January 23, 2017
National Catholic Reporter
Joshua J. McElwee | Jan. 23, 2017
The head of the Vatican's financial watchdog agency has revealed that the city-state began pursuing prosecutions against people accused of financial crimes for the first time in 2016, in what may be seen as a breakthrough for Pope Francis' continuing reforms.
In an NCR interview Jan. 10, the president of the Vatican's Financial Intelligence Authority said the first prosecutions had begun without public announcement in 2016 and would continue at a faster pace in 2017.
"The work there is increasing and we are definitely making progress on that end," said René Brülhart, speaking about the process carefully.
Lack of prosecutions against those accused of financial crimes has long been a concern of international experts who have examined the Vatican's financial system.
While the watchdog agency has released annual reports since 2012 detailing possible suspicious activity, for example marking 544 activities as questionable in 2015, there had as yet been no prosecutions of those responsible.
Monday 23rd of January 2017
A Derry man who was the victim of institutional abuse has praisd the Bishop of Derry after he embraced him during emotional scenes in the city yesterday.
The Bishop, Dr Donal McKeown, delivered a homily during two services over the weekend at Eugene’s Cathedral and Long Tower, where he addressed the final report into the findings of Historical Institutional Abuse Inquiry (HIA), which was set up in 2013 to look at historical abuse claims at homes throughout Northern Ireland
These included former children’s residential homes in Derry at St Joseph’s Home at Termonbacca, the Sisters of Nazareth’s children’s home at Bishop Street, Fort James and Harberton House.
The inquiry also dealt with institutions run by the Good Shepherd Sisters in Derry, Belfast and Newry.
The 2,300-page report was published at an event in Belfast on Friday morning.
In the wake of the publication, Bishop McKeown told Mass goers that the ‘focus has to be on accepting the pain and loss suffered by those who, through no fault of their own, were scarred for life by the way they were treated and let down’.
[Pedophilia in the church: About 60 cases are in the hands of justice.]
Les 106 diocèses de l’Hexagone ont été priés de livrer leurs données dans le cadre d’une enquête interne de la Conférence des évêques de France. Des chiffres inédits mais qui ne disent qu’une partie de la réalité.
Pédophilie dans l’Eglise : une soixantaine d’affaires aux mains de la justice
Surtout pas de triomphalisme. «Neuf, c’est toujours neuf de trop», s’empresse de dire Ségolaine Moog, déléguée pour la lutte contre la pédophilie à la Conférence des évêques de France (CEF). Neuf ? C’est le nombre de clercs (c’est-à-dire des prêtres ou des diacres, le grade en dessous) actuellement incarcérés pour des faits d’abus sexuels sur mineurs. D’un point de vue judiciaire, les affaires de pédophilie concerneraient, selon une enquête interne de la CEF, une soixantaine de clercs catholiques. Parmi eux, 37 ont déjà purgé leur peine et 26 font l’objet d’une mise en examen. Depuis plusieurs mois, les évêques catholiques promettaient de donner des chiffres à la suite du scandale qu’a provoqué, à Lyon, l’affaire de l’abbé Bernard P. Aucun bilan n’avait été établi par l’institution depuis 2010 et les 106 diocèses de l’Hexagone ont donc été priés (non sans réticence pour certains) de livrer leurs données.
The victim organization Netzwerk B today declared the "zero tolerance" strategy of Pope Francis against sexual abuse is nothing more than paper.] :
Die Opferorganisation netzwerkB erklärte heute zur „Null-Toleranz“-Strategie von Papst Franziskus gegenüber sexuellem Missbrauch:
„Papst Franziskus hat „Null-Toleranz“-Strategie gegenüber ‘sexuellem Missbrauch‘ versprochen. Dass die Wirklichkeit in der katholischen Kirche anders aussieht – behauptet der Enthüllungsjournalist Emiliano Fittipaldi in seinem Buch „Lussuria“ (Unzucht).
"Francis is hypocritical." Italian lawyer Sergio Cavaliere, 46, has represented ten victims of sexual abuse by priests in Italy. He laments the church is not actively combatting abuse in the church and he criticized Pope Francis.]
Der italienische Anwalt Sergio Cavaliere, 46, hat zehn Opfer sexuellen Missbrauchs durch Priester in Italien vertreten. Er beklagt die mangelnde Bekämpfung von Missbrauch in der katholischen Kirche und kritisiert den Papst. Papst Franziskus ging hart mit Missbrauchstätern in der Kirche ins Gericht und traf einige wichtige Entscheidungen.
Guam Daily Post
Neil Pang | Post News Staff
Coadjutor Archbishop Michael Jude Byrnes arrived back in Guam yesterday to resume his duties as head of the Archdiocese of Agana.
Byrnes was installed as the coadjutor archbishop of the archdiocese by Pope Francis in late October 2016 and made his first trip to Guam on Nov. 26. Chancery officials said he made the trip to Guam in time for the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, or Santa Maria Kamalen, on Dec. 8.
Church officials explained that Byrnes had to return to Detroit, where he last served as an auxiliary bishop, to wrap up unfinished business. Now that he has tied up loose ends, chancery officials said that he will be able to focus completely on his duties as the head of Guam's largest faith community and the many issues it currently faces.
Peter Adamu | January 23, 2017
Archbishop Telesphore Mpundu has revealed that there are 120 cases recorded at the University Teaching Hospital in Lusaka related to abuse of children below 8.
Archbishop Telesphore Mpundu has called for a change in attitude saying the numbers shows that this was a tragedy.
Archbishop Telesphore Mpundu called the church and Zambians at large to come together and protect children.
BELOW IS THE FULL STATEMENT BY BISHOP MPUNDU
For immediate publication
Date: 23rd January, 2017
CATHOLIC BISHOPS CALL FOR PROTECTION OF CHILDREN.
Zambia Conference of Catholic Bishops (ZCCB) president Archbishop Telesphore Mpundu has called on the protection of Children and minors.
Speaking on behalf of other Catholic Bishops of Zambia during the opening of a one day workshop on Child protection held at Kapingila house on Monday 23rd January, 2017, Archbishop Mpundu described the statistics on reported cases of abused children as a tragedy.
Archbishop Mpundu further called for the reversal of the situation and announced that that the church stands in a singular position to spearhead the campaign.
“[I am informed that] every single month at the University Teaching Hospital 120 children below the age of 8 are abused. And these are numbers of children whom we know about. These cases reported to the police and followed up. But a greater number is not even known. This is a tragedy which must be reversed, and the church stands ready in a singular position to spearhead this campaign,” he said. ...
And Secretary for the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors Monsignor Robert Oliver commended the Catholic Church in Zambia on its stance on the protection of children and minors.
The one day Child Protection workshop at Kapingila house in Lusaka which drew 46 participants from all the 11 dioceses of Zambia was organised by Pope Francis’ 2014 set Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors.
The Pontifical Commission goes around the world to promote local responsibility by assisting bishops, religious superiors and there conferences to develop guidelines, norms, and establish safe environments for children through mutual sharing of best practices.
Bill Donohue comments on an editorial in today’s Washington Post:
“On the most explosive and morally subversive challenge facing the Roman Catholic Church—clerical sexual abuse of children, and the bishops who tolerate it—Pope Francis has said the right things but done too little.”
