Voice of the Faithful Focus, June 23, 2022

June 23, 2022


Statement of USCCB president on twenty years since passage of the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People
“This June marks twenty years since the Catholic bishops of the United States gathered in Dallas, Texas to draft and pass the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People in their commitment to address the issue of clergy sexual abuse. Marking this moment, Archbishop José H. Gomez of Los Angeles, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) issued the following statement: ‘This month marks the twentieth anniversary of the passage of the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People. This is not a time of celebration, but a time of continued vigilance and determination.’” By United States Conference of Catholic Bishops

Experts debate meaning of ‘synodality’ for global Church
“Throughout July, some 100,000 people will be able to participate in a free, online seminar about synodality, curated by three theologians from Latin America and including witnesses from all around the world. ‘Common Discernment and Decision Making in the Church’ is the theme of the first in a series of courses that will be hosted by Boston College’s School of Theology and ministry, sponsored by the bishops’ conferences of Latin America, Europe, and Asia, as well as the Jesuits in Latin America and the organizations of superiors general of male and female religious congregations.” By Inés San Martin, Cruxnow.com

Vatican cardinal: Subordination of women to men is ‘fruit of sin’
“‘The subordination of women to men is the fruit of sin,’ a top Vatican cardinal said on Tuesday (Jun. 14). ‘How much damage we have done, as men, by endorsing a status of superiority,’ said Canadian Cardinal Marc Ouellet, who heads the Vatican’s Congregation for Bishops and the Pontifical Commission for Latin America. ‘There is no complete image of what is human when only the masculine is considered predominant and the only thing relevant. For centuries, we have suffocated the feminine peculiarity.’” By Inés San Martin, Cruxnow.com

Pope Francis’ synodality could be key to reaching young Catholics
“With an abundance of Catholic colleges and universities in Philadelphia, a planning team of educators worked together to envision a way for all of Philadelphia’s Catholic colleges and universities to encounter synodality, which means journeying together, specifically tailored for young people. Inspired by Pope Francis’ call for greater listening, presence and curiosity among the global church, nearly 400 students from more than 40 campuses across the Philadelphia metropolitan region joined a multipart listening process that culminated in an all-campus listening session at La Salle University. Philadelphia Archbishop Nelson Perez participated in the listening session and delivered some thoughts at the end.” By Ernest J. Miller, National Catholic Reporter


How to evaluate Catholic journalism as CNS shuts down
“The recent decision by the U.S. hierarchy to shut down Catholic News Service operations in this country, shortsighted and insulting to the Catholic community, also bares tensions inherent in a setup where agencies are tightly aligned with or dependent upon the institutional church for their existence or credibility. The move is regrettable. While bishops might claim financing as the cause for the shutdown, if they wanted the service to survive, they’d certainly find a way.” By Tom Roberts, National Catholic Reporter

Vatican discloses uses of pope’s fund, hoping to reverse sagging trust
“The Vatican, in an apparent attempt to boost the confidence of the faithful in how their charitable contributions to the pope are used, on Thursday (Jun. 16) issued the first detailed disclosure of his main fund. The Peter’s Pence fund, whose aim is to help the pope run the Church, is made up income from a collection taken up in Roman Catholic dioceses around the world once a year, individual contribution and inheritances and bequests.” By Philip Pullella, Reuters, on EuroNews.com

Pope cracks down on new Catholic religious start-ups
“Pope Francis has taken another step to reign in new religious groups in the Catholic Church after their unregulated proliferation in recent decades led to abuses in governance that allowed spiritual and sexual misconduct to go unchecked. Francis issued a new decree published Wednesday (Jun. 15) that requires prior Vatican approval for bishops to erect new associations of the faithful, often the first step in the creation of a new apostolic society or institute of consecrate life.” By Nicole Winfield, Associated Press

Lay Group give Baltimore Archdiocese high marks for accountability, transparency
“Although it was not the first time the media had reported on sexual abuse scandals in the Catholic Church, when the Boston Globe reported extensively on the topic in 2002, it focused the attention of the U.S. bishops and many laypeople on the crisis. When the USCCB met in Dallas in June 2002, the main agenda item was discussion and approval of the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People … That same year, a small, grassroots, lay organization formed in the basement of a church in Wellesley, Mass., in the Archdiocese of Boston, the epicenter of the crisis. Voice of the Faithful has since expanded worldwide and now claims more than 30,000 members.” By Christopher Gunty, Catholic Review

