Keep the Faith, Change the Church.

Voice of the Faithful Focus, Oct. 20, 2016

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

TOP STORIES

Victims of priests’ abuse face a choice
“If you were sexually abused as a child by a priest of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of New York, Cardinal Timothy Dolan wants to give you money. He announced a settlement program this month that will be run by an independent mediator, Kenneth Feinberg. It will review claims and decide on an amount, which church officials will not be able to alter or reject. The settlements will not be capped; the archdiocese has promised to pay whatever it takes, by selling assets or borrowing. There are strings attached.” By The New York Times Editorial Board

Pope Francis names 17 new cardinals, including three Americans
Pope Francis on Sunday (Oct. 9) named 17 new cardinals, including three Americans, adding prelates from developing countries to give them a greater voice in selecting the next pope. Francis’ American appointments elevate moderates in the church hierarchy, bypassing doctrinal conservatives from large archdioceses … Francis had skipped over the United States in two previous rounds of appointments.” By Laurie Goodstein, The New York Times

Catholic Church needs better way to select bishops
“By now it should be clear. Pope Francis really believes there is a serious lack of quality among priests and bishops in the Catholic church. Otherwise, he would not talk so often about the negative traits of certain men in ordained ministry, as he's done again several times in recent days. ‘The world is tired of lying charmers and -- allow me say -- of 'fashionable' priests or 'fashionable' bishops,’ the pope said on Sept. 16 to a group of 94 bishops consecrated in the last two years for dioceses in mission territories.” By Robert Mickens, National Catholic Reporter

Canadian bishops write letter affirming importance of laity
“The Episcopal Commission for Doctrine of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB) has released a new document entitled ‘The Co-responsibility of the lay Faithful in the Church and the World.’ This pastoral letter explores the great responsibility of the laity in God’s plan for the world, in which they are not simply collaborators of the clergy but are truly ‘co-responsible’ for the Church’s being and acting.” By Zenit: The World Seen from Rome

Sniffing out good bishops emerges as key papal priority
To say a bishop ‘smells like his sheep’ is considered high praise today, and is one of the top characteristics Pope Francis says he wants in bishops and candidates for the position of guiding a diocese. But like many of the other traits Pope Francis says he is looking for, there is no foolproof smell test and, in fact, a variety of sheep with varied scents are present in most dioceses. Pope Francis’s instruction - almost a plea - to the world’s apostolic nuncios Sept. 17 to ‘cast the nets’ wider when identifying potential new pastors for a diocese and his continuing discussion with his international Council of Cardinals about ‘the spiritual and pastoral profile necessary for a bishop today’ make it clear that providing good shepherds for every diocese is a responsibility the pope takes seriously.” By Cindy Wooden, Catholic News Service, on Cruxnow.com

POPE FRANCIS NAMES NEW CARDINALS

Pope sends U.S. church message with cardinal choices
“Pope Francis named 17 new cardinals Sunday, adding like-minded prelates from dioceses big and small to the club who will elect the next pope. Three were Americans in a clear signal to the conservative U.S. church hierarchy that Francis wants moderate pastors at the helm of the U.S. church. The U.S. appointments also sent a more subtle political message, weeks before the U.S. election, with the surprise pick of Indianapolis Archbishop Joseph Tobin … The other new U.S. "princes" of the church include the leading U.S. moderate, Chicago Archbishop Blase Cupich, and outgoing Dallas Bishop Kevin Farrell, whom Francis tapped in August to head the Vatican's new family and laity office.” By Nicole Winfield with Rachel Zoll, Associated Press
 -- Pope Francis names 17 new cardinals, including Chicago’s Cupich and Indianapolis’ Tobin, By Joshua J. McElwee, National Catholic Reporter
 -- With Pope’s cardinal picks, Bernardin’s ‘seamless garment’ is back, By John L. Allen, Jr., Cruxnow.com
 -- Pope Francis’s cardinal choices bring surprises, especially for U.S. Church, By David Gibson, Religion News Service
 -- Chicago archbishop to be made a cardinal, By Reuters, in Crain’s Chicago Business
 -- New cardinals signal a shift away from U.S. culture wars, By Michael O’Loughlin, America: The National Catholic Review
 -- Women priests, politics and Communion: what the Pope’s new cardinals believe, By Catholic Herald
 -- List of new Catholic cardinals named by Pope Francis, By Yahoo News

