Voice of the Faithful Focus, Jul. 15, 2022


The church with no faith in its women
“‘Embarrassing. Shocking. Scandalous and absolutely unacceptable.’ The 86-year-old Benedictine nun Sister Joan Chittister was in bed this week – recovering from a bout of COVID – when she read that the plenary council of the Australian Catholic Church had refused to pass two pretty gentle, anodyne motions supporting women in positions of leadership in the church. It felt like ‘a red hot poker’ ran through her … The proof is in. You needn’t wear yourself out trying to convince women that the church really appreciates them, their work, their presence, their talents. They know now – right out of the mouth of the episcopacy that voted against them.” By Julia Baird, The Sydney Morning Herald

Pope names three women to Vatican’s Dicastery for Bishops
“Pope Francis on Wednesday (Jul. 13) named three women to the Dicastery for Bishops, the first time women have been appointed to the Dicastery responsible for identifying future bishops globally. The Holy See Press Office published the Pope’s latest appointments to the Dicastery in a statement on Wednesday. The female members are Sister Raffaella Petrini, F.S.E., Secretary General of the Governorate of the Vatican City State; Sister Yvonne Reungoat, F.M.A, former Superior General of the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians; and, Dr. Maria Lia Zervino, President of the World Union of Catholic Women’s Organizations.” By Deborah Castellano Lubov, Vatican News

Effort to educate Catholic priests on what to do when accused of abuse draws criticism
“A new initiative by a group representing U.S. Catholic priests to inform clerics of their canonical rights when they are accused of misconduct, including sexual abuse, is attracting criticism from survivor advocates, who say it could help cast accused priests in an overly sympathetic light.

But the clergy behind the effort by the Association of U.S. Catholic Priests, or AUSCP, argue it is necessary. Over the last 20 years, they say, diocesan leaders have failed to respect priests’ rights under canon law — in some cases allowing accused clerics to languish in administrative “limbo” for several years while civil and church authorities investigate allegations made against them.” By Brian Fraga, National Catholic Reporter

Voice of the Faithful report addresses lay involvement in Catholic Church governance
“Just 10% of U.S. dioceses received scores above 60% in Voice of the Faithful’s recently published 2022 report of lay involvement in Catholic Church governance. This is the first online review of diocesan finance councils’ composition and compliance with Canon Law as represented on diocesan websites. ‘With diocesan finance councils that adhere to the letter and spirit of Canon Law, Catholics can be more confident that diocesan finance councils exercise proper stewardship and oversight of the secular goods of the Church,’ said Joseph Finn, C.P.A., former VOTF treasurer and trustee and longtime advocate for lay role in Church governance.” By Voice of the Faithful on PRNewswire


FBI opens probe of clergy sex abuse
“The FBI has opened a widening investigation into sex abuse in the Roman Catholic Church in New Orleans going back decades, a rare federal foray into such cases looking specifically at whether priests took children across state lines to molest them, officials and others familiar with the inquiry told The Associated Press. More than a dozen alleged abuse victims have been interviewed this year as part of the probe that’s exploring among other charges whether predator priests can be prosecuted under the Mann Act, a more than century-old, anti-sex trafficking law that prohibits taking anyone across state lines for illicit sex.” By Great Falls Tribune

U.S. bishops’ Secretariat for Child and Youth Protection releases annual report
“The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Secretariat of Child and Youth Protection has released their… The report (for audit year July 1, 2021-June 30, 2022) is based on the audit findings of StoneBridge Business Partners. A survey on allegations conducted by the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA) is also included as a part of the report. The 2021 report states that 2,930 victim survivors came forward with 3,103 allegations. The number of allegations is 1,149 less than that reported in 2020. This decrease is due in large part to the resolution of allegations received as a result of lawsuits, compensation programs, and bankruptcies.” By U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops on usccb.org

