In letter, thousands of Catholic nuns declare trans people ‘beloved and cherished by God’

— The letter follows a recent statement from U.S. Catholic bishops discouraging Catholic health-care groups from performing various gender-affirming medical procedures

Nuns gather in St. Peter’s Square in Vatican City as they attend Pope Francis leading the traditional Sunday prayer in early March.

By Jack Jenkins

A coalition led by Catholic nuns, representing thousands of women religious and associates at partner groups, released a public a letter on Friday voicing support for transgender, nonbinary and gender-expansive individuals, declaring they “are beloved and cherished by God” and implicitly rebuking recent statements from the U.S. Catholic hierarchy.

The letter is meant to mark the International Day of Transgender Visibility, which takes place Friday.

“As members of the body of Christ, we cannot be whole without the full inclusion of transgender, nonbinary, and gender-expansive individuals,” the letter reads. It goes on to argue that “we will remain oppressors until we — as vowed Catholic religious — acknowledge the existence of LGBTQ+ people in our own congregations. We seek to cultivate a faith community where all, especially our transgender, nonbinary, and gender-expansive siblings, experience a deep belonging.”

The letter also states transgender people are “experiencing harm and erasure” in various ways, listing daily discrimination, a groundswell of state-level legislation aimed at LGBTQ rights and “harmful rhetoric from some Christian institutions and their leaders, including the Catholic Church.”

Prepared by representatives from various communities including the U.S. Federation of the Sisters of St. Joseph, Sisters of Providence of St. Mary-of-the-Woods, Indiana, and Sisters of Charity of Leavenworth JPIC office, the letter lists orders of nuns and other organizations representing more than 6,000 vowed religious across 18 states.

Among the signatories are various offices of the Sisters of Charity; the leadership of the Presentation Sisters of Dubuque, Iowa; Sisters of Loretto/Loretto Community; multiple offices of the School Sisters of Notre Dame; the Dominican Sisters of Houston; and the Justice Office of the Medical Mission Sisters.

The letter also lists ways to take action, such as supporting New Ways Ministry, a Catholic LGBTQ outreach group, or signing a statement highlighting a “Catholic commitment to trans-affirmation” from DignityUSA.

The nuns’ effort comes in the wake of a doctrinal statement published earlier this month by a committee of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, which discouraged Catholic health-care groups from performing various gender-affirming medical procedures, arguing doing so does not respect the “intrinsic unity of body and soul.”

Sister Barbara Battista, the congregation justice promoter for the Sisters of Providence, St. Mary-of-the-Woods, noted the letter was already in the works before the bishops unveiled their doctrinal statement. Battista said she and other crafters of the letter were initially responding to the wave of bills being considered in state legislatures that target transgender rights.

When the bishops’ statement became public, Battista said, it jump-started their efforts.

“There’s a sense of urgency in me to say that there are many, many faithful Catholics who know a different way,” said Battista, who has publicly advocated for other causes in the past.

“We need to find opportunities to speak up and to say, ‘We are with you, we support you.’”

Battista noted that many of the bills working their way through state legislatures revolve around the health-care needs of trans people, an issue that hits home for her as a licensed physician assistant in Indiana. She described her work as “participating in the healing ministry of Jesus,” rooted, she said, in a “sacred trust” between patients and providers.

But Catholic leaders and government officials, she argued, have tried to “insert themselves into the private, very personal and intimate conversations and decisions made between the health-care provider and the person they are serving.”

Another person who assisted in crafting the letter, a nonbinary member of a Catholic religious community who asked to remain anonymous for fear of backlash against their community, echoed Battista’s comments in an interview with Religion News Service. “It’s past time for religious communities to speak out against the injustice, the violence, the exclusion of trans, nonbinary persons within society and the church,” they said.

The person also expressed hope the letter would draw attention to the fact that Catholic communities include transgender, nonbinary and gender-expansive individuals.

“It’s not some outside group,” they said. “There are members of religious communities who identify as transgender or nonbinary. … They’re not ‘out there.’”

In the past few decades, Catholic nuns have shown a willingness to take public stands on issues different from or even opposed to those of the American bishops. Earlier this month, former House speaker Nancy Pelosi recalled when U.S. bishops came out against the Affordable Care Act in 2010, a move that concerned some Catholic Democrats who wanted to vote for the bill. But a broad group of Catholic nuns voiced support for the ACA a short time later, a development Pelosi credited with helping get the bill passed, saying, “Thank God for the nuns.”

