A digest of links to media coverage of clergy abuse.
Click on the headline to read the full story.
November 26, 2015
Sydney Morning Herald
November 27, 2015
Cardinal George Pell is fighting battles on two fronts, one financial and the other in the realm of church doctrine, an area in which he managed to irk Pope Francis.
The Australian cardinal is attacked in two new books by Italian journalists as a "spendthrift moraliser" who spent €500,000 ($730,000) in his first six months as Prefect of the Vatican Secretariat for the Economy.
The journalists, Gianluigi Nuzzi and Emiliano Fittipaldi, are being tried in the Vatican for using its secret documents, together with three Vatican employees for supplying them. The trio of employees worked for COSEA, a now dissolved commission set up by Pope Francis to identify financial situations needing reform after much mismanagement and corruption.
Fittipaldi's book is called Avarizia (Avarice), Nuzzi's book has been translated into English as Merchants in the Temple.
The COSEA documents portray the situation at the beginning of last year when Francis appointed Cardinal Pell as a new broom and the two books are largely based on them. Nuzzi's book has a transcript of a February 24, 2014, meeting in which Francis surprised the 15-member cardinalate commission, which controlled the Vatican budget, by telling them they were being replaced by Cardinal Pell and his Secretariat. He praised Cardinal Pell for stepping down from being Primate of the Australian Catholic Church to become a banker.
The Secretariat has replied that the expenses were not €500,000 but €292,000 and included establishing both the Secretariat office and its chapel.
El juez instructor del caso Romanones sobre abusos sexuales presuntamente cometidos por sacerdotes a menores, ha acordado procesar al padre Román M.V.C. por un supuesto delito de abuso sexual continuado con prevalimiento, al considerar que existen indicios racionales de criminalidad en su conducta contra el denunciante de los hechos cuando éste era menor de edad.
En un auto fechado el 26 de noviembre, al que ha tenido acceso Europa Press, el titular del Juzgado de Instrucción número 4, el magistrado Antonio Moreno, declara procesado al padre Román por el citado delito, castigado con pena de prisión de cuatro a diez años, como paso previo a recibirle en declaración indagatoria y confirma la responsabilidad civil subsidiaria del Arzobispado de Granada.
[A magistrate in Granada, Spain, has issued an indictment against the leader of a group of priests and laity known as the Romanones for alleged sexaul abuse of a child.]
Granada - 26/11/2015
Diego Márquez. El titular del Juzgado de Instrucción 4 de Granada, Antonio Moreno, ha dictado auto de procesamiento contra el líder del grupo de sacerdotes y seglares conocido como los Romanones por supuestos abusos sexuales a un joven cuando era menor de edad. El juez observa «indicios racionales de criminalidad» en el padre Román, que era párroco de la iglesia de San Juan María Vianney de Granada donde conoció al chaval que fue allí monaguillo.
El auto de procesamiento mantiene la situación de libertad provisional al padre Román, para la que tuvo que pagar una fianza de 10.000 euros, y prorroga la medida cautelar de alejamiento y prohibición de comunicación de la víctima, que ahora tiene 25 años y vive en Navarra. Se llamará al procesado a una declaración indagatoria en los próximos días, en fecha que aún se desconoce, para concluir la instrucción antes de que, previsiblemente, se siente en el banquillo por un supuesto delito de abuso sexual «continuado con introducción de miembro corporal por vía anal, y tentativa de introducción de miembro viril», con prevalimiento, es decir haciendo valer su posición de poder. El Código Penal lo castiga con penas de cárcel de entre 4 y 10 años de prisión.
Wednesday, November 25, 2015
Conal Ó Fátharta’s indepth article (Irish Examiner, November 23) exposed the scandal of child mortality in Bessborough mother and baby home during the 1940s.
He showed how the state had to battle with the Roman Catholic Church to bring in reforms. Ó Fátharta demonstrated how even Bessborough’s medical officer, Dr O’Connor, tried to justify death and illness, because the children were ‘illegitimate’.
Dr James Deeny became Chief Medical Advisor of the new Department of Health in 1944. It was he who raised the storm between Church and State. He detailed visiting Bessborough in ‘To Cure and to Care’ (1989, p85’). “I… could not make out what was wrong; at last I took a notion and stripped all the babies and, unusually, for a Chief Medical Advisor, examined them. Every baby had some purulent infection of the skin and all had green diarrhoea, carefully covered up… without any legal authority I closed the place down and sacked the matron, a nun, and also got rid of the medical officer. The deaths had been going on for years. They had done nothing about it.”
I write because not so long before this, in 1939, the then Deputy Chief Medical Advisor, Dr Winslow Sterling Berry, was tasked with investigating large scale increases in death and illness in Dublin’s Protestant evangelical Bethany Home. Since outsiders had publicised removing children to hospital, Sterling Berry visited Bethany three times in 1939. Each time he covered up death and neglect.
La Prensa Grafica
El Arzobispado de San Salvador informó hoy que monseñor Jesús Delgado fue suspendido de sus funciones en la Iglesia Católica debido a una denuncia por pederastia, de la cual informó ayer la secretaria de Inclusión Social, Vanda Pignato.
Pignato dijo ayer, en el programa radial de Pencho y Aida, que al sacerdote “le gusta mucho hacer misas para niños, pero es un pedófilo".
Delgado no podrá ejercer ninguna función sacerdotal, pastoral ni administrativa, según detalló el Arzobispado mediante un comunicado de prensa.
El Salvador.- Representantes del Arzobispado de San Salvador informaron esta mañana sobre la separación de todas sus actividades pastorales de monseñor Jesús Delgado, quien ha confesado haber violado a una niña en la década de los 80.
“Nuestra Arquiodiócesis no va a encubrir ningún caso de abuso de menores, al contrario estará siempre en favor de la justicia y la verdad y en defensa de los niños”, reza el comunicado que leyó monseñor Rafael Urrutia.
Urrutia mencionó que Delgado ha sido suspendido de todas sus funciones mientras se desarrolla el proceso en su contra, el cual se hará únicamente a nivel de la iglesia, ya que judicialmente el delito prescribió. La suspensión incluye su participación en la comisión postuladora ante el Vaticano de las causas de monseñor Óscar Arnulfo Romero y del padre Rutilio Grande.
Daily Mail (UK)
SAN SALVADOR, Nov 26 (Reuters) - El Salvador's Roman Catholic Church said on Thursday it had fired a senior priest and former secretary of murdered Archbishop Oscar Romero after allegations that he had sex with a minor.
The Archdiocese of San Salvador said its preliminary investigation showed Jesus Delgado, 77, the third-ranking priest in the country's Catholic church, had sex with a minor aged between 9 and 17.
The female victim, who is now 42, presented the allegations to the Salvadoran government.
"We will not cover up cases of abuse of minors," said Monsignor Rafael Urrutia, chancellor of the Archdiocese of San Salvador. He added that Delgado had been relieved of his duties and was ready to ask the victim's forgiveness.
Delgado was the biographer and personal secretary of the Salvadoran Archbishop Oscar Romero, who was shot by a right-wing death squad while giving mass in 1980.
Pope Francis has criticized conservative clergy and bishops who he said "defamed" Romero.
[The commission on child sexual abuse will have to do without a cash infusion.]
Berlin. Die Aufarbeitungskommission zu sexuellem Kindesmissbrauch muss auf eine Geldspritze des Forschungsministeriums verzichten. Das Ressort plane keine finanzielle Unterstützung der Kommission, teilte ein Sprecher von Ministerin Johanna Wanka (CDU) mit. Man fördere auf Empfehlung des früheren runden Tisches "Sexueller Kindesmissbrauch" Forschungsvorhaben zur Bildungs- und Gesundheitsforschung mit rund 35 Millionen Euro.
[A special commission for reappraisal of child sexual abuse should be operational in a few weeks. But they are still fighting for financing.]
Berlin. In wenigen Wochen soll die Kommission zur Aufarbeitung sexuellen Kindesmissbrauchs ihre Arbeit aufnehmen. Doch noch immer kämpft der Unabhängige Beauftragte der Bundesregierung, Johannes-Wilhelm Rörig, um die Finanzierung. Von Jan Drebes
"Ich bin verärgert, dass ich bis heute keine verbindliche Zusage der Bundesregierung zur Finanzierung der Kommission habe", sagte Rörig auf Anfrage. Aktuell sei völlig unklar, ob die für 2016 bereitgestellten Mittel aus dem Familienministerium auch für die Jahre 2017 und 2018 gesichert seien. "Aber nur wenn das der Fall ist, kann ich die Kommission im Januar 2016 an den Start bringen", sagte Rörig und droht nun mit Einschnitten.
Alan Rhodes will make “an unreserved apology” to survivors of child abuse if Nottinghamshire County Council is found to have failed in its duty of care.
The leader of the county council was speaking ahead of tomorrow’s announcement by Lowell Goddard, chair of the independent inquiry into child sexual abuse, about which investigations will form the first part of the inquiry’s major work.
Nottinghamshire County Council will find out then if it will be examined by the inquiry.
Currently, two investigations – Operation Daybreak and Operation Xeres – are being run by Nottinghamshire Police. Xeres concerns allegations in north Nottinghamshire, including at South Collingham Hall and Caudwell House in Southwell. All of the centres have either closed or changed use since the alleged abuse, and none of the allegations relate to their current use.
An "unreserved apology" has been promised if a local authority's care system is found to have failed alleged victims of historical child abuse.
Police are investigating allegations of abuse at children's homes and secure units in Nottinghamshire committed over a number of years.
Alan Rhodes, the county council leader, pledged to expose any wrongdoing and help bring perpetrators to justice.
Campaigners lobbied the authority to demand more support for those affected.
di NINA FABRIZIO
Roma, 26 novembre 2015 - SPUNTANO passaggi torbidi, con contenuti fortemente espliciti anche sul piano sessuale. E minacce, intimidazioni per nulla velate. Ma emerge anche come si muovesse con una disinvoltura spregiudicata Francesca Immacolata Chaouqui, la pierre - ora imputata nel Vatileaks due -, fintanto che era membro della Cosea, la commissione referente vaticana sui tagli di spesa. Tanto che risulta dagli atti del fascicolo con cui il pm vaticano ha ottenuto il suo rinvio a giudizio, come promettesse anche ai genitori del premier Matteo Renzi incontri a Santa Marta con papa Francesco in persona. Riuscendo a portarli fin sotto l’uscio di Bergoglio senza che l’incontro andasse all’ultimo momento in porto.
SONO CENTINAIA i messaggi via Whatsapp tra Chaouqui e il monsignore spagnolo, Lucio Angel Vallejo Balda, anche lui ora imputato con le accuse di divulgazione di documenti riservati e associazione a delinquere. All’epoca della commissione, sciolta l’anno scorso, i due avevano un legame di ferro poi naufragato. Ma ancora la primavera scorsa la confidenza era massima. «Senti scrive - Chaouqui a Vallejo - ora che vai a San Sosti (il paese in Calabria di cui è originaria) - mia mamma ti porta da Silvana... è perfetta, ed è una mia cugina, così può anche essere salvato il patrimonio genetico. Poi mi dici che ne pensi. 36 anni. Morbida». La risposta di Vallejo sembra mostrare interesse: «Hmmmmm». Scrivono gli inquirenti che il prelato risulta poi essere andato a San Sosti, a casa della famiglia Chaouqui. «Martedì sera viene a casa tua a trombare. Ok?».
Paddy Agnew in Rome
The ongoing Vatican City trial into the theft of confidential Holy See documents, popularly known as Vatileaks 2, took a sensational turn this morning when the Milan daily, Il Giorno, published a selection of “hot” text messages exchanged by two of the defendants, Spanish Monsignor Lucio Angel Vallejo Balda and Holy See lay consultant Francesca Chaouqui.
Msgr Balda (54), who works for the Vatican Prefecture of Economic Affairs, and 33-year-old PR consultant Ms Chaouqui, are arguably the two major defendants in the Vatileaks trial. Both of them are accused of having abused their position on Cosea, a short-term economic reform commission to which they were appointed by Pope Francis in 2013.
In essence, the Vatican prosecution argues that they leaked confidential documents from the commission, documents that ended up in two current Italian best-sellers, Greed by Emiliano Fittipaldi and Merchants of the Temple by Gianluigi Nuzzi. Both authors are also on trial in Vatileaks 2.
Hundreds of text messages, usually exchanged on WhatsApp, between Msgr Balda and Ms Chaouqui depict a close relationship between the pair which steadily deteriorates. At one point, Ms Chaouqui attempts to arrange a meeting between the monsignor and her cousin, Silvana, writing to him: “On Tuesday night, she will be coming round to your place to f**k . . . You are perfect and Silvana is very soft . . .”
The monsignor declines the offer, however, replying: “Forget it, she is ugly . . .”
Il Giorno claims that the hundreds of text messages form part of the prosecution’s case against both defendants. The paper points out that, as time goes by, the once-warm relationship between the defendants deteriorates. At one point, Ms Chaouqui calls the monsignor an “egotistical pr**k” because he will not help her organise for a TV crew to do some filming in the Sistine Chapel.
Stormont officials are to be compelled to give evidence to an Assembly committee on a controversy surrounding victims who fall outside the terms of the on-going Historical Institutional Abuse (HIA) inquiry.
Members of the committee that scrutinises the Office of First Minister and Deputy First Minister (OFMDFM) voted to trigger the exceptional step after a failed year-long quest to obtain information.
The committee's repeated requests for a briefing about what OFMDFM was going to do for abuse victims not covered by the HIA's terms of reference have not been fulfilled.
The inquiry established by the Stormont Executive is currently hearing the testimony of residents who were abused in church, state and voluntary run institutions from 1922 to 1995, but only those who were under 18 at the time the crimes were committed.
That excludes older victims, such as young women abused in Magdalene Laundry-type institutions.
By Evan Allen GLOBE STAFF NOVEMBER 26, 2015
The filmmakers behind “Spotlight,” the movie about The Boston Globe’s investigation of the coverup of sexual abuse by Roman Catholic priests, this week defended their portrayal of a Boston College spokesman in the film, and refused to remove the scene in which he appears.
The contested scene shows a meeting at Boston College High School between Boston College spokesman Jack Dunn; the high school’s president, Bill Kemeza; Globe reporters Walter “Robby” Robinson and Sacha Pfeiffer; and a composite character, in which they discuss whether past administrators were aware of sexual abuse.
Dunn’s character says at one point, “It’s a big school, Robby, you know that. And we’re talking about seven alleged victims over, what, eight years?”
In a letter to the moviemakers dated Nov. 18, an attorney for Dunn said the scene casts the BC spokesman as a collaborator in the coverup, and called the portrayal “defamatory,” and a “devastating fabrication.” He demanded the scene be removed, and has pressed his case in recent days in newspaper and television interviews.
But in a response dated Nov. 24, the filmmakers “respectfully, but vigorously” disagreed.
“The gist of Mr. Dunn’s claim is that ‘Spotlight’ implies that he actively conspired with the Catholic Church to cover up child abuse,” the letter from Breaking News Productions, Participant Media, and Open Road Films reads. “However, the portrayal of Mr. Dunn, which amounts to a few lines in one scene of a two-hour, eight-minute movie does not support this implication. And the implication that actually arises — that Dunn is a trained public-relations professional who cares deeply about the reputation of BC High — is not actionable.”
During the scene, Dunn’s character states that the reporters are “reaching” for a story, and tells Robinson that “you care about the school as much as we do.” Dunn’s attorney argued that the character appears to be attempting to “suppress the truth and minimize the Globe reporting about the abuse of children.”
But the filmmakers say that is a fundamental misunderstanding of the scene, which they say was not about whether abuse occurred, but whether past administrators knew it was happening at the time. Dunn, their letter states, is not depicted trying to cover up any abuse. Rather, they say, he is shown arguing simply that past administrators may not have known about it in part because of the size of the school.
“A reasonable viewer of the film would conclude that Mr. Dunn, who is accurately characterized as an alumnus and public-relations professional from an affiliated institution, was concerned about the reputation of BC High, and acted in concert with his affiliation and professional training,” says the moviemakers’ letter, which includes multiple legal citations supporting their argument.
The filmmakers based the scene on the recollections of Robinson, which were vetted by Pfeiffer, according to the letter.
On Wednesday night, Robinson said the scene is faithful to what occurred in the meeting, which was depicted in the movie as happening in 2001, though in reality it occurred in 2002.
“It was a not-atypical encounter between a reporter with tough questions and a public relations representative who is doing his very best to minimize the damage that is going to be done to his institution in what is clearly going to be an unhappy story,” said Robinson, who spoke on behalf of himself and Pfeiffer. “That’s what happened in 2002, and that’s what the scene is about.”
Robinson, a BC High alum, said he had a vivid recollection of what happened because the meeting itself was very difficult for him.
“This was my school, which I love. And it was a very painful interview for me to do, at an institution which I remain very close to. So I remember it quite well,” he said.
He acknowledged he did not remember the verbatim words spoken by each person, but said Dunn did what any public relations person would do: He challenged the notion that administrators knew about the abuse at the time it happened. It was a moment made even more memorable, Robinson said, by Kemeza interrupting Dunn to say if he had been president at the time, he would have known.
Kemeza did not respond to messages seeking comment.
Dunn referred comments to his attorney, David H. Rich, who in a statement said it was “remarkably disappointing that the makers of a movie about investigative journalism would fabricate quotes about a real individual’s response to the horrific clergy abuse sex scandal and contend that this was legally permissible or morally correct.”
Rich said the “It’s a big school, Robby” line was originally written for the fictional character, and said the shifting of dialogue from a fictional character to a real person was “a transparent attempt to portray him as one of the villains in the movie.”
Evan Allen can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @evanmallen.
By Jody Porter, CBC News Posted: Nov 26, 2015
Twenty-one residential school survivors have come forward with new allegations of professional misconduct against lawyer Doug Keshen, from Kenora, Ont., according to the Law Society of Upper Canada.
The Law Society Tribunal is already looking into several previous allegations against Keshen, including a claim that he transferred settlement funds of residential school clients to himself.
Keshen denied the previous allegations, telling CBC News earlier this year that all of his clients "received their full entitlement."
Four of the 21 new complainants allege Keshen arranged for high interest loans, secured against anticipated settlement funds, which is prohibited by the Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement.
There are also claims that Keshen withdrew legal fees and disbursements from survivors' settlement funds without sending them a bill or setting out what the fees would be.
Scottish Catholic Observer
Former parish priest of St John the Baptist in Perth as been appointed as parish priest of St Fillan’s Church, Crieff and St Margaret’s Church, Comrie
Fr Tom Shields has been appointed as parish priest of St Fillan’s Church, Crieff and St Margaret’s Church, Comrie, after being restored to ministry in Dunkeld Diocese.
Fr Shields (above) was temporarily removed from parish ministry at St John the Baptist, Perth, in August after a complaint of historical abuse was made against him. The diocese followed national safeguarding protocols, and referred the complaint to police. The police have now confirmed they are not actively investigating, and the Church said their investigation found no evidence of criminality.
“In August, a historical allegation was made against Fr Tom Shields, parish priest of St John the Baptist Church, Perth; he was removed temporarily from parish ministry, while the necessary police and diocesan investigations were conducted,” a Church spokesman said. “This process is now complete and Fr Shields has been fully restored to ministry in the Diocese of Dunkeld.”
Cardinal George Pell is due to re-appear before the Royal Commission next month over his handling of allegations of child sexual abuse. One survivor of abuse gives evidence for the first time and claims George Pell downplayed the conduct of her abuser at a previous parliamentary inquiry.
LEIGH SALES, PRESENTER: Next month, Catholic Cardinal George Pell will make his much-anticipated appearance before the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.
New evidence about the case of Victorian predatory priest Peter Searson raises new questions for Cardinal Pell about how he managed allegations of sexual abuse.
The cardinal has consistently defended his handling of abuse by the clergy, but one victim claims she has evidence he knew far more than he's let on.
Louise Milligan has the story.
LOUISE MILLIGAN, REPORTER: Julie Stewart is coming back to Melbourne, a place she ran away from almost 20 years ago.
JULIE STEWART: I just wanted it out of my life. We moved to Cairns. Been there ever since.
LOUISE MILLIGAN: What Julie ran away from is the abuse she suffered at her Catholic primary school, Holy Family Doveton in outer Melbourne. Here abused was parish priest, one Peter Searson.
By Charlotte King
Victims of child sex abuse have joined more than 100 residents in a community march across Ballarat.
The march was intended to coincide with the child sex abuse royal commission's public hearings into the Melbourne diocese, which is expected to start this week.
The second hearings into Ballarat clergy abuse will start as part of the same sitting.
The march was launched at the old St Alipius Primary School site, where five staff were found to be convicted paedophiles.
Several victims of child sex abuse were marching for the first time, including one survivor, who asked only to be named as Humphrey.
November 26, 2015 | By Clare Harrison
Bank benefits from robust stewardship of de facto non-exec chair Pope Francis
New York – Croody’s today upgrades the foreign currency long-term deposit rating of the Vatican Bank (formally known as the Institute for Religious Works) to BBB+ status.
