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.

December 31, 2015

Letters of support for sex offender ex-bishop Peter Ball released

UNITED KINGDOM
BBC News

By Tom Symonds
Home Affairs correspondent

A former Archbishop of Canterbury wrote to police in 1993 with letters of support for the then Bishop of Gloucester who was being investigated for sex offences, it can be revealed.

Ex-archbishop George Carey said Peter Ball was in “torment” as a result of a police investigation, letters released by the Crown Prosecution Service show.

It was “improbable” he was guilty, the letters show he told police.

Ball, 83, was jailed for a string of offences against young men in October.

He was sentenced to 32 months for misconduct in a public office and 15 months for indecent assaults, to run concurrently.

‘Church cover-up’

Lord Carey also wrote in a letter to Barbara Mills – then the director of public prosecutions – that Ball’s health was fragile and the decision to prosecute should be made “as speedily as possible”.

The letters have been released by the CPS in response to a Freedom of Information (FoI) request by the BBC and others, after it emerged that members of the establishment had written personal letters on Ball’s behalf.

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.

Ex-COSEA member says she will go to jail

ROME
ANSA

(ANSA) – Rome, December 31 – A former member of a commission on the Holy See’s economic-administrative structure has said she has given up and expects to go to jail for leaking Vatican documents. “I will be sentenced,” public relations specialist Francesca Immacolata Chaouqui wrote on Facebook. “I am innocent but I will be found guilty.” The Commission for Reference on the Organization of the Economic-Administrative Structure of the Holy See (COSEA) was set up by Pope Francis in July 2013 to help put the Holy See’s finances in order. Chaouqui as well as Spanish Monsignor Lucio Vallejo Balda and his administrative cleric have been charged with leaking documents to journalists that showed corruption and questionable financial practices in the Vatican. “There is no chance that the Vatican court, after arresting me and setting in motion a trial that was to have been over in a few days and is instead lasting for months, and after this matter has made headlines across the world, will simply say ‘we were wrong’ and ‘we put an innocent person behind bars’,” she added. “Thus, I will be sentenced. Without any proof or reason. I will pay for having obeyed the pope and not listening to those who said that ‘the pope leaves while the Curia stays’.

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 predator who worries me the most

UNITED STATES
Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests

By David Clohessy

“Of all these predator priests, which one worries you the most?” That was the question a fellow survivor put to me recently.

My immediate thought was “How on earth could I pick one?” My next thought was “Geez, this is gonna keep me up tonight.” And it certainly did.

The first name that popped to mind was Fr. Ronald H. Paquin, who’s recently been released from prison. He is known to have sexually abused more than 40 boys. Once, with four boys in his car, he crashed while driving drunk. One boy died and another was badly injured.

Then I realized that Fr. Paquin probably sprang to mind probably because he’s portrayed briefly in the film Spotlight.

I realized that kids may be a little safer from Fr. Paquin than other predators because he must register as a sex offender and because the abuse and cover up crisis has gotten so much coverage in Massachusetts.

Then I thought of about four guys in quick succession.

Fr. Henry Willenborg (who spent time in Illinois, Missouri and, most recently, Wisconsin) who reportedly molested a teen, impregnated an adult parishioner twice, suggested an abortion, fathered and ignored a child. Since 2009, Catholic officials say they’re investigating all of this alleged wrongdoing by the slick-talking and charismatic Fr. Willenborg.

–Fr. Willenborg’s time in Missouri reminded me of another ex-Missouri cleric, Br. William C. Mueller, who lives in San Antonio and molested more than 50 kids in Missouri, Colorado and Texas while teaching in Marianist schools.

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.

Establishment figures who helped disgraced bishop avoid prosecution for sex abuse revealed

UNITED KINGDOM
Telegraph

Former Lord Justice Anthony Lloyd and David Cameron’s late godfather Tory MP Tim Rathbone among figures who wrote in support of former Bishop of Gloucester, Peter Ball, one said he was a “saint”

By Nicola Harley 31 Dec 2015

The Establishment figures whose intervention helped a disgraced Bishop evade prosecution for decades have finally been revealed following an investigation by the Telegraph.

The former Bishop of Gloucester, now aged 83, groomed and abused 18 aspiring young priests over a period spanning 15 years and was finally jailed in October.

Peter Ball had escaped justice over the same charges years earlier after he was given support by a member of the Royal family and establishment figures.

A Freedom of Information request by the Telegraph has led to the release of the letters written by some high profile figures in his support, they include former Lord Justice Anthony Lloyd, former Archbishop of Canterbury Donald Coggan and David Cameron’s late godfather Tory MP Tim Rathbone, who gave Mr Cameron his first work experience in the House of Commons.

Mr Rathbone, who died from cancer in 2002, aged 69, wrote that he found it “literally inconceivable” that Ball would ever become involved with anyone in the way described.

Anthony Lloyd, who was a Lord Justice at the time, described Ball as a “saint” in one of more than 2,000 letters sent to the Crown Prosecution Service and Gloucestershire Police in his support from acquaintances.

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.

MO–Second-ever clergy “contract breach” suit is precedent-setting and encouraging, SNAP says

MISSOURI
Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests

For immediate release: Thursday, Dec. 31, 2015

Statement by Barbara Dorris of St. Louis, Outreach Director of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (314 503 0003 cell, SNAPdorris@gmail.com)

A woman who was sexually abused by a Jesuit who became the president of St. Louis University has become the second victim to settle a “breach of contract” case against Catholic officials. We applaud her for her courage, her persistence and her concern for others who may be hurt or betrayed by Jesuits.

These highly unusual abuse and breach of contract lawsuits are very encouraging. We hope and believe other victims will start using this tactic.

–In this just-settled case, a New York woman was sexually violated by Fr. Daniel O’Connell (then a professor, later the president of SLU), who is believed to still be living in St. Louis. According to the New York Times, Fr. O’Connell “was accused of sexually assaulting a 20-year-old college student in 1983.” In 2003, his Jesuit supervisors “found the accusation credible,” paid her $181,000 settlement and agreed to remove O’Connell “from a teaching post at another Jesuit institution” and bar him “from public ministry” or any activity in which he could develop a relationship with a woman.

[New York Times]

In 2010, this woman filed a suit accusing O’Connell’s Jesuit supervisors of breaking that promise by letting him teach in Oklahoma, engage in public ministry in Germany, and speak at symposia and seminars at several universities.

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.

A LETTER FROM ARCHBISHOP PHILIP WILSON

AUSTRALIA
Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Adelaide

December 30, 2015
15/1816

To my dear priests, deacons, religious and to all people of the Archdiocese of Adelaide.

By now most of you would be aware that in March 2015 I was charged with an offence in New South Wales under section 316 of the Crimes Act 1900.

When I learned about this charge, I decided that it was appropriate that I take time on leave to enable me to reflect and consult widely about the charge. I have done so over the last 9 months and after deep thought, prayer and reflection, I have decided that it is now appropriate for me to end my leave and resume my duties as Archbishop of Adelaide.

I have taken this decision now for many reasons, including the fact that I do not know how long it will take for the charge against me to be resolved. I cannot responsibly remain on leave indefinitely given my serious responsibilities as Archbishop of Adelaide. I have made a commitment in faith to the People of God in the Archdiocese of Adelaide and it is a commitment that I feel I can longer defer.

I will therefore end my period of leave and resume my duties in January 2016.

Some people may disagree with my decision and I respect that. In no way should this decision be interpreted as my not taking this matter very seriously. On the contrary, I take the charge extremely seriously. In recognition of that, and also in recognition of the importance of public accountability and transparency, when I resume my duties I will take no role in professional standards matters in the Archdiocese of Adelaide, and nor will I be involved in the professional standards work of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference or my former work with the Truth Justice and Healing Council until this matter is resolved.

Finally, I would like to thank all of those people who have expressed support and good wishes during what has been a very trying and difficult time. I have been greatly heartened by this and I thank you so very much.

I am limited in the further comments I am able to make at this time because the matter is still before the Court but insofar as I am able to do so I will keep you all informed of any updates.

Philip Wilson
Archbishop of Adelaide

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.

Adelaide Archbishop to resume duties

AUSTRALIA
9 News

Adelaide’s Catholic Archbishop will resume his duties despite still facing a charge of concealing child sexual abuse.

Archbishop Philip Wilson took leave in March after he was charged with one count of concealing information about a serious indictable offence.

Wilson, 64, pleaded not guilty in May to concealing information about the 1971 sex assault of a 10-year-old boy by pedophile priest James Fletcher in Maitland.

In a letter published on the Catholic Archdiocese of Adelaide website on Thursday, Wilson said he had decided “after deep thought, prayer and reflection” to return from leave in January.

“I have taken this decision now for many reasons, including the fact that I do not know how long it will take for the charge against me to be resolved,” he wrote.

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.

No. 7: Public discord in Catholic church continues

GUAM
Pacific Daily News

Gaynor Dumat-ol Daleno, December 31, 2015

The public discord between two sides in Guam’s Catholic community spilled over into 2015 from the previous year.

In January last year, while a Vatican delegation visited Guam, dozens of island Catholics held prayer protests. In one of their prayer protests, they held statues and rosaries as they walked along the stretch of busy Farenholt Avenue to a monastery compound, where the Vatican delegation had been holding private meetings.

The delegation met separately with people who follow the Neocatechumenal Way and separate meetings for those who hold on to the old traditions of the island’s Catholic church.

Months earlier, Concerned Catholics of Guam demanded, in part, for Archbishop Anthony Apuron to be fiscally transparent, and questioned Apuron’s association with the Neocatechumenal Way.

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.

Retiring Aust bishop seeks forgiveness

AUSTRALIA
Herald Sun

A retiring Australian bishop accused of trying to protect himself and the Catholic Church over pedophile priests is seeking forgiveness from anyone he may have disappointed.

The Pope has accepted Brisbane auxiliary bishop Brian Finnigan’s resignation after he reached retirement age, the Vatican’s press office has announced.

Bishop Finnigan, 77, submitted his resignation to Pope Francis in 2013, a requirement for bishops when they turn 75.

“In a pastoral career spanning more than 40 years, there have been disappointments and challenges,” Bishop Finnigan said in a letter to fellow clergy in the Brisbane archdiocese on Thursday.

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.

Pope accepts resignation of Australian bishop accused of being evasive at abuse inquiry

AUSTRALIA
The Guardian

Guardian staff and agencies
Wednesday 30 December 2015

An Australian bishop accused of protecting himself and the Catholic church at the child abuse royal commission has resigned.

The pope has accepted Brisbane auxiliary bishop Brian Finnegan’s resignation upon his reaching the retirement age, the Vatican’s press office has announced.

Finnegan, 77, was accused of not being candid about his knowledge of paedophile priests in a bid to protect himself and the church during his December evidence to the child abuse royal commission’s inquiry into the Ballarat diocese.

Finnegan was secretary to the bishop of the Ballarat diocese, Ronald Mulkearns, between 1979 and 1985 when the priest Gerald Ridsdale was abusing children in parishes within the diocese.

Finnegan repeatedly told the commission he was unaware of Ridsdale’s abuse at the time and had no concerns about the priest.

But the commission heard evidence Finnegan had been phoned by a mother who was concerned about Ridsdale’s interactions with her eldest son.

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.

Pope Francis accepts bishop’s resignation following abuse inquiry accusations

AUSTRALIA
Premier

Thu 31 Dec 2015
By Hannah Tooley

Pope Francis has accepted the resignation of an Australian bishop who has been accused of being evasive over an abuse inquiry.

Brian Finnegan was accused of not sharing his knowledge of alleged paedophile priests in an attempt to protect himself as well as the church.

The Vatican’s press office has announced that the pope has accepted the resignation of the Brisbane auxiliary bishop, upon his reaching the age of retirement.

Mr Finnegan, 77, has been accused of not being open with his knowledge of alleged paedophile priests during his December evidence to the child abuse royal commission’s inquiry into the Ballarat diocese.

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.

Tacoma church volunteer charged with raping girl he met at youth camp

WASHINGTON
The News Tribune

BY STACIA GLENN
sglenn@thenewstribune.com

A 20-year-old man who works at a Tacoma middle school and volunteers as a Youth for Christ pastor pleaded not guilty Wednesday to molesting a 14-year-old girl he met at youth camp.

Adam Parks is charged with four counts of third-degree child rape. He pleaded not guilty and bail was set at $100,000.

The abuse is alleged to have taken place from March to December in a church office, art camp and Parks’ car.

Parks was a lunchtime supervisor at Gray Middle School, head of security at Zion River Church and a volunteer for Youth for Christ, records show.

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.

Church music director accused of sex assault kills himself

WISCONSIN
Beloit Daily News

REEDSBURG, Wis. (AP) — Police say a Reedsburg church music director has killed himself after he was charged with sexually assaulting a teenage girl who was a choir member.

Officers went to check on the welfare of 48-year-old David Knoble Wednesday morning. As officers approached the front door, they heard a gunshot from inside. Police forced their way in and found Knoble dead of a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

Knoble was accused of having sexual contact with the girl for more than a year, beginning when she was 16. Knoble denied the charges to investigators.

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.

Kansas Church Hired Known Sex offender Who Then Molested Disabled Churchgoer: Police

KANSAS
AlterNet

By David Edwards / Raw Story December 30, 2015

A church treasurer in Overland Park, Kansas has been accused of sexual abuse — and it’s not the first time.

