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June 25, 2019

Former Catholic priest Barry McGrory found guilty of historic sex assaults

OTTAWA (CANADA)
Ottawa Citizen

June 25, 2019

By Andrew Duffy

Defrocked Catholic priest Barry McGrory has been found guilty of sexually abusing two teenage boys in a church rectory during the early years of his long and sordid clerical career.

McGrory, 85, showed no emotion as Superior Court Justice Michelle O’Bonsawin delivered her verdict Monday.

“I find that Mr. McGrory preyed on the vulnerability of these complainants,” O’Bonsawin said in finding McGrory guilty on two counts of indecent assault and two counts of gross indecency.

“Mr. McGrory used his position as a parish priest,” she said, “to exploit vulnerable and naïve young men for his own sexual satisfaction.”

Based on evidence in the case, O’Bonsawin found that McGrory used alcohol to groom one troubled young victim, and medication to “destabilize” another.

“Mr. McGrory’s crimes were all the more serious because of his trusted position in the community,” the judge said. “He infiltrated their families and used their faith in him to take advantage of the complainants.”

McGrory had pleaded not guilty to the charges, which were laid in connection with two historic sex abuse complaints dating to the late 1960s.

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

OLEAN (NY)
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

CORPUS CHRISTI (TX)
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

MINNEAPOLIS (MN)
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.

SHEPHERDS THROWING PRIESTS TO THE WOLVES–MISTAKES OF THE BISHOPS PART TWO

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

SAVANNAH (GA)
WSAV TV

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

NASHVILLE (TN)
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'

PARIS (FRANCE)
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 (IL)
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

ST. LOUIS (MO)
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 (NY)
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 (IL)
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

LANSING (MI)
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

ROME (ITALY)
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

GRAND RAPIDS (MI)
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

ROME (ITALY)
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

DUNEDIN (NEW ZEALAND)
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

HONG KONG (CHINA)
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

BEERWAH (AUSTRALIA)
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

SCRANTON (PA)
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

SYDNEY (AUSTRALIA)
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?

MARTINSBURG (WV)
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

ROME (ITALY)
Crux

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

CLEVELAND (OH)
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

ROME (ITALY)
Crux

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

CHICAGO (IL)
CBS TV

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

JACKSONVILLE (FL)
Times-Union

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 (FL)
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

ROME (ITALY)
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

SPRINGFIELD (MA)
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

ALTOONA (PA)
Tribune-Democrat

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

NEW YORK (NY)
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’

NORWICH (CT)
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’

WASHINGTON (DC)
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

ARLINGTON (VA)
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

WAHSINGTON (DC)
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

VENTURA COUNTY (CA)
KEYT 3 TV

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

KANSAS CITY (MO)
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

COLORADO SPRINGS (CO)
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.

Woman sues Fort Worth seminary, former president she says told her being raped was 'a good thing'

DALLAS (TX)
Morning News

June 22, 2019

By Tom Steele

A woman is suing former Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary president Paige Patterson, claiming that he abused his position and failed to protect her after she reported being raped multiple times by a fellow student.

The lawsuit, filed in March and unsealed earlier this month, also names the Fort Worth seminary as a defendant. It seeks unspecified damages, saying that the woman has suffered continuing emotional and physical pain as a result of the assaults and Patterson's response to them.

An attorney for Patterson, Shelby Sharpe, could not be reached for comment Friday.

Sharpe has previously said that the woman made several "contradictory" statements to authorities and seminary officials about her assaults, and he has told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram that he had not heard "one credible attack" against Patterson.

'Relentless'
The woman, who uses the pseudonym Jane Roe in the lawsuit, says that she met her attacker — who was employed as a plumber on campus and had keys to all campus buildings — shortly after she began attending the seminary in September 2014. He quickly became infatuated with her, despite her rejection of him, she says, and "began to pursue her relentlessly."

That October, the lawsuit says, Roe fell asleep in a lawn chair on campus and awoke to the man sexually assaulting her. He warned her not to tell anyone while showing her a gun, she says. He was physically and verbally abusive to her in the weeks that followed, and she took to wearing heavy makeup to hide her bruises.

In April 2015, the man pushed his way into her home and raped her at gunpoint, then raped her again the next day, the lawsuit says. She eventually told her family about the assaults, and in August 2015 she reported them to Patterson.

Third priest accused of sexual abuse files lawsuit against Diocese of Corpus Christi

CORPUS CHRISTI (TX)
Corpus Christi Caller Times

June 20, 2019

By Eleanor Dearman

A third priest who was named in a list of clergy members who were "credibly accused" of sexual misconduct is suing Bishop Michael Mulvey and the Diocese of Corpus Christi.

Msgr. Jesús García Hernando is the latest to claim the diocese and bishop made a "false" statement in claiming he was "credibly accused" of sexually assaulting a minor.

"Defendants knew the statement was false and acted with reckless disregard for the truth," the lawsuit states. "The publication of the statement was made with malice."

While Hernando was indicted and sued in the 1990s over molestation allegations he was never convicted of a crime.

The lawsuit was filed on Hernando's behalf by Corpus Christi Attorney Andrew Greenwell. Greenwell is also representing John Feminelli and Michael Heras in similar lawsuits that were filed earlier this year.

Three priests sue Corpus Christi diocese for inclusion in credibly accused list

CORPUS CHRISTI (TX)
Catholic News Agency

June 22, 2019

Three priests have filed suits against the Diocese of Corpus Christi and its bishop, claiming that they were wrongfully included in a list of clerics credibly accused of sexually abusing a minor within the diocese.

The Corpus Christi Caller Times reported June 20 that Fr. Jesús García Hernando had filed a suit over his inclusion on the list. In March, both Msgr. Michael Heras and Fr. John Feminelli filed similar suits.

The suits state that “Defendants knew the statement was false and acted with reckless disregard for the truth. The publication of the statement was made with malice.”

All three are being represented by Andrew Greenwell of Harris & Greenwell, who told the Caller Times that a fourth suit may be filed as well.

The diocese had earlier filed motions to dismiss the suits from Heras and Feminelli, saying the list was “made in good faith.”

The Corpus Christi diocese released a list of credibly accused clerics Jan. 31, amid a wave of such admissions throughout the US following a Pennsylvania grand jury report on abuse by clerics in six of the state's dioceses.

Announcing the list, Bishop Michael Mulvey of Corpus Christi said that “an Independent Committee comprised of outside legal professionals reviewed all cleric files to determine whether an allegation was credible,” and that “in some cases, files were also reviewed by the Diocesan Review Board.”

The diocese “accepted all recommendations from the Independent Committee and the Diocesan Review Board regarding the names to be included on this list,” he stated.

Churches must do more to stop abuse

BROOKHAVEN (MS)
The Daily Leader

June 21, 2019

After lengthy investigations by two Texas newspapers, it is clear that sexual abuse is not a problem for one particular faith or another. It infects them all.

Though the Catholic Church has been under the microscope more often, other faiths and denominations are experiencing their own wake-up calls to the prevalence of predators in pews and pulpits.

The newspapers’ reporting shows that churches in the Southern Baptist Convention, the largest Protestant denomination in the U.S., too often refused to take sexual assault seriously. Hundreds of Southern Baptist pastors and staff have been accused of sexual misconduct over the past 20 years, including dozens who returned to church duties. More than 700 victims were identified.

Letter: What more can church do to address scandal?

READING (PA)
Reading Eagle

June 21, 2019

I am an 84-year-old Jesuit priest writing in response to “Skeptics: Bishops' abuse steps fall short” (Reading Eagle, June 14).

Reading is in the Catholic Diocese of Allentown. Our diocese has been directed to report immediately to civil authorities incidents of sexual abuse of minors that have been reported to any of us. This mandate would include incidents involving priests, deacons or bishops. Officials of any rank who do not comply are breaking the law and should be reported. There is no disparity between the directives given to all people in the diocese by diocesan regulations and the directives of civil law. So what's the gripe?

Regarding the role of laypersons in decisions regarding just payouts to people who have been abused, the diocese has taken steps to involve appointed lay persons to such arbitration. In the same edition of the Eagle, “Payments to clergy abuse survivors in Philly and Scranton top $20 million” points out that those two dioceses, which have paid a total of $20 million to victims, have used the services of laypersons.

SNAP, the organization advocating for the rights of people abused by clergy, feels that more should be done to prevent cover-ups by clergy and bishops. Such cover-ups are now clearly violations of the law. What more should be expected from the church than that it direct all of its personnel to comply with the state's law and report to civil authorities those who do not, as it has done?

The Rev. Lucien F. Longtin
Lower Heidelberg Township

The Law that Heals Podcast

MINNEAPOLIS (MN)
Law Office of Pat Noaker

June 21, 2019

By Tyler Aliperto

A survivor of clergy sexual abuse and prominent advocate for survivors, David Clohessy, discusses why he began advocating for other survivors, as well as talking about an organization which he is a part of and formerly led, SNAP – The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests – before telling us why “only vigilance protects the vulnerable.”

95 claims filed in church bankruptcy case

ALBUQUERQUE (NM)
Associated Press

Jun 22, 2019

Nearly 400 claims have been filed against New Mexico’s largest and oldest Roman Catholic diocese as part of a pending bankruptcy case that stems from the clergy sex abuse scandal, church officials announced Friday.

The Archdiocese of Santa Fe reported that 395 people filed claims against the Church as of the June 17 deadline. That included 374 claims involving allegations of sex abuse. The remaining 21 were related to other grievances.

The archdiocese shocked parishioners across much of New Mexico when it filed for Chapter 11 reorganization last year, joining nearly two dozen other dioceses around the United States that have been struggling with the fallout from the abuse scandal.

“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 issued Friday.

New Mexico has a long history with clergy sex abuse because many priests from around the country were sent to the state to get treatment for pedophilia. Church documents as well as legal filings and victim testimony indicate the priests were later assigned to parishes and schools across the state.

Numerous lawsuits resulted over the years, and the Church was forced during the 1990s to begin publicly addressing the problem.

Time to choose: Addressing sex abuse

ALBANY (NY)
Times Union

June 21, 2019

By Bishop Edward Scharfenberger

Nothing is more central to our faith than Jesus — to believe God loves us in Him — personally. After all, we call ourselves Christians! The Father sent his only-begotten Son into the world for one reason: to announce his love for every human being, going into the depths of where love is lacking, and to lift us in his Holy Spirit, the heart of God's love.

Nothing is more important for the Church than to announce that message. It this context I offer my reflections on the spring meeting of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

On the upside, we resolved any question of whether the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People, should be applied to bishops. We voted overwhelmingly to hold ourselves accountable for instances of sexual abuse of children and vulnerable persons, sexual misconduct, or intentional mishandling of such cases.

Sexual abuse victims are calling for resignation of Bishop Donald Trautman

ERIE (PA)
YourErie.com

June 21, 2019

Sexual abuse victims are calling for action to be taken against former Erie Bishop Donald Trautman.

James Faluszczak, a former priest and victim of child sexual abuse, is calling for the Diocese of Erie to hold the bishops accountable for their actions and stand up for victims’ rights. “It’s a crime, it is a scandal that these men are in ministry and my mind as I say the wolves in shepherds clothing,” said Faluszczak.

“Bishop Persico has been aware of multiple sets of allegations of cover up by Bishop Trautman for at least a year,” said Faluszczak. “Both from my own allegations from the substance of the grand jury report.”

June 21, 2019

An Alabama megachurch will form its own police force after passage of controversial law

BIRMINGHAM (AL)
CNN

June 21, 2019

By Jasmine Hyman and Brian Ries, CNN

An Alabama megachurch plans to start its own police force thanks to a new law permitting the church to do just that.

The law, signed by Gov. Kay Ivey, authorizes Briarwood Presbyterian to "appoint and employ one or more suitable persons to act as police officers to protect the property of the school or academy."

A similar bill was proposed four years ago, but it was dropped by the Alabama legislature amid a public outcry over the Presbyterian Church in America's racist history, as well as criticism that the bill was unconstitutional and violated the Establishment Clause's separation of church and state. Briarwood Presbyterian is part of the PCA.

Briarwood Presbyterian's congregation is overwhelmingly white. Nearby Birmingham is two-thirds black.

The PCA is a conservative denomination that originated early 1970s Alabama. In 2016 it apologized for "racial sins" that included "the segregation of worshipers by race" as well as "the participation in and defense of white supremacist organizations," among other things.

Officials at Briarwood Presbyterian Church say that a police force is necessary in order to adequately protect its 4,100 members, including 2,000 students and faculty on its two campuses.
The church hopes its new security force will keep intruders and prevent trespassers from accessing the property, it said in a press release that was posted by CNN affiliate WBRC.

The officers will complete state certified training by the Peace Officers Standards and Training Commission. The officers will also be trained on the proper use of a non-lethal weapon.

Report of sexual abuse by late bishop filed with Hampden Count DA

BERKSHIRE (MA)
Berkshire Eagle

June 21, 2019

By Larry Parnass

Christopher J. Weldon, a longtime Catholic bishop for the Springfield Diocese, now stands formally accused of sexually abusing an altar boy.

Three weeks after denying that it had received a credible accusation against Weldon of molestation, the diocese Thursday filed an initial report of a claim of such abuse with the Hampden County District Attorney's Office.

That step came after the Most Rev. Mitchell T. Rozanski, the current bishop, heard directly that day from a Chicopee man who says Weldon was one of several clergy in the Springfield Diocese who sexually abused him in the early 1960s, when he was 9 or 10.

By speaking Thursday with the alleged victim, Rozanski was able to reset the clock for the diocese in terms of this man and to comply with a request by District Attorney Anthony D. Gulluni that allegations be forwarded to his office.

"My impression was that the bishop `got it,' " the man said in a statement of his meeting with Rozanski. The alleged victim, now in his late 60s, presented his story during a two-hour meeting held at his request.

Meantime, a spokeswoman for Mercy Medical Center in Springfield would not say Friday whether allegations against Weldon have led officials to rethink use of the former bishop's name.

The medical center oversees operations of the Weldon Rehabilitation Hospital at 175 Carew St. in Springfield. It is named for the bishop who oversaw the diocese, which includes Berkshire County, from 1950 to 1977. Weldon died in 1982.

Editorial: Call 911, not the church

BUFFALO (NY)
Buffalo News

June 21, 2019

Catholic bishops came out last week with their plan to deal with bishops who commit or cover up sexual abuse. Their idea is that they will watch each other, and it is wholly insufficient.

It’s startling that this needs to be said, but allegations of criminal sexual abuse should be referred directly to the police — investigators who are trained to get to the bottom of such issues. It doesn’t matter if the allegations are against priests, bishops, ministers, teachers, Scout leaders or Uncle Pete: Go to the police. That the bishops either don’t get that or don’t want it can only promote the kind of arrogant insularity that led to this crisis in the first place.

The Catholic Church is full of many good men, of course, but they are, in the end, only human. Many of them, including bishops, may be willing and able to surmount the temptations that are inherent in our shared humanity — largely, in this case, self-interest. But it has been plain over the years that too many of them are neither willing nor able. That’s the problem with this non-solution.

In many cases, bishops have helped to cover up the problem of sexual abuse by priests, including the molestation of minors. In some cases, bishops, themselves have been guilty of such abuse. Some note that most recent allegations of abuse have been from assaults that occurred many years ago, arguing that the church has learned from its own terrible history.

Diocese of Alexandria releases names of 3 former clergy accused of sexual abuse

ALEXANDRIA (LA)
KALB TV

June 21, 2019

On Friday, the Diocese of Alexandria released the names of three additional clergy against whom there have been credible allegations of sexual abuse of minors.

Fr. Adrian Molenschot has allegations of sexual misconduct and abuse of male minors dating back to the 1960s. He died in December 1994.

Fr. Nino Viviano has an allegation of sexual misconduct and abuse of a female minor dating back to the early 1960s. He is currently 91-years-old and living in a nursing home in Florida. He retired in 1998 and his facilities for ministry were not extended to him since that time. He is currently suffering from the advanced stages of dementia and was not capable of participating in the review of this most recent allegation.

Fr. Yves Robitaille has an allegation of sexual misconduct and abuse of a male minor dating back to the mid-1950s. He retired in May 1990 and died on July 27, 1998 at the age of 72.

Evidence for all three were presented to the Permanent Review Board and the allegations were deemed credible.

The Diocese of Alexandria pledges to provide updates to the list of credibly accused clergy as new information becomes available and as reported by authorities. They said they hope these updates provide healing and closure and show their commitment to transparency and accountability.

The individuals added to the list are not currently in active ministry and have not been for many years and the allegations were brought to the Diocese of Alexandria’s attention only recently.

Prominent Baptist Sued for Mistreating Victim

ST. LOUIS (MO)
Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests

June 21, 2019

A brave woman is suing the former head of a Baptist seminary for trying to intimidate her when she reported being raped. We applaud her courage and hope others with information or suspicions about the minister come forward.

Paige Patterson, who ran Southwest Baptist Theological Seminary, is accused of trying to “prevent (victim Jane Roe's) accusations from coming to light.” This is entirely consistent with what we know about Patterson, a man who was terminated by the SBTS previously for his attempts to "break down" a rape victim.

Lawsuits like this will help deter future callousness towards victims and deceit by employers. We hope this brave survivor's case will prevail. But regardless of the legal outcome, she has already helped victims of violence an enormously by stepping forward and exposing wrongdoing. We hope her example inspires others who have been intimidated into silence to step forward, make a report, and start healing.

Prominent Baptist Sued for Mistreating Victim

ST. LOUIS (MO)
Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests

June 21, 2019

A brave woman is suing the former head of a Baptist seminary for trying to intimidate her when she reported being raped. We applaud her courage and hope others with information or suspicions about the minister come forward.

Paige Patterson, who ran Southwest Baptist Theological Seminary, is accused of trying to “prevent (victim Jane Roe's) accusations from coming to light.” This is entirely consistent with what we know about Patterson, a man who was terminated by the SBTS previously for his attempts to "break down" a rape victim.

Lawsuits like this will help deter future callousness towards victims and deceit by employers. We hope this brave survivor's case will prevail. But regardless of the legal outcome, she has already helped victims of violence an enormously by stepping forward and exposing wrongdoing. We hope her example inspires others who have been intimidated into silence to step forward, make a report, and start healing.

Editorial: Positive steps

TORONTO (CANADA)
Catholic Register

June 21, 2019

A quarter century ago, towards the end of a year in which her children had been running amok, Queen Elizabeth lamented her annus horribilis, her horrible year. The bishops of America know that feeling.

The past year was indeed horrible for the leaders of America’s Catholic Church. Reports of clerical sex abuse and coverups — news headlines horribilis — rolled over them like a tank in a clover field to crush their collective reputation. The onslaught was unprecedented and relentless — and it was largely deserved.

But give the bishops credit for wasting no time in starting a long process to repair the damage. And not just in a cosmetic way, but by rolling up their sleeves with a genuine sense of urgency.

That resolve was apparent during the bishops’ June 11-13 general meeting in Baltimore. In a flurry of votes, they approved plans to implement without delay recent measures decreed by Pope Francis to safeguard minors, punish offenders and hold bishops accountable. And they took the added step of authorizing a third-party hotline to receive confidential allegations of abuse or coverup by bishops.

APNewsBreak: 395 claims filed in church bankruptcy case

ALBUQUERQUE(NM)
Associated Press

June 21, 2019

By Susan Montoya Bryan

Nearly 400 claims have been filed against New Mexico’s largest and oldest Roman Catholic diocese as part of a pending bankruptcy case that stems from the clergy sex abuse scandal, church officials announced Friday.

The Archdiocese of Santa Fe reported that 395 people filed claims against the church as of the June 17 deadline. That included 374 claims involving allegations of sex abuse. The remaining 21 were related to other grievances.

The archdiocese shocked parishioners across much of New Mexico when it filed for Chapter 11 reorganization last year, joining nearly two dozen other dioceses around the United States that have been struggling with the fallout from the abuse scandal.

“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 issued Friday.

New Mexico has a long history with clergy sex abuse because many priests from around the country were sent to the state to get treatment for pedophilia. Church documents as well as legal filings and victim testimony indicate the priests were later assigned to parishes and schools across the state.

Numerous lawsuits resulted over the years, and the church was forced during the 1990s to begin publicly addressing the problem.

Trautman: Buffalo-related claims ‘not accurate’

ERIE (PA)
Go Erie

Posted June 20, 2019

By Ed Palattella

The retired Erie bishop responds to allegations that he mishandled abuse reports when he was chancellor of the Diocese of Buffalo decades ago.

Retired Erie Catholic Bishop Donald W. Trautman on Thursday said he did nothing wrong related to the case of a New York priest accused of molesting minors more than 30 years ago, when Trautman was chancellor of the Catholic Diocese of Buffalo.

Trautman was responding to allegations made at a news conference in Buffalo on Tuesday for James Bottlinger, 50. He said Trautman knew about abuse claims against the Rev. Michael Freeman, whom Bottlinger said molested him when he was a teenager.

“The assertions about me from the press conference in Buffalo regarding James Bottlinger are not accurate,” Trautman said in an email. “I can state with absolute certainty that I never saw Freeman and Bottlinger in Freeman’s bedroom or ‘private quarters.’

“If I had observed any inappropriate actions, I would have immediately corrected it,” Trautman said. “I did not cover up anything.”

Court documents detail text messages between Kevin Spacey's accuser and his girlfriend

NANTUCKET (MA)
CNN

June 21, 2019

By Evan Simko-Bednarski

See text messages purportedly sent by Kevin Spacey's accuser

Filings made public Thursday in the Kevin Spacey sexual assault case include text messages sent by Spacey's accuser on the night of the alleged incident.

Spacey is accused of indecent assault and battery for allegedly groping an 18-year-old busboy in July 2016 at the Club Car restaurant and bar on the island of Nantucket. He has pleaded not guilty.
A newly released March filing by Spacey's attorney includes screenshots of texts exchanged between Spacey's accuser and his girlfriend on the night of the alleged encounter.
CNN is not naming Spacey's accuser because he is an alleged sexual assault victim.

Is The Supreme Court About To Give Haters Of The 'Deep State' What They Want?

UNITED STATES
NPR

June 21, 2019

By Nina Totenberg

Lost in the shuffle Thursday at the Supreme Court — with the major decision released in a separation of church and state case dominating — was another ruling that could, at some point, have wide ramifications for how American government functions.

The court ruled that Congress did not overstep its authority in handing off important power to the attorney general under the federal Sex Offender Registration Act, or SORNA.

The court's decision came on a 5-3 vote, but only four justices agreed on the reasoning.

There was a landmine in the decision, however. With the fifth vote, Justice Samuel Alito said that if a majority of the court were willing to reexamine its long-held position, he might be willing to do the same.

For now, he was not willing to go that far, but that could change.

At issue in the case is the practice that allows federal agencies to write rules and make decisions about enforcing legislation enacted by Congress. This affects any law Congress passes, from the sex-offender statute in this case to, for example, the Affordable Care Act and on.

ABUSE SURVIVOR OFFERS HOPE TO OTHERS

DETROIT (MI)
ChurchMilitant.com

June 20, 2019

By Anita Carey

Jim Kotyk: 'By the grace of God, that wound can heal'

A victim of sexual abuse in the Byzantine eparchy of Parma, Ohio shows the path to healing for victims of abuse and for the Church.

Jim Kotyk is on a mission. He wants his story of abuse, suffering and forgiveness to provide hope for other victims and encourage good priests to persevere in their vocation.

Church Militant spoke with Kotyk, who said, "I feel like God has given me a gift and I want to share that gift."

"I hope I can help others who've been molested by family, teachers and clergy. It is such a horrible, horrible wound," Kotyk said. "But with the grace of God, that wound can heal."

He said he was given the grace of forgiveness that allowed him to reclaim his life and his relationship with God.

Kotyk hopes he can reach those who've walked away from the Church. He encouraged them to "take a second look, learn a little bit about what you've left behind."

Catholic Diocese of Cleveland identifies 22 more priests previously accused of sexual abuse

CLEVELAND (OH)
The Plain Dealer

June 21, 2019

By Cory Shaffer

The Catholic Diocese of Cleveland on Friday released a list of 22 previously unnamed priests who have been accused of sexually abusing children while wearing the cloth.

Bishop Nelson Perez announced the release in a letter in which he said a committee assembled by the diocese had determined that the accusations against each cleric on the list were “more likely than not to be true."

“While the addition of new names to this list is certainly an occasion of profound sadness, inasmuch as it reminds us of the great harm experienced as a result of sexual abuse, I pray that it also may be an occasion for healing and a step toward restoring trust in the Church,” Perez wrote in the letter.

Among the priests named in the list is the Rev. Anthony Schuerger, who was placed on administrative leave Friday due to allegations that he sexually abused a child decades ago, the church said.

Schuerger has been pastor at St. Malachi Parish in Cleveland since 1994, and was still listed as pastor on Friday.

The list comes after Perez pledged in October to follow the lead of dioceses around the country and release the names of priests credibly accused of sexual abuse, past and present.

The diocese in 2002 began publishing names of priests who were accused from that year forward. The move came following a grand jury inquiry led by then-Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Bill Mason that identified hundreds of names but led to very few charges. A judge subsequently ruled that that report ought to remain secret, and the names included in the report had never been released.

The list released Friday includes 29 priests whom the diocese has previously named publicly.

Negotiations continue over effort to extend sex-abuse statute of limitations

PROVIDENCE (RI)
Providence Journal

June 20, 2019

By Katherine Gregg

With the legislative session nearing an end, a handful of Rhode Island victims of childhood sexual abuse came to the State House to beg Senate leaders to remove a potential new barrier to lawsuits against the church and any other “youth-serving” institutions that failed to stop past abuse.

The Rhode Island Catholic Church lost one major State House battle with the historic passage on Wednesday night of an abortion-rights law, but it is still waging war on a second legislative front: the potential cost of clergy sex abuse.

With the legislative session nearing an end, a half dozen or so Rhode Island victims of childhood sexual abuse came to the State House to beg Senate leaders to remove a potential new barrier to lawsuits against the church and any other “youth-serving” institutions that failed to stop past abuse.

They included long-ago abuse victim Josephine O’Connell of Providence, 78, who came with a sign that said: “Justice for Childhood Victims.″

Kathryn Robb — a lawyer, victim and executive director of the national advocacy group Child USA — told a news conference:

Stigmatines Must Move By June 30 For Waltham High School: Judge

WALTHAM (MA)
Patch

June 20, 2019

By Jenna Fisher,

A Middlesex Superior Court judge ruling comes after nearly a year of an eminent domain battle between the city and the Stigmatines.

A Middlesex Superior Court judge ruled that the handful of priests who live on the Stigmatine property must leave by June 30. The court ruling enables the district to move forward with plans to build a new high school there, after years of back and forth about where to build in light of increased enrollment. It also comes after a months-long eminent domain battle with the Trustees of the Stigmatine Fathers religious order.

"The Trustees shall be required to vacate the Property as set forth in the City's notice to vacate letter dated May 1, 2019, which sets the final date to fully vacate the Property as no later than June 30," wrote Justice of the Supreme Court Valerie Yarashus in a court ruling late last month.

An Archbishop told a Jesuit school to fire a gay teacher. They said no

INDIANA
CNN

June 21, 2019

By Daniel Burke

A Jesuit high school in Indiana can no longer call itself "Catholic" because it employs a teacher engaged in a same-sex marriage, the Archbishop of Indianapolis says.

Archbishop Charles Thompson's decree, dated June 21, means that Brebeuf Jesuit Preparatory School in Indianapolis will no longer be recognized or identified as a Catholic institution within the archdiocese.

Thompson said the church considers Catholic school teachers to be "ministers" of the faith.

"To effectively bear witness to Christ, whether they teach religion or not, all ministers in their professional and private lives must convey and be supportive of Catholic Church teaching," the Archdiocese of Indiana said in a statement on Thursday.

The Archdiocese said they tried but failed to reach an agreement with the Jesuit school.

Report: U.K. church officials 'deliberately misled' U.S. archdiocese

MANCHESTER (ENGLAND)
Catholic News Service

June 21, 2019

By Simon Caldwell

An English church official "deliberately misled" a U.S. archdiocese into harboring a pedophile priest and helping him to escape justice for a quarter of a century, said a report from a child abuse inquiry.

The Archdiocese of Los Angeles was persuaded to shelter Father James Robinson, who during the 1970s and 1980s had raped several boys, after officials gave false information about his sexual history.

The Independent Inquiry into Child Sex Abuse concluded in a report published June 21 that the deception meant that Father Robinson "was able to remain in America and avoid prosecution for nearly 25 years."

It said Msgr. Daniel Leonard, former vicar general of the Archdiocese of Birmingham, England, where Father Robinson was trained, ordained and served as a priest, "deliberately misled the Archdiocese of Los Angeles about the nature of the allegations faced by Robinson."

The Irish-born Father Robinson was ordained in 1971, but the report said he was abusing boys before he entered seminary, during his formation and after he was ordained.

Clergy Sex Abuse Victims Call for Transparency, Resignation of Bishops

ERIE (PA)
Erie News Now

June 21, 2019

A man who has spoken out about alleged clergy abuse to Erie News Now in the past called for transparency and action against former Erie Bishop Donald Trautman, who is accused of not doing enough to stop the abuse, during a news conference in Buffalo late Friday morning.

James Faluszcazk, a former priest who said he was sexually abused by a priest, claims Trautman is being protected by the church and has not faced any sanctions or investigations against him.

He told Erie News Now that Bishop Persico has the authority to take action within his own Diocese and withdraw Trautman's faculties.

During a news conference in western New York on Tuesday, attorneys announced Trautman will be sued by a man who says he was the victim of abuse by a priest.

James Bottlinger, 50, said as a high school student, he was abused by Father Michael Freeman in the 1980s, and Donald Trautman saw him in the priest's private quarters.

He said Trautman, who was chancellor of the Buffalo Diocese at the time, knew what was going on, and the church knew of victims before him and did not stop the abuse.

Birmingham Archdiocese let children be abused and harboured paedophile priests 'to protect its own reputation'

LONDON (ENGLAND)
The Independent

June 21, 2019

By Chris Baynes

Birmingham’s Catholic church protected paedophile priests and allowed child sex abuse to continue in order to preserve its own reputation, a damning inquiry has found.

The Archdiocese of Birmingham “repeatedly failed” to alert police to allegations against its clergy and in doing so let perpetrators carry on abusing victims for years, the report concluded.

The Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA) examined more than 130 allegations of abuse against 78 people associated with the archdiocese since the 1930s. But it said the true scale of offending was likely to be far higher.

Thirteen abusers have been convicted and three other individuals received cautions over offences involving 53 children. Many other victims have since died, meaning their allegations cannot not be fully investigated.

Professor Alexis Jay, who is chairing the inquiry, said: “I am truly shocked by the scale of child sexual abuse within the Archdiocese of Birmingham. The number of perpetrators and abused children is likely to be far higher than the figures suggest.

Jane Roe Sues Former Baptist Seminary President For Alleged Rape Cover-Up

WASHINGTON (DC)
Daily Caller

June 21, 2019

By Mary Margaret Olohan

Plaintiff Jane Roe filed a suit against the former president of a Baptist Seminary claiming that he covered up her alleged rape and sought to “break her down.”

Jane Roe was a student at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas, who reported “multiple violent sexual assaults” by a fellow student who was also an employee at the seminary.

Defendant Leighton Paige Patterson was President of SWBTS at the time and reportedly sought to prevent Roe’s accusations from coming to light, according to the suit.

Email records included in the lawsuit reveal that Patterson asked campus security at the seminary if he could privately meet with Roe so he could “break her down.”

SWBTS Chief of Campus Security wrote in an email to Patterson that he would like to be present when Patterson interviewed Roe.

Patterson replied in an email, “We will see. I have to break her down and may need no official types there but let me see.”

Montreal sexual abuse victim says Catholic clergy interrogated him, looking for inconsistencies in his story

MONTREAL (CANADA)
CBC News

June 20, 2019

By Leah Hendry

Montreal archdiocese’s internal investigation held in building where man had been abused by priest as a child

A.B. says he had no idea what he was walking into when he was asked by the auxiliary bishop of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Montreal to attend a meeting with church officials in late 2016.

He'd recently come forward to make a police complaint about the years of sexual abuse he'd endured as a child at the hands of a Montreal priest.

He was told the Church now needed to do its own internal investigation of the matter.

"It seemed like it was just going to be a normal day, to go talk to people," the man said in an exclusive interview with CBC/Radio-Canada. He is known by the initials A.B., as his identity is protected under a court publication ban.

Ruth Krall, Religious Leader Sexual Abuse — What Language Shall We Use?

LITTLE ROCK (AR)
Bilgrimage blog

June 20, 2019

By William Lindsey

This essay is the third in a series Ruth Krall has written with the title "Recapitulation: Affinity Sexual Violence in a Religious Voice." The first essay in the series was published in two parts (here and here), and was followed by another two-part essay (here and here). As Ruth notes below, "In the first two essays, I utilized the language of public health to explore issues of prevention, containment and treatment. In this essay I have raised questions about how we begin to study these issues. I have raised the question of our research language as essential."

As she further states, "Vis-à-vis the current clergy sexual abuse issue in multiple world religions, we need, I believe, an enhanced vocabulary. We need this enhanced and more precise vocabulary in order to comprehend the complex institutional forces at work in today's religious communities as they experience and/or demonstrate the affinity sexual violence phenomena." Here's Ruth's valuable essay:

Religious Leader Sexual Abuse — What Language Shall We Use?

CBF not immune from abuse, leader says, but isn’t saddled with patriarchal theology of the SBC

NASHVILLE (TN)
Baptist News Global

June 21, 2019

By Bob Allen

The Cooperative Baptist Fellowship is paying heed to a major sexual abuse crisis engulfing its estranged sibling, the Southern Baptist Convention, an official said June 20 during a report of the CBF Governing Board.

“Like last year, our General Assembly coincides with the Southern Baptist Convention, who were here in this very space this time last week,” past moderator Shauw Chin Capps said during a business session of the 2019 CBF General Assembly in Birmingham, Alabama.

“In light of what has transpired in the SBC as they find themselves in the spotlight dealing with the aftermath of decades of sexual abuse and coverup involving 700 victims and over 200 sexual abusers, I would be remiss not to say a few words about this.”

Capps, former CEO of a non-profit organization serving victims of child abuse, domestic violence and sexual assault, said there are two lessons the 1,800-church group that separated from the SBC in the 1990s over issues including women’s equality can learn from recent newspaper reports documenting widespread sexual abuse in the nation’s second-largest faith group behind Roman Catholics.

“Number one, we are not immune to the problem of sexual abuse in our churches and organizations,” said Capps, now a consultant for an executive search firm. “I know this firsthand, so we do not gloat and pretend that this is not happening within CBF life. We acknowledge our brokenness and the need for repentance and for increased efforts at all levels to prevent sexual abuse of children and adults.”

Sex abuse scandal rocks Liberia's Catholic Church

MONROVIA (LIBERIA)
Radio France Internationale

June 21, 2019

By William Niba

Allegations of sexual harassment and abuse in Liberia’s Catholic Church continue to traumatise the lives of spiritual workers, after two top clerics were named in a major sex and office abuse scandal.

The most damaging scandal to hit the faith in decades broke out in August last year when estranged Reverend Father Gabriel Sawyer sent an email message to the Pope.

He accuses the Archbishop of Monrovia and another top prelate of persecuting him and other subordinates who refused to have sex with him.

Sawyer, who has since resigned, claims that the psychological and mental molestations he suffered in the hands of Monsignor Lewis Zeigler were too much for him to continue with his spiritual mission.

Divide over Pell plays into religious freedom debate

NEW SOUTH WALES (AUSTRALIA)
The Weekend Australian

June 22, 2019

By Gerard Windsor

In late 1900 a former Australian Test cricketer, Arthur Coningham, brought divorce proceedings, on the grounds of adultery, against his wife, Alice. He named as co-respondent Father Denis Francis O’Haran, secretary to Cardinal Patrick Francis Moran and dean of St Mary’s Cathedral, Sydney. The “criminal conversation” (as legal systems once termed it) was said to have taken place in the cathedral grounds.

There ensued a very divisive public donnybrook — on one side the Catholic Church, on the other hardliners of various Christian denominations, notably Presbyterians and the Loyal Orange Lodge. A priest was suborned, a Catholic postmaster-general interfered with the mails. Eventually O’Haran was pronounced not to be a guilty party.

Much exultation in Catholic circles, much gnashing of teeth by the other parties. Recent scholarly opinion is that O’Haran had indeed sinned.

Who the Hell is Hamish?
Bitter tribalism set in, ready to be inflamed further by the conscription referendums 15 years later and the role of a Melbourne archbishop, Daniel Mannix.

When, 118 years later, in December last year a former archbishop of Melbourne was found guilty of sexual abuse of minors, there was the same eruption of glee and dismay. This time the roles were reversed. Catholics generally, and some non-Catholics, were horrified and their opponents were in seventh heaven.

Catholic horror this time was of two kinds. Rejectors of the verdict were outraged that their senior representative should be so hounded. Acceptors felt scandalised and ashamed. My suspicion is the first group, even among non-practising Catholics, was the larger one. My tribe right or wrong.

The Catholic Church is not alone

BARNSTABLE (MA)
Barnstable Patriot

June 20, 2019

Seventeen years ago, a series of stories by The Boston Globe ripped away the cloak of mystery surrounding the Boston Archdiocese, exposing a coordinated effort to help pedophile priests avoid detection, allowing them to abuse and molest hundreds of boys and girls across the commonwealth. In the intervening years, it has become horrifically apparent that Boston was not some anomaly, as states began taking a closer look at long-dormant reports of similar stories in their communities. What few wanted to think about then was that the Catholic Church, although unique in its hierarchy, was not unique in its unpardonable desire to protect its own, even at the cost of those it had sworn to protect.

The fallout from the Globe’s Spotlight team investigation continues to reverberate today. Teams from more than 20 state and federal offices are actively investigating wrongdoing in the American Catholic Church, examining not only the criminal conduct of individual priests, but also that of the church’s hierarchy, examining whether it engaged in a coordinated cover-up that may result in anti-racketeering charges being leveled against high-ranking Catholic officials.

Although disturbing in terms of the apparent scope of efforts to hide the information from the public, the Catholic Church is hardly alone in terms of abuse. Earlier this year, the Southern Baptist Convention acknowledged reports that hundreds of ranking church leaders had allegedly abused hundreds of children over the years, and that some church leaders, much like their Catholic counterparts, had covered up the incidents and moved the abusive leaders to new congregations, where some re-offended.

Secular groups have seen their share of allegations as well. In 2012, a secret file kept by the Boy Scouts of America came to light, detailing allegations of abuse by nearly 8,000 Boy Scout leaders dating back to the 1940s that involved more than 12,000 alleged victims, but it was not until this past April that an investigator revealed the full scope of the information. In a press statement, the organization claimed that it had turned over all of the information to law enforcement authorities and had provided counseling for the victims. Some speculate, however, that although abusive leaders may have been removed from the Scouts, their actions remained hidden from public, potentially leaving them to offend again.

Bishop Mitchell Rozanski files report with Hampden District Attorney’s Office

SPRINGFIELD (MA).
The Republican

June 21, 2019

By Anne-Gerard Flynn

Following a meeting Thursday with a man who claims he was sexually abused decades ago by the late Bishop Christopher J. Weldon and two priests, Bishop Mitchell T. Rozanski filed a report with the Hampden District Attorney’s Office and is weighing what other steps the diocese may take.

The alleged victim told The Republican in a statement that he was “thankful I was able to tell my story to Bishop Rozanski today and reiterate the sexual abuse I continually suffered at the hands of (Rev. Clarence) Forand, (Rev. Edward) Authier and Bishop Weldon.”

“I was clear and I was heard," the man stated. "My impression was that the bishop ‘got it.’ I want to tell all survivors out there that you don’t have to be silent anymore, you are not going to be hurt again. There are safe allies who want to help you. You do not have to carry the secrets of your abusers’ anymore.”

Diocesan spokesman Mark Dupont confirmed the alleged victim made the accusation against Weldon in response to a question by Rozanski. It was documented and an “initial report has been filed with the Hampden County District Attorney,” he said.

The meeting was requested by the alleged victim, who had testified before the diocesan Review Board in June 2018. However, his testimony of making direct accusations against the diocese’s fourth bishop was disputed by the board, which found his accusations against two other deceased priests credible.

The alleged victim issued his statement to The Republican through Patricia Martin, a licensed clinical psychologist and former Review Board member. She attended the two-hour meeting at an undisclosed location with him and three other support people.

Catholic media praised for sex abuse coverage Vatican official talks of trauma

PARIS (FRANCE)
La Croix International

June 21, 2019

A Vatican official heading a department charged with reviewing clergy sexual abuse allegations has told Catholic journalists in the United Sates that they share the same goal of protecting minors.

Father John Kennedy, who since 2017 has headed the discipline section for the Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, also described the personal toll on the 17 people in his office.

While bound by rules of confidentiality, the Vatican investigators, like journalists, had a desire to speak about the truth for the common good, the priest told the gathering of Catholic journalists in St. Petersburg, Florida.

The purpose of journalism was to provide information citizens need to make the best possible decisions about their lives and society.Meanwhile, the church's legal processes and mission was to "deliver justice" for victims of abuse.Father Kennedy told the Catholic journalists that his Vatican team faced an ever-growing tide of cases.

Vatican Official on Reviewing Sex Abuse Cases: ‘You Never Get Used to It’

Patheos blog

June 21, 2019

By Deacon Greg Kandra

I am in St. Petersburg this week for the Catholic Media Conference, and heard Msgr. Kennedy give this address. It was, to say the least, sobering.

Details, from CNS:
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,” Kennedy said. “There are times when I am pouring 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 with a soft Irish brogue and an even tone, he gave a humane and at times anguished assessment of his job reviewing the horrors of sexual abuse and its cover-up.

Josh Duggar Received Bizarre Punishment From Church After Molesting Sisters

LOS ANGELES (CA)
Hollywood Gossip

June 21, 2019

By Tyler Johnson

It's been just over 4 years since the Josh Duggar sex scandals shocked the nation and very nearly brought down his family's multi-million dollar media empire.

But while the public didn't learn of Josh's crimes until 2015, his parents and his community had been helping him keep the secret for quite a long time.

Josh allegedly molested five young girls in multiple incidents that occurred between 2002 and 2003.

While his parents helped the then-teenager avoid legal fallout, it seems Josh didn't escape punishment entirely.

According to a shocking new report from Radar Online, Josh was "disciplined" by his church in bizarre fashion after elders learned of his transgressions.

Pervy Archbishop Fails Upward

WASHINGTON (DC)
American Conservative

June 11, 2019

By Rod Dereher

How do you keep rising high in the Catholic Church after you get into a world of trouble? It helps to have a friend in the highest place. Here’s the latest from Buenos Aires:

Bishop Gustavo Oscar Zanchetta, one of Pope Francis’ first episcopal appointments, has been formally charged with alleged sexual abuse of two seminarians in the Diocese of Oran in northern Argentina.

According to the prosecutor’s office in Oran, Zanchetta was charged with “aggravated continuous sexual abuse committed by a minister of a religious organization.” He has been forbidden to have contact with the seminarians in question or their family members.

In 2015, Zanchetta was accused of engaging in “strange behavior” when a diocesan official discovered pornographic images on the archbishop’s cellphone. Pornographic images of men were found, allegedly sent to unknown parties, as well as Zanchetta’s nude selfies. Reportedly, there were no images of children found.

June 20, 2019

Another trial for the high priest and pedophile

PORTLAND (OR)
The Oregonian

June 21, 2019

By Steve Duin

That the case of Michael Sperou has turned, once again, on the word “victim” is the cruelest of ironies.

To be labeled “victim” at North Clackamas Bible Community, where Sperou was high priest and pedophile, was to be derided and shamed.

Whenever you showed emotion or voiced complaint, you were mocked for playing the victim. “The word is used as a weapon in the church in the most condescending way,” says Jennifer Olajuyin, who escaped the personality cult 15 years ago. “It’s a word they use to make fun of people.”

And for the Oregon Supreme Court, it’s the damning word that justifies a new trial for Sperou, four years into a 20-year sentence for unlawful sexual penetration.

Two weeks ago, the state’s high court called foul on the trial court judge and the Court of the Appeals regarding testimony leading to Sperou’s 2015 conviction.

For years, seven women accused Sperou of sexually abusing them. The Supreme Court says Multnomah County Circuit Judge Cheryl Albrecht did not err when she allowed the prosecutor, Chris Mascal, to describe those women as victims.

Pastor arrested for rape, molestation

NASHVILLE (TN)
Baptist Press

June 20, 2019

By Diana Chandler

A former Southern Baptist pastor is jailed in Lake Charles, La., after allegedly raping and molesting a pre-teen girl for two years, the Calcasieu Parish Sheriff's Office (CPSO) reported June 17

Bellview Baptist Church in Westlake, La., fired 45-year-old John Michael Ward after his arrest, the church said in a statement released yesterday (June 19) by the Carey Baptist Association of Lake Charles.

"Bellview Baptist Church leaders are cooperating fully with the sheriff's office in the investigation," the church said in the statement released by Bruce Baker, Carey missions director. "The deacons, in consultation with Carey Baptist Association, unanimously voted to immediately terminate Ward's employment with the congregation because of his sexual immorality and failure to maintain the high standard of integrity for the office of pastor outlined in the Bible." Ward had pastored the church since 2012.

New SNAP Chapter Launched in Aotearoa-New Zealand

ST. LOUIS (MO)
Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests

June 20, 2019

The Aotearoa-New Zealand chapter is founded by Dr Christopher Longhurst, a survivor of sexual abuse by Catholic priests and brothers at two Catholic schools in New Zealand in the 1980s. Chris recently discovered that others abused by priests and religious started support groups within the SNAP network, and this grew worldwide. Chris is now the peer-support facilitator for the Aotearoa-New Zealand SNAP chapter.

“At SNAP Aotearoa-New Zealand, we know that sometimes all it takes to heal is a little support. We are determined to make an impact. The core of our efforts will be to bring together survivors of abuse by priests and religious across Aotearoa-New Zealand. None of our members are experts. We’re just survivors helping survivors. Our mission is to support each other, protect children, do advocacy around laws reporting abuse, and speak out against abusers and those who have covered up for them. Through all of our endeavours, we hope to achieve the conviction behind our belief that together we can heal.”

Another Priest Suspended in the Archdiocese of Detroit

ST. LOUIS (MO)
Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests

June 20, 2019

Another Detroit priest is accused of child sexual abuse. We call on officials at the Archdiocese of Detroit to do more than the bare minimum in their outreach.

Fr. Joseph “Jack” Baker has been suspended from ministry by the Archdiocese. However, instead of announcing this news at a press conference and including a direct, personal appeal to victims, witnesses, and whistleblowers, the Archdiocese opted for a terse news release and did not even include needed information in it.

Informed communities are safer communities and we believe that the Archdiocese should do its part in creating these communities by being open and honest about when and where Fr. Baker’s alleged crimes occurred, where Fr. Baker is now, and who is monitoring him.

Archbishop Allen Henry Vigneron should also personally visit each parish where Fr. Baker worked and actively seek out others with information about the allegations. At the very least, the Archbishop should make sure that there are pulpit announcements, bulletin notices and website notifications about Fr. Baker in every parish this weekend.

Efforts to remove Fort Worth bishop are about more than his decisions and style

FT. WORTH (TX)
Ft. Worth Telegram

June 20, 2019

By Cynthia M. Allen

At a time when the Catholic Church in the U.S. is undergoing a serious but deserved crisis of confidence over its handling of sexual abuse within its ranks, Bishop Michael Olson is the face of the faith in Fort Worth, charged with leading his flock through ominous times.

Olson and his contemporaries across the country are bearing the burden of the Church’s sins, with consequences ranging from dwindling mass attendance to investigations by secular authorities and a constant stream of public approbation. Again, much of that is deserved.

Olson’s response to the crisis has been unequivocal, in word — his condemnation of Cardinal Theodore McCarrick at a meeting of the U.S. Catholic Bishops was among the strongest of his rank — and in deed.

“When anyone reports anything to me — grooming, harassment, stalking, assault — I act on it immediately,” Olson assured me in February.

True to his word, Olson has been quick to remove several clergy suspected of or complicit in alleged sexual misconduct.

That’s to be commended, especially when many of his fellow bishops have responded to the sexual abuse crisis with reluctance and ambiguity.

Outside of Inside

Patheos blog

June 19, 2019

By William Droel

There are prophets of peace and builders of peace. There are protesters and institutional reformers. There are outsiders and insiders. The distinction is fluid. A person might be a prophetic outsider on one topic and an expert insider on another.

Newspapers and textbooks often present the outsider as a model for social justice. The outsider is concerned with social change but not overly concerned with how to implement reform. The insider gets less attention. They are the ones who speak institutional jargon. They can be dull. They know tax tables and zoning laws; they know about international protocols and about pipeline treaties. These insiders resist the first answer that occurs to them because they have heard the world’s complexities reduced to slogans. They take confidence in their faith but they do not believe that God is on their side or that God is opposed to their opponents. Insiders regularly wonder if they are right. They readily acknowledge to themselves that in this or that situation they are only 75% right.

The outsider is necessary for momentum but eventually the insider makes social change. Without inside reformers there are only passing reactions to grievances. Are there any bridges between the vociferous outsider and the stodgy insider?

The term ginger group is sometimes used in England and elsewhere. It refers to a conscience within a broader social reform movement or organization. A ginger group is loyal but it also dissents from an organization’s leaders. For example, Labor Notes (www.labornotes.org) with offices in Detroit and Brooklyn is loyal to unions. But it champions those workers that reform a workplace without waiting for clearance from an international union headquarters. Voice of the Faithful (www.votf.org), to mention a second example, has headquarters in suburban Boston. Its members have not left Roman Catholicism in disgust over bishops’ malfeasance nor have they challenged Catholic dogma. Instead they are a controversial ginger group that presses for reform.

Mexican priest accused of murder after celebrating victim’s funeral Mass

MEXICO CITY (MEXICO)
Catholic News Service

June 20, 2019

By David Agren

A priest in Mexico City has been arrested for murder barely a week after he celebrated a funeral
Mass for the victim.

Father Francisco Javier Bautista was arrested June 19 by Mexico City judicial officials. He was charged with the murder of Hugo Leonardo Avendano Chavez, 29, who had recently graduated with a master’s degree from a Catholic university, worked with Father Bautista at Christ the Savior Parish and had aspirations of entering the priesthood.

The priest, who also served as an exorcist, was ordered held pending trial.

Motives for the slaying were not revealed by Mexico City investigators, though local prosecutor Ernestina Godoy told reporters the case was not a kidnapping, as originally reported.

Avendano was found murdered June 13 in southern Mexico City. Family say he had gone to the Christ the Savior Parish, where he worked, late June 11 and saw Father Bautista.

The two men were spotted together outside the parish, according to footage from surveillance cameras.

The Archdiocese of Mexico City issued a statement June 19, saying it was watching events closely — without naming the priest — and adding it was cooperating with investigators.

Florida Catholic church sex abuse investigation shrouded in secrecy

FT. MYERS (FL)
NBC 2 TV

June 11, 2019

Roman Catholic Bishops were in Baltimore on Tuesday to confront the reignited sex abuse crisis. They're looking at increasing their accountability when it comes to sex abuse cases.

Several Attorneys General, including Florida's, launched state investigations after a Pennsylvania Grand Jury report in August detailed hundreds of cases of alleged abuse.

More than half of all the dioceses around the country have released lists with the names of Catholic clergy who have been credibly accused of sexually abusing children.

Just last month, the Archdiocese of New York, the second-largest diocese in the nation, identified 120 priests and deacons accused of sexually abusing a child or having child pornography.

This all comes one year after a report released by a grand jury in Pennsylvania accused more than 300 priests of sexually abusing children.

The NBC2 Investigators asked the seven dioceses in Florida to send us a list of clergy who had been credibly accused of sexually abusing children, but only one of the seven, the Diocese of St. Petersburg, sent the NBC2 Investigators a list.

"Even if years have passed, we want to hear from you," said former Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi, last October.

Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi made the announcement last October, that all seven of Florida's catholic dioceses were part of a statewide investigation into clergy abuse.

When the NBC2 Investigators asked current AG Ashley Moody's office where that investigation stands, spokesperson Kylie Mason said, "As this investigation is ongoing, we cannot comment further at this time."

When the NBC2 Investigators asked the Diocese of Venice, which covers all six counties in our viewing area, for a list of clergy who had been credibly accused, spokesperson Bob Reddy said, "Out of respect for the statewide prosecutor’s declared practice of not commenting regarding ongoing investigations, the Diocese is doing the same and does not foresee making any further statements on this issue."

Church of Scientology accused of child abuse and human trafficking in new lawsuit

LONDON (ENGLAND)
The Independent

June 20, 2019

By Chris Riotta

A woman who said she was raised as a Scientologist and served as a personal steward to the leader of the religion has sued the church, accusing it of human trafficking, forced labour and child abuse, among other damning allegations.

The woman, listed in court records as “Jane Doe,” said she was put in an isolation programme known as “the Hole” after learning about marital issues between the leader of the church, David Miscavige, and his wife.

She said she eventually escaped when she was assigned to help shoot promotional videos for the church with an actor who was not a Scientologist. The woman hid in the trunk of the actor’s car and fled the church in 2016, according to the complaint.

The Church of Scientology International has disputed the accusations in a statement to NBC News, saying “the lawsuit comprises nothing more than unfounded allegations as to all defendants” and adding it was “littered with anti-religious slurs culled from the tabloids and accusations that have been dis-proven in courts decades ago."

Jane Doe went on to work for actress Leah Remini, a former Scientologist who has documented her experiences with leaving the church in a series titled “Leah Remini: Scientology and the Aftermath.”

Repenting and renewing our role as shepherds

DENVER (CO)
Denver Catholic

June 20, 2019

Jesus tells the disciples in St. John’s Gospel, “I am the good shepherd. A good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep,” contrasting his goodness with the thieves who come only to steal and destroy. This past week my fellow U.S. bishops and I sought to act as good shepherds by approving three measures to increase our vigilance and prevention of the evil of sexual abuse by bishops, shepherds who have betrayed the flock entrusted to them.

This last weekend we celebrated Father’s Day, which should remind biological and spiritual fathers of their great responsibility of protecting and raising up new life. This mission is further emphasized by the Rite for the Ordination of a Bishop, which says, “In the Church entrusted to you, be a faithful steward, moderator and guardian of the mysteries of Christ. Since you are chosen by the Father to rule over his family, be mindful always of the Good Shepherd, who knows his sheep and is known by them, and who did not hesitate to lay down his life for them.” This is the model for all bishops.

But the scandals of Theodore McCarrick, Bishop Bransfield and others have made it clear that our vigilance has not been adequate. To quote from the just-issued “Affirming Our Episcopal Commitment” statement, “We, the bishops of the United States, have heard the anger expressed by so many within and outside of the Church over these failures. The anger is justified; it has humbled us, prompting us into self-examination, repentance, and a desire to do better.” This sentiment was clear in my interactions with my fellow bishops in Baltimore this past week.

