This is the cover of the October 2021 report on the implementation of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ “Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People,” released Nov. 9, 2021, by the USCCB, the Secretariat of Child and Youth Protection and the National Review Board. (CNS photo/courtesy USCCB)

WASHINGTON (CNS) – More than 4,200 allegations of sexual abuse of minors by Catholic clergy and others were reported during the year ending June 30, 2020, a slight decline from the previous auditing period, according to a report on diocesan and eparchial compliance with the U.S. bishops’ “Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People.”

Released late Nov. 9, the 18th annual report from the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Secretariat of Child and Youth Protection stated that 3,924 child sexual abuse survivors filed 4,228 allegations.

In the 2019 report, covering the 2018-2019 audit period, 4,220 adults filed 4,434 allegations.

The charter was adopted in 2002 by the U.S. bishops following widespread reports of clergy abuse and has been revised several times since to adapt to changing situations surrounding the question of clergy sexual abuse of minors.

Conducted by StoneBridge Business Partners of Rochester, New York, the new report covers the year from July 1, 2019, through June 30, 2020.

While the number of allegations remained high during the audit period, the report said only 22 allegations involve current cases of abuse.

The report said the number of allegations remained high in part because of changes in statutes of limitations on reporting abuse in several states. “It should be noted that the vast majority of these reports were historical in nature,” the report said.

The report attributed about 66% of allegations to lawsuits, compensation programs established by dioceses and other entities and bankruptcies. In addition, 1% of allegations emerged after a review of clergy personnel files, according to the report.

Of the 22 allegations for the current year, six were found to be substantiated. The report said they originated from five dioceses.

Of the remaining reported allegations, seven continued to be investigated, two were unsubstantiated, three were determined to be “unable to be proven,” and four were classified as “other.”

The report said nine of the allegations involved the use of child pornography. Seven of those cases remained under investigation, one was substantiated and one was referred to a provincial or a religious order.

The allegations involved 2,458 priests, 31 deacons and 282 unknown clerics, statistics in the report show.

The report indicated that 195 of 197 dioceses and eparchies participated in the audit. Auditors conducted 61 onsite visits with 10 in person before the pandemic erupted in early 2020. The other 51 were conducted online. Data also was collected from 135 other dioceses and eparchies.

The Syro-Malankara Eparchy of St. Mary Queen of Peace of the United States and Canada and the Chaldean Catholic Eparchy of St. Peter the Apostle of San Diego did not participate in the audit.

Of the 61 entities undergoing onsite audits, two dioceses and two eparchies were determined to be in noncompliance.

The dioceses of Fort Worth, Texas, and Helena, Montana, were noncompliant with charter’s requirement for not having their respective Diocesan Review Board meet during the audit period. Subsequent to the audit, the boards in each diocese were convened, making them compliant with the charter, the report said.

Meanwhile, the Ukrainian Catholic Eparchy of St. Nicholas in Chicago and the Syriac Catholic Eparchy of Our Lady of Deliverance, which covers the United States and is based New Jersey, were found noncompliant with charter provisions that require background screening and training of adults working with minors.

The report also acknowledged the continuing work of church entities to ensure the safety of children and vulnerable adults. The USCCB said that expenditures on protective services rose 15% in 2020 with more than 2.5 million background checks of adults and training in safety measures for 3.1 million children.

Suzanne Healy, who chairs the National Review Board, said that as the charter enters its third decade of implementation it becomes important to continue evaluating incidents of abuse as well as understand trends of abuse and why they change.

In a letter to Los Angeles Archbishop José H. Gomez, USCCB president, that accompanied the report, Healy said a board committee is examining the safe environment education programs for adults and children in dioceses throughout the country.

“The research is an attempt to determine which elements or combination of elements of these training programs is most effective in mitigating the occurrence of child abuse and ensuring that any suspicion of abuse is reported to authorities,” Healy wrote.

She also said the board recommended two procedures be added to the audit process and welcomed their edition for the 2020-2021 audit cycle. The first is “a three-year look-back window, which will eliminate any gaps that existed regarding the reporting of case resolution,” Healy said.

