Voice of the Faithful Focus, Sept. 22, 2023

Sept. 22, 2023


Vatican considers child sexual abuse allegations against a former Australian bishop
“The Vatican is considering the findings of a church investigation into ‘very serious and deeply distressing’ child sexual abuse allegations against a former Australian bishop, a church leader said on Tuesday (Sept. 19). Christopher Saunders, now 73, resigned in 2021 as bishop of Broome, an Outback diocese of northwest Australia larger than France but with a population of only 50,000, after police announced they had dropped a sex crime investigation. He had stood down a year earlier after media reported the allegations.” By Rod McGuirk, Associated Press, in The Seattle Times

Research reveals over 1,000 cases of sexual abuse by Swiss Catholic Church clergy
“The latest study revealed over 1,000 cases of sexual abuse by Swiss Catholic Church clergy and other employees, with 74% of such abuses involving minors, the University of Zurich said on Tuesday (Sept. 12), describing the cases as the ‘tip of the iceberg.’ The University of Zurich conducted a study commissioned by the Swiss Bishops’ Conference that documented 1,002 cases of sexual abuse committed by Catholic clergy, church employees, and religious in Switzerland from 1950 to the present. The university said in a press statement that this is the first study that has allowed an independent research team to look into church archives for files on sexual abuse in the Catholic Church environment.” By Tino Kirez, Anadolu Agency, on AA.com

Editorial: Pope Francis, it’s time to release the women deacons report
“By all accounts, Pope Francis has had an eventful papacy. This first pope from the Americas has breathed new life into the reforms of the Second Vatican Council, refashioned the Vatican’s staid bureaucracy, and pushed the Catholic Church to focus on the needs of the environment and global peripheries. One especially interesting turn: Only 22 years after Pope John Paul II claimed the church had ‘no authority whatsoever’ to ordain women as priests, Francis in 2016 created a first-of-its-kind papal commission to study the history of the ordination of women as Catholic deacons. Even more, in 2020, after that commission had wrapped up its work, the pope created another.” By National Catholic Reporter Editorial Staff

Synod 2023: What has Pope Francis said about synodality?
“The Synod on Synodality is set to launch the first of two assemblies on Oct. 4. The global meetings in Rome are the culmination of two years of preparation, and during that time, much has been said about synodality, including by the pope. In some of his more recent comments on synodality, Pope Francis said, ‘speaking of a ‘Synod on Synodality’ may seem something abstruse, self-referential, excessively technical, of little interest to the general public,’ but it is ‘something truly important for the Church.’” By Hannah Brockhaus, Catholic News Agency


Catholic Church has ‘a lot to learn’ from others about accountability, warns theologian
“A leading theologian has said it is crucial for the Catholic Church to understand the need to learn from other organizations when it comes to accountability. Fr Eugene Duffy, lecturer in theology at Mary Immaculate College in the University of Limerick and All Hallows College, Dublin City University, said, ‘A Synodal Church Needs Accountability. “We need external organizations to offer an evaluation and scrutiny of our performances.’ He noted the role of the National Board for Safeguarding in the Irish Church which was completely independent of the hierarchy and monitors every diocese on a regular basis in regard to their compliance to best practice and standards. Another issue was the need for a reform of mindsets and attitudes, Fr Duffy noted.” By Sarah Mac Donald, The Tablet

Conservative critics of the synod and Francis are embarrassing themselves
“At chanceries and rectories across the land, The Synodal Process Is a Pandora’s Box: 100 Questions and Answers, is arriving with the obvious goal of seeking to undermine the synodal process Pope Francis has begun. I was surprised they did not stop at 95 and nail the text to the doors of St. Peter’s. My colleague Christopher White, NCR Vatican correspondent, explained the source of the volume on Monday. The book is published by Tradition, Family and Property, a reactionary group that started in Brazil in 1960, and distinguished itself for opposition to Vatican II and affinity for right-wing juntas.” By Michael Sean Winters, National Catholic Reporter

