Documenting the Catholic Sexual Abuse and Financial Crisis – Data on bishops, priests, brothers, nuns, Pope Francis, Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith
Tuesday, September 28, 2021
A digest of links to media coverage of clergy abuse. For recent coverage listed in this blog, read the full article in the newspaper or other media source by clicking “Read original article.” For earlier coverage, click the title to read the original article.
German Cardinal Reinhard Marx, one of Pope Francis’ closest advisors, has asked the pontiff to allow him to resign as the leader of the Archdiocese of Munich and Freising as a sign of responsibility for the “systemic failure” of Catholic Church leaders over decades in responding to clergy sexual abuse.
In a shocking letter to Francis, which Marx released to journalists June 4, the cardinal says he wants to “share the responsibility” for the way priests and bishops mishandled abuse cases. He also admits he feels “personally guilty” for trying to protect the reputation of the church when dealing with victims.
“To assume responsibility, it is … not enough in my opinion to react only and exclusively if the files provide proof of the mistakes and failures of individuals,” writes Marx in the letter, dated May 21. “We as bishops have to make clear that we also…
A Catholic priest in Sydney’s inner west and a police officer have been charged after an investigation into the alleged possession and distribution of child abuse material.
Father Joseph Kolodziej, the parish priest at All Hallows Catholic Parish Five Dock, was asked to step down from his public role at the parish and its neighbouring primary school this week after child abuse material was allegedly found on his phone.
The principal of All Hallows Catholic Primary School in Five Dock, Helen Elliott, wrote to parents saying Mr Kolodziej would not be involved with the school nor live at the parish next door while the police matter is investigated.
“I understand this news may come as a surprise, given Fr Kolodziej’s active involvement in our community, and you or your child may be experiencing feelings of disappointment and concern,” she wrote.
“Please be assured that the safety and wellbeing of our students…
For decades, The Catholic Church’s darkest secrets have been kept in the shadows. But they will soon be exposed for everyone to see.
The documents contain details of sexual abuse.
“We will have these volumes available for the general public,” said New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas.
In 2018, Balderas forced the three catholic dioceses in New Mexico to turn over all of their documents about clergy sexual abuse to his office. The goal was to see if any living priest could be criminally prosecuted.
“I can assure you that had we not begun a criminal investigation, and that we forced a search warrant under the diocese, they would to this day, probably never released,” Balderas said. “A law enforcement office had to get involved and had to bring search warrants of which we had probable cause to get these documents in order to intervene on behalf of citizens.”
An Australian court on Friday ordered a dozen media firms to pay a total of A$1.1 million ($842,000) in fines for breaching a suppression order on reporting the conviction, since overturned, of former Vatican treasurer George Pell for child sexual assault.
The 12 media outlets, mostly owned by Nine Entertainment Co (NEC.AX) and Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp (NWSA.O), pleaded guilty in February to breaching the gag order on reporting on the trial and conviction of the cardinal, after the state agreed to drop all charges against journalists and editors.
Reporters, editors and radio and television presenters had faced the threat of jail.
Supreme Court of Victoria Justice John Dixon convicted the media firms saying they had “frustrated the suppression order as they diminished its purpose or efficacy by reporting information contrary to the terms of the order”.
Pell’s conviction for abusing two choirboys was overturned…
When the Catholic Terence McKiernan rediscovered the church for himself in Boston in 2001, the abuse scandal was exposed there, of all places. He fights for survivors. And founds a unique archive of files
At first glance, an archivist may be an unlikely key figure in the fight against clerical child abuse. But anyone who, in a crisis in which original documents play a decisive role and are usually under lock and key, takes the trouble to bring together tangible original documents, to archive them professionally, and to make them accessible online, is undoubtedly exactly that: a key figure, without whom survivors, researchers, and media professionals in their confrontation with the crisis are nowhere near as far along as they are today.
The story of Terence McKiernan is little known. The 67-year-old, who lives in Natick, Massachusetts, in the northeastern United States, is the founder of an organization called BishopAccountability.org, and accountability is exactly what McKiernan…
The Catholic Church is refusing to apologize for its role in residential schools and will not release the documents. Evan Solomon discusses this with Boston attorney Mitchell Garabedian, who has represented thousands of survivors in sexual abuse lawsuits against the Catholic Church. Garabedian is famously portrayed in the movie ‘Spotlight.’ Listen to The Evan Solomon Show podcast on the iHeart radio app, Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you listen to your podcasts.
