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July 31, 2019

Manchester diocese releases list of priests accused of abuse

CONCORD (NH)
Associated Press

July 31, 2019

By Michael Casey

The Roman Catholic Diocese of Manchester released a list Wednesday of priests accused of sexually abusing children as part of what it called an effort to take accountability for the abuse that stretched back decades.

The diocese posted the list of 73 names on its website that go as far back as 1950, including two names that were never made public before. Of those on the list, 50 are deceased. The other 23 have either left the ministry or are prohibited from public ministry as a priest.

Along with the names, the list includes parishes where the priests served and the status of their cases. But the list provides no details of the allegations or the dates when the events happened, which angered at least one survivor of diocese abuse.

“The list is ind of deceiving. It just tells you when they were ordained and parishes they were in,” said David Ouellette, a survivor of a sexual abuse in the 1980s by a diocese priest on the list. “It doesn’t talk about any of the sexual abuse.”

The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, known as SNAP, also questioned the limited details released about the priests.


'I thought losing my virginity would be rape': inside Christian purity guides

LONDON (ENGLAND)
The Guardian blog

July 31, 2019

By Sian Cain

Joshua Harris was just 22 in 1997 when he published I Kissed Dating Goodbye, a dating guidebook for young Christians that advised them to do anything but. Dating was a “training ground for divorce”, he argued in the book, which sold almost 1m copies worldwide. It also made Harris a superstar in the Christian purity movement, a pro-abstinence crusade that began in evangelical churches in the 1990s and became well-known in the purity ring-wearing hands of Jessica Simpson and the Jonas Brothers. Many authors came after Harris – John and Stasi Eldredge, Hayley DiMarco, Tim and Beverly LaHaye – all of them in the US, where religious publishing is worth $1.22bn (£1bn) a year.

Now 44, Harris made headlines this week when he revealed he no longer considers himself a Christian. He has been issuing apologies for his own books over the last decade, even making a documentary called I Survived Kissing Dating Goodbye. On his Instagram this week, he wrote: “I have lived in repentance for the past several years – repenting of my self-righteousness, my fear-based approach to life, the teaching of my books, my views of women in the church, and my approach to parenting to name a few.”

Dianna E Anderson, who left the purity movement in her 20s and is the author of Damaged Goods: New Perspectives on Christian Purity, says its relationship guides have inflicted lasting damage on young people desperate to preserve their holiness while battling hormones.

The church of Larry Nassar

Patheos blog

July 31, 2019

By Fred Clark

I included this story in the “postcards” link round-up, but I’m still so gobsmacked by it that I’ve got to visit it again. It’s from this RNS report by Bob Smietana, “Video links Beth Moore, Russell Moore, James Merritt to ‘Trojan horse of social justice.’“

Owen Strachan, associate professor of theology at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and former president of The Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, also appears in the video, arguing that “liberal Christianity” is invading the evangelical church and a spiritual battle is underway.

“We are always having the principalities and powers exert pressure on us,” said Strachan.

An image that appears to be of Rachael Denhollander, an abuse activist who spoke at the SBC’s annual meeting, is intercut with [those] comments.

That angered Jacob Denhollander, Rachael’s husband.

He told Ascol and Founders Ministries on Twitter that their use of “my wife’s image in your video and the insinuation that she is part of the principalities and powers attacking the church is cowardly, grossly dishonest, and bearing false witness.”

These guys looked around the whole world for an iconic symbol of nefarious “powers and principalities” they regard as invading the church and attacking their faith in a spiritual battle, and the person whom they chose to represent all of that was Rachael Denhollander.

The Vatican press office has turned over, again

Get Religion blog

July 31, 2019

By Clemente Lisi

The Vatican press office may be second only to the White House communications department when it comes to ranking the world’s busiest public relations operation.

Like President Donald Trump, Pope Francis and the Holy See are in some serious need of daily damage control. The resurfacing of the clergy sex abuse scandal — year after year for decades — and the allegations that led to the downfall of former cardinal Theodore McCarrick have been the Vatican’s biggest PR headaches over the past year.

Responsible for handling the Holy See’s messaging on the clergy scandal and a host of other issues will be a retooled press office. Much of the turmoil that has surrounded the pope and the Catholic church over the past year called for an overhaul of the Holy See’s press operation.

The past two weeks has seen a flurry of announcements, including the naming of a new press office director and vice director (more on this position further down), two of the biggest jobs at the Vatican held by lay people.

Associated Press digs into hush-hush network that protects priests – on Catholic right only

Get Religion blog

July 31, 2019

By Terry Mattingly

If there was an omnipresent reader who had somehow managed to follow my 30-plus years of work linked to the Catholic clergy sex crisis, I think that she or he would have spotted at least one overarching theme.

The big idea: This is a scandal that cannot be divided according to liberal and conservative prejudices. Anyone who tried to do that would have to avoid too many case studies, too many tragedies, too many people — on the left and right — hiding too many crimes. I have argued that wise, patient reporters will listen to liberal and conservative activists and then search for issues and ideas that they share in common.

Hold that thought, because I will end with that.

Every now and then, we see an important story produced by journalists (often in the mainstream press) who seem to think the scandal is all about the sins of conservatives or (often in some independent Catholic publication) all about the sins of liberals.

The Associated Press just produced a story of this kind, a report that raises important issues and was built on tons of journalism legwork to get solid sources. It’s a valid and important story. But it appears that these journalists only saw half of a larger tragedy. The headline: “Unmarked buildings, quiet legal help for accused priests.”

Yes, secrets were uncovered. But stop and think about that headline. Is the assumption that all Catholic priests accused of sexual abuse are, in fact, guilty? Is it possible to imagine that some Catholics might support efforts to research and clear the names of priests who they believe have been falsely accused and have valid reasons to do so? And are all these efforts on the right? Just asking.

Full accounting provides hope for path forward

CRANSTON (RI)
Cranston Herald

July 31, 2019

Earlier this month, the Roman Catholic Diocese of Providence released a list of priests and clergy members found to have been “credibly accused” of sexually abusing children since 1950.

It represented an important step forward for survivors of abuse, as well as for the broader community. As Providence Bishop Thomas J. Tobin said, acknowledging these cases through the recent disclosure represented a “difficult but necessary moment in the life of our diocesan church.”

In terms of both transparency and accountability, however, much more work remains to be done. Now, it is poised to proceed.

Attorney General Peter F. Neronha last week announced a memorandum of understanding has been reached with the Diocese granting his office and Rhode Island State Police with access to “all complaints and allegations of child sexual abuse by clergy dating back to 1950 – whether deemed credible by the Diocese or not.”

Catholic priest in Aiken exchanged explicit photos with the underage boy on adult app, authorities say

AIKEN (SC)
WYFF TV

July 31, 2019

A Catholic priest in South Carolina has been accused of exchanging sexual photos with a minor on a social media app that church officials and authorities say is intended for adults.

The Roman Catholic Diocese of Charleston sent a statement to news outlets Tuesday saying 33-year-old Father Raymond Flores of the St. Mary Help of Christians Catholic Church has since been placed on leave and can't perform his priestly duties. The diocese says the priest's behavior did not involve physically touching a minor.

An Aiken County Sheriff's Office report says Flores exchanged the explicit photos with the underage boy on an adult social media app. Authorities and officials didn't immediately name the app.

No charges have been filed at this time. Sheriff's Capt. Eric Abdullah says an investigation is ongoing.

Revelations of 85-year-old woman sexually abused by priest signals crisis dates back centuries

HARRISBURG (PA)
Patriot Ledger

July 31, 2019

By Ivey DeJesus

The investigations into clergy sex abuse in this country have generally gone back several decades.

Last year’s grand jury report into widespread clergy sex abuse in Pennsylvania, for instance, went back as far as the late 1940s.

On Wednesday the revelations of an 85-year-old victim out of the Diocese of Scranton points to the sobering possibility that the crisis dates far back into other centuries.

The woman, who is being referred to as “Jane Doe,” was six years old in 1940 when the late Rev. Martin J. Fleming began to sexually molest her, according to her attorney, Mitchell Garabedian.

Fleming, who at the time was assigned to Holy Name Parish in Swoyerville, was ordained in 1898. Jane Doe was a parishioner at Holy Name Parish.

Jane Doe is not filing a lawsuit, but wanted to make public the priest’s name, said Garabedian, who has represented hundreds of victims in the Archdiocese of Boston.

“She wanted her perpetrator's name out there,” he said. “He was ordained in 1898. There is no telling how many children he molested. It’s indicative of how far back the clergy sex abuse crisis goes back.”

U.S. priest to receive reports of abuse, cover-up at Vatican City State

ROME (ITALY)
Catholic News Service

July 31, 2019

By Carol Glatz

Vatican City State will have its own reporting system in place before the end of the year for flagging suspected cases of the abuse of minors and vulnerable people and instances of cover-up or negligence in handling such cases, the Vatican said.

In the meantime, U.S. Msgr. Robert Oliver was appointed to be the contact person for people with information or concerns about potential cases of abuse and cover-up within the Vicariate of Vatican City State, the Vatican newspaper, L’Osservatore Romano, reported July 30.

Oliver, a canon lawyer who worked as the promoter of justice at the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and in a number of dioceses in the United States, is the secretary of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors.

He was appointed in June, the newspaper said, to be the contact person for anyone who “may have information or suspicions that a minor or a vulnerable person may be at risk of abuse or may have been subjected to it as part of pastoral activities of the vicariate as well as knowledge of any act of negligence by authorities,” it said.

Mural depicting Cardinal Pell painted near Vatican

DENVER (CO)
Crux

July 31, 2019

By Claire Giangravè

A large mural depicting Australian Cardinal George Pell shadowed by a demonic figure while handcuffed and wearing a prison tracksuit appeared on Tuesday about 50 yards away from the Vatican.

The mural is the work of Australian artist Scott Marsh, well known in his country for his oversized and over-the-top murals of public figures. Marsh posted a video on Instagram showing the Pell mural with the hashtag #locationlocationlocation.

The goal of the mural, Marsh said in an interview with the Australian news outlet SBS News, “is to highlight the hypocrisy of the Church and combat its attempts to sweep under the rug its past abuses.”

The artist named his work “Prey Round Two” on Instagram.

Chile: Jesuits publish inquiry results, confirm abuses by famed priest

ROME (ITALY)
Catholic News Service

July 31, 2019

By Junno Arocho Esteves

While deceased Jesuit Fr. Renato Poblete Barth was known publicly as a champion of the poor in Chile, an internal investigation funded by the Jesuits revealed that the famed clergyman abused more than a dozen women over a span of nearly 50 years.

The results of the six-month independent investigation, which were announced July 30 by Jesuit Fr. Cristian del Campo, provincial superior of Chile, concluded that "the abuses of power, of conscience, sexual and other crimes committed by Renato Poblete Barth were sustained by a sort of double life, protected by his public image of a good person."

"The abuse, transversely, was carried out from a position of power that gave him that image, his enormous network of contacts, and the economic power that he had by autonomously handling important sums of money during many years," the report said.

Born in 1924 in Antofagasta, on the northern Chilean coast, Poblete lived in Bolivia for most of his childhood until age 16. His family moved to Santiago in 1940, and toward the end of high school he met St. Alberto Hurtado Cruchaga, founder of Hogar de Cristo – one of the country's largest charities – and the Jesuit who inspired him to join the Society of Jesus.

Woman Burns Book By Priest, Says He Assaulted Her In 1977

DETROIT (MI)
CBS DETROIT/AP

July 31, 2019

A woman who says she was sexually assaulted by a priest in 1977 burned his book outside the archdiocese headquarters in downtown Detroit.

Jeanne Hunton says she’s starting a local chapter of SNAP, which stands for Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests. Hunton says she was 14 years old when she was assaulted by a priest during a summer job at Assumption Grotto church in Detroit.

The 57-year-old Hunton said Tuesday it’s too late to pursue criminal charges. But she wants to get the word out in case there are other victims.

Hunton says the priest is in his 90s. She told state police that she confronted him in 2010 and he claimed to have no recollection. The Associated Press isn’t identifying the priest because he hasn’t been charged.


New Hampshire Catholic Church website lists names of predator priests

MANCHESTER (NH)
Union Leader

July 31, 2019

By Mark Hayward

Catholic Church leaders in New Hampshire announced Wednesday that they have added to their website the names of dozens of priests accused of child sexual abuse going back to 1950.

The "Restoring Trust" website provides the year each priest was ordained, his parish assignments and his status, which ranges from convicted of crimes to "assigned to a life of prayer and penance." Seventy-three names in total are listed.

The link to the list, however, is hard to find. It is at the bottom of the "Restoring Hope" page of the Church website.

"This is meant as an act of ownership and accountability. It is my hope that by making this information available, we are holding ourselves accountable to the evils of the past, and offering timely assistance, support and resources to those individuals and families who have been affected by the sexual abuse of a minor,” said Bishop Peter Libasci in a statement released Wednesday morning.

He also said “On behalf of my predecessors and the Church in New Hampshire, I am sorry. I seek your forgiveness for the grave sins of abuse and betrayal of trust that representatives of the Church committed."

That contrasts with the words of his predecessor -- retired Bishop John McCormack -- who famously said "mistakes were made" when it came to the priest-sex abuse crisis, which unfolded in New Hampshire in the early 2000s under his watch.

Former Winnipeg priest, convicted sex offender facing additional charges dies

WINNIPEG (CANADA)
The Canadian Press

July 31, 2019

A former Winnipeg priest who was convicted of sexual abuse and was facing more charges has died.

Saul Simmonds, a lawyer for Ronald Leger, says the 82-year-old had been in palliative care and died Tuesday.

Leger was accused of abusing four boys who were between 10 and 12-years old when the alleged crimes began in 1981.

Simmonds says the case was to go to trial in September.

He expects a stay will now be entered in the case.

Simmonds says his client had maintained his innocence on the charges from the outset.

“Based upon our investigation, many witnesses had come forward who would support his recollections of the event and he was vigorously intending to defend himself,” said Simmonds.

Church leaders deny being silent on clergy sex abuse

KINGSTON (JAMAICA)
RJR News

July 31, 2019

Some church leaders are disputing claims that they have not been vocal enough in speaking out against members of the clergy who have been proven to be involved in sexual abuse.

The Jamaica Council of Churches and the Jamaica Evangelical Alliance are asserting that the church has been vocal, but the public may not have been paying enough attention to their efforts.

This issue took on greater prominence this week following the entering of a guilty plea by Kenneth Blake, pastor of Harvest Temple Apostolic Church in Kingston.

Blake was charged in 2017 with rape, forcible abduction, grievous sexual assault, having sex with a person under 16 years old, and sexual touching.

HOLY AND HEALTHY PRIESTS

PHOENIX (AZ)
The Catholic Sun

July 30, 2019

Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted

We come now to the sixth and final column of this series addressing the recent scandals that have so hurt the Church. The title of this series comes from the words of the Second Vatican Council which eloquently explained that “the Church, however, clasping sinners to her bosom, at once holy and always in need of purification, follows constantly the path of penance and renewal” (“Lumen Gentium” 8). These prophetic words issued in a time of relative calm and stability more than 50 years ago speak truth that can stabilize and encourage us today.

Having looked squarely at the scandals and underlying causes, then at current questions regarding the priesthood, signs of renewal as well as the work being done to ensure the safety of youth and vulnerable adults, I would now like to look toward the renewal of the priesthood in light of one underlying virtue that will be important for its healing: the virtue of reverence.

While the word “reverence” may recall ideas about attire or behavior at church, it includes much more. In a broad sense, reverence is the virtue by which we acknowledge mystery in creation, ourselves, our neighbors and, most especially, in God. Reverence is a fundamental disposition of anyone who is seeking life’s deepest meaning. It is the humble recognition that there is more to life than we can see and feel and control.

Traumatized Willow Creek Megachurch Turns Corner, Asks Ex-Pastor Bill Hybels to 'Repent' of Sexual Misconduct

CHICAGO (IL)
Christian Broadcasting Network

July 31, 2019

By Emily Jones

Willow Creek Community Church in Chicago is calling on their founding pastor Bill Hybels to "repent" after repeated allegations of sexual misconduct forced him to resign from decades of ministry.

"God has blessed Willow Creek Community Church to have a profound impact for His kingdom. Bill Hybels served and contributed to Willow for more than 40 years. Simultaneously, unchecked sin and intimidating behavior resulted in harm that is still felt in this present day. Christ died to free us from the power of sin. It is in that spirit that we appeal to Bill to reflect on his years in ministry, repent where necessary, and seek to live out the ministry of reconciliation," Willow Creek's new elder board said in a recent statement. https://www.willowcreek.org/en/blogs/south-barrington/elder-update-july-...

An Independent Advisory Group investigated the claims of "sexually inappropriate words and actions" brought against Hybels and found them to be credible in a 17-page report released in March.

Why We Yell and Scream

Tricycle blog

July 31, 2019

By Patricia Ullman

The other day I was talking with a friend about the sexual abuse in my former spiritual community, and she said that she didn’t think so-and-so was doing any favors for those trying to make their voices heard because so-and-so was going on and on and, in effect, ranting. My friend said she thought people would be able to hear so-and-so better if she toned it down and spoke more selectively and in a less inflammatory way, instead of getting people’s backs up and making them feel attacked.

I said that I thought everyone has to express these horrifying things in their own ways, which may not necessarily be completely diplomatic or “nice.” I said that so-and-so had gone through periods of being suicidal, of many years of therapy, of dropping out of her Ph.D. program because she couldn’t focus, and, like most of us, losing many of her friends who feared that associating with her would be a blot on their need to appear loyal to the offending organization. I reminded my friend about how crazy-making all of this can be, when someone is finally trying to understand their own abuse.

Later on, as I thought back on this conversation, I began to wonder why so-and-so was perceived to be yelling and screaming (figuratively, through her writing), and why so many of us, no matter how we present our stories, are accused of being angry whiners, disrupters, unhappy people, aggressive “feminazis,” revenge seekers, complainers, man-haters, and on and on. And, aside from all that, I wanted to try to express why we do yell and scream and why, yes, we absolutely have the right to do so.

Belleville Priest Who Said He ‘Never Hurt A Child’ Accused For Second Time Of Sexually Abusing A Boy

ST. LOUIS (MO)
KWMU Radio

July 31, 2019

By Lexi Cortes

Catholic church leaders in the Belleville Diocese promoted a priest they knew as a danger to children until he was in charge of their largest parish and its grade school, where he is accused of sexually abusing students, according to a civil suit filed earlier this month.

Joseph Schwaegel, who was first accused of child sexual abuse in a 1999 lawsuit, has been named in a new complaint filed against the diocese July 19 in St. Clair County Circuit Court.

Schwaegel died in 2016. During his career, diocese officials had given him the elevated title of monsignor and eventually made him rector of Belleville’s St. Peter’s Cathedral and superintendent of Cathedral Grade School.

He was added to the diocese’s list of accused priests who were removed from their churches in 1994.

The latest plaintiff to come forward with allegations against Schwaegel filed under the pseudonym John Doe.

Aiken priest accused of exchanging explicit photos with minor

AUGUSTA (GA)
Augusta Chronicle

July 30, 2019

By Jozsef Papp

An Aiken priest has been placed on administrative leave after being accused of sharing explicit images with a juvenile.

Father Raymond Flores, 33, of St. Mary Help of Christians Catholic Church, was placed on leave without the ability to perform priestly duties. According to the Roman Catholic Diocese of Charleston, the suspension is a result of behavior inappropriate of a priest but did not involve the touching of a minor.

According to an Aiken County Sheriff’s Office incident report, Flores had an online conversation with a male juvenile via an adult social media application during which photographs of genitalia were exchanged. The complainant reportedly told police the victim’s family does not wish further investigation.

The diocese said in a statement Tuesday that it followed all legal and appropriate protocols, including prompt notification of law enforcement. No charges have been filed.

Lt. Jake Mahoney with the Aiken Department of Public Safety said his department took the report originally since the church is within city limits, but the case was sent to the Aiken County Sheriff’s Office after it was determined the incident occurred outside city jurisdiction. According to the Aiken Public Safety incident report, officers received a call from the complainant July 21.

Capt. Eric Abdullah with the sheriff’s office said they received a report from the Aiken Department of Public Safety on Monday and have opened an investigation.

Neither the National Catholic Register nor anybody else in the Right Wing Noise Machine broke this story

DRYDEN (MI)
Patheos blog

July 31, 2019

By Mark Shea

DRYDEN, Mich. (AP) — The visiting priests arrived discreetly, day and night.

Stripped of their collars and cassocks, they went unnoticed in this tiny Midwestern town as they were escorted into a dingy warehouse across from an elementary school playground. Neighbors had no idea some of the dressed-down clergymen dining at local restaurants might have been accused sexual predators.

They had been brought to town by a small, nonprofit group called Opus Bono Sacerdotii. For nearly two decades, the group has operated out of a series of unmarked buildings in rural Michigan, providing money, shelter, transport, legal help and other support to hundreds, perhaps thousands, of Catholic priests accused of sexual abuse across the country.

More churches are checking the national sex offender registry. Is it helping?

WASHINGTON (DC)
Religion News Service

July 30, 2019

By Yonat Shimron

Since they were first offered an opportunity to pool their resources and buy background checks on volunteers and employees at a discount 11 years ago, about a third of Southern Baptist churches have signed up for the OneSource program from LifeWay Christian Resources.

Earlier this year, LifeWay reported that 16,000 congregations and other church organizations ran background checks on men and women it hired through a service called backgroundchecks.com. (The Southern Baptist Convention has so far resisted calls to set up a database of its own, saying the national registry was more dependable.)

Other denominations are also increasingly using searchable databases on prospective employees as the #churchtoo movement begins to shift church attitudes toward sexual abuse and prevention.

Most background checks sift through more than 600 million felony, misdemeanor and traffic records. Perhaps most importantly, they also check the nationwide sex offender registry.

But that may give churches and other religious groups a false sense of security about preventing abuse, experts say.

“We make it clear to folks you will have to do a more in-depth search,” said Josh Weis, executive vice president of Ministry Brands, a provider of church management software that also sells screening products for some 30,000 congregations, mostly Protestant. “Not all background checks are created equal.”

Federal law requires all 50 states to implement sex offender registries. But the law does not address lower-level sex abuse convictions and state laws regarding sex abuse vary from state to state.

That means some sex offenders can slip through the cracks.

Jeffrey Epstein, the New York financier charged with sex trafficking underage girls, is a good example. Epstein was registered as a sex offender in Florida. But in New York, where he owns a residence, he was not required to show up for periodic check-ins required by law after he changed his address to the Virgin Islands, The New York Times reported.

And in New Mexico, where Epstein owned a 26,700-square-foot mansion south of Santa Fe, he was able to avoid inclusion in the state’s registry altogether because his conviction involved a 17-year-old. That is the age of consent in New Mexico.

Churches need to invest in deeper background searches for employees and volunteers and not settle for less expensive searches in the state where the congregation is located, Weis and representatives of other background check companies insist.

Ministry Brands recently released an audit of the 29,768 churches that have used its “Protect My Ministry” brand, a product for churches. It showed that 40% of those church and ministry clients do not take advantage of deeper, more thorough searches of each of the 50 states.

The report also recommended that congregations require applicants to provide Social Security numbers for background checks so it can detect people using false names or aliases.

Just last week, the Sarasota County (Florida) Sheriff’s Office charged Charles Andrews, a minister, with 500 felony counts of possession of child pornography. Andrews, who served Osprey Church of Christ in Osprey, Fla., is registered as a sex offender in Alabama.

US Olympic Committee Accused of Cover-up in Larry Nassar Case

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

July 31, 2019

A report from a U.S. Senate subcommittee has called out several organizations for a “cover-up” related to the serial abuse of hundreds of girls and young women by a now-disgraced and jailed former U.S. Olympic team doctor. Our hearts ache for these survivors and we hope that this report will lead to a fundamental shift in the way we view institutional accountability in cases of sexual violence.

According to the Senate Commerce Subcommittee on Manufacturing, Trade, and Consumer Protection and ranking member of the Senate subcommittee overseeing the Olympics, Sen. Richard Blumenthal, Michigan State University, USA Gymnastics, and the US Olympic Committee not only failed to protect athletes from Dr. Larry Nassar but also engaged in a “cover-up,” which resulted in more women and girls suffering abuse.

As survivors and advocates with experience in the clergy sexual abuse crisis, the news of continuing and ongoing cover-ups is both unsurprising and incredibly disappointing. Instead of learning from the moral and criminal failings of Catholic Church officials when it comes to cases of institutional sexual violence, it appears instead as if officials at MSU USA Gymnastics, and the USOC copied their playbook instead. We hope that accountability continues at these organizations, and that criminal proceedings continue to investigate the officials who failed in their duty to protect these girls and young women.

Lawyers in clergy abuse lawsuit seek documents from Saints executives

NEW ORLEANS (LA)
Times Picayune

July 25, 2019

By Ramon Antonio Vargas

The lawyers for a man who alleges he was sexually abused by former Catholic deacon George Brignac decades ago have sent a subpoena to the New Orleans Saints for copies of any communications between club officials and the local archdiocese.

According to attorneys Richard Trahant and John Denenea, the move came after the discovery process turned up documents and emails which, they contend, showed at least one member of the Saints’ administration — longtime public relations chief Greg Bensel — was advising the archdiocese on how to publicly address local claims pertaining to the Catholic Church's ongoing clergy abuse crisis.

The lawsuit, filed in late October, alleges that the unidentified plaintiff is due damages because Brignac molested him when he was an altar boy at a local church in the late 1970s and because the Archdiocese of New Orleans failed to protect him. Brignac has denied wrongdoing, and the archdiocese has been litigating the claims.

Former St. Gertrude's Priest Has Substantiated Claim of Sexual Abuse

WASHINGTON (MO)
Washington Missourian

July 29, 2019

There is at least one priest who served locally named Friday by the St. Louis Archbishop who has a substantiated claim of sexual abuse of minor.

Dennis B. Zacheis, known here locally as Father Dennis, served as pastor at St. Gertrude Parish, Krakow, from 1994 to 2003, and St. Anthony Parish in Sullivan from 2005-09.

The Rev. Robert J. Carlson, archbishop of St. Louis, made public the names of 44 priests who had a claim filed against them while alive. The also were 11 priests with allegations made against them after their death.

There were five additional clergy members named with claims that “occurred in the Archdiocese of St. Louis or elsewhere,” and another three priests with claims against them of possession of child pornography.

Zacheis has been retired from ministry without priestly faculties since 2010, due to alleged irregularities in finances for which he was responsible for as pastor of St. Anthony’s in Sullivan.

Father Zacheis served as associate pastor at St. Mary Magdalen Parish in south St. Louis from 1979-85; Christ, Prince of Peace in Manchester from 1985-88; and St. Matthias in Lemay from 1988-92.

In addition, he was pastor at St. Alban Roe in Wildwood from 2003-04.

Local woman says priest abused her when she was 14 years old

DETROIT (MI)
WXYZ TV

Jul 30, 2019

By Kim Russell

A local woman says a Catholic priest abused her as a child. Tuesday, she burned a book just outside the Archdioceses of Detroit Headquarters, then told her story publicly for the first time.

Jeanne Hunton stood with supporters outside the Detroit Archdiocese headquarters. She burned a book published by a priest recently. She then told her story of that priest.

“I was a 14-year-old," she said. "I had taken a summer job."

Hunton says it happened in the summer of 1977 while she worked as a housekeeper at a metro Detroit rectory. She says the priest – who has not been charged with any crime – sexually abused her. She didn’t tell anyone for decades.

“I held it in all those years because I was ashamed," Hunton said. "I was embarrassed."

She says she reported it to Detroit police in 2010, but learned the statute of limitations had passed. She filed another report this year with Michigan State Police when State Attorney General Dana Nessel called on people to come forward. She is hoping her story gives credibility to anyone else who is a victim who comes forward and complains about the same priest.

“I am sad for all the people out there who are still afraid to come forward," Hunton said. "They need to get that burden off their shoulders. It is not their shame to carry."

So far, Diocese of Scranton has paid $7 million to 44 sex abuse survivors

SCRANTON (PA)
Citizens Voice

July 30, 2019

By Jeff Horvath

Victims of child sexual abuse within the Diocese of Scranton have until midnight Wednesday to register for a program compensating survivors of such abuse.

Through the Independent Survivors Compensation Program, the diocese already paid approximately $7 million to 44 survivors of clergy sex abuse, all of whom submitted claims for compensation under a special fund created last year.

The program officially launched in January, about five months after the release of a statewide grand jury report detailing decades of sexual abuse by Roman Catholic clergy in six Pennsylvania dioceses, including Scranton.

The Scranton diocese has publicly identified 81 individuals, mostly former diocesan priests but also members of religious communities and lay people, who have been credibly accused of sexually abusing minors. The compensation program is open to any victim, including those who never previously reported the abuse, regardless of when it occurred or whether it was committed by clergy or a lay person in the diocese or a religious order.

To be eligible for the program, survivors who have not previously reported abuse to the diocese must register before midnight at www.scrantondioceseISCP.com.

They also must report the allegation in writing to the district attorney’s office.

The Village Church sued for more than $1 million over alleged abuse at church camp

WASHINGTON (DC)
Religion News Service

July 29, 2019

By Emily McFarlan Miller

A young woman who was allegedly sexually assaulted by a youth minister at a church camp is suing the Village Church for more than $1 million for gross negligence and the emotional distress the alleged abuse has caused her.

According to the lawsuit obtained by Religion News Service, the Village Church’s former associate children’s minister, Matthew Tonne, allegedly sexually violated the woman, identified only as Jane Doe One, when she was an 11-year-old girl at a 2012 program run by the Dallas-area megachurch at the Mount Lebanon Kids Camp in Texas.

RELATED: Former staff member at Dallas-area megachurch indicted for indecency with a child

Tonne had left a meeting of adult leaders, both male and female, in a meeting area in the same cabin where the girl slept — a violation of the church’s policies and procedures, according to the suit.

That’s when the suit alleges Tonne assaulted the girl as she lay in her bed. It claims he still was wearing the yellow T-shirt indicating he was a camp counselor when the alleged abuse occurred.

“It is without question that Tonne was able to access and abuse Jane Doe One because her cabin was the designated meeting location for some of the staff debrief meetings,” the lawsuit says.

Tonne was indicted in January by a Dallas County grand jury on a charge of indecency with a child involving sexual contact. He has denied the allegations against him.

The Village Church is part of the Southern Baptist Convention, the largest Protestant Christian denomination in the United States. Dealing with sexual abuse was a main focus of the denomination’s recent annual meeting.

Its popular lead pastor, Matt Chandler, addressed the allegations at a luncheon during that meeting.

“We just did the best we knew how to care for them. These issues are far more complex than one would imagine,” Chandler said.

July 30, 2019

Pastor who worked in Delaware schools removed after sex misconduct allegations

WILMINGTON (DE)
Salisbury Daily Times

July 25, 2019

By Rose Velazquez

A pastor accused in March of sexual misconduct with a teenager in Delaware nearly 40 years ago has been removed from ministry.

A Thursday statement from the Catholic Diocese of Wilmington shows Rev. William J. Porter, 71, has been pastor at Holy Name of Jesus in Pocomoke City, Maryland, since 2003.

The diocese said he was accused March 1 of sexual misconduct 38 years ago at Our Lady of Fatima Parish in New Castle.

Porter's accuser was a teenager at the time the allegations occurred, according to the statement. After the diocese notified Delaware State Police and the Delaware Attorney General's Office, police launched an investigation.

St. Louis archdiocese names 61 clergy accused of sex abuse

ST. LOUIS (MO)
The Associated Press

July 26, 2019

By Jim Salter

The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of St. Louis on Friday released the names of 61 clergy facing what it determined to be "substantiated" allegations of sexual abuse of children.

The archdiocese published the names online and said it planned to also put the list in a special edition of its newspaper and distribute it to 150,000 Catholic households. The archdiocese said none of the priests are currently in ministry. The list separately named three additional priests accused of possessing child pornography.

In a letter posted on the archdiocese's website, Archbishop Robert Carlson wrote that he has witnessed the "devastating impact" sexual abuse has had on the lives of victims and their families.

"It will be painful for all of us to see the names of clergy accused of behavior we can barely allow ourselves to imagine," Carlson wrote. "But publishing their names is the right thing to do."

CATHOLICS DEMAND INVESTIGATION OF MSGR. WALTER ROSSI

WASHINGTON (DC)
ChurchMilitant.com

July 25, 2019

By Christine Niles, M.St. (Oxon.), J.D.

Catholics have launched a petition demanding the investigation of Msgr. Walter Rossi, rector of the National Shrine of the Basilica of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C.

"Whereas Monsignor Walter Rossi has been credibly accused of sexual harassment by a former Catholic University of America (CUA) student, we strongly urge President John H. Garvey to open an investigation to determine the veracity of these allegations," states the petition, authored by Winnie Obike and launched by the group Catholic Laity for Orthodox Bishops and Reform. "In the meantime, we call on Monsignor Rossi to step down from the CUA Board of Trustees while the result of the investigation is pending."

Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, the papal nuncio-turned-whistleblower, confirmed in June that he received complaints of homosexual predation and harassment by Rossi when Viganò was nuncio.

"Monsignor Rossi is, without a doubt, a member of the 'gay mafia,'" Viganò said in remarks to Italian journalist Marco Tosatti on June 15.

Bishop returned accused priest to ministry after investigation some called 'a sham'

BUFFALO (NY)
6ABC

July 26, 2019

By David Wright

Bishop Richard Malone says his congregation's darkest days are in the past.

The embattled spiritual leader has faced calls for his resignation over his handling of sexual abuse allegations against clergy members in the Diocese of Buffalo, where a public reckoning that started as a local scandal became a national headline.

A whistleblower, Malone's own former secretary Siobhan O'Connor, leaked internal church documents to Charlie Specht, an investigative reporter for ABC's Buffalo affiliate WKBW, sparking months of stories about whether there had been efforts to conceal the extent of the problem from the public.

Malone admits that he has made some mistakes, but stresses that he "inherited a decades old horrific problem," one that extends far beyond the limits of his city, and is now "trying to be part of moving us beyond it" by, among other things, purging pedophiles from their midst.

The Diocese of Buffalo's list of credibly accused priests has grown from 42 to 132 in a little more than a year, and Malone expects that more names will be added before their work is done.

Priests accused of sexual assault served at churches in Dan River Region

DANVILLE (VA)
Register & Bee

July 31, 2019

By John R. Crane

At least four Catholic clergymen accused of sexual assault against minors once served at churches in Danville and Pittsylvania County.

All of the clergymen — including three priests and a monsignor — are dead, according to the Catholic Diocese of Richmond’s website that includes a list of the accused clergy.

Those listed on the website who served at churches in the Dan River Region are monsignor Carroll T. Dozier, Father Austin Ryder, Father Thomas D. Sykes and Father Philip J. Higgins.

Dozier, Ryder and Sykes served at Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Danville. Monsignor Dozier was an administrator there in 1950, Ryder served as priest from 1970-72 and Sykes was a priest at Sacred Heart in 1978, according to a list of the church’s past clergy provided to the Danville Register & Bee by Father Jonathan Goertz, the church’s current priest. Goertz handed the church directory to the Register & Bee and pointed out the names of accused priests on the list.

Officials at Sacred Heart referred questions to the Richmond Diocese, which includes Sacred Heart and St. Victoria Catholic Church in Hurt in northern Pittsylvania County.

According to a list of priests on the website for St. Victoria Catholic Church, Higgins served there from 1985-94.

Buffalo bishop returned priest accused of abuse to ministry after ‘thorough’ investigation. Others call it ‘a sham’

BUFFALO (NY)
ABC News

July 26, 2019

By David Wright, Pete Madden, Cho Park, and Shannon K. Crawford

Bishop Richard Malone says his congregation’s darkest days are in the past.

The embattled spiritual leader has faced calls for his resignation over his handling of sexual abuse allegations against clergy members in the Diocese of Buffalo, where a public reckoning that started as a local scandal became a national headline.

A whistleblower, Malone’s own former secretary Siobhan O’Connor, leaked internal church documents to Charlie Specht, an investigative reporter for ABC’s Buffalo affiliate WKBW, sparking months of stories about whether there had been efforts to conceal the extent of the problem from the public.

Malone admits that he has made some mistakes, but stresses that he "inherited a decades old horrific problem," one that extends far beyond the limits of his city, and is now "trying to be part of moving us beyond it" by, among other things, purging pedophiles from their midst.

Diocesan Review Board concludes Father Michael Duesterhaus not credibly accused of child sexual abuse

ARLINGTON (VA)
The Arlington Catholic Herald

July 24, 2019

Since March 14, 2018, the Diocese of Arlington has provided announcements and updates regarding allegations of child sexual abuse and other inappropriate conduct against Father Michael Duesterhaus. Father Duesterhaus was placed on administrative leave pending investigations conducted by local law enforcement agencies and the Diocese of Arlington.

On January 17, 2019, the Diocese of Arlington was informed that the Stafford County Commonwealth Attorney was not pursuing criminal charges against Father Duesterhaus. This followed previous decisions in other jurisdictions that no criminal charges would be pursued.

The Diocese subsequently completed its own internal investigation of all allegations involving Father Duesterhaus. The information gathered during that investigation was presented to the Diocesan Review Board, and the Review Board reported to Bishop Michael Burbidge its determination that, based on the available evidence, a credible allegation of sexual abuse of a minor had not been made against Father Duesterhaus. Bishop Burbidge accepted the Diocesan Review Board’s determination.

Woman says she didn’t realize an influential bishop sexually abused her for 20 years — until he called her 6-year-old daughter 'sexy'

NEW YORK (NY)
The Insider

July 27, 2019

By Kelly McLaughlin

Kimberly Pollard first met Bishop James L'Keith Jones, a pastor in the Church of God in Christ, in Clovis, New Mexico, 1994. Pollard was helping her godmother make phone calls for a June youth convention organized by the church, also known as COGIC, which describes itself as "the largest Pentecostal denomination in the United States," with 6.5 million members across 63 countries.

Jones, then a 29-year-old youth group leader, was in charge of COGIC youth groups across New Mexico. During their first phone conversation, Pollard said, Jones didn't believe how young she was — 15 — and noted her maturity and confidence.

"He was just kind of like, 'Well, I'm gonna date you when you turn 18,'" she recently recalled. "Of course, it didn't happen like that." Instead, as Pollard claimed in a lawsuit she filed in 2016, the bishop pursued an on-again-off-again sexual relationship over the next decade, during which he groomed and sexually abused her.

Pollard said she waited more than 22 years to file the lawsuit because she didn't always recognize Jones' behavior as abusive or exploitative. Her recognition came three years ago, after she and Jones reconnected, when she witnessed him calling her six-year-old daughter 'sexy' in a video he sent to the child. The comment reminded her of the way he had treated her as a teen.

Unmarked buildings, quiet legal help for accused priests

DRYDEN (MI)
The Associated Press

July 29, 2019

By Martha Mendoza, Juliet Linderman and Garance Burke

The visiting priests arrived discreetly, day and night.

Stripped of their collars and cassocks, they went unnoticed in this tiny Midwestern town as they were escorted into a dingy warehouse across from an elementary school playground. Neighbors had no idea some of the dressed-down clergymen dining at local restaurants might have been accused sexual predators.

They had been brought to town by a small, nonprofit group called Opus Bono Sacerdotii. For nearly two decades, the group has operated out of a series of unmarked buildings in rural Michigan, providing money, shelter, transport, legal help and other support to hundreds, perhaps thousands, of Catholic priests accused of sexual abuse across the country.

Again and again, Opus Bono has served as a rapid-response team for the accused.

Diocese of Rochester to face at least 75 new lawsuits over child abuse

ROCHESTER (NY)
Ithaca.com

July 24, 2019

By Matt Butler

The Roman Catholic Diocese of Rochester will face a potentially massive flood of lawsuits next month when New York’s child sexual abuse reporting reforms go into effect, as the local fallout continues from decades of abuse and cover-ups by priests and others in the Catholic community nationwide.

According to Boston attorney Mitchell Garabedian, dozens of victims claiming abuse by clergy members in the Diocese of Rochester have come to him over the last several months to inquire about filing lawsuits. In mid-August, when a state-created window for childhood sexual abuse opens for one year, Garabedian said he will bring lawsuits on behalf of 75 victims against the diocese, with more likely in the following months once more people become aware of the new statute. Garabedian said he expects a second wave of lawsuits to come, and maybe more after that. He has been handling sexual abuse cases for decades, rising to prominence when the Catholic priest abuse scandal was revealed in Boston, in which he was deeply involved in representing victims and their families against the Catholic Church. (Garabedian was portrayed by Stanley Tucci in the 2015 movie “Spotlight” about the uncovering of the scandal.)

Broomfield pastor faces trial on charges she sexually assaulted teen parishioner over 3-year period

DENVER (CO)
Denver Post

July 28, 2019

By Elise Schmelzer

When she was 15 years old, Candy Orona Villalba’s pastor asked her to come live with her in a Broomfield apartment.

For the next three years, the pastor, Erika Gonzalez, sexually abused the teen, convinced her to drop out of school and said that Villalba would be punished by God if she left, Broomfield police and prosecutors allege in court documents.

“I don’t think there’s ever going to be a time that I heal from it,” Villalba, now 19, said in an interview Thursday with The Denver Post.

Provided by Broomfield Police DepartmentPastor Erika Gonzalez
More than a year after she left the pastor’s apartment — and three months before a scheduled jury trial in the case — Villalba said she is telling her story publicly because she doesn’t want others to be victimized by the 36-year-old Gonzalez, who appears to have continued preaching at her church, Ministerios Rey de Reyes.

The independent Christian church with a congregation of a few dozen people is unaffiliated to any larger denomination and operates out of rented space in Broomfield, Villalba said.

Gonzalez now faces three sexual-assault counts — including sexual assault of a child by a person in a position of trust — as well as a misdemeanor charge of obstructing the use of a telephone in connection to her relationship with Villalba.

Gonzalez’s attorney declined to comment on the allegations when contacted by a reporter. In a police interview last year, Gonzalez admitted to having what she called a consensual relationship with the teen. Her trial is scheduled for October.

The case comes as inquiries into abuse by religious leaders expands outside of those in the Catholic Church, which long has been a target of scrutiny. The Southern Baptists are grappling with the issue after an investigation by local newspapers in Texas found that 250 church leaders and volunteers had been charged with sex crimes. A network of bloggers has chronicled abuse in Protestant churches. And in Colorado, leaders of a Buddhist retreat center apologized after allegations of a pattern failing to respond to sexual-abuse claims.

Priest, under investigation in Wilmington, stripped of clergy status after New Castle child sex abuse claims

WILMINGTON (DE)
WDEL

July 25, 2019

By DJ McAneny

A priest in the Catholic Diocese of Wilmington has been removed from ministry and had his faculties to exercise priestly ministries suspended following allegations he sexually abused a teen 38 years ago.

The victim made claims against Rev. William J. Porter, 71, while at Our Lady of Fatima Parish in New Castle. Delaware State Police began their investigation in March, but informed the diocese on July 19, 2019, that it had completed the investigation and the conduct had occurred outside the statute of limitations.

The suspension by Bishop W. Francis Malooly was announced Thursday, July 25, 2019.

Catholic priest suspended by Saginaw Diocese says he’s innocent

BAY CITY (MI)
Saginaw News

July 30, 2019

By Cole Waterman

Suspended from the ministry two months ago, a Catholic priest says his life has been ruined after a woman accused him of inappropriately touching her when she was a child and a student of his.

The Rev. Dennis H. Kucharczyk says he was made “to look like a pervert,” his reputation and credibility damaged, when the Catholic Diocese of Saginaw publicly announced his suspension from the ministry.

Professing his innocence, Kucharczyk said he’s stuck in limbo when it comes to his standing with the diocese, feeling jettisoned by an organization he’s devoted his life to after what he says is a baseless allegation.

“I have been called to serve the diocese,” said Kucharczyk, 61. “I want to continue to serve the diocese as a priest. That’s been my calling. I’m concerned about what the diocese is doing to me. What about me? What about what I have given to the diocese and the parishes? Doesn’t that matter? Doesn’t that mean anything? Don’t I matter?”

Erin Looby Carlson, the diocese’s director of communications, said the diocese and state law enforcement are, in fact, investigating Kucharczyk, so he’s still on suspension.

Plenty of shock, 'very little details' at meeting about St. Ignatius priest's sudden suspension

GREEN TOWNSHIP (OH)
WCPO TV

July 30, 2019

There is no evidence the Rev. Geoff Drew is guilty of criminal wrongdoing, according to Hamilton County Prosecutor Joe Deters. But some parishioners who attended a crowded Monday night meeting meant to address the St. Ignatius priest’s suspension left uneasy.

They said they still did not know exactly what Drew had been accused of doing.

“They gave us very little details,” said Mike Hausfeld, whose son attends eighth grade at St. Ignatius of Loyola School. “The questions we asked, it was shoved off, pushed off to the side, turned into another, ‘That’s not our decision. We can’t make that decision. It’s not our call.’”

Reporters were not allowed inside the meeting. According to Hausfeld, Archdiocese of Cincinnati leaders disclosed only that the allegations against Drew involved inappropriate texts exchanged with a male student at the school.

That explanation matched the archdiocese's official statement to press earlier in the day: That Drew had been accused of behavior "contrary to the (archdiocese) Decree On Child Protection."

Archdiocese officials at the meeting also said Drew had been under monitoring after “some concerns” surfaced during his time in Liberty Township's St. Maximilian Kolbe parish, according to Hausfeld. They did not share whether those concerns had been related to his relocation to St. Ignatius.

They also did not share what would happen to Drew when his suspension and the accompanying investigation were finished. Hausfeld said they promised they were “making changes” but didn’t specify.

Ruth Krall, Historical Meandering: Ideologies of Abuse and Exclusion (2)

LITTLE ROCK (AR)
Bilgrimage blog

July 29, 2019

By William Lindsey

The essay below is the second part of Ruth Krall's essay entitled "Historical Meandering: Ideologies of Abuse and Exclusion." The first part was published on Bilgrimage several days ago. As the introduction to the essay at the link I have just provided explains, the essay is one of a series of essays Ruth has published on Bilgrimage, under the series title "Recapitulation: Affinity Sexual Violence in a Religious Voice." Links to the previous essays in this series appear at the link I've just given you above. The common theme binding these essays together is the endemic natural of religious and spiritual leader sexual abuse of followers. The current essay explores this theme by arguing that clergy sexual abuse is a global public health issue whose noxious presence can be found inside multiple language groups and national identities. The second part of Ruth's essay, "Historical Meandering," follows (note that footnotes begin with xiii because this essay is a continuation of the first part published previously):

Historical Meandering: Ideologies of Abuse and Exclusion

Accused former Macomb County priest convicted of drug offense in 1985

CLINTON TOWNSHIP (MI)
Macomb Daily

July 30,2019

By Jameson Cook

A former priest at a Shelby Township church accused of sexually assaulting a boy in the mid-1980s was arrested around that time for distributing and possessing cocaine.

Neil Kalina, 63, dressed in jail garb, appeared in 41A District Court in Shelby Township on Monday for a hearing on charges he assaulted a boy when he was 12 to 14 at St. Kieran Catholic Church.

He was among five priests charged in May for sexual-conduct allegations while serving at churches in Michigan as part of a special investigation under Attorney General Dana Nessel. Four of them were residing out of state.

Kalina is charged with four counts of second-degree criminal sexual conduct, which carries a maximum penalty of 15 years in prison and lifetime electronic monitoring.

He and the boy spent time together while Kalina was a pastor at Kieran during the mid-1980s, according to a sworn statement by Michigan State Police Detective Sgt. Rick Lutz. Kalina allegedly provided the boy with alcohol, marijuana and cocaine, and the boy awoke to Kalina fondling him during overnight stays at the St. Kieran rectory, the affidavit says.

Kalina's accuser attended Monday's hearing.

Retired Mississippi Catholic priest removed from ministry after credible abuse allegation

JACKSON (MS)
Clarion Ledger

July 29, 2019

By Sarah Fowler

A retired priest in the Catholic Diocese of Jackson has been removed from public ministry after a credible accusation of abuse.

The Rev. Edward Balser, 90, is no longer allowed to publicly identify himself as a priest after a credible allegation of years-long inappropriate touching in the 1950's, according to a release issued by the diocese.

The abuse first occurred in 1953, when Balser was a seminarian and continued after his ordination into the priesthood in 1956, the release stated. The female victim was a minor throughout the abuse. It did not include sexual intercourse. The extent of the touching or when the allegation was first made were not publicly available.

Attempts to reach Balser were unsuccessful Monday.

Balser, who served in Jackson, Pearl and Flowood, retired in March 2003.

Balser's removal from the ministry makes 38 clergy—36 priests and two religious brothers—in the Jackson Diocese who have been credibly accused of abuse. The allegations date back decades, with the most recent allegations coming in the early 2000s.

In January 2019, while the Diocesan Fitness Review Board was reviewing and preparing files for the release of the list of clergy credibly accused of sexual abuse of minors, the board examined Balser’s file and the accounting of the abuse, the release stated.

Belleville priest who said he ‘never hurt a child’ accused for second time of sexually abusing a boy

BELLEVILLE (IL)
News-Democrat

July 29, 2019

By Lexi Cortes

Catholic church leaders in the Belleville Diocese promoted a priest they knew as a danger to children until he was in charge of their largest parish and its grade school, where he is accused of sexually abusing students, according to a civil suit filed earlier this month.

Joseph Schwaegel, who was first accused of child sexual abuse in a 1999 lawsuit, has been named in a new complaint filed against the diocese July 19 in St. Clair County Circuit Court.

Schwaegel died in 2016. During his career, diocese officials had given him the elevated title of monsignor and eventually made him rector of Belleville’s St. Peter’s Cathedral and superintendent of Cathedral Grade School.

He was added to the diocese’s list of accused priests who were removed from their churches in 1994.

The latest plaintiff to come forward with allegations against Schwaegel filed under the pseudonym John Doe.

A spokesman for the diocese could not be reached for comment. The lawyers representing the plaintiff were not immediately available for comment.

From 1987, when Doe was a 6-year-old starting kindergarten, until 1989, Schwaegel would call Doe and other students out of class to be alone with him, according to the civil lawsuit. The complaint states that is when Schwaegel sexually abused Doe on the diocese’s property.

Jeph Hemmer, who had also been a student at Cathedral Grade School, said Schwaegel abused him in 1973 at the school and rectory when Hemmer was 8 years old, according to his lawsuit in federal court. Hemmer’s lawsuit, which was refiled in federal court in 2001 after a year in civil court, ended in a settlement. U.S. Magistrate Judge Clifford Proud dismissed the lawsuit against the diocese in that case. Proud died earlier this year.

>Veteran lawyer for victims of clergy sexual abuse ‘absolutely not surprised’ by Bishop Weldon allegations

GREENGFIELD (MA)
The Republican

July 29, 2019

By Anne-Gerard Flynn

Attorney John J. Stobierski was not surprised when he read news reports this spring that a man had come forward with accusations he had been sexually molested by the late Bishop Christopher J. Weldon during the 1950s.

“During the years I represented survivors of abuse, I heard a number of references to Weldon," said Stobierski who litigated and negotiated more than five dozen clergy sexual abuse cases with settlements totaling more than $10 million. “I am absolutely not surprised.”

Weldon served from 1950 through 1977 as the fourth bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Springfield.

Bishop Mitchell T. Rozanski, the diocese’s ninth bishop, met in June with the most recent alleged victim to come forward with claims of sexual abuse by Weldon. Rozanski announced last week that retired Superior Court Judge Peter J. Velis would lead an investigation into the allegations.

Stobierski described Velis as “a man of integrity,” but added what the investigation yields will depend on what Velis has access to and what accountability is given to the public.

In short, Stobierski said, Velis “needs free rein.”

“Will he truly be an independent force?,” asked Stobierski who represented 46 alleged victims of clergy sex abuse who settled claims with the diocese for $7.75 million in 2004, and 28 of the 59 survivors in the $4.5 million settlement reached in 2008.

He added, "Will he be entitled to all information, will everyone associated with the diocese be told they are duty-bound to cooperate with him, will he have to sign a confidentiality agreement?”

“The report,” Stobierski said, “needs to be made public. Good, bad or indifferent, the investigation and its findings need to see the light of day. Lack of transparency is what continues to dog this diocese.”

July 29, 2019

Conference at Carlisle church to examine abuse crisis in Catholic Church

CUMBERLAND COUNTY (PA)
The Sentinel

July 29, 2019

By Tammie Gitt

Nearly a year after Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro released a comprehensive report on clergy child sexual abuse, an organization dedicated to education will hold a conference looking at the crisis.

Hosted by the St. Gabriel ministry of Saint Patrick Roman Catholic Church in Carlisle, the conference will examine the causes of the crisis and learn what is being done to promote healing and justice for the victims.

The conference, “Pro Vita 2019: Healing the Wounds in the Body of Christ,” will be held from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Aug. 9 at Saint Patrick Church, 87 Marsh Drive.

The day begins with a light breakfast buffet and registration at 9 a.m., followed by keynote speaker Dr. Massimo Faggioli of Villanova University. Faggioli will take questions from the audience then, after a coffee break, join a panel that includes retired Pennsylvania State Police Capt. Janet McNeal, who is the safe environment coordinator for the Harrisburg Diocese, and Carlisle-based clinical psychologist Dr. Jerry Mock. The panel will be moderated by Col. Celestino Perez, a professor at the U.S. Army War College.

This Corrupt Catholic Group Helps Priests Accused of Child Sexual Abuse

Patheos blog

July 29, 2019

By Hemant Mehta

The Associated Press has discovered a secretive network within the Catholic Church, albeit with no formal affiliation, that helps people dealing with child sexual harassment. They offer money and legal assistance. They help people relocate. They say they want to do anything they can to help the victims.

But they’re not talking about the kids.

Instead, Opus Bono Sacerdotii helps the accused priests.

Martha Mendoza, Juliet Linderman, and Garance Burke learned about the network through multiple interviews with former employees, Freedom of Information requests, and hearing from priests themselves.

For nearly two decades, the group has operated out of a series of unmarked buildings in rural Michigan, providing money, shelter, transport, legal help and other support to hundreds, perhaps thousands, of Catholic priests accused of sexual abuse across the country.

Retired Mississippi Catholic priest removed from ministry after credible abuse allegation

JACKSON (MS)
Mississippi Clarion Ledger

July 29, 2019

By Sarah Fowler

A retired priest in the Catholic Diocese of Jackson has been removed from public ministry after a credible accusation of abuse.

The Rev. Edward Balser, 90, is no longer allowed to publicly identify himself as a priest after a credible allegation of years-long inappropriate touching in the 1950's, according to a release issued by the diocese.

The abuse first occurred in 1953, when Balser was a seminarian and continued after his ordination into the priesthood in 1956, the release stated. The female victim was a minor throughout the abuse. It did not include sexual intercourse. The extent of the touching or when the allegation was first made were not publicly available.

Attempts to reach Balser were unsuccessful Monday.

Balser, who served in Jackson, Pearl and Flowood, retired in March 2003.

Balser's removal from the ministry makes 38 clergy—36 priests and two religious brothers—in the Jackson Diocese who have been credibly accused of abuse. The allegations date back decades, with the most recent allegations coming in the early 2000s.

A Priest in Tucson Abused Him When He Was 12. At 60, He's Finally Able to Sue

PHOENIX (AZ)
Phoenix New Times

July 23, 2019

By Elizabeth Whitman

When Charles Taylor was 12 years old and growing up in Tucson in the early 1970s, a priest at the local Episcopal church began sexually abusing him. Although Taylor told the rector, and a church secretary knew about the abuse, the church did nothing.

All of that is according to a new lawsuit that Taylor, who is nearly 61, has filed against Grace St. Paul's Episcopal Church in Tucson and the Episcopal Diocese of Arizona for the two years of sexual abuse he says he suffered as a child at the hands of Father Richard Babcock.

The suit could be the first of its kind after Arizona changed its law in May to give survivors of childhood sexual abuse more time to sue perpetrators or organizations that knew of the abuse. Survivors previously had until the age of 20. The new law gives them until the age of 30 and gives older survivors, who previously were time-barred from suing, until December 31, 2020, to file claims.

EDITORIAL: A step toward justice for abuse victims in R.I.

BOSTON (MA)
Boston Globe

July 26, 2019

The decision by Attorney General Peter Neronha of Rhode Island to review all files of childhood sexual abuse collected by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Providence since 1950 is a welcome first step toward transparency and the healing it brings to victims.

Now comes the real transparency test: making sure all relevant files are turned over, without any whitewashing by church officials.

According to a Globe report, the agreement between Neronha’s office and Bishop Thomas J. Tobin gives prosecutors and the Rhode Island State Police access to 70 years of diocesan files and records, whether or not the allegations were deemed credible by the diocese.

Again, that sounds positive. However, as Anne Barrett Doyle, codirector of the advocacy group BishopAccountability.org, points out, Neronha is not doing what law enforcement authorities are starting to do in other states — aggressively take on the church by getting search warrants and grabbing church records without prior warning to church officials.

Because the Rhode Island AG is allowing the diocese to gather the files itself, and because Tobin’s cooperation is voluntary, Barrett Doyle said she has doubts Neronha will get the full archives and worries that “the files he does get will have been sanitized.”

There’s cause for concern. On July 1, the Providence diocese published a list of nearly 50 clergy who had been accused of child sexual abuse. However, some victims said the names of some accused clergy were missing from the list. Among those upset was former Suffolk University and Lesley University president Margaret McKenna, who said a priest she had accused of molesting her was labeled “publicly accused” instead of “credibly accused.” To illustrate the difficulty in documenting the true scope of abuse, advocates at Bishop Accountability point to a 2007 court document that shows Tobin admitting to 125 accused priests between 1971 and 2006.

Mitchell Garabedian, the Massachusetts attorney who helped reveal the extent of clergy sexual abuse in the Boston archdiocese, said obtaining all relevant files is just step one for the Rhode Island AG. Then, he said, Neronha “has an obligation to follow up the review of files with questions to church officials about the criminality discovered in those files, whether it be sexual abuse or the cover-up of sexual abuse. If laws were broken, then charges must be filed.”

That’s not a given: McKenna says she and others have turned over information to the state police in the past, “but nothing happened.”

Even that initial step taken by Neronha might not be as big as some want. But both Garabedian and Barrett Doyle say it should remind Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey that the dioceses in her state require greater vigilance than she has so far exerted. Boston was the epicenter of the clergy sexual abuse scandal, and Garabedian said victims continue to contact him. Law enforcement officials in Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and across the country must leave no stone unturned in the pursuit of long-overdue justice.

Advocates and lawmakers want New York child sexual abuse survivors to know one-year window to seek civil action is about to open

ALBANY (NY)
New York Daily News

July 28, 2019

By Denis Slattery

Survivors of child sex abuse will soon have a new opportunity to seek justice.

The recently enacted Child Victims Act dramatically changed the legal landscape in New York State, empowering those who were subjected to sexual abuse at a young age and offering them new ways make things right.

Child victims of abuse are now able to seek criminal prosecution against an abuser until the age of 28, an increase from the old age limit of 23. In civil cases, victims can seek prosecution until they turn 55.

The law also opens up a one-year window that begins Aug. 14 allowing victims older than 23 to sue their abuser or any institution that helped to cover up the offense — regardless of how long ago the act occurred.

Advocates and lawmakers are launching a concerted effort to ensure survivors are aware of their options as the window approaches.

