Keep the Faith, Change the Church.

Voice of the Faithful Focus, July 10, 2015

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


TOP STORIES

Vatican trial for Jozef Wesolowski a pivotal moment for Pope Francis
“While Pope Francis is wowing vast crowds on a triumphant homecoming to Latin America this week (July 7), one of the pivotal moments of his papacy is set to begin back in Rome on Saturday with the opening of a criminal trial for former papal diplomat Józef Wesołowski on charges of sexual abuse of minors. Ultimately, it’s the threat of criminal sanctions from Vatican tribunals that underlies new accountability measures Francis has created to face the two most chronic sources of scandal he inherited when he was elected in March 2013 – sexual abuse and financial misconduct.” By John L. Allen, Jr., Cruxnow.com

Controversial Chilean bishop’s appointment continues to divide diocese
“This week, three delegates of the Organization of Lay People of the diocese (of Osorno, Chile), which has just 23 parishes, are traveling to Santa Cruz, Bolivia, in the hope of presenting a letter to Pope Francis during the World Meeting of Popular Movements, which Francis is to address Thursday (July 9). They have been protesting since January, when it became clear that the Vatican would press ahead with the installation of Juan Barros Madrid as Osorno's new bishop, a move as unpopular with Chile's other bishops as it was with the clergy and laypeople of the diocese.” By Austen Ivereigh, National Catholic Reporter

Disclose the names of clergy abusers
“A survivor of sexual abuse perpetrated by a Catholic priest hesitates to report his abuse, thinking that he will not be believed. Another survivor knows that she was not the cleric’s only victim but worries that she will be the only person to report his behavior. And many Catholics complain that their church has allowed the media and survivors’ organizations to control, and even manipulate, information in order to make all clergy seem suspect and all bishops seem insensitive. Would full disclosure of the names of clergy offenders help these survivors and the countless other men and women who have still not reported their abuse to come forward?” By Kathleen McChesney, America

In Ecuador, Francis calls for intense prayer for ‘miracle’ at synod
“In a nod to expected Vatican intrigue in coming months, the pope also called on those gathered for an outdoor Mass on a sweltering day in the port town of Guayaquil to ‘intensify’ their prayers for October's global meeting of bishops on family life issues.” By Joshua J. McElwee, National Catholic Reporter
 -- Pope Francis focuses on family in Ecuador Mass, By Jim Yardley and William Neuman, The New York Times

Timeline of a crisis
“This timeline is part of a weeklong series dedicated to looking back on 30 years of the abuse crisis in the Catholic church.” By National Catholic Reporter staff
 -- Pages and protection: a first step in bringing clergy sexual abuse to light, By Thomas C. Fox, National Catholic Reporter
 -- Thanks to NCR, my crisis became a cause, By Barbara Blaine, National Catholic Reporter
 -- How clergy abuse survivors have changed history, By Thomas P. Doyle, National Catholic Reporter

ACCOUNTABILITY

State Supreme Court upholds $1 million verdict in priest sex abuse case
“The state Supreme Court Friday (June 26) upheld a $1 million verdict in a priest sexual abuse case while at the same time rejecting an argument by the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Hartford that a state law which extended the statute of limitations for potential victims to file a lawsuit was unconstitutional.” By Dave Altimari, Hartford Courant
 -- Connecticut court upholds $1 million verdict in sexual abuse case, By Associated Press on Cruxnow.com

FUTURE OF THE CHURCH

Archbishop’s resignation could signal change for church
“On June 15 Minnesota Archbishop John Nienstedt and his deputy, Bishop Lee Piché, resigned from their positions days after the county attorney filed criminal charges against the archdiocese for failing to protect children from sexual abuse … (Nienstedt’s resignation) highlights the bigger issues that are dogging the Catholic Church on every continent. Nienstedt’s resignation also underscores the struggle between progressives and conservatives over abuse of authority by bishops and the Vatican and, ultimately, over the direction the church will take under Pope Francis.” Commentary by Mary Turck on Al Jazeera America

BISHOPS

‘Pastors, Not Princes’
“At the opening of the 68th General Assembly of the Italian Episcopal Conference on May 18, Pope Francis asked bishops not to be ‘pilots’ but rather true pastors. Many times, the pontiff has called for ‘pastoral bishops, not princes,’ using images he had previously employed when governing his former diocese.” Diego Fares, S.J., America

CELIBACY

The vocations shortage has become an acute crisis
“It has long been argued, especially in the pages of NCR, that there is no lack of talented, dedicated and holy candidates that God is calling forth to serve the People of God in the ordained ministry. The problem is that the criteria the Catholic hierarchy has for selecting future priests (‘only celibate males need apply’) eliminates so many of the best candidates.” By Robert Mickens, National Catholic Reporter