Third priest accused of sexual abuse files lawsuit against Diocese of Corpus Christi

CORPUS CHRISTI (TX)
Corpus Christi Caller Times

June 20, 2019

By Eleanor Dearman

A third priest who was named in a list of clergy members who were "credibly accused" of sexual misconduct is suing Bishop Michael Mulvey and the Diocese of Corpus Christi.

Msgr. Jesús García Hernando is the latest to claim the diocese and bishop made a "false" statement in claiming he was "credibly accused" of sexually assaulting a minor.

"Defendants knew the statement was false and acted with reckless disregard for the truth," the lawsuit states. "The publication of the statement was made with malice."

While Hernando was indicted and sued in the 1990s over molestation allegations he was never convicted of a crime.

The lawsuit was filed on Hernando's behalf by Corpus Christi Attorney Andrew Greenwell. Greenwell is also representing John Feminelli and Michael Heras in similar lawsuits that were filed earlier this year.

Feminelli is a retired priest. Heras was removed from the ministry in 2014. Hernando is still a priest in Spain, Greenwell said.

The three priests were among more than 20 Diocese of Corpus Christi clergy members whose names were included in the list. The diocese released those names in January, which coincided with the release of similar lists by dioceses across the nation.


Catholic Diocese of Buffalo abuse victim alleges cover-up

NIAGARA FALLS (NY)
Niagara-Gazette

June 18, 2019

By Rick Pfeiffer

RECKONING: Survivor claims high ranking diocese official ignored pedophile priest.

BUFFALO — James Bottlinger said he was prepared to take his secret to the grave.

But watching others speak out about the Catholic Church's handling of its child sexual abuse scandal gave him his "voice."

Bottlinger rejected what is reportedly the largest compensation settlement ever offered by the Diocese of Buffalo, $650,000, because he says he wants answers instead regarding why church leaders repeatedly exposed children to a priest that they knew was a pedophile.

"There is truth that needs to be told and facts that need to be revealed," said Jeff Anderson, one of Bottlinger's attorneys. "(Bottlinger) found his voice and chose to take powerful action. He wants other survivors to come forward and he wants the Catholic Diocese and (Bishop Richard Malone) to come clean."

In a mid-day news conference Tuesday, Bottlinger said he was abused as a teen by Father Michael R. Freeman, one of 176 diocesan priests, order priests, former priests or deceased priests who were removed from ministry, were retired, or left ministry after credible allegations of sexual abuse of a minor were made against them.

Track coach and ex-Olympian arrested amid report he molested 31 athletes over 44 years

UNITED STATES
USA TODAY

June 20, 2019

By Scott Gleeson

Former Olympic track athlete Conrad Mainwaring was arrested on one felony count of sexual battery on Wednesday amidst an ESPN investigation that reported more than 30 men were molested by the 67-year-old Los Angeles-based high school track and field coach.

The ESPN Outside The Lines report claims the abuse spanned over the course of 44 years, with the youngest alleged victim claiming abuse at age 14.

Los Angeles Police Department detective Sharlene Johnson said the alleged victim claimed Mainwaring molested him in 2016 by masquerading it as massage treatment in which he'd also touch his genitals. The LAPD only filed one charge against Mainwaring, and Johnson said that could be a result of the statute of limitations expiring on alleged victims from the ESPN report.

The 67-year-old Mainwaring competed for Antigua during the 1976 Olympics in the 100-meter hurdles and would use his status as an established track coach to coerce athletes. One alleged victim told ESPN that Mainwaring's manipulation for treatment began with incentives like, "you can be an Olympian, too." Victims in the ESPN story also claimed Mainwaring would convince them that control over their erections would affect their testosterone levels and improve their athletic performance.

Sex abuse lawsuit deadlines extended by North Carolina House

RALEIGH (NC)
WSOC TV

June 20, 2019

North Carolina House members have backed overwhelmingly a longer period of time for victims of child sexual abuse to sue perpetrators for damages as adults.

The measure now heading to the Senate following Wednesday's vote of 104-10 extends the statute of limitations for a victim from 21 years of age to 38. The bill also would give older adults outside the proposed age cap a two-year window to file lawsuits.

The legislation comes with increased awareness nationally about sex abuse cases, such as those within the Roman Catholic Church and in youth organizations.

New Lawsuit Seeks To Bring Church Of Scientology Into The Me Too Era

LOS ANGELES (CA)
The Huffington Post

June 20, 2019

By Carol Kuruvilla

A former Scientologist is suing the church and its leader David Miscavige, alleging years of abuse — and lawyers are hoping it will inspire more to come forward.

An ex-Scientologist filed a lawsuit in Los Angeles on Tuesday against the Church of Scientology and its leader, David Miscavige ― alleging the church put her through years of “heinous abuse, human trafficking, and intimidation.”

The legal challenge seeks to force the church, which has long been battling abuse allegations, into the new era of accountability brought about by the Me Too movement, according to Marci Hamilton, an expert on child abuse prevention and one of the lawyers involved in the case.

Track coach, subject of OTL investigation, arrested on charges of molesting a former athlete

LOS ANGELES (CA)
ESPN

June 19, 2019

By Mike Kessler and Mark Fainaru-Wada

Police on Wednesday arrested a onetime Olympian and longtime track coach on charges of molesting a former athlete -- one of nearly three dozen men who told Outside the Lines the coach sexually abused them over the past 44 years.

Conrad Avondale Mainwaring, 67, has been charged with one felony count of sexual battery by fraud, which is punishable by up to four years in prison. His bail was set at $1 million. When approached by Outside the Lines recently at a Los Angeles-area track, Mainwaring declined to answer questions about the men's allegations. He also did not respond to several other interview requests.

An ongoing Outside the Lines investigation has uncovered a pattern of allegations against Mainwaring dating from the mid-1970s to as recently as 2016. Some of the earliest reported victims were teenagers -- the youngest was 14 -- at a New England summer camp. Others attended universities in at least three other states, including, most recently, California.

ANOTHER FRESNO PRIEST ACCUSED OF SEXUAL ABUSE

REEDLEY (CA)
ChurchMilitant.com

June 18, 2019

By Anita Carey

Multiple women are accusing Msgr. John Esquivel of sexual and verbal abuse

Amid calls for the diocese of Fresno, California to release the names of those credibly accused of molestation, an eighth priest is accused of sexually and verbally abusing a teen girl.

At a press conference on Monday with the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP), Silvia Gomez Ray alleged Msgr. John Esquivel groped, open-mouth kissed and verbally abused her 30 years ago when she was 17–18 years old and working as a secretary at St. Joseph Catholic Church in Bakersfield, California.

SNAP representatives claimed they have been contacted by three additional women who are claiming he abused them. Two of the women were minors at the time of the abuse.

Animated videos: Boy Scouts’ new tactic to fight sex abuse

NEW YORK (NY)
The Associated Press

June 20, 2019

By David Crary

Under financial pressure from sex-abuse litigation, the Boy Scouts of America are seeking to bolster their abuse-prevention efforts with a new awareness program featuring cartoon-style videos that will be provided to more than 1.2 million Cub Scouts across the nation.
Targeted at children from kindergarten to sixth grade, the series of six videos aims to teach children how to recognize potentially abusive behavior and what to do if confronted by it.
The initiative, being announced Thursday, comes as the Boy Scouts face a potentially huge wave of abuse-related lawsuits after several states enacted laws this year making it easier for victims of long-ago abuse to file claims. The Boy Scouts acknowledge that the litigation poses a financial threat and have not ruled out seeking bankruptcy protection.

The bulk of the newly surfacing abuse cases date to the 1960s, ’70s and ‘80s; the BSA says there were only five known abuse victims in 2018 out of 2.2 million youth members. The BSA credits the change to an array of prevention policies adopted since the mid-1980s, including mandatory criminal background checks and abuse-prevention training for all staff and volunteers, and a rule that two or more adult leaders be present with youth at all times during scouting activities.

Ex-pastor in Texas accused of sexually abusing teen relative

HOUSTON (TX)
The Associated Press

June 16, 2019

A former Southern Baptist pastor who supported legislation in Texas that would have criminalized abortions has been arrested on charges of child sex abuse, accused of repeatedly molesting a teenage relative over the course of two years.

Stephen Bratton is accused of subjecting the relative to inappropriate touching that escalated to “sexual intercourse multiple times a day or several times a week” from 2013 to 2015, according to Thomas Gilliland, a spokesman with the Harris County Sheriff’s Office.

Court records show Bratton, 43, posted a $50,000 bond Saturday, The Houston Chronicle reported .

Bratton told his wife about the abuse in May, and admitted to his co-pastors at Grace Family Baptist Church that same day that he had “sinned in grievous ways,” according to court documents.

‘I have not allowed the abuse I suffered as a child to define me’

Starts at 60 blog
June 20, 2019

By Peter Keogh

Every day I’m inspired by my husband, Sacha. He suffered the most heinous abuse at an orphanage as a child and he was a part of the recent Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse. Despite that heartbreaking start to his life, he’s survived and at 78 works in our local performing arts centre, entertaining the over-60s.

To a much lesser degree I also experienced incidences of abuse growing up. It was with a lot of support, I was able to become the man I am today, yet I still occasionally suffer from quite debilitating panic attacks and am often anxious. At 74, I’m fortunate to be still working and have the most loving and compassionate friends.

Recently I became aware of the incredible number of people who are still suffering abuse in all kinds of situations. What was brought to my attention was the prevalence of gay people who have either not been able to come out or who have come out and lost families and friendships, as well as those who are suffering abuse for their sexuality on social media. I was saddened to hear that when compared to the general population, members of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex (LGBTI) community who have experienced abuse and harassment are up to 11 times more likely to attempt suicide in their lifetime. I grew up gay in much different times, but I hope that in sharing a bit about my story there is someone who can see there is light at the end of the tunnel.

Self-help guru convicted in lurid sex-trafficking case

NEW YORK (NY)
The Associated Press

June 19, 2019

By Tom Hayes

The guru of a cult-like self-improvement group that attracted heiresses and Hollywood actresses was convicted Wednesday of turning his female devotees into his sex slaves through such means as shame, punishment and nude blackmail photos.

A jury in federal court in Brooklyn took less than five hours to find 58-year-old Keith Raniere guilty on all counts of sex-trafficking and coercing women into sex.

"Raniere was truly a modern-day Svengali," Brooklyn U.S. Attorney Richard Donoghue said outside court, calling him a lying manipulator who "ruined marriages, careers, fortunes and lives."

Raniere, a short, bespectacled figure who wore pullover sweaters in court, listened attentively but showed no reaction as he learned the verdict. His lawyer, Marc Agnifilo, said Raniere plans to appeal. He could get 15 years to life in prison at sentencing Sept. 25.

"It's a very sad day for him," Agnifilo said. "I think he's not surprised, but he maintains that he didn't mean to do anything wrong."

5 Franciscans who once served at San Xavier Mission 'credibly accused' of child sex abuse

TUCSON (AZ)
Arizona Daily Star

June 17, 2019

By Carol Ann Alaimo

Five Franciscan friars who once staffed churches on the Tohono O’odham reservation near Tucson have been named to a new list of Roman Catholic clergy “credibly accused” of child molestation during their careers.

The five, all now deceased, were members of the California-based Franciscan Friars of the Province of St. Barbara. Four of the five were assigned at various times to the historic San Xavier Mission, the religious order recently disclosed on its website.

The list, which covers the last 50 or so years, does not say precisely when and where the alleged incidents occurred or whether any of the complaints the religious order has received came from local tribal members.

Nxivm leader Keith Raniere found guilty on all counts in sex cult trial

NEW YORK (NY)
New York Post

June 19, 2019

By Emily Saul and Lia Eustachewich

Nxivm founder Keith Raniere has been found guilty on all counts for running the upstate sex cult in which women were branded like cattle and forced to have sex with him.

Jurors in Brooklyn federal court reached the verdict Wednesday after less than five hours of deliberations — convicting him of racketeering, a charge that could put him away for life, and other counts.

Raniere mumbled under his breath as the foreperson read aloud the guilty verdicts on all seven counts against him but otherwise showed no emotion. He did not shake his attorneys’ hands before being handcuffed and led out of the courtroom.

Father Eric Swearingen among 43 priests in Fresno Diocese accused of sexual abuse since the 1940s

VISALIA (CA)
The Sun Gazette

June 19, 2019

By Reggie Ellis

A Visalia priest has been placed on paid administrative leave in the wake of a new report chronicling a history of sexual abuse within the Fresno Diocese of the Catholic church.

In a letter addressed to the “People of God,” Most Reverend Joseph V. Brennan, bishop of the Diocese of Fresno, announced that Father Eric Swearingen, pastor of the Good Shepherd Parish in Visalia, had been placed on paid leave as of June 5. The letter was read during both Sunday and Saturday mass at the parish’s four congregations at St. Charles Borromoeo, Holy Family, and St. Mary’s in Visalia, and St. Thomas The Apostle in Goshen. The parish also oversees George McCann Memorial, a kindergarten through eighth grade Catholic school, and the Bethlehem Center, a thrift store and food pantry.

“This action was necessary in light of detailed information associated with a civil case dating back to 2006 that was brought to my attention following a file review,” Most Rev. Brennan stated in the letter. “I am not able to offer further details.”

UK's most senior Catholic 'more concerned with church's reputation than child sex abuse victims', report finds

LONDON (ENGLAND)
The Telegraph

June 20, 2019

By Gabriella Swerling

The most senior Catholic in the UK stands accused of being more concerned with protecting the Church’s reputation than historic victims of child sex abuse in a government inquiry report.

An official report published yesterday concluded that children could have been saved in the Archdiocese of Birmingham had the Catholic Church not “repeatedly failed” to alert police to allegations.

Since the mid 1930s, there have been more than 130 allegations of child sexual abuse made against 78 people associated with the Archdiocese. At least 13 of them have been convicted in criminal courts and three others have been cautioned.

NJ MINISTER CLAIMED ORAL SEX WOULD SUCK OUT EVIL, 4 SAY IN LAWSUIT

NEW JERSEY
New Jersey 101.5

June 19, 2019

By Dan Alexander

Four members of the Linden Presbyterian Church say in a lawsuit that they were molested and sexually assaulted by a minister who claimed to have used "Native American exorcism" that was nothing more than nonconsensual oral sex and masturbation.

Jared Staunton, Alan Meeker Jr., William Weist and a woman identified only as "H.C." accuse the Rev. William “Bill” Weaver of the sexual assaults during separate therapy sessions.

The complaint outlines why each of the plaintiffs came to Weaver, a minister at the church for nearly 40 years. The lawsuit also names the local church, the Presbytery of Elizabeth and the Presbyterian Church USA as defendants.

Staunton was dealing with the death of his father in February 2014 followed three months later by the death of his partner of 11 years.

We went to a Presbyterian minister for counseling. He sexually abused us during an ‘exorcism,’ lawsuit says.

NEW JERSEY
NJ Advance Media for NJ.com

June 20, 2019

By Kelly Heyboer

Four parishioners say they went separately to the Rev. Dr. William Weaver at Linden Presbyterian Church for counseling over the years to ask the veteran minister for help for various problems, including marriage difficulties and depression.

Weaver listened to their troubles in his office and eventually suggested the same solution to all of them -- an “exorcism” ritual he said was taught to him by Native Americans, according to a lawsuit filed earlier this week.

The elaborate exorcism, which involved the minister waving feathers and placing gem stones and metal strips on their bodies, led to sexual abuse, according to the three men and one woman who jointly filed the lawsuit.

“The Rev. Dr. William Weaver, who spent nearly 40 years as the pastor of Linden Presbyterian Church, allegedly performed masturbation and oral sex on the male plaintiffs as part of a ritual he said would free them from evil spirits,” the Fuggi law firm, which is representing all of the parishioners in the lawsuit, said in a statement.

Alleged Clergy Sex Abuse Victim to File Lawsuit Against Buffalo Diocese, Erie Bishop Emeritus Donald Trautman

ERIE (PA)
Erie News Now

June 18, 2019

Bottlinger recently rejected a $680,000 compensation fund payment from the Buffalo Diocese. He is filing suit because, in his own words, "it is the right thing to do."

A victim who claims he was sexually abused by a priest in the Buffalo Diocese is moving forward with a lawsuit against the diocese and Erie Bishop Emeritus Donald Trautman for not doing enough to stop the abuse, attorneys announced Tuesday afternoon.

The victim - James Bottlinger, 50 - spoke publicly for the first time Tuesday. Bottlinger said he was abused while in high school in the 1980s by Father Michael Freeman at St. Mary of the Assumption Church in Lancaster, NY. Freeman is now deceased.

Bottlinger recently rejected a $680,000 compensation fund payment from the Buffalo Diocese. He is filing suit because, in his own words, "it is the right thing to do."

Amish and Mennonite Photo Coverage in Face of Sexual Abuse

Reading the Pictures blog

June 20, 2019

Since the Catholic sex abuse scandal that traumatized a generation of churchgoers and disillusioned many more, faith groups are tempted more than ever to cover up their own cases of sexual abuse, however isolated they may be. This is especially true for minority groups like Muslims and Jews, who are disproportionately subject to fear mongering from right-wing reactionaries, but it’s also true for less populous groups that don’t want sexual abuse to dominate what already is a limited public conversation around them.

For conservative Anabaptists including the Amish and Old Order Mennonites in particular, the wider cultural reckoning activated by #MeToo is beginning to pull some communities out of their cultural separatism and into media pathways cleared by sex-offending megastars like Harvey Weinstein, Kevin Spacey, and Bill Cosby.

As it happens, visual depictions of Amish and conservative Mennonite communities already share some traits with those of Hollywood celebrities. Many of their photographs in the press look like they were taken by paparazzi: shot from discrete angles, from the side or behind, often with long telephoto lenses. Because they hold a conviction that posing for a photograph can be interpreted as a form of pride, or as an affront to the biblical commandment against graven images, conservative Anabaptists usually resist being photographed. Faraway, detached images, then, are what inform much of the public’s visual vocabulary of Plain church communities. Those who see them at all are used to seeing them from a distance.

Amish and Mennonite Photo Coverage in Face of Sexual Abuse

Reading the Pictures blog

June 20, 2019

Since the Catholic sex abuse scandal that traumatized a generation of churchgoers and disillusioned many more, faith groups are tempted more than ever to cover up their own cases of sexual abuse, however isolated they may be. This is especially true for minority groups like Muslims and Jews, who are disproportionately subject to fear mongering from right-wing reactionaries, but it’s also true for less populous groups that don’t want sexual abuse to dominate what already is a limited public conversation around them.

For conservative Anabaptists including the Amish and Old Order Mennonites in particular, the wider cultural reckoning activated by #MeToo is beginning to pull some communities out of their cultural separatism and into media pathways cleared by sex-offending megastars like Harvey Weinstein, Kevin Spacey, and Bill Cosby.

As it happens, visual depictions of Amish and conservative Mennonite communities already share some traits with those of Hollywood celebrities. Many of their photographs in the press look like they were taken by paparazzi: shot from discrete angles, from the side or behind, often with long telephoto lenses. Because they hold a conviction that posing for a photograph can be interpreted as a form of pride, or as an affront to the biblical commandment against graven images, conservative Anabaptists usually resist being photographed. Faraway, detached images, then, are what inform much of the public’s visual vocabulary of Plain church communities. Those who see them at all are used to seeing them from a distance.

Criminal case against Fort Worth priest accused of groping man at park is dropped

FORT WORTH (TX)
Star Telegram

June 20, 2019

By Nichole Manna

Fort Worth municipal prosecutors have filed a motion to drop the case against a Fort Worth priest who was accused of groping a man in a park near his church in the fall.

Father Genaro Mayorga Reyes told officers he did not touch the 43-year-old man at Marine Park on the morning of Sept. 25, according to police reports.

Bishop Michael F. Olson requested that Reyes be recalled to Mexico after learning of the alleged incident, according to a statement released by the Catholic Diocese of Fort Worth in November to members of All Saints Catholic Church, where Reyes was the priest.

Top Buffalo diocese official allegedly scolded boy who accused priest of abuse

BUFFALO (NY)
Buffalo News

June 20, 2019

By Jay Tokasz

The second-in-command of the Buffalo Diocese in the early 1980s allegedly blamed a teenage boy who accused the Rev. Michael R. Freeman of sexually abusing him.

Monsignor Donald W. Trautman told the boy in a meeting at diocese headquarters that he should have avoided Freeman, who was assigned to St. Christopher Church in the Town of Tonawanda at the time, according to local attorney Steve Boyd.

“Trautman told the teenager: ‘You should have never put yourself in that position,’ " said Boyd.

Boyd represents James Bottlinger, who rejected the diocese's $650,000 offer to settle his complaint that Freeman abused him as a teen after the priest was removed from St. Christopher and sent to St. Mary of the Assumption Church in Lancaster in 1984.

The diocese in December offered Bottlinger its largest settlement award in its recently concluded $17.5 million program compensating childhood victims of clergy sex abuse.

Bottlinger, 50, called the offer “insignificant” in the face of the abuse he endured, and said he plans to sue the diocese, preferring a full accounting of how and why the diocese allowed Freeman to continue in ministry for so long.

Boyd said he’s spoken with three other men who went to the diocese in the early 1980s with complaints about Freeman and sexual abuse.

One of them is Niagara Falls attorney Paul Barr, who rejected a $45,000 compensation offer from the diocese and already has filed a lawsuit over an alleged molestation in the rectory of Sacred Heart Church in Niagara Falls in 1980. Barr said he reported the abuse in person at the diocese chancery around 1982.

Waterford Twp. priest restricted from ministry after abuse allegation

DETROIT (MI)
Detroit News

June 20, 2019

By Beth LeBlanc

An Archdiocese of Detroit priest has been restricted from all public ministry following an allegation that he sexually abused a minor.

The Rev. Joseph "Jack" Baker, the pastor of St. Perpetua in Waterford Township, was removed Wednesday pending "the outcome of the canonical process" because of an allegation dating back to his early years of ministry, according to a statement from the archdiocese

The archdiocese said it reported the recent allegation to state Attorney General Dana Nessel’s office, which authorized the diocese to move forward with its review and removal process.

As part of his restrictions, Baker, 57, cannot present himself as a priest, exercise any church ministry or wear clerical clothing. The diocese will monitor Baker to ensure he complies.

The Rev. Gerard Battersby, an auxiliary bishop for the archdiocese, will take over leadership at St. Perpetua Parish as a temporary administrator.

Landmark Pennsylvania Supreme Court Ruling May Help Other Older Clergy Abuse Lawsuits Proceed

PITTSBURGH (PA)
The Legal Examiner

June 18, 2019

By Eric T. Chaffin

A recent decision by the Pennsylvania State Superior Court may soon open the door for previously time-barred Catholic Church clergy sexual abuse lawsuits to proceed.

On June 11, 2019, a three-judge panel agreed to reinstate a lawsuit filed by a plaintiff who claims she was sexually abused by clergy in the 1970s and 1980s. She filed the lawsuit in 2016, but it was dismissed by the trial court because the statute of limitations had expired.

The plaintiff appealed, and the appellate court reversed the order granting judgment and remanded the case to proceed in the trial court.

Boy Scouts’ new tactic to fight sex abuse: animated videos

NEW YORK (NY)
Associated Press

June 20, 2019

Under financial pressure from sex-abuse litigation, the Boy Scouts of America are seeking to bolster their abuse-prevention efforts with a new awareness program featuring cartoon-style videos that will be provided to more than 1.2 million Cub Scouts across the nation.

Targeted at children from kindergarten to sixth grade, the series of six videos aims to teach children how to recognize potentially abusive behavior and what to do if confronted by it.

The initiative, being announced Thursday, comes as the Boy Scouts face a potentially huge wave of abuse-related lawsuits after several states enacted laws this year making it easier for victims of long-ago abuse to file claims. The Boy Scouts acknowledge that the litigation poses a financial threat and have not ruled out seeking bankruptcy protection.

The bulk of the newly surfacing abuse cases date to the 1960s, '70s and '80s; the BSA says there were only five known abuse victims in 2018 out of 2.2 million youth members. The BSA credits the change to an array of prevention policies adopted since the mid-1980s, including mandatory criminal background checks and abuse-prevention training for all staff and volunteers, and a rule that two or more adult leaders be present with youth at all times during scouting activities.

The Boy Scouts' youth protection director, former police investigator Mike Johnson, decided to add the videos to the prevention program after vetting them with parents of Cub Scout-age children and with children themselves.

"Parents told me they're having these conversations with their kids, and they felt the videos would help them have a better, richer conversation," Johnson said. "The kids are engaged. ... There's some heavy topics discussed in a child-specific way."

Californian priest, 32, is sacked after starting an affair with a parishioner

LONDON (ENGLAND)
Daily Mail

June 20, 2019

By Joel Adams

A 'sexually promiscuous' minister was sacked from the Church of Scotland after having an affair with a married woman and touching himself in front of a colleague.

Rev Dr Elijah Wade Smith, 32, was emotionally abusive to his girlfriend and humiliated her in public as well as cheating on her with a 19-year-old, according to a Presbyterial Commission report.

His shocking behaviour was described as 'contrary to the Word of God' by church officials who also said 'he abused [his] duty of trust', and told him he 'failed to maintain a proper line between your pastoral duties and your friendship'.

The Church of Scotland set up a commission to review the behaviour of the Glasgow minister following allegations of misconduct against 'several women'. The report outlined 11 'charges' between 2015 and last year.

Dr Smith came from California to join the church and was ordained as minister of Queen's Park Govanhill Parish Church, in Glasgow's south side, in January 2015, becoming the Scottish Kirk's second-youngest minister.

340 people file claims against Archdiocese of Santa Fe, at least 78 clergy accused

TAOS (NM)
Taos News

June 20, 2019

By Rebecca Moss

The window is now closed for survivors of alleged sexual abuse by New Mexico's Roman Catholic clergy to seek a financial settlement against the Archdiocese of Santa Fe.

According to court records, 340 people filed claims against the church as of the 5 p.m. Monday (June 17) deadline. Although most claims are sealed, attorneys say the overwhelming majority relate to allegations of sexual molestation and assault by priest and deacons who worked in the archdiocese. At least 78 clergy members have been "credibly accused" of sexually abusing children, according to a list released by the Archdiocese of Santa Fe last year.

In December 2018, the archdiocese said the number of abuse claims against the church could be financially devastating and required it to seek bankruptcy protection. The deadline marks the beginning of a negotiation process between the archdiocese and a creditors' committee to agree on a remedy for those who have filed claims and a plan moving forward. The bankruptcy process could also reveal other perpetrators not yet named by the archdiocese, but that is at the discretion of the court.

"The numbers are really high, but there is only proof when people come forward," Diana Abeyta, a Santa Fe advocate said prior to the deadline. "In the last several months, it has been just sadness, lots of disappointment."

Could Archbishop Gómez lead the US bishops out of the doldrums?

LONDON (ENGLAND)
Catholic Herald

June 20, 2019

By Michael Warren Davis

From 2004 until his retirement last year, Michael J Bransfield served as Bishop of Wheeling-Charleston. It’s the perfect posting for a prelate who wants all the perks of the office without the distractions of being a pastor. The diocese in poverty-stricken West Virginia allegedly brings in $15 million from oil fields it owns in Texas, which goes to serve just 100,000 Catholics. Bransfield allegedly spent $1,000 on alcohol a month and $100 on fresh flowers every day – paid for, of course, from the diocesan treasury. Several younger priests have also reported him for sexual harassment. (He denies the allegations.)

The Bransfield disclosures came just before the US Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) convened in Baltimore for its spring plenary session, which continued to address the sex abuse crisis. From the bishops’ perspective, this is also a crisis of trust. Survey after survey shows that American Catholics’ confidence in their leaders has plummeted since the McCarrick revelations last year. And yet, with these new accusations of Bransfield, hopes of restoring trust may already have been dashed.

Reporters from the Washington Post also discovered that Bransfield gave substantial gifts to other clergy. Far from denying the Post’s claim, a few of the bishops promised to return the gifts. It also seems that Bransfield gave more than $1,000 to his cousin Mgr Brian Bransfield, the USCCB’s general secretary.

Encouragements to Associations, State Conventions, and Churches Regarding Abuse of Minors

NASHVILLE (TN)
Southern Baptist Conference

June 20, 2019

The Southern Baptist Conference of Associational Leaders (SBCAL) and the Officers of the
SBC Fellowship of State Executive Directors join together to make a statement in support
of the prevention of sexual abuse and for the protection of minors. As organizations, we
recognize our respective entities have no authority over any Baptist body. However, our
intention is to offer encouragement to associations, state conventions, and churches to
diligently guard those whom God has given to us for the purpose of ministry.

PREVENTION/PROTECTION
1. We encourage associations and state conventionsto practice the regular reviewing,
updating, or creating worker policies and guidelines for all staff,
association/convention/church leaders, and youth/children volunteer workers.
2. We encourage associations and state conventions to take the initiative and
advocate for comprehensive screening processes for all staff,
association/convention/church leaders, and youth/children volunteer workers to
address such things as:
• Understanding the need for a written application.
• Discovering when and how to check references.
• Researching prior church membership and volunteer work, especially with
minors.
• Conducting internet research for potential news stories containing allegations
of sexual misconduct for any potential staff member or volunteer.
• Calling for background checks.
• Linking to and utilizing the U. S. Department of Justice National Sex Offender
Public Website posted on the Sexual Abuse Prevention page on SBC.net and to
viable public databases of sexual offenders in a church or ministry setting as they
may be developed.
• Conducting personal interviews with applicants.
• Implementing at least a six-month rule of association.

By Holding Themselves Accountable, Bishops Close a Gap

NEW YORK (NY)
Catholic New York

June 19, 2019

The U.S. bishops’ newly approved plan establishing procedures to report complaints of clergy sexual abuse and to hold its leaders accountable is an important step in the ongoing struggle to move beyond the crisis.

We pray that it works as hoped, and that the Church will in time fully recover the dedication and trust of the faithful.

The plan implements the “motu proprio” issued by Pope Francis in May following a Vatican summit in February on sexual abuse. The bishops were poised to take up a similar plan last fall, but they deferred action at the Vatican’s request until after the February summit.

Essentially, the bishops’ plan calls for using a national third-party reporting system to receive reports of abuse and forward them to the proper Church authority, utilizes proven lay experts as advisers, gives oversight responsibility to the metropolitan (an archbishop or bishop of a province with more than one diocese) throughout the investigative process, and other measures.

The third-party reporting system will allow people to make reports via a toll-free telephone number as well as online.

Michigan pastor heading to trial on sexual assault charges

TRAVERSE CITY (MI)
Associated Press

June 20, 2019

A pastor of a church in northern Michigan who is facing charges after five men accused him of sexual assault is heading to trial on charges tied to two of the accusers.

The Traverse City Record-Eagle reports four charges were dropped before the case was sent this week to trial court.

Grand Traverse County Prosecutor Noelle Moeggenberg says Cox is scheduled to appear June 28 on charges including first-degree criminal sexual conduct, methamphetamine possession and child pornography.

His attorney Paul Jarbo says Cox maintains his innocence on the charges and they plan to start preparing for trial.

Cox is pastor of Long Lake Church in Traverse City. The case began after two men told investigators Cox gave them methamphetamine and sexually assaulted them once they became drunk or inebriated.

Assembly of U.S. Catholics Bishops Reveals an Ugly, Incompetent Bureaucracy

WASHINGTON (DC)
National Review

June 18, 2019

By Declan Leary

More than 200 men in black suits sit in a conference hall in a Baltimore hotel. On folding tables in front of them hundreds of pieces of paper are scattered and pitchers of water are placed at regular intervals. Two tables raised in the front are lined with people apparently in charge, each with a microphone. Everyone has a name tag, hung around his neck on a green lanyard. At a glance, you might think it’s a regional gathering of some professional association of paper salesmen, hotel managers, maybe even low-caliber lawyers. Only a careful look at their collars will show that these men are the apostolic shepherds, more or less, of the Catholic Church in the United States.

One steps up to a portable podium and offers a brief opening prayer. There is a pull-down projector screen behind him lit up with an image of the crucified Christ; one can’t help but think that a better setting might have some permanent reminders of why these men are here — or permanent anything, for that matter. Folding tables, a moving podium, a temporary stage (though why a stage is necessary at all in a gathering of bishops is beyond me), all in a neutral (not to mention, thoroughly secular) location, every exit neatly marked by red-lit signs — the bishops look ready to pick up and run at the first hint of trouble. Call it a sign of the times.

A woman begins to bang out a hymn on one of those plug-in electric keyboards. Another impermanence tic. It’s turning into a compulsion, a reflex against that hideous horror, tradition — or, worse, aesthetics. As the keyboard jumps and jolts along and the bishops sing (each out of tune in his own way), you can’t help but feel nostalgic for the grand organs that once made music worthy of the Church and for the simple, ancient chant that even Blase Cupich could sing without sounding like a character out of VeggieTales.

When morning prayer is ended, though not before one more grating hymn is scraped out, Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, president of the the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, reminds them of the reason for this assembly: “To further the sacred work of rooting the evil of sexual abuse from our Church.”

SBCAL approves plan to fight sexual abuse

NASHVILLE (TN)
Baptist Press

June 19, 2019

By Tobin Perry

The Southern Baptist Conference of Associational Leaders (SBCAL) voted unanimously during their meeting, June 9, to approve broad recommendations to Southern Baptist associations, state conventions and churches about how to prevent the abuse of minors.

The document, entitled “Encouragements to Associations, State Conventions, and Churches Regarding the Prevention of Abuse of Minors” outlines a series of 10 recommendations around prevention/protection, awareness/education and ministry care/healing. The meeting was held in conjunction with the Southern Baptist Convention’s (SBC) annual meeting in Birmingham, Ala.

“As you read through these recommendations, some of you – no doubt – are saying, ‘We’re already doing that.’ I applaud you for that,” said Kevin Carrothers, associational mission strategist (AMS) with the South Salem Baptist Association of Mt. Vernon, Ill. “You are on the proactive side so this serves as a reminder to you to continue to safeguard the vulnerable in your churches. For some of you, these are new. These are encouragements to you. That’s how we want you to take these. Not prescriptive, but certainly some areas for you to consider in your association but also in your churches.”

Carrothers led a three-member task force in drafting the document. According to the group’s executive director, Ray Gentry, this year’s 250-plus registrants marked the highest total in years.

The recommendations approved by SBCAL do not bind Southern Baptist associations but serve as a guide for associational mission strategists throughout the SBC. SBCAL leaders also described the document as a work in progress.

“It’s our heart that we’re going to certainly be responsive,” said David Stokes, the chairman of the group’s executive team and the executive director of the Central Kentucky Network of Baptists, based in Lexington.

“This is not us making a statement and saying we’re never going to talk about this again. This is the beginning of a path to address this.”

The associational leaders unanimously voted to amend the title of the previously released document, adding the words “the prevention of” to the title in order to emphasize the desire of SBCAL to provide proactive support on the issue.

For the full text of the statement, visit sbcassociations.org/vote.

Scientology accused of child abuse and human trafficking in new lawsuit

TAMPA (FL)
Tampa Bay Times

June 20, 2019

By Tracey McManus

A team of eight victims’ rights attorneys on Tuesday 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 labor 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 headquarters to abuse inherent to auditing, Scientology’s spiritual counseling 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 $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 attorney 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.”

Gray Lady goes neo-tabloid: Evangelicals, Trump, Falwell, Cohen, Tom Arnold, 'cabana boy,' etc

Get Religion blog

June 19, 2019

By Terry Mattingly

I think that it’s safe to say that Jerry Falwell, Jr., has had a rough year or two.

I don’t say that as a cheap shot. I say that as someone who has followed the adventures of the Falwell family and Liberty University with great interest since the early 1980s, when elite newsrooms — The New Yorker came first, methinks — started paying serious attention to the late Rev. Jerry Falwell.

Of course, there is a good reason for political reporters and others to dig into Falwell, Jr., affairs. His early decision to endorse Donald Trump, instead of Sen. Ted Cruz, helped create the loud minority of white evangelicals who backed The Donald in early primaries. Without them, including Falwell, Trump doesn’t become the nominee and then, in a lesser-of-two-evils ace with Hillary Clinton, squeak into the White House.

So that leads us to a rather interesting — on several levels — piece of neo-tabloid journalism at the New York Times, with this headline: “The Evangelical, the ‘Pool Boy,’ the Comedian and Michael Cohen.” The “evangelical,” of course, is Falwell.

Everything begins and ends with politics, of course, even in a story packed with all kinds of sexy whispers and innuendo about personal scandals. Thus, here is the big summary statement:

Mr. Falwell — who is not a minister and spent years as a lawyer and real estate developer — said his endorsement was based on Mr. Trump’s business experience and leadership qualities. A person close to Mr. Falwell said he made his decision after “consultation with other individuals whose opinions he respects.” But a far more complicated narrative is emerging about the behind-the-scenes maneuvering in the months before that important endorsement.

That backstory, in true Trump-tabloid fashion, features the friendship between Mr. Falwell, his wife and a former pool attendant at the Fontainebleau hotel in Miami Beach; the family’s investment in a gay-friendly youth hostel; purported sexually revealing photographs involving the Falwells; and an attempted hush-money arrangement engineered by the president’s former fixer, Michael Cohen.

The revelations have arisen from a lawsuit filed against the Falwells in Florida; the investigation into Mr. Cohen by federal prosecutors in New York; and the gonzo-style tactics of the comedian and actor Tom Arnold.

The Catholic hierarchy still doesn’t get it

HOUSTON (TX)
Houston Chronicle

June 19, 2019

By Michael Norris

After decades of broken promises to clean up the Roman Catholic Church’s sexual-abuse scandal, American bishops made another attempt at reform last week. Unfortunately, the new measures adopted by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops once again reinforce the idea that the church can investigate itself. These are not the reforms that survivors and advocates wanted.

Can we trust an institution to police itself, especially when it has systematically allowed the molestation of our children and the subsequent protection of the perpetrators?

For example, within the past year in the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston, several priests have been allowed to continue in their ministries for months with unfettered access to children despite church officials’ knowledge of multiple accusations of abuse. Critically, these men were kept in ministry without the knowledge of children’s parents in those parishes. This irresponsible act shows that Houston church officials care more about protecting their reputation than protecting the children studying and worshiping within their diocese.

Analysis: One year after McCarrick, what's next for the Church?

LONDON (ENGLAND)
Catholic Herald

June 20, 2019

By J. D. Flynn

Exactly one year after revelations about the sexual abuse of then-Cardinal Theodore McCarrick were made public, the Church in the U.S. remains in a state of serious scandal, and Catholics remain angry and discouraged. But what’s next for the Church – what happens after McCarrick – depends as much on the decisions of ordinary Catholics as it does on the policy decisions of the U.S. bishops.

McCarrick told the Washington Post in 2002 that to address the scourge of clerical sexual abuse uncovered that year, “everybody has to have a plan, everybody has to have a procedure, everybody has to have a policy.”

His fellow bishops needed to begin “really tackling this in a more comprehensive way,” McCarrick told reporters.

In the months that followed those remarks, McCarrick would become an architect, and a tireless promoter, of the U.S. bishops’ plans and policies to address clerical sexual abuse.

“I think we have to somehow make sure that our people know what we’re doing, that the people know that the bishops are taking this seriously.”

At one-year mark, McCarrick saga remains a story of lights and shadows

ROME (ITALY)
Crux

June 20, 2019

By John L. Allen Jr.

One year ago today, Theodore McCarrick woke up as a cardinal of the Catholic Church, a busy informal diplomatic trouble-shooter on behalf of the Vatican and someone perceived as a friend of the reigning pope, Francis. By the time he went to bed he’d been removed from public ministry, starting a cascade of abuse allegations that led to his being expelled from the College of Cardinals and, eventually, from the priesthood.

McCarrick, who’ll turn 89 on July 7, now lives in disgrace in a small Capuchin friary on the plains of Western Kansas.

As we reach the one-year milestone of the McCarrick saga, it’s a good time to examine where things stand. In essence, it’s a tale typical of the Catholic Church, full of both lights and shadows, hope aroused and business left undone.

On the one hand, Pope Francis came into office vowing there would be no “daddy’s boys” on his watch, meaning clergy so senior or sheltered by powerful patrons as to be beyond reach should they commit a crime. McCarrick certainly proved he meant business, since this was not only a Prince of the Church but someone who, by multiple accounts, campaigned actively for the election of then-Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Argentina in 2013 and was instrumental in delivering some share of votes to the new pontiff.

Sexual abuse victim says Catholic Church officials interrogated him, looking for inconsistencies in his story

MONTREAL (CANADA)
CBC News

June 20, 2019

By Leah Hendry

A.B. says he had no idea what he was walking into when he was asked by the auxiliary bishop of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Montreal to attend a meeting with church officials in late 2016.

He'd recently come forward to make a police complaint about the years of sexual abuse he'd endured as a child at the hands of a Montreal priest.

He was told the Church now needed to do its own internal investigation of the matter.

"It seemed like it was just going to be a normal day, to go talk to people," the man said in an exclusive interview with CBC/Radio-Canada. He is known by the initials A.B., as his identity is protected under a court publication ban.

However, when he arrived at an archdiocese building that houses a priests' residence and meeting rooms, tucked behind Mary Queen of the World Cathedral on René-Lévesque Boulevard, he was met by nine members of the clergy, some robed in their red and purple vestments.

He says he was grilled for hours, as some of the priests tried to poke holes in his story, looking for inconsistencies.

It felt to him like he was on trial.

"In the moment, you feel like you're trying to win a war," he said.

Arts organization refuses to rescind award for cartoon mocking rape-accused bishop

MUMBAI (INDIA)
Crux

June 20, 2019

By Nirmala Carvalho

A government-backed arts group in Kerala, India, has refused to rescind an award for a political cartoon depicting Bishop Franco Mulakkal after a complaint from the state’s Catholic bishops.

Mulakkal, the bishop of the Punjabi city of Jalandhar is charged with raping a nun on multiple occasions at a convent in Kerala, an accusation he denies. Cartoonist Subhash KK drew a political cartoon depicting the bishop as a rooster being propped up by a local politician who has supported him in his legal battle, while a group of nuns run away.

The cartoon won an annual award from the Kerala Lalithakala Akademi, an autonomous cultural organization of the Government of Kerala which supports the visual arts.

The Kerala Catholic Bishops’ Council called the cartoon “incendiary and objectionable” and said it insulted religious symbols.

“In the name of condemning Bishop Franco, the cartoonist has insulted Christianity by drawing an objectionable picture on the Good Shepherd symbol. The Left government in Kerala has honored such a dis

Poland's church struggles to contain its latest crisis

WARSAW (POLAND)
National Catholic Reporter

June 20, 2019

By Jonathan Luxmoore

When Polish Catholics marked 40 years since Pope John Paul II's first home pilgrimage in early June, it was a moment to look back on their church's legacy of much-lauded struggles for justice and human rights.

Today, with that legacy tarnished by a spate of controversies and scandals, some Catholics fear its authority and prestige face serious erosion, whereas others insist the church has come through disasters before, including those of its own making.

"The church has asked people to pray, reflect and do penance — it doesn't really know how to react to failures and never tackles the root causes," Malgorzata Glabisz-Pniewska, a senior Catholic presenter with Polish Radio, told NCR. "It senses it's too well rooted in Polish society and culture to be seriously damaged by negative publicity. This time, things could be different, though it'll clearly have to respond effectively."

In 1979, the newly elected John Paul II preached 32 homilies before 13 million enthusiastic people in the space of a week, in what was to be the first of nine visits to his Polish homeland.

The pilgrimage included his famous invocation of the Holy Spirit in Warsaw's Victory Square, and was widely credited with inspiring the Solidarity union's uprising against communist rule in August 1980. It marked the start of great epoch for the Polish church, which led on to the peaceful restoration of democracy, pluralism and the rule of law a decade later.

Solidarity's victory in semi-free elections, whose 30th anniversary was also marked in early June, was followed by years of bitter struggle over the church's place in the new post-communist Poland, and over the values the country would live by as it gained in stability and prosperity.

June 19, 2019

The Catholic Church has finally gotten serious about handling sexual abuse

WASHINGTON (DC)
Jewish Telegraphic Agency

June 19, 2019

By Bethany Mandel

In May, Pope Francis issued a detailed ruling on how officials in the Roman Catholic Church must handle cases of clerical sexual abuse, the first official codification of the church’s global policy.

Though abuse survivors have criticized the pope’s ruling as not strong enough and for being approved only “ad experimentum for three years,” his statement is thorough about how abuse allegations should be handled and powerful given the backing of the head of the Catholic Church.

Yet the news-making statement reflects not a change in priorities, but a move toward further public accountability in the Church’s decades-long grappling with allegations of abuse.

There is no equivalent to a pope in the Jewish world, no centralized body that can make sweeping pronouncements about how sexual abuse and harassment should be handled. But there is much Jewish professionals and all religious professionals working on improving our communal response to sexual abuse can learn from how the pope’s recent decision transpired.

DCFS ends investigation into Maryville's Smyth; archdiocese set to resume inquiry

CHICAGO (IL)
Chicago Daily Herald

June 19, 2019

The Illinois Department of Children and Family Services has formally closed its investigation into former Maryville Academy leader the Rev. John Smyth.

The move is expected to trigger the Archdiocese of Chicago to reopen its internal probe into sex abuse claims against the now deceased priest.

DCFS began its inquiry after the archdiocese provided notification that two men claimed Smyth molested them in the early 2000s when they were 13 and 14 years old. The archdiocese made those accusations public in January.

Under DCFS policy, the agency looks into whether someone accused of abuse at any time in the past may be a risk to children today. The probe didn't specifically examine the accusations of the two men.

"Reports of prior abuse from adults plays an important role in determining if an alleged perpetrator is still a risk to children today. The mission of DCFS is to keep children safe today," said DCFS spokeswoman Deborah Lopez. "In the investigation of Father Smyth, his hospitalization and death means he would no longer pose a potential risk to children."

Diocese of Erie Reacts to Allegations against Bishop Emeritus Trautman

ERIE (PA)
Erie Times

June 19, 2019

The Diocese of Erie is now speaking out after a new allegation of priest abuse charges former Erie Bishop Donald w. Trautman with knowing about it and doing nothing.

Tuesday, Buffalo man, James Bottlinger accused Father Michael Freeman of sexually abusing him when he was a minor. This set off ripples in Erie after he pointed to Bishop Emeritus Trautman for allegedly knowing about it.

50-year-old Bottlinger says Bishop Emeritus Trautman was told about the abuse from Freeman. This coming as a surprise to the Dioceses of Erie saying this is the first time they have heard about these allegations.

“It’s always painful when there are any allegations. We had some recently with another priest. Whether it’s with a Bishop or Priest, nobody wants to see allegations come forward. It is difficult to look at the past. We want to get to the truth in every situation and that is what we’ll be aiming to do,” said Anna Marie Welsh, on behalf of the Diocese of Erie.

As for the most recent allegations against Bishop Emeritus Trautman, the Diocese says it far too early for them to comment on the matter.

Archbishop Viganò clarifies points arising from new interview

ROME (ITALY)
LifeSiteNews

June 14, 2019

In the wake of two recent pieces in the Washington Post relating to Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, an article and an extended interview (the first the archbishop has granted since his initial allegations concerning Pope Francis), renewed insinuations and smears have been directed at the former diplomat of the Holy See.

In his June 10 interview, the archbishop claims that the actions so far taken against McCarrick are chiefly inspired by a desire to prevent a trial of the former cardinal, which might expose the complicity of other churchmen in his actions and the ensuing coverup.

This, Archbishop Viganò alleges, is why the Pope’s actions against McCarrick (removal from the sacred college and laicization) are all administrative and therefore without appeal. In other words, if a judicial process concluded that McCarrick was guilty of the accusations made against him, any appeal by McCarrick (who continues to protest his innocence) would inevitably expose the guilt of other senior prelates. By moving straight to the penalty without the trial, Pope Francis is able to avoid this potentially devastating development.

Archbishop Viganò further insists that, above all other considerations, the present scandals engulfing the Church relate to homosexuality and self-protecting networks of clerical homosexuals, and the Vatican response to these scandals is directed towards protecting these networks at all costs.

Big journalism question: Would new U.S. bishops hotline have nabbed 'Uncle Ted' McCarrick?

Get Religion blog

June 15, 2019

By Terry Mattingly

I have talked to quite a few Catholics in the past year — laypeople and journalists, mainly — and I have read quite a bit of commentary by Catholic clergy and other insiders.

There are two questions that I keep running into over and over. Both are relevant in light of the vote by U.S. Catholic bishops to create a third-party anonymous hotline that will handle accusations of misconduct by bishops, archbishops and cardinals. Here is a Crux summary of that:

The reporting system will be managed by an independent body that will receive complaints that will be reported to the metropolitan (or regional) archbishop who, in accordance with Pope Francis’s new ‘motu proprio’, Vos estis lux mundi (“You are the light of the world”), is responsible for investigating claims against bishops.

Vos estis requires that local bishops’ conferences must establish a “public, stable and easily accessible” system for submitting abuse claims and also that the reports are sent to the metropolitans (or their senior suffragans if the report is against the metropolitan). In the United States, there are 32 territorial archdioceses (or metropolitans).

Here is the lede on the Washington Post story about that vote, which includes a blunt paraphrase of one possible implications of this decision, in terms of enforcement:

The U.S. Catholic bishops voted … to create the first national hotline for reporting sexual abuse committed by or mishandled by bishops. But they specified that the hotline send reports directly to other bishops, essentially demanding that the leaders of the scandal-plagued church police themselves instead of turning toward outside authorities.

How to keep 'Uncle Ted' McCarrick in the news? Educate readers and keep Vigano talking

Get Religion blog

June 19, 2019

By Clemente Lisi

Not long after I broke into the journalism business over 20 years ago did my mother ask me a very interesting question: “Where do you get all that news that ends up in the newspaper?”

It was a question any news consumer should ask. I gave a simple — although in hindsight — a somewhat unhelpful answer.

“It’s complicated,” I replied.

I went on to explain how reporters use interviews, documents, press releases and news conferences to put together the news.

It really isn’t that complicated. Journalists have made it a practice for years to make their jobs sound like (me included) as if they were doing brain surgery. As one editor would always tell me when things got hard at work: “We’re not saving lives here.”

Maybe not, but being a reporter is a massive responsibility. Never has the process of journalism — and what it is that reporters and editors actually do — come under the microscope as it has the past few years. I suppose that’s a result of Donald Trump getting elected president and the allegation that fake news helped him get elected.

Whether it did or not, that’s not the point. What is the point is that citizens — the people we reporters call “readers” — have become more aware of the process. At least they want transparency from news organizations when it comes to how and why we report on stories.

This takes me to my point. As we near the one-year anniversary of the revelations that exposed the past misdeeds of Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, the story doesn’t look like it is subsiding anytime soon. In a recent post, I highlighted the importance of the papal news conference and how American media outlets were potentially being manipulated by the Vatican press office. Also, tmatt offered this post on a related topic: “Big journalism question: Would new U.S. bishops hotline have nabbed 'Uncle Ted' McCarrick?”

Like with everything in life (and journalism), it’s complicated.

Review calls for Catholic Church safeguarding revamp

SCOTLAND
BBC News

June 15, 2019

The Catholic Church in Scotland needs to revamp its measures for protecting young and vulnerable people, an independent review has concluded.

The review said a better resourced and independent safeguarding service was a "crucial step to promote transparency and restore credibility".

Baroness Liddell of Coatdyke, who led the review, said a "a good start has been made" by the Catholic Church.

But she said cultural change was still needed within the organisation.

‘He hurt people’: West Virginia’s long-faithful Catholics grapple with news of bishop’s misconduct

MARTINSBURG (WEST VIRGINIA)
THE WASHINGTON POST

June 19, 2019

By Julie Zauzmer

Nancy Ostrowski knows this state. And she thought she knew her bishop.

Her family has been attending St. Joseph Catholic Church since the Romanesque Revival building was dedicated in 1860, just before West Virginia broke away from Virginia to support the Union. Her ancestors saw the heady years of Martinsburg’s heyday, when the mills running day and night here supplied clothing to the world, and the heavy decades of struggle when those mills closed down.

Ostrowski knows West Virginia’s isolated Appalachian crannies, pockets of desperate poverty where people like her, people who’ve kept their Catholic faith for generations, might drive all the way across their county to attend the one shrinking Catholic church around.

She thought Bishop Michael Bransfield, who led the statewide Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston from 2005 until his abrupt retirement under church investigation last year, held those places in his heart. He visited those mountain hamlets. He wrote about their needs in the diocesan newsletter that she always read.

“He seemed to have a real sense of duty and caring to the people of the state. That made it doubly shocking,” Ostrowski said on Sunday, as she left Mass at that brick Romanesque temple her forefathers helped build. “For all intents and purposes, he seemed to be a very good bishop. But he was leading a double life.”

Rumors had circulated for years about Bransfield. But Ostrowski and many fellow parishioners first learned that he was suspected of misconduct when he retired suddenly last fall, and Pope Francis asked Baltimore’s Archbishop William Lori to conduct an investigation. Details were elusive, until a Washington Post investigation earlier this month.

Don’t abolish the priesthood. Redeem it.

NEW YORK (NY)
America Magazine

June 19, 2019

By Francis X. Clooney, S.J.

Several months ago I participated in a small campus conversation about the abuse crisis in the Catholic Church. A Protestant speaker diverted our attention for a few minutes by offering a set-piece critique of celibacy as essentially wrong and absolutely intolerable. He listed its many flaws and vices, pointed to its inhumanity and de facto impossibility and called for its abolition. I was caught off guard; I should have spoken up, at least to point out (as the speaker should have known) that I have tried to hold all this together for over 50 years as a Jesuit, over 40 as a priest, all of that time as a celibate. But no one picked up on his theme, and the conversation quickly returned to the conversation’s main concern.

The event, small as it was, is hardly singular. This year has been another dismal one for revelations about sexual abuse in the Catholic Church—painful for victims and their families, painful for all of us who care about the Catholic Church and especially dismal for the Catholic hierarchy that covered up so much of the abuse for so many decades. Analyses of this tragedy are unsurprisingly many, denunciations fiery, proposed remedies innumerable. Some essayists and opinion-makers with Catholic connections are now getting fiercer, proposing more radical solutions, and so the Catholic priesthood itself is now a common target of outrage. Abolish it!

Some essayists and opinion-makers with Catholic connections are now getting fiercer, proposing more radical solutions, and so the Catholic priesthood itself is now a common target of outrage.

Unsurprisingly, too, here in Boston where I live critiques of the priesthood itself have been fiery. The year began with Garry Wills’s January 2019 op-ed in The Boston Globe, “Celibacy isn’t the cause of the church sex-abuse crisis; the priesthood is,” an adequate recap of his caustic 2013 book Why Priests? His minimalist point: What we can’t find in the New Testament is illegitimate, and this includes much of the sacramental and hierarchical structure of the Catholic Church; the priesthood was never intended by Christ and cannot be saved: “I don’t think it should work again. The priesthood is itself an affront to the Gospel.”