A former NSW Labor Party official and priest who abused boys on “abhorrent” child sex tourism trips in south-east Asia, during which he also produced abuse images, has been jailed for 17 years.
Peter Andrew Hansen pleaded guilty in February to 31 charges, including eight counts of engaging in sexual intercourse with children under 16 outside Australia, and 20 counts of producing child abuse material.
In addition to the Commonwealth offences relating to the production of child abuse material in Asia, the 31 charges include two counts of the NSW offence of possessing child abuse material. Hansen received a separate sentence for those counts of four years and three months, to be served concurrently with his 17-year sentence for the Commonwealth offences and backdated to his 2018 arrest at Sydney airport.
From 2014 until his arrest, Hansen used Facebook and an encrypted instant message program called Brosix to connect with…
A plaque of a deceased Roman Catholic priest accused in a sex abuse scandal has been replaced with that of the Virgin Mary at the Long Island church he led worship in, according to a parishioner.
A plaque marking Msgr. Mario Costa’s contributions to St. Paul the Apostle in Old Brookville was covered up with white cardboard-like material that was held in place by blue contractor’s tape last month. Costa was accused in a clergy abuse scandal and was identified on a list of over 100 credibly accused clergy members, who attorneys for the Diocese of Rockville recently included in legal papers as part of a bankruptcy court filing, Newsday has reported.
The covered up plaque has since been replaced with a picture of the Virgin Mary, the mother of Jesus Christ and a central figure of forgiveness in the Roman Catholic religion.
The Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis said the Rev. Kevin McDonough is “fit for ministry” but will bar him from leadership positions involving the protection of children.
The Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis announced Thursday that it has completed an “exhaustive review” into the Rev. Kevin McDonough, concluding the former point person on clergy sex abuse for the archdiocese “failed, albeit not intentionally, to adequately keep children safe.”
As a result of the investigation, the archdiocese has deemed McDonough “fit for ministry” but will bar him from holding leadership positions involving protection of children. He will be allowed to continue his work as pastor of Incarnation Catholic Church in south Minneapolis.
McDonough was the vicar general of the archdiocese for nearly 20 years, responsible for investigating reports of misconduct and providing services to victims. He has not been accused of abuse, but rather of mishandling…
Pope Francis on Tuesday promulgated the apostolic constitutionPascite gregem Dei, replacing Book VI of the Code of Canon Law, which codifies the penal law of the Latin Catholic Church.
The revised text contains a number of important changes to the way in which penalties are applied in the Church, and the crimes which must be punished. It also includes the systematic incorporation of numerous laws promulgated in the Church in recent years, but not directly added to the Code of Canon Law.
Canonists and academics will likely spend months poring over the new canons, and unpacking the likely implications — both intended and unintended.
But as they dive into the text, some changes will likely be regarded as laudable legal reforms, while others will eventually face criticism. And some aspects of the new law are already raising complex interpretative questions for canonists.
Boy Scouts of America, which filed for bankruptcy protection a year ago to guard against a flood of sexual-abuse lawsuits, now faces a new public relations problem in Michigan: a criminal investigation.
The state police and attorney general announced Tuesday the two law enforcement groups have launched a joint investigation targeting accusations of sex abuse in the Boy Scouts and are asking for tips that may lead to prosecutions.
In response, BSA said it “wholeheartedly shares in the Michigan attorney general’s commitment to provide support for survivors,” and agreed to share information and cooperate with the investigation.
The youth organization also said it requires all employees and volunteers to “promptly report any allegation or suspicion of abuse to law enforcement so that allegations can be investigated by experts,” and asserted that incidents described in the claims filed in its bankruptcy case “have already been reported to local Michigan law enforcement.”
Tuesday’s announcement came after a holiday weekend in which scouts across the…
Pope Francis on Tuesday issued a major revision of Catholic Church laws regulating clerical sex abuse, fraud and the attempt to ordain women. It is known as an apostolic constitution with the title, Pascite Gregem Dei, or “Tend the Flock.”
