Keep the Faith, Change the Church.

Voice of the Faithful Focus, May 8, 2020


TOP STORIES

Pell knew of abuse by Australian pedophile priest
“Australian Cardinal George Pell knew a notorious pedophile priest had been moved decades ago because he had sexually abused children, and should have removed an unstable priest in another parish who was also a suspected pedophile, a government inquiry concluded. A report from the inquiry on child sexual abuse had been released in 2017, but findings concerning Pope Francis’ former finance minister had been redacted until Thursday to avoid prejudicing juries in any future prosecutions.” By Rod McGuirk, Cruxnow.com

The acquittal of Cardinal Pell
“In setting aside the guilty verdict against Cardinal George Pell on sexual-assault charges, Australia’s High Court effectively concluded the criminal-justice aspect of a case that has consumed the nation and the Catholic Church for years. But the April 7 ruling doesn’t really settle anything in the relationship between the church and the Australian state, nor is it likely to resolve the clash between the different ‘kinds’ of Catholicism in Australia and elsewhere. In fact, the decision will probably keep the contentious debates alive, perhaps for a long time to come.” By Massimo Faggioli, Commonweal

Archdiocese of New Orleans to file bankruptcy; Aymond meets with area priests
The Archdiocese of New Orleans is preparing to file for bankruptcy, a source familiar with the matter said Thursday (Apr. 30) evening, as the mounting cost of unresolved clergy-abuse lawsuits and the shutdown of church services due to the coronavirus deliver crushing blows to church finances. The 227-year-old local institution serving half a million New Orleans-area Catholics will join 26 other American dioceses and Catholic religious orders that have sought financial protection from creditors and claimants since the clergy-abuse scandal reached a fever pitch in 2002.” By Ramon Antonio Vargas, Nola.com

German Catholic Church agrees to rules for investigating abuse cases
“The Catholic Church has become Germany's first institution to agree to fixed and binding rules for investigating sexual abuse cases. The agreement, described as historic by the German government's abuse commissioner, could become a blueprint for other institutions in the fight against abuse. The Protestant Church in Germany and churches in many other countries have yet to take that step, reported KNA, the German Catholic news agency.” By Catholic News Service on AngelusNews.com

POPE FRANCIS

Sooner or later, Pope Francis will have to face the perplexities of reform
“Granted, right now Pope Francis has bigger fish to fry. Among other things he’s trying to hold the nation of Italy together, appealing on Saturday (May 2) for political unity at a time when regional governors from the political opposition are threatening to sabotage Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte’s plan for gradually easing coronavirus restrictions by issuing their own ad hoc decrees. Yet at some point when this is over, Francis will have to face the fact that his own house needs some work too.” By John L. Allen, Jr., Cruxnow.com

CARDINALS

On a call with President Trump, Cardinal Dolan reveals his true colors
“The ongoing collusion between certain U.S. bishops and President Donald Trump hit its nadir point this weekend (Apr.25). Or at least we have to pray it did. Crux's Christopher White obtained a recording of a phone call that took place on Saturday between Trump and an estimated 600 Catholics, among whom were bishops and Catholic school superintendents. Leading the pack was New York's Cardinal Timothy Dolan, who seems to like to boast about his relationship with Trump almost as much as Trump likes to boast about himself.” By Jamie Manson, National Catholic Reporter

CARDINAL PELL

Victorian government clears release of Pell royal commission findings
“Unpublished findings about Cardinal George Pell’s handling of child sexual abuse complaints have been cleared for release by the Victorian government. Attorney general Jill Hennessy has advised her federal counterpart, Christian Porter, that blacked-out sections of two reports from the institutional child abuse royal commission can be released, after the high court overturned the cardinal’s convictions for child sexual abuse earlier this month.” By Melissa Davey, The Guardian

BISHOPS

Nigerian bishop, rejected by former diocese, installed at new diocese
“Bishop Peter Ebere Okpaleke was installed April 29 as the bishop of the new Ekwulobia Diocese, after having been rejected in the Ahiara Diocese by priests and parishioners in a prolonged crisis that engulfed the Catholic Church in the region for about eight years. ‘It's one of the greatest news of the decade in this part of the church in Nigeria because the creation of the new diocese has long been overdue,’ Fr. Martin Anusi, the director of communications at the Awka Diocese, told NCR. ‘People have dreamt and made appeals for a new diocese over the years.’” By Patrick Egwu, National Catholic Reporter