This remarkable comment is the first sentence in an editorial in today’s Washington Post. The newspaper is living in a time warp. It cited not a single piece of new evidence, resting solely on a book by an Italian journalist that covers cases extending back over a half century ago. To make matters worse, Crux editor John Allen Jr. noted the author’s “sloppiness with facts,” about which the Washington Post is either unaware of or simply doesn’t care to mention.
NEWSFLASH: THE SCANDAL ENDED OVER 30 YEARS AGO
What’s the source of my comment? The Georgetown University’s Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate and the John Jay College of Criminal Justice. Independently, they represent the most authoritative accounts of priestly sexual abuse.
By Mark Daly
BBC Scotland Investigations Correspondent
A former Catholic monk accused of child abuse at a Scottish school has been arrested in Australia.
Father Denis "Chrysostom" Alexander was one of several monks accused of abusing boys at the former Fort Augustus Abbey boarding school in the Highlands.
The BBC has learned he has been remanded in custody in Sydney pending his extradition back to Scotland to face trial.
The Crown Office here said it would not comment on legal matters elsewhere.
Father Alexander has always denied the allegations.
In 2013, he was confronted by BBC Scotland in Sydney as part of a documentary which prompted a major police investigation.
Zambia Conference of Catholic Bishops (ZCCB) president Archbishop Telesphore Mpundu has called on the protection of Children and minors.
Speaking on behalf of other Catholic Bishops of Zambia during the opening of a one-day workshop on Child protection held at Kapingila house on Monday 23rd January, 2017, Archbishop Mpundu described the statistics on reported cases of abused children as a tragedy.
Archbishop Mpundu further called for the reversal of the situation and announced that that the church stands in a singular position to spearhead the campaign.
“[I am informed that] every single month at the University Teaching Hospital 120 children below the age of 8 are abused. And these are numbers of children whom we know about. These cases reported to the police and followed up. But a greater number is not even known. This is a tragedy which must be reversed, and the church stands ready in a singular position to spearhead this campaign,” he said.
The ZCCB president further said that the cry of the Church is to mobilise everyone in the Church to fight the abuse of children.
“Let us put together whatever we have in terms of reflections to that we can move ahead. Our cry is to mobilise everyone in the church beginning from the family. Children are most abused by the people who know them,” he said.
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis has nominated Msgr. Michael J. Boulette as the new auxiliary bishop of San Antonio, Texas (USA), assigning him the titular see of Geron.
He is the founder and director of ‘St. Peter upon the Water’, a center for spiritual direction and formation located in Ingram.
Msgr. Boulette was born in Hudson Falls, New York to French Canadian and Italian parents on 4 June 1950. In 1959 his family moved to Fredericksburg, Texas.
He received his Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology from Saint Mary University in 1971 and his Master’s in Psychology from Trinity University in 1972.
By Melissa Parrelli
Posted on Jan 23, 2017
Paula Deen’s “pedophile” priest brother-in-law may have victimized countless helpless children, the rep for a national sex abuse survivor’s network told RadarOnline.com. And even though he committed suicide, they’re not giving up the fight for justice!
As Radar reported, Deen’s brother-in-law Henry B. Groover III was slapped with a molestation lawsuit last week, and committed suicide days later. Now, a director from SNAP, the Survivor Network of those Abused by Priests revealed exclusively to Radar that the organization is launching a campaign to find other possible victims.
“We will be in Savannah the first and second day of February to work with the media [in a press conference] in hopes of reaching thousands of people, and therefore, other possible victims,” Barbara Dorris, SNAP outreach director, told Radar exclusively.
Dorris said what disturbed her the most about this case was that “Groover was living behind the victim’s family” and that he “lived in a neighborhood where nobody knew what horrifying things he was capable of.”
Indeed, the lawsuit accused Groover of being a “pedophile” who had moved within sight of one of his alleged victims. And Radar previously spoke with other people who had lived near Groover in Savannah, who said they were “shocked” and “saddened” to hear that an accused “sexual predator” was in their neighborhood and so close to their children for all these years.
Jan 23, 2017
By Krystal Paco
He's back for good. Coadjutor Archbishop Michael Byrnes arrived on island from Detroit early Monday morning and he's getting right to work. Byrnes was Vatican-appointed and given full authority of the Archdiocese of Agana late last year.
His appointment follows allegations of child molestation made against Archbishop Anthony Apuron. Apuron faces a canonical trial in Rome as well as civil suits here at home.
A former bus driver for the company that transports students within the Altoona Area School District has filed a federal lawsuit claiming religious discrimination, stating she was terminated from the job she had for 14 years after refusing to be fingerprinted.
In the lawsuit filed in the U.S. District Court in Johnstown, Bonnie F. Kaite of the Juniata section of Altoona, said she was required to undergo a criminal background check 14 months ago as part
of a recently passed state law.
The background investigation included a fingerprint check.
Monday 23 January 2017
The UK’s main Jehovah’s Witnesses charity has dropped efforts to block an investigation into how it handled allegations of sexual abuse, including of children, after a legal fight lasting more than two years.
The Charity Commission launched an inquiry into safeguarding at the religion’s main UK charity in May 2014 after receiving allegations that survivors of rape and sexual abuse, including people abused as children, were forced to face their attackers in “judicial committees”.
The Jehovah’s Witnesses, however, resisted the investigation into the Watch Tower Bible Tract Society of Great Britain (WTBTS), which oversees the UK’s 1,500 congregations and is believed to play a key role in deciding how claims of abuse are handled.
The WTBTS, which had a turnover of more than £80m last year, launched a series of legal challenges to the inquiry. These included an attempt to challenge in the supreme court the commission’s decision to start an investigation. The charity also fought in the lower courts against production orders that would oblige it to give the commission access to records showing how it handled the allegations.
January 22, 2017
Government has taken steps to assist the St Elizabeth family at the centre of the sexual abuse case involving 64-year-old Moravian minister, Rupert Clarke.
Clarke was arrested and charged for allegedly having sex with a 15-year-old member of the family.
Two weeks after the arrest, the then president of the Moravian Church in Jamaica, Rev Dr Paul Gardener along with his deputy, the Rev Jermaine Gibson, resigned their positions amid damning allegations in an email that was made public.
Minister of Gender Affairs, Olivia Grange, says the family will be provided with housing by the charity organisation Food for the Poor.
Grange says the government will ensure that it is placed in an area where they will be safe and comfortable.
We are hopeful a New Hampshire House committee will do the right thing and reject a bill that would make it more difficult to prosecute people charged with sex assault.
The legislation calls for a higher level of proof than other crimes for a heinous offense that is already underreported because of the pain it causes victims to come forward and testify. House Bill 106 states "that a victim's testimony in a sexual assault case ... requires corroboration only in cases where the defendant has no prior convictions for sexual assault."
That is outrageous.
No one is in favor of anyone going to jail or having their reputation damaged for a crime they didn't commit. However, this bill offers sexual abuse suspects a special shield from prosecution.
Sgt. Sean Ford of the Concord Police Department testified at the Statehouse on Tuesday and summed it up perfectly: "It's really nothing short of the nation's first pedophile protection act," he said, according to an Associated Press report on the hearing that drew a large crowd to Concord.
State Rep. William Marsh, R-Wolfeboro, is the sponsor of the bill. His argument is people are perceived as guilty as soon as they are accused of the crime and he points to the 2016 aggravated felonious sexual assault conviction of Concord psychologist Foad Afshar, who is serving 3 to 6 years for touching the genitals of a 12-year-old child during an appointment. Marsh argues Afshar was convicted with little evidence other than the victim's word and says the case could mean psychologists and psychiatrists may hesitate to treat children in the future.