Grand jury reports only scratch the surface
“These days I read with a newer lens as an abuse survivor, after finally recognizing/acknowledging the sexual, spiritual, and emotional abuse inflicted by a lay teacher at my Diocese of Allentown school, Msgr. Bornemann Memorial Central Catholic High School in Reading, PA. With the survivor lens in mind, my curiosity was piqued by Kevin Clarke’s article, ‘The Complicated Legacy of State investigations of the Catholic sex abuse crisis.’ I began reading with an open mind; after all, over the last three years, I have come to know numerous survivors whose stories were included in the PA Grand Jury Report (my high school and local parish were hubs for abusive clergy). Their stories laid bare the web of moral and ethical corruption in various Catholic dioceses in PA.” By Paige N. Eppenstein Anderson, on SnapNetwork.org


Follow NCR for reports on Pope Francis’ momentous Synod of Bishops
“What is shaping up as possibly one of the most important gatherings in the long history of the Catholic Church is taking place in Rome Oct. 4-29, 2023. Pope Francis is hosting the first of two back-to-back assemblies of the Synod of Bishops to consider questions that have the potential to change the course of Catholicism. Among items on the agenda: the possibility of women serving the church in ordained ministry, how the church can better include LGBTQ Catholics and priestly celibacy. NCR is there in strength to report on this momentous event. Follow along with reports and analysis from Vatican correspondent Christopher White; news editor Joshua McElwee, who covered Francis’ papacy from 2014 to 2021; NCR senior correspondent Heidi Schlumpf; and Rhina Guidos, Latin America regional correspondent for Global Sisters Report.” By National Catholic Reporter

What is at stake at the looming synod in Rome?
“Just over the horizon, one of the most important events to take place in the Church since the Second Vatican Council will convene in Rome on Oct. 4 and conclude on Oct. 28. I am speaking of the much discussed Synod on Synodality, which appears to be the capstone event in the pontificate of Pope Francis. Pope Francis has acknowledged that for most average Catholics, the upcoming synod probably does not mean very much to them on a day-to-day, practical level … Nevertheless, he reiterated his conviction that the synod is ‘something truly important for the Church.’ I agree with that assessment. There is much at stake in the synod which I hope to outline briefly in what follows.” By Larry Chapp, Our Sunday Visitor

10 things to know about October’s Synod on Synodality in Rome
“The eyes of the Catholic world turn to Rome Oct. 4, as the worldwide Synod of Bishops convenes on the feast of St. Francis of Assisi to focus on ‘synodality’ and understanding what it means in terms of “communion, participation and mission” in the church. Here’s what it is, how we got here and what to expect.” By Maria Wiering, OSV News, in The Pilot

Is synodality just another word for collegiality
“In October, the Catholic Church is going to have an international meeting in Rome on the topic of synodality. This is an unfamiliar term to most Catholics, except those of Eastern traditions, whose bishops regularly come together in synods to govern the church. In the Western church, we call such meetings ‘councils,’ not synods. What then is synodality? My own unsophisticated understanding is that it is another word for ‘collegiality,’ a term that became popular after the Second Vatican Council in the early 1960s … But synodality goes beyond collegiality as a practical vision for the church.” By Thomas Reese, National Catholic Reporter

Cameroonian priest: African Synod delegates likely to resist pro-LGBTQ+ ideas
“A Cameroonian priest has suggested that African delegates to the Synod on Synodality assembly next month at the Vatican may be quite resistant to any efforts at being more inclusive of LGBTQ+ people. Writing in The Tablet last month, Fr. Ludovic Lado, S.J. reflected critically about how negatively the church in Africa has been receiving the synodal process, and specifically when it comes to questions of gender and sexuality.” By Robert Shine, NewWaysMinistry.org

Monday starter: UISG plans series of online conversations on synodality
“The first of a three-part series of conversations by the International Union of Superiors General, or UISG, on synodality and the upcoming October Synod Assembly will be held at 2 p.m. Central European time on Sept. 14. The conversation on ‘overview and opportunities’ will have a particular focus on the issue of communion, one of the topics being addressed by the upcoming synod.” By Chris Herlinger, Global Sisters Report, National Catholic Reporter

‘You can count on us.’ Synod organizers attempt to dismiss fears ahead of fall meeting
“As Catholic bishops and lay people prepare to gather in Rome this October to begin discussions on the main challenges facing the church, tensions over the topics — and the stakes — of the summit have grown. Papal allies and organizers of the October 4-29 event — the ‘Synod on Synodality: Communion, Participation and Mission’ — are trying to defuse the tension and reassure faithful that the church has nothing to fear from the discussions even if they will take place behind closed doors.” By Claire Giangravé, Religion News Service