In the works since 2009, the revision is the first in four decades since the version Pope John Paul II approved in 1983. And it appears to be in response to numerous clerical sex abuse and financial scandals that have rocked the church and shaken the trust of the faithful across the world over the last quarter century.
After handling scandals secretively with murky decision-making, and treating sexual relationships between priests and consenting adults as sinful but not a crime, the revisions reflect a new understanding in the church that abuse of power is an underlying cause of sexual abuse.
Church law now explicitly criminalizes the sexual abuse of adults…
In a long-awaited reform of the Catholic Church’s penal code, Pope Francis on Tuesday (June 1) issued stronger penalties for crimes including sexual abuse, financial malfeasance and female ordination, applying the principle that “mercy requires correction.”
More than 70% of the canons on the code of canon law were changed by the reform, with only 17 articles remaining untouched. The punishments are “applied with canonical equity and having in mind the restoration of justice, the reform of the offender, and the repair of scandal,” the document reads.
If a cleric is found guilty of sexually abusing a minor, canon law will require that he be stripped of his office and, if necessary, defrocked. According to current church legislation, put in place by St. John Paul II in 1983, bishops were allowed more discretion in applying canon law, resulting in a patchwork accountability system.
A priest from LaSalette Missionaries serving as pastor for St. Mary’s Church in Amsterdam and St. Stephen’s Church in Hagaman has been placed on administrative leave for alleged sexual abuse of a minor.
Rev. Jeffrey L’Arche was put on leave by Bishop Edward Scharfenberger immediately after the diocese learned L’Arche was on the Diocese of Springfield’s clergy offenders list, the Albany Diocese said Wednesday. The list was released on June 2.
There was evidence that L’Arche was involved in the sexual abuse of a minor between 1976-1981, alleged the Diocese of Springfield’s Misconduct Commission.
An investigation by Praesidium Inc., at the behest of the LaSalette congregation, said the allegation was “highly questionable” and deemed not credible. Subsequently, L’Arche was added to the Diocese of Springfield’s offender list albeit with an asterisk and explanation of the investigation findings.
[For other episodes, listen here. See also a transcript of this episode.]
The world’s most admired woman lived a life dedicated to helping the poor – but was it always in their best interest?
After Mother Teresa became famous, controversial claims about her work began to emerge. Dangerous medical practices? Secret baptisms? In this episode, we meet Mother Teresa’s biggest critics and hear from sisters who were there.
ERIKA LANTZ: The day after Mother Teresa died, her body lay on a bed of ice in the Mother House in Kolkata. Hundreds of people stood outside in the rain. Some were crying. Inside, sisters knelt or stood around her body. They prayed the rosary aloud and approached one at a time to kiss her feet.
The chapel was too small for all the visitors who wanted to pay their respects, so her body was carried through the streets in an open coffin to a church, where she lay in state for a week. Her funeral was in a sports arena in Kolkata. Some 15,000 people attended, including dignitaries from around the world: the presidents of Albania, of Ghana, of Italy. The Queen of Spain. The Queen of Belgium. The Queen of Jordan. First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton.
Hundreds of clergy sexual abuse survivors, who had filed claims against the Archdiocese of New Orleans after it declared bankruptcy, were surprised to receive letters from the church’s lawyers last month.
The letters included personal information, like the full names and addresses of the survivors, and three “requests”, which the letter stressed required no action on the parts of survivors.
The requests included the “Request by Original Committee and Consent” which came from the Official Committee of Unsecured Creditors, the “Request by Commercial Committee and Consent,” which came from the Official Committee of Unsecured Commercial Creditors, and “Request by Debtor and Consent,” which came from The Roman Catholic Church of the Archdiocese of New Orleans.
The letters sparked fear for survivors, who were not expecting to be contacted directly by the Archdiocese. “Some of my clients were uncomfortable with the fact that this letter was sent directly to them.” Kristi…
[The following letter appears as an embedded PDF on the page.]
May 24, 2021
Dear Friends in Christ,
Since my arrival in the Diocese of Springfield, I have been committed to transparency and communication particularly with regard to the scandal of the sexual abuse of minors by clergy, religious and lay church staff. It is an open wound that has remained for far too long.