St. Anthony priest accused of sexual misconduct

REEDLEY (CA)
Reedley Exponent

June 19, 2019

By Jon Earnest

A woman has accused Monsignor John Esquivel of St. Anthony of Padua Catholic Church in Reedley of sexual misconduct; claiming she was sexually abused when Esquivel was serving as priest at the St. Joseph Catholic Church in Bakersfield in the 1980s.

In a June 17 news conference in Bakersfield, 52-year-old Sylvia Gomez Ray said she was sexually abused by Esquivel in the four months she worked as a secretary at the church in the mid 1980s. Gomez Ray said she was 17 or 18 at the time when the incidents occurred, and her attorney said they recently filed allegations on her behalf with the state Attorney General’s office as well as with police in Bakersfield and Reedley.

The Diocese of Fresno put out a June 17 news release saying that it planned to follow procedures and report to the Bakersfield Police Department. The diocese has a policy to report all allegations of sexual abuse of a minor, no matter how long ago the alleged abuse occurred.

Esquivel did not comment on the allegations. He has served a dozen years leading St. Anthony’s, and was the first priest ordained by the Diocese of Fresno in 1968. He was honored April 27, 2018 during a Mass of Thanksgiving at the new St. Anthony Church on Frankwood Avenue.

Father Eric Swearingen among 43 priests in Fresno Diocese accused of sexual abuse

VISALIA (CA)
Sun Gazette

June 19, 2019

A Visalia priest has been placed on paid administrative leave in the wake of a new report chronicling a history of sexual abuse within the Fresno Diocese of the Catholic church.

In a letter addressed to the “People of God,” Most Reverend Joseph V. Brennan, bishop of the Diocese of Fresno, announced that Father Eric Swearingen, pastor of the Good Shepherd Parish in Visalia, had been placed on paid leave as of June 5. The letter was read during both Sunday and Saturday mass at the parish’s four congregations at St. Charles Borromoeo, Holy Family, and St. Mary’s in Visalia, and St. Thomas The Apostle in Goshen. The parish also oversees George McCann Memorial, a kindergarten through eighth grade Catholic school, and the Bethlehem Center, a thrift store and food pantry.

“This action was necessary in light of detailed information associated with a civil case dating back to 2006 that was brought to my attention following a file review,” Most Rev. Brennan stated in the letter. “I am not able to offer further details.”

The civil case mentioned was a high profile lawsuit involving former altar boy Juan Rocha who accused Fr. Swearingen of sexually abusing him from 1989 to 1993 during the priest’s first assignment at Our Lady of Guadalupe in Bakersfield, Calif. The jury found Fr. Swearingen guilty of child sexual abuse in a 9-3 vote but fell short of the nine votes required to find the Diocese of Fresno guilty of wrongdoing resulting in a mistrial. Instead of a retrial, Fr. Swearingen and Rocha entered a binding arbitration to settle the lawsuit, the terms of which remain undisclosed.

Rally Speaker Remarks: Cheryl Summers

For Such aTime as This blog

June 19, 2019

Cheryl Summers is the founder of For Such A Time As This Rally. Cheryl is a domestic abuse and sexual assault survivor. She has spent most of her life as a Southern Baptist, and while she continues to be a person of deep faith, she left the Southern Baptist Convention five years ago due to concerns about abuse of all types within the denomination. Here are her remarks delivered at the 2019 For Such A Time As This Rally.

It seems like the Southern Baptists may have finally realized that the issue of abuse must be addressed, right? That’s what we’re hearing about what is taking place at the annual meeting. So, why are we out here today? Is this even necessary?

I want to read you a few lines from an SBC annual meeting resolution:

“RESOLVED, That we renounce individuals, churches, or other religious bodies that cover up, ignore, or otherwise contribute to or condone the abuse of children; and be it

“RESOLVED, That we … intercede on behalf of victimized children, asking God to … stop the cycle of abuse from repeating itself in another generation.”
(Full text of the resolution - including the reference to Lifeway training curriculum similar to the new Church Cares curriculum can be read at: http://www.sbc.net/resolutions/search/resolution.asp?ID=1173)

Sounds like those words were probably written recently, right? They weren’t.

These words are part of a resolution on abuse passed at the 2007 Annual Meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention held in San Antonio, TX.

Ex-Baptist pastor in Texas charged with abusing teen relative

NEW YORK (NY)
NBC News

June 16, 2019

By Tim Stelloh

An ex-Southern Baptist pastor who promoted a strict anti-abortion bill in Texas has been arrested and charged with sexually assaulting a teenage relative for five years, authorities said Sunday.

Stephen Bratton, a former pastor at Grace Family Baptist Church in Houston, was arrested Friday on a count of continuous sexual abuse of a child, church and law enforcement officials said.

Bratton, 44, allegedly began abusing the girl in 2013 when she was 13 years old, including sexually assaulting her multiple times a day, the Harris County Sheriff’s Office said in a statement. They did not say how the two were related.

Church officials said they learned of the alleged assaults last month when Bratton confessed to two other pastors. They filed a police report May 16 and excommunicated Bratton a week later, they said in a statement Saturday.

“The elders have called upon Stephen Bratton to accept the full responsibility for his actions and to place himself at the mercy of the criminal justice system,” the statement said.

It wasn’t immediately clear if Bratton has a lawyer.

Camp staffer, pastor and former intern face charges amid Southern Baptist Convention abuse crisis

NASHVILLE (TN)
Baptist News Global

June 17, 2019

By Bob Allen

LifeWay Christian Resources revealed in a statement June 14 the arrest of a summer staff worker accused of molesting two children attending a church camp in Arizona.

Noah John Paradis, 19, is listed as an inmate at the Navajo County Detention Center in Holbrook, Arizona.

CentriKid, a five-day, four-night camp for third through sixth graders staffed by college and seminary students, operates from mid-June until early August at numerous conference centers and Baptist college campuses across the country.

LifeWay said Paradis’ involvement was limited to the June 10-14 camp in Arizona, and as soon as the company learned of charges he was fired.

“We are grieved that someone representing LifeWay would behave in this manner and abuse their position of authority with a child,” Waggoner said. “LifeWay is working with local law enforcement as the investigation is ongoing and will continue to follow their lead in the case.”

'Secret' Catholic files called key to exposing the full clergy abuse scandal

BERGEN (NJ)
North Jersey Record

June 19, 2019

By Deena Yellin

Bruce Novozinsky was a 16-year-old seminary student when his longtime parish priest, The Rev. Gerry Brown of St. Mary of the Lake in Lakewood, New Jersey, abused him and attempted to rape him.

"It cost me part of my youth, my trust in those who I was taught to trust and decades of my life..." Novozinsky, an Upper Freehold resident, said.

Years later, he discovered that he was not the only victim of the priest, who died in 2013.

Brown's name recently showed up on a list of credibly accused priests of the Trenton Diocese.

Novozinsky, who authored a book, "Purple Reign: Sexual Abuse and Abuse of Power in the Diocese of Trenton, New Jersey" in 2012, is convinced that the church hierarchy knew that Brown was a predator but neglected to act.

He is now calling for the Trenton Diocese to release the personnel records of his abuser and other accused priests so that he and his attorneys can review any reports of abuse that the church received and any actions taken, or not taken, by church officials.

"For decades, the Catholic church covered up an insidious culture of predatory child abuse, doing everything in its power to protect abusers and silence and intimidate victims and their families. Details of the abuse were held under lock and key in 'secret files' hidden from public view. It's past time for those secret files to be made public," Novozinsky wrote in a letter to Bishop David M. O'Connell of the Diocese of Trenton.

O'Connell has not responded.

Pope’s envoy in Mexico says media has helped Church on abuse

ROME (ITALY)
Crux

June 19, 2019

By Inés San Martín

According to Italian Archbishop Franco Coppola, the pope’s ambassador in Mexico, the local Catholic Church still has a long way to go when it comes to addressing clerical sexual abuse, even if much has been done in recent years.

“The attention given to us by the media is very positive, as it forces us to cleanse our Church and our hearts,” he told Crux on Saturday. “We need to cleanse the Church of sexual abuse, as well as abuses of power and conscience, of thinking that it’s OK to take advantage of one’s position to commit a crime that has nothing to do with the faith, the Gospel or the Church.”

“It’s a necessary, even if painful purification,” Coppola said.

The archbishop was in Rome last week taking part in a June 13-15 summit of nuncios called by Pope Francis. He was appointed as papal representative to Mexico less than three years ago, taking over the job from Archbishop Christophe Pierre, currently the nuncio to the United States.

What Catholic bishops must do to prevent sexual abuse and hold clergy accountable

DES MOINES (IA)
Des Moines Register

June 14, 2019

By Tim Busch

Rarely do Americans pay attention to the biannual assemblies of the nation’s Roman Catholic bishops, but the gathering that starts on Tuesday in Baltimore will be different.

Millions of people, Catholic and not, are asking the same question: What new steps will the bishops take to clean up — or clean out — the church after years of sex abuse scandals?

This is a question the bishops take seriously. At its meeting last November, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) was ready to vote on measures that would increase accountability for church leaders. While the Vatican intervened at the 11th hour, it did so because it was preparing to release reforms of its own, which were unveiled in May.

The Vatican’s new policy is a big step in the right direction. Rome has also been working much closer with the U.S. church to penalize bad actors. But America's bishops should see it as a starting point, not the final word. Building on Pope Francis' good actions, the USCCB should pass long overdue reforms that give regular Catholics — known as “lay Catholics” — a greater role in keeping bishops and priests accountable.

Regular Catholics have historically been held at arm’s length by the bishops, even though the church has called for our role to be expanded in recent years. Yet regular Catholics are especially well-suited to holding the church’s leaders accountable. We have no institutional incentive to cover up sins and crimes, and we want the church to be healthy and holy.

What's under the miter?

PARIS (FRANCE)
LaCroix International

June 19, 2019

By Father William Grimm MM

When I was a boy, I watched a narrow clamshell bucket dipping into a sewer up the street from our home to clear muck.

I was still too young and too inexperienced in the ways of the Church to be aware of the irony of it, but I found it amusing that the muck-filled bucket looked vaguely like an upside-down version of the hat I had recently seen filled by the head of a bishop who came to our parish for Confirmations.

Several years later, I learned to use a post hole digger, and noticed the similarity between it and an upside-down miter. That similarity points to something in Dante's Inferno (hell).

In the 19th canto of that 14th-century poem, Dante on his tour of hell encounters bishops and other church leaders who have been turned upside-down and placed in post holes while their feet burn.

2 Catholic orders name 65 priests accused or convicted of abuse; 27 served in Arizona

PHOENIX (AZ)
Arizona Republic

June 15, 2019

By Lauren Castle

Two Catholic religious orders recently released lists naming 65 clergy accused of sexual abuse against minors dating back decades; 27 of the men served in Arizona.

The newly released information comes as American bishops met this week in Baltimore for a conference that focused on how to respond to the church's sex-abuse crisis, which has increasingly caught the attention of state prosecutors across the U.S.

The Franciscan Friars of the Province of Saint Barbara, based in Oakland, California, released its list of credible abuse claims in late May. The claims stretch as far back as the 1930s, and the most recent claim is from the 1980s. More than two dozen on the list had assignments in Arizona, from St. Mary's in Phoenix to St. Xavier del Bac near Tucson. Most of the accused have long since died.

In a letter, Father David Gaa, provincial minister for the Franciscan Friars of Saint Barbara, said the list is a commitment to transparency and accountability. "The victims, their families, and the People of God deserve transparency," the letter says.

A Catholic religious order that founded University of Notre Dame and Holy Cross College in Indiana released a list of credible sex abuse claims involving minors on Wednesday. The Congregation of Holy Cross' list dates back to the 1940s.

Two of the accused clergy served in Phoenix.

"Over the last two decades, but particularly in the last year, we have all become more aware of the problem of sexual abuse of children within the Catholic Church and its mishandling," Rev. William Lies, the provincial superior of the order, said in a letter published with the list.

Amid broad drop in charitable donations, giving to God down $3 billion last year

NEW YORK (NY)
Associated Press

June 18, 2019

Charitable giving by individual Americans in 2018 suffered its biggest drop since the Great Recession of 2008-09, in part because of Republican-backed changes in tax policy, according to the latest comprehensive report on Americans’ giving patterns.

The Giving USA report, released Tuesday, said individual giving fell by 1.1%, from $295 billion in 2017 to $292 billion last year. It ended a four-year streak of increases, and was the largest decline since a 6.1% drop in 2009.

Experts involved with the report said 2018 was a complex year for charitable giving, with a relatively strong economy overall and a volatile stock market. Giving by corporations and foundations increased, so that total giving — including donations from individuals — edged up by 0.7 percent to $427.7 billion.

Among various factors affecting charitable giving was a federal tax policy change that doubled the standard deduction. More than 45 million households itemized deductions in 2016, according to Giving USA, and that number likely dropped sharply in 2018, reducing an incentive for charitable giving.

“Whenever there’s a major tax policy change like that, it has an effect.” said Rick Dunham, chair of Giving USA Foundation, which publishes the annual report. It is researched and written by the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy.

Dunham and other experts said it will likely take another year of analysis, with the help of additional data, to reach a more precise estimate of the tax change’s impact.

New book sheds light on real story of Church and money

ROME (ITALY)
Crux

June 19, 2019

By Marta Petrosillo – Katholiek Nieuwsblad

“The Vatican is rich!” “All these assets they have … why don’t they sell them to give the money to the poor?” These are just two of the statements that we frequently hear when talking about the wealth of the Holy See or in general of the whole Church. But is it really so? This is what Mimmo Muolo, Vatican correspondent for Avvenire - the newspaper of the Italian Bishops’ conference - tries to find out in his new book The Church’s Money: Fabulous richness and evangelical poverty.

The book dispels many stereotypes and sheds light on the many inaccuracies that, more or less in good faith, go around when people talk about the Church and money. Katholiek Nieuwsblad spoke with Muolo to understand where all the confusion comes from and what the truth actually is about the wealth of the Church.

Katholiek Nieuwsblad: When did you get the idea to write this book?

Muolo: It was last September, at a time when the Church was attacked on many fronts concerning its assets. For example, the eternal question was raised again why the Church in Italy is not obliged to pay taxes on its properties. At that time people were also discussing the fact that, by welcoming migrants, the Church benefited from the €35 [around $40] offered by the Italian state for each migrant. I noticed a lot of confusion going around in the media and online, and also the spread of fake news absolutely not corresponding to reality.

Beth Moore at #SBC2019: The SBC Pretends to Care About Her Past Abuse

Patheos blog

June 18, 2019

By Captain Cassidy

The Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) just finished its big Annual Meeting. About 8100 Messengers showed up to what sounds like one of the worst three-ring-circuses the SBC has ever had. One of the primary agendas for the meeting–sorta–involved the denomination’s sex-abuse scandal. It’s hard to tell which is worse: the scandal as it is, or the SBC’s lack of interest in addressing that scandal in any meaningful way. Today, let me show you how the SBC treated the victims of that scandal at their 2019 Annual Meeting, and what that treatment shows about their priorities–and their future.

I focus on the SBC because, firstly, they represent the biggest clutch of white evangelicals around. Trends come to them a bit late sometimes, but they cling to them a bit longer. Where the SBC goes, therefore, the rest of the gaggle follows.

Secondly, they make (some) of their metrics and statistics available to the public. You can 100% bet your last dollar that, say, the United Pentecostal Church, International (UPCI) suffers from the exact same problems, infighting, and of course the same scandals. They simply don’t tend to release figures or have giant denominational meetings like the SBC does.

Thirdly, the SBC represents one of the most politicized groups around, with leaders who stand as some of the most deeply-embedded in our current president’s regime out of all their end of Christianity. Thus, keeping an eye on their antics seems like basic common sense to me.

(Fourthly, their willful ignorance, total and willful lack of self-awareness, and absolute and willful hypocrisy–and their evolution from the 1980s to now–kinda fascinates me. How could it not?)

Bishop Mitchell Rozanski apologizes for Springfield Diocese ‘past failures’

SPRINGFIELD (MA)
The Republican

June 18, 2019

By Anne-Gerard Flynn

During a press conference called to highlight new efforts in addressing clergy sex abuse allegations, Bishop Mitchell T. Rozanski apologized for “past failures” and said his diocese is committed to investigating allegations of decades old clergy abuse of minors.

“Let me be clear on how deeply sorry I am for the past failures of our church to respond to the needs of victims and to protect them from our abuse,” Rozanski said. “Our goal now is to deal compassionately and justly with those who come forward.”

Lamont signs bill creating panel to study civil statute of limitations in sex-assault cases

NEW LONDON (CT)
The Day

June 18. 2019

By Joe Wojtas

Gov. Ned Lamont signed a sweeping sexual harassment bill Tuesday that establishes a commission to look into whether the state should extend the statute of limitations for filing lawsuits in sexual-assault cases.

The Connecticut chapter of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests and people who say they were sexually assaulted as minors by priests in the state’s Catholic dioceses and who are now barred from filing lawsuits because they are older than 48 had pushed for passage of Senate Bill 3.

The law extends the age to file a lawsuit to 51, five years less than the age of 56 called for in a previous amendment. The original bill called for a 27-month window in which victims could sue regardless of age and called for the elimination of the statute of limitations for anyone now under 48 for incidents that occur after Oct. 1, 2019.

The law also establishes a nine-member task force that will study whether the current statute of limitations should be amended and report its findings and recommendations to the legislature’s Judiciary Committee by Jan. 15, 2020, just before the start of the next legislative session.

The task force must look at the statute of limitations in Connecticut and other states and review claims that are barred from proceeding due to the current statute of limitations.

June 18, 2019

Presbyterian minister's accusers file lawsuit over oral sex exorcism allegations

NEW BRUNSWICK (NJ)
Bridgewater Courier News

June 18, 2019

By Nick Muscavage

Four people — three men and one woman — have filed a lawsuit against a longtime Presbyterian minister, claiming he indulged in sexual behavior to exorcise evil spirits from them.

The Rev. Dr. William Weaver, the former minister of Linden Presbyterian Church for 39 years, is accused of sexual assault, aggravated assault, sexual battery, false imprisonment and intentional infliction of emotional distress, misrepresentation and gross negligence, in the 105-page lawsuit filed Tuesday by Toms River attorney Robert Fuggi in Middlesex County Superior Court.

The lawsuit also names as defendants the Linden Presbyterian Church, the Presbytery of Elizabeth and the Presbyterian Church (USA).

No criminal charges have been filed against Weaver. The Union County Prosecutor's Office could neither deny or confirm any information relating to Weaver

Fuggi said in an email that Weaver used his abilities and position "for evil." He also said that although Weaver was a graduate of Princeton Theological Seminary — one of the leading Presbyterian seminaries in the country — he broke all tenets of the faith "by using his position of pastoral authority to harm and manipulate these victims for his own twisted desires."

Erie’s Trautman accused over Buffalo abuse complaints

ERIE (PA)
Erie Times

June 18, 2019

By Ed Palattella

Man claims retired Erie Catholic bishop failed to address concerns over abusive priest when he was at Buffalo diocese.

Retired Erie Catholic Bishop Donald W. Trautman was accused Tuesday of mishandling complaints that a priest in the Catholic Diocese of Buffalo was abusing teenagers when Trautman was chancellor in that diocese more than 30 years ago.

Flanked by lawyers at a news conference in Buffalo, the accuser, James Bottlinger, 50, said that he was in high school when the Rev. Michael Freeman molested him when Freeman was at St. Mary of the Assumption Church in Lancaster, New York.

Bottlinger said Trautman and others knew of previous complaints about Freeman, but that Freeman was moved around in the diocese and eventually abused Bottlinger.

“He’s got a lot of answering to do,” Bottlinger said of Trautman.

The lawyers said Bottlinger intends to sue the Diocese of Buffalo over the abuse after he recently rejected a $650,000 settlement that the diocese offered him as part of its $17.5 million program to compensate victims who, as children, suffered clergy sexual abuse.

Bishop Rozanski: ‘We know we can do better’

SPRINGFIELD (MA)
Daily Hampshire Gazette

June 18, 2019

By Jacquelyn Voghel

The Roman Catholic Diocese of Springfield has announced the launch of a “newly reorganized” Safe Environment & Victim Assistance Office in the wake of a report that the diocese attempted to cover up molestation accusations leveled by a former altar boy against a longtime bishop.

The office’s responsibilities will include “building on a system” that includes measures such as CORI checks; abuse awareness training for clergy members, religious and lay employees, and all church volunteers; and other church education and awareness programs, Bishop Mitchell T. Rozanski said at a press conference at the diocesan pastoral center Tuesday afternoon.

Jeffrey Trant, a social worker whose background focuses on children and vulnerable adults affected by trauma, will lead the office.

The diocese already undergoes annual audits to check its compliance with the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People, Rozanski said, but he added, “We know we can do better.”

There are “aspects of our response that clearly need improving,” Rozanski said.

Excellent Resource on Ministry Leader Abuse

ST. LOUIS (MO)
Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests

June 18, 2019

The below resource was created by our friends from the For Such a Time as This rally. This resources contains information and frequently asked questions on the topics of clergy/minister abuse, different types of abuse, best practices in responding to abuse, information on how to report, and more.

Click here to view and read this valuable resource, and thanks again to the leaders and organizers at the For Such a Time a This rally for sharing!

CRITICS SAY U.S. BISHOPS' NEW ABUSE REGULATIONS LACK LAY INVOLVEMENT

WASHINGTON (DC)
Sojourners Magazine

June 18, 2019

By Greg Williams

“Come, Holy Spirit. Give us the strength to humbly match the courageous witness of those abuse survivors with a boldness of reform for the Church in the United States. This week we continue a journey that will not end until there is not one instance of sexual abuse within our Church.”

With those words, Cardinal Daniel DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, the current president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, opened their 2019 General Assembly this week. The most recent revelations about systemic sexual abuse and harassment have lent particular urgency to this attempt to standardize and apply the same standards to bishops as to priests: Theodore McCarrick, former Archbishop of Washington, D.C., was defrocked after credible allegations of abuse and misconduct surfaced, and Michael J. Bransfield, former Bishop of West Virginia, was forced to step down in the fall while under investigation for systemic sexual harassment and corruption, as revealed by the Washington Post.

The new rules the bishops passed did not, despite strong encouragement from advocates inside and outside the Church, mandate independent lay involvement in investigations of bishops. The Conference did overwhelmingly approve a policy stating that laity should be involved in the process of investigations.

Last November, Catholic bishops gathered in Baltimore determined to act on problems raised by gaps in the 2002 “Dallas Charter” for the Protection of Children and Young Adults – most notably that it did not explicitly extend to bishops. Then, as their deliberations were about to begin, they abruptly stopped on the request of the Vatican. There was going to be an international consultation and a new set of rulings from Pope Francis to help the whole Church deal with the sex abuse crisis – even in jurisdictions outside the U.S. where a wave of accusations has not yet hit the Church.

That hope was realized in part with a February gathering in Rome and a motu propio last month from Pope Francis, which spells out new global policies on clergy abuse and cover up. This week, the bishops met in Baltimore again, to set up more stable and better procedures for dealing with abuse from a bishop.

Pope Francis’ motu propio states simply that investigations of bishops may involve lay experts, rather than declaring that they must involve lay experts. The responsibility to investigate lies in the hands of the metropolitan bishop, the head of the local region of bishops (or his assistant bishop in cases of accusations against the metropolitan).

Many activists are skeptical of this model. As Bob Hoatson, president of Road to Recovery and an advocate for survivors of sexual abuse puts it, “I think the Church is inherently incapable of policing itself. It’s only since the attorneys general of the United States have gotten involved in the investigations that we’ve made progress.”

Even lay members of the institutional apparatus of the Church are calling for expanded lay involvement. Dr. Francesco Cesareo, the head of the National Review Board (NRB), which investigates the Church’s compliance with its commitments to fight sexual abuse, puts it this way in his report to the USCCB’s General Assembly: “The NRB remains uncomfortable with allowing bishops to review allegations against other bishops as this essentially means bishops policing bishops. The metropolitan will gain greater credibility if a lay commission is established when allegations come forward to assist in the process as has been the case with lay review boards on the local level.”

Bishop Emeritus Donald Trautman named during Buffalo news conference

BUFFALO (NY)
WJET TV

Jun 18, 2019

A man in Buffalo New York speaks openly for the first time about sexual abuse suffered at the hands of a priest, also naming Erie’s Bishop Emeritus Donald Trautman.

During today’s news conference, James Botlinger alleged Father Michael Freeman sexually
abused him as a minor from 1983 to 1987, while a member of the Catholic Diocese of Buffalo.

During that news conference, Bishop Donald Trautman was mentioned as someone who had
been told at least two times about Father Freeman’s abusive behavior.

Botlinger also mentioned that he had met Trautman in the personal residence of Freeman, after being alerted about his behavior.

Botlinger’s lawyer saying that the compensation fund offered him 650 thousand dollars, but Botlinger turned it down to bring his case to the courts.

DCFS closes case, but doesn’t clear well-known priest

CHICAGO (IL)
WGN Chanhnel 9

June 18, 2019

By Ben Bradley

The Illinois Department of Children and Family Services has closed its investigation into sexual abuse claims against Rev. John Smyth, the well-known charismatic former leader of Maryville Academy in Des Plaines; but that’s not an exoneration.

A DCFS spokesperson told WGN Investigates that Smyth’s death in April means he can’t be considered a current threat to children, and therefore the agency has no reason to investigate.

“The investigation into Father Smyth was closed following his death,” said DCFS spokesman Jassen Strokosch. “Over the course of the investigation, Smyth no longer had access to children and did not meet the criteria for the Department to conclude the investigation as Indicated.”

DCFS would typically only investigate old claims of abuse to determine whether children are currently in danger. A source said investigators found no evidence of recent abuse by Smyth, who continued to live near Maryville Academy after his retirement. Following the allegations, the Archdiocese removed Smyth from ministry and said he could no longer live in the rectory at the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe while the claims were investigated.

Father Smyth led Maryville Academy in Des Plaines and Notre Dame College Prep high school in Niles prior to his retirement in 2014. Earlier this year, two men came forward and accused Smyth of molesting them when they were teenagers living at Maryville in the early-2000s. Des Plaines police reportedly found no credible evidence of abuse. However, a Chicago attorney said 10 men have come forward claiming they were molested by Father Smyth going back to the 1960s. No lawsuit has been filed. Rev. Smyth’s attorney told the Chicago Tribune in April the claims were bogus and based on a desire for a payout.

DCFS closes case, but doesn’t clear well-known priest

CHICAGO (IL)
WGN Chanhnel 9

June 18, 2019

By Ben Bradley

The Illinois Department of Children and Family Services has closed its investigation into sexual abuse claims against Rev. John Smyth, the well-known charismatic former leader of Maryville Academy in Des Plaines; but that’s not an exoneration.

A DCFS spokesperson told WGN Investigates that Smyth’s death in April means he can’t be considered a current threat to children, and therefore the agency has no reason to investigate.

“The investigation into Father Smyth was closed following his death,” said DCFS spokesman Jassen Strokosch. “Over the course of the investigation, Smyth no longer had access to children and did not meet the criteria for the Department to conclude the investigation as Indicated.”

DCFS would typically only investigate old claims of abuse to determine whether children are currently in danger. A source said investigators found no evidence of recent abuse by Smyth, who continued to live near Maryville Academy after his retirement. Following the allegations, the Archdiocese removed Smyth from ministry and said he could no longer live in the rectory at the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe while the claims were investigated.

Father Smyth led Maryville Academy in Des Plaines and Notre Dame College Prep high school in Niles prior to his retirement in 2014. Earlier this year, two men came forward and accused Smyth of molesting them when they were teenagers living at Maryville in the early-2000s. Des Plaines police reportedly found no credible evidence of abuse. However, a Chicago attorney said 10 men have come forward claiming they were molested by Father Smyth going back to the 1960s. No lawsuit has been filed. Rev. Smyth’s attorney told the Chicago Tribune in April the claims were bogus and based on a desire for a payout.

Pastor Arrested for Having Child Porn (with His Face Superimposed on the Images)

Friendly Atheist blog

June 18, 2019

By Hemant Mehta

68-year-old Stephen L. Dunn has had a lot of job titles during his 48 years in Christian ministry.

He has worked at a seminary, was a denominational president, and served as pastor at eight difference churches in Ohio, Indiana, and Pennsylvania. He was director of Bridgebuilders Ministries and designed a program to help churches convert their “unchurched neighbors.”

And he’s apparently also a guy who just got arrested for this:
During a search of Dunn’s home, investigators found 50 printed-out pictures in Dunn’s bedroom dresser drawer, according to court documents. These images had transposed images of Dunn’s face and what appears to be images of girls of varying ages transposed into bondage and other sado-masochistic scenarios.

An on-site forensic preview of the images found that 10 of the images found involved children, according to court documents.

Nothing to see here. Just another Christian pastor downloading child porn.

How did they even know to search his home?

MAKING CONNECTIONS: Affirming the bishops’ commitment

JEFFERSON CITY (MO)
Catholic Missourian

June 17, 2019

By Bishop W. Shawn McKnight

I am returning to our Diocese believing the bishops of the United States have done the right thing in their work this week to make us more accountable to the lay faithful and priests. We had a robust discussion regarding how to strengthen our response to Pope Francis’ document, “Vos Estis Lux Mundi,” which concerns how bishops and others responsible for the “right ordering” of our Church respond to allegations of abuse, including abuse of power and direct sexual abuse.

I was one of many bishops pressing for this reform simply because it is the Catholic thing to do:

In the preamble of “Vos Estis Lux Mundi,” the Holy Father addresses the attitude we bishops should have with regard to the exercise of power and authority of our apostolic office in light of the breach of trust. He does this by quoting “Lumen Gentium” no. 27. But we could also look to “Lumen Gentium” no. 37, in which the Council Fathers declare that the laity “by reason of the knowledge, competence or outstanding ability which they may enjoy are permitted and sometimes even obliged[emphasis added] to express their opinion on those things which concern the good of the Church.” Archbishop Christophe Pierre, in his opening remarks to the bishops on June 11, pointed out the Scriptural basis for consulting the whole Church as seen in the Acts of the Apostles. And, it is the Catholic thing to do, because, unlike most Protestant denominations who do not have a hierarchy as we do, it is all the more important to find a way to bring the laity into solving the mess we as bishops created. If we do not use both laity and hierarchy, we are forcing ourselves into a congregationalist mentality.

Lay involvement should be mandatory to make darn sure we bishops don’t do any more harm to the Church. It’s necessary to ensure victim survivors are cared for and are treated with the respect they deserve.

Lay involvement is necessary in the event an innocent bishop were to be falsely accused. It would build credibility in a process by which a finding of “not credible” is reached. We cannot rely on “trust the metropolitan.”

Finally, lay involvement is necessary to repair the broken relationship between the bishops and their priests. Ever since the 2002 Charter, many priests feel the failure to include bishops in the Charter was like throwing the priests under the bus. And now that we have experienced this horrible year of bad bishops, the laity, too, are rightly demanding that something must change.

Springfield Diocese Revamps Response To Clergy Sex Abuse

SPRINGFIELD (MA)
WAMC Radio

June 18, 2019

By Paul Tuthill

The Roman Catholic Diocese of Springfield has restructured the department responsible for overseeing clergy sex abuse allegations.

Springfield Bishop Mitchell Rozanski said the newly-named Office of Safe Environment and Victim Assistance will have a free hand to review practices and policies and conduct an independent examination of past cases to see if anything was overlooked or mishandled.

"Our goal is to deal compassionately and justly with those who come forward to us," said Rozanski.

Along with a new name for the former office of Child & Youth Protections come new people.

Jeffrey Trant, a licensed social worker and certified psychiatric rehabilitation practitioner, is the director of the new department. Li-Ling Lam-Waller has been hired as compliance officer. She previously worked in the finance office at the diocese.

The restructuring follows a series of meetings Rozanski held earlier this year in parishes throughout the four western Massachusetts counties in response to concerns about how the diocese handles clergy sex abuse allegations.

Man who rejected $650K priest abuse settlement calls offer 'insignificant'

BUFFALO (NY)
Buffalo News

June 18, 2019

By Jay Tokasz

A man offered $650,000 by the Catholic Diocese of Buffalo after he accused the Rev. Michael Freeman of sexually abusing him in the mid-1980s said he turned down the offer because “it just didn’t feel right.”

“That’s not going to help. It’s not going to change any policies. It’s not going to help any kids,” said James Bottlinger. “For what I went through, that was pretty insignificant.”

James Bottlinger, 50, spoke publicly for the first time Tuesday about the alleged abuse and the $650,000 offer, the largest settlement award in the diocese’s recently concluded $17.5 million program compensating childhood victims of clergy sex abuse.

“I was going to take this to the grave,” he said of the secret he kept for three decades.

Now Bottlinger said he intends to sue the diocese under the Child Victims Act, which gives plaintiffs a one-year window to file court claims in sex abuse cases that previously were time-barred by statutes of limitations.

“There needs to be a story behind that money," he said of rejecting the $650,000 offer. "I don’t want the church to determine here’s some money, go away. I’d like the trial to happen to see how much of the story we can get out. To get the church to come to the table and admit the wrongdoings.”

He said diocese officials, including former Bishop Donald Trautman, who served as the Buffalo Diocese's auxiliary bishop before being named bishop of the Erie Diocese in 1990, knew he was being molested by Freeman but did nothing to stop it. He said Trautman once saw him on a couch in Freeman's bedroom at the rectory of St. Mary of the Assumption Church in Lancaster, and did nothing.

"Monsignor Trautman knew Father Mike was a pedophile," he said. “He’s not the only monsignor that knew Father Mike was a pedophile.”

“The church purposely covered this up. There were victims before me," Bottlinger said.

He said Freeman was allowed to remain a priest - and abused other children - even after he told diocese officials about what Freeman did to him.

Bottlinger was 14 or 15 at the time of the abuses, which are alleged to have occurred while Freeman was associate pastor of St. Mary of the Assumption Church.

In his application last year to the diocese’s compensation program, Bottlinger said that Freeman pointed a gun at him and provided absolution of his sins following acts of abuse.

Bottlinger and attorneys Steve Boyd, Jeff Anderson and J. Michael Reck met with reporters Tuesday inside WNED-TV studios.

On protecting children, renewed commitment

LOS ANGELES (CA)
Angelus News

June 18, 2019

By Archbishop José H. Gomez

Last week I was in Baltimore to take part in the annual spring assembly of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.

It was an important meeting, and our four days together were dedicated almost entirely to the issue of how we as bishops should carry out our responsibilities in handling allegations of clergy sexual abuse against minors.

The scourge of abuse in the Church continues to be the bishops’ most urgent priority.

Here in Los Angeles and across the country, the Church has made enormous progress in these areas, perhaps far more than any other organization or institution in America.

In the last year alone, the Church nationwide trained nearly 4 million children and 2.6 million adults, in addition to conducting background checks on Church workers.

The nation’s dioceses have offices to receive claims of abuse and ensure that victim-survivors are treated with dignity and compassion and given the assistance and resources they need to find healing.

Lest We Forget the Victims: The Catholic Church’s Complicity in the Croatian, Argentine and Rwandan Atrocities

Open Tabernacle blog

June 18, 2019

By Betty Clermont

On June 2, Pope Francis completed his visit to a third Balkan country this year and the sixth in that region during his pontificate, but not Croatia. Since his election, the pope has also traveled to ten Latin American nations but not Argentina, and three in Africa but not Rwanda.

Nevertheless, the millions who were tortured and killed must not be forgotten.

CROATIA

During World War II, Jasenovac was the third largest concentration camp in Europe by number of victims. It was operated by the German-allied and Catholic Ustaša government “whose sadistic cruelty outdid Nazi tortures,” as noted by the Jasenovac and Holocaust Memorial Foundation.

The Holocaust Education and Research Team wrote about Jasnovac:

Here the most varied forms of torture were used. Finger and toe nails were pulled out with metal instruments, eyes were dug out with specially constructed hooks, people were blinded by having needles stuck in their eyes, flesh was cut and then salted.

People were also flayed, had their noses, ears and tongues cut off with wire cutters, and had awls stuck in their hearts. Daughters were raped in front of their mothers; sons were tortured in front of their fathers.

The prisoners had their throats cut by the Ustaša with specially designed knives, or they were killed with axes, mallets and hammers; they were also shot, or they were hung from trees or light poles. Some were burned alive in hot furnaces, boiled in cauldrons, or drowned in the River Sava.

“The acts of violence and depravity committed in Jasenovac were so brutal that General von Horstenau, Hitler’s representative in Zagreb, wrote: ‘The Ustaša camps in the NDH are the Epitome of horror!’” stated the Holocaust Research Project.

Editorial: Finally, churches renounce sexual abuse by their leaders

COLUMBUS (OH)
The Columbus Dispatch

June 18, 2019

Confession being good for the soul, it is a step in the right direction that both the Southern Baptist Convention and U.S. Catholic bishops met last week to deal with allegations of sex abuse within their ranks.

Both churches have announced measures to deal more effectively with abuse complaints going forward.

The Dispatch hopes their efforts help to put all clergy — as well as others in positions of trust with vulnerable populations — on notice that preying on innocent victims no longer will be tolerated or shielded from public view.

For too long, the repeated pattern in the Catholic Church — and, unfortunately, in other institutions — has been to put the well-being of the institution ahead of the well-being of abuse victims.

But both victims and the institutions have been further harmed by misplaced loyalties.

Another oft-repeated pattern is for the full accounting of misdeeds to be revealed by those outside the institutions and then followed by an inadequate institutional response.

In a number of high-profile cases across the country, it has been local newspapers that have brought into daylight widespread cases of abuse allegations being ignored or downplayed, sometimes leaving perpetrators free to harm others. ...

... Sadly, Columbus has not been immune from allegations of clergy abuse, and The Dispatch has helped to bring more of the picture into public view. Reporter Danae King analyzed assignment records of 40 priests that the Roman Catholic Diocese of Columbus says were credibly accused of sexually abusing minors in cases dating from 1992 and earlier.

The analysis showed that those priests had a high rate of reassignments and had served in more than two-thirds of the diocese’s 105 parishes. While Catholic priests generally are known to serve a parish about six years at a time, the 40 credibly accused priests averaged nine assignments in 32 years — spending about half the usual time in one place.

The Dispatch created a searchable online database noting where the credibly accused priests served and when, at dispatch.com/priestdatabase as part of ongoing coverage online at dispatch.com/catholicsecrecy.

We hope no new allegations arise as churches stand up to sexual abuse by their leaders.

Senate leadership threatens passage of childhood sexual abuse legislation

PROVIDENCE (RI)
Up Rise Rhode Island

June 18, 2019

By Steve Ahlquist

Representative Carol Hagan McEntee (Democrat, District 33, South Kingstown, Narragansett) and Senator Donna Nesselbush (Democrat, District 15, Pawtucket) have been working for years to pass bills that would extend or eliminate the statute of limitations for victims of childhood sexual abuse. “importantly, the legislators are advocating for legislation that will allow victims to bring lawsuits against both perpetrators and the institutions that protected them or allowed the abuse to occur.

Last year, shortly after the General Assembly closed for the year without passing such legislation, a grand jury in Pennsylvania released a staggering report on the extent of sexual abuse in the Catholic Church in six out of eight dioceses. Providence Bishop Thomas Tobin, whose lobbying efforts had quashed the bill here in Rhode Island, was the auxiliary bishop of Pittsburgh at that time. In the Providence Journal, Tobin said he was “aware of incidents of sexual abuse when they were reported to the diocese” but, “[e]ven as an auxiliary bishop, I was not primarily responsible for clergy issues.”

Suddenly, General Assembly leadership in both houses looked very, very foolish and shortsighted, promising that next year legislation would get their careful attention. This year the legislation seemed on its way to passage, but now that easy path to passage seems to have stalled. The House and the Senate have passed different versions of the bill. In order for legislation to actually become law, the same bill needs to pass both chambers.

More charges likely in Catholic sex-abuse investigation, attorney general says

GRAND RAPIDS (MI)
Grand Rapids Press

June 18, 2019

By Julie Mack

The state is continuing its investigation into sexual abuse by Catholic priests and more criminal charges are likely to be filed, Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel said.

“We’re continuing to review documents and information, including information we’ve received on our tip line,” Nessel said during a visit to Kalamazoo Monday. “I think we’ll be seeing some additional charges.”

She praised state lawmakers for their support of more funding for the investigation. “That’s very helpful,” she said, allowing her office to have more staff dedicated to the statewide investigation, which began in August 2018 under then-Attorney General Bill Schuette.

That investigation is looking into alleged sexual abuse by Catholic priests dating back to 1950 in Michigan’s seven Catholic dioceses, including cases that were possibly covered up by church leaders.

Last month, Nessel announced charges that five men who were priests in Michigan have been charged with 21 counts of criminal sexual conduct.

'Nightline' looks at how Specht's coverage of church scandal for WKBW-TV has challenged his faith

BUFFALO (NY)
Buffalo News

June 18, 2019

By Alan Pergament

Since last summer, WKBW-TV (Channel 7) investigative reporter Charlie Specht has been the most visible TV news leader covering the story of sexual abuse allegations in the Buffalo Diocese.

Now he is going to be a big part of a national TV program that is taking a deep dive into the church scandal here.

Specht’s award-winning work with photojournalist Jeff Wick will be highlighted in an upcoming edition of ABC’s “Nightline,” which is carried by Channel 7 at 12:35 a.m. weekdays.

ABC hasn’t given the program an air date, but it is expected to run before the end of the month.

In a telephone interview, Specht said he called a “Nightline” staffer to suggest the program look into the controversy in the Catholic Church here and expected that to be the focus. But after the program did some interviews, including one with Bishop Richard J. Malone, it decided to also highlight the personal story of Specht, a Catholic who has a younger brother, Mike, studying to become a priest.

“I went from pointing them in the right direction with my reports to now becoming one of the subjects,” said Specht, a former Buffalo News reporter. “They changed the focus. They were genuinely interested in the controversy in Buffalo.”

Abuse Charges Against Maryville’s Father Smyth ‘Unfounded’: DCFS

CHICAGO (IL)
Journal & Topics

June 17, 2019

By Todd Wessell

Charges by two men that former Maryville Academy Executive Director and Notre Dame High School President Father John Smyth sexually abused them while they were 12 and 13-years-old, have been determined to be “unfounded,” according to the Illinois Department of Children & Family Services (DCFS). “The case is now closed,” said a DCFS spokesperson when contacted by the Journal & Topics Media Group on Monday.

The Chicago Catholic Archdiocese announced in mid-January that Cardinal Blase Cupich had asked Father Smyth to step aside from his ministry after the church had received allegations that the Catholic priest had sexually molested two teens around 2002 and 2003. The alleged abuse was done at a Maryville facility in Des Plaines.

An investigation launched by the Archdiocese at that time was halted when the DCFS began its own probe in late January.

Smyth, Maryville’s assistant executive director and then its executive director, was associated with the institution that housed and cared for youths, died in mid-January at age 84. He was also founder of the Our Lady of Guadalupe Shrine located on the Maryville grounds, and the Standing Tall Foundation that also helps youths.

When the charges of sexual abuse surfaced, hundreds of Smyth’s friends, including many alumni of Maryville, rushed to his aid saying the accusations are wrong and outrageous.

The spokesperson for the DCFS said the agency’s policy is not to comment further on the investigation.

OPINION: MICHIGAN AG SHOULD CONSIDER CORPORATE SENTENCING IN CATHOLIC CHURCH INVESTIGATION

LIVONIA (MI)
Veracity News

June 10, 2019

In the United States, the Catholic Church operates as a 501c(3) corporation. As such, sexual abuse perpetrated by priests and employees under its control can be legally attributed to the corporation.

The United States Sentencing Commission says corporations can be found guilty of crimes and tortuous acts in a court of law.

According to an overview of the organizational guidelines, criminal liability can attach to an organization “whenever an employee of the organization commits an act within the apparent scope of his or her employment, even if the employee acted directly contrary to company policy and instructions.”

It continues by saying “an entire organization, despite its best efforts to prevent wrongdoing in its ranks, can still be held criminally liable for any of its employees’ illegal actions.”

Intent is not needed to convict a corporation of a crime and the Catholic Church would not be able to remain silent behind fifth amendment protections.

If indicted and brought to trial, the Church would need to produce all policies, procedures, protections and actions that the Church and its employees have taken to prevent failures, both past and present.

This might include the repeated sexual abuse of children and adults as well as continued prohibited financial transactions.

If convicted, the courts would require the Catholic Church to change how she prevents organizational crime, to compensate victims, or face total asset forfeiture.

This tactic has been successfully used before in Minnesota.

SNAP members express concerns about Owensboro Bishop

OWENSBORO (KY)
WFIE TV

June 17, 2019

By Joseph Payton and Jill Lyman

Friday, a Bowling Green man and two members of the SNAP organization were in Owensboro to shed light on an issue they have with Bishop William Medley.

Michael Montgomery says he has court documents and memos (unverified by 14 News) that show Bishop Medley may have covered up sexual abuse.

He says these documents refer back to the early 90′s when Medley was the Director of Clergy Personnel in the Archdiocese of Louisville.

Montgomery says Medley assisted in moving priests to different parishes who had sexual abuse allegations made against them.

Montgomery says he has been working to get answers that could prove or disprove these documents, but has not received any clarification.

“Remember the Pope has asked for transparency. The Pope has asked for accountability. As a layperson, I am doing what I think is right,” said Montgomery.

Montgomery and the advocates from SNAP also believe the list of priests with sexual allegations that Bishop Released earlier this year is incomplete.

We reached out to the Owensboro Diocese on Friday. We received a statement late Monday afternoon.

“Bishop William F. Medley has previously met with Mr. Montgomery and is aware of the concerns raised regarding his position as clergy personnel director from 1989-1993 in the Archdiocese of Louisville. At this time Bishop Medley has not received any directives from the Papal Nuncio in regards to this matter. At last week’s meeting of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), the bishops adopted new protocols for reporting concerns such as these. Bishop Medley awaits further direction.”

More than 20 Allegedly Abusive Priests were in Oregon

ST. LOUIS (MO)
Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests

June 14, 2019

A Catholic religious order has released names of 50 credibly accused child molesting clerics and 21 of them worked or lived in Oregon. Now that same order must update their list to include full work histories and whereabouts of the accused.

Information quietly posted last Friday on the Oakland CA, based Franciscan website shows that twelve of these clerics were in Portland, eight were in Salem, four were in Tigard, and two were in Troutdale.

For 13 of 17 years (1958-1975), at least one predatory cleric assigned to Ascension parish in Portland, and five of those years had two abusers working there simultaneously.

For 12 of 15 years (1955-1969), at least one credibly accused child molesting cleric worked at Serra Catholic High School in Salem.

Now, the Franciscans and Oregon’s bishops must do more to show that they are living up to their promise to be open and honest. Why, for example, do they decline to list the complete work-histories of these credibly accused priests, and especially when it comes to men like Gus Krumm, a particularly prolific abuser? Franciscan officials should remedy this situation immediately by including every parish each of these men worked at so that each community knows to look more deeply for survivors who may be suffering in silence in their midst.

A list of the accused clerics and their whereabouts are below:

Epstein Victims Asked to Remedy Non Prosecution Agreement

ST. LOUIS (MO)
Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests

June 6, 2019

Victims of a predatory billionaire are being asked their views on how to remedy an unprecedented, insensitive and reckless non-prosecution agreement (NPA), which “was concealed from the victims and their counsel and violated the law.” We applaud this move and agree with attorney Sigrid McCawley who calls this remedial effort “a watershed for victims’ rights.”

In 2007, a secretive deal was struck between Jeffrey Epstein and former federal prosecutor Alexander Acosta, letting Epstein to plead guilty to a pair of minor state charges. We share the view of the Epstein victims who reportedly want:

--the government to open the record, making public the entire federal case file, including external communications and internal discussions within the prosecutor’s office on Epstein,
--Acosta to “step down” as US Secretary of Labor,
--“a public hearing with mandatory attendance by Acosta and Epstein” and
--the immunity provisions that ultimately protected Epstein and his co-conspirators—who allegedly recruited and even abused the victims themselves—from federal charges” revoked.

Leeds Catholic priest voluntarily withdraws from parish on temporary basis over safeguarding procedure

LEEDS (ENGLAND)
Yorkshire Evening Post

June 18, 2019

A Catholic priest has "voluntarily withdrawn" from service temporarily amid a "safeguarding procedure", the Bishop of Leeds has confirmed.

The Reverend Fr Patrick Smythe, who has conducted services in the Our Lady of Kirkstall parish since 2006, has been referred to authorities, said the Diocese of Leeds.

In a statement delivered at the end of masses during the weekend, the Right Reverend Marcus Stock, Bishop of Leeds, told parishioners: "In accordance with the safeguarding procedures adopted by the Catholic Church in England and Wales, Fr Patrick Smythe, parish priest of Our Lady of Kirkstall parish, Leeds, has voluntarily withdrawn from ministry temporarily following a referral to the statutory authorities.

"Temporary withdrawal from ministry is a procedural requirement and does not imply any prior determination of the outcome of the referral.

Another Diocese of Fresno priest accused of sexual abuse

FRESNO (CA)
Fresno Bee

June 17, 2019

By Yesenia Amaro

A Catholic priest currently working in Reedley was accused Monday of sexual misconduct involving four alleged victims dating back to at least the mid-1980s in Bakersfield.

The allegations were launched Monday during a news conference in Bakersfield.

Sylvia Gomez Ray claimed Monsignor John Esquivel, who is a priest at St. Anthony of Padua Catholic Church in Reedley, allegedly sexually assaulted her when she was a teenage girl.

The allegations come on the heels of other priests recently being placed on administrative leave.

Teresa Dominguez, chancellor at the Diocese of Fresno, confirmed Esquivel works at St. Anthony of Padua.

Esquivel couldn’t immediately be reached for comment Monday.

Joey Piscitelli, with SNAP in Northern California, which organized the news conference, said they filed a complaint with the state Attorney General’s Office recently linking Esquivel with at least four alleged victims. Ray was the only alleged victim to speak out Monday.

Esquivel has not been accused of wrongdoing by law enforcement.

Ray, now 52, told reporters Esquivel began “grooming” her in the mid-1980s after she joined a youth group at St. Joseph’s in Bakersfield. She said she was abused after she became a church secretary when she was around 17 or 18 years old. She said she reported the abuse to multiple adults but said nobody believed her.

“I buried what happened but I never forgot,” her statement reads. “When another of Monsignor’s victims contacted me with her own story, we decided it was time to come forward.”

Joseph C. George, an attorney representing Ray, said he made a report to the California Attorney General’s Office within the last 10 days about the latest allegations. He said the news conference “was an opportunity for the victim to speak directly to any other potential victims.”

“Sylvia hopes that the diocese will certainly look into the allegations,” George said on Monday.

Former Westland, Canton priest accused of sexual abuse to appear in court

CANTON (MI)
Canton Observer

June 18, 2019

By Susan Vela

Patrick Casey, a former priest in Canton and Westland, returns to court on Thursday because of apparent sexual conduct during another man’s confession.

A preliminary examination is scheduled to begin at 8:30 a.m. in 18th District Court.

Casey, 55, faces a felony charge of third-degree criminal sexual conduct. According to an affidavit, he engaged in sexual acts, including oral sex, with a man in his 20s whom he was counseling during confession at the now-closed church.

Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel named Casey as one of five men once priests charged with 21 counts of criminal sexual conduct in May. He faces 15 years in prison if convicted.

According to an affidavit, Case became an ordained priest in 1997. He served as pastor of the St Thomas a’Becket Catholic parish in Canton before moving to St. Theodore of Canterbury in Westland in August 2012.

Archbishop's dismay as Keith O'Brien 'crisis' engulfed church

GLASGOW (SCOTLAND)
STV News

June 18, 2019

Bernard Ponsonby

The Archbishop of St Andrews and Edinburgh has spoken candidly about the lurid revelations that led to the resignation of his predecessor Cardinal Keith O'Brien.

O'Brien resigned in 2013 after allegations of inappropriate and predatory sexual behaviour towards four men, three of whom were serving priests.

Leo Cushley, a former Vatican diplomat, said he watched with great dismay from Rome as the crisis surrounding O'Brien engulfed the Scottish catholic hierarchy.

Archbishop Cushley described the crisis as one of the greatest for the church in Scotland since the Reformation.

He told STV: "Some thought he had been traduced and he had been maltreated. Others said 'it's a disgrace and I'll never be back'."

Shortly after succeeding O'Brien, Archbishop Cushley spoke with the Pope about the crisis, agreeing that Archbishop Charles Scicluna prepare a report for the Vatican.

Cushley told STV: "Some of his (O'Brien's) rights were taken from him as a result of this process.

'Big step': Johnstown's Dougherty says he will meet with Cardinal DiNardo about abuse

JOHNSTOWN (PA)
Tribune Democrat

June 11, 2019

By Dave Sutor

Johnstown-area native Shaun Dougherty, once again, is scheduled to meet with one of the highest officials in the Roman Catholic Church to share his thoughts about the issue of clergy sexual abuse.

He expects to talk with Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, on Wednesday in Baltimore.

In February, Dougherty, a Westmont resident and internationally known advocate for victims, met with organizers of “The Protection of Minors in the Church” gathering held at Vatican City, where he also unsuccessfully tried to get an audience with Pope Francis.

“Just like I wanted to speak to the pope when I was in Rome, as the head of the church, the next best thing, in my opinion, is the head of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops,” Dougherty said. “What they decide will be directly related to what’s going on in our country. To have the ear of the president of that organization, yeah, I think it’s a big step.”

A request for a comment from DiNardo was made to the media department of his Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston.

No statement about his scheduled meeting with Dougherty was provided.

Analysis: How will the USCCB vote in first elections since McCarrick scandal?

DENVER (CO)
Catholic News Agency

June 17, 2019

While the spring meeting of the U.S. bishops’ conference has only just concluded, some bishops are already looking to the election of new conference officers at their November meeting. While the elections are still five months away, bishops are already discussing their options - particularly in light of the scandal the Church in the U.S. has faced in the last year.

It is widely expected that Archbishop Jose Gomez of Los Angeles, the bishops’ conference vice president, will be elected to succeed Cardinal Daniel DiNardo as conference president. Gomez has several factors working in his favor. Most notably is the sheer force of custom: With only one recent exception, the conference vice president has been elected president as a matter of course. That Gomez has served in the second slot for the last three years is likely sufficient by itself for him to secure the votes of most bishops.

Within the conference, Gomez is perceived to cut across traditional ideological and social lines. He was ordained a priest of Opus Dei, and he has a long history of leadership on pro-life and marriage issues. But, an immigrant himself, he is also among the most outspoken advocates for the conference’s call for just immigration reform and advocacy for the poor. He is, in short, difficult to pigeonhole into a partisan camp, and at a time when the Church is increasingly segmented by politics, many bishops see that as an important advantage.

Some bishops have also mentioned to CNA the symbolic significance of electing a Hispanic archbishop, a Mexican-American immigrant, in advance of the 2020 U.S. presidential election. While the bishops have a working relationship with the Trump administration on issues pertaining to abortion, marriage, and religious liberty, they remain strongly opposed to the president’s immigration policies, and if Trump wins a second term, they will likely be at odds with him over that issue throughout. Gomez is seen to be the right voice to lead advocacy on behalf of their immigration agenda.