SYNOD OF BISHOPS ON THE FAMILY

Synods are now for the many, not for the privileged few
“In the first of a four-part look ahead to October's synod, Fr Alexander Lucie-Smith says the Church hierarchy must prove it is willing to listen to the views of everyone.” By Fr. Alexander Lucie-Smith, Catholic Herald

Vatican Family Synod 2015: Pope Francis’ gay acceptance move challenged by bishops conference document
“The Vatican laid the groundwork this week (week of June 22) for its highly anticipated global synod on family life with the publication of a document outlining its initial working positions for the October conference. The newly released document indicated that the church will maintain its traditional stance on hot-button issues, including outreach to gay Catholics, contraception, divorce and remarriage, in the latest sign of the institutional resistance to the kinds of reforms and shift in tone promoted by Pope Francis. By Lora Moftah, International Business Times

VOICES

The Catholic Church needn’t wait for a national redress scheme. It can act morally now.

“By acting unilaterally to adequately compensate victims of sexual abuse, the Catholic church would send a powerful message … The Catholic church is but one of the institutions that failed to take adequate steps to prevent children from being molested and raped. The royal commission has exposed many others including the ultra-Orthodox Jewish institution, Yeshivah, the Anglican church and the Salvation Army. The case for distinguishing the Catholic church rests on at least three propositions.” By Josh Bornstein, Commentary in The Guardian

Chicago archbishop: Church should work through social changes together
“The U.S. Catholic church should not react stridently following the Supreme Court's ruling that legalized same-sex marriage nationwide but instead should focus on working through the rapid pace of social changes together, Chicago Archbishop Blase Cupich said.” By Joshua J. McElwee, National Catholic Reporter

New San Diego bishop speaks of a church that ‘banishes judgmentalism’
“Many U.S. Catholics want the church to ‘banish judgmentalism’ of people in its ministries and to focus instead on getting close to them and understanding the struggles they face in their lives, the new bishop of San Diego said. In an almost hour-long interview with NCR, Bishop Robert McElroy said while people want to be challenged by Gospel teachings, they are looking for a church that has ‘a sense of accepting people where they are and helping them to come farther.’  By Joshua J. McElwee, National Catholic Reporter

POPE FRANCIS

Francis: the activist Pope
“The first Jesuit pope and the first non-European pope in more than 1,200 years, Francis has differed significantly from his predecessors with his outspoken style and his approach to leading the church. His comments on poverty, church reform, climate change and divorce have made headlines around the world. Here is a look at some of them.” By The New York Times

Catholic Church should not have ‘leaders for life,’ Pope says
“The Roman Catholic Church should not have ‘leaders for life’ in its ranks, otherwise it would risk being like a country under dictatorship, Pope Francis said on Friday (July 3). Francis, 78, has said before that he would be ready to resign instead of ruling for life if he felt he could not continue running the 1.2 billion-member Church for health or other reasons.” By Reuters

Vatican announces the details of Pope Francis’ U.S. trip
(June 30, 2015) “The Vatican released the itinerary Tuesday (June 30) for Pope Francis’ first trip to the United States in September, a six-day visit that will take the pontiff from the halls of power to the margins of society.” By Michael O’Loughlin, Cruxnow.com

CHURCH FINANCES

Debt and questions about spending emerge after Paraguayan bishop ousted b Pope Francis
“Children awaiting surgery and women fleeing domestic violence never saw the $350,000 donated for their benefit. Then, there were the questionable property sales and the money for a cleaning business partially owned by a relative. In the months since Pope Francis ousted the bishop of Paraguay's second-largest diocese, questions keep surfacing about the Rev. Rogelio Livieres Plano's management of church money.” By Peter Prengaman, Associated Press in U.S. News & World Report

Norway seeks $5.1 million from Catholic church for fraud
“Norway is claiming 4.6 million euros ($5.1 million) compensation from the Catholic church for exaggerating membership numbers to obtain more state aid, the Oslo diocese said Monday(June 29). The diocese, its bishop and the financial officer are suspected of fraudulently registering thousands of people on its membership lists between 2010 and 2014, which enabled it to obtain 50 million kroner (more than $6.0 million or 5.8 million euros) in state subsidies.” By Agence France-Press on interaksyon.com

CLERGY CHILD SEXUAL ABUSE

Archdiocese asks Supreme Court to weigh in on cemetery trust
“Catholic Archbishop Jerome Listecki on Tuesday (July 7) asked the U.S. Supreme Court to weigh in on a key issue of the Archdiocese of Milwaukee's bankruptcy: whether the First Amendment and a federal law aimed at protecting religious liberty can be used to shield an estimated $70 million held in trust for the care of its cemeteries.” By Annya Johnson, Journal Sentinel