But the nuns’ activism was not without consequence. Their support for the ACA is widely believed to be one catalyst for a Vatican investigation of women religious in the United States. The investigation, launched under former Pope Benedict XVI, was discontinued by Pope Francis in 2015.

Battista and the nonbinary religious both said the dangers LGBTQ people face every day were far more daunting than kickback from Catholic officials. Said the anonymous religious: “It takes an enormous amount of courage because of discrimination, the actual real existence of threat of harm to our physical bodies and lives, but also the hatred and rejection.”

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High-Profile French Nun Inspires Hope for Catholic Women

Sister Nathalie Becquart, the first female undersecretary in the Vatican’s Synod of Bishops, poses for a photo in front of St. Peter’s Square in Vatican City, May 29, 2023.

In her years running Catholic youth programs in France, Sister Nathalie Becquart often invoked her own experience as a seasoned sailor in urging young people to weather the storms of their lives.

“There’s nothing stronger than seeing the sunrise after a storm, the flat calm of the sea,” she said.

That lesson is especially applicable to Becquart herself as she charts the global church through an unprecedented — and at times, tempestuous — period of reform as one of the highest-ranking women at the Vatican.

Pope Francis named the 54-year-old nun as the first female undersecretary in the Vatican’s Synod of Bishops office in 2021. Since then, she has been crisscrossing the globe as the public face of his hallmark call to listen to rank-and-file Catholics and empower them to have a greater say in the life of the church.

That process, which comes to a head in October with a big assembly, reaches a crucial point Tuesday with the publication of the working document for the meeting. It is shaping up as a referendum on the role of women in the church of the third millennium.

Becquart, who has overseen a canvassing of ordinary Catholics about their needs from the church and hopes for the future, says the call for change is unambiguous and universal, with demands that women have greater decision-making roles taking center stage at the meeting, or synod.

“There is this unanimous call because women want to participate, to share their gifts and charism at the service of the church,” Becquart said in an interview with The Associated Press in her offices just off St. Peter’s Square.

For a 2,000-year-old institution that by its very doctrine bars women from its highest ranks, Francis’ synodal process has sparked unusual optimism among women who have long felt they were second-class citizens in the church. Predictably, the prospects of change have provoked a strong backlash from conservatives, who view the synod as undermining the all-male, clerical-based hierarchy and the ecclesiology behind it.

Becquart and Francis aren’t daunted and see the criticism, fear and alarm as a good sign that something big and important is underway.

“Of course, there is resistance,” Becquart said with a laugh. “If there is no resistance, that means nothing is happening or nothing is changing.”

But she also puts it in perspective: “If you look at all the history of the reform of the church, where you have the strongest resistance or debated points, it’s really usually a very important point.”

Francis, the 86-year-old Argentine Jesuit, has already done more than any modern pope to promote women by changing church law to allow them to read Scripture and serve on the altar as eucharistic ministers, even while reaffirming they cannot be ordained as priests.

He has changed the Vatican’s founding constitution to allow women to head Vatican offices and made several high-profile female appointments, none more symbolically significant than Becquart’s.

As undersecretary in the Synod of Bishops, Becquart was de facto granted the right to vote at the upcoming October synod — a right previously held by men only. After years of complaints by women, who had been allowed to participate in synods only as nonvoting experts, auditors or observers, Francis not only gave Becquart a voting role, but expanded the vote to laypeople in general.

Sister Nathalie Becquart, the first female undersecretary in the Vatican's Synod of Bishops, shares a word with Cardinal Arthur Roche on her way to the Vatican, May 29, 2023.
Sister Nathalie Becquart, the first female undersecretary in the Vatican’s Synod of Bishops, shares a word with Cardinal Arthur Roche on her way to the Vatican, May 29, 2023.

In April, the Vatican announced that 70 non-bishops would be voting alongside the successors of the apostles in October, and that half of them were expected to be women. While these represent less than a quarter of the bishop votes, the reform was nevertheless historic and a reflection of Francis’ belief that church governance doesn’t come from priestly ordination but by specific jobs entrusted to the baptized faithful.

