Voice of the Faithful Focus, Feb. 16, 2023

Feb. 16, 2023


More than 4,800 victims of sexual abuse uncovered in Portugal’s Catholic Church
“An independent commission looking into the sexual abuse of minors in the Catholic Church says it had documented cases pointing to at least 4,815 victims. Set up by the Portuguese Episcopal Conference to examine abuse in recent decades, the commission added this was the tip of the iceberg. Presenting the report, the commission’s president, child psychiatrist Pedro Strecht, described its objective as ‘giving voice to the silence’ of victims. He paid tribute to the hundreds who contacted its staff to provide testimony. ‘They have a voice; they have a name,’ he said.” By BBC News on YouTube

Catholic Church in Germany has paid $43.5 million to more than 1,800 victims of abuse
“The Catholic Church in Germany has so far paid more than $43.5 million (40 million euros) to victims of sexual abuse, German Catholic KNA agency has reported. The Independent Commission for Recognition Payment approved an average amount of $24,000 (22,150 euros) in 1,809 cases. The commission’s annual report was presented in Bonn Feb. 3. There have been a total of 1,839 applications from victims of sex abuse seeking compensation from the Catholic Church.” By OSV News in America: The Jesuit Review

Irish Catholic Church in ‘terminal decline’ after sexual abuse scandals
“Ireland was once regarded as the most catholic Country in the World. That, though, is no longer the case. Mark Vincent Healy was sexually abused by a member of the Spiritan Order while at school during the 1960s and 70s. He says the sexual abuse he experienced destroyed his life. ‘It had a profound psychological effect on me and the way that I made decisions in things that I wanted to do with my life, even more recently and obviously when this matter came forward and it surfaced in my life, everything changed,’ he revealed to Euronews.” By Euronews.com

Which U.S. dioceses have declared bankruptcy? Here’s a map
“Cardinal Robert McElroy announced last week that the San Diego Diocese may have to resort to a declaration of bankruptcy in 2023 to manage the cost of hundreds of new abuse claims. The Santa Rosa Diocese in California might also declare bankruptcy, according to local media reports. At issue, McElroy said, is a mounting number of abuse claims filed under a three-year window opened by California’s governor, which began in 2020 and expired on Dec. 31, 2022. Some of the new abuse claims brought to the diocese date back 75 years, the cardinal wrote.” By Jonah McKeown, Catholic News Agency


Child sex abuse in the Catholic Church
“Portugal on Monday (Feb. 13) will become the latest country to issue an independent report into clerical sexual abuse, an issue that has dogged the Catholic Church for years and undermined its moral authority. From Australia to Ireland via the United States, thousands of priests, bishops and cardinals have been caught up in abuse scandals, as well as lay members of the Church such as Catholic school teachers or youth group leaders … Between 1950 and 2018, the US Catholic Church received credible complaints of child sex abuse involving 7,002 members of the clergy, according to the website bishop-accountability.org.” By Agence France-Presse on licasnews.com

New York debates whether clergy should be required to report abuse
“If a member of the clergy suspects that a child in the congregation has been abused, is the clergyperson legally required to report it? In New York state, the answer is no. But some advocates, clergy members and lawmakers think that should change. The issue is at the heart of the Child Abuse Reporting Expansion Act, a bill making its way through the state legislature that, if passed, would make clergy mandated reporters.” By Kathryn Post, The Washington Post


Irish delegates call for radical change in European assembly of churches
“An assembly of the Catholic Church in Europe has been told that members in Ireland want women to be admitted to the diaconate and priesthood. In island-wide consultations ‘many women communicated their pain at being denied their agency in the life of the church and spoke of feelings of exclusion and discrimination. Women play a critical role in the life of the church but so many men and women have spoken of the church excluding’ the fullness of the gifts of women,’ representatives of the Irish church said. In Ireland there was ‘a deep longing for a more inclusive and welcoming church.’” By Patsy McGarry, The Irish Times