Croody’s typically retrospective grading reflects the following key drivers:
1) Initiation of a careful process to reverse historical ‘light-touch’ approach to tax evasion, mafia drug money laundering and fraud, while protecting economic and financial stability
2) Improvements to governance and transparency initiated by non-executive director Pope Francis, the 266th pope of the Catholic Church
3) Expectation of further improvement in the bank’s earnings over the next three to four years.
The bank, which has an estimated $8 bn in assets, has benefited from the more robust stewardship in the form of its de facto non-executive chairman Pope Francis. The pontiff’s non-deal US roadshow at the end of Q3 2015 came on the back of stellar earnings growth (20x) the previous year and underlines management improvements at the bank.
NOVEMBER 27, 2015
Shocking details of former Melbourne archbishop Frank Little’s failure to deal with a gun-toting pedophile priest have emerged at the royal commission into child sex abuse.
Former Catholic Education Office chief Tom Doyle has revealed he went direct to the late archbishop about complaints regarding the wildly unpredictable Father Peter Searson. Little had refused to act.
The commission also heard that Little received letters from parishioners and other concerned parties complaining about Searson. In 1982, Little received a letter from a parishioner who said he had instructed his children not to be alone in Searson’s office.
He also received a letter from fellow priest Philip O’Donnell saying: “I have not the slightest doubt that Peter is psychologically unsuitable to be the pastor of this parish, or any other … His utter humiliation of women has to be seen to be believed. He revels in reducing people to tears.”
San Antonio Express-News
By Elizabeth Zavala
November 25, 2015
A Catholic priest who was arrested in April and charged with indecent exposure after police said he solicited sex has pleaded no contest.
Rocky Henri Lee Grimard, an Oblate of Mary Immaculate priest from Canada, was arrested April 1 after he approached undercover park police officers at Olmos Park, solicited oral sex from one of them and exposed himself to conduct a sex act, according to a report.
The officers said Grimard then touched the crotch of one of the officers, after which they identified themselves and took him into custody, the report stated. He was later released after posting $1,600 bail.
“Father Grimard does not have an assignment in the Archdiocese of San Antonio,” said Jordan McMorrough, director of communications for the archdiocese. “At the time of his arrest on April 1, he was serving at the Lebh Shomea House of Prayer in Sarita.”
The dispute between Boston College spokesman Jack Dunn and the makers of “Spotlight” is escalating. “Spotlight,” as you no doubt know, is a movie about The Boston Globe’s Pulitzer Prize-winning reporting on the pedophile-priest scandal in the Catholic Church.
For the past few days, starting with a Kevin Cullen column in Sunday’s Globe, Dunn has been making media appearances claiming that he was falsely portrayed in the movie as uncaring toward victims at BC High School. The filmmakers have pushed back hard, arguing that the depiction of Dunn is accurate and that it was vetted by Globe reporters Walter Robinson and Sacha Pfeiffer.
According to an exchange of letters that I obtained this evening, Dunn’s lawyers are accusing the filmmakers of portraying Dunn in a way that is “false, malicious and fabricated.” The letter on behalf of Dunn, addressed primarily to screenwriters Tom McCarthy and Joshua Singer (McCarthy is also the director), says in part:
In general, the film, in dramatic fashion, divides the individuals it depicts into those who heroically searched for the truth about the horrific sexual abuse of children by members of the clergy and those who sought to suppress facts about the abuse. In a critical scene in the film, which is nearly entirely fabricated, Spotlight squarely and falsely places Mr. Dunn in the category of those who actively attempted to interfere with and thwart the efforts of the Boston Globe reporters to unearth and report on the abuse scandal.
In their answer, the filmmakers’ lawyers “respectfully, but vigorously, disagree with your allegation that the film defames Mr. Dunn.” Here’s a key excerpt:
Most importantly, the film’s portrayal of Mr. Dunn is substantially true. It is based on the recollections of Walter Robinson and was vetted by him and Sacha Pfeiffer. Mr. Dunn’s overarching concern for Boston College High School (and Boston College) is reflected in contemporaneous and later media accounts. Indeed, there is no evidence that Mr. Dunn was an outspoken advocate for transparency or accountability before the Boston Globe broke the story, or that he came forward on his own to initiate an investigation into abuse at BC High before the Globe’s coverage forced the school to act.
I am posting these rather lengthy documents in the interest of putting them before the public in advance of what could be a significant legal battle.
Click here (pdf) for the full letter (with exhibits) from Dunn’s lawyers, David H. Rich and Howard M. Cooper of the Boston firm Todd & Weld.
Click here (pdf) for the full letter (also with exhibits) from the filmmakers’ lawyer, Alonzo Wickers IV of the Los Angeles firm Davis Wright Tremaine. No, I do not know why parts of it have been highlighted in yellow.
A parish priest should have been removed over his 'extremely alarming' behaviour but then Melbourne archbishop Frank Little did nothing, an inquiry has heard.
Former Catholic Education director Monsignor Thomas Doyle agreed Archbishop Little did nothing about parishioners' complaints about Doveton parish priest Peter Searson.
'In my opinion he should have be removed from the parish,' he said.
Monsignor Doyle said he expressed that view 'constantly to the archbishop'.
But royal commission chair Justice Peter McClellan asked Monsignor Doyle why he did not do more himself about Searson's 'extremely alarming' behaviour.
'I would have thought it was no use to go to the regional bishop. If I couldn't convince the archbishop I don't think the regional bishop could have either.'
Sydney Morning Herald
November 26, 2015
Former Melbourne Archbishop Frank Little "shut his eyes" to child sex abuse allegations against a priest, the royal commission has heard.
Appearing before the commission on Thursday, former head of the Catholic Education Office Monsignor Thomas Doyle accepted that the handling of allegations against clergy rested entirely on the judgment of the archbishop.
When asked by counsel assisting the commission, Stephen Fee, why the Archbishop failed to investigate complaints against Doveton parish priest Peter Searson, Monsignor Doyle said he believed his superior had an "exaggerated respect" for the priesthood.
"I think he was in some sort of denial that these things were happening," he said.
"So he was shutting his eyes to it?" Mr Free asked.
A Melbourne archbishop was blinded by loyalty to the priesthood when he ignored years of complaints from parishioners about a gun-toting paedophile priest, an inquiry has heard.
Hundreds of complaints about Doveton parish priest Peter Searson went nowhere because then Melbourne archbishop Frank Little did not want to believe it.
Monsignor Thomas Doyle told the sex abuse royal commission that Archbishop Little was blinded to reality by his great respect for the priesthood and loyalty to priests.
'I think he had an exaggerated respect for the priesthood, and I think he really didn't think these things were happening,' the archdiocese's former Catholic Education Office (CEO) director said.
'I don't think he believed Fr Searson was innocent, but I think he was in some sort of denial that these things were happening.'
By JAMIE BUCHAN, 26 November 2015
A Perth priest who was suspended over historic abuse allegations has said goodbye to his congregation and thanked them for their support.
Father Tom Shields was ordered to stand down earlier this summer after a serious complaint was made against him.
The Catholic Church suspended him from his duties while police were called to investigate.
Now he has been allowed to return to work, but has been told not to go back to his old parish.
ST. JOHN'S, Nov. 25, 2015 /CNW/ - On November, 25, 2015, Justice Robert Stack of the Supreme Court of Newfoundland and Labrador held that Canada has committed an abuse of process against the Plaintiffs and the Province in the ongoing Indian Residential School trial.
In his reasons, Justice Stack found that Canada's attempt to re-litigate a decision made 2 years ago in the very same proceedings constituted "a collateral attack" on the court's previous decision.
Justice Stack also found that "It is unconscionable that a party would raise an important legal issue mid-trial that has already been decided against it – with its concurrence – earlier in the same proceeding".
The Court also took the uncharacteristic step of ordering Canada to pay the legal costs of the Plaintiffs and the Province. Costs are only awarded in class proceedings in Newfoundland and Labrador in cases of egregious conduct.
Kirk Baert, lead counsel for the Plaintiffs, has stated "Canada's primary tactic over the 8 years that this case has been litigated has been to delay its timely resolution. Class members are elderly and have died in the interim without any access to justice. The finding that Canada has abused this court's process is long overdue."
A judge in St. John's has ruled that the federal government has abused the process in the Newfoundland Indian Residential School Trial.
Judge Robert Stack, of the Supreme Court of Newfoundland and Labrador, awarded costs to the province of Newfoundland and Labrador and the more than 1,000 people in the class action who claim they were abused at residential schools in the province.
The class action involves former students from aboriginal communities who attended residential schools in Labrador and northern Newfoundland, including in periods before Newfoundland entered into Confederation with Canada in 1949.
The federal government has maintained that the schools at the centre of the class action were not created under the Indian Act and therefore were not true residential schools.
Stack on Wednesday found that the federal government's attempt to re-litigate a decision made two years ago in the long-running court battle constituted a "collateral attack" on the prior decision — a ruling that pleased one of the lawyers representing former residents.
The Irish Catholic
Reporters Without Borders (RSF) has announced its support for Italian journalists Gianluigi Nuzzi and Emiliano Fittipaldi, who have been indicted by the Vatican, along with three others, for the crime of disseminating secret documents.
“By writing Avarizia [Avarice] and Via Crucis [published in English as Merchants in the Temple] Italian journalists Gianluigi Nuzzi and Emiliano Fittipaldi just exercised their right to provide information in the public interest and should not be treated as criminals in a country that supposedly respects media freedom,” according to Alexandra Geneste, head of RSF’s EU-Balkans bureau.
Mr Nuzzi cited his free speech rights to justify his refusal to be questioned by Vatican investigators after his book Merchants in the Temple contained material that had apparently been leaked in contravention on Law XI of the Vatican City State, which rules that disseminating illegally obtained documents is a crime punishable with prison sentences and heavy fines.
BOSTON (CBS) – The makers of the movie “Spotlight” are refusing to cut a scene a Boston man claims ruined his reputation.
Jack Dunn, the longtime spokesman for Boston College, says the scene suggests he tried to interfere with the Boston Globe investigation into the cover-up of abusive priests.
“Hollywood needed a villain, and in this particular scene they assigned that to me,” Dunn said in an interview with WBZ-TV’s Paula Ebben earlier this week.
Dunn’s lawyer is threatening to sue the moviemakers if they do not delete the scene.
They have responded with a 38 page letter, saying “Mr. Dunn’s interpretation of the film’s portrayal of him is incorrect. The film does not imply that he conspired with the Catholic Church to cover up any abuse… Courts have recognized that producers may compress events as they see fit as long as the depiction of the events themselves is substantially true… We respectfully decline to alter the film.”
Jack Encarnacao Thursday, November 26, 2015
Two Boston Globe reporters depicted in the new Hollywood flick “Spotlight” broke their silence last night, saying the movie accurately portrays a Boston College spokesman’s stance during the paper’s investigation of the archdiocese clergy sex abuse scandal.
That spokesman, Jack Dunn, is demanding a scene be removed of his character trying to minimize the church abuse story.
In a joint statement, the Globe’s Walter Robinson and Sacha Pfeiffer said the scene captures Dunn’s “spirited public relations defense of BC High during our first sit-down interview at the school in early 2002.”
“Both of us were there for the interview, and we consider the scene faithful to what happened,” the statement reads. “The scene depicts a fairly common exchange involving reporters who have unpleasant questions to ask and a skilled public relations person doing his best to frame a story in the most favorable way possible for the institution he is representing. That’s what Jack did that day.”
A lawyer for “Spotlight,” Alonzo Wickers IV, wrote that the scene in question was derived from an interview screenwriter Josh Singer conducted with Robinson, in which Robinson
recalled Dunn saying he couldn’t imagine past BC High administrators would know about sexual offenses made by the Rev. James Talbot.
The Catholic Church's failure to deal with Melbourne paedophile priests is shameful, Cardinal George Pell has said in a statement from the Vatican.
Cardinal Pell, now the Vatican's financial chief, said church leaders had failed to address the conduct of abusers such as Father Peter Searson but had again defended his handling of abuse complaints.
Father Searson, who died in 2009, was never convicted of a sex offence.
One of his victims, Julie Stewart, criticised Cardinal Pell for telling a Victorian inquiry there may have been victims of Father Searson, after years earlier apologising to her for the abuse.
When questioned in 2013 by Victorian MP Frank McGuire, Cardinal Pell defended his actions in relation to Father Searson.
"No conviction was recorded for Searson on sexual misbehaviour. There might be victims," the official transcript said.
Given the high degree of scrutiny applied to Pell by the commission and the media, Father Frank Brennan argues that it’s only fair his lawyers cross examine the two victims and that the hearing be public so we can all make our assessments of recollection and credibility.
THE ROYAL Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse is about to recommence its case study on the Catholic Church in Ballarat. Last week, the Melbourne Herald Sun reported:
‘Victims of child sexual abuse look set to be grilled by lawyers for Cardinal George Pell in a bid to quash explosive allegations he was complicit in a widespread cover-up.’
Cardinal Pell will have legal representation separate from the legal team appearing for the Church. He will return from Rome and give evidence at the public hearing next month.
I am one of those Catholic priests who thinks that the church’s Truth Justice and Healing Council has done a good job insisting that the needs of victims be paramount. From the start, the council’s lawyers told the Royal Commission that they would not be cross-examining witnesses, testing their credibility, and doubting their evidence of sexual abuse by church personnel.
Wanting to assist with healing for victims and wanting to learn all available lessons about how to avoid future abuse and cover-ups, the Church has been prepared to place second issues of institutional and personal reputation of church officials. The wellbeing of victims has been put first during the church’s conduct of the commission.
Chay F. Hofileña
[EXCLUSIVE] In the Philippines, very rough and possibly outdated estimates say about 3% of the country’s priests may have committed sexual misconduct
(READ: Part 1: Ex-Jesuit accused of sexual abuse)
MANILA, Philippines – Days after the Chinese New Year of 2015, Lucas (not his real name) received a supposed email from the man he accused of sexually abusing him when he was a minor. It had been decades since their last communication.
Dated February 22, 2015, the email was shared with the Jesuits investigating the case. Parts of it were also shown to us.
“It is with great sadness, sorrow and grief, above all, of humility that I write this letter in response to your email. I know this letter will never undo the hurt and pain that you have gone through all these years but after having gathered enough courage myself, I will try in my own fumbling way,” it began.
The writer, who by then had left the Jesuits to become a diocesan priest, continued, “I am old now and I also want to be at peace first with you, with God and myself.” He left the Society of Jesus in 1998 for reasons undisclosed after his ordination 10 years before.
By Parthena Stavropoulos
A former director of Catholic Education at the Archdiocese of Melbourne has been questioned over why he did not take action against a parish priest who pointed a gun at students.
The Royal Commission into Institutional Response to Child Sexual Abuse heard more evidence about Father Peter Searson, when he was parish priest at a Doveton school in the 1980's.
On Tuesday, a former principal of Holy Family Primary School told the hearing Father Searson once terrified year 12 students when he pointed a gun at them.
The students, from the local secondary school, were working as cleaners at the Doveton school.
Monsignor Thomas Doyle, the former director of Catholic Education at the Archdiocese of Melbourne, admitted to being alarmed about the accusations, but did little about them.
Sydney Morning Herald
November 26, 2015
A former Melbourne archbishop failed to act on complaints about a predator priest who carried a gun to school and made students kneel between his legs during confession, the child sex abuse inquiry has heard.
Monsignor Thomas Doyle, former head of the Catholic Education Office, testified on Thursday that Archbishop Frank Little did nothing about complaints concerning Doveton Parish priest Peter Searson, despite receiving written warnings about his increasingly erratic behaviour.
"It was difficult, required I think, action by the archbishop, and the archbishop didn't act," Monsignor Doyle said. "In my opinion he [Searson] should have been removed from the parish."
Monsignor Doyle said the issues at Doveton were "one of the worst of its kind" dealt with by his office, but, despite concerns being raised about the risk Searson posed to children, the archbishop and vicar-general chose to leave him at Doveton.
Wednesday 25 November 2015
A number of extraordinary letters from then Melbourne archbishop Frank Little, in response to serious allegations about behaviour towards children by parish priest Peter Searson, have been revealed by the royal commission into institutional responses to child sexual abuse.
Little received a letter from a parent in 1982 concerning children who were scared of Searson, then priest of Our Lady of Carmel parish and school in Sunbury, Victoria, the royal commission heard on Thursday.
“Parents have no trust in his decisions,” the parent said in the letter, adding that he had instructed his own children not to go to Searson’s office unless accompanied. The commission heard Searson was renowned for his bizarre behaviour, which included placing children on his lap during confession, and teasing, touching and belittling them.
But Little responded that it was “difficult for every priest to fulfil the expectations of every parishioner entrusted to his pastoral care”.
In response to another letter from parish staff that said Searson had brought a handgun to school and threatened children with it, Little responded that he was not the correct person to alert.
November 25, 2015
Australian Associated Press
Wednesday 25 November 2015
Cardinal George Pell says the Catholic church’s failure to deal with Melbourne’s paedophile priests was shameful.
Pell, now the Vatican’s financial chief, said church leaders had failed to address the conduct of abusers such as Father Peter Searson, but he has again defended his own handling of abuse complaints.
One of Searson’s victims, Julie Stewart, criticised Pell on the ABC’s 7.30 program on Wednesday for telling a Victorian inquiry there “might be” victims of the priest – who was never convicted of a sex offence, despite being charged with unlawful assault of an altar boy in 1997 and pleading guilty.
Years earlier, Pell had apologised to her for the abuse.
Pell was moved by Stewart’s courage and openness in giving evidence to the child abuse royal commission, a statement from the Vatican said.
St. John's Abbey
The law firm of Jeff Anderson & Associates, in cooperation of Saint John's Abbey, is releasing portions of the personnel files of monks against whom there have been credible allegations of misconduct involving minors. We expect the first batch of files to be published on Jeff Anderson & Associates' website on Tuesday, November 24, 2015.
The Abbey provided Anderson's office with complete personnel files. Anderson's office has reviewed the files and made decisions on what information to publish. The materials to be published include the monks' work histories, the accusations made against them and personal correspondence.
The files provided include those of monks currently living on the Saint John's campus under safety plans. Their actions are limited and they are closely supervised. Files also include nine monks who are deceased and two men who have left Saint John's and the Benedictine order. The allegations against these men involve incidents that occurred more than two decades ago; some of the incidents are 30 or 40 years old.
There are documents in each file which may be quoted and framed in a lurid context. But the huge majority of the documents in each of these files acknowledges the very real failures of some monks while showing each of the accused monks as a fallible, relatable person. The files also show that the Abbey did not try to cover up allegations and did a reasonable job of managing the monk and the problem. St. John's Abbey has been and is proactive in dealing with problems of child sexual abuse, and the Abbey is voluntarily sharing these documents (with the permission of the accused monks) out of a sincere desire to achieve transparency and in furtherance of healing for victims.
Saint John's Abbey began publicly disclosing the names of those against whom there were credible allegations of misconduct against minors in 2002 and voluntarily released additional names periodically as new claims were presented and evaluated.
Anderson's law firm has files of all monks against whom there have been credible allegations of misconduct involving minors and it is likely that some or all will be released in the coming weeks or months as Minnesota approaches the May 2016 expiration of legislation that suspended the statute of limitations for such cases.
"The Abbey has striven to be both transparent and thorough in confronting credible allegations. The Abbey has accepted full responsibility for abuses that have been committed and has made sincere and heartfelt apologies directly to victims and their families as well as through the media and in other public forums," said Abbot John Klassen, OSB. "We are hopeful that, with this disclosure, we can help survivors find peace and resolution."
St. John's Abbey
Questions and Answers regarding release of files by Attorney Jeff Anderson, November 25, 2015
Q: Why are the files of these monks being released now?
A: The Abbey voluntarily gave the files to the law firm of Jeff Anderson and Associates some time ago. Anderson and Associates are releasing these materials now in batches—this is the first. The materials to be published include the monks’ work histories, the accusations made against them and personal correspondence. The monks whose files are being released all have been publicly identified by Saint John’s Abbey years ago.
Q: Does the release of files reflect new allegations against the monks?
A: No. The allegations involve incidents that occurred 20-50 years ago. Minnesota media have reported that Anderson is releasing the files now to encourage those who feel they may have claims against the monks to come forward before the May 2016 expiration of the Minnesota Child Victims Act, the legislation that suspended the statute of limitations for such cases.
Q: Mr. Anderson alleged that some monks may have been involved in hundreds of incidents. If true, how did all this occur without the Abbey taking action?
A: Every instance of abuse is a tragedy. Every allegation the Abbey received involving abuse of a minor was dealt with thoughtfully, with respect for the victims and with the intention of holding abusers accountable. Mr. Anderson’s press conference statements and the follow-up media coverage make it easy for the public to infer that there were hundreds of cases involving minors, that some cases of abuse are recent and that the Abbey willfully overlooked these actions. None of that is true. Here are the facts:
First, the Abbey received a single allegation of abuse of a minor involving Father Finian McDonald. The allegation received prompt attention and was a major factor for the increasing restrictions placed on Father McDonald. Beyond that, though, it is clear that Father McDonald had a secret life involving illicit behavior during his travels. This secret life only came to light because of the Abbey’s pursuit of the truth and its determination to get Father McDonald into further treatment. The Abbey was not covering up for Father McDonald, it was responsible for revealing to Mr. Anderson and others the extent of his actions.
