Keep the Faith, Change the Church.

Voice of the Faithful Focus, Feb. 27, 2020


TOP STORIES

Amazon Catholics pledge to press on after Pope says no to married priests
“Catholic communities across the Amazon said they would keep pushing for married men to be allowed to celebrate Mass in the remote rainforest region, after a papal decision on Wednesday (Feb. 12) blocked their path to the priesthood. In one of the most significant decisions of his papacy, Pope Francis on Wednesday dismissed the proposal designed to ease an acute scarcity of priests in the Amazon, where the Roman Catholic Church faces growing competition from Evangelical Christian faiths.” By Gabriel Stargardter and Maria Cervantes, Reuters

Defrocked priest appeals conviction for sex crimes in Maine
“A former Catholic priest is appealing his conviction for sexually abusing a young boy on trips to Maine in the 1980s. Ronald Paquin, now 77, was found guilty in 2018 of 11 counts of gross sexual misconduct. A York County jury acquitted him of similar charges related to a second boy. A judge sentenced him last year to 20 years in prison with all but 16 years suspended. Paquin was one of the priests exposed in the early 2000s by a sweeping Boston Globe investigation into clergy sex abuse.” By Megan Gray, Portland Press Herald

Cardinal McCarrick secretly gave nearly $1 million to group led by cleric accused of sexual misconduct
“In the years before his removal from ministry, Cardinal Theodore McCarrick secretly gave nearly $1 million to a controversial group of Catholic missionaries and supported leniency for its founder after the Vatican punished him for sexual wrongdoing, internal church documents show. From 2004 to 2017, McCarrick sent the Institute of the Incarnate Word dozens of checks — some as large as $50,000 — from a charitable account he controlled at the Archdiocese of Washington, according to ledgers obtained by The Washington Post.” By Shawn Boburg and Robert O’Harrow, Jr., The Washington Post

Survivor advocacy group accuses pope of cherry-picking abuse reforms
“As the one-year mark of Pope Francis’s landmark summit on child protection approaches, survivors of clerical abuse are arguing that the pope, while taking positive steps, is inconsistent in his response to the problem. Survivors have also called for the publication of the report on the Vatican’s lengthy investigation into former cardinal Theodore McCarrick and criticized Francis for apparently backing out of a commitment to a zero-tolerance approach to the issue.” By Elise Ann Allen, Cruxnow.com

Pennsylvania diocese, facing more abuse claims, files for bankruptcy
“The Diocese of Harrisburg in Pennsylvania filed for bankruptcy on Wednesday (Feb. 19), becoming the latest Roman Catholic diocese to seek protection from creditors as it faces tens of millions of dollars in outstanding claims from people who were sexually abused by clergy members. The diocese’s Chapter 11 filing came nearly two years after a devastating state grand jury report found that bishops and other leaders of the Catholic Church in Pennsylvania covered up child sexual abuse by more than 300 priests over a period of 70 years, persuading victims not to report the abuse and law enforcement agencies not to investigate it.” By Michael Levenson, The New York Times

ACCOUNTABILITY

Survivors stunned after Bishop Scharfenberger celebrates Mass with abusive priests
“Survivors of sexual abuse by priests in the Diocese of Buffalo reacted with outrage and despair Tuesday (Feb. 25) to news that interim Bishop Edward B. Scharfenberger celebrated Mass the day before with multiple priests the diocese admits are credibly accused of child sexual abuse. Scharfenberger invited priests of the diocese to Mass and lunch at St. Leo the Great in Amherst on Monday. At the Mass, dozens of priests dressed in robes and concelebrated, or shared the Mass and Eucharist with, the Rev. Fabian J. Maryanski. By Charlie Specht, WKBW-TV7 News

Pope urges church workers to fight child abuse, even when facing threats
“In a video message sent to an abuse prevention formation center in Mexico, Pope Francis condemned the fact there are people willing to hire a hit man to stop abuse prevention and child protection. ‘You will be misunderstood, [some] will tell you are wasting your time,’ Francis says in the video sent to the Center for Interdisciplinary Research and Formation for the Protection of Minors (CEPROME), an interdisciplinary center for child protection at the Pontifical University of Mexico. ‘You will be threatened, because there are those who are threatened. More than one will tell you that they are capable of hiring a hit man to clean up the field.”’ By Inés San Martin, Cruxnow.com

