Abuse Tracker
A Blog by Kathy Shaw

BishopAccountability.org – Documenting the Abuse Crisis

June 25, 2019

Embattled Bishop Malone to hold ‘listening session’ Saturday in Olean

Olean Times Herald

June 25, 2019

By Tom Dinki

Following months of criticism, Buffalo Bishop Richard Malone will be in Olean this weekend to listen to parishioners’ concerns about the Catholic Diocese of Buffalo’s clergy sexual abuse crisis.

The “listening session” will be held from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. Saturday at Archbishop Walsh Academy and feature Malone praying with parishioners, hearing their thoughts and comments, and offering summary remarks regarding the mission of the diocese, according to the diocese.

It will be the fourth of seven listening sessions held throughout Western New York over the next two months. The events are a byproduct of Malone’s discussions with The Movement to Restore Trust, an initiative of lay people led by Canisius College President John J. Hurley.

“The 2019 Listening Sessions are designed for the bishop to hear the concerns of the engaged parishioners,” a diocese press release stated, “and for them to offer recommendations for future initiatives regarding pastoral care, spiritual care and ministry.”

How you can help victims of sexual abuse by clergy

Caller Times

June 25, 2019

By Patti Koo

It is always disturbing when an accused cleric tries to claim he is the victim.

Eleanor Dearman’s article, “Third priest accused of sexual abuse files lawsuit against Diocese of Corpus Christi,” correctly reported that Msgr. Jesús García Hernando has never been convicted. However, he was indicted for child sexual abuse in 1996, and also faced a lawsuit by the former altar boy who filed that report and four others.

As Texas leaders for SNAP (Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests), we know that “false” outcries of sexual abuse are very rare. Five “false” allegations against the same clergyman would be virtually impossible. We implore the public to stand on the side of the true victims in these cases.

We also want to thank all those who have come forward, and to tell them to persist in telling their truth. Those who perpetrate child sexual abuse must be held accountable for this criminal behavior. The Catholic Church’s lists have been late in coming but they have had an affirming power. The lists shout to victims, “We listened! You are believed!”

We urge all survivors who were victimized in the Diocese of Corpus Christi or elsewhere to report to law enforcement, no matter how long ago the abuse occurred. Survivors can also contact SNAP (1-877-SNAP-HEALS, http://www.snapnetwork.org/) as they come forward. The closest SNAP leader to Corpus Christ is Patti Koo in San Antonio (snappkoo@gmail.com), where there is a monthly support group meeting.

SNAP is here for you across our great state.

Patti Koo, Canyon Lake

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Law That Heals podcast

Law Office of Patrick Noaker

June 25, 2019

By Tyler Aliperto

Episode 9: David Clohessy, a survivor of clergy sexual abuse and the former national director of SNAP (Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests), joins us again to discuss the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops fixating on “policies, protocols, and procedures” without any “actual day-to-day change in how they behave,” as well as why he thinks Bishops are spending their vast dollars “not to protect kids, not to help victims, but to protect themselves and their reputations and their careers.”

For subtitles, please view this video on our Facebook.


Patheos blog

June 24, 2019

By Msgr. Eric Barr

So they lawyered up. That was the first mistake the bishops made in the sex abuse crisis. Deciding to be CEOs rather than shepherds. Thinking that money would solve what pastoral care would not attempt. Then the leaders of the Church made a second mistake: the bishops broke the foundational sacramental link between a bishop and his priests. What was supposed to be a firm partnership of brothers in ministering to the People of God became a standoff between a boss and his employees. Vatican II saw the priests as the sacramental extension of a bishop’s ecclesiastical shepherding outreach. Instead, they were used as pawns to buttress the wall of defense between a bishop and his people.

The Breaking Of Trust Between Bishop And Priest
To be fair, this split had already been happening for decades in the Catholic Church of the U.S.A. But it was exacerbated by the sex abuse crisis. What should have been a cooperative united attempt to heal a Church reeling from the crisis in authority occurring because of sexual abuse, became instead a circling of the wagons by the chancery, with the priests left to fend for themselves.

Priests were supposed to trust that their bishop had their backs, that the bishop would support and lift up his priests in times of crisis. The bishops did not desert the priests out of malice; rather, they fled from their priests out of fear. The laity mistakenly believed the bishops were defending priests by hiding the predators among them. Not so. They were trying to pretend those bad priests did not exist. The bishops did this to protect themselves. Now they went to the other extreme. As the crisis grew, the bishops willingly threw away the innocent as well as the guilty. There was a presumption that an allegation against a priest was true until it was proven false.

The Problem With Zero Tolerance
The bishops imposed a zero tolerance policy, which at the time made perfect sense. Sexual abuse was a heinous offense and though it came in different guises, it was bad and had to be punished. Just like a plague would be quarantined, bishops felt the contagion of sexual abuse needed similar draconian action. It is an effective way to stop an evil, but its take no prisoners attitude caused unforseen damage. In hindsight, zero tolerance, still in effect throughout the Catholic world, did and continues to do several terrible things:

First, it brands all sexual abuse as equal. Inappropriate words, conversations, touching, sexual contact, rape, pedophilia–all these were de facto considered the same offense. Understandably so, as the Church reacted to its previous denial of any type of crime inherent in these activities. But with time, new understandings have appeared. There are different levels of sexual abuse, some much more serious than others. But the penalties remain equal–total suspension of priestly ministry.

Former Savannah priest admits to abusing boys, dies in prison


June 25, 2019

Instead of guiding children in their faith, a Savannah priest sexually abused them.

Now, the man behind those crimes is dead. Wayland Brown died in a South Carolina prison on June 8.

Officials with the Department of Corrections call his death “expected” and said there was “no foul play” involved.

Brown admitted back in October of 2018 to sexually abusing two boys — Alan Ranta and Chris Templeton — back in the early 1980s when he was a priest in the Savannah Diocese and at St. James School.

He was brought to South Carolina early that year to face criminal charges. Because of the laws in Georgia, he could not be criminally prosecuted there.

But by bringing the boys across state lines, to various areas of Hardeeville where he molested them, prosecutors were able to file charges against him.

Brown pleaded guilty in a Beaufort County courtroom and was sentenced to 20 years behind bars. He only served a little more than 8 months.

Lawsuit reveals details about Paige Patterson’s ‘break her down’ meeting with woman alleging campus rape

Baptist News Global

June 24, 2019

By Bob Allen

Details behind the “break her down” comment cited by trustee leaders in last year’s firing of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary President Paige Patterson emerge in a lawsuit now pending in federal court.

