Voice of the Faithful Focus, Mar. 16, 2023

Mar. 16, 2022


A look back at Pope Francis’ legacy as he marks 10 years of papacy
Pope Francis marks 10 years of his papacy on March 13. The 86-year-old pontiff has pushed the Catholic Church to the left, cheering many Catholics but also angering traditionalists. Tomorrow, Pope Francis will mark 10 years as leader of the world’s 1.3 billion Catholics. NPR’s Sylvia Poggioli reports on the papacy that, over the last decade, has steered the church leftward after more than three decades of conservative leadership.” By Sylvia Poggioli, National Public Radio

Does the Catholic Church really believe women are people?
“It can seem simplistic to say that the life and dignity of people within the Church begins with baptism and must be respected. But when the Church makes statements that imply or directly state that women cannot image Christ, the Risen Lord, there is much to be criticized. While it may seem incomprehensible in current times to say that women cannot—do not—image Christ, this is the bedrock of the argument that women cannot receive sacramental ordination. The implications of this statement or belief are enormous. Its errors are equally enormous.” By Phyllis Zagano, U.S. Catholic

Illinois bishop’s provocative essay suggests Cardinal McElroy is a heretic
“In a provocative essay published Feb. 28 at First Things magazine, Bishop Thomas Paprocki of Springfield, Illinois, appears to accuse San Diego Cardinal Robert McElroy of heresy, citing the cardinal’s views on how the Catholic Church should minister to LGBTQ people and Catholics who have been divorced and remarried. Paprocki, a hardline conservative prelate and canon lawyer, does not mention McElroy by name in the essay, but quotes directly from a Jan. 24 article the cardinal wrote at America magazine. Repeating a phrase in an October document from the Synod of Bishops, McElroy had called for a church that favors ‘radical inclusion’ of everyone, including those whose personal situations may not strictly conform with church doctrine.” By Brian Fraga, National Catholic Reporter

Future Pope John Paul covered up child sex abuse while cardinal: report
“The late Polish pope John Paul II knew about child abuse in Poland’s Catholic church years before becoming pontiff and helped cover it up, private broadcaster TVN reported Sunday (Mar. 5). Michal Gutowski, the investigator behind the broadcast, said that Karol Wojtyla, as he then was, knew of cases of pedophile priests within the church while still a cardinal in Krakow. He transferred the priests to other dioceses — one as far away as Austria — to ensure no scandal ensued, he said.” By Agence France Press in Barron’s

Papal advisor says ‘Vos estis,’ Francis’ key clergy abuse reform, ‘not working’
“One of Pope Francis’ key advisors on clergy sexual abuse admitted that the pontiff’s signature effort to confront abuse and cover-up is ‘very often’ not working, as part of a virtual conversation with Catholic abuse survivors on March 2. Jesuit Fr. Hans Zollner spoke about Vos estis lux mundi, a sweeping set of laws issued by Francis in 2019, as part of a question-and-answer session with survivors of clergy sexual abuse sponsored by Awake Milwaukee, a Catholic group focused on sexual abuse in the Catholic Church.” By Aleja Hertzler-McCain, National Catholic Reporter


Judge approves public release of Baltimore Catholic church sex abuse report with redactions
“A Baltimore Circuit Court judge ordered the redactions submitted by the Maryland Attorney General’s Office must be included in the report regarding sexual abuse in the Baltimore Archdiocese.” By WJZ-TV CBS News, Baltimore

Adams says ending exception for child abuse reporting forces clergy to choose between faith, jail
Lawmakers have proposed several bills this session that would end the clergy exception for reporting child abuse, but with less than a week before the Utah Legislature adjourns, none have been granted a public hearing. When asked why the bills — all of which were publicly released before the legislative session began in January — have yet to come up for discussion, Senate President Stuart Adams, R-Layton, said he doesn’t want to force clergy to choose between breaking a tenet of their faith or breaking state law.” By Bridger Beal-Cvetko, KSL.com


Bishop Daniel Flores named to synod preparatory commission
“Cardinal Mario Grech, secretary-general of the Synod, has named Bishop Daniel E. Flores of Brownsville, Texas, and six others to be members of the preparatory commission for the general assembly of the Synod of Bishops in October. According to the apostolic constitution for the synods, the secretary-general establishes the commission ‘for further exploration of the theme and for the redaction of any documents that may be issued prior to the Synod Assembly.’” By OSV News in America: The Jesuit Review

Catholic Church: Germany’s controversial Synodial Way
“A small revolution? No, but the German Synodal Way has paved the way for reform to change Church practices on same-sex couples and lay preaching. ‘The Holy Spirit expresses itself, above all, in the wisdom of an assembly,’ said the president of the German Bishops’ Conference, Bishop Georg Bätzing, at the end of the plenary assembly of the Synodal Path in Frankfurt Cathedral on Saturday. Three years ago, at the end of January 2020, a service in the same building marked the beginning of the first assembly of the Synodal Path: a long conversation between Christian laity and bishops to make the Catholic Church, which had been heavily shaken by a series of abuse scandals, more credible and fit for the future.” By Christof Strack, Deustche Welle

