Reporter

In Idaho, priests come from other nations to fill clergy void
“The number of Catholic priests in the world has been on the decline since World War II, while the number of Catholics has increased. During the years of 1980 to 2012, the ratio of Catholics per priest increased globally, with the number of Catholics per priest going from 1,895 to 3,126. The western part of the United States, however, traditionally has fewer Catholic parishes, schools or people identifying as Catholic. This is mainly due to lower populations in western states, such as Idaho. According to a report commissioned by the organization Vocation Ministry, from 2014 to 2021, there was a 9% decrease in active diocesan priests, a 14% decrease in active religious priests and a 24% decline in total priestly ordinations per year.” By Megan Guido, FāAVS News


LCWR focuses on vastness of universe and life for its annual assembly
“When scientists released the first images from the James Webb Space Telescope in July 2022, many were overwhelmed. ‘The vastness of [the universe], there’s something very humbling and vulnerable about it,’ said Sr. Carol Zinn, a Sister of St. Joseph of Philadelphia and executive director of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, or LCWR. ‘Everything going on in the universe is in the process of dying and destroying and being reborn.’ That reflection of the paschal mystery will be the theme as LCWR holds its annual assembly Tuesday through Friday (Aug. 8-11) in Dallas.” By Dan Stockman, National Catholic Reporter


Vatican financial scandals: corruption, stupidity or both?
“For Americans, making sense of the Vatican trial of 10 defendants charged with financial crimes is nearly impossible. The charges are a tangle of alleged corruption and misconduct … But at its heart are the complexities of any trial. What are the facts? How does the law apply? And which figures in the trial are credible?  One thing is clear. Those involved in the scandal were either corrupt, stupid or both.” By Thomas Reese, National Catholic Reporter


Maura Labelle: Coyne ignored abuse in Vermont. He will do the same in Connecticut
“Without question, Bishop Christopher Coyne of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Burlington earned his promotion to coadjutor archbishop of the Diocese of Hartford, and promotion to simply archbishop in 2024. The position was earned on the backs of clergy abuse victims in Vermont, who were largely ignored during his tenure here.” Opinion by Maura Labelle on VtDigger.com

Main Voices: The Gospel according to Bishop Robert Deeley
“In early June, the Vermont Supreme Court upheld a state law that says defendants’ rights are not violated by retroactively eliminating the civil statute of limitations for child sexual abuse claims. Repealing time limits on when sex abuse lawsuits need to be filed allows survivors to seek delayed justice. Here in Maine, Bishop Robert Deeley is leading Maine’s 200,000-plus Catholics in an all-out war to block victims and survivors of childhood sexual abuse from seeking reparations in a civil courtroom …” By Paul Kendrick, Special to the Press Herald


Colorado lawmakers will pursue constitutional amendment to let survivors of child sex abuse from decades past file lawsuits
“Victims of child sex abuse in Colorado for whom the statute of limitations to file a lawsuit has run out would get another chance to have their day in court under a proposed change to the state constitution. Voters would have to approve the amendment, which comes in response to a Colorado Supreme Court ruling in June striking down a provision in a 2021 law that gave victims of child sex assault dating back to the 1960s a three-year window to sue their abusers and the institutions that allowed their abuse.” By Jesse Paul, The Colorado Sun


Denouncing the handling of abuse cases within the Catholic Church
“On the occasion of World Youth Day in Lisbon from August 1st to 6th, 2023, 333 child figures were be placed in front of the imposing Cologne Cathedral. The small figures are draped in white-purple barrier tape, symbolizing the colors of innocence and the curia. With outstretched hands, they point towards Cologne Cathedral, drawing attention to the church’s disastrous handling of victims and perpetrators of sexual abuse. Through the installation ‘Shattered Souls in a Sea of Silence,’ artist Dennis Josef Meseg aims to ‘give more visibility and a voice to the victims.’” By Denis Josef Meseg, on PRNewsire.com