A lawsuit in the Sherman Division of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas initiated March 12 and unsealed June 6 claims the Southern Baptist Convention seminary in Fort Worth, Texas, “had a custom of ignoring female students’ complaints of sexual harassment and stalking behavior by male student-employees.”

A former student using the pseudonym Jane Roe claims a seminary student also employed as a plumber on campus began stalking her soon after she enrolled in Southwestern Seminary as an undergraduate student in the fall of 2014. She told one of her professors, the lawsuit claims, who replied the young man could come and talk to the professor any time he wanted.

The man allegedly showed her a gun and told her not to say anything while raping her for the first time in October 2014. Subsequent attacks became physically brutal, the woman says, and twice he forced her to take a “morning after pill” – a form of contraception not covered by SBC insurance plans because the denomination’s leaders view it as morally equivalent to abortion.

'There is no denying the existence of sexual abuse in the African Church'

La Croix International

June 25, 2019

By Lucie Sarr

Sister Solange Sahon Sia is a member of the Congregation of Our Lady of Calvary. She is a theologian and director of the Centre for the Protection of Minors and Vulnerable Persons, which opened in March at the Catholic Missionary Institute of Abidjan. The institute is based in Abidjan, the thriving commercial hub in the West African nation of Ivory Coast.

In this interview with La Croix Africa, Sister Solange talks about abuse in the Catholic Church and society.

La Croix Africa: What is the reason for the opening of a Centre for the Protection of Minors and Vulnerable Persons at the Catholic Missionary Institute of Abidjan?

Sister Solange Sahon Sia: It is a way of finding an answer to a problem that is quite absent in the Church's mission.That is, to think of a new form of evangelization that can be called the evangelization of consciences. The center tries, through training, awareness-raising, listening and accompaniment, to help the local Church in its mission to protect minors and vulnerable people.

New Disturbing Details Emerge From Josh Duggar's Multiple Scandals

CafeMom blog

June 24, 2019

By Jenny Erikson

Well, this is upsetting. A former member of the Duggar family's church in the early 2000s has come forward with disturbing details about how the family allegedly handled Josh Duggar's molestation scandal when he was a teenager, and they're pretty horrifying. In 2015, a police report was uncovered that revealed that Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar's eldest child had allegedly molested four of his younger sisters and an underage family friend when he was a young teen.

A source told Radar Online that Jim Bob and Michelle tried to "hide" the scandal.

The insider, who claims to have been a part of the church that met in the Duggar's home in the early 2000s, told the site that the family tried to cover up that Josh had confessed to molesting five young girls. The source explained, "Older men within the church immediately jumped in to help Jim Bob hide everything as much as possible. They all tried to hire lawyers to keep Josh's touching of younger girls under wraps."

The church members were allegedly told to keep quiet, and Jim Bob and Michelle reportedly tried "desperately" to "make sure no one ever heard about this."

Column: CPS and sex abuse: Lessons from the Catholic Church

Chicago Tribune

June 24, 2019

By Kristen McQueary

Legislation tightening reporting requirements for school districts implicated in child sex abuse cases is awaiting Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s signature. Following the Tribune’s “Betrayed” series last year, which revealed rampant, hidden sex abuse and assault incidents within Chicago Public Schools, lawmakers passed a bill requiring more reporting and information-sharing for all schools.

It’s a solid step forward.

But it’s also important to contextualize what led to the changes in state law. Former Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Chicago Public Schools officials for months fought records requests from Tribune reporters on sexual assaults within schools. CPS only relented under threat of a lawsuit. It’s important to remember that the documents City Hall and CPS eventually provided were heavily, ridiculously, redacted. It was not an exercise in protecting students. It was an exercise in CYA. Reporters strung together police records, court files, other public documents and interviews to compile a database of abuse allegations, without the dutiful or transparent assistance of CPS, a taxpayer-funded agency.

It is most important to remember the gross, indefensible number of victims: Police investigated 523 reports that children were sexually assaulted or abused inside city public schools from 2008 to 2017, or an average of one report each week. More than 500 cases, shrouded in secrecy. Without the diligence of journalists, those cases might have stayed buried. That’s what City Hall hoped.

SNAP Supports Action taken by Bishop Joseph Bambera in Scranton

Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests

June 25, 2019

We are grateful that Scranton's bishop is sticking by his guns and banning his disgraced predecessor from public ministry. By keeping Bishop Emeritus James C. Timlin away from the public during the past weekend of confirmation ceremonies in Scranton, Bishop Joseph Bambera is taking a small step on behalf of the wounded survivors and betrayed Catholics in his diocese.

It is likely that Bishop Bambera felt pressure from some to let Bishop Timlin help this month in the customary way with confirmations. But Timlin stayed on the sidelines, and we believe that is best for all concerned. And it sent an all-too-rare message to other clerics - if you ignore or conceal child sex abuse, you can no longer assume that your colleagues will look the other way.

We are grateful to Bishop Bambera for his small actions this past weekend and hope his display will inspire other church officials to follow in his footsteps when dealing with similar situations in their own dioceses.

Independent group applauds bishop's appointment to diocese finance council

Buffalo News

June 24, 2019

By Harold McNeil

An independent organization of Buffalo Catholics is applauding the appointments of a new chairman and three lay people to the finance council of the Buffalo Diocese.

Members of the Movement to Restore Trust, which seeks to restore trust in the church in the wake of the clergy sex abuse scandal, praised the appointments as a step toward increased "financial transparency."

Malone recently named James J. Beardi, president and CEO of M&T Bank's mortgage banking subsidiary, as chairman of the diocese's finance council. Also appointed to the council were Carrie B. Frank, principal at Frank Executive Solutions; Maureen Ludwig, managing director of state regulatory matters for Deloitte LLP; and Frederick G. Attea, senior counsel with Phillips Lytle.

Review finds Archdiocese of Chicago needs stronger policies to report ‘grooming’ behavior

Chicago Tribune

June 24, 2019

By Elvia Malagon

An independent review of Archdiocese of Chicago policies on child sexual abuse found that church officials needed to improve how they spot, report and discipline “boundary violations” and other behavior that could lead to abuse.

The archdiocese announced the report’s findings Monday while Cardinal Blase Cupich met with the Chicago Tribune Editorial Board to discuss the ongoing scandal of sexual abuse in the Roman Catholic Church. The archdiocese shared a summary of the report, but it did not include the full review authored by Monica Applewhite, a Texas-based expert in abuse prevention.

Applewhite found that the archdiocese needed to improve how it responds to, investigates and documents “boundary violations and other risky behavior that often precede misconduct,” according to a archdiocese statement on the review.

