Voice of the Faithful Focus, May 19, 2023

May 19, 2023


For women, pope’s changes for upcoming Vatican summit open doors ‘that will be hard to shut’
“It’s been nearly 14 centuries since the monastery founded by St. Hild of Whitby, a prominent abbess in 7th century Anglo-Saxon England, hosted the Northumbrian kingdom’s assembly to discuss the date on which its Christian church would celebrate Easter. That assembly, or synod, would bring the kingdom’s church in line with the Catholic Church in Rome. ‘Scholars have long thought that Hild was a member of that synod,’ said Katie Bugyis, an associate professor and trained medievalist in the program of liberal studies at the University of Notre Dame in South Bend, Indiana.” By Marc Ramirez, USA TODAY

Philadelphia Archdiocese accused of transferring known abuser to Catholic college
“In 2013, then-Catholic priest and would-be artist Kevin Barry McGoldrick was transferred from the Archdiocese of Philadelphia to the Diocese of Nashville, where he became chaplain of Aquinas College. In the lawsuit filed on April 18 in Philadelphia, it alleges that archdiocesan officials transferred the priest — and issued a letter of support on his behalf — knowing that he had a history of sexual abuse. The lawsuit accuses the archdiocese of enabling the priest’s abuse in 2017 of the lawsuit’s 27-year-old plaintiff, identified only as ‘Jane Doe.’” By Kathryn Post, Religion News Service, in National Catholic Reporter

Vatican to ask Stika for resignation
“The embattled Bishop Rick Stika will be asked by Vatican officials to resign as Bishop of Knoxville, after more than two years of scandal over the bishop’s leadership of his eastern Tennessee diocese. According to sources close to the Vatican’s Dicastery for Bishops, Pope Francis decided last month to request Stika’s resignation, after reviewing the results of a Vatican-ordered investigation into the bishop’s management. Stika is accused of protecting Wojciech Sobczuk, a seminarian accused multiple times of sexual assault … The bishop is also accused of mishandling other sexual misconduct allegations in the diocese and has been accused by his presbyterate of bullying and harassment.” By The Pillar

Judge must reconsider effort to block Catholic diocese libel suit, appellate court rules
“A trial court must reconsider its denial of a motion to block a libel suit stemming from an email allegedly containing a false insinuation that Diocese of Orange Bishop Kevin Vann used Orange Catholic Foundation funds to cover legal expenses for clergy accused of child sex abuse, a state appellate court has ruled. Suzanne Nunn, former interim executive director of the foundation, sent the email to 47 Catholic leaders throughout the country after Vann unilaterally terminated her and the organization’s board of directors in June 2020.” By Scott Schwebke, The Orange County Register

A ’toxic nucleus’ within the Church
“A little over three years ago, L’Arche International published its preliminary findings on allegations of sexual abuse and other transgressions against Thomas Philippe, OP, and Jean Vanier, the principal figures in the L’Arche movement. The organization noted at the time that ‘the stakes are high for L’Arche, following the death of its founder and revelations which mark a break in its history, there is a need to reread the past … An in-depth study is to be carried out to gain a better understanding of the personality and input of Jean Vanier and the relationship dynamics at work between the founder and those who knew him.’” By Michael W. Higgins, LaCroix International (email sign-in required to read entire article)

Cardinal O’Malley: Papal abuse commission shifting to ‘impact-focused’ direction
“The new projects and developments at the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors represent ‘a major shift toward a more impact-focused direction,’ said its president, Cardinal Seán O’Malley of Boston. ‘The Holy Father has asked a lot from us, and we are all committed to making this work,’ the cardinal said, according to a press release from the commission May 8.” By Carol Glatz, Catholic News Service, in National Catholic Reporter


Editorial: Knoxville Catholics deserve an update on Vatican’s investigation of Bishop Stika
“There are relatively few positions in the country that have the job security of a Catholic bishop. In his diocese, as the church’s Code of Canon Law puts it, the bishop has ‘all ordinary, proper, and immediate power.’ No one there can contravene his orders or force his removal from office. Neither can the national conference of bishops, nor can any regional ecclesial entities … Catholic bishops report to the pope directly, and only he can choose to remove them. Given that organizational reality, one can understand the dilemma of a Catholic in the Diocese of Knoxville, Tennessee. As NCR staff reporter Brian Fraga highlights in a thorough and wide-ranging investigation, many parishioners there are feeling demoralized and unsure what power they have to effect change in their diocese. They certainly deserve some answers.” By National Catholic Reporter Editorial Staff

French Catholic Church to provide clergy with scannable IDs to battle sexual abuse
“Old sins cast long shadows. After centuries of secrecy, the French Bishop’s Conference has decided it will be more transparent by equipping priests, bishops and deacons with digital, scannable identification cards. No bigger than a bankcard, the IDs will certify whether or not its holder is fit to perform a sermon or has the right to hear confession. Essentially, the cards identify whether or not the Church member is facing a sexual abuse charge.” By Aude Mazoue, France 24

States weigh child abuse reporting vs. clergy’s duty of confidentiality
“From the time Washington state Sen. Noel Frame was 5-years-old until she was 10, she was sexually abused by a teenage cousin. The abuse only stopped when she told a teacher, who reported it to the authorities and to her parents. Now, Frame, 43, wants to require members of the clergy in Washington to notify authorities if they hear about abusive situations involving children, just like the teacher who helped her. Frame, a Democrat, wrote a bill to add clergy to the ranks of educators, counselors and doctors already designated as “mandatory reporters” in the state.” By Elaine S. Povich, special to the Pennsylvania Capital-Star

Newly published list shows Catholic sisters ran 74 Native American boarding schools
“A group of archivists, historians, concerned Catholics, and tribal members has published the first comprehensive list of Native American boarding schools in the United States run by Catholic entities. The Catholic Truth & Healing website lists 87 Catholic-run Native boarding schools before 1978 across 22 states. Seventy-four of those schools were run or staffed by Catholic women religious. Fifty-three different congregations of sisters were affiliated with the schools.” By Dan Stockton, National Catholic Reporter