Huffington Post digs up a solid story on abuse in Baltimore archdiocese
“Well now. I recently chanced on a Huffington Post story that came out in mid-May but which was so gripping, it thought that it deserves comment even six weeks later. Consider this a kind of a GetReligion ‘file of guilt’ post. If the headline: ‘Buried in Baltimore: The Mysterious Murder of a Nun Who Knew Too Much’ doesn’t get you reading the nearly 7,500-word story, nothing can. Yes, it’s about clergy sex abuse and no, we shouldn’t ever be tired of reading about these stories. Because in this case, a nun found out about the abuse and paid for it with her life.” By Julia Duin, Commentary on Huffington Post’s Get Religion
 -- Buried in Baltimore: the mysterious murder of a nun who knew too much, By Laura Bassett, Huffington Post

Basilica priest to archdiocese: release Nienstedt probe details
“A prominent Catholic cleric has asked the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis to release details of two investigations into alleged sexual misconduct by former Archbishop John Nienstedt. The Rev. John Bauer, pastor of the Basilica of Saint Mary in Minneapolis, said refusing to share the archdiocese-commissioned investigations suggests that ‘the Archdiocese has not been transparent, honest and forthcoming in the information it is has shared with the faithful.’” By Jean Hopfensperger, Star Tribune

CALIFORNIA

Ex-pastor pleads not guilty in porn case
“A Catholic priest who has been charged with possession of child pornography pleaded not guilty at his arraignment in Los Banos on Friday (June 26). The Rev. Robert Gamel stood next to his attorney in Merced Superior Court and declared he was not guilty of a felony count of possession of matter depicting sexual conduct of a person under the age of 18.” By Corey Pride, Merced Sun-Star

CONNECTICUT

Priest accused of abuse
“A Roman Catholic priest at Blessed Sacrament Church and the Shrine of St. Anne has been accused of sexually abusing a minor more than 20 years ago in New Haven. The Archdiocese of Hartford says it has placed the Rev. Jeremiah Murasso, 62, on administrative leave from the Waterbury churches until the allegation is resolved.” By Paul Singley, Republican-American

Supreme Court upholds rights of abuse victims
“The state Supreme Court on Friday (June 26) rebuffed the Roman Catholic Church’s attempt to curb the number of lawsuits brought by those who claim they were abused as children by priests, upholding the law that allows abuse victims to file lawsuit until they are 48.” By Daniel Tepfer, Connecticut Post

ILLINOIS

Two new lawsuits filed against convicted former priest Daniel McCormack
“Two new lawsuits were filed Tuesday (July 7) alleging sexual abuse by convicted child molester and former priest Daniel McCormack. The plaintiffs, two men identified only as John J. Doe 4 and John L. Doe 5, filed the suits Tuesday in Cook County Circuit Court against the Archidiocese of Chicago and the Catholic Bishop of Chicago.” By CBS-TV News, Chicago

MICHIGAN

Catholic priest at CMU on leave for ‘boundary violations,’ says Saginaw Diocese
“A priest in the Catholic Diocese of Saginaw is on administrative leave because of what the diocese called ‘boundary violations.’ The Rev. Denis Heames, who serves as parochial administrator for St. Mary University Parish in Mount Pleasant, was placed on leave last week, according to a statement released by the diocese Monday, July 6.” By Jessica Shepherd, MLive.com

‘I’m not going to hide’ says man allegedly victimized by former Jackson priest
“A man who said he was among those victimized by former priest at Jackson Lumen Christi High School more than 30 years ago, wants other victims to know that justice and closure are possible.” By Theresa Ghiloni, on MLive.com

MINNESOTA

St. Cloud Diocese to undergo unprecedented abuse investigation
“The St. Cloud Diocese faces the prospect of making unprecedented disclosures about priests accused of sexual misconduct, under a ruling filed Monday (June 29) in Stearns County court that builds on a series of legal victories for Minnesotans claiming clergy abuse. Judge Kris Davick-Halfen ruled that lawyers can proceed with a ‘public nuisance’ claim against the diocese by an alleged victim of priest sex abuse — a move that allows attorneys to investigate the diocese’s records and documents on all priests who have been accused of misconduct over decades.” By Jean Hopfensperger, Star Tribune

Clergy abuse victims want video shown in churches, online
“With the court-imposed deadline looming for victims of clergy sexual abuse to file claims against the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis, the bankruptcy court has been asked to compel church officials to show an informational video in every parish to help spread the word.” By Elizabeth Mohr, Pioneer Press, on twincities.com

Charges may let archdiocese insurers avoid abuse payout
“Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis officials are concerned criminal charges filed against the archdiocese might compromise insurance coverage for clergy sex abuse by bolstering insurers' arguments for denying claims. Ramsey County Attorney John Choi has charged the archdiocese with six gross misdemeanors for allegedly failing to protect the victims of a former St. Paul priest. At most, the archdiocese faces fines of $18,000, not much for an organization worth millions.” By Martin Moylan, Minnesota Public Radio News