Behind the synod opposition: far-right groups, political activists and Cardinal Burke
“Far-right Latin American groups with deep ties to traditionalist Catholics in the United States, and a long history of defying Vatican II reforms, are driving the opposition to next month’s closely watched Vatican summit on the future of the Catholic Church. Despite efforts to drum up resistance to Pope Francis’ Synod of Bishops, theologians have described their efforts as a ‘malignant force’ in the church, but with waning influence sustained by considerable financial backing.” By Christopher White, National Catholic Reporter

A modest proposal for synod punditry: first accusation of ‘heresy’ or ‘rigidity’ loses
“In just under a month’s time, the curtain will go up on the first of two keenly anticipated Synods of Bishops on Synodality, often styled as Pope Francis’s own miniature version of the Second Vatican Council. The event is destined to draw extensive media coverage, most of which likely will focus on a narrow canon of issues (women clergy, married priests, transgender rights, same-sex unions, and so on) and will play up tensions and conflicts … The concern is that in the media, the synod is going to come off as a sort of ‘brawl to settle it all,’ frustrating hopes for consensus.” By John L. Allen, Jr., Cruxnow.com


The Pope and the Americans: the U.S. episcopate is unparalleled in its resistance to Francis
“The Vatican and the U.S. Catholic Church have had a special relationship since the beginning of the political and religious experiment called ‘American Catholicism.’ But that relationship has become more complicated—and fraught—over the course of Francis’s papacy. This was demonstrated most recently in late August when remarks the pope made in Portugal during the World Youth Day gathering were published by the Jesuit-run and Vatican-vetted Civiltà Cattolica. ‘You have seen that in the United States the situation is not easy,’ he told a Jesuit who’d spent a sabbatical year in the U.S. ‘There is a very strong reactionary attitude. It is organized and shapes the way people belong, even emotionally. I would like to remind those people that indietrismo [being backward-looking] is useless and we need to understand that there is an appropriate evolution in the understanding of matters of faith and morals.’” By Massimo Faggioli, Commonweal

The Pope’s coming Vatican showdown with American conservatives
“Pope Francis’s ‘apostolic journey’ to Mongolia earlier this month had the unexpected consequence of bringing Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, a singular and controversial French Jesuit scientist who died nearly seventy years ago, into the news cycle. As it turns out, Teilhard’s theology of cosmic spiritual progress is a useful way to understand the challenges that Francis is currently facing, as he and the Church prepare for a global synod next month in Rome. There, three hundred and sixty-three clerical and lay leaders representing two rival conceptions of the Church will encounter one another for several weeks of behind-closed-doors dialogue—a process that is meant to be amicable but may lead to open conflict prior to a second session next October.” By Paul Elie, The New Yorker


Bishop Flores: Synod hopes to help Catholic Church listen more to lay people
“October’s general assembly in Rome for the Catholic Church’s Synod of Bishops on synodality aims to address human reality — not abstractions — in order to more effectively share Jesus Christ and his Gospel with others, said Bishop Daniel E. Flores, a U.S. member of the global assembly’s preparatory commission. ‘If we do this right … in our own local churches we can develop a style of listening and decision-making that involves more hearing from people ‘in the trenches,’ so to speak,’ he said, such as hearing from ‘people who are struggling and who are dealing with families that are in crisis, or families that are struggling, that are split, because of controversial realities that are affecting their lives.’” By Maria Wiering, OSV News


Synodal discernment and women in the diaconate
“The People of God have asked. The Synod may answer. What about women deacons? The Instrumentum Laboris states, ‘Most of the Continental Assemblies and the syntheses of several Episcopal Conferences call for the question of women’s inclusion in the diaconate to be considered. Is it possible to envisage this, and in what way?’ Persons and pressure groups on both sides of the issue are making their opinions known. But opinion is not fact, and lobbying is not discernment.” By Phyllis Zagano, The Tablet