How a committee report offered comfort to sex abuse survivors
“In 2018 Bishop Christopher Coyne of Burlington, Vermont, announced that he would be forming a committee comprised of lay people to produce a report which would list those priests who had been credibly accused of abusing children. When I read that, I emailed him offering to serve on the committee. I have spent my entire career, almost 40 years, in the field of child protection and safety, I am a Catholic, and I knew Bishop Coyne from prior matters. He emailed back, ‘Thank you, because I was going to ask you.’” By Mark Redmond, National Catholic Reporter

POPE FRANCIS

Disappointment, anger over Papal document on the Amazon
“Pope Francis' apostolic exhortation on the Amazon disappointed those hoping for an opening of clerical roles to married men and women, with many noting that the pope failed to extend his prophetic voice about environmental injustice to injustices in his own house, the church. Many women were especially outraged over the document's language of complementarity. Querida Amazonia (‘Beloved Amazon’), the pope's response to last October's Synod of Bishops, did not grant the bishops' request to open priestly ordination to married men and the possibility of women deacons, both in an effort to address the severe lack of ministers in the nine nations of that region.” By Heidi Schlumpf, National Catholic Reporter

Pope shares with U.S. bishops his frustration with reaction to Amazon text
“Pope Francis told a group of U.S. bishops that, like them, he is accused of not being courageous or not listening to the Holy Spirit when he says or does something someone disagrees with — like not mentioning married priests in his document on the Amazon. ‘You could see his consternation when he said that for some people it was all about celibacy and not about the Amazon,’ said Bishop William A. Wack of Pensacola-Tallahassee.” By Catholic News Service in National Catholic Reporter

CARDINALS

Cardinal Tobin says he wants transparency, but is silent about result of some sex abuse cases
“A Catholic Church tribunal has arrived at a long-awaited decision in the case of Monsignor George Trabold — more than five years after he stepped down as pastor of a Millburn parish amid allegations of child sex abuse from decades earlier during his time at a parish in Bergen County. But the Newark Archdiocese declined last week to reveal the verdict in the internal canonical trial.” By Abbott Koloff, NorthJersey.com

CARDINAL PELL

Australian High Court releases submissions for Cardinal Pell’s appeal
“Australia’s High Court has released the full set of submissions for Cardinal George Pell’s March 11 and 12 final appeal hearing against historic child sexual abuse crimes. The first appeal by Pell - who continues to claim he is innocent - was dismissed 2-1 by a panel of judges of the Victorian Supreme Court in August. The documents released in late February show that the High Court requested submissions from Pell’s counsel about the fact that the three judges of the Victorian court decided to view the original video testimony from Pell’s only living victim as they considered his appeal.” By Catholic News Service on Cruxnow.com

Cardinal Pell appeal hearing set for March
“The High Court has set a date to hear Cardinal George Pell’s appeal against his convictions for abusing two choirboys in 1996 while he was Archbishop of Melbourne. The case will be heard on March 11 and 12 in Canberra. Cardinal Pell, 78, was convicted on five charges — one count of sexual penetration of a child under the age of 16 and four counts of committing an indecent act with, or in the presence of, a child. In March last year he was sentenced to six years’ jail, with a non-parole period of three years and eight months.” By CathNews.com

BISHOPS

Archbishop Coleridge in Rome for meetings on seal of confession, plenary council and Cardinal Pell
“Brisbane Archbishop Mark Coleridge has started a two-week-long trip to Rome that will include high-level Vatican talks on the Plenary Council 2020, Cardinal George Pell and the Holy See’s response to Australia’s Royal Commission into child sexual abuse. Archbishop Coleridge, president of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference, found himself under a global media spotlight when he visited Rome a year ago for a summit on the sexual abuse crisis in the Church.” By Mark Bowling, The Catholic Leader

Competing claims on a bishop’s energies
“Bishop Robert F. Vasa is heading to Santa Rosa, Calif., leaving the Catholics of Baker, Ore., after 11 years as bishop there. Last month he wrote a parting letter to the members of his diocese, a kind of plaintive lament. Filled with self-pardoning sentiment, it is a valuable document as it comes from a church leader known for his rigid interpretations of Catholic belief and practice and a quick-to-punish approach. In the letter, Vasa admits that during his years as head of the Baker diocese, ‘some have found me too difficult,’ and he prays ‘that no one has been given true cause to abandon Christ because of me.’” By National Catholic Reporter Editorial Staff