After synodal assembly Europe’s bishops pledge to ‘work tirelessly’ to enlarge Catholic tent
“‘Something special happened here,’ Archbishop Eamon Martin, president of the Irish bishops’ conference, said at the close of a continental assembly of the European Catholic Church held this month as part of Pope Francis’ ongoing process to reinvigorate the Synod of Bishops. As in-person participants, among them the representatives of 39 bishops’ conferences across Europe, filed out of the assembly venue in the Czech Republic capital of Prague, the leader of the Irish church said in a video statement that there had been ‘huge diversity, a huge range of opinions’ and ‘a strong acceptance that the body of Christ is wounded and in need of healing in so many ways.’” By Sarah Mac Donald, National Catholic Reporter

Oceania/Fiji Islands – Assembly of the Bishops of Oceania wants to ‘listen to the people of God’
“The Assembly of the Federation of the Four Catholic Bishops’ Conferences of Oceania (FCBCO) was inaugurated yesterday, Sunday 5 February, with a Mass in the Sacred Heart Cathedral of Suva, capital of Fiji. Present at Suva Cathedral were hundreds of local faithful, dozens of bishops, priests and religious, and other assembly participants. Referring to the Gospel of the Day, Cardinal Michael Czerny, Prefect of the Dicastery for Integral Human Development, said: ‘To be the salt of the earth and the light of the world, we must rediscover the power of being brothers and sisters in Christ.’” By Agenzia Fides on Fides.org, Information Service of the Pontifical Mission Societies

Reform and renewal – Prague gathering aims to chart new pathway for global Catholic Church
“Delegates representing the Catholic Church in Ireland will join another 200 in-person and 390 online delegates from around Europe at an assembly in Prague today (Feb. 7) to hammer out recommendations on reform and renewal for global Catholicism. The ground-breaking European Synodal Assembly in the Czech capital is the next stage in a radical process of widespread consultation within the church initiated by Pope Francis in 2021.” By Sarah Mac Donald, Independent.ie

Tobin says ‘doctrinal change’ not the point of Synod on Synodality
“While two of his fellow American bishops clash over possible doctrinal changes as a result of the Synod of Bishops on Synodality, one US cardinal is calling a focus on outcomes rather than process a ‘red herring.’ ‘There are certainly voices that would suggest the need to change Catholic doctrine, but I don’t think that’s what the Holy Father has in mind in this whole process,’ said Cardinal Joseph Tobin of Newark in an interview with Crux. ‘It’s much more about how we walk together.’” By John Lavenburg, Cruxnow.com


Francis is ‘light years ahead’ of other popes in tackling abuse scandal, says pioneering journalist
“An American journalist who was one of the first reporters in the world to expose the clerical child sex abuse scandal in the Catholic Church says Pope Francis ‘has gone far beyond his two predecessors in confronting’ the issue. Jason Berry (73), an author and documentary-maker, said the current pope ‘has made his share of mistakes, not heeding Ireland’s survivor leader Marie Collins on genuine reform, and his failure initially to believe news reports about the scandals in Chile. But he did change, sacking a third of the Chilean hierarchy and getting to know survivors like Juan Carlos Cruz [a prominent international campaigner on the issue].’” By Patsy McGarry, The Irish Times


Enlarge the tent by rethinking women’s ordination
“The recently released Working Document for the Continental Stage, or DCS, of the Synod on Synodality is like a breath of fresh air, according to most women. It mentions that reports from all over the world display an urgency to critically rethink women’s fullest participation in the life and mission of the church as ‘baptized and equal members of the People of God.’ This implies greater involvement in significant decision-making and administrative processes. Hope of women receiving the sacrament of holy orders is also expressed in synodal reports.” By Nameeta Renu, Global Sisters Report, National Catholic Reporter

