ABUSE TRACKER

A digest of links to media coverage of clergy abuse. For recent coverage listed in this blog, read the full article in the newspaper or other media source by clicking “Read original article.” For earlier coverage, click the title to read the original article.

June 1, 2013

Open letter to my priest abuser: ‘I thought it was my fault and I never told my mam’

IRELAND
The Journal

A survivor of abuse tells a priest it is time he comes forward and tells the truth.

A FORMAL INQUIRY into child sex abuse by clergy of the Catholic Church in Australia heard from a number of survivors this week who say their lives have been blighted by the offences against them and the organisation’s response to it. The following letter was written and sent to a Catholic priest earlier this year. The writer is a woman pleading with the recipient to tell the truth about an alleged historic rape. She outlines the difficulties she has had in later life. She has granted TheJournal.ie permission to reproduce it here, with some details changed and omitted to ensure anonymity.

Dear Fr. X,
As I write this I wonder if you remember me. My father befriended you while you were visiting our parish.

My family invited you into our home; you played sport with my dad. You swam with my sister and brothers. My sister remembers your car fondly.

Let me try to help you remember me. My dad got very ill…I believe he went to the hospital on a Sunday. Monday, I came home to find no one home. I called the hospital and they said he was “still in surgery” and that made me very upset. I knew my mother would call for a priest so I ran to the rectory hoping to get a ride to the hospital and see my dad. The monsignor was surprised to see me when he answered the door.

Note: This is an Abuse Tracker excerpt. Click the title to view the full text of the original article. If the original article is no longer available, see our News Archive.

Roman Catholic Jacuzzi: The Pink Elephant in the Vatican

UNITED STATES
Huffington Post

Michael Bullock

“All characters appearing in this work are fictitious. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead is purely coincidental.”

This is the standard phrase that most publishers use to protect themselves against lawsuits. For my book Roman Catholic Jacuzzi, a story recounting my accidental discovery of a retreat for closeted gay Catholic priests, Brendan Dugan, owner of independent book publisher Karma (a name that could not be a better match), decided that it was important to do the exact opposite, proudly proclaiming “a true story” on the cover. Since the book launch last month, that is the question I’m asked the most: “Is it really true?” I explain that the only embellishment is in my in portrayal of the priests as both more attractive and more likeable than they were in reality.

In October 2010 I discovered the secret retreat where these priests meet in private once a year to let their hair down and be openly gay together for the week. I was not on a mission to find and expose such a retreat; I booked a cabin with the aim of being alone to concentrate on writing, and it happened to be at the same place and time as the priests. The disorganized resort allowed my stay without realizing what else they were hosting. As a gay former Catholic altar boy, I could not believe both the luck and horror of this discovery: Here I was, in the heart of the hypocrisy of the Catholic Church, face to face with gay men whose teachings give a moral backbone to homophobia and discrimination against their fellow gay and lesbian brothers and sisters, men who uphold a value system that made me feel terrible as a teenager and made the process of admitting to myself that I’m gay torture because of its unbearable moral dilemma: Repress your sexuality or be damned! I immediately knew how politically important this retreat was and wrote down my experience with the priests as it was happening. Roman Catholic Jacuzzi is the document of my weekend with these men, which resumed in their disco-drag party, during which I witnessed the hilarious irony of watching gay priests freak out on the dance floor to every Lady Gaga and Madonna hit, including “Like a Prayer.”

Note: This is an Abuse Tracker excerpt. Click the title to view the full text of the original article. If the original article is no longer available, see our News Archive.

Missbrauch in Kirche: Richter treten zurück

DEUTSCHLAND
Hamburger Abendblatt

Ahrensburg. Es ist ein einmaliger Vorgang in der Nordkirche: Die Disziplinarkammer des Kirchengerichts tritt geschlossen zurück. Der Reinbeker Amtsgerichtsdirektor Bernd Wrobel hat den Vorsitz bereits niedergelegt, drei seiner Kollegen sind ebenfalls gegangen. Das fünfte Mitglied der Kammer hat diesen Schritt angekündigt.