Abuse expert: ‘voice of Jesus’ speaks through victims
“According to one of the Catholic Church’s foremost experts on clerical sexual abuse prevention, by ignoring the voice of the victims ‘we are excluding the voice of Jesus who speaks to us through them.’ German Jesuit Father Hans Zollner, President of the Institute of Anthropology-Interdisciplinary Studies on Protection and Human Dignity (IADC) of the Pontifical Gregorian University, was speaking at a daylong ‘conversation’ held on Thursday (Jun. 9) in Madrid, Spain, organized by the publishing house PPC.” By Inés San Martin


Towards a spirituality for synodality
One of the most significant aspects of the 2021-2023 Synod is the recognition that it is informed and shaped by a spirituality. In developing a ‘spirituality for synodality,’ we find that it assists us in integrating our theological reflection and expanding our experience of the Church as we engage more deeply in the synodal process. Indeed, as the features of a synodal spirituality unfold for us, we can come to see in it the ways in which the Holy Spirit graces the life of the Church, drawing each one into a deeper love of Christ and moving us to desire an ever greater communion, participation, and mission.” By Commission on Spirituality Sub-Group – Spirituality for synodality on Synod.va

Synodality gives voice to people on the periphery
“Lalita Beero, an unlettered and homebound homemaker from Mohana, a rural village of the Gajapati district of the eastern Indian state of Odisha, is a member of the diocesan synodal team of the Diocese of Berhampur. ‘I used to be very fearful,’ she said. ‘Today, I can stand before the crowd and speak a few words. I can mingle with all. I am happy to be part of this team. I am learning about some rules and norms of the Catholic Church which I never knew.’ Lalita has traveled to different parishes with the bishop and with the synodal team for meetings. ‘It is beyond my belief I could tour with Bishop Sarat Chandra Nayak and other esteemed members of the DST in and outside the diocese,’ she said.” By Sujata Jena, Global Sisters Report, National Catholic Reporter

Spain Catholics want Church to mull optional celibacy, women priests
“Spanish Catholics want Rome to consider talks on the future of the priesthood, including optional celibacy, the ordination of women and also of married men, a key document showed Saturday (Sunday in Manila). The document was unveiled by the CEE Episcopal Conference that groups Spain’s leading bishops at a 600-strong gathering in Madrid. It was drawn up after months of consultation with more than 215,000 people, mostly lay people but also priests and bishops, with the proposals to be condensed into a final document that will be presented to next year’s Bishops in Synod assembly at the Vatican.” By Agence France-Presse in Manila Times

Among national synod, Italian Church faces challenges on multiple fronts
“Church leaders in Italy are currently conducting a national synod process, at the behest of Pope Francis, in tandem with the pope’s universal Synod of Bishops on Synodality. Among other things, the Italian bishops’ national synod, set to conclude in 2025, is aimed at assessing the challenges the country faces in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic and providing an up-to-date evaluation of the general state of the church in Italy. Pope Francis had been pushing the Italian Bishops’ Conference (CEI) to launch the national synod ever since a 2015 visit to Florence for a major CEI conference.” By Elise Ann Allen, Cruxnow.com


Pope Francis: Theologians must find new and relevant ways to share the Catholic faith
“The Catholic Church needs theologians who know how to transmit the truths of faith in a way that will speak to people today, help them live the faith in their daily lives and inspire them to share the Gospel with others, Pope Francis wrote. ‘The community needs the work of those who attempt to interpret the faith, to translate and retranslate it, to make it understandable, to expound it in new words; it is a work that must be always done again, in every generation,’ the pope told staff from Milan’s archdiocesan seminary in a text given to them June 17.” By Cindy Wooden, Catholic News Service, in America: The Jesuit Review