PRIESTS

After abuse scandals, seminarians pledge to ‘get it right’
“The seminarians walk along a hallway lined with photos of classes of priests who came before them. Some are pious alumni who have become their teachers and mentors; others climbed the Catholic hierarchy to be revered as bishops and cardinals. But there are others: Raymond Leneweaver, Class of 1962, subject of at least 14 victims’ reports of abuse, who even made matching T-shirts for those he raped and molested. And Edward Avery, Class of 1970, who pleaded guilty to molesting a 10-year-old altar boy in a church sacristy. And Francis Trauger, Class of 1972, who admitted to molesting a boy in a seminary shower, according to grand jurors.” By Matt Sedensky, Associated Press

WOMEN IN THE CHURCH

Cardinal Gracias: Church must ‘shed prejudice’ against women’s leadership
“One of the six members of Pope Francis' advisory Council of Cardinals has acknowledged a bias among the members of the Catholic Church's all-male hierarchy against giving women more leadership roles, saying he and his peers must ‘shed this prejudice.’ In an NCR interview, Indian Cardinal Oswald Gracias called himself a ‘convert’ to the cause of women seeking more opportunities for responsibility in the global institution.” By Joshua J. McElwee, National Catholic Reporter

CHURCH FINANCES

Finances: Diocese has tough choices ahead
“As most of us know from our own personal lives, a close, objective examination of where we financially stand can be unpleasant. So it may be for the diocese’s faithful. One aspect of the report, prepared by a national auditing firm, stands out like a sore thumb: During fiscal 2019, diocesan expenditures were $4.7 million in excess of revenue. Some assets had to be sold to cover the spending … Difficult decisions may — and probably will — have to be made to ensure that the diocese is managed responsibly. Parishioners should be prepared for them.” By The Parkersburg News and Sentinel Editorial Board

Bishop shakeup: West Virginia Catholic diocese issues audit
“The net assets of West Virginia's Roman Catholic Diocese dropped by $4.8 million during a fiscal year that coincided with the resignation of its bishop amid allegations of sexual and financial misconduct, an audit shows. The Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston released the audit last week spanning the period from June 30, 2018, to June 30, 2019.” By John Raby, The Associated Press, in National Catholic Reporter

Parents accuse former pastor of mismanaging more than $2 million in Catholic School and parish funds
“ In a lawsuit filed in Denver District Court last week, two parents of students at St. Vincent de Paul Catholic School accuse Father Andrew Kemberling of ‘willful financial misconduct,’ and say the Archdiocese was aware of the issue but did nothing to stop it. Father Andrew was appointed as pastor at the school and parish in 2014. The complaint alleges that over the course of five years he lost more than $2 million of the school's assets and used restricted funds to cover things the money was not appropriated for.” By Katie Eastman, 9News.com

Buffalo Diocese needs to be transparent with its finances
“When asked by parishioners and the media, Diocese of Buffalo officials have steadfastly refused to fully disclose the costs associated with the decades-long clergy sex scandal. The recent Buffalo News article succinctly explained the decrease in parishioner donations. While we know that approximately $17 million has been paid through the Independent Reconciliation and Compensation Program, parishioners remain completely in the dark about the total cost to the diocese, and ultimately the loss suffered to various vital ministries in this community.” By Michael S. Taheri, The Buffalo News

Harrisburg bishop talks about bankruptcy filing due to Catholic sex abuse scandal: key takeaways
“Bishop Ronald Gainer addressed reporters Wednesday (Feb. 19) afternoon to explain the Roman Catholic Diocese of Harrisburg’s filing for bankruptcy protection. The diocese is seeking a remedy for its ailing finances as it deals with hundreds of complaints of child sex abuse by priests. In 2018, state Attorney General Josh Shapiro released a scathing report finding widespread abuse at six Catholic dioceses in Pennsylvania, including Harrisburg.” By Ron Southwick, PennLive.com

Colorado priest accused of mismanaging $2M at Catholic school, taking $250G from widowed mother’s tuition fund
“An assistant priest in Colorado is accused of mismanaging more the $2 million when he ran a Catholic school in Denver, including draining $250,000 from a fund meant to help a widowed mother pay tuition for her four children after her husband died suddenly of cancer. The Rev. Andrew Kemberling caused St. Vincent de Paul Catholic Parish and School ‘to accrue over 2 million dollars in losses’ within two years and then tried to cover those losses by pulling money from restricted funds.” By Danielle Wallace, FOXNews.com

