Reporting abuse — the church’s blind spot

UNITED STATES
Church Executive

May 28, 2020

CHILD SEXUAL ABUSE IN MINISTRY CONTEXTS
By Gregory Love & Kimberlee Norris

When in doubt, REPORT.

If every allegation of child sexual abuse was simply reported by church leaders to appropriate authorities, the resulting positive impact would be immeasurable.

Survivors of abuse would feel validated — by itself a significant positive outcome — pathways to healing would open, future victims would be spared and abusers would be revealed. Criminal behavior would be investigated and prosecuted, and elements of real accountability put in place. When ministry leaders simply report suspicions and allegations of sexual abuse, the church is perceived as a sanctuary where God’s love and justice are demonstrated.

Why is reporting such a stumbling block for the church? Why is it so difficult?

Answer: ministry leaders must gain understanding and take action.

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Inside stories: Lawyers on the trials of the Pell case

AUSTRALIA
Law Institute Journal

June 1, 2020

By Karin Derkley

In a sexual abuse case that has polarised opinion, for the solicitors working on both sides it has been business as usual.

When the High Court announced on 7 April that it would uphold Cardinal George Pell’s appeal against his County Court conviction for sexual abuse of two choirboys in the 1990s, it drew a line, for now, under years of work for the solicitors who have been intimately involved in the case. It has been a case that has polarised opinion, has had international notoriety and involved controversy on a number of levels.

But while it has been hard to ignore its high profile nature, for those working on the case or advising those involved in it, it has been business as usual – working through the evidence and mustering the framework for the prosecution or the defence case, or dealing with the incredible public interest the case has attracted.

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Church orders French paedophile priest Preynat to compensate victims

LYON (FRANCE)
RFI

May 31, 2020

The Ecclesiastical Court of Lyon has paved the way for the compensation of victims of French ex-priest Bernard Preynat, convicted in March for the sexual assault of minors.

In a sentence handed down on Thursday but made public two days later, 21 people assaulted by Preynat between 1971 and 1991 are to receive an unspecified amount of compensation.

Quoting a spokesman for the diocese, the French press agency AFP said Preynat would be made to compensate his victims himself. If that is not possible, the process is to go via another compensation system.

The former chaplain of Sainte-Foy-lès-Lyon was sentenced to five years in prison in March after standing accused of sexually abusing some 75 boys when he worked as their scout chaplain.

Preynat’s victims later presented “a request for compensation” to the archdiocese for the damage suffered.

Despite the Ecclesiastical Court’s decision, François Devaux, president of the Parole Libérée NGO fighting paedophilia by priests, told FranceInfo radio the church had “completely dissociated itself” from Preynat while ordering him to “bring financial compensation to his victims that he will probably not be able to pay”.

The diocese has a “real and heavy responsibility” in the Preynat affair, Devaux added.

In July last year Preynat was defrocked, or “dismissed of the clerical state” – the heaviest sentence that can be pronounced by the church.

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Polish priests defy bishop amid pedophilia scandal

POLAND
Deutsche Welle

May 30, 2020

Priests in the Polish diocese of Kalisz have refused to sign letters of loyalty to their bishop after a child abuse cover-up. More and more Catholics in Poland are calling on the Church to properly investigate crimes.

The documentary “Hide and Seek” by Marek and Tomasz Sekielski, which was watched by almost 7 million people on YouTube within a week, continues to make waves in Poland.

The film tells the story of two brothers who were sexually abused by a priest in the diocese of Kalisz in central Poland in the 1990s. They were 7 and 13 years old at the time. The documentary makes it clear that the local bishop, Edward Janiak, knew about the abuse and swept the scandal under the carpet. The filmmakers uncovered dozens of other cases in the diocese as well.

After the film’s premiere, the diocese’s council of priests, which acts as an advisory body to the bishop, was called upon to sign letters of loyalty to him. But the members of the council refused. They stated that they first wanted to wait for the results of a Vatican investigation, launched after Poland’s Catholic primate, Wojciech Polak, had informed the authorities there of the abuse accusations.

Priestly resistance

The letters of loyalty from the priests’ council would have been important to investigators as evidence of support for the bishop, who is accused of trying to cover up the scandal. The fact that the priests are refusing to back their bishop in this way is unusual, the Polish theologian and ex-Jesuit Stanislaw Obirek told DW.

“These priests have shown great courage, which is a rarity in the hierarchical church structure,” he said. In his opinion, their actions could contribute to getting the bishop suspended.

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Explaining the Vatican’s lingering ambivalence on “zero tolerance”

ROME (ITALY)
Crux

May 31, 2020

By John L. Allen Jr.

“Zero tolerance” for sexual abuse has become one of those notoriously elastic phrases, such as “change,” “hope” and “progress,” which everyone claims to be for but no one seems to define in exactly the same way.

In American Catholic parlance, however, the term “zero tolerance” does have a fairly precise meaning, derived from the US bishops’ 2002 Dallas charter and norms: Permanent removal from ministry, and, in most cases, laicization, for even one justified allegation of sexual abuse of a minor.

In that sense, “zero tolerance” remains a contested point. To this day, a central plank in the indictment of many abuse survivors and their advocates is that the Vatican has not imposed a universal “zero tolerance” policy everywhere in the world, which is often taken as a sign of reluctance to reform.

In part, such perceptions are rooted in memory. When the abuse scandals broke out in the United States in 2002, several Vatican officials initially dismissed them as a uniquely “American problem” and described the “zero tolerance” policy as a legalistic and Puritanical American overreaction.

That knee-jerk response was entirely about deflection and denial, and so the association between opposition to zero tolerance and “not getting it” was forged.

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Diocese of Scranton’s financial future uncertain

SCRANTON (PA)
The Citizens Voice

May 31, 2020

By Frank Wilkes Lesnefsky

In the wake of the 2018 grand jury sex abuse report, the Diocese of Scranton faced a staggering deficit of $27.6 million and the lowest donations in 15 years when it ended its fiscal year on June 30.

Less than a year later, the diocese sold $27 million in property, covering its deficit. Donations began to rebound. The Scranton diocese appeared to be on solid ground — unlike 27 dioceses across the country forced to file for bankruptcy amid sex abuse scandals requiring compensation to victims over the past 16 years.

Then, COVID-19 hit Northeast Pennsylvania.

The coronavirus pandemic forced the Most Rev. Joseph C. Bambera, bishop of the diocese, to close all 118 parishes across the 11-county diocese on March 16, leaving churches with empty pews and shallow collection plates.

While diocesan officials are confident they will weather the pandemic, financial uncertainty looms.

Times-Shamrock newspapers analyzed 15 years of audits and financial statements for the Diocese of Scranton’s administrative offices from 2004 through 2019,. Diocesan fiscal years are July 1 through June 30. The financial documents detail the ups and downs of the diocese’s finances and can help predict its financial security.

Audits do not include individual parishes, which act as separate diocesan entities, and diocesan organizations, such as Catholic Social Services and the Catholic School System, which are maintained separately from the administrative offices.

Dioceses often operate under a hierarchic, centuries-old Canon Law system that long predates modern corporate law, said Marie T. Reilly, J.D., a professor of law and bankruptcy attorney at Penn State University. Bishops will hire and fire priests, sit as members of parish boards and control financial decisions, but parishes and the like do not fall under diocesan assets — a notion courts have always upheld, she said.

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‘I have no faith in the Catholic Church but I prayed when I’d Covid-19’

IRELAND
Irish Times

May 30, 2020

By Patsy McGarry

How is the coronavirus pandemic affecting religious beliefs, or the lack thereof?

[PHOTO: Clerical abuse survivor Marie Kane says when she was ill ‘I found comfort in my little ritual of lighting a candle and praying to a God I thought had no time for me as a young girl.’]

It’s over two months since churches, mosques, and synagogues in Ireland were closed for public worship. For Christians, Easter 2020 took place behind closed doors and online only with baptisms, weddings, and ordinations postponed. In the Catholic Church annual First Communions and Confirmations were also postponed.

Ramadan in Ireland this year was mainly a private affair with all related gatherings in mosques called off, as well as any large Eid celebration marking its end. For Jews in Ireland, Passover in April and Shavuot at the end of May were also mainly private.

This absence of public religious gatherings, as well as the lockdown generally over the past 10 weeks, has allowed people to consider deeply their most profound beliefs, or the lack thereof. The Irish Times asked on social media for people’s reflections on what impact the Covid-19 pandemic was having their beliefs. Here is a selection of the replies.

Marie Kane, a clerical abuse survivor who met Pope Francis at the Vatican Rome in 2014:

“I’m not a fan of the Catholic Church and my journey hasn’t been an easy road. Meeting Pope Francis really didn’t help me with my journey of finding my faith. However, having had Covid-19 and being extremely ill for four weeks, I have to say I prayed for my health. I admit it was out of fear but as days of isolation went by. It’s what got me through.

“I found comfort in my little ritual of lighting a candle and praying to a God I thought had no time for me as a young girl. Somehow, now recovered, back to work and having got my fitness back, I’m feeling very grateful and blessed to be still here.

“From being a young girl who wanted to die to an adult woman, mother, grandmother-to-be, daughter, friend, who is happy to be here still. So, my faith in the Catholic Church is gone 100 per cent, but my faith in God has been found.”

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French Catholic writer wants to be first female archbishop

PARIS (FRANCE)
DPA (Deutsche Presse-Agentur) via Herald Mail

May 30, 2020

A French Catholic writer and lay activist is putting herself forward to be the first female archbishop in the Catholic Church.

Anne Soupa, 73, has declared her candidacy for the archbishopric of Lyon — the most senior in the French Catholic Church.

The position has been vacant since March, when Pope Francis accepted the resignation of Cardinal Philippe Barbarin, acquitted on appeal on charges of covering up sex abuse by a former priest.

“I don’t know if the church authorities will … react positively or at least constructively, but what I do know is that my candidacy is very serious,” Soupa told dpa.

Under the Catholic Church’s canon law, bishops must have served as priests for five years, and only men can be ordained priests.

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Detective sacked for nabbing predator priest sues police chief

SAGINAW (MI)
ChurchMilitant.com

May 29, 2020

By Christine Niles

A detective whose work landed a predator priest in jail is suing his police chief for retaliation.

“I’d like to make sure police officers know they have rights too and encourage them to always do what’s right, no matter what the cost,” said Detective Brian Berg, formerly chief detective of the Tittabawassee Police Department in Michigan, in comments to Church Militant. “I also want my reputation I’ve worked my whole life for restored.”

Berg led the investigation of Saginaw priest Fr. Robert DeLand, currently serving 2–15 years in prison for sex abuse. The priest was arrested in February 2018 after Berg’s four-month covert operation, which included damning audio recordings of the priest’s sexual grooming and assault of the male victim. The undercover sting led to DeLand’s arrest in February 2018 and his conviction last year.

Church Militant first aired the audio recordings in a special report in May 2019, which revealed disturbing conversations by the priest encouraging the teen to watch gay pornography and engage in homosexual activity, as well as the priest’s offer of cash, gifts, cigarettes, alcohol and drugs to the underage male.

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Jaime Concha: La justicia civil anda mejor que la justicia de la iglesia

[Jaime Concha: Civil justice works better than church justice]

VALPARAÍSO (CHILE)
Kairós News

May 30, 2020

El médico sobreviviente de abusos sexuales en el caso de los maristas, hoy lucha por la vida de sus pacientes con coronavirus en la región de Valparaíso y aplaude los avances logrados por la Fiscalía. De la iglesia y del Vaticano, ya nada espera.

“Ha pasado más de un año que el Papa Francisco tomó el caso marista, se lo entregó a la Congregación de Doctrina de la Fe para que procediera, y todavía no han sido capaces de sacar conclusiones y emanar un informe técnico como el que ya existe en nuestro país”, denuncia el doctor Jaime Concha, coordinador de la Red de Sobrevivientes de Abuso Sexual Eclesiástico de Chile.

[GOOGLE TRANSLATION: The doctor who is a survivor of sexual abuse in the case of the Marists fights today for the lives of his patients with coronavirus in the Valparaíso region and applauds the progress made by the Prosecutor’s Office. From the church and the Vatican, nothing is expected.

[“More than a year has passed since Pope Francis took the Marist case, handed it over to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith to proceed, and they have not yet been able to draw conclusions and issue a technical report like the one that already exists in our country,” denounces Dr. Jaime Concha, coordinator of the Network of Survivors of Ecclesiastical Sexual Abuse in Chile .]

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A year later, most of documents seized in a raid of Dallas diocese offices ordered returned as sexual assault investigation continues

DALLAS (TX)
Dallas Morning News

May 29, 2020

By David Tarrant

One of the five former priests named in the May 2019 search warrant was arrested in January.

