Keep the Faith, Change the Church.

Voice of the Faithful Focus, Apr. 21, 2017

Highlighting issues we face working together
to Keep the Faith, Change the Church


TOP STORIES

It was an honor to know you, Joe Crowley
“No one taught me more about the incalculable damage of sexual abuse, and the surprising resiliency of the human spirit, than Joe Crowley. I met Joe in the fall of 2001, when my Spotlight Team colleagues and I were searching for people who had been molested by Catholic priests. Through a network of lawyers and advocates, I contacted Joe, then 42. He was smart, funny, and articulate, but also nervous, insecure, and still trying to recover emotionally from what had happened to him decades earlier.” By Sacha Pfeiffer, The Boston Globe

Atlanta archbishop says clericalism continues to hinder sex abuse reforms
“Archbishop Wilton Gregory, who led the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops during the tumultuous years when the wide scope of the clergy sexual abuse scandal was brought to light, said in a new interview that clericalism is still hampering efforts to address the issue, even at the highest levels of the church. ‘I would say there is a resistance to do the hard thing,’ the Atlanta archbishop told NPR affiliate WABE in a March interview broadcast on April 10.” By Michael O’Loughlin, America: The Jesuit Review

Pope makes appointments amid criticism of sex abuse response
“Pope Francis on Tuesday (Apr. 4) named a new official to oversee the Vatican office that processes clerical sex abuse cases amid mounting criticism over a years-long backlog of cases and Francis’ handling of the problem. The promotion of Monsignor John Kennedy to head of the discipline section of the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith was the second abuse-related appointment in recent days. Francis named the Rev. Hans Zollner, one of the Catholic Church’s top experts on fighting abuse and protecting children, as an adviser to the Vatican’s office for clergy on Saturday (Apr. 1).” By Nicole Winfield, Associated Press, in The Washington Post

Child sex abuse: Catholic bishops ‘must meet Pope Francis to push for urgent change’
“Australia's bishops must lead an urgent delegation to Pope Francis seeking changes to some of the church's most fundamental views on women, celibacy, governance and the handling of child sex cases, according to Australia's peak Catholic reform group in a call to arms to Catholics across the country. In an open letter sent to all parishes, Catholics for Renewal has urged bishops and archbishops not to "defer to the Holy See", or wait for the recommendations from the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, before acting on serious issues identified by the commission that contributed to the child sexual abuse crisis.” By Joanne McCarthy, The Sydney Morning Herald

German bishops divided on diaconate for women
“A German theologian-bishop has called for the ordination of woman deacons, saying it is more important than relaxing mandatory celibacy or ordaining married men of proven virtue (viri probati) to the priesthood. ‘Women should be ordained deacons. It is a sign of the times,’ said Bishop Gebhard Fürst of Rottenburg-Stuttgart. He told a 27 March gathering of the German Catholic Women’s Association the time had come for women deacons. The association, which has been demanding the move for over twenty years, was marking its 100th anniversary.” By Christa Pongratz-Lippitt, La Croix International

ACCOUNTABILITY

Guam Catholic Church sees a perfect storm of controversy
“The Catholic Church on the Pacific island of Guam has been devastated by allegations that its longtime archbishop sexually abused altar boys. But even before the scandal broke, Guam's church was divided over another issue — the presence of a controversial European lay movement that became so toxic that a community of nuns fled to the mainland U.S. in despair. The battle on the tiny tropical U.S. territory pits the Neocatechumenal Way lay group against critics on a majority Catholic island that was colonized by Spanish missionaries in the 17th century.” By Grace Garces Bordallo and Nicole Winfield

PONTIFICAL COMMISSION FOR THE PROTECTION OF MINORS

Abuse commission member: We asked pope to create Vatican office to train in responding to survivors
“A member of Pope Francis' commission on clergy sexual abuse says his group has asked the pontiff to create a new Vatican office to train the city-state's personnel in how to respond to letters from abuse survivors. Jesuit Fr. Hans Zollner, a member of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, told the Italian Catholic channel TV2000 Monday  that Vatican officials need training before they can respond to survivors.” By Joshua J. McElwee, National Catholic Reporter