By Editorial Board January 22
ON THE MOST explosive and morally subversive challenge facing the Roman Catholic Church — clerical sexual abuse of children, and the bishops who tolerate it — Pope Francis has said the right things but done too little. Even now, 15 years after the explosive revelations of church complicity in enabling and covering up the predations of American priests who damaged so many young lives, not a single bishop has been explicitly held accountable and stripped of his title.
The pope’s sluggish, inadequate and compromised stance in the face of this outrage is the subject of a new book, “Lust,” by a respected Italian journalist, Emiliano Fittipaldi. The book, published last week, is an indictment not just of a papal policy that has failed to live up to its ringing promises about “zero tolerance” for clerical sexual abuse, but of Francis’s papacy.
Mr. Fittipaldi reveals that the pace of complaints about sexual abuse filed with the Holy See has been virtually unchanged in the nearly four years since Francis became pope, compared with his predecessor, Pope Benedict XVI, who was deservedly condemned for his inaction. More damningly, the book details repeated instances where church officials implicated in allegations of abuse and coverups were promoted, often to top positions in the church’s sprawling hierarchy.
One example is Cardinal Francisco Javier Errázuriz, former archbishop of Santiago, Chile, elevated by Francis to the elite, nine-member Council of Cardinal Advisers, a sort of papal kitchen cabinet in Rome. Errázuriz has long been accused of ignoring accusations of sexual abuse against a priest under his jurisdiction. Another is Cardinal George Pell, formerly an Australian bishop, who serves as the Vatican’s top finance official. He has long been accused of having shrugged off pedophilia among priests during his time in Australia. When questioned about it last year by an investigative commission in his home country, he fell back on the old canard about the church being no better or worse than society at large, a facile formulation often used by Vatican officials to avoid any admission of the church’s ingrained pattern of institutional complicity.
The man in charge of reviewing Victoria's controversial bail system was responsible for flipping a murderous hitman who went on to testify against notorious Melbourne gangland boss Carl Williams.
Today, with his government under incredible pressure following the bloody Bourke Street massacre, Victoria's Premier turned to the cool, pragmatic head of Paul Coghlan, QC.
Coghlan was Victoria's Director of Public Prosecutions in troubled times, from 2001 through to 2007, and launched a wave of prosecutions during the state's infamous "Underbelly" gangland war.
The former top silk was also known for reopening the case against pedophile priest Gerald Ridsdale so he could prosecute him with more sex abuse charges, eventually adding 13 years to his jail term.
Radio New Zealand
The Catholic Church in Guam is being accused of rewarding a priest who shielded its Archbishop from abuse allegations.
The Concerned Catholics of Guam has written a letter to the church questioning the decision to send Father Adrian Cristobal to study in Canada.
Its President David Sablan told Jo O'Brien Father Cristobal is also a member of an alternative movement within the Church that has caused division and abused its resources.
DAVID SABLAN: Father Adrian Cristobal was the chancellor during the reign of Archbishop Anthony Apuron who was allegedly accused of numerous sexual abuse of young altar boys when he was the pastor prior to being elevated to bishop. I would believe that Father Cristobal knew about some of these allegations but basically did not say much about it and again that's just my opinion knowing how he interacted with the Archbishop. But our concern primarily is that he has basically lied about numerous issues and now we find that this new Archbishop, Archbishop Byrnes has basically decided to send him off to study Canon Law in Canada, which in the opinion of many in Concerned Catholics it's basically a reward for his misdeeds, that's the only way we can look at it.
JO O'BRIEN: When you say a reward for his misdeeds, do you mean that he has effectively been rewarded for protecting Archbishop Apuron?
DAVID SABLAN That's kind of how we view it because of the fact that he has really been one of the individuals that has caused this division within our church here because he is a member of this Neocatechumenal Way, and he has been giving them many favours and, you know, he was also very instrumental in providing them resources from our Archdiocese to continue their religious practices here on the island and of course there's a seminary that was taken over by the Neocatechumenal Way and that has been funded by the Archdiocese and in the end we felt that he should be disciplined rather than being sent off to go study Canon Law.
The report from an official inquiry into widespread child sex abuse has delivered “a day of justice long overdue for those who suffered in these institutions run by church and state”, according to a priest who was also a victim.
Fr Patrick McCafferty was speaking after the report was published on Friday from the Historical Institutional Abuse (HIA) inquiry. It studied allegations of abuse in 22 homes and other institutions from 1922 to 1995.
He said: “They are vindicated at last and the report’s recommendations must be speedily implemented, including financial compensation, a small gesture by church and society towards recognition of the losses and sufferings endured by victims and survivors.
“My own experiences of abuse, in childhood and young adulthood, perpetuated by church and non-church related persons, has always given me a sense of solidarity with all survivors of sexual abuse – whether as children or vulnerable adults.
A Catholic bishop has said the recommendations of Northern Ireland's child abuse inquiry should be implemented with goodwill.
Noel Treanor hoped the report will help others who have been abused to find the strength and courage to come forward and report it to the authorities.
The independent probe recommended compensation payments of up to £100,000, funded by the state and voluntary institutions responsible for the residential homes where the harm occurred, with payments beginning later this year.
Those who suffered in state, church and charity-run homes should also be offered an official apology from government and the organisations involved, the Historical Institutional Abuse (HIA) inquiry led by retired judge Sir Anthony Hart found.
Bishop Treanor said: "Let us pray that in response to the HIA inquiry and report, our local church in this diocese and all involved in the statutory and voluntary sectors will have the grace and strength to respond with honesty, integrity and goodwill to the report's recommendations and their implementation so that the light of justice, truth and peace may shine upon us and facilitate in our society the cultivation of a civilisation of love, courtesy and care for all."
[Module 6 – Father Brendan Smyth - Historical Institutional Abuse Inquiry]
The Finglas Episode, a chapter in the sordid life of Brendan Smyth, raises questions for the force
The remit of the Historical Institutional Abuse Inquiry in Northern Ireland did not extend across the Border. If it had, An Garda Siochana would almost certainly have come under scrutiny over suspicions that it covered up the crimes of notorious paedophile Brendan Smyth.
Sir Anthony Hart, the chair of the inquiry, called it 'The Finglas Episode'.
It refers to a time when Smyth apparently had a brush with the law in the north Dublin suburb three decades ago. However, his "crime" appears to have been hushed up so successfully that the reason why the paedophile came to the attention of Finglas garda station was never established by the inquiry.
The Open Tabernacle: Here Comes Everybody
Posted on January 21, 2017 by Betty Clermont
“Evangelicals helped Trump in states he was mostly going to win anyway. Catholics? Now we’re talking about Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan and Wisconsin. And that was the election.”
White Catholics voted 60% for Trump while he received only 46% of the national popular vote.
“Trump won the highest percentage of Catholic voters (52%) for a Republican candidate since 2004. White Catholics supported Trump by a wide, 23-point margin (60% to 37%). Both white and Latino Catholics cast more ballots for Trump than for Romney in 2012.” ...
Vatican ready to do business with Trump
The second highest Vatican official, Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin, congratulated Trump the day after the election, noting that the election “was characterized by a large turnout at the polls.” (See “Voter turnout at 20-year low in 2016.”) He praised the president-elect: “[T]he future leader has already spoken like a leader.”