These are the clerics from Delbarton School accused of sexually abusing children and young adults

MORRIS TOWNSHIP (NJ)
North Jersey Record

July 29, 2019

By Abbott Koloff

Eight people have received settlements over the past year after bringing sex abuse lawsuits against St. Mary's Abbey and the Order of St. Benedict of New Jersey, which runs the Delbarton School in Morris Township and previously ran a school at St. Elizabeth of Hungary Church in Linden.

One former teacher, a priest named Timothy Brennan, has been publicly accused of abuse by nine men and one woman.

The Benedictines are an international Roman Catholic monastic order who follow the teachings of St. Benedict, who was born in Italy more than 1,500 years ago. He is considered the father of Western monasticism.

St. Mary's Abbey oversees Delbarton, an elite school for boys from seventh grade through high school. At least seven priests and two other monks of the abbey have been accused of sex abuse.

The abbey has declined to follow the lead of New Jersey's five Roman Catholic dioceses, which have provided lists of priests credibly accused of sexual abuse.

It recently said in a statement that it was not prepared to release such a list, partly because it was “unable to comment on active litigation.” Most of the lawsuits are no longer active. At least 11 suits have been settled.

The statement said all complaints are first sent to the Morris County Prosecutor’s Office, and that the abbey is required to wait for law enforcement to complete its investigations before conducting its own reviews. “Once that work is complete, we will release a list of accused individuals,” it said.

Many of the complaints were made public years ago, and it’s not clear why the county prosecutor would still be looking at them. The Morris County Prosecutor’s Office said it would not comment on investigations that don't result in criminal charges. In most cases involving abuse from decades ago, the criminal statute of limitations expired by the time law enforcement was contacted.

The following list of clerics associated with St. Mary's Abbey and accused of sexual abuse has been compiled by NorthJersey.com and the USA TODAY NETWORK New Jersey from lawsuits, most of which have been settled, as well as previous statements by St. Mary’s Abbey and past news articles by the Network.

As a teen, this former Delbarton student trusted a priest. Then came the alleged sex abuse

MORRIS TOWNSHIP (NJ)
North Jersey Record

July 29, 2019

By Abbott Koloff

T.M. says he was 15 years old when a priest served him beers at a New Year’s Eve party, and when he awoke hours later he found the cleric sexually abusing him in a maintenance barn on the Delbarton School campus in Morris Township.

T.M., as court records call him, says that more than a year later, he wrote a letter about the abuse to Abbot Brian Clarke, then head of St. Mary’s Abbey and the Order of St. Benedict of New Jersey, the Roman Catholic religious order that runs Delbarton.

He also met the abbot, who told him to keep the accusations to himself because it could cause him problems with friends at Delbarton. He was told that the priest — Richard Edward Lott — would be reined in to keep other boys safe.

Decades later, T.M. learned that another student was allegedly abused by Lott — just months after T.M.'s own meeting to alert the abbot about the priest. The other student’s accusation was made in a 2005 lawsuit, which was settled in 2006, according to records.

“I feel now you’re taking advantage of a kid, taking advantage of my naivete,” T.M. said in a recent phone interview. “I wanted to make sure they knew what happened so no one else would ever be abused.

"They lied to me,” he said.

T.M.'s lawsuit, which is ongoing, is one of at least 14 that have been filed against the Benedictine order by 15 people alleging that they, too, were abused by monks as children decades ago when they attended Delbarton or a Catholic school in Linden run by the order.
T.M. asked that his name not be used, to protect his parents from public exposure and being questioned about the allegations.

During an alumni reunion in December 2013, someone asked T.M. why he hadn’t been to other Delbarton functions. He had been reading about lawsuits brought by several men — including twin brothers Tom and Bill Crane — who said they were abused by Benedictine priests. He responded by referring to those reports.

“I was one of them,” he said.

St. Mary's has settled eight lawsuits since last year, the latest last month. Three are still pending in Superior Court. At least nine monks, including seven priests, have been named in lawsuits over the years or have been acknowledged by abbey officials as having been accused of sex abuse.

Clergy sex abuse: the damage done when faith is weaponized

NASHVILLE (TN)
Baptist News Global

July 29, 2019

By Christa Brown

“Get your hand off me!” I wanted to yell. But I didn’t.

More than a month after the Southern Baptist Convention’s annual meeting in Birmingham, I am still processing something that happened there. After the For Such a Time as This Rally, abuse survivors and advocates gathered at a coffee house to decompress. It was a warm-hearted event, filled with a sense of “beloved community,” and I felt gratitude to everyone who was there. There was even a lovely candle-lighting ceremony honoring me for my years of advocacy work against sexual abuse and cover-ups in the SBC.

Then, as the evening drew to an end, one of the event’s organizers called on a prominent Southern Baptist woman to offer a closing prayer. Suddenly, the woman was standing right over me, and with me still seated, she put her hand firmly on my shoulder and launched into an out-loud prayer for me.

I froze.

“I felt powerless, unsafe, targeted, disconnected and manipulated.”

Ironically, this was a woman who has written extensively about sexual abuse in general and is a survivor herself, though in a different context – i.e., she is not a survivor of sexual abuse by clergy nor a survivor of religious institutional cover-up.

I’m sure her prayer was well-intentioned. Yet I felt the urgent need to shove her hand off me and run. I came pretty close to doing just that. But I restrained myself, and amid the panic of my hyper-triggered brain and body, I tried to figure out what to do.

I thought about standing to my feet and walking out of the room. But she was looming over me so closely that to even rise from my chair would have required pushing her aside.

I felt trapped. Trapped by the weapon of her hand-on-the-shoulder, wanting-all-to-hear prayer. Trapped by my own good-girl, don’t-make-waves upbringing. Trapped by past trauma.

I felt powerless, unsafe, targeted, disconnected and manipulated. In short, I felt mightily triggered.

My self-anger and self-loathing went from zero to 100 in a split-second, and I felt myself getting short of breath. It was as though a sink-hole had suddenly swallowed up the normal me, and I was suffocating.

So, despite my instinct to shove aside her hand and yell, I focused on breathing. I prayed that her sword of a prayer would be short and dull, and that I wouldn’t bleed out completely right in front of everyone. I stayed passive and quiet.

Now, here I am weeks later, still kicking myself for my failure to honor the truth of my own reality and my failure to set an honest example for other clergy abuse survivors who were in the room. I was inauthentic.

Why didn’t I have the courage to show up in the world exactly as I am – as someone whose adrenaline can surge mightily if confronted with triggering religious trappings? Why could I not be fierce with my own reality? Why did I not protest? Why did I not immediately stand to meet her eye rather than cower under her hand?

The answer, of course, is that I was having a PTSD reaction. Her hand-on-the-shoulder, standing-over-me style of prayer was too similar to what my SBC pastor-perp used to do when I was a kid. And then there were the weaponized prayers of so many others who used God-talk afterwards to try to silence me.

Intellectually, I understand a lot about my complex PTSD – I’ve been fortunate enough to have years of therapy – and yet, in that moment, cognitive understanding wasn’t enough to stop the cascading feeling of doom in my body.

“Once faith has been used to eviscerate, it doesn’t serve well as a healing balm.”

Right after the event, I talked with several other clergy survivors, and one of them likely told the woman how distressing her prayer had been for me. She sent a gracious apology for causing me stress, and I thanked her. Nevertheless, I’m still left reeling and trying to return to normal.

Once faith has been used to eviscerate, it doesn’t serve well as a healing balm.

I think this is something many religious people – even well-intentioned people – just don’t understand. For them, faith can be a powerful resource for healing in all manner of life’s travails, and they can scarcely imagine it otherwise. But for people like me for whom faith was weaponized for sexual assaults and church cover-ups, the rituals and indicia of faith can be a minefield.

Pocomoke City Catholic pastor removed after Delaware sexual misconduct allegations

DELAWARE
Delmarvanow.com

July 25, 2019

A Pocomoke City pastor accused in March of sexual misconduct with a teenager in Delaware nearly 40 years ago has been removed from ministry.

A Thursday statement from the Catholic Diocese of Wilmington shows Reverend William J. Porter, 71, has been pastor at Holy Name of Jesus in Pocomoke City since 2003.

However, the diocese said he was accused March 1 of sexual misconduct 38 years ago at Our Lady of Fatima Parish in New Castle, Delaware.

Porter's accuser was a teenager at the time the allegations occurred, according to the statement. After the diocese notified Delaware State Police and the Delaware Attorney General's Office, police launched an investigation.

That state police investigation finished July 19 because the diocese said the conduct occurred outside the statute of limitations, but Porter remains under investigation by the Wilmington Police Department because of similar allegations.

Giving by Catholics Suffering from Abuse Scandal

UNITED STATES
Non-Profit Quarterly

July 29, 2019

By Ruth McCambridge

An article in USA Today says that the unwillingness of the Roman Catholic Church to address its sex abuse scandals head-on has led those charitable nonprofits affiliated with them to struggle with impatient, even disgusted donors.

For instance, Catholic Charities of Buffalo only made 85 percent of its $11 million goal. Parishioners withheld donations after Bishop Richard J. Malone let priests accused of inappropriate conduct remain active in the church. Even though donors had the option of directing the whole of their donations to the charity, instead of the usual 50/50 split with the parish, there was a shortfall. (More than half the donors chose this option.)

“People are confused,” says Dennis Walczyk, the president of Catholic Charities of Buffalo. “They’re upset with the Catholic church.” Walczyk says Catholic Charities will take any shortfalls as hits on its own budget, not reducing what it gives.

The national Catholic Charities has not provided any public update on recent overall donor support, although last year, its CEO, Donna Markham, did say to Catholic News Service, “Anybody who is working in Catholic organizations right now is being hit by the fallout from the abuse crisis. We have been faced with some of our significant donors saying, ‘No more money to Catholic Charities until the bishops straighten out this mess.’”

In June, Pew Research Center reported that as a result of the abuse crisis, a quarter of Catholics said they had both reduced donations and scaled back mass attendance. Similarly, a reader survey in Jesuit-run American Magazine in November said, “Fifty-seven percent of respondents said they had lowered the amount they gave to their bishop’s appeal, while 47 percent said they had reduced donations to their parishes.”

Washington Post columnist Marc Thiessen has been one of a number of influential Catholics to call upon fellow Catholics to skip using the Catholic Church as an intermediary, giving instead directly to charities.—Ruth McCambridge

Lawyers: Secrets, abuse can thrive under cover of NDAs

BOSTON (MA)
Boston Herald

July 29, 2019

By Mary Markos

Numerous lawyers argue that nondisclosure agreements do not belong in government, raising concerns about perpetuating inappropriate conduct and a lack of transparency.

“Nondisclosure agreements help sexual abuse to continue,” said Boston-based attorney Mitchell Garabedian, who has represented victims in clergy sexual abuse cases. “The abuser can continue to abuse, and the public is not made aware of an existing safety concern. It is shocking to think the government would favor secrecy over transparency in such situations.”

The agreements waive a victim’s right to file a lawsuit or speak out about their experiences, but some politicians, including Gov. Charlie Baker and Speaker Robert DeLeo, have kept the practice in state government “if the victim wants one.”

This type of rhetoric is “the ultimate insult,” Boston attorney Wendy Murphy argued, because it exploits the victim’s “legitimate” privacy concerns and anticipates the misconduct is going to continue.

“It’s turning it into a right to privacy around what is often criminal activity, and you don’t privatize criminal activity,” Murphy said. “NDAs are a manufactured excuse not to tell the public what it has a right to know.”

Catholic Priest found guilty of sex attacks on Wigan college boys decades ago

WIGAN (ENGLAND)
Wigan Today

July 29, 2019

A priest is facing jail after he was found guilty of vile historical sex offences against boys at the Catholic seminary near Wigan where he taught.

Fr Michael Higginbottom, 76, had originally been convicted in 2017 of the indecent assault and buggery of one boy at St Joseph’s College in Up Holland, but faced a retrial after the convictions were quashed on appeal.

He was also accused of abusing a second student, at his retrial at Burnley Crown Court, and was charged with a total of five counts of buggery and seven counts of indecent assault.

A jury found him guilty of all charges on Monday, a spokesman for the court said.

Both complainants said they were abused by Higginbottom in his private living quarters at the boarding school for boys aged 12 to 18, the court heard.

The first complainant attended the college in the late 1970s because he had decided to become a priest.

He told police that St Joseph’s was a “cold, dark and forbidding place” and it was the venue for “mental, physical and sexual abuse” as teacher Higginbottom forced himself on him “again and again”.

Lawyers for Higginbottom suggested the complainant had made up the allegations so he could claim compensation.

Jurors were told he had been found guilty of a fraud in which he pocketed a four-figure sum.

Catholics insist church should not be synonymous with accused priests

ST. LOUIS (MO)
KSDK TV

July 27, 2019

By Jasmine Payoute

It's a list that has shaken many St. Louisans of faith, or otherwise: a list of 64 priests publicly named for substantiated accusations of abusing children or possessing child pornography.

Some Catholics insist their church should not be synonymous with its sins.

"My faith is God, my faith is this parish, my faith is this body of people that are all striving for the same things," said Donna Frayne.

But a newly published list by the archdioceses of St. Louis has some Catholics in a crisis of faith. It names 64 former priests with substantiated allegations of sexual abuse of a child or possession of child pornography.

"It's terrible, it's hurt our parishes so bad, it's such a shame because we have so much to offer," Frayne said. "But then when you have it tainted like that you have to face up to it."

Frayne is an attorney and a loyal parishioner at the Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Florissant.

"The people that did these things, they're not representative of us and they have their own problems obviously," she said.

Some of the abuse allegations against the priests on the list go back 70 years.

Three are accused of possessing child pornography and 61 accused of abuse.

Three of the priests on the list had ties to Frayne's church.

"Zero percent surprised by it," Karen Condon said. "Wasn't surprised one bit by it, glad it came out though."

Priests accused of sex abuse turned to under-the-radar group

DRYDEN (MI)
Associated Press

July 29, 2019

By Martha Mendoza, Juliet Linderman and Garance Burke

The visiting priests arrived discreetly, day and night.

Stripped of their collars and cassocks, they went unnoticed in this tiny Midwestern town as they were escorted into a dingy warehouse across from an elementary school playground. Neighbors had no idea some of the dressed-down clergymen dining at local restaurants might have been accused sexual predators.

They had been brought to town by a small, nonprofit group called Opus Bono Sacerdotii. For nearly two decades, the group has operated out of a series of unmarked buildings in rural Michigan, providing money, shelter, transport, legal help and other support to hundreds, perhaps thousands, of Catholic priests accused of sexual abuse across the country.

Again and again, Opus Bono has served as a rapid-response team for the accused.

When a serial pedophile was sent to jail for abusing dozens of minors, Opus Bono was there for him, with regular visits and commissary cash.

When a priest admitted sexually assaulting boys under 14, Opus Bono raised funds for his defense.

July 28, 2019

Catholic charities tested by abuse scandals, border crisis

BUFFALO (NY)
Associated Press

July 29, 2019

By David Crary

For U.S. charities affiliated with the Roman Catholic Church, the past year has tested the resilience of their fundraisers and the loyalty of their donors in unprecedented fashion. Even as many donors reacted in dismay to the church’s extensive sex-abuse scandals, the charities faced new challenges trying to address the immigration crisis at the U.S.-Mexico border.

For the agencies with the most donors, Catholic Charities and Catholic Relief Services , it’s too early to gauge the overall financial impact of sex-abuse developments last year. Those included abuse allegations that led to former Cardinal Theodore McCarrick’s ouster from the priesthood and a Pennsylvania grand jury report asserting that about 300 Roman Catholic priests had abused children at six of the state’s dioceses over seven decades.

However, several local Catholic Charities affiliates report a drop in donations linked at least in part to the scandals.

In Pittsburgh, the largest diocese targeted by the Pennsylvania grand jury, local Catholic Charities executive director Susan Rauscher said donations were down this year, though she had no figures yet. The Rev. Nicholas Vaskov, a spokesman for the diocese, estimated that giving directly to the diocese had declined about 10% — due to churchgoers’ unhappiness with a reorganization of parishes as well as dismay over sex abuse. Staff cuts have resulted.

Pittsburgh Bishop David Zubik, like some bishops elsewhere, has told donors that none of their gifts would be diverted to a new compensation fund for abuse victims; he said the fund would be financed largely through sale of properties.

In western New York’s diocese of Buffalo, many angry parishioners have withheld donations as Bishop Richard J. Malone faced criticism for allowing priests accused of inappropriate conduct to remain in ministry.

Leaders of Buffalo’s Catholic Charities affiliate worried about impact on their programs serving more than 150,000 people. So they offered a deal: Unlike past years, when gifts to its annual appeal were split between the charity and the diocese, donors this year could choose to direct their entire donation to the charity. More than 50% of donors picked that option.

“People are confused. ... They’re upset with the Catholic church,” said Dennis Walczyk, president of Catholic Charities of Buffalo. “But don’t take it out on the people that really need help.”

Book offers hope amid church abuse scandal

BRIARCREST (TX)
The Eagle

July 27, 2019

By Shawn Manning Chapman

In the current wave of the abuse crisis in the Catholic Church, it has been hard to know what to do. I have taken it on faith that the church eventually would survive this crisis and make the necessary changes to protect children and adults from abuse, because I believe the church is true.

However, I have also shared in the agonized cry of so many devout Catholics who have chosen to stay with the church in the midst of this crisis, “Lord, to whom shall we go?” as the abysmal response of church leaders has left me feeling helpless and angry. I had begun to think I never would see a meaningful response in my lifetime to this dire situation.

Abuse of Trust; Healing the Church gave me real hope for the first time that there is a way, and all of us can be a part of it right now.

I am confident that reading it will help Catholics understand the experience of sexual abuse and its effects better and to see how each of us can be a part of healing the wounded and helping the church take a righteous and effective path to being a refuge for the broken, making amends, protecting the vulnerable, educating families and reclaiming the spiritual fatherhood of our leaders.

The arrangement of the book helps to draw the reader into the experience of survivors, their spouses, their parents, by letting them tell their stories — “sacred stories” as they are called in the book.

These stories contain no lurid details but are very honest. Their authors don’t varnish the truth of what happened and what people suffer from clergy sexual abuse and the resulting trauma. It interested me to see how each of them found a path to healing. I enjoyed hearing about the way their Catholic faith actually helped them find restoration and new life, helped the rise and help others.

“We all love the Church and desire to heal her of this great wound. We desire to help our fellow Catholics (the secondary victims) to receive healing and to help our priests and Bishops to better understand how to seek out and offer healing to all victims of sexual abuse; especially those harmed by a leader of the Church.”

Allen Hebert is a survivor of clergy sexual abuse and an active, faithful and devout Catholic. He speaks our language and can explain this to us from the inside. This is a good Catholic book from a good Catholic man.

I appreciated the sections of the book written by experts to help us understand abuse and trauma as well as a way not only realize the problem and recognize abuse and potential abuse, but how to respond to it.

Sister of Kansas priest ran over his computer in attempt to hide child porn

SALINA (KS)
Salina Post

July 26, 2019

A Kansas priest pleaded guilty in federal court Friday to possessing child pornography, according to U.S. Attorney Stephen McAllister.

In his plea, Christopher Rossman, 46, who formerly served at the Annunciation Catholic Church in Baldwin City, Kan., admitted that investigators found child pornography on his Samsung Galaxy tablet. The crime occurred in September 2016 when monitoring software installed on Rossman’s computer devices reported he had visited adult pornography and child pornography websites. The archdiocese forwarded the report to law enforcement.

When investigators tried to find Rossman in Baldwin City, they learned that his sister had taken possession of the Galaxy tablet and tried to run over it a number of times. A forensics examination found files on the device depicting prepubescent females engaged in sexual activities.

Sentencing will scheduled at a later date. The crime carries a penalty of up to 10 years in federal prison and a fine up to $250,000.

Former LDS bishop Sam Young, other advocates announce first national march against child sex abuse will take place in Salt Lake City

SALT LAKE CITY (UT)
Salt Lake Tribune

July 28, 2019

By Alison Berg ·

A coalition of advocates against child sex abuse in churches gathered Sunday to announce the nation’s “first march” — planned for this fall in Salt Lake City — dedicated to ending such abuse.

Sam Young — a former bishop in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints who was excommunicated after his push to end one-on-one interviews with lay leaders in which children sometimes are asked sexually explicit questions — joined forces with the Zero Abuse Project, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, and Boise’s James, Vernon & Weeks law firm to announce the march and a series of mountain climbs to protest child sex abuse.

“Child abuse is the most prevalent health problem children face. Yet we’re not talking about it, not addressing it,” said Young, who founded Protect Every Child and planned the march. “I encourage everybody that is concerned about child sex abuse, anybody that wants to eliminate what’s happening to children, to come to the march.”

The march is set for Oct. 5, starting at Salt Lake City Hall and ending at the Utah Capitol.

Until Aug. 3, a news release stated, coalition members also will ascend Wasatch Front mountains to “emphasize the point that society should be shouting from the mountaintops the importance of protecting children from sexual predators in their religious communities."

Young said the climbs are symbolic of the Latter-day Saint hymn “High on the Mountain Top,” which encourages members to stand proud in their faith.

“It’s very symbolic,” Young said in an interview. “This is the message: Protect our children from abuse. That is a message so important we want to shout it from the mountaintops.”

Justice still to come for victims of Crookston Diocese abuse after settlement

BISMARK (ND)
Forum News Service

July 27, 2019

By Tess Williams

The Diocese of Crookston reached a $5 million settlement this month with victims of clergy sexual abuse, but one victim said the real victory is still to come.

“I was never concerned about monetary gain in this lawsuit. My pursuit was for truth. I wanted the people to find out how many priests the public did not have information on who were credibly accused,” said Ronald Vasek, who filed a lawsuit against the diocese and Bishop Michael Hoeppner in 2017. “And that list is going to greatly increase now, through the efforts of these lawsuits.”

Attorney Elin Lindstrom, who represents victims as part of the Jeff Anderson and Associates team, said the settlement will include publicly releasing depositions and private documents from the diocese that likely will reveal more allegations.

“I think this is a really important step for these survivors to just get some accountability and acknowledgement for what happened,” she said. “These non-economic settlement parameters were something they were striving for and I think it’s a good day for us and a good day for some more transparency in the diocese.”

Most of the lawsuits were filed in response to the Minnesota Child Victims Act, which opened a three-year period for victims to bring forward civil suits that otherwise would be barred by the statute of limitations in regard to child sexual abuse.

Vasek, whose lawsuit was part of the recent settlement, said he was abused as a boy by Monsignor Roger Grundhaus. Vasek said Hoeppner told him to keep the abuse secret and covered up the truth.

The lawsuits allege sexual abuse at the hands of Father James Bernauer, Father James Porter, Father Patrick Sullivan, Father Stanley Bourassa, Father James Vincent Fitzgerald and Grundhaus. All served in Crookston. The abuse reportedly spanned from 1969 until 2009.

Sullivan was placed on leave and then reinstated after allegations came to light. He has since been suspended in light of new accusations of “boundary issues,” according to the diocese. All five other accused priests are dead.

Child Abuse Victims Want To Know What NY AG Has Found In Catholic Church Files

NEW YORK (NY)
WCBS 880 Radio

July 27, 2019

An ongoing New York investigation that some think could hold a “bombshell” about abuse in the Catholic Church remains secret ­— and victims want to know what’s in it.

Last year, Pennsylvania’s attorney general released a report of “secret files” from the Catholic Church. The report showed how the archdiocese handled complaints, who witnessed the abuse and whether accused clergy members were simply removed or transferred.

The Pennsylvania attorney general found a thousand cases of abuse in that state.

The New York Attorney General’s Office announced it would do a similar investigation. That was almost a year ago, and now advocates for abuse victims in New York have written a letter requesting to see what they’ve discovered in the child abuse files from the church.

“We think that New Yorkers deserve the same transparency and openness that citizens in the state of Pennsylvania received from the attorney general report there. And our letter is an attempt to encourage Attorney General Letitia James to do the same thing,” said attorney James Marsh, whose firm is representing hundreds of people who say they were abused by priests.

AG James hasn’t commented on the letter. She didn’t start the investigation, her predecessor Barbara Underwood did.

"I think the issue with the Catholic Church is they started down this path of transparency. This is just one more aspect of giving a full accountability of the wrongs of the past so that they can move forward with a new day and a better outcome for children in the future,” Marsh said.

Watchdog Team: Goodwill fires man on list of accused priests

PROVIDENCE (RI)
Providence Journal

July 27, 2019

A man whose name appeared on the Diocese of Providence’s list of priests “credibly accused” of child sexual abuse was fired this month from his job at Goodwill, his friends and family said.

Kevin R. Fisette, 64, was director of donated goods and volunteer coordinator for the nonprofit organization, according to Richard Borer, president of Goodwill of Southern New England.

Borer declined to discuss the circumstances of Fisette’s departure, which was effective July 16. Borer also would not confirm Fisette’s own account, posted on his Facebook page, that the organization had fired him because his name was on the diocese’s list.

Fisette’s friends and family have rallied to support him. His sister, in a letter to The Providence Journal before he lost his job at Goodwill, said that in 2017, “it was concluded that my brother did not commit the allegation made against him.” Margaret Fisette Wharton did not cite who had cleared him, or in what way.

“Don’t priests deserve basic justice, too?” she wrote.

Some clergy sex abuse survivors choosing to decline compensation from Diocese of Harrisburg

HARRISBURG (PA)
Fox 43 News

July 26, 2019

By Jossie Carbonare

The deadline to accept or decline offers from the Diocese of Harrisburg's Survivor Compensation Program has arrived.

The program was set up in February as an attempt to make financial amends to victims after a Grand Jury report on child sex abuse within six Catholic Dioceses in Pennsylvania.

However, for one of those survivors, who anonymously told FOX43 his story of abuse by a former Diocese of Harrisburg priest, the settlement money simply isn't enough.

He says "The payoff amount might be enough for some who were victims of the systematic abuse and cover-up by the church leaders and their subordinates, but for me it was a veiled attempt to rid themselves of any future liability or accountability."

"They have the right to deny it and there is no one forcing them to participate in the program," said Mike Barley, spokesperson for Diocese of Harrisburg.

Barley says while he believes the program is successful, he understands it's not going to solve everything.

"Money is not going to erase what was done to them or the issues that have been created and quite frankly their lack of trust with the church but its a step, it’s trying to help them with their lives moving forward." he added.

Some survivors refused the offer, while others say they feel they need to accept it to feel some sense of closure.

Carlson: Release of abuse allegations ‘painful,’ but ‘right thing to do’

WASHINGTON (DC)
Religion News Service

July 27, 2019

By Julie Asher

As the Archdiocese of St. Louis released a list of names of archdiocesan clergy with substantiated allegations of sexual abuse of a minor July 26, Archbishop Robert J. Carlson acknowledged that seeing the names “will be painful” and publishing them “will not change the past.”

“Nothing will” change the past “but publishing their names is the right thing to do,” he said in a message to the faithful of the archdiocese, and it fulfills a promise he made last September to do so.

“It will be painful for all of us to see the names of clergy accused of behavior we can barely allow ourselves to imagine,” Carlson said.

“For years, victims have carried the burden of the crimes committed against them. In talking with many of them, I have witnessed the devastating impact on their lives and the lives of their loved ones,” he said, adding that the release of these names “is an important step in the long process of healing. And we are committed to that healing.”

The list is available online at www.archstl.org/list, along with the text of the archbishop’s message and a video message. The list itself is divided into four categories:

As the Archdiocese of St. Louis released a list of names of archdiocesan clergy with substantiated allegations of sexual abuse of a minor July 26, Archbishop Robert J. Carlson acknowledged that seeing the names “will be painful” and publishing them “will not change the past.”

“Nothing will” change the past “but publishing their names is the right thing to do,” he said in a message to the faithful of the archdiocese, and it fulfills a promise he made last September to do so.

“It will be painful for all of us to see the names of clergy accused of behavior we can barely allow ourselves to imagine,” Carlson said.

“For years, victims have carried the burden of the crimes committed against them. In talking with many of them, I have witnessed the devastating impact on their lives and the lives of their loved ones,” he said, adding that the release of these names “is an important step in the long process of healing. And we are committed to that healing.”

The list is available online at www.archstl.org/list, along with the text of the archbishop’s message and a video message. The list itself is divided into four categories.

July 26, 2019

RI AG Gains Access To 7 Decades Of Clergy Sexual Abuse Records

PROVIDENCE (RI)
Patch

July 24, 2019

By Rachel Nunes

Rhode Island Attorney General Peter Neronha's office is investigating nearly seven decades of sexual abuse to children by Roman Catholic priests in the diocese of Providence. On Tuesday, the two offices signed a memorandum of understanding, giving Neronha's office and Rhode Island State Police access to records of allegations dating back to 1950.

Together with State Police, Neronah will review the records to determine if any cases can be prosecuted and to ensure no credibly accused priests are still actively serving. The two agencies will then provide the diocese feedback on ways to improve reporting procedures and policies in the future, as well as to determine how to diocese responded to past allegations of child sexual abuse.

"While this voluntary, additional disclosure by the Diocese is an important step forward in our review, much additional work remains, Neronha said. "We will not hesitate to take any additional steps that may prove necessary to fully determine the scope of misconduct here and take appropriate action. It is my intention to be as transparent as possible regarding our findings, within the limits of current Rhode Island law. I am grateful to Colonel Manni for his commitment to partnering with the Office to undertake and complete this review."

Neronha's investigation has been ongoing since 2016, when a letter of understanding between the two offices provided access to past records. Tuesday's memorandum provided Neronha further access to all reocrds of sexual abuse allegations since Jan. 1, 1950. The diocese will provide the records on a rolling basis.

The records include a recently released list of 50 credibly accused clergy, published by the diocese July 1.

Clergy Abused an Entire Generation in This Village

ST. MICHAEL (AK)
Anchorage Daily News/ProPublica

July 26, 2019

The two brothers sat a few houses apart, each tending to his own anger. Justice is slow in Alaska villages, they have learned. Sometimes it never arrives.

Chuck Lockwood, 69, grew up in this Yup’ik Eskimo village of 400 along the Norton Sound coast but left as a child for boarding school. His rage is fresh.

Two years ago this month, the body of his 19-year-old granddaughter, Chynelle “Pretty” Lockwood, was found on a local beach. Alaska State Troopers have refused to say how she died, citing an open investigation. It appeared she had been dumped there, said Chuck, who believes it was a homicide. “Brutally murdered. Beaten up.”

Near Chuck’s family home, his younger brother Lawrence Lockwood Jr. watches crime dramas alone in his living room. His rage is long simmering. Lawrence grew up here too, but unlike his brother he didn’t go away for school.

How a U.S. child sex abuse report hit close to home in York Region

YORK (PA)
YorkRegion.com

July 25, 2019

By Lisa Queen

It’s about trust. Our relationship with our readers is built on transparency, honesty and integrity. As such, we have launched a trust initiative to tell you who we are and how and why we do what we do. This column is part of that project.

Even amid child sexual abuse scandals that have rocked the Catholic Church globally, revelations in last summer’s Pennsylvania grand jury report commanded attention.

“We, the members of this grand jury, need you to hear this,” the report began.

“We know some of you have heard some of it before. There have been other reports about child sex abuse within the Catholic Church. But never on this scale. For many of us, those earlier stories happened someplace else, someplace away. Now we know the truth: it happened everywhere.”

Bakersfield Police Department closing clergy sex abuse case against Monsignor Craig Harrison

BAKERSFIELD (CA)
KBAK/KBFX Eyewitness News

July 25, 2019

The Bakersfield Police Department is closing the 1990's sexual battery case against Monsignor Craig Harrison.

Police said after a thorough investigation, they were unable to "identified any allegations of criminal behavior with corroborative evidence."

They said the case does not meet the standards for a recommendation for filing of criminal charges and they will not be forwarding it to the Kern County District Attorney's Office.

The Fresno diocese is still investigating claims made against Monsignor Harrison and there are still cases open in Firebaugh and Merced.

What new Catholic bishop means for West Virginia Attorney General's lawsuit

PARKERSBURG (WV)
WTAP TV

July 25, 2019

By Phyllis Smith

Now that a new bishop is named in West Virginia, WTAP talks to West Virginia's Attorney General about what this means for the lawsuit he's filed against the church

Attorney General Patrick Morrisey says he would like to talk with Mark Brennan and will be reaching out to his attorney. Reverend Brennan took over this week for former bishop Michael Bransfield.

Attorney General Morrisey says he hopes he will be more transparent than his predecessor. He wants him to comply with the subpoena and release the Bransfield report.

He says this is a Consumer Protection case because the church advertised its schools and camps as safe places for children. Morrisey's suit alleges the church knowingly hired pedophiles.

"This is not a pleasant case. I'm a practicing Catholic and so, it's not been fun, to be involved in it, but I believe I have a duty under the law and I recognize, imagine if we don't do this. Well, the list of 40 credibly accused priests may never see the light of day," said Morrisey.

Pennsylvania man sues Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend Bishop Kevin Rhoades

FORT WAYNE (IN)
WNDU TV

July 26, 2019

A man is suing Bishop Kevin Rhoades of the Catholic Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend, claiming Rhoades concealed knowledge of pedophile priests.

WPTA in Fort Wayne reports 67-year-old Donald Asbee addressed reporters in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania and claimed priests sexually abused him for many years.

As a child living in Milton, Pennsylvania, Asbee served as an altar boy at St. Joseph’s Catholic Church. Asbee said two priests repeatedly raped and assaulted him.

The two bishops named in the lawsuit did not lead the Diocese in Harrisburg when Asbee said the abuse took place.

Asbee said the two bishops, including Bishop Kevin Rhoades, knew about the alleged abuse.

The Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend released the following statement:
“Bishop Rhoades was saddened to learn of the horrific acts of child sexual abuse that Mr. Asbee alleges occurred within the Diocese of Harrisburg. Bishop Rhoades was himself less than 10 years old when these incidents purportedly occurred. He is confident the litigation process will show that he did nothing wrong. In all instances where he was aware of a credibly accused priest, Bishop Rhoades has promptly notified authorities and removed the individual from public ministry. He stands by his record as a Bishop – both in Pennsylvania and Indiana – of protecting victims of child sexual abuse.”

Abuse accuser wants Steubenville university to be accountable

KANSAS CITY (MO)
National Catholic Reporter

July 26, 2019

By Jenn Morson

An alumna of Franciscan University of Steubenville in Ohio has written an open letter saying she was sexually abused while a student there and that the school administration ignored her complaints.

Visit National Catholic Reporter's Online Classifieds to learn about job opportunities, events, retreats and more.

In a letter published July 8 on Patheos, an online site, Karen, who chooses to not share her last name, states that she was sexually abused by a friar while attending Franciscan University from 1987 until she graduated in 1991. Karen's story was told in an NCR piece last October. She wrote the open letter, she told NCR, because "it was important for me to use my voice, and to share that my story is not over."

In her letter, Karen wrote that she was abused by Franciscan Fr. Sam Tiesi, who died in 2001.

"Fr. Sam taught me to trust, then he abused that trust for his own sinfulness. He used God and my innocent faith to keep his secret safe. He said he loved me like a daughter. But he was not a father. He was a monster," she wrote.

She said that Tiesi groped her breasts and assaulted her with unwanted kissing. She said that she confided in another university Franciscan, Fr. Ron Mohnickey, who, she wrote, blamed her for the sexual contact.

Augie Boto, SBC leader who opposed abuse database, set to retire

NASHVILLE (TN)
Baptist News Global

July 25, 2019

By Bob Allen

A denominational worker who functioned as the Southern Baptist Convention’s point man in the ouster of churches for affirming homosexuality and the denomination’s response to sexual abuse is retiring at the end of September.

August “Augie” Boto, 68, announced July 18 he is stepping down as executive vice president and general counsel of the SBC Executive Committee, according to Baptist Press.

While an attorney in Dallas in the early 1980s, Boto helped Paige Patterson organize laymen in the “conservative resurgence” movement to promote biblical inerrancy in the SBC. He was involved in the 1980 launch of the Southern Baptist Advocate, a fundamentalist propaganda tool.

Boto joined the Executive Committee as a member in 1995 and was hired in 1998 as vice president for convention policy and staff counsel under President and CEO Morris Chapman, a former pastor and past SBC president who led the organization from 1992 until his retirement in 2010.

Boto picked up the additional title of general counsel in 2004 and recently served 13 months as interim president after Frank Page stepped down due to sexual misconduct in 2018.

As staff liaison to the Executive Committee’s bylaws work group, Boto mediated the 2009 ouster of Broadway Baptist Church in Fort Worth, Texas, from the SBC, saying the congregation’s views on homosexuality were too ambiguous to ensure its “friendly cooperation” with the national body.

In 2014 the Executive Committee took similar action against New Heart Community Church in La Mirada, California, ousting the church for failure to fire its pastor after he said from the pulpit he no longer believed that all same-sex relationships are sinful.

Buffalo bishop returned priest accused of abuse to ministry after ‘thorough’ investigation

NEW YORK (NY)
ABC News

July 26, 2019

By David Wright, Pete Madden, Cho Park, and Shannon K. Crawford

Others call it ‘a sham’

[With video.]

Bishop Richard Malone says his congregation’s darkest days are in the past.

The embattled spiritual leader has faced calls for his resignation over his handling of sexual abuse allegations against clergy members in the Diocese of Buffalo, where a public reckoning that started as a local scandal became a national headline.

A whistleblower, Malone’s own former secretary Siobhan O’Connor, leaked internal church documents to Charlie Specht, an investigative reporter for ABC’s Buffalo affiliate WKBW, sparking months of stories about whether there had been efforts to conceal the extent of the problem from the public.

Malone admits that he has made some mistakes, but stresses that he "inherited a decades old horrific problem," one that extends far beyond the limits of his city, and is now "trying to be part of moving us beyond it" by, among other things, purging pedophiles from their midst.

The Diocese of Buffalo’s list of credibly accused priests has grown from 42 to 132 in a little more than a year, and Malone expects that more names will be added before their work is done.

"This is something that we continue to evaluate over and over again," Malone told ABC News in a wide-ranging interview, his first on national television, airing Thursday on "Nightline." "We’re not finished with the list at this point."

But for anyone who doubts his progress, Malone offers a guarantee.

"There’s no priest with a substantiated, what you called credible, allegation of abuse of a minor in ministry in this diocese," Malone said. "I can testify to that honestly and 100 percent."

In the case of Fr. Dennis Riter, pastor of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Church in the Buffalo suburb of Dunkirk, however, Malone decided to allow a priest who had faced multiple allegations of sexual abuse of children to return to ministry, where he remains to this day. He did so, he said, after a lawyer hired by the church investigated the matter and submitted a report, a copy of which has been obtained by ABC News, concluding that the allegations against Fr. Riter had "no merit."

But multiple people familiar with that investigation expressed serious concerns with the findings of what they view as a deeply flawed report, raising questions about the process by which the Diocese of Buffalo evaluates allegations against its clergy members.

July 25, 2019

Thomas McDaniels: Celibacy is not the reason some Catholic priests are sexually abusing kids

WASHINGTON (DC)
Fox News

July 25, 2019

By Thomas McDaniels

With the numerous sex scandals within the Catholic Church, some are appealing for the church to take a more in-depth review and reconsider the qualification of celibacy and the priesthood.

This clearly validates the question: Is the epidemic of sexual failure in the Catholic church due to men being unable to marry?

The question is legitimate; however, Evangelicals and other denominations are likewise experiencing sexual failures among pastors and ministers that are married. "Focus On the Family" reported that 21 percent of Evangelical/Protestant pastors have also had improper sexual contact with members of their congregations. “Focus on the Family” also reported that 60 percent of married Evangelical pastors have an issue with some form of pornography.

This dilemma is not new and is undeniably not unique to the Catholic faith.

Over 100 years ago, the Catholic Encyclopedia published; "We do not abolish Christian marriage because so large a proportion of mankind are not faithful to the restraints which it imposes on human concupiscence. No one believes that civilized nations would be cleaner or purer if polygamy were substituted for monogamy.” Neither is there any reason to suppose that the scandals would be fewer and the clergy more respected if Catholic priests were permitted to marry."

Some think if priests were married it would solve sexual abuse and moral decline within the church.

Years of data has proven that celibacy is not the problem, nor should anyone conclude that celibacy is a contributor to sexual abuse.

Chicago Archdiocese pledged $150 million for a scholarship trust. Six years later, it holds less than a third of the money.

CHICAGO (IL)
Chicago Tribune

July 25, 2019

By David Heinzmann

As Cardinal Francis George faced a growing financial crisis in 2013, he asked Chicago Catholics for hundreds of millions of dollars for parishes and education, with $150 million set aside for a scholarship trust to save struggling schools.

In its pitch to the faithful, the Archdiocese of Chicago said schools and parishes were “challenged on many fronts — shifting demographics, a struggling economy, rising costs, a secularized society and aging facilities, to name a few.”

Catholics heeded the call ― the “To Teach Who Christ Is” campaign became the largest in the church’s history. Church leadership set a goal of $350 million, and when the pledges were added up, surpassed it by $77 million.

“The main purpose of the capital campaign was to raise money for scholarships to help parishes and schools to make them stable over the long term,” said Betsy Bohlen, the archdiocese’s chief operating officer.

Six years later, however, stability has proven elusive for one of the nation’s largest archdioceses, where dozens of schools have been shuttered and parishes merged since the fundraising drive began.

The financial pressures are myriad: the tab for priest misconduct settlements remains mammoth and the cost of retired priest pensions is rising, even as school enrollments shrink and Sunday collection plates remain flat.

Latest statistics show German Church faces massive exodus

LONDON (ENGLAND)
The Tablet

July 25, 2019

By Christa Pongratz-Lippitt

The German Church is witnessing a massive exodus as a result of clerical sexual abuse.

According to the latest official statistics published by the German bishops’ conference on 19 July, 216,078 Catholics left the Church in 2018. That is 29 per cent more than in 2017 when 167,504 left and amounts to 0.9 per cent of all Catholics in Germany. There are now fewer than 23 million Catholics in Germany, down from 23,310,000 in 2017.

It is the second largest exodus since the Limburg scandal of 2013, caused by the so-called “bishop of bling”, Bishop Franz-Peter Tebartz-van Elst, who spent vast sums of Church money on a luxurious renewal of his residence.

The statistics were “alarming”, the secretary of the bishops’ conference, Fr Hans Langendörfer SJ, said, presenting the report in Bonn. “We understand when, due to alienation processes or to a massive loss of trust, [our] credibility has been gambled away.” There was no whitewashing these figures, Bishop Felix Genn (pictured) of Münster said. “People vote with their feet on whether they consider us credible or trustworthy. There is no doubt that the publication of the [Church’s] 2018 study of clerical sexual abuse, which showed that at least 4.4 per cent of German priests had been guilty of abusing minors between 1946 and 2014, was the trigger for many Catholics to leave the Church.”

Ruth Krall, Historical Meandering: Ideologies of Abuse and Exclusion

LITTLE ROCK (AR)
Bilgrimage blog

July 24, 2019

The essay by Ruth Krall that follows below is the fifth in a series of essays entitled "Recapitulation: Affinity Sexual Violence in a Religious Voice." The first essay in this series appeared in two installments, here and here. The second appeared in another two installments, here and here. The third essay is here, and the fourth essay, in two installments, is here and here. In this multi-part series of essays, in which Ruth generously offers us the fruits of her years of research about these matters, Ruth hypothesizes the endemic natural of religious and spiritual leader sexual abuse of followers. The current essay continues this theme by arguing that clergy sexual abuse is a global public health issue whose noxious presence can be found inside multiple language groups and national identities. In this essay, which is rich and lengthy and which I'll offer to you in several installments, Ruth continues her investigation of these claims with an historical sounding. Ruth's essay follows (first installment).

Ex-Columbia priest to be sentenced

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

July 25, 2019

He’ll go back behind bars for the 2nd time
Victims seek support of Catholic parishioners
SNAP: “Write the judge, urge long prison term”
Group also ‘outs’ another abusive mid-MO cleric
“Come clean bishop! Tell us where predators were,” victims plead

WHAT
Holding signs and childhood photos at a sidewalk news conference, two clergy sex abuse victims will
--reveal that three more credibly accused predator priests spent time in Columbia.
--urge mid-Missouri Catholics to write a judge and seek the stiffest penalty for a twice-admitted serial predator priest who worked in Columbia and soon faces sentencing.

They will also prod Jeff City’s bishop to
--add another name of a priest – who worked in Rolla - to his ‘accused’ list, and
--also write to the judge about the soon-to-be-sentenced predator priest.

Man sues Arizona diocese, alleging negligent handling of 1970s sex abuse by priest

NEW YORK (NY)
Episcopal News Service

July 25, 2019

By Egan Millard

A man who says he was sexually abused by a priest in the early 1970s is suing the Episcopal Diocese of Arizona and the Tucson parish where the abuse allegedly occurred, claiming his reports of repeated molestation were ignored at the time. It may be the first lawsuit to take advantage of a new Arizona law that extends the statute of limitations for cases of child sexual abuse. The diocese, though not disputing that the abuse took place, denies his accusations of a cover-up and says the matter was handled appropriately at the time.

According to the lawsuit, Charles Taylor was sexually abused for several years around age 12 by the Rev. Richard Babcock, a priest at Grace Church (now Grace St. Paul’s Church), in the church and in Babcock’s home. Taylor says he told the rector about the abuse at the time, but the rector failed to stop it, and Babcock continued to abuse him and other children. The lawsuit, filed on July 12, also claims that the diocese knew that Babcock was abusing children and covered it up by “reassigning him to other churches.” The complaint consists of two counts each – negligence and breach of fiduciary duty – against the diocese and Grace St. Paul’s. Babcock, now deceased, admitted to having abused children in a sworn affidavit before his death, according to the law firm representing Taylor.

Taylor had tried to sue Grace St. Paul’s and the diocese in 1991 but was unable to do so because the statute of limitations had expired, his law firm says. But in May, a new state law went into effect, allowing victims of child sexual abuse to file lawsuits up until their 30th birthday. It also allows anyone to file a suit until Dec. 31, 2020, no matter how long ago the alleged abuse occurred.

The Episcopal Church has extended its own internal statute of limitations for reporting clergy sexual misconduct against an adult in the wake of the #MeToo movement. Resolution D034, passed at the 2018 General Convention, suspends the time limit for reporting those cases, effective from Jan. 1, 2019, through Dec. 31, 2021. The church has no time limit for reporting a case of sexual abuse against a person under age 21.

ABC 'Nightline' program dealing with Buffalo Diocese tentatively scheduled

BUFFALO (NY)
Buffalo News

July 24, 2019

By Alan Pergamont

The ABC “Nightline” program that will feature the award-winning coverage by Channel 7 investigative reporter Charlie Specht on the sexual abuse allegations in the Buffalo Diocese finally has a tentative air date.

WKBW-TV General Manager Michael Nurse said he was told by ABC this week that barring a last-minute change it is scheduled to be carried on Channel 7 at 12:30 a.m. Friday, following ABC's late-night Thursday programming.

Specht’s work with photojournalist Jeff Wick will be highlighted as the national TV program takes a deep dive into the church scandal here.

In a previous phone interview, Specht said he called a “Nightline” staffer to suggest the program look into the controversy in the Catholic Church in Western New York 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,” Specht, a former Buffalo News reporter, said. “They changed the focus. They were genuinely interested in the controversy in Buffalo.”

Sex abuse claims against archdiocese, clergy now under review

TAOS (NM)
Taos News

July 25, 2019

When the June 17 deadline to file sexual abuse claims against the Archdiocese of Santa Fe passed, 340 people had submitted paperwork to be part of the bankruptcy settlement.

Now, the bankruptcy process is moving along and the claims are being reviewed.

The participants in the bankruptcy proceedings are "close" to identifying a mediator for settlement discussions, according to Jim Stang, a lawyer representing the creditors' committee, a group of eight survivors or the parents of survivors.

A corporate arm of the archdiocese, which manages some of its endowment, should also be responding to requests for disclosure of documents, he said.

After decades of sexual abuse lawsuits and millions of dollars in payouts to survivors of alleged clergy abuse, the archdiocese filed for bankruptcy in December in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for New Mexico. The archdiocese has about $49 million in assets, according to the court documents.

Clergy abuse advocates speak out about predator priests in Columbia

COLUMBIA (MO)
The Missourian

July 25, 2019

By Chloe Khaw

Two clergy abuse advocates from mid-Missouri spoke out Wednesday at Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church on the need for people to know the truth about predator priests who might still be hiding and living in the community.

SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, is a support group for people who have been injured by “religious and institutional authorities,” according to the organization’s website.

David Clohessy, the group’s former executive director and a survivor of clergy abuse, held a news conference in front of the church. He held up cardboard signs bearing the names of alleged predator priests who have lived in Columbia. He was joined by Bob Heinz, a member of a similar organization, Voice of the Faithful, who held up pictures of clergy abuse victims.

“In a nutshell, SNAP has two missions: to protect the vulnerable and to heal the wounded,” Clohessy said.

He started the news conference by naming four “credibly accused” priests who allegedly molested children and were accused in other cities but had previously worked and lived in Columbia: former priest Fred Lenczycki, Fr. Kenneth J. Roberts, Fr. John Baskett (deceased) and Fr. James Gummersbach. Their names have not been added to Bishop W. Shawn McKnight’s list of priests who are credibly accused or removed from ministry in the Diocese of Jefferson City.

Lenczycki pleaded guilty to molesting three children in Illinois and was sentenced in 2014. In February, he was charged with abusing two boys in the 1990s at a St. Louis County parish.

Clohessy said he got these names from BishopAccountability.org, which is based on the official Catholic Directory and news stories.

Diocese of Rochester could face at least 75 new lawsuits over child abuse

ROCHESTER (NY)
WHEC TV

July 25, 2019

The Roman Catholic Diocese of Rochester could face dozens of lawsuits next month due to a change in state law.

Boston attorney Mitchell Garabedian told Ithaca.com dozens of victims claiming abuse by clergy members in the Diocese of Rochester have come to him over the last several months to inquire about filing lawsuits.

Of the 75 victims Garabedian represents, he says 70 are men and five are women, and their claims stem from alleged abuse that took place between the 1950s to 1993.

New York's Child Victims Act allows victims who were sexually assaulted as minors to bring civil actions against their alleged perpetrators at any time before the victim turns 55 years old.

The one-year window to file claims alleging sex abuse under the new state law starts Aug. 14.

Catholic fund begins offering cash to settle N.J. priest abuse claims

NEWARK (NJ)
Star Ledger

July 25, 2019

By Kelly Heyboer

A new compensation fund backed by New Jersey’s five Catholic dioceses is paying its first financial settlements to people who say they were sexually abused by priests and other clergy members.

The fund -- called the New Jersey Independent Victim Compensation Program -- was unveiled earlier this year by the state’s Catholic dioceses as a way for victims to settle their cases with the church privately, without going to court.

The fund began accepting its first round of applicants June 15 and has already considered several cases and made settlement offers, said Camille Biros, co-administrator of the program.

“The program is up and running and going well with 44 claims received as of today," Biros said Tuesday. "Three claim determinations have been made and three settlement offers have been sent to claimants.”

The cash settlements will be paid by the Archdiocese of Newark and the state’s other dioceses -- Camden, Paterson, Metuchen and Trenton.

July 24, 2019

Movement to Restore Trust releases new report on handling of clergy sex abuse cases

BUFFALO (NY)
WIVB TV

July 25, 2019

By Evan Anstey

A group of Catholics, whose mission is to address the handling of clergy sex abuse cases, has released a 68-page report.

The Movement to Restore Trust says the document seeks “increased support and compassion as well as justice for survivors of sexual abuse and recommends the implementation of meaningful reforms, with a goal of restoring the faithful’s trust and confidence in the Church and its leadership.”

In summary, the group addressed the following points:
Transparency around the nature and scale of the abuse in the diocese and financial and spiritual reparations for victims/survivors
Transparency about all diocesan operations
Accountability for bishops
Selecting and monitoring bishops
Greater involvement by women and laity in the Church
Improvements in the formation of priests & priestly life

A Man Confessed to Trading Illicit Images of Kids; Mormon Leaders Said Nothing

Patheos blog

July 24, 2019

By Hemant Mehta

When Benjamin Alyk was in his early teens, he came across a website that trafficked in illicit photos of children. People on that website uploaded and traded pictures that were criminal in nature. When the website’s security ramped up, Alyk discovered he could only get access to pictures if he shared some of his own… so he secretly recorded two kids, ages 4 and 6, as they used the bathroom in his home. Later on, he used a remote camera to record kids at his mother’s in-home daycare changing in and out of their swimsuits.

Alyk says he stopped looking at (and trading) child pornography when he was 17. When he was 18, he embarked on a two-year Mormon mission trip in the Dominican Republic and, perhaps full of guilt, confessed everything to the man overseeing the mission.

Alyk was sent back home to Utah, where he confessed once again to a Mormon disciplinary council consisting of local church leaders — likely 15 men that included the Stake President, two counselors, and “12 members of the local High Council.”

Despite all those confessions, nothing happened. He wasn’t punished. Law enforcement didn’t come after him. More importantly, he was free to be around children without any consequences.

Survivor rallies to expose alleged priest abusers, Jefferson City Diocese responds

JEFFERSON CITY (MO)
KRCG TV

July 24, 2019

By Kyreon Lee

A member of the group Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests and a member from Voices of the Faithful gathered outside of the Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church in Columbia on Wednesday to rally.

Survivor and SNAP's former long time executive director, David Clohessy, said he was abused by a Moberly priest in the 1960s, when he was 12 to 16 years old. Clohessy said he came forward when he was in his 30s because he couldn't be silent anymore. He said they were rallying in response to a former Columbia priest that is set to be sentenced next month.

According to online court records, in May, ex-priest Fred Lenczycki pleaded guilty to two counts of sodomy. According to The Associated Press, Lenczycki pleaded guilty to crimes that occurred in the early 1990s when he was serving at a parish in north St. Louis County. Church and court files show that Lenczycki admitted abusing up to 30 boys in Illinois, Missouri and California over 25 years. Lenczycki was removed from the ministry in 2002, when he was charged with sexually abusing three boys in the 1980s at a church in Hinsdale, Illinois. The Illinois victims told authorities “Father Fred” repeatedly molested them, often using the pretense of swaddling them in “Baby Jesus” costumes for pageants that never took place. He pleaded guilty in 2004 and was sentenced to five years in prison. In 2008, a year before his release, he became the first U.S. priest to be labeled sexually violent when he was committed under Illinois’ Sexually Violent Persons Commitment Act.

Sick of hearing about scandals in the Church? You should be. (Part I)

BOSTON (MA)
CatholicCulture.org

July 24, 2019

By Phil Lawler

I quit.

For more than 25 years now, I have been reporting and writing about scandal within the Catholic Church. Yesterday, as I wearily wrote one more article about episcopal corruption, I realized how much the topic has come to nauseate me. I can’t do it anymore.

Since the 1990s I have been digging in the muck, uncovering more and more of what Pope Benedict XVI aptly termed the “filth” in the Church—the filth that obscures the image of Christ. It hasn’t been pleasant work. It isn’t the work I would have chosen. It isn’t edifying. The daily dealing with appalling ugliness—week after week, month after month—has taken a heavy toll: on my health, on my family, on my spiritual life. In warfare, good commanders know that even the toughest troops need a break after weeks in battle. And believe me, this is—always has been—a spiritual battle.

I’m not going to walk away from that battle. Far from it. I’ve devoted my life to the cause of reform in the Catholic Church, and I fully intend to continue speaking and writing on that topic. But I need to step back, to take a new approach, to fight this war on a different front. I can’t continue plowing through the documents, chasing down the leads, dredging up the facts. Fortunately, in the past few years many other reporters have joined the hunt for the truth. I’ll comment on the facts they unearth; I’ll provide my perspective. But in order to have a healthy perspective, I have to escape the miasma, to raise my sights.

How long have I been on the front lines? In November 1993, nearly a decade before the Boston Globe arrived on the scene, as editor of Catholic World Report I ran a cover story on the sex-abuse scandal. (Seven years later I published an even more provocative cover story: “The Gay Priest Problem.”) I was slapped with a libel suit (later summarily dismissed) for publishing a story that questioned the work of clinics that “treated” predator priests and cleared them for return to ministry.

In 2002 I broke the story that Pope John Paul II had summoned the leadership of the US bishops’ conference to Rome to discuss the scandal. I was the first person in Boston to call for the resignation of Cardinal Bernard Law, and when he finally did resign, I broke that story, too.

Diocese of Lake Charles defends accuracy of credibly accused list

NEW ORLEANS (LA)
The Advocate

July 24, 2019

By Ben Myers

The Diocese of Lake Charles is defending the accuracy of its list of clergymen credibly accused of child sex abuse.

The Advocate reported last week that diocesan officials knew of allegations against two priests, Gerard Smit and Mark Broussard, years before the dates indicated on the list. During the intervening periods, the bishop at the time, the late Jude Speyrer, sent Smit and Broussard to a Catholic-run treatment center known for receiving accused priests and he subsequently helped them continue working as priests, records show.

The diocese said in a statement Tuesday, “we maintain that the list is both accurate and thorough,” without elaborating or disputing anything in the article.

Church officials said in an interview the list reflects the dates of the earliest written allegations on file. That standard was established by an independent review panel to ensure proper verification, they said. The panel, composed of “legal and judicial professionals,” according to the statement, investigated church records and compiled the list.

SNAP, a national advocacy organization for priest abuse victims, condemned the diocese’s rationale as “yet another loophole that church officials found and used to continue to hide the fact that they were aware of abuse allegations against Fr. Gerard Smit and Fr. Mark Broussard long before they were willing to admit.”

Attacking the Abuse Crisis with Consumer Protection Laws

PARIS (FRANCE)
FSSPX News

July 24, 2019

The sex-abuse scandal, which continues to engulf the Catholic Church, has brought down the ire of secular authorities throughout the United States. In an attempt to hold Catholic dioceses accountable, one State has turned to its consumer protection laws. Will this help alleviate the problem?

The West Virginia Example
Earlier this year, in March 2019, West Virginia, by and through its Attorney General, brought a two-count complaint against the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston and its former bishop, Michael J. Bransfield, alleging violations of the West Virginia Consumer Credit and Protection Act (WVCCPA). The Act, which is intentionally broad in scope, sanctions advertising services that are not delivered and failing to warn of dangerous services.

With respect to the local Catholic diocese, West Virginia claims that the diocese deceived Catholics (consumers) by advertising that its schools and other programs were safe despite having hired clergy who had credible accusations of sexual abuse in their past; failing to do background checks on lay hires; and knowingly employing priests and laity who had admitted to engaging in sexual abuse. This behavior, according to West Virginia, created an unsafe environment for minors which the diocese failed to warn people about.

The Complaint seeks a series of civil penalties against Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston and Bishop Bransfield, including disgorgement. That means, should West Virginia prevail in court, that the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston could be forced to surrender any revenue it generated through its schools and similar programs. The Diocese may also be forced to pay restitution to anyone who used these services.

Survivors seek more info on abusive priests

COLUMBIA (MO)
Daily Tribune

July 24, 2019

By Pat Pratt

The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests is calling for the addition of a previously unreported name to the Diocese of Jefferson City’s list of credibly accused priests, and the group is also asking the locations where those on the list served be made public.

Longtime SNAP leader and former national director David Clohessy spoke with reporters Wednesday outside Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church in Columbia and called on Bishop William Shawn McKnight to add previously unreported priest James Gummersbach, who worked in Rolla.

“Where do people go, they oftentimes go back to places where they lived and hang around with people who they once lived with,” Clohessy said. “It is conceivable that Father Gummersbach, even though he is originally from St. Louis, it is conceivable that once a year he comes back to Rolla and vacations or meets a devout Catholic family at the lake.”