“AMORIS LAETITIA”

Louisville offers a model of real dialogue about ‘Amoris Laetitia’
“For several years, a group of us have been meeting to share a meal and talk about theology. At our most recent get-together at the rectory of Louisville’s Cathedral of the Assumption, we did what we usually do: tossed our readings on the old wooden table, grabbed soft drinks and slices of pizza, and caught up on what’s been happening in each others’ lives since we last met. Our gathering is not entirely unlike those gatherings that would take place in the early church in which believers would gather in homes to reflect in sincerity of heart on the movement of the Holy Spirit in a communal setting. Rather than the usual classic text from church history, however, this time we’d chosen something far more recent: Pope Francis’s apostolic exhortation Amoris Laetitia (‘The Joy of Love’).” Commentary by Archbishop Joseph Kurtz and Gregory Hills, Cruxnow.com

Report on Reception and Implementation of Amoris Laetitia in the United States
“At the request of His Eminence Lorenzo Cardinal Baldisseri, General Secretary of the Office of the Synod of Bishops, a survey was conducted of bishops and leaders of national Catholic organizations in the United States of America in order to determine how our Holy Father Pope Francis’ Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation Amoris Laetitia is being received and implemented throughout the country. By July-August 2016, responses were received from fifty-nine dioceses across the United States, as well as from eighteen national organizations.” By the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops
 -- Amoris Laetitia, a tremendous gift for Church and families in the U.S., a statement from Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz of Louisville, President of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Sept. 27, 2016

Tug of war over Amoris
“When Pope Francis published Amoris Laetitia five months ago, I predicted that the discussion of the document and its implications for Catholic teaching on marriage and the family would be lively and sometimes acrimonious. So it has turned out. The debate took a fresh turn last week with the publication of theoretically private correspondence between the Pope and the bishops of his native Argentina concerning the interpretation of a central point.” By Fr. Mark Drew, Catholic Herald

DICASTERY FOR LAITY, FAMILY AND LIFE

Prefect for Dicastery for Laity, Family and Life appointed cardinal
“The recently appointed Prefect for the Pontifical Dicastery for Laity, Family and Life is one of the 17 men who will receive a red hat in the Vatican during the next Consistory. Bishop Kevin J. Farrell was nominated by Pope Francis to become a new Cardinal during the Consistory on 19 November in St. Peter’s Basilica.” By Vatican Radio

PONTIFICAL COMMISSION FOR THE PROTECITON OF MINORS

Clergy abuse survivor says Vatican commission is making progress
“The only abuse survivor currently serving on a panel set up by Pope Francis to fight clerical sexual abuse says the Catholic Church is making good progress and welcomed changes initiated by the Vatican and the pontiff. Marie Collins, who was raped at age 13 by a hospital chaplain in Ireland, is a member of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors. ‘I have complained about slowness and frustration in the past,’ Collins told RNS this week. ‘From my point of view as a survivor, I would like everything to happen tomorrow. But, she continued, ‘We have had some really positive moves.’” By Josephine McKenna, Religion News Service

POPE FRANCIS

Has Pope Francis failed?
“When Pope Francis ascended to the chair of St. Peter in March 2013, the world looked on in wonder. Here at last was a pope in line with the times, a man who preferred spontaneous gestures to ritual forms. Francis paid his own hotel bill and eschewed the red shoes. Rather than move into the grand papal apartments, he settled in the cozy guesthouse for visitors to the Vatican. He also set a new nondogmatic tone with statements like ‘Who am I to judge?’ By Matthew Schmitz, Commentary in The New York Times

Francis’ plans for Church reform (Part II)
“Within a month of his election in March 2013, Pope Francis signaled that curial reform was on his agenda by creating the council of eight cardinals (which in July 2014 grew by one, becoming known as the C9). The council held its first meeting in October 2013, but in the years to follow there was little to suggest that comprehensive reform was on the way … But something may be happening soon, judging from an article in Italian Catholic magazine Il Regno by Bishop Marcello Semeraro, secretary of the C9 and one of only two members from within the curia (Cardinal Pietro Parolin is the other).” By Massimo Faggioli, Commonweal magazine