While such behavior is addressed in the archdiocese’s code of conduct, Applewhite said it should be a strictly enforced policy rather than an educational guideline. Her recommendations included creating more guidance for how to report such behavior, and to outline what consequences someone would face if he or she didn’t comply.

Applewhite said identifying boundary violations — such as giving special treatment to a child or allowing him or her to break a rule — is important because the abuse of children usually doesn’t happen suddenly. Instead, perpetrators often establish a relationship with the child before the abuse starts, actions sometimes referred to as grooming.

“They are going to get closer and closer to a child and then cross that boundary once they establish that relationship,” Applewhite said.

She reviewed the policies and forms used by the archdiocese and gave church officials a list of recommendations, Applewhite said. The archdiocese said officials are “working to implement her suggestions.”

Whitmer signs supplemental spending bill worth more than $28 million

Michigan Public Radio

June 25, 2019

By Chenya Roth

Governor Gretchen Whitmer has signed a spending bill worth more than $28 million.

The money will be distributed to a variety of areas. That includes funding for implementing parts of the new Lead and Copper Rule for drinking water. The $3 million for the Lead and Copper Rule will be used for things like water filters and drinking water investigations in homes.

The money is also being used for the Double Up Food Bucks program and the state’s Wrongful Imprisonment Compensation fund.

The state Attorney General’s office will also get some money to help with a major, statewide investigation. Attorney General Dana Nessel has been looking into every Catholic Diocese in the state for potential physical and sexual abuse by clergy. So far, the office has charged five current and former priests.

Now the office will get an additional $635,000 to use for that work.

“The clergy abuse investigation touches every corner of the state, and we are the voice of the victims, and are working hard to ensure that when they report tips to us that we thoroughly investigate them,” said Nessel spokeswoman, Kelly Rossman-McKinney.

The full spending plan for the 2019 to 2020 spending year has yet to be completed, and its September 30th deadline is fast approaching. In a statement, Whitmer chastised the Legislature for effectively breaking for the summer without finalizing the budget.

Largest N.M. Diocese Files for Bankruptcy in Wake Of Sex Abuse Claims

Inside Sources blog

June 25, 2019

By Hiram Reisner

New Mexico’s largest Roman Catholic diocese is facing nearly 400 claims of sexual abuse as part of a pending bankruptcy filing in the wake of the clergy sex abuse scandal.

Meanwhile, The Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests (SNAP) says it finds it unjust that a Roman Catholic archdiocese can file for bankruptcy on a timetable in the first place.

The Archdiocese of Santa Fe filed for Chapter 11 reorganization last year, claiming diminished resources due to payments already made to victims. The archdiocese reported that 395 people filed claims against the church as of the June 17, 2019 bankruptcy filing deadline, including 374 claims involving sexual abuse allegations. The remaining 21 were connected to other complaints.

When it first announced its decision to file for reorganization, the archdiocese said it had already paid out $52 million in insurance money and its own funds to settle 300 previously filed claims. At least 78 clergy members were “credibly accused” of sexually abusing children, according to a an archdiocese list released last year.

At the time, Archbishop John Wester said more charges were likely and reorganization would be the best option to protect diminishing church assets.

“We are hopeful that mediation among the survivors’ committee, insurers, archdiocese and other parties will result in a consensus to provide as equitable a resolution for each and every claimant,” the archdiocese said in a statement last week before the June 17 deadline. “The archdiocese will continue to work closely with the committee and other parties to ensure the most expeditious and fair resolution as possible.”

The diocese declined repeated requests for comment.

Priests from around the country were sent to the state to get treatment for pedophilia, causing New Mexico to become a center for an expansive list of child abuse cases. Church documents, legal filings and testimony from victims, show the priests were later sent to parishes and schools across the state.

Resolving the bankruptcy case could be a long process, as lawyers will have to collect more information about the archdiocese’s finances to verify how much is available to divide among those who filed claims.

The archdiocese, the oldest in New Mexico, declared in the original bankruptcy filing it had nearly $50 million in assets, including real estate worth more than $31 million. The archdiocese also noted it had more than $57 million in property being held in trust for a number of parishes, and that property transfers worth an additional $34 million were completed over the past couple of years.

The actual number of people harmed by priest abuse in New Mexico is probably much larger than 400, says Albuquerque lawyer Levi Monagle, who is working with Brad D. Hall — an attorney who has been representing victims in New Mexico for more than 30 years.

“To have nearly 400 claims in an area as sparsely populated as the Archdiocese of Santa Fe is a testament to the depth of the crisis here,” Monagle told InsideSources. “It is a testament to the disproportionate suffering of New Mexican victims and their families and communities, and it puts the onus firmly on the archdiocese to confess and repent for the extent of its wrongdoing over the past 70-plus years.”

The claims filed will be sealed and remain confidential unless the claimant indicates he or she wants their information released. However, church documents related to abuse cases could be made public, and lawyers for some of the survivors hope the documents will reveal what has previously been a guarded process.

Michael Norris, SNAP’s Houston director, says the manner abuse cases were handled in New Mexico was “absurd” as was the Archdiocese of Santa Fe claiming bankruptcy. New Mexico currently comes under SNAP’s Houston jurisdiction.

June 24, 2019

Australians begin ‘ad limina’ visits acknowledging impact of crisis

Catholic News Service

June 24, 2019

By Cindy Wooden

The president of the Australian bishops’ conference told his fellow bishops that it is “a time of humiliation” for Catholic Church leaders, but he is convinced that God is still at work.

As church leaders continue to face the reality of the clerical sexual abuse crisis and attempts to cover it up, “we as bishops have to discover anew how small we are and yet how grand is the design into which we have been drawn by the call of God and his commissioning beyond our betrayals,” said Archbishop Mark Coleridge of Brisbane, conference president.

After a weeklong retreat near Rome, the bishops of Australia began their “ad limina” visits to the Vatican with Mass June 24 at the tomb of St. Peter and a long meeting with Pope Francis.

The 38-member group included diocesan bishops, auxiliary bishops, the head of the ordinariate for former Anglicans and a diocesan administrator.

Archbishop Coleridge was the principal celebrant and homilist for the Mass in the grotto of St. Peter’s Basilica marking the formal beginning of the visit.

The “ad limina” visit is a combination pilgrimage — with Masses at the basilicas of St. Peter, St. Mary Major and St. Paul Outside the Walls — and series of meetings with Pope Francis and with the leaders of many Vatican offices to share experiences, concerns and ideas.

Healing From Religious Trauma, part 1

The Rapidian

June 24, 2019

By Rabbi David J.B. Krishef

Lorri R. asks: “How should a person find healing if they were traumatized during early childhood religious experiences either by sexual abuse in the church, by overly strict practices, or by persistent shaming and humiliation?”