POPE FRANCIS

Pope Francis’ message faces intensifying criticism
“It seems that criticism of Francis is increasing and becoming more overt and intense. What is it about Francis that is making him a more and more controversial figure? One reason, of course is that he has created a more open papacy in which dissent is tolerated and even encouraged. The opportunity to share one’s thoughts, however, should not include being disrespectful.” By Pat Perriello, National Catholic Reporter

Letter from Rome: Who is Francis listening to?
“… It is about his apparently ambivalent attitude towards holding bishops accountable for mishandling cases, protecting abusive priests, or showing more concern for the reputation of the institution than for victims. However, there was a small sign last week that the pope’s attitude may be changing (and, note well, Francis has shown an amazing capacity to listen, learn, and change). It came with the forced resignation of a bishop in Southern France. The resignation of the prelate in question—Bishop Hervé Gaschignard of the Diocese of Dax and Aire—was accepted on April 6. It occurred just a few months after people in his diocese went to the French bishops’ conference and the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith with complaints over the bishop’s inappropriate ‘words and attitude with respect to several young people.’” By Robert Mickens, Commonweal


How are Pope Francis’ reforms of the Roman Curia going?
“Kurt Martens is a Belgian-born lay Catholic civil and canon lawyer who serves as a professor of canon law at the Catholic University of America. He is a consultant to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ committee on canonical affairs and specializes in the working and organization of church structures, including published research on the reform of the Roman Curia. He is the editor of ‘The Jurist,’ the only canon law periodical in the United States. I recently interviewed Dr. Martens by email about the ongoing efforts of Pope Francis to reform the Roman Curia.” By Sean Salai, S.J., America: The Jesuit Review

BISHOPS

Atlanta’s Catholic archbishop on abuse scandal news, married priests
“As Christians began to observe Holy Week, the leader of the world's Catholics was preparing for a two-day visit to Egypt despite the recent deadly bombings at Christian churches there. Among other things, the April 28-29 visit by Pope Francis is aimed at further improving relations between the Catholic Church and the world's Muslims. But the church continues its internal struggles over how the Vatican and Catholic bishops have handled the clergy abuse scandal. Recently, an abuse survivor, who had been a member of a commission advising the Vatican, quit in frustration.” By Denis O’Hayer, National Public Radio, Atlanta, WABE.org

PRIESTS

Catholics surge in Africa but priest shortages persist in other parts of the globe
“The number of Catholics worldwide is rising fastest in Africa while the church continues to suffer from a shortage of priests in some parts of the world … Despite an increase in the number of Catholics, there was a fall in the number of priests called to ministry in some parts of the world. The number of priests rose by more than 1,100 in Africa and 1,100 in Asia but fell by 2,502 (6 percent) in Europe between 2014 and 2015. There were a total of 47 new priests in the Americas in 2015.” By Josephine McKenna, Religion News Service

CHURCH REFORM

Fix a disconnect that hobbles the Church
“A new book offer suggestions about how the laity can get more involved in the life of the parish and Church at large. ‘Everyone Leads: How to Revitalize the Catholic Church’ looks at a disconnect between Church leadership and the people in the pews.” By Chris Lowney, Cruxnow.com

Married priests and female deacons? What the Pope’s politics look like from Latin America
“Priests are Catholicism’s greatest figures: shepherds who manage the relationship with the divine. But their numbers have been dwindling worldwide since the 1930s. In Argentina, the Church lost 23% of its priests and nuns from 1960 to 2013. France and Spain have also seen a dramatic reduction in clergy. In Europe, the number of priests declined 3.6% between 2012 and 2015 alone.” By Veronica Gimenez Beliveau, University of Buenos Aires, in The Huffington Post

