Church officials OK’d moving another priest accused of abuse to Hyde Park friary, records show

CHICAGO (IL)
Chicago Sun-Times

February 26, 2021

By Robert Herguth

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A 2018 case involving St. John Stone Friary — which is near a Catholic school — caused a stir. But it wasn’t the first time a priest facing child sex-abuse allegations was moved there, once-secret records show.

Intended to be a place of contemplation, Hyde Park’s St. John Stone Friary instead became a source of consternation in 2018 when it came to light that the Rev. Richard McGrath was living there.

A former president of Providence Catholic High School in New Lenox, McGrath was accused of having child pornography on his cell phone and of sexually abusing a student and moved into the building as the allegations began to emerge.

The monastery is next to a day care center and around the corner from a Catholic elementary school. Yet no one informed the people running those institutions McGrath was living there. Not the Augustinian religious order, which occupies the friary….

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Cardinal convicted, acquitted of sexual abuse charges to speak at Ave Maria University graduation

AVE MARIA (FL)
Naples Daily News [Naples FL]

February 26, 2021

By Rachel Fradette

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Australian Cardinal George Pell, who was accused, convicted and then acquitted of sexual abuse charges, will speak at Ave Maria University’s commencement where he will also receive an honorary degree from the school.

Pell will be one of the highest-ranking Catholic Church officials to have addressed the university’s graduates, according to the school.

Pell, who once served as the Vatican’s Secretariat for the Economy, spent more than a year in prison following his conviction in 2018. The High Court of Australia overturned his conviction in April 2020.

Ave Maria University President Christopher Ice said Pell expressed to him his excitement to attend and speak at commencement.

“He went on to articulate and ask me a lot of questions about the local community and university and how things are going, very much in tune and in touch,” Ice said.

Domino’s Pizza founder Tom Monaghan founded the private Catholic university in 2003.

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Child sexual abuse victims retraumatised in their fight for justice

CHRISTCHURCH (NEW ZEALAND)
Stuff [Wellington, New Zealand]

February 27, 2021

By Mariné Lourens

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Thousands of New Zealanders were sexually abused as children in state care and faith-based institutions, but will never get the justice they need to move forward. MARINÉ LOURENS reports.

He was 12 years old when the abuse started.

The principal at his elite Christchurch Catholic school would call the boys to his office to check their lunch boxes. When J arrived, the principal would take him into his office and tell him his parents had sent him to the school “to help him become a man”.

It started with the principal giving him a pornographic magazine to look at, and asking him how it made him feel. Over the next two years, J was raped weekly, mostly in the principal’s office, but sometimes in the cathedral behind the school or the changing rooms of the local community swimming pool.

“When he raped me, I couldn’t ride my bike home.”

Forty…

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German bishops elect female leader amid abuse-dominated meeting

BONN (GERMANY)
Catholic News Service - USCCB [Washington DC]

February 26, 2021

By Anli Serfontein

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Berlin – The German bishops’ conference elected a woman as general secretary during a virtual assembly that turned into a crisis meeting focused on the church’s handling of sex abuse.

Beate Gilles, a 50-year-old theologian, became the first noncleric and woman to head the bishops’ secretariat. She will take up her post July 1.

“Last year, there was still the debate of whether a woman could hold such an office here. Now we know it is possible,” she said Feb. 23 at the news conference after her election.

Limburg Bishop Georg Bätzing, president of the bishops’ conference, said the appointment was a strong signal “that the bishops are honoring their agreement to promote women in leading positions.”

Yet Gilles’ election could not distract from the fact that the Catholic Church in Germany is under pressure and at a critical point. It has fallen into disrepute among its members after a…

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Despite cardinal’s plea, Dominicans haven’t posted a list of members credibly accused of abuse

CHICAGO (IL)
Chicago Sun-Times

February 26, 2021

By Robert Herguth

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The order’s Midwest leader blames the difficulty of corroborating allegations. Other Catholic orders have released such lists over the past few years

Eight clerics belonging to the Dominican religious order that runs a Catholic high school in Oak Park and who served in the Chicago area at some point have been accused of molesting children.

That’s according to a report a group of lawyers who have been suing the church over sex-abuse accusations put out in 2019.

And three years ago, Cardinal Blase Cupich urged all religious orders serving in the Chicago area to publish lists of members who have credibly been accused of child sexual abuse, with such lists serving as tools of transparency and healing for the victims.

But the Dominicans — who run Fenwick High School and also staff a handful of parishes around Chicago — still haven’t released such a list and say…

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Clergy abuse survivor embraces Lent, and God’s plan, again

PHILADELPHIA (PA)
CatholicPhilly.com - Archdiocese of Philadephia

February 26, 2021

By Michael McDonnell

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Perhaps someone reading this is wondering what a survivor of those abused by the clergy, religious, nuns or lay people within the Catholic church, does for Lent? The answer to that remains unclear.

I can tell you that I hear from many survivors of abuse that the public statements I have made about my own personal journey have helped them in their own. For a guy like me who has experienced failure, fault and a rock bottom, receiving these messages re-enforces my belief in God and his plan for me.

As an adolescent, an altar boy or lector as a young man, I was captivated by the Lenten season. The reverence of Ash Wednesday, stations of the cross, reconciliation and Holy Week brought great joy to me despite carrying horrific experiences. During those beautiful moments, I asked God to take my pain, my memory and shame from me, I couldn’t…

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Child Abuse Allegation Against Father Pfleger ‘Unfounded,’ DCFS Says — But Church Says Priest Not Cleared

CHICAGO (IL)
Block Club Chicago

February 26, 2021

By Kelly Bauer and Jamie Nesbitt Golden

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The investigation was to determine if Pfleger is an ongoing risk to minors. It does not relate to abuse allegations filed by two brothers in January.

A state agency has found a report of child abuse against Father Michael Pfleger to be “unfounded,” but the popular pastor has not been cleared of the decades-old abuse allegations reported by two brothers earlier this year.

The “unfounded” finding by the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services doesn’t mean an incident didn’t occur, the agency wrote in a letter to Pfleger released Friday. But it does mean investigators couldn’t find “credible evidence of child abuse or neglect” that rose “to the level required” by state law and department rules.

In a statement, the Archdiocese of Chicago said the state’s finding came because it was investigating if Pfleger, the longtime and nationally known leader of St. Sabina Church in Auburn Gresham, posed a…

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Chihuahua priest found guilty of sexual abuse of 8-year-old girl

CHIHUAHUA (MEXICO)
Mexico News Daily

February 26, 2021

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Aristeo Baca will be sentenced on March 1

A Catholic priest was found guilty guilty by a court in Chihuahua this week of the violation and sexual abuse of a minor.