Second, Mr. Anderson implies that every student who accompanied Father Richard Eckroth to his lake cabin was the victim of abuse. Again, that claim is not supported by the facts, including the accounts of the vast majority of those who were at the cabin with Father Eckroth. Every case of abuse is a tragedy and this is not to minimize what those who claimed to have been victimized experienced. But it also is unfair to stigmatize everyone who was with Father Eckroth as Mr. Anderson’s implications do.
Third, Mr. Anderson in his press conference seemed to intentionally use recent dates and extreme numbers of incidents to suggest that abuse of minors is current, that the Abbey was negligent in its efforts to uncover the facts and that vulnerable people, including children, remained vulnerable to those against whom there were credible allegations of abuse. None of that is true. As the news media reported, Mr. Anderson’s goal in his press conference was to encourage people who want to file a claim to come forward before the May 2016 expiration of the extended statute of limitations. There is no question that some monks' actions were inexcusable, but some of Mr. Anderson's claims simply don't stand up to scrutiny.
Q: Mr. Anderson said the Abbey paid "hush" money in return for some monks’ agreement to leave the Abbey. Is this true?
A: This claim is outrageous. Because monks do not receive a salary or accrue benefits while they are members of the Abbey, monks who leave the order for any reason are provided some funds in lieu of any retirement benefits, financial support, health care benefits and other compensation.
Q. Why weren’t these monks criminally prosecuted at the time they allegedly committed the violations?
A: Monks who are accused of illegal behavior are subject to criminal investigation and prosecution under state and federal laws, exactly the same as everyone else is. Monks do not get any special protection or immunity from criminal charges or jail sentences.
When the Abbey receives a report of any suspected abuse of a child, we report it to law enforcement authorities as required by law. Law enforcement makes the decision as to what to investigate and the State decides what to prosecute.
None of the accused monks have ever been found guilty of criminal sexual abuse.
Criminal charges were brought against one of the former monks whose file is being released today, Francis Hoefgen. He was investigated by law enforcement in Dakota County related to an allegation of sexual abuse. Hoefgen denied the allegation and during a full criminal trial last spring, the jury found him “not guilty” on all charges.
Q: Do the files show any cover-up by the Abbey?
A: No. The files reflect the Abbey’s on-going efforts to deal directly with the issues and the monks involved and that the Abbey did not try to cover up allegations. Saint John’s Abbey has been and is proactive in dealing with problems of child sexual abuse, and the Abbey is voluntarily sharing these documents (with the permission of the accused monks) out of a sincere desire to achieve transparency and in furtherance of healing for victims.
Q: Will other files be released?
A: Yes. This is just the first batch. Anderson's law firm has files of all monks against whom there have been credible allegations of misconduct involving minors and it is likely that some or all will be released in the coming weeks or months prior to the expiration of the Child Victims Act. While the Anderson law firm controls the timing of the release, the Abbey has urged that all information on the monks be released simultaneously.
The Guardian (UK)
Amanda Holpuch in New York
Wednesday 25 November 2015
Sex abuse allegations against priests at St John’s Abbey in Minnesota were revealed in stark detail on Tuesday with the release of confidential documents concerning five priests accused of child sex abuse.
Among the psychological evaluations and personal correspondence are documents showing that the Rev Finian McDonald told a therapist that he had sexual encounters with about 200 adults and minors as a priest. Another evaluation shows that the Rev Richard Eckroth admitted to bringing children to a cabin, where he would give massages to naked boys, but denied claims of sex abuse. And the Rev Tom Gillespie’s personnel file shows that he had restricted access to minors after abusing a child in 1978.
The documents were published as victims and their attorneys prepare for the expiration of a state law that temporarily eliminated the statute of limitations for child sex abuse.
“We still need to get our voices out to people who have not come forward,” said Troy Bramlage, who was abused as a teenager.
The files were released as part of a settlement between St John’s Abbey and Bramlage.
It is the first time St John’s Abbey has released confidential documents, which include personal correspondence, personnel files and psychological evaluations by the Catholic mental health center, Saint Luke Institute.
By Lindsey Bever November 25
The pastor and six parishioners at a secretive upstate New York church have been charged with murder after a teenager was beaten to death during what congregants called a “counseling session.”
A grand jury indicted the seven church members Tuesday, charging them with second-degree murder in the death of Lucas Leonard, 19. The members — including an eighth — were also charged with manslaughter, kidnapping and assault.
Lucas Leonard and his brother, Christopher, 17, were punched, kicked and whipped with a four-foot electrical cord during the hours-long beating that began Oct. 11 after a Sunday night service at Word of Life Christian Church near New Hartford, N.Y., Christopher Leonard said last month in court. Lucas Leonard was pronounced dead at a nearby hospital. Christopher Leonard was hospitalized with serious injuries.
“It hurt — everywhere,” Christopher Leonard testified in court last month, according to the Associated Press.
by Graham Vyse
The new movie Spotlight is generating Oscar buzz for its depiction of the Boston Globe’s Pulitzer Prize-winning investigation into sexual abuse in the Catholic Church. In the nation’s capital, the film is also encouraging advocates for abuse victims who want religious institutions — and the D.C. government — to do more for their cause.
“It’s very motivating to myself and other leaders,” said Becky Ianni, the D.C. and Virginia director for the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP). Ianni told InsideSources she’s seen an increase in phone calls from victims since Spotlight has been promoted and released in the past few months.
“Some people have actually mentioned the film,” she said.
Ianni came forward in 2006 with her own story of molestation by a pastor in Alexandria, Va. Since then, she and SNAP have been pushing for church dioceses to publish the names of all their current and former priests accused of abuse credibly. “That should be right on their website,” Ianni said.
The Catholic Archdiocese of Washington declined to address Ianni’s request following an inquiry from InsideSources. The archdiocese also offered no comment on another of SNAP’s priorities, D.C. Council legislation eliminating the statute of limitations for child sexual abuse cases. In a statement, the archdiocese did stress that the church prays for all those affected by abuse and “takes seriously its responsibility to the children entrusted to its care.”
John Croman, KARE-TV, Minneapolis-St. Paul
ST. PAUL, Minn. -- Father Finian McDonald, who for years worked as a counselor at St. John's University, had sex with at least 200 people and paid child prostitutes for sex while abroad, according to documents released on Tuesday.
Attorney Jeff Anderson released the personnel files of five monks and priests who were part of St. John's Abbey in Collegeville.
The five, including two who are now deceased, were previously listed by St. John's Abbey as credibly accused of child sexual abuse. Anderson said the redacted version of the posted on his website, show that priests who admitted battles with sexual urges still had access to potential victims.
"What the files show us is a culture of permissive access by known offenders," said Anderson, who for decades has represented child sex abuse victims in lawsuits against the Catholic Church and other institutions.
The trial of a priest for alleged indecent assault at Rockwell College near Cashel in Co Tipperary in the 1980s has heard more evidence from his alleged victim.
Fr Henry Moloney,77, who lives in Dublin, worked as a music teacher in the Co Tipperary secondary school at the time of the alleged assaults.
He has pleaded not guilty to eight counts of indecent assault against a student over 30 years ago.
Fr Moloney denies the eight charges which relate to allegations of indecent assault in the early 1980s.
Arizona Daily Star
By Richard Gilman SPECIAL TO THE ARIZONA DAILY STAR
Editor’s note: The Star asked Gilman, a Tucsonan who was publisher of the Boston Globe during the period portrayed in the movie “Spotlight,” to offer his opinion on how closely the film sticks to the facts.
Newspaper reporters, at least those of the old school, do their best to stay out of the spotlight. The story isn’t about them.
But there they are up on the big screen, journalists I know and deeply respect being played by movie stars in a full-length feature film getting rave reviews. Goodbye photophobia. Hello, Hollywood!
“Spotlight” is the four-person investigative team of the Boston Globe, circa 2001, which won the Pulitzer Prize for Public Service for uncovering the Catholic Church pedophile priest scandal. We all now know Boston was not alone. Similar patterns have since been revealed in city after city around the world.
I was in charge of the Globe in those days. As such, I took considerable pride in our reporting then and have a particular interest in the movie today. “Spotlight” opens in Tucson tomorrow.
The movie is several stories at once:
* The devastating impact on the victims of the abuse.
* A cautionary tale of the conspiracy of silence that existed even among the authorities.
* A monumental ode to newspapers doing their job. And a not-so-subtle warning of what will be lost if newspapers go away.
* A textbook study in investigative reporting. In dramatic form, this is what it takes – in time, talent and methodology – to pursue a big story the subjects don’t want told.
More than 120 United Synagogue rabbis have been trained to recognise and deal with cases of child sex abuse as Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis warned that the Jewish community was “not immune”.
The full day of training featured Mirvis’s wife, Valerie, a child protection expert, and heard from some of the Jewish community’s most senior religious leaders, including Rabbi Dweck, who heads the Spanish & Portuguese Sephardi community, and Dayan Gelley, from the London Beth Din.
Specialists from the Metropolitan Police and Barnet Children’s Service advised on detection and safeguarding, while a team of psychotherapists led workshops in the afternoon.
“We are determined to attach the greatest possible seriousness to both historic and current child sexual abuse,” said Chief Rabbi Mirvis. “Tragically, our community is not immune to this evil.”
This week’s training was originally envisaged in May, after a Manchester court found a Charedi teacher guilty of seven counts of sexual abuse against girls aged 14 and 15.
WHISTLEBLOWER DOUG LAY, the student body’s 2015 Teacher at St. Louis Christian College, has written a self-published book on his experiences with the school and with First Christian Church of Florissant. Lay was given a choice – remain silent or be suspended and then dismissed – after raising questions about the way the church’s senior pastor, Steve Wingfield, handled allegations of sexual abuse against now-imprisoned ex-youth minister Brandon Milburn. It is for sale on Amazon.com. Meanwhile, Wingfield is on a sabbatical and church attendance has reportedly slipped to less than 400 from 1,200.
The Raw Story
25 NOV 2015
Personnel records made public on Tuesday revealed that Catholic priests at St. John’s Abbey in Collegeville, Minnesota engaged in a sustained and coordinated campaign of child rape, which they took pains to keep secret from the public for decades.
According to the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, a court case brought by one of the priests’ former victims has resulted in a judge’s order for the monastery to release records on all priests and monks credibly accused of child abuse.
The documents released regarding five abusive priests on Tuesday mark the first time the monastery has opened its records to the public after being embroiled in abuse lawsuits for more than 20 years. The files include psychiatric assessments of the five men, records of abuse allegations and the abbey’s responses dating back from the 1960s to the last few years, including records of one priest who molested more than 200 victims, all boys, from the sons of parishioners to child prostitutes as young as 13 in Thailand.
Rev. Finian McDonald confessed in a 2012 psychiatric session that he molested more than 200 boys, 18 of whom were children under his care in the dormitories of St. John’s Preparatory School, the private boys’ school run by the monks. McDonald admitted that he drank heavily and freely preyed on students during his years as a dormitory prefect.
By DAN KENNEDY
Consider the contradictions posed by a movie that’s based on a true story. The events are presented as real, yet they are compressed and exaggerated for dramatic effect. The characters — many of them, anyway — are stand-ins for their real-life counterparts, sharing their names and, depending on the skill of the actors, their appearance and mannerisms. Yet the words that come out of their mouths are not things they actually said; rather, they are things the filmmakers imagine they might have said.
Or, as at least four people in the film Spotlight claim, things that they never said, never would have said, and that tarnish their reputations.
Update: Open Road, the distributor of Spotlight, has issued a statement defending the accuracy of the portrayal of Boston College spokesman Jack Dunn. See details at the end of this post.
In fact, there is nothing new or unusual about such complaints. They are inherent to the genre of “true life” stories, quotation marks used advisedly. Spotlight is a terrific movie — maybe the best film about journalism since All the President’s Men. That doesn’t excuse smearing the names of good people, if that is indeed what has happened. But it does underline the problems that can arise in the making of fact-based fiction rooted in real events and real people.
The most aggrieved of the Spotlight four is Jack Dunn, the spokesman for Boston College and a trustee at Boston College High School. Dunn’s character is seen as minimizing the pedophile-priest scandal in a meeting attended by Boston Globe reporters Walter Robinson and Sacha Pfeiffer. It was, Dunn said in a column by the Globe’s Kevin Cullen and in an interview on WGBH’s Greater Boston, the opposite of the approach he took.
The Worthy Adversary
Posted by Joelle Casteix on November 25, 2015
A controversial priest accused of covering up abuse in the Diocese of San Diego is in charge of taking victims calls and emails.
Msgr. Steven Callahan shot to the spotlight in 2014 after he became the temporary diocesan administrator after the death of Cirilo Flores.
Victims, supporters and Catholics were rightfully upset:
In 2007, Callahan testified that he destroyed evidence of child sex abuse and cover-up.
But now, if you are a victim of abuse, a witness, or a whistleblower, he is the guy you call or email to report what you know.
Why would anyone—especially a victim of abuse—believe that he would do the right thing?
The Worthy Adversary
Posted by Joelle Casteix on November 25, 2015
Everything the bishops have been led you to believe about the independent power of lay review boards is deliberately misleading.
Citing a sex-offening priest’s “right to privacy,” a newly released Vatican document shows that priests are able to shield potentially damning evidence from review boards who are charged with determining whether abuse allegations against a priest have merit.
The 2006 document, sent from a Vatican office that oversees religious orders, says that canon law states that no priest’s files may be turned over to a third party, including internal and external review boards, without the priest’s permission and signature.
You can read the documents here. Start at page 94 (stamped on the actual page as 00526).
The findings of the Vatican office—saying that McDonald’s privacy was violated and that review boards may not access a personnel file without the priest’s signature is on page 100 (stamped 00532)
The review boards were set up by bishops nationally as a part of sweeping 2002 reforms instituted as a result of the Boston Archdiocese sex abuse scandal. They are a part of the “Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People.”
While religious orders like the Benedictine’s were not a part of the agreement, the Canon Law cited in the Vatican’s response applies to all priests, whether they belong to a diocese or a religious order.
Nov. 24, 2015
By Lew Finfer, Special to the Reporter
The very first scene in “Spotlight,” the new movie detailing how The Boston Globe exposed the pedophile priest scandal, is set at the Area C-11 police station in Dorchester. It’s the mid-1970s. In one room, a priest sits alone; in a second room, another priest assures a woman that the cleric who had just sexually assaulted her children would be reassigned and kept away from other potential victims.
But just the opposite occurred. As the Globe would report in 2002, the Boston Catholic archdiocese took such predator priests and reassigned them to other parishes over and over again, placing more young children in their paths. And Cardinal Law knew this and participated in this cover-up.
There’s also a scene at Boston College High School in Dorchester about a meeting of Globe reporters with officials there about an accused priest who served there.
The Globe has a website listing the 271 accused priests. It also tells what parishes they served in. This sent a shudder through the laity as they realized that so, so many parishes at one time or another had one or more of these priest abusers at their own parish. The list includes the names of 22 priests who served in Dorchester parishes.
I have met four of the priests who turned out to be abusers. I still feel haunted remembering the unkindly piercing eyes of Fr. Paul Mahan whom I worked with at St. Matthew’s Church when they participated in one of our community improvement organizations. I later learned he was one of the abusers. Another abuser, Fr. Paul Shanley, actually had an acclaimed ministry to homeless youth. Clearly, he constantly found hopeless youth whom he could abuse while in that so-called ministry. I will always remember the anguish of one priest who told me that he had to live with knowing he’d referred troubled youth to Fr. Shanley because he was thought to be effective with youth.
By Josh Singer on November 17, 2015
“That first draft must have been 300 pages.”
If I had a nickel for every time someone’s said this to Spotlight director—and my co-writer—Tom McCarthy or me in the last couple of weeks, I’d have a lot of nickels. We’re constantly asked how we managed to squeeze so much information—about the Boston Globe’s 2001-2002 investigation into sex abuse within the Massachusetts Catholic Church—into two hours on the screen.
Well, for the record, our very first draft was 131 pages. And our final shooting script tallies 132 pages, give or take. How did Tom and I boil down “all that information” into a reasonably sized script?
Condensing true-life stories into screenplays is hard. I’ve spent the past dozen years trying to figure out how to do it and I’ve still got lots to learn. Part of the secret to making talky, information-heavy movies cinematic is making sure the talk you do have is as clear and concise as possible. I’ll get specific on that in a second. First I have to talk about shtumi.
My first writing job was working for John Wells on The West Wing. At the end of the fourth season is an intense cliffhanger in which the Speaker of the House has taken over the presidency. I was fresh out of law school, so Wells asked me to research the 25th amendment, which deals with the line of succession to the presidency.
Vatican city, (IANS/AKI) Pope Francis named banker Gian Franco Mammi the new director of the Vatican Bank, which is currently at the centre of a leaks scandal over which five people have gone on trial.
Pope Francis on Tuesday held a 20-minute meeting with Mammi and members of the governing council of the Vatican Bank (IOR), which is trying to clean up its murky image and get onto the international white list against money laundering.
IOR and the Vatican's financial machinery have come under fresh scrutiny after two ex-members of a commission set up by the Pope in 2013 to study economic and administrative reforms allegedly stole confidential documents and leaked these to two Italian journalists.
The journalists and the two former commission members -- a Vatican prelate and a laywoman -- as well as the prelate's aide went on trial on Tuesday over the leaked stolen documents.
Vatican Information Service
Vatican City, 25 November 2015 (VIS) – The Holy Father has:
- accepted the resignation from the pastoral care of the diocese of Nazare, Brazil, presented by Bishop Severino Vatista de Franca, O.F.M. Cap., in accordance with canon 401 para. 2 of the Code of Canon Law.
- accepted the resignation from the pastoral care of the diocese of Campanha, Brazil, presented by Bishop Diamantino Prata de Carvalho, O.F.M., upon reaching the age limit. He is succeeded by Bishop Pedro Cunha Cruz, coadjutor of the same diocese.
- appointed Bishop Edmar Paron, auxiliary of the archdiocese of Sao Paulo, Brazil, as bishop of Paranagua (area 11,537, population 507,000, Catholics 391,000, priests 29, deacons 1, religious 42), Brazil.
- appointed Msgr. Roberto Filippini as bishop of Pescia (area 224, population 121,637, Catholics 112,920, priests 67, deacons 8, religious 80), Italy. The bishop-elect was born in 1948 in Vinci, Italy, and was ordained a priest in 1973. He holds a licentiate in scripture, and has served as parish priest, diocesan vicar, head of the inter-diocesan school of theology in Camaiore, Lucca, and rector of the “Santa Caterina” archiepiscopal seminary in Pisa. He is currently spiritual father of the same “Santa Caterina” seminary and chaplain of the prison of Pisa.
La Spia Press
di Francesca Lagatta
Per ora gli abitanti di Augusta dovranno arrendersi: Non era vittima ad inventarsi che il prete avesse abusato di lei, era proprio il prete invece che mentiva dichiarando di non averle mai messo un dito addosso. A stabilirlo sono stati i giudici di primo grado del Tribunale di Siracusa, che lo hanno condannato a 5 anni e 3 mesi per abusi sessuali.
I fatti risalgono al 2013, quando Gaetano Incardona era ancora arciprete della basilica cittadina. La vittima, allora 21enne, si era recata in chiesa per una confessione, ma ne uscì in lacrime e con il sudiciume morale e fisico dell'uomo sulla pelle.
[Apologies from the Flemish bishops to victims of forced adoptions.]
BRUSSEL (KerkNet/IPID) - Naar aanleiding van de excuses die het Vlaamse parlement dinsdagmorgen aan de slachtoffers van gedwongen adoptie aanbood, stuurden de Vlaamse bisschoppen volgend persbericht uit. Het persbericht is namens de Vlaamse bisschoppen ondertekend door mgr. Johan Bonny, bisschop van Antwerpen en referent.
“Samen met het Vlaamse Parlement willen ook wij, de Vlaamse bisschoppen, namens de katholieke kerkgemeenschap, onze excuses aanbieden aan de slachtoffers van gedwongen adopties.
[Don Francesco Rutigliano, condemned by the Holy Office for abuse of a minor, is reinstated in Civitavecchia.]
Se sei un sacerdote e ami qualcuno, peggio ancora se è del tuo stesso sesso, il Vaticano ti costringe a lasciare ogni incarico. Esattamente quello che è appena successo a monsignor Krzysztof Charamsa, “reo confesso” di amare il proprio compagno. Ma se sei un prete accusato di aver abusato ripetutamente di un minore, tanto da aver scontato 4 anni di sospensione, allora hai diritto a continuare la scalata nel clero, hai diritto a rifarti la verginità della coscienza Questo, invece, è quello che è successo poche settimane addietro a Francesco Rutigliano, dopo aver scontato la sua “pena”.