Helen Osman, director of diocesan communications, wrote in an email response that the diocese will investigate SNAP’s claims Gummersbach served in Rolla, but there is no indication at this time he did.

Many clergy abuse victims can’t sue their abusers. Will a new legal strategy change that?

HARRISBURG (PA)
Penn Capital Star

July 24, 2019

By Elizabeth Hardison

A Missouri man who says he was repeatedly raped by two Catholic priests in suburban Harrisburg sued his former diocese for fraud Tuesday, using a legal strategy that his attorneys hope could signal a sea change for clergy sex abuse victims across Pennsylvania.

Donald Asbee, 67 of Hartsburg, Mo., was repeatedly fondled and raped by priests Raymond Daugherty and Walter Sempko at St. Joseph’s Roman Catholic Church in Milton, Pa., the suit filed in Dauphin County Court alleges. Asbee said the assaults occurred in the 1960s, when he was between the ages of nine and 13.

Both of the priests who allegedly raped Asbee are dead. But the suit filed Tuesday morning doesn’t sue anyone for sexual abuse.

Instead, it seeks unspecified monetary damages from the Diocese of Harrisburg and its former and current bishops, Kevin Rhoades and Ronald Gainer, who Asbee’s lawyers say committed conspiracy, fraud, and constructive fraud by failing to remove predatory priests from the parish and by allowing priests to exploit the trust of children and families.

A grand jury report released in 2018 uncovered decades of child sexual abuse by 301 “predator priests” and a widespread coverup in six Catholic dioceses across Pennsylvania. Since then, state lawmakers have split on whether or not victims should be able to sue priests and dioceses for decades-old abuse.

Pennsylvania’s statute of limitation laws currently give survivors of child sexual abuse until the age of 30 to sue their abusers.

A bill currently stalled in the state Senate would eliminate the criminal statute of limitations on childhood sexual abuse and expand the civil window until a victim turns 55. Another would create a two-year retroactive window in which victims could file civil suits against their abusers, no matter when the abuse took place.

Mexico conference aims to help Latin America fight abuse in the Church

ROME (ITALY)
Crux

July 24, 2019

By Inés San Martín

Pope Francis wants an “apostleship of prevention” when it comes to abuse, he said in a new video.

“Any person, a lay man or woman, a religious man or woman, a priest, a bishop, who prevents children from reaching Jesus must be stopped while we’re still in time, or punished if they’ve committed a crime,” Francis said in a video he sent last week to the 170 participants of a five-week program on abuse prevention at the Pontifical University of Mexico.

The course, ending July 27, was organized by the university’s Center for Interdisciplinary Research and Formation for the Protection of Minors (CEPROME), which works with the Center for Child Protection at Rome’s Pontifical Gregorian University.

“As a comparison though it’s not a nice one: Drugs,” Francis said, noting that though it takes much effort, a person who’s addicted to drugs can be cured, and it’s important to try to do so. “But the question is how do you prevent children from doing drugs? Here the question is, how do we prevent children being abused? The apostleship of prevention.”

When it comes to the Catholic Church, he said, children must be protected so that “no one - not a single person - abuses them, that no one might keep them from coming to Jesus.”

Tennessee Priest Allegedly Sexually Abused Child and Offered Him to Others

Patheos blog

July 24, 2019

By David Gee

A Tennessee priest with a previously clean record has now been accused of repeatedly sexually abusing a young boy for years — and offering him up to other clergymen.

The alleged victim, Michael Boyd, is suing the Diocese of Knoxville, saying that longtime priest Xavier Mankel (above) took advantage of him as a child. Boyd’s lawsuit also says he was abused by Bishop Anthony O’Connell, who founded the diocese.

Making matters worse, Boyd claims Mankel offered him up to visiting priests for “inappropriate sexual conduct.”

While the diocese is the only named defendant, the 20-page lawsuit claims the former altar boy was repeatedly abused in the 1990s by longtime Knoxville priest Xavier Mankel and at least twice by Bishop Anthony O’Connell.

O’Connell, who died in 2012, is the best-known figure named in the suit. He became the first bishop of the Knoxville diocese when it was formed in 1988. Ten years later, he became bishop in Palm Beach, Florida. He resigned in 2002 after admitting inappropriate conduct with minors in Missouri decades earlier and before he was in Knoxville.

Naming O’Connell wasn’t as surprising as it could have been, then, but it’s worth noting that the most serious allegations are against someone with a previously clean record on child sex abuse issues.

Former Buffalo priest accused of abuse in California lawsuit

BUFFALO (NY)
Buffalo News

July 23, 2019

By Jay Tokasz

An Episcopal priest in California who formerly served as a Catholic priest in the Buffalo Diocese was accused in a lawsuit of sexually abusing a woman in the Town of Tonawanda decades ago.

The abuse is alleged to have happened when the Rev. Paul J. Kowalewski was preparing to be a Catholic priest in Buffalo in the 1970s.

Kowalewski, 71, currently is listed as part of the assisting clergy in the Church of St. Paul in the Desert, a parish in Palm Springs in the Episcopal Diocese of San Diego. He has been an Episcopal priest since 1990.

Minnesota law firm Jeff Anderson & Associates filed a lawsuit in Los Angeles on Monday against the Protestant Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles, alleging that the diocese allowed Kowalewski to stay in active ministry despite being aware of accusations against him.

"I want him out. I don't want anybody else to stand here with nothing done about this," said Patricia Harner, a Florida resident who is the plaintiff in the suit. "I brought this suit because I have been living with this for so many years, the pain, the heartache and I thought he was out of the priesthood and any kind of ministry at all."

Attorney J. Michael Reck said the diocese needs to remove Kowalewski from ministry immediately.

"This lawsuit seeks not money, but safety," he said.

Judge Velis appointment another chapter in diocesan history surrounding clergy sex abuse

SPRINGFIELD (MA)
The Republican

July 23, 2019

By Anne-Gerard Flynn

The Roman Catholic Diocese of Springfield has its own history in the global Church’s clergy sex abuse crisis dating back decades. And that history continues with its recent announcement that retired Superior Court Judge Peter A. Velis will investigate allegations of sexual misconduct involving the late Bishop Christopher J. Weldon.

The concern of lawyers defending the Springfield Diocese over time, as one put it back in 2003, has been showing that “the diocese didn’t have knowledge of any abuse that may or may not have been committed." While this defense has largely succeeded, the allegations against Weldon and appointment of Velis open the door once again to questions of what diocesan hierarchy knew about the abuse of minors as far back as the 1950s when Weldon became bishop.

Many of the subsequently reported allegations of sexual abuse of minors occurred during Weldon’s 27 years as bishop, and the murder of an altar boy in which a former priest remains the only publicly identified suspect also occurred during his tenure.

In 2003, it was Judge Velis who ordered the release of documents filed in the investigation of former priest Richard R. Lavigne in the brutal 1972 killing of 13-year-old Daniel Croteau of Chicopee. The state Appeals Court overturned Velis’ ruling only to have the Supreme Judicial Court uphold it in 2004.

Buishop Rozanski was directed to provide the Apostolic Nuncio’s offices in Washington D.C. all information regarding this matter.

There have been allegations in such publications as E.J. Fleming’s 2018 book, “Death of an Altar Boy: The Unsolved Murder of Danny Croteau and the Culture of Abuse in the Catholic Church,” that Weldon obstructed justice in the police investigation.

Neronha Strikes Agreement with Diocese of Providence to Review 70 Years of Records

PROVIDENCE (RI)
GoLocalPro

July 23, 2019

Rhode Island Attorney General Peter Neronha announced the State of Rhode Island has signed an agreement to gain access to the Diocese of Providence's records dating back to the 1950s in an effort to find additional cases of sexual abuse by church priests and staff.

As part of an ongoing review of allegations of clergy child sexual abuse within the Diocese of Providence, the Attorney General has entered into a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Bishop Thomas Tobin of Providence.

“While this voluntary, additional disclosure by the diocese is an important step forward in our review, much additional work remains. We will not hesitate to take any additional steps that may prove necessary to fully determine the scope of misconduct here and take appropriate action,” said Neronha.

About MOU

This MOU expands on and supplements a 2016 Letter of Understanding between the Office and the Diocese dated August 30, 2016, by providing fuller access to historical records.

In October of 2018, GoLocal reported that the Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests (SNAP), a national non-profit, has called on Democratic candidate for Rhode Island Attorney General Peter Neronha to commit to investigating the Diocese of Providence.

Alliance for Safe Communities, a Rhode Island-based organization advocating for the victims of diocesan sexual abuse, says it has reached out to former U.S. Attorney Neronha regarding his unwillingness to commit to an investigation of the Catholic Diocese sex abuse scandal.

Vatican Punishment of ex-Bishop Bransfield Comes Up Short

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

July 24, 2019

Despite facing multiple accusations of sexual harassment and abuse, on Friday the Vatican declined to permanently remove a disgraced West Virginia bishop from the church, opting instead for a lesser punishment. This sends the message that cases of sexual abuse against adults are still not taken seriously by church officials.

Ex-Bishop Michael Bransfield has now been barred from participating in mass publicly or from living in the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston in West Virginia, his old home. Such a punishment is the bare minimum for a prelate who is alleged to not only have sexually assaulted seminarians during his time as Bishop, but who also gave away lavish gifts and cash to curry favor with other church officials. And such a punishment underscores how little church officials at the Vatican understand or care about cases of sexual abuse.

SNAP Applauds News Organizations’ Fight to Unseal Abuse Records in North Carolina

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

July 24, 2019

Several major news organizations in North Carolina are going to court in order to unseal records related to two local cases of alleged clergy sexual abuse. We applaud this effort and hope that their request is successful.

The Charlotte Observer, WBTV, WCNC, and WSOC have filed motions asking for the release of documents from two separate lawsuits, saying that the information is of significant public interest, and that the Diocese of Charlotte did not prove that the narrow range of circumstances existed in which such documents can be sealed.

Sex abuse survivors' advocacy group wants two bishops blocked from ministry

KANSAS CITY (MO)
National Catholic Reporter

July 24, 2019

By Brian Roewe

Advocates for survivors of clergy sexual abuse have urged the local bishop to bar from church functions two prelates with ties to Kansas City, Missouri, who've been central figures in the Catholic Church's clergy sexual abuse scandal.

The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP) sent a letter July 5 to Kansas City-St. Joseph Bishop James Johnston requesting he use a new protocol created by U.S. bishops to block resigned Bishop Robert Finn and retired Bishop Joseph Hart from ministry and all church meetings and activities.

In a separate letter addressed to Pope Francis, SNAP urged he forgo a planned trial and immediately laicize Hart, 87, who from 1978 to 2001 led the Diocese of Cheyenne, Wyoming. Last year, the diocese found credible accusations he sexually abused three male minors. Additional abuse claims date back to Hart's time as a priest in Kansas City (1956-1976). Hart has repeatedly denied the allegations.

In 2012 Finn, 66, was found guilty of a misdemeanor for failing to report suspected child abuse. He served a two-year suspended sentence, in addition to meeting monthly for five years with a county prosecutor to avoid another charge. Finn resigned in April 2015 following a Vatican investigation of the diocese.

At their June assembly, the U.S. bishops approved the "Protocol Regarding Available Non-Penal Restrictions on Bishops." That new policy permits a diocesan bishop to take measures against a bishop emeritus whose "resignation or removal was due to the sexual abuse of a minor, sexual misconduct with an adult or grave negligence of office" regarding the sexual abuse of minors.

Among available restrictions are barring a retired bishop from public ministry — including preaching and celebrating sacraments, which can extend to hearing confessions — and limiting his benefits, such as for travel. The protocol stipulates public notice of any restrictions, as well as informing the Vatican. It can be implemented by a bishop emeritus' successor, the bishop of the diocese where he resides or seeks to minister, or the episcopal conference.

The protocol was in part sparked by outrage a year ago to reports of credible accusations against now-former cardinal Theodore McCarrick, and whether fellow bishops knew of the allegations or any restrictions imposed on him. Before he was laicized, several bishops at their November meeting voiced that the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops should censure and disinvite McCarrick from conference proceedings.

KBI following 74 leads in ongoing Kansas clergy abuse inquiry

DODGE CITY (KS)
Daily Globe

July 24, 2019

By Tim Carpenter

The Kansas Bureau of Investigation’s public appeal for people to step forward with allegations of sexual misconduct among members of the Catholic clergy prompted 74 investigations in 33 Kansas counties, officials said Tuesday.

Attorney General Derek Schmidt requested in November that the KBI initiate an investigation of victimization by members of the clergy, church employees and volunteers or any others in positions of authority within the four Catholic dioceses in Kansas.

Since the KBI went public in February, the agency received 119 reports from purported victims regarding sexual abuse by clergy members. More than half of those reports led to initiation of investigations by KBI agents assigned to a task force.

Chuck Weber, executive director of the Kansas Catholic Conference, said the organization encouraged the KBI to look into complaints of abuse. The dioceses in Kansas have an internal reporting system for alleged abuse, he said, but people uneasy about that system were directed to call law enforcement directly.

“The Catholic churches, all four dioceses, we welcome any and all investigations,” said Weber, a former state legislator. “We’ve been open to inquiries.”

Wichita resident Janet Patterson, who had a son who died by suicide in 1999 after abuse by a priest, said the KBI investigation was essential to sort out past crimes. She equated abuse at the hands of religious leaders to a “third-degree burn to the soul.”

July 23, 2019

Bronx sisters reach settlement with NY Archdiocese over sexual assaults in their home by parish priest

NEW YORK (NY)
New York Daily News

July 23, 2019

By Mikey Light and Larry McShane

Two Bronx sisters sexually abused by a trusted parish priest inside their home during the 1970s reached a settlement with the Archdiocese of New York over the childhood assaults.

“In bringing this into the light, the evil cannot hide and we can begin the healing process,” said Imelda Maldonado Davis, 54, at a Tuesday news conference outside St. Patrick’s Cathedral. “And we can protect all of our children.”

She was joined by her younger sister Mercedes, who was also targeted by the late Monsignor Charles McDonagh beginning back in 1972 and continuing for several years. McDonagh, then a Bronx parish priest, was later promoted to secretary to Terence Cardinal Cooke and his successor John Cardinal O’Connor.

The sisters, joined by Road to Recovery co-founder Robert Hoatson, declined to discuss the financial specifics of the settlement other than to say in was in the “five-figure range.”

Davis recalled how excited the family was initially when the priest came to visit their home. But their delight eventually turned to dread as the predatory priest would slip upstairs and into the girls’ bedroom.

“We would dread the sound of the stairs creaking,” recalled Imelda. "We knew what was coming. Father McDonagh would sit on our beds and proceed to talk quietly to us … then he would molest my sister and I.

“This has affected me in ways that are difficult and painful to articulate.”

Priest with money bags hurt in crash, allegedly pilfered $95K from Santa Rosa church

SANTA ROSA (CA)
San Francisco Chronicle

July 22, 2019

By Gwendolyn Wu

Bishop Robert F. Vasa knew something was amiss as the bags of cash started piling up.

First, it was the six security bags — used for collecting parish donations — found in a Santa Rosa priest’s car after the pastor was injured in an accident. Then it was the dozen sacks — both sealed and unsealed — in the same priest’s office, as well as a $10,000 stack of cash found in his desk drawer.

But a final trip to the Rev. Oscar Diaz’s home unveiled the extent of the money allegedly skimmed from five Northern California churches — at least $95,000 taken over the course of 15 years from well-intentioned parishioners, church officials said Monday.

Former jail chaplain accused of molesting female inmates will stand trial locally

SIERRA VISTA (AZ)
Herald Review

July 18, 2019

By Lyda Longa

A former county jail chaplain accused of sexually assaulting female inmates will stand trial in Cochise County and will be prosecuted by the county attorney’s office, Superior Court Judge Laura Cardinal ruled Thursday.

Cardinal also said she would issue a ruling on whether to seal online information concerning the case against defendant Douglas Packer after his attorney Jacob Amaru stated that potential jurors could be influenced by the information.

“People can come to the hearings and listen to the case, they are open to the public, but seeing the information online could taint a potential juror,” Amaru said.

St. X releases list of brothers the school says were 'credibly accused' of abusing children

LOUISVILLE (KY)
WDRB

July 15, 2019

St. X has released a list of brothers the school says were 'credibly accused' of abusing kids.

The list was created with the help of a retired FBI agent, who reviewed records going back decades.

Fourteen brothers once assigned to St. X were named, dating from the 1930s until the 80s. Of those, only the allegations against three happened during their time at the school.

The list is made up of dead or former brothers with a credible or established offense against children. That includes five whose cases couldn't be fully investigated.

St. X says with the information becoming public, some of the brothers are confessing, repenting and asking forgiveness from the survivors of abuse.

Pope gives West Virginia diocese new leader after scandal

CHARLESTON (WV)
The Associated Press

July 23, 2019

West Virginia’s new Roman Catholic bishop vowed Tuesday to work toward restoring faith in the diocese after a scandal over the former bishop’s sexual harassment of adults and lavish spending of church money.

Pope Francis named Baltimore Auxiliary Bishop Mark Brennan to lead the state’s Catholics. The 72-year-old Brennan replaces Bishop Michael Bransfield, who resigned in September after a preliminary investigation into allegations of sexual and financial misconduct.

“I want you to know how acutely aware I am of the deep disappointment and pain that you have experienced as a result of your former bishop’s misdeeds,” Brennan said at a news conference in Wheeling. “I’m not a magician. I’m not a wonder worker. I’m your brother in Christ. And I’m willing to work hard with you to make this corner of the Lord’s vineyard a place of faith as steadfast as the mountains, of hope as invigorating as fast-flowing streams, and of love as welcoming as the sun.”

Lawyer Mitchell Garabedian Names Priest as Sexual Abuser

CAPE COD (MA)
Cape Cod Today

July 23, 2019

Secretary to two New York Cardinals...

Attorney Mitchell Garabedian, best known for representing victims in the Boston Catholic priest sex abuse scandal, has issued a statement regarding two sisters who suffered abuse at the hands of a priest in Bronx, NY. The statement is reproduced verbatim below.

I represent two sisters who were repeatedly sexually abused for years by Fr. Charles G. McDonagh who was at the time assigned to Our Lady of Refuge Parish in the Bronx, NY. Fr. McDonagh later became Secretary to Cardinal Cooke and Secretary to Cardinal O’Connor.

Pope Francis announces new leadership for Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston

WHEELING (WV)
WTOV9

July 23, 2019

Pope Francis announced new leadership for the the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston on Tuesday morning.

The selection of Most Reverend Mark E. Brennan Mark E. Brennan was made official early Tuesday morning as the ninth bishop of the diocese.

Vatican names new Bishop to lead Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston

WHEELING (WV)
The Associated Press

July 23, 2019

The Latest on the leadership changes at West Virginia’s Roman Catholic diocese (all times local):

7News will be live streaming the official announcement of the new Bishop of Wheeling-Charleston at 9:00 a.m. on our Facebook page

8:03 a.m. The Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston has released a statement regarding the announcement of Bishop Mark Brennan the leader of the Diocese

Pope Francis has named the Most Reverend Mark E. Brennan, currently Auxiliary Bishop for the Archdiocese of Baltimore, as the ninth bishop of the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston. Bishop Brennan, 72, was ordained a priest of the Archdiocese of Washington on May 15, 1976 by the then-Archbishop William W. Baum.

A Boston native, Bishop Brennan is the son of the late Edward Charles Brennan and Regina Claire Lonsway. He attended public schools in Massachusetts and Maryland before entering St. Anthony High School in Washington, D.C. Bishop Brennan graduated from Brown University in 1969 with a degree in history, and then entered Christ the King Seminary in Alleghany, New York for a year of philosophy before attending the Pontifical North American College in Rome for his theological studies.

Deceased Knoxville priest, bishop accused of sexual abuse

KNOXVILLE (TN)
Associated Press

July 23, 2019

A Tennessee man has sued the Diocese of Knoxville, claiming he was sexually abused by a priest and bishop while serving as an altar boy in the 1990s.

The Knoxville News Sentinel reports Michael Boyd filed the suit in Knox County on Thursday.

It claims Boyd was abused by Father Xavier Mankel and Bishop Anthony O’Connell. Both have since died. O’Connell later resigned after admitting inappropriate conduct with minors in other dioceses.

The suit also says music teacher William Lovelace tried to get Boyd to touch him inappropriately. The diocese has suspended Lovelace with “a presumption of innocence” until the allegations are investigated.

Boyd previously met with Bishop Richard Stika about the allegations against Mankle. In a letter issued to local Catholic leaders on Friday, Stika said diocese officials turned over materials given them by Boyd to an independent investigator.

Man sues Tucson church, Episcopal diocese over abuse allegations

TUCSON (AZ)
KGUN 9

July 22, 2019

By Natalie Tarangioli

In May, a big change in Arizona law was made for reporting sexual assault. And less than two months later, a man filed a lawsuit against the Episcopal Diocese of Arizona and a Tucson church.

Charles Taylor filed the civil complaint in Pima County Superior Court on July 12.

The complaint states Grace St. Paul's church staff ignored reports of sexual misconduct by an Episcopalian priest in the 1970's.

Taylor says he filed a complaint in 1991, but it was tossed out, because it didn't meet the statute of limitations.

At the end of May, a new law went into effect that expands the window for sexual abuse victims.

"I know that I deserve justice, and we are going to make sure that everyone in this state, under the new law will have justice and our day in court," Taylor said at a press conference in downtown Tucson on Monday.

Channel 9 works to unseal records of sex abuse allegations at Charlotte Diocese

CHARLOTTE (NC)
WSOCtv

July 23, 2019

By Allison Latos

Court records surrounding sexual abuse lawsuits against the Diocese of Charlotte have been kept confidential for years, but Channel 9 is working to bring those documents to light.

Dioceses nationwide have begun revealing the names of church leaders accused of abuse, but the Diocese of Charlotte has not released a full list of all priests with credible allegations.

Channel 9 has joined with other media outlets in filing a lawsuit to have the records unsealed.

Wisconsin abbey names 22 priests accused of sexual abuse

DE PERE (WI)
Associated Press

July 22, 2019

St. Norbert Abbey in Wisconsin has released the names of 22 priests who faced “credible” allegations of sexually abusing minors.

The abbey says an independent review deemed more than 40 allegations credible. About half came from the 1960s, and 12 Norbertine priests faced multiple allegations. All but five are dead. Two of the living have left the abbey and ministry; three others are restricted from ministry.

Abbot Dane Radecki says the names were released Friday in the spirit of accountability, but gave few details of the allegations.

The abbey serves St. Norbert College and some schools and parishes around De Pere.

The report came six months after the Green Bay Diocese named 46 priests with credible claims of sexual abuse against them but did not include priests from independent orders.

Ruling could open door for new lawsuits in clergy sexual abuse cases

HARRISBURG (PA)
Local 21 News

July 22, 2019

By Amanda Hoskins

More lawsuits against Catholic dioceses in Pennsylvania are surmounting.

This time, victims are seeking damage for the dioceses committing fraud and conspiracy.

A new lawsuit being filed against the Harrisburg Diocese could continue to open the flood gates.

It comes after the attorney of a man who claims he is a victim of sexual abuse made significant gains in a similar case against the Altoona-Johnstown Diocese.

While it lost in the court of common pleas, a June superior court decision reversed the ruling.

In the 2017 case, attorney Richard Serbin argued the church committed fraud, fraudulent concealment and civil conspiracy.

He argued the diocese had the obligation to tell the victim, his client, about the nature of the allegations and the cover-ups surrounding her perpetrator in the diocese. They argued she only learned about it through the grand jury report.

Judge orders Jeffrey Epstein to remain in jail, says he's 'concerned for new victims'

NEW YORK (NY)
CNN

July 18, 2019

By Erica Orden

A federal judge on Thursday ordered Jeffrey Epstein, who is accused of sexually abusing dozens of underage girls, to remain in jail pending trial, rejecting the multimillionaire's request to return to his Upper East Side mansion under supervision.

In a court hearing, US District Court Judge Richard Berman described Epstein's proposed bail package -- which would have allowed him to return home accompanied by armed guards and a live-in, court-appointed trustee -- as "irretrievably inadequate." He said Epstein was both a danger to the community and a flight risk.

"Mr. Epstein's alleged excessive attraction to sexual conduct with or in the presence of minor girls -- which is said to include his soliciting and receiving massages from young girls and young women perhaps as many as four times a day," the judge wrote in a 33-page decision filed with the court, "appears likely to be uncontrollable."

Among the most important influences in the judge's decision to deny bail, he wrote, were the victims of Epstein's alleged crimes, including two who "movingly" testified at one of the bail hearings, telling the court they feared his release would result in their harassment and abuse. "The court is also concerned for new victims," the judge added.

BISHOP BRANSFIELD RECEIVES SLAP ON THE WRIST FROM ROME

CHARLESTON (WV)
ChurchMilitant.com

July 22, 2019

By Stephen Wynne

Critics slam paltry penalties for corrupt former West Virginia bishop

Amid an ongoing inquiry into financial malfeasance and sex abuse cover-up in West Virginia, the Vatican is imposing sanctions on Bp. Michael Bransfield, former head of the diocese of Wheeling-Charleston.

In a July 19 communiqué, Wheeling-Charleston announced that based on the investigation's findings, Pope Francis has decreed that Bp. Emeritus Bransfield is prohibited from residing in the diocese; is banned from presiding or participating in any public celebration of the Liturgy; and is obliged to "make personal amends for some of the harm he caused," with "the nature and extent of the amends to be decided in consultation with the future Bishop of Wheeling-Charleston."

Jeffrey Epstein denied bail, must remain behind bars until sex trafficking trial

NEW YORK (NY)
NBC News

July 18, 2019

By Jonathan Dienst, Adam Reiss and David K. Li

A federal judge in New York sided with prosecutors who argued that the financier poses a flight risk.

A New York federal judge on Thursday ordered Jeffrey Epstein held without bail, siding with prosecutors who argued the wealthy financier and accused sex trafficker posed a flight risk.

U.S. District Judge Richard M. Berman said prosecutors showed “clear and convincing evidence” that Epstein was a flight risk.

"The government application for continued remand is hereby granted,” Berman said just minutes after the pretrial proceeding began.

The defense had proposed a $77 million bail package, with Epstein's private jet and Manhattan mansion as collateral.

“I doubt any bail package can overcome" any danger to the community, Berman said.

2 Barrigada men's lawsuits added to Guam's more than 230 clergy sex abuse claims

GUAM
Pacific Daily News

July 23, 2019

By Haidee Eugenio Gilbert

Two Barrigada men's separate lawsuits alleging Father Louis Brouillard's abused them in the late 1970s have been added to Guam's clergy sex abuse claims, now at more than 230.

The plaintiffs are identified in federal court documents only by the initials I.V. and V.M. to protect their privacy. They are represented by attorney Michael Berman.

I.V., in his $5 million lawsuit, said Brouillard told him "not to worry" about the sexual abuses" because he was now a good boy and God will forgive all of his past sins and God will make sure he lived a good life."

The lawsuits say the priest sexually abused I.V. and V.M. on church grounds and during Boy Scouts of America outings.

I.V. was attending the Barrigada parish from around 1978 to 1980 when he was about 9 to 11 years old. The abuses also happened after I.V. helped clean the church with a broom and a mop, the lawsuit says.

LIVE: New lawsuit against Harrisburg Diocese

HARRISBURG (PA)
WGAL News 8

July 23, 2019

In a lawsuit being announced today, two now-deceased priests at St. Joseph’s Roman Catholic Church, north of Selinsgrove, are accused of raping an altar boy.

You can watch the plaintiff's news conference about the lawsuit above.

The suit names the Harrisburg Diocese former Bishop Kevin Rhoades and current Bishop Ronald Gainer.

The suit will challenge Pennsylvania’s Statute of Limitations for sex crimes.

Catholic Clergy sex abuse lawsuit loophole announcement

HARRISBURG (PA)
ABC 27

July 23, 2019

By Christine McLarty

The first of its kind lawsuit is being announced at the PA State Capitol Tuesday morning. We’re expecting the announcement of a lawsuit on behalf of a Catholic Clergy child sexual abuse survivor.

At 10:30 Tuesday morning a man who said he’s a survivor of child sex abuse from 2 priests is speaking out. The Plaintiff lives in Missouri but is back to present his case. As a child he lived in Milton, PA an hour north of Harrisburg. While serving as an altar boy he says he was repeatedly raped by 2 Harrisburg Diocese Priests at St. Joseph’s Roman Catholic Church.

Up to this point, the statute of limitations prohibited many child sex abuse survivors from filing. But according to a new ruling, there’s a lawsuit loophole. On June 11th, the Pennsylvania Superior Court paved the way for child sexual abuse survivors to file lawsuits under certain conditions.

In that case Renee Rice vs. The Altoona-Johnstown Catholic Diocese, Rice sued over the cover-up of abuse, not the actual abuse. Local lawyers said this lawsuit loophole offers a glimpse of hope for others victims. “For those people who really want to get into discovery with the Diocese, ” said Sexual Abuse Attorney Nathaniel Foote, “Find out what documents the Diocese has on their abuser, or other abusers, this provides an avenue for that for them.”

July 22, 2019

Sex abuse survivors' advocacy group wants two bishops blocked from ministry

KANSAS CITY (MO)
National Catholic Reporter

July 24, 2019

By Brian Roewe

Advocates for survivors of clergy sexual abuse have urged the local bishop to bar from church functions two prelates with ties to Kansas City, Missouri, who've been central figures in the Catholic Church's clergy sexual abuse scandal.

The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP) sent a letter July 5 to Kansas City-St. Joseph Bishop James Johnston requesting he use a new protocol created by U.S. bishops to block resigned Bishop Robert Finn and retired Bishop Joseph Hart from ministry and all church meetings and activities.

In a separate letter addressed to Pope Francis, SNAP urged he forgo a planned trial and immediately laicize Hart, 87, who from 1978 to 2001 led the Diocese of Cheyenne, Wyoming. Last year, the diocese found credible accusations he sexually abused three male minors. Additional abuse claims date back to Hart's time as a priest in Kansas City (1956-1976). Hart has repeatedly denied the allegations.

In 2012 Finn, 66, was found guilty of a misdemeanor for failing to report suspected child abuse. He served a two-year suspended sentence, in addition to meeting monthly for five years with a county prosecutor to avoid another charge. Finn resigned in April 2015 following a Vatican investigation of the diocese.

At their June assembly, the U.S. bishops approved the "Protocol Regarding Available Non-Penal Restrictions on Bishops." That new policy permits a diocesan bishop to take measures against a bishop emeritus whose "resignation or removal was due to the sexual abuse of a minor, sexual misconduct with an adult or grave negligence of office" regarding the sexual abuse of minors.

Among available restrictions are barring a retired bishop from public ministry — including preaching and celebrating sacraments, which can extend to hearing confessions — and limiting his benefits, such as for travel. The protocol stipulates public notice of any restrictions, as well as informing the Vatican. It can be implemented by a bishop emeritus' successor, the bishop of the diocese where he resides or seeks to minister, or the episcopal conference.

The protocol was in part sparked by outrage a year ago to reports of credible accusations against now-former cardinal Theodore McCarrick, and whether fellow bishops knew of the allegations or any restrictions imposed on him. Before he was laicized, several bishops at their November meeting voiced that the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops should censure and disinvite McCarrick from conference proceedings.

Observer, other media seek to unseal records from lawsuits against Catholic diocese

CHARLOTTE (NC)
Charlotte Observer

July 22, 2019

By Bruce Henderson

News outlets including The Charlotte Observer have filed joint court motions that seek to unseal documents in two lawsuits that claimed sexual abuse by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Charlotte.

Both lawsuits were resolved in favor of the 46-county diocese. The media group argues that documents the diocese had asked to be sealed, as part of motions for summary judgment in the cases, are of significant public interest.

Television stations WBTV, WCNC and WSOC are also part of the group.

Retired judge will investigate sexual abuse allegations against late bishop

BERKSHIRE (MA)
Berkshire Eagle

July 22, 2019

By Larry Parnass

A retired judge will review a Chicopee man's allegation that former Bishop Christopher J. Weldon subjected him to sexual abuse in the 1960s.

The Springfield diocese announced Monday that Peter A. Velis, a retired Superior Court judge, will begin work immediately to investigate reports from a former altar boy that Weldon not only assaulted him, but facilitated his abuse and that of other children by other local clergy.

Mark Dupont, spokesman for the diocese, said the decision to seek outside help in assessing the allegations against Weldon stemmed in part from disagreement internally about the Chicopee man's credibility.

"Given the recent public disagreement between this victim and the Diocesan Review Board about the description of the allegations and findings of the board, Bishop Rozanski felt that, in this situation, turning this matter over to an independent and outside party was both warranted and the most prudent course of action," Dupont said in a statement.

Dupont said the Most Rev. Mitchell T. Rozanski made the call to seek help from Velis.

Putting Church above Children

NEW YORK(NY)
Commonweal

July 22, 2019

By Paul Moses

One way Pope Francis could move ahead with his aim of curbing clergy sex abuse in the worldwide Catholic Church would be to insist that the Holy See comply with the international human-rights treaty it signed to protect the rights of the child. Since nearly every country in the world (other than the United States) has signed the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, the 1989 treaty sets a clear international standard for Catholic bishops everywhere.

The treaty requires this: “In all actions concerning children, whether undertaken by public or private social welfare institutions, courts of law, administrative authorities or legislative bodies, the best interests of the child shall be a primary consideration.” Responding to complaints from survivors of sex abuse in the United States, Mexico, Australia, and Western Europe, the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child determined that the Holy See had violated that standard. “The Committee is particularly concerned that in dealing with allegations of child sexual abuse, the Holy See has consistently placed the preservation of the reputation of the Church and the protection of the perpetrators above the child’s best interests, as observed by several national commissions of inquiry,” it said in a 2014 report.

Five years later, the passage of time shows how deeply flawed the Vatican’s response was. The Vatican asserted that it had “carefully delineated policies and procedures designed to help eliminate such abuses and to collaborate with respective State authorities to fight against this crime.” It’s clear those policies were porous and follow-through was sluggish. Today, Vatican officials are still looking for the elusive “turning point.” Hopes are now pinned on February’s Vatican summit with the presidents of bishops’ conferences, and on subsequent measures Pope Francis has announced.

In the meantime, the Papal Commission for the Protection of Minors made the Convention on the Rights of the Child the foundation of guidelines that, in 2016, it sought for adoption by bishops’ conferences and religious orders around the world. But Marie Collins, a former member of the papal commission, said in an email interview that Vatican authorities would not permit the guidelines to be sent directly to the bishops’ conferences. “The Commission was told [the guidelines] could be put on the website and recommended as a resource,” she said, adding that this fell short of what the commission intended: that bishops be required to use the guidelines as a template for their procedures to protect children from sexual abuse.

Former altar boy was abused by a Knoxville priest and ex-bishop, lawsuit alleges

KNOXVILLE (TN)
Knoxville Sentinel

July 22, 2019

By Amy McRary

An East Tennessee man alleges he was sexually abused as a child by a longtime Catholic priest, the first bishop of the Knoxville diocese and others.

Attorneys for Blount County resident Michael Boyd are suing the Diocese of Knoxville in a Knox County Circuit Court lawsuit filed July 18.

While the Diocese is the only named defendant, the 20-page lawsuit claims the former altar boy was repeatedly abused in the 1990s by longtime Knoxville priest Xavier Mankel and at least twice by Bishop Anthony O'Connell.

The suit also alleged Mankel allowed visiting priests to have "inappropriate sexual conduct" with the child in a church sacristy.

O'Connell, who died in 2012, is the best-known figure named in the suit. He became the first bishop of the Knoxville diocese when it was formed in 1988. Ten years later, he became bishop of Palm Beach, Florida. He resigned in 2002 after admitting inappropriate conduct with minors in Missouri decades earlier and before he was in Knoxville.

The suit alleged that Mankel, a priest for 56 years, was Boyd's main predator. Naming Mankel as an abuser is likely to shock many Knoxville Catholics. He hasn't been named on lists of priests accused by abuse that have been released by Catholic authorities or survivor support groups.

Mankel, who died in 2017 at age 81, was a Knoxville native and a Catholic institution for decades. His positions included being pastor of Sacred Heart Cathedral from 1987-1997.

He helped found the Knoxville diocese, serving as its first chancellor and vicar general. He was later given the title of monsignor.

Willow Creek Elders Release Statement Supporting the “Women”

Julie Roys blog

July 21, 2019

The elders at suburban Chicago Willow Creek Community Church today released a “last statement” about the scandal involving church founder Bill Hybels, charging Hybels with “unchecked sin and intimidating behavior,” and addressing “specific harms” against Hybels’ accusers and their advocates.

In their statement, the elders said they had met with the women accusing Hybels of wrongdoing and their advocates over the past six months. And as a result, they had learned of how the church’s response had led to verbal and written attacks on the women. They said they also learned that a “narrative persists in identifying (the women) as liars and colluders,” despite apologies by the lead pastors and former Elders.

The elders stated that they “unequivocally support” the findings of an independent council, which concluded that the women’s claims of “sexually inappropriate” conduct by Hybels are credible. They added, “We ask anyone who participated in verbal and written attacks to prayerfully examine their actions, apologize for wrongdoing, and seek to mend the relationship.”

Similarly, the elders urged Hybels to “reflect on his years in ministry, repent where necessary,” and seek “reconciliation.” They said they had reached out to Hybels, but he had “chosen not to engage in dialogue at this time.”

In response, Vonda Dyer, one of the women who accused Hybels of sexual misconduct, today also released a statement, expressing gratitude “that the elders believe all of the women’s allegations.” She also praised the elders’ “posture of godly response to the magnitude and depth of Bill Hybels’ destructive behaviors toward me and toward other women spanning four decades.”

Church sex abuse victim says Archbishop of Canterbury has never apologised

HUDDERSFIELD (ENGLAND)
Examiner

July 22, 2019

By Nick Lavigueur

A former vicar who was sexually abused by a Bradford priest as a boy has said the church has never said sorry - despite the Archbishop of Canterbury claiming it has.

Matthew Ineson from Staincliffe, Dewsbury, has waived his right to anonymity to try and expose sexual abuse within the Anglican church.

Mr Ineson was raped by Bradford priest Trevor Devamanikkam in 1984 but he never saw justice after the accused killed himself rather than facing trial in 2017.

Last week Mr Ineson strongly criticised the archbishops of Canterbury and York while giving evidence at the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse in the Anglican Church.

Bishop speech cancellation a loss

TOLEDO (OH)
Toledo Blade

July 21, 2019

By Anne Marie Abowd

Bishop Thomas Gumbleton has spoken in Toledo many times, at various venues in the past. Most notably during the U.S. attack on Iraq when he appealed for an end to the catastrophe responsible for the deaths of 1.5 million civilians and 5,000 Americans. It has been a war that has created turmoil that lingers in Iraq to this day and has inflamed ongoing chaos throughout the Middle East ever since.

I accompanied Bishop Gumbleton to Central Catholic High School School, where he spoke to students about immorality of that war.

Bishop Gumbleton has spoken several times at Corpus Christi University Parish pleading for an end to sanctions that were starving thousands of Iraqi children, many of whom he had witnessed on several trips to war-torn Iraq.

He has consistently advocated for social justice; for inclusiveness in the church, and for the protection of children, as Jesus preached.

For years he made regular trips to Haiti to help bring medical aid to the poor. In Detroit’s inner city, he instituted a free medical and dental clinic for the destitute. At St. Leo’s, his Detroit parish, he turned the rectory into classrooms where addicted mothers could be counseled with a day care for their children.

Ironically, he was black-listed by the Church as a punishment for his heroic opposition to the Statute of Limitations for pedophile priests.

Sikh priest guilty of sexually abusing children

SYDNEY (AUSTRALIA)
Special Broadcast Service

July 22, 2019

By Avneet Arora

A 32-year-old Sikh priest was found guilty of six charges of sexual conduct with a child at an Auckland District Court last week.

Sajan Singh lured two children aged eight and twelve into quiet rooms inside a west Auckland gurdwara in 2017 and inappropriately touched their bottoms on separate occasions, the court heard.

He pleaded not guilty to all the charges, last month.

Brazilian bishop accused of cover-up as police investigate new abuse allegations

SÃO PAULO (BRAZIL)
Crux

July 22, 2019

By Eduardo Campos Lima

Police in Brazil are investigating three Catholic priests accused of abusing several altar boys and seminarians. The former bishop of their diocese, who resigned in May, is also under investigation for having allegedly extorted money from them in exchange for his silence.

The lawyer of a group of victims said last week he intends to file lawsuits against the Catholic Church, seeking $530,000 in damages for each person.

The scandal in the Diocese of Limeira, in the State of São Paulo, was last week’s cover story in Revista Veja, a major weekly magazine, prompting the opening of new investigations. The Brazilian press has been covering the accusations against Father Pedro Leandro Ricardo, from the city of Americana, since January, when the police opened investigations against him for cases of sexual abuse and he was suspended from his parish.

In May, Bishop Vilson Dias de Oliveira of Limeira resigned after the police and press reports said the Vatican started investigating him for extortion, unjust enrichment and abuse cover-up. But Veja’s story, published on July 12, was the first to disclose details of Ricardo’s crimes and also revealed the alleged crimes of two other priests from the diocese of Limeira, Father Felipe Negro and Father Carlos Alberto da Rocha.

In the story, Ricardo was accused by six former altar boys and seminarians - all of them minors at the time of the alleged events - of having inappropriately touched them before or after Masses. The testimony includes graphic descriptions.

Pope Francis: Follow St John Bosco in the fight against abuse

LONDON (ENGLAND)
Catholic Herald

July 22, 2019

By Christopher Altieri

Comparing the fight against abuse with the war on drugs, the Pope said Don Bosco's 'preventive system' has much to teach us

Pope Francis has released a video message to participants in a training course designed to teach them how to prevent the abuse of minors.

Under the direction of the Center for Interdisciplinary Research and Formation for the Protection of Minors (CEPROME), Catholic leaders including those responsible for seminary formation, diocesan vicars-general, religious superiors, and mental health professionals are gathered for three weeks on the campus of the Pontifical University of Mexico in Mexico City to focus on abuse prevention.

Speaking without notes and apparently off the cuff, Pope Francis begins his message by greeting participants, and acknowledging the gravity of the issue. “The protection of minors is a serious problem,” he says. “It is a problem, the shame of which we all know, that it has brought to the Church, that our members have intervened, have acted in these crimes,” Pope Francis goes on to say.

Pope Francis proceeds to frame the issue in terms of scandal, “[T]hat no one should keep them from reaching Jesus.” Francis goes on to say, “Any person — male religious, female religious, lay, bishop — anyone who prevents a child from reaching Jesus, must be stopped in their attitudes, corrected if we are on time, or punished if there is a crime involved.”

“Religious Freedom” Laws Are Unraveling Civil Rights as We Know It

SACRAMENTO (CA)
Truthout

July 20, 2019

By Stephanie Guilloud

What if firemen decided not to hose down certain buildings or go to certain neighborhoods based on their personal beliefs? What if paramedics could legally choose not to give someone life support because they are trans or using drugs in a way that offends their moral code?

These scenarios are possible and protected under new bills that declare individual morality and personal convictions paramount to federal and state regulations, local governance decisions and basic human rights.

Legislation passed in Texas protects “religious liberty and moral convictions” of individuals and businesses. SB 1978, signed into law on June 10, prevents government entities from taking actions that could adversely affect individuals or businesses based on their commitment to a religious or moral conviction.

It has been dubbed the “Save Chick-fil-A bill” because the San Antonio City Council voted to block the restaurant from the city-owned airport in solidarity with members of the LGBTQ community because of the company’s anti-LGBTQ positions and its funding of anti-LGBTQ institutions. Under the new bill, Chick-fil-A could now get the Texas attorney general to file for damages, and the Federal Aviation Administration is already investigating Chick-fil-A’s exclusion at U.S. airports.

Celibacy advances the priesthood's culture of compromised truths

KANSAS CITY (MO)
National Catholic Reporter

July 22, 2019

By Fr. Peter Daly

In the 2015 movie "Spotlight," the voice of Richard Sipe (played by Richard Jenkins) says over the speaker phone, “If you really want to understand the crisis, you need to start with the celibacy requirement.” He continues, “That was my first major finding. Only 50% of the [Catholic] clergy are celibate. Now, most of them are having sex with other adults. But the fact remains that this creates a culture of secrecy that tolerates and even protects pedophiles.".

Sipe, the former priest and psychologist, who died in August 2018, devoted much of his life to the psychological treatment of priests. He wrote extensively on priestly celibacy. In 1990, he published A Secret World: Sexuality and the Search for Celibacy. He estimated then that at any given time only 50% of priests, monks and bishops are actually celibate. This contributes to a culture of mendacity (lying).

In a 2016 letter to San Diego Bishop Robert McElroy, Sipe wrote:

Sooner or later it will become broadly obvious that there is a systemic connection between the sexual activity by, among and between clerics in positions of authority and control, and the abuse of children. … When men in authority — cardinals, bishops, rectors, abbots, confessors, professors — are having or have had an unacknowledged-secret-active-sex life under the guise of celibacy, an atmosphere of tolerance of behaviors within the system is made operative.

In other words, priests and bishops are not going to expose others because they may be guilty themselves. The recent cases of former cardinal Theodore McCarrick and Bishop Michael Bransfield of West Virginia prove this point. How could they rise so high and allegedly endure so long in their double lives? Perhaps because people who knew were also compromised by sexual activity.

July 21, 2019

After 2,000 years of failure, clergy sex abuse now fixed?

SAN JOSE (CA)
Mercury News

July 21, 2019

By Larry Quilici

The July 12 article by Thomas G. Plante entitled “Effort to break sacred seal of confession misguided” (Opinion section) makes a strong case for the sacred seal of the confessional regarding confessions of child abuse.

The reality is that the Catholic Church has lost its credibility with the public on this issue.

The Church has not solved this problem in its 2,000-year history. Reference the authoritative book, “Sex, Priests, and Secret Codes: The Catholic Church’s 2,000 Year Paper Trail of Sexual Abuse” by Thomas P. Doyle and A.W. Richard Sipe.

The earliest mention of forbidden sexual behavior in the literature is from the Didache, a very early theological text which is usually dated around 70 A.D. Following 2,000 years of failure, are we to believe that the problem is now resolved for all time? How can we even believe that when our children go to confession the person on the other side of the screen is not a child abuser trolling for victims?

Georgia GOP Lawmaker Used Legal Loophole to Help Molesting Priest Avoid Prison

Patheos blog

July 21, 2019

By Hemant Mehta

In 2012, Ohio preacher Jason Brothers stayed at the home of a family in Georgia when he was giving a guest sermon at North Mt. Zion Church of God in Hiawassee. When the family’s 14-year-old girl got up for a drink of water that night, Brothers, who was in a wheelchair due to his cerebral palsy, asked her for a hug… then raped her.

The girl only told her parents what happened after they caught her trying to end her own life.

This week, Jason Brothers was sentenced for his crime. The punishment involves no prison time, going back home to Ohio, and remaining on probation for another four years. In other words, nothing of any consequence even though he admitted to two counts of felony sexual battery on a minor.

The reason for that has everything to do with his attorney: Republican House Speaker David Ralston.

According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Ralston took advantage of a legal loophole that allowed him to delay the trial as many times as he wanted as long as he said he was on state business.

Ralston did that at least eight times, dragging the case on for more than six years.

By the time a jury finally heard the victim’s story, she was a 21-year-old woman trying to recount a traumatic incident that happened several years earlier. Her memory wasn’t perfect. Same could be said of the other witnesses. The testimony would’ve been far more powerful if she was, say 15 or 16.

Do Victims Matter?

Patheos blog

July 21, 2019

By Guest Contributor

It is the apparently tenuous question so much of the debate with the sex abuse scandals surrounds - Do victims matter?

I was just informed by the host of a popular podcast for Catholic women that we in fact don’t; at least, we don’t when it’s uncomfortable and inconvenient for other Catholics. I have followed this podcast for at least a year and was a subscriber on its email list. Yesterday morning, an email in my inbox from the podcast described this week’s episode (concerning the Church’s teaching on birth control). I skimmed to the bottom to see if I recognized the interviewee’s name, since I have a few times in the past. What I found instead made my stomach clench.

My alma mater, Franciscan University of Steubenville, was this episode’s sponsor. When I pointed out (both in private message and publicly on the podcast’s Facebook page) that having a university with an abusive past (and present!) was hurtful to victims, the response was sickening.

Arlington Diocese Responds to story on the late Msgr. William Reinecke

ARLINGTON (VA)
Arlington Diocese

July 19, 2019

Following his death in 1992, reports of sexual abuse of minors by Msgr. William Reinecke in the late-1960s and early-1970s were first brought forward and were fully documented by national and local media. In some instances, it was alleged that abuse occurred during overnight trips that Msgr. Reinecke had taken with minors.

The abuse committed by Fr. Reinecke was a grave sin and horrendous crime. No person should ever be victimized, and the Church should be a place of peace and joy for all people, especially children. The Catholic Church—like all institutions that work with minors—operates very differently today than it did 50 years ago, and interactions between priests and minors are more controlled and limited than in the past. In particular, such overnight trips – apart from fully-chaperoned youth events – are explicitly prohibited.

Additionally, the Diocese has a comprehensive and thorough system of policies and protocols that aid in prevention of sexual abuse of minors and reports all allegations to legal authorities. Our protocols include background checks for all clergy, staff and volunteers, as well as a training program that helps people identify grooming activity and other concerning behaviors, whether in a church setting or elsewhere.

In September 2018, the Diocese of Arlington hired two former FBI special agents to examine all clergy files and information going back to the founding of the Diocese in 1974. They performed this thorough review to assist the Diocese in its publication of a list of priests who have been credibly accused of sexual abuse of a minor. That list was published on February 13, 2019, and can be found at ArlingtonDiocese.org/ClergyAbuseList. The purpose of releasing the names of those credibly accused of sexual abuse of a minor was to assist victims and survivors in their healing.

Norfolk Catholic priest suspended for misconduct with minors

RICHMOND (VA)
Richmond Times-Dispatch

July 15, 2019

By Bridget Balch

The head of the Catholic Diocese of Richmond, Bishop Barry Knestout, on Friday suspended a Norfolk priest who was previously placed on a leave of absence due to violating the diocese’s code of conduct with minors, the diocese announced Saturday.

The priest, Joseph Metzger III, had been placed on temporary leave from his assignment as pastor of Blessed Sacrament parish in Norfolk in December due to previous violations of the code of conduct with minors. The Diocese of Richmond said the misconduct was not related to an accusation of sexual abuse.

On July 1, Metzger was given an assignment working in the diocese’s administrative offices and celebrating Mass at elderly housing facilities and communities for religious women in the Richmond area.

Four days later, on July 5, the diocese received an additional complaint against Metzger regarding a recent violation of the code of conduct with minors, according to a news release.

Outgoing bishop will remember coworkers, people he served

RAPID CITY (SD)
Rapid City Journal

July 21, 2019

By Arielle Zionts

Bishop Robert Gruss sat in his office Thursday afternoon, focusing on his computer and surrounded by stacks of books, a few decorations and packed boxes.

The 64-year-old bishop was still hard at work responding to emails and hosting back-to-back meetings before leaving Saturday after eight years with the Rapid City Diocese, which oversees churches and Catholic life across western South Dakota.

Departing Rapid City to serve as the bishop of the Diocese of Saginaw in Michigan is a "bittersweet" moment, Gruss said.

"Leaving a place that you come to know and love, it's hard leaving," he said. "I've made a lot of great friendships and good relationships. I love the people here. I love the land. I've really enjoyed being with and working with the Native American population.

"There's kind of a holy sorrow to it in the sense that it's what the lord has called me to, and I desire to do the will of God. And I really do feel that I've been called there, missioned there, to serve the people of Saginaw. So there's deep gratitude in my heart for these eight years that the lord has given me here and there's anticipation, I think there's some excitement for me moving to the Diocese of Saginaw and ministering to the people there."

Gruss was born in Arkansas and grew up in Texas, Oklahoma, Missouri and Wisconsin, according to his biography on the diocese website. He worked as a pilot and flight instructor for nine years before he began studying religion and preparing for the priesthood. He was ordained in 1994 and served various roles in the United States and Vatican City before becoming Bishop of Rapid City in 2011.

West Virginia attorney general slams diocese for ‘covering up’ issues of sexual abuse

NEW YORK (NY)
Daily News

July 20, 2019

By Jami Ganz

The West Virginia attorney general is adamant that the Catholic church stop “covering up” allegations of sexual harassment brought against a former bishop.

Patrick Morrisey ordered the church Friday to “come clean” with information it has regarding sexual harassment allegations against former bishop Michael Bransfield of the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston, USA Today reports.

The declaration followed Pope Francis’ decision earlier that day to ban Bransfield from both the public ministry and living in a West Virginia diocese. The pope said Bransfield “has the obligation to make personal amends for some of the arm he caused."

On Facebook, Morrisey said this was “only one step” in the right direction and went on to slam the diocese for “decades of covering up and concealing the behavior of priests as it relates to sexual abuse.”

“It is time for the Diocese to come clean with what it knows and release the Bransfield report and any other relevant materials,” he wrote. “The public shouldn’t have to wait any longer for transparency.”

In March, Morrisey filed a suit against both Bransfield and the diocese claiming it knew it was employing pedophiles and did not conduct proper background checks for employees working at schools and camps. In an amendment, he also alleged the diocese knew of child sex abuse by a teacher in 2006 and decided against publicly disclosing it.

Diocese of Saginaw releases names of priests accused of abuse

SAGINAW (MI)
WNEM TV

July 21, 2019

By Austen Burks

The Diocese of Saginaw has named multiple priests from two religious communities who were credibly accused of abuse of a minor.

The Capuchin Order provided names of the following clergy who were involved in ministry in the Diocese of Saginaw. The Capuchins noted that the allegations against the following clergy did not arise in the Diocese of Saginaw. One additional name, John S. Rabideau, OMV (Oblates of the Virgin Mary) was also added to the diocesan website. Rabideau was never assigned to ministry in the Diocese of Saginaw.

Benedict Adams, OFM Cap, deceased
Baldwin Beyer, OFM Cap, deceased
Art Cooney, OFM Cap
James LaRéau, OFM Cap, deceased
John Steven Rabideau, OMV (Oblates of the Virgin Mary)
Austin Schlaefer, OFM Cap, deceased
Ken Stewart, OFM Cap
Elmer Stoffel, OFM Cap, deceased

Validity of Catholic Church and Colorado Sex Abuse Report Doubtful

DENVER (CO)
Westword

July 21, 2019

By Terry Kelly

For thirty years, the Catholic Church has been rocked by a steady roar of sexual abuse revelations. Some of its priests have been serially sexually abusing its children. Many of its bishops have been “covering up” these crimes. The massiveness of these crimes — they occurred in significant numbers in every corner of the Catholic world — has dulled our senses to the personal pain of each story. (To get over the numbness, watch the recent Polish documentary, Tell No One.) This is a universal story that continues in many forms. A few weeks ago, Colorado announced a new chapter.

Colorado’s Roman Catholic bishops, the Colorado Attorney General and a former Colorado U.S. Attorney recently informed us that they were going to cooperate in the preparation of a report concerning the sexual abuse of children by Colorado diocesan Catholic priests. This joint report promises to disclose the results of a review by former U.S Attorney Robert Troyer of records of alleged abuse of minors by clergy in the Roman Catholic Church in Colorado since 1950.

The “independent review” apparently will be made of file records maintained by the three dioceses. The report will identify “substantiated allegations of abuse [of minors]” set out in these church records, and also review “the Dioceses’ current policies and procedures for preventing abuse and responding to allegations of abuse."

As publicly announced by Denver Archbishop Samuel J. Aquila, the review and report will be performed by Troyer. This is based upon an agreement between the three Colorado Catholic diocesan bishops (Aquila, Sheridan, Berg), Attorney General Phil Weiser, and Troyer. Troyer’s $300,000 “Special Master” services are being paid for by the three Catholic dioceses ($150,000) and anonymous donors solicited by former attorney general Cynthia Coffman ($150,000). These are “donors” who refuse to be identified.

When you look at all the facts, it is doubtful that the bishops, the attorney general and Mr. Troyer can produce a valid report.

First, the Catholic bishops and the Colorado attorney general have fundamental differences regarding the report’s purpose. Within the past few months, ex-Pope Benedict XVI published an article addressing the sex abuse “crisis” in the Catholic Church. Benedict’s supporters, including Archbishop Aquila, gave the article wide and enthusiastic distribution. Benedict sees the evil, the “bedrock” sin of the sexual abuse of children by clergy, as a sacrilege, a “befouling” of the perpetrator priests’ vows — a sin against the Catholic faith. Benedict’s personal theology, and that of his followers, primarily experience these horrors in the self-referential analysis of how the misconduct injures their Church.

July 20, 2019

Vatican Bans West Virginia Bishop From Ministry Over Sexual, Financial Charges

ROME (ITALY)
Daily Beast

July 20, 2019

By Barbie Latza Nadeau

The Vatican banned West Virginia bishop Michael J. Bransfield from public ministry over credible accusations of sexual and financial misconduct, but stopped short of defrocking him. The measure was outlined in a letter authorized by Pope Francis to the diocese of Wheeling-Charleston, which states that the disgraced prelate now has “the obligation to make personal amends for some of the harm he caused.”

Bransfield resigned in September after an underling exposed years of sexual and financial misconduct, including how the bishop bought influence by giving cash gifts to senior Catholic officials to keep his crimes quiet. The Washington Post reported that Bransfield spent more than $2.4 million on luxury hotels and private jets and racked up bills of $182,000 on fresh flowers. The bishop also employed a personal chef, chauffeur and carried out more than $1 million in renovations to his private residence. He is also accused of giving more than $350,000 in cash gifts to young seminarians and priests he allegedly sexually harassed.

Norbertine Release of Credibly Accused Priest Sex Offenders Raises More Questions than Answers

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

July 19, 2019

The release from the Norbertines includes the names of 22 priests that church officials, including the current Abbot and several former Abbots of the religious order, knew had sexually assaulted children in the Green Bay diocese.

By Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests - Jul 19th, 2019 05:59 pm
Today, the Norbertine Religious Order have finally released a list of priests publicly accused of abuse. We believe that this release – and others by other church officials in Wisconsin – should be reviewed and investigated by the state attorney general.

The release from the Norbertines includes the names of 22 priests that church officials, including the current Abbot and several former Abbots of the religious order, knew had sexually assaulted children in the Green Bay diocese. This long-overdue move comes as twenty state attorney generals around the United States have opened investigations into the abuse of children and subsequent cover-up by church officials since last summer’s release of the explosive Grand Jury Report in Pennsylvania.

Other states that have issued preliminary findings of their investigations show the same pattern of abuse and cover up that was dramatically demonstrated in Pennsylvania. Specifically, where church officials have claimed to release full lists of credibly accused clerics those lists have been found to dramatically under-count the actual number of accused clerics and yet another attempt to mislead the public and law enforcement. In Illinois, for example the Attorney General recently found that over 500 credibly accused priests were not reported, fully two-thirds of all accused clerics.

Reader's View: Clerics should undergo universal testing

MIDLAND (TX)
Midland Daily News

July 20, 2019

By Richard Luczak

To the editor:
My Catholic Church is in a deep crisis over sexual abuse. To stabilize the Church and help to restore confidence and to protect adults and children, I propose the following: All deacons, priests and bishops should be required to submit to a psychological exam (MPPI or better), polygraph testing, drug testing and periodic police background checks in order to stay in active ministry.