Lingering Vatican investigation of Tennessee bishop leaves diocese demoralized
“Some priests in the Diocese of Knoxville have retired early or left active ministry. Others are considering leaving the priesthood. Groups of lay Catholics in the East Tennessee area say they are demoralized and frustrated. ‘We are just really a hot mess,’ said Susan Vance, a leader of the Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests in Tennessee. Vance and other local Catholics blame Bishop Richard Stika, who became the diocese’s third bishop in 2009, for the turmoil in their local church.” By Brian Fraga, National Catholic Reporter


What the synod doc says about women, and what it could mean for the future of the church
“Proclaim the good news! The journey toward a synodal church is well underway, and it offers great hope for the people of God, especially for women. Pope Francis recently declared that 70 lay people and consecrated religious will have voting rights in the October 2023 synodal assembly, and 50 percent of those appointed will be women. For the first time in history, women will be included as voting members of the assembly of the Synod of Bishops. This announcement is indeed good news for women in the Catholic Church, both echoing and furthering the signs of hope witnessed thus far in the synodal process.” By Carolyn Weir Herman, America: The Jesuit Review

Could you explain what the Synod on Synodality is to a 10-year-old? If not, we need to simplify some things.
“When I first heard about the Synod on Synodality, I had two reactions. First: What does that term mean? But then, thinking about the Synod on the Family and the Synod on the Amazon: Who cares what it means? Really interesting things happen when Pope Francis does synods. Let’s do this! But over the last 18 months, I’m surprised to find that it’s my confusion about the synodal process that has grown more than my enthusiasm for what is being discussed.” By Jim McDermott, America: The Jesuit Review

Francis’ synod reforms show voices of Catholic laity can no longer be ignored
“Pope Francis’ decision in late April to include lay persons as full participants with voting rights in the upcoming Synod of Bishops is a significant step towards making the synod a body that more adequately represents and embodies an act of discernment by the whole entire people of God. In exhorting the pastors of the local churches to embark upon a synodal process with the whole community of the baptized and listen to the voices of the marginalized, the pope has been seeking to reawaken the muscle memory of the ecclesial body.” By Catherine e. Clifford, National Catholic Reporter

Synodality is working: women getting a vote at the Vatican is the latest proof
“In his last interview shortly before he died in 2012, Cardinal Carlo Martini of Milan observed that ‘the church is 200 years out of date.’ Last week, the Vatican’s synod office announced that non-bishop participants at a synod, including lay women and men, will have voting rights for the first time. In this case, the church was only 10 years late. Many Catholics like myself who have followed the development of synodality under Pope Francis have been convinced that the decision to open synod voting to non-bishops was all but inevitable. I worked closely with the Holy See Press Office and the Synod Office on English language communications at thr ee different synods, first under Benedict in 2012, and then under Francis in 2014 and 2015. I witnessed the call for non-bishop voting get louder and louder as Francis encouraged wider consultation and fervant listening to the people of God.” By Sebastian Gomes, America: The Jesuit Review


Abuse victims share ‘wounded heart’ with Pope Francis after bike trek from Germany
“Pope Francis on Wednesday (May 17) met briefly with a group of abuse victims who undertook a bicycle pilgrimage from Germany to Rome this month to ask the pope to do everything in his power to heal and prevent abuses in the Catholic Church. The group, from the Archdiocese of Munich and Freising, also delivered a letter to the Holy Father following his weekly general audience and presented him a gift: a sculpture of a heart by artist Michael Pendry.” By Hannah Brockhaus, Catholic News Agency

Pope issues new ‘fundamental law’ for Vatican City State
“Pope Francis updated the ‘Fundamental Law of Vatican City State,’ opening the possibility that laypeople can be members of its governing commission and emphasizing that the independence of the city-state is essential for the mission of the Holy See. The previous version of the law was promulgated by St. John Paul II in 2000; his introduction to the text noted the independence of Vatican City State guaranteed ‘the freedom of the Apostolic See’ and assured ‘the real and visible independence of the Roman Pontiff in the exercise of his mission in the world.’ Pope Francis’ revision of the law incorporates the mission into the text of the law itself.” By Cindy Wooden, Catholic News Service, AngelusNews.com

‘Sexual abusers deserve punishment, but also pastoral care’: Pope Francis
“Sexual abusers are disgusting ‘enemies’ who deserve to be condemned and punished – but also deserve Christian love and pastoral care because they too are children of God, Pope Francis said. Francis made his comments on April 29 in a private conversation with Jesuits while he was visiting Hungary. Francis is also a Jesuit and the comments were published on Tuesday (May 9) in the Italian Jesuit journal Civilta Cattolica, as is customary after such meetings.” By Reuters on NDTV.com


Texas Bishop Strickland accuses Pope Francis of undermining Catholic faith
“The controversial Catholic bishop of Tyler, Texas, announced May 12 on Twitter that he believes Pope Francis is ‘undermining the Deposit of Faith.’ Bishop Joseph Strickland, a vocal critic of Francis who in recent years has invited the pope to ‘fire’ him and endorsed videos attacking the current pontiff as a ‘diabolically disordered clown,’ said he acknowledges the validity of Francis’ election to the papacy, but exhorted: ‘Follow Jesus.’ Strickland questioned Francis’ fidelity to the Catholic faith in a tweet in which he sought to distance himself from statements made by a far-right Catholic podcaster who has questioned whether Francis is the real bishop of Rome.” By Brian Fraga, National Catholic Reporter

Lingering Vatican investigation of Tennessee bishop leaves diocese demoralized
“Some priests in the Diocese of Knoxville have retired early or left active ministry. Others are considering leaving the priesthood. Groups of lay Catholics in the East Tennessee area say they are demoralized and frustrated. ‘We are just really a hot mess,’ said Susan Vance, a leader of the Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests in Tennessee. Vance and other local Catholics blame Bishop Richard Stika, who became the diocese’s third bishop in 2009, for the turmoil in their local church.” By Brian Fraga, National Catholic Reporter