Ordinato sacerdote a 32 anni, don Francesco, pugliese di nascita, approda nel Reggino come parroco nelle parrocchie di Bivongi e Pazzano, facenti capo alla diocesi Locri-Gerace. E qui, nel 2006, ovvero nel suo primo anno di sacerdozio, risulterebbero già i suoi primi approcci con un adolescente, anche se alcune testimonianze farebbero risalire degli episodi già durante il periodo del cammino spirituale che lo ha portato a diventare un uomo di Dio. Il decreto (DECRETO-su-don-Francesco-Rutigliano) con cui il Santo Uffizio lo si inibisce nella sua funzione ecclesiastica, però, si riferisce unicamente a reati commessi nel periodo fra il 2006 e il 2008 porta la data del 20 giugno 2011.
Vatican Information Service
Vatican City, 24 November 2015 (VIS) – This morning, at around 10.30, the Holy Father visited the premises of the Institute for the Works of Religion (IOR) where he spoke with the Board of Directors for approximately twenty minutes, during which he communicated the appointment of the new Director general, Dr. Gian Franco Mammi, to be assisted by Dr. Giulio Mattietti pending the selection of a new Deputy Director.
By Australian Associated Press and Nicole Low For Daily Mail Australia
The Catholic Church let a 'raving lunatic loose' with no concern for people in a poor Melbourne parish where it sent a string of pedophiles from the 1970s to 1990s, an inquiry has heard.
One pedophile parish priest left Doveton, 34km south of Melbourne, because he was having sex with a number of women, while his 'bizarre' successor told a girl he indecently assaulted in confession 'the Lord forgives you'.
Former Holy Family Primary School principal Graeme Sleeman said church authorities did not care about parishioners in Doveton, a disadvantaged, low socio-economic area.
'I believed and I am convinced now that the Melbourne archdiocese had no concern for the parishioners of Holy Family School Doveton and what priests they sent to them,' Mr Sleeman told the child abuse royal commission.
'The only way something could be drastically changed was for those parishioners to be empowered with the skills and the knowledge of how to change some serious matters that were being inflicted upon them,' Mr Sleeman said.
NOVEMBER 25TH, 2015 KATHLEEN NUTT
SURVIVORS have accused the Scottish Government of “becoming complicit in the cover-up of abuse” as a row over the remit of the inquiry into the historical child abuse intensifies.
In an angry email to Education Secretary Angela Constance, Alan Draper, parliamentary liaison officer for In Care Abuse Survivors, claimed many institutions would escape public scrutiny if the Government did not include non-residential settings such as church parishes, schools and children’s and youth organisations within the inquiry’s scope.
“When we made our submission to Government we asked that the inquiry should cover all organisations and institutions which had a duty of care for young people. Your Government, however, limited the remit primarily to residential institutions,” he wrote in his email sent on Monday night.
“This decision resulted in many victims, who had suffered grievous abuse, being excluded from the inquiry. We are of the view that this decision has enabled institutions and organisations, who have covered up criminal activity, to escape public scrutiny, and possible prosecution. The failure to extend the remit of the inquiry has effectively resulted in the Government becoming complicit in a cover-up of abuse.”
He is the shamed priest whose colourful private life propelled him into the public eye.
Now Father Roddy MacNeil has come to prominence once again – thanks to a row over a house gifted to him by Princess Diana's mother.
Father MacNeil, who was suspended from his parish after getting his cousin pregnant, is battling a £150,000 court action brought by his brother-in-law John Gray over his father's estate.
Mr Gray told a court that the 55-year-old cleric was given the house by Frances Shand Kydd in 2000.
But the house, then valued at £89,000, was put in his father Donald MacNeil's name because priests cannot own property, Mr Gray told Lochmaddy Sheriff Court on the Scottish island of North Uist,
National Catholic Reporter
Thomas Reese | Nov. 24, 2015
The Vatican appears to be responding from the wrong playbook to the leaking of confidential documents. It is acting like a state rather than a church.
True, Vatican City is a state that can enact and prosecute laws, but it is also the central office of the Catholic church. In this case, it should act like a church not a state.
The Vatican has criminally charged five people -- two journalists and three Vatican employees -- with "procuring and revealing" confidential information.
The journalists, Emiliano Fittipaldi and Gianluigi Nuzzi, have both published books on questionable Vatican spending and financial practices based on leaked confidential documents.
At the 70-minute initial hearing in a Vatican courtroom, the reporters protested that the trial violates their rights as journalists recognized in Italy, Europe, and by the United Nations.
The International Association of Journalists Accredited at the Vatican issued a statement Tuesday expressing "consternation and worry" that two journalists were being prosecuted for publishing leaked documents when "publishing news is exactly their work."
By Melinda Miller | News Staff Reporter
on November 24, 2015
The Sunday school student sexually abused by her teacher – a teacher who also was the son of her minister – was so disturbed by what was happening that she began cutting herself and considering suicide.
The young victim described how Caleb Sexton’s abuse was emotional as well as sexual.
“He never apologized or showed remorse, even when he found out I was hurting myself,” she wrote in her victim’s impact statement in a letter to Erie County Judge Kenneth E. Case. “Caleb was an adult, 13 years older … He misused God and the Bible to try to justify his sexual behavior.”
The girl, who was 13 when the abuse began and is now in high school, said she continues to have flashbacks, trouble eating, and difficulty trusting people and making new friends.
Written by Alycia Dobrinick
SCOTT CITY, MO (KFVS) -
A former pastor in Scott City, Missouri faces several felony charges for alleged sex crimes.
According to authorities with the Napoleon, Ohio Municipal Court, Robert Azinger was arrested in Henry County, Ohio on Thursday, Nov. 19 for being a fugitive from justice.
Azinger faces several charges in Scott County including one count of statutory rape in the first degree, four counts of statutory sodomy in the first degree, and five counts of statutory rape in the second degree.
He is reportedly the pastor of St. Peter Lutheran Church in Florida, Ohio.
Daily Mail (UK)
By HANNAH PARRY and LOUISE BOYLE FOR DAILYMAIL.COM
The pastor of a secretive New York 'cult' where a young man was beaten to death and his younger brother seriously injured is among seven people now charged with his murder.
Lucas Leonard was murdered by a mob of congregants - which included his own parents and half-sister - during a 'counseling session' at the Word of Life Church in New Hartford, New York
The 19-year-old was beaten for 11 hours in the sanctuary on October 11 in an attack allegedly organized by the leader, Pastor Tiffany Irwin, after he said he wanted to leave the church. His younger brother Christopher, 17, was also savagely beaten for hours but survived the assault.
Pastor Tiffanie Irwin and her mother Traci Irwin, who originally were not charged in the incident, now face charges of second-degree murder, kidnapping and gang assault.
St. Cloud Times
Sam Louwagie, email@example.com November 24, 2015
A Sartell man sexually abused a teenager who was an altar boy at a St. Cloud church, according to criminal charges.
Douglas Gerard Kleinsmith, 54, was charged Nov. 16 with two counts of felony criminal sexual conduct by a person in a position of authority.
A criminal complaint against Kleinsmith said he volunteered to train altar boys at a church, and trained the teenage boy he would abuse. The complaint says the boy met Kleinsmith at church when he was 15 years old, and that year also began working for Kleinsmith outside church hours.
Joe Towalski, spokesman for the Diocese of St. Cloud, said Kleinsmith was part of a Latin Mass group that met at St. John Cantius Church. Towalski said the group rented the church facility, and its activities were not affiliated with the St. John Cantius Parish or the Diocese of St. Cloud. He said Kleinsmith was not a parish volunteer or church employee.
Paterno Esmaquel II
MANILA, Philippines – After being confronted with a sex abuse complaint, Philippine Jesuits are revisiting the rules of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) and the Holy See to seek guidance in handling the case.
The case involves Lucas (not his real name), who once studied in a school run by the Society of Jesus or the Jesuits, the biggest male religious order in the Catholic Church. (READ: Part 1: Ex-Jesuit accused of sexual abuse)
Lucas said a Jesuit, who eventually left the Society of Jesus, abused him “a few hundred times” from 1984 to 1987, starting when he was 15.
What do the rules of the Catholic Church say about sexual abuse cases like this?
We consulted 3 documents cited by Fr Jose Quilongquilong SJ, the investigator assigned to meet with the persons involved. He sat down for an interview with Rappler on Sunday evening, November 22.
Quilongquilong showed us a landmark document by the CBCP in 2003, and two from the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.
Wed, Nov 25, 2015
Concern at the treatment of priests who find themselves the subject of allegations of sex abuse has been expressed by members of the Association of Catholic Priests
Issues such as presumption of innocence, support for priests facing allegations and the time it takes for allegations to be dealt with were all of concern to the clergy, canon lawyer Helen Costigane who lectures in Heythrop College, London, told the association’s annual conference.
When priests face allegations of sexual abuse they are “put in a limbo situation and the bishops are almost hoping they will move on or die,” one priest said.
Ms Costigane was highly critical of “the idea that priests who are accused are cut adrift and left to fend for themselves”.
She cited cases where priests have had to fund their own legal representation or were forced to rely on the charity of friends.
November 25, 2015
Court Reporter for The Age
Convicted paedophile Robin Fletcher, who has claimed his religion endorses sex between children and adults, has lost his bid to have a strict supervision order relaxed while living in a sex-offender facility.
Supreme Court Justice Phillip Priest ordered the supervision order for Fletcher, 59, who is legally blind, remain unchanged until at least June 2016.
"I am satisfied that [Fletcher] still poses an unacceptable risk of committing a relevant offence if a supervision order is not in effect," Justice Priest.
Fletcher has been living at Corella Place - which houses offenders who have finished their sentences but are deemed to have an unacceptable risk of reoffending - since his release in 2006 after serving eight years' jail for raping and prostituting two 15-year-old girls.
He has also refused to participate in sex-offender rehabilitation during his time at Corella Place.
The village-style complex, next to Ararat's Hopkins Correctional Centre in western Victoria, has no walls surrounding the facility, but residents are monitored with electronic bracelets and cannot leave without permission.
Sydney Morning Herald
November 25, 2015
A young girl who was sexually abused by a paedophile priest, after already suffering abuse at the hands of a family member, was later asked by police if she was "wearing a neon sign above your head saying 'come and get me'," the royal commission has heard.
Julie Stewart told the child abuse royal commission that she was nine years old when Doveton parish priest Peter Searson forced her to sit on his lap during confession and indecently assaulted her.
"He would say to me: 'Do you love father?' And I said 'yes'. He would ask me to kiss him on the lips. I did," she told the hearing on Wednesday.
Ms Stewart, now 40, said the abuse continued throughout 1984 and 1985 and that she started wearing tracksuit pants or stockings into the confessional to make it harder for the priest to abuse her.
Tuesday 24 November 2015
A detective told a teenager who was repeatedly the victim of sexual abuse she must have been wearing a “neon sign” above her head “asking for it”, and that there was not enough evidence to investigate her case.
Julie Stewart, now 40, gave evidence before the royal commission into institutional responses into child sexual abuse on Wednesday that she was sexually abused by a family member between the age of five and eight.
She was then sexually abused by the parish priest at the Holy Family church in Doveton, Victoria, Peter Searson, from when she was in year three, the commission heard.
Stewart told the commission Searson would force her to sit on his lap during confession, rather than on the other side of the confessional barrier, and would ask her to kiss him and tell him that she loved him.
St. Cloud Times
David Unze, firstname.lastname@example.org November 24, 2015
ST. PAUL — The personnel files of five St. John's Abbey monks were released Tuesday as part of the settlement of a lawsuit against the abbey and one of its monks.
The files show that one monk admitted to each having more than 200 sexual encounters and another credibly accused monk was paid $30,000 to leave the priesthood, according to the files.
Attorney Jeff Anderson held a press conference to announce the release of the files on the Rev. Finian McDonald, the Rev. Bruce Wollmering, Francis Hoefgen, the Rev. Thomas Gillespie and the Rev. Richard Eckroth.
Hoefgen was arrested in Stearns County in 1984 in connection with a report of sexual abuse against a 17-year-old boy who had been living with Hoefgen temporarily. Hoefgen was a priest at St. Boniface parish in Cold Spring at the time. He wasn't charged in the case. Hoefgen left the priesthood in 2011 and got a $30,000 check from the abbey.
[EXCLUSIVE] This marks the first time that a formal complaint about sexual abuse has been put on record with the Society of Jesus' Philippine Province
Chay F. Hofileña
MANILA, Philippines – The Society of Jesus in the Philippines is facing its first sexual abuse scandal after a former student in one of the Jesuit high schools recently surfaced and alleged he had been sexually abused by a Jesuit 30 years ago.
Now 46 years old, the alleged victim who was born and raised in Zamboanga City said he converted from Islam to Roman Catholicism upon the invitation of a Jesuit seminarian then teaching at the Ateneo de Zamboanga. A 15-year-old boy at the time, Lucas (not his real name) said he was sexually abused “a few hundred times” from 1984 to 1987.
His complaint, which reached the Office of the Provincial of the Philippine Province of the Society of Jesus on October 15, is now the subject of a “preliminary investigation” that seeks to verify the allegations.
This marks the first time that a formal complaint about sexual abuse has been put on record with the Society of Jesus' Philippine Province.
By Pat Stavropoulos and Samantha Donovan
A survivor of child sex abuse at the hands of a Catholic priest and a family member was asked by police if she was wearing a neon sign saying "come and get me" above her head when she was a teenager, an inquiry has heard.
Witness Julie Stewart broke down as she told the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse that she was repeatedly abused by Father Searson at Doveton, from when she was in grade three.
The inquiry heard that when she was 15, she was approached by police about allegations against Father Searson after they received reports she was a possible victim.
She said because she had also been sexually abused by a relative from the ages of five to eight, she found it hard to tell anyone she had also been abused by Father Searson.
She said her admission that she had been abused by two men prompted the police officer to remark "oh my God, what, were you wearing a neon sign above your head, 'come and get me?'".
The police took no further action.
November 24, 2015
VANDALS have lashed out at court and church buildings across the city over the Catholic Church’s handling of sex abuse cases.
Just a day after the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse continued its probe of the Melbourne Archdiocese vandals attacked the church’s Melbourne headquarters.
Graffiti was sprayed across the Catholic Archdiocese offices in East Melbourne, while at the County Court, where the commission is sitting, vandals also sprayed sledges aimed at key church figures.
The graffiti was covered and painted over earlier today.
Cardinal George Pell will return to Melbourne next month to answer allegations he covered up abuse cases, ignored complaints of assaults and tried to bribe a victim of stay silent about being molested. He has consistently denied the allegations.
The Royal Commission is examining the Church’s handling of abuse cases between until 1996, when Cardinal Pell took over as Melbourne Archbishop.
By Louise Milligan and Andy Burns
A victim of notorious paedophile priest Peter Searson has revealed the contents of a letter of apology to her from former archbishop George Pell about her abuse.
The letter paints a different picture to the evidence given by Cardinal Pell to a Victorian inquiry in 2013.
Julie Stewart (nee Prien) gave evidence this morning to the royal commission into child sex abuse about her treatment at the hands of Father Peter Searson at the Doveton Holy Family Parish in outer Melbourne in the 1980s.
The letter, signed by the then-archbishop Pell and written in 1998, accepts that Ms Prien was abused and says: "On behalf of the Catholic Church and personally, I apologise to you and to those around you for the wrongs and hurt you have suffered at the hands of Father Searson."
But, while being questioned in 2013 by Victorian MP Frank McGuire, Cardinal Pell defended his actions in relation to Searson.
Sydney Morning Herald
November 25, 2015
Cardinal George Pell lobbied for payments to be made to a paedophile priest days before he was charged with sex offences, documents tendered to the child abuse royal commission show.
In May 1998, the Catholic Church's independent commissioner Peter O'Callaghan, QC, informed then Bishop Denis Hart that Gladston Park priest Wilfred "Billy" Baker was likely to be charged.
Then archbishop George Pell had already put Baker on administrative leave while police investigated allegations of child abuse against him.
In a July 1998 letter the Priests Retirement Foundation told Baker that Pell had asked that he be provided for as if he were a "Pastor Emeritus". The letter confirmed payments to Baker of up to $12,000 a year had been approved for board and lodging.
Six days later Baker was charged with child sex abuse offences. He was jailed the following year for abusing eight young boys over two decades. He died in 2014 while facing new charges against him.
John Croman, KARE November 25, 2015
ST. PAUL, MINN. -- Attorney Jeff Anderson Tuesday released the personnel files of five monks and priests who were part of St. John's Abbey in Collegeville.
The five, including two who are now deceased, were previously listed by St. John's Abbey as credibly accused of child sexual abuse. Anderson said the redacted version of the documents posted on his website, show that priests who admitted battles with sexual urges still had access to potential victims.
"What the files show us is a culture of permissive access by known offenders," said Anderson, who for decades has represented child sex abuse victims in lawsuits against the Catholic Church and other institutions.
Among the documents was a 1992 psychological evaluation of Father Finian McDonald, who for years worked as a counselor at St. John's University.
According to the psychologist who authored the report, McDonald breaking his oath of celibacy with at least 200 sexual partners including as many as 15 college students.
BY MEGAN NEIL AND CHRISTOPHER TALBOT AAP NOVEMBER 25, 2015
GEORGE Pell hung up the phone when a former Catholic school principal asked him to publicly back the man's attempts to deal with a bizarre pedophile priest, an inquiry has heard.
GRAEME Sleeman says he wrote to Cardinal Pell, then the Melbourne archbishop, about a decade after he resigned as principal of Doveton's Holy Family Primary School in 1986 in frustration that nothing was done about parish priest Peter Searson.
Mr Sleeman was unable to get another job as principal of a Catholic school and said he wanted the Melbourne archdiocese to provide some support for his loyalty.
"I put my career on the line. I'd lost superannuation. I believed that I was a good educationalist and I was being deprived of carrying out my trade," Mr Sleeman told the child abuse royal commission on Wednesday.
He said Cardinal Pell rang him to ask what he wanted.
Mr Sleeman told him: "I want you to go on national TV and the national press and state that the stance I took in Doveton was morally correct and the only one I could take."
Then the archbishop ended the call.
Daily Hampshire Gazette
By DIANE BRONCACCIO
For the Gazette
Wednesday, November 25, 2015
GREENFIELD — If anyone has no need to see “Spotlight” — a movie about the Boston Globe’s 2002 investigation of child sexual abuse by Catholic priests — it’s probably John Stobierski, a Greenfield-based lawyer who has more or less lived the story.
Over the past 23 years, Stobierski has met with hundreds of families who told him disturbing stories of misplaced trust in and betrayal by clergymen. He has successfully litigated at least 80 cases, resulting in settlements of at least $10 million.
He was invited to the star-studded Boston premiere of “Spotlight” at the end of October. “I didn’t need to go that far to see a movie,” he remarked in his corner office at Stobierski & Connor law firm in Greenfield.
But last weekend, Stobierski did see the movie at Cinemark in Hadley.
“I think it’s a wonderful movie that everyone should see,” said Stobierski. “My involvement in this whole thing starts at the end of that movie — which was when that first piece (on clergy abuse) was published. But it only captures one chapter of an incredibly long story.” ...
He had only been practicing law in Greenfield for a few years when the Rev. Richard R. Lavigne of Shelburne Falls was first arrested in October 1991 on charges of molesting three boys in St. Joseph’s parish. Lavigne eventually pleaded guilty and was placed on probation for 10 years and ordered to spend six months in a treatment program for sex abusers at a Maryland hospital.
Stobierski recalled that Superior Court Judge Guy Volterra, who gave Lavigne such a light sentence, was quoted in one news story as saying, “This story doesn’t belong anywhere but on the back page of any newspaper.”
The Recorder reported June 25, 1992, that “The judge, in sentencing, lambasted media for blowing the case out of proportion. Volterra said Lavigne’s outstanding ministry to the people has been destroyed by his behavior toward the young who were entrusted to his care.”
Volterra went on to say that the media had made the trial a “cause celebre” that did not merit such widespread attention.
Wednesday 25 November 2015
A former principal of a school in Victoria has said he received and passed on “hundreds” of complaints from parents and staff about the inappropriate behaviour towards children of a parish priest, Peter Searson.
But Graeme Sleeman, then the head of the Holy Family Parish school in Doveton, told the royal commission into institutional responses into child sexual abuse on Wednesday that none of those complaints, made across two and a half years between 1984 and 1986, had been acted upon by senior parish staff, including the then archbishop Frank Little.
Complaints came in from parents daily, Sleeman told the commission in Melbourne. They ranged from concerns about Searson sexually abusing children to his bizarre way of running confession by having children sit on his lap. He passed all of them on to an educational consultant at the Catholic Education Office, Allan Dooley.
“I just couldn’t believe I could make so many complaints and see nothing happen, and be told on the other hand … I was running great programs at the school,” Sleeman told the commission.
“As soon as it came to issues with the parish priest, any credibility I seemed to have went out the window. No one wanted to listen to me. No one wanted to take any notice.”
The Tablet (UK)
25 November 2015 by Mark Brolly
Australia's national inquiry into child sexual abuse has begun a scheduled four weeks of public hearings into the Archdiocese of Melbourne and its neighbouring Victorian Diocese of Ballarat in which Cardinal George Pell is to give evidence for the third time.