An Australian bishop speaks about a national church 'fraught with division'
“Like many Catholics in Australia, Bishop Vincent Long speaks about the upcoming plenary council as something of a final chance for the national church to show it has both reformed on clergy sexual abuse and can still be culturally relevant in the 21st century. In an emailed NCR interview focused on how the quashing of Cardinal George Pell's convictions might affect the gathering, which has been in preparation for two years, Long called the assembly ‘the last throw of the dice.’” By Joshua J. McElwee, National Catholic Reporter

PRIESTS

Church members show support for priest in legal battle
“Congregation members of two Catholic churches are showing their support for a priest who was removed by Richmond Diocese Bishop. The priest has appealed his removal and is still in place at both churches while the process unfolds. Father Mark White presides over St. Joseph in Martinsville and St. Francis of Assisi in Rocky Mount … Father Mark White presides over St. Joseph in Martinsville and St. Francis of Assisi in Rocky Mount. Originally Father Mark White was told to stop his blog, which at times was critical of the church’s handling of sexual abuse cases. He shut the blog down for some time, but once the pandemic hit and he wasn’t able to meet with his members face to face, he started it up again and he was removed shortly after.” By Eric Pointer, WFXR-TV News

CARA study on new ordinands spots trends worth watching
“The annual survey of seminarians scheduled for priestly ordination this year reveals continuing trends and suggests potential trends in the making. ‘We've been consistent over the last 20 years in terms of the age of men being ordained to the priesthood. It continues to hover into the low to mid-30s," said Father Luke Ballman, executive director of the U.S. bishops' Secretariat for Clergy, Consecrated Life and Vocations.” By Mark Pattison, Catholic News Service, in Rhode Island Catholic

WOMEN IN THE CHURCH

Peter’s Field Hospital: Interview with Dr. Phyllis Zagano on women in the Church
“This week on Peter’s Field Hospital, Dan Amiri and I had the privilege of interviewing the Catholic author and theologian Phyllis Zagano. Phyllis Zagano is an internationally acclaimed Catholic scholar and lecturer on contemporary spirituality and women’s issues in the church. In 2016, Phyllis was named by Pope Francis to serve on the Papal Commission on women in the diaconate. Her new book, Women: Icons of Christ traces the history of ministry by women in the Church, especially women deacons. In this book, she shows how women were removed from leadership, prevented from using their voices, and eliminated from official ministries in the history of the Church. This book also argues in favor of the restoration of women to the ordained diaconate, while refuting the arguments against it.” By Mike Lewis, WherePeterIs.com

Seminaries must hire, involve more women, Cardinal Ouellet says
“For some priests and seminarians, ‘women represent danger, but in reality, the true danger are those men who do not have a balanced relationship with women,’ said Canadian Cardinal Marc Ouellet, prefect of the Congregation for Bishops. The cardinal was interviewed about the role of women in seminaries and seminary formation for the May issue of the women's supplement to the Vatican newspaper; the interview was published April 24 by Vatican News.” By Cindy Wooden, Catholic News Service, in National Catholic Reporter

Your thoughts on women’s roles in the church
“On April 8, Pope Francis announced he had created a new commission to study the ordaining of women as deacons in the Catholic Church. This is the second commission on the topic under Francis, however several members of this new commission seem to be opposed to women deacons. This revelation sparked a response from NCR columnist Jamie Manson, who writes: ‘By selecting these members for the commission, Francis has effectively killed the possibility of any real progress for women in the church.’ Relatedly, St. Joseph Sr. Christine Schenk wrote a column entitled ‘Women demonstrate what the priesthood of Jesus truly means,’ of which NCR executive editor Tom Roberts mentions in his last NCR Connections column.” By National Catholic Reporter Staff

CHURCH FINANCES

Fraudster jailed for stealing $340,000 from Catholic Church to fund 'indulgent' lifestyle
“Adelaide mother Kerry Ann Keen used more than $340,000 that she stole from the Catholic Church to pay for expensive overseas holidays and indulgent consumer goods. Now, the 57-year-old will spend at least three years in jail for her crimes. ‘In short, this was protracted, calculated dishonestly over a prolonged period [and involved] a large sum of money to fund an indulgent lifestyle,’ SA District Court Judge Stephen McEwen said during sentencing.” By Meagan Dillon, ABC News

