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December 31, 2019

Denver Archdiocese announces Clergy Misconduct Advisory Committee

Colorado Politics

Dec. 31, 2019

By Michael Karlik

The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Denver has announced a new panel to investigate allegations of clergy misconduct that do not involve the sexual abuse of a child.

“I have noticed there has been a heightened call for greater transparency in the Church, especially as historical sins that have long been hidden in the shadows have recently been brought into the light,” wrote vicar for clergy Father R. Michael Dollins in the Denver Catholic. “Where is the line between being a trusted person who must keep something confidential, and a person who is involved in a cover-up?”

The Clergy Misconduct Advisory Committee will comprise senior priests, mental health professionals, those with law enforcement backgrounds, and finance specialists. All members will be Catholics

The panel will advise Archbishop Samuel J. Aquila after investigating the alleged misconduct. Dollins cited financial transgressions, addiction or inappropriate relationships as examples of matters in the CMAC’s jurisdiction.

U.S. Capitol to Fly a Flag Honoring Survivors of Sexual Violence

Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests

Dec. 31, 2019

The U.S. Capitol will ring in the new year by flying a flag in honor of survivors of childhood sexual abuse. We are grateful for this display of support and are hopeful that legislators will follow it up by taking up legislation in 2020 that will protect children and prevent future cases of abuse.

On January 1, the U.S. Capitol will fly a flag “in honor of survivors and victims of childhood sex abuse” thanks to a request made by Senator John Cornyn III. This show of solidarity and support for survivors of sexual violence is a powerful gesture by Senator Cornyn and we are grateful to him and his office for this show of support. We hope that that legislators around the country will follow in Senator Cornyn’s footsteps and take steps to promote the protection of children and support of survivors by taking up needed reforms during this upcoming year.

At a national level, legislators can follow up this display with action by holding hearings on cases of institutional sexual abuse, using their power as national leaders to demand answers from institutional leaders about cases of sexual abuse and cover-ups that have taken place in churches, universities, and youth groups nationwide. Such hearings can draw the public’s attention to these cases, channel public outrage in action and force institutions to do better.

Should Old Acquaintances be Forgot – Ten Years On

Patheos blog

Dec. 31, 2019

By Suzanne Titkemeyer

It’s been eight years, folks, eight years that I have been adminning No Longer Quivering, and about ten years since I found NLQ and started writing. Which got me to thinking. In the last ten years the Quiverfull world has changed a lot. So going into the year of 2020 let’s recap what’s happened with the more well known promoters of Quiverfull.

There’s been a great deal of change in not just evangelicalism and various types of Christianity, but most especially in Quiverfull. Once it was a more secretive off shoot of evangelicalism. In many ways it was more acceptable to be outed as Quiverfull ten years ago because it was thought to be a sweet old-fashioned expression of faith leaning towards the fundamentalist side.

Now it is more widely known ten years later because of the very public scandals of some of the more prominent practitioners. What they believe is now more widely understood, for both good and bad. This exposure has both harmed and helped the movement, mostly harmed. The Duggars are the main proponents to spread Quiverfull even as they disavow the name.

Let’s look at what’s happened in ten years with the leaders. Some of these are mere highlights, not in depth critiques.

Bill Gothard – Institute in Basic Life Principals
--Allegations of sexual abuse of teenage girls
--Lawsuits alleging abuse
--Removal as head of IBLP
--Exposure in the media of theology and lack of accountability

He Ruined That Man’: Colorado’s Catholic Church Reparations Exclude Victims Of Religious Order Abuse

Colorado Public Radio

Dec. 31, 2019

By Andrew Kenney

Jacque and Terry Schippers with their daughter in a photo from the family scrapbook.

Pat Wilcox’s younger brother arrived at her Greeley home with rain-drenched, moldy clothing and a dilapidated pickup truck. She welcomed him that day in 2015, thinking she could help the man she knew as “Shug.”

But the next few months would bewilder her.

How had her charming, successful brother gotten so lost in middle age? One evening, after she found him drinking again, the siblings sat down to talk.

“I know how you were raised,” she told him. “I know the people you were around, and how you were loved. You are on such a self-destructive path. Something is wrong.”

Then she asked the question that surprised them both: “Were you sexually abused?”

“As a matter of fact, I was,” Terry Schippers responded. Then he crumpled.

Soon afterward, Schippers joined more than 160 other Coloradans who alleged they were sexually abused by Catholic priests. Yet this reckoning has offered little resolution, legally or emotionally, for Shug Schippers. Three years later, he’s stuck in a strange stalemate with the church and with himself.

Attorney: Charlotte Diocese List Not Complete

WFAE Radio

Dec. 31, 2019

By Lisa Worf

On Monday, the Charlotte Diocese release a list of 14 clergy credibly accused of sexually abusing children. It also released names of people who worked in the Charlotte Diocese but were credibly accused elsewhere, and names of clergy accused of sexual abuse when the region was covered by the Raleigh Diocese.

But, the list is not complete in the view of Seth Langson. He’s a Charlotte attorney who has represented victims in lawsuits against the Charlotte Diocese. Some of his clients sued priests who were on the list released yesterday. He joins us now.

Lisa Worf: Why do you believe the list is incomplete?

Seth Langson: Well, I know from my own personal investigation of one more names that should be on that list that aren't on the list. That has nothing to do with what documents, confidential documents, are seen by the Diocese. I just know there was at least one other person that wasn't on the list.

Worf: And so how many names are we talking about, in your estimation?

Langson: I'm not certain. Terry McKiernan of Bishop Accountability, I think was quoted yesterday saying that even six or nine names that should have been on the list.

Worf: Have you spoken to any clients about the list that was released? And if so, what what do they have to say about it?

New California law brings new lawsuits against Sonoma church

Index Tribune

Dec. 30, 2019

By Anne Ward Ernst

Three separate childhood sex assault lawsuits filed last week against the Catholic Church by four men and two women include naming a former priest at St. Francis Solano Catholic Church in Sonoma as an abuser.

Now adults, all the accusers were children when they allege they were molested by priests. All but one accuser is choosing to remain anonymous. The one named accuser, Stan Sloan, alleges abuse in Napa County, where he lived.

A new California law signed by Gov. Gavin Newsom in October which goes into effect Jan. 1 extends the statute of limitations for when a claim can be filed. Assembly Bill 218 gives adult survivors who realize they have suffered psychological injury or illness five years to sue from the time they discover their abuse, or the age of 40, whichever is later. The current law requires survivors to file suit by the age of 26, or within three years of recognizing their suffering caused by childhood sexual assault.

Fifteen states have expanded their “lookback” windows over the last couple of years. Sacramento attorney Joseph George, who filed the three new lawsuits and has represented several adults in similar cases, said churches may think they’ve already gone through the bulk of lawsuits against clergy starting in the 1980s.

“I think this will open up even more,” he said.

Santa Rosa Diocese hit by flurry of clergy abuse lawsuits under new state law

Press Democrat

Dec. 30, 2019

By Mary Callahan

The Santa Rosa Diocese of the Roman Catholic Church is facing a fresh onslaught of lawsuits for its alleged role in enabling and, in some cases, concealing child sex abuse as far back as the 1960s involving four former North Coast priests — three of them now deceased.

The five lawsuits announced Monday by two law firms specializing in childhood abuse are among the first of what are expected to be hundreds, if not thousands, of cases filed throughout California under a new state law allowing survivors of childhood sexual assault to recover damages long after incidents of alleged sexual misconduct occurred. Although many of the suits are likely to involve the Catholic Church, the law applies to any childhood survivor.

The priests involved in the newly filed cases are all well-known among the ranks of local clergy accused of using their position of trust and spiritual authority to exploit children.

They include the late Rev. Patrick M. Gleeson and defrocked priests Gary Timmons, Xavier Ochoa and Don Kimball. All have been the subjects of past legal settlements between civil plaintiffs and the diocese, as well as in most cases criminal investigations. Only Timmons, who served four years in state prison for molesting youngsters, is still living. Now 79, he resides in Sacramento and has to report in each year as a registered sex offender.

But Timmons is not a named defendant in the cases involving him, both filed Monday in Sonoma County Superior Court.

Instead, the lawsuits target the Santa Rosa Diocese and Camp St. Michael, where much of his alleged abuse occurred. Both institutions could be subject to substantial financial penalties under the new legislation, which takes effect Wednesday, if the plaintiffs show sufficient proof.

“These cases are not so much about Timmons, but about the system and the reckless choices that the Catholic bishops of Santa Rosa have made over the years to protect their reputation over the safety of children,” said Minnesota-based attorney Jeff Anderson, whose law firm is representing the plaintiffs in the two cases involving Timmons.

Year in Review: Catholic Church unveils accusations

Rutland Herald

Dec. 31, 2019

By Gordon Dritschilo

The Diocese of Burlington finally named names.

The diocese released a report in August listing 39 Catholic priests it said had been credibly accused of sexual abuse during their time in Vermont, and one who served in Vermont and was credibly accused elsewhere. Twenty of them spent at least some time in Rutland County parishes. Six served at Christ the King over a span of 26 years.

The report was assembled by an independent committee that reviewed the files of 52 priests who had been subject to accusations. Almost all of the accusations dated back at least 20 years. The majority of the accused priests were deceased and none were active. Many had been moved from parish to parish over a long period before they were either removed from positions of authority or retired.

Reactions demonstrated that what was know in the church had been kept from the community.

“Most of the names of that list were not surprises to us,” said the Rev. Bernard Bourgeois, pastor of Christ the King. While they may not have been surprises to Bourgeois, many of the names came as a surprise to Rutland Catholics. In other cases, members of area parishes said they heard rumors or had bad feelings about particular priests, but never knew anything for sure.

Only one victim in Rutland County has come forward publicly, describing abuse at the hands of the Rev. Edward Paquette as well as the long-lasting psychological impacts of that abuse.

Newsmaker of the decade: Survivors of sexual abuse – brave, loud and saving others

Patriot News

Dec. 31, 2019

By Janet Pickel

They’re the survivors.

More than anyone else, victims of sexual abuse have changed the world over the last decade.

When a teenaged Aaron Fisher told adults that he was being sexually abused by a well-respected well-known man, he wasn’t consistently believed.

That man, retired Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky, was convicted in 2012 of 45 counts of sexually abusing boys he’d met through a children’s charity he’d started. Penn State has paid out more than $110 million to Sandusky’s victims.

An 18-month grand jury investigation of six of Pennsylvania’s Roman Catholic dioceses uncovered decades-long abuse of children by more than 300 clergy members. Similar investigations are taking place in at least 20 other states. The Harrisburg Diocese alone has paid out $12 million to 106 victims since that report was released.

Women have been accusing actor-comedian Bill Cosby of drugging and sexually abusing them for decades. They’d been called gold diggers or told they misunderstood romantic situations. Cosby, accused by 60 women, was convicted in 2018 of sexually assaulting one.

Pennsylvania state Rep. Nick Miccarelli decided not to run for re-election months after allegations surfaced that he’d sexually and physically assaulted two women. One of them was a fellow lawmaker, Rep. Tarah Toohil, his ex-girlfriend, who detailed her accusations publicly. Miccarelli denied all the accusations and was not charged.

A woman says state Sen. Daylin Leach forced her into oral sex with him in 1991, and she wasn’t the first woman to accuse him of misconduct. Leach denies he’s acted inappropriately, and he has sued both an accuser and a newspaper.

December 30, 2019

Lawsuit: Famed Jesuit Priest With Connections to Mother Teresa Abused Boy ‘More than 1,000 Times’

Associated Press

Dec. 30, 2019

One day in May of 1970, an 11-year-old boy and his disabled sister were sitting on the curb outside a Chicago tavern, waiting for their mother to come out. When a priest with crinkly eyes and a ready smile happened by and offered the family a ride home, they could not have been happier.

The boy, Robert J. Goldberg, now 61, would pay dearly for the favor, enduring what he describes as years of psychological control and sexual abuse he suffered while working as a child valet for the late Rev. Donald J. McGuire. He remained in the Jesuit’s thrall for nearly 40 years, even volunteering to testify on McGuire’s behalf during criminal trials that ultimately resulted in a 25-year prison sentence for the priest.

But today, Goldberg says he has finally broken the hold McGuire once had on him. And he has begun to tell his story, in interviews with The Associated Press and in a lawsuit he filed Monday in California state court in San Francisco.

The lawsuit charges that McGuire, a globe-trotting Jesuit with ties to Saint Teresa of Calcutta, abused Goldberg “more than 1,000 times, in multiple states and countries,” during sojourns to spiritual retreats throughout the United States and Europe.

On these trips, the lawsuit says, McGuire referred to Goldberg as his “protégé.” All the while, the suit says, the boy carried his briefcase, ran errands and often endured daily abuse that included “sexual touching, oral copulation and anal penetration.”



Dec. 30, 2019

Attorneys suing the Diocese of San Bernardino on behalf of a man who claims he was sexually abused as a child by a priest in Hemet alleged Monday that the clergyman was one of dozens permitted to have a free hand with children for decades.

During a news briefing in Riverside, attorney Mike Reck said the civil action filed in San Bernardino County Superior Court is one of multiple lawsuits submitted statewide under the auspices of a law that takes effect Wednesday — Assembly Bill 218, known as the “California Child Victims Act.”

“The law catapults California to the forefront of child protection,” Reck said. “It addresses the cover-up of child sexual assault and provides that not only the abuser can be sued, but those who covered it up can be sued. It directs a change in behavior of institutions, liked this (San Bernardino) Diocese, which time and time again placed their reputation and secrecy over the safety of children.”

Requests for comment from the diocese were not immediately answered.

AB 218 opens a three-year window in which abuse victims can take civil action against religious and other institutions where children were allegedly molested, and the offenses concealed. If a jury finds that an institution conspired to shield abusers and hide crimes, the damage awards can be tripled, under the new law.

“This is to deter behavior and make institutions charged with the care of children change and do the right thing,” Reck said. “They do not always do the right thing (until) brave survivors call them out on the decisions they’ve made.”

Charlotte Diocese takes an important step - but faces a new threat - on clergy abuse

The Observer

Dec. 30, 2019

Monday’s release of a list of clergy credibly accused of child sexual abuse marked an important milestone for The Catholic Diocese of Charlotte and its members. For the diocese, the list is an opportunity to take a fuller accountability for its troubled past. For victims and other faithful, the list is a long-overdue validation of pain that the church both hid and enabled decades ago.

The list comprises 14 clergy credibly accused of child sexual abuse in Charlotte and western North Carolina since the diocese was established in 1972. In addition, the diocese published information about credibly accused clergy prior to 1972, when the Diocese of Raleigh oversaw the Catholic Church across the state. The Charlotte diocese also identified clergy who served here without apparent incident but were on lists published by other dioceses and religious orders.

“First and foremost, this promotes healing among those who were hurt,” said Rev. Patrick J. Winslow, the vicar general and chancellor of the diocese who oversaw the examination of clergy records. “We have a great deal of hope moving forward for our faithful.”

Pennsylvania's Stories of the Decade: Child protection failings dominated

CNHI News Service

Dec. 29, 2019

By John Finnerty

The state’s struggle to confront and combat abuse and neglect of children struck at the heart of three of the biggest stories of the past decade in Pennsylvania.

That includes revelations of child sexual abuse by former Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky, as well as abuse by Catholic priests across the state. Advocates for children have noted that the opioid epidemic that has claimed thousands of lives through overdoses has also wrought havoc on families and contributed to neglect and abuse of children.

While the state has responded to the scandals in a variety of ways, it’s clear that a solution that makes a far-reaching impact on efforts to help children remains elusive, said Cathleen Palm, founder of the Center for Children’s Justice, a Berks County-based advocacy group focusing on efforts to better protect children.

Palm said public outrage over the crimes of Sandusky and the hundreds of predator priests identified in grand jury investigations has translated into improved awareness about the harm caused by sexual abuse of children.

But that hasn’t necessarily translated into attention and action to help children harmed in other ways, including other forms of physical abuse and neglect.

Diocese of Charlotte Releases Incomplete List of those Accused of Abuse

Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests

Dec. 29, 2019

Catholic officials in Charlotte, NC have finally followed in the footsteps of the vast majority of dioceses around the country and released a list of priests accused of abuse. Unfortunately, the list released today is incomplete and leaves off allegations related to other church staffers. We call on them to update this list immediately in order to provide a clearer and more complete look at abuse within the Diocese of Charlotte.

Here are four examples, easily found online, of abusers within the Diocese of Charlotte who were not listed:

Paul L. Berrell, Music Minister -- Berrell was convicted of producing child pornography while working as the music minister at St. Eugene Catholic Church in Asheville. Berrell’s victim was a student at Asheville Catholic School. Notably, the pastor at Berrell’s church, John Schneider, pleaded guilty to obstruction of justice for going to Berrell’s home after he had been arrested and deleting evidence from Berell’s computer.

Deacon Mark Doherty -- Deacon Doherty was denied ordination to the priesthood in Boston after two boys came forward to allege that he had molested them when they were 13. Despite being informed of these allegations by Cardinal Bernard Law, the deacon was hired as a teacher at Charlotte Catholic High School by Bishop William Curlin. Deacon Doherty was supervised by Monsignor Mauricio West, who himself has recently been accused of sexual misconduct.

Letter to Illinois AG Regarding Lack of Updates on Clergy Abuse Investigation

Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests

Dec. 29, 2019

Dear Attorney General Raoul,

We are leaders of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests and the Archangel Foundation. We are writing to you to ask for an update on the progress of the investigation into cases of clerical sexual abuse in Illinois started by your predecessor, Lisa Madigan and that you and your team have continued.

Last Thursday marked one full year since the preliminary report was released by A.G. Madigan and her team. Through that report we learned that Catholic officials in Illinois had received allegations of abuse by 690 priests yet had made public only 185 of those complaints. Additionally, according to that report, the six dioceses in Illinois ignored or minimized nearly ¾ of all reports made to internal reporting systems.

Since that report was released, we have seen several things happen in Illinois:

--Diocesan officials in Chicago assigned Fr. Michael O’Connell, a priest who has twice been accused during his career of abusing children, to a position at St. Bartholomew’s School;
--As many as 1,000 allegations of sexual abuse committed by clergyand reported to DCFS were never investigated;
--Religious order officials moved Fr. John McCloskey, a pastor against whom they had already settled an abuse complaint and had promised to keep out of ministry, to a new church in Illinois while telling the community that he was “a priest of good character and reputation” and “in good standing”; and
--Parishioners in Niles, IL learned that a previous pastor had been found “credibly accused” of abuse, but only because of the outreach done by church officials in Minnesota, not in Illinois.

The SBC Has a Sex-Abuse Problem

Wall Street Journal

Dec. 26, 2019

By Nicole Ault

Before Rachael Denhollander became a victim of USA Gymnastics physician Larry Nassar, she says she was sexually abused by a college student at her nondenominational church when she was 7. Some parishioners protected her, she says, but others thought her family had falsely accused the man.

She told a crowd of Southern Baptists at an October conference that she had “internalized” the message that “if you cannot prove your abuse, do not speak up.” The Southern Baptist Convention, the nation’s largest Protestant denomination, with some 15 million members and 47,000 churches—is reckoning with mistreatment of sexual-abuse victims in its ranks.

A six-part Houston Chronicle and San Antonio Express-News report found more than 250 SBC officials and volunteers who were convicted of sex-abuse crimes over the past 20 years, and some 700 victims. It also revealed cases in which church members and leaders scorned victims and masked accusations of misconduct against popular pastors.

In a report published this summer by the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, the SBC’s public-policy arm, a woman recalls a pastor implying that she had brought her youth minister’s abuse on herself. Another woman said she was anally raped on campus at a Southern Baptist college, then told by a male administrator that she hadn’t really been raped because it wasn’t vaginal penetration. Paige Patterson was fired last year as president of an SBC seminary because, among other reasons, he said in an email that he’d try to “break . . . down” a woman who accused a student at the college of rape. The SBC has failed “to take disclosure seriously and to believe the survivor,” the commission’s report says.

The commission devoted its October conference to the topic of sexual abuse and promotes a “Caring Well” curriculum to train its congregations to identify and address abuse. But awareness won’t suffice. “The solution to this is a cultural shift,” Russell Moore, the commission’s president, says. That includes “vigilance,” educating church members and a new attitude toward survivors: “We want to listen and to care for you. Shaming or blaming of survivors is itself a predatory act.”

The cultural problem raises questions about the SBC’s practices and structure. The denomination ordains only men as pastors. It also leaves member churches fairly autonomous, with little top-down regulation and an emphasis on local responsibility. Southern Baptist leaders sometimes “try to hide behind” that structure, claiming that they can encourage but not mandate certain behavior for local churches, says Boz Tchividjian, a lawyer and former sex-crimes prosecutor. That’s legally “very beneficial” to the SBC.

Changes are in the works. Women can already hold nonordained leadership positions in SBC churches, and Mr. Moore acknowledges “we need to hear more from women” in these capacities. The SBC approved an amendment this summer (which must pass again in 2020) providing that churches found to be “indifferent” toward sexual abuse may be removed from fellowship with the denomination. It also established a committee to apply greater scrutiny to disputes between churches and the national body. The committee recently set up an online portal where congregants can submit concerns.

Asheville, WNC priests named in Charlotte diocese list of clergy credibly accused of abuse

Asheville Citizen Times

Dec. 30, 2019

By Joel Burgess

The Catholic Charlotte Diocese has released a list of clergy it says were "credibly accused" of child sexual abuse.

The list "aims to promote healing for victims and demonstrate commitment to transparency," the diocese said in a Dec. 30 press release accompanying the list.

Church officials deemed a total of 14 clergy credibly accused in the diocese, which includes parishes from Guilford and Richmond counties all the way to the western tip of the state.

None of the named clergy are still in the religious order, according to the church, which said no priest serving today has a credible allegation against him. Some listed are dead, while others left, were removed or were convicted.

A support group for sexual abuse victims criticized the list, saying it was incomplete and didn't include church staff members with allegations against them. Those include Paul L. Berrell, former music minister at St. Eugene Catholic Church in Asheville, said SNAP, Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests.

"We call on them to update this list immediately in order to provide a clearer and more complete look at abuse within the Diocese of Charlotte," the statement said.

For US Church, a year of abuse fallout, new leaders, and unsung heroes


Dec. 30, 2019

By Christopher White

Aftershocks of 2018’s reemergence of the abuse scandals continued to plague the U.S. Catholic Church throughout the past year, as leaders tried to turn a corner on one of the bleakest periods in modern American Church history while also acknowledging the pain and suffering caused by the Church’s failings.

While calls for greater responsibility, accountability, and transparency were echoed across the global Church, in the United States they were felt in a particular way with the downfall of several high-profile church leaders.

At the same time, 2019 brought new leadership reflecting the rapidly shifting face of U.S. Catholicism, and also reminders that while, at an institutional level the Church may continue to reel, in the trenches the Church’s everyday work continues - often by those who rarely see, or seek, the spotlight.

Australian Jews decry Israeli health minister's appointment

Associated Press

December 30, 2019

Australia's Jewish community has slammed an Israeli government decision to promote to the post of health minister a legislator who is suspected of aiding an alleged sexual abuser wanted in Australia.

The Israeli government on Sunday appointed Yaacov Litzman as health minister, sparking a litany of condemnations from Australia's staunchly pro-Israel Jewish community.

In an open letter to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Jeremy Leibler, the president of the Zionist Federation of Australia, called the decision "a slap in the face to the Australian Jewish community, the Australian people," as well as to the survivors of the alleged abuse.

In a tweet Sunday, the Australia Israel & Jewish Affairs Council, another pro-Israel body, called the move “a deplorable decision and insulting to Australia and all those many Australians justifiably expecting the prompt extradition of Malka Leifer,” the alleged abuser.

Leifer is wanted in Australia on 74 charges of sexual assault during her time as a teacher and principal of an ultra-Orthodox religious school in Melbourne. She returned to her home in Israel in 2008 as allegations surfaced, was arrested in 2014 and has since faced a protracted extradition process that critics have deemed a farce.

Hundreds of accused clergy left off church’s sex abuse lists

Associated Press via RochesterFirst.com

December 29, 2019

Richard J. Poster served time for possessing child pornography, violated his probation by having contact with children, admitted to masturbating in the bushes near a church school and in 2005 was put on a sex offender registry. And yet the former Catholic priest was only just this month added to a list of clergy members credibly accused of child sexual abuse — after The Associated Press asked why he was not included.

Victims advocates had long criticized the Roman Catholic Church for not making public the names of credibly accused priests. Now, despite the dioceses’ release of nearly 5,300 names, most in the last two years, critics say the lists are far from complete.

An AP analysis found more than 900 clergy members accused of child sexual abuse who were missing from lists released by the dioceses and religious orders where they served.

Disgraced bishop spent $4.6 million on mansion that sold for only $1.2 million

Washington Post

December 29, 2019

By Aaron C. Davis

After Bishop Michael J. Bransfield was banished from his post as head of the Catholic Church in West Virginia, the church-owned residence he had lived in was put up for sale. It was a historic 9,200-square-foot Colonial Revival-style house with five bay windows that was once known as Elmcrest. Bransfield had spent $4.6 million to restore it to his exacting taste.

The diocese did not hire a real estate agent, advertise the property’s sale online or hold an open house. Instead, as allegations of sexual and financial misconduct against Bransfield spilled into public view in June, the church sold the property to a wealthy Wheeling, W.Va., resident for $1.2 million.

Church officials said the private sale was a way to avoid paying commission to real estate agents, but it also had the effect of keeping the public from taking the full measure of Bransfield’s extravagance and excess.

More than just an opulent private retreat for a high-spending bishop, Elmcrest was the site where the heavy-drinking cleric quaffed Cointreau and made unwanted sexual overtures toward younger priests in a basement with a custom-made sunken bar, according to a confidential report by church investigators for the Vatican completed earlier this year. The Washington Post obtained a copy of the report and published a redacted version online on Dec. 23.

In his 13 years as bishop, Bransfield spent more than $2.4 million traveling the world, often by private jet, and gave fellow clerics hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash gifts that originated from the diocese’s accounts, church documents show. Nowhere did he spend more church money than on the turn-of-the-century mansion at 52 Elmwood Place in Wheeling, according to investigators.

What started as a modest renovation before Bransfield’s arrival in 2005 soon sprawled, at his insistence, into a costly undertaking, according to the construction manager, architect and four others involved in the project. By the time it was finished, the residence would feature a $20,000 dining room table, a master bath with a heated floor and a climate-controlled wine cellar that could store hundreds of bottles, they said.

“It was always, ‘this’ or ‘that’ is what the bishop wants,” said Jim Baller, who served as the construction manager during most of the renovation.

Baller said Bransfield wanted trees planted to create a buffer between the house and nearby Interstate­ 70. He also wanted parts of the seven acres surrounding the home landscaped and large areas covered with sod, Baller said. A fish pond and waterfall were built as the centerpiece of the grounds.

Diocese of Charlotte releases full list of clergy credibly accused of child sex abuse


Dec. 30, 2019

The Diocese of Charlotte released a list of clergy members credibly accused of child sex abuse since the diocese was established in 1972.

Dioceses nationwide started revealing the names of church leaders accused of abuse, but the Diocese of Charlotte had not yet released a full list of all priests with credible allegations until Monday.

Channel 9 has been pushing for it to be released for months.

The list revealed 14 clergy credibly accused of sexual abuse of a minor since 1972. You can read the full list by clicking here.

The diocese said the list contains details about each Charlotte Diocese clergy and the allegations against them. It also includes information about six accused clergy members who served in western North Carolina before the Charlotte Diocese was established.

The list also reveals information on 23 clergy members who served in the Charlotte Diocese but were accused of sexual abuse elsewhere by other dioceses and religious orders.

Abuse crisis continued to demand US bishops' attention, action in 2019

Catholic News Service

Dec 30, 2019

The clergy sexual abuse crisis continued to command a large amount of attention and action from the U.S. bishops throughout 2019.

The year was headlined by actions during the bishops' spring general assembly, during which they approved a plan to implement Pope Francis' motu proprio on addressing abuse.

The pope issued his document, Vos Estis Lux Mundi ("You are the light of the world"), in May to help the Catholic Church safeguard its members from abuse and hold its leaders accountable.

The motu proprio was one of the measures that came out of a February Vatican summit on clergy sexual abuse attended by the presidents of the world's bishops' conferences.

The U.S. bishops' implementation plan passed 281-1 with two abstentions.

Vos Estis Lux Mundi established procedures for reporting allegations of sexual abuse of minors or of vulnerable person by clerics, including bishops, or members of religious orders. The document also holds church leaders accountable for actions or omissions relating to the handling of abuse reports.

In line with the plan, the bishops in June approved a third-party reporting system to field sexual misconduct allegations against bishops. Such a system could be in place by the end of February, Anthony Picarello, associate general secretary of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, reported during the bishops' fall general assembly in November.

Former Priest In MD Left Off Sex Abuse List; DC, Baltimore Lists


Dec. 28, 2019

By Deb Belt

A former Catholic priest has been on the Maryland sex offender registry since 2005 after serving time in prison for possession of child pornography and then violating the terms of his probation by having contact with children. But Richard J. Poster, 54, who lives in Silver Spring, was not on a church list of priests credibly accused of sexual abuse until this month.

Poster, who admitted masturbating in the bushes near a church school, was only added to a list of clergy members credibly accused of child sexual abuse after The Associated Press asked why he was not included, according to an investigation by the news service. Despite the church's release of nearly 5,300 names in recent years, victim advocates say the lists are incomplete.

An AP analysis found more than 900 clergy members nationwide accused of child sexual abuse who were missing from lists. The AP reached that number by matching the public diocesan lists against a database of accused priests tracked by the group BishopAccountability.org and then scouring bankruptcy documents, lawsuits, settlement information, grand jury reports and media accounts.

More than a hundred of the former clergy members not listed by dioceses or religious orders had been charged with sexual crimes, including rape, solicitation and receiving or viewing child pornography. Church officials say that without an admission of guilt, they have to weigh releasing a name against harming the reputation of priests who may have been falsely accused and facing lawsuits from those who maintain their innocence.

December 29, 2019

Catholics 'can't stop fighting' to have their voices heard by church hierarchy


Dec. 30, 2019

By Craig Cheatham

Catholic laity 'reformers' discuss their plans to change the Archdiocese of Cincinnati
Gerry Ahrens fought back tears as he described his frustration with the Archdiocese of Cincinnati .

"We're just a voice crying in the wilderness," said the retired Catholic school teacher. He is also a survivor of sexual abuse at the hands of a Jesuit priest.

"They're not listening," Ahrens said. "They don't hear us."

Catholic laity in the Tri-State and across the country are determined to be heard by the church hierarchy.

In December, two local groups - Beyond the Scandal and Concerned Catholics of Cincinnati - discussed their progress and plans for reforming the church.

Their organized effort is part of a growing national movement dedicated to increasing the influence of non-clergy in dioceses across the country.

"The person in the pews has to wake up and realize that we have a rightful role that we must play in the church," said Jan Seidel, a longtime Catholic lay leader who hosted the December meeting at the home she shares with her husband, Bruce.

The need for a deeper and more direct role for an increasingly disillusioned laity has also been a focus for the National Review Board created in 2002 by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops to collaborate with the USCCB in preventing the sexual abuse of children.

In a Nov. 13, 2018 special report to the Body of Bishops, NRB Chair Francesco Cesareo told bishops "the faithful and the clergy do not trust many of you."

Year in review: Vermont’s Catholic Church finds atonement a slow go

VT Digger

Dec. 29 2019

By Kevin O'Connor

Vermont Catholic Bishop Christopher Coyne had hoped 2019 would be the year the church’s history of priest misconduct would stop making headlines.

Coyne, the former spokesman for the Archdiocese of Boston in the aftermath of the 2002 scandal dramatized in the Oscar-winning “Spotlight,” seemed to have shed the past when he became head of the Green Mountain State’s largest religious denomination in 2015.

That changed a year and a half ago when BuzzFeed posted a story about the “unrelenting physical and psychological abuse of captive children” at the Vermont diocese’s long-shuttered St. Joseph’s Orphanage, which operated in Burlington from 1854 to 1974.

The local press already had reported most of the facts in the 1990s, while authorities have yet to confirm BuzzFeed’s most shocking claim — that a nun supposedly threw a boy out a window to his death three-quarters of a century ago. But that didn’t stop the story from sparking calls for investigation.

Coyne shocked those accustomed to decades of church stonewalling by scheduling a press conference a day before another set by police and prosecutors. There he pledged to work with authorities before going on to release accusers from past nondisclosure agreements and form a lay committee to review clergy misconduct files and publicly release the names of offenders.

Ousted cardinal McCarrick gave more than $600,000 to fellow clerics, including two popes, records show

Washington Post

December 26, 2019

By Shawn Boburg, Robert O'Harrow Jr. and Chico Harlan

Former cardinal Theodore McCarrick gave hundreds of thousands of dollars in church money to powerful Catholic clerics over nearly two decades, according to financial records obtained by The Washington Post, while the Vatican failed to act on claims he had sexually harassed young men.

Starting in 2001, McCarrick sent checks totaling more than $600,000 to clerics in Rome and elsewhere, including Vatican bureaucrats, papal advisers and two popes, according to church ledgers and former church officials.

Several of the more than 100 recipients were directly involved in assessing misconduct claims against McCarrick, documents and interviews show. It was not until 2018 that McCarrick was removed from public ministry amid allegations of misconduct decades earlier with a 16-year-old altar boy, and this year he became the first cardinal known to be defrocked for sexual abuse.

The checks were drawn from a little-known account at the Archdiocese of Washington, where McCarrick began serving as archbishop in 2001. The “Archbishop’s Special Fund” enabled him to raise money from wealthy Catholic donors and to spend it as he chose, with little oversight, according to the former officials.

McCarrick sent Pope John Paul II $90,000 from 2001 to 2005. Pope Benedict XVI received $291,000, most of it a single check for $250,000 in May 2005, a month after he was elevated to succeed the late John Paul.

Representatives of the former popes declined to comment or said they had no information about those specific checks. A former personal secretary to John Paul said donations to the pope were forwarded to the secretary of state, the second most powerful post at the Vatican. Experts cautioned that such gifts may also have been directed to papal charities.

A Vatican spokesman declined to comment. In statements, Vatican clerics who received checks described them as customary gifts among Catholic leaders during the Christmas season or as a gesture of appreciation for their service. They said the gifts from McCarrick were directed to charity or used for other proper purposes.

The gifts “never had any effect on the Cardinal’s decision-making as an official of the Holy See,” said a spokesman for Cardinal Leonardo Sandri, a high-ranking cleric who received $6,500 from McCarrick in the 2000s, the ledgers show.

The checks from McCarrick’s fund add a new dimension to a scandal over how he rose to the highest levels of the U.S. Catholic Church and remained there despite complaints of misconduct that reached the Vatican as early as 2000. A Post investigation earlier this year found that another cleric, a McCarrick ally who was a bishop in West Virginia, also gave cash gifts to influential clergy in the United States and at the Vatican while facing allegations of sexual misconduct and financial abuses.

McCarrick, a legendary fundraiser for the church, was defrocked in February after Vatican officials found him guilty of two charges: soliciting sex during confession and committing “sins” with minors and adults “with the aggravating factor of the abuse of power.”

The Vatican plans to release a report about its handling of the allegations against McCarrick in the coming months, church officials have said. The financial records from the Archbishop’s Special Fund are among the documents church officials in Washington sent to Rome for that examination, according to one former archdiocese official. The former officials spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the matter.

An attorney for McCarrick did not respond to requests for comment for this story. In his only public statements about the misconduct allegations, McCarrick recently told a reporter, “I do not believe that I did the things that they accuse me of.”

In a statement to The Post, the Archdiocese of Washington said McCarrick had sole control of the tax-exempt fund.

“The funds in the account came from donations sent personally to Mr. McCarrick to direct in his sole discretion,” the archdiocese said. “During his tenure in Washington, Mr. McCarrick made contributions to many charitable and religious organizations and members of leadership in the Church.”

Cardinal: McCarrick defrocking represents a 'sad' 'shameful' moment in time

The ledgers obtained by The Post show names of beneficiaries, check numbers, amounts and dates of disbursement. The ledgers also contain the names of donors for the years 2010 to 2016.

McCarrick’s fund took in more than $6 million over 17 years. Among the biggest contributors was Maryanne Trump Barry, the sister of President Trump and a former federal appellate judge. She gave him at least $450,000 over four years, the records show. She declined to comment.

McCarrick directed millions of dollars from the fund to Catholic charities in the United States and in Rome, as well as organizations in countries stricken by poverty and conflict, the ledgers show.

Yet nearly 200 checks were sent to fellow clerics, including more than 60 archbishops and cardinals.

The leader of a foundation that made substantial contributions to McCarrick’s fund said he was surprised to learn that checks went to clerics. Tom Riley, president of the Connelly Foundation, based outside Philadelphia, said in a statement that his group’s contributions were meant to help “the poor, the needy, refugees, and the mission of the Catholic Church.”

“Everything about the current situation is a source of terrible sadness for us,” he said.

McCarrick, 89, became one of the most recognizable church figures in America during a career spanning a half-century. He traveled the world for the Vatican and became the U.S. Catholic Church’s de facto spokesman nearly two decades ago as it reeled from a sex-abuse crisis that began in Boston. In Washington, he presided over funerals of the city’s political elite, including Edward M. Kennedy, the Democratic senator from Massachusetts, and hosted dinners for President George W. Bush and other dignitaries.

Behind the scenes, McCarrick’s alleged conduct so alarmed some of his fellow clerics that they reported it to superiors, according to documents that have been posted online in recent years and interviews with some of those involved.

One of those who came forward was the Rev. Boniface Ramsey, a teacher in the late 1980s and early 1990s at the Immaculate Conception Seminary in the Archdiocese of Newark. McCarrick was leader of the archdiocese for more than a decade.

Ramsey said publicly last year that he called the Vatican’s U.S. diplomat, known as the apostolic nuncio, in 2000 to sound the alarm when McCarrick was announced as the next archbishop in Washington.

“I was just shocked,” Ramsey said in a recent interview with The Post.

Ramsey said he told the apostolic nuncio, Archbishop Gabriel Montalvo, that McCarrick routinely took students from the seminary to his New Jersey beach house and pressured them to sleep with him in his bed. Ramsey told Montalvo he was not aware of any sexual contact but considered McCarrick’s behavior inappropriate.

Montalvo instructed Ramsey to put his claims in writing so they could be forwarded to the Vatican, and Ramsey did so, he said. Ramsey heard nothing back until 2006, when he received a letter from Sandri, then an archbishop in the Vatican secretary of state’s office. The letter briefly acknowledged his warning from several years earlier, according to a copy he posted online.

The ledgers obtained by The Post show that McCarrick was writing checks in those years to Montalvo, Sandri and other senior prelates responsible for managing clerics or handling sex-abuse allegations.

Montalvo accepted three checks from McCarrick worth a total of $5,000 before his death in 2006, the ledgers show, while Sandri received the $6,500 from 2002 to 2008.

Cardinal Angelo Sodano, who until 2006 served as secretary of state, received $19,000 from 2002 to 2016, the records show.

Sodano did not respond to messages seeking comment.

The Rev. J. Augustine Di Noia, an American who in 2001 started working in the Vatican office that assessed sex-abuse claims, accepted six checks worth a total of $9,500 from 2001 to 2009, the records show.

In a statement, a spokesman for Di Noia, now an archbishop, said the first check was for expenses related to his move to the Vatican. Others were “Christmas-time offerings” or were given to support him as he transferred to another Vatican post in 2009.

“Archbishop Di Noia affirms categorically that Theodore McCarrick never attempted to influence him in his work for the Holy See,” he said. “Whatever were Theodore McCarrick’s tragic personal failures, it is nevertheless a sad day when improper motives are reflexively assigned to assistance given and received in good faith.”

Told by The Post of McCarrick’s checks, Ramsey said he was not surprised.

“I assumed something like this was going on,” he said. “But I didn’t know checks were going to individual clerics.”

Lack of action

A retired bishop of the Diocese of Metuchen, N.J., said in a statement last year that in December 2005 he contacted Montalvo with new allegations about McCarrick, who had been bishop there in the 1980s. Bishop Emeritus Paul Bootkoski said he called the apostolic nuncio and then followed up in writing to relay two former seminarians’ claims of sexual misconduct by McCarrick.

Officials in the Metuchen Diocese deemed one claim so significant that they had secretly paid an $80,000 settlement, according to recent news accounts. They would pay $100,000 to the second seminarian a short time later.

While leaders in Rome considered how to proceed, McCarrick reached retirement age. In May 2006, he stepped down from his post in Washington, his public reputation untarnished. He remained prominent in church affairs and in his capacity as archbishop emeritus was allowed to maintain control of the special fund.

At least one Vatican official has said he was infuriated by the lack of action against McCarrick. Late in 2006, Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò wrote a memo urging Sandri and Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, then the secretary of state, to sanction McCarrick, according to a public letter Viganò released through Catholic publications in 2018.

Viganò wrote that his superiors never responded to the memo he sent in 2006. He accused Vatican officials of protecting McCarrick and asserted that McCarrick “had the financial means to influence decisions” at the time. He did not elaborate in the letter and did not respond to a message seeking comment.

Viganò’s August 2018 letter was published soon after the church announced that McCarrick was being removed from public ministry.

Critics of Viganò have accused him of using the letter to undermine progressive adversaries within the church. In public statements, some top Vatican officials have disputed details of Viganò’s account, including his claim that Pope Francis was aware of detailed allegations against McCarrick years ago but ignored them. Francis does not appear among the list of check recipients, according to the ledgers obtained by The Post.

At the same time Viganò says he was urging sanctions, McCarrick continued sending checks to key church figures. The checks were often clustered around Christmas, with just over half recorded in the ledgers in December or January, according to a Post analysis. In some cases, McCarrick started giving clerics money when they took on new jobs with more authority.

In 2007, among the new beneficiaries was Bertone, who had recently been named secretary of state. Records show that Bertone received seven checks worth a total of $7,000 before he stepped down in 2013.

Cardinal Fernando Filoni began receiving checks in 2008, soon after he was elevated to be a top aide to Bertone. Filoni received $3,500 through 2013, the records show.

Viganò said in his public letter that he shared his concerns about McCarrick with Filoni in 2008. Once again, nothing came of it, Viganò said.

“I was greatly dismayed at my superiors for the inconceivable absence of any measure against the Cardinal,” Viganò wrote.

Bertone and Filoni did not respond to messages seeking comment.

McCarrick also gave to lower-level officials in Rome.

American Archbishop Peter Wells started receiving checks in 2010, the year after he took a key Vatican job under Filoni. Wells had received $2,500 by the time the checks stopped in 2016, the year he left the post for an assignment outside the Vatican.

Other recipients included the longtime head of the papal household, Cardinal James Harvey, and at least two priests working as personal assistants to Benedict and John Paul.

Wells did not respond to messages seeking comment.

In an interview, Harvey said numerous bishops from big cities in the United States sent him monetary gifts to show appreciation for his office’s help, including in making arrangements for visits to the pope.

“It never occurred to me that this would be in some way improper,” he said.

“It wasn’t about currying favor,” Harvey said. “It wasn’t some parallel system of nefarious activity.”

A spokesman for Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the Vatican’s secretary of state, called such gifts common and said they do not influence how Parolin exercises his official responsibilities. He received $1,000 from McCarrick shortly after becoming secretary of state in 2013.

“To send and receive such gifts is customary during the Christmas season, including between Bishops, as a sign of appreciation for work carried out in the service of the universal Church and for the Holy Father,” the spokesman said in a statement.

Some experts, told of The Post’s findings, said cash gifts can create the appearance of a conflict.

“It raises questions about whether McCarrick was buying access or protection,” said the Rev. Thomas Reese, a columnist at Religion News Service and author of a book about Vatican politics and operations. “This doesn’t pass the smell test.”

Former West Virginia bishop Michael J. Bransfield gave $350,000 in cash gifts to clerics in the United States and at the Vatican from 2005 to 2018, The Post reported in June. He used church money that was routed through his personal account.

The church began investigating Bransfield last year after one of his top aides wrote in a confidential letter to church leaders that the gifts, many of them sent around the Christmas season, were an attempt to “purchase influence.” The investigation later faulted Bransfield for the gifts and found that he inappropriately spent millions of dollars in church money on personal extravagances and engaged in sexual misconduct with seminarians and young priests. Bransfield, who was removed from public ministry in July, has denied wrongdoing.

More than a dozen recipients of Bransfield’s gifts pledged to return the money after The Post reported that it was drawn from church accounts.

At least 17 clerics who received cash gifts from Bransfield also received checks from McCarrick, records show.

Well-known donors

The donors to the Archbishop’s Special Fund include wealthy and well-known figures.

Among them are novelist Mary Higgins Clark; John B. Hess, chief executive of oil giant Hess Corp.; and a foundation run by Rep. Francis Rooney (R-Fla.), who previously served as U.S. ambassador to the Vatican, the ledgers show.

“For many years I have supported a long list of Catholic charities and causes because I believe in the work they do,” Clark said in a statement. “If the money I donated to Cardinal McCarrick was misused in any way, it was without my knowledge, and I am shocked and saddened.”

Hess and Rooney did not respond to requests for comment.

Another donor was William McIntosh, a former Wall Street executive. McIntosh said he got to know McCarrick in the 1990s when both served on the board of the Papal Foundation, a Philadelphia-based charity that has raised hundreds of millions of dollars for initiatives favored by the pope. McCarrick was a founder of the charity and its first president.

McIntosh said he began sending contributions to McCarrick when he was archbishop in Newark for a discretionary charitable account he controlled at the time. McIntosh said he trusted McCar­rick’s judgment and was unaware that money he sent him over the years went to other clerics.

“Based on my work with him at the Papal Foundation, I considered him excellent at what he did and tried to be helpful,” McIntosh said. “I had no idea what he was doing with it. I assumed he was doing good things.”

A spokeswoman for the Archdiocese of Newark, Maria Margiotta, declined to answer questions about the fund McCarrick controlled there. “Since matters involving former Cardinal McCar­rick are under review by law enforcement and/or involve litigation, it would be inappropriate for us to discuss publicly,” she said.

The current archbishop of Newark, Joseph W. Tobin, received a $1,000 check from McCarrick in 2016, the ledgers show. Margiotta said that the check was a gift marking Tobin’s elevation as a cardinal and that he believes he deposited it “in a personal account, where it was used to defray the expenses incurred by his new responsibilities or for charitable purposes.”

Some of the money that flowed into McCarrick’s fund came from a foundation that he advised as a board member.

McCarrick directed at least $250,000 to his fund from the Loyola Foundation between 2011 and 2016, as he sat on the foundation’s board, said Executive Director Gregory McCarthy. Each foundation board member was allowed to designate an annual allotment to a favored charity, McCarthy said.

“In this case, the funds went to the Archbishop’s Fund, which was overseen by the Archdiocese of Washington,” McCarthy said. “Frankly I did not know where the funds would go from there.”

McCarthy said foundation officials received assurances from the Archdiocese of Washington that McCarrick’s account was a legitimate charitable fund.

According to two former archdiocese officials, the fund was reviewed yearly to account for expenditures and deposits but otherwise received minimal oversight.

Meanwhile, the number of people claiming to have been abused by McCarrick continues to expand. Early this year, U.S. church officials sent the Vatican allegations involving at least seven boys and dating from 1970 to 1990, The Post has reported.

Amid the fallout, the Catholic Church has been under pressure to explain how it ignored or missed years of warnings. The Vatican report addressing those issues is expected to be released as early as January. In announcing the review in 2018, the Vatican said in a statement that “both abuse and its cover-up can no longer be tolerated.”

Harlan reported from Rome. Stefano Pitrelli in Rome and Andrew Ba Tran and Alice Crites in Washington contributed to this report.

‘Absolutely disgusting’: Catholics in Philadelphia react to the latest child sex-abuse scandal

Philadelphia Inquirer

Dec. 29, 2019

By Wendy Ruderman

As Phoenix Robertson sat in church on Sunday, she looked around and noticed — not for the first time — that she was one of very few young people attending Mass at the Cathedral Basilica of SS. Peter and Paul in Philadelphia.

The 24-year-old resident of West Philadelphia said she believes the dwindling numbers of her peers at Mass each week is largely due to how the Roman Catholic Church has handled cases of child sex abuse by covering up allegations and shielding priests from public scrutiny for decades.

And the latest scandal, which came in the form of a news report that diocescan leaders nationwide had failed to disclose the names of hundreds of clergy members accused of sexually abusing children, will only engender more distrust and disdain, Robertson said.

“It’s bad for the church to cover things up. It’s bad for our collective souls,” Robertson said after emerging from 9:30 a.m. Mass. “But regardless of how it affects us, obviously the survivors or victims should be the top priority and it’s bad for them more than anyone.”

Joliet Bishop Daniel Conlon Taking Medical Leave

Channel 2, CBS-TV affiliate

December 28, 2019

The Catholic Diocese of Joliet said this week that Bishop Daniel Conlon is taking medical leave.

The diocese said Conlon’s leave was granted by Pope Francis, but they have not given any details as to what the medical issue might be.

Conon is no stranger to the CBS 2 investigators. Just over a year ago, CBS 2 Investigator Brad Edwards showed up at Conlon’s house – trying to get Conlon to answer questions about priest sex abuse allegations in the Joliet diocese.

Conlon slammed his front door in Edwards’ face.

There is a list of more than 30 priests who are accused of abuse in the Joliet diocese, including Father James Nowak.

Mourners pay tribute to Father George Clements during funeral at Holy Angels Church


December 28, 2019

By Jesse Kirsch

Family, friends and members of Holy Angels Catholic Church came together to pay tribute to Father George Clements during a funeral service Saturday.

A complicated figure in Chicago's Catholic community, Clements died Nov. 25 at the age of 87.

He served as the priest at Holy Angels in the Bronzeville neighborhood for more than 20 years.

"I felt that he was truly a man of God, a servant of God. He was speaking from his heart," said Carole Haymon, who attended Clements' funeral.

Clements' impact reached far beyond his hometown of Chicago. In 1980, he blazed a new trail for Catholic priests as the first to adopt a child. In all, he adopted four sons.

12 big stories of 2019 in mid-Michigan


December 29, 2019

By Heather Jordan

The shooting of a police officer during a routine traffic stop in Saginaw Township. High water threatening Saginaw Bay shoreline homes. A sexual-abuse crisis sweeping the Catholic Church, including the diocese of Saginaw. A plan to privatize two of Bay City's drawbridges and charge tolls. The longest automotive strike in 50 years.

As we look forward to 2020, here's a look back at these and other top stories of the year in mid-Michigan:

First clergy abuse suits under new California law announced

Angelus News

Dec. 29, 2019

A national attorney for victims of clergy sexual abuse has announced plans to file twelve clergy sexual abuse lawsuits in nine California dioceses under California’s new Child Victims Act, which extends the state’s statute of limitations for childhood sexual abuse survivors, set to take effect Jan. 1, 2020.

The announcement from Jeff Anderson & Associates included plans for the law firm to file lawsuits in the Archdioceses of Los Angeles and San Francisco and the Dioceses of Fresno, Monterey, Orange, San Bernardino, Oakland, San Jose, and Santa Rosa.

The firm announced the first lawsuits on December 27 in Los Angeles against the Friars Minor Capuchin religious order, St. Francis High School in La Cañada Flintridge, and the Archdiocese of Los Angeles over alleged abuse by a wrestling coach, Fr. Christopher Kearney O.F.M. Cap..

In the suit filed in Los Angeles Superior Court, an unnamed male alleges that Fr. Kearney touched him inappropriately during wrestling matches at St. Francis High School.

Two other lawsuits were announced the same day against Mater Dei High School in Santa Ana and the Diocese of Orange over alleged abuse by former principal Msgr. Michael Harris and Bernie Balsis, a former guidance counselor at the school. The suits were filed on behalf of former students of both high schools alleging abuse decades ago.

In a statement, the Archdiocese of Los Angeles said it had not been served with the lawsuit. The statement confirmed that although Fr. Kearney was not a priest of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, 15 years ago the Archdiocese had included him on a list of publicly accused priests, following a history of similar accusations against the priest.

“Fr. Kearney is a priest of the Order of Friars Minor Capuchin, an independent religious order that runs St. Francis High School,” the Archdiocese said. “Fr. Kearney was included, as a religious order priest, in the list of publicly accused priests that the Archdiocese published in 2004.

The Archdiocese said that it is “committed to transparency and has established reporting and prevention policies and programs to protect minors and support victim-survivors in our parishes, schools and ministries.

“The Archdiocese does not tolerate anyone who does harm to a child or vulnerable person and remains committed to the support and healing of victim-survivors and to

Reverend Tan Van Tran

Daily Nonpareil

Dec. 14, 2019

Reverend Tan Van Tran, age 62, died at his home on December 10, 2019.

Tan was born on April 18, 1957, in Bien Hoa Province, South Vietnam, to Thuan Van Tran and Lich Thi Nguyen. He was one of 7 children, raised in a good Catholic family. He attended seminary in the Diocese, of Dong Nai, Vietnam from 1969 to 1987, which included Seminary of St. Paul High School and college seminary in Vietnam. In 1975, when Saigon fell to the communists, all seminaries were forced to close. Tan made the courageous decision to continue as a seminarian, although this meant persecution by the State. Many of his friends were jailed. Tan, however, lived with his bishop for 7 years and had the opportunity to study philosophy and theology in an underground seminary from 1976 to 1983. He did pastoral work for 3 years from 1984 to 1987.

In 1988, Tan escaped Vietnam by boat alongside many other Vietnamese. After 5 days of dangerous sailing, Tan's boat reached Malaysia. He spent 7 months in Malaysia and 6 months in the Philippines, living in refugee camps where he ministered to other refugees that had fled their homelands. Tan arrived in America in April 1989, and in June, became part of the Diocese of Des Moines. In 1992, he received a Master of Divinity Degree from Sacred Heart Seminary in Hales Corners, Wisconsin.

Amazon synod, abuse crisis dominate 2019 for Pope Francis


December 28, 2019

By Inés San Martín

Often described as the “Energizer bunny of popes,” Pope Francis in 2019 traveled more miles than ever before, addressed the full scope of the clerical sexual abuse crisis, and made key personnel moves, including one that abuse survivors had been demanding for years.

The February abuse summit

When Francis summoned the presidents of the world’s bishops’ conferences and the leaders of the men’s and women’s religious orders to Rome for a Feb. 21-24, 2019 meeting, there was little to no information given out to describe the event.

However, it became evident that in the pope’s mind, beyond fostering transparency and discussing best practices, an important element of the meeting would be guaranteeing that no bishop in the future could say: “I didn’t know how to respond.”

Particularly in countries where the abuse crisis still seems like a “foreign” problem, there are bishops who believe that moving abusive priests to a different parish - or a different country - is a solution, or that priests can be returned to ministry after receiving “treatment” for sexual disorders. After their meeting in Rome, those excuses will no longer fly.

Lawsuits allege sexual abuse and cover-ups at Catholic high schools in Santa Ana and La Cañada Flintridge

Orange County Register

December 27, 2019

By Sean Emery


On the eve of a new law that gives victims of childhood sexual assaults more time to come forward, lawsuits have been filed over alleged abuse and cover-ups at Catholic high schools in Orange and Los Angeles counties.

Attorneys on Friday announced a pair of lawsuits filed by two former students of Mater Dei High School in Santa Ana and one by a former student of St. Francis High School in La Cañada Flintridge. During a pair of news conferences, the lawyers alleged that systematic sexual assault occurred at both campuses and was covered up by school and diocese leaders.

Assembly Bill 218 affects those abused in many walks of life, from Olympics swimmers and schoolchildren to Boy Scouts and young Catholic churchgoers.

The legislation, signed by Gov. Gavin Newsom in October and taking effect Jan. 1, extends the time that victims of childhood sexual abuse can file lawsuits. It gives those for whom the statute of limitations had run out a window of three years to bring claims that would have otherwise been barred.

Lawsuit alleges priest abused student at St. Francis High in La Cañada

Los Angeles Times/La Cañada Valley Sun

December 27, 2019

By Anndy Nguyen

The first of six planned lawsuits was filed Friday on behalf of victims who allege they were sexually abused by a priest at St. Francis High School in La Cañada Flintridge where they were students, according to the plaintiffs’ attorneys.

Under the auspices of AB 219, which takes effect in January and extends the statute of limitations for reporting childhood sexual assaults, the lawsuit was filed against St. Francis, the Archdiocese of Los Angeles and the Order of Friars Minor Capuchin — a religious order within the Catholic Church that operates the school.