The second relates to onsite visits by StoneBridge that finds auditors meeting with all or most diocesan review board members rather than one or two individuals.

“The ministries of safe environments and victim assistance are here to stay. The protocols and procedures for letters of suitability, background checks, and safe environment training are the norm,” said Deacon Bernie Nojadera, executive director of the USCCB Secretariat for Child and Youth Protection.

“By the grace of God, the church is working toward being accessible, accountable, and safe. We continue to rely on the Holy Spirit and the intercession of Our Mother to guide our efforts as we promise to protect and pledge to heal,” he wrote in a letter addressed to Archbishop Gomez and Healy that was included in the report.

In his preface to the report, Archbishop Gomez said: “As we know, one allegation of abuse is too many. But my brother bishops and I remain firmly committed to maintain our vigilance in protecting children and vulnerable adults and providing compassion and outreach to victim-survivors of abuse.”

Speaking for himself and the body of bishops, the archbishop expressed their “sorrow and apologies to every person who has suffered at the hands of someone in the church.”

“While we cannot give you back what has been taken from you,” Archbishop Gomez said, “we do commit ourselves to doing everything in our power to help you to heal and to fight the scourge of abuse in the church and in the wider society.”

Note: The full annual report on compliance with the “Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People” of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops can be found online at


A cross is silhouetted outside a Catholic church near Nantes, France, Oct. 5, 2021. French bishops have unveiled new measures against sexual abuse by clergy in the wake of an independent report released in October. (CNS photo/Stephane Mahe, Reuters)

LOURDES, France (CNS) – France’s Catholic bishops have unveiled new measures to counter sexual abuse by clergy after an October report by an independent commission estimated more than 330,000 children had been abused since the 1950s.

Among 26 measures finalized during the bishops’ plenary and announced Nov. 8, a new national independent unit for recognition and reparation will be headed by jurist Marie Derain de Vaucresson, while diocesan properties and assets will be sold to finance compensation payments.

The bishops also will establish a national canonical criminal court and external audit for victim support units, while arranging a confession facility for clergy and “systematic judicial record verification” for anyone working with minors. The third Sunday of Lent will be marked in France as a day of prayer for victims of “violence, sexual assault and abuse of power and conscience within the church.”

The new measures, expanding on 11 adopted at the bishops’ previous March plenary, will be accompanied by the formation of lay-led working groups on priestly formation, lay involvement, church governance and other reform areas recommended by the report. The bishops also asked Pope Francis to send a “visitor team” to evaluate the bishops’ mission.

In the future, the bishops said, seminary councils must include at least one woman with voting rights, while a charter of good conduct and “national repository of preventive measures” will be set up for dioceses, movements and communities.

Laypeople will serve on all bishops’ conference commissions and councils, while the bishops’ doctrinal commission will examine doctrinal issues highlighted in the abuse report, including sexual morality, anthropology, ministerial priesthood, and the “distinction between power of order and power of government” in time for a March follow-up plenary.

“This commission’s report into sexual abuse showed a reality we hadn’t been able to see,” said Archbishop Éric de Moulins-Beaufort, the French bishops’ conference president.

“It put before our eyes and those of the world that our Catholic Church in France was a place where acts of violence and sexual assault against minors had been committed in terrifying proportions. … We must recognize our church is a site of serious crimes, of formidable attacks on life and integrity. This cannot be a church of Jesus.”

The archbishop spoke at the close of the Nov. 2-8 plenary of the 120-member conference at the national shrine of Lourdes.

He said he was shocked by the image, displayed at the plenary, of a “petrified child” weeping alone under a cathedral vault, knowing it had been “multiplied thousands of times.”

Archbishop Moulins-Beaufort said the conference was grateful to those who had helped expose abuse in the church, adding that he and other French clergy had “not become priests to take part in murderous acts” or “increase our power and train up our regiments.”

The bishops’ conference president said the CIASE report had highlighted the need to “redouble our vigilance, be clear-sighted, not let ourselves be deceived by the words we use,” adding that he believed the “metaphor of fatherhood” in Christian teaching should now be “scrutinized from all angles” as the French church began a “new phase in its history.”

