Keep the Faith, Change the Church.

Voice of the Faithful Focus, Aug. 12, 2016

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

TOP STORIES

Francis institutes commission to study female deacons, appointing gender-balanced membership
“Pope Francis has created a commission to study the possibility of allowing women to serve as deacons in the Catholic church, following up on a promise made last May in what could be an historic move towards ending the global institution's practice of an all-male clergy. The pontiff has appointed an equal number of male and female experts as members of the commission, which will be led by Archbishop Luis Francisco Ladaria, a Jesuit who serves as the second-in-command of the Vatican’s doctrinal congregation.” By Joshua J. McElwee, National Catholic Reporter

Australian police investigate abuse accusations against Cardinal George Pell
“Cardinal George Pell, the de facto Vatican treasurer and Australia’s most senior Catholic cleric, is being investigated in connection with multiple allegations of child sexual assault that date back four decades, a top police official said on Thursday (Jul. 28). The official, Graham Ashton, chief police commissioner of the Australian state of Victoria, confirmed a report by the government-run Australian Broadcasting Corporation …” By Brett Cole, The New York Times
 -- Cardinal Pell, Vatican finance minister, rejects latest abuse allegations, By Josephine McKenna, Religion News Service, in National Catholic Reporter
 -- Royal Commission into Catholic Church: What has it done? By Sean Britten, Brooke Taylor and Hans Lee, Australian Public Radio

Judge rejects bid to tap parishes, schools in archdiocese bankruptcy
“Catholic parishes, schools and other church properties cannot be included among the assets in the bankruptcy of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis, a federal judge ruled Thursday (Jul. 28). U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Robert Kressel denied the request by a committee representing clergy abuse victims to consolidate the assets of various entities linked to the archdiocese, which would have increased funds available to settle victims’ claims.” By Jean Hopfensperger, Star Tribune

30 million online child abuse images found
“Operation Lattise, which was carried out between 6 June and 15 July, has recovered as many as 30 million indecent images. It has involved 134 investigations which has led to raids on the homes of 83 suspects and resulted in the arrest of 77 people so far. They have been charged with offences including rape, sexual extortion, grooming and sharing indecent images of children - some as young as three.” By SkyNews on Sky.com

Ex-church official gets bail, prosecutor vows to retry him
“The city's top prosecutor vowed on Tuesday (Aug. 2) to retry a former church official imprisoned for nearly three years over his handling of abuse complaints, even though the monsignor's conviction has twice been overturned. Monsignor William Lynn was the first U.S. Roman Catholic Church official ever charged or convicted of helping to shield child molesters within its ranks.” By Maryclaire Dale, Associated Press
 -- Msgr. Lynn free on bail, Philadelphia DA pledges a retrial, By Brian Roewe, National Catholic Reporter
 -- Priest gets new trial date after child endangerment conviction overturned, By Andrew V. Pestano, UPI.com

WOMEN DEACONS

Members of Francis’ women deacons commission express diverse views
“The members of Pope Francis' new commission to study whether women might serve as deacons in the Catholic church have expressed a wide range of views on the subject in the past, with some clearly supportive of the possibility while others say there is no firm historical precedent to follow. Very few members of the commission -- comprising six men and six women and led by Vatican Archbishop Luis Ladaria -- have made public comments since their appointments were announced in a brief press release Aug. 2. But as many of the appointed experts are theologians or other kinds of academics, some -- like member and NCR contributor Phyllis Zagano of Hofstra University -- have written extensively on the subject in the past.” By Joshua J. McElwee, National Catholic Reporter

More on women deacons …
 -- Editorial: Thank the sisters for the deacons commission, By National Catholic Reporter Editorial Staff
 -- Pope sets up panel to study female deacons issue, By Associated Press in The New York Times
 -- Pope taps pro-women deacon advocates to new commission, By Ines San Martin, Cruxnow.com
 -- Female deacons in the Catholic Church? Pope Francis announces new commission to examine role of women in the Church, By Lydia Tomkiw, International Business Times
 -- ‘It could be a world-changing decision,’ member of new Vatican committee on female deacons says, By Julie Zauzmer, The Washington Post
 -- Pope Francis appoints panel to study women deacons: Q&A with a member, By Laurie Goodstein, The New York Times
 -- Pope Francis names panel to study ordaining women deacons, By Josephine McKenna, Religion News Service
 -- American named to women deacons panel feels like she won Oscar, By David Gibson, Religion News Service, on Cruxnow.com
 -- Pope Francis’ commission on women deacons involves ‘high stakes,,’ By Michael O’Loughlin, America: The National Catholic review
 -- The deacons commission: a grand jury to nowhere? By Ken Briggs, National Catholic Reporter

