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…

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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…

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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…

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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…

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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…

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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…

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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…

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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…

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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…

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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…

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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…

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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…

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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…

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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…

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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…

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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…

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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…

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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…

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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…

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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

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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,…

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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…

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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…

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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…

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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…

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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…

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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…

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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…

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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…

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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…

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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…

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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,…

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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…

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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…

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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…

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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…

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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…

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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…

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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…

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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…

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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…

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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…

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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…

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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…

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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…

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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…

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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…

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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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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…

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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…

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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…

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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…

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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…

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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…

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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…

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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…

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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…

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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…

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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….

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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…

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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…

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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…

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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…

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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…

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