Minnesota Supreme Court reinstates priest’s sexual misconduct conviction
“The Minnesota Supreme Court reinstated a St. Paul priest’s sexual misconduct conviction Wednesday (June 24) in a ruling that focused on whether the priest knew he was in a spiritual counseling session with his accuser when they had sex.” By Rochelle Olson, Star Tribune

MISSOURI

Priest sues accuser after sex abuse charges dropped
“A St. Louis priest who was accused of sexually abusing a boy in a Catholic school bathroom before the charges were dropped earlier this month is suing the alleged victim’s parents, police and a victim’s rights group. Barbara Dorris of The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests tells KMOX that she believes the suit is intended to send a message.” By Kevin Killeen, Associated Press, on CBS-TV News, St. Louis

NORTH CAROLINA

NC Court of Appeals refuses to dismiss lawsuit against Catholic church over alleged sex abuse
“A lawsuit against the Catholic Diocese of Raleigh over an allegation of child sexual abuse against a priest can move toward a trial, a three-judge panel ruled Tuesday (July 7). The North Carolina Court of Appeals rejected arguments made by lawyers representing Bishop Michael F. Burbidge and the Raleigh diocese that allowing the lawsuit to advance would violate the constitutional separation of church and state.” By Michael Biesecker, Associated Press, in Daily Journal

OREGON

Republicans fight for victims of rape and sexual abuse
“A bill that would refer the issue of eliminating the statute of limitations for rape to the 2016 general election ballot was introduced in the Oregon Senate Thursday (July 2) by Senator Tim Knopp (R-Bend) and Representative Jodi Hack (R-Salem).” By Sen. Tim Knopp, Oregon Catalyst

AUSTRALIA

Christian Brothers settle more payouts to child sex abuse victims following Royal Commission hearings
“The Christian Brothers has reached settlements with more victims following the Perth hearings of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse. The royal commission last year examined abuse allegations at Christian Brothers colleges in Bindoon, Tardun, Clontarf and Castledare between 1947 and 1968. Victims described being sexually and emotionally abused as well as being subjected to hard labour.” By Jade Macmillan, ABC News Australia

Inquiry boss wants to hear from abusers
“More Catholic clergy convicted of child sex abuse will be called to give evidence as a royal commission tries to find out why more allegations are made against that church than any other institution. There was criticism of the commission after the appearance at a hearing in Ballarat of Gerald Ridsdale, the defrocked Catholic priest who is in jail for multiple child sex offences spanning 20 years.” By Agence France-Presse

Perth diocese to act on sex abuse
“Children as young as four and their parents will be educated about sex abuse and prevention in what is believed to be a world-first under a major program being launched by the Perth Archdiocese of the Catholic Church.” By Gabrielle Knowles, The West Australian

New hope for clergy abuse survivors
Survivors of clergy sex abuse who have already received payments from the Catholic Church may be entitled to a further settlement, according to a leading lawyer. Shine Lawyers partner Roger Singh has represented a number of people with claims and believes the evidence presented at the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse may allow survivors who have already received payments to be open to further settlements.” By Matthew Dixon, The Courier

GREAT BRITAIN, SCOTLAND & WALES

Catholic priest James Robinson fled after ‘police tip-off’
“A paedophile priest fled the country after a police officer tipped off the Catholic Church in Birmingham, a sex abuse victim has claimed. The man said the officer passed on documents about 30 years ago which led to James Robinson being "spirited away" overseas. The priest was later jailed.” By BBC News

IRELAND

Church must never again place its own interests before the welfare of children
“The country has been convulsed with shock, disgust and anger since the full extent of clerical child sex abuse became known. This sickening scandal rocked the Catholic Church to its very foundations and destroyed the trust and faith of many. Even more shocking have been the extraordinary lengths the church has gone to cover things up.” Commentary by Gerry O’Carroll on Herald.ie

Historical abuse inquiry: Cardinal Brady admits ‘shroud of secrecy’ over sex abuse allegations
“Clerics involved in investigating child sex abuse were bound to secrecy so the Catholic church's ‘good name’ could be protected, a former primate of Ireland has claimed.” By Lesley Anne McKeown, Belfast Telegraph

Gardai were aware of Smyth’s abuse in early 1970s, inquiry told
“An institutional abuse inquiry in Northern Ireland has heard that gardaí were aware of the activities of paedophile priest Brendan Smyth as far back as the early 1970s. Confidential documents revealed at the Historical Institutional Abuse Inquiry in Banbridge show that Smyth asked to be admitted for treatment at St Patrick's Psychiatric Hospital in Dublin after he came to the attention of gardaí in 1973. The documents also reveal that Smyth had been diagnosed as a paedophile in 1973.” By RTE News