Vatican’s most senior woman says Catholic Church ‘failed’ child abuse victims
“The Vatican’s most senior woman says the Catholic Church has ‘failed’ victims of child abuse, and the church must become more modern and inclusive to stay relevant. Sister Nathalie Becquart, the first woman to receive voting rights in the Synod of Bishops, is on a tour of Australian Catholic dioceses, advocating for the church to listen more to its congregation.” By Isobel Roe, ABC News

Church encourages women in South Sudan to break through cultural barriers
“In South Sudan, the cultural expectations for women are clear: They’re to get married young, have children, and stay at home to watch over and support their families, giving little thought to things such as an education and a career … However, increasingly, South Sudan women are pushing back. Martha Malok Acingath, 18, is a graduate of the secondary school Treacy runs in Rumbek, and is eager to begin university classes in Kenya in another years’ time, with ambitions to pursue a degree in criminal law.” By Elise Ann Allen, Cruxnow.com


Stop prioritizing powerful institutions and focus on the safety of the children
“I signed up to speak at Rep. Rozzi’s ‘listening tour’ event on 1/27/23 as a public commenter. Unfortunately, I wasn’t selected and didn’t get that opportunity. I stayed publicly silent for 32 years after being sexually abused as a child. Then, I shared my story with Philadelphia Magazine in 2018, detailing my life at ages 12-14 when I was groomed and then repeatedly sexually abused by a teacher at my middle school.” By Liz Goldman, ChildUSA


Roman Catholic Diocese sent out letter from bishop amid possibility of bankruptcy
“The Roman Catholic Diocese of San Diego could be facing bankruptcy in the coming months, according to a letter signed by the Bishop of San Diego, Robert Cardinal McElroy. Reverend Efrain Bautista told CBS 8 they mailed the letters out to parishioners this weekend to keep them informed on the situation. However, many parishioners CBS 8 spoke to at mass Sunday (Feb. 12) said they never received the letter in the mail … The idea of potentially filing for bankruptcy comes after Assembly Bill 218 lifted the statute of limitations.” By Ariana Cohen, CBS-TV8 News

‘Pure greed’: Indy woman, 72, who stole nearly $547,000 from Catholic church gets fed time
“It took Marie Carson 13 years to embezzle nearly $574,000. Now the 72-year-old will spend two years in federal prison and was ordered to pay it all back. Carson pleaded guilty to wire fraud after being accused of illegally transferring the money from the business accounts of Saint Matthew Catholic Church and School in Indianapolis to her personal bank accounts, a news release from the United States Department of Justice states.” By Jen Guadarrama, IndyStar

Steubenville diocese announces external audit as part of merger reflection
“Bishop Jeffrey Monforton announced on Feb. 2 that the Diocese of Steubenville has commenced an external financial audit, part of a process of charting a viable future for the diocese, which may include a merger somewhere down the line. Monforton provided the update in the Steubenville Register. It comes about four months after he announced his desire for the diocese to merge with the neighboring Diocese of Columbus, which was met with swift backlash that ultimately tabled a November U.S. bishops vote on the idea.” By John Laenburg, Cruxnow.com


Vatican conference aims to empower laity without ‘clericalizing’ them
“Ahead of a high-profile Vatican conference on collaboration among laypeople and clergy, several Vatican officials stressed the importance of empowering laity without ‘clericalizing’ them or, in the case of women, trying to ‘stake a claim’ or to fill gender quotas. Speaking to journalists Tuesday, American Cardinal Kevin Farrell, head of the Vatican’s Dicastery for Laity, Family, and Life, spoke of ‘co-responsibility’ between clergy and laity, saying, ‘Co-responsibility is exactly what it says…It does not mean that the laity in the church have to become clerics, and clerics in the church have to become laity.’” By Elise Ann Allen, Cruxnow.com