Intentional or not, Pope offers valuable conclave tip on abuse baggage
“Even before Pope Francis stages his latest consistory on Aug. 27, inducting 20 new members into the Catholic Church’s most exclusive club, the event has managed to make news – in this case, not so much for the new cardinals who’ll be there, but the one erstwhile cardinal-designate who won’t … The reason for the withdrawal is that (former Bishop of Ghent Lucas) Van Looy’s record on the clerical abuse scandals has come under fire, and, inevitably, making him a cardinal therefore would be seen as insensitive and offensive to abuse survivors.” By John L. Allen, Jr., Cruxnow.com


‘God may be calling us’: Meet the women aspiring to become deacons
“I recently attended a listening session for the synod in which the global church is now participating. The priest taking notes for the bishop began the session by saying something along the lines of: ‘Don’t waste your time coming up here and making a comment that asks the church not to be Catholic. Women cannot receive holy orders. This is an infallible teaching of the Catholic Church. No generation in the church will ever see a woman at the altar.’ It was an odd way to begin a listening session, both because no topic is meant to be off the table at the sessions, and because the statement is false. While the Catholic Church is not considering ordaining women to the priesthood, the ordination of women to the permanent diaconate is a real possibility.” By Anna Keating, America: The Jesuit Review


Pope Francis: ‘Significant’ number of U.S. Catholics want to ‘gag’ Vatican II reforms
“The United States contains a ‘significant’ number of groups seeking to ‘gag’ the reforms of the Catholic Church initiated by the Second Vatican Council, Pope Francis said in a new interview. “’In the European Church I see more renewal in the spontaneous things that are emerging: movements, groups, new bishops who remember that there is a Council behind them,’ said Francis in a conversation with the editors of Jesuit journals of Europe. ‘Restorationism has come to gag the Council,’ he continued. ‘The number of groups of ‘restorers’ — for example, in the United States there are many — is significant.’” By Christopher White, National Catholic Reporter


200 witnesses to testify in ‘Vatican trial of a century’ on financial scandals
“Earlier this month, Giuseppe Pignatone, one of the judges overseeing the Vatican’s ‘trial of a century,’ concerning corruption and money laundering by Catholic Church officials, joked that he hoped the proceedings would end by 2050. At least, it was thought to be a joke: At Wednesday’s (Jun. 22) session, the judges announced that the prosecution and defendants plan to call more than 200 witnesses in a trial that has already taken nearly a year to get through 10 defendants.” By Claire Giangravé, Religion News Service

Former church finance director arrested for taking money as reimbursement for classes she didn’t take
“The former finance director at St. Leo the Great Catholic Church was charged Friday (Jun. 10) for fraudulently obtaining $27,930.03 from the church while she worked there between 2018 and 2020, Winston-Salem police said. Marilyn Bertelsen has been arrested on three felony counts of obtaining property under false pretense. The warrants claim she obtained the money for tuition — and, on one count, materials — as a reimbursement for college courses she never took.” By Winston-Salem Journal

Vatican’s financial watchdog sees rise in suspicious activity reports in 2021
“The Vatican’s financial watchdog authority reported on Monday (Jun. 13) that it received 104 suspicious activity reports in 2021, an increase from the previous year. In a 35-page annual report, released on June 13, the Supervisory and Financial Information Authority (ASIF) said that it submitted 21 reports to the Vatican’s Promoter of Justice (prosecutor), the highest number in the past five years.” By Catholic News Agency

Vatican Bank’s 2021 discal year nets $19 million, down from 2020
“In a context of great instability on the financial markets linked to the pandemic crisis, the Institute for the Works of Religion (IOR), the Vatican’s private bank, presents results that are still positive but down sharply in a report made public on 7 June 2022. In 2021, the Vatican entity posted a profit of EUR 18.1 million euros [$19 million]. Figures clearly down from 2020 – EUR 36.4 million [$39 million] net equity – but equivalent to those of 2018 – EUR 17.5 million [$18.7 million].” By Aleteia


Understanding the pope’s reforms: making the church Christocentric
“Last week, Pope Francis issued a rescript requiring local bishops to get approval from Rome before giving their blessing to a diocesan religious order. Some critics of the pope saw the new rule as draconian … The need for the edict is rooted in the lack of accountability that sometimes occurs when a new religious order is begun in one diocese, but later moves or expands beyond its original location and confusion sets in about who is conducting oversight. The recent problems in the Diocese of Fréjus-Toulon in France indicate how granting canonical status in an irresponsible manner to questionable groups can create a big mess.” By Michael Sean Winters, National Catholic Reporter