Parolin said the first issue on which the Vatican would “collaborate” with Trump was peace. The second was “the internal [i.e. domestic] issues” of the US Church such as “religious freedom.”
CAPE TOWN - Women's rights group Matla A Bana has praised a 1970 rape survivor for speaking out more than five decades after the attack.
A Kraaifontein pastor was this week found guilty on two counts of rape for crimes committed in 1970.
The court found the church leader raped his accuser when she was eight years old.
The woman, now 54 years old, says the accused gained her trust because he was a senior member of her father's church.
But the 78-year-old grandfather maintains his innocence, saying the church would have acted against him if he was guilty.
The Jamaica Coalition for a Healthy Society (JCHS) has waded in on the controversy surrounding Moravian pastor Rupert Clarke, recommending that all institutions establish systems for protecting the children under their care and with whom they come in contact.
In a news release issued on January 11, the JCHS extended sincere sympathies to the young girl involved and to her wider family.
“The nation must mourn and be enraged about any and every instance of abuse against our children and especially where people of faith are the alleged perpetrators,” the JCHS said.
“We await the outcome of the investigations but we say emphatically that the law must be allowed to take its full course in this matter,” the organisation added.
Sunday, January 22, 2017
There is everything frightening about the spate of church-related, sex abuse cases in Jamaica involving teenage children — mostly girls. What’s even more disturbing is that, although all too familiar, evidence suggests the occurrences are largely unreported.
Everything about these sexual maladies and horrifying trends should impel us to abominate, in the strongest terms, all forms of sexual abuse of our boys, girls and young women. We should condemn all forms of sexual violence, even as we accept the imperfections of men — especially men of the cloth.
Nevertheless, accepting human imperfections and failings is not an excuse for the kinds of wicked penetrative invasion or transactional relationships some of these men (and women) are foisting on our vulnerable and innocent children. Besides the serious criminal breach, there is a lasting desecration of these children’s ambition, body and promise — it is a defilement that no amount of therapy or passage of time may ever cure. Pastors or not, we cannot allow gaps in our personal economies to lull us (parents or guardians) into complacency or cause us to conjure convenient sorry-ass explanations as conduits to assist us with wriggling our way out of taking responsibility for sanctioning such terrible deeds — inadvertently or not, or on the basis of financial opportunity.
Published:Sunday | January 22, 2017
The problem of child sexual abuse is an endemic in Jamaica. And it has been for a long time. It is just that we are more sensitive about, and morally outraged by, this issue than previous generations.
It was a couple of years ago that it dawned on me forcefully that a very large percentage of our women were sexually molested as children. As I began to make enquiries, almost every woman I spoke to had some story about some sexually inappropriate action by an adult when she was a child. I began to make enquiries about some supposedly decent persons whom I knew as a child, and I realised that people could tell me stories about these seemingly straight-laced, holy churchmen.
One of them had come to me saying how he had been framed for molesting a little girl he was helping and he needed me to put him on to one of my big-name lawyer friends to get him off. I did. It was after he won the case that I discovered what that wretch had been up to for many years while carrying out his gospel grinding. My anger was indescribable.
My daughter, who is senior attorney with the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions, has prosecuted many carnal abuse and incest cases in several parishes across Jamaica. And she reports that there is a very high tolerance level for this perversion and criminality. Jurors are more eager to blame the "bad pickney dem", the "force-ripe gyal dem" who "a push it up pon the decent man them" and a "rub butter a puss mouth". These perverts can easily get character witnesses from upstanding members of their community or church.
Posted 21 January 2017
THUNDER BAY – Yesterday, January 19, the Grand Chief of the Nishnawbe Aski Nation, Alvin Fiddler, noted that the Anglican Church of Canada shares responsibility for the crisis in the communities he serves, and especially for the tragic number of young people who have died by suicide. We acknowledge that our past actions have helped to create a legacy of brokenness in some First Nations communities, and we express our willingness, in spite of failings and false starts in the past, to renew our commitment to dialogue and discernment that will help us understand more deeply and act more effectively on our responsibilities.
Over a period that spanned the 1970s and 1980s, Ralph Rowe, then an Anglican priest and a Boy Scout leader, abused young Indigenous boys in more than a dozen communities in Northwestern Ontario. We know that the trauma he inflicted was not only on persons, but also on communities, and that its impact is intergenerational.
The Anglican Church of Canada has, since it became aware of the nature and scope of Ralph Rowe’s abuse, been actively concerned about its impact.
Ralph Rowe was trained as a pilot in the Royal Canadian Air Force, and served with the Ontario Provincial Police on Manitoulin Island in the 1960s. He served as a missionary pilot prior to studying at Wycliffe College, and was ordained in 1975. He also served as a Scout Master with the Boy Scouts of Canada.
January 21, 2017
John L. Allen Jr. January 21, 2017
Two stories broke this week regarding the Church’s clerical sexual abuse scandals, one in Italy and the other in the States, and in different ways, each speaks to a missed opportunity.
In Italy, a book came out titled Lussuria: Peccati, Scandali e Tradimenti di una Chiesa Fatta di Uomini (“Lust: Sins, Scandals and Betrayals of a Church Made of Men”) by journalist Emiliano Fittipaldi, one of the five defendants in last year’s “Vatileaks 2.0” trial pivoting on leaked documents from a papal commission on Vatican finances.
In the States, a former employee of the Survivors Network for Those Abused by Priests (SNAP), the country’s best-known advocacy organization for survivors of clerical abuse, has sued the group, charging that in reality it’s a commercial operation funded by kickbacks from lawyers who sue the Church.
Here’s why each story suggests that chances to promote real reform have slipped through the cracks.
With Fittipaldi’s book, because he writes on Church finances, people expected he would expose more money-related skullduggery. Instead he focused on the sex abuse scandals, largely recycling well-worn material. (In retrospect, probably the title, “Lust,” should have been a clue about what was coming.)
Fittipaldi goes back over Cardinal George Pell’s multiple appearances before an Australian Royal Commission. He covers the scandal in Chile of Fernando Karadima, that country’s most notorious abuser priest, and Pope Francis’s appointment of a bishop known as a Karadima apologist. He recounts the story of Lawrence Murphy, an American priest believed to have molested around 200 boys at a school for the deaf up to the mid-1970s.
San Antonio Express-News
By Elaine Ayala, San Antonio Express-News
January 21, 2017
In a move that surprised members of Our Lady of the Atonement parish, the Archdiocese of San Antonio replaced Father Christopher Phillips as pastor, citing “pastoral concerns” about the former Anglican priest ordained as a Catholic in the 1980s.
Several church members said they were “heartsick” about the removal and fearful of a potential shift from the parish’s traditional Anglican-styled worship services.
The archdiocese’s decision was effective Thursday. It has appointed Msgr. Frank Kurzaj as parish administrator to assume Phillips’ role. Kurzaj, most recently pastor of Sacred Heart Church in Floresville, has served in several other parishes in the archdiocese.
A few parishioners credited Phillips with increasing the flock and focusing on Scriptural study and sacred music. He also has been managing a major expansion of its school, Atonement Academy, they added.
Many of the founding members of the parish were former Episcopalians who converted to Catholicism. Phillips, the parish’s first and only pastor, was ordained by then-Archbishop Patrick Flores, who died Jan. 9.