Evidence from more than 20 witnesses, official experts’ reports and documentary evidence showed that the victim was sexually abused by Aristeo Baca, now 78, at least three times between 2015 and 2018.

Prosecutors said “the accused broke the relationship of trust and took advantage of the access he had to the victim, who served as an altar girl in the church where he celebrated Mass.”

Baca was arrested in Ciudad Juárez and subsequently suspended in 2019 when the family of the victim noticed her aversion to Baca and she finally spoke out about the abuse.

Initially many parishioners came out in support of Baca, and the family of another victim received threats from his supporters and were forced to…

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Michael Pfleger file image Photo credit USA Today Network

State has good news for Pfleger, but Archdiocese says abuse investigation isn’t over

CHICAGO (IL)
WBBM-TV - CBS 2 [Chicago IL]

February 26, 2021

By Steve Miller

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[Image above: Michael Pfleger file image Photo credit USA Today Network]

The state’s child-welfare agency has sent Father Michael Pfleger a letter saying an allegation of suspected child abuse is “unfounded,” but the Archdiocese indicates that’s not good enough to the activist priest yet.

The Illinois Department of Children and Family Services tells Pfleger that “no credible evidence” of child abuse was found.

Earlier this year, the Archdiocese of Chicago asked Pfleger to step aside at St. Sabina Catholic Church because of recent allegations of abuse that go back decades.

“I’m happy to get the report that they conducted their investigation and they deemed the accusation to be unfounded,” Michael Monico, Father Pfleger’s attorney, said Friday.

To unpack that a little bit: The DCFS letter to Father Pfleger means, basically, there’s no evidence children currently are in harm’s way. Still unanswered is whether the allegations from 40 years ago are…

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The Conscience of the Catholic Church

WALTHAM (MA)
Elle [New York NY]

February 26, 2021

By Rose Minutaglio

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Anne Barrett Doyle is a devoted mother, practicing Catholic, and one of the fiercest crusaders against clergy sex abuse.

“Are you Catholic?” Anne Barrett Doyle smiled at me expectantly with kind, sea-green eyes. It was months before the pandemic hit, and Barrett Doyle had invited me over to the Boston loft she and her husband moved into after the last of their four kids left for college. A crucifix hung on the wall, and a Jesus statuette prayed from a wooden desk. Several Bibles lined the bookshelf.

We sat side by side on a plush beige couch. Barrett Doyle, small and soft-spoken, with shoulder-length auburn hair and rosy cheeks, folded her hands politely and crossed her ankles.

As co-director of Bishop Accountability, an archive documenting the sexual abuse problems of the Catholic Church, Barrett Doyle has devoted her life to chronicling the prosecution of priests who have sexually abused…

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News Analysis: Will the Vatican investigate a cardinal implicated in its own abuse trial?

ROME (ITALY)
Crux [Denver CO]

February 26, 2021

By John L. Allen Jr.

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An unusual sex abuse trial currently underway in the Vatican took a potentially explosive turn Wednesday, and the response may have a great deal to say about how serious the reforms launched by Pope Francis actually are.

Three witnesses testified that Italian Cardinal Angelo Comastri, who was relieved of his position as Archpriest of St. Peter’s Basilica last Saturday by Pope Francis, or his aides, had been aware of sexual abuse allegations at a pre-seminary on Vatican grounds and took no action. Though the merits of that testimony have to be critically examined, at the very least it creates the basis for an investigation of the 77-year-old Comastri, which, depending on the outcome, could lead to a charge of criminal negligence.

This isn’t just a canonical issue about Comastri’s clerical status. In this case, the alleged crimes took place inside the Vatican itself, meaning that if Comastri did something wrong,…

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Timor-Leste: Political leadership, patriarchal relationships, and the paedophile priest

MELBOURNE (AUSTRALIA)
Monash University

February 26, 2021

By Sara Niner

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Xanana Gusmao’s recent contrived jovial participation in the birthday celebrations of “self-professed” paedophile and defrocked foreign priest Richard Daschbach has shocked many of his supporters, not least his Australian former wife and three Timorese-Australian sons who have publicly condemned the visit and written apologetic letters to the young women who are due to give evidence against Daschbach in court this week.

At the very well-publicised “birthday party” held in the home of a diehard Catholic supporter, Gusmao embraced and hand-fed Daschbach birthday cake, and tipped champagne into his mouth. The visit has been interpreted as a heavy-handed attempt to whitewash Daschbach’s ruined reputation just before the court case commences, and intimidate the prosecution, and the young witnesses who are in hiding due to just this sort of pressure.

Xanana Gusmao has come under fire for visiting self-confessed paedophile priest Richard Daschbach.

In blatantly favouring the reputation of an ex-priest over the safety and wellbeing of his alleged victims, these male elites demonstrate a fundamental element of patriarchy defined as: “… a set of social relations between men, which have a material base, and which, through hierarchy, establish or create interdependence and solidarity among men that enable them to dominate women.” (Hartmann, 1979, p11).

Xanana Gusmao has come under fire for visiting self-confessed paedophile priest Richard Daschbach.
Xanana Gusmao has come under fire for visiting self-confessed paedophile priest Richard Daschbach.

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The long road to justice for Timor-Leste’s sex abuse victims

HONG KONG
Union of Catholic Asian News

February 26, 2021

By Rock Ronald Rozario

The case of Richard Daschbach must make the tiny Catholic-majority nation confront its dark past

Finally, the wheels of justice for scores of Timorese sex abuse victims of self-confessed pedophile former priest Richard Daschbach have started to move, albeit slowly.

A court in Timor-Leste started the trial of Daschbach, 84, on Feb. 22 before it was adjourned the next day until March 22 when both sides will testify before the judges.

Richard Daschbach waves from a police van before starting his trial on Feb. 22. (Photo: YouTube)
Richard Daschbach waves from a police van before starting his trial on Feb. 22. (Photo: YouTube)

Daschbach, a US citizen and former priest and missionary from the Society of the Divine Word, is the first clergyman in the tiny Catholic-majority Southeast Asian nation to face a sex abuse trial. He faces 14 counts of child abuse including sex crimes, child pornography and domestic violence. If convicted, he faces 20 years in jail.

In the US, he faces wire fraud charges and Interpol has listed him in a red notice as a fugitive international criminal.

The case of Richard Daschbach is an extraordinary example of falling from grace for a celebrity missionary who was once revered in Timorese Catholic communities as well as social, political and religious circles.