The synod could change whether women can be ordained as deacons or priests. These women are hopeful.
“Advocates for women’s ordination — to the diaconate, the priesthood or both — say they are hopeful about the upcoming synod in Rome, despite some high-profile opposition to the possibility of expanded leadership opportunities for women in the church. While they would like to see concrete proposals that increase women’s participation, those who spoke to NCR said they are also excited about the process of synodality itself and believe the Oct. 4-29 series of meetings will surface fruitful conversation and dialogue.” By Heidi Schlumpf, National Catholic Reporter

Australian Catholic women echo global call for Church reform
“Although Australian Catholic women are frustrated about discrimination, abuse and patriarchy in the Church, a study has exposed a surprising generational divide. Source: Most older women – particularly those aged over 55 – were dissatisfied with the lack of options for leadership, the gendered language in the liturgy, and the ban on remarriage after divorce – but many of those aged 40 and below supported the status quo. The authors of the study – which surveyed 17,200 women from 104 countries, including 1769 from Australia – say the generational difference could be due to life experience, the influence of migration, or the fact young people grew up in a more conservative Church.” By CathNews.com

Surprise split among Catholic women over sex, divorce and patriarchy
“Although Australian Catholic women are frustrated about discrimination, abuse and patriarchy in the church, a study has exposed a surprising generational divide: older women are hungry for reform, but younger devotees have little interest in relaxing rules on sex, contraception and the priesthood. Most older women – particularly those aged over 55 – were dissatisfied with the lack of options for leadership, the gendered language in the liturgy, and the ban on remarriage after divorce – but many of those aged 40 and below supported the status quo.” By Jordan Baker, The Sydney Morning Herald


Developing the voice of the laity
“The synodal listening sessions opened the door to   hearing the voice of the laity in a new way, as parishes across the world were asked to share their stories, hopes, and disappointments about living within the Catholic Church in order to guide where it goes next. Yet, according to the 2023 U.S. National Synthesis Report, dioceses entered the process with ‘a combination of excitement, confusion, and skepticism.’ In fact, ‘several dioceses noted some apprehension and even opposition as they began their synodal listening’—due, in part, to a feeling the process would be futile.” By Kayla August, Commonweal


The Catholic diaspora: independent communities as the church’s ‘research lab’ (Part 1)
“Martha Ligas learned about the Community of St. Peter in Cleveland six months before she ventured into a worship service. She hesitated because she did not want to step over an invisible line that she had straddled for so long, one foot in and one foot out of the Roman Catholic Church. For this young but lifelong Catholic, a product of Catholic schooling from elementary through Loyola University Chicago and an advanced degree in ministry at Boston College, leaving the institutional structure was a difficult decision. ‘Catholic is just how I see the world,’ she said. ‘I knew nothing else than Catholic.’ The Community of St. Peter is an independent community, not affiliated with the Cleveland Diocese, that self-describes as Catholic, eucharistic, and ‘preserving and renewing a living tradition.’” By Tom Roberts, National Catholic Reporter


Marginalized by Rome: no room in ‘enlarged tent’ for traditionalist Catholics
“We live in the midst of a ‘synodal renewal of the Church.’ This Church ‘listens’ and ‘accompanies’ God’s people, especially those on the ‘margins.’ Starting in October of 2023, representatives of the Catholic Church begin meeting in Rome for the First Session of the Synod of Synodality. Here, the Church takes the information gleaned from the various ‘listen sessions’ and begins to identify new ways to ‘accompany’ its people, again, especially those on the ‘margins.’ Well, not all marginalized. Some, like the infinitesimally small number of Traditionalists who prefer the Traditional Latin Mass (TLM), get a deaf ear from the Vatican and the Synod of Synodality.” By Dennis Knapp, Patheos

The Church’s costly failures in handling clergy abuse
“Its cover-up is causing many good people to lose faith and trust in the institutional Church. The shocking truth about clerical sexual abuse of minors and women religious was revealed in research by Missio Aachen released in 2020. The pressures on women religious never to complain are immense. They are told by priests that suffering in silence is a great virtue. Complaining of abuse invites retaliation and even expulsion from their congregation, the research reveals. These are secret crimes now being exposed around the world to the shame and embarrassment of the members of the institutional Church.” By Father Shay Cullen, UCANews.com