Exclusive: Pope Francis calls steps against clerical abuse irreversible, despite resistance
“Pope Francis has acknowledged that there is resistance by some national Catholic Churches on implementing measures to protect children from sexual abuse by clergy but said that there is no turning back on an ‘irreversible’ path. Sexual abuse in the Church and measures to combat it were among one of the many Church and international topics the 85-year-old pontiff discussed in an exclusive interview with Reuters in his Vatican residence on July 2.” By Philip Pullella, Reuters


Primate meets Pope Francis as Roman Catholics look to Anglican model of synod
“Anglicans have an indispensable role to play as Roman Catholics start a two-year conversation on how to become a more ‘synodal’ church, Pope Francis said at his first meeting with Archbishop Linda Nicholls, primate of the Anglican Church of Canada. Nicholls met the pope at the latest meeting of the Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission (ARCIC), which took place in May at the Vatican’s Apostolic Palace in Rome … The primate spoke on behalf of the Anglican side of the dialogue. Nicholls presented a formal statement on ARCIC from the Anglican perspective. ARCIC’s other co-chair, Bernard Longley, Archbishop of Birmingham, England, spoke on behalf of Roman Catholics.” By Matt Puddister, Anglican Journal


Eucharist, sacrament of unity and source of division
“You will know that we are Christians by our love, but you will know that we are Catholics by our fights. Sadly, one of the things Catholics fight over is the Eucharist. In his June 29 apostolic letter to the Catholic people, Pope Francis decries this division while describing the Eucharist as the sacrament of unity. The letter, ‘Desiderio Desideravi’ (‘I have earnestly desired’), gives full-throated support to the liturgical reforms of the Second Vatican Council, which called for full, conscious and active participation of the laity in the Eucharist. Francis is clearly saddened by those who reject the reforms that the council found absolutely necessary.” By Thomas Reese


It’s past time for the Vatican to investigate these two Texas bishops
“‘Houston, we have a problem.’ Tom Hanks’ memorable line in the movie ‘Apollo 13,’ about the ill-fated space mission that almost ended in disaster, seems like an appropriate starting point to consider the ecclesiastical situation in the great state of Texas … The situation in Fort Worth is very different from that in Tyler, but the remedy to both situations is the same: It is time for an apostolic visitation in both dioceses. In Fort Worth, there are many things we do not yet know, some of which involve personnel matters that are always shrouded in mystery to those of us on the outside. In Tyler, the bishop demonstrates his incapacities in full view of the public on social media, and does so routinely.” By Michael Sean Winters, National Catholic Reporter


Vatican defrocks Bay Area priest who scolded diocese over sex abuse
“Tim Stier figured it was only a matter of time. Since 2005 he’s refused parish assignments as an Oakland Diocese priest over its handling of clerical sex abuse claims and spent more than a decade outside its cathedral on Sundays calling for church accountability and justice for the victims. He had no plans to end his self-imposed exile and resume work as a parish priest. But when the Vatican finally came for his collar a few months ago, removing him from the Roman Catholic priesthood, Stier said it still felt like a blow.” By John Woolfolk, Marin Independent Journal


Biden awards Sister Simone Campbell Presidential Medal of Freedom, noting her role in passing the Affordable Care Act
“Sister Simone Campbell, a longtime advocate for economic justice and health care policy, and late labor leader Richard Trumka received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor, in a White House ceremony. President Joe Biden presented the award to 15 others as well July 7. ‘For so many people and for the nation, Sister Simone Campbell is a gift from God. For the past 50 years she has embodied the belief in our church that faith without works is dead,’ Biden said of the woman religious whose career has focused on advocating for poor and voiceless people.” By Catholic News Service in America: The Jesuit Review