Archbishop Prevost talks about choosing bishops for the church
“The U.S.-born archbishop tapped by Pope Francis to help him find new bishops said a good candidate is ‘a pastor, capable of being close to the members of the community, starting with the priests for whom the bishop is father and brother.’ He must be able ‘to live this closeness to all, without excluding anyone,’ said Archbishop Robert F. Prevost, 67, who took the helm at the Dicastery for Bishops in mid-April.” By Cindy Wooden, Catholic News Service, on USCCB.org


Why the serious drop in priestly vocations in Europe’s largest diocese?
“On the Solemnity of the Annunciation, the Archbishop of Milan, Mario Delpini, made international news with his own ‘annunciation’ that the priestly formation program in the Archdiocese was to undergo a major re-structuring. Before getting into the specifics of that ‘reform,’ let’s set the stage. Milan is the largest diocese in Europe (roughly 5 million Catholics) and has more priests than any other diocese in the world (more than 2,000 in total, half of whom are diocesan clergy) … So, with all that going for Milan, what’s the crisis? A serious drop in priestly vocations.” By Pater M.J. Stravinskas, The Catholic World Report

Priests, seminarians to gather for symposium on priesthood
“Canadian Cardinal Marc Ouellet has launched an international movement to revitalize the collaboration between ordained priests and the priesthood of the faithful. The movement was inspired by a symposium held in Rome in February 2022 and will now include a gathering for American theologians, priests, seminarians and laity that will be held May 16 at The Catholic University of America in Washington.” By Father Patrick Briscoe, OSV News, on CatholicCourier.com

Senior German priest resigns over handling of abuse claims
“A senior Roman Catholic priest in Germany has been removed from office after criticism of his handling of abuse allegations against a seminary director in the Diocese of Limburg, the German Catholic Church said Tuesday (Apr. 25). Vicar General Wolfgang Roesch had asked Limburg’s bishop to relieve him of his duties following the publication of a report about the case of the Rev. Christof May. The priest and seminary head was found dead in June 2022 after being questioned as part of a probe into allegations of inappropriate behavior.” By Associated Press


What convinced me that we need more women leading at the Vatican
“Ask me about almost anything related to the church or politics, and I will err on the side of traditionalism, conservatism…whatever you would like to call it. I have always been a rule follower: I liked wearing uniforms at my all-girls Catholic schools, and I get annoyed when the priest goes off-book saying some of the prayers during Mass. I even enjoy the Latin Mass, at least during the few times I have attended. So this realization, which I had soon after I started working at America, came as a surprise to me: The church needs (more) women in the hierarchy of the Vatican and its decision-making processes.” By Jill Rice, America: The Jesuit Review

When a female lens is added to the equation, something new can happen
“I have been struck by social media comments from several progressive Catholic women who criticized Pope Francis’ decision to extend voting privileges to laypeople, including women, at the 2021-24 synod on synodality. One European woman wrote she could not celebrate synod votes for women, even though many others were. As she sees it, the Vatican is only throwing a meager bone to Catholics eager for women’s equality in the church. In addition to the estimated 300 bishops who will attend October’s synod, Francis will select 70 non-bishop members from a list of 140 names submitted by seven international groupings of bishops. Francis has asked that 50% of these be women, and that candidates include young people.” By Christine Schenk, National Catholic Reporter

My daughters have hard questions about the church. Are women deacons the answer?
“Although I had attended Catholic school all my young life, I was never familiar with the concepts of synod, discernment and the diaconate. That was until last spring, when a friend invited me to her church for a Discerning Deacons event titled ‘Hope, Change and the Catholic Church.’ It was a cold Sunday evening, the Oscars were on, and I did not feel like driving across the city. But this is a friend who always shows up for me, so I went. Looking back on that evening, I believe it was the Holy Spirit who was nudging me to go.” By Katie Mulcahy, America: The Jesuit Review

‘Catholic Women Preach’ book offers hope for the future of the church
“Catholic Women Preach meets a sacred yearning to have and hear the voices of women in the church through the unique perspective of their own preaching. This book was born out of the good work of organizations like FutureChurch and Catholic Women Preach that answer a call to lift up the voices of women in the church — one of the primary themes emerging from the synod on synodality called forth by Pope Francis. The timing of this is not a coincidence.” By Patty Breen, National Catholic Culture

Pope Francis says women can now vote on a Vatican panel that was exclusively male
Pope Francis says women will be allowed to vote on a Vatican panel that had been exclusively male. NPR’s Scott Simon asks Kate McElwee of the Women’s Ordination Conference about it. Pope Francis is inviting women to add their voices to the Synod of Bishops. That does not mean he is allowing women to be bishops or priests, but it is still a move that groups like the Women’s Ordination Conference have been calling for. Kate McElwee is the conference’s director, and she joins us now.” By Scott Simon, National Public Radio


Survey: Mass attendance drops after Covid, but U.S. Catholics are hopeful for their church
“The share of Catholics going to Mass even a few times each year has fallen off significantly compared with the number before the Covid pandemic, but U.S. Catholics overall are largely optimistic about their church and its leaders, a new survey finds. In 2022, a near-majority of Hispanic Catholics, or 47 percent, reported attending religious services at least a few times each year, down from 65 percent in 2019. For white Catholics, the drop was even sharper, down to 45 percent in 2022 from 73 percent just three years earlier. Less than half of all Americans, 43 percent, said they attended services at least a few times each year, down from 54 percent in 2019.” By Michael J. O’Loughlin, America: The Jesuit Review


San Diego Roman Catholic diocese will file for bankruptcy in November
“The Roman Catholic Diocese of San Diego, under a siege of lawsuits from 438 people who say they were sexually abused by its clergy in past decades, said it plans to file for bankruptcy protection in November. Such a move, spelled out in court papers filed this week and in a hearing in San Diego Superior Court Thursday, would halt all lawsuits against the diocese until the bankruptcy is complete and a universal settlement of all the claims is reached through the bankruptcy process.” By Greg Moran, The San Diego Union-Tribune

Catholic fundraising exec went to jail over embezzling from health system affiliated with nuns, now raising money for religious order
“Michael Gerrity went to jail over $250,000 embezzled two decades ago from a hospital charity near Buffalo, New York, that he’d been running and that was affiliated with a group of Catholic nuns, according to prosecutors, who said he spent some of the money on vacations. Now, he’s working for a Catholic religious order, the Augustinians, as its chief fundraiser for the Chicago region.” By Robert, Herguth, Chicago Sun-Times