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Priest accused of sex abuse was told to pay 20,000 euros

LAGOS (NIGERIA)
The Guardian from Agence France Presse

February 25, 2021

An Italian priest accused of sexually assaulting a teenager was told by a bishop to compensate his alleged victim with 20,000 euros, a Vatican court heard Thursday.

Father Gabriele Martinelli served as a papal altar boy in his teenage years while attending the St Pius X pre-seminary, which hosts boys interested in the priesthood.

He is accused of assaulting a younger boy enrolled at the same institution, which is located within the walls of the Vatican.

Oscar Cantoni, a bishop who looked into the allegations, told the court he had earlier proposed that Martinelli pay 20,000 euros ($24,500) to his victim, plus 5,000 euros to church officials to cover the cost of their investigation.

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As Fr Pfleger abuse inquiry continues, Chicago archdiocese counters ‘misconceptions’ of priest’s supporters

DENVER (CO)
Catholic News Agency

February 25, 2021

Chicago – Defenders of outspoken activist priest Fr. Michael Pfleger are wrong to claim an investigation has cleared him of decades-old sexual abuse allegations or to claim that the priest was singled out, the Archdiocese of Chicago has said.

Father Michael Pfleger / Photo: Daniel X. O'Neil CC BY 2.0
Father Michael Pfleger / Photo: Daniel X. O’Neil CC BY 2.0

“It is mystifying why anyone would believe the leadership of the archdiocese, which has consistently supported Fr. Pfleger’s good works, would concoct a ruse to remove him,” the Chicago archdiocese said Feb. 24.

“Let’s be clear. This case began when an adult male came forward to the archdiocese on his own with an allegation of child sexual abuse,” the archdiocese continued. “His brother subsequently came forward to the archdiocese with an allegation of child sexual abuse. The archdiocese did not have any prior contact with these men, nor did it look for them or anyone else. These men have made serious allegations, which demand that we follow the same process as we have in other cases.”

Earlier that day a group of about 100 people gathered outside the headquarters of the Chicago archdiocese to call for Pfleger’s reinstatement, the Chicago Sun-Times reports.

Pfleger, who is white, has been a politically involved community leader based out of the predominantly African-American Saint Sabina Parish in Chicago. He has served at the church since 1983 and is presently described as its senior pastor.

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Vatican abuse trial: Witnesses say allegations about youth seminary were ignored

DENVER (CO)

February 25, 2021

By Hannah Brockhaus

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Witnesses at the fifth hearing in a trial for alleged abuse and cover-up at a Vatican youth seminary testified on Wednesday to an unhealthy culture of ridicule and abuse of power.

This Oct. 14, 2020, file photo shows the Vatican City State criminal court during the opening of the trial of Father Gabriele Martinelli and Msgr. Enrico Radice. At a Vatican trial Feb. 24, former students of the St. Pius X Pre-Seminary told the court that there was an "unhealthy" environment at the seminary and that they endured psychological pressure and witnessed inappropriate touching by Father Martinelli, who is accused of abusing a younger student. (CNS photo/Vatican Media)
This Oct. 14, 2020, file photo shows the Vatican City State criminal court during the opening of the trial of Father Gabriele Martinelli and Msgr. Enrico Radice. At a Vatican trial Feb. 24, former students of the St. Pius X Pre-Seminary told the court that there was an “unhealthy” environment at the seminary and that they endured psychological pressure and witnessed inappropriate touching by Father Martinelli, who is accused of abusing a younger student. (CNS photo/Vatican Media)

The witnesses also alleged that reports of sexual abuse were ignored or dismissed by authority figures, including the cardinal in charge of St. Peter’s Basilica.

Three former students at the Pius X pre-seminary testified before the city state’s court on Feb. 24 that the environment was “unhealthy,” indicating that taunts of a sexual nature were common and that they had witnessed one of the accused grope the genitals of other students.

The three witnesses also alleged that reports of abuse were known by Cardinal Angelo Comastri, the archpriest of St. Peter’s Basilica, who dismissed them as “false and calumny.” It was reported in the course of the hearing that Comastri may have blocked the removal of the pre-seminary’s then rector, one of the defendants.

Located inside Vatican City State, the Pius X pre-seminary is a residence for about a dozen boys aged 12 to 18 who serve at papal Masses and other liturgies in St. Peter’s Basilica and are considering the priesthood.

The pre-seminary is run by a religious group, the Opera Don Folci, which is overseen by the Diocese of Como in northern Italy.

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‘Spotlight’ editor on retirement: Clergy abuse coverage has permanently changed church

KANSAS CITY (MO)
National Catholic Reporter

February 26, 2021

By Christopher White

[Includes five-minute Zoom interview with Baron.]

When Martin Baron, one of the most consequential newspaper editors in America, announced his upcoming retirement, he cited his work overseeing the Boston Globe’s coverage of clergy sexual abuse and cover-up as a highlight of his journalistic career.

Executive Editor Martin Baron, holding microphone, speaks to staff at The Washington Post in this undated photo. (Courtesy of The Washington Post)
Executive Editor Martin Baron, holding microphone, speaks to staff at The Washington Post in this undated photo. (Courtesy of The Washington Post)

“I think the impact has been really quite profound on several levels,” he told NCR ahead of his retirement. “One on investigative journalism, the other on the Catholic Church and then more broadly on institutions that are facing allegations of abuse of various types, but particularly sexual abuse.”

Baron, who will retire as executive editor of The Washington Post on Feb. 28 and who previously helmed the Globe and the Miami Herald, led news coverage of the Florida presidential ballot recount in 2000, the 9/11 terrorists attacks, the historic election of President Barack Obama, two impeachment proceedings against President Donald Trump and a global pandemic.

Yet it was his Spotlight team’s pioneering work in 2001 and 2002, which earned the Globe a Pulitzer Prize in Public Service for chronicling decades of abuse in the Boston Archdiocese and subsequent cover-up by the most powerful Catholic cleric in the country, Cardinal Bernard Law, that would be turned into an Academy Award-winning film in 2015 in which Baron was memorably portrayed by Liev Schreiber.

While Baron may be a newspaperman’s newspaperman, he doesn’t mind the fact that it was a movie that increased his prominence beyond the newsroom, telling NCR it was gratifying to see the way “Spotlight” elevated the importance of journalism.

“A film reaches tens of millions of people around the world,” said Baron, who praised the film for the way it demonstrated the significance of investigative reporting and how, if done well, it can confront power and hold it accountable.