Becquart has long held leadership roles in the French church, where she ran the bishops’ youth evangelization program. A graduate of Paris’ top HEC business school, Becquart said she has drawn strength from the women who preceded her at the Vatican and in her own religious community, the Xaviere Sisters, a Jesuit-inspired, Vatican II-era missionary congregation that she joined at age 26.

From them and her grandmother, who was widowed while pregnant with her fourth child, Becquart said she learned that women “carry on this message that life is stronger than death, and that even in the greatest difficulties, crises and sufferings, there is a possible path, especially when you are not alone.”

It’s a lesson she applies when sailing and leading spiritual retreats at sea.

“There will be good weather and bad weather, quiet seas and then big waves.” she said. But eventually, the storm will end.

“That’s our life and that’s the life of the church,” she added.

Australia’s ambassador to the Holy See, Chiara Porro, has praised Becquart’s leadership style, recalling how she managed a room full of bishops during the Oceania phase of the synod consultation process. Becquart’s presence as a female Vatican envoy traveling to Fiji to brief Pacific bishops on the pope’s agenda signaled a paradigm shift, Porro said.

“She doesn’t have any preconceived objectives or outcomes. For her, no issues are off-limits, I think, and that’s very important because people feel that they can bring up what they want to discuss,” she said.

Veteran Vatican-watchers, however, caution that even with women taking on high-profile appointments and winning the right to vote at the October synod, the men still run the show.

“All the reforms that have been made to date on governing at the Vatican, in my opinion, are just appearances,” said Lucetta Scaraffia, a church historian who participated in a 2016 synod and wrote a scathing account of her marginalized role in From the Last Row. Her experiences — of being forced to go through a metal detector and check in each day while the bishops waltzed in unimpeded — were emblematic.

“I realized how the Catholic Church really was another world and what it means for women to be nonexistent. To actually not exist,” she said.

Jean-Marie Guenois, chief religious affairs correspondent for Le Figaro, who has known Becquart for years, said her role at the Vatican and in the synod process would be revolutionary “if it marked a paradigm shift in the Catholic Church where women would achieve parity of power in government.”

“We’re a long way from that,” he said, while nevertheless calling Becquart’s position “simply prophetic.”

Complete Article HERE!

What ‘Drag Nuns’ Get Right About Catholic Faith

By Kaya Oakes

In the Venn diagram of sports and religion, there is no easy overlap. Early in May, the professional baseball team the Los Angeles Dodgers announced that they would be giving a community service award to the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, a group of “drag nuns” who began ministering to people with AIDS decades ago, and who continue to work with the LGBTQ+ community today.

The reaction from conservatives was operatic in scale, with everyone from Sen. Marco Rubio (R.-Fla) to Bishop Robert Barron decrying the invitation. Barron went so far as to refer to the Sisters as an “anti-Catholic hate group.” In other cases, conservatives called the decision “disrespectful” to Catholic nuns. But when the Dodgers rescinded the invitation on May 17, the outrage from liberals was equally strong. Openly gay California state Sen. Scott Wiener (D.-Calif.) praised the Sisters’ “lifesaving work,” and pressure against the Dodgers’ disinvitation was so widespread that team management issued an apology and reinvited the Sisters to the stadium.

As Pride month begins, it’s worth reflecting on some facts about Catholic history that have been lost in the finger pointing. Historically, there have been many Catholics who have pushed back against gender norms. But like modern conservatives who focus on the outrageous aspects of the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence while ignoring the group’s tireless work caring for the sick, homeless, and poor, the Catholic hierarchy has also attempted to mute the stories of gender-nonconforming people throughout its history. And in doing so, the church hierarchy has often ignored the acts of mercy so central to Catholic teaching.

In the year 1429, prompted by a voice from God, Joan of Arc rode into battle in men’s armor. After aiding France in achieving multiple military victories, Joan was captured and put on trial for heresy and blasphemy. Among her supposed crimes was dressing like a man. At her trial, she was offered a dress to wear, but she replied that she preferred men’s clothing, because “it pleases God that I wear it.”