A gentle warning for Pope Francis critics (and cheerleaders): The Synod is about conversion, not winning an argument
“Recent heated conversations among Catholic leaders about inclusivity and the church’s teaching on sexual morality, particularly in response to Cardinal Robert W. McElroy’s recent articles on these subjects for America, raise a question: What is the point of the Synod on Synodality? If the point is clarifying theological debate, then it seems like an inefficient and painful way to rehash old arguments in moral theology. But is that the call of the Spirit to the church right now? If the point of the Synod – and more broadly a synodal way of the church – however, is conversion, then we desperately need that.” By Bill McCormick, S.J., America: The Jesuit Review

The synod is missing something essential: other churches
“The unprecedented worldwide consultation now underway in our church promises to be the most influential religious event of the 21st century … Never before has our church’s leadership so clearly desired to learn ‘the sense of the faithful.’ Never before has it implemented such a detailed, methodical process to discern that sense … The ‘National Synthesis’ reveals, however, that we have drastically limited our vision of reform and the resources available to accomplish it. We have ignored the gifts and graces of our sisters and brothers in other churches.” By Jon Nilson, America: The Jesuit Review

Bishops, theologians talk frankly about synodality at Boston College conference
“For the second consecutive year, dozens of theologians and bishops from across the United States gathered together to discuss how the Catholic Church can better live out the synodal path that Pope Francis has said is what ‘God expects of the church of the third millennium.’ The conference, “The Way Forward: Pope Francis, Vatican II, and Synodality,” was held March 3-4 at Boston College. Several bishops over the event’s two days were forthright in describing their thoughts and experiences during the local consultative process of the 2021-23 Synod of Bishops on synodality, noting challenges during the process and some resistance to the synod.” By Brian Fraga, National Catholic Reporter

Official of Synod of Bishops advocates for ‘an African theology of synodality’
“The Secretary General of the Synod of Bishops is advocating for ‘an African theology of synodality,’ which he says would have a positive impact to the Catholic Church across the globe. In his speech at the ongoing Plenary Assembly of the Symposium of Episcopal Conference of Africa and Madagascar (SECAM) on Thursday, March 2, Mario Cardinal Grech acknowledged with appreciation the ‘significant resources’ on the African continent that can benefit the Universal Church.” By ACI Africa Staff

The most defining characteristic of Francis’ papacy is synodality
“In assessing the pontificate of Francis at the 10-year mark, we have looked at his self-understanding of the papal role as a pastor, his placement of mercy at the heart of his teaching, and his efforts to reform the church. All three themes find their fullest ecclesial expression in Francis’ commitment to synodality. Commonweal senior writer Paul Baumann recalled a written symposium sponsored by The Wall Street Journal in the weeks after Pope Benedict XVI resigned but before Francis was elected. Several Catholic writers (including myself) were asked what the Catholic Church needed in its new pope. George Weigel said we needed a ‘culture warrior.’ In a sense, Weigel got his wish, albeit not in the sense he intended!” By Michael Sean Winters, National Catholic Reporter


Pope Francis’ decade of division
“Lent is with us, and so is the 10th anniversary of Pope Francis’ ascent to the papal throne — an appropriate conjunction, since these are days of tribulation for his papacy. There is the two-front war that Rome finds itself fighting on doctrine and liturgy, trying to squash the church’s Latin Mass traditionalists while more gently restraining the liberal German bishops from forcing a schism on Catholicism’s leftward flank.” By Ross Douthat, The New York Times

Pope Francis’ papacy in his own words
“Below are some memorable quotes from Pope Francis, who marks the 10th anniversary of his election as pontiff on March 13. The quotes are arranged according to subjects that have cropped up during his papacy, in chronological order within each theme.” By Reuters

Catholic paradigm shift: 10 years of Pope Francis dismantling the papal court
“Just months after his election in 2013, Pope Francis announced he would break with 400 years of tradition and would no longer spend summer holidays at Castel Gandolfo, a papal villa outside of Rome, instead preferring to remain at the Vatican and work through the summer months. In a January 2023 interview with the Associated Press, Francis cited his decision not to move to the summer palace, saying, ‘Castel Gandolfo was a bit of a court. The court spirit. In June, the court was moving there as from London you go to Scotland, the court. It’s that kind of court idea. It’s the last absolute court in Europe.’” By Christopher White, National Catholic Reporter

The evolution of Pope Francis on women: some movement, but more needed
“Pope Francis is a synodal pope. It may have taken the church 10 years to recognize that, but his papacy has been a constellation of synods leading the church both into and out of darkness … Francis is a man who has changed his mind. Call it dialogue, encounter, accompaniment or whatever buzzword you like; Francis has modeled leadership that listens. While not the fireworks of change that many pray for, nor the revolution that women need, it is movement. Particularly after decades of spiritual stagnation and silencing endured under previous papacies, Francis is equally on the journey he calls the church to embark on through synodality.” By Kate McElwee, national Catholic Reporter