[PHOTO: Dallas Catholic Diocese Chancellor Greg Caridi accepts boxes of documents that police had seized on May 15, 2019. State District Judge Brandon Birmingham ordered that any record that “exceeds the scope of the search warrant as written,” to be returned by police to the diocese. Some records were also exempt from disclosure because they were protected by attorney-client privilege. This shipment of boxes was returned to the diocese’s pastoral center on Nov. 7, 2019. Another shipment was returned Jan. 21, 2020.]

A year after police searched Dallas Catholic Diocese offices for records related to allegations of sexual abuse by priests, most of the documents seized in the raid were returned to the church as beyond the scope of the police investigation. And charges have been filed against only one of the five former priests, who are targets of the investigation.

Dallas Bishop Edward Burns condemned the May 15, 2019 raid, which involved dozens of law enforcement officers, as “unnecessary and sensational,” in a statement released by the diocese Thursday.

Church officials had already provided personnel files “for all the priests named in the warrant,” and had been cooperating with the police requests, Burns said in the statement, which reported that “99 % of the items seized” were returned to the diocese.

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State extends window for suing child sex abusers, with 81 cases in Queens so far

NEW YORK
Queens Daily Eagle

May 30, 2020

By David Brand

State lawmakers voted Wednesday to extended a so-called lookback window that allows survivors of childhood sex abuse to sue the perpetrators, regardless of when the abuse occurred.

The Child Victims Act took effect in August 2019, opening a one-year window for survivors to file civil complaints against their alleged abusers or the institutions that enabled the abuse. Lawmakers voted to extend the window until August 2021 to account for a two-month filing freeze that resulted from the COVID-19 court shutdown.

“This is a giant step forward for New York and, more broadly, the Child Protection Movement,” said attorney Jeff Anderson, who specialized in CVA cases and other litigation involving child sex abuse.

The state Senate voted unanimously to extend the measure, a significant departure from the members’ positions on the bill in recent years.

Lawmakers, particularly members of the Republican Party, repeatedly killed the bill amid pressure from groups like the Catholic Church and Boy Scouts of America. The Senate voted in favor of the measure in January 2019, after Democrats took control of the chamber.

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‘Look what he’s taken from me’: the deadly toll of Catholic church sex abuse on Guam

GUAM
The Guardian

May 29, 2020

By Anita Hofschneider

There are now nearly 300 sexual abuse lawsuits against more than 20 priests on the deeply religious island in the western Pacific

Roosters crow in the distance as Walter Denton gestures toward a white one-storey concrete building behind a church in Agat, a village in southern Guam.

“You know, just standing here, right behind you, that is where I was raped,” says Denton, 56.

It has been more than three years since Denton first went public with accusations that Guam’s former archbishop Anthony Apuron assaulted him, and even though he has told the story many times his voice is still heavy with emotion.

Denton says he was 12 or 13 years old and had fallen asleep in the church rectory, where Apuron had asked him to spend the night, and then “woke up screaming,” laying on his stomach with his hands pinned down and Apuron on top of him.

Denton says when the priest finally stopped, he offered to give Denton straight A’s in theology class.

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Attorneys: Abuse victims getting low offers from Diocese of Pittsburgh’s fund

PITTSBURGH (PA)
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

May 29, 2020

By Peter Smith

Many people filing claims of sexual abuse by priests in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh are being offered compensation amounting to only a “fraction” of what victims have received in other dioceses, according to attorneys representing many of them before an out-of-court compensation fund.

Attorney Alan Perer, who said he represents about 75 clients who applied to the fund, is accusing Bishop David Zubik and the diocese of breaking a promise to compensate victims fairly. He said initial payments from the program gave fair compensation to victims but that many of the current offers are significantly lower.

At issue is the Independent Reconciliation and Compensation Fund established last year by the diocese in the wake of the 2018 statewide grand jury report into the decades-long histories of sexual abuse in Pittsburgh’s and five other dioceses. The fund is administered by an independent law firm, which makes the individual offers, while the total amount of money is provided by the diocese.

Mr. Perer said the first round of claimants — those who had already reported abuse to the diocese before the fund was established — received payments in the low six figures, which is similar to those from other dioceses.

Some still are receiving similar offers. But, he said, the majority of clients are now receiving offers of $40,000 or less, even those who suffered “horrendous” abuse, he said. Some are offered $7,500, he said.

“I am witnessing the new suffering of victims caused by the diocese’s broken promises,” Mr. Perer said in a written statement to the Post-Gazette. “Specifically, these are survivors of sexual abuse who trusted the diocese to offer fair and reasonable compensation through its Independent Reconciliation and Compensation Program. As the fund currently exists, however, Bishop Zubik has chosen to break another promise to survivors by limiting the fund’s ability to provide reasonable compensation to survivors.”

The diocese said in a statement:

“From the time that Bishop Zubik announced the creation of the Independent Reconciliation and Compensation Fund, it has been and remains our goal to assist as many victim/survivors as possible with the funds that we have been able to garner. The fund is and has been administered independently from the Diocese of Pittsburgh and claims to the fund are determined by the fund administrators, the Feinberg Law Group. Applying to the fund has been a voluntary option from the beginning. Accepting the determinations offered is likewise voluntary; any claimant who has questions about how their determination was reached would need to have that discussion with the fund administrator, who is making the determinations independently of the diocese.”

The diocese said it would release final figures on the fund distribution once it is completed.

Some 367 people filed claims with the diocese last year after it launched the IRCP.

The diocese hired the Washington-based law firm of Kenneth Feinberg, which has extensive experience administering large settlement funds, to review and decide on the distributions independently.

Camille Biros of the Feinberg firm said in a statement: “We continue to review and evaluate the few remaining claims for the Pittsburgh Program as independent administrators in the same manner as when the Program was first implemented. It is correct that there is limited funding but that in no way affects our independence.“

Mr. Perer said while some clients are accepting the offers, others are refusing them and preparing instead to sue.

While lawsuits over sexual abuse from decades ago would typically be barred by the statute of limitations, he and other lawyers already have several pending lawsuits against the diocese, using the legal theory that the diocese engaged in an ongoing fraud and conspiracy until recently, and that the statute of limitations would not apply. A similar lawsuit against the Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown, testing that legal theory, is now before the state Supreme Court.

With the Diocese of Pittsburgh’s compensation fund, the first set of claims evaluated were for people who had notified the diocese of their abuse in the years before the funds was established. Many of those payments to claimants were above $100,000 or even $200,000 per person, Mr. Perer said.

While not at the level that some juries have awarded abuse victims, such payments amount to “recognition of the harm, something that makes people feel their suffering is acknowledged,” Mr. Perer said.

More recently, he said some payments have been as high as $125,000.

But for many, he said the offers are “insulting.”

“You offer somebody $7,500 who was abused by a priest and lived with it for 40 to 50 years, it’s like double abuse,” he said.

Attorney Benjamin Andreozzi of Harrisburg, who also represents some clients who applied to the Diocese of Pittsburgh’s fund, also said many of the offers are “a fraction of what they paid in these other (dioceses’) programs.” He also plans lawsuits on behalf of some clients.

Both attorneys speculated the diocese is low on money. An Orphans’ Court judge last year blocked the diocese’s effort to put an $8 million-plus trust fund, earmarked for needy children, toward the compensation payments.

Some clients are feeling they have no choice but to take the compensation offered due to the recession, Mr. Perer and Mr. Andreozzi said.

“They’re laid off from jobs,” Mr. Andreozzi said. “They have needs.”

The Archdiocese of Philadelphia has so far paid out a total of $211,000 per claim in its program as of April, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer. The Diocese of Greensburg paid an average of about $76,000 per person, according to its figures.

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Latin American church workers: Pandemic turmoil increases child abuse

SAO PAULO (BRAZIL)
Lima Catholic News Service

May 28, 2020

By Eduardo Campos

Catholic missionaries in Latin America say they have noticed disturbing signs of an increase in child abuse during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The social turmoil provoked by the disease and some of the restrictions imposed by governments to avoid the further spread of the virus may be amplifying the risks, they said.

On May 26, the World Health Organization said the Americas had become the new epicenter of the disease, as Brazil’s daily death rate became the highest in the world. The organization is also concerned about the rising curves in countries like Peru, Chile and El Salvador.

Most countries in the region adopted social distancing measures in mid-March, including broad quarantines in Peru, Argentina and the Dominican Republic. Even in Brazil, where President Jair Bolsonaro has refused to federally impose such restrictions, state governors and city mayors suspended nonessential activities. Throughout the continent, schools are closed and children are at home.

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Child Victims Act extended for another year amid courts shutdown

BROOKLYN (NY)
The Brooklyn Daily Eagle

May 29, 2020

By Rob Abruzzese

The Child Victims Act, the law that gave sexual abuse survivors a one-year window to sue for abuse they suffered past the statute of limitations, was officially extended on Wednesday by the State Legislature.

Advocates said that the extension was necessary as the COVID-19 pandemic had shut down the courts to all but emergency and essential applications, which limited the ability of victims to sue. The current bill extends the law for another year, but still needs to be signed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo to take effect.

“The passage of the Child Victims Act remains one of the most historic victories for child abuse survivors in New York State, and the COVID pandemic nearly prevented countless survivors from ensuring accountability — but today’s vote proves that nothing can stand in the way of justice,” said James R. Marsh, a New York attorney who represents more than 700 childhood sexual abuse survivors statewide.

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Victims group contacts La. governor to demand statewide investigation into pedophile priest allegations

BATON ROUGE (LA)
WAFB

May 28, 2020

By Kevin Foster

The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP) reached out to Governor John Bel Edwards as part of its latest request for a statewide investigation into child sex abuse allegations involving religious authorities in Louisiana.

The request came in an email sent to the Edwards’ office, officials over Louisiana State Police (LSP), and members of the media.

SNAP is asking Gov. Edwards to direct LSP to lead the investigation, based on statements SNAP leaders said were made by Attorney General Jeff Landry.

Those statements suggest it would have to be LSP that performs the investigation, SNAP leaders said.

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Protected by Decades-Old Power Structures, Three Renowned Harvard Anthropologists Face Allegations of Sexual Harassment

CAMBRIDGE (MA)
The Harvard Crimson

May 28, 2020

By James S. Bikales

Senior Anthropology professors Theodore C. Bestor, Gary Urton, and John L. Comaroff have weathered allegations of sexual harassment, including some leveled by students. But affiliates said gender issues in the department stretch beyond them.

In 1986, a group of professors writing for the journal Current Anthropology found that the country’s most elite anthropology programs, including Harvard’s, operated based on a “hierarchy of prestige” dominated by powerful tenured faculty.

Nearly 35 years later, it is in part that very hierarchy that has allowed three of Harvard’s senior Anthropology faculty — former department chairs Theodore C. Bestor and Gary Urton and professor John L. Comaroff — to weather allegations of sexual harassment, including some leveled by students, according to people with knowledge of the matter and documents obtained by The Crimson.

In 2018, a Harvard investigation found Bestor committed two counts of sexual misconduct during an interaction with a female professor at a 2017 conference at UCLA. Harvard’s Faculty of Arts and Sciences disciplined Bestor for the incident, but allowed him to return to work before completing required sanctions.

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Spanish priest accused of abusing minors sought

PHILIPPINES
Philippine Daily Inquirer

May 29, 2020

A Vatican diplomat has sought the help of Filipino bishops for information about a Spanish priest accused of abusing minors and believed to have been hiding in the Philippines.

Filipino Archbishop Bernardito Auza, Pope Francis’ envoy to Spain and Andorra, said Fr. José Maximiano Campos Ruiz has gone missing and may have fled to the Philippines.

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Catholic Archdiocese asks to have child abuse lawsuit dismissed, contends case filed too late

HOUSTON (TX)
KPRC-TV

May 28, 2020

By Phil Archer

[VIDEO]

The Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston has asked to throw out a federal lawsuit filed by a man and woman who claim they were abused by a Conroe priest because it was filed too late.

The plaintiffs contend they were abused as children by Father Manuel La Rosa-Lopez in the 1990s. La Rosa-Lopez is currently facing five counts of indecency with a child for allegedly abusing three children.

The lawsuit seeks $20 million in damages from the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston, claiming the church covered up allegations of abuse, and continued to allow La Rosa-Lopez access to children.

Lawyers for the Archdiocese filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit contending it was filed years after the statute of limitations ran out in 2011. The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests says the archdiocese is trying to escape responsibility by relying on a legal technicality.

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Former principal who warned of dangerous priest to sue Catholic church

AUSTRALIA
Sydney Morning Herald

May 29, 2020

By Adam Cooper

If not for a principal’s principles, Graeme Sleeman could have avoided 25 years of emotional and financial hardship.

“That’s the thing that sticks in my neck the most,” the 70-year-old told The Age. “I did the right thing but have lost absolutely everything.”

In the 1980s, the Holy Family School in Doveton was prospering despite its disadvantaged setting, and Mr Sleeman – adored by pupils, admired by staff and parents – had the world “at my feet”.