Requests for comment from the Capuchin order and St. Francis were not immediately returned.

According to the suit filed this week, the first plaintiff, identified only as John Doe LA 1002, was a 15-year-old student at the school in 1984 when he began to be sexually abused by the Rev. Christopher Kearney, who taught at St. Francis from 1970 to 1995.

Lawsuits accusing priests, counselor of sexual abuse filed against 2 SoCal schools in light of new law


December 28, 2019

By Jessica De Nova and ABC7.com staff

Three lawsuits accusing former priests and a counselor of sexual abuse were filed the last week of December in light of a new law kicking in Jan. 1.

Nicole Bonilla said she suffered abuse at the hands of her guidance counselor in the 90s at Mater Dei High School in Santa Ana.

"I will not send my kids to Mater Dei, ever," Bonilla said.

According to Bonilla and her attorneys, administrators at the school covered up the alleged act and some were still working at Mater Dei when Bonilla's complaint was filed more than two decades later.

"After they asked me all my questions they said that they were basically going to make sure it never happens again so I thought that there would be some form of justice or consequence," Bonilla said.

Bonilla said neither her parents nor police were ever called. The accused counselor, Bernie Balsis, was gone a few months later.

Man Alleges He Was Abused by Priest While at Catholic High School


December 27, 2019

"It's time for this serial offender to be exposed in a way he never has been,'' a lawyer said.

Saying it is time for every diocese and religious order in the state to come clean, attorneys Friday filed the first of six lawsuits by victims who allege they were sexually abused by a priest while attending St. Francis High School in La Canada Flintridge.

During a news conference at the Hilton Checkers Los Angeles hotel downtown, lawyer Jeff Anderson said a new law, known as the Child Victims Act, gives new hope to alleged victims like the plaintiff in the current Los Angeles Superior Court lawsuit, who is identified only as John Doe LA 1002.He is suing the Archdiocese of Los Angeles and St. Francis High School.

A representative for the archdiocese did not immediately reply to a request for comment.

Church Fights Abuse Lawsuit Filed After Limit Was Extended

Associated Press via Grans Pass OR Courier

December 28, 2019

Rhode Island's Roman Catholic diocese is challenging a lawsuit filed after a state law gave sex abuse victims more time to sue their abusers or the institutions they worked for.

The challenge by the Diocese of Providence comes in the case of a 53-year-old man who sued the diocese in September, saying he was abused as a child in the 1970s and 1980s by a now-dead North Providence priest, The Providence Journal reported Friday.

The plaintiff was the first to file a priest abuse lawsuit after the state, one of the nation's most heavily Catholic, extended the statute of limitations on civil claims for child sexual abuse. Gov. Gina Raimondo, a Democrat, signed the law over the summer.

Bishops council denies knowledge of alleged sexual abuse in Indonesian Catholic Church

Jakarta Post

December 27, 2019

Bishops Council of Indonesia (KWI) chairman and Jakarta Archbishop Ignatius Suharyo, who was just appointed cardinal, denied any knowledge of a report of sexual abuse in the Indonesian Catholic Church and questioned its “authenticity” during a Christmas press conference at the Jakarta Cathedral on Wednesday.

“I, as the archbishop of the Jakarta Archdiocese and as the chairman of the KWI, never received such a report. Therefore, if you ask me, I don’t know,” he told The Jakarta Post.

Weekly magazine Warta Minggu, published by the Tomang Catholic parish in West Jakarta, previously reported that at least 56 people were allegedly subjected to sexual abuse in the Catholic Church in Indonesia.

The Bransfield report: Post publishes secret Vatican document as parishioners demand answers

Washington Post

December 23, 2019

By Shawn Boburg, Robert O'Harrow Jr. and Michelle Boorstein


[The Washington Post has posted a copy of the Bransfield report. BishopAccountability.org has made the report searchable.]

For months, civil authorities and Catholic parishioners have sought access to a secret church report about Michael J. Bransfield, the West Virginia bishop ousted for alleged sexual and financial misconduct. Law enforcement authorities in two jurisdictions contend that it could aid investigations they have launched, and parishioners have said it could help them understand how Bransfield’s behavior went unchecked for so long.

But so far, the report has remained out of their reach.

The Washington Post obtained a copy of the document in June and has drawn on it and other records for a series of stories about the role of cash gifts among senior clerics in the church’s ongoing sex abuse crisis.

The 60-page report is brimming with investigative findings about how Bransfield allegedly groomed and inappropriately touched young men and spent millions of dollars in church money on himself and on fellow clerics.

December 28, 2019

Calls to clergy abuse hotline spike after N.J. expands statute of limitations

Star Ledger

Dec. 28, 2019

By Blake Nelson

More people are calling the state’s priest abuse hotline since lawmakers expanded when victims can file lawsuits.

The New Jersey Clergy Abuse Hotline has received 568 total calls as of Dec. 9, according to the state Attorney General’s office.

“More survivors have come forward,” state Attorney General Gurbir Grewal said during an interview earlier this month. “That’s been a positive.”

Starting Dec. 1, people who were previously barred from filing a lawsuit because the statute of limitations had expired now have a two-year window to pursue their case. Dozens of suits have already rolled in against local Catholic dioceses, the Boy Scouts of America and other organizations.

Grewal said renewed attention has led to more information about potential abuse.

“We are looking at every single one," he said about the new calls.

Even if a tip doesn’t result in criminal charges, Grewal said new information could be incorporated into the state’s ongoing investigation into sex crimes throughout the Catholic Church. That inquiry was launched after a grand jury report in Pennsylvania found that more than 1,000 children were sexually abused by hundreds of priests, including four from New Jersey.

Grewal said he hoped New Jersey’s report would be finished this coming fall, in 2020, but that new information could push that timeline back.

The state’s Clergy Abuse Task Force has filed two cases to date, according to Grewal’s office.

A Phillipsburg priest named Thomas P. Ganley was arrested at the beginning of this year, pleaded guilty to second-degree sexual assault and was sentenced to four years in prison. A second man was arrested in September and later indicted on three counts of second-degree sexual assault, according to court records.

Hundreds of accused clergy left off church’s sex abuse lists

Associated Press

Dec. 28, 2019

By Claudia Lauer and Meghan Hoyer

Richard J. Poster served time for possessing child pornography, violated his probation by having contact with children, admitted masturbating in the bushes near a church school and in 2005 was put on a sex offender registry. And yet the former Catholic priest was only just this month added to a list of clergy members credibly accused of child sexual abuse — after The Associated Press asked why he was not included.

Victims advocates had long criticized the Roman Catholic Church for not making public the names of credibly accused priests. Now, despite the dioceses’ release of nearly 5,300 names, most in the last two years, critics say the lists are far from complete.

An AP analysis found more than 900 clergy members accused of child sexual abuse who were missing from lists released by the dioceses and religious orders where they served.

The AP reached that number by matching those public diocesan lists against a database of accused priests tracked by the group BishopAccountability.org and then scouring bankruptcy documents, lawsuits, settlement information, grand jury reports and media accounts.

More than a hundred of the former clergy members not listed by dioceses or religious orders had been charged with sexual crimes, including rape, solicitation and receiving or viewing child pornography.

On top of that, the AP found another nearly 400 priests and clergy members who were accused of abuse while serving in dioceses that have not yet released any names.

“No one should think, ‘Oh, the bishops are releasing their lists, there’s nothing left to do,’” said Terence McKiernan, co-founder of BishopAccountability.org, who has been tracking the abuse crisis and cataloging accused priests for almost two decades, accumulating a database of thousands of priests.

“There are a lot of holes in these lists,” he said. “There’s still a lot to do to get to actual, true transparency.”

Church officials say that absent an admission of guilt, they have to weigh releasing a name against harming the reputation of priests who may have been falsely accused. By naming accused priests, they note, they also open themselves to lawsuits from those who maintain their innocence.

Earlier this month, former priest John Tormey sued the Providence, Rhode Island, diocese, saying his reputation was irreparably harmed by his inclusion on the diocese’s credibly accused list. After the list was made public, he said he was asked to retire by the community college where he had worked for over a decade.

Some dioceses have excluded entire classes of clergy members from their lists — priests in religious orders, deceased priests who had only one allegation against them, priests ordained in foreign countries and, sometimes, deacons or seminarians ousted before they were ordained.

Others, like Poster, were excluded because of technicalities.

Poster’s name was not included when the Davenport, Iowa, diocese issued its first list of two dozen credibly accused priests in 2008. The diocese said his crime of possessing more than 270 videos and images of child pornography on his work laptop was not originally a qualifying offense in the church’s landmark charter on child abuse because there wasn’t a direct victim.

After he was released from prison, the diocese found Poster a job as a maintenance man at its office, but he was fired less than a year later after admitting to masturbating in the bushes on the property, which abuts a Catholic high school. Still, the diocese did not list him.

Victims of sadistic evangelical priest want police to investigate

Patheos blog

Dec. 28, 2019

By Barry Duke

BACK in June we reported on the kinky behaviour of the Rev Jonathan Fletcher, above, a leading London evangelical who, among other things, would beat men on their bare butts with tennis shoes, and force them to give him naked massages.

When the goings-on at Fletcher’s Emmanuel Church in Wimbledon came to light in the summer, there were flurries of lurid headlines concerning allegations that he “spiritually abused” vulnerable adults. But then all went quiet until this week when it was reported that Fletcher, 77, who was banned from preaching at the church 2017, may now face a criminal investigation.

His alleged victims are seeking legal advice to see if his behaviour warrants criminal charges.

Emmanuel Church, they claim, did not take their concerns seriously, despite their reporting of the abuse. One victim said:

We don’t feel that we can go anywhere, basically. There’s no one high up that we trust.

An Emmanuel Church spokesperson said an independent review has been commissioned into safeguarding and Fletcher, with alleged victims, is encouraged to participate.

New archbishop chosen to deal with aftermath of Chile's abuse scandal

Radio New Zealand

Dec. 28, 2019

Pope Francis has confirmed a Spanish priest as the new archbishop of Chile's capital Santiago, as the Vatican seeks to turn the page on a sexual abuse scandal that has shaken its standing and eroded support in the conservative Latin nation.

Celestino Aos, 74, was appointed apostolic administrator of Santiago in March this year after the Pope accepted the resignation of Cardinal Ricardo Ezzati, who faces multiple charges that he helped cover up sexual abuse of children.

Speaking shortly after his confirmation as the highest-ranking member of the Catholic Church in Chile, Aos promised to "seek justice, the truth, help the whistleblowers, people who suffer" but also said justice should not be "driven by passion, the emotion of the moment".

Aos was educated and trained in his native Spain but has spent 36 years working in Chile. He told an interviewer this year that the Pope's declaration last year about a "culture of cover-up" of abuse in Chile had been "painful and unfair".

"There are some who have acted like this, and that is repugnant, but not everyone has," he told Catholic publication Crux in May.

December 27, 2019

What Does Cardinal Sodano’s Departure as Dean of the College of Cardinals Mean?

National Catholic Register

Dec. 27, 2019

By Father Raymond J. de Souza

The Dec. 21 resignation of Cardinal Angelo Sodano as the dean of the College of Cardinals is the conclusion of a long career, not without controversy. It occasioned a change in the office of the dean itself, which will now be subject to a five-year term. It also signals that Pope Francis is preparing for the end of his pontificate, with no evidence that it is coming sooner rather than later, let alone imminent.

Sodano was a longtime papal diplomat, serving as nuncio in Chile during the 1980s. He was appointed secretary of state by St. John Paul II in 1990, where he served until 2006, when he retired at age 78 under Pope Benedict XVI. He had been dean of the college since April 2005, when he succeeded Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, who had been dean until his election as pope.

When the complete collapse of the Chilean episcopate took place in 2018 after the disastrous papal visit, some defenders of Pope Francis attempted to blame the compromised state of the Chilean episcopate on the recommendations that Cardinal Sodano made as nuncio in the 1980s.

More significant, it is now widely known that when allegations against Legionaries of Christ founder Father Marcial Maciel arrived in Rome in 1998, there was a struggle between Cardinal Sodano and Cardinal Ratzinger over how they would be investigated. This resulted in a delay for several years until Father Maciel retired as superior of the Legionaries in January 2005. Cardinal Ratzinger immediately resumed the investigation, which was ongoing when he was elected pope in April 2005.

The subsequent year, Father Maciel was removed from all public ministry and sentenced to a life of prayer and penance. (Last week, the Legionaries released a report stating that their order’s founder had more than 60 victims.) Benedict replaced Cardinal Sodano as secretary of state four weeks after the Maciel case was resolved. The Maciel matter remains a stain on Cardinal Sodano’s record.

2019 In Review: Bishop Accountability

Patheos blog

Dec. 27, 2019

By Brian Fraga

Over the next several days, I’ll be posting links to some of the in-depth Catholic news stories I wrote this year for Our Sunday Visitor.

In 2019, I wrote several articles on bishops’ accountability for their handling of the clergy sex abuse crises. I interviewed bishops on their plans to restore trust, especially if they followed in the heels of disgraced predecessors who resigned amidst allegations that they had mishandled abuse cases. I also spoke with lay Catholics who shared their frustrations and, in some cases, disillusionment with their shepherds.

In this Sept. 13 Q&A, I profiled Bishop Mark Brennan of Wheeling-Charleston, West Virginia and the challenges he was facing following in the footsteps of Michael Bransfield, who resigned after being accused of misusing Church funds to support his lavish lifestyle and of sexually harassing priests and seminarians. Bishop Bransfield has denied those allegations.

“A lot of people are upset, understandably,” Bishop Brennan told me. “I can’t wave a magic wand to make the past go away. I think it’s just the day-to-day attempt to be faithful to my ministry as a bishop, that over time I hope people of goodwill see that and be encouraged that they can trust their Church.”

The last bull: Cardinal Sodano goes out

National Catholic Reporter

Dec. 27, 2019

By Jason Berry

A scene in "The Two Popes," the charming new Netflix movie, has Anthony Hopkins as a brooding, gentle Benedict XVI hearing the unprompted confession of Cardinal Jorge Borgoglio, played by Jonathan Pryce in an adroit balance of modesty and intellectual force. The Argentinian has gone to Rome seeking to retire at 75. Benedict rebuffs that. The tender plot distorts the reality of ecclesiastical ambition. Bergoglio reveals his agonizing struggle in the Dirty War as a young provincial, trying to protect a divided Jesuit community from the sadistic regime. Then, Benedict begins his confession, referencing "Fr. [Marcial] Maciel" – the notorious pedophile and Legion of Christ founder. At this point, director Fernando Meirelles cuts off the words: facial expressions convey Benedict's remorse, speeding the plot past clergy sexual abuse.

In real life, a menacing shadow to both popes belonged to Cardinal Angelo Sodano, a native of Piedmont in northern Italy. Sodano was the great protector of Maciel and other notorious predators. He was also a loyalist of Chile's dictator, Augusto Pinochet, during the 1980s as papal nuncio in Santiago. Sodano helped Maciel gain support of affluent Chileans in establishing Legion schools there. In 1991, Pope John Paul II, impressed with Sodano's anti-Communist credentials, made him Vatican Secretary of State. For nearly two decades he advanced the careers of most of the men who became Chilean bishops under John Paul and Benedict, along with many Vatican diplomats and officials in the Roman Curia who owed him allegiance.

Sodano, 92, was the church's most powerful cardinal of the last generation. On December 21, Pope Francis "accepted" his resignation as dean of the College of Cardinals, in which post he practiced Machiavellian politics on a breathtaking scale. Sodano swallowed his fate in a photo-op with a smiling Francis and one of those ornamentally-phrased Vatican documents when a big man gets sacked. The pope's motu proprio (on his own initiative) performs a verbal bow to Sodano, "whom I thank warmly for the high service rendered to the College of Cardinals in the nearly fifteen years of his mandate." The document stipulates a five-year term for future deans, renewable if a pope so desires.

Providence diocese challenges law giving alleged child sex-abuse victims more time to sue

Providence Journal

Dec. 27, 2019

By Brian Amaral

The Roman Catholic Diocese of Providence argued in a legal filing that the state’s new deadlines to sue over childhood sexual abuse is, in part, unconstitutional.

The legal wrangling comes in the first test case after a new state law extended — in some cases retroactively — the deadline to sue over child sexual abuse. A man sued the diocese in September, saying he was abused hundreds of times when he was a child by a North Providence priest in the 1970s and 1980s.

Now, though, the diocese is asking the Superior Court to dismiss the case. Until then, the diocese argued in a separate filing, it shouldn’t have to turn over records to the man who said he was abused.

Among the diocese’s legal positions: The state can’t extend the deadline to file lawsuits over child sex abuse if the deadline had already run out under the old law. That’s exactly what the legislation, signed over the summer, tried to do for certain cases.

“The Rhode Island Supreme Court has held unequivocally that retroactive legislative changes to statutes of limitations that revive already time-barred claims are unconstitutional,” the diocese’s lawyers said. “This is not a close question.”

The diocese’s lawyers are also trying to halt what’s called legal discovery in the case, describing the requests for internal documents and information as burdensome.

The motion to dismiss the case is not unexpected, said Timothy J. Conlon, the lawyer for the man suing the diocese said. But the description of his discovery requests as a burden was “totally ridiculous,” Conlon said. It came just after Pope Francis lifted the highest levels of church secrecy on child sex abuse cases.

2 Former Mater Dei High School Students Accuse Ex Principal And Counselor Of Sex Abuse


Dec. 27, 2019

Two former Mater Dei High School students have sued the Diocese of Orange this week, alleging they were victims of sexual abuse at the hands of a former counselor and a former principal while attending the private Catholic Santa Ana school.

The plaintiffs, a man and woman whose names were not revealed in the lawsuits filed in Orange County Superior Court, allege they were abused when they were 15 years old.

They filed the lawsuits under a new law that allows for a three-year window of claims that would otherwise be barred by a statute of limitations.

The woman, who was born in 1980, alleged in her lawsuit filed Thursday that she was abused by former counselor Bernie Balsis in 1995 when she was a student at the private Roman Catholic high school, located at 1202 W. Edinger Ave.

The other lawsuit was also filed Tuesday by a man born in 1963 who alleges he was sexually assaulted by former Mater Dei principal the Rev. Michael Harris.

According to the woman’s lawsuit, Balsis “befriended” her and would “summon her into his office under the guise of providing counseling services,” but then “proceeded to tell plaintiff that he loved her, hugged her and pressed his erect penis against her while his hands were underneath her skirt manipulating her buttocks,” the lawsuit alleges.

AG charges 7 Michigan priests with clergy abuse in 2019


Dec. 27, 2019

By Markie Heideman

Seven priests have been charged in Michigan in 2019 for clergy abuse and the investigation is ongoing, according to Attorney General Dana Nessel.

Nessel took over the investigation from former Attorney General Bill Schuette. Since the beginning of the investigation, more than 640 tips have been received.

The attorney general said 552 victims have been identified and 270 priests have been named as abusers.

Currently, 130 cases are being investigated or reviewed for potential charges. Of those cases, about 50 cases have been closed based on the statute of limitations or the deaths of the priests involved. Forty-five of the cases are actively being investigated and 25 cases have been referred to the Diocese for further action.

Of the seven currently charged, Patrick Casey and Brian Stanley have already pleaded guilty, according to officials. Casey has been sentenced to 45 days in jail, and one year of probation and sex offender counseling. Stanley is scheduled to be sentenced on Jan. 27.

Others charged include Joseph Baker, Timothy Crowley, Vincent DeLorenzo, Neil Kalina and Jacob Vellian.

Five days that stood out in a rocky year as Dallas Catholic Diocese sought to rebuild trust

Morning News

Dec. 27, 2019

By David Tarrant and Jennifer Emily

In 2019, the Dallas Catholic Diocese decided it was time to reconcile with its painful past over the sex-abuse scandal that has embroiled the church for decades and left its reputation scarred.

Joined by other Texas Catholic dioceses, it released the names of clergy who had been credibly accused of sexually abusing children since 1950. The hope was that such transparency would restore trust in church leadership among 8.5 million Catholics in 1,320 parishes across the state.

But the release of names did not resolve matters — not by a long shot. From police raids on the Dallas diocese to fresh accusations, the clergy sex abuse crisis showed no signs of abating locally and around the world.

Priests, teacher, doctor accused in latest Child Victims Act lawsuits

Buffalo News

Dec. 27, 2019

By Jay Tokasz

A Jesuit priest who previously had not been linked to a sex abuse claim is among several people accused in recently filed lawsuits of molesting children, along with an unnamed teacher at a South Buffalo Catholic school, an unnamed doctor at a home for orphaned and runaway girls, and a former Catholic priest who pleaded guilty in 1986 to a misdemeanor charge of first-degree attempted sexual abuse.

A male plaintiff who was raised in Cornwall, a town in Orange County, alleged that the Rev. Charles W. Lehmkuhl molested him from the time he was 7 years old in 1973 until 1983, when he was 17. The plaintiff, who is represented by attorney Nicholas J. Shemik, named Canisius College as defendant. Neither the Buffalo Diocese, nor the Society of Jesus, Lehmkuhl’s priestly order, were named as defendants.

Lehmkuhl taught at Canisius from 1956 to 1987. He died in 1995.

The lawsuit states that Lehmkuhl was a friend of the plaintiff’s family and served as a father figure and spiritual leader to the plaintiff. The plaintiff accompanied Lehmkuhl on a trip to Canisius College in 1983, according to the lawsuit, which accuses the college of failing to protect the plaintiff from sexual assaults.

Lehmkuhl was ordained a Jesuit priest in 1949 and served as prefect of discipline at Xavier High School in New York City before arriving at Canisius College, where he taught religious studies and psychology.

Pope begins restoring normal governance to Chilean dioceses

Catholic News Service

Dec. 27, 2019

By Cindy Wooden

Beginning the process of restoring normal governance to the dioceses of Chile in the wake of a massive clerical sexual abuse and cover-up scandal, Pope Francis named archbishops for the archdioceses of Santiago and Puerto Montt.

In May 2018, every bishop in Chile offered his resignation to Francis after a three-day meeting at the Vatican to discuss the abuse scandal and cover up.

By March 2019, Francis had accepted the resignations of eight of the bishops leading one of the country’s 27 dioceses or other church jurisdictions.

Embattled Cardinal Ricardo Ezzati of Santiago was the last to step down. Francis named Bishop Celestino Aos Braco of Copiapo, 74, as administrator of the archdiocese in March and named him archbishop Dec. 27.

New Bedford pastor accused of rape, kidnapping, held without bail


Dec. 27, 2019

By Melanie DaSilva and Anita Baffoni

A New Bedford pastor who is facing several charges including rape and kidnapping was found dangerous and is being held without bail.

A dangerousness hearing was held on Thursday for Pastor Elmer Perez, 44, of Iglesia De Jesucristo Church on Acushnet Avenue. He was taken into custody last week following a month-long investigation into accusations of sexual assault.

In addition to rape and kidnapping, Perez was charged with indecent assault and battery, witness intimidation, and threatening to commit a crime.

Prosecutors described the alleged facts in this case as a pattern of predatory behavior.

“He’s trying to kiss people, he’s trying to get them to refer to him as a man and not their priest,” Assistant District Attorney Zach Mercer said. “All of these things suggest that this is what this defendant does.”

The alleged incident involved a 28-year-old female parishioner who says she was raped by Perez inside the church.

Prosecutors say five other women came forward saying Perez has sexually assaulted them, in the past.

The defense called a parishioner to the stand who has been at the church for five years and is in charge of maintenance of the church once a week.

The judge and attorneys reviewed a two-minute long video as evidence of the room where the alleged incident occurred.

Church must deal with ‘fear factor’ keeping bad bishops in power


Dec. 27, 2019

By Charles Collins

“Fear” is a word you see a lot in the 60-page report on Bishop Michael Bransfield, which was published on Monday by the Washington Post.

The report into the former bishop of the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston, which encompasses the entire state of West Virginia, was commissioned by Archbishop William Lori of Baltimore, who was tasked by the Vatican to investigate allegations of sexual and financial misconduct during the 13-year reign of Bransfield, who retired in 2018.

The Post had reported on the document previously, having been leaked a copy in June, but decided to publish the full report two days before Christmas.

The report is a tale of an often-intoxicated predator, freely spending the diocese’s money, with no check on his power.

This behavior, according to the report, even predated Bransfield’s time as a bishop, with reports of misbehavior going back to his time at Washington’s Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, where he spent most of his priestly career before his episcopal appointment.

Witnesses reported sexual comments, unwanted touching, and other harassment and abuse throughout Bransfield’s career, but no one said anything.

Why? Fear.

Priests and seminarians knew their careers were in the hands of the bishop; this is especially true of seminarians, who could easily be denied ordination if they reported Bransfield’s behavior.

Teenager, 19, kills 'paedophile priest who abused him' by ramming a crucifix down his throat and suffocating him in France

Daily Mail

Dec. 2019

By Luke Andrews

A 19-year-old man has been arrested for killing a suspected paedophile priest by ramming a crucifix down his throat after the clergyman allegedly abused him in France.

Alexandre V., whose full name has not been disclosed, attacked 91-year-old Catholic Roger Matassoli while working at the holy figure's home in Agnetz, Oise, northern France.

The man was charged for torture, murder and resisting arrest, but had to be transferred to hospital when he was arrested on psychiatric grounds, after he was caught fleeing the scene in the victim's car.

Matassoli had been accused of sexually abusing at least four boys including the victim and his father between 1960 and 2000.

Father Roger Matassoli, pictured left in 1980, was found dead in his home in Agnetz, Oise, northern France, with a crucifix shoved down his throat. The priest had faced accusations that he abused at least four children

The priest was found dead by officers with signs of torture on his body and appearing to have suffered asphyxiation.

Bishops ask Pope to remove priest over abuse

Catholic News Service

Dec. 27, 2019

By Martha Pskowski

The Mexican Episcopal Conference released a communique on 10 December, calling on the Legionaries of Christ to ask Pope Francis to remove priest Fernando Martínez Suárez from the clerical order. The bishops wrote that there has been no material action to repair the harm caused by Martínez Suárez, who is accused of abusing children as far back as 1969.

The Legionaries of Christ released a report on allegations against the priest on 22 November. The report includes reports of Martínez Suárez abusing a boy in 1969 and a girl in 1990 at the Cumbres Institute that the Legionaries operate in Mexico City. It also documents that the priest abused six girls at the Cumbres Institute in Cancun, between 1991 and 1993.

The Legionaries’ report acknowledges there was a grave error, "to assign in this case a priest who had already committed abuses to a pastoral post in another place with children and young people".

The general secretary of the Mexican Episcopal Conference, and auxiliary bishop of Monterrey, Alfonso Miranda Guardiola, signed the communique along with the National Council for the Protection of Minors. They called for the Legionaries of Christ to take more direct action, and for Martínez Suárez to return to Mexico from Italy, where he has been living.

SNAP Responds as Disgraced Cardinal McCarrick’s Financial Impropriety Revealed

Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests

Dec. 27, 2019

A new investigation by the Washington Post has revealed that a disgraced cardinal and notorious sexual abuser was also an abuser of church finances, giving lavish gifts to church bureaucrats and friends.

According to the Washington Post, former Cardinal Theodore McCarrick routinely used the “Archbishop’s Special Fund” from the Archdiocese of Washington D.C. to give hundreds of thousands of dollars to church officials including former Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict. Church officials claim that these gifts never influenced McCarrick’s power in the Vatican, but it’s hard to believe that such donations weren’t made in an effort to burnish his reputation among his peers and protect himself when his abuses inevitably came to light.

We’re not surprised by this news. Earlier this year, it was revealed that disgraced Bishop Michael Bransfield also used donated funds to give lavish gifts to his colleagues and superiors, and a Wall Street Journal investigation also recently found that church donations earmarked for the poor ended up being taken by church officials for their personal and administrative use.

Pennsylvania dioceses offer $84M to 564 clergy abuse victims

Associated Press

Dec. 26, 2019

By Michael Rubikam

Pennsylvania’s Roman Catholic dioceses have paid nearly $84 million to 564 victims of sexual abuse, a tally that’s sure to grow substantially in the new year as compensation fund administrators work through a backlog of claims, according to an Associated Press review.

Seven of the state’s eight dioceses launched victim compensation funds in the wake of a landmark grand jury report on sexual abuse by Catholic clergy. The funds were open to claims for a limited time this year. They are independently administered, though each diocese set its own rules on eligibility.

To date, the average payout across all seven dioceses has exceeded $148,000 — a fraction of what some adult victims of childhood abuse might have expected from a jury had they been permitted to take their claims to court. Under state law, victims of past abuse only have until age 30 to sue.

“These are all time-barred claims, so it’s not going to be the kind of numbers one sees in a courtroom,” said Camille Biros, who helps administer compensation funds for the Archdiocese of Philadelphia and dioceses in Pittsburgh, Allentown, Erie and Scranton.

Lawmakers recently agreed to begin the lengthy process of amending the state constitution to allow a two-year window for civil suits otherwise barred by the statute of limitations, but there’s no guarantee that effort will bear fruit.

Disgraced former cardinal McCarrick gave more than $600,000 in church funds to powerful clerics, records show

Washingon Post

Dec. 26, 2019

By Shawn Boburg, Robert O'Harrow Jr. and Chico Harlan

Former cardinal Theodore McCarrick gave hundreds of thousands of dollars in church money to powerful Catholic clerics over nearly two decades, according to financial records obtained by The Washington Post, while the Vatican failed to act on claims he had sexually harassed young men.

Starting in 2001, McCarrick sent checks totaling more than $600,000 to clerics in Rome and elsewhere, including Vatican bureaucrats, papal advisers and two popes, according to church ledgers and former church officials.

Several of the more than 100 recipients were directly involved in assessing misconduct claims against McCarrick, documents and interviews show. It was not until 2018 that McCarrick was removed from public ministry amid allegations of misconduct decades earlier with a 16-year-old altar boy, and this year he became the first cardinal known to be defrocked for sexual abuse.

The checks were drawn from a little-known account at the Archdiocese of Washington, where McCarrick began serving as archbishop in 2001. The “Archbishop’s Special Fund” enabled him to raise money from wealthy Catholic donors and to spend it as he chose, with little oversight, according to the former officials.

McCarrick sent Pope John Paul II $90,000 from 2001 to 2005. Pope Benedict XVI received $291,000, most of it a single check for $250,000 in May 2005, a month after he was elevated to succeed the late John Paul.

Representatives of the former popes declined to comment or said they had no information about those specific checks. A former personal secretary to John Paul said donations to the pope were forwarded to the secretary of state, the second most powerful post at the Vatican. Experts cautioned that such gifts may also have been directed to papal charities.

A Vatican spokesman declined to comment. In statements, Vatican clerics who received checks described them as customary gifts among Catholic leaders during the Christmas season or as a gesture of appreciation for their service. They said the gifts from McCarrick were directed to charity or used for other proper purposes.

The gifts “never had any effect on the Cardinal’s decision-making as an official of the Holy See,” said a spokesman for Cardinal Leonardo Sandri, a high-ranking cleric who received $6,500 from McCarrick in the 2000s, the ledgers show.

December 26, 2019

Berks County state Rep. responds to clergy sexual abuse compensation


Dec. 27, 2019

By Tom Rader

Victims of clergy sexual abuse are receiving millions in compensation following a shocking grand jury report released in August of 2018.

"It never is far from your mind knowing that there's victims out there," state Rep. Mark Rozzi said. "They're struggling and they need justice now."

Rozzi, who represents part of Berks County, is himself a survivor of clergy sex abuse. He touted the $84 million that's been paid to 564 victims, but he also said more needs to be done.

"We're still working on the constitutional amendment, House Bill 963, which is gonna take that two consecutive legislative sessions to get that to apply to the referendum and hopefully we get that passed into law in 2021," he said.

Rozzi said that amendment is key to helping victims get justice that goes beyond the grand jury report.

"We're eliminating the criminal statutes of limitations, which it's currently age 50," Rozzi said. "We're completely abolishing that, but to put it in perspective for people, most of the Catholic clergy victims that were in these grand jury reports, they only had five years to report."

In addition to the 564 victims that have already received compensation, there is still a large amount of claims expected to be filed in 2020. Rozzi said that regardless of the money received, it does not make living with the abuse experienced any easier.

"The one thing we know about this type of abuse is that it never goes away and you constantly struggle and struggle throughout your entire life with it," Rozzi said.

Easton man, hundreds of others, receive payout from Catholic Church
Easton man, hundreds of others, receive payout from Catholic Church
A new report says Pennsylvania's Roman Catholic dioceses have paid out $84 million to clergy abuse victims across the state.

Allentown Diocese says it's made changes in year since grand jury report
As pope begins summit, Rozzi addresses reporters in Rome
Allentown Diocese announces plans to compensate clergy sex abuse victims
Lawsuit alleges Diocese returned pedophile Carbon County priest to service
Agreement reached to settle lawsuit alleging Diocese returned pedophile Carbon County priest to service
Rep. Mark Rozzi Diocese Of Allentown
Tom Rader
Tom Rader

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Bill aims to open window for adult sex abuse lawsuits

Associated Press

Dec. 26, 2019

By Ryan Tarinelli

Churches, youth groups and schools were hit by a tsunami of lawsuits in 2019 after New York gave survivors of childhood sexual abuse a one-year window to sue over allegations ordinarily barred by statutes of limitation.

Now, some lawmakers want to open the same window for people abused as adults, a move that could lay a pathway for people to file additional lawsuits against some high-profile men targeted in the #MeToo movement.

Sen. Brad Hoylman introduced the Adult Survivors Act this autumn, saying survivors of adult sex abuse deserve their day in court.

“For too long, justice has been out of reach for adult survivors of sexual crimes,” Hoylman said in a statement.

December 25, 2019

No. 4 story of 2019: Sioux City Diocese reveals list of 28 priests credibly accused of abusing minors

Sioux City Journal

Dec. 26, 2019

By Dave Dreeszen

For the first time in its history, the Diocese of Sioux City this year released a list of priests credibly accused of sexually abusing more than 100 children while serving the Northwest Iowa diocese.

Facing repeated calls from victims and advocacy groups to do so, diocese leaders said the disclosure aimed to "shine a light" on its own "shameful history."

"For some, today's release will be an important milestone in our healing," Bishop R. Walker Nickless said at a Feb. 25 news conference. "For others, it will reopen deep wounds, reviving their disturbing memories or those of their loved ones.

"However, I believe the Lord compels us to shine a light on this subject so we can together heal and send a clear message to victims: We believe you, we care about you."

For months, a Diocesan Review Board and the diocese's law firm reviewed priest files dating to the diocese's founding in 1902. The first accusation deemed credible occurred in 1948, and the most recent in 1995, said Review Board member Mark Prosser.

Nickless noted none of the 28 credibly accused priests currently serve in the ministry or are active with youth. At the time of the list's release, all but six were deceased, and the survivors have been stripped of their ability to give communion, celebrate Mass or represent themselves as priests, the bishop said.

Those credibly accused represent 5 percent of the estimated 515 priests who have served the diocese since it was established.

Backstory: Most Unanswered Doors

Seven Days

Dec. 25, 2019

By Molly Walsh

My editors call it a "door knock." But the simplicity of that term belies the courage it takes to walk up to a stranger's front door and rap on it — in hopes of getting a face-to-face interview with a subject who hangs up or doesn't answer the phone.

I found myself on a two-day "door knock" in September after Seven Days set out to locate the dozen surviving priests named on a list of 39 Vermont Catholic clergy credibly accused of sex abuse. Seven of them, as far as we could deduce, still lived in Vermont. We went to find them.

On the first day I teamed up with a colleague, Derek Brouwer, and was happy to have a cocaptain on this difficult assignment. The awful details — questions about betrayals, guilt or innocence — were all in the mix.

Along with the emotional weight, there were logistical challenges. Some addresses were wrong. Or confusing. I drove, and Derek helped navigate. Together we talked through intercoms and pressed apartment buzzers that no one responded to. In one case we walked into a locked senior living building by scooting in behind a resident. We found our way to the unit we were looking for and knocked, but no one answered.

At a different address, we were about to leave after multiple knocks. Then the door opened a crack, and an old, frail man peeked through it. He was the ex-priest we were looking for, but he wouldn't comment. On one level, it was a win to be able to pose the question to an actual human being; on another, given the man's aged state, the encounter was just sad and pathetic.

The next day Derek and I split up to maximize our remaining reporting time. He headed to Enosburgh. I set out for Glover in the Northeast Kingdom. I drove fast for the first hour and then had to slow down as I bumped over dirt roads. I passed old cemeteries, tall corn in the September sun, weathered barns, and flower beds full of zinnias and sunflowers. I remember thinking the day was too beautiful for this miserable mission.

Backstory: Most Unanswered Doors

Seven Days

Dec. 25, 2019

By Molly Walsh

My editors call it a "door knock." But the simplicity of that term belies the courage it takes to walk up to a stranger's front door and rap on it — in hopes of getting a face-to-face interview with a subject who hangs up or doesn't answer the phone.

I found myself on a two-day "door knock" in September after Seven Days set out to locate the dozen surviving priests named on a list of 39 Vermont Catholic clergy credibly accused of sex abuse. Seven of them, as far as we could deduce, still lived in Vermont. We went to find them.

On the first day I teamed up with a colleague, Derek Brouwer, and was happy to have a cocaptain on this difficult assignment. The awful details — questions about betrayals, guilt or innocence — were all in the mix.

Along with the emotional weight, there were logistical challenges. Some addresses were wrong. Or confusing. I drove, and Derek helped navigate. Together we talked through intercoms and pressed apartment buzzers that no one responded to. In one case we walked into a locked senior living building by scooting in behind a resident. We found our way to the unit we were looking for and knocked, but no one answered.

At a different address, we were about to leave after multiple knocks. Then the door opened a crack, and an old, frail man peeked through it. He was the ex-priest we were looking for, but he wouldn't comment. On one level, it was a win to be able to pose the question to an actual human being; on another, given the man's aged state, the encounter was just sad and pathetic.

The next day Derek and I split up to maximize our remaining reporting time. He headed to Enosburgh. I set out for Glover in the Northeast Kingdom. I drove fast for the first hour and then had to slow down as I bumped over dirt roads. I passed old cemeteries, tall corn in the September sun, weathered barns, and flower beds full of zinnias and sunflowers. I remember thinking the day was too beautiful for this miserable mission.

‘Counting On’: Why 1 Member of the Duggars’ Religious Organization Wasn’t Surprised by Josh Duggar’s Sexual Abuse Scandal

Show Biz Cheat Sheet blog

Dec. 25, 2019

By Julia Mullaney

The Duggar family has been on television since 2008. Their reality show, 19 Kids and Counting, documented the life of Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar as they raised their nearly-20 children.

However, a disturbing sexual abuse scandal involving Josh Duggar, the oldest Duggar child, was leaked in 2015; the fallout caused the Duggar’s show to be canceled and replaced with Counting On. But one member of the family’s organization says she wasn’t surprised by Josh’s incident. Here’s why.

Back in the early 2000s, Josh Duggar admitted to sexually abusing several girls, most of whom were his own sisters. When Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar were made aware of the incidents, Jim Bob consulted with the family’s church about the best option for Josh. Josh was eventually enrolled in a church-related program, which seemed to both help and punish the teenager, as the program consisted of physical labor as well as counseling.

In 2015, several years after the Duggars’ reality show premiered, a police report was obtained by InTouch, which leaked the entire story. That same year, Josh also admitted to having a pornography addiction and to being unfaithful to his wife, Anna.

The Duggars are affiliated with ATI, which is a strict Christian organization. Advance Training Institute, or ATI, is a Christian homeschool organization whose members live all over the United States. Michelle Duggar has used this homeschool program on the kids in the past; the program values religion heavily in terms of education. It’s no secret that Michelle and Jim Bob have raised their children with strict religious beliefs and values, but one former ATI member says that it isn’t a surprise that Josh was sexually abusing young girls — and ATI is the reason it doesn’t come as a shock.

Michigan AG Releases Preliminary Numbers in Investigation into Clergy Abuse, SNAP Applauds AG Effort

Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests

Dec. 23, 2019

Yet another secular investigation into clergy abuse has uncovered more crimes than have been revealed by church officials. Most damning of all is the fact that at least twenty five priests that were found to be abusive were still working in active ministry in Michigan.

This means that children and the vulnerable were actively at risk and would have remained at risk if it were not for the efforts of Michigan AG Dana Nessel and her team. We are incredibly grateful for their work and know that they have prevented more children from being abused. Thanks to these dedicated law enforcement officials, communities in Michigan are safer and more informed.

Through her investigation, AG Nessel uncovered 40% more cases of abusive priests than had previously been known to the public. According to the AG, she has received more than 640 tips on her hotline which helped her identify 270 priests accused of abuse that involve at least 552 victims. The attorney general also said that she expects to have identified “several thousand” victims by the time her probe is complete. We believe that she is correct and hope that she will keep her hotline open for as long as possible. When victims start to be believed and action is taken against the people who abused them or covered the crimes, those victims will be more empowered to come forward and report their abuse.

Washington Post publishes secret report on ex-W.Va. bishop accused of abuse, financial misconduct

Associated Press

Dec. 24, 2019

By Dale Sparks

A newspaper has published a secret church report about a former West Virginia bishop ousted for alleged sexual and financial misconduct that details how he allegedly groomed and inappropriately touched young men.

The Washington Post reports law enforcement does not have a copy of the report, which officials said could aid in their investigation into former bishop Michael Bransfield.

The Post said it received a copy of the 60-page report in June and has previously reported its contents. Bransfield is also accused of spending church funds on dining out, liquor, personal travel and luxury items, as well as personal gifts to fellow bishops and cardinals in the U.S. and Vatican.

Bransfield resigned in September 2018 amid allegations of sexual and financial misconduct. Earlier this year, Pope Francis barred Bransfield from public ministry and prohibited him from living in the diocese.

Mexico: Legion of Christ victims criticize sex abuse report

Associated Press

Dec. 24, 2019

By Maria Verza

Victims of sexual abuse by priests from the Legion of Christ in Mexico sharply criticized an internal report on pedophilia released over the weekend.

Victims called the report incomplete, saying Monday that it is missing some victims and does not denounce those who covered up for abuses, allowing them to continue.

“It is a small report. We have no idea about its foundations. We do not know where they get the numbers from nor how they did the investigation,” said Ana Lucía Salazar, a 36-year-old TV presenter who says she was abused by a Legionnaire when she was 8 years old at a school in Cancun.

“It is tainted and weakened because the victims of (Legion of Christ founder) Marcial Maciel alone were more than 120, and they do not name those who covered it up or were complicit,” Salazar said.

The report made public Saturday identified 33 priests and 71 seminarians accused of sexually abusing minors since the Legion of Christ was founded nearly eight decades ago.

It said 175 people were victimized by priests, including 60 by the late Maciel. But it did not specify the number abused by seminarians, though it did show there was a multigenerational chain of abuse with victims later becoming abusers.

New Orleans archdiocese's list of credibly accused clergy grows by one name

NOLA. com

Dec. 24, 2019

By Ramon Antonio Vargas

A Catholic priest who held a prominent position with the Salesians of Don Bosco before being convicted of raping boys at a Massachusetts camp has been added to a list of clergy who served in the New Orleans area and are suspected of molesting minors.

Richard McCormick was assigned to St. Rosalie Parish in Harvey from 1991 to 1992, two decades after his 1970 ordination, according to the watchdog website bishopaccountability.org.

He’s been accused of sexual molestation and other misconduct during a time period before, as well as after, his time at St. Rosalie. He was added to Archbishop Gregory Aymond's list of credibly-accused clergy under a section naming priests who served within the Archdiocese of New Orleans and were faced with abuse allegations elsewhere.

Archbishop Aymond in November 2018 first disclosed the names of 57 clergymen in the New Orleans Archdiocese who were removed from ministry over claims of child sex abuse that the local church deemed credible. That roster was issued months after the Catholic Church’s long-running clergy abuse crisis was reignited in the wake of reports exposing numerous undisclosed cases involving priests and other religious personnel across the country.

Aymond’s list has been revised a handful of times. The addition of McCormick brings the number of names to 64.

December 24, 2019

Investigative Report into Disgraced Bishop Michael Bransfield Released by Washington Post, not Church Officials

Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests

Dec. 23, 2019

A report into allegations of abuse and financial impropriety against a disgraced West Virginia bishop has been released by the Washington Post. We applaud the journalists for the steadfast efforts to force the transparency that church officials have long promised but continuously fail to deliver.

The report into the crimes committed by former Bishop Michael Bransfield was commissioned by church officials themselves but they have fought off requests to make the document public, arguing that they “didn’t have access.” It is difficult to believe that church officials did not have a copy of the investigative report that they paid more than $500,000 for, continuing the trend of church officials refusing to release details about crimes that could help protect children and prevent more abuse from occurring in the future. It is incredibly disturbing that a diocese would fund this investigation, likely using monies donated by parishioners, and then claim that they don’t have a copy to release to those parishioners.

Sadly, we are not surprised at this outcome.

Letter to California AG Regarding Loophole Keeping Children in Danger

Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests

Dec. 23, 2019

Dear AG Becerra,

A lawsuit was recently settled between a Catholic high school and a survivor who was a student at the time of her abuse. The perpetrator was a lay teacher named Jeffrey Hicks. We call your attention to this matter because it highlights a number of contemporary failures that we hope your office will investigate and remedy.

First, although the abuse was reported when it occurred, the mandatory reporters at Presentation High School in the Diocese of San Jose failed to act. Instead, they apparently undertook an internal investigation and pressured the victim to not make a police report. If this was not bad enough, the school allowed Mr. Hicks to participate as the director of a performing arts camp after the victim’s outcry, telling her family that $65,000 had already been collected for the camp and would have to be returned otherwise. If that were to occur, the school said it would be “impossible” to protect the identity of the survivor. The teacher was then quietly let go at the end of the summer.

Second, the abuser was employed by a Catholic school within the Diocese of San Jose, but was not a clergyman. The diocese has published a list of abusive priests but does not acknowledge or name lay employees or nuns who have been accused of abuse, either those who abused at Presentation or those who abused at Bellarmine College Preparatory, also within the territory of the Diocese of San Jose. The Diocese of Santa Rosa follows the same playbook; although Hanna Boys Center is a Catholic facility within the diocese and the Santa Rosa bishop sits on its board, lay employees who have abused are not named on the Santa Rosa list.

Sex abuse lawsuits spread beyond Catholic Church to other denominations

The Buffalo News

December 22, 2019

By Jay Tokasz

A second woman has accused a former religious education director at a Lutheran church in the Town of Tonawanda of sexually abusing her when she was a child in the late 1970s.

Kelly L. Klose, 54, alleged in a lawsuit that Bruce Connolly abused her from 1976 to 1979, when she was 11 to 14 and attended First Trinity Lutheran Church on Niagara Falls Boulevard.

“It’s not just a sexual abuse. It’s a betrayal,” said attorney Steve Boyd, who represents Klose.

Boyd said his client has had a difficult life and that “all the rough parts” of it sprung from the relationship with Connolly, who groomed Klose to gain her trust and then preyed on her for years.

A vast majority of the more than 310 Child Victims Act lawsuits in Western New York are against Catholic Church entities, primarily the Buffalo Diocese. But child molesters operate in a wide range of denominations, religious groups and other organizations, and lawsuits filed last week in Erie County State Supreme Court bore that out, as four of the seven cases had nothing to do with the Catholic Church.

Marcial Maciel: Mexican founder Legionaries of Christ 'abused 60 minors'

BBC News

December 22, 2019

At least 60 children were abused by Marcial Maciel, founder of the ultra-conservative Catholic order Legionaries of Christ, an investigation has found.

The report, published by the Roman Catholic group, said 33 priests in the order abused at least 175 minors since it was founded in 1941.

In 2006, Maciel was ordered to retire to a life of penitence after years of allegations of sexual abuse of minors.

He died two years later at the age of 87 without facing his accusers.

"There are probably more cases of abuse than those in the report and the statistics will have to be updated regularly," the report said.

It added that a process of "reparation and reconciliation" had begun with 45 of the victims.

Vatican office struggles to keep up with clergy abuse cases

Associated Press

December 20, 2019

By Nicole Winfield

The Vatican office responsible for processing clergy sex abuse complaints has seen a record 1,000 cases reported from around the world this year, including from countries it had not heard from before — suggesting that the worst may be yet to come in a crisis that has plagued the Roman Catholic Church.

Nearly two decades after the Vatican assumed responsibility for reviewing all cases of abuse, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith is today overwhelmed, struggling with a skeleton staff that hasn’t grown at pace to meet the four-fold increase in the number of cases arriving in 2019 compared to a decade ago.

“I know cloning is against Catholic teaching, but if I could actually clone my officials and have them work three shifts a day or work seven days a week,” they might make the necessary headway, said Monsignor John Kennedy, the head of the congregation’s discipline section, which processes the cases.

Christians combat sexual abuse with solid advice, real-world examples

Christian Chronicle

December 23, 2019

By Steve Black

It is easy to find those who will stand against abuse.

It is far more challenging to convince others of how the abuse may occur — and who we should be aware of. Most of us are not wired with that level of evil creativity.

In “Protecting Your Child From Predators,” Beth Robinson and Latayne C. Scott have created an extremely practical guide for families. The book shows parents how abuse may occur at various age levels — and what they can teach their children to help make them safer. They emphasize creating a “warrior heart” in your child that empowers them by giving them age-appropriate information and the power to speak up if anyone crosses a boundary with them or others.

It's time to investigate Jehovah Witnesses sex crimes, says Belfast abuse victim

Belfast Telegraph

December 24, 2019

By Christopher Woodhouse

A WOMAN has called for an inquiry into sex crimes by Jehovah's Witnesses after her Bible study class abuser was sentenced for subjecting her to years of abuse.

Laura Waring, who has bravely waived her right to anonymity, revealed she's been contacted by other people who say they were also victims of abusers in the church.

The church has been dogged internationally by sex scandals involving alleged abusers and major public inquiry was held into allegations in Australia.

Clergy sex abuse whistleblower bolsters ‘Sully Movement’

The St. Catharines Standard

December 22, 2019

By Paul Forsyth

James Faluszczak, a former priest who says he was molested as a teen, joins protesters outside Welland church

James Faluszczak was wearing a dark hoodie with the words 'defend the defenseless' on it.

Perhaps spandex would have been more suitable.

"James is a superhero without a cape," said William O'Sullivan, a man whose once-lonely weekly vigils outside Welland's St. Kevin Catholic church where he was sexually assaulted as a boy over a period of several years has grown to become known as the 'Sully Movement.'

Dozens of people were there with him Sunday, holding signs demanding action by the Catholic church on the blight of sexual abuse by priests such as Donald Grecco, a convicted sex offender who targeted O'Sullivan.

Former Catholic deacon charged with rape makes bail, report says


December 23, 2019

Brignac was removed from the Catholic Church after several sexual abuse allegations against him surfaced.

A former Catholic deacon charged with raping a child in the 1980s has posted bail and is expected to be released later today.

According to a report from our partners at NOLA.com/The New Orleans Advocate, George Brignac, obtained a surety bond from Miss Janie's Bail Bonds in Marrero on Saturday afternoon and will be released Monday.

Brignac, 84, pleaded not guilty to first-degree rape on Dec. 13 and has been held in New Orleans' jail ever since. His bail was set at $1 million. If convicted, he faces a mandatory lifetime sentence.

Brignac's lawyer did not say what assets Brignac of his family provided to obtain the bond. Normally, a bond that large would cost $120,000 in cash.

Victim Struggles to Heal After Sexual Abuse by Salesian Priest

The Epoch Times

December 24, 2019

By Chris Karr

In the fall of 1969, Joey Piscitelli, who had recently turned 14 years old, entered Salesian High School in Richmond, California. He quickly caught the eye of the vice principal, Father Stephen Whelan, who invited him to play a game of pool at the Salesian Boys’ Club on the school’s campus.

“I thought it was a really big deal that he wanted to play pool with me,” Piscitelli recalled.

But the game took a disturbing turn after Whelan asked Piscitelli to take the first shot. After he did so, Joey turned around and saw that his vice principal was touching himself.

Cardinal (92) who ‘sought deal’ to bury sex abuse documents resigns

Irish Times

December 21, 2019

By Patsy McGarry

Mary McAleese described encounter with Angelo Sodano as ‘devastating moment’

Pope Francis on Saturday accepted the resignation of one of the most controversial figures at the Vatican, Cardinal Angelo Sodano (92), Dean of the College of Cardinals for the past 15 years.

He had been Vatican Secretary of State from 1990 until 2005 and succeeded then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger (now retired Pope Benedict XVI) as Dean of the College of Cardinals in 2005.

The Vatican said Cardinal Sodano was stepping down “because of his advanced age”.

Vatican office overwhelmed by clergy sex abuse complaints

Associated Press

December 21, 2019

The Vatican office responsible for processing clergy sex abuse complaints has seen a record 1,000 cases reported from around the world this year, including from countries it had not heard from before — suggesting that the worst may be yet to come in a crisis that has plagued the Roman Catholic Church.

Nearly two decades after the Vatican assumed responsibility for reviewing all cases of abuse, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith is today overwhelmed, struggling with a skeleton staff that hasn’t grown at pace to meet the four-fold increase in the number of cases arriving in 2019 compared to a decade ago.

“I know cloning is against Catholic teaching, but if I could actually clone my officials and have them work three shifts a day or work seven days a week,” they might make the necessary headway, said Monsignor John Kennedy, the head of the congregation’s discipline section, which processes the cases.

Sex abuse response, entity transitions top 2019 SBC stories

Baptist Press

December 23, 2019

Southern Baptists marked a year of transitions at several national entities in 2019, and they launched an initiative to help churches care for individuals affected by sexual abuse and harassment.

These 10 news stories, selected by both the editors of Baptist Press and a poll of Southern Baptist state publication editors, represent their picks as the most important stories of 2019.

Churches can be safety net, but focus is on preventing sexual abuse

The Meridian Star.com

December 21, 2019

By Cheryl Owens

Faith communities can be a safety net for protecting children from abuse or neglect.

Missions strategist John Maxey, with the Lauderdale County Baptist Association, said churches, no matter the denomination, can be proactive in preventing any type of child abuse.

Most of the attention, however, is devoted to preventing sexual abuse by people working in ministries.

Court finds Mormon church blocked southern Alberta police investigation into sex abuse of young girls in 1980s

CBC News

December 24, 2019

By Meghan Grant

Lethbridge judge convicted 51-year-old man on 2 counts of sex assault

More than 30 years ago, the Mormon church participated in the cover-up of the sexual assault of several young girls in southern Alberta, instructing the abuser not to go to police, according to an Alberta judge who has rendered a decision in the case.

These findings are laid out in the decision of Lethbridge Justice Johnna Kubik, who convicted the now 51-year-old man on two counts of sexual assault.

The abuse took place over a seven-year period between 1986 and 1993 when his victims were between the ages of eight and 13 years old.

Catholic Church admits moving paedophile Jesuit brother interstate after complaints of sexual abuse


December 24, 2019

The Catholic Church has admitted it shifted a paedophile Jesuit brother from a prestigious Adelaide school to another in Sydney, despite multiple complaints about his offending.

Australian Jesuit provincial Father Brian McCoy has announced the findings of an independent review into the movement of Victor Higgs in 1970 from Saint Ignatius' College, in Athelstone, to Riverview in Sydney.

The former Victorian chief justice Marilyn Warren was appointed to undertake the review in 2018.

Her review found at least three complains were made to the then-rector of Saint Ignatius' College in Athelstone, Father Frank Wallace SJ, regarding Higgs's conduct.

Ex-pastor of Medford church can’t withdraw guilty plea in child sex abuse case

Associated Press

December 23, 2019

A former pastor who co-founded a Christian music festival has lost his bid to withdraw his guilty plea in a child sex abuse case.

Harry Thomas, 76, had argued that his plea was invalid because his testimony had not established an adequate factual basis for four charges against him.

Report by Cheshire-based Legion of Christ reveals its former leader molested at least 60 children

Hartford Courant

December 23, 2019

By Dave Altimari

An internal investigation by the Cheshire-based Legion of Christ has identified 175 victims of sexual assault by priests, including 60 victims of the now-disgraced founder of the order and one victim who still has a lawsuit pending in Connecticut.

The 25-page report released on Dec. 21 is short on details of who the abusive priests were but draws a direct connection between the Rev. Marcial Maciel and the trail of abuse he left behind. In addition to secretly fathering at least three children himself, several of those that he abused became abusers themselves.

“It is worth noting that 111 of the victims were either victims of Father Maciel or were victims of his victims or of a victim of one of his victims. This represents 63.43% of the 175 victims of priests in the Congregation,” the report said.