Pope Francis is redefining ‘the spirit of Vatican II’
“The phrase ‘the spirit of Vatican II’ gets tossed around a lot lately, especially by people with clear political agendas. It’s become a cudgel for both the left and right, tangled up in the culture wars consuming America. That spirit either signals pent-up hopes for the church’s future or utter despair —depending on which side of the aisle you stand. What ‘the spirit of Vatican II’ means for Catholics today may come into focus over the next few weeks.” By Joe Ferullo, National Catholic Reporter


Judge upholds Main law allowing older sex abuse lawsuits
“A state judge on Tuesday (Feb. 14) upheld a Maine law that eliminated the statute of limitations for child sexual abuse, allowing survivors to pursue lawsuits for sex crimes that happened decades ago. An attorney for more than a dozen plaintiffs who have brought civil lawsuits since the law went into effect praised the decision. ‘Survivors have suffered a lifetime of pain that has affected their relationships at home, at work, and in the world. Now survivors are empowered to face those who allowed such heinous abuse and hold them accountable,’ attorney Michael Bigos said in a statement.” By David Sharp, Associated Press

California lawmakers seek to end civil statute of limitations on childhood abuse claims
“Childhood victims of sexual abuse in California would no longer face deadlines to file civil claims against their alleged abusers under a new bill announced Monday (Feb.. 6) by Assemblymember Dawn Addis (D-Morro Bay) and Sen. Nancy Skinner (D-Berkeley). The Justice for Survivors Act seeks to end the civil statute of limitations for child sexual abuse, including claims against institutions that may have enabled or covered up abuse. Under the state’s current law, survivors are required to file claims in civil court by their 40th birthday, or in some cases, within five years after discovering their abuse as an adult.” By Candice Nguyen, Michael Bott and Mark Villarreal, NBC-TV Bay Area News

R.I. high court weighs whether law allows Providence Diocese to be sued in older child sexual abuse cases
“Victims of childhood sexual abuse by priests asked the state Supreme Court in oral arguments Wednesday (Feb. 1) to revive their lawsuits against the Diocese of Providence, arguing that a state law passed in 2019 allowed them to sue the institution and its leaders. The case comes down to whether the Diocese of Providence and its leaders can be considered ‘perpetrators’ of childhood sexual abuse under a 2019 law. The victims argue that the conduct of the diocese and its leaders was so egregious that they could be considered a ‘perpetrator,’ the same way the driver of a getaway car can be criminally charged in a bank robbery.” By Brian Ameral, The Boston Globe


Six key details in the new report on Jean Vanier’s abuse
“Earlier this week, a commission of French scholars released the results of their two-year investigation, nearly 900 pages of information, on sexual and spiritual abuse by Jean Vanier, his mentor Thomas Philippe, and their mystical-sexual sect that played a role in the founding of L’Arche, a worldwide organization that supports people with intellectual disabilities. The report includes historical, sociological, psychological, theological, and religious analysis, drawing from more than 200 hours of interviews and numerous documents from the archives of two L’Arche communities, L’Arche International, the French Dominicans, the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith, Vanier’s personal archives, and more.” By Mitchell Atencio and Betsy Shirley, Sojourners


Catholic church agrees to settlement in alleged East Hartford child sexual abuse, attorney says
“An attorney representing a woman who alleges she was sexually abused as a child by a Catholic priest in East Hartford said they reached a settlement with the church. The woman’s lawyer, Mitchell Garabedian, said the claim was outside of the statute of limitations and was settled ‘in the low six figures.’ The settlement was finalized in January, he said. Garabedian said his client, who is now an adult, was repeatedly sexually abused by Toribio Villacastin, a priest assigned to St. Isaac Jogues Parish in East Hartford from 1969 to 1970.” By Peter Yanbkowski, CT Insider


Department of Children and Families investigating Pensacola church volunteer deacon
“The Florida Department of Children and Families is investigating claims made against a volunteer deacon at Little Flower Catholic Church in Pensacola, according to the Diocese of Pensacola-Tallahassee. The Diocese of Pensacola-Tallahassee says Little Flower Catholic School received a complaint from three students about the deacon who oversees mass at Little Flower Catholic Church. The deacon will not serve the ministry until the investigation is complete.” By WEAR-TV3 News