But the arrival of paedophile Peter Searson as parish priest in 1984 meant Mr Sleeman’s primary focus was to shield his flock from danger.

After more than two years, Mr Sleeman resigned in frustration at having his repeated warnings dismissed. He never found another education job because, he believes, the Catholic church blacklisted him.

Over the following years, a brilliant career was ruined and his mental health plummeted to the point he considered suicide.

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Two Cases Allege Abuse By Salamanca Teacher

JAMESTOWN (NY)
The Post-Journal

May 29, 2020

By John Whittaker

Two lawsuits have been filed in state Supreme Court in Cattaraugus County alleging sexual abuse of two students by the same teacher almost 10 years apart.

The reopening of courts for civil litigation has meant Child Victims Act lawsuits have again begun trickling onto court dockets. None of the cases involve the Catholic Diocese of Buffalo. Plaintiffs have filed two suits against the Salamanca City School District.

An unidentified plaintiff represented by Jeffrey R. Anderson and J. Michael Reck of Jeff Anderson and Associates P.A. of New York City allege that David Bemus, a now retired teacher at the Jefferson Street School of the Salamanca City School District, allegedly had unpermitted sexual contact with a 10-year-old child in 1977 and 1978.

Anderson and Reck allege that the school district should have learned that Bemus was allegedly unfit to work with children before allegedly sexually abusing their client or at least known they did not have sufficient information about whether or not there was a risk of child sex abuse for children attending the school. The lawsuit alleges negligence by the school district for employing Bemus when it should have been aware that Bemus allegedly posed a danger to children as well as failure to properly supervise the teacher. Anderson and Reck also allege negligent hiring for not investigating Bemus’ “propensity for the type of behavior” alleged by the plaintiff. There are also claims of negligent retention, negligent training and supervision

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Berks lawmaker Mark Rozzi sues Allentown Diocese, alleging a priest sexually abused him when he was 13

PENNSYLVANIA
Reading Eagle

May 28, 2020

By Karen Shuey

Berks County lawmaker Mark Rozzi filed a lawsuit this week against the Allentown Diocese and Holy Guardian Angels Parish in Reading, alleging that he was sexually abused by a priest when he was 13 years old.

The Muhlenberg Township Democrat has been open about channeling his struggle with the memory of the incident into fighting for legislation in the General Assembly that would allow victims to seek justice after the statute of limitations on such claims has expired. He has even championed a proposal that would amend the state constitution to get that done.

In the meantime, Rozzi is taking advantage of an apparent statute of limitations loophole to file his lawsuit.

In a similar case, a woman was allowed by the state Superior Court to file a claim against the Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown despite exceeding the statute of limitations. The three-judge panel ruled in August that if a jury finds sufficient evidence that the defendant, in this case the church, fraudulently concealed information then the defendant cannot have a case thrown out because of expired statute of limitations.

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St. Cloud diocese reaches settlement on abuse claims, will file for bankruptcy

ST. CLOUD (MN)
Catholic News Agency

May 28, 2020

The Diocese of St. Cloud, Minnesota will pay $22.5 million into a trust for sexual abuse survivors, under a plan that involves filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

The diocese announced Tuesday that it had reached an agreement with abuse survivors on a framework for settling all abuse claims filed against the diocese and local parishes.

“This framework for resolution represents the diocese’s commitment to finding a fair resolution for survivors of sexual abuse while continuing its ministry to those it serves throughout the 16-county diocese,” it said.

“I am particularly grateful to the survivors of abuse for their courage in coming forward and sharing their experiences, and I again apologize on behalf of the Church for the harm they suffered,” Bishop Donald Kettler of St. Cloud said in a statement

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Ex-detective claims he was fired for investigating Catholic sex abuse case in Saginaw County

SAGINAW (MI)
MLive.com

May 28, 2020

By Cole Waterman

A former police detective has filed a lawsuit against the township that previously employed him, alleging he was fired for investigating sexual assault allegations against now-imprisoned Catholic priest Robert J. DeLand Jr.

Brian J. Berg, through Detroit-based civil rights attorney Jonathan R. Marko, earlier in May filed suit in Saginaw County Circuit Court naming Tittabawassee Township and Tittabawassee Police Chief Dennis Green as defendants.

The suit alleges Berg, employed by the township’s police department since 2008, began investigating DeLand in November 2017 after receiving a complaint that the priest had had inappropriate contact with a minor. Berg met with Green regarding this, then with representatives of the Saginaw County Prosecutor’s Office, the lawsuit states. It was decided a joint investigation would be conducted with detectives from the Saginaw Township Police Department, as they, too, had received a similar complaint against DeLand, the lawsuit states.

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Buffalo priest cleared to return to active ministry following abuse allegation

BUFFALO (NY)
WGRZ

May 28, 2020

The Independent Review Board determined that allegation to be unsubstantiated.

Following an Independent Review Board recommendation, Bishop Edward B. Scharfenberger, Apostolic Administrator of the Buffalo Catholic Diocese, has returned the Reverend Peter J. Karalus to active ministry.

Reverend Karalus had been placed on administrative leave following an allegation by a person who was a minor in 2011 when the incident allegedly occurred.

The Independent Review Board determined that allegation to be unsubstantiated. Officials say the Erie County District Attorney also investigated the allegation and found no basis for pursuing criminal charges.

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Accused ex-priest fighting sex abuse allegations

GUAM
The Guam Daily Post

May 29, 2020

By Nick Delgado

He was referred to as Father Joe San Agustin during a status hearing held virtually in the District Court of Guam on Thursday, and the former priest told the court that he still wants to take his case to trial.

The defendant, Joe R. San Agustin, also known as Andrew, is accused of sexually abusing a girl from Saipan who had visited Guam when she was 12. The alleged victim, who is now a woman, filed the civil action in 2017 and was identified in court documents through the initials B.T.

B.T. is represented by attorney Delia Lujan Wolff.

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Buffalo bishop clears prominent priest accused of improper conduct

BUFFALO (NY)
Buffalo News

May 28, 2020

By Dan Herbeck

Buffalo Diocese Bishop Edward B. Scharfenberger has cleared a prominent priest of allegations of improper conduct with a minor and allowed him to return as vicar general.

The diocese said Thursday that an investigation into the allegation showed no wrongdoing by the Rev. Peter J. Karalus.

The claim involved a remark Karalus is accused of making while hearing the confession of a teenage male in 2011, multiple sources who are familiar with the case told The Buffalo News.

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Pampanga archbishop Lavarias warns against on the prowl Spanish priest accused of sexual abuse

MANILA
Politiko

May 28, 2020

The Archdiocese of San Fernando in Pampanga has alerted the clergy against a Spanish priest who is accused of molesting minors and reportedly fled from his home country.

In a circular dated May 26 but was released on Thursday, Archbishop Florentino Lavarias asked bishops, priests and the laity to help inquire on the whereabouts of Fr. José Maximiano Campos Ruiz and report any information on the matter to his office.

This came after reports that Ruiz has gone missing and may have fled to the Philippines.

“There are reasons to worry about his presence in our country given the serious accusation against him of abuses of minors,” he said.

The circular was issued in response to the request of Filipino Archbishop Bernardito Auza, Pope Francis’ envoy to Spain, who has sought the help of Filipino bishops for information on Ruiz.

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Archbishop Lavarias asks help from the public to find errant Spanish priest

MANILA
Manila Bulletin

May 28, 2020

By Leslie Ann Aquino

A Spanish priest accused of abusing minors is believed to be here in the country.

San Fernando, Pampanga Archbishop Florentino Lavarias identified the priest as Rev. José Maximiano Campos Ruiz.

In a circular letter, he said Apostolic Nuncio to Spain and Andorra, Archbishop Bernardito Auza is asking for information on the whereabouts of the priest who disappeared.

“The Apostolic Nuncio to Spain and Andorra, Abp. Bernardito Auza, is asking some information about a certain Rev. José Maximiano Campos Ruiz, a Spanish priest who practically disappeared and said to be now in the Philippines,” said Lavarias.

“There are reasons to worry on his presence in our country given the serious accusation against him of abuses of minors,” he added.

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Clergy alerted vs. Spanish priest accused of sexual abuse

MANILA
Philippine News Agency

May 28, 2020

By Ferdinand Patinio

The Archdiocese of San Fernando in Pampanga has alerted the clergy against a Spanish priest who is accused of molesting minors and reportedly fled from his home country.

In a circular dated May 26 but was released on Thursday, Archbishop Florentino Lavarias asked bishops, priests and the laity to help inquire on the whereabouts of Fr. José Maximiano Campos Ruiz and report any information on the matter to his office.

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Australia’s bishops seeking ‘whole-of-Church’ approach for child protection

AUSTRALIA
Crux

May 28, 2020

By Christopher White

Plans are moving forward for the establishment of a national system for child protection within the Australian Catholic Church, according to a report following the meeting of the country’s Catholic bishops earlier this month.

The “National Response Protocol,” will develop a comprehensive system for reporting complaints of clergy abuse or misconduct and establish new guidelines for child protection policies.

Archbishop Mark Coleridge of Brisbane, current president of the Australian Catholic Bishops’ Conference, said that the new system will model a “whole-of-Church” approach, and involve key stakeholders from various sectors, including victim survivors and their families.

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Task Force Created To Advise Springfield Diocese On Responding To Clergy Sex Abuse Allegations

ALBANY (NY)
WAMC Northeast Report

May 28, 2020

By Paul Tuthill

A task force has been announced to look at the response to sexual abuse within the Roman Catholic Diocese of Springfield.

Acknowledging the diocese has not always responded adequately to victims of abuse, Bishop Mitchell Rozanski said he is looking to the 10-person task force, which he said is made up of a “diverse group of distinguished individuals” to recommend how to improve.

“With the recommendations of this task force, it is my sincere hope that as the church of western Massachusetts we will be both proactive in preventing any type of abuse and respond with prompt action to any type of abuse allegation,” said Rozanski.

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Lawsuit Alleges School District Ignored Multiple Reports of Child Sexual Abuse By Teacher

MICHIGAN
The Legal Examiner

May 27, 2020

Patrick Daley, a former fifth-grade teacher, was convicted last October of sexually abusing eight boys over a three year period. He was sentenced up to 15 years in prison. Now, the family of one of the victims has filed a lawsuit against the Holt (Michigan) Public School district alleging that officials withheld information and did not take action against recurring inappropriate physical contact with students between 2015 and 2018.

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Berks lawmaker sues diocese over sex abuse by priest

MUHLENBERG TWP. (PA)
69 News

May 27, 2020

A Berks County lawmaker has filed a sexual abuse lawsuit against the Diocese of Allentown and its Holy Guardian Angels parish in Muhlenberg Township.

State Rep. Mark Rozzi said he was sexually abused by the Rev. Edward Graff in the 1980s, which is beyond the statute of limitations. His attorneys said they want to use a loophole in a similar suit, where the statute of limitations ran out.

Rozzi said he learned the diocese knew Graff had a history of abusing children after seeing the 2018 statewide grand jury report on clergy abuse.

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Advocate for those abused by priests seek state police probe

NEW ORLEANS (LA)
Associated Press

May 28, 2020

An advocate for people abused by priests asked Gov. John Bel Edwards on Tuesday to direct the Louisiana State Police to conduct a statewide investigation of the Catholic church for its role in child sexual abuse cases.

Richard Windmann, leader of the state chapter of Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, made the formal request in a letter. He said his group had previously asked Attorney General Jeff Landry to “begin an impartial and secular investigation into cases of serial abuse and cover-up, but he is unwilling to help.”

Landry has said that he is unable to help unless a local district attorney asks for assistance, Windmann said. Landry has also stated that state police is the appropriate agency for such an investigation, he said.

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Royal commission findings into suicide death withheld causing anguish for 94-year-old mother

NEWCASTLE (AUSTRALIA)
Australian Broadcasting Corporation Newcastle

May 27, 2020

By Giselle Wakatama

Key points:
— Andrew Nash’s mother, Audrey Nash, wants to see royal commission findings into the local diocese but they have been withheld
— The Catholic Church has acknowledged Andrew was abused
— The Attorney-General says unless there is a good reason not to do so, royal commission findings should be published as soon as it is legally appropriate

The mother of a Newcastle abuse victim, whose suicide death was a focus of a 2016 royal commission probe, fears she will die before the findings are made public.

Andrew Nash died in 1974 when he was just 13.

The Marist Brothers and the Maitland-Newcastle Catholic Diocese have accepted that he died by suicide after being sexually abused by Francis William Cable, known as Brother Romuald.

The 88-year-old is serving a lengthy jail term for abusing 24 boys and is eligible for parole when he his 94, the same age as Audrey Nash — the mother of Andrew.

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Roman Catholic Diocese of Springfield forms independent task force to advise Bishop Mitchell Rozanski on confronting reported clergy sex abuse

SPRINGFIELD (MA)
MassLive.com

May 27, 2020

By Patrick Johnson

Bishop Mitchell T. Rozanski announced on Wednesday the creation of an independent task force to advise the Diocese of Springfield on the ongoing issue of sexual misconduct and abuse by clergy within the diocese.