Opening the door for more victims to sue over sexual abuse
“Criminal sexual assault charges against Theodore McCarrick were dismissed last month after a Massachusetts judge ruled that the 93-year-old defrocked cardinal was incompetent to stand trial. But Mitchell Garabedian, the lawyer who represented the plaintiff in that case, is still pursuing civil lawsuits related to McCarrick filed in New York and New Jersey. He is able to do so because those states lifted statute of limitation restrictions on such cases for a set window of time … A bill filed by (Massachusetts) state Senator Joan Lovely of Salem would do that by entirely eliminating the statute of limitations on civil child sexual abuse cases. But to make that happen, lawmakers must overlook the objections of the Catholic Church, which opposes the measure.” By The Boston Globe Editorial Board


Maine AG defends law eliminating statute of limitations on child sex abuse claims
“Maine’s attorney general pushed back Monday (Sept. 18) against a constitutional challenge by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Portland, saying a 2021 law that removed the statute of limitations for victims of childhood sexual abuse is not only constitutional but necessary to give victims time to ‘come to terms with the harm they have suffered.’ In filings to the Maine Supreme Judicial Court on Friday, Attorney General Aaron Frey defended the law against objections from the diocese, which has argued that the law is unconstitutional because it creates new liability and exposes defendants to ‘tens of millions of dollars’ in potential claims.” By Emily Allen, Portland Press Herald

California Assembly member Dawn Addis bill to address childhood sexual assault clears legislature heads to governor
“Legislation by Assemblymember Dawn Addis (D-Morro Bay) that will end California’s arbitrary civil statute of limitations for minors who have experienced sexual abuse was approved by the State Assembly on a bipartisan basis on Tuesday. The bill – Assembly Bill 452 – now goes to the desk of Governor Gavin Newsom for his consideration.” By Sierra Sun Times


Alleged victims of influential Vatican artist left ‘speechless’ after new Rome diocese report
“Women who say they were abused by a once-prominent Jesuit artist said Sept. 19 they had been revictimized by his superiors, saying Pope Francis’ recent gestures and an apparent effort to exonerate him publicly showed church pledges of ‘zero tolerance’ were just a ‘publicity stunt.’ In an open letter published on an Italian survivor advocate site, the women lashed out at a declaration from the Vicariate of Rome, which Francis nominally heads as Bishop of Rome and recently tightened his grip over. The Vicariate reported Sept. 18 that it had uncovered ‘seriously anomalous procedures’ used in the Vatican investigation into Fr. Marko Ivan Rupnik.” By Nicole Winfield, Associated Press, in National Catholic Reporter

Catholic clergy abuse survivors of color endure compounded trauma
“As Kevin Johnson recalled an encounter with an abusive priest, the image of George Floyd on the ground, a knee to his neck, came to mind. Decades earlier Johnson, too, gasped for air during moments of terror. He was 16 then, a Black teen daydreaming in a church-run community pool, when a white, Josephite-order priest who’d befriended him years prior allegedly molested him underwater. ‘He dragged me under, where there was no oxygen, wrestled and assaulted me,’ Johnson told NCR. ‘I would eventually be allowed to return to the surface and breathe. It was not a knee to the neck but a hand down the front of the trunks.’” By Kate Collins Scott, National Catholic Reporter

With Catholic Church foot-dragging comes the chance to evade justice
“After a judge declared him incompetent to stand trial on charges that he sexually assaulted a 16-year-old boy in Wellesley in the 1970s, the Zoom image of Theodore McCarrick showed an old man with a blank face, hunched over a table in a room at the assisted living facility in Missouri that is now his home. Yet when the remote session ended, one could still imagine the defrocked and disgraced cardinal smiling in triumph — just like any other aging gangster who beat the system. The charges against McCarrick, 93, were dismissed last week after two medical experts found he suffered from dementia. That makes him a living symbol of the cost of the decades-long coverup of clergy sexual abuse by the Roman Catholic Church.” By Joan Vennochi, The Boston Globe


Long Beach-based priest charged with possessing more than 600 images of child pornography
“A Long Beach-based priest on Thursday was charged in Ventura County with possession of child pornography, prosecutors said. Rodolfo Martinez-Guevara, 38, was arrested Wednesday (Sept.13) in Long Beach, according to the Ventura County district attorney’s office. He is accused of possessing ‘over 600 images of child sexual abuse material, including images and videos of prepubescent minors under the age of 12.’ ‘As a priest, the defendant is in a position of tremendous power, authority and trust. The alleged crimes deeply violate that trust and involve a disturbing number of sexual images of young boys,’ District Attorney Erik Nasarenko said in a statement.” By Sid Garcia, ABC-TV7 News