Here is one set of responses. I’ll have a second set of responses in a couple of weeks.

Fred Stella, the Pracharak (Outreach Minister) for the West Michigan Hindu Temple, responds:

“I would certainly recommend counseling, but I’d be very circumspect in choosing a therapist. I think it’s wise to have someone who not only has the appropriate credentials but also specializes in this sort of issue. I wouldn’t want someone who was completely opposed to organized religion. There are also plenty of support groups out there for people who endured one or more of the very painful abuses you outlined. Again, some of these programs are designed for people as an entire exit from religion. If that is what one is looking for then by all means seek them out. However, I know there are others who have not given up on seeking the Transcendent in some form, yet have come to realize the toxicity of their upbringing.

Administrator named for Lyon as cardinal appeals conviction

Catholic News Service

June 24, 2019

By Cindy Wooden

Pope Francis has named a retired bishop to serve as apostolic administrator of the Archdiocese of Lyon, France, three months after refusing to accept the resignation of Cardinal Philippe Barbarin.

In early March, a French court gave the 68-year-old cardinal a six-month suspended sentence after finding him guilty of covering up sexual abuse by a priest.

The Vatican announced June 24 that Pope Francis had appointed retired Bishop Michel Dubost of Evry-Corbeil-Essonnes, France, to serve as apostolic administrator "sede plena," meaning Bishop Dubost will be in charge of the archdiocese while Cardinal Barbarin retains the title of archbishop.

Although Cardinal Barbarin's lawyers had announced almost immediately that their client would appeal his conviction, the cardinal came to Rome in March and personally asked Pope Francis to accept his resignation.

After meeting the pope, the cardinal said Pope Francis, "invoking the presumption of innocence," declined to accept his resignation before the appeal was heard.

Support group adds to name change calls

Otago Times

June 24, 2019

By Chris Morris

An international support group for survivors abused by priests has joined calls for Dunedin's Kavanagh College to be renamed.

The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP) has launched a New Zealand chapter headed by Dr Christopher Longhurst, a Wellington-based abuse survivor and Catholic Institute academic.

The group - representing more than 25,000 survivors and supporters internationally - aimed to support those abused in all faith-based settings.

Dr Longhurst told ODT Insight that would include survivors in Otago and Southland, and he had already discussed the name change issue with the Roman Catholic Bishop of Dunedin, the Most Rev Michael Dooley.

Change was needed and the focus should be on the symbolic meaning behind such a move, which would be "immensely healing" for survivors, he said.

However, opinions differed among some Dunedin-based survivors.

One, Michael Chamberlain, said a name change would support those targeted by a cluster of paedophiles operating within the diocese during Bishop John Kavanagh's time.

That included the former priest and convicted paedophile Magnus Murray - jailed in 2003 and defrocked earlier this year - but also other offenders, he said.

Bishop Dooley's decision to call in the National Office of Professional Standards (NOPS) instead was "quite incredible", Mr Chamberlain said.

"What we have got is the church investigating the church," he said.

Dr Murray Heasley, a spokesman for the Network for Survivors of Abuse in Faith-based Institutions, agreed.

He believed NOPS had been called in at the insistence of the New Zealand Catholic Bishops Conference, which was "well aware" many witnesses were dead or remained reluctant to speak.

Thinking about married priests: Has this issue outgrown old 'left' vs. 'right' framework?

Get Religion blog

June 23, 2019

By Terry Mattingly

Long ago — in the mid-1980s — I covered an event in Denver that drew quite a few conservative Catholic leaders. There was lots of time to talk, in between sessions.

During one break, I asked a small circle of participants to tell me what they thought were the biggest challenges facing the Catholic church. This was about the time — more than 30 years ago — laypeople people began talking about the surge in reports about clergy sexual abuse of children and teens.

Someone said the biggest challenge — looking into the future with a long lens — was the declining number of men seeking the priesthood. At some point, he added, the church would need to start ordaining married men to the priesthood. Others murmured agreement.

I made a mental note. This was the first time I had ever heard Catholic conservatives — as opposed to spirit of Vatican II progressives or ex-priests — say that they thought the Church of Rome would need to return to the ancient pattern — with married priests as the norm, and bishops being drawn from among celibate monastics. Since then, I have heard similar remarks from some Catholics on the right.

Indian court acquits Catholic priest accused of rape

Union of Catholic Asia News

June 24, 2019

A court in central India has acquitted a Catholic priest accused of raping a woman in his presbytery after it could not find any merit in the charges filed almost a year ago.
A trial court in Bhopal, the capital of Madhya Pradesh state, acquitted 52-year-old Bhopal archdiocesan Father George Jacob on June 21.

The priest was arrested last Aug. 11 and sent to jail after a middle-aged woman complained that he raped her after inviting her to his presbytery.

The priest was released on bail on Aug. 20 after a medical report found him incapable of performing the sexual act.

The court conducted 10 hearings and examined medical reports, statements of witnesses and
other scientific evidence before acquitting the priest.

Under his bail conditions, the priest visited the court once a month and signed a document.

The archdiocese has welcomed the court’s decision. “From the beginning, we were sure that the priest would be cleared of the charges,” said spokesman Father Maria Stephan.

Inside the mind of the paedophile priest

Crikey Magazine

June 24, 2019

By Suzanne Smith

The hunched, old priest walks briskly through the entrance of the Downing Centre court complex, a former grand department store on the fringes of Sydney’s business district. His eyes look down. A sports cap covers his nearly bald head.

Vince Ryan is one of the worst paedophiles in the history of the Australian Catholic Church. He sexually assaulted at least 37 boys. Most of them were primary school students, some as young as nine years old.

Aged 81, and still officially designated as a priest, he has already served 14 years in jail for his crimes. Last month, on a crisp autumn morning, he’s back in court waiting to find out if he will be sent to jail for more offences committed against two former altar boys in the 1970s and ‘90s.

As Ryan walks towards the court’s security cordon, he is followed by a man shouting obscenities. The word “survivor” is tattooed in black on his right arm. He is agitated, gesticulating towards the priest.

This man is Gerard McDonald. In 1974, he was 10 years old when Ryan abused him twice a week for a year, cornering boys in a church vestry and performing oral sex on them. In 1995, McDonald and another survivor were the first of Ryan’s victim to go to police. Although they won their case in 1996, they have never stopped pursuing the priest who defiled their childhood.

Bishop’s absence prompts changes in confirmation

Citizen Times

June 24, 2019

By Frank Wilkes lesnefsky

In the span of a day, more than 1,200 children throughout the Diocese of Scranton became fully-initiated Catholics after the bishop called on pastors in every parish to administer confirmations.