KCTV reported that Rodney Sexton was accused of molesting a 31-year-old disabled churchgoer “who is deaf and functions like an 8 year old.” Sexton is also deaf.

It was not immediately clear if officials at Deaf Liberty Baptist Church in Overland Park knew that Sexton faced six sex-related charges in the 1980s while working at a school for the deaf.

He was convicted on two counts of sodomy and aggravated indecent liberties with a child in that case. Although he served time in Kansas prison, he was not placed on the sex offender registry because the crime occurred before 1994.

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.

Auxiliary Brisbane Bishop Brian Finnigan quits after accusations of dishonesty before sex abuse royal commission

AUSTRALIA
The Courier-Mail

December 31, 2015

Daryl Passmore
The Courier-Mail

A BRISBANE bishop has quit after being accused of not being honest in giving evidence at the sexual abuse royal commission.

Auxiliary Bishop Brian Finnigan — one of the city’s three most powerful Catholic Church figures — had his resignation accepted by Pope Francis yesterday.

In a letter to fellow clergymen, he made no direct reference to his appearance before the commission earlier this month. But he wrote: “In a pastoral career spanning more than 40 years, there have been disappointments and challenges.

“From those whom I may have disappointed, I seek forgiveness.’’

Bishop Finnigan was slammed by counsel assisting the Royal Commission, Angus Stewart SC, two weeks ago for lacking compassion and not being candid in his evidence about his knowledge of paedophile priests in the 1980s.

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.

December 30, 2015

Bishop Brian Finnigan reaches retirement

AUSTRALIA
Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Brisbane

BISHOP Brian Finnigan will begin the new year in retirement from his episcopal ministry after Pope Francis officially accepted his resignation yesterday.

The Holy Father accepted the resignation of Brisbane Auxiliary Bishop Brian Vincent Finnigan, aged 77, on December 30, 2015, two years after he had presented it to Pope Francis.

Diocesan bishops are canonically requested to present their resignation to the Holy Father at 75 years of age.

Bishop Finnigan served as auxiliary bishop of Brisbane for 13 years and wholeheartedly welcomed his retirement in an official letter sent to clergy in the archdiocese.

“I am grateful that it has now come to pass,” Bishop Finnigan said.

“At 77 years of age, energy levels and mental agility have diminished.”

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.

Bishop Brian Finnigan resigns

AUSTRALIA
The Courier

By Melissa Cunningham
Dec. 31, 2015

A bishop who was accused of putting himself and the reputation of the Catholic Church ahead of “truth and compassion” for victims has resigned.

Outgoing Brisbane Auxiliary Bishop and former secretary to Ballarat Bishop Ronald Mulkearns, Brian Finnigan, officially resigned from his senior leadership position in the Catholic Church late Wednesday evening.

The Courier understands the Vatican formally accepted the resignation from the office of Auxiliary of the Archdiocese of Brisbane at 10pm Australian time on Wednesday.

The Archdiocese of Brisbane, confirmed his resignation to The Courier on Thursday morning.

Bishop Finnigan had reached the age limit for being a Catholic bishop.

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Adelaide Archbishop Philip Wilson announces return despite still facing charges of concealing child sex abuse in NSW in the 1970s

AUSTRALIA
Adelaide Now

Andrew Dowdell
The Advertiser

THE Archbishop of Adelaide, Philip Wilson, will return to his post next month despite still facing criminal charges of concealing child sexual abuse.

Archbishop Wilson has been on leave since March after he was charged by NSW Police with allegedly concealing sexual abuse perpetrated in the 1970s by his then-housemate, paedophile priest James Patrick Fletcher.

The Archbishop, who has maintained his public silence since being charged, on Wednesday announced he would return to his duties in January through a letter addressed to “priests, deacons, religious and to all people of the Archdiocese of Adelaide”.

“Some people may disagree with my decision and I respect that,” Archbishop Wilson wrote.

“In no way should this decision be interpreted as my not taking this matter very seriously. On the contrary, I take the charge extremely seriously.”

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.

Doctor booked for failing to report sexual abuse

INDIA
The Hindu

The police team investigating the sexual abuse of a 14-year-old girl by a Catholic priest at Puthenvelikkara have booked a government doctor for failing to report a child sexual abuse case.

The police said the doctor, identified as Ajitha, was booked under Section 19 of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (Pocso) Act, 2012.

As per the case, the doctor did not alert the police in spite of knowing that the girl had been sexually abused.

A complaint filed by the girl’s mother stated that the doctor had prescribed contraceptive tablets to the class X girl on March 29 this year.

Anticipatory bail

Meanwhile, officials said the doctor was booked after she had moved the court for anticipatory bail in October.

Figarez, former parish priest of Lourdes Matha Church, Puthenvelikkara, surrendered before the Ernakulam Rural police superintendent on December 8 after absconding for about eight months.

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“Swift Current” – a real good documentary movie on child sexual abuse played by victims themselves (not Hollywood A-listers). (REBUTTAL- Column: ‘Spotlight’ moving as it takes on important social issue)

UNITED STATES
PopeCrimes& Vatican Evils.

Paris Arrow

vimeo.com › Marcel Herman Films › Videos
13 août 2015
From 3-time Academy Award winner Mark Jonathan Harris, Executive Producer James Gray, and Lost for Life director Joshua Rofé comes a documentary film about Sheldon Kennedy, former NHL hockey player & survivor of sexual abuse – providing a startling & never before seen look at recovery from childhood sexual abuse trauma.
For Press Inquires contact Ingrid Hamilton ingrid@gat.ca & joshuarofe@gmail.com
Official Site: swiftcurrentdoc.com
Facebook: facebook.com/swiftcurrentdoc
Twitter: @SC_DocFilm

A very good movie about pedophilia on little boys who were abused by their hockey coach is “Swift Current” – starring the real victims themselves, Sheldon Kennedy et al — with actual documentary footage – directed by 3-time Academy Award winner Mark Jonathan Harris. The victims tell their own story and they are more powerful and more authentic than Spotlight and its Hollywood A-listers actors (who were paid millions of dollars to shift focus more on the journalists and the victims are secondary). “Swift Current” contains real videos, real photos of the victims who tried to commit suicide, real court room scenes and real photos of the serial abuser who was caught and jailed. Sheldon Kennedy now has a charitable foundation that helps victims of pedophilia and pederasty and rape. Here are several comments on the movie “Swift Current” (which Spotlight can never claim for itself in its pathetic desperation for an Oscar buzz. Read our Spotlight articles in the list below).

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SHINING A FRESH SPOTLIGHT ON NEW YORK’S CHURCH CHILD ABUSE

UNITED STATES
Newsweek

BY PAUL J. HANLY JR. ON 12/30/15

As we head into 2016 and the official start of the awards season, “Spotlight,” which tells the true tale of a Pulitzer Prize–winning team of Boston Globe reporters that unravels the Catholic Church’s decades-long attempt to cover up the sexual misdeeds of its clergy, emerges as a clear favorite.

The film reveals the shame, embarrassment and fear of sex abuse victims as they weigh whether to risk it all by outing one of the world’s most powerful institutions.

Frustratingly, few moviegoers will realize that the story is actually much bigger than what the film depicts in two key ways. The most mind-blowing revelations, in fact, may still be enshrouded in darkness.

Sexual abuse of children by those associated with the Church is by no means confined to the abbeys of Boston. In 2014, the Vatican released a report revealing that 848 priests, globally, had been defrocked for raping or molesting children over the past decade, and 2,572 other offending priests had been given lesser sanctions.

According to news reports, between 2004 and 2013, the U.S. Catholic Church has spent almost $3 billion in costs related to widespread abuse allegations, including settlements and attorneys’ fees, therapy for victims and support for offenders.

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.

Aust bishop accused of ‘lying’ retires

AUSTRALIA
7 News

AAP

An Australian bishop accused of protecting himself and the Catholic Church at the child abuse royal commission has retired.

The Pope has accepted Brisbane auxiliary bishop Brian Finnigan’s resignation upon his reaching the retirement age, the Vatican’s press office has announced.

Bishop Finnigan on Thursday said he submitted his resignation to Pope Francis in 2013 and was grateful it had now come to pass.

“At 77 years of age, energy levels and mental agility have diminished,” he said in a letter to fellow clergy in the Brisbane archdiocese.

“In a pastoral career spanning more than 40 years, there have been disappointments and challenges.

“From those whom I may have disappointed, I seek forgiveness.”

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.

Tacoma Youth for Christ volunteer arrested for child rape

WASHINGTON
KOMO

WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 30TH 2015

TACOMA, Wash. – A 20-year-old middle school employee and Youth for Christ volunteer has been arrested for investigation of third-degree child rape after admitting to a sexual relationship with a 14-year-old girl, according to court documents.

The suspect, identified as Adam Z. Parks, pleaded not guilty to all four counts of third degree child rape during his arraignment Wednesday in Pierce County Superior Court. He was ordered held on $100,000 bail.

According to the case file, Parks met the girl years earlier and got to know her through his role as a volunteer with the Youth for Christ program at Gray Middle School in Tacoma, where he also worked as a lunchroom supervisor.

Parks began counseling and texting the girl after a close relative of hers died, and the relationship became sexual shortly afterward, court documents show.

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Former Anson youth pastor arrested for indecency with a child

TEXAS
KTXS

By Jamie Burch, News Director, jburch@ktxs.com
POSTED: Dec 30 2015

ANSON, Texas –
A former youth pastor in Anson is out of jail and out of a job after police say he had an inappropriate relationship with an underage girl in his youth group.

26 year old Callan Rice is charged with indecency with a child, a second degree felony.

Police say Rice was recently fired by Bethel Assembly in Anson after he was caught meeting privately with the girl who is under the age of 17.

According to incident report, Rice had sexual contact with the girl and has confessed to the crime.

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Other Pontifical Acts

VATICAN CITY
Vatican Information Service

Vatican City, 30 December 2015 (VIS) – The Holy Father has:

– appointed Fr. Jose Fortunato Alvarez Valdez as bishop of Gomez Palacio (area 27,405, population 585,000, Catholics 468,000, priests 51, religious 76) Mexico. The bishop-elect was born in Mexicali, Mexico in 1967 and was ordained a priest in 1998. He holds a degree in theology and patristic sciences from the Agostinian Patristic Institute, Rome, and has served in a number of pastoral roles in the diocese of Mexicali, including diocesan coordinator of vocational pastoral ministry, vicar of the cathedral, chancellor, parish priest and dean. He is currently pastor of the Nuestra Senora del Perpetuo Socorro, defender of the bond of the diocesan tribunal, and member of the presbyteral college, the college of consultors and the economic board.

– accepted the resignation from the office of auxiliary of the archdiocese of Brisbane, Australia presented by Bishop Brian Finnegan upon reaching the age limit.

– appointed Fr. Aparecido Donizete de Souza as auxiliary of Porto Alegre (area 13,530, population 3,395,000, Catholics 2,527,000, priests 362, permanent deacons 58, religious 1,487), Brazil. The bishop-elect was born in Primeiro de Maio, Brazil in 1964 and was ordained a priest in 1992. He holds a licentiate in spirituality from the “Teresianum” Pontifical Institute of Spirituality and has served as parish in a number of pastoral roles in the diocese of Cornelio Procopio, Brazil, including parish vicar of the cathedral, parish priest, rector of the “Menino Deus” seminary and of the “Sao Jose” major seminary. He is currently pastor of the “Sao Francisco de Assis” parish, spiritual director of the seminary and diocesan assessor for liturgical pastoral ministry.

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.

Understanding the Marc Gafni Story, Part II

UNITED STATES
Tablet

By Mark Oppenheimer

On Friday, my article about the controversial ex-rabbi Marc Gafni was posted online at The New York Times website; it ran in the print edition on Saturday, December 26. Since then, it has received a tremendous amount of attention, and generated some very significant questions, many of them having to do with who supported Gafni, and when, and why.

As readers of that first piece know, Gafni, 55, who worked as a rabbi in both the Orthodox and Renewal wings of Judaism, long ago admitted that when he was 19 and 20 he had repeated sexual encounters, over a nine-month period, with a girl who was 13 and then 14 years old. In 1986, Gafni was accused of twice groping 16-year-old Judy Mitzner, a student involved with his Jewish outreach program, once getting into bed with her completely naked. (She was staying with him and his wife during a rough period at home.) He once told a reporter that the first girl was “14 going on 35” and that they were “in love”; the second girl was, he told me, “highly initiatory.”

Gafni’s also been accused of plagiarism, of emotionally abusive relationships with women at his Jewish Renewal community in Israel (which imploded after his multiple liaisons), and, in 2011, of sleeping with a woman he was counseling, which led her employer, a book publisher, to cancel Gafni’s book contract. (At the time, the employer, publisher Tami Simon, gave a statement to a blogger about why she was dropping Gafni, and the woman who alleged the affair recently confirmed the story to me. Speaking with me, Gafni denied that the relationship was a breach of ethics because, he said, he was not counseling the woman.)

Yet Gafni has continually found students and financial backers. The question is, who are they? And what is their reasoning?

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Molestation charges dropped against church leader with history of child sex abuse

KANSAS
KVTV
Posted: Dec 29, 2015

By Dave Eckert, Assignment Editor
By DeAnn Smith, Digital Content Manager
By Angie Ricono, Investigative Reporter

OVERLAND PARK, KS (KCTV) –
Charges have been dropped against a deaf church leader who is accused of molesting a church goer with disabilities.