Will compulsion succeed where conversion has failed on Vatican financial reform?
“When Pope Francis recently addressed the ongoing financial reform of the Vatican, he couched the argument in largely spiritual, pastoral and moral terms. Financial breakdowns recently brought to light, the pope said, ‘beyond their possible criminality, are hard to reconcile with the nature and purpose of the Church, and they’ve created confusion and worry within the community of the faithful.’ He was speaking to Vatican judges on the occasion of the opening of their judicial year.” By John J. Allen, Jr., Cruxnow.com

CELIBACY& MARRIED PRIESTS

What is the power of celibacy?
“Pope Francis issued one of the most eagerly awaited documents of his papacy this month: a letter that could have laid the groundwork for eliminating the Roman Catholic Church’s requirement of priestly celibacy. But it didn’t. To the relief of conservative Catholics, and to the dismay of his progressive well-wishers, Francis let the matter drop.” By Christopher Caldwell, The New York Times

VOICES

‘Make your voice heard’: Gonzaga lectuer urges strong response to priestly sexual abuse crisis
“Jennifer Beste acknowledged the message she brought to Gonzaga University on Tuesday (Feb. 25) evening wasn’t going to leave her lecture audience in a good mood. It was a message about how the Catholic Church has the power and wealth to address the ongoing clergy sexual abuse crisis and is complicit in abuse as long as it doesn’t act. She said young adults have the power to sway Church leaders as fewer young people stay religiously affiliated. ‘The Catholic bishops are acting differently than they did the first decade of the 2000s. They are apologizing. They are trying to gain the trust of the laity,’ Beste said.” By Jaren Brown, The Spokesman-Review

Victim advocate says crisis also impacts those working for healing
“Recovery from the Church’s abuse crisis also can be a challenge for those working on the front lines with victims and for Catholics simply trying to live out their faith. Although dioceses now have standard procedures in place for conducting background checks, providing safe environment training and promptly reporting allegations and cooperating with civil authorities along with providing victim reparations, the less obvious needs are those who help the victims, said a clinical ethics consultant at the Brooklyn Hospital Center in New York.” By Gina Christian, Cruxnow.com

Let’s stop tolerating misleading and hurtful language about abuse
“Let’s stop tolerating misleading & hurtful language about abuse. Words matter. They can lead to more clarity or more confusion. All too often, words by church writers, church blogs or church publications lead to confusion (either by ignorance or by design).” By Adam Horowitz, Horowitz Law Blog

Editorial: Child crimes should have no statue of limitations
“When the child molestation scandal in the Roman Catholic Church was at its height several years ago, many Americans were mortified to learn that statutes of limitation across the country precluded prosecution of predatory priests. Some states quickly made adjustments in their criminal law to deal with that injustice. For some reason, Oklahoma lawmakers have only turned a tentative corner in that regard, but not for lack of trying on the part of Carol Bush, R-Tulsa.” By Daily Press Editorial Staff

It is time to ask, formally, for married priests and woman deacons
“Pope Francis' post-synodal apostolic exhortation is only the beginning of the story. As church conservatives and progressives take to the internet and supposed neutral writers enter their own spins, everyone is forgetting about the forest and the trees. It is about the Amazon Basin, not about married priests or women deacons. Except it is … The post-synodal apostolic exhortation Querida Amazonia is Francis' response as bishop of Rome to the final document of the Amazon synod. If the pope is going to do anything about married priests and women deacons, he will — actually, he must — use another type of document.” By Phyllis Zagano, National Catholic Reporter

STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS

South Dakota bill from survivors of Catholic school abuse
“Louise Aamot Charbonneau couldn't make her annual trip to the South Dakota Legislature this year to confront lawmakers with her story of surviving childhood rape and abuse at the hands of priests and nuns at a boarding school for Native Americans during the 1950s and 1960s. The 69-year-old died suddenly three weeks ago. But her sisters, bonded both through family and survival, showed up, along with their daughters and granddaughters. They continued their push for lawmakers to open a two-year window for victims of childhood sexual abuse to file lawsuits against organizations in which the abuse occurred.” By Stephen Groves, The Associated Press

Mexican bishops back repeal of statute of limitations
“The Church in Mexico has expressed its support for several bills to eliminate the statute of limitations for the sexual abuse of minors, which stands now at ten years. The bills were introduced in the country’s Federal Congress and would only apply to future, not past cases. The Mexican bishops do not anticipate that reported abuse cases will be comparable in number to those seen by the Church in the United States, and the Church in Mexico has not seen lawsuits filed on a comparable level.” By Catholic News Agency