Julian of Norwich, a medieval mystic, referred to Jesus as “our precious mother,” and in case anyone missed the message, went even further, saying “God is also our mother.” Saints Euphrosyne, Anastasia the Patrician, Hildegund and others disguised themselves as men to enter monasteries. One of St. Francis’ closest friends was a woman he called “Brother Jacoba,” saints of many gender s were wed in “mystical marriages” to Christ, and some believe it was Mary Magdalene, the first to greet the risen Christ, who really led the church in the days after Easter.

A 17th century carving of St. Wilgefortis in the Museum of the Diocese Graz-Seckau in Graz, Austria.

But for those who are appalled by the sight of “drag nuns” in full beards and makeup, the most revealing story from Catholic history might be the medieval tale of St. Wilgefortis. The daughter of a king, Wilgefortis was promised in marriage to a man she didn’t want, and in answer to her prayers for liberation, God caused her to sprout a miraculous beard. Not only was this enough to repel her suitor, but it has also made her into a contemporary heroic figure for queer Catholics and women trying to kick off the shackles of misogyny and homophobia alike. Scholars sometimes arguethat these gender-nonconforming Catholics were more myth than reality, but regardless of the historical veracity, they remain beloved examples of courage and vocation, of living out a call to be their authentic selves while living a life of service.

Strikingly, “call” is the same word many members of the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence use to describe their own vocations. There is an 18-month process of becoming a Sister, including doing charitable work in the community, which they call a “mission.” Sister June Cleavage told the LA Times: “You don’t come to this organization without understanding, without compassion and without having fought these kinds of battles before on a smaller scale.” And many of the Sisters have emphasized they are not anti-Catholic. In poking fun at the church, they believe they are helping to call out its hypocrisy; the Catholic Church has exhibited plenty of that — especially in terms of how it deals with gender.

But while many are rushing to defend Catholic nuns from the Sisters’ parody, the voices of Catholic sisters have been largely overlooked in this conversation. And Catholic sisters’ views on the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, as it turns out, are much more nuanced than those of Catholic leadership who claim the Sisters are dangerous.

In America magazine, Sister Jo’Ann De Quattro, a member of the Catholic order the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary, said the Dodgers made a mistake in disinviting the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence because they engage in works of mercy. “It’s about trying to embrace people who might be different from us, because Jesus said, ‘Come to the table,’” she told journalist Michael O’Loughlin. “Not, ‘You don’t deserve a place at the table.’”

Sister Jeanne Grammick, the founder of Catholic LGBTQ+ support group New Ways Ministry, echoed this, saying in a statement that “there is a hierarchy of values in this situation. The choice of clothing, even if offensive to some, can never trump the works of mercy.”

As a Catholic born and raised in the Bay Area, for me, the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence have always been a welcome sign of hard work, acceptance, and tolerance. In the ’90s, when Catholics largely turned their backs on people with AIDS, the Sisters rolled up their sleeves and got to work. Today, when queer kids turn up in the Bay Area having been rejected by their families and churches, the Sisters are there for them. The Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence marched with me and my friends at ACT UP rallies in the worst days of the AIDS epidemic; I once saw a Sister in full drag garb picking up trash in a park while rich techies tossed garbage onto the grass.

Of course, Catholic nuns have done this kind of work on the margins for centuries — and they have also been the subject of the church’s critique. In 2012, Cardinal William Levada accused U.S. nuns of disobedience and espousing “radical feminist themes” and subjected the nuns to a multi-year investigation supported by recently deceased Pope Benedict XVI. Women and gender-variant people, it seems, will always make the church uncomfortable. But we are often also the ones who hold the church accountable.

Meanwhile, the male hierarchy of the church is driving people away at unprecedented rates. Bishop Salvatore Cordileone of the archdiocese of San Francisco, where the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence were founded, has doused the homeless with water to stop them from sleeping outside of the city’s cathedral; excommunicated politician Nancy Pelosi (D – Calif.) because of her support for abortion rights; called trans people a “threat” to the church; and tried and failed to force Catholic school teachers to sign a “morality clause” that would have, in part, effectively forbidden them from coming out at school. The Catholic church in the U.S. is hemorrhaging members, with younger Catholics the most likely to say that the church’s attitude toward LGBTQ+ people is a primary reason they leave.

It’s too soon to tell if this kerfuffle will push even more Catholics out of the church. But what it reveals about the lack of mercy many Catholics have in their hearts should be far more shocking than the sight of anyone dressed like an old-fashioned nun with a beard.