Our view: Southern Baptists up front about abuse

WINSTON SALEM (NC)
Winston Salem Journal

June 18, 2019

Southern Baptists said many of the right things about sexual abuse during their recent Convention, but they didn’t take enough of the right actions.

The Southern Baptist Convention, the largest assembly of Baptists in the world, has been shaken by reports of sexual abuse on the part of clergy and church volunteers. Last year, a woman went public with allegations that her church’s youth pastor sexually assaulted her when she was 17.

Then, earlier this year, two Texas newspapers published detailed accounts of abuse involving 380 church leaders and volunteers and more than 700 victims, over 20 years.

Southern Baptists are facing the same challenge that the Catholic Church, the Boy Scouts and other groups have confronted: What should they do to atone for years of sexual abuse and, possibly, cover-ups of that abuse? And, even more important, what should they do to keep it from happening again?

How much corruption can we tolerate in the church before we leave?

KANSAS CITY (MO)
National Catholic Reporter

June 18, 2019

By Donald Cozzens

"In the course of half a century," the weathered scholar wrote in Tell the Next Generation, "I have seen more Catholic corruption than you have read of. I have tasted it. I have been reasonably corrupt myself. And yet I joy in this Church — this living, pulsing, sinning people of God."

Carroll admits to an ocean of grief from the corruption now painfully evident in the church, not the church understood as the people of God, but the hierarchical church. His grief is oceans away from what we might term reasonable, from the mostly petty corruptions of people like Burghardt and the rest of us. The corruption that so saddens Carroll is mortally grave because, as he sees it, the toxic clericalism at its roots has over centuries embedded itself in the very structure, the very bones, of the hierarchical, institutional church. As such, he no longer looks for reform from church leaders found to be at the very center of the corruption.

I met Carroll over 50 years ago when we were both young priests. We are friends who view the dark side of the church and priesthood through the same lens. I've been nourished by his poetry and novels, informed by his historical works, challenged by his commentaries as a columnist and essayist, and moved by his memoir, An American Requiem. Carroll has named for me what continues to unsettle my soul — the superior status and lofty identity the church claims for its priests, cultivated and sustained by clerical celibacy and the withholding of meaningful leadership roles from the laity, especially women. But beyond touching into my personal struggle to find some semblance of integrity in a morally and structurally flawed church, Carroll's analysis of its present dark night of scandal is painfully incisive and compelling.

Immediately after the publication of his Atlantic essay, however, his prescription — or treatment plan — for the reform and renewal of his diseased and corrupted church drew fire, both from conservative and progressive Catholics. Carroll, I suspect, may simply be a step ahead of us.

How much corruption can we tolerate in the church before we leave?

KANSAS CITY (MO)
National Catholic Reporter

June 18, 2019

By Donald Cozzens

"In the course of half a century," the weathered scholar wrote in Tell the Next Generation, "I have seen more Catholic corruption than you have read of. I have tasted it. I have been reasonably corrupt myself. And yet I joy in this Church — this living, pulsing, sinning people of God."

Carroll admits to an ocean of grief from the corruption now painfully evident in the church, not the church understood as the people of God, but the hierarchical church. His grief is oceans away from what we might term reasonable, from the mostly petty corruptions of people like Burghardt and the rest of us. The corruption that so saddens Carroll is mortally grave because, as he sees it, the toxic clericalism at its roots has over centuries embedded itself in the very structure, the very bones, of the hierarchical, institutional church. As such, he no longer looks for reform from church leaders found to be at the very center of the corruption.

I met Carroll over 50 years ago when we were both young priests. We are friends who view the dark side of the church and priesthood through the same lens. I've been nourished by his poetry and novels, informed by his historical works, challenged by his commentaries as a columnist and essayist, and moved by his memoir, An American Requiem. Carroll has named for me what continues to unsettle my soul — the superior status and lofty identity the church claims for its priests, cultivated and sustained by clerical celibacy and the withholding of meaningful leadership roles from the laity, especially women. But beyond touching into my personal struggle to find some semblance of integrity in a morally and structurally flawed church, Carroll's analysis of its present dark night of scandal is painfully incisive and compelling.

Immediately after the publication of his Atlantic essay, however, his prescription — or treatment plan — for the reform and renewal of his diseased and corrupted church drew fire, both from conservative and progressive Catholics. Carroll, I suspect, may simply be a step ahead of us.

Medley accused of covering up priests’ child abuse

OWENSBORO (KY)
Owensboro Messenger

June 17, 2019

By Katie Pickens

The Survivors Network of Victims Abused by Priests (SNAP) have filed a formal complaint against Diocese of Owensboro Bishop William Medley, arguing that he covered up abuse of the diocese’s children by reassigning priests with credible allegations.

The Survivors Network of Victims Abused by Priests (SNAP) held a press conference in Owensboro on Friday to reveal the details of a formal complaint against Diocese of Owensboro Bishop William Medley. The 10-page complaint argues Medley covered up the abuse of children by assigning at least one priest with credible allegations of sexual abuse to a parish where children were expected to be less present.

The complaint was filed by Bowling Green native Michael Montgomery — a lifelong Catholic — and will be presented to Kentucky’s highest-ranking Catholic official, Louisville Archbishop Joseph Kurtz. The complaint will also be presented to one of Pope Francis’s top U.S. officials. These alleged actions occurred when Medley was serving as the personal director for the Diocese of Louisville during the 1990s.

Montgomery’s filed complaint reveals a memo written by Medley, detailing a Louisville priest that was reassigned to a Catholic parish with fewer children given the priest’s “history” and subsequent six-month therapy.

Former Missouri-based SNAP Director and spokesman David Clohessy said Friday’s formal complaint is extremely rare.

“Very, very few of these are turned in,” he said. “Sadly, the overwhelming majority of Catholics don’t speak up against this issue. The inaction of most Catholics has been distressing. However, things are beginning to change. The overwhelming majority of Montgomery’s complaint comes directly from the official church records from court, and from Medley’s records.”

Deadline arrives for clergy abuse claims in New Mexico

ALBUQUERQUE (NM)
Associated Press

June 18, 2019

By Susan Montoya Bryan

Monday marked the deadline for filing claims against New Mexico’s largest Catholic diocese as it wades through a bankruptcy prompted by the clergy sex abuse scandal.

Lawyers for hundreds of people who are submitting claims are hopeful the case will shed more light on a scandal that has rocked parishes across the globe.

The case against the Archdiocese of Santa Fe is about more than reparations, said Levi Monagle, an attorney with an Albuquerque-based law firm that has represented hundreds of clients in a state that was once home to a treatment center where church authorities sent priests accused of abuse.

As much as they are looking for peace, Monagle said his clients want more transparency and accountability from the church.

“This crisis has devastated our state, and it has left open wounds in our state,” he said in an interview. “There has to be a serious and diligent effort on behalf of the archdiocese to begin rebuilding trust with the communities of New Mexico, and my hope is this process will be an avenue for that.”

The Archdiocese of Santa Fe shocked parishioners across much of New Mexico when it filed for Chapter 11 reorganization last year, joining nearly two dozen dioceses around the United States that have been struggling with the fallout from the abuse scandal.

Archbishop John Wester has said it was the equitable thing to do as church reserves dwindled. The archdiocese says $52 million in insurance money and its own funds have gone to settling 300 claims over the years.

There are expected to be around 300 claims filed as part of the bankruptcy case, with nearly all of those relating to allegations of abuse. Officials expect to release the total later this week.

The claim forms , which include numerous questions, will be sealed and remain confidential unless the person filing it indicates otherwise.

Just days ahead of the deadline, Wester put out a request for prayers, acknowledging the need for emotional and spiritual healing.

The archdiocese said in a statement Friday that it wanted to assure people of its desire and efforts to make sure that such crimes never happen again.

June 17, 2019

Bishop Mitchell Rozanski to hold news conference on clergy sex abuse

SPRINGFIELD (MA)
WWLP TV

June 18, 2019

By Taylor Knight

The Roman Catholic Diocese of Springfield is continuing its efforts to become more transparent in regards to clergy sexual abuse. Bishop Mitchell Rozanski is scheduled to hold a news conference on the subject Tuesday afternoon.

The bishop’s news conference will discuss his formal introduction of the new “Safe Environment and Victim Assistance Office.” According to Diocesan spokesperson Mark Dupont, the announcement comes just days before Rozanski is set to meet with a man who has accused the late Bishop Christopher Weldon of sexual abuse.

Former priest arrested in Italy extradited to Arizona, formally arraigned

WASHINGTON (DC)
Catholic News Service

June 17, 2019

Joseph J. Henn, a former U.S. Salvatorian priest who was extradited from Italy to face charges of child sex abuse in Arizona, is seen in a June 14, 2019, police photo. Italian police arrested Henn May 28 after Italy’s highest court confirmed his extradition to the United States to face allegations of child sexual abuse in Arizona. CNS photo/ Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office via Reuters

Henn, now 70, was accused of molesting at least three boys under the age of 15 between 1979 and 1981 when he was living and working in Phoenix. He served at St. Mark Parish in Phoenix from 1978 to 1982 as a Salvatorian priest.

In 2003, Arizona’s Maricopa County indicted him on 13 counts related to child molestation. He fled to Italy, where he was arrested in 2005. That country’s highest court confirmed his extradition to the United States to stand trial, but he disappeared before he could be extradited. Henn was expelled from his order and removed from the priesthood in 2006.

In late May, Michele Gentiloni, Henn’s attorney, said his client was taken into custody after trying to use his expired U.S. passport as identification to pick up some medicine he needed. A spokesman for the Carabinieri, the Italian police force that apprehended Henn, disputed that version of events, claiming instead that the priest had requested assistance at a city-run immigrant assistance center using a false name.

In a May 31 statement about Henn’s arrest, the Diocese of Phoenix said it was pleased he had been apprehended. The diocese also said it supported the efforts of the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office to extradite Henn and return him to the United States “to face the criminal charges against him.”

Former Albright College student withdraws suit claiming defrocked priest harassed, threatened her

ALLENTOWN (PA)
Morning Call

June 17, 2019

By Peter Hall

A former Albright College student has dismissed her lawsuit claiming she was harassed and stalked by a defrocked Roman Catholic priest who taught at the Berks County school, court records show.

Rachel Youse filed the lawsuit in federal court in January seeking more than $100,000 in damages, claiming she suffered psychological trauma and was forced to withdraw from classes as a result of harassment and threats by former priest James Gaffney, one of more than 300 Pennsylvania clergy members named in a report on sexual abuse in the Catholic Church.

Youse’s attorney Joseph Bambrick said Monday that he could confirm only that the case is over. A spokeswoman for Albright also said the matter has been resolved, but did not provide details. An attorney for Gaffney did not return a call Monday.

Youse alleged Gaffney made lewd and suggestive comments, including requests to meet her off campus at a building he owned, according to the lawsuit. Gaffney allegedly threatened Youse, who was enrolled in Gaffney’s English class, by reminding her he controlled her grades and allegedly made inappropriate advances that constituted serious misconduct.

Bambrick said when the suit was filed that there was no physical contact between Youse and Gaffney.

The lawsuit claimed that Youse and her lawyer asked to speak with Albright’s dean about the harassment and that he refused to meet with them. Youse also alleged another faculty member told her to be quiet about the teacher’s alleged misconduct because her claims would not be good for the college’s reputation and that the college refused the student’s request to pay for counseling.

The report on sexual abuse by Catholic clergy, released in August by the Pennsylvania attorney general’s office, describes accusations that Gaffney engaged in improper and sexual relationships with women through the 1980s and 1990s. He was twice placed on sick leave at the Servants of The Paraclete, a New Mexico treatment center for priests, according to the report.

The report details accusations by women who told Allentown Diocese officials that Gaffney had sexual contact with them as teenagers when he was assigned to St. Ursula's Church in Fountain Hill, Reading Central Catholic High School and St. Catherine of Siena in Mount Penn, Berks County. The woman who accused Gaffney of abusing her at Reading Central Catholic filed a civil lawsuit against the diocese in 2004, but it was dismissed because it was filed too long after the alleged misconduct.

Regnum Christi Movement, Legion of Christ revamped

PARIS (FRANCE)
LaCroix International

June 17, 2019

By Céline Hoyeau 

The Holy See has approved new statutes for the Regnum Christi Movement in the wake of the sexual abuse scandal centered on its late Mexican founder, Marcial Maciel Degollado.

This movement brings together priests from the Legionaries of Christ, which was also established by Marcial Maciel, as well as consecrated and lay people from the community.
New statutes covering the Regnum Christi approved by the Holy See are scheduled to come into force on September 15 for a trial period of five years.

It was not until Marcial Maciel was elderly that it was revealed that he had sexually abused boys and young men.

After his death in 2008, it emerged that he also fathered as many as six children and there were allegations that he abused two of these children as well.

After a decade leading St. Louis Catholics, Archbishop Robert Carlson prepares to step down

ST. LOUIS (MO)
St. Louis Post-Dispatch

By Jesse Bogan, Nassim Benchaabane and Erin Heffernan

June 16, 2019

SHREWSBURY — On the bad days, when St. Louis Archbishop Robert Carlson wished he was doing something else, his mind drifted to the thought of raising golden retrievers for a living.

“Dogs don’t talk back,” he said.

The four dogs he showed up with here in 2009 have since died. Now, he has a Missouri dog, Maggie, who will follow him into retirement.

“I don’t want to go to committee meetings,” he said.

Carlson, leader of the largest faith group in the region, must submit a resignation letter to Pope Francis on June 30. He’s turning 75, mandatory retirement age for the powerful position.

MESSAGE FROM ARCHBISHOP DENNIS M. SCHNURR

CINCINNATI (OH)
The Catholic Telegraph

June 17, 2019

By Archbishop Dennis M. Schnurr

Dear Friends in Christ,

Over the last several months, many of us have been outraged and horrified by revelations of sexual abuse and cover-ups of such abuse perpetrated by some bishops in our country. This past week, I, along with the other bishops of our nation, gathered in Baltimore for the spring general assembly of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB). The very important work of debating and voting on measures to eradicate the grave evil of sexual abuse from our Church, which we had planned to accomplish last fall at the plenary assembly, was finally able to be addressed. With the release of Pope Francis’ apostolic letter Vos estis lux mundi in May, we were ready at this assembly to take concrete steps forward and implement important procedures for accountability throughout the hierarchy of the Church in the United States.

At this most recent meeting, the bishops of our country approved three documents related to reporting and investigating claims of abuse or the intentional mishandling of such cases by bishops. These newly approved directives establish the following:

• Protocols to deal with bishops who were removed from office or resigned their office for reasons of sexual abuse or intentional mishandling of cases.

• Reaffirmation of the commitment bishops make to live according to the Gospel and to place themselves under the same high standards applied to their priests, deacons and lay personnel.

• Direction for dealing specifically with reporting and investigating complaints against bishops.

The bishops also approved the creation of a third-party reporting system designed to receive confidentially reports of sexual abuse or the intentional mishandling of abuse cases committed by bishops. The independence of such a system is meant to help prevent any member of the hierarchy from interfering in the investigation of alleged misconduct. Please see the attached press release from the USCCB for more information regarding this third-party reporting system. Currently in the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, we have a reporting system already in place to handle abuse and misconduct allegations of all types, EthicsPoint. To make a report call, 1-888-389-0381.

These steps implemented by the USCCB are important in our response to the sin and crime of sexual abuse, but they are not the end. Until the scourge of sexual abuse is completely eradicated from the life of the Church, we will still have work to do. As members of the Church, we are all called to lives of holiness and meant to become saints in God’s Kingdom. There is absolutely no place in the Church for toleration of any kind of sexual abuse, especially committed against people who are particularly vulnerable for reasons of age, ability, or status. As your bishop, I promise to continue to do everything in my power to ensure a safe environment for all people – children and adults – involved with any of our various ministries.

I ask you to join me in praying for all the victims of sexual abuse and for a renewed commitment on the part of all of us to follow Christ more closely, so that the Church may once again shine out as a light to the nations by the witness of her holiness.

Sincerely yours in Christ,
Most Reverend Dennis M. Schnurr
Archbishop of Cincinnati

Two Buffalo Priests Reassigned Despite Allegations of Sexual Misconduct

ST. LOUIS (MO)
Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests

June 17, 2019

Two priests in the Diocese of Buffalo who had previously been removed from ministry for “unwanted sexual advances” towards adult parishioners have been reassigned, leading to outrage from area parishioners.

The simple question is, why take the risk? If these men have violated their sacred vow of celibacy and crossed personal boundaries in the past, how do we know that they will not do it again or with a more impressionable or pliable victim?

An internal diocesan review apparently determined that Frs. Gatto and Giangreco were suitable to return to ministry. But did that ministry need to be at a parish with a school? Are there not other diocesan tasks that would have better suited a person with a history of sexual misconduct? Surely there were more appropriate assignments?

We understand the confusion of parents in Buffalo and empathize with them. Hopefully their outcries in this case will lead to a change in how Church officials evaluate placement for clergy when their “improper conduct did not rise to the level that would require removal from active priestly ministry,” and will force them to be more thoughtful about these cases in the future.

Woman accuses active Catholic priest of sexual abuse years ago at Bakersfield's St. Joseph Church

BAKERSFIELD (CA)
The Californian

June 17, 2019

By John Cox

A woman spoke out publicly Monday accusing the Rev. John Esquivel, a former priest at St. Joseph Catholic Church, of sexually abusing her when she worked at the church as a secretary during the mid-1980s.

Silvia Gomez Ray, now 52, said at a news conference in front of the church that she was 17 or 18 years old when she was groped and verbally abused by Monsignor Esquivel, who now works as a priest at St. Anthony of Padua Catholic Church in Reedley.

A representative of Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, which advocates for victims of abuse within the Roman Catholic Church, said he has been contacted by three others who allege they were sexually abused by Esquivel, and that two of the accusers were 16 at the time. The representative, Joey Piscitelli, said he has filed allegations on their behalf with the state Attorney General, as well as with police in Bakersfield and Reedley.

Esquivel and a representative of the the Roman Catholic Diocese of Fresno, which oversees St. Joseph and St. Anthony of Padua, did not immediately respond to a request for comment Monday morning.

Diocese of Greensburg Hides Second Accusation Against Msgr. Michael Matusak

ST. LOUIS (MO)
Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests

June 17, 2019

A Pennsylvania bishop has reportedly kept hidden a second abuse report against one of his priests. We call on the prelate to learn from this serious mistake, and to aggressively seek out other victims who may still be suffering in shame and self-blame.

Greensburg Bishop Edward Malesic apparently did not tell parishioners, parents and the public that Monsignor Michael Matusak - who has already been removed from ministry because of one accusation - is now facing a second.

Why does this matter?

First, in the eyes of many, the difference between one accusation and two accusations is considerable. It is more likely that people would trust a cleric who faces one allegation than one who faces two, so for the safety of the vulnerable all allegations should be made public.

Second, this information could be helpful to police and prosecutors. The more information that law enforcement has about a case, the greater the probability of successfully charging, convicting and jailing those who commit or conceal these crimes.

We note that in this case the Diocese reportedly contacted the civil authorities “immediately” after receiving the second allegation. However, Church officials could have done more to help with the investigation by also making that accusation public, and by begging anyone with information to come forward.

Third, it is important for the well-being and healing of this second accuser. We can only imagine the pain that must be felt by a survivor when they see their allegation ignored publicly, but it must seem as though that person and their suffering do not matter at all to Church officials.

Finally, it is important for the credibility of Catholic Church. On the heels of yet another week of “reform” by American bishops, stories like this help illustrate how far the hierarchy still has to go in responding properly to cases of abuse. If prelates want to avoid undercutting their own credibility and that of their colleagues, they must learn from situations like this and learn quickly.

We hope every person who may have seen, suspected or suffered crimes or cover ups in the Greensburg diocese - whether by Msgr. Matusak or any other church official - will come forward, make a report to police, and start healing.

Churches ask congregants to “sign away” their legal rights

ST. LOUIS (MO)
Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests

June 17, 2019

Church members are prohibited from suing church officials, according to contracts that some large Protestant churches are asking congregants to sign. These contracts – often called ‘covenants’ – are dangerous documents that will make it even harder to expose church staff who commit or conceal crimes like sexual abuse.

Major evangelical churches in Dallas, Minneapolis and Washington, D.C. – and likely elsewhere - apparently urge new members to sign away their legal rights when they join up. We hope, as information on these contracts becomes more widely available to the public, that no parishioner will sign one of these these pro-secrecy contracts and that any church considering their use will decline to pursue this idea.

The New York Times last week reported on The Village Church in Texas using these stunning contracts.

According to VICE News, it’s “difficult to estimate just how ubiquitous these documents were in the American evangelical world, which according to Pew includes roughly a quarter of the population and nearly a fifth of millennials.” But according to the Wartburg Watch, it is happening in other places, too.

Papal ambassadors admonished for bad-mouthing Pope Francis

Patheos blog

June 16, 2019

By Barry Duke

THE Pope believes that some of his ambassadors (nuncios) are stabbing him in the back – and he wants them to stop immediately.

According to this report, he addressed more than 100 nuncios in on Thursday, reminding them that they have a responsibility as papal representatives not to criticise him or to join groups hostile to the Roman curia.

It is therefore irreconcilable to be a pontifical representative criticizing the Pope behind his back, having blogs or even joining groups hostile to him, to the curia and to the Church of Rome.

Pope Francis said that he desired to share some simple precepts to help the papal diplomats live out their mission, referring to a 4,000 word document which is a “Ten Commandments” of sorts for nuncios and their co-workers throughout the world.

One of the ten precepts outlined in the document is titled, “The Nuncio is a man of the Pope.” The section states that:

Certainly every person could have reservations, likes and dislikes, but a good nuncio cannot be hypocritical.

The Mormon Church Has Been Accused of Using a Victims' Hotline to Hide Claims of Sexual Abuse

NEW YORK (NY)
VICE News

May 3, 2019

By Barry Meier

Helen W. wasn’t born a Mormon, but she embraced the religion when she was 17 and it embraced her back.

When her son Alex was born with a heart defect and developmental disabilities, it was the Mormon Church that paid for his operations and treatments. When her second son, Zachary, was born eighteen months later, it was the members of her Martinsburg, West Virginia, congregation who helped find babysitters. And when Helen and her husband needed life guidance or wisdom, they turned to their bishop.

Bishops of the Mormon Church — or the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, as it’s formally called — are laymen, not professional clerics. Helen’s bishop, Donald Fishel, had worked full-time as a utility company lineman before his retirement. But as a Mormon bishop, he played an all-encompassing role in his congregants’ lives.

A bishop oversees the spiritual well-being of his followers, instructing them how to act in accordance with the teachings of Mormonisms; and he oversees tithing, the practice of giving 10 percent of one’s income to the church. He also tends to their everyday needs, providing marriage counseling, arranging for financial aid, finding jobs for the unemployed, mentoring teenagers, and filling other roles. A bishop is “your go-to for everything,” says Helen. “You have a problem, you have a concern, financial concerns, anything. The bishop’s door is always open. You go to your bishop and ask their advice.”

Protesters at Southern Baptist Convention Meeting Call for Database of Predators

Patheos blog

June 15, 2019

By Sarahbeth Caplin

The annual meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention took place this week on the heels of multiple stories about how sexual abuse thrived in Southern Baptist churches. Making matters even more complicated is the fact that these churches effectively run independently; there’s no “Baptist Pope” who can force them to follow a certain set of rules. Within the faith, the most damning thing that the SBC can do is kick out a problematic church.

But having a culture where victims are taken seriously and defended, even when the abuser is a church leader, is one way to prevent many of the problems. And that’s why abuse survivors planned a peaceful protest outside the Alabama building where the annual meeting took place.

Among the changes they demanded were a centralized database of sex offenders among the SBC’s 47,000 churches, mandatory abuse prevention training for all Southern Baptist leaders and volunteers, and a solid commitment to respecting women. (The Houston Chronicle and the San Antonio Express-News created an SBC offender database as part of a major investigation into the denomination, but it’s telling that the database came from outsiders and not the SBC itself.)

EDITORIAL: Now the work begins

LITTLE ROCK (AR)
Arkansas Democrat

June 17, 2019

Some churches across the country are (finally) realizing an under-reported problem of sexual abuse. And the question those churches now have to ask is: What to do about it?

The Southern Baptist Convention just adjourned its annual meeting, and it seems like the nation's largest protestant denomination is ready to get to work fixing the problem. The problem? That sounds like an AC difficulty. This is more like a travesty.

Get award-winning commentary from our editorial page and team of local and national columnists, plus letters to the editor, political cartoons and more straight to your inbox.

Last Wednesday, Southern Baptist Convention President J.D. Greear, taking the stage with sex abuse survivors, apologized for the abuse in his church's ranks. Clearly the denomination sees the problem before it. And it's put a plan into action to help combat the crisis.

Delegates approved an amendment to the church's constitution giving leaders the authority to deem churches showing "wanton disregard" for sexual abuse as not in cooperation with the convention. This is a big step because the denomination is usually known for functioning autonomously. But big problems require big solutions, and Southern Baptists seem ready to take that swing.

This Ex-Pastor Wanted Abortion Criminalized. He’s Now Charged with Child Sex Abuse

NEW YORK (NY)
VICE News

Jun 17, 2019

By Carter Sherman

Two months ago, when he was still a Southern Baptist pastor, Stephen Bratton testified in favor of a Texas bill that could have allowed women who get abortions to be charged with homicide, a crime punishable by death in the Lone Star State.

On Friday, the 43-year-old was charged with continuous sex abuse of a child. He stands accused of molesting a teenage relative for two years, including “sexual intercourse multiple times a day or several times a week,” a Harris County deputy said this weekend, according to the Houston Chronicle.

Bratton posted a $50,000 bond on Saturday, the Chronicle reported. The Associated Press could not locate a phone number for Bratton, nor find his attorney, on Sunday.

The charges against Bratton also come just a week after Southern Baptist leaders gathered in Birmingham, Alabama, to discuss sex abuse reform after recent reports found hundreds of clergy and staff were accused of sexual misconduct over the past 20 years. The pastors voted to form a committee to examine allegations that churches failed to adequately deal with claims of sex abuse, and to make it clear that the Southern Baptist Convention can expel churches for mishandling such claims.

Catholic Church compensation fund for N.J. victims opens this weekend

NEW YORK (NY)
WBGO TV

June 17, 2019

By Joe Hernandez

A compensation fund for New Jersey victims of sexual abuse in the Roman Catholic Church will begin accepting claims on Saturday.

The first-of-its-kind fund in the Garden State will offer financial settlements to survivors of clergy sex abuse and comes amid an investigation by state Attorney General Gurbir Grewal into possible sexual abuse and cover-ups in the Catholic Church.

“Some survivors are really intimidated by a court proceeding process. You have to really think about the traumatic impact this sort of institutional abuse has had on someone,” said Patricia Teffenhart, executive director of the New Jersey Coalition Against Sexual Assault.

“On the other hand, not all survivors will want to go back to the institution that caused them harm,” she added.

The compensation fund opens just a few weeks after New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy signed a law expanding the state’s civil statute of limitations on sexual abuse and giving survivors who were previously time-barred from suing two years to file a claim in court.

Church in South America heads into a busy summer

ROME (ITALY)
Crux

June 17, 2019

By Inés San Martín

While much attention has been paid over the past days and weeks to the ins and outs of the spring meeting of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, that doesn’t mean the rest of the Church simply went on “pause” while the Americans did their thing.

In fact, the past week has been a busy period all over the Catholic map. Here’s a small sampling from the Church south of the border, offering a reminder that the word “Catholic” does indeed mean “universal.”

The upcoming Synod on the Amazon
On Monday, after this week’s Angelus went to print, the Vatican released the working document for an upcoming summit of bishops from the Amazon region, which will take place in Rome this October, bringing together prelates from countries that make up a vast region considered one of the world’s two lungs.

Speaking about the synod, Brazilian Cardinal Claudio Hummes, the general relator (more or less, chairman), said that if the bishops request it, Pope Francis would be open to ordaining “viri probati,” married men of proven virtue, as priests.

“The shortage of priests and, therefore, the absence of the Eucharist in the Amazonian communities, is a great limitation,” Hummes said last week while he was in Francis’ native Argentina. “In fact, for its inhabitants the Eucharist is something rare, not part of their daily life.”

However, he said, for the Catholic Church the Eucharist is “fundamental and necessary” to develop a community faithful to Jesus Christ.

Religious Leader Sexual Abuse: A Pan-Denominational Approach

LITTLE ROCK (AR)
Bilgrimage

June 16, 2019

By William Lindsey

This is a continuation of an essay by Ruth Krall, the first half of which was posted a few days ago. As that previous posting noted, this essay, entitled "Religious Leader Sexual Abuse: A Pan-Denominational Approach," continues Ruth's analysis of religious leader sexual abuse of vulnerable individuals from the standpoint of public health. It proposes that "any effort to eliminate sexual abuse as a public health problem must, therefore, be both a national and an international effort. It must also be pan-denominational — reaching into multiple religious communities." Here's the second half of Ruth's outstanding essay — note that footnote numbers begin in medias res because this part of Ruth's essay links to the part previously posted:

Organizational Management Equivalencies

The equivalent here for me is financial embezzlement. Let's say a bank employee is emptying the cash drawer on a regular basis for his own use. This behavior would not be tolerated. The individual would be (1) fired and (2) reported to civil law enforcement agencies. Given the magnitude of the theft, she or he would also be publicly outed by means of news media.

Many years ago now, I watched as one of my alma maters became aware of financial embezzlement by its business manager. He was fired on the spot and an announcement was placed in the annual alumni newsletter so that all alums would have accurate information about what had occurred. I am guessing — but do not know — that this institution's governing board and president wished to forestall rumor-mongering among its alums as well as in the larger community in which the school was located.

In another situation, as a very young mid-level administrator, I watched a narrative of embezzlement unfold inside my organization. A subordinate financial officer reported his department head boss to the governing body of this institution. The subsequent — and very quiet — investigation revealed that the mid-level administrator was indeed cooking the books. He was fired on the spot and immediately escorted off the premises. A brief and very terse announcement was made to local media by the organization's president. I learned of this episode the way my neighbors did — by televised news reports that evening. By the next day, many more internal details were visible inside the organization's various departments.

Child sex abuse survivor ‘outs’ an abusive priest

FRESNO (CA)
Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests

She speaks publicly now for the first time

Her alleged abuser is still in active ministry

At least four other victims have come forward

SNAP calls on Diocese of Fresno to “aggressively reach out” to other victims

What:
At a news conference, a child sex abuse victim who was sexually abused by a Reedley priest will name her abuser publicly for the first time and share her experiences as an abuse victim within the Diocese of Fresno.

When:
Monday, June 17 at 10:45am

Where:
Outside of St. Joseph’s Catholic Church, 1515 Baker St. in Bakersfield, CA

Married priests officially on the agenda during Amazon synod

ROME (ITALY)
Crux

June 17, 2019

By Inés San Martín

When the bishops from the Amazon region gather in Rome next October, they will discuss the ordination of “elderly people,” preferably indigenous, to guarantee that the remote communities in the region have access to the sacraments.

“Affirming that celibacy is a gift for the Church, it is requested that, for the most remote areas of the region, the possibility of priestly ordination for elderly people is studied,” says a document preparing the upcoming Synod of Bishops on the Amazon.

The document goes on to say that the elderly people ordained in remote areas should “preferably [be] indigenous people, respected and accepted by their community, even if they already have a family that is established and stable, in order to ensure the Sacraments that accompany and sustain the Christian life.”

Though the three language versions of the document speak of “people” and not men, it is referring to the ordination of what are known as the viri probati, married men of proven virtue, many of whom already serve as permanent deacons.

The shortage of priests in the Amazon region has long been at the center of debate, as has been the possibility of ordaining the viri probati. However, whenever he’s been approached about the issue, Pope Francis is clear that priestly celibacy is not up for grabs, despite the fact that it is a discipline the Catholic Church and not doctrine.

History’s first Latin American pope has been particularly attentive to the argument in favor of the viri probati in the Amazon or the Pacific Islands, where the mostly indigenous faithful can go months without seeing a priest.

As the debate over the ordination of “proven men” in remote areas reignites, it is worth noting that many eastern rite Catholic Churches allow married men to be ordained. In addition, the Catholic Church allows some married Protestant clergy who convert to remain in priestly ministry.

The document released by the Vatican on Monday, known as the “instrumentum laboris,” will set the ground work for the Synod of Bishops on the Amazon, that will take place in Rome Oct. 6-27.

Attorney accuses Greensburg diocese of covering up abuse allegation

PITTSBURGH (PA)
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

June 14, 2019

By Andrew Goldstein

An attorney Friday criticized Greensburg Bishop Edward Malesic for failing to tell the public that a monsignor — who was removed from ministry because of a credible allegation of sexual abuse — faced at least one other accusation.

But the Catholic Diocese of Greensburg said the second allegation against Monsignor Michael Matusak is under investigation, and he had already been removed from ministry when the accusation was made.

Adam Horowitz, an attorney recognized nationally for representing victims of sexual assault and abuse, said Bishop Malesic misled the public by withholding information.

“This is another example of America's bishops failing at their promises of transparency and openness — and the importance of the public and the media in holding them accountable,” Mr. Horowitz said in a statement. “Public safety depends upon it, and survivors deserve better.”

He said he represents a woman who accused Monsignor Matusak of sexually abusing her from 1973 to 1976 while he was a deacon preparing for his ordination at St. Hedwig in Franklin Township. Fayette County. He said the alleged abuse continued after Monsignor Matusak's ordination.
The woman also said Monsignor Matusak stalked and harassed her for nearly 20 more years, even telling her that he would leave the priesthood for her, according to Mr. Horowitz.

Jerry Zufelt, a spokesman for the Greensburg diocese, said Mr. Horowitz reported the second allegation to the diocese in March. He said the diocese immediately contacted PA ChildLine and law enforcement, and the investigation is ongoing.

Remarks by David Clohessy at the For Such A Time As This Rally

BIRMINGHAM (AL)
Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests

June 14, 2019

I’m honored, truly honored, to be among you. Thanks so much for having me here. By way of background, I was molested by a priest as a kid. So were four of my brothers. One of them went on to become a priest. And he went on to molest kids himself. And now you know why, for more than 30 years, I’ve been with SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests.

It’s ironic that we’re in ALABAMA – the state in which Rosa Parks sat down. She sparked an amazing movement.

And this movement – the Baptist child safety movement – was sparked by someone else who’s with us in Alabama today: our dear friend and trusted mentor and guiding light and moral force - Christa Brown.

It’s also ironic that we’re in BIRMINGHAM, with the Baptists. Both have a sordid history of treating vulnerable groups poorly.

With Birmingham, of course, it was African Americans. Exhibit A: It’s nickname. Some used dynamite to intimidate the vulnerable so often, that the city was once known as “Bombingham.”

With the Baptists, of course, it’s innocent kids, vulnerable adults and wounded victims. Exhibit A: the meanest public comment ever made about SNAP came from a high ranking Baptist official. A decade ago, Paige Patterson said that our group SNAP is “just as reprehensible as sex criminals.”

Think about the mind-set behind that remark: abuse victims are “just as reprehensible as sex criminals.”

https://ethicsdaily.com/sbc-seminary-president-labels-clergy-sex-abuse-victims-group-evil-doers-cms-12262/

But change is coming. Mahatma Gandhi knows about change. He said “First they ignore you. Then they laugh at you. Then they fight you. Then you win.”

Congratulations on reaching the third phase: Baptist officials are fighting you. And you will win.

Now, a quick observation and a quick question.

The observation: Not coincidentally, it was mostly women who organized both movements: Ella Baker, Unita Blackwell, Fannie Lou Hamer, and of course the many women who put together this terrific rally.

If these names don’t ring a bell, I hope you’ll look them up. Unita Blackwell, for instance, just passed away. There’s a terrific NYT obit. It’s on my fridge at home. It’s on line too. You’ll find it inspiring, I guarantee it.

And if you don’t know the names of the rally organizers, I hope you’ll meet them. They too are inspiring.

Now, the quick question: What do you think you’ll get when you put a microphone in front of an old white guy who’s been doing the same thing for 30 years? Advice of course. Here it comes: 30 years of advocacy summed up in 15 words of advice, ready?

Fixate on prevention. Ignore church officials. Ignore church promises. Create outside pressure. Make heads roll.

Remarks by Christa Brown at the For Such A Time As This Rally

BIRMINGHAM (AL)
Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests

June 14, 2019

Wow. Look at all of you! Back in 2007, when David Clohessy and I stood outside the SBC annual meeting in San Antonio, just a few steps from the Alamo, there were 10 of us that day.

And now - look at you. HERE is where hope resides. Right here. It’s not over there with those religious leaders. No. It is here with you.

For those who don’t know me, I was sexually abused as a kid by a Southern Baptist pastor … but THAT was only the beginning of the nightmare. I also survived all the horrific aftermath of what so many others did in trying to silence me and bully me. I wrote a book about it all … but in truth, my story is dreadfully common.

It is a bloody awful road that SO MANY OF US have traveled in this blind-eyed faith group.

Almost every Baptist survivor I’ve ever spoken with has said that the trauma from the INSTITUTIONAL betrayal far exceeded the trauma from the abuse itself.

Reason for Hope

CHARLESTON (WV)
The Intelligencer

June 16, 2019

Editor, News-Register:

While Catholics lament the behavior of our leadership, I have hope for the future. Profligate spending is difficult to digest. Abusive behavior from leaders cannot be tolerated and victims must receive justice from their church.

We have a right to be angry.

While attending a conference at Franciscan University of Steubenville, we began with discouragement. By the end of the weekend, we left with renewed hope. It was apparent the Catholic Church is thriving at FUS and throughout our country. We met people from dioceses nationwide who shared outstanding things happening in their churches. We concluded the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston is being purified by fire and new growth will rise from the ash heap.

In the early 1200s, God called St. Francis of Assisi to “Rebuild My Church.” In the spirit of St. Francis, consider encouraging one another and the faithful clergy to rebuild once again!

It may take time, but the blood of martyrs over the last 2,000 years and today worldwide creates fertile conditions for fresh growth. Scandals will likely continue as long as people are in charge, but I cannot forget our church’s positive influence on the world: orphanages; hospitals; education systems; the defense of all forms of life; artwork; music; and, the largest charitable organization on the globe.

The foremost reason I could never leave the Catholic Church is the peace I receive in the Eucharist, established by Jesus at the last supper, and offered in mass every hour of every day around the planet.

St. Augustine, bishop in North Africa, said a prayer in the late 300s that was on target: “Our hearts are restless until they rest in You.” There is hope.

John Faini, Wheeling

Poland becomes Europe’s testing ground for best practices on abuse

ROME (ITALY)
Crux

Jun 17, 2019

By Paulina Guzik

It was a very hot day when Archbishop Charles Scicluna, the Vatican’s point man on the fight against clerical sexual abuse, met Polish bishops on June 14. The temperature was as high as expectations that the word “dismissal of bishops” would come out of his mouth.

In the end, his visit may inaugurate Poland as the testing ground for the new Vatican norms on sexual abuse and cover-up.

Vox estis lux mundi (“You are the light of the world”), the new pontifical law that came into life on June 1, “for the first time in the history of the Church - creates a positive obligation to denounce”- told the Maltese archbishop in an interview for Polish Television. It also protects those who report.

The title of the document was the mantra of Scicluna’s two-hour long speech and his Q&A session for Polish bishops. It may also become a sword that Scicluna brought to Poland. He thoroughly explained the law that will eventually cut heads off bishops who put their reputation first and ignore victims.

“Victims are not enemies of the Church,” Scicluna told the Polish episcopate, “but wounded sheep.”

Scicluna praised the plans and procedures decided by the episcopal conference throughout the years. But then he asked: “What are the facts?”

“He forced us to examine our conscience,” a Polish bishop told Crux after Scicluna’s speech.

Victor, survivor of clerical sexual abuse told TVP in an interview on Sunday: “What I want from the bishops is that their actions don’t deny their words. If they don’t decide to be shepherds - he stressed - it’s better that they give away their purple caps,” adding that he feels betrayed by Polish hierarchy.

Scicluna was invited by the Polish bishops last year, and many, including survivors, thought he may bring a message from the pope to the country shaken by sex abuse and abuse of power scandals revealed in the movie “Tell No One,” in which victims confront their abusers on camera.

Ten days before his trip, Scicluna had a private audience with Pope Francis.

“The pope knew I was coming to Poland, and he asked me to greet Polish people in a special way on his behalf,” he told Polish Television - “but I’m not here as his envoy.” He then added that his long-planned visit providentially happened in an important moment of the history of the Church in Poland.

At bishops summit, filling McCarrick’s chair signals hope for change

BALTIMORE (MD)
Crux

June 17, 2019

By Christopher White

When the U.S. Catholic bishops gathered for their semi-annual meeting last week, the burning outsider question was what steps they would take to combat the clerical sexual abuse scandals that are once again scarring the Church in America.

For insiders, however, that question took on a highly specific focus: Would anyone finally sit in Ted McCarrick’s chair?

In reality, there is no chair formally designated for the disgraced former priest and cardinal whose downfall opened the floodgates for the latest wave of the abuse crisis, but, symbolically, his empty chair during recent meetings has come to represent something more.

McCarrick’s absence - once a towering figure in this august body - was a reminder of the betrayal many feel, and his name has become synonymous with the failings of the collective body of bishops and the source of rage for Catholics across the country.

In a room full of hundreds of chairs - none of which are actually reserved - one chair was just be assumed to be off-limits. It was his chair, where he had sat for years.

As a reporter focused on the Catholic Church, many people often ask me what it’s like to cover the U.S. bishops. Each year they hold two national meetings - gathering every November in Baltimore for a general assembly, and again in June at a rotating location - and making sense of their seating habits has been just one facet of coming to understand the customs and routines of this body of men.

At the level of public perception, the conference is often taken to be the governing body of the Catholic Church in America. In reality, the conference has little real power, since under Church law there’s no authority between the individual bishop and the pope. Nevertheless, decisions taken here matter, because most bishops make a good-faith effort to abide by them.

There are 441 Catholic bishops in the U.S., more than 270 of whom are in active ministry, making the U.S. body one of the largest conferences in the world. Retired members are also invited to attend - although after a decision taken at last week’s meetings, the president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), can now bar emeriti bishops who have been removed from office for grave reasons.

Ann Rodgers, the director of communications for the diocese of Pittsburgh, told me that the work of “mapping the room” where the U.S. bishops meet is one of the first essential tasks during the formal meetings of the USCCB.

Rodgers, who began attending these meetings in 1988 when she was a newspaper reporter and since going to work for a diocese in 2013 has helped the USCCB’s communication team when the bishops get together, said that as soon as the meetings get underway she and several other staffers go row by row to determine who is occupying each seat.

Once the chart is completed, USCCB president Cardinal Daniel DiNardo and General Secretary Monsignor Brian Bransfield draw on that list when bishops hold up a card seeking to make an intervention during the meeting.

“Sometimes you watch the president calling on someone ten rows back and you might think, ‘Gosh, he has a great memory.’ In reality, he’s using the list,” said Rodgers.

The seating chart also serves other purposes - namely, to locate bishops when the hundreds of interview requests from reporters like myself are submitted.

June 16, 2019

For Such A Time As This blog

When It Is In Your Power

June 11, 2019

By April C. Armstrong

Last May, I publicly revealed what it was like as a female student at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary from 2004-2007 when Paige Patterson was president. Anonymous stories had appeared before mine, but as far as I know, mine was the first to come out with a name attached. Telling a deeply personal truth in a very public way is not easy to do, but every alternative seemed worse. Continued silence was unthinkable. I could not tell it anonymously for a variety of reasons. I had always had a good reputation among most people at Southwestern, so I wasn’t afraid of what people I knew would say about me in response. It ultimately extended far beyond my circle, however.

After reading what I had to say, Beth Moore tweeted at me that I was “brave” and had acted “not out of bitterness but out of love for Jesus & the church.” She was partly right. I don’t consider myself bitter; a great deal of emotional labor over the past dozen years has ensured that you can’t apply that adjective to me, though I believe we should avoid both praise and criticism for any survivor’s emotional responses. And if courage is doing something you find frightening, then I suppose what I did was a form of bravery, though I had less fear doing it than not doing it. And yes, I did this out of love. But I didn’t do this out of love for the church, per se.

Bishops' actions at spring meeting called a 'work in progress'

WASHINGTON (DC)
Catholic News Service

June 14, 2019

By Carol Zimmerman

The gathering of U.S. bishops June 11-13 in Baltimore was anything but business as usual.

"The spring meetings are usually more pastoral, and the November meeting has a heavier agenda," said Bishop Michael F. Burbidge of Arlington, Virginia, who said this meeting had a "sense of urgency" and momentum to it, both in the smaller group gatherings and when the bishops were all together.

"We were here for specific task ... and by God's grace we will move forward," he said during a June 12 news conference.

The bishops typically meet twice a year as a body. The spring meeting of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops is usually in June at different locations each year, and sometimes it is a retreat. The fall meeting in recent years has always been in Baltimore. This year's spring meeting was switched somewhat last minute to the Baltimore location where the bishops were not the only ones in the hotel space but were adjacent to other conference gatherings.

The other time a spring bishops' meeting was almost entirely devoted to the church crisis was the 2002 meeting in Dallas, just months after the church was reeling from a clergy sexual abuse crisis that made headlines in The Boston Globe.

But where that meeting focused on misconduct by priests, this year's meeting looked at responding to the misconduct of some bishops and the failure of some bishops to properly address abuse.

Since their two general assemblies last year, the bishops have been confronted with an overwhelming need to prove to U.S. Catholics that abuse within their own ranks won't be tolerated. They were hit with allegations last summer that one of their own, former Cardinal Theodore E. McCarrick, had committed abuses over decades. Then just a week before the spring meeting, details emerged from the Vatican-ordered investigation of retired Bishop Michael J. Bransfield of Wheeling-Charleston, West Virginia, highlighting financial and sexual improprieties.

Catholic Church in Scotland urged to create independent safeguarding watchdog to “rebuild trust” following abuse scandals

GLASGOW (SCOTLAND)
The Scottish Sun

June 15, 2019

By Laura Paterson

THE Catholic Church in Scotland have been urged to create independent safeguarding watchdog to "rebuild trust" following abuse scandals.

The Independent Review Group (IRG) believes it would be a "crucial step to promote transparency and restore credibility" of the church.

They are also calling for the church to provide more support for abuse survivors within the community.

The group found a good start had been made on implementing the McLellan Commission recommendations but much more needs to be done.

IRG was set up by the church in 2017 to monitor its response to a major review of safeguarding and child protection.

They want each diocese to have a clear policy statement on access and support for survivors, an independent person they can approach for advice, and to consider including survivor representation on safeguarding decision-making bodies.

It also recommends further refining safeguarding audits, which should be independently scrutinised, and having a national training plan on the issue.

The report states: "The Bishop's Conference of Scotland should give detailed and urgent consideration to the creation of a strengthened, resourced and independent SCSS with appropriate professional support as a crucial step to promote transparency and restore credibility."

It continues: "Much still needs to be done to ensure victims of abuse are seen, heard and supported by the church and the process of healing begins to take place.

"Improvement in policy and openness to learning from the audit process will start to shift culture.

"However, investment is required to develop a properly resourced professional safeguarding service.

"Commitment to create a dedicated, independent safeguarding service which supports the development needs of the eight dioceses; drives consistency; is empowered to independently investigate concerns or complaints and can act without bias in all its affairs is critical to rebuilding trust with congregations and the general public."

Group chairwoman Baroness Helen Liddell said: "The problem of how the church is perceived is a universal one and signals the need for real and far-reaching change.

"The vigour with which change is brought about, and is seen to be brought about, will determine whether credibility and trust can ever be restored.

Lead By Example, Not Documents, Vatican Abuse Expert Tells Polish Bishops

WARSAW (POLAND)
Catholic News Agency

June 14, 2019

As the Catholic Church in Poland continues to respond to sex abuse by clergy, Archbishop Charles Scicluna, a leading Vatican expert on prosecuting sex crimes under church law, attended the bishops’ plenary assembly to discuss child and youth protection.

Scicluna told the Catholic news source KAI that he wanted to encourage the bishops “to implement the very good guidance points that they themselves adopted” in 2013, Reuters reported.

“I have a great hope that Polish bishops will do what is needed...I hope this situation can be repaired,” said Scicluna, who took part in a June 14 session of the 383rd Plenary Assembly of the Polish Bishops’ Conference in Walbrzych.

“My very strong message to the bishops of Poland this morning was - we need to pass from very good documents to an example of best practice,” the archbishop said.

He said rules alone are not enough unless they are implemented. Parishioners need to know to whom they can report suspected abuse.

Scicluna urged anyone aware of a coverup to report it to Church authorities. In cases where high-ranking bishops are involved, they should report the coverup to Poland’s papal nuncio, the Associated Press reported.

In a May 22 letter, the Polish bishop’s conference spoke out against clergy sexual abuse and pledged both to continue to “eliminate factors conducive to crime” and to adopt a more sensitive attitude toward victims.

“We admit that as shepherds of the Church we have not done everything to prevent these harms,” they said, thanking the victims who have come forward and urging those who have not to report their abuse to both Church and state authorities.

A documentary about clerical sex abuse in Poland, titled “Tell No One,” was produced and recently released by filmmaker brothers Tomasz and Marek Sekielski. Millions of viewers have watched it on YouTube.

Archbishop Stanislaw Gadecki of Poznan, President of the Polish bishops’ conference, thanked the filmmakers on May 13. He said he was “deeply moved and saddened” by the film.

“I am convinced that this film, too, will result in an even more stringent compliance with the guidelines for the protection of children and young people in the Church,” he said, noting Pope Francis’ recent instructions in the document “Vos estis,” which includes rules on the prevention of and response to sexual abuse by clergy.

Close to 400 Polish priests were accused of sexual abuse of minors, with alleged incidents dating as far back as 1950 with as many as 625 potential victims, according to a study commissioned by the Episcopal Conference of Poland and released in March 2019. These accusations were submitted to Poland’s bishops starting in the year 1990 until 2018.

The study covered data collected from the more than 10,000 parishes in Poland, and included religious orders.

According to the report, 382 priests were accused of abuse during the time covered. Of the clerics accused, 284 were diocesan priests, and 98 belonged to a religious order. Figures provided by the Holy See Press Office in 2016 reported there are 156 bishops and some 30,661 priests in Poland.

Bishops won't take obvious road out of Catholic abuse scandal

CHARLESTON (WV)
Gazette Mail

June 14, 2019

By Jennifer Haselberger

America’s Catholic bishops are gathering this week to debate new measures to hold bishops and cardinals more accountable in cases of clergy sex abuse. They’ll likely say the problem is largely in the church’s past. What they won’t say is that they already know how to largely eliminate sexual misconduct with minors but won’t do it: Get out of youth ministry.

During the nearly 10 years I spent working as a canon lawyer in different dioceses in the United States, I saw firsthand that the U.S. church accepts the sexual abuse of minors as the cost of doing business the American way.

The American church’s business model relies on programs aimed at children and young males who might become priests. Those youth ministry programs, which happen outside the core worship experience, are where abuse happens. U.S. church officials know this, and they could reduce the abuse that still happens by getting out of the youth ministry business, but they won’t.

It is well established that Catholic scouting, summer camps, retreats, youth days and other programming designed to, as one upcoming Wisconsin program’s brochure called “Totally Yours” puts it, “ignite the hearts” of young Catholics create contexts in which young people are particularly vulnerable to exploitation and mistreatment. There is ample evidence that, even in the post-”Spotlight” era, predators among the clergy and the laity seek out these opportunities to connect with Catholic youth.

The Vatican’s own press kit for the pope’s global “Meeting On the Protection of Minors” in February described a timeline of the church’s response to abuse. It noted that in Slovenia’s communist dictatorship, from 1945 to 1992, “Catholic education was almost nonexistent and for this reason the potential abusers did not have direct contact with minors.”

Yet, since 2002 the Catholic Church has doubled down on these forms of outreach, prioritizing its need to evangelize and develop the next generation of Catholics over the safety and well-being of the same.

It also turns a blind eye to the ongoing problem of clergy singling out some children for special attention under the guise of fostering vocations to the priesthood or religious life.

This remains a concerning factor in many of the cases of abuse that have occurred post-2002. Yet, the church does little, if anything, to combat this. Instead, it uses wording like this on a Seattle archdiocesan vocations blog, telling priests to “draw a young man aside” and use praise and “sincerity” to encourage him to consider the priesthood.

In any other context, this would be labeled grooming.

However, the church needs to address its priest shortage. As a result, parents and other guardians are socialized to relinquish oversight and even good judgment when it is a question of encouraging a child along this path.

There are countless other examples of the Catholic Church prioritizing its methods of operating over the safety of children.

The lack of willingness to confront the problem of clergy sex abuse of minors, and yet the drive to cover it up, are what led me to resign in 2013 as the chancellor for canonical affairs for the Archdiocese of Minneapolis-St. Paul and bring everything I saw into the light as a whistleblower.


Dioceses like my own could delay expanding youth programming until it has fully functional, empirically supported and evidence-based methods in place for ensuring the safety of these programs. Instead, it continues to create new programs, like the annual archdiocesan Youth Day, which was first held in 2013. The archdiocese had learned about abuse by the Rev. Curtis Wehmeyer in 2012, and although it had years worth of information about the potential danger the priest posed, it pretended that it had no indication of any potential for harm. I went public with my information the week before the event, and the county attorney launched an investigation that resulted in charges.

We don’t know if expanding the priesthood beyond an all-male, celibate clergy would eliminate sexual abuse, but the Catholic Church has made it clear that it won’t consider it even if it did. Likewise, the church is unwilling to embrace a shared-governance model including its laity, even though the primary agenda item for this week’s meeting is developing a means of addressing the frequent abuses and misuses that result from its current narrow concentration of power. Also, advocates for children continue to be outraged by the Catholic Church’s refusal to embrace seemingly common-sense reporting requirements because of some competing evangelization goal. For example, the church is fighting state laws requiring clerics to report sexual abuse they hear in the confessional, claiming such proposals violate religious freedom. As a canon lawyer, I can tell you such proposals can be easily accommodated within Catholic theology.

California dioceses ask Catholics to urge lawmakers reject confession bill

WASHINGTON (DC)
Catholic News Service

June 25, 2019

Using social media, preaching, newspaper columns and letters read at Mass, the Los Angeles Archdiocese and California's other Catholic dioceses planned a special push over the June 15-16 weekend asking Catholics to urge their representatives in the state Assembly to reject a confession bill.

S.B. 360 -- which passed in the California Senate May 23 in a 30-2 vote -- would force priests to disclose information about child sexual abuse that they learn when they are hearing another priest's confession or when hearing the confession of a co-worker.

The bill is expected to have a vote in the lower house, the California State Assembly, in September.