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Clergy sex abuse survivors and whistleblower priests join together for healing and worship

NEW ORLEANS (LA)
WVUE

February 24, 2021

By Kimberly Curth

Survivors and whistleblower priests are joining together in an unconventional way. They’ve found common ground in their personal experiences speaking out about clergy sexual abuse while continuing their fight for transparency from the church.

Survivor Mark Vath.
Survivor Mark Vath.

On Sunday mornings, you will find a sanctuary for survivors. It’s a private mass that doesn’t take place within church walls.

“Yes, it is a strange experience after so many years presiding and celebrating Eucharist, not to be able to be with the people in the church and behind the altar,” said whistleblower priest, Father Ryszard Biernat.

Survivor Richard Windmann
Survivor Richard Windmann

“We deal with betrayal a lot as victims and survivors so there was the thought of betraying other victims who have completely cut themselves off from the Catholic religion, so we decided to grow it organically,” said survivor Mark Vath.

On the weekly zoom call, clergy sex abuse survivors and their families come to worship, Father Ryszard Biernat presides over the online service.

Fr. Ryszard Biernat, whistleblower priest of the Diocese of Buffalo
Fr. Ryszard Biernat, whistleblower priest of the Diocese of Buffalo

“We are there to pray together and worship God together,” said Biernat.

“I can tell you that I speak to many survivors and victims and they tell me, no, they said, they can never go back in that building, in that church again, and myself is included, if it was anybody else, I probably wouldn’t go,” said survivor Richard Windmann.

Biernat is a whistleblower priest in Buffalo, New York, credited with helping expose an alleged church sex abuse cover-up within the Diocese there. He secretly recorded Bishop Richard Malone and released the recordings to the public. In November of last year, the New York Attorney General filed a lawsuit against the Diocese of Buffalo and former senior leaders including Malone, “for failing to follow mandated policies and procedures that would help to prevent the rampant sexual abuse of minors by priests within the Catholic Church.”

“I have been suspended by Bishop Malone, day before he left, for the reason of recording him and making those recordings public and for criticizing him and my co-workers in the media,” said Biernat. “In addition to that, I would like to add that when I was in the seminary in the year 2003, I was sexually assaulted by one of the priests of the Diocese of Buffalo.”

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Brooklyn bishop calls suit accusing him of decades-old abuse ‘defamatory’

WASHINGTON (DC)
Catholic News Service via National Catholic Reporter

February 24, 2021

Brooklyn – Brooklyn Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio said Feb. 22 a lawsuit filed against him in New Jersey Superior Court over a claim of abuse that allegedly occurred decades ago “is defamatory.”

“I did not abuse the accuser or anyone else in my 50-year ministry as a priest,” he said, adding: “False claims do real damage to victims of sexual abuse.”

ishop Nicholas DiMarzio of Brooklyn, N.Y., is seen celebrating Mass Nov. 7, 2020, at St. Joseph's Seminary in Yonkers, N.Y. (CNS/Gregory A. Shemitz)
Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio of Brooklyn, N.Y., is seen celebrating Mass Nov. 7, 2020, at St. Joseph’s Seminary in Yonkers, N.Y. (CNS/Gregory A. Shemitz)

According to a story in The Tablet, Brooklyn’s diocesan newspaper the plaintiff is Samier Tadros, 47, who now lives in Daytona Beach, Florida.

He claims the abuse took place from 1978 to 1980 in Holy Rosary Church in the Archdiocese of Newark, New Jersey, the paper reported. “At the time, Bishop DiMarzio lived in the parish and, in court documents, Tadros contended that he was receiving one-on-one religious instruction from him.”

DiMarzio said in his statement that the accuser “did not attend the parish or the parish school and does not appear to have been Catholic.”

“Anyone with a minimal understanding of parish life knows that it stretches the imagination to think a priest would be providing private catechism lessons to a non-Catholic 6- or 7-year-old on a one-to-one basis,” he said. “Additionally, I simply resided at the parish in question as I was assigned by the Archdiocese of Newark to minister full-time at Catholic Charities.”

DiMarzio also said there is “nothing new” in the suit that is different from “the original letter of complaint” submitted to the Newark Archdiocese March 9, 2020. In the letter, the accuser sought $20 million.

According to a National Catholic Reporter story of June 4, 2020, Tadros’ attorney, Mitchell Garabedian, told the paper that Tadros came forward after hearing from a family member that another man, Mark Matzek, had accused the bishop of abuse that supposedly occurred in the 1970s.

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Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio says allegation of abuse ‘never happened’ and ‘false claims do real damage to victims’

BROOKLYN (NY)
The Dialog – Diocese of Brooklyn

February 24, 2021

Brooklyn Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio said Feb. 22 a lawsuit filed against him in New Jersey Superior Court over a claim of abuse that allegedly occurred decades ago “is defamatory.”

“I did not abuse the accuser or anyone else in my 50-year ministry as a priest,” he said, adding: “False claims do real damage to victims of sexual abuse.”

According to a story in The Tablet, Brooklyn’s diocesan newspaper the plaintiff is Samier Tadros, 47, who now lives in Daytona Beach, Florida.

He claims the abuse” took place from 1978 to 1980 in Holy Rosary Church in the Archdiocese of Newark, New Jersey, the paper reported. “At the time, Bishop DiMarzio lived in the parish and, in court documents, Tadros contended that he was receiving one-on-one religious instruction from him.”

Bishop DiMarzio said in his statement that the accuser “did not attend the parish or the parish school and does not appear to have been Catholic.”

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Bendigo Catholic church leader ‘deeply disappointed’ that ribbons were removed from cathedral fence

BENDIGO (VICTORIA, AUSTRALIA)
Bendigo Advertiser

February 25, 2021

By Tom O’Callaghan

A senior Bendigo Catholic leader is “deeply disappointed” in the person who removed ribbons from a “loud fence” at the city’s cathedral.

The ribbons are both a protest and an acknowledgement of the church’s role in institutional sexual and other abuse and have appeared regularly on fences of religious institutions.

The Very Reverend Brian Boyle said he found out someone had them down late on Wednesday afternoon.

The Very Reverend Brian Boyle is deeply disappointed that ribbons protesting and acknowledging the Catholic church's role in institutionalised sexual abuse have been removed. Picture: Supplied
The Very Reverend Brian Boyle is deeply disappointed that ribbons protesting and acknowledging the Catholic church’s role in institutionalised sexual abuse have been removed. Picture: Supplied

“The ribbons had been taken without my permission or authorisation as administrator of the Cathedral, or without the permission or authorisation of the Bishop of Sandhurst,” he said.