“These decisions mark our liberation — we can now demonstrate the church we belong to and wish to serve cannot be an institution be preoccupied with itself and hunched in self-glorification,” the 59-year-old archbishop said.

“We have everything to gain from concluding protocols with prosecutors, from relying with confidence on our country’ justice and police services. … It will undoubtedly have been worth the trouble of being humiliated, impoverished and diminished if this helps us better meet the poor, the excluded and the despised.”


Pope Francis gives the homily as he celebrates Mass marking World Day of the Poor in St. Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican Nov. 15, 2020. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

VATICAN CITY (CNS) – Pope Francis plans to prepare for his celebration of the World Day of the Poor by meeting with and listening to some 500 poor people making a pilgrimage to Assisi, Italy, Nov. 12.

Two days later, on the World Day of the Poor, the pope will celebrate a Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica with about 2,000 poor people and those who assist them, the Vatican said. Everyone will be offered a hot meal after Mass.

The Assisi pilgrims, assisted by a French and several Italian Catholic charitable organizations, will go home from Assisi with new backpacks containing winter sweaters, scarves, hats and jackets as well as fabric anti COVID-19 masks.

The Vatican said Nov. 8 the gifts will be packaged by the +Three project, “which promotes products made in respect of environmental and economic sustainability within an ethical and socially useful supply chain.”

The Pontifical Council for Promoting New Evangelization, which promotes and organizes the World Day of the Poor, said Pope Francis will pay particular attention this year to 40 groups homes that care for children or children and their mothers, delivering a two-month supply of personal care products and food, especially baby food.

With donations from a grocery store chain and a pasta manufacturer, it said, the group homes and local parishes and charities will share five tons of pasta, one ton of rice, two tons of tomato puree, 1,000 liters of oil and 3,000 liters of milk.

The Vatican also has prepared 5,000 kits filled with common over-the-counter medications for distribution to the poor through Rome parishes, the council said. And an Italian financial services company has made a donation that will allow the office of the papal almoner to help 500 families pay their gas and utility bills, the council said.



SCRANTON – The Most Reverend Joseph C. Bambera, Bishop of Scranton, will serve as principal celebrant and homilist for the Jubilee Mass for Men & Women Religious on Sunday, Nov. 7, 2021.

The Mass will be celebrated at 12:15 p.m. at the Cathedral of Saint Peter in Scranton. Everyone is invited to attend.

The Reverend Leonard A. Martin, S.J., pastor, Saint Mary Byzantine Catholic Church, Scranton and administrator, Saint John Byzantine Catholic Church, Scranton, will concelebrate the Mass.

Following the homily, the men and women religious in attendance will renew their vows followed by the singing of the “Salve Regina.”

Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Jubilarians from both 2020 and 2021 will be recognized that this weekend’s Mass.

CTV: Catholic Television of the Diocese of Scranton will provide live coverage of the Mass.

The list of 2020 – 2021 Jubilarians is:




70 Years

Sister Mary Ellen James, I.H.M.

Sister Kathleen McNulty, I.H.M.


60 Years

Sister Grace Campbell, I.H.M.

Sister Jane Marie Connolly, I.H.M.

Sister Eleanor Marie Malanapy, I.H.M.

Sister Karen Marie O’Neill, I.H.M.

Sister Mary Ann Remus, I.H.M.

Sister Joel Marie Sheehe, I.H.M.


50 Years

Sister Maria Peter Kratz, I.H.M.

Sister Therese O’Rourke, I.H.M.

Sister Mary Persico, I.H.M.


25 Years

Sister Susan Ellen Brown, I.H.M.


80 Years

Sister M. Daria McGinn, I.H.M.


75 Years

Sister M. Elsa Eckenrode, I.H.M.

Sister Margaret Loftus, I.H.M.

Sister M. Charlene Templeton, I.H.M.

70 Years

Sister M. Gracette Baker, I.H.M.

Sister M. Marguerite Carbone, I.H.M.

Sister Jean Conaty, I.H.M.

Sister Joan Paskert, I.H.M.