Prosecutors are refusing to discuss the decision involving a convicted sex offender.

Rodney Sexton had been charged in Johnson County with aggravated sexual battery. Sexton was initially accused of molesting a 31-year-old man who is deaf and functions at the level of an 8-year-old child.

On Tuesday, Johnson County District Attorney Steve Howe dropped the charges against Sexton. This was just a day after Sexton made his first court appearance.

The mother of the 31-year old is furious at Howe and his office.

“Disappointed is way past the word,” the woman said. “We want action. We want somebody to take action.”

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Reinstatement of Rev. Jeremiah N. Murasso

CONNECTICUT
Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Hartford

The Archdiocese of Hartford, having conducted an extensive and thorough investigation of the child sexual abuse allegation involving Father Murasso, has determined that the allegation was not substantiated. That being the case, Father Murasso is being returned to ministry here with all his priestly faculties having been restored. That means Father once again has the ability to celebrate the Eucharist and other Sacraments, as well as attend to the temporal and pastoral needs of the Catholic Church and its parishioners.

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Priest who led New Haven orphanage cleared of sex abuse charge

CONNECTICUT
New Haven Register

By Ed Stannard, New Haven Register
POSTED: 12/29/15

A Roman Catholic priest who was accused of child sexual abuse as director of the St. Francis Home for Children in New Haven in the 1990s has been cleared of the charge by the Archdiocese of Hartford.

The Rev. Jeremiah N. Murasso has returned to his parishes of Blessed Sacrament Church and the Shrine of St. Anne in Waterbury. He was director of the St. Francis orphanage, also known as Highland Heights, from 1992 to 1995. The home closed in 2012 after 160 years.

Murasso also served at St. Joseph Church in New Haven from 1982 to 1985 and at St. Vincent de Paul Church in East Haven from 1985 to 1989. While director of the St. Francis Home, Murasso was pastor of St. Vincent Ferrer Church in Naugatuck.

A statement by the archdiocese posted this month said it had “conducted an extensive and thorough investigation of the child sexual abuse allegation involving Father Murasso” and “determined that the allegation was not substantiated.”

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Priest Cleared Of Abuse Allegations By Hartford Archdiocese

CONNECTICUT
Hartford Courant

Associated Press

NEW HAVEN — A Catholic priest accused of sexually abusing children while serving as director of a New Haven orphanage in the 1990s has been cleared of all charges by the Archdiocese of Hartford.

The New Haven Register reports (http://bit.ly/1Sm1PD2 ) the Rev. Jeremiah Murasso has returned to his parishes in Waterbury after the archdiocese “conducted an extensive and thorough investigation” into the allegations of abuse at the St. Francis Home for Children.

A statement released by the archdiocese says the investigation found that the allegations against Murasso were not substantiated.

Murasso ran the orphanage, also known as Highland Heights, from 1992 to 1995 while he was pastor of St. Vincent Ferrer Church in Naugatuck. The home closed in 2012 after 160 years of service.

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Column: ‘Spotlight’ moving as it takes on important social issue

INDIANA
The Republic

Dennis McCarty editorial@therepublic.com
Published: 12/29/15

A few Fridays ago, my better half, Kate, and I decided to take in a movie. Our choice was “Spotlight,” the docudrama about newspaper coverage of the Boston Archdiocese sex abuse scandal.

This topic hits close to home with me. I’ve been on the receiving end. It’s not something I talk about a lot, but from about ages 8 to 11 I was a sexually abused child. More than 50 years have passed, but it still bites me from time to time.

I’m a movie buff, though. “Spotlight” got phenomenal reviews, and everyone said the abuse part was tastefully and delicately handled. So off we went, figuring everything would be just fine.

Which it was, mostly. I’m definitely glad I saw the movie. But about halfway through, I started to tear up. Then the part that really got to me was when the reporters began to realize just how many Boston children had been sexually abused: hundreds.

That’s when I burst out crying.

Yep. Crying.

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Homosexuality scandal at Kalibu Academy

MALAWI
Malawi 24

Fresh investigations into Malawi’s Kalibu Academy in Chileka, Blantyre that Malawi24 has seen have revealed that current Headmaster, Paisley Mavutula is a leading mastermind behind different abuses faced by employees and students at “Christian” run Kalibu Academy.

Kalibu, which currently has 800 students in secondary school – almost 600 of them boarders – professes on its website to have “the spirit of excellence that reaches the heavens,” but what our investigation at Malawi24 has uncovered is quite the opposite.

A recently released year-long inquiry into verbal, physical and homosexual misconduct done to employees and alumni of the boarding school identified Headmaster Paisley Mavutula and school founder Michael Thomas Howard as the main perpetrators.

Abuse at Kalibu dates back to days before ground was even broken on the first building at the school and continues into the current year, 2015.

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Child abuse ribbons stripped from Castlemaine church

AUSTRALIA
Bendigo Advertiser

By Erin Handley
Dec. 30, 2015

A Castlemaine woman was left deflated after a local Catholic church removed ribbons she had strung to symbolise support for victims of child sexual abuse.

Melinda Webster said she tied ribbons in pink, green, red and purple, with tags explaining their meaning, to the front entrance at St Mary’s Catholic Parish in Castlemaine last week, only to return two hours later and find them gone.

Ms Webster said she was “not surprised, but disappointed” by the ribbons being removed from the church so swiftly.

Two years ago, at the age of 50, her own husband disclosed his own history of abuse in an interstate boarding school.

Father Wahid Riad of St Mary’s in Castlemaine said he had not removed the ribbons, although some of his parishioners had mentioned them to him and they may have taken them down.

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December 29, 2015

Controversial Joliet bishop laid to rest

CHICAGO (IL)
Chicago Tribune

Nick Swedberg and Erin Gallagher
Daily Southtown

Bishop Joseph Imesch spent nearly three decades as a dedicated shepherd to the members of the Joliet Diocese.

In that time, he forged deep bonds of friendship, and fought hard for major changes to the church he believed were due.

But his 27-year tenure was not without its black marks. Many in and outside the church criticized his involvement in the Catholic Church sex abuse scandal, saying he sheltered accused priests by shuffling them among parishes.

As mourners recalled both the good and the bad, Imesch’s body was laid to rest Tuesday in Resurrection Cemetery in Romeoville. The 84-year-old had retired as third bishop of the Joliet Diocese in 2006, but remained an emeritus bishop until his death last week.

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WATCH: Priest Suspended for Using Hoverboard During Mass

PHILIPPINES
Sojourners

By David Gibson, Religion News Service 12-29-2015

Hoverboards earned a reputation as maybe the most dangerous gift for kids this holiday season, given their penchant for catching fire and inducing nasty spills.

But they’re apparently also perilous for Catholic priests who get it into their heads it might be a good idea to use one during Christmas Eve Mass — while the congregants are shooting video on their smartphones.

The priest in this case is in the Philippines and has not been named, even though the video has gone viral.

But the Diocese of San Pablo knows who he is and on Tuesday (Dec. 29) announced that the pastor “was wrong” and has been suspended because the Mass “is the church’s highest form of worship. Consequently, it is not a personal celebration where one can capriciously introduce something to get the attention of the people.”

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Sexual abuse case against Powell County pastor sent to grand jury

KENTUCKY
WKYT

CAMPTON, Ky. (WKYT) – A preliminary hearing was held on Tuesday for a Powell County pastor facing two counts of sexual abuse. The hearing was held in Wolfe County since there is not any court in Powell County this week.

After listening to testimony from Powell County Sheriff’s Deputy Robert Matthews the judge did decide there is enough evidence to send the case to the grand jury.

During his testimony, Deputy Matthews explained what led to his arrest of, Steve Williams, the pastor of Bowen First Church of God.

Matthews explained how the 11-year-old alleged victim told investigators her pastor was driving her and her sisters to West Virginia for a white water rafting trip back in August.

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UNPRECEDENTED FURY AT BALLARAT HEARINGS

AUSTRALIA
The Tablet (UK)

29 December 2015 | by Mark Brolly

Every case heard by Australia’s Royal Commission into child sexual abuse is uncovering ineptitude, maladministration, cover-ups and corrupt practices, according to the Church’s Truth, Justice and Healing Council head. Francis Sullivan described unprecedented and “almost palpable anger” at the recent hearing into abuse at Catholic parishes and institutions in the Victorian Goldfields city of Ballarat.

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Bishop Undeserving of Celebratory Burial: SNAP

ILLINOIS
Patch

By SCOTT VIAU (Patch Staff)
December 29, 2015

OLIET, IL — With the burial of deceased Bishop Joseph Imesch Tuesday, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests is deploring the full honors that are being bestowed on him.

Geneva SNAP leader Kate Bochte said in a statement that the honors are an injustice to the sexual abuse victims.

“When we ignore wrongdoing, we encourage wrongdoing. And when Catholic officials, in 2015, keep treating their most disgraced complicit colleagues as heroes or saints, they encourage other church employees to ignore, conceal and enable child sex crimes and cover ups,” Bochte said in a statement.

According to the Joliet Diocese, Imesch’s “tenacity” gained him the respect of fellow bishops.

“He diligently attempted to have a pastoral letter on women approved by the Conference,” the Diocese said in a release on its website. “Though he was unsuccessful, he exemplified perseverance and great courage.”

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What should a bishop’s secretary do who knows the prelate is moving around abusive priests?

UNITED STATES
Crux

December 29, 2015

Q | Dear OMG,

If one were a secretary to a bishop, did all his typing and filing and office work, and knew about sexually abusive priests, moving them around, filed the complaints, etc., would one have the moral obligation to do something or to keep silent to protect the bishop and one’s job?

Wondering in Wichita

A | Dear Wondering,

The answer here is very clear. Any person who has knowledge of a priest (or a teacher or a coach or any other adult) sexually abusing children (or physically abusing them) is bound by morality – and, it turns out, by civil law – to report that person to the authorities. There is no moral argument for protecting the bishop, and only a selfish one for protecting one’s own job.

During his visit to Philadelphia earlier this year, Pope Francis vociferously condemned the perpetrators of the rampant sex abuse crisis and those who abetted the cover-ups, declaring that “I commit myself to the zealous watchfulness of the Church to protect minors, and I promise that all those responsible will be held accountable.”

There are those who claim that sex abuse allegations ought still to be secret, or private, in keeping with canon law – but in 2002, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops enacted the Charter for Protection of Children and Young People, which requires any diocese faced with allegations of sex abuse to report those allegations to the police.

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Settlement pending in Gallup, N.M., bankruptcy

NEW MEXICO
National Catholic Reporter

Elizabeth Hardin-Burrola | Dec. 29, 2015

GALLUP, N.M.

After recently beginning its third year in bankruptcy court, racking up more than $3.2 million in bankruptcy costs and participating in three court-ordered mediations, the Gallup diocese is on the verge of brokering a settlement with clergy sex abuse claimants.

News of that impending settlement was confirmed by James Stang, legal counsel for the Official Committee of Unsecured Creditors, which represents abuse claimants, in brief statements made to U.S. Bankruptcy Judge David Thuma in Albuquerque Dec. 16.

No details of the financial settlement were provided during the hearing, which lasted less than 15 minutes. The nonmonetary terms of the settlement are currently being negotiated, Stang explained. No timetable was given as to when details are expected to be finalized.

Reaching an agreement with the abuse claimants is a major step toward achieving a consensual plan of reorganization for the diocese, which filed its Chapter 11 petition on Nov. 12, 2013. At the time of the filing, the diocese was facing 13 clergy sex abuse lawsuits in Arizona and an additional number of out-of-court abuse claims.

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Jehovah’s Witnesses accused of covering up historic sex abuse

UNITED KINGDOM
Telegraph

A Jehovah’s Witness strangled girls for sexual gratification – but his crimes were “swept under the carpet” for more than two decades

By Agency Reporter 29 Dec 2015

A Jehovah’s Witness who strangled young girls for sexual gratification has finally been jailed after his crimes were covered up by the congregation at his church for more than two decades.

Ian Pheasey, 54, went unpunished for more than 25 years after his activities were “swept under the rug” by the church he attended.

A court heard that Pheasey first attacked a seven-year-old girl while he was working as a volunteer librarian at the Kingdom Hall of Jehovah’s Witnesses, in Warwick, in the 1990s.

Pheasey was eventually caught after another of his victims went to the police after learning Pheasey was working at a hospice. Pheasey was arrested in October 2014 and charged with offences between 1989 and 1994.

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IL–Victims deplore “full honors” funeral for complicit bishop

ILLINOIS
Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests

For immediate release: Tuesday, Dec. 29, 2015

Statement by Kate Bochte, SNAP leader, Geneva IL 630-768-1860, keight@sbcglobal.net

Today, a deceased Joliet Catholic bishop will apparently be buried with “full honors” while dozens of church officials and hundreds of church members look on and quietly tolerate this hurtful injustice.

[Chicago Tribune]

When we ignore wrongdoing, we encourage wrongdoing. And when Catholic officials, in 2015, keep treating their most disgraced complicit colleagues as heroes or saints, they encourage other church employees to ignore, conceal and enable child sex crimes and cover ups.

Several Penn State officials – including the school’s president and popular football coach – were fired or ousted for letting one perpetrator have continued to access children. Imesch did that for about two dozen perpetrators. Yet he remained in office, suffering no penalties whatsoever, and is being honored today with elaborate funeral proceedings.

It’s not just Penn State. All kinds of institutions hold the “top dog” responsible for wrongdoing he or she engaged in or even failed to stop. One institution is the exception: the Catholic church. And this is not changing.