The Roman Catholic bishop of Oakland files for Chapter 11 to facilitate settlements with abuse survivors
“The Roman Catholic Bishop of Oakland announced today the filing of a voluntary petition for bankruptcy relief under Chapter 11 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code. The filing is necessary in light of the more than 330 lawsuits alleging child sexual abuse brought against RCBO under a recent California statute that allowed decades-old claims otherwise time barred and expired to be filed … RCBO will continue to serve the 550,000 Catholics in the East Bay and carry out its many works of mercy through its parishes and pastoral centers.” By Roman Catholic Bishop of Oakland

Judge in archdiocese bankruptcy case recuses himself over donations scandal
“A federal judge overseeing a bankruptcy filing from the US’s second-oldest Roman Catholic archdiocese has recused himself from the case amid scrutiny of his donations to the church as well as his close professional relationship with an attorney representing archdiocesan affiliates in insurance disputes. Greg Guidry, who was appointed to the judicial bench at  New Orleans’s federal courthouse by the Donald Trump White House in 2019, issued an order after 8pm on Friday (Apr. 29) recusing himself from a role handling appeals in a contentious bankruptcy involving nearly 500 clergy sexual abuse victims.” By Ramon Antonio Vargas, The Guardian


In wake of the clerical pederasty scandal in Bolivia, bishop says he favors optional celibacy for priests
“Following the consternation in Bolivia following the revelation of serial sexual abuse of minors committed by a deceased Jesuit, the bishop of the Apostolic Vicariate of Pando and head of the Communication Commission of the Bolivian Bishops’ Conference, Eugenio Cóter, considered the possibility of optional celibacy for priests.” By Julieta Villar, ACI Prensa, on CatholicNewsAgency.com

Celibacy and the priesthood
“In a recent interview, Pope Francis addressed the question of celibacy and the priesthood in the Catholic Church. He said that it’s a discipline that he does not intend to re-examine: ‘I don’t feel ready to reconsider it yet, but obviously it’s a matter of discipline, which has nothing to do with dogma.  Today it’s the case and tomorrow it may no longer be. Time may come when a pope, perhaps, will revisit it.’ That’s a common view: Priestly celibacy is a ‘discipline,’ or an ‘ecclesial law,’ and thus it is not a doctrine that must be preserved forever. It can be repealed.” By Fr. Thomas G. Weinandy, OFM, Cap, The Catholic Thing


Opinion: Who will Catholics follow? Pope Francis or the right-wing U.S. bishops?
“It’s time to take a clear look at the far-right politics of U.S. Catholic bishops. They won a 50-year campaign to turn back legal abortion, but they will not rest, it seems, until the country becomes a Christian nationalist state, with their moral principles codified into law. The religious right has long been identified with white evangelical Christians, but the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, some 250 men, mostly white and past middle age, ranks among the nation’s most formidable reactionary forces. As a Catholic, I must protest.” By Mary Jo McConahay, Los Angeles Times, on Yahoo News

Editorial: Catholic Church cover-up continues; Baltimore Archdiocese still protecting those accused of wrongdoing
“The Baltimore Archdiocese insists it’s a changed institution. The rampant sexual abuse of children and accompanying cover-up within the Catholic Church dating back to the 1940s — revealed this spring in a lengthy attorney general’s report that redacted some of the names of the guilty — could not happen today, officials claim. ‘For decades, the Archdiocese has been firmly committed to holding suspected abusers accountable,’ an online response to the A.G. report promises. Yet three of five clergy members accused of previously helping to conceal the abuse of others, and whose names were unmasked this month by The Sun, remain active in parish ministries or Catholic governing boards today.” By Baltimore Sun Editorial Board in The Brunswick News

Other view: the clergy abuse scandal is huge, but one of many issues for us fallen-off Catholics
“At the funeral of a colleague who died young, the priest felt it important to warn the non-Catholics in attendance that they were forbidden to take Communion with the rest of us. The admonition was not gentle, it was crisp. And disgusting. How could a priest be so unwelcoming, officious and doctrinaire at a time when so many friends of the young woman had gathered to mourn her death? It was hard to imagine Jesus citing the house rules in opening remarks to those who had just lost a sister, daughter and companion.” By Dan Rodricks, The Baltimore Sun, in The Appeal Democrat

Editorial: Thank God – and women – for lay voters at the synod
“More than 100 years ago, after decades of lobbying, protest and activism by suffragists, women in the United States won the right to vote with the passage of the 19th amendment to the Constitution. Now — finally! — some women will have voting power at one of the most important assemblies in the Catholic Church. The upcoming Synod of Bishops, to be held in October 2023 and 2024 at the Vatican, will expand its voting members to include 70 nonbishop members, half of whom will be women, Pope Francis announced April 26.” By National Catholic Reporter Editorial Staff

Boston College’s Church in the 21st Century marks 20 years
“On January 6, 2002, Professor of Theology Thomas Groome was among the millions of Catholics around the world to read the shocking results of a Boston Globe investigation that exposed a decades-long pattern of sexual abuse within the Catholic Church, and efforts by the Archdiocese of Boston to cover it up. Not long after, Groome was one of about 25 people called into an emergency meeting by University President William P. Leahy, S.J., to discuss BC’s response to the unfolding crisis. Everyone in attendance was in agreement: Boston College could not stay silent. Instead, recalled Groome—now a professor in the School of Theology and Ministry—’We decided to face it head-on.’ The result was the Church in the 21st Century Center (C21), which recently celebrated its 20th anniversary.” By Alix Hackette, Boston College Office of University Communications

Survivors want accountability and transparency. They waited long enough.
“As lawmakers return to Harrisburg this week, it is imperative that they prioritize passing window legislation that will allow victims of childhood sexual abuse to seek justice against perpetrators and the institutions that enabled them. As an attorney, I have received innumerable phone calls from adult survivors of childhood sexual abuse. The calls are all too familiar – they are reaching out because they finally have the strength to talk about what happened to them as a child, and they want to seek justice through the court system.” By Katie M. Shipp, Capital-Star Guest Contributor