FUTURE OF THE CHURCH

Not just another ‘trade meeting,’ convocation seeks to unify U.S. church
“This summer's Convocation of Catholic Leaders comes at a time when the U.S. Catholic Church is seeking how best to respond to a changing social landscape while bringing Pope Francis' vision for a church that offers mercy and joy to the world. Called by the bishops, the historic convocation will find more than 3,000 Catholic leaders -- bishops, clergy, religious and laypeople -- meeting July 1-4 in Orlando, Florida, to focus on how the pope's 2013 apostolic exhortation, ‘Evangelii Gaudium’ (‘The Joy of the Gospel’), applies in the United States.” By Dennis Sadowski, Catholic News Service

Letter from Rome: Who will speak to solve the vocations crisis?
“The (Second Vatican) Council stated clearly that the Eucharist is the source and summit of the church’s life and all its activity. And in its decree on priestly life and ministry Vatican II said it’s impossible to truly build up a Christian community ‘unless it has its basis and center in the celebration of the most Holy Eucharist.’ Hence, the need for priests … But the church has a serious shortage of ordained presbyters in almost every part of the world, except in some countries in Africa and Asia. And this “vocations crisis” is not something new. The first signs of it started appearing even before Vatican Council II got underway.” By Robert Mickens, Commonweal

Vatican statistics confirm the Catholic future is in Africa
“New statistic released by the Vatican on Thursday (Apr. 6) show that Africa continues to position itself as the future axis of Catholicism, with the number of baptized Catholics on the continent growing at a significantly faster rate than anywhere else in the world. According to the numbers released on Thursday by the Vatican’s press office, Catholicism has grown globally from 1.272 billion in 2014 to 1.285 in 2015. This represents a 1 percent annual growth, and 17.7 percent of the world’s population.” By Ines San Martin, Cruxnow.com

“AMORIS LAETITIA”

On ‘Amoris’ anniversary, let’s appreciate its beauty and relevance
“Cardinal Donald Wuerl of Washington says the one-year anniversary of the release of ‘Amoris Laetitia’ spotlights the ‘beauty and relevance’ of the document, including the way it does not reverse Church teaching on marriage but rather offers ‘greater emphasis on the role of the individual conscience in appropriating those moral norms in the person’s actual circumstances.’” By Cardinal Donald Wuerl, Cruxnow.com

WOMEN IN THE CHURCH

Role of women in the modern Catholic Church ‘unacceptable’
“‘Women are stalwarts of the Catholic Church when it comes to attendance and participation. The role of women in the church, as it is now, is unacceptable in modern times,’ Fr O'Hanlon said Pope Francis wanted to change the role of women, and he urged the Bishops to embrace his ideas more enthusiastically.” By Kim Bielenberg, Irish Independent

Francis’s words about women: What does he really think?
“The Catechism of the Catholic Church offers some sage advice on how to take someone else’s words. In article 2478, it says: To avoid rash judgment, everyone ought to be careful to interpret insofar as possible his neighbors’ thoughts, words, and deeds, in a favorable way … I thought about this advice when considering some of Pope Francis’s words about women. As many have noted, despite his stated intention of including and promoting women, the Pope has caused no little consternation by some of his remarks concerning them.” By Rita Ferrone, Commonweal

CLERICALISM

New clericalism is imposing old ways on modern church architecture
“Church architecture has become a frontline of the liturgy wars as Catholic churches undergo re-renovations. Michael DeSanctis, a church building consultant and theology professor, is not pleased. Restoration-minded pastors, most who came of age well after Vatican II, are ordering the changes. Gone are what they sometimes disparage as ‘Pizza Hut’ churches. The goal is to restore tradition. They impose altar rails, the placement of the Blessed Sacrament near the altar, and use expensive marble on the floor to seal off the sanctuary area as a polished and exclusive arena for clerical liturgical action.” By Peter Feuerherd, National Catholic Reporter