The basis for this is last year's police sting that caught 72-year-old the Rev. Robert DeLand, Diocese of Saginaw, in an illegal sexual assault, which has landed him in prison. As I recall, DeLand was in parish ministry and youth counseling at a local high school, and he was on the diocesan marriage tribunal. There you go -- neither age nor stature nor years of service nor popularity, etc., is any barrier to a sexual predator. Hence, I urge the message get out to start demanding this universal testing of church clerics.

RICHARD LUCZAK
Bay City

BISHOPS EMBRACING SLOTH–MISTAKES OF THE BISHOPS PART THREE

Patheos blog

July 19, 2019

By Msgr. Eric Barr

Becoming CEOs of the institution and ceding the Church to lawyers rather than to the Gospel was mistake number one. Severing the sacramental connection between priest and bishop was mistake number two. However, the most egregious mistake the bishops have made throughout the entire clergy sexual abuse crisis is the third. The bishops committed the capital sin of sloth. We think of sloth as laziness, but it is not. It is self-pity, a sorrow for oneself that embraces a guilt leading to apathy. The bishops chose to become powerless to fight against the evil of sexual abuse and the abuse of episcopal authority. Out of despair or indifference, they left the battlefield to lawyers, the press, and an outraged laity.

The McCarrick Affair Revealed The Powerlessness Of The Episcopacy
The McCarrick affair and the way the institutional Church handled it shows this clearly. Outsiders still marvel at how such a person as the former cardinal could live such an evil lifestyle in plain sight of his fellow churchmen. All bishops were at least aware of his predilection for seminarians. As the Vicar for Clergy for a midwestern diocese, I knew of the rumors since 2005.
I remember a Bill O’Reilly show on Fox News where the erstwhile commentator threatened to go public with a horrendous accusation against a highly placed Catholic official the next night. Surprisingly, he never revealed that name, but at the time, I knew that if I had to guess, it would be McCarrick. Rumors are not facts, but there were priests, like Fr. Boniface Ramsey who tried many times to inform the Vatican what he knew as fact: that the cardinal was a serial predator. But the Vatican took no notice. Nor did other bishops. All bishops were aware of the rumors, but there were many who knew the facts and did nothing. The explanation goes that the Church simply did not have the structures present for bishops to discipline each other. Everything rested on the pope’s intervention and three popes appear to have been kept in the dark of the actual facts though they too had heard the rumors.

What Has Changed at Catholic Seminaries?

DENVER (CO)
National Catholic Register

July 20, 2019

By Msgr. Andrew Baker and Father Carter Griffin

Many Catholics, understandably, have grown skeptical of seminary formation. After all, it is priests and bishops who have caused the scandal of clergy sexual abuse, and every one of them is a product of seminaries.

Sometimes it is presumed that little has changed in seminaries since the time, decades ago, when the vast majority of those abusive priests were formed. Professor Janet Smith recently published a commentary that rightly asks whether seminary reforms are authentic and lasting or simply “window dressing.”

As the rectors of two seminaries forming men for the priesthood today, we would like to offer our own perspective in order to throw some light on the present situation — because, in fact, a great deal has changed.

Sex-abuse trial adjourned as priest critically ill

WINNIPEG (CANADA)
Winnipeg Free Press

July 19, 2019

A fall trial for disgraced former priest Ronald Leger has been adjourned after it was disclosed he is in failing health and in palliative care.

"At this stage he is only periodically conscious and is in the latter stages of palliative care," Leger's lawyer, Saul Simmonds, told court Friday.

In February 2016, Leger, now 81, was sentenced to two years in jail after he pleaded guilty to sexually assaulting three boys in the 1980s and early 2000s.

Leger was rearrested in October 2016 after several men came forward and accused Leger of sexually assaulting them when they were youths.

In 1980, Leger founded Teen Stop Jeunesse, a teen drop-in centre, also known as Ron's Drop-In. He became a priest of the Holy Family Parish on Archibald Street in 1995.

Pope Won’t Defrock Bishop Accused of Sexual Harassment and Misusing Money

Patheos blog

July 20, 2019

By David Gee

The former leader of West Virginia’s Catholic diocese spent millions of dollars on personal travel and $350,000 on gifts for young priests — including some he’s accused of sexually harassing — yet Pope Francis has decided not to defrock the bishop.

The pope said he wouldn’t revoke Bishop Michael J. Bransfield’s status with the Roman Catholic Church, but did issue sanctions, which were announced following the investigation into accusations of sexual harassment and financial misconduct:

The sanctions, ordered by Pope Francis and detailed in a letter posted to the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston’s website, prohibits Bransfield from public ministry and from residing in his former West Virginia Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston. Bransfield also has “the obligation to make personal amends for some of the harm he caused,” the nature of which will be decided by the new bishop.

Bransfield stepped down in September when an aide came forward with an inside account detailing years of sexual and financial misconduct, including a claim that Bransfield sought to “purchase influence” by gifting hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash to senior Catholic leaders. News of the allegations rocked parishioners in Wheeling-Charleston diocese, which Bransfield has led since 2005, and left other Catholics in the state feeling betrayed.

So, Bransfield is banned from public ministry, banned from living in a specific church house, and will be asked to make amends for the harm caused. In other words, it’s all about the optics.

West Virginia attorney general calls on diocese to 'come clean' on remarkable allegations against former bishop

WASHINGTON (DC)
USA TODAY

July 20, 2019

By Doug Stanglin

Despite new disciplinary action by Pope Francis, West Virginia's attorney general called on a Catholic diocese to "come clean" with what it knows about alleged allegations of sexual harassment and financial improprieties by a former bishop.

The pope on Friday banned former bishop Michael Bransfield from the public ministry or even living in the Wheeling-Charleston diocese based on the findings of a church investigation of “allegations of sexual harassment of adults and of financial improprieties."

The pope's declaration, which stopped short of defrocking Bransfield, was posted on the website of the diocese of Wheeling-Charleston. It also requires Bransfield, who resigned in December, to make amends "for some of the harm he caused."

That probe had earlier found Bransfield guilty of sexual harassment of adults and misuse of church funds, spending them on dining, liquor, gifts, personal travel and luxury items.

Iowa State Attorney General's office creates hotline for survivors of child sex abuse

MUSCATINE (IOWA)
Muscatine Journal

July 19, 2019

The Iowa State Attorney General's office has established a toll-free hotline for survivors of child sex abuse crimes, especially by clergy or spiritual leaders.

This is a step to ensure justice, prevent future abuse and provide the support victims deserve.

Anyone experiencing current or ongoing abuse should call local law enforcement immediately.

To report past sexual abuse, Iowans can call 855-620-7000 to speak with a trained advocate, or they can submit the online form at IowaAttorneyGeneral.gov/Report-Clergy-Sex-Abuse.

Victim reports sex offender's coaching role with Housatonic youth league

GREAT BARRINGTON (MA)
Berkshire Eagle

July 19, 2019

By Heather Bellow

Joseph Cahoon was on Facebook when his childhood rapist's profile showed up on his screen in the "People you may know" section.

Cahoon followed the link and found that Victor Holcomb, the man who went to jail for sexually assaulting him for several years beginning when he was younger than 10, was coaching youth basketball in Housatonic, even though he remains a registered Level 2 sex offender.

Holcomb resigned in February, after the volunteer-run Housatonic Basketball League, also known as Housy Hoops, broadened criminal records background checks to include assistant coaches. The league had, since 2017, required only head coaches in the house and travel leagues submit to the check.

But seeing Holcomb's photo online last year sent Cahoon, a 39-year-old electrical engineer and former Marine Corps sergeant, into an emotional tailspin that led him to call local authorities and alert them to Holcomb's past.

In a 1993 statement to police, Cahoon said Holcomb molested and raped him, starting when Cahoon was 7 and Holcomb was 15.

"I'm falling apart," he said by phone from Englewood, Colo., where he lives. "It's all because of that picture."

Cahoon's case comes at a time when victims of childhood sexual abuse are speaking out in greater numbers in the wake of ongoing revelations of widespread abuse in the Catholic Church, the Boy Scouts and other institutions.

Cahoon said he was emboldened to go public after reading about a woman's billboard campaign in Great Barrington regarding sexual assaults in the former Sheffield Center School. The billboards were paid for by the mother of a man who claims that he was sexually assaulted in the janitor's room about four decades ago.

Lake Charles Diocese knew of abuses years before listed dates; helped priests continue careers

LAKE CHARLES (LA)
Lake Charles Advocate

July 19, 2019

By Ben Myers

The Diocese of Lake Charles joined its six Louisiana counterparts three months ago in releasing a list of clergymen from its jurisdiction who have been “credibly accused” of sexually abusing minors. The lists were intended to answer nationwide public demands for accountability and transparency.

But although the Lake Charles list named predatory priests, it did so in a way that was less than transparent.

Church officials learned of the abuses of two priests, Gerard Smit and Mark Broussard, years before the dates shown on the new list, records show. The discrepancies conceal periods in which the bishop at that time, Jude Speyrer, and others were aware of allegations and helped abusers continue their pastoral careers.

Current Lake Charles church leaders say the “dates allegations received” entries reflect when victims put accusations in writing. That threshold was intended to ensure a consistent standard and not to deceive the public, church officials told The Advocate. But it also overlooks clear evidence that the bishop and others knew of abuses and failed to act.

Speyrer, for example, acknowledged in a 1986 letter that he had recently received a complaint that Smit "had been involved in some improper fondling of some small girls about twenty years ago” — in the mid-1960s, in other words — and that Smit did not deny it.

So Speyrer sent Smit to a Catholic-run psychological treatment center in Jemez Springs, New Mexico, and then referred Smit to the Diocese of Wilmington, Delaware, the next year “in good standing.”
Nonetheless, the diocese’s list says it first received allegations against Smit in 2002, making no mention of the allegations Speyrer received 16 years earlier.

In 1988, two years after Smit was treated in New Mexico, Broussard, the other of the two priests, was shipped to the same facility. That’s the year Broussard has said repeatedly that he admitted his abuses to diocesan officials.

However, the new diocesan list says church officials first received allegations against Broussard in 1994, six years after he was sent away for treatment. During that six-year span, Broussard worked as a Lake Charles hospital chaplain and as pastor at St. Eugene Church in Grand Chenier.

As a pope picks a spokesman, could history repeat itself?

DENVER (CO)
Crux

July 19, 2019

By John L. Allen Jr.

Rome - When the Vatican announced Thursday that Pope Francis had named a new spokesman, most early reaction suggested the move didn’t exactly inspire confidence about an upgrade in the role of the press office.

The pope tapped a 43-year-old Italian layman who’s worked in the press office for the last decade, and who’s known primarily for his organizational chops, his charm, and his command of languages (including a flawless British-accented English.) While those are all good qualities, it struck most observers as an option for a competent functionary rather than a genuine power broker.

Yet just to play devil’s advocate, I’d like to offer a brief refresher in the recent history of Vatican communications.

British-born Italian layman appointed new Vatican spokesperson

DENVER (CO)
Crux

July 18, 2019

By Inés San Martín

Buenos Aires - Pope Francis has appointed British-born Italian layman Matteo Bruni as the new director of the Holy See Press Office.

Interim spokesman Italian layman Alessandro Gisotti, the longtime Vatican Radio journalist who’d been on the job since the sudden resignation of American Greg Burke on Dec. 31, will continue to work for the Vatican’s Dicastery for Communication.

“On 21 July my responsibility as ‘interim’ Director of the Holy See Press Office will conclude,” Gisotti told reporters in a statement. “I am grateful to the Holy Father for the privilege he gave me in being his spokesman during such an intense period of his Pontificate, and for now offering me the opportunity to continue in his service as Deputy Editorial Director of the Vatican’s media.”

Polish abuse scandal: Victims take on the Catholic Church

LONDON (ENGLAND)
BBC

July 20, 2019

By Adam Easton

Warsaw - Marek Mielewczyk was a 13-year-old altar boy when a priest asked him to come to his presbytery.

"This is where I was abused for the first time," he says.

He is one of several victims, now adults, featured in a documentary about Polish priests who sexually abused children.

Tomasz and Marek Sekielski's film, Don't Tell Anyone, was watched 20 million times in the first week of its digital release – and prompted an unprecedented challenge to Poland's Roman Catholic Church.

More than 90% of Poles identity themselves as Catholics. For many, the Church and its rituals do not just provide spiritual comfort: they are part of a national identity.

That might explain why Poles have been slow to question the behaviour of some of their own priests, despite sex abuse scandals in the Catholic Church in Ireland, the USA and neighbouring Germany.

Monika, 28, did not appear in the film. But she told the BBC about years of abuse during supposed exorcisms by priests around Poland when she was a teenager.

Archbishop of Canterbury calls for mandatory reporting of sexual abuse

LONDON (ENGLAND)
The Guardian

July 11, 2019

By Harriet Sherwood

Justin Welby said he felt ‘shame and horror’ about way C o E handled child abuse cases

The archbishop of Canterbury has thrown his weight behind calls for the government to make the reporting of sexual abuse of children and vulnerable adults mandatory.

Justin Welby told the independent inquiry into child sexual abuse (IICSA): “I am convinced that we need to move to mandatory reporting for regulated activities.”

Regulated activities cover areas where professionals come into routine contact with children and vulnerable adults, such as teaching, healthcare and sporting activities. In a church context, this would cover clergy and youth leaders.

Survivors of clerical sexual abuse have argued that mandatory reporting of allegations or suspicions of abuse to statutory authorities is a vital component of effective child protection. They argue that a failure to comply should lead to criminal sanctions.

Vatican communication, what now?

DENVER (CO)
Catholic News Agency

July 19, 2019

By Andrea Gagliarducci

The first declarations that followed the new appointments in Vatican media departments showed a series of clues that might disclose how the Vatican communication will develop. Like everything in the Vatican, hints need to be interpreted and understood.

Right after the new appointments, Paolo Ruffini, prefect of the Dicastery for the Communication, stressed in a release that “the direction of the Holy See Press Office, to be completed with the deputy director, is now in its almost final composition.”

The fact that a deputy director was not appointed is food for thoughts. It seemed that everything was settled. The new appointments were supposed to be out on July 15, and deputy director was supposed to be Cristiane Murray, from the Portuguese section of Vatican News. This appointment never took place.

There are rumors, within the Holy See, that the Secretariat of State gave its “non-placet” to the appointment of Murray after further scrutiny on her life and career. Since the appointment did not take place, the Dicastery for Communication is still hunting the new deputy director.

Pope Francis gets it right on Curia reform and women

KANSAS CITY (MO)
National Catholic Reporter from Religion News Service

July 18, 2019

By Thomas Reese

In appointing seven women to the Vatican congregation that oversees religious orders July 9, Pope Francis achieved a double win. In one stroke, he has advanced both the role of women in the church and the reform of the Vatican Curia. This is significant because his efforts so far in these areas have been mediocre.

The Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life (CICLSAL), colloquially known as the Congregation for Religious, is responsible for setting policy for Catholic nuns, brothers and consecrated lay people. Acting like a board of directors, members are appointed by the pope for terms of five years to review major policy recommendations before they are approved by the pope.

Six of the women were elected superiors by their religious orders, indicating the respect they have in their communities. They are experienced and knowledgeable on the issues facing religious. The seventh is the president of a group of consecrated lay people.

Of all the Vatican offices, CICLSAL is the one that most directly impacts religious women. This is the office that instigated an infamous investigation of American nuns in 2008. It is crucial that the congregation have diversity in its membership. For example, with women religious at the table, it will be impossible to ignore the issue of sexual abuse of sisters by priests.

Vatican bans W.Va. bishop accused of sexual and financial misconduct from public ministry

WASHINGTON (DC)
Washington Post

July 19, 2019

By Michael Brice-Saddler

https://www.washingtonpost.com/religion/2019/07/19/vatican-bans-wva-bishop-accused-sexual-financial-misconduct-public-ministry/

The Vatican on Friday announced sanctions against retired West Virginia bishop Michael Bransfield, but stopped short of defrocking him, after investigating accusations of sexual harassment and financial misconduct.

The sanctions, ordered by Pope Francis and detailed in a letter posted to the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston’s website, prohibit Bransfield from public ministry and from residing in his former West Virginia diocese. Bransfield also has “the obligation to make personal amends for some of the harm he caused,” the nature of which will be decided by the new bishop.

Bransfield stepped down in September when an aide came forward with an inside account detailing years of alleged sexual and financial misconduct, including a claim that Bransfield sought to “purchase influence” by giving hundreds of thousands in cash gifts to senior Catholic leaders. News of the allegations rocked parishioners in Wheeling-Charleston diocese, which Bransfield has led since 2005, and left other Catholics in the state feeling betrayed.

The Friday statement, under the letterhead of the Apostolic Nunciature United States of America, said the sanctions were determined based on the findings of the investigation of “allegations of sexual harassment of adults and of financial improprieties by Bishop Bransfield.”

The Washington Post previously reported that senior Catholic leaders in the United States and the Vatican had received warnings about Bransfield as early as 2012. In letters and emails, parishioners claimed that Bransfield was abusing his power and misspending church money on luxuries such as a personal chef, a chauffeur, first-class travel abroad and more than $1 million in renovations to his residence.

Survivor asks Pope to back bill ending statute of limitations for abuse

DENVER (CO)
Crux

July 17, 2019

By Inés San Martín

Buenos Aires, Argentina - An abuse survivor in the pontiff’s native Argentina has called on Pope Francis to back a push in the country’s senate to eliminate a statute of limitations on sexual crimes against children in Argentine law.

The bill was introduced just days after Chile’s congress voted July 6 to remove the statute of limitations on child abuse from its own criminal code. An earlier effort in Argentina to lift the statute of limitations in 2011, known as the “Piazza law” for fashion designer Roberto Piazza who was sexually abused by an older brother, was subject to diverse legal interpretations and, observers say, has not been widely implemented.

Speaking with Crux, survivor Ricardo Benedetti, who says he was abused by a priest when he was 8 years old, and who is today the main force behind the new bill, said it’s important to have the support of his fellow Argentine, the pope.

A Hit Podcast Finds ‘True Crime’ in the Justice System

NEW YORK (NY)
New York Times

July 14, 2019

By Marc Tracy

St. Paul - On a fall day in 2015, Madeleine Baran and Samara Freemark went for a walk through the extensive skyway that threads through the buildings of downtown St. Paul.

They were new colleagues at APM Reports, a division at American Public Media where investigative reporters and radio producers had been “smushed together,” as its editor in chief, Chris Worthington, put it.

Strolling above the city, Ms. Baran and Ms. Freemark talked about ideas for their first project.

* * *

Ms. Baran, the no-nonsense reporter who hosts the show, resisted the podcast convention of introducing herself by name at the start of each episode. (Ms. Freemark had to talk her into it.) After considering a career in social services, she joined Minnesota Public Radio in 2009 as a part-time web writer. Within a year, she had a full-time job, and later was the lead reporter on “Betrayed by Silence,” a Peabody-winning audio documentary that exposed a cover-up of abusive priests by the Twin Cities’ archdiocese.

At the conclusion of the first season of “In the Dark,” Ms. Baran put out a call to listeners for Season 2 story ideas. Thousands of suggestions came via email and social media. One, sent by a woman in Mississippi, seemed especially promising: a simple message claiming that Mr. Flowers had been tried six times for the same crime. The woman added that she believed he might be innocent.

Letter about Diocesan Financial Problems

WHEELING (WV)
Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston

July 17, 2019

By Archbishop William E. Lori

On Monday, I met with members of the Diocesan Finance Council to continue our ongoing conversation about the financial health of the Diocese and ways to best address issues raised during the investigation into the allegations against Bishop Bransfield. I am most grateful to them for their generous service to the Diocese and for sharing their expertise and wisdom for the good of this local Church. Following that meeting I want to update you, the faithful of the Diocese, on the progress that is being made and to address important questions that have been raised over these past weeks and months.

A number of important decisions were taken by the Council, including the engagement of a new independent auditing firm, CLA (CliftonLarsonAllen LLP), which has been tasked with conducting the most recent fiscal year ends full audit. This audit is to be published on the diocesan website once it is completed and received. In addition, the Council continues to review best practices underway in other dioceses to determine what policies and procedures might be adopted in the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston that will advance our commitment to implementing robust and effective financial controls. Further details will be communicated as the Council continues its important work in a spirit of openness and with the goal of restoring your confidence and trust.

From my visits and communications with people from throughout the Diocese I clearly understand that the Church has a long way to go to regain your confidence and trust. Reports about the former bishop’s excessive spending and extravagant lifestyle and the credible allegations that he harassed young priests and seminarians have been a source of great pain and caused many to rightly ask: How could such behavior go unchecked for so long a time? Is there a process in place to check a bishop’s behavior when he takes advantage of his co-workers or when he misuses diocesan funds that should be dedicated to the Church’s mission?

Communique regarding Bishop Emeritus Michael J. Bransfield

WASHINGTON (DC)
Apostolic Nunciature

July 19, 2019

On September 13, 2018, the Holy Father, Pope Francis, accepted the resignation of Bishop Michael J. Bransfield from the Office of Bishop of the Diocese of WheelingCharleston. At the same time he nominated Archbishop William E. Lori, Metropolitan Archbishop of the Archdiocese of Baltimore, Apostolic Administrator of the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston with the authorization to conduct a preliminary investigation into allegations of sexual harassment of adults and of financial improprieties by Bishop Bransfield.

Based on the findings of the investigation, the Holy Father has decided the following
disciplinary measures for Bishop Emeritus Bransfield.

Former West Virginia bishop disciplined by pope

WHEELING (WV)
Associated Press

July 19, 2019

Pope Francis has issued disciplinary action against a former West Virginia bishop, the Roman Catholic Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston said Friday.

The diocese posted the pope’s decision on its website, saying former bishop Michael Bransfield can’t live within the diocese, can’t participate in any public celebration of the liturgy and must make amends “for some of the harm he caused.”

A church investigation found sexual misconduct accusations against Bransfield to be credible. It also found that Bransfield misused church funds, spending them on dining, liquor, gifts, personal travel and luxury items.

Diocese announces $5 million settlement with sexual abuse survivors

CROOKSTON (MN)
Our Northland Diocese

July 17, 2019

[See also the diocesan press release and the bishop's letter.]

The Diocese of Crookston has reached a $5 million settlement with victims/survivors of clergy sexual abuse, announced in a statement July 17. The settlement resolves 15 lawsuits for sexual abuse claims filed between April 2016 and May 2017 because of the Minnesota Child Victims Act. The legislation lifted the statute of limitations on abuse cases in Minnesota, opening a three-year window that allowed victims an opportunity to file civil claims.

“To all victims and survivors of sexual abuse by clergy, as the Bishop of Crookston I apologize for the harm done to you by those entrusted with your spiritual care. Although you can never be fully compensated for your suffering, we are thankful this litigation has now come to a good end and are hopeful this settlement offers you justice and will be helpful for healing,” Bishop Hoeppner said in a letter to Catholics of the diocese.

Two councils pay £3m to child sexual abuse victims

LONDON (ENGLAND)
BBC

July 19, 2019

A council has paid out nearly £3m to people sexually abused as children while in their care.

Nottinghamshire County Council said it had paid £2.96m to 161 people who made claims, while Nottingham City Council gave nearly £350,000 in compensation to 64 claimants.

Both authorities apologised for failings, which were the subject of an inquiry last year.

Victims and survivors have called for more support.

Crookston Diocese reaches $5 million settlement with abuse survivors

KANSAS CITY (MO)
National Catholic Reporter from Catholic News Service

July 18, 2019

By Janelle C. Gergen

Crookston MN - The Diocese of Crookston announced July 17 it has reached a $5 million settlement with victims/survivors of clergy sexual abuse.

The settlement resolves 15 lawsuits for sexual abuse claims filed between April 2016 and May 2017 because of the Minnesota Child Victims Act. The legislation lifted the statute of limitations on abuse cases in Minnesota, opening a three-year window that allowed victims an opportunity to file civil claims even on cases alleged to have happened decades ago.

"To all victims and survivors of sexual abuse by clergy, as the bishop of Crookston I apologize for the harm done to you by those entrusted with your spiritual care. Although you can never be fully compensated for your suffering, we are thankful this litigation has now come to a good end and are hopeful this settlement offers you justice and will be helpful for healing," Bishop Michael J. Hoeppner said in a letter to Catholics of the diocese.

St. Norbert Abbey Releases Names of Norbertines with Credible Allegations of Sexual Abuse of Minors

DE PERE (WI)
St. Norbert's Abbey

July 19, 2019

By Abbot Dane Radecki, O. Praem.

[This letter links to the list and supporting materials. Note that the list does not include the most notorious Norbertine abuser, Fr. Brendan Smyth, O.Praem., who abused during assignments in North Dakota in 1979-1982 and Connecticut in 1965-1968.

Dear Confreres & Friends of the Abbey,

Several dioceses and religious communities across the United States have made public lists of clergy with credible allegations of sexual abuse of minors. In the spirit of accountability, I have decided to release these names from St. Norbert Abbey. My hope is that the ‘release of names’ will assist in the healing process for victims and survivors. I profoundly apologize and ask forgiveness from those abused by the Norbertines of our Abbey.

Beginning in 2018, I turned over personnel files to Praesidium, Inc. for an independent review. Praesidium, Inc. is based in Arlington, Texas, with national and international clients. They specialize in abuse risk assessment and management for secular and religious organizations. Their professional team is comprised of psychologists, social workers, lawyers and human resource personnel.

The purpose of the file review was to identify any Norbertine with a credible allegation of sexual abuse of a minor. The reviewed files covered the years 1966 through 2018. Praesidium identified 19 Norbertines from St. Norbert Abbey. In addition, 3 other priests from different Norbertine foundations were identified. Their superiors have been notified.

St. Norbert Abbey identifies 22 priests accused of sexual abuse of children

GREEN BAY (WI)
WBAY

July 19, 2019

De Pere - The abbot of St. Norbert Abbey in De Pere says an independent review identified 22 Norbertines who had credible accusations of sexually abusing minors.

Rev. Dane Radecki says their superiors have been notified about the findings by Praesidium Inc., which reviewed personnel files from 1966 through 2018.

Nineteen of the priests were from St. Norbert Abbey. The other three were from other Norbertine organizations but were assigned to De Pere at some time.

The report says 17 of the priests are dead, three are restricted from ministry, and two left the abbey and the ministry.

St. Norbert Abbey releases list of 22 Norbertine priests known to have abused minors

GREEN BAY (WI)
Press Gazette

July 19, 2019

By Haley BeMiller

De Pere - St. Norbert Abbey has identified 22 Norbertine priests who sexually assaulted minors over six decades.

The abbey on Friday released the list of names after an investigation into abuse allegations conducted by an outside organization. Rt. Rev. Dane Radecki, abbot of St. Norbert, said in a letter that he chose to publish the findings "in the spirit of accountability."

"My hope is that the 'release of names' will assist in the healing process for victims and survivors," Radecki wrote. "I profoundly apologize and ask forgiveness from those abused by the Norbertines of our Abbey."

Norbertines, also known as Premonstratensians, are part of an independent order of Catholic clergy that differ from diocesan priests. They're based locally at an abbey in De Pere and serve Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church and Holy Cross, among other parishes. Their priests also work at four Catholic schools, including St. Norbert College.

July 19, 2019

Jesus Army sex scandal: The dark secrets of life in a commune

LONDON (ENGLAND)
BBC News

July 19, 2019

By Jon Ironmonger

Hundreds of former members of the Jesus Army are seeking damages for alleged abuse inside the religious sect.

Ex-members have told the BBC how children suffered sexual, physical and emotional abuse on a "prolific scale", with most claims relating to incidents in the 1980s and 1990s.

The Baptist sect is to close but is the subject of a renewed police inquiry.

The Jesus Army has apologised to anyone "who experienced harm in the past" and urged victims to contact police.

Ten people from the Jesus Fellowship Church - later known as the Jesus Army - have been convicted for various sex offences.

'Beaten with rods'
Launched in the manse of a small chapel in Northamptonshire in 1969, the Jesus Army grew quickly in wealth and number.

At its peak the JFC had more than 2,000 members, hundreds of whom lived together in close-knit communal houses throughout central England.

It offered homeless or vulnerable people and god-fearing families the promise of "new creation" through a devout, all-encompassing way of life.

Bishop Malone says Olean listening session was ‘most powerful’ yet

OLEAN (NY)
Olean Times Herald

July 19, 2019

By Tom Dinki

Buffalo Bishop Richard Malone called his listening session last month in Olean “the most powerful” one yet, according to meeting notes from a group of lay people working with the Catholic Diocese of Buffalo.

The embattled Malone spoke to and listened to local parishioners for two hours June 29 at Archbishop Walsh Academy as part of his listening sessions about the diocese’s clergy sexual abuse crisis.

While media was not permitted in the session, the Movement to Restore Trust, an initiative of lay people that is hosting the listening sessions, posted its own notes from the session on its website.

According to the notes, Malone, who has faced widespread calls for his resignation in light of his handling of allegations against clergy, apologized to a mother whose son was abused by a priest, said he could have done better but did not, and promised to continue to change the diocese’s leadership culture.

“Of the four listening sessions I have attended, all designed for me to listen to the parishioners, this is the most powerful,” Malone is quoted as saying.

Upholland school priest sex abuse accuser 'has fraud conviction'

LONDON (ENGLAND)
BBC News

July 19, 2019

A man who claimed a priest sexually abused him when he was a pupil at a boarding school has a conviction for fraud, a court has heard.

Michael Higginbottom has been accused of abusing the man while he was a pupil at the now-closed St Joseph's College in Upholland, Lancashire, in the 1970s.

Burnley Crown Court was told the man was "a person who is prepared to lie and to commit fraud to get money".

The 76-year-old, from Newcastle, denies serious sexual and indecent assault.

The jury was told the man had been found guilty of a fraud and had had an appeal against that conviction rejected, with a judge describing him as "not credible".

Asked about the case, the man said he "was not guilty of it then and I am not guilty of it now", adding that he "took a fall for a friend".

Jason Pitter QC, representing Mr Higginbottom, said the man had made up the abuse claims in the hope of getting compensation.

SNAP Challenges North Dakota Church Officials to do Outreach

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

July 19, 2019

The North-Dakota-based First Nations Women’s Alliance is supporting a woman who reports having been assaulted by a Fargo priest. We echo their view and call on North Dakota Catholic officials to do outreach to find others who may have seen, suspected, or suffered crimes by clergy within North Dakota.

We applaud Kateri Marion for suing the Fargo diocese over the abuse she says she suffered in 2016 at the hands of Fr. Michael Wight. We hope her courage will inspire others with information or suspicions about Fr. Wight to call police, prosecutors, therapists and other independent sources of support.

Fargo church officials gave Fr. Wight access to ND Catholics. Now, it is their duty to go beyond the bare minimum and to actively seek out others who may be suffering in shame, silence and self-blame because of his actions.

Victims to launch KC KS outreach drive

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

July 19, 2019

They start leafleting effort at & near churches
Group ‘outs’ 5 more ‘credibly accused clerics’
It’s upset because archbishop ‘refuses to act’
SNAP: ‘He should be helping KS Bureau of Investigation’
Instead, organization says, he’s ‘irresponsible & timid’
‘Archbishop: Teach your flock how to act,’ SNAP says

WHAT
After a sidewalk news conference, clergy sex abuse victims and their supporters will hand out fliers door-to-door announcing that
--they’re mounting an “aggressive, grassroots outreach campaign” in eastern Kansas to “find and help more victims, witnesses and whistleblowers” because the KC KS archbishop “won’t come clean and won’t reach out,” and
--they’ve found five more credibly accused abusive priests who worked in the archdiocese but have been left off the official archdiocesan ‘accused’ list and have attracted virtually no attention in the area (and their names will be on the fliers).

They will also
--beg victims, witnesses and whistleblowers with information or suspicions about accused priests to call law enforcement, especially the Kansas Bureau of Investigation, which is looking into clergy sex crimes and cover ups in the state, and
--prod the KC KS archbishop to post the names of ALL alleged predator priests, along with their photos, whereabouts and full work histories and teach his flock how to react with compassion and open-mindedness when their priests are accused of abuse.

Priest Prohibited from Fundraising in Diocese of Lansing

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

July 19, 2019

We are grateful that Lansing's bishop has "prohibited a priest from raising funds in his diocese.”
Bishop Earl Boyea has also notified the priest's direct supervisors in a Toledo-based religious order, the Oblates of St. Francis de Sales. (It’s headed by Father Ken McKenna, 419-724-9851, mckenna@oblates.us. The Lansing diocese is at 517-342-2440.)

Lansing church officials say they've gotten reports of concern about the "finances and activities" of Fr. William Auth and his nonprofit, Maya Indian Missions. "From time to time, Fr. Auth has lived within the diocese and has solicited on behalf of Maya Indian Missions within the diocese," the bishop writes, while also disclosing that he "has withdrawn (Fr.) Auth’s faculties to serve as a priest within the diocese. Additionally, the diocese has forwarded the concerns regarding Maya Indian Missions and Reverend Auth to the Michigan Department of Attorney General for further investigation."

Emotional response in Fargo from sexual assault victim

FARGO (ND)
Valley News Live

Jul 11, 2019

By Joshua Peguero

A woman is speaking publicly for the first time Thursday accusing a former North Dakota priest of sexual assault.

Kateri Marion, 33, was emotional inside the law offices of O’Keeffe, O’Brien, Lyson, and Foss describing what she says was a sexual assault in July of 2016 in Belcourt, N.D.

“It is time that we unite. It is time that we stand together and stand strong. Stop these priests from doing this, stop the church from hiding this,” Marion said.

In a lawsuit she filed against the Roman Catholic Diocese of Fargo, she accuses Father Michael Wight of violating the relationship they had developed.

Her suit details several allegations, including that when she complained to the St Ann’s Catholic Church in Belcourt of the assault she was blamed for it.

First Nations statement on Kateri Marion

DEVIL'S LAKE (ND)
First Nations Women's Alliance

July 19, 2019

First Nations Women’s Alliance (FNWA) stands with Kateri Marion in her efforts to hold perpetrators accountable and empower other victims and survivors of sexual abuse; in this case at the hand of a trusted clergy member.

Not every victim of clergy sexual abuse will be comfortable or safe coming forward publicly. Each survivor seeks healing in her/his own way. However, Kateri’s incredibly brave public actions compel each of us to work for justice by encouraging ND legislators to loosen the statute of limitations on bringing criminal charges and civil suits against sex offenders, and maintaining pressure on the Fargo Diocese and other church bodies to release information on “credibly accused clergy” in order to encourage the victims to seek healing and to protect future potential victims.

Violating any person’s physical body is a devastating crime. Exploiting someone’s trust and violating someone’s spirit by using one’s power as a spiritual leader is reprehensible. Kateri’s sexual abuse in the confessional was acknowledged by the Church, and the priest was removed.

This is not enough, however.

There has also been a level of victim blaming in this case and victim blaming is never acceptable.

FNWA encourages everyone to find ways to support survivors and hold perpetrators accountable, whoever they may be. Resources are available. Contact FNWA at 701-662-3380, and we will help connect you with local service providers or share action opportunities. Help for victims and survivors is also available by calling toll free helplines: StrongHearts Native Helpline at 1-844-7NATIVE (1-844-762-8483); or RAINN (Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network) at 1-800-656-4673.

After pressure from lay group, West Virginia diocese agrees to audit

KANSAS CITY (MO)
National CAtholic Reporter

July 19, 2019

By Peter Feuerherd

A lay group that urged West Virginia Catholics to withhold support for their diocese claimed victory after Archbishop William Lori announced July 17 that the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston will undergo an independent financial audit.

"I clearly understand that the Church has a long way to go to regain your confidence and trust," Lori, archbishop of Baltimore who is also serving as administrator for the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston, wrote to West Virginia's Catholics. Lori disclosed that the diocese would engage the services of CliftonLarsonAllen LLP for a full audit of its finances.

Lay Catholic Voices for Change sent Lori a July 9 letter signed by more than 800 West Virginia Catholics urging the archbishop to institute an audit. The group had urged Catholics not to donate to diocesan causes this weekend. It said it is now calling off its "Not a Dime for the Diocese" campaign.

"This is an important first step in a long process of reform," said Charles DiSalvo, a member of the group's Steering Committee. "It is a basic structural change that will help bring about a healthier distribution of power between the hierarchy and West Virginia Catholics. Up to now, the diocese has kept the laity in the dark regarding its actual income and expenditures. With this increased measure of information, West Virginia Catholics will be that much more empowered to see that the funds they entrust to the diocese are spent properly."

The diocese, which covers the entire state, has been rocked by a scandal involving Bishop Michael Bransfield, who retired in 2018. Bransfield was accused of reckless spending and sexually harassing priests and seminarians, charges deemed credible in a report authorized by Lori released in June.

A July 3 story in The Washington Post said U.S. and Vatican officials had for years received complaints from those concerned by Bransfield's spending.

Media accounts indicated that Bransfield spent more than $4.6 million on his residence, $2.4 million on travel and $350,000 on financial gifts to other church leaders, some of whom, including Lori, later investigated him.

Those expenses included a thousand dollars a month in liquor and daily fresh flowers delivered to the diocesan office, costing up to $182,000 over 13 years, and $350,000 in gifts to priests, bishops and cardinals spread around the country and at the Vatican. Among those who received gifts was Lori.

Sex abuse claims against archdiocese, clergy now under review

TAOS (NM)
Taos News

July 19, 2019

By Cody Hooks

When the June 17 deadline to file sexual abuse claims against the Archdiocese of Santa Fe passed, 340 people had submitted paperwork to be part of the bankruptcy settlement.

Now, the bankruptcy process is moving along and the claims are being reviewed.

The participants in the bankruptcy proceedings are “close” to identifying a mediator for settlement discussions, according to Jim Stang, a lawyer representing the creditors’ committee, a group of eight survivors or the parents of survivors.

A corporate arm of the archdiocese, which manages some of its endowment, should also be responding to requests for disclosure of documents, he said.

After decades of sexual abuse lawsuits and millions of dollars in payouts to survivors of alleged clergy abuse, the archdiocese filed for bankruptcy in December in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for New Mexico. The archdiocese has about $49 million in assets, according to the court documents.

Wife of church volunteer arrested for child molestation is now facing charges herself

GILBERT (AZ)
3TV/CBS 5

July 19, 2019

By Eric Zott

The wife of a Gilbert man arrested last week on child abuse charges will now face charges herself for not reporting his crimes.

Gilbert Police Department Sgt. Bill Balafas said Leslie Little was arrested today around 9:30 a.m.

In a recent interview with Arizona's Family, Leslie Little said she and George Little grew up together and have been married for 12 years.

George Little volunteered to work on occasion at Vineyard Community Church with elementary aged kids in the children’s ministry.

Balafas says Leslie Little is being charged with four counts of failure to report abuse and one count child abuse.

July 18, 2019

Former Conroe priest returns to court after latest indictment

CONROE (TX)
Houston Chronicle

July 18, 2019

By Nicole Hensley

A priest accused of molesting three children at a Montgomery County parish returned to court Thursday for the first time since his indictment on a new charge of indecency with a child.

Manuel La Rosa-Lopez entered a plea of not guilty on the latest charge as his day in court was pushed back to September, with a lawyer for the former Sacred Heart Catholic Church priest saying the Montgomery County District Attorney’s Office was still sifting through a trove of subpoenaed records from the Archdiocese of Galveston Houston.

Assistant District Attorney Wesley LeRouax said the priest waived a formal arraignment by signing off on resetting the appearance.

The 61-year-old priest, flanked by his defense team, said nothing as he left the courtroom through a side door and out a back alley into the sweltering heat in downtown Conroe. He ran a rosary through his hands as he crossed a street.

Credibly Accused Priests in the Kansas City, KS Archdiocese (7/19)

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

July 18, 2019

The independent and respected website BishopAccountability.org lists 22 publicly accused KC KS archdiocesan clerics: John Brayley, William Bruning, Thomas F. Cawley, Lambert Dannenfelser, William A. Finnerty, James A. Forsythe, Lawrence Ginzkey, William M. Haegelin, Martin Juarez, Scott James Kallal, Steven Lamping, Adrian Lickteig, Finian Meis, Anthony Putti, Barry Richardson, Edward F. Roberts, Christopher Rossman, Frank Shepers, Dennis E. Schmitz, John Henry Wisner, Jr., Norman Charles Wolfe and Camillus Wurtz.

In addition to these names, here are some others on the official KC KS archdiocesan website listed as ‘credibly accused’ abusers: John Fiala, Dave Gottschalk, John J. Harrington, David Imming, Marvin Justi and Donald Redmond.

(To see where they worked, go to the archdiocesan website - archkck.org - and type in “substatiated allegations” into the search box at the top right hand side of the home page.)

The archdiocese claims that abuse allegations against William Haegelin are ‘unsubstantiated.’

--Since January, SNAP has discovered and disclosed these credibly accused abusive priests who were in the KC KS archdiocese but are NOT on the official archdiocesan ‘accused’ list (even though Catholic officials elsewhere have deemed nearly all of them ‘credibly accused’ child molesters). They are: Fr. Gilbert Stack, Fr. Placidus Kieffer, Fr. Thomas S. McShane, Fr. Philip D. Kraus, Fr. Anthony D. Palmese, Fr. Roger A. Sinclair, Fr. Eugene A. Maio, Fr. John C. (Fidelis) Forrester, Fr. Norman J. Rogge and Fr. Gregory Beyer.

--Four others are allegedly predatory Jesuits who were at St. Mary's College in St. Mary's, KS: Fr. Francis W. Callan (from 1942 – 1943), Fr. John A. Coughlin (from 1931 – 1935), Fr. Richard J. Pauson (from 1956 – 1959) and Fr. Patrick J. Conway (from 1931 – 1934). Their names appear on the Jesuits’ credibly accused list released in December.

http://jesuitswest.org/Assets/Publications/File/JW_List_1207_English.pdf

--In a 2006 church publication (The Leaven), archdiocesan officials made public the names of two clerics who have sexually abused, exploited or harassed adults. (We suspect there are many more.)

Priest in KCK Archdiocese charged with possessing child pornography

KANSAS CITY (MO)
KCTV

July 18, 2019

By Emily Sinovic and Zoe Brown

A priest in the Kansas City, Kansas Archdiocese has been charged with possession of child pornography.

Some are calling for the archbishop to do more to protect parishioners from predator priests.

Father Christopher Rossman was first ordained back in 2007 in the KCK Archdiocese.

Rossman, still currently a priest within the KCK Archdiocese, has been charged in federal court with possessing child pornography.

Rossman was a priest at Prince of Peace in Olathe during his first two years but has since been all over the diocese including parishes in Topeka, Holton, Mayetta, Holton, Baldwin City, and Lapeer.

In September of 2016, the diocese suspended Rossman,

The KCK Archdiocese released a statement on Thursday, that said in part:

“On Sept. 9 the archdiocese received information indicating that father Rossman had accessed inappropriate content on his computer; the archdiocese then reported the matter to police. . . Father Rossman was immediately suspended. . . The archdiocese will continue to cooperate with law enforcement.”

SNAP leader says organization is here for local priest sex abuse survivors

ALBANY (NY)
WNYT Channel 13

July 18, 2019

Shortly after NewsChannel 13 brought you Michael Harmon's story of alleged priest sex abuse in Albany in the 1980s, the Albany chapter of the Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests or S.N.A.P contacted NewsChannel 13's investigative team. Albany SNAP Leader Nancy Fratianni has a message for survivors in the Capital District.

Nancy Fratianni S.N.A.P. leader for Albany, "For people to reach out who don't know where to go. They don't know what the first step is, they may not want to go back to the church to somebody because they're uncomfortable with that. They're afraid to go to the police, they're afraid to talk to friends or family."

NewsChannel 13 is digging deeper, taking a closer look at the list of the Diocese of Albany's Credibly Accused while serving in the Diocese. Those included have been removed from ministry and those who were deceased or resigned prior to a finding of reasonable grounds by the Diocesan Review Board due to sexual misconduct with a minor according to the Albany Diocese.

Several ex-priests within the Diocese of Albany have been named in civil lawsuits over the years. Some court records WNYT found show the cases were discontinued. No civil records are kept on file out of court settlements. Some former priests locally have been convicted criminally for crimes against children. One of them managed to walk away a free man.

Nancy Fratianni with S.N.A.P. in Albany told NewsChannel 13, "Every time one survivor comes out and says something, it makes it easier for others as well."

Not long after 49-year-old Michael Harmon went public with his accusations against ex-priest with the Albany Diocese Father Edward Pratt, emails from viewers started coming in to WNYT.

Nancy Fratianni added, "I wanted him to know that he was supported and that we care. We're here for him and other survivors like him, and how very brave that was to speak openly about his experience."

In June, Michael Harmon told NewsChannel 13, "I had to be at his mercy, because he told me if I ever stopped him that I would be taken away from my mother."

Pratt declined to speak with 13 Investigates. One of 47 clergy listed as credibly accused by the Diocese of Albany and removed from ministry. Less than-two dozen are alive today, including ex-priest Father Joseph Romano.

NewsChannel 13 found Romano living at an apartment in Clifton Park.

Sir Anthony Hart, retired judge who chaired a major inquiry into historical child abuse in Northern Irish institutions – obituary

LONDON (ENGLAND)
The Telegraph

July 18, 2019

Sir Anthony Hart, who has died aged 73, was a retired judge of the Northern Irish High Court who in 2012 was appointed to chair the biggest child abuse inquiry ever held in Britain; he went on to show that abuse in children’s homes and other institutions on the island of Ireland was not a problem confined to the Irish Republic.

The Historical Institutional Abuse Inquiry (HIAI) was set up in May 2012 by the Northern Irish Assembly to investigate allegations of abuse in 22 institutions between 1922 and 1995.

Sexual abuse now involves Buddhists, too

KANSAS CITY (MO)
Faith Matters blog

July 10, 2019

By Bill Tammeus

A decade or two ago many Americans were under the impression that the only religious group dealing with charges of sexual abuse was the Catholic Church.

Shambhala-Thangka-fullThat has turned out to be wrong on many counts. For example, this summer's national gathering of Southern Baptists devoted a lot of time to how to handle sexual misconduct charges in various Baptist congregations and institutions.

And just this week, The Denver Post published this story about abuse among Buddhists in Colorado who are part of what's called the Shambhala movement. It also published this backgrounder about Shambhala.

As the story noted, "Shambhala, the Boulder-born Buddhist and mindfulness community, for decades suppressed allegations of abuse — from child molestation to clerical abuse — through internal processes that often failed to deliver justice for victims, The Denver Post found through dozens of interviews with current and former members and a review of hundreds of pages of internal documents, police records and private communications.

"That suppression came in the form of worshipful vows students said they were told to maintain to the very teachers they alleged abused them; in explicit and implicit commands not to report abuse; and through a cultish reverence that served to protect Shambhala’s king-like leaders, according to interviews and third-party reviews commissioned by Shambhala itself."

Reform or Dismantle?

NEW YORK (NY)
Commonweal

July 18, 2019

By Massimo Faggioli

One of the effects of the sex-abuse crisis is the current moment of institutional iconoclasm—the temptation to get rid of the institutional element of the Catholic Church. The failures of the church’s institutions are now on full display, even more so than after the revelations of the Spotlight investigation. It is hypocritical, however, to interpret the abuse crisis as a clerical abuse crisis rather than a Catholic abuse crisis. Obviously, the clergy had a unique role in the crisis, but the moral and legal responsibilities do not belong exclusively to those wearing a Roman collar. We are still reluctant to acknowledge the systemic nature of this crisis as something that affected the entire Catholic world and not just its ordained ministers. We would like to contain it neatly within the hierarchy so as to exempt ourselves from the burden of critical self-reflection.

American Catholicism has not yet found its way out of the blame game for the abuse crisis. One sees this on both sides of the ideological spectrum. Recent attempts to use the crisis as a pretext for abolishing the priesthood are just a liberal version of conservative attempts to blame sexual abuse on gays or the sixties. All such strategies spare lay Catholics the bother of having to ask “What did I do wrong?” The abuse itself damaged the lives of the victims and their families, friends, and communities. Now, the shortcomings of our response to the abuse crisis—our failure to deal with its root causes—is causing another kind of damage. When prominent scholars of Catholicism publicly display their “disgust” for Catholicism, it is clear that the abuse crisis has blurred the line between an ecclesially engaged Catholic theology and the more dispassionate, agnostic religious studies of Catholicism. The abuse crisis has produced two kinds of counter-evangelization: first, the counter-evangelization of the hierarchical church, whose example scandalizes the faithful and repels outsiders; second, the counter-evangelization of those who have used this crisis to self-righteously declare their liberation from what they describe as a morally corrupt institution. There is a prefabricated quality to at least some of these declarations. They seem less like honest reckonings with new information than shrewdly timed expressions of old resentments. There will always be an appreciative audience for “Why I Left” pieces.

Reform or Dismantle?

NEW YORK (NY)
Commonweal

July 18, 2019

By Massimo Faggioli

One of the effects of the sex-abuse crisis is the current moment of institutional iconoclasm—the temptation to get rid of the institutional element of the Catholic Church. The failures of the church’s institutions are now on full display, even more so than after the revelations of the Spotlight investigation. It is hypocritical, however, to interpret the abuse crisis as a clerical abuse crisis rather than a Catholic abuse crisis. Obviously, the clergy had a unique role in the crisis, but the moral and legal responsibilities do not belong exclusively to those wearing a Roman collar. We are still reluctant to acknowledge the systemic nature of this crisis as something that affected the entire Catholic world and not just its ordained ministers. We would like to contain it neatly within the hierarchy so as to exempt ourselves from the burden of critical self-reflection.

American Catholicism has not yet found its way out of the blame game for the abuse crisis. One sees this on both sides of the ideological spectrum. Recent attempts to use the crisis as a pretext for abolishing the priesthood are just a liberal version of conservative attempts to blame sexual abuse on gays or the sixties. All such strategies spare lay Catholics the bother of having to ask “What did I do wrong?” The abuse itself damaged the lives of the victims and their families, friends, and communities. Now, the shortcomings of our response to the abuse crisis—our failure to deal with its root causes—is causing another kind of damage. When prominent scholars of Catholicism publicly display their “disgust” for Catholicism, it is clear that the abuse crisis has blurred the line between an ecclesially engaged Catholic theology and the more dispassionate, agnostic religious studies of Catholicism. The abuse crisis has produced two kinds of counter-evangelization: first, the counter-evangelization of the hierarchical church, whose example scandalizes the faithful and repels outsiders; second, the counter-evangelization of those who have used this crisis to self-righteously declare their liberation from what they describe as a morally corrupt institution. There is a prefabricated quality to at least some of these declarations. They seem less like honest reckonings with new information than shrewdly timed expressions of old resentments. There will always be an appreciative audience for “Why I Left” pieces.

The hope of justice heals old, still raw wounds

ALBANY COUNTY (NY)
Altamont Enterprise

July 18, 2019

Last year, we used this page to call for passage of the Child Victims Act, and we were glad when this year — with two Democratic houses — the legislature finally passed the act, extending the statute of limitations for civil suits alleging sexual abuse up to the age of 55 with a look-back year so suits, for one year, could be filed regardless of a victim’s age.

But even we weren’t prepared for the emotions unleashed when we published a front-page story last week on a priest who had served in our community — in Altamont and in the Hilltowns — being accused of raping boys in his care.

In our April 2018 editorial, we had referenced a podcast we’d produced, interviewing Richard Tollner of Rensselaerville who told us how, when he was at the tender age of 15 and 16, he was sexually molested by a priest he had trusted at the seminary he attended.

“It affected who I was; it affected my confidence; it affected my opinion of people. It affected my sexuality. I wasn’t sure — was this my problem?” he told us.

When Tollner was 17, his father died in a car crash. He realized then that he had to take care of himself, he said, and soon after reported the abuse three times — to another priest, to a teacher, to the head of the seminary. Nothing happened.

It was the mid-1970s, before The Boston Globe’s 2002 exposé on priests abusing children, before such matters were openly discussed.

Tollner says he came to realize, “I’m not the bad guy. I never was the bad guy.” But that journey for him was long and painful.

Here’s how Tollner described it: “With children, it’s not like an attack. It’s more like grooming that child for a relationship so they do not realize due to the immaturity and the trust in the person.” Many sexually abused children feel guilty and even complicit.

“A lot of victims don’t even realize it was criminal until years, decades later when they realize, ‘Oh, my gosh, that was not only wrong but it was criminal,’” said Tollner.

Our Church review – quietly powerful parish abuse reckoning

LONDON (ENGLAND)
The Guardian

July 18, 2019

By Arifa Akbar

The #MeToo movement has inspired a number of plays giving voice to the victims of sexual predation. Now comes drama tackling the inner lives of sex offenders themselves, the most prominent of these being Downstate, a Steppenwolf and National Theatre co-production, and David Mamet’s current West End play, Bitter Wheat.

Marietta Kirkbride’s Our Church is far quieter and more English than either of these. It is set in a fictional village that could be the backwaters of Ambridge. Three church committee members eat Hobnobs and discuss parish matters, from dwindling volunteers (“We need fresh blood”) to a diseased pear tree, a renegade cow and a game of croquet for villagers.

It is only when June (Kirsty Cox) nominates a churchgoer called Tom to be part of the group that their conversation becomes charged. Tom is a convicted sex offender who was caught with downloaded images of underage girls. Now elderly, the sustained suspicion towards him in the village is aired by Michael (Robert East, who doubles excellently as Tom) and Anne (Susan Tracy).

Kirkbride’s script is a blend of convincingly naturalistic dialogue with comic edges and thorny conversations tackling the difficulties around rehabilitation and Christian forgiveness, particularly between Tom and Anne, who has her own history of abuse and is played by Tracy with a dialled-down spiky nervousness.

While it does not have the dramatic complexity of Downstate, Nik Partridge’s production captures the awkward reckoning and reconciliation process between abuser and abused. At times, it treads a fine line between potent drama and debating society rhetoric but it never slips into judgment, and Tom’s argument – that he can only do good in society if that society begins to trust him again – is a powerful one.

New guidelines will inform Church’s response to abuse

PARRAMATTA (AUSTRALIA)
Catholic Outlook

July 18, 2019

The Catholic Church is developing new national policy guidelines to strengthen and standardise Church authorities’ responses to historical and contemporary concerns and allegations of abuse of children and vulnerable adults.

Archbishop Mark Coleridge, president of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference, said the development of the guidelines is a critical step forward in the Church’s ongoing response to the recommendations of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.

“The bishops are following through on our commitments made last year, and having a consistent approach to the management of allegations of abuse of children and vulnerable people is central to our reforms,” he explained.

The Implementation Advisory Group, set up in May 2018 to monitor and advise Catholic leaders on the Church’s response to the Royal Commission’s recommendations, is overseeing the development of the policy guidelines.

The guidelines will serve as a public commitment to integrity and accountability in responding to allegations of abuse. They will make clear the obligations of all Church authorities to respond with processes that are fair and effective, and which comply with all Australian laws.

The assessment and management of risk to children will remain paramount throughout the new national guidelines. Prioritising children’s safety and wellbeing will ensure that Church authorities’ responses to concerns or allegations effectively address existing risks and do not create further risk to children.

The guidelines will be considered in conjunction with the new National Catholic Safeguarding Standards, approved and launched by Catholic Professional Standards Ltd earlier this year.

“The national guidelines and the Safeguarding Standards will become two focal points for the Church’s work in protecting children and vulnerable adults from abuse and ensuring survivors are at the centre of our response to allegations that arise,” Archbishop Coleridge said.

The guidelines will address all forms of child abuse, including sexual, physical and psychological abuse, and neglect and maltreatment. The development of the guidelines will include extensive consultation, inviting abuse survivors and their supporters to participate.

Lay Group Suspends Campaign Against Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston After Archbishop Lori Agrees to Open Financial Statements

WHEELING (WV)
The Intelligencer

July 17, 2019

Lay Catholic Voices for Change on Wednesday agreed to suspend its campaign asking parishioners not to tithe to the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston after Archbishop William Lori said the diocese had hired a new auditor and would publish full financial reports moving forward.

In its July 9 letter to Lori, the group demanded that the diocese hire a new auditor, disclose the audit’s results to the public, and announce a timetable for the completion of the audit and the release of information.

The diocese has agreed to all three demands.

“This is an important first step in a long process of reform”, said Charles DiSalvo, a member of the LCVC Steering Committee. “It is a basic structural change that will help bring about a healthier distribution of power between the hierarchy and West Virginia Catholics. Up to now, the diocese has kept the laity in the dark regarding its actual income and expenditures. With this increased measure of information, West Virginia Catholics will be that much more empowered to see that the funds they entrust to the diocese are spent properly.”

LCVC member Frances Brownfield says, “I am very encouraged by the response from our diocese and look forward to future opportunities for diocesan and lay dialogue. This is a first step in the restoration of trust within our community of faith.”

Pittsburgh Catholic Diocese Trying To Sort Out Financial Problems In Wake Of Abuse Scandal

PITTSBURGH (PA)
KDKA

July 16, 2019

By Andy Sheehan

The Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh is not declaring bankruptcy, but it must take several steps to avoid it.

That is the message that Pittsburgh Bishop David Zubik told nearly all of the priests and deacons in the diocese at special meeting held at St. Paul Seminary.

The bishop revealed that since the grand jury report on child sexual abuse, Mass attendance is down nine percent and collections are down 11 percent.

“For me, to lose even one parishioner is severe enough, but the trends have been going that way for the last 20 years,” Zubik said.

While donations are down, the diocese underestimated the number of claims that would be filed under its victim’s compensation fund.

Jeffrey Epstein’s Dark Façade Finally Cracks

UNITED STATES
Forbes

July 12, 2019

By Lisette Voytko

It’s only been a week since Jeffrey Epstein’s arrest on two federal charges of sex trafficking and conspiracy burst onto cable news chyrons and across social media, a decade-long wrong, in many observers' minds, finally righted. The mysterious Manhattan financier, who maintains his innocence, had become a pariah from the wealth and power enclaves he inhabited before his arrest and eventual plea bargain in 2008 on two reduced, state-level felony charges of prostitution.

In recent years, even as his profile dimmed, a certain outrage stirred. Long gone were the wealthy and famous figures in his life, such as Donald Trump, Bill Clinton, Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, Prince Andrew, Woody Allen and, perhaps most importantly, longtime friend and early patron Leslie Wexner, the billionaire retail magnate. In 2003, Wexner spoke highly of Epstein. “[He’s] very smart with a combination of excellent judgment and unusually high standards. Also, he is always a most loyal friend.” This week, a spokesperson told Forbes, “Mr. Wexner severed ties with Mr. Epstein more than a decade ago.”

Post-#MeToo, the Miami Herald’s Julie K. Brown revisited the Epstein case in a five-part series to examine what might have protected him after prosecutors had built what seemed to be a powerful, 53-page indictment, with lurid allegations of Epstein’s abuses—that he would receive massages from 36 identified underage girls, with the knowledge that some were as young as 14, and in some instances rape them.

Former KCK Archdiocese priest charged with possessing child pornography

KANSAS CITY (MO)
Kansas City Star

July 18, 2019

By Katie Moore

A former priest who served at several locations under the Kansas City, Kansas, Archdiocese has been charged in federal court with possessing child pornography.

Christopher Rossman allegedly possessed visual depictions of a minor engaging in sexually explicit conduct in September 2016, according to charging documents.

The Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas said it reported Rossman to police after receiving information that he had accessed the inappropriate content.

He was immediately suspended from serving as a pastor in Baldwin City and Lapeer, Kansas, the Archdiocese said. He had previously been assigned to churches in Olathe, Topeka, Holton, Mayetta and the Potawatomi Reservation.

“The Archdiocese will continue to cooperate with law enforcement as this matter moves forward,” the organization said in a statement Thursday.

Scott Toth, Rossman’s attorney, said it would be premature to comment on the case now.