What more can you do in the face of the Church’s sexual abuse crisis?
“A large part of what God has asked of me as a priest is to accompany hurting people, and particularly hurting Catholics. And much of my life as a priest has been spent dealing with the fallout of an institutional Church that became a haven for sexual predators, and whose shepherds cultivated a decades-long culture of denial, unfathomable inaction, and cover-up. If the Church today finds itself in a perilously unstable condition – the doctrinal tribalism of the self-consciously Catholic, the gradual attrition of ‘none’ – the leaning nominal Catholics, the lack of vocations, the financial bankruptcy of dioceses, and so on—the Church’s crisis of clergy sexual abuse has largely contributed to our current sorry state.” By Thomas Berg, Church Life Journal, Notre Dame


Ads spike interest in lawsuits over clergy sex abuse after new law takes effect
“Attorneys are blitzing TV and radio airwaves and billboards with ads promising to help child sex abuse survivors sue their abuser or the institution that employed them. The interest is prompted by the April release of the Maryland attorney general’s report on clergy child sex abuse at the Archdiocese of Baltimore and a new state law that eliminated the statute of limitations to file a lawsuit.” By David Collins, WBAL-TV11 News

Lawmakers to propose nine bills to increase statute of limitations on sexual assault cases
“‘Our statute of limitations for criminal sexual conduct is among the narrowest in the entire country,’ state Rep. Julie Brixie, D-Meridian Township, said. ‘We’re the only state that restricted access to justice based on the occupation of the abuser rather than the crime that occurred.’ Brixie is proposing new legislation that would raise the age minors are able to come forward from age 28 — where it stands today — to age 52. It was raised from 24 to 28 back in 2018.” By Brett Kast and David Kalman, WXYZ-TV7 News


‘What did the pope know?’: Poles divided over John Paul II abuse cover-up claims
“With under six months to go before a parliamentary election that is expected to be closely fought, a surprise figure has entered the Polish political field, despite the fact he died in 2005: Pope John Paul II. The legacy of John Paul II, who was born Karol Wojtyła and was archbishop of Kraków before becoming pope in 1978, is under scrutiny after a recent book and television documentary accused him of covering up for pedophile priests before he became pontiff.” By Shaun Walker and Katarzyna Piasecka, The Guardian

Luis Torres’ naïve faith inspired him to help fellow abuse survivors
“My fellow survivor of clergy abuse, Luis Torres, first appeared in my well-ordered life one steamy summer evening. He arrived from his home on Staten Island, New York, in an old minivan with a bike strapped to a rack on the back. Where most people would have been thwarted, as was my intent, by the lack of a doorbell or knock, Luis was unfazed. He was like that with survivors. He simply didn’t see barriers. He was all heart and responded to all hearts, especially to broken hearts. Perhaps it was his substantial suffering that won him, on the spiritual plane, a license for entry. At least, that was what I experienced that first evening on my porch.” By Teresa Pitt Green, National Catholic Reporter

Children of Abuse: celibacy and sex scandals in the Catholic Church
“Omerta, the mafia code of silence, had, for centuries, wrapped the Roman Catholic Church in a cocoon of purity and kept a tight lid over the secret lives of the clergy. From time to time, there were whispers of wrongdoing by a local parish priest, or even occasionally of a bishop, but these were snuffed out quickly and the church succeeded in keeping scandals at bay for a long time. However, by the beginning of the 21st century, the veil was finally torn aside and stories of sexual abuse by these men of God, burst into the open.” By Seema Guha, Outlook India


White County man who says priest molested him files lawsuit against Diocese of Little Rock, two churches
“A White County man who says he was molested when he was a 10-year-old altar boy 42 years ago by a now-deceased Catholic priest filed suit Thursday against the Diocese of Little Rock and two churches where Richard Patrick Davis was pastor. A Pocahontas native, Davis died in May 2020 at age 83 after 57 years as a priest in Arkansas, serving past the traditional retirement age of 65.” By John Lynch, Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

Arkansas bishop to lead Mass focused on victims of child sexual abuse
“Catholics will gather at the Cathedral of St. Andrew in Little Rock on Sunday (Apr. 30) to pray for survivors of child sexual abuse. Bishop Anthony Taylor will lead the Mass for Hope and Healing, which is held each April in Arkansas in conjunction with National Child Abuse Prevention Month. The Little Rock diocese’s Safe Environment Office sponsors the event, which begins at 5:30 p.m. Deacon Matthew Glover, the diocese’s chancellor for canonical affairs, said Taylor has been involved with the Mass for Hope and Healing since its inception in 2017.” By Frank E. Lockwood, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette


Judge must reconsider effort to block Catholic diocese libel suit, appellate court rules
“A trial court must reconsider its denial of a motion to block a libel suit stemming from an email allegedly containing a false insinuation that Diocese of Orange Bishop Kevin Vann used Orange Catholic Foundation funds to cover legal expenses for clergy accused of child sex abuse, a state appellate court has ruled. Suzanne Nunn, former interim executive director of the foundation, sent the email to 47 Catholic leaders throughout the country after Vann unilaterally terminated her and the organization’s board of directors in June 2020.” By Scott Schwebke, Orange County Register


Former Aspen priest won’t be charged
“The 9th Judicial District Attorney’s Office will not prosecute a former St. Mary Catholic Church priest accused of sexually assaulting an altar boy multiple times over a four-year period, following an investigation that didn’t yield sufficient evidence to file criminal charges, the Aspen Police Department said Wednesday (Apr. 26). ‘The investigation was conducted with the assistance of the 9th Judicial District Attorney’s Office and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. On review with the 9th Judicial District Attorney’s Office, Aspen police closed the case as unfounded. No charges will be filed,’ an APD news release states.” By Rick Carroll, Aspen Daily News