Committee will not consider bill to eliminate statute of limitations for child sex abuse victims
“Victims of childhood sexual assault suffered another setback Thursday (Feb. 20) as they learned the General Assembly’s Judiciary Committee has decided not to consider a bill that would have eliminated the statute of limitations that prevents older victims from filing lawsuits. The revelation comes after a state law passed in last year’s session created a task force to study the issue and make a recommendation. That task force, headed by state Sen. Mae Flexer, D-Killingly, recommended the elimination of the statute of limitations, which currently prohibits those older than 51 from suing the person who assaulted them and organizations such as the Catholic Church.” By Joe Wojtas, The Day

Activists seek end to statute of limitations on sexual misconduct lawsuits
“Sexual assault victims and their advocates offered emotional testimony Thursday (Feb. 20) in support of eliminating the statute of limitations to bring civil lawsuits against abusers. Currently, victims under 18 years old have until they turn 30 to bring a lawsuit for damages against an abuser. Anyone older than 18 only has three years after the offense to sue. This bill (SB 508) before the Senate Judiciary Committee Thursday would eliminate that statute of limitations and also erase any immunity any government entity might have against being sued.” By Kevin Landrigan, New Hampshire Union Leader

This Indiana bill could possibly help victims of priest sex abuse
“It’s been more than a year since a former Evansville man stood before the Indiana Senate to share something private and devastating. On Feb. 13, 2019, Chris Compton told the Judiciary Committee that the late Rev. Raymond Kuper had sexually abused him while Compton was a 9-year-old student at Christ the King. He was there to advocate for a Senate bill that would have given accusers of childhood sexual abuse more time to pursue civil cases in incidents that had long eclipsed the statute of limitations.” By Jon Webb, Courier & Press

Maryland lawmakers to weigh whether sexual abuse survivors should have more time to sue
“As he’s done countless times before, Del. C.T. Wilson will sit at a dark wooden table in an Annapolis hearing room Thursday (Feb. 20) and plead with his colleagues to give victims of child sexual abuse more time to sue their abusers and the institutions that failed to stop the abuse. He’s hoping to make Maryland the latest state to relax restrictions on when adults can file lawsuits stemming from abuse endured as children.” By Pamela Wood, The Baltimore Sun

Iowa bill would extend statute of limitations for child sex crimes
“Iowa lags behind other states when it comes to aiding childhood victims of sexual abuse by adults — oftentimes family members, teachers, clergy or other close associates, according to experts. ‘We would love to see Iowa step forward from being one of the worst in the country to being one of the best,’ said Marci Hamilton, chief executive officer and academic director for Child USA, a Philadelphia nonprofit think tank working nationally to end child abuse and neglect.” By Rod Boshart, Des Moines Bureau of Sioux City Journal

CLERGY CHILD SEXUAL ABUSE

Child sexual abuse survivors deal with bankruptcy, old evidence after laws extend statute of limitations
“Although there are no precise counts, an annual federal government report on child maltreatment hints at its prevalence. The 2018 report cited 47,124 cases nationwide in which child protective service agencies found sexual abuse without any other alleged mistreatment. The total represents nearly 7% of all the reports, which also track cases of neglect, physical abuse and psychological mistreatment. The report also listed 339 reports of child sex trafficking in 18 states.” By Kevin McCoy, USA TODAY

Disgraced religious order tried to get abuse victim to lie
“The cardinal's response was not what Yolanda Martínez had expected — or could abide. Her son had been sexually abused by a priest of the Legion of Christ, a disgraced religious order. And now she was calling Cardinal Valasio De Paolis — the Vatican official appointed by the pope to lead the Legion and to clean it up — to report the settlement the group was offering, and to express her outrage. The terms: Martínez's family would receive 15,000 euros ($16,300) from the order. But in return, her son would have to recant the testimony he gave to Milan prosecutors that the priest had repeatedly assaulted him when he was a 12-year-old student at the order's youth seminary in northern Italy. He would have to lie.” By Nicole Winfield, Maria Verza, The Associated Press, in National Catholic Reporter

Clergy sex abuse accusers file $20 million lawsuit against Vatican
“A $20 million lawsuit filed in a Houston federal court by two alleged clergy sex abuse victims is stretching all the way to Rome. ‘This starts at the very very top, which is the Vatican,’ attorney Tahira Khan Merritt said. Merritt, along with attorney Felecia Peavy, represents two adult clients identified as Jane and John Doe, who claim they were sexually abused as children by Father Manuel La-Rosa Lopez … Their accusations led to criminal charges of indecency with a child against La-Rosa Lopez. He was arrested in September 2018 and the criminal trial is set to begin next month.” By Jeremy Rogalski, KHOU-TV11News