The problem with women helping select bishops is now what you think it is
“When word surfaces that Pope Francis has given another interview, I think it’s not much of an exaggeration to say there is a world-wide ecclesial holding of breath. His latest, to Reuters on July 2, was no exception, being released in dribs and drabs. The most recent shoe to drop was his declaration that he intended to appoint two women to the Dicastery for Bishops – the body charged with the selection of bishops, among its other duties. The dicastery consists of a permanent staff and a group of bishops and cardinals from around the world who meet regularly to vote on potential candidates for the episcopate.” By The Catholic World Report

Texas Catholic Charities CEO removed after planning women’s empowerment summit
“Catholic Charities Fort Worth in Texas said its women’s summit would have aimed to ‘uplift and amplify the voices and power of women.’ Sheryl Adkins-Green, the chief marketing officer of Mary Kay, was slated to be the keynote speaker. But a clash with the local Catholic bishop, who raised questions about the event’s compatibility with Catholic social teaching, doomed the Women’s Empow[her]ment Summit, which Catholic Charities Fort Worth had scheduled for April 28 in Hurst, Texas.” By Brian Fraga, National Catholic Reporter


Pope Francis’ reforms to church governance are unlike any since Vatican II
“After the reforms laid out by Pope Francis are fully implemented, the Vatican Curia will never be the same. His recent predecessors talked about reforming the Curia, but compared with Francis they were simply rearranging deck chairs. Francis’ changes, most laid out in his March 19 apostolic constitution ‘Praedicate Evangelium’ (‘Preach the Gospel’), are the most dramatic made to church governance since Pope Paul VI, who, in 1965, established the synod of bishops to advise the pope. This innovation never lived up to its potential because synodal bishops were forced to defer to curial cardinals. Only under Francis have the synodal fathers been freed to speak boldly.” By Thomas Reese, Religion News Service


Pope Francis’ new apostolic letter is about more than ‘liturgy wars’
“Pope Francis’ apostolic letter about the sacred liturgy Desiderio Desideravi, which he issued last week, is a remarkable document. As he states in the opening paragraph, this is not an exhaustive treatment of such a rich topic, but his insights are profound and speak, or should speak, to us all. Coupled with the interview the pope gave to Philip Pullella of Reuters over the weekend, we see the Holy Father continuing to invite the church to bestir itself, prodding us to engage the mystery that is at the heart of all we do. Most of the reporting on the letter rightly focused on its significance for the pope’s earlier decision to repeal Summorum Pontificum, Pope Benedict XVI’s initiative that permitted wider celebration of the Tridentine rite.” By Michael Sean Winters, National Catholic Reporter

OSV to launch a new Catholic news service January 1
“One of the oldest and most trusted names in Catholic media in the United States, Our Sunday Visitor, Inc. (OSV) announced today (Jul. 6) that it will launch OSV News, a new Catholic news service, on January 1, 2023. Subscribers to the new service will access OSV News at CatholicNews.com, the current site of Catholic News Service (CNS). The announcement was made by OSV Publisher Scott P. Richert at the annual Catholic Media Conference in Portland, Oregon.” By RNS Press Release Distribution Service


Was Peter’s Pence used to finance investments like the now infamous London property deal?
“The Vatican’s ‘trial of the century,’ scheduled to continue in September, has so far offered plenty of drama and raised numerous unanswered questions. One of the most sensitive, not just for Catholics who have donated money to the Vatican, is this: Was Peter’s Pence used to finance investments like the now infamous London property deal? Donations to Peter’s Pence fell by around 15% in 2021, a marked decrease. Nonetheless, around $47 million was collected last year, with the largest donor nations being the United States (29.3%), followed by Italy (11.3%), Germany (5.2%), Korea (3.2%), and France (2.7%).” By Andrea Gagliarducce, Catholic News Agency, in The Catholic World Report

Pope confident that financial reforms will prevent further scandals
“Responding to a question posed by Reuters news agency, Pope Francis said he believes financial reforms will avoid future scandals, such as those that have hit the headlines in recent years. He mentioned, in particular, the scandal regarding the purchase and sale of the Sloane Avenue building in London, now under scrutiny in an ongoing trial conducted by the Vatican court. Speaking about the building in London, the Reuters journalist asked the Pope, ‘do you believe that enough controls are now in place so that similar scandals could not take place again?’” By Vatican News