Cardinal Pell, a former Archbishop of Melbourne and later of Sydney, has indicated that his counsel will cross-examine abuse survivors - a departure from the practice adopted by Australia's bishops and religious orders with the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.
The cardinal, now Prefect of the Vatican's Secretariat for the Economy, has drawn criticism from survivors and their supporters for his decision but some of his critics within the Church have defended his right to defend himself over claims made against him at previous hearings.
Ballarat-born Cardinal Pell is expected to give evidence in both case studies, relating to his time as a priest in his home diocese and later as Auxiliary Bishop to Archbishop Sir Frank Little in Melbourne from 1987 until he succeeded Archbishop Little, who died in 2008, nine years later.
November 24, 2015
The New Daily
Nov 25, 2015
A letter of apology from Cardinal George Pell appears to contrast evidence given at a 2013 inquiry.
A victim of notorious paedophile priest Peter Searson has revealed the contents of a letter of apology to her from former archbishop George Pell about her abuse.
The letter paints a different picture to the evidence given by Cardinal Pell to a Victorian inquiry in 2013.
Julie Prien (nee Stewart) gave evidence on Wednesday morning to the royal commission into child sex abuse about her treatment at the hands of Father Peter Searson at the Doveton Holy Family Parish in outer Melbourne in the 1980s.
The letter, signed by the then-archbishop Pell and written in 1998, accepts that Ms Prien was abused and says: “On behalf of the Catholic Church and personally, I apologise to you and to those around you for the wrongs and hurt you have suffered at the hands of Father Searson.”
The Worthy Adversary
Posted by Joelle Casteix on November 24, 2015
Earlier today, attorneys for sex abuse victims by priests and monks at a prestigious Benedictine high school, university, and abbey released hundreds of pages of documents that show a decades-long cover-up of the sexual abuse of children and university students.
It’s important to note that many of the credibly accused priests still live on the St. John’s Abbey campus, where the college and boarding schools are (including a priest who admitted to having abusing more than 200 sexual partners).
The boarding school enrolls children as young as the sixth grade. The Benedictine Order, who owns the campus, claims that the men are under strict safety plans and have no contact with students. I say that’s bunk. Check out the interactive map.
These men are adults and are not handcuffed to their chairs. They have had “safety plans” in the past that were totally ineffective. These predators can go where they want, when they want … even into the 9th grade dorm.
A Melbourne building has been spray painted with graffiti calling for Cardinal George Pell to be jailed over allegations he covered up cases of child abuse by priests.
The graffiti was found on the building in East Melbourne on Wednesday morning and police say they have not yet been contacted about it.
The graffiti appeared a day after the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse heard testimony that priests laughed at victims and told them they would go to hell.
November 25, 2015
A Melbourne court and a Catholic Archdiocese building have been defaced with graffiti accusing Cardinal George Pell of covering up child sexual abuse by priests.
Graffiti scrawled in black paint across the windows and pillars of the Catholic Archdiocese building in East Melbourne said: "child molester Pell" and "put Pell in jail for cover up".
"Put Pell in jail" has also been sprayed on the Victorian County Court in Melbourne's CBD.
The graffiti spotted on Wednesday morning on the East Melbourne building was quickly painted over and covered with black plastic.
The words on the court were covered but are still visible from inside.
Cardinal Pell has not been accused of sexual abuse and has denied allegations he ignored complaints or covered them up.
Cardinal George Pell arranged for a pedophile priest to be paid from a retirement fund just days before he was charged, documents show.
The then Melbourne archbishop had placed Father Wilfred Baker on administrative leave once advised of the child abuse allegations by the Melbourne Response independent commissioner Peter O'Callaghan in May 1997.
Mr O'Callaghan told then bishop Denis Hart, who later replaced Cardinal Pell as Melbourne archbishop, in May 1998 that Baker was likely to be charged with child sex offences, documents tendered to the child abuse royal commission show.
Priests Retirement Foundation secretary Rev Gerard Beasley told Baker that then archbishop Pell had asked the foundation to provide for the priest "as if you were a Pastor Emeritus".
Anti-Catholic graffiti relating to the church's handling of child sex abuse cases has been scrawled across a church building and a court in Melbourne.
Police said one of the abusive messages named the former Archbishop of Melbourne, Cardinal George Pell.
They were written on the Victorian County Court and a building belonging to the Melbourne Archdiocese.
Court workers tried to scrub off the graffiti this morning and have erected black plastic to cover what remains.
The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse is using the County Court building to hold hearings into the way the Melbourne Archdiocese responded to child sexual abuse complaints.
Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse
The Royal Commission will hold a public hearing in Melbourne from Tuesday 24 November 2015 commencing at 10:00am AEDT.
The public hearing will inquire into the response of the Catholic Archdiocese of Melbourne to allegations of child sexual abuse.
The files of five priests accused of sexually abusing children were released Tuesday.
The priests — Richard Eckroth, Thomas Gillespie, Francis Hoefgen, Finian McDonald and Bruce Wollmering — are associated with Saint John’s Abbey in Collegeville.
The files allege the priests used their positions to exploit Saint John’s University students and children in nearby areas.
The law office Jeff Anderson & Associates held a news conference in St. Paul Tuesday regarding the release of the files.
By Jean Hopfensperger Star Tribune NOVEMBER 24, 2015
The first batch of personnel files on monks accused of sex abuse at St. John’s Abbey in Collegeville were released Tuesday, in which a former counselor and dormitory prefect at St. John’s University reported having 200 sexual encounters — some with St. John students.
The Rev. Finian McDonald told a psychologist that his youngest victims were 13 or 14 year old prostitutes in Thailand, that he had 18 victims while serving as a prefect at St. John’s dormitories, and that he had acted out sexually and abused alcohol during most of his 29 years as a dormitory prefect.
That information, from a 2012 psychological assessment, is contained in abbey personnel files on McDonald and four other monks credibly accused of child sex abuse that were released in response to an abuse victim’s legal settlement earlier this year.
The abbey has identified 19 such monks to date, and their personnel files have been turned over to attorney Jeff Anderson.
“This reflects to us … that there are dozens and hundreds of survivors that are yet to be known and yet to have a voice,” said Anderson at a news conference.
ST. PAUL, Minn. (KMSP) - Brand new, once-secret files on 19 monks from St. John’s Abbey show they may have abused hundreds of children. Attorney Jeff Anderson released the files of 5 of those monks Tuesday, saying time is running out for victims to step forward.
St. John’s Abbey agreed to release these files as part of a court settlement with a victim who was known as John Doe No. 2. That victim’s real name is Troy Bramlage, and he stepped forward to encourage other victims to do the same.
“We still need to get our voices out to people who have not come forward,” Bramlage said.
Anderson released the files of 5 previously accused monks, but the documents on one of them -- Father Finian McDonald -- shows a man with a troubled past.
NOVEMBER 25, 2015
Former Archbishop of Melbourne George Pell arranged for a pedophile priest to be provided for by the Priests Retirement Foundation when it was known that the priest was likely to be charged.
Documents tendered to the child sex abuse royal commission show that in May 1998 Peter O’Callaghan QC informed then Bishop Denis Hart that Wilfred Baker was likely to be charged with sex offences.
Mr O’Callaghan had informed now Cardinal Pell of allegations regarding Baker in May 1997 and recommended he be placed on administrative leave, which Cardinal Pell did.
Secretary of the Priests Retirement Foundation, Reverend Gerard Beasley, wrote to Baker in July 1998 and said the then Archbishop had asked the Foundation to provide for him “as if you were a Pastor Emeritus”.
Rev Beasley advised Baker that the Foundation would provide for his “board and lodging” costs up to a total of $3000 per quarter and hospital insurance and ambulance subscription would be maintained on his behalf.
The New York Times
By ELISABETTA POVOLEDO
NOV. 24, 2015
VATICAN CITY — Five people, including two Italian journalists, went on trial in a Vatican courtroom on Tuesday on charges of illegally procuring and circulating confidential documents that were used to write two tell-all books detailing suspected mismanagement and corruption at the Vatican.
The Vatican claims that by taking the documents, the defendants violated the “fundamental interests of the Holy See and the State,” language it used in a formal indictment issued on Saturday. The two journalists counter that the Vatican is violating their right to freedom of the press.
“We are not martyrs, we are investigative journalists and some principles must be defended,” one of the defendants, Gianluigi Nuzzi, the author of “Merchants in the Temple,” told the small pool of reporters allowed into the Vatican courtroom on Tuesday. “We just did our job.”
Media watchdog groups and organizations have rallied behind Mr. Nuzzi and his co-defendant, Emiliano Fittipaldi, the author of “Avarice,” calling on the Vatican to drop all charges against them.
The defendants face up to eight years in prison.
“Journalists should be allowed to carry out their role as watchdog and investigate alleged wrongdoing without fear of repercussions,” Nina Ognianova, Europe and Central Asia Coordinator for the Committee to Protect Journalists, said in a statement on Monday.
Vatican Information Service
Vatican City, 23 November 2015 (VIS) – The Holy Father has appointed:
- Msgr. Tadeusz Litynski as bishop of Zielona Gora – Gorzow (area 14,814, population 1,160,000, Catholics 989,000, priests 641, religious 283), Poland. Msgr. Litynski is currently auxiliary of the same diocese. He succeeds Bishop Stefan Regmunt, whose resignation upon reaching the age limit was accepted by the Holy Father.
- Bishop Rafael Sandoval Sandoval, M.N.M., of Tarahumana, Mexico, as bishop of Autlan (area 14,744, population 357,000, Catholics 341,000, priests 120, religious 192), Mexico.
On Saturday 21 November, the Holy Father appointed:
- Msgr. Nuno Manuel dos Santos Almeida as auxiliary of the archdiocese of Braga (area 2,857, population 964,800, Catholics 886,700, priests 465, permanent deacons 12, religious 676), Portugal. The bishop-elect was born in Viseu, Portugal in 1962 and was ordained a priest in 1986. He holds a licentiate in theology from the Catholic University of Porto, and has served as parish priest in various parishes in the diocese of Viseu, president of the Priestly Fraternity of Viseu, and member of the college of consultors and the presbyteral council.
- Bishop Francisco Mendoza De Leon as coadjutor of the diocese of Antipolo (area 1,828, population 3,958,820, Catholics 3,153,824, priests 178, religious 811), Philippines. Bishop De Leon is currently auxiliary of the same diocese.
- Bishop David William V. Antonio, auxiliary of the archdiocese of Nueva Segovia, Philippines, as apostolic administrator “sede plena” of the apostolic vicariate of San Jose in Mindoro, Philippines.
Vatican Information Service
Vatican City, 21 November 2015 (VIS) – The Vatican City State Tribunal has notified the defendants and their lawyers of the request for indictment by the Office of the Promotor of Justice, after the completion of the preliminary phase of the current proceedings for the wrongful disclosure of reserved information and documents, and of the consequent Decree of Indictment issued by the president of the Tribunal on 20 November.
The following is an extract of the Decree, which was signed by the Promotor of Justice Gian Pietro Milano, and the adjunct Promotor of Justice Roberto Zannotti.
The Promotor of Justice, with regard to articles 353, 355 and 359 of the Code of Penal Procedure, requests His Excellence the President of the Tribunal to issue, against the persons indicated as follows: Lucio Angel Vallejo, born in Villamediana de Iregua, Spain on 12 June 1961; Francesca Immacolata Chaouqui, born in Cosenza, Italy on 18 December 1981; Nicola Maio, born in Benevento on 2 March 1978; Emiliano Fittipaldi, born in Naples on 13 November 1974 and Gianluigi Nuzzi, born in Milan on 3 June 1969, a decree of summons to trial.
Angel Lucio Vallejo Balda, Francesca Immacolata Chaouqui and Nicola Maio for the offence defined in art. 248 CPP (this latter as substituted by art. 25 of Law IX of 11 July 2013), “because within the Prefecture for Economic Affairs and COSEA they associated in order to form a criminal organisation, with own autonomous composition and structure, organised by Lucio Angel Vallejo Balda and Francesca Immacolata Chaouqui, with the objective of committing further crimes of disclosure of information and documents concerning the fundamental interests of the Holy See and the State”.
All the aforementioned, accused of the crime set forth in articles 63 and 116 bis of the CPP (this latter introduce by Law IX of July 2013), “as, in collaboration with each other, Vallejo Balda in his role as Secretary General of the Prefecture for Economic Affairs, Chaouqui as member of COSEA, Maio as collaborator with Vallejo Balda for issues relating to COSEA, Fittipaldi and Nuzzi as journalists, illegally procured and subsequently disclosed information and documents concerning the fundamental interests of the Holy See and the State; in particular, Vallejo Balda, Chaouqui and Maio obtained such information through their respective roles in the Prefecture for Economic Affairs and in the COSEA; whereas Fittipaldi and Nuzzi solicited and applied pressure, especially to Vallejo Balda, to obtain reserved documents and information, which they used in part to prepare two books published in Italy in November 2015”.
The crimes were committed in Vatican City between March 2013 and November 2015.
Decree of trial
Following the request for trial presented by the Promotor of Justice, the president of Vatican City State Tribunal, Giuseppe Dalla Torre, issued the decree establishing for 24 November 2015, at 10.30, the first hearing in the trial against the defendants Angel Lucio Vallejo Balda, Francesca Immacolata Chaouqui, Nicola Maio, Emiliano Fittipaldi and Gianluigi Nuzzi, specifying that if they do not appear they will be judged in absentia.
At the same time the panel of judges will be composed as follows: Professor Giuseppe Dalla Torre, president; Professor Piero Antonio Bonnet, judge; Professor Paolo Pappanti-Pelletier, judge; Professor Venerando Marano, substitute judge.
The decree establishes that the evidence for the defence must be submitted by 12.30 on 28 November 2015, while the citaiton of texts will be reserved to subsequent provisions.
Vatican Information Service
Vatican City, 24 November 2015 (VIS) – The Holy Father has appointed:
- Fr. Steven Joseph Lopes as ordinary bishop of the Personal Ordinariate of “The Chair of St. Peter”, United States of America. The bishop-elect was born in Fremont, United States of America on 22 April, and was ordained a priest in 2001. He holds a doctorate in theology from the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome, and is currently an official of the secretariat of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. He succeeds Bishop Jeffrey N. Steenson, whose resignation from the pastoral ministry of the same Personal Ordinariate in accordance with canon 401 para. 2 of the Code of Canon Law.
- Fr. Paul McAleenan and Msgr. John Wilson as auxiliaries of the archdiocese of Westminster (area 3,634, population 4,831,000, Catholics 485,300, priests 600, permanent deacons 18, religious 1,289), England.
Bishop-elect McAleenan was born in Belfast, Northern Ireland in 1951 and was ordained a priest in 1985. He has served in a number of pastoral roles in the archdiocese of Westminster, including parish vicar and parish priest. He is currently canon of Westminster Cathedral.
Bishop-elect Wilson was born in Sheffield, England in 1968, was baptised in the Anglican Communion and received in the Catholic Church in 1985. He was ordained a priest in 1995. He holds a bachelor's degree in theology and religious studies from the University of Leeds, England, a bachelor's degree in theology from the Pontifical Gregorian University, Rome, a licentiate in moral theology from the Alphonsianum of Rome and a doctorate in ethics from the University of Durham, England. He has served in a number of pastoral and academic roles in the diocese of Leeds, including parish vicar, professor of moral theology, episcopal vicar for evangelisation, and apostolic administrator. He is currently parish priest in Wakefield, Yorkshire. In 2011 he was named Chaplain of His Holiness.
Vatican Information Service
Vatican City, 24 November 2015 (VIS) – This morning, at 10.30 a.m. at the Vatican City State Tribunal, the first hearing in the criminal trial of Msgr. Angel Lucio Vallejo Balda, Francesca Immacolata Chaouqui, Nicola Maio, Emiliano Fittipaldi and Gianluigi Nuzzi, accused of offences connected to the disclosure of reserved information and documents.
The defendants were all present, accompanied by their respective lawyers: Emanuela Bellardini for Msgr. Vallejo Balda, ex officio; Agnese Camilli for Francesca Chaouqui, ex officio; Rita Claudia Baffioni for Nicola Maio, ex officio; Lucia Musso for Emiliano Fittipaldi, private; and Roberto Palombi for Gianluigi Nuzzi, private.
The representative for the injured party, i.e. the Holy See, was not present.
The panel of judges was composed of Professor Giuseppe Della Torre, president; Professor Piero Antonio Bonnet, judge; Professor Paolo Papanti-Pelletier, judge; and Professor Venerando Marano, substitute judge.
The Office of the promotor of justice (the prosecutor's office) was represented by the promotor, Professor Gian Piero Milano, and the adjunct promotor, Professor Roberto Zannotti.
After the reading of the criminal charges by the chancellor, the president communicated that he had forwarded to the Court of Appeal the request for the appointment of two further private lawyers by Nuzzi and Msgr. Vallejo Balda, for eventual authorisation.
Two preliminary objections were heard, by Bellardini regarding the time limits for evidence for the defence, and – following a declaration by Fittipaldi – from Musso on the nullity of the writ served on Fittipaldi due to a lack of precision regarding the alleged offences.
The promotor of justice, in the person of Professor Zannotti, responded to the second objection, arguing that the intention was not to violate the freedom of the press, but that the defendant was required to respond regarding the activities conducted to obtain the published information and documents, and that this had been specified in the writ.
The panel of judges, after a meeting in the chamber lasting three quarters of an hour, rejected the two objections present and established the date of the next hearing, to be held on Monday 30 November at 9.30 a.m., during which the questioning of defendants will commence, starting with Msgr. Vallejo Balda, followed by Francesca Chaouqui, and then the other defendants. Various hearings are expected to be held during that week.
The hearing was closed before midday.
By Nick Squires, Vatican City State 24 Nov 2015
Two journalists who went on trial in the Vatican on Tuesday on charges of publishing leaked Holy See documents denounced their trial as “absurd” and “Kafkaesque”.
Emiliano Fittipaldi and Gianluigi Nuzzi are among five people on trial, accused of leaking and publishing documents that revealed widespread waste and financial mismanagement within the Vatican. They could all face up to eight years in jail.
At the first hearing, which lasted barely more than an hour, Mr Fittipaldi read out a statement to the court.
"I am incredulous in finding myself here as a defendant in a country that is not mine," he said.
He said the trial contravened press freedoms that were enshrined in the Italian constitution, the European Convention on Human Rights and the Universal Declaration on Human Rights.
The Times (UK)
Tom Kington Vatican City
Five people went on trial at the Vatican yesterday over the leaking of secrets after judges rejected a request from one of them to drop the case saying that it violated human rights.
Emiliano Fittipaldi, one of two authors who published books detailing greed and corruption at the Vatican, told the court that he was “incredulous” to find himself on trial for “simply having published news”.
A southern Ontario Catholic priest embezzled more than $150,000 and used it to fund a lavish lifestyle that included trips to Europe, New York, Disney theme parks and fine dining, the Crown said to open the trial of Robert Couture.
Robert Couture was Ste. Anne Parish's priest in Tecumseh, just east of Windsor, when he was charged with one count of theft over $5,000 nearly two years ago.
Provincial police claim an audit of the parish's accounts revealed at least $169,000 in irregularities.
His three-week trial began in a Superior Court of Justice courtroom in Windsor on Tuesday.
Couture is alleged to have stolen money in a number of ways.
The Crown claims he stole from collection plates and told funeral homes they had to pay $260 for "prayer teams" to come to funerals. It's alleged Couture would then give the church cheques for only $125 to $140, and pocket the rest.
CARDINAL George Pell signed off on a lavish retirement fund for one of the state’s most notorious paedophile priests while he was still the subject of a police investigation.
Just a week after Pell ordered the plush retirement fund, disgraced priest Wilfred Baker was charged with more than a dozen vile sex acts and was subsequently jailed.
Documents tendered to the child abuse Royal Commission yesterday reveal Baker had been the subject of a police investigation for more than a year at the time Pell arranged his retirement fund.
And his widespread offending had been widely known by church authorities for two decades.
The stunning revelations are expected to increase the pressure on Pell, Australia’s highest-ranked Catholic, when he returns to Melbourne next month to give evidence at commission.
By John Arkelian on November, 24 2015
Directed by Thomas McCarthy
Released November 6, 2015
In 1761, the poet Charles Churchill penned these words: “Keep up appearances; there lies the test; / The world will give thee credit for the rest. / Outward be fair, however foul within; / Sin if thou wilt, but then in secret sin.”
The present day has no shortage of such “secret sin”—and among the worst is the shocking betrayal of trust (and criminality) that sees ministers of God prey upon innocent children. Based on a true story, Spotlight takes its name from an investigative journalism unit within The Boston Globe newspaper, which, in early 2002, revealed pervasive sexual abuse of children by Catholic priests in the archdiocese of Boston. The investigative reporters who start looking into allegations of such abuse can scarcely believe their ears: the truth is too appalling to credit, until it becomes impossible to dismiss. It’s bad enough that any priest sexually abused any child, but the predators who have done so have done so repeatedly—these are serial sexual predators. And there are many of them. An estimate given in the film that six per cent of Catholic priests have “acted out sexually against children” proves to be dead-on: the journalists uncover 87 predatory priests in Boston alone. And that predation consists of the sexual molestation and rape of children—the most vulnerable (and trusting) among us.