On communion debate, Pope Francis opts for decentralization
Whether Pope Francis intended it or not, by saying that the implementation of his document ‘Amoris Laetitia’ depended on the guidelines of local bishops, he has decentralized resolution of the debate over Communion for divorced and civilly remarried Catholics.” By John L. Allen, Jr., Cruxnow.com

A year after Philadelphia visit, Pope Francis remains source of pride, hope for local Catholics
The cheers — jubilant, multilingual and deafening — preceded Pope Francis as he paraded along the Benjamin Franklin Parkway prior to serving Mass to some 900,000 people who had poured into Center City from all over the world. Faces were full of wide smiles and joyous tears as the Holy Father occasionally paused to bless babies or kiss sick children. Monday (Sept. 26) marks one year since Pope Francis arrived in Philadelphia for a whirlwind weekend capped by that stirring Mass on the Parkway.” By John Kopp, PhillyVoice.com

Pope moves the ball on oft-boring work of Vatican reform
Here’s the thing about important historical reforms: They almost never happen all at once. Usually the turning points that matter unfold over protracted periods of time, and their contents are, frankly, often boring as hell at the level of detail. We got another reminder of the point on Thursday (Sept. 22), as the Vatican released a set of statutes for a new ‘Secretariat of Communications’ approved by Pope Francis more than a year ago as part of his broader reform of the Roman Curia, the Vatican’s central administrative bureaucracy.” By John L. Allen, Jr., Cruxnow.com

STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS REFORM

New York Democrats expect to approve Child Victims Act if they gain control of the Senate
“State Senate Democrats are expected to make passage of a bill making it easier for child sex abuse victims to seek justice as adults one of their first priorities if they win the majority this fall. Several Democrats say they expect the Child Victims Act will be among the first bills passed if the Democrats take control of the chamber.” By Kenneth Lovett, New York Daily News

Victims celebrate passage of Bill 326, but say they’re far from done
“It's a law that opposers have said could potentially bankrupt the local Catholic Church. While others say it's a step toward healing for victims of child sexual abuse. Late Friday (Sept. 23) afternoon, Governor Eddie Calvo put pen to paper and signed the highly-controversial Bill 326 into law. While the church braces for doomsday, survivors celebrate." By Krystal Paco, KUAM-TV

A.G. Bruce Beemer contradicts opinion taken by Senate on constitutionality of statute of limitations
“The Pennsylvania lawmaker who has spearheaded the movement to reform the state's child sex crimes law says he is emboldened by the fact that the state's newly appointed top law enforcement official is leaning on the side of reform. ‘It's great day for victims knowing we have an attorney general who is not afraid to stand up and do what is right and fight for the victims of this commonwealth,’ said Rep. Mark Rozzi D-Berks.” By Ivey DeJesus, PennLive.com

CELIBACY

Not enough celibate priests? Make way for married priests
“Pope Francis received in audience a few days ago the Brazilian cardinal Cláudio Hummes, accompanied by the archbishop of Natal, Jaime Vieira Rocha. Hummes, 82, former archbishop of São Paulo and prefect of the Vatican congregation for the clergy. He is today the president both of the commission for the Amazon of the episcopal conference of Brazil and of the Pan-Amazonian Network that joins together 25 cardinals and bishops of the surrounding countryside, in addition to indigenous representatives of different local ethnicities. And in this capacity he supports, among others, the proposal to make up for the scarcity of celibate priests in immense areas like the Amazon by also conferring sacred ordination upon ‘viri probati,’ meaning men of proven virtue, married.” By Sandro Magister, L’espresso

VOICES

Nun-administrator: Priests, laity can cooperate for higher good
“A good partnership between priests and lay ecclesial ministers can help both thrive in their proper roles, says an Oregon nun retiring after decades in parish leadership. Holy Names Sister Phyllis Jaszkowiak, 72, served at St. Charles Parish in Northeast Portland as pastoral administrator, meaning she oversaw administrative tasks at the church while a priest led sacramental ministry.” By Ed Langlois, Catholic Sentinel

Supporters rally in Hoboken for gay priest suspended by archbishop
“Clergy, parishioners, public officials and other LGBT rights advocates held a rally in Hoboken Wednesday (Sept. 21) night in support of a gay priest stripped of his religious authority and his job at two Hudson churches after speaking out in favor of a Catholic school faculty member fired for being in a same-sex marriage.” By Steve Strunsky, NJ Advance Media for NJ.com