Close friend, aide says Pope Francis has left pastoral imprint on the Church
“One of Pope Francis’s closest friends and aides has said that after ten years, the pontiff has left an indisputably Jesuit mark on the church and has propelled Catholicism into a more open conversation with the world, eliciting criticism but also distinguishing himself as a pastor and a global moral authority. Speaking to Crux, fellow Jesuit Father Antonio Spadaro, Editor in Chief of the Jesuit-run periodical La Civiltà Cattolica, said he believes that as the tenth anniversary of Pope Francis’s election approaches, ‘it seems that a great parrhesia has developed in the church, which is exactly what the pope asked and is asking for.’” By Elise Ann Allen, Cruxnow.com

‘Sorry’ is not enough: Abuse victims need answers, support, pope says
“It is not enough to ask people who have suffered abuse for their forgiveness, Pope Francis said.
They also must be offered ‘concrete actions to repair the horrors they have suffered and to prevent them from happening again’ as well as the truth, transparency, safe spaces, psychological support and protection, the pope said in a video message released by the Pope’s Worldwide Prayer Network March 2. ‘The church must serve as a model to help solve the issue and bring it to light in society and in families,’ he said.” By Carol Glatz, Catholic News Service, in National Catholic Reporter

Pope Francis dedicates March to praying for victims of abuse
“In his latest prayer video, Pope Francis dedicated the month of march to praying for victims of abuse, saying simply asking forgiveness is not enough, but the church must put victims first and avoid coverup. In his video, released March 2, Pope Francis said that in response to abuse cases, specifically abuse committed by members and representatives of the church, ‘it’s not enough to ask for forgiveness.’” By Elise Ann Allen, Cruxnow.com


Cardinal McElroy on how Pope Francis has changed the church – and why some U.S. bishops are opposed to it
“‘In Pope Francis’ pontificate, the global south is present in a radically new and prominent way in the life of the church,’ Cardinal Robert W. McElroy told Gerard O’Connell, America’s Vatican correspondent, in an exclusive hourlong interview via Zoom on March 4. ‘There has been a fundamental shift in perspective, of cultures, and sometimes of priorities, within the life of the church.’ Cardinal McElroy reflects on the first 10 years of Francis’ leadership of the Catholic Church, shares his impressions of the Argentine pope as a person and the changes he has ushered for the papacy, the Roman Curia and the universal church over the past decade.” By Gerard O’Connell, America: The Jesuit Review

Cardinal Cupich on 10 years of Pope Francis: women, LGBT Catholics, sex abuse and what comes next
“When Pope Francis named Blase Cupich as archbishop of Chicago in 2014, some interpreted the appointment as a signal that the pope sought to reorient the U.S. hierarchy. Francis, who was elected pope 10 years ago on Monday (Mar. 13), has spent the last decade reforming the Vatican bureaucracy and trying to implement his vision of a church that acts as what he describes as a field hospital, responding with mercy to the needs of ordinary Catholics. In the United States, home to a vocal group of Catholics who have challenged Francis’ vision, Cardinal Cupich has proven a key papal ally, acting as an interpreter of the pope’s message for Catholics here and advising Francis on key matters, including the appointment of new bishops and the church’s handling of sexual abuse allegations.” By Michael J. O’Loughlin, America: The Jesuit Review

Pope renews cabinet of cardinal advisors, adds new members
“Pope Francis has renewed his cabinet of cardinal advisers from around the world, naming a handful of new members Tuesday (Mar. 7) and reconfirming others to help him run the Catholic Church. Francis instituted the Council of Cardinals one month into his papacy, on April 13, 2013, with a primary goal of advising him on the reform of the Vatican bureaucracy. After nearly a decade of consultation, Francis issued a new blueprint for the Vatican bureaucracy last year.” By Associated Press in Religion News Service

Cardinal McElroy responds to his critics on sexual sin, the Eucharist, and LGBT and divorced/remarried Catholics
“In January, America published an article I wrote on the theme of inclusion in the life of the church. Since that time, the positions I presented have received both substantial support and significant opposition … I seek in this article to wrestle with some of these criticisms so that I might contribute to the ongoing dialogue on this sensitive question—which will no doubt continue to be discussed throughout the synodal process.” By Robert W. McElroy, America: The Jesuit Review


Implications of fall-off in priest numbers outlined in two rural Catholic dioceses
“The stark decline in the number of priests has been outlined in a Lenten pastoral letter by Bishop of Achonry Paul Dempsey, while the Bishop of Ferns, Ger Nash, has appealed to people to personally attend Masses as they did before the Covid-19 pandemic. Achonry diocese, one of the smallest and most rural in Ireland, covering parishes in Mayo, Sligo and Roscommon, has had no ordination in 10 years and has no seminarian currently studying for the priesthood. ‘At best, there will be 12 priests serving in the 23 parishes of our diocese in 10 years time,’ Bishop Dempsey said.” By Patsy McGarry, The Irish Times