Sexual abuse: sin, crime and sickness
“There are at least three ways in which Catholics look at wrongdoing, and each of these corresponds to the dominant attitude in society. In this article, I will explore briefly these three different ways, and ask readers which way corresponds to their present mindset. I will use the pedophile crisis as a common example. In traditional, medieval societies where religion is the determining factor, to do wrong is to break God’s law, to offend God, or more simply, to commit a sin.” By UCSNews.com


Archbishop of San Francisco shares important news
“As many of you may know, Catholic dioceses in California have undergone two ‘open window’ periods allowing individuals under civil law to bring claims for childhood sexual abuse that otherwise would have been barred due to the expiration of the statute of limitations … For several months now, with the assistance of our financial and legal advisors, we have been investigating the best options for managing and resolving these cases. After much contemplation and prayer, I wish to inform you that a Chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganization is very likely.” By Archbishop Salvatore J. Cordileone, on sfarch.org


I’m an Illinois Catholic Church sex abuse survivor – I kept my assault at 11 a secret until I made an upsetting discovery
“A survivor who suffered sexual abuse at the hands of the Illinois Catholic Church has spoken out about coming forward as a victim almost 50 years after he was molested by a priest. Dan Ronan, now an Emmy award-winning journalist, was just an 11-year-old alter boy in the fall of 1971 when Father Thomas Gannon abused him after an evening mass at Saint Jerome Roman Catholic Church in the Rogers Park neighborhood of Chicago, Illinois.” By Rachel Dobkin, The U.S. Sun


New Orleans archbishop ignored board findings on clerics accused of abuse
“A board which helps the Roman Catholic archbishop of New Orleans, Gregory Aymond, evaluate abuse allegations against priests and deacons in six cases found clergymen to be credibly accused only for Aymond to ignore the findings and conceal them from the public, a Guardian investigation has found. Aymond’s management of the cases in question as the leader of the US’s second-oldest archdiocese is outlined in a memorandum which attorneys for victims of clerical sexual abuse prepared and handed to law enforcement in the latter part of last year.” By Ramon Antonio Vargas, The Guardian

‘Evil does exist’: Louisiana victim of Catholic priest abuse urges reform
“Tim Gioe will never forget how his Roman Catholic priest, Patrick Wattigny, used their time alone when he was a boy. It was during these moments together – during the sacrament of confession – that Wattigny began grooming him for sexual abuse, of which the clergyman was recently convicted. So now the 36-year-old Gioe and his wife, Sarah, who are raising three sons together, are advocating for schools and other parochial institutions to be formally required to obtain fully informed parental consent before priests are left alone with children to hear about – and forgive – their sins as part of what is also known as reconciliation.” By Ramon Antonio Vargas, The Guardian

‘Utterly ridiculous: clergy abuse survivor blasts lawyers
“High-priced lawyers on both sides of the Archdiocese of New Orleans’ bankruptcy case have created interminable delays and run up ‘utterly ridiculous’ fees, according to a clergy abuse survivor who was a key part of court proceedings that have dragged on for three-and-a-half years with no end in sight. James Adams is a banker and devout Catholic, who served as president of the archdiocese’s fundraising board, Catholic Community Foundation. He said he’s worried about how the archdiocese can survive such a long, costly bankruptcy.” By David Hammer, WWL-TV4 News


AG seeks $1.2 million for staff to prosecute police killings, investigate church abuse
“Maryland Attorney General Anthony Brown has requested about $1.2 million to hire lawyers and investigators who will help the office prosecute police killings and respond to allegations of abuse in the Catholic Church. The Board of Public Works, which comprises the governor, comptroller and treasurer and approves state spending, is expected to vote Wednesday on the attorney general’s request.” By Jack Hogan, The Maryland Daily Record


Court affirms sex abuse conviction of ex-friar who worked at a Catholic school in Mississippi
“The Mississippi Court of Appeals has affirmed the 2022 conviction of a former Franciscan friar in the 1990s sexual abuse of a student at a Catholic school. In a split decision Tuesday (Aug. 2), a majority of the court found ‘no reversible error’ in the conviction of Paul West, 63, who is Central Mississippi Correctional Facility. Leflore County jurors in April 2022 found West guilty of one count of sexual battery and one count of gratification of lust.” By Associated Press