Clergy Abuse Costs Drive New Orleans Archdiocese to File for Bankruptcy
“The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of New Orleans announced on May 1 that it is seeking federal Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection amid growing legal costs related to sexual abuse by priests. The filing for reorganization could free the archdiocese from the threat of creditors’ lawsuits while it reorganizes its finances. The New Orleans archdiocese is the latest of more than 20 dioceses nationwide to take such action.” By Kevin McGill, Insurance Journal

Seychelles: Police Investigating Nigerian Priest’s ‘Suspicious’ Bank Transactions
“The police in Seychelles are investigating a Nigerian priest based in the island nation following suspicious bank account transactions, the authorities said Wednesday (Apr. 29). The police statement came a day after the Roman Catholic Diocese of Port Victoria announced in a communique that ‘a member of its clergy, Father Fidelis Mbanefo has been suspended from his ministerial duties as a priest in the Diocese of Port-Victoria, as of the 17 April 2020.’” By Patsy Athanase, Seychelles News Agency, in Eurasia Review

FUTURE OF THE CHURCH

Will the pandemic force the Catholic Church to transform
“While the church has a vast body of members, the pandemic is leaving one of the oldest religious institutions in financial limbo. The Catholic Church has survived many things, including the Protestant Reformation of the 16th Century, capitalism and secularism. As the world's oldest religious institution, with nearly 1.3 billion followers, the Catholic Church is the largest continuously operating international organization, and the faithful would also like it to survive this deadly pandemic. But no one can deny that the Vatican’s finances are in disarray.” By TRTWorld.com

VOICES

Cardinal Pell: A decision with little certainty
George Pell is a cardinal in the Catholic Church. And that is where the problem lies. It lies as well in the institution. The two are inextricably intertwined so that the fate of one informs the other. Some, like Pope Francis, say, ‘I would like to pray today for all those persons who suffer an unjust sentence because someone had it in for them.’ The Vatican News reported that the pope made this statement at his morning Mass in Santa Marta, shortly after the news broke that the High Court of Australia had quashed the convictions against Pell.” By Gail Grossman Freyne, National Catholic Reporter

COLORADO

Colorado’s priest abuse reparations program has paid more than $3 million to 28 victims so far
“The Catholic Church so far has paid more than $3 million to 28 victims of priest abuse in Colorado as part of a review of claims by an independent committee. The work of the oversight committee is ongoing, but its leaders announced Wednesday (Apr. 22) that they have received claims from 91 victims of abuse by priests who worked in one of Colorado’s three dioceses.” By Jennifer Brown, Colorado Sun

FLORIDA

Sexual abuse lawsuit filed in Polk County against retired priest
“On Monday, April 27, 2020 sex abuse attorney Adam Horowitz filed a Complaint in Polk County Circuit Court against Catholic priest Father Fred Ruse, who in 2018, suddenly retired from the active ministry. The suit, filed on behalf of a Sarasota County man, alleges that in 2001 and 2002, he was sexually abused multiple times by Father Ruse in a classroom and in the chaplain’s office at the Demilly Correctional Institution in Polk City, Florida, when the plaintiff was approximately 14 and 15 years old.” By Horowitz Law

HAWAII

Hawaii courts filling with sex abuse cases
“Fallout from a slew of recently filed sexual abuse lawsuits has a trustee from Punahou Schools stepping down. According to the school, Monica McLaren voluntarily stepped down from the Board, after her husband Christopher McLaren was named in one of several civil cases against Punahou. Hawaii courts have filled with last minute filings for sexual abuse cases.” By Paul Drewes, KITV-TV4 News

IDAHO

Idaho court upholds ex-priest’s prison sentence
“A former Boise priest convicted of possessing violent and extreme child pornography will be sentenced to 25 years imprisonment, an appellate court ruled. William “Tom” Faucher, 74, was sentenced in December 2018 without the possibility of parole after pleading guilty to distribution of sexually exploitative material, possession of sexually exploitative materials and drug possession, the Idaho Statesman reported.” By Associated Press in Lewiston Tribune

LOUISIANA

Louisiana priest convicted of molestation released on bond
“A former Louisiana priest convicted of molesting an altar boy was released from jail on bond over coronavirus safety concerns. Michael Guidry, 77, was released Friday (APR. 24) nearly a year after he pleaded guilty to molesting a 16-year old boy after giving him alcohol in Guidry’s home. The victim said in a civil lawsuit that he woke up one day in 2015 after doing chores in Guidry’s home and found the former priest molesting him. The victim told authorities about the molestation when he was an adult, four years after it happened.” By Associated Press on WBRZ-TV2 News