ARIZONA

Arizona church sued over decades-old abuse allegations
“Two children were sexually abused by Catholic priests about 40 years ago in an Arizona parish and the Roman Catholic Diocese of Phoenix covered up the problem, according to newly filed lawsuits. Both lawsuits were brought Monday (Feb. 10) under a 2019 state law that extends the right of people who say they were abused as children to sue until their 30th birthday — a decade longer than before.” By Jacques Billeaud, Associated Press

CALIFORNIA

Man sues L.A. archdiocese, cardinal and priest who returned to duties after admitting child sex abuse
“A 32-year-old man filed a lawsuit Wednesday (Feb. 12) against the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, Cardinal Roger Mahony and an ex-priest who was returned to parish duties even after admitting to molesting children. Mahony went on to reassign Michael Baker to several other Roman Catholic parishes, where he abused more boys, many of them immigrants.” By Los Angeles Times on KTLA.com

COLORADO

87 people file claims of sexual abuse by Colorado Catholic priests
“Nearly 90 people have filed claims related to sexual abuse by Catholic priests in Colorado, according to the oversight committee, which was assigned to administer the Independent Compensation Program (ICP). The final deadline to file claims was Jan. 31 and only included abuse by clergy who worked for Colorado dioceses, not members of independent religious orders. A total of 87 victims filed claims with the administrators.” By Janet Oravetz, 9News.com

CONNECTICUT

Priest accused of sexual assault pleads not guilty
“A Connecticut Roman Catholic priest accused of sexually assaulting one boy and groping another has pleaded not guilty. Jaime Marin-Cardona, 51, of Danbury, pleaded not guilty to fourth-degree sexual assault, risk of injury to child and illegal sexual contact, the Danbury News-Times reported on Monday (Feb. 24).” By Associated Press in The Washington Times

KANSAS

‘Secrets in our culture’: Victims of child sex abuse urge lawmakers to take action
“Kathryn Robb wanted lawmakers to know about the monsters. Her voice rising in volume and urgency, Robb delivered a sermon on the evils of child abuse in a legislative hearing Tuesday (Feb. 11). She focused fury at coaches, religious leaders, pediatricians and others who have preyed on hundreds of victims apiece.” By Sherman Smith, Pratt Tribune

MASSACHUSETTS

Roman Catholic Diocese of Springfield names three investigators for sexual abuse claims
“The Roman Catholic Diocese of Springfield has named two retired police officials and a veteran child abuse investigator to a team charged with investigating claims of clergy sexual abuse. Jeffrey J. Trant, director of the diocesan Office of Safe Environment and Victim Assistance of the Diocese of Springfield, announced the creation of the newly formed team Monday (Feb. 24). The investigators are retired Springfield Police Captain C. Lee Bennett; retired Springfield Police Lieutenant Norman F. Charest; and Brenda Burge, a trained forensic interviewer who has worked as a child abuse investigator for the state Department of Children and Families for 23 years.” By Anne-Gerard Flynn, MassLive.com

MICHIGAN

Detroit parishioners sue after priest ousted for sexual abuse allegations
“A group of parishioners at a Detroit church is suing the archdiocese for $20 million and claiming emotional distress after their priest was fired. Father Eduard Perrone, a 70-year-old priest at Assumption Grotto Catholic Church, was stripped of his collar in July after a 54-year-old man accused the religious man of grooming him when he was 13 years old and an altar boy at St. Peter Catholic Church in Mount Clemens, according to the Detroit Free Press.” By Kate Feldman, Daily News

West Michigan dioceses refuse to release pedophile lists
“In the face of an ongoing Michigan Attorney General’s investigation, most of the state’s Catholic dioceses have released lists of priests credibly accused as pedophiles. Those lists include 135 names, 85 of which are in the Detroit archdiocese alone. The only two of the state’s seven dioceses that haven’t released their lists: Grand Rapids and Kalamazoo. Church leaders in Kalamazoo and Grand Rapids have refused not only Target 8’s request to release the lists, but the requests of a survivor support group and survivors themselves.” By Ken Kolker, WOOD-TV8 News

MISSOURI

Retired Catholic priest charged in Missouri with sex abuse
“A retired Catholic priest has been charged in Missouri with multiple counts of child sexual abuse stemming from a statewide investigation of abuse by Catholic priests. Seventy-six-year-old Frederick Lutz, of Springfield, was charged Tuesday (Feb. 18) with forcible sodomy, sexual abuse and two counts of statutory sodomy. His bond was set at $125,000 cash only.” By Heather Hollingsworth, Cruxnow.com