Louisiana grand jury charges 91-year-old disgraced priest with sexual assault of teenage boy in 1975
“A state grand jury has charged a now-91-year-old disgraced priest with sexually assaulting a teenage boy in 1975, an extraordinary prosecution that could shed new light on what Roman Catholic Church leaders knew about a child sex abuse crisis that persisted for decades and claimed hundreds of victims. The priest, Lawrence Hecker, has been at the center of state and federal investigations of clergy sex abuse and a deepening scandal over why church leaders failed to report his admissions to law enforcement even as they permitted him to work around children until he quietly left the ministry in 2002.” By Jim Mustain, Associated Press

New Orleans archbishop: local Catholic institutions must help with cost of clergy abuse claims
“Contradicting promises he made when his archdiocese declared bankruptcy in May 2020, New Orleans’s archbishop, Gregory Aymond, told the area’s Catholic churches, schools and other ministries that they will now have to share some of the costs of resolving hundreds of clergy abuse claims. Aymond’s notice came in a letter on Friday (Sept. 7), at the end of a particularly bad news week for his organization. One day earlier, a grand jury in New Orleans indicted the retired archdiocesan priest Lawrence Hecker on charges of aggravated rape, aggravated kidnapping, aggravated crime against nature and theft.” By Maya Yang and David Hammer, WWL-TV4 News, in The Guardian


Catholics condemn Archdiocese of Baltimore for bankruptcy response to sexual abuse lawsuits
It is with disgust, but not surprise, that I read about the Baltimore archdiocese’s plan to consider bankruptcy as a response to their history of child sexual abuse (‘Archbishop concedes the Baltimore archdiocese is considering bankruptcy; survivors say they’d oppose the move,’ Sept. 5). I would like to particularly respond to two points in Archbishop William Lori’s email to Baltimore archdiocese Catholics …” Reader Commentary in The Baltimore Sun


Advocates condemn Mass. judge’s dismissal of Catholic sexual abuse case
“Last week, a Massachusetts judge dismissed the criminal charges of sexual abuse against Theodore McCarrick, a priest who was once one of the most powerful men in the Catholic Church in America. A former cardinal and bishop, McCarrick had been charged with sexually assaulting a teenager nearly 50 years ago. The victim alleges the abuse lasted for about two decades. McCarrick, now 93, reportedly suffers from dementia, and Judge Paul McCallum of the Dedham District Court deemed him incompetent to stand trial.” By Kana Ruhalter and Arun Rath, WGBH Boston National Public Radio


Recently ordained New York priest arrested over charges of sexual abuse of minor
“A Catholic priest ordained just over four years ago for the Diocese of Syracuse, New York, has been charged with several counts of child sexual abuse and removed from ministry. Fr. Nathan W. Brooks, 36, faces four misdemeanor counts of third-degree sex abuse, forcible touching and endangering the welfare of a child for incidents that took place between 2019-2021. According to a news release issued by the Cortland County Sheriff’s Office, the complaint was filed Aug. 22, and Brooks was arrested Aug. 31.” By Gina Christian, OSV News, in National Catholic Reporter

Despite substantiated claim, retired Buffalo priest won’t be charged for abusing minor in the ‘80s
“The Diocese of Buffalo’s Independent Review Board conducted an investigation into a retired priest and found the allegation he abused a minor is true. However, The Rev. Joseph Vatter will not be facing any criminal charges. Erie County District Attorney John Flynn says the alleged abuse happened back in the early 1980s. However, he says the statute of limitations in this incident was only three years, so no charges can be filed.” By Danielle Church, WGRZ-TV2 News

Maryvale district paid $8.4 million to settle child sex abuse claims from 1970s
“Cheektowaga Maryvale Union Free School District paid $8.4 million to settle five Child Victims Act lawsuits alleging sexual abuse of students in the 1970s by a music teacher. The district agreed to separate confidential settlements with the five plaintiffs over the past year, according to legal documents released to The Buffalo News in response to a Freedom of Information Law request. The largest settlement, for $3.5 million, went to a 60-year-old Lockport man identified in court papers as AB 504 Doe, who alleged being repeatedly molested by Stanley K. Bratt, a music teacher at Maryvale East Elementary School from 1968 to 1980.” By Jay Tokasz, The Buffalo News


