Keep the Faith, Change the Church.

Voice of the Faithful Focus, Aug. 7, 2015

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


TOP STORIES

Milwaukee archdiocese settles for $21 million with abuse victims
“The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Milwaukee said Tuesday (Aug. 4) that it will pay $21 million to more than 300 victims of clergy abuse in a settlement that would end a four-year bankruptcy proceeding … Attorney Jeff Anderson, who represents 350 of the approximately 570 people with bankruptcy claims, criticized the archdiocese for trying to have hundreds of claims thrown out of court before a November bankruptcy hearing. As a result, the creditors’ committee was forced to prevent the case from being drawn out any longer, Anderson said.” By Scott Bauer, Associated Press, in The Boston Globe
 -- Milwaukee archdiocese to give $21 million to survivors of clergy sexual abuse, By Marie Rohde, National Catholic Reporter
 -- 330 to share $21 million in abuse settlement with Milwaukee archdiocese, By Mitch Smith, The New York Times
 -- Milwaukee’s rancorous Catholic Church abuse case may finally be settled, By National Public Radio

Victims’ advocates hope pope looks into Newark archbishop
“Priests, nuns, and canon lawyers who advocate for molestation victims urged Pope Francis on Wednesday (July 29) to use the new Vatican tribunal he formed on negligent bishops to investigate the archbishop of Newark, who has long been accused of sheltering abusive priests.” By Rachel Zoll, Associated Press, on Cruxnow.com, also in The Boston Globe
 -- Abuse whistleblowers seek Vatican inquiry of Newark Archbishop Myers, By Brian Roewe, National Catholic Reporter

In search of Cardinal Bernard Law
“When Bernard Cardinal Law, Archbishop of Boston, fled to the Vatican in 2002, he left behind a trail of human and financial wreckage: 550 victims abused by parish priests and court judgments that eventually topped $85 million. Meanwhile, Law was assigned a comfortable post in Rome, where he disappeared from the headlines.” By Phillip Martin, WGBH-FM

Trailer debuts for ‘Spotlight’ film on Boston Globe sex abuse investigation
“The first trailer released Wednesday (July 29) for the film ‘Spotlight,’ which follows the Boston Globe's investigation into clergy sexual abuse in the Boston archdiocese in the early 2000s. The investigation began in 2001 and published its first stories in January 2002. The reports ultimately led to the resignation of Cardinal Bernard Law in December of that year … The investigation won the newspaper the 2003 Pulitzer Prize for Public Service.” By Brian Roewe, National Catholic Reporter

Do the U.S. bishops get it?
“It’s been 30 years since Jason Berry broke the Catholic sex abuse story by courageously reporting on the case of serial abuser Fr. Gilbert Gauthe in Louisiana … The National Catholic Reporter immediately took the plunge and before long the mainstream media lost its fear of reporting how bishops systematically put the protection of their clergy and their church’s reputation ahead of the protection of minors.” By Mark Silk, Religion News Service

ACCOUNTABILITY

Prosecutors move to have ex-priest declared ‘sexually dangerous’
“A former Catholic priest who was at the center of the sexual abuse crisis in the Boston Archdiocese could remain in custody even though he has completed his prison sentence, as Essex prosecutors push for him to be declared a dangerous sexual predator. Ronald H. Paquin pleaded guilty in 2002 and received a 12-to-15-year sentence for repeatedly raping a Haverhill altar boy between 1989 and 1992. He completed the sentence for three counts of rape of a child in late May, officials said, but remains in confinement until his status is resolved.” By John R. Ellement, The Boston Globe
 -- Expert testifies that local priest who raped child remains a danger, By Milton J. Valencia, The Boston Globe

BISHOPS

Bishops have striven to keep their promise to protect children
“As a bishop and as the chairman of the Committee for the Protection of Children and Young People of the U.S. Catholic Conference of Bishops, the editorial ‘Time to end pattern of deceit, denial’ was profoundly painful to read, addressing as it did the betrayal of our children and of our people by some of my brother bishops.” By Edward J. Burns, National Catholic Reporter