“AMORIS LAETITIA”

Amoris Laetitia controversies could be fruitful, says Cardinal Ouellet
“Cardinal Marc Ouellet has said Amoris Laetitia, the apostolic exhortation by Pope Francis, could lead to ‘fruitful’ debate. Speaking at the annual convention of the Knights of Columbus in Toronto, Cardinal Ouellet said: ‘In all honesty, I think that controversies around Amoris Laetitia are understandable, but, in all confidence, I believe they might even be fruitful in the end.’” By Catholic News Service on Cruxnow.com

Polish bishops vow to refuse communion to divorced and remarrieds
“A senior bishop has said that the Church in Poland will refuse communion to divorced and remarried Catholics despite the landmark family document from Pope Francis which opened up the possibility. Archbishop Stanislaw Gadecki, the President of the Polish Bishops’ Conference, said that giving communion could not be allowed following a period of pastoral discernment - something which Francis has advocated - adding that if remarried divorcees had a valid first marriage they cannot receive the Eucharist.” By Christopher Lamb, The Tablet

ACCOUNTABILITY

Twin Cities’ Hebda: Archdiocese’s response to abuse allegations was a failure, not a crime
“In the wake of the dismissal of criminal charges, the head of the St. Paul-Minneapolis archdiocese is maintaining its legal innocence in its response to abuse allegations concerning former priest Curtis Wehmeyer, drawing a distinct line between a failure and a crime. In addition, Archbishop Bernard Hebda stated he will not release the investigative report into sexual misconduct allegations raised against his predecessor Archbishop John Nienstedt, calling it "unwise" at this point.” By Brian Roewe, National Catholic Reporter

VOICES OF THE FAITHFUL

‘Cover-up culture’ serves church poorly
“Requirements for celibacy and the exclusion of women from the priesthood were areas the Catholic Church could consider as it grapples with issues of child sexual abuse. Former Dean of the North Coast Parish of the Catholic Church, John Dobson, speaking in the wake of the latest allegations leveled against Cardinal George Pell, said psychologists dealing with offending priests have raised issue with the benefits of enforced celibacy … Father Dobson said problems in the church were more about institutional culture rather than individual evil. It was, he said, a culture of cover-up and protection.” By Bill Hoffman, Sunshine Coast Daily

POPE FRANCIS

Francis asks media to withhold judgment on Cardinal Pell abuse claims
Pope Francis has asked the press to withhold judgment on reports that senior Vatican official Cardinal George Pell had inappropriate sexual contact with minors in the past, saying allegations against the prelate are still being investigated by Australian authorities. In a short press conference aboard the papal flight back from Poland Sunday (Jul. 31), the pontiff said the allegations against Pell ‘are in the hands of the justice system and one must not judge before the justice system judges.’” By Joshua J. McElwee, National Catholic Reporter

FUTURE OF THE CHURCH

Danbury immigrants buck trend of declining Catholic church attendance
“The number of Americans who identify as Catholic has shrunk in recent years, and Connecticut leads the nation in that decline. Danbury stands out in bucking that national and statewide trend, and the reason is immigration. Figures supplied by the Diocese of Bridgeport show that St. Peter, Our Lady of Guadalupe and Immaculate Heart of Mary churches all showed increases in attendance at Mass from 2011 to 2015. All other churches in the 16-parish region in northern Fairfield County showed a decline in Mass attendance.” By Claire Galvin, NewsTimes.com

New Hampshire parish set to offer traditional Latin Mass
“When he arrived in Manchester nearly four years ago, Bishop Peter Libasci started getting letters from parishioners looking for a church that offered a traditional Latin Mass. Few New Hampshire churches at the time offered the services, which date to the 15th century and had largely had been replaced since the 1960s by services in English, Spanish and French.” By Michael Casey, Associated Press on SFGate.com