In January, the Archdiocese published a list of clergy who have been accused of sexual abuse.

Rossman was listed among priests who were the subject of publicized allegations the Archdiocese said it wasn’t able to substantiate, along with three other men. Those included Scott Kallal, who now faces two counts of aggravated indecent liberties with a child in Wyandotte County District Court.

Kallal’s trial, which has been delayed once, is scheduled to start Sept. 9.

IN 44 STATES, CLERGY DON'T HAVE TO TELL POLICE WHEN SOMEONE CONFESSES TO CHILD SEX ABUSE

NEW YORK (NY)
Newsweek

July 18, 2019

By Jacob Wallace

Under current Utah law, members of the clergy are not required to report confessions of child sex abuse. Utah State Rep. Angela Romero wants to change that.

Romero is drafting a bill that would require any religious leader in a position of authority to become a mandatory reporter—an individual required by law to notify authorities of any admissions of abuse. Teachers, coaches, doctors and others who work with children are often mandatory reporters. Failure to report can be considered a criminal offense.

In a statement on Facebook, Romero said the bill was not targeting any particular religious group, but was rather intended to protect children from harm.

"Too often cases of sexual abuse involving ecclesiastic leaders have been covered up and the victims are denied justice," she wrote. "We already have laws that mandate reporting whenever anyone learns about abuse of a child or a vulnerable person. Ecclesiastic leaders need to be held to the same standard."

If the measure passes, Utah would be one of only seven states that explicitly require priests, ministers, rabbis and other religious leaders to report confessions of child sex abuse to law enforcement.

"My concern is getting somebody off the street that shouldn't be on the street, regardless of if they confessed to a clergy member or regardless if someone they know told a clergy member," Romero told Fox 13. "Regardless of what that religious institution is, it needs to be investigated by law enforcement."

In most states, clergy have ecclesiastical privilege, a right similar to attorney-client privilege allowing them to refuse to disclose any admission made in the context of a confession.

Currently, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, Texas and West Virginia are the only states that have laws requiring clergy to be mandatory reporters.

The statutes are a little murkier in Tennessee, Indiana and Connecticut: Priests have been allowed to voluntarily break their priest-penitent privilege, but it's unclear whether they are required to.

confession sex abuse priest penitent privilege
Only six states currently require clergy to report instances of child sexual abuse to authorities.
SHALONE CASONE
In 2005, the Mississippi Supreme Court ruled that the privilege superseded the state's mandatory reporting laws, meaning clergy effectively didn't have to report confessions.

In 2013, though, the New Hampshire Supreme Court ruled that clergy were required to report abuse because confessants "cannot have an objectively reasonable expectation that such a statement will remain confidential."

A California bill weaker than the Utah measure was scuttled after State Senator Jerry Hill couldn't muster the votes to get it out of the Assembly's public safety committee. SB 360 would have required reporting when an admission of sex abuse arose in "penitential communications" between two clergy members or between a clergy member "and another person that is employed at the same site or facility as the clergy member."

The bill was fiercely criticized by Catholic leaders in California, who argued it impinged on their religious freedom. In a statement signed by various Catholic and Protestant leaders, the Religious Freedom Institute (RFI) argued the law would violate the "seal of the confession" and would hurt efforts to identify and prosecute abusers.

"First, confession is often not undertaken face-to-face in order to preserve the anonymity of the penitent. In such cases the priest does not know who is confessing," RFI wrote. "Second, the provisions of SB 360 could worsen the problem by discouraging confession and its intended result – a turning away from grave sin. There is no reason to believe that those guilty of sexual abuse would be more likely to confess this crime to a priest who is required by law to turn them in."

In Pope’s backyard, Church struggles with increasingly polarized politics

BUENOS AIRES (ARGENTINA)
Crux

July 18, 2019

By Inés San Martín

Pope Francis’s Argentina today is a polarized country, something visible virtually everywhere in the streets of Buenos Aires, the nation’s capital and political center. People of all walks of life right now are carrying colorful handkerchiefs expressing their views on legalizing abortion: Those in favor wear green, those against it light blue.

The color coding reflects a bitter national debate following a narrow vote in the senate last year defeating a bill to expand abortion rights. The division today now on display has long been about more than abortion, extending to politics, the economy, views on history’s first Argentine pontiff and even Argentina’s history.

According to Bishop Daniel Fernandez from Jujuy, in Argentina’s remote northwest, this national polarization, dubbed here as a “crack,” is something that deeply worries the pope.

“Pope Francis is concerned about this famous ‘crack’ that grows and doesn’t allow us social friendship, that beautiful concept that means we can think differently and have different philosophies and praxis but when it comes to generating the common good, we can each put the best we have,” Fernandez said on Monday.

French priest suspended over sex abuse allegations

PARIS (FRANCE)

July 18, 2019

Father Jean-François Six, a renowned theologian and biographer of Charles de Foucauld, has been suspended by Archbishop Hervé Giraud, prelate of the Mission de France in Pontigny, of which he has been a member since 1964.

In a statement dated July 15 and sent to all members of the mission, the archbishop of Sens-Auxerre said he had received several reports implicating Father Six, 90, which "led him to exclude this priest from any pastoral ministry, including any communication and publication, through protective measures."

According to initial information gathered by La Croix, the allegations relate to events dating back to the 1970s and involve young women.

"The presumption of innocence must be respected for the implicated priest while justice runs its course," said Archbishop Giraud, who said he had referred the matter to the public prosecutor and the authorities in Rome.

He said his reason for making a public statement was to "free the speech of others if it must be free."

Pope accepts Pates' resignation as bishop for Diocese of Des Moines, appoints replacement

DES MOINES (IA)
Des Moines Register

July 18, 2019

Pope Francis has accepted the resignation of the Rev. Richard Pates as bishop of the Diocese of Des Moines and appointed his replacement, according to a news release.

The Rev. William Joensen, who serves in the Archdiocese of Dubuque, was selected by the pope as bishop-elect for the diocese. Joensen's ordination as a bishop is planned for Sept. 27.

Joensen, 59, was born in Waterloo and attended seminary at the Pontifical College Josephinum in Columbus, Ohio, according to a release from the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. He was ordained as a priest in the Archdiocese of Dubuque on June 24, 1989.

In addition to the theology degree he has from Josephinum, Joensen also has Ph.D. in philosophy from the Catholic University of America.

Pates, the ninth bishop of Des Moines, announced his resignation in February 2018 when he turned 75 years old. By Canon Law, bishops must resign at age 75. He has been bishop since 2008.

Known for his openness and welcoming personality, Pates’ tenure has been marked by impressive growth, increased diversification of the local Catholic flock and ongoing fallout from Catholic scandals.

In February, following a diocesan review, Pates announced the names of nine priests found to be credibly accused of sexually abusing minors while serving the diocese.

July 17, 2019

Priest Roundup Shows Michigan Attorney General Isn't Letting Justice Evade Victims

DETROIT (MI)
Deadline Detroit

July 18, 2019

By Michael Betzold

Bringing cases against priests based on decades-old incidents shows how determined Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel is to use her resources in the now years-long Catholic Church abuse scandal.

It must have been a shock to the six men arrested around the world May 24; most had been living quietly in other states for decades. But Nessel knew what they most likely didn’t: The clock on Michigan’s statute of limitations law stops running when the accused perpetrator leaves Michigan.

The arrests sent a clear signal to church leaders and to victims: she’s leaving no stone unturned.

In the case of Fr. Tim Crowley, the John Doe victim in Nessel’s complaint didn’t want the Washtenaw County prosecutor to bring charges on his behalf back in 2012, when evidence was already public, but he’s apparently changed his mind. Crowley was transported in a police van from retirement in Arizona to face Nessel’s complaint alleging eight counts of criminal sexual conduct at St. Thomas the Apostle Church in Ann Arbor. At 70, Crowley – who left the state a year after the incidents in question – faces a July 30 probable cause conference.

Neil Kalina was snatched up in California as part of the AG’s May 24 sweep and remains in the Macomb County jail. He faces charges that he invited a boy of 13 to overnight stays at his rectory at St. Kieran in Utica in 1983 and 1984, gave him alcohol, cocaine, and marijuana – and sexually assaulted him.

“I’ve waited for this day for 18 years,” said the wife of the alleged victim, sitting in Judge Thomas Shepherd’s courtroom in Shelby Township July 2 for a scheduled probable cause conference for Kalina.

Forged document case: Police record statement of senior priest

KOCHI (INDIA)
New Indian Express

July 18, 2019

City police on Wednesday recorded the statement of Fr Kuriakose Mundadan, secretary of the Presbyteral Council, in connection with the alleged forging of documents to defame Cardinal Mar George Alencherry. According to sources, the investigating team probing the case visited the priest’s office and sought details from him for over three hours.

Fr Mundadan, a senior priest of Ernakulam-Angamaly Archdiocese, said that being the secretary of the Presbyteral Council, the police sought details regarding the Church land scam.

“As part of the ongoing probe, the investigators sought some inputs relating to the case. Being the secretary of the council, I will be able to throw light on the land deals,” Fr Mundadan told Express.

Meanwhile, police officials said that investigation is progressing and they are collecting statements from several people and priests belonging to the archdiocese.

Former apostolic administrator of the archdiocese Bishop Mar Jacob Manathodath and senior priests Fr Paul Thelakkat and Fr Tony Kallookaran are the first and second accused, respectively, in the document forgery case. The other accused are Adithya Zacharia and his friend Vishnu, who allegedly helped Adithya to forge the documents.

Facing dire financial situation, Pittsburgh diocese looks to make changes

DENVER (CO)
Catholic News Agency

July 17, 2019

The Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh is evaluating options to respond to severe financial strains, exacerbated in the last year by the sex abuse crisis, a diocesan official said Wednesday.

“The challenges that we’re facing are similar to that of many other churches, I think, throughout the country,” said Msgr. Ronald Lengwin, Vicar for Church Relations for the diocese.

He told CNA that already-existing financial struggles had been greatly compounded by the sex abuse crisis that broke last summer.

In August 2018, a Pennsylvania grand jury report was released, identifying more than 1,000 allegations of abuse at the hands of some 300 clergy members in six dioceses in the state, including 99 from Pittsburgh. It also found a pattern of efforts by Church authorities to ignore, obscure, or cover up allegations – either to protect accused priests or to spare the Church scandal.

Since that report was released, Mass attendance has dropped 9% and offertory donations have declined 11%, CBS Pittsburgh reported.

Diocese of Crookston Reaches Settlement with 15 Survivors

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

July 17, 2019

The Diocese of Crookston today has settled with fifteen survivors of clergy abuse. We hope that this settlement will bring comfort, healing, and change.

We applaud these brave survivors for speaking up, persevering, and for insisting on pledges of reform by church officials and disclosure of long-hidden abuse records, not just financial considerations in this settlement. Litigation can help survivors get the power to change church practices as well as achieve justice, and we are glad these survivors took the chance to demand both.

It is good that a bankruptcy was avoided because that process almost inevitably helps church officials keep hidden documents hidden and ensures cover ups remain covered up.

We hope that the information that the Diocese of Crookston has agreed to release will be made public soon. Information about those who committed and concealed these crimes will create a safer, more informed community and will help parents, police, prosecutors, and parishioners better protect children and vulnerable adults.

The cautionary tale of Pastor Amy

LONDONN (ENGLAND)
Catholic Herald

July 15, 2019

By Sohrab Ahmari

Trouble roils Manhattan’s Riverside Church, the neo-Gothic behemoth on the Upper West Side that serves as one of the enduring bastions of American liberal Protestantism. As the New York Post (where I serve as op-ed editor) first reported last week, the church and its pastor, the Rev Dr Amy Butler, mutually parted ways amid accusations that Butler, known as “Pastor Amy”, had taken underlings and a congregant on a sex toy shopping spree.

So much for liberal Catholics’ undying belief that ordaining women is the answer to our troubles.

While visiting Minneapolis for a homiletics festival in May, Pastor Amy allegedly took two junior ministers and a congregant to a sex shop called the Smitten Kitten, per the Post. There, she spent $200 for a “bunny-shaped blue vibrator called a Beaded Rabbit for one minister – a single mom of two who was celebrating her 40th birthday – as well as more pleasure gadgets for the congregant and herself.”

The alleged element of coercion – the junior ministers reportedly didn’t want to join Pastor Amy on the raunchy shopping trip but feared retaliation if they declined to go along – led to a formal harassment complaint days later and a third-party investigation. Eventually, Riverside and Pastor Amy concluded that the latter’s position was “untenable”, per the Post’s sources.

In an apparent attempt to forestall the Post’s exposé, Pastor Amy’s allies ran to the New York Times. The Grey Lady duly obliged with a story that painted the pastor as a victim of sexism and a progressive champion, who had written “in searing, and deeply personal, terms about her decision years ago to have a late-term abortion”.

The Times also politely alluded to the pastor’s “push for a substantial raise”, another point of contention with Riverside that predated the sex toy episode. But according to the Post, Pastor Amy was seeking $100,000 in additional compensation that would come on top of her $250,000 salary, plus a six-month housing allowance worth $48,000 and “annual retirement contributions of $59,000 for three years”.

Why Aren’t Americans Paying Attention to Pope Francis’ Progressive Ideas?

Fair Observer blog

July 17, 2019

By Gary Grappo

In his papal encyclical, “Laudato Si’” (“Praise Be”), issued in May 2015, Pope Francis reminded humanity of its responsibility for stewardship of the planet, including addressing the challenge of our times, climate change. Had the pope stuck to the environmental message, it would have been papal history making enough. However, he went on to connect environmental devastation to poverty, growing inequality and the consumer-driven economies of today’s world. The latter, said Francis, prioritize profit and individual comfort and well-being over the welfare of mankind and the health of the planet.

The pope affirmed his agreement with the scientific consensus that not only is the earth warming at an alarming rate, but also that humanity bears a significant share of the responsibility. He condemned “worship of gross national product over human life and health” and tied such worship to mankind’s treatment of “Mother Earth,” asserting that “We have come to see ourselves as her lords and masters, entitled to plunder her at will.”

Was It Un-American?
In the US, a self-confessed secular but majority-Christian nation, the pope’s encyclical was greeted predictably with cheers and jeers as many pundits and politicians chose to read it as a political treatise — if not outright lecture to capitalist economies — as opposed to a spiritual message and call to Christian action. Was its less-then-veiled criticism of economic policies today a full-on assault of capitalism by the left-leaning pontiff? American audiences could hardly be expected to embrace such a politically tainted condemnation of their nation’s underlying economic system.

Coming just 18 months before the 2016 presidential election, in which issues like climate change, poverty and inequality were heavily debated, the pope’s document received much media attention. The candidates, however, largely avoided committing themselves, neither harshly criticizing nor warmly embracing its arguments.

Catholic Diocese of Crookston settles clergy sex abuse lawsuit

ST PAUL (MN)
KFGO TV

July 17, 2019

By Paul Jurgens

A Twin Cities law firm says the agreement will result in payments to 15 abuse victims and keep the diocese from filing for bankruptcy. The names of priests will also be disclosed.

Attorney Jeff Anderson says the victims are taking back power that was stolen from them as children. He says the settlement will help with their healing and advance child protection in the diocese. Anderson says the abuse took place between 1969 and 2009.

Four other lawsuits against the diocese were settled earlier.

Vic pedophile priest to be sentenced

SYDNEY (AUSTRALIA)
Channel Nine News

July 18, 2019

A Victorian pedophile priest and repeat offender is to discover on Thursday whether he will spend extra time in prison after confessing to more historical child sex crimes.

Robert Claffey, 76 is already serving a minimum of 13 years and four months' jail for sexually abusing 12 children aged as young as five, between 1969 and 1992.

But last week he admitted he abused another two boys in Ballarat during the 1980s, following
fresh allegations.

Prosecutors want Claffey to have time added to his non-parole jail term.

Last week, Claffey's lawyer Alan Hands asked County Court Judge Paul Higham to consider that Claffey had already been "vilified" by the media and community, and shouldered the burden of his offending for years.

But the judge wasn't convinced the pedophile was vilified or burdened by guilt, adding "being held accountable for your actions is not vilification".

The Catholic Church became aware of Claffey's behaviour during the 1980s but moved him "parish to parish" throughout western Victoria.

Skepticism over New Calls to Abandon Priestly Celibacy

NEW YORK (NY)
Crisis Magazine

July 17, 2019

By Casey Chalk

In the wake of ongoing new reporting regarding sex scandals among many clerics, we have witnessed increased calls for the Catholic Church to loosen celibacy restrictions for the priesthood. Even many devout Catholics have begun to believe celibacy represents an unhealthy repression of sexual urges. To stem the tide of clerical abuse, the Church must dispense with celibacy. Fr. Carter Griffin is an outspoken opponent of this reasoning. His new book, Why Celibacy?: Reclaiming the Fatherhood of the Priest, encapsulates his thinking on the topic, going far beyond the commonly-heard defenses of clerical celibacy. As the title suggests, Fr. Griffin’s defense of celibacy relies on a robust understanding of the priest as father.

As Scott Hahn observes in the foreword, the priesthood is not simply a job or a career. It is a vocation that demands total commitment, and “celibacy has safeguarded that commitment.” The connection between the priestly vocation and celibacy has a strong biblical pedigree. Sexual continence was required for priests serving in the temple. Jesus, the preeminent priest who offered the greatest sacrifice for the salvation of the world, was celibate. St. Paul embraced celibacy as part of his apostolic calling, and urged others to do the same (1 Cor. 7:7). As Fr. Griffin then explains, the practice of clerical celibacy is visible very early in the Church, confirmed or encouraged by the Councils of Elvira (305 A.D.) and Trullo (691 A.D.), and later by the Second Lateran Council (1139 A.D.).

Yet the Church never understood celibacy in and of itself as the key to unlocking the spiritual power of the priesthood. Rather, it was celibacy united to an understanding of the priest as a supernatural father. Biblical imagery for this relationship is seen in Christ’s role as the new Adam generating the Church through his sacrifice and becoming a father of a new humanity (1 Cor. 15:45). Like a good father, Christ protects, suffers, and dies for his spiritual family. Moreover, Christ often referred to his disciples as children (Mark 10:24; John 13:33, 21:5; Mark 2:5). St. John speaks of Christians as “born of him” (1 John 2:28-29). The testimony of the early Church—including that of Sts. Justin Martyr, Irenaeus of Lyon, Clement, Athanasius, Benedict, Ambrose, Augustine, and Leo the Great—use the imagery of Christ as a spiritual father. The supernatural paternity of priests and bishops is also explicit in St. Ignatius of Antioch, the Passion narrative of Sts. Perpetua and Felicity, and the Didascalia Apostolorum. Many of these same sources also explicitly associate priestly celibacy with supernatural generation.

Cardinal Dolan Must Come Clean about Gifts from Bishop Bransfield

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

July 17, 2019

New York’s top Catholic official has kept silent now for over a month now regarding cash gifts he received from a now-disgraced colleague. We believe he owes his flock an apology and an explanation, and that he should return the money to its rightful owners.

On June 5, the Washington Post revealed that the now-retired Charleston West Virginia Bishop Michael Bransfield used proceeds from an odd source – a little-known Texas oil field – to spend lavishly on himself and other high-ranking Catholic officials, including New York’s Cardinal Timothy Dolan.

Some of those church officials have pledged to return the money to the West Virginia diocese. Others claim they’ve donated it to charity. Cardinal Dolan, however, has remained silent and is apparently doing neither.

Dolan’s silence is particularly ironic because he is one of the loudest bishops when it comes to promising “openness” and “transparency.” And he’s one of the prelates who needs extra money the least.

According to the Baltimore Sun, “Bransfield disbursed gifts amounting to $350,000 in cash to powerful cardinals and bishops including Dolan, Archbishop Lori of Baltimore, Cardinal Raymond Burke of the Vatican; and disgraced Cardinals Bernard Law, who was forced to resign as Boston’s archbishop in 2002 for his role in covering up child abuse by priests there, and Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, who resigned last year amid allegations he sexually abused children and adults over decades.” That’s a group of men with pretty questionable records.

Cardinal DiNardo Should Ask Abusive Conroe Priest to Plead Guilty

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

July 17, 2019

An allegedly abusive priest from Conroe County is due in court on Thursday for the next phase of his trial. We believe that church officials can and should spare his victims the pain of that trial and should encourage the priest to plead guilty instead.

Fr. Manuel LaRosa Lopez will be back in court on Thursday following his indictment in May on three counts of indecency with a child. He has now been charged with five counts from three separate victims. The incidents for the five counts occurred in the late 1990’s and early 2000’s. There is also a fourth victim who went to the Archdiocese of Galveston/Houston in 1992 with an accusation, but this incident occurred outside of the window of the Statute of Limitations. If the church had been responsible at that time, they would have removed Fr. LaRosa Lopez from ministry, preventing the three victims in the criminal case from being sexually abused, changing their lives forever. Given this information, we feel that Cardinal Daniel DiNardo should use his power to help spare the pain and expense of a trial and encourage Fr. LaRosa Lopez to plead guilty.

SNAP Urges Boycott of Businesses Displaying Signs Supporting Accused Priest

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

July 17, 2019

We are extremely saddened to learn that signs supporting a priest facing multiple allegations of abuse are being distributed. We fear that this will have a chilling effect on any young victims who see them displayed.

Supporters of accused clergyman Msgr. Craig Harrison are publicly posting signs around Bakersfield. We understand that it is only natural for people to want to show solidarity with a religious leader that they love and respect when allegations arise. However, we always recommend that they show this support privately.

Somewhere in the community there may be a young girl being molested by a relative or a boy being abused by his coach or youth leader. If these children see adults publicly rallying around an accused perpetrator, they will be less likely to report their own victimization. Scared into remaining silent, they will continue to suffer alone.

We fervently hope that the monsignor’s supporters will think about that and reconsider displaying these signs.

Former El Paso Catholic priest sentenced to 18 years in prison in sexual assault case

EL PASO (TX)
El Paso Times

July 17, 2019

By Aaron Martinez

A former El Paso Catholic priest was sentenced to 18 years in prison Tuesday after he was convicted the previous day on a dozen sexual abuse charges.

MiguelLuna, 69, was sentenced to 18 years in prison on six counts of aggravated sexual assault of a child and 10 years in prison on the three counts of sexual assault of a child.

He was also sentenced to 10 years of probation on three counts of indecency with a child.

The sentences will be served concurrently.

Luna was facing up to life in prison on the aggravated sexual charges.

A jury of nine woman and three men reached the sentencing verdict Tuesday. The same jury convicted him Monday on all 12 charges.

Want more coverage on issues that matter to you? Consider supporting local journalism with a subscription to the El Paso Times.

The trial was held in the 120th District Court with Judge Maria Salas-Mendoza presiding.

Luna was arrested June 11, 2018, after one of his victims, who is now in her late 30s, reported that the former priest began sexually abusing her when she was 8 years in the 1990s at an El Paso church.

Down by the Riverside: Fractured church picking up pieces after bombshell reports on pastor’s departure

NASHVILLE (TN)
Baptist News Global

July 15, 2019

By Bob Allen

Riverside Church in New York City held a members-only meeting Sunday, following a week of sensational headlines in competing newspapers covering the departure of senior pastor Amy Butler.

The Washington Post reported July 15 that during the meeting 11 members of the historically significant congregation introduced a petition demanding that Butler, former pastor of Calvary Baptist Church in Washington, D.C., be reinstated as senior pastor.

Butler, who in the past wrote columns for Baptist News Global and its predecessor Associated Baptist Press, released a joint statement last Tuesday with the chair of the church council announcing that her five-year contract as pastor would not be renewed.

On Thursday the New York Times quoted unnamed sources who attribute her departure to sexism and the “stained-glass cliff” – the name given to an informal barrier faced by women in ministry. Unlike the so-called stained-glass ceiling, which keeps women from climbing up the ministerial ladder, the stained-glass cliff posits that women are actually more likely than men to get promoted if the organization is facing a crisis, increasing the odds that they will fail.

The New York Post followed up with a much different story about salary demands and possible conduct unbecoming a minister.

Xaverian Brothers’ disclosure on past sexual abuse falls short

BOSTON (MA)
The Boston Globe

July 16, 2019

By Eric MacLeish

Last weekend, the Xaverian Brothers, a religious order that operates five Catholic high schools in Massachusetts released the names of 34 priests alleged to have sexually abused children in St. John’s Preparatory School in Danvers, Xaverian Brothers High School in Westwood, St. John’s High School in Shrewsbury, and Malden Catholic High School. This disclosure differs dramatically from those transparent investigations made recently by private schools all around the country and pays only lip service to current standards on responses to sexual abuse allegations.

For starters, the data for the current report was based on a “file review,” presumably of personnel files. In 2002, then-Cardinal Bernard Law promised a similar file review, which captured only a fraction of child molesters masquerading as priests and contained almost no information about their enablers. File reviews presume that the despicable crimes of religious order priests and their superiors were well-documented. While some crimes were described, no investigation can presume that a file review tells the complete story. The horrific history of child abuse is littered with cover-ups and the deletion of information concerning predatory priests and cooperative bishops.

Victim: Catholic Priests Kept Jobs Despite Sex Abuse Claims

NEW YORK (NY)
WCBS 880 Radio

July 16, 2019

A new lawsuit filed Tuesday claims two Catholic priest that were accused of sexually abusing inors were allowed to remain active at their churches despite complaints to the archdiocese.

The lawsuit alleges church officials either covered up or misrepresented the abusive histories of Father Donald Timone and Monsignor John Paddack, who Joseph Caramanno says abused him when he was a student at St. Joseph’s by the Sea on Staten Island.

“I personally wonder if –while I was in high school back in 2001, 2002 – was there someone that knew about Monsignor Paddack, was there someone that knew that he had, you know, done some things to others before me,” Caramanno said.

The allegations forced Paddack to resign from the Church of Notre Dame on the Upper West Side.

Timone is accused of sexually abusing the late husband of one of the plaintiffs when he was a teenager. The alleged victim died from an apparent suicide in 2015.

“The allegations against Fr. Timone and Fr. Paddack were shared with law enforcement, and both are currently out of ministry while the archdiocese investigates these new allegations against them,” the archdiocese said in a statement.

It notes that earlier claims against the two were investigated but “were found not to be substantiated.”

Irreligion, Sexual Abuse and Sacrilege

DENVER (CO)
National Catholic Register

July 12, 2019

By John Grondelski

Over at Commonweal, Boston College theology and law professor Cathleen Kaveny tries to obfuscate the meaning of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI’s recent letter on the sexual abuse crisis… and perhaps score some points for the revisionist agenda of blaming that crisis on “clericalism” rather than the sexual immorality that—rightly—Benedict identifies as where the Church and modern culture began going off the rails in the late 1960s.

Kaveny claims that Benedict misidentifies the moral wrong behind the sexual abuse crisis: she thinks he is equating it with sacrilege (although she admits that “[h]e does not use the term”). She claims that this shift lets the Church off the hook, protecting the institution by identifying it as the victim rather than defending children victims. “Benedict’s letter seems to put clergy sex abuse in the category of sacrilege, not injustice.”

She wants to see the sacrilege versus justice question as an either/or proposition (not unusual for defenders of revisionist moral theology). It isn’t. It’s both.

I have always been very pleased by the fact that the 2011 retranslation of the Novus Ordo Missae restored the typical text, not ICEL’s “equivalent” translations. One of the important places where that translation recovered the real meaning of the text was in the introductory dialogue to the Preface. We used to say, “It is right to give Him thanks and praise.” We now respond, in keeping with the venerable ancient text, “It is right and just” (dignum et justum est).

New poll shows growing view that clergy are irrelevant

WASHINGTON (DC)
Religion News Service

July 16, 2019

By Yonat Shimron

In her 2004 Pulitzer-Prize winning novel “Gilead,” Marilynne Robinson sketches a portrait of the Rev. John Ames, a small- town pastor in 1950s Iowa who is humble, self-aware, compassionate and devoted to his family and his congregation, and they to him.

Americans no longer hold clergy in such high regard, according to a recent poll, and even regular churchgoers are seeking counsel elsewhere.

A NORC/AP poll of 1,137 adults released this month shows that doctors, teachers, members of the military — even scientists — are viewed more positively than clergy. The less frequently people attend church, the more negative their views. Among those who attend less than once a month, only 42% said they had a positive view of clergy members — a rate comparable to that of lawyers, who rank near the bottom of the list of professions.

While frequent church attenders still hold clergy in high regard — about 75% viewed them positively — they give them only passing grades on a number of personal attributes. Only 52% of monthly churchgoers consider clergy trustworthy (that number drops to 23% among those who attend less than once a month) and 57% said they were honest and intelligent (compared with 27% and 30% among infrequent attenders).

“If you buy into the religious worldview, then the religious leader looks completely different than if you don’t buy into the religious worldview,” said Scott Thumma, professor of the sociology of religion at Hartford Seminary. “The perception from the outside is pretty bleak.”

Doc details fight for justice by local victim of former Sudbury priest

SUDBURY (CANADA)
Sudbury.com

July 17, 2019

He has been dead for more than five years, but when a convicted pedophile priest makes a sudden appearance in a documentary about his crimes, it's like a bolt of lightning.

By now, most people in Sudbury are familiar with the crimes of Fr. William Hodgson Marshall, a priest who molested young boys at St. Charles College in the late 1960s and early 1970s before moving on to prey on more children in other places.

The public has never heard Marshall directly talking about his crimes. A new TVO documentary entitled 'PREY' changes that, showing him for the first time responding to questions from the lawyer representing his victims. PREY – a pun on pray – is playing at Cinefest this year.

Director Matt Gallagher's film focuses on the 2018 lawsuit by Rod McLeod, one of Marshall's victims in Sudbury who was awarded $2.57 million (https://www.sudbury.com/local-news/victim-of-abuse-by-sudbury-priest-awarded-25m-907564) for the abuse he suffered – and for the Basilian Fathers of Toronto for allowing it to continue.

Column: Allegations against Epstein have put #MeToo in context

COLUMBUS (OH)
Columbus Dispatch

July 17, 2019

By Christine Flowers

A few years ago, I wrote a column about Malala Yousafzi around the time that the young Pakistani activist was shot in the head by the Taliban. She was targeted for death simply because she wanted to help give girls the same educational opportunities as boys.

Instead, Malala survived. She became a symbol of fierce and principled defiance in the face of an oppressive regime, a true patriarchy.

That column garnered a lot of criticism because my central point was that women in our country did not understand what true persecution looked like.

Seven years later, and our gauge of what counts as true abuse against women hasn’t gotten any better. I blame #MeToo, which has robbed us of the ability to see things in context. The fratboy antics of Al Franken, Joe Biden and by then wheelchair-bound George H.W. Bush were condemned as if these men committed aggravated felonies. The mere accusation of date rape is enough to deprive young male college students of due process. Unearthed stories from three decades ago almost scuttled the judicial nomination of a man whose only proven bad behavior is — horror of horrors — liking beer.

This is why the indictment of Jeffrey Epstein for sex trafficking is so important.

July 16, 2019

SNAP leader calls for more accountability after St. Xavier releases list of accused abusers

LOUISVILLE (KY)
WDRB TV

Jul 16, 2019

By Katrina Helmer

After the Xaverian Brothers released a list of brothers facing credible accusations of sexual abuse with minors, the leader of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP) in Louisville hopes it leads to more accountability and justice for the victims.

St. Xaverian High School in Louisville released a letter to alumni and school families last week, which included a list of 14 brothers who have ties to the school dating back to the 1930s and who are also accused of abusing minors.

Cal Pfeiffer, the local leader of SNAP who graduated from St. X in 1966, said he was never abused there, and he never witnessed any abuse. However, he said it was heartbreaking and felt personal reading the letter from the school.

“Come to find out, two of the brothers were there when I was there,” Pfeiffer said.

Pfeiffer now supports and fights for victims of abuse within the Catholic Church. He believes people are starting to “finally realize this is a huge crisis.”

And that’s why he said just releasing a list of names is not enough. He said St. X, the Xaverian Brothers and the Catholic Church need to be held accountable. The letter does not state if or how anyone was punished, leaving Pfeiffer with lingering questions.

Catholic priest, Father Andrew Manetta, accused in new molestation case

HAGATNA (GUAM)
Pacific Daily News

July 17, 2019

By Steve Limtiaco

A man who took confirmation classes at the Chalan Pago church in the mid-1980s, when he was a teenager, has accused Father Andrew Manetta, who was parish priest at the time, of sexually assaulting him during a sleepover.

The man, identified in Superior Court of Guam documents by the initials L.L.L., has asked for at least $5 million in damages from the Capuchin Franciscans, Manetta's religious order.

According to the lawsuit, Manetta molested L.L.L. when he and another boy slept over at the priest’s residence to help prepare for a swimming outing for the confirmation class.

It states Manetta caught the two boys smoking marijuana, then smoked a marijuana joint himself and gave the boys wine.

Followers of accused priest Monsignor Harrison show their support with new signs

BAKERSFIELD (CA)
Bakersfield Californian

July 16, 2019

By John Cox

Signs of support for accused priest Father Craig Harrison are beginning to pop up around Bakersfield.

At least 200 corrugated plastic signs stating "We support Monsignor Craig Harrison" were given out recently at the store on 18th Street where his adopted son works, prompting an order for 100 more.

The black-and-white signs, measuring 12 inches by 18 inches, have been posted in front of at least a few local businesses since they were first made available last weekend.

One such business is H. Walker’s Mens Clothing & Accessories on 17th Street. Owner Tracy Kiser said she wanted to show her support for a friend and customer.

"We're just proud of who he is and what he's done for our community," Kiser said of Harrison.

The signs were ordered and paid for by local lawyer Dan Raytis, a parishioner at St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church, where Monsignor Harrison worked as pastor until being placed on leave in April over allegations he sexually abused a minor while serving as a priest in Firebaugh. Other accusers have since come forward making similar accusations against Harrison.

Raytis said he and his family alone came up with the idea of having the signs printed. He said the signs speak for themselves.

Readers sound off on Father John Duffell

NEW YORK (NY)
Daily News

July 16, 2019

By Eileen A. Fagan

I am truly shocked that Father John Duffell has been suspended from active priestly service pending an allegation of abuse by an adult in the Archdiocese of New York. Truth be known, those who know Duffell know he is a controversial character. He was always ahead of his time and ready to take on things that others were too timid or lazy to even approach. Because of it, social justice with Gospel values blossomed in New York. We should not forget that for a moment.

I realize the Church has had some 17 years of adverse publicity regarding sexual abuse by priests. Yes, I believe a very small percentage of the allegations against priests are true. However, I also believe that many have been wrongly accused and are suffering from the consequences imposed by the Archdioceses and Dioceses throughout the country. I understand we need to protect and help victims. My question is: Who helps the priests who have wrongfully lost their reputations and have been removed from ministry at a time when the Church needs them so much? Whatever happened to innocent until proven guilty?

Having worked with Duffell for many years, his zeal for the Gospel is relentless. The Catholic Church needs more servants like him, not less. I pray his good name and reputation is returned to him with God’s speed!

Dalton School Should Do Outreach in Wake of Epstein Scandal

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

July 16, 2019

Given the pending prosecution of convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein, officials at the prestigious Manhattan school where he has been accused of inappropriate behavior should immediately start reaching out to find former students and staff that may have seen, suspected or suffered crimes by him. This is the best way that the school can help law enforcement keep Epstein away from other children and can potentially help alumni and drop-outs who might have been hurt and may still be suffering today in silence, shame and self-blame.

We believe this request is simple and straightforward. When institutions like schools and churches hire staff that turn out to be sexual abusers, they must take affirmative steps to help law enforcement prosecute those perpetrators. Schools have mailing lists, websites and other means to contact former staff and students,and now they should use their resources to seek out victims, witnesses and whistleblowers – for both prevention and healing.

Pastor’s wife charged with sexually assaulting student; former congregants celebrate

WASHINGTON (DC)
Christian Post

July 11, 2019

By Leonardo Blair

A pastor’s wife and teacher from Burbank, Illinois, has been arrested and charged after she allegedly supplied alcohol to a 15-year-old student at Jordan Baptist School, a ministry of Jordan Baptist Church, and had sex with him at least five times before it was legal for her to do so.

Shannon Griffin, 49, wife of Pastor Thomas Griffin who led both Jordan Baptist Church and the affiliated school during the period of the crimes, is alleged to have sent nude images to the student she is alleged to have had sex with as well as a 16-year-old boy using Snapchat and asking for illicit images in return, the Chicago Tribune reported.

The pastor’s wife, who some members in her community allege had been abusing underage kids for years, was allegedly pictured in some photos getting into the shower attached to text messages such as “Come on in” and “Missing you,” Assistant State’s Attorney Kyle Gruca told the publication.

The Christian Post reached out to the church for comment Thursday but did not immediately receive a response. Former members protested Sunday in the parking lot and turned away potential worshipers who were in the dark about the alleged crimes that had been taking place at the church.

Apparently most "LGBT folks are on board with pedophillia"

The Slowly Boiled Frog blog

July 16, 2019

By David Carey Hart

One Matthew Hanley has penned LGBT is swiftly being normalized. Pedophilia is next. At another site, the accusation is more direct; titled Adding P to LGBT. Hanley is just one more demented schmuck claiming that LGBT people pose a peril to children. According to the Catholic faith, one should not engage in gay sex. Adherents have some choices to make.

The faith does not require smearing LGBT people as pedophiles. I know at least one priest who would say that such behavior is discouraged, even sinful. That makes Matthew Hanley a bigoted fool. Does Mr. Hanley have underage fantasies? Does Hanley have repressed gay fantasies? Those questions are perfectly reasonable and appropriate. Homophobia, for example, is bigotry based on one's own sexual insecurities.

Much to their credit, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has issued very strong statements opposing Trump's border policies. If Mr. Hanley is so concerned about the welfare of children, why is he not writing about “kids in cages?”

LifeSiteNews is already on a trajectory to be designated a hate group at the end of 2019. Providing an outlet for the mad ravings of Matthew Hanley is not going to help their cause. They had the common sense to water down Hanley's title but the text is the same.

Follow the money? By all means. But Bransfield scandal may involve some 'Catholic" issues

Get Religion blog

July 16, 2019

By Terry Mattingly

It’s time for another trip into my GetReligion folder of guilt. That’s where news features go that I know are important, but I cannot — quickly — spot the issue that is nagging me.

Thus, the story gets filed away, while I keep thinking about it.

In this case, we are talking about a Washington Post story that is an important follow-up on the newspaper’s investigation into charges of corruption against Catholic Bishop Michael J. Bransfield of West Virginia — an important disciple of the fallen cardinal Theodore “Uncle Ted” McCarrick. Click here for the first GetReligion post on this topic, by Bobby Ross, Jr.

The headline on this new expose states: “Warnings about West Virginia bishop went unheeded as he doled out cash gifts to Catholic leaders.” Yes, this story is about money, money, money and then more money.

Oh, there is some signs of sexual harassment of seminarians in there, but that doesn’t seem to interest the Post team. And there are hints that some of the conflicts surrounding Bransfield may have had something to do with Catholicism. Maybe. Hold that thought because we will come back to it.

The 50 Year Secret: An ABC7 News exclusive documentary

WASHINGTON (DC)
WJLA TV

July 16, 2019

By Reporter Jay Korff and Ryan Eskalis

Documentary Details Former Altar Boy's Never-Before-Told Story Claiming Once Prominent Priest was a Serial Pedophile.

The Catholic Diocese of Arlington and the Catholic Diocese of Richmond released in February of 2019 their list of priests credibly accused of child sex abuse.

The Diocese of Arlington did so “in the hope that providing such a list might help survivors of clergy sexual abuse find further healing and consolation.”

Father William Reinecke, one of the highest-ranking members of the clergy in our region in the last half century, was among those listed.

After speaking with one of his survivors we realized that a much larger, never-before -old story of widespread, serial pedophilia involving Reinecke may exist. And while we can’t prove it, there are also strong suggestions of a cover-up in Father Reinecke’s case. Officials with the Diocese of Arlington strongly deny these suggestions. Officials with the Diocese of Richmond declined to answer any questions for this story.

So, we decided to dig deeper. After more than five months of investigating we unraveled Father Reinecke’s haunting past with the help of people close to him: a former priest, a survivor of Reinecke’s abuse and a witness to Reinecke’s grooming tactics and abuse. The latter, Kelley Arnold, is the keeper of The 50 Year Secret.

What we uncovered, revealed in a series of stories called The 50 Year Secret, we hope will help victims heal, hold the powerful accountable and illustrate the very real danger children still face today across America.

What does Varadkar really think of priests?

DUBLIN (IRELAND)
Irish Times

July 16, 2019

Fr. Brendan Hoban

The recent Dáil exchange in which Taoiseach Leo Varadkar compared Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin to “one of those parish priests who preaches from the altar telling us to avoid sin while secretly going behind the altar and engaging in any amount of sin himself” came as something of a shock.

The immediate reaction was one of surprise and confusion. What was this about? Was Varadkar just tired after a hectic schedule in Brussels? Was he just being smart-assed and playing to the gallery? Or was it that in the heat of the moment the truth came out?

Did we glimpse the real Varadkar, instead of the carefully-constructed media image of a leader happy and privileged to lead the very disparate communities that make up the new Ireland? Was this indicative of what he really thought of the Catholic Church and of priests?

The widespread condemnatory response to his comments was immediate and strong. The reason, I think, was that what he seemed to be saying was not just that the church had a lot to answer for (as we do); or that we should apologise for our failings (which we have) but that behind the facade of condemnation priests were living lives that contradicted what they were preaching.

Richmond Catholic Diocese suspends Roanoke-raised priest

RICHMOND (VA)
WFIR Radio

July 16, 2019

By Evan Jones

The Catholic Diocese of Richmond has suspended a Norfolk priest who graduated from Roanoke Catholic School, was an altar server at St. Andrews Church and held his first priestly assignment there. Diocesan officials say the suspension of Joseph Metzgar the Third followed recent accusations that he violated the code of conduct with minors. The news release did not offer details, but it did say the violations did not involve sexual abuse.

From the Catholic Diocese of Richmond:

Bishop Barry C. Knestout has suspended the priestly faculties of Father Joseph H. Metzger III effective Friday, July 12, 2019.

On July 5, 2019, a complaint was sent to the Diocesan Office of Safe Environment regarding a recent violation of the Diocese’s Code of Conduct with Minors. (Link to CDR Code of Conduct with Minors: https://richmonddiocese.org/mcoc).

While the complaint does not involve an accusation of sexual abuse, in accordance with diocesan policy and practice, the complaint was reported to law enforcement. Following an inquiry into the complaint by the Office of Safe Environment and consultation with the Diocesan Review Board, Bishop Knestout met with Fr. Metzger and suspended his priestly faculties.

The suspension means Fr. Metzger cannot present himself publicly as a priest, wear clerical attire, administer the sacraments or celebrate Mass publicly, nor is he to have any interaction with minors or youth.

'The 50 Year Secret' - Q&A and Reporter's Notebook

WASHINGTON (DC)
WJLA TV

July 16, 2019

By Jay Korff

This Q&A time line begins February 13, 2019 when the Diocese of Arlington and Diocese of Richmond released their lists of priests credibly accused of child sex abuse. My questions , responses and key dates are in bold. Church answers are not in bold. My remarks are in italics. You’ll find the more questions asked the more revealing answers we got. Some sections below were edited for brevity.

Feb 13, 2019 with Diocese of Arlington
Since this was my first day on this story I quickly reached out to officials with both Dioceses and confirmed the names on the list. Our focus wasn’t on one specific priest, yet.

Question: Were there any priests moved around from one diocese to another?

Response: Since 2002 we have implemented a zero-tolerance policy in which anyone with a credible accusation of sexual abuse of a minor is permanently removed ministry. When the initial allegation is received, it is reported to law enforcement immediately. Prior to the adoption of the Charter for the Protection of Youth and Young People in 2002 there was not a consistent standard for managing allegations of sexual abuse of minors.

Question: Where did these priests serve?

Response: For today’s announcement, we did not pull together all assignment histories. If you are looking to ask a specific question about a particular parish, I’ll look into it for you.

Question: When did the process begin?

Response: In late September, 2018. The examiners were two former FBI special agents that were contracted by the Diocese, given full access to all files and information related to clergy, and performed a thorough review to assist the Diocese in its publishing of a list of priests who are credibly accused of sexual abuse of a minor.

Question: How many were criminal cases?

Response: Allegations regarding Krafcik and Brooks were the only cases for which criminal charges were brought by law enforcement.

"Piles of cash" and passport with fake name found during raid of Jeffrey Epstein's NYC home

NEW YORK (NY)
CBS News

July 15, 2019

By Brian Pascus

Federal prosecutors revealed in court on Monday that authorities found "piles of cash," "dozens of diamonds," and an expired passport with Jeffrey Epstein's picture and a fake name during a raid of his Manhattan mansion earlier this month.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Alex Rossmiller revealed at a bail hearing that the bogus passport, issued in the 1980s, listed a Saudi Arabia residence and has a photo of Epstein but a different name, CBS News' Cassandra Gauthier reported from the courtroom. Prosecutors also cited a mysterious lack of financial records.

Epstein was arrested in New York on July 6 and charged last week with sex trafficking and sex trafficking conspiracy. He is alleged to have abused dozens of underage girls as young as 14 over a number of years. Monday's hearing concluded with Judge Richard Berman saying he needed more time before making a decision as to whether Epstein would be granted bail. He is expected to announce his decision on Thursday.

Day five of the Miguel Luna trial is expected to start back up Monday morning

EL PASO (TX)
CBS4

July 15, 2019

By Holly Bock

Monday marks day five of the Miguel Luna trial. It is set to begin at 9 a.m. in the El Paso County Courthouse with Judge Maria Sales-Mendoza.

The Miguel Luna case dates back to the 1990s, while he was an active priest. He is accused of sexually assaulting young girls for several years.

During Friday’s testimony, Luna admitted to fathering a child with a prostitute in Juarez around the same time. Luna says he took money from a church in El Paso to buy groceries for that child and the mother.

One of his alleged victims testified Luna got her pregnant and that she had a miscarriage. She said it started when she was 11 and lasted until she was 17. A second woman claims Luna got her pregnant and that she had an abortion.

Column: When a sexual predator’s crimes rely on an entourage

CHICAGO (IL)
Chicago Tribune

July 12, 2019

By Mary Schmich

It often takes a village to help a sexual predator stalk his victim.

Bill Cosby had a village. Larry Nassar had a village. So did the abusive clergy of the Catholic Church. All these predators relied for years on a community of people who actively enabled their predations or who conveniently looked away.

If the charges are to be believed, R. Kelly and Jeffrey Epstein had their villages too.

We often talk and think of sexual predators as lone wolves but the rich and famous, I’m guessing, never are. Look at what we’ve seen in the past week alone.

The singer R. Kelly was indicted twice — in Chicago and New York — on federal charges related to his alleged abuse of girls and women. The indictments aren’t the first he has faced, but this time they go further than one man.

Xaverian Brothers Release Names Of Members Accused Of Abuse

BALTIMORE (MD)
CBS/AP

July 14, 2019

A Baltimore-based Catholic religious order that sponsors schools across the U.S. has released a list of dozens of members accused of sexually abusing children.

The list released Friday by the Xaverian Brothers includes two current members “with a credible or established offense.” The group, a separate entity not part of the Archdiocese of Baltimore, says no credibly accused brothers are in active ministry.

Eighteen men on the list are dead or former brothers with a credible or established offense. Also named are 14 dead or former brothers against whom there are allegations that couldn’t be “fully investigated” but for which there is a “reasonable possibility” that they occurred.

The Baltimore Sun reports the order’s general superior issued a statement asking forgiveness “for this unspeakable violation of trust.”

Harvard’s Jeffrey Epstein hypocrisy: Harvard drops #MeToo image when donations are at risk

BOSTON (MA)
USA TODAY

July 12, 2019

By Sabrina L. Schaeffer

Now that financial mogul Jeffrey Epstein is charged with sex trafficking girls — including minors as young as 14 years old — his relationship to Harvard University and Harvard's hypocrisy and failure to respond adequately to the Epstein scandal deserves our attention.

Epstein did not attend Harvard. Nor is he a faculty member. In fact, he doesn’t have a college degree. But for decades he has been a substantial supporter of Harvard’s programming, faculty, and social institutions. Prior to his 2008 plea deal in Florida, Epstein made sizeable grants to the university, including a $6.5 million donation in 2003 to the university's Program for Evolutionary Dynamics and additional pledges of up to $30 million. During this period, he supported several professors and he frequently described himself as a “Harvard investor.”

After Epstein was charged with soliciting sex in 2006, Harvard’s interim president made clear — as reported in The Harvard Crimson — that the university would not return his gift. He added that only in “extreme cases” would the university refuse contributions from questionable sources. But that prompts the question: Does Harvard not consider involvement in sex-trafficking girls to be an “extreme case?”

Sexual Assault Allegation Surfaces About Nominee for Joint Chiefs Vice Chairman

UNITED STATES
Defense One

July 2019

By Marcus Weisgerber

Cleared by Air Force investigators, Gen. Hyten may yet face questions during his Senate confirmation process.

An allegation of sexual assault — though found baseless by Air Force investigators — could complicate the Senate confirmation of a top general slated to become the U.S. military’s No. 2 officer.

The accused is Gen. John Hyten, who leads U.S. Strategic Command and has been formally nominated to become the next Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Air Force officials opened an investigation into the alleged incident, which took place sometime between late 2017 and early 2018, according to multiple defense and congressional aides familiar with the matter.

Hyten was cleared by “a comprehensive investigation by the Air Force Office of Special Investigations,” Pentagon spokesman Col. DeDe Halfhill wrote in a Wednesday statement to Defense One. “There was insufficient evidence to support any finding of misconduct on the part of Gen. Hyten,” who cooperated with the investigation, Halfhill said.

NYPD let convicted pedophile Jeffrey Epstein skip judge-ordered check-ins

NEW YORK (NY)
New York Post

July 10, 2019

By Elizabeth Rosner, Tina Moore, Larry Celona and Bruce Golding

Convicted pedophile Jeffrey Epstein never once checked in with city cops in the eight-plus years since a Manhattan judge ordered him to do so every 90 days — and the NYPD says it’s fine with that.

After being labeled a worst-of-the-worst, Level 3 sex offender in 2011, Epstein should have reported in person to verify his address 34 times before he was arrested Saturday on federal child sex-trafficking charges.

Violating requirements of the state’s 1996 Sex Offender Registration Act — including checking in with law enforcement — is a felony punishable by up to four years in prison for a first offense.

Subsequent violations carry a sentence of up to seven years each.

Father Adrian Cristobal, accused of sex abuse in Guam, is missing after leaving Phoenix

PHOENIX (AZ)
Arizona Republic

June 15, 2018

By Jerod MacDonald-Evoy

Father Adrian Cristobal, who was on sabbatical in Phoenix until recently and is accused of sexually abusing two boys more than 20 years ago in Guam, has not returned to the island as ordered by the church.

Two men filed separate civil suits in federal court in Guam in April and May accusing Cristobal of sexual abuse.

Cristobal had arrived in Phoenix in December 2017 for sabbatical with a letter of good standing, the Phoenix Diocese said in a written statement to The Arizona Republic. He did not have an assignment and the Phoenix Diocese said it removed his faculties, or his ability to perform church sacraments, after the first suit was filed in April.

Why Are Judges So Concerned About the Future Potential of Rapists?

UNITED STATES
Rolling Stone

July 9, 2019

By EJ Dickson

A judge in New Jersey sparked outrage by giving a 16-year-old alleged sexual abuser a slap on the wrist, citing his sterling academic record

In 1989, members of the Glen Ridge, New Jersey football team raped a 17-year-old girl in the basement of one of the boys’ houses. The girl had an intellectual disability, and was later reported to have an IQ of about 64. The boys took turns orally and vaginally penetrating her, and then penetrated her with a broom and a baseball bat, both of which were covered in baggies coated with Vaseline. One of them said they should stop, a suggestion that was ignored. The boys then told the girl not to tell anyone, then told her to leave. The incident was only reported to the police when a teacher overheard one of the boys bragging to another student that they were planning to coax a repeat performance out of the girl, which they planned to videotape.

Jury finds former El Paso priest guilty in sexual assault trial

EL PASO (TX)
CBS 4 News

July 15, 2019

By Justin Kree

A jury has found former El Paso priest Miguel Luna guilty on all 12 counts of sexual assault of a minor.

Closing arguments took place and a third victim testified on Monday, saying Luna raped her.

In closing arguments, the state told jurors Luna used his position to sexually assault and that religion had nothing to do with the incident and told them that God was used to groom and rape the victim.

The defense told the jurors that the testimonies and timeliness don't add up and asked the jurors to listen to the facts.

Another victim has taken the stand this morning saying that she was raped by former El Paso priest Miguel Luna after coming back from Juarez one summer night in 1990.

The third victim claims Luna raped her after a night of dinner and dancing in Juarez back in 1990. She said she was 30 years old when she was raped by Luna, unlike the other victims.

She testified that she met Luna when she worked as a secretary at St. Pius X. Church.

She said she would associate with Luna at parish functions and talked about their mutual love for dancing.

Luna asked the victim if she would go to dinner and dancing.

The defense argued the victim was divorced and dressed that night to impress Luna.

She knew Luna liked her and said he often told her, “I would leave the priesthood to be with you.”

The victim said she made it very clear to Luna that she looked at him like a brother and was not interested in him.

The victim claimed when Luna dropped her off that night, he pushed his way into her house, pushed her on the living room floor and raped her.

The victim said she ran into the bathroom to shower because she felt “dirty” and told Luna to leave her house.

She claimed she didn’t tell anyone that night but eventually told her mom and boyfriend — but never filed a police report.

Kelley Arnold - The Witness

WASHINGTON (DC
WJLA TV

July 15, 2019

by Jay Korff

Kelley Arnold grew up in Old Town Alexandria. Arnold says a significant part of his childhood revolved around the church he and his family attended: St. Mary Catholic Church, now the Basilica of St. Mary.

Father William Reinecke began working at St. Mary when Arnold was a young teenager. Arnold says Father Reinecke was beloved and respected by parishioners. So, when Reinecke invited minor boys on overnight, out of town trips, Arnold insists no one, initially, suspected Reinecke was a serial pedophile.

Arnold, in chilly detail, now tells the never heard before stories of Father Reinecke’s grooming and eventual sexual assault of boys. Arnold’s heartfelt story of regret reveals the method of a deranged yet trusted religious leader. He hopes by coming forward others will get the help they need.

Thirteen-year-old Kelley Arnold was an altar boy at St. Mary Catholic Church in Alexandria, Virginia in the mid-to-late 1960s.

The newly ordained Father William Reinecke was his priest. Arnold says Father Reinecke quickly formed friendships with children.

12 with ties to St. John's Prep on sex abuse list

SALEM (MA)
Salem News

July 16, 2019

By Ethan Forman

Twelve men who were at one time associated with St. John's Preparatory School are on a list released Friday of current or former Xaverian Brothers members with "a credible allegation of sexual abuse of a minor against them."

The Xaverian Brothers, a Baltimore-based Roman Catholic order that sponsors 13 schools including St. John's Prep, released 34 names, dating back decades. The 12 associated with St. John's Prep were in Danvers at some point between 1922 and 1978.

Among them is Thomas Morrissey, also known as Brother Gabriel, who worked at the school from 1965 to 1967. Morrissey is listed as a current Xaverian Brother "with a credible or established offense against a minor" and has been "placed on a safety plan with no contact with minors," according to the order.

Safety plans are described as "restrictions on behavior, including the use of technology, travel, and access by visitors."

The allegations of abuse and attempted abuse against Morrissey were first reported in 2002 and date back to his time at both St. John's Prep and at the Xaverian Brothers High School in Westwood, where he worked from 1967 to 1979.

“We understand that the information we are releasing today cannot undo the damage caused by some of our brothers, but we hope this confession, our repentance and our apology will provide some peace for survivors of abuse and allow our community to begin to heal," said General Superior Brother Edward Driscoll, in a letter provided by the Xaverian Brothers. "We humbly ask forgiveness for this unspeakable violation of trust.”

Letter to Bishop Johnston from KC SNAP

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

July 16, 2019

Dear Bishop Johnston:

To help victims and Catholics heal, to help protect kids and to help deter future wrongdoing, we're respectfully asking you to use your new powers to restrict the public ministries of Bishop Robert Finn and Bishop Joseph Hart.

Finn has been deemed, in a civil court, guilty of refusing to report known or suspected child sex crimes.

Hart has been deemed, by his successor, a "credibly accused" child molester, with abuse reports in Wyoming and Missouri, by at least ten individuals.

Both have returned to Kansas City, sometimes appearing in public, which has prompted concern and consternation by still-suffering victims and still-betrayed Catholics.

We believe that long ago you could and should have used your bully pulpit, quiet influence and existing powers to dissuade or prevent Finn and Hart from appearing in your diocese. But now, with the powers recently given to you by the US Conference of Catholic Bishops, you have no excuse for not protecting the safety and feelings of your flock, and deterring future crimes and cover-ups, by banning these two disgraced prelates from your jurisdiction.

We would ask you to consider one simple question: Why take the risk? Why chance making even one more person who was raped, sodomized or fondled as a child by a cleric feeling outraged or fearful or disgusted when he or she sees Hart or Finn presiding at a Catholic function in Kansas City? Why run the risk that even one more wounded Catholic, who is faith is on shaky ground, feeling betrayed and disappointed and hurt again when they see the activities of other disgraced prelates (Cardinal Roger Mahoney, Cardinal Theodore McCarrick) being restricted while the activities of Hart and Finn are not?

The rise of EWTN: from piety to partisanship

KANSAS CITY (MO)
National Catholic Reporter

July 16, 2019

By Heidi Schlumpf

On Memorial Day, viewers who tuned into EWTN's News Nightly for "news from a Catholic perspective" were treated to two previously recorded one-on-one interviews by anchor Lauren Ashburn.

In the first, a 10-minute sit-down with Mike Pence during his March visit to Ave Maria University in Florida, the vice president bashed "media elites and Hollywood liberals," called Democrats "the party of abortion on demand, even the party of infanticide" and described President Donald Trump as "the most pro-life president in American history."

In the second interview, Ashburn served up softball questions for 11 minutes with former White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders. The EWTN anchor gushed about the latest unemployment numbers and asked why the mainstream media hasn't given more coverage to this accomplishment, held up a devotional book she learned Sanders reads daily before asking about religious liberty, and ended with a query about her favorite ice cream. (It's mint chocolate chip.)

As part of a question that cited a poll showing white Catholics were holding a 44 percent favorable approval rating for Trump, Ashburn pointed out: "And I would just say that 44 percent number could be a lot higher if he came on to News Nightly."

"We'll work on that," Sanders responded with a laugh.

The segment was clear evidence of how a television outlet once devoted to expressions of Catholic piety and conservative catechesis and apologetics has grown into a truly influential media empire, well connected to Republican politicians and the Trump White House. EWTN, where the "Catholic perspective" is unabashedly partisan, has also become the media star in a web of connections including wealthy conservative Catholic donors and some of the most public anti-Pope Francis forces in the Catholic world. Those connections, traceable through a maze of non-profit organizations, helped fuel EWTN's development. It is a complex tale involving the matchup of a peculiar brand of U.S. style conservative Catholicism with conservative political ideology and economic theory.

NCR made repeated requests over nearly a week for comment from EWTN, but the network said it was unable to produce anyone to answer questions before publication.

July 15, 2019

Boarding School for Missionary Kids Uncovers Dozens of Abuse Allegations

WASHINGTON (DC)
Religion News Service

July 15, 2019

Those allegations include faculty physically and sexually abusing students mostly in the 1960s and 1970s, though a representative for a school alumni group said she is aware of cases as early as the late 1950s and as recent as the 1990s.