Bishop says priests would rather go to jail if state requires violation of confessional seal
“Two states are currently considering legislation that amends mandatory reporter laws to force Catholic priests and other religious clergy to divulge information about sexual abuse, even when the priest learned of the abuse while hearing a confession. Bills currently under consideration in the Washington and Vermont legislatures would make all clergy in the state mandatory reporters of sexual abuse and would remove so-called clergy-penitent privilege, which otherwise exempts religious ministers from reporting anything that is heard in confession.” By Jeremiah Poff, Washington Examiner


Pope Francis understands, appreciates and trusts women religious
“‘What would the church be without religious sisters and consecrated laywomen?’ These were the words of Pope Francis in a video released Feb. 1, 2022, to mark his prayer intention for the month to be for consecrated women. Pope Francis insisted in the video that ‘the church cannot be understood without them’ — religious women and consecrated laywomen! Again, Pope Francis encouraged women religious to fight when they are treated unfairly, even within the church. This is a bold move from the pope of a church whose culture over the centuries has ensured women maintained a low profile with regard to crucial decision-making.” By Global Sisters Report, National Catholic Reporter


On Women’s Day, church challenged to open new forms of leadership
“As the world observed International Women’s Day, the Catholic Church was challenged to open more space for women in leadership, with some groups calling for access to priestly ordination and the ability to preach at Mass, as well as modifications to teachings on sexual morality. Pope Francis himself observed International Women’s Day, celebrated annually on March 8, during his Wednesday general audience, during which he thanked women ‘for their commitment to building a more human society through their capacity to welcome reality with a creative gaze and tender heart.’” By Elise Ann Allen, Cruxnow.com

Pope says equal opportunities for women are key to a better world
“Pope Francis on Wednesday (Mar. 8) decried violence and prejudice against women and said granting equal pay and opportunities could help create a more peaceful world, as a new survey of Catholic women showed that many felt the Church discriminated against them. In a book preface published by the Vatican News website on International Women’s Day, Francis stressed the differences between men and women but called for ‘equality in diversity’ on ‘a playing field open to all players.’” By Gavin Jones and Philip Pullella, Reuters

Small victories as women challenge Vatican patriarchy
“Once a rare sight in the Vatican’s halls of power, women are increasingly being seen in senior posts under Pope Francis, but the gender battle is far from won. The centuries-old institution has an inherently patriarchal image, from the Swiss Guards at the gates to the cardinals seated in St Peter’s Square. It reflects the wider Roman Catholic Church, which outlaws divorce, abortion and the ordination of women.” By Agence France Presse

Women play decisive role in Vatican diplomacy, says official
“Women play an increasingly ‘decisive’ role in Vatican diplomacy and promoting peace worldwide, said the undersecretary in the Vatican’s foreign ministry office. In an interview published March 3 by L’Osservatore Romano, the Vatican newspaper, Francesca Di Giovanni reflected on her tenure as the first woman named to a managerial position in the Secretariat of State. Pope Francis appointed Di Giovanni to her role in January 2020, after working in the Secretariat of State for 27 years.” By Justin McLellan, Catholic News Service, on UCSANews.com

Catholic women’s cries for change to be heard at the Vatican on International Women’s Day
“The most extensive global survey of Catholic women ever undertaken, detailing experiences of women in the church, will be presented by Australian researchers in-person at the Vatican this International Women’s Day. The newly published International Survey of Catholic Women (ISCW) comprises more than 17,000 responses from participants across 104 countries. Led by Drs Tracy McEwan and Kathleen McPhillips from the University of Newcastle, Australia, the report details 20 key findings and further presents 14 key recommendations from the responses.” By The University of Newcastle News


Diocese renews commitment to be a ‘leading light’ for safety
“Parramatta Diocese has become the first Catholic entity to be accredited as a safe environment for children and adults at risk. Over the past 12 months, the diocese’s chancery office participated in Quality Innovation Performance’s (QIP) Standards for Safeguarding Children and Vulnerable Adults pilot program. The chancery was audited against measurable standards based on the 10 principles for child-safe organizations recommended by the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.” By CathNews.com


Catholic Church and reform
Most Catholic Church leaders in Germany are convinced of the urgent need for change as record numbers of followers quit. Last year, 350,000 Catholics left the church. But the Vatican is putting the brakes on the reform process.” By Deutsche Welle

Vatican draws new red lines in dispute over church reforms in Germany
“The conflict between Catholic reformers in Germany and the headquarters of the church in Rome continued to escalate as the Vatican issued a new stop signal at the start of the spring plenary meeting of the German Bishops’ Conference in Dresden on Monday (Feb. 27). The pope’s ambassador to Germany, Nuncio Nikola Eterovic, reiterated Roman concerns in his welcoming address and drew new red lines. The president of the Bishops’ Conference, Bishop Georg Bätzing, had insisted shortly beforehand that the bishops wanted to stick to the reform process despite all the opposition to it.” By KNA International in America: The Jesuit Review


