1. New York Archdiocese Hires Independent Investigator to Review Sex-Abuse Policies, Investigator Barbara S. Jones served as ‘special master’ in the case against President Trump’s former personal attorney Michael Cohen.

By Melanie Grayce West, The Wall Street Journal, September 21, 2018, Pg. A9

The Archdiocese of New York has hired a former federal judge to examine how it handles accusations of abuse of a young person by a member of the clergy.

In a press conference Thursday, Cardinal Timothy Dolan, the archbishop of New York, said Barbara S. Jones would lead the investigation and have access to everything, including church records and personnel, going down to the parish level. Ms. Jones recently served as “special master” in the government’s case against President Trump’s former personal attorney Michael Cohen.

The scope of her work for the archdiocese will also include a review of policies regarding workplace sexual harassment, schools and seminaries, and how the church responds to allegations of abuses of power.

Ms. Jones said she also might review some of the cases handled by the archdiocese’s victim’s compensation fund, which was established in October 2016 and acts independently of the archdiocese. That fund has paid out $59.7 million to 278 victims, said an archdiocese spokesman, citing totals from two weeks ago.

Ms. Jones’s initial review began 10 days ago, she said. She is a partner at law firm Bracewell LLP and served 16 years as a judge.

Cardinal Dolan “has assured me that he will take appropriate action as expeditiously as possible based upon my recommendations,” Ms. Jones said. “I would not have taken this assignment without these assurances.”


2. Church Sex Abuse Review Is Ordered by Cardinal Dolan.

By Sharon Otterman, The New York Times, September 21, 2018, Pg. A22

Seeking to restore the trust of New York Catholics shaken by recent revelations of abuse, Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan announced on Thursday that he had appointed a former federal judge to review how the Archdiocese of New York handles cases of sexual abuse of minors and sexual harassment of adults.

The review, led by Barbara S. Jones, a former judge in Federal District Court in Manhattan, will primarily focus on whether the archdiocese is following the protocols to protect minors from abuse that were approved by the nation’s bishops in 2002. Tackling a type of misconduct that was not addressed by the 2002 reforms, she will also examine whether current workplace policies are sufficient to prevent the sexual harassment of adults and other abuses of power in churches and seminaries.

Cardinal Dolan said in a Thursday news conference that Catholics in the archdiocese had come to him repeatedly over the summer distraught over the litany of sex abuse revelations that seem to make daily headlines, including the lurid accusations against Cardinal Theodore E. McCarrick, who was removed from ministry in June following a substantiated allegation of sex abuse of a minor in New York, and the explosive grand jury report into clergy sex abuse in Pennsylvania released in August.


3. ‘I Don’t Want to Die Without Telling This Story’: Reports of Alleged Abuse by Catholic Priests Rise Sharply, More than 900 people have called a hotline set up by the Pennsylvania attorney general’s office following its report on sexual abuse.

By Ian Lovett, The Wall Street Journal, September 21, 2018, 5:30 AM

Growing up in Scranton, Pa., John Patchcoski would often play kickball at the church down the street from his house. One of the priests took an interest in him and would sometimes join the kickball games and give John gifts, like an eight-track tape player.

Eventually, Father Michael J. Pulicare invited John to go on a fishing trip. On that trip, he says, the priest sexually assaulted him. It was the mid-1970s, and John was around 12 years old.

Mr. Patchcoski is among a number of victims who have come forward following the release of a report by the Pennsylvania attorney general last month to allege they also were abused by Roman Catholic priests. Though the 800-page grand-jury report, which documented the abuse of more than 1,000 children by Catholic priests in the state over more than 50 years, was the most comprehensive look yet at sexual abuse within the U.S. Catholic church, it still isn’t a complete account.

Since the report was published, more than 900 calls have poured into a hotline set up to report additional abuse allegations. An official with the attorney general’s office said some of those calls have drawn interest from prosecutors, adding that the grand jury always believed there was more abuse that hadn’t been documented.