Gary Adshead, PerthNow
January 21, 2017
EVEN after the ups and downs, which inevitably come with eight years in power, the Barnett Government hopefully learnt a lesson the hard way this week.
It managed to turn an immensely worthy cause – something it could have taken the lead on to have enshrined in law – and relegated it to just another election promise.
The issue is child sexual abuse and the existing statute of limitations that prevents victims from taking civil action against the perpetrator or an institution.
As it stands the victim, regardless of how old they were when abused, has only six years from the time of the crime to lodge a civil case.
Simply put, if a boy or girl aged six, for example, were traumatised by a paedophile employed by a church or government agency, then they must have filed a writ in the court against the institution by the time they reach the age of 12.
The St Elizabeth family at the centre of a sexual abuse case is to be relocated.
The family came to national attention after one of the children was reported to have been sexually abused by Moravian pastor, Rupert Clarke, in a case that is now before the court.
Gender Affairs Minister, Olivia Grange, and Member of Parliament for South Eastern St Elizabeth, Franklyn Witter, on Thursday visited the family, which is headed by a single mother.
She says she observed that the women and children were living in an uncompleted and unsecured two bedroom house which is in need of repair.
Grange says Food for the Poor will provide them with housing and the government will ensure it’s on lands where the family will feel safe and comfortable.
By Jody Porter, CBC News Posted: Jan 21, 2017
The Anglican Church of Canada says it will continue working with First Nations in northern Ontario to confront the "legacy of brokenness" created by a pedophile priest who worked in remote communities in the 1970s and 80s.
Ralph Rowe worked as a priest and boy scout leader and flew a plane with the Anglican Church logo into remote First Nations in northern Ontario where his "abuse was massive in its scope and horrendous in its impact," said a statement on Friday from Michael Thompson, general secretary of the Anglican Church of Canada.
First Nations leaders referred to Rowe's legacy of abuse in Wapekeka First Nation during a news conference on Thursday about two 12-year-old girls who died by suicide within days of each other earlier this month.
Nishnawbe Aski Nation Grand Chief Alvin Fiddler said Rowe was a "monster" who abused more than 500 children during his time working in northern Ontario and leading to an intergenerational suicide crisis in Wapekeka.
[Abuse: Ulrich Weber takes over investigation of the scandal at the Regensburger Domspatzen.]
Wilhelmsdorf sz Es kommt wieder Bewegung in die Aufarbeitung des Missbrauchsskandals der Brüdergemeinde. In den 1960er- und 1970er-Jahren wurden in den Heimen der Diakonie der Evangelischen Brüdergemeinde Korntal in Korntal und Wilhelmsdorf Kinder gedemütigt und sexuell missbraucht. Die Mediationsgruppe, in der Vertreter der Brüdergemeinde, des Netzwerks Betroffenenforum und der Arbeitsgemeinschaft Heimopfer sitzen, hat sich auf Ulrich Weber als Aufklärer verständigt. Anfang Februar soll er offiziell in das Amt gewählt werden.
Der Jurist ist auch Chefaufklärer des Missbrauchsskandals bei den Regensburger Domspatzen. Webers Arbeit in Regensburg wird als vorbildlich gelobt. So nannte beispielsweise der Missbrauchsbeauftragte der Bundesregierung, Johannes-Wilhelm Rörig, die Aufarbeitung „wegweisend“.
[In the church, sexual abuse by priests continues to be systematically hushed up - at least the revelation of journalist Emiliano Fittipaldi.]
Rom - 20.01.2017
Emiliano Fittipaldi ist im Vatikan berüchtigt. Vergangenen Sommer saß der italienische Enthüllungsjournalist noch auf der Anklagebank im Gerichtssaal hinter dem Petersdom, weil er vertrauliche Unterlagen veröffentlichte. Mit seinem neuen Werk "Lussuria", zu deutsch "Wollust" oder "Unzucht", klagt er nun den Vatikan an. Sein Vorwurf: Papst Franziskus rede zwar von einer "Null-Toleranz-Strategie", im Vatikan und in der katholischen Weltkirche werde sexueller Missbrauch durch Priester jedoch bis heute weiter systematisch vertuscht.
Das rund 200-seitige Werk, das am Donnerstag in den italienischen Buchhandel kam, enthält keine spektakulären Neuigkeiten oder Überraschungen. Der Redakteur der Zeitschrift "L'Espresso" stützt sich weitgehend auf bereits bekannte Informationen. Anders als in seinem vorherigen Buch über die vatikanischen Finanzen kann Fittipaldi diesmal offenbar kaum auf interne vatikanische Unterlagen zurückgreifen.
Neue Zurcher Zeitung
von Andrea Spalinger, Rom 20.1.2017
Emiliano Fittipaldi ist nicht der Typ von Journalist, der sich einschüchtern lässt. Die Publikation seines Buches über Korruption und Geldverschwendung in der katholischen Kirche hatte dem 42-jährigen Neapolitaner einen Prozess im Vatikan wegen Veröffentlichung geheimer Dokument beschert. Nach Monaten wurde er im Juli schliesslich freigesprochen. Zu dem Zeitpunkt arbeitete der Enthüllungsjournalist bereits an einem neuen, nicht weniger brisanten Buch über sexuellen Missbrauch durch Geistliche und das Versagen der Kirche, dagegen vorzugehen. Am Donnerstag ist das Buch mit dem Titel «Lussuria» («Wollust») erschienen.
Kultur des Schweigens
Fittipaldis Quellen sind diesmal keine Whistleblower und geheimen Dokumente, sondern öffentlich zugängliche Gerichtsakten, Briefe aus Kirchgemeinden und lokale Medienberichte. Daraus zeichnet der Journalist vor allem ein ziemlich düsteres Bild über die Lage in Italien. In den vergangenen zehn Jahren wurden hier 200 Priester wegen Missbrauchs von Kindern und Jugendlichen angezeigt oder verurteilt. «Die bekanntgewordenen Fälle sind jedoch nur die Spitze des Eisbergs», betont Fittipaldi in einem Gespräch mit der NZZ.
By Claire McNeilly
1. Tax-free lump sum payment to survivors of abuse, including in homes/institutions that were not covered by the HIA inquiry. The spouses or children of the 12 people who have died since giving evidence should receive 75% of the total lump sum. Sir Anthony said the minimum payout should be £7,500 to anyone who was abused, including those who experienced a harsh environment, or who witnessed such abuse. An additional payment of £20,000 would be made to anyone sent to Australia under a migrant scheme. An extra enhanced payment would be made to anyone who was more severely abused.
2. Hundreds of victims in Northern Ireland who suffered in state, church and charity-run homes should be offered a public apology from Government and the organisations involved. Sir Anthony said: "The inquiry also identified failings where institutions sought to protect their reputations and individuals against whom allegations were made, by failing to take any action at all, failing to report matters to, or deliberately misleading, the appropriate authorities and moving those against whom allegations were made to other locations."
3. Institutions where systemic failings happened may be asked to contribute to the compensation payments. Sir Anthony said the four-year inquiry found "evidence of systemic failings" in the institutions and homes it investigated. He said the organisations that ran the abusing homes should make a financial contribution to the Stormont Executive-run scheme.
By Claire O'Boyle
Hundreds of victims of historical abuse should each receive compensation of up to £100,000, an inquiry has said.