Over decades, Imesch knowingly put hundreds of children at risk of sexual violence by quietly assigning perpetrator priests to parishes, repeatedly showing no concern for the safety of those children or compassion for those who were sexually violated. At best, he treated victims with disdain. At worst, he treated them as enemies.

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Other Pontifical Acts

VATICAN CITY
Vatican Information Service

Vatican City, 29 December 2015 (VIS) – The Holy Father has appointed:

– erected the new diocese of Barisal (area 20,708, population 15,183,927, Catholics 29,685, priests 19, religious 33), Bangladesh, with territory from the diocese of Chittagong, making it a suffragan of the metropolitan see of Dhaka, Bangladesh.

– appointed Bishop Subroto Lawrence Howlader, C.S.C., auxiliary of Chittagong, as first bishop of the diocese of Barisal, Bangladesh.

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Cardinal George Pell accusations do not signify guilt

AUSTRALIA
The Age

December 29, 2015

Graham Downie

Unless and until there is proof of collusion or involvement by Cardinal George Pell, or he admits any guilt, he must be presumed innocent.

With a couple of friends on December 19, I declared I wanted to write in defence of Cardinal George Pell, only to be trumped two days later by Amanda Vanstone writing in Fairfax Media under the same heading.

I do not hold her allegiance to the Catholic Church nor do I find Pell a particularly likeable person. He represents an almost extreme version of his church’s teaching, particularly with the subjugation of women, the treatment of people who have been divorced, and to homosexuals.

Nevertheless, Pell has been effectively accused of colluding with known paedophiles though he has for at least 13 years denied so doing. Allegations made this year to the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse were given wide media coverage in 1993 when former priest Gerald Ridsdale was first charged with the sexual abuse of numerous children.

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Will Investigation of Rev. Thomas Andert Show More Deception?

MINNESOTA
The Legal Examiner

Posted by Mike Bryant
August 27, 2015

I have written a couple of times about statements that have been made by St. John’s Abbot John Klassen. Through out most of the responses has been the ongoing mantra that:

* All the names have been disclosed
* No one accused is still active
* All of the accusations are old

This past week, Rev. Thomas Andert was removed as Prior at St. John’s Abbey. As second in charge behind the Abbot his job was described on the Abbey website as:

Father Prior Tom Andert OSB is entrusted with the general monastic oversight of Saint Raphael Hall. The director is assisted by an advisory committee of the abbey, and several monks, including Abbot John, take turns celebrating Mass in the chapel.

Will the investigation into this removal stand up to the mantra? Only if the Abbey can show there were no prior credible allegations. Keep in mind what was found in the Archdioceses files:

“Normally, common sense would dictate that we withhold information from the public………”

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Philadelphia DA Challenges New Trial for Lynn

PHILADELPHIA (PA)
The Legal Intelligencer

Max Mitchell, The Legal Intelligencer
December 29, 2015

The Philadelphia district attorney has asked for reconsideration of an appellate court’s recent decision to vacate the conviction of Monsignor William J. Lynn, the first Catholic Church administrative official convicted of endangering the welfare of children abused by other priests.

District Attorney R. Seth Williams announced Monday that he filed an application to have a nine-member en banc panel of the Superior Court hear reargument of numerous issues on appeal in the case.

Although Lynn, who had served as secretary for clergy for the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, had been convicted under an earlier version of Pennsylvania’s law criminalizing endangerment of the welfare of children, a split three-judge panel of the Superior Court overturned that conviction Dec. 22. Along with reversing Lynn’s sentence of three to six years’ incarceration, the ruling in Commonwealth v. Lynn remanded Lynn’s case for a new trial.

The majority opinion, written by Judge John T. Bender, had said the trial court had admitted a “high volume of unfairly prejudicial other-acts evidence.”

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DA SEEKS REHEARING OF MONSIGNOR WILLIAM LYNN’S CASE

PHILADELPHIA (PA)
WPVI

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) — Philadelphia’s district attorney wants an appeals court to take another look at the case of a Roman Catholic Church official whose conviction over his handling of sex-abuse cases was overturned last week.

Monsignor William Lynn has been imprisoned intermittently since his 2012 trial. By a vote of 2 to 1, a three-member Superior Court panel overturned his conviction ordering a new trial.

It decided Lynn’s trial judge allowed too much evidence concerning prior bad acts or cover ups protecting abusive priests from a time before Lynn had any actual authority to supervise priests in the 1990s.

The appellant found the sheer volume of those prior bad acts could have unfairly prejudiced jurors against Lynn.

But the DA’s office is now asking the entire Superior Court to hear its arguments, saying the prior bad acts were brought in so jurors could understand the ongoing pattern of how the church dealt with some abusive priests.

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Philly DA seeks rehearing in overturn of Lynn conviction in church sex abuse scandal

PHILADELPHIA (PA)
Newsworks

BY KATIE COLANERI

The attorney for Monsignor William Lynn — the first Roman Catholic Church official in the country to be convicted for mishandling allegations of clergy sex abuse — is hitting “pause” on his plans to seek Lynn’s early release.

The Philadelphia district attorney’s office is asking the state appellate court that last week overturned Lynn’s conviction to reconsider that decision.

At a news conference Monday, District Attorney Seth Williams said his priority is making sure the landmark conviction remains in place.

“If necessary we will … have another trial,” Williams said. “But we hope it doesn’t get to that.

“We’d like to spare the victim from having to come back to court and all of the witnesses from having to testify and be revictimized by having to share such personal stories,” he said.

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Prosecutor moves to keep Monsignor William Lynn jailed

PHILADELPHIA (PA)
CNN

By Tal Trachtman Alroy, CNN
Mon December 28, 2015

(CNN)The Philadelphia District Attorney said Monday his office will use every resource to ensure that Monsignor William Lynn remains in prison for his involvement in a sexual abuse scandal that rocked the Catholic Church in Philadelphia.

Seth Williams, the city’s district attorney, said his office filed a petition asking a state appellate court to reconsider its December 22 decision to overturn Lynn’s conviction. Lynn, once a high-ranking Roman Catholic Church official, was convicted on child endangerment charges in 2012. Lynn is in Waymart prison in northeast Pennsylvania, where he has served 25 months on and off.

A three-judge panel of the Superior Court reversed the verdict, which had marked the first time U.S. prosecutors charged a senior church official for failing to stop priests who committed abuses against children. It was the second time the conviction was overturned by the Superior Court.

Williams is seeking a decision on the appeal by the full Superior Court.

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Grandstanding D.A. Pledges To Keep Monsignor In Jail

PHILADELPHIA (PA)
Big Trial

By Ralph Cipriano
for BigTrial.net

Last week, a panel of three state Superior Court judges overturned the conviction of Msgr. William J. Lynn and ordered a new trial for the Archdiocese of Philadelphia’s former secretary for clergy.

But Lynn isn’t getting out of jail anytime soon. For at least the next month, he’ll continue to work as the prison librarian at SCI-Waymart for 19 cents an hour while lawyers back in Philadelphia continue to do battle over his case.

Standing in the way of Lynn’s release is Philadelphia District Attorney R. Seth Williams. At a press conference today, the D.A. announced he was appealing the decision by the panel of judges to the entire state Superior Court. Williams requested an “en banc” re-argument of the case before all nine judges on the appeals court, rather than just a three-judge panel. If he gets turned down, the district attorney pledged, he’ll appeal to the state Supreme Court, where the D.A. has a winning track record.

The Superior Court reversed Lynn’s conviction in 2013 and Lynn got out of jail. The D.A. appealed. The state Supreme Court promptly reversed the reversal and Lynn was sent back to jail at the D.A.’s request.

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Philadelphia DA trying to keep convicted priest in prison

PHILADELPHIA (PA)
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

December 29, 2015
By Jeremy Roebuck / The Philadelphia Inquirer

PHILADELPHIA — Prosecutors urged a state appellate court on Monday to reconsider its decision to overturn what had been the first conviction nationwide of a Roman Catholic Church official for covering up child sex abuse by priests.

Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams asked the Pennsylvania Superior Court for a chance to reargue the case against Monsignor William J. Lynn in front of a full court panel of the nine judges.

His request came a week after a three-judge panel ordered a new trial for Lynn, perpetuating what has been an up-and-down legal fight for the 64-year-old monsignor three years after his conviction on child endangerment charges.

“We will continue to fight to keep Monsignor Lynn in state custody, where he belongs,” Mr. Williams told reporters. “We have to do all that we can — especially when an institution uses institutional power to protect pedophiles.”

Lynn’s lawyer, Thomas A. Bergstrom, said the move by Mr. Williams’ office was not entirely unexpected.

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Philly DA wants review of Monsignor William Lynn priest abuse case

PHILADELPHIA (PA)
The Morning Call

Errin Haines Whack
Associated Press

PHILADELPHIA — Despite losing on appeal twice, Philadelphia’s district attorney said Monday he will continue to fight to keep a Roman Catholic church official who will soon be eligible for parole in prison over his handling of sex-abuse cases.

District Attorney Seth Williams filed an application for the full nine-member state Superior Court to rehear the case against Monsignor William Lynn. Last week, a three-judge panel of the court overturned Lynn’s conviction in a 2-1 decision and awarded him a new trial.

Lynn, 64, was convicted in 2012 of endangering a policeman’s son who said he was sexually assaulted as a boy by two priests and a teacher — including a previously accused priest who had been transferred to the boy’s parish. Lynn has been imprisoned off and on amid a wild legal journey.

He was the first church official ever charged over his handling of abuse complaints.

“My office will continue to use all its resources to ensure that Monsignor Lynn remains in state custody,” Williams said during a news conference at his office, adding that the Superior Court has not yet addressed all 10 issues raised by Lynn in his appeal.

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Ray Duckler: In God we trust? Priests in New Hampshire made that hard to do

NEW HAMPSHIRE
Concord Monitor

By RAY DUCKLER
Monitor staff
Tuesday, December 29, 2015

David Ouellette, 53, had one correction to make.

Yes, Catholic priests were more than merely respected figures in his community when he was growing up in Rochester. They were placed on a pedestal, revered, almost God-like, right?

“You got most of that right,” Ouellette told me. “The only thing you have wrong is that they weren’t looked at as God-like. In my family, they were God.”

That’s why Ouellette’s parents believed their son was safe during those overnights at the church rectory, alone with a priest named Father Joseph Maguire.

Maguire died in prison 10 years ago, convicted of raping three altar boys in Dover through the 1970s. A few years later, he began molesting Ouellette, 15 at the time.

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William F. McMurry on Spotlight and ties to Louisville

UNITED STATES
The Courier-Journal

William F. McMurry December 29, 2015

Aptly named Spotlight, the recently released film focuses on the Boston Globe’s investigation of the decade’s old conspiracy to protect pedophile priests perpetrated by the leaders of the Catholic Church. Those of us who watched a similar story unfold here in Louisville will find the events depicted in this riveting film, all too familiar.

Spotlight takes its name from the newspaper’s elite group of investigative reporters whose apparent autonomy allowed them to pick and choose where the Globe would focus its investigative resources. Enter the Globe’s newly hired editor in chief, Martin Baron. In the film, Baron takes his lead from a Globe op-ed piece written by Eileen McNamara that questioned the large number of sexual abuse lawsuits, all against a single priest.

As the film progresses it becomes increasingly clear that it is Baron’s leadership that motivates what would become a historical investigation, an investigation that would lead to the revelation that the Boston Archdiocese knowingly and willfully shuffled abusive priests from parish to parish within the Boston Archdiocese without warning the parishioners of the imminent threat to their children.

The film also “spotlights” Mitchell Garabedian, an eccentric attorney, who in July 2001 represented 80 adults against the Boston Archdiocese, each claiming he or she was sexually abused as a child. There are problems with Garabedian’s lawsuits, as the legal time for filing them may have expired, resulting in little to be gained for the victims.

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December 28, 2015

Prosecutors want to use former pastor’s letter admitting to sex abuse in court

KENTUCKY
WLKY

[with video]

LOUISVILLE, Ky. —Prosecutors said a Louisville pastor once wrote a letter admitting to sexually abusing children, and now they want to use that letter in court.

Allen Lehmann faces charges of sodomy and sexual abuse. The alleged incidents took place between 1993 and 2000.

The 76-year-old Lehmann was a substitute teacher in Valparaiso, Indiana, when the charges were filed last year. He was also a minister at an Assembly of God Church in Louisville.

Lehman’s defense attorney said the letter doesn’t involve the cases in which he is charged, and that it can’t be used as evidence against him.

Prosecutors said it shows how Lehman preyed on children.

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Former Joliet Diocese bishop remembered

ILLINOIS
Daily Southtown

Nick Swedberg
Daily Southtown

Family members of Joseph Imesch, the longtime bishop of the Joliet Diocese who died last week, remembered him Monday for his warm personality and tireless efforts to help those in need.

Visitation was held from 1 to 8 p.m. Monday at the Cathedral of St. Raymond Nonnatus in Joliet. Imesch died Dec. 22 at the age of 84.

A funeral Mass will be held at 11 a.m. Tuesday at the cathedral, 604 N. Raynor Ave.

Imesch, known for his support of women and gay rights in the church, spent 27 years as the third bishop with the Joliet Diocese before retiring in 2006.