"Our lawmakers have good intentions. They want to prevent child abuse," Los Angeles Archbishop Jose H. Gomez said in a letter he issued June 10 that is to be read at all June 15 and 16 Masses in the archdiocese. "But there is no evidence that this legislation will do that. Instead, it threatens a practice that is essential to our faith and religious identity."

"We need your help to protect this sacrament of the church and to keep confession sacred," he said. "And we need to continue our commitment to building a society where every child is loved, protected and safe."

The Catholic Church in California set up a new website, KeepTheSeal.com, which is a hub that gives people easy access to materials about S.B. 360 as well as a way to send emails to their legislators.

As it is in many U.S. states, California requires priests, teachers, social workers, doctors and other professionals to be "mandated reporters." That means by law they are required to report any case of suspected abuse to authorities.

There is currently an exemption in California law for any clergy member "who acquires knowledge or a reasonable suspicion of child abuse or neglect during a penitential communication."

For Catholics, that penitential communication would be in the confessional.

"The sacrament of penance and reconciliation, what we call confession, was the first gift that Jesus gave to the world after rising from the dead," Archbishop Gomez said in his letter. "On the first Easter night, he breathed his Holy Spirit into his apostles, his first priests, and he granted them the awesome power to forgive sins in his name.

"Jesus gave us this gift so that we could always come to him, personally, to confess our sins and seek his forgiveness and the grace to continue on our Christian journey."

Sexuality and the End of the Catholic Church

BALTIOMORE (MD)
Reality Asserts Itself

June 13, 2019

PAUL JAY: Welcome back to Reality Asserts Itself. I’m Paul Jay. We’re continuing our discussion with former Catholic priest, and now Episcopal priest, Matthew Fox. Thanks for joining us again.

MATTHEW FOX: Thank you, Paul.

PAUL JAY: And as you’ve been–if you’ve been watching, and you really should go back to Part 1 to understand where we’re at–but Matthew was a Catholic priest who got in the crosshairs of the Inquisition, led by Cardinal Ratzinger, and was first–well, first of all silenced, and then asked to leave the Dominican order; more or less turfed, and continued to speak out. And here he is speaking out.

You’ve been–when we first interviewed, Pope Francis had just been appointed. And you, and I have to say I, were pretty dubious about Francis in terms of his history in Latin America. Some connections to not Opus Dei directly, but an Italian version of something like Opus Dei that Francis seemed to have some connection of. And the whole history of the last 30 some-odd, 40 years. You describe the Catholic Church as being as decrepit as the Borgias. But he surprised you. And he seemed to have surprised a lot of people with his positions on climate change and his speaking out on inequality, and other kinds of issues. And essentially a kind of social democrat.

But you’ve not been satisfied with his response on the issue of the church and the covering up of crimes of priests of pedophilia. So what has been the Pope’s response and why are you not satisfied with it?

The Polish Church's clerical abuse apology

PARIS (FRANCE)
LaCroix International

June 16, 2019

Archbishop Charles Scicluna of Malta is the man Pope Francis trusts to lead the world-wide fight against pedophilia in the Church.

And that's just as well because he is set to meet with bishops of the powerful Polish Catholic Church, which is facing a wave of revelations about sexual abuse by priests.

A plenary session has been scheduled for June 14 in Swidnica, south western Poland, at which the bishops will meet Archbishop Scicluna.

When on May 16 they announced the visit, the Polish bishops were careful to specify that he was responding to an invitation made a year earlier. But it is difficult not to make the link between this visit and the release on May 11 of a documentary implicating several Polish bishops in the alleged protection of pedophile priests.

Directed and produced by two brothers, Tomasz and Marek Sekielski, 'Tell No One' is highly critical of Polish church authorities.It explicitly names alleged attackers, as well as bishops suspected of having remained silent, and cites evidence to back-up various claims.

Pope Francis’ Arch Nemesis Comes Out of Hiding to Slam Him on Predator Priests

ROME (ITALY)
Daily Beast

June 16, 2019

By Barbie Latza Nadeau

There are few scandals in the sordid history of the American Catholic church more painful than the saga of former Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, a high-ranking prince of the church who fell from grace amid a slew of lies and cover-ups.

McCarrick was forced to resign and later defrocked after credible allegations that he sexually abused a boy from the age of 11 until the young man was 29, starting long before the Boston Spotlight probe and Pennsylvania Grand Jury report came to define priests behaving badly.

It was well known in certain Catholic circles that the cardinal liked to entertain six or more seminarians in his five-bedroom New Jersey beach house with the assumption that the odd man out would share his bed.

Sex abuse claim against late Springfield bishop Christopher Weldon demonstrates challenge victims face

SPRINGFIELD (MA)
The Republican

June 16, 2019

By Anne-Gerard Flynn

Springfield Bishop Mitchell T. Rozanski will meet Thursday with an alleged clergy sex abuse victim, who says he told a diocesan Review Board a year ago that he had been sexually abused decades ago by the late Bishop Christopher J. Weldon.

The Review Board has disputed that his June 2018 testimony included allegations of direct abuse by Weldon, though three individuals present say he named Weldon.

Rozanski, who was in Baltimore this past week for a U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops meeting where clergy abuse was among the topics discussed, was said to have found the allegations involving Weldon “deeply troubling.”

It is unclear what resolution will come from the meeting between the alleged victim and Rozanski, but the situation highlights the difficulty for those coming forth with accusations of sexual misconduct involving a deceased bishop.

An area of legal conflict in the Springfield diocese has been how far back it was aware of clergy sex abuse. This has been an issue particularly associated with Weldon’s 27 years as bishop and any allegations made against clergy at that time. There are concerns as well that pertinent files kept by Weldon may have been destroyed after his death in 1982 by the executor of his will — who had himself faced claims of sexual abuse.

E.J. Fleming’s book “Death of an Altar Boy” makes the argument that Weldon knew early on from detectives that then diocesan priest Richard Lavigne — who pleaded guilty in 1992 to molesting two boys and was later removed from the clerical state by the Vatican — was a suspect in the unsolved 1972 murder of 13-year-old altar boy Danny Croteau.

The diocese has argued it was not aware until 1986 of an accusation of abuse against Lavigne, who was the subject of at least 37 claims of abuse of a minor, and continued to minister as a priest until 1991.

Rockville Centre diocese holds off on releasing list of clergy members accused of sex abuse

LONG ISLAND (NY)
Newsday

June 16, 2019

By Bart Jones

The Diocese of Rockville Centre is holding off on releasing a list of clergy members accused of sexual abuse, a decision that shows the delicate balance of speed and accuracy.

Most victims advocates argue the diocese has had plenty of time — years — to pull together an accurate list. A few activists, though, along with church analysts point out that getting the list right should be a top priority, regardless of how long it takes.

Bishop John Barres hasn't commented directly; a diocesan spokesman, Sean Dolan, described the release of a list now as "premature."

"The tradition of American Justice affords all persons the right to be presumed innocent until proven guilty. Therefore, the diocese cooperates with law enforcement on all accusations and also engages additional independent, professional investigations,” Dolan said in a statement.

New York's seven other dioceses and two-thirds of the 198 nationwide have released lists. Rockville Centre serves 1.4 million Catholics, making it the eighth largest in the country.

Challenges to seal of confession attributed to clergy sex abuse scandals

WASHINGTON (DC)
Catholic News Service

June 16, 2019

By Chaz Muth

Church scholars assert the concept of the seal of confession was given to the apostles by Jesus, eventually morphing into the sacrament of penance, providing the faithful with an opportunity to confess their sins and to be reconciled with God.

The soul-cleansing, sacred practice is private, confidential and repeatable.

Governmental leaders have challenged the priest-penitent privilege of the seal of confession since at least the 14th century, prompting priests to sacrifice their freedom and sometimes their lives protecting that confidentiality.

In the wake of renewed attention on the clergy child sexual abuse scandals, 21st-century lawmakers in Australia, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Chile, and the U.S. have introduced measures that would compel priests to report to civil authorities information related to child abuse and neglect learned in the confessional.

“There are many reasons why we are seeing challenges to the seal of confession today,” said Father Ronald T. Kunkel, theology professor at Mundelein Seminary at the University of St. Mary of the Lake in Illinois, near Chicago.

The Church has suffered “self-inflicted wounds” to its reputation and credibility from the clergy sex abuse crisis, making the seal of confession vulnerable to governmental intrusion, Kunkel told Catholic News Service in an April interview.

“There have been terrible sins and crimes that have been committed, including by members of the hierarchy,” he said. “But, I think in many cases this is being used as an excuse in order to further marginalize the Church in our society today.”

That reaction has been echoed by countless theologians, canon lawyers, priests and penitents throughout the U.S., particularly in California, where a bill is making its way through the state legislature that attempts to amend its mandatory reporting laws to require priests to provide civil authorities with information about child abuse or neglect confessed by priests or co-workers during the sacrament of penance.

Critics of that legislation, S.B. 360, call it governmental overreach that clearly violates religious freedoms enjoyed in the U.S., as well as its tradition of separation of church and state. Some also fear that authorities could send someone in to confess to abuse in order to prosecute the priest for failing to report it.

Supporters of the California bill say it closes a loophole in a law that provides cover for pedophile priests - and other criminals - who receive absolution from the sin of child sexual abuse without being held accountable by society. They believe it emboldens such penitents to continue to victimize others.

Laws making it an offense for a priest’s failure to report the confessions of child sex abuse have already been passed in three Australian states and similar acts are being considered in Chile.

“I think it’s worth noting that the mandatory reporting statutes, the clergy-penitent privilege, and the seal of confession, these three doctrines if you will, are all in tension with each other,” said Mary Graw Leary, a professor of law at The Catholic University of America in Washington and a former prosecutor specializing in the abuse and exploitation of children and women. “They all serve very positive social goods. But, these kinds of circumstances bring them in tension with each other and it’s a very difficult problem to solve.”

Safe haven or house of horrors? Ex-Mt. Loretto residents reflect after shocking sex filing

STATEN ISLAND (NY)
June 16, 2019

By Joseph Ostapiuk

To some it was a safe haven, an environment where struggling children put their lives back on track.

Others, however, claim it was a place where predators preyed upon their vulnerabilities.

Former residents of the Mission of the Immaculate Virgin, Mount Loretto, are embroiled after a bombshell court filing alleged that a woman who attended the haven suffered physical and sexual abuse at the hands of several nuns and at least one lay person.

Sly Francis, 61, a former NYPD detective and a resident of Mount Loretto from 1963 to 1972, said that he never previously heard of allegations or rumors that nuns sexually abused any of the residents.

“I can’t dismiss her allegations,” said Francis, who attended Mount Loretto from the ages of 6 to 15, “but I never witnessed anyone or never heard of anyone -- a female or male -- being sexually abused by the nuns.”

While Francis admitted that both nuns and priests at the school doled out discipline to students “because of behavior," he said that he was never abused.

Francis, a chronic runaway as a child after his parents divorced, said that his time at the manor “saved” his life.

At only five years old, Francis would go into the street “for weeks at a time” and said that he often ended up “in strange people’s houses" before being told he would be forced to go to a reform school. However, a priest at Mount Loretto reached out to Francis’ mother, and he soon after attended the mission.

“The kids that were there became my family, and it put me on the right path,” Francis said.

The court filing was made by Robin Campbell, whose maiden name is Robin Miller. Miller lived at the Pleasant Plains mission between the ages of 6 and 11, from 1960 through 1966, according to documents filed in Manhattan state Supreme Court.

June 15, 2019

Chicago Priest, Father Patrick Lee, Reinstated After He Was Accused Of Sexual Abuse While At Midlothian Parish

CHICAGO (IL)
CBS TV

June 15, 2019

A priest at Our Lady of Mount Carmel parish in Chicago was reinstated Saturday after he was accused of sexual abuse and asked to step aside from his duties in January.

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

Cupich said both state officials and the independent review board of the archdiocese determined the allegations against Lee were unfounded.

In an email 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.”

Cupich shared his letter with other parishes in the Archdiocese of Chicago and the media to “see that Father Lee’s good name is restored.”

Mistakes of the Bishops

Patheos blog

June 15, 2019

By Msgr. Eric Barr

The U.S. Bishops had an unimpressive week at their biannual meeting. That means this first paragraph will be boring. But take heart! It shall get better. They approved three measures to help alleviate last year’s iteration of the sex abuse crisis, namely, the ex-cardinal Theodore McCarrick controversy. First, they approved a way for a bishop to discipline another bishop within his diocese. Next, they approved norms to codify Pope Francis’ February Conference on Sex Abuse results. And finally, they approved a non-binding agreement to deal with bishops and have the same expectations of bishops as they do of their priests and deacons. Yawn. Boring and not very satisfying, and fairly useless in fixing the bishops’ mistakes concerning the sex abuse crisis.

FIRST, LET’S KILL ALL THE LAWYERS–OKAY, NOT REALLY
For sure, the measures will be somewhat helpful. But they do not undue the first mistake the bishops ever made concerning the issue of sexual abuse. That was the embrace of the legal system, both ecclesiastical and civil, as the first response to the crisis. Sexual abuse by priests did not begin in 2002, but the Church stood on the cusp of a major decision that year. How would the episcopacy treat this concern? The bishops tried their best but failed. Why? Of all the choices before them on how to handle the situation they decided to lawyer up. They forsook their role as shepherds and cast their lot with lawyers, seeing themselves as CEOs with a need to protect the institution.

What happened next was not the lawyers’ fault. They were simply doing what they had been asked to do by the Church. Apply civil law, protect the institution, and keep the amounts dictated by lawsuits low enough to not bankrupt individual dioceses. The bishops, of course, also tried to apply pastoral justice, trying to care for the victim and punishing the perpetrator. It did not work out very well. Casting their lot with the lawyers simply exacerbated a trend that had appeared decades before. The bishops were relinquishing their role as shepherds and becoming CEOs, executives of their individual companies (dioceses) under the umbrella corporation of the Universal Catholic Church. Simply take a look at the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ meetings. In their black suits and with somber demeanor, the bishops do not look or act like shepherds. They look like Chief Executive Officers at worst and at best like those elderly bankers in the original Mary Poppins movie, totally out of touch with real life, anxious only to protect the wealth of the bank. That sounds terribly harsh but the optics are clear–these meetings stress law and order, not pastoral care and practice

California dioceses ask Catholics to urge lawmakers reject confession bill

LOS ANGELES (CA)
Catholic News Service

June 15, 2019

Using social media, preaching, newspaper columns and letters read at Mass, the Los Angeles Archdiocese and California’s other Catholic dioceses planned a special push over the June 15-16 weekend asking Catholics to urge their representatives in the state Assembly to reject a confession bill.

S.B. 360 - which passed in the California Senate May 23 in a 30-2 vote - would force priests to disclose information about child sexual abuse that they learn when they are hearing another priest’s confession or when hearing the confession of a co-worker.

The bill is expected to have a vote in the lower house, the California State Assembly, in September.

“Our lawmakers have good intentions. They want to prevent child abuse,” Los Angeles Archbishop Jose H. Gomez said in a letter he issued June 10 that is to be read at all June 15 and 16 Masses in the archdiocese. “But there is no evidence that this legislation will do that. Instead, it threatens a practice that is essential to our faith and religious identity.”

“We need your help to protect this sacrament of the Church and to keep confession sacred,” he said. “And we need to continue our commitment to building a society where every child is loved, protected and safe.”

The Catholic Church in California set up a new website, KeepTheSeal.com, which is a hub that gives people easy access to materials about S.B. 360 as well as a way to send emails to their legislators.

As it is in many U.S. states, California requires priests, teachers, social workers, doctors and other professionals to be “mandated reporters.” That means by law they are required to report any case of suspected abuse to authorities.

There is currently an exemption in California law for any clergy member “who acquires knowledge or a reasonable suspicion of child abuse or neglect during a penitential communication.”

For Catholics, that penitential communication would be in the confessional.

“The sacrament of penance and reconciliation, what we call confession, was the first gift that Jesus gave to the world after rising from the dead,” Gomez said in his letter. “On the first Easter night, he breathed his Holy Spirit into his apostles, his first priests, and he granted them the awesome power to forgive sins in his name.

“Jesus gave us this gift so that we could always come to him, personally, to confess our sins and seek his forgiveness and the grace to continue on our Christian journey.”

Catholics confess their sins not to a man but to God - the priest “stands in the place of Jesus,” he said, and the confessor’s words are “addressed to God.”

“That is why the priest has the sacred duty to keep the seal of the confessional and never to disclose what he hears in sacramental confession for any reason,” Gomez added. “This ancient practice ensures that our confessions are always intimate communications with Jesus alone.”

He added, “We cannot allow the government to enter into our confessionals to dictate the terms of our personal relationship with Jesus. Unfortunately, that is what this legislation would do.”

Baptist pastor accused of molesting teenage relative

HOUSTON (TX)
Houston Chronicle

June 15, 2019

By Nicole Hensley

Former Grace Family Baptist Church pastor Stephen Bratton, 43, was arrested Friday and charged with continuous sexual abuse of a child.

The former pastor of a Southern Baptist church in north Harris County has been arrested in connection with an allegation that he molested a teenage relative for about two years, court records show.

Stephen Bratton, who stepped down from the Grace Family Baptist Church in Cypress Station last month, has since been released from custody at the Harris County Jail after posting a $50,000 bond.

The investigation began on May 16 after Bratton allegedly confessed to three Southern Baptist clergy members that he abused the child, according to court documents. Two of Bratton's co-pastors, Aaron Wright and Erin Frye, called the Harris County Sheriff's Office to their church on Bammel Westfield Road to take a report that same day, while the third pastor, David Shiflet, said he referred the complaint to the Department of Family Protective Services.

Bratton, 43, was charged Friday with continuous sexual abuse of a child, Senior Deputy Thomas Gilliland said Saturday.

The Catholic Church is taking solid steps worldwide to stop sexual abuse

ST. PETERSBURG (FL)
Florida Politics

June 15, 2019

By Michael Sheedy

The bishops of the United States just concluded their annual summer meeting. One of the key topics was Pope Francis’ Apostolic Motu Proprio, modifying norms in response to sexual abuse.

In her June 11 opinion piece, Sen. Lauren Book cited this directive, noting that the Holy Father’s recent directive does not include a requirement to report allegations of abuse to law enforcement.

Existing Church law in the United States already requires notifying public authorities.

The U.S. Church has had such a policy since 2002 when the bishops adopted the “Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People.”

Pope Francis’ modification applies to the universal Church worldwide and, in some countries, unfortunately, calling the police is not a safe thing to do.

The type of internal Church law outlined by Pope Francis is separate from any investigation by civil authorities. In no way does a Church investigation interfere with or replace a civil investigation.

The Motu Proprio does not replace the Charter. Rather, it strengthens protections already in place and supports current policies to create a safe environment for children and vulnerable adults, discipline offenders, and assist with healing for victims and survivors.

Since 2002, the Charter with its zero-tolerance provision, as well as requirements for background checks and safe environment training for employees and volunteers is working.

While Catholic leaders have had to confront painful, shameful yet historical failures and to facilitate healing for those harmed, the changes implemented have significantly decreased incidences of sexual abuse by clergy or church personnel.

While the bishops continue to be open to improving practices as they did in response to Pope Francis’ Moto Proprio, what the Church is doing right can help others in eliminating the scourge of sexual abuse that has harmed so many children and their families.

Advocates argue for giving victims of child sexual abuse more time to sue

RALEIGH (NC)
WRAL TV

June, 14, 2019

By Laura Leslie

A bill to extend the statute of limitations for victims of childhood sexual abuse to sue their abusers is moving forward in the state House after a passionate debate Wednesday pitting victims’ rights against concerns about business liability and false accusations.

House Bill 37 would extend the civil statute of limitations, currently at three years – a period set during the 19th century – to 20 years after a victim of child sexual abuse becomes an adult at 18.

Under criminal law, there is no statute of limitations for prosecuting child sexual abuse. But the standard of proof is higher, and prosecutors often won't take older cases because of the difficulty of presenting evidence beyond a reasonable doubt of a crime two or three or several decades old.

Rep. Dennis Riddell, R-Alamance, argued that lengthening the window to age 38 would give victims the chance to mature and settle into their own lives, which is when many begin to come to terms with abuse they suffered in childhood.

Rep. Sarah Stevens, R-Surry, tried to amend the bill to lower the age to 28, offering a 10-year window instead of 20. She said it would be "nightmare" for an accused person to prove he or she didn't commit a crime alleged to have occurred so many years ago.

Southern Baptist Convention wrestling with sex abuse crisis of its own

WASHINGTON (DC)
Catholic News Service

June 15, 2019

As the U.S. Catholic bishops met in Baltimore to discuss new mechanisms to hold themselves accountable on sex abuse, the Southern Baptist Convention was wrestling with the same vexing issue at its annual meeting June 11-12 in Birmingham, Alabama.

Rocked by media reports that revealed Southern Baptist pastors, church employees and volunteers sexually abused more than 700 people, most of them children, over the past two decades, the nation’s largest Protestant denomination took new steps to expel member churches that cover up or mishandle sexual abuse allegations.

“This was a defining moment for the Southern Baptist Convention,” said the Rev. J.D. Greear, the pastor of The Summit Church in Durham, North Carolina, who serves as president of the Southern Baptist Convention.

Greear told reporters that the Southern Baptist Convention wants to ensure that its member churches are safe environments for children and vulnerable people, and that the convention will consider “all solutions” that could include advocating for legislation to amend statute of limitations on sex abuse crimes.

Let There Be Light

WASHINGTON (DC)
Sojourners Magazine

July 2019

By Jenna Barnett

DURING REV. HEIDI Hankel’s interview for the lead pastor position at Philadelphia’s Bethesda Presbyterian Church, she learned that one of the church’s deacons was under investigation by law enforcement for allegedly sexually abusing a member of the youth group. Hankel was later offered the job.

No one would blame even the bravest of pastors for turning it down, but fortunately for that small Presbyterian church, Hankel is a reverend who likes to hop down in the trenches to be with her parishioners. She was afraid, she said, but also propelled by her faith to address the violence openly and holistically. She took the job.

“I didn’t know if they would fire me,” said Hankel. “But I felt at least I could stand before God one day and say I handled this well.”

Hankel had a simple answer for why it is so important for church leaders to loudly and actively work to prevent and address abuse: “God isn’t silent. And if God isn’t silent, we as his body—his hands and feet—should not be silent.”

During the past couple of years, silence has given way to a chorus of abuse accusations against Christian leaders across the country: More than 300 priests in Pennsylvania, 100-plus Southern Baptist youth pastors in Texas, a handful of megachurch pastors across the country. While Christians have grieved these revelations of violence, those in leadership have often prioritized the perpetrators over the victims—the reputation of the church over its mission. In summer 2018, reports emerged that the then-president of a prominent Southern Baptist Convention seminary, Paige Patterson, had counseled abuse victims to stay with their violent husbands, once advising a survivor of rape to forgive the assailant instead of reporting the violence. In response, the seminary thanked Patterson for his longstanding commitment to the SBC and appointed him president emeritus—with compensation. (A week later, after an outcry, the seminary board stripped him of that title and of all “benefits, rights, and privileges.”)

Before Hankel was hired, the pastor and appointed lay leaders of Bethesda Presbyterian had already taken a few important steps to support the victim. First, they ensured separation of the perpetrator and the victim, though this was made easy when the perpetrator submitted a formal letter of membership resignation. The church offered to pay for professional counseling for the victim and the victim’s family, which Hankel considers an important form of reparations in sexual abuse situations. And they informed the denominational leadership.

Around the time that Hankel began her position as head pastor, law enforcement’s investigation closed, with the abuser accepting a plea deal. Until that point the abuse had been kept confidential within the church’s leadership team. But after talking with the victim and the family, Hankel decided that members of the church needed to know what had happened. Without disclosing the victim’s identity or gender, Hankel called a congregational meeting to tell them how the church failed and the specific steps they would take to try to ensure no one was ever victimized again.

That was precisely the moment when Bethesda Presbyterian distinguished itself from other churches: Where other churches have tried to cover up this type of violence, relocate the perpetrator, or dismiss a leader without explanation, this small church insisted on pulling back the curtains on the abuse to bring it fully into the light. That kind of light leaves no room for ambiguity about God’s preferential favor to the vulnerable and abused. It is an Ephesians 5 kind of light: “for while it is shameful even to mention what such people do secretly, everything exposed by the light becomes visible, and everything that becomes visible is light.”

Lay groups cautious about bishops' actions to boost accountability

DENVER (CO)
Catholic News Service

June 15, 2019

Representatives of lay organizations expressed caution over the steps taken by U.S. bishops to boost accountability and transparency in dealing with clergy sexual abuse, saying future actions by the bishops will determine how successful the initiatives ultimately will be.

Full collaboration with laypeople will be the key to the success of the measures adopted by the bishops, they said in a series of statements following the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' spring general assembly in Baltimore June 11-13.

"Catholics are looking for robust actions and long-term solutions to the twin crises of abuse and leadership failures," Kim Smolik, CEO of the Leadership Roundtable, said in a June 13 statement.

"While the bishops took important initial steps, more remains to be done to address the root causes and create a new culture of leadership that values accountability, transparency and co-responsibility with clergy and laity," she said.

Catholic Priest Claims Autistic Children Are ‘Like Animals’ Caused By Porn, Masturbation, Adultery

Patheos blog

June 12, 2019

By Michael Stone

Father Dominic Valanmahal, a Catholic priest in India, is under fire after claiming that autistic children are animals caused by porn, masturbation, homosexuality, and adultery.

Father Valanmahal, a Catholic priest from the state of Kerala, recently delivered a fiery sermon where he claimed that autistic children were animals, while blaming autism and hyperactivity on parents who engage in pornography, masturbation, homosexuality, and adultery.

In his sermon Father Valanmahal asked:

Why does this generation have autism and hyperactivity? That is to say, mentally retarded children are in abundance?

Father Valanmahal continued:

Adultery, masturbation, homosexuality, porn, if you are addicted to these, I say to you in the name of God. . .when you get married and have children, there is a high possibility of bearing these type of children.

They lead an animal-like life. They copulate like animals. They bear children like animals. Therefore those children also, will be like animals.

The remarks from the insensitive and intellectually incompetent priest have been met with righteous outrage. In particular, there has been an outpouring of support for preventing Father Valanmahal from leading a Catholic retreat in Ireland.

The Irish Times reports:

An invitation sent to controversial priest Fr Dominic Valanmahal to lead a retreat in Ireland should be withdrawn, Archbishop of Dublin Diarmuid Martin has said.nHUs

Matt Chandler Proves That the Membership Covenant Is a Legal Document

Wartburg Watch

June 13, 2019

By Dee Parsons

I am still recuperating and catching up on some interesting things which will see the light in posts in the coming weeks. However, I realized that I wanted to look again at membership convenants in light of the Matt Chandler scandal in the NYT: Attorneys Boz Tchividjian and Mitch Little Help a Sex Abuse Victim in Her Quest to Hold Matt Chandler and The Village Church Accountable

Please reread the NYT (link in above post) and pay particular attention to the statements surrounding the “You can’t sue the church, you signed the *covenant.*”

I plan to write more on this subject and have someone helping compile a number of comments regarding Chandler coming out of the conference. Chandler appeared and made a statement about his *problem* at the convention that was promptly removed from the website. Thankfully, Leonardo Blair posted it on You Tube. I found Chandler’s statement to be self indulgent. Maybe that’s why the SBC removed the video. They are beginning to understand “optics.*

After viewing the video, you may want to read an old post which I added below the video. It was one of many post I wrote proving that membership covenants are legal documents to help the church prevent you from suing them when they do something really, really bad. It also allows them to do some really, really bad things to you.

In that post, if you are concerned that you have signed one of these contracts, we have a suggestion on how to get out of it.

Folks, do not sign these things. Caveat emptor and all that jazz.

When a Binding Contract With God Means Staying Silent on Sexual Abuse

NEW YORK (NY)
VICE News

June 13, 2019

Evangelical megachurches are leaning on a favorite tool of corporations to protect themselves from liability in the MeToo era.

In Alabama, leaders of the Southern Baptist Convention, the largest Protestant denomination in the country, gathered for their annual meeting, with sex abuse squarely atop the agenda. Meanwhile, 900 miles to the north, in Baltimore, US Catholic bishops met to discuss next steps in addressing the same problem, which has become a festering institutional crisis across the globe. But whereas sexual violence in the Catholic Church has been on the national radar for decades, similar crimes in the evangelical community didn't hit the mainstream until the past year or two, exploding in February with a six-part investigative series by the Houston Chronicle and San Antonio Express-News that documented 400 Southern Baptist leaders and volunteers accused of misconduct. Following the articles' release, the Southern Baptist Convention put out the "Caring Well" report, an acknowledgement of past lapses that offered some guidance on how to deal with abuse allegations. It was presented at the Tuesday meeting as well, where congregants voted on amendments aimed at curbing sexual abuse and racism.

The Southern Baptists met again Wednesday, praying at length after being inundated with horrific stories of criminal sexual abuse. But among the items some members of the faith hoped they might address was something you wouldn't expect to find in either Testament: the use of binding arbitration to settle disagreements between churches and their parishioners.

In the New York Times on Monday, Elizabeth Dias reported that The Village, one of the most prominent evangelical churches in America, has new members sign agreements containing language that could prevent them from suing, and potentially force those with complaints into binding arbitration, which almost always happens in private. Such deals, which have become well-known in recent years for helping shield corporate abuses (sexual and otherwise), have an air of relative novelty in a religious context. Certainly, it's hard to imagine Billy Graham asking someone to sign one.

Man shares allegations of abuse at hands of Albany-area priest

ALBANY (NY)
News Channel 13

June 13, 2019

For the first time ever, a 49-year-old father is going public with his story of alleged priest sex abuse decades earlier.

NewsChannel 13 exclusively obtained "complainant’s statements" submitted by Michael Harmon to the lawyers for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany, which confirmed it had forwarded to state prosecutors for review. According to Harmon’s statements, throughout his teenage years he was molested by a former priest in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany named Edward Pratt. Additionally, Harmon claims he was threatened with arrest when he went to the bishop at the time for help.

Now decades later, Harmon and others are starting to speak out as attorneys across New York State and beyond are preparing lawsuits under the recently passed Child Victims Act.

Mary DeTurris Poust, a spokeswoman for the Roman Catholic Diocese in Albany, told NewsChannel 13, "Edward Pratt was permanently removed from ministry by Bishop Howard J. Hubbard in 2002 following credible allegations of sexual abuse against minors. We continue to be horrified by reports of child sexual abuse, even years after the fact. We want to walk with survivors and try to help them bring some measure of healing to the scars we know can never be completely removed from their lives. Each time we have to revisit a story like this, we are angered and saddened anew by the way these survivors were robbed of their innocence and their childhoods, the way their families and their futures were ripped apart. Know that Bishop Edward Scharfenberger and the Diocese of Albany are actively working to do whatever we can to bring healing and justice to those who were sexually abused by clergy in this Diocese."

He wrote hundreds of poems about his abuse by a Catholic priest. Now his words are a play.

INDINAPOLIS (IN)
Indianapolis Star

June 14, 2019

By Emily Sabens

When writer Norbert Krapf returned to his home state of Indiana after spending more than 30 years in Long Island, he finally felt ready to confront the abuse he experienced from his church's priest as a young boy in Jasper.

During a one-year span, Krapf wrote 325 poems, many of which were published in his book "Catholic Boy Blues" in 2015.

"It was almost volcanic," Krapf said. "I felt like I was finally able to write about it, and the poems just kept coming over that year."

Krapf said he always pictured transforming the poems into a play. (He even mentioned it in the preface of his book.) Now, that dream is becoming a reality this weekend at IndyFringe.

The play version of "Catholic Boy Blues" features a cast of five who tell the story of James, who is based on Krapf, as he attends therapy and confronts the abuse he experienced as a child.

Winnipeg man sues Catholic archdiocese alleging sexual abuse, racial taunting at former school

WINNIPEG CANADA)
CBC News

June 14, 2019

A Winnipeg man is suing a Roman Catholic archdiocese, alleging he was sexually abused by an official at a former Catholic school more than 50 years ago.

The abuse is alleged to have taken place at the former Sainte-Marie School on Des Meurons Street in Winnipeg in September or October, 1964, when the man was a young student there.

It names the school, the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Saint Boniface and two unnamed school officials as defendants.

The plaintiff, who CBC is not naming, alleges a priest who served as the school's "spiritual advisor" made sexual advances on him, facilitated by a nun who was the plaintiff's teacher. The plaintiff doesn't know their names, the suit says.

The suit alleges the advances led to "an incident of masturbation involving the [advisor]."

The man, who is Métis, also alleges the nun publicly chastised, demeaned and humiliated him because of his heritage for the following two years, until 1966, while she was his teacher.

The sexual abuse and humiliating attacks left the man with psychological issues that continue to this day, including panic attacks and nightmares, the suit says.

The allegations have not been proven in court.

Richard Fréchette, a spokesperson for the archdiocese, confirmed Friday the organization has been served with the lawsuit.

Fréchette said in a news release, the archdiocese began an internal investigation after it was contacted by an individual who shared a story of abuse in the summer of 2018.

He said the church stands in solidarity with victims of sexual abuse.

Former Phoenix Catholic priest facing sex crime charges after fleeing US

PHOENIX (AZ)
KTAR TV

June 14, 2019

A former Phoenix Catholic priest is facing multiple sex crime charges after being returned to Maricopa County by U.S. Marshals from Italy.

Joseph John Henn, 70, is facing multiple counts of child molestation, attempted child molestation, sexual conduct with a minor and attempted sexual conduct with a minor for crimes allegedly committed in the late 1970s to early 1980s.

During the time of the reported crimes, Henn was a Father in the Salvatorian Order of the Catholic Church in Phoenix.

“Pursuing justice for crime victims is a constant source of motivation for law enforcement and prosecutors no matter how long it may take or how far we have to go,” Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery said in a press release.

“The recent arraignment of Joseph Henn illustrates our commitment to justice and further reflects the reality that neither position nor title will shield someone who harms children from accountability.”

Henn, who was originally indicted on charges in 2003, fled to Italy to avoid prosecution. He was arrested in Rome in 2005 before he was able to escape extradition.

On May 29, however, Italian law enforcement officials found Henn in Rome, taking him into custody. Deputy U.S. Marshals traveled to Rome where they took Henn back to Arizona.

“Child sexual abuse is a major issue in the United States and the world,” David Gonzales, U.S. Marshal for the District of Arizona, said in a press release.

“The United States Marshals Service will always place a high priority on assisting federal, state, local, and foreign law enforcement agencies in locating and apprehending fugitive sex offenders.”

Trial date set for Argentine priests accused of abusing deaf children

DENVER (CO)
Catholic News Agency

June 15, 2019

Two priests accused of sexually abusing minors at a school for deaf children in Argentina will stand trial Aug. 5.

The priests and a former employee at the Antonio Provolo institute will face charges of the abuse of more than 20 children, the AP noted.

One of the priests involved is Fr. Nicola Corradi, who is a member of the Company of Mary, an Italian religious community which operates schools for deaf children in several countries, including Argentina and Italy. The schools are named for Antonio Provolo, a nineteenth-century Italian priest who founded Corradi’s religious community.

Corradi was arrested in 2016 along with Fr. Horacio Corbacho and other employees in connection with the abuse allegations, and the school was closed down.

Sr. Kosako Kumiko, a religious sister with the school, was arrested in May 2017 for charges of facilitating and covering-up sexual abuse at the school. Some students have also accused the sister of sexual abuse, though she has maintained her innocence.

Corradi, now 83, was first accused of abuse in 2009, when 14 Italians reported that they had been abused by priests, religious brothers, and other adults at the Provolo Institute in Verona, over the course of several decades.

After an investigation, five priests were sanctioned by the Vatican. Corradi, then living in Argentina, was among those accused of abuse, but was not arrested or otherwise sanctioned.

In 2014, Corradi was the subject of a letter sent to Pope Francis from victims of sexual abuse who were concerned about the priests ongoing ministry, despite the accusations against him. In 2015, the group handed a list of priests accused of abuse to the Pope in person, according to the Washington Post.

The group reportedly did not hear back from Pope Francis, but did hear from a Vatican official, Archbishop Giovanni Becciu, who wrote to the group in 2016 to tell them that he had informed the Italian bishops’ conference of their request for an investigation.

Later that year, Corradi, as well as Corbacho and another employee of the school, were arrested. However, according to a Washington Post report, it was civil authorities who decided to take action against Corradi and remove his access to children, while the Church in Argentina was not fully cooperative with the investigation, according to local officials.


“I want Pope Francis to come here, I want him to explain how this happened, how they knew this and did nothing,” a 24-year-old alumna of the Provolo Institute told the Washington Post in February.

Prosecutors in the case told the Washington Post that children at the school were “fondled, raped, sometimes tied up and, in one instance, forced to wear a diaper to hide the bleeding. All the while, their limited ability to communicate complicated their ability to tell others what was happening to them. Students at the school were smacked if they used sign language.”

“They were the perfect victims,” Gustavo Stroppiana, the chief prosecutor in the case, told the Washington Post, because the students were typically from poor families and had communication limitations.

Catholics And Southern Baptists Consider How To Respond To Sex Abuse In The Church

WASHINGTON (DC)
NPR All Things Considered

June 14, 2019

By Tom Gjelten

Catholics and Southern Baptists have both faced clergy sex abuse allegations. Leaders of both denominations met this week to discuss their problems.

Ruth Krall, Religious Leader Sexual Abuse: A Pan-Denominational Approach

LITTLE ROCK (AR)
Bilgrimage blog

June 13, 2019

By William Lindsey

I recently had the privilege of publishing an essay by Ruth Krall entitled "Prolegomena: An Act of Re-Thinking" (here and here). That essay challenged readers to re-think how we've come to view the phenomenon of sexual abuse of minors and vulnerable people in religious contexts, and to consider applying terms and concepts from the realm of public health (e.g., epidemic, endemic, or pandemic) to this phenomenon.

"Prolegomena" is the first in a multi-part set of essasys on which Ruth has been working, with the title (for the entire series), "Recapitulation: Affinity Sexual Violence in a Religious Voice." In her manuscript gathering essays together under that title, Ruth includes a dedicatory note acknowleding the influence of her father Carl S. Krall on her life, work, and thought. It reads,

In Memory, Carl S. Krall, 1901-1963

Church lobbying efforts inappropriate

SUNBURY (PA)
Daily Item

June 15, 2019

The U.S. Catholic Bishops establishing their own hotline for reporting sexual abuse allegations within the Church and the Church in Pennsylvania spending millions of dollars in legislative lobbying efforts relating to legal rights for abuse victims are both inappropriate, especially in the face of evidence that more than 1,000 children were molested by hundreds of predator Roman Catholic priests in six Pennsylvania dioceses.

U.S. Catholic Bishops on Wednesday voted to establish a hotline for reporting allegations that church leaders are involved in abuse or covering up for priests. Hotline operators would relay allegations to regional supervisory bishops, according to The Associated Press.

“I’ve been completely unsatisfied with their response,” said Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro, who presented the landmark clergy abuse case to a grand jury last year.

“Their big idea was to set up a hotline coming back to the church, that’s covering up the cover-up,” he said during an interview this week with CNHI newspapers, including The Daily Item.

Shapiro also blasted church funding for efforts to sway state legislation relating to the time limits victims have to bring lawsuits against alleged abusers. New York and New Jersey, among other states, have passed laws creating avenues for adult victims of child sex abuse to file lawsuits even if the statute of limitations in their cases have expired.

Those reforms have stalled in the Pennsylvania Legislature over opposition from the insurance industry and lobbyists for the Catholic church.

“What I find unconscionable is that the bishops are lobbying to stop these reforms from passing,” Shapiro said. “They’ve spent millions of dollars of parishioners’ money to lobby lawmakers to have less accountability and less protections for victims.”qr0tronceefg

Retired judge reveals his childhood sex abuse so others will file Child Victims Act claims

ROCKLAND (NY)
Rockland/Westchester Journal News

June 13, 2019

By Nancy Cutler

Retired acting New York State Supreme Court Judge Charles Apotheker said he struggled with his decision to identify himself as a victim of accused serial sexual predator Dr. Reginald Archibald, who is believed to have abused thousands of children during his tenure as an esteemed pediatric endocrinologist at Rockefeller University Hospital.

The 72-year-old Apotheker, though, knew he could help other victims. He knew his own "outing" would make it more difficult to ignore accusations about decades of molestations by the now-deceased doctor.

"I was angry. I was angry there were naked pictures of me and hundreds of others that no one can find. I was angry for parents, like mine," said Apotheker, reflecting on his father, who died 30 years ago, and mother, who he lost five years ago, and their trust in this doctor who was so highly recommended. "They would feel so guilty."

Retired acting New York State Supreme Court Judge Charles Apotheker in his Stony Point office June 12, 2019. He was a victim of Rockefeller University Hospital Dr. Archibald, who has been accused of molesting young boys.Buy Photo
Retired acting New York State Supreme Court Judge Charles Apotheker in his Stony Point office June 12, 2019. He was a victim of Rockefeller University Hospital Dr. Archibald, who has been accused of molesting young boys. (Photo: Peter Carr/The Journal News)

So, Apotheker — a former Haverstraw Town Court and Rockland County Court judge who served in drug court and then was supervising judge for town and village justice courts in the 9th Judicial District — came forward. He wrote a compelling op/ed in the New York Law Journal that was published this month.

Apotheker remembers going on the bus with his mom, traveling from the Bronx to Rockefeller in Manhattan. He was 13 and it was around 1960. He remembers going into the hospital, into Archibald's office, posing for pictures, naked, for the doctor, who then measured his penis. Then, Apotheker said, everything goes blank. He cannot recall going home. He cannot recall another appointment with the doctor two years later. He only knows about the appointment because he petitioned to get his hospital records after he and other Archibald patients were contacted in early October 2018.

Archibald, who lived for years in Westchester County, treated approximately 9,000 children over his 40 years at Rockefeller. Like Apotheker, those children were often treated for stunted growth an

The Twisted Life and Death of a Predator Priest With a Wrestling Fetish

NEW YORK (NY)
Daily Beast

June 14, 2019

By Pilar Menendez

As a New Jersey priest in the 1970s and 1980s, John Capparelli liked to arrange wrestling matches for parish boys. He gave them skimpy Speedos to wear, took pictures of them grappling, and even joined in—using the rough-housing as an excuse to sadistically grope the kids.

“Capparelli kind of played the role of being that cool adult that you hung out with,” one of his victims, Rich Fitter, told the Daily Beast last week. “I have no doubt in my mind now that he was a sociopath.”

After his sexual abuse came to light in the late 1980s, Capparelli was sent to a rehab for clergy with sexual problems, removed from parish ministry and eventually suspended from performing priestly duties. However, he continued to teach—while secretly running a porn website that featured young wrestlers.

It took two decades and several lawsuits to finally defrock Capparelli and get him ousted from the classroom. By then, he had left New Jersey and moved to a two-bedroom home in a quiet neighborhood in Henderson, Nevada, where neighbors noticed he always had a steady stream of young male visitors.

Then, three months ago, there was a shocking development in the saga of the predator priest: He was found shot dead inside his home by police who were asked to check on the 70-year-old. The motive was initially unclear, raising the obvious question of whether his death could somehow be related to his sordid past.

The answer, it turned out, was no—and yes.

The person police say murdered Capparelli was not one of the teens he molested so many years ago. But the investigation revealed that while Capparelli had left behind New Jersey and his collar, he did not abandon his obsession with wrestling.

According to police, the disgraced clergyman was killed by a young man who answered his online ad seeking out “young and good looking men” willing to wrestle for him.

Ohio-based mission worker accused of abuse in Haiti

PITTSBURGH (PA)
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

June 13, 2019

By Peter Smith

A Haitian court is hearing allegations that a worker for a large Ohio-based international aid ministry allegedly sexually abused minors in Haiti.

Christian Aid Ministries of Berlin, Ohio — which is supported by various Mennonite, Amish and related groups — said in a statement Tuesday it became aware of “serious allegations” against the worker several weeks ago, when it “promptly discharged” him. It said it has been cooperating with authorities.

The ministry said the alleged perpetrator -- which the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette has separately confirmed to be Jeriah Mast -- left Haiti for the United States amid the allegations. He has not yet appeared before the Haitian court in the city of Petit-Goave to face the allegations.

“We understand that the individual made a confession to leaders in his local church in the U.S. and has reported himself to Ohio state legal authorities,” the Christian Aid Ministries statement said.

Mr. Mast’s church in Holmes County, Ohio, confirmed his confession in a statement Wednesday.

“He confessed multiple instances of immoral sexual relationships with boys, which began in his youth,” the online statement from Shining Light Christian Fellowship said. “He acknowledged to living a life of deception and hypocrisy. He also confessed that he lied to cover up his sins.”

Mr. Mast also met with local law enforcement in Holmes County, the church said, and provided investigators with the names of his victims. Holmes County is home to Christian Aid Ministries and to Ohio’s largest concentration of conservative Mennonites and Amish.

The church statement said that Mr. Mast is no longer allowed to be alone with boys, is going to a licensed counselor for treatment and will be “accounted for at all times” by a support team.

Catholic Church compensation fund for N.J. victims opens this weekend

PHILADELPHIA (PA)
WHYY Radio

June 14, 2019

By Joe Hernandez

A compensation fund for New Jersey victims of sexual abuse in the Roman Catholic Church will begin accepting claims on Saturday.

The first-of-its-kind fund in the Garden State will offer financial settlements to survivors of clergy sex abuse and comes amid an investigation by state Attorney General Gurbir Grewal into possible sexual abuse and cover-ups in the Catholic Church.

“Some survivors are really intimidated by a court proceeding process. You have to really think about the traumatic impact this sort of institutional abuse has had on someone,” said Patricia Teffenhart, executive director of the New Jersey Coalition Against Sexual Assault.

“On the other hand, not all survivors will want to go back to the institution that caused them harm,” she added.

Kentucky man files complaint against Owensboro Bishop

OWENSBORO (KY)
WEHT TV

June 14, 2019

By Amanda Mueller

A Bowling Green man has filed a complaint with the Vatican against Diocese of Owensboro Bishop William Medley.

The Survivors Network of victims abused by Priests, or SNAP, presented the details in a news conference in Owensboro on Friday.

The complaint questions Bishop Medley's actions while he served as the personnel director for the Diocese of Louisville in the 1990's.

"A moment of silence to remember our brothers and sisters [...] who are no longer with us."

The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests asked for a moment of silence for victims before calling for action.

"We're calling on the Kentucky Attorney General to launch a statewide investigation into clergy sex crimes and coverups here," stated Missouri SNAP director David Clohessy.

The call comes after Michael Montgomery of Bowling Green filed a formal complaint, alleging Owensboro Bishop William Medley was "complicit in the covering up of abuse of the diocese's children by assisting in assigning priests with credible allegations of sexual abuse to positions where children were expected to be involved."

"To sit up there, and not address these... the statute of limitations is long gone," said Montgomery.

The accusations stem from memos Medley sent during his time in the Diocese of Louisville.

One of those memos discusses placement of Father Joseph Stoltz who was receiving treatment at the time.

The memo reads in part "I think if we wanted to unofficially assign him to Saint William, pending the outcome of his six month therapy, he might be open to this."

It goes on to say "Given Joe's history, Saint William might be a very good assignment, in that there are so few youth and children who participate in that parish."

SNAP and Montgomery also allege that two priests were left off the list of "credibly accused priests" released by the Owensboro Diocese in April.

More charges of inappropriate touching aimed at Vatican envoy to France

ROME (ITALY)
Crux

June 15, 2019

By Claire Giangravè

More people have come forward to accuse Archbishop Luigi Ventura, the papal representative to France, of inappropriate behavior and groping. The Vatican diplomat currently is entrenched in a scandal after three men accused him of the same behavior earlier this year.

“We spoke with the Nuncio and he kept putting his hands on our legs while speaking with us, especially to the youngest priests who were with me,” said one alleged victim in a phone interview with Crux June 13.

The meeting took place in November 2018 at the Vatican’s embassy in Paris. The man was accompanied by a deacon and a priest, who at first thought that Ventura’s behavior “could have been normal” and even “paternal.”

However, when the time came to take a picture, the nuncio’s intentions became clear.

“I took my mobile phone, to see what the perfect angle was to take the picture. He came behind me as if to look at how the picture was. That’s when he put his hands on my buttocks for about five seconds,” said the man, who wishes to remain anonymous.

“I was so shocked I couldn’t react,” he added.

An Italian, Ventura was appointed as a papal representative to France in September 2009 by emeritus Pope Benedict XVI.

The incident at the nunciature is similar to that described by Paris City Hall employee Mathieu de La Souchère, 27, who was the first to come forward accusing Ventura of inappropriate touching during a January 2019 New Year’s Eve event.

“When Monsignor Ventura’s car arrived, I came to pick him up and he started saying that I looked very beautiful, that he thought I was a very handsome man and he kept groping me,” De La Souchère told Crux in a June 12 phone interview.

“He did so with insistence, it wasn’t something nice. He was very determinate,” he said, adding that the event to him qualified as sexual abuse.

De La Souchère claims to have been groped on the buttocks three times by Ventura. The first time when he greeted the nuncio at his car, the second while going up the elevator and the third time as he accompanied the bishop toward the mayor’s office, where - being the veteran diplomat - he was supposed to initiate the celebrations.

The last time, there were four eyewitnesses who work at Paris City Hall who claim to have seen the groping take place.

“He was groping. There was no doubt about that,” one of the eyewitnesses told Crux, “we could not believe it.”

When it comes to church reform, despair is not an option

KANSAS CITY (MO)
National Catholic Reporter

June 15, 2019

By Christine Schenk

During this season of Pentecost I find myself searching for hope in the midst of horrific stories about financial corruption by a West Virginia bishop, priests who raped and sexually abused my religious sisters, and bishops from eight states in the Northeast who spent over 10 million dollars lobbying against sex abuse victims.

I am outraged to learn that Baltimore Archbishop William Lori — who was delegated by the Vatican to investigate Wheeling-Charleston Bishop Michael Bransfield — had accepted over $10,500 in gifts from him. In his final report to Rome, Lori decided to delete his own name as well as those of ten other influential prelates who had also accepted financial gifts from the Wheeling bishop.

Bransfield bestowed his monetary gifts over ten years while young priest assistants were simultaneously complaining (to no avail) that he was sexually harassing them.

Lori told the Washington Post that if he had included the names of high-ranking churchmen (among whom were Cardinals Donald Wuerl, Timothy Dolan and Kevin Farrell) it could suggest that there were "expectations for reciprocity" but he had found "no evidence to suggest this."

After the Washington Post story, nine of the prelates involved, including Lori, pledged to return the money to the Wheeling-Charleston diocese.

Along with the still-unfinished scandal involving defrocked Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, it is difficult to ignore ever-mounting evidence that the clerical system governing the Catholic church is in a significant state of decay.

Why the fluff piece on the (alleged) child abuser?

BAKERFIELD (CA)
Bakersfield Californian

June 15, 2019

By Robert Price

Reader: This article ("Suspended priest Craig Harrison, back from self-exile, formulates his defense," June 9) is a load of crap. Once again Robert Price is doing Monsignor Craig Harrison’s bidding. Is this what The Californian is about now? Trying to protect an alleged child predator before the investigation even completes?

Has this paper ever, in its entire history, gone to interview a person suspected of child abuse before charges were filed to see how they are handling the suspicion and planning out their defense? Of course not. This is absolutely, mind numbingly, insane.

This paper and reporter have zero credibility. So done.

Tell me what the purpose of this article was, if not to give Craig some helpful, fluffy PR? Literally, what are the need-to-know facts this hot take is dishing us? Nothing. That’s what.

— Bran Ram, from Facebook

Price: If I'm doing Monsignor Harrison's bidding (once again?), it has to be news to him. For the two weeks prior to that column's publication, I had been trying to convince him, through his attorney, to sit down with me and talk about his circumstances. He finally agreed, but with no small amount of trepidation. I guess you could say he relented and did my bidding.

You might be correct that The Californian has never interviewed a person suspected of child abuse before charges were filed. Why? Because we rarely learn about cases of alleged child abuse until after charges are filed. That's what makes this case unique and therefore, in my mind, worthy of special attention. Harrison has not been charged but, as your words seem to confirm, has been saddled with a presumption of guilt. The aspect of the story that struck me was the extrajudicial limbo in which he finds himself. Guilty or innocent, his life is in a holding pattern. My intent was to portray that state of affairs. Not paint him innocent, not paint him guilty -- just illustrate his awkward purgatory.

Reader: What an absolutely pathetic article. Are there now six victims or just five? Are there unknown victims? How deep is the investigation going? But yet, The Californian wants to support the alleged suspect and to hell with all the victims.

— Steve Loftus, from Facebook

Price: The Californian wants to support the alleged suspect and to hell with all the victims? Well, we'd better make some changes because the weight of "con" stories vs. "pro" is way out of whack.

By my count we have published 20 staff-written articles that provide details or background on one or more of the accusations against Harrison. We broke the story in the first place. We tracked down and were the first to interview the two men whose accusations precipitated Harrison's suspension. Parishioners and other supporters of Harrison's were every bit as livid about that coverage, especially the work of reporter Stacey Shepard, as today's critics appear to be.

By my count we have published four staff-written articles that shed a different light on the situation without dwelling on the specifics of the accusations. One was our coverage of the rally of support held at Harrison's parish. Our story mentioned the anti-abuse demonstrators who showed up for the occasion, so it was hardly a strictly pro-Harrison story, even though I'll label it as one for our present purposes. Another was my interview with Roy Keenan, one of Harrison's sons, whose personal story is tragically harrowing in its own right. Another was Harrison's statement about the accusations against him. And now we've got the column of mine you're referencing.

Twenty to four might indeed strike many as biased — in precisely the opposite direction you suggest.

Reader: Bakersfield Californian, stop doing spin stories on this man. It's clear you have some hidden reason. He is accused of sexually abusing children and you do stories on him like he is the victim. Sick and tired of hearing about this person.

— Linda Flores, from Facebook

Price: As soon as you come up with the hidden reason, please share.

I'm sorry you're sick and tired of hearing about Craig Harrison. One like-minded reader phoned me to declare that no one is interested in hearing more about him (even though she said she read every word of that column herself). The fact is, this Craig Harrison-comes-home column is one of The Californian's most-read stories of the year thus far. Our analytics show readership in Ao Nang, Thailand; Medellin, Colombia; Melbourne, Australia; the Santuario di Bom Jesus di Monte pilgrimage site in Portugal; Minato, Tokyo, Japan; the Borgomanero commune of northern Italy; and Budapest, Hungary. Including North America, I count five continents.

•••

Reader: Thanks for your article about Monsignor Craig. It was interesting and well written. I am a casual friend of Monsignor Craig and a strong supporter. I am very concerned that revealing that he is "living in his home on 20th street in Bakersfield" (with a photo) may lead some anti-Catholic, anti-Craig person to go there.

-- Allan Wilson

Price: Fair point. The photo caption specified his street; my story was more vague about the location of his home. Perhaps the caption should have been fuzzier, but there are probably a hundred houses on Harrison's very long street. Our standard phrasing in reporting locations is, for example, the 100 block of Maple Street – but that's for crime stories and obviously this is a different animal.