Bransfield’s Spending Spree Detailed in Report

News Register

Dec. 24, 2019

Disgraced former bishop Michael Bransfield regularly abused prescription drugs and alcohol, which “likely contributed to his harassing and abusive behavior,” according to a secret report commissioned by the Roman Catholic Church.

Also during Bransfield’s 12-year tenure as bishop, the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston spent $187 million more than it took in, causing the former bishop to draw from the diocese’s endowment and mineral rights account to make up the deficit, according to the report.

The Washington Post released the entire 60-page Bransfield report Monday. The newspaper obtained a copy of the document in June.

The report, labeled “privileged and confidential,” was submitted on Feb. 21 to Archbishop William E. Lori of Baltimore by the firm of Zuckerman Spaeder LLP.

Factual findings in the report include:

* “By failing to take any action, the chancery monsignors enabled the predatory and harassing conduct of Bishop Bransfield, and allowed him to recklessly spend diocesan funds for his own personal use. Further, independent, qualified lay and clergy board members should be selected to serve appropriate advisory roles in connection with actions taken by diocesan-related entities and should receive support for their proper functions.”

December 23, 2019

Nessel: Probe finds abuse allegations against 270 priests involving 552 victims

Detroit News

Dec. 23, 2019

Beth LeBlanc

Attorney General Dana Nessel plans to announce charges against two more priests after the first of the year and is reviewing two additional warrants related to the investigation into clergy abuse in the Catholic Church in Michigan.

Seven priests have been charged, two of whom have pleaded guilty, in the wide-ranging investigation that so far has included 1.5 million seized paper documents and 3.5 million electronic documents. The information has been reviewed by 32 volunteers who put in over 1,400 hours at night and on weekends, Nessel said Monday.

The department has received 641 tips on its clergy abuse hotline, identified 270 priests alleged to be abusers and received allegations involving 552 victims of clergy sexual abuse, Nessel said. She estimated the department would identify “several thousand” victims by the end of the investigation.

“The vast majority of the cases can’t be prosecuted based on the statute of limitations issues,” Nessel said.

“I hope that part of this investigation is really sort of a thorough vetting of what can be done in the future so that we can address these types of concerns earlier and better,” she said.

Ultra-Conservative Catholic Order Admits Its Founder Sexually Abused 60 Kids

Patheos blog

Dec. 23, 2019

By David Gee

An ultra-conservative Roman Catholic order admitted that its founder sexually abused 60 different children, and that 115 other minors were likewise abused since the inception of the institute.

Legionaries of Christ, founded in Mexico in 1941, said in a report that 33 priests had abused 175 different kids over the years since it started operations. Keep in mind that these types of internal investigations often underestimate the true numbers of credible allegations.

Marcial Maciel Degollado was ordered to retire in 2006 based on child sex abuse allegations.

He died two years later at the age of 87 without facing his accusers.

“There are probably more cases of abuse than those in the report and the statistics will have to be updated regularly,” the report said.

It added that a process of “reparation and reconciliation” had begun with 45 of the victims.

Because the founder of this order has been dead for more than 10 years, he has never truly been held accountable for what he did. As is often the case, this report focuses mostly on misconduct from the distant past.

Arbitrator awards $75,000 to Mass. man who made sex abuse claim against former principal at South Boston Catholic school

Boston Globe

December 19, 2019

By Danny McDonald

An arbitrator has awarded a Massachusetts man $75,000 in a legal dispute with the Archdiocese of Boston, after the man alleged that the principal at a now-shuttered South Boston Catholic school sexually abused him as a child during the 1980s and 1990s. Five more men have also come forward with allegations of sexual abuse against the same administrator.

The arbitrator found that the man “suffered physical injuries and emotional injuries as a result of physical abuse.” The arbitration award was announced over the summer, and five other men have alleged that Paul Doty, who was working at the time as principal at St. Augustine Elementary School, a K-8 institution that has since closed, sexually molested them. Doty was not a priest.

The Archdiocese, in a statement this week, said it generally does not comment on or even acknowledge individual settlements and does not comment upon the specifics of any allegation. A spokesman did say the Archdiocese did notify law enforcement with regards to the case “as we do with all sexual abuse allegations.”

“Furthermore we encourage any victim to do the same either directly to law enforcement or through the Archdiocesan allegations,” the spokesman said in an e-mail.

Attempts to reach Doty, who is believed to still be alive, were unsuccessful this week.

In the case that was settled, Doty allegedly abused the victim, a 38-year-old man who grew up in South Boston and still lives in Massachusetts, about 20 times between 1989 and 1994, when he was between 8-years-old and 13-years-old, said the man’s attorney, Mitchell Garabedian. The victim attended St. Augustine’s as a student, and Doty, the principal of the school at the time, would engage him in wrestling matches that included inappropriate sexual touching, the victim said this week during a phone interview.

“Headlocks turned into rolling around the floor and leg locks and he would be aroused during a lot of this, I didn’t know how to make sense of that when I was that age,” he said. “I was too embarrassed to talk about it.”

He added, “It never escalated, it never went beyond this really inappropriate, weird wrestling.”

The victim wished to remain anonymous, and the Globe typically does not name sex abuse victims.

Of the arbitration award, the victim said, “It’s hard for me to say exactly what it represented.” In coming forward, he said he was interested in “making sure this wasn’t continuing to happen.”

Garabedian, who has represented thousands of sex abuse victims, said his client, was “a courageous survivor who by coming forward is speaking on behalf of other victims and making the world a safer place for children.”

Garabedian said the claim was filed as part of the archdiocese’s compensation program. As part of that program, a person notifies the archdiocese of their claim, counsel for the archdiocese then asks for records, and archdiocesan attorneys and an investigator interview the person who has made the claim, with the claimant’s attorney present, according to Garabedian.

The archdiocese then determines whether the allegations are credible or not, he said. In this case, they found the allegations to be credible and the matter went before an arbitrator to determine the financial award, Garabedian said.

Five other alleged victims, men in their 30s and 40s who were students at St. Augustine’s , have also made civil claims alleging Doty sexually abused claims them, according to redacted documents provided to the Globe. Those individuals allege Doty sexually molested them and claim their injuries include feelings of isolation, helplessness and shame. Some alleged that Doty ruined a part of their life, created an emotional void, or stole their childhood, according to their claims.

One victim alleged that as a result of being sexually molested by Doty his injuries included “sleep problems; concentration problems; shame; guilt; crying; depression; apathy; embarrassment; flashbacks; reminders; feeling dirty, damaged, and used.”

The allegations date back to the late 1980s and early to mid-1990s, and five of the claims detailing such accusations are currently going through the settlement process, according to Garabedian. Of the six who have accused Doty of sexual abuse, four went to law enforcement with their allegations but were told the state’s criminal statute of limitations prevented prosecution, said Garabedian.

St. Augustine Elementary School, where Doty was principal from 1987 to 1999, closed in 2003, with church officials citing mounting debts, declining enrollment, and $33,000 in needed repairs as the driving factors behind its shuttering. Its closure came amid a financial crisis for the archdiocese, partly caused by the fallout from the clergy sex abuse scandal. The fiscal pinch forced the church to reduce parish subsidies and close schools that it could no longer support.

Doty was also a principal at the now-defunct Charlestown Catholic Elementary School between 1999 and 2001 and taught at St. Patrick School in Roxbury for a decade starting in 1977, said Garabedian. Charlestown Catholic closed in 2003. After 2003, Doty also worked at Catholic schools in Ohio, Kentucky, and Alabama.

Judge denies request to reduce bond for local priest arrested on child porn charges


Dec. 23, 2019

By Talia Naquin

A judge has denied a request to reduce the bond of a local priest who was arrested earlier this month on child pornography charges.

Father Robert McWilliams was arrested Dec. 5 at St. Joseph Parish in Strongsville.

He is facing several charges, including three counts of illegal use of a minor in nudity-oriented material or performance.

An assistant Cuyahoga County prosecutor says there are allegations in Geauga County that the priest posed as a stranger to extort children into sending him nude videos and pictures.

McWilliams, who remains held in the Cuyahoga County jail, has entered not guilty pleas.

Rochester diocese: Secret clergy sex abuse files could come out during bankruptcy

Rochester Democrat and Chronicle

December 23, 2019

By Steve Orr

The diocese has received claims from 220 people who said they'd been victimized by local priests.
Lawyers say there are ways to bring about transparency in the diocese’s bankruptcy case.
The diocese initially asked all abuse-related paperwork relevant to the bankruptcy be filed under seal.

Saying they feared one more cover-up by church leaders, sexual abuse victims howled in protest when the Roman Catholic Diocese of Rochester filed for bankruptcy protection in September.

The bankruptcy process, they said, would enable the diocese to dodge victims’ accusations and keep damning internal records from public view.

As if to prove the point, the diocese's lawyers initially asked that all abuse-related paperwork relevant to the bankruptcy be filed under seal.

"Bishop Salvatore Matano’s choice is simply … an attempt to prevent the truth from being revealed," declared Jeffrey Anderson, a Minnesota lawyer known for his spirited pursuit of child sex-abuse perpetrators.

But that may not have been the last word.

No ‘Magic Bullets’ in the Fight Against Online Abuse, but ‘Spiders’ Help

The New York Times

December 22, 2019

By Gabriel J.X. Dance

Sexual predators have grown increasingly adept at using the internet to share and view child sexual abuse photos and videos. Some have computer-programming skills and have deployed sophisticated defenses against efforts to take them down.

But the predators don’t have free rein on the internet, thanks to nearly four dozen child protection hotlines around the world, which act as a first line of defense against the explosion of imagery.

The hotlines play a central role in getting tech companies, websites and others to address the content. When the hotlines become aware of an illegal image, they issue a notice to have it removed. They may also notify law enforcement officials, who can launch a criminal investigation and try to rescue the abused child.

Fighting the Good Fight Against Online Child Sexual Abuse

The New York Times

December 22, 2019

By Gabriel J.X. Dance

Several websites popular with sexual predators were thwarted last month after a determined campaign by groups dedicated to eliminating the content. It was a rare victory in an unending war.

In late November, the moderator of three highly trafficked websites posted a message titled “R.I.P.” It offered a convoluted explanation for why they were left with no choice but to close.

The unnamed moderator thanked over 100,000 “brothers” who had visited and contributed to the sites before their demise, blaming an “increasingly intolerant world” that did not allow children to “fully express themselves.”

In fact, forums on the sites had been bastions of illegal content almost since their inception in 2012, containing child sexual abuse photos and videos, including violent and explicit imagery of infants and toddlers.

Uber Must Pay $4.4 Million To Settle Sexual Harassment Case

Huffington Post

December 18, 2019

By Lydia O’Connor

The agreement with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission follows an investigation sparked by a former employee’s scathing blog post.

Ride-hailing company Uber agreed Wednesday to hand over $4.4 million in a settlement with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which has been investigating sexual harassment and retaliation at the company since 2017.

The sum will go into a class fund compensating anyone the EEOC finds experienced such treatment at the San Francisco-based company since 2014.

Pope Francis fury: Vatican leader issues warning as religion being ‘denied and derided’


December 23, 2019

By Charlie Bradley

POPE FRANCIS has endured growing criticism from conservative figures in the Catholic Church as a result of his progressive papacy, but he made a statement of defiance on Saturday as he condemned his “rigid” opponents in the Vatican, accusing them of creating “hatred.”

In his message, Pope Francis warned faith is declining and the Church must adapt to ensure its message reaches people from all walks of life. He said: “Today we are no longer the only ones that produce culture, no longer the first nor the most listened to. “The faith in Europe and in much of the West is no longer an obvious presumption but is often denied, derided, marginalised and ridiculed.

“Here we have to beware of the temptation of assuming a rigid outlook. Rigidity that is born from fear of change and ends up disseminating stakes and obstacles in the ground of the common good, turning it into a minefield of misunderstanding and hatred.”

The statement comes amid persisting divisions in the Catholic Church, with conservative critics questioning the revolutionary papacy of Francis.

Influential figures in the Catholic Church have called out the Pope for allegedly promoting “idolatrous worship” for symbols of fertility after pan-Amazon bishops visited the Vatican in October.

A Chicago Psychiatric Hospital Is Under Fire After Child Abuse Allegations. Again.

ProPublica Illinois

December 18, 2019

By Duaa Eldeib

A new lawsuit calls Chicago Lakeshore a “hospital of horrors,” where children as young as 7 were allegedly sexually abused and others were injected with sedatives and physically attacked — all while officials covered it up.

A federal lawsuit filed Wednesday by the Cook County public guardian alleged that children as young as 7 were sexually abused, while others were injected with sedatives to control them and physically attacked, at a Chicago psychiatric hospital. Child welfare officials, meanwhile, allegedly worked with the hospital to cover up the abuse.

Charles Golbert, the Cook County public guardian, filed the lawsuit on behalf of seven children who are in the care of the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services and who had been involuntarily admitted to Chicago Lakeshore Hospital in 2017 and 2018.

“These kids are entitled to justice for what happened to them at this facility,” Golbert said in an interview Wednesday. “DCFS knew perfectly well about all of the problems and dangers at this hospital.”

Allison Mack will serve 'a substantial amount of time' in prison for role in Nxivm sex cult, lawyer says

Yahoo Celebrity

December 18, 2019

By Taryn Ryder

For victims and their families affected by the Nxivm sex cult, 2019 was a year of reckoning.

In June, Keith Raniere was found guilty of sex trafficking, racketeering and other felonies related to the self-help group he co-founded and its secret cult after weeks of explosive testimony. Within Nxivm was a "sorority" called "DOS," short for Dominus Obsequious Sororium, or Master Over Slave Women. Months prior, Smallville actress Allison Mack admitted to being a member and founding the women-branding group. Mack, who prosecutors say was one of Nxivm's highest-ranking members, pleaded guilty to racketeering conspiracy and racketeering. As part of her guilty plea, Mack admitted to state law extortion and forced labor.

While Raniere is behind bars, Mack is out on bail awaiting sentencing — but it's likely she will spend time in prison.

"Allison Mack is facing a total of 40 years maximum confinement time in the two charges she plead guilty to in federal court," Silva Megerditchian, criminal defense attorney and CEO of Los Angeles-based SLM Law, tells Yahoo Entertainment. "At this stage, sentencing has been delayed, likely for both sides to put together a sentencing memorandum for the judge."

"The Environment Was Very Toxic": Nudity, a Graphic Photo and the Untold Story of Why Ruth Wilson Left 'The Affair'

Hollywood Reporter

December 18, 2019

By Bryn Elise Sandberg, Kim Masters

The actress shocked fans of her Showtime drama when she suddenly quit the role that earned her a Golden Globe, then said she wasn't allowed to say why. Now, insiders reveal a complex situation that involved complaints of a hostile work environment, Lena Dunham, and a director and showrunner who sparked a formal investigation.
In the summer of 2018, actress Ruth Wilson stunned fans and the television industry at large when she abruptly left The Affair, the Emmy-nominated Showtime drama in which she starred, with no explanation.

Days after her departure, the actress embarked on an awkward press tour for an upcoming film. Asked repeatedly about her mysterious exit from the show, she would only drop baiting hints. "It isn't about pay parity, and it wasn't about other jobs, [but] I'm not really allowed to talk about it," she told The New York Times in August 2018, urging the reporter to contact showrunner Sarah Treem: "There is a much bigger story."

That bigger story, it turns out, is much like the Rashomon-style narrative of the show itself, which explored different character perspectives on the same events and let the audience decide who might be the unreliable narrator. The Hollywood Reporter interviewed many of those involved in Wilson's exit and the events that precipitated it. Many say Wilson, who is restrained by an NDA, had long wanted to leave the show because of ongoing frustrations with the nudity required of her, friction with Treem over the direction of her character, and what she ultimately felt was a "hostile work environment," later the subject of a previously unreported 2017 investigation by Showtime parent company CBS.

Predator priest in Central Africa: 'Salesians deceived us'

La Croix International

December 17, 2019

By Lucie Sarr

The Belgian Salesian province withheld information on pedophile priest, says president of the country's Catholic bishops' conference

Bishop Nestor-Désiré Nongo-Aziagbia heads the Diocese of Bossangoa, in the north-west Central African Republic, and serves as president of the country's Catholic bishops' conference.

Jesuits to name priests credibly accused of sex crimes

Manitoulin Expositor

Dec. 23, 2019

Jesuits of Canada made a historic announcement last week which will further the healing for Canadian victims of sexual assault at the hands of Jesuits, including here on Manitoulin Island, when the religious order vowed to publish a list of all Jesuits who have been credibly accused of sexual assault since 1950.

“We hear the voice of the victims of childhood sexual abuse in Canada. Lists that provide the public with information about these men are important to healing. It is the right thing for us to do in the promotion of institutional transparency and accountability, an important step to help correct the causes of the crisis,” said Fr. Erik Oland, SJ, provincial of the Jesuits of Canada. “On behalf of the Jesuits, I apologize to the victims for the deep pain caused by Jesuits in the past.”

The Expositor contacted Jesuits of Canada following a Globe and Mail story that announced the development. Shortly thereafter, this newspaper received a statement and fact sheet from the organization in response to the Globe story.

Jesuits of Canada has enlisted King International Advisory Group, an independent auditor, to review all personnel and provincial files of Jesuits dating back to 1950. This will be used to create a list of all Jesuits in the organization’s service area (called a province), which includes all Canadian provinces and territories as well as Haiti.

Jesuits of Canada spokesperson José Sanchez told The Expositor that any priest who has been accused will be fully investigated back to the time they joined the order. The investigation will not be limited to 1950 and later; the province simply has not heard of any complaints before 1950.

Legionaries report 'chain of abuse' as victims went on to abuse others

Catholic News Service

Dec. 23, 2019

By Cindy Wooden

Demonstrating a strong "chain of abuse," the Legionaries of Christ said its founder, the late Father Marcial Maciel Degollado, sexually abused at least 60 minors and that at least another 51 youngsters were abused by Father Maciel's victims or victims of his victims.

The Rome-based headquarters of the Legionaries released a report Dec. 21 looking at the "phenomenon of abuse of minors" by members of the order from its founding in 1941 through December 2019.

At the same time, the Legionaries of Christ in the United States released the names of four members who had been "active in ministry" in the United States and against whom there were "substantiated sexual abuse allegations."

The commission that drafted the international report "identified 175 minors as victims of sexual abuse committed by 33 priests of the congregation" in the 78 years since the order's founding, according to "available records." The commission noted, however, that it "does not claim that its study could have discovered all cases" or that all victims have come forward.

"The vast majority of the victims were boys between the ages of 11 and 16," the report said.

December 22, 2019

Former Priest At Sinclairville Church Accused Of Sex Abuse

Post Journal

Dec. 23, 2019

By John Whittaker

A former priest at the St. John the Evangelist Roman Catholic Church in Sinclairville is the subject of a Child Victims Act lawsuit in state Supreme Court in Erie County.

The unnamed plaintiff alleges that Fr. Gerald Jasinski sexually assaulted, raped and committed battery against the child on May 17, 1969, in the rectory at St. John’s in Sinclairville.

“As a direct result of (Jasinski’s) conduct described herein, the plaintiff has suffered, and continues to suffer, great physical and emotional pain and suffering of mind and body, shock, emotional distress, physical manifestations of emotional distress, flashbacks, embarassment, loss of self-esteem, disgrace, humiliation, loss of faith and trust, and will incur expenses for medical psychological treatment, treatment and counseling.

Jasinski’s accuser, identified only as a West Seneca resident, alleges that Jasinski groomed relationships with children by spending time and attention on them, building trust and then abusing the youths. The accuser states Jasinski invited the plaintiff and two other youths to the St. John’s rectory in Sinclairville to fish and spend the night. Jasinski then allegedly gave the youth alcohol, directed him to a bed in the rectory and sexually abused the boy.

Bishop Tobin weighs in on sex abuse controversies


December 21, 2019

By Sarah Doiron


It’s been a challenging year for the Catholic Church in Rhode Island.

Scandal rocked the town of Bristol over the summer when David Barboza, a well-known administrator at St. Mary’s Church, was accused of child molestation.

Files indicate the church was aware of the allegations against Barboza but allegedly did not take action.

On this week’s episode of Newsmakers, Bishop Thomas Tobin spoke about Barboza’s case for the first time and claimed he couldn’t say much because he didn’t remember “too much of the details.”

Legionaires founder sexually abused 60 boys, religious order's report says


December 21, 2019

By Philip Pullella

Sexual abuse of minors was rife among superiors of the Legionaires of Christ Catholic religious order, with at least 60 boys abused by its founder Father Marcial Maciel, a report by the group showed.

The report is important because for decades until 2006, including during all of the pontificate of Pope John Paul, the Vatican dismissed accusations by seminarians that Maciel had abused them sexually, some when they were as young as 12.

The order said the report, which was released on Saturday and covers the period since Maciel founded it in his native Mexico in 1941 to this year, was “an additional attempt (by the Legionaires) to confront their history”.

Maciel, who died in 2008, was perhaps the Roman Catholic Church’s most notorious paedophile, even abusing children he had fathered secretly with at least two women while living a double life and being feted by the Vatican and Church conservatives.

Church sex abuse scandal deepens with La Plata priest’s suicide

Buenos Aires Times

December 22, 2019

The recent suicide of Eduardo Lorenzo and the alleged cover-up surrounding possible decades of abuse sparks renewed discussion about the crisis of the Catholic Church in Argentina and around the world.

Eduardo Lorenzo, an Argentine priest accused of a series of sexual abuses against children, committed suicide Monday, just hours after Judge Marcela Garmendia ordered his arrest.

The priest’s death renewed debates about the impact of the Catholic Church’s ongoing sex scandal and the inefficacy of attempted soutions thus far.

Monsignor John Kennedy, who runs the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith (CDF), the Vatican entity responsible for processing clergy sex abuse complaints, told the Associated Press his office received a record 1,000 denunciations this year, describing the congregation as “overwhelmed” by a “tsunami.”

Argentina has joined the United States as one of the countries sending the highest number of cases to CDF.

According to law enforcement sources, Lorenzo’s body was found at the La Plata offices of Caritas, the Catholic social services organisation where he worked and lived. They found him “on the floor,” with multiple “blood stains and a firearm.”

Is a Catholic ‘Victims’ Rights’ movement the next frontier in abuse reform?


December 22, 2019

By John L. Allen Jr.

For most of human history, when someone was accused of a crime, whatever passed for a trial to assess guilt was a simple affair: Victim v. Defendant. Unsurprisingly, such “trials” often boiled down to who was more powerful, wealthier or better connected, and had only a passing relationship to justice.

In the late 17th century, Enlightenment philosopher John Locke argued that the progress of civilization required the state to supplant the victim as the accusing party in a criminal trial, in order to ensure neutrality and fairness.

“All private judgment of every particular member being excluded, the community comes to be umpire, by settled standing rules, indifferent, and the same to all parties,” Locke wrote. “There, and there only, is a civil society.”

German Catholic bishops tighten up abuse guidelines

The Tablet

December 20, 2019

By Christa Pongratz-Lippitt

A sex abuse case in the German Catholic Church will also no longer be called a 'despicable act' but a 'crime'.

The German bishops have tightened up their sexual abuse guidelines, making them binding on all dioceses for the first time.

The German bishops' conference has announced the new guidelines will become law from 1 January next year and apply to the sexual abuse of minors and adults with special needs, such as people with disabilities, in the Church.

They will be published in each diocese’s official gazette. This is the first revision since 2013 and they will be reassessed again in five years’ time.

The Vatican-Centurion Global financial scandal: A CNA explainer

Catholic News Agency

December 21, 2019

By Michelle La Rosa

In recent weeks, CNA has been covering a Vatican financial scandal involving a multi-million-dollar investment fund, money donated by Catholics to support charity and Vatican ministries, and a pair of banks linked to money-laundering and bribery allegations.

The financial scandal is one of several unfolding at the Vatican, and covered by CNA. Having trouble keeping them straight? You’re not alone. This is the third in a series of CNA explainers, designed to help you keep track of the money trails in and out of the Vatican.

Here’s the Centurion Global scandal in a nutshell:

Centurion Global is an investment fund by which the Vatican Secretariat of State has invested tens of millions of dollars into Hollywood films, energy projects, and European startups. That investment, which has lost money while its managers have recouped millions in fees, involves fund managers connected to a Swiss bank that ran afoul of regulators and was shuttered - the same bank that partially financed a controversial London deal involving the Secretariat of State. The Centurion investment fund does its business with an unlikely pair of banks: both linked to a billion-dollar Venezuelan money laundering and bribery scandal. The Holy See announced earlier this month that the fund is under investigation.

Stories that shaped the decade: Catholic Church struggles with new revelations about priest abuse scandals and declining attendance

Hartford Courant

December 22, 2019

By Dave Altimari

Facing a declining number of Catholics attending Mass, the Catholic Church closed churches and struggled with new revelations about abusive priests during the past decade.

In 2016, the church announced plans to close or consolidate dozens of parishes, citing fewer registered Catholic households and a shortage of priests. Since 1965, the Hartford Archdiocese reported, there has been a 69% decline in church attendance.

Meanwhile, a grand jury investigation in Pennsylvania in 2018 that led to hundreds of priests being accused of abuse rekindled the sexual abuse scandal that rocked the Catholic Church in Connecticut and around the country more than a decade ago.

Looking back over the past decade, Courant editors and reporters have selected Connecticut’s top news stories. The continuing challenges facing the Catholic Church were among the stories that shaped the decade.

Complaints about pedophile priest ‘factor’ in decision to move him

The Australian

Dec. 23, 2019

By Nicola Berkovic

Complaints about a sadistic Catholic pedophile were “a factor” in a decision to move him from South Australia to NSW, where he went on to abuse boys at one of Sydney’s leading schools.

A long-awaited report by former Victorian Supreme Court chief justice Marilyn Warren has found that at least three complaints were made about serial offender and former Jesuit brother Victor Higgs before he was moved interstate.

The complaints were made to the then head of school and rector, Father Frank Wallace, regarding Higgs’s conduct at St Ignatius College in Athelstone, in Adelaide’s east, according to a summary of the report.

The substance of at least some of those complaints was conveyed to the then Provincial, Father Francis Peter Kelly, the head of the Jesuits in Australia at the time.

Higgs was then transferred in 1970 to the prestigious St Ignatius College Riverview in Sydney.

December 21, 2019

The Pope's Latest Speech To the Cardinals Has a Backstory. That Was Supposed To Stay Secret


Dec. 21, 2019

By Sandro Magister

This time as well, in the speech he gives every year to the Vatican curia before Christmas, Pope Francis has come out swinging at his unfortunate listeners.

Last year he went after the the Judases “who hide behind good intentions to stab their brothers and sow weeds.”

Two years ago he had pilloried the “trusted traitors” who “let themselves be corrupted by ambition or vainglory and, when they are gently removed, falsely declare themselves martyrs of the system, of the ‘uninformed pope,’ of the ‘old guard,’ … instead of reciting the ‘mea culpa’.”

And who is in the pope’s crosshairs this year? Below are the most biting passages from the speech given by the pope to the Roman curia on the morning of Saturday, December 21.

First, however, comes the news of another meeting that took place a few days ago between Francis and the cardinals. A meeting that started badly and ended even worse.

Legion of Christ finds 33 priests, 71 seminarian sex abusers

Associated Press

Dec.22, 2019

By Nicole Winfield

The Legion of Christ religious order, which was discredited by its pedophile founder and the cult-like practices he imposed, says an internal investigation has identified 33 priests and 71 seminarians who sexually abused minors over the past eight decades.

A third of the priestly abusers were themselves victims of the Legion’s late founder, the Rev. Marcial Maciel, while others were victims of his victims — a multi-generational chain of abuse that confirms Maciel’s toxic influence spread throughout the order.

The Legion counted 175 victims of the priests, but didn’t provide a number for the victims of the seminarians, most of whom were never ordained and left the congregation.

The Legion released the statistics on Saturday, the same day Pope Francis accepted the resignation of the Legion’s biggest defender at the Vatican, Cardinal Angelo Sodano, as dean of the College of Cardinals.

Sodano, who was secretary of state under St. John Paul II, had for years blocked the Vatican from investigating sex abuse allegations against Maciel, even though the Vatican had documented evidence dating from the 1940s that he was a drug addict and pedophile. Under John Paul, however, Maciel was adored at the Vatican for his supposed orthodoxy and ability to produce donations and vocations.

A Survivor's Christmas Wish

Cathiolic 4 Change

Dec. 20, 2019

By a Philadelphia Survivor

There is a wonderful Christmas song by Amy Grant called “Grownup Christmas List”. It is one of my favorite and speaks to the true meaning of Christmas – compassion, happiness, peace. When listening to it the other day, I thought of my own Christmas List – a “Survivor’s Christmas List” for this year. My prayer is that all survivors receive at least one thing on this list:

– That people will stop making excuses regarding the cover-up of clergy abuse by saying “it was a different time back then” or “we viewed priests on a different level”. There is no excuse. Take ownership that there were crimes committed. Which leads me to #2 –

– It was a CRIME! It wasn’t a violation – an indiscretion – a lapse in judgement – a misunderstanding – an incident. IT WAS A CRIME. Let the media – the church – the commentators – the public – call it what it really was.

– That survivors, when they get the courage and strength to walk into a Roman Catholic Church, will not be subjected to prayers from the pulpit for the abusers of children that they may find forgiveness. Yes, this did happen at a mass that I attended. Abusers were prayed for in the same intention as those who were abused. NEVER put me in the same sentence as a criminal!

Cardinal tainted by abuse scandals steps down as dean, pope sets term limit


Dec. 21, 2019

By Elise Harris

Pope Francis on Saturday announced the resignation of Italian Cardinal Angelo Sodano as the Dean of the College of Cardinals. Sodano has long faced criticism for his role in several clerical sexual abuse scandals. The pope also decreed a fixed term for the dean going forward.

Francis made the change in a Dec. 21 motu proprio, meaning a modification to a law issued on the pope’s own authority, in which he thanked the 92-year-old Sodano for “high service rendered” to the college in his 15 years as dean, and amended the policy that had been that whomever was elected to the position of dean essentially stayed there for life.

Going forward, a dean of the College of Cardinals will be elected to a five-year renewable term, after which he will be referred to as the “dean emeritus.”

A former Secretary of State under St. John Paul II, Sodano has long been a lightning-rod, emerging as one of the most controversial figures under both John Paul II and Benedict XVI, and in many ways, this reputation has followed him even in Francis’s papacy.

In part, that profile is due to abuse scandals with which he’s become associated.

From the Chilean sexual abuse crisis in 2018 back to the scandals of the 1990s and 2000s surrounding Legionaries of Christ founder Father Marcial Maciel and even abuse allegations in Germany, Sodano’s name has emerged in each case, typically attached to accusations that he either defended the abuser or tried to cushion their fall.


Catholic News Agency

Dec. 21, 2019

When Church historians look back on the last ten years, they’ll have several historic and important moments to study. And Catholics who’ve lived through the last decade may feel that changes, often one right after another, were both dizzying and exciting.

As a new decade begins on January 1, 2020, CNA offers a look back at some of the most important stories for the Church in the 2010s:

Pope Benedict XVI announces his retirement

When Pope Benedict XVI announced that he would retire in February 2013, he was the first pope to relinquish his office since 1415. The pope emeritus said that he would “serve the Holy Church of God in the future through a life dedicated to prayer.”

Pope Francis, first Latin American pope, elected

After the resignation of Pope Benedict XVi, the conclave of cardinals elected Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio of Buenos Aires, who took the name Pope Francis. The pope is the first Latin American to be elected to the papacy, and the first Jesuit.

Pope St. John Paul II and Pope St. John XXIII canonized

John Paul II had been beatified in 2011 by his successor, Pope Benedict XVI. John XXIII had been beatified in 2000, by Pope John Paul II.

The two were canonized together by Pope Francis.

Pope John XXIII convoked the Second Vatican Council, and Pope John Paul II, the first Polish pope, has been the longest-reigning pope since Vatican II, Pope Francis pointed out during the canonization.

At the canonization, Pope Francis praised John Paul II’s “untiring service, his spiritual guidance, and his extraordinary testimony of holiness.”

Pope quotes late cardinal to say church is '200 years out of date'

Daily News

Dec. 21, 2019

By Alvise Armellini

Pope Francis on Saturday called on the Vatican hierarchy to embrace change as he quoted a late progressive cardinal who warned that the Catholic Church was seriously behind the times.

"Cardinal Martini, in his last interview a few days before his death, said words that should make us reflect: 'The church is 200 years out of date. Why don't we rouse ourselves? Are we afraid?'" Francis said.

Italian Cardinal Carlo Maria Martini, a former Archbishop of Milan, was a leading liberal voice in the Catholic Church. Once seen as a possible pope, he died of Parkinson's disease in August 2012.

The pope quoted the late cardinal in his traditional pre-Christmas address to the Roman Curia, the Vatican bureaucracy. He has used such occasions in the past to berate cardinals and other Curia members over their failings.

In his speech, Francis said the church needs to adapt to an era of "epochal change" and accept a historic loss of influence in secularized Western societies.

"We are no longer under a Christian regime because faith especially in Europe, but also in large parts of the West is no longer an obvious prerequisite of common life, and on the contrary, often it is even rejected, mocked, marginalized and ridiculed," he said.

Secularization is a long-term trend in Western societies, but the Catholic Church has seen its standing further jeopardized by long-running clergy sex abuse and financial scandals.

The Fulton Sheen Story: What We Know, So Far

Patheos blog

Dec. 21, 2019

By Brian Fraga

Fulton Sheen was supposed to have been beatified today.

The Vatican signed off on the miracle. The date for the Beatification Mass was set. People from across the country had made travel plans. Final preparations, including the installation of a new handicapped-accessible ramp, were underway at the Cathedral of St. Mary of the Immaculate Conception in Peoria, Illinois.

All that is now on hold, possibly for good.

“The shock of this is so visceral,” said Rocco Palmo, the editor of Whispers in the Loggia who has done his own reporting on the Sheen story. As he also relayed on Twitter, Palmo told me that his Vatican sources have informed him that the Sheen cause is effectively dead. The Holy See never responded to his request for official comment.

“It’s just stunning,” Palmo said.

The main reason for the delay – or possible termination, if Palmo’s sources are right – of Bishop Sheen’s beatification seems to be related to concerns that revelations could soon surface that Bishop Sheen might have mishandled cases of clergy sex abuse when he headed the Diocese of Rochester, New York from 1966 to 1969.

Release of names of clergy accused of abusing minors tops religious news in 2019

The Advocate

Dec. 20, 2019

By Terry Robinson

Topping the news in 2019 for the Baton Rouge-area faith community was the naming of 37 clergy members credibly accused of abusing minors.

Bishop Michael Duca, of the Catholic Diocese of Baton Rouge, released the names during a news conference on Jan. 31, acknowledging and apologizing for the crimes of the clerics. The initial list included 14 diocesan priests, 15 from religious orders, a seminarian and seven priests assigned to the Archdiocese of New Orleans who had served in Baton Rouge.

Duca pledged to publicize any future allegations of abuse in the diocese. The list has since grown to more than 40 priests with potential for more.

The abuse reports go back decades in the 58-year-old Diocese of Baton Rouge, which covers 12 civil parishes. Some of the priests remained in ministry years after allegations against them.

Most of the abuse occurred under the leadership of Bishop Joseph Sullivan in the 1970s and early '80s. Sullivan was also on the list for repulsive behavior.

Six Men Come Forward in Camden and Trenton Thanks to NJ’s Window

Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests

Dec. 20, 2019

Six men have come forward and gone public with their allegations of abuse against priests who spent time in the dioceses of Camden and Trenton in New Jersey. These revelations have only been made possible by the window legislation that was passed this year and we hope this story will encourage lawmakers in other states to introduce and pass window legislation of their own.

According to the Courier Post, at least eight clergy or Catholic brothers have been named in lawsuits since the window went into effect on December 1. Each of these survivors had previously been barred by statutes of limitations from bringing information about their abusers and the enablers into the public. We applaud their courage in coming forward publicly because we know that this information will help better protect children and lead to safer communities in New Jersey.

Church sex abuse scandal deepens with La Plata priest’s suicide

Buenos Aires Times

Dec. 21, 2019

Eduardo Lorenzo, an Argentine priest accused of a series of sexual abuses against children, committed suicide Monday, just hours after Judge Marcela Garmendia ordered his arrest.

The priest’s death renewed debates about the impact of the Catholic Church’s ongoing sex scandal and the inefficacy of attempted soutions thus far.

Monsignor John Kennedy, who runs the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith (CDF), the Vatican entity responsible for processing clergy sex abuse complaints, told the Associated Press his office received a record 1,000 denunciations this year, describing the congregation as “overwhelmed” by a “tsunami.”

Argentina has joined the United States as one of the countries sending the highest number of cases to CDF.

According to law enforcement sources, Lorenzo’s body was found at the La Plata offices of Caritas, the Catholic social services organisation where he worked and lived. They found him “on the floor,” with multiple “blood stains and a firearm.”

He had reportedly learnt of the arrest warrant just hours before, Efe reported.

The Network of Survivors of Ecclesiastic Abuse in Argentina issued a statement responding to Lorenzo’s suicide. “His death confirms the victims told and always tell the truth,” it said. “We highlight that even in this situation, the only victims are the survivors of Eduardo Lorenzo.”

The judge’s detention order arrived 11 years after Lorenzo was first denounced for alleged sexual abuse. Victims spoke out about a series of attacks that allegedly took place at San Benito church between 1990 and 1995 and at another church between 1999 and 2001. Both churches are in La Plata, Buenos Aires Province.

Jesuit Priest in Buffalo is the Latest to be Named in a Sexual Abuse Lawsuit, SNAP Calls for Transparency from Jesuit and Diocesan Officials

Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests

Dec. 20, 2019

Fr. Charles Lehmkuhl, a Jesuit from the Northeast Province who worked in Buffalo, NY, is the latest clergy to be accused in a lawsuit for sexual abuse in New York. We applaud Matthew Ebert for his courage in going public and hope his example inspires others to come forward.

Many bishops split hairs and refuse to list abusers from religious orders on their diocesan lists. According to BishopAccountability.org, the Diocese of Buffalo has been inconsistent in including these men. We hope Apostolic Administrator Edward Scharfenberger will choose to be completely transparent going forward. The victim in this case was a child in the Buffalo diocese and is due validation for the harm that was done to him.

The Child Victim Act continues to add to expose additional names of accused Catholic priests. Although Fr. Lehmkuhl is deceased, some of these alleged perpetrators may still be alive and in ministry. Each name that gets exposed helps to validate victims, protect children and inform the public, creating safer environments in churches and communities.

The CVA is obviously having a positive impact and the fact that Fr. Lehmkuhl was not listed on the Jesuits' Northeast list demonstrates the need for the provincial of that province to examine his files even further. The sad fact is that when one victim comes forward, there are usually more who are dealing with their abuse silently. The USCCB itself estimates that, on average, each abusive priest has more than two victims.

Sundays After: Behind the Photos

Associated Press

December 19, 2019

By Wong Maye-E

[In this video, the great photographer Wong Maye-E talks about her work photographing the survivors of sexual assault, and about her most recent project with reporter Juliet Linderman, Sundays After, about the resilience of clergy abuse victims. The main article of that series links to other remarkable articles, with photographs, about each of the survivors. Some of those articles were blogged today in Abuse Tracker; several were blogged on Thursday. The full series:
- Salvador Bolivar
- Patrick Shepard
- Dorothy Small
- John Vai
- The Charbonneau Sisters
- Jacob Olivas
- Mark Belenchia]

Sundays After: Patrick Shepard finds healing in basketball

Associated Press

December 19, 2019

By Wong Maye-E and Juliet Linderman

[This article with photographs is part of the series Sundays After.]

It was the priest who taught Patrick Shepard to love basketball - how to dribble and block and position his body just so, to sink the perfect shot.

That is why, for many years, he wouldn’t touch a ball.

“There were so many bad memories,” he said. “I wanted to get as far away from it as I could.”

He was 10 years old when he moved into Chicago’s St. Charles Lwanga rectory and first encountered the Rev. Victor Stewart, who was the head priest, high school theology teacher, basketball coach and father figure for so many boys who came to live there.

For seven years, Shepard says, Stewart sexually abused him.

And then Shepard left St. Charles Lwanga to join the Navy, and struggle with the aftermath of a broken childhood. Shepard would find a way to survive, however imperfect and incomplete. Basketball would help.

Sundays After: For survivor, routine brings some relief

Associated Press

December 19, 2019

By Wong Maye-E and Juliet Linderman

[This article with photographs is part of the series Sundays After.]

It’s been nine years since the trial that nearly killed John Vai.

He sat for depositions by church attorneys who called him a greedy liar and accused him of enticing the priest. He saw a secret he’d spent 40 years trying to forget splashed across the pages of his hometown newspaper. In a Delaware courtroom, over six weeks, he laid bare the details of his sexual abuse as a teen by the Rev. Francis G. DeLuca, a religion teacher at St. Elizabeth’s in Wilmington.

He became so angry, so manic, his behavior so erratic, his children stayed far away from him. He stopped sleeping.

The landmark jury award was hard won: $3 million from the parish and $60 million from DeLuca, though the destitute former priest was unable to pay. He was defrocked in 2008 after a conviction for molesting a relative.

Sundays After: Sisters bonded, and broken, in wake of abuse

Associated Press

December 19, 2019

By Wong Maye-E and Juliet Linderman

[This article with photographs is part of the series Sundays After.]

The nine Charbonneau sisters grew up straddling two worlds, outsiders in both.

In summer, they lived as white children, the light-skinned daughters of a father born of French lineage in Olga, North Dakota. During the school year, they were shipped off to the St. Paul’s Indian Mission School on the Yankton Reservation in South Dakota, where their Chippewa blood earned them free room and board.

“They called us half-breeds,” said Barbara Dahlen, 67. But they had each other and their bond carried them through those boarding school years filled with brutal beatings, even if the best they could do was lie on their bellies at night in the dark, reaching under locked doors to touch fingers.

They stayed connected as they scattered across the heartland and had children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren. But after the death of their mother, new memories began to surface. One by one, the sexual abuse each suffered at the hands of priests and nuns came into focus.

Sundays After: Portraits of resilience after clergy abuse

Associated Press

December 19, 2019

By Wong Maye-E and Juliet Linderman

December 19, 2019

They came from different towns and cities, from different ethnic and economic backgrounds. They were A-students and outcasts, people of all ages. From their churches they sought love or guidance, a better education or a place that felt like home.

They were believers_before their trust was tested, fractured or blown apart entirely by sexual abuse at the hands of a priest.

For the faithful, the Catholic Church isn’t only a place of worship but the center of social and cultural life, its doctrines and customs woven into the fabric of families and communities. And its priests and deacons are more than holy men but confidantes, teachers, father figures with unparalleled power. To many, they’re the closest thing to God on earth.

For those abused by priests, the violations are spiritual, the damage inflicted not just on the body and mind, but a system of beliefs.

“Their faith becomes a victim of the abuse,” said Marianne Sipe, a psychiatrist and former nun who works with clergy abuse survivors.

Cries of abuse in Catholic Church start to be heard in Japan

Associated Press via National Catholic Reporter

Dec 19, 2019

By Yuri Kageyama, The Associated Press Accountability

During Pope Francis' recent visit to Japan, Harumi Suzuki stood where his motorcade passed by holding a sign that read: "I am a survivor."

Katsumi Takenaka stood at another spot, on another day, holding up his banner that read, "Catholic child sexual abuse in Japan, too."

The two are among a handful of people who have gone public as survivors of Catholic clergy sexual abuse in Japan, where values of conformity and harmony have resulted in a strong code of silence.

Sign up for Global Sisters Report emails to receive A Season of Hope, a free eBook collection of favorite Advent and Christmas reflections.

But as in other parts of the world, from Pennsylvania to Chile, Takenaka and Suzuki are starting to feel less alone as other victims have come forward despite the ostracism they and their family members often face for speaking out.

Their public denunciation is all the more remarkable, given Catholics make up less than 0.5% of Japan's population. To date, the global abuse scandal has concentrated on heavily Catholic countries, such as Ireland, the U.S. and now, many countries in Latin America.

Vatican office struggles to keep up with clergy abuse cases

Associated Press

December 20, 2019

By Nicole Winfield

The Vatican office responsible for processing clergy sex abuse complaints has seen a record 1,000 cases reported from around the world this year, including from countries it had not heard from before — suggesting that the worst may be yet to come in a crisis that has plagued the Roman Catholic Church.

Nearly two decades after the Vatican assumed responsibility for reviewing all cases of abuse, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith is today overwhelmed, struggling with a skeleton staff that hasn’t grown at pace to meet the four-fold increase in the number of cases arriving in 2019 compared to a decade ago.

“I know cloning is against Catholic teaching, but if I could actually clone my officials and have them work three shifts a day or work seven days a week,” they might make the necessary headway, said Monsignor John Kennedy, the head of the congregation’s discipline section, which processes the cases.

“We’re effectively seeing a tsunami of cases at the moment, particularly from countries where we never heard from (before),” Kennedy said, referring to allegations of abuse that occurred for the most part years or decades ago. Argentina, Mexico, Chile, Italy and Poland have joined the U.S. among the countries with the most cases arriving at the congregation, known as the CDF.

‘Pontifical secret’ still has role despite its abolition in sex abuse cases, expert says


By Elise Harris

December 20, 2019

Rome - When Pope Francis earlier this week abolished so-called pontifical secrecy for cases of clerical sexual abuse, for many Vatican outsiders it was the first time they had ever heard of the concept, which in some circles came off as archaic and, well, secretive.

However, according to experts, the “pontifical secret” is not a moot practice that’s outlived its usefulness, but rather still serves several concrete needs in the modern church, even with the new changes.

Father Francis Morrisey, a Canadian canon law expert, said the concept of the pontifical secret is akin to the legal concept of attorney-client privilege, or the confidentiality a doctor must maintain with their patient.

“If there’s no confidentiality for anything, we have real problems,” he said, speaking to Crux.

The concept of papal secrecy dates back to the 12th century inquisition, when secrecy was widely imposed on those conducting investigations into allegations or suspicions of heresy.

After Decades of Cover-up and Minimization, the Vatican is Now “Overwhelmed” by Abuse Cases

Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests

Dec. 20, 2019

The Vatican department tasked with investigating cases of clergy abuse is reportedly “overwhelmed” by the number of allegations they are receiving. We are glad that survivors around the world have been empowered to come forward and make reports of their abuse, and we hope that this trend continues in 2020.

The Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith has been charged with investigating cases of clergy abuse since 2001, when Pope John Paul II gave this power to then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger. The cardinal kept cases of abuse confidential and secret, which not only undermined public knowledge about these cases, but also meant that survivors faced a challenging and hostile environment when coming forward with their reports. The system did not change when Cardinal Ratzinger became Pope Benedict XVI.

Fortunately, secular law enforcement around the world have been flexing their muscle in the past couple of years in cases against high-profile prelates in countries including Australia, France, and the United States. This has led to more survivors coming forward, and has forced transparency upon an institution that has long tried to cover-up cases of sexual violence committed by bishops, clergy, brothers, nuns, seminarians and other church staff.

December 20, 2019

2019 in review: How George Pell’s case gripped the world

The New Daily

Dec. 21, 2019

Disgraced cardinal George Pell has spent almost all of 2019 in jail, serving a six-year sentence after being convicted of five sexual offences against two 13-year-old boys.

But Pell’s case – which has divided opinion internationally and taken years to get as far as it has – is still not over.

The convicted paedophile will have a final chance to overturn his conviction in March 2020, after the High Court of Australia agreed in November that it would hear appeal arguments.

He was initially investigated by Victoria Police’s Sano taskforce for “multiple offences” said to have been committed while he was a priest in Ballarat in the 1970s and while he was Archbishop of Melbourne in the 1990s.

In June 2017, after more than 12 months of investigation, Pell, now 78, was charged with multiple counts of historical child sexual offences.

He denied the allegations, describing them as “without foundation and utterly false”, and vowed to clear his name. He also took leave from his role as the Vatican’s financial chief to fight the charges.

LA abuse victims coordinator praises pope’s secrecy law change

Angelus News

Dec 19, 2019

By Pablo Kay

Pope Francis’ decision to abolish the obligation of secrecy for Church proceedings related to the sexual abuse of minors by priests was welcomed as a “a tangible, meaningful act” by the Victims Assistance Ministry Coordinator for the Archdiocese of Los Angeles.

“I am so pleased to see that Pope Francis has removed confidentiality requirements regarding Church proceedings related to clergy sexual abuse,” Heather Banis, Ph.D. told Angelus News Thursday, Dec. 19.

“I see it as a tangible, meaningful act that acknowledges accountability and is respectful of both clergy abuse victim-survivors and civil authorities,” she said.

The pope’s decision lifts the “pontifical secret” for those who report having been sexually abused by a priest and for those who testify in a church trial or process having to do with clerical sexual abuse.

Banis said she sees the decision as a validation of the efforts taken towards transparency in the the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, the country’s largest archdiocese, for many years now.

FOX 7 Discussion: Papal rule change regarding sex abuse cases

Fox 7 News

Dec. 20, 2019

By Marcel Clarke

The Vatican is lifting the cloak of secrecy from its proceedings into sex abuse cases.

Pope Francis announced he's abolishing the use of "pontifical secrecy" in sexual abuse cases, meaning Catholic law no longer allows church leaders to withhold information about abusive priests or their victims.

This makes it easier for law enforcement to bring cases against abusers.

Diocese of Austin priest Father James Misko joins Marcel Clarke to discuss how the papal rule change regarding sex abuse cases will impact local Catholic churches.

'Stop protecting the perpetrators': Sask. survivors push Catholic Church to release names of abusers

CBC News

Dec. 20, 2019

By Jason Warick

His hands shake as he circles the block.

He wants his nightmares, pain and loneliness to stop. Should he kill one of the priests who began raping him at age six? Should he kill himself?

Tears stream down the 25-year-old's face. He thinks of his promising career as a pitcher. He doesn't want to give that up.

He drives home and sits awake all night before finally crying himself to sleep.

That was 30 years ago. Basaraba worked with a friend to write down these and other stories of his life.


Associated Press

Dec. 20, 2019

The Catholic Archdiocese of Chicago is requesting that a statue of a well-known priest be returned, months after it was removed from church property in a suburb.

The statue shows the late Rev. John Smyth with his arms outstretched to a child above him. It was unveiled in 1996 to honor Smyth’s years of work at Maryville Academy in Des Plaines, a home for troubled children.

The Daily Herald reports that archdiocese officials know who removed the statue.

“Neither Maryville nor the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe gave permission for the statue to be removed,” archdiocese spokeswoman Anne Maselli said. “The Archdiocese of Chicago did not remove it. … We expect the statue to be returned.”

Smyth died in April at age 84, a few months after he was accused of sexual abuse. His attorney has denied the allegations. The archdiocese still is investigating, Maselli said.

What lifting pontifical secrecy for clergy abuse cases will change for victims

Religion News Services

Dec. 20, 2019

By Claire Giangravé

When Pope Francis announced Tuesday (Dec. 17) that he had abolished pontifical secrecy for cases of clerical sexual abuse, some observers compared the move to a regime opening its secret files, bringing to light years of testimony and documents.

The new protocol will transform legal proceedings and the lives of abuse victims, those accused of abusing them and bishops in charge of exercising oversight.

“This is a tremendous step forward in transparency and the right of victims’ participation” in canonical trials and “also the rights of the accused,” Dutch canon lawyer Myriam Wijlens told Religion News Service in a phone interview Wednesday.

“There are only winners in this; there are no losers,” she added.

Wijlens, a professor of canon law and vice president at the University of Erfurt, knows a thing or two about the handling of sexual abuse cases in the Catholic Church. She has been on the frontier of the clerical abuse crisis since 1987. Her investigations on behalf of bishops and the superiors of religious orders have involved numerous interviews with both sides of abuse cases, the results of which were usually sent to the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the powerful office that has defended the church on doctrinal matters for centuries.

In 2008 Wijlens was chosen as the delegate to the World Council of Churches in Geneva by the Vatican department in charge of promoting Christian unity. Pope Francis named her to the Pontifical Council for the Protection of Minors, a sort of papal think tank on sexual abuse, in 2018.

Pope's steps against sex abuse vindicate maligned Vatican summit

National Catholic Reporter

Dec 20, 2019

By Michael Sean Winters

Pope Francis' decisions to remove the pontifical secret in clergy sex abuse cases, as well as raising the age for what constitutes child pornography, enact long-sought reforms. The decisions also did something else: They further disproved the dire and depressing verdicts rendered by many pundits on last February's Vatican summit to address the issue.

A few weeks after that summit brought together the presidents of all the world's episcopal conferences to address the scandal, all manner of voices, left and right, denounced the event as a failure or, worse, a sham.

Here at NCR, Thomas Doyle complained: The Vatican summit produced no decisive, action-oriented results, just more platitudes and promises. I consider this a positive because it should remove any doubt about whether the Vatican and the hierarchy have the ability or the will to take the radical steps essential to fixing the problem.

Doyle went on to say the only really good thing to come from the summit was the gathering of victims from around the world who held protests outside the summit meeting.

Move to lift Catholic clergy sex abuse secrecy is too late, survivor says

Stuff NZ Limited

Dec. 20, 2019

By John Weeks

A New Zealand church abuse survivor says the Vatican's decision to abolish secrecy clauses for Catholic clerical sex crime cases is "far too late".

Pope Francis this week announced "pontifical secrecy" would no longer apply to child abuse complaints. The decision meant abuse victims and witnesses would be freed from confidentiality obligations.

New Zealand author Mike Ledingham​ said the Papal announcement was "bull", many years overdue, and a reaction to the perception churches could no longer dodge being held to account for child abuse.

As SBC confronts abuse crisis, other faiths watch closely


Dec. 20, 2019

By Robert Downen

He was well-aware of the Catholic Church’s abuse scandal and, during his 13-year tenure as pastor of Houston’s Memorial Church of Christ, helped guide the church as it adopted safeguards to protect children from sexual predators.

But the reports in the Houston Chronicle were different. They hit particularly close to home.

The series, Abuse of Faith, found that hundreds of Southern Baptist church leaders and volunteers have been convicted or credibly accused of sex crimes in the last two decades. They left behind more than 700 victims, most of them children.

The structure of the SBC, a collective of 47,000 autonomous and self-governing churches, enabled predators to move undetected and stifled reforms to prevent abuse, the investigation found.

Duncan’s denomination has a similar organizational structure based on local church autonomy. And so, as the SBC’s abuse crisis came into public view, he came to a realization: No person or place is safe from predators.

“It made me sick,” Duncan said. “I just didn’t want to believe that it could be that rampant, that widespread.”

December 19, 2019

UN rapporteur praises pope for reform of abuse secrecy

Associated Press

Dec. 19, 2019

The U.N. expert on child sexual abuse praised the Vatican’s decision to abolish the rule of “pontifical secret” for abuse cases and urged further reforms to ensure more justice for victims.

The U.N. special rapporteur on the sale and sexual exploitation of children said Thursday that Pope Francis’s decision to make such cases subject to ordinary confidentiality in the Church was a “welcome and long-awaited step.”

Francis passed the law Tuesday, and Vatican officials said the move was designed to facilitate cooperation with civil law enforcement agencies, given it would deprive church leaders of using the pontifical secret as an excuse to withhold documentation.

“The Vatican should now take all necessary measures to ensure that justice and redress for victims around the world is delivered through prompt and thorough investigations that are subject to public scrutiny,” said the U.N. rapporteur, Maud de Boer-Buquicchio.

Bishop Scharfenberger holds prayer service for victims of sexual abuse


Dec. 19, 2019

By Jacquie Slater

A special prayer service was held Wednesday at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Albany, for victims of sexual abuse within the Catholic Church.

The event was organized by the Albany Diocese in hopes of helping victims and the community heal.

The service itself was closed to press in order to protect the privacy of victims who wish to remain anonymous.

Before it started, NewsChannel 13 spoke with Bishop Edward Scharfenberger and a victim who has been sharing his story in hopes of offering support to others who have had similar experiences.

The Albany Diocese is among many facing allegations of sex abuse by clergy. Bishop Scharfenberger said the Service of Prayers for Consolation and Hope is for survivors, their families and friends, and anyone who wants to pray.

Debates about the seal of confession intensify as Australian mandatory reporting laws move closer to reality

America Magazine

Dec. 19, 2019

By Ben Wilkie

The question of whether Catholic priests should be made to report child abuse revealed during confession continues to cause controversy in Australia as nationwide mandatory reporting laws move closer to reality.