The new know-nothings
“It was a time of great economic uncertainty and political turmoil. The next election promised to move the nation closer to a terrible precipice, and the native-born were frustrated by their diminished status, one accelerated by an apparently endless flow of newcomers who seemed destined to dislocate and replace them. Cries of ‘America for Americans’ rose across the anxious republic … In the 19th century the Catholic Church was considered the nexus of the disorder that the nativists believed imperiled a near-deified Republic.” By the Editors at America: The National Catholic Review

WOMEN RELIGIOUS

Tobin to be cardinal, formed by and called advocate of women religious
“When Pope Francis named Indianapolis Archbishop Joseph Tobin as one of three U.S. bishops to be elevated to cardinal next month, Catholic sisters around the country rejoiced -- especially the Sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary in Monroe, Michigan. As Immaculate Heart of Mary Sr. Sharon Holland put it, calling Global Sisters Report from Monroe, ‘There's a lot of happiness in this big house of IHMs.’” By Dawn Araujo-Hawkins, Global Sisters Report, National Catholic Reporter

WOMEN IN THE CHURCH

Deacons, millennials part of bishops’ conversation at women’s conference
“All the major speakers at ‘Women of the Church: A Catholic Leadership Conference’ this weekend (Oct. 7-9) were women -- except for two. Archbishop Joseph Tobin, CSsR, of Indianapolis and Bishop Charles Thompson of Evansville, Ind., were part of a moderated conversation during the three-day conference in southern Indiana. Answering questions from attendees that had been collected in advance, the bishops expressed support for women deacons, the possibility for women preaching and a desire to dialogue with younger ‘millennial’ women.” By Heidi Schlumpf, National Catholic Reporter

Doctrinal congregation convokes meeting on role of women in the church
“Leaders of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith spent three days in late September listening to women theologians, canon lawyers, Scripture scholars and specialists in other academic fields talk about roles women have played in the Catholic church and roles they could play in the future. After the symposium Sept. 26-28 was over, the congregation issued a brief statement outlining the topics discussed and listing the women who made formal presentations. The congregation said the papers will be published at a later date.” By Cindy Wooden, Catholic News Service, in National Catholic Reporter

CHURCH FINANCES

Former Battle Creek priest resigns after finance probe
“A priest who worked at St. Philip Catholic Church in Battle Creek in the late 1970s has resigned after a financial investigation into two churches' funds. According to a Diocese of Kalamazoo news release Sunday, the Rev. Richard Fritz, 69, resigned Thursday, a day after Bishop Paul Bradley received an audit report of financial records at Colon's St. Barbara Mission and St. Mary of the Assumption in Bronson.” By Andy Fitzpatrick, Battle Creek Enquirer, in Detroit Free Press

Lawyer fees reach $11 million for Twin Cities archdiocese
“The Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis has racked up $11 million in fees to attorneys and other professionals since declaring bankruptcy in January 2015.Another $1 million is divided between the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and the Minnesota Catholic Conference, a lobbying organization … The spending, revealed in the archdiocese's monthly financial reports filed in U.S. Bankruptcy Court, offers a rare view of the financial operations of the archdiocese — home to a reported 800,000 Catholics in the 12-county metro area.” By Jean Hopfensperger, Star Tribune

CLERGY CHILD SEXUAL ABUSE

Witness: Fr. Hans Zollner, S.J., member of Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors
“Over the past decade, Fr. (Hans) Zollner, (S.J.), has become an articulate, leading, sought after expert and prolific author in the area of the Safeguarding of Minors and Child Sexual Abuse Prevention as well as in the area of Spirituality of Priesthood and Consecrated Life. He has visited over 35 countries and addressed the ecclesial leadership of each country on these topics.” Interview of Fr. Zollner by Fr. Thomas Rosica, C.S.B., CEO, Salt & Light Catholic Media Foundation

Window for sex-abuse clams could open after all
“A push to allow victims of clergy sex abuse the right to sue for damages in old cases is barreling toward a vote, with support from key state officials. The House last spring opened a window allowing victims of old sex crimes to sue for damages. The window was snapped closed by the Senate, which voted only to extend the statute of limitations on those cases moving forward. Rep. Mark Rozzi, D-Berks County, who has pushed to allow victims to seek justice against their molesters and church leaders who’ve covered up the crimes, said he believes House lawmakers will revive the retroactivity clause, giving the Senate another chance to pass it this fall.” By John Finnerty, The Herald, Sharon, Penn.