Schonstatt movement founder accused of abuse in U.S.
“The Diocese of Trier released a summary of a report detailing allegations of abuse made in the United States against the founder of the Schonstatt movement, Father Joseph Kentenich. According to the summary of the report, which was released by the diocese July 7, the victim accused Kentenich of repeatedly sexually abusing him between 1958 to 1962. The summary stated that ‘circumstantial evidence reviewed as part of the report both supports and contradicts certain aspects of the allegations’ and that ‘because of the passage of time and deaths of key witnesses, ‘conclusiveness’ could not be ascertained.’” By Junno Arocho Esteves, Catholic News Service, on Cruxnow.com

Archdiocesan staff attends international conference on helping clergy abuse victims
“Networking, sharing best practices and finding inspiration were among takeaways for two members of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis who attended an international conference in Rome on clergy sexual abuse titled, ‘Reporting Abuse. Obligations, Dilemmas and Reality.’ ‘I left with a very firm belief that there is a worldwide movement within the Catholic Church that is unstoppable,’ said Tim O’Malley, archdiocesan director of ministerial standards and safe environment. Describing the conference as ‘very powerful,’ O’Malley said he believes dioceses worldwide are moving toward greater accountability for all.” By Barb Umberger, The Catholic Spirit


Editorial: Beware of church’s plan to settle sex abuse cases
“Here’s a life lesson we’ll bet your momma didn’t teach you but which you should heed nonetheless: Be wary of large institutions with a lot of money at stake when they propose a plan to settle their legal issues. That’s the advice we’d give to those who’ll be deciding whether to accept the Albany Catholic Diocese’s proposal to settle more than 400 sexual abuse cases brought against clergy under the state’s Child Victims Act.” By The Daily Gazette Editorial Board

Albany Diocese details clergy abuse compensation proposal
“The Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany on Thursday (Jul. 8) fleshed out its proposal for a mediated settlement process for clergy sex abuse survivors. Aspects of the proposal are unclear, and an attorney for 25 of the roughly 440 people suing the diocese said it raised more questions than it answered. But the diocese emphasized it is just a draft. The diocese first publicly floated the concept June 29. It said mediated compensation could result in faster, more equitable settlements than if it had to litigate each claim in court or if it filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.” By John Cropley, The Daily Gazette


Silence of Catholic Church on Lakota child sexual abuse cases
“In continuing the coverage on the harmful legacy of Catholic schools on South Dakota Indian reservations, a closer look at more recent (in the new millennium) cases brought against two of the educational institutions, St. Francis and Holy Rosary (Red Cloud Indian School) Mission both currently operating on the Rosebud and Pine Ridge Indian Reservations, makes imperative a thorough reevaluation of the role of parochial schools on Native American land. ” By Wasuta Waste Win, Native Sun News Today


Thomas Ericksen, a former Northwoods Wisconsin priest convicted of abusing young boys, is up for parole
“A former Northwoods priest convicted of sexually assaulting boys could be released on parole this summer, after serving about 4 years of a 30-year sentence. Thomas Ericksen will go before the Wisconsin Parole Commission in August, according to Department of Corrections, but a date has not yet been set. Ericksen, 75, was sentenced to 30 years in prison in 2019 on two charges of sexually assaulting boys while stationed at St. Peter’s Catholic Church in Winter in the 1980s. He is also registered as a sex offender for life.” By Laura Schulte, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel


Australia’s Plenary Council assembly passes motions on Indigenous, abuse
“Taking steps to address racism and abuse, the Catholic Church in Australia has officially endorsed the Uluru Statement from the Heart, which calls for a First Nations voice to Parliament to be enshrined in the nation’s constitution. In a separate action, the Plenary Council apologized formally to victims, survivors and families of child abuse and committed to a further investigation into the systemic factors that facilitated it within the church.” By Adam Wesselinoff, Catholic News Service, on Cruxnow.com