The 10-member Independent Task Force on the Response to Sexual Abuse within the Diocese of Springfield will have retired Massachusetts Superior Court Judge Daniel Ford as chairman and Irene Woods, founding executive director of the Children’s Advocacy Center of Franklin County and North Quabbin, as vice chairwoman.

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Diocese of Springfield announces task force in response to sexual abuse allegations

SPRINGFIELD (MA)
WWLP-TV

May 27, 2020

[VIDEO]

Bishop Mitchell Rozanski, of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Springfield announced Wednesday the creation of a 10-person special Independent Task Force on the Response to Sexual Abuse within the Diocese of Springfield.

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St. Cloud Diocese to file for bankruptcy, pay $22.5 million to abuse survivors

ST. CLOUD (MN)
Minneapolis Star Tribune

May 26, 2020

By Matt McKinney

Payments, bankruptcy plan to be filed with court in coming weeks.

The Diocese of St. Cloud will pay $22.5 million to sexual abuse survivors and declare bankruptcy under the terms of a settlement agreement announced Tuesday.

The agreement, subject to a bankruptcy court filing expected in the next few weeks, addresses allegations made against 41 priests by some 70 survivors dating back to the 1950s.

Many of the clerics are now dead, though one was still in active ministry as recently as 2015 at St. Andrew’s Catholic Church in Elk River.

Attorney Jeff Anderson, who negotiated the settlement agreement on behalf of abuse survivors, said it amounts to “validation and affirmation” for those survivors, some of whom Anderson first represented in lawsuits filed in the 1980s.

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St. Cloud diocese reaches agreement on sex abuse claims

ST. CLOUD (MN)
Minnesota Public Radio

May 26, 2020

By Kirsti Marohn

The Catholic Diocese of St. Cloud announced Tuesday that it reached an agreement with survivors of clergy sexual abuse on a framework to settle their legal claims.

The diocese said the agreement includes a $22.5 million trust to compensate abuse survivors, along with a commitment that the diocese will file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection “in the near future.”

Jeff Anderson, an attorney representing about 70 survivors who filed claims against the central Minnesota diocese, said it’s been an “arduous journey” to reach an agreement

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St. Cloud Diocese in Minnesota to Pay Abuse Victims $22.5M

ST. CLOUD (MN)
The Associated Press

May 27, 2020

The Roman Catholic Diocese of Saint Cloud in Minnesota will pay sexual abuse victims $22.5 million and file for bankruptcy, according to a settlement agreement.

Some 70 people say they were abused by 41 priests in cases that date back to the 1950s. If the bankruptcy plan is approved, the diocese will become the fifth of Minnesota’s six dioceses to settle its clergy abuse claims and declare bankruptcy.

Attorney Jeff Anderson negotiated the settlement agreement and terms were announced Tuesday. He said it gives validation to the victims, some of whom Anderson first represented in lawsuits filed in the 1980s, the Star Tribune reported.

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Boy Scouts sexual abuse victims have until Nov. 16 to file claims for compensation

KNOXVILLE (TN)
Knoxville News Sentinel

May 27, 2020

By Hayes Hickman

Attorneys have agreed to a deadline for victims to come forward with child sexual abuse claims in the ongoing Boy Scouts of America bankruptcy case.

Victims now have until Nov. 16 to file their claims or forever be barred from seeking any compensation.

Boy Scouts of America filed for bankruptcy in February in an attempt to halt hundreds of abuse lawsuits filed in federal and state courts across the country, plus an additional 1,400 potential claims.

“No matter how long ago this abuse occurred, our message is: Don’t let them take that from you,” said attorney Andrew Van Arsdale with Abused in Scouting, a consortium of law firms representing more than 3,200 survivors in all 50 states.

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Poland is shocked by pedophilia documentary

POLAND
DW

May 27, 2020

A priest sexually abused dozens of boys for years, and for years bishops covered it up. “Hide and Seek,” a documentary by Marek and Tomasz Sekielski, reveals that this was what happened in the 1990s in the small town of Pleszew in central Poland. The filmmakers made their first film about pedophilia in the Church exactly one year ago, and in doing so broke one of Poland’s biggest taboos.

This time, they tell the stories of the brothers Jakub and Bartek Pankowiak, whose father was the church organist in Pleszew in the 1990s. The parish priest at the time, Arkadiusz, was well-liked by the local youth and a frequent guest at the Pankowiaks’ house — but when the parents weren’t looking he would cuddle, caress, and kiss their sons. Bartek and Jakub were appalled, but did not confide in anyone for years about what had happened to them.
The Primate of Poland has informed the Vatican about new cases of pedophilia uncovered in a recent documentary. The Church and government are both under pressure following the revelation of what happened to the victims.

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House advances ‘landmark’ bill to give sex assault victims unlimited time to sue

COLORADO
Colorado Politics

May 26, 2020

By Michael Karlik

The Colorado House of Representatives gave initial approval on Tuesday to a bill that would eliminate the civil statute of limitations for sexual misconduct going forward, including for sexual abuse of children.

“This is actually a landmark bill that you’re about to vote on,” said Rep. Matt Soper, R-Delta, one of the proposal’s sponsors. “One thing that we heard in committee is the horror stories: that it takes years for especially a child victim to be ever able to talk to authorities or to be able to talk to an attorney to raise a civil action.”

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Pope Francis names Bishop Mark Edwards as new Bishop of the Diocese of Wagga Wagga

AUSTRALIA
ABC Riverina

May 27, 2020

By Moyra Shields

The Auxiliary Bishop of the Catholic Archdiocese of Melbourne has been named the new head of the Catholic Diocese of Wagga Wagga – a position that has been vacant since 2016.

Bishop Gerard Hanna retired early in September 2016 due to ill health, soon after he told the child sexual abuse Royal Commission about a priest in Tamworth he told to keep away from children.

Two years later Australia’s former ambassador to the Vatican, the late Tim Fischer, described the ongoing vacancy as a disgrace and linked it to a failure to deal with sexual abuse by the clergy.

Pope Francis last night appointed 60-year-old Bishop Mark Edwards the sixth bishop of Wagga Wagga, a diocese that stretches from Griffith to Tocumwal and Albury to Tumbarumba.

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Report Suggests High-Ranking Australian Priest Covered Up Decades of Abuse Within Catholic Church

AUSTRALIA
Legal Examiner

May 27, 2020

Weeks after Cardinal George Pell was released from jail, a newly release report suggests that he knew of child sex abuse by Australian priests as early as the 1970s but failed to take action to stop it.

Pell, an ex-Vatican treasurer, is the highest-ranking Roman Catholic leader ever found guilty in the church’s clergy pedophilia crisis. In March 2019, he was sentenced to six years in prison for molesting two 13-year-old boys after Sunday Mass in 1996. Then, in a devastating April 2020 ruling, Australia’s High Court overturned the 78-year-old cardinal’s conviction. The Court claimed the jury, who had unanimously found the victim’s testimony credible, ought to have entertained a doubt about Pell’s guilt since only one of his victims was alive to testify.

The new findings on Cardinal Pell come from Australia’s Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sex Abuse, which began in 2012 and ended in 2017. A court had previously redacted the report because Pell was facing child abuse charges at the time, but according to the BBC, it was allowed to be made public once the charges were dropped.

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Catholic diocese in Minnesota to pay sexual abuse victims $22.5m

ST. CLOUD (MN)
Associated Press

May 27, 2020

Diocese is filing for bankruptcy as part of settlement, after 70 people say they were abused by 41 priests in cases dating to 1950s

The Roman Catholic diocese of Saint Cloud in Minnesota will pay sexual abuse victims $22.5m and file for bankruptcy, according to a settlement agreement.

Some 70 people say they were abused by 41 priests in cases that date back to the 1950s.

If the bankruptcy plan is approved, the diocese will become the fifth of Minnesota’s six dioceses to settle its clergy abuse claims and declare bankruptcy.

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‘Vos Estis’ at one year: Some question pope’s process for investigating bishops

ROME (ITALY)
National Catholic Reporter

May 27, 2020

By Joshua J. McElwee

It is a bit early to assess the effect of Pope Francis’ new global system for how the Catholic Church evaluates reports of clergy sexual abuse or cover-up by individual bishops, say canon lawyers who spoke to NCR.

They also raised questions about the new process, first established in May 2019, which involves the empowering of archbishops to conduct investigations of prelates accused in their local regions.

Among their main concerns with the procedure, outlined in Francis’ motu proprio Vos Estis Lux Mundi (“You Are The Light Of The World”): the possible bias that can arise in asking one prelate to investigate another, and whether there has been an appropriate level of transparency about bishops who are being investigated.

Nicholas Cafardi, a civil and canon lawyer who was a member of the U.S. bishops’ original National Review Board, highlighted the latter point.

Mentioning that the procedure does not mandate that Catholics necessarily be told when a bishop is being investigated, Cafardi said: “It seems to me that the faithful have a right to know if somebody is a possible danger.”

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Erie diocese wants out of NY lawsuit against Trautman

ERIE (PA)
GoErie.com

May 26, 2020

By Ed Palattella

Catholic Diocese of Erie says it has no link to cover-up claims related to retired bishop’s tenure in Buffalo diocese.

The Catholic Diocese of Erie is asking a judge to dismiss a lawsuit in New York that tries to connect the diocese to claims that retired Erie Catholic Bishop Donald W. Trautman covered up clergy sex abuse of a minor when he was a top official in the Catholic Diocese of Buffalo in the 1980s.

The suit also names Trautman as a defendant, though the claims against him mostly pertain to his tenure in the Catholic Diocese of Buffalo. The suit alleges the abuse took place there about six years before Trautman was named the bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Erie, in 1990.

The Catholic Diocese of Erie wants a judge to remove it as a defendant, arguing that Trautman was working for the Catholic Diocese of Buffalo at the time and that the claims relate to the Buffalo diocese.

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Catholic priest sexual abuse survivor suing Oakland Diocese and East Bay churches

OAKLAND (CA)
The Mercury News

May 27, 2020

By Joseph Geha

Complaint alleges diocese, churches were negligent about “predator priests”

The Roman Catholic Diocese of Oakland and two East Bay churches are the target of a lawsuit by a young man who was sexually abused by a priest when he was a child, his attorney said Tuesday.

In a complaint recently filed in Alameda County Superior Court, the victim seeks unspecified damages against the the Diocese, St. John’s Catholic Church in San Lorenzo, and Corpus Christi Church in Fremont, accusing them of negligence in not protecting children like him from “predator priests.”

The complaint also includes new details about the abuse the man, referred to as John Doe in the complaint for privacy, said he experienced when he was 14 and 15 at the hands of Hector David Mendoza-Vela, also known as the Rev. David Mendoza-Vela, 43, who worked at both churches.

“Our allegation is that the church had many opportunities to prevent this from happening, and once it started happening, to end it,” John Winer, the victim’s attorney said about the abuse in an interview Tuesday.

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Catholic psychologist calls domestic violence ‘pandemic within a pandemic’

UNITED STATES
Catholic News Service via America

May 26, 2020

By Gina Christian

Amid global coronavirus lockdowns, domestic violence has emerged as “a pandemic within a pandemic,” said Catholic clinical psychologist Christauria Welland.

“Our rates in the U.S. for physical and sexual violence against women were already at one in three,” she said. Based in California, Welland has counseled both those who are abused and their abusers for decades.

During periods of economic crisis and natural disasters, such rates tend to rise, said Welland, adding that the coronavirus has aggravated conditions for domestic abuse, also known as “intimate partner violence.”

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Judge denies Delbarton School’s request to find new sex abuse law unconstitutional

NEW JERSEY
NorthJersey.com

May 26, 2020

By Abbott Koloff

A New Jersey law that took effect in 2019 lifts the statute of limitations on decades-old sexual abuse claims. NorthJersey

A judge has denied a challenge to a law that loosened restrictions on civil sex abuse complaints — allowing a lawsuit to continue against the order that runs the Delbarton School and clearing the way for dozens of similar cases against the Catholic Church and other institutions to go forward in state courts.

The lawsuit against Delbarton was filed more than two years before New Jersey extended the civil statute of limitations for sex abuse cases — and suspended it altogether for two years. Dozens of sex abuse lawsuits have been filed since the law took effect on Dec. 1, 2019, many of them against the Catholic Church for alleged abuse from decades ago.

Attorneys for St. Mary’s Abbey and the Order of St. Benedict argued that the suspension of the statute of limitations is unconstitutional and asked the judge to dismiss the case. Alternatively, they asked for a hearing to determine whether the accuser met the requirements of the old statute — which had been in effect when the suit was filed.