For the first time, the Very Rev. Joseph C. Bambera, bishop of the Diocese of Scranton, allowed pastors and sacramental ministers to administer the Sacrament of Confirmation on June 9, Pentecost, to youths throughout the diocese’s 118 parishes in order to acclimate congregations to having their pastors administer the ceremony. So far, 64 parishes reported their confirmations to the diocese, totaling 1,196 children, according to diocese spokesman Eric Deabill. That number is expected to grow as more parishes report their numbers.

“This Pentecost, we allowed all of our pastors to have that opportunity and to familiarize their parish with it, and then come next year, I will do the lion’s share of confirmations and be assisted by the pastors in those places where I can’t be,” Bambera said. “We have to ask ourselves, how can we make this a great opportunity for our kids and also something that I can manage to accomplish?”

Former Brisbane priest accused of historical sex charges

Nine News Australia

June 23, 2019

Parishioners have packed the courtroom to support well-known Catholic clergyman is facing allegations dating back to the seventies.

Are demotions enough punishment for priests?

Martinsville Journal

June 23, 2019

So, what about Monsignors Frederick Annie, Anthony Cincinnati and Kevin Quirk? Are demotions enough punishment?

The three were, for years, vicars in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston, under former bishop Michael Bransfield. They enabled some of his misbehavior, according to a report submitted to the Vatican.

And Bransfield misbehaved badly, according to the report. It states he sexually harassed some adults and spent millions of dollars in church money for his own benefit. He retired last year.

Those asking how he got away with it for many years get a partial answer in the church investigators’ report: “Despite witnessing multiple instances of harassing and abusive behavior over several years, none of the Vicars took action to address Bishop Bransfield’s behavior.”

Archbishop William Lori, of Baltimore, was placed in charge of the diocese after Bransfield left. Last week, he revealed Annie, Cincinnati and Quirk have been reassigned — all as parish priests. That’s quite a demotion.

Annie will serve as a priest in Star City, adjacent to Morgantown. Cincinnati goes to a Morgantown parish. Quirk will serve parishes in New Martinsville and Paden City.

Should they have been booted out entirely? I have heard their cases compared to those of predator priests who abused children and, instead of being punished severely — and reported to police — were transferred to other parishes.

Josh Duggar Allegedly Forced to Shave Head by Family Church Following Sex Abuse Scandal

Pop Culture blog

June 23, 2019

By Caitlyn Hitt

Years after a sex scandal threatened to destroy the reality TV empire the Duggar family built, a former fellow churchgoer is speaking out about how Josh Duggar allegedly paid for his sins. Radar Online spoke with the anonymous ex-parishioner, who claims Duggar was punished publicly after it was revealed that he molested several young girls, including a few of his sisters.

The former church member told Radar Online Josh was the only child they recalled "getting publicly in trouble" at the church. According to the insider, the scandal destroyed the church.

"Josh's molestation scandal is burned into my memory because the church fell apart because of it. It was an emotional and confusing day," the source told Radar Online.

A non-Catholic reader struggles with scandal in the Church

Patheos blog

June 24, 2019

By Mark Shea:

Dear Mr. Shea: I know you have heard this a million times, but one things that is giving me hesitancy to become a member of the church is the current corruption of the hierarchy/sex abuse cover up. I understand that these incidents have fallen since 2002, but many of those who protected abusers are in the church. I believe, as an outsider, that Catholic laity should have the ability to be critical of bishops and priests who stray from Catholic teaching.

Understood. A couple of things, simply from the perspective of an ordinary layman:

Catholic laity, especially in the US, are plenty critical of their clergy, right up to the Pope. Some of that criticism is richly deserved and goes, not to bishops but to cops, as it should. The irony of the abuse scandal and the reforms that come from it is that the American Church really has performed a sort of miracle of reform. One lawyer who has prosecuted over 500 suits against the Church (an agnostic, by the way) has argued that the Church’s work in reforming itself in the US should be a model for every institution troubled by sexual abuse (which is essentially every institution that brings adults and children together, since predators are attracted to prey). He has written a book about it: https://amzn.to/2JZkiIO The great irony of the abuse scandal is that the guy who oversaw the reforms and who did a brilliant job of it, as far as they went, was Cardinal McCarrick, who saw to it that a system was put in place that held everybody but himself accountable. It is one of the weirdness of life that a really and truly gifted and competent bureaucrat who knows who to run and reform systems can also be a grave sinner. Given such a task myself, I would have curled up into a fetal position and had no idea where to start, as would most people. This guy knew what he was doing and brought all his skill to bear to really fix a massively broken system—and to cover up his own sins. Weird.

Legal woes continue for Peruvian journalist reporting on lay movement


June 24, 2019

By Elise Harris

Paola Ugaz, a Peruvian journalist currently waiting for a court to recognize the withdrawal of a complaint for criminal defamation brought by an archbishop linked to a controversial lay movement, is now facing a second charge of providing false testimony in another case brought by the same prelate.

Archbishop Jose Antonio Eguren Anselmi of Piura has promised to retract his complaint against Ugaz, but she’s now under investigation by the criminal court of Piura for impeding “the administration of justice” during a similar defamation case against her colleague, Pedro Salinas. Ugaz could face between 2-4 years in prison should she be found guilty of impeding the administration of justice by giving false testimony.

Ugaz co-authored the book Half Monks, Half Soldiers, with Salinas in 2015, detailing years of sexual, psychological and physical abuse inside the Sodalitium Christianae Vitae (SCV), a controversial Catholic organization that originated in Peru. Its founder, layman Luis Fernando Figari, has been accused of physical, psychological and sexual abuses and was prohibited by the Vatican in 2017 of having further contact with members of the group.

In 2018, Eguren Anselmi, who is a member of the SCV, issued criminal defamation complaints against both Salinas and Ugaz, charging Ugaz in part for her role in a 2016 documentary titled “The Sodalitium Scandal” by Al-Jazeera she participated in which named Eguren Anselmi as part of a land trafficking scandal in Piura.

In the documentary, local police official Pedro Zapata, who headed a 2014 investigation that dismantled a criminal outfit group associated with trafficking called “La Gran Cruz del Norte,” said the group’s leader had a voucher in his possession for just over $21,000 from the San Juan Bautista association, which has links to the SCV.

After Salinas was found guilty of defamation in April, Eguren Anselmi opted to retract his complaints after facing backlash from civil society as well as from the hierarchy of the Peruvian Catholic Church.