Lake Zurich pastor again reinstated after archdiocese finds insufficient evidence of abuse
“The pastor of a Catholic parish in Lake Zurich has again been reinstated to the ministry after an Archdiocese of Chicago panel found no sufficient evidence he had sexually abused a minor, Cardinal Blase Cupich announced in a letter to parishioners Saturday (Feb. 11) night. The Rev. David J. Ryan, who stepped aside when the allegations surfaced in September, can return immediately to his duties at St. Francis de Sales Parish, Cupich wrote.” By Charles Keeshan, Daily Herald

Letter from Cardinal Blasé Cupich, archbishop of Chicago, on Father David Ryan
“Dear Parishioners of St. Francis de Sales Parish: Last September, I informed you of new allegations the Archdiocese of Chicago received, accusing Fr. David F. Ryan of sexually abusing a minor. In keeping with our procedures, he once again was asked to step aside from his pastoral duties until a thorough investigation and process could be completed. He has fully cooperated with civil authorities and the Archdiocese of Chicago during these months. After numerous attempts, those making the accusations have refused to cooperate with both civil and church investigations.” By Cardinal Blasé Cupich

A priest scandal rocked Belleville Diocese 30 years ago. How have things changed?
“What a difference 30 years makes. The watchdog organization Voice of the Faithful recently ranked the Catholic Diocese of Belleville the seventh most ‘financially transparent’ diocese in the United States. The lay organization’s 2022 report states that, while financial transparency wouldn’t have prevented clergy sexual abuse in the past, it would have kept the Catholic Church from secretly paying cash settlements to families of child victims in exchange for their silence.” By Teri Maddox, Bellville News-Democrat


Three words: How the Catholic Church and allies altered a bill to protect it from sex abuse lawsuits
“(Kathleen) Hoke (former assistant attorney general) understands better than most the consequence of a bill passed by state lawmakers — unwittingly, some legislators say — to create a statute of repose for lawsuits over child sexual abuse. Five years later, the implications are still coming into focus. Authorities recently told the courts they finished a nearly four-year investigation into the Archdiocese of Baltimore and uncovered a history of child sexual abuse by priests. The revelation set off a groundswell of support for survivors. In Annapolis, there’s more political will than ever before to remove a legal barrier for adult survivors to sue the church. There’s just one problem — those three words (statute of repose).” By Tim Prudente, The Baltimore Banner

‘I’m a survivor’: parishioner finds strength in faith even after abuse
“Patty Ruppert was trembling so badly she wasn’t sure she would get through her talk. Standing in front of her fellow parishioners at the conclusion of an evening Mass in December, the faith formation director at Immaculate Heart of Mary revealed a painful secret few knew about her: she is a survivor of sexual abuse in the Catholic Church. “I stand here to try to help others put a face to this horrible reality of abuse,” said Ruppert, who gave the same address at all the liturgies that weekend.” By George P. Mastysek, Jr., Archdiocese of Baltimore Catholic Review


Diocese of Worcester releases report on allegations of cleric abuse of minors
“A new report by the Diocese of Worcester identified 173 credible allegations of cleric abuse of minors since the diocese was established in 1950. The diocese said the report by Bishop Roberth McManus serves as an update to the 2004 report by then-Bishop Daniel Reilly. The total number of allegations made in the review, including allegations deemed unsubstantiated false or withdrawn, was 209.” By Spectrum News


Two former SLU priests accused of abuse
“St. Louis University has learned that two of its former priests have been ‘credibly accused’ of sexual abuse. The regional Jesuits’ Province added the men’s names to a list tracking highly probable abuse incidents. One priest, the late Daniel Campbell, was a faculty member in the late 1950s. The other, David V. Meconi, was working at SLU as recently as 2021. According to the Province, the timeframe of the abuse allegations against him was from 2015-2016. Meconi directed the university’s Catholic Studies center. In a letter to the SLU community, president Fred Pestello said the university is coordinating support for those who were affected. He also urged people to report any instances of abuse.” By KMOX News Radio