Maine diocese sued for first time since abuse suit barrier end
“The first lawsuits against the Roman Catholic Diocese of Portland since Maine took away a limitation on claims of child sexual abuse were filed on Thursday (Jun. 16). Democratic Gov. Janet Mills signed a law last year that allowed victims to bring civil lawsuits about older abuse cases. Abuse survivors previously could not bring lawsuits if they experienced the abuse prior to the late 1980s. Attorneys who represent three people with claims of childhood sexual abuse by Catholic clergy and a lay educator filed the complaints seeking monetary damages.” By Patrick whittle, Associated Press

Louisiana legislature passes ‘fix to make it easier for sex abuse victims to sue
“The Louisiana Legislature approved Tuesday (Jun. 7) an update to a law it passed just last year that was supposed to make it easier for adult victims of childhood sex abuse to sue institutions such as the Catholic Church and Boy Scouts of America. The Louisiana House and Senate voted without objection to pass House Bill 402, by Rep. Jason Hughes, D-New Orleans, which clarifies that victims of childhood abuse – no matter their current age – should have a chance to sue over their alleged mistreatment until 2024.” By Julie O’Donoghue, Louisiana Illuminator


Priest abuse survivor says church still needs ‘lamentation’ for abuse
“As the Catholic Church in the United States marks two decades since the U.S. bishops adopted a document establishing policies to deal with allegations of sexual abuse of children by clergy, Jesuit Father Jerry McGlone worries about the psychological responses the event could trigger. And he knows from experience because he’s not solely a priest who works with survivors but also a survivor of abuse by a priest.” By Rhina Guidos, Catholic News Service, on CatholicReview.org

Abuse victim seeks damages from retired Pope Benedict XVI
“A victim of sexual abuse is reported to be suing retired Pope Benedict XVI in connection with the Munich abuse scandal. The German Catholic news agency KNA reported the victim has accused Pope Benedict — who, as Joseph Ratzinger served as archbishop of Munich and Freising from 1977 to 1982 — of having ‘responsibly approved’ the appointment of a priest as a pastoral minister in a Bavarian parish some 40 years ago, even though the man was known to be an abuser. The legal action is aimed at establishing that the retired pope was partly to blame for the abuse scandal through a so-called ‘declaratory action,’ public broadcaster Bayerischer Rundfunk reported June 22.” By Catholic News Service

Archdiocese follows detailed process to respond to allegations of abuse
“When the Archdiocese of Baltimore receives any allegation of child sexual abuse by clergy, employees or volunteers in the church, archdiocesan officials take very seriously the person who has come forward, according to Bishop Adam J. Parker, moderator of the curia and vicar general. ‘That is where we begin. The investigation will try to examine every facet that we can possibly examine to get to the truth,’ he said in April 2022.” By Christopher Gunty, Catholic Review


Santa Barbara Franciscans hit with new sexual assault complaint
“With the statute of limitations on such cases soon set to expire, a 40-year-old Santa Barbara County resident identified only as John Doe filed legal papers in court alleging he’d been sexually assaulted at the hands of the Franciscan Friars of California, the Old Mission Santa Barbara, the Roman Catholic Diocese, and the San Roque Catholic Church. Specifically, the complaint charges that Father Robert Van Handel and Monsignor Vincent McCabe sexually abused the plaintiff in 1989 when he was a 5th grader singing in the St. Anthony’s choir under the direction of Van Handel and serving as an altar boy at the San Roque parish under the guidance of Monsignor McCabe.” By Nick Welsh, Santa Barbara Independent


Three men sue Maine Catholic bishop over alleged sex abuse decades ago following law change
“Three men have sued the head of Maine’s Roman Catholic diocese in three different counties, saying that four priests and a lay teacher abused them years ago in a variety of venues, including at churches. The men have filed the lawsuits against Bishop Robert Deeley, head of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Portland, following a law change that took effect last October lifting the statute of limitations on such legal claims.” By Judy Harrison, Bangor Daily News