Ex-Delaware bishop named as Catholic official who covered up clergy sex abuse in Baltimore: Report
“Former Catholic Diocese of Wilmington Bishop W. Francis Malooly was one of several past high-ranking Archdiocese of Baltimore officials identified as those who helped cover up sexual abuse, according to a Baltimore Sun exclusive article published online late Thursday (May 4). Malooly — along with the Most Revs. Richard ‘Rick’ Woy, G. Michael Schleupner, J. Bruce Jarboe and George B. Moeller — helped abusive priests get away with their crimes, either concealing the extent of a priest’s misdeeds or striking deals with prosecutors to avoid a criminal charge, according to the Sun’s article.” By Esteban Parra, Delaware News Journal


Another girl comes forward after teacher’s arrest for alleged child sex abuse at two schools in Miami
“A 29-year-old teacher — who was working at a Jewish private school when police officers arrested him for child sex crimes at a private Catholic school and a charter school — is facing more charges on Wednesday in Miami-Dade County. Eric Bernard Givens, also known as ‘Mr. G.,’ has been at the Turner Guilford Knight Correctional Center since Friday (May 11) without bond. County jail and court records show that on Wednesday he was facing charges in cases involving three girls.” By Adrea Torres, Local 10 News Miami


Father James Flynn reinstated to ministry
“On April 18, Cardinal Cupich sent letters to parishes where Father James Flynn served informing of his reinstatement … ‘On April 15, the Independent Review Board of the Archdiocese of Chicago met to consider the results of its investigation and determined that there is not a reasonable cause to believe that Father Flynn sexually abused a minor. The Board recommended that the file be closed and Father Flynn be returned to ministry. Therefore, after considering their recommendations, I am restoring Father Flynn to ministry, effective immediately,’ the letter (from Cardinal Cupich) said.” By Chicago Catholic


Church has responsibility to invest in care of sex abuse victims
“This past Wednesday (Apr. 26), the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas and the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph observed a Day of Prayer in Atonement for Those Harmed by Sexual Abuse in the Church. All of our parishes were asked to offer Mass and other prayers for this intention. The sexual abuse scandal is one of the saddest chapters in the church’s history. The scandal involved representatives of the church, priests and bishops, violating their promises to God and the church by using innocent children or vulnerable adults for sexual pleasure.” By Archbishop Joseph Nauman, The Leaven, official newspaper of the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas


U.S. Catholic cleric backed out of $1m settlement with sexual a use victim
“A US Roman Catholic cleric who admitted in criminal court to sexually abusing a child before his ordination backed out of a seven-figure settlement agreement with his victim after learning he would have to register as a sex offender, the Guardian has confirmed. The deacon in question – attorney Virgil Maxey “VM” Wheeler III – died earlier this year after writing a will expressing his desire to donate much of his money to prominent institutions, mostly in the Louisiana community in which he worked. His victim is now calling on the beneficiaries to reject those gifts from his abuser.” By Ramon Antonio Vargas, The Guardian


Counselor for Maine diocese disciplined for ethics violations
“A licensed social worker who works with the Roman Catholic Diocese of Portland was disciplined by a state regulatory board over her interactions with a woman who has accused a priest of taking advantage of her in a time of crisis. Carolyn Bloom, an independent clinician for the diocese, admitted to violating a national code of ethics for social workers and agreed to pay for and participate in a year-long supervision program.” By Emily Allen, Portland Press Herald


Archbishop Lori affirms support for transparency in addressing sexual abuse
“Archbishop William E. Lori confirmed that no one who has been credibly accused of sexual abuse of a minor is currently in ministry in the archdiocese, and that he has confidence that all clergy and employees are committed to protecting children and enforcing the archdiocese’s child protection policies. In a May 11 exclusive interview with the Catholic Review, he expressed his support for some clergy in the Archdiocese of Baltimore who have been identified by a local media report as the officials whose names are redacted in the report of the Maryland Attorney General’s Office regarding clergy sexual abuse in the archdiocese.” By Christopher Gunty, Catholic Review

Ex-pol, others allege sex-abuse horrors by Baltimore priests before historic suit
“A former Maryland state senator and two other men have detailed their harrowing accusations of childhood sex abuse by Baltimore-area priests to The Post — as their lawyers prepared Tuesday (May 9) to unveil a planned historic class-action lawsuit against the archdiocese. The expected legal action comes on the heels of a bombshell April report by Maryland Attorney General Anthony Brown that listed 156 priests suspected of abusing more than 600 children in the past eight decades — and a recent reversal on the statute of limitations that had prevented such lawsuits.” By Jesse O’Neill, New York Post

Baltimore church sex abuse survivors call for resignation of archbishop, want redacted names disclosed
Baltimore Catholic sex abuse survivors are calling for Archbishop William Lori to resign. This comes after local newspapers published the redacted names of church officials accused of abuse and cover-ups in the Baltimore Catholic Church. Survivors want the church to name the rest. The grand jury report identified 158 clergy accused of abusing more than 600 victims. But 15 names were redacted or kept out of the report.” By Paul Gessler, CBS-TV News Baltimore

Attorney Ben Crump to file lawsuit on behalf of archdiocese sexual abuse survivors
“Nationally known civil rights attorney Ben Crump and renowned attorney Adam P. Slater are planning to file a lawsuit on behalf of Archdiocese sexual abuse survivors … Attorney Crump and Attorney Slater will also launch a petition calling for the passage of legislation that would remove the statute of limitations for child sexual abuse across the nation..” By Sinead Hawkins, FOX-TV25 News

Believe us: survivors express anger, hope following release of attorney general’s report
“Lovingly displayed in a windowsill of Elizabeth Ann Murphy’s home in Timonium is a rectangular ceramic sculpture depicting a sailboat tossed on a stormy, turquoise sea. God’s outstretched hands hover over the fragile vessel, a reminder of his constant presence. Standing near the painted ceramic are three other pieces of art: a figure of the Blessed Virgin Mary, a small wooden carving of Christ carrying his cross, and a little glass rooster – an ever-present symbol of betrayal. For Murphy, who experienced horrific sexual abuse for three years while a student at Catholic Community School in South Baltimore in the early 1970s, the artwork offers consolation. It’s also a reminder of suffering.” By George P. Matysek, Jr., Catholic Review


