Orange County pastor arrested on suspicion of child molestation

ESCONDIDO (CA)
CBS News 8 (KFMB-TV)

December 28, 2018

By Abbie Alford

An Orange County pastor faces charges stemming from the alleged abuse of at least one child, police said.

Escondido police arrested John Rodgers McFarland, 66, December 18 on suspicion of child molestation. Escondido police said they arrested McFarland at his Fullerton home for molesting a relative under the age of 14 while visiting family in Escondido several years ago.

Escondido police say they started the child molestation investigation against the pastor, who is also a police chaplain, in November 2018. Fullerton and Fountain Valley police served a search warrant at McFarland’s Fullerton home, his place of employment and Fountain Valley United Methodist Church.

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Pittsburgh Catholic diocese disputes grand jury claim

PITTSBURGH (PA)
Tribune-Review

December 28, 2018

By Dillon Carr

The Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh is disputing a state grand jury’s claim that Catholic Charities Fund money was used to cover parochial school bills for the children of a clergy sex abuse victim.

An alleged victim of former priest William Yockey received payments totaling nearly $55,000 that went toward his children’s Catholic school educations from 2012 to 2017. A grand jury report released in August detailing decades of sexual abuse in Pennsylvania dioceses said the money came from various diocesan funds, including a “Catholic Charities Fund.”

The Tribune-Review cited the payments in a Dec. 17 article about a lawsuit filed by an alleged victim of Yockey’s that accuses the diocese of covering up Yockey’s sexual abuse while he served at St. Bernadette Church in Monroeville in the 1980s.

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Leader of seminary under investigation now to lead cathedral

WORCESTER (MA)
Associated Press via Crux

December 30, 2018

The head of a Boston seminary that the Catholic Church is investigating following allegations of misconduct has been tapped to lead a cathedral in Worcester.

The Roman Catholic Diocese of Worcester announced Friday that Monsignor James Moroney will become interim rector of the Cathedral of St. Paul starting Jan. 1.

Moroney said in the announcement he’s “deeply grateful” for tenure at the Boston theological school and looked forward to serving his home diocese.

Friday’s announcement didn’t mention the status of the investigation but Moroney said in a blog post he looks forward to the results of the inquiry.

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Sexual abuse survivor Darryl Smith to share his story at the Vatican

NEW ZEALAND
stuff.co.nz

December 29, 2018

By Adele Redmond

A survivor of sexual abuse within the Catholic Church will share his story at the Vatican.

Dunedin man Darryl Smith will meet with Catholic bishops, and potentially Pope Francis, during a global summit on clergy sexual abuse in Rome in February.

Smith claims he was first abused as a 6-year-old at Christchurch’s Marylands School, a Catholic institution for children with learning difficulties, in 1971.

“The Pope has stated publicly that he wants the bishops to meet the survivors,” Smith said on Saturday.

“The trick is to talk about the other survivors of Marylands and get some help with them too.”

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Es el peor momento en la historia de la Iglesia”

[“This is the worst moment in history of the Church]

CHILE
La Tercera

December 30, 2018

By Carla Pía Ruiz Pereira

La visita del Papa a Chile debía ser un éxito, pero fue todo lo contrario. Varios episodios detonaron un huracán que apuntaba a un solo motivo: las denuncias por abusos sexuales en contra de sacerdotes. Reportajes reunió a cuatro de ellos -un exobispo, un Schoenstatt y dos jesuitas- para hablar de la crisis y sus repercusiones. Esto es lo que discutieron.

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“Me sugirió que no hablara porque me iba a destruir”: el brutal recuerdo de José Andrés Murillo a 20 años de su primera denuncia por los abusos de Karadima

[“He suggested that I not speak because he would destroy me:” the brutal memory of José Andrés Murillo 20 years after his first complaint about Karadima’s abuses]

CHILE
Publimetro

December 30, 2018

By Camilo Henríquez

“Así se cierra un ciclo”, escribió en su cuenta de Twitter.

José Andrés Murillo, una de las víctimas y denunciantes de Fernando Karadima, señaló que se “cierra un ciclo” luego de que se cumplieron 20 años de su primera denuncia.

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Viaje de obispo Ramos a reunión con el Papa desata críticas: “No es la persona idónea”

[Bishop Ramos’ trip to meet with Pope unleashes criticism: “He is not the right person”]

SANTIAGO (CHILE)
Emol

December 29, 2018

By Juan Peña and Pía Larrondo

Juan Carlos Cruz y los laicos de Osorno salieron al paso del anuncio de la Conferencia Episcopal. En tanto, vaticanista dice que decisión no evitará los cuestionamientos a la Iglesia chilena.

El anuncio de que el presidente de la Conferencia Episcopal, Santiago Silva, no irá a la reunión que convocó el Papa Francisco en Roma para febrero y que en su reemplazo asistirá el obispo Fernando Ramos, no fue bien recibida por los cercanos a las víctimas de abusos sexuales ocurridos al interior de la Iglesia.

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Tildan de “hipócrita” a Fernando Ramos por asistir al Vaticano a encuentro sobre protección de menores

[Fernando Ramos branded a “hypocrite” for attending Vatican meeting on child protection]

CHILE
Publimetro

December 29, 2018

By Aton Chile (news agency)

El secretario general de la Conferencia Episcopal, Fernando Ramos, asistirá a una reunión para analizar cómo proteger a niños. Las críticas no tardaron en llegar.

Juan Carlos Cruz, denunciante de los abusos del ex sacerdote Fernando Karadima, trató de “hipócrita” al secretario general de la Conferencia Episcopal, Fernando Ramos, quien en febrero asistirá a un encuentro en el Vaticano sobre protección de menores.

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Vatican spokespersons resign in latest comms shake-up

ROME (ITALY)
Crux

December 31, 2018

By Elise Harris

On Monday the Vatican announced that papal spokespersons Greg Burke and Paloma Garcia Ovejero have resigned – a move that comes just over two years after their 2016 appointments, and just weeks after two other key personnel changes in the Vatican’s communications operation.

Taking the reins in the interim will be Alessandro Gisotti, until now Coordinator of Social Media for the Vatican office for communications and a longtime veteran of Vatican Radio.

Both Burke and Garcia Ovejero made Vatican history when they stepped on board as the Director and Vice Director, respectively, of the Holy See Press Office in August 2016, marking the first time the papal spokespersons were both non-clergy, and included a woman.

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Obispo Fernando Ramos irá a cita con el Papa en representación de Iglesia chilena

[Bishop Fernando Ramos will meet with the Pope on behalf of the Chilean Church]

CHILE
La Tercera

December 29, 2018

By EFE (news agency)

Juan Carlos Cruz, denunciante de los abusos del exsacerdote Fernando Karadima, trató de “hipócrita” al obispo Ramos al aceptar reemplazar a Silva en el encuentro en el Vaticano sobre protección de menores.

El obispo Fernando Ramos confirmó hoy que será él quien represente a la Conferencia Episcopal de Chile (CECh), en el encuentro con el Papa Francisco en el Vaticano, el próximo 21 de febrero.

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Vatican hears testimony from alleged McCarrick abuse victim

VATICAN CITY
Associated Press via Crux

December 28, 2018

The Vatican has taken testimony from a man who says ex-Cardinal Theodore McCarrick sexually abused him for years starting when he was 11, evidence that the initial case against the retired archbishop has expanded to include serious allegations of sexual misconduct, including in the confessional.

James Grein testified Thursday in New York before the judicial vicar for the New York City archdiocese, who was asked by the Holy See to take his statement, said Grein’s civil attorney Patrick Noaker.

The testimony, which lasted about an hour, was difficult and stressful but Grein was proud to have done it, Noaker said.

“He wants his church back. He felt that in order to accomplish that end, he had to go in and testify here and tell them what happened, and give the church itself the chance to do the right thing,” Noaker said in a telephone interview Friday.

Grein initially came forward in July after the New York archdiocese announced that a church investigation determined that an allegation that McCarrick had groped another teenage altar boy in the 1970s was credible.

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Diocese responds to accusation against ‘Dancing Priest’

PITTSBURGH (PA)
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

December 29, 2018

By Peter Smith

The Rev. Thomas Smith, known as the “Singing and Dancing Priest” for his Broadway-seasoned “theatrical evangelism,” is now among the latest subjects of allegations of sexual misconduct in the Catholic Church.

The Diocese of Pittsburgh sent letters this month to various parishes where the late Father Smith served, informing them of an allegation of sexual abuse against the priest, who died in 2015 at age 90.

During one of the listening sessions held by Pittsburgh Bishop David Zubik in early December in response to the grand jury report on sexual abuse by Catholic priests, one of the attendees who spoke identified him as her abuser.

She said the abuse happened in 1967, when she was about 15 or 16 years old and a student at St. Anselm High School in Swissvale, where Father Smith worked as a priest.

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Vatican spokesman and his deputy resign unexpectedly

ROME (ITALY)
Washington Post

December 31, 2018

By Chico Harlan

The Vatican capped a tumultuous year Monday by announcing the unexpected resignations of its head spokesman, Greg Burke, and his deputy, the figures most responsible for day-to-day dealings with the media.

The statement provided no reason for the departures of Burke and Paloma Garcia Ovejero, but the moves follow the Vatican’s overhaul this year of much of its communications office. Earlier this month, Pope Francis named Andrea Tornielli, a veteran Italian journalist, as the editorial director for Vatican communications.

On Twitter, Burke said the resignations would be effective Jan. 1.

“At this time of transition in Vatican communications, we think it’s best the Holy Father is completely free to assemble a new team,” Burke wrote.

The head of the Vatican’s communications office, Paolo Ruffini, who was also appointed to his job this year, said the resignations were “autonomous” and of “free choice.”

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Vatican spokesman and his deputy resign suddenly

VATICAN CITY
Associated Press

December 31, 2018

By Nicole Winfield

The Vatican spokesman, Greg Burke, and his deputy resigned suddenly Monday amid an overhaul of the Vatican’s communications operations that coincides with a troubled period in Pope Francis’ papacy.

In a tweet, Burke said he and his deputy, Paloma Garcia Ovejero, had resigned effective Jan. 1. Francis accepted the resignation Monday, the Vatican said in a statement.

“At this time of transition in Vatican communications, we think it’s best the Holy Father is completely free to assemble a new team,” Burke wrote.

He and Garcia both thanked the pope. “A stage is ending. Thank you for these two and a half years,” Garcia tweeted.

Francis named a longtime member of the Vatican’s communications operations, Alessandro Gisotti, as an interim replacement.

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Revived abuse crisis, newfangled simony dominated the church’s 2018

UNITED STATES
National Catholic Reporter

December 31, 2018

By Michael Sean Winters

If the year 2018 in politics was dominated by Donald Trump, the life of the Catholic Church in this country in 2018 was marked by two major stories, one a reprise and the other just beginning, and one story that did not happen, the ecclesial dog that did not bark.

In the event, Pope Francis addressed both major stories in his address to the Roman Curia just before Christmas: the clergy sex abuse crisis and the newfangled simony afflicting the church. I shall consider those comments in their proper place.

When I ventured my predictions for the year last January, I did not predict that the clergy sex abuse crisis would return, and return with a vengeance, but it did. Beginning with the removal from ministry of, and subsequent resignation of his cardinalate by, Theodore McCarrick, followed by the Pennsylvania grand jury report, on through the November meeting of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, the issue sucked all the air out of the sanctuary.

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The Catholic Church’s response to sexual abuse allegations

UNITED STATES
CNN

By Daniel Burke

December 29, 2018

A prominent cardinal resigned in disgrace. Grand jurors accused hundreds of Catholic clerics of secretly abusing children. A former Vatican ambassador urged the Pope himself to step down.

It was enough for New York’s Cardinal Timothy Dolan to call it the Catholic Church’s “summer of hell.”

The cardinal may have been overly optimistic.

In fact, the church’s hellish year began in January, when Pope Francis forcefully defended a Chilean bishop he had promoted. He later had to apologize and accept the bishop’s resignation.

But the clergy sex abuse scandal shows no signs of abating, with a federal investigation and probes in 12 states and the District of Columbia in the works.

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Brighton rector in misconduct allegations at St. John’s Seminary to go to Worcester

BOSTON (MA)
The Boston Globe

December 28, 2018

By Kay Lazar

The rector of a Brighton seminary who has been on sabbatical during an investigation of alleged misconduct there will be returned to his home diocese in Worcester, according to an announcement Friday by church officials.

Monsignor James P. Moroney, who was placed on sabbatical in August by Cardinal Sean P. O’Malley, will become interim rector of the Cathedral of St. Paul and the Worcester Diocese Office for Divine Worship, the announcement said.

Moroney had been rector at St. John’s Seminary in Brighton for the past six years.

The announcement did not say whether the investigation has been completed or what, if anything, has been concluded.

In August, O’Malley said he launched the investigation after learning that two former St. John’s seminarians posted allegations on social media that during their time at the seminary “they witnessed and experienced activities which are directly contrary to the moral standards and requirements of formation for the Catholic priesthood.”

Former seminarians alleged a panoply of unpriestly behavior at the 134-year-old institution including heavy drinking, sexual harassment, bullying, and intimidation.

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Victim fund payouts don’t cover non-clergy sex abuse

PENNSYLVANIA
The Tribune-Review

December 29, 2018

By Jamie Martines

Brother Frank Meder gave the Troy Hill neighborhood kids candy and soda when the old North Catholic High School cafeteria was closed on Saturdays. Sometimes he invited them to look at the stamp collection in his office.

But first, he would molest them, according to one woman and four men whose accounts are detailed in the 2018 Pennsylvania grand jury report.

Brother John Keegan, also a member of the Marianist religious order who worked at North Catholic, was accused of asking male students if he could “examine” their genitals.