Today I am writing to address these painful sins and crimes that have broken countless hearts, shattered lives and have cast a dark shadow over our Church.
In recent months I have met with many survivors and family members. I have heard from these courageous individuals that the way the diocese responded to their reports of abuse was…
It took David O’Regan 40 years, he says, to build the courage to admit that, as a boy in 1962, he was abused sexually by a priest.
Michael Carpino says he was abused by the same priest in 1973, and the Diocese of Springfield paid him a $75,000 settlement in 2008. But, it wasn’t until Wednesday that Carpino and O’Regan could find the name of their abuser on the diocese’s list of credibly accused abusers.
The late Richard Ahern, who served at Our Lady of Mount Carmel in Pittsfield from 1970 to 1976, was among the 41 names that the diocese added Wednesday to its list, which now stands at 61.
Ahern’s inclusion on the expanded list Wednesday brought “some closure,” but it didn’t erase the hurt of the decades during which the diocese refused to publicly acknowledge…
The new accounting represents a significant policy shift for the diocese. The list grew from 21 to 61 after officials opted to add previously excluded categories of the accused, including dead priests, laity and clergy from religious orders who were not ordained in the Springfield diocese but served in various assignments locally. (Scroll down to see the full list below.)
In addition to adding new names, the updated list breaks down each entry with the accused’s former role in the diocese, assignments within the diocese, time working in the organization, the nature of the “reported conduct,” the timeframe of the allegations and whether the priest or layperson had more than one credible…
The Roman Catholic Diocese of Springfield has released an expanded list of church officials and employees who have been credibly accused of sexual abuse.
The diocese — comprising 79 parishes and seven missions across Berkshire, Franklin, Hampden and Hampshire counties — released its updated list of credible allegations on Wednesday. At a press conference, Bishop William Byrne noted that the list now contains 61 names, an increase from the 21 previously included on the list. Byrne said the list is part of his commitment to transparency and healing.
“‘I’m well aware that the past efforts in the Diocese of Springfield have not achieved that outcome,” Byrne said. “Make no mistake about it, we still have far to come.”
The expanded list now includes categories of church employees not previously included among those credibly accused of sexually abusing a minor: priests who were deceased when an allegation was made, those who…
The Irish religious sister and doctor Maura O’Donohue campaigned against abuse of power by priests around the world. She helped survivors with discipline and sensitivity.
One of the many peculiar things about Catholicism is that even the outstanding women of this church remain almost unknown. One of them is the Irish nun Maura O’Donohue of the Medical Missionaries of Mary. Unusually for a woman of her generation, she had an academic degree, was appointed to management positions in her mid-twenties, spoke several languages, and managed a budget of millions. But what is possibly her greatest distinction of all, where she seems at first glance to have failed: in the fight against sexual abuse. This failure cannot be blamed on her, because survivors could not have found a more competent, committed, and better networked advocate than she.
The life and actions of O’Donohue, who died in 2015, were characterized by loyalty…
The Vatican on Tuesday released a long-awaited update to the criminal section of its Code of Canon Law, the internal legal system that regulates the life of the 1.3 billion-member Catholic Church and operates independently from laws in the secular world.
In this, the oldest continuously operating legal system in the Western world, the stiffest penalties include being defrocked, excommunicated, fired or fined — or being forbidden from living in a particular place. The aim of the punishments is to “repair the scandal, restore justice and reform the offender.”
The last time the code was rewritten was in 1983, and before that in 1917. The changes published Tuesday concern only one of the code’s seven sections, or books: the penal law section, or Book VI.
In many ways the changes published Tuesday integrate piecemeal reforms that have been made over the years to address clergy sexual…
The new rules explicitly criminalize the sexual exploitation of adults by priests who abuse their authority, and the changes also apply to laypeople with power in the church.
[Note: This article was included in Abuse Tracker yesterday, but we are including it again because it has been revised significantly.]
Pope Francis has broadened the Roman Catholic Church’s definition of sexual abuse by revising its penal code to explicitly acknowledge that adults, and not only children, can be victimized by priests and powerful laypeople who abuse their offices.
The Vatican announced on Tuesday that Francis had made changes to the Vatican’s Code of Canon Law, the legal framework for the world’s 1.3 billion Catholics, after years of consultations.