SYNOD OF BISHOPS ON THE FAMILY

Cardinal says Synod on family must not reduce ‘word of Jesus’
“The Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) has said that the October meeting of the Synod of Bishops must avoid ‘reducing the word of Jesus’ and the teaching of the Church, reports Catholic Culture. In a wide-ranging interview with katholisch.de, Cardinal Gerhard Müller spoke about the challenges facing the Synod, the reported apparitions at Medjugorje, the efforts to reconcile the traditionalist Society of St Pius X (SSPX), and his own role at the Vatican’s doctrinal agency.” By CathNews.com

VOICES

23,000 sign petition for Catholic teacher’s reinstatement
“Margie Winters, accompanied by about 50 supporters and carrying a box of petitions signed by 23,000 people who want her reinstated as a Catholic school educator, could not get in the front door. The Archdiocese of Philadelphia's Center City offices were on lockdown Monday (Aug. 3) afternoon. A security guard politely but firmly refused to allow Winters to enter the building.” By Chris Brennan, Philadelphia Inquirer

FUTURE OF THE CHURCH

Gay priest fired from university job gets new post at New Jersey parishes
“A gay Catholic priest who was dismissed from his position as campus chaplain at Seton Hall University because of his work against anti-gay bullying has been named to a job serving two parishes after weeks of uncertainty over his fate.” By David Gibson, Religion News Service

Catholic church closings in New York bring sadness and anger
“At Our Lady of Peace on the Upper East Side of Manhattan on Friday (July 31), Janice Dooner Lynch, a lifelong member of the congregation, looked out at tearful parishioners who had gathered for the church’s final Mass.” By Tatiana Schlossberg, The New York Times

Bishop comments on priest shortage, evangelism and Pope Francis
“While still getting to know the Roman Catholic Diocese of Greensburg, Bishop Edward Malesic commented on several topics affecting the Church.” By Frances Borsodi Zajac, Greensburg Herald-Standard

Appeals court hears arguments in 11-year Scituate church occupation
“Parishioners occupying a long-closed Catholic church south of Boston had their day before the state Appeals Court on Wednesday (July 23) as they sought to overturn a judge's ruling that ordered them to end their nearly 11-year, round-the-clock protest vigil.” By Associated Press in Milford Daily News

POPE FRANCIS VISITS THE U.S.

Pope to America: Don’t take this the wrong way, but …
“The U.S. ambassador to the Holy See believes Pope Francis is not traveling to the United States in September to scold anyone, but to challenge the country’s people to live up to their ideals.” By Cindy Wooden, Catholic News Service, on CatholicPhilly.com

Will Pope Francis’ strong message meet resistance in U.S.?
“Those looking for clues of what to expect from Pope Francis when he visits Cuba and the United States at the end of September should study his trip to Latin America … People sense that the pope is on fire, not with an economic critique per se, but with the Holy Spirit, and that the economic critique comes not from time spent reading but from time spent praying … In September, we will see how that plays in the United States.” By Michael Sean Winters, National Catholic Reporter

Hispanic Catholic energized by Argentinian pope’s first visit to U.S.
Enthusiasm is growing among Hispanic Catholics in New York, Philadelphia, and Washington, DC over Argentine-born Pope Francis’ first US visit. Many are inquiring about tickets to see him during his stops in the three cities, with many planning to attend the World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia, where the pope will speak.” By Claudia Torrens, Associated Press, on Cruxnow.com

Pope’s visit to Philly will ‘invigorate the church’
“The woman in charge of organizing Pope Francis' autumn visit to Philadelphia says people in the city chosen as his final destination can't wait to greet the pontiff. ‘The city is alive with excitement around this, everybody is excited,’ Farrell told CBS News correspondent Mireya Villarreal.” By CBS News, Philadelphia