Auslöser ist das Disziplinarverfahren gegen den Ruhestandsgeistlichen Friedrich H. im Zuge des Ahrensburger Missbrauchsskandals. Friedrich H. hatte von den sexuellen Übergriffen seines Kollegen Dieter K. auf Jugendliche gewusst. Die Kirche wollte Friedrich H. wegen “erheblicher Amtspflichtverletzungen” aus dem Dienst entfernen, doch Wrobels Kammer stellte das Verfahren ohne Anhörung von Zeugen ein.

Daraufhin legte das Landeskirchenamt Rechtsmittel ein und lehnte sämtliche Richter aus “Besorgnis der Befangenheit” ab. Bernd Wrobel äußert nun den Verdacht, das Landeskirchenamt habe ihn und seine Kollegen gegen willfährige Richter austauschen wollen, um den Fall in gewünschter Weise zu lösen – mit H.s Entfernung aus dem Dienst. Für das Landeskirchenamt sind diese Vorwürfe unhaltbar. “Alle Entscheidungen basieren auf dem Kirchenrecht und sind demokratisch legitimiert”, sagt Mathias Benckert, stellvertretender Sprecher der Nordkirche.

Note: This is an Abuse Tracker excerpt. Click the title to view the full text of the original article. If the original article is no longer available, see our News Archive.

Rörig für längere juristische Verfolgung

DEUTSCHLAND
Katholisch

Der Missbrauchsbeauftragte der Bundesregierung, Johannes-Wilhelm Rörig, hat sich für eine verlängerte strafrechtliche Verfolgbarkeit bei sexuellem Missbrauch ausgesprochen. Dafür solle die sogenannte Ruhensregelung geändert werden, sagte Rörig am Mittwoch in Berlin. Er plädierte dafür, das Alter, ab dem die Verjährungsfrist läuft, auf mindestens 28 Jahre anzuheben.

Im Gesetz zur Stärkung der Rechte von Opfern sexuellen Missbrauchs, das im April vom Bundesrat verabschiedet wurde, war diese Frist vom 18. auf das 21. Lebensjahr des Betroffenen verlängert worden. Diese “Mini-Veränderung” sei keine Antwort auf die Forderungen der Betroffenen, so Rörig weiter.

Notwendig sei eine umfassende Verlängerung dieser Frist. Er begründete dies damit, dass die Betroffenen lange bräuchten, bis sie über das an ihnen begangene Unrecht sprechen könnten. Häufig sei das erst in der Lebensmitte der Fall. Am 6. Juni beschäftigt sich ein Hearing in Berlin mit dem Thema einer Verlängerung der strafrechtlichen Verfolgbarkeit.

Note: This is an Abuse Tracker excerpt. Click the title to view the full text of the original article. If the original article is no longer available, see our News Archive.

Bischof Ackermann: “Denn wir brauchen die Impulse von außen” – aber nicht von Betroffenen, denn sie sind unerwünscht

DEUTSCHLAND
MissBiT

“Unser Ausgangspunkt war die Idee, einen Beirat zu gründen, der die Umsetzung der Präventionsordnung begleitet.“ Daraus sei dann die Idee entstanden, ein Fachnetzwerk mit den vielen Akteuren innerhalb des Bistums und über den Rand der Kirche hinaus zu knüpfen. Das hat der Trierer Bischof Dr. Stephan Ackermann beim ersten Netzwerktreffen am 24. Mai in Trier erklärt. „Denn wir brauchen die Impulse von außen”.

Rund 30 Expertinnen und Experten unterschiedlichster Institutionen wie etwa der Polizei, des Gesundheitsamtes, Fachberatungsstellen für Opfer, aber auch Psychiater und kirchliche Verbands- und Berufsgruppenvertreter hatten sich angemeldet, um mit dem Bistum und der gastgebenden Fachstelle Kinder- und Jugendschutz zum Thema Prävention ins Gespräch zu kommen.

Note: This is an Abuse Tracker excerpt. Click the title to view the full text of the original article. If the original article is no longer available, see our News Archive.