The issue has been simmering for some time in Australia and has a long and global history, but the national Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, which released its final report to the public in late 2017, has reignited the debate. In its investigations between 2013 and 2017, the commission found that 61.8 percent of survivors who came forward reported abuse at Catholic institutions.

At the time, Archbishop Denis Hart, then president of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference, said that the Royal Commission had uncovered “a shameful past, in which a prevailing culture of secrecy and self-protection led to unnecessary suffering for many victims and their families.”

“Once again I reiterate my unconditional apology for this suffering and a commitment to ensuring justice for those affected,” he said.

My Son, Eric Patterson, Killed Himself Because a Catholic Priest Sexually Abused Him

CNS News

Dec. 19, 2019

By Janet Patterson

The following commentary is written by Janet Patterson, whose son Eric Patterson (1970-1999) reportedly was sexually abused multiple times by Rev. Robert K. Larson. Larson spent 5 years in jail for sexually abusing altar boys and died in 2014 at the age of 84; Eric Patterson died at age 29 after shooting himself in the head. Clergy abuse expert Dr. Leon Podles estimates there have been between 100,000 and 200,000 clergy abuse victims since 1950 in the United States alone, and possibly up to 2,000,000 victims worldwide.

I stood there, rooted to the spot, stroking my son’s hair, gently touching his cold face, gazing at my precious child. “Eric,” I thought, “oh, Eric.” Then I turned to walk down the church aisle as the funeral attendants closed the casket.

Numb from shock, I joined the rest of my family, clutching my husband’s hand tightly, feeling his arm caressing my shoulder. Now, three years later, I am sitting at Eric’s computer, the one on which he typed his suicide note, painfully recalling the series of events that culminated in his death.

Slowly, painstakingly, our family grapples with the awful truth—our son was sexually abused at the age of 12 by our parish priest.

How could this be? Sexual abuse happens to someone else’s child, in someone else’s family, not ours. Then reality hits. My mind constantly reconstructs the details of Eric’s life; sifting and sorting through memories, wondering what clues I missed, what behavior I didn’t understand at the time.

For priest’s victim, home is a sanctuary

Associated Press

Dec. 19, 2019

By Juliet Linderman

Angels stand watch from Dorothy Small’s doorway.

Her house is full of them: gold-gilded angels tacked on the wall of her prayer room, painted ones in a semicircle on the coffee table, pale porcelain ones perched on the kitchen counter.

In the morning she sits with the angels, threads a rosary through her fingers and reads from her leather-bound Bible. In the evening, she slips into the hot tub in her backyard, closes her eyes and listens to prayers in French on her headphones. It’s a baptism of sorts, a private ritual that has helped her navigate her shifting faith and emerge, clear-eyed, from one of the darkest and most challenging periods of her life: the aftermath of a sexual assault she endured at 60, at the hands of a priest.

Small, now 65, survived it all because she had to, she said. But to her own surprise, she’s found strength in the solitude.

Her home is her sanctuary. It used to be the church.

For years, the parishioners of her Woodland, California, congregation were family, and she relied on the collective energy of the flock for spiritual fulfillment. But Small said after she reported her relationship with the priest and he was removed from his post, she was ostracized and stripped of her position as soloist in the choir. Her world collapsed.

“I felt awful because I got Father in trouble,” she said. “I thought it was all my fault.”

Deceased Jesuit priest, former Canisius College employee, accused of sex abuse in new lawsuit


Dec. 18, 2019

By Chris Horvatits

Canisius College is the newest target of a Child Victims Act lawsuit. It’s the first time the school has been named as a defendant in a lawsuit related to clergy sex abuse since the CVA window opened up in August.

School officials say they are cooperating with the accuser’s attorney.

The accuser, Matthew Ebert, claims that he was abused by Rev. Charles Lehmkuhl while the Jesuit priest worked at Canisius. In the lawsuit filed Tuesday, Ebert says “Father Lehmkuhl engaged in unpermitted sexual contact” with him from 1973 until 1983 when the minor was between the ages of 7 and 17.

The lawsuit refers to Lehmkuhl as “a father figure and spiritual leader” for Ebert.

Ebert was never a student at Canisius, school officials tell News 4.

“The sole basis for Canisius College being named in this suit is the fact that Fr. Lemkuhl was employed at the college and that some of the acts are alleged to have occurred on college property during the summer when Mr. Ebert came to Canisius to visit Fr. Lemkuhl,” school officials said in a statement.

Lehmkuhl died in 1995.

Our Opinion: An opportunity for clergy abuse reform

Berkshire Eagle

Dec. 18, 2019

Pope Francis' decision to end the Vatican's secrecy policy on sexual abuse cases is a welcome act that had it come years earlier could have spared victims and the Catholic Church itself so much misery. Unfortunately, the new policy contains loopholes that would allow miscreants and the church officials protecting to them to slip through once more.

The decision overturns a 2001 Vatican decree making sexual abuse allegations against clergy a "pontifical secret," the church's most classified form of knowledge, which kept those allegations out of the purview of criminal authorities. In abolishing this policy, such information can be turned over to police, prosecutors and judges.

The policy is good as far as it goes, but it doesn't go far enough. It does not require that dioceses turn over this information, meaning that church officials who oppose this edict can simply ignore it. The Vatican is unclear in its decision as to whether or not it applies retroactively or only to new allegations. Vatican critics note that the Church still hasn't adopted a policy of automatically defrocking any priest who has abused a child, which undermines the Vatican's apparently sincere efforts to enact reform.

The Catholic Church's policy of circling the wagons around credibly accused priests while blaming the victims and the media has done great harm to victims and to the credibility and financial viability of churches all over the world, including in Berkshire County within the Roman Catholic Diocese of Springfield. The most recent example within the Diocese came earlier this year when it denied that a Chicopee man's accusation that he had been abused by Bishop Christopher J. Weldon when he served as an altar boy in the 1960s was credible. A Diocesan review board made that conclusion even though some board members who took part in the process told The Eagle that they found the accusations to be extremely credible. In June, the diocese acknowledged that the accusations were credible, leaving the integrity of the in-house review process in tatters.

Wyoming Legislature to consider giving sex abuse victims more time to file lawsuits

Wyoming Tribune Eagle

Dec. 19, 2019

By Seth Klamann

Mirroring a move made in several other states, the Wyoming Legislature will consider extending the statute of limitations for lawsuits filed by the victims of child sexual abuse.

The current statute states that a civil action must be brought by the time the victim is 26 or within three years of the "discovery" of the abuse. The proposal, which has support from the Joint Judiciary Committee, would extend that to the victim's 53rd birthday. The legislation is somewhat modeled after a recent law passed in Utah, which retroactively opened the statute of limitations for past victims and removed it altogether for any cases of abuse in the coming years.

Wyoming already has no statute of limitations on the criminal prosecution for those accused of sexual abuse.

Sen. Tara Nethercott, a Cheyenne attorney and the Republican chairwoman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said that concern about the state's statute of limitations was brought to her committee earlier this year. Lawmakers studied it, directed legislative staffers to draft a bill and then voted to support it in November.

Spirits guide survivor in quest for healing

Associated Press

Dec. 19, 2019

By Juliet Linderman

Salvador Bolivar puffs smoke through a long wooden pipe. Two braids hang just past his shoulders. Bear totems perch on the piano, a bundle of dried sage pinned to the wall. Resting beside him is a small drum; he’s just sung four songs in Taino, a lost language of the Caribbean islands, to calm his nerves.

Bolivar doesn’t like to talk about what happened to him without first calling in the spirits of his ancestors to give him courage. It was an encounter with these spirits, he said, that compelled him to break his silence.

They came to him 11 years ago, in a sweat lodge in the Colombian mountains.

“My heart was blown open,” he said. He cried for days. “It was the beginning of the process of letting it go.”

He returned to New York and, for the first time, told his mother and father that the dean of his Catholic high school had sexually abused him.

The experience in the mountains set him on his spiritual path and altered the course of his life. The spirits told him, “You’re going through what you’re going through to have compassion and empathy or someone else, so you’ll be able to help others," Bolivar said. He clings to this belief. It gets him through his most difficult days.

Bolivar, 48, was born and raised in New York City, the son of immigrants from Costa Rica and the Dominican Republic. He spent his teen years drunk, angry, reckless, prone to outbursts, quick to jump into the middle of any brawl.

His life changed in his early 20s, when his first baby arrived. Fatherhood steadied him, he said. It still does.

Church and state should be kept separate but what about religion and politics?

Clarion Ledger

Dec. 19, 2019

By Richard Conville

In October of this year, Attorney General William Barr gave a major address on religious liberty at the Notre Dame University Law School. With the impeachment process well underway, the speech has gotten little notice, but deserves more, because it reveals so much about Mr. Barr’s religious commitments and how they inform his politics.

The speech is over seven pages long, so I will limit my comments to a small portion that seems to articulate his central thesis--that the country’s “traditional moral order” has experienced serious erosion. He asserts three causes, (1) the “assault on religion,” thus losing “the right rules to live by;” (2) the state (i.e., the federal government) has become the “alleviator of bad consequences” of bad behavior; and (3) “secularists have been continually seeking to eliminate laws that reflect traditional moral norms.”

I disagree with Barr on several points, and you may too. First, to allege there has been an “assault on religion” is pure hyperbole. To blame eroding moral standards on “secularists,” as Barr does, raises the question, why do more people now, than, say, 50 years ago, consider themselves to be secular and not so religious? Could part of the fault lie at the feet of the Church? How has it failed to capture the imagination of those now more secular people? Rather than an assault on religion, traditional religious institutions have been leaking members for decades: no news here. Moreover, the “traditional moral order,” that Barr so highly prizes, was presumably in place during the time of the rampant, world-wide sex scandal involving Catholic priests’ assaults on thousands of young boys. Those “right rules” did not save those children.

Survivor makes use of pain through activism

Associated Press

Dec. 19, 2019

By Juliet Linderman

Mark Belenchia didn’t stay quiet.

He told his mother and his uncle, in the mid-1970s. He told a parish priest, then the vicar general, in 1985. Still, the clergyman Belenchia said sexually abused him when he was a child in Shelby, Mississippi, remained in collar and cassock.

“It showed me that the system says you’re insignificant. It doesn’t matter what you said, or what happened to you,” Belenchia said.

Belenchia would not be ignored. Over the years, his quest for answers, to try and make sense of his own personal tragedy, transformed into a crusade against clergy abuse that’s become his life’s focus. Activism, he said, gives him purpose and direction. Through this work he makes use of his pain, to help other survivors struggling to cope with theirs.

The abuse began when Belenchia was 12 and lasted three years, he said, maybe four. But the events of his youth cast a shadow over his life for decades after.

He felt shame and guilt for allowing himself to get close the priest, who’d decorated the church rectory like a clubhouse and plied young boys from the neighborhood with liquor.

He felt anguish and panic when, at 43, Belenchia plunged into a depressive episode that resulted in hospitalization, intensive psychiatric treatment and an extended leave from his systems engineer position at IBM that eventually turned into medical retirement.

He felt defeated when a bishop told him his story was a one-off, “an anomaly,” and resigned when he reluctantly accepted a $44,000 settlement from the Diocese of Jackson in exchange for a promise not to tell. (In a statement to The Associated Press, a lawyer for the diocese acknowledged Belenchia’s abuse, and said the diocese has not included a confidentiality clause in any settlement agreement since 2002 unless it was insisted upon by the victim.)

He felt empowered to go public after reading an article about two local brothers suing the church, and validated when five men from across Mississippi came to him afterward with stories of their own abuse at the hands of the same clergyman.

And then, Belenchia got angry.

December 18, 2019

Clergy sex-abuse lawsuits filed against Camden, Trenton dioceses

Cherry Hill Courier-Post

Dec. 18, 2019

By Jim Walsh

Six men have come forward with allegations of childhood sex abuse by Catholic clergy in South Jersey.

The accusers all say they were targeted in the 1970s and '80s by clerics who exploited their trust and assaulted their bodies.

They are suing the dioceses of Camden and Trenton under a new state law that allows civil actions for sex-abuse claims previously barred by a statute of limitations.

At least eight priests or Catholic brothers from South Jersey parishes are named in six suits filed in state court since Dec. 1.

Two suits claim wrongdoing by separate priests at a Paulsboro parish, including one who allegedly continued his abuse after moving to a church in Cherry Hill.

In another, a former altar boy alleges he was abused by three priests in Collingswood and Magnolia.

Pope Francis removes pontifical secrecy for sexual abuse cases

Religion News Service

Dec. 17, 2019

By Claire Giangravé

Pope Francis on Tuesday (Dec. 17) ushered in a new era of transparency and accountability for the Catholic Church by releasing what was described as a historic document removing pontifical secrecy for cases of sexual abuse and cover-up, allowing lawful authorities to have access to reports, testimonies and documents.

“This is an epochal decision regarding the legal arrangement of the pontifical secret, and it comes at just the right time,” said Archbishop Charles Scicluna of Malta, the former Vatican prosecutor for cases of sexual abuse, in an interview published Tuesday (Dec. 17) on Vatican News.

In February, Pope Francis called for a Vatican summit on the question of clerical sexual abuse, during which all the major ecclesial representatives, survivor networks and advocates gathered to address the ongoing crisis plaguing the Catholic Church.

On Feb. 20, roughly a dozen sexual abuse survivors from all over the world met with the top leaders at the Vatican, from U.S. Cardinal Blase Cupich to Jesuit priest Hans Zollner, who heads the Center for Child Protection at the Gregorian University in Rome.

The survivors asked the Vatican to enact practical actions to ensure justice for the many who suffered and suffer still because of clerical sexual abuse. Finally, they got their wish, on the day of Francis’ birthday and in the days leading up to Christmas.


ESS, iHeartRadio

December 17, 2019


By abolishing Vatican secrecy rules as it pertains to sexual abuse cases, the Catholic Church is now allowed to share documents and information with civil authorities. Mitchell Garabedian, the attorney who was at the center of numerous lawsuits against the church, joins Evan Solomon on today’s ESS.

Clergy sex abuse victims, advocates back Pope’s end of ‘pontifical secrecy’

Boston Herald

December 17, 2019

By Marie Szanislo

Lawyer says Francis is giving law enforcement what it can already obtain in many jurisdictions

Pope Francis on Tuesday abolished the use of “pontifical secrecy” — the Vatican’s highest level of secrecy in clergy sexual abuse cases — a step that victims and their advocates say is long overdue and only one step toward protecting children and holding child molesters to account.

In abolishing the secret rule, the Pope was giving law enforcement what it could probably already obtain, given the legal power of subpoenas in many jurisdictions, said Boston attorney Mitchell Garabedian, who said he has represented more than 2,000 clergy sex abuse victims over 25 years.

“A truly independent civil authority should be created to oversee what is disclosed by the Catholic Church,” Garabedian said. “It is also now time for Pope Francis to mandate that crimes be reported to the police by bishops, religious superiors and others, and to make documents and testimony public with the appropriate redactions of victims’ names.”

Ending pontifical secret a milestone, but there’s accountability beyond law


Dec 18, 2019

By John L. Allen Jr.

Tuesday’s news that Pope Francis essentially has abolished the requirement of pontifical secrecy for clerical sexual abuse cases means that robust cooperation with civil authorities is now a cornerstone not only of Church practice, but also Church law.

That’s an important distinction, because in the U.S. and some other parts of the Catholic world, the pontifical secret had already been reinterpreted by bishops and canon lawyers to permit such cooperation, seen as essential not merely in the interests of justice but also to prevent the Church from being exposed to both civil and criminal liability.

As a result, while Maltese Archbishop Charles Scicluna was, in a sense, right in calling Tuesday’s moves “epochal,” they won’t change much operationally in the American Church.

(The calculus is likely to be different in other parts of the world. For instance, Juan Carlos Cruz, a survivor of abuse at the hand of Chile’s most notorious pedophile priest, heralded Tuesday’s moves as a sea change for his country: “All these excuses of Chilean bishops and other parts of the world and the Curia, are over,” he said. “Today is an important day in transparency and justice for victims.”)

Abuse survivors cry foul over ERLC’s end-of-year fund-raising appeal

Baptist News Global

Dec. 18, 2019

By Bob Allen

Leaders of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests criticized a Southern Baptist Convention entity’s fund-raising appeal that touts the denomination’s response to the scourge of sexual abuse in the church as “misleading and insensitive” to victims.

Daniel Darling, vice president for communications at the SBC Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, sent out an e-mail Dec. 16 soliciting tax-deductible donations of $50, $100 or $500 to help the agency “stand with” survivors of sexual abuse and “equip them to make their voices heard.”

An accompanying 2 ½-minute video features Susan Codone, a Mercer University professor, responding to questions including, “How does it feel to know that for the first time, the church is taking the issue of sexual abuse seriously?”

“I have quite a story of sexual abuse in the church, and to be able to have a safe place where I was believed and supported by ministry leaders, to share that with the church and hopefully make the church a safer place, to me that meant everything in the world,” Codone says.

SNAP, a network of survivors of institutional sexual abuse and their supporters launched in 1988, responded with a press release contrasting Codone’s praise for SBC leadership with the “disappointing disparity” experienced by hundreds of abuse survivors “who have received zero support from the SBC."

Grand jury account of Pittsburgh-area priest is released


Dec. 17, 2019

By Peter Smith

A newly released portion of a 2018 grand jury report indicates that the Roman Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh received an allegation of sexual abuse against a priest in the mid-1990s and that the priest admitted his sexual attraction to teenagers.

But he remained in ministry more than two decades longer because, until 2018, diocesan officials felt they didn’t have enough evidence to remove him entirely from ministry.

The new information comes in what may be the last piece of redacted information to be unsealed from the landmark 2018 statewide grand jury report into sexual abuse in the Catholic Church.

The priest, the Rev. Richard Lelonis, died in October at age 74. He spent 48 years in the priesthood, but much of the latter half of that career was spent in restricted ministry, away from parish work but still wearing the collar as a priest in good standing, after the 1995 allegation.

Father Lelonis was one of a small number of priests who challenged aspects of the grand jury report into sexual abuse by priests in six Roman Catholic dioceses, including Pittsburgh. Most of that group wanted their names redacted entirely from the grand jury’s report, a move the Pennsylvania Supreme Court ultimately agreed to.

EDITORIAL: Pushing clergy abuse into the light

The Telegram

Dec. 17, 2019

For the first time in Canada, a Catholic religious order is preparing to publicly release a list of its priests who have been credibly accused of sexual abuse, including where the priests worked and when they worked there.

The head of the Jesuits of Canada, Father Erik Oland, told the Globe and Mail that he made the decision to have a list compiled more than a year ago, after a Pennsylvania grand jury investigation revealed the abuse of more than 1,000 children in that state.

While it may be new in Canada, the process has been established for some time in the United States. The archdiocese of Tucson released a list in 2002, and since then, 145 other dioceses in the United States have followed suit, though some lists have included only priests and clergy who have been convicted of crimes. Six different Jesuit provinces in the United States have also released such lists. The collection of those lists has led to giant open-access files like the ones kept by BishopAccountability.org, which have compiled lists containing thousands of names of offending clergy. (Not all of the lists have been completely voluntary — several were created as the result of settlement agreements for civil abuse cases.)

A private company began reviewing Canadian Jesuit files this October and is using the same standard that has been used in the United States by the religious orders that have already compiled similar lists. The company will establish that allegations against Jesuits are “more likely true than not after investigation.”

There are still major hurdles that have to be addressed in the release of the Canadian information, including privacy and other legal issues, but a clear and open process revealing accused abusers could go a long way towards helping victims, especially those who have had to face obstruction and denial from the church hierarchy in the past.

That is, at least, what the Jesuits are attempting. It remains to be seen if other Canadian dioceses and orders follow the Jesuit lead.

The change to the ‘pontifical secret’ does less than it appears to do

Catholic Herald

Dec. 18, 2019

By Christopher Altieri

By now, readers will have heard that Pope Francis has issued a rescript lifting the so-called “pontifical secret” under which the Church has until now conducted investigations and canonical trials related to sexual abuse and cover-up, sexual violence, and other similarly grave crimes against minors and vulnerable adults. The pontifical secret remains in force over other matters, but is no longer the default level of secrecy for sex crimes against minors and related offences.

It was one of three changes to Church law the Pope made on Tuesday. Another specifies the acquisition or possession of pornographic materials that exploit subjects under the age of 18 as a grave criminal offence for clerics of any rank. That change may have been longer in coming than observers and advocates for it would have liked, but it is the fulfilment of a promise. A third introduces the possibility for qualified lay persons to act as attorneys in canonical proceedings before the CDF tribunal, in which grave criminal charges are being tried.

Of the three changes, the removal of pontifical secret from sex crime cases involving minors is bound to generate the most discussion.

In an editorial for the Holy See’s official Vatican News outlet, editorial director Andrea Tornielli hailed the change as “a sign of openness, transparency, and the willingness to collaborate with the civil authorities.” Tornielli said, “It is not too much to define it as ‘historic’.”

December 17, 2019

Boys in Bishops sex scandal must also be held accountable, says Viotti's lawyer

Cape Talk AM 567

Dec. 18, 2019

By Qama Qukula

The lawyer for disgraced Bishops College teacher Fiona Viotti says the learners who were involved in sexual affairs with his client should also be brought to book.

Viotti was found guilty of sexual misconduct following an internal probe conducted by the prestigious private school in Rondebosch.

An investigation found that between 2013 and 2019, the former teacher targeted at least five pupils at the boys' school.

Bishops College has reportedly handed over its internal findings to the police for further investigations. The former teacher could be facing criminal charges.

Meanwhile, Viotti's lawyer, William Booth, claims that his client had “consensual” sex with her pupils, and he believes they should also be held accountable.

Booth, a top South African criminal lawyer, argues that that the boys involved in the scandal should be taken to task for their part in the "irresponsible" behaviour.

He further asserts that the school should be taking action against the boys who distributed pornographic images of his client.

No action against priest in rape case, alleges survivor

The Hindu

Dec. 18, 2019

A survivor in a rape case in which a priest under the Thamarassery diocese is arraigned as accused has submitted before the Kerala High Court that despite lodging a sexual assault complaint against the priest with the Thamarassery bishop, no action had been taken.

In a petition seeking to implead her in a bail petition filed by Fr. Manoj Plakoottathil, she said in fact she had filed a complaint on June 23, 2017. However, there had been no action. So, she had lodged a complaint with the Chevayur police.

The case
The police case was that the accused allegedly went to the residence of the 46-year-old woman on June 15, 2017 and raped her when she was alone in the house.

Fr. Plakoottathil was then the vicar of Chevayur Nithyasahaya Matha Church. The priest had been charged with the offences under Sections 376 (rape), 506 (criminal intimidation) and 509 (word, gesture or act intended to insult the modesty of a woman) of the Indian Penal Code. Opposing the anticipatory bail plea of the priest, the survivor pointed out that the priest had threatened her that if she disclosed it to anyone she would be socially ostracised. The petitioner feared that there was a possibility of the investigation being sabotaged due to the influence of the accused.

Francis abolishes pontifical secret in clergy abuse cases, in long sought reform

National Catholic Reporter

Dec. 17, 2019

By Joshua J. McElwee

Pope Francis Dec. 17 abolished the Catholic Church's practice of imposing strict confidentiality rules on the Vatican's legal proceedings in cases involving clergy sexual abuse or misconduct, in a reform sought for decades by abuse survivors and advocates.

In a brief but sweeping new instruction that goes into effect immediately, the pontiff states plainly that the practice, known as the pontifical secret, is no longer to apply to any accusations, proceedings, or final decisions involving clergy abuse.

While such matters will continue to be treated with a lower level of confidentiality, the pope also specifies that anyone who files a report, alleges abuse, or comes forward as a witness to abuse "shall not be bound by any obligation of silence with regard to matters involving the case."

The new instruction, which contains five short points, is titled Sulla riservatezza delle cause ("On the Confidentiality of Legal Proceedings").

In a separate action released at the same time as the instruction, Francis also made changes to a set of norms issued by Pope John Paul II in 2001 that define the "grave delicts" the church reserves to the judgement of the Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

In those changes, which go into effect Jan. 1, the pope redefines child pornography as any inappropriate photographic material taken of minors under the age of 18, raising the age threshold from the previous standard of the age of 14.

Pope Francis abolishes the pontifical secret for sexual misconduct cases involving clerics

America Magazine

Dec. 17, 2019

By Gerard O’Connell

In a decision of enormous importance, long called for by survivors of abuse and their advocates, Pope Francis has abolished the pontifical secret for sexual misconduct cases concerning clerics.

The “pontifical secret” is not related to the seal of the confessional, which remains absolute (and inviolable) in Catholic teaching and practice. Rather, the pontifical secret refers to confidentiality in the church’s judicial handling of clerical sex abuse and other grave crimes (as well as secrecy in other areas, such as some matters concerning the appointment of cardinals and bishops). The secrecy ensures that cases are dealt with in strict confidentiality. Vatican experts have said it was designed to protect the dignity of everyone involved, including the victim, the accused, their families and their communities.

Sources in Rome (who requested anonymity) told America that Pope Francis had to overcome strong internal opposition in the Vatican before issuing this important piece of legislation.
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In September 2017, members of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors had asked Pope Francis to reconsider Vatican norms maintaining the imposition of the “pontifical secret” in the church’s judicial handling of such crimes. He has done so by promulgating a new law that Archbishop Charles Scicluna, adjunct-secretary of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, told America represents “a momentous shift towards transparency” in the Catholic Church’s ongoing response to the abuse scandal.

This was one of two new laws published by the Vatican on Dec. 17 at the instruction of Pope Francis, who celebrates his 83rd birthday on this day. The second law updates the definition of child pornography to cover victims up to age 18. Significantly, too, it allows for qualified laypeople to represent and defend persons in church tribunals in cases of sexual misconduct without having to ask permission. Previously only clerics could do so.

Victims of Catholic Clergy Sex Abuse Sue Pope Francis

New York (NY)
National Review

December 17, 2019

By Zachary Evans

Victims of sexual abuse at the hands of Catholic clergy are suing Pope Francis, claiming he and senior Vatican officials knew that a number of priests molested children but kept the revelation a secret, the New York Post reported on Tuesday.

The class-action lawsuit was filed Tuesday in federal court in Manhattan, brought by seven victims of abuse. The sole defendant named in the suit is the Holy See, the governing body of the entire Catholic Church, at whose head is the Pope.

“The Holy See has known for centuries that Catholic priests were using their positions and roles in Catholic parishes and schools to sexually molest children,” the suit alleges.

Pope Francis on Tuesday ended the policy of “pontifical secrecy” to guard information on sexual abuse cases. Archbishop Charles Scicluna, the Vatican’s leading investigator of sex abuse crimes, called the move an “epochal decision” that will facilitate greater communication between civil law enforcement and church investigators.

Bond hearing for local priest arrested on child porn charges


Dec. 17, 2019

By Peggy Gallek

A prosecutor is urging a judge not to reduce the bond of a local priest who was arrested earlier this month on child pornography charges.

Father Robert McWilliams, was arrested Dec. 5, at St. Joseph Parish in Strongsville. He is facing several charges, including three counts of illegal use of a minor in nudity-oriented material or performance.

An assistant Cuyahoga County prosecutor says there are allegations in Geauga County that the priest posed as a stranger to extort children into sending him nude videos and pictures. Additional charges could be filed soon.

McWilliams, who remains held in the Cuyahoga County jail, has entered not guilty pleas and his attorney has asked for his $50,000 bond to be reduced.

Cleveland Catholic Diocese priest faces judge on child porn charges, case goes to grand jury

A hearing was held Tuesday afternoon, but Assistant Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Carl Sullivan is objecting to any reduction in bond.

“This incident involves a priest, with access to children on a daily basis who is sending and receiving child pornography,” Sullivan wrote in a motion filed with the court. “Also, based upon these charges, the defendant will no longer be able to reside in Strongsville and most likely will leave the county if released.”

Pope removes shroud of secrecy from clergy sex abuse cases

The Associated Press

December 17, 2019

By Nicole Winfield

Pope Francis abolished the use of the Vatican’s highest level of secrecy in clergy sexual abuse cases Tuesday, responding to mounting criticism that the rule of “pontifical secrecy” has been used to protect pedophiles, silence victims and prevent police from investigating crimes.

Victims and their advocates cheered the move as long overdue, but cautioned that the proof of its effectiveness would come when the Catholic hierarchy is forced to respond to national inquiries, grand jury subpoenas and criminal prosecutors who are increasingly demanding all internal documentation about abusers.

“The carnival of obscurity is over,” declared Juan Carlos Cruz, a prominent Chilean survivor of clergy abuse and advocate for victims.

Pope lifts secrecy rules for sex abuse cases


December 17, 2019

By Delia Gallagher

Pope Francis has abolished Vatican secrecy rules for cases of sexual abuse, effectively allowing the Catholic church to share documents and information with civil authorities, and allow victims to be updated of the status of their cases.

The church already shares files with authorities in some countries, such as the United States, but the practice is not universal. Some Catholic churches around the world have invoked the "pontifical secret" to refuse cooperation in certain cases.

Pontifical secret is considered the highest level of confidentiality in church law which covers a number of administrative cases at the Vatican, such as nominations of cardinals, investigations by the Secretariat of State, and by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.
The violation of pontifical secrecy can result in excommunication from the church.



December 16, 2019

By Paul Murano

A group of faithful Catholics in Minnesota are demanding that their bishop step down.

Launching a petition to demand the resignation of Bp. Michael Hoeppner of the diocese of Crookston, the document will be submitted to Cdl. Sean O'Malley, president of the Vatican's Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors.

The group cites Hoeppner's negligence, inaction and mishandling of sexual abuse and child protection, and believe he has failed in his duty to keeping minors in his diocese safe.

Priest at Ballantyne parish on administrative leave after sex abuse allegation


December 10, 2019

By Allison Latos

A Charlotte priest at one of the largest Catholic churches in the country was placed on administrative leave Monday after being accused of sexually abusing a minor.

In a statement, Bishop Peter Jugis said Father Patrick Hoare is facing allegations of sexual abuse from when he worked in Pennsylvania 25 years ago, before he joined the ministry.

Pope Francis Ends 'Top Secret' Status For Sex Abuse Cases, Promising Transparency

National Public Radio

December 17, 2019

By Bill Chappell


Pope Francis is giving legal authorities access to documents and testimony about sexual abuse cases that were previously kept under the Catholic Church's highest level of confidentiality. By abolishing the concept known as the "pontifical secret" when it comes to clergy misconduct, Francis will also let victims see more information about their cases — and speak out about their experience.

"The person who files the report, the person who alleges to have been harmed and the witnesses shall not be bound by any obligation of silence with regard to matters involving the case," according to the new policy, which was instituted Tuesday in the form of a rescript — a church decree approved by Francis and signed by the Cardinal Secretary of State, Pietro Parolin.

Pope Francis Abolishes Secrecy Policy in Sexual Abuse Cases

The New York Times

December 17, 2019

By Elisabetta Povoledo

Church officials can now share information with secular law enforcement authorities. Critics said the confidentiality rule led to the concealment of abuse.

The Vatican on Tuesday said it would abolish the high level of secrecy it has applied to sexual-abuse accusations against clerics, ending a policy that critics said had often shielded priests from criminal punishment by the secular authorities.

Removing that cloak of confidentiality, the Roman Catholic Church is changing its stance to make it acceptable — but not required — to turn information about abuse claims over to the police, prosecutors and judges.

In recent years, church officials in the United States and some other countries have shared with civil authorities information about some sexual abuse allegations. But that cooperation, in theory, defied a decree adopted in 2001 that made the information a “pontifical secret” — the church’s most classified knowledge.

Victims and their advocates said the restrictions hampered civil authorities and helped conceal crimes, and they greeted Francis’ new instructions as a step forward.

“Things are decidedly changing,” said Francesco Zanardi, an Italian survivor of clerical abuse and the president of Rete l’Abuso, an Italian anti-abuse group.

Anne Barrett Doyle, co-director of BishopAccountability.org, a group that tracks abuse in the church, said the pope had taken “an overdue and desperately needed step.”

“For decades, pontifical secrecy has been an obstruction to civil justice, spurring bishops worldwide to thwart prosecutions of abusive priests,” Ms. Barrett Doyle said in a statement. She called changing the policy “a first step toward decreasing the anti-victim bias of canon law.”

Analysis: Action on pontifical secrecy widely praised, but US Catholics still waiting on McCarrick

Catholic News Agency

Dec. 17, 2019

By J.D. Flynn

In a pair of unexpected decrees issued Tuesday morning, Pope Francis removed the obligation of pontifical secrecy from clerical sexual abuse cases, and strengthened the Church’s canonical prohibition against clerical possession of child pornography.

The moves are the latest in a series of efforts by the pope to reform the Church’s approach to clerical sexual abuse and coercion, and sure to be welcomed by Catholics calling for reform on the issue. The legal changes come, however, as observers watch to see how Francis will act on several high-profile abuse cases.

The pope’s decision to end the obligation of pontifical secrecy on cases of abuse, coercion, or possession of child pornography is a move that some reformers and abuse survivors have called for since the emergence of the Theodore McCarrick scandal in June 2018. In fact, the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors recommended the move in 2017, before the McCarrick scandal exploded.

Formally speaking, the pontifical secret binds the secrecy of procedural and substantive acts of a canonical case concerning clerical abuse or coercion, or did, until the pope amended the Church’s law this week. This means that diocesan and Vatican officials will now be free to give summaries of how an internal canonical case was decided, or, if a case warrants it, even to release canonical trial documents themselves.

SBC’s new reporting process again fails clergy sex abuse survivors

Baptist Global News

Dec. 17, 2019

By Christa Brown

With its recent rollout of an online reporting process, the Southern Baptist Convention and its Credentials Committee have once again failed clergy sex abuse survivors and given them yet another reason to distrust the SBC as an institution.

As a survivor of childhood sexual abuse committed by an SBC pastor, I’ve been doing advocacy work related to Baptist clergy sex abuse for over 15 years. During this time, I’ve seen countless examples of institutional and individual betrayals and failures within the SBC, often accompanied by hollow words or duplicitous chicanery. So I’ve become a skeptic.

Over the past year I’ve seen many younger advocates and survivors in Baptist life also become skeptical.

While I whole-heartedly applaud their eyes-wide-open savvy and feel such gratitude for their energy and commitment, I also feel sorrow. When I began this work, I did so in the hope that younger people might be spared the re-traumatizing institutional recalcitrance that I had encountered. But tragically, the cycle seems to be repeating itself.

“The risks of such an unprotected process will almost certainly mean that many survivors will forego reporting.”

Like me, many of these younger survivors started out with some hope that they would be heard and that things would change. But in light of what they have seen at this year’s annual SBC meeting in Birmingham, the uncaring “Caring Well” conference, the ignoring of known survivors, the propping up of known enablers, the image-polishing PR tactics – and all without meaningful denominational action – many are becoming every bit as skeptical as me.

The SBC has effectively trained another generation to be rightfully wary of everything its leaders say about addressing the persistent problem of clergy sexual abuse.

Pope lifts secrecy obligation for those who report having been abused

Catholic News Service

Dec. 17, 2019

By Cindy Wooden

Pope Francis has abolished the obligation of secrecy for those who report having been sexually abused by a priest and for those who testify in a church trial or process having to do with clerical sexual abuse.

"The person who files the report, the person who alleges to have been harmed and the witnesses shall not be bound by any obligation of silence with regard to matters involving the case," the pope ordered in a new "Instruction On the Confidentiality of Legal Proceedings," published Dec. 17.

In an accompanying note, Bishop Juan Ignacio Arrieta, secretary of the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts, said the change regarding the "pontifical secret" has nothing to do with the seal of the sacrament of confession.

"The absolute obligation to observe the sacramental seal," he said, "is an obligation imposed on the priest by reason of the position he holds in administering the sacrament of confession and not even the penitent can free him of it."

Catholic activism, not repentance for sexual abuse, is what forces clergy to resign

The Conversation

Dec. 16, 2019

By Brian Clites

The Roman Catholic bishop of Buffalo, New York, Richard Malone, became the seventh U.S. bishop since 2015 to be forced out of power for his role in covering up clergy sexual abuse cases. Malone resigned on Dec. 4, stating that his departure stemmed from a recognition that “the people of Buffalo will be better served by a new bishop who perhaps is better able to bring about the reconciliation, healing and renewal that is so needed.”

By comparison, during the prior 35 years, only three U.S. bishops had resigned because of the scandal, even though there were more than 10,000 cases of clergy sexual abuse reported to the American bishops during that time.

In my research, I have found that this increase in bishop accountability is due not to an improvement in the Vatican’s protocols, but rather to the activism of local Catholic reform groups.

I study how survivors and their advocates have exposed the problem of clergy sexual abuse.

Survivors first went public with their stories of abuse in the 1980s. But other Catholics did not begin forming survivor-advocacy groups until 2002, when a series of reports detailing how Cardinal Bernard Law, then the archbishop of Boston, had protected more than 230 abusive priests.

The Catholic Diocese of Dallas hired a respected police officer. It must empower him

Morning News

Dec. 17, 2019

The road back to trust is deservedly long for the Catholic Diocese of Dallas.

The sexual abuse scandal that saw the church harbor abusive priests and shuffle them from parish to parish is impossible to comprehend, so dark and terrible were its intentions and consequences.

We are glad the church has taken and continues to take steps that, we hope, demonstrate a promise that never again will protecting the institution come before protecting the innocent and the vulnerable.

The diocese’s decision to hire a respected law enforcement officer, Dallas Police Deputy Chief Albert Martinez, to supervise the victim’s assistance coordinator and oversee parish security strikes us as an important step.

Jesuits of Canada to name priests accused of sexual abuse

Globe and Mail

Dec. 16, 2019

By Tavia Grant

The Jesuits of Canada, a religious order of the Catholic Church, has committed to publishing the names of priests who have been credibly accused of sexual abuse dating back about 60 years.

No other major Catholic diocese or religious order in Canada has made a public commitment of this kind to follow the example of a wave of disclosures in the United States. Many of the U.S. disclosures have taken place since the 2018 release of a grand jury investigation in Pennsylvania that found priests abused more than 1,000 children.

Montreal’s Dowd shows different face of ‘the bishops’ on the abuse crisis


Dec. 17, 2019

By John L. Allen Jr.

Every Catholic, sooner or later, is tempted to despair about “the bishops,” no matter what their particular lament or desideratum. As novelist John Sandford once had his hero detective, Lucas Davenport, put it, “Holy Rollers scream about Jesus, but Catholics scream at the bishops.”

On no front has that been truer of late than the clerical sexual abuse crisis. Indeed, sometimes it seems the lone thing the Catholic left and right can agree on vis-à-vis the scandals is the dismal performance of the hierarchy.

For everyone tempted to such a complaint, however, there’s also Bishop Thomas Dowd.

December 16, 2019

Pope abolishes ‘pontifical secret’ in clergy sex abuse cases

Associated Press

Dec. 17, 2019

By Nicole Winfield

Pope Francis abolished the “pontifical secret” used in clergy sexual abuse cases Tuesday, responding to mounting criticism that the high degree of confidentiality has been used to protect pedophiles, silence victims and prevent police from investigating crimes.

“The carnival of obscurity is over,” declared Juan Carlos Cruz, a prominent Chilean survivor of clergy abuse and advocate for victims.

In a new law, Francis decreed that information in abuse cases must be protected by church leaders to ensure its “security, integrity and confidentiality.” But he said “pontifical secret,” the highest form of confidentiality in the church, no longer applies to abuse-related accusations, trials and decisions under the Catholic Church’s canon law.

The Vatican’s leading sex crimes investigator, Archbishop Charles Scicluna, said the reform was an “epochal decision” that will facilitate coordination with civil law enforcement and open up lines of communication with victims.

While documentation from the church’s in-house legal proceedings will still not become public, Scicluna said, the reform now removes any excuse to not cooperate with legitimate legal requests from prosecutors, police or other authorities.

Francis also raised from 14 to 18 the cutoff age below which the Vatican considers pornographic images to be child pornography — a response to the Vatican’s increasing awareness of the prolific spread of online child porn that has frequently implicated even high-ranking churchmen.

The new laws were issued Tuesday, Francis’ 83rd birthday, as he struggles to respond to the global explosion of the abuse scandal, his own missteps and demands for greater transparency and accountability from victims, law enforcement and ordinary Catholics alike.

Child sexual abuse substantiated against ex-Oklahoma priest

Associated Press

Dec. 16, 2019

By Ken Miller

The Archdiocese of Oklahoma City said Monday it has substantiated an allegation of child sexual abuse against another priest.

The archdiocese said in a news release that Father Papa-Rao Pasala admitted to “inappropriate though not-yet criminal advances” with a 17-year-old in 2001 when he was assigned to a church in Edmond for one month before returning to his native India.

The archdiocese said it notified the Diocese of Baker in Oregon, where Pasala was serving as pastor and that the Oregon diocese removed him from the ministry on Dec. 6. Oklahoma City archdiocese spokeswoman Diane Clay said Pasala has returned to India for disciplinary action by the Diocese of Nellore and had no way of contacting him for comment.

The Diocese of Baker said in a news release that Pasala “will no longer be allowed to minister in the United States.”

Creditors: Parishes, schools part of archdiocese assets that could pay clergy abuse claims

Pacific Daily News

Dec. 17, 2019

By Haidee Eugenio Gilbert

Creditors of the Archdiocese of Agana asked the federal court for a partial summary judgment that, if granted, could pave the way for the use of Catholic parishes and schools' assets to pay some 280 clergy sex abuse claims.

These include everything from cars and vans to buildings, parishes, schools and cemetery property.

The creditors said the archdiocese, its parishes and its schools "are one and the same under civil law."

Because they are one and the same, the assets of these parishes and schools "should be available to pay creditor claims," the Official Committee of Unsecured Creditors, represented by Minnesota-based attorney Edwin Caldie, said in court filings pertaining to the archdiocese's bankruptcy case.

OKC Catholic archdioce adds name to list of credibly accused priests

The Oklahoman

Dec. 16, 2019

By Randy Ellis

A priest from India who served briefly in Oklahoma City in 2001 as been added to the list of priests who have been credibly accused of child sexual abuse, the Catholic Archdiocese of Oklahoma City announced Monday.

Father Papa-Rao Pasala's name has been added to the list of credibly accused priests, the local archdiocese announced Monday in a news release.

The archdiocese previously identified 11 other credibly accused priests in a report released last October.

Father Pasala, who served in the Archdiocese of Oklahoma City for a month in 2001, was sent back to India in December of that year after he admitted to what was described at the time as

Father Pasala's bishop in Nellore, India, was informed of the reason he was sent home at the time the action was taken, the Oklahoma City archdiocese said.

The allegation against Father Pasala resurfaced recently as Oklahoma City's McAfee & Taft law firm has continued to review files of child abuse allegations against priests within the archdiocese dating back to 1960, the news release said. The McAfee & Taft law firm prepared the previous 77-page report that identified 11 priests as having been credibly accused.

Bishop pardons 3 suspended priests

Daily MOnitor

Dec. 16, 2019

By Alex Ashaba

The Bishop of Ruwenzori Diocese, Reuben Kisembo, has pardoned three priests who were suspended in 2017 on allegations of sex scandals and abuse of office.

The pardon came during a church service at St Elizabeth Chapel of Kyembabe Girls yesterday in Fort Portal Town.

The priests are Rev Joel Manyindo, Rev Felix Bataligaya, and Rev Paul Mbusa Kinyerere. They all appeared in church to ask for forgiveness before Christians and the bishop.

“The Rwezori Diocese tribunal (under Church of Uganda) that sat on November 28 received the request of three suspended priests and decided to pardon them but they will be working under probation,” Bishop Kisembo said.

Since 2017, the priests have been requesting the diocesan tribunal and the church for a pardon.

Bishop Kisembo said the priests will work for unspecified probation in the newly appointed places but would not be allowed to conduct church baptism and weddings.

The bishop asked Christians to welcome the priests saying since they had been forgiven by the Church, they need to keep watching them as they serve their probation.

Priest murder adds to growing abuse scandal

The Tablet

Dec. 16, 2019

By Tom Heneghan

Two more cases of clerical sexual abuse have added new twists to the series of accusations that gnaw away at the image of the Church in France.

The murder of an elderly priest last month has slowly brought to light a sordid story of the priest's sexual abuse of the suspected killer and his father. The Bishop of Beauvais in northern France has been dragged into the scandal.

Fr Roger Matassoli, 91, was found dead on 4 November at his home near Beauvais, choked by a crucifix stuffed down his throat. There were also multiple blows to his body. A 19-year-old suspect named Alexandre was soon arrested but has been held in hospital because he appeared delirious.

A month later, the suspect’s father told a newspaper the priest had abused him years ago and still influenced him as an adult. Matassoli later abused Alexandre and had him clean his house while naked.

The father, given the pseudonym Stéphane by the daily Le Parisien, said the abuse had worsened Alexandre’s mental problems.

Fort Wayne Priest faces child sex abuse allegation


Dec. 16, 2019

By Jazlynn Bebout

The Diocese of Fort-Wayne South Bend has announced that a local priest has been credibly accused of sexually abusing a minor.

Fort Wayne's NBC received a statement from The Diocese that says they received an allegation on Dec. 10 against Father Joseph Gaughan, claiming he sexually abused a minor.

Father Joseph Gaughan most recently served as the pastor of Most Precious Blood Parish in Fort Wayne, but alleged abuse occurred over 20 years ago while he served at Saint Anthony de Padua Parish in South Bend.

The Diocese says they have determined the allegation to be credible and have informed authorities. Father Gaughan has also been placed on administrative leave.

Diocese of Charlotte Due to Release Names Soon as Debunked Cliches Are Bandied About by Catholic Officials

Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests

Dec. 16, 2019

Church leaders in the Diocese of Charlotte, North Carolina, announced in May that they would release a list of “credibly accused” clergy by the end of the year. Yet when talking about the impending release, the diocese’s current Vicar General continues to rely on disingenuous troupes, stating that the abuse of children by priests is a “thing of the past.”

Vicar General Patrick Winslow of the Diocese of Charlotte refers to clergy inflicted harm as a “thing of the past" in a recent interview. However, we believe when he is deliberately deflecting attention away from an ongoing problem whose roots have never been addressed by the Church. This is especially true considering his predecessor was found to be credibly accused of sexual misconduct with adults last month, and another Charlotte cleric was put on administrative leave just days ago after allegations of child sexual abuse were made against him.

A man in Fr. Winslow’s position can do much good, or much harm. His pronouncement, we fear, contributes to harm. Calling the clergy abuse scandal a “thing of the past” is a debunked myth that Catholic bishops and leaders have trotted out time and again since the Boston Scandal in 2002. Fr. Winslow should stop repeating these myths and instead look to the facts:

Vicar General Patrick Winslow of the Diocese of Charlotte refers to clergy inflicted harm as a “thing of the past" in a recent interview. However, we believe when he is deliberately deflecting attention away from an ongoing problem whose roots have never been addressed by the Church. This is especially true considering his predecessor was found to be credibly accused of sexual misconduct with adults last month, and another Charlotte cleric was put on administrative leave just days ago after allegations of child sexual abuse were made against him.

In defense of the church

Union Tribune

Dec. 12, 2019

I object to bigoted comments being made about tens of thousands of young people abused by the Catholic Church. It is a sweeping generality.

The church never abused anyone. Pedophiles lied their way into the church and took advantage of their positions. The clergy’s mistake was to not send parents to the police. If the pedophile confesses to a priest, then the “Seal of Confession” stops the priest from saying anything to anyone. It becomes difficult for them to report them to the police directly or even to their superiors. Therefore, all cases must be reported immediately to them by the parents or the priest to assure the quickest response to the situation.

The Associated Press has reported on similar type of abuse. It found 17,000 cases of abuse by students on students recorded, but not reported, in four years, while the reported cases in the church occurred over 70 years. There is no reporting requirement for these student abuses. Also, the AP feels that many incidents were not recorded and that school staffs ignored many.

What is worse, Wikipedia reports 81% of students were sexually harassed in school, 83% of girls were harassed, 78% of boys were harassed, 38% were harassed by teachers or school employees 36% of school employees or teachers were harassed by students and 42% of school employees or teachers were harassed by each other.

Domenick Amato, Rancho Bernardo

Vatican laicizes former Diocese of Boise priest

Catholic Sentinel

Dec.15, 2019

The Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith has informed Diocese of Boise Bishop Peter Christensen that Thomas Faucher, a former priest in the diocese, has been dismissed from the clerical state. Bishop Christensen has informed Faucher of the decision, which the Vatican calls “serious and unappealable.”

Faucher, who also was an official in Oregon’s Baker Diocese in the 1990s and pastor of St. Edward Parish in Sisters, is currently serving a 25-year sentence after pleading guilty to two felony charges of possession of child pornography, two felony charges of distribution of child pornography, and a single felony charge for possession of LSD. Idaho investigators found more than 2,500 files of child pornography on his electronic devices.

“There are no excuses for such behavior by any one of our clergy,” Bishop Christensen said. He urged Catholics and all people of good will to pray for the victims of child pornography or any form of child abuse as well as for all those, including Faucher, “who fall into such depravity, placing the eternal welfare of their souls in serious jeopardy.”

At the time of Faucher’s Feb. 2, 2017, arrest, he had been retired from active ministry for nearly three years and was immediately removed from any future ministry.

Abuse headteacher left his money to ex-council leader and priest to clear his name after death

Eastern Daily Press

Dec. 16, 2019

A paedophile headmaster left his estate to a Catholic priest and an ex-council leader, we can reveal today, in the hope he could quash his conviction after his death.

Derek Slade died aged 66 in March 2016 while serving a 21-year sentence at Norwich Prison for abusing 12 boys at St George's School in Norfolk and Suffolk.

Slade was convicted of more than 50 charges including sexual assault, beatings and child pornography at the private school, between 1978 and 1983.

Boys suffered horrific beatings and sexual abuse at St George's in Wicklewood, which moved to Finborough in Suffolk in 1980 and has since changed its name.

As headmaster, Slade made boys as young as eight strip naked for beatings and then forced them to write essays about the whippings, his trial at Ipswich Crown Court heard in 2010.

For Chrissake, let Catholics ordain women, priests marry

Daily Nation

Dec. 15, 2019

By Makau Mutua

Let’s separate man-made religious law from holy text. In the Church, canonical law are rules made by ecclesiastical authority, or Church leadership, for the governance of the flock.

It shouldn’t be confused with the Bible. Messianic religions, of which there are two – Islam and Christianity – are guilty of grave historical wrongs.

Established and recognised religions, including some of the largest – Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, Confucianism, Taoism, Hinduism, African religions, and Judaism – involve both individual conscience, belief, and community identity. By and large, public authorities in democracies generally permit religions to establish their own internal rules.

But not all internal religious rules are godly, ethical or even moral. The same is true of religious practices throughout history. Some have been abominable. Others are clearly discriminatory. Today, I focus on two new progressive practices the Catholic Church needs to accept – the ordination of women and marriage of priests.

Recently, the synod of Amazon bishops voted – in a meeting with Pope Francis in Vatican City – to allow married men to become priests. The Amazon plea was largely driven by pragmatic logic. The shortage of priests in the Amazon is so acute that many faithful Catholics go for years without attending mass or receiving the Eucharist. The cure to the problem is hiding in plain sight – allow priests to marry and the shortage vanishes. To his credit, Pope Francis, as he has done throughout his papacy, seemed to signal an opening in special cases. Despite stiff conservative opposition to allowing priests to marry, Pope Francis urged “openness to new ways”. He could rule on the issue by year’s end. Given the politics and dynamics in the Church, it’s doubtful that Pope Francis will go beyond a marginal relaxation of the rules requiring celibacy. But to be clear, celibacy isn’t required by the Bible, or any scripture, although the Apostle Paul recommended it in the First Letter to the Corinthians.

KATC awarded 2019 Suncoast Emmy Award


Dec. 14, 2019

KATC has been awarded a Suncoast Regional Emmy Award for their program focusing on the accusations of sexual abuse in the Diocese of Lafayette.

Congratulations to KATC's Jim Hummel, Letitia Walker, David Hilbun, Angie Simoneaux, and Wynce Nolley on their work on "The List: Accusations of Abuse in the Diocese of Lafayette."

You can read that story here.

In a half-hour special report, KATC-TV exposed a long-kept secret in the Diocese of Lafayette: The List of priests who faced credible accusations of sexual abuse involving children.

In the 1980s, the diocese was home to the first reported case of clergy sex abuse in the country. The scandal persisted in this devoutly Catholic region for decades and the diocese eventually acknowledged that 15 priests were credibly accused. Over the years abuse survivors called for the 15 names to be made public, yet the diocese refused. As recently as 2014 a former bishop said he saw "no purpose" in releasing the 15 names.

December 15, 2019

'I cannot comprehend': Sex abuse royal commissioner slams Catholic leaders

The Age

December 10, 2019

By Miki Perkins

The head of Australia’s royal commission into child sex abuse has condemned Catholic church leaders for failing to recognise the sexual assault of children as a crime.

Speaking publicly about the royal commission for the first time, Justice Peter McClellan said on Tuesday that commissioners had heard from many leaders of the Catholic church, some of whom argued sexual abuse was a “moral failure” rather than a criminal act.

“I cannot comprehend how any person, much less one with qualifications in theology ... could consider the rape of a child to be a moral failure but not a crime,” Justice McClellan said in a speech to the Australian Human Rights Commission. “This statement by leaders of the Catholic Church marks out the corruption within the Church both within Australia, and it seems from reports, in many other parts of the world.”

Rather than ensuring that offenders were subject to the criminal law, ineffectual attempts at "treatment" of offenders was undertaken by the church, he said.

Hudson Valley nun accused of sexually abusing student in 1960s

News 12 TV

December 10, 2019


A former student at St. Joseph School in Middletown is accusing a former nun of sexual abuse dating back to the mid-1960s.

The accuser, Pamela Hayes, says she suffered for nearly five years at the hands of Sister Ann Peterson.

Peterson is accused of sexually abusing Hayes from 1963 to 1967, by "hugging, kissing, massaging, caressing and touching her breasts and genitals" according to court documents.

Editorial: Bishop Scharfenberger sounds the right notes

The Buffalo News

December 15, 2019

By News Editorial Board

The interim leader of Buffalo’s Catholic Diocese makes a strong first impression.

Albany Bishop Edward Scharfenberger, who was named the diocese’s temporary administrator after Bishop Richard J. Malone retired this month, had his first public meeting with Western New York Catholics on Dec. 7, at an event at Canisius College organized by the Movement to Restore Trust.

Scharfenberger met with Michael Whalen, whose story of abuse by a local priest set in motion the clergy abuse scandal in Buffalo. The bishop told Whalen, “I believe that our victim survivors, they are our family” and an essential part of the church’s mission.

Judge: Diocese doesn't have to pay for victim's counseling

Associated Press via the Register Citizen

December 15, 2019

A man who says he was abused by a priest has no legal argument to compel the Roman Catholic Diocese of Portland to pay for his psychological counseling, a Maine judge has ruled.

David Gagnon, formerly of Biddeford, sued the Portland diocese in small claims court when it avoided paying his $875 counseling bill.

Gagnon, 54, says he was abused by a priest for more than five years when he was a teenager in the 1980s. He reported the abuse to church officials in 1991. Bishop Joseph Gerry issued a letter in 2002 saying that survivors of clergy sexual abuse would be reimbursed for counseling.

Ex-Conroe priest accused of rape, propositioning clergy for sex

Houston Chronicle

December 13, 2019

By Nicole Hensley

A Houston-area priest allegedly propositioned another priest for sex in the months before he was arrested and jailed in 2018 on multiple counts of indecency with a child, according to court records mistakenly made public this week.

In the newly filed documents, Montgomery County prosecutors also say Manuel La Rosa-Lopez raped a woman in 2005. Prosecutors outlined both allegations in a “notice of extraneous conduct and/or bad acts” ahead of the priest’s February trial. The latest encounter happened in May 2018 when La Rosa-Lopez allegedly exposed himself to another priest at a Galveston County hotel and asked for oral sex. After the priest declined, the accused cleric then asked him if he would “like to be assigned to a larger parish.”

Across the country, the Catholic church is under pressure to name abusers

The Globe and Mail

December 13, 2019

By Tavia Grant

Survivors of clergy abuse across Canada are mobilizing, with growing calls for greater transparency and accountability in the Catholic church over its handling of sexual abuse cases.

Actions span from London, Ont., where a group of survivors has published names of credibly accused priests, to St. John’s, where the archbishop is under pressure to release names, and Ottawa, where a petition to the House of Commons is calling for a public inquiry.