But his tenure was embroiled in controversy toward its end because of his actions to downplay the Catholic Church’s scandal involving sexually abusive priests. Imesch faced allegations that he failed to report to police the sexual abuse of children by priests and transferred abusive priests to new parishes rather than removing them from ministry after they received mental health care.

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More moves to reform CA sex crime laws

CALIFORNIA
The Worthy Adversary

Posted by Joelle Casteix on December 28, 2015

On the heels of proposed federal legislation and a CA ballot initiative to eliminate statutes of limitations for sex crimes, California State Sen. Connie M. Leyva (D-Chino) is “seeking to introduce a bill in January that would eliminate the statute of limitations for rape and other related crimes.”

According to the Vallejo Times-Herald:

In an interview, Leyva cited U.S. Department of Justice numbers on rape convictions, calling the statistics “shocking.” “Only two in 100 rapists would actually be convicted and do any kind of time in prison,” Leyva said, when reached by phone.

“That was shocking to me. I also don’t feel like the numbers are getting any better.”

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Prosecutor Seeks Rehearing in Catholic Church Abuse Case

PHILADELPHIA (PA)
ABC News

By ERRIN HAINES WHACK, ASSOCIATED PRESS WRITER
PHILADELPHIA — Dec 28, 2015

Despite losing on appeal twice, Philadelphia’s district attorney said Monday he will continue to fight to keep a Roman Catholic church official who will soon be eligible for parole in prison over his handling of sex-abuse cases.

District Attorney Seth Williams filed an application for the full nine-member state Superior Court to rehear the case against Monsignor William Lynn. Last week, a three-judge panel of the court overturned Lynn’s conviction in a 2-1 decision and awarded him a new trial.

Lynn, 64, was convicted in 2012 of endangering a policeman’s son who said he was sexually assaulted as a boy by two priests and a teacher — including a previously accused priest who had been transferred to the boy’s parish. Lynn has been imprisoned off and on amid a wild legal journey.

He was the first church official ever charged over his handling of abuse complaints.

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Spotlight: Showcasing the power of journalism

UNITED STATES
The Nation

December 29, 2015

In 2003, the Globe Spotlight team, an investigative unit of Boston Globe won the journalism’s most distinguished prize – the Pulitzer Prize for its fearless and wide-ranging coverage of child abuse and molestation by Catholic priests and the systemic cover-up by Church. The series of investigative reporting of horrific crime penetrated clandestineness and silence behind the criminality, stimulated regional and global reaction and created an atmosphere for massive changes within the Church by telling the truth.

The seasoned director, writer and actor Tom McCarthy’s new directorial work Spotlight follows the true story of Boston Globe’s investigative journalistic team’s audacious reportage of gigantic sexual scandal, shielded by Catholic Church during a three–decade spree. The powerful journalistic docudrama concentrates on the approach of who done it, exposing the huge scale machination, probing the elements of power and sovereignty, exploitation and secrecy. Not only that, it also explores psychology of victimhood – the emotional trauma and desolation victims had to endure throughout their life.

It all begins in 2001 when new editor-in-chief Marty Baron, played by Liev Schreiber, recruits the Spotlight crew to look into allegations of child abuse by one local pedophile priest. The Spotlight squad – Michael Rezendes (Mark Ruffalo), Sacha Pfeiffer (Rachel McAdams) and Matt Carroll (Brian d’Arcy James) led by editor Walter Robinson (Michael Keaton) – started probing the issue deeply, soon it becomes evident that disturbing scandal and settlements are actually happening within Catholic Church.

As their investigation progresses from one to few and finally to dozens of egregious cases of molestation and immorality, the courageous reporters struggled to follow the root-cause of out of court settlements, involvement of lawyers and massive corruption plague in the system, as editor Robinson declares:

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PA–Victims applaud DA’s decision to appeal priest abuse case

PHILADELPHIA (PA)
Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests

For immediate release: Monday, Dec. 28, 2015

Statement by Karen Polesir of Amber, SNAP Philly director (267-992-9463, karenpolesir@yahoo.com)

We’re grateful that Philly prosecutors continue defending the conviction of a high ranking Catholic official who helped conceal clergy sex crimes. We hope Seth Williams prevails in his latest move to hold Msgr. William Lynn responsible for his devious and hurtful cover ups.

[Philly.com]

The potential deterrence effect of this case – encouraging whistleblowing and discouraging cover ups in child sex cases – cannot be overstated. Nor can the case’s healing impact – on the thousands of victims of the 136 publicly accused Philly predator priests and the dozens of other predators whose identities remain hidden – be overstated.

It’s tragic that of the hundreds of current and former Philly Catholic officials who ignored or hid known and suspected child sex crimes, only one can apparently be prosecuted for this heinous wrongdoing. But we are grateful that Philly’s DA persists in his effort to hold that one cleric accountable. We wish prosecutors in other jurisdictions would show similar diligence.

A judge claims that evidence of widespread corruption by archdiocesan staff in child sex cases is prejudicial to Msgr. Lynn. Our view is that when an institution is riddled with deception, callousness and recklessness, such evidence is crucial and is the only way to expose and prevent more corruption.

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D.A. Williams wants Monsignor Lynn decision reargued

PHILADELPHIA (PA)
PhillyVoice

BY JOHN KOPP
PhillyVoice Staff

District Attorney Seth Williams is filing paperwork to reargue the case against Monsignor William Lynn, a convicted Catholic priest who was awarded a new trial last week by a Pennsylvania appeals court.

Williams is expected to formally announce Monday his response to the Pennsylvania Superior Court’s decision, which has ruled Lynn did not receive a fair trial when he was convicted of mishandling reports of child sex crimes. The court ruled the trial judge allowed jurors to hear too much evidence about the wrongdoing of priests who had abused children.

Lynn once oversaw the work of 800 priests in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia as secretary of the clergy. He was sentenced in 2012 to three to six years in prison for failing to supervise a priest accused of sexual misconduct who later sexually assaulted a 10-year-old boy.

At the time of his conviction, Lynn was the highest-ranking Catholic priest to face charges for covering up abuse by priests. His trial refocused attention on a sex abuse scandal that roiled the faithful across the United States and undermined the church’s moral authority around the world.

Victims groups decried the court’s decision, saying Lynn was a key part of a Catholic hierarchy that put the careers of priests above the safety of children.

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Finding grace in living and dying

UNITED STATES
The Worthy Adversary

Posted by Joelle Casteix on December 28, 2015

Felicia Friesema is teaching me to live.

Felicia is the wife of my friend Steve Julian.

Steve and I met a number of years ago—when his former high school principal was exposed as a predator priest. Although Steve was not a victim, the priest and Steve had tangled over an editorial then-student Steve had written for the Damien High School (LaVerne, CA) student paper.

Finding out the priest was a predator only confirmed Steve’s less-than-amicable feelings for the guy. The story of the priest was the inspiration for Steve’s play ALTARCATIONS/What Kind of God?

I loved having lunch with Steve. We’d talk about the play (a little) and then we’d talk about life. Stuff. Each other.

Because we weren’t in each other’s social circles, we had a bit of freedom to bounce problems off each other. We could talk about our fears (his was health, ironically) with candor—without causing the other to worry.

He taught me to be patient. To embrace silence in a conversation. I love his friendship and I love him. And when Steve talked about Felicia, he glowed.

This year was going to be their second Christmas as a married couple. Steve told me how he envisioned a long and happy life together (and his continual Facebook updates were testament to that).

But things have changed.

Very recently, Steve was diagnosed with a stage four Glioblastoma Multiforme. It’s a tumor in his brain that is robbing him of his memory, his motor skills, and his words. (For those of you who know Steve as the morning host of KPCC’s Morning Edition, you know how tragic this is).

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Barry Freundel’s former DC synagogue trying to move past mikvah trauma

WASHINGTON (DC)
JTA

By Uriel Heilman
December 28, 2015

WASHINGTON (JTA) – Though it’s been more than a year since Rabbi Barry Freundel was hauled away in handcuffs for installing secret cameras at his synagogue’s mikvah, his crime still casts a shadow over his longtime Orthodox congregation, Kesher Israel.

Three civil lawsuits are pending against Kesher by women who presumably used the ritual bath adjacent to his Washington synagogue and were filmed by the rabbi while undressing (the women are identified as Jane Does in the lawsuits). The congregation, which is struggling financially, has yet to begin a search for Freundel’s permanent replacement. And many congregants are still grappling with a range of complicated feelings related to the betrayal by their rabbinic leader.

“It’s like the person you put on a pedestal urinated on you,” said one longtime congregant who asked not to be named. “I don’t think the effects are done. These effects go through the generations.”

Despite Kesher’s challenges, many community members and leaders say the congregation turned a corner with Freundel’s sentencing in May to 6 1/2 years in prison – 45 days for each of the 52 voyeurism counts.

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DA asks appeals court to reconsider Lynn case in priesthood scandal

PHILADELPHIA (PA)
Philly.com

by Jeremy Roebuck, STAFF WRITER.

Philadelphia prosecutors urged a state appellate court on Monday to reconsider its decision to overturn the first conviction nationwide of a Roman Catholic Church official for covering up child sex abuse by priests.

District Attorney Seth Williams asked the Pennsylvania Superior Court for a chance to reargue the case against Msgr. William J. Lynn in front of a full panel of the 14-member court. His request came a week after a three-judge Superior Court panel ordered a new trial for Lynn, 64, three years after his conviction in a landmark 13-week trial.

Williams, who has scheduled a news conference to discuss his filing Monday afternoon, could not immediately be reached for comment.

Lynn’s lawyer, Thomas A. Bergstrom, said the move by Williams’ office was not entirely unexpected.

“This is like a never-ending saga, which will probably never end,” he said. “Hopefully the Superior Court’s opinion will stand.”

In tossing Lynn’s conviction last week, the Superior Court took issue with evidence prosecutors introduced at the monsignor’s 2012 trial in an attempt to prove that the Philadelphia Archdiocese had historically mishandled child abuse complaints involving area priests.

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Officials: Albany priest’s court appearance waived up to County Court

NEW YORK
News 10

By Ali Stewart
Published: December 28, 2015

Officials say 35-year-old Adam Egan’s court appearance was waived up to Albany County Court and there has been no future court date set. He posted bail on Christmas eve for $10,000.

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Other Pontifical Acts

VATICAN CITY
Vatican Information Service

Vatican City, 28 December 2015 (VIS) – Today, the Holy Father appointed Msgr. Brian McGee as Bishop of Argyll and the Isles (area 31,080, population 77,400, Catholics 10,179, priests 25, permanent deacons 1, religious 32), Scotland. Bishop-elect McGee was born in Greenock, in the Diocese of Paisley, in 1965 and was ordained a priest of the clergy of Paisely in 1989. He has served as a pastor as well as the Scots College’s spiritual director. He was diocesan director of the RCIA program as well as Episcopal Vicar for marriage and the family. Since 2014 he has served as Paisley’s vicar general.

On Thursday, 24 December, the Holy Father appointed Msgr. Wojciech Tomasz Osial as auxiliary bishop of Lowicz (area 5,806, population 609,479, Catholics 607,825, priests 166, religious 390), Poland. Bishop-elect Osial was born in Lowicz in 1970 and was ordained a priest in 1995. He holds a doctorate in catechetics from Rome’s Pontifical Salesian University and has been serving as Lowicz’s diocesan director for catechism and curial notary. He is also a professor in the seminaries of Lowicz and Oltarzew as well as the Cardinal Stefan Wyszynski University in Warsaw. He has been a canon of the cathedral chapter since 2014.

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Why we don’t trust church investigations

MINNESOTA
Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests

He’s accused of molesting a teen, impregnating an adult parishioner twice, suggested an abortion, fathering a child and ignoring that child.

Catholic officials say they’re investigating all of this alleged wrongdoing by Fr. Henry Willenborg.

Here’s the rub: they’ve been doing so since 2009.

As best we can tell, there’s been no conclusion or announcement or even an update.

Nothing.

It’s been almost seven years.

No one knows where Fr. Willenborg is now (except, of course, his church supervisors and colleagues). No one knows whether church officials have deemed him innocent or guilty of these serious charges. No one knows if church officials have

Recently, Fr. William C. Graham of the Duluth diocese questioned why our SNAP leader there, Verne Wagner, is so skeptical about so-called church abuse “investigations.”

[Duluth News Tribune]

The Willenborg case is Exhibit A for our skepticism.

It bears noting that even if the St. Louis-based Franciscan province, which pays and supervises Fr. Willenborg directly, refuses to act responsibly, there’s nothing to prevent bishops who have let Fr. Willenborg work in their dioceses launch investigations. He’s spent time in Superior Wisconsin and Springfield Illinois. Wouldn’t it be encouraging to hear that Superior Bishop-elect James Powers or Springfield Bishop Thomas Paprocki say “The Franciscans are acting recklessly. Since they’re evidently not investigating, or doing so secretively, I’m starting my own investigation.”

And let us take this opportunity to again praise Pat Bond. She’s one of the adults who was sexually exploited by Fr. Willenborg. He was the biological father to Nathan, Pat’s dear son who tragically passed away in 2009, at the age of 22, from a brain tumor, after a life of being ignored and rebuffed by his callous and irresponsible dad and his dad’s callous and irresponsible Catholic colleagues and supervisors. Thankfully, Nate got tons of love from his brave, kind and steadfast mom and sisters.

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Officials: Albany priest in court for secretly videotaping woman in dressing room

NEW YORK
News 10

[with video]

By Ali Stewart
Published: December 28, 2015

LATHAM, N.Y. (NEWS10) – A local priest accused of recording a woman inside a fitting room at the Latham Salvation Army will be in court Monday.