Katholische Kirche bricht ihre Kultur des Schweigens

DEUTSCHLAND
Berliner Morgenpost

Von Philip Volkmann-Schluck und Ulla Reinhard

Es ist ein Fall, der so klar erscheint, dass er wütend macht. Trotzdem wirft er schwierige Fragen auf nach dem richtigen Umgang. Das Erzbistum Berlin hat vor einem verurteilten Missbrauchstäter gewarnt, der auf Bewährung auf freiem Fuß ist.

Einerseits könnte er versuchen, im Umfeld der katholischen Gemeinden der Stadt erneut Kontakt zu Minderjährigen zu finden. Andererseits ist der Mann seit seiner letzten Verurteilung im vergangenen Jahr offenbar nicht mehr auffällig gewesen. Nach Informationen der Berliner Morgenpost wurden keine Strafanzeigen gegen den etwa 80-Jährigen erstattet.

Auch ermittelt die Staatsanwaltschaft seit seiner Verurteilung nicht mehr gegen den Mann. Ebenso ist im Umfeld des Erzbistums zu hören, der verurteilte Täter habe sich seitdem nicht erneut verdächtig aufgeführt.

Note: This is an Abuse Tracker excerpt. Click the title to view the full text of the original article. If the original article is no longer available, see our News Archive.

Funeral arrangements announced for Chicago priest, best-selling author Rev. Andrew Greeley

CHICAGO (IL)
The Republic

THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
June 01, 2013

CHICAGO — Funeral arrangements have been announced for the Rev. Andrew Greeley, who died this past week at his Chicago home.

His longtime publicist, June Rosner, says a wake will be held Tuesday from 3-8 p.m. at Christ the King Church, where Greeley spent his first years as a priest.

Visitation will be Wednesday at 9:30 a.m., followed by a funeral Mass at noon at the church in the South Side neighborhood of Beverly.

Greeley was an outspoken Roman Catholic priest, best-selling author and longtime Chicago newspaper columnist who even criticized the hierarchy of his own church over the child sex abuse scandal.

Note: This is an Abuse Tracker excerpt. Click the title to view the full text of the original article. If the original article is no longer available, see our News Archive.

Sexuelle Freizügigkeit schuld an Missbrauch

DEUTSCHLAND
shz

Der Zwischenbericht über die Missbrauchsfälle von Ahrensburg liegt vor. Darin wird die Nordkirche aufgefordert, klare Regeln aufzustellen, die sexuellen Kontakt im Rahmen der Seelsorge strikt untersagen.

Hamburg. Die seit dem Jahr 2010 in Ahrensburg bekannt gewordenen Fälle sexuellen Missbrauchs sind “eindeutig bestätigt”. Das geht aus dem Zwischenbericht der “Unabhängigen Kommission zur Untersuchung von Missbrauchsfällen in der Evangelisch-Lutherischen Kirche in Norddeutschland” hervor, der Freitag in Hamburg der Öffentlichkeit vorgestellt wurde.

Der Bericht erhebt schwere Vorwürfe an die Adresse der ehemaligen Nordelbischen Evangelisch-Lutherischen Kirche. In der Kirche hätten Seelsorger “unter dem Deckmantel einer fortschrittlichen Sexualität oder der Ausnutzung der emotionalen Bedürftigkeit junger Menschen” sexuelle Beziehungen zu Jugendlichen begonnen, um ihre sexuellen Fantasien auszuleben. “Die ehemalige Nordelbische Kirche hat sich immer als progressiv und modern verstanden”, so Kommissionsmitglied Dirk Bange. Dies haben einzelne Täter ausnutzen können, um sich hinter einer “Maske der Liberalität” zu verstecken.

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Missbrauchsfall in den Johannesanstalten: Opfer erzählt seine Geschichte

DEUTSCHLAND
Rhein-Neckar-Zeitung

Von Diana Deutsch

Mosbach. Am schlimmsten, sagt Stefan Wagner, waren nicht die Schläge. Am schlimmsten waren auch nicht die Vergewaltigungen und der Hunger. Am schlimmsten war, sagt Stefan Wagner, dass man keine Ausbildung bekam. “Obwohl ich einen Intelligenz-Quotienten von 108 habe, durfte ich nur eine Schule für geistig Behinderte besuchen.” Das Schicksal eines Heimkinds in den Sechziger Jahren. In den Mosbacher Johannes-Anstalten ist Stefan Wagner aufgewachsen. Unter schrecklichsten Bedingungen, wie er behauptet und deshalb seit Jahren um Wiedergutmachung kämpft (wir berichteten).