2 Catholic orders name 65 priests accused or convicted of abuse; 27 served in Arizona

PHOENIX (AZ)
Arizona Republic

June 15, 2019

By Lauren Castle

Two Catholic religious orders recently released lists naming 65 clergy accused of sexual abuse against minors dating back decades; 27 of the men served in Arizona.

The newly released information comes as American bishops met this week in Baltimore for a conference that focused on how to respond to the church's sex-abuse crisis, which has increasingly caught the attention of state prosecutors across the U.S.

The Franciscan Friars of the Province of Saint Barbara, based in Oakland, California, released its list of credible abuse claims in late May. The claims stretch as far back as the 1930s, and the most recent claim is from the 1980s. More than two dozen on the list had assignments in Arizona, from St. Mary's in Phoenix to St. Xavier del Bac near Tucson. Most of the accused have long since died.

In a letter, Father David Gaa, provincial minister for the Franciscan Friars of Saint Barbara, said the list is a commitment to transparency and accountability. "The victims, their families, and the People of God deserve transparency," the letter says.

A Catholic religious order that founded University of Notre Dame and Holy Cross College in Indiana released a list of credible sex abuse claims involving minors on Wednesday. The Congregation of Holy Cross' list dates back to the 1940s.

Two of the accused clergy served in Phoenix.

"Over the last two decades, but particularly in the last year, we have all become more aware of the problem of sexual abuse of children within the Catholic Church and its mishandling," Rev. William Lies, the provincial superior of the order, said in a letter published with the list.

New Jersey governor didn't let his Catholic faith prevent doing right by sex-abuse victims

DES MOINES (IA)
Des Moines Register

June 13, 2019

By Rekha Basu

I recently got to meet and talk to the New Jersey governor, who last month signed a law that this column has repeatedly advocated for in Iowa. It greatly increases the statute of limitations for victims to file suit over sex offenses committed when they were children.

Currently in Iowa, lawsuits must be brought within four years from the time someone discovers they were sexually abused and harmed by it. New Jersey victims will, as of December, have seven years from when they first realized the harm they suffered from such abuses – up to age 55. They are currently limited to age 20 and two years from that recognition.

In Iowa, where civil claims must be brought within four years of discovering the abuse and injury, state Sen. Janet Petersen (D-Des Moines) has repeatedly attempted to raise the time frame to 25 years after a victim turns 18. She says research shows the average child victim comes forward only at 52. She has been urged on by numerous Iowa victims of child sexual abuse, but has met with intransigence from the Legislature's Republican majority.

The executive director of the Iowa Catholic Conference, Tom Chapman, has lobbied against the civil limitations bill, emailing a Register reporter that "The passage of time makes it difficult for any accused person or institution to defend themselves."

The Iowa Catholic Conference also registered in opposition to a change in state law on sex abuse by a counselor, therapist or school employee. It currently requires claims to be filed within five years of ending therapy or leaving school, but Petersen had tried to get any limit removed if the victim was under 18.

When a Binding Contract With God Means Staying Silent on Sexual Abuse

NEW YORK (NY)
VICE News

June 14, 2019

God had a busy Tuesday this week.

In Alabama, leaders of the Southern Baptist Convention, the largest Protestant denomination in the country, gathered for their annual meeting, with sex abuse squarely atop the agenda. Meanwhile, 900 miles to the north, in Baltimore, US Catholic bishops met to discuss next steps in addressing the same problem, which has become a festering institutional crisis across the globe. But whereas sexual violence in the Catholic Church has been on the national radar for decades, similar crimes in the evangelical community didn't hit the mainstream until the past year or two, exploding in February with a six-part investigative series by the Houston Chronicle and San Antonio Express-News that documented 400 Southern Baptist leaders and volunteers accused of misconduct. Following the articles' release, the Southern Baptist Convention put out the "Caring Well" report, an acknowledgement of past lapses that offered some guidance on how to deal with abuse allegations. It was presented at the Tuesday meeting as well, where congregants voted on amendments aimed at curbing sexual abuse and racism.

The Southern Baptists met again Wednesday, praying at length after being inundated with horrific stories of criminal sexual abuse. But among the items some members of the faith hoped they might address was something you wouldn't expect to find in either Testament: the use of binding arbitration to settle disagreements between churches and their parishioners.

June 14, 2019

The Catholic Church Still Isn’t There on Abuse Prevention

Patheos blog

May 30, 2019

By Libby Lane

Two stories came across my radar earlier this month. Each dealt with different aspects of what the Catholic Church is (and is not) doing on preventing child sexual abuse. The upshot is this: the Church is still dragging its heals. Preventing child sexual abuse and holding abusers accountable is simply not on the top of their priority list. Instead, they’re prioritizing things like protecting the Church from local hostility, and ensuring that penitents have access to confession and the forgiveness it brings, without having to face legal consequences for their actions.

First, there was this article:

Pope Francis issues groundbreaking law requiring priests, nuns to report sex abuse, cover-up

The law mandates that the world’s 415,000 Catholic priests and 660,000 religious sisters inform church authorities when they have “well-founded motives to believe” abuse has occurred.

This is good, right? Well, sort of. The problem is that this new regulation still does not require priests to report sexual abuse (including sexual abuse of children) to local law enforcement. No, really. Have a look:

The law doesn’t require them to report to police. The Vatican has long argued that doing so could endanger the church in places where Catholics are a persecuted minority. But it does for the first time put into universal church law that they must obey civil reporting requirements where they live, and that their obligation to report to the church in no way interferes with that.

Reporting child sexual abuse … could endanger the church? This logic seems suspect to me. Maybe don’t abuse children if you’re worried that civil authorities will be angry with you for abusing children.

The regulation says that the priests and other Catholic Church employees must obey civil reporting requirements where they’re located. Okay. However, many countries don’t have mandatory reporting laws. Additionally, it seems odd to me that one universal organization could have such different rules on something like reporting child sexual abuse. Isn’t part of the point that you can walk into any Catholic Church in the world and find the same prayers, the same rituals, the same format and structure? Why not have something universal here, as well?

Look, I’m glad that priests and nuns will now be required to report suspicions of abuse to church authorities. But I don’t for a minute trust those authorities to do the right thing with that information.

Case in point, the next article. This is an article in a Catholic newspaper. It’s written by Bishop Robert Barron of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles. Barron is upset about a bill before the legislature in California.

SB 360, a piece of proposed legislation currently making its way through the California state senate, should alarm not only every Catholic in the country, but indeed the adepts of any religion. In California, as in almost every other state, clergy members (along with a variety of other professionals, including physicians, social workers, teachers, and therapists) are mandated reporters — which is to say, they are legally required to report any case of suspected child abuse or neglect to law enforcement. However, California clergy who come by this knowledge in the context of “penitential communication” are currently exempted from the requirement. SB 360 would remove the exemption.

Oh lord. Seriously?

A letter from Bishop James P. Powers

SUPERIOR (WI)
Catholic Herald

June 14, 2019

As Bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Superior, I reach out with sympathy to offer my apologies on behalf of the Catholic Church for the clergy sexual abuse of the past in our Diocese. I am committed to a “no cover-up” policy for any report of abuse, and am working toward a transparency disclosure list of abuser priests in our Diocese.

In response to the State of Wisconsin and Lincoln County notices that David Malsch has been approved by the court to be released from his custodial treatment, I again offer my sincere apologies to the many victims and their families who suffered abuse by the former Fr. Malsch. As Bishop I fully support the law enforcement work and court system’s accountability and incarceration of Mr. Malsch for the past 26 years.

David Malsch is no longer a Catholic priest. When the allegations were made against David Malsch in 1993, a diocesan priest and other professionals immediately reported him to the proper legal authorities, and cooperated with law enforcement and diocesan investigations. David Malsch was removed immediately from priestly and parish ministry, and has never functioned again as a priest. He was laicized by the Congregation for Clergy in Rome, Italy, in response to the Diocese of Superior petition, and his priestly faculties were removed permanently. He was charged, prosecuted and convicted in 1993 in Marathon County (Wausau), and was sentenced to prison and custodial treatment by the judge for the Child Enticement felony crime he committed.

Bishop-elect in Chile resigns after controversial statements on sex abuse crisis

ROME (ITALY)
Crux

June 14, 2019

By Ines San Martin

Pope Francis has accepted the resignation of an auxiliary bishop-elect in Santiago, Chile, after he made controversial comments on the sexual abuse crisis, women in the Church, and the Jewish community.

“The Holy Father has accepted the resignation of Father Carlos Eugenio Irarrázaval Errázuriz as auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of Santiago,” said a statement released by the local church.

“The decision was fruit of a dialogue and joint discernment, in which Pope Francis has valued the spirit of faith and humility of the priest, in favor of unity and the good of the pilgrimage church in Chile,” it continued.

Santiago has been hard-hit by the clerical sexual abuse scandal, with its two former archbishops being subpoenaed by local prosecutors to give testimony after being accused of covering up cases of abuse.

Irarrázaval got into trouble just one day after his appointment in late May, when he said there’s no benefit in continuing to stir the pot - using the local colloquialism “stirring reheated rice is worthless” - when it comes to the abuse scandals in Chile.

This caused uproar among survivors of clerical sexual abuse.

But he didn’t stop there: The following day, in an interview with CNN Chile, he said that “since there was no woman seated at the table in the Last Supper” they had no role in the Church. According to Irarrázaval, this was a choice Jesus made, and not “for ideological reasons.”

Statement of Adam Horowitz, attorney for a second woman accusing Msgr. Michael Matusak of sexual abuse

GREENSBURG (PA)
Law firm of Adam Horowitz

June 14, 2019

On June 12, 2019, the Diocese of Greensburg announced the voluntary retirement of Msgr. Michael Matusak, a priest accused of sexually abusing a minor child, as detailed in the August 2018 grand jury report. The Diocese says that Matusak's age - not the allegation of abuse - is what led to his retirement, even though he should have been stripped of his faculties and title long ago after the Diocese determined that the allegation was credible in 2018.

But why didn't Bishop Malesic tell the public that there is at least one more allegation of sexual abuse against Matusak? In March of this year, the Diocese was made aware of a second claim of abuse by a woman who says that she was sexually abused by Matusak from 1973 to 1976 while he was a deacon preparing for his ordination at St. Hedwig in Smock, and continuing after Matusak's ordination as a priest. The woman also says that Matusak stalked and harassed her for nearly 20 more years, even telling her that he would leave the priesthood for her.

Withholding this kind of information from the public is misleading and dangerous. It undermines the credibility of the woman whose allegation was identified in the grand jury report by continuing to present it as a "he-said, she-said," when there is additional evidence to suggest that Matusak is a danger to children. This is another example of America's bishops failing at their promises of transparency and openness - and the importance of the public and the media in holding them accountable. Public safety depends upon it and survivors deserve better.

Victims' group wants Catholic Archdiocese to update list of clergy abuse

DETROIT (MI)
Detroit Free Press

June 12, 2019

By Niraj Warikoo

An advocacy group that monitors abuse by Catholic Church leaders called upon the Archdiocese of Detroit on Tuesday to update its list of priests accused of sexual abuse, saying it needs to do more to alert the public about problems with clergy.

Gathering outside the office of the Archdiocese of Detroit, leaders with Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP) said that the Archdiocese has not done enough to publicly name priests facing credible abuse allegations.

In March, SNAP held a news conference outside the archdiocesan office in Detroit, saying there were 28 additional Catholic priests that should be on the public list. SNAP said the Archdiocese has not moved quickly enough to add more priests to the list, a claim the Archdiocese denies.

"There are more names that should be on the list," Jeanne Hunton, the new Michigan director for SNAP, told the Free Press. "The longer those people go unnamed, the longer victims will be victimized."

SNAP also called upon state legislators in Michigan to not cut funding for the office of Attorney General Dana Nessel, who is leading investigations into Catholic clergy abuse in Michigan. And SNAP said that drug charges should be filed against a former Catholic priest in Michigan accused of abuse.

10 steps US Catholic bishops promise to take to finally end sexual abuse crisis

WASHINGTON (DC)
Religion News Service

June 14, 2019

By Daniel Burke

It's been a rough year for the Catholic bishops in the United States.

Several -- including a former cardinal -- have been accused of sexual harassment and other misconduct. Other bishops have allegedly covered up the sins and crimes of other clergy.

Since the sexual abuse crisis escalated last summer, more than one in four of Americans Catholics say they have scaled back Mass attendance or cut donations to their parish, according to a new survey by the Pew Research Center.

This week, at their annual meeting in Baltimore, the bishops said they've received the message.

Victims blast Nashville Catholic bishop

NASHVILLE (TN)
Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests

Four clerics are left off ‘accused’ priest list

Both were deemed ‘credibly accused’ by their bosses

SNAP: “How many other predators are still being hidden?”

Support group also wants Catholic high school field re-named

It honors a church official who ‘ignored or hid’ abuse reports, man says

Tennessee attorney general should investigate 3 dioceses, SNAP argues

WHAT:
Holding signs and childhood photos at a sidewalk news conference, clergy molestation victims will disclose that two credibly accused predator priests

--have spent time in the Nashville area,

--attracted no public attention here, and

--are NOT on the Nashville diocese’s ‘accused’ clergy list.

They will blast Nashville Catholic officials for the omissions, question how many other predators are still being hidden, and insist that the bishop post a FULL list of priests, brothers, nuns, seminarians, and bishops who have violated others (and include their whereabouts, photos and full work histories).

The victims will also prod local Catholic officials to re-name an athletic field that honors a once high-ranking priests who, they say, ignored or hid clergy sex crimes.

Finally, they'll also urge anyone else who saw, suspected or suffered clergy sex crimes or cover ups to “come forward, speak up, get help and call police, so that a predator or enabler might be charged, convicted and jailed, which would make kids safer.”

Man files unusual formal complaint vs. bishop

OWENSBORO (KY)
Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests

June 14, 2019

Bowling Green “cradle Catholic” worries about abuse

Clergy sex victims enthusiastically endorse his effort

They also want Owensboro ‘accused cleric’ list expanded

SNAP: Local church official leave some alleged predators off

Group divulges ‘two credibly accused’ priests who worked here

SNAP: “They’re ‘under the radar’ & may have hurt local kids too”

“Victims, witnesses should call KY state politicians,” group says

WHAT

Holding signs and childhood photos at a sidewalk news conference, two Kentucky men and a nationally known clergy sex abuse victims will:

--disclose that a disillusioned Bowling Green Catholic is filing a rare, ten page formal complaint about Owensboro’s bishop with the Vatican,

--disclose for the first time that at least two credibly accused predator priests worked in the Owensboro area are but have attracted no public attention here and are NOT on the diocese’s official ‘credibly accused’ list.

They will also prod

--Owensboro’s Catholic bishop to add these names to his “accused” clergy list, and

--anyone who saw, suspected or suffered clergy sex crimes or cover ups in Kentucky to contact lawmakers about conducting a statewide investigation into this crisis.

USCCB Reform Will Fail Without Complete Transparency and Lay Involvement

ST. LOUIS (MO)
Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests

June 13, 2019

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops has now formally agreed to the “Metropolitan Plan,” a proposed measure for accountability for bishops.

This plan is ostensibly a new policy designed to ensure bishops are held accountable for mishandling cases of clergy sex abuse. But while the policy is new, the tenets are old: this model would rely on internal reporting of impropriety, internal investigation into those claims, and internal punishments to be meted out.

The glaring and obvious flaw in every one of these measures is that they do not require, much less acknowledge, that all allegations of misconduct should be forwarded immediately to civil law enforcement in whatever state these alleged acts have occurred. This includes any information obtained by the new “third person” hotline that has been created.

As it stands, church officials have so far refused to mandate lay involvement – instead leaving it up to each Metropolitan to decide – and have not yet said if every allegation received will be routed to police. Without these mandates, there is no guarantee that reports will be routed to police and investigations will be transparent and public. Instead, all reports can remain secret and insulated within the church’s internal systems.

Clergy abuse survivors and advocates have for years been asking for some system of reporting bishops that does not rely on internal church structures. While the Metropolitan model allows for reporting of wrongdoing by bishops, it is only a half-measure.

Victim groups want state AG's, US DOJ to Review Bishops Abuse "measures" passed in Baltimore this morning

ST. LOUIS (MO)
Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests

June 13, 2019

In letter to top law enforcement officials across the US, survivors concerned that bishops "self-policing" policy will continue abuse and cover ups.

This morning, the US Bishops in Baltimore passed an new internal policy church which they claim will finally hold abuser bishops and bishops who have covered up sex crimes accountable for potential criminal conduct. The new measures, victims say, do not recognize and are in potential violation of US state and federal laws. Currently 20 US attorneys general and the US Department of Justice are actively investigating church officials for abuse and cover up of sex crimes.

"What the bishops pass today in Baltimore absolutely needs a larger review from state and US law enforcement officials,” said Peter Isely, Founding Member of Ending Clergy Abuse Global. “It is stunning that the bishops have once again under the euphemism of 'reform' created yet one more iteration of a self-policing mechanism that does little but protect and hide criminal abusers and complicit bishops from justice."

According to the measures passed by the bishops today, criminal evidence of abuse and cover up will continue to be directed to the Vatican and under the authority of the Pope and the Holy See, not US law.

Letter from SNAP and ECA sent to AGs Investigating Clergy Abuse

WASHINGTON (DC)
SNAP/Ending Clergy Abuse

June 14, 2019

To the Attorneys General currently investigating cases of clergy sex abuse,

We are leaders of two of the United States’ foremost groups dealing with the issue of clergy sex abuse. While our organizations personnel and makeup may differ, we stand together in order to support survivors of clerical abuse and to advocate for change that prevents future cases of abuse from ever occurring in the first place.

For decades, we have heard promises from church officials regarding their efforts to clean-up the culture of cover-up and abuse that has permeated the Catholic Church. Yet it has been the actions taken by you that has finally given us hope for true, meaningful reform.

This week in Baltimore, America’s bishops gathered together and approved several changes in their internal policies related to sexual abuse. True to what we have seen in the past, these changes include no specific involvement from secular officials concerning sex crimes by clergy and church officials, and do not require the reporting of allegations to local, state or federal law enforcement. These measures, in effect, further codify and cement a system of internal reporting and investigation that could impede current investigations you are conducting. Once again, under the euphemism of 'reform,' church leaders in the U.S. have created, as they have for years, another iteration of a self-policing mechanism that does little but protect and hide criminal abusers and complicit bishops from justice.

Ex-Maryknoll priest faces sexual abuse allegation in religious order previously cited

ROCKLAND (NY)
Rockland/Westchester Journal News

June 13, 2019

By Frank Esposito

A new filing in New York Supreme Court alleges a former Maryknoll priest in Westchester County abused a young boy for about eight years throughout the 1960s.

But this case is different.

Ralph Gallagher, the victim, took his own life. Now his family is taking action on his behalf.

The alleged perpetrator, Ed Flanagan, a priest who served at the Church of Saint John and Saint Mary in Chappaqua, died in 2016.

Now attorney Barbara Hart, of Lowey Dannenberg in White Plains, is asking for a third party to be brought in to keep track of records and notify other potential victims about the case.

This latest filing on June 7 comes after the February signing of the Child Victims Act. The act provides a one-year, one-time-only period to seek civil action, regardless of how long ago the abuse occurred.

That window to file opens in August, but this filing asks that the court appoint a special third-party to preserve records and assume other related duties.

Chilean auxiliary bishop-elect steps down after controversial statements

DENVER (CO)
Catholic News Agency

June 14, 2019

By Hannah Brockhaus

Pope Francis has accepted the resignation of Fr. Carlos Eugenio Irarrázaval Errazuriz as auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of Santiago de Chile. Irarrázaval was criticized last month for some polemical statements about the Jewish people.

Irarrázaval, 53, was named an auxiliary of Santiago May 22, and his episcopal consecration was scheduled to take place July 16.

A June 14 statement from the Santiago archdiocese said Irarrázaval will continue in his role as a parish priest at Sacred Heart of Jesus church in Providencia, an outer suburb of Santiago.

The decision for Irarrázaval to resign “was the fruit of dialogue and joint discernment, in which Pope Francis valued the spirit of faith and humility of the priest, in favor of the unity and good of the Church that is a pilgrim in Chile,” according to the statement.

Irarrázaval apologized to the Jewish community at the end of May after he made some controversial statements in an interview with CNN Chile May 23.

In the interview, the priest was asked about the role of women in the Church, to which he said: “we all have to ensure that they can do what they may want to do. Obviously, Jesus Christ marked out for us certain guidelines, and if we want to be the Church of Jesus Christ, we have to be faithful to Jesus Christ.”

“Jewish culture is a male dominated culture to this day,” he continued. “If you see a Jew walking down the street, the woman goes ten steps behind. But Jesus Christ breaks with that pattern. Jesus Christ converses with women, converses with the adulteress, with the Samaritan woman. Jesus Christ let women care for him.”

U.S. bishops take action to respond to church abuse crisis

WASHINGTON (DC)
Catholic News Service

June 14, 2019

During the June 11-13 spring assembly of the U.S. bishops in Baltimore, it was clear the bishops had to respond to the sexual abuse crisis in the church -- and on the last day of their gathering they approved a series of procedures to begin this process.

On June 13, they voted to implement the document "Vos Estis Lux Mundi" ("You are the light of the world"), issued by Pope Francis in May to help the Catholic Church safeguard its members from abuse and hold its leaders accountable.

The bishops also approved the document "Acknowledging Our Episcopal Commitments" and promised to hold themselves accountable to the commitments of the charter, including a zero-tolerance policy for abuse. The document says any codes of conduct in their respective dioceses regarding clergy apply to bishop as well.

They voted in favor of the item "protocol regarding available nonpenal restrictions on bishops," which outlines what canonical options are available to bishops when a retired bishop resigns or is removed "due to sexual misconduct with adults or grave negligence of office, or where subsequent to his resignation he was found to have so acted or failed to act."

Their first action was a vote June 12 to authorize the implementation of a third-party system that would allow people to make confidential reports of abuse complaints against bishops through a toll-free telephone number and online. The system, which would be operated by an outside vendor contracted by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, should be in place no later than May 31, 2020.

Open letter criticizes diocese for approach to scandals

MORGANTOWN (WV)
The Dominion Post

June 13, 2019

By David Beard

A group called Lay Catholic Voices for Change has submitted a letter to the Rev. William Lori, Archbishop of Baltimore and Apostolic Administrator of the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston, expressing its outrage over the sex abuse and financial mismanagement scandals currently troubling the diocese.

The 44 signatories from 19 churches claim their right to participate in crafting solutions to the problems and spell out five areas with specific recommendations for change. They seek Lori’s response to the letter by June 28.

They have also publicly released the letter in the form of an online petition at change.org and are encouraging fellow Catholics from the diocese to sign on in support.

They say, “We have associated ourselves in response to the sexual abuse scandal, which we see as linked to a broad crisis of political and financial corruption within our Diocese and throughout the Church, to the detriment of clergy and laypeople alike. … We are outraged that the scandal of clergy sex abuse in our Church has been prolonged and perpetuated by coverups in the DWC. We are also troubled and appalled by the coverup in our diocese of Bishop Bransfield’s outrageous spending.”

Bryan Singer Will Pay $150,000 to Settle Lawsuit Over Allegedly Raping a 17-Year-Old

UNITED STATES
Slate

June 13, 2019

By Matthew Dessem

Bohemian Rhapsody director Bryan Singer has agreed to pay $150,000 to settle a lawsuit alleging that he raped Cesar Sanchez-Guzman in 2003, the Los Angeles Times reports. Sanchez-Guzman, who was 17 at the time of the alleged assault, wrote in his complaint that he was attending a party on Lester Waters’ yacht when Singer lured him into a private room, forced him to perform oral sex, performed oral sex on him, and raped him, despite his protests. Singer has consistently and flatly denied Sanchez-Guzman’s claims, saying he didn’t know him at all.

The settlement was the product of negotiations between Singer’s attorneys and Sanchez-Guzman’s bankruptcy trustee Nancy James, not Sanchez-Guzman himself. Singer’s accuser filed for bankruptcy in 2014; when he sued Singer three years later, his bankruptcy trustee reopened his case on the grounds that his creditors had an interest in the proceeds, if there were any. In a filing on Wednesday, James recommended the court approve a settlement of $150,000, noting that Sanchez-Guzman had not produced any evidence he attended the 2003 party. Singer’s attorneys said in a statement that agreeing to the settlement was a business decision, not an admission of guilt:

'Silenced' children of priests to share stories with French bishops

FRANCE
BBC News

June 13, 2019

Children of Roman Catholic priests who felt "silenced" by the Church for decades will share their stories with bishops in Paris for the first time.

Bishops will meet members of the French association Les Enfants du Silence (The Children of Silence) on Thursday.

At their own request, the sons and daughters of priests will speak about their fathers, neglect and suffering.

Their existence is a sensitive issue for the Church, which expects priests to adhere to a strict rule of celibacy.

In an unprecedented series of meetings beginning on Thursday afternoon, children who say they have been "silenced" and "humiliated" by the Church will have the opportunity to share their experiences.

It Takes A Village To Deceive A Family

WASHINGTON (DC)
The Amerian Conservative

June 11, 2019

By Rod Dreher

I mentioned earlier that the Southern Baptist Convention is going to take up the problem of sexual abuse in the denomination at its meeting this week. Elizabeth Dias of The New York Times has an infuriating story about how one Baptist megachurch in suburban Dallas handled — and failed to handle — a case of alleged abuse by a youth pastor. The church is The Village Church, in Flower Mound. Excerpts:

Christi Bragg listened in disbelief. It was a Sunday in February, and her popular evangelical pastor, Matt Chandler, was preaching on the evil of leaders who sexually abuse those they are called to protect. But at the Village Church, he assured his listeners, victims of assault would be heard, and healed: “We see you.”

Ms. Bragg nearly vomited. She stood up and walked out.

Exactly one year before that day, on Feb. 17, 2018, Ms. Bragg and her husband, Matt, reported to the Village that their daughter, at about age 11, had been sexually abused at the church’s summer camp for children.

Since then, Matthew Tonne, who was the church’s associate children’s minister, had been investigated by the police, indicted and arrested on charges of sexually molesting Ms. Bragg’s daughter.

Ms. Bragg waited for church leaders to explain what had happened and to thoroughly inform other families in the congregation. She waited for the Village to take responsibility and apologize. She waited to have even one conversation with Mr. Chandler, a leader she had long admired.

But none of that ever came.

“You can’t even take care of the family you know,” she remembered thinking as she walked out of the large auditorium. “Don’t tell more victims to come to you, because you’re just going to cause more hurt.”

Anti-abuse organizers rally outside of SBC annual meeting

BIRMINGHAM (AL)
WIAT TV 42

June 11, 2019

By Phil Pinarski & Michael Clark

Survivors of sexual abuse rallied outside the Southern Baptist Convention Tuesday in hopes of raising awareness about problems in the religious organization.

The rally came just after SBC leadership voted on a constitutional bylaw change that would allow the SBC to deal with churches that don't handle abuse.

SBC leaders also approved the creation of a new credentials' committee.

Some survivors would like to see more done by the church.

A few dozen people gathered outside the BJCC with signs and a loudspeaker as they shared their message with people leaving the convention.

"I want to call the SBC on the abuse and their cover-ups, no longer can you continue to patronize us with your fancy words and little action," said Rev. Ashley Easter, an advocate for abuse victims.

The topic of abuse is front and center after numerous allegations in recent years. Leaders want victims to know they are listening.

"I think our posture should be to listen to all of those who have survived this trauma and to commit to work to make sure that every church is doing everything possible to prevent abuse and care for those being abused," said Russell Moore, who is president of the SBC's Ethics and Religious Liberties Commission.

Survivors at the rally told CBS 42 that they have heard promises before and are hopeful for lasting changes.

US Catholic Bishops Move to Deal with Clergy Sex-Abuse

BALTIMORE (MD)
Associated Press

June 4, 2019

By Don Rush

The nation's Roman Catholic bishops approved new steps this week to deal more strongly with the clergy sex-abuse crisis.

But activists and others say the moves leave the bishops in charge of policing themselves and potentially keep law enforcement at arm's length.

As their national meeting in Baltimore concluded Thursday, the bishops stopped short of mandating that lay experts take part in investigating priests accused of child molestation or other misconduct.

They also did not specify a procedure for informing the police of abuse allegations fielded by a newly proposed hotline.

The meeting followed a string of abuse-related developments that have presented the bishops and the 76-million-member U.S. church with unprecedented challenges. Many dioceses around the U.S. have been targeted by prosecutors demanding secret files.

Fort Wayne-South Bend diocese names more priests accused of sexually abusing minors

INDIANAPOLIS (IN)
Indianapolis Star

June 14, 2019

By Holly V. Hays

The Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend this week identified two more priests who church officials said were "credibly" accused of sexually abusing a minor.

The update, released June 11, added two names to the list, bringing the total number of accused priests to 22.

Neither served in the Indianapolis area during their time in the ministry, according to information provide by the diocese.

Vatican investigator of child sex abuse meets Polish bishops

WARSAW (POLAND)
Associated Press

June 14, 2019

By Monika Scislowska

The Vatican’s sex crimes prosecutor, Archbishop Charles Scicluna, met with Poland’s Catholic bishops on Friday to share his experience in tracking crimes, after the Polish Church admitted knowing about hundreds of cases over the years where priests abused minors.

Scicluna attended the bishops’ plenary session Friday in Walbrzych, southwestern Poland, for a discussion about “protecting children and youths,” the Episcopate said.

Bishop Piotr Libera tweeted that Scicluna’s remarks were “extremely interesting.”

Scicluna told Poland’s Catholic news agency KAI that he would like to “encourage Poland’s bishops to implement the very good guidance points that they themselves adopted” in 2013.

He later told a news conference it was not enough to have rules but “we need to implement what the documents say” and people in parishes should know who to turn to in the Church when they suspect abuse.

Scicluna urged every person aware of a cover-up to report it to higher church authorities or in the case of high-ranking bishops, to the papal nuncio in Poland.

Scicluna, a Maltese archbishop, and expert in church law, has been instrumental in revealing facts about priestly sex abuse and cover-up by Chilean church leaders for Pope Francis. In February at the Vatican, he gave a tutorial on preventing sex abuse to a summit of church leaders convened by Francis in reaction to the global sex abuse and cover-up crisis that has undermined credibility in the Church.

2010 sex-abuse lawsuit against Providence Diocese, dormant for 8 years, remains open

PROVIDENCE (RI)
Providence Journal

June 13, 2019

By Katherine Gregg

In a surprise development that came to light Thursday, the day of a Senate vote on sex-abuse legislation, a state court spokesman confirmed that a 2010 case filed by Sen. Donna Nesselbush’s law firm against the Roman Catholic Diocese of Providence is still open.

With the case number — “PC 2010-6437” — inexplicably missing from the court’s online registry of civil cases until The Journal inquired about it, court spokesman Craig Berke said the case will be brought to the attention of the presiding justice of the Superior Court, Alice Gibney.

Nesselbush is the lead sponsor of the Senate version of the bill to give victims more time to sue the molesters who sexually abused them as children, and the institutions — including the Catholic Church — that allegedly shielded them from exposure. While the legislation is not church-specific, many of the victims who testified, including another lawmaker’s now 66-year-old sister, told of sexual abuse by their parish priests.

Nesselbush referred questions about the pending legal case to a law partner who has not yet responded to inquiries.

The mystery court case centers on defrocked priest Michael LaMountain, who on Jan. 29, 1999, pleaded guilty to sexually assaulting five boys from the 1970s to the 1990s. Under a plea agreement, LaMountain was sentenced to nine 12-year suspended sentences, to run concurrently.

With his plea, LaMountain, now dead, became the sixth Rhode Island priest convicted that decade of sexually abusing children, at a point in time when there were 38 people suing the Roman Catholic Diocese of Providence, saying that the church hierarchy did not supervise its priests.

Austin Catholic priest accused of assaulting woman during last rites pleads no contest

AUSTIN (TX)
KXAN TV

June 14, 2019

By Matthew Prendergast

An elderly Austin Catholic priest accused of touching a woman in hospice care in a sexual manner accepted a plea deal Wednesday in what was supposed to be his pre-court appearance.

Rev. Gerold Langsch, 75, faced a Class A misdemeanor assault by contact charge. Langsch pleaded no contest Wednesday. A no contest plea effectively does not admit guilt but allows the court to determine punishment.

Langsch was accused of going to the victim’s home in October 2018 to administer her last rites, according to documents filed in court. The woman was in hospice care because she was suffering from several medical conditions, including complications with diabetes.

According to the arrest affidavit, while Langsch was anointing the victim with holy water during her last rites he began touching her inappropriately and asked, “does that feel good?”

The victim’s family immediately reported it to police and in March 2019, she was presented with a photo lineup, during which she identified Langsch as the man who assaulted her, according to the affidavit.

Austin police say assault by contact is typically classified as a Class C misdemeanor. However, this case was upgraded to a Class A misdemeanor because the victim was disabled.

In court Wednesday, Langsch was addressed by a member of the victim’s family.

“You are nothing more than a wolf in sheep’s clothing,” the person said. “We will never trust another father or the Catholic Church again.”

Langsch was sentenced to 300 days probation probated over two years, as well as a $1,000 fine. If he violates the probation, he could spend up to 300 days in jail and be penalized with a $4,000 fine.

Since the allegations in 2018, three other victims have come forward, according to the judge in Langsch’s case. She added that all the victim’s approved of the agreement and Langsch’s sentencing. The Catholic Church has an official record of all the allegations.

Catholic Bishops Vow to Hold Themselves Accountable for Sexual Abuse and Cover-Ups

NEW YORK (NY)
New York Times

June 13, 2019

by Liam Stack

America’s Roman Catholic bishops voted on Thursday to enact a new oversight system intended to hold them accountable for abuse and cover-ups, a move meant to restore faith in a church whose epidemic of misconduct has driven away parishioners and attracted the attention of state and federal law enforcement.

The move was endorsed at a high-stakes gathering in Baltimore of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. It came one month after Pope Francis issued a sweeping edict that ordered church officials around the world to report cases of sexual abuse — and attempted cover-ups — to their superiors. The decree gave bishops one year to establish new procedures.

June 13, 2019

Detroit Archbishop says he will work 'immediately' on abuse accountability for bishops

DETROIT (MI)
Detroit Free Press

June 14, 2019

By Niraj Warikoo

Archbishop of Detroit Allen Vigneron said that Catholic leaders in Michigan "will begin work immediately" to implement a series of measures for accountability of bishops on sexual abuse cases that was approved Thursday by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) at their annual meeting.

In Baltimore, the bishops approved this week three measures that were in line with guidelines issued by Pope Francis in May that called for more responsibility among Catholic bishops in responding to sexual abuse by clergy and to stop shielding abusers. Critics have raised concerns about some bishops in the U.S. covering up sexual abuse by clergy.

The Catholic bishops, which included Vigneron, voted for a third-party reporting system allowing people to make confidential reports and a new oversight model where metropolitan bishops — such as Vigneron — have more responsibility over other bishops.

The bishops also voted to "restrict the ministry of retired bishops accused of sexual abuse or negligence," said the Archdiocese of Detroit.

Dioceses: Accused priests keep retirement benefits, but not legal defense

DETROIT (MI)
Detroit News

June 13, 2019

By Beth LeBlanc

None of the priests facing sexual misconduct charges stemming from Attorney General Dana Nessel's investigation into clergy abuse in Michigan will get help paying for their legal defense from the Michigan dioceses where they used to work.

Most will, however, continue receiving retirement benefits through their diocesan retirement plans because pensions are protected by federal law.

For others not yet of retirement age, Michigan's various dioceses are required by canon or church law to provide "sustenance" for their priests leading up to and even after a potential guilty verdict.

In May, Nessel charged five priests who had worked in three Michigan dioceses with sexual misconduct charges as part of the attorney general’s investigation in clergy sexual abuse in Michigan’s seven dioceses. At the time, Nessel said the charges were “just the tip of the iceberg” and more legal action is expected.

The priests charged included the Revs. Neil Kalina, 63, and Patrick Casey, 55, who had served in the Detroit archdiocese; the Revs. Timothy Michael Crowley, 70, and Vincent DeLorenzo, 80, who served in the Lansing diocese; and the Rev. Jacob Vellian, 84, a visiting priest from India working in the Kalamazoo diocese in the 1970s at the time of the alleged incident.

None of the charged priests were involved in active ministry at the time Nessel announced charges. All of the priests, with the exception of Vellian, have been arraigned on their charges and face sentences that carry maximum penalties ranging from 15 years to life in prison.

Wyoming diocese names 11 former clergy accused of sexual abuse

CHEYENNE (WY)
Casper Star-Tribune

June 13, 2019

By Seth Klamann

The Diocese of Cheyenne published Wednesday the names of 11 priests who have faced credible allegations of abuse, most of whom were accused of the misconduct while serving in Wyoming.

The Wyoming Catholic Register newsletter publicly acknowledged abuse allegations against 10 new priests, nearly a year after the diocese announced it had reopened an investigation into former bishop Joseph Hart and found the accusers of the former leader of the Wyoming Catholic church credible.

In a column accompanying the list of names, Bishop Steven Biegler apologized to those he said had been abused by clergy.

“On behalf of the church, I apologize to each victim, not only for the misconduct of those who committed sexual abuse, but also for the failure of any Church leader who did not take appropriate action after having received a report of an allegation,” Biegler wrote. “Finally, I pledge to do all that we can to assist with your healing and to learn from errors in our past.”

The release comes amid a period of renewed scrutiny for the Catholic Church across the country. Last year across several states, dioceses and state governments released the names of those accused of abuse. A diocese in southern Alabama named 29 men who were credibly accused. In August, a grand jury in Pennsylvania wrote that more than 300 Catholic priests had abused more than 1,000 children over a period of several decades. The Jesuits, a Catholic order, released their own lists late last year, which included the names of two priests who served for a time at St. Stephens, on the Wind River Reservation. The allegations in those cases stemmed from incidents that did not occur at the reservation school.

U.S. bishops adopt new protocols for holding themselves accountable for sex abuse

NEW YORK (NY)
America Magazine

June 13, 2019

By Michael J. O’Loughlin

U.S. Catholic bishops voted overwhelmingly in Baltimore on Thursday to adopt new protocols aimed at holding themselves accountable for committing sexual abuse themselves and for mishandling accusations of abuse made known to them. While the new protocols are designed to include laypeople at every stage of an investigation—they advise that bishops “should” include laypeople by way of an office in their chanceries—lay reform groups and victim advocates say they are unsatisfied, as the new rules stop just short of requiring such involvement.

In response to a new Vatican law enacted in June, detailed in the motu proprio“Vos estis lux mundi,” which requires bishops around the world to create structures aimed at bishop accountability, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops voted to create a third-party reporting hotline; to adopt a procedure for receiving those complaints and include laypeople to investigate them; and to compile into one place existing measures that restrict the public ministry of retired bishops who leave office “for grave reason.” Bishops also approved a code of conduct that they say binds them to the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People.

According to one new protocol, a metropolitan bishop, who oversees bishops in a geographic area, “should” appoint “a qualified lay person to receive reports” from the hotline about misconduct by a bishop. If the report is deemed credible and if the Vatican orders an investigation into a bishop, the metropolitan “should appoint an investigator chosen from among the lay persons previously identified by the province.” Additionally, the metropolitan bishop “should also make use of qualified experts” who are “chosen predominantly from among lay persons.”

Cardinal Blase Cupich, the archbishop of Chicago and an adviser to Pope Francis who participated in the February meeting at the Vatican of bishops from around the world to discuss sex abuse, drafted the amendment that strengthened the language about including laypeople in investigations. But because the Vatican’s own law stops short of mandating lay involvement—though it does say laypeople can be involved—some U.S. bishops said they could not require lay involvement. Many bishops pointed out that they already rely on lay expertise for assistance in many areas and that it would be highly unlikely to to conduct an investigation without laypeople.

Slowik: A Joliet bishop engaged in sexual misconduct. The diocese still displays his picture in the cathedral

CHICAGO (IL)
Chicago Tribune

June 13, 2019

By Ted Slowik

Walking into the Cathedral of St. Raymond in Joliet and seeing a display featuring the late Most Rev. Daniel Ryan triggers a flood of painful memories and unleashes a range of emotions.

I feel angry that the Roman Catholic Diocese of Joliet would prominently display a picture of a cleric who engaged in sexual misconduct. I feel frustrated by how little seems to have changed, despite platitudes by church leaders about how much they have done to protect children.

I feel sadness about the apparent lack of understanding by church leaders and empathy for the many people I met and listened to over the years who shared with me their experiences of Joliet clergy who had sexually abused children.

I feel that if church leaders understood the depth of pain felt by survivors of childhood sexual abuse and truly cared about creating a culture where children are safe from sexual predators, they would remove the photo of Ryan from the display in the entryway to the cathedral.

I began hearing the stories, researching court files and investigating clergy abuse in the Joliet Diocese in 2002 while working for a Joliet newspaper. The work was emotionally draining. I felt obligated to share the stories of survivors at a time when few people in positions of authority in the church or state would advocate on their behalf.

Seventeen years later, I feel diocesan leaders still fail to grasp how the display of Ryan’s picture might offend people who were sexually abused by priests.

“It is one thing to acknowledge that an abuser worked at the parish, but quite another for his image to be displayed prominently,” said Zach Hiner, executive director of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests.

“While it may seem minor to church officials, to survivors and supporters, small actions like this illustrate that church officials still do not fully understand the lifelong toll that abuse can have. If they did, they wouldn’t display these photos, prominently or otherwise,” Hiner said.

Catholic bishops stop short of mandating lay involvement in abuse investigations

BALTIMORE (MD)
Religion News Service

June 13, 2019

By Jack Jenkins

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has passed a slate of long-awaited measures designed to combat sex abuse and hold church leadership accountable for mishandling cases, including creating a national hotline operated by an outside group for reporting incidents of abuse or their cover-up.

“I’m confident that the idea of doing (investigations) in-house is long gone,” said a cautiously upbeat Cardinal Joseph Tobin of New Jersey after the reforms passed Thursday morning (June 13) — informed by a recent papal document — at the bishops’ spring meeting.

But the bishops stopped short of handing power to lay Catholics or abuse survivors in those investigations, sparking a debate that revolves around whether doing so would overstep guidelines outlined in a document issued by Pope Francis after a Vatican summit on abuse in February.

Chicago Cardinal Blase Cupich and other clerics were able to insert language into the resolutions stating that metropolitan bishops — who would oversee the investigations of fellow bishops — “should” rely on qualified lay persons. The inclusion of lay people is also among a moral “commitment” the bishops adopted Thursday morning on how to deal with sexual misconduct.

But the language fell short of requiring bishops to take lay input, an important distinction that left victims advocates saying stronger measures are needed.

Other clerics, such as Bishop William Shawn McKnight of Jefferson City, Mo., made clear that they support lay involvement regardless.

“I believe it should be mandatory that we involve laity in the investigation of any case of sexual abuse by a bishop — or corruption, cover-up, involving the same,” McKnight said during the second day of voting. “I believe we should do that because that is the Catholic thing to do.”

He added: “Lay involvement should be mandatory to make darn sure that we bishops do not harm the church in the way bishops have harmed the church — especially what we have become aware of this past year.”

Documents Released during the USCCB Spring General Assembly-June 13, 2019

UNITED STATES
USCCB

June 13, 2019

1.) Protocol Regarding Available Non-Penal Restrictions on Bishops

2.) Affirming Our Episcopal Commitments

3.) Directives for the Implementation of the Provisions of Vos estis lux mundi Concerning Bishops and their Equivalents

Bishops approve changes in how they police themselves

BALTIMORE (MD)
Philadelphia Inquirer

June 13, 2019

By Jeremy Roebuck

The nation’s Roman Catholic bishops overwhelmingly — though not unanimously — approved a new framework Thursday for policing their own conduct, hoping it would be enough to stanch a series of scandals that brought to light sexual misconduct and inaction within their ranks over the past year.

The measures include a new code of conduct, guidelines for restricting the ministry of retired problem prelates and a new system through which the church will investigate bishops accused of mishandling abuse complaints or facing such allegations themselves. On Wednesday the bishops also approved a national hotline that would take allegations from victims of abuse by bishops.

But victims and their advocates responded with a collective shrug, saying the reforms still leave too much power in the hands of a hierarchy that has repeatedly failed to hold itself accountable.

Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro, whose investigation of abuse in Pennsylvania dioceses that was released last year, creating an international uproar, said Thursday in a statement on Twitter: “Clergy abuse victims should contact law enforcement – not a Church hotline. That only serves to cover up the cover up. Our clergy abuse hotline has received 1,803 calls. We follow up on every one of them. The Church cannot be trusted to police itself.”

Catholic bishops just voted to launch a national sex-abuse hotline. Next up: 3 more proposals to police themselves.

BALTIMORE (MD)
The Philadelphia Inquirer

June 12, 2019

By Jeremy Roebuck

Roman Catholic bishops in the United States voted Wednesday to launch an independent national hotline for fielding complaints of sexual abuse or cover-up involving members of the hierarchy.

Although many implementation details must be worked out, the decision is the most concrete step U.S. bishops have taken to hold themselves more accountable after a tumultuous year for the church.

The hotline is one of four proposals up for debate this week at the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ annual spring conference. It had wide support among the prelates, although some prelates questioned the deadline approved Wednesday for activation — May 31, 2020.

“There’s an urgency to get this up and running as soon as possible,” said Cardinal Blase Cupich, archbishop of Chicago. “Corporations that man hotlines for crisis moments are able to do it quickly, and I would hope that we would be able to do it as well.”

William Strampel first Michigan State official tied to Larry Nassar to be convicted

LANSING (MI)
Lansing State Journal

June 12, 2019

By Megan Banta

A jury on Wednesday found former Michigan State University dean William Strampel guilty of misconduct in office and willful neglect of duty.

That makes him the first former or current MSU official to be convicted following the Michigan Attorney General’s investigation into MSU and its handling of convicted sex offender Larry Nassar, who worked in the university’s sports medicine clinic.

After more than five hours of deliberation, jurors found that evidence supported the Attorney General's argument that Strampel, 71, used his power as dean of MSU's College of Osteopathic Medicine to proposition and control female medical students.

Jurors also determined there was enough evidence to support prosecutors' argument that Strampel displayed "complete indifference" as to whether Nassar was following protocols meant to decrease risk for the university following a complaint of sexual assault in 2014.

Pennsylvania court ruling may open door for future clergy sex abuse suits

PENNSYLVANIA
TribLive

June 12, 2019

By Deb Erdley

Lawyers for clergy sexual abuse survivors say a Pennsylvania Superior Court ruling handed down Tuesday could open a path for many old claims previously timed out to go to a jury.

Writing in a 38-page opinion, a three-judge panel overturned a Blair County judge’s decision to dismiss a clergy sexual abuse complaint as outside the statute of limitations for child sexual abuse, which expires at the alleged victim’s 30th birthday.

The judges said the church’s apparent failure to notify parishioners of abuse allegations raised the specter of conspiracy and fraudulent concealment as questions for a jury.

Explainer: How could Bishop Bransfield misuse funds for years without raising red flags?

UNITED STATES
America: The Jesuit Review

June 12, 2019

By Ashley McKinless

I thought I had lost the capacity to be surprised by the misconduct of bishops after the past year of scandal. But as I read The Washington Post’s report on the financial abuses committed by Bishop Michael J. Bransfield, who was recently removed as head of the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston in West Virginia, I could not believe what I was learning. Fueled by revenues from a Texas oil field donated to the diocese over a century ago, the bishop in one of this country’s poorest states was living a life of luxury and cutting four- and five-figure checks to fellow clerics—including certain priests who accused Bransfield of sexual harassment.

I knew who I needed to talk to process this news: my mom. And not just because she is the reason I am Catholic. Kathy McKinless also happens to have served as the acting chief financial officer for the Archdiocese of Washington, served on the volunteer finance council of the Diocese of Arlington, was an expert witness in a banking fraud trial and, as a partner at the accounting firm KPMG, audited dioceses and religious organizations. If anyone could explain to me how exactly a bishop could travel by chartered jet and decorate his office with $100 worth of fresh flowers each day—or at least reassure me this was not normal behavior—it was she.

Religious organizations added to $82 million lawsuit in sex abuse case

CHESTERFIELD (VA)
WWBT NBC 12 News

June 10, 2019

By Kelly Avellino

Several religious organizations and church leaders face an $82 million lawsuit in a child sex abuse case involving eight boys, that stemmed in Colonial Heights and Chesterfield.

Attorneys with the law firm Breit Cantor says the boys were abused by a youth group leader at Immanuel Baptist Church between 2008 and 2015.

Added to the lawsuit on Monday were the following Baptist groups:
Southern Baptist Convention
Baptist General Association of Virginia
Petersburg Baptist Association

"They had the power to do more and to help protect these children and to warn these families of these abusers," said attorney Kevin Biniazan, who represents the plaintiffs.

Why survivors aren’t surprised by sexual abuse inside Southern Baptist churches

WASHINGTON (DC)
PBS NewsHour

June 12, 2019

The Southern Baptist Convention is the largest Protestant denomination in the U.S., with nearly 15 million members. Now, it’s facing a reckoning over allegations of sex abuse and concealment revealed by a Houston Chronicle investigation. Judy Woodruff speaks to Rachael Denhollander, a survivor of sexual abuse both by the church and Larry Nassar, about her optimism for the forthcoming reforms.

Judy Woodruff:

With nearly 15 million members, the Southern Baptist Convention is the largest Protestant denomination in the United States. Now it is facing a reckoning of its own over sexual abuse.

A Houston Chronicle investigation found hundreds of clergy or staff allegedly committed abuse or misconduct over two decades. This week, delegates of Southern Baptist churches approved changes for the first time to make it easier to expel churches that cover up sexual abuse cases.

Rachael Denhollander was the first woman to publicly accuse Larry Nassar. He's the former sports doctor at Michigan State University who was convicted of assaulting multiple girls and women.

Denhollander spoke at the convention on a panel with fellow sexual abuse survivors and is on the denomination's sex abuse study group. She is also the author of "What Is a Girl Worth?: My Story of Breaking the Silence and Exposing the Truth about Larry Nassar and USA Gymnastics."

Rachael Denhollander, thank you very much for being with us.

So, you — we know now that the church has made these changes. You have been talking to a number of survivors. I want to understand what your sense is of just how widespread this abuse was.

Retired Wyoming bishop to face Vatican trial on allegations of sex abuse

CHEYENNE (WY)
Catholic News Service

June 13, 2019

Retired Bishop Joseph H. Hart of Cheyenne will face a Vatican trial for allegations that he sexually abused several minors years ago.

Cheyenne Bishop Steven R. Biegler announced June 12 that such a trial of the retired prelate would take place. Bishop Biegler included Bishop Hart’s name in a list of all Catholic clergy with substantiated allegations of sexual abuse of minors or vulnerable persons for whom the diocese had files and who were in active ministry from 1950 to the present in the Diocese of Cheyenne.

Bishop Hart is one of 11 clergy on the list published on the diocesan website and in the June online issue of the Wyoming Catholic Register, Cheyenne’s diocesan newspaper. After the prelate’s name, the listing states: “Pope Francis imposed restrictions and authorized a penal process.”

“Our clergy are expected to be shepherds who guard and protect the flock, especially the least among us,” Bishop Biegler said in a letter to diocesan Catholics about the list. “They are called to imitate the Good Shepherd, who laid down his life for the sheep. Therefore, sexual abuse by clergy is an appalling sin and a reprehensible crime.”

“It contradicts everything we stand for. Each name on this list represents a betrayal of trust, a violation of the innocent and a human tragedy,” he added.

Bishop Hart, who retired as head of the Diocese of Cheyenne in 2001, has always maintained his innocence, “categorically and completely” denying any improper conduct.

The announcement of the Vatican trial follows the conclusion of a new investigation of the allegations against Bishop Hart that Bishop Biegler had ordered. Results of the investigation were sent to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the Congregation for Bishops, the nuncio to the United States and Denver Archbishop Samuel J. Aquila, who is the metropolitan of the province that includes the Cheyenne Diocese.

In July 2018, Bishop Biegler said that, because of the results of the investigation, he would continue the restrictions placed on the public ministry of Bishop Hart first imposed by then-Bishop Paul D. Etienne when he headed the Cheyenne Diocese.

The accusation is that Bishop Hart sexually abused two boys from Wyoming after he became Cheyenne’s bishop in 1978. He was auxiliary bishop of the statewide diocese for two years before that.

In 2002, police and prosecutors in Cheyenne cleared Bishop Hart of any wrongdoing because they found “no evidence to support the allegations.”

But Bishop Biegler ordered the new investigation of the claims since there were “there no trials, no determination of guilt or innocence (and) the matter was not resolved,” the diocese said.

The Wyoming allegations came after several men alleged that Bishop Hart sexually abused them years earlier, when he was a priest in the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph, Missouri. He was ordained for that diocese May 1, 1956. He was accused of three instances of abuse dating to the late 1960s and early 1970s there.

In 2008, the Missouri diocese, then headed by Bishop Robert W. Finn, announced a $10 million settlement with 47 victims of sexual abuse by 12 clergy and former clergy of the diocese. The diocese did not name the 12 clergymen involved in the settlement, but at the time, attorneys for the victims said the group included Bishop Hart. Another financial settlement was reached by the diocese in 2014.

As Southern Baptists take action on sex abuse, some question whether it’s enough

BIRMINGHAM (AL)
Washington Post

June 13, 2019

By Sarah Pulliam Bailey

Puffing a cigarette outside a coffee shop, Jules Woodson, the sexual abuse victim who helped set off a reckoning over abuse in the Southern Baptist Convention, paused to take a measure of the progress toward addressing the problem during the group’s annual meeting this week.

The 8,000 church representatives, called “messengers,” overwhelmingly agreed Wednesday to pass a resolution condemning the crime as “evil” and calling on government authorities to review statutes of limitations for prosecuting perpetrators. The day before, they had agreed to amend the faith group’s constitution to remove from their ranks churches that mishandle sexual abuse. The same day, more than two-thirds also voted to designate a committee to review questions of sexual abuse.

Does Woodson, who is also an advocate, think that is enough? “It’s a good step,” Woodson said. “It’s a little step.”

Woodson’s mix of some optimism and much caution was shared by many who attended the annual meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) here, where the major agenda item was tackling widespread allegations of clergy sexual abuse that have surfaced over the past year in particular.

Woodson’s 2018 allegation that Andy Savage, then her Southern Baptist youth pastor, sexually assaulted her when she was 17, made national headlines and is widely viewed as one of the tipping points that have led Southern Baptists to confront the problem in their ranks. A series of reports by the Houston Chronicle earlier this year documenting hundreds of abuse stories within the nation’s largest Protestant denomination also helped push the issue front and center.

Catholics aren't the only congregation reckoning with sex abuse scandals

NEW ORLEANS (LA)
The Advocate

June 12, 2019

By James Gill

When the Baptists this week trooped off to Birmingham, Alabama, for their annual convention, for instance, sexual exploitation by clergy and staff was much in their thoughts. What used to be regarded as a Catholic curse has gone ecumenical. Thus, in April, repeat child molester Jonathan Bailey, former youth pastor at First Baptist Church in New Orleans, was sentenced to 23 years.