In Vancouver’s archdiocese, a review committee uncovered 36 sexual abuse cases over the past 70 years, from which nine names were published - the first such disclosure for a Catholic diocese in Canada. The report recommended creating a national review board to hold bishops accountable, and a nationwide registry of credible allegations of clerical sexual abuse.

Bond set at $1 million for former Deacon George Brignac in child rape case


December 13, 2019

By Chris Finch

A criminal court judge set bond at $1 million for former Catholic Church Deacon George Brignac. The 82-year-old entered a not guilty plea on Friday morning (Dec. 13) at Orleans Criminal Court.

He was booked into jail at 12:23 p.m. on a charge of first-degree rape.

Brignac was formally charged by an Orleans grand jury yesterday for the aggravated rape of a child.

Church trustees sue city over child abuse probe

Associated Press via Virginia Lawyers Weekly

December 14, 2019

Trustees of a Chesapeake church claim city workers defamed the organization when talking about allegations of abuse.

Last year, a Chesapeake social worker determined abuse allegations had been substantiated against five Deep Creek United Methodist Church childcare workers. But court records show the city attorney’s office reversed that ruling weeks later, saying the allegation actually were unsubstantiated, according to The Virginian-Pilot.

The lawsuit against the city’s Department of Human Services and two of its workers says the workers published false statements accusing church workers of abuse, tarnishing the church’s reputation and leading more than half its enrolled children to leave. The church once cared for more than 250 children at its two childcare centers.

Cries of abuse in Catholic Church start to be heard in Japan

Associated Press

December 14, 2019

By Yuri Kageyama

During Pope Francis’ recent visit to Japan, Harumi Suzuki stood where his motorcade passed by holding a sign that read: “I am a survivor.”

Katsumi Takenaka stood at another spot, on another day, holding up his banner that read, “Catholic child sexual abuse in Japan, too.”

The two are among a handful of people who have gone public as survivors of Catholic clergy sexual abuse in Japan, where values of conformity and harmony have resulted in a strong code of silence.

But as in other parts of the world, from Pennsylvania to Chile, Takenaka and Suzuki are starting to feel less alone as other victims have come forward despite the ostracism they and their family members often face for speaking out.

Their public denunciation is all the more remarkable, given Catholics make up less than 0.5% of Japan’s population. To date, the global abuse scandal has concentrated on heavily Catholic countries, such as Ireland, the U.S. and now, many countries in Latin America.

Bishop of Lincoln takes leave of absence

Lincoln Journal-Star

December 13, 2019

By Riley Johnson

Lincoln Bishop James Conley has taken a leave of absence to seek treatment after being diagnosed with depression, anxiety, insomnia and tinnitus, the diocese announced Friday.

“My doctors have directed me to take a leave of absence for medical and psychological treatment, and to get some much-needed rest," Conley said in a news release.

"After prayer, and seeking the counsel of my spiritual director, my brother bishops, and my family, I have accepted the medical necessity of a temporary leave of absence."

Conley's leave is effective immediately, and Pope Francis has appointed Omaha Archbishop George Lucas to handle the administrative duties for the Lincoln diocese in Conley's absence, according to the release.

Conley, 64, plans to return to his post after undergoing "the best psychological and medical treatment available to me," the release said.

In a letter to parishioners, Conley said he'd been dealing with the medical issues on his own.

"For months, I’ve tried to work through these issues on my own through spiritual direction, counseling, and prayer," Conley said. "It has been difficult to accept that my mental health problems are real health problems, and not just a defect of my character, especially during a year of difficulty for our diocese."

Earlier this year, the diocese had publicly identified nine former priests who had served in the diocese and been credibly accused of sexual abuse of minors.

The Nebraska Attorney General's Office is investigating allegations of sexual misconduct in the Diocese of Lincoln and Archdiocese of Omaha.

A woman who works with sexual misconduct survivors says Harvey Weinstein's tentative $25 million settlement isn't surprising because victims are used to settling for 'less than what we deserve'


December 14, 2019

By Kelly McLaughlin

- Laura Palumbo, communications director for the National Sexual Violence Resource Center, told Insider that she's not surprised by Harvey Weinstein's tentative $25 million settlement with women who have accused him of sexual misconduct.

- Palumbo said having to settle for less than what is deserved is "just a reality" for many victims of sexual assault.

- In the tentative settlement, Weinstein won't have to admit any wrongdoing, and the funds will be paid by Weinstein Company insurers.

- More than 30 women — both actresses and Weinstein Company employees —have accused Weinstein of sexual misconduct. The settlement would resolve several civil lawsuits that have been filed against him since 2017.

Tennessee pastor gets 38 years in child sex abuse sentence

Associated Press via Lincoln (NE) Journal-Star

December 15, 2019

A Tennessee pastor faces 38 years in prison after being found guilty on 24 counts involving child sex abuse.

News outlets report that 41-year-old Ronnie Gorton received the sentence Friday in Tipton County. He was convicted on charges including sexual battery and statutory rape in August.

Judge Joe Walker said at the sentencing that Gorton used his position of authority as he “groomed minors for his sexual perversion.”

Former Biddeford man, abused by priest, loses court battle over $875 counseling payment

Portland Herald

December 15, 2019

By Eric Russell

The sex abuse scandal in the Roman Catholic Church has been exposed in large and loud ways over the years – on the front pages of newspapers across the country detailing massive financial payouts to thousands of abuse survivors and the removal or criminal prosecution of hundreds of priests.

Just this year it was reported that more survivors than ever are coming forward, leading to a dramatic increase in financial settlements and a renewed crisis for the church.

But for one abuse survivor, it played out in a much quieter way – in small claims court in Portland, where the local Catholic diocese successfully avoided paying his psychological counseling bill totaling $875.

December 14, 2019

‘No logical connection’ between celibacy and abuse, CDF official says

Catholic News Agency

Dec 13, 2019

A senior official at the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith has defended clerical celibacy in the wake of the abuse crisis.

In an essay published in a Spanish magazine, Fr. Jordi Bertomeu Farnós said that there is “no evidence” celibacy has any relation to instances of sexual abuse, and warned that priests have been unfairly branded a suspect class.

In the essay, published in Palabra Dec. 10, Fr. Farnós laid out the context of sexual abuse by Catholic priests, noting that the high-profile nature of the scandals has resulted in a number of mistaken presumptions about the causes of abuse.

“Although unfortunately, in all social classes, professions, ethnic groups and, of course, religions, there is the phenomenon of child abuse, Catholic priests are seen or even increasingly treated as ‘suspects’ of having committed this horrible crime.”

Speaking against attempts to link the discipline of celibacy to crimes of sexual abuse, Farnós said that “regardless of other circumstances and arguments that have emerged in the recent Synod for the Amazon,” “this conclusion does not present any logical connection with the problem we are dealing with here: there is no scientific data that demonstrates that a married life would put an end to the deviant behavior of these few priests with this sexual disorder.”

“There is no evidence that priestly celibacy directly causes any deviant sexual addiction, as evidenced by those cases of men or women who, due to life's circumstances, must live as celibate.”

“In addition,” he added, “celibacy has never been considered as a relevant parameter to identify abusers. Rather, most abusers are married men. Priests, mostly celibate men are… usually characterized precisely for their psychological balance, for their availability and selfless delivery to all, not only to the Catholic faithful.”

Farnós went on to offer a strident defense of the discipline of celibacy which, he said, was often unintelligible to modern society.

Jury selected for volunteer accused of sexually assaulting boys at N. Charleston church

WCSC Live 5

Dec. 10, 2019

A jury was selected on Tuesday in the trial of a man accused of sexually assaulting multiple young boys inside a North Charleston church.

Jacop Hazlett’s trial will start Wednesday morning. The trial concerns just six of the 23 charges against him including first-degree criminal sexual conduct with a minor, three counts of third-degree criminal sexual conduct with a minor and two counts of first-degree sexual exploitation of a minor.

The trial also only pertains to four of the 15 alleged victims.

It was a long day in court on Tuesday with the jury being selected first.

Pre-trial motions were then made where evidence was presented, without the jury’s presence, to determine which items they will be shown during the trial.

One item prosecutors put forth was a video interview of Hazlett conducted by a police investigator.

In the video, Hazlett can be heard telling the investigator that he touched the private parts of children and took pictures of them as well.

Hazlett says he did this while he was a volunteer at the the Newspring Church.

During this portion of the court hearing, Hazlett was seen crying while watching the interrogation videos.

Priest abuse survivor: ‘Our trust in our faith was blind’

The Hour

Dec. 14, 2019

By Erin Kayata

It was a sighting of the priest allegedly driving a teenage boy alone in his car that prompted a church official to report Rev. Jaime Marin-Cardona.

The report led to an investigation and Marin-Cardona being placed on leave from the church while the state Department of Children and Families and the Danbury Police examine the abuse allegations.

Being alone in a car with a minor violates one of the many policies in the Diocese of Bridgeport’s Safe Environment Handbook.

Watchdog Team: Former priest sues Providence Diocese

Providencen Journal

Dec. 14, 2019

By Brian Amaral

In a lawsuit filed Friday, John Tormey said his inclusion on the list of clergy who’d been “credibly accused” of sexually abusing minors cost him his job and subjected him to shame, ridicule and disgrace.

A former Rhode Island priest whose name appeared on the Roman Catholic Diocese of Providence’s list of clergy who’d been “credibly accused” of sexually abusing minors has sued the diocese and Bishop Thomas Tobin for defamation.

In a lawsuit filed Friday, John Tormey said his inclusion on the list cost him his job and subjected him to shame, ridicule and disgrace. He never sexually abused anyone, he said, and the diocese didn’t give him an opportunity to defend himself before defaming his character.

“My client has been hesitant to take legal action against the institution which he proudly served and has remained faithful to for his entire life, both before, during, and since his service to the ministry,” his lawyer, Christopher T. Millea, said in a written statement. “But his reputation has been irreparably harmed by his inclusion on the list published by the Diocese and Bishop Tobin, and he feels this is his only remedy to such a horrible situation. Mr. Tormey loves his faith and his Church, despite having to take such actions. He looks forward to addressing these claims for the wrongs committed against him by the Diocese and or others in a court of law.”

Panel's proposal to end grand jury reports draws opposition

Associated Press

Dec. 14, 2019

By Mark Scolforo

A state court system task force wants Pennsylvania to stop issuing grand jury reports, an idea that faces long odds in the Legislature, which would have to pass a new law to halt the practice.

The Supreme Court-appointed task force, consisting of five lawyers and two judges, issued its report last month, just a day or two after lawmakers cast final votes on four bills designed to help victims of child sexual abuse. It was legislation that an investigative grand jury proposed last year, when it found that hundreds of Roman Catholic priests had sexually abused children over seven decades.

The task force's recommendations are not binding and being forwarded to the high court's Criminal Procedural Rules Committee. But it will be up to the General Assembly to decide whether to prohibit grand jury reports or, in another recommendation, authorize smaller counties to form regional grand juries.

If the reports are not stopped, the task force majority said, they should at least no longer include information that is critical of people by name if they are not expected to face criminal charges.

A spokesman for the majority Republican caucus in the state House, Mike Straub, said leaders are not inclined to do away with grand jury reports.

"Grand jury reports are one way the courts can communicate with the Legislature," Straub said, citing the clergy abuse report. “If we dismiss the importance of that work, we are reducing the ability of the three branches of government to effectively communicate and work together in the best interest of Pennsylvanians.”

In the Senate, Republican leaders said they need more time to study the report, while the ranking Democrat on the Judiciary Committee, Sen. Larry Farnese of Philadelphia, said the report was inadequate and wants senators to perform their own review of the grand jury system.

Pueblo Diocese offers assurances after abuse reports

Pueblo Chieftain

Dec. 14, 2019

By Anthony A. Mestas

The Most Rev. Stephen Berg said his hurt is indescribable, knowing that children have been sexually abused by priests in the Pueblo Diocese and throughout the Catholic Church nationwide.

Berg, who grew up in a strong Catholic family and attended Catholic schools, said he wasn’t exposed to anything like this growing up.

“As I became a priest, I was 49 years old. Soon after is really when this stuff started to hit with the Dallas Charter. I was in Fort Worth (Texas), and dealing with these situations has basically been an intrinsic part of my life,” Berg said, thumbing through a notebook containing the Pueblo Diocese’s policies and procedures in dealing with reported abuse.

The diocese has adopted a zero-tolerance policy, removing any priest or minister for any act of sexual misconduct with a minor. And the diocese immediately reports any suspected child abuse to law enforcement and cooperates fully in any investigation.

Since 2002, the church has been designated as mandated reporters. A mandated reporter is a person who, because of his or her profession, is legally required to report any suspicion of child abuse or neglect to the relevant authorities.

Berg says that any reasonable suspicion of sexual misconduct of any kind and any abuse to a child — including physical abuse — is to be immediately reported to the vicar for clergy, the vicar general, the director of human resources and the bishop himself.

Top Vatican official says celibacy, homosexuality not cause of abuse crisis


Dec. 14, 2019

By Inés San Martín

He is both one of the quietest Vatican officials, and one of the Roman Curia’s least known personalities. He is a member of the team that handles the allegations of clerical sexual abuse that arrive in Rome, and he played a key role in the shakeup of the Catholic Church in Chile which has been ravaged by a clerical abuse crisis.

This means that on the rare occasions Spanish Father Jordi Bertomeu speaks, his words have weight. He did so at length this week in a 2,800-word essay published by the Spanish magazine Palabra, where he discusses the role the hot button topics of celibacy, the Church’s ban on the ordination of women, and homosexuality have on the abuse of children.

In short, none: He argues being celibate, being a man or being gay does not make a person a sexual abuser.

Last year, the Spaniard was tapped by Pope Francis to head to Chile with Archbishop Charles Scicluna of Malta, another member of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF), to try to understand the situation regarding clerical sexual abuse in the country. The result was a document thousands of pages long that led to the resignation of the entire episcopate; to date, the pontiff has accepted eight.

Cries of abuse in Catholic Church start to be heard in Japan

Associated Press

Dec. 13, 2019

By Yuri Kageyama

During Pope Francis’ recent visit to Japan, Harumi Suzuki stood where his motorcade passed by holding a sign that read: “I am a survivor.”

Katsumi Takenaka stood at another spot, on another day, holding up his banner that read, “Catholic child sexual abuse in Japan, too.”

The two are among a handful of people who have gone public as survivors of Catholic clergy sexual abuse in Japan, where values of conformity and harmony have resulted in a strong code of silence.

But as in other parts of the world, from Pennsylvania to Chile, Takenaka and Suzuki are starting to feel less alone as other victims have come forward despite the ostracism they and their family members often face for speaking out.

Their public denunciation is all the more remarkable, given Catholics make up less than 0.5% of Japan’s population. To date, the global abuse scandal has concentrated on heavily Catholic countries, such as Ireland, the U.S. and now, many countries in Latin America.

All of which could explain why the Catholic hierarchy in Japan has been slow to respond to the scandal, which involves not only children being sexually abused but adults in spiritual direction — an increasingly common phenomenon being denounced in the #MeToo era.

In a recent case, police were investigating allegations by a woman in Nagasaki, the region with the greatest concentration of Catholics in Japan, that a priest touched her inappropriately last year.

Japanese media reports said the woman had been hospitalized for PTSD. Police confirmed an investigation was underway but the church declined to provide details, citing privacy concerns.

The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Japan launched a nationwide investigation into sexual abuse of women and children this year, responding to the Vatican’s demand for an urgent response to the global crisis.

The results haven’t been disclosed, and it’s unclear when they might be ready. Similar studies have been carried out by the U.S., German and Dutch churches, with the findings made public, and government-mandated inquiries have devastated the church’s credibility in countries like Australia .

Look back law' could revive thousands of Florida child sex abuse cases


Dec. 13, 2019

By Danielle Waugh

Thousands of survivors of childhood sexual abuse in Florida could soon have a window of time to file civil lawsuits against their abusers, even if their statute of limitations already expired.

Lauren Book, a state senator from Broward County, announced legislation this week that includes a one year look back window for child sex abuse claims.

"I think there is a strong will [to pass this legislation] because of the things we have seen in our state: Jeffrey Epstein, and several other cases," Sen. Book said.

Sixteen other states and Washington D.C. already have some form of a look back law, according to statute of limitations reform advocacy group CHILD USA.

The thinking behind these pieces of legislation is that it often takes child victims many years to report the abuse they suffered and, in many cases, the statute of limitation expires before they're ready to come forward.

New York is one of the most recent states to adopt a look back window through the Child Victims Act.

The new law allowed Epstein accuser Jennifer Araoz to sue the convicted predator's estate.

In an op-ed for the New York Times, Araoz wrote: "For years I felt crushed by the power imbalance between Epstein, with his enablers, and me. The Child Victims Act finally offers a counterweight...I hope more states pass similar laws so that more survivors who endured abuse, assault and rape as a child can know what wrestling back their power feels like."

Jack Scarola, a West Palm Beach-based attorney who represents multiple Epstein accusers in Florida, believes there are many more women like Araoz in South Florida.

December 13, 2019

New Poll Reveals Catholics’ Displeased with Bishops’ Handling of Clergy Sex Abuse Scandal

Legal News Blog

Dec. 11, 2019

By Attorney Adam Horowitz

EWTN News and RealClear Opinion Research partnered to conduct an in depth survey on Catholic voters’ attitudes prior to the 2020 election. When it came to the clergy sexual abuse scandal, the survey reveals that American Catholics are overwhelmingly displeased with the handling of the scandal by their local Bishops. Only 30% of Catholics approve of the Bishops’ handling of the scandal, compared to 55% who disapprove. Their view of the Pope’s handling of clergy sexual abuse was somewhat better than their ranking of their own local Bishops. 44% of Catholics approve of the Pope’s handling of the crisis, while 41% say they disapprove. This data reflects the vast amount of Amenrican Catholics who are angered by the sexual abuse crisis and the inability of Church leadership to address the problem and the spiritual needs of their parishioners.

As the American Catholic landscape has evolved there has been a sweeping desire for modern reformation in the Church beyond just controlling the rampant sex abuse crisis. According to the poll, the majority of Catholic voters are in favor of allowing priests to marry (64% of all Catholic voters) and for women to be ordained as deacons (69% of all Catholic voters).

“This data poll confirms the differences in ethnicity, age, and ideology within the Catholic community that make it such a pastoral challenge for bishops and such an electoral opportunity for politicians,” said John Carr, director of the Initiative on Catholic Social Thought and Public Life at Georgetown University.

Victoria Cops: Cardinal Pell Investigation Could Distract from Major Police Scandal

National Catholic Register

Dec. 13, 2019

By Ed Condon

Senior police officials in the Australian state of Victoria discussed by email the way that their 2014 investigation into Cardinal George Pell could deflect public scrutiny from an emerging corruption scandal in the force.

In a 2014 email exchange, then-Deputy Commissioner Graham Ashton and Charlie Morton, assistant director of media and corporate communications for the Victoria police department, discussed how to respond to a high-profile scandal which would hamper the credibility of Victoria police operations.

In an email dated April 1, 2014, Morton advised Ashton not to make a media appearance in response to the “Lawyer X” scandal, because forthcoming announcements about Cardinal Pell could distract media and public attention.

In Failing Health, Former Catholic Priest Appeals Murder Conviction

Courthouse News

Dec. 13, 2019

By Erik De La Garza

A former Catholic priest convicted two years ago of murder in the 1960 death of a South Texas schoolteacher is asking a state appellate court for a new trial based largely on hearsay claims from witness testimony.

In a 152-page filing made public on Friday, an attorney for John Feit, 87, urged the 13th Court of Appeals to reverse his conviction, arguing 11 points of error to support the former priest’s decades-old claim that he had nothing to do with the Easter weekend 1960 suffocation death of Irene Garza, an elementary schoolteacher and former Miss South Texas.

Testimony at Feit’s seven-day trial in Edinburg centered around an alleged 57-year-old Catholic Church-led conspiracy blamed for covering up Garza’s murder, one of the nation’s oldest cases brought to trial.

“There were no eye witnesses to corroborate the state’s theory that appellant was responsible,” defense attorney O. Rene Flores wrote in the brief. “There was no physical, scientific, or forensic evidence obtained in the 56 years since the disappearance and murder of Irene Garza that somehow linked appellant to this offense.”

According to Flores, jurors were fed hearsay statements from the onset of the trial and should not have heard testimony from Dale Tacheny, a former monk and key prosecution witness who claimed Feit confessed to murdering a woman – his former parishioner – while the two were at a Trappist monastery in Ava, Missouri in 1963.

On the first day of trial, former TV news reporter turned attorney Darryl Davis testified that Feit escaped justice because prosecutors in the 1960s cut a deal with the Catholic Church: Feit would not be prosecuted for Garza’s murder if he agreed to plead no-contest in a case involving 20-year-old college student Maria America Guerra.

Guerra, who did not testify during trial because of health issues, was attacked by Feit from behind as she knelt to pray in church, prosecutors said. Feit pleaded no-contest in 1962 to a reduced charge of aggravated assault in that case after a trial ended in a hung jury the year before.

US bishops in Rome ask Pope Francis about McCarrick report

Catholic News Agency

Dec. 13, 2019

By Courtney Mares

American bishops from the Midwest met with Pope Francis this week with questions about the outcome of the Vatican’s investigation of Theodore McCarrick.

“I did ask about the McCarrick situation. That was something that all of us were very interested in knowing where this was going. And very glad to hear that a report is coming, and not sure when it will be, probably after the beginning of the new year,” Bishop Earl Boyea of Lansing told EWTN Dec. 13.

The seventeen bishops from Ohio and Michigan (Region VI of the US bishops) met with the pope for two hours Dec. 10 as a part of their ad limina visit to Rome, and had the opportunity to ask the pope questions.

Bishop Boyea said he asked Pope Francis about the promised McCarrick report, and that the pope described it for them. He said that the bishops also discussed the report with the Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin.

Parolin is "a little more nervous about the reception of this in the public," he added.

The Vatican announced that it would conduct a review of files on McCarrick in October 2018.

Convicted Priest Set to Appear Before Parole Board, SNAP Hopes He Will Remain Behind Bars

Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests

Dec. 13, 2019

A priest in Kentucky who was convicted of child sexual abuse in 2016 has a parole hearing at 2:00 PM on December 16, 2019 in Frankfort. The hearing is open to the public. We hope that he will be kept behind bars and away from other vulnerable children.

Fr. Joseph Hemmerle was convicted in 2016 for sexually abusing a child at a Meade County summer camp in the 1970s. The cleric subsequently appealed his case to the Kentucky supreme court, arguing that the prosecution had not proven intent. During the trial, Fr. Hemmerle admitted to touching the genitals of not only the victim in this case, but also other children over the 40 years he served as director of Camp Tall Trees. He claims that he was only applying medicine, even though the victim in the case testified that he did not have poison ivy on his genitals. Also, Fr. Hemmerle seems to discount that a 10 year old boy can apply the medicine himself and even their own mother would not touch them in that way at that age. Fortunately, that nonsensical argument was shot down by the justices and Fr. Hemmerle remained in jail.

Now, after serving less than three years of a recommended nine-year sentence from two convictions, the parole board will be reviewing his case on Monday. However, not only has Fr. Hemmerle never expressed any remorse for his actions, but he also argued in this appeal that the court never proved intent.

Victims in Colorado Continue to Come Forward

Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests

Dec. 13, 2019

According to reports, at least sixteen more victims of clergy abuse in Colorado have come forward since the special master’s report was released earlier this year. One of those survivors is sharing his story publicly in hopes it helps others.

We applaud Daniel Masias for speaking out and are confident that his courage and example will help others in Colorado who are still unsure about coming forward or seeking justice. As he says in his statement, he was not interviewed as part of the Special Master's report.

There is little doubt that the Colorado report naming only 43 priests is deficient. The most glaring hole in the report is the lack of order clerics who abused. The Capuchins, for example, have headquarters in Denver and one of their own, Archbishop Charles Chaput, previously worked as the Archbishop of Denver. He is currently the Archbishop of Philadelphia. We believe one reason no order priests are named in the report may be because of Archbishop Chaput’s outsized influence. The Capuchins from Denver, known as the Province of St. Conrad, have abusers who have hurt children all over their territory. Surely some were hurt in Colorado.

Rochester Diocese using old legal 'playbook' by declaring bankruptcy, say victims' advocates

National Catholic Reporter

Dec 13, 2019

By Sarah Salvadore

When the Rochester Diocese became the first in New York State to file for bankruptcy in September, it didn't come as a surprise to legal experts. With the state passing the Child Victims Act in August, extending the statute of limitations for sex abuse victims, the diocese was served with hundreds of lawsuits alleging abuse, dating back decades.

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Reeling under the financial weight of clerical sexual misconduct lawsuits, Rochester joined a list of other dioceses across the country that have also filed for bankruptcy protection.

While not surprising, bankruptcy declarations, say victim advocates and legal scholars, deny victims their day in court, cover up wrongdoings and result in lower settlements.

Financial distress is not always the reason a diocese declares bankruptcy. The procedure can be used for a variety of purposes often beneficial to a diocese that wants to avoid the discovery that might be required in a trial, as a means of financial reorganization, or as a path to dealing in the most efficient way with groups of complainants.

Bankruptcy can be used, experts say, to help push aside litigation. Jeff Anderson — a Minnesota-based attorney who represents survivors of clerical sex abuse against the Catholic church across the U.S. — said bankruptcy cases are often used to accomplish financial reorganization.

Former Newburgh bishop, priest accused of sex abuse

Times Herald-Record

Dec. 12, 2019

By Chris McKenna

A former parishioner of St. Patrick’s Church on Grand Street alleges in a new lawsuit that both a bishop and another priest at the church sexually abused him when he was a boy.

The accused clergymen are Bishop Austin Vaughn, who was named pastor of the Newburgh church in 1979, and the Rev. Donald Whelan, who was made administrator at around the same time, according to the St. Patrick’s website. Both men are now deceased; Vaughn died in 2000 and Whelan in 1987.

The lawsuit filed in state Supreme Court in Manhattan on Nov. 26 by Jack Shapiro says the acts occurred on church property between 1979 and 1984, but gives no other details. Shapiro’s Manhattan attorney, Peter Saghir, declined on Thursday to discuss the allegations, and said only that his client lives in New York.

The case, which names St. Patrick’s and the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of New York as defendants, is part of a flood of lawsuits filed in New York since Aug. 14 under the Child Victims Act, a state law that gave people who were sexually abused as children a one-year window to bring civil claims that otherwise would be barred by the statute of limitations.

Ex-priest sent forward for trial

Munster Express

Dec. 13, 2019

A former Catholic priest has been sent forward for trial accused of possessing child pornography.Oliver O’Grady appeared in Waterford District Court last Tuesday December 3rd. He is accused of possessing a video of an underage girl being sexually abused, found at an address in Waterford in 2015.

Mr O’Grady worked as a Catholic priest in California in the 1970s before returning to Ireland in the early 2000s. Mr O’ Grady appeared in Waterford District Court last Tuesday, December 3rd, before Judge Staunton, who referred his case to the next sitting of Waterford Circuit Court.

Judge Staunton directed Mr O’Grady that if he wishes to rely on alibi evidence for the trial, he must give notice within fourteen days. Barrister for Mr O’ Grady, Andrew Walsh, told the Judge that O’Grady would not be making an application for bail, but he did make a request for legal aid on behalf of his client, with the appointment of Solicitor Tracy Horan and one Junior Council to the case.

Mr Walsh also told the Judge that the Book of Evidence for the case had “parts of pages missing text.” Judge Staunton requested that this matter “be attended to as a matter of extreme urgency.” O’ Grady was remanded in custody to Midlands Prison to await trial. He will appear in Waterford Circuit Court on this matter on January 14th 2020.

Ed Palattella: Law for victims, church far from settled

Times News

Dec. 13, 2019

By Ed Palattella

A Pennsylvania Superior Court decision provides an option to sue over claims of clergy sexual abuse and cover-ups.

The legal developments are not over in the clergy sex abuse crisis in Pennsylvania.

A lawyer reminded me of that reality as I was writing Tuesday’s article on how much the Catholic Diocese of Erie has spent on abuse claims and related expenses. The figure is nearly $12 million, including about $6 million in payouts from diocese’s compensation fund for victims.

The state General Assembly likely limited the final amount of the payouts in the Erie diocese and other Roman Catholic dioceses throughout the state. Lawmakers did so by pursuing a constitutional amendment that would suspend the statute of limitations and give victims a two-year window to sue, no matter how old the claims.

Legislation failed that would have made the two-year window immediate. The process to amend the state constitution, including a voter referendum, will take years.

Catholic diocese to release review of sexual misconduct by year’s end

Mountain Express

Dec. 13, 2019

By Laura Hackett

The Roman Catholic Diocese of Charlotte, which represents 46 counties in Western North Carolina and six parishes in the Asheville area, announced in August that it will release a list of clergy who have been the subject of credible accusations of sexual abuse by the end of this year. The process of reviewing personnel files and other historical records, which date to the diocese’s founding in 1972, began last fall.

On Nov. 26, the diocese said in a press release that credible allegations of sexual misconduct had been made toward its former vicar general, Monsignor Mauricio West. Those incidents allegedly date from the late 1980s and early 1990s, when West was a monk at Belmont Abbey. All the allegations involve adult victims; the alleged conduct includes unwanted kissing and, in one instance, unwanted touching. West was removed from ministerial duties beginning in March as the diocese investigated the victims’ claims.

West’s replacement, Vicar General Father Patrick Winslow, met with Xpress on Nov. 13 to discuss the process of reviewing diocesan records. Historical information warranting further inquiry has been passed to an independent lay review board, he said. If the board determines that a clergy member should be removed from his post, the bishop will consider that recommendation and make the final decision.

Ex-Chicago sex-abuser priest Vincent McCaffrey free after 17 years in prison

Sun Times

Dec 13, 2019

By Robert Herguth

One of the more prolific and unrepentant predator priests in the Chicago area has been released from custody after 17 years in prison.

Former Catholic priest Vincent McCaffrey gained his freedom months earlier than his previously scheduled release because of a federal law signed last year by President Donald Trump that cuts inmates an additional break if they behave behind bars.

McCaffrey, who admitted sexually abusing so many boys that he lost count, pleaded guilty in 2002 to receipt and possession of child pornography. He was sentenced by a federal judge in 2003 to 20 years in prison.

Originally slated for release Nov. 18, McCaffrey instead was freed July 19 “in accordance with the revised good-conduct-time provisions provided in the First Step Act,” according to the U.S. Bureau of Prisons.

Carroll: There is cause for hope amid dire reports of clergy sexual abuse of minors

Denver Post

Dec. 13, 2019

By Vincent Carroll

When will it end, many Catholics must wearily wonder. And not only Catholics. Anyone who reads or listens to the news must wonder when the Catholic church sex scandals will ever be over.

But in one major sense, the crisis already has passed and what we’re witnessing — and will continue to witness for years — is the aftermath.

To see what I mean, go to Appendix 4 in the report on sexual abuse of minors by clergy in Colorado issued in October by investigators led by former U.S. Attorney Bob Troyer. There’s a bar graph highlighting the “number of victims by decade the abuse or misconduct began.” Towering above all other decades for the archdiocese of Denver is the bar for the 1960s, representing 74 victims. In second place is the 1970s with 25 victims, and the 1950s is third with 14. The 1990s had 11 victims and the 1980s three.

As the report observes, “Roman Catholic clergy child sex abuse in Colorado peaked in the 1960s and appears to have declined since. In fact, the last of the Colorado child sex abuse incidents we saw in the files were 1 in July 1990 and 4 in May 1998.”

December 12, 2019

Is the Vatican misleading donors? Peter’s Pence, explained

America Magazine

Dec. 12, 2019

By Colleen Dulle and James T. Keane

An article published yesterday by the Wall Street Journal, by Francis X. Rocca, had a provocative, even shocking headline: “Vatican Uses Donations for the Poor to Plug Its Budget Deficit.” Focusing on Peter’s Pence, a worldwide collection for the pope’s charitable needs, the article stated that only 10 percent of the yearly collection, which the article estimated at $55 million (though in past years it was higher), goes to charitable works and that two-thirds of the money is used to cover the Vatican’s growing deficit.

Is the Vatican misleading donors to Peter’s Pence? The website of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops explains the purpose of the charitable drive, usually held in U.S. parishes on the last weekend in June, as follows: “Today, the Peter’s Pence Collection supports the Pope’s philanthropy by giving the Holy Father the means to provide emergency assistance to those in need because of natural disaster, war, oppression, and disease.”

The Vatican itself is more circumspect in its description of the charitable drive. “It is an offering that each member of the faithful decides to give to the Pope so that he can provide for the needs of the entire Church,” states the Vatican website for Peter’s Pence, “especially in those places where the Church experiences greater difficulties.” Further, the pope’s charitable works “extend to the whole of humanity, at whose service the structures of the Church exist. For this reason, Peter’s Pence also contributes to the support of the Apostolic See and the activities of the Holy See.”

More Colorado victims of alleged sexual abuse by Cathollic clergy file compensation claims


Dec. 12, 2019

By Debbie Kelley

Sixteen more victims of alleged sexual abuse by priests in Colorado’s three Roman Catholic dioceses have come forward since the Oct. 23 release of an independent report detailing substantiated accounts of at least 166 children who were harmed by 43 priests, according to Colorado Attorney General’s Office spokesman Lawrence Pacheco.

Among those now seeking recompense is an El Paso County resident.

Daniel Masias told The Gazette that from the age of 8 to 14, while he attended the Sacred Heart Cathedral School in Pueblo in the late 1950s and early 1960s, he was fondled and inappropriately touched by several priests working at the Catholic school that closed in 1971.

His account was not among those outlined in the special master’s report, Roman Catholic Clergy Sexual Abuse of Children in Colorado from 1950 to 2019, which concluded that at least 127 children were victimized by 22 Catholic priests in the Archdiocese of Denver, three children were harmed by two predatory priests in the Diocese of Colorado Springs, and 36 children were sexually abused by 19 priests in the Diocese of Pueblo.

Before Colorado Springs became a separate diocese in 1984, an Archdiocese of Denver priest identified as one of the state’s most prolific offenders, the Rev. Harold White, taught at St. Mary’s High School in Colorado Springs and preyed on five victims at least 15 times from 1963 to 1965, according to the probe.

Groups hope to end the sexual abuse of children in South Dakota in 10 years


Dec. 11, 2019

By Jeff Voss

A survivor of sexual abuse speaks out on ending sexual abuse against children (KOTA TV)
Center for Prevention of Child Maltreatment and Jolene's Law has a 10-year plan to end sexual child abuse and maltreatment.

" The goal is to breakdown the styles of work that are happening across the state so we can work together to make a stronger South Dakota." Carrie Sanderson director center prevention child maltreatment

Jolene's law was signed by former Governor Dennis Daugaard in 2014 -- and named after Jolene Loetscher, a survivor of sexual abuse as a child.

"To know that it was a symbol of putting purpose to my pain and it may be my name but it is the story of 4,000 kids every year in this state." Loetscher

Jolene's Law helped put an end to statute of limitations on many rape cases -- and with CPCM the new goal is to end abuse altogether.

"We are going to protect our children and our families and we are going to end child abuse, and this a really big huge statement to make," added Loetscher

The ten-year plan by CPCM will involve the cooperation of 30 agencies throughout the state coming together as one, for one common goal, and for one survivor, a simple message.

Nun Accused Of Sexually Abusing Student For Years At Area School

Clarkstown Daily Voice

Dec. 12, 2019

By Zak Failla

A former student at an area private school has accused a former nun who later took positions of power at schools in Westchester of sexually abusing her in the 1960s.

Sister Ann Peterson has been accused of groping and molesting Pamela Hayes in Orange County at the Saint Joseph School in Middletown during the 1960s, according to court documents. At the time of the alleged abuse, Hayes was 10 years old.

The new lawsuit, filed this week, accuses Peterson of asking Hayes to stay late after school, then she allegedly kissed, groping and molested her, according to the court documents that were filed this week under the New York Child Victim’s Act. The alleged abuse lasted between 1963 and 1967.

The lawsuit was filed against the Archdiocese of New York, Peterson, the Parish of Saint Joseph, St. Joseph School and the Ursuline Sisters of the Eastern Province, based in New Rochelle.

Court documents say that Peterson abused Hayes by "hugging, kissing, massaging, caressing and touching her breasts and genitals.” It states that Hayes continues to feel “traumatized, ashamed, embarrassed and humiliated."

Upstate advocate for Child Victims Act to mount state Senate run as Democrat

Daily News

Dec. 12, 2019

By Denis Slattery

An outspoken advocate of the recently passed Child Victims Act is preparing to enter the political arena.

Gary Greenberg, an upstate businessman who spent years fighting for laws to supporting survivors of child sex abuse and helping get lawmakers who backed the measures elected, is mounting a run for a Senate seat being vacated by retiring Republican Sen. George Amedore.

“I know how to run a campaign and how to win elections and I look forward to working to serve the people of the 46th Senate District by being the same tireless and strong advocate from my experience enacting the Child Victims Act," Greenberg said. “Public service is an honor and privilege and I look forward to this next chapter of my career in fighting for justice and good government.”

The 61-year-old is a minority owner of the Vernon Downs casino, hotel and racetrack and by no means a political novice.

Greenberg, who lives in New Baltimore, in Greene County, served as a member of the Albany County legislature in the early 1990s and was a member of the Albany County Democratic Committee for more than two decades. He is also the founder of the Fighting for Children Political Action Committee and spent his own money to help flip the Senate in Democrats’ favor in order to pass to the Child Victims Act.

Catholics welcome new bishop, who says he's ready to call Sioux Falls 'my diocese'

Sioux Falls Argus Leader

Dec. 12, 2019

By Trevor J. Mitchell

The eighth and ninth bishops of the Catholic Diocese of Sioux Falls stood together in the Catholic Pastoral Center on Thursday morning, as Bishop Paul Swain introduced Bishop-elect Donald DeGrood.

DeGrood, who called himself “a farm boy at heart,” most recently served as pastor of St. John the Baptist in Savage, Minnesota, part of the Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis.

While admitting he was sad to leave his parishioners in Minnesota, he said he knew God would provide for them and that prayer had let him know that coming to South Dakota was the right path.

DeGrood succeeds Bishop Paul Swain, who submitted his resignation, per canon law, at the age of 75 in September of 2018.

Swain spoke briefly as he introduced DeGrood, saying that he was pleased with the church’s decision to choose him as the next bishop — “and not just because I can retire now,” he said.

He told DeGrood he’d need to learn to appreciate the open plains of South Dakota he’d see during his many drives across the state, as well as learn the important distinction between East River and West River.

“Though shaken by the scandals of the church these days,” Swain said, DeGrood was entering a community of people who are steadfast in their belief, and who care about each other.

Vatican Spends 90% of Donations for the Poor On Itself

Mish blog

Dec. 12, 2019

Vatican Spends 90% of Donations for the Poor On Itself

By Mike Shedlock

Thinking of donating money to the Vatican to feed the poor? You may wish to reconsider.

Please consider Vatican Uses Donations for the Poor to Plug Its Budget Deficit.

Every year, Catholics around the world donate tens of millions of dollars to the pope. Bishops exhort the faithful to support the weak and suffering through the pope’s main charitable appeal, called Peter’s Pence.

What the church doesn’t advertise is that most of that collection, worth more than €50 million ($55 million) annually, goes toward plugging the hole in the Vatican’s own administrative budget, while as little as 10% is spent on charitable works, according to people familiar with the funds.

The little-publicized breakdown of how the Holy See spends Peter’s Pence, known only among senior Vatican officials, is raising concern among some Catholic Church leaders that the faithful are being misled about the use of their donations, which could further hurt the credibility of the Vatican’s financial management under Pope Francis.

The Vatican is currently embroiled in a scandal over opaque real-estate investments in London, which has triggered a power struggle within the Vatican’s bureaucracy and led to the dismissal of its chief financial regulator. Last month, the Vatican was suspended from an international network of anti-money-laundering watchdogs.

Child Rape Charges Filed Against Former Deacon in New Orleans

Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests

Dec. 12, 2019

A grand jury in Louisiana has indicted a former deacon on charges of child rape. We applaud this decision and hope it will bring comfort and healing to his victims.

George Brignac, a former deacon in the Archdiocese of New Orleans, was still working in parishes as late as last year, despite church officials “removing him from ministry” in 1988. We fear that other children may have been hurt by him during the years that he was working around children despite ostensibly having had his ministerial faculties removed. Because of this, church officials in New Orleans must aggressively seek out any others who may have been hurt by him and encourage them to come forward and make a report to local law enforcement.

This case is yet another reminder that children are best protected by secular law enforcement officials, not church officials. We also believe that, had church officials lived up to their promise to be “open and honest” about cases of clergy abuse and posted a list of accused priests, nuns, deacons and other church staff earlier, the communities in which Brignac was working would have been better informed and better able to protect their children.

George Brignac, disgraced former New Orleans deacon, indicted on child rape charge

Times Picayune

Dec. 12, 2019

By Ramon Antonio Vargas

An Orleans Parish grand jury on Thursday handed up a child rape charge against George Brignac, the former Roman Catholic deacon who was removed from ministry decades ago amid multiple molestation accusations but still remained involved in a local parish until last year.

Brignac, 84, faces a count of first-degree rape in the newest bid from prosecutors to convict a man who decades ago beat similar allegations.

Thursday’s indictment against Brignac comes more than two months after New Orleans police arrested him on a warrant accusing him of multiple acts of abuse, including rape of an altar boy he met while teaching at Our Lady of the Rosary Parish in the late 1970s. He is the first clergyman in the area to be indicted since the church’s long-simmering child molestation crisis boiled over last year, when Brignac and dozens of others were included on New Orleans Archbishop Gregory Aymond's list of clergy suspected of preying on minors.

Bayside Priest Charged with Molesting 12-Year-Old Boy: DA

Flushing Post

Dec. 8, 2019

By Kristen Torres

A Queens bishop who served as the spiritual leader of a Bayside church has been charged for sexually assaulting a 12-year-old boy from his congregation, the District Attorney’s Office announced Friday.

Bishop Jese Milagrosa, 69, who served at Our Lady of La Salette Church at 46-44 204th St., is accused of sexually assaulting the boy over a three-year period beginning in 2011, according to the District Attorney’s office.

“The defendant is accused of using his position as head of the church to take advantage of an innocent child for his own sexual gratification,” said Acting Queens District Attorney John Ryan in a statement.

Milagrosa was arraigned Thursday night before Queens Criminal Court Judge Karina Alomar on a complaint charging him with predatory sexual assault against a child, first-degree sexual conduct against a child, and first-, second- and third-degree criminal sexual act.

He was ordered held on $250,000 bail and to return to court on Dec. 20, 2019. If convicted, the he faces 10 years to life in prison.

Abuse, safeguarding and the survivors’ stories

The Tablet

Dec. 12, 2019

By Catherine Pepinster

If the Church is to become a safe place for children and vulnerable adults, those who have suffered abuse must be listened to. Three of the victims of abuse by Catholic priests who gave evidence to the IICSA hearings tell their stories to The Tablet

Nolan and Cumberlege. These two names were repeated day after day, by witness after witness, at the various hearings in the inquiry into the extent of failures to protect children from sexual abuse within the Roman Catholic Church in England and Wales: one of the 15 investigations into a broad range of institutions being conducted by the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA). They are shorthand for the two inquiries – the first chaired by Lord Nolan in 2001 and the second by Baroness Cumberlege in 2007 – held by the Catholic Church into clerical sexual abuse, whose recommendations have set the template for safeguarding in the Catholic Church for nearly 20 years.

Disgraced ex-Ottawa priest arrested for skipping sentencing for sex crimes

Edmonton Sun News

Dec. 12, 2019

By Gary Dimmock

Barry McGrory, the disgraced former Catholic priest who skipped his sentencing in Ottawa court last month for molesting boys, has been arrested and is now in jail.

The now-defrocked McGrory, 85, had been on bail awaiting sentencing but didn’t bother to show up on Nov. 18, so Superior Court Justice Michelle O’Bonsawin issued an arrest warrant for the convicted sex predator, who was arrested in Toronto.

In June, O’Bonsawin found McGrory guilty of sexually abusing two teenage boys in historic crimes dating back to the late 1960s. The boys were molested in a church rectory.

McGrory now faces a new charge of failing to attend court, and is now at the Ottawa-Carleton Detention Centre awaiting his next hearing at the Elgin Street courthouse.

McGrory used his position as a parish priest to exploit vulnerable and naive young men, and used drugs and booze to groom them.

“He infiltrated their families and used their faith in him to take advantage of the complainants,” the judge said in June.

Priest charged in sexual assaults of three minors in Springfield in the 1980s

Boston Globe

Dec. 12, 2019

By Travis Andersen

A Catholic priest in New Jersey pleaded not guilty Thursday to charges of indecently assaulting three children under 14 in Springfield in the 1980s, about 20 years before his ordination, according to prosecutors and court records.

Rev. Patrick Kuffner, 72, entered his plea in Hampden Superior Court to three counts of indecent assault and battery on a child under 14, legal filings show. Bail was set at $50,000, and his lawyer didn’t immediately respond to telephone and e-mail messages seeking comment.

Kuffner was initially arrested Nov. 20 in New Jersey and taken into custody by Massachusetts State Police on Wednesday, officials said.

Prosecutors say Kuffner, who became a priest in 2002, allegedly assaulted the youths while chaperoning a trip to Springfield in the early 1980s. Investigators were initially contacted after one alleged victim recognized Kuffner at a funeral while standing in line to receive communion, Hampden District Attorney Anthony Gulluni’s office said in a statement.

The alleged victim confronted Kuffner and later reported the past incident to law enforcement, prosecutors said.

Weinstein and His Accusers Reach Tentative $25 Million Deal

The New York Times

December 11, 2019

By Megan Twohey and Jodi Kantor

After two years of legal wrangling, Harvey Weinstein and the board of his bankrupt film studio have reached a tentative $25 million settlement agreement with dozens of his alleged sexual misconduct victims, a deal that would not require the Hollywood producer to admit wrongdoing or pay anything to his accusers himself, according to lawyers involved in the negotiations.

The proposed global legal settlement has gotten preliminary approval from the major parties involved, according to several of the lawyers. More than 30 actresses and former Weinstein employees, who in lawsuits have accused Mr. Weinstein of offenses ranging from sexual harassment to rape, would share in the payout — along with potential claimants who could join in coming months. The deal would bring to an end nearly every such lawsuit against him and his former company.

California attorney general to issue subpoenas to 6 Catholic dioceses in priest abuse inquiry

LA Times

December 10, 2019

By Alejandra Reyes-Velard

California prosecutors plan to issue subpoenas to half of the state’s Catholic dioceses as part of a growing investigation into the church’s handling of sex abuse cases, according to several dioceses and the California Catholic Conference.

The move marks another escalation of the California attorney general’s investigation of the church scandal, which already has resulted in massive settlements for accusers and criminal charges against individual priests statewide.

The dioceses in Sacramento, Fresno, Orange, San Jose, Los Angeles and San Francisco received notices sometime last week that they would be issued the subpoenas. The Diocese of Orange and the Diocese of San Jose have been officially served with the subpoena orders.

A troubling sign for the Vatican’s deal with China’s Communist Party

The New York Post

December 10, 2019

By Chad Pecknold

Speaking before a Chinese Communist body recently, Bishop John Fang Xingyao said: “Love for the homeland must be greater than love for the Church.” That was quite a reversal from the spirit of Saint Thomas More, who declared himself “the king’s good servant but God’s first” — just before Henry VIII had him beheaded in 1535.

Statements like Fang’s are vindicating those who have raised alarm about the Holy See’s 2018 deal with the Beijing regime.

When the Communists took power in China in 1949, they tried to expel Catholics, but many remained. By 1957, the new regime created a state-run “Catholic” church that was loyal to the Communist Party and ­rejected the authority of the Holy See. This drove underground many Catholics, who didn’t want to betray the successor of Saint Peter. Thus, for decades, China has lived with two Catholic churches, one above ground, the other below.

Communications director for Buffalo Diocese under Bishop Malone departs


December 12, 2019
By John Tummino

The communications leader for the Buffalo Diocese has stepped down.

The diocese announced Thursday morning that Kathy Spangler left "to pursue other interests and opportunities." Her departure comes one week after the resignation of Bishop Richard Malone.

Gregory Tucker, described as a "seasoned strategic communications advisor," is now working with the diocese until a permanent replacement is named.

Harvey Weinstein, Who Entered Court on Walker, Gets Bail Hiked to $5 Million


December 11, 2019

By Elizabeth Wagmeister and Gene Maddaus

A judge on Wednesday increased Harvey Weinstein’s bail to $5 million, following repeated violations of his ankle monitor system.

Justice James Burke agreed to the prosecution’s request to hike his bail, which had been set at $1 million. The defense claimed that the lapses in monitoring were due to technical glitches. Prosecutor Joan Illuzzi alleged that Weinstein was “panicking” and had deliberately caused the ankle monitor to malfunction in order to evade detection. She said there had been 57 violations in less than two months.

Bill Cosby loses appeal of sexual assault conviction

The Associated Press

December 10, 2019

By Mary Claire Dale

Bill Cosby lost his bid to overturn his sexual assault conviction Tuesday, as an appeals court upheld the verdict in the first celebrity trial of the #MeToo era.

In its ruling, the Superior Court upheld the right of prosecutors to call other accusers to bolster their case — the same issue that was fought over in pretrial hearings before movie mogul Harvey Weinstein’s sexual assault trial.

“This decision is a reminder that no one is above the law,” Andrea Constand, the victim in Cosby's case, told The Associated Press on Tuesday.

Runner who slapped reporter’s butt on live TV identified as youth minister

The New York Post

December 10, 2019

By Lee Brown

The runner who slapped a TV reporter’s behind is a local youth minister who claims he wants to “correct the situation” — while the journalist on the receiving end of his hand says he “hurt me, both physically and emotionally.”

Tommy Callaway was identified as the Savannah, Ga., 10K racer who slapped WSAV-TV anchor Alex Bozarjian, after online sleuths found him thanks to his race number shown in other photos.

Callaway is a youth group leader at his church, Pittman Park UMC, as well as a Boy Scout leader, according to Heavy, based on social media sites that he quickly took down as he was outed and banned from future races.

Victim advocate calls on Scharfenberger to release Vatican report on Buffalo diocese


December 10, 2019

By Kyle S. Mackie

James Faluszczak, a former priest and well-known Buffalo advocate for survivors of clergy abuse, is calling on the new interim administrator of the Diocese of Buffalo to release the Vatican’s full report into its handling of sexual abuse cases.

Bishop Edward Scharfenberger of Albany was named temporary head of the diocese following the Dec. 4 resignation of Bishop Richard Malone. The Vatican accepted Malone’s resignation after widespread outcry and calls for his removal over his handling of sexual abuse allegations within the diocese.

Whistleblower addresses alleged cover-up of sex abuse allegations against Buffalo’s apostolic administrator


December 10, 2019

By Evan Anstey

James Faluszczak, a former priest who claims to have been sexually abused, spoke in Brooklyn on Tuesday morning.

Faluszczak has been calling for investigations into priests. This past August, he announced lawsuits against the Catholic Diocese of Buffalo on the first day of the Child Victims Act window.

Previously, Faluszczak testified before the 40th Pennsylvania Grand Jury while it investigated six dioceses in that state.

US Catholic priests describe turmoil amid sex abuse crisis

The Associated Press

December 9, 2019

By David Crary

More than a century ago, waves of Catholic immigrants from Ireland, Poland and Quebec settled in Chicopee and other western Massachusetts mill towns, helping build churches, rectories and schools to accommodate their faith. Today the priests leading those churches are under siege due to stresses, challenges and sex abuse scandals complicating their lives and those of their fellow priests across the United States.

The Rev. Mark Stelzer is among those trying to persevere. He's a professor at a Roman Catholic college in Chicopee, and its chaplain. He travels frequently to out-of-state events organized by a Catholic addiction-treatment provider, recounting his own recovery from alcoholism.

Last year, his busy schedule got busier. Amid a worsening shortage of priests, the Diocese of Springfield named him administrator of a parish in Holyoke, Chicopee’s northern neighbor, where he lives alone in a mansion-sized rectory while serving as spiritual leader to the 500 families of St. Jerome’s Church.

Video Games and Online Chats Are ‘Hunting Grounds’ for Sexual Predators

The New York Times

December 7, 2019

By Nellie Bowles and Michael H. Keller

Criminals are making virtual connections with children through gaming and social media platforms. One popular site warns visitors, “Please be careful.”

When Kate’s 13-year-old son took up Minecraft and Fortnite, she did not worry.

The video games were hardly Grand Theft Auto — banned in their home because it was too violent — and he played in a room where she could keep an eye on him.

But about six weeks later, Kate saw something appalling pop up on the screen: a video of bestiality involving a young boy. Horrified, she scrolled through her son’s account on Discord, a platform where gamers can chat while playing. The conversations were filled with graphic language and imagery of sexual acts posted by others, she said.

Uber Says 3,045 Sexual Assaults Were Reported in U.S. Rides Last Year

The New York Times

December 5, 2019

By Kate Conger

In its first safety report, the ride-hailing company detailed sexual assaults, murders and fatal crashes through its platform.

Uber said on Thursday that it had reports of 3,045 sexual assaults during its rides in the United States in 2018, with nine people murdered and 58 killed in crashes, in its first study detailing unsafe incidents on the ride-hailing platform.

The number of incidents represented a fraction — just 0.0002 percent — of Uber’s 1.3 billion rides in the United States last year, the company said.

There are few comparable figures to judge Uber’s safety record against. The New York Police Department, which keeps a register of sex crimes and rapes that occur on transit systems, counted 533 in 2018.

I-TEAM: Will Bishop Scharfenberger release the secret files?


Dec. 12, 12019

By Charlie Specht

The secret files on abusive priests in the Diocese of Buffalo sit locked away in a group of beige and green file cabinets at diocesan headquarters on Main Street.

The question is whether a new bishop preaching transparency will release the files to abuse victims and other Catholics.

“Give us the files,” said attorney J. Michael Hayes, who represents two of the victims pushing for the files. “We’re entitled to them under the law.”

Hayes is making a motion in State Supreme Court that could be a potential game-changer for the diocese, and could pry open the secret files on two of its most notorious priests: Fr. William F.J. White and Fr. Norbert Orsolits.

“If there is such a thing as a smoking gun in these cases, my guess is it's the personnel file of these priests,” Hayes said.

More than a dozen men accuse the two priests of sexual abuse that allegedly occurred decades ago. Hayes is asking Justice Deborah A. Chimes to force the diocese to turn over their files as part of normal court procedure.

Letter to the Editor: Unfair news placement about Tulsa priest investigation

Tulsa World

Dec. 12, 2019

It was very discouraging to see the Rev. Joe Townsend reprieve on the second section of the Tulsa World (“Diocese: Allegation against Tulsa priest found to be unsubstantiated,” Dec. 4).

It was front-page news when word came out about the allegations. Now that he’s been exonerated, it’s no big deal. We are innocent until proven guilty only in the court system it seems.

I feel it should be front page again, so people can see the truth as we know it, just so he can feel truly exonerated.

Evemarie Luce Eklund, Tulsa

Editor’s Note: The newsroom editors choose to publish the story across all columns at the top of the Metro section. The reasons include the front-page breaking news that day of the notification of impeachment filings against President Trump and the Tulsa Public Schools announcement to close four schools and hold meetings on a restructuring plan. The Tulsa World also published the last of a five-part series on statewide criminal justice issues. The decision regarding allegations against Townsend as being unsubstantiated came from an internal diocese investigation, not law enforcement.

Judge Orders Columbus Diocese To Release Priest Abuse Files

WCBE Radio

Dec. 12, 2019

By Jim Letizia

A Franklin County judge has ordered the Catholic Diocese of Columbus to release files related to priests accused of sexual abuse as part of an ongoing lawsuit.

The judge denied a broad request for files and instead told the Diocese to release documents created before the plaintiff's complaint about alleged abuse by the late Monsignor Thomas Bennett at St. Charles Preparatory School in Bexley. The judge's order last week gave officials 30 days to comply.

EXCLUSIVE: Woman who accused visiting priest of misconduct says it happened at local church


Dec. 12, 2019

By Rusty Surette

KBTX has confirmed St. Mary's Catholic Center in College Station is at the center of an investigation involving a visiting priest.

The Legionaries of Christ on Saturday released a public statement regarding the ongoing investigation into Father Michael Sullivan.

Father Michael Sullivan was well-known among the congregation of mostly A&M students and was in and out of the parish for the last decade.