Pope’s visit to the East Harlem School highlights church’s challenges
The Vatican announced this month (July) that Pope Francis will visit the former parish’s school (Our Lady Queen of Angels, Harlem), which continues to operate around the corner and serves about 290 mostly poor immigrant children. The decision to include the school in the pope’s three-city itinerary in September, when he visits the United States for the first time, fits with Francis’ efforts to focus the church on the poor and marginalized. But it will also cast a spotlight on the challenges facing the Roman Catholic Church in New York and across the country.” By Joshua Jamerson, The New York Times

POPE FRANCIS & THE CHURCH

Pope Francis is not a feminist: why Catholicism’s liberal icon falls far short on women’s issues
(July 26, 2015) “What self-respecting progressive doesn’t love Pope Francis? Though Francis’s popularity among conservatives has nosedived of late, his ratings among liberals remain sky-high. Liberal journalists seem the most enamored of all. For the past two years, they’ve produced a steady stream of gushing tributes to Francis, praising him as ‘visionary,’ a ‘flaming liberal’ and even ‘radical.’” By Kathleen Geier, Salon

NUNS

A case of secrecy and self-silencing
LCWR missed a golden opportunity to help move the church hierarchy toward transparency, which is increasingly being called for in civil and ecclesial arenas. Transparency is a means of accountability to the faith community. Instead, LCWR and the doctrinal congregation followed the old model of a closed and secret system — a process that the Vatican has used for centuries to rule and intimidate.” By Jeannine Gramick, Global Sisters Report

CHURCH FINANCES

Diocese wants to hold ‘bling’ bishop accountable for excesses
“A German Catholic diocese wants to take episcopal responsibility to a new level by making its disgraced former ‘bishop of bling’ responsible for the 3.9 million euros ($4.9 million) in losses incurred during the luxury makeover of his residence and office. Bishop Franz-Peter Tebartz-van Elst earned the ‘bling’ label in 2013 when aides revealed he had spent 31 million euros ($34 million) — over six times the original estimate — on the stately complex opposite the Romanesque cathedral in Limburg, north of Frankfurt.” By Tom Heneghan, Religion News Service

WOMEN IN THE CHURCH

Women’s longtime protests at Mass decrying discrimination, war receive bishop’s praise
“Recalling saint reformers of the past, John Ricard, bishop emeritus of Pensacola-Tallahassee, Fla., recently praised a small group of women who, for years, have stood in silent protest during Mass each week, appealing for an end to the church's discrimination against women and complicity in war. ‘I want to thank you for standing, for your witness,’ Ricard said. ‘You are a sign that the church can change. There have been others who were reformers -- Ignatius, Teresa of Avila. Thank you for believing in the church and working to change it from within.’” By Claire Schaeffer-Duffy, National Catholic Reporter

CLERGY CHILD SEXUAL ABUSE

Tom Doyle addresses priest sex abuse survivors
Dominican Father Thomas Doyle, who has worked with survivors of priest sex abuse for more than three decades, said Friday he continues to grapple with its full dimensions. ‘It just seems too big to get my head around,’ he said. Dolye spoke Friday (July 31) at the 2015 gathering of SNAP (Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests), which drew several hundred abuse survivors and supporters to the Westin Alexandria hotel here.” By Thomas C. Fox, National Catholic Reporter

Time to get the facts right about child sexual abuse
“Since 2012, when Victoria Detective Sergeant Kevin Carson said up to 43 people might have committed suicide due to sexual abuse by Catholic clergy, the church has faced an intense backlash. Later that year, then deputy commissioner Graham Ashton repeated that figure to the state’s parliamentary inquiry into institutional abuse. Police now admit clerical abuse contributed to one suicide.” Editorial by The Australian