An investigation by the Houston Chronicle and the San Antonio Express-News identified Bailey as one of 400 Southern Baptist church officials — four of them in Louisiana — to have been accused of sex crimes in the last 20 years. “There seems to be a growing sense of vulnerability and a willingness to address this crisis,” the Rev. Russell Moore, the Southern Baptists' head of public policy, has said.

It's about time, but then the Catholics were in no hurry to come to grips with the sins of their ministry either. Even now, 34 years after the Rev. Gilbert Gauthe's guilty plea in Lafayette first revealed how the church was protecting the pederasts in its ranks, the Vatican is not insisting that sexual predators be turned over to the police. The suspicion remains that the church's first concern is its own.

The Catholic church has identified thousands more sexual transgressors than any other faith, but this, perhaps, is a result of universality rather than openness. Religion evidently offers a cover for many a pervert; Episcopalians have been confessing their sins in this area, too.

Parishioners at two Philadelphia-area churches organize on abuse crisis

PHILADELPHIA (PA)
National Catholic Reporter

June 13, 2019

By Peter Feuerherd

They are two parishes with different profiles.

St. Malachy, on this city's north side near Temple University, attracts a wide ethnic mix, in a neighborhood with some rough edges, appealing in part to those as far away as New Jersey seeking an urban parish with a long tradition of social justice outreach.

By contrast, St. Thomas of Villanova, in a leafy suburb, attracts many professionals, including professors from nearby Villanova University. Like the university, the parish is run by Augustinians.

Unbeknownst to each other, parishioners at both churches wanted to do something, anything, when hit by the cascade of sex abuse stories that rocked the Catholic Church last summer, including a Pennsylvania grand jury report and the scandals involving former Cardinal Theodore McCarrick. As Catholics in an archdiocese that experienced its own massive turmoil back in 2005, when scores of priests were implicated by a grand jury, they needed to talk

At St. Thomas of Villanova, Augustinian Fr. Joseph Genito, the pastor, asked parishioners to email him with their thoughts. They didn't hold back.

"Focus on the corruption in the church," said one writer.

"This crisis has shaken our family to the core," wrote another.

Still another, "The kind of pain inflicted by the perpetrators takes years to digest and longer to get over."

Besides anger, there were detailed suggestions to reform the Catholic Church, ideas like withholding money from the archdiocese till changes occurred, and opening up more roles for women.

In response, Genito called parishioners together and they formed WATCH — We Are the Church.

"As the laity, we have no ownership," parishioner Mia Holman said, summing up the concerns of parishioners.

WATCH soon began organizing. It has formed committees on lay leadership; legislative action (to support opening up the statutes of limitations on sex abuse in Pennsylvania, a stance long opposed by the state's Catholic bishops); and parish finances, to in part investigate how funds were raised by the archdiocese to make sex abuse payments and settlements.

Abuse victim advocates pledge to keep fighting for reform in the Southern Baptist Convention

BIRMINGHAM (AL)
Baptist News Global

June 12, 2019

By Bob Allen

While Southern Baptist Convention messengers inside the Birmingham Jefferson Convention Complex took first steps to punish churches that enable sexual abuse, survivors relegated to a sidewalk outside the meeting hall demanded a system to make it harder for clergy predators to move from church to church.

“You may force us to meet on street corners, but mark my words, we will not be silent,” abuse survivor and advocate Ashley Easter addressed SBC leaders in absentia at the second annual For Such a Time as This rally June 11.

The rally began moments after the denomination amended governing documents to clarify that churches indifferent to sexual abuse are not “in friendly cooperation” with the convention and to empower a standing committee to discern whether individual churches meet membership requirements, a responsibility now before the SBC Executive Committee.

Protesters outside the convention hall said they want more: establishment of a database to track and warn about known predators, mandatory training to recognize and address abuse and repudiation of a “low view of women” they say contributes to a culture of abuse.

“We have seen some progress, but there is a lot more work to be done,” said rally organizer Cheryl Summers.

“One year ago we held the first For Such a Time as This rally in Dallas,” Summers said. “One year ago there was no sexual abuse study group, and it exists today. One year ago training about abuse in the church did not exist for Southern Baptist churches, and this week the new Church Cares training protocol will be unveiled. One year ago Paige Patterson, the poster child for mishandling abuse disclosures, was scheduled to give the keynote address at the annual meeting. That never happened because people stood up and spoke up.”

“We will continue to speak for those who imagine they are the only ones living a private nightmare,” she said. “We will continue to speak because well-meaning pastors just don’t know what they don’t know, and they do tremendous damage to survivors.”

Christa Brown, an abuse survivor who has been calling for change in the Southern Baptist Convention’s abuse policy for 13 years, said her story is “dreadfully common.”

“Almost every Baptist survivor I have ever spoken with has said that the trauma from the institutional betrayal far exceeded the trauma from the abuse itself,” Brown said. “This massive institutional enablement of horror must be addressed on an equally massive scale.”

“The path forward is a database, an independently administered database of Southern Baptist clergy, those criminally convicted, those who have admitted to conduct constituting abuse and those who are credibly accused as determined by an independent panel,” Brown said.

“Many others are now urging the same thing,” Brown said. “It is so obviously what is needed, and yet the SBC still balks.”


Christa Brown talks to local media prior to the start of Tuesday’s For Such a Time as This Rally. (Photos by Bob Allen)

“So here’s what I want to know,” she continued. “How many kids will it take? Seven hundred victims documented by the Houston Chronicle and San Antonio Express-News. Three hundred and fifty more who have contacted them since then. Thank God for the Houston Chronicle and San Antonio Express-News.”

“How many kids could have been spared if SBC officials had taken action back in 2006 when a database was first proposed?” she wondered. “It’s been 13 years, and how many more kids will it still take before this convention will do what other faith groups do and at least begin keeping records on credibly accused clergy sex abusers. How many kids?”

David Clohessy, former head of an advocacy group that decades ago pushed for similar reforms in the Roman Catholic Church, described Brown as the “Rosa Parks of the Protestant child safety movement.”

“Just like Rosa Parks and other pioneers and social movement leaders, Christa has endured all kinds of persecution and harassment,” said Clohessy, former national leader of the Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests. “It was literally 10 years ago that a top Baptist official, Paige Patterson, said of Christa and others who were pushing for change, said they were just as reprehensible as sex criminals.”

“That tells you something about the mindset that we’re up against,” Clohessy said.

Analysis: As USCCB meeting continues, what are lay Catholics looking for?

BALTMORE (MD)
Catholic News Agency

June 13, 2019

By J. D. Flynn

Nearly all U.S. bishops know by now that U.S. Catholics are experiencing crises of faith and confidence at a scale that far exceeds even the Church’s sexual abuse scandal in 2002. They were presented with data this week noting that the rate of Catholics defecting from the practice of the faith has risen dramatically in recent years, and they are reminded in their own dioceses that practicing Catholics, priests among them, are deeply discouraged of the last year, and struggling to trust.

But there is a disconnect between the work that bishops are doing this week in Baltimore to respond to those problems and the way that work is perceived by even faithful and engaged Catholics.

The mission of bishops is the salvation of souls. Their call is to proclaim the Gospel, to teach the faith, to celebrate the sacramental mysteries of grace, and to lead and coordinate the apostolic and evangelical work of priests, deacons, religious, and laity. Their ability to do those things convincingly and compellingly is hampered by the scandals of the last year.

But so is the ability of millions of other Catholics to do the work to which God has called them. Within the Church, the scandals have tainted the credibility of the bishops. Beyond the walls of the Church, the scandals have tainted the credibility of every Catholic who tries to explain, proclaim, or live the Gospel.

It is not the case that Catholic laity are the de facto moral superiors of their bishops. It is not the case that Catholic laity give consistent witness to the Gospel. It is not the case that laity are less likely to be motivated by the concerns of this world, less likely to engage in sexual immorality, less likely to live as they ought not.

But it is the case that bishops are uniquely public Catholic figures, and that the integrity of their actions is - fairly or unfairly- uniquely taken as a measure of the Gospel’s integrity.

None of that is new. What is new is the scope of their visibility in the social media era, and the degree to which the misconduct of some, and the broken ecclesial culture that fosters it, is manifestly clear to those who look toward it.

Catholic Church's challenge: A worsening shortage of priests

POUGHKEEPSIE (NY)
Poughkeepsie Journal

June 13, 2019

By Deena Yellin

The Rev. Tom Ivory assumed that when he retired from his position as pastor of Church of the Presentation in Upper Saddle River five years ago, he was through with the rigors of active church duty.

But every few weeks, he receives desperate calls and emails from a local church begging him to fill in at a Mass or hear confessions when a priest is sick or on leave. Sometimes, he helps out.

"When I was ordained, I was the fourth associate pastor at my church," recalled Ivory, 80, who lives in a retirement home in Caldwell. "There's no such thing anymore."

His story is increasingly familiar as the Catholic Church is facing a worsening shortage of priests, and the aging of those who remain.

The Newark Archdiocese ordains six new priests at the Cathedral Basilica of The Sacred Heart on Saturday, May 25, 2019.
The Newark Archdiocese ordains six new priests at the Cathedral Basilica of The Sacred Heart on Saturday, May 25, 2019. (Photo: Michael Karas/NorthJersey.com)

Over the past half century, the number of priests across the U.S. has dropped by about 38% — from nearly 60,000 diocesan and religious order priests in 1970 to 37,192 in 2016, according to the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate at Georgetown University in Washington, DC.

The archdioceses of New York and Newark have about half the number of diocesan priests than they did during the heyday of the 1960s and 1970s.

"There's been a net decline in priests every year because more pass away, and there are more that leave than enter or get ordained," observed Mark Gray, a research associate at CARA. "We've also had a graying of the priesthood. The average priest is 67 years old."

Congregation of Holy Cross publishes names of priests accused of sexual abuse of minors

SOUTH BEND (IN)
The Tribune

June 13, 2019

By Caleb Bauer

The Congregation of Holy Cross, the Catholic religious order that founded the University of Notre Dame and Holy Cross College, on Wednesday released a list of priests credibly accused of sexual abuse of minors.

One of those priests, John Fitzgerald, worked as the director of campus ministries at Notre Dame beginning in 1980.

The move comes during the same week that the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops meets in Baltimore to consider instituting accountability for bishop misconduct amid calls for more transparency and further investigation.

The list names 14 Holy Cross priests and one seminarian, and was published along with a letter from the Rev. William Lies, the provincial superior of the U.S. province of the Congregation of Holy Cross. According to the congregation, the last incident of alleged abuse occurred in 1991.

“Over the last two decades, but particularly in the last year, we have all become more aware of the problem of sexual abuse of children within the Catholic Church and its mishandling,” Lies wrote. “I am profoundly sorry for the pain and suffering inflicted on anyone who has been abused or impacted in any way by the actions of any of our members.”

Who is on the list?
Of the 15 names on the list, 10 of the alleged abusers are dead and two have been removed from ministry. Three are no longer in the congregation, including Paul LeBrun, the former pastor at Little Flower Catholic Church in South Bend who currently is serving time in prison in Arizona for abusing minors.

Ten of the priests at some point were assigned in Indiana, though only three credible accusations came from survivors in Indiana, according to the Congregation of Holy Cross. Three of the accused priests were assigned to Notre Dame at some point during their careers.

Southern Baptist Convention's Rev. J.D. Greear 'broken-hearted and angry' over sex abuse

BIRMINGHAM (AL)
Associated Press

June 13, 2019

By David Crary and Jay Reeves

Sharing a stage with tearful survivors of sex abuse, the president of the Southern Baptist Convention apologized Wednesday for the abuse crisis besetting his denomination and outlined an array of steps to address it.

"We are broken-hearted and angry," said the Rev. J.D. Greear as the largest U.S. protestant denomination neared the end of its two-day national meeting. "Give us the courage to make the changes that genuine repentance requires."

In an impassioned speech, preceded by prayers of lamentation, Greear blamed the crisis on years of cover-ups. He praised a new anti-abuse curriculum is being offered to all SBC churches and seminaries, and he said the SBC must do better in screening potential pastors.

"Father, forgive us," he prayed after calling out a litany of sins.

The Rev. Russell Moore, head of the SBC's public policy arm, said the abuse crisis is a result of satanic forces at work in the church.


Pittsburgh victim advocate, victorious attorney hail PA appeals court ruling

PITTSBURGH (PA)
WTAE TV

June 12, 2019

By Bob Mayo

Advocates for victims of clergy sexual abuse are taking heart from a Pennsylvania Superior Court decision that says, in view of alleged cover-ups, it's possible for a jury to decide whether the statute of limitations should apply in lawsuits alleging abuse by predator priests.

While the case in question is against the Roman Catholic Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown, it may have impact across Pennsylvania.

"So, to put that decision in the hands of the jury, I think it gives the victims a chance to tell their story and to be given the justice that they deserve," Frances Samber, Pittsburgh-area leader of SNAP, told Pittsburgh's Action News 4.

SNAP is the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests. Samber is active in memory of her late brother, Michael Unglo, a victim of a predator priest. Unglo later took his own life after the Diocese of Pittsburgh ended payments for his medical and counseling treatment.

Pittsburgh-area attorney Alan Perer won this breakthrough ruling in a suit against the Altoona-Johnstown diocese. He says the appeals court decision can affect cases in the Pittsburgh diocese and across Pennsylvania.

"This affects hundreds, if not thousands of victims. It's the most wonderful victory for justice for all of these victims who were abused when they were children," Perer told Pittsburgh's Action News 4.

Madison Catholic Diocese hires detectives to probe clergy sexual abuse

MADISON (WI)
State Journal

June 13, 2019

By Steven Verburg

The Catholic Diocese of Madison said Wednesday that private investigators have been hired to review personnel files in a probe of child sexual abuse by members of the clergy.

“The Diocese of Madison reaffirms its commitment to protect children and young people, as well as to be open and transparent with victims, faithful Catholics and the larger community,” the diocese said in a statement.

The Texas-based investigations firm Defenbaugh and Associates, founded by former agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, has been hired to review the diocese’s documents dating back to 1964, the diocese said.

The Madison diocese said in January it was considering an effort to learn how many substantiated sexual abuse allegations have been made against priests and other clergy in Madison after the Green Bay Diocese announced more than 40 of its priests had abused minors.

If the investigation firm finds evidence that more Madison clergy members abused children, it will flag it for further investigation. The diocese said if any allegations are against current priests, deacons or seminarians, they will be immediately removed from the ministry. To date, seven priests from the Diocese of Madison have had “credible” accusations made against them, according to the diocese.

Peter Isely, founding member of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP), said he was not allayed by the announcement of the outside review. “They’re just reviewing these now?” he said.

June 12, 2019

The Anchor: Gayle King and CBS News' Plans to Steady a Once-Storied Ship

HOLLYWOOD (CA)
Hollywood Reporter

June 12, 2019

By Marisa Guthrie

Following a year of scandal and upheaval, King takes the lead (and a new three-year deal) at 'CBS This Morning' as she opens up on Charlie Rose, that R. Kelly interview, advice from Oprah and becoming the face of the news division: "I am now a part of that history. Let's see what we do."

On March 5, Susan Zirinsky was in her "crummy little office" along a dark corridor in the labyrinth of CBS News headquarters on West 57th Street. It was just a temporary spot, since it was technically only her second day on the job as president of CBS News. In reality, she had been steering the 91-year-old division since early January, when acting CBS Corp. CEO Joe Ianniello announced that she would succeed David Rhodes.

Zirinsky was watching the live feed of Gayle King's interview with R. Kelly, the R&B singer charged with multiple counts of criminal sexual abuse of young women. As the world now knows, an unhinged Kelly leaped from his seat in an explosion of tears, spittle and profanity. King remained almost motionless, offering a motherly entreaty: "Robert."

"In this melee of histrionics, she did not lose the story — the accusations, the judicial ramifications, these kids, their parents," says Zirinsky. "She was able to maintain editorial clarity in a situation that would have unnerved the best. And I just thought … Wow."

Lawsuit Against the Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown Revived, SNAP Responds

ALTOONA (PA)
Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests

June 12, 2019

A case against one of Pennsylvania’s catholic dioceses has been revived following a review by the state’s Superior Court. We are grateful to the judge who made the decision to allow this case to move forward.

In this case, Renee Rice’s original claim against Fr. Charles Bodziak was thrown out because of statute of limitations reasons. However, Rice only became aware of the active attempts by church officials to cover up the crimes committed by Fr. Bodziak after the release of a state grand jury report in 2016. If a diocese is actively working to conceal crimes that have been committed, it stands to reason that it would be difficult for a young victim to prove her claims within the short, two-year window allowed by Pennsylvania’s statute of limitations at that time.

Pa. court finds merit in lawsuit filed by victim of clergy sex abuse despite expired statute of limitations

PENNSYLVANIA
Penn Live

June 12, 2019

By Ivey DeJesus

An opinion issued by a Pennsylvania court this week is being hailed as a victory for survivors of clergy sex abuse who are seeking to sue Catholic Church officials and dioceses but are timed barred from the legal system.

The unanimous opinion issued on Tuesday by the Pennsylvania Superior Court finds merit in an amended complaint filed by an adult survivor of clergy sex abuse, which, instead of focusing on the predator priest, charges the Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown with conspiracy, fraud and constructive fraud.

The opinion reverses an earlier decision by a Blair County Court judge dismissing the lawsuit because the statute of limitations had expired.

The amended lawsuit filed by Renee Rice claims the diocese committed conspiracy when it failed to protect her over its interests and that of the Rev. Charles Bodziak. The lawsuit also holds that the diocese had a fiduciary obligation to inform Rice (as a minor) and her parents of the priest’s predatory history and the diocese’s knowledge of it.

Attorney Richard Serbin argued that the questions raised in his client’s lawsuit amounted to jury questions and should not be determined by a court.

Lawsuit against diocese revived

ALTOONA (PA)
Altoona Mirror

June 12, 2019

By Matt Miller

Superior Court overturns Blair judge’s dismissal of Bodziak case

A state Superior Court panel Tuesday reinstated a lawsuit against the Catholic Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown filed by a woman who claims a pedophile priest consistently molested her in the 1970s and ’80s.

That decision, outlined in an opinion by Judge Deborah A. Kunselman, overturns a Blair County judge’s dismissal of Renee A. Rice’s suit on statute of limitations grounds.

Rice claims her former priest at St. Leo’s Church in Altoona, the Rev. Charles F. Bodziak, began molesting her when she was about 9 years old in the mid-’70s. That mol­estation continued at the church, while she cleaned the rectory, in a graveyard and in Bodziak’s car until 1981, she contends. She said the abuse occurred as often as twice a week.

County Judge Jolene Grubb Kopriva dismissed Rice’s suit after agreeing with the diocese that she waited too long to file it. By the calculation of the diocese and Kopriva, the time limit for filing the case expired in October 1987, two years after Rice’s 18th birthday.

However, Kunselman’s panel revived Rice’s suit by citing a state Supreme Court ruling that was handed down 10 months after Kopriva issued the dismissal.

New Pa. court ruling could open door for more decades-old clergy abuse suits

PITTSBURGH (PA)
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

June 11, 2019

By Liz Navratil and Peter Smith

A child sex abuse survivor's lawsuit against the Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown — filed after a 2016 grand jury report revealed decades of abuse and coverup there — can proceed to a jury, a state appellate court ruled on Tuesday.

The unanimous ruling by a three-judge Superior Court panel could open the door for similar lawsuits over decades-old abuse to be filed against six other dioceses, including Pittsburgh and Greensburg, which were subjects of a similar grand jury report last year.

Altoona-area woman Renee Rice sued the Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown and others in 2016 alleging fraud, constructive fraud and civil conspiracy, beginning with her sexual abuse as a child in the 1970s and 1980s and continuing as some in the church hid it.

While the diocese argued that the statute of limitations had expired in her case, Ms. Rice's attorney, Alan Perer, argued that she had no way of knowing about the extent of the cover-up until after a grand jury report was released in 2016. On Tuesday, a panel of Superior Court judges sided with Ms. Rice, sending her case back to Blair County Common Pleas Court for a possible jury trial.

US Catholic bishops, under fire, meet to consider proposals to police themselves

BALTIMORE (MD)
The Washington Post

June 11, 2019

By Michelle Boorstein and Julie Zauzmer

Facing double-barreled criticism of their handling of clergy sexual abuse and church finances, America's Catholic bishops began their annual spring meeting Tuesday vowing to codify for the first time rules to hold themselves accountable for misconduct.

The strong possibility that the U.S. Church will vote this week to create a system of bishop oversight is historic, though critics and watchdogs remain worried about a possible weakness: In the measures under consideration, all future probes will remain in-house. Lay people can be involved but it's not mandatory, and the pope retains full power over whether to keep or how to punish bishops.

"This week we continue a journey that will not end until there is not one instance of abuse in our church," Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, said in opening the meeting Tuesday morning.

The past year has seen church leaders - especially in the Northeast - enmeshed in scandals involving cardinals and bishops accused of engaging in sexual harassment and financial abuse, or looking the other way when their fellow, high-ranking peers did so. Just last week, The Washington Post reported that a Baltimore archbishop investigating sexual and financial misconduct by a West Virginia bishop edited out part of the investigative report that included the archbishop himself.

Former UCLA Campus Gynecologist Charged With Sexual Battery, Exploitation

LOS ANGELES (CA)
KTLA5

June 10, 2019

By Erika Martin and Wendy Burch

A gynecologist who worked nearly 30 years at UCLA's student health clinic, until retiring last year amid a misconduct investigation, is accused of sexually abusing patients, the university announced Monday.

James Heaps, 62, is charged with two counts of sexual battery by fraud and one count of sexual exploitation by a physician with two patients, according to Ricardo Santaigo, a public information officer with the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office.

Court records show the case was filed for warrant May 22 with a violation dated June 27, 2017.

Heaps pleaded not guilty at his arraignment Monday and was released without bail, the Associated Press reported.

The doctor surrendered to law enforcement Monday to face charges related his medical practice and encounters with two patients at UCLA Health in 2017 and 2018, UCLA said in a news release.

Former UCLA gynecologist charged with sexual battery against 2 patients, school says

LOS ANGELES (CA)
KABC

June 10, 2019

By ABC7.com staff

A former gynecologist at UCLA has been arrested and charged with sexual battery, university officials disclosed Monday.

Dr. James Heaps is facing charges related to two patients he treated at UCLA in 2017 and 2018, the school said.

Heaps worked as an obstetrician-gynecologist at the student health center from 1983 to 2010 and then was hired by UCLA Health in 2014. He also held medical staff privileges at Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center from 1988 to 2018.

Archbishop Lori: Three Priests Named in Bransfield Report Have Been Reassigned

WHEELING (WV)
The Intelligencer

June 10, 2019

Acting in his capacity as Apostolic Administrator of the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston, Archbishop William E. Lori Monday announced that three priests linked to former bishop Michael Bransfield — Frederick Annie, Kevin Quirk and Anthony Cincinnati — have resigned their administrative posts in the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston and assigned new duties.

The Rev. Frederick Annie resigned as Vicar General of the Diocese in September and has been assigned as Assistant Priest in Residence at St. Mary, Star City Parish in Morgantown.

The Rev. Anthony Cincinnati resigned as Vicar for Clergy and will continue serving as Pastor of St. Francis De Sales Parish in Morgantown.

Archbishop Lori: Mistake Not to List Priests Who Received Gifts From Bransfield

WHEELING (WV)
The Intelligencer

June 7, 2019

Archbishop William Lori on Friday said he made a mistake in asking that his name and those of 10 other powerful Catholic bishops and priests who received financial gifts from former Wheeling-Charleston Diocese bishop Michael Bransfield be omitted from a preliminary report.

In an 8-minute video posted by the Diocese, Lori, who serves as apostolic administrator of the Catholic Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston, addressed the matter after a Washington Post report revealed that Bransfield gave more than $350,000 in personal gifts to other priests — including Lori — and then had his compensation from the Diocese increased to cover the costs of the gifts.

The preliminary report said the personal gifts from Bransfield were part of a larger pattern of “excessive and inappropriate spending” that took place at the Diocese during his 13 years as bishop. Some examples include $2.4 million in travel by Bransfield — much of it personal travel — along with $4.6 million in renovations to his private residence — a home that soon will go up for sale, Lori said earlier this week.

George Pell’s days of reckoning

AUSTRALIA
The Saturday Paper

June 8-14, 2019

By Russell Marks.

The two-day hearing of Cardinal George Pell’s appeal against child sexual assault convictions ended on Thursday. The most senior Catholic to be found guilty of child abuse now waits to see if he will be freed.

Perhaps the most significant trial in Australia this century, The Queen v George Pell returned to court this week in Melbourne as the cardinal appealed his six-year jail sentence over the abuse of two choirboys in the 1990s. The case has absorbed the world and become a proxy for the ongoing tension between the traditions of criminal law – some arcane, some vital – and the mores and technologies of our time.

The Secret Truth About Boston Doctors

BOSTON (MA)
Boston Magazine

June 5, 2019

By Michael Damiano

Sexual misconduct, sloppy—sometimes catastrophic—mistakes, and a medical board that’s been known to look the other way. Local physicians keep getting away with bad medicine, but you may never know who they are until it’s too late.

When retired police sergeant Charles Antonio went under the knife of Michael Medlock, he was confident the neurosurgeon would eliminate the numbness in his fingers and toes, alleviate the pain in his legs, and improve his faltering balance due to compression in his spinal cord. After all, like many of us, Antonio believed Massachusetts had some of the best doctors in the country. He’d scoured the Internet for any information he could discover about his surgeon, though in truth he couldn’t find much: merely that Medlock was chief of neurosurgery at the Partners-affiliated North Shore Medical Center–Salem Hospital and had worked at Mass General, one of the top-ranked hospitals in the world. Now, on a gurney rolling toward the operating room, Antonio felt butterflies in his stomach, but he was comforted by the knowledge that the man who would be carving into his neck was a well-credentialed and experienced pro.

But things didn’t go as planned. Within days of the operation in September 2015, Antonio began suffering what he now describes as “ungodly pain” in his neck and shoulders. Antonio says he returned to Medlock, who prescribed opioid painkillers, ran some tests, and sent him home. Then things got worse. Antonio started hallucinating and verbally abusing his wife, Linda. He flushed the painkillers down the toilet, saying, “I’m not getting hooked on these. I’ve seen people addicted to drugs and liquor.” Still, the pain continued and his balance worsened, and by late October his condition had deteriorated to the point that he had to be hospitalized at the same facility where Medlock had operated on him a month earlier.

While Antonio was in his hospital room, he and Linda said another physician walked in with an update. The doctor knew Antonio was fond of Medlock and announced that Medlock was considering operating on Antonio again. Then the doctor offered a subtle yet chilling warning: “If I were you, Charlie,” Antonio recalls him saying, “I would find a new friend.”

U.S. Catholic bishops convene to confront the church’s sex-abuse crisis

BALTIMORE (MD)
The Associated Press

June 11, 2019

By Regina Garcia Cano and David Crary

The nation’s Roman Catholic bishops convened a high-stakes meeting Tuesday under pressure to confront the child sexual abuse crisis that has disillusioned many churchgoers, with one scholar warning: “We find ourselves at a turning point, a critical moment in our history.”

How the bishops confront the problem “will determine in many ways the future vibrancy of the church and whether or not trust in your leadership can be restored,” Francesco Cesareo, an academic who chairs a national sex-abuse review board set up by the bishops, said as the four-day gathering began.

Key proposals on the agenda call for compassionate pastoral care for abuse victims, a new abuse reporting system, and a larger role for lay experts in holding bishops accountable. Votes on the proposals are expected on Wednesday and Thursday.

The deliberations will be guided by a new law that Pope Francis issued on May 9. It requires priests and nuns worldwide to report sexual abuse as well as cover-ups by their superiors to church authorities.

When Should the Board Have Known?

WHEELING (WV)
Inside Higher Ed

June 11, 2019

By Rick Seltzer

Wheeling Jesuit board chair steps down in wake of confidential report revelations. But the timing of the departure -- and major changes at the university -- leave some wondering what might have been.

The board chairman at Wheeling Jesuit University is stepping down and leaving several other powerful positions at related Roman Catholic institutions in West Virginia, as church leaders announced a series of moves affecting high-ranking diocesan leaders Monday, days after details from a confidential report to the Vatican became public.

Monsignor Kevin Quirk announced his decision to step down as chair of Wheeling Jesuit’s Board of Trustees and president of the Board of Directors at Wheeling Hospital. He also resigned as judicial vicar and rector of the Cathedral of St. Joseph in the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston.

Also resigning from a top position at the diocese was Monsignor Anthony Cincinnati, who had been vicar for clergy. In addition, church leaders announced that Monsignor Frederick Annie resigned as vicar general of the diocese in September. All three will continue serving as priests in parishes.

June 11, 2019

More protections coming under new NJ sex abuse law

NEWARK (NJ)
Star Ledger

June 11, 2019

By Michael G. Donahue

After nearly 20 years of advocacy, New Jersey recently passed a historic law providing new and extended protections for victims of sexual abuse by lengthening the statute of limitations to pursue a civil claim as a result of various sexual abuse related offenses. Those who have fought for these extended protections should be commended for their perseverance and courage in sharing their emotional and painful experiences for the betterment of our society.

The new protections, signed into law by Gov. Phil Murphy, will take effect Dec. 1, 2019. It features the following reform measures:

A two-year window from enactment for the filing of any civil case alleging adult or minor sexual abuse that occurred in the past;
Those who were sexually abused in the past as minors who miss the two-year filing window will be able to bring their cause of action until the age of 55; and
Those 55 and older who allege delays in connecting past abuse to damages will have an opportunity to seek justice through the courts, within seven years from the date they made that connection.

This new law additionally eliminates notice of deadlines and procedures for potential claims against government entities. By adopting this law, New Jersey has recognized that the mere passage of time should not be the sole basis used to silence a legitimate claim against a sexual abuser or the organization that allowed or concealed abuse.

New Jersey’s new law comes soon after the state’s five Roman Catholic dioceses released the names of 188 priests credibly accused of sexually abusing minors over decades and the Boy Scouts of America released names of leaders accused of similar crimes. In tandem, the state also announced the creation of a compensation fund for the victims.

Victim sues Diocese of Rochester over claims of sexual abuse by priest

ROCHESTER (NY)
WHAM TV

June 11, 2019

A new lawsuit was filed against the Diocese of Rochester and several other local Catholic organizations Monday evening over allegations of sexual abuse.

The lawsuit was filed Monday evening in Monroe County and names several prominent religious organizations as defendants, including the Catholic Youth Organization of Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Rochester, Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Rochester, Most Holy Redeemer Paris and St. Bridget's Church.

According to the complaint, the allegations center around Father Francis Vogt, who is the brother of Monsignor Joseph Vogt. Francis Vogt has been the subject of previous sexual abuse accusations.

In 1969, the victim - whose name is not being disclosed by 13WHAM News due to the sexual abuse detailed in the lawsuit - was taken by Father Vogt to the Catholic Charities Catholic Youth Organization facility on Chestnut Street to swim. The victim was 5 years old at the time.

For two years, allegations detailed in the lawsuit claim Father Vogt sexually assaulted, abused and had sexual contact at both the Chestnut Street facility and at the victim's home.

The victim says the Diocese of Rochester and St. Bridget's "had a duty not to aid pedophiles such as Father Vogt by assigning, maintaining, and/or appointing them to positions with access to minors." The lawsuit goes on to claim the defendants knew or should have known about the abuse and covered it up.

Key takeaways about how Americans view the sexual abuse scandal in the Catholic Church

WASHINGTON (DC)
Pew Research Center

June 11, 2019

By Abigail Geiger

Reports of sex abuse by priests and other clergy are atop the agenda for two of America’s largest religious groups this week as both U.S. Catholic bishops and Southern Baptists gather for national meetings.

A new Pew Research Center survey examines Americans’ views on the sex abuse scandals in the Catholic Church, as well as in other religious groups. Here are six key findings from the report:

[bignumber]Vast majority of U.S. adults have heard about recent reports of sexual abuse in Catholic ChurchA clear majority of U.S. adults think recent reports of sexual abuse in the Catholic Church reflect problems that are still happening. Around eight-in-ten Americans (79%) say the reports of sexual abuse and misconduct by Catholic priests and bishops reflect ongoing problems, while far fewer (12%) think the reports reflect problems that happened in the past.

Bishop Talley says he's 'committed' to releasing list of clergy accused of sex abuse

MEMPHIS (TN)
Commercial Appeal

June 11, 2019

By Katherine Burgess

Bishop David Talley of the Catholic Diocese of Memphis is “committed to publishing a list” of clergy who are credibly accused of sexual abuse of minors, according to a news release from the diocese.

The news comes a day after SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, called on the diocese to publish the names, photos and work histories of credibly accused clergy on its website.

According to the release, Talley has met twice with the review board of the diocese, which is tasked with examining and advising the bishop on matters of clergy sexual abuse of minors.

“In each of those meetings, Bishop Talley emphasized how much he values the work of the Review Board, the seriousness with which they take each allegation, and their dedication to ensuring the safety of children,” the release stated.

Two comprehensive reviews of the diocesan files on priests have already taken place, one by the former district attorney general of Shelby County, according to the release.

Talley has directed the lay members of the review board to do an independent review of the files “out of an abundance of caution and because he has arrived in Memphis so recently,” according to the release. Then, they will give Talley a list of names of credibly accused clergy.

Survivors and advocates demand an embrace of secular investigations

ST. LOUIS (MO)
Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests

June 10, 2019

Six months ago, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) met in Baltimore amidst a cascade of revelations about abuse and cover-up. They were poised to fulfill dramatic promises to American Catholics and the public to hold themselves accountable and transparent.

Instead, they did not enact any meaningful reform and failed to deliver on any of those promises. In the months following that failed meeting, Church officials – including Pope Francis – have spoken of the importance of reform. This week the bishops once again have addressing the abuse scandal at the top of their schedule.

The two likely measures the bishops will pass this week include setting up a nationwide "hotline" for information on misconduct by bishops and adopting the "Metropolitan" model to investigate themselves. Both of these measures are deeply flawed and unlikely to result in the change that parishioners and the public have demanding.

Any reform that leaves the ultimate authority for investigating abuse and cover up in the hands of Church officials instead of secular law enforcement is no reform at all. Rather, it is the continuation of how bishops have responded to cases of sex abuse since 2002, just updated and codified as a new policy. Yet new policies and declarations that do not make secular and independent investigations central to their design will never succeed.

Church officials promised in 2002 that “fraternal correction” would be the bulwark that would keep bishops in line. Instead, we have had two more decades of failure to curb sexual abuse. We continue to see – as recently as last week – high ranking Church officials ignoring their own protocols in cases of clergy abuse.

The bishops’ way of internal policing has been a disaster. Internal investigations are a cancer that allows and enables abuse and cover up. More of the same will not remedy the problem.

So, what does work? What kind of change is needed that will lead to a cure?

We believe the answer is secular involvement and investigations. The substantial and historic progress that has been made in the past six months has been due to ongoing revelations, investigations, and prosecutions by criminal and civil authorities. Nearly 20 states and the Department of Justice are now actively investigating clergy abuse. Several investigations – including those in Michigan and New Jersey – have already resulted in arrests. Several others have seized documents and records related to Church-led responses to cases of abuse, helping to pry back the veil of secrecy and force the transparency that bishops have promised since 2002.

Another Priest from the Diocese of Fresno Suspended

ST. LOUIS (MO)
Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests

June 11, 2019

Another priest has been suspended from the Diocese of Fresno due to allegations of sexual abuse. This time, the action was not taken due to recent allegations, but because a new person in charge took the time to review old cases.

We are glad that Church officials from the Diocese of Fresno are looking deeper at cases of abuse within their diocese. We are also glad that they are taking steps to remove priests – like Fr. Eric Swearengin – that may present a danger to their communities.

When a survivor, Juan Rocha, first reported the allegations against Fr. Swearengin to Bishop Steinbock and the Diocese of Fresno, Church officials declared the allegations “not credible.” Yet in 2006 and after reviewing the evidence, a jury determined that Fr. Swearengin had abused Juan Rocha. The priest should have been removed from ministry at that point, considering the “zero tolerance” pledge made by U.S. bishops in 2002.

SNAP protesters demand cardinal Daniel Dinardo step down as USCCB president

HOUSTON (TX)
Channel 39

June 11, 2019

By Courtney Carpenter

As the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops starts, some are calling for cardinal Daniel Dinardo to step down from his leadership role, saying he’s not qualified. Dinardo is president of the organization, which is supposed to be addressing the issue of sexual abuse in the church at its conference this week.

Some are saying that Dinardo is not qualified to lead discussions on how to hold priests accountable for sexual abuse or for covering up sexual abuse because of recent revelations of abuse in his own diocese.

About a dozen members of the Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests— or SNAP — gathered outside the Co-Cathedral of the Scared Heart Monday to call for Dinardo to step down.

“In our opinion, he’s not capable of leading, nor does he have the moral authority to lead us out of this issue," protester Michael Norris said. "We’ve had four cases right here in houston where he has totally mishandled.”

One of the cases he’s talking about is one we told you about last week.

You may remember the exclusive Associated Press story on a local woman who claims she was sexually abused by Monsingor Frank Rossi, who was one of Dinardo’s highest ranking deputies. The woman said she was told he would never counsel women again, only to find out months later that he was moved to another parish to pastor there.

After the calls for Dinardo to step down from his position as USCCB president, the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston released a statement.

Southern Baptists To Confront Sexual Abuse And Role Of Women In The Church

WASHINGTON (DC)
NPR

June 11, 2019

By Tom Gjelten

Southern Baptists, who in 1995 apologized for their past defense of slavery and in 2017 denounced white supremacy, are resolved once again to show their sensitivity to a pressing social concern. The 2019 convention in Birmingham, Ala., is focusing heavily on the problem of sexual abuse by church leaders.

Among the resolutions likely to be debated are proposals to discipline churches that mishandle abuse allegations. Dozens of Southern Baptist women in recent years have come forward with stories of clergy misconduct and of church officials failing to respond. Earlier this year, The Houston Chronicle and The San Antonio Express-News reported that nearly 400 male Southern Baptist leaders or volunteers had been accused of sexual misconduct over the past 20 years, involving more than 700 victims.

“There’s a question of, ‘Can we trust our church leaders not only [not to abuse] but also to prohibit people who could be abusers from having a place where they could do it with impunity?’ ” says Pastor J.D. Greear, president of the Southern Baptist Convention. As one of his first acts after being elected at last year’s convention, Greear ordered the formation of an advisory council to draft recommendations for dealing with the abuse problem.

“You’re going to see a convention that is united in its agreement on the fact that this cannot be tolerated in our churches and that we have to do whatever it takes, regardless of what it costs us, to make our churches safe places,” Greear told NPR.

Protesters call for removal of two members of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops

BALTIMORE (MD)
WBFF TV

June 11, 2019

Today, a a non-profit charity called Road to Recovery, Inc. will hold a press conference demanding the firing, removal, or resignation of two members of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, President Cardinal Daniel DiNardo of the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston, Texas, and Bishop Curtis Guillory, Bishop of the Diocese of Beaumont, Texas.

The president of the charity, Robert M. Hoatson, says these removals must take place before the June 11-14, 2019 meetings of the USCCB begin on the morning of June 11, 2019.

Opaque finances enable church’s abuse scandal

WASHINGTON (DC)
Washington Post

June 10, 2019

The breadth and depth of corruption in the Catholic Church seem boundless, and colored by the ongoing dysfunction arising from clergy sex abuse and the hierarchy’s inability to grapple with it. Some of the misdeeds and cover-ups have been facilitated by a law that exempts religious institutions and affiliated charitable entities from financial reporting that is required of other nonprofit organizations. Even as the Vatican, seeking to move beyond its protracted season of scandal, calls for a new era of transparency, the church’s finances in the United States remain opaque.

That apparent discrepancy between rhetoric and reality was highlighted by a stunning account in The Washington Post focusing on the opulent lifestyle, and extravagant palm-greasing, undertaken for years by now-disgraced former bishop of West Virginia Michael Bransfield. The story revealed that Archbishop William Lori of Baltimore, who oversaw an investigation into sexual harassment allegations against Bransfield, whitewashed the resulting report to expunge the fact that he - along with 10 other of the most prominent and influential clerics in the United States and the Vatican — were paid thousands of dollars from what amounted to a slush fund controlled by the bishop.

You read that correctly: The archbishop, having received substantial monetary “gifts” from the bishop, had that fact scrubbed from the report that he himself supervised. And he scrubbed more famous names, including those of current and former cardinals in New York, Boston, Washington and the Vatican, who were showered with cash from the same source.

The fact that the slush fund, which dispensed $350,000, was controlled by the free-spending, large-living bishop of West Virginia, one of the poorest states in the nation, is a self-evident irony. That the funds were lavished not just on cardinals but also on some of the young priests whom Bransfield is accused of abusing and molesting speaks to the conspiracy of silence at the heart of the church’s sex abuse scandal.

India child rape, murder case: 3 men get life sentences

BERLIN (GERMANY)
Deutsche Welle

June 11, 2019

An Indian court on Monday sentenced three men to life in jail for therape and killing of an 8-year-old Muslim girl, identified as Asifa, in the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir.

The prosecution had sought the death penalty. Three others, including two policemen, were convicted of the lesser crimes of destroying evidence. They received five-year sentences.

A seventh man was acquitted for lack of evidence, while an eighth person, who was underage, is being tried separately.

"This is a victory for truth," prosecution lawyer Mubeen Farooqi told reporters outside the court. "The girl and her family have received justice today. We are satisfied with the judgement."

A lawyer representing the accused told reporters that they planned to appeal the verdict.

Archbishop William Lori: Priests Listed in Bransfield Report Out

WHEELING (WV)
The Intelligencer

June 11, 2019

By Alex Meyer

Three high-ranking priests tied to former bishop Michael Bransfield have resigned from their managerial roles in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston, Archbishop William Lori announced Monday.

The Revs. Frederick Annie, Kevin Quirk and Anthony Cincinnati resigned from their administrative posts in the diocese and were assigned new duties elsewhere in West Virginia. All three were mentioned in the diocese’s preliminary investigative report of Bransfield’s conduct, the details of which were made public last week by The Washington Post. That report recommended that the three, Bransfield’s closest aides, be removed from the diocese.

“By failing to take any action, the chancery monsignors enabled the predatory and harassing conduct of Bishop Bransfield, and allowed him to recklessly spend Diocesan funds for his own personal use,” the report states.

Bransfield, who served as bishop of the diocese for 13 years before retiring, has been accused of excessive spending of church funds, sexual harassment of adults within the church and using millions of dollars of church funds for personal gifts to other church officials, for personal travel and to renovate his church-owned residence.

Lori said that Annie resigned as vicar general of the diocese in September and has been assigned as assistant priest in residence at St. Mary Parish in Star City, just outside Morgantown.

Quirk resigned Monday as judicial vicar and rector of the Cathedral of St. Joseph in Wheeling. He also resigned from his position on the boards of directors at Wheeling Jesuit University and Wheeling Hospital.

Now, Quirk will serve as a priest in residence at the Mater Dolorosa (Paden City) and St. Vincent De Paul (New Martinsville) parishes and Holy Rosary (Sistersville) and St. Joseph (Proctor) missions, where he will assist Administrator Rev. Brian J. Crenwelge in his pastoral duties.

Per the report, both Quirk and Annie discussed concerns about Bransfield’s conduct with young men but did nothing to stop it.

Michigan bill boosts spending to combat lead, abusive clergy

LANSING (MI)
Associated Press

June 11, 2019

A $28.8 million spending bill nearing legislative approval would allocate funding to combat lead in Michigan drinking water systems and investigate sexual assaults by clergy.

The Senate is expected to send the supplemental budget measure to Gov. Gretchen Whitmer on Tuesday.

It includes $3 million for public health services needed as a result of Michigan implementing the nation's toughest lead-in-water rules in the wake of Flint's water crisis. There also is $635,000 for the state attorney general's criminal probe of abuse by Catholic priests.

Prosecutors crack down on clergy abuse as bishops gather

DETROIT (MI)
Associated Press

June 11, 2019

By Juliet Linderman, Garance Burke and Martha Mendoza

Hundreds of boxes. Millions of records. From Michigan to New Mexico this month, attorneys general are sifting through files on clergy sex abuse, seized through search warrants and subpoenas at dozens of archdioceses.

They're looking to prosecute, and not just priests. If the boxes lining the hallways of Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel's offices contain enough evidence, she said, she is considering using state racketeering laws usually reserved for organized crime. Prosecutors in Michigan are even volunteering on weekends to get through all the documents as quickly as possible.

For decades, leaders of the Roman Catholic Church were largely left to police their own. But now, as American bishops gather for a conference to confront the reignited sex-abuse crisis this week, they're facing the most scrutiny ever from secular law enforcement.

A nationwide Associated Press query of more than 20 state and federal prosecutors last week found they are looking for legal means to hold higher ups in the church accountable for sex abuse. They have raided diocesan offices, subpoenaed files, set up victim tip lines and launched sweeping investigations into decades-old allegations. Thousands of people have called hotlines nationwide, and five priests have recently been arrested.

"Some of the things I've seen in the files makes your blood boil, to be honest with you," Nessel said. "When you're investigating gangs or the Mafia, we would call some of this conduct a criminal enterprise."

If a prosecutor applies racketeering laws, also known as RICO, against church leaders, bishops and other church officials could face criminal consequences for enabling predator priests, experts say. Such a move by Michigan or one of the other law enforcement agencies would mark the first known time that actions by a diocese or church leader were branded a criminal enterprise akin to organized crime.

Archbishop who called on pope to resign now living in self-imposed exile

ROME (ITALY)
Washington Post

June 11, 2019

By Stefano Pitrelli and Chico Harlan

The retired Vatican ambassador to Washington wrote a bombshell letter last summer calling on Pope Francis to resign on the grounds that he had tolerated a known sexual abuser. As that letter was published, Viganò turned off his phone, told friends he was disappearing, and let the church sort through the fallout.

Nine months later, in his first extended interview since that moment, Viganò refused to disclose his location or say much about his self-imposed exile. But his comments indicate that, even in hiding, he is maintaining his role as the fiercest critic of the Francis era, acting either as an honourable rebel or, as his critics see it, as an ideological warrior attacking a pope he doesn't like.

Viganò corresponded by email with The Washington Post over two months, writing 8,000 words in response to nearly 40 questions. He was blistering in his criticism of Francis, saying "it is immensely sad" that the pope was "blatantly lying to the whole world to cover up his wicked deeds."

The Vatican has had little official response to Viganò. A communications official declined to comment for this story. But Francis last month responded for the first time to Viganò's summer letter. The pope said he knew "nothing, obviously, nothing" about the misconduct of former cardinal Theodore McCarrick and could not remember if he had been personally warned about McCarrick by Viganò in 2013. Viganò claimed to have told Francis that McCarrick had "corrupted generations of seminarians and priests."

"How could anybody, especially a pope, forget this?" Viganò wrote to The Post.

McCarrick was defrocked in February after the case exploded into public view and he was found guilty in a Vatican proceeding for "sins" with minors and adults.

Bishops to return ‘gifts’ from disgraced Bishop Bransfield

LONDON (ENGLAND)
Catholic Herald

June 11, 2019

ByAaron Benavides

Cardinal Kevin Farrell and Archbishop William Lori are among senior clergy who received gifts from the bishop

Several cardinals, bishops, and priests, have said they will return money given to them by Bishop Michael J. Bransfield, the former head of the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston, after an article published by the Washington Post reported lavish spending and gift-giving by the West Virginia bishop.

Cardinal Kevin Farrell, the Vatican Prefect of the Dicastery for Laity, Family, and Life, will return $29,000 given to him by Bransfield for renovations of his Rome apartment, reported the Washington Post.

Archbishop William E. Lori, the Archbishop of Baltimore and Apostolic Administrator of Wheeling-Charleston tasked with investigating Bransfield, said he would return $7,500.

The former Apostolic Nuncio to the United States, Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, said he donated the $6,000 given to him shortly after he received the gifts from Bransfield.

Catholic News Agency reported that Cardinal Donal Wuerl, the former Archbishop of Washington, received $23,600 and is planning on returning the money to the diocese.

Fresno Diocese places priest who previously served in Bakersfield on paid administrative leave

FRESNO (CA)
KGET TV

June 10, 2019

The Roman Catholic Diocese of Fresno has placed a priest who previously served in Bakersfield on paid administrative leave due to information related to a civil case dating back to 2009, according to a statement from the bishop.

Rev. Eric Swearingen, pastor of Good Shepherd Catholic Parish in Visalia, was placed on leave June 5, according to the statement from Bishop Joseph V. Brennan read over the weekend to churches in the parish.

“I understand that this is very difficult information for you to receive; especially at a time when Fr. Eric is very seriously ill,” Brennan wrote. “Please be assured that we will do all we can to support Fr. Eric and maintain his level of medical care without interruption. I am deeply concerned for his well-being.”

The Visalia Times-Delta has reported Swearingen has brain cancer. the paper said Swearingen was accused in 2006 of molesting a teen altar boy “many years earlier” but no criminal charges were filed.

The alleged abuse, according to a report by Los Angeles-based law firm Jeff Anderson & Associates, occurred from 1989 to 1993 at Our Lady of Guadalupe in Bakersfield.

A civil jury found the priest likely abused the boy, the paper reported, but that the diocese had no prior knowledge of the abuse. A mistrial was declared.

The paper reported a second trial was scheduled but both sides agreed to binding arbitration.

The Anderson & Associates report lists several dozen former and current priests in the Diocese of Fresno who have been accused of sexual misconduct.

Among them is Msgr. Craig Harrison, placed on leave as pastor of St. Francis Church in Bakersfield earlier this year when allegations surfaced of misconduct at parishes where he previously worked. An investigation into the alleged misconduct is ongoing.

As Deadline Looms, More Than 200 To File Clergy Sex Abuse Claims

ALBUQUERQUE (NM)
KUNM Radio

June 11, 2019

By Hannah Colton

More than 200 people are bringing claims of sexual abuse against the Archdiocese of Santa Fe as the church goes through a bankruptcy. Anyone who still wants to file a claim has until next Monday to do it.

June 17 at 5 p.m. is the cutoff to get in on the settlement that the archdiocese will negotiate with survivors of clergy sex abuse.

Cammie Nichols is a partner at the Rothstein Donatelli LLP, representing a couple dozen survivors. She says this deadline can be really difficult for people who aren’t sure if they’re ready to talk about what happened to them.

"We're getting calls at like 1:45 in the morning on the paralegal’s cell phone and she tries to get back in touch but they hang up, and she can’t get back in touch with them," said Nichols. "It’s like, they’re struggling to come forward, and they recognize the deadline, but they’re really having trouble."

The bankruptcy system is set up to protect peoples’ identities, said Nichols, so claimants will remain anonymous unless they choose to go public. "We just encourage anybody who wants their voice to be heard and to be part of this process that they gather up the courage to do it and to call somebody."

June 10, 2019

Diocesan board heard Bishop Weldon sexual abuse allegations, former member maintains

SPRINGFIELD (MA)
The Republican

June 11, 2019

By Anne-Gerard Flynn

When the Roman Catholic Diocese of Springfield initiated a review board in 1992 to hear testimony of clergy sex abuse victims, as well as that of alleged abusers, veteran clinical psychologist Patricia Martin was asked to volunteer as one of the initial members.

She did for six years, sometimes weekly, motivated in part as a mother of four children wanting to protect all youngsters from abuse, but knowing the board could only recommend to the bishop which allegations were credible to remove a priest from ministry.

Last year, Martin found herself involved with the review board again — this time in support of an alleged victim who told her by way of seeking advice that he had been abused multiple times and at multiple locations. He claimed he was abused at the hands of the late Bishop Christopher J. Weldon, as well as by at least two other now deceased priests, Joseph Clarence W. Forand and Edward Authier, at St. Anne’s Parish in Chicopee.

He wanted to know if he would be doing the right thing to go before the board to tell his story and asked Martin if she would she go with him if he did.

He did and what he said in terms of allegations against Weldon is now being disputed by the diocese as never having been made to the board. Martin, who had accompanied the man, recently told the Berkshire Eagle, which that broke the story, that the Springfield diocese is “lying” to protect Weldon, who served as its fourth bishop from 1950 through 1977 and built many of its schools and churches.

“This is the story he told,” said Martin of what the alleged victim told the board in June 2018. He confirmed it again through Martin on Monday for The Republican.

“In my 35 years of being a clinical psychologist, this was the worst abuse I heard of a darling little boy,” she said.

“This survivor had repressed memories that began to surface about six years ago and he came to feel he had to go to the church and tell them,” said Martin who said she felt the need to speak out as a practicing Catholic, as well as for the victim whom she said was not ready to be interviewed by the press, but was willing to have details of his abuse disclosed by her.

The alleged victim, after several years of counseling on his own, approached diocesan officials in 2015, Martin said. He told them of his abuse and sought reimbursement for his counseling.

In April 2018, she said he recounted his story to the investigator who meets with alleged victims on behalf of the review board. That same month, the man met with Martin and two of his friends to discuss appearing before the review board.

Washington Post Magazine gives voice to unsung evangelical whistleblowers/bloggers

Get Religion blog

June 10, 2019

By Julia Duin

I’ve written for the Washington Post Magazine more than a dozen times, but I’ve never known it to be all that interested in certain inside baseball aspects of American religious culture. Stories always had to connect with a larger issue –- usually politics -– to get in.

Which is why I was happily surprised to see this recent feature on the corps of bloggers who’ve been going after Protestant churches that have tolerated — if not outright encouraged — sexual and spiritual abuse. And there’s a bunch of them out there and many of these congregations are quite large.

Those of us who are insiders on the beat have known about the Wartburg Watch, the most famous of these blogs, for years.

Abuse victims blast Catholic officials

MEMPHIS (TN)
Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests

They ‘out’ 2 more local abuser clerics

Both worked in Memphis but are ‘under the radar’

But the diocese won’t post a ‘credibly accused’ list

Most other bishops in the US have already done so

“Include a serial predator who was at a local school,” SNAP says

And group urges Tennessee’s AG to investigate all TN dioceses

WHAT:

Holding signs at a sidewalk news conference, clergy molestation victims will disclose the names and information about two more credibly alleged pedophile priests who were in Memphis, neither of whom have attracted any public or media attention in the area.

They will also blast Memphis Catholic officials for refusing to

--post names of credibly accused clerics and

--disclose a predator priest who was at a Memphis school.

They will call on Memphis’ bishop to reveal these alleged offenders’ names, photos, whereabouts and work histories immediately.

And they’ll call on current and former Catholic employees to ‘speak up’ about suspicions of child sex crimes and cover ups, in light of a new global church policy that says it’s their duty to do so.

WHEN:

Monday, June 10 at 200 p.m.

SNAP Demands Transparency in Transfer of Msgr. Frank Rossi

ST. LOUIS (MO)
Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests

June 10, 2019

Beaumont’s Catholic bishop let a priest into his diocese who had been accused of sexually exploiting a vulnerable adult parishioner for years. Now, he must fully and publicly disclose what steps he took in vetting the cleric prior to assigning him to a parish.