Crimes against children were widespread at State, church and charity-run homes between 1922 and 1995, with Catholic Church-run facilities the worst offenders, the long-awaited Historical Institutional Abuse Inquiry report found.
As well as substantial State-funded compensation, victims should be offered a "wholehearted and unconditional" government apology for spectacular failures in their care, it said.
Sir Anthony Hart, who chaired the four-year inquiry, stressed that mistakes made by authorities directly enabled abusers to carry on ruining children's lives, even after their cruel and often depraved behaviour had been identified.
"There was evidence of sexual, physical and emotional abuse, neglect and unacceptable practices across the institutions and homes examined," the inquiry chairman said.
By Claire McNeilly
Campaigners and victims of historic child abuse in Northern Ireland have welcomed the 'long-overdue' findings of systemic failure outlined in the Historical Institutional Abuse (HIA) inquiry report.
Margaret McGuckin, who has been the public face of the campaign for survivors of historical institutional child sex abuse, said it has taken a lifetime for victims to get justice.
"We have been vindicated by this inquiry and I am delighted - this is our day," she said.
"It has taken a lot of victims their whole lives to get justice, but that is what we got today.
"It will never erase the terrible memories or diminish the sadness that has become an integral part of many of us because nothing can undo the damage. There are still too many secrets being carried.
National Catholic Reporter
Cindy Wooden Catholic News Service | Jan. 20, 2017
Telling the bishops of Ireland that he wanted to hear their questions, concerns and even criticisms, Pope Francis spent almost two hours in conversation with them.
In the continuing evolution of the "ad limina" visits bishops are required to make to the Vatican, Pope Francis met Jan. 20 with 26 Irish bishops and set aside a practice that began with Pope Benedict XVI: writing a speech to the group, but handing the text to them instead of reading it.
Pope Francis did, however, maintain his practice of sitting with the bishops and asking them what was on their minds.
The ministry of a bishop, the clerical sexual abuse crisis, the role of women in the church, the need to find new ways to engage with young people, the changing status of the church in Irish society, the importance of Catholic schools and methods for handing on the faith were among the topics discussed, the bishops said. They also spoke about plans for the World Meeting of Families in Dublin in August 2018 and hopes that Pope Francis would attend.
Archbishop Eamon Martin of Armagh, Northern Ireland, president of the bishops' conference, told reporters that Pope Francis led a serious reflection on "the importance of a ministry of presence, a ministry of the ear where we are listening to the joys and the hopes, the struggles and the fears of our people, that we are walking with them, that we are reaching out to them where they are at." ...
One of the factors pushing such a rapid loss of public status for the church in Ireland was the sexual abuse scandal, he said. And as he told Pope Francis, just as the bishops were meeting with the pope, in Belfast leaders of the Historical Institutional Abuse Inquiry in Northern Ireland were making public their report on the abuse of children in residential institutions, including some run by Catholic religious orders.
One of the first meetings the bishops had in Rome, he said, was with staff of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, sharing the steps the Catholic Church in Ireland has taken to prevent further abuse, to bring abusers to justice and to assist survivors "affected by the awful trauma of the sins and crimes of people in the church."
Archbishop Martin told reporters there was a recognition that Ireland had gone "through a bad time —not for us, but particularly for children who were abused, and that anything that we did would inevitably be inadequate in responding to the suffering they experienced."
January 21 2017
The crimes of Brendan Smyth, the paedophile priest, were ignored to protect the good name of the Catholic Church, a Northern Ireland inquiry into historical abuse has found.
The Historical Institutional Abuse (HIA) inquiry detailed instances of sexual abuse by priests and lay people in a 2,300-page report published yesterday that identified widespread systemic failings and extended responsibility to the Northern Irish government and church authorities.
It said that Smyth attacked children “far and wide” at residential homes in Northern Ireland from the 1940s and was eventually convicted of more than 100 offences.
He was allowed a car to travel around the country when he fled to the Republic after he was charged by police in Northern Ireland in 1991, and over many years his Norbertine religious order and others within the church failed to ensure he did not harm more children, the inquiry found.
A deliberate decision was taken to withhold information about Smyth when he was sent to other church dioceses around the world and he was given medical treatment as a “cure” despite continuing to attack minors, it said.
“For the Norbertine order and for others outside the order in positions of responsibility in the church, their overriding priority throughout was to protect the good name of the church and at all times to prioritise Father Smyth’s interests, instead of doing what was best for the children abused by him,” it said.
Historical Institutional Abuse Inquiry - Report Chapters
By Europe correspondent Steve Cannane
The Historical Institutional Abuse inquiry in Northern Ireland has recommended children who were transported to Australia in the 1940s and '50s be given compensation for the trauma they suffered.
The inquiry found at least 138 children under 14 who were in state and church care in Northern Ireland were wrongly transported to Australia — often without their parents being told the truth about where they were being sent to.
Former child migrants who gave evidence at the inquiry said they were treated like baby convicts.
The chair of the inquiry, Sir Anthony Hart, said the Sisters of Nazareth were the worst offenders.
"They were wrong to send children to Australia who were so young," he said.
Some witnesses to the Historical Institutional Abuse (HIA) Inquiry said they were treated like child convicts.
Others claimed they were forced to eat their own vomit, preyed upon by serial sexual predators and one was told he was the product of an "evil and satanic relationship".
The poverty-stricken youngsters were among the most vulnerable in society and their experiences dated from 1922 to 1995.
They had been left in homes run by religious orders because their parents could not care for them or because they were illegitimate.
In 2014 they finally had their say as public hearings began.
One early witness said telling the truth after 65 years had finally set him free.
He spent his life alone - never to marry - after being "brutalised" by the Sisters of Nazareth nuns in Londonderry.
Minnesota Public Radio
Martin Moylan Jan 20, 2017
A former fundraiser for a nonprofit that's long campaigned to expose clergy sex abuse of children charges the group received kickbacks from victims' attorneys, including a prominent Minnesota lawyer.
Gretchen Hammond, who worked for the St. Louis-based Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests, said SNAP referred abuse victims to lawyers and then got kickbacks from lawyers in the form of donations.
SNAP denies Hammond's allegations.
The lawsuit refers to an unnamed Minnesota lawyer who apparently gave about $1 million to SNAP. Attorney Jeff Anderson said that's an obvious — and unfair — reference to him.
He said he's long supported organizations like SNAP.
"I am confident and absolutely certain we have never engaged in anything that is even close to anything that's illegal, unethical or amounting to anything close to a kickback," Anderson said.
Hammond is suing SNAP, claiming it wrongfully fired her.
Bruce Howard, Hammond's attorney, said the lawyers making donations were not named at this time because the focus of the lawsuit is on her dismissal.
Saturday, January 21, 2017
Victims of historic child abuse in the North should receive State-backed compensation payments of up to £100,000 (€115,000), an inquiry has recommended.
Those abused in State-, Church-, and charity-run homes should also be offered an official apology from Government and the organisations that ran the residential facilities where it happened, the Historical Institutional Abuse inquiry found.
Inquiry chair Anthony Hart outlined his recommendations after he revealed shocking levels of sexual, physical, and emotional abuse from 1922 to 1995.
He said the minimum pay-out should be £7,500 (€8,660), with the maximum amount given to those who had experienced severe levels of abuse as well as being transported to Australia in a controversial migrant scheme.
He said the organisations that ran the abusing homes should make a financial contribution to the Stormont Executive-run scheme.