Complete Article HERE!

In a historic shift

— Pope Francis allows women to vote at bishops’ meetings

Pope Francis leaves at the end of his weekly general audience in St. Peter’s Square, at the Vatican, Wednesday, April 26, 2023.

By The Associated Press

Pope Francis has decided to give women the right to vote at an upcoming meeting of bishops, an historic reform that reflects his hopes to give women greater decision-making responsibilities and laypeople more say in the life of the Catholic Church.

Francis approved changes to the norms governing the Synod of Bishops, a Vatican body that gathers the world’s bishops together for periodic meetings, following years of demands by women to have the right to vote.

The Vatican on Wednesday published the modifications he approved, which emphasize his vision for the lay faithful taking on a greater role in church affairs that have long been left to clerics, bishops and cardinals.

Catholic women’s groups that have long criticized the Vatican for treating women as second-class citizens immediately praised the move as historic in the 2,000-year life of the church.

“This is a significant crack in the stained glass ceiling, and the result of sustained advocacy, activism and the witness” of a campaign of Catholic women’s groups demanding the right to vote, said Kate McElwee of the Women’s Ordination Conference, which advocates for women priests.

Ever since the Second Vatican Council, the 1960s meetings that modernized the church, popes have summoned the world’s bishops to Rome for a few weeks at a time to debate particular topics. At the end of the meetings, the bishops vote on specific proposals and put them to the pope, who then produces a document taking their views into account.

Until now, the only people who could vote were men. But under the new changes, five religious sisters will join five priests as voting representatives for religious orders. In addition, Francis has decided to appoint 70 non-bishop members of the synod and has asked that half of them be women. They too will have a vote.

The aim is also to include young people among these 70 non-bishop members, who will be proposed by regional blocs, with Francis making a final decision.

“It’s an important change, it’s not a revolution,” said Cardinal Jean-Claude Hollerich, a top organizer of the synod.

The next meeting, scheduled for Oct. 4-29, is focused on the very topic of making the church more reflective of, and responsive to, the laity, a process known as “synodality” that Francis has championed for years.

The October meeting has been preceded by an unprecedented two-year canvassing of the lay Catholic faithful about their vision for the church and how it can better respond to the needs of Catholics today.

So far only one women is known to be a voting member of that October meeting, Sister Nathalie Becquart, a French nun who is undersecretary in the Vatican’s Synod of Bishops office. When she was appointed to the position in 2021, she called Francis “brave” for having pushed the envelope on women’s participation.

By the end of next month, seven regional blocs will propose 20 names apiece of non-bishop members to Francis, who will select 10 names apiece to bring the total to 70.

Cardinal Mario Grech, who is in charge of the synod, stressed that with the changes, some 21% of the gathered representatives at the October meeting will be non-bishops, with half of that group women.

Acknowledging the unease within the hierarchy of Francis’ vision of inclusivity, he stressed that the synod itself would continue to have a majority of bishops calling the shots.

“Change is normal in life and history,” Hollerich told reporters. “Sometimes there are revolutions in history, but revolutions have victims. We don’t want to have victims,” he said, chuckling.

Catholic Women’s Ordination, a British-based group that says it’s devoted to fighting misogyny in the church, welcomed the reform but asked for more.

“CWO would want transparency, and lay people elected from dioceses rather than chosen by the hierarchy, but it is a start!” said the CWO’s Pat Brown.

Hollerich declined to say how the female members of the meeting would be called, given that members have long been known as “synodal fathers.” Asked if they would be known as “synodal mothers,” he responded that it would be up to the women to decide.

Francis has upheld the Catholic Church’s ban on ordaining women as priests, but has done more than any pope in recent time to give women greater say in decision-making roles in the church.

He has appointed several women to high-ranking Vatican positions, though no women head any of the major Vatican offices or departments, known as dicasteries.

Complete Article HERE!

Philadelphia Archdiocese faces civil suit claiming then-priest preyed on adult woman at Nashville Catholic college

The gold cross and cupola of Philadelphia’s Cathedral Basilica of Sts. Peter and Paul are pictured in this 2011 file photo.

By

The Archdiocese of Philadelphia is facing a civil lawsuit over claims it covered up for one of its former priests who allegedly sexually abused a student at a Nashville, Tennessee, Catholic college run by Dominican women religious.