4. Russia looms in background as pope travels to Baltics.

By Nicole Winfield and Liudas Dapkus, Associated Press, September 21, 2018, 8:57 AM

Pope Francis is heading to the Baltic countries this weekend amid renewed alarm about Russia’s intentions in the region it twice occupied for decades.

Francis’ 25th foreign visit comes a quarter of a century after St. John Paul II made the first papal visit to the former Soviet Union and cheered as Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia emerged from five decades of Soviet-imposed religious repression and state-sponsored atheism.

Hopes were high back in 1993 — the last Russian troops had withdrawn from Lithuania just days before John Paul arrived. There is no such optimism for Francis’ Sept. 22-25 visit.

The three countries, which each have ethnic Russian minorities, are sounding alarms about Moscow’s military maneuvers in the Baltic Sea area following Russia’s 2014 annexation of Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula and its support of separatists fighting the Ukrainian government in eastern Ukraine.

Russia will be something of the elephant in the sacristy, however, given how the Vatican has been loath to openly criticize Moscow or its powerful Orthodox Church. While seeking to avoid offense, Francis will likely praise the sacrifices of those who fought for independence a century ago during Russia’s revolution, and suffered again during Soviet rule.

“The pope will send a message to the world that the difficult history has not been forgotten and that it cannot repeat itself,” Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaite told the Baltic News Service.


5. Pope lets more bishops go as part of Chile sex abuse fallout.

By Frances D’Emilio, Associated Press, September 21, 2018, 8:57 AM

Pope Francis on Friday accepted the resignations of two more bishops in Chile, as fallout mounted from widespread sex abuse scandals there.

Without citing reasons, the Vatican said the latest to leave their posts were the bishops of San Bartolome de Chillan, Monsignor Carlos Eduardo Pellegrin Barrera, and of San Felipe, Monsignor Cristian Enrique Contreras Molina.

Earlier this year, Chile’s bishops submitted offers to resign en masse to Francis, in response to his belated crackdown on pedophile priests, other sex abuse by clergy there and Chilean church hierarchy’s cover-ups of the wrongdoing.

Friday’s announcement raised to seven the number of bishops so far whose resignations Francis has accepted in recent months.


6. Alongside Francis the Simple, there’s also Francis the Stubborn.

By John L. Allen Jr., Editor, Crux, September 21, 2018, Opinion

From the beginning, the general narrative about Pope Francis has emphasized his personal simplicity and humility, his closeness to ordinary people and his passion for the peripheries, as well as his pastoral heart. All are genuine qualities of the man, as anyone who knows him well will attest.

Likewise from the beginning, however, there’s been another, often competing narrative about Francis, initially whispered and then shouted out loud, especially by his detractors. It holds that Francis is also a remarkably stubborn figure, a man prone to making decisions and refusing to back down, and one typically unmoved by any sort of criticism.

This refusal to be told what to do, or to be painted into a corner, is also, undeniably, an aspect of Francis’s persona, and the last month or so has brought at least four classic illustrations.

To begin with, for the last month criminal prosecutors in Chile have been conducting raids on Church archives up and down the country, looking for evidence to support charges of cover-up of clerical sexual abuse by several leading prelates. They’ve also subpoenaed Cardinal Riccardo Ezzati, the Archbishop of Santiago, to testify.

In the abstract, one might imagine such activity would prompt Francis to accept more resignations from Chilean bishops, which were offered en masse at the conclusion of a summit with the pope in May. On that occasion Francis said he knew some bishops were guilty of cover-up, including the destruction of evidence, and many people assumed he’d have accepted far more than the five resignations he’s okayed in the four months since.

Instead, the pope is obviously taking his time, and not even the threat of criminal indictments against sitting bishops appears enough to rush him.

Then in late August, when a sensational charge emerged by the pope’s former ambassador in the U.S. that Francis knew about sexual misconduct allegations against ex-Cardinal Theodore McCarrick and did nothing, it seemed clear the pope would have to give an answer, disclosing what he knew and when he knew it.

