Keep the Faith, Change the Church.

Voice of the Faithful Focus, Sept. 9, 2016

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

TOP STORIES

Catholic Church groups fight bills to revive old sex abuse cases
“It's important to say right up front that this isn't a story about pedophile priests. Bridie Farrell is Roman Catholic, but she says it was her speedskating coach who sexually assaulted her when she was a teenager … Farrell did what a lot of kids do when they're molested: She kept silent. But 18 years later, when she was 31 years old, she went public with her story. The problem is that there's a ticking clock. In a lot of states, including New York, where Farrell was assaulted, if you don't report a rape or file a civil lawsuit fast enough, the perpetrator — whether it's a coach or relative or a priest — gets off scot-free.” By Brian Mann, All Things Considered, National Public Radio

Bishop of Albenga quits after scandal
“Pope Francis on Thursday (Sept. 1) accepted the resignation of Monsignor Mario Oliveri, the bishop of Albenga-Imperia near Savona in northern Italy, following a scandal surrounding priests in his diocese … Scandals that emerged in Oliveri's diocese included priests posting naked photos on gay websites, funds stolen from the church and priests involved (in) cases of child abuse.” By ANSA.it

Attorney General ties Jerry Sandusky cover-up prosecution to Catholic Church sex-abuse case
“State prosecutors are asking a trial judge to proceed with child endangerment charges against three former Penn State administrators charged as a result of the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse scandal … Prosecutors say the remaining counts against former Penn State President Graham Spanier and two of his top aides are justified by precedents set in the 2012 conviction of a high-ranking Catholic church official in Philadelphia.” By Charles Thompson, PennLive.com

Napa County now home for John Nienstedt, Twin Cities archbishop who resigned under legal cloud
“Minnesota and then Michigan evidently grew too hot for John Nienstedt, a former Catholic archbishop who was accused of protecting predatory priests and who now cools his heels in Wine Country. Nienstedt came far west after departing Minnesota under duress and stopping briefly in Michigan. A newspaper report out of Battle Creek earlier this year revealed that only two weeks after Nienstedt arrived and took a temporary church post there he ‘left amid a swirl of criticism.’ Residents opposed to his assignment hounded the diocese and the media, and pulled tuition support for a school associated with the church, according to another news report.” By Chris Smith, Press Democrat, Santa Rosa, California

Hunter (Australia) Catholic diocese was hopeful pedophile priest could be ‘cured’
“The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse hearing in Newcastle is investigating abuse at the hands of Vincent Ryan, a Catholic priest who worked in the Maitland-Newcastle diocese for decades … Dr. (Peter) Evans was questioned by the royal commission this morning (Sept. 2) about his session with Ryan. He said he had only ever offered an ‘assessment’ for Ryan, not treatment, and described the church's hope that Ryan could be ‘cured’ of paedophilia as ‘unrealistic.’” By David Marchese, ABC News Australia
 -- Editorial: Catholic Church and the crimes of its clergy, By Newcastle Herald Editorial Board
 -- Bishop: Abuse seen as ‘moral problem,’ not criminal act, By CathNews.com

“AMORIS LAETITIA”

In Amoris Laetitia, Francis’ model of conscience empowers Catholics
“Some have called Pope Francis' Amoris Laetitia, or ‘The Joy of Love,’ his reflection on the two recent Synods of Bishops on the family, a ‘love letter’ to families. We believe that Francis' teaching on conscience in that letter is one of the most important teachings in the apostolic exhortation. As various church bodies announced plans about how to implement Amoris Laetitia, it is instructive to see how they will present Francis' teaching on conscience.” By Michael G. Lawler, Todd Salzman, National Catholic Reporter

ACCOUNTABILITY

The trials and tribulations of the Vatican’s finance chief
“Late last year, Cardinal George Pell, the pope’s finance chief, hired PricewaterhouseCoopers to undertake a comprehensive audit of the Vatican’s finances. On a mandate from Pope Francis to clarify the city-state’s muddled accounts, the newly powerful cardinal had been assessing and tweaking the system; already he had found a total of €1.4 billion ‘tucked away’ off the books. His task was like pushing against the ancient stone walls of a basilica.” By Francis X. Rocca, The Wall Street Journal

CELIBACY

A very brief history of priestly celibacy in the Catholic Church
“Ask anyone about the history of priestly celibacy in the Catholic Church and you'll likely get one of a few standard responses. Jesus asked people to remain as He was and follow him. Or perhaps you'll get the answer that a wife would be a distraction for otherwise busy priests. Regardless of which response, they're all usually inadequate.” By Marshall Connolly, Catholic Online