35-year-old Adam Egan was charged last week with unlawful surveillance and tampering with evidence. Police tell us he deleted the video after the woman caught him in the act.

Egan is the priest at Saint Stephens Episcopal Church in Delmar.

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Pope appoints priest from socially deprived parish as Scotland’s newest bishop

SCOTLAND
Evening Times

Gerry Braiden, Local Government Correspondent

POPE Francis has appointed a 50-year-old parish priest from one of Scotland’s most socially deprived areas as the latest Catholic bishop in Scotland.

Monsignor Brian McGee becomes the new Bishop of the Diocese of Argyll and the Isles which has been vacant for over 18 months.

He is the latest appointment to the Catholic hierarchy born in the 1960s and marks a generational change within the Bishops’ Conference of Scotland, its main decision-making body in the country.

One senior church figure said the Bishops’ Confeence would “benefit from his fresh perspective and thoughtful discernment”.

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PORT Glasgow Priest Appointed Bishop

SCOTLAND
InverClyde Now

Monday, 28 December 2015

THE Parish Priest of Holy Family Parish, Port Glasgow has been appointed as the new Bishop of the Diocese of Argyll and the Isles.

The diocese has been vacant since April 2014 when Bishop Joseph Toal became the Bishop of Motherwell.

Bishop-Elect McGee, who grew up in Greenock, said: “It was very humbling, and indeed frightening, to be informed by the Papal Nuncio that Pope Francis had nominated me to be the new bishop of the Diocese of Argyll and the Isles. However, after reflection and prayer I now face this mission with quiet but definite confidence. Yes, I remain aware of my limitations but I am even more aware of the power of God’s grace which, with our co-operation, overcomes our shortcomings. Experience has taught me that positively answering God’s invitations is always to our own advantage.”

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Feminist campaigner claims child abuse is rampant in strictly Orthodox community

UNITED KINGDOM
The JC

By Rosa Doherty, December 27, 2015

The Jewish community is experiencing a “rampant epidemic” of rabbis who sexually abuse, according to an American educator and activist.

Elana Sztokman said public cases such as the conviction of Todros Grynhaus, who was jailed for 13 years for abusing two teenage girls, were the tip of the iceberg.

“We have a epidemic of abuse and it is rampant in the Jewish community,” she said.

“A disproportionate number of abusers seem to be rabbis or quasi rabbis.”

Speaking at a session at the Limmud conference in Birmingham, Ms Sztokman, who writes on the subject of Orthodox Jewish feminism, highlighted reasons why abusers were often able to escape punishment.

Ms Sztokman, a former executive director of the Jewish Orthodox Feminist Alliance, said victims who reported abuse were made to feel like outcasts.

She said: “We have seen it time and time again a victim comes forward and the community shuns them.

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Cleared of abuse allegations, Waterbury priest focuses on healing process

CONNECTICUT
Republican-American

BY PAUL SINGLEY REPUBLICAN-AMERICAN

WATERBURY The Rev. Jeremiah Murasso of Blessed Sacrament Church and the Shrine of St. Anne has recently endured the most trying time of his life.

This spring, Murasso’s sterling reputation within the Roman Catholic church, where he has served as an ordained priest for more than 37 years, was nearly sullied by what church investigators now say are baseless accusations that he sexually abused a minor more than 20 years ago.

For the past six months, Murasso has spent his days in relative exile, at a secluded house far away from hundreds of his parishioners and friends who prayed for him, wrote letters to the archdiocese and refused to believe he was capable of committing such a horrendous crime.

Last week, their prayers were answered, and Murasso’s good name was officially restored — after an extensive investigation, the Archdiocese of Hartford concluded the allegations could not be substantiated. Murasso, 63, who had been on administrative leave since June, was told he could once again lead the two parishes on the city’s west side.

“This is a victory,” he said. “Not so much for me, but for the parishes and for all of the parishes I have served at.”

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Alaska can learn from new movie ‘Spotlight’ how to bring abuse out of the shadows

ALASKA
Alaska Dispatch News

Commentary

Trevor Storrs
December 27, 2015

The new Star Wars movie has grabbed everyone’s attention. However, there is another must-see movie – “Spotlight.” This new movie, directed by Thomas McCarthy, stars Michael Keaton, Mark Ruffalo and Rachel McAdams as the real-life Spotlight investigative journalist team for The Boston Globe. In 2001, they uncovered a pattern of sex abuse by Catholic priests in Boston and how the Catholic Church covered it up. While the church lays at the center of the scandal, the movie lays clear that the blame falls on all the members of the community who saw the signs and refused to acknowledge them.

We won’t learn any specific strategies or solutions to prevent child abuse from this film, but it does teach one very important lesson about stopping it from happening: refusing to let it exist in the dark.

“If it takes a village to raise a child,” says a lawyer played by Stanley Tucci, “it takes a village to abuse one.”

Preventing child abuse is not the responsibility of children but the adults around them. When “we” as members of the community, as leaders, as parents, are willing and persistent about having real conversations about child abuse and neglect in our community, we can prevent those systems of silence from ever existing.

In “Spotlight,” those who could have stopped this abuse but never spoke up were journalists, school administrators, lawyers, upstanding members of the community. There were complex reasons why these people refused to speak up about child abuse; It could endanger people’s jobs, some people did not believe the church could be guilty of that, some people were frightened, and some people just had trouble talking about such a difficult topic.

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St George’s, One of the Richest Prep Schools, Faces Tens of Millions in Lawsuits for Sexual Abuse

RHODE ISLAND
GoLocalProv

Monday, December 28, 2015
GoLocalProv News Team

St. George’s, the exclusive prep school in Middletown, Rhode Island which reports assets of over $200 million, has admitted that after decades of denial that at least 23 students were molested by multiple faculty and staff.

St. George’s, which sits high above Second Beach and claims one of the most picturesque campuses in the world, has a long list of high profile alumni including John Nicholas Brown, actress Julie Bowen, Bill Bush, Tucker Carlson, many of the Astors, Senator Claiborne Pell and poet Ogden Nash.

On December 23, in the midst of the holiday week, the school released a letter to alumni including a report that admitted widespread sexual abuse. The report prepared by the law firm Schwartz Hannum admits that at least six staffers were involved in sexual abuse, but only named one of the former employees — Al Gibbs.

Report Released

The lead attorney on the review William E. Hannum III, Managing Partner of the firm, is a graduate of the prep school Deerfield Academy which also had a high profile sexual abuse case. Many alumni question Hannum’s independence and therefore the value of the report.

Gibbs was an athletic trainer at St. George’s from 1973 to February 1980, when he was dismissed after a male student discovered Gibbs photographing a nude female student in the athletic training room. Gibbs passed away in 1996.

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Ray Duckler: After months of digging, investigators uncover church abuse, then turn up the heat

NEW HAMPSHIRE
Concord Monitor

By RAY DUCKLER
Monitor staff
Monday, December 28, 2015

When Will Delker and Jim Rosenberg of the attorney general’s office began sifting through pages from what they called the Secret Archives – two filing cabinet drawers filled with evidence of sexual abuse and cover-ups within the state’s Catholic church – they knew what they had to.

They had to find victims named in the documents and persuade them to come forward. Many had not uttered a word about their ordeal for decades, not to a sibling, a spouse, anyone.

The pattern mirrored the stories that emerged from Boston after the Boston Globe’s Spotlight team uncovered a scandal that later would sweep the nation. Priests had been molesting children and then receiving transfers rather than punishment, allowing the behavior to continue for years. Even after the abuse stopped, the trauma for the victims continued into adulthood.

“I grew up in this community, and I knew the meaningful and significant role the church played here, through school and elsewhere,” Rosenberg said in an interview. “But we were beginning to deal with victims who’d been terribly harmed and whose lives had been shaped or reshaped by sexual abuse at the hands of priests and compounded by the fact that the diocese didn’t react in real time at all. It was a very difficult and emotional balancing act for us.”

The lengthy, arduous investigation began in the summer of 2002, after Delker and Rosenberg had gone through the Secret Archives outside the office of Bishop John McCormack.

McCormack had transferred from the Boston Archdiocese to the Diocese of Manchester four years earlier, in 1998. His power as Boston’s auxiliary bishop made New Hampshire officials suspicious that he might have known about sexual abuse here and not said anything, as he had done earlier in his career.

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Movies of the Year: A Bracing Dose of Reality

UNITED STATES
The American Prospect

ROBERT KUTTNER DECEMBER 28, 2015

This year’s most powerful movies all draw on actual events and tackle big public issues and ethical dilemmas.

The most powerful movies of the year were based on actual events. All combined big public issues with private ethical dilemmas, and provided vehicles for terrific thrillers as well. The fact that we knew the outcome in advance did nothing to detract—the suspense was in how the protagonists found their way to the conclusion. Even better, these movies offered career-topping performances for several of the leads.

Start with the amazing “Spotlight.” In January 2002, Boston Globe readers picked up their newspapers to learn that a Catholic priest had engaged in serial episodes of sexual child abuse. But this was just the beginning. The four-person team reporting the story had discovered that close to 200 Boston area priests had been serial abusers, that the Church hierarchy—right to up the unctuous Cardinal Bernard Law—knew all about the pattern and had orchestrated a cover-up. Catholic leaders had even arranged to have the church’s lawyers pay small settlements to victims in exchange for legally enforceable vows of silence.

Offending priests were shuttled from parish to parish, to assault new victims, occasionally making pit stops to be stashed in special halfway houses. By the time it was over, Law had resigned and had been packed off to Rome, more than 1,200 victims had come forward, and the predatory priest cover-up had unraveled in scores of cities in the US and worldwide—all because newspaper reporters spent months doing serious digging, tracking down humiliated victims, scouring court documents, and unearthing church records.

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December 27, 2015

IT TAKES A VILLAGE

UNITED STATES
Eve Marko

DECEMBER 27, 2015 ~ EVE MARKO

Bernie and I went to the movies and saw “Spotlight” yesterday. It’s a terrific film about the group of Boston Globe journalists who reported on the extensive abuse of minors by many Catholic priests in Boston. I can’t recommend this movie highly enough.

I particularly appreciated that it didn’t portray the journalists as pure, white-horse knights going out to seek the truth and slay deniers and perpetrators. It showed, in fact, that they had received several tips in prior years about what was going on, and they’d shut their eyes to it, like many others, or didn’t bother to put the dots together and present the fill story till much later, after many more children had been abused.

I thought of the abuse I’ve seen in dharma centers. It’s easy to say that it was nothing like the horrific scale of what went on in various Catholic dioceses across the world. It’s easy to point out that, at least in the West, children are almost never involved if only because most of our dharma centers don’t have family programs. But we’ve certainly had our share of abuse by teachers of students.

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Living a myth…

UNITED STATES
Questions from a Ewe

I vividly remember “the talk” with my mom. You know, “the talk…” My older sister, tired of defending my unwavering belief in Santa, bullied me into asking the big question, “Is Santa real?” My mom’s gentle explanation combined with my fervent desire to believe initially produced the opposite effect my sister intended. Words are weak instruments to describe her reaction when I returned from that little chat triumphantly proclaiming, “I knew it! Santa is real!” However, I do remember her reaction did include grabbing my hand and dragging me back to our mom protesting, “Mom! What did you tell her?! She still believes!”

My mom had taken me to a mirror and said, “Yes, Santa is real but he is not a fat, jolly guy in a red suit. He can look just like the girl in the mirror when she gives a gift at the giving tree.” I so much wanted to believe in the entirety of the Santa myth that I filtered out all words except “Santa is real.” I’m happy to report that we did achieve mutual clarity within the span of about 15 minutes. I was 8 years old and it was time to live with a different understanding of the myth. My sister felt for her and my own physical and mental well-being, it was well past time but that’s a debate for another day.

I find myself reflecting upon that fervent desire to believe in a myth after watching the movie “Spotlight.” This movie chronicles the Boston Globe’s investigative journalism that led to its January 6, 2002 bombshell story about the Catholic Church knowingly leaving numerous pedophile priests in active ministry for decades. Though individual sex abuse stories had been published throughout previous decades, this story altered the conversation because it demonstrated that a sick, systemic culture involving hierarchy and laypeople enabled and helped perpetuate widespread abuse. It revealed a culture pretending each abuse case was simply an individual, isolated, “whoopsie there” incident so as to perpetuate the myth of a perfect church. People turned their heads for a myriad of reasons all stemming from scandal avoidance desires: “priests are good guys”, “just doing my job”, “the church does such good work in other places”, “my fellow parishioners bully whistle-blowers”, “Cardinal/bishop so-and-so says it is the best thing for the church”, etc…

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James Hamilton: “Resistir y llegar al final del camino es gratificante”

CHILE
La Tercera

The civil lawsuit against the Archdiocese marked the latest milestone for James Hamilton. He has sued the Catholic Church for $ 450 million. He alleges the church covered-up the crimes of his alleged abuser, priest Fernando Karadima.]

Francisca Miranda
27 de diciembre del 2015

Este es un proceso que tiene que ver con el perdón. Ha habido dos eventos marcadores en ese sentido para mí. El primero es haber tenido el coraje de ir a decirle a Karadima, en su parroquia, antes de que todo esto se hubiera destapado, que lo perdonaba. Con eso me liberé de él.

El otro hito ocurrió este año.