Can things get any worse? Alas, yes they can: senior church officials (up to and including the archdiocese’s cardinal, the film suggests) were actively involved in covering up the heinous crimes committed against their flock of believers. Pedophile priests are simply shifted from one parish to another, and while they’re waiting for their new parish they’re designated as being on “sick leave” or “unassigned”—code words used to disguise their status as criminally deviant offenders. But admission of wrongdoing, let alone criminal prosecution, is conspicuous by its absence. Instead, the church successfully silences complainants, quietly settling their claims for a pittance or simply discrediting them (victims often came from poor or broken families, precisely because it was easier to impugn the credibility of such victims). Other elements of society, among them some lawyers and police officers, also play a part in this systemic corruption and cover-up—usually in the cause of protecting ‘the good name’ of the church. Secret sins indeed! Misguided loyalty to an institution, self-interest and simple complacency all play their role in perpetuating an appalling, longstanding and covert epidemic of child abuse by persons in positions of trust.
by James Warren
Published Nov. 24, 2015
Two journalists went on trial at the Vatican today in an unusual proceeding in which they’re accused of illegally publishing claims of Vatican mismanagement based on confidential documents.
Reporters Gianluigi Nuzzi and Emiliano Fittipaldi both showed up before the Vatican court and, in theory, could face up to eight years in prison. The Vatican operates a different legal system than Italy and, though there is an extradition agreement between the two entities, it’s unclear if the two journalists could actually wind up in prison if convicted.
The early stages Tuesday included the judge spurning Fittipaldi’s request to dismiss the charges. The journalists’ fellow defendants are three individuals accused of leaking them the documents for use in two separate books.
“I am not afraid, I am calm,” Nuzzi wrote on Facebook, minutes before the first hearing.
“I have no intention to repent. It’s those who squandered money of the poor and weak, those who enjoy themselves in super attics at worshippers’ expenses that will have to repent,” he added in reference to revelations contained in Fittipaldi’s “Avarice” and his own “Merchants in the Temple.” “I will be in court at the Vatican to denounce a system of censorship that bans freedom of thought and information.”
Fittipaldi contended the the trial is an attack on press freedom. “In no other part of the world, at least in the part of the world that considers itself democratic, is there a crime of a scoop, a crime of publishing news,” he told AP.
Los Angeles Times
At the first hearing in a controversial Vatican trial of five people accused of leaking Holy See documents, judges have thrown out a request by one of the defendants to drop the case because it violates human rights.
Emiliano Fittipaldi, one of two authors on trial who published confidential reports of greed and corruption at the Vatican, told the court he was incredulous to find himself on trial for “simply having published news.”
Fittipaldi faces up to eight years in jail, alongside fellow Italian author Gianluigi Nuzzi, for publishing findings from a Vatican committee set up by Pope Francis in 2013 to weed out waste and wrongdoing at the Vatican.
Also facing trial for violating Vatican laws against leaks are three members of the committee accused of releasing the information: Spanish priest Angel Lucio Vallejo Balda, who is currently locked up in a Vatican cell, his assistant Nicola Maio and Italian public-relations expert Francesca Chaouqui. All five were present in the courtroom Tuesday.
After asking to address the court, Fittipaldi said: “I feel I must express above all my incredulousness at finding myself a defendant before a court which is not that of my country, even though I wrote and published in Italy the book for which I have been incriminated.” ...
Speaking during a break in the trial, Nuzzi called the trial “Kafkaesque.”
“We are not martyrs, just journalists,” he said. “But there are principles that must be defended.”
Bethanni Williams November 24, 2015
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WHAS11) -- A priest appeared in court on charges for accessing child porn.
Pohl's mother, brother, brother-in-law, came to support him during his arraignment all filling the rows inside the federal courthouse as the former pastor pleaded not-guilty.
The investigation started after parents of a child at St Margaret Mary raised questions about a pictures the child said Pohl took in August 2015. That's when nearly 200 other photos of St. Margaret mary school students were found on his computer and taken on parish grounds.
He is not charged in connection to any of those pictures but other images investigators say they found pictures he isn't accused of taking but accessed on the internet.
The trial started Tuesday morning for a former Tecumseh priest charged with theft.
Robert Couture, a former priest for Ste. Anne Roman Catholic Church, is charged with one count of theft over $5,000.
Essex County OPP completed a lengthy investigation dating back to 2002. Police say a financial audit of the parishes’ accounts yielded about $180,000 in irregularities.
Officials from Ste. Anne Parish in Tecumseh notified the OPP in August of 2011, regarding an internal theft that occurred between 2002 and 2010.
A Melbourne priest made a 10-year-old girl sit on his knee and asked her if she loved him while indecently assaulting her during confession, a royal commission will hear.
Father Peter Searson pulled the girl on to his lap and she could feel his erection, counsel assisting the child abuse royal commission Gail Furness SC said.
The girl made a statement to police in 1990 about the 1985 incident at the Holy Family Primary School in Doveton, saying she tried to sit on the very end of Searson's knee but he pulled her closer to him.
'All of this time he kept saying to me 'do you love me' and 'tell me you love me' as well as asking me to give him a kiss on the cheek,' the girl said in the police statement, tendered to the royal commission.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. —A trial date was set Tuesday for a former Louisville pastor facing federal child exploitation charges.
Stephen Pohl went before a federal judge Tuesday morning and entered a not guilty plea in the case.
According to the indictment, he accessed and viewed images of child pornography online between January and August of this year.
He resigned as pastor at Saint Margaret Mary after his arrest in August.
He is now out of jail.
Times of Malta
Tuesday, November 24, 2015 by Fr Joe Borg
Today a trial opened in the Vatican on the latest leaks scandal. Those officially on trial are journalists Emiliano Fittipaldi and Gianluigi Nuzzi, Mgr. Angelo Lucio Vallejo Balda who was the number two of the Commission whose minutes and other documents were published, Francesca Chaouqui a member and a public relations expert, and Balda’s assistant Nicola Maio.
Earlier this month saw the publication of Fittipaldi’s book Avarice, and Nuzzi’s book Merchants in the Temple. The books allege greed, waste, corruption and mismanagement in the way things are done in the Vatican. Several high powered prelates were mentioned while information was given about the opposition Pope Francis was encountering in his attempts to clean things up.
At the beginning of the trial Fittipaldi, who like Nuzzi is an Italian and could have decided not to show up, read out a statement saying that he is not accused of publishing anything false or defamatory, merely news – “an activity that is protected and guaranteed by the Italian constitution, by the European Convention on Human Rights and by the Universal Declaration on Human Rights.”
The Court refused Fittipardi’s plea.
As was to be expected the decision of the Vatican brought with it a general condemnation from the journalistic world.
The Committee to Protect Journalists, Reporters Without Borders and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, among others, have asked the Vatican to drop the charges against the investigative journalists. These organisations rightly assert that freedom of the press, which is a fundamental right, is on trial at the Vatican.
Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP)
Italian journalists Emiliano Fittipaldi and Gianluigi Nuzzi, along with three former Vatican officials, have gone on trial charged with criminal misappropriation, among other offenses, in the wake of a Vatican leaks scandal.
A first hearing against the five defendants, who are charged with unauthorized disclosure of secret financial information, took place at the Court of the State of Vatican City on Tuesday morning.
Fittipaldi and Nuzzi are accused of making public confidential documents exposing alleged financial mismanagement in the Holy See in their recent books Merchants in the Temple and Avarice.
Vatican authorities had arrested Spanish priest Monsignor Angelo Lucio Vallejo Balda, his secretary Nicola Maio, and PR expert Francesca Immacolata Chaouqui on Nov. 2 on suspicion of leaking the confidential information, including letters and wiretapped conversations, to journalists Fittipaldi and Nuzzi. ...
Media commentators have commented that the charges made the Vatican look vengeful and draw even more attention to the observations and allegations in Nuzzi’s and Fittipaldi’s books.
Nina Ognianova, who is the Europe and Central Asia coordinator of the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), said: “Journalists should be allowed to carry out their role as watchdog and investigate alleged wrongdoing without fear of repercussions."
The Catholic Register
BY JUNNO AROCHO ESTEVES, CATHOLIC NEWS SERVICE
November 24, 2015
VATICAN CITY - Two Italian journalists standing trial in a Vatican court defended their right to freedom of the press, while the Vatican prosecution said the way they acquired confidential information was illegal.
All five people accused of involvement in leaking and publishing confidential documents about Vatican finances were present at the opening of the criminal trial in a Vatican courtroom Nov. 24.
The accused are: Spanish Msgr. Lucio Angel Vallejo Balda, secretary of the Prefecture for the Economic Affairs of the Holy See; Francesca Chaouqui, a member of the former Pontifical Commission for Reference on the Organization of the Economic-Administrative Structure of the Holy See; Nicola Maio, personal assistant to Vallejo Balda on the commission; and the journalists, Gianluigi Nuzzi, author of Merchants in the Temple, and Emiliano Fittipaldi, author of Avarice.
Vallejo Balda, Chaouqui and Maio were accused of “committing several illegal acts of divulging news and documents concerning fundamental interests of the Holy See and (Vatican City) State.” Nuzzi and Fittipaldi were accused of “soliciting and exercising pressure, especially on Vallejo Balda, in order to obtain confidential documents and news.”
The Vatican court granted Fittipaldi’s request to address the courtroom at the trial’s opening session. He expressed his “disbelief” at finding himself being tried by a non-Italian court system when he wrote and published a book in Italy. He said the charges against him were not “for publishing false or defamatory news, but simply for publishing news, an act protected by the Italian Constitution,” as well as European and universal human rights conventions.
Jeff Anderson & Associates
Five St. John’s Abbey Priest Files to be Released Tuesday
Files include: Richard Eckroth, Thomas Gillespie, Francis Hoefgen, Finian McDonald and Bruce Wollmering
Bruce Wollmering Key Documents
Bruce Wollmering File, part 1
Bruce Wollmering File, part 2
Bruce Wollmering Timeline
Finian McDonald Key Documents
Finian McDonald File, part 1
Finian McDonald File, part 2
Finian McDonald Timeline
Francis Hoefgen Key Documents
Francis Hoefgen File
Francis Hoefgen Timeline
Richard Eckroth Key Documents
Richard Eckroth File, part 1
Richard Eckroth File, part 2
Richard Eckroth File, part 3
Richard Eckroth Timeline
Thomas Gillespie Key Documents
Thomas Gillespie File
Thomas Gillespie Timeline
What: At a news conference on Tuesday in St. Paul attorney Jeff Anderson will:
• Release the files of five St. John’s monks accused of sexually abusing children. Files to be released include Richard Eckroth, Thomas Gillespie, Francis Hoefgen, Finian McDonald and Bruce Wollmering. The files were obtained as part of the Troy Bramlage (Doe 2) settlement earlier this year.
• Discuss the contents of the five priest files. Finian McDonald spent more than 20 years as a counselor at St. John’s where he used his position to prey on and sexually exploit vulnerable students. Bruce Wollmering was part of the counseling staff along with McDonald who also preyed on vulnerable students who sought help. Francis Hoefgen was arrested for sexually assaulting a 17-year-old vulnerable boy in Cold Spring, MN in 1984. In 1996 St. John’s learned of Thomas Gillespie’s sexual abuse of a boy at St. Mary’s in Stillwater, MN approximately 20 years earlier and Richard Eckroth, a serial sexual psychopath abused dozens of St. Johns students, if not more, over his 60+ year career.
Published in the Gallup Independent, Gallup, NM, Nov. 23, 2015
Do not exploit the poor because they are poor and do not crush the needy in court. — Proverbs 22:22
The Diocese of Gallup’s Chapter 11 case recently reached some dismal milestones. The case began its third year in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in November. Recent quarterly billing statements show the Gallup Diocese has racked up more than $3.2 million in bankruptcy costs. Now, attorneys in the case are headed back for their third mediation session after two failed earlier attempts.
For anyone who naively believes this bankruptcy case might actually deliver some justice for the clergy sex abuse claimants, they should read the 12-page statement filed in court recently by attorney Edward A. Mazel. His statement is a sobering reminder that the protection of money — not the promotion of justice — is at the heart of this case.
Mazel represents the New Mexico Property and Casualty Insurance Guaranty Association, an entity created by state law that oversees the coverage of claims by insolvent insurers. In the Diocese of Gallup case, it involves liability insurance policies the diocese bought from the now-defunct Home Insurance Company.
Mazel’s statement on behalf of his insurance client is a classic example of why the public frequently views both lawyers and insurance companies with similar distaste. Mazel doesn’t even bother to pay superficial lip service to the victims in this case, the clergy sex abuse claimants. Rather, his primary interest appears to be protecting his client from having to pay out much money on the diocese’s insurance policies.
Using his convoluted interpretation of insurance terminology and the law, Mazel lays out a series of possible legal defenses his client might assert against the insurance claims. His most specious defense is based on the Home Insurance Company’s policy that “specifically excludes coverage for bodily injury that is either expected or intended by the insured.” Citing the example of the Rev. Clement Hageman, a credibly accused perpetrator, Mazel claims, “NMPCIGA believes these assertions, along with factual evidence, trigger the ‘expected or intended’ injury exclusion since there would be no coverage for Hageman’s alleged misconduct, and no coverage to the Debtor because the injury would be expected or intended as a result of his alleged misconduct.”
Regardless of what some diocesan officials knew about sexual abuse in the Gallup Diocese, no one could argue that the sexual abuse of children was intended. The clergy abuse claimants were sexually molested when they were minor children with no legal say about what schools or churches they would attend. Neither they nor their parents could have possibly expected or intended sexual molestation as a result of attendance at a Catholic school or parish. Mazel’s suggested legal defense is offensive.
And what was the purpose of Mazel’s statement to U.S. Bankruptcy Judge David T. Thuma? Mazel, who states he practiced bankruptcy law “under the mentorship” of Thuma on his law firm’s website, states the purpose is to “simply outline and summarize the complexity of the issues” for his former mentor and “simply to aid the Court in reaching a determination on how to manage this case.” Leave it to a lawyer to come up with such a disingenuous piece of malarkey.
No, the real reason was to deliver a message to the sex abuse claimants. As all the parties are heading back to the mediation table for the third time Dec. 3-4, the New Mexico Property and Casualty Insurance Guaranty Association is taking the low road by trying to intimidate abuse claimants with the wearying prospect of ongoing litigation over insurance coverage.
On the other hand, the Diocese of Gallup’s other insurer, Catholic Mutual, has the opportunity to take the high road. A group of Catholic bishops founded and currently direct Catholic Mutual. And it was Catholic bishops who had the authority to change the outcome of the sex abuse crisis if they had chosen to protect innocent children rather than protect the church’s reputation and criminal clerics. The Catholic bishops who run Catholic Mutual have a similar moral choice now.
Catholic Mutual can take the high road. Its attorneys can work with the mediator and attorneys for abuse survivors and the Gallup Diocese to come up with a settlement that is truly just for the abuse claimants. Catholic Mutual can put pressure on the New Mexico Property and Casualty Insurance Guaranty Association to get off the low road it is traveling and come to the mediation table with a decent and fair settlement offer.
Both insurance organizations have the power to bring the Diocese of Gallup’s bankruptcy case to a close with a good resolution. But they both need to demonstrate that the promotion of justice — not the protection of insurance money — is at the heart of their motivation.
In this space only does the opinion of the Gallup Independent Editorial Board appear.
By Kevin Cullen GLOBE COLUMNIST NOVEMBER 22, 2015
“Spotlight,” the movie about The Boston Globe’s Pulitzer Prize-winning investigation of the coverup of sexual abuse by Roman Catholic priests, had its general release on Friday and film critics agree: “Spotlight” is one of the best movies of the year.
Jack Dunn had a different reaction. After seeing the film at the Loews theater across from Boston Common, he stepped onto the sidewalk and threw up.
The movie sickened him because he is portrayed as someone who minimized the suffering of those who were sexually abused, as someone who tried to steer Globe reporters away from the story, as someone invested in the coverup.
“The things they have me saying in the movie, I never said,” Dunn said. “But worse is the way they have me saying those things, like I didn’t care about the victims, that I tried to make the story go away. The dialogue assigned to me is completely fabricated and represents the opposite of who I am and what I did on behalf of victims. It makes me look callous and indifferent.”
Dunn is the longtime spokesman for Boston College, his alma mater. He is also on the board of trustees at Boston College High School, from which he graduated in 1979. In 2002, Walter Robinson, then editor of the Globe’s Spotlight Team, called Dunn to set up a meeting with BC High president Bill Kemeza about allegations against priests who had taught at BC High.
That real-life meeting became a dramatic scene in the movie, in which Robinson, played by Michael Keaton, and Globe reporter Sacha Pfeiffer, played by Rachel McAdams, press Kemeza, Dunn, and a fictional character called Pete Conley about what BC High knew and when they knew it.
Robinson graduated from BC High, and his character expresses incredulity that previous BC High administrators didn’t know about the serial abuse by one Rev. James Talbot.
‘The dialogue assigned to me is completely fabricated and represents the opposite of who I am and what I did on behalf of victims.’
“It’s a big school, Robbie, you know that,” the Jack Dunn character says. “And we’re talking about seven alleged victims over, what, eight years?”
In real life, Jack Dunn says, not only did he not say this but that after Robinson told him what the Globe had learned about the abuse by priests at BC High, he drew up for the school’s board of trustees a four-point plan to address the allegations with transparency and compassion.
“I proposed to the board that we create a hotline so alums can call in and report anything they know; hire an independent child advocate to review each case; report any criminality to the police; and provide counseling and compensation for the victims. There was input from others, but that essentially became the plan,” Dunn said.
The real-life meeting with Globe reporters, Dunn said, was cordial, not confrontational.
“We said we didn’t know anything, that there were no files,” Dunn said. “But we weren’t denying or minimizing anything.”
There were stories in the Globe at the time chronicling what Kemeza and Dunn said and did in response to the Globe inquiries, and a column praised BC High’s response compared to the foot-dragging and obstruction of the Archdiocese.
But real life usually isn’t dramatic enough for the silver screen. Artistic license means screenwriters and filmmakers can take a scene from real life and make it a composite that serves what they consider a larger truth. In other words, they make stuff up.
The irony, of course, is that “Spotlight” has been widely and rightly praised for the way it captures the minutiae of what newspaper reporters do in pursuit of hard-to-get stories like the clergy abuse scandal. It gets the journalism right. But in doing so, “Spotlight,” like other films that take on real-life stories, engages in something that is anathema to journalism — making up characters and dialogue.
The caveat employed by filmmakers is that most elastic of phrases, “based on a true story.” But in the interest of transparency, that sort of disclaimer should be augmented with the words “but we reserve the right to make stuff up.”
The real problem highlighted in Jack Dunn’s case is that fictional dialogue meant to highlight the obstruction thrown up by Catholic powerbrokers was put into the mouth of a real person, creating real-life consequences.
When I talked to him last week at his office in Chestnut Hill, it was obvious that Dunn was emotionally and physically wrecked by the way he’s portrayed in the film. At one point, he cried, describing how his son, a senior at BC High, felt compelled to stand up and defend him in front of his classmates before they went, as a class, to see the film.
“Part of me didn’t want to say anything about this, because I don’t want to take anything away from the victims,” he said. “The Globe reporters did a great job, and my beef is not with them. But the real heroes in this are the victims, and I know some of them and I care about them. But I can’t just stand by and have my reputation ruined.”
What perplexes Dunn, and me, too, is why the fabricated lines are credited to a real person when there is a fabricated character called Pete Conley in the scene. As a character, Conley is an influential business guy who acts as a fixer for the Archdiocese of Boston.
I asked Tom McCarthy, who directed the film and co-wrote the screenplay with Josh Singer, what he thought of Dunn’s complaint.
“We spent enormous time researching in depth what happened in Boston — interviewing individuals, reviewing e-mails, poring over court documents. The movie is based on real events and uses, by necessity, scenes and dialogue to introduce characters, provide context, and articulate broad themes. That is true of every movie ever made about historical events,” McCarthy wrote in an e-mail.
“We understand that not everyone will embrace the way they are portrayed in the film, but we feel confident, based on our extensive research, that the movie captures with a high degree of authenticity the nature of events, personalities, and pressures of the time.”
I asked McCarthy for an interview, and to answer this question specifically: Why make a real person look bad with words he didn’t say, when you could just as easily assign those words to a fictitious person you put in the scene? But his spokeswoman said they would limit their response to the e-mail.
Dunn isn’t the only real person portrayed in the film who has a beef with McCarthy. Steve Kurkjian, a legendary Globe reporter, is portrayed as a curmudgeon who was dismissive of the importance of the story. That couldn’t be further from the truth, and Kurkjian did some of the most important reporting as part of the team that won the 2003 Pulitzer Prize for Public Service for exposing the coverup.
Kurkjian, a journalistic icon, is owed an apology, at least. So is Dunn, but he’s looking for more. A lot more. His lawyer sent a letter to the filmmakers, demanding that the offending scene be deleted from the movie, just as the movie hit hundreds of screens coast to coast.