“I would welcome individuals or groups to put ribbons back on the fence surrounding the Sacred Heart Cathedral in Bendigo to show support for those who have suffered from sexual abuse,” he said.

Dr Boyle was planning to add more ribbons either later on Thursday or tomorrow.

He was also preparing to address the matter in a church bulletin that would likely circulate over the weekend.

“In the bulletin, I will be suggesting that the whole purpose of the ribbons are to draw attention to the silent suffering that so many people have been through over the last several decades as victims of sexual abuse – particularly as it affects the Catholic community in this country,” Dr Boyle said.

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‘Hidden Predator’ bill for child sex-abuse victims to sue in Georgia advances

ROME (GA)
Rome News Tribune

February 23, 2021

By Beau Evans

A Georgia House subcommittee approved legislation that would prohibit local governments from adopting building codes based on the source of energy to be used.

Legislation to extend the statute of limitations for Georgians who were sexually abused as children to sue their abusers years later as adults advanced in the state House of Representatives on Tuesday.

Sponsored by Georgia Rep. Heath Clark, R-Warner Robins, the bill would extend the deadline for victims to bring suits against their childhood abusers to age 52, a steep increase from age 23 under current state law.

The bill would let victims sue their alleged abusers up to a year after realizing that past abuse has led to present-day trauma. Research shows adults often tend to recognize the impacts of childhood sex abuse decades after it happened.

Controversially, the bill would also give victims a four-year window to sue public and private organizations like the Catholic Church and the Boy Scouts of America for harboring predators on staff who abused them as children.

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Alleged abuse victim of Brooklyn bishop files civil lawsuit

DENVER (CO)
Catholic News Agency

February 3, 2021

Trenton, N.J. – An alleged abuse victim who last year went public with allegations against the Bishop of Brooklyn has now filed a lawsuit in a New Jersey court, claiming that the bishop abused him repeatedly in the late 1970s and early 1980s.

Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio of Brooklyn.
Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio of Brooklyn.

Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio of Brooklyn has denied all claims against him, calling the accusations “defamatory.”

The lawsuit concerns allegations that Samier Tadros, who now lives in Florida and says he was six years old at the time of the abuse, made public during summer 2020.

The Associated Press reported last June that Tadros had accused DiMarzio of sexual abuse, allegedly committed while DiMarzio was a parish priest in the Archdiocese of Newark.

Tadros, 47, asserts in the lawsuit that the abuse occurred when DiMarzio was giving him “instruction in Catholic doctrine and the Catholic faith” at Holy Rosary parish in Jersey City, where DiMarzio was assigned while a parish priest, in 1979 and 1980.

DiMarzio is already the subject of a Vatican ordered Vos estis investigation, following an allegation made during November 2019.

Mark Matzek alleges that DiMarzio and another priest, now deceased, repeatedly abused him when he was an altar server at St. Nicholas Catholic Church in the Archdiocese of Newark in the 1970s.

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Opinion: Are you a former New Yorker? Time’s almost up for childhood sex-abuse survivors to seek justice

MIAMI (FL)
Miami Herald

February 19, 2021

By Jennifer Freeman

Former New York residents who experienced sex abuse as children, no matter how long ago, can file claims to hold culpable institutions, individuals accountable.

We all know it — every year, thousands of New Yorkers move to Florida for its warm weather and leisurely lifestyle. Some stay — I’m a former New Yorker delighted to be living in the Sunshine State for the past three years. The pandemic has accelerated this trend, with thousands more choosing Florida as a new home.

Yet most former New Yorkers have no idea that our legal rights were dramatically expanded recently. In 2019, New York State enacted landmark legislation that makes it possible to seek justice for decades-old child sex-abuse crimes — the Child Victims Act (CVA). For a short time, this new law suspends the statute of limitations for child sex-abuse claims and provides a unique opportunity for survivors of such abuse, which happened in New York, to seek accountability and finality.

But the time to take action is almost up. The CVA provides a one-time, two-year window for survivors to sue for abuse regardless of when the abuse occurred. Survivors have until early August 2021 to seek justice against institutions such as the Catholic Church, New York medical institutions, public and private schools, foster-care providers, athletic organizations, religious groups, summer camps and any other entity, as well as individuals who perpetrated or enabled these heinous crimes.

This law doesn’t just apply to current New York residents, it extends to anyone who was ever abused in New York, no matter how long ago and regardless of where they live now. If you grew up in New York State and suffered abuse at the hands of a clergy member, youth director, doctor, teacher, coach, family member or anyone else, this law applies to you. Over the past year, following New York’s lead, several states have reformed their statutes of limitation; sadly, Florida is not among them — but we’re working on it.

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Ex-US Priest Goes on Trial in East Timor on Sex Abuse Charges

OECUSSE (EAST TIMOR)
Associated Press via NBC10 Philadelphia

February 23, 2021

By Raimundos Oki

A defrocked American priest went on trial Tuesday to face charges he sexually abused young girls at his shelter for orphans and children from impoverished families, in the first clergy sex case to emerge in East Timor — the most Catholic place in the world outside the Vatican.

A police officer escorts Richard Daschbach, left, a former missionary from Pennsylvania, U.S. upon his arrival for a trial at a courthouse in Oecusse, East Timor, Tuesday, Feb. 23, 2021.
A police officer escorts Richard Daschbach, left, a former missionary from Pennsylvania, U.S. upon his arrival for a trial at a courthouse in Oecusse, East Timor, Tuesday, Feb. 23, 2021. Raimundos Oki / AP

Richard Daschbach, 84, a former missionary from Pennsylvania, is facing 14 counts of sexual abuse of children under 14 years old, as well as one count each of child pornography and domestic violence, according to the country’s prosecutor general.

He faces up to 20 years in prison if convicted.

Police presence was heavy at the small courthouse near the beach, as about 100 supporters of the former priest showed up but were denied entry to the courtroom for the closed proceedings.

Devout followers in the young country of 1.3 million — 97% of whom are Catholic — have been sharply divided by the case, with some families and politicians pitted against one another and tensions so high accusers fear they will be targeted by violence if publicly identified.

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Sioux City diocese settles sexual abuse lawsuit

SIOUX CITY (SD)
Sioux City Journal

February 22, 2021

By Nick Hytrek

A man who had alleged that he was sexually abused by a priest in the late 1960s has settled a lawsuit against the Diocese of Sioux City.