Former Shelby township priest convicted for sexual abuse could face more than a decade in prison
“A former priest in Shelby Township is facing more than a decade in prison after being convicted of sexual abuse, Attorney General Dana Nessel announced Monday (Jun. 13). Neil Kalina, 66, was convicted of two counts of second-degree criminal sexual conduct by a jury in Macomb County Circuit Court on Friday afternoon. The charges, in this case, are 15-year felonies.” By CBS-TV62 News


Catholic church uses pedophile priest’s death as shield against new allegations in NSW
“The Catholic church has used the death of a known pedophile priest to shield itself from being sued over new complaints of child sexual abuse. Earlier this month, the Lismore diocese won its argument for a permanent stay of civil proceedings brought by a woman who was 14 years old when she was allegedly sexually assaulted by Father Clarence Anderson in 1968 inside her family home.” By Christopher Knaus, The Guardian

Long-awaited Joan Chittister tour excites Australian Catholic reformers
“‘It’s time for prophetic voices everywhere to get into the conversation, study the issues, stay with the problem, to speak out. The question now is whether there’ll be prophets enough among you, here, in this group, in this generation to help the world and the church sort and sift ideas that others want to suppress. Prophets of real faith must go on raising their cries!’ Challenging words from Benedictine Sr. Joan Chittister to an audience of Catholic activists in Sydney. The ‘troublesome’ American nun is in Australia for a major speaking tour at a crucial time for the Catholic Church in this country.” By Peter Kirkwood, National Catholic Reporter

Priest sex abuse victim awarded nearly $2m
“A former altar boy sexually abused by Victorian priest Desmond Gannon has been awarded nearly $2 million in damages in a civil case against Melbourne’s archbishop. The sex abuse survivor, who cannot be named for legal reasons, brought the case against Peter Comensoli, claiming the Catholic Archdiocese of Melbourne was vicariously liable for his abuse.” By Cassandra Morgan, The Advertiser


Victims of sexual abuse upset convicted clerics cared for in Catholic retirement home
“When James and Tony Charlie first arrived at Kuper Island Residential School in British Columbia, they were given identification numbers that would be stitched into their clothes and put on lists for chore duties. ‘Sometimes it wasn’t even our names, it was just the number,’ Tony said. The brothers, born just 14 months apart, started attending the school in 1964 when Tony was 13 and James was 12. They’re now counted among the many children abused by Catholic clergy at residential schools across Canada.” By Julie Ireton, CBC News

Former priest Arthur Masse busted in alleged Manitoba school sex assault
“A retired priest was busted Thursday (Jun. 16) for allegedly sexually assaulting a girl at an indigenous residential school in Canada in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Arthur Masse, 92, was arrested at his home in Winnipeg and charged with the sexual assault of a 10-year-old girl who was a student at the Manitoba school in Fort Alexander, according to the CBC.” By Isabel Vincent, New York Post

St. John’s basilica sold for more than $3 million to pay survivors of church abuse
“The bells at the historic basilica overlooking St. John’s rang out Tuesday (Jun. 14) after a committee intent on preserving the cathedral announced it was chosen as the building’s new owners. The 167-year-old Basilica of St. John’s the Baptist was put up for sale along with two other church properties as part of bankruptcy proceedings undertaken by the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of St. John’s, as it scrambles to pay survivors of sexual and physical abuse at the former Mount Cashel Orphanage.” By Sarah Smellie, The Canadian Press

Ex-priest who abused Inuit children ‘should rot in jail,’ says federal minister
“The statutory release of a defrocked priest who sexually abused children in Igloolik, Nunavut, received a sharp response from the federal minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations. On Thursday (Jun. 9), Minister Marc Miller told reporters he believes people like Eric Dejaeger ‘should rot in jail.’ Dejaeger, now 75, was convicted in 2015 of 32 counts of sexually abusing people in Igloolik, many of them children.” By April Hudson, CBC

Audit of several Quebec dioceses’ records identifies 87 abusers in the church
“An independent audit of more than 80 years of files involving nine Quebec Catholic dioceses found at least 87 abusers among church personnel, according to a summary of findings released Wednesday (Jun. 8). Retired Superior Court justice André Denis reviewed archived files of 6,809 people employed between 1940 and 2021 and uncovered 87 employees who were the subjects of confirmed or well-founded sex abuse allegations involving minors or vulnerable adults.” By Sidhartha Banerjee, The Canadian Press, on CBC.ca