He allegedly read the minors explicit scripts and molested them.

Abuse at the hands of these individuals — along with abuse committed by other members of religious orders named throughout the grand jury report — could go unacknowledged and uncompensated as the Diocese of Pittsburgh and other dioceses across the state set up and administer victim compensation programs.

Survivors of abuse committed by members of religious orders like the Marianists, as well as by laypeople including teachers, janitors or other adults working in diocesan schools and parishes, will not be eligible to submit claims, according to details of the Pittsburgh program released this month by the diocese and the Washington-based law firm led by Kenneth Feinberg. The dioceses of Pittsburgh and Greensburg hired Feinberg’s firm to design and administer the program.

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Priest accused of child sex abuse AWOL from religious order

ILLINOIS
TheHill.com

By Tal Axelrod

December 29, 2018

The former president of an Illinois Catholic high school who is under investigation for allegations of sexually abusing a male student in the 1990s is missing from the Augustinian order to which he belongs, according to The Chicago Tribune.

Sister Mary Ann Hamer, assistant treasurer for the Province of Our Mother of Good Counsel, which operates Providence Catholic High School, told the Tribune Friday that Rev. Richard McGrath, 72, was “absent without leave” after having moved out of the St. John Stone Friary. Hamer added that he had left in the last couple of months on his own accord.

But Rev. Anthony B. Pizzo, prior provincial of the Midwest Augustinians, sent a statement to the Tribune Friday that McGrath was “illegitimately” absent, which means he is no longer affiliated with the Augustinian order. While he remains a priest, he lacks the canonical authority to fulfill a priest’s duties.

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Two Lawsuits Name the Vatican. Perhaps Justice At Last.

UNITED STATES
The Open Tabernacle

December 16, 2018

By Betty Clermont

In October, two sexual abuse survivors sued the Vatican in the U.S. District Court in San Francisco for failing to prevent and covering up the abuse of them and other children by priests.

In November, a class-action lawsuit on behalf of six sexual assault victims was filed in the U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C. The lawsuit accuses the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) and the Vatican of “endemic, systemic, rampant, and pervasive rape and sexual abuse” of the plaintiffs and others by members of the clergy, religious orders, and other Church representatives.

The Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act (FSIA) establishes the limitations as to whether a foreign sovereign nation (or its political subdivisions, agencies, or instrumentalities) may be sued in U.S. courts. Under that law, a foreign state shall be liable for personal injury or death occurring in the United States and caused by the foreign state or any official or employee of that foreign state while acting within the scope of his office or employment. (I am not a lawyer, so I hope anyone wanting exact information will click on these links for the specifics.)

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Catholic abuse victims advocate says Sioux City parishioners need to stand against abuse

SIOUX CITY (IA)
Sioux City Journal

December 30, 2018

By Mason Dockter

Tim Lennon, the president of the board of the Survivors’ Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP), brought an emotional message to Sioux City Catholic parishioners Saturday afternoon: parishioners need to take control of their churches and the churches’ response to sexual abuse.

Lennon, now 71 and living in Arizona, said he was raped by the Rev. Peter B. Murphy when he lived in Sioux City in 1960. Memories of the abuse left him with years of depression, anxiety, anger and nightmares. Lennon held a news conference Saturday at the Stoney Creek Inn to call attention to the issue. Approximately 15 people were in attendance.

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Minneapolis attorney seeks justice for victims of Catholic church sexual abuse

MINNEAPOLIS (MN)
Fox9.com

December 29, 2018

By Alex Lehnert

[Video]

A Minneapolis attorney has found himself on the world stage in a case he believes is a first of its kind.

Patrick Noaker is currently fighting Vatican City and the Catholic Church in the hopes of justice for victims of sexual abuse.

It’s a Vatican trial set to determine the punishment for a former high-ranking Cardinal within the church.

Noaker says his client, James Grime, was sexually abused by Cardinal Theodore McCarrick. The testimony happened this week and those documents will be taken straight to Vatican City.

Noaker has been practicing law for years, routinely defending victims of sexual abuse. He says this trial is unlike anything he’s ever experienced.

“It’s very formal, there is a lot of paperwork that goes with it,” Noaker said. “It has testimony like every other trial.”

His client, Grime, says he was sexually abused by the now ex-Cardinal when he was just 11 years old.

“So, McCarrick used to take him into another room, and the first thing he would have him do as part of the confession is he would touch him, improperly… sexually,” Noaker said.

Grime testified Thursday in front of a representative for the Vatican in New York. He recounted moments Noaker says have haunted him for years.

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Dioceses have gone bankrupt after opening window to sex abuse lawsuits

PITTSBURGH (PA)
Tribune Review

December 29, 2018

By Aaron Aupperlee

Like dominoes falling one after another, dioceses across Minnesota declared bankruptcy in the wake of the state passing a law that gave victims of sexual assault a three-year window to file civil lawsuits regardless of when the abuse occurred.

Five of the six Catholic dioceses in Minnesota, home to about 1.2 million Catholics, have turned to Chapter 11 federal bankruptcy protection to settle hundreds of claims of sexual abuse at the hands of priests.

The bankruptcies will allow the dioceses to settle mounting claims of sexual abuse without going before a jury, but victims will often receive a fraction of what juries might award and strip them of their day in court.

Bankruptcies don’t wipe out dioceses. They don’t dissolve them. They don’t disappear. Dioceses file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, reorganize and emerge as leaner operations.

The bankruptcies set up funds to pay victims who have filed claims of sexual abuse against the dioceses. Those victims are paid, along with other creditors who claim the diocese owes them money.

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Can victim funds help heal wounds of Pa. church sex abuse scandal?

PITTSBURGH (PA)
Tribune Review

December 29, 2018

By Aaron Aupperlee

The 15-page packet of information John Delaney received in the mail weighed heavily on him.

Inside was information about a fund set up by the Archdiocese of Philadelphia to compensate victims of sexual abuse at the hands of Catholic priests and an application to apply.

“I’m not sure what I’m going to do. It’s a hard pill to swallow,” Delaney, 48, said in a telephone interview from his Sevierville, Tenn., home.

Delaney, the first victim of sexual abuse to testify before the Philadelphia grand jury in 2005, could soon face a choice: Accept money from a compensation program that has paid out $25,000 to $500,000 to victims of clergy sexual abuse elsewhere — a tacit acknowledgment from the church that abuse occurred — but give up any chance of ever taking his claim against the church to court. Or he could wait on the Pennsylvania legislature to perhaps, one day, open a legal window for him to sue the church, to have his day in court, and potentially win millions.

The compensation programs offer a chance to heal, bishops across Pennsylvania have said. But attorneys who have shepherded victims through similar funds elsewhere say the funds allow the church to settle claims of sexual abuse for less money and with less public exposure than if it went to court. They say the funds can insulate the church both politically and legally should lawmakers change the statute of limitations and allow old claims.

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Suspected Pedophile Priest, Fr. McGrath, Goes AWOLSuspected Pedophile Priest, Fr. McGrath, Goes AWOL

CHICAGO (IL)
Patch Staff |

December 29, 2018

By John Ferak

Father Richard McGrath, the disgraced Catholic priest who served as principal and president of Providence Catholic High School in New Lenox for several years until his forced resignation one year ago, has now gone missing in Chicago, the Chicago Sun-Times reports.

The Chicago newspaper has been tracking Father McGrath’s whereabouts ever since the Joliet Patch and New Lenox Patch broke an important news story in July revealing that the well-known Augustinian priest, who is a suspected pedophile, was now taking up residence at the Augustinian Order’s St. John Stone Friary in Chicago’s Hyde Park neighborhood.

In recent days, The Sun-Times published a story headlined, “Priest accused of child rape, porn, now AWOL from his religious community.”

According to The Sun-Times, the Rev. Richie Mercado, secretary of the Augustinians’ Midwest province, told the newspaper that McGrath “is unlawfully absent from the community.” McGrath hasn’t been seen at the Hyde Park friary for the Augustinians for weeks.

The Sun-Times article also included the following information: “Augustinian officials would not answer questions about whether they know where McGrath is now living and, if so, whether he’s in a supervised setting, away from children.”

In December 2017, McGrath was booted out of Providence in New Lenox after school staff members notified New Lenox Police that a female high school student saw photographs of naked boys on Father McGrath’s cellphone. At the time of the incident, McGrath was sitting in the high school bleachers, all by himself, at a Providence High School wrestling meet.

Patch has previously reported that McGrath refused to cooperate with New Lenox Police, and he refused to give the cellphone with the suspected child pornography back to the Providence staff. He retained a criminal defense attorney and police were unable to interview him.

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Six Jesuits Formerly Associated With GU Accused of Sexual Abuse, Reports Say

WASHINGTON (DC)
Georgetown Hoya

December 29, 2018

By Mason Mandell

Six Jesuit priests who were at one point associated with Georgetown University have been credibly accused of sexually abusing minors, as determined by the Maryland, Midwest and West Provinces of the Society of Jesus in reports released this month.

None of the allegations specify incidents of abuse at Georgetown, although estimated periods of abuse overlap with on-campus assignments, according to the reports.

The Maryland Province’s Dec. 17 report lists priests who face credible accusations of sexual abuse — classified as allegations with “a preponderance of evidence that the allegation is more likely true than not” — as well as priests who were accused of committing abuse, but were not investigated. The Maryland Province did not investigate the credibility of an allegation in cases involving the death of an alleged abuser or incomplete historical information, according to the report.

SUBUL MALIK/THE HOYA Credible allegations of sexual abuse toward minors were filed against six Jesuit priests formerly associated with Georgetown, according to reports released by the Maryland, Midwest and West Provinces of the Society of Jesus.
University President John J. DeGioia supported the disclosure by the Maryland Province and said Georgetown is dedicated to taking action against sexual abuse in a universitywide email Dec. 17.

“Our University is deeply committed to preventing and responding to sexual assault and misconduct and to protecting the most vulnerable among us,” DeGioia wrote. “Let us all take part in this responsibility.”

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El cardenal Carles firmó la carta que permitió huir a Ecuador al cura acusado de abusos en 1990

[Cardinal Carles signed letter allowing priest accused of abuses in 1990 to flee to Ecuador]

MADRID (SPAIN)
El País

December 22, 2018

By Íñigo Domínguez

Su sucesor, Martínez Sistach, era el obispo auxiliar. El clérigo imputado, localizado por EL PAÍS, declara que “todo es un montaje de la alcaldesa comunista” de Barcelona

El arzobispado de Barcelona ayudó a huir de la justicia y salir del país a Jordi Senabre, un cura acusado de abuso de menores en 1990, tal como reveló EL PAÍS, que ha localizado en Ecuador al sacerdote, donde ha ejercido todos estos años. Sin embargo, no estaba claro quién tomó la decisión de enviarlo de misiones a una diócesis extranjera, pues ese año cambió el arzobispo de Barcelona y la archidiócesis catalana tampoco ha querido aclararlo. Ahora la diócesis de Santo Domingo de los Colorados, en el país sudamericano, ha confirmado a este periódico que recibió una carta firmada por el entonces arzobispo y luego cardenal, Ricard Maria Carles, ya fallecido. La fecha de la misiva es el 4 de diciembre de 1990, según ha informado el vicario judicial de esa provincia ecuatoriana, Jorge Apolo.

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Los delitos sexuales contra menores no prescribirán hasta que la víctima cumpla al menos los 40

[Sexual offenses against minors will not expire until the victim reaches at least 40]

MADRID (SPAIN)
El País

December 28, 2018

By María Sosa

El Gobierno eleva la edad en que empiezan a extinguirse los abusos de los 18 a los 30 años. Los menores de 14 no declararán más de una vez en el proceso judicial

El plazo de prescripción de los abusos sexuales a menores comenzará a correr cuando la víctima cumpla 30 años, y no 18, como sucede ahora. Este es uno de los principales cambios que contempla el anteproyecto de Ley Orgánica para la Protección Integral de la Infancia y la Adolescencia frente a la Violencia, que el Consejo de Ministros tiene previsto aprobar este viernes en primera lectura. La medida responde a una de las principales peticiones de las víctimas de delitos sexuales, aunque las organizaciones de infancia habían solicitado que el tiempo comenzara a correr a los 50.

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Víctimas de Karadima confían en que autoridades de la Iglesia sean encarceladas por encubrir abusos

[Karadima victims trust that Church authorities will be imprisoned for covering up abuses]

CHILE
BioBioChile

December 28, 2018

By Alberto González and Nicole Martínez

Víctimas de Fernando Karadima se manifestaron confiados en que altas autoridades de la Iglesia Católica en nuestro país, sean encarceladas por encubrir abusos sexuales. Por cerca de cuatro horas, dos de las víctimas del exsacerdote Fernando Karadima, Juan Carlos Cruz y José Andrés Murillo, prestaron declaración en la causa de encubrimiento de abusos sexuales al interior de la Iglesia Católica, en contra de Francisco Javier Errázuriz y Ricardo Ezzati.

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Diputado UDI pide a obispos católicos centrar su mensaje de Navidad en “los niños y jóvenes abusados”

[UDI Deputy asks Catholic bishops to focus their Christmas message on “abused children and youth”]

SANTIAGO (CHILE)
Emol

December 21, 2018

Álvaro Carter lamentó que la Conferencia Espicopal no abordara “el sufrimiento de quienes han sido abusados por sacerdotes”.

El diputado de la UDI, Álvaro Carter, lamentó que el mensaje de Navidad de la Conferencia Episcopal de los obispos chilenos no abordara en profundidad los casos de abusos a menores cometidos por miembros de la Iglesia Católica.