The way forward: Pope Francis, Vatican II, and Synodality
“A major conference at Boston College earlier this month, co-hosted by the Boisi Center for Religion and American Public Life, is believed to be the largest gathering of Catholic leadership at a college campus in the nation’s history. ‘The Way Forward: Pope Francis, Vatican II, and Synodality,’ which took place March 3-4, brought together 80 participants—including cardinals, bishops, and other Catholic Church leaders, as well as theologians, historians, and journalists—to discuss synodality, the call by Pope Francis for the universal Church to ‘walk together,’ to continue the reception of Vatican II, and to embrace the ecclesiological challenges facing the Church.” By Phil Gloudemans, University Communications, Boston College

German Catholic bishops back blessings for same-sex couples
“Delegates of a synodal assembly on the reform of the Catholic Church adopted a paper to allow blessing ceremonies for same-sex couples from 2026. The Synodal Assembly — which is focused on reforming the Church — adopted a paper in Frankfurt on Friday (Mar. 10) to allow for same-sex couples to have their relationships blessed by the German Catholic Church from 2026. Of the 202 members of the Synodal Assembly, 176 voted in favor of the paper, while 14 against and 12 abstained.” By Deustche Welle

Vatican statistics show decline in clergy, religious women, worldwide
“The number of Catholics and permanent deacons in the world rose in 2021, while the number of seminarians, priests, and men and women in religious orders declined, according to Vatican statistics. At the end of 2021, the number of Catholics in the world reached 1.378 billion, up 1.3 percent from 1.36 billion Catholics at the end of 2020, according to the Vatican’s Central Office of Church Statistics. By contrast, the world’s population increased by 1.6 percent over the same period. The Vatican newspaper, L’Osservatore Romano, published a brief overview of the global numbers March 3. The number of seminarians, priests, and men and women in religious orders declined in 2021, according to the Vatican’s Central Office of Church Statistics, which released its latest numbers March 3, 2023.” By Carol Glatz, Catholic News Service, in Catholic Review


Dramatic week for financial reform answers old questions, asks new ones
“Pope Francis’s campaign for financial reform in the Vatican continued this week on multiple fronts, from the courtroom to new legislation, appearing both to answer old questions and raise new ones in roughly equal measure. In the Vatican’s ongoing ‘trial of the century,’ featuring charges of financial corruption against ten defendants, including Italian Cardinal Angelo Becciu, Thursday (Mar. 9) brought the release of 2021 correspondence between Becciu and Francis, in which the pontiff refused to endorse Becciu’s version of events on two transactions at the heart of the present trial.” By John L. Allen, Jr., Cruxnow.com


Pope Francis says married priests possible, calls celibacy a ‘temporary prescription’
“Pope Francis has called celibacy for priests a ‘temporary prescription,’ signaling a potential end to a centuries-old requirement of the Roman Catholic Church that the clergy should not marry. The Argentine-born pontiff made the comments in an interview Friday (Mar. 10) just before he marked the 10th anniversary of his elevation to the papacy, a tenure marked by laical and clerical disputes over homosexuality, the ongoing clergy sex abuse scandal, Communion for pro-choice politicians and the traditional Latin Mass, among other contentious issues.” By Mark Kellner, Washington Times


I’m an abuse survivor. Pope Francis met with me and changed my life.
“When I try to describe what Pope Francis means to me, I immediately think that I should write something a theologian would say, smart and peppered with citations. I am no theologian, but my story with Francis does have an episode from the New Testament that serves as a lens for me and is probably familiar to all of you. Jesus was called to Bethany by his friends Martha and Mary because their brother Lazarus had died. He had been dead for four days, and when Jesus went to the grave, he resurrected him, and Lazarus continued his life. So yes, I do feel like Lazarus. I am a regular person who has received way too much; therefore, I have a duty to return all I can.” By Juan Carlos Cruz Chellew, National Catholic Reporter


After years of defeat, Senate committee gives near unanimous recommendation to move child sexual abuse bill to full chamber
“As each Maryland senator with the Judicial Proceedings Committee cast their yes vote, David Lorenz cried and embraced his wife, Judy. That’s because the committee voted 10-1 on Friday (Mar. 10) to advance a bill that would retroactively, as well as prospectively, repeal statutes of limitation on lawsuits by plaintiffs who claim they suffered child sexual abuse. Lorenz, who pushed to get this legislation passed for 15 years, suffered abuse as a teenager when he attended a private school in Kentucky.” By William J. Ford, Maryland Matters


Catholic watchdog names bishops tied to sex abuse and urges pope to act
“Prominent researchers of accountability for clergy sexual abuse called on Pope Francis on Wednesday (Mar. 15) to release the names of bishops investigated by the Vatican since the implementation of 2019 rules that overhauled how the church responds to abuse accusations. The watchdog group, BishopAccountability.org, criticized the pope at a news conference for failing to give a ‘full accounting’ of the impact of the revised rules, which they called a landmark effort to combat abuse. The organization also released a list, based on news reports from around the world, of 40 bishops who have been investigated under the four-year-old law.” By Marisa Iati, The Washington Post