Attorney General’s priest abuse probe yields first charges
“He was ‘Priest 80,’ but after a Missouri prosecutor filed criminal charges alleging sexual assault, that unnamed priest was revealed this week to be Frederick Lutz. Until now, the retired priest living in Springfield had been identified only by a number in a report issued last year by the Missouri Attorney General — just one among 163 cases of reported priest abuse.” By Danny Wicentowski, Riverfront Times

NEW YORK

Catholic diocese mulls options, including bankruptcy, amid clergy abuse lawsuits
“Catholics in northern New York received a message from the Diocese of Ogdensburg on Sunday (Feb. 23) … Some will distribute the letter on March 1. The letter details the struggles the diocese has faced in the wake of the passage of the Child Victims Act which opened a one-year window for victims of childhood sexual abuse to bring lawsuits that were previously barred due to statutes of limitation. That window closes on Aug. 13.” By Adirondack Daily Enterprise

Former priest in Dansville, Avon named in new child sex abuse lawsuits
“A former Catholic priest who served at churches in Avon and Dansville in the 1980s is named as a defendant in two Child Victims Act lawsuits, filed earlier this month in Livingston County Supreme Court. Joseph Edward Larrabee, who was ordained in 1980, is accused of sexually abusing two teenagers at least 19 times between 1982 and 1984 by exploiting his position as a priest at St. Agnes Church in Avon.” By Matt Leader, Livingston County News

Judge says abuse victims’ attorney can question retired Rochester bishop
“A federal bankruptcy judge has ruled that -- with specific limitations -- an attorney for victims of sexual abuse may question retired Bishop Matthew Clark of Rochester under oath about his knowledge of sexual abuse during his years as head of the diocese. The ruling was issued during a Feb. 11 hearing in the diocese's Chapter 11 bankruptcy case.” By Mike Latona, Catholic News Service, in National Catholic Reporter

NORTH DAKOTA

List of Catholic priests suspected of abuse is incomplete
“The Catholic Dioceses of Fargo and Bismarck should be commended for finally releasing the dozens of names of clergy and religious members who have been accused of sexually abusing children. Better late than never. Full disclosure … Still, O’Keeffe is not satisfied. He said the dioceses need to release more information, such as the dates of the misconduct, the parish assignments of the offenders, and where they are living. He also said the list is incomplete. ‘We know of more cases of priests who should be on that list,’ (Fargo attorney Tim) O’Keeffe said.” By Jim Shaw, Grand Forks Herald

OHIO

Priest accused of having child porn faces new charges
“A Cleveland-area Roman Catholic priest arrested in December was accused of several new charges, including sex trafficking involving a minor, federal prosecutors said Friday (Feb. 21). A criminal complaint filed in federal court also charged the Rev. Robert McWilliams with receiving or distributing child pornography and sexual exploitation of children.” By Associated Press in The Washington Times

New details on rape investigation of Catholic priest Geoff Drew
“As the Archdiocese of Cincinnati scrambled last summer to address concerns about the conduct of Rev. Geoff Drew, the Green Township Police Department quietly executed a series of search warrants. They searched church property and Drew's rental storage unit, seizing computers, 188 computer floppy discs and other evidence identified in court records and police documents examined by the WCPO I-Team.” By Craig Cheatham, WCPO-TV9 News

PENNSYLVANIA

Philly’s Catholic archdiocese paid a six-figure clergy sex-abuse settlement. Then the accuser’s lawyer admitted he identified the wrong priest.
“The Archdiocese of Philadelphia last year paid a six-figure settlement to a man who alleged he was abused by the Rev. John J. Bradley at St. Charles Borromeo parish in the 1980s. But the accuser’s lawyer and church officials couldn’t agree on which John J. Bradley was accused. The issue, a church spokesperson said, is that two priests by that name worked at the Drexel Hill parish — one between 1963 and 1968, the other between 1977 and 1996.” By Mensah M. Dean and Jeremy Roebuck, Philadelphia Inquirer

‘The church we so believed in abandoned us,’ mom of assault victim says at sentencing of Allentown Diocese priest
“After the father of a 17-year-old Allentown Central Catholic High School student who was groped by an Allentown Diocese priest lamented to Lehigh County Judge Maria L. Dantos that he was unable to do more to protect his daughter, the judge posed a question: ‘Would it surprise you to learn that he was transferred here in 2016 after a similar incident?’ she asked the father. It was a stunning moment in an emotional hearing that ended with the Rev. Kevin Lonergan, 31, being sentenced to one to two years in state prison, the maximum allowed by law. Lonergan, of Pottsville, will also be a registered sex offender under Megan’s Law for 15 years.” By Laurie Mason Schroeder and Daniel Patrick Sheehan, The Morning Call

TEXAS

Ex-Dallas, Plano priest faces second charge of aggravated sexual assault of a child
“The priest, a friend of the family, took the young girl into her bedroom closet in Plano to hear confession, court records say. But then he exposed himself and forced her perform a sex act.