Former altar boy’s lawsuit against former New Bedford priest alleging sexual abuse settled
“A civil lawsuit brought by a man alleging he was sexually abused by a former New Bedford priest when he was an altar boy over 30 years ago has been settled ‘in the low to mid six figures,’ according to the plaintiff’s attorney. Jason Medeiros was a former altar boy at St. Anthony of Padua Church in New Bedford and participated in a Catholic youth group. Both were supervised by Father Richard Degagne, according to a press release issued by Boston-based attorney Mitchell Garabedian.” By Frank Mulligan, South Coast Today


Vincent Delorenzo, an ex-priest in Michigan, pleads guilty to sexually assaulting 5-year-old after funeral
“A Michigan priest pleaded guilty this week to sexually assaulting a five-year-old boy after he had officiated a funeral service for a family member. Vincent Delorenzo, 84, formerly of Flint, pleaded guilty to one count of attempted criminal sexual conduct in the first degree, according to Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel. Delorenzo was a former priest with the Lansing Diocese. The assault happened in 1987.” By John Dodge, CBS News Chicago


Former St. John Vianney school nurse charged with sex crimes against underage student
“A former nurse at St. John Vianney High School here has been charged with felony sex crimes after admitting to sexual contact with an underage student. Erin Foerstel, 43, of Kirkwood, faces charges of statutory sodomy in the second degree and sexual contact with a student younger than 17, the age of consent in Missouri. Foerstel confessed to police that she performed a sexual act on a student at Vianney last month while employed at the school as a nurse, Kirkwood detective Donald Douglas wrote in a probable cause statement.” By Nassim Benchaabane, St. Louis Post-Dispatch


Reinstatement of Fr. Kevin Christofferson
“My Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ: After contacting Butte Silver Bow Law Enforcement and following the completion of a third-party investigation and consultation with the Diocesan Review Board, I am reinstating Father Kevin Christofferson, a priest of the Diocese of Helena and pastor of Immaculate Conception Parish in Polson and Sacred Heart Parish in Ronan, to active ministry effective May 8, 2023. A report of sexual abuse against Fr. Christofferson, which was alleged to have occurred over twenty years ago, was not substantiated.” By Most Rev. Austin A. Vetter, Bishop of Helena


Attorney: DA demands teen’s confidential records to prosecute sex abuse case
“A state district judge late last year rejected a consolidated plea prosecutors had offered a former school health aide accused of molesting four children after parents of two of his alleged victims spoke in opposition to the agreement. An attorney representing one of the accusers says in a new court filing the First Judicial District Attorney’s Office days later dismissed the charges related to his client — the most serious of those leveled against Robert Apodaca — and is making access to the teenager’s protected mental health records a condition for refiling them.” By Phaedra Haywood, Santa Fe New Mexican


Jury awards $95M to man who accused Rochester-area priest of child abuse
“A jury Wednesday (May 10) awarded $95 million to a local man who alleged he was sexually abused in 1979 by a former Rochester-area priest who also has been accused by others of sexual assaults. The local man alleged that the former priest, Rev. Foster P. Rogers, sexually abused him in Rogers’ car in July 1979. The victim was then 15. Rogers now has limited income, according to letters he wrote the court, and the local man awarded the $95 million is unlikely to see even a tiny sliver of the award.” By Gary Craig, Democrat & Republican


Ohio priest convicted of sexual abuse of minors
“Parish priest Michael Zacharias, 56, was convicted on five counts of sex trafficking by a federal jury in the Northern District of Ohio last Friday (May 12). Zacharias has been on administrative leave from the Diocese of Toledo since he was arrested on Aug. 18, 2020. His crimes, committed between 1999 to 2020, involved three victims, two of whom were still minors when Zacharias began abusing them. The former pastor now faces a minimum sentence of 15 years and a maximum of life in prison. His sentencing hearing has not yet been scheduled.” By Peter Pinedo, Catholic News Agency


Priest removed from assignments in three RI communities – now giving Mass at notorious parish
“Diocese of Providence Priest Eric Silva — who has been removed from diocesan assignments at Catholic schools and parishes in Cranston, Barrington and Narragansett — now has a new home. Now, Silva is assigned to St. Joseph Church on Hope Street — the parish associated with one of the most infamous Catholic priests — Priest Norman Demers. Silva’s name does not appear on the St. Joseph website, or weekly handout, nor does he introduce himself when giving mass.” By GoLocalProv.com


Ending child sexual abuse in Africa hamstrung by religion, poverty
“Ten years have gone by and Chido Mpira (now 19) has adamantly refused to join the family when they go for church gatherings every week. While the community never understood her, her immediate family did, however they had agreed that Chido’s demise was a secret that should be kept within the family. But Chido who has spent the last decade to herself has vowed she would rather die than attend church as she has been subjected to rape by her church minister at the tender age of nine. Her family refused to report him for fear of touching the ‘anointed’ one of God.” By Melody Chikono, NewsDay


Government removes redress scheme restrictions
Access to the National Redress Scheme for institutional child sexual abuse will be expanded to prisoners and a wider range of former child migrants. The changes announced yesterday were part of the Albanese Government’s response to an independent review of the scheme. Social Services Minister Amanda Rishworth said the Government was seeking to make the redress process as smooth as possible.” By CathNews.com

Church insurer facing challenges due to abuse claims
“Church leaders say they remain fully committed to engaging with survivors of abuse with justice and compassion, including in the payment of compensation, as changes at Catholic Church Insurance loom. Catholic Church Insurance is considering winding down its operations unless another substantial bailout is made by dioceses and religious orders and is discussing closing its new and renewal general insurance business amid a continuing surge in abuse claims, as well as the liability impacts of factors such as Australia’s erratic weather.” By CathNews.com


Bolivia to investigate late Spanish priest accused of abuse
“The top Bolivian prosecutor launched an investigation Monday (May 1) into a late Spanish priest who allegedly abused several minors in Bolivia dating back to the 1980s. The case of Jesuit priest Alfonso Pedrajas Moreno, who died in 2009, came to light over the weekend in a report by the Spanish newspaper El País. Attorney General Wilfredo Chávez said on Twitter that he was seeking information from the Spanish consulate on the case, and that he was asking the Catholic Church to comment.” By Associated Press