Pope Francis tells bishops of Latin America, where new sex abuse protectioins aren’t in place, to make it a priority
“Pope Francis has again emphasized the importance that all the local churches fully implement the norms to protect minors and combat sexual abuse in the church that he issued in the 2019 decree ‘Vos Estis Lux Mundi.’ He did so today in a message to participants at the second Latin American Congress on the prevention of abuse that is being held in Asunción, the capital of Paraguay, March 14 to 16. ‘Your work in favor of protection of the most vulnerable is urgent and essential,’ he said.” By Gerard O’Connell, America: The Jesuit Review

Pope Francis has done many great things. But on sex abuse, he hasn’t done enough.
“My mother used to say that a man will sit in his living room and talk about how to save the world, while his wife is outside with a hammer and nails, fixing the front steps. Ten years into the Francis papacy and this is how I feel, as a member of the church, and specifically as a woman in the church. We’ve been hearing these living room lectures for a decade now. We’ve heard about openness and going out to the margins and smelling like the sheep and not judging, and we’ve heard about reform.” By Simcha Fisher, America: The Jesuit Review

NOW is the Time Sexual Abuse Victims Can Get Justice in New York
“As of November 24, the Adult Survivors Act (ASA) went into effect in New York State, allowing survivors of sexual offenses one year to file civil claims for cases that occurred even decades ago. The Adult Survivors Act was signed into law in May and removes the statute of limitations for certain civil claims regarding past sexual offenses between November 24, 2022, and November 24, 2023, regardless of when the alleged crime took place. If you were raped or abused, at or after age 18, anywhere in New York state, at any time, by anyone, you now have a chance to file a civil lawsuit … The Adult Survivors Act does not reopen the opportunity for a criminal prosecution, but victims can seek justice through the civil court system. This may sound ‘too good to be true.’ But believe us, it is not.” By Adam Horowitz Law on BishopAccountability.org


Santa Rosa Catholic Diocese files for bankruptcy citing child sexual abuse cases
“The Diocese of Santa Rosa filed for bankruptcy Monday (Mar. 13), citing new lawsuits from more than 200 survivors of child sexual abuse by Catholic priests. In this petition for Chapter 11 bankruptcy filed this morning, the Diocese of Santa Rosa estimates its assets between $10 and $50 million, and its liabilities to be the same because of a flood of new lawsuits from survivors of clergy sexual abuse. ABC7 News spoke with Santa Rosa’s bishop but also to survivors and their attorneys who believe the church is trying to avoid responsibility for horrific abuse by priests.” By Dan Noyes, ABC-TV7 News


Diocese condemns Delaware bill requiring priests to break the seal of confession
“The Delaware General Assembly is considering a bill that would require Roman Catholic priests to break the seal of confession to report child abuse and neglect, prompting condemnation from the Diocese of Wilmington. House Bill 74, the sponsors of which include state Senate President Pro Tempore David P. Sokola, could be heard before the House Judiciary Committee within weeks, according to OSV News.” By Jon Brown, Fox News


South suburban Catholic priest accused of sexually abusing minor decades ago
“A Catholic priest in south suburban Evergreen Park has agreed to step aside from ministry while authorities investigate an allegation that he sexually abused a minor as a layman decades ago, according to the Archdiocese of Chicago. Rev. Paul Guzman serves as associate pastor Most Holy Redeemer Parish in Evergreen Park. Archbishop Blase Cupich informed parishioners of the claim in a letter, saying the Archdiocese was informed of the allegation while Guzman was overseas on military duty.” By Matt Stefanski, NBC Chicago


Six more women sue the Main Catholic diocese for allegations of sex abuse
“Six more women have sued the Roman Catholic Diocese of Portland, alleging that a Portland priest abused them between 1958 and 1967 when they were between 5 and 11 years old. Ann Allen, 64, of Scarborough filed a suit in December, saying that the Rev. Lawrence Sabatino had assaulted her in the 1960s and that the church failed to prevent it. Allen’s suit names the Roman Catholic Diocese of Portland and its head, Bishop Robert Deeley, as defendants.” By Julie Harris, Bangor Daily News

Commentary: For how much longer can the Portland diocese play dumb?
“People are fond of saying, ‘That wouldn’t happen today.’ Occasionally this is offered in wistful remembrance of one or other bygone practice. More often it’s said with relief, a reassuring statement, some clear contemplation of how much more we know, now, how far we have come, how thresholds of acceptability have changed. Six civil complaints filed last week allege that the late Rev. Lawrence Sabatino abused plaintiffs in Lewiston and Portland when they were between 5 and 11 years old in the 1950s and 1960s. This brings to 20 the number of childhood sexual abuse lawsuits recently filed against the Roman Catholic Diocese of Portland.” By Siobhan Brett, Editorial Page Editor, Portland Press Herald