Samuel Heinrichs had sued the diocese in October 2019, saying he was sexually and physically abused by the Rev. Dale Koster at Our Lady of Mount Carmel in Mount Carmel, Iowa.

Terms of the settlement agreement are confidential, said Heinrichs’ attorney, Patrick Hopkins, of West Des Moines.

“We were able to resolve the case,” Hopkins said.

The diocese released a similar statement.

“The matter has been resolved,” said Dawn Prosser, director of communications.

The lawsuit, filed in Woodbury County District Court, was dismissed Wednesday.

Heinrichs, who was living in California when the suit was filed, was a student at the Our Lady of Mount Carmel grade school when Koster was the head of the school, and the abuse began in 1968 when Heinrichs was in the fourth and fifth grade and recurred when he was in the eighth grade, the lawsuit said.

“Koster used his status and substantial power as a priest to groom (Heinrichs) for sexual abuse, to convince plaintiff that the abuse was normal, to convince him that reporting his abuse would be futile and to sexually abuse him,” the lawsuit said.

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Child sex abuse lawsuit names Diocese of Ogdensburg as defendant

WATERTOWN (NY)
NNY360

February 22, 2021

By Sydney Schaeffer

Ogdensburg – The Diocese of Ogdensburg has been named as a defendant in a child sex abuse lawsuit filed in state Supreme Court late last week.

The plaintiff, identified in court documents as LG 83 DOE, filed suit Feb. 17 in state Supreme Court in St. Lawrence County against the diocese and St. John the Baptist Church in Keeseville, which is a hamlet that straddles the border of Clinton and Essex counties.

The plaintiff is a resident of New York state and was born in 1963.

In the suit, it’s alleged that Monsignor Thomas J. Robillard, who is now dead, committed acts of sexual assault, battery, rape and more against the plaintiff. The alleged acts happened between the years of 1970 and 1973 at the Keeseville church.

Monsignor Robillard, an Ogdensburg native, served at various other churches in St. Lawrence and Lewis counties throughout his career with the diocese. He retired in 1993 and resided in Norfolk until his death.

Monsignor Robillard died at Claxton-Hepburn Medical Center in March 2009. He was 91 years old.

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Lawsuit Filed Against Children’s Home of Poughkeepsie

POUGHKEEPSIE (NY)
Hudson Valley Post

February 18, 2021

By Bobby Welber

On Wednesday, Greenstein & Milbauer, LLP, a personal injury law firm based in New York City filed a lawsuit in Dutchess County Supreme Court alleging that from approximately 2004-2008, when the victim was approximately 12 to 16 years old, he was repeatedly sexually abused while a resident at The Children’s Home of Poughkeepsie.

Helen Fahy, acting as an or the administrator of The Children’s Home of Poughkeepsie, allegedly groomed the boy over a period of time before physically assaulting him. The sexual abuse endured for approximately 3.5 years, officials say.

“Helen Fahy had Plaintiff participate in mutual oral sex and intercourse at least once per week at her office at The Children’s Home of Poughkeepsie and every day at her home when Plaintiff was on break. It is alleged that throughout the period in which the abuse occurred, Defendants were generally negligent, they negligently employed, supervised, and retained employees, agents, and/or representatives, including Helen Fahy, who sexually abused minor residents, including Plaintiff, and gave them access to children,” Greenstein & Milbauer, LLP wrote in a press release.

*

Helen Fahy is listed on the New York State Sex Offender’s database as a Level-2 Sex offender. In 2017 she was sentenced to 18 months in prison after she was convicted for raping someone younger than 17-years-old. She was arrested by the Hyde Park Police Department in 2016, according to the New York State Sex Offenders database.

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Number of people suing Children’s Village for alleged sex assault doubles to 22

YONKERS (NY)
News 12

February 22, 2021

News 12 has learned that the number of people suing The Children’s Village in Dobbs Ferry for sexual assault allegations has now doubled.

Eleven more men have come forward with allegations against The Children’s Village, bringing the total to 22.

The survivors claim they were sexually abused by staff and older residents when they were boys as young as 6. Their allegations date back to the 70s.

The attorney representing the men discussed with News 12 why they are coming forward now, decades after their alleged abuse.
“Their sexual identity to a certain extent was thrown into question when they were kids. Some of them had been fed alcohol and drugs,” says Robert Greenstein, the plaintiffs’ attorney.

The Children’s Village was supposed to be a safe haven for kids – many of them homeless, runaways or juvenile delinquents.

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New Orleans archdiocese overhauls support for sex abuse survivors

WASHINGTON (DC)
Catholic News Service via National Catholic Reporter

February 22, 2021

By Paul Finney Jr.

New Orleans – An ongoing series of discussions between New Orleans Archbishop Gregory M. Aymond and Kevin Bourgeois, the leader of the New Orleans chapter of Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, or SNAP, has led to a significant broadening and restructuring of Archdiocese of New Orleans’ response to abuse survivors.

Aymond announced Feb. 11 that Joey Pistorius, director of the archdiocesan Catholic Counseling Service, will become the archdiocese’s new Victims’ Assistance coordinator April 1.

The victims’ assistance office will move from its current location in the archdiocesan administrative offices to the offices of the Catholic Counseling Service.

In addition, Bourgeois, who is a licensed clinical social worker, will serve as a volunteer who will offer training to the counseling team when there are disclosures of sexual abuse trauma.

The archbishop, on the recommendation of Bourgeois and other victims’ advocates, also will appoint a sexual abuse survivor to the Independent Review Board, a body primarily composed of lay professionals who review allegations of abuse to determine their credibility and make such recommendations to the archbishop.

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Survivors of sex abuse by nuns suffer decades of delayed healing

KANSAS CITY (MO)
Global Sisters Report – National Catholic Reporter

February 22, 2021

By Dawn Araujo-Hawkins

Anne Gleeson was 12 years old when she says Sister of St. Joseph of Carondelet Judith Fisher — her charismatic, redheaded history teacher at Immacolata School in Richmond Heights, Missouri — began singling her out for special attention.

“She’d wander around the classroom, and she’d lean on my chair and press her fingers into my back. Or she’d send me a little note or leave a present in my desk,” Gleeson, now 63, said. The secret, forbidden touches gave Gleeson shivers.

She says the rape began in 1971 when she was 13, although it would take three decades and some therapy for her to recognize it as such. In Gleeson’s adolescent mind, she was simply head over heels in love with a woman 24 years her senior. The sexual contact happened anywhere and everywhere, Gleeson said: in stairwells at the school, in Fisher’s bedroom at the convent, on the overnight trips Fisher arranged with Gleeson’s mother and another Sister of St. Joseph.