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Obispo Fernando Ramos: “Esta no es la misma Iglesia Católica chilena de hace un año”

[Bishop Fernando Ramos: “This is not the same Chilean Catholic Church as one year ago”]

CHILE
La Tercera

December 29, 2018

By María José Navarrete

En su balance del complejo año 2018, el prelado también anuncia que reemplazará al presidente del Episcopado, Santiago Silva -quien en octubre declaró ante la fiscalía por presunto encubrimiento de abusos- en la reunión extraordinaria de febrero convocada por el Papa.

“Decrecimiento”. Así lo asume -y reconoce- el obispo Fernando Ramos, secretario general de la Conferencia Episcopal y administrador apostólico de Rancagua. El prelado se refiere específicamente a los resultados de la encuesta CEP, dada conocer poco antes de Navidad y que muestra la baja de católicos en el país durante los últimos 20 años. Confronta sus razones y proyecciones. Y, junto a ese escenario, analiza también lo ocurrido durante este complejo 2018, que comenzó con la visita del Papa Francisco, pero que estuvo marcado por la investigación de casos de abusos en el clero.

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A GetReligionista looks back on some of his — and his colleagues’ — most-clicked posts of 2018

GET RELIGION

December 29, 2018

By Bobby Ross Jr.

I write more than 200 posts a year for GetReligion.

My pieces range from our bread-and-butter critiques of mainstream news media coverage of religion to our weekly Friday Five columns highlighting each week’s major (or just plain quirky) developments on the Godbeat.

At the end of each year, I’m always curious to see which posts caught the attention of the most readers.

What makes a GetReligion post go viral? In 2017, key ingredients included Joel Osteen, same-sex wedding cakes and the Mark of the Beast. The previous year — 2016 — Donald Trump’s “Two Corinthians,” Merle Haggard’s Church of Christ mama and a rare opening of a Chick-fil-A on Sunday were in the mix.

2018? Well, let’s check out the top five posts for GetReligionista Julia Duin, GetReligion editor Terry Mattingly and myself.

We’ll start with Julia, for reasons that will become obvious:

5. How journalists can nail down the rest of the Cardinal McCarrick story – for good

4. Cardinal Ted McCarrick, Part II: The New York Times takes a stab at this old story

3. Catholic News Agency pulls off investigative coup in the ‘Uncle Ted’ McCarrick saga

2. Another #ChurchToo: The Chicago Tribune investigates Bill Hybels in 6,000 words

1. The scandal of Cardinal Theodore McCarrick and why no major media outed him

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He Was a Gay Man on Staff at a Catholic Parish. Then the Threats Began Coming In.

NEW YORK (NY)
New York Times

December 29, 2018

By Laurie Goodstein

When Antonio Aaron Bianco arrived for work at his Roman Catholic church office on a recent Monday morning, he was rattled to discover that someone had broken into the conference room and spray-painted a message in large yellow letters on the wall. It said “No Fags.”

For Mr. Bianco, a layman in charge of managing St. John the Evangelist Catholic Church, the break-in was just another terrifying omen. Two weeks earlier, someone tried to set the sanctuary doors on fire before the early Sunday Mass. Before that, a stranger swung a punch at Mr. Bianco after Mass one day. For months he had received anonymous phone calls and letters with messages like “Sodomites not welcome in the church.”

Located in the heart of San Diego’s largest gay neighborhood, St. John the Evangelist is one of about 300 Catholic parishes around the country that quietly welcome gay Catholics. Although the Catholic church teaches that same-sex relationships are sinful, growing pockets of the church have accepted openly gay parishioners, staff members and even priests.

But since this summer, when the church faced renewed allegations of clergy sexual abuse, these gay-friendly parishes and church workers have been facing a hostile backlash. Some bishops and conservative Catholic media outlets immediately blamed the crisis on homosexuality, fueling a campaign to purge the church of gay clergy members and church workers.

More than 1,700 people signed a petition started in August demanding that the archbishop of Atlanta “remove priests who promote the L.G.B.T. agenda from public ministry” and stop supporting parishes known to welcome gay people. In Chicago, a priest burned a rainbow flag and led parishioners in a “prayer of exorcism.” For the first time, protesters showed up outside an annual spiritual retreat of gay priests in Wisconsin in October. In November, bishops attending a conference in Baltimore were greeted by Catholics holding signs saying “All Homosexual Cardinals, Bishops and Priests MUST RESIGN!”

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Illinois dioceses have no excuse for keeping priest sex abuse secret

CHICAGO (IL)
Sun Times

December 28, 2018

I was born, raised and educated as a Catholic. I am appalled at the stance taken by church leaders with regard to the possible cases of sexual abuse by a large number of practicing priests in Illinois.

No matter what Archbishop Cupich or any of his aides declare, there is simply no defense for the current state of affairs. The Catholic Church has failed to obey its own precepts. The alleged abuses go back as far as 1992, and what has the church done to combat them? Removed the priests from their parishes, put

With the latest report by Attorney General Lisa Madigan, it is hard to believe that the church has reported all the incidents of abuse in the Chicago diocese. As a Catholic, it is hard for me to consider adhering to the guidance and direction of people who fail to follow their own advice. And instead of trying to get their own affairs in order, they spend their time trying to defend their actions and position. No matter what they proclaim, one case of abuse, reported or not, is one too many. When the numbers soar into triple digits, it is inexcusable.

It is now time for the state to step in and investigate, punish those who have committed these crimes and incarcerate offenders as they would anyone not protected by a collar.

Daniel Pupo, Orland Park

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Letter: Female abuse victims exist in surprising numbers

BUFFALO (NY)
Buffalo News

December 28, 2018

The writer of the Dec. 23 letter, “Allowing priests to marry does not solve the problem” is accurate in her opinion that neither celibacy nor homosexuality causes a person to be a pedophile. Pedophilia is an issue that needs addressing as to cause and effect.

I would like to address the question in the reader’s letter as to why 90 percent or more of all children abused by priests are mostly male. It is estimated that about 40 percent of victims of priest abuse are female.

Female victims have a much more difficult time revealing their story. Some have been blamed by their abuser or the organization that has protected the perpetrator. Some have been brainwashed by Catholic guilt.

Some continue to hold guilt as if the crime done to them as a child is their fault and not that of the adult who violated a child.

Women reporting the crime are interviewed by men. These men interviewers have been priests until most recently.

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Excavation of Tuam babies mass grave will begin in 2019

LONDON (ENGLAND)
Irish Post

December 29, 2018

By Gerard Donaghy

THE EXCAVATION of a mass grave in Tuam, Co. Galway that contains the remains of hundreds of young children is to begin in 2019.

The grave at the site of the former mother and baby home is estimated to contain the remains of 796 children.

It is believed the infants were aged from 35 foetal weeks to three years.

The excavation is due to commence in the latter half of 2019, once legislation has been passed to allow the government to carry out the operation.

“So we’ll have to pass that legislation in the New Year, and we’d envisage carrying out the first excavations in the second half of 2019,” said the Taoiseach, according to RTÉ News.

“In the meantime though, we can start appointing the experts and the ground team who’ll be doing the actual work.”

INVESTIGATION
The Tuam home was in operation from 1925 to 1961 and was run by Sisters of the Bon Secours.

Five years ago, local historian Catherine Corless discovered official records showing that 796 infants and children had died at the home.

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Southern Babtoys Corporation: a satirical look at the pervasive problem of clergy sexual abuse

WINSTON SALEM (NC)
Baptist News Global

December 28, 2018

By Christa Brown

As you pack away the ornaments and the special Christmas dinnerware, imagine a story about a company called Southern Babtoys Corporation, which markets a toy with a pervasive problem.

According to conservative estimates, at least 3 out of every 100 babtoys, and probably more, will blow up in a kid’s hands, hurling tiny fragments far and wide. Typically, the exploding babtoy causes serious injuries, but the pieces are so minuscule that the child often doesn’t realize his injury at the time. He may see only a scratch on his forehead and doesn’t know that some of the pieces have actually penetrated his skull.

To make matters worse, the tiny pieces contain a radioactive compound that releases slowly in continuing ripples of destruction. Over time, the damage in the brain grows worse, but though the damage is real, it manifests so slowly that most people don’t immediately trace it back to the babtoy.

Kids play with babtoys in groups. So a single babtoy will often harm a whole bunch of kids.

Officials at Southern Babtoys Corporation know this is happening, but they don’t do anything about it. They don’t institute quality control measures to prevent the problem, and they don’t even keep records on babtoys that exploded. In fact, when these babtoys are returned, they are often restored and remarketed, but without fixing the problem and without putting even so much as printing a warning on the label. So the same babtoys can explode again and injure still more kids.

You might have one of these warning-never-included, defective babtoys without even knowing it. They look just like all the other babtoys.

“The ‘babtoys’ are Baptist pastors, and the ‘explosions’ are the predatory sexual abuses committed by a percentage of those pastors.”

When someone complains about risky babtoys, SBC officials make minimizing statements, chalk the problem up to other things and blame the complainers. They might say that the kid wore the wrong kind of clothes while playing with the babtoy, or that the parents didn’t properly supervise or that the complainers are just “opportunists.”

The SBC almost never acknowledges the seriousness of its quality control issue, how widespread the problem really is or how devastating the damage is for children. And it certainly doesn’t take any responsibility. In fact, the SBC has been successfully ducking responsibility for so long that it can scarcely imagine any other way to do business. Institutionally, it has simply accommodated to accepting wounded kids as the collateral damage of its business model.

Occasionally, when media reports about exploding babtoys crop up, SBC officials will make such nice-sounding public statements that few can believe such a caring company would ever be remiss for safety. Their official statements reference “precious children” and how terrible the “isolated cases” are.

SBC officials have obviously been well-coached by a whole slew of well-paid public relations professionals and attorneys. They’ve got the talk-thing down. Talk is what they’re good at. But preventive action? Not so much.

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The Vatican’s investigation into Theodore McCarrick’s alleged crimes is underway

WASHINGTON (DC)
Washington Post

December 28, 2018

By Julie Zauzmer and Chico Harlan

The Vatican has begun its long-promised investigation into the crimes allegedly committed by disgraced ex-cardinal Theodore McCarrick, with the intent of determining a punishment for the former high-ranking church leader.

McCarrick, who retired as archbishop of Washington in 2006 but remained a globe-trotting diplomat representing the Catholic Church and occasionally the U.S. State Department, was removed from ministry when the church determined in June that he had groped a teenager at a New York church almost 50 years ago.

Then more allegations came to light: The church had twice settled hushed cases brought by men who said McCarrick harassed them when they were seminarians or young priests. A Virginia man, James Grein, said McCarrick abused him for years, starting when he was 11.

In July, McCarrick resigned from the College of Cardinals, retaining the lower title archbishop, and the Vatican promised that he would stand trial in its internal court system. Then, for months, silence.

On Thursday, Grein said that the Vatican’s judicial process is now underway. He testified before an investigator representing the church, in an office of the Archdiocese of New York, on Thursday morning.

“I had one of the best days of my entire life today. I changed how people are going to think about the Catholic church today,” Grein said to The Washington Post afterward. He expressed confidence that the priest who interviewed him, the Rev. Richard L. Welch, will share the transcript of his testimony about being abused by McCarrick with church leaders at the highest levels, all the way up to Pope Francis. “Francis knows who I am — he can see me and hear me and listen to my voice and hear my emotions. … It’s about time.”

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Former Sedalia priest one of 35 removed for misconduct

SEDALIA (MO)
Sedalia Democrat

December 29 2018

By Nuria Martinez-Keel

An allegation of inappropriate behavior toward a teenager in Sedalia led to the expulsion of a priest from the Catholic Community of Pettis County.

Deusdedit Mulokozi was one of 35 priests removed from the Diocese of Jefferson City, according to a November announcement from Bishop Shawn McKnight.

In 2015, the diocese deemed Mulokozi “unsuitable for ministry out of concern for the safety of our youth,” according to the announcement. Former Bishop John Gaydos expelled him from the diocese, forcing his removal from ministry in Pettis County.

Mulokozi, known familiarly as Father Deo, served at Sacred Heart Church and St. Patrick Church in Sedalia and St. John the Evangelist in Bahner from 2014 until the allegation emerged in May 2015. He came to Pettis County from Tanzania as a member of the religious order Missionaries of the Precious Blood.

A 15-year-old girl reported to the Sedalia Police Department that Mulokozi had insisted on hugging her after a one-on-one counseling session at the Sacred Heart Church rectory. Before she left the room, he gave her “not a normal hug but a dirty hug,” according to SPD documents.

Detectives investigated her report and later requested the priest be charged with third-degree assault in Pettis County Circuit Court.

Third-degree assault in 2015 involved offensive contact or touching. Pettis County Prosecuting Attorney Phillip Sawyer said his office chose not to file the charge against Mulokozi because evidence in the case didn’t prove criminal conduct.

The girl disclosed details of her encounter with Mulokozi during an interview at Child Safe of Central Missouri.

She said she had been seeing Mulokozi for counseling once every two weeks at the rectory. The girl described the priest as her guidance counselor and a person she trusted, according to police documents.

On May 10, 2015, they stood up to leave at the end of a session, and the girl put out her hand for a handshake. Mulokozi pulled her in for an embrace, saying, “No, I want a hug,” according to SPD documents.

The girl said in her interview that Mulokozi had hugged her before but “not like that.”

“At that point in the interview, (the girl) started crying,” according to police documents. “(She) then exclaimed, ‘Why did he hug me that way? It was dirty.’”

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Spain Moves to Extend Statute of Limitations for Child Abuse

The Globe Post

December 29, 2018

Spain’s cabinet approved a draft law on Friday which will extend the statute of limitations for cases of physical or sexual abuse of children.