Historical Institutional Abuse Inquiry - Report Chapters
“Unspeakable, unspeakable,” was a quote Sir Anthony Hart, chairman of the Historical Institutional Abuse (HIA) inquiry, chose from one of the witnesses who gave evidence to his inquiry.
It was as good a description as any to use to try to characterise the dark nature of his 10-volume, 2,300-page exploration of the abuse suffered by hundreds of children in care homes throughout the North after partition from 1922 to 1995.
It almost goes without saying that the quote refers to serial sex abuser Fr Brendan Smyth. It came from fellow Norbertine priest Fr William Fitzgerald who had the measure of Smyth’s paedophilia and made efforts to expose him, although he too failed to bring him to heel.
Fr Fitzgerald told the inquiry: “ . . . the youngest victim of Brendan Smyth that I know of is 28 years of age. She is going to be around for another 60 years maybe or longer, and every day of her life the horrible spectre of that man will be in her mind and what he did.
By TANYA TALAGA
Fri., Jan. 20, 2017
The Anglican Church of Canada announced Friday that it will make a formal, national apology to all the victims of notorious pedophile Ralph Rowe.
It is estimated the former Anglican minister Ralph Rowe abused hundreds of victims. The Anglican Church has never issued a formal apology. One of the communities Rowe targeted was Wapekeka First Nation.
Wapekeka is struggling after two 12-year-old girls died by suicide earlier this month. The community has tried to manage youth mental health issues and suicide epidemics for decades.
“Yesterday, Jan. 19, the Grand Chief of the Nishnawbe Aski Nation (NAN), Alvin Fiddler, noted that the Anglican Church of Canada shares responsibility for the crisis in the communities he serves and especially for the tragic number of young people who have died by suicide,” said Michael Thompson, the church’s general secretary, in a statement.
Rowe, a clergyman who used to pilot a small plane into remote northern First Nations communities in the 1970s and ’80s, targeted young boys aged 8 to 14. Many indigenous parents trusted Rowe because of his position in the church and let their children travel on camping excursions with him. Rowe was also a Boy Scout leader.
St. Louis Post-Dispatch
By Jesse Bogan St. Louis Post-Dispatch
OKAWVILLE, Ill. • The Rev. Steven F. Poole is a rank-and-file priest with his own demons, including a history of theft and a rocky relationship with church hierarchy.
Now the troubled priest has broken from tradition by calling out his boss and openly accusing a fellow priest of sexually abusing him as a 14-year-old boy.
Echoing the core complaints of sex abuse scandals that have shaken the church, Poole alleges that the leader of the Belleville Diocese has mishandled and disregarded his complaint, allowing the now retired priest to continue in good standing.
“This is difficult because I truly do believe in the sacred bond between a bishop and his priests as co-workers in the vineyard of the Lord,” Poole, 48, wrote in an email last year to Bishop Edward Braxton, who oversees all the Roman Catholic churches in Southern Illinois.
“I realize that my words will probably make no difference to you based upon prior experience. However, it is important for me to set this out to attempt to clear my conscience.”
The five-page letter, along with additional correspondence obtained by the Post-Dispatch, chronicles an effort by Poole over multiple years to trigger action by the diocese.
In 2002, a spotlight fell on abuse by the clergy in Boston. Later, a film was made on it.
“Church allowed abuse by priest for years.” That simple headline on November 6, 2002, kicked off nearly 600 news reports by the Boston Globe newspaper, exposing the scale of sexual abuse within the Boston Archdiocese. A total of 249 priests and brothers were accused of abuse, and the investigation estimated that these men had violated over 1,000 survivors in Boston alone.
In 2002, a four-member team of journalists at the Boston Globe newspaper in the US, showed that clergy in the Archdiocese of Boston had been abusing children for years, and that the church had been suppressing those stories. It exposed not just the scandal but also the cover-up. Some of these cases were old ones but typically, as has been the situation for many complainants within the Catholic church, these cases had received insufficient media attention, police scrutiny, and interest from the church. They won the Pulitzer Prize in 2003 for their work.
In 2015, the movie Spotlight was released, after over a decade since the original investigation. It served to introduce a new audience of people to the sordid side of the church. It recreated how the Spotlight team of journalists went about investigating the story for months.
Speaking to BBC News, Mike Rendez, one of the original reporters on the team, said, “We thought there would be protesters in front of the Globe.” But in fact, the team and the newspaper received wide support even from within the Catholic community.
The pastors who committed sex crimes...
Accused: Fr Edwin Figarez, 41
Victim: 14-year-old girl, unnamed
Place: Lourde Matha Church Presbytery, Puthenvelikkara
April 1, 2015
Legal status: Double life imprisonment awarded by the lower court
T.M. Varghese, former circle inspector of Vadakkekara who handled the case, narrates the sequence: “The mother registered a complaint with us on April 1, 2015. One day in March, the girl went to the church near their home. When she failed to return for a long time, the mother went over and found her in the presbytery. On being questioned, the girl revealed she had been sexually exploited by the priest for several months. We investigated his background, his reputation was not good. There are allegations that he was in trouble at the previous parish too.”
Figarez’s FB account has been deleted, but his Twitter account is an active commentary on himself. At the time he was preying on a minor, he was also exhorting people to pray. Figarez, who calls himself a dhyana guru, was producing music CDs. His tweets are littered with videos of him singing, saying the mass. His tagline states: “What I am is God’s gift. What I become is my gift to God.” Says Varghese, “He had a special ability to impress people. He left for the Gulf the day the complaint was filed. He returned after he got a special leave not to be arrested for a few days and soon went about spinning the story that the victim’s mother used to write love letters to him, which he rejected and so she had retaliated with this accusation.” Sandhya Rani, special prosecutor, POCSO, says Figarez had groomed the girl before raping her and cites the Ernakulam court’s remark on how Figarez had, unconscionably, gone to the extent of attributing bad character to the victim.
The victims of sex crimes committed by pastors. In some instances, the case has yet to see light of the day
Victim: Fathima Sofiya, 17
Accused: Fr H. Arockiaraj
Crime: Rape, murder
Place: St Stanislaus Church, Walayar, Palakkad
July 23, 2013
Legal status: Trial yet to begin. Criminal Miscellaneous petition filed by Shanthi Roselin in the Kerala HC for change of the investigating agency.
Shanthi Roselin, 42, was in a Coimbatore hospital that day, looking after a relative, when she received a phone call from Fr Arockiaraj, parish priest of Stanislaus Church in Walayar, right on the forested border between Kerala and Tamil Nadu. In a highly agitated voice, he told her that her 17-year-old daughter, Fathima Sofiya, was dead. “He called me 37 times in the next few hours. He kept repeating the word ‘killed’…and then that she had committed suicide. I couldn’t believe she was dead,” says Roselin. “Some 15 of us rushed to the hospital in Walayar but she’d already been taken to the mortuary in Palakkad. By the time we reached there, it was past 5 pm and the mortuary was closed for the day. We had to go to the police station and sign the papers for the body to be released.” The Walayar police closed the case as suicide within two weeks. Almost 18 months later, Roselin found a note written by Sofiya about the relationship between her and the priest. That’s when she got suspicious and consulted lawyers and went back to Walayar to get the case reopened.