But, with lawyers now involved, getting people to do the right thing is going to be that much harder.
Sort of like when all those lawyers were telling Cardinal Law to batten down the hatches and ignore the rabble that wanted answers.
How’d that work out for the cardinal?
Kevin Cullen is a Globe columnist. He can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter@GlobeCullen.
(ANSA) - Vatican City, November 24 - Freedom of information and of the press must be defended, journalist Gianluigi Nuzzi told reporters Tuesday as the so-called Vatileaks 2 trial kicked off.
"We are not martyrs, we are just reporters but some principles must be defended," said Nuzzi, one of five defendants in the document-leaking case.
"You can criticize, appreciate, or blame but there is another level, which is safeguarding freedom of information".
VATICAN CITY - Five people, including two Italian reporters, went on trial in the Vatican on Tuesday, to outrage from rights groups, on charges arising from publication of books in which the Holy See was portrayed as mired in mismanagement and corruption.
At the first session, dominated by procedural issues and dubbed "Kafkaesque" by one of the defendants, journalists Gianluigi Nuzzi and Emiliano Fittipaldi said they had done nothing wrong and had simply fulfilled their professional duty.
"I am incredulous in finding myself here as a defendant in a country that is not mine," Fittipaldi told the court, adding that publishing news was protected by the Italian constitution as well as European conventions and universal declarations on human rights.
The trial, being heard by three non-clerical judges in the sovereign city-state, stems from publication of two books which depict a Vatican plagued by mismanagement, greed and corruption and where Pope Francis faces stiff resistance from the old guard to his reform agenda.
While the Vatican follows a 19th-century Italian criminal code that is no longer used in Italy, the fundamental approach to criminal trials is similar to the Italian legal system of magistrates and prosecutors. Unlike Italy, the Vatican does not have jury trials.
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Tuesday visited the Institute for the Works of Religion (IOR), commonly known as the Vatican Bank.
During his visit, he met with the Board of Superintendence for about 20 minutes, where he announced the appointment of a new Director General of the Institution, Dr. Gian Franco Mammi, who has been serving as Vice-Director.
He will be assisted for the time being by Dr. Giulio Mattietti , until a new Vice-Director is appointed.
National Catholic Reporter
Joshua J. McElwee | Nov. 24, 2015
The controversial and extraordinary Vatican trial of three employees and two Italian journalists over publication of leaked documents got underway Tuesday with strong protestations from the journalists that the trial violates their rights as recognized in Italy, Europe, and by the United Nations.
The organization that represents every journalist accredited at the Vatican also issued a rare public statement on the trial Tuesday morning, expressing “consternation and worry” that the two colleagues are facing prosecution for doing “exactly their work.”
The trial, which opened in the morning with a 70-minute initial hearing in a Vatican courtroom, relates to books recently released by Emiliano Fittipaldi and Gianluigi Nuzzi, titled Avarizia ("Greed") and Merchants in the Temple, respectively.
Both books outline instances of questionable Vatican spending and financial practices, citing leaked documents.
November 24, 2015
Lucie Morris-Marr and Cassie ZervosHerald Sun
AN elite Melbourne private boys boarding school has been rocked by a sex abuse scandal.
Trinity Grammar School, Kew, has announced police have charged a former teacher regarding an alleged sexual offence against a former pupil.
In a letter to parents headmaster Dr Michael Davies said the Anglican school were fully supporting police in their investigations against the former staff member.
“The allegation has been brought by an Old Boy of Trinity who attended the school in the late 1960s,” he wrote.
“He was made an offer of counselling and ongoing support and was referred to the police.”
Extra Ecclesiam Est Libertas
NOVEMBER 22, 2015 ~ LMICKENS
I saw the movie “Spotlight” this morning, and it exceeded my expectations in every way. It’s definitely an Oscar contender, and I think it’s a film everyone should see. Not only does “Spotlight” do a great job of dramatizing the Boston Globe’s investigation into the abuse scandal, but it also shows the extent to which Boston was controlled not just by the Catholic church but by what one could call “the old Irish boy’s club” that demanded silence from priests, police, survivors, their families, and entire communities. Indeed, it seems like many Bostonians had direct knowledge of abusive priests, but assumed that it was just that one guy and the church knew how to handle things. The willingness for communities to turn a blind eye to abusive priests leads a lawyer working for abuse victims to proclaim (and here I’m paraphrasing), “It takes a village to raise a child, and a village to abuse one.”
Some people might take offense to such a statement, but it’s really true. How many times have you heard a local news story about an abused and/or murdered child, where teachers, neighbors, and other relatives knew something was wrong, but didn’t intervene? Agencies like CPS get a lot of flak, most of it justified, for letting children fall through the cracks, but in many cases, blame can be extended to individuals and institutions closer to the children in question. The more notorious priests like John Geoghan, Paul Shanley, and Joseph Birmingham explicitly targeted kids from impoverished, broken homes, knowing not only that such children would be the least likely to complain about excessive attention from a father figure, but they would also be the least likely to tell and the easiest to discredit. In many cases, other people — nuns, priests assigned to the same parish, janitors, lay administrators — knew or suspected something was wrong, but didn’t say anything because of a fear of “scandalizing the faithful” or because they had been threatened into silence.
It’s interesting that child molestation is generally seen as the worst thing imaginable, but in far too many cases, the public will blame the victim. In this case from Missouri, a junior deacon at a Protestant church (not sure of the denomination) admitted to and was convicted of abusing a young girl for ten years, starting when she was five years old, yet the community called the victim a “liar” and rallied around the abuser:
“There are certainly a few good people in this community who have offered support to this young victim,” said Platte County Prosecuting Attorney Eric Zahnd. “It is shocking, however, that many continue to support a defendant whose guilt was never in doubt. If it takes a village to raise a child, what is a child to do when the village turns its back and supports a confessed child molester?”
Tuesday 24 November 2015
A former Jehovah’s Witness is calling for a change to practices within the church which he says do not help sex abuse victims.
Steve Rose, 51, from Hartlepool, believes policies of the church, based on what the Bible says, make it difficult for allegations of child and other sex abuse to be uncovered or acted upon.
He wants to see the end to a “two-witness rule” which says church elders are not allowed to take action against allegations of wrongdoing unless it has been witnessed by at least two people.
The church say its rules do not prevent allegations being taken seriously or issues being reported to police.
Mr Rose, who used to be a member of Hartlepool’s Kingdom Hall, in Ashgrove Avenue, is also concerned that convicted sex offenders – like Richard Ogilvie, who was recently sentenced for grooming a girl – are allowed to remain part of the church.
The movie Spotlight has brought in nearly six-million dollars over the past two and-a-half weeks, pretty impressive, given fewer than 600 theaters are showing it.
As you probably know, the movie tells the story of The Boston Globe’s uncovering of clergy sex abuse in the Catholic Church.
Boston College Spokesman Jack Dunn says fictitious portrayal in the movie is far from the truth.
Bob McGovern Tuesday, November 24, 2015
Jack Dunn tells me he’s been defamed in the “Spotlight” movie, but there don’t seem to be any Hollywood endings in character assassination lawsuits.
The longtime Boston College spokesman has already lawyered up and asked the movie’s distributors to remove a scene that paints him in an unflattering light. He says his role in the Boston clergy sex-abuse scandal was grossly misstated.
However, he stopped short of saying he would sue Open Road Films, the producer of “Spotlight.” Maybe that’s because it’s too soon to start thinking litigation. Or perhaps it’s because he knows how hard it is to win a defamation case against Hollywood.
“Usually, people in these cases don’t have a good understanding of the First Amendment, and they typically fail,” said Mark Litwak, a famous California entertainment attorney who has experience with silver screen suits. “It’s tougher, too, when they say it’s based on a true story. They’re basically telling the audience they’ve taken some creative liberties.”
Harvey A. Silverglate, a local civil rights attorney, seconded that motion.
“Unless it’s found that the filmmakers had notice early that what they said was false, and then they recklessly disregarded it and didn’t clarify it, I think a filmmaker has an advantage,” Silverglate said. “There’s a sliding scale here, and filmmakers have more leeway than a newspaper or even a documentary.”
Daily Mail (UK)
By ASSOCIATED PRESS
VATICAN CITY (AP) — A Vatican tribunal on Tuesday rejected a journalist's request to have charges against him of publishing confidential documents dropped as a trial opened in the Holy See's latest leaks scandal.
Journalists Emiliano Fittipaldi and Gianluigi Nuzzi are accused of having published books about Vatican waste, greed and mismanagement that were based in part on confidential Holy See documents. Alongside them in the courtroom Tuesday were three people, including a high-ranking Vatican monsignor, accused of leaking them the information.
The trial opened amid appeals by media watchdog groups, including the Committee to Protect Journalists, Reporters Without Borders and the OSCE, for the Vatican to drop the charges against the reporters, on the grounds that a free press is a fundamental human right.
The hearing was held in the intimate courtroom of the Vatican's criminal tribunal, decorated with a photo of Pope Francis facing the defendants and a crucifix behind the bench. A small group of journalists was admitted inside as "pool" reporters.
After the charges were read out, Fittipaldi asked to approach the bench and read out a statement to the four judges, saying he decided to show up out of respect for the court even though in Italy he would never have been accused of the charges he faces, much less put on trial.
He noted that he's not accused of publishing anything false or defamatory, merely news — "an activity that is protected and guaranteed by the Italian constitution, by the European Convention on Human Rights and by the Universal Declaration on Human Rights."
By John L. Allen Jr.
Associate editor November 24, 2015
Although it may be overshadowed both by Pope Francis’ trip to Africa this week and, in the United States, the Thanksgiving holiday, a Vatican trial that got started on Tuesday runs the risk of boomeranging in its effort to claim the moral high ground amid a recent cycle of embarrassing leaks.
In brief, five people are facing a three-judge Vatican court on allegations of publishing secret internal documents pertaining to finances. Three were part of a papal study commission created in 2013 to lay the groundwork for a financial reform: Spanish Monsignor Lucio Vallejo Balda, his aide Nicola Maio, and Italian laywoman Francesca Chaouqui.
The other two defendants are journalists who published new books based on the leaked documents: Gianluigi Nuzzi, author of Via Crucis (released in English as “Merchants in the Temple”) and Emiliano Fittipaldi, author of Avarizia (“Avarice.”)
The journalists are being tried for allegedly using illicit means to obtain secret documents. The three former Vatican insiders are charged with having formed an “organized criminal association” for purposes of violating confidentiality.
(ANSA) - Rome, November 23 - The trial of journalists Emiliano Fittipaldi and Gianluigi Nuzzi Tuesday in the Vatican for their books about the Holy See, "Avarice" and "The Way of the Cross," is a trial against freedom of the press as well as the two reporters, the pair have said.
Together with the two accused of divulging Holy See confidential documents also being tried are alleged whistleblowers, Monsignor Lucio Angel Vallejo Balda and Francesca Immacolata Chaouqui, as well as Vallejo's former assistant Nicola Maio, all of them also accused of criminal association for having taken documents from the Vatican's financial affairs committee and passing them to the two reporters.
Nuzzi and Fittipaldi, who under Vatican law face potential sentences of four to eight years in prison if found guilty, indicated they would be present in court but both strongly protest the trial of journalists merely for doing their job and threatening thereby the freedom of information.
"What is opening is not a trial against me but a trial against freedom of the press," Fittipaldi wrote in a letter to la Repubblica.
By Ciaran Barnes Chief Reporter
A Northern Ireland priest who was put on gardening leave by the Catholic Church after getting a parishioner pregnant has made a return to public life.
Fr Ciaran Dallat quit his post at St Peter’s Cathedral in west Belfast in March after the woman who later miscarried his baby revealed her story to Sunday Life.
The 52-year-old cleric announced he was undertaking “spiritual guidance” to “repair the damage and hurt” he had caused.
But after eight months out of the spotlight the priest has started stepping out in public again.
A MALE witch who hypnotised two 15-year-old girls and then prostituted and abused them has lost his bid to vary his supervision order.
Robin Angus Fletcher, 58, wanted to be allowed to complete a rehabilitation-related workbook with verbal answers only and a recording of his answers also sent to his lawyer because he is vision impaired.
His lawyer Alan Marshall told Victoria’s Court of Appeal Fletcher was prone to giving long answers, and he feared a transcriber would not summarise these correctly.
“It is his concern that if someone fills in the booklet but doesn’t regard the full context he may be disadvantaged at a later stage,” Mr Marshall told the court.
David Grace QC, for Corrections Victoria, said there were concerns with how these audio recordings could be distributed or used.
William D. Lindsey
Steve and I went yesterday to see "Spotlight." Most of you will already know quite a bit about this film, but in case anyone reading this blog doesn't have information about it, it's a depiction of the dramatic story of the gradual awakening of the Boston Globe's investigative "Spotlight" team to the massive ramifications of the abuse story in the Catholic church. It's the story of how, after having been alerted to this by abuse survivors like Phil Saviano of SNAP, the Globe ignored the situation until reports about a single monstrously abusive priest in the Boston archdiocese, John Geoghan, alerted Globe journalists to the fact that there were more abusive priests in the diocese — as many as 90 — hiding in plain sight, whose histories of abuse were known to all kinds of powerful people but above all to the diocese's chief shepherd Cardinal Law, but about whom no one with power to combat the abuse had done anything at all.
These revelations led to the Globe's historic exposé report in 2002 that ultimately toppled Cardinal Law, who was then "punished" by the Vatican by being whisked away to Rome where he was given a cushy and powerful job within the Vatican. If you want to know more about "Spotlight," here's the Facebook page for the movie. And here's its Twitter site.
Our reaction: we drove away from the theater talking about how the U.S. Catholic bishops just met to ratchet up their attacks on same-sex marriage as an "intrinsic evil," a position they plan to place before Catholic voters in the U.S. in a voting guide designed to herd voters into the GOP voting column. Steve and I and couples like us, same-sex couples who choose to commit our lives to each other in public, loving marital relationships, are evil. Not what the bishops have done: that is not evil.
As I told Steve as we talked about this, and have told friends on Facebook, it's astonishing to me that, just as a movie appears in theaters everyhere shining a spotlight on the direct involvement of a majority of Catholic bishops in covering for priests sexually molesting minors, the bishops have chosen to shine their own spotlight on my life and Steve's life as evil lives. Talk about moral obtuseness of the most intractable form imaginable. Talk about a total lack of self-knowledge or insight into one's own life and behavior undercutting claims to pastoral responsibility in the grossest way possible.
Talk about not seeing what is right in front of one's nose as one chooses to focus, instead, on imaginary (and politically useful) bugbears everywhere around oneself.
Here's what else struck me as I watched:
1. I find it amazing — marvelous, really — that a marginal, embattled organization of abuse survivors and advocates for survivors, the heroic folks who formed SNAP, has gone in two decades from being marginal and embattled to being celebrated in a major movie playing in theaters all over the place this (American) holiday season. This movie is in key respects a paean to SNAP leaders including Phil Saviano and Richard Sipe, a richly deserved paean to them for their willingness to keep on keeping on when no one, including the Globe itself, would pay any attention to them when they first came forth with their explosive reports about the ramification of the abuse situation in the Catholic church.
The trial of several Italian journalists and Vatican officials has begun despite criticism from media rights groups. The five are on trial as part of the "Vatileaks 2" scandal revealing waste within the Holy See.
The five appeared before the court on Tuesday for obtaining and publishing secret documents showing widespread financial waste and fraud within the Vatican bureaucracy.
The journalists, Gianluigi Nuzzi and Emiliano Fittipaldi, face up to eight years in prison for publishing two books earlier this month based on confidential Vatican documents from a special reform commission established by Pope Francis to clean up waste in the Church.
While walking into the Vatican, the two reporters denied any wrongdoing, saying they had just done their duty as professionals.
Paddy Agnew in Rome
Tue, Nov 24, 2015
For the second time in three years, the Holy See this morning sees the opening of a Vatican City trial investigating the internal theft of confidential documents. The so-called Vatileaks 2 trial sees five people indicted – Spanish monsignor Lucio Angel Vallegjo Balda, his Italian lay assistant Nicola Maio, lay consultant Francesca Chaouqui and writers Gianluigi Nuzzi and Emiliano Fittipaldi.
The pair both published books this month – Merchants in the Temple by Nuzzi and Greed by Fittipaldi – which outlined not only the mismanagement of the Holy See’s finances but also the resistance of elements in the Roman Curia (and elsewhere) to the reform process instigated by Pope Francis.
The investigation into these thefts began this summer, while Msgr Balda and Ms Chaoqui were both first arrested and questioned on November 2nd. Msgr Balda, an official at the Vatican’s prefecture for economic affairs, has been held in the Vatican since then while Ms Chaoqui was released after questioning.
Many commentators believe the haste with which this trial is being conducted is because Pope Francis wants the affair resolved as soon as possible so it will not drag on into celebrations for the Holy Year of Mercy. Some observers argue the trial may be over before the Holy Year starts on December 8th, Feast of the Immaculate Conception.
By Philip Pullella
VATICAN CITY , Nov 24 Five people, including two Italian reporters, went on trial in the Vatican on Tuesday, to outrage from rights' groups, on charges arising from publication of books in which the Holy See was portrayed as mired in mismanagement and corruption.
As they walked into the Vatican, the two reporters, Gianluigi Nuzzi and Emiliano Fittipaldi, said they had done nothing wrong and were merely doing their professional duty.
The trial, being heard by three judges, stems from publication of two books which depict a Vatican plagued by mismanagement, greed and corruption and where Pope Francis faces stiff resistance from the old guard to his reform agenda.
Two of the officials indicted, Spanish Monsignor Angel Lucio Vallejo Balda, who was number two at the Vatican's Prefecture for Economic Affairs, and Italian laywoman Francesca Chaouqui, a public relations expert, were arrested earlier this month.
Balda and Chaouqui were both members of a non-defunct commission Francis set up in 2013 to study economic and administrative reforms. Vatican employee Nicola Maio, Balda's assistant, also went on trial.
The Holy See was embarrassed and angered by the books, which it said used information that should never have been allowed to leave the walls of the city state.
November 23, 2015 By Paula Ebben
BOSTON (CBS) – The new film “Spotlight” opened Friday to strong reviews around the country but one Boston man says his reputation has been ruined by the way he was portrayed.
Jack Dunn, the spokesman for Boston College, wants the public to know this story about uncovering the truth, contains a scene that is a complete lie.
“Hollywood needed a villain, and in this particular scene they assigned that to me,” Dunn said in an interview with WBZ-TV’s Paula Ebben.
Spotlight chronicles the work of dogged Boston Globe reporters who uncovered the secrecy in the archdiocese of Boston that allowed the clergy sex abuse crisis to go unreported for decades.
But one scene at BC High shows Jack Dunn, an alumnus of the school, reacting to news of an abusive priest there as if he was complicit in the cover-up. ...
A spokeswoman for Open Road Films, the distributor of Spotlight, released the following statement:
“We believe the complaint against Spotlight is without merit. The filmmakers meticulously researched what happened in Boston. The movie is based on real events and was made with the cooperation and help of the people who lived them. The movie uses – as is the case for all movies ever made about historical events – scenes and dialogue to introduce characters, provide context, and articulate broad themes. We feel confident, based on the extensive research conducted, that the movie authentically captures the nature of events, issues, and pressures of the time. While the film could not possibly portray all of the good deeds done by some to help victims and expose the truth – many of which occurred after the events dramatized in the film – we hope that the movie helps bring all of their efforts to light.”
Statement from BC High in Letter to Alumni:
“In order to present this complex and sorrowful history, Spotlight compresses details and portrays characters to focus on the vitally important overarching story. Specifically, the film dramatizes a meeting at BC High by condensing several dimensions of the larger diocesan investigation into a single scene. For example, in the film, an official Archdiocesan representative is depicted as present and influential in the meeting. In reality, no one from the Archdiocese was ever present at any of our meetings or involved in our responses to the victims.
In that same scene, there is a fictionalized portrayal of another one of our alumni, Jack Dunn ’79, a Trustee of the school. The lines assigned to Jack were manufactured by the filmmaker for dramatic effect and represent an inaccurate portrayal of what he did and said. From the start, Jack was an outspoken advocate for transparency in our communication. He was one of the key members of the school leadership that established a plan to respond to the victims. That plan included communication to all alumni informing them of a hotline that would allow them to report any abuse, hiring an independent advocate who set up free counseling for victims, and reporting to law enforcement any criminal conduct that was disclosed.
This response, although it could not undo the history of harm, was viewed by many victims and their advocates as a model that would later be adopted by other faith-based institutions.”
POSTED BY JOSH ROSENFIELD ON NOV 23, 2015
Overview: Four Boston Globe reporters track down proof that the Catholic Church protected priests who sexually abused children. Open Road Films; 2015; Rated R; 128 Minutes.