The accusations are in a new arrest warrant issued in Collin County for 78-year-old Richard Thomas Brown, a former Dallas diocesan priest. Brown faces a charge of aggravated sexual assault of a child for the second time after having been arrested on the same charge two weeks ago in Dallas County.” By David Tarrant, The Dallas Morning News

VIRGINIA

‘This is monumental,’ advocate says after Richmond priest accused of child sex abuse
“A coordinator for the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP) in Richmond said the latest allegations of child sex abuse by a retired Richmond priest ‘brings up to the forefront what is happening in the Catholic church to this day.’ ‘There are a lot of good, good people in the Catholic Church, they do the right thing,’ Dottie Klamer, a coordinator with SNAP said. ‘Unfortunately, there are rotten apples and they need to get rid of.’ By Matthew Fultz, WTVR-TV6 News

Richmond Catholic Diocese launches monetary settlement program for sexual abuse victims
“The Catholic Diocese of Richmond is now offering victims of child sexual abuse perpetrated by clergy members the option to enter into a monetary settlement if they give up their right to sue, the diocese announced Monday (Feb. 17). The launch of the Independent Reconciliation Program comes 1½ years after a Pennsylvania grand jury report found that at least 1,000 children were sexually abused by more than 300 Catholic clergy in that state, reigniting focus on the child abuse crisis in the global Catholic Church.” By Bridget Balch, Richomd Times-Dispatch

AUSTRALIA

Study identifies 16 child sex abuse rings in Victorian Catholic Church
“A three-year research project into pedophile Catholic clerics in Victoria has identified 16 child sex abuse networks operating over six decades involving 99 priests and Christian Brothers. The investigation found that clergy pedophile rings shared patterns of behavior with criminal gangs, the Mafia, terrorist cells, corrupt police, drug dealers, money launderers and price-fixing cartels.” By Debbie Cuthbertson, The Age

Mandatory reporting laws for religious institutions come into effect
“Laws requiring clergy to report child abuse to authorities — even if it's heard in the confession box — will come into effect on Monday (Feb. 17), ending the ‘special treatment’ for Victoria's religious institutions. The seal has now been lifted for the suspected sexual abuse of children, with spiritual and religious leaders required to report the abuse or face up to three years in prison.” By Sumeyya Ilanbey, The Age

CHILE

Chilean bishop seeks management training amid abuse crisis cleanup
“Living with acute poverty, inequality and the aftermath of what is arguably the Catholic Church’s worst clerical sexual abuse crisis, Chilean Bishop Tomislav Francisco Koljatic Maroevic is seeking what for some seem like a basic: Management training. The head of the Chilean Diocese of Linares, Koljatic is currently in Rome for a two-week intensive course as part of the Program of Church Management offered by the Pontifical University of the Holy Cross. And he’s using his vacation to do it.” By Elise Ann Allen, Cruxnow.com

GUAM

Parishes, schools try to shield assets from being used for clergy sex abuse claims payouts
“Guam's 33 Catholic parishes and schools are seeking to protect assets they said shouldn't be sold off or used to help pay clergy sex abuse claimants under the Archdiocese of Agana's bankruptcy case … While falling under the archdiocese's organizational umbrella, parishes and schools said they independently operate and manage church services in their respective parishes and education at their campuses.” By Haidee Eugenio Gilbert, Pacific Daily News

POLAND

Bishop accused of sex abuse test case for Church in Poland
“The first accusation of sexual abuse against a Polish bishop will serve as a testing ground for the Church’s new commitment to fighting sexual abuse, and how it manifests itself both locally and at the Vatican. For decades, Bishop Jan Szkodoń was a significant figure in Krakow, the archdiocese of St. John Paul II and the spiritual center of Poland. From 1979, he was the spiritual director of the seminary for over a decade, until he was consecrated bishop in 1988.’ By Paulina Guzik, Cruxnow.com