Am kommenden Dienstag nun will die Johannes-Diakonie eine Studie vorstellen, die den Missbrauchs-Vorwürfen auf den Grund geht. Im Vorfeld erzählen wir die Geschichte aus Stefan Wagners Sicht.

Der Bahnhof von Mosbach im Jahr 1961. Mit einer Mitarbeiterin des Jugendamts und einem Köfferchen kletterte der fünfjährige Stefan Wagner, der in Wirklichkeit anders heißt, aus dem Zug von Freiburg.

Seine Eltern hatte der Junge nie kennengelernt, so wenig wie seine beiden Brüder. “Das Jugendamt entzog meinen Eltern schon früh das Sorgerecht und brachte uns Brüder in verschiedenen Heimen unter”, erzählt Wagner, der heute 57 Jahre alt ist. Seine ersten fünf Lebensjahre hatte er in einem Freiburger Säuglingsheim verbracht. Dann schickte man ihn nach Mosbach.

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McAleese Report into Magdalene Laundries criticised by UN

IRELAND
The Journal

[Read the letter]

THE UNITED NATIONS committee that put pressure on the Irish government to investigate the Magdalene Laundries system and provide redress to survivors has criticised Martin McAleese’s investigation and subsequent report.

The UN Committee Against Torture (UNCAT) said it was pleased that an inquiry was finally established and a report published. It also noted that the government had made a full and public apology to residents of the laundries, acknowledging the State’s involvement in their incarceration.

However, UNCAT’s rapporteur for follow-up on concluding observations said the probe “lacked many elements of a prompt, independent and thorough investigation as recommended by the committee”.

“Specifically, the committee has received information from several sources highlighting that the McAleese Report, despite its length and detail, did not conduct a fully independent investigation into allegations of arbitrary detention, forced labour or ill-treatment,” wrote Felice Gaer in a letter to Gerard CORR, the Irish UN representative.

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The McAleese Report: ‘Incomplete And Not Independent’

IRELAND
Broadsheet

The UN Committee on Torture has responded to the investigation by Martin McAleese (centre) in to the Magdalene Laundries.

The McAleese report, warmly received by religious commenters here, stated that no evidence exists that abuse took place in the laundries.

This despite hundreds of pages pf testimony documenting incidents of of physical and mental cruelty available to Mr McAleese and his team.

Felice Gaer (top) head of the UN Committee on Torture in a letter, revealed in today’s Irish Examiner (above, not available online), to the UN representative in Ireland, writes:

The report lacks many elements of a prompt, independent and thorough investigation…specifically the committee has recieved information from several sources highlighting that the McAleese Report despite its length and detail did not conduct a fully independent investigation into allegations of arbitary detention, forced labour or ill treatment.

Note: This is an Abuse Tracker excerpt. Click the title to view the full text of the original article. If the original article is no longer available, see our News Archive.

The Roman Catholic Hierarchy, Homosexuality, Hypocrisy and Heresy

UNITED STATES
Minnesota SNAP

By Vinnie Nauheimer

Can a person unschooled in Roman Catholic theology take a noted 20th century theologian and 21st century Pope’s letter deriding homosexuality and turn it into a stinging rebuke of today’s hierarchy simply by changing key words and adding direct quotes from Jesus as found in the Gospels? If so, can the hierarchy honestly accept one version and deny the other? Only at the expense of their own integrity and by denying the words preached by Jesus Christ in three of the four Synoptic Gospels! The ramifications of this revised document are enormous because they speak to homosexuality, hypocrisy and heresy.