Elgin, Rockford Diocese dealing with Catholic priest shortage
“Rev. Richard Rosinski is pastor at St. Thomas More Roman Catholic Church in Elgin, where he oversees a parish of approximately 2,800 households. For about a month, that parish's associate pastor, Rev. Louis Tosto, has been away covering duties at St. Paul the Apostle in Sandwich, where the pastor has taken ill. Tosto is expected to be away for three months, Rosinski said. ‘I'm not concerned, but his absence here does raise the issue of how we maintain ministry to those entrusted to us,’ Rosinski said. That issue is one that the Catholic Church is dealing with globally, including in the United States.” By Mike Danahey, Chicago Tribune

NUNS

Letters to sisters and invitations to Rome continue a conversation
“Being refined and tested by fire is never a comfortable process. So most women religious in the United States were relieved when the apostolic visitation came to an end on Dec. 16, 2014. But they had also been refined, purified and tested. Again and again they told Global Sisters Report they had been changed by the process and changed for the better. Now, as 15 communities are being invited to the Vatican for further discussions on issues discovered during the visitation, some of the same questions are being raised again.” By Dan Stockman, Global Sisters Report, National Catholic Reporter

CHURCH FINANCES

Financial scandal hits Catholic Church in Upper East
“Prominent figures at the Sacred Heart Cathedral, the biggest Catholic parish in the Upper East region, have blown the cover off what has been described as the biggest financial scandal to have rocked the Seat of the Bishop in decades. The leading parishioners, looking very furious in open protests in Bolgatanga, the regional capital where the cathedral is located, are bashing the authorities of the holy place very hard for ‘looting God’s money’ and for ‘abuse of the altar.’” By GhanaWeb.com

Priest sentenced to prison for $1.9 million theft from suburban Dayton church
“A 75-year-old Roman Catholic priest who pleaded guilty to stealing $1.9 million from a southwest Ohio church he led has been sentenced to five years in prison. The Rev. Earl Simone said he was sorry and that apologies aren't enough. His plea agreement also calls for him to pay restitution for stealing from St. Peter Catholic Church in Huber Heights between 2008 and 2015.” By Associated Press on Cleveland.com

Roman Catholic Priest charged with two counts of fraud
“A Roman Catholic priest from County Durham has been charged with two counts of fraud. Father John Reid, 69, who was parish priest at St Cuthbert's Church in Chester-le-Street, will appear before magistrates next month. Durham Police said the charges relate to allegations of an abuse of a position of trust.” By Tom Wilkinson, Sunderland Echo

CLERGY CHILD SEXUAL ABUSE

If child abuse were a disease, we’d see urgent action
“The resignation of Lowell Goddard as chair of the official inquiry into historical child sex abuse is an opportunity for us to now focus on the really critical issue. For the inquiry to be credible the whole purpose must be to learn the lessons from past institutional failures so that children now and in the future are effectively protected.” By Sue Berelowitz, The Guardian

Child abuse survivors will no longer face time limits to sue
“The passage of time will no longer be a barrier for ACT (Australian Capital Territory) survivors of child sexual abuse to sue institutions like the Catholic church for justice. The ACT government will introduce a bill on Tuesday (Aug. 2) to scrap time limits that prevent survivors from lodging civil claims too long after their abuse has occurred. Such time limits have been criticized as ‘clearly inappropriate’ for abuse victims, and fail to recognize the terrible psychological toll the crimes take. The current statute of limitations is six years, which begins when the young person turns 18.” By Christopher Knaus, The Canberra Times

Child sex-abuse remedies must protect, not just penalize
“Recently, four members of the state House of Representative (Patrick Harkins, Ryan Bizzarro, Mark Rozzi and Madeleine Dean, from districts 1, 3, 126 and 153, respectively) authored a letter in which they stated ‘we are disappointed by (Philadelphia) Archbishop Charles Chaput and seven other Pennsylvania bishops, arguing for the protection of church assets and dollars over justice for victims of child sexual abuse and for attempting to cast our vote (on House Bill 1947, sexual abuse lawsuit bill) as an attack on the church.’” Commentary by Robert H. Lechner, commentary in The Intelligencer on TheIntell.com