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Australian journalists face court date over Pell trial coverage

AUSTRALIA
Catholic News Agency

May 26, 2020

A judge in the Australian state of Victoria has proposed beginning a trial in November to prosecute journalists and media outlets for violating a court-imposed reporting ban on the trial of Cardinal George Pell in 2018.

Victoria Supreme Court Judge John Dixon said Tuesday that the trial could begin as soon as November 9, but prosecutors and lawyers for the journalists are still disputing the terms of the trial, Reuters reported.

Prosecutors allege that 19 individuals and 21 media outlets assisted in the violation of the gag order by overseas media and are seeking a single trial. Lawyers representing the accused journalists contend that separate allegations need to be heard in individual trials. Penalties for violating court gag orders include fines of up to 100,000 Australian dollars ($66,000) and five years in prison for individuals.

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New suit alleging sexual abuse by an Allentown priest uses a loophole in hopes of getting around statute of limitations

ALLENTOWN (PA)
The Morning Call

May 26, 2020

By Laurie Mason Schroeder

Relying on a loophole that could open the floodgates for other victims years, or even decades, after the statute of limitation on such claims has expired, Berks County state Rep. Mark Rozzi on Tuesday filed a lawsuit against the Allentown Diocese and Holy Guardian Angels Parish in Reading, saying he was sexually abused by a priest in the 1980s, when he was 13 years old.

Rozzi’s attorneys say they are relying on an August state Superior Court ruling that allowed a similar lawsuit, based on new information from the 2016 grand jury report on the Altoona-Johnstown Diocese, to move forward. In that ruling, a three-judge panel gave a woman’s lawsuit against the diocese the green light even though is was filed well beyond the statute of limitations, which gives a person until their 30th birthday to file a civil case alleging abuse from childhood.

“For so many years the darkness within the Catholic Church and its hierarchy prevented allegations of sexual misconduct from becoming public,” said Rozzi’s attorney, Benjamin D. Andreozzi.

He said Rozzi was “appalled” to learn about his alleged abuser’s history of misconduct in the 2018 statewide grand jury report on clergy abuse, which identified about 300 predator priests and more than 1,000 victims, and pledged to take action.

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SNAP asks governor to order state investigation of church

NEW ORLEANS (LA)
KATC-TV

May 26, 2020

The Louisiana chapter of SNAP has asked Gov. John Bel Edwards to direct State Police to investigate the Catholic Church.

The organization, which represents and speaks for survivors of sexual abuse by priests, believes that the recent declaration of bankruptcy by the Archdiocese is an effort to seal evidence in sex abuse cases.

In a letter, the state’s SNAP president, Richard Windmann, pleads with Edwards to direct State Police to conduct “a statewide investigation of the Catholic church.”

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Israel court rules Australia sex crimes suspect fit to stand trial

JERUSALEM (ISRAEL)
AFP

May 26, 2020

An Israeli court ruled Tuesday that an Orthodox Jewish teacher accused of child sex abuse in Australia was mentally fit to stand trial, bringing her closer to extradition after years of legal battles.

The decision was hailed by alleged victims who have campaigned for years for Malka Leifer to be sent back to face trial.

Jerusalem district court judge Chana Lomp said that she had “decided to accept the expert panel’s opinion, the defendant is fit to stand trial”.

Lomp set July 20, 2020 as the date for the renewal of the extradition process.

Leifer, who was not in court on Tuesday, is accused of child sex abuse while she was a teacher and principal at an ultra-Orthodox Jewish school in Melbourne, where she had emigrated from her native Israel.

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Israeli court finds sex crime suspect wanted by Australia faked mental illness

JERUSALEM (ISRAEL)
Reuters

May 26, 2020

An Israeli court ruled on Tuesday that a former principal of an Australian school accused of sexually assaulting students is mentally fit to face trial in Australia and her extradition case can resume.

Malka Leifer had claimed mental illness in fighting her return to Australia, and the case has dragged on in Israel since 2014. Leifer, who was the principal of an ultra-Orthodox Jewish school in Melbourne, has denied the allegations against her.

The Jerusalem District Court, which had ordered a series of psychiatric examinations, said Leifer was “faking” mental disability and was fit to stand trial, accepting the position of the prosecution.

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ST. CLOUD DIOCESE REACHES SETTLEMENT FRAMEWORK FOR CLERGY ABUSE VICTIMS

ST. CLOUD (MN)
KNSI

May 26, 2020

By Jennifer Lewerenz

The Diocese of St. Cloud says they have reached framework for a settlement for victims of clergy abuse.

In a news release from the diocese, it says, “the resolution will include the diocese filing a Chapter 11 bankruptcy in the near future. In the Chapter 11 bankruptcy, the framework for resolution will include a consensual plan of reorganization that will provide for a $22.5 million trust to compensate survivors of clergy sexual abuse. This framework for resolution represents the diocese’s commitment to finding a fair resolution for survivors of sexual abuse while continuing its ministry to those it serves throughout the 16-county diocese.

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Israeli court: Alleged child sex abuser fit to stand trial

JERUSALEM (ISRAEL)
Associated Press

May 26, 2020

By Josef Federman

An Israeli court Tuesday ruled that a former teacher accused of sexually abusing her students in Australia is fit to stand trial for extradition, capping a years-long battle that has strained relations between the two allies and angered Australia’s pro-Israel Jewish community.

The ruling was hailed by Malka Leifer’s alleged victims, who have accused their one-time school principal and Israeli authorities of dragging out the case for far too long. A July 20 extradition hearing was set by the court.

“OMG!!!” Dassi Erlich, one of her accusers, wrote on Facebook. “Too many emotions to process!!! This is huge!”

She accused Leifer of “exploiting the Israeli courts for 6 years” and causing delays that have “lengthened our ongoing trauma!”

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He Thought He Was Getting Football Physicals. He Was Being Abused.

NEW YORK (NY)
The New York Times

May 25, 2020

By Alan Blinder

Chuck Christian played on some of Michigan’s best teams. More than 40 years later, he sees a connection between a university doctor’s assaults and a dire prognosis.

For more than 40 years, Chuck Christian did not call himself a victim because he did not think he was one.

He was a muralist who had played tight end at Michigan. He grew up poor in Detroit but came to be a world traveler. He contracted prostate cancer and outlived his doctors’ predictions.

Then, in February, an old teammate called.

Remember Dr. Robert E. Anderson? The team doctor at Michigan who performed painful, unexplained rectal exams? Someone reported him, the former teammate said, and it turns out that what he did to you, and to so many other players, was probably a crime.

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BU undergrads give voice to sexual assault survivors via social media

BOSTON (MA)
The Daily Free Press

May 17, 2020

By Melissa Ellin

A group of Boston University students is aiming to raise sexual violence awareness through @Campus.Survivors, an Instagram account that shares anonymous sexual violence experiences among college students.

Within five days, the account amassed a following of more than 1,000, with followers from within the BU community and beyond.

Campus Survivors allows sexual violence survivors at colleges across the U.S. to share their stories by either direct-messaging the account or filling out an anonymous Google Form. The account has circulated more than 30 submissions as of May 17.

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“Zabawa w chowanego” to film o ukrywaniu księży pedofili. Poraża w nim bezczelność sprawców i ich bezkarność

[“Hide and seek” is a film about hiding pedophile priests. The insolence of the perpetrators and their impunity strikes him]

POLAND
Gazeta.pl

May 14, 2020

By Wiktoria Beczek

Historia jednego z chłopców, o których mowa w filmie, to historia nie tylko ofiary gwałciciela, ale też ofiary systemu, który pozwalał na przenoszenie pedofila między parafiami. Tworzony przez hierarchów system gwarantował bezkarność sprawcy i pozwalał mu na krzywdzenie kolejnych dzieci. A trauma dziecka i jego oprawca zostaną z nim do końca życia. – On zawsze ze mną jest, nawet teraz. (…) mam wrażenie, że on pójdzie ze mną do grobu – mówi jeden z bohaterów filmu braci Sekielskich.

[GOOGLE TRANSLATION: The story of one of the boys referred to in the film is the story of not only the victim of the rapist, but also the victim of the system that allowed the pedophile to be transferred between parishes. The system created by the hierarchs guaranteed impunity for the perpetrator and allowed him to hurt more children. And the trauma of the child … will stay with him for the rest of his life. – “He’s always with me, even now. (…) I have the impression that he will go with me to the grave,” – says one of the characters in the film by Sekielski brothers.]

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What politics—and the Biden campaign—can learn from the church about sexual assault

UNITED STATES
National Catholic Reporter

May 26, 2020

By Soli Salgado

The political arena displays a dizzying spectrum of how to handle accusations of sexual misconduct. On one end, is the immediate forced resignation by the Democrats in 2017 of Minnesota Sen. Al Franken over a photo taken in 2006 and other accusations, without an independent investigation. On the other end, also in late 2017, Roy Moore’s unsuccessful bid for Senate in Alabama had the full weight of the Republican Party behind him, despite numerous credible accounts of sexual encounters with underage girls.

Now, voters must choose between two presidential candidates accused of sexual assault: former Vice President Joe Biden, who has been accused of sexually assaulting former employee Tara Reade in 1993, and current President Donald Trump, who has been accused of sexual misconduct, including rape, by up to 25 women.

To the extent that political bodies can learn anything from the Catholic Church, the lessons are in the failings, say Catholic activists, feminists and survivor advocates, who have studied the fallout from the 50-year history of sexual abuse by clergy and coverup by bishops.

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Why was an Alaska elementary school principal kept on the job despite inappropriate texts to minors?

AdamHorowitzLaw.com (law firm blog)

May 21, 2020

In 2016, a man repeatedly texted a girl, asking her to masturbate, call him ‘daddy’ and send photos of herself to him. He called her “sweetness,” “loveliness,” “baby,” “sweetie,” “sweet girl,” “pretty girl,” “beautiful” and “sweetheart.”

Later, the man them admitted to having sent these inappropriate messages.

Here’s the stunning news: He was a public school principal. His supervisors heard and supposedly ‘investigated’ complaints against him but took little or no serious action, so he kept working for four years.

In December, he was finally arrested. Next month, he’s in court, formally charged with sexually abusing a minor.

And here, according to ProPublica, is the short version of this painful story: “Christopher Carmichael, principal for one of Alaska’s largest rural elementary schools, in a region with some of the highest sex crime rates in the country and a state with a history of failing to protect students, was allowed to remain on the job until the FBI got involved.”

https://www.propublica.org/article/alaska-bethel-principal

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Priest slams crimes against, and abuse of, children

PHILIPPINES
Manila Bulletin

May 26, 2020

By Leslie Ann Aquino

A Catholic priest said the sins and crimes committed against children are crimes that cry out to heavens for justice.

Father Melvin Castro of the Diocese of Tarlac said this on the heels of a study by the International Justice Mission stating that the Philippines has become the world’s largest known source of online child sexual exploitation with parents and relatives the ones responsible for facilitating the abuse in nearly all cases.

“This is condemnable in the strongest possible way,” he said in an interview.

“Some may view that the Church is being hypocritical in its condemnation as some of her leaders and members are guilty of worse crimes against women and children. But clearly and objectively, we have to condemn and root-out all causes of these very grave sins and crimes against children. Clearly these crimes cry out to heavens for justice,” added Castro.

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Adelaide gets new Catholic archbishop

AUSTRALIA
Canberra Times

May 25, 2020

The new Catholic Archbishop of Adelaide, Patrick O’Regan, is set to be officially installed at a special service in St Francis Xavier’s Cathedral.

The ceremony will be conducted on Monday by Apostolic Administrator Bishop Greg O’Kelly with only a small number of representatives of the Adelaide Archdiocese present because of COVID-19 restrictions.

It would normally attract more than 2000 people including priests and bishops from around Australia.

Archbishop O’Regan was appointed by Pope Francis to take charge of the Adelaide Archdiocese in March following the resignation of Archbishop Philip Wilson in July 2018.

Archbishop Wilson had earlier been convicted in NSW of covering up child sex abuse by a pedophile priest in the Hunter region.

But later the same year he had his conviction overturned on appeal.

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“He was fearless:” Competitors, former colleagues, industry critics size up Martin Baron’s contributions to American journalism

CAMBRIDGE (MA)
Harvard Gazette

May 25, 2020

By Christina Pazzanese

In a deeply competitive business not known for magnanimity, top editors, publishers, and media critics explain why The Washington Post’s Martin Baron is such an admired newsroom leader.

DEAN BAQUET, Executive editor, The New York Times

What makes these jobs really hard, but rewarding, is today there are only a handful of big news organizations that can play across a whole range of stories. The Post is one of them; The Times is, obviously, the other. And so, you’re talking about getting up in the morning and leading one of the great American news organizations’ coverage of the coronavirus, Donald Trump, the fight to succeed Donald Trump, the collapse of the stock market, and a possible peace deal in Afghanistan. Those are the five running stories of the moment [in late winter]. And if you’re Marty at The Post, you are running coverage of those five stories, and that doesn’t even count the whole next level of stories … You’re doing that at a time when the way people get their news is changing dramatically, from the era of print to the era of the phone, and you have to maintain one while also changing your newsroom to get ready for the other. If you add all that together, that makes for a job that’s really difficult, really rewarding and exciting, but really hard.