Shun ‘culture of silence’: Kenyan Catholic nun on safeguarding in South Sudanese dioceses
“The people of God in South Sudan are being cautioned against the ‘culture of silence’ in the face of abuses against children and vulnerable adults. In an interview with ACI Africa, Sr. Jacinta Ondeng spoke about the training on safeguarding that she had been facilitating under the auspices of Solidarity with South Sudan (SSS), an initiative of the International Union of Superiors General (UISG) and the Union of Superiors General (USG), established in response to a request from the members of the Sudan Catholic Bishops’ Conference (SCBC).” By Kerbino Kuel Deng, AciAfrica.org


The Australian portion of a Vatican-ordered investigation into former Broome Bishop Christopher Saunders has been completed
“Extracts from the 200-page report prepared by the Vatican’s investigators detail how they identified 67 Aboriginal boys and men who they said may have been subjected to delictual acts or grooming behaviors by the bishop. The Vatican investigation found Bishop Saunders was a ‘predator’ who sexually assaulted four Aboriginal men and boys and groomed dozens more. The investigation under the Vatican’s Vos Estis Lux Mundi papal inquiry powers also found Bishop Saunders spent thousands of dollars of Church money each month on cash payments, mobile phones, alcohol and cigarettes for ‘vulnerable’ Aboriginal men and boys.” By Australian Catholic Bishops Conference

Roman Catholic Archbishop Tim Costelloe fronts WA parliamentary inquiry into institutional child sexual abuse
“The difficulties survivors of child sexual abuse face when attempting to pursue justice is a reality of complexities of the church, the Catholic Archbishop of Perth says. Timothy Costelloe made the statements while testifying before the Community Development and Justice Standing Committee’s inquiry into the options available to survivors of institutional child sexual abuse in Western Australia who are seeking justice.” By Briana Shepherd and Keane Bourke, ABC News Australia


Deadline looming for abuse survivors to apply for compensation from N.L. archdiocese
“Survivors of abuse at the hands of Mount Cashel’s Christian Brothers and Roman Catholic clergy in the St. John’s Archdiocese have until the end of the month to apply for compensation. And that court-imposed deadline has prompted an influx of new claimants to reach out to lawyers like Geoff Budden, who has spent the last three decades pursuing justice for abuse victims. Budden said at least two dozen people have come forward in recent months; people who say they’ve lived with trauma for decades, and never told their story — until now.” By Terry Roberts, CBC Canada


This activist is bringing the message of ‘zero tolerance’ for clergy abuse to the doorstep of the Vatican
“For Gemma Hickey, their trip to Italy this week is a mission to demand that Pope Francis sign a proposed zero tolerance law for clergy abuse. ‘Shuffling predator priests around from place to place is unacceptable,’ said Hickey, who founded the Pathways Foundation that addresses the gaps in service for individuals who have experienced abuse within religious institutions. Hickey, along with 10 other clergy abuse survivors and allies, is engaging in a pilgrimage to Rome. They will carry an eight-foot wooden cross and walk 120 kilometres from Montefiascone to Italy’s capital, finishing in St. Peter’s Square during the Pope’s noon blessing on Sept.27.” By William Ping, CBC News Canada

B.C man alleges sex abuse by military priest
“A Surrey man has filed a lawsuit against the federal Catholic military authorities and the government and the Roman Catholic Church in Calgary, alleging sexual abuse by a priest of officer rank. ‘The plaintiff is now 73 years old,’ said the B.C. Supreme Court notice of civil claim filed Sept. 7 by lawyer Sandra Kovacs on behalf of her client, known only as R.C. in the claim.” By Jeremy Hainsworth, Alaska Highway News


In Chile, justice eludes victims of Catholic clergy sex abuse years after the crisis exploded
“Soon after she learned what happened, Helmut Kramer’s mother grabbed a pair of scissors and cut the priest out of photographs from her son’s baptism. ‘She kept the photos after that,’ said Kramer, who was sexually abused at age 12 in a Jesuit school in Antofagasta, a city in northern Chile. ‘My mom is still Catholic, but she never attended Mass again. She says that she will never set foot in a church, and she does not trust the pope or any priest,’ the 53-year-old Chilean said.” By María Teresa Hernández, Associated Press, on ABCNews.go.com