On Saturday, a Georgia-based group for men studying the priesthood called Legionaries of Christ confirmed its internal investigation of Father Sullivan. They say an adult female visiting St. Mary's came forward with claims the he "crossed over the emotional physical boundaries of a pastoral relationship with her and others."

On Wednesday, the Legionaries said a third-party group was actively investigating the latest allegation, and while he may have violated their own code of conduct, they don't believe any laws were broken.

The organization also said no law enforcement agency has been invited to assist in its on-going fact-finding mission.

This isn't the first time the Legionaries have had to investigate Sullivan.

When a priest is accused of assault, you need to tell us, longtime Catholic says

By Star-Ledger

Dec. 1, 2019

By Bill Murphy

When the five Catholic dioceses of NJ released the names of priests with credible accusations of sexual abuse, I, like many Catholics, went to review the lists with a feeling of apprehension, hoping that I did not recognize any of the names.

I was devastated to see the name of Father Brendan Williams, a priest I had known and thought the world of since I was a teenager. Next to his name were the words “removed from ministry.” When was he removed from ministry? I wondered. I remembered seeing announcements in the diocesan newspaper announcing his retirement in 2012. Since then, Fr. Williams’ former parish advertised a party in honor of the 50th of his ordination on June 7, 2015 and the parish bulletin also advertised a pilgrimage he was leading in September 2015.

I contacted the Diocese of Trenton multiple times to express my concerns. When exactly was Fr. Williams “removed from ministry," as they claimed he had been? Was his “retirement” a pretense? If not, when specifically was he removed from ministry and why was no announcement made? What did the diocese know and when did they know it?

Sex abuse lawsuits: Seven boys in one little village claim church cover-up

Democrat & Chronicle

Dec. 12, 2019

By Steve Orr

The Vatican conducted a recent investigation into the western New York diocese and Malone’s handling of abuse cases. Matthew Leonard, Rochester Democrat and Chronicle

Lawsuits filed under the Child Victims Act all date from a five-year period when the convicted abuser was associate pastor in Dansville, NY.

After his time in Dansville, Emo was moved around half-a-dozen postings in 14 years.

When police uncovered more complaints of sexual abuse, statute of limitations made prosecution impossible.

When the Rev. Eugene G. Emo was arrested in 1996 for molesting a developmentally disabled man, some of his parishioners said they weren’t surprised. They had suspected for years that Emo had an unholy attraction to boys and vulnerable men.

But those parishioners accused Rochester diocesan leaders of covering up for Emo for years, transferring him from one church to another after people began to talk.

In one case, salacious photos and a pair of handcuffs had been found in Emo's quarters, and money was missing from the parish's till. The diocese's response was to whisk Emo away with no explanation and, a year later, send him to another church 50 miles away.

Good journalism key to local church saga

West Seneca Bee

Dec. 11, 2019

Just over a week ago, Diocese of Buffalo Bishop Richard Malone resigned under immense pressure. Local Catholics or, frankly, anyone who pays attention to the news in Western New York knows why. Parishioners, local politicians and lay people involved in local Catholic institutions were fed up with Bishop Malone’s lack of action in disciplining or investigating priests who were accused of abuse.

His resignation and whatever looming shakeup happens in the coming years will forever change the structure of the church in a region where Catholicism is especially prominent. Voices that are usually silenced were heard, abusive priests have been punished and massive lawsuits have been launched.

None of this would have happened without quality reporting by multiple local outlets. Of course, Michael Whalen deserves credit for sparking the whole story, after bravely and publicly sharing his story more than 18 months ago of abuse at the hands of a priest.

Whalen’s story led Buffalo News reporter Jay Tokasz to investigate further, leading to a confirmation of the abuse by the perpetrator, Norbert Orsolits. This set off a trend of others sharing their story of abuse, with dozens and eventually hundreds of former or current local priests being accused of some form of abuse.

Later, Malone’s secretary Siobhan O’Connor leaked incriminating documents to WKBW-TV reporter Charlie Specht, adding another layer to the story. It became clear to many that Bishop Malone had not done enough to either curb abuse or to ensure that priests accused of wrongdoing couldn’t harm anyone else.

During the next year, Specht broke several more stories related to the scandal and was at every diocesan news conference, looking to hold Malone accountable. Tokasz and others also provided strong coverage of what may be the biggest WNY news story of the decade.

Sex abuse scandal threatens to rock Indonesian Church


Dec.11, 2019

By Ryan Dagur

The Indonesian Church will take serious steps to address claims in a Catholic media report that dozens of people have been abused in Catholic institutions across the country, a bishops’ conference official has said.

At least 56 people were abused within Catholic institutions in Indonesia, according to the report titled “Sexual Abuse in Indonesian Churches: An Iceberg Phenomenon?”

It appeared in Warta Minggu, a weekly magazine published by Tomang Parish in West Jakarta, on Dec. 8.

Indonesian Bishops' Conference (KWI) seminary commission secretary Father Joseph Kristanto confirmed the claims, telling ucanews that his commission had received reports from sources detailing at least 56 abuse victims.

That number comprised 21 seminarians and brothers, 20 nuns and 15 laypeople, while the perpetrators included 33 priests and 23 non-priests, he said.

Catholic Church Only Gives 10% Of Donations To The Poor, Report Reveals

Intrnational Business Times

Dec. 12, 2019

By Arthur Villasanta

One of Pope Francis' major aims at the start of his pontificate was to transform the Catholic Church into a “poor church for the poor." He now faces the painful reality that Peter's Pence, which is supposed to be used to support the poor throughout the world, has been spent instead on buying luxury real-estate in London and financing the Holy See's yawning budget deficit, a report by the Wall Street Journal noted.

The Holy See consists of the central administration of the Catholic Church and the global papal diplomatic network.

The Vatican itself describes Peter's Pence in glowing terms as "a gesture of charity, a way of supporting the activity of the Pope and the universal Church in favoring especially the poorest and Churches in difficulty. It is also an invitation to pay attention and be near to new forms of poverty and fragility.”

Editorial: A necessary delay

Catholic Register

Dec. 12, 2019

The call went up to have Archbishop Fulton Sheen declared a saint almost from the day he died 40 years ago. So current disappointment at a Vatican directive to touch the brakes on the popular American’s sainthood cause is no surprise, but the decision is appropriate.

Sheen was to be beatified, the final step before canonization, on Dec. 21 in his hometown of Peoria, Ill. But on Dec. 5, the Vatican took the extraordinary step of postponing the ceremony after the American bishops’ conference relayed possible concerns about some unclear aspects of Sheen’s past.  The Vatican gave no explanation, which only fuelled anxiety.

It was left to the bishop of Peoria, Daniel Jenky, to declare no one has accused Sheen of sexual abuse. That was followed by suggestions that Sheen may have failed to act against an abuser priest when Sheen was Rochester’s bishop in the late 1960s.

So the beatification stutter-step appears to be based on some 50-year-old hearsay which has set off alarm bells, due no doubt to a general unease that hangs these days like a dark cloud over Church leaders.

There has been no specific evidence pointing to any misdeed, nor any allegation from a victim or witness. No, just whispers about something that may or may not have happened a half century ago which, in the current climate, is sufficient reason to transform certainty about Sheen’s saintliness into what if?

Ex-Northamptonshire vicar jailed for downloading pictures and movie clips of children

Northhampton Chronicle

Dec. 12, 2019

A disgraced Northamptonshire rector who downloaded pictures and movie clips of children and babies being raped and fantasised about having sex with a young girl has been jailed.

Christopher Goble had already pleaded guilty at Warwick Crown Court to three charges of making indecent images of children.

Between 2002 and 2008, he served as a priest in an area of the Diocese of Peterborough, as rector of Brington with Whilton, Norton, Church Brampton with Chapel Brampton, Harlestone and East Haddon and Holdenby.

When he returned to the court to be sentenced for those pictures on his phone, the court heard that more images had been discovered on other devices.

The disgraced cleric then pleaded guilty to three amended charges detailing larger numbers of images and to two further charges of possessing extreme pornography and prohibited images.

Goble, 44, of The Rectory, Valenders Lane, Ilmington, at the time, but recently living at The Brambles, Oswestry, was jailed for 20 months and ordered to register as a sex offender for ten years.

Buffalo Diocese's communications director steps down


Dec. 12, 2019

By Avery Schnider

The Director of Communications for the Catholic Diocese of Buffalo has stepped down after just over a year in the role.

In a written statement Tuesday, Rev. Peter J. Karalus, Vicar General and Moderator of the Curia for the Diocese, announced Kathy Spangler had departed her position as Director of Communications for the diocese "in order to pursue other interests in opportunities."

Spangler became Communications Director in September 2018, amid a scandal over sexual abuse by clergy. Her departure comes just over a week since Bishop Richard J. Malone resigned his post as head of the diocese, and was replaced in the interim by Bishop Edward Scharfenberger as Apostolic Administrator. Scharfenberger, who is the current Bishop of the Diocese of Albany, will maintain the role until a new Bishop is installed in Buffalo.

Writing on behalf of Scharfenberger, Karalus said, "We are enormously grateful to Kathy for her many contributions and for her dedication to supporting the communications of the Diocese over these challenging months. We wish her much success in her future endeavors."

In Spangler's absence, Gregory Tucker will be the diocese's primary contact for media. Karalus described Tucker as "a seasoned strategic communications advisor," and said Tucker is now working with Scharfenberger and Chancery leadership.

Synodality and the abuse crisis: The Church is still stuck in Trent

La Croix International

Dec. 10, 2019

By Massimo Faggioli

If you blinked, you probably missed it. But this past Sunday was the 150th anniversary of the opening of the First Vatican Council.It was on Dec. 8, 1869 that Pope Pius IX convened the council that would come to be known for its declarations on papal primacy and infallibility.

It would be the symbol of an assertive Catholicism that pushed back against liberal modernity.

December 11, 2019

Father Donald DeGrood, pastor in Savage, named next bishop of Sioux Falls

Catholic Spirit

Dec. 12, 2019

By Maria Wiering

Pope Francis has named Father Donald DeGrood bishop of Sioux Falls, South Dakota, the apostolic nuncio to the United States announced Dec. 12.

A priest of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis, Bishop-elect DeGrood, 54, has served as pastor of St. John the Baptist in Savage since 2017.

He was ordained in 1997 by Archbishop Harry Flynn. He has ministered as parochial vicar of All Saints in Lakeville (1997-2000), spiritual director at St. John Vianney College Seminary (2000-2004), pastor of St. Peter in Forest Lake (2004-2013), pastor of Blessed Sacrament in St. Paul (2013-2015) and as the archdiocese’s Vicar for Clergy (2013-2017).

Born Feb. 14, 1965, in rural Faribault, Bishop-elect DeGrood is the fourth of Robert and Joanne DeGrood’s five sons. He grew up on a nearby farm. His father died in 2003, and his mother continues to live on the family farm. He has five nieces and four nephews.

He attended Catholic grade school in Faribault and graduated in 1983 from Bethlehem Academy High School, which is run by the Sinsinawa Dominicans. He attended the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul and spent two of his undergraduate years at St. John Vianney College Seminary discerning his vocation.

California attorney general subpoenas Roman Catholic dioceses

Mercury News

Dec. 11, 2019

By John Woolfolk

The California Attorney General has subpoenaed half of California’s Roman Catholic dioceses including San Jose and San Francisco, signaling what victims of sex abuse by priests say is an important step toward what they hope will be a comprehensive expose of child molestation and coverups in the church.

The archdioceses of San Francisco and Los Angeles and the dioceses of San Jose, Sacramento, Fresno and Orange all have received subpoenas to produce documents, said Kevin Eckery, a spokesman for the California Catholic Conference. Those dioceses already had been providing documents and, along with the other six dioceses, retaining records since the attorney general requested that they do so in May.

Eckery said the subpoenas make it easier for the dioceses to produce records for which privacy concerns pose a barrier to voluntary disclosure.

“In some ways, it can speed the process because sometimes files contain things like medical records or private information that without a subpoena you couldn’t legitimately give up,” Eckery said.

Abuse victim reveals his identify for first time

Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests
Dec. 6, 2019

While still a child, he reported the crimes to nuns
A school staffer reportedly cried at the disclosure
But SF Catholic officials didn’t stop the predator
The cleric was just ‘outed’ for the first time in June
SNAP also urges church-goers to ‘boycott’ the archdiocese
It’s one of just 2 dioceses in CA that hasn’t released pedophiles’ names
And it’s one of the few in the US that’s “still dragging its feet”

At a news conference, a local man is publicly revealing his name and face for the first time and disclosing his new child sexual abuse and cover up lawsuit against San Francisco Catholic officials. And an advocate and victim’s attorney will urge the Archdiocese of San Francisco to immediately release its list of clerics accused of sexually abusing children, as most US Catholic dioceses, including nine of the twelve in CA, have done.

Thursday, Dec. 5 at 11:30 a.m.

Outside the San Francisco archdiocesan headquarters, One Peter Yorke Way in San Francisco

Few clergy abuse lawsuit is filed

Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests

Dec. 11, 2019

For years, priest held diocese-wide position
Group blasts relatively new northern California bishop
He held high posts in Fresno and Sacramento dioceses too
His ‘credibly accused predators’ lists is incomplete, SNAP says

Holding signs and childhood photos at a sidewalk news conference, an attorney and abuse victim will
--reveal that a new civil case is being filed against the Diocese of Stockton and a religious order, thanks to a new state law that takes effect next month, and
They will also demand that the bishops of two northern California dioceses
--add more names to their ‘credibly accused clerics’ list,
--stop hiding abuse reports for months or years and instead, for the safety of kids, disclose them promptly, and
--start doing ‘aggressive outreach’ to find and help others who were victimized by clerics and are still ‘suffering in shame, silence and self-blame.

On the sidewalk outside the Stockton diocese headquarters, 212 N. San Joaquin St. (corner of Channel) in Stockton, CA (209 466 0636)

Diocese of Columbus Ordered to Release Records

Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests

Dec. 11, 2019

An Ohio judge is forcing the Catholic Diocese of Columbus to turn over records about clerics who may have seen, suspected or hidden cases of sexual abuse. We applaud this ruling which we believe will lead to safer communities and more transparency about cases of sexual violence.

We are grateful to Judge Jaiza Page for ordering the release of records related to 15 clerics who may have known about sex abuse within the Diocese of Columbus. We believe that Catholic officials in Columbus should have been willing to release this information without a court order. Instead, the diocese remained committed to secrecy and silence about cases of abuse. Examples like this show that it is only through the secular justice system – and not through Church leaders themselves – that we can expect transparency.

New Jersey priest faces charges of child sex abuse in Western Mass.

The Republican

Dec. 11, 2019

By Anne-Gerard Flynn

A New Jersey-born priest — ordained in 2002 and removed from ministry a year ago — is facing three separate counts of indecent assault and battery of a child under 14 that allegedly occurred in Hampden County more than 35 years ago.

The Rev. Patrick J. Kuffner was arrested in his home state on charges of child sexual abuse Nov. 20 on a fugitive warrant from the Office of Hampden District Attorney Anthony D. Gulluni, and is being held without bail in Toms River, N.J., DA spokesman James Leydon confirmed Wednesday.

“While the alleged crimes date back to the early 1980s, more than 35 years ago, and involve an incident from before Fr. Kuffner was a priest or even a seminarian, the charges are nevertheless shocking and are being taken seriously by the Diocese of Metuchen,” said Anthony P. Kearns III, spokesperson and chancellor of the Diocese of Metuchen in a statement. “Once we learned of the allegations, we immediately reported them to the Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office, which then conducted an initial investigation and subsequently referred the matter to the Hampden County Prosecutor’s Office in MA."

The Diocese of Metuchen, where Kuffner was ordained and raised, had removed the 72-year-old from ministry in February 2018 after three people accused him of sexual abusing them as minors more than three decades ago when Kuffner was a layman teaching in the Catholic school system on Staten Island, N.Y.

Lawsuit to be filed against Catholic Diocese of San Diego over accused priest


Dec. 11, 2019

By Jermaine Ong

A lawsuit is being announced Wednesday against the Catholic Diocese of San Diego over a priest accused of sexually abuse more than 100 boys during his career.

The lawsuit names the Catholic Diocese of San Diego and Father Anthony Edward Rodrigue. The legal action is being filed on behalf of several people who claim they were victimized by Rodrigue “but were unable to file a civil lawsuit under California’s previous statute of limitation law.”

Rodrigue spent time at 10 different parishes in San Diego, Imperial and San Bernardino counties during his 29-year priesthood career. Attorneys, citing a 1997 San Bernardino County sheriff’s report, said Rodrigue “admitted to sexually abusing four or five boys each year” during his career.

Mexico's Nuncio Offers His Email Address for Abuse Reports

Catholic News Agency

Dec. 11, 2019

The apostolic nuncio in Mexico, Archbishop Franco Coppola, has said that anyone who wants to report sexual abuse by the country’s clergy is free to email him, and he will try to help.

Speaking with ACI Prensa, CNA's Spanish language news partner, Archbishop Coppola explained that “many times the people who have appealed here were victims who hadn't been listened to by those responsible for the Church and they come to the nunciature motivated by the commitment that Pope Francis has clearly expressed in favor of the victims.”

Archbishop Coppola said the doors of his office are open to receive complaints and accompany victims “in their search for justice.”

The nuncio said that while it is not within the competency of his office “to conduct an investigation or take measures, what I have tried to do is facilitate the victim's access to the competent Church authority, whether on the level of the diocese, religious superior or the Holy See, accompanying the victim in his search for justice.”

Archbishop Coppola stressed that efforts to prevent and fight sexual abuse by the clergy are “key because abuse is a betrayal of the very mission of the Church.”

“The mission of the Church is to make present a God who saves and these kinds of acts by committed by members of the clergy instead of saving and healing, wound and destroy people's lives,” he said.

Child Victims Act allows man to sue former priest who also allegedly abused sibling

Albany Times Union

December 11, 2019

By Cayla Harris

For years, two siblings have claimed that they were sexually abused by a former Greene County priest — but New York's statute of limitations only allowed one of them to pursue legal action against their alleged abuser.

That changed Monday, when Ivan Morales Jr. sued 82-year-old Jeremiah Nunan under the state's recently enacted Child Victims Act.

The case, filed in the state Supreme Court in Albany, alleges that Nunan abused Morales from 1989 to 1995, when he was 9 to 15 years old and an altar boy at Sacred Heart Church in Cairo. Morales, now a 39-year-old state trooper, first brought forth the accusations in 2011 after his sister confessed the abuse to their parents. Morales was too old to file either civil or criminal charges.

At the time, New York's statute of limitations time-barred child sex abuse cases after the survivor reached age 23 — a window Morales had missed by several years. But in August, the Child Victims Act opened a one-year period for survivors of all ages to sue their alleged abusers. So far, more than 1,200 cases statewide have been filed under the law.

Morales' lawsuit does not include specific allegations: "As a victim of Father Nunan's sexual abuse, Plaintiff is unable at this time to fully describe all of the details of that abuse and the extent of the harm he suffered as a result," the complaint reads. Mitchell Garabedian, a Boston attorney who is serving as co-counsel on the case, declined to elaborate on the accusations but said his client "has empowered himself" by coming forward.

"Given that my client was sexually abused from approximately 9 years old to 15 years old ... over 100 times, it is difficult for victims of sexual abuse to believe that the supervisors of Father Nunan did not know that he was sexually abusing children in a wholesale fashion," he said.

Why has the Catholic Church taken so long to address child sexual abuse?

Deutsche Welle

Dec. 10, 2019

In a Conflict Zone interview in Rome, Father Hans Zollner told DW’s Tim Sebastian: "There are factors that make it difficult to change."

Zollner is the head of the Centre of Child Protection at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome, and was appointed by Pope Francis as a founding member of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors.

Why the Catholic Church had become a home "for deceivers, criminal priests or abusers," Sebastian asked.

"They have not had a home … they have to be taken to accountability and this is what is going to happen."

Sebastian pressed further asking Zollner if the church had given the predators an opportunity to continue to abuse.

How to properly cover laws regarding sex abuse and Catholic church bankruptcy

Get Religion blog

Dec. 10, 2019

By Clemente Lisi

It’s been 17 years since The Boston Globe published its groundbreaking series on clergy sex abuse.

Some two decades later, a political shift in state legislative bodies and fallout from the #MeToo movement have all collided to bring what many warn is a financial reckoning that could cripple the Catholic church in America.

It was more than a year ago — on November 28 to be exact — that I warned in a GetReligion post about how the church would be hit with a blizzard of lawsuits in 2019 and what a massive story it would be.

Here’s an excerpt from that post:

As the scandals — that mostly took place in past — continue to trickle out in the form of grand jury reports and other investigations, look for lawmakers to try and remedy the situation for victims through legislation on the state level.

With very blue New York State voting to put Democrats in control of both the state Assembly and Senate (the GOP had maintained a slight majority), look for lawmakers to pass (and Gov. Andrew Cuomo, a Catholic, to sign) the Child Victims Act. The Empire State isn’t alone. Other legislatures in Illinois, Missouri, Nebraska, New Jersey and New Mexico are considering similar measures.

The New York legislation would allow victims of abuse suffered under the age of 18 to seek justice years later as adults. Removing the statute of limitations on cases involving private institutions, like the Boy Scouts and Jewish yeshivas, is at the heart of the battle.

New York did indeed pass the law — and may other states followed in its footsteps. In all, 15 states and the District of Columbia have changed their statute of limitations over the past two years in order to allow for lawsuits regarding rape and sexual assault allegations dating back many decades to be brought to court. In many cases, the offender is long dead.

News Release: Rare Look at U.S. Magdalene Laundries - Video, Live Discussion Tonight Sponsored by Law Firm

PR Newswire

Dec. 10, 2019

Two women who allege they were abused and assaulted as teens in homes run by Catholic nuns in the United States tell their stories in a documentary offering a rare look at our own country's "Magdalene Laundries" premiering at 7:30 p.m., EST, Wednesday, December 11, 2019.

The 15-minute video will be followed by a live discussion on Facebook featuring the women in the documentary and their attorneys Richard M. Serbin and Andrew Janet, of Janet, Janet & Suggs Law Firm, LLC. Funding and support for the documentary was provided by Janet, Janet & Suggs, LLC., Howard A. Janet, Esq–Managing Partner. Viewers can ask questions and make comments via the live stream. The webinar will be recorded and posted on the page for later viewing.

Magdalene Laundries existed in the District of Columbia and the following U.S. cities: Denver, CO; Chicago, IL; Peoria, IL; Indianapolis, IN; Louisville, KY; Newport, KY; New Orleans, LA; Boston, MA; Springfield, MA; Baltimore, MD; Detroit, MI; St. Paul, MN; Kansas City, MO; St. Louis, MO; Helena, MT; Omaha, NE; Newark, NJ; Albany, NY; Brooklyn, NY; Buffalo, NY, New York City, NY; Troy, NY; Carthage, OH; Columbus, OH; Cincinnati, OH; Allegheny, PA; Norristown, PA; Philadelphia, PA; Reading, PA; Scranton, PA, Memphis, TN; Seattle, WA; Wheeling, WV; Green Bay, WI, and Milwaukee, WI.

Vatican Uses Donations for the Poor to Plug Its Budget Deficit

Wall Street Journal

Dec. 11, 2019

By Francis X. Rocca

Every year, Catholics around the world donate tens of millions of dollars to the pope. Bishops exhort the faithful to support the weak and suffering through the pope’s main charitable appeal, called Peter’s Pence.

What the church doesn’t advertise is that most of that collection, worth more than more than €50 million ($55 million) annually, goes toward plugging the hole in the Vatican’s own administrative budget, while as little as 10% is spent directly on charitable works, according to people familiar with the funds.

The little-publicized breakdown of how the Holy See spends Peter’s Pence, known only among senior Vatican officials, is raising concern among some Catholic Church leaders that the faithful are being misled about the use of their donations, which could further hurt the credibility of the Vatican’s financial management under Pope Francis.

The Vatican is currently embroiled in a scandal over opaque real-estate investments in London, which has triggered a power struggle within the Vatican’s bureaucracy and led to the dismissal of its chief financial regulator. Last month, the Vatican was suspended from an international network of anti-money-laundering watchdogs.

Meanwhile, the Holy See is struggling with a growing budget deficit, with the pope warning cardinals of the “grave impact” on the body’s economic future. The Vatican’s continuing financial problems reflect a lack of progress on improving its management and finances, which Pope Francis was elected in 2013 with a mandate to overhaul, following allegations of corruption, waste and incompetence there.

Under church law, Peter’s Pence is available to the pope to use at his discretion in any way that serves his ministry, including the support of his administration. The collection’s website says that, to support the pope’s charitable works, “Peter’s Pence also contributes to the support of the Apostolic See and the activities of the Holy See,” emphasizing activities that help “populations, individuals and families in precarious conditions.”

Recent Addition to the Diocese of Santa Rosa List Points to Need for Catholic Bishops to Do More

Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests

Dec. 11, 2019

Another abusive priest has been recently added to the list of names for the Diocese of Santa Rosa. The name was apparently added after a reporter from another state pointed out that the cleric, who also worked in California, had been included on another list.

On January 31, 2019, Fr. Jose Luis Contreras was named on the list of abusive priests released by the Archdiocese of San Antonio. The Diocese of Santa Rosa had released their list prior to their Texas counterparts, but did not include Fr. Contreras. According to Bishop Robert Vasa, there were no allegations against the cleric in his diocese.

While it can never be too late to expose a perpetrator, it can also never be too soon. Ideally, Fr. Contreras should have been added to the Santa Rosa list as soon as he was identified by San Antonio. It should not be incumbent on reporters or groups like ours to inform a bishop when one of his own is included on another list.

Catholic bishops should either be sending their lists to their brother bishops, or notifying them when a priest who also worked in another diocese is included among their names. We call on the USCCB to take immediate action to address this gap, in the interest of complete transparency. To do anything less is to continue to cover up the transfer of abusive clerics from one diocese to another.

In Tagle, Pope strengthens his Vatican hand and sets up possible successor


Dec. 10, 2019

By John L. Allen Jr.

In the argot of sociology, some organizations are “high structure,” meaning they rely on rules and procedures to hold things together, and others are “high culture,” meaning it’s much more about informal relationships and personal trust.

The Vatican, both historically and today, is basically a “high culture” outfit disguised as “high structure.”

There’s a cavalcade of norms governing every aspect of the place’s operations, but everyone knows those are more guidelines than hard-and-fast rules, and that who ends up making what decision is usually a lot more about personal ties than flow charts.

For that reason, personnel is always policy in the Eternal City, which makes Pope Francis’s choice Sunday to name the 62-year-old Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle of Manila in the Philippines the new prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples a key move indeed.

Tagle replaces the 73-year-old Italian Cardinal Fernando Filoni, the Vatian’s former ambassador in Iraq who refused to vacate Baghdad in 2003 when American bombs began to fall, and who now moves on to become the grand master of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem.

Diocese says abuse lawsuit settlements don't mean all accusations are credible

Windsor Star

Dec. 6, 2019

By Trevor Wilhelm

The London diocese has paid out settlements in some sex abuse lawsuits for “practical reasons,” despite believing the accused priests were not guilty, Bishop Ronald Fabbro said Friday.

Some of those cases were included on the list of “credibly accused” priests published this week by Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP), he said.

“It is important to note that reaching a settlement in a civil suit does not necessarily indicate the allegation is credible,” said Fabbro. “When there has been a credible allegation, the diocese has offered settlements to help the victims come to some resolution and continue the process of healing. In other cases, though, some settlements are reached for practical purposes, to avoid the protracted costs of a trial, or to give a pastoral response to a plaintiff who has had difficulties in life.”

Suit claims sexual abuse by priests at Mendham church


Dec. 9, 2019

By Phil Garber

The first lawsuit alleging clergy sexual abuse under the state’s extended statute of limitations was filed by a former parishioner of St. Joseph Church against two former priests who have admitted to sexually abusing children for decades.

The unidentified victim claims he was a minor when he was sexually abused by the Rev. James Hanley and the Rev. Thomas Rainforth, both previously associated with St. Joseph Church, and by a third priest, the Rev. John Pisarcik.

Pisarcik, now 74, and Hanley, now 83, have previously admitted to sexually abusing many boys in New Jersey over three decades. Rainforth died in 2019.

Judge Orders Columbus Diocese To Release Documents On Clergy

WOSU Radio

Dec. 10, 2019

By Steve Brown

A Franklin County judge says the Roman Catholic Diocese of Columbus must hand over documents on at least 15 clergy members to see if they knew about any alleged sexual abuse.

The order issued Friday comes as part of a 2018 lawsuit filed by a man who says he was molested during the 2002-2003 school year at St. Charles Preparatory Academy by Monsignor Thomas Bennett, who died in 2008.

Judge Jaiza Page granted the request related to 15 clergy members other than Bennett, ruling it was “reasonably likely to lead to the discovery of relevant evidence.”

The clergy members in question were not identified in the order.

Erie diocese’s abuse-related costs rise to $12 million

Times News

Dec. 10, 2019

By Ed Palattella

Catholic Diocese of Erie’s compensation fund payouts reach $5.9 million, adding to previous costs of about $6 million.

The Catholic Diocese of Erie’s financial reckoning over the clergy sexual abuse crisis has reached nearly $12 million, rising by about $3 million over the past four months.

The diocese’s newly created victims’ compensation fund has paid out $5.9 million since the fund started accepting claims on Feb. 15.

The $5.9 million includes $3 million in payouts the fund has made since around the time the deadline for filing claims expired in mid-August, Bishop Lawrence Persico said in the most recent update.

The $5.9 million is in addition to more than $6 million that the diocese previously paid to cover abuse claims and associated expenses.

‒ The diocese spent $4 million in legal fees and related costs to investigate and publicize claims of abuse in advance of the release, in August 2018, of the groundbreaking Pennsylvania grand jury report on the abuse crisis in the Roman Catholic Church statewide.

‒ The diocese also paid about $750,000 to abuse victims, mainly for counseling, before the creation of the compensation fund, which is designed to cover claims in old cases.

‒ And the diocese in March paid $2 million to settle a claim with a victim of David L. Poulson, a former priest in the 13-county Catholic Diocese of Erie. The claim was not part of the compensation fund because the Poulson case was new enough to fall within the statute of limitations for filing civil suits.

Poulson pleaded guilty in October 2018 in Jefferson County to molesting the victim and another man when they were boys and Poulson was serving as a pastor in 2002 and 2010. Poulson, 66, was sentenced to 2½ to 14 years in state prison.

December 10, 2019


Church Militant blog

Dec. 4, 2019

By Kristine Christlieb

A Kentucky layman wants his bishop investigated for allegedly covering up clergy sex abuse.

Michael Montgomery, a life-long Catholic, is calling for Owensboro Bp. William Medley to be investigated for his role in reportedly covering up clerical abuse and moving problem priests to unsuspecting parishes.

Using new clergy accountability guidelines issued by Pope Francis in June, Montgomery is testing the Vatican's commitment to holding Church administrators accountable for their role in the clergy abuse scandals.

The guidelines address both investigations of clerical abusers as well as administrators whose actions "interfere with or avoid civil investigations or canonical investigations." In his former role as the director of the Office of Clergy Personnel for the archdiocese of Louisville, Medley was directly involved with all clergy personnel matters, including sex abuse cases.

Recommending "The List" — Commentary on Catholic Diocese of Charlotte and Its Yet to Be Fulfilled Promise to Release List of Abusive Priests

Bilgrimage blog

Dec. 10, 2019

By William Lindsay

As I have noted in previous postings (a bibliography is appended at the end of this posting, covering the past several years), the diocese of Charlotte, North Carolina, is one of the last dioceses in the nation to release a list of priests credibly accused of abusing minors in the diocese, though its sister diocese in Raleigh long since published its list. As I've also noted (again, please see the bibliography below), Charlotte Bishop Peter Jugis promised this year that he would release a list of credibly accused priests prior to the end of the year.

That list has yet to be released. As many people, survivors, notably, wait for Jugis' list, Charlotte's NPR state WFAE has been issuing very valuable pre-list commentary in a multi-part series of podcasts entitled "The List." Reporter Sarah Delia is overseeing and producing this important project.

As the "About" statement at the link to which I have just pointed you states: The Charlotte Diocese has made a promise to release by the end of the year a list of clergy credibly accused of sexual abuse. It will be among the last in the country to do so. WFAE looks at what the list represents, the emotional weight and expectations it carries, the resolution it can bring for survivors.

It's just devastating': Non-profit offers free counseling for children in church sex abuse case


Dec. 10, 2019

By Jaleesa Irizarry

Sifting through old photos makes Jasmine McGill sure of one thing, life has not been easy. "Long, drawn out, dramatic," McGill said. "After the sexual assault, I tried to hang myself at 12."

But it's a tough journey that has brought McGill in her living room, doing what she hopes is life-saving work. "It's just devastating, but at the same time, I have a sense of hope that we can find peace for these kids," the executive director of King's Angels said. "I know what to do for them."

Earlier this month, 21-year-old Joshua Alvarez was arrested on a charge of continuous sexual abuse of a child. Court records indicate the parents of seven children came forward with accusations that Alvarez touched their children inappropriately.

The arrest affidavit states Alvarez met five of the seven kids through church, and at one point, met with some of the parents and confessed to the crime, asking for forgiveness.

"We have been in contact with one of the families so far and there are no words with how this family is feeling; they trusted this man," McGill said.

12 California Dioceses Subpoenaed by Attorney General, SNAP Reacts

Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests

Dec. 10, 2019

The attorney general investigation into cases of clergy abuse in California has ratcheted up today as California’s top law enforcement official served the state’s 12 Catholic dioceses with subpoenas. We applaud this move and hope that other attorneys general around the country will look to do the same in their own states.

In subpoenaing all of the dioceses, A.G. Xavier Becerra is using the full power of his office in pursuit of the truth as it relates to the scope of clergy sexual abuse in Catholic California. This is a great step forward that will certainly lead to more transparency, and will also hopefully lead to more protections for children and more justice for survivors.

Data shows that when law enforcement tools are used, the resulting information that is gathered about abuse is more detailed, accurate and trusted.

Brooklyn Bishop DiMarzio Accused Of Ignoring Some Sex Abuse Claims

WCBS 880 Radio

Dec. 10, 2019

By Peter Haskell

The head of the Brooklyn Diocese, who was selected by the pope to investigate allegations of sex abuse, is now facing accusations that he ignored certain instances of misconduct.

The Brooklyn Diocese has admitted there were 114 abusive priests removed from the clergy, but there have been active investigations against 142 priests.

“Bishop DiMarzio and the Diocese of Brooklyn are evading a full account of priest perpetrators in the Diocese of Brooklyn,” said James Faluszczak, a former priest who was abused as a child.

Faluszczak says he’s suspicious about DiMarzio’s handling of the sex abuse investigations, especially since the bishop himself was also accused of abuse.

Faluszczack says he’s mostly concerned about a report looking into clergy sexual abuse in Buffalo conducted by DiMarzio.

“We contend that Bishop DiMarzio is also withholding information that he is aware of from the diocese of Buffalo,” he said.

Scharfenberger faces first test of transparency with Buffalo priest files


Dec. 10, 2019

By Charlie Specht

Bishop Edward B. Scharfenberger, apostolic administrator for the Diocese of Buffalo, has talked the talk when it comes to transparency on sexual abuse.

“We can’t be afraid of reality,” Scharfenberger said last week. “We have to be able to -- with sober eyes -- look at the damage that was done.”

The question on the minds of survivors like former priest James Faluszczak is whether the new interim bishop will now walk the walk -- and turn those words about transparency into action.

“Will he finally give to the good people of the Diocese of Buffalo a full public account of the number, the nature and the location of clergy sexual abuse in Buffalo?” Faluszczak said at a news conference Tuesday. “And will Bishop Scharfenberger cough up that information that is so needed?”

Scharfenberger’s first big test on transparency involves the issue of personnel files of abusive priests, which former Bishop Richard J. Malone staunchly refused to make public.

“I’ve said before that I will not release personnel files,” Malone told reporters in 2018. “Those are confidential in any organization, including your organizations, I assume.”

What benefits will Bishop Malone receive in retirement?

Buffalo News

Dec. 10, 2019

By Jay Tokasz

Readers posed many questions about Bishop Richard J. Malone after the Buffalo Diocese leader resigned under pressure for his handling of a clergy sexual abuse scandal in the diocese.

Buffalo News reporter Jay Tokasz has covered the crisis since it began 22 months ago, when a retired priest, the Rev. Norbert Orsolits, admitted to him that he had sexually abused "probably dozens" of boys during his career.

Below are some readers' questions following Malone's resignation on Dec. 4 and Tokasz's answers to them.

Yvonne Haymes: Shouldn’t get any “retirement” benefits!

Bonnie Pauly Serwacki: He's taking a early retirement. Big difference. A big retirement package coming his way.

What benefits can Malone expect to receive as bishop emeritus of Buffalo?

Answer: Bishop Emeritus Richard J. Malone will receive at least $1,900 per month in stipend and pension benefits, according to guidelines set forth in 2010 by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. The actual stipend amount could be more in 2019, because $1,900 per month was to be adjusted annually according to local cost of living increases, the guidelines said. In addition to the stipend, the USCCB guidelines recommend that a bishop emeritus receive “appropriate housing and board” within the diocese where he last served. The housing should include the use of a private chapel and housekeeping assistance, the guidelines recommended. And if the bishop emeritus chooses to live outside of the diocese where he last served, that diocese is still obligated to pay for appropriate housing and board.

North Carolina pastor who decried sexually abusive clerics accused of sexually abusing a minor

NBC News

Dec. 10, 2019

By Corky Siemaszko

A popular North Carolina pastor who has spoken out against sexually abusive priests has been hit with an accusation that he sexually abused a minor 25 years ago before he entered the Catholic clergy.

Father Patrick T. Hoare sent a letter to his flock decrying “terrible crimes that were committed by some members of the clergy” shortly after the release of a scathing Pennsylvania grand jury report last year which detailed decades of child abuse by more than 300 “predator priests.”

But on Monday, Hoare was placed on administrative leave from his position at St. Matthew Catholic Church in Charlotte after he was accused of sexually abusing a minor 25 years ago, before he entered ministry.

The alleged incident happened in Pennsylvania, Bishop Peter Jugis of the Charlotte Diocese said in a statement.

“The alleged victim, now an adult, reported his allegations to the diocese yesterday and said he has been in touch with police and social services,” Jugis wrote. “The Charlotte diocese also has been in touch with police and will cooperate in any investigation.”

Jugis stressed that placing Hoare on administrative leave is “standard procedure” and “does not imply guilt.”

California’s 12 dioceses subpoenaed by state attorney general in child sex abuse case

Sacramento Bee

Dec. 10, 2019

By Alexandra Yoon-Hendricks

The Roman Catholic Diocese of Sacramento, along with the other 11 dioceses in California, will be subpoenaed for additional records as the state attorney general continues to investigate whether dioceses complied with mandatory reporting requirements.

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra announced in May he would investigate all of California’s Roman Catholic dioceses to ensure that church officials followed state law and reported sexual misconduct allegations to law enforcement.

The announcement of that investigation came after Becerra’s office began requesting that victims of clergy sex abuse submit complaints to his office last year.

The Sacramento diocese, along with five other dioceses, began voluntarily turning over records to the state agency in May, according to Bishop Jaime Soto in a statement Friday.

“We share the attorney general’s desire to conduct a thorough examination of the practices and procedures that seek to protect the children entrusted to our schools, churches and programs,” Soto stated.

Last week, the attorney general’s office told the Sacramento diocese that it would issue subpoenas for additional records, according to Soto.

Predator who abused girl at property in Dundee while babysitting jailed for five years

Evening Telegraph

Dec. 10, 2019

A sexual predator who blamed his child victim after he subjected her to prolonged abuse was jailed for five years and three months.

Anthony Clark, 74, repeatedly preyed on the girl more than three decades ago at a house in Dundee.

A judge told the former Michelin tyre factory worker he had pleaded guilty to a sustained course of “disgusting sexual abuse” committed during a five-year period in the 1980s.

Catholic priest suspended after DCF substantiates abuse allegations, Danbury police investigating


Dec. 9, 2019

By Zach Murdock

Another Catholic priest in Connecticut has been removed from his parish and prohibited from ministering publicly amid two investigations into allegations he abused a minor.

Reverend Jaime Marin-Cardona was placed on administrative leave from the Diocese of Bridgeport over the weekend after the state Department of Children and Families substantiated allegations of abuse after a months-long investigation, Bishop Frank Caggiano wrote in a letter to parishioners dated Saturday.

The Danbury Police Department also is investigating the reported abuse. The diocese did not specify the exact nature of the allegations but has “fully cooperated” with both agencies, Caggiano said.

Marin-Cardona has been a priest in Connecticut since 2010 and has spent time at Saint Joseph Parish in Norwalk, Saint Charles Borromeo Parish in Bridgeport, Our Lady of Guadalupe in Danbury and most recently at Saint Mary Parish in Bridgeport.

The investigations began when the diocese contacted DCF and Danbury police in September after receiving a letter "indicating that parents were concerned by Father Marin-Cardona’s contact with a family member who is a minor," Caggiano said.

Popular Dublin priest in his 80s allegedly 'searched for naked boy scouts on Facebook'

Irish Post

Dec. 10, 2019

By Jack Beresford

A Dublin priest described as a “popular and well-known figure in his diocese” has reportedly been accused of searching for “naked boy scouts” on Facebook.

A report from Dublin Live alleges that a retired cleric in his mid 80s searched for "naked boy scouts" and "boy scouts nude" on the social media website.

The accusations stem from a post, believed to be a status update, in which the unnamed suspect wrote “naked boy scouts” alongside a half photo of the suspect and the caption “boys scouts nude”.

Though yet unconfirmed, it is widely believed that the messages were posted in error by the priest who is thought to be unclear on the inner workings of Facebook.

A spokesman for his Religious Order has confirmed to Dublin Live that they are aware of the ongoing situation.

They also confirmed that the matter is being investigated by Gardai.

"As soon as we became aware of the situation our Designated Liaison Person for child safeguarding contacted TUSLA, the NBSCCCI and the Gardaí,” a spokesperson said.

"We followed the procedures for National child- safeguarding as indicated on NBSCCCI website."

Nun accused of sex abuse at Middletown school

Journal News

Dec. 9, 2019

By Frank Esposito

A nun is accused of sexually abusing a young girl at a Middletown school before moving on to higher positions at schools around Westchester County, according to court documents.

Sister Ann Peterson is accused of groping and molesting then-10-year-old Pamela Hayes at Saint Joseph School in Middletown throughout the mid-1960s, according to court documents.

The lawsuit accused Peterson of asking Hayes to stay after school and then abusing her by kissing and putting her hands under her clothes and fondling her, according to court documents filed under New York’s Child Victims Act.

The order Peterson belongs to — The Ursulines — worked with the now defunct College of New Rochelle, where Peterson was a board member until its closing earlier this year.

Her order also runs two other secondary education facilities in New York, The Ursuline School in New Rochelle — where Peterson served as principal in the 1970s — and the Academy of Mount St. Ursula in the Bronx.

The Ursuline School’s website currently lists Peterson as a member of the board of trustees at the school.

Peterson also served as advisory board member for Senior Care for the Maryknoll Fathers and Brothers, according to her biography page on the College of New Rochelle’s old website.

Erie diocese’s abuse-related costs rise to $12 million

Times News

Dec. 10, 2019

By Ed Palattella

Catholic Diocese of Erie’s compensation fund payouts reach $5.9 million, adding to previous costs of about $6 million.

The Catholic Diocese of Erie’s financial reckoning over the clergy sexual abuse crisis has reached nearly $12 million, rising by about $3 million over the past four months.

The diocese’s newly created victims’ compensation fund has paid out $5.9 million since the fund started accepting claims on Feb. 15.

The $5.9 million includes $3 million in payouts the fund has made since around the time the deadline for filing claims expired in mid-August, Bishop Lawrence Persico said in the most recent update.

The $5.9 million is in addition to more than $6 million that the diocese previously paid to cover abuse claims and associated expenses.

‒ The diocese spent $4 million in legal fees and related costs to investigate and publicize claims of abuse in advance of the release, in August 2018, of the groundbreaking Pennsylvania grand jury report on the abuse crisis in the Roman Catholic Church statewide.

December 9, 2019

Charlotte Priest Placed On Leave Amid Allegation


Dec. 9, 2019

By Dashiell Coleman

The pastor of St. Matthew Parish has been placed on leave as the Catholic Diocese of Charlotte investigates a decades-old allegation of sexual abuse.

Bishop Peter Jugis announced Monday in a letter to parishioners that the Rev. Patrick Hoare had been placed on administrative leave after someone told the diocese on Sunday they'd been sexually abused by Hoare about 25 years ago in Pennsylvania.

The alleged abuse would have occurred when the accuser was a minor but before Hoare was a Catholic priest. The administrative leave is standard procedure, and Hoare has denied the accusation, Jugis said.

Jugis says the Charlotte Diocese has been in touch with police – as has the person who accused Hoare. The diocese's internal lay review board will also investigate to determine if the accusation is credible, Jugis said.

"We do not yet know the facts and have no indication of any issues at St. Matthew Church," Jugis wrote in his letter.

Terry Connors’ role in Buffalo Diocese abuse scandal scrutinized


Dec. 9, 2019

By Charlie Specht

Terry Connors is one of the few constants in the Diocese of Buffalo sex abuse crisis.

The influential criminal defense attorney has done legal work for four Catholic bishops stretching back three decades.

He was there in 1993, when notorious pedophile priests Bernard Mach and John Aurelio were first accused of sexually abusing boys under the tenure of Bishop Edward D. Head.

He represented the diocese in 2003 under Bishop Henry J. Mansell , when dozens of claims poured into the Buffalo chancery following the explosion of the worldwide sex abuse crisis in Boston. Most of those claims were hidden from the public until this year.

And he was the official attorney for the Catholic Diocese under bishops Edward U. Kmiec and Richard J. Malone , who according to confidants, would often utter of the abuse crisis, “Terry will get us through this.”

But Buffalo now has a new bishop -- Edward B. Scharfenberger -- and it’s unclear whether he will keep Connors on as diocesan attorney, especially since Connors could be facing legal troubles of his own.

A University of Cambridge research project takes a frank look at clericalism and sexuality

America Magazine

Dec. 9, 2019

By Catherine R. Osborne

Since Pope Francis identified “clericalism” as a key factor in the sexual abuse crisis, it has been a topic of intense discussion among both laypeople and priests. Francis sees it as a sickness that associates ministry with power rather than service. A hierarchical attitude that separates clergy and elevates them above the laity, clericalism seems to permeate the institutional church. But while there has been much discussion of clericalism and sexual abuse, the overall sexual behavior and identity of clergy is relatively unexamined territory.

That may change with a three-year research project on “Clericalism and Sexuality” at the Von Hügel Institute for Critical Catholic Inquiry at St. Edmund’s College, University of Cambridge. In September, an international, interdisciplinary group of scholars gathered for a symposium to identify questions of interest. Luigi Gioia, the project’s originator, said he hopes to “collect reliable data and analyze it from an interdisciplinary viewpoint,” especially inviting sociologists and anthropologists to weigh in.

Symposium attendees came from the fields of psychology, sociology and history, as well as theology. Nearly all were Catholic and many were priests, vowed religious or lay members of movements ranging from Opus Dei to the Catholic Worker. To this deeply committed group, it seemed obvious that clericalism has been a disaster for the church. As the theologian M. Shawn Copeland argued, clericalism is based on the assumption that some human beings really are different than others in God’s eyes. It both resembles and overlaps with patriarchy, racism and colonialism, all systems that maintain hierarchical relationships among groups.

Midway through the symposium, the value of an interdisciplinary exchange came clearly into view when the anthropologist Maya Mayblin upended the conversation, which had been largely devoted to identifying the false theological and historical premises of clericalism. Ms. Mayblin observed that, from a more neutral point of view, clericalism seems to have worked quite well, for quite a long time, in the church. But its rewards do not seem to go only to the clergy who attain elevated positions; they also go to the many laypeople who support and even demand this system of hierarchical separation.

Msgr. James Kruse: The Actions of Rochester Diocese: Caution or Sabotage?

Journal Star

Dec. 9, 2019

By Msgr. James Kruse

Member of Fulton Sheen Foundation

Dec. 7, 2019

I am Msgr. James Kruse and hold a degree in church law. For many years I have served as the Vicar General of the Diocese of Peoria. I have been intimately involved in the process for advancing the Cause for Beatification of Fulton Sheen almost from its inception. I had the privilege of being involved in the investigation of the miracle that was ultimately approved by the Pope. I was involved in every stage of the court proceedings in New York regarding the transfer of the mortal remains of Fulton Sheen. It was a great privilege and honor to be present in New York and Peoria on the day his remains were transferred from the cathedral in New York to the cathedral in Peoria. I was filled with joy to hear that Rome approved the miracle attributed to Fulton Sheen and that Pope Francis called for his Beatification. Then I became disappointed when a date for Beatification was not initially granted. I worked extensively in Peoria and at the Vatican offices in Rome examining documents presented by the Diocese of Rochester. Then, I was filled with joy, when recently the date of December 21, 2019, was announced for Sheen’s Beatification in Peoria. But, this week, I again became disappointed when Sheen’s Beatification was postponed. As various news articles were posted and even more when statements from the Diocese of Rochester were publicized, I decided to speak out earlier this week in order to defend Sheen and present the truth of this lengthy ordeal. And now I speak out again in the hopes of setting the record straight, hopefully, for the last time.

Nuns failed to protect us: wards

Post Newspapers via PressReader.com

December 7, 2019

By Ben Dickinson

Two women who were teenage wards of the Home of the Good Shepherd in West Leederville in the 1970s say they were seriously neglected after they escaped sexual abuse elsewhere.

The women, Dallas Phillips and Cheryle Bandy, say they were often surrounded by unscrupulous male “visitors” to the house, and saw a relationship with a man as their only means of escape.

The home closed in 1979, and its main building in Ruislip Street is now occupied by the Catholic Education office.

Ms Phillips and Ms Bandy spoke after a rally outside the Supreme Court last week, where victims of child sex abuse called for compensation from the Catholic Church.

"Good Shepherd need to be exposed for what they did to girls like me,” Ms Phillips said.

“The nuns did nothing to protect us.”

Ms Phillips came to the West Leederville home at age 13, after she said she was sexually abused by monks in the Benedictine community of New Norcia.

“New Norcia was an evil, evil place,” Ms Phillips said.

Church: Danbury priest in probe was alone with boy in his car

News Tiimes

Dec. 9, 2019

By Julia Perkins and Erin Kayata

A former priest at Our Lady of Guadalupe Church became the subject of an abuse investigation by police because he was seen driving a teenage boy alone in his car, Catholic officials said Monday.

The Rev. Jaime Marin-Cardona was stripped of his priestly duties and prohibited from engaging in public ministry after the state Department of Children and Families found “substantiated allegations of abuse” against the 51-year-old pastor, Bishop Frank J. Caggiano said in a letter to parishioners Friday.

Priest Found “Unsuitable for Ministry” Following Accusations of Abuse

Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests

Dec. 9, 2019

A priest who had been placed on leave in January following allegations of sexual abuse has been found “unsuitable for ministry.” We call on Catholic officials in Philadelphia to do outreach to potential victims and to publicize complete information on this cleric so that local communities will be fully aware of the allegations.

In January of 2019, Msgr. Joseph Logrip was placed on administrative leave while Church leaders in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia investigated allegations of abuse against him. But this is not the first time that Msgr. Logrip was the subject of such an investigation. He had been investigated by Catholic officials on similar accusations in 2011. Howver, the clergyman was returned to ministry in 2014. The Archdiocese of Philadelphia owes the faithful and the public an explanation as to why the earlier allegation was found to be “not credible.”

To us this situation shows how Catholic officials in Philadelphia have not taken claims of abuse seriously nor done the right thing when allegations were received, especially since they refused to disclose publicly that Msgr. Logrip had been a volunteer at the K-8 school St. Aloysius Academy for decades.

Church leaders in Philadelphia owe it to their communities to be open and honest about Msgr. Logrip. They should not only disclose his removal, but also his full work history to all parishes in their community and to the public so that parents and parishioners know to look among their own for survivors. In addition, they should turn over all information to the police and to the Attorney General, if they have not already done so.

Third Time Isn't a Charm: Archdiocese Omits Key Info On Msgr. Logrip Again

Catholics 4 Change blog

Dec. 8, 2019

By Susan Mathews

The Archdiocese announced that Msgr. Joseph Logrip is unsuitable for ministry today. The announcement came as most do – on slow-news Sunday and lacking transparency.

The six-page media release buries the lead and fails to mention St. Aloysius Academy for Boys in Logrip’s history. His involvement there as a chaplain and Mass celebrant has been well documented. This isn’t the first time they’ve avoided the whole truth. They didn’t share this info in the 2011 press release when he was first removed or the January 2019 when he was removed again after being reinstated in 2014.

The archdiocese argued they didn’t assign him to St. Aloysius in a formal capacity. For God’s sake, this isn’t a resume. It’s an alert to the community. They knew about his time there and he is one of theirs – an archdiocesan priest. They have a moral duty to share the whole truth. If they are going to claim transparency and accountability, then this is what is required.

Why would they omit the info? Could it be they don’t want more victims to come forward? Just spitballing here. We hope no more children were abused in the decade that’s passed since they disregarded the seriousness of a complaint.

Vancouver archdiocese abuse review was ‘difficult but transformative’

Canadian Catholic News

Dec. 9, 2019

By Agnieszka Ruck

Whenever a group of people with different opinions gather at a table to discuss a controversial topic, sparks are bound to fly.

But Archdiocese of Vancouver lawyer Mary Margaret MacKinnon said the experience can be surprisingly instructive, too. That was her experience while chairing the Case Review Committee that studied 36 cases of sexual abuse by priests in Vancouver since the 1950s over 13 months. Its report was released Nov. 22.

“It was difficult in some ways because we had a bunch of divergent voices at the table, but it was also transformative because it let us hear from people who we haven’t heard from at the table before,” she told The B.C. Catholic.

These voices included four victims of abuse, lay people of various professions, a religious sister and two non-Catholics. All 13 members of the Case Review Committee gathered for seven long meetings to study abuse cases and come up with recommendations for the Archdiocese of Vancouver.

MacKinnon, a lawyer whose practice focuses on personal injury and sexual abuse claims, has been handling abuse cases for more than 30 years. The horrific stories don’t shock her anymore, but the willingness of this group to listen to those around the table did.

Catholic priest with local ties investigated for misconduct with women


Dec. 9, 2019

By Rusty Surette

A Catholic priest with local ties is currently under investigation following reports of misconduct in which he is accused of breaching both physical and emotional boundaries with several adult women and at least one female youth.

Father Michael Sullivan, a member of the Legionaries of Christ, has admitted to violating the organization's "Christ Code of Conduct" on more than one occasion beginning in 2013, according to an internal memo obtained by News 3's Rusty Surette.

The Legionaries of Christ is a Roman Catholic congregation of priests and men studying for the priesthood.

Fr. Sullivan has worked with St. Mary's Catholic Center in College Station since 2009 and participated in confessional, spiritual direction, and retreats, according to a social media post by the church.

It's unclear if his accusers are members of the St. Mary's congregation.

Sullivan left St. Mary's on November 2 after being reassigned, but the organization says the move had nothing to do with the accusations and was planned prior to the most recent incident.

Priest Arrested for Child Pornography Possession, SNAP Responds

Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests

Dec. 9, 2019

A Catholic priest in Cleveland has been arrested for possessing child pornography and today his bond was set at $50,000. We applaud law enforcement for their work in this case, but there is still much more to do. Child pornography is a crime with many victims, many predators and a tragically long shelf life.

Rev. Robert McWilliams was arrested on church property for possessing child pornography. Now Catholic officials in the Diocese of Cleveland must immediately call upon any victims, witnesses, or whistleblowers to come forward to law enforcement with information that will aid in the investigation. Rev. McWilliams' complete work history must also be publicized and reviewed, with an eye to uncovering whether any children were victimized at any of his posts.

Catholic leadership often says that sex abuse in the Church is "in the past,” but cases like this prove otherwise. Over the past two years, law enforcement in at least 30 states have arrested or started criminal proceedings against living, working priests implicated in sex abuse, according to SNAP’s internal monitoring. This means that parishioners and the public must continue to be vigilant in order to protect children in their communities.

Church's pledges don't match behavior

The Journal

Dec. 8, 2019

Sometimes it seems every pledge of reform by the Roman Catholic Church is matched by one — or more — reports of outrageous behavior.