Under the bill the statute of limitations for these types of crimes would begin when the victim turns 30, instead of 18 as it currently stands under Spanish law, the government said in a statement.

The proposed change to the criminal code, which still has to be approved by parliament, would affect sexual crimes, physical abuse, human trafficking and attempted murder.

Why This Matters
Campaigners have long argued that many victims take years to digest the abuse they have suffered and report it, meaning that in many cases the offenders cannot be prosecuted.

The bill also includes “a broad definition of violence that encompasses any type of physical, emotional or psychological abuse, including corporal punishment or neglect,” the statement added.

The proposed law also includes new crimes committed online such as incitement to commit suicide, commit sexual crimes or encourage bulimia or other eating disorders.

The government also said it plans to tighten the rules granting conditional release or temporary exit permits from jail for people serving time for sexual assaults against minors.

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Lawsuit: Former Cobb priest sexually abused boy during previous church assignment

MARIETTA (GA)
Marietta Daily Journal

December 28, 2019

By Jon Gargis

A former altar boy is suing the Cobb-based Catholic Archdiocese of Atlanta alleging that church officials remained silent over the sexual abuse he and others suffered over the span of several decades.

The suit filed by a man using the placeholder name “Phillip Doe” claims that he had been sexually molested by his priest, Father J. Douglas Edwards, in the 1970s. While Edwards’ long career in the archdiocese saw him last serve at St. Catherine of Siena Catholic Church in Kennesaw from 1987 to 1989, the alleged acts of molestation occurred while Edwards was the priest at St. Joseph’s Catholic Church in Dalton.

Edwards had a house on Lake Allatoona in Acworth, to which “he took groups of boys” from the Dalton church, the suit alleges, including the complainant, who claims to have been molested by Edwards about eight to 10 times from at least 1976 through 1978 during his service as an altar boy from about age 12 to 15.

“As a result of the sexual abuse, Plaintiff has throughout his life suffered from a variety of emotional and psychological problems including but not limited to embarrassment, shame, anger and depression. Plaintiff also experienced a loss of faith and spirituality which were bedrocks of his life prior to the abuse,” the lawsuit states.

Edwards died in 1997, the archdiocese previously announced.

The suit goes on to allege that St. Joseph’s Catholic Church, the archdiocese and its chief executive, Archbishop Wilton D. Gregory, have known about priests such as Edwards but “actively concealed the identities of sexual predators and allowed them to remain in unsuspecting communities, exposed to innocent children, for decades.”

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Time Is Up To Revoke Honorary Degrees Given To McCarrick And Wuerl

WASHINGTON (DC)
The Georgetown Voice

December 28, 2018

As a prominent Catholic institution, Georgetown has the capability and responsibility to take public, tangible action to address the clerical sex abuse crisis; yet the university has failed to use its power to do so. On Sept. 10, we published an editorial that called for Georgetown to revoke the honorary degrees of Cardinals Donald Wuerl and Theodore McCarrick, two former archbishops of Washington, D.C., who are closely implicated in the Catholic Church’s sexual abuse crisis. Three months after this editorial and despite determined student activism, the university has neither stripped the men of their degrees nor communicated with students on any decision around this subject. With the recent report from the Maryland Province Society of Jesus revealing more connections between Georgetown and this crisis, the university has run out of time to take clear and visible action denouncing predator priests and those who cover them and must immediately revoke Wuerl and McCarrick’s honorary degrees.

In an email to the student body on Dec. 17, university President John DeGioia wrote that four Jesuits who had been accused of sexual abuse of minors in the aforementioned report spent time at Georgetown, although none of the incidents occurred on campus. In that email, DeGioia also wrote: “Our community will continue our work to respond to this moment through dialogue, reflection, and action.” With varying degrees of success, the university has engaged students in dialogue and reflection in its “Dahlgren Dialogue” series and “Liturgy of Music and Prayer for Repentance” events. Action, the most crucial part of the three steps DeGioia outlined, is sorely lacking.

Last summer, allegations became public that McCarrick, archbishop of D.C. in the early 2000s, had abused men and boys for decades. The Vatican removed him from public ministry and the pope accepted his resignation from the College of Cardinals in July. Within two months of McCarrick’s resignation, six of Georgetown’s Catholic peer institutions, Fordham University, Catholic University, University of Portland, St. Bonaventure University, College of New Rochelle, and Siena College all revoked their honorary degrees they granted to McCarrick. Notre Dame did not rescind theirs, but their university president sent an email within one month of McCarrick’s resignation explaining that the university would wait for the Vatican’s trial to conclude to make their decision about the degree.

A report released by the Pennsylvania Attorney General a month later revealed that Cardinal Wuerl, then the bishop of Pittsburgh, had protected abusers by re-assigning them to new parishes and covering up allegations. Pope Francis accepted his resignation as D.C.’s archbishop on Oct. 12. The university has now had months to discuss and reflect on these revelations, but has shown no true action.

The GUSA senate passed a unanimous resolution urging for the revocation of the degrees on Oct. 28. Throughout the semester, student activists have met with university administrators to share concerns and receive updates about Georgetown’s discussions surrounding the degrees. Grace Laria (SFS ’19), one of these students, said the group has been informed that the university’s board of directors is actively debating the issue, but that it has not yet come to a conclusion. One of the reasons given was that Georgetown had never revoked a degree before. However, neither had our neighbor Catholic University until they rescinded the one given to McCarrick, who was a student and later chancellor of the university while he was archbishop of D.C.

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Catholic abuse victims face new obstacle

PHILADELPHIA (PA)
Philadelphia Inquirer

December 28, 2018

It is hard to imagine how the Catholic Church and its many individual dioceses would find a way to add insult to the injuries of victims of predator priests beyond what they have already accomplished through their decades of covering up and mishandling the scandal. But they have.

Last month, after the bombshell grand jury report in August about widespread abuse across the state, several dioceses announced they have set up victim compensation funds. These “reconciliation and reparation funds” are intended to compensate those whose claims do not fall within the civil statute of limitations.

These funds have been debated for years, and many see the church’s insistence on them as a way to avoid the true reform that’s needed: allowing a window of time to allow older victims of abuse to sue, and eliminating the criminal and civil statutes of limitations going forward. These reforms have been a hot political potato since 2006, when District Attorney Lynne Abraham released another grand jury report focused on abuses in Philadelphia. State lawmakers ultimately dropped that potato, failing to enact these necessary reforms before leaving Harrisburg for a long break.

Last month, the Archdiocese of Philadelphia announced it had opened a victim compensation fund and would being making settlements. But according to an Inquirer report last week, about a quarter of those filing claims of being abused were told they were not entitled to compensation because the priests in question were from independent religious orders, such as Franciscans or Jesuits — not the diocese. Even though these priests were in the schools and parishes where abuse happened, performing their ministries under the auspices of the church and diocese, they do not fall under the “administrative umbrella” of parish priests.

Various online forums attempt to explain the difference between the two kinds of priests. The major difference is the kind of vows they take, and geography: A diocesan priest is committed to live attached to a parish, and the other doesn’t. Both, notably, take vows of chastity or celibacy. If you’re a child who is taught that all priests carry moral and spiritual authority, these are differences without a distinction.

Most tragically, both kinds of priests are capable of abuse.

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This Pope needs a reality check in 2019

ALBUQUERQUE (NM)
Albuquerque Journal

December 29th, 2018

By Diane Dimond

During this holiest of Christian seasons, who could ignore the latest statements of Pope Francis speaking about the festering child sex abuse scandal within his church? In a Christmas address, he spoke of priests who “prey like wolves on their flock” and a clergy “ready to devour innocent souls.”

“To those who abuse minors, I would say this,” the Pope declared. “Convert and hand yourself over to human justice, and prepare for divine justice.”

Some saw the Pope’s words as stern and definitive. I saw them as a public relations move and a mealy-mouthed response to criminals who have been protected by the Catholic Church for way too long. Does the Pope truly think offending priests are going to suddenly march themselves down to the closest cop-shop and confess everything? Get real.

As Anne Doyle, of BishopAccountablilty.org – a group that tracks clergy sex abuse cases – put it, “In commanding child molesters to turn themselves in, Francis is pretending. He’s pretending that sick men can suddenly see the light.”

Priestly sex crimes against children are documented to have occurred for countless decades. Prosecutors in the U.S. and countries around the world have unmasked the felonious behavior of innumerable of these so-called “shepherds of Christ.” Yet, still, there are victims who are disbelieved or simply ignored by the very church in which they had worshipped.

Naturally, the Vatican isn’t asking for suggestions, but I’ve got some for the Pope if he’s interested in slowing America’s 60-year slide in Catholic church attendance.

Instead of shipping off predatory pedophilic priests to far-flung retreats in, say, New Mexico or Michigan – only to shuffle them off to other unsuspecting parishes after their “self-reflection” – how about the Pope order his cardinals, archbishops and bishops to gather up all the known clergy sinners and turn them in to authorities? That would finally put the imprimatur of the Church on the right side of this tragedy.

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NY archdiocese issued suitability letter for priest under abuse investigation

NEW YORK CITY (NY)
Catholic News Agency

December 28, 2018

By Ed Condon

The Archdiocese of New York told a California college this month that a local priest had never been accused of sexual abuse, even while the priest was being investigated by the archdiocese for several abuse charges. An administrator at the college called the letter “a lie,” and said she can no longer trust assurances from the archdiocese.

On Dec. 4, the New York archdiocese issued a letter stating “without qualification” that Fr. Donald Timone had “never been accused of any act of sexual abuse or misconduct involving a minor.”

In fact the archdiocese first received in 2003 an allegation that the priest had sexually abused minors, and it reached settlements with alleged victims in 2017.

The archdiocesan letter was received Dec. 13 by John Paul the Great University in Escondido, California, where Timone served. According to the university, the letter was not rescinded until after university officials contacted the Archdiocese of New York, following a Dec. 20 New York Times report on the history of allegations against Timone.

Allegations were first made against Timone in 2003 but they were dismissed as “unsubstantiated” by the archdiocese following an investigation by the archdiocesan review board. New allegations were made against the priest during a 2017 investigation by the Independent Reconciliation and Compensation Program of the Archdiocese of New York.

Last week, a spokesman for the Archdiocese of New York told CNA that the archdiocesan review board had reopened its formal investigation into Timone in early autumn 2018.

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Pope Francis failed to handle the sex abuse crisis in 2018. Let’s hope 2019 is different.

WASHINGTON (DC)
Washington Post

December 28, 2019

By Elizabeth Bruenig

Pope Francis did not have the year he thought he was going to have.

It began this way: marked by sniping about his reform tendencies, especially where Catholic Church teaching on the family is concerned. As the Vatican geared up for its 2018 synod assembly — a meeting of bishops from around the world who gather in Rome to advise the pope on different issues, this year on youth and vocations — talk that the 2014 and 2015 synod meetings on the family had been rigged in favor of a reformist agenda circulated among anti-Francis factions. Perhaps the Francis skeptics assumed they would get to press their case against the pope again when the October synod on youth came to pass. But even they couldn’t have predicted what sort of opportunities would present themselves in the meantime.

There have been plenty of those. Today, Francis’s pontificate wavers in the wake of the explosive reemergence of the sex abuse crisis. His popularity has dropped sharply among Americans at large. And though Catholics’ views of the pope are steadier, the faithful are suffering. The pope has been called upon to resign and likewise advised strongly against it.

Pope Francis has — for the most part, though with notable exceptions — said the right things about the crisis. But saying the right things about it is easy, and despite all the encouraging remarks, Francis has taken little action so far. In February he will convene a worldwide meeting of key bishops in Rome to generate actionable solutions to the disaster facing the church. Will it change anything?

A brief recap: After an investigation led by the Archdiocese of New York found accusations of minor sexual abuse against former cardinal Theodore McCarrick to be credible, McCarrick resigned from the College of Cardinals and Pope Francis ordered him into a life of prayer and penance, effectively banishing him from public life. A few weeks later, an explosive grand jury report from Pennsylvania revealed the disgusting, almost unthinkable extent of clergy sexual abuse and its coverup in the state, implicating several prelates, including then-archbishop of Washington Cardinal Donald Wuerl. Roughly a week later, Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano released a long testimonial accusing Francis himself of having known of McCarrick’s abuses and permitting him to continue in public ministry anyhow, loosening restrictions placed on him by Pope Benedict XVI in the process.

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Scandal impacts priestly ambition

SANDUSKY (OH)
Sandusky Register

December 29, 2018

ByTyler Boyd

Deliver us from evil. This should be our prayer as the Church endures the ongoing scandal resulting from clerical sex abuse. I never grew up in the Church not effected by the clerical sex abuse scandal. As I began discerning priesthood several years ago, I became the target of jokes, whispers and disapproval. I never thought, however, that in the years of my priestly formation the scandal could grow to what it is today. Revelations of clerical sex abuse have now reached the highest echelons of the Church. Even seminarians, young men discerning God’s will for their lives, were victims of abuse by the very men they trusted with their futures. Who could I trust?

One afternoon, after reading article after article about the extensive abuse, I asked myself why I was still studying to be a priest. The clerical collar, the badge of the Catholic priesthood, no longer looked noble but dirty. The parish no longer sounded like an oasis of prayer but a crime scene. I began to ask myself why I wanted to become a priest. What was my intention? Did I want the benefits of a priestly life? Did I want to escape the world that was seemingly falling apart around me? Did I have something to hide? Then in an illuminating moment, all of my fears and anxiety faded away.