Sister M. Celeste Parry, I.H.M.

Sister M. Tarcisius Tasselli, I.H.M.


60 Years

Sister Jean Louise Bachetti, I.H.M.

Sister Dolores M. Banick, I.H.M.

Sister M. Carlita Bird, I.H.M.

Sister Josephine Cioffi, I.H.M.

Sister Jane Ellis, I.H.M.

Sister M. Myra Gilbert, I.H.M.

Sister Mary Alice Kane, I.H.M.

Sister Joan Katoski, I.H.M.

Sister Babette Opferman, I.H.M.

Sister M. Rosella Salvato, I.H.M.

Sister Sue Ann Steves, I.H.M.

Sister Marion Tarone, I.H.M.


50 Years

Sister Kathryn Clauss, I.H.M.

Sister Susan Hadzima, I.H.M.

Sister Dorothy Kibler, I.H.M.

Sister Ellen Maroney, I.H.M.

Sister Ann Monica Bubser, I.H.M.





75 Years

Sister Colman Krise, R.S.M.

70 Years

Sister Marie Genevieve Mannix, R.S.M.

Sister Barbara Craig, R.S.M.


60 Years

Sister Dorothy Marie Hagan, R.S.M.

Sister Eric Marie Setlock, R.S.M.

Sister Jane O’Donnell, R.S.M.

Sister Martha Hanlon, R.S.M.



75 Years

Sister Bride Pollard, R.S.M.


70 Years

Sister Mary Clare Dougherty, R.S.M.

Sister Ruth Ann Fox, R.S.M.


60 Years

Sister Carol Ann Gallagher, R.S.M.

Sister Annette Marie Diebold, R.S.M.

Sister Marilyn Karas, R.S.M.

Sister Dorothy Marie Reaver, R.S.M.

Sister Marie Noel Keller, R.S.M.

Sister Jayne Pruitt, R.S.M.

Sister Sara Sweeney, R.S.M.





60 Years

Sister Catherine Ann Morris, SS.C.M.



70 Years

Reverend Vincent Boney, C.P.





60 Years

Reverend Raymond Tabon, O.S.J.


25 Years

Reverend Victor Leon, O.S.J.





60 Years

Reverend Eugene A. Nolan, S.J.



60 Years

Reverend Leonard A. Martin, S.J.


50 Years

Reverend John J. Levko, S.J.

Reverend Eugene A. Nolan, S.J.



VATICAN CITY (CNS) – People experiencing depression often need someone to talk to, and they can benefit from psychological counseling and reading what Jesus has to say, Pope Francis said.

“Let us pray that people who suffer from depression or burnout will find support and a light that opens them up to life,” the pope said.

In a video message released by the Pope’s Worldwide Prayer Network Nov. 3, the pope offered his prayer intention for the month of November, which he dedicated to people experiencing depression. November and the start of shorter and colder days for the Northern Hemisphere sometimes trigger “seasonal affective disorder” and depressive symptoms, according to many medical experts.

In his video message, the pope said, “Overwork and work-related stress cause many people to experience extreme exhaustion — mental, emotional, affective and physical exhaustion.”

“Sadness, apathy and spiritual tiredness end up dominating the lives of people, who are overloaded due to the rhythm of life today,” he added.

The pope said, “Let us try to be close to those who are exhausted, to those who are desperate, without hope.”

“Often, we should just simply listen in silence because we cannot go and tell someone, ‘No, life’s not like that. Listen to me, I’ll give you the solution.’ There’s no solution,” he said.

“And besides, let us not forget that, along with the indispensable psychological counseling, which is useful and effective, Jesus’ words also help,” he said, such as, “Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest” (Mt 11:28).

Pope Francis has spoken candidly in interviews about his own mental health.

He found help from a psychiatrist for how to manage his anxiety and “to avoid rushing when making decisions” when he was a priest in Argentina during the dictatorship, he has said. The stress and anxiety built as he was secretly taking people into hiding to get them out of the country and save their lives, he has said.

“I had to deal with situations I didn’t know how to deal with,” he recalled.