A written statement on the school’s website from Anda Foxwell, head of school, said the alleged abuse reportedly occurred “a quarter to a half century ago.”

But, Foxwell wrote, the Christian Academy in Japan admits that “as a school, CAJ did not provide the nurturing and caring environment for children that we should have provided.

“This is not the school CAJ is now. We renounce a culture of silence that suppressed the truth, which prohibited children from being heard in their suffering. We acknowledge that students were vulnerable to the way staff members used their power against them in ways that were hurtful and harmful, and we want to express our deep grief over learning about the pain some children endured,” the statement reads.

The investigation comes after former students began connecting and sharing stories about their experiences at the school on social media amid the attention given to sexual abuse by #MeToo and similar movements, Foxwell told Religion News Service.

Some of the stories she heard were secondhand, she said. But, she added, “I didn't doubt the experiences.”

The head of school began responding to people individually after she was made aware of their social media posts about two years ago and later posted a letter of apology on the school website, she said. That letter, which caused a stir in the school's alumni community, later was removed from the site over concern it could interfere in the investigation, she said.

Perhaps the letter was “naïve,” Foxwell admitted.

“But I was really hoping to address the concerns and express just sorrow over what people experienced,” she said.

Tom Doyle - The Truth Seeker

WASHINGTON (DC)
WJLA TV

July 15, 2019

If you ask Tom Doyle to describe himself he would say a former priest and Catholic Church attorney who now helps priest sex abuse survivors by testifying in court cases as an expert on the policies and practices of the Church. Doyle also consults for states and nations investigation child sex abuse.

In a sense, Doyle is a whistle blower for how the Catholic Church used to, and presently, operates.

He says leadership within the Catholic Church is doing much better in terms of preventing pedophile priests from abusing and helping abuse survivors get help. But he says the lies continue and for that reason shared his thoughts with ABC7 News for The 50 Year Secret.

Tom Doyle was an active priest from 1970 to 2004. He also served as a US Air Force Chaplain for nearly 20 years.

Doyle now testifies on behalf of abuse survivors and consults for states and nations investigated priest sex abuse. He's certified expert on Canon Law.

“I have been involved in this, directly involved since the very beginning and no one else has. I was involved in the middle, in the inside of the Roman Catholic Church. I worked at the Vatican Embassy.”

Doyle was an attorney for the Catholic Church in the 1980s.

During that time, he looked at widespread allegations of priest sex abuse in a Louisiana diocese that erupted in scandal.

Norfolk priest suspended of ‘priestly faculties’ due to complaints

NORFOLK (VA)
News Channel 3

July 15, 2019

By Julia Varnier

The former pastor of Blessed Sacrament Catholic Church has been suspended of ‘priestly faculties’ after complaints were made against him that went against the Diocese’s Code of Conduct with Minors.

In December 2018, Joseph H. Metzger III took a leave of absence amid non-sexual complaints against him, Richmond Diocese Bishop Barry Knestout wrote in a letter to members of the parish.

On July 5, another complaint was sent to the Diocesan Office of Safe Environment regarding a recent violation of the Diocese’s Code of Conduct with Minors.

While the complaint does not involve an accusation of sexual abuse, in accordance with diocesan policy and practice, the complaint was reported to law enforcement.

After an investigation conducted by the Office of Safe Environment and consultation with the Diocesan Review Board, Bishop Barry Knestout met with Metzger and suspended his priestly faculties.

Gaylord Grace Baptist pastor, founder resigns after months of controversy

GAYLORD (MI)
Herald Times

July 15, 2019

By Arielle Breen

The Gaylord Grace Baptist Church founding pastor is eaving after 33 years in the region’s ministry.

An announcement on the church’s website shows Jon Jenkins resigned as pastor of Grace Baptist Church July 7 to take a position as pastor at a North Carolina Baptist church.

“As the founder and visionary of Grace, Pastor Jenkins’ leadership has guided our church family through storms, trials, challenges, deaths and hardships — but also through prosperity, new life, expansions and a level of growth rarely seen in such a rural area,” reads part of the church’s announcement.

This move comes after months of attention over accusations and criminal sexual conduct cases that have surfaced with ties to the church and its school dating back about 17 years.

In a previous Herald Times story, Jenkins commented on instances of abuse or alleged abuse involving former teachers. Jenkins said he had reported two of the school’s former teachers to police for sexual abuse of students years ago.

Jenkins said he reported former teacher Aaron Willand to Michigan State Police, and later, another former teacher to the Otsego County Sheriff’s Department.

Willand was convicted in Washington state of raping a child and child molestation in 2006. The survivor, now an adult, is also seeking charges in Otsego County for abuse she said also occurred in Michigan. Willand has not been charged in Michigan.

Jenkins said he also reported former teacher David Beckner to the Otsego County Sheriff’s Department in 2011. Eight criminal sexual conduct charges have been officially filed by Otsego County courts against Beckner. The case was bound over to Otsego County’s 46th Circuit Court Thursday.

The sheriff’s department showed no records of Grace Baptist reporting either former teacher to police.

Herald Times’ Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests for Michigan State Police reports filed by Grace Baptist show no police reports filed by Grace Baptist with any references to Aaron Willand or David Beckner.

Clark Martin, a former congregation member and volunteer bus driver, was convicted of criminal sexual conduct against a former Grace Baptist student in 2002 and 2003. According to Otsego County court records from that case, Martin had also molested another youth, a 12-year-old boy, in St. Clair County in 1966.

Martin also pleaded guilty in May to criminal sexual conduct charges for allegedly molesting a teen boy in 1991 and 1992.

Jeffrey Epstein and His Enablers Are Evil, But Not Special: He’s Just the Latest Example of a Toxic Culture for Children

Verdict Justia blog

July 15, 2019

By Marci Hamilton

Jeffrey Epstein’s sex trafficking scheme that entrapped dozens of teenage girls is disgusting. But let’s be honest: this is just another example of a poisoned culture that protects adults over child well-being. This isn’t news—it’s a call to action against a toxic culture for children.

One person alone could not have accomplished the full scope of Epstein’s scheme. You need help to successfully abuse dozens and hundreds of children, and everyone needs to pitch in to make it a success.

Epstein had it all.

First, he worked with people who looked the other way. When his career started, Epstein taught at the highly regarded Dalton School, where he left strong clues that there is something not quite right about the way he deals with girls. He later had employees cooperate by scheduling victims to be when and where he wanted them, according to the federal indictment recently unsealed in New York.

Second, he had willing pilots for a plane dubbed the “Lolita Express.” I guess they never read the book?

Third, he had powerful buddies to partake in his jetset, party lifestyle in Palm Beach, New York, a private Caribbean island, and his other homes. It is simply a fact that Presidents (Trump and Clinton), were in the mix along with Britain’s Prince Andrew, former Harvard Law Professor Alan Dershowitz, and many others. Even when people knew he was a registered sex offender, following his release from prison, he was welcomed back to high society with open arms, and that includes women as well as men, conservatives and liberals alike. Even journalists accepted his hospitality like Katie Couric and George Stephanopoulos, and universities eagerly welcomed his philanthropy. Yet, it appears that no one sought out his victims to unravel this story until Miami Herald investigative reporter Julie Brown doggedly pursued it.

Becky Ianni - The Survivor

WASHINGTON (DC)
WJLA TV

July 15, 2019

By Jay Korff

Becky Ianni, a spokesperson for SNAP in the D.C. region and a child sex abuse survivor, gave ABC7 News access to the recording she made of her Diocese of Arlington Review Board Hearing in 2007. This recording is equal parts revelatory and heartbreaking. The Diocese of Arlington eventually ruled that Ianni’s abuse allegations against Monsignor William Reinecke were credible.

Ianni is permitting us to air parts of her testimony to help survivors find the strength to come forward and for institutions, like the Catholic Church, to understand more completely the horrors unleashed by abusive members of the clergy on generations of children.

Becky Ianni is a spokesperson for SNAP, Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, in the Washington, D.C. region.

Ianni attended St. Mary Catholic Church in Alexandria, Virginia as a child.

She says Father William Reinecke, new to the parish in the mid-1960s, sexually abused her for years.

In 2007, Ianni appeared before the Diocese of Arlington Review Board to testify about her torment so Father Reinecke’s abuse would be deemed credible by church leaders.

She recorded her testimony.

“Well, I just wanted to start off by saying that it is really, really hard for me to be here," Ianni says in the recording.

“He was our friend," she says. "He was just always there and we always thought so much of him.”

Lawyer for abuse victims demands New York Archdiocese release ‘predator priest’ data

NEW YORK (NY)
New York Post

July 15, 2019

By Allie Griffin and Natalie O'Neill

A lawyer representing childhood victims of alleged sex abuse on Monday demanded the Archdioceses of New York release “secret files” on “predator priests” — before a one-year statute of limitations rule expires.

“We’re launching a petition today to demand that the Church of New York, all the Catholic Dioceses, release their secret files that contain important information on predator priests,” said Jeff Herman, an attorney representing the victims in a class action lawsuit against the archdiocese.

In the yet-to-be released documents, more than 500 priests have been identified as child abusers, Herman said.

“That’s the tip of the iceberg,” he proclaimed. “There’s probably over a thousand priests there may be files on.”

It’s important that the archdioceses move swiftly in releasing the files due to the New York Child Victims Act, which recently created a one-year window allowing victims of sex abuse to file civil suits without dealing with state statute of limitations rules.

“It’s important so that they can evaluate and learn whether or not they can file claims and finally seek justice under this new law,” he said.

In April, the Archdiocese of New York released a list of 120 clergy who it said have been “credibly accused” of sexually abusing a minor.

Catholic Group’s Response: Not a Dime to the Diocese

WHEELING (WV)
The Intelligencer.net

July 12, 2019

By Alan Olson

Following an open letter to Archbishop William Lori and the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston, a group of Catholics have declared their intent to withhold funds to the diocese after failing to receive a measured response.

The letter can be found here: Catholic-Response

Last month, Lay Catholic Voices for Change, an organization comprised of Catholics from north-central West Virginia, sent an open letter to Lori addressing what they saw as numerous issues with the structure of the church, as well as their proposed solutions and a call for increased parishioner participation in clerical matters. The letter requested a response by June 28, which did not come.

The letter and its demands came following an investigation into former bishop Michael Bransfield that found excessive spending and credible claims of sexual harassment against adults.

“We set forth in our June 12 letter a variety of remedial actions you and the Diocese could take to repair the trust that has been breached. We wrote to you in good faith,” the organization stated in a follow-up letter dated Tuesday.

“You chose to ignore our letter – in much the same way you and other church leaders ignored or discounted the laity, clergy, and religious who, over the years, cried out for help in ridding ourselves of Michael Bransfield and in much the same way you and other church leaders ignored or discounted the repeated press reports of Michael Bransfield’s improper behavior. … You apparently have so little respect for lay people, you chose not to issue even a pro forma response to our letter. You simply ignored us.”

In response to the silence, LCVC has asked parishioners to participate in a campaign to boycott donations to the diocese, by withholding donations to collections at church; instead, the boycott calls for parishioners to place white envelopes, with their names and the statement “Not a Dime to the Diocese” in the collection basket.

“LCVC is not encouraging withholding of donations to local parishes,” a press release states. “However, parishioners who are concerned about the percentage of the general donation that goes to the Diocese may “earmark” donations toward specific uses in their parishes.”

The boycott is to take place during weekends between July 20 and Aug. 4, with the hope that the diocese commissions a complete, independent audit of the diocese’s finances, one of the goals outlined in LCVC’s open letter.

Lawsuit: Priest raped Barrigada girl in 1970s, told her she's going to heaven for it

HAGATNA (GUAM)
Pacific Daily News

July 15, 2019

By Haidee Eugenio Gilbert

A lawsuit filed on Monday alleges that Father Louis Brouillard, in or about 1974 to 1975, sexually abused and raped a Barrigada girl and told her she's going to heaven for being a "good girl."

The plaintiff, now 55 years old, is identified in federal court documents only by the initials E.A.B. to protect her privacy.

After raping the girl at the Barrigada church's back room, the priest told her "she will never go to hell because she is a good girl and that the devil will never take (her) because she was with a priest and that he will keep the devil away," the lawsuit says.

Brouillard went on to sexually abuse the girl for about two years, including during outings of the Boy Scouts of America at Lonfit River with other boys and girls, the lawsuit says.

Reddit group becomes flashpoint in sex abuse scandal at La Luz del Mundo church

LOS ANGELES ( CA)
Los Angeles Times

July 15, 2019

By Leila Miller

Growing up, Sandra Martinez’s world revolved around La Luz del Mundo church. She shoveled dirt as a teenager to help build a new church in Houston.

Years later, when the church asked congregants to help support their missionaries, Martinez said she and her husband donated the deed to their house and moved into an apartment.

After Martinez, now 37, left the church, she was able to preserve her relationship with her mother, a current member. But that changed in early June, when Naason Joaquin Garcia, the head of the church, known to followers as “the apostle” of Jesus Christ, was arrested and charged with multiple counts of sexual abuse.

Mother and daughter exchanged a heated, long string of texts. They haven’t spoken since. Her mother, who would usually visit Martinez and her children every month, has not come by.

As the church aggressively backs Garcia, former parishioners are quietly wrestling with the news of his arrest. The more than a dozen former members The Times spoke to cited a variety of reasons for leaving a church that had once been so central to their lives, including potential backlash for dating outside of their faith and feeling unaccepted because they were gay. Some said they simply no longer believed in the apostle.

Like Martinez, some former church members have found a sense of community in a Reddit group with more than 800 members, where individuals anonymously discuss developments in a criminal case that has repercussions ranging from Mexico — where La Luz del Mundo was founded — to dozens of countries around the world.

Holy Trinity forged to fight sexual abuse crisis in Catholic Diocese

BUFFALO (NY)
WBFO TV

July 15, 2019

By Marian Hetherly

The Child Victims Act fully becomes New York law on Aug. 14. It is expected to bring a new wave of sexual abuse cases into the light, as the law allows more survivors their day in court. It also adds more urgency to the work currently underway to transform the Buffalo Catholic Diocese into a place of healing for those who have lost faith in the church.

"We're going to find out here just how widespread this issue of child sex abuse is," said Movement to Restore Trust organizer John Hurley.

Canisius College President John Hurley and other lay Catholic leaders organized the Movement to Restore Trust in the fall of last year to ensure the sexual abuse crisis in the church never happens again. In May, the diocese reported its compensation program for survivors awarded 127 people an average of $160,000 each and rejected more than half the claims filed.

"The Child Victims Act engages on Aug. 14. I'm pretty sure a number of the people who did not accept the offer and other people we don't know about yet, I'm pretty sure we'll hear from them," said Bishop Richard Malone, who has led the diocese since 2012.

While the compensation program has ended, Malone has accepted with "general support" a nine-point plan of additional recomendations created by more than 100 Catholics who joined the Movement. The two are now working to make it happen, in a partnership being held up as a model for other dioceses.

"I see their model as both heart and head. They are keenly aware that people are deeply wounded and angry and committed to their church, and so there's a process to care for that. And there's also a process looking at how can we address the leadership culture and the trust rebuilding and the institution of the church moving forward," said Leadership Roundtable CEO Kim Smolik.

Chicago priest removed from duties after sex abuse allegation

CHICAGO (IL)
Associated Press

July 14, 2019

The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Chicago has removed a priest from pastoral duties in the wake of allegations of sexual abuse that took place two decades ago.

In a Saturday letter to members of two South Side parishes, Cardinal Blase Cupich says the Rev. William McFarlane was asked to step aside from ministry after the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services and the Cook County state’s attorney’s office revealed the allegation.

McFarlane formerly worked at the Nativity of Our Lord and St. Gabriel Parish. The archdiocese says Deacon Robert Boharic has been appointed as pastoral coordinator at the parishes.

The archdiocese said it wasn’t known if the person accusing McFarlane was a minor at the time of the alleged abuse in 1997.

How Catholic clergy ruled alongside the 'gay mafia', despots, and rent boys in Latin America

SYDNEY (AUSTRALIA)
Australian Broadcasting Company

July 15, 2019

By Alan Weedon

The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, running from 2013 to 2017, found that 7 per cent of all Australian priests — or 1,880 alleged perpetrators — were accused of child sexual abuse between 1950 and 2010.

It determined that the Australian Church was responsible for "catastrophic failures of leadership" over decades, where civil authorities were actively kept away from numerous allegations of abuse in parishes around the country.

For survivors of child sexual abuse, reading the details of crimes can provoke a wide range of emotions. We spoke to experts about how to deal with triggering, traumatic news.

In March 2019, one of the Vatican's highest-ranked officials, Cardinal George Pell, was prosecuted for the sexual abuse of two choirboys, which seemed to mark an apex in Australia's civil reckoning of the clergy's crimes.

However, for Frédéric Martel, a French journalist and author, the prosecution of Pell is just the tip of a global iceberg.

"When I was in Australia some people asked, 'Is the world speaking about Pell?', and I said no," Martel told the ABC.

"Pell is one symptom among many others."

Earlier this year, Martel released In the Closet of the Vatican: Power, Homosexuality, Hypocrisy, a book that maps the presence of homosexuality within the Catholic Church's patriarchal hierarchy.

While it speculates that about 80 per cent of clergy are homosexual — who may or may not act on their desires — the process of writing the book put Martel up against some of the clergy's most egregious crimes.

When he looked into the Latin American Church's late-20th century history, a picture of regional fiefdoms quickly emerged, with Mexico's Marcial Maciel telling one of the Church's darkest stories.

Maciel was the founder of the Legionaries of Christ order in 1941 — a group praised by Pope John Paul II for bringing in a record number of seminarians and money into Church coffers.

But by the end of century, Maciel would be accused of numerous instances of sexual abuse against children and his seminarians that stretched over decades.

By 2010, the Legionaries acknowledged that he had fathered a child with a long-term partner.

In the weeks after the official disclosure, a Mexican attorney alleged that Maciel fathered up to six children, after being asked to litigate on behalf of three of them.

Theology professor and Church historian Massimo Faggioli, who has written extensively about the Church's sexual abuse crisis, told the ABC that cases like Maciel's were the product of a time when the protection and growth of the Catholic brand was paramount.

Trial for former El Paso priest resumes Monday morning

EL PASO (TX)
KFOX14/CBS4

July 15, 2019

By Holly Bock

The Miguel Luna case dates back to the 1990s, while he was an active priest. He is accused of sexually assaulting young girls for several years.

During Friday’s testimony, Luna admitted to fathering a child with a prostitute in Juarez around the same time. Luna says he took money from a church in El Paso to buy groceries for that child and the mother.

One of his alleged victims testified Luna got her pregnant and that she had a miscarriage. She said it started when she was 11 and lasted until she was 17. A second woman claims Luna got her pregnant and that she had an abortion.

Another big moment of the trial so far was when Bishop Mark Seitz of the Catholic Diocese of El Paso was questioned about a phone conversation with Luna.

Seitz showed the courtroom a written statement that he wrote during their phone call in 2017.

The bishop wrote that Luna accused him of having no mercy and ruining his life.

Seitz said Luna insisted that if he were to make this sexual abuse public, it would bring out false accusers, saying there were no other victims.

To Cast Down an Idol

Patheos blog

July 13, 2019

By Mary Paluzzo

I’ve had to walk by the former House of Prayer and Peace several times this summer. It’s on the way to the pool, and Rosie is learning to swim.

I try to walk on the opposite side of the street, because the abusive nun’s only recruit to her self-aggrandizing religious order still lives there. She is not allowed to wear the habit or go by her name in religion anymore, but somehow she got to keep the house.

I have seen her twice.

She wears trousers and has long hair now; she drives a car tiled all over with decals and bumper stickers. Half of these glorify handguns and the Second Amendment, and the other half are about how we should pray the Rosary to end abortion and stop all the killing. Once she was getting out of that car as Rosie and I were walking by, and she started to say hello– but then she realized who I was, and stopped awkwardly.

I pretended I didn’t see and kept walking. I shouldn’t have done that. It wasn’t kind. I ought to have said something. But what?

I have not been up to Franciscan University’s campus in several years, but this week I keep seeing photos of the Portiuncula chapel.

July 14, 2019

Catholic order that operates 5 local high schools publishes list of accused members

BOSTON (MA)
Fox 25 TV

July 14, 2019

The Xaverian Brothers, a Catholic order, has named 34 men accused of sexually abusing children at their high schools dating back to the 1930s. The allegations listed span the course of 50 years, with the most recent ones coming in the 1980s.

The Catholic group operates 13 schools, including five in Massachusetts. Of the men accused at least a dozen are associated with St. John's Preparatory school in Danvers and five with Xavierian Brothers High School in Westwood.

Others worked at Malden Catholic and St. John's High School in Shrewsbury.

The Xaverian Brothers have also issued an apology and are asking for forgiveness for failing to protect the victims.

To view the written apology and see the list of credible allegations, click here.

Christian Brothers under financial pressure after paying $213 million in abuse compensation

AUSTRALIA
Sydney Morning Herald

July 15, 2019

By Farrah Tomazin and Chris Vedelago

The viability of the Christian Brothers is in doubt as the religious order is forced to spend hundreds of millions of dollars to settle an avalanche of compensation claims stemming from decades of child abuse.

The Age can reveal the Christian Brothers’ Australian wing has already spent more than $213 million on victims’ payouts and legal expenses in the past six years, with the order expecting to outlay at least another $134 million in the future.

But as survivors continue to seek compensation under the National Redress Scheme, the Catholic order is relying on massive injections of cash from its regional headquarters to pay out people who were abused in its schools and orphanages.

Figures show that the Christian Brothers spent only $3.6 million on “legal and litigation expenses” in 2013, the year the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse was established.

But this cost ballooned to $134 million in 2018 - nearly nine times what the group’s officials estimated it would be liable to pay for that year.

Despite the blowout, the order insists it will be able to meet its commitments to survivors through the continued “responsible management of our finances''.

Priest list includes affiliation and status

RICHMOND (VA)
The Catholic Virginian

July 14, 2019

The Diocese of Richmond added six priests to its list of clergy with credible and substantiated claims of child sexual abuse, Thursday, June 27.

In a statement released simultaneously with the six names, Bishop Barry C. Knestout said, “As we continue to engage with survivors of abuse and learn more about the history of our diocese, we continue our commitment to transparency. It is my sincere hope that the additions of these individuals will help provide healing for anyone who suffered at their hands.”

These are the priests, their affiliation and status:

• Stanley F. Banaszek, Maryknoll, deceased

• Anthony M. Canu, Third Order Regular Franciscan, deceased

• Patrick J. Cassidy, diocesan, deceased

• Leonardo G. Mateo, extern, Archdiocese of Tagbilaran (Philippines), deceased

• Thomas D. Sykes, Franciscan Friar of Atonement, deceased

• Vincent The Quang Nguyen, extern, Archdiocese of Saigon, Vietnam, unknown

Woman accused of vandalizing Mesa church over sexual abuse allegations

PHOENIX (AZ)
Channel 12 News

July 13, 2019

Kat Durnil allegedly vandalized Mesa Central Christian Church by adhering flyers demanding the church apologize for reportedly covering up sexual abuse allegations.

A woman was arrested last week for allegedly vandalizing a Mesa church by adhering flyers that demanded the church apologize for reportedly covering up sexual abuse allegations.

Kat Durnil was arrested on July 10 on one count of aggravated criminal damage at a place of worship after she allegedly vandalized Mesa Central Christian Church the morning prior.

According to court documents, Durnil and her husband allegedly placed red flyers on the poles in the church's main courtyard, using a substance sprayed from a paint can to adhere them.

Durnil allegedly sprayed the substance and placed the flyers on the poles, the court documents alleged. She is accused of defacing six poles on the church's campus.

Church officials attempted to remove the flyers when they arrived on campus around 6 a.m. that morning, but "due to the adhesive used...it was impossible for anyone to remove them by hand."

The church reportedly had to hire a company to remove the flyers, which caused paint damage to the poles, so another company had to come and paint all of them.

The Latest: Man accused of orphanage sex abuse kept jailed

PHILADELPHIA (PA)
Associated Press

July 12, 2019

The Latest on child sexual abuse charges against a man who founded and ran a Kenyan orphanage (all times local):

4:30 p.m.

An American man accused of sexually abusing four girls who lived in the Kenyan orphanage that he founded will remain behind bars, at least for the next few days.

A federal judge in Philadelphia on Friday ordered 60-year-old Gregory Dow, of Lancaster, Pennsylvania, temporarily detained until a hearing Wednesday on his status.

Federal prosecutors say Dow is a flight risk, noting he left Kenya in 2017, just as police were investigating sex abuse allegations at the Dow Family Children’s Home in Boito.

India toughens law to protect children from sexual abuse

NEW DELHI (INDIA)
Associated Press

July 12, 2019

The Indian government has toughened a law against child sexual abuse and child pornography.

The law amended this week has increased the maximum penalty for child sex abuse to capital punishment from 20 years in prison.

The government also defined child pornography for the first time and made the penalties more stringent, with a maximum punishment up to three years in prison.

The amendments prohibit administering hormones or chemical therapies to children to hasten their sexual maturity for the purpose of sexual intercourse. The updated law clarifies that children are protected from sex abuse even during natural disasters.

Chicago priest removed from duties after sex abuse allegation

CHICAGO (IL)
Associated Press via WGN-TV

July 14, 2019

The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Chicago has removed a priest from pastoral duties in the wake of allegations of sexual abuse that took place two decades ago.

In a Saturday letter to members of two South Side parishes, Cardinal Blase Cupich says the Rev. William McFarlane was asked to step aside from ministry after the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services and the Cook County state’s attorney’s office revealed the allegation.

McFarlane formerly worked at the Nativity of Our Lord and St. Gabriel Parish. The archdiocese says Deacon Robert Boharic has been appointed as pastoral coordinator at the parishes.

The archdiocese said it wasn’t known if the person accusing McFarlane was a minor at the time of the alleged abuse in 1997.

Attempts Sunday to reach McFarlane by telephone for comment were unsuccessful.

Why they’re Catholic: A review of Trent Horn, 'Why We’re Catholic'

UNITED STATES
Christian Post

July 14, 2019

By Randal Rauser

In his 2017 book Why We’re Catholic, Catholic apologist Trent Horn aims to provide a clear, concise, and winsome introduction to the Catholic faith. The book consists of twenty-five short and punchy chapters divided into five sections: truth and God, Jesus and the Bible, The Church and the Sacraments, Saints and Sinners, and Morality and Destiny.

I count Trent a friend and a joint laborer in the cause of Christian apologetics. And as I’ve said before, he is in the very top tier of young Christian apologists. At the same time, I am not a Catholic, so you can expect this review to identify some number of disagreements.

Let’s begin with the points of agreement. As I just said, Horn is a top tier apologist and that means he’s a top tier communicator, one who can dispense with errant arguments and misguided reasoning with a quick and memorable rejoinder. Consider, for example, the tired attempt to marginalize Christian belief with the statement “You’re only a Christian because you were born in a Christian country” (or whatever). Horn retorts,

“If I had been born in India, wouldn’t I be writing a book called Why We’re Hindu instead of Why We’re Catholic? Maybe, but if I had been born in ancient China I might have written a book called Why We Believe the Earth Is Flat.”

In other words, if social location marginalizes our beliefs about God, it also marginalizes our beliefs about nature … and everything else. In this way, Horn handily takes down the objector with a reductio ad absurdum.

Our View: Judge owes apology to man alleging abuse

PORTLAND (ME)
Portland Press-Herald

July 14, 2019

By the Editorial Board

It's not willful blindness that keeps sexual abuse victims from speaking up, and Judge Lance Walker should know better.

It’s been 16 years since The Boston Globe exposed widespread sexual abuse and a culture of coverup within the Roman Catholic Church. Since then, sex assault scandals involving the U.S. military, universities, Hollywood, Congress and a wide array of businesses have reinforced the same two points:

Sexual predators take advantage of people who are less powerful than they are. And they hide in organizations that want to protect their own reputations.

A victim’s relatively low social status, combined with a reasonable expectation of backlash from a threatened institution, makes it difficult for them to tell their story, especially if they are children or were children at the time of their abuse.

It’s not only easy to understand why many child sex abuse victims don’t come forward right away, it but should almost be expected that they won’t, which is why many states including Maine have eliminated the statute of limitations for criminal charges of sexual abuse of a child. By now everyone should know this, but unfortunately, that’s not the case.

Chile ends statute of limitations for sex crimes with underage victims

SANTIAGO (CHILE)
Catholic News Agency

July 13, 2019

Chile has removed the statute of limitation on sex crimes against children and adolescents, though the new law is not retroactive. The move comes in the wake of major controversies about abusive Catholic clergy and attempts at reform in the Catholic Church in Chile.

“Beginning today, the passing of time will never more be an accomplice to those who abuse our children, nor an ally of impunity,” said Chile’s President Sebastian Pinera, a center-right politician who signed the bill into law July 11.

The bill was first proposed in 2010, Reuters reports. Going forward, there will be no statute of limitations on rape, sexual abuse, production of pornographic materials and prostitution where children and adolescents are the victims.

Depending on the crime, previous limitations on prosecution ranged from five to 10 years after the alleged incident.

Legal team helped bring Arthur Perrault to justice

ALBUQUERQUE (NM)
Albuquerque Journal

July 13, 2019

By Kent Walz

Brad Hall and his legal team doggedly pursued notorious child sex abuser Fr. Arthur Perrault.

Hall’s work helped spur the FBI to investigate decades-old allegations and bring Perrault back to the United States from Africa last fall to face federal criminal charges.

The 81-year-old former pastor of St. Bernadette Parish in Albuquerque was convicted in April of sexually assaulting a parish altar boy on federal property in New Mexico in the early 1990s. A federal court jury found the assaults occurred at the Santa Fe National Cemetery and Kirtland Air Force Base – where Perrault served as a military chaplain.

Face to Face with Brad Hall: Fighting for victims of clergy sex abuse

ALBUQUERQUE (NM)
Albuquerque Journal

July 13, 2019

By Kent Walz

Editor’s note: Albuquerque attorney Brad Hall has represented more than 200 victims of priest sex abuse in New Mexico. As his years-long legal battle nears its conclusion in federal bankruptcy proceedings, Hall talked about the legal and emotional journey that began with an unlikely visit.

Brad Hall was thinking about hanging it up after more than two decades as a successful plaintiff’s lawyer specializing in civil rights cases. Maybe travel. Visit his kids living in exotic locations. Maybe do some writing.

That all changed in 2011 when a former basketball teammate from a county league team in the 1980s walked into his office.

“I hadn’t seen him in 20 years. But in the next three or four hours he told me how as an altar boy he had been sexually assaulted by Fr. George Weisenborn at Saint Francis Xavier in Albuquerque.”

Just telling the story was a gut-wrenching experience for his former teammate.

“Afterward, I watched him go out the door and head towards his car,” Hall said. “He fell to his hands and knees on the sidewalk and vomited.”

It turned out to be Hall’s first case of many representing victims of sexual assault by Roman Catholic priests and clergy in New Mexico. His thoughts of retirement and travel were pushed to the background.

The Archdiocese in Providence, Rhode Island, had sent Weisenborn to the Servants of the Paraclete treatment center in Jemez Springs in 1964.

Dave Peyton: To church members: Suspect something, report it

HUNTINGTON (WEST VIRGINIA)
Herald-Dispatch

July 14, 2019

One of the responsibilities of a columnist is to bell the cat (to borrow a phrase).

But belling some "cats" is unpopular and can get criticism.

One of those "cats" is the church. Even if you aren't a church member, you shy away from criticizing churches, particular Christian churches in all its forms.

A Baptist church pastor in Alabama was arrested recently, just days after after he'd molested at least one young boy from his church.

John Martin, the pastor of Lighthouse Baptist Church, confessed to four counts of sexual abuse. He was arrested on felony sex abuse charges about a week ago, after members of his church reported him to authorities.

How Catholic clergy ruled alongside the 'gay mafia', despots, and rent boys in Latin America

AUSTRALIA
ABC (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)

July 13, 2019

By Alan Weedon

Key points:
- Egregious crimes were perpetrated by some Catholic leaders in Latin America
- This happened during the Cold War, a period where the Church was fighting Communism
- Vatican factional fighting has stymied responses to the crimes of clergy

Over the past few years, Australians have been largely pre-occupied with revelations of decades of misconduct by the country's Catholic Church.

The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, running from 2013 to 2017, found that 7 per cent of all Australian priests — or 1,880 alleged perpetrators — were accused of child sexual abuse between 1950 and 2010.

It determined that the Australian Church was responsible for "catastrophic failures of leadership" over decades, where civil authorities were actively kept away from numerous allegations of abuse in parishes around the country.

Passing the torch: Cardiologist prepares younger colleagues to confront nuclear threat

BOSTON (MA)
Boston Globe

July 12, 2019

By Robert Weisman

It’s lunch hour at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, and the cafe is full of patients and white-coated staffers. At a corner table, Dr. James Muller huddles with junior colleagues discussing a peril that has long preoccupied him: the threat of nuclear war.

“We haven’t yet got the message out to the public,” said Muller, 76, a prominent cardiologist. “It’s a mystery why the presidential candidates are largely silent on this.”

As a young doctor, Muller pressed heads of state to halt weapons-building and spelled out the danger of nuclear arms on Soviet television. He cofounded the International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War at the height of the Cold War. Its work earned him and his colleagues — American and Russian heart specialists — the 1985 Nobel Peace Prize for fueling “an awareness of the catastrophic consequences of atomic warfare,” in the words of the Nobel panel. ...

... When playing guitar and bantering with neighbors at the recent Newton Porchfest, the soft-spoken Muller seems like a man who would be content to spend his afternoons belting out Beatles songs on his porch with his wife, Kathleen, and their grown children. But he has long been drawn to social justice issues. He was founding president of Voice of the Faithful, the Catholic laity reform movement spawned by the clergy abuse crisis, after years of sounding the alarm on nuclear weapons. ...

Everyone knew about Jeffrey Epstein. Nobody cared

BOSTON (MA)
Boston Globe

July 12, 2019

By Renée Graham

Serial sexual abuse takes more than a predilection for predation. It requires enablers, too — both explicit and implicit.

According to published reports, Jeffrey Epstein, a man of seemingly vast and certainly mysterious wealth, had associates who helped recruit teenage girls into his lair of trafficking and sexual assault. He also had friends who knew Epstein was a registered sex offender and accused pedophile, but treated the allegations as little more than a nasty habit best ignored.

In the toniest circles of Manhattan and Palm Beach, the rich and famous flocked to his lavish homes for parties, flew on his planes, and went scuba diving off the coast of his private Caribbean islands. Befriended by former and future presidents, Epstein made contributions to politicians, and burnished his reputation as a philanthropist with major donations to top-notch universities, including Harvard and MIT.

Everyone knew. And except for Julie K. Brown, the intrepid Miami Herald reporter who pursued the Epstein story for two years, few gave a damn.

Xaverian Brothers release names of members credibly accused of abuse

BOSTON (MA)
Boston Globe

July 13, 2019

By Danny McDonald and Alison Kuznitz

The Xaverian Brothers, a Roman Catholic religious order that operates five high schools in Massachusetts, has identified 34 men found to be credibly accused of sexually abusing minors dating back to the early 20th century.

At least a dozen of those named were associated with St. John’s Preparatory School in Danvers and at least five men worked at Xaverian Brothers High School in Westwood. Others taught at Malden Catholic High School and St. John’s High School in Shrewsbury, according to the list.

The Baltimore-based congregation, which operates 13 schools in five states, said the list released Friday was compiled by an independent investigator who reviewed personnel files for the brothers accused of sexual abuse since the early 1900s.

The names were published on its website, along with a letter from Superior General Brother Edward Driscoll apologizing for the actions of the brothers, many of whom are deceased.

“As religious, the Xaverian Brothers are deeply sorry for the pain caused by the crime of sexual abuse of minors committed by any Xaverian Brother,” Driscoll wrote. “We regret not being worthy of the trust of young people. We must confess and repent as we ask forgiveness for the actions of ‘shepherds’ who betrayed this sacred trust and inflicted great suffering.”

The headmasters of Malden Catholic, St. John’s Prep, St. John’s High School, and Xaverian Brothers High School also sent letters to students and alumni on Friday, identifying the brothers named who once taught at their institutions, and outlining steps taken to protect students now enrolled.

At St. John’s Prep, the brothers accused were associated with the school between 1922 and 1978. Ten of the 12 are dead. One, George Gardiner, has left the order and is still alive, and another, Thomas Morrissey, is currently a Xaverian Brother who is on a “safety plan,” according to a letter Headmaster Edward P. Hardiman sent to the school’s community.

Morrissey, known as Brother Gabriel, was associated with the school between 1965 and 1967, and the allegations of abuse are related to his time there, as well as his time working at Xaverian in Westwood, where he was from 1967 to 1979. He also had two different stints at St. John’s High School in Shrewsbury.

According to the letter to the St. John’s Prep community, “any living Brother with a credible allegation of sexual abuse of a minor has been removed from ministry and lives under a closely monitored safety plan.”

Allegations made against half of the 12 men who had ties to St. John’s Prep were connected to their stints at the school, which was founded by the order in 1907.

That group included William Burns, who was known as Brother Francis Jerome and worked at the Danvers school in the early 1930s, the early 1950s, and the early 1960s. Burns was also assigned to Malden Catholic during the 1930s and from 1968 to 1974, Xaverian Brothers High School in Westwood in 1966, and St. John’s High School in Shrewsbury the following year, according to the order.

Also in the group were John Sullivan, who was known as Brother John Augustine and was at St. John’s Prep from 1937 to 1938, Albert Kerressey, who was known as Brother Ricardo and served at the school in the mid-1940s and from 1956 to 1971, Thomas Harrison, who was known as Brother Bosco and served at the school for seven years starting in 1949, Thomas Holihan, who was known as Brother Rudolph and was at the school for more than 40 years starting in 1940; and Morrissey.

With the exception of Morrissey, all of those men are dead, according to the school. Harrison left the Xaverian Brothers before he died.

In Shrewsbury, at St. John’s High School, five of the six accused brothers are dead, with their assignments spanning from 1907 to 1998, according to a letter sent from Headmaster Alex Zequeira, and Christopher Creed, chairman of the school’s trustees.

Woman accuses North Dakota priest of abuse

FARGO (NORTH DAKOTA)
Associated Press

July 11, 2019

By Dave Kolpack

[PHOTO: Kateri Marion, right, appears at a news conference in Fargo, N.D. on Thursday, July 11, 2019, to talk about a civil lawsuit that she plans to file against a former North Dakota Roman Catholic priest and other church officials over alleged sexual abuse. Marion says she came forward publicly to help other alleged victims and give them strength to talk about it. The 33-year-old Marion says the church "was my everything" and she was scared to come forward. One of her lawyers, Tim O'Keefee. is seated to her right. (AP Photo/Dave Kolpack)]

A woman who says she was sexually abused by a Roman Catholic priest in North Dakota said Thursday she is suing the priest for the alleged assault and the Fargo Diocese for failing to protect her.

Kateri Marion choked back tears at a news conference in Fargo Thursday describing the alleged abuse by the Rev. Michael Wight of St. Ann’s Catholic Church in Belcourt, located on the Turtle Mountain Indian Reservation in northeastern North Dakota. She said Wight tried to touch her sexually during confession, tried to massage her back by reaching his hands under her shirt, and gave her a hug when he was sexually aroused.

The Associated Press does not typically identify alleged victims of sexual abuse, but Marion said she hoped that making her case public will help “everyone who has ever been abused in the church and whoever will be abused in the church” and asked them to come forward.

Report claims church leaders long knew about Bransfield accusations

WASHINGTON D.C
Catholic News Service via National Catholic Reporter

July 12, 2019.

By Rhina Guidos

A recent newspaper report details claims that senior church leaders in the United States knew as far back as 2012 about complaints against a West Virginia bishop whose spending habits and recent accusations of sexual misconduct have dogged the body of U.S. bishops at a time when they're seeking a path toward greater accountability for themselves.

A July 3 story in The Washington Post said U.S. and Vatican officials had for years received correspondence from parishioners and others concerned with excessive spending by Bishop Michael Bransfield, the former head of the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston in West Virginia, one of the poorest states in the country.

In total, the newspaper story said, Bransfield spent more than $4.6 million on the bishop's residence, $2.4 million on travel and $350,000 on financial gifts to other churchmen, including some who later investigated him.

The local paper, the Charleston Gazette-Mail, had written stories about the complaints of lavish spending, including one published six years ago on July 7, 2013.

'Filled with God’s compassion and love for us': Community mourns loss of Phoenix priest

PHOENIX (AZ)
Arizona Republic

July 13, 2019

By Claire Rafford

Monsignor Michael O'Grady, a longtime priest in the Diocese of Phoenix, died in his sleep Saturday at his home in Ireland, according to Rob DeFrancesco, a Diocese of Phoenix spokesman. O'Grady was 85.

The diocese said O’Grady was “a humble and generous priest who always had a heart for those in need.”

“His great humor, demeanor, and holiness will be greatly missed,” DeFrancesco said in a statement. ...

... O’Grady, however, was accused of covering up for a fellow priest during the diocese’s sex-abuse scandal. He was accused by at least one victim and his family of failing to act when told that the Rev. Patrick Colleary, an associate at Holy Spirit, was suspected of molesting the child in the late 1970s. The diocese reached a settlement with the victim in 2005.

Vatican’s ’empty tomb’ a challenge to credibility when it matters

ROME (ITALY)
Crux

July 14, 2019

John L. Allen Jr.

Christianity, of course, is founded on the discovery of an empty tomb. Perhaps it’s only fitting, therefore, that Christ’s vicar on earth now has his own “empty tomb” ferment on his hands.

This one, however, almost certainly isn’t a prelude to resurrection, but rather to yet another of what the Italians call a giallo, meaning a mystery story that acts as a magnet for speculation and conspiracy theories.

This Thursday, technicians opened a tomb in a German cemetery on Vatican grounds known as the Campo Teutonico in an effort to locate the remains of Emanuela Orlandi, a 15-year-old girl and daughter of a Vatican employee when she disappeared in 1983, whose fate has been the most enduring giallo in Italian life over the last 35 years. The opening occurred in the presence of members of Orlandi’s family and legal team, the head of the Vatican Gendarmes, and descendants of the supposed occupants of the tombs.

July 13, 2019

Tuam babies just a hoax, says priest

LONDON (ENGLAND)
The Sunday Times

July 14, 2019

By Justine McCarthy

A Catholic priest has said he does not believe babies were buried in sewage chambers at a Tuam mother and baby home run by nuns, even though a state inquiry has ordered an excavation to verify the existence of a mass grave.

“From the word go, I didn’t believe the story,” said Gerry Young, a curate in Greystones, Co Wicklow.

“I happened to have done a bit of study on how the church buried people. As soon as I heard this story about all these little bodies wrapped up on shelves, I thought, ‘Catacombs.’ We’ve always kept the dead with us.”

Why is priest sex abuse often unreported?

WASHINGTON (DC)
WJLA TV

July 12, 2019

By Jay Korff

Survivors and experts who work in the field of child sex abuse will tell you there are many reasons why it’s difficult for some to report priest sex abuse. Denial, fear and shame are just a few of the reasons. So, we asked survivors and experts on this subject why sex abuse is so often unreported or reported decades after occurring.

“I always blamed myself," Becky Ianni says. "I was taught that he was sent by God so therefore God is punishing me. I must be a bad little girl. There must be something that I’ve done and I carried that through adulthood always thinking that I wasn’t a good person. That somehow, even though I did not remember my abuse until I was 48, that feeling of inadequacy was with me my entire life.”

Becky Ianni says Father William Reinecke sexually abused her for years when she went to St. Mary Catholic Church in Alexandria, Virginia.

“I knew that God could read my thoughts and I thought if he knows that this is happening then I’m going to hell so I just buried it until I came across this picture. I was looking through old pictures and I found this picture of myself with him and I started getting sick at my stomach, I started having anxiety attacks and a few days later I started having flashbacks to the abuse,” says Ianni.

The Diocese of Richmond and Arlington spent months deciding who would handle Ianni’s case since her abuser worked for both.

AG's review goes beyond church's list of 'credible' accusations

PROVIDENCE (RI)
Associated Press

July 13, 2019

By Jennifer McDermott

Rhode Island's attorney general said Friday that it will be several more months before he is finished reviewing allegations of sexual abuse by Roman Catholic clergy in the state.

Democrat Peter Neronha said he continues to review allegations of clergy sexual abuse to figure out what happened, what the response was and whether anyone can be held responsible.

Last week, the Roman Catholic Diocese of Providence released a list of 50 clerics, religious order priests and deacons it deems to have been credibly accused of sexually abusing children. The diocese reviewed files dating to 1950.

The list posted on the diocese website includes 19 priests and deacons who are still alive, ranging in age from 60 to 98, although nearly all have been removed from ministry. One priest resigned. The list also includes 25 dead priests and six others, including religious order priests.

Rhode Island is one of the most heavily Catholic states. Bishop Thomas Tobin, in a letter accompanying the list, called its release "a difficult but necessary moment" in the history of the church.

Neronha, who launched his review shortly after taking office this year, said the diocese's list is a subset of the allegations. He's looking at all allegations, not just those deemed credible by the church, and reviewing disclosures made by the diocese to law enforcement, criminal and civil cases and complaints to police.

SNAP Calls for the Protection of Migrant Children

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

July 13, 2019

The abuse of children is not a political topic. People from every party or political leaning can agree that children should be safe, protected, and allowed to live their lives free of abuse and the negative, lifelong effects that can come with it. This is an American value, not a Democratic or Republican one.

Yet the situation that many children now find themselves in at our southern border is not in keeping with our American values. Many media articles have exposed how migrant children have suffered degradation, deprivation, and abuse while living in camps set up by our government at the U.S. border. The conditions these children live in, including being separated from their parents, removes needed protections and creates situations where children can be abused.

No answers from Washington archdiocese about McCarrick’s money

DENVER (CO)
Catholic News Agency

July 12, 2019

By Ed Condon

More than one year after the announcement of allegations of sexual abuse against former cardinal Theodore McCarrick, the Archdiocese of Washington has continued to refuse questions about McCarrick’s use of a personal charitable fund.

McCarrick funnelled hundreds of thousands of dollars through what was known as the Archbishop’s Fund, and reportedly made gifts to senior Vatican officials, even while the fund remained under the charitable auspices of the archdiocese.

Senior sources close to the Archdiocese of Washington have confirmed that archdiocesan records include the names of individuals, including senior Vatican figures, to whom McCarrick made payments from the fund.

But the Archdiocese of Washington has declined to disclose sources, sums, and uses of money, though it has acknowledged that the fund exists.

The archdiocese has also declined to comment on whether Archbishop Wilton Gregory will address accusations of financial misconduct by McCarrick, or publish the names of bishops who personally received gifts from the disgraced former archbishop.

The former cardinal’s reputation for gift-giving and participation in so-called “envelope culture” has come under renewed scrutiny following recent revelations concerning former Wheeling-Charleston Bishop Michael Bransfield.

Like Bransfield, McCarrick has faced a string of allegations of sexual misconduct, dating back years, and his ability to offer large financial gifts to other bishops has come under scrutiny as a possible reason he was able to operate unchecked for so long.

Several sources, among them cardinals, officials of the Roman curia, and McCarrick’s former staff members, have told CNA about McCarrick’s habit of visiting Rome and distributing cash or personal checks to senior officials.

It's Not My Fault Project

CHATTANOOGA (TN)
Times Free Press

July 13, 2019

SNAP of Tennessee (the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests) has launched a new initiative to raise awareness of clergy sexual abuse by having victims tell their stories at HopeChronicles.org. Anonymity is guaranteed unless the victim requests otherwise. The website RemembertheSurvivors.com also has information on the abuse crisis in Tennessee.

Former priest admits to fathering prostitute’s child, being aware of complaints

EL PASO (TX)
KTSM TV

July 12, 2019

By Cesar Vazquez

On Friday, ex-priest Miguel Luna, 68, took the stand in his trial for 12 charges of sexual assault.

As KTSM previously reported, Luna is accused of sexually assaulting a young girl for “several years” throughout the 1990s.

During Friday’s testimony, Luna also admitted to fathering a prostitute’s child in that same time frame.

He was also asked if he knew about the allegations of him asking inappropriate questions to people when they were confessing to him.

Luna said that he was aware of the complaints, but said the questions were “in regards to the Ten Commandments.”

Luna admitted that he was no longer allowed to have teenagers confess to him in 2008.

Luna later said he was frustrated when he was assigned to maintain a library at a Maryland church. “I wasn’t doing what my vocation was,” he said.

Child sex abuse sentencing for former priest delayed

GEELONG (AUSTRALIA)
Bay 93.9 FM

July 13, 2019

By Kristie Sullivan

A former Geelong man and repeat offender pedophile priest will be sentenced next week on more child sexual abuse charges.

Robert Claffey is already serving a minimum of 13 years and four months for sexually abusing 12 children as young as five, between 1969 and 1992 in Victoria's south-west.

On Monday the 76-year-old old admitted he abused another two boys in Ballarat during the 1980s.

One of his victims told the County Court on Friday he had lost faith in the church.

The court is waiting to receive one more victim statement before Claffey is sentenced for his Ballarat crimes on Thursday.

July 12, 2019

Secrecy over sexual crimes scars the Church of England

LONDON (ENGLAND)
The Times

July 13, 2019

By Kaya Burgess

The Church of England should restore its powers to “defrock” rogue priests, a senior bishop has said, calling for the ability to strip criminal clerics of their holy orders.

The Bishop of Bath and Wells, the church’s lead bishop for safeguarding, was among a host of church leaders grilled by the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA) during its final week of hearings into the handling of abuse allegations by the church.

The inquiry published an initial report in May that found the church’s response to claims of sexual abuse had been “marked by secrecy, prevarication and avoidance of reporting alleged crimes”.

It heard from the Archbishop of Canterbury this week that he was “utterly horrified” by the church’s failures.

Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta Must Step Down

LOS ANGELES (CA)
Ms Magazine

July 9, 2019

by Greta Baxter

Jeffrey Epstein has been dominating the headlines this week after the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York arrested him on charges of child sex trafficking—but over a decade ago, the billionaire was accused, with overwhelming evidence, of similar crimes, and then-prosecutor Alexander Acosta pioneered a lenient plea deal that ended the case.

Acosta is now Secretary of Labor—and he’s facing calls from lawmakers and advocates to step down in the wake of the latest charges against Epstein.

Acosta’s original plea deal for Epstein was negotiated in 2008 without the knowledge of the survivors, illegally keeping them out of the prosecution process. Epstein ultimately served just 13 months in prison, in the private wing of the Palm Beach County jail, with access to amenities including the use of his private jet. In February, a federal judge ruled that prosecutors broke the law when arranging that plea deal.

Acosta, who was named Labor Secretary in 2017, is not the only member of the Trump administration with ties to Epstein. The president himself has praised the financier in the past, even noting that Epstein “likes beautiful women as much as I do, and many of them are on the younger side.”

“Epstein plays by the same rule book as Donald Trump, Les Moonves, Harvey Weinstein, Eric Schneiderman and other powerful men who have been revealed as serial abusers of women,” NOW President Toni Van Pelt said in December. “Epstein’s scant 13-month stay in a county jail—where he was even allowed to spend twelve hours a day, six days a week, at his office, was made possible by a culture of powerful men, enabling each other, while dismissing, excusing or demeaning the women and children they brutalize with physical and sexual violence.”

Former South Yorkshire vicar claims sex abuse reports were 'ignored' by clerics

SOUTH YORKSHORE (ENGLAND)
South Yorkshire Times

July 11, 2019

By Lee Peace

The Rev Matthew Ineson, who was ordained in 2000 and practised as a vicar in Rotherham for more than 10 years, criticised the archbishops as he gave evidence to the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse investigation into the Anglican Church.

He called for changes to the way the church investigates safeguarding issues and complaints about clerics, describing the current system as "totally unsuitable."

The witness told the inquiry how he suffered abuse at the hands of priest Trevor Devamanikkam, who took his own life on the day he was due to appear in court accused of sexual offences against Mr Ineson.

He said he made his first disclosures between 2012 and 2013 to the Bishop of Doncaster Peter Burrows, the then bishop of Sheffield Steven Croft, and the then archdeacon of Rotherham Martyn Snow, but that nothing came of his reports.

Rev Ineson told the hearing no further action was taken by the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby when he made complaints.

He told the inquiry: "Bishops sit on thrones. They live in fine palaces and houses, they wear the finest robes and garments, they bully people. People literally kneel down and kiss the ring on their finger,” adding: “I don't think those people are fit for office."

Mr Ineson said he met the Archbishop of York Dr John Sentamu at a meeting for survivors of clerical abuse at a General Synod in York and asked him for an apology for his failure to act on his disclosures but Dr Sentamu replied: "Apologies mean different things to different people."

Mr Ineson went on to make two written disclosures to Mr Croft, now the Bishop of Oxford, and sent copies to the Bishop of Beverley and Dr Sentamu.

Riverside Church pastor set to receive $500K payout after sex toy scandal

NEW YORK (NY)
New York Post

July 12, 2019

By Ebony Bowden

Riverside Church’s outgoing female pastor is set to receive an exit package worth at least half a million dollars — after leaving her job amid allegations she bought an employee an unwanted $200 vibrator while on a work trip, The Post has learned.

The Rev. Dr. Amy Butler — who made $250,000 a year as the first woman to lead the historic congregation — will leave with 12 months’ salary, a six-month housing allowance worth $48,000 and annual retirement contributions of $59,000 for three years, according to her contract.

An email sent by the chair of the church council and seen by The Post says Butler will also get a $100,000 “separation payment”– which would take her golden handshake to a total of $594,530, when including her unused vacation payout and the $10,000 tab for her lawyer’s fees.

According to the emails, the church council voted to approve the agreement — although one employee raised concerns about the large sum blowing out the house of worship’s operating budget, which covers payroll.

Riverside Church has until July 31 to pay Butler the money she is owed from the five-year contract, which expired on June 30.

St. Xavier High School releases names of brothers it says sexually abused children

LOUISVILLE (KY)
Courier Journal

July 12, 2019

By Matthew Glowicki

St. Xavier High School released a list of former brothers who it says sexually abused minors while either at the Louisville high school or at some point during their years of service.

Nine brothers appear on the list with "credible or established" acts of sexual abuse against youth, two of whom were assigned to St. X at the time of the abuse. Years spent at the high school are noted below.

Only Carbin and McCormack are noted as having credible allegations stemming from their time at St. X.

Brother "Ricardo" Albert Kerressey (1938-1942)
Brother "Francis Jerome" William Burns (1939-1940)
Brother "Alois" Donald O'Toole (1940-1941)
Brother "Brennan" John Devoe (1953-1960)
Brother "Bosco" Thomas Harrison (1956-1963)
Brother "Kentigern" William Carbin (1958-1962)*
Brother "Barton" George Gardiner (1959-1964)
Brother "Damian" John McMahon (1965-1974)
Brother "Pierre" James McCormack (1973-1984)*

Former El Paso priest on trial for child sex abuse takes witness stand to proclaim innocence

EL PASO (TX)
KVIA ABC 7 News

July 12, 2019

By Jim Parker and Julio-Cesar Chavez

A former El Paso Catholic priest on trial for allegedly sexually abusing a girl from age ten through her teen years took the witness stand in his own defense on Friday and vehemently denied the accusations.

Miguel Luna, 68, is charged with multiple counts of aggravated assault of a child in a case that dates back to the 1990s while he was still an active priest; the alleged victim is now a 36-year old woman.

Luna's accuser testified at the trial's start that she was an altar server at Corpus Christi church when he first began sexually abusing her. She told jurors the sexual conduct continued until she moved away from the area when she turned 17.

Luna on Friday acknowledged first meeting the girl at age ten, but he repeatedly rebuffed her claims of abuse under questioning from his own defense attorney.

"No, never," Luna replied several times when asked if he had ever sexually assaulted or touched her inappropriately as either a child or a teenager.

Prosecutors contend Luna was a "wolf in sheep's clothing," exploiting his role as a priest to engage in sex acts with the girl. But the defense contends the now-grown woman was motivated by money to report the alleged incidents.

New developments in the Lynn Messer case come to light during vigil

ST. LOUIS (MO)
Channel 2 News

July 8, 2019

By Roche Madden

There are new developments in the Lynn Messer case, the woman went missing five years ago Monday. She disappeared in 2014 in Ste. Genevieve County, her remains were discovered in 2016.

A vigil was held Monday at the county courthouse for the 52-year-old woman, people don’t want her to ever be forgotten.

Debra Donze is Lynn Messer’s sister, “It’s really hard on the boys and the grandkids one day she was there and the next day she wasn’t,” said Donze.

Friends and family of Lynn Messer wanted to send a message to the county prosecutor and sheriff. Abram Messer is Lynn’s son, “We want them to know we are supporting them and are so thankful that law enforcement has refused not to let go of this they are pursuing this,” said Messer. Carolyn Deevers is an advocate for abused women. She said, “We would like to see charges filed soon but not at the expense of the case.”

Lynn Messer disappeared July 8, 2014, from her home near Bloomsdale. She left without any of her personal belongings and at the time she had health problems and a broken toe. She lived with her husband, Kerry Messer, a Missouri lobbyist. In November of 2016, Lynn’s skeletal remains were discovered on the edge of the family’s property. Authorities said the area had been well searched when she disappeared almost two and half years earlier.

Attorney general continues review of church abuse claims

PROVIDENCE (RI)
CTVNews.ca

July 12, 2019

By Jennifer McDermott

Rhode Island's attorney general said Friday that it will be several more months before he is finished reviewing allegations of sexual abuse by Roman Catholic clergy in the state.

Democrat Peter Neronha said he continues to review allegations of clergy sexual abuse to figure out what happened, what the response was and whether anyone can be held responsible.

Last week, the Roman Catholic Diocese of Providence released a list of 50 clerics, religious order priests and deacons it deems to have been credibly accused of sexually abusing children. The diocese reviewed files dating to 1950.

The list posted on the diocese website includes 19 priests and deacons who are still alive, ranging in age from 60 to 98, although nearly all have been removed from ministry. One priest resigned. The list also includes 25 dead priests and six others, including religious order priests.

Rhode Island is one of the most heavily Catholic states. Bishop Thomas Tobin, in a letter accompanying the list, called its release "a difficult but necessary moment" in the history of the church.

Neronha, who launched his review shortly after taking office this year, said the diocese's list is a subset of the allegations. He's looking at all allegations, not just those deemed credible by the church, and reviewing disclosures made by the diocese to law enforcement, criminal and civil cases and complaints to police.

"I don't think this will be a quick enterprise. It's going to take time," he said in an interview Friday. "But I'm committed to doing it responsibly, thoroughly, and being as transparent as I can about whatever conclusions that we reach."

Liberals irked by Catholic bishops spokeswoman's personal tweets

WASHINGTON (DC)
Washington Times

July 11, 2019

By Christopher Vondracek

Liberal Catholics are criticizing the spokeswoman for the D.C.-based U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops for the conservative politics she shares on her personal Twitter account.

Judy Keane, the director of public affairs at the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, doesn’t have a large following on social media — roughly 300 followers — but in the past months she has frequently excoriated Democrats such as Sen. Kamala D. Harris of California and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, according to reporting that first appeared in Commonweal, a liberal magazine for American Catholics.

The Washington Post reported Thursday that Ms. Keane, who has been employed as director since 2016, produced a “series of tweets enthusiastically backing President Trump.”