Burnaby Catholic school sex-abuse allegations cite convicted Mount Cashel Christian Brother
“A Burnaby Roman Catholic school and two Vancouver church organizations are facing further allegations of sex abuse against a student. In a notice of civil claim filed in B.C. Supreme Court on June 6, John Drescher alleges Brother Kevin Short used his position to prey on him and sexually assault him in 1981 and 1982. Drescher alleges Short took advantage of the fact he was vulnerable and in need of guidance at the time.” By Jeremy Hainsworth, North Shore News

Will pope’s envoy deliver records in B.C. priest sex abuse case
“A man who alleges he was sexually abused by Mission Roman Catholic priests and a seminary employee may not get relevant records in possession of the pope’s envoy to Canada — but there’s a chance he could get them from the defendants. Mark O’Neill is seeking damages for sexual abuse he alleges he suffered as a teen during his time at a Mission Roman Catholic seminary from 1974 to 1978. He was 13- to 17-years-old at the time.” By Jeremy Hainsworth, VancouverIsAwesome.com

Vancouver priests to start annual performance reviews
“Priests in the Archdiocese of Vancouver will undergo regular performance reviews starting this year, the archdiocese announced in its latest update on sexual abuse by priests. The archdiocese released its latest report on sexual abuse June 30. It’s the latest in a series of updates since 2019 when it first released a 12-page report that contained 31 recommendations. An Implementation Working Group has been working to develop solutions for the recommendations.” By B.C. Catholic Spirit


French Catholic Church pays reparations to six victims of child sexual abuse
“In a first of its kind, the Catholic Church in France has paid financial reparations to six victims of child sexual abuse in the church, according to local media. The fund for solidarity and the fight against sexual assault on minors (SALEM), set up by the Conference of Bishops of France, has paid compensation to six victims, French newspaper Journal Du Dimanche reported on Saturday (Jul. 9). The development comes after the Independent National Authority for Recognition and Reparation (Inirr) announced in June that 736 victims of church abuse had come forward to claim compensation. The remaining 730 victims will be compensated in the coming weeks of summer, the report said.” By Shweta Desai, Anadolu Agency on aa.com.tr


Up the $64.3M ‘not guaranteed’ in new Guam clergy sex abuse payout plan
“Amid objections, Guam’s Catholic Church and its bankruptcy creditors made changes to their joint plan to compensate more than 270 survivors of clergy sexual assaults, including a clarification that up to $64.3 million of the proposed payout is ‘not guaranteed.’ Without such a clarification, clergy abuse survivors may go on thinking that their total payouts could be $37 million to $107 million, according to those who filed objections to the original joint plan.” By Haidee Eugenio Gilbert, The Guam Daily Post


The ‘shuffle’ of pedophile priests without punishment
“The Marist Brothers and Fathers have educated prime ministers, judges, cardinals and All Blacks at their prestigious Catholic high schools. But their record of sexual abuse is horrific. Worse still was their handling of the abuse when it was exposed. In this series, The Secret History, Steve Kilgallon investigates the power, abuse and cover-ups at the heart of two highly-influential and wealthy religious groups.” By Steve Kilgallon, Stuff


Failure to report child sex abuse that occurred before change in law is still punishable, rules Supreme Court
“Poland’s Supreme Court has ruled that a person can be held criminally liable for failing to report cases of child sexual abuse even if they occurred before July 2017, when a law making it obligatory to inform the authorities of such crimes came into force. The state commission on sexual crimes against minors has hailed the “landmark ruling” as a boost for victims of abuse seeking justice. One liberal media outlet, meanwhile, describes it as ‘bad news for bishops,’ some of whom have been accused of covering up cases of abuse within Poland’s Catholic church.” By NotesFromPoland.com