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Australian media face trial over Pell sex abuse case reporting

AUSTRALIA
Reuters

May 26, 2020

[VIDEO]

Dozens of Australian journalists and publishers are set to face trial in November over coverage of ex-Vatican treasurer George Pell’s child sex abuse conviction in 2018, facing charges that they breached an Australia-wide gag order in the case. Emer McCarthy reports.

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Another Film About Catholic Sex Abuse Spurs Demand for Vatican Investigation

Patheos (blog)

May 23, 2020

By Val Wilde

Around this time last year, Tomasz and Marek Sekielski released their hard-hitting Polish-language documentary Do Not Tell Anyone about the problem of sexually abusive priests in the Polish Catholic Church.

Now they’re back: The second film in the series, Zabawa w Chowanego (Playing Hide and Seek), has been released on YouTube, telling the story of Bartek and Jakub Pankowiak, two Polish brothers seeking to confront the priest who molested them.

You can watch it below. English subtitles are available.

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[Letter to the Editor] Unfair to use church scandals to attack bishop

PROVIDENCE (RI)
Providence Journal

May 21, 2020

My friend, George Welly (“Bishop should not ‘hide behind’ Roger Williams,” May 20), irrelevantly bringing up past church scandals in reaction to Bishop Tobin’s question on how Roger Williams would view current virus-related state restrictions on worship service attendance represents a regrettable but all too common approach. Instead of engaging in an actual topic raised by the bishop, some have found in the scandals a convenient club to unjustly hit him, probably because they disagree with him on some moral issue.

Bishop Tobin presides over a diocese that calls the police after every abuse accusation that is reported to it, and he comes from a Pennsylvania diocese that issued a report about abuse there in which the bishop was neither mentioned nor for which he was even interviewed. Nor was he, as auxiliary bishop there, charged with investigating such cases.

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[Opinion] The Anatomy of a Pathology

The Catholic World Report

May 25, 2020

By George Weigel

An attempt at explaining the unhinged hatred displayed by Cardinal George Pell’s enemies

Those who imagined that the sliming of Cardinal George Pell would stop as of April 7, when a unanimous decision of the High Court of Australia acquitted him of “historical sexual abuse,” did not reckon with the climate of venomous hatred that has surrounded Pell for decades, fouling Australia’s public life, legal system, and politics in the process.

That climate certainly was a factor in the Victoria police department trolling for accusations against George Pell (most of which were dismissed before trial; others were finally quashed by the High Court decision). That climate surely tainted the trial that led to the cardinal’s conviction in December 2018, despite a jury having been shown that it was literally impossible for him to have done what he was alleged to have done, where he was alleged to have done it, and in the time-frame proposed by the prosecution. That climate likely influenced the otherwise incomprehensible decision of two justices of the Supreme Court of the State of Victoria when, in August 2019, they upheld the jury verdict in spite of a devastating dissent by the one justice on the appellate panel with substantial criminal law experience. That climate shaped the commentary of the gobsmacked anti-Pell Australian media in the immediate aftermath of the High Court’s acquittal; no one in that baying mob of Pell-haters had the honesty or grace to admit that the case against Pell had been irrational from the start, or that the High Court had saved Australian justice from becoming an international laughingstock (and worse).

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Kerala Church Priest Suspended After His Intimate Photos Involving a Woman Leak Online

INDIA
News 18

May 23, 2020

Thiruvananthapuram: A few private photographs, allegedly involving a Kerala church priest and a woman, have [gone] viral on social media, leading to massive outrage in the state.

Some reports suggested that the photos were “leaked” online from a mobile phone shop in Idukki district after which the owner of the shop, Vellayamkudy, filed a police complaint seeking investigation into the matter.

The priest’s mobile phone was reportedly brought to the shop for repair earlier. But the shop owner denied the accusations of images being leaked from his shop.

Idukki Diocese was quick to take action against the accused priest, Fr James Mangalassery, from Catholic church in Vellayamkudi of Kattappana in Idukki district.

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Former priest bound over on CSC charges

MICHIGAN
Daily Mining Gazette

May 22,2020

By Garrett Neese

ONTONAGON — A former Upper Peninsula priest accused of molesting children was bound over to Ontonagon County Circuit Court.

Gary Jacobs, 74, had a preliminary hearing on Tuesday and Wednesday in 98th District Court in Ontonagon. No date has been set for his circuit court arraignment.

Jacobs was also arraigned in Dickinson County’s district court Monday for similar charges there. He will be arraigned in circuit court next month.

Jacobs faces eight counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct and two counts of second-degree criminal sexual conduct. He also faces a second-degree CSC charge in Dickinson County. All stem from alleged incidents between 1981 and 1984 in which he is said to have abused his position as a priest.

First-degree CSC carries a maximum sentence of life in prison. Second-degree charges are punishable by up to 15 years.

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Coronavirus claims life of American Red Cross’ Donna M. Morrissey, former Boston Archdiocese spokeswoman

BOSTON
Boston Herald

May 23, 2020

By Marie Szaniszlo

Donna M. Morrissey, who served as spokeswoman for the Boston Archdiocese at the height of the clergy sex abuse scandal and later for the Red Cross, died on Friday from complications from the coronavirus, the organization said. She was 51.

Morrissey died at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston, said George K. Regan, whose public relations firm she worked for from 1998 to 2001.

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Donna M. Morrissey, who headed PR for the Boston Archdiocese and the American Red Cross, dies at 51 of COVID-19

BOSTON (MA)
Boston Globe

May 23, 2020

By Bryan Marquard

When 26 people were shot and killed at a Newtown, Conn., elementary school in 2012, Donna M. Morrissey went to the scene the following morning for the American Red Cross to speak with victims’ families and relief workers — conversations all the more grief-stricken because 20 young children were among the dead.

“She remembered everything,” said Tara Hughes, leader of the American Red Cross family assistance center that day, who saw Ms. Morrissey, as communications director, field questions in interview after interview with local reporters and national news outlets.

“Donna was fierce in all the good ways — a fierce advocate for people in need, a fierce friend to many,” Hughes added. “She always said she wanted to capture what it was like to be in the position of someone who was impacted directly, and then she would tell their story with grace and compassion. She was amazing in that way.”

Ms. Morrissey, who formerly held one of the most difficult public relations jobs in the country as spokeswoman for the Boston Archdiocese during the clergy sex abuse scandal that swiftly dominated the news, died of COVID-19 Friday at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. She was 51 and lived in Newton.

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Archdiocese list of assets tops more than $240-million

NEW ORLEANS
WWLRadio.com

May 24, 2020

By Thomas Perumean

Asset filing runs 2,000 pages

The New Orleans Archdiocese has listed more than $240,000,000 dollars in assets against $139,000,000 liabilities.

Though the Church has a healthy amount of assets against debts, the diocese is facing scores of lawsuits from child sexual abuse claims that could take a multitude of years to settle.

The list of assets filed in Federal Court runs 2,000 pages.

The Times-Picayune/New Orleans Advocate says the list shows Hancock-Whitney Bank as being owed $37,000,000. These are state facility bonds which the church used to rebuild after Hurricane Katrina.

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LI priest molested me, now church is trying to keep me quiet, lawsuit says

LONG ISLAND (NY)
New York Post

May 24, 2020

By Rebecca Rosenberg

A man says a Long Island priest sexually abused him when he was a teen — and that church investigators are now trying to intimidate him into silence, new court papers show.

Greg Hein, 52, says in a Nassau County lawsuit that Father Gregory Cappuccino repeatedly molested him in the sacristy and rectory of St. Anthony of Padua in Rockville Centre in 1984. Hein was 17 at the time, while the priest oversaw the parish’s youth programs, the suit says.

Then this past May, several months after the lawsuit was filed, Hein was contacted by an ex-roommate who had attended drug rehab with him in Florida.

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Preso en Ezeiza por dos casos: El cura que abusaba de monjas y luego las confesaba, sin arresto domiciliario

[Prisoner in Ezeiza for two cases: The priest who abused nuns and later confessed them is denied house arrest]

ARGENTINA
Clarín

May 21, 2020

Manuel Pascual (65) dijo ser del grupo de riesgo por el coronavirus, pero la Justicia le rechazó el pedido.

[Manuel Pascual (65) said he was from the risk group for the coronavirus, but the Justice rejected the request.]

El cura Manuel Fernando Pascual (65), preso por el abuso sexual de dos monjas de la congregación “Hermanas de San José”, fue uno de los tantos que usó la pandemia del coronavirus como excusa para pedir su excarcelación. Pero la Justicia se la denegó y Pascual seguirá esperando el juicio oral tras las rejas.

[GOOGLE TRANSLATION: The priest Manuel Fernando Pascual (65), imprisoned for the sexual abuse of two nuns from the “Sisters of San José” congregation, was one of the many who used the coronavirus pandemic as an excuse to request his release. But Justice denied it and Pascual will continue waiting for the oral trial behind bars.]

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Opinion: Have Christian institutions become synonymous with child sex abuse?

AUSTRALIA
Indiafacts.org

May 23, 2020

By Milind Sathye

It seems given the track record of child abuse, the Church attendance in the US has seen steep decline. The case of Australia is no different. 92% of Australians do not visit the Church on a regular basis.

On May 7, 2020, Australia’s Royal Commission into Institutional Responses into Child Sexual Abuse released redacted (censored) portion of its report. The Final Report: Religious Institutions (FRRI) 2017 and the unredacted part of the report reveals the dark world of child sexual abuse in the Christian establishment.

The un-reacted part of the report has three parts: Part 1 details case studies of child abuse in five Catholic institutions in Ballarat (Australia). These include St Joseph’s Home, St Alipius Primary School, St Alipius Parish, St Patrick’s College, and St Patrick’s Christian Brothers Boys Primary School and the public hearing thereof. Part 2 details the case of Catholic Archdiocese of Melbourne and its public hearing and Part 3 is about the response of the Catholic Diocese of Ballarat and other Catholic Church authorities in Ballarat to allegations of child sexual abuse against clergy, and that of the Congregation of Christian Brothers (Christian Brothers). The three un-redacted versions included: Un-redacted Report of Case Study No. 28: Catholic Church authorities in Ballarat (535 pages), Un-redacted Report of Case Study No. 35: Catholic Archdiocese of Melbourne (289 pages), and Un-redacted Volume 16, Religious institutions Book 2 which focussed on Catholic institutions generally (936 pages).

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Opinion: Scapegoating of Pell gains emphasis after release of redacted reports

AUSTRALIA
Japan Herald

May 23, 2020

By Peter O’Brien

— Summarising, Cardinal George Pell has been made a scapegoat.
— There has been a suggestion that Victoria Police are re-examining the Report to ascertain if new criminal charges can be brought against the Cardinal.
— There are no grounds for charging Pell with any crime unless they also to choose to charge a multitude of other surviving clerics.

Summarising, Cardinal Pell has been made a scapegoat. Whether that was the intention of the Royal Commission, I cannot say. But that has certainly been the outcome of the almost obsessive examination of the actions and recollections of a man whose direct involvement in the management of these offenders was minimal at best. The blame falls squarely and overwhelmingly at the feet of Bishop Mulkearns, Archbishop Little and various Provincials of the Christian Brothers. Contrary to natural justice, and contrasted with the treatment meted out to Cardinal Pell by the pack-hunting media, these men are not today the objects of infamy and rebuke that they should be.

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From churches to crucifixes, Archdiocese of New Orleans spells out assets in latest bankruptcy filing

NEW ORLEANS (LA)
Times-Picayune and New Orleans Advocate

May 23, 2020

By John Simerman and Jerry DiColo

New records released by the Archdiocese of New Orleans in its bankruptcy case offer the fullest accounting yet of the church’s financial house, and a peek inside how Archbishop Gregory Aymond and other church brass were managing it leading up to the May Day filing.

In nearly 2,000 pages of disclosures filed into the federal court record before a deadline late Friday, the archdiocese details $243 million in claimed assets and $139 million in claimed liabilities.

The church is far from underwater, the documents suggest, though what that means for those with claims against the archdiocese could take years to unravel.

The documents offer exacting detail in some areas but are also missing some key numbers. The value for a sprawling array of church properties is listed as “undetermined,” for instance, and there are no updated estimates of what dozens of sexual abuse claims could cost the local church.

The largest claimant, Hancock Whitney Bank, is listed as being owed $37 million in state facilities bonds that helped the local Catholic Church rebuild after Hurricane Katrina, plus at least $10 million in debt guarantees made by the archdiocese for the St. Anthony’s Gardens project, the documents show.

The Covington senior living complex appears to have been a financial sinkhole for the archdiocese. It has been cited, on top of mounting sexual abuse claims that now number in the dozens, in recent downgrades of the church’s bond ratings by credit agencies.