This edition of The Pope Video was created with the support of the Association of Catholic Mental Health Ministers, an association which offers spiritual support to people suffering some form of mental illness, and which fosters actions to prevent any kind of discrimination that would impede them from participating fully in the life of the Church.

A study published this year estimates that about one in ten people worldwide lives with a mental health disorder—that is to say, about 792 million people, or 11% of the population. Among the various disorders that exist, the study identifies depression (264 million, 3%) and anxiety (284 million, 4%) as the most prevalent in people’s lives.

The Pope’s message is shared by the Association of Catholic Mental Health Ministers, a lay association of the Christian faithful founded in the United States, whose members are called to be a healing presence in the lives of people with mental illness. Its president, Deacon Ed Shoener from the Cathedral of Saint Peter in Scranton, explained the need to respond to Pope Francis’ call.

“Our mission is to support the growth of mental health ministry in the Church. Pope Francis has said that we need to fully overcome the stigma with which mental illness has often been branded in order to ensure that a culture of community prevails over the mentality of rejection. We are committed to following the Pope’s call to build a community of warmth and affection where people who live with depression and other mental health challenges can find hope and healing,” Deacon Shoener said.


About the Association of Catholic Mental Health Ministers

The Association for Catholic Mental Health Ministers is a Lay Association of the Christian Faithful whose members are called to be a healing presence in the lives of people with mental illness. The Association works to make mental health ministry an integral and common ministry in the Church that is available in every Catholic parish and community. Mental health ministry provides spiritual support to people living with a mental illness to assist them to live in holiness and educates and informs the Catholic community about the issues, struggles and joys that can be found in people living with a mental illness. The Association provides the tools, methods and insights that allow catholic leaders to confidently minister to people with a mental illness without fear or prejudice. You can learn more about mental health ministry by visiting the Association of Catholic Mental Health Ministers at:



WASHINGTON (CNS) – The proposed Build Back Better Act has much-needed provisions “uplifting the common good,” but “it is completely unacceptable” the current House version of the bill “expands taxpayer funding of abortion,” the chairmen of six committees of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops said Nov. 3.

“We have been consistent in our position and reiterate that it would be a calamity if the important and life-affirming provisions in this bill were accompanied by provisions facilitating and funding the destruction of unborn human life,” they wrote in a joint letter to all members of the House and Senate.

The six prelates commended “the bipartisan efforts that led to the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act,” which will create millions of jobs, improve global competitiveness and provide new funds for roads, bridges, the electric grid and other major projects.

The bishops also outlined their support for social policies and programs in the Build Back Better Act that would strengthen the social safety net, support workers and families, increase affordable housing, provide affordable health care coverage and protect the environment.

They renewed their requests to Congress — outlined in at least four other letters to lawmakers over the last several months — “to work together toward legislation that promotes the common good and the dignity of every person.”

The Infrastructure and Investment Jobs Act was passed by the Senate in August and awaits action in the House, whose members have refused to pass it without also holding a vote on the Build Back Better Act at the same time. The latter measure is still being negotiated in the Senate.

The USCCB chairmen who signed the Nov. 3 letter were: Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan of New York, Committee for Religious Liberty; Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann of Kansas City, Kansas, Committee on Pro-Life Activities; Archbishop Paul S. Coakley of Oklahoma City, Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development; Bishop Michael C. Barber of Oakland, California, Committee on Catholic Education; Bishop David A. Konderla of Tulsa, Oklahoma, Subcommittee for the Promotion and Defense of Marriage; and Auxiliary Bishop Mario E. Dorsonville of Washington, Committee on Migration.

In addition to their opposition on abortion funding in the bill, the bishops also expressed concern about provisions that could effectively exclude faith-based providers from child care and pre-K programs.

Several provisions “do not align” with preserving religious liberty and expanding access to early childhood education, the bishops said.

“Expanded access to early child care and pre-K would be beneficial for many working families,” they said, but “current provisions to do so — in a departure from the approach in existing federal programs — explicitly make providers recipients of federal financial assistance and attach new and troubling compliance obligations.”