Over 30 women with ties to Legion of Christ support claim by alleged victim of gang rape in Chile
“A group of 32 former Consecrated Women of Regnum Christi, lay women who dedicate their lives fully to Christ through their membership in an international Catholic federation that also includes the Legion of Christ, published an open letter on September 5 supporting a Chilean women who alleges being gang-raped by Legion of Christ priests in Santiago (Chile) between 2008 and 2010. ‘We experienced an environment where abuse of power and conscience was prevalent, and where the described sexual assaults in the lawsuit could have taken place,’ stated the signatories of the civil lawsuit filed last June.” By Antonia Laborde, El Pais International


Catholic Church investigates claims against late cardinal
“The German Dioceses of Essen and Paderborn have separately announced an investigation into sexual abuse allegations brought against Cardinal Franz Hengsbach (1910-1991) in 2011 and 2022. Hengsbach is accused of having sexually assaulted three individuals, at least two of whom were young women, one a minor, throughout his career. The first of these alleges that he abused a 16-year-old girl in 1954 while he was an auxiliary bishop in the city of Paderborn. The alleged victim originally came forth with the accusations in 2011, 10 years after Hengsbach’s death.” By Deuschte Welle


Personal injury sheriff allows proof in case detailing sexual abuse in Catholic care home in 1973
“Pursuer GD sought solatium damages for abuse she said occurred over three weeks in the summer of 1973, when she was aged 11 … Together with her three sisters and two brothers, the pursuer was a resident at the defender’s care home, Nazareth House, for three weeks in July and August of 1973. She averred that, during this time, she was sexually abused by a male priest in the shower, with the knowledge of the Sisters that looked after their group. It was further averred that the Sisters, particularly a Sister Y, had physically assaulted her, often for seemingly no reason.” By Mitchell Skilling, Scottish Legal News


Kenneally abuse one of most serious cases of pedophilia in Ireland
“The garda in charge of investigations into convicted child abuser Bill Kenneally has agreed with the chair of an inquiry into the abuse that it was one of the most serious cases of pedophilia discovered in Ireland. Chair Mr. Justice Michael White, a retired High Court judge, said the children who came into contact with Kenneally were at risk and defenseless.” By Orla O’Donnell, RTE.ie


Vatican dismisses Filipino priest for alleged child abuse
“Pope Francis has dismissed Filipino Catholic priest Pio Cultura Aclon for sexual abuse involving minors, announced the Diocese of Borongan where the priest is based. Aclon is ‘no longer a cleric and cannot exercise priestly ministry in the Church,’ Borongan diocese said in a circular on Sept. 17. ‘The laicization process of the priest underwent due process, and Aclon was given the opportunity to defend himself against the allegations of his alleged victims,’ diocesan chancellor Father James B. Abella told UCA News.” By UCSNews.com


Swiss abbot says he is target in sexual abuse investigation
“A high-ranking Catholic cleric indicated on Wednesday (Sept. 13) that he was being investigated by the Conference of Swiss Bishops in connection with allegations of sexual abuse and their cover-up. Jean Scarcella has withdrawn from his role as father-abbot of Saint-Maurice until the end of the investigation. ‘The investigation also concerns an accusation that was made against me,’ Scarcella wrote in a press release. He indicated that he took the decision to suspend his office in agreement with the Abbey Council and the President of the Conference of Swiss Bishops (CES) to guarantee the independence of the investigation.” By SwissInfo.ch


French missionary priests suspected of child sexual assault in Thailand
“According to France 24 news agency, two members of the Paris-based Foreign Mission Society of Paris, a part of the Catholic Church’s mission, were involved in sexual abuse against former students at a boarding school in Thailand. One of these two missionaries has passed away, and the other, whose name is not mentioned in the report, continues to serve within the Foreign Mission Society of Paris. This report marks the fourth case of sexual abuse by Christian missionaries in the past two months, raising concerns about the safety of children in religious institutions.” By Fidel Rahmati, The Khaama Press News Agency