‘We can heal together’: Guelph man overcomes childhood sexual abuse by founding Recovery Speaking initiative
“Though he says he feels like a ‘warrior’ now, at 71, 60 years ago Robert McCabe was just a sweet and quiet boy. A child, who, after being sexually assaulted by his Catholic priest in a motel room while travelling to Montreal, spent the night curled up in a chair crying ‘no, no, no.’ The Guelph man said sharing his memories has helped him to reconcile with them. He has finally forgiven himself and his abuser who is now deceased, after a life of coping using alcohol, and a quest for recovery and justice. He founded Recovery Speaking initiative in 2020 and runs a men’s support group held Thursdays online, because he said, ‘there is hope after dealing with sexual abuse and trauma.’ By Joy Sturthers, Guelph Mercury

Archdiocese of Toronto threatens sexual aabuse accuser in legal defense
“In 2019, (David) Cullen, 59, was reviewing test results with a team of doctors when one asked a pointed question: had he ever been sexually abused as a child? That’s when he says the memories came flooding back. ‘I had buried it. I had buried it so deeply and it caught me off guard. I started dealing with shame right away,’ he told the CBCs The Fifth Estate in his first interview since launching a multimillion-dollar lawsuit against the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Toronto.” By Timothy Sawa, CBC News

Child sex abuse lawsuits reveal alleged warnings about priest years earlier
“The Catholic church in Ottawa has quietly settled three child sexual abuse lawsuits involving notorious priest Dale Crampton, cancelling three separate jury trials that were scheduled to be heard in Ottawa this spring. Two of the three plaintiffs alleged they were not only assaulted by Crampton, who killed himself in 2010, but also by his superior, auxiliary bishop John Beahen, at Crampton’s cottage in West Carleton. Beahen died from a stroke in 1988.” By Kristy Nease, CBC News


French Church names another retired bishop suspected of abuse
“The French Church has identified one of the previously unnamed retired archbishops investigated for sexual abuse, a revelation delayed because civil prosecutors did not inform Church officials that they had closed the case without taking any action. After a prosecutor confirmed reporting by Famille Chrétienne, the archdioceses of Auch, Lyon and Toulouse issued a joint statement confirming that a nun had accused retired Auch Archbishop Maurice Gardès in 2020 of ‘moral and sexual harassment, spiritual abuse and sexual aggression.’” By Tom Heneghan, The Tablet


Abuse victims meet pope after Munich to Rome bike trek
“A group of victims of sexual abuse in the Catholic Church had an audience with Pope Francis on Wednesday May 17), after reaching the goal of their bicycle challenge. The initiative — the stated aim of which is to be seen and heard — was organized by victims’ groups in the Munich and Freising archdiocese under the motto ‘We’re leaving! Church, are you with us?’ What did the journey entail? The group of nine abuse victims, along with their riding companions, traveled 715 kilometers (about 450 miles) in ten stages over as many successive days. To symbolize their emotional state, they also took along stones bearing words to reflect their thoughts and feelings.” By Deutche Welle

Zdk demands establishment of structures to deal with abuses in Catholic Church
“The Central Committee of German Catholics (ZdK) believes that the process of coming to terms with the abuse scandal in the Church is far from complete. At the spring plenary meeting in Munich on Saturday, ZdK Vice-President Wolfgang Klose demanded, among other things, the establishment of structures to deal with cases in Catholic associations and organizations. In addition, it must be clarified how the ZdK can cooperate with the German Bishops’ Conference (DBK) on the issue. Klose demanded that the committee accompany the reappraisal in the DBK and the Catholic dioceses in a critical manner.” By StarConnectMedia.com


Hungary: clerical sex abuse victims hope for justice
“The handling of sex abuse cases in the Hungarian Catholic Church has got off to a very difficult start. One well-known priest has quit after revealing that he himself is a survivor of sexual abuse, while another victim was charged with harassment when he refused to stop searching for answers. Despite all this, neither man has lost his faith. Both, however, hope for change within the Church.” By Deustche Welle


Indian Catholic priest gets bail in sexual abuse case
“A Catholic priest in a southern Indian state has been granted bail after he was remanded in custody for over a month for allegedly sexually abusing a teenage student and four other women. A local court in Nagercoil, in Tamil Nadu’s Kanniyakumari district, granted conditional bail to Father Benedict Anto, a member of Marthandam diocese of the eastern rite Syro-Malankara Church, on April 24. ‘The diocese suspended the priest soon after police acted against him,’ Father S Varghese, the vicar-general of the diocese, told UCA News on April 27.” By UCANews.com


Poland’s Catholic church launches campaign on how to report sex abuse
“Poland’s Catholic church is providing every parish in the country with posters explaining how people can report cases of sex abuse as well as presenting the rights of victims and the types of support that are offered to them. The materials, part of a campaign launched by the Polish episcopate, are intended to present ‘in an accessible way’ the church’s system for ‘extending support and necessary help to victims.’ ‘We want to make people aware that anyone in need of support can use it,’ wrote Piotr Studnicki, the head of the episcopate’s office for the protection of children and youth.” By Notes from Poland


Courage conquers shame: Portuguese Church sex abuse survivors speak out
“A recent report estimates nearly 5,000 children have been abused by members of the Portuguese Catholic clergy. Survivors are now speaking out about their suffering. The Portuguese Church hierarchy gathered in Fatima on 20th April to ask for forgiveness for the sexual crimes committed against minors by Catholic clergy. A report published in February estimates that nearly 5,000 children have been abused since 1950. Euronews reporter Valérie Gauriat went to Portugal to meet those concerned.” By Valerie Gauriat, EuroNews

Portuguese bishops pledge reform on clerical sex abuse
“Portugal’s Catholic bishops have vowed to stick to a path of reform in the matter of clerical sexual abuse, two months after an independent commission published a 400-page report that detailed incidences of child abuse and estimated a minimum of 5000 cases over the past 70 years. During the bishops’ plenary meeting in Fátima, Bishop José Ornelas presided over a special Mass for abuse victims, saying, “There can be no condoning situations or attitudes that endanger the lives of innocent people…’” By Filipe Avillez, The Tablet