MARRIED PRIESTS

Why married priests won’t really fix the shortage
“What the Holy Father did say is that he is open to exploring the possibility of proven men ('viri probati,' in Latin) who are married being ordained to the priesthood. Currently, such men, who are typically over the age of 35, are eligible for ordination to the permanent diaconate, but not the priesthood. However, marriage was not the first solution to the priest shortage Pope Francis proposed. In fact, it was the last.” By Mary Rezac, Catholic News Agency

Married priests would broaden perspective of Catholic Church
“Pope Francis is open to the possibility of ordaining married men as priests. But don’t get too excited. The Catholic Church moves at glacial speed, and a cadre of married priests won’t be joining the clerical ranks any time soon. My initial reaction was cynical. Ordaining married men seemed like a convenient way to shut women out. But, upon reflection, I decided that was unfair. Married priests would be a good thing for Roman Catholicism.” By Louise McEwan, Troy Media of Canada

VOICES

The Catholic Church’s child sexual abuse scandal revisited
“A few days ago in this space I kicked off Holy Week with an expression of dismay over the Catholic Church’s incorrigible ineptitude in dealing with its never-ending child sex abuse scandal. I wrote about being stunned over the Church’s legislative campaign to make it more difficult for people to sue their rapists and molesters.” By Bruce R. Nelson, “Let’s Think This Out” Blog

A new genre of civic literature: official reports of government inquiries into international cases of abuse of institutionalized children
“This is a story about institutional crime and social justice. At times, it may seem there is too much of the former and not enough of the latter. That’s the bad news. The good news is, when the institutional crime involves the abuse and exploitation of children, a number of different governments, in different countries, in different parts of the world, are finally beginning to do something. Unfortunately, the U.S. government is not one of them.” By Arthur McCaffrey, Los Angeles Review of Books

CHURCH FINANCES

Catholic priest who stole almost €60K from parish spared jail
“A Roman Catholic priest who stole £50,000 (€58,447) from his parish after falling in love with his housekeeper and lavishing gifts on her family has been spared jail. Judge Christopher Prince said Father John Reid's fraud was an ‘aberration’ which persisted over 40 months while he was in charge of St Cuthbert's Church in Chester-le-Street, County Durham.” By Tom Wilkinson, Irish Independent

Pope dismisses priest who stole $300K from bishop, hospital
“The Diocese of Manchester said Friday, April 7, that Pope Francis dismissed Arsenault from the priesthood on Feb. 28. Arsenault is serving a jail sentence after he was convicted of stealing thousands of dollars from a hospital, a bishop and a deceased priest's estate.” By Associated Press on Cruxnow.com

Rector charged with stealing money at Catholic priests’ home
“The rector of a church-owned retirement home for Roman Catholic priests has been charged with embezzling $535,000 to pay for casino visits, high-end dinners and Philadelphia Pops concerts. Federal prosecutors have charged Msgr. William A. Dombrow with skimming money for nearly nine years from an account meant to support Villa St. Joseph. The Philadelphia archdiocese runs the facility to house aging priests and those accused of sexual abuse. Much of the stolen money came from insurance payments for priests who died and from parishioners who left the facility money.” By Associated Press in The Washington Times
 -- Pennsylvania monsignor to plead guilty to embezzling $500,000, By David DeKok, Religion News Service

Italy puts Vatican on ‘clean’ financial institutions list, ending years of mistrust
“Italy put the Vatican on its ‘white list’ of states with cooperative financial institutions on Tuesday (Apr. 4), ending years of mistrust and providing an endorsement of efforts by Pope Francis to clean up the city state's banking sector. The list includes countries with which Italy has agreements on the exchange of financial and tax information, such as other EU member states.” By Philip Pullella, Reuters, in U.S. News & World Report

Diocese filing for bankruptcy to settle sex abuse claims
“A second Montana Roman Catholic diocese will file for bankruptcy protection as part of settlements involving more than 400 people in sex abuse lawsuits, church officials said Friday. The Diocese of Great Falls-Billings said it expected to make the Chapter 11 reorganization filing later in the day, and the diocese and its insurance carriers would contribute to a fund to compensate victims and set aside additional money for those who have not yet come forward.” By Amy Beth Hanson, Associated Press
 -- Great Falls-Billings Diocese becomes 15th to file for bankruptcy, By Dan Morris-Young

STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS REFORM

House seeks wider window for child sex abuse lawsuits
“The state House (North Carolina) will likely vote this week on a bill to lengthen the statute of limitations for civil lawsuits by victims of childhood sexual abuse. House Bill 585 had its first hearing Wednesday morning, passing the House Judiciary IV Committee by a unanimous vote.” By WRAL.com

A standard for sex abuse liability
Enabling victims of child sexual abuse to seek damages after they become adults is a no-brainer in concept. But the tortured path of a bill in the state Legislature to expand that opportunity demonstrates that the matter is far more complex in practice.” By Standard-Speaker Editorial Board

Child sex abuse survivors rally for 2-year retroactive window
Survivors of child sex abuse and their supporters took to the steps of the state capitol to ask lawmakers to pass their bill, one they are calling the ‘real deal.’ With his back to a row of reporters now facing his supporters, Rep. Mark Rozzi summed up why those wanting a statute of limitations reform stood together outside the Capitol Building on Monday (Apr. 3).” By Kody Leibowitz, WJAC-TV

CLERGY CHILD SEXUAL ABUSE

Report charges cover-up of sexual abuse by traditionalist society
“An explosive report airing tonight (Apr. 5) on Swedish television charges that the traditionalist Society of St. Pius X knew about at least three cases of its priests being accused of sexually abusing minors, but failed to enforce a 'zero tolerance' policy. An alleged victim told Crux he believes the Vatican should have done more to hold the society accountable.” By Ines San Martin, Cruxnow.com

Ending the horror of child abuse is crucial
“Last weekend (Apr. 15) on my radio show, I had the distinct honor of interviewing Angela Liddle, the president of the Pennsylvania Family Support Alliance, a heroic organization based in Harrisburg that lobbies on behalf of children who are in danger of being abused, or who have already suffered abuse.” By Christine Flower, Delaware County Daily Times

Renegade Catholic order in UK ‘harbors clergy accused of sexual abuse’
“A British Catholic priest who has been excommunicated twice by different popes is allegedly harboring clergy accused of sexual abuse in his renegade religious order. Richard Williamson, who was illicitly ordained as a bishop in 1988 by an ultra-conservative group, the Society of St Pius X, and later convicted of Holocaust denial by a German court, is now head of the ‘SSPX Resistance,’ based in Broadstairs, Kent.” By Harriet Sherwood, The Guardian
 -- Breakaway Catholic order ‘hides priests accused of sexual crimes’ in British coastal town, By RT.com

ILLINOIS

Chicago archdiocese pays $3.15 million to settle abuse suits
“The Archdiocese of Chicago will pay $3.15 million to settle lawsuits brought by three men who allege they were sexually abused by a notorious former pastor of a West Side Catholic church more than a decade ago, the plaintiffs' attorney said Wednesday (Apr. 13). The accusers, all identified in court papers as John Doe, said former priest and convicted sex offender Daniel McCormack sexually abused them more than once during their participation in an after-school program called S.A.F.E. at Our Lady of the Westside Catholic School.” By Manya Brachear Pashman, Chicago Tribune

MASSACHUSETTS

Eight clergy abuse victims receive $880,000 settlement
“The Diocese of Fall River has agreed to an $880,000 settlement with eight men who as children were sexually abused by a West Harwich priest, the victims’ attorney announced Monday. The late Rev. James Nickel, who served at Holy Trinity Parish in West Harwich, sexually abused at least eight boys in the early 1970s and 1980s, some as many as 50 times over several years. Attorneys for the men suspect there are more victims.” By Jan Ransom, The Boston Globe