An investigation of abuse by 150 priests of the Archdiocese of Baltimore will soon be released
“The Archdiocese of the Baltimore Catholic Church has been the subject of an investigation for sexual abuse. After a four-year grand jury investigation, a judge will soon release details of what children and young adults endured over the past 80 years. Member station WYPR’s Scott Maucione has our report … What we heard from survivors was that the abuse changed their lives. It marked them for life.” By Scott Maucione, National Public Radio


Michigan priest sentenced to prison for sexual abuse of second-grader
“A priest of the Archdiocese of Detroit has been sentenced for the rape of an elementary student at the Catholic school attached to the parish he served as pastor in the mid-2000s. ‘We trust the judgment of the court. We pray for everybody involved,’ Ned McGrath, director of public affairs at the Archdiocese of Detroit, told CNA March 2. ‘Our priority in all of these cases is always the victim-survivors.’” By Kevin Jones, Catholic News Agency


Albuquerque priest cleared in 2019 church abuse case
“A man who filed a 2019 lawsuit alleging he was sexually abused at a Downtown Albuquerque church has admitted that he misidentified a Jesuit priest he named as his abuser, resulting in the case’s dismissal, court records show. A district judge tossed the suit in February after the plaintiff — identified as John Doe 124 — admitted last year he had misidentified the Rev. J. Patrick Hough as his abuser.” By Olivier Uyttebrouck, Albuquerque Journal


NY diocese facing flood of lawsuits files for bankruptcy
“The embattled Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany became the latest diocese in New York to seek bankruptcy protection Wednesday (Mar. 15) as it faces hundreds of lawsuits alleging sexual abuse. Bishop Edward Scharfenberger announced the Chapter 11 filing after months of negotiations between the upstate New York diocese and lawyers representing plaintiffs over a potential settlement. The Albany diocese, like others in the state, is dealing with a deluge of lawsuits dating to when New York temporarily suspended the statute of limitations to give victims of childhood abuse the ability to pursue even decades-old allegations against clergy members, teachers, Boy Scout leaders and others.” By Michael Hill, Associated Press

Defrocked, ex-con priest who stole $300K heads NYC nonprofits with city contracts
“A defrocked, ex-con priest who was a diocesan spin doctor at the height of the Catholic church’s sex abuse scandal now heads a pair of New York City nonprofits which have raked in millions in taxpayer cash. Edward Bolognini, who used to be a high-ranking New Hampshire holy man named Edward Arsenault, pled guilty in 2014 to stealing some $300,000 from a Catholic hospital, his diocese and a dead priest’s estate.” By Melissa Klein, New York Post


Diocese of Steubenville adds former priest to list of those credibly accused of abuse; critics say it’s too little, too late
“The Diocese of Steubenville announced on March 3 that they added a former priest to their list of clergy who were credibly accused of abuse, but SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused By Priests, says this declaration is ‘far too little and far too late.’ Jeffrey M. Monforton, Bishop of the Diocese of Steubenville announced in the diocese’s newspaper, The Steubenville Register, that Monsignor Mark J. Froelich, a retired diocesan priest, was added to the Diocese of Steubenville’s List of Priests Accused of Abuse.” By Karen Compton, WTRF.com


Sexual abuse investigation of Rapid City priest ends
“The investigation of a Catholic priest who was accused of sexual abuse of a minor while serving in South Dakota has ended; and while the allegation couldn’t be proven, the Church stated the priest will ‘remain out of public ministry.’ Rev. Michel Mulloy was removed from public ministry in August 2020 following the allegation presented to the Diocese of Rapid City that a minor was abused in the early 1980s. Mulloy had served in the dioceses of Sioux Falls and Rapid City, where he was vicar general. The allegation came around the time Mulloy was named bishop-elect of the Diocese of Duluth. He resigned from that post the next month, September 2020.” By KVEN-TV News


Documentary on priestly abuse of children focuses on Wisconsin
“In her documentary, Manufacturing the Clerical Predator, director-activist Sarah Pearson puts the spotlight on Southeast Wisconsin, especially through the experience of Kevin Wester. Although he was molested repeatedly at age 12 by a Roman Catholic priest, he took the vows himself and served in the ministry for more than 10 years before being released from the priesthood in 2007. His account of the abuse he endured is harrowing, his fear of speaking up (it happened during the ‘70s in a small Catholic town) is revealing, and his eagerness to pursue the vocation a testimony to blinding power of faith.” By David Luhrssen, Shepherd Express


Catholic church uses pedophile’s death to try to block NSW survivor’s lawsuit
“The Catholic church is attempting to use the death of a pedophile, who had been jailed for the abuse of 17 children, to shield itself from further civil claims from his survivors. In recent months, the church has adopted an increasingly aggressive approach to survivors in cases where pedophile clergy have died. It has sought to capitalize on a recent decision in New South Wales’s highest court that ruled a priest’s death meant the church could not receive a fair trial in a claim brought by a woman known as GLJ.” By Christopher Knaus, The Guardian