That moment may yet come, but aboard the papal plane on the way back to Rome from his trip to Ireland, Francis took the question but then vowed not to say a word about it, and basically challenged journalists to look into it for themselves. To this day neither Francis nor any of the Vatican’s official communications channels have engaged the questions raised by Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, though certainly many of the pope’s friends and allies have done so informally.

On a similar front, Francis met the leadership of the U.S. bishops’ conference a week ago, and everyone knew going in the bishops wanted him to approve an Apostolic Visitation, meaning a Vatican-backed investigation, of the McCarrick case.

At a bare minimum, one might have thought Francis, or the Vatican, or the bishops would announce what they’ve decided. Instead, they’ve maintained radio silence, leaving people to conclude on their own that the bishops will have to go another way.

Again, just because pressure has been put on Francis to do X is no guarantee that X will happen.

On another front, during the 2014 and 2015 Synods of Bishops on the family, gatherings which eventually led to the document Amoris Laetitia and its controversial opening to communion for divorced and civilly remarried Catholics, there was considerable criticism from more conservative participants that Francis had “stacked the deck” by naming only like-minded allies to key posts.

The feeling among critics was that Francis didn’t necessarily want an honest assessment of where bishops are truly at, but rather an endorsement of his desired result.

Some might have thought that, in response, the pope would feel obligated to ensure a wider cross-section of views for the upcoming Synod of Bishops on youth in October, or at least to avoid the impression of naming only loyalists.

Instead, the appointments released by the Vatican last Saturday read like a “Who’s Who” of prelates cut from the same cloth as the boss, such as Cardinals Reinhard Marx of Munich, president of the German bishops’ conference; Blase Cupich of Chicago; Joseph Tobin of Newark, NJ; and Angelo De Donatis, Vicar of the Diocese of Rome.

The overall impression is that Francis trusts these figures, and he wasn’t going to be cowed into leaving them off the list just because someone might get their nose out of joint.

In a similar fashion, there was also criticism that the synod process itself is flawed. Some charged that a lack of information from inside the synod allows false impressions to be created of a consensus; others said the way in which conclusions are reached doesn’t allow the body to really express its will on specific points.

Again, one might have thought Francis would feel pressure to adjust the rules to reassure those critics of a level playing field. Instead, in an updated set of laws for the synod the pontiff issued this week, he largely ratified the process as it’s developed on his watch and as it played out in 2014 and 2015.

It’s almost as if the more people protest a papal decision, the less likely Francis becomes to rethink it.

Of course, that’s not an absolute principle. As recently as January of this year, Francis accused abuse victims in Chile of “calumny” for insisting upon the resignation of as bishop accused of covering up abuse; today, that bishop is one of the five whose resignations have been accepted by Francis, who’s apologized for “grave errors” in his diagnosis of the situation.

It may well be that something will trigger a similar change of heart about one or more of the four examples above.


7. Retired Green Bay auxiliary bishop failed to report abuse, withdraws from ministry.

By Catholic News Agency, September 21, 2018

Bishop Robert Morneau, auxiliary bishop emeritus of Green Bay, has withdrawn from public ministry saying he regrets having failed to report the abuse of a minor, WBAY reported Thursday.

“I failed to report to local authorities an incident of abuse of a minor by a priest in 1979 and, as a result, this priest was able to abuse again several years later,” Morneau wrote in a letter to Bishop David Ricken of Green Bay, which WBAY says was published in The Compass, the Green Bay diocesan paper.

“I intend to spend my time in prayer for all victims and survivors of sexual abuse and I will do corporal works of mercy in reparation for what I failed to do,” Morneau wrote.

Morneau, 80, was ordained a priest of the Diocese of Green Bay in 1966, and appointed auxiliary bishop of the diocese in 1978. He was consecrated a bishop Feb. 22, 1979. He remained auxiliary bishop until 2013, when he reached the age of 75.

WBAY reports that Morneau says he mishandled the case of former priest David Boyea, who was convicted of child sexual assault in 1985.