To me, it was almost miraculous,” Gleeson told Global Sisters Report. “I was even kind of jealous of the ring on her finger. She was the bride of Christ — and, yet, she told me that we would always be together forever.”

According to the watchdog group BishopAccountability.org, as of September 2020, 162 women religious have been publicly accused of sexual abuse in the United States. Mary Dispenza, who heads the subgroup within the Survivors Network for those Abused by Priests (SNAP) for those abused by Catholic sisters, has received more than 90 phone calls and emails with stories of both physical and sexual abuse, about 60 of them just in the last two years.

But Dispenza, a former Religious of the Sacred Heart of Mary, suspects that the real total might be in the thousands. After all, there are more than 6,700 credible abuse accusations against priests, and women religious, globally, outnumber priests by more than 200,000.

But for two decades, the singular focus of both the media and the Catholic Church when it comes to sexual abuse seems to have been only priests.

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‘I exploited them’: Ex-priest and ALP official ‘ashamed’ of child sexual abuse

SYDNEY (NEW SOUTH WALES, AUSTRALIA)
Sydney Morning Herald

February 23, 2021

By Jenny Noyes

A former Labor party official and Catholic priest told a Sydney court he feels guilty and ashamed for exploiting vulnerable boys in Vietnam and the Philippines for his own sexual gratification and said he never doubted that what he was doing was criminal.

Peter Andrew Hansen, who has also practised as a lawyer, gave evidence during a sentence hearing in the NSW District Court on Tuesday after he pleaded guilty earlier this month to 31 charges, including one of engaging in sexual intercourse with a child under 18 in the Philippines and 15 counts of producing child abuse material.

He said he feels guilt and shame not only for breaking the law but for “contravening my own standards of morality” in his exploitation of the boys he abused.

“The record of my life says I did work for people who were in difficult circumstances and yet here with these victims, these boys, I exploited them.

“I didn’t only exploit their age, I exploited the fact they came from a poor Asian country,” he told the court. “I not only contravened society’s standards… I also used and manipulated to my own advantage, a power imbalance between me and them.”

“I never doubted the criminality of my action and I understand that exacerbates my culpability,” he said.

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Vatican projects nearly 50M-euro deficit due to COVID losses

ROME (ITALY)
Associated Press

February 19, 2021

By Nicole Winfield

The Vatican said Friday it expects a deficit of nearly 50 million euros ($60.7 million) this year because of pandemic-related losses, a figure that grows to 80 million euros ($97 million) when donations from the faithful are excluded.

The Vatican released a summary of its 2021 budget that was approved by Pope Francis and the Holy See’s Council for the Economy, a commission of outside experts who oversee the Vatican’s finances. The publication was believed to be the first time the Vatican has released its projected consolidated budget, part of Francis’ drive to make the Vatican’s finances more transparent and accountable.

The Vatican has run a deficit for the past several years, narrowing it to 11 million euros in 2019 from a hole of 75 million euros in 2018. The Vatican said Friday it anticipated the deficit would grow to 49.7 million euros in 2021 but that it expected to make up the shortfall with reserves.

Francis particularly wanted to release information about the Peter’s Pence collections from the faithful, which are billed as a concrete way to help the pope in his ministry and works of charity but are also used to run the Holy See bureaucracy.

The funds have come under scrutiny amid a financial scandal about how those donations were invested by the Vatican’s secretariat of state.

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Clergy sex abuse jury trial moved to July 2022 due to scheduling error

ALAMOGORDO (NM)
Alamogordo Daily News

February 22, 2021

By Nicole Maxwell

The case alleging complicity in the rape of a child against several Catholic entities scheduled to begin in December 2021 was moved to July 2022.

The case was originally scheduled to go to jury trial on December 13, 2021, but that trial date was canceled due to a scheduling error, court records show.

A pre-trial conference is set for June 9, 2022 in front of New Mexico Second Judicial District Judge Daniel Ramczyk with the jury trial expected to begin at 8 a.m. on July 11, 2022.

The case was filed by a John Doe against several parishes, dioceses and the Servants of the Paraclete alleging each were complicit in allowing Fr. David Holley, who moved to Alamogordo in the 1970s, to sexually abuse the complainant.

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Will Pope have a ‘Pell Problem’ with Super Mario over visions of reform?

DENVER (CO)
Crux

February 21, 2021

By John L. Allen Jr.

Rome – During the St. John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI years, the Vatican had a council of cardinals from around the world who allegedly oversaw its financial affairs. Members of that body routinely complained that the information they received was incomplete, that it lacked credibility and was fundamentally untrustworthy.

Two of the prelates voicing those objections most consistently were Cardinals Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Buenos Aires, Argentina, and George Pell of Sydney, Australia. Thus when the new “Papa Bergoglio” made Pell his tip of the spear for Vatican financial reform in February 2014, it boiled down to one veteran reformer turning to another, despite their clear ideological differences on other fronts.

Unfortunately, the odd couple partnership between Francis and Pell fell apart almost before it could begin. The rift had nothing to do with the sexual abuse charges against Pell in his native Australia, which came later – it was about the transition from what the two men had been against, to what they were actually for.

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Ex-US Priest on Trial in East Timor on Sex Abuse Charges

OECUSSE (EAST TIMOR)
Associated Press via The Citizens Voice

February 23, 2021

By Raimudos Oki

A defrocked American priest went on trial Tuesday to face charges he sexually abused young girls at his shelter for orphans and children from impoverished families, in the first clergy sex case to emerge in East Timor — the most Catholic place in the world outside the Vatican.

Richard Daschbach, 84, a former missionary from Pennsylvania, is facing 14 counts of sexual abuse of children under 14 years old, as well as one count each of child pornography and domestic violence, according to the country’s prosecutor general.

He faces up to 20 years in prison if convicted.

Police presence was heavy at the small courthouse near the beach, as about 100 supporters of the former priest showed up but were denied entry to the courtroom for the closed proceedings.

Devout followers in the young country of 1.3 million — 97% of whom are Catholic — have been sharply divided by the case, with some families and politicians pitted against one another and tensions so high accusers fear they will be targeted by violence if publicly identified.

Former President Xanana Gusmao, himself a revered revolutionary fighter, was briefly present in the courtroom with Daschbach on Tuesday. The former leader is still very powerful in the country, and some — including his own children — have questioned why he is publicly supporting a man accused of abusing children.