ILLINOIS

Church turned in prominent priest over possibly criminal sexual images
Suspicious material found on the computer of a prominent pastor has resulted in an investigation and the removal of Rev. Octavio Munoz Capetillo from his position at St. Pancratius Church in Brighton Park. The Archdiocese of Chicago released a statement this week (week of Aug. 3), picked up by ABC7, notifying the public of Capetillo’s dismissal on July 27 after ‘sexual images and material’ were found in his possession, though no further details were released about the nature of the items.” By Selena Fragassi, Chicago News

MICHIGAN

Catholic diocese removes priest from church serving CMU for ‘boundary violations’
“The Catholic Diocese of Saginaw has removed a priest from the parish serving Central Michigan University after it says he committed ‘boundary violations.’ The diocese announced it had placed the Rev. Denis Heames, who served as parochial administrator for St. Mary University Parish in Mount Pleasant, on administrative leave in early July. The parish serves the campus of Central Michigan University.” By Jessica Shepherd, MLive.com

MINNESOTA

Interim Archbishop Hebda: flood of abuse claims is ‘staggering’
A day after the deadline for filing clergy abuse claims against the St. Paul and Minneapolis archdiocese, interim Archbishop Bernard Hebda described the number of victims who stepped forward as ‘staggering.’ ‘It’s helped me to realize how much pain there can be out there on these issues, that there can be 407 people carrying these burdens,’ said Hebda, who became interim archbishop of the St. Paul and Minneapolis Archdiocese in June.” By Jean Hopfensperger, Star Tribune

Whistleblower files defamation claim against archdiocese
“Whistleblower Jennifer Haselberger has filed a claim against the Twin Cities archdiocese for at least $50,000 for alleged defamation. The claim filed Monday (Aug. 3) in the archdiocese's bankruptcy case said the defamation occurred after June 6, 2014. It did not elaborate.” By Madeleine Baran, Minnesota Public Radio

Attorney says sex abuse claims against Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis surpass 400
Clergy sex abuse claims against the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis poured in as the 5 p.m. deadline approached Monday (Aug. 3). By the end of the day, the scope of the church’s problem was more clear: Attorneys counted more than 400 claims. Attorneys representing sex abuse victims had been working around the clock to prepare the claims, stemming from the sexual abuse of children by dozens of Catholic priests over decades.” By Jean Hopfensperger, Star Tribune

Priest says archdiocese offered him $10K to leave clergy
“Earlier this year, the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis offered to give a priest who had been convicted of sexual misconduct $10,000 in exchange for leaving the priesthood, according to a court filing by the priest. The Rev. John Bussmann made the allegation in a claim submitted Monday (Aug. 3) as part of the archdiocese's bankruptcy case. He said the archdiocese owes him $680,365 in unpaid salary, living expenses and other support. Bussmann, 61, refused the archdiocese's $10,000 offer to leave the priesthood …” By Madeleine Baran, Minnesota Public Radio

Crosier abuse lawsuits involve clergy who worked and abused throughout Minnesota
“Civil lawsuits were filed today (July 28) by two men who were sexually abused as minors by clergy at Crosier Seminary in Onamia, Minn. Doe 51 and Doe 56 were molested by multiple priests and brothers of the Canons Regular of the Order of the Holy Cross (‘Crosier’) religious order. Several of the clergy named in the complaints also interacted with and sexually abused children throughout Minnesota, including at parishes and schools in the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis, and the Diocese of St. Cloud.” By AndersonAdvocates.com

PENNSYLVANIA

Former altar boy sues Philly priest he accused of abuse
“A 27-year-old former altar boy has sued a Roman Catholic priest whose two sexual assault trials ended in hung juries. The Philadelphia Inquirer reports the lawsuit was filed July 10 against the Rev. Andrew McCormick and the Archdiocese of Philadelphia. It seeks unspecified damages for emotional harm.” By Associated Press on NewsWorks.org