A permissive policy toward predator priests who molested children appears to have characterized church policy for decades, not just in the United States but also in many other countries. Church officials say they will crack down on that. No longer will molesters be shielded, they vow.

But those pledges of turning over a new leaf have been coming forth for several years.

In 2017, reports surfaced that some church officials working with the Caritas International charity were engaged in pedophilia. The Rev. Luk Delft, a Belgian priest who had been working int the Central African Republic, was accused.

Officials in the Vatican had said they learned of allegations against Delft in 2017, but decided his Caritas International superiors should handle the matter. They did little; Delft remained as Central African Republic director of Caritas International until this year.

Recently, it was reported that Delft was appointed to the post even though he had been convicted in 2012 of child sexual abuse and possession of child pornography in Belgium.

Former Giants chaplain subject of the latest sex abuse lawsuit

Bergen Record

Dec. 9, 2019

By Abbott Koloff and Deena Yellin

A former New York Giants football team chaplain accused of sexual abuse more than 15 years ago and later reinstated by church officials — just in time to get a Super Bowl ring — was named in a lawsuit filed Monday by one of the two men who had come forward years ago.

The priest, the Rev. William Dowd, was returned to ministry in 2007 after a church tribunal made up of priests had acquitted him in a closed-door hearing. That decision came five years after a Newark Archdiocese review board, which included lay people, determined the allegations warranted further action by church officials.

Also on Monday, five women said in court papers that they were abused as young girls by a Bergen County priest while their families attended parishes in Hackensack and Glen Rock.

The priest, Augustine Giella, died more than 15 years ago while awaiting trial after being charged with the sexual assault of a child. He's been accused of abusing five sisters from Pennsylvania after being transferred to that state from New Jersey. A Pennsylvania grand jury report listed him last year among 300 allegedly abusive clerics and called him an example of the Catholic Church's "wholesale institutional failure that endangered the welfare of children."

Rochester diocese request led to beatification delay

Associated Press

Dec 9, 2019

By David Crary

The Catholic diocese of Rochester, N.Y., confirms it made the request for further investigations that prompted the Vatican to take the rare step of delaying Archbishop Fulton Sheen’s journey to sainthood.

Sheen, who died in 1979, was best known for his radio and TV preaching. The new controversy is the latest to bedevil his beatification cause, which was stalled by an expensive, years-long legal battle between Sheen’s relatives in Peoria, Illinois, and the New York City archdiocese over his final resting place.

Pope Francis said last month that Sheen’s beatification had been approved and would take place on Dec. 21 in Peoria, where he was ordained in 1919. The Peoria diocese announced Tuesday that the Vatican had postponed the ceremony indefinitely.

On Thursday, the diocese of Rochester, where Sheen was bishop from 1966 to 1969, confirmed it had sought the delay “to allow for further review of his role in priests’ assignments.”

“Other prelates shared these concerns and expressed them,” the diocese said. “There are no complaints against Archbishop Sheen engaging in any personal inappropriate conduct, nor were any insinuations made in this regard.”

The Rochester diocese has declined to elaborate further on its concerns.

Bond set at $50,000 for Strongsville priest accused of receiving, possessing child pornography


Dec. 9, 2019

By Randy Buffington

Rev. Robert D. McWilliams, a Catholic priest working in Strongsville, appeared in court on Monday morning on chilld pornography-related crimes.

Bond was set at $50,000 for charges that include possessing, receiving, and distributing child pornography.

Bond set at $50,000 for Strongsville priest accused of receiving, possessing child pornography
McWilliams was placed on leave by the Cleveland Catholic Diocese after he was handcuffed at St. Joseph Church and charged on Dec. 5.

The Ohio Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force (ICAC) arrived at St. Joseph Parish and searched McWilliams’ living and office spaces for evidence related to the crimes that were allegedly committed in Geauga County.

Father Brian D'Arcy: The church criticised me after I had revealed I was abused by a Christian Brother

Belfast Telegraph

Dec. 9, 2019

By Helen Carson

Fermanagh-born cleric Father Brian D'Arcy says the time was right for his tell-all memoir which reveals how he was sexually abused in the church as a young boy, and again as a teen.

The 74-year-old priest, whose book It Has To Be Said is now on sale, tells how he suffered clerical sexual abuse but had to wait until the perpetrators had died before he could unmask them.

The 400-page book also documents how the veteran broadcaster and author, who is often dubbed 'the showbiz priest', influenced Father Ted actor Dermot Morgan's portrayal of his most famous TV role as the hapless Craggy Island cleric.

The Crossgar-based priest also tells how he played a key role in the Northern Ireland peace process by smuggling letters to key loyalists from former Taoiseach Albert Reynolds, who he had been friends with during the showband era in Ireland.

And amid the most shocking revelations about clerical sexual abuse, Father D'Arcy admits struggling all his life to deal with the trauma of the assaults.

"Many of the stories in the book couldn't have been written (previously) because many of the people were still alive," he explains. "The story was worth telling. Now I can tell it with greater freedom."

The importance of setting the record straight in his 70s was also an issue for the priest: "I'm getting to an age where I could wake up dead tomorrow, or my memory would go, so I had to sit down and do it."

Diocese of London, ON Admits that Abusers Remain Hidden in their Files

Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests

Dec. 9, 2019

The Diocese of London today acknowledged that the list put together by survivors from SNAP Ontario was not only correct, but that there were actually more names still hidden. We call on Catholic officials to release those names and work histories to the public in order to protect children and support survivors.

The fact is, researching abusers is difficult for survivors, but very easy for Church leaders: they could simply open up their personnel files and secret archives and come clean about the information they hold. Doing that would inform law enforcement and families, who in turn could better protect children. To us, it is a simple choice between secrecy and safety.

Bishop Ronald Fabbro is choosing secrecy, and worse yet, using survivors as his shield in doing so. The argument that survivors will be “revictimized” if their abuser’s name becomes public is an excuse that has been employed by other dioceses previously. But in our experience, most – if not all -- survivors would prefer that children are protected and that the public is informed.

We believe there are hundreds, and perhaps thousands, of abusive clerics with ties to Canada. More importantly, we believe the best way to get to the full scope of the problem is for the Canadian government to undertake a national investigation akin to the Royal Commission in Australia. That group unearthed nearly 2,000 abusers in a country of only 5.5 million Catholics. In Canada, there are more than 12.5 million Catholics, as well as many native missions which have historically been epicenters of abuse. For these two reasons, we suspect there are likely many more perpetrators still hidden in Canadian files.

After second abuse allegation, priest found unsuitable for ministry

Catholic Philly

Dec. 9, 2019

By Matthew Gambin

Msgr. Joseph L. Logrip, 74, a priest of the Philadelphia Archdiocese who had been cleared of an allegation of child sexual abuse in 2011, has been permanently suspended after another more recent allegation was found to be credible.

The archdiocese revealed the decision of Archbishop Charles Chaput on Sunday, Dec. 8 after he had accepted the recommendation of the Archdiocesan Professional Responsibilities Review Board (APRRB), a 12-member advisory panel of experts on child abuse.

The news was communicated to the community at Camilla Hall, the retirement facility in Immaculata for elderly and ill Sisters Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary where Msgr. Logrip had served as chaplain, and to St. Peter Parish in West Brandywine where he assisted with celebrating weekend Masses.

Msgr. Logrip was ordained a priest in 1972. He had been placed on leave in March 2011 due to an allegation that he had sexually abused a minor decades earlier, and following the second Philadelphia grand jury report on sexual abuse of minors by Catholic clergy.

After law enforcement declined to press charges on the allegation, the archdiocesan Office for Investigations — which looks into cases of sexual assault as well as “boundary violations,” which may not rise to the level of criminality but may be violations of the archdiocese’s Standards of Ministerial Behavior and Boundaries — probed the matter.

By 2014 the APRRB found the allegation not credible and deemed Msgr. Logrip suitable for ministry. At that time he was assigned to Camilla Hall with assistance at St. Peter’s.

In its Dec. 8 statement, the archdiocese said it received in late 2018 a new allegation of Msgr. Logrip sexually abusing a minor in the early 1980s. He was subsequently placed on leave with his public ministry restricted in January 2019.

US Catholic priests beset by overwork, isolation, scandals

Associated Press

Dec. 9, 2019

By David Crary

More than a century ago, waves of Catholic immigrants from Ireland, Poland and Quebec settled in Chicopee and other western Massachusetts mill towns, helping build churches, rectories and schools to accommodate their faith. Today the priests leading those churches are under siege due to stresses, challenges and sex abuse scandals complicating their lives and those of their fellow priests across the United States.

The Rev. Mark Stelzer is among those trying to persevere. He’s a professor at a Roman Catholic college in Chicopee, and its chaplain. He travels frequently to out-of-state events organized by a Catholic addiction-treatment provider, recounting his own recovery from alcoholism.

Last year, his busy schedule got busier. Amid a worsening shortage of priests, the Diocese of Springfield named him administrator of a parish in Holyoke, Chicopee’s northern neighbor, where he lives alone in a mansion-sized rectory while serving as spiritual leader to the 500 families of St. Jerome’s Church.

“I’m at an age where I thought I’d be doing less rather than doing more,” said Stelzer, 62.

Stelzer loves being a priest, yet he’s frank about the ever-evolving stresses of his vocation that leave him nostalgic for the priesthood he entered in 1983.

“It was a lot simpler then,” he said. “There’s a real longing, a mourning for the church that was — when there was a greater fraternity among priests, and the church was not facing these scandals that are now emerging every day.”

Stelzer’s concerns echoed those of other priests, and some of their psychological caregivers, who were interviewed by The Associated Press.

December 8, 2019

Archdiocese of St. Louis won’t estimate costs in alleged abuse settlements

St. Louis Post-Dispatch

December 7, 2019

By Nassim Benchaabane

The Archdiocese of St. Louis can’t estimate how much it has paid so far to people alleging sex abuse by clergy because records going back decades aren’t consistent or accurate in each case, church officials say.

“Over the last few decades, settlements were paid out in a number of ways … so there is not an accurate number that we would be comfortable sharing,” spokesman Peter Frangie said in an email last week.

While a 2013 archdiocesan report identified $10 million in costs related to sexual abuse since 2004, the full extent of the financial impact of abuse allegations is unknown. Public reports identify other cases that were settled out of court for tens of thousands of dollars to hundreds of thousands of dollars, but many settlements were confidential, sometimes at the plaintiff’s request.

Symposium on Restoring Trust in the Catholic Church Held in Buffalo

Spectrum News

December 7, 2019

By Katherine Chloe

"I believe that our victim survivors, they are our family. They're a part of us. And while we don't want to burden them with yet one more burden, they have a tremendous invitation shall I say, to feel a part of the healing mission," explains Bishop Edward Scharfenberger, Buffalo Diocese Apostolic Administrator.

Many Catholics expressed relief after Bishop Richard Malone resigned. This after months of Malone being accused of covering up for priests and mishandling the sex abuse crisis.

"I'm here to see how my family of survivors can start to trust the church again. How do we get to this place?" asks Michael Whalen, survivor and advocate.

Santa Rosa bishop says priest served on North Coast after 1987 molestation case in Texas

The Press Democrat

December 7, 2019

A Roman Catholic priest who served on the North Coast after he was accused of sexual misconduct in Texas has been added to the Santa Rosa Diocese’s list of clergy credibly accused of child sex abuse on the basis of the 32-year-old molestation case from San Antonio.

Jose Luis Contreras, believed to be 78, is not known to have acted improperly while posted in California, where he served between 1995 and 2000 before returning to Mexico, Santa Rosa Bishop Robert F. Vasa said.

The Santa Rosa Diocese had no knowledge of the 1987 accusation against Contreras when he came to the region from Tepic, Mexico. He had left the United States for Mexico in the wake of the sex abuse allegation. After joining the Santa Rosa Diocese, Contreras served at Saint Elizabeth Seton in Philo, Mendocino County, Vasa said. He would later serve in Crescent City, as well.

Pa.’s recently approved statute of limitations reform fell short. This is how | Opinion

Pennsylvania Capital-Star

December 8, 2019

By Tim Kearney and Katie Muth

It has been over a year since the release of the grand jury report that unveiled widespread sexual abuse by the Catholic Church in Pennsylvania. The report showed, in horrific detail, how 301 priests preyed upon more than 1,000 children over seven decades.

For generations, Pennsylvania’s statute of limitations barred many survivors from seeking legal recourse and shielded their predators.

For generations, powerful institutions, such as the Insurance Federation, and their lobbyists blocked reforms and escaped liability for their crimes. Survivors suffered under the weight of their abuse, silenced by the law, while their tormentors walked free. Last year, before our election to the Senate, the General Assembly was on the finish line of passing the grand jury’s recommendations when the Republican majority adjourned the session.

This year, the legislature finally approved a small but meaningful measure of justice. W

Our View: Let diocese’s work to regain trust begin now

Olean Herald

December 8, 2019

After resisting calls for him to resign for several months, Bishop Richard Malone took what he called “early retirement” Wednesday and stepped down as leader of the Diocese of Buffalo.

In his exit, Malone offered acknowledgement he made mistakes in his handling of the flood of sexual abuse claims against priests dating back decades, but he still pointed out that during his tenure no priest ordained in the past 30 years had an allegation of child sex abuse substantiated.

That assertion alone perhaps helps explain why the now former bishop, despite widespread calls from the Catholic community throughout Western New York for him to step down, held out for as long as he did. A “this wasn’t on my watch” justification simply wasn’t enough to appease abuse victims and their families, as well as an active and discerning Catholic community that has been looking for both justice and healing.

Abuse redress: Christian Brothers pay €30m

Irish Times

December 8, 2019

By Carl O'Brien

Religious congregations provide €110m in cash but owe twice that amount in property

Total cost of the State’s contribution to redress for survivors of residential institutions is likely to be in the region of €1.5bn.

The State has reached a milestone in securing church assets to cover the cost of abuse redress after the Christian Brothers fulfilled its pledge to complete its contribution of €30 million.

This largely completes cash pledges worth €110 million from religious organisations who offered in the aftermath of the publication of the Ryan report to part-fund redress and support for 15,000 former pupils.

However, religious congregations have yet to transfer more than twice this amount in the form of property which they pledged to hand over to the State about a decade ago.

Priest Abuse Survivor Hopeful in Scharfenberger

WBEN, 930 AM (Talk radio)

December 8, 2019

Michael Whalen: "The man truly is sincere"

When Bishop Edward Scharfenberger was introduced to the Buffalo catholic community as the newly appointed apostolic administrator for the Diocese of Buffalo, he said he wanted to meet with survivors of priest abuse. That didn't take long as survivor Michael Whalen took to the stage at the Movement to Restore Trust symposium Saturday and offered an honest assessment of the crisis, from a survivor's perspective.

As Whalen, who was seated next to Scharfenberger, walked across the stage inside the Montante Cultural Center at Canisius College, Bishop Scherfenberger was in the front row and stood to recognize Whalen as the crowd of 175 in attendance looked on.

Call me ‘Father’: Pope’s priestly vocation is his favorite gift

Catholic News Service

By Carol Glatz

In Caravaggio’s painting of Matthew, the sinful tax collector being called by Jesus to “Follow me,” Pope Francis sees the same unexpected, grace-filled moment found in his own call to the priesthood.

A 17-year-old Argentine student headed to a school picnic on Sept. 21, 1953, the feast of St. Matthew, Jorge Bergoglio felt compelled to first stop by his parish of San Jose de Flores.

It was there, speaking with a priest he had never seen before and receiving the sacrament of reconciliation, he was suddenly struck by “the loving presence of God,” who, like his episcopal motto describes, saw him through eyes of mercy and chose him, despite his human imperfections and flaws.

Bishop Richard Malone of Buffalo resigns after leaked records, reported on by 60 Minutes

CBS News

December 8, 2019


Last year, 60 Minutes' Bill Whitaker reported on leaked records of the Catholic Diocese of Buffalo, New York. On Wednesday, Pope Francis accepted Bishop Malone's resignation.

Last year, Bill Whitaker reported on leaked records of the Catholic Diocese of Buffalo, New York. They showed Bishop Richard Malone concealed allegations against dozens of priests accused of abuse and allowed some to remain in ministry.

The whistleblower was Bishop Malone's own executive assistant Siobhan O'Connor.

"The reality of what I saw really left me with no other option because, at the end of my life, I`m not going to answer to Bishop Malone. I`m going to answer to God," O'Connor said.

On Wednesday, Pope Francis accepted Bishop Malone's resignation.

Watch the full report, "Inside the Secret Archive," below.

Factbox: Statistics on rape in India and some well-known cases

Reuters via the Huffington Global

December 6, 2019

Indian police shot dead four men on Friday who were suspected of raping and killing a 27-year-old veterinarian in the city of Hyderabad, a police official told Reuters, drawing applause from her family and citizens outraged over crimes against women.

More than 32,500 cases of rape were registered with the police in 2017, about 90 a day, according to the most recent government data.

Indian courts disposed of only about 18,300 cases related to rape that year, leaving more than 127,800 cases pending at the end of 2017.

Ohio priest accused of having child pornography set to appear in court


December 7, 2019

A Cleveland-area Roman Catholic priest who is accused of having child pornography is expected to make his first court appearance on Monday.

Authorities arrested the Rev. Robert McWilliams on Thursday at St. Joseph Catholic Church in Strongsville. He’s charged with possessing child pornography and possessing criminal tools.

The Cleveland diocese says investigators took a cellphone, iPad and laptop that belonged to McWilliams during a raid of the priest’s office and where he lived. McWilliams is being held in jail and hasn’t made any statements since his arrest.

Court records don’t indicate whether he has any attorney.

Church now faces ‘Sheen dilemma’ in evaluating saints and their halos


December 8, 2019

By John L. Allen Jr.

Now that we know why the scheduled Dec. 21 beatification ceremony for the late Archbishop Fulton Sheen has been postponed, it raises broader questions about how we evaluate not only potential candidates for sainthood, but those who’ve already crossed the finish line, vis-à-vis the clerical sexual abuse scandals.

After being initially reported that the Vatican had postponed the beatification at the request of a “few U.S. bishops,” the Diocese of Rochester, where Sheen served as an auxiliary bishop from 1959 to 1966 and as the bishop until his retirement in 1969, acknowledged in a statement that it had requested the delay “to allow for further review of his role in priests’ assignments.”

To be clear, there’s no suggestion of any personal misconduct by Sheen. An official in Sheen’s home diocese of Peoria, Illinois, which spearheaded the beatification cause, told reporters the concerns focus on a particular Rochester priest accused of sexual misconduct during Sheen’s years as a bishop, but insisted that the case had been thoroughly investigated and no mishandling by Sheen was discovered.

Announcement From The Archdiocese Of Philadelphia Regarding Reverend Monsignor Joseph L. Logrip

Archdiocese of Philadelphia

December 8, 2019

Reverend Monsignor Joseph L. Logrip was placed on administrative leave and his priestly faculties were restricted in January 2019 following an allegation that he sexually abused a minor in the early 1980s. That allegation has been substantiated and he has been found unsuitable for ministry.

Contextual Background Regarding Reverend Monsignor Joseph L. Logrip

Previous Administrative Leave Case (2011)

Reverend Monsignor Joseph L. Logrip was previously placed on administrative leave and his priestly faculties were restricted by the Archdiocese of Philadelphia following the March 2011 Philadelphia Grand Jury Report. That action was taken based on an allegation that he had sexually abused a minor over two decades before that time.

The allegation was referred to law enforcement and public announcements were made to the media as well as the parish communities where Monsignor Logrip had been serving at that time.

The required canonical (church) investigation of Monsignor Logrip was launched after law enforcement declined to press charges in that matter. The Archdiocesan Office of Investigations (AOI) undertook that canonical process.

The AOI is responsible for conducting internal and canonical investigations following the conclusion of work performed by civil authorities. At the time it investigated Monsignor Logrip the AOI was headed by a former Deputy District Attorney for the City and County of Philadelphia. Currently, the office is led by a former First Assistant District Attorney for the City and County of Philadelphia. The AOI also performs investigations in matters that center on alleged activity that is not illegal in nature, but that may violate The Standards of Ministerial Behavior and Boundaries established by the Archdiocese.

Priest declared ‘unsuitable’ for ministry due to sexual abuse allegation: Diocese

Associated Press via PennLive.com

December 8, 2019

Catholic authorities in Philadelphia say a priest formerly returned to ministry following an allegation of sexual abuse has been found unsuitable for ministry following a new allegation.

Seventy-four-year-old Reverend Monsignor Joseph Logrip had been placed on administrative leave in January following the new allegation of abuse in the early 1980s.

The archdiocese of Philadelphia said Sunday that the new allegation “has been substantiated” and Logrip “has been found unsuitable for ministry.”

Philly Priest accused of child molestation found ‘unsuitable for ministry’

Philadelphia Inquirer

December 8, 2019

by Mensah M. Dean

A Philadelphia Catholic priest who was placed on administrative leave in January after being accused of sexually abusing a minor in the 1980s, has been found to be “unsuitable for ministry,” the Archdiocese of Philadelphia announced Sunday.

Monsignor Joseph L. Logrip, 74, who had last worked as a chaplain at Camilla Hall, a retirement home for women in Malvern, Chester County, and as a weekend assistant at St. Peter Parish in West Brandywine, Chester County, was ruled to be unfit to serve as a priest after an investigation by the Archdiocesan Office of Investigation.

The results of the investigation were then forwarded to the Archdiocesan Professional Responsibilities Review Board, which recommended that Logrip be declared unsuitable, the church said in a statement. Archbishop Charles Chaput accepted that recommendation, and the case will now be sent to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith at the Vatican, the statement said.

Even Sheen has to pass muster for handling abuse cases, Baltimore prelate says


December 7, 2019

By Inés San Martín

[Editor’s note: This is part two of a Crux interview with Archbishop William Lori of Baltimore. Part one can be found here.]

Archbishop William Lori of Baltimore says the Church must “make darn sure” any bishop of the Catholic Church who served from the 1960s to 1980s, now understood to be the statistical peak of the clerical sexual abuse crisis, didn’t mishandle an abuse allegation - a test, he said, that must apply even “for someone as good as Fulton Sheen.”

Lori spoke one day after the diocese of Peoria announced the Vatican had decided to postpone the Dec. 21 beatification of the late American archbishop, who was once a nationally known figure and Emmy-award winning pioneer of radio and television evangelization.

Statement on Fr.. Marin-Cardona by Bishop Caggiano of Bridgeport

Diocese of Bridgeport

December 6, 2019

By Bishop Frank J. Caggiano

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

I am writing to inform you that I have placed Reverend Jaime Marin-Cardona on Administrative Leave after being informed by state Department of Children and Families (DCF) that it has substantiated allegations of abuse after a lengthy investigation.

The Diocese of Bridgeport has fully cooperated with the investigation by DCF and with a parallel ongoing investigation underway by the Danbury Police Department.

The diocesan Sexual Misconduct Review Board has also met and accepted the determination of credibility reached by DCF. As a result, I have removed Father Marin-Cardona’s priestly faculties and prohibited him from engaging in public ministry.

Father Marin-Cardona has been a priest of the Diocese of Bridgeport since 2010, with assignments at Saint Joseph Parish in Norwalk, Saint Charles Borromeo Parish in Bridgeport, Our Lady of Guadalupe in Danbury and, most recently, at Saint Mary Parish in Bridgeport.

Child abuse allegations made against priest in Danbury, diocese says

Stamford Advocate

December 8, 2019

By Peter Yankowski

The Diocese of Bridgeport has stripped a reverend of his job following allegations of abuse made to the state and as part of a parallel “ongoing investigation” by Danbury police.

The Reverend Jaime Marin-Cardona has been removed from his priestly duties and is prohibited from “engaging in public ministry,” Bishop Frank J. Caggiano said in a statement Friday, after the clergy’s Sexual Misconduct Review Board learned the state found the accusations credible.

The allegations against Marin-Cardona came to light in September, after the diocese received a letter indicating that “parents were concerned by Father Marin-Cardona’s contact with a family member who is a minor,” the bishop said.

Without concrete reforms, victims skeptical of new Buffalo Diocese leader

Buffalo News

December 7, 2019

By Jay Tokasz

The news that Bishop Richard J. Malone resigned as leader of the Catholic Diocese of Buffalo, with Albany Bishop Edward B. Scharfenberger becoming the diocese's temporary administrator, meant almost nothing to John A. Polvino.

About 18 months ago, Polvino publicly accused the Rev. Donald W. Becker of molesting him in 1975 when he was 13. Polvino became a vocal critic of how diocese leaders handled abuse cases, but he was so infuriated by the situation that he stopped paying any attention to them.

“I’ve had to, for my own safe mental health,” he said. “The new guy, quite frankly, I wasn’t even interested enough to read about. I honestly don’t believe this is going to change anything, whether (Malone) is here or not.”

Sheen beatification delay an act of “sabotage,” Peoria official writes

Catholic News Agency

December 7, 2019

After the Diocese of Rochester last week confirmed it had requested that the beatification of Venerable Fulton Sheen be delayed, a longtime Peoria diocese official is accusing the Rochester diocese of repeatedly “sabotaging” Sheen’s sainthood cause.

“Under the veneer of the Rochester diocese’s call for caution, more than an overwhelming majority of people would conclude that it is an unexplainable act of sabotage — a sabotage that simply hurts the faithful,” Monsignor James Kruse, an official in the Diocese of Peoria involved in advancing Sheen’s cause, wrote in a lengthy Dec. 7 op-ed.

New lawsuit claims former Cardinal McCarrick abused boy in Hackensack

NorthJersey.com via Asbury Park Press

December 8, 2019

John Bellocchio was an altar boy at St. Francis of Assisi Roman Catholic Church in Hackensack when Cardinal Theodore McCarrick abused him during a visit to the parish, the businessman told reporters on Monday.

Bellocchio, a 14-year-old at the time, who had grown up in a devout Roman Catholic family, initially felt "honored" to be in the presence of the leader of the Newark Archdiocese, he said at a Newark news conference.

But then McCarrick, one of the most influential Catholic prelates in the U.S., assaulted him in the vestibule of the church, Bellocchio alleged in a lawsuit filed this weekend. Now 37, Bellocchio said he has suffered from anxiety ever since, including panic attacks that sometimes demand medical intervention.

His lawsuit was one of at least eight filed against the Newark Archdiocese or the neighboring Paterson Diocese as of Monday, the day after a new state law temporarily lifted New Jersey's statute of limitations on sex abuse complaints. Hundreds more are expected against the state's five Catholic dioceses, the Boy Scouts of America and other institutions long accused of covering up such cases.

December 7, 2019

Class-action lawsuit alleges sexual abuse by priests across Quebec

Montreal Gazette

December 5, 2019

By Damien Meyer

The suit names 26 FSC schools across Quebec and names 25 priests suspected of sexually assaulting children between the 1940s and 1980s

The Frères du Sacré-Cœur (FSC) will have to defend itself against a second class-action lawsuit in Quebec that claims its priests molested children in their care.

In a ruling published Thursday, Superior Court Judge Christian Immer wrote that claims of widespread abuse within the religious order were credible enough to warrant a class-action lawsuit. The suit names 26 FSC schools across Quebec and names 25 priests suspected of sexually assaulting children between the 1940s and 1980s.

One of the main plaintiffs — given the alias “F” in the lawsuit — claims that, as a teenager, he was repeatedly abused by Brother Léon Maurice Tremblay while attending an FSC summer camp. This would have taken place in 1978 or 1979.

Confessions of a collapsed devout Catholic and how Gay Byrne changed my world

Irish Central

December 6, 2019

By Jean Farrell

There has been much written about how influential broadcaster Gay Byrne was in changing attitudes here in Ireland.

Indeed he was, as were other factors in the 1960s and 70s. We forget how very different things were in the 1950s and in the preceding decades.

What brought this to mind are old prayer books I came across lately. They give a great insight into the type of religion that was taught in the past.

Former St. Louis area priest sues over inclusion on list of alleged abusers

Associated Press via Alton Telegraph

December 5, 2019

A former priest has sued the Archdiocese of St. Louis, alleging it libeled and slandered him by including him on a list of clerics credibly accused of abusing children.

Michael Toohey, 77, of Creve Coeur, claims in the lawsuit filed last month in St. Louis County Circuit Court that the archdiocese intentionally damaged his reputation, refused to provide more details of any allegation against him and denied his challenge of the claim, reports the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

At issue is a list the archdiocese released this summer that included the names of 63 men with substantiated allegations of sexual abuse of a minor. Twenty-six of those men, including Toohey, had never been named publicly as facing such allegations.

In an interview with the Post-Dispatch in September, Toohey denied sexually abusing anyone and said the archdiocese never told him he had been accused of sex abuse of a minor until the list was released. He said he and an attorney met with the archdiocese after the list was released but that church officials refused to discuss information about his case.

Toohey, who served as a priest at three St. Louis-area parishes from 1967 until 1970, has said that he left left the priesthood of his own volition in 1970 because he felt the church had become too permissive on issues including contraception and divorce. He later worked for trade groups in St. Louis, including the Home Builders Association of St. Louis, and in Georgia.

Statement of the Diocese of London regarding SNAP’s publication of a list of sexual abusers

Diocese of London

December 5, 2019

As a Diocese, we wish to express our utmost regret for the suffering that has been incurred as a result of clergy sexual abuse. As we review the list published by SNAP, we can confirm that it appears to be substantially correct. We cannot confirm its accuracy in its entirety. Certain cases, for instance, were resolved by the Religious Orders themselves. We can confirm, however, that there are four other priests against whom allegations involving minors have been made. None of the priests continues to work within the Diocese or elsewhere in the Church.

We are sorry for the pain that clergy sexual abuse has caused, and we are committed to vigilantly protecting those who are vulnerable, to supporting survivors, and to swiftly addressing allegations. Bishop Fabbro has met with many survivors and their families. As a result of lessons learned within these conversations, we believe that there is no one way for survivors to respond and to heal from abuse. Only survivors of abuse, therefore, have the right to determine whether to publicly disclose their stories or not. We work with survivors to respond to their individual needs.

As part of a commitment to supporting survivors and allowing them to determine whether or not to reveal information about their experiences, Bishop Fabbro waived confidentiality requirements from all settlements in our Diocese. That way, those who wish to tell their story may do so, and those who are concerned about being inadvertently identified can choose to remain protected by confidentiality.

London diocese apologizes for abuse by priests

Radio Canada International

December 6, 2019

By Terry Haig

The Roman Catholic Diocese in London, Ontario says a list of known pedophile priests published Wednesday by an abuse survivors group “appears to be essentially correct.”

In a written statement Thursday, the diocese issued an apology to victims and added the names of four priests not on the original list.

“We wish to express our utmost regret for the suffering that has been incurred as a result of clergy sexual abuse,” the diocese said.

The apology came after the diocese initially refused to confirm the names of 36 priests published by the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP), which said the abuse began 50 to 60 years ago.

The list included 20 priests who worked in the Windsor region, nine from the London area and others from towns across Southwestern Ontario, including Chatham and Sarnia.

Lawyer doesn't buy why London Diocese kept names of 4 priests secret


December 7, 2019

London Bishop claims survivors don't want priests named and fear revictimization

London, Ont. - A London lawyer says he has "a hard time stomaching" why the local diocese would keep the names of four priests facing sexual abuse allegations against minors a secret.

"The vast majority want the name of their perpetrator out there. They want to protect society. They want accountability," said Rob Talach, who has represented more 1,000 survivors of sexual abuse at the hands of the clergy in more than 400 court battles against the Catholic Church.

Talach's comments came on Friday, the same day London Bishop Ronald Fabbro appeared on CBC Radio One's London Morning.

Fabbro told host Rebecca Zandbergen that the list of 36 clergy members accused of sexual abuse published Wednesday by the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP) was "substantially correct."

Eight States Have “Look Back” Windows Allowing Survivors of Priest Sex Abuse to Seek Justice

Legal Examiner - Saunders and Walker

December 6, 2019

By Joseph H. Saunders

Five years ago, such a thing would have been unimaginable. I have been an abuse survivor advocate and attorney for the past twenty years and the rapid change in state laws and the public’s perception of childhood sexual abuse has forced the Catholic Church to offer compensation funds in all the dioceses of New York, some in Pennsylvania and California in order to stave off civil lawsuits.

New York was the first state this year to provide a “look back” window for a period of one year which ends August 15, 2020. The “look back” provision of the Child Victims Act allows all survivors to file a lawsuit against the offending institution such as the Catholic Church in spite of the statute of limitations. On December 1, 2019, New Jersey opened a “look back” period of two years while California will offer a three year “look back” beginning in January 2020. Vermont completely abolished the statute of limitations for childhood abuse cases.

In total, eight states have opened “look back” windows, which allow adult victims of sex abuse to come forward with allegations from their childhoods, even if they have passed the statute of limitations. Seven more states have significantly relaxed their statutes of limitations, allowing victims to come forward much later in life than previous laws had allowed.

Report: Other accused Rochester priests might be connected to Fulton Sheen

Rochester Democrat and Chronicle via Peoria Journal Star

December 6, 2019

By Steve Orr

The Rochester Catholic Diocese prompted a delay in the beatification of its former bishop, the Most Rev. Fulton J. Sheen, by raising questions with the Vatican about his administration of multiple priests who had been accused of misconduct.

The delay had nothing to do with any allegations of sexual abuse by Sheen himself — and nothing to do with the supposed animus that some claim the current leaders of the Rochester diocese harbor toward their late bishop.

Sheen, once a nationally known figure and Emmy-winner pioneer of radio and television evangelism, had been scheduled to be beatified by Pope Francis on Dec. 21. But the Vatican earlier this week said it was delaying the action, leading some to assert that current Rochester Bishop Salvatore Matano was behind the delay.

That assertion has some truth behind it, the diocese indicated to the Democrat and the Chronicle on Thursday: Matano and other bishops have argued that the church must investigate more fully to determine if Sheen helped cover up sexual abuse by priests in Rochester during his time here some 40 years ago.

Bishop of Cleveland, Cuyahoga County prosecutor speak out after Strongsville priest's arrest


December 6, 2019

By Tyler Carey and Mark Naymik


The Rev. Bob McWilliams is facing charges related to child pornography.

One day after the arrest of a priest in the diocese, Roman Catholic Bishop of Cleveland Nelson J. Perez has released a statement on the matter.

Perez, who is currently in Rome meeting with Pope Francis, called the accusations against the Rev. Bob McWilliams "devastating and heart-wrenching for the entire Catholic community in Northeast Ohio." The bishop also pledged to fully cooperate with investigators in the name of "the safety and well-being of our children."

"All of us feel tremendous emotions of shock, disappointment and confusion," Perez wrote. "I ask you to join me in prayerful solidarity for healing asking for God’s grace and guidance in this painful situation."

McWilliams was taken into custody Thursday after authorities searched St. Joseph Catholic Church in Strongsville. He has currently been booked on a charge of pandering obscenity related to an accusation of inappropriately texting a teenager in Newbury, and sources tell 3News that multiple images of child pornography were found at the St. Joseph rectory where McWilliams lives.

North Franklin Township man files sexual abuse lawsuit against Pittsburgh diocese


December 7, 2019

By Scott Beveridge


A North Franklin Township man Friday sued the Roman Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh seeking damages from alleged sexual abuse by a priest assigned to a Washington church in the 1970s.

The six-count lawsuit filed in Washington County Court of Common Pleas accuses the diocese of fraud and negligence for allowing the abuse by Thomas McKenna when he served at Immaculate Conception, court records show.

The victim’s attorney, Paul A. Tershel of Washington, said in court documents the injuries the victim suffered were “so severe that no reasonable person could be expected to tolerate them.”

The victim claims he was first sexually assaulted by the priest when he was around the ages of 11 or 12 between 1973 and 1975 when he was an altar boy and worked at the church cemetery, the court record indicates.

Lawsuit alleging sex abuse of altar boy is settled by Allentown Diocese

The Morning Call

December 6, 2019

By Emily Opilo

The Allentown Diocese has settled a lawsuit with an unnamed former altar boy who alleged he was sexually molested by a diocesan priest between the ages of 10 and 12.

The lawsuit, which was filed in 2018 and named as defendants the diocese, former Priest Bruno M. Tucci, former Bishop Edward Cullen, Bishop Alfred Schlert and Congregation of the Servants of the Paraclete, was settled last week, according to a motion to withdraw the suit filed in Lehigh County court.

The case was settled via mediation. The terms of the settlement were not outlined in the filing.

Matt Kerr, spokesman for the Allentown Diocese, said the terms of the deal will remain confidential at the request of the plaintiff. John Fioravanti Jr., attorney for the plaintiff, could not be reached for comment.

Man Says Ex-Woodbridge Priest Sexually Abused Him In '80s

The Patch

December 6, 2019

By Carly Baldwin

The man says Romano Ferraro molested him when he was 11. The priest worked at Our Lady of Mount Virgin, St. John Vianney and St. James.

A defrocked Catholic priest who is currently in prison for raping a 7-year-old boy has now been hit this week with yet a new lawsuit, by a New Jersey man accusing the priest of sexually molesting him multiple times when he was an altar boy in Middlesex borough.

The accused priest is Romano Ferraro, and the alleged abuse started in 1984, according to the lawsuit, which was obtained by Patch. At the time, Ferraro was stationed at both St. James in Woodbridge and St. John Vianney in Colonia, as well as at Our Lady of Mount Virgin in Middlesex borough.

The victim said he was 11 to 14 at the time, and was an altar boy at Our Lady of Mount Virgin.

The man who filed it is now 46 and still lives in New Jersey. He says that Ferraro started molesting him when he was about 11 years old. In the suit, he is identified only by his initials, B.D.S. He said he was raised in a devout Catholic family and he attended Our Lady of Mount Virgin School in Middlesex.

The List - Episode 2: The How


December 3, 2019

By Sarah Delia

[The first episode in this podcast was blogged previously in Abuse Tracker. See The List - Episode 1: The Who and the What. Also blogged previously were a conversation with the author, Sarah Delia, expert Tom Doyle, and the survivor "Anthony"; and an interview with Delia.]

In this episode of “The List,” we learn more about the child sexual abuse crisis in the Catholic Church and why dioceses across the country have been releasing lists of credibly accused clergy. We also learn more about the history of the Charlotte Diocese — which as of Dec. 1, 2019, still hadn’t released a list despite plans to do so by the end of the year. And we hear from a survivor of abuse at the hands of a former priest who once served in Charlotte — and the attorney who represented him in a lawsuit against the diocese.

The following includes descriptions about sexual violence. Please be advised.

SARAH DELIA: I told you I’ve been thinking a lot about lists. How do you decide what’s important to remember? And how do you decide what’s not? And when it comes to creating a list like the one the Charlotte Diocese has committed to release by the end of the year, one that includes the names of credibly accused clergy who at some point served at the Charlotte Diocese, how do you begin that process? How do you know when it’s complete?

TOM DOYLE: In our justice system, if you’re credibly accused of murder, people know about it. You know, your name is put in the newspaper. It’s not kept secret. The people in North Carolina have just as much a right as anybody else to know what priests who’ve been employed by that diocese have been known to have sexually violated children, minors or vulnerable adults.

DELIA: That’s Tom Doyle. Some describe him as one of the original whistleblowers of the child abuse scandal in the Catholic Church. Doyle is an expert in Catholic law and a former priest. He walked away from the Catholic Church and the priesthood about 15 years ago, largely in part because of the abuse and the coverup he saw.  

DOYLE: When the bishop assigns them to a parish as a pastor, as an assistant pastor, when he assigns them to work in a high school, he’s telling those people that this man is morally and spiritually fit for this position and you can trust him and you can count on the fact that he’s there for your spiritual and moral guidance.

DELIA: He’s dedicated the last 35 years of his career to helping hold the church accountable. He’s routinely used as a court expert in lawsuits. He also uses his skills in other ways. For example, the Capuchin Province of St. Joseph hired Doyle to audit personnel records. He dug through archives and documents to see what the organization’s response to sexual abuse accusations and inappropriate behavior was. The audit went all the way back to the 1880s. It was published in 2013. [A revised version of the report was published soon after.]

The List - Episode 3: The Why


December 4, 2019

By Sarah Delia

In this episode of “The List,” we learn about why survivors of abuse in the Catholic Church and proponents of accountability push for the release of lists of credibly accused clergy. We also hear some theories as to why certain people might push back against the release of such lists. And we hear from a local deacon about why he thinks the church should talk about the crisis openly. There’s another why we learn about, too — why some people in power abuse children in the first place.
The following includes descriptions about sexual violence. Please be advised.

SARAH DELIA: If you can remember something that happened to you, why is it important to have a written record? Why do you need other people to know? And why would you want them to? 

In the case of sexual abuse survivors who are waiting for the Charlotte Diocese to release a list of credibly accused clergy, it comes down to one word: acknowledgment.

ROBBY PRICE: One of the main things that we struggle with is feeling like this was an isolated incident, and we want to know that we’re validated, and we want to know that we’re heard. And, so, having a list that says, “OK, yes that man did something that he shouldn’t have done to me,“ it validates the survivors of sexual abuse to make them feel like they’re not the only one.

DELIA: That’s 35-year-old Robby Price. We heard his story in our last episode. Remember, when Price was 14 years old, he was sexually abused by Robert Yurgel, who served as a priest at St. Matthew in Charlotte. Price grew up in Charlotte and now lives in Florida. I reached him via Skype.

And Price has some theories as to why the list hasn’t been released yet. For one, he says, he believes there are more names on the list than the public realizes.

The List - Episode 4: The When


December 5, 2019

By Sarah Delia

In Episode 4 of “The List,” we explore what might happen when the Catholic Diocese of Charlotte releases a list of clergy members credibly accused of sexual misconduct and abuse. The diocese says it plans to release names by the end of 2019. We hear from an advocate with personal experience who’s there to listen to other survivors of abuse and from North Carolina’s attorney general. And we hear how the crisis has shaped survivors’ views on not just the Catholic Church but faith in general.

The following includes descriptions about sexual violence. Please be advised.

SARAH DELIA: When the independent investigative firm U.S. ISS Agency has completed its historical review of files of the Charlotte Diocese, what will its findings say? When the review board for the diocese has looked at all the facts and findings presented to them, what will its recommendations to Bishop Peter Jugis be? And when Bishop Jugis reviews those recommendations, what will the result look like?

When the list of credibly accused clergy is released, what and who will be on it, and will it be complete?

Survivors of sexual abuse at the hands of Catholic priests hope the end result will be a comprehensive list with their abuser’s name printed on it for all to see — to acknowledge what happened to them, but also to warn others. One of those survivors is Robby Price, who was sexually abused by Robert Yurgel in 1999. Yurgel was a priest at St. Matthew in Charlotte. Price spoke to me via Skype.

ROBBY PRICE: You need to help abuse survivors. You need to ensure that all those that you’re supposedly looking out for that are part of your flock in Charlotte are safe. Release the list.

December 6, 2019

Montreal church leaders ignored warnings about priest convicted of sex crimes

CBC News

Dec. 9, 2019

For more than two decades, parishioners repeatedly warned Montreal church leaders about the troubling behaviour of Brian Boucher, a priest who was given an eight-year prison sentence last March for sexually abusing two young boys.

A months-long investigation by CBC Montreal has revealed the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Montreal was told on multiple occasions that Boucher was divisive, bullying and had worrisome relationships with young boys.

But the archdiocese took little action against Boucher until a police investigation in 2015.

CBC spoke to nearly 50 parishioners, church staff and priests who oversaw Boucher’s work.

Many of the parishioners still have deep ties to the church and were reluctant to criticize it publicly. Others feared Boucher would track them down after his release.

For this reason, CBC has agreed not to reveal the identity of a number of its sources.

In these interviews, parishioners expressed frustration and dismay at how church leaders dealt with Boucher.

“They heard, but they didn’t listen,” said a parishioner at the last church where Boucher served before his arrest.

Some PA Survivors Can Climb Through Jersey's Open Window

Catholics 4 Change blog

Dec. 5, 2019

By Kathy Kane

When the two year window opened in New Jersey on December 1st for residents who had been previously time barred from filing lawsuits for the sexual abuse they suffered, it also allowed for some Pennsylvania survivors to file suit because their abuse occurred in the state of New Jersey

Two cases that were filed against the Archdiocese of Philadelphia involved abuse of minors who were taken to popular New Jersey shore destinations. The shore destinations are less than a two hour drive from Philadelphia and in decades past when sex abuse crimes perpetrated by clergy were not known to most parents, it was considered almost an honor for a kid to be chosen to take trip with a priest. What could be safer?

Whistleblowers key to exposing Buffalo church abuse cover-up

Whistleblowers blog

Dec. 6, 2019

By Tinker Ready

“I should really tackle that vacuum closet,” Siobhan O’Connor told herself when her boss, Buffalo Bishop Richard Malone, was out of town.

HIdden inside, she found a thick binder. It included documents from pending litigation charging priests with sexual assault. Many were still in their jobs. Last summer, she leaked the list to a local television station.

It took not one, but two whistleblowers to oust Malone, who resigned on Wednesday after evidence emerged that he was covering up for abusive priests.

O’Conner shared her story on NPR this morning.

I’ve been a Catholic all my life…I remember thinking that I was certain this was necessary. This truth had to come out for the good of our Catholic community. But I did struggle with the knowledge that I would be betraying my bishop.

She also knew her actions would impact her life.

But I remember thinking that, if I don’t do something, it will it change my life in a far graver way. I could never move past this if I were to be aware of this and walked away without doing something. I’m so grateful I did because I have had this lasting peace ever since then.

She has also shared her story with 60 Minutes.

Baltimore prelate calls narrative of tension between US bishops, pope bogus


Dec 6, 2019

By Inés San Martín

Having met with the pontiff for three hours Tuesday, Archbishop William Lori of Baltimore came away convinced the perception that Pope Francis doesn’t really like Americans very much is not only untrue, but that it’s being used both by the extreme right and left to sow division.

Lori is currently in Rome taking part in his ad limina visit, an every-five-year pilgrimage by bishops from around the world to the Eternal City where they encounter the pontiff and visit different Vatican departments.

Jesuits Blatantly Disregard Wishes of the Father of a Deceased Jesuit

Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests

Dec. 6, 2019

In 2012, the California Jesuit Province agreed to remove the name of one of their deceased brothers – who had allegedly been sexually abused by a fellow Jesuit – from a headstone per the request of the decedent's father. Now, that same province has quietly added a similar headstone, blatantly disregarding the family's wishes.

Fr. James Chevedden passed away in 2004 after working as a Jesuit for more than 37-years. He served overseas for 22-years before returning to the U.S., and was sent to live in the Jesuit Center in Los Gatos, CA. While he was living there, Fr. James was allegedly sexually assaulted by another member of the Order. When the attack was reported, Jesuit officials did nothing and Fr. James was forced to continue living alongside the man who had assaulted him.

After Fr. James later died under contested circumstances in California, his father decided that he did not want him to be memorialized by the Jesuits, due to their poor treatment of his son and their insensitivity to the assault he had suffered. He also filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the Order.

The Jesuits paid $1.6 million to the father of Fr. James as a result of the suit, but they also put his name on a headstone in Santa Clara Mission Cemetery, although Fr. James was interred elsewhere. To add insult to injury, the memorial also bore the name of Fr. Eugene Colosimo, an accused perpetrator of sexual abuse.

Frères du Sacré-Cœur: Second sex assault class-action lawsuit authorized

Canadian Press

Dec. 6, 2019

Quebec’s Superior Court has authorized a second class-action lawsuit against the Frères du Sacré-Cœur on behalf of all victims who claim they were sexually assaulted by a member of the religious order.

The lawsuit was granted this week by Superior Court Judge Christian Immer in a 22-page judgment. The application was first submitted to the courts last winter.

The class action alleges that sexual assaults were perpetrated for decades, across several institutions in Quebec, by 25 religious members of the Frères du Sacré-Cœur.

There are 26 institutions listed, most notably in Montreal, the Montérégie region, Quebec City, Bois-Francs, the Eastern Townships, Charlevoix, Bas-Saint-Laurent and Gaspésie.

Montreal law firm Kugler Kandestin, which represents the alleged victims, said it will claim compensatory damages for each of them, as well as punitive damages to the amount of $15 million.

Court reserves decision in Father MacKenzie extradition review

Leader Post

Dec. 4, 2019

By Heather Polischuk

The Saskatchewan Court of Appeal has reserved its decision in an extradition case involving a Catholic priest facing physical and sexual abuse charges in Scotland.

Now 87, Father Robert MacKenzie used a walker to get into and out of court on Wednesday, when his lawyer Alan McIntyre and the lawyer for the federal government made representations on an application for judicial review of a government-issued surrender order under the Extradition Act. Details of evidence and submissions heard in court can’t be reported because of a court-imposed publication ban.

As is usual for the Court of Appeal, a date for the return of its decision has not been set.

According to previously reported information, MacKenzie faces allegations spanning 30 years — between the 1950s and 1980s — when he served as a Benedictine monk at two boys’ boarding schools.

McIntyre previously stated MacKenzie, “categorically denies now, and he has denied under oath to the minister of justice, that he was involved in any sexual impropriety.”

It's too soon to beatify Archbishop Sheen anyway

National Catholic Reporter

Dec. 6, 2019

By Michael Sean Winters

The decision to postpone the beatification of Archbishop Fulton Sheen provoked outrage on Twitter where, admittedly, outrage is often the coin of the realm. But the postponement raises deeper issues about whom and how we as a church canonize, and what criteria we seek in doing so.

The postponement came after several U.S. bishops asked the Holy See to delay the proceeding because there was fear that, as New York lifted its statute of limitations on the crime of sexual abuse, a flood of new accusations is pouring forth. The statement from the Diocese of Peoria, Illinois, expressed the concern succinctly: "In our current climate it is important for the faithful to know that there has never been, nor is there now, any allegation against [Archbishop] Sheen involving the abuse of a minor." The concern is not only that there may be an accusation against Sheen for misconduct, but also that, as he was an ordinary in the late 1960s, there might be an allegation of one of the Rochester priests that Sheen might have covered up. Already, a 2007 lawsuit alleged that Sheen had covered up a case of sex abuse he stumbled upon when he was an auxiliary bishop of New York.

Sheen served his entire episcopal career in New York State. Not only is the Catholic Church in the Empire State on the hot seat due to the lifting of the statute of limitations, but the very public meltdown of the career of Bishop Richard Malone in Buffalo has kept the issue of bishop accountability on the front burner. If that were not enough, the bishop sent to conduct an apostolic visitation of the diocese of Buffalo, Brooklyn's Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio, also was alleged to have abused a minor when he was a priest in Newark, New Jersey. DiMarzio denies the allegation. Malone's letter announcing his "early retirement" should become a classroom example of failing to take responsibility for one's own failures.

Against this backdrop, it is a no-brainer to delay the planned beatification ceremony. But the Holy Father should use this moment to do more than move the date back a few months. I hope they will postpone the event indefinitely.

Bishops take new actions to hold themselves accountable for abuse in 2019

Catholic News Service

Dec. 6, 2019

The clergy sexual abuse crisis continued to command a large amount of attention and action from the U.S. bishops throughout 2019.

The year was headlined by actions during the bishops’ spring general assembly during which they approved a plan to implement Pope Francis’ “motu proprio” on addressing abuse.

The pope issued his document, “Vos Estis Lux Mundi” (“You are the light of the world”), in May to help the Catholic Church safeguard its members from abuse and hold its leaders accountable.

The “motu proprio” was one of the measures that came out of a February Vatican summit on clergy sexual abuse attended by the presidents of the world’s bishops’ conferences.

The U.S. bishops’ implementation plan passed 281-1 with two abstentions.

Religious volunteer convicted for groping jail inmate during prayer session

Ann Arbor News

Dec. 6, 2019

By Nathan Clark

A religious volunteer at the Washtenaw County Jail has been found guilty of inappropriately touching inmates during prayer sessions.

After a four-day trial, a jury found Robert Roleke guilty Thursday, Dec. 5, of two counts of fourth-degree criminal sexual conduct through force or coercion, court records show.

Roleke, 82, of Whitmore Lake, was charged in 2018, six years after an inmate told officers Roleke grabbed his genitals during a “fake” prayer session in 2012, records show.

Roleke has maintained his innocence throughout the case, and his attorney, James Fifelski, questioned the motivation of the inmate, citing his criminal history and drug use.

Fifelski also stated there could be anti-religious sentiment in the case, due to an onslaught of sexual assault charges against Catholic priests in recent years.

Did Italian Priest Father 2 African Sons, And Walk Away?

Associated Press

Dec. 6, 2019

Steven Lacchin grew up a fatherless boy, but he knew some very basic facts about the man who was his father.

He knew Lacchin, the name on his Kenyan birth certificate, was his dad's name. He knew that Mario Lacchin abandoned him and his mother.

When he was oder, he learned that his father was an Italian missionary priest - and that in leaving, he had chosen the church over his child.

What he did not know is that less than 10 kilometers (6 miles) away, another man was on a quest to prove that Mario Lacchin was his father, too.

These two men would find each other thanks to an Associated Press story that appeared on the front page of Kenya's main newspaper. All agreed that they bore a marked resemblance, but they underwent genetic testing to be certain.

Were they indeed half-brothers, sons of the same Father?

The Vatican only publicly admitted this year that it had a problem: Priests were fathering children. And it only acknowledged the problem by revealing that it had crafted internal guidelines to deal with it.

Advocates for clergy abuse victims praise Albany bishop

Buffalo News

Dec. 5, 2019

By Lou Michel

Albany Bishop Edward B. Scharfenberger has listened to clergy sexual abuse survivors in that Catholic diocese and is capable of promoting healing in the Buffalo Diocese, according to two Albany area advocates for the victims.

Scharfenberger was appointed the temporary administrator of the Buffalo Diocese by Pope Francis on Wednesday, the same day Buffalo Bishop Richard J. Malone retired early after facing intense criticism over his handling of the clergy abuse scandal here.

"He has done a lot of work toward transparency," said Nancy Fratianni, leader of the Albany chapter of the Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests, known as SNAP. "We believe he can bring about healing in the Buffalo Diocese through promoting transparency, turning over all records of abuse to the police and keeping the public informed of all issues, more than Bishop Malone was."

"I have nothing negative to say about him as far as that goes," Fratianni said of Scharfenberger.

In 2018, Scharfenberger won her respect when he called for creation of a commission of lay people to investigate bishops accused of sexual misconduct. Bishops investigating accused bishops was not the answer, he said.

“That was very brave of Bishop Scharfenberger to say that,” Fratianni said.

SNAP SW Ontario Releases List of Credibly Accused Priests

Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests

Dec. 5, 2019

The following individuals were Roman Catholic priests who were either incardinated priests of the Roman Catholic Diocese of London (Ontario) or committed the offences noted while serving within the geographical and ecclesiastical jurisdiction of the Diocese of London.

If the individual belonged to another Religious Order of Diocese at the time, it is noted in parentheses. These 36 individuals were criminally convicted, and/or criminally charged by more than one complainant and/or sued in a civil lawsuit which resolved for more than $50,000. These categories are the basis of their “credibly accused” status. The time period of offences contained within this list is 1952 to 2005, being a period of 54 years inclusive. The events take place in numerous communities throughout the Diocese of London and in some cases also elsewhere. The individuals in this List are limited to those who offended with young people, being minor males or females, under the age of 18. Members on this list are both deceased and living, with a ꝉ symbol noting those who are now deceased.

Diocese of Peoria Delays former Archbishop’s Beatification Due to Secular Clergy Abuse Investigations

Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests

Dec. 5, 2019

Church officials in Peoria have chosen to delay the beatification of a former Archbishop until law enforcement in NY completes their investigation into clergy sex abuse.

We applaud the move to delay the beatification of former Rochester Archbishop Fulton Sheen. Hundreds of lawsuits are being filed in New York and at least two government offices – one in New York and another in Illinois – are investigating Catholic officials in states where Archbishop Sheen spent time.

Given the revelations that have come out through these secular investigations, it makes sense to delay this beatification instead of risking that another prematurely praised Catholic figure is later exposed to be complicit in clergy sex crimes and cover ups. As there are already questions about whether or not Archbishop Sheen reassigned a cleric accused of sexual misconduct, this decision is sensible and can help from further hurting abuse survivors.

Former Delbarton teacher and priest at center of 10 sex abuse settlements dies in Missouri

Bergen Record

Dec. 6, 2019

By Abbott Koloff

Timothy Brennan, a former Delbarton School teacher and priest who has been the subject of at least 10 sex abuse settlements, died Wednesday at a Missouri treatment center for clerics, where he had been living for years, according to authorities.

Police responded to a call Wednesday morning about a "deceased person" at the center, which is in the community of Dittmer in the eastern part of the state, said Capt. Charles Subke of the Franklin County Sheriff's Office.