They also pressed Congress to include a provision in the Build Back Better bill that would provide for the full integration of people in this country without documents by legalizing their status and providing them with a pathway to citizenship.

“We strongly urge you to adopt provisions in this measure that would achieve this goal,” they wrote.

“While we remain opposed to the existence of a ‘double society,’ in the event that parliamentary constraints preclude permanent protections for the undocumented from being included in this bill,” they said, “we would affirm the value of enacting temporary protections, with the expectation that Congress will work expeditiously to enact permanent relief in subsequent legislation.”

The committee chairmen praised the Build Back Better bill’s expansion of health care coverage, which they have long supported at the federal and state levels, they said.

These provisions include the provision of health care coverage to those in the “Medicaid gap” through Affordable Care Act premium tax credits, the extension of Medicaid postpartum coverage to 12 months and other investments to address the high rates of preventable maternal deaths in the United States, and support for the Children’s Health Insurance Program, known as CHIP.

“We are pleased to see the addition of funding for training of health professionals in palliative medicine and hospice care,” they said, but they also strongly urged “the addition of language to ensure that this funding cannot be used for training or promotion of assisted suicide or euthanasia.”

Their letter concluded with reiterating the “fundamental problem” of expanded abortion funding in the measure.

This “must be remedied before the bill moves forward,” they wrote.

Editor’s Note: The full text of the bishops’ Nov. 3 letter, with links to previous USCCB committee letters to Congress, can be found at


Pope Francis places a white rose on a grave at the French Military Cemetery before celebrating Mass for the feast of All Souls at the cemetery in Rome Nov. 2, 2021. (CNS photo/Vatican Media)

ROME (CNS) – The tombstones of soldiers killed in war cry out to people today to end all wars and to stop the production of weapons, Pope Francis said.

“I am sure that all of those who went with goodwill (to war), called by their country to defend it, are with the Lord,” he said, celebrating Mass on the feast of All Souls, Nov. 2, at the French Military Cemetery in Rome.

“But we, who are journeying (on earth), are we fighting enough so there will be no more wars, so there will be no more domestic economies fortified by the arms industry?” he asked.

An easing of restrictions during the COVID-19 pandemic allowed Pope Francis to resume his usual practice of celebrating Mass on the feast of All Souls in a cemetery — in Rome or nearby — but only about 250 people were in attendance. Last year he presided over a private Mass in a chapel and then visited and blessed graves in a small cemetery inside the Vatican.

The Italian government established the French Military Cemetery to honor the French soldiers who fought against Nazi and fascist forces on Italian soil from 1943 to 1944. Nearly 2,000 French soldiers are buried here, many of them Moroccan soldiers who served under French officers. Among those present at the Mass was Cardinal Dominique Mamberti, prefect of the Vatican’s highest court, who was born in Marrakech, Morocco, to French parents.

The pope arrived by car to the hilltop cemetery just a few miles north of the Vatican and placed white roses on several graves. He prayed in silence before walking slowly through one of the rows marked by marble crosses.

“These tombs that speak, they cry out, cry out by themselves, ‘Peace!'” he said during his off-the-cuff homily at the Mass.

“These graves are a message of peace,” urging people today to stop all war and calling on weapons manufacturers to cease production, the pope said.

As people visit cemeteries on the feast day, he said, they should take time to pause and realize they are on a journey that will end someday.

The journey of life should not be a leisurely “stroll” in the park nor is it an impossible “labyrinth,” he said, but it is a journey that involves effort and understanding there will be “a final step” at the end of that earthly path.

Everyone is on a journey which entails facing “many historical realities, many difficult situations,” and cemeteries are a reminder to take pause and reflect on the nature of one’s own journey and where it is heading, he said.

Looking at the gravestones, the pope said he sees “good people” who died at war, “died because they were called to defend their country, to defend values, ideals and, many other times, to defend sad and regrettable political situations.”

“And they are victims, victims of war which devours the sons and daughters of a nation,” he said, recalling a number of deadly battles fought in the 20th century.

The graves marked “unknown” instead of with a name show “the tragedy of war,” even though God always keeps the name of everyone in his heart, he said.