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Even amid pandemic courage, abuse survivor’s bravery stands out

LONDON (ONTARIO, CANADA)
London Free Press

May 24, 2020

By Jane Sims

We’ve witnessed extraordinary acts of courage during the pandemic, from everyone from front-line health-care workers and grocery store employees to vaccine hunters and contact tracers.

A decision this week from the Ontario Court of Appeal is a reminder that courage doesn’t only show up during global crises. Sometimes the bravest people are in the middle of long, slow slogs.

Childhood sexual abuse survivor Irene Deschenes is one of the bravest people I know.

Ontario’s highest court dismissed the Roman Catholic Diocese of London’s appeal of a motion allowing Deschenes to reopen her 20-year-old civil settlement for what happened to her in the 1970s at the hands of predator parish priest Charles Sylvestre.

“She’s remarkable,” said her lawyer, Loretta Merritt. “The strength and conviction she has shown for these 20 years is inspiring. Her perseverance in the face of tremendous adversity is remarkable. “

Deschenes, 58, has said before she won’t stop until she holds the church and others accountable for how it treats survivors of sexual abuse.

I’ve known Deschenes for a long time. In 2006, I began covering Sylvestre’s shocking, persistent abuse of little girls over four decades in London, Windsor, Sarnia, Chatham and Pain Court parishes.

That case shaped my career covering the justice system. Many of the women were about my age. I saw myself in their old school photos, shown in a Chatham courtroom, when they were victimized from ages nine to 14. They gave a moving narrative about the long-term damage from childhood sexual abuse.

Deschenes, who was abused from ages 10 to 12, first went to the church to complain in 1992 when she was a married 31-year-old mom. The priest heading diocese’s sexual abuse committee offered counselling.

Convinced the church didn’t believe her, Deschenes placed ads in London, Windsor and Chatham newspapers asking for memories of Sylvestre. Many responses recalled him fondly, but a significant number were women who’d been abused just like her.

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‘A sad thing’: Diocese of Las Cruces responds to lawsuit

ALAMOGORDO (NM)
Alamogordo Daily News

May 19, 2020

By Nicole Maxwell

On March 31, a John Doe filed a lawsuit against two churches in Alamogordo, three dioceses including one in Massachusetts and the now defunct Servants of the Paraclete.

The lawsuit alleged the criminal sexual conduct made to Doe between 1972 and 1975 by the late Fr. David Holley was due to negligence on the part of the dioceses mentioned. They include the Diocese of El Paso, Diocese of Las Cruces, both in New Mexico and the Diocese of Worcester in Massachusetts.

“We are definitely aware of allegations that (Holley) is a credibly accused priest,” Diocese of Las Cruces spokesman Christopher Velasquez said. “It’s just a very sad thing and a very disheartening thing.”

The suit, filed in the 2nd Judicial District Court in Bernalillo County, also named Alamogordo’s Immaculate Conception Parish and St. Jude Parish.

Holley was convicted of child sexual penetration in New Mexico’s 12th District Court under Judge Robert M. Doughty, II in 1993.

Holley died in 2008.

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Bankrupt Archdiocese Cashes In

FERNDALE (MI)
Church Militant

May 21, 2020

By Bradley Eli

Santa Fe shorts sex abuse victims

An archdiocese that filed for bankruptcy owing to clerical sex abuse is receiving nearly $1 million in federal relief funds.

Federal Bankruptcy Court Judge David T. Thuma is ruling the archdiocese of Santa Fe, New Mexico can receive a $900,000 federal loan as part of the $2 trillion COVID-19 relief package set up in March. The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) was exempting Santa Fe because the archdiocese had filed for bankruptcy in 2018 owing to clerical sex abuse.

Lepanto Institute founder and president Michael Hichborn told Church Militant the ruling was grossly unjust.

“It’s absolutely appalling that a bishop would apply for government funding in order to help cover the cost of sex abuse lawsuits,” remarked Hichborn. “That would be like Al Capone using Chicago city funds to pay off his gambling and prostitution debts!”

Santa Fe isn’t the only diocese to seek federal funding after sheltering money from sex abuse victims by filing for bankruptcy protection. Two New York dioceses of Buffalo and Rochester also sued the SBA, for attempting to keep both from receiving federal cash.

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Bishop apologizes for priest’s sexual abuses after 23 years

SEOUL (SOUTH KOREA)
Korea Times

May 24, 2020

By Park Ji-won

[Includes a screen capture from the website of the Diocese of Incheon]

Bishop John Baptist Jung Shin-chul, head of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Incheon, issued a statement apologizing for a priest’s sexual abuse of students of a Catholic university about 23 years ago.

The sexual abuse cases were made public recently through an investigative TV program.

In a statement uploaded on the website of the Diocese of Incheon, the bishop said he was deeply sorry for letting such an inappropriate incident happen, confirming the media report was true.

“My sincere apologies for those who were hurt, disappointed and worried after the media report about the incident,” he said. The bishop said the priest in question was in charge of education when Incheon Catholic University was opened and admitted the church mishandled the case.

The bishop went on to say that he took the case seriously and the priest, surnamed Choi, was stripped of his clerical status as of May 8.

The apology came after an episode of SBS’ “Unanswered Questions” which aired on May 16 and covered allegations that Choi, the first president of Incheon Catholic University, sexually abused students between 1996 and 1998. The program included testimonies from alleged victims, as well as former priests and nuns who said they had witnessed or heard of Choi committing acts of sexual abuse such as molesting his students and forcing them to perform oral sex on him.

The SBS program claimed that some victims of Choi committed suicide after being assaulted by the former priest, an allegation that was not confirmed.

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Chicago Catholic Archdiocese rating slashed on mounting fiscal strains

NEW YORK (NY)
Bond Buyer

May 21, 2020

Already under strain from the financial weight of sexual misconduct claims, the Catholic Archdiocese of Chicago took a three-notch downgrade from Moody’s Investors Service reflecting the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and concerns about the rising number of archdiocese bankruptcies.

Moody’s lowered the rating this week to Baa1 from A1 and assigned a stable outlook. The rating agency had last year revised the outlook to negative from stable due in large part to uncertainty over the ultimate cost of sexual misconduct claims.

Moody’s rates $136 million of 2012 and 2013 notes issued by the archdiocese, whose formal borrower name is the Catholic Bishop of Chicago.

The downgrade “reflects the escalation of core social and business risks for a particular sector that has seen a substantial and now recently increasing trend of preemptive bankruptcy, even when financial operations, balance sheets and other credit fundamentals are sound,” Moody’s said.
At least 27 Catholic religious organizations have sought bankruptcy protection in Chapter 11, according to Penn State Law.

The Chicago archdiocese continues to see a rising number of priest sex abuse claims that drove the 2019 outlook change. The pandemic adds operational and financial pressures.

“While the archdiocese has a long history of managing many of these exposures, it is not immune from rising financial risks,” Moody’s said. “The rapid and widening spread of the coronavirus outbreak and deteriorating global economic outlook are creating a severe and extensive credit shock, with risks to the downside.”

The archdiocese’s rating benefits from its management’s “well defined” plans for addressing financial exposures, its transparency, and its strong financial balance sheet with $1.1 billion of cash and investments.

“CBC’s relatively large scale and investment portfolio provides operating flexibility and a platform to cope with the recent emergence of new misconduct claims and the operational impact related to the coronavirus pandemic,” Moody’s said.

Masses were halted and churches shuttered in mid-March as the COVID-19 public health crisis grew and Gov. J.B. Pritzker shut down large gatherings and later issued a stay-at-home order.

The archdiocese last month estimated an eight-week impact of the loss of offertory envelopes donated at masses at up to $45 million.

*
The archdiocese last year reported settlements of legal claims for $41 million in fiscal 2017 and $19 million in 2018. Gov. J.B. Pritzker last year signed legislation that eliminates the statute of limitations on cases for criminal sexual assault, aggravated criminal sexual assault and aggravated criminal sexual abuse. The archdiocese has so far only been subject to civil cases. The Illinois attorney general is also looking into all six Illinois dioceses’ historical treatment of claims of priest sexual misconduct.

Current projections on the costs of sexual abuse claims are manageable but Moody’s cautioned that the full impact and magnitude remains unclear.

The notes are a general obligation of the CBC with the designated group supporting repayment made up of the Archdiocese of Chicago Pastoral Center and Catholic Cemeteries. CBC can access other funds as available to meet debt service.

CBC also has a $40 million bank loan, supported by a real estate proceeds account. CBC must deposit into a segregated fund proceeds from any real estate sales while the principal is outstanding. It matures on January 2022.

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London Catholic Diocese loses appeal in child sexual abuse case

OTTAWA (ONTARIO, CANADA)
CBC News

May 21, 2020

Deschenes was abused by Father Charles Sylvestre between 1970 and 1973 while she was a young girl

London, Ontario – An Ontario appeals court has dismissed a bid by the Diocese of London to fight a lower court’s decision to throw out a settlement involving a victim of child sexual abuse.

Justice David Aston ruled in 2018 that London-area resident Irene Deschenes would not have settled with the church for the abuse she suffered at the hands of a priest had the church disclosed key information about previous sexual assault allegations.

Deschenes was abused by Father Charles Sylvestre between 1970 and 1973 while she was a young girl and a student at St. Ursula Catholic School and parishioner of the parish in Chatham, Ont.

Sylvestre pleaded guilty in August 2006 to the sexual assaults of 47 victims, all girls under the age of 18. The abuse happened between 1952 and 1986. Sylvestre died in prison in 2007.

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‘Evidence of a cover up’: Woman wins bid to sue London diocese, again, over sexual abuse

TORONTO (ONTARIO, CANADA)
The Canadian Press / CTV News

May 22, 2020

By Paola Loriggio

An Ontario woman has won her bid to sue the London Diocese of the Roman Catholic Church for a second time over the sexual abuse she suffered as a child at the hands of a priest.

Irene Deschenes initially filed a lawsuit in 1996 alleging she was sexually abused by Father Charles Sylvestre in the early 1970s, and that the London diocese failed to prevent it.

She settled out of court in 2000 after the diocese maintained it didn’t know of any concerns regarding Sylvestre or his behaviour until the late 1980s — long after what happened to Deschenes.

Court documents show that in 2006, Sylvestre pleaded guilty to having sexually assaulted 47 girls under the age of 18, including Deschenes.

It also came to light that the diocese had received police statements in 1962 alleging the priest had assaulted three girls, prompting Deschenes to seek to scrap her settlement and file a new suit.

A motion judge ruled to allow the new legal action, but the diocese appealed — a challenge that was unanimously dismissed by the province’s top court this week.

Deschenes’s lawyer praised her client’s “strength and conviction” in pursuing the case, and said Deschenes is “thrilled” the Appeal Court upheld the decision to set aside the settlement.

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Facing huge debts, Buffalo Diocese studies possible mergers of churches, schools

BUFFALO (NY)
Buffalo News

May 22, 2020

By Dan Herbeck

The Buffalo Catholic Diocese has begun an initiative that will focus on re-envisioning its mission, which could result in consolidations that would merge some churches and schools.

No specific plans have been made regarding the 161 parishes and 34 elementary schools currently in operation in the 8-county diocese, but Bishop Edward B. Scharfenberger said the diocese will work with pastors and other church leaders to decide what steps should be taken.

Scharfenberger indicated that there is “a great likelihood” that some Catholic schools and parishes will have to merge with others.

He told The Buffalo News late Friday that financial pressures on the diocese – including its bankruptcy case, hundreds of legal claims alleging abuse of children by priests and the Covid-19 pandemic – have forced the diocese to take a wide-ranging look at all its operations and find the best ways to spend limited funds.

Scharfenberger also acknowledged that the dwindling number of active priests in the diocese makes it difficult to keep all churches open.

While the diocese said it currently has about 360 priests, the bishop noted that most of them are either retired or semi-retired.

“We’re reviewing our core mission and purpose,” the bishop told The News. “We’re going to identify what is essential to our mission and put all our weight behind what is essential. I have read stories saying that one-third of our small businesses may not survive because of Covid-19. I have thought that our parishes have a lot in common with small businesses.”

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New bishop says Catholic Church has learned from the past

RAPID CITY (SD)
Rapid City Journal

May 23, 2020

By Kevin Woster

A Minnesota priest selected to be the new bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Rapid City comes from a diocese that concluded bankruptcy proceedings last year agreeing to pay tens of millions of dollars to victims of child sexual abuse.

Father Peter Muhich, 59, said addressing the abuse of victims was “obviously a very difficult process” for the church and especially for the victims themselves.

“Of all things, when our priests violate the trust of a child it’s just a terrible thing,” Muhich said. “We just emerged from bankruptcy in the Diocese of Duluth having to account for that.”

It was a painful, expensive accounting that affects the financial resources available for other needs in the diocese. But it was appropriate and instructive accounting, too, Muhich said.