MISSOURI

At sex abuse trial, St. Louis archbishop says he was unaware of priest’s sleepovers
“St. Louis Archbishop Robert Carlson testified Monday (Apr. 3) he told the Rev. Xiu Hui ‘Joseph’ Jiang to counsel a Lincoln County family about their participation in a rogue nun’s religious rituals but that he didn’t know the priest sometimes slept overnight at the family’s home.” By Joel Currier, St. Louis Post-Dispatch
 -- Jury sides with St. Louis Archdiocese, suspended priest in civil sex abuse trial, By Joel Currier, St. Louis Post-Dispatch

NEW YORK

All Saints teacher’s aide promised 60 years for child porn filmed at home

“A teacher's aide at All Saints Elementary School in Syracuse quietly admitted today (Apr. 19) that she exploited two young girls -- one less than a year old -- for child pornography at her home and at the school. Emily Oberst, 24, pleaded guilty to conspiracy and child porn charges in federal court today in exchange for a promised sentence of 60 years in prison. There is no parole in federal prison, so she will not be released early.” By Douglass Dowty, Syracuse.com

PENNSYLVANIA

Grand jury hears testimony about alleged abuse in Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh
“A grand jury has been meeting behind closed doors about sexual abuse allegations in the Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh. Jurors heard testimony on Tuesday (Apr. 11) during the secret proceedings about cases that could date back 70 years. Target 11’s Rick Earle learned one man who testified claims that he was abused by a priest and nun. Earle previously spoke with Johnny Hewko about the allegations. Hewko said he was abused over a nearly three-year span of time. ‘I'd have to say, on average, maybe once a week would be around right,’ he told Earle in February.” By WPXI-TV

AUSTRALIA

This Easter, it’s the Church that needs redemption
“In short, Jesus’ death and resurrection saves us from our sins. This Holy Week I won’t be at church. Don’t get me wrong. I’m no saint. I make no claim to sinlessness. I could use some of that forgiveness and redemption. But it is hard to take seriously a church that, in its very organization, seems so sinful. If Jesus’ death and resurrection imparts some saving grace to humanity, how is it that the very institution that is meant to mediate Christ to his followers can be so intrinsically flawed?” By Kristina Keneally, The Guardian

Act now against the criminals protected by the Catholic Church
“It is difficult to stop crying. A child sexual abuse expert from the US, Bruce Perry, simply picked a random example. He spoke via video link to the Royal Commission into Institutional ­Responses to Child Sexual Abuse; he was one of 36 experts in the field who gave evidence last week at the final public hearing of the royal commission, titled Case Study 57: Nature, Cause and Impact of Child Sexual Abuse. Perry’s example was of ‘a little five-year-old child and somebody is raping you,’ and he talked of what it does to the young mind.” By Chrissie Foster, The Australian

Victim advocate: The abuse scandal has broken the heart of the Catholic Church in Australia
“In this exclusive interview with ‘America,’ Francis Sullivan, the chief executive officer of the Australian Catholic Church’s ‘Truth, Justice, and Healing Council,’ reflects on what contributed to the abuse of minors by priests and religious in Australia, and what he thinks the Royal Commission that has been investigating this abuse might say in its report at the year’s end.” By Gerard O’Connell, America: The Jesuit Review

‘They were empty word’: abuse survivors lose faith in George Pell’s Roman vow
Survivor Paul Levey said he'd lost all faith in Cardinal Pell, who stood on the steps of the Hotel Quirinale in Rome last year, pledging to help the survivors and do something to stop suicides of victims in Ballarat … ‘He's [Cardinal Pell] done nothing since then,’ Mr Levey said. ‘They were empty words. He was just waiting for us to go away and hoping we couldn't come back.’” By Melissa Cunningham, The Age

‘The dirty linen is out there’: slow progress on sex abuse compensation frustrates victims and states
“After decades waiting for justice and recognition, survivors of Australia's legacy of institutional child sexual abuse are losing patience with the slow development of a major national compensation scheme. Nearly five months after Social Services Minister Christian Porter announced an opt-in redress system to run until 2028, state governments say no further detail has been provided and the Catholic Church's representative on a key advisory body has warned that political resistance to costly payouts will weaken any plan.” By Tom McIlroy, The Sydney Morning Herald