Criticism of Ms. Keane’s tweets began with one posted May 29. She was responding to Newt Gingrich’s remarks about former special counsel Robert Mueller with a link to a pro-Trump website boasting that the president had taken the “shackles” off ICE.

Supporters demand answers on five-year anniversary of woman’s disappearance, death

NASHVILLE (TN)
Baptist Gobal News

July 12, 2019

By Bob Allen

About 75 people gathered July 8 outside a Missouri courthouse demanding answers and justice on the five-year anniversary of the disappearance and death of a woman married to a Missouri Baptist lobbyist.

Lynn Messer, wife of Kerry Messer, a conservative lobbyist with past clients including the Missouri Baptist Convention, disappeared suddenly from her rural home near Ste. Genevieve, Missouri, on July 8, 2014. Her skeletal remains were found more than two years later near an edge of the 250-acre family farm.

Her death certificate filed in July 2017 lists the cause of death as “undetermined at this time” and the investigation as pending. Sources quoting police say the case is still open, and her husband, who since remarried, has not been ruled out as a person of interest.

“The first thing I want to do is thank law enforcement for refusing to stop, for refusing to let go,” son Abram Messer told friends, family members and advocates gathered outside the Ste. Genevieve County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office in a candlelight vigil convened to, in his words, “cry out for justice.

Irreligion, Sexual Abuse and Sacrilege

DENVER (CO)
National Catholic Register

July 11, 2019

By John Grondelski

Over at Commonweal, Boston College theology and law professor Cathleen Kaveny tries to obfuscate the meaning of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI’s recent letter on the sexual abuse crisis… and perhaps score some points for the revisionist agenda of blaming that crisis on “clericalism” rather than the sexual immorality that—rightly—Benedict identifies as where the Church and modern culture began going off the rails in the late 1960s.

Kaveny claims that Benedict misidentifies the moral wrong behind the sexual abuse crisis: she thinks he is equating it with sacrilege (although she admits that “[h]e does not use the term”). She claims that this shift lets the Church off the hook, protecting the institution by identifying it as the victim rather than defending children victims. “Benedict’s letter seems to put clergy sex abuse in the category of sacrilege, not injustice.”

She wants to see the sacrilege versus justice question as an either/or proposition (not unusual for defenders of revisionist moral theology). It isn’t. It’s both.

I have always been very pleased by the fact that the 2011 retranslation of the Novus Ordo Missae restored the typical text, not ICEL’s “equivalent” translations. One of the important places where that translation recovered the real meaning of the text was in the introductory dialogue to the Preface. We used to say, “It is right to give Him thanks and praise.” We now respond, in keeping with the venerable ancient text, “It is right and just” (dignum et justum est).

Why Did It Take So Long to Take Down Epstein, Cosby, and Spacey?

BATON ROUGE (LA)
The Advocate

July 12 2019

By Amanda Kerri

The other day, I had the movie Spotlight going on in the background. If you’ve never seen it, it’s about The Boston Globe uncovering the sexual abuse of children priests by the Catholic Church. One of the big dramatic moments in the movie is when they go to an attorney who had filed lawsuits against the church back in the early ’90s over allegations of abuse, and the reporters ask why he never came to them with the story. He says he sent them a list of 20 names, but they never ran the story. In reality it turns out that the Globe did run the article listing the names. On page B42 of the Metro section.

What’s more notable is that at the time, there was already a huge case about an abusive priest. The story, which hinted at a larger conspiracy and problem, was overlooked because there was already so much pushback, and no one followed up. The film kept that moment to reflect on the meaning behind it; in that the abuse, the scandal, was sitting right there and no one put it all together. It reflects our collective guilt at not wanting to dig deeper into dark things.

This moment immediately made me think of the scandal involving financier and well-connected pedophile Jeffrey Epstein. Epstein came to our collective attention when the Miami Herald wrote a story about the offensively lenient sentence he received for “solicitation” negotiated by President Trump’s recently-departed Secretary of Labor Alex Acosta. However, I recall reading about Epstein and his alleged ties to high-powered politicians and celebrities over a decade ago during his trial. In fact, if you go to Google and filter your search results to exclude everything after July 2015, you’ll find article after article talking about his ties to Trump, Bill Clinton, royalty, and celebrities of all types, and all the rumors about him. Now that Epstein is being prosecuted in a federal district court less friendly to him, all of the media is abuzz with talk of the ties between Epstein and Trump. Especially the winking nod to Epstein’s love of “young women” in a quote from the president letting us come to the horrifying realization that Epstein’s abuse was sort of an open secret or at least whispered about.

While many other folks are talking about what this means for Trump and turning all of this into a partisan political fight, it left me wondering, why did it take till now? Plenty of people are coming forward to talk about how they saw things, how they heard things (they called his private island “Pedophile Island”), and how some even counseled Epstein on how to spin it all, and all I can think is, And you motherfuckers did nothing?

Let’s be real here. There are way too many of us who not only enable all of this in the desire to be close to the seat of power and profit, but far too many of us just want all of this buried and to go away because we don’t want to talk about it. Maybe it’s because no one wanted to face the idea that someone we trusted, someone we liked, could be like that. I know that it’s a well-worn trope and a point of anger often that when someone is caught being awful, people talk about how nice they were, how quiet they were, how nothing seemed odd. Hell, it’s a source of pride for New Yorkers who regularly brag about, joke about, or ignore the obviously mentally ill homeless guy having an episode on the subway.

Yet as much loss of faith in humanity as that causes, it’s a fact this was out there for years. We knew about Epstein’s ties, about the sweetheart deal, about all of this, and there were people reporting on it for years, and nothing happened until now. Yes, new charges are being brought against Epstein, which makes it news, but why weren't we this outraged in 2010? 2012? Why did it take 'til Trump was three years into office to really have these allegations explode like this? I have a sick feeling in my stomach in that we just didn’t care enough, or that we thought “we” might get hurt by maybe finding out Epstein helped people we like do something terrible. Oh, so many people are saying they would love to see people on “their side” taken down if it’s found out, but far, far too many times, we have seen where people will gladly turn a blind eye when it suits them.

Shielding predators must end

ALTOONA (PA)
Altoona Mirror

July 11, 2019

Trust that Roman Catholic Church officials will do the right thing about allegations of sexual misconduct by members of the clergy is in question in many countries, not just the United States. What Pope Francis and others in the Catholic hierarchy do about the matter is watched closely throughout the world.

An announcement by the Vatican that its ambassador to France no longer enjoys diplomatic immunity is welcome, then.

As a diplomat, Archbishop Luigi Ventura normally would have enjoyed immunity from investigation or prosecution involving many crimes. Several men have accused him of touching them inappropriately. Ventura denies the allegations.

But French authorities had said the archbishop’s diplomatic immunity had stalled their investigation into the men’s accusations.

That ended Monday, with the Vatican’s announcement. Now, Ventura can be investigated — and, if appropriate, charged — just like any other visitor to France. Let us hope the matter is cleared up, one way or the other, expeditiously.

Sexual predation by members of the clergy is bad enough. Adding to the outrage over Roman Catholic church handling of such crimes has been a pattern over decades of protecting predators. Instead of reporting them to law enforcement authorities, church officials often transferred guilty priests away from locales where they had abused both children and adults, and to new locations where they sometimes committed the same crimes.

Former church chancellor stripped of pay

HATAGNA (GUAM)
Guam Daily Post

July 11, 2019

By Mindy Aguon

A former chancellor of the Archdiocese of Agaña who has been accused in multiple child sex abuse lawsuits still holds the title of a priest of the archdiocese but no longer receives a salary nor an honorarium.

Father Adrian Cristobal remains away from Guam with restrictions the archdiocese placed on him last year. He's prohibited from performing the role of a priest in public, including the wearing of clerical garb.

Tony Diaz, the archdiocese's director of communications, confirmed the archdiocese is proceeding with an administrative penal process – based on canon law – on the allegations of child sexual abuse against Cristobal.

Diaz said the archdiocese could not comment any further on the matter because it involves lawsuits.

Last year, Archbishop Michael Byrnes placed restrictions on Cristobal after having repeatedly called for the priest to return to Guam.

Cristobal had left Guam for an unspecified role in the Catholic diocese in Phoenix, Arizona, but has subsequently left the jurisdiction of that diocese, Post files state.

Cristobal has been accused in four lawsuits filed on Guam of sexually assaulting altar boys in the parishes he worked at while on Guam decades ago.

On The Scale Of Reporting On Different Child Abuse Scandals

LONDON (ENGLAND)
Leading Britain's Conversation

July 12, 2019

By James O'Brien

An independent inquiry into child sexual abuse found children could have been saved from abuse if the Church had focussed less on its own reputation rather than the impact of the abuse.

More than 130 allegations of abuse were made against 78 people associated with the Birmingham Catholic Church - the cardinal denied a cover-up, but allegations were found to have been "ignored".

But James O'Brien focussed on why this story didn't have the same level of coverage as the case of the Rotherham grooming gangs.

"The so-called Asian grooming gangs, they get coverage on a scale that is utterly huge compared to the coverage Catholic priests get," James said.

"So this idea that the government or the establishment has colluded in keeping these stories quiet only works with people who are too thick to work out where the news channel is on their televisions."

Curt Smith: Undermining the freedom of religion

INDIANAPOLIS (IN)
Indiana Business Journal

July 12, 2019

By Curt Smith

Hoosiers once venerated faith leaders in public life, but today we denigrate or even desecrate those taking a public stand for religion.

Consider Indianapolis Archbishop Charles Thompson. We have not met, but I respect his principled stand that Catholic schools under his purview in central Indiana must hire faculty whose lives are consistent with the human sexuality (among other) Roman Catholic Church teachings they are charged with imparting to students.

“One’s orientation is not sin, as I said in the beginning,” Thompson told WRTV-TV Channel 6. “It’s the public witness with the church’s teachings. … We do the same thing if someone is cohabiting.”

He needed to take a public stand because a Roncalli Catholic high school guidance counselor was dismissed last year, and in June, a Cathedral Catholic high school teacher was let go because both were in homosexual marriages.

In between, Brebeuf high school rebuffed the archbishop by refusing to dismiss an openly gay teacher. I intentionally dropped Catholic from Brebeuf’s description, because Thompson decided to no longer recognize Brebeuf as a Catholic institution.

The usual howling and condemnations ensued. We know them well, alas, and nothing new was offered. Social media bristled with out-of-state activist rants.

Maybe Thompson’s image was not tweeted around the world—complete with photoshopped horns—as happened to some during the Religious Freedom Restoration Act legislative debates in 2015. But, sadly, neither have our civic leaders stepped forward to support the archbishop’s courage to do what was right for the church he leads.

And why is that important? Because two foundational issues to the quality of “our democracy” rest on letting the church be the church.

The first essential issue: Who defines what it means to be Catholic? The short answer is Catholics—not the Legislature, the courts, the media, or elite progressive opinion. The long answer from a non-Catholic also in public ministry is, the Catholic Church has a formal, hierarchical structure beginning with the pope, then cardinals, archbishops and bishops. Their decisions bind church members.

Syracuse ex-priest, removed over child sex abuse, dies at 81

SYRACUSE (NY)
Post-Standard

Jully 11, 2019

By Julie McMahon

A former Syracuse priest, removed in 2002 over allegations of child sexual abuse, has died. He was 81.

Chester Misercola worked as a priest in Syracuse and Oswego, including as a teacher at Oswego Catholic High and Bishop Cunningham High School in Oswego from 1970 to 1992, according to his obituary.

He died Saturday.

Misercola was most recently living at a Loretto facility in Syracuse, the obituary said. He previously lived at a controversial retirement home for priests, shuttered by the Catholic Diocese of Syracuse in 2016.

He was one of 57 priests named to a list of clergy with credible allegations of child sexual abuse, announced by the diocese last year.

Most of the priests who were named were dead at the time the list was published. Misercola was one of 19 who were still alive at the time

First Female Pastor Of Renowned Riverside Church Is Out After Making Harassment Allegation

NEW YORK (NY)
Forbes Magazine

July 11, 2019

By Natalie Sachmechi

Even in a progressive bastion like New York's Riverside Church — which touts LGBTQ equity, supports immigrants and focuses on environmental justice — one high-ranking woman seems to have been ousted in the aftermath of sexual harassment allegations.

The church has been at the forefront of progressive Christian leadership since its inception in 1930. Statues of scientists like Darwin, Galileo and Einstein decorate the building where Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. gave his famous anti-Vietnam War speech in 1967. And in 2004, the church issued a statement in support of same-sex marriage and said it had been performing same-sex ceremonies as early as 1991.

In 2014, the church made headlines when it hired its first female senior minister, the Rev. Dr. Amy Butler. She was known as a progressive Christian leader to her followers and “wanted to be known as a pastor who happens to be a woman, not a woman pastor,” she wrote in a blog post.

Last week, her name was all over Christian media outlets when news broke that she was stepping down after five years at Riverside — and no one appeared to know exactly why. A statement issued by the church said that she would not be renewing her contract, and Butler called her time at Riverside “one of the greatest honors of my life.”

First Female Pastor Of Renowned Riverside Church Is Out After Making Harassment Allegation

NEW YORK (NY)
Forbes Magazine

July 11, 2019

By Natalie Sachmechi

Even in a progressive bastion like New York's Riverside Church — which touts LGBTQ equity, supports immigrants and focuses on environmental justice — one high-ranking woman seems to have been ousted in the aftermath of sexual harassment allegations.

The church has been at the forefront of progressive Christian leadership since its inception in 1930. Statues of scientists like Darwin, Galileo and Einstein decorate the building where Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. gave his famous anti-Vietnam War speech in 1967. And in 2004, the church issued a statement in support of same-sex marriage and said it had been performing same-sex ceremonies as early as 1991.

In 2014, the church made headlines when it hired its first female senior minister, the Rev. Dr. Amy Butler. She was known as a progressive Christian leader to her followers and “wanted to be known as a pastor who happens to be a woman, not a woman pastor,” she wrote in a blog post.

Last week, her name was all over Christian media outlets when news broke that she was stepping down after five years at Riverside — and no one appeared to know exactly why. A statement issued by the church said that she would not be renewing her contract, and Butler called her time at Riverside “one of the greatest honors of my life.”

Rosario: On traffickers, pledges and an All-Star snub

ST. PAUL (MN)
Pioneer Press

July 11, 2019

By Ruben Rosario

Things that made me nod, scratch or shake my head this week:

The Jeffrey Epstein caper: He’s Exhibit A why, in America, you can truly get the best justice money can buy. The accused billionaire human trafficker of underaged girls got the sweetheart deal of a lifetime more than a decade ago, courtesy of Alex Acosta, a former south Florida chief prosecutor now serving as the nation’s secretary of labor.

Instead of charging Epstein in a 53-page indictment that was drafted and later sealed from the public, Acosta entered into an agreement with Epstein’s well-heeled lawyers to have him plead guilty instead to a state charge. But wait, folks, that’s not all. Epstein was sentenced to 13 months in prison, yet was allowed to leave jail for 12 hours daily, six days a week. Acosta also reportedly broke federal law by not informing Epstein’s alleged victims of the plea agreement. Alleged co-conspirators received immunity from prosecution.

Federal prosecutors in New York this week did what Acosta’s office should have done. They arrested him and charged him with alleged crimes that took place in that city around the same time. Acosta defended his actions in a news conference this week and essentially blamed a former state prosecutor involved in the case.

In Patriarchy No One Can Hear You Scream: Rebecca Solnit on Jeffrey Epstein and the Silencing Machine

Lit Hub

July 10, 2019

By Rebecca Solnit

One of my favorite books when I was young was T. H. White’s The Once and Future King, and one of its central themes is the attempt of King Arthur to replace an ethos of “might is right” with something closer to justice. Justice means everyone is equal under the law—and equality means both that everyone has equal value under the law and that everyone is subject to the law. That’s been a foundational concept for the United States, but might is right has never ceased to be how things actually work at least some of the time. In White’s novel, might means in part the capacity for physical violence on the part of individual warriors, armies, tribes, and kingdoms, but the ability of individuals (and corporations and nations) to commit that violence with impunity is another kind of might that matters now.

The great work of investigative journalists in recent years has let us see might, naked and corrupt, doing its best to trample, silence, discredit the less powerful and their rights and with it the idea of right as an ethic independent of power. That these men actually run the media, the government, the financial system says everything about what kind of systems they are. Those systems have toiled to protect them, over and over. Indeed, power is not vested in them but in the individuals and institutions all around them. This makes it essential to look past individual perpetrators to the systems that allow them to commit crimes with impunity.

Maybe one of the reasons rape has so often been portrayed as “a stranger leaps out of the bushes” is so we’ll imagine rapists acting alone. But in so many cases rapists have help in the moment and forever after, and the help is often so powerful, broad, and deep—well, that’s why we call it rape culture, and that’s why changing it means changing the whole culture. Sometimes it’s the family, community, church, campus looking the other way; sometimes it’s the criminal justice system. If Jeffrey Epstein goes to jail for the new round of indictments—which only came about because one investigative journalist, Julie K. Brown of the Miami Herald, did an extraordinary job of digging up what had been buried in his case—a host of people who knew, laughed, looked the other way, allegedly helped him sexually abuse children for years will still be at large, and the circumstances that allow other Epsteins to attack other children will still exist.

Chile removes statute of limitations on child sex abuse amid Church crisis

SANTIAGO (CHILE)
Reuters

July 11, 2019

By Natalia A. Ramos Miranda

Chilean President Sebastian Pinera signed into law on Thursday a bill to remove the statute of limitations on sex crimes involving children amid a sex abuse crisis that has rocked the country’s Catholic Church and claimed more than 200 victims.

The law, which first was proposed in 2010, ends impunity in cases that would have previously had a statute of limitations that varied between five and 10 years, depending on the nature of the crime. The new law is not retroactive.

“Beginning today, the passing of time will never more be an accomplice to those who abuse our children, nor an ally of impunity,” Pinera said.

The center-right Pinera revived the nearly decade-old bill last year, following a visit to the South American nation by the pope that brought to the surface a string of abuse allegations now being investigated by prosecutors.

July 11, 2019

The Archbishop of Canterbury banned abuse victim from cathedral grounds after treating his case with “casual indifference”, IICSA hears

LONDON (ENGLAND)
The Telegraph

July 11, 2019

By Gabriella Swerling

The Archbishop of Canterbury banned a “vulnerable” abuse victim from cathedral grounds after treating his case with “casual indifference”, an independent inquiry heard.

Details of the incident emerged for the first time today and occurred in 2011 when the Most Rev Justin Welby was Dean of Liverpool Cathedral.

The man had alleged he was sexually abused by an unidentified offender who was linked to the Cathedral.

However after alleging that Archbishop Welby had dismissed his claims of abuse, the man appeared outside the Cathedral “angry and upset” before he swore at staff and “threatened security with violence”. As a result, he was banned from the grounds.

Giving evidence to the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA), the Archbishop admitted “there were a number of things I got wrong on this” in relation to the encounter.

This came as he backed a “mandatory reporting” law for the first time and said that he was “utterly horrified” by historic failures to protect victims from abuse within the Church of England.

Mandatory reporting would require people who work with children, including priests, to face punishment if they fail to pass suspicions of child abuse on to statutory authorities.

Yesterday the IICSA was shown an email exchange dated July 6, 2011 between Archbishop Welby - while he was still a Dean - and the alleged unidentified victim.

Paedophile priest Robert Claffey due to be sentence

BALLARAT (AUSTRALIA)
The Courier

July 11, 2019

Robert Claffey, 76, is already serving more than a decade in prison for child sex crimes.

However on Monday he admitted abusing another two boys at Ballarat during the 1980s.

One of the victims was aged between 12 and 15 at the time, while the other was aged six to seven.

One of the boys, now a man, is expected to a read a statement in the County Court of Victoria on Friday about how Claffey's crimes have affected his life.

It is then expected the former Our Lady Help of Christians Church in Wendouree parish priest will be sentenced.

But while prosecutors have argued Claffey should spend more time behind bars, the now lay priest's legal team claims he's already been vilified.

His lawyer argued Claffey's prison release date should remain unchanged as he's been "hunted" by the media and scorned by the community after being moved from parish to parish by the Catholic Church while he offended.

Former altar boy comes forward with stunning revelations about former local priest

WASHINGTON (DC)
WJLA News

July 11, 2019

By Jay Korff

Earlier this year, the Catholic Diocese of Arlington released its list of priests credibly accused of child sex abuse.

Father William Reinecke, one of the highest-ranking members of the clergy in our region in the last half century, was among those listed.

After speaking with one of Reinecke’s survivors, we realized that a much larger, never-before-told story of widespread, serial pedophilia involving Reinecke may exist. So, we decided to dig deeper.

After more than five months of investigating we unraveled Father Reinecke’s haunting past with the help of people close to him: a former priest, a survivor of Reinecke’s abuse and a witness to Reinecke’s grooming tactics and abuse. The latter, Kelley Arnold, is the keeper of The 50-Year Secret.

What we uncovered, revealed in a series of stories called The 50-Year Secret, we hope will help victims heal, hold the powerful accountable and illustrate the very real danger children still face today.

Let us be heard': Belcourt woman sues Fargo Diocese, priest accused of sexually assaulting her

FARGO (NORTH DAKOTA)
InForum

July 11, 2019

By April Baumgarten

A Belcourt, N.D., woman has filed a civil suit against the Catholic Diocese of Fargo and a priest who she says sexually assaulted her three years ago.

Kateri Marion, 33, held back tears Thursday, July 11, during a news conference in Fargo as her attorneys laid out allegations against the Rev. Michael Wight, a Texas priest who, according to Marion, groomed her before sexually abusing her in mid-2016. She told the Fargo Diocese about the abuse, but she claims church leaders ignored her and blamed her for what allegedly happened.

"I can't tell you how scared I was when I came forward," she said at the news conference held at the law offices of O'Keeffe O'Brien Lyson Foss. "When I came forward, they left me in despair to pick up the pieces myself."

New Independent Ombudsman Begins Work

KANSAS CITY (MO)
The Catholic Key

July 11, 2019

By Marty Denzer

Bishop James Johnston, Jr., recently announced that the Diocese of Kansas City – St. Joseph has engaged Captain Joseph Crayon previously of the Kansas City Police Department as its new Independent Ombudsman. Crayon began his new duties July 1 following his retirement from a 32-year career with the police department.

The diocese created the position of Ombudsman in 2011 as part of its response to failures made in handling a case of the creation of child pornography by a diocesan priest. The Ombudsman serves as an independent contractor with a broad commission to receive and investigate all accusations of child sexual abuse and boundary violations with a minor against any cleric, employee or volunteer of the diocese, no matter how long ago the abuse occurred. The Ombudsman is further empowered to independently report cases of child sexual abuse to civil authorities and law enforcement without supervision or approval by diocesan officials.

Capt. Crayon replaces Jenifer Valenti, a former attorney and investigator with the Jackson County Prosecutor’s Office, who in April accepted the leadership of the Office of Child and Youth Protection in the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas. At the time Valenti began her service with the Diocese of Kansas City – St. Joseph, she was the first Independent Ombudsman in any U.S. diocese.

Capt. Crayon, one of nine children, was born and raised in New York State. Growing up, he always wanted to be a police officer, as his father was. Capt. Crayon moved to the Midwest during his college years and graduated from the Kansas City Police Academy.

Update: Lay role matters in renewing church wounded by abuse, speaker says

WASHINGTON (DC)
Catholic News Service

July 11, 2019

By Gina Christian

The laity can lead the way in renewing a church wounded by the decades-long sexual abuse scandal, according to Meghan Cokeley, director of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia's Office for the New Evangelization.

Prayer, redemptive suffering, forgiveness and a deeper understanding of the laity's calling can radically revive the church, said Cokeley, who has been touring Philadelphia-area parishes to deliver a talk titled "What Can We Do? The Role of Laity in a Time of Crisis."

Combining Scripture, catechesis and historical examples, the presentation offers "a message of hope" as well as several specific action points to counter feelings of despair and apathy in church life.

Abuse survivor calls for transparency within Charlotte Catholic Diocese\

CHARLOTTE (NC)
WSOC TV

July 11, 2019

The Catholic church abuse scandal erupted years ago, but there are still demands for accountability.

Names of church leaders accused of abuse have been released city by city, but not in Charlotte.

A survivor told Channel 9 his calls for action have been ignored.

“I want them to know that I have not disappeared,” he said.

Faith Leaders Now Mandatory Reporters Of Abuse Under New Law

RICHMOND (VIRGINIA)
WCVE News

July 11, 2019

Faith leaders in Virginia are now required to report suspected child abuse. Legislation that went into effect July 1 adds ministers, priests, rabbis, and imams to the list of mandated reporters. But victim advocates say they want the law to go further.

Becky Ianni with the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests said she hopes the law will increase reporting of child abuse, but is concerned about what she identifies as a loophole.

Clergy are exempt from reporting abuse if the religious organization requires the conversation to be confidential, like during confession.

“I’m afraid that that loophole will keep some cases from being reported,” Clergy said.

Jeff Caruso, Executive Director of the Virginia Catholic Conference, defended the importance of this exemption.

Diocese of Yakima Releases List of Accused Priests

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

July 10, 2019

The Diocese of Yakima has just released a list identifying priests and deacons with “substantiated allegations” of sexual abuse of a minor during their ministries. While this is a good first step from church officials in Yakima, more needs to be done.

The list put out by the Diocese of Yakima is a start, yet it lacks critical information, such as information regarding when the allegations were first received by the diocese and what steps were taken in response to those allegations. Such data is critical to understanding what went wrong in the past, who was involved in the wrongdoing, and what must be done to prevent cases of abuse in the future.

We hope that parishioners and the public in Yakima will push Bishop Joseph Tyson and other church officials to live up to their promise to be “open and transparent” in cases of clergy sex abuse, updating their list as more information becomes available. We also hope that church officials will ensure that this list is announced in every parish, and that Bishop Tyson will personally visit each parish where these men worked and beg victims, witnesses and whistle blowers to come forward and make a report.

Once Again, Catholic Church Officials Put Themselves Above the Law

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

July 11, 2019

Before SB 360 was withdrawn from consideration today, Catholic Church officials spoke out against it in no uncertain terms. Bishops in San Jose, Sacramento, Stockton, and Los Angeles all urged parishioners to oppose the measure. Oakland Bishop Michael Barber may have gone the furthest when he said that he would use his power as Bishop to order the priests employed by him to disobey that civil law. Even the Vatican weighed in, saying that "no human power" can compel priests to violate seal of confession.

This opposition to the reform of the mandatory reporting law is problematic for a couple of reasons.

First, this lack of respect for secular laws seems to us to be part of the reason why there is an abuse scandal in the Catholic church in America and worldwide. Cases of child sexual abuse by clergy were not only not reported to law enforcement, they were concealed from parishioners and the public. Priests were treated as if they were above the criminal law.

Second, the bishops are conflating the intent of this law - the explicit protection of children - with other church precepts. The law was modified to specify only information on ministerial abuse of children received in confession - no other penitent privileges were impacted. The free exercise of religion is not absolute, and the protection of the young and vulnerable from clerical abusers would not seem to be an unreasonable intrusion on practice.

FACT SHEET: Long Island Bishop John Barres and abuse and cover up

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

July 11, 2019

--About 130 of the 170 bishops in the US have posted names of credibly accused predator priests on their websites. This is not hard, expensive or controversial. Bishops started doing this in 2002. It’s the quickest and easiest way a bishop can protect kids. There’s no reason to keep hiding the identities and whereabouts of potentially dangerous individuals. Barres refuses to take this simple step toward prevention, healing and transparency.

http://www.bishop-accountability.org/AtAGlance/diocesan_and_order_lists.htm

--In May, we in SNAP asked Barres to by tell his flock about six credibly accused predator priests who were on Long Island but who have attracted virtually no attention there: Fr. Joseph Towle, Fr. Edward D. Horgan, Fr. Joseph Fitzpatrick, Fr. John Garvey, Fr. Ernest E. Robinson, Fr. Augustine J. Seidenburg. Barres essentially ignored us.

http://www.snapnetwork.org/statement_by_janet_klinger_of_snap_new_york_may19

--And in February, we asked Barres to alert his flock to two other credibly accused predator priests who spent time on Long Island: Fr. Freddy Washington and Fr. Christopher Pliauplis. Barres essentially ignored us.

DNA database helps one of Spain's 'stolen babies' find family

MADRID (SPAIN)
Agence France-Presse

July 11, 2019

The first woman recognised by Spanish courts as one of the “stolen babies” of the Franco dictatorship has discovered her biological family thanks to a DNA database.

Scores of babies were taken from their mothers – who were told their children had died – and given to others to adopt during the 1939-1975 dictatorship, often with the help of the Catholic church.

Initially, babies were taken from leftwing opponents of the regime, with the practice later expanded to supposedly illegitimate children and those from poorer families.

The newborns were meant to be raised by affluent, conservative and devout Roman Catholic families.

Estimates range from hundreds to tens of thousands of victims.

On Thursday, Ines Madrigal, 50, who found out in 2010 that she was a “stolen baby”, said she had been able to find a cousin thanks to a DNA database.

The cousin then informed her that her biological siblings were also searching for her.

“For the first time, I have completed the puzzle that is my life,” she said. “I know who I am and where I am from.”

Priest Sexual Abuse Survivor John 'Tim' McGuire Pickets Churches

MYSTIC (CT)
Patch

July 11, 2019

By Ellyn Santiago

John Timothy 'Tim' McGuire told The Day what hurts most is being accused by Catholic congregants of looking for a payday. The 60-year-old New London man who says he was sexually abused when he was an 8-year-old altar boy by a Noank priest has taken to the street to open a dialogue he told the paper, and that conversation begins with picket signs he holds outside of local Roman Catholic churches.

Wednesday, he picketed outside St Patrick's Church in downtown Mystic. Some were supportive, others not.

McGuire told the paper that he was approached by a church-goer who accused him causing trouble and looking for a large settlement from the church: "What are you doing that for? All you want is money!" A similar accusation was made when he protested outside a New London church.

McGuire told reporter Joe Wojtas, "That's what hurts the most. When someone from your own church accuses you of only wanting money. I'm the person who was abused by a priest." The law prohibits McGuire from suing because he missed a filing cutoff date by less than a month.

McGuire says he was habitually sexually assaulted by Father James Curry at St. Joseph's Church in Noank in the mid-1960s. McGuire has testified before state legislators, is involved with a global group of survivors of sexual abuse by the clergy and now, with signs of protest outside local churches.

Catholic Church Offers Cash to Settle Abuse Claims—With a Catch

SCRANTON (PA)
Wall Street Journal

July 11, 2019

By Ian Lovett

A potential flood of lawsuits has spurred the Catholic Church to offer mediation, only if accusers agree not to sue

Four decades ago, Jimmy Pliska says, he was sexually assaulted by his local parish priest on an overnight fishing trip. Now, he has an agonizing decision to make.

Amid a recent wave of sexual-abuse investigations and allegations against the Catholic Church, Mr. Pliska wants to sue the Diocese of Scranton, which employed the priest. But the case is too old to bring to court. Although state lawmakers have proposed lifting the statute of limitations on the sexual abuse of children, it is unclear when—or if—that will happen.

The diocese, meanwhile, has set up a program to financially compensate victims of clergy sexual abuse. In exchange for accepting money from the program, the diocese won’t have to release any documents that might show what church officials knew about the alleged abuse. Mr. Pliska also would be barred from suing the church.

Time is running short for Mr. Pliska, 55 years old, to decide. The church has set a July 31 deadline. “The church shouldn’t be the judge,” he said of the program. “They should be held accountable.”

The Catholic Church has a great deal riding on whether alleged victims take part in compensation programs like the one in Scranton.

Since a widely publicized report last year from the Pennsylvania attorney general, which documented the abuse of more than 1,000 children by Catholic clergy in the state over half a century, public officials around the U.S. have looked for their own ways to pursue allegations made against the church.

More than a dozen states are considering lifting the civil statute of limitations on child sexual abuse or already have done so. The legislation, if passed, would unleash a surge of new lawsuits against the church.

A new wave of sexual abuse litigation would present a serious threat to both the church’s finances and its reputation. Large jury awards and settlements could cost the church millions, while legal discovery could make public documents showing how dioceses dealt with abuse.

As lawmakers debate the measures, Catholic dioceses in at least six states have tried to stem the tide by offering victim compensation programs.

“While no financial compensation can change the past, it is my hope that this program will help survivors in their healing and recovery process,” Joseph C. Bambera, the Scranton bishop, said when the diocese launched its program last fall.

The programs, which are run by third-party administrators outside the church, offer swifter resolution than trials, and alleged victims are less likely to walk away empty-handed. They also shield the church against lawsuits that could cause greater damage.

Payouts pale compared with what victims have won in court. Those who accept settlements must agree not to sue the church in the future.

The programs could ultimately save Catholic institutions hundreds of millions of dollars, said Marci Hamilton, a professor at the University of Pennsylvania who also has worked on clergy abuse cases as a lawyer.

“Settle as many cases as you possibly can, because statute of limitations reform is inevitably going to pass,” she said. “It lets them have the dual action of looking generous but protecting as many assets of the organization as possible.”

Clergy abuse victims face agonizing choices

LONDON (ENGLAND)
Daily Telegraph

July 11, 2019

Jimmy Pliska, of Scranton, Pa., is one of those who is seeking compensation from the church for sexual abuse that happen...

Catholic Church Offers Cash to Settle Abuse Claims—With a Catch

SCRANTON (PA)
The Wall Street Journal

July 11, 2019

By Ian Lovett

A potential flood of lawsuits has spurred the Catholic Church to offer mediation, only if accusers agree not to sue

Four decades ago, Jimmy Pliska says, he was sexually assaulted by his local parish priest on an overnight fishing trip. Now, he has an agonizing decision to make.

Lawsuit: 2 priests abused Sinajana boy in early 1970s

HAGATNA (GUAM)
Pacific Daily News

July 11, 2019

By Haidee Eugenio Gilbert

A lawsuit filed on Thursday afternoon says a Sinajana boy was sexually abused in the early 1970s by two now-deceased priests, including one who told the boy's mother that the molestation and attempted rape were not true.

The plaintiff is identified in federal court documents only with the initials H.H.H. to protect his privacy,.

In his $5 million lawsuit, H.H.H. said Father Louis Brouillard sexually abused him a few times around 1972 or 1973, and Father Antonio Cruz sexually molested and attempted to rape him once around 1973.

H.H.H., represented by attorney David Lujan, said he was about 12 to 13 years old at the time of the priests' abuses.

He said in his lawsuit that after at least four Boy Scouts of America swimming at Lonfit River, he became uncomfortable because Brouillard, a scoutmaster at the time, "encouraged, insisted, required and forced the boys to swim completely in the nude."

The priest, according to the lawsuit, said these were for the purpose of teaching each boy to paddle with the hands and feet, while Brouillard touched and stroked each boy's private parts.

Archbishop of York: Parishes are 'enabling abuse' by refusing to punish paedophiles whom they deem 'lovely people'

LONDON (ENGLAND)
The Telegraph

July 11, 2019

By Gabriella Swerling

The Archbishop of York has blamed parishes for enabling child sexual abuse as they refuse to punish paedophiles whom they deem to be "lovely people" and "fantastic priests".

Dr John Sentamu told a government inquiry yesterday that among some dioceses there was the misconception that safeguarding was merely an "optional extra".

The Archbishop, who is due to retire next year, was responding to allegations that there were attitudes still prevalent within the Church of England that there could be no sex offending without corroborative evidence. He was also questioned about allegations from a surviving victim, the Rev Matthew Ineson.

Giving evidence to the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA) for the first time, Dr Sentamu said: "I have come across [examples] in my diocese where three clergy persons were convicted and the parishes where they had served, they all tell you it couldn't be true, in spite of the fact that people have been convicted."

Dr Sentamu, 70, denied that such attitudes regarding reporting abuse were inextricably linked to the Church.

Former archdeacon jailed again for indecent assault

TYNE AND WEAR (ENGLAND)
ITV Tyne Tees

July 11, 2019

A former senior clergyman has been sentenced to 10 months in prison after being found guilty of two counts of indecently assaulting a young man in the 1970s.

Granville Gibson, who is now 83, was previously Archdeacon of Auckland, a deputy to the Bishop of Durham.

Gibson was found to have deliberately touched a teenager in a sexual manner when he was a vicar in Newton Aycliffe around 40 years ago.

It happened inside the vicarage where Gibson lived, next to St Clare’s Church.

Steve Ebdon, who was 17 or 18 when Gibson assaulted him, has waved his right to anonymity.

He told ITV Tyne Tees he was "dissapoiinted" by the 10 month sentence, calling Gibson "an animal."

In a statement, the Right Revd Paul Butler, Bishop of Durham said:

It is a matter of deep shame and regret that a former priest in the Church of England Granville Gibson has today been found guilty and received a custodial sentence of 10 months for two further counts of indecent assault against a male person. There are no excuses whatsoever for what took place; abuse is a terrible crime and a grievous breach of trust, which has lifelong effects.

Jeffrey Epstein accusers eligible to file lawsuits under New York’s new Child Victims Act

NEW YORK (NY)
Daily News

July 9, 2019

By Stephen Rex Brown

Women who accuse Jeffrey Epstein of abusing them as minors can soon sue him under a new state law that will be used to compensate victims of sex abuse by priests.

Alleged Epstein victims are eligible under the Child Victims Act to bring civil claims against the perv financier for one year starting mid-August.

Too little too late for church

LINCOLN (RI)
Valley Breeze News

July 9, 2019

By Arlene Violet

Despite being prepared for the release of the list of clergy members who had been “credibly accused “of sexually abusing children I still felt sick reading about it. After all, as attorney general in 1985-86 I prosecuted four of those priests and indicted another who ultimately made the Hall of Shame list on perjury charges. Rhode Island was only the second jurisdiction in the United States to prosecute child sex abuse cases where the perpetrator was a priest.

It is difficult to remember that time of innocence when people were actually shocked by such a revelation. Now it is commonplace. Good priests have been victimized by their confreres. Virtually everyone today in a Roman collar is viewed with skepticism.

As bad as the transfer of “guilt by association” is from the guilty priests, the Catholic Church has shot itself in the foot and other parts of its body politic over and over. One of the priests in a rectory who reported the criminal activity of a clergyman was treated as a pariah with then-Bishop Louis Gelineau transferring him out of the Diocese because he was also a priest who belonged to a religious order. The message was loud and clear to other priests namely: shut up or lose your ministry. It was only when the provincial of the religious order agreed to send the reporting priest back to testify that the perpetrator professed guilt pre-trial. Yet, the damage was done since some priests mummed up when they should have had the courage to come forward.

Leader of El Paso Catholic Church testifies in ex-priest's sexual assault trial

EL PASO (TX)
CBS 4 News

July 11, 2019

By Justin Kree

Bishop Mark Seitz of the El Paso Catholic Diocese was called to testify in the trial of a former El Paso priest accused of sexually abusing a young girl in the 1990s.

Seitz was only on the stand for 10 to 15 minutes.

He was questioned about a telephone conversation with former priest Miguel Luna in August 2017.

On Tuesday, Luna pleaded not guilty to all 12 counts of sexual assault of a young girl who served as an altar server in the church where Luna was a priest in El Paso

Seitz faced rapid questioning about the phone call, and was not able to fully answer one question without being asked another.

Seitz recounted that Luna sounded groggy during their conversation — and got angry when Seitz said he had to make public what Luna had done.

Church officials not above the law

SALEM (OH)
Salem News

July 11, 2019

Trust that Roman Catholic Church officials will do the right thing about allegations of sexual misconduct by members of the clergy is in question in many countries, not just the United States. What Pope Francis and others in the Catholic hierarchy do about the matter is watched closely throughout the world.

An announcement by the Vatican that its ambassador to France no longer enjoys diplomatic immunity is welcome, then.

As a diplomat, Archbishop Luigi Ventura normally would have enjoyed immunity from investigation or prosecution involving many crimes. Several men have accused him of touching them inappropriately. Ventura denies the allegations.

But French authorities had said the archbishop’s diplomatic immunity had stalled their investigation into the men’s accusations.

That ended Monday, with the Vatican’s announcement. Now, Ventura can be investigated — and, if appropriate, charged — just like any other visitor to France. Let us hope the matter is cleared up, one way or the other, expeditiously.

Sexual predation by members of the clergy is bad enough. Adding to the outrage over Roman Catholic church handling of such crimes has been a pattern over decades of protecting predators. Instead of reporting them to law enforcement authorities, church officials often transferred guilty priests away from locales where they had abused both children and adults, and to new locations where they sometimes committed the same crimes.

July 10, 2019

Phoenix man says he was sexually abused as altar boy

PHOENIX (AZ)
3TV/CBS 5

July 11, 2019

By Nicole Crites

We are hearing for the first time from a Phoenix man who says he was sexually abused by a former priest who was just extradited to the Valley to face charges after more than a decade on the run.

Now a high school teacher, he asked us to protect his identity as he prepares to testify at trial.

"I'm not showing my face because not everybody can deal with that, and there are gonna be people who say, 'Hey, watch out for this guy,'" he said

He says former father Joseph Henn sexually abused him when he was an altar boy at St. Mark's in the late '70s and early '80s.

"No one, not one, even to today, these many years afterwards (sic), no one from the church has come to interview me or ask, 'What happened?'" he said. "They don't wanna know!

Republican Mark Foley left Congress for hitting on young male pages. Now he’s hoping for a comeback.

LGBTQ Nation blog

July 10, 2019

By John Gallagher

Proving that no offense is too great for Republicans to overlook, Mark Foley is apparently thinking about a political comeback.

In case you’ve forgotten or were unaware, in the early 2000s, Foley was a high-powered Republican in Congress, having first been elected from his Florida district in 1994. Then he ran into a bit of a problem: the story broke that he liked to hit on underage Congressional pages. Male pages, to be exact.

Unfortunately for Foley, he left a huge electronic trail because he liked to email or message pages with ideas that ranged from the suggestive to the explicit. In the latter category: asking a 17-year-old if he wanted to come over to Foley’s place for oral sex. Or asking another page for a picture of his erection. In several cases, Foley did have sex with ex-pages, but after they had turned 18.

Needless to say, Foley’s voting record in Congress was impeccably anti-LGBTQ. Ironically, given his prediliction for underage boys, Foley made opposition to child pornography one of his signature issues.

Foley was a classic example of someone in a glass closet. He was constantly being outed, and once held a press conference to describe the rumors that he was gay as “revolting” – while not denying them.

Leader of El Paso Catholic Church testifies in ex-priest's sexual assault trial

EL PASO (TX)
CBS 4 News

July 10, 2019

By Justin Kree and Jala Washington

Bishop Mark Seitz of the El Paso Catholic Diocese was called to testify in the trial of a former El Paso priest accused of sexually abusing a young girl in the 1990s.

Seitz was only on the stand for 10 to 15 minutes.

He was questioned about a telephone conversation with former priest Miguel Luna in August 2017.

On Tuesday, Luna pleaded not guilty to all 12 counts of sexual assault of a young girl who served as an altar server in the church where Luna was a priest in El Paso.

Seitz faced rapid questioning about the phone call, and was not able to fully answer one question without being asked another.

Seitz recounted that Luna sounded groggy during their conversation — and got angry when Seitz said he had to make public what Luna had done.

Priest abuse victim picketing Catholic churches

NEW LONDON (CT)
The Day

July 10. 2019

By Joe Wojtas

Tim McGuire of New London, who alleges that a Noank priest sexually assaulted him when he was an 8-year-old altar boy in the 1960s, has begun protesting in front of Catholic churches in the Diocese of Norwich.

On Wednesday morning, clad in shorts, T-shirt, flip-flops, sunglasses and a baseball cap, a sweating McGuire walked back and forth along a sunbaked sidewalk in front of St. Patrick Church in downtown Mystic for three hours.

Hundreds and hundreds of people, some who were stuck in traffic waiting for the drawbridge to close or arriving for 12:05 p.m. Mass, saw his signs. Some gave him a thumbs-up, a few pulled over to express support and a few yelled criticisms, accusing him of just wanting a big payout.

Most just slowed down and read his handmade signs which read: "WE ARE NOT SECRET FILES," "WHEN YOU PRAY FOR VICTIMS. BISHOP COTE ABUSES THEM. ASK ME. I'M ONE." and "NORWICH DIOCESE. HUNDREDS OF MOLESTATIONS. DOZENS OF VICTIMS. NO CONVICTIONS. PRETTY SLICK."

Laxity in Seminaries as a Contributing Cause to the Sex-Abuse Crisis

UNITED STATES
National Catholic Register

July 10, 2019

By Janet E. Smith

“Hide the handsome ones.” That was what was “jokingly” said when Theodore McCarrick would visit seminaries. It disgusts me that such “jokes” — which clearly portrayed a reality — did not lead to a thorough investigation of McCarrick decades ago. The likely reason they did not was that, for decades, U.S. seminaries not only tolerated but recruited and favored seminarians who have sex with males.

The McCarrick scandal revealed a fact known by few Catholic laity: Seminarians have been, and still are in some places, preyed upon by faculty, staff, fellow students and even bishops.

The Changing Face of the Priesthood by Father Donald Cozzens (2000) and Goodbye, Good Men by Michael Rose (2002 and reissued in 2015) documented well the extent of the presence of active homosexuals in seminaries among students and faculty and of the accompanying harassment of heterosexuals. A survey done by Dean Hoge at The Catholic University of America in 2002 reported:

“55 percent of priests say such a subculture ‘clearly’ or ‘probably’ exists in their diocese or religious institute. Forty-one percent of priests said a homosexual subculture clearly or probably existed in the seminaries they attended.”

Those comments were made by priests who went through seminaries in the ’70s, ’80s and ’90s. Pope Benedict, in his letter on the sex-abuse crisis, identified the condition of seminaries as one of the sources of the problem.

What Do Jeffrey Epstein, Harvey Weinstein and Theodore McCarrick Have in Common?

DENVER (CO)
National Catholic Register

July 10, 2019

By Jennifer Roback Morse

Jeffrey Epstein, Harvey Weinstein and Theodore McCarrick operate(d) in different sectors of society, have different marital statuses and sexual preferences and profess different religions. What do these disparate men have in common? A belief system that claims that sex is an entitlement. They operate according to the tenets of the most powerful ideology currently at work in the world: the ideology of the sexual revolution.

Epstein, the millionaire financier and admitted sex offender who pleaded not guilty July 9 to charges of sexual trafficking, allegedly got away with sickening crimes for a long time. But it would be a serious mistake to succumb to cynicism. “What do you expect? Wealthy guys like him have always gotten to do what they want. It is not fair to blame the sexual revolution for their abuses.”

That is, at best, a partial truth. The rich and powerful have always been able to buy their way out of problems that would crush an ordinary person. But the widespread acceptance of the sexual revolutionary ideology smooths their path. To an unprecedented extent, the reigning secular religion of our time enables sexual abuse, disarms victims and empowers predators.

“You don’t want to be a prude, do you?”

“You want to be ‘sex positive,’ don’t you?”

“Sex is nothing to feel guilty about.”

“You just have to take off your clothes and let him look at you. It is nothing be ashamed of.” (That’s one of Epstein’s contributions to the pick-up-line genre.)

“You were born this way.”

Detroit Pastor, Founder of Accused Priest Support Group, Under Investigation

DENVER (CO)
Catholic News Agency

July 10, 2019

By Christine Rousselle

A priest in the Archdiocese of Detroit who helped to found a nonprofit to support priests accused of abuse, has been temporarily removed from ministry and is the subject of a canonical investigation, the archdiocese has confirmed.

Father Eduard Perrone, pastor at Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Grotto) Parish in Detroit, was accused of groping a former altar boy. The priest strenuously denies the allegations. His suspension was announced by the archdiocese on Sunday, July 7.

After receiving authorization from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the archdiocese conducted a preliminary investigation, the first stage of a canonical process, into the allegations against Perrone. A subsequent presentation to the Archdiocesan Review Board “found that there was a semblance of truth to the allegation,” Monsignor Mike Bugarin told CNA on Tuesday.

Bugarin serves as Episcopal Vicar and Delegate for Matters of Clergy Misconduct in the Detroit archdiocese.

While speaking to CNA, the monsignor avoided describing the charges as either “credible” or “substantiated” and emphasized that at this stage the only conclusion had been of a “semblance of truth.”

Semblance of truth is a legal standard in canon law usually defined as “not manifestly false or frivolous” that establishes only that an allegation cannot be immediately dismissed as factually impossible.

Bugarin emphasized that the process is still in the “very beginning” stages, and will now be referred back to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith for further evaluation.

The Archdiocese of Detroit declined to provide details of when the alleged incident is said to have taken place, citing the ongoing nature of investigations, but did confirm that the alleged incident concerns Perrone’s “earlier years of ministry.”

Catholic Church in California Lobbies Against Legislation Aimed at Protecting Children and Preventing Abuse

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

July 10, 2019

A bill that was aimed at reforming mandated reporting laws to ensure that all crimes committed against children are reported to the authorities immediately was withdrawn from consideration following extensive lobbying by the Catholic Conference of California. We are disappointed that, once again, church officials have mobilized to defeat legislation that could help prevent more cases of abuse in the future.

SB 360, a bill that was sponsored by State Senator Jerry Hill, would have removed an exception to California’s mandated reporting rule that allowed Catholic clergy to refrain from reporting any crime they learned about in confessional. But thanks to extensive lobbying from the Catholic Conference of California, this loophole will remain intact for the time being.

Once again, church officials have poured tons of money, time and effort into defeating legislative reform aimed at preventing abuse. Given that the church has spent more than $10 million knocking down other legislation that would benefit survivors and protect children, we are not surprised, simply disappointed.

Wrongdoing will Thrive when Wrongdoers are Promoted

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

July 3, 2019

Why does wrongdoing thrive in the Catholic hierarchy? Here’s the answer in a nutshell.

Two controversial bishops have recently landed cushy jobs in Rome, showing again that corrupt clerics continue to be protected – and sometimes promoted – which only encourages more wrongdoing.

A German bishop, ousted because of his extravagant spending, is now “a Vatican official,” notes veteran church observer John Allen. He’s Bishop Franz-Peter Tebartz-van Elst, better known as the “Bishop of Bling.

And Argentinian Bishop Gustavo Zanchetta resigned as head of his Argentinean diocese in 2017 – first, facing financial misconduct charges and later, adult sexual abuse charges.

“Despite that, Francis in 2017 not only brought Zanchetta to Rome but named his now Assessor to the Administration of the Patrimony of the Apostolic See (APSA), the Vatican’s financial powerhouse which oversees both the Holy See’s investment portfolio and its real estate holdings in Italy and around the world,” reports Allen.

Until misconduct is punished, misconduct will thrive.

Diocese releases several names of priests accused of sex abuse from Tri-Cities

YAKIMA (WA)
KEPR TV

July 10, 2019

By Thomas Yazwinski

The names of dozens priests and deacons in Central Washington with substantial sexual abuse allegations were released on Wednesday.

Bishop Joseph Tyson, after thorough consultation and upon the recommendation of the Yakima Diocese Lay Advisory Board, has established a website listing the names of priests and deacons with substantiated allegations of sexual abuse of a minor during their time of ministry within the Diocese of Yakima.

Officials say the decision is based on the bishop's desire for transparency and to encourage victims of abuse to come forward.

The following is a list of all the names of men who served in the area of the Tri-Cities:

Dale Calhoun was permanently removed from ministry. He had multiple claims and lawsuits settled. He served at St. Francis Cabrini in Benton City and St. Joseph in Kennewick.

Robert Davalle was permanently removed from ministry. He admitted to abusing minors and is currently incarcerated. He served at Christ the King in Richland.

Brian Gallagher is now deceased. He served at St. Frances Xavier Cabrini in Benton City.

Gustavo Gomez has been permanently removed from ministry. He served at St. Francis Xavier Cabrini in Benton City.

Peter Hagel is now retired and not in the ministry. He has a lawsuit pending in a new case. He served at St. Francis Xavier Cabrini in Benton City.

Anthony King is now deceased. He had a lawsuit settled regarding sexual abuse. He served at Christ the King in Richland and Sacred Heart Parish in Prosser.

Joseph Sondergeld is now deceased. He had multiple claims and lawsuits settled. He served at
Sacred Heart in Prosser.

John Tholen is now deceased. He had a lawsuit settled and had retired in 1997. He served at Sacred Heart in Prosser.

Vatican hailed for lifting apostolic nuncio's immunity

PARIS (FRANCE)
LaCroix International

July 10, 2019

By Nicolas Senèze

The Vatican has officially waived the diplomatic immunity of the Apostolic Nuncio in France, Archbishop Luigi Ventura, allowing him to appear before a civil court where six complainants have accused him of sexual assault.

This decision, unprecedented in the history of modern Vatican diplomacy, was communicated last week to the French authorities by the Secretariat of State of the Vatican.

Even before that, according to our information, two victims met a key figure in Rome: Father Hans Zollner, President of the Centre for the Protection of Minors of the Pontifical Gregorian University, a specialist in cases of sexual abuse in the Church.

Personal twist to drama about pedophilia in the Church

PARIS (FRANCE)
LaCroix International

July 10, 2019

By Céline Hoyeau

"This gift is not shown, it is not shared, it is not talked about, out of modesty, out of shame, out of fear of the eyes of others.

"This "gift" is the abuse Gabriel suffered at the hands of a priest at the age of 8, a gift that poisons his adult life and the relationship he is trying to build with Camille.

Their story intersects with the stories of two other characters, Father François and Sister Blandine, while the nun tries to open the priest's eyes to the drama of pedophilia, convinced that "true indifference is not to not look but to feel nothing."

Reporters will need help from canon lawyers to correctly explain California’s confession bill

Get Religion blog

July 10, 2019

By Clemente Lisi

In this politically polarized world, there are issues that can drive a large wedge between people — including several that, one way or another, are tied to religion.

Immigration and abortion are two of the biggest in the Donald Trump era, issues that dominated the Supreme Court’s recently-completed term and the Democratic presidential primaries that are just underway. Then again, immigration and abortion are the issues that dominate news on the web and cable TV.

Religious freedom, an old-school liberal issue now largely taken up by conservatives, is often lost in mainstream news coverage. Lost in this coverage is an issue of such importance to Roman Catholics, that it may very well be the biggest fallout to come from years of clerical sex abuse when it comes to how it affects the law.

The California State Senate, controlled by Democrats, recently passed a bill (the first of its kind in the United States) that would compel a priest — violating centuries of Catholic law and tradition — to disclose to civil authorities any information learned in the confessional if it involves the sexual abuse of a minor committed by another priest or lay worker. The bill was supposed to head to the State Assembly later this summer, where Democrats hold a majority.

On Tuesday, on the eve of a scheduled hearing, State Sen. Jerry Hill withdrew the bill after realizing he didn’t have the votes to get it passed out of committee. Opponents may have rejoiced, but this issue is far from over. It certainly will gather steam again in future legislative sessions. That means reporters need to be better equipped to cover such an issue in a balanced and fair way.

Child rights body files case against Kerala priest who was held for abusing minors

MUMBAI (INDIA)
Times Now News

July 10, 2019

The Kerala State Commission for Protection of Child Rights (CPCR) on Tuesday has filed a case against the Kerala Catholic priest who was recently arrested by the police for sexually abusing minor boys.

The director of the boys' home in Kochi, Father George TJ alias Jerry, was arrested by the Kerala police on Sunday. The arrest was made following a complaint by the parents of the victims, who alleged that their boys were being abused for over six months now.

According to a report, the Kerala CPCR said that the boy's home has been working without authorisation, it was closed down by the commission in March 2018. The commission chairperson, P Suresh said that the commission observed that accommodating children secretly without authorisation was a major offence, the higher authorities of the institution will also have to face the legal action as per the Juvenile Justice Act.

In the wake of such incidents of sexual harassment, the commission has directed the police officials and the Social Justice Department to raid and inspect institutions across the state which had been closed down in 2018 for not being registered under the Juvenile Justice Act.

Sex Abuse and a FOCUS Missionary

Patheos blog

July 10, 2019

By Guest Contributor

I don’t usually write when I’m this angry.

Healthy ways of dealing with anger is something I’m working on in therapy. But you know what? I don’t give a flying fuck right now because if I don’t write this down now, I’m going to be raging the rest of the day. Not good for my home life and not good for my blood pressure. Oh, and if you didn’t realize that fucks fly, you’re probably too sensitive for this article.

I gave a FOCUS missionary some choice words after Mass today, and I’m not done.

Because I’m the joyful parent of a toddler, most of my experience of Mass is now spent running and dragging my screaming offspring out of the sanctuary. After the regular announcements, our pastor invited the resident FOCUS missionary to share his usual spiel at the ambo. I didn’t catch most of it – because I was making sure said toddler didn’t eat another kid’s crayons – but I did hear mention of the typical statistics of why Catholic young people leave the Church. He ended with an invitation to come speak with him in the narthex afterward. Before my toddler tried to pop me in the eye, I considered that.

Should I go talk to him? There will probably be other people congratulating him on saving Western Civilization from secularism. Hmmm.

Priest Accused of Abuse in Fargo Sent to Corpus Christi

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

July 10, 2019

A North Dakota priest was just named publicly as an alleged abuser. He was ordained in a religious order based out of Corpus Christi, TX and apparently sent back there after the abuse was reported to church officials in Fargo. Despite this, he has not been named on any list of accused priests nor was the local community alerted to his presence. We are calling on church officials in Texas to explain why.

According to the West Fargo Pioneer, Fr. Michael Wright is alleged to have assaulted a vulnerable adult at St. Ann’s Catholic Church in Belcourt, ND. According to the woman’s attorneys, following the receipt of the allegations church officials in the Diocese of Fargo sent Fr. Wright back to Corpus Christi, TX for “counseling,” although they apparently did so without notifying communities in either Belcourt or Corpus Christi why the reassignment occurred.

We cannot help but consider that church officials in this case failed in their responsibility and promise to be “open and honest” in cases of clergy abuse.The lack of public disclosure from the Diocese of Corpus Christi is especially egregious given that their list of “credibly” accused priests was released earlier this year, and the society into which Fr. Wright was ordained is also headquartered in the Diocese of Corpus Christi.

Vatican’s move regarding its French ambassador is the right one

MARIETTA (OH)
Marietta Times

July 10, 2019

Trust that Roman Catholic Church officials will do the right thing about allegations of sexual (and other) misconduct by members of the clergy is in question in many countries, not just the United States. What Pope Francis and others in the Catholic hierarchy do about the matter is watched closely throughout the world.

An announcement by the Vatican that its ambassador to France no longer enjoys diplomatic immunity is welcome, then.

As a diplomat, Archbishop Luigi Ventura normally would have enjoyed immunity from investigation or prosecution involving many crimes. Several men have accused him of touching them inappropriately. Ventura denies the allegations.

But French authorities said the archbishop’s diplomatic immunity stalled their investigation into the men’s accusations.

That ended Monday, with the Vatican’s announcement. Now, Ventura can be investigated — and, if appropriate, charged — just like any other visitor to France. Let us hope the matter is cleared up, one way or the other, expeditiously.

Bill to make priests report abuse put on hold in California

SACRAMENTO (CA)
Associated Press

July 9, 2019

By Adam Beam

A bill that would require California religious leaders to report their co-workers' confessions of child abuse or neglect has been put on hold amid opposition from the Catholic church.

California law already requires clergy to report knowledge of child abuse and neglect. But they can keep it a secret if they learned about it during a confession.

State Sen. Jerry Hill, a Democrat from San Mateo, wrote a bill this year to change that, but only if the confession was from another religious leader or someone who works at the church. It passed the Senate by a vote of 30-4 in May.

On Tuesday, Hill announced he was putting the bill on hold because it did not have enough support to pass the state Assembly. But Hill said the issue remains important to him, and he vowed to continue his efforts to pass it.