On October 1, of 1986, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, later Pope Benedict XVI, promulgated a letter of instruction to the bishops of the world in his official capacity as Prefect of the Congregation of Catholic Faith, “Letter To The Bishops Of The Catholic Church On The Pastoral Care Of Homosexual Persons1” In that letter, he called homosexuality, “Objectively Disordered.”

What follows is a parody of that letter, which maintains Benedict’s structure, logic and reasoning. However unlike Benedict’s version this version uses Sacred Scripture quoted directly from Jesus himself. Benedict XVI could not and can never use the words of Jesus to admonish homosexuality because these words were never spoken by Him in the Gospels. The revised letter uses several direct quotes from Jesus because they exist and have been recorded by the three out of four evangelists. The direct quotes from Jesus make a stronger case for the hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church being “Objectively Disordered,” sacrilegious, heretical and hypocritical than all of Ratzinger’s arguments against homosexuality. Admonitions against child abuse have a strong biblical linkage going all the way back to Exodus and continuing on from Jesus to Paul and throughout the Church’s own Catechism and Canon Law. Using the noted theologian Cardinal Ratzinger’s logic, this extended linkage makes the admonitions for and penalties against child abuse ironclad. The Prefect of the Congregation of the Faith’s has been hoisted upon his own petard. Read the revised text and judge for yourself.

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Archbishop Denis Hart begs forgiveness for church mishandling child abuse

AUSTRALIA
NEWS.com.au

Shannon Deery
From: Sunday Herald Sun
June 02, 2013

EXCLUSIVE: ARCHBISHOP Denis Hart says he feels personally shamed and burdened over the Catholic Church’s handling of child sexual abuse.

The state’s most senior Catholic said in a frank interview his faith had been tested, but had not wavered, in the wake of shocking revelations of decades-long child abuse within the church.
He is now vowing to do whatever it takes to tackle the evil scourge.

The Archbishop said he was horrified to learn of the widespread extent of the clergy abuse crisis after becoming vicar general in 1996 when he realised his predecessors had systematically protected paedophiles.

In his most wide-ranging interview since giving evidence at the Victorian parliamentary inquiry – in which he conceded sexual attacks were covered up and the church’s reputation was put ahead of victims – Archbishop Hart said he:

TOOK responsibility for the church’s handling of abuse complaints

FELT betrayed and let down by members of the church who had abused children and by those who had covered up their “heinous crimes”

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Editorial: Newark shows need for transparency

NEW JERSEY
National Catholic Reporter

NCR Editorial Staff | Jun. 1, 2013

Five people have resigned in New Jersey in the wake of revelations that a priest who was supposedly on a supervised lifetime ban from ministering to minors was indeed ministering to youth and wasn’t being monitored. Fr. Michael Fugee is out on bail after his arrest for violating terms of an agreement he signed with the local county prosecutor when investigators found that he had been attending youth group events, including an overnight pilgrimage to Canada.

Fugee had confessed to groping a 14-year-old boy, and a jury had convicted him of sexual assault in 2003. That conviction was overturned on a technicality, and Fugee entered into the agreement with the prosecutor to avoid a retrial.

As the local newspaper, The Star-Ledger, revealed all this, Fugee resigned his assignment in the Office of Continuing Education and Ongoing Formation of Priests. The pastor and two lay ministers who had invited Fugee to help with youth ministry resigned their positions. Now “as a result of operational failures,” the vicar general, Msgr. John Doran, “has resigned his post and will no longer hold a leadership position with the Archdiocese,” said a letter that Newark Archbishop John Myers sent to pastors to read at Mass Memorial Day weekend. “The strong protocols we presently have in place [to handle cases of sexual abuse of minors by clergy] were not always observed,” Myers wrote.

This chain of events raises serious questions about accountability and transparency in Newark.

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Catholic Church’s Rome guest house is ‘pilgrim chic’

ROME
NEWS.com.au

Angus Hohenboken
From: Sunday Herald Sun
June 02, 2013

FATHER Brendan Arthur takes a swig of his beer. “It’s plush isn’t it,” he says, his gaze sweeping across the courtyard of the grand Domus Australia, a boutique guesthouse in Rome.