I was reminded why I wanted to become a priest; I wanted to serve Jesus Christ and his Church. I wanted to be a medic on the battlefield of life, binding the wounds left by sin, carrying my brothers and sisters into the safety of the Father’s arms. This was my vocation, and no sin of any priest or bishop could stop me from pursuing that purpose that God had created me for. Today I look at this crisis and I see the pain and suffering, but I recognize it as a call to arms. As a man studying for priesthood I must “put on the whole armor of God” (Ephesians 6:11) because as an earthy ambassador of Jesus Christ “it is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me” (Galatians 2:20).

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Editorial: Investigar los abusos

[Editorial: Investigate church abuses]

SPAIN
El País

December 22, 2018

La Conferencia Episcopal Española debería seguir el camino marcado por el Papa y acabar con la impunidad

Con mucha más lentitud de lo que la gravedad de los hechos exige y de forma aún parcial e insuficiente, comienzan a verse signos de rectificación en la Iglesia católica española en relación al escándalo de los abusos de menores. El más importante es la decisión de la orden de los jesuitas en Cataluña de abrir una investigación interna que permita depurar los casos de abusos a menores en sus instituciones. La Compañía de Jesús y Jesuitas Educación han respondido así a las informaciones publicadas por este diario que afectaban a la orden, en particular el caso de un profesor del colegio de Sant Ignasi de Barcelona que en 1992 fue condenado a dos años de cárcel, que no llegó a cumplir, por haber abusado de una niña y murió en Bolivia en 2017 sin que se hubiera abierto un proceso canónico. La orden no solo salió en defensa del sacerdote cuando fue condenado, sino que al enviarlo a misiones le despidió con un homenaje. El encubrimiento fue la conducta habitual en la Iglesia en los casos que salían a la luz. Los jesuitas catalanes admiten ahora que no se valoró adecuadamente la gravedad de los hechos y piden perdón por ello.

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“Fue un año que la Iglesia dificilmente olvidará”: Conferencia Episcopal resume el 2018 marcado por casos de abusos”

[“It was a year that the Church will hardly forget:” Episcopal Conference sums up 2018 marked by abuse cases]

SANTIAGO (CHILE)
Emol

December 27, 2018

By Tomás Molina J.

Expresiones repetidas de dolor y vergüenza, inéditas escenas de incautaciones y sanciones drásticas a obispos y sacerdotes chilenos”, fueron parte de los acontecimientos de los que dio cuenta el organismo religioso.

“Fue un año que la Iglesia en Chile difícilmente olvidará”. Así lo sostuvo la Conferencia Episcopal, organismo que publicó en su página web un resumen con los principales acontecimientos vividos por el clero durante un 2018 marcado por las investigaciones a los abusos sexuales a menores por parte de religiosos y la visita del Papa Francisco al país.

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Juan Carlos Cruz tras declarar casi 4 horas en la Fiscalía: “No me extrañaría que Ezzati o Errázuriz terminen en la cárcel”

[Juan Carlos Cruz after testifying for almost 4 hours in prosecutor’s office: “I would not be surprised if Ezzati or Errázuriz end up in jail”]

CHILE
El Mostrador

December 27, 2018

Junto a José Andrés Murillo, aportaron a la Fiscalía de Rancagua una serie de antecedentes sobre el “patrón de conducta” de los cardenales Ricardo Ezzati y Francisco Javier Errázuriz. La investigación del encubrimiento montado en la plana mayor de la Iglesia católica se mantuvo por años bajo la alfombra, pero un hito que reveló cómo operaba esta maquinaria fue develado por El Mostrador en 2015, con un reportaje que mostró el intercambio de correos secretos entre Ezzati y Errázuriz y las operaciones que ambos urdían en conjunto.

Por casi 4 horas declararon en la Fiscalía de Rancagua Juan Carlos Cruz y José Andrés Murillo, dos de las víctimas del Fernando Karadima, en el marco de la investigación que lleva adelante el Ministerio Público por encubrimiento de abusos sexuales que involucra a los cardenales Ricardo Ezzati y Francisco Javier Errázuriz.

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Obispo emérito de Ancud: “Muchos no le hallan sentido a la Iglesia dentro de la realidad”

[Bishop emeritus of Ancud: “Many do not find meaning in the Church in their real lives”]

CHILE
La Tercera

December 22, 2018

By María José Navarrete

El prelado Juan Luis Ysern acaba de ser designado por los jesuitas para investigar los eventuales nuevos delitos del sacerdote Jaime Guzmán.

“Mi papel, como delegado del superior general de la Compañía de Jesús, P. Arturo Sosa SJ, es investigar sobre la posibilidad de otros delitos”. Así, directo, se expresa el obispo emérito de Ancud, Juan Luis Ysern, respecto del encargo que asumió esta semana, en relación con el jesuita Jaime Guzmán.

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La semana que remeció a la Iglesia chilena

[The week that shook the Chilean Church]

CHILE
La Tercera

December 28, 2018

By Juan Paulo Iglesias, Editor in Chief

“Este Papa acostumbra a hacer cosas imprevistas”. Cuando habló tras aterrizar en el aeropuerto Fuimicino de Roma, el 12 de mayo, había cierto desconcierto en el tono del cardenal Francisco Javier Errázuriz. Inicialmente no tenía previsto asistir a la convocatoria hecha por el Papa a todos los obispos chilenos. En su calidad de emérito, parecía considerar innecesaria su presencia. Pero un llamado de último minuto lo obligó a embarcarse de urgencia. El Papa quería que estuviera todo el episcopado chileno. Errázuriz, como varios obispos, no parecían entender por qué. “Esto que llame a todos los obispos es muy raro”, comentó algo más relajado al llegar a Roma. “Da la idea de que la Iglesia chilena está muy mal”.

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Opinión: No los abandonemos

[Opinion: Let’s not abandon them]

CHILE
La Tercera

December 28, 2018

By Vinka Jackson and James Hamilton

La visita papal marcó un comienzo de 2018 desde las voces de una sociedad civil que expresó su indignación ante abusos sexuales masivos de niños y jóvenes perpetrados y encubiertos por la iglesia católica. La demanda por verdad, justicia y reparación ya no provenía sólo de víctimas y sobrevivientes, sino también de miles de familias, ciudadanos de distintas edades, y también de sacerdotes y religiosas no agresores. El abuso sexual infantil es transversal y del mismo modo necesita ser enfrentado por todos, juntos.

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Catholic Dioceses of Michigan Under Investigation

MICHIGAN
The Legal Examiner

December 28, 2018

By David Mittleman

The Michigan Attorney General’s office announced earlier this year it was joining several other states in investigating allegations of sexual abuse and assault of children and others by Catholic priests from the 1950s till today. All 7 Michigan Catholic Dioceses are being investigated. Bishop Earl Boyea of the Lansing Diocese welcomed the investigation. Church members formed a coalition, and asked the Lansing Bishop for transparency during the investigation. As of October, more than 150 tips were called into a hotline. I don’t know when the final report will be published, but I predict that it will not paint the Michigan Catholic Dioceses as a very pretty picture. Will it be as bad or worse than Pennsylvania, New York, Minnesota, California? Probably.

This prediction is not made on any inside information. But I have seen the movie. In 2010 Greg Guggemos retained me to represent him against the Lansing Diocese to hold them accountable because of what a priest did to him 50 years earlier when he was 5 years old at St. Vincent Orphanage. Greg explained the reason he went public after settling his case with the Catholic Diocese of Lansing for 2 reasons, “One, he hopes if there are other victims, they will have the courage to come forward. Secondly, he hopes Michigan law will change and the statute of limitations will increase so other victims will have their day in court.” Greg has been published in many newspapers and encourages everyone to watch the movie Spotlight.

I couldn’t agree more with Greg. His bravery and courage to come forward, remembering the unthinkable, and the settlement led to me interviewing almost 50 people, mostly men, who all had similar stories to tell me. So I know. I am willing to help. It is part of the process.

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Priest abuse is top religion story of 2018

ABILENE (TX)
Abilene Reporter News

December 28, 2018

By Doug Mendenhall

When weighing the size of a story, journalists consider how big a change it represents.

Like, a year ago, both the Religion News Association collectively and me – a single RNA member – voted that the top religion story should be the support of evangelical Christians for President Trump, because that represented a huge change within both American political and religious landscapes.

Which is also why I voted this year that the top story should be the opposition of many religious leaders to Trump’s policies about immigration – because I saw that as just as huge a swing in the opposite direction.

RNA overall, though, went in a different direction, giving its top spot to a Pennsylvania grand jury’s report that accused 301 Catholic priests of abusing at least a thousand minors.

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Boy’s ‘extraordinary courage’ helps unmask man of cloth in sexual abuse case

NAVAL, BILIRAN (PHILIPPINES)
Inquirer.net

December 28, 2018

By Danny Petilla

After years of being sexually abused by an American Roman Catholic priest, a 12-year-old boy is leading the fight against pedophilia in a remote village here where his older brother and many of their friends are also victims.

Police officials here said JVA (the boy’s alias in the criminal complaint) convinced his 22-year-old brother, known in the same complaint as CV, and several other former altar boys who are now of legal age to come out and charge the 77-year-old priest, Kenneth Bernard Pius Hendricks, of sexually abusing them for many years.

“The courage and bravery of this boy is extraordinary. He is the reason why we have this case,” said SPO3 Venus Abrigo, chief of the Women and Children Protection (WCP) desk of the Naval Police Station.

The boy, who is now in Grade 6 here, is said to idolize Coco Martin’s character in the popular television series “Ang Probinsyano.”

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Priest faces child abuse raps; Palma makes a public apology for priest’s ‘unkind’ behavior

PHILIPPINES
Cebu Daily News

December 28,2018

By Delta Dyrecka Letigio

The parish priest of the Nativity of Mary Parish in Barangay Canduman, Mandaue City, who has been jailed for hitting his household cook’s daughter will not be able to get away from the charges of child abuse despite the mother backing off from the case.

The mother of the 15-year-old victim, who could not be named being the mother of a minor, told Cebu Daily News that she would no longer pursue the charges against Rev. Fr. Decoroso Olmilla, as the situation has been aggravated by the spread of “false” rumors online.

“Dili man unta ko ganahan makahibawo ang daghang tawo. Apan daghan na kaayo ninggawas sa Facebook nga mga storya-storya (I did not want a lot of people to know. However, many stories have spread on Facebook),” she said on a phone call.

She clarified that the situation was not as grave as has been reported and that her daughter was not “beaten” by the priest but was “only hit a few times.”

PO1 Jinelyn Formentera of the Women’s and Child Welfare Desk of the Canduman Police Station said the 15-year-old daughter of Olmilla’s cook has accused the priest of physical and verbal abuse.

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33 Alaska clergy & volunteers named in sexual abuse report

ANCHORAGE (AK)
KTUU

December 27, 2018

By Kalinda Kindle

Decades of past abuse were published in a December 7th report ‘Credible Claims of Sexual Abuse of a Minor or Vulnerable Adult.’ by the Jesuits West Province. In that report, 33 of the claims identify Alaska clergy and volunteers as perpetrators of sexually abusing children.

Jesuits West said its list is the province’s ongoing commitment to transparency and accountability. Many of the claims were made after an accused priest was deceased. Those cases were not able to be investigated, according to the Jesuit West Providence.

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Monsignor Murrough Wallace facing accusations of sexual abuse

TAHOE (CA)
South Tahoe Now

December 27, 2018

By Paula Peterson

Monsignor Murrough Wallace, who served the South Lake Tahoe community at the St. Theresa Parish from 1993 to 2003, has been accused by a man who said Wallace and another priest sexually abused him in 1985 when he was 17.

The accuser, known as John Doe in court documents, said he was volunteering at Camp Pendola when the alleged abuse took place.

Due to the allegations, Wallace, who is now 82 and retired, had to withdraw from ministry until more facts could be gathered, according to Bishop Soto of the Sacramento Diocese.

Mr. Doe has also accused the late Monsignor Vito Mistretta of sexually assaulting him while rehearsing for prayer at Holy Family two months after the initial allegation at the camp. Mistretta died in 2009.

The Diocese has asked Mr. Doe and his attorney for additional information so that they can investigate the situation.

Father Michael Vaughan, vicar general at the Catholic Diocese of Sacramento, released this statement:

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Your thoughts on the difference between ‘church’ and ‘hierarchy’

KANSAS CITY (MO)
National Catholic Reporter

December 27, 2018

Reader responses were in support of making a clear distinction between the word “church” and the word “hierarchy.” First read the original argument from Jesuit Fr. Thomas Reese. The following letters to the editor have been edited for length and clarity.

***

Thank you, Jesuit Fr. Thomas Reese, for a somewhat clarifying article about the use of the word church. It has to be used carefully.

The same is true of the word father. No priest is officially a father in the Catholic Church unless he came into the Roman Catholic Church from the Episcopalian church. Let us do it like some other countries and use the word Reverend or just Mr. or by first name.

It is time to change.

ELIZABETH AVERILL
Madison, Wisconsin

***

I write to support Jesuit Fr. Thomas Reese acknowledging that he and too many others too often use the word “church” when they ought to be using the word “hierarchy.” For a long time, I have been preaching and teaching that the major problems in our church are problems of the hierarchy and not of the “People of God,” including all the baptized.

The recent highlighting of the coverup of the sex abuse in the church reaffirmed my conviction about this. A bishop was proposing that the church needs to ask forgiveness for our failings. I said “No, it is not the church, it is the hierarchy of our church that needs to ask forgiveness. Do not lump the failings and sins of bishops and priests with the rest of the church.”

Another example is the “church’s teaching on birth control.” No, it is the hierarchy’s teaching on birth control. A long time ago the vast majority of lay members of the church came to a different understanding of the place of birth control.

I hope that NCR and your writers will be careful to make that distinction. It may even help to encourage some lay people to see their rightful place in the church.