July 9, 2019

Catholic priest, Father Adrian Cristobal accused of sex abuse by fourth person

HAGATNA (GUAM)
Pacific Daily New

July 10, 2019

By Haidee Eugenio Gilbert

After former altar boys tearfully went public with allegations, a law was passed to open doors for lawsuits against the church, clergy and others. Wochit

Father Adrian Cristobal, who was sanctioned by the Archdiocese of Agana in 2018 for failing to return to Guam after he was named in three child sexual abuse lawsuits, has been accused of sexually abusing a fourth minor.

The fourth lawsuit against Cristobal was filed on Wednesday in federal court by a plaintiff identified in court documents only as D.D.D. to protect his privacy. D.D.D. said in his $5 million lawsuit that Cristobal sexually abused him from about early 2008 to 2010, when he was about 12 to 14 years old.

At the time of the alleged abuses, D.D.D. was a volunteer for the San Vicente Ferrer/San Roke Catholic Church in Barrigada, where Cristobal was the parish priest.

"During the entire two-year period when he served as a volunteer, plaintiff was sexually molested and abused every Saturday, without fail, by Adrian," the lawsuit says.

“It Was Her Fault” Attorneys Claim Fargo Diocese Blamed Alleged Sexual Assault Survivor

FARGO (ND)
KVRR TV

July 8, 2019

By Austin Erickson

Attorneys for an alleged sexual assault survivor say the Fargo Diocese told them “it was her fault” after coming forward.

The law firms of Bradshaw and Bryant and O’Keeffe O’Brien Lyson Foss will hold a press conference Thursday, July 11 in Fargo. They claim Father Michael Wright abused someone at St. Ann’s Catholic Church in Belcourt, North Dakota.

Lawyers claim the Diocese responded by “blaming the survivor and shipping Father Michael Wright back to Texas to the Society of Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity community without an investigation.” They also say the SOLT sent Father Wright to counseling following the alleged assault which they call “reprehensible.”

The firms demand the Diocese disclose its list of known offending priests. They’re also calling on the North Dakota legislature to open up the statute of limitations so “offenders can no longer be shielded from civil remedies.”

After Almost a Year, the Public Deserves Answers on Accused Priest

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

July 9, 2019

Almost a year ago, a New Jersey priest accused of sexual abuse voluntarily stepped down from ministry, but so far Newark church officials have neither resolved the case or updated parishioners and the public. It is time for Archbishop John Tobin to provide answers.

According to the Newark Star Ledger, Fr. Jim Weiner was allowed to step down from his position last August following allegations that he sexually assaulted a seminarian in the 1980s. Fr. Weiner’s accuser said he reached a settlement with the church in 2004 over the alleged abuse, but the priest was permitted to continue his ministry.

In a story last week, the newspaper noted “Fr. Weiner is still listed as pastor of St. Andrew’s Parish on its website, but parishioners said he has not preached since he voluntarily stepped aside.”

We hope anyone with information or suspicions about Fr. Weiner – or any Newark church staffer – will come forward to trusted, independent sources of help, like local police and prosecutors. We also hope that church whistleblowers will especially take this step, now that they have been promised protection by Pope Francis.

It’s a sin to put money in the church collection plate

MELBOURNE (AUSTRALIA)
The New Daily

July 9, 2019

By Garry Linnell

We went because of the kid. He’s only 11 years old, this godson of ours, still in the last days of innocence, that wonderful time before voices break and pimples erupt with the fury of Mount Vesuvius to herald entry into a harsher, more complicated world.

His mother is a lapsed churchgoer. No longer believes in the Old Man upstairs.

But she wanted her son confirmed as a Catholic in an understandable nod to family tradition and, more importantly, to ensure he remains in the warm bosom of a heavily subsidised private school.

So there we were, hundreds crammed into an old church, gulping fumes of sickly sweet incense while a two-hour Mass celebrated the confirmation of dozens of young boys and girls.

As it finally drew to a close, a familiar sound woke many of us from our Sunday afternoon stupor. It wasn’t the angelic voices of the choir. Not even a few Latin sentences mumbled by a tuneless bishop.

Nay, it was the sound of cash registers.

It was time for the collection plates to do the rounds. Except these were no ordinary plates. These had nets attached, some so large they must have been borrowed from passing fishing trawlers.

Been a while since the old church had enjoyed a full house like this and despite having staged Mass at least twice that day, this was an opportunity too good to pass up.

But as the day’s catch of coins and notes began to grow, I sat firmly on my wallet. I don’t mind giving. But handing over cash to a tax-exempt organisation with an estimated $30 billion Australian property portfolio?

Blindly donating to an institution that provides little transparency on how it spends the dough?

Problem is, I’ve seen where some of it goes.

Former El Paso Catholic priest's sexual assault trial begins

EL PASO (TX)
CBS 4 News

July 9, 2019

By Justin Kree

Former El Paso priest Miguel Luna, who is accused of sexually assaulting an underage girl decades ago, was in court Tuesday morning for the start of his trial.

“A wolf in sheep clothing” is how prosecutors described the former El Paso priest Miguel Luna.

The state went on to say that he used his position of trust to sexually assault the victim back in the 1990s.

The state said the victim was a little girl who was an alter server at Corpus Cristi Catholic Church in El Paso.

Then the defense spoke during their opening statement -- using the same analogy agreeing that Luna is a wolf, stating that a wolf in nature stays faithful and only has one mate.

Luna’s attorneys describing that mate as the Catholic Church to Luna and he remained faithful during his years as a priest.

The victim took the stand after the statements, explaining that she was 8 years old when she was first an alter server helping then-Rev. Luna during Mass.

The victim testified that she was in a private confessional with Luna about two years later when the first abuse started.

The victim said that during the confession is when he first pulled the victims chair closer to him to where their legs were touching and asked her everything from if she has a boyfriend, to if she watches pornographic material, then asking if she masturbates.

A Seminarian and Survivor Addresses the Abuse Crisis

Patheos blog

July 9, 2019

By Guest Contributor

[Blogger’s note: this piece was submitted to me by someone I’ve verified is a Catholic seminarian, currently studying at a seminary in the United States. I offered to let him write anonymously so that he could reach others without his privacy being endangered at the seminary. I think that young men like this, who understand what abuse really is, are the very people we need more of in the priesthood if we are ever to heal the Church. –Mary Pezzulo]

Brother seminarians, we are living in challenging times. You truly are doing something heroic for accepting the cross of pursuing intellectual, human, spiritual, and pastoral formation for Holy Orders, despite what is going on around us in the Church. Of the time I have spent in seminary formation, this past year has been the most challenging year by far.

We came to seminary, some of us for the first time, with the elephant of the allegations of then-Cardinal McCarrick’s abuse of seminarians no different than ourselves surrounding us in the room. We wondered what more bad news the year would hold, and we weathered a trickle, then a stream, and finally a torrent of even worse news. We heard of perpetrators and more scandals both near and far, and we wondered if we were crazy for pursuing the sacrament of holy orders when some who have gone before us were proving themselves capable of the most egregious sins of unholiness imaginable. How are we to respond?

Discerning out of seminary sometimes seemed like the easy way out of this crisis, but we know that God did not call us to seminary only to discern out when confronted with deep scandal in the Church, but rather to become holy men formed after his Sacred Heart and capable of serving the Church through the celebration of the sacraments. We need only to look to the words of St. Peter, the father and founder of our beautiful Catholic faith, to find the path forward to greater holiness: “Like obedient children, do not act in compliance with the desires of your former ignorance, but, as he who called you is holy, be holy yourselves in every aspect of your conduct, for it is written, ‘Be holy because I am holy.’” It is only by uniting ourselves to Christ that we can achieve the holiness that is needed. As men of the Church, we are to strive for holiness in all things, whether they be big things or little things.

Former Northwoods Catholic priest convicted of sexual abuse to live in Merrill soon

WAUSAU (WI)
Wausau Daily Herald

July 9, 2019

By Natalie Brophy

A former Northwoods Catholic priest released from custody in June will soon live in Merrill.

Beginning Saturday, David J. Malsch, 80, will live at N2345 Memorial Drive in Merrill, according to the Lincoln County Sheriff's Office. He previously lived at N4883A Lilac Lane in Gleason when he was released June 19.

Malsch, who was ordained as a Catholic priest in 1967, is accused of sexually abusing at least three young boys while he worked at churches in Superior and Tomahawk, according to bishopaccountability.org, a website that tracks abuse by Catholic priests.

In 1993, he was convicted of child enticement in Marathon County. In that case, Malsch took a 14-year-old with learning disabilities to a hotel in Rib Mountain, gave him alcohol and took nude photos of him. Malsch also showed the boy pornography, according to Wausau Daily Herald archives.

Malsch was civilly committed in 2001 under Wisconsin's sexual predator law and sent to a treatment facility for "troubled priests" in Missouri, according to bishopaccountability.org. Malsch stayed at the center until 2003, until he was caught with child pornography in his room and sentenced to nine years in federal prison. He was removed from the priesthood in 2005, according bishopaccountability.org.

Pittsburgh Catholic Diocese places deacon on leave over allegation

PITTSBURGH (PA)
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

July 8, 2019

The Roman Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh has confirmed it placed a deacon on leave pending an investigation into “an allegation of inappropriate conduct with a minor.”

The deacon, John C. Miller, of St. Teresa of Avila Parish in Ross, was placed on leave in 2018, according to the Rev. Nicholas Vaskov, diocesan spokesman.

Deacon Miller was accused of an unwanted kiss to a minor girl, the “first such allegation ever made against him,” according to a statement from Father Vaskov. He was placed on leave, forbidden from doing ministry or presenting himself as a deacon, while the investigation was pending.

The case required a preliminary investigation, “which was delayed due to grave health issues Deacon Miller was facing,” said Father Vaskov.

Jesuit leader encourages sexual abuse victims to testify

FRANCE
La Croix International

July 9, 2019

By Céline Hoyeau

Head of French-speaking Jesuit Province of Western Europe acknowledges congregation has been slow to act but insists it's been 'deeply affected' by victims' stories
A Jesuit provincial has defended his congregation against accusations it has dragged its feet over the issue of sexual abuse and says its attitude toward the issue has been "transformed" after meetings with victims.

The Society of Jesus in France has just published an appeal in which it encourages victims of abuse committed by Jesuits to make themselves known to the Independent Commission on Sexual Abuse in the Church and its own professional conduct team.

Jeffrey Epstein, billionaire and former friend of Duke of York, 'charged with sex trafficking'

NEW YORK (NY)
The Telegraph

July 7, 2019

By David Millward

Jeffrey Epstein, a billionaire financier and former friend of the Duke of York, Donald Trump and Bill Clinton, has been charged with sex trafficking, according to reports in the US.

Epstein, 66, was arrested by FBI officers on Saturday, the New York Police Department confirmed. He was apprehended when his private jet landed at Teterboro Airport in New Jersey following a trip to Paris.

According to the Federal Bureau of Prisons website, Epstein is currently being held at the Metropolitan Correctional Centre in Manhattan.

He is due to appear before a federal magistrate on Monday to face charges dating back to the 2000s.

The latest allegations come more than a decade after Epstein avoided federal criminal charges under a plea deal which faced considerable criticism.

Morrisey renews request for Diocese to release Bransfield report

CHARLESTON (WV)
West Virginia Record

July 3, 2019

By Kyla Asbury

West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey urged again for the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston to release its report on former Bishop Michael Bransfield, calling the Diocese's attempt to dismiss his suit an attempt to conceal the report.

"The Diocese’s latest motion to dismiss represents yet another attempt to sidestep transparency as it continues to conceal its investigative report on former Bishop Bransfield in hopes to distract public attention from allegations that it employed pedophiles, failed to conduct background checks and condoned Bransfield’s alleged sexual harassment of employees and others," Morrisey said in a statement. "The Diocese did not issue its list of credibly accused priests until after issuance of our first investigative subpoena in fall 2018, and continues to demonstrate a pattern of concealing information until external pressure from our office and the media forces its hand."

Morrisey said his office's lawsuit against the Diocese chronicles its decades-long pattern of concealing criminal behavior of priests as it relates to sexual abuse of children, while it advertised its schools and camps as safe learning environments.

"It is past time for the Diocese to come clean," Morrisey said. "We reiterate our call for the Diocese to release all relevant materials, including the Bransfield report. Not only will this allow us to move this matter toward resolution; it is essential for the Church to restore public trust."

Billionaire Jeffrey Epstein Arrested for Sex Trafficking Minors

UNITED STATES
Rolling Stone

July 7, 2019

By Peter Wade

Billionaire Jeffrey Epstein was arrested on Saturday for allegedly sex trafficking dozens of minor girls, some as young as 14, The Daily Beast reported. The investor, who was arrested by the FBI-NYPD Crimes Against Children Task Force, is expected to appear in federal court on Monday.

Twelve years ago in 2007, Epstein escaped harsh punishment when he secured a secret non-prosecution plea deal with Florida federal prosecutors, including the man who is now President Donald Trump’s labor secretary, Alexander Acosta. In the subsequent years, Epstein was hit with numerous lawsuits from victims and media investigations into his abuse of young women but managed to evade federal charges, thanks in large part to his wealth and connections, until now.

Lori says he hopes report on Bransfield sees light of day

WHEELING (WV)
The Parkersburg News and Sentinel

July 7, 2019

The Vatican will decide whether a un-redacted report will be publicly released on the investigation of the former bishop of the Diocese Wheeling-Charleston, the apostolic administrator of the diocese said in an interview with the Wheeling News-Register this week.

Archbishop William Lori of Baltimore was appointed last year by Pope Francis to head the diocese and conduct an investigation into former Bishop Michael Bransfield.

The investigation report was obtained by The Washington Post, which said it cited lavish spending and gifts given by Bransfield, including spending diocese funds on a personal residence, spending thousands of dollars a month on alcoholic drink and buying gifts for other clergy.

Lori, who reimbursed the diocese for gifts he had received from Bransfield over the years, told interviewers he wanted the full report publicly released.

Warnings about WV bishop went unheeded as he doled out cash gifts to Catholic leaders

WEST VIRGINIA
The Washington Post

July 3, 2019

By Robert O’Harrow Jr. and Shawn Boburg

Senior Catholic leaders in the United States and the Vatican began receiving warnings about West Virginia Bishop Michael Bransfield as far back as 2012. In letters and emails, parishioners claimed that Bransfield was abusing his power and misspending church money on luxuries such as a personal chef, a chauffeur, first-class travel abroad and more than $1 million in renovations to his home.

Vatican to open tombs in bid to solve 36-year-old cold case

ROME
CNN

July 2, 2019

By Hada Messia and Lauren Said-Moorhouse

The Vatican has ordered two of its own tombs to be searched -- the latest twist in the mysterious disappearance of a teenager, 36 years ago.

Emanuela Orlandi was 15 when she vanished without a trace in the summer of 1983. The daughter of a prominent employee of the Institute for the Works of Religion -- better known as the Vatican Bank -- Orlandi was last seen at a music lesson in the grounds of Sant'Apollinare basilica in Rome.

On Tuesday, Gian Piero Milano, the Vatican's Promoter of Justice, authorized two exhumations in response to a petition launched by the teenager's family, who believe that her body is buried at the Teutonic Cemetery in Vatican City.

Exclusive: Officials substantiate child sex abuse allegations at prominent DC synagogue's preschool

WASHINGTON (DC)
CNN

July 2, 2019

By Daniel Burke

Officials have substantiated multiple accusations of child sexual abuse by a preschool teacher at a prominent synagogue in Washington, DC, according to a cease-and-desist letter sent by the DC superintendent of education to the synagogue in June.

The letter says the district's Child and Family Services Agency found that "more than one child was a victim of sexual abuse by the alleged maltreator" at Washington Hebrew Congregation's preschool.

CNN obtained a copy of the letter through a Freedom of Information Act request.

Founded in 1852, Washington Hebrew Congregation, is one of DC's oldest and most prominent Jewish institutions, attended by the city's Jewish elites for generations.

But the congregation and its early childhood education center have been thrown into turmoil since allegations of child sexual abuse arose last August. The cease-and-desist letter is believed to be the first public finding of an investigation into the alleged abuse at the school by DC authorities.

University of Utah officer who mishandled Lauren McCluskey’s concerns has now been disciplined for mistakes on another domestic violence case

SALT LAKE CITY (UT)
The Salt Lake Tribune

July 1, 2019

By Courtney Tanner
·
Officer Miguel Deras mishandled reports from student-athlete Lauren McCluskey weeks before she was killed on campus last fall. But instead of being fired, he and the entire University of Utah Police Department went through training to better recognize the warning signs of domestic violence he and others had missed.

Then, months later, Deras made the same mistakes again on another woman’s case.

And for that, he received the first written warning in his personnel file. It’s the only disciplinary action at the school, so far, to come out of the department’s shortcomings and subsequent reform after McCluskey’s murder on Oct. 22. U. President Ruth Watkins had said shortly after McCluskey’s death that no individual officers would be punished for how they had managed — or mismanaged — her case. Watkins has held to that.

Bill to require California priests to report confessions of child sex abuse on hold

SAN JOSE (CA)
Mercury News

July 9, 2019

By John Woolfolk

The author of a California bill strongly opposed by the Roman Catholic Church that would require priests to report confessions of child sex abuse to authorities said Tuesday he has put it on hold, citing lack of support.

SB 360 by Sen. Jerry Hill, D-San Mateo, had passed out of the state Senate on a 30-4-4 vote May 23. But Hill’s office said he pulled it from a scheduled Tuesday Assembly Public Safety Committee hearing after he “became aware that the legislation would not have enough support to move on.”

“This issue remains important to me, and I will continue to champion it in the hope that my colleagues can come together on legislation,” Hill said in a statement Tuesday. “I strongly believe that for any institution self-policing and self-investigation are not effective ways to combat alleged abuse, as our own state Legislature has found. To be clear, I have placed SB 360 on hold. The bill is on pause, it has not been withdrawn.”

The Roman Catholic Church, struggling to restore parishioners’ confidence amid accusations that some high-ranking clergy had helped cover up reports of abuse by priests, opposed the bill as an assault on the sacrament of Reconciliation. Priests have told parishioners at Sunday Mass that the bill was a threat to their core beliefs.

“An amazing number of people spoke to their legislators to explain the sacred nature of the sacrament of Reconciliation,” said Andrew Rivas, executive director of the California Catholic Conference. “It is important to our spirituality and our relation to God and to others. Our thanks go to all who played a part.”

Archbishop of Canterbury says failure on child sexual abuse is 'knife in Church's soul'

LONDON (ENGLAND)
The Telegraph

July 9, 2019

By Gabriella Swerling

The Archbishop of Canterbury has told Church of England leaders that their failure to deal with child sexual abuse is "a knife in our soul".

Speaking at the opening of the General Synod in York on Friday, the Most Rev Justin Welby told an audience of hundreds of synod members that there is much more progress to be made in the wake of the safeguarding scandal.

He said that "every time the Archbishop of York or I see another case where there's a falling short of our response, it is a knife in our soul".

The Archbishop of Canterbury, along with Dr John Sentamu, are due to give evidence at the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA) later this week.

The Archbishops are the two most senior members of the Church of England. Previous findings from IICSA have already concluded that the Church's response to sexual abuse allegations was "marked by secrecy". This investigation into the Anglican Church is currently assessing the appropriateness of safeguarding and child-protection policies and practices.

Gallup: Confidence in Organized Religion is at an All-Time Low (Again)

Patheos blog

July 9, 2019

By Hemant Mehta

How much confidence do you have in organized religion?

Gallup asks that question every couple of years, and once again, we can safely say confidence in churches is at an all-time low. Only 36% of Americans say they have a “great deal” of confidence in organized religion.

Confidence in organized religion topped confidence in all other institutions from 1973 to 1985, and, even after falling amid televangelist scandals in the 1980s, it registered at the majority level consistently until 2001. After the Boston Globe‘s 2002 expose revealed Catholic church leaders were aware of and did not take strong action to stop serial sex abuse by priests, confidence in organized religion dropped sharply to 45%. It recovered slightly in the years after the scandal broke, hovering around the 50% mark. Between 2010 and 2017, it regularly registered in the 40s. Since then, in 2018 and 2019, Americans’ confidence in religion has been below the 40% mark.

All the more reason to keep pointing out and criticizing the problems with faith. It’s easier today more than ever — in part because of how Donald Trump has become a magnet for white evangelicals, a pairing that will hopefully become an albatross around their necks for decades to come. In the past couple of years, we’ve also seen major sex scandals in evangelical megachurches, the Southern Baptist Convention, and whatever shopping malls Roy Moore decides to visit.

Then there’s the continued bigotry against LGBTQ people and the advocacy for cruel anti-abortion policies that, if upheld, will inevitably lead to the death of many women.

Vatican Waives Immunity for Archbishop Accused of Abuse

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

July 8, 2019

The Vatican has apparently waived diplomatic immunity for a French archbishop accused of abuse. We are encouraged by this move and long for the day such cooperation with law enforcement is an everyday procedure for church officials.

We are cautious, however, because so often the church hierarchy tends to act properly only in the most high profile of all cases, such as with the case of Theodore McCarrick. In the past year, we have seen many announcements from church officials that seem to exaggerate the importance of one decision, claiming that these choices herald ‘a new day’ in how church officials deal with abuse and cover up. We hope that church officials will not revert to the secretive patterns of old once the glare of publicity wanes.

Still, no one can deny the decision to waive immunity for Archbishop Luigi Ventura is a positive step forward. We hope it will prompt other church employees, not only in France but throughout the world, to call police with information or suspicions about clergy sex crimes and cover ups.

Vatican lifts diplomatic immunity for envoy facing assault claims

LONDON (ENGLAND)
The Guardian

July 9, 2019

By Harriet Sherwood

The Vatican has waived diplomatic immunity for its envoy to France, who is under investigation for sexual assault.

The move – an indication of the Vatican’s tougher approach to sexual misconduct and abuse – clears the way for Archbishop Luigi Ventura, the apostolic nuncio, to face criminal charges.

Ventura, 74, is accused of molesting a male employee of Paris city authorities during a new year reception at which Anne Hidalgo, the mayor of Paris, addressed diplomats, religious leaders and civil society figures. Parisian authorities have been investigating the allegation for several months.

According to a judicial source, “during the ceremony, a city employee was repeatedly groped on the backside, in three instances, once in front of a witness”.

In March, Nathalie Loiseau, France’s minister of European affairs, urged the Vatican to waive immunity.

“At this point, [Ventura] benefits from diplomatic immunity, but the Holy See is clearly aware of the serious accusations that have been brought against the apostolic nuncio and I don’t doubt for a second that the Holy See will do the right thing,” Loiseau said.

Victorian priest convicted of sexual abuse has suffered enough, his lawyer says

SYDNEY (AUSTRALIA)
7 News Australia

July 8, 2019

By Karen Sweeney

A Victorian pedophile priest has admitted to more offending, but his lawyer argues he shouldn't be given a longer jail sentence because he's already been vilified.

Robert Claffey, 76, is serving more than a decade in prison for sexual crimes against children, but on Monday he admitted abusing another two boys when he was a parish priest in Ballarat in the 1980s.

Prosecutors have called for a lengthier non-parole period as Claffey's victim count rises.

But his lawyer appealed for his release date to remain the same because he's already been "hunted" by the media and vilified by the community after being moved from parish to parish by the Catholic Church while he offended.

One of the victims was aged between 12 and 15 at the time he was abused, the other was aged between six and seven.

Claffey was a priest at Our Lady Help of Christians Church in Wendouree and abused his first victim while providing counselling to the boy in his bedroom.

He kissed, touched and abused the boy.

BROUGHT INTO THE SUN: SPEAKING TRUTH TO MENNONITE COLLEGES

Into Account blog

July 8, 2019

By Erin Bergen, Stephanie Krehbiel and Hilary Jerome Scarsella

In March of this past spring, Into Account received an unexpected invitation from Mennonite Church USA, the largest Mennonite denomination in the U.S., to present two panels at their biennial convention in July 2019, together with an offer for free booth space in the convention’s exhibit hall. While we were honored by the invitation, we struggled initially with whether accepting it made sense to our organizational mission. Mennonite conventions are historically abusive spaces for marginalized people. Our Into Account co-founder and Development Chair Jay Yoder, for instance, was the target of vitriolic, homophobic sexual harassment and profound spiritual violence at every MC USA convention they ever attended. We feared that any Into Account presence would legitimize us institutionally on the backs of people who do not receive such invitations.

In the end, we said yes, and I think the reason why can be seen in the contents of the following video, taken on Saturday, July 6 at the Kansas City Convention Center.

Rebecca Schrag, Anneliese Baer, and our Student Advocacy Coordinator Erin Bergen addressed a room of over one hundred convention attendees, made up largely of youth and the parents of prospective or current college students. When they concluded their powerful, instructive presentations, the whole audience gave them a standing ovation.

We knew the convention would provide a forum for speaking truth in ways that could meaningfully alter the seemingly insurmountable power dynamics that these women are facing at Mennonite colleges.

After Saturday, we’re hopeful. And dear readers who care about Mennonite colleges, what happens next is largely up to you.

Man charged in sex assaults on ‘pre-pubescent’ kids lured at Filipino churches

TORONTO (CANADA)
CP Channel 24

July 4, 2019

By Chris Herhalt

A Toronto man is facing 22 charges after he allegedly lured at least three small children at two Filipino churches over the past year, recording his sexual assaults on them and sharing them online.

Det. Const. Don Bai says that sometime before March 2019, Facebook contacted American law enforcement officials with information suggesting someone was trading and sharing videos and images of the sexual abuse of children using their service.

The Americans then contacted the RCMP, who then notified Toronto police.

Bai said police raided the home of a man in the Bathurst Street and Sheppard Avenue West area on June 12, and seized a number of devices.

The devices allegedly contained videos of a man sexually abusing victims who Bai said were “pre-pubescent.”

Three have been identified so far.

Bai said the children were lured at two churches in 2018, Word and Life Christian Assembly on Coldstream Avenue and Jesus Reigns Forever International Ministry on Finch Avenue West.

Clergy sex abuse plaintiff objects to lawyers' request for higher fees

HAGATNA (GUAM)
Pacific Daily News

July 9, 2019

By Haidee Eugenio Gilbert

A man who filed a May 2017 lawsuit alleging that a Talofofo priest sexually abused him more than 50 times in the 1980s is objecting to his lawyers' request for higher attorney fees.

His lawyers obtained in 2018 a confidential settlement agreement with the religious order, Capuchin Franciscans, on his behalf.

The work is not done yet as the plaintiff, identified in court documents only as N.Q. to protect his privacy still has claims against the Archdiocese of Agana through the bankruptcy process.

N.Q. is represented by three sets of lawyers or law firms: Guam-based attorney Anthony C. Perez, Idaho-based James, Vernon and Weeks, and Honolulu-based Rosenberg McKay Hoffman.

Counsels would continue to work on N.Q.'s behalf in the bankruptcy context to secure additional payments as damages for the abuse he has suffered, Perez said in a June 25 filing in federal court.

Guam law provides maximum limits of attorney fees in an action involving personal injury or death. It also allows counsels to apply to the court, with written notice to the client, for an increase in the fee if attorneys consider that the contingent fee within maximum limits to be insufficient.

Closed-door hearing agreed for 'crystal-meth' priest

NEW YORK (NY)
The Independent

July 9, 2019

A New York judge yesterday chastised a Dublin born priest Fr. Michael O'Leary for failing to complete the full term of his drug rehabilitation but agreed to let his case on four drugs charges go to a closed-door hearing.

The charges, including criminal possession of a controlled substance with intent to sell, are to be heard in a higher court, Westchester County Court, probably in about two months.

Peekskill City Court Judge, Reginald J. Johnson, meanwhile expressed displeasure over the rehab mandated for Fr. O’Leary after his arrest allegedly with a half-ounce of methamphetamine, scales and packaging materials in Peekskill, New York, on St. Patrick’s Day.

“You only attended 80 days. I don’t know what the deal is with that, but you don’t get to decide. Ninety days is 90 days.”

The Bronx-based priest has a 2017 charge for drunk driving in the US, where he is a citizen.

An Open Letter to Franciscan University of Steubenville

Patheos blog

July 8, 2019

Preface by Rebecca Bratten Weiss

In October 2018 the National Catholic Reporter published a story by Jenn Morson, detailing the ongoing grooming and assault of female students by Samuel Tiesi, TOR, chaplain at Franciscan University of Steubenville during the 1980s and 1990s. Morson also reported on the university’s systemic cover-up of Tiesi’s activities, and finally their removal of a plaque dedicated to him, once some of the truth about his behavior emerged.

Morson’s article focused particularly on the painful and traumatizing experiences of one student, Karen, who was repeatedly assaulted by Tiesi, then later blamed and silenced by his fellow friars from whom she sought help – including beloved Franciscan University president Michael Scanlan.

Morson and NCR acted justly and courageously on behalf of the victims and the truth of their stories; however, many still turn away from these accounts that make them uncomfortable, challenge their preconceptions.

But survivors like Karen deserve to be heard and taken seriously; it is the least we can do for them, after what has been done to them. For this reason, I agreed to publish Karen’s open letter to Franciscan University and the institutional leaders who failed her.

This story is difficult to read, and could potentially be triggering for other victims of assault and cover-up, so be advised.

This story will also, I am certain, be upsetting for many who admired or even loved the men she names. I am one who liked and admired Sam Tiesi, and who revered and loved Michael Scanlan. But my shock and perturbation, in facing the reality of what these men did, are nothing compared with the suffering of the survivors who were viciously betrayed and silenced, and who carry scars of sexual, psychological, and spiritual abuse for life.

Lawmakers, Abuse Survivors Demand Alex Acosta Resign Over Jeffrey Epstein Sex Case

NEW YORK (NY)
Huffington Post

July 9, 2019

By Dominique Mosbergen

Democratic lawmakers and sexual abuse survivors have called for President Donald Trump’s labor secretary, Alex Acosta, to resign from his Cabinet post over a controversial 2008 plea deal he made with billionaire sex offender Jeffrey Epstein.

The deal, approved by Acosta while he was serving as Miami’s top federal prosecutor, allowed Epstein ― who was accused of sexually assaulting dozens of underage girls at his Palm Beach mansion ― to avoid federal prosecution and a possible life sentence. The financier ended up serving only 13 months in prison, a large chunk of which was spent in an office as part of a work-release program.

The plea deal ― and the role Acosta played in it ― has come under renewed scrutiny in recent days following the decision by federal prosecutors in New York to revive the sex crimes case against Epstein.

Epstein, 66, who was arrested in New Jersey on Saturday, faces new charges accusing him of operating a sex trafficking scheme in Manhattan and Palm Beach between 2002 to 2005. Prosecutors claim Epstein “sexually exploited and abused dozens of minor girls,” some as young as 14, by “enticing them to engage in sex acts with him in exchange for money.” Epstein, they said, “perpetuated this abuse in similar ways” in both New York and Florida.

Following the unsealing of the new charges, to which Epstein pleaded not guilty on Monday, several Democratic lawmakers, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), called for Acosta to step down.

New clergy sex abuse lawsuit alleges archdiocese knew of incident

HAGATNA (GUAM)
KUAM News

July 9, 2019

Another clergy child sex abuse complaint has been filed in the District Court of Guam. It was filed by an individual identified as J.J. to protect his privacy.

J.J. who is from Saipan would visit Guam when he was a minor. The victim alleges that he was sexually molested by Capuchin priest, Father Daniel Cristobal. The priest is now deceased.

Court documents state that J.J. first met Father Cristobal in 1961 at Mount Carmel Elementary and Middle School in Saipan. During his visit the priest allegedly sexually molested him.

In 1962 J.J. came to Guam to look into attending the Territorial College. While here he attended mass at St. Anthony’s Catholic Church in Tamuning where the victim discovered Cristobal was presiding over the service. Cristobal is alleged to have sexually molested J.J. multiple times while he was on island.

The complaint alleges the Archdiocese of Agana was aware of Cristobal's sexual abuse but deliberately remained quiet to protect him, St. Anthony’s Church, and the Capuchins “thereby placing their loyalty above their duty to protect the minor children and their legal responsibilities,” court documents state.

J.J. is seeking a trial by jury and up to $5 million in damages. He is being represented by the Lujan and Wolff Law Firm.

Diocese still investigating priest accused of abuse, more than a year after he was accused

BUFFALO (NY)
Buffalo News

July 9, 2019

By Jay Tokasz

Fourteen months after a Lockport man accused Monsignor John M. Ryan of molesting him in the 1980s, Bishop Richard J. Malone has yet to decide whether Ryan committed the abuse and should be further punished.

The man's May 8, 2018 application to a Buffalo Diocese program that compensates victims of clergy abuse prompted Malone to suspend Ryan, 89, last July from publicly celebrating Masses and other priestly functions.

This past May, the diocese received a second complaint about Ryan from a Pennsylvania woman who said the former superintendent of Catholic schools repeatedly molested her in the late 1950s when she was a parishioner at Queen of Heaven Church in West Seneca. Her lawyer notified the diocese in a letter.

Both accusers said they plan to sue the diocese in August under the Child Victims Act, which allows a one-year window for childhood sex abuse victims to pursue civil cases from years ago that were time-barred under statutes of limitations.

Ryan served as superintendent of Catholic schools from 1975 to 1981, overseeing more than 42,000 students in about 150 elementary and high schools in eight counties at the time.

Clergy abuse survivors call on Acosta to resign over role in Epstein case

WASHINGTON (DC)
The Hill

July 8, 2019

By Zack Budryk

An advocacy group for survivors of clergy abuse on Monday called on Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta to resign over the plea deal he made with Jeffrey Epstein in 2008 that allowed the billionaire financier to avoid federal prosecution and a possible life sentence.

Acosta, a U.S. attorney at the time of Epstein’s conviction for soliciting underaged girls, approved the deal with Epstein, allowing him to plead guilty to state prostitution charges and serve roughly a year in prison. The deal also let him spend 16 hours a day outside of prison. Acosta has defended the deal as necessary to ensure Epstein served time.

Acosta has faced growing pressure over the deal since Epstein was charged Monday with sex trafficking.

In a statement Monday, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP) noted that a federal judge previously ruled Acosta broke the law when arranging the deal for Epstein.

The statement also blasted unnamed defenders of Acosta for citing how long ago the deal was made, comparing the defense to public relations strategies deployed by the Catholic church in the wake of clergy abuse allegations.

“As head of the Labor Department, Secretary Acosta plays a critical role in the monitoring of crimes like sex trafficking. We simply cannot believe that he can be effective in that role with a cloud – and history – like this over his head.”

SB 360, Legislative Threat to Seal of Confession, Pulled from Committee

SACRAMENTO (CA)
California Catholic Conference

July 8, 2019

The day before hundreds of Catholics were planning to voice their opposition by attending a hearing in the Capitol, SB 360 was pulled from agenda for tomorrow’s Assembly Public Safety Committee effectively removing it from any further consideration this year.

SB 360 Mandated reporters: clergy (Hill, D-San Mateo) attempted to deny the sanctity of confession when it comes to child sexual abuse to priests and to Catholics who work with priests in parishes, Church agencies and ministries.

The action follows the delivery of tens of thousands of letters, emails and phone calls from Catholics and others concerned with the free expression of religion. Hundreds more planned on boarding buses from as far away as Los Angeles to voice their opposition tomorrow.

Andrew Rivas, executive director of the California Catholic Conference, expressed his thanks to the Californians who reached out to their legislators to oppose SB 360:

“An amazing number of people spoke to their legislators to explain the sacred nature of the Sacrament of Reconciliation,” said Rivas. “It is important to our spirituality and our relation to God and to others. Our thanks go to all who played a part.”

Rivas emphasized the strengthening mandatory reporting laws continues to be a priority of the Conference’s public policy efforts.

July 8, 2019

AG questions why priests released after charges

GRAND RAPIDS (MI)
WOOD TV

July 8, 2019

By Ken Kolker

As state Attorney General Dana Nessel announced Monday that her office had charged a sixth Michigan priest with sexual assault, she questioned why some already have been released from custody.

“I will say that we’re seeing a pattern of personal bonds being granted in very serious cases where it has not been my experience that I’ve seen personal bonds on those kinds of cases,” Nessel told Target 8.

“I hope that people aren’t getting special consideration just because they happened to have been or currently are members of the clergy,” she added.

On Monday, police arrested Father Joseph Baker, 57, of the Catholic Archdiocese of Detroit on a charge of raping a victim under the age of 13, early in his ministry. He’s been a priest since 1993, always serving in the Detroit area.

Also on Monday, Nessel’s office said, a judge released the priest on a tether.

Other accused priests, she said, also have been released with low bonds or no bonds at all.

The Detroit archdiocese tipped off the AG about Baker after removing him from public ministry. The archdiocese also released a list of more than 60 Detroit-area clergy with credible allegations of sexually abusing minors over the decades, according to its website. Nearly half of them have died.

Detroit became the third diocese in the state, after Gaylord and Saginaw, to release such a list.

The Diocese of Grand Rapids has not, even after a Target 8 investigation in February found as many as 14 priests had molested more than 30 children since the 1950s.

Target 8 reached out to the Grand Rapids diocese to ask whether it plans to release such a list, but had not heard back as of Monday afternoon.

Rights activists alarmed as Mike Pompeo installs anti-gay anti-abortion activist

Raw Story blog

July 8, 2019

By David Badash

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Monday announced the formation of a new commission that will take a “fresh look” at human rights through the lens of “natural law,” and civil and human rights advocates are outraged. In preliminary filings the State Dept. noted the Commission will explore “our nation’s founding principles of natural law and natural rights.”

“Natural law,” is religious right wing extremist code for anti-abortion and anti-LGBTQ rights, especially marriage for same-sex couples.

Secretary Pompeo, a known right wing Christian extremist in his own right, has named Mary Ann Glendon, a professor who is also his former mentor, to lead the “Commission on Unalienable Rights.”

Glendon is an anti-abortion, anti-gay Catholic activist who served as U.S. Ambassador to the Holy See (the Vatican) under President George W. Bush. She is also known for her opposition to the use of condoms to reduce the spread of HIV/AIDS.

“I hope that the commission will revisit the most basic of questions: What does it mean to claim something is, in fact, a human right?” Pompeo told reporters Monday, adding, as Yahoo News notes, that “words like rights can be used for good or evil.”

Glendon should understand Pompeo’s remarks. She penned a 2004 op-ed supporting a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage. In a unique twist of language she claimed the amendment “should be welcomed by all Americans who are concerned about equality and preserving democratic decision-making.”

And in a shocking move Glendon chastised the awarding of a Pulitzer Prize to the Boston Globe for its work exposing pedophile priests. She reportedly said; “If fairness & accuracy have anything to do with it, awarding the Pulitzer to the Boston Globe would be like giving the Nobel Peace Prize to Osama bin Laden.”

Healing Will Be Ongoing Process

WHEELiNG (WV)
The Intelligencer

July 8, 2019

As Roman Catholic Archbishop William Lori pointed out in an interview we published Sunday, restoring trust in the church’s Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston will be an ongoing process. What church leaders must keep in mind is that Catholics in the diocese will be watching closely, for years.

Lori, of Baltimore, was appointed to oversee the diocese temporarily after former Bishop Michael Bransfield retired in disgrace. It was left to Lori to deal with financial mismanagement by Bransfield, allegations the former bishop sexually harassed some young priests, and the church-wide scandal of predator priests victimizing children and adults.

Trouble such as that within the diocese cannot be resolved overnight. As Lori put it, he has been doing “the groundwork” for an ongoing time of healing.

Steps taken during the past year or so have been good. A list of predator priests who worked in the diocese has been released. An investigation found accusations of harassment against Bransfield to be credible. The former bishop’s use of millions of dollars in church funds for his own benefit was revealed.

Safeguards have been put in place to prevent financial misdeeds as well as other misbehavior by the clergy.

A council overseeing diocesan finances has been doubled in size and made more effective by including members with special expertise. Some Mountain State Catholics will want to examine for themselves how money is being spent.

Fr. Jack Baker Arrested in Michigan, SNAP Applauds AG Investigation

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

July 8, 2019

For the sixth time in three months, Michigan’s top law enforcement professional has charged a priest with child sex crimes. She predicts more arrests will be made before her investigation is completed.

We are grateful to AG Dana Nessel and her team for their dedication to investigating cases of clergy sex abuse and cover-up, including this one against Fr. Joseph “Jack” Baker. Children and vulnerable adults are safer because of her courage, as well as the bravery of Michigan victims who have come forward to aid in this investigation and who continue to cooperate with secular officials.

There is no doubt in our mind that attorneys general in most other states could be just as successful at uncovering and prosecuting crimes if they were as determined as AG Nessel. She and her staff spend weekends volunteering to comb through church abuse records. We applaud all of them and hope their example inspires other AGs throughout the country.

For a long time, cases of clergy abuse in Michigan have been stymied and survivors have been denied the chance to expose abusive clergy and complicit church officials in court, thanks to the state’s outdated statute of limitations for filing civil suits for child sex abuse. We hope that legislators in Michigan will take a cue from AG Nessel and use their power to help protect children and support survivors by taking up the issue of SOL reform.

SNAP Calls for Alexander Acosta to Resign for His Role in the Jeffrey Epstein Scandal

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

July 8, 2019

According to a federal judge, the U.S. Secretary of Labor broke the law when arranging for a much-derided plea deal with a billionaire accused of abuse. Today we join the chorus of those calling for the resignation of Secretary Alexander Acosta due to his mishandling of the Jeffrey Epstein case. If children are to be safe from sexual violence, those who help minimize these crimes must be punished, not promoted.

In a move that elicits the public relations strategies often employed by Catholic church officials, defenders of Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta are stressing how long ago the former prosecutor’s alleged wrongdoing was. Yet this bald-faced effort to minimize that wrongdoing cannot erase it.

What matters is not when a powerful official helped a powerful predator. What matters is THAT a powerful official helped a powerful predator.That official deserves to be demoted for his hurtful choices.

As head of the Labor Department, Secretary Acosta plays a critical role in the monitoring of crimes like sex trafficking. We simply cannot believe that he can be effective in that role with a cloud – and history – like this over his head.

Jeffrey Epstein has connections on both sides of the political aisle, so this move should not be seen as a partisan one. According to one news account, “In 2011, Gawker.com reported (Epstein’s phone book) was filled with . . . politicians Tony Blair, Michael Bloomberg, Andrew Cuomo, and Ted Kennedy.”

Finally, now is not the time to get complacent about Epstein’s prosecution. A charge is not a conviction, and a conviction doesn’t guarantee prison. Epstein will again no doubt hire the very best lawyers who will again try hard to exploit loopholes and pull strings to avoid his being found guilty and being incarcerated. Police and prosecutors will need all the help they can get.

Vatican waives immunity for France envoy accused of sexual assault

PARIS (FRANCE)
CNN

July 8, 2019

By Barbara Wojazer and Valentina DiDonato

The Vatican has waived immunity for its envoy to France, who is under investigation for sexual assault, according to the Bishops' Conference of France.

Archbishop Luigi Ventura, 74, is alleged to have inappropriately touched a junior male official working at the Paris city hall, deputy mayor Patrick Klugman told CNN earlier this year.

The French government confirmed it received "confirmation from the Holy See that it waived immunity" for Ventura.

The interim director of the Vatican press office, Alessandro Gisotti, said the decision demonstrated Ventura's commitment to cooperating with the investigation.

"This is an extraordinary gesture that confirms the will of the Nuncio (ambassador), expressed from the beginning of this situation, to collaborate fully with the French judicial authorities," Gisotti said.

GERMAN CLERIC URGES FORGIVENESS FOR PREDATOR PRIESTS LABELED AS ‘CRIMINALS’

World Religion News blog

July 8, 2019

By Alison Lesley

MEMBERS OF THE HOLY SPIRIT CHURCH WALKED OUT THE SERMON IN PROTEST Retired priest, Ulrich Zurkuhlen, has caused quite a stir in the city of Münster, northwest Germany, after urging everyone to practice forgiveness for priests who had sexually abused minors.

This message by Zurkuhlen comes at a difficult time for the Roman Catholic Church which is currently dealing with a barrage of allegations from different parts of the world of priest’s predatory conduct as well as church attempts at cover-ups.

The German Bishops’ Conference published a report in 2018 which said that 1,670 priests, which is almost 4.4 percent of clerics were guilty of abusing 3,677 people between 1946 and 2014 in Germany.

Kirche-und-Leben.de, an internet portal, reported that 70 members walked out of the congregation in protest.

Several parishioners tried to argue with the 79-year-old Zurkuhlen. The priest wasn’t able to finish the sermon as the situation became chaotic. There were several victims of abuse present at the sermon.

Gallup: Confidence in church or organized religion falls to 36 percent

NEW YORK (NY)
United Press International

July 8, 2019

By Clyde Hughes

Thirty-six percent of respondents to a new Gallup poll released Monday said they have confidence in the church or organized religion, a far cry from the 60-plus percent confidence the institutions enjoyed in the 1970s and 1980s.

The annual poll, which was conducted from June 3-16, measured church or organized religions with 13 other institutions.

Confidence in church or organized religions enjoyed highs of 68 percent in the mid-1970s and from 66 to 61 percent in the 1980s before several popular televangelist scandals made national headlines, including those involving ministers Jim Bakker, Jimmy Swaggart, and Oral Roberts.

That confidence in churches and organized religions reached 60 percent again in early 2000, before showing an uneven fall since, partly fueled by the sexual abuse scandals in the Catholic Church. The 36 percent marks the lowest confidence in the church and organized religions since the survey's highs in the 1970s.

"The downward trend in confidence in organized religion is partly attributable to the rising share of Americans who identify as having no religion -- a group that has little confidence in organized religion, and now comprises about one-fifth of the U.S. population," Gallup's Justin McCarthy said.

"But confidence in organized religion has also declined among those who are religious, including Catholics and Protestants," he added.

Only three of the 14 institutions Gallup poll surveyed captured majority levels of confidence among the respondents -- the military (73 percent), small businesses (68 percent) and police (53 percent).

The results on confidence in the church and religious institutions appeared to support a Pew poll released last week that showed a growing number of Americans no longer claim a religious affiliation.

Anti-gay pastor in Alabama arrested and accused of sexually molesting young boys

NEW YORK (NY)
Daily News

July 3, 2019

By Muri Assunção

The pastor of a Baptist church in Alabama was arrested Friday, just days after confessing he’d molested at least one young boy from his congregation.

John Martin, the lead pastor of Lighthouse Baptist Church, confessed to four counts of sexual abuse on June 23. He was arrested on felony sex abuse charges Monday, after members of his church reported him to authorities, AL.com reported.

According to local news station WAFF48, the 41-year-old pastor from Florence, Ala., confessed to his congregation from the pulpit, after telling his wife. He called the abuse an “affair,” court records say. Before being arrested, he’d checked himself into a psychiatric unit and turned over two guns.

Martin abused at least one underage boy several times, at his home and on a road trip, and he also sent the boy explicit text messages, court records reveal.

Angie Hamilton, an assistant district attorney in Lauderdale County, said more victims could be involved. “We have identified several potential victims,” she told AL.com. “We believe other charges are forthcoming."

A Drunk, an Exorcism, and a Flippant Seminarian

Patheos blog

July 7, 2019

By Mary Pezzulo

It’s been a rough twenty-four hours on the internet.

It started Friday evening, with a man drunk-friending me on facebook so that he could tag me in a post bragging about how much tequila he’d had and how much he’d enjoyed watching a fight between me and somebody I’d blocked. Yes, he tagged the blocked person as well. The next thing I knew, someone who has screenshotted my friends-only posts to bully me before was on the thread accusing me of all kinds of nasty things. I blocked the drunk and tried to go back to my writing.

Moments later, a woman who apparently founded a site called “Roaming Catholics” was calling me stupid, telling me I needed an exorcism and that I was in mortal sin; she then tried to give me a grammar lesson:

For those of my readers who are visually impaired, that’s a screenshot of a woman with an American flag for a profile picture saying “exorcism is a verb, not a noun, and you have a blog? lol.” And for those of you who are unsure, “exorcism” is definitely a noun. Yes, she got blocked too.

Then it was Saint Maria Goretti’s feast day, a difficult day for rape survivors. I re-shared an old blog post where I explained what the saint’s virtues were and clarified the Church’s teaching on rape. I always re-share this post on her feast, because a surprising number of people like to go around claiming that rape victims “take the easy way out” and we should all be saintly and just get stabbed to death instead– never mind that that has never been Church teaching, and that many of us rape survivors didn’t have that choice. Some catechists hold up Maria Goretti as a martyr for purity not because she valued her and Alessandro’s chastity and forgave her attacker, but because he managed to fatally stab her before he got his wish of molesting a twelve-year-old girl.

As if Saint Maria would somehow be less virtuous if Alessandro had just gone ahead and raped her after she was stabbed. I think it’s very important that we be clear that that’s wrong, especially in this day and age. Victims of sexual assault and abuse are not the ones who sin. Their attackers are. To say a victim incurs guilt for having something done to them against their will, is heresy. It’s not just me, a hysterical woman blogger saying that; St. Thomas and St. Augustine also stated that a virgin who is raped remains a virgin. No one can sin against their will. And hijacking a saint’s hagiography to shame victims is just one more way to exploit an abused child.

Cardinal Schönborn: 'Spiral of silence' is at the heart of ongoing clerical sex abuse

PARIS (FRANCE)
LaCroix International

July 8, 2019

Cardinal Christoph Schönborn, the third most senior active cardinal in the worldwide Church, has called on bishops and other Catholic officials to better engage in listening to victims of clergy sex abuse.

At a lecture last month in the Austrian capital of Vienna, where he has been archbishop since 1995, Schönborn said listening to victims was essential to breaking the "spiral of silence" that has allowed such abuse to continue for so long."

The victims have to overcome an enormously high threshold even to begin talking," the 74-year-old cardinal said at a conference on "Sex & Crime" at the Religiosity in Psychiatry and Psychotherapy Institute at Vienna University.

Seminar teaches community residents about Child Victims Act

ITHACA (NY)
Ithaca Times

July 1, 2019

By Edwin J. Viera

In January, New York State passed the Child Victims Act (CVA), which opened up New York’s previously strict criminal and civil statute of limitations on child sexual assault allegations. Instead of the criminal statute beginning when a person is 18 and ending when a person turns 23, the statute now begins when a person turns 23 and ends when they turn 28. For the civil statute of limitations, victims had to file before the age of 23. Now, the statute for any child sexual assault after February 14, 1996 can file a lawsuit before the age of 55. This is just one of many differences to come from the new legislation.

On June 25, at the BorgWarner Room of the Tompkins County Public Library, the Zero Abuse Project and NYS Assembly member Barbara Lifton sponsored an event to teach people about the law's new parameters. Lifton was hopeful that local organizations who deal with sexual assault victims would be able to take this information and help their clients. The seminar did reveal that a window for most if not all child sexual assault cases to be opened will come up later this summer.

Starting on August 16 of this year and closing on August 13, 2020, for any victim of child sexual assault in New York State, regardless of age, will be able to file a civil lawsuit against either an abuser or an institution which covered for an abuser. This window of opportunity is allowing anyone to file a civil case against an abuser regardless of whether or not the statute of limitations has run out.

Jeff Dion, the CEO of the Zero Abuse Project, led a presentation detailing several facts about the new Child Victims Act. He spoke about how the culture of negligence within some institutions has to end and should be replaced by one of disclosure.

Vatican Lifts Envoy's Immunity over Sex Assault Claims: France

PARIS (FRANCE)
Agence France-Presse

July 8, 2019

The Vatican has lifted the diplomatic immunity of its Paris envoy under investigation for alleged sexual assault, the French foreign ministry said Monday.

Luigi Ventura, 74, faces four complaints of sexual abuse -- including that he molested a junior official at the Paris town hall. French prosecutors in March asked the Vatican to lift his immunity.

A spokesman said the foreign ministry "received confirmation from the Holy See that it had waived (Ventura's) immunity" in a letter that arrived late last week.

In February, French prosecutors revealed they were investigating the Italian-born archbishop over an incident at the town hall during a New Year's address by Mayor Anne Hidalgo.

During the ceremony, a city employee had their backside repeatedly groped, with the town hall filing a complaint on January 24. An investigation was opened the next day.

Two other people have since come forward and related incidents involving "similar gestures, hands on buttocks or thighs", which allegedly took place last year.

There was also a complaint filed in Ottawa by a man who made similar allegations about an incident in 2008 while Ventura was serving in Canada.

The papal nuncio -- the term for a Vatican ambassador -- spoke to the police in early April, with judicial sources saying it was "at his request". They gave no further details.

A career diplomat with the Vatican, Ventura has held the position in Paris since 2009.

He also served in Brazil, Bolivia and Britain before being appointed papal nuncio to Ivory Coast, Burkina Faso and Niger, Chile and then Canada.

Why the ‘Metropolitan Plan’ Doesn’t Work

NEW YORK (NY)
America Magazine

July 8, 2019

By Rita Ferrone

The now-glaring weakness of the USCCB’s 2002 Dallas Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People was that it made no provision for dealing with bishops who engage in sexual misconduct. In the wake of the scandal surrounding Theodore McCarrick, who had escaped the consequences of his abuses for decades, the American bishops realized this gap had to be closed. Without some mechanism for holding bishops accountable, the trust that the hierarchy hoped to rebuild after the devastating revelations of clergy abuse of children could never be achieved.

In the course of discussions in the months following the McCarrick revelations, two proposals emerged: an independent lay-run board could investigate a bishop and report to Rome, or a case could be referred to the metropolitan bishop of the region (a metropolitan is the bishop of the chief see of an ecclesiastical province, usually an archdiocese), who would oversee the investigation and send his findings to Rome. In either case, the pope would make a final determination of the fate of the bishop.

Not surprisingly, the latter option (first proposed by Cardinal Blase Cupich of Chicago) was the one favored by most American bishops and the Vatican. It decentralizes the work of investigating accusations. It avoids thorny practical questions about who chooses the members of the lay board. And, critically, it sidesteps the canonical “problem” of lay people in the church being placed in a position of authority over bishops.

The guidelines issued this spring by Pope Francis endorsed the “metropolitan plan.” At their June meeting in Baltimore, the American bishops adopted it, though with some debate over whether lay involvement in the process should be mandatory or optional. They made it optional.

Diocese of Tulsa speaks out after priest accused of sexual misconduct

TULSA (OK)
Channel 2 News

July 8, 2019

The Diocese of Tulsa is speaking out after allegations of sexual misconduct with a minor were levied against one of its priests.

The Catholic Diocese of Tulsa says Father Joe Townsend was on sabbatical one year ago, but it wasn't connected to the allegations.

The Diocese says Townsend denies the allegations. Townsend is on administrative leave, and no more information about the case will be released until the investigation is complete.

The Diocese says they will release a list of priests with credible accusations against them.

Michigan AG charges 6th priest with sex abuse

DETROiT (MI)
Detroit News

July 8, 2019

By Oralandar Brand-Williams

A sixth Catholic priest was charged Monday with criminal sexual conduct by Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel as part of an ongoing investigation.

The Rev. Joseph "Jack" Baker was arrested Monday morning in Wayne County by special agents from the Michigan Attorney General's Office. He was arraigned in 29th District Court and given a $500,000 personal bond.

Baker, who was released after the arraignment early Monday afternoon, was ordered by Judge Laura Mack to wear a tether.

Baker is charged with one count of first-degree criminal sexual conduct-sexual penetration with a person under the age of 13. His probable cause conference is scheduled for July 18 in 18th District Court in Westland and his preliminary examination is scheduled for July 25, also in 18th District Court.

Mack is recusing herself from further proceedings. No details were given early Monday afternoon as to why the judge is stepping aside from the case. Her actions are expected to be outlined later Monday when a recusal form is filled out and approved by 29th District Court.

Baton Rouge Diocese adds two more names to list of clergy accused of abuse

BATON ROUGE (LA)
The Advocate

July 7 , 2019

By Lea Skene

The Diocese of Baton Rouge on Sunday released two more additions to its list of Catholic clerics who have been credibly accused of sexual abuse, bringing the total now to 43.

Baton Rouge Bishop Michael Duca released the initial list in January, which included 37 names but has since been supplemented multiple times. Duca said from the beginning that it would evolve as other diocese release their own lists amid a nationwide push for transparency from church leaders.

The two names added Sunday to the Diocese of Baton Rouge's list are the Revs. Joseph Guidry and Robert Limoges. Dan Borné, a spokesman for the diocese, released the names in a statement to media Sunday.

Guidry was included in the abuse list that the Diocese of Jackson, Mississippi, released in March, and Limoges was included in the Diocese of Lafayette's list, which was made public in April.

Borné said neither faced credible accusations of abuse while serving within the Diocese of Baton Rouge but have been credibly accused in those other areas.

Lyon abuse priest removed from clerical state as scandal heads towards civil trial

LONDON (ENGLAND)
The Tablet

July 8, 2019

By Tom Heneghan

A Church court in France has removed from the clerical state Bernard Preynat, the former priest accused of sexual abuse by over 70 youths while they were under his supervision. Preynat’s activities are part of a major scandal that included a civil conviction for Lyon Cardinal Philippe Barbarin for failing to report him.

Preynat, 74, received "the maximum penalty provided by Church law" because of "the facts and their recurrence, the large number of victims" and his abuse of his authority as chief and chaplain of a boy scout troop, the Lyon ecclesiatical court said on 4 July.

He "can now devote himself more fully to studying each of the victims' claims for financial compensation," it added. More than 20 of his alleged victims have filed for damages of over 10,000 euros each.

Morning Bulletin: Accused Priest Steps Down

NEW YORK (NY)
West Side Rag

July 8, 2019

A priest accused of sexual abuse has stepped down. “Eight accusers have claimed they are victims of Monsignor John Paddack, who on Tuesday told parishioners at the Church of Notre Dame on W. 114th St. that he will be resigning his post there….“’Msgr. Paddack has written to his parishioners to tell them that, although he denies the allegations against him, for the good of the parish and the people, he has decided to step aside while the investigation into the allegation proceeds,’ Archdiocese spokesman Joe Zwilling told the Daily News.”

Redemption Song

RICHMOND (VIRGINIA)
Richmond Magazine

July 8, 2019

By Grady Trexler

Sonny Hoge, the outreach pastor at Celebration Church and Outreach Ministry, stands in the lobby with a multicolored bouquet in hand. It’s the night before Mother’s Day, and he’s handing a carnation to each woman who walks into the gymnasium where the church holds worship services. He’s greeting attendees and asking how their week went.

Every Saturday at 6 p.m., hundreds gather in this former flea market off Midlothian Turnpike for music, Scriptures and prayer. The churchgoers — a racially diverse mix of families and children, young adults, and older people — sit on folding chairs looking up at a stage with a huge sign spelling out “Jesus” in capital letters suspended above. Suits and ties have no place here; most attendees are clad in T-shirts and jeans. A man in a motorcycle jacket weaves through the crowd, shaking hands with everyone he meets.

Hoge’s presence signals a rejuvenation in the life of the church, which had faltered after its charismatic founder’s fall from grace several years ago. Like others drawn in by former pastor Geronimo Aguilar’s compelling vision of a place for people in need of a fresh start to connect with God, Hoge attended a service in 2004 and soon found himself immersed in the church’s mission of reaching out to Richmond’s low-income communities.

“I went one Saturday night, and I was hooked.” —Sonny Hoge, Celebration Church outreach pastor

Nearly a decade later, Aguilar’s arrest on charges of sexual abuse involving 11- and 13-year-old girls in Texas threatened to tear down everything that members such as Hoge had worked so hard to build. Attendance languished, finances dwindled, and Hoge left, unsure that he’d ever return.