8. Catholics in Korea look to martyrs amid nuclear negotiations with Pyongyang.

By Courtney Grogan, Crux, September 21, 2018

As nuclear negotiations with North Korea continue, Catholics in South Korea are encouraging devotion to their martyr saints and renewing prayers for peace on the peninsula.

South Korea’s bishops applauded the successful completion of the third inter-Korean summit of Moon Jae-in and Kim Jong-un in Pyongyang, North Korea earlier this week. The meeting resulted in Kim promising to take steps towards denuclearization in exchange for concessions from the United States.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo responded with a statement that the U.S. is prepared to “engage immediately in negotiations” with North Korea, and invited North Korea’s foreign minister to meet with him at the United Nations General Assembly meeting in New York City next week, where Moon will also meet with U.S. President Donald Trump.

“This will mark the beginning of negotiations to transform U.S.-DPRK relations through the process of rapid denuclearization of North Korea, to be completed by January 2021, as committed by Chairman Kim, and to construct a lasting and stable peace regime on the Korean Peninsula,” Pompeo said Sept. 19.

Before heading to Pyongyang the First Lady of South Korea, Kim Jung-sook, attended Mass with Korean bishops in Seoul’s Myeongdong Cathedral and asked for prayers for the upcoming diplomatic negotiations.


9. Finnish foreign minister survives no confidence vote over anti-abortion views.

By Reuters, September 21, 2018, 6:20 AM

Finnish Foreign Minister Timo Soini survived a no-confidence vote in parliament on Friday over his attendance at an anti-abortion vigil while on an official trip to Canada.

One hundred lawmakers voted in support of Soini, while 60 voted to oust him.


10. Leading Asian Cardinal Calls for Vatican Foreign Minister to Resign Over China Dealings.

By James Pomfret and Anne Marie Roantree, Reuters, September 20, 2018, 10:01 AM

A Hong Kong cardinal who has spearheaded opposition to the Vatican’s rapprochement with China called on Thursday for the Pope’s secretary of state to step down, saying any deal with Beijing would amount to a betrayal of the Catholic faith.

The Vatican and China have been in advanced talks this year to forge what would be an historic breakthrough and precursor to a resumption in diplomatic relations after 70 years, with Secretary of State Pietro Parolin among the chief negotiators.

The Vatican may send a delegation to China before the end of this month. If the meeting goes well, the two could reach an agreement on the appointment of bishops, a Chinese state-run newspaper reported earlier this week.

Cardinal Joseph Zen, the most senior Catholic cleric on Chinese soil, said he believed the two sides were making a “secret deal”, although he acknowledged he had no connection with the Vatican and was “completely in the dark”.

“They’re giving the flock into the mouths of the wolves. It’s an incredible betrayal,” he said.

He described Parolin, the highest ranking diplomat in the Vatican, as someone who despised heroes of faith.

“He should resign,” Zen told Reuters at his home on a wooded hillside on Hong Kong island.

“I don’t think he has faith. He is just a good diplomat in a very secular, mundane meaning.”


11. Ex-prosecutor to examine New York archdiocese sex abuse policies.

By Peter Szekely, Reuters, September 20, 2018, 3:56 PM

New York’s Cardinal Timothy Dolan named a former federal judge and prosecutor on Thursday to independently review how the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of New York has handled allegations of sexual abuse, after what Dolan said was the “Summer of Hell.”

Barbara Jones, who retired as a U.S. district judge in 2013, said she and a team of lawyers would have unfettered access to all materials as they reviewed sex abuse claim policies and procedures in the country’s second largest archdiocese.


12. Anti-abuse activists pan US Catholic bishops’ new proposals.

By David Crary, Associated Press, September 20, 2018, 4:18 PM

Lawyers and advocates for victims of clergy sex-abuse are assailing as inadequate some new steps announced by U.S. Catholic bishops to curtail the abuse scandals that have deeply shaken the church this year.

The initiatives, announced Wednesday, include developing a code of conduct for bishops regarding sexual abuse and harassment, and establishing a confidential hotline — to be run by a third party — to receive complaints of sexual misconduct by bishops, and relay such complaints to appropriate church and civil authorities.