Former Chilean priest found guilty of sex abuse and rape
“A former priest and top aide to Santiago’s archbishop was found guilty on Wednesday (Jun. 8) of repeated sexual abuse and rape, the result of 2018 scandal that ensnared multiple high-ranking members of the Chilean Catholic Church. The prosecutor’s office said on Twitter that it had secured the conviction of former priest Oscar Munoz, ‘for crimes of repeated rape, sexual abuse and repeated sexual abuse of those who were minor victims.’” By Reuters


Münster bishop refuses to quit after sexual abuse report
“Bishop of Münster Felix Genn on Friday (Jun. 17) said he would not resign after a report that claimed he was too lax in dealing with priests who had committed abuse. While he admitted mistakes in dealing with the cases, Genn said he had not put the interests of the institution ahead of concern for the victims by covering up cases of sexual abuse. However, he did blame his predecessors for more ‘serious mistakes,’ saying that they had done so.” By Deutshe Welle

Study finds German Catholic priests sexually abused over 600 victims
At least 610 children were documented as having been sexually abused by Catholic priests between 1945 and 2020 in the diocese of the west German city of Münster, according to a study released Monday (Jun. 13). The new report from the University of Münster found nearly 200 members of the clergy committed nearly 6,000 instances of abuse. Researchers believe the true number of victims could be much higher — up to between 5,000 and 6,000 more victims — due to unreported cases, the report’s authors said at a press conference outlining their findings on Monday.” By Inke Kappeler and Lauren Said-Moorhouse, CNN


Catholic priest jailed for ten years for child rape
“A Catholic priest has been sentenced to ten years in jail for raping a child. Fr Anthony White was sentenced to ten and half years imprisonment by Hove Crown Court last week for sexual assault and two offences of indecent assault of a 15-year-old boy. The incidents took place between 1992 and 1993 when White, now 64, was an assistant priest at St John’s Church, Horsham, West Sussex.” By Catherine Pepinster, The Tablet


Future of Indian bishop acquitted of rape in Vatican’s hands, nuncio says
“The Vatican has accepted the verdict of an Indian court declaring the innocence of a bishop accused of raping a nun, according to the papal representative to the country, who added the bishop’s future ‘is not in my hands, but with Rome.’ Archbishop Leopoldo Girelli was speaking about Bishop Franco Mulakkal of Jalandhar during a visit to the diocese, located in Punjab state.” By Nirmala Carvalho, Cruxnow.com


£150K payout for victim abused by pedophile priest Fr. Malachy Finnegan
“The payout forms part of a settlement reached at the High Court in his claim for historic physical and sexual assaults inflicted by the late Fr Malachy Finnegan. He is also to meet the leader of the Catholic Church in Ireland to be given an apology in person, and have the costs of his ongoing counselling covered under the terms of the resolution.” By Alan Erwin, Newsletter.co.uk

A Roman Catholic priest who plied a teenage boy with drink before raping him has been jailed
“Father Anthony White, 64, now of Cross-In-Hand, Heathfield, Sussex, committed the offences during 1992 and 1983 when the boy was 15. The offences took place at an address in Horsham where White was living while serving as an Assistant Priest at St John the Evangelist Church in the town. A detective working on the investigation revealed how White carried out his crimes after winning the trust of the boy’s family.” By The Irish Post


Survivor haunted by abuse at St. Dominic’s Children’s Home
“A survivor of abuse at the St Dominic’s Children’s Home in Belmont, who left there in 1997, said his ability to relate and interact with people has been irrevocably altered by the abuse he suffered while growing up at the home. He now lives in the Netherlands where, as a gay man, he has been granted asylum status. “’ can’t form friendships. I get real irritated with people fast, I have a low span for stupidity. I don’t keep many friends, and who I keep as friends, if they cross me, I behave really badly. All of this is because of my background, what I’ve been through. I still rock myself to sleep at night, at the age of 42, because I can’t sleep normally.” By Paula Lindo, Trinidad and Tobago Newsday