CALIFORNIA

California governor signs bill dumping rape-reporting limit
“The emotional stories of women who say they were sexually assaulted more than a decade ago by comedian Bill Cosby prompted California state lawmakers to approve a bill to eliminate the state's 10-year limit on filing rape and related charges. On Wednesday (Sept. 28), Gov. Jerry Brown announced that he has approved the legislation to revoke that limitation. Beginning next year, the bill will end the statute of limitations in certain rape and child molestation cases. It will also end the time limit on older cases in which the statute of limitations has not yet expired.” By Don Thompson, Associated Press, on Newser.com

Diocese of Stockton submits bankruptcy plan
“The Diocese of Stockton has filed a reorganization plan with the bankruptcy court that, if approved, will allocate $15 million to the more than two dozen victims of sexual abuse that have come forward since 2014.” By Sabra Stafford, Turlock Journal

CONNECTICUT

Archdiocese of Hartford settles sexual abuse claim against priest
“The Archdiocese of Hartford has agreed to settle a 16-year-old sexual abuse claim against one of its priests. According to a press release issued by the plaintiff 's lawyers, "John Doe" as he was known in court documents was repeatedly abused, battered, and sexually assaulted over a six month period by Edward Warnakulasuriya, also known as Edward Tissera, a Sri Lankan priest who at the time was the associate pastor at St. John the Evangelist Church in Watertown.” By Ray Hardman, WNPR-FM, Connecticut Public Media

ILLINOIS

Chicago-based religious order sued for docs on allegations
“A 51-year-old Colorado man who says he was sexually abused when he was around 7 years old by a teenager who later became a prominent Roman Catholic priest — one known for his work with at-risk kids — on Monday (Sept. 26) sued the Chicago-based religious order to which the priest belongs, seeking the release of all records related to allegations of abuse by any of its priests. Eric Johnson's lawsuit names the Claretians Missionaries, a 165-year-old order that has around 3,000 priests and brothers in about 60 countries, as the defendant. The suit filed in Cook County Circuit Court says that Father Bruce Wellems was around 15 when the abuse occurred in the early 1970s. Johnson says the abuse occurred over about a year.” By Michael Tarm, Associated Press

Chicago church official claims not to have seen child porn
“The ABC7 I-Team has new details on how the Chicago Archdiocese handled the investigation of a priest in a child pornography case. On the surface, this child porn scandal involves Rev. Octavio Munoz who once ran the crown jewel of the church's Hispanic priest outreach program, Casa Jesus.” By Chuck Goudie, Ross Weidner, Barb Markoff, Christine Tressel, WLS-TV, ABC News, Chicago
 -- Archdiocese waited week before child porn allegation against priest, By Steve Schmadeke, Chicago Tribune
 -- Catholic priest streamed web cam video of naked boy, By Lorraine Swanson, Chicago Patch
 -- Chicago priest removed from ministry faces child porn charge, By Associated Press on Cruxnow.com

MASSACHUSETTS

Former priests, parish volunteer, baseball coach pleads ‘not guilty’ to sexual assault accusations
“A former Roman Catholic priest pleaded not guilty Wednesday (Sept. 28) morning to two counts of rape of a child and three counts of indecent assault and battery on a child, assaults he allegedly committed while volunteering as a baseball coach and as an ‘altar boy coordinator’ at a Dorchester parish, decades earlier. According to the Suffolk County District Attorney's office, Michael Walsh later went on to become a priest, but was ‘relieved of those duties’ in 2002.” By Alison Bauter, BostonPatch.com
 -- Former altar boy coordinator at Dorchester church charged with sexual abuse, By CBS-TV News, Boston

MINNESOTA

‘I knew it wasn’t right’: Winona woman speaks out about sexual abuse by priest
“A Minnesota woman calls it the untold story in the Catholic Church sex abuse scandal. Jeanie Hansen says a priest beat and raped her when she went to college in Winona. Other women came forward with similar claims against the same man but the priest was never publicly named as doing anything wrong.” By Liz Collin, WCCO-TV CBS News