VOICES

Of many things
“I can virtually guarantee you that if you attend Mass on Sunday morning in any parish in the United States, you will find yourself sitting in a pew near someone who disagrees with you about what the public policy should be on abortion. Or same-sex marriage. Or the death penalty.” By Matt Malone, S.J., America: The National Catholic Review

New Canadian archbishop: A church in dialogue doesn’t mean ‘yelling louder’
“The Catholic church will only be able to create changes in wider society if it engages in dialogue with those outside the faith community by ‘deeply listening’ to them on tough issues, says a new archbishop in Canada's southern province of Saskatchewan. Archbishop-designate Donald Bolen … said the church cannot expect to be heard just by speaking more loudly. ‘When we're dealing with really difficult and challenging questions we need to be faithful to church teaching, faithful to the kerygma, the revelation we're given, but we need to bring that into dialogue if we want to be taken seriously and if we want to have an influence on the world.’” By Joshua J. McElwee, national Catholic Reporter

Will next synod address ordaining ‘elders’ – both women and men?
“At issue, of course, is the crying need for the Eucharist and other Catholic sacraments … So I was fascinated to read about the proposal (Brazil Bishop Erwin) Kräutler and Cardinal Cláudio Hummes sent, at the pope's suggestion, to the Brazilian bishops' conference in November 2014. They reportedly spoke of ordaining ‘married community elders’ -- not ‘proven men.’ At the time, religious media interpreted this more inclusive term as referring only to married men, but I'm not so sure. For one thing, how would ordaining only men as ‘community elders’ be received by the thousands of priestless communities now being led by women?” By Christine Schenk, National Catholic Reporter

POPE FRANCIS

Pope asks Jesuits to educate diocesan clergy in practice of discernment
“When it comes to the Christian life, too many seminaries teach students a rigid list of rules that make it difficult or impossible for them as priests to respond to the real-life situation of those who come to them seeking guidance, Pope Francis said.” By Cindy Wooden, Catholic News Service
 -- Moving seminarians prompts discussion about formation, By Robert Mickens, National Catholic Reporter

FUTURE OF THE CHURCH

Why young Catholics are leaving the faith, and how to stop them
“Young Catholics are leaving the faith at an early age, sometimes before the age of 10. It's not because they are bored at Mass but because they are looking for proof of God, the author of a new report claims. Catholic News Agency has the story.” By CathNews.com

Preaching and hospitality fill churches
“In the past, people were often baptized, married and buried in their local church, but today about half of Americans at some point in their lives have looked for a new congregation, either in their own denomination or in another … According to a study released this week by the Pew Research Center, what matters to people looking for a new congregation is good preaching, feeling welcomed, and the style of worship of the congregation. Plus, if they have kids, programs for children are important.” By Thomas Reese, National Catholic Reporter

Catholic Church can’t be trusted to run Catholic schools: Catholic principal
“A Catholic principal has blasted the Catholic Church, saying school leaders are being pressured into ‘inappropriate’ situations and silenced. Paul Tobias, the outspoken principal of St Joseph's College Geelong, has called for an urgent review of the governance of Catholic primary and secondary schools. ‘The Catholic Church persists with antiquated governance models which are no longer appropriate, rather than distribute power appropriately,’ he said.” By Henrietta Cook, The Age, Australia

Ayr Catholic churches hit by ‘critical’ priest shortage with one father to cover four parishes
“Ayr’s clergy are in crisis thanks to a desperate priest shortage. Just one priest will be responsible for four churches after Canon Patrick Keegans was forced to step down last month through illness and Father Gerald Donnelly announced a move to Dumfries” By Michael Reynolds, Daily Record & Sunday Mail

A drop-off in faith participation reported for younger Catholics
“A new survey confirms what many have suspected: Catholics born in the 1980s and ’90s are less likely to be active in parish life and are more doubtful about God’s existence than their older peers. That’s according to a study published Tuesday (Aug. 16) by Georgetown University’sCenter for Applied Research in the Apostolate, which revisited a 2008 survey in order to look for changes in how Catholics of all ages practice the faith.” By Michael O’Loughlin, America: The National Catholic Review