Nearly 200 church sex abuse victims get compensation from France’s Catholic Church
About 190 victims of child sexual abuse by priests or other church representatives have been promised financial compensation so far from France’s Catholic Church under a sweeping reparations program, the independent body in charge of the process said Thursday (Mar. 9). A report from the Independent National Authority for Recognition and Reparation, or INIRR, said 11 other people received other types of reparations. Hundreds of other cases are still awaiting review. More than 1,180 victims of priests or other church representatives have come forward to claim compensation since the body was established.” By Associated Press on FOX News


Peterborough priest Dennis Finbow jailed for child sexual abuse
“A 74-year-old Catholic priest has been jailed for abusing a young girl in the 1980s despite trying to dismiss the claims as ‘nonsense.’ Dennis Finbow was found guilty of three counts of indecent assault against a girl aged between 10 and 13 while he worked in Dogsthorpe in Peterborough. Judge Philip Grey told him he had been ‘unmasked for what you really were.’ Finbow, of Bealings Road, Martlesham, near Ipswich, was sentenced to six and a half years in prison.” By BBC News

Pedophile Catholic priest spared jail after abusing four your girls at Glasgow churches and his home
“A shamed priest who sexually abused four girls walked free from court today. Father Neil McGarrity, 58, preyed on his victims at two churches in Glasgow as well as his parish home in the city. McGarrity played ‘footsie’ under the table with one of the girls and was caught in a ‘prolonged embrace’ with another. The priest of 33 years, from city’s Maryhill, also touched and rubbed the girls with one victim claiming he hugged her while sat on a couch.” By Connor Gordon and Harry Williamson, The Scottish Sun


Irish bishops ‘welcome’ government inquiry in abuse in schools run by religious orders
“Bishops in Ireland have welcomed the announcement by the Irish government of a ‘scoping inquiry’ to shape the government’s response to revelations of historical sexual abuse in schools run by religious orders. Minister for Education Norma Foley announced the inquiry on Tuesday (Mar. 7), saying it is ‘vitally important that survivors of historical child sexual abuse have the opportunity to be heard in full, and with appropriate respect and sensitivity.’” By Charles Collins, Cruxnow.com


Poland’s Catholic church to appoint ‘team of independent experts’ to investigate abuse
“Poland’s Catholic episcopate will appoint a group of experts to investigate the sexual abuse of minors by members of the clergy. The decision follows new claims that the future Pope John Paul II was negligent on the issue while serving as archbishop of Kraków. ‘The bishops have decided to start work on appointing a team of independent experts to undertake an investigation into the sexual abuse of minors by some clergy in the church in Poland,’ announced Archbishop Wojciech Polak, who is the primate of Poland.” By Notes from Poland

Pope John Paul II’s handling of sex abuse needs ‘further research,’ says Poland’s Catholic church
“Further research is needed into John Paul II’s response to cases of child sex abuse in order to establish a ‘fair assessment,’ Poland’s Catholic episcopate has announced in the wake of a new report alleging that the future pope showed neglect in dealing with the issue while serving as the archbishop of Kraków. One Polish archbishop, however, has offered a sterner response, describing the new claims as an attempt by ‘gender ideologists, supporters of abortion’ and other enemies of the church to ‘destroy’ John Paul II’s legacy. Poland’s prime minister has also come to the late pope’s defense.” By NotesFromPoland.com


Portuguese bishops offer mixed reactions to abuse report
“Two dioceses in Portugal decided to suspend priests accused of child abuse by an independent commission investigating decades of sexual abuse in the Catholic Church. The Diocese of Angra, in the Azores, suspended two priests. The Diocese of Evora received charges against two priests as well, but one of them is deceased. The cases involve the sexual abuse of seminarians.” By Eduardo Campos Lima, Cruxnow.com

Portuguese bishops announce steps to end sexual abuse in the Church
“The bishops of Portugal on Friday (Mar. 3) began taking concrete steps to respond to a damning investigative report last month that estimated well over 4,000 children have been victims of sexual abuse within the country’s Catholic Church since the 1950s. Meeting in a plenary assembly in Fátima, the Portuguese Episcopal Conference announced the creation of all-lay diocesan commissions and a memorial to victims that will be unveiled during World Youth Day, taking place in Lisbon Aug. 1–6, among other measures.” By Clara Raimundo, Catholic News Agency, in The Catholic World Report


Spain’s ombudsman registers 445 church sex abuse complaints
“Spain’s ombudsman said Monday (Mar. 13) that an independent commission set up a year ago to investigate historic sex abuse by the Catholic church has collected testimonies from 445 victims, as the nation tackles an issue other European countries acted on long ago. Spain’s parliament voted on March 10, 2022, to open the first official investigation, led by ombudsman Ángel Gabilondo, into the extent of sexual abuse committed by priests and church officials. The government was forced to act after allegations of abuse involving more than 1,200 victims were published in Spanish newspaper El País, provoking public outrage.” By Associated Press