The challenge for the archdiocese: looking forward, but never forgetting
“Archbishop John C. Wester has seen the Archdiocese of Santa Fe through a cataclysmic clergy abuse scandal, a bankruptcy of more than $121 million, and worst of all, the unscrubbable stain of the damage done to hundreds or thousands of New Mexico Roman Catholics, most of them children. The clip file is huge and painful. But if you look at the calendar, much of it is in the past. Or is it? Not by a long shot. My source? Archbishop John C. Wester. ‘You know, sometimes people say, ‘Well, I guess we’ve settled that,’ Wester said in a recent interview. ‘I say, ‘Oh, no, we haven’t settled it at all.’” By Phill Casaus, Santa Fe New Mexican


New Details: Jamestown priest arrested on sexual exploitation charges
“A priest with The Diocese of Fargo was arrested Wednesday (Feb. 1) on suspicion of committing sexual exploitation by therapist in Stutsman County. The Diocese says on Jan. 14, Father Neil Pfeifer was removed from active ministry, pending an investigation into allegations of inappropriate conduct. ‘Today I have learned that Father Pfeifer was arrested. Father Pfeifer remains out of ministry as pastor of the Basilica of St. James in Jamestown, St. Margaret Mary in Buchanan and St. Mathias in Windsor, pending the outcome of the criminal investigation,’ said the Most Reverend John Folda, Bishop of Fargo. ‘Please pray for all involved.’” By Kortney Lockey, Valley News Live


Harrisburg diocese bankruptcy finalized: restitution set for abuse survivors
“A federal judge gave final approval Wednesday (Feb. 15) to a bankruptcy settlement that will require the Roman Catholic Diocese of Harrisburg and its insurers to provide $18.25 million in restitution to survivors of child sexual abuse in the church. Negotiations over the settlement spanned almost three years, with the diocese and a committee representing sexual abuse survivors reaching an agreement in November. Patrick Duggan, an abuse survivor who served on this committee, called Wednesday’s legal resolution ‘bittersweet’ — noting that it secured money for damages and numerous commitments from the diocese but also leaves some survivors without the chance to confront church representatives in court.” By Bethany Rodgers, York Daily Record


What we know about the Catholic Diocese of Knoxville investigations and lawsuits
“In the last year, the Catholic Diocese of Knoxville has been hit with two lawsuits alleging improper investigations into sexual assault complaints. These lawsuits cracked open the inner workings of the diocese. In the course of reporting on the lawsuits, Knox News has published a number of articles detailing different aspects of how the diocese has, and has not, held itself accountable. Here is a look at the findings of Knox News’ investigation.” By Tyler Whetstone, KnoxNews

Knoxville diocese asks judge to allow it to keep documents secret, cites Knox News reports
“The Catholic Diocese of Knoxville is asking a judge to grant greater secrecy as the church continues to defend itself in an explosive sexual abuse lawsuit. The effort is in large part due to the reporting of Knox News. The Catholic Diocese of Knoxville has asked a judge to allow it to keep secret internal documents as it defends itself in an explosive sexual abuse lawsuit.” By Tyler Whetstone, KnoxNews.com


Congolese survivors of abuse by Catholic priests demand Pope take action
“On Thursday (Feb. 2), protesters gathered outside Kinshasa’s Notre Dame Cathedral to denounce systemic sexual abuse in the Catholic Church. Advocates are drawing attention the case of a 14-year-old girl who was raped by a priest in the DRC, and demanding the church apply a 2019 law enacted by the pope to hold bishops accountable for sex abuse or for covering it up.” By DemocracyNow.org