(Fr.) LOUIS ARCENEAUX, CM
New Orleans, Louisiana

***

Thank you. This is immensely important not just for writers but for lay people. I will do my best to follow his advice. Old habits die hard. Blessings to all

ADDIE STREETER
Portland Oregon

***

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Catholic Church Used Bankruptcy for Sexual-Assault Cases. Now Others Are Following Suit.

NEW YORK (NY)
The Wall Street Journal

December 27, 2018

By Tom Corrigan

USA Gymnastics, Boy Scouts of America explore chapter 11 to handle victims’ claims

The Archdiocese of Portland was the first to do it. Three months later the Roman Catholic Diocese in Tucson, Ariz., followed suit and three months after that the diocese in Spokane, Wash., did it, too.

They all filed for bankruptcy and since then more than 15 other Catholic dioceses and religious orders have filed for bankruptcy to seek protection from lawsuits by sexual-assault victims, resulting in about 4,000 claims seeking compensation for past wrongdoing.

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Spacey attorney challenges Nantucket accuser’s credibility

NANTUCKET (MA)
Cape Cod Times

December 27, 2018

By Wheeler Cowperthwaite

Recording of court hearing shows questions focused on teen’s behavior.

The video that allegedly shows Kevin Spacey sexually assaulting a teenager on Nantucket in 2016 lasts only a second or less, according to testimony at the show-cause hearing where the actor was charged with indecent assault and battery.

The Dec. 20 hearing in front of Clerk-Magistrate Ryan Kearney featured testimony solely from state police Trooper Gerald Donovan.

The accuser, who was 18 at the time of the alleged incident, appeared in the courtroom but was asked to leave, in keeping with court procedures, according to a recording of the hearing created by Nantucket District Court staff.

During the hearing, Spacey, 59, also referred to by his real name of Kevin Fowler, was represented by Boston attorney Juliane Balliro and Los Angeles attorney Alan Jackson. The prosecution was represented by Donovan, and no prosecutors with the Cape and Islands District Attorney’s Office appear on the recording.

Jackson did not return a call Thursday seeking comment.

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Here’s where several high profile Lansing court cases stand in the justice system

LANSING (MI)
Lansing State Journal

December 27, 2018

By Kara Berg

2018 has been a busy year in the Lansing-area courts. With disgraced former Michigan State University sports doctor Larry Nassar’s January sentencing hearing, and the whirlwind of chaos that followed his case, it’s easy to get lost.

Here’s some cases you may have forgotten about, and where they stand in the justice system.

Rev. Jonathan Wehrle
The trial for a retired priest accused of stealing more than $5 million from an Okemos church is on hold as the priest’s attorneys appeal a decision Ingham County Circuit Court Judge Joyce Draganchuk made.

Rev. Jonathan Wehrle is charged with six felony counts of embezzlement of $100,000 or more. Draganchuk pushed his trial back to at least January after Wehrle’s original attorney withdrew in July. It’s not clear when his trial will begin. He has no pending court dates.

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ABUSE VICTIM TESTIFIES AGAINST MCCARRICK IN NEW YORK

NEW YORK (NY)
ChurchMilitant.com

December 27, 2018

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

James Grein: ‘I cried, worse than I’ve ever cried before’

(caution: graphic content)
James Grein, the victim on whom Abp. Theodore McCarrick preyed for 18 years, gave his sworn testimony of abuse in the archdiocese of New York Thursday.

In emotional testimony that lasted just under 45 minutes, Grein met with Fr. Richard L. Welch, judicial vicar for the archdiocese, at the chancery office on 1011 First Avenue Thursday morning. Although Grein’s attorney was present as well as two canon lawyers in Albany representing McCarrick, no one was allowed to speak but Grein and Welch, who had been assigned directly by the Holy See to take down the testimony. An unnamed priest was also present at the meeting to ensure the session was conducted fairly and properly.

“He was there to listen, and not to twist and turn anything,” Grein told Church Militant, speaking of Welch. “He was there to gather information for the Holy See. Period.”

During the session, Welch told Grein he’d been following him ever since he went public with his testimony in The New York Times, reading about him and watching him at the Silence Stops Now rally and in other interviews. He told Grein he believed him.

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Church scandals that left SA shooketh in 2018

SOUTH AFRICA
Times Live

December 27, 2018

By Ntokozo Miya

WARNING: Graphic content. Not for sensitive readers

The rise of unregulated charismatic churches in South Africa has resulted in people being exposed to preachers who often dominate the headlines. And it’s not always good news.

Some problematic church practices led the Commission for the Promotion and Protection of Cultural, Religious and Linguistic Communities (CRL) to conclude that “there must be a regulatory framework”” to curb undignified and sometimes criminal activities in houses of God.

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Americans Trust Clergy Less Than Ever, Gallup Poll Finds

UNITED STATES
Huffington Post

December 26, 2018

By Carol Kuruvilla

Americans’ confidence in religious leaders’ honesty and ethical standards has been tanking in recent years.

The level of trust Americans have in clergy members has dropped to a record low, a recent Gallup survey suggests.

The polling organization found that only 37 percent of 1,025 respondents had a “very high” or “high” opinion of the honesty and ethical standards of clergy, according to a report published on Thursday. Forty-three percent rated clergy’s honesty and ethics as “average,” while 15 percent had low or very low opinions.

The 37 percent positive rating is the lowest Gallup has recorded for clergy since it began examining views about religious leaders’ ethical standards in 1977.

Currently, only 31 percent of Catholics and 48 percent of Protestants rate the clergy positively, according to Gallup.

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Pennsylvania priest sent to prison after guilty plea in abuse case

WASHINGTON (DC)
Catholic News Service

December 27, 2018

By Dennis Sadowski

A priest who once served in the Diocese of Greensburg, Pennsylvania, was sentenced to prison for sexually molesting a boy in the 1990s.

Father John T. Sweeney, 76, received a sentence of 11 months to five years in state prison and must register as a sex offender for 10 years, a judge in Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania, said Dec. 21.

The priest pled guilty in July to misdemeanor indecent assault on a minor after he was accused of abusing a 10-year-old boy while counseling him about misbehaving on a school bus.

Fr. Sweeney, who retired in 2016, is the first priest convicted of charges stemming from a Pennsylvania grand jury investigation that focused on allegations of abuse. He was arrested in July 2017 for the incident that occurred during the 1991-92 school year at St. Margaret Mary School in Lower Burrell, about 25 miles northeast of Pittsburgh.

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Amid church’s abuse crisis, music can unite the faithful, says composer

IJAMSVILLE (MD)
Catholic News Service

December 27, 2018

By Emily Rosenthal

“How can we pray when we feel betrayed?”

The song continues, offering more questions, but no answers.

“How Can We Pray?” was written by Zachary Stachowski, director of music ministry at St. Ignatius of Loyola in Ijamsville, Maryland, moved by the anger he felt immediately after the Pennsylvania grand jury report on clergy sexual abuse was released in mid-August.

After posting the sheet music to his personal Facebook page, nearly 300 people reacted, 67 commented and 80 shared, including the pages of national music organizations such as the National Association of Pastoral Musicians.

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Clergy abuse claims

PITTSBURGH (PA)
Pittsburgh Post Gazette

December 28, 2018

Plain­tiff at­tor­neys like Rich­ard Serbin have ev­ery bit as much vested in­ter­est in how clergy abuse claims are dealt with as does the church hi­er­ar­chy (Dec. 21 op-ed, “Church Pay­off Plans Don’t Pass the Smell Test”). But both sides claim to be think­ing pri­mar­ily of vic­tims’ wel­fare.

Law­suits are a huge cash cow for plain­tiff at­tor­neys. The bish­ops are con­cerned about scan­dal, pos­si­ble crim­i­nal li­a­bil­ity and the spec­ter of bank­ruptcy. Nei­ther in­ter­est group points out that there is no rea­son both op­tions should not be open to vic­tims, who could choose which bet­ter suits their needs — court pro­ceed­ings or di­rect rep­a­ra­tion pay­ments — both with­out non-dis­clo­sure agree­ments, leav­ing the par­ties free to pub­lish what they wish about what has tran­spired.

There should be two ro­bust paths for vic­tims to seek rep­a­ra­tions for the dam­age in­flicted upon them. It’s the least we can do.

LINDA HALLER
Mt. Leb­a­non

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Pope’s response to sex abuse imperils legacy

VATICAN CITY
The Associated Press

December 27, 2018

By Nicole Winfield

Analysis: Francis’ early missteps weakened his moral authority

It has been a wretched year for Pope Francis, whose blind spot on clergy sex abuse conspired with events beyond his control to threaten his legacy and throw the Catholic hierarchy into a credibility crisis not seen in modern times.

The latest development — a high-profile verdict in a faraway country — cements the impression that Francis simply didn’t “get it” when he first became pope in 2013 and began leading the church.

Early missteps included associating with compromised cardinals and bishops and downplaying or dismissing rumors of abuse and cover-up. Francis finally came around in 2018, when he publicly admitted he was wrong about a case in Chile, made amends, and laid the groundwork for the future by calling an abuse prevention summit next year.

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Opinion: A Radical Response to Church Sex Abuse

NEW YORK (NY)
The New York Times

December 25, 2018

A reader says the Catholic church belongs to the faithful, not the hierarchy.

To the Editor:

Re “Dioceses Across U.S. Are Releasing Lists of Priests Accused of Sex Abuse” (news article, Dec. 15):

Let’s call it what it is: The bishops and cardinals of the Roman Catholic Church for decades have been aiding and abetting the rapists of children, rapists who are in their ranks and among the priests who report to them. Let’s not talk of sin and canon law.

These are crimes punishable by law, including potential prison time. Thank God for the attorneys general of several states who are now in pursuit of those responsible for these heinous crimes against young people and those who have covered up for them.

The church belongs to the faithful, not to the hierarchy. If the Catholic Church were a secular organization, a board would have kicked management out and turned over all of its records to law firms and the authorities to prosecute every wrongdoer.

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Keep the pressure on: Civil authorities must vigilantly investigate church sex scandal

WATERTOWN (NY)
Watertown Daily Times

December 28, 2018

Information released last week by the attorney general of Illinois should guide officials in other states, including New York, as they investigate the sexual abuse scandal within the Roman Catholic Church.

“A scathing report from Attorney General Lisa Madigan finds the number of Catholic priests accused of sexual abuse against children in Illinois is much higher than previously acknowledged. The report said accusations have been leveled against 690 priests while Catholic officials have publicly identified only 185 clergy with credible allegations against them,” according to a story published Dec. 20 by the Chicago Tribune. “The determination is part of a preliminary report made public Wednesday by Madigan’s office, which has been investigating Catholic clergy sexual abuse of minors following revelations during the summer of widespread abuse and cover-ups by Catholic officials in Pennsylvania. The report was critical of the six Catholic dioceses that govern parishes across Illinois for their lack of transparency and flawed investigations. Although the report says that ‘Clergy sexual abuse of minors in Illinois is significantly more extensive than the Illinois dioceses previously reported,’ it does not estimate how many of the allegations against the 690 clergy should have been deemed credible. Some of the allegations go back decades.”

A report released in August revealed numerous incidents of abuse by more than 300 priests in Pennsylvania. The report, issued by a grand jury, covers six dioceses — which represent 54 of the state’s 67 counties. Pennsylvania’s other two dioceses were previously investigated by other grand juries.

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Letters To The Editor: End statute of limitations and report church involvement in sex abuse

NEW LONDON (CT)
The Day

December 27, 2018

I’m a retired New Haven detective with 27 years of service following Army military police duty.

The perpetrator of sexual abuse of a child was pursued by my colleagues and me with the intent of putting the felon away for years so another child would not become a victim. I and most did not know the influence of the Catholic Church to make prosecution disappear. It’s taken the likes of The Day reporter Joe Wojtas, “Norwich diocese will release names of priests accused of sexual assault” (Dec. 21), and others to continue to educate the public to the extent of these vicious criminals and the responsible organization and individuals.

What is needed is for Connecticut legislators to eliminate the statute of limitations when it comes to the sexual abuse of a child and provide the tools and support for the prosecution of these offenders. The defensive posture of the Catholic Church on this issue must be exposed.

I called to initiate a one-year digital subscription of The Day.

Keep up the good work.

Tom Morrissey, Jr.
Cheshire

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The Catholic Church scandal casts a shadow over the season. But Christmas is a time for hope.

WASHINGTON (DC)
The Washington Post

December 27, 2018

By Elizabeth Bruenig

Correction: An earlier version of this column incorrectly described the scope of a recent report by the Illinois attorney general into child sex abuse by Catholic priests. The report covered allegations that had gone unreported in Illinois, not just in the archdiocese of Chicago. This version has been updated.

Somehow it doesn’t come as a surprise that the allegations of sexual misconduct that finally brought down former cardinal and archbishop emeritus of Washington, Theodore McCarrick, happened at Christmastime. When he was removed from ministry in June, McCarrick stood accused of molesting a teenage boy while measuring him for a cassock for a special Christmas service in 1971, according to the victim, and then again in 1972, during preparations for that year’s Christmas service. Was there ever a faith for McCarrick other than opportunity?

Once the archdiocese of New York declared those allegations credible, other claims poured forth: The portrait that has emerged suggests McCarrick had been perpetrating sexual abuse against boys and young men for years, without a hitch in his rise through the ranks of the church. Shortly thereafter, McCarrick was moved to a friary on the lonely plains of Kansas.