‘TRUST’ champions victims of clergy abuse in new play
“Hanson and his friend and artistic partner, John Woehrle, will bring a story of broken trust to The Black Box Theatre in St. Cloud this August in the form of Woehrle's stage play ‘TRUST.’ The play follows Michael, a seemingly well-adjusted graduate of a fictional Minnesota university, whose life and family are devastated by the lingering effects of abuse by a trusted member of the clergy.” By Alyssa Zaczek, SCTimes, USA TODAY

LOUISIANA

Appeals Court: Woman can testify about what she claims she told Baton Rouge-area priest in confession about being sexually abused
“A young woman who claims she was just 14 when she told a Baton Rouge-area Catholic priest that a longtime church parishioner was sexually abusing her, but that the priest did nothing to stop or report the alleged abuse, can tell a jury what she allegedly told the priest in a confession, a divided state appeals court ruled.” By Joe Gyan, Jr., The Advocate, Baton Rouge, Louisiana
 -- Unholy secrets: The legal loophole that allows clergy to hide child sexual abuse, By Jack Jenkins, ThinkProgree.org

Catholic priest arrested on child porn charges
“A Catholic priest was arrested Wednesday (Jul. 26) after investigators found more than 500 computer images of child pornography, state police said. The arrest of the Rev. Felix David Broussard, 50, was announced by state police and the Diocese of Lafayette. A state police news release said Broussard faces 500 counts of pornography involving juveniles. Broussard was taken to the St. Martin Parish jail, where he was released on $25,000 bond.” By Longview News-Journal
 -- Priest put on leave after child porn arrest, By Kim Chatelain, The Times-Picayune, on NOLA.com
 -- Bishop sought ‘transparency’ in putting priest on leave, By The Daily Advertiser

MASSACHUSETTS

Woman says Catholic school ignored sex abuse by teacher, coach
“A woman is filing a lawsuit claiming a former teacher sexually assaulted her for years, and claims school administrators knew it was happening and did nothing to stop it. According to the lawsuit, the unidentified victim claims former Marian High School physical education teacher and sports coach Diane Ryszewski sexually abused the then 14-year-old girl between 1975-1977. The victim claims the assaults occurred daily, according to the lawsuit.” By WCVB-TV

NEW YORK

Teacher out at Fordham Prep after school says ’84 sexual abuse claim is credible
“… That night, Mr. (Michael) Meenan said, a Fordham Prep teacher who had driven him to the party performed oral sex on him while he slept in a room along with others. When he woke up and pulled away, sliding beneath a coffee table, Mr. Meenan said, the teacher grabbed his leg and tried to drag him back … Now, 32 years after the episode, Fordham Prep has acknowledged Mr. Meenan’s account of abuse as credible and said the teacher he accused would not return to the school.” By Colin Moynihan, The New York Times
 -- New allegations of sexual abuse at Fordham Prep remind us that men can be victims, too, By Nora Caplan-Bricker, Slate

PENNSYLVANIA

15 priests accused of abuse had ties to Harrisburg diocese
“The Diocese of Harrisburg has acknowledged by name 15 priests who have been accused of sexually abusing children and who at one time worked in the diocese -- including one who served in Dallastown in 1989-90.” By Brandie Kessler, York Daily Record
 -- Clergy abuse and the Harrisburg diocese, By York Daily Record
 -- Report puts spotlight on child sex abuse involving Harrisburg diocese clergy, By Ivey DeJesus, PennLive.com

Awaiting new trial, Msgr. William Lynn to be paroled Oct. 16
“As he awaits a possible retrial, Msgr. William J. Lynn will be paroled Oct. 16 after three years in prison for his now-overturned conviction in the Catholic clergy sex abuse case. In a motion filed Wednesday (Jul. 27) for Lynn's immediate release on bail, defense lawyer Thomas A. Bergstrom wrote that Lynn, 65, learned last week from the state Board of Probation and Parole that he will be paroled effective Oct. 16.” By Joseph A. Slobodzian, Philadelphia Inquirer, on Philly.com
 -- With release from prison likely Tuesday (Aug. 2), will Monsignor Lynn face retrial? By Ralph Cipriano, PhillyVoice.com