Brennan, 79, died of "natural causes," he said.

The priest was sentenced to probation in 1987 after pleading guilty to aggravated sexual contact with a 15-year-old Delbarton student. St. Mary's Abbey and the Order of St. Benedict in New Jersey, which runs the Morris Township school, paid more than $1 million to settle a claim by the student's family.

Over the past few years, the order has settled nine lawsuits related to additional claims against Brennan, according to court records. Details of the settlements have not been disclosed.

New accuser files lawsuit alleging sexual abuse by defrocked Metuchen Diocese priest

Courier News

Dec. 6, 2019

ByNic k Muscavage

A former Metuchen Diocese priest who’s serving a life sentence in a Massachusetts prison for sex crimes against a child has been sued by a man who claims the priest sexually abused him when he was about 11 years old.

The lawsuit, filed on Monday in Superior Court in Middlesex County, details allegations against the now-defrocked Romano Ferraro while he was a priest at Our Lady of Mount Virgin in Middlesex and St. John Vianney in the Colonia section of Woodbridge.

In his lawsuit, the plaintiff, who lives in New Jersey and is identified only by his initials B.D.S., said he was raised in a devout Catholic family and attended Our Lady of Mount Virgin School.

He recalls Ferraro was brought to the school around 1984 or 1985 when B.D.S. was 11 or 12 years old. He was introduced to Ferraro by the priest of Our Lady of Mount Virgin, according to the lawsuit. Ferraro "took an interest" in B.D.S. and "gave him special treatment."

Ferraro "groomed" B.D.S.'s family "to gain their trust," according to the lawsuit. B.D.S. remembers Ferraro appearing at his family's door around this time with snacks and staying into the evening to watch television and socialize with his family.

Man files lawsuit against Stockton diocese accusing late priest of sexual abuse


December 5, 2019

A civil lawsuit has been filed against the Diocese of Stockton and the Franciscan Order on behalf of an unidentified Northern California man who claims to have been sexually molested decades ago by a priest who once worked for the diocese.

The suit filed Wednesday in San Joaquin County Superior Court by attorney Joseph C. George of Sacramento claims that in 1979, the Rev. Ferdinand Villalobos sexually molested the then-16-year-old plaintiff at his residence while he was at St. Mary of the Assumption Church in downtown Stockton and at a church retreat in San Juan Bautista.

Villalobos was at St. Mary’s Church from 1979-80 and was the Episcopal Vicar for Hispanics for the Diocese of Stockton from 1980-85. Villalobos died in 1985.

The Diocese of Stockton reserved comment until it collects more information.

Villalobos was named on two Catholic Church credibly accused abusive clerics lists: one published by the Stockton diocese in 2014 and another by the Santa Barbara Province Franciscans in May 2019.

In 2003, a man who said he was molested by Villalobos between 1980 and 1983 when he was 12 to 15 years old sued the diocese and its former leader, now-retired Cardinal Roger Mahony. The suit claimed Mahony and others in the Stockton diocese engaged in a pattern of conspiracy to cover up the sexual abuse of children by clergy, violating federal anti-racketeering laws.

December 5, 2019

‘No longer hiding’: Man files lawsuit against Archdiocese of San Francisco, alleging abuse


Dec. 5, 2019

By Dan Kerman

“I’m now longer hiding anymore, that’s over,” said Genaro Licea

For the first time the 52-year-old is revealing his identity and is now suing the Archdiocese of San Francisco for knowing about his abuse at the hands of Father John Kavanaugh and doing nothing about it, even though he reported it at the time

“The nuns covered it up, when I was a child and reported it I told them what he was doing to me and they sent me back to class and made me feel like I was at fault,” Licea said.

The lawsuit alleges that for a two year period beginning at the age of 9, Kavanaugh would call him out of class and sexually abuse him in the St. Finn Bar School rectory.

To make matters worse, in 2004 Licea says he reported it again to catholic officials in San Francisco but Kavanaugh, who’s now dead, was never reported to police and went on to work at St. Patrick’s in San Francisco, Serra High School, and Our Lady of Mount Carmel in Redwood City

“Many shrinks believe you can’t deter sick adults from preying on kids, but what you can do is deter their colleagues and supervisors from hiding it and that’s why this lawsuit can help do,” said David Clohessy, former head of the Survivor’s Network.

Anti-Gay Bishop Who Covered Up Child Sex Abuse Finally Resigns

Patheos blog

Dec. 5, 2019

By David Gee

A Catholic bishop with an anti-gay history has resigned from his post following several controversies involving him covering up for priests who were credibly abused of sexually abusing young children.

Bishop Richard J. Malone, who raised money through the Church to fight against same-sex marriage laws in 2009, got into trouble last year when he released a list of abusive priests that included 42 names. That’s because the actual went as high as 324, according to some reports.

A year later, in September, someone leaked a recording of Malone talking about how he wasn’t going to act on harassment involving another priest, whom he called a “sick puppy.” It’s a pretty troubling pattern.

All that scandal finally resulted in his resignation, as noted by the New York Times.

On Wednesday, after months of pressure from priests and lay leaders, the Vatican said in a statement that it had accepted the resignation of Bishop Malone, effective immediately. Since the Vatican did not specify the reasons behind the resignation, it was unclear whether Bishop Malone had been forced to quit.

Bishop Malone, in a statement, described his resignation as an early retirement that had been accepted by Pope Francis. He said he had made the decision to step down “freely and voluntarily” after being made aware of the conclusions of a recent Vatican investigation into the crisis in his diocese, which has been in turmoil over his handling of clergy abuse cases.

Former Quincy priest who raped altar boy to remain on probation

Patriot Ledger

Dec. 5, 2019

A former Catholic priest convicted of raping a Waltham altar boy will remain on probation after a judge denied his request to have his sentence cut short.

Robert Gale, a 78-year-old registered sex offender who was assistant pastor at St. Joseph’s Church in Quincy in the 1970s, had asked the court to release him early from a 25-year probation stemming from his 2004 guilty pleas on four counts of child rape. Gale had also been sentenced to 4 to 5 years in state prison. He was released from the Massachusetts Treatment Center for the Sexually Dangerous in May 2009.

Superior Court Judge Beverly Cannone denied his request after hearing Thursday from Gale and the former altar boy he abused, saying it was too soon for Gale to be relieved of his sentence.

The former altar boy, Marty Crowley, testified that no sentence could be long enough for what Gale did to him. Crowley said he celebrated when Gale pleaded guilty in 2004 because it meant his abuser would pay for his crimes, spending 25 years on probation and 4 to 5 years in prison. He thought the guilty plea would bring closure.

Strongsville Catholic priest arrested on child porn charges

Cleveland Plain Dealer

Dec. 5, 2019

By Adam Ferrise

Investigators took St. Joseph Catholic Church Rev. Robert McWilliams into custody Thursday at the church. He is charged with four counts of possessing child pornography and one count of possessing criminal tools.

The criminal complaint was filed in Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court. McWilliams, 39, is being held in the Cuyahoga County Jail on $100,000 bond. He is expected to make his first court appearance on Monday.

Ohio Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force members raided McWilliams’ living space and office Thursday at St. Joseph Church, according to a statement from the Cleveland Catholic Diocese. The diocese said the officers were searching for “possible crimes committed in Geauga County.

Child abuse victim: Paedophile priests gave kids ‘brutal beatings’

Evening Express

Dec. 5, 2019

A child abuse victim who was sent to Australia from Aberdeen believing he was an orphan has told of sexual abuse and “brutal beatings” at the hands of paedophile priests.

The Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry witness, known as Harry, left care in Aberdeen and sailed to Australia in the 1950s, growing up in two orphanages where the boys were subjected to public floggings and years of sexual abuse.

Harry told the hearing, chaired by Lady Smith, about his experience in the care of Christian Brothers and how he was forced to perform sex acts by three of the men in the boys’ dormitory.

Speaking via video link from Australia, the 75-year-old witness said the sexual abuse at Clontarf in Western Australia lasted “four or five years, on and off”, with the threat of punishment if he did not go along with it.

Recalling the abusive Christian Brothers, he said they should have been “shot and hung”.

“If you in Scotland knew what happened in Australia, you would have started a Third World War,” he said.

N.J. man told Pope that McCarrick sexually abused him for years, lawsuit says

NJ Advance Media for NJ.com

December 5, 2019

By Joe Atmonavage

Disgraced Cardinal Theodore McCarrick sexually abused a New Jersey child for 20 years into adulthood, even after that the victim personally told Pope John Paul II during a visit to the Vatican about the abuse, according to a lawsuit filed Wednesday.

It is the second complaint filed against McCarrick in the last week under a new law that gives more time to people to sue their alleged abusers and the institutions who protected them.

Both lawsuits include allegations of sexual abuse and claim that church officials were aware of McCarrick’s alleged misconduct.

According to the lawsuit filed Wednesday in Esssex County Superior Court, McCarrick began sexually abusing 11-year-old James Christopher Grein in 1969 when McCarrick was a priest in the Archdiocese of New York. (Grein filed a lawsuit last year against the Archdiocese of New York, alleging they were negligent in their supervision of McCarrick.)

As McCarrick moved to New Jersey and became the the bishop of Metuchen in 1981, he continued to allegedly engage in “unlawful sexual contact” with Grein, who was then an adult, in the rectory of St. Francis of Assisi Cathedral in Metuchen from 1982 to 1986, according to the lawsuit.

Diocese of Rochester confirms it requested Fulton Sheen beatification delay

Catholic News Agency

December 5, 2019

By JD Flynn and Ed Condon

The Diocese of Rochester confirmed on Thursday that it had requested a delay of the beatification of Archbishop Fulton Sheen, which had been scheduled for Dec. 21 until it was postponed indefinitely earlier this week.

But an official in the Diocese of Peoria said the Rochester diocese has not disclosed all of its interventions to delay the beatification.

“A person’s cause for beatification must entail a review of the person’s entire life. In this regard, the Diocese of Rochester has considered the tenure of Archbishop Sheen as the Bishop of Rochester,” the diocese said in a statement Dec. 5.

Former Cardinal McCarrick Sued for Sex Abuse

The Wall Street Journal

December 5, 2019

Defrocked priest accused in two suits since New Jersey’s new law went into effect

Two men have filed lawsuits accusing former Cardinal Theodore McCarrick of sexual abuse since a New Jersey law went into effect that gives people a new opportunity to sue their alleged assailants.

James Grein of Sterling, Va., filed a lawsuit in New Jersey state court late Wednesday, claiming Mr. McCarrick repeatedly sexually abused him from 1969, when he was 11 years old, to 1989. During that time period, Mr. McCarrick served as bishop of the Diocese of Metuchen and as archbishop of the Archdiocese of Newark.

Mr. Grein said Mr. McCarrick baptized him in 1958 and established a close relationship with his family that lasted decades. The abuse took place in the state of New Jersey and other states, he said.

“He disgraces Jesus Christ,” Mr. Grein said at a news conference Thursday. “He is not my pathway to Jesus Christ.”

An attorney for Mr. McCarrick declined to comment.

Mr. McCarrick was dismissed from the priesthood in February after being found guilty by the Vatican of sexual abuse of minors and sexual misconduct with adults, becoming the first-ever U.S. cardinal to be defrocked. He previously resigned from the College of Cardinals in 2018.

Lawsuit: McCarrick victim told pope of sex abuse in 1988

Associated Press

December 5, 2019

By David Porter

A man claims in a lawsuit filed under a recently enacted New Jersey law that he told Pope John Paul II in 1988 about being sexually abused as a child by the priest who would become Cardinal Theodore McCarrick but that the Vatican did nothing — claims he also made in a lawsuit this summer in New York.

James Grein alleged Thursday that McCarrick, a family friend, abused him for two decades starting when he was 11 in the late 1960s when McCarrick was serving in New Jersey. Some of the abuse allegedly occurred on trips he took with McCarrick to other U.S. states and to the Vatican.

On a trip to Rome, Grein alleges, he waited until McCarrick was out of the room to tell the pope — in the presence of other Vatican officials — about the abuse. The Vatican took no action, Grein says.

McCarrick, who is 89, was defrocked in February after a church investigation concluded he had committed acts against children and adults.

Grein’s suit is the second filed against McCarrick in New Jersey since the state’s two-year window for filing previously time-barred sex abuse lawsuits went into effect Sunday.

The suit names the Diocese of Metuchen and the Archdiocese of Newark as defendants, alleging gross negligence. It also accuses McCarrick of assault, battery and infliction of emotional distress, and seeks unspecified damages.

A spokeswoman for the Archdiocese of Newark said in an email that it is reviewing the lawsuit and that it will “continue to do all we can to promote the healing of victims, to enact structures of accountability, and to provide greater transparency into the activities of the Archdiocese of Newark.”

Barry Coburn, an attorney for McCarrick, said in an email Thursday that he would be unable to comment until he learned more about the case. In the past, McCarrick has denied Grein’s allegations.

The New York lawsuit, filed in August, named the Archdiocese of New York but not McCarrick directly.

Attorney Mitchell Garabedian said Thursday he was seeking to add the Vatican as a defendant. The Vatican had no immediate comment, but the current pope, Francis, has urged abuse victims to come forward and said abusive clerics should turn themselves in.

OPINION: As New Jersey acts, Pennsylvania continues to fail our state’s victims of priests’ sexual abuse

The Philadelphia Inquirer

December 4, 2019

By Mike Newall

You couldn’t call it a happy day in New Jersey. But it was a long-awaited one.

On Monday, victims of past sexual abuse by priests began to file civil lawsuits against the Catholic Church — suits long barred by the statute of limitations.

Fifty lawsuits, the first wave of what are expected to be hundreds during a two-year window in which any victims of sexual abuse can file civil claims against their abusers, regardless of when the abuse happened. The window is one advocates fought hard to pry open. And one the church and its insurance agencies have long tried to hold shut.

A chance at some measure of justice, finally.

Buffalo Diocese faces its shame because Michael Whalen let his voice be heard

The Buffalo News

December 4, 2019

By Sean Kirst

Michael Whalen was getting ready to go to a Buffalo Sabres game Monday when his phone started buzzing. A friend and ally, Siobhan O'Connor, told him of an impending shakeup in the Diocese of Buffalo unlike anything this community had seen before.

After more than a year of rejecting calls for his resignation, Bishop Richard Malone would take early retirement, a decision confirmed Wednesday by the Vatican.

For a moment, Whalen, 54, felt the whole thing wash across him. His account of childhood abuse by a priest, finally spoken out loud not quite two years ago, touched off shock waves still buffeting the diocese.

He describes himself as an everyday guy from South Buffalo, with all of this happening at a moment when Whalen and his wife, Maria, feel particularly grateful. While Whalen does not attend Mass, he still considers himself Catholic, and he said his blessing for this Advent season is a new granddaughter, Jasmine. Born seven weeks early at 3.6 pounds, she is now a smiling infant of more than twice that weight.

Man sues Catholic archdiocese over child sexual abuse by priest in SF


Dec. 5, 2019

By Laura Waxmann

A survivor of child sexual abuse by a former priest at St. Finn Barr School is suing the Archdiocese of San Francisco in an effort to force the release of a long-promised list of names of clergy accused of sexual misconduct.

The lawsuit, filed by now 53-year-old Genaro Licea in San Francisco Superior Court on November 27, is also seeking damages for negligent supervision of a minor, among other things.

Standing on a sidewalk outside of The City’s archdiocese headquarters on Thursday, Licea said he was molested for a three-year period starting at age 7 by a now-deceased former priest at St. Finn Barr, Father John Kavanaugh. He decided to come forward to “speak out for those who cannot speak out for themselves right now.”

“I have been struggling with this for a long time. And I don’t want to be hidden anymore,” said Licea. “I want to make sure that my molester is on that list. They should release the list. They should not be hiding it.”

Licea alleges that two nuns and his teacher, to whom he reported Kavanaugh’s misconduct while he was still a student at the school, failed to intervene.

“That church protected him and left me out,” said Licea, adding that there are likely many others who have survived Kavanaugh’s abuse but have yet to step forward.

Licea’s attorney, Joseph George of the Law Offices of Joseph C. George, PH.D., said that apart from monetary compensation for Licea, the lawsuit is seeking to uncover evidence of additional misconduct and subsequent cover up by church officials, as well as a list of names of “credibly accused perpetrators” within the Archdiocese of San Francisco.

The San Francisco Examiner reported previously that the Archdiocese of San Francisco is named in a separate lawsuit that could force church officials to release the names of alleged abusers and provide documents on clerical offenders.

'It's overwhelming': Survivors create public list of Catholic clerics accused of sexual abuse

CBC News

Dec. 5, 2019

By Laura Clementson and Gillian Findlay ·

Starting at the age of 10, Miriam MacCormack says she was sexually abused by a Catholic priest for two years.

After five decades of struggle — including suicide attempts — MacCormack will see her abuser's name made public. But not by the southwestern Ontario diocese of London, where the abuse occurred.

MacCormack's abuser, Father Ron Reeves, now dead, is among the names of 36 accused clergy compiled and published by a group of sexual abuse survivors.

MacCormack said the list is important as validation of what happened to her.

"If you sit down and you look at the list, it's hard to deny that this has happened."

The list includes names of priests in the London diocese who were charged, convicted or linked to victims that made allegations and successfully sued or settled with the church for amounts of more than $50,000 — and only those who preyed on minors.

Rochester bishop requested Fulton Sheen beatification delay

Catholic News Agency

Dec. 5, 2019

By JD Flynn and Ed Condon

The beatification of Archbishop Fulton Sheen was delayed at the request of Bishop Salvatore Matano of Rochester, an official in the Peoria diocese and other Church officials have confirmed.

“They did not agree with the fact the beatification date was set and announced and asked the further consideration be done,” Msgr. James Kruse, Director of Canonical Affairs in the Diocese of Peoria, told CNA Dec. 4.

Kruse is also a member of the Sheen Foundation, and has worked for years on Sheen's cause for canonization.

Several other sources close to the beatification also told CNA that Matano requested the beatification be delayed.

Former priest sues Archdiocese for naming him on list of alleged abusers


Dec. 5, 2019

By Nassim Benchaabane

A former priest has sued the Archdiocese of St. Louis for libel, claiming church officials falsely said he was credibly accused of sexually abusing a minor.

In a lawsuit filed Nov. 3 in St. Louis County Circuit Court, Michael W. Toohey, 77, of Creve Coeur accused the archdiocese of intentionally damaging his reputation by falsely naming him as an alleged abuser, refusing to provide more details of any allegation against him and denying his challenge of the claim.

Toohey, who served as a priest at three St. Louis-area parishes from 1967 until 1970, is one of 63 men the archdiocese, in July and August, said have substantiated allegations against them of sexual abuse of a minor. He is one of 26 men — seven still living — against whom allegations were never before publicly revealed.

The archdiocese has declined to release more details about the cases or the clergy’s parish assignments, citing concerns about the alleged victims’ privacy and the impact on the faith community, but it maintains on its website a list of the accused clergy as well as the names of three former clergy who had possessed child pornography.

Bransfield: Abuse allegation worth another investigation

News and Sentinel

Dec. 4, 2019

A man’s allegation he was sexually molested as a child by former Roman Catholic bishop Michael Bransfield should be investigated again, by both church and law enforcement authorities.

Bransfield, who headed the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston for 13 years, dismisses the story as coming from “a wack job.” Church officials point out it was investigated twice previously. Evidence to support the allegation was lacking, they say.

But one fact argues strongly in favor of taking another look into the matter: Bransfield got away with so much, for so long, while he was bishop. Is the old child sex abuse accusation part of his record?

A Washington Post story lays out the new/old accusation. It stems from Bransfield’s time as chaplain at Lansdale Catholic High School, in Philadelphia, during the 1970s.

In 2007, a former student called church authorities, telling them that Bransfield on several occasions touched him inappropriately. A spokesman for the Archdiocese of Philadelphia told the Post, “I can say with certainty that this matter was not only investigated internally. It was reviewed by law enforcement on two occasions and no criminal charges were filed.”

Church officials dismissed the complaint because of inconsistencies in the man’s story. The former student said law enforcement investigations were hindered and ultimately dropped because he could not be guaranteed his identity would be kept secret. The first church investigation concluded in 2009, in a report that was kept confidential. It was looked into a second time in 2012, with similar results.

December 4, 2019

How to move forward after the resignation of Buffalo’s Bishop Malone


Dec. 4, 2019

By John J. Hurley

The resignation of Bishop Richard J. Malone of Buffalo has been greeted with a mix of emotions. There is sadness, of course, at the events that have brought the venerable Diocese of Buffalo to this place: reports of clergy sex abuse long covered up by the diocese, the mishandling of current cases of abuse and misconduct by Bishop Malone and the realization that this is the first time in the 172-year history of the diocese that a bishop has been pressured to leave office.

There is unresolved anger as well, among victims whose reports of sex abuse were ignored or handled poorly and now find themselves as plaintiffs in lawsuits with a long road ahead; Catholics who have made Bishop Malone the lightning rod for everything that has happened; priests who have felt alienated from the chancery and their bishop; and Catholics who have watched parish life around them disintegrate as people have marched out the door in response to the scandal.

Editorial: A welcome transition for the Buffalo Diocese

Buffalo News

Dec. 4, 2019

The resignation of Bishop Richard J. Malone gives the Catholic Diocese of Buffalo a chance to move forward from the sexual abuse scandal that has tarnished the church here for months.

Malone’s retirement is not the end of the story, but a beginning. There is a long way to go in winning back the trust of Western New York Catholics who lost faith in an institution that was interwoven into many of their lives.

The diocese’s new interim leader, Albany Bishop Edward Scharfenberger, gave every indication Wednesday that he can play an important role in the healing and reconciliation that must take place.

“We are all family,” Scharfenberger said at his introductory news conference. “The survivors of sexual abuse are our family. I want everyone to know that they will be treated with respect. … I’ll meet with any and all survivors.”

Former Bishop of Portland Diocese steps down in NY, accused of shielding pedophile priests


Dec. 4, 2019

A former Bishop of the Portland Diocese, accused of shielding predator pedophile priests, has stepped down from his post in New York.

Bishop Richard Malone is currently under a criminal investigation in Buffalo for allegedly diverting charitable donations into a fund for bishops.

Paul Kendrick is a graduate of Cheverus High School who co-founded a group to help Maine victims molested by pedophile priests.

He says more than a decade ago, his group asked then-Portland Bishop Richard Malone to post the names of priests credibly accused of abuse, and to embrace victims with compassion and get them the help they need.

But instead, he says Bishop Malone did just the opposite.

"Bishop Malone just treated the mother of one of the victims in such a horrible way that advocates demonstrated against him all the way from Boston," Kendrick said.

Kendrick says they've urged the Maine Attorney General to open investigation of the Portland Diocese, like the one now being conducted in Buffalo that led to Bishop Malone's resignation.

"This is a $50-million-a-year organization that has been hiding felony sex crimes against children for years," Kendrick said.

Whistleblower slams early retirement for N.Y. bishop accused of sex abuse cover-up

CBC Radio

Dec. 4, 2019

The resignation of a prominent New York bishop at the heart of the diocese's sex abuse crisis is "not a victory," says whistleblower Siobhan O'Connor.

Bishop Richard J. Malone of Buffalo, who has been accused of covering up or mishandling the abuse of dozens of minors by priests in his diocese, admitted no wrongdoing when he stepped down voluntarily on Wednesday, two years before his scheduled retirement.

The Vatican said in a statement that Pope Francis has accepted Malone's request for an "early retirement."

"It's really not a victory. It feels more like a necessity," O'Connor told As It Happens host Carol Off. "It's disappointing that he chose to exit in that way, but I must say it's not surprising,"

From 'right-hand girl' to whistleblower
O'Connor used to be Malone's executive assistant, until she turned whistleblower in an explosive 2018 interview on CBS's 60 Minutes.

"I used to be Bishop Malone's right-hand girl and I initially was a huge fan of his. I certainly respected him and even admired him," she told Off.

"But I began to recognize that he wasn't the man I thought he was and that what he was saying publicly did not match what he was doing internally."

The turning point for O'Connor came when Malone publicly released a list of 42 priests facing credible allegations of sexual assault, many of them dating back decades.

But O'Connor had a copy of his original draft list, which was 17 pages long and contained more than 100 names.

Two of the accused priests Malone chose not to name were still active in the church, she said. One of them, she says, got a ringing endorsement from Malone, despite being accused of molesting a young boy.

Gordon says he'll talk with AG about priest abuse in Wyoming

Star Tribune

Dec. 4, 2019

By Seth Klamann

Gov. Mark Gordon said he would talk with Wyoming Attorney General Bridget Hill about investigating sexual abuse by priests in the Equality State, in the wake of other states launching their own inquiries into the history of abuse by Catholic clergymen.

"My sense is I probably will, now that you bring it up, probably ask Attorney General Hill her point of view of where the state's role should be," Gordon said during a wide-ranging interview with the Star-Tribune on Tuesday. "Those are horrific cases. Horrific cases."

Gordon added that he was "hesitant to say we're going to storm in" without knowing more of the details of abuse by priests in Wyoming and without consulting with Hill.

The comments come as one of the state's top prosecutors, Natrona County's Dan Itzen, continues to review a sexual abuse case involving two men, including retired Wyoming bishop Joseph Hart. Hart has been accused by at least 16 men in Wyoming and in Missouri, where he was a priest for 20 years before moving here. He has been the subject of a months-long criminal investigation that started with Cheyenne Police and is now in the hands of Itzen, whose own work on the case has lasted more than 100 days.

Bathurst church gets cheque from insurers for sexual abuse victims

CBC News

Dec. 4, 2019

​​​​​​The Diocese of Bathurst has received the cheque from its insurance company, Aviva, in relation to sexual abuse scandals from decades ago.

The two engaged in a lengthy court battle that ended last spring over who should pay victims of Catholic priests who were seeking compensation.

The church had been arguing the insurance policy at the time of the abuse included coverage for "bodily injury caused intentionally by … the archdiocese."

But the insurers claimed the church failed in its obligation to disclose information about the abuse, and the coverage was therefore void.

In May, the Supreme Court refused hearing the case, thereby ordering Aviva to pay $3.4 million, as New Brunswick's court of appeal had ruled.

Abuse Allegations Against Retired Priest in Columbus Found Credible

Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests

Dec. 4, 2019

Allegations of abuse against a retired priest from the Diocese of Columbus have been found “credible.” We call on Catholic officials to do outreach to other potential victims and to explain why the allegation was not found “credible” when it was first reported, despite the fact that the cleric was "retired" and barred from ministry.

Fr. David Schilder was first accused of abuse in 2004, but Church officials from the Dicoese of Columbus did not find the allegations “credible.” Making matters worse, they turned the allegations over to local children services instead of law enforcement officials. Interestingly, when another allegation was reported to the diocese in September, Catholic officials this time properly routed the allegations to the police.

Reporting allegations to the wrong agency is something that Catholic officials have done elsewhere. The practice conveniently lets them say that they “immediately reported the allegations,” despite the fact that the information went to an agency that is designed to investigate currently ongoing claims of abuse, not historical ones.

Charlotte Talks: Victims Of The Catholic Sex Abuse Scandal Wait For 'The List'

WFAE Radio

Dec. 5, 2019

By Erin Keever

By the end of the year the Catholic Diocese of Charlotte is expected to release its list of priests "credibly accused" of sexual abuse. A look at what happens then.

Across the country, Catholic Dioceses have been releasing lists of names of clergy who have been accused of sexually abusing minors. The Catholic Diocese of Charlotte has yet to do so but they promise to release the names of priests they deem to be "credibly accused" by the end of this year.

With that date fast approaching, WFAE’s Sarah Delia has been exploring the history of this scandal, the church’s response, what victims hope to gain from the release of these names and what happens after their identity is known in a four-part podcast simply titled, The List. She and others join us to talk about that and more.

New accusers file suits alleging sex abuse by defrocked Paterson Diocese priest

Bergen Record

Dec. 4, 2019

By Abbott Koloff

At least two new accusers came forward this week to file sex abuse lawsuits naming a now-defrocked Paterson Diocese priest, James T. Hanley, who has admitted to abusing children and was at the center of the 2002 Catholic Church scandal in New Jersey related to an alleged cover-up of sex abuse by some bishops.

One man said in court papers that he was abused by Hanley and two other priests — a former assistant to Hanley at a Mendham church decades ago and a former Catholic school administrator who pleaded guilty to sexually assaulting two boys more than 25 years ago.

Another said Hanley abused him as a minor at Our Lady of Good Counsel Church in Pequannock in the late 1960s.

The accusations were among dozens of lawsuits filed since Sunday when a state law took effect that gives people more time to file civil complaints alleging sex abuse.

Hanley has admitted in prior court papers to abusing at least a dozen children, many of them at St. Joseph's parish in Mendham. Numerous men who attended St. Joseph's as children gathered in 2002 amid a growing church scandal for a meeting to discuss being abused by Hanley. The priest also was the central figure in a lawsuit that led to a $5 million settlement in 2005.

One of the new Hanley accusers alleged that the priest sexually abused him when he was between 11 and 13 years old, starting in 1974 when he attended St. Joseph's parish. He is not identified in court papers.

Editorial: Bishops need to recognize their own checkered history

National Catholic Reporter

Dec 4, 2019

Novelist William Faulkner wrote, "The past is never dead. It's not even past."

Faulkner's insight is worth remembering in church circles as Catholics deal with the fallout from the ongoing process of bishops investigating other accused bishops.

In the short time since the church formalized that process to deal with its seemingly never-ending crisis, we are finding out that it's had, to put it mildly, its hiccups.

Earlier this year, an investigation into Bishop Michael Bransfield of Wheeling-Charleston, West Virginia, by Archbishop William Lori of Baltimore revealed a pattern of embezzlement and sexual harassment of seminarians. Eventually, transparency was achieved, and a long-term punishment meted out by Bransfield's successor, Bishop Mark Brennan.

But that was not till after the public learned that Lori himself was among those bishops who were the beneficiaries of Bransfield's questionable largesse, smacking of greasing palms to influence his ecclesial superiors. The revelation was an embarrassment to the process.

Following that probe, Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio of Brooklyn, New York, was enlisted to conduct an apostolic investigation into embattled Bishop Richard Malone, who resigned as head of the Diocese of Buffalo, New York, Dec. 4. Meanwhile, DiMarzio himself has been accused of sex abuse that allegedly took place in the 1970s in Jersey City, New Jersey, when DiMarzio was a priest in the Newark Archdiocese.

DiMarzio has a reputation as being tough on sex abuse, and his name was revealed only in the context of what attorney Mitchell Garabedian said will be a lawsuit filed under New Jersey's recently enacted expanded statute of limitations. As of this writing, nothing has been filed; DiMarzio has adamantly denied the accusation and deserves the presumption of innocence.

Priest Who Taught At St. Peter's In JC Accused Of Abuse In Westfield: Report

Union Daily Voice

Dec. 4, 2019

By Paul Milo

A priest who died decades ago has been accused of sexually abusing a boy while serving in a Westfield parish, TAPintoWestfield reported.

A lawsuit against the Archdiocese of Newark filed Sunday claims the Rev. John Flanagan abused the boy -- who is now 75 and living in Canada -- over the course of a decade while serving at Holy Trinity church in the 1950s and '60s. The church is also a defendant in the suit.

The lawsuit was filed following passage of a state law creating a two-year window during which plaintiffs can sue regardless of when the abuse is alleged to have taken place.

The lawsuit claims Flanagan sexually abused Dennis Thome beginning when he was seven years old. Flanagan, who died in 1975, also abused other children but all the instances were covered up, the lawsuit also states.

Flanagan also served as pastor of Our Lady of All Souls in East Orange. He also taught at St. Peter's Prep and served at St. Francis Hospital, both in Jersey City.

'Hard to know' if Buffalo diocese will recover from clergy sex abuse crisis, says Catholic scholar


Dec.4, 2019

By Beth Adams

Nazareth College history professor Timothy Thibodeau, who studies the Catholic Church, says it's hard to know what long-term effects the resignation of Bishop Richard Malone will have on the Buffalo Catholic Diocese.

The Vatican ended weeks of speculation Wednesday when it announced that Pope Francis had accepted Malone's resignation after widespread criticism from the former bishop's staff, priests, and the public over how he handled allegations of clergy sexual abuse.

"It's not a surprise," Thibodeau said of the resignation. “I think what's surprising to me is why it took so long."

Pressure on Malone to step down was intense.

In the past year, two key members of Malone's staff went public with concerns about his leadership, including his former secretary, the Rev. Ryszard Biernat, who secretly recorded Malone calling a then-active priest "a sick puppy,'' but taking no immediate action to remove him.

Earlier, his executive assistant, Siobhan O'Connor, had leaked internal church documents after becoming concerned that Malone had intentionally omitted dozens of names from a publicly released list of priests with credible allegations of abuse.

At least 3 lawsuits filed alleging predator clergy in South Jersey

Press of Atlantic City

Dec. 4, 2019

By Molly Bilinski

Former Roman Catholic Brother Walter Hicks sexually abused a boy while the boy was in second and third grade in the late 1970s at Pleasantville’s St. Peter’s school, according to a lawsuit filed Monday in Camden County Superior Court.

“I went to Catholic school for three years, and two of these years were torture,” said Michael Troiano, who is identified as John Doe in the lawsuit but spoke at a news conference Tuesday afternoon. “When I would tell my family that I didn’t want to go to school and I was afraid of my abuser — I didn’t know the words to say, ‘I am being sexually violated by an adult.’ … Those words, a child doesn’t know.”

Hicks “engaged in unpermitted sexual contact” with Troiano, according to the suit, and officials in the Diocese of Camden should have known Hicks was not “fit to work with children” or should have learned of his “propensity to commit sexual abuse.”

At least three civil suits have been filed claiming members of the Roman Catholic Church abused minors in South Jersey and alleging negligence on the part of church leaders since Sunday, when a state law took effect allowing sex abuse victims to sue until they turn 55, or within seven years of their first realization the abuse caused them harm.

The previous limit was two years. More than a dozen lawsuits have been filed against the Diocese of Camden and the Archdioceses of Philadelphia and Newark so far.

Survivor group says Pope Francis should have fired Buffalo bishop, calls for more scrutiny across New York

Rochester Democrat and Chronicle

Dec. 4, 2019

By Steve Orr

The Buffalo diocese of Buffalo, like its neighboring diocese of Rochester, has now felt the full effect of the Catholic Church’s roiling child sexual abuse scandal.

Buffalo Bishop Richard J. Malone, who was beset by public criticism, internal leaks and outside investigations, is leaving his post early, the Vatican announced early Wednesday.

Malone’s departure, coming just three weeks after a meeting with Pope Francis, was widely seen as a rebuke of his handling of abuse allegations.

He becomes the the sixth American bishop or cardinal in four years to leave office under the cloud of the church's on-going child sexual abuse scandal.

Bishop accused of corruption, fathering child now faces harassment complaint


Dec. 3, 2019

By Nirmala Carvalho

Nearly a month after a Catholic bishop facing fire from his own priests for corruption and fathering a child as well as being accused of intimidating a survivor of sexual harassment, police last Friday registered what amounts to an initial complaint against Bishop Kannikadass William Antony of the diocese of Mysuru in southwestern India.

William, 54, has been accused of kidnapping, criminal intimidation and “outraging the modesty of a woman,” but has yet to be formally indicted or arrested.

On November 5, a charge was filed against the bishop by Robert Rosario, representing the Association of Concerned Catholics (AOCC), a citizen’s group. It came after a video of a woman surfaced last March alleging that Antony had threatened her after she accused another priest of sexual harassment.

Buffalo Bishop Resigns After Scandal Over Secret List of Abusive Priests

The New York Times

December 4, 2019

By Sharon Otterman

Bishop Richard J. Malone “had become the lightning rod for all that was wrong,” a lay leader said.

First, a whistle-blower revealed that Bishop Richard J. Malone of Buffalo had kept files about abusive priests that he hid from the public. Then leaked recordings showed that he was reluctant to remove a parish priest whom he called a “sick puppy.”

On Wednesday, after months of pressure from priests and lay leaders, the Vatican said in a statement that it had accepted the resignation of Bishop Malone, effective immediately. Since the Vatican did not specify the reasons behind the resignation, it was unclear whether Bishop Malone had been forced to quit.

Bishop Malone, in a statement, described his resignation as an early retirement that had been accepted by Pope Francis. He said he had made the decision to step down “freely and voluntarily” after being made aware of the conclusions of a recent Vatican investigation into the crisis in his diocese, which has been in turmoil over his handling of clergy abuse cases.

“I have concluded, after much prayer and discernment, that the people of Buffalo will be better served by a new bishop who perhaps is better able to bring about the reconciliation, healing and renewal that is so needed,” he wrote.

Statement from Bishop Richard J. Malone on His Resignation

Diocese of Buffalo

December 4, 2019

By The Most Reverend Richard J. Malone, bishop emeritus of Buffalo

My Sisters and Brothers in Christ -

Just this past Sunday, we entered into the Season of Advent - a season of hope, of expectation and fulfillment, and the promise of new beginning. It is in the spirit of this Holy Season now upon us that I wish to address the future of our Diocese and my own fervent hope for a new beginning.

As you are well aware, we have faced tremendous turmoil over the past year and a half. Some have attributed this to my own shortcomings, but the turmoil also reflects the culmination of systemic failings over many years in the worldwide handling of sexual abuse of minors by members of the clergy. The crisis our Church is facing relates not only to the immoral and criminal acts of those who committed unconscionable offenses toward the most vulnerable, but also to the failure to regard these violations as grave offenses that warranted the full weight of civil and ecclesiastical justice. As you know, major reforms were undertaken in this country in 2002 by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops and in the implementation of the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People. But, of course, the injury caused by past abuse continues to bring immense suffering around the world and here in our Diocese.

Communique regarding the Diocese of Buffalo

Apostolic Nunciature

December 4, 2019

The Holy See mandated an Apostolic Visitation for the Diocese of Buffalo and appointed the Most Reverend Nicholas DiMarzio to evaluate the situation of this local Church. The final report was sent to the Holy See.

Bishop Richard Malone was made aware of the results, and subsequently asked the Holy Father Pope Francis to grant him an early retirement. This request was made during the 'Ad Limina' visit with the Bishops of New York.

The Holy Father has granted his request and has appointed as the Apostolic Administrator of the Diocese of Buffalo the Most Reverend Edward Scharfenberger, Bishop of Albany, to serve until the appointment of a new bishop, effective immediately.

This resignation and appointment were announced today.

For a year, Catholics have pleaded for this bishop to resign. He finally did


December 4, 2019

By Daniel Burke, CNN Religion Editor

For more than a year, thousands of Catholics in Buffalo pleaded, protested and prayed for Bishop Richard Malone to resign. They circulated petitions, held placards at prayer vigils, even tried to meet Malone's plane at the airport.

On Wednesday, these Buffalo Catholics finally got their wish, when the Vatican announced that Pope Francis had accepted Malone's resignation.

Malone followed with his own statement, attributing his early retirement to turmoil caused by the Catholic Church's clergy sexual abuse crisis, and discord over his response to it.

Pope accepts resignation of U.S. bishop accused of abuse cover-up


Pope Francis has accepted the resignation of Bishop Richard J. Malone of Buffalo, New York, who has been at the center of a sex abuse crisis in his diocese, the Vatican said on Wednesday.

The Vatican said Francis had appointed the bishop of Albany, Edward B. Scharfenberger, to administer the Buffalo diocese until a new bishop can be appointed.

Malone, 73, who has been under pressure to resign for years, is stepping down two years before the normal retirement date for bishops.

Malone, who met with the pope last month, has been accused of covering up or mishandling the abuse of dozens of minors by priests in his diocese.
He has denied the accusations and until recently said he would not be stepping down early.

In September, a poll by the local newspaper, The Buffalo News, showed that about 85 percent of Catholics or lapsed Catholics in the area said he should resign.

Bulletin from Holy See Press Office: Resignations and Appointments, 04.12.2019

Holy See Press Office

- Resignation of bishop of Buffalo, U.S.A., and appointment of apostolic administrator sede vacante of the same diocese

- Appointment of auxiliary of São Sebastião do Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Resignation of bishop of Buffalo, U.S.A., and appointment of apostolic administrator sede vacante of the same diocese

The Holy Father has accepted the resignation from the pastoral care of the diocese of Buffalo, United States of America, presented by Bishop Richard J. Malone, and has appointed Bishop Edward B. Scharfenberger of Albany as apostolic administrator of the same diocese.

December 3, 2019

Buffalo case shows more needs to be done on bishop accountability

The Tablet

Dec. 4, 2019

By Christopher Lamb

A bishop in the United States who came under intense criticism for his handling of abuse cases and governance of his diocese has resigned.

Pope Francis today accepted the resignation of the Bishop of Buffalo, Richard Malone, who has become a symbol of egregious failures among the Church hierarchy to clean up the abuse crisis.

It also reveals the weakness in a clerical governance system where a bishop can cling on in post despite having lost the confidence of his flock and even the Holy See. I was the first to reveal that the bishop would be stepping down on 13 November, after sources told me that the apostolic nuncio to the United States had agreed with Bishop Malone for him to step down. In response, the bishop, through a spokeswoman, said: “The Lamb tweet is false.” It was clear he was reluctant to go.

Former Seminarian Reacts To Catholic Diocese's 'List Of Amends' For Banished Bishop Bransfield

WV Public Broadcasting

Dec. 3, 2019

By Glynis Board

The Catholic Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston released a “list of amends” last week for the former bishop Michael Bransfield to consider. That list comes in the wake of multiple investigations revealing sexual and financial misconduct. The diocese wants Bransfield to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars and to apologize.

Former seminarian, Wheeling resident and Morgantown native Vincent DeGeorge has spoken out about abuse, saying he was among those targeted by Bransfield. He offered these thoughts on the Diocese's list.

Board: What was your overall reaction to that list?

DeGeorge: On the whole, I'm pleased that the Catholic Church in West Virginia is trying to make amends. And in this plan, this list proposed by Bishop Brennan is an attempt, and effort, to do that. I'm pleased. However, there are significant and concerning aspects lacking to this amends plan.

I saw the list as soon as it came out, and I read the letter and was honestly stunned. I was surprised by emotions that I didn't realize were still there. I was surprised by how much hope I still had in the diocese without realizing it. I was really counting on these events to make a difference in a positive direction. And as I read the amends, that hope gave way to disappointment. I didn't think I would or could let myself continue to be disappointed by the diocese.

Sisters sue Catholic Diocese of Harrisburg, say church should have protected them from predatory priest

WGAL News 8

Dec. 3, 2019

By Anne Shannon

A Susquehanna Valley family is suing the Catholic Diocese of Harrisburg.

The Fortney sisters, Patty and Lara, say the church should have done more to protect them from a predator priest.

"Today is a momentous day for our family because we can finally move forward in our pursuit for justice," Patty Fortney said.

Fortney and her family made an announcement Tuesday about the filing of a civil lawsuit against the Archdiocese of Newark and the Harrisburg diocese.

If Bishop Malone resigns, survivor 'can begin to heal’


Dec. 3, 2019

By Charlie Specht

If the expected resignation of Bishop Richard J. Malone will bring healing to the Diocese of Buffalo, nowhere will that healing be more personal than in the heart of Kyle Gorlick.

“There is hope that I can begin to heal,” Gorlick said Tuesday. “I hope that this is the period of renewal for the diocese. I hope that this is the time that we can all heal.”

Gorlick first came forward 15 months ago to describe inappropriate sexual advances by his parish priest, Fr. Robert Yetter of St. Mary’s of Swormville.

Letter: Malone’s resignation won’t help the healing

Buffalo News

Dec. 3, 2019

There is a lot of press and news stories about Bishop Richard Malone’s resignation. I’m a victim of pedophile Father Joseph Friel. I’ve seen about eight other victims in the media regarding Friel as the predator. Well if 10 came forward then there are 20 that didn’t. Until about a year ago I was one of that 20, my sexual abuse took place 58 years ago when I was 10.

Now I am only speaking for myself. Malone is the last in probably 100 years of bishops in the Buffalo Diocese guilty of the cover up. There are tons of non-pedophile priests, and lay people also guilty regarding the cover up.

Life is often paradoxical which means truth and its exact opposite are correct. The entire clerical body of priests needs to come on bended knee to the victims, confess their sins and receive absolution from God, through the intercession of the victims. Of course, that would only occur in a perfect world.

Albany Bishop Scharfenberger may oversee Buffalo diocese

Daily Gazette

Dec. 3, 2019

By Jeff Wilkin

Bishop Edward Scharfenberger, the spiritual leader of Albany's Roman Catholic Diocese, may soon be tabbed to temporarily oversee the Buffalo diocese.

While there has been no official word, Vatican journalist Rocco Palmo wrote this week in his "Whispers in the Loggia" blog that his sources say Scharfenberger soon will be named apostolic administrator.

Albany's bishop would take over for Bishop Richard Malone, who Palmo said is expected to resign the Buffalo diocese position in the wake of several scandals involving priests accused of sexual abuse.

According to the New York Times, the 73-year-old Malone, installed as the 14th bishop of Buffalo in 2012, has been criticized for the way he has handled incidents involving accused priests. Local Catholics told the newspaper that Malone promised transparency, but in several cases, appeared to be shielding priests accused of abuse.

Hundreds have filed sexual abuse claims against clergy with the Buffalo diocese, or lawsuits under New York’s new Child Victims Act, which allows lawsuits in old alleged incidents to be filed in state Supreme Court. Investigations by the FBI and state Attorney General’s Office are under way.

Woman files lawsuit against Allentown Diocese in connection with clergy abuse

The Mercury

Dec. 3, 2019

The clock struck midnight, and thanks to a new law a slew of lawsuits against the Catholic Church have popped up in New Jersey.

That includes a case targeting the Allentown Diocese. A woman says she was repeatedly abused by a priest for more than a decade.

According to the lawsuit, a 13 year old girl started being sexually abused by later-defrocked priest Joseph Rock in 1974. It allegedly continued for 11 years.

Rock allegedly took photos and videos and threatened to share them if she ever told anyone.

NJ law prompts clergy sex-abuse suit against Archdiocese of Philadelphia

Cherry Hill Courier-Post

Dec. 3, 2019

By Jim Walsh

A former altar boy has sued the Archdiocese of Philadelphia in federal court here, alleging a parish priest sexually abused him during summer trips to the Jersey Shore.

The suit, brought by a 51-year-old Arizona man, was filed under a new law that extends the statute of limitations for civil claims alleging childhood sex abuse.

The plaintiff, identified only as John Doe, contends he was sexually assaulted "hundreds of times from 1978 to 1982" by the Rev. James Brzyski, a Pennsylvania priest who faced similar accusations from multiple accusers before his death in 2017.

The lawsuit contends the Archdiocese of Philadelphia failed to protect Doe and other children from abusers in the clergy.

The suit says Brzyski's "sexual grooming" began when he helped the boy, then 10, change his altar boy garments at St. John the Evangelist Church in Lower Makefield, Bucks County.

It says Brzyski initially massaged the boy, then moved on to molesting him.

New Jersey Lawsuit Accuses Former DC Archbishop McCarrick of Sexual Abuse


Dec. 3, 2019

By Jodie Fleischer

A new accuser has come forward alleging sexual abuse by former Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, who once led the Catholic Church here in Washington and beyond.

The New Jersey man spoke out for the first time Monday as the state opened a window giving sex abuse victims of any age the right to sue, regardless of the statute of limitations.

John Bellocchio, now 37, said the abuse happened around 1995 in Hackensack, New Jersey, when he was just 14 years old. McCarrick was the archbishop of Newark at the time and visiting the local parish.

Bellocchio's lawsuit against McCarrick and the Archdiocese of Newark alleges the latter "knew or should have known that McCarrick was a danger to children before McCarrick sexually assaulted Plaintiff."

"I want there to be real, effective change from the top down," Bellocchio said.

Retired Columbus Priest Accused Of Sexual Abuse Of Minors

WOSU Radio

Dec. 3, 2019

By Adora Namigadde

The Catholic Diocese of Columbus announced it added a retired priest to its list of clergy credibly accused of sexual abuse of a minor.

In an email, the diocese says it first received a report of abuse by Father David Schilder in 2004. The diocese says the report did not provide details, so it could not determine whether the allegation was credible. The alleged abuse happened in 1968.

The diocese says it reported the allegation to Franklin County Children Services. Schilder then retired, and the diocese barred him from engaging in public ministry as a priest.

This September, the diocese received a second accusation of Schilder sexually abusing a minor. The time period for this accusation was 1981-1983. The diocese contacted Columbus Police and commissioned a third-party investigation of the incident.

Former Colorado priest up for possible parole in sex abuse case; was named in attorney general’s report

Associated Press

Dec. 3, 2019

A former Roman Catholic priest imprisoned for sexually assaulting a teen in Colorado is up for possible parole.

The Coloradoan reports that 57-year-old Timothy Evans told the parole board Monday that he is “absolutely” guilty of abuse but has learned to identify his triggers for abusive behavior and has created a risk management plan through the treatment he’s received in prison. If paroled, he said he would be closely watched because his case is high profile.

It was the third parole hearing for Evans since he was sentenced to 14 years to life in prison in 2007 for sexually assaulting a boy who worked at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Church in Fort Collins, where he was the pastor.

The full parole board would have to agree to release Evans. A decision is expected to take several weeks.

Evans was one of 40 priests named last month in a report released by the Colorado Attorney General’s Office into an investigation of child sex abuse in the state’s three catholic dioceses. It found at least 166 victims.

The report said that Evans abused three children between 1995 and 1999 at Spirit of Christ Parish in Arvada, Our Lady of Fatima Parish in Lakewood and St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Parish in Fort Collins. He was laicized on May 3, 2013.

Fallen Priests: Should We Hear Their Stories?


December 3, 2019

By Paul Baumann

Speaking about the church’s sex-abuse scandal at a September conference on the “Catholic Imagination” at Loyola University in Chicago, the essayist Richard Rodriguez said a very brave thing. “What do we know about these priests? We know nothing about the burden of these fallen priests,” Rodriguez said, according to articles in the National Catholic Reporter. “We don’t know their stories. What do they think they were doing?…. We have no idea who they were, or what they suffered…. Our imaginations have gone dull.”

Evidently Rodriguez’s remarks were prompted to some extent by the 2016 death of his friend, the Notre Dame theologian Virgilio Elizondo. Elizondo had been accused of abusing a minor, and appears to have committed suicide. He had denied the charges.

Rodriguez was criticized by some for showing concern and even sympathy for priests most people regard as monsters deserving nothing but condemnation and social oblivion. Such priests, and the bishops who hid their crimes, remain exhibit Number 1 in the case against a corrupt, hopelessly patriarchal, and arrogant institution. Who, after all, wants to be seen expressing interest in such people, let alone offering them comfort? Doesn’t doing so just retraumatize victims?

The wishes, well-being, and confidentiality of victims need to be placed first and foremost. But does that mean we have nothing to learn from the offending priests about the causes and consequences of the crisis? Criticism of Rodriguez seems misplaced to me. It took real courage for Jason Berry to break the sexual-abuse story in Louisiana in 1985. Early on, Thomas Doyle, OP, showed the same fearless determination in demanding that the hierarchy stop turning a blind eye to the victims and the crisis.

In 2002, the Boston Globe took risks in exposing the grotesque failure of Cardinal Bernard Law and the Boston archdiocese. But at this late date, simply damning the church is too easy, especially in light of the well-documented steps the church has since taken to protect children. Rodriguez makes an important point. Is it possible to understand the sexual abuse if the stories of priest-abusers are regarded as untouchable and irrelevant? Will such ignorance help us prevent future abuse? Don’t journalists have an obligation to pursue such stories, no matter how unpalatable?

Buffalo’s Catholic Bishop to Resign, SNAP Responds

Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests

Dec. 3, 2019

According to a report, Buffalo’s Catholic bishop is set to resign on Wednesday after more than a year of scandals, mostly of his own making, have plagued the diocese. We hope that this resignation will lead to true change in this see, not simply a change in personnel.

The well-respected Catholic blogger Rocco Palmo says that Bishop Richard Malone will resign this week. For the past year plus, Bishop Malone has faced scandal after scandal, from his lying about the extent of abuse in his diocese, to his being the subject of secret recordings, to his failing to remove an accused priest from ministry while allegations were investigated. Now, the Bishop of Albany, Edward Scharfenberger, will apparently be left to pick up the pieces from these months of deceit.

When the new bishop for Buffalo is selected, we hope that he will be a prelate who learns from Bishop Malone. That is, we hope that this new bishop will take the opposite action from his predecessor at every opportunity, will truly be transparent instead of secretive, and will welcome the truth with open arms instead of attempting to silence it. Parishioners in Buffalo deserve no less.

Former Cardinal McCarrick Accused Again of Abuse, SNAP Reacts

Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests

Dec. 3, 2019

A now-disgraced cardinal who has been accused of abuse at least a dozen times has been named in a newly filed lawsuit in New Jersey. We applaud the survivor in this case for coming forward and hope that his example will encourage other survivors to come forward and get the help and support that they need.

The now-defrocked Cardinal Theodore McCarrick has been named as an abuser again, this time by a New Jersey man named John Bellocchio who alleges that McCarrick abused him while McCarrick was on a visit to his parish in the 1990s. Our hearts ache for this victim and we hope that this new allegation will lead to renewed outreach to victims by church officials in both Newark – where McCarrick was working as Archbishop at the time of the allegations – and every other diocese where McCarrick worked.

Clergy sex abuse lawsuits taking advantage of new law

Associated Press

December 3, 2019

Former Roman Catholic Cardinal Theodore McCarrick abused a teenage boy in the 1990s when he was leader of the Archdiocese of Newark, according to a lawsuit filed under a newly enacted New Jersey law that gives accusers more time to make legal claims.

Another lawsuit filed by two of six sisters alleges that a now-deceased priest who had previously worked for the archdiocese abused them and their siblings for nearly 10 years after he was transferred to Pennsylvania.

“This is a momentous day for our family because we can finally move forward in our search for justice,” one of the sisters, Patty Fortney-Julius, said at a news conference Monday.

Catholic Church, Boy Scouts hit with dozens of sex abuse suits under new N.J. law extending victims’ rights to sue

The Philadelphia Inquirer

December 2, 2019

By Jeremy Roebuck

Dozens of new allegations of sexual abuse against priests and scoutmasters have surfaced after New Jersey opened a two-year window granting victims a second chance to pursue court claims that had been barred by time limits.

New lawsuits filed Sunday and Monday include allegations against six priests in the Camden Diocese as well as previously undisclosed claims involving the now-defrocked cardinal Theodore McCarrick, former archbishop of Newark.

Surge of new abuse claims threatens Catholic church like never before

The Associated Press

December 3, 2019

At the end of another long day trying to sign up new clients accusing the Roman Catholic Church of sexual abuse, lawyer Adam Slater gazes out the window of his high-rise Manhattan office at one of the great symbols of the church, St. Patrick’s Cathedral.

“I wonder how much that’s worth?” he muses.

Across the country, attorneys like Slater are scrambling to file a new wave of lawsuits alleging sexual abuse by clergy, thanks to rules enacted in 15 states that extend or suspend the statute of limitations to allow claims stretching back decades. Associated Press reporting found the deluge of suits could surpass anything the nation’s clergy sexual abuse crisis has seen before, with potentially more than 5,000 new cases and payouts topping $4 billion.

It’s a financial reckoning playing out in such populous Catholic strongholds as New York, California and New Jersey, among the eight states that go the furthest with “lookback windows” that allow sex abuse claims no matter how old. Never before have so many states acted in near-unison to lift the restrictions that once shut people out if they didn’t bring claims of childhood sex abuse by a certain age, often their early 20s.

Allentown Diocese sued over new clergy sex abuse complaint

The Morning Call

December 2, 2019

By Emily Opilo

A woman has sued the Allentown Diocese over what she alleges was 16 years of sexual abuse by diocesan priest Joseph A. Rock, one of 300 Pennsylvania priests named in a 2018 grand jury report and the subject of numerous complaints made to the diocese.

The lawsuit, filed in Superior Court of Atlantic County, New Jersey, alleges that Rock, a priest who worked at churches in Lehigh, Northampton, Berks and Schuylkill counties between 1972 and 2001, abused the unnamed woman beginning when she was 13. She’s 58 now and living in North Carolina.

The lawsuit, which seeks unspecified punitive damages, was one of at least two filed Monday in New Jersey courts that involved Pennsylvania dioceses. A New Jersey law that took effect Sunday allows victims of child sex abuse to sue until they turn 55, or within seven years of their first realization the abuse caused them harm. The previous limit was two years.