Diocese in Cleveland releases names of priests accused of sexual abuse

Associated Press

June 23, 2019

A Roman Catholic diocese based in Cleveland has made public a list of 22 previously unnamed priests and other clergy it says have been credibly accused of sexually abusing minors.

The recently-released list contained the names of 21 priests and a deacon, along with those of 29 priests whom the diocese had previously named publicly. Bishop Nelson Perez said in a letter announcing the release that a committee assembled by the diocese determined that the accusations against the clerics were “more likely than not to be true.”

Perez pledged in October to follow the lead of other dioceses and release the names of priests credibly accused of sexual abuse, past and present.

The Cleveland diocese in 2002 began publishing the names of priests who were accused from that year forward.

Presence of disgraced cardinals at ordination of new bishop causes uproar in Chile


June 24, 2019

By Inés San Martín

After Pope Francis accepted the resignation of one of the two newly appointed auxiliary bishops of Santiago, Chile before his episcopal ordination, the second auxiliary’s ordination, in Rome, was tainted by the presence of two disgraced former archbishops of the Chilean capital.

Cardinals Ricardo Ezzati and Francisco Errázuriz, both emeritus archbishops of Santiago who have been subpoenaed by local prosecutors for covering up cases of clerical sexual abuse, attended the episcopal ordination of Alberto Lorenzelli.

During the ordination, presided over by Francis in St. Peter’s Basilica, the pontiff told Lorenzelli that a bishop is a “servant, a shepherd, a father, a brother, never a mercenary.”

Though most of the homily was the same as that suggested in the Missal for episcopal ordinations, the pope added a few comments, urging the new bishops “not to forget your roots, since you were chosen by men, the episcopacy is the name of a service, not an honor, as the task of the bishop is above all to serve, more than to dominate.”

June 23, 2019

Chicago Priest Celebrates Mass, Week After Being Cleared Of Sexual Abuse


June 23, 2019

A priest at Our Lady of Mount Carmel parish in Chicago celebrated Mass for the first time Sunday since being cleared of sexual abuse allegations. He was asked to step aside from his duties in January pending the outcome of the investigation.

Father Patrick Lee was greeted with hugs and a standing ovation during services at the Lake View church, 720 W. Belmont.

Cardinal Blase Cupich said Lee cooperated with civil authorities and the Archdiocese of Chicago during the investigation.

Big applause at Our Lady of Mt. Carmel in Lakeview for return of reinstated Chicago priest Father Patrick Lee. He was asked to step aside in Januray after being accused of child sex abuse. State officials & the archdiocese say claims were determined to be unfounded.

In an email sent last weekend to the Our Lady of Mount Carmel parish, Cupich said:

“These have been difficult days and months for you as a parish. You have shown great patience as each jurisdiction has completed its process. I thank you for doing so. Father Lee has also suffered, as you well know, but he has offered that suffering freely, convinced of the need for us as a Church to keep our word that the protection and safety of our children remains the priority.”

Lee was accused of sexually abusing a minor in 1979 while he was assigned to St. Christopher Parish in Midlothian.

Catholic Church remains committed to accountability, transparency


June 23, 2019

By Bishop Felipe Estevez

Since last August, I have responded to letters from Catholics and members of our community who have voiced their concern for the church’s handling of the sexual abuse crisis.

I have pledged my commitment to transparency and accountability, and I have taken action to ensure there is a full accounting of the diocesan safe environment program, which was initiated in 1989 by Bishop John Snyder.

I had anticipated that a “Report to the Faithful” would be ready for public release by the new year, but in October, Florida’s Attorney General, Pam Bondi, announced her office is investigating the seven dioceses in Florida to ensure the church is properly handling allegations of sexual abuse. The diocese has cooperated fully with the state’s investigation, and the report will be released once the investigation is done. I want this report to be accurate and complete and reflect any findings from the state’s investigation.

In a guest column, “It is time for Bishop Estevez to disclose all” by Chris Shea and Joseph Lowrey, they wrote, “In an unacceptable and intolerable fashion, a directive has cut the laity out of any investigation; it also fails to explicitly direct clergy to report abuse to secular authorities.” This statement and others they made are untrue.

Suit accuses Scientology of child abuse

Tampa Bay Times

June 23, 2019

By Tracey McManus

A team of eight victims’ rights lawyers last week filed the first of what they promise will be a series of lawsuits against the Church of Scientology and its leader, David Miscavige, on behalf of defectors who say they suffered a range of exploitation — from child abuse, human trafficking and forced labour to revenge tactics related to the church’s Fair Game policy.

The lawsuit, filed in Los Angeles Superior Court on behalf of an unnamed Jane Doe born in 1979, outlines her lifetime of alleged suffering in Scientology, where she was subjected as a child at the Clearwater, Fla., headquarters to abuse inherent to auditing, Scientology’s spiritual counselling that can more resemble interrogation. It states she joined the church’s clergy-like Sea Org in California at 15, where people worked 100 hours a week for US$46. She was at times held against her will. When she officially left Scientology in 2017, Doe was followed by private investigators and terrorized by the church as it published "a hate website" falsely stating she was an alcoholic dismissed from the sect for promiscuity, according to the complaint.

"This isn’t going to be the last of the lawsuits being filed," Philadelphia-based lawyer Brian Kent told the Tampa Bay Times, declining to say how many more are forthcoming. "We’ve seen what can happen when there is truth exposed in terms of child abuse within organizations. You’ve seen it with the Catholic Church, you’re seeing it with the Southern Baptist Convention now. We’re hoping for meaningful change."

The legal team is made up of lawyers from Laffey, Bucci & Kent LLP and Soloff & Zervanos PC of Philadelphia; Thompson Law Offices in California; and Child USA, a Philadelphia-based non-profit dedicated to preventing child abuse. Scientology spokespeople Ben Shaw and Karin Pouw did not respond to an email or phone calls for comment.

Vatican sex abuse office looking for more canonists

Associated Press

June 21, 2019

The Vatican office that handles clergy sex abuse is looking for help to process what a top official says is a steady stream of cases that arrive every day from around the world.

Monsignor John Kennedy, head of the discipline section of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, told a conference of Catholic journalists this week that while his staff has more than tripled to 17 full-time experts in the past 15 years, he still borrows four others occasionally and is looking for more.

Pope Francis has lamented the slow pace and backlog of priestly sex abuse cases, which at one point had reached 2,000.

Kennedy said the foundation named for the congregation’s former head, who became Pope Benedict XVI, had offered to pay for a statistical analysis of cases.

Bishop Christopher Weldon’s legacy under cloud

The Republican

June 23, 2019

By Anne-Gerard Flynn

He died at the hospital whose new facility he helped build and was buried in the cemetery created during his years as the fourth bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Springfield.