AUSTRALIA

Jurors told ‘veil of silence’ lifted during trial of Catholic priest on child sex charges
“John Patrick Casey had been a police chaplain for two decades before he was arrested in July last year and charged on 27 counts relating to 18 allegations of child sexual abuse. The 68-year-old is accused of molesting three boys on four separate occasions when each was staying with him at the Mallanganee Presbytery, west of Casino in northern New South Wales, in the mid 1980s.” By ABC News Australia

Catholic Church housed pedophile Christian Brothers on same inner-city property it rents as function center
“The Catholic Church has housed a string of paedophile Christian Brothers on the same inner-city property it rents out as a family-friendly function center. A Fairfax Media investigation has revealed the Christian Brothers have been housing child sex offenders next to the Treacy Centre wedding and conference facility in Parkville since it opened three decades ago.” By Beau Donelly and Chris Vedelgo, The Age

Vatican representative vows to move city from ‘evil past’
“The first Vatican representative to meet with clergy abuse survivors on Ballarat soil has vowed to do all humanly possible to help move the city forward from its ‘evil’ past. President of the commission for child protection of the Gregorian University Father Hans Zollner vowed to continue to work with survivors deeply affected by the scourge of abuses … Father Zollner personally backed Cardinal Pell’s March vow to work publicly to assist survivors to make the city a leading healing center for victims impacted by the Catholic Church's scourge of sexual abuse at the hands of clergy.” By Olivia Shying, The Courier, Ballarat, Australia

Abuse focus on NSW Hunter region
“The Hunter Valley in NSW, best known for its wine industry, is about to become the focus of major inquiries into pedophile activity by Anglican and Catholic clergy. On Wednesday (Jul. 27), the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse confirmed that within weeks of an inquiry into an alleged pedophile ring operating in the Anglican Diocese of Newcastle it will open an investigation into the Catholic Church in the Hunter.” By Annette Blackwell, Australian Associated Press on au.news.yahoo.com

FRANCE

French probe into cardinal abuse cover-up dismissed
“A French prosecutor on Monday (Aug. 1) dismissed a probe into allegations that Cardinal Philippe Barbarin covered up the sexual abuse of Scouts, in a case which shook the country's Catholic Church. Barbarin, the archbishop of Lyon in central France since 2002, had been accused of failing to remove a priest from his diocese when he became aware the man had sexually abused young boys 25 years ago.” By Agence France Presse in The Daily Star

GREAT BRITAIN

Ex-Catholic priest who worked at children’s care home admits 27 counts of child sex assault
(Aug. 9, 2016) “A former Catholic priest and children’s home worker has pleaded guilty to 27 charges of historical sexual assault against minors during the 1970s in London. Philip Temple, ages 66 of no fixed address, admits abusing 12 boys and one girl while working in several south London care homes and a north London church.” By William Watkinson, International Business Times

GUAM

Priest says he was told to say prayers for abusing boys
“A 95-year-old Catholic priest admitted to sexually abusing boys decades ago on Guam. He said he confessed his sins to other priests on the island at the time but none told him to specifically stop. Instead, the Rev. Louis Brouillard said in a telephone interview with The Associated Press on Saturday morning that the other priests told him to ‘do better’ along with regular penance, such as saying Hail Mary prayers.” By Grace Garces Bordallo, Associated Press

73-year-old accuses Guam clergy members of sexual abuse
“Another person has come forward, alleging members of Guam's Catholic clergy of sexual molestation. Born in 1943, Leo Tudela, originally from Saipan, openly wept before the community as he detailed a series of traumatic events involving clergy after he came to Guam to attend Catholic school in the summer of 1956.” By Jason Salas, KUAM.com
 -- Another priest, two other church members accused of sex abuse, By Haidee V. Eugenio, Pacific Daily News

Archbishop disavows predecessor’s statements on sex abuse
“Archbishop Savio Hon Tai-Fai, the temporary administrator appointed to Guam by the Vatican in early June, is disavowing the church from statements made by his predecessor, who is facing sexual abuse allegations. In a news conference in Guam on Wednesday (Jul. 26), Hon said former Archbishop Anthony Apuron’s prior statements were not consistent the way the church approaches allegations of abuse. He said he recants and retracts all of Apuron’s statements.” By Grace Garces Bordallo, Associated Press, in The Washington Post