AUSTRALIA

Bishop Geoffrey Robinson to give evidence to royal Commission
“Retired Bishop Geoffrey Robinson, an architect of the Church's response to clergy sex abuse, will give evidence to the child abuse Royal Commission in Sydney later this month, reports AAP on SBS. Bishop Robinson will detail his discussions with senior Vatican officials and the Church's response to child sex abuse before the 1996 establishment of Towards Healing, its national internal scheme for handling abuse complaints. By CathNews.com

Catholic Church failing to honor royal commission compassion pledge, alleged sex abuse victim Gina Swannell says
“A woman who alleges she suffered horrific child sexual abuse at the hands of a priest has accused the Catholic Church of failing to honor its pledge to treat victims with more compassion. Gina Swannell is suing the church for damages in relation to sexual abuse she allegedly suffered when she was six years old at the St Francis Xavier boarding school in Urana, New South Wales.” By Lorna Knowles, ABC News Australia

George Pell to appear at abuse commission
“Cardinal George Pell, and a bishop who was aware Australia's worst pedophile priest had abused boys when he moved him between parishes, will tell a royal commission what they knew about widespread abuse in the Ballarat diocese. Cardinal Pell has already agreed to return from the Vatican to give evidence during the second stage of a public hearing into clergy abuse in the Victorian regional center, which will be held in Melbourne from November 23.” By SkyNews.com.au

Catholic Church prioritized protection reputation above children in Ballarat abuse case, senior sergeant says
“A senior sergeant on the 1990s Victoria Police attempt to charge a bishop with covering up the crimes of paedophile priests has broken his silence, saying the Catholic Church he encountered was more concerned with ‘brand protection’ than protecting vulnerable children.”
By Louise Milligan, ABC News Australia
 -- Father Ronald Mulkearns, ex-Catholic bishop of Ballarat testifies in priest’s child sex case, By Shannon Deery, Herald Sun
 -- Ronald Mulkearns, former bishop of Ballarat, compelled to front child abuse royal commission, By Margaret Paul, ABC News Australia

What do priests think of the Royal Commission
Private commissions are being held around the country this week as part of the Royal Commission into Institutional Child Sexual Abuse. The Catholic Church has been the subject of many hearings, yet you don't often hear from those on the ground within the church.” By ABC News Australia

FRANCE

French man convicted of sexually assaulting girl claims abuse by Catholic priest turned him into pedophile; sues Vatican for $54K
“An elderly French man who has been convinced of sexually assaulting a 15-year-old girl has said that sex abuse he suffered as a child at the hands of a Roman Catholic priest turned him into a pedophile. The man added that he is suing the Vatican for $54,000. Emmanuel Ludot, the lawyer for the 64-year-old French man who was not named, told France's RTL channel that his client is demanding punishment for the 82-year-old priest who abused him.” By Stoyan Zaimov, Christian Post

GREAT BRITAIN, SCOTLAND & WALES

National Catholic Safeguarding Commission: Annual Report 2014-2015
The seventh Annual Report outlining the work of the National Catholic Safeguarding Commission (NCSC) and the Catholic Safeguarding Advisory Service (CSAS) has been released.

Church safeguarding body announces partnership with abuse survivors
“A panel of survivors of clerical abuse is to be set up to help put the voice of the victims at the heart of the work of the National Catholic Safeguarding Commission (NCSC). The creation of the new panel was described this week by the commission’s acting chairman Christopher Pearson as an important new development. ‘It will significantly inform and influence the work of the NCSC and help improve the Church’s pastoral support for those hurt by abuse,’ he said.” By Joanna Moorhead, The Tablet

NEW ZEALAND

Catholic priests who abused New Zealand children will not be investigated
“Four Catholic priests or brothers have never faced justice for sexually abusing children, despite the church accepting their guilt. The Roman Catholic Church in New Zealand has, for the first time, revealed the number of sexual abuse claims it has received, many of which are still being investigated. They show the number of people coming forward is growing every year, decades after they were abused. But few, if any, are resulting in fresh complaints to police.” By Ben Heather, Stuff.co.nz