BELGIUM

Catholic Church in Belgium honors sex abuse victims
“The Catholic Church in Belgium on Saturday (Apr. 8) took part in a day of recognition for victims of sexual abuse by priests, seven years after a paedophile scandal rocked the institution.” By Agence France-Press on Inquirer.net

CANADA

Saskatchewan Roman Catholic priest sexual assault charge stayed
“A stay of proceedings has been granted in a sexual assault case against a Roman Catholic priest who served three rural parishes in northwestern Saskatchewan. Father Javier De Los Angeles Cortazar, 48, was charged in 2014 after an incident at a cabin near Goodsoil, Sask. The alleged victim's name was subject to a publication ban.” By Canadian Broadcasting Company

Late Ottawa Catholic bishop who managed sex abuse complaints now accused of sex abuse
“An Ottawa man says he was sexually abused in August 1979 by Bishop John Beahan, who was then one of the most powerful figures in the Archdiocese of Ottawa. The man, now 52, has launched a $2-million lawsuit against the Catholic archdiocese. It represents the first time that Beahan, once the second-highest-ranking member of the Ottawa clergy, has been named in a sex abuse lawsuit.” By Andrew Duffy, Ottawa Citizen

More victims of sexual abuse go after Moncton church for money
“After paying out millions of dollars in damages to more than 100 victims of sexual abuse, the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Moncton may owe even more money. Three new lawsuits have been filed in recent weeks by victims of sexual abuse against the priests accused of molesting them.” By Gabriele Fahmy, CBC News

COLOMBIA

Colombia’s Catholic Church shuns responsibility in potential child abuse cases
“A controversial document stipulating that priests are solely responsible in child abuse cases and not the church, has been circulated by the Catholic Church in Colombia, reported local media. So far only the archdiocese of the southwestern city of Cali has made its priests sign a document absolving their employer of all responsibility, which has once again opened the debate on liability in church pedophilia cases.” By Jamie Vaughan Johnson, Colombia Reports

GREAT BRITAIN, SCOTLAND & WALES

Catholic priest, 74, who repeatedly raped a young boy until he prayed for his own death is jailed for 17 years
“A Catholic priest who repeatedly raped a young boy until he prayed for his own death was today (Apr. 13) jailed for 17 years. Michael Higginbottom, 74, reveled in 'cruel, sadistic bullying' at St Joseph's College in Upholland, near Ormskirk, Lancashire. A court heard he used a strap and cane on boys as punishment and said he could 'make this as easy or as hard' as the victim wanted.” By Abe Hawken, Daily Mail
 -- Catholic priest goes on trial accused of sex abuse at Upholland seminary, By Lynda Roughley, Liverpool Echo
 -- Ex-Catholic school pupil who accused Darlington priest of sex abuse ‘made up the claims to get compensation,’ By Stuart Manning, The Northern Echo
 -- Was disgraced Darlington priest Michael Higginbottom at the center of a pedophile ring? By Joanna Morris, The Northern Echo

Catholic priest who allegedly abused boy sent to Bristol retreat near primary school
“A Catholic priest found guilty by his peers of sexually abusing a boy was transferred to a Bristol retreat near a primary school. The unnamed priest, known as 'Father S' and formerly a member of the traditionalist Catholic splinter group the Society of St. Pius X (SSPX), was accused of abusing a boy in 2006 while based in France.” By Lewis Pennock, Bristol Post

Child abuse inquiry to focus on Catholic Church homes
The second phase of the Scottish child abuse inquiry will investigate children's homes run by the Catholic Church. The inquiry is examining historical allegations about the abuse of children in care and has been taking statements from witnesses since last spring. Officials said the next phase, due to begin in autumn, will initially focus on homes run by the Daughters of Charity of St Vincent de Paul.” By STV News