The family got to know Arockiaraj when he was the parish priest in St Michael’s church in Coimbatore in 2006. “My daughter was in Class 6 then; he was like a family member. We continued to be in touch with him after he was transferred to Valparai and Walayar. He would come and take Sofiya for Sunday school from here to Walayar. I trusted him so much, never thought he would her hurt so brutally. That day she left college early and went to Walayar in a taxi. Within half-an-hour of meeting him, she died in the guest room.” The post-mortem indicates she was raped. The ecclesiastical court had found Arockiaraj guilty of sexual misconduct and dismissed him. The police reopened the case, but there was no evidence to prove it was not suicide. Helped by a TV reporter who acted as her nephew, Roselin recorded Arockiaraj’s confession that it was an ‘accident’, which was aired on June 15, 2015. The minutes of the ecclesiastical court, now with the police, reveal four priests and the Bishop of Coimbatore, L. Thomas Aquinas, knew about the sexual relationship between the priest and the victim and had not reported the matter to the police. On December 6, Arockiaraj was arrested and Bishop Aquinas and priests Mudalaimuthu, Kulandairaj and Melqur were charged with giving false information.
Sex crimes come with a tinge of holy terror when clergymen prey on the laity. An institutional response can’t be different from a Christian one. Why then does India’s Catholic Church not walk its pious talk?
We hear these children and their cries of pain; we also hear the cry of the Church our Mother, who weeps not only for the pain caused to her youngest sons and daughters, but also because she recognizes the sins of some of her members: the sufferings, the experiences and the pain of minors who were abused sexually by priests. It is a sin that shames us. Persons responsible for the protection of those children destroyed their dignity. We regret this deeply and we beg forgiveness. We join in the pain of the victims and weep for this sin. The sin of what happened, the sin of failing to help, the sin of covering up and denial, the sin of the abuse of power. The Church also weeps bitterly over this sin of her sons and she asks forgiveness. Today, as we commemorate the feast of the Holy Innocents, I would like us to renew our complete commitment to ensuring that these atrocities will no longer take place in our midst. Let us find the courage needed to take all necessary measures and to protect in every way the lives of our children, so that such crimes may never be repeated. In this area, let us adhere, clearly and faithfully, to “zero tolerance”.
Excerpts of the letter written by Pope Francis to Bishops all over the world, released on January 2, 2017, expressing regret and begging for forgiveness for crimes against children, asking them to show zero tolerance to such crimes.
He (Jesus) made a whip out of cords and drove them all out of the temple area, with the sheep and the oxen, and spilled the coins of the money-changers and overturned their tables and to those who sold doves he said, take these out of here, and stop making my Father’s house a marketplace.”
- John 2:15-16, The Bible
Hardly 10 kilometres from Kodungallur, Kerala, where St Thomas the apostle is believed to have first set foot and brought the teachings of Jesus Christ to the Indian shores in 52 AD, lies the village of Puthenvelikkara. This is a world unto itself, a long way off from the Vatican, where the Pope wrote his remarkable Letter to Bishops on the Feast of the Holy Innocents on December 28, speaking of “the Herods of our time”. A bylane that leads to the Lourde Matha Church turns off from the Puthenvelikkara police station, and runs along the Periyar river, twisting through a thick canopy of trees. A meditative quietude cloaks the air. But it is deceptive—for, even today, anger and sadness overwhelm the laity of the Lourde Matha church. The sanctity of the church had been violently desecrated by the vile deeds of its former vicar. From January to March, 2015, Fr Edwin Figarez, 41, the then vicar of the church, had raped a 14-year-old girl several times in the presbytery in the church precincts. Despicably enough, it is reported, he had used the confessional chamber to entice the girl to his room.
When the child’s parents discovered this horror, they asked the Latin Catholic Bishop of the Kottapuram diocese, Joseph Karikkassery, to defrock Figarez, and not allow him to say mass. Figarez was immediately suspended by the bishop. But to everyone’s dismay, perhaps in an act of disobedience, the priest celebrated the mass on March 29, Palm Sunday. This is a holy day for Christians, which celebrates the humble entry of Jesus on a donkey into Jerusalem, a symbolic act, days before the crucifixion. That he was allowed to say the holy mass was repugnant to many in the congregation. On April 1, 2015, with the backing of a few of the church members, the mother of the victim filed a complaint at the Puthenvelikkara police station. A year and half later, on December 8, 2016, a special court in Ernakulam found Figarez guilty and sentenced him to double imprisonment under various sections of the IPC and the POCSO (Protection of Children from Sexual Offences) Act.
ANOO BHUYAN INTERVIEWS BISHOP THEODORE MASCARENHAS
Why does the Catholic church appear to protect its clergy accused of murder and rape? For instance, in the case of Sister Abhaya’s murder, why does the Church go out of its way to defend, protect and rehabilitate the accused, ridiculing the due process of law? Palanivel Jeyapaul, who pleaded guilty of molestation in the US, was even reinstated and is back as a priest in India. Another priest, who is now convicted of rape in Kerala, was allowed to celebrate the mass on an auspicious day even after being accused of rape, dividing the parish down the middle. Are these attempts to put the laity down and turn them into second class citizens without any rights? Why does the church rehabilitate convicts like Fr Lazar of the Kollam diocese?
In a telephonic conversation with Anoo Bhuyan, Bishop Theodore Mascarenhas, secretary general of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India (CBCI), declined to answer questions on specific cases, but talked about the church’s position on such matters. Excerpts:
What is the official position of the Catholic church in India on cases of sexual abuse by the clergy?
We are totally against any sexual offence. It is not according to Catholic teaching. We are against any form of disrespect to the dignity of women, not just harassment or rape. If we have failed in any way, we would apologise to the people we have hurt. That is the official position. This is why we are working on our own sexual harassment policy at work. CBCI is coming out with a document within a month.
In what you have just said, there is an acknowledgement of these crimes taking place. According to the Vishakha guidelines, every workplace is supposed to have a policy to deal with sexual harassment. What is the shape of CBCI’s policy on this?
The policy is zero tolerance for sexual harassment. We want it to be easy to implement. We will have monitoring cells and complaint cells at diocese or institution level. We want to respond to complaints speedily too. We are interested that all employees are educated about their role and the respect they should show to other humans. We have also started implementing POCSO at our institutions. We are moving from school to school to make the staff POCSO-compliant. Besides punishment, I feel proper education has to take place in society. We have cases within the Catholic church just as outside in the society.
International Business Times
By Ananya Roy
January 21, 2017
Continuing his anti-Catholic Church rhetoric, Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte questioned their "ascendancy" to criticise his drug war, a day after he challenged Catholic priests to try crystal meth to understand the problem of narcotic addiction.
In response to criticism by some churches in the country over the drug killings, the self-confessed foul-mouthed leader hurled abuses at them, citing cases of alleged sexual molestation and corruption involving priests.
"You expose me, fine. I expose you. Why? When you commit mistakes, it's okay but when we do, no? B******t. That's stupid," the firebrand leader said during the oath taking of newly promoted police officials at his official residence – the Malacañang Palace – on Thursday (19 January).
The former Davao city mayor, who revealed in 2016 that he was physically molested by a priest when he was young, said: "If you cannot even give justice to the small boys that you have molested in the past, you do not have that moral ascendancy to lecture (me) on what to do. Sanctity of life? You're enjoying your worth.
"When we were making confessions to you, we were being molested," the president said. He then raised the issues of homosexual acts allegedly taking place inside seminaries and slammed the churches over their failure to take action.