The priest, who is residing at the former seminary while on holiday from his parish of Dandenong North, is enjoying a nightcap after a day accompanying Pope Francis on the annual Corpus Domini procession through the streets of Rome.

After sharing stories and a quick cigarette with a group of Australian travellers, Father Brendan bids the party goodnight and climbs the marble stairs to his room, his soft footsteps fading below the trickle of an ornate fountain featuring a gold mosaic of Mary.

This is Domus Australia, the dwelling Cardinal George Pell, Australia’s most prominent Catholic, uses as his “holiday” home or his “casa per ferie”.

The $30 million residence has been drawn into the Catholic Church’s child sex abuse scandal, with Victorian MP Andrea Coote suggesting the church sell its “splendid residence” to help pay compensation to victims.

The cost of the Rome property could have been enough to provide $75,000 – the cap the church places on compensation – to 400 abuse victims, she said.

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‘Beauty & The Priest’ – Anderson Cooper Special Report debuts tonight at 10:00pm ET and PT

TEXAS
CNN

May 31st, 2013
CNN’s Gary Tuchman reports the remarkable case of Irene Garza, a young school teacher and beauty queen was brutally raped and murdered 53 years ago in McAllen, Texas. Today, the one man who local and state police still believe is her murderer, remains free and living a normal life in Arizona.

Years ago, a controversial grand jury session failed to lead to an indictment of the man, who, at the time of the murder, was a Catholic priest. He is believed to be the last person to have seen Irene Garza alive, when he heard her confession on the day before Easter. Garza’s short, accomplished life which was an inspiration for many – her death, and the lingering questions are examined in this one-hour Anderson Cooper Special Report documentary.

Anderson Cooper Special Report: Beauty & The Priest debuts on CNN at 10:00pm ET & PT on Friday, May 31. This program encores on Saturday, June 01 at 8:00pm and 11:00pm ET & PT.

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Shefford orphanage priest John Ryan ‘most brutal man’

UNITED KINGDOM
BBC News

By Nic Rigby
BBC News

Three ex-residents of a former Catholic orphanage have spoken out about their “brutal” treatment at the hands of a priest, who is at the centre of a police investigation.

The men were residents at St Francis Boys Home, in Shefford, near Bedford, in the 1950s and 1960s.

The three allege physical abuse by Father John Ryan, who died in 2008.

The Catholic church says it “deeply regrets” any hurt caused, but stresses the “claims are not proven”.

The home, which closed in 1974, was run by the Catholic Diocese of Northampton.

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Timeline: The killing of Irene Garza

TEXAS
CNN

[Police: Evidence in killing of former beauty queen points to ex-priest]

(CNN) — The killing of former Texas beauty queen and schoolteacher Irene Garza has remained unsolved for more than 50 years. Investigators and the Garza family say all evidence points to a former Catholic priest named John Feit, who told CNN he did not kill Garza.
Below is a timeline of key events surrounding the case:

Garza’s body and key evidence were found in this canal.

March 23, 1960: John Feit, a Roman Catholic priest, attacks Mara Guerra, a 20-year-old woman, in a church. Feit pleads no contest. He is found guilty of aggravated assault and pays a $500 fine.

April 16, 1960: McAllen, Texas, schoolteacher and former beauty queen Irene Garza, 25, visits Sacred Heart Catholic Church to offer confession on the day before Easter.

Easter Sunday, April 17, 1960: Garza’s father files a police report alerting authorities about his missing daughter.

In 2002, then-Texas Ranger Lt. Rudy Jaramillo reopened the Garza case.

April 21, 1960: Police find Garza’s body face down in a McAllen canal, along with a candelabra from Sacred Heart and a Kodak slide photograph viewer that police say belongs to Feit.

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Police: Evidence in killing of former beauty queen points to ex-priest

TEXAS
CNN

[timeline]

By Scott Bronstein and Gary Tuchman, CNN Special Investigations Unit

McAllen, Texas (CNN) — All evidence pointed police to one conclusion: A priest had killed a beautiful 25-year-old schoolteacher.