It was around that time I started receiving emails from despondent Catholics in the D.C. area. McCarrick hadn’t been an anonymous priest, after all; he had been a major public figure, and the revelations about him were as shocking as they were plentiful. Some of the messages I received spoke of a loss of faith, despair, feelings of anger, confusion, emptiness. “There is little encouragement in the constant drama,” one wrote. “They have forgotten the quote, ‘What does it profit a man to gain the world and lose his soul?’ ” And another: “To say that my faith is being tested is an understatement. I’m trying my best now to just work and dedicate myself to truth.” And yet another: “The silence from the Vatican is deafening.” There were so many more. I printed a packet of them and took them along with me when I interviewed former close associates of McCarrick, so I could read some of them aloud. None of those conversations yielded anything, not even a hint of guilt.

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Year in review: US bishops take on abuse, cover-ups

WASHINGTON (DC)
Catholic News Service

December 27, 2018

By Carol Zimmermann

2018 will no doubt be remembered as a dark time for the U.S. Catholic Church.

Catholics felt betrayed by church leaders accused of sexual misconduct and cover-up revealed this summer and this cloud still hung over the church at the year’s end.

In June, allegations were made against then-Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, retired archbishop of Washington, accused of sexually abusing a minor almost 50 years ago and having sexual contact with seminarians while he was a bishop in New Jersey.

A month later, Pope Francis accepted McCarrick’s resignation from College of Cardinals and suspended him from public ministry, ordering him to a “life of prayer and penance” until the accusations against him were examined in a canonical trial.

The archbishop, who has denied the allegations, now lives in a Capuchin Franciscan friary in Victoria, Kansas.

Since these allegations came to light, Catholic laity and church leaders, including bishops, have been asking who knew about the archbishop’s alleged misconduct and how was it possible for him to move up the ranks in church leadership.

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Cardinal Cupich visits Cook County Jail on Christmas, addresses church sex abuse scandal in Midnight Mass

CHICAGO (IL)
WLS

December 25, 2018

By Alexis McAdams

Cardinal Blase Cupich visited with inmates at the Cook County Jail and led a special mass there on Christmas Day.

The mass and visit was meant to give inmates hope and faith during the holiday season, even as they are locked up and away from their families.

The cardinal assured each inmate they are never too small or unimportant to make a difference.

“It is an opportunity to make sure that we widen the circle of human life and have more room at the table,” he said.

Each inmate had the chance to receive communion as Cardinal Cupich spoke about making small changes to better yourself and the world.

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Variety of intercourse abuse lawsuits towards Guam church nears 200

GUAM
Infosurhoy

December 27, 2018

By Denis Bedoya

Two more Catholic priests on Guam have been accused of sexual abuse, according to a 10 million dollar lawsuit filed this week.

Father Louis Brouillard and Antonio Cruz are accused of abusing the same boy in the 1970s.

Both priests are now dead.

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Jesuit list includes 33 priests accused of Alaska sexual abuse

ANCHORAGE (AK)
KTVA News

December 26, 2018

By Chris Klint

A regional Jesuit organization has cataloged dozens of priests with Alaska service accused of committing sexual abuse, many of them in cases which occurred during their time in the state.

A Dec. 7 listing from Jesuits West includes the names of 33 priests with Alaska service, 29 of whom are accused of sexually abusing minors. All but two of those men allegedly committed that abuse during their Alaska service; another four priests who served in Alaska faced unspecified allegations of abuse at some point during their careers.

Almost all of the listed priests have died, according to Jesuits West.

The list, compiled from records and bankruptcy filings of the Jesuits’ West Province and its former California and Oregon provinces, incorporates what it describes as “credible claims of sexual abuse of a minor or vulnerable adult, dating to 1950.” The group published the list, which includes many priests previously named in public sources, as “part of our province’s ongoing commitment to transparency and accountability.”

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Elizabeth Bruenig: ‘Amid the darkness of Church abuse, one shining star still gives us hope’

IRELAND
Independent

December 27, 2018

By Elizabeth Bruenig

Somehow it doesn’t come as a surprise that the allegations of sexual misconduct that finally brought down the former cardinal and archbishop emeritus of Washington, Theodore McCarrick, happened at Christmastime.

When he was removed from ministry in June, McCarrick stood accused of molesting a teenage boy while measuring him for a cassock for a special Christmas service in 1971, the victim alleged, and then again in 1972, during preparations for that year’s Christmas service. Was there ever a faith for McCarrick other than opportunity?

Once the archdiocese of New York declared those allegations credible, other claims poured forth: The portrait that has emerged suggests McCarrick had been perpetrating sexual abuse against boys and young men for years, without a hitch in his rise through the ranks of the Church. Shortly thereafter, McCarrick was moved to a friary on the lonely plains of Kansas.

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Editorial: The Guardian view on Catholic abuse: repent and confess

VATICAN CITY
The Guardian

December 23, 2018

Pope Francis has excoriated his enemies in the church. Is this a sign of weakness, or of strength?

Pope Francis gives an annual Christmas speech to his civil service in the Vatican and he wastes none of it on praising them. From his very first condemnation of their gossip, pride, and “spiritual Alzheimer’s” in 2014 he has found faults to pick with parts of the Roman Catholic church. This year, it was the turn of sexual abuse, a subject on which he has himself been squarely in the wrong before. As if making up for lost time, he gave one of the most ferocious denunciations of his own church’s past, and promised concrete measures and a new start. He even praised the journalists who brought these scandals to light, in the teeth of ecclesiastical denial and obstruction. He demanded that any priests guilty of abuse hand themselves over to the civil authorities, and prepare to face the justice of God as well. This is all excellent stuff and only about 20 years late.

The great problem for the church this century has not been the exposure of contemporary abuse so much as the exposure of the cover-ups of past abusers. Francis himself has been accused by his enemies of protecting a notorious abuser, Theodore McCarrick, once a powerful figure in the US church, whom he sacked as a cardinal in the summer. In fact, Mr McCarrick was the beneficiary of a long-standing Vatican policy of promoting effective fundraisers, and owed most of his rise to the sainted John Paul II. But several US states have published lists of hundreds of men credibly suspected of historic offences, but protected by bishops in the past; Francis’s own order, the Jesuits, is to engage in a similar reckoning with its past.

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THE LIST: These are the priests who were ‘credibly accused’ of sexual abuse across Alaska

ANCHORAGE (AK)
Anchorage Daily News

December 27, 2018

By Kyle Hopkins

Below is the full list of priests who were stationed in Alaska and have been credibly accused of sexual abuse, according to Jesuits West. This list has been supplemented with a report by the Diocese of Fairbanks that lists “all known individuals, including priests, religious, lay employees and volunteers against whom a complaint of sexual abuse has been filed by one or more individuals” and against whom the abuse has been proven, admitted or “credibly accused.”

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Alleged victim of Spacey sexual assault filmed part of incident

NEW YORK (NY)
AFP

December 26, 2018

A young man who accused Kevin Spacey of sexually assaulting him at a seaside restaurant near Boston in 2016 filmed part of the incident, according to court filings obtained by AFP.

The 59-year-old star of the “House of Cards” series, who has won two Oscars, is due to be formally charged on January 7 on the island of Nantucket with “indecent assault and battery on a person over 14 years of age.”

If found guilty, Spacey could face up to five years in jail.

The young man, identified as William Little and aged 18 at the time of the alleged assault in July 2016, told police he had sent messages, including a video, to his girlfriend via the Snapchat app from the “Club Car” restaurant in Nantucket, where he was working as a bus boy for the summer, according to the court filing.

He had remained in the bar after his shift had finished to see Spacey, of whom he was a fan.

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What’s next for Kevin Spacey? Perp walk awaits him on Nantucket next month

BOSTON (MA)
USA TODAY

December 26, 2018

By Maria Puente

Kevin Spacey has probably walked the last red carpet of his Oscar-winning career, but next month he’ll be doing a “perp walk” to a Massachusetts courthouse to face a sex-crime charge on Nantucket.

Spacey, 59, is due to be arraigned on Jan. 7 on a felony charge of indecent assault and battery in which he is accused of groping the then-18-year-old son of a Boston TV anchorwoman in a Nantucket restaurant bar in the summer of 2016.

Kevin Spacey Fowler (his real last name) will thus be forced to come out from wherever he’s been hiding since October 2017, when a string of men began coming forward to publicly accuse him of various kinds of sexual misconduct dating back decades and crossing jurisdictions from London to Los Angeles.

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There’s Video Evidence In Sexual Assault Case Against Kevin Spacey

BOSTON (MA)
The Huffington Post

December 26, 2018

By Andy Campbell

The felony sexual assault case against Kevin Spacey will include video evidence showing he attacked a young man at a bar in Nantucket in July 2016, according to a police report.

A Massachusetts State Police investigative report, obtained by MassLive.com, states that the victim in the case, the then-18-year-old son of Boston news anchor Heather Unruh, took a Snapchat video at the time that may prove Spacey groped him.

“[Unruh’s son] said the whole thing was embarrassing and has not had a ‘profound emotional effect’ on him,” Trooper Gerald F. Donovan wrote in the report. “[He] called the police because he doesn’t want what happened to him to happen to anyone else.”

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Exclusive: Former papal abuse commissioners want re-evaluation of group

ROME (ITALY)
National Catholic Reporter

December 27, 2018

By Joshua J. McElwee

Three former members of Pope Francis’ commission on clergy sexual abuse are calling on the pontiff’s February Vatican summit on child protection to reevaluate the structure of the group in order to make it more effective in pursuing policy reforms.

In separate NCR interviews, the former papal advisors emphasized the need for the commission to reassert its independence from the Vatican’s bureaucracy, to oversee implementation of its own recommendations, and to meet regularly with Francis.

Several outside experts with long histories in confronting clergy abuse echoed their concerns, and highlighted a lack of clarity and transparency over the purpose and objectives of the now four-year-old group.

Marie Collins, an Irish abuse survivor who resigned from the commission in 2017, said the role of the commission might merit special discussion at the February summit because the frustrations over its work exemplify how the Catholic Church has struggled for decades to address the abuse crisis.

“The commission itself is sort of a microcosm of the global issue … that work that’s being done doesn’t seem to produce results,” she said.

“We need clarity now about the commission, its purpose, its powers, its future, and exactly where it is going and what we can expect from it,” said Collins, who left the group in mid-2017 due to frustration with Vatican officials.

“People put a lot of hope into it, and it has failed to live up to the hope,” she added. “There should be some examination as to why.”

Related: Marie Collins: With Irish survivors, Francis said he’s not considering new accountability tribunal
Krysten Winter-Green, one of six commission members not reappointed by Francis in early 2018 after the end of the group’s first three-year term, said she doubted the summit would have the role of the commission on its agenda, but added: “As far as I am concerned, it really should be.”

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PBS NEWS HOUR

UNITED STATES
PBS

December 26, 2018

[Note: Church in Crisis segment begins around the 24 minute mark]

PBS NewsHour full episode

Airing: 12/27/18
Length: 53m 42s
Expires: 01/25/19
Rating: NR

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Letter: Leising did not waver, even under great pressure

BUFFALO (NY)
Buffalo News

December 26, 2018

I want to extend – on behalf of many – a warm and heartfelt welcome back to Msg. Frederick Leising, fondly known as Father Fred. In November of this year, the Buffalo Diocese placed Father Fred on administrative leave as a priest, due to an allegation of sexual misconduct that had been made against him. At the time, this seemed abundantly false and totally out of character for a man who has served so many so faithfully as a priest for 47 years, in his roles as teacher, pastor, celebrant, counselor and consoler. Thankfully, the diocese has expeditiously and fairly reviewed the case, and this week has removed him from administrative leave.

As a Catholic, I am appalled and heartsick over the predatory actions of those priests who abused their positions of authority and trust. It is shameful that bishops acted to protect the institutional church rather the innocents to whom such incalculable harm has been done.

Yet, in an effort to finally atone for the actions of pedophile priests, I am afraid that the Diocese of Buffalo may be erring on the side of caution in a way that can destroy the careers and reputations of good priests who may turn out to be innocent of charges made against them. If we really believe that someone in this country is innocent until proven guilty, we need to fully accept back into the community those who turned out to have been falsely charged.

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For the US church, 2018 was a story of both shame and sparkle

NEW YORK (NY)
Crux

December 27, 2018

By Christopher White

In what has been one of the darkest years in the history of the American Catholic Church, it may sound strange to speak of highlights.

Yet, as the storm clouds of the clerical sexual abuse crisis overshadowed much of 2018, and lingers into 2019, looking back on the past year reveals that while there were moments of shame and showdowns with the government, there were also a few moments in which a beleaguered Church managed to sparkle that are worth recounting, too.

1. “A Summer of Shame”
What began in June – when the archdiocese of New York revealed that then-Cardinal Theodore McCarrick had been credibly accused of a sexual abuse of a minor – has now erupted into a full-blown crisis.

The following month, further reports would emerge, revealing that McCarrick had serially abused seminarians during his years in Metuchen and Newark, New Jersey. Pope Francis would take the nearly unprecedented action of removing McCarrick from public ministry and accepting his resignation as a member of the College of Cardinals.

When a Pennsylvania grand jury report was released in August – chronicling seven decades of abuse of over 1,000 minors at the hands of more than 300 predator priests, it would prompt over a dozen states to announce they would begin similar undertakings, with federal authorities hinting that a national investigation may soon be announced.

Cardinal Donald Wuerl of Washington, D.C., one of the most powerful members of the U.S. hierarchy, would have his resignation accepted by Francis in October as a continuing part of the fallout from the Pennsylvania report from his time as bishop of Pittsburgh in the late 1980s and 1990s.

In November, the U.S. bishops gathered in Baltimore hoping to pass new standards and protocols for the accountability of bishops accused in sexual abuse or its cover-up. Their plans, however, were put on hold after a last minute intervention from the Vatican requesting that they wait until after a global summit on the topic in February to be held at the Vatican – extending a long summer of shame over sexual abuse, into what is looking to be a bleak winter.