Documents reveal dismissed criminal case against archdiocese
One thousand pages of documents released by the Ramsey County Attorney’s Office and St. Paul Police detail the criminal investigation into the Archdiocese of St. Paul-Minneapolis. Those documents focus heavily on the conduct of former Archbishop John Nienstedt, who resigned 16 months ago. Criminal charges in the case were dismissed in July as part of broad civil settlement with the Archdiocese. Concerns about Wehmeyer’s sexual compulsivity were raised before he even became a priest, when he was still in seminary. According to the documents, Nienstedt ‘was fond’ of Wehmeyer, who even believed Nienstedt was ‘grooming’ him for a sexual encounter.” By Tom Lyden, FOX9 News, St. Paul, Minn.

MISSOURI

Woman sues Belleville Diocese over allegations of sexual exploitation by priest
“A lawsuit filed Tuesday (Oct. 10) in St. Clair County alleges the Belleville Diocese ‘created a foreseeable zone of risk of sexual abuse and exploitation’ by a Roman Catholic priest. The Rev. Osang Idagbo, currently the parish administrator at Sts. Peter and Paul Church in Waterloo, is accused of manipulating a vulnerable woman between December 2013 and July 2015, while she sought his counsel about becoming Catholic and getting through a rough relationship with her husband.” By Jesse Bogan, St. Louis Post-Dispatch

NEW JERSEY

Sex abuse lawsuits mount against ex-priest
“Two more sex abuse lawsuits were filed this month accusing a New Jersey priest of sexually abusing children when they attended a Catholic school in the 1980s. That brings the total lawsuits lodged against the Archdiocese of Newark and the Rev. Mitch Walters to three.” By Jessica Mazzola, N.J. Advance Media for NJ.com

NEW YORK

Pennsylvania man sexually abused by priest joins fight to fix New York law
Father George Koharchik made Shaun Dougherty feel special. The Roman Catholic priest let the boy sit on his lap and steer his car as they drove through the streets of Johnstown, Pa., where Koharchik was the pastor at St. Clement Church. He took Dougherty to ballgames and treated him to meals at fast-food restaurants. He played soccer and racquet ball with the boy, a red-headed 10-year-old with a splash of freckles across his face when he met Koharchik in 1980.” By Michael O’Keefe, New York Daily News

Sexual abuse advocates and attorneys warn Archdiocese of New York sexual abuse fund may be bait-and-switch
“At a press conference in front of St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City, sexual abuse attorneys along with survivors of sexual abuse warned that Cardinal Timothy Dolan’s recently proposed “Independent Reconciliation and Compensation Program” for those who have survived abuse by priests or deacons of the archdiocese, may be a bait-and-switch that could re-victimize survivors of abuse.” By Attorney Patrick Moaker, NoakerLaw.com

Irish priest in New York to be defrocked over 30-year-old sex abuse allegations
“The Archdiocese of New York has confirmed that priest who has been accused of the sexual abuse of a minor on two occasions in New York and Virginia, over three decades ago, will never function as a priest again. Monsignor John O’Keefe (71), formerly of Pearl River, NY and once president of a Westchester County Catholic high school, has been permanently removed from his ministry according to the lawyer for this alleged victim, Mitchell Garabedian.” By Kate Hickey, Irish Central
 -- Cardinal Dolan ousted priest for sex abuse claim, but accuser’s lawyer says children still at risk, By Michael O’Keefe, New York Daily News

PENNSYLVANIA

Diocese cooperating in investigation into abuse, ‘a grave sin and crime’
(Sept. 26, 2016) “The Diocese of Allentown this week affirmed its commitment to helping bring to justice those within its ranks who abuse minors. Bishop John O. Barres issued a statement Sunday saying the division of the Roman Catholic church is cooperating in a new Pennsylvania Attorney General's Office inquiry into handling of allegations of abuse. Diocese of Allentown spokesman Matt Kerr would not previously confirm the diocese's involvement in the grand jury investigation, or say if the diocese was subpoenaed.” By Kurt Breswein, Lehigh Valley Live

TEXAS

Sexual abuse survivors’ group targets local Catholic church
“When Michael Norris was 11, he got a bad case of poison ivy at summer camp - a pretty normal childhood experience. But that normal experience turned into lasting trauma when a Catholic priest working as a counselor at the all-boys camp invited the Kentucky pre-teen back to his cabin to ‘treat’ the outbreak - and instead molested him, Norris alleges. Now, more than 40 years later, Norris is trying to help today's children avoid a similar fate by spearheading a local awareness campaign targeting Catholic congregations.” By Keri Blakinger, Houston Chronicle