GUAM

Apuron accusers meet with Vatican tribunal
“A former Agat altar boy and the mother of a now deceased altar boy testified before a Vatican tribunal for the canonical penal trial of Archbishop Anthony S. Apuron, who is accused of raping and sexually abusing four altar boys in the 1970s.” By Haidee Eugenio, Pacific Daily News

Archdiocese moves to dismiss 36 abuse cases
“The Archdiocese of Agana has asked the District Court of Guam to dismiss the 36 pending child sexual abuse cases that have been filed against it. The archdiocese contends the recently passed law, which prompted the filing of the suits, does not actually provide for claimants to file such actions against third parties.” By Neil Pang, The Guam Daily Post

Sunday marks 42nd week of protest demanding Apuron be defrocked
“Dressed not in Sunday's best, but with signs demanding Archbishop Anthony Apuron be defrocked. Sunday (Apr. 9) marked the 42nd week of pickets in front of the Hagatna Cathedral for members of the Concerned Catholics of Guam and the Laity Forward Movement. Apuron is four-times accused of sexually abusing former altar boys at Mt. Carmel Parish in Agat, resulting in lawsuits filed in the federal court.” By Krystal Paco, KUAM-TV

SNAP: Guam clergy sex abuse cases could reach 150-200
“The world’s largest network of priest abuse survivors says Guam’s clergy sex abuse cases could reach into the hundreds over the next couple of years, from 46 at present. Guam children were allegedly abused by Catholic clergy between 1956 and 1988, based on lawsuits filed in local and federal courts between Nov. 1 and April 6.” By Haidee Eugenio, Pacific Daily News

Three new clergy sex abuse cases filed
“Guam's clergy sex abuse cases increased to 45 on Wednesday (Apr. 5), with former priest Andrew Manetta named as a defendant in the two latest filings. Two men, identified only with their initials — ‘M.B.’ and ‘G.G.’ — to protect their privacy, alleged Manetta sexually molested them during sleepovers at the rectory of Santa Teresita Church in Mangilao, around 1986 to 1987, when they were altar boys, ages 13 and 14, respectively.” By Haidee Eugenio, Pacific Daily News

40th person accuses church of sex abuse
“A 40th victim has filed suit against the Archdiocese of Agana and the Boy Scouts of America Aloha Council. Plaintiff J.C.T. alleges he was 15-years-old in the early 1970s when he was sexually molested by his Boy Scout troop leader, Father Louis Brouillard.” By Krystal Paco, KUAM-TV

Judge recusals of clergy sex abuse cases mount
“Superior Court of Guam judges continue to recuse themselves from hearing Catholic clergy sex abuse cases, now that the local court is seeing a second wave of filings. As of March 30, local judges have filed 89 disqualification memos to avoid doubts about their partiality.” By Haidee Eugenio, Pacific Daily News

Guam’s Catholic Church faces two more lawsuits
“Two more lawsuits have been filed in Guam by men who say they were sexually abused by a former priest in the 1960s. The latest complaints bring the number of lawsuits for historical sexual abuse faced by the island's Catholic Church to 39. Most of the allegations are against the island's recused archbishop, Anthony Apuron, and a former priest, Louis Brouillard.” By Radio New Zealand

IRELAND

Historical abuse survivors continue to wait for compensation in Northern Ireland
Historical abuse survivors have accused Northern Ireland's politicians of putting their own needs before victims as they continue to wait for financial payments promised 17 months ago. Victims have warned that many have been left suicidal or facing financial ruin as the current Stormont impasse means that the findings and recommendations of a four-year inquiry into state and church abuse have still not been presented to the assembly.” By Sunday World

SPAIN

Spanish court clears priest in abuse case taken up by Pope Francis
Ending a sexual abuse case in which Pope Francis intervened three years ago, a Spanish court on Tuesday (Apr. 11) cleared a parish priest in Granada who had been accused of molesting an altar boy. The court found no evidence that the Rev. Román Martínez had sexually abused one of his former altar boys more than a decade ago.” By Raphael Minder, The New York Times