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Proposed laws in Virginia and D.C. would require clergy to report sexual abuse

WASHINGTON (DC)
The Washington Post

December 26, 2018

By Michelle Boorstein

In response to recent Catholic Church clergy sex abuse scandals, lawmakers in the District of Columbia and Virginia say they will soon propose legislation that adds clergy to the list of people mandated by law to report child abuse or neglect.

Both efforts address the hot-button intersection of child protection and religious liberty, but lawmakers are expected to give them an open reception at a time when recent sexual abuse scandals in churches and others involving athletes have prompted conversation about broadening legal responsibility to extend beyond positions such as teachers and doctors.

The ideas under consideration by D.C. Attorney General Karl Racine include not exempting confidential conversations for any mandatory reporters, possibly including those that occur in the Catholic Church’s confessional. Texas, West Virginia and a few other states do not exclude the confessional in mandatory reporting laws, but it has been a stumbling block in many other places.

Under D.C. law, anyone 18 or over who knows or has reason to believe that a child under age 16 is a victim of sexual abuse is required to report it to civil officials. But the requirements of mandated reporters are more extensive, and Racine is considering taking them much further.

An eight-page presentation of key goals shared in recent weeks by Racine’s office with some D.C. faith groups proposed expanding the law to say mandated reporters must report suspected abuse, even if they don’t know the child themselves, or even if the child is now an adult. It also suggested requiring mandated reporters to tell their own boards of directors so their institutions become responsible, increases the penalties for people who don’t report and requests funding for training so mandatory reporters understand what that term obliges.

A few weeks after circulating the presentation, which was obtained by The Washington Post, Racine’s office emailed some faith leaders to say that the proposal was still a work in process and that a final version would be introduced for consideration by the D.C. Council early in 2019.

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Pope Francis’ early blind spot on sex abuse threatens legacy

ROME (ITALY)
Associated Press

December 27, 2018

By Nicole Winfield

It has been a wretched year for Pope Francis, whose blind spot on clergy sex abuse conspired with events beyond his control to threaten his legacy and throw the Catholic hierarchy into a credibility crisis not seen in modern times.

The latest development — a high-profile verdict in a far-away country — cements the impression that Francis simply didn’t “get it” when he first became pope in 2013 and began leading the church.

Early missteps included associating with compromised cardinals and bishops and downplaying or dismissing rumors of abuse and cover-up. Francis finally came around in 2018, when he publicly admitted he was wrong about a case in Chile, made amends, and laid the groundwork for the future by calling an abuse prevention summit next year.

But damage to his moral authority on the issue has been done. Before his eyes were opened, Francis showed that he was a product of the very clerical culture he so often denounces, ever ready to take the word of the clerical class over victims.

The year started off well enough: Francis dedicated his annual Jan. 1 peace message to the plight of migrants and refugees. Soon thereafter, he baptized 34 cooing babies in the Sistine Chapel and urged their mothers to nurse, a typical Franciscan show of informal practicality amid the splendor of Michelangelo’s “Last Judgment.”

Then came Chile .

Francis’ January visit was dominated by the clergy abuse scandal there, and featured unprecedented protests against a papal visit: churches were firebombed and riot police used water cannons to quell demonstrations.

Chilean opposition to Francis had actually begun three years prior, when the Argentine-born pope appointed Juan Barros as bishop of the southern diocese of Osorno. Francis had dismissed allegations that Barros ignored and covered up abuse by Chile’s most prominent predator priest, imposing him on a diocese that wanted nothing to do with him.

“The day they bring me proof against Bishop Barros, I’ll speak,” Francis said on his final day in Chile. “There is not one shed of proof against him. It’s all slander. Is that clear?”

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Cupich aide gives ‘talking points’ to priests to counter AG report on sex abuse

CHICAGO (IL)
Sun-Times

December 26, 2018

By Robert Herguth

After Chicago Cardinal Blase Cupich caught heat in August for making remarks regarded as insensitive about the clergy sex abuse crisis, he took the unusual step of ordering Chicago-area Catholic priests to read a prepared statement during weekend masses defending him and insisting his comments had been twisted by the media.

With church officials again under fire — this time for a withering report from Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan that found the Catholic church in Illinois received hundreds more accusations of priests molesting kids than was previously known — Cupich has again sought to steer messaging from his priests on the topic.

Just before Christmas, one of Cupich’s auxiliary bishops, Ronald Hicks, distributed a letter to priests suggesting ways to address the Madigan report and the overall sex abuse scandal during holiday masses. The letter suggests language the priests could use that acknowledges the church’s failures but also pushes back against some of Madigan’s findings.

The letter, obtained by the Chicago Sun-Times, also provides “talking points” priests can use when discussing the crisis with friends, family and parishioners over the holidays.

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Speaking Truth With Love: An Interview With Siobhan O’Connor

Patheos blog

December 26, 2018

By Jeannine Pitas

2018 has not been an easy year for Catholics around the world as more and more cases of sexual abuse of children have come to light. One particularly hard-hit community was my own native Diocese of Buffalo, NY. In October of this year I was shocked to learn that Siobhan O’Connor – former assistant to Bishop of Buffalo Richard Malone – had leaked documents to a local news station revealing that the Catholic Church’s leader in Western New York had allowed known criminals to remain on the job. While first preferring to remain anonymous, in October O’Connor chose to go public, sharing her story on CBS 60 Minutes and thus revealing her identity. Becoming a whistleblower has naturally changed O’Connor’s life, but for her it felt like a necessary leap of faith.

Earlier this month, I had the opportunity to interview O’Connor. Incidentally, we share a personal connection – we are the same age and as high school students had the same piano teacher, so we would regularly perform together in recitals and other events. I am grateful to Siobhan for taking the time to speak with me and share her story of becoming a whistleblower and speaker of truth.

Q: You’ve not had a Facebook account for nearly ten years. I get the sense that you’re a rather private person. Now, you’ve had a kind of instant fame. How has it been going from being a private person to a public person?

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Amid more revelations of Catholic Church abuse and cover-up, survivors galvanize

WASHINGTON (DC)
PBS Newshour

December 26, 2018

Now to one of the more difficult stories that resonated throughout this past year.

The Catholic Church, along with its larger community around the world, has been rocked by the church’s long history of sexual abuse. This year, the tragic revelations kept coming, and they exposed even more just how long many dioceses covered up the abuse.

In this very frank conversation, Judy explores what the cover-ups have meant for survivors and for the faithful at large.

But she begins with some background.

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Diocese of Springfield has been and will be vigilant

EFFINGHAM (IL)
Effingham Daily News

December 27, 2018

By Bishop Thomas John Paprocki

The sexual abuse of minors by Catholic priests is a disgrace. It demands, and the Diocese of Springfield pledges, continued efforts to bring healing to the victims of these grave sins. The report issued on December 19 by the Illinois Attorney General’s office is, however, highly misleading. Factual clarification is imperative.

Here are the facts specific to the Diocese of Springfield in Illinois:

1) The majority of abuse cases occurred over 30 years ago, and only one has occurred since 2002.

2) Of the approximately 650 diocesan priests who have served here since 1923, 41 (6.3 percent) have been accused of sexual abuse of a minor. Nineteen of those were deemed to be substantiated (2.9 percent of all diocesan priests), of whom all have been publicly identified (www.promise.dio.org); 12 are deceased; four are laicized; and three are removed from ministry.

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Priest works to help victims of sexual abuse

ALBUQUERQUE (NM)
KOAT TV

December 26, 2018

By Kay Dimanche

An Albuquerque Catholic priest opens up about blowing whistle on church sexual abuse scandal.

Watch the video above for more on how Vincent Paul Chavez has helped more than 20 victims of clergy sex abuse.

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Catholic Seminary Abuse Victim Awaits Action From Denver Archdiocese

DENVER (CO)
Colorado Public Radio

December 26, 2018

By Allison Sherry

The ongoing clergy sex abuse scandal goes beyond parish churches — it also includes seminaries, the schools that train priests. Allison Sherry (@AllisonSherry) of Colorado Public Radio reports on one former seminarian who, two decades after being abused by a priest, is still waiting for church leaders to give him closure.

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US bishops face pressure amid new sex assault revelations

CHICAGO (IL)
AFP

December 21, 2018

US bishops preparing for a meeting to address the sexual abuse scandal roiling the Catholic Church suddenly find themselves in a high-stakes credibility test following a damning report accusing them of underplaying the crisis.

Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan on Wednesday issued an explosive report accusing the states Catholic dioceses of not releasing the names of at least 500 clergy accused of sexually abusing children.

The timing of the report, which said accusations have been leveled against 690 priests, while Catholic officials have publicly identified only 185, was no coincidence.

The Midwestern state’s top prosecutor said it was intended to be “a critical document for discussion” for the bishops as they prepare to meet for a spiritual retreat in Jan at a seminary in suburban Chicago.

The sex abuse crisis is to be the main topic of discussion ahead of a summit in Rome convened for Feb next year by Pope Francis and organized with the help of Chicago Cardinal Blase Cupich.

“The Catholic Church itself has yet to undertake policies to ensure accountability of its bishops for their part in covering up clergy sex abuse against minors,“ Madigan’s report said.

Mathew Schmalz, an expert on the Church and religious studies professor at the College of The Holy Cross in Massachusetts, said the Church faced a Herculean task undoing its mistakes.

“Certainly, the bishops will face further pressure to follow through on transparency and reporting requirements,“ Schmalz told AFP.

“But their credibility has been so weakened that they are also facing the possibility that any effort they make will have little to no credibility.”

The increased public spotlight on the Church comes at a time when officials are facing ever more pressure from law enforcement to be more forthcoming.

Attorneys general in around a dozen states have opened criminal investigations.

Earlier this month, officials of the Jesuit order of the Catholic Church overseeing at least 40 US states released the names of more than 240 members accused of abuse dating back to the 1950s.

Report ‘not fair’

“There’s an unprecedented amount of public pressure and legal pressure on the Catholic Church,“ Anne Doyle, co-director of the abuse tracking site Bishop Accountability, told AFP.

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Cuomo signs law creating ‘bill of rights’ for sexual assault survivors

ALBANY (NY)
New York Daily News

December 21, 2018

By Kenneth Lovett

Sexual assault victims have a new “bill of rights” in New York that will spell out the services they are entitled to after an attack.

Gov. Cuomo, who signed the measure into law on Friday, said letting survivors know their legal rights will help ensure they request and receive the information needed to navigate both the medical and criminal justice systems.

Under the law, victims will be alerted that they can consult with a rape-crisis or victim assistance organization, are entitled to health care services at no cost, and receive updates on the status of their rape kits and cases.

Law enforcement agencies, under the law, will be required to come up with policies to ensure they effectively communicate those rights to survivors.

“As the federal government shamefully ignores the voices of sexual assault survivors, New York is doing everything in our power to empower survivors and ensure they are treated with dignity and respect,” Cuomo said. “This legislation will support our work to combat the scourge of sexual harassment and assault, help deliver justice to survivors and make New York a safer state for all.”

The bill was sponsored by Assemblywoman Aravella Simotas (D-Queens) and Sen. Kemp Hannon (R-L.I.).

Selena Bennett-Chambers, of the New York State Coalition Against Sexual Assault, praised the new law, noting that the state Attorney General’s Office recently found that seven New York hospitals had been illegally billing rape victims for their forensic exams.

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Year in review: For pope, it was year to come to terms with abuse crisis

ROME (ITALY)
Catholic News Service

December 27, 2018

By Cindy Wooden

Pope Francis marked the fifth anniversary of his election in March in the midst of a firestorm over his handling of clerical sexual abuse and bishops’ accountability in Chile.

He soon apologized for his slow response and invited Chilean abuse survivors to the Vatican and then all the country’s bishops to meet with him in May. By mid-October, the pope had dismissed two Chilean bishops from the priesthood and accepted the resignations of seven others.

The firestorm began when Francis visited Chile and Peru in January, but the trip also included a meeting with the region’s indigenous peoples, marking an important stage in the preparation for the 2019 special Synod of Bishops on the Amazon, which will focus on safeguarding creation and on the pastoral care of the people who live in the region.

Also during 2018, Francis traveled to the Geneva headquarters of the World Council of Churches to celebrate the ecumenical body’s 70th anniversary; he went to Ireland for the World Meeting of Families; and he visited the Baltic nations of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia.

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Former pastor and owner of Dojo Pizza found guilty on 8 counts of sex crimes against children

ST. LOUIS (MO)
KMOV TV 4

December 26, 2018

The former owner of a south St. Louis pizza shop has been found guilty of eight separate counts of sex crimes against underage girls.

A federal judge announced the verdict in the trial of Loren Copp, who is also a former pastor, Wednesday in the U.S. District Court.

According to court documents, Copp rejected a plea deal that would have sent him to prison for 15 years. He could now face up to life in prison when he is sentenced April 5.

Copp is the former youth pastor and owner of Dojo Pizza, and at trial, claimed to be a trusted member of the community.

Prosecutors argued he used his position as a business owner, martial arts instructor and community activist to gain the trust of parents and gain access to their children.

He was arrested in April 2016, accused of possessing child pornography and attempting to produce it over a six-year period.

According to prosecutors, several underage girls lived at Dojo Pizza, which is located on Morganford in the Bevo Mill neighborhood. Copp either had sole custody or care of the girls because their parents were incarcerated or homeless, authorities said.

Copp allegedly forced the girls to work at the pizza shop and did not pay them appropriately or provide consistent food. He is also accused of threatening to kick the girls out when they didn’t work, which would leave them homeless.

According to a statement from the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Copp “groomed” the girls for abuse beginning in 2009.

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