“We’ve learned through the bankruptcy that we can live more simply,” he said. “I think it’s absolutely fitting. The church is always most credible as a litmus when it leads a humble and simple life, like the Lord himself.”

Muhich, who expects to be ordained as bishop and begin his duties here by mid- to late summer, noted that Pope Francis has led the way in promoting clerical humility in the Catholic Church. The pope has focused on outreach to the edges of society, making biblically meaningful gestures such as washing the feet of prison inmates, the poor, migrants, the elderly and the disabled.

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Alleged victim of nuns’ sex abuse fears Archdiocese bankruptcy will silence him

NEW ORLEANS (LA)
WDSU 6 NBC

May 21, 2020

By Greg LaRose

The Archdiocese of New Orleans has filed for bankruptcy, and survivors of abuse at the hands of Catholic clergy say it’s just a maneuver meant to silence them. They include one man who says he was molested by nuns at a West Bank youth home in the 1970s, and he’s now urging other victims to speak out.

Jeff, whose real name isn’t being used, says his parents sent him to Madonna Manor in Marrero in 1976 for help with dyslexia. He was 11 years old at the time.

“I didn’t even understand what dyslexia was,” Jeff said.

During his one-year stay at Madonna Manor, he says three nuns forced him to perform individual sexual acts with them. He recalled being unconscious after a schoolyard injury and waking up in the infirmary to discover a nun performing oral sex on him.

Another nun, who taught music, coerced Jeff on two occasions into placing his hand up her dress, he said.

He said he doesn’t remember either of those nuns’ names, but he recalls the third who he claims abused him two to three nights a week over a four-month period: Sister Marie.

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Another sex scandal: Kerala priest found in compromising position with mother of two in church

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM (KERALA, INDIA)
AsiaNet Newsable

May 23, 2020

Kattappana, Kerala, India – A Kerala priest from Idukki district was found in a compromising position with a lady. This incident happened at a Catholic church at Vellayamkudi of Kattappana. The pornographic visuals went viral on social media after the vicar Fr James Mangalassery gave his mobile phone for repair.

This incident came to light at a time when the churches in Kerala are brimming with cases of sex scandals popping up one after another.

After the visuals went viral, the Idukki church authorities took action against James. Apparently James has been removed from the vicar position.

According to sources, the incident took place in the month of March, and the action against him was taken on March 24. However, the statement was released yesterday.

No police case has been reported yet as none have filed a complaint regarding the incident, said Kattappana Police. Sources say the incident may have taken place with consent.

The woman, who was seen in a compromising position with the vicar is a married woman and a mother of two. It is also alleged that the woman regularly visited the church to meet the vicar during the lockdown days.

“The incident which occurred in Idukki is a shocking incident. We see the vicar as God. We never expect them to be involved in these kinds of acts,” said Jaiby Kuruvithadam, a former trustee of St Pius X Church, Kothamangalam Diocese. Jaibi added that one can’t imagine a vicar to be indulging in such shameful acts and even capture those moments on his phone.

“I strongly recommend that these types of vicars should be allowed to leave the church from their position, if these shameful acts will only increase. People’s trust will fade day by day with such incidents in the state. Only if truth and trust are there, people’s belief towards Christianity will increase,” he added.

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Catholic psychologist calls domestic violence ‘pandemic within a pandemic’

WASHINGTON (DC)
Catholic News Service

May 22, 2020

By Gina Christian

Philadelphia – Amid global coronavirus lockdowns, domestic violence has emerged as “a pandemic within a pandemic,” said Catholic clinical psychologist Christauria Welland.

“Our rates in the U.S. for physical and sexual violence against women were already at one in three,” she said. Based in California, Welland has counseled both those who are abused and their abusers for decades.

During periods of economic crisis and natural disasters, such rates tend to rise, said Welland, adding that the coronavirus has aggravated conditions for domestic abuse, also known as “intimate partner violence.”

“We’re seeing huge increases in anxiety, uncertainty and feelings of powerlessness,” she said. “When those who abuse manage their relationships using a template of power that says, ‘I’m in control of you,” this kind of insecurity makes them feel vulnerable and puts them at risk of becoming violent.”

Unemployment, food and financial instability, confinement and substance abuse have increased the risk of abuse.

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Retired, credibly accused New Orleans priests get back medical benefits; pensions still halted

NEW ORLEANS (LA)
Times-Picayune and New Orleans Advocate

May 20, 2020

By Ramon Antonio Vargas

The federal judge overseeing the Archdiocese of New Orleans’ bankruptcy case on Wednesday ordered the church to reinstate medical benefits for retired priests faced with credible child sexual molestation allegations but to continue withholding their stipends for living expenses.

U.S. District Judge Meredith Grabill had issued an order that effectively suspended all payments to such priests three days after the archdiocese’s May 1 filing for bankruptcy protection. But she amended her mandate after retired clergyman Gerard Howell, 80, argued that her initial ruling amounted to “a death sentence” for him.

Howell, who was suspected of molesting children growing up in the state’s deaf community during the 1960s and 1970s, told Grabill he was displeased only a portion of his benefits were restored.

“I’m making a petition to overrule that! … It seems punitive,” Howell, who was not represented by an attorney, said to Grabill. “Oh, Lord.”

As the judge adjourned the 75-minute, telephone hearing, attorney Richard Trahant — who represents clergy-abuse claimants and had asked Grabill to abide by her initial ruling — mockingly repeated the word “punitive.”

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Judge upholds Child Victims Act

HUDSON (NY)
Hudson Valley 360

May 20, 2020

By Melanie Lekocevic

Rockville Centre – The Child Victims Act fended off a challenge claiming the law is unconstitutional.

The legislation, championed by New Baltimore resident and state Senate candidate Gary Greenberg, creates a “look-back” window allowing claimants charging sexual abuse that occurred past the standard statute of limitations to take their case to civil court for a one-year period from the date the legislation was signed into law.

The law went into effect Aug. 15, 2019, and initially allowed civil cases alleging child sexual abuse to be brought against institutions through Aug. 14, 2020, regardless of when the abuse is claimed to have taken place. Due to the COVID-19 outbreak and the court system coming to a near standstill in New York state, Gov. Andrew Cuomo extended the “look-back window” by five months, to Jan. 14, 2021.

A case was dismissed last Wednesday by State Supreme Court Judge Steven M. Jaeger, denying a motion by the Catholic Diocese of Rockville Centre in Long Island to dismiss 44 lawsuits against the diocese. The motion claimed the law was unconstitutional because it violated the diocese’s right to due process.

“There had been claims filed by the diocese under the Child Victims Act and they objected to the claims and made a motion to have them dismissed based on the claim that the Child Victims Act was unconstitutional, that you can’t go back and bring lawsuits when the statute of limitations has passed,” Greenberg said. “They said the Legislature couldn’t pass the Child Victims Act and victims couldn’t sue the diocese under the look-back window.”

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Clergy abuse survivors, Hancock Bank on Archdiocese of New Orleans bankruptcy creditors’ committee

NEW ORLEANS (LA)
Times-Picayune and New Orleans Advocate

May 20, 2020

By Ramon Antonio Vargas

A committee representing the unsecured creditors in the Archdiocese of New Orleans’ bankruptcy case will include clergy abuse claimants and Hancock Whitney Bank, which has managed more than $38 million in state facilities bonds that helped the local Catholic Church rebuild after Hurricane Katrina.

Federal court records Wednesday only identified one representative on the seven-member committee: Beth Zeigler of Hancock Whitney. The rest of the names were redacted, suggesting that the committee’s balance might be comprised of people who claim they were sexually molested by New Orleans-area clergymen and religious personnel.

The records said a prior order from U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Meredith Grabill classifies the names of clergy abuse claimants as confidential information. But to facilitate the committee’s work, an attorney with the U.S. Trustee’s Office — which helps oversee bankruptcy cases — requested Wednesday that the redacted group members’ names be disclosed.

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Opening salvos in Pope Francis’s financial ‘Reform 2.0’

DENVER (CO)
Crux

May 22, 2020

By John L. Allen Jr.

Rome – Facing both a looming economic crisis and reminders that the anti-financial scandal measures adopted to date haven’t been fully effective, Pope Francis and his Vatican team this week have moved to try to defuse the bomb before it goes off, closing several Swiss holding companies responsible for portions of its assets and reallocating internal control over financial data collection.

Even together, the two moves hardly represent a comprehensive fix. Yet they do suggest that dubious transactions, which have generated scandal and so far cost five employees their jobs, coupled with several financial shortfalls caused by the coronavirus pandemic, certainly have gotten the pope’s attention.

On Tuesday, Corriere della Serra, Italy’s newspaper of record, reported that Francis has shut down nine holding companies based in the Swiss cities of Lausanne, Geneva and Fribourg, all of which were created to manage portions of the Vatican’s investment portfolio and its land and real estate holdings after the 1929 Lateran Pacts and payments by Mussolini’s Italy to offset the loss of the Papal States in the 19th century.

The deal netted the Vatican about $100 million in 1929, the equivalent of $1.5 billion today.

On Wednesday, just 24 hours later, the Vatican also announced that Pope Francis has transferred control Centro Elaborazione Dati (“Center for the Elaboration of Data,” known as CED) from the Administration of the Patrimony for the Apostolic See (APSA) to the Secretariat for the Economy (known by its Italian acronym “SPE”.)

The center is the office responsible for monitoring cash flows and assessing their impact on the Vatican’s financial situation – which means that if anyone on earth knows how much money the Vatican actually has at any given moment, or at least how much cash it has on hand, it’s these folks.

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New institute to ponder John Paul II’s heavy lifting on Church and culture

DENVER (CO)
Crux

May 21, 2020

By John L. Allen Jr.

Rome – St. John Paul II did plenty of heavy lifting during his long papacy, from staring down the Soviet empire to battling what he saw as a metastasizing “culture of death” in the West. Perhaps it’s only fitting, then, that the leader of a new institute devoted to the Polish pope and his approach to culture invokes a weightlifting analogy to express its mission.

“If you want to be a good weightlifter, you need to find the right position for your backbone,” said Dominican Father Michal Paluch. “Otherwise, you won’t be able to handle the pressure.”

Paluch, rector of Rome’s University of St. Thomas Aquinas, said the comparison is apt to the challenges facing the Catholic Church today vis-à-vis the emerging cultures of postmodernity.

“We’re under a lot of pressure in the contemporary world, we Christians and Catholics, and it’s critical to find the right position for our backbone,” he said. “John Paul II shows us how to be in such a position, in his attitude about how to be active in culture.”

The 53-year-old Paluch, appointed to the top post at the Angelicum last June, himself knows a thing or two about engaging culture. As a young man growing up in Poland, he studied music before entering the Dominican order.

This week, Paluch presided over the launch of the “John Paul II Institute of Culture” at the Angelicum, leading a livestream ceremony just at the cusp of Italy’s gradual loosening of coronavirus restrictions. Pope Francis sent his blessings for the enterprise, saying John Paul II left the Church a “rich and multifaceted heritage” due to “the example of his open and contemplative spirit, his passion for God and man, for creation, history and art.”

For now the institute is funded by two private Polish foundations, Futura Iuventa and Saint Nicholas, though Paluch said the Angelicum is seeking other sponsors to scale up its operations.

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Kansas investigating sexual abuse claims in breakaway Society of St. Pius X

DENVER (CO)
Catholic News Agency/EWTN

May 20, 2020

By Matt Hadro

The Society of St. Pius X (SSPX) is under investigation in Kansas, amid allegations that members of the group perpetrated or covered up clerical sex abuse in the state.

The Kansas Bureau of Investigation (KBI) confirmed to CNA on Monday that it is examining clergy abuse allegations made against the group, as part of its investigation into the four Kansas Catholic dioceses. The SSPX is not overseen by any diocese in Kansas, or elsewhere, because of its irregular status in the Church.

A breakaway traditionalist group, the SSPX was founded by Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre in 1970. When Lefebvre and Bishop Antonio de Castro Mayer consecrated four bishops without the permission of St. John Paul II in 1988, the bishops involved were excommunicated.

In 2009, Pope Benedict XVI lifted the excommunications of the surviving bishops, while noting that “doctrinal questions obviously remain and until they are clarified the Society has no canonical status in the Church and its ministers cannot legitimately exercise any ministry.”

The group has been in intermittent talks with the Vatican about returning to full communion with the Church. In 2015, Pope Francis extended the faculty to hear confession to priests of the society as part of the Jubilee Year of Mercy.

In the group’s U.S. district, however, a number of abuse allegations have surfaced in relation to the large SSPX community at St. Mary’s, Kansas, which includes the society’s K-12 school.

In its ongoing investigation of Catholic clergy abuse in Kansas, a KBI spokeswoman said the bureau has received 186 reports of abuse and had opened 112 investigations. She did not indicate how many relate directly to the SSPX.

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