The 27-year legacy of Bishop Christopher J. Weldon is a visible one and continues to impact many in Western Massachusetts.

It includes the construction of what is known today as Mercy Medical Center, as well as such parishes as St. Catherine of Siena and the Gate of Heaven Cemetery, where he is buried. Also, Weldon initiated the Springfield diocese’s yearly fundraising drive, now in its 60th year and called the Annual Catholic Appeal.

What Weldon accomplished through the creation of buildings and programs before his death on March 19, 1982, at the age of 76 was highlighted in his front-page obituary in The Morning Union under the banner headline, “He wanted to do more.”

A possible darker side to his legacy emerged with greater visibility Thursday after Bishop Mitchell T. Rozanski met with an alleged victim of clergy sexual abuse, heard his accusations against Weldon and two priests decades ago, and filed an initial report with Hampden District Attorney Anthony D. Gulluni.

Editorial | Justice won’t be denied in covered-up abuse


June 23, 2019

A flood of abuse allegations and reports that religious leaders covered up the sexual crimes of clergy may have changed the legal landscape for victims pursuing justice years later – with the courts now providing an opportunity for justice where the Pennsylvania Legislature has not.

A ruling last week by a three-judge Superior Court panel opened the door for two women who had previously been halted by the state’s statute of limitations to move forward with a lawsuit against the Roman Catholic Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown.

In 2016, Renee Rice and her sister, Cheryl Haun, filed a lawsuit in Blair County, claiming they were molested as young girls by a priest, Rev. Charles Bodziak, and – the key to the ruling – that the church conspired to cover up the crimes. The abuse was alleged to have occurred when Bodziak served at St. Leo’s in Altoona during the 1970s and ‘80s.

The sisters were in their late 40s when the suit was filed. In late 2017, Blair County Judge Jolene Kopriva ruled that their case could not proceed because they were past the statute limit, as Pennsylvania law gives victims until the age of 30 to file lawsuits.

Victims advocates and the state attorney general have been calling on the Pennsylvania Legislature to provide a opening for lawsuits involving child sexual abuse that had occurred years earlier.

Although a window bill passed the state House overwhelmingly last year, the state Senate has not been willing to take up the issue.

June 22, 2019

Priest accused yet again – two men say he raped them in Brooklyn grade school

Daily News

June 23, 2019

By Rocco Parascandola

Two men have accused a priest, who is now dead, of raping them in the rectory at their Brooklyn parish in the 1980s, the Daily News has learned.

The allegations were laid out Friday in an order to show cause filed by their lawyer, Keith Sullivan, in Brooklyn State Supreme Court, which names the Diocese of Brooklyn and the Church of St. Patrick. They have accused the Rev. John Abrams of raping them when they were students and altar boys at St. Patrick Catholic elementary school in Bay Ridge.

They were 10 to 13 years old at the time. Both graduated in 1987. They knew each other, according to Sullivan, who was hired by one victim several months ago, then learned of the second victim while investigating the allegations.

According to affidavits filed by the men, who are in their 40s, they met Abrams, who was assigned to St. Patrick Roman Catholic Church, while in sixth grade. He befriended them and their friends, and drove them to various places, such as a Bensonhurst bike store, movies and Jones Beach. The men were identified in the affidavits as John Doe.

“During these rides Father Abrams supplied us with beer, cigarettes and pornographic magazines,” one of the men said in the affidavits. "It was also during this time that Father John Abrams lured me into his residence inside St. Patrick’s rectory and sexually assaulted me and raped me on numerous occasions.

Texas Auxiliary Bishop Accused — but ‘Efforts to Identify’ Accuser Have Failed

Patheos blog
June 22, 2019

By Deacon Greg Kandra

This sounds, to put it mildly, very suspect.

Details are in the statement from the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston:

Yesterday, a number of Chancery Departments, along with at least one Pastor, began receiving copies of a letter addressed to Bishop George Sheltz from an individual identifying herself as Yannah Nowak. Her letters do not have a return address or any contact information and our efforts to identify any individual by that name have been unsuccessful.

In the letter, the author makes an accusation that she was molested by Bishop Sheltz in 1971, when she was a minor. The author also expressed anger and outrage over the recently announced decision of the Archdiocese to move her Pastor, Father Hai Dang, to another parish assignment. The author closes the letter with a threat to Bishop Sheltz that if he goes forward with Father Dang’s new assignment, she will go public with her accusation against Bishop Sheltz.

Bishop Sheltz has served as a priest of this Archdiocese for more than 48 years and has never had a single complaint of inappropriate conduct with minors or adults. We firmly believe this allegation to be completely false. It seeks to use blackmail tactics to keep a Pastor in his current assignment while casting a shadow on what we know is a lifetime of superb and selfless priestly ministry.

While we firmly believe this accusation lacks any credibility, we have reported it to the Houston Police Department and Children’s Protective Services for investigation. Since the allegation has been made against a bishop, we have also notified the Apostolic Nuncio to the United States.

Bishop Sheltz will continue his valued assistance in the Chancery Office, but he has volunteered to temporarily step aside from public priestly ministry.

‘The priest wielded God as a tool to do what he did to me’

The Bulletin

June 22, 2019

By Anna Maria Della Costa

The anger has hardly subsided.

Nearly 10 years ago, a wooden board ticked off John “Timothy” McGuire – an object entirely too big to take the brunt of his resentment. He tried to throw it, and broke his back.

“The anger that we harbor,” said McGuire, looking out through his front window at St. Mary of the Sea Church in New London. “The level of anger ...we get angry at things that aren’t big enough to get angry about.”

He’s learned to stymie the fits of resentment he’s nursed for 52 years – along with the fears of God hating him and feeling that he’s forever been banished to hell.

They’re the aftermath of four consecutive Sundays when he was an 8-year-old and called after Mass to meet with the late James Curry, of St. Joseph Church in Noank. He figured he was finally going to be told he was an altar boy. Instead, McGuire alleges Curry sexually assaulted him, asking him to strip naked and then fondling him that first Sunday. The alleged assaults escalated by the fourth Sunday to lewd acts.

“After the fourth one, I ran out of the church so fast,” McGuire said, pausing to let tears fall. “I hid behind the fire house. My brother came and brought me home. I still had to go to church after that. I had to look that priest in the eye. I wanted to melt every time.

Vatican abuse investigator: ‘You never get used to it, you feel your heart and soul hurting’

Catholic News Service

June 21, 2019

By Greg Erlandson

In a remarkably frank and detailed speech, the Vatican official heading the department charged with reviewing clergy sexual abuse allegations told an assembly of Catholic journalists that his investigators and the press “share the same goal, which is the protection of minors, and we have the same wish to leave the world a little better than how we found it.”