CHURCH FINANCES

Police: Rockledge priest facing fraud lived above means
“It began with a simple question from a widow about her bank account and ended with Rockledge detectives and Orlando Diocese accountants poring over financial statements, looking into the spending habits of a longtime priest, 73-year-old Father Nicholas King. What detectives say they uncovered, according to court documents, was a priest who funneled money into his own private account with expenses that ranged from several hundred dollars in restaurant meals, a $9,000 down payment on a car, $6,000 to his sister, and $700 in spending at a gourmet chocolate shop.” By J.D. Gallop, Florida Today

Concerned Catholics: Church finance council members should resign
“A group that’s been calling for the resignation of Archbishop Anthony S. Apuron said four of the five members in the local Catholic church’s finance council should resign because of a clear or potential conflict of interest due to other posts they are holding.” By Haidee V. Eugenio, Pacific Daily News

How money corrupts the Catholic Church
“These were the closing words of our Gospel reading on Sunday (Sept. 4), from the Gospel of Luke, 14:33. It is strange to me that some of our fundamentalist friends neglect to cite this passage when they are raising money. And those Catholics who argue against even the possibility of any alteration in the Church's discipline regarding communion for the divorced and remarried because of the Lord's ‘clear words’ on the subject, do they, too, cite these ‘clear words’ and forgo raising any funds at their church or Catholic ministry? Of course not.” By Michael Sean Winters, National Catholic Reporter

Ex-employee charged with embezzling more than $100K from Newman Catholic Student Center at UNC
“A 25-year-old former administrator of the Newman Catholic Student Center at UNC has been charged with embezzling more than $100,000 from the organization, according to court records. Brian L. Cansler joined the Newman Center in 2014 as director of administration and later added the job of finance director, according to the center’s website. In addition to embezzlement, he is charged with obtaining property by false pretenses and financial card fraud, both felonies, according to court records. He turned himself in to authorities Monday and made his first appearance in court Tuesday.” By Mark Schultz, The News & Observer

CLERGY CHILD SEXUAL ABUSE

SNAP concerned with survivor confidentiality after judge’s sanctions
“After a St. Louis federal judge levied sanctions last week against the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests for resisting a court order to turn over documents containing victim information, the advocacy group says it worries what such pursuits pose to survivor confidentiality going forward.” By Brian Roewe, National Catholic Reporter
 -- Messenger: Court ruling puts Missouri confidentiality for rape victims in question, By Tony Messenger, St. Louis Post-Dispatch

CALIFORNIA

Supporters urge governor to sign bill ending statute of limitations in prosecuting rape
“Flanked by alleged sexual assault victims and their supporters, state Sen. Connie Leyva (D-Chino) urged Gov. Jerry Brown on Tuesday (Srpt. 6) to end California's statute of limitations for rape. The Legislature sent Leyva's bill, SB 813, to Brown last week. He has until Sept 30 to sign the bill, which would end the time limit in California for prosecuting rape, child sexual abuse and other felony sex crimes.” By Sophia Bollag, Los Angeles Times

CONNECTICUT

Norwich Diocese, retired bishop sued in priest sex abuse case
“A 37-year-old Woodstock man who says he was sexually assaulted hundreds of times by a Catholic priest while serving as an altar boy at the Holy Trinity Church in Pomfret in the 1990s has filed a lawsuit against the Diocese of Norwich, retired Bishop Daniel P. Reilly and the church. The Norwich Diocese previously settled two lawsuits brought by boys who were molested by the priest, Paul Hebert, when he served at St. Michael the Archangel Church in Pawcatuck from 1971 to 1981.” By Karen Florin, The Day, Norwich, Connecticut

ILLINOIS

Sex abuse lawsuit against priest and Peoria diocese revived on appeal
“An appellate court panel this week found a Peoria County judge erred when she threw out a lawsuit by a man claiming he was sexually abused by a priest. The panel of 3rd District Appellate Court judges held the man's lawsuit, which was filed in 2012, wasn't time-barred by state law even though the abuse happened in the early 1990s. Rather, Judge Mary K. O'Brien wrote, with Judges Robert Carter and Vicki Wright concurring, the lawsuit should be allowed to proceed as the man claimed in his suit that he blocked the abuse out of his memory until 2011. As such, the statute of limitations hadn't tolled.” By Andy Kravetz, Journal Star, Peoria, Illinois
 -- Case involving abuse by Lincoln priest headed back to trial court, By Doug Wolfe, WAND-TV

KENTUCKY

Jailed priest sued over ‘inappropriate’ student photos
“The parents of a young boy who claim their son was inappropriately photographed by a former Catholic priest are suing the Archdiocese of Louisville for negligence. The lawsuit is the second involving Stephen Pohl by parents of a student at Margaret Mary Catholic School, where Pohl was pastor. Pohl pleaded guilty in March to a federal charge of viewing child pornography.” By WKYT-TV