Funding scheme offers healing for victims of Church abuse
“People who have been abused or harmed in Church or other settings and are seeking healing may be eligible for a new funding scheme available in 2023. The Grief to Grace team in Perth is making funds available to cover anyone in Australia who wants to attend the healing retreat program overseas. The program has been offered in Australia three times, however COVID-19 and other issues have made it difficult to continue offering the program locally. This is why the Perth site has decided to release funds to help people living in Australia to attend the program at established Grief to Grace sites in the UK, US and Europe.” By CathNews.com

Secondary victims in abuse cases – developing law in Australia and England
“The Australian Victorian Supreme Court has permitted a claim for damages by a secondary victim of abuse and effectively confirmed the extension of liability to secondary victims … The claim was brought by a father whose son had allegedly been abused by George Pell, the second defendant to the proceedings and a Vatican official, in 1996 when Pell was appointed as an assistant priest, bishop, auxiliary bishop and cardinal in Australia. The claim was also brought against the Catholic Archdiocese of Melbourne, the first defendant.” By Amanda Do, Alastair Gillespie, Lucinda Lyons and Katherine Neal, Clyde & Co., on clydeco.com

Safeguarding expert’s meetings with local leaders ‘an encouraging opportunity’
“International safeguarding expert Fr Hans Zollner SJ says his latest visit to Australia has been an encouraging opportunity to strengthen the global network of individuals committed to safeguarding children and vulnerable people from abuse. Fr Zollner is the director of the Institute of Anthropology, Interdisciplinary Studies on Human Dignity and Care (IADC) at Pontifical Gregorian University. His 10-day trip to Australia concluded on Saturday (Feb. 11).” By CathNews.com


Parents learn of sex abuse case against teacher six months after hearing
“Parents of students at a Catholic high school in Perth, Ont., are only now being told about a historic sexual abuse case, nearly half a year after the province’s regulatory body for teachers deemed it credible. The Ontario College of Teachers ruled last summer that Edward (Ted) Michael Oliver was guilty of professional misconduct after it investigated allegations that he sexually abused a 17-year-old female student while he was teaching at St. John Catholic High School. The regulator revoked Oliver’s teaching certificate after verifying complaints through its internal disciplinary process.” By Giacomo Panico, CBC


Church in Costa Rica to compensate four victims of ex-priest serving 20-year sentence
“The Costa Rican Bishops’ Conference and the Archdiocese of San José announced that an agreement has been reached to compensate four victims of sexual abuse by ex-priest Mauricio Víquez Lizano, who is serving a 20-year prison sentence. The bishops said in a Feb. 1 statement that in order to close the legal proceedings for damages against the victims, “an agreement has been reached” that is “satisfactory to all parties.” By Catholic News Agency


Abusive German priest with links to late pope to face trial in March
“The civil lawsuit by a German abuse victim against a convicted abusive priest with links to the late pope Benedict XVI and representatives of the Catholic Church is now due before court on March 28. The Traunstein Regional Court in the southern state of Bavaria set the trial date on Thursday (Feb. 9) in a case which is considered one of the most prominent in the abuse scandal involving the German Catholic Church. The priest, a repeat offender convicted of sexual abuse identified by the initial H under Germany’s strict privacy laws, must appear in court.” By Gwinnett Daily Post


Sexual abuse in the Portuguese Catholic Church reached ‘epic proportions’
“On February 13, the final report of the Independent Commission for the Study of Sexual Abuse in the Portuguese Catholic Church will be released. In October, the commission had already validated testimony from 424 witnesses, but most had already expired in legal terms. However, Pedro Strecht, President of the Independent Commission for the Study of Sexual Abuse in the Portuguese Catholic Church, says what they have is compelling: “The witness reports present a lot of identical information, a fact that reinforces the consistency of the testimonies and outlines serious situations existing over decades that become more evident the further you go back in time, and in some places, they assumed truly endemic proportions.” By Filipa Soares, EuroNews.com