Critics called on the bishops to go further by allowing outside investigators full access to church sex-abuse records and by supporting changes to statute-of-limitation laws so that more cases of long-ago sex abuse could be addressed in court.

Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro expressed regret that the bishops did not endorse the grand jury’s recommendations for reform, including eliminating the statute of limitations for child sex abuse.

“That is the true test to determine whether the Church has changed, and thus far, no bishop has answered the call,” Shapiro said. “The time for words has passed.”

The bishops did endorse “a full investigation” into the McCarrick case, “including his alleged assaults on minors, priests, and seminarians, as well any responses made to those allegations.”

“Such an investigation should rely upon lay experts in relevant fields, such as law enforcement and social services,” said the statement, issued by the administrative committee of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. It made no mention of the bishops’ earlier request for a Vatican role in investigating McCarrick.


13. Report: Benedict XVI hits back at criticism of resignation.

By Associated Press, September 20, 2018, 11:28 AM

A German newspaper has quoted a letter allegedly written by Emeritus Pope Benedict XVI in which he hit back at criticism of his 2013 resignation.

The Bild daily reported Thursday that it had obtained correspondence from November between the German-born pontiff and an unidentified German cardinal. The paper published a photo of a small excerpt with Benedict’s signature.

In the letter, Benedict allegedly said he understood “deep-seated pain” caused by the end of his papacy, but for some “the pain has turned into an anger that no longer merely concerns my resignation, but increasingly also my person and my papacy as a whole.”

Bild reported he said the anger “devalued” the papacy.

The Vatican declined to confirm or deny the authenticity of the letter, or comment on it Thursday.

14. Cardinal hires judge to review church sex abuse policies.

By Karen Matthews, Associated Press, September 20, 2018, 4:25 PM

Hoping to restore the faith of those disillusioned by how the church has handled sexual abuse allegations, the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of New York appointed a former federal judge Thursday to review its procedures and protocols.

Cardinal Timothy Dolan announced the appointment of Barbara Jones, saying many Catholics had told him they were feeling let down by the church’s hierarchy after a “summer of hell.” The string of bad news has included a Pennsylvania grand jury report detailing widespread sexual abuse and systematic cover-up by church officials in that state, and revelations about sexual abuse allegations against a former archbishop, Theodore McCarrick.

The move also comes two weeks after New York’s attorney general announced a comprehensive investigation of how the church and its leaders handled abuse allegations across the state. Attorney General Barbara Underwood issued subpoenas to all eight of the state’s Roman Catholic dioceses for documents containing information on abuse allegations and how they were investigated and handled.


15. Dolan ‘impatient’ waiting for apostolic visitation in response to McCarrick.

By Catholic News Agency, September 20, 2018, 5:00 PM

The Archbishop of New York said Thursday that while he has confidence in the way Pope Francis is handling the Church’s ongoing sexual abuse crisis, he has grown “impatient” while awaiting a decision from the pope on a request made by U.S. bishops more than one month ago.

Speaking at a press conference Sept. 21, Cardinal Timothy Dolan called for a formal investigation- an apostolic visitation- of the Church in the United States in response to allegations that have surfaced in recent months regarding decades of sexual immorality on the part of Archbishop Theodore McCarrick.

“Part of my people saying ‘we’re beginning to lose trust in bishops’ is their legitimate question as to how could a man continue to rise in the Church with a background like that?’ And that’s a darn good question, that I share. We have got to get to the bottom of that.”

“How [that happens] is an ongoing question. I think particularly an apostolic visitation from the Holy See that included lay professionals would be a particularly effective way to do that. We’ve proposed that to the Holy See and we wait.”

An apostolic visitation was formally proposed to the Vatican in an Aug. 16 statement from Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, president of the U.S. bishops’ conference. It has since been reiterated by several U.S. bishops.

While DiNardo and other leaders of the bishops’ conference met with Pope Francis Sept. 13, there has not yet been any announcement from the Vatican regarding an apostolic visitation.