Santa Fe parish picking up the pieces after arrest of popular ex-priest Balizan accused of sex abuse
“Parishioners at Santa María de la Paz Catholic Community in south Santa Fe cried while others sat in stunned silence when Archbishop John C. Wester delivered the devastating news at the start of each Sunday Mass a year ago. The head of the Archdiocese of Santa Fe informed churchgoers the Rev. Daniel Balizan, a charismatic pastor and their shepherd for the past decade, had been removed from his post amid an investigation into alleged misconduct.” By Daniel J. Chacón, Santa Fe New Mexican


Catholic diocese agrees to pay $100 million settlement to hundreds of abuse victims
“The Diocese of Syracuse, New York, has agreed to a $100 million settlement with parishioners who claimed they were preyed on by priests, the biggest payout by a Roman Catholic diocese in the U.S. since at least 2018. But, for now, not a dime of that money is coming from the six insurance companies that cover the Diocese of Syracuse, lawyers involved in the case said Friday (Jul. 28). Instead, as part of its bankruptcy proceedings, the diocese itself will have to shell out $50 million, the parishes in the diocese will have to contribute $45 million, and other entities aligned with the diocese will pay $5 million, to settle the 411 abuse claims filed by 387 people, the lawyers said.” By Corky Siemaszko, NBC-TV News

Attorneys seek to probe $3.75B Fidelis sale OK’s by N.Y. bishops
“Attorneys representing the interests of more than 1,100 former employees of the now-closed St. Clare’s Hospital in Schenectady have asked a federal bankruptcy judge for authority to subpoena documents and testimony regarding the Catholic church’s sale of a lucrative insurance business that had been controlled by New York’s bishops. The 2018 sale of the Fidelis Care insurance company took place months before New York’s Child Victims Act passed, allowing alleged survivors of childhood sexual assault to sue their abusers or the institutions that may have harbored them. Attorneys for some of those plaintiffs have questioned the timing of the sale and whether it was done to shield billions of dollars in assets before New York’s eight dioceses faced an avalanche of litigation.” By Brendan J. Lyons, Buffalo Times Union


Church sex-abuse victims’ claims against bishop time-barred
“The Rhode Island Supreme Court has found that lawsuits brought by three men accusing officials of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Providence of protecting priests who abused them as children were barred by the three-year statute of limitations for personal injury. The plaintiffs, who all allege that they were abused by priests in the 1970s and early 1980s, claim the bishop at the time, Louis Gelineau, and other authorities and entities within the diocese knew the priests were pedophiles and, among other things, declined to warn families while moving offending priests to new parishes.” By Erik T. Barkman, Rhode Island Lawyers Weekly


One year after papal visit and apology, Canada’s bishops reflect on indigenous ourtreach
“A year after Pope Francis visited Canada to apologize for the Catholic Church’s mistreatment of the country’s Indigenous people, the country’s bishops have shared their reflections on his visit and their efforts to serve and reconcile with Indigenous communities. ‘During those days with Pope Francis in Canada, we recognized in him the Lord’s mercy, which he offered to us,’ Bishop Raymond Poisson, president of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB), said in a July 26 statement from the bishops’ conference.” By Kevin J. Jones, Catholic News Agency, in The Catholic World Report


Still waiting: priest not booted from church six months after four girls abuse conviction
“Officials in Rome will rule on beast Father Neil McGarrity, 59, who was convicted six months ago of molesting four girls. He remains suspended after the leader of Catholics in Glasgow, Archbishop William Nolan, referred his case to his bosses. A source told The Scottish Sun on Sunday (Jul. 30): ‘McGarrity’s conduct was investigated by church authorities here.’ By Chris Taylor, The Scottish Sun