Fuimos a la casa del cardenal Errázuriz a verlo declarar ante la justicia. Y al verle la cara, verlo cuestionado por el poder del juez y del proceso, verlo cómo se achicaba como persona, verlo tener que recurrir a la mentira, al olvido como defensa y que no pudiera recurrir a la verdad, de alguna manera me reparó. Uno tiene una tendencia a darle más fuerza o fortaleza a tu oponente en estas circunstancias: por la investidura, por todo el apoyo que tiene de la Iglesia, todo. Entonces, uno obviamente se sobrecoge, se asusta un poco. Yo creo que los valientes no son los que no tienen miedo. Los que no tienen miedo y se tiran de cabeza a alguna locura es porque están psicóticos. Yo creo que la gente que logra cierta valentía o fortaleza es porque en verdad están aterrados y logran superar ese miedo.

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The Top 10 stories of a busy pope from 2015

ROME
Crux

By John L. Allen Jr.
Associate editor December 26, 2015

ROME — Pope Francis is the dictionary definition of an activist pontiff, constantly saying and doing things that stir hearts, raise eyebrows, and generally capture public interest.

He’s so dynamic, in fact, that often there’s no time to absorb one bombshell before another goes off. Here’s a rundown of the 10 biggest papal headlines of 2015, all of which seemed hard to top at the time, and all of which now risk being overwhelmed by whatever happens in 2016.

10. Latin America
A July 5-13 outing to Ecuador, Bolivia, and Paraguay amounted to a triumphant homecoming for history’s first Latin American pope. One high point came with a fiery July 10 speech to popular movements in Bolivia, in which Francis denounced a “new colonialism” and called for the poor to have the “sacred rights” of labor, housing, and land.

9. Romero
Although Francis wasn’t on hand for the May 23 beatification of El Salvador’s slain Archbishop Oscar Romero, it wouldn’t have happened without him. It not only marked a sort of reconciliation with liberation theology, but also gave contemporary Christian martyrs a new patron.

8. Vatileaks 2.0
In November, two books on Vatican financial scandals appeared based on leaked documents from a papal commission. The Vatican indicted three former insiders for those leaks, as well as the two journalists who published the books, under its criminal law. With no end in sight, the Vatileaks trial has raised questions about freedom of expression, the future of confidentiality in the Vatican, and the direction of the pope’s financial reform.

7. Mixed verdict on sex abuse
Francis appeared to take an important step toward accountability in April when he accepted the resignation of Bishop Robert Finn of Kansas City-St. Joseph, the lone American prelate convicted of failure to report. Yet he also appointed a bishop in Chile seen as having protected that country’s most notorious abuser priest, and later lashed out at critics of the choice as “leftists” propagating “foolishness.” To date, most reformers give the pontiff a mixed verdict.

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Christine Flowers: Unjustly convicted, priest has a new shot at justice

PENNSYLVANIA
Daily Times

By Christine Flowers, Delaware County Daily Times
POSTED: 12/26/15

If “A” hurts me, I am his victim and have the right to sue him in a court of law for damages. If what “A” did also amounts to a criminal act, he can be prosecuted and, if found guilty, sentenced to a long prison term.

But this only works if there is a legitimate nexus between what “A” did and the harm I presumably suffered. Even if “A” violated some other legal obligation for which he could be held responsible, I can’t attempt to make him pay for a crime he didn’t commit, the one that caused me pain.

That’s the case even if my injuries are real and easily proven. Because the American criminal justice system doesn’t believe in making one person pay for the crimes of another, no matter how satisfying that would be for the people who were unjustly wronged. We don’t “prosecute by proxy.”

Well, we usually don’t. But when it comes to the Catholic Church, the rules are completely suspended. In the wake of the verifiably horrific allegations of sexual abuse by priests and the equally horrific cover ups by the hierarchy, prosecutors have decided that the public is willing to overlook legal niceties like due process and transparency and want anyone even tangentially connected to the abuse to be punished.

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Marc Gafni Abuses Again — and We Share Responsibility

UNITED STATES
ZEEK

By Dina Levada
September 21, 2011

It has happened again.

Marc Gafni, nee Marc Winiarz, nee Mordechai Gafni, the thrice-divorced rabbi who has been, at times, a hero of Modern Orthodoxy, Jewish Renewal, and the Israeli spiritual renaissance, has again been caught having sexual relations with members of his latest spiritual community. Here are some links to what has happened: Integral Options Café, The Jewish Week.

I was not one of the women Gafni had clandestine affairs with during his time he was a Renewal rabbi, though I was certainly aware (and sometimes the object) of his sexual assertiveness and charisma during the time I knew him, from 2004 through 2006. I am remaining anonymous now because I am afraid of Gafni’s reprisals and am terrified of even receiving an email from him wanting to “talk” or “clear the air,” like the ones he has been known to send his victims. But I am raising my voice to my fellow Jews that we have been silent about this man for too long, and now our silence has led to yet more abuse. In this season of repentance, we should be ashamed of ourselves, and resolve to do better.

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Rabbi Marc Gafni Exposed

UNITED STATES
Failed Messiah

The New York Times has a exposé of Rabbi Marc Gafni, who has been accused of child sex abuse and of having affairs with multiple women at the same time, all often his students.

Here’s a brief excerpt from the New York Times Marc Gafni exposé (that should make you want to stop shopping at Whole foods or reading the Huffington Post):

…A co-founder of Whole Foods, John Mackey, a proponent of conscious capitalism, calls Mr. Gafni “a bold visionary.” He is a chairman of the executive board of Mr. Gafni’s center, and he hosts board meetings at his Texas ranch. The Whole Foods website shows a seven-part video series of conversations between the two men.

The new media pioneer Arianna Huffington spoke, via teleconference, at Mr. Gafni’s invitation-only conference last year. The author John Gray has asked Mr. Gafni to help write a sequel to “Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus.”…

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NOT JUST A MAN WITH A “TROUBLED PAST”… A SEXUAL PREDATOR

UNITED STATES
The Ass of Death

It is truly hard to believe that every few years or so I am contacted by someone to retell my story of sexual abuse at the hands of a Rabbi, yes a Rabbi. This time, just days ago, it came from an author for the New York Times. It’s as if the powers that be feel the need to remind me in some way that this is part of who I am and is neither over, nor a closed chapter in my life. I have never correlated my eating with this event in my life, but I can honestly say that since this has reared its ugly head again sugar has been really really hard to avoid. So in addition to being off my feet for quite a while and unable to wear normal shoes for 4-6 weeks (BTW surgery on feet went well), I have to fight my sugar addiction and cravings while sitting around with little better to do than eat. Check out the lovely new fashion statement –

I just need to stop bringing the stuff into the house and not let anyone else bring me my trigger foods. I know this is going to be a struggle, but I know somehow I will PERSEVERE.

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THE TIME FOR CHANGE IS NOW

UNITED STATES
The Ass of Death

I mentioned that I would not be writing anything regarding my abuse on this blog until the article was published in the New York Times. For three reasons I have changed this decision: 1) It has come to my attention that the article when handed to the editor was so long it would take another week or so before it goes to press. I know that should not make a difference in my world, but somehow it does. I have been trying to prepare myself for life, as I know it to possibly change after this weekend. I have been anxious to say the least. 2) I decided to write this now, because many readers have brought to my attention that not only does this blog help other survivors gain the courage to speak, but also it can, and should be a catalyst for change across all aspects of this sickening problem of sexual abuse. 3) Finally with the premier of the movie SPOTLIGHT I felt the timing important, as the awareness and cry for victims rights is rising across the nation.

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MARC GAFNI, A CHILD RAPIST, AND HIS EVER GROWING LIST OF FAMOUS ACCOMPLICES: THE NEW YORK TIMES, HUFFINGTON POST & WHOLE FOODS

UNITED STATES
Huffington Post

By Melayna Lokosky

December 25, 2015 (interesting choice of date) The New York Times piece by Mark Oppenheimer A Spiritual Leader Gains Stature, Trailed by a Troubled Past was published. Note the name of the Spiritual Leader and what specifically the Troubled Past entailed is missing from the headline, and that’s by design. The Sociopathic Business Model™ maintains that manipulating facts without shame, remorse, guilt or accountability while not recognizing the rights of the victims is a goal when trying to prevent corporate, negative truth from being exposed, which can hurt corporate image which is tied to profit. This tactic is two-fold: it revictimizes the victims while helping the corporate abuser’s SEO positively. Both are unethical. These frequent tactics, readers of this site, have come to expect from former, rabbi and child rapist Marc Gafni*; but, are rather unexpected from Oppenheimer and The New York Times. There’s still hope for Oppenheimer, if what happened this past week to local TEGNA, NBC 12 News reporter Wendy Halloran, also happened to him at The New York Times.

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A Spiritual Leader Gains Stature, Trailed by a Troubled Past

CALIFORNIA
The New York Times

By MARK OPPENHEIMER DEC. 25, 2015

PACIFIC GROVE, Calif. — In his home office overlooking Monterey Bay, Marc Gafni is trying to remake American spirituality. He reads, he writes, and he works to bring a little-known philosophy called integral theory into the mainstream of New Age.

Integral theory “is based on the understanding that evolution itself is an expression of a spiritual universal force of creation embodied in each one of us as us, as unique selves,” said the futurist Barbara Marx Hubbard, who described Mr. Gafni as a leader of the movement.

The members of Mr. Gafni’s think tank, the Center for Integral Wisdom, and their projects are drawn from the worlds of medicine, yoga, meditation and the business-ethics movement known as “conscious capitalism.”

“We take the best of all the major disciplines of wisdom from the premodern period, the modern period and postmodern period,” Mr. Gafni said. “And we integrate them in a kind of renaissance project.”

A co-founder of Whole Foods, John Mackey, a proponent of conscious capitalism, calls Mr. Gafni “a bold visionary.” He is a chairman of the executive board of Mr. Gafni’s center, and he hosts board meetings at his Texas ranch. The Whole Foods website shows a seven-part video series of conversations between the two men. …

But the growing prominence of Mr. Gafni, 55, and his think tank has alarmed many Jewish leaders who know him as a former rabbi who was accused of sexually exploiting a high school freshman and who then moved to Israel to start a mystical community, only to lose it after having affairs with multiple followers.

Mr. Gafni, who talked about his past during several interviews, and his supporters say he has put all of that behind him. He said that old claims against him were all exaggerated, the result of professional resentment, and that he had been the victim of pseudofeminist witch hunts. (He handed this columnist a copy of “Sexual McCarthyism,” by Alan M. Dershowitz.)

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Abuse hearing dates revealed

AUSTRALIA
The Courier

By Melissa Cunningham
Dec. 27, 2015

Dates for the next public hearing of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse in Ballarat have been announced. The third part of public hearings into child sexual abuse by the Catholic clergy within Ballarat institutions will be held at the Ballarat Magistrates Court from February 22 to 26. The hearing will examine the knowledge of the Christian Brothers in Ballarat and their response to the allegations of the sexual abuse of children at schools across Ballarat.

It will also continue to discern how much church figures and authorities, including police, knew about the serial sexual abuse of children that occurred across the Ballarat diocese for decades. Details: childabuseroyalcommission.gov.au

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The house of tears: Secret tapes of woman who spent years at controversial Irish home for unmarried mothers reveals there WAS an unmarked mass grave for up to 800 children

IRELAND
The Irish Mail on Sunday

By Alison O’reilly For The Irish Mail On Sunday

A shocking recording from a woman who worked in an Irish home for unmarried mothers where almost 800 children died confirms there is an unmarked grave on the grounds of the infamous institution.

Julia Devaney entered St Mary’s Mother and Baby Home in Tuam, County Galway when she was nine years old and spent 36 years there until it closed in 1961. She worked as a domestic servant for the Bon Secours nuns.

Mrs Devaney gave a stark account of the home in a recorded interview with a former employer who ran a shop in Tuam some time in the 1980s. However, the tapes only resurfaced earlier this year.

From the 1920s, unmarried pregnant women in Ireland were routinely sent to institutions to have their babies, many of whom were sent to America for adoption.

Local historian Catherine Corless, who researched the names of the 796 children who died in the home from 1925 to 1961, has spent a number of months transcribing Ms Devaney’s interview.

Today, the Irish Mail on Sunday can reveal how Mrs Devaney said that children would ‘die like flies’ in the home. Mrs Devaney said: ‘Scores of children died under a year and whooping cough was epidemic. Sure they had a little graveyard of their own up there. It’s still there, it’s walled in now.

‘I don’t remember seeing any stillbirths. If the child died under a year, there were always inquiries. There wasn’t as much about it if the child was over a year.

‘Under a year old, the inspectors would put it down to neglect. They would look upon it as natural if the child was over a year because the child would be more open to diseases.

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Pope v. Traditionalists – A Catholic Civil War

UNITED STATES
The Open Tabernacle: Here Comes Everybody

Posted on December 26, 2015 by Betty Clermont

The above is paraphrasing the title of a recent article by Damian Thompson, associate editor of Britain’s oldest magazine, The Spectator. Thompson was referring to a speech delivered Oct. 24 by Pope Francis at the conclusion of the Synod on the Family in which 270 bishops from around the world met in Rome.

The pope said prelates should confront difficult issues “fearlessly, without burying our heads in the sand.” He accused traditionalist bishops of having “closed hearts,” “blinkered viewpoints,” judging “sometimes with superiority and superficiality.” Actually, the pope is in accord with all his prelates in condemning birth control, condoms, abortion and homosexuality.