All The Pope’s Men: I’ve always had a soft spot for movies about journalism. There’s something innately compelling about good-hearted, determined people on the hunt for truth and justice. If Spotlight brings anything new to this sub-genre, it’s a dogged insistence on denying the first part of the equation. The members of the titular investigative group at the Boston Globe aren’t callous or even apathetic, but the film never forgets that their work is, well, exactly that. Work. It’s their job. Spotlight does its best not to project personal motivations for covering the story onto these characters. They don’t choose to chase this story down because they have a stake in it, they’re told to do so by their boss. Any personal connections they have to it arise naturally as a result of covering it. Spotlight has been compared to Zodiac for its depiction of the journalistic process, but Zodiac used journalism as a conduit to explore the external pressures being exacted on its characters. Spotlight is more concerned with the the way the process itself affects its characters.
Portland Press Herald
BY NICOLE WINFIELD
THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
VATICAN CITY — Two Italian journalists who wrote books detailing Vatican mismanagement go on trial Tuesday in a Vatican courtroom along with three people accused of leaking them the information in a case that has drawn scorn from media watchdogs around the world.
The Committee to Protect Journalists, Reporters Without Borders and the OSCE, among others, have all called on the Vatican to drop the charges against Gianluigi Nuzzi and Emiliano Fittipaldi. The two reporters face up to eight years in prison if convicted of charges they violated Vatican law by publishing news based on confidential Holy See documents.
In interviews Monday, Nuzzi and Fittipaldi both called the process “Kafka-esque.” With hours to go before the start of trial, neither they nor their lawyers had seen the court file detailing the accusations against them. Nuzzi only spoke for the first time with his Vatican court-appointed lawyer Monday morning. They were indicted Friday.
Even though they technically risk arrest by stepping on Vatican soil Tuesday, both said they planned to attend the trial – if only to report to the world what transpires. The Vatican is a sovereign state, and by entering Vatican territory, Nuzzi and Fittipaldi could well be detained by Vatican gendarmes given the grave accusations against them. But neither expected the Vatican would take that route, given the diplomatic incident it would set off with Italy.
“This is a trial against freedom of the press,” Fittipaldi said in an interview at his offices in the headquarters of Rome’s La Repubblica newspaper. “In no other part of the world, at least in the part of the world that considers itself democratic, is there a crime of a scoop, a crime of publishing news.”
By Rosie Scammell | Religion News Service November 23
VATICAN CITY — A trial due to open at the Vatican this week is drawing widespread condemnation as an attack on press freedom, as two journalists risk lengthy jail sentences for publishing leaked documents.
“It is one thing for the Vatican to try to protect itself from this scandal. But penalizing its exposure by journalists whose only sin was to do some investigative reporting cannot be tolerated,” said Alexandra Geneste, head of Reporters Without Borders’ EU-Balkans office, in a statement.
The doors of the Vatican’s criminal court will open on Tuesday (Nov. 24) for the start of an unprecedented trial that will be a significant test for the Holy See’s justice system. The case centers on documents allegedly stolen from the Vatican, in addition to other information that was illicitly shared with outsiders.
The Holy See secrets were laid bare in two books released earlier this month: “Merchants in the Temple” by Gianluigi Nuzzi and “Avarice” by Emiliano Fittipaldi. They explore Pope Francis’ struggle to reform the murky Vatican finances. They depict a Vatican plagued by mismanagement, greed and corruption, where Pope Francis faces stiff resistance to his reform agenda.
Sydney Morning Herald
November 24, 2015
A paedophile priest recorded "hot" confessions with children, showed students a dead body and carried a gun at school, the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sex Abuse has heard.
The royal commission has resumed in Melbourne and has turned its focus to historic child sex offences committed by clergy from the mid 1980s to 1996.
The hearing was told on Tuesday that the Catholic Church paid out more than $16.8 million in compensation to child abuse victims in Melbourne between January 1980 and February 2015.
In her opening address, counsel assisting the commission, Gail Furness, SC, said new data showed 454 people made a claim or substantiated complaint about child sex against priests, religious employees and volunteers during this period.
There were 316 claims that resulted in compensation – an average of $52,000 each. Most of the claims (335) were against priests, with most alleged abuse taking place at local parishes and schools.
A Melbourne pedophile priest used confession to get absolution for his crimes. Then he laughed.
The priest found out his victim had told Father Philip O'Donnell about the abuse.
He turned up at 8am the next day, sat down and then dropped on his knees and went into confessional mode, Mr O'Donnell said.
"I gave absolution, and as he walked out the door he laughed at me. In other words, he had made sure that I couldn't speak to anyone," the former priest told the child abuse royal commission on Tuesday.
"I felt totally entrapped by that situation; that he had found out that I'd been told, he came to me, put himself in a confessional situation that therefore took me out.
The Catholic Church in Rome pulled the strings and told Australian parishes how to handle child sex abuse complaints, a former priest says.
Frank Little, who was archbishop of Melbourne from 1974 and 1996, would try everything to avoid scandal and was particularly loyal to Rome, former priest Philip O'Donnell has told the child abuse royal commission.
'I personally think he had a misplaced loyalty to Rome when faced with the dilemma of how to handle this particular problem, and he made the wrong decision,' Mr O'Donnell told the inquiry on Tuesday.
'I don't think there's much doubt that Rome pulled the strings and instructed various parishes around Australia, around the world, how to handle the matter,' Mr O'Donnell said.
He said the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith made it clear it was their responsibility to handle abuse complaints, not the local bishop's.
Tuesday 24 November 2015
Not long ago, Tuesday morning’s revelations at the royal commission into institutional responses to child abuse would have made headlines round the world. Priest after priest in the Melbourne archdiocese of the Catholic church was caught abusing children. And for decades bishop after bishop ignored these crimes.
The priests were caught abusing as soon as they left the seminary. They kept abusing despite “treatment” and despite being shifted from parish to parish. The church knew what was going on and for a very long time no one called the police.
But Melbourne fits the now familiar pattern of the Catholic world. Gail Furness SC, piling up the numbers in her dry opening address to the 35th case study of the royal commission, might have been talking of Chicago, Brussels or Caracas.
In Melbourne, eight notorious priests have since the 1950s provoked multiple claims by 454 victims. What sets the city apart from cities in Europe and America is how little the church has had to pay. Furness puts the bill for damages plus legal and medical costs at not quite $18m.
But claims are still coming.
Before the day began, the atmosphere in the foyer of the Melbourne county court was strangely cheerful. So much pain and so many years have brought victims to this place, but they meet on these occasions as old friends.
Many priests are dysfunctional and sexually immature, a former priest says in trying to explain why so many clergy are pedophiles.
Many priests struggle with celibacy, said Philip O'Donnell, a Melbourne priest from 1975 to 1999 who noted that over a period of three decades the 26 in his seminary year had whittled down to two priests.
"I personally believe mandatory celibacy isn't a gift. It's an imposition," he told the child abuse royal commission on Tuesday.
"Although it's accepted by priests as a condition of ministry, I think there's a significant number of priests who don't embrace it and find the celibate life particularly difficult.
The sexual abuse was the devil's way of punishing the boy for his sins, pedophile priest Peter Searson told his victim.
Searson abused the altar boy for six months from 1978, on Saturday mornings when the nine-year-old washed the Melbourne priest's car for 50 cents and mowed the lawn.
BVD was already scared of Searson, who even a fellow priest described as a bizarre human being, but his devout Catholic mum told him to do the job.
He couldn't tell anyone.
'Searson threatened me, saying I would go to hell if I told anyone, that the devil was punishing me for my sins and this is how he was doing it, that if I told anyone, I'd be taken away from my family and sent to a child's camp,' BVD told the child abuse royal commission.
'I was terrified.'
Sydney Morning Herald
November 24, 2015
Top church officials in Rome called the shots on how to deal with child sex abuse cases involving Catholic clergy in Melbourne, the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sex Abuse has heard.
Former Melbourne priest Philip O'Donnell testified on Tuesday that he believed Australian archbishops were under strict instructions about how to handle child abuse allegations.
"I don't think there's much doubt that Rome pulled the strings and instructed various bishops around Australia and around the world how to handle the matter," he said.
"The consistency of the response from diocese to diocese … I just heard bishop after bishop say the same phrases and it just – you just started to see there was a common script, in my opinion, on how the matter was being dealt with."
Mr O'Donnell said the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith made it clear it was their responsibility to handle abuse complaints and that former Archbishop Frank Little had "misplaced loyalty" to Rome when faced with how to deal with the sex abuse scandal.
Vatican City (AFP) - Two journalists and three Vatican officials go on trial Tuesday over the publication of classified documents in a case critics have attacked as having a whiff of the inquisition.
All five accused face potential jail time of up to eight years for obtaining and disclosing confidential papers "concerning the fundamental interests of the Vatican State".
The unprecedented prosecution of journalists -- who say they were only doing their job -- is being pursued under punitive legislation introduced in 2013.
The law was rushed through a year after Pope Benedict XVI's butler leaked damaging information about Vatican in-fighting which plunged the Holy See into crisis and, it is widely believed, contributed to the pontiff's decision to retire.
Spanish priest Lucio Angel Vallejo Balda, Italian PR expert Francesca Chaouqui and a third Vatican official, Nicola Maio, are charged with criminal association in order to obtain the documents and then divulging them to the press.
Journalists Gianluigi Nuzzi and Emiliano Fittipaldi are accused of illegal disclosure and putting pressure on the Vatican officials, particularly Vallejo Balda, to obtain documents which they used as material for books depicting financial irregularities and uncontrolled spending in the Holy See.
Vienna, Nov 24 (IANS/AKI) The Vatican should drop an imminent trial of two Italian journalists who published stolen confidential documents in new exposes of graft and financial mismanagement at the Holy See, a Vienna-based watchdog has said.
"Journalists must be free to report on public interests and to protect their confidential sources," the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE)'s media freedom envoy Dunja Mijatovic said on Monday.
"I call on the authorities not to proceed with the charges and protect journalists' rights in accordance with OSCE commitments," Mijatovic added.
The Holy See is one of the 57 members of OSCE, a Vienna-based European security and democracy watchdog.
Two journalists, Emiliano Fittipaldi and Gianluigi Nuzzi are facing charges over books both published based on leaked confidential documents exposing alleged corruption and mismanagement of tens of millions of Euros belonging to Vatican funds.
Over the weekend, the Vatican announced that it was moving ahead with charges against the two journalists and former insiders - Monsignor Lucio Angel Vallejo Balda, Francesca Chaouqui, an Italian PR executive and laywoman, and Nicola Maio, another Vatican employee.
Following the passing of law by Pope Francis in 2013 that makes stealing of confidential documents a criminal offence, the two journalists could face up to eight years imprisonment if found guilty.
This decision by the Vatican is being seen as having a detrimental effect on journalists and may create tensions between Italy and the Vatican.
Sydney Morning Herald
November 24, 2015
Legal affairs, health and science reporter
The Catholic Church has not ruled out blocking compensation claims for child sexual abuse if it occurred before certain time limits.
The church's Truth, Justice and Healing Council released a set of guidelines for the way it deals with survivors' civil claims ahead of a royal commission hearing on the Melbourne Archdiocese's handling of historic abuse on Tuesday.
The guidelines – which church lawyers helped draft - reveal for the first time how it intends to deal with legal defences which survivors consider to be the biggest barriers to obtaining compensation from the church.
Most states and territories have laws that allow the church to block civil claims for child abuse in court if they were made beyond certain time limits. Victoria last year abolished statutes of limitation for child abuse, largely because survivors typically take decades to disclose their abuse.
Religious people must stop ignoring the faults in their faith, says Tom Elliott.
The 3AW phone lines rang hot after Tom launched into a passionate editorial about the serious problems the world faces and their links to religion.
Tom referred to harrowing testimony presented at the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Childhood Sexual Abuse today.
"There's something about the Catholic Church and its insistence upon celibacy for its priests and its secrecy, it's covering up - over not just years but decades of complaints - it says to me that there is something wrong with not just a few individuals but the structure of various churches themselves."
"I believe at the root of it lies the fact that some people do not want to hear the possibility that their religion is flawed."
The Catholic Church plans to make it a requirement for dioceses or religious orders to help sex abuse claimants identify who they should sue if they want take legal action.
The requirement is contained in guidelines published on Monday by the Truth, Justice and Healing Council and have been endorsed by the Church leadership.
They will come into effect from January 1.
The council says they are designed to promote ‘justice and consistency’ in the way the church handles child sexual abuse claims and conducts litigation when taken to court.
A recurring problem identified by the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse had been the difficulty experienced by child abuse survivors in identifying a correct defendant when it came to legal proceedings.
The inquiry into child sexual abuse has heard that a Melbourne pedophile priest showed children a body in a coffin, carried a gun to school and held a knife against a child's chest.
Father Peter Searson was described by a fellow priest as a bizarre human being who the commission heard indecently assaulted a girl during confession.
Former priest Philip O'Donnell told the commission that Sunbury parish nuns told him Searson took children into his room for sex education.
November 23, 2015
Tuesday 24 November 2015
A victim of child sexual abuse at the hands of a Melbourne priest, Peter Searson, has told a royal commission that he now sits at home in the dark with the door locked because it is the only place he feels safe.
The victim, identified only as BVD, said the abuse had begun when he was about nine years old in 1978, while he was serving as an altar boy at the Our Lady of Carmel parish in Sunbury. Searson was the parish priest and BVD was ordered to mow his lawn and wash his car.
“He was a very scary man and and very intimidating, with a gaze that would just pierce you like he was looking right through you,” BVD told the royal commission into institutional responses into child sexual abuse in Melbourne on Tuesday.
“I was very submissive as a child and I was very scared of Searson.”
Searson would order BVD to come inside with him every Saturday after he had finished washing his car, he said, and the priest’s behaviour progressed from drying BVD’s genitals to raping him.
In 2002, child abuse survivor Phil Saviano blew the lid off the Catholic clergy abuse by coming forward to the Boston Globe. Saviano joins us, along with actor Neal Huff who portrays him in the new film, "Spotlight," to tell his story.
MELBOURNE’s Catholic Church has paid almost $17 million in compensation to 316 victims of child sexual abuse since 1980, new figures have revealed.
In that time 454 people have complained of being sexually abused by priests, religious, employees and volunteers within the Archdiocese of Melbourne.
Eighty-eight per cent of complaints related to incidents between 1950 to 1989, while the 1970s was the worst decade of abuse.
Of the complaints, 316 resulted in monetary compensation with victims receiving, on average, about $52,000.
The figures were revealed at the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse which is probing the Archdiocese’s handling of abuse cases.
A Melbourne parish priest had showers with a boy he was obsessed with, an inquiry has heard.
Former priest Philip O'Donnell says the boy told him Gladstone Park parish priest Father Wilfred "Bill" Baker taught him how to drive with the boy sitting on his lap and showered with him.
"I just thought it was utterly inappropriate for an adult male, particularly a parish priest, to be showering with a young lad," Mr O'Donnell told the child abuse royal commission on Tuesday.
Then archbishop Frank Little did not believe the allegation when the boy's parents complained in 1978, Mr O'Donnell said.
The Catholic Church did nothing to protect children from a Melbourne priest who abused more than 50 children, an inquiry has heard.
More than 450 children have been sexually abused in the Archdiocese of Melbourne, mainly by priests, the child abuse royal commission says.
Counsel assisting the commission Gail Furness SC says the church has paid a total of $16.8 million to 454 people since 1980, once treatment, legal and other costs are taken into account.
The highest number of complaints – 56 – were against Kevin O’Donnell, the parish priest at Sacred Heart Parish in Oakleigh.
EXTENT OF CHILD SEX ABUSE IN MELBOURNE ARCHDIOCESE REVEALED
HOW MANY WERE ABUSED?
* 454 made claims since 1980
* Against priests, religious, employees and volunteers
* Most abuse happened 1950-1989
* A third happened in 1970s
* Nearly all offenders men (eight per cent women)
HOW MUCH HAS CATHOLIC CHURCH PAID OUT?
* $12.8m in compensation for 316 claims
* $16.8m in total including treatment, legal and other costs
* Average $52,000 per claimant
WHAT ABOUT ABUSE BY PRIESTS ONLY?
* 335 people abused by priests
* Seven priests had more than 10 complaints each
* Most abuse happened at parishes and schools
* Highest number of complaints (56) against Oakleigh parish priest Kevin O'Donnell
WHAT HAS CHURCH PAID FOR PRIESTS' ABUSE?
* 14 civil claims; compensation paid in half
* $1.9m total for civil claims - average almost $270,000
* $12.9m total for 277 complaints through church's Melbourne Response claims handling process - average $46,000
SOURCE: Child abuse royal commission data on claims and substantiated complaints received by Archdiocese of Melbourne between January 1980-February 28, 2015.
More than 450 people have made sexual abuse claims or substantiated complaints against Archdiocese of Melbourne priests, employees or volunteers since 1980, an inquiry has heard.
At a public hearing in Melbourne, the Royal Commission into Institutional Response to Child Sexual Abuse said it had collected data on the conduct of Catholic priests that has never before been made public.
Senior Counsel Assisting Gail Furness, SC, said the royal commission conducted a survey of all Catholic Church authorities in Australia.
Most of the complaints against the Melbourne Archdiocese were about incidents that were alleged to have happened between 1950 and 1989.
Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse
The Royal Commission will hold a public hearing in Melbourne from Tuesday 24 November 2015 commencing at 10:00am AEDT.
The hearing will start at 10:00am AEDT.
The public hearing will inquire into the response of the Catholic Archdiocese of Melbourne to allegations of child sexual abuse.
Monday 23 November 2015
More than 450 people made claims and substantiated complaints of child sexual abuse against priests, religious employees and volunteers working within the Catholic archdiocese of Melbourne between January 1980 and February 2015, it has been revealed.
The child sexual abuse royal commission made the data public for the first time as its 35th case study began before Victoria’s county court on Tuesday, which is focusing on the conduct of eight priests within the archdiocese.
Counsel assisting the inquiry, Gail Furness, said in her opening address the data was the result of a comprehensive survey of all Catholic church authorities in Australia.
The survey revealed that when taking into account treatment, legal and other costs, the church paid $16.8m to 316 of the 454 victims at an average of about $52,000 each claimant, either from a civil claim or through the Melbourne Response, which was the internal method of handling sexual abuse cases by the archdiocese.
Over the next two weeks in Melbourne, the commission’s hearings will focus on the conduct and abuse at the hands of priests Nazareno Fasciale, Kevin O’Donnell, Ronald Pickering, Wilfred Baker, Peter Searson, David Daniel, Desmond Gannon and Barry Robinson.
November 23, 2015
St. Paul News Conference Tuesday
Five St. John’s Abbey Priest Files to be Released Tuesday
Files include: Richard Eckroth, Thomas Gillespie, Francis Hoefgen, Finian McDonald and Bruce Wollmering
What: At a news conference on Tuesday in St. Paul attorney Jeff Anderson will:
* Release the files of five St. John’s monks accused of sexually abusing children. Files to be released include Richard Eckroth, Thomas Gillespie, Francis Hoefgen, Finian McDonald and Bruce Wollmering. The files were obtained as part of the Troy Bramlage (Doe 2) settlement earlier this year.
* Discuss the contents of the five priest files. Finian McDonald spent more than 20 years as a counselor at St. John’s where he used his position to prey on and sexually exploit vulnerable students. Bruce Wollmering was part of the counseling staff along with McDonald who also preyed on vulnerable students who sought help. Francis Hoefgen was arrested for sexually assaulting a 17-year-old vulnerable boy in Cold Spring, MN in 1984. In 1996 St. John’s learned of Thomas Gillespie’s sexual abuse of a boy at St. Mary’s in Stillwater, MN approximately 20 years earlier and Richard Eckroth, a serial sexual psychopath abused dozens of St. Johns students, if not more, over his 60+ year career.
* Encourage survivors of these five perpetrators, and others, to come forward before the May 25, 2015 deadline under the Minnesota Child Victims Act.
* Survivor Troy Bramlage will be at the press conference to discuss the file release.
WHEN: Tuesday November 24, 2015 at 1:00 PM CT
WHERE: Jeff Anderson & Associates
366 Jackson Street, Suite 100
St. Paul, MN 55101
NOTES: Copies of the priest files and timelines will be available at the press conference and on our website tomorrow and the event will be live-streamed online with links available at www.andersonadvocates.com.
Contact Jeff Anderson: Office: 651.227.9990 Cell: 612.817.8665
Contact Mike Bryant: Office: 320.259.5414 Cell: 800.359.0061
The Worthy Adversry
Posted by Joelle Casteix on November 23, 2015
Events last week showed that the Vatican has the power to indict foreign journalists … but earlier this year needed to draft new rules in order to indict its own employees for sex abuse.
Let’s take a look. Last week, the Vatican issued indictments against five people, including two journalists, who “leaked documents that informed two books alleging financial malfeasance in the Roman Catholic church bureaucracy.”
The Vatican is seeking jail terms from four to eight years. But when it comes to sexual abuse, the Vatican has said it was “powerless” to police its own employees who are located outside of the Vatican.
Case in point: The cancelled trial of Jozef Wesolowski was going to be a NEW kind of Vatican Tribunal.
According to the New York Times, just this year, the tribunal: drafted new rules giving
prosecutors more leeway in the cases, allowing criminal charges to be applied to Vatican employees anywhere. Wesolowski died before the trial could be completed.
No one else in the global Catholic clergy sex abuse crisis has been indicted by the Vatican.