Payments begin for 280 priest abuse survivors; Convocar: healing demands justice, restitution
“Millions in cash contributions from the Archdiocese of Agana and its insurers have reached about 280 survivors of childhood sexual assaults by Guam priests and others associated with the Catholic Church, bringing a measure of ‘justice’ and ‘healing’ to those who have suffered from the abuses, some dating as far back as the 1950s. Each abuse survivor reportedly received anywhere from about $40,000 to $100,000. This is only the first of multiple rounds of payouts under a bankruptcy court-approved settlement plan that the archdiocese and its creditors worked on for years.” By Haidee Eugenio Gilbert, Pacific Daily News


Co Tyrone priest appears in court charged with indecent assault on two males
“A Co Tyrone priest who requested a leave of absence earlier this year while a serious safeguarding investigation was carried out has appeared in court on historic sexual offences against two males. Canon Patrick McEntee (69) from Esker Road, Dromore is charged with indecently assaulting a complainant between 1980 and 1981. He is further alleged to have twice indecently assaulted a second complainant on dates between 1988 and 1989. A police officer aware of the facts of the case told Enniskillen Magistrates Court the charges could be connected.” By The Irish Times


Former priest who groped minors is filmed with children on parish radio show
“A former priest who was convicted of violent indecent assault against a minor has been filmed hosting a children’s radio program on a parish radio station. Jesmond Gauci, from Xagħra, featured in a radio broadcast for the parish radio station, where he produced a religious program aimed at children with the participation of other children and adolescents present with him in the studio. He currently serves as Radju Bambina’s program’s manager.” By Jessica Arena, Times Malta


A U.S. group is accusing Mexican bishops of covering up for priests implicated in sex abuse
“A U.S.-based group issued a list Thursday (Aug. 27) of 16 Mexican bishops and high-ranking clerics who allegedly covered up for priests accused of sexual abuse. Massachusetts-based BishopAccountability is a non-profit organization that keeps track of how the Catholic hierarchy deals with allegations of sexual abuse by clergy. The group said Thursday that the Roman Catholic Church officials, some now retired, had ‘covered up for’ abusers.” By Associated Press


Inquiry finds Catholic Church failed to act on Church abuse
“Two days after his arrival at Marylands School, a young boy was taken to the church and forced to perform sexual acts on two religious brothers entrusted to care for him. They pulled out a Bible and told the boy: ‘This is what God means by love.’ A week later he was taken back to the church and raped on the marble altar. This is one of countless cases of horrific historical abuse against young boys at the Christchurch school, which has been referred to by survivors during the Royal Commission of Inquiry as ‘hell on earth.’” By Star News, odt.co.nz


Parliamentary inquest in Peru revives accusations of abuse cover-up against lay group
“It was Oct. 27, 2007, when police in Lima gathered at the city’s famed Plaza San Martin after receiving a tip saying a fair-looking man was hanging around the area talking to minors and then taking them to a hotel. According to the tip, the man would give the minors money to undress, be photographed, and then be groped and/or engage in sexual activity.” By Elise Ann Allen, Cruxnow.com


True faith stands strong despite clerical child abuse, 2
The bishops must never condone, tolerate or cover up child abuse among their clergy. In the Philippines, it is likely none have ever done it. Many try to pay off the victim’s families to drop charges. That priest will feel above the law, protected by the church and bishop, and will abuse more children. Prosecutors must be independent, strong and determined to never give in to pressure and steadfastly uphold the law equally. The judges must deliver justice without fear or favor nor be intimidated by anyone in power, moral or civil, and deliver justice for the abused.” By Fr. Shay Cullen, Panay News


Sex abuse report casts shadow over pope’s Portugal visit
“The 86-year-old pontiff arrives in Lisbon on Wednesday (Aug. 2) and is expected to meet in private with victims of clergy abuse during his five-day visit to attend World Youth Day. Organizers expect up to one million people will take part in the event which is being held for the first time since 2019 due to the Covid-19 pandemic. It comes after an independent commission published a report in February that found ‘at least’ 4,815 children were sexually abused by clergy members in the country — mostly priests — since 1950.” By France24.com