The complaint highlights problems in the sharing of information among dioceses and institutions, as well as unaddressed challenges in the Catholic Church’s handling of allegations of sexual abuse involving adult victims.

Attorneys for “Jane Doe,” an undergraduate at Aquinas College in Nashville from 2014-2018, filed a 31-page complaint April 18 with the Philadelphia County Court of Common Pleas Civil Trial Division, naming as defendants the archdiocese and Kevin Barry McGoldrick, a former priest of the Philadelphia archdiocese and currently a Nashville resident.

Doe, now a 28-year-old educator working in Virginia, claims McGoldrick groomed and then sexually assaulted her on at least two occasions in 2017 while she was a 22-year-old student at Aquinas College, during which time the priest — also a singer-songwriter who crowdfunded his own album — was her spiritual director.

Existing church protocols on abuse, such as the Dallas Charter, focus on the protection of minor children and those adults legally regarded as children due to a habitual incapacity of some kind.

But the vulnerability of adults generally to sexual exploitation by clergy or lay authority figures is only now receiving greater attention within the church. The 2018 McCarrick scandals and #ChurchToo movement exposed in the U.S. and globally how women and men in the church, particularly those in pastoral relationships, spiritual direction, employment, religious life or seminary, could be vulnerable to clergy abuse.

Underscoring the need to extend the church’s safe environment protection to adults, Pope Francis revised in March his 2019 legal reform “Vos Estis Lux Mundi” (“You are the light of the world”), with the term “vulnerable adults” specifically defined as “any person in a state of infirmity, physical or mental deficiency, or deprivation of personal liberty that in fact, even occasionally, limits his or her ability to understand or will or otherwise resist the offense.”

Ordained in May 2003, McGoldrick — according to the complaint — had been sent in 2013 with a letter of suitability from the Archdiocese of Philadelphia to serve as a chaplain at Aquinas College, located within the Diocese of Nashville and operated by the Dominican Sisters of St. Cecilia, known as the Nashville Dominicans.

According to the complaint, from about 2017 to 2020 McGoldrick also served as a chaplain at the Nashville Dominicans’ Overbrook Catholic School and St. Cecilia Academy, adjacent to the Aquinas campus, and together serving students from PreK to grade 12.

Doe, who is seeking more than $250,000 in total damages on five counts, alleges the archdiocese permitted McGoldrick’s relocation despite supposed prior reports of sexual abuse involving at least two other women in the Philadelphia area, which Doe said she discovered through online sources not specified in the complaint.

Requests placed by OSV News for comment from the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, Aquinas College and the Nashville Dominicans have been declined. OSV News has not yet received a response to requests for comment from the Overbrook Catholic School and St. Cecilia Academy.

Doe told OSV News in an April 19 call that she has suffered “two-fold” trauma as a result of the alleged abuse — the first from the sexual assaults, and the second from the “constant invalidation experienced from the church” as she has sought justice.

Learning of other alleged victims in the Philadelphia area was “another blow,” said Doe. “To know that everything I had experienced, the abuse at the hands of McGoldrick and the trauma the church had inflicted — all of that was avoidable if the Archdiocese of Philadelphia hadn’t sent a known sex predator to my college campus.”

Doe’s attorney, Stewart Ryan, advised OSV News by email that his client had been alerted to the alleged additional accusations against McGoldrick through the Facebook page of Catholics4Change, which describes itself as an “accountability blog” focusing on child protection issues in the Catholic Church.

The complaint details allegations of sexual abuse by McGoldrick against “M.W.” and “Victim #2” — neither of whom are parties to the lawsuit — said to have occurred prior to McGoldrick’s move to Nashville. Ryan told OSV News the information about M.W. and Victim #2 “was developed during (his) law firm’s investigation of the case.”

M.W. alleged in the complaint that McGoldrick had groomed her beginning in 2006, and abused her for several years, raping her at least once. Victim #2, a parish business manager, was also groomed and abused by McGoldrick beginning in 2012, according to the document, which asserts that both cases had been reported to and were under investigation by the Archdiocese of Philadelphia.

“McGoldrick made the women he abused, including Plaintiff, M.W., and Victim #2, believe that their sexual interactions were ‘special trials’ ordained by God,” the complaint states.