Msgr. John Kennedy, who since 2017 has headed the discipline section for the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, described the personal toll on the 17 people in his office as they have reviewed an ever-growing tide of cases involving clergy sexual abuse or related crimes.

“I can honestly tell you that, when reading cases involving sexual abuse by clerics, you never get used to it, and you can feel your heart and soul hurting,” Msgr. Kennedy said. “There are times when I am poring over cases that I want to get up and scream, that I want to pack up my things and leave the office and not come back.”

The Irish-born priest has worked and studied in Rome since 1998. Speaking on June 19 to delegates at the Catholic Media Conference, he gave a humane and at times anguished assessment of his job reviewing the horrors of sexual abuse and its cover up.

Bishop says ‘nothing could be more important’ than dealing with the crisis

Catholic Herald

June 21, 2019

By Zoey Maraist

The U.S. bishops met in Baltimore June 11-13 with one overriding priority — to adopt procedures that will hold bishops accountable for sexual misconduct or other gross failures of leadership.

“The spirit was one of urgency,” Bishop Michael F. Burbidge said of the general assembly during his Walk Humbly Podcast. “We prepared for this meeting — we had conference calls, we had webinars preparing us for what the action items would be. We had our retreat in January, which I think set the tone for this meeting that we were entering having already been together in prayer, trusting our work to the Lord. We have communicated well with the Holy See.”

By the end of the general assembly, the bishops approved three important documents they hope will improve accountability and transparency. “I am extremely pleased that the goals and the objectives with which we entered the meeting were accomplished,” said Bishop Burbidge.

In interview, Archbishop Gregory reflects on recent actions taken by U.S. bishops

Catholic News Service

June 21, 2019

By Mark Zimmerman

In a June 21 interview, Washington Archbishop Wilton Gregory offered insights on the actions taken by the U.S. bishops at their June 11-13 meeting in Baltimore to address the abuse crisis in the Catholic Church. In 2002, the nation’s bishops at their meeting in Dallas adopted the “Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People” when then-Bishop Gregory of Belleville, Illinois, was serving at the president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. The following is the text of Archbishop Gregory’s interview with Mark Zimmermann.

What is your reaction to the actions taken by the bishops at their recent meeting to address the abuse crisis?

Archbishop Gregory: “I am very pleased with what the body of bishops did, and did with such an overwhelming majority vote on all of the different initiatives. I think what it does, in so many ways, it completes the Dallas charter, including the bishops, which was a lacuna [missing element] in the charter, and is now being handled I think appropriately. Unfortunately, it had to happen under the duress of scandalous revelations from last year, but it was done nonetheless, and the body of bishops endorsed it overwhelmingly.”

What do you see as the most significant actions they took?

Archbishop Gregory: “I think all of the actions taken together, certainly the call-in number where people from across the country can call in an alleged act of misbehavior is certainly one of the things that it does.

“But also, it encourages bishops to establish a list of qualified professional laity to be at the service of the inquiry and the evaluation of the allegations, and it guarantees that these matters will be handled openly and transparently.

Archdiocese of Los Angeles issues warning about former priest to local communities


June 21, 2019

By Jasmin Rogers

The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Los Angeles has issued a warning to the Santa Barbara and Ventura County communities about a former priest.

Carlos Rodriguez was removed from ministry back in 1993 under order of the Vatican. Rodriguez was convicted of child abuse and served time in prison.

The Clergy's Office in Los Angeles has received reports from parishioners in Santa Barbara and Ventura Counties that that Rodriguez has been conducting home masses in Fillmore and in other local areas.

Los Angeles officials want to warn the community that Rodriguez is not a priest, and he is not allowed to practice in any denomination.

The problem of clericalism makes transparency impossible

National Catholic Reporter

June 22, 2019

By Phyllis Zagano

I think we owe a debt of gratitude to former West Virginia bishop Michael Bransfield, pilloried by The Washington Post for his reportedly lavish and lascivious ways. The Post wrote from an unredacted report written by lay investigators.

Bransfield's creative accounting let us see exactly who benefited from his largess. His history of unchecked behavior demonstrates who knew what and when. Most importantly, his objectively sad story sheds light on ingrained episcopal practices around the world.

Plus, it saves us the trouble of reading medieval history.

I bear no ill will and wish no harm to Michael Bransfield. I am convinced he is a product of a system that corrupted him. One wonders if that system alone drove him to drink.

That system is the clericalism Pope Francis talks about. It is the system in which only priest clerics judge clerics, only priest clerics wield authority, and only priest clerics promote clerics to higher offices.

It is the system of priestly clericalism, seeded in the early church, nurtured by the Middle Ages, and full-blown by the 11th century.

Jules Woodson pushes Southern Baptists to police sexual abuse

The Gazette

June 22, 2019

By David Ramsey

Jules Woodson worships most Sundays at Grace Lutheran Church. She sings hymns. She listens to sermons delivered by Pastor Michael Tassler. She reflects on the storms of her life.

And she praises God.

In her teens, she suffered through a sexual ordeal at her church in the suburbs of Houston. For decades, she struggled with depression and anxiety.

But, she says, God never left her side, and remains with her as she crusades to cleanse America’s troubled Protestant movement.

Woodson has resided at the center of the #churchtoo movement since she revealed in a Jan. 5, 2018, blog a 20-year-old sexual assault involving her youth minister, Andy Savage. She was 17, and he was 22 when she got into his car for a ride home after a Southern Baptist church event .

But Savage did not drive her home. He drove her to a lonely dark road.

“He turned the headlights off,” Woodson wrote in an abuse survivors’ blog. Then he asked her to perform oral sex. "I was scared and embarrassed, but I did it. I remember feeling that this must mean that Andy loved me.”

Church leaders did not inform police of Savage’s crime or tell congregation members specifics about the assault. Savage was told to depart the church, but the incident did not hinder his career.

On Jan. 5, 2018, he was serving as a pastor at Highpoint, a megachurch in Memphis, Tenn. He was raising five children with his wife. He had just delivered a book, “The Ridiculously Good Marriage,” to a publisher.

After Woodson’s blog post, Savage read a statement at Highpoint’s Sunday morning service. He expressed regret, in his way. “A so-called apology,” Woodson says.

Congregants reacted to his confession with a standing ovation. Highpoint leaders had been told about the assault on the dark road and hired him anyway. When Woodson watched video of Savage’s surreal confession/performance, she wept.

But Savage could not halt the tidal wave of scorn. He resigned four months later.