The revisions — the first since 1983 — are part of the church’s continued process of seeking to address gaps in its response to the sexual abuse scandal that has devastated the Catholic…
Pope Francis has ordered a sweeping revision of the Church’s Canon Law, toughening up regulations on abuse which now include lay people who commit offences while in office.
The changes were made after a 14-year process of study of the Church’s laws, and is the most significant updating of Canon Law since the 1983 code was published. The revisions concern book VI of the code, which covers penal law, and are significant as Canon Law is the tool which regulates Church discipline.
The revisions make clear that abuse can be committed by a cleric against an adult, and not just a minor, and states that “any one of the faithful who enjoys a dignity or performs an office or function in the Church” can be punished for abuse. Any priest, it says, who abuses his authority to force someone to engage in sexual…
On Tuesday the Vatican published a long-awaited revision of Book VI of the Code of Canon Law, unveiling a brand-new penal system including a handful of new crimes and making punishment for offenses an obligation, rather than a suggestion.
According to officials who worked on the project, the core idea is to overcome the idea that punishment for crime is somehow unmerciful or unpastoral, transforming the administration of justice into a routine feature of the life of the church.
One of the most highly anticipated changes to the code was its language and handling of the crime of sexual abuse, which was previously included under the umbrella of sins committed “against the sixth commandment.”
Under the new version of the code, which was promulgated Tuesday in an apostolic constitution titled Pascite Gregem Dei, or “Tend the Flock,” there is now an entire chapter dedicated to the issue under the title of,…
Msgr. Markus Graulich, under-secretary of the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts, discusses how the revisions aim to bring greater justice in the context of other offenses and grave delicts as well as those involving clerical sexual abuse.
After thirteen years of consultation, reviews, and deliberations the Vatican today published Pascite gregem Dei (Tend the Flock of God), Pope Francis’ new apostolic constitution containing revisions to the section of the Code of Canon Law dealing with crimes and penalties, including those related to clerical sexual abuse.
Signed on the Solemnity of Pentecost, the Holy Father said he hoped the 21 pages of revised norms would “prove to be an instrument for the good of souls” and that pastors would apply them “with justice and mercy, in the knowledge that it belongs to their ministry, as a duty of justice — an eminent cardinal virtue — to impose penalties when the good of the faithful demands…
The new rules explicitly criminalize sexual exploitation of adults by priests who abuse their authority and also apply to lay people with power in the church.
Pope Francis has broadened the Roman Catholic Church’s definition of sexual abuse by revising its penal code to explicitly acknowledge that adults, and not only children, can be victimized by priests and powerful laypeople who abuse their offices and standing among the faithful.
The Vatican announced on Tuesday that Francis had made changes to the Vatican’s Code of Canon Law, the legal framework for the world’s 1.3 billion Catholics, after years of consultations. The revisions are part of the church’s continued process of seeking to address gaps in its response to the sexual abuse scandal that has devastated the Roman Catholic faith over the last quarter century.
While they incorporate recent rules already in force, the changes also go beyond, to reflect a new…
The Vatican said Tuesday that Pope Francis has signed off on a rewrite of the universal Catholic Church’s internal penal system, updating a version in place since the 1980s and laying out clearer penalties for the sexual abuse of minors.
The changes, although years in the making, are in part a response to the church’s raft of abuse and financial scandals — which have often been magnified by secretive, highly subjective decision-making about how and whether to apply punishments.
Pope Francis, in a letter accompanying the revisions, said the laws were intended to be clearer and simpler, while reducing the number of instances in which penalties are left to the “discretion of authorities.”
“It is necessary that these norms be closely related to social changes and the new needs of the People of God,” the pope wrote.
The changes give church authorities — whether in the Vatican or a far-flung parish —…
Pope Francis on Tuesday issued the most extensive revision to Catholic Church law in four decades, insisting that bishops take action against clerics who abuse minors and vulnerable adults, commit fraud or attempt to ordain women.
The revision, which has been in the works since 2009, involves all of section six of the Church’s Code of Canon Law, a seven-book code of about 1,750 articles. It replaced the code approved by Pope John Paul II in 1983 and will take effect on Dec. 8.