MICHIGAN

Court voids state sex offender registry for imposing unconstitutionally retroactive punishment
“Today (Aug. 25) the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit held that recent amendments to Michigan’s Sex Offender Registration Act (SORA) are unconstitutional because they impose retroactive punishment on sex offenders in violation of the Constitution’s prohibition on ex post facto laws. Among other things, the plaintiffs argued that amendments to Michigan’s SORA increased the severity of its requirements after their convictions imposed retroactive punishment.” By Jonathan H. Adler, The Washington Post

OHIO

Youngstown Diocese joins national child abuse prevention program
“The Catholic Diocese of Youngstown is joining other diocese across the country in implementing new programs to prevent child abuse. VIRTUS is a nationally recognized group of programs that promote ‘rightdoing’ within religious organizations. In 1994, the Youngstown Diocese started using the policy ‘Treasures Gift from God’ to protect children. Now that it’s moving toward VIRTUS, the protection it wants to provide for kids who may victims of abuse will be enhanced.” By Molly Reed, WKBN-TV

PENNSYLVANIA

Whistleblower Hoatson: Local child abuse ‘secret’ protected by culture, ‘dome’ of faith
“The Catholic Church is deeply ingrained in the Johnstown region's identity. Worshipers have celebrated and mourned together, lived lives of virtue, served their communities, and raised their children in the faith – all within the framework of the institution. But, that same structure allowed countless acts of alleged child sexual abuse to take place – and be covered up – in the opinion of Robert Hoatson, founder of Road to Recovery, a New Jersey-based advocacy group.” By Dave Sutor, The Tribune-Democrat, Johnstown, Pennsylvania
 -- ‘A great day for victims’: Three Franciscans arraigned on conspiracy, endangerment charges in Baker abuse case, By Dave Sutor, The Tribune Democrat
 -- Editorial: Diocese still closing ranks on child sexual abuse, By The Tribune Democrat Editorial Board

Diocese: Three priests added to list of alleged abusers
“Add three priests accused of child sexual abuse to the list of those with ties to the Harrisburg diocese. The diocese confirmed Friday (Aug. 26) three names identified by the York Daily Record/Sunday News, which has been investigating the scope of abuse in the diocese.” By Brandie Kessler, York Daily Record

Church dribbles out information on priest abuse cases
“Folks in Harrisburg are probably asking what is the end game for the Diocese of Harrisburg? My answer is they are following the PR strategy template developed by the bishops in consultation with the Holy See in 2002. The story in Los Angeles might be instructive as to how long it takes for a diocese to dribble out the sad news on child sexual abuse by the priests under this template. Here is a quick primer on the Catholic template for dribbling information.” By Patrick J. Wall, Letter to the Editor at York Daily Record

RHODE ISLAND

Providence Catholic diocese agrees to report all sex abuse allegations to attorney general
“The Roman Catholic Diocese of Providence has agreed to notify the Rhode Island Office of the Attorney General of any allegations of sexual abuse of a minor, under new protocols announced Wednesday (Aug. 31) morning. Under current protocols, the diocese reports each allegation to law enforcement, most often the state police. ‘The Letter of Understanding with the Office of the Attorney General concerning the reporting of incidents of sexual abuse of minors comes after many months, even years, of reflection and discussion,’ said Bishop Thomas J. Tobin, in a joint news release.” By Karen Lee Ziner, Providence Journal

AFRICA

Catholic Priest faces fresh charge over 10-year-old girl’s rape
“The Federal Capital Territory Police Command, yesterday (Aug. 30), said it had concluded plans to dock a Catholic priest, Reverend Father Anthony Ochigbo, before an Abuja High Court over allegation that he raped a 10-year-old girl.” By Ikechukwu Nnochiri, Vanguard
 -- Court frees Catholic priest of child rape charge, By Daily Post

AUSTRALIA

Catholic Church to use estate of Ronald Mulkearns to help victims of abuse
“The multi-million dollar estate of former Ballarat bishop Ronald Mulkearns will be used to help victims of sexual abuse. Bishop Mulkearns, who died in April, was blamed for allowing paedophile priests to continue to operate in Victoria.” By 3aw.au News Talk Radio