Survivors of clergy sex abuse want accountability following priest released on house arrest
“The release of a priest convicted of molesting a teenage boy is raising questions for the judicial system and the COVID-19 pandemic. Michael Guidry is out on bail tonight (Apr. 27). One-year-ago this week, he was sentenced to 10 years in prison, with three years suspended, after pleading guilty to molestation of a juvenile. According to court records, Guidry's defense counsel, Jane Hogan, requested an emergency appeal hearing due to the COVID-19 pandemic.” By Chris Welty, KATC-TV3 News

MAINE

Maine high court upholds sex crime convictions of defrocked priest
“The Maine Supreme Judicial Court on Thursday (Apr. 23) upheld all but one of the 11 convictions of a former priest who is serving 16 years in prison for sexually assaulting a boy during multiple vacations 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.” By Matt Byrne, Portland Press Herald

MISSOURI

Springfield-Cape Girardeau Diocese releases investigation into priest with many ties to the Ozarks
“The Springfield-Cape-Girardeau Diocese reports a review board determined inappropriate physical/sexual misconduct involving a priest. Father Gary Carr became an ordained priest in 1982. He then served at several churches and schools in the diocese, including in Springfield, Monett and West Plains. The allegations involve a male student between the ages of 10-13. The report has been forwarded to the Stoddard County Prosecuting Attorney's Office in southeast Missouri. This is only a report from the diocese. Police have not arrested Father Carr.” By KY3-TV News

MONTANA

Montana sees flurry of child sex abuse lawsuits as deadline approaches
“The one-year window Montana lawmakers opened to give child sex abuse survivors a chance to bring old claims is closing soon, and a flurry of lawsuits is hitting the courts. Adults who were abused as children have until May 6 to bring claims otherwise barred by the statute of limitations. The Montana Legislature created the window in 2019,” By Phoebe Tollefson, Helena Independent Record

NEW JERSEY

‘Prolific pedophile’ priest dies in News Jersey nursing home
“A pedophile priest who was defrocked in New Jersey after admitting abusing a dozen children has died in a nursing home, the diocese confirmed to The Post. James Hanley — who abused young parishioners in Mendham and Pompton Plains over the course of 14 years — died last week, the diocese’s attorney, Kenneth Mullaney, confirmed.” By Lee Brown, New York Post

NEW YORK

Buffalo seeks halt to outstanding sex abuse lawsuits
“The Roman Catholic Diocese of Buffalo has taken legal action seeking to stop all outstanding clergy sexual abuse lawsuits while it navigates bankruptcy proceedings in federal court. The diocese filed a motion in federal bankruptcy court on Saturday (May 2) seeking an injunction on lawsuits filed under New York’s Child Victims Act. About 250 lawsuits have been filed against the diocese since August, when the act gave victims one year to pursue even decades-old allegations of abuse.” By Associated Press

23 suspended Catholic priests to lose their pay and health insurance
“In the last few days, 23 suspended priests have been contacted by senior leadership of the Buffalo Catholic Diocese and told they lose their pay and health insurance on Friday (Apr. 24). These are men who have ‘substantiated’ allegations of sexual abuse. They remain priests, but can't hold themselves out as priests, are not allowed to say Mass publicly or wear clerical garb.” By Mike Desmond, WBFO-FM National Public Radio

Accused priests cannot be left ‘destitute’
“The Diocese of Buffalo clarified on Friday (May 1) that priests accused of sexual abuse cannot be left ‘destitute,’ even as the diocese acts to withdraw financial support payments. The diocese had announced earlier this week that 23 priests “with substantiated allegations of sexual abuse” would no longer receive financial assistance or health benefits from the Diocese of Buffalo as of May 1. However, the diocese said that pension plans would not be affected by the decision.” By Matt Hadro, Catholic News Agency

OHIO

Diocese of Toledo names seven deceased priests accused of sexual abuse
“The Diocese of Toledo on Wednesday (Apr. 29) released the names of seven deceased clerics who are credibly accused of sexual abuse. In each case an accuser had come forward after the cleric had died. The Diocesan Review Board considered their cases this year and last year. The diocese for years declined to name or consider allegations against clerics in such cases ‘as they can neither defend themselves against the accusation nor possibly be a future threat to anyone if the allegation were true,’ according to an explanation the diocese provided for years on its website.” By Nicki Gorny, The Blade