Searchers had found the lifeless body of former Miss South Texas, Irene Garza, face down in a canal in her hometown of McAllen. She’d disappeared on the day before Easter after going to Sacred Heart Catholic Church for confession.

An autopsy determined Garza had been raped while in a coma, and then had died from suffocation. Near Garza’s body investigators found items that belonged to the church, including a candelabra.

One item, a metallic Kodak slide photo viewer, belonged to a 27-year-old priest who was assigned to the church: the Rev. John Feit.

To say the scandal rocked McAllen is an understatement.

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UN watchdog attacks McAleese laundries probe

IRELAND
Irish Independent

COLM KELPIE – 01 JUNE 2013

THE United Nations’ torture watchdog has criticised the McAleese inquiry into the Magdalene Laundries and has called on the Government to set out plans for a full-scale independent investigation.

The United Nations Committee Against Torture said it received information from several sources that the inquiry, chaired by former Senator Dr Martin McAleese, did not conduct a “fully independent investigation into allegations of arbitrary detention, forced labour or ill treatment.”

In a letter to Gerard Corr, Ireland’s ambassador to the UN in Geneva, the Committee questioned whether the state would set up an independent inquiry.

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„Bodem van ontkerkelijking is nog niet in zicht”

NEDERLAND
Reformatorisch Dagblad

De kerkverlating in Nederland gaat in een hoog tempo door. Op dit moment behoort ongeveer 30 procent van de bevolking nog tot een kerk. Onderzoeker Jos Becker verwacht dat percentage in 2025 is gehalveerd. „De bodem is echt nog niet in zicht.”

Hoe gaat het met de kerken, de religieuze betrokkenheid en het christelijk geloof aan het begin van de 21e eeuw in Nederland? Deze vragen stonden vrijdag centraal tijdens het symposium ”Ontkerkelijking: nou en? Oorzaken en gevolgen van secularisatie in Nederland” op de Radboud Universiteit in Nijmegen. De organisatie ervan was in handen van deze universiteit en het tijdschrift Religie en Samenleving.

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DIOCESAN PARTICIPATION IN TRC EVENTS

CANADA
Anglican Diocese of New Westminster

All around the Diocese of New Westminster communities are praying, learning, and organizing in anticipation of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission on Indian Residential Schools National Event in September.

St. Hilda’s By the Sea and St. John’s Sunshine Coast (United Church of Canada), together with survivors of the Sechelt and St. George’s Lytton schools and leaders of the Sechelt band learned about the history and legacy of the Indian Residential School in Sechelt through the Project of Heart, a community based collaborative art project.

In late May, Vancouver School of Theology hosted the Regional Advisory Council to the TRC as they met with Chief Commissioner Justice Murray Sinclair to plan events for September. Church involvement includes an archival display, words and gestures of reconciliation from our leaders, a birthday party for former students, and a church listening area.

Churches in the North Vancouver deanery have taken part in a Sunday morning program which includes liturgy, Sunday school curriculum, music, guest speakers and educators from the Indian Residential School Survivors Society, the NFB film Muffins for Granny, the travelling resource library and time for reflection and sharing.

St. James’, Vancouver reconciliation group is promoting a free showing and discussion of the film We Were Children, June 11, 7pm, 149 West Hastings.

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Anti-child abuse program developed in county is going national

PENNSYLVANIA
Lancaster Online

By JOAN KERN
Correspondent

When the Rev. Deb Helt’s granddaughter was born 26 months ago, the pastor vowed that little Emma would be safe — and know about her body.

So two years ago she helped lead the yearlong Safe Church Project: Protection of Children and Youth from Sexual Abuse at Hosanna! A Fellowship of Christians, in Lititz, where she serves as pastor of congregational life. Hosanna was among nine congregations in that first Safe Church Project.

Last year Helt shadowed Linda Crockett, director of education and consultation at the Samaritan Counseling Center, who developed and designed the project, as Crockett led nine more congregations and the Warwick Released Time Program through the project. In those two years, Safe Church reached 3,000 children and 3,800 adults.

Now this year, Helt will take over for Crockett locally while Crockett takes the project on the road to three locations across the country.

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