Pope Francis recently traveled to Uganda and Kenya. “The Catholic Church in Uganda has been in alliance with all the other Churches in condemning and discriminating against LGBTI persons” where “homosexuality is illegal and attacks against gays have forced many to seek refuge abroad or lead secret lives at home.” The pontiff made no correction to his Ugandan bishops.

The leading cause of maternal death in Kenya is unsafe abortion. “More than 70 percent of women seeking post-abortion care in Kenya were not using contraception.” That country also has the fourth-largest HIV epidemic in the world. The pontiff offered no compassion to Kenyan women.

During the Q&A with journalists on the trip from Africa back to Rome, a reporter pointed out to Pope Francis that “In Uganda alone there were 135,000 new infections of HIV, in Kenya it’s worse. It’s the greatest cause of death in Africa.” He asked the pope, “Is it not time for the Church … to allow the use of condoms to prevent more infections?” Francis responded by changing the subject.

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Pope v. Curia – A Catholic Civil War

UNITED STATES
The Open Tabernacle: Here Comes Everybody

Posted on December 26, 2015 by Betty Clermont

The above is paraphrasing the title of a recent article by Damian Thompson, associate editor of Britain’s oldest magazine, The Spectator. Thompson was referring to a speech delivered Oct. 24 by Pope Francis at the conclusion of the Synod on the Family. The pope provoked hostilities with Catholic traditionalists to strengthen the perception that he is wants to liberalize the Church but is prevented by prelates with “closed-hearts.”

Pope Francis has also cast his employees as the villains blocking his “reform” of the Vatican bureaucracy known as the Curia.

In his 2014 Christmas “greeting” to his Curia, Pope Francis “launched a stinging attack” denouncing their “hypocrisy” as “typical of mediocre and progressive spiritual emptiness,” “existential schizophrenia,” having a “lust for power” and being guilty of “careerism and opportunism.”

After sharing an assessment of Vatican finance in a meeting with curial cardinals, the pope gave them a 16-minute “scathing, even humiliating dressing-down” described as “harsher than any that had been expressed by a pontiff to an assembled group of cardinals.” The pope told his Princes of the Church, “If something is done without authorization, it doesn’t get paid,” according to a transcript of a secret recording of the meeting.

Referencing the pope’s Oct. 24 speech insulting his traditionalist bishops, “One priest close to the Vatican was appalled but not surprised. ‘You’re seeing the real Francis,’ he said. ‘He’s a scold. He can’t hide his contempt for his own Curia. Also, unlike Benedict, this guy rewards his mates and punishes his enemies.’”

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Spotlight on the church

INDIA
The Hindu

NAMAN RAMACHANDRAN

After half a year of frenzied film festival-hopping, I got back to home base only to find a teetering pile of DVD and Blu-ray screeners and an inbox bursting with screening invites and iTunes downloads. We are in the middle of the run up to the awards season, and my task, over the next few weeks, is to watch all these movies and vote for them across categories.

An arresting film

One of the more arresting films I watched was Tom McCarthy’s Spotlight (2015). McCarthy debuted as a director in 2003 with The Station Agent , an indie drama about a diminutive person in search of solitude, which won big at Sundance and won him a screenwriting BAFTA. The Visitor (2007) continued McCarthy’s chronicling of solitary men, this time following a Connecticut-based professor, who returns to his apartment in New York, only to find an illegal immigrant couple squatting there. Richard Jenkins got an Oscar best-actor-nomination for his portrayal of the professor. In McCarthy’s Win Win (2011), Paul Giamatti is not solitary at all as a lawyer who is also a wrestling coach, forced to wrestle with the consequences of a debatable moral decision. I did not watch McCarthy’s The Cobbler (2014) simply because it stars Adam Sandler, who I do not have much time for these days, though I will yield to no one in admiring his bravura turn in Paul Thomas Anderson’s Punch-Drunk Love (2002), and I have no shame in admitting that I watched Pixels (2015) because of nostalgia for 1980s video games.

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Settlement Brings Court Oversight

MINNESOTA
America

January 4-11, 2016 Issue

From CNS, Staff and other sources

The Ramsey County Attorney’s Office in Minnesota announced a landmark civil settlement with the Archdiocese of Saint Paul-Minneapolis related to a civil case that alleged grave breakdowns in the archdiocese’s child protection policies. According to County Attorney John Choi, the primary objective of the settlement is to transform the organizational culture of the archdiocese “into one that is vigilant about ensuring that no child will ever again become the victim of clergy sex abuse.”

“Today’s historic agreement increases oversight and transparency to systemically change how the archdiocese protects children and responds to suspected incidents of child sexual abuse,” said Choi. “It is my expectation that the facts of this case will never be repeated and the protection of children will forever be of paramount importance within this archdiocese.” The “case” referred to by Choi involved Curtis Wehmeyer, a former priest who is now serving a prison term for molesting two boys in 2010.

Civil charges will be stayed for three years while the church puts in place enhanced policies and practices to protect children. The archdiocese would have to submit progress reports to the court every six months, and the civil case would be dropped after three years if the court is satisfied with its progress. An accompanying criminal investigation will continue, the county attorney’s office reported.

Archbishop Bernard Hebda, the archdiocese’s apostolic administrator, described the agreement in a letter to parishioners as “an opportunity for us to do all we can to make sure children are as safe as possible now and into the future.”

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Ray Duckler: A Boston scandal, uncovered by the Globe, spreads north

NEW HAMPSHIRE
Concord Monitor

By RAY DUCKLER
Monitor staff
Saturday, December 26, 2015

Phil McLaughlin, then New Hampshire’s attorney general, played a hunch after reading a Boston Globe story nearly 14 years ago.

Worried the sex abuse scandal enveloping the Boston Archdiocese wasn’t confined to our neighbor to the south, and armed with information from a top church official, McLaughlin called two of his young staffers, Jim Rosenberg and Will Delker, into his office.

With a copy of the Globe on his desk, its banner headline of “Church allowed abuse by priest for years” revealing a dark secret, McLaughlin said what was on his mind.

“I do not believe that news of this event stops at the magic border, the fictitious line in the sand that divides New Hampshire and Massachusetts,” Rosenberg, now a lawyer at Shaheen and Gordon, remembered his boss saying. “I believe we’ve shared diocesan priests. We need to look into this.”

And so they did. Fourteen months later, after assembling a task force of investigators and state and local police, the attorney general’s office released its report, which detailed hundreds of accusations of sexual abuse against dozens of priests.

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December 26, 2015

Former Jehovah Witness from Hartlepool agrees to be interviewed as part of nationwide investigation into the church

UNITED KINGDOM
Northern Echo

Chris Webber, Reporter (Stockton/Hartlepool)
Saturday 26 December 2015

A FORMER Jehovah’s Witness from Hartlepool calling for changes in the way the church deals with victims of sex abuse has been interviewed as part of a major national investigation.

The church is reeling after a Royal Commission in Australia made 77 adverse findings about the way the church dealt with sex abuse accusations in Australia and in the UK in October campaigners wrote to the Government arguing it should be mandatory for the church to go to police whenever an allegation is made.

That follows two high profile North-East cases where Jehovah Witnesses were criticised in court in the last two years for not going to the police when allegations were raised within tight-nit church communities in Washington and in South Shields.

Now Hartlepool man and campaigner, Steve Rose, has been interviewed by the Charity Commission which is conducting a long-term investigation into the religious group’s safeguarding procedures.

Mr Rose has previously been featured in The Northern Echo after raising concerns about practices in the church. On that occasion he claimed he had been ‘shunned’ and ‘disfellowshipped’ from the church after falling out with other members. He said that for younger and more vulnerable members with fewer friends outside the group the effect can be devastating.

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Calls for Bishop Brian Finnigan’s sacking after royal commission into child sexual abuse

AUSTRALIA
The Sunday Mail

DARYL PASSMORE
The Sunday Mail (Qld)

A BRISBANE bishop is facing calls to be sacked after being slammed at the child sex abuse royal commission.

Bishop Brian Finnigan was accused by counsel assisting the commission, Angus Stewart, SC, of lacking compassion and not being candid, in an attempt to protect himself and the church, when he gave evidence this month.

He admitted the evidence he gave at the public hearing differed from, and was “far more restrictive’’ than, his earlier account to a private hearing of the commission.

Bishop Finnigan held key roles as secretary to then bishop of Ballarat Ronald Mulkearns, and as a member of the College of Consultors, during the time when the Catholic Church’s worst pedophile priest, Father Gerald Ridsdale, was abusing children. Ridsdale was later convicted of 138 offences involving 53 youngsters.

One of the victims, Paul Levey, has now launched an online petition demanding Bishop Finnigan be sacked, claiming he did not do enough to protect children.

The petition, calling for Archbishop of Brisbane Mark Coleridge to remove the bishop, has so far attracted more than 4500 supporters.

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Santeria group disowns suspect in skeleton thefts from Hope Cemetery

WORCESTER (MA)/HARTFORD (CT)
Telegram & Gazette

By Samantha Allen
Telegram & Gazette Staff

WORCESTER – A man facing charges in connection with the theft of skeletal remains from Hope Cemetery has been stripped of his title of Santeria priest.

The Cultural Association of African Religions Babalú Aye, a nonprofit organization in New York, said in a statement that Amador Medina’s membership has been revoked. Mr. Medina, 32, of Hartford, was charged this month with stealing remains from Hope Cemetery. He faces a hearing in Central District Court on Jan. 5 and has been ordered held on $100,000.

“By his own (alleged) actions, his membership has been cancelled for violating several points of the terms and conditions agreement that he signed to conserve his affiliation,” reads the statement from the association’s board of directors. “Practitioners and followers of the Yoruba Diaspora (of Santeria) fail to recognize the use of human bones in our religious practices for any reason.”

Mr. Medina told Hartford police, upon their discovery of five sets of human remains in his home, that he was a Babáloshá priest, of the Santeria faith; investigators found an identification card from the association, referred to as the ACRABA, according to Deputy Police Chief Brian J. Foley.

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Reformed Rhetoric: Priming the Catholic Church for Long-Term Change

UNITED STATES
Harvard Political Review

By Minnie Jang

Over seven million followers on Twitter. Time’s 2013 “Person of the Year.” Hundreds of thousands of people lined up in the streets to see him during his recent visit to the United States.

Since his election in April 2013, Pope Francis has garnered unparalleled media attention. With nearly 50,000 media mentions in his first year as pontiff alone and tourism in Vatican City tripling since the beginning of his tenure, he has brought increased attention to the papacy and gained a celebrity-like status.

Media outlets are fond of calling him “the people’s pope.” This label draws attention to Pope Francis’s message of compassion for marginalized populations. Through rhetoric of openness and compassion, he has shifted the conversation away from traditionally controversial social issues, such as homosexuality and divorce, to that of building “a church that is poor and is for the poor.”

In evaluating the pope and his refocused rhetoric, the natural inclination is to look for tangible results. How many people has he lifted out of poverty? How much have Church expenditures changed? Yet these quantitative measures are the wrong frame of analysis. Harvard Divinity School assistant dean for ministry studies and field education Emily Click explained to the HPR that Pope Francis is not trying to control outcomes, and that “we often discount a shift in conversation as a powerful move.” While attempting to measure “the Francis effect” has value in ensuring that rhetoric does not wholly replace action, it should not substitute or devalue the importance of conversational change.

During the first two and a half years of his papacy, Pope Francis has initiated this complex process of change, looking outward toward the global Church’s varying priorities and looking inward toward reforming the discourse of the Church itself. These rhetoric-based reforms have sown the seeds of long-term change, which is just beginning to be defined in concrete terms.

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Schedule of activity

AUSTRALIA
Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse

January – February 2016

Please note that the schedule below may change at short notice. Details of the subject matter to be covered at public hearings, including the scope and purpose of each case study, will be published on the Royal Commission’s website closer to the date of each hearing.

January

27 Jan-
5 Feb Public hearing: Case Study 36 into Church of England Boys’ Society, Hobart

February

Tues 2- Fri 5 Private Sessions- Melbourne, Victoria

Fri 5 Directions Hearing- Sydney, New South Wales

Tues 9- Fri 12 Private Sessions- Perth, Western Australia and Regional Queensland

Mon 22- Fri 26 Public Hearing: Case Study 28 into Catholic Church authorities, Ballarat

Tues 23- Fri 26 Private Sessions- Brisbane, Queensland

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Catholic priest sues Baton Rouge TV station for defamation on report of child abuse litigation

LOUISIANA
The Advocate

JOE GYAN JR.| JGYAN@THEADVOCATE.COM

A Catholic priest at the center of a contentious court case pitting the secrecy of the confessional against state laws designed to protect children is suing a Baton Rouge television station over the station’s reporting of the case.

The Rev. Jeff Bayhi claims he has been defamed and is seeking damages from WBRZ-TV in 19th Judicial District Court.

In the underlying court case on which WBRZ has reported, Rebecca Mayeux claims when she was 14 she told Bayhi — her pastor at Our Lady of the Assumption in Clinton — that she was sexually abused by a now-deceased church parishioner. She alleges Bayhi neglected his duty under Louisiana law to report the alleged abuse to authorities.

“During this reporting, WBRZ-TV and its employees presented Mayeux’s claims against Father Bayhi in such a manner as to create the impression that those claims were facts instead of mere allegations,” lawyer Henry Olinde Jr. writes in Bayhi’s suit against the station.

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