The revised section, involving about 90 articles concerning crime and punishment, incorporates many existing changes made to Church law by Francis and his predecessor Benedict XVI.
It introduces new categories and clearer, more specific language in an attempt to give bishops less wiggle room.
In a separate accompanying document, the pope reminded bishops that they were responsible for following the letter of the law.
A Press Conference in the Holy See Press Office highlights the changes made to Book VI of the Code of Canon Law.
Changes made to Book VI of the Code of Canon Law were discussed on Tuesday morning at a press conference in the Holy See Press Office.
Speakers included Bishop Juan Ignacio Arrieta, Secretary of the Pontifical Council for Legislative texts, and Archbishop Filippo Iannone, President of the same council.
Goal of the changes
Archbishop Iannone noted that, in recent years, “the relationship of interpenetration between justice and mercy has at times been misinterpreted” and this has “fed a climate of laxity” in the application of criminal law. However, recent scandals and irregular situations have led to the need to reinvigorate canonical penal law.
The reform, presented on Tuesday and considered necessary and long overdue, “aims to make universal penal norms ever more suitable for the protection of the common…
With the Apostolic Constitution “Pascite Gregem Dei,” Pope Francis reforms Book VI of the Code of Canon Law, continuing a revision begun by Benedict XVI and applying penal sanctions to more criminal offenses. The new text is a more agile tool for correction, which is to be applied promptly to “avoid more serious evils and to soothe the wounds caused by human weakness.”
“Tend the flock of God, guarding it not by constraint but willingly, as it pleases God” (cf. 1 Pet 5:2). The Apostolic Constitution “Pascite Gregem Dei”, with which Pope Francis reforms Book VI of the Code of Canon Law on penal sanctions in the Church, begins with these words of the Apostle Peter. The new text, presented on Tuesday in the Holy See Press Office, enters into force on 8 December.
“In order to respond adequately to the needs of the Church throughout the world,” explains Pope…
The Secretary of the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts presents the Apostolic Constitution “Pascite gregem Dei”. He explains that the revision of Book VI gives Bishops adequate means to prevent and punish crimes that are perpetrated in the Church.
Bishop Juan Ignacio Arrieta Ochoa de Chinchetru is the Secretary of the Pontifical Council of Legislative Texts. In an interview with Vatican Radio’s Christopher Wells, he explains why Book VI on Criminal Law has been revised and updated, and how it now provides Bishops with adequate instruments to prevent and punish crimes perpetrated in the Church:
Shortly after the promulgation of the Code of Canon Law in 1983, the limits of Book VI on Criminal Law became apparent. Following an idea of decentralization the drafting of Penal notes has been largely indeterminate. It was thought at that time, that it was up to the bishops and superiors to decide, according to the gravity…
Pope Francis has changed church law to explicitly criminalize the sexual abuse of adults by priests who abuse their authority and to say that laypeople who hold church office can be sanctioned for similar sex crimes.
The new provisions, released Tuesday after 14 years of study, were contained in the revised criminal law section of the Vatican’s Code of Canon Law, the in-house legal system that covers the 1.3 billion-strong Catholic Church.
The most significant changes are contained in two articles, 1395 and 1398, which aim to address major shortcomings in the church’s handling of sexual abuse. The law recognizes that adults, too, can be victimized by priests who abuse their authority, and said that laypeople in church offices can be punished for abusing minors as well as adults.
The Vatican also criminalized the “grooming” of minors or vulnerable adults by priests to compel them to engage in pornography. It’s…
[Note from BishopAccountability.org: The Apostolic Constitution is currently available in German, Spanish, and Italian, in addition to Latin. We have posted a Google translation into English of the German text. Pope Francis is announcing the release of a revised text of Book VI of the Code of Canon Law. The revised text is available here. Canons 1395 and 1398 are of particular interest.]
Dated May 23, 2021; released June 1, 2021
With which Book VI of the Code of Canon Law is renewed
“Feed the flock of God entrusted to you, not compulsorily but voluntarily, as God wills” (cf. 1 Pet 5: 2). These inspired words of the Apostle Peter echo in the rite of episcopal ordination: “As the Father sent our Lord Jesus Christ to redeem people, so he sent the apostles. He has charged them, in the power of the Holy Spirit, to preach the gospel…