The complaint states Doe reported the alleged abuse she had experienced to both the Diocese of Nashville and the Archdiocese of Philadelphia in March 2019, and was repeatedly advised by the latter that no additional victims had been identified.

A timeline of Doe’s efforts to report her claims and obtain further information from the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, the Diocese of Nashville and Aquinas College was published July 18, 2020, by the U.K.-based Catholic Herald.

According to the article, the Archdiocese of Philadelphia stated that McGoldrick’s petition for laicization was “in process” as of July 2020.

OSV News is awaiting confirmation from the archdiocese of the date when McGoldrick, who is not listed as a priest on the Archdiocese of Philadelphia’s website, was officially laicized.

Along with the timeline of Doe’s reporting, the Catholic Herald posted a July 18, 2020, first-person reflection by Doe, writing under the pseudonym “Susanna.”

In that account, she described feeling “overwhelming confusion and guilt” over the alleged attacks by McGoldrick, and “regularly contemplated taking (her) own life.”

Speaking to OSV News, Doe said her spiritual life has been profoundly damaged by the abuse she claims to have suffered.

“I was a convert to Catholicism, and … Catholicism was everything to me. It was my whole life,” she said. “Even after leaving (Aquinas), I was a full-time missionary Catholic.”

However, the “experience of trying to seek justice while inside the church has been so damaging that I can no longer exist within the church,” she said. “Because to be surrounded by those who are actively putting others in harm’s way is not something I can live with. And my heart breaks for those who continue to trust in an organization that I know all too well is not keeping them safe.”

Ryan told OSV News that his client’s case against the Archdiocese of Philadelphia revolves around “two core issues.”

“First, the Archdiocese of Philadelphia never should have transferred this man,” he said. “Based on our information, we allege that they knew (about McGoldrick’s alleged abuse) as of at least 2013.”

In addition, “once our client came forward to the Archdiocese of Philadelphia … (it) should have been more fully open and transparent with what they did know,” said Ryan. “There was absolutely no reason for the archdiocese to withhold information it knows about credible accusations of clergy members, just because they haven’t abused a child.”

He said, “I think this case stands as an example of a severe lack of communication (among dioceses).”

In an April 19 statement emailed to OSV News, the Diocese of Nashville said it had received a March 2019 “report from an adult woman of inappropriate activity involving Kevin McGoldrick” regarding “an incident that happened a year and a half earlier.”

The diocese said the incident at the time “appeared to be neither a civil nor canonical crime,” noting that “the report made to us was significantly different from the description of sexual assault subsequently reported to others and contained in published media reports.”

The statement said the diocese had “immediately referred” the report to the Nashville Dominicans, who as McGoldrick’s then-employer “had the authority and purview to investigate and respond to this matter,” since “as a pontifical order … not under the control of the Bishop or Diocese of Nashville” the sisters are “solely responsible for the operation of the school and its employees.”

The Nashville diocese said McGoldrick had been granted priestly faculties in Nashville after his hiring by the Dominicans, following McGoldrick passing a criminal background check and presenting a letter of good standing from the Archdiocese of Philadelphia. The faculties “were withdrawn after the Dominican Sisters elected not to continue McGoldrick’s employment,” said the Nashville Diocese’s statement.

The diocese said it, along with the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, had received “a much more detailed and serious report of abuse” from “the person who made the initial report” in the summer of 2019.

The diocese also said that it had “entered into settlement discussions” with the person reporting, out of pastoral concern for her healing, with both parties acknowledging the agreement was “not to be construed as an admission of validity of the merits of any claim or allegation” made by the person reporting, and “any and all liability was specifically denied.”

Ryan confirmed by email to OSV News that his client’s settlement with the Nashville diocese — an amount reported by the Catholic Herald as totaling $65,000 — “has been fully resolved.”

OSV News has attempted to reach McGoldrick directly for comment. According to his LinkedIn page, McGoldrick — who lists his clerical experience but does not state he is currently a member of the clergy — states on the site he has been a chaplain at Avalon Hospice (now Gentiva Hospice) in Nashville. On calling the hospice April 20, OSV News was advised McCormick is no longer employed at the facility. A message sent to McGoldrick’s Facebook account has not yet received a response.

Complete Article HERE!