WASHINGTON

Bellingham parents withdraw kids from Catholic school over sex offender controversy
If a sex offender makes regular visits to an elementary school, who needs to know? Some parents at Assumption Catholic School, a preschool and K-8 school in Bellingham, believe staff erred by waiting a year to warn all families of a parent who was a registered level II sex offender. At least three families were so concerned by the way the situation was handled that they withdrew their children from the school.” By Caleb Hutton, Bellingham Herald

ARGENTINA

Argentine court fines Catholic church $50,000 for sex abuse
“A court in Buenos Aires on Saturday (Oct. 15) ordered the Catholic Church to pay $50,000 to a former seminarian who alleged he was sexually abused some 25 years ago by an Argentine archbishop. The breakthrough ruling is the first civil court judgment against the majority Roman Catholic church in Argentina, legal experts said.” By Agence France-Press on DigitalJournal.com

AUSTRALIA

Australia court says bishop to face charges he hid sex abuse
“A Roman Catholic archbishop in Australia on Friday (Oct. 14) failed for a second time to stop a criminal prosecution against him over allegations he covered up for a pedophile priest in the 1970s. Archbishop of Adelaide Philip Wilson, 66, was charged in April last year with concealing serious child sexual abuse in 1971. He has pleaded not guilty to the charge, which carries a potential two-year prison sentence. New South Wales state Supreme Court Justice Monika Schmidt on Friday (Oct. 14) rejected Wilson’s bid to have the charge dropped.” By Associated Press on Cruxnow.com

Former Catholic priest Vincent Gerard Ryan given suspended sentence for sex offences against boy
Notorious paedophile priest Vincent Gerard Ryan has been given a 15-month suspended sentence after pleading guilty to sex offences in the New South Wales Hunter region from the 1980s. The former Catholic priest pleaded guilty to acts of gross indecency and attempting sexual intercourse with a boy at a church in Gresford near Dungong, when he was parish priest.” By Antoinette Lattouf, ABC News Australia

Former Catholic priest charged over child sex abuse in New South Wales
“A former Catholic priest has been charged over child sexual assaults between 1999 and 2006 which took place in Leichhardt and Kempsey, NSW. Police say the 69-year-old was arrested in Port Macquarie last Friday. He faces multiple charges including sexual intercourse without consent, aggravated indecent assault, inciting an act of indecency with a victim under 16, committing an act of indecency and indecent assault.” By The Sydney Morning Herald

The Church must truly hear the cry of survivors: Bishop Kennedy
“‘It is crucial that the Church truly hear [the] cry’ of survivors of child sexual abuse by clergy, writes Armidale's Bishop Michael Kennedy in a pastoral letter after attending Royal Commission hearings. ‘I heard of their horror, pain, fear, and hurt. I heard of their betrayal.’ I have recently returned from the public hearing of the Royal Commission into the response of Catholic Church authorities to allegations of child sexual abuse by John Joseph Farrell.” By CathNews.com

Catholic Church accused of ignoring independent review of Melbourne response
“Catholic Archbishop Denis Hart has been accused of exacerbating the suffering of clerical abuse victims by ignoring an independent report on the archdiocese's compensation scheme that he received a year ago. Victims who want their compensation claims reviewed have been forced to wait while the Archdiocese of Melbourne continues to delay the release of the report, fuelling claims of stalling and obfuscation by the church.” By Cameron Houston and Chris Vedalago, The Age

Church official: Farrell ‘should never have been made a priest’
“A priest being examined by the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse was an ‘odd bod’ with a narcissistic personality who should never have been accepted into the priesthood, according to a Church official, reports the ABC. The Commission is examining how the dioceses at Armidale, in northern NSW, and Parramatta, in Sydney's west, responded to allegations made against then-Father John Joseph Farrell.” By CathNews.com
 -- Senior Catholic figure John Usher admits conflicting accounts about pedophile priest, By Australian Associated Press in The Guardian
 -- Farrell scandal puts Catholic church's attitude to Australian law under the microscope, By David Marr,, The Guardian