Bishop Curtis Guillory accepted a close aide of Houston’s Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, Msgr. Frank Rossi, into the Beaumont diocese. The bishop then put him to work in an East Texas parish.

Yet a detailed Associated Press story, based in part on years of email exchanges, reveals that Msgr. Rossi reportedly manipulated and abused a devout married woman who he was counseling. In Texas and some other states, that is a crime.

A recent story in a Catholic publication confirms that a formal complaint about Msgr. Rossi’s alleged abuse has been filed with the Vatican.

Zanchetta formally charged with abusing seminarians

LONDON (ENGLAND)
Catholic Herald

June 10, 2019

A bishop close to Pope Francis has been formally charged with sexually assaulting two seminarians.

Bishop Gustavo Zanchetta has been barred from leaving Argentina and must undergo a psychological evaluation later this week, according to InfoCatólica. He faces between three and ten years in prison if convicted.

Zanchetta, who was one of Pope Francis’s first appointments in his home country, was first accused of “strange behaviour” in 2015 when pornographic pictures, including naked selfies, were found on his phone.

The Vatican initially claimed it only knew of complaints against Zanchetta in 2018, but a former vicar general of the bishop’s diocese said he first reported Zanchetta in 2015.

“It was an alarm that we made to the Holy See via some friendly bishops. The nunciature didn’t intervene directly, but the Holy Father summoned Zanchetta and he justified himself saying that his cellphone had been hacked, and that there were people who were out to damage the image of the Pope.”

Pope Francis allowed Zanchetta to resign as Bishop of Orán in August 2017. The Vatican Press Office gave no reason for Zanchetta’s resignation at the time, but the bishop cited ill health. In December that year, Pope Francis appointed him to as Assessor to the Administration of the Patrimony of the Apostolic See, a position specially created for him.

In a recent interview, Pope Francis confirmed there is also a canonical investigation of Zanchetta. “Before I asked for his resignation, there was an accusation, and I immediately made him come over with the person who accused him and explain it,” the Pope said.

Group to hold press conference calling on resignation of Cardinal DiNardio as president of U.S. bishops

HOUSTON (TX)
KHOU Channel 11

June 10, 2019

By Chloe Alexander

The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, better known as SNAP, is expected to hold a press conference Monday afternoon calling for the resignation of Cardinal DiNardo as president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB.

This comes after Cardinal DiNardo was accused of covering up a case in which his deputy allegedly manipulated a woman into a sexual relationship, even as the deputy counseled the woman’s husband on their marriage and solicited their donations, according to the Associated Press.

“We believe Cardinal DiNardo no longer possesses the moral authority to lead this organization,” the group said in a brief statement.

The allegations against DiNardo came days before he presides over the 2019 USCCB Spring General Assembly in Baltimore. The assembly, which will adopt new accountability measures, will be held from June 11-14.

The SNAP press conference will start at 3:30 p.m. in front of the Co-Cathedral of the Sacred Heart.

We plan on streaming the press conference live on our website and our Facebook, Twitter and YouTube accounts.

Californian exclusive: Suspended priest Craig Harrison, back from self-exile, formulates his defense

BAKERSFIELD (CA)
Bakersfield Californian

June 10, 2019

By Robert Price

"Welcome to the bat cave," Monsignor Craig Harrison's attorney announced. "Look up here."

Three large, brown sheets of easel paper were taped to the wall of the small, bare office, furnished only with a simple desk and two facing, upright chairs. Harrison, wearing a crisply ironed short-sleeve shirt, slid into the chair facing his lawyer. He looked to be 10 pounds lighter than the Father Craig his parishioners would remember.

Kyle Humphrey gestured toward the wall, where the easel paper had been arranged into one giant, blue-felt-tip scrawl of numbered names and dates. Blue lines connected some of the names to other names and some of the dates to other dates.

This was more war room than bat cave. This was the bunker, just across the hall from Humphrey's cluttered office, where, for weeks now, he has been formulating a defense for his most celebrated client, a popular priest suspended from his clerical duties while investigators look into allegations of sexual impropriety.

"Now look," Humphrey said again, and the lawyerly lecture began.

Humphrey has looked at hundreds of cases, both as a prosecutor and, for most of the past 30 years, a defense lawyer, but none have been anything like this: a trial, of sorts, with no reliably traveled path to exoneration.

Harrison, a gregarious, highly visible monsignor, was suspended April 24 by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Fresno, which announced it was revisiting accusations that Harrison had inappropriately touched a teenager while working at a Catholic church in Firebaugh in the 1990s. A second man contacted the diocese a few days later, also alleging "inappropriate behavior."

Harrison was still recovering from an exhausting succession of Masses and other Easter weekend events when, that Tuesday night, he received a call from the diocese requesting his presence in Fresno the next morning.

"He just said, 'I need to talk to you,'" Harrison said of his phone conversation with Bishop Armando Ochoa. "'Can you come down?' I said, 'I have a funeral (to officiate).' And he says, 'Can you get out of it?'"

Southern Baptists’ Midlife Crisis

NEW YORK (NY)
The Atlantic

June 10, 2019

By Jonathan Merritt

In the summer of 1979, conservatives within the Southern Baptist Convention gathered in Houston for their annual meeting with the goal of seizing control of the nation’s largest Protestant denomination. These conservatives claimed that theological liberalism had taken root in the denomination’s seminaries and agencies and was taking the group down the path of heresy. Seminary professors were openly questioning the historical accuracy of some of the Bible’s miraculous stories such as Noah’s flood. Progressive churches were embracing the ordination of women and even debating accepting LGBTQ people into the life of the church. These “problems” could only be corrected by a disruptive overhaul of leadership.

To shift the balance of power, these conservatives implemented a strategy that was as simple as it was genius: recruit and assemble messengers who would attend the denomination’s annual meeting and vote for a handpicked conservative for the SBC presidency. The new president would, in turn, nominate only conservatives to serve on governing boards of seminaries and agencies. And finally, once conservatives controlled a majority share of these boards, they would replace establishment liberal leaders with conservative foot soldiers.

Some 15,000 Southern Baptist messengers gathered in Houston in 1979, and after the ballots were counted, a fiery 47-year-old conservative preacher named Adrian Rogers was elected president. His unparalleled command of rhetoric and uncompromising belief in the inerrancy of scripture made him the perfect person to inaugurate the conservative revolution. Rogers only received 51 percent of the vote over several other candidates, but that was enough. His election was the toppling of the first domino, triggering a purge of left-leaning leaders and churches from the denomination. Just like that, the Southern Baptist Convention was born again.

This week the group gathers in Birmingham, Alabama, exactly 40 years since the Southern Baptist Convention as we know it came into existence. Just like many individuals of similar age, the denomination is experiencing a bit of a midlife crisis, defined by lack of purpose and deep internal conflict. Our rapidly changing world has, in the words of Baylor University historian Barry Hankins, “thrust the group into the middle of an identity crisis.” In the early days of their revolution, conservative SBC leaders united around the common goal of defeating their left-leaning brethren. But the liberals are long gone now, leaving no enemies for these “battling Baptists” to fight—except themselves.

Sexual abuse in the SBC: what will it take to prompt meaningful action?

NASHVILLE (TN)
Baptist News Global

June 10, 2019

By Christa Brown

For about six years between 2006 and 2012 I posted on a website the Southern Baptist clergy sex abuse cases that were publicly reported. During that time, I put together a small database of 167 cases, many with multiple victims.

With every case, I wondered: “Will this be enough? Will this finally be enough that Southern Baptist Convention officials will see the scope and horror of the problem and realize they need to do something?”

It never was. It was never enough.

Other bloggers also began posting Southern Baptist clergy sex abuse stories. And I wondered again, “Would it ever be enough?”

But it never was.

Last February, the Houston Chronicle and San Antonio Express-News published the first part of their “Abuse of Faith” series, documenting 700 victims who reported having been sexually abused by Southern Baptist clergy and church leaders.

Recent proposals “appear oriented more toward saving face for SBC officials than toward genuinely protecting kids”.

Yet again I wondered, “Would these 700 be enough?”

They weren’t.


What Catholic bishops must do to prevent sexual abuse and hold clergy accountable

WASHINGTON (DC)
USA Today

June 10, 2019

By Tim Busch

Rarely do Americans pay attention to the biannual assemblies of the nation’s Roman Catholic bishops, but the gathering that starts on Tuesday in Baltimore will be different.

Millions of people, Catholic and not, are asking the same question: What new steps will the bishops take to clean up — or clean out — the church after years of sex abuse scandals?

This is a question the bishops take seriously. At its meeting last November, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) was ready to vote on measures that would increase accountability for church leaders. While the Vatican intervened at the 11th hour, it did so because it was preparing to release reforms of its own, which were unveiled in May.

The Vatican’s new policy is a big step in the right direction. Rome has also been working much closer with the U.S. church to penalize bad actors. But America's bishops should see it as a starting point, not the final word. Building on Pope Francis' good actions, the USCCB should pass long overdue reforms that give regular Catholics — known as “lay Catholics” — a greater role in keeping bishops and priests accountable.

SBC advisory panel issues sexual abuse report

BIRMINGHAM (AL)
Baptist Press

June 8, 2019

By Tom Strode

The Southern Baptist Sexual Abuse Advisory Study issued a report Saturday after 10 months of work with the hope that God will use it to "spark a movement of healing and reform."

The 52-page report -- produced by a fluid study group formed last July by new Southern Baptist Convention President J.D. Greear -- was released three days before the SBC's annual meeting in Birmingham, Ala. Sexual abuse has been increasingly revealed to be a significant problem among Southern Baptists the last two years, and it will be a focus before and during the meeting. The Advisory Study will make a presentation at the SBC meeting Wednesday afternoon.

The Advisory Study, which worked in collaboration with the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC), conducted interviews with hundreds of sexual abuse survivors, as well as church leaders and national experts in the field, according to the report. The report -- which includes testimonies from several survivors -- seeks "to begin to educate our churches on the abuse crisis, equip our churches to care well for survivors, and prepare our churches to prevent abuse."

While acknowledging the report is not intended to be either exhaustive or "fully prescriptive," the Advisory Study says one of its aims "is to begin to illuminate the evil that has occurred within our midst by sharing the stories of survivors of sexual abuse." The report expresses gratitude to the "brave men and women" who told their stories of abuse so the SBC could understand the scope of the "sexual abuse crisis" it faces.

"We must not rest until Southern Baptist churches are places where [the dignity of being an image bearer of God] has been restored to survivors of sexual abuse and where leadership at all levels fights against the scourge of sexual abuse in all its forms and never covers over or protects abusers," the report says. "We are committed to becoming churches that are safe for survivors and safe from abuse."

Greear said the report "is a good first step at capturing where we have come from and where we must go to serve the vulnerable."

"At its core, the Gospel is about God's commitment to protect the vulnerable," Greear said in written comments for Baptist Press. "The cross shows us that He is a safe refuge for all who run to Him. What greater lie could we tell about the Gospel than for us not to be doing whatever it takes to make our churches a safe place for the vulnerable?"

Top Catholic Priest Under Investigation for Relationship With Parishioner

Daily Beast

June 8, 2019

By Emily Shugerman

A top priest in the Texas Catholic Church is under investigation for allegedly carrying on a sexual relationship with a woman from whom he received confession, according to the Associated Press. Houston resident Laura Pontikes accused Monsignor Frank Rossi of coercing her into a sexual relationship while continuing to absolve her sins—one of the most serious crimes in Catholic law. She also accused Galveston-Houston Archbishop Daniel DiNardo—who is leading the church’s response to the sexual abuse crisis in the U.S.—of mishandling the case by allowing Rossi to stay in the ministry. Rossi was removed from the Houston parish following Pontikes’ complaint, but allowed him to return to another diocese after completing treatment. The Galveston-Houston archdiocese has criticized news reports of the issue as biased and one-sided, and maintains that the relationship was consensual. The archdiocese added this week that the confession aspect was a “new development” that would be “thoroughly reviewed in accordance with canon law.” Houston police are also investigating.

‘Caring Well Challenge’ on abuse launched

NASHVILLE (TN)
Baptist Press

June 9, 2019

By Tom Strode

The Southern Baptist effort to address sexual abuse in churches has taken another step with the launch of the "Caring Well Challenge," a joint call for congregations to become equipped to prevent predatory behavior and to care for survivors.

The Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC) and the Sexual Abuse Advisory Study announced the cost-free initiative Thursday. They issued an invitation to all Southern Baptist churches to participate. All the convention's entities, more than 35 Southern Baptist state conventions, and many Baptist associations and colleges have endorsed the "Caring Well Challenge," according to an ERLC release.

The ERLC and the Sexual Abuse Advisory Study -- which was named by Southern Baptist Convention President J.D. Greear -- also have collaborated with LifeWay Christian Resources to produce "Becoming a Church That Cares Well for the Abused." The new, free multimedia resource is a comprehensive training curriculum that consists of a handbook with 12 video lessons from experts in a variety of areas.

Regarding the "Caring Well Challenge," Greear makes an appeal to churches to participate in a video on the initiative's website, caringwell.com

"The 'Caring Well Challenge' provides your church with a pathway to start engaging the problem of abuse," Greear says. "This is an opportunity for you to say, 'Yes, yes, our church is ready to do whatever it takes to confront the abuse crisis and to care for the abused.'"

ERLC President Russell Moore acknowledged in a news release announcing the challenge, "There is no quick fix for an issue as complex as church sexual abuse. But this initiative is an outstanding step designed to join our churches together in a common cause.

"Over the last year, I've spoken with hundreds of pastors and leaders who are determined to make this issue a priority in their churches, but are looking for tools and training," Moore said. "That's exactly what this challenge is designed to provide.

It has been a joy to partner with so many survivors and experts across many fields to design training that will give churches tools to act immediately."

What to watch at the 2019 Southern Baptist Convention

HUEYTOWN (AL)
Capstone Report

June 9, 2019

The Southern Baptist Convention’s Annual Meeting takes place this week in Birmingham, Alabama. The meeting sessions begin Tuesday, June 11, and conclude Wednesday, June 12. Sex abuse scandals will no doubt be an important topic as the SBC wrestles the abuse problem in the church and the way Baptists should respond. Reports on this have already been prepared for messengers. Expect this to be where the mainstream press focuses their attention. Key question: Will it be PR or something substantive that arises out of Birmingham?

Activities around the Convention begin Sunday evening with the start of the Pastor’s Conference. During the Monday session of the Pastor’s Conference, McLean Bible Church pastor David Platt will speak. Platt warmly and respectfully prayed for President Donald Trump June 2, but then flubbed the aftermath giving credence to complaints from angry partisans. Jerry Falwell, Jr. told Platt to Act like a man during the furor that followed. Platt’s time in Birmingham will be calm in contrast to the political furor his error created. Of course, church staff are only making the troubles worse, as an Associate Pastor at McLean Bible Church insulted conservative Christians in a Facebook post.

Also, on Monday, there are two big events at the Westin Hotel Ballroom involving Founders’ Ministries—a seminar on Mature Manhood in an Immature Age followed by Founder’s Executive Director Dr. Tom Ascol debating Dr. Dwight McKissic on the topic of complementarianism and if women should preach. Monday evening, the G3 Conference is hosting a symposium on Social Justice and its dangers to evangelicalism.

These are important meetings on Monday at the Westin: Social Justice is a threat to evangelicalism and attention to it is important. The discussion of egalitarianism is now reaching a critical juncture in the Southern Baptist Convention. It should not surprise, that many of the Woke Social Justice Warriors are the same ones promoting women preachers. That’s how Intersectional allies operate. These meetings are part of an effort holding back the tide of Leftism sweeping into the Convention from the cultural sea. Worth watching what happens here.

Harmful Language

PITTSBURGH (PA)
Post Gazette

June 8, 2019

Diocese of Providence Bishop Thomas Tobin said in a recent tweet “that Catholics should not support or attend LGBTQ ‘Pride Month’ events held in June. They promote a culture and encourage activities that are contrary to Catholic faith and morals. They are especially harmful for children” (June 4 online, “R.I. Bishop Tobin’s Stance Against Pride Month Spurs Criticism”).

He added that his “obligation before God is to lead the faithful entrusted to my care and to teach the faith, clearly and compassionately.”

Did Bishop Tobin speak out “clearly” when his own all-male brother bishops and cardinals were preserving their clerical power structure by moving around pedophile priests? His silence and that of others in his feckless fraternity was and is especially harmful to children. In fact, they violently tormented thousands of children. But he still enjoys the trappings of false institutional power in misleading the faithful. Their own sense about sexuality diverges significantly from the tone-deaf rantings of leaders like Bishop Tobin.

Comparing the love I have witnessed in the LGBTQ community with the abuses of power among the bishops, I have no doubt who better exhibits the “Catholic faith and morals.”

Jesus rebuked the hierarchy of his time as shown in Matthew 23: “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices — mint, dill and cumin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law — justice, mercy and faithfulness.” Before feeling a need to lead the faithful, Bishop Tobin should lead himself and his brother bishops in repenting for the church’s sins of complicity and silence. The spirit of God can lead the faithful just fine, thank you. And they wonder why the pews are emptying.

Scott Fabean
Mt. Lebanon

Lawsuit: Chaplain for Department of Youth Affairs sexually abused 14-year-old boy

GUAM
Pacific Daily News

June 10, 2019

By Haidee V. Eugenio

A priest who was serving as a chaplain for the Department of Youth Affairs allegedly sexually abused one of the boys incarcerated at the Mangilao facility for young juveniles years ago, according to a lawsuit filed in federal court on Monday.

The lawsuit, filed by a plaintiff identified in court documents only as BBB to protect his privacy, says former Guam priest Andrew Mannetta abused the boy when he was 14 years old.

Mannetta invited BBB to accompany him to his room at the friary in Sinajana to change his clothes, the lawsuit says.

That's where the priest abused the boy by touching his private part and doing a sexual act on him, the lawsuit says.

"Plaintiff resisted Mannetta's act but was too small to stop the abuse," the lawsuit says. The boy became resentful towards the DYA chaplain after the incident, the complaint says.

BBB, represented by attorney David Lujan, demands $5 million in minimum damages.

The plaintiff named Mannetta and the Capuchin Franciscans as among defendants, along with up to 47 other unnamed defendants.

June 9, 2019

AS SAN FRANCISCO DISTRICT ATTORNEY, KAMALA HARRIS’S OFFICE STOPPED COOPERATING WITH VICTIMS OF CATHOLIC CHURCH CHILD ABUSE

The Intercept

June 9, 2019

By Lee Fang

KAMALA HARRIS, SURROUNDED by thousands of cheering supporters, kicked off her presidential campaign in Oakland earlier this year, declaring that she has always fought “on behalf of survivors of sexual assault, a fight not just against predators but a fight against silence and stigma.”

Fighting on behalf of victims of sexual abuse, particularly children, has been central to Harris’s political identity for the better part of three decades. Harris specialized in prosecuting sex crimes and child exploitation as a young prosecutor just out of law school. She later touted her record on child sexual abuse cases and prosecuting pedophiles in television advertisements, splashy profiles, and on the trail as she campaigned for public office.

But when it came to taking on the Catholic Church, survivors of clergy sexual abuse say that Harris turned a blind eye, refusing to take action against clergy members accused of sexually abusing children when it meant confronting one of the city’s most powerful political institutions.

When Harris became San Francisco district attorney in 2004, she took over an office that had been working closely with survivors of sexual abuse to pursue cases against the Catholic Church. The office and the survivors were in the middle of a legal battle to hold predatory priests accountable, and Harris inherited a collection of personnel files involving allegations of sexual abuse by priests and employees of the San Francisco Archdiocese, which oversees church operations in San Francisco, and Marin and San Mateo counties.

“It went from Terence Hallinan going hundred miles an hour, full speed ahead, after the Catholic Church to Kamala Harris doing absolutely nothing.”

The files had been compiled by investigators working under the direction of Terence Hallinan, the radical district attorney who Harris ousted in a contentious election campaign. Hallinan’s team had prosecuted cases of abuse that had occurred decades earlier and had gathered evidence as part of a probe into widespread clergy sexual misconduct.

Just six months before Harris took office, a U.S. Supreme Court decision overturned a California law that had retroactively eliminated the statute of limitations for criminal prosecution of child molestation cases. That shifted the focus to holding predators among the clergy accountable through civil cases and through a broader effort to bring attention to predators who had been shielded by the church.

Hallinan believed that the clergy abuse files were a matter of public record; Harris refused to release them to the public.

In her seven years as district attorney, Harris’s office did not proactively assist in civil cases against clergy sex abuse and ignored requests by activists and survivors to access the cache of investigative files that could have helped them secure justice, according to several victims of clergy sex abuse living in California who spoke to The Intercept.

“It went from Terence Hallinan going hundred miles an hour, full speed ahead, after the Catholic Church to Kamala Harris doing absolutely nothing and taking it backwards hundred miles an hour,” said Joey Piscitelli, a sexual assault survivor, who a jury found had been molested as a student while attending Salesian College Preparatory, a Catholic high school in Richmond, California.

US bishops under pressure to reform clergy abuse oversight

NEW YORK (NY)
Associated Press

June 9, 2019

By David Crary

As the Roman Catholic Church’s sex abuse scandal grows ever wider in scope in the U.S., bishops convene for a national meeting in Baltimore on Tuesday under heavy pressure to acknowledge their oversight failures and give a larger role to lay Catholics and secular authorities in confronting the crisis.

The pressure comes not only from longtime critics of the church’s response to clergy sex abuse, but also from insiders who now voice doubts that the bishops are capable of handling the crisis on their own.

“My biggest concern is that it’s going to end up being bishops overseeing bishops,” Francesco Cesareo, chairman of a national sex-abuse review board set up by the bishops, told Catholic News Service. “If that’s the case, it’s going to be very difficult for the laity to feel any sense of confidence that anything has truly changed.”

Events of the past year have created unprecedented challenges for the U.S. bishops. Many dioceses have become targets of state investigations since a Pennsylvania grand jury report in August detailed hundreds of cases of alleged abuse.

In Baltimore, the bishops will be guided by a groundbreaking new law issued by Pope Francis on May 9. It requires priests and nuns worldwide to report clergy sexual abuse and cover-ups by their superiors to church authorities. It also calls for any claim of sexual misconduct or cover-up against a bishop to be reported to the Vatican and a supervisory bishop in the U.S.

Diocese whistleblower attends Bishop Malone's first listening session on abuse crisis

BUFFALO (NY)
Buffalo News

June 8, 2019

By Lou Michel

The woman who leaked documents on clergy sex abuse in the Buffalo Catholic Diocese attended Bishop Richard J. Malone’s first listening session with the laity Saturday.

One of about 200 Catholics in attendance at the two-hour session at St. Gregory the Great Catholic Church in Amherst, Siobhan O’Connor said the gathering left her with a sense of concern that Catholics are divided — including whether the bishop should remain as head of the diocese.

Several prominent local Catholics and public officials have called for Malone to step down for his handling of sex abuse by clergy, but he has said he has no intention of resigning.

“I was just really taken that there is such polarization. If we are divided, we’ll be less effective as members of the church,” O’Connor said after the session.

O’Connor, who had served as the bishop’s executive assistant until she released reams of confidential documents to WKBW-TV last year, said she felt an obligation as a Catholic to attend the session and learn more about where fellow Catholics stood on church issues.

She said a tightly scripted format for the listening session did not allow that to happen.

Since she released the documents and left her job at the chancery, O’Connor said she has not spoken with the bishop.

“This is the closest I’ve been to him. I was a little more than a table away from him. I believe he saw me. I’m trying to be respectful. My presence might not have been welcome,” she said.

She noted a divide among the attendees over whether the bishop should resign or stay.

“There were people calling for the bishop to resign at my table and a handful of others,” she said.

SUMMER OF SCANDAL II–IN HELL WE’LL BE IN GOOD COMPANY

Patheos blog

June 9, 2019

By Msgr. Eric Barr

Great bluegrass song out called “In Hell I’ll Be In Good Company.” By the time summer ends, we Catholics will be humming it as we grapple with the crisis in the Church once again. Looks like last year’s Cardinal scandal will have a sequel this year after the Washington Post’s expose of Bishop Bransfield of West Virginia. But before we get on the bandwagon of bashing priests, bishops, etc. again, perhaps we Catholics could all agree to share the guilt. Just a thought. It’s controversial. I should know. For fifteen years I was either the Vicar for Clergy or the Vicar General delegated with the responsibility for ministering to the priests, educating the junior clergy and clergy of the diocese, and helping out or disciplining priests who found themselves with serious problems. I mention all that to establish some street cred. Why? Because this column might cause us all to rethink our presuppositions.

Sharing The Blame
The crisis in the Church centering on the misuse of episcopal authority and the sexual abuse by priests is a horrible and terrible scandal. It has led to the worst crisis in the Church since the Reformation. Granted. But it does no good for the laity simply to savage guilty priests or bishops (though they richly deserve it), call for the abolition of the priesthood, or even seek a reform of the priesthood. The Church has a lot of problems but the crisis is not specifically the problem of the ordained. All Catholics have to take some responsibility. In fact, it’s bigger than all the members of the Church. Here’s why.

Southern Baptists will address clergy sex abuse; victims plan rally

BIRMINGHAM (AL)
Birmingham News

June 9, 2019

By Greg Garrison

Southern Baptists from across the country have arrived in Birmingham and more are on the way.

The Southern Baptist Convention, the annual meeting of the 14.8-million-member denomination, gathers Tuesday and Wednesday at the BJCC Legacy Arena. It’s the first time the Southern Baptist Convention has met in Birmingham since 1941.

It will be an opportunity for many Southern Baptists in Alabama to attend for the first time.

“So many wanted to go as messengers who have never been,” said the Rev. Joe Godfrey, former president of the Alabama Baptist Convention.

The number of messengers, or voting delegates, allowed from each Southern Baptist church depends on its size.

“It’s based on church membership or giving record,” Godfrey said. “The maximum number is ten from each church.”

The Rev. J.D. Greear, 46, senior pastor of The Summit Church in Durham, N.C., will preside at the meeting after being elected president last year. He has made addressing sexual abuse by clergy a priority issue.

"We need to have a posture of lament," Greear said this past week on a Facebook live video. "Whether or not it's happened to me, to somebody I know or somebody in my church, it's happened to churches that bear the name Southern Baptist, and we need to lament that, lament the pain of victims and grieve with them. Lament that it happened on our watch."

Greear announced a Sexual Abuse Advisory Study in July. More than half of study group is women.

Initial recommendations of the study group include calling for repentance “for decades of inaction.”

A group of sexual abuse survivors and victims’ advocates plans to protest outside the Legacy Arena on Tuesday about 6 p.m. They requested display space in a meeting hall, and permission to rally on the plaza, but were denied by the convention, said the Rev. Ashley Easter, a spokesperson for the rally who grew up in an independent Baptist church and is now an ordained minister in the Progressive Christian Alliance.

Welcome to Syracuse Catholic Diocese’s new spiritual leader

SYRACUSE (NY)
Post Standard

June 9, 2019

Last week, Central New York met the priest with the potential to lead the Roman Catholic Diocese of Syracuse for the next 20 years: Bishop-elect Douglas Lucia, 56, a parish pastor and canon lawyer in the Ogdensburg Diocese. His elevation represents a pivot to a younger generation of leadership by an institution seeking to renew itself, regain the trust of its members and remain relevant in an increasingly secular world.

Lucia will take over from Bishop Robert J. Cunningham, whose decade as the spiritual leader of the Catholic Church in Syracuse was dominated by the clergy sexual abuse crisis and its fallout.

In his first public comments on the crisis, the bishop-elect expressed compassion for victims of clergy sexual abuse. “I just want to be a healing presence,” he said Tuesday at an introductory news conference.

He also signaled a willingness to be transparent about the perpetrators of sexual abuse. In a wide-ranging Q&A with staff writer Julie McMahon, Lucia said he favors releasing the names of priests with allegations against them.

It’s a point of view his predecessor came around to only as his time in office neared an end due to mandatory retirement. In December, Cunningham broke years of silence and released the names of 57 priests with credible accusations of sexual abuse against them. The bishop also created an independent process to compensate victims of clergy sexual abuse. The diocese has paid nearly $11 million to 79 victims, so far.

June 8, 2019

In video, archbishop overseeing West Virginia probe expresses regret

WASHINGTON (DC)
Catholic News Service

June 8, 2019

By Rhina Guidos

After a major newspaper published a story about alleged financial and sexual misconduct by a West Virginia bishop, a prelate overseeing the investigation for the Vatican expressed regret that he redacted his name out of documents detailing financial aspects of the scandal.

In an 8-minute video released June 7, Archbishop William E. Lori of Baltimore, who was tasked with overseeing the investigation in West Virginia, said mistakes were made and one of them was redacting his name, along with the names of other bishops and high-ranking church officials who received personal financial “gifts” from the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston’s former bishop, Bishop Michael J. Bransfield.

Lori, who was appointed apostolic administrator of the West Virginia diocese after Bransfield resigned last fall amid allegations of sexual and financial misconduct, said in the video that transparency requires admitting mistakes.

“If I had to do it over again, especially at a time when we’re trying to create greater transparency and accountability, the report would have included the names of those bishops who received gifts, including my own, with some notation that there was no evidence to suggest that those who received gifts reciprocated in any way that was inappropriate.”

The preliminary investigation, he said, found that allegations of sexual misconduct by Bransfield toward adults were found to be “credible,” and it also determined that “during his tenure, he engaged in patterns of excessive and inappropriate spending, misused church funds for personal benefit,” that included travel, liquor, dining, financial gifts and luxury goods.

“There is no excuse nor adequate explanation that will satisfy the troubling question of how Bishop Bransfield’s behavior was allowed to continue for as long as it did without the accountability that we must require from those who have been entrusted with so much, both spiritual and material, as pastors,” Lori said.

Southern Baptist Convention due to focus on sex abuse

NEW YORK (NY)
Associated Press

June 8, 2019

The Southern Baptist Convention gathers for its annual national meeting Tuesday with one sobering topic — sex abuse by clergy and staff — overshadowing all others.

Inside the meeting hall in Birmingham, Ala., delegates representing the nation’s largest Protestant denomination will probably vote on establishing criteria for expelling churches that mishandle or cover up abuse allegations. They also may vote to establish a new committee, which would review how member churches handle claims of abuse.

Outside the convention center, abuse survivors and other activists plan a protest rally Tuesday evening, demanding that the church move faster to require sex-abuse training for all pastors, staff and volunteers, and to create a database of credibly accused abusers that could be shared among its more than 47,000 churches. They will also be urging the church, which espouses all-male leadership, to be more respectful of women’s roles — a volatile topic that’s sparked online debate over whether women should preach to men.

Sex abuse already was a high-profile issue at the 2018 national meeting in Dallas, following revelations about several sexual misconduct cases. Soon after his election as Southern Baptist Convention president at that meeting, the Rev. J.D. Greear formed an advisory group to draft recommendations on how to confront the problem.

Ivonne Gordon-Vailakis isn't just a 25-year-long Spanish and Latin American lit professor. She's also a rockstar mentor.

However, pressure on the church has intensified in recent months, due in part to articles by the Houston Chronicle and San Antonio Express-News asserting that hundreds of Southern Baptist clergy and staff have been accused of sexual misconduct over the last 20 years, including dozens who returned to church duties, while leaving more than 700 victims with little in the way of justice or apologies.

What Southern Baptists must do to fight clergy sex abuse

HOUSTON (TX)
Houston Chronicle

June 8, 2019

By Christa Brown

The “Abuse of Faith” series documented at least 700 people who reported having being sexually abused by Southern Baptist clergy and church leaders. Nearly all of them were children at the time they were abused.

Since the Chronicle and San Antonio Express-News first published the series in February, more than 350 others have contacted the investigative reporters with additional stories of abuse and cover-ups among Southern Baptists.

These stories stand as a collective testament to a chilling reality. For decades, Southern Baptist pastors have been sexually abusing kids, and all the while, other Southern Baptist leaders have known and turned a blind eye. This has been the status quo in the Southern Baptist Convention.

But now, the dam is broken, and there is hope in that.

As the pent-up waters of long-silenced voices continue to rise, the Southern Baptist Convention must choose a higher ground.

The old way was always unholy - shaming and blaming victims while denying and minimizing the problem. Now the old way is also institutionally untenable.

With decades of entrenched patterns to confront, the SBC will not meet this challenge with any feeble half measures. Nor will it meet this challenge with resolutions, platitudes, image-polishing press statements, or pious preaching.

Rather, this massive institutional enabling of horror must be addressed on an equally massive institutional scale.

Greedy Clergy Who Took Cash From Disgraced American Bishop Will Give it Back

ROME (ITALY)
Daily Beast

June 8, 2019

By Barbie Latza Nadeau

A Vatican cardinal is among a handful of Catholic clerics who pledged to return cash gifts bestowed upon them by disgraced W. Virginia Bishop Michael Bransfield, according to the Washington Post. Bransfield, who has been removed from active ministry after credible allegations of sexual misconduct, is alleged to have written personal checks for a total of $350,000 to 137 clerics over a dozen years.

Among them is Cardinal Kevin Farrell, who Bransfield gave $29,000 to renovate his Rome apartment, and who said Friday he would return the money to the W. Virginia diocese.

The Washington Post has learned that Bransfield was reimbursed by the church for the money he gave to the prelates, including two young priests he is credibly accused of molesting.

Christa Brown Writes an Open Letter to Tommy Gilmore, the SBC Pastor Who Sexually Abused Her

Wartburg Watch blog

June 7, 2019

Do you know who Christa Brown is? If not, you should. She has been the shining light behind Stop Baptist Predators for years. She was blogging while I was merrily skipping along in the evangelical world, not realizing the extent of sexual abuse in my tribe.

Although the site is no longer adding stories, it is being maintained so researchers can find the wealth of information contained therein. This was the first blog I visited to get a picture of the ongoing abuse in the SBC. She posted the news release of the predator in my former church who was arrested and convicted.

Christa endured serious pushback for her website. She didn’t have a network of likeminded writers when she started blogging Also, since that time, many people have become aware of the abuse problem due to #metoo #churchtoo #sbctoo. So there is more broad support for those exposing abuse. She powered on with little support and a lot of downright abuse.

Next week, Christa is going to be honored for her pioneering work by those attending the *For Such a Time is This Rally* outside of the SBC convention. It is rather fitting that the SBC refused to allow this rally inside of their hallowed halls. It is the same response that Christa received when she started writing. *Not allowed.*

The following is her story of abuse. I am deeply grateful for her dedication in spite of the trauma she endured. She is a hero.

I want to challenge those of you who attend any of the churches mentioned in this story to approach your church leadership and give them a copy of Christa’s story. I plan to email copies of it to the mentioned churches, challenging them to reach out to Christa.

Also, does anyone know the required ethics of licensed realtors? I’m thinking about checking into this. Can you imagine this guy is selling real estate?

Finally, how many of you know about the secret Baptist file of known predators? I didn’t. Click on the link in the story.

Open letter to Tommy Gilmore, the Southern Baptist pastor who sexually abused me as a kid:

Have you ever felt any remorse for what you did to me? That’s the question I always wonder about.

It’s been on my mind a lot lately because I’ll be speaking on June 11 at the For Such a Time as This Rally outside the SBC’s annual meeting in Birmingham, urging that the denomination institute better safeguards against predatory pastors like you. The horror of what I experienced from your abuse and from the keep-it-quiet cover-up responses of church and denominational leaders ultimately launched a long period of advocacy efforts on my part, because no child should ever experience the horror of what you did to me, and no adult should ever have to go through such a nightmare to try to expose a child-molesting minister.

The most difficult part of this kind of advocacy work is that it sometimes resurrects horrific memories. I did an interview with a reporter just the other day and, when she asked if I could talk a little about what happened to me as a kid, my mind was suddenly a jumble of disjointed flashbacks, and there it was again, that urge to vomit and run.

Springfield Diocese restructures child protection office

SPRINGFIELD (MA)
The Republican

June 7, 2019

By Anne-Gerard Flynn

The Roman Catholic Diocese of Springfield has renamed its department that oversees clergy sexual abuse allegations — as well as matters related to child protection and victim outreach —and made two new appointments.

Effective June 10, Jeffrey J. Trant will serve as director of the newly designated Office of Safe Environment and Victim Assistance, and Li-Ling Lam-Waller is its compliance officer.

The appointments are designed to improve outreach to victims following feedback from parish sessions Bishop Mitchell T. Rozanski held earlier this year. The sessions followed concerns about how this diocese handles clergy sex abuse allegations in the wake of a number of national and international investigations into clergy abuse.

The announcement also comes in advance of Rozanski’s attendance next week at the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops Spring General Assembly in Baltimore. It will focus on bishop accountability measures to address the abuse crisis.

“The re-naming of the former office of Child & Youth Protections is to better define the mission of the office,” diocesan spokesperson Mark Dupont said.

He added, “It doesn’t immediately change any of the reporting procedures, but with the addition of a compliance coordinator it will allow more time for the director to work directly with victims as well as evaluate what other changes might be necessary for the office to be more effective. This new structure was brought about by an internal evaluation which began back in January and from what we heard at the listening sessions from victims and their advocates.”

Why Catholics Are Up in Arms Over the “Hostile” California Confession Bill

NEW YORK (NY)
Slate

June 7, 2019

By Ruth Graham

The capital of California was named for a river that was in turn named for the Catholic sacrament of the Eucharist. So it’s notable that last month state senators in Sacramento passed a bill that some say will force Catholic priests to violate a different Catholic sacrament: confession, also known as the sacrament of reconciliation.

Confession, as shown in a zillion pop cultural depictions, is a private conversation between a priest and an individual, meant to encourage Catholics to examine their consciences and request forgiveness from God. The format varies—for example, the two parties may sit face to face, or with an opaque screen between them—but the penitent is encouraged to offer a full inventory of her sins since her last visit. In return, the priest is bound by an ironclad oath of secrecy called the “seal of confession.”

Historically, American law has protected that seal, carving out a “clergy-penitent privilege” for the confessional that is similar to attorney-client privilege. But a bill making its way through the California state Legislature would ever-so-slightly crack the seal open. SB 360, which passed the state Senate in May, would require priests to report suspicions of child abuse obtained through confession in some circumstances. The bill is expected to be voted on by the lower house of the state Legislature in September, according to Catholic News Service. And many Catholics are not happy about it.

Clergy are already among the many professionals deemed mandated reporters for child abuse in California. But state law makes an exception for “penitential communications” obtained in settings where the cleric has a sacramental duty to maintain secrecy. As reporter Jack Jenkins recently pointed out, California’s pathbreaking 1990 law designating clergy as mandated reporters included a confessional carve-out that many other states added when they later adopted similar laws.

Allegations against top priest under review after report

ROME (ITALY)
Associated Press

Jun 8, 2019

By Nicole Winfield

The Catholic Church in Texas says it is reviewing allegations that a top monsignor continued to hear a married woman’s confessions after luring her into a sexual relationship, a potentially serious crime under church law.

The announcement was issued by the Galveston-Houston Archdiocese led by Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, president of the U.S. bishops’ conference, after the woman broke years of silence to denounce his handling of her case in an Associated Press investigation this week. The archdiocese has defended DiNardo’s handling of the case as swift and just. But it said Friday that the issue of confession was a “new development” presented by Laura Pontikes in the AP report and would be “thoroughly reviewed in accordance with canon law.”

Pontikes has accused Monsignor Frank Rossi, DiNardo’s former deputy, of exploiting her emotional dependency on him to manipulate her into a sexual relationship, even as he heard her confessions, counseled her husband on their strained marriage and solicited hundreds of thousands of dollars from them in donations for the church. The archdiocese removed Rossi from the Houston parish, but allowed him to return to ministry in another diocese after he completed a treatment program.

Pontikes protested to the archdiocese and went to police in August. After AP inquiries last week, Rossi’s new bishop placed him on leave pending the outcome of the investigation.

Rossi’s lawyer has said he is cooperating with the police investigation but declined to comment further. The archdiocese has defended him, saying the relationship was consensual and did not involve intercourse. Pontikes claims it did.

The case is significant because DiNardo heads the U.S. Catholic Church’s response to the clergy sex-abuse scandal, which exploded anew last year worldwide. As president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, DiNardo will lead a meeting next week of U.S. bishops to approve new measures for accountability over abuse.

The “absolution of an accomplice” crime in confession, one of the most serious in canon law, occurs when a priest absolves someone with whom he has engaged in a sexual sin. It must be reported to the Vatican and can carry the penalty of excommunication.

Mixed Views on Next Steps for Roman Catholic Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston

DENVER (CO)
Crux

June 8, 2019

By Alex Meyer

Opinions are mixed about what should happen to the Roman Catholic Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston after new revelations about Michael J. Bransfield’s conduct while bishop here were made public this week.

Some called for the diocese to reform from within while others asked the West Virginia Attorney General’s Office to take further action, but all agreed: something needs to change.

On Wednesday, Archbishop William E. Lori admitted in a letter that the diocese found “credible” accounts of sexual harassment from Bransfield and that he further engaged in a pattern of “excessive and inappropriate” spending during his tenure.

Judy Jones, midwest regional leader of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, or SNAP, said she wasn’t surprised by the latest developments regarding Bransfield.

“What is so sickening is how this went on for so long and people knew about it. Bransfield kept getting away with it,” Jones said. “We at SNAP applaud the brave victims for coming forward and getting (his) wrongdoings exposed and stopped.”

Jones said the problems with the diocese and the church illuminated by Bransfield’s misconduct need to be “fixed from the outside” by law enforcement.

“The church officials can’t police themselves,” she said. “They can’t fix the problems themselves. It’s not going to change.”

June 7, 2019

Hierarchy and theology alike are caught up in Catholic disruption

ROME (ITALY)
National Catholic Reporter

June 7, 2019

By Massimo Faggioli

Editor's note: Following is the transcript of a June 7 talk given by Massimo Faggioli at the annual conference of the Catholic Theological Society of America held in Pittsburgh.

Institutional Church and Academic Theology in a Time of Catholic Disruption

1. The church in a time of disruption

Once, Catholicism was a synonym for status quo; now, it could be disruption. The institutional church is not exempt from the crisis that is affecting all institutions today: a social and political crisis, in part a response to growing inequality, which in many countries has brought to power parties and political leaders harboring xenophobic if not racist sentiments; a crisis of globalization in terms of a redefinition of international political alliances and alignments; a cultural and intellectual disruption where the emergence of a social-media-driven public discourse shapes a redefinition of the role of knowledge and scholarship, together with the crisis of authority of cultural institutions and education.

Morrisey calls for Catholic Church to release Bransfield report

CHARLESTON (WV)
West Virginia Record

June 7, 2019

By Kyla Asbury

West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey urged the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston to release its investigative report on former Bishop Michael Bransfield's alleged misconduct.

Morrisey said it was important to disclose the report immediately.

"While we appreciate the fact that our investigation and lawsuit is causing the Wheeling-Charleston Diocese to disclose new improprieties about Bishop Bransfield, we believe it is imperative that the Diocese immediately disclose its investigative report about the Bishop," Morrisey said. "It’s time to come clean and release the Bransfield report—and no longer hide pertinent information from our office and the public."

Morrisey said much of the information being released by the Diocese would never have been released if his office hadn't issued subpoenas, investigated and, ultimately, filed a lawsuit.

"The Diocese did not issue its list of initially 31, now 40, credibly accused priests until after issuance of our first subpoena in the fall of 2018, and today’s disclosure comes approximately two weeks after the filing of our amended complaint," Morrisey said. "Now is the time for full disclosure. I repeat my call for the Diocese to stop fighting our efforts to get to the bottom of the sexual abuse scandal, come clean and end the secrecy – including release of the full Bransfield report."

Former Dallas Bishop Kevin Farrell Received Cash From Pill-Popping, Sexual Predator Priest

DALLAS (TX)
D Magazine

June 7, 2019

By Tim Rogers

Hopefully you either subscribe to the Washington Post or you haven’t yet this month used up your free visits. Because the paper broke a big story about an out-of-control Catholic bishop in West Virginia. Dude spent a lot of money getting drunk and buying jewelry. Oh, and Michael Bransfield sexually harassed other men. And handed them cash. It was all fueled by revenue from mineral rights generated by land in West Texas. Some highlights from the story:

Another said Bransfield let him drink alcohol before he was legally of age, exposed himself, pulled the young man against him and ran his hands over the seminarian’s genitals. … Throughout his tenure, Bransfield abused alcohol, oxycodone and other prescription drugs, which “likely contributed to his harassing and abusive behavior,” the report says. … During his 13 years as bishop in West Virginia, one of the poorest states in the nation, Bransfield spent $2.4 million in church money on travel, much of it personal, which included flying in chartered jets and staying in luxury hotels, according to the report.

And what does this have to do with Dallas? Kevin Farrell was the previous bishop of the Dallas Diocese (he left in 2016). By all accounts, he is a good man who cleaned up the mess that his predecessor, Charles Grahmann, left behind. However, the Post story notes this about Farrell, who now works at the Vatican:

Cardinal Kevin Farrell, a high-ranking Vatican official who served for years in the District, received two checks totaling $29,000 for expenses related to an apartment in Rome, documents show. … A Vatican spokesman confirmed that Farrell received “voluntary donations” from Bransfield and others for the renovation of his apartment in the Vatican and said that Bransfield “received nothing in exchange.”

Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry: Boys raped by priests at 'satanic parties'

LONDON (ENGLAND)
BBC News

June 7, 2019

A child abuse inquiry witness has told how he was raped by priests during "satanic" drink-fuelled sex parties.

Dave Sharp also described a catalogue of sexual, physical and emotional violence at St Ninian's in Falkland, Fife, between 1971 and 1975.

Mr Sharp from Glasgow, said the abuse had left him with "lifelong trauma".

The independent Scottish Child Abuse inquiry is looking in detail at historical abuse of children in residential care.

Mr Sharp urged inquiry chairwoman Lady Smith, to piece together the "jigsaw" of victims' accounts and called for a "national discussion" on the subject.

The 60-year-old, who has waived his right to anonymity, was put into care after his mother died when he was aged one.

He stayed in several institutions before going to the Catholic-run care home in Fife.

He told how he was groomed by one of the religious brothers, who would tell him he loved him, which "no-one had ever done" before.

The inquiry heard the then-12-year-old was later raped.

Fargo Diocese says clergy abuse claims date back 'several decades'

FARGO (ND)
KFGO TV

June 7, 2019

By Jim Monk

The Diocese of Fargo has been investigating allegations of clergy sex abuse of minors that date back “several decades.” The information was revealed to KFGO News in response to a question regarding when the diocese plans to release a list of credibly accused priests.

The statement, from Bishop John Folda, says the diocese is "conducting a review of possible allegations of abuse of minors going back several decades." Folda says a report will be released after the review is complete.

Diocese Spokesman Paul Braun says a timeline for releasing the list has not been determined. “Not at this time. We want to make sure we have everything in order and completed first.”“All the Catholic bishops, including the bishop in the Diocese of Fargo are feeling intense public pressure” according to Jeff Anderson, a St. Paul based attorney who advocates for clergy sex abuse victims across the nation.“I’m glad to hear they’re working on it. I’m despaired that they haven’t done more sooner” Anderson said. “There’s a fierce urgency for Catholic bishops to come cleaner than they have.”

Folda also says the Diocese of Fargo will review its policies to make sure they are in conformity with the new norms issued by Pope Francis as well as the guidelines approved by the U.S. conference OF catholic bishops.

Try, try again: Bishops to address abuse, accountability among their own

WASHINGTON (DC)
Catholic News Service

June 7, 2019

By Greg Erlandson

When the bishops gather in Baltimore June 11-14, their meeting will be anything but pro forma.

Instead, they will have some major decisions to make that may determine how quickly they are able to rebuild trust with their fellow Catholics following a series of recent exposes, allegations and scandals regarding bishops themselves.

“This is going to be a working meeting,” said one observer, implying the likelihood of vigorous discussion and debate as the bishops seek to approve a series of proposals dealing with the investigation of abuse or cover up of abuse by bishops.

The attention of the bishops and the dozens of news media who will be following the proceedings will be focused on four action items.

The most important of these, and perhaps the one most likely to be debated, concerns the directives for the implementation of the recent “motu proprio,” or church law, issued by Pope Francis and governing complaints directed against clergy or church leaders regarding the sexual abuse of minors or vulnerable persons.

The “motu proprio,” known by its Latin title “Vos estis lux mundi” (“You are the light of the world”), grew out of the extraordinary gathering of the presidents of the world’s bishops’ conferences Feb. 21-24 in Rome. The “motu proprio” modified existing church law to bolster laws regarding clergy sexual abuse, including protection for whistleblowers and condemnation of any sort of cover-ups of such abuse.

While many of the directives of the “motu proprio” regarding clergy have already been implemented in the United States with its 2002 “Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People,” the action items before the bishops concern allegations of abuse or negligence on the part of bishops. Bishops were not explicitly included in the charter because authority over the bishops and their discipline rests with the pope himself.

A Suicide Attempt, an Order to Keep Silent: A U.S. Agency Mishandled Sex-Abuse Claims

NEW YORK (NY)
Wall Street Journal

June 7, 2019

By Christopher Weaver

When employees at a U.S. Indian Health Service facility here saw a video of their maintenance man disappearing with a 16-year-old patient into a private bathroom, they strongly suspected he was sexually involved with her.

After two staff members questioned the girl, she dragged a chair to the bathroom shower and tried to hang herself from the curtain rod, according to internal documents and people familiar with the September 2016 incident.

Although suspected sexual abuse of minors on Indian reservations is supposed to be reported to law-enforcement officials and social workers, several employees said an IHS manager told them not to say anything.

Months later, the maintenance man, then 47 years old, was told he was fired over the incident—then unfired. He returned to work at the Unity Healing Center, a teens-only residential substance-abuse treatment facility, although by then there was a federal investigation into his conduct. His duties included reviewing safety incident reports, including those about sex abuse.

The IHS, which provides health care for 2.6 million Native Americans has allowed employees accused of sexual misconduct to continue working and has struggled to meet U.S. requirements for reporting such allegations, a Wall Street Journal investigation found. At Cherokee, no one contacted law enforcement about the maintenance man until about seven months after the incident, and senior agency officials didn’t intervene.

In February, the Journal and the PBS series Frontline reported that IHS pediatrician Stanley Patrick Weber had sexually assaulted young male patients, and that the agency ignored warnings and tried to silence whistleblowers over two decades. The day the Journal/Frontline report was published, the IHS announced a written policy to improve its handling of sexual-abuse allegations.

Yet in interviews in early April, more than two months after the new policy was enacted, employees of the North Carolina facility said they hadn’t yet gotten any details about the new policy or received any training. The Cherokee case suggests that some of the problems that enabled Mr. Weber’s misconduct persist.

Beverly Cotton, the IHS leader of the region that includes North Carolina, said in an interview she thought the subsequent federal investigation of the Cherokee incident had failed to substantiate the misconduct allegations, and that Unity’s policies complied with federal law. “If there was a report of sexual misconduct and a supervisor advised another licensed provider not to report that, both of them hold responsibility,” she said. Law-enforcement officials said the federal investigation is continuing.

A White House task force is investigating the Weber case and the agency’s policies for handling sexual abuse. At a meeting in Albuquerque, N.M., in May, task force members discussed weaknesses they had discovered in the agency’s sex-abuse reporting practices, including confusion among staff members, and a lack of standard policies.

“There is a lack of clarity when it comes to the immediate steps that need to be taken to report suspected child abuse,” said Trent Shores, the U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Oklahoma and a task force leader. He said the task force is examining whether IHS employees understood their legal obligation to report child abuse, and whether any supervisors might have discouraged such reports.

Broken trust in a broken clerical system

PARIS (FRANCE)
LaCroix International

June 7, 2019

By Robert Mickens

"If you want to be priest, lie!"

That was supposed to be a punch line in "Mass Appeal," a comedy-drama written by American Catholic playwright Bill C. Davis.

First staged in 1980, it was made into a film four years later.In the screen version Jack Lemmon stars as Father Tim Farley, a popular pastor of an affluent parish in Connecticut. He's a friendly, feel-good type of priest whose homilies are carefully designed to avoid challenging or upsetting his generous parishioners.

Fr. Farley drives a late-model Mercedes-Benz, loves his wine and Scotch, and spends his day-off at the racetrack. He is "considered to be one of the best priests" in the diocese.

One day he's asked to mentor Mark Dolson (Željko Ivanek), a highly idealistic young deacon who risks being blocked from priestly ordination because he hasn't toed the line in the seminary.

Mark's main offence is that he strongly defended two seminarians that were expelled for a suspected homosexual relationship.

The seminary rector (Charles Durning) thus suspects Mark is also gay.

Convicted priest asks for reconsideration of sentence for child molestation

LAFAYETTE (LOUISIANA)
KATC News

June 7, 2019

Convicted St. Landry Parish priest Michael Guidry has asked a judge to reconsider the 10-year sentence he received for molesting the son of his deacon.

Back in April, Guidry was sentenced to 10 years in prison for child molestation, with three years suspended – meaning he will serve as much as seven years in prison.

His attorneys filed a motion for reconsideration of sentence in May. A hearing has been set for July, court records indicate.

Guidry, 76, who most recently served at Saint Peter’s Church in Morrow, pleaded guilty in March to molesting a deacon’s son after giving him alcohol.

Guidry faced 5 to 10 years in prison. As part of his plea deal, Guidry was placed on the sex offender registry.

The former pastor of St. Peter’s Church in Morrow was arrested in June 2018 after a deacon’s son, Oliver Peyton, came forward to allege the priest had given him alcohol and molested him. In December 2018, Guidry was formally charged with molestation of a juvenile by the St. Landry Parish District Attorney.

Before handing down Guidry’s sentence, Judge Alonzo Harris heard witness testimony from the victim’s parents and brother who gave emotional statements calling for the maximum sentence for a man that they described as a “wolf in shepherd’s clothing.”

The DiNardo allegations could be a test for the new reporting laws

LONDON (ENGLAND)
Catholic Herald

June 6, 2019

By Christopher Altieri

Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, the president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops and Archbishop of Galveston-Houston, is facing renewed public scrutiny after the Associated Press published a report on Tuesday, detailing accusations that DiNardo mishandled an allegation of sexual misconduct against a high-ranking priest in his archdiocese.

The Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston released a statement on Tuesday saying it “categorically rejects” the AP story, which the statement describes as “unprofessional, one-sided reporting”. “At each step in this matter,” the statement continues, “Cardinal DiNardo has reacted swiftly and justly — and has always kept the welfare of the Pontikeses in mind.” The Tuesday statement from the archdiocese also says, “A number of the quotes attributed to the Cardinal are an absolute fabrication.”

The story comes just a week before the US bishops’ spring meeting, at which they are slated to debate and vote on accountability measures for bishops. The news also has possible repercussions for Rome and Pope Francis, as it raises questions about how the new universal procedural norms for reporting and investigating allegations of abuse and cover-up will work.

Texas authorities, meanwhile, are investigating th