PENNSYLVANIA

Philadelphia Archdiocese committed to paying $130 million to sex abuse victims
“In a profound letter to parishioners, the newly installed Archbishop of Philadelphia, Nelson Perez, addressed claims of prior priest sex abuse of children head-on, saying the archdiocese is committed to paying about $130 million in reparations. When new Archbishop Perez came to Philadelphia from Cleveland a few months ago, he inherited a mess stemming from the priest sex abuse scandal. But on Tuesday (May 5), he says in a letter that he deeply regrets the pain and suffering of survivors and any decisions that failed to protect them.” By Dann Cuellar, WPVI-TV6 News

TEXAS

Dallas priest accused of abuse removed from ministry
“The Diocese of Dallas has removed a priest from the ministry after sexual abuse allegations arose in the Colombian archdiocese where he formerly served. Father Oscar Mora was among 19 priests suspended last month by the Catholic Archdiocese of Villavicencio after the allegation arose earlier this year, The Dallas Morning News reported Monday (Apr. 27).” By Associated Press on Cruxnow.com

WISCONSIN

Waukesha County DA will not pursue new charges against priest accused of sex assault
“The Waukesha County District Attorney will not pursue new charges against a priest accused of sexual assault of a teenage girl. Father Charles Hanel was accused of sexually assaulting a 13-year-old girl in December 2017 during confession at Queen of Apostles Church.” By FOX6 News

AUSTRALIA

On the right track, work still to be done for Christian Brothers
“The audit, by the Catholic Professional Standards Ltd, found that the Christian Brothers had either implemented or was substantially progressed in the implementation of 91 (89 per cent) out of the 102 indicators relevant to the province under the National Catholic Safeguarding Standards. CPSL chief executive Sheree Limbrick said that on the back of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, CPSL is auditing Church organizations across Australia to make sure they have sound and robust processes in place to keep children safe.” By CathNews.com

Notorious pedophile priest Gerald Ridsdale is almost certain to die in jail
“Pedophile priest Gerald Ridsdale is likely to die in jail as he faces more sexual abuse charges. The 85-year-old will be heard on May 14 for 10 indecent assault charges and four buggery charges in Victoria between 1973 and 1979 to further his time behind bars. The charges will likely extend his time behind bars beyond 2022, his earliest release date. Ridsdale is suffering chronic health problems including heart conditions, arthritis, bowel problems and high blood pressure.” By Australian Associated Press and Jackson Barron for Daily Mail Australia

After 26 years, Eileen Piper has finally won an apology from the Catholic Church for her daughter's abuse
“It's taken 26 years, reams of legal documents and many tears, but Eileen Piper has done what she set out to do — cleared the name of her daughter, Stephanie, who was abused by a Catholic priest in the 1970s. In December, Mrs Piper, 95, received a written apology from Melbourne's Archbishop, Peter Comensoli, and the Pallotine order of priests which, for years, had denied the crimes of Father Gerard Mulvale.” By Karen Percy, ABC News

‘The Catholic Church should close the Christian Brothers down’
“A McGowan Government minister and former student of CBC Fremantle has publicly criticized the Christian Brothers for a lack of care towards the victims of child sexual abuse. Dave Kelly, the MLA for Bassendean, attended CBC Fremantle in the 1970s from grade 4 to grade 12. Today on Mornings with Gareth Parker he has revealed his disgust with the Christian Brothers for failing to reckon with their shameful past in dealing with the legacy of child sexual abuse.” By Gareth Parker, 6PRNews

CANADA

Supreme Court says Basilian Fathers responsible for $2.5M in damages to sexual abuse victim Rod MacLeod
“Rod MacLeod, the victim of a pedophile priest in the 1960s at a Sudbury high school, said he hopes his latest legal victory will inspire other sexual abuse victims to come forward and ‘seek justice through the court.’ MacLeod made the comments on April 30 when the Supreme Court of Canada rejected the Basilian Fathers of Toronto’s bid for a further appeal after they were held responsible when one of their priests was convicted in 2011 of abusing 17 students at schools over a 38-year period.” By SooToday.com

Supreme Court rejects Catholic Church appeal to reduce damages in sex abuse case
“The Supreme Court has rejected an appeal from a Catholic teaching order concerning damages awarded to a former Sudbury high school student. Lawyer Rob Talach says Father Hodgson Marshall was convicted of sexually abusing his client, Rod MacLeod, who was a student at St. Charles College from 1963-1967. In 2011, Marshall was ultimately convicted of abusing 17 young people over his 38-year career. He served two years in federal prison and died in 2014.” By CBC News