CANADA

Clergy abuse victim furious over diocesan ‘stonewalling’
“A woman scarred by clergy sex abuse is furious that the Archdiocese of Ottawa will not tell her if or when it will seek to defrock the Catholic priest who preyed upon her as a young teenager. Colleen Passard said she’s being ‘stonewalled’ by the diocese in her attempts to obtain information about the status of the review of Rev. Barry McGrory. That review is the first step in the laicization process described by Canon Law, the governing code of the Catholic Church.” By Andrew Duffy, Ottawa Citizen

GERMANY

Catholic Church to pay compensation to Regensburg abuse victims
“The Catholic Church has agreed to pay compensation to victims of physical and sexual abuse which took place while they were pupils at a famous boys’ choir school in Regensburg, Germany. Rudolf Volderholzer, the Bishop of the Regensburger Cathedral in Bavaria, has formally apologized. He says the Church will pay between 5,000 and 20,000 euros to each of the affected former students for abuses between 1953 and the 1990s.” By EuroNews.com

GUAM

Catholic Church reaches out to anyone with knowledge of clergy sex abuse
“The island's Catholic church has issued a new statement, encouraging anyone who knows about sexual abuse by clergy or others in the Archdiocese of Agana ‘today or in the past’ to contact the church’s sexual abuse response coordinator. The call comes shortly after Gov. Eddie Calvo signed into law a bill that would allow victims of child sex abuse to sue their abusers and the institutions with which they are associated, at any time.” By Haidee V. Eugenio, Pacific Daily News

Thousands sign petition opposing sex abuse bill in Guam
“The Catholic Church in Guam has collected more than 4,000 signatures for a petition opposing a bill that could expose it to sexual abuse lawsuits. Pacific News Center reports the Church has delivered the petition calling on Governor Eddie Calvo to veto the bill to his office. It collected 4,500 signatures in four days for the petition. The bill lifting the statute of limitations for civil action on child sex abuse claims was passed unanimously by the Guam legislature last week.” By Radio New Zealand

Guam’s Catholic Church accused of putting finances before abuse victims
“The Catholic Church in Guam is being accused of putting its assets ahead of abuse victims. The Church has launched a petition calling on Governor Eddie Calvo to veto a bill which would lift the statute of limitations on civil lawsuits in historical sex abuse cases. It warned it would be left bankrupt and scrambling to fund schools and social services if it was forced to pay settlements to abuse claimants.” By Radio New Zealand
 -- Guam Catholic Church warns of bankruptcy over abuse bill, By Radio New Zealand

IRELAND

Catholic Church safeguarding conference being held in Tullamore
“The Catholic Primate of All Ireland says the church must take whatever steps are necessary to prevent any child sexual abuse in future. Archbishop of Armagh Eamon Martin made the comments in Tullamore as he opened the National Safeguarding Conference.” By Midlands103.com

Abuse survivors felt ‘belittled’ during meeting with head of Catholic Church in Ireland
“Child abuse survivors have said they felt so ‘belittled’ during a meeting with the leader of the Catholic Church in Ireland, they almost walked out. They told a Stormont committee that Archbishop Eamon Martin had given the impression that he felt the church was now the victim … But they reserved their strongest criticism for the Catholic Church, claiming that during a meeting with Archbishop Martin in Armagh in July, he seemed to believe it was turning from an issue of concern about the abuse of children into a financial argument about compensation.” By Gareth Gordon, BBC News

Victims of paedophile Bill Kenneally want Fianna Fail, the Catholic church and Gardai to be investigated over the abuse
“Victims of pedophile Bill Kenneally have described the outcome of the case taken against him as a form of ‘window dressing.’ Six have said they now believe senior gardai, members of Fianna Fail, the Catholic Church and staff at the South Eastern Health Board were told about the abuse but failed to act. They are now pushing for a Commission of Investigation into who knew and ‘turned a blind eye.’ By Saoirse McGarrigle, Irish Mirror

MEXICO

Does the Mexican priest who allegedly abused minors even exist?
“After the Mexican branch of the ‘hacktivist’ group Anonymous reported that the Archdiocese of Mexico had let off an alleged priest who confessed to having molested 30 girls, the Church in Mexico has denied that the priest even exists, calling the Anonymous report ‘irresponsible and malicious.’” By Catholic News Agency