Royal Commission: Maitland-Newcastle Catholic bishop Bill Wright urges support during Case Study 43 hearings
“The head of the Maitland-Newcastle diocese has released a statement ahead of the Royal Commission hearings. Bishop Wright released a video statement on Wednesday (Aug. 31) morning as the Royal Commission began hearings into the diocese. He said he expected the diocese would be ‘severely criticised’ for its handlings of matters related to Vincent Ryan.” By Matt Carr, The Newcastle Herald

Former altar boy sexually abused by NSW Catholic priest said he ‘feels guilty he didn’t kill him’
“A former altar boy who was sexually abused by a NSW Catholic priest after every practice session says he feels guilty that he didn’t kill the paedophile as a child, an inquiry has heard. Gerard McDonald was in Year 5 in 1975 when he suffered sickening abuse at the hands of Newcastle’s Father Vincent Ryan.” By Agence France-Presse in The Daily Telegraph
 -- Child sex abuse royal commission: Hunter pedophile priest ‘was like Jekyll and Hyde’, By David Marchese, ABC News Australia

Royal Commission hears evidence of shocking child sexual abuse in the Hunter region
“The Catholic Church has paid more than $25 million to Hunter region child sexual abuse survivors, the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse has been told on the first day of a public hearing into Maitland-Newcastle diocese. The diocese has substantiated claims or complaints from 158 people relating to 31 different perpetrators, counsel assisting the royal commission, Mr Stephen Free, said in an opening address highlighting decades of abuse in the region. Nearly two-thirds of offenders were priests, and six per cent were members of a religious order.” By Joanne McCarthy, The Armidale Express

Vile predatory priest destroys girl’s innocence
“Almost 50 years ago, a tall, fun-loving and charismatic Catholic priest strolled into a Queensland school where he began systematically destroying the heart, body and soul of a 14-year-old girl. That teenager was Joan Isaacs and, despite 49 years having passed, the memory of the day she met the man who would sexually assault her over and over again is crystal clear.” By Sherele Moody, Queensland Times

Former Geelong priest admits to shocking abuse
“A former Victorian priest who worked in Geelong during much of his career has pleaded guilty to a string of child sexual assault charges. 73-year-old Robert Claffey was due to stand trial in the County Court on 21 charges, but two were dropped as part of a plea deal. Claffey abused boys and girls over three decades in areas including Apollo Bay and Skenes Creek, under the watch of disgraced former bishop Ronald Mulkearns.” By Rebecca McDonald, Bay939.com.au

CANADA

Deathbed revelation triggers clergy sex abuse lawsuit
“The estate of a late Ottawa man has launched a $2-million lawsuit against the Archdiocese of Ottawa for sexual abuse he allegedly suffered as a child in the 1960s. The unusual statement of claim was filed last month on behalf of the man, whom the Citizen will identify only as John Doe. He died at the age of 63 in November 2014. According to the claim, Doe was a victim of Rev. Jean Gravel, a Catholic priest at Ottawa’s Saint-Rémi Parish.” By Andrew Duffy, Ottawa Citizen

GREAT BRITAIN, SCOTLAND & WALES

Statement of acknowledgement and apology from Bill Wright, Bishop of Maitland-Newcastle
“In my five years as Bishop of the Diocese, this is the second commission of inquiry before which I have appeared. There is a very considerable difference in scope between the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse (‘Royal Commission’) and the Special Commission of Inquiry into matters relating to the police investigation of certain child sexual abuse allegations in the Catholic Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle. Nevertheless there are haunting similarities for me, inasmuch as I am once again called upon to bear witness to a terrible and shameful chapter in the history of this Diocese.” By Bill Wright, Bishop of Maitland-Newcastle, Aurora Magazine on MNNews.today

MEXICO

Mexican priest to stand trial in 1990s sex abuse
“Prosecutors in Mexico City say a judge has ordered a priest to stand trial on charges he sexually abused a boy in the 1990s. Carlos Lopez Valdez allegedly abused the boy between 1994 and 1998, although the criminal complaint against him wasn't filed until 2007.” By Associated Press in Daily Mail

NEW ZEALAND

Child abuse inquiry ‘too unwieldy to work’ says ex-chief Dame Lowell Goddard
“The former chief who quit the national public inquiry into child sex abuse has criticized it as too big to succeed. Dame Lowell Goddard left under controversial circumstances after nearly a year in charge of the probe in which not a word of evidence was heard. But the New Zealand judge said the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse needs to be "remodelled" as it is too unwieldy and under-funded to succeed.” By Brendan Cole, International Business Times