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Lawsuit accuses Brooklyn bishop of sex abuse in Jersey City decades ago

WOODLAND PARK (NJ)
The Record and NorthJersey.com

February 22, 2021

By Abbott Koloff

One of two men who have accused Brooklyn Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio of sexually abusing them as children in Jersey City decades ago has filed a lawsuit based on allegations that he made public last year.

The suit, filed last week in New Jersey Superior Court, alleges that DiMarzio sexually abused the man repeatedly when he was a 6-year-old boy at Holy Rosary parish in 1979 and 1980. The accuser, Samier Tadros, who lives in Florida, went public with the allegation in 2020, months after another man publicly alleged that he had been abused by DiMarzio at another Jersey City parish in the 1970s.

The bishop has in the past denied the allegations by both men. On Monday, his attorney, Joseph Hayden, issued a statement saying DiMarzio had passed a lie detector test.

“The allegations in the lawsuit against Bishop DiMarzio never happened,” Hayden said in the statement.

He said DiMarzio agreed to take a lie detector test after a letter alleging abuse was sent to the Catholic Archdiocese of Newark in March 2020. That letter had been sent by Tadros and his attorney. The bishop’s “categorical denial of the claim was found to be truthful by an independent retired law-enforcement polygrapher of national stature,” Hayden said in the statement.

The statement addressed only the allegation in the lawsuit. Hayden said in a subsequent email that DiMarzio was also asked during the lie detector test about allegations made by the other accuser. “He categorically denied both allegations and he was found to be truthful as to both answers,” Hayden said.

Both accusers are represented by Mitchell Garabedian, a Boston attorney, who said he anticipates filing a second lawsuit “in the near future.” The attorney said in an email that lie detector tests are “unscientific and therefore unreliable. The results of it would not be admissible in court.”

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Resigning from priesthood, Harrison claims Fresno Catholic Bishop sacrificed ‘the Gospel for politics and money’

FRESNO (CA)
San Joaquin Valley Sun

February 18, 2021

By Alex Tavlian

Craig Harrison, a longtime priest with the Fresno Roman Catholic Diocese who held the title of Monsignor, resigned his post on Thursday following a 22-month leave that sparked a flurry of defamation lawsuits stemming from accusations of misconduct.

“It was almost two years ago that Bishop Armando Ochoa called me into his office to put me on temporary administrative leave because of a phone call he said he received of an accusation against me,” Harrison said during a Thursday afternoon press conference at the office of his attorney.

[Craig Harrison]

Through 2019 and early 2020, prosecutors in four counties investigated the claims and uniformly declined to prosecute on a combination of insufficient evidence or lapse in the statute of limitations for the offenses.

“He wouldn’t tell me what the accusation, he wouldn’t tell me where it came from, and the church’s guidelines have always said that before a priest is removed, an investigation has to be done to protect his name.”

Subsequent to discussions with Ochoa, in April 2019, a wave of accusations and claims of sexual misconduct perpetrated by Harrison dating back to his earliest priestly duties in Fresno, Merced, and Kern counties emerged.

“That did not happen,” Harrison said of an initial, internal inquiry by the Diocese.

During the emotional press conference, Harrison said Ochoa declined to initiate an internal probe because he was “leaving office.”

Ochoa was succeeded by Bishop Joseph Brennan in May 2019.

“Finally! Someone would investigate and my name would be cleared,” Harrison said of Brennan’s arrival. “Instead, I waited for months. Finally, the Bishop contacted me and left a phone message on my recorder telling me that – even though he had only been in office for two months – he was going on vacation.”

“My life was on hold.”

Harrison said his next brush with the Diocese was when Fresno Diocese spokeswoman Teresa Dominguez spoke with KQED, the Bay Area National Public Radio affiliate.

Harrison is currently suing Dominguez, along with the Diocese, for defamation for comments originating from that interview.

“I had a death threat and still not one word from the Diocese of Fresno,” he added.

Choking up, Harrison noted that not a single member of Diocese personnel had asked him a single question about the allegations during the two-year freeze.

Harrison detailed a back-and-forth of written restrictions from Brennan on his personal conduct while on leave. Among them: restricting his ability to post reflections and prayers on Facebook, participating in funeral services of friends, wearing dark clothing.

He stopped to note his light blue dress shirt and light gray plaid jacket.

“I have done everything I can to comply with the rules the Bishop changes every day,” Harrison said, holding back tears. “But now the rules have gone too far.”

Harrison eventually announced that he sent a letter of resignation to Pope Francis.

“I cannot ignore my call from Christ to serve and minister to his people,” Harrison said. “I have come to accept that I cannot do this within any organization led by people who are willing to sacrifice the Gospel for politics and money.”

He added that his call to minister has “never been stronger” and said he would continue to preach, albeit beyond the cloth of the Catholic Church.

After issuing a prepared statement emotionally excoriating Brennan, Harrison’s attorney Kyle J. Humphrey continued.

“This result [of Harrison’s resignation] is a result of the failure of the Bishop in his obligations to seek truth and justice,” Humphrey said.

Humphrey similarly blamed lack of transparency, shifting Diocesan rules, and lack of integrity from Church management as driving the Harrison’s untimely exit from the priesthood.

The Fresno Roman Catholic Diocese, now under the management of Brennan, engaged its own internal investigation into priest misconduct, both including and beyond allegations related to Harrison, with the assistance of former FBI Executive Assistant Director Kathleen McChesney.

The Sun has contacted the Fresno Roman Catholic Diocese for comment on Harrison’s exit.

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Timor-Leste starts child abuse trial of former US priest

HONG KONG
Union of Catholic Asian News

February 22, 2021

Richard Daschbach faces 14 charges of sexual abuse of children under the age of 14, child pornography and domestic violence

Dili, East Timor – A court in Timor-Leste has started the trial of a self-confessed pedophile American priest who was dismissed from the priesthood by the Vatican on charges of child abuse in 2018.

The trial of Richard Daschbach, 84, a former priest and missionary from the Society of the Divine Word, started on Feb. 22 but was abruptly postponed until the next day, reported Associated Press.

According to Timor-Leste’s prosecutor general, Daschbach faces 14 charges of sexual abuse of children under the age of 14, child pornography and domestic violence. If convicted, he faces up to 20 years in prison.

Meanwhile, he also faces wire fraud charges in his homeland in the US and has been placed on Interpol’s red notice list, an online database of fugitive international criminals.

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East Timor postpones child sex abuse trial of ex-US priest

OECUSSE (EAST TIMOR)
Associated Press via ABC News

February 21, 2021

East Timor abruptly postponed the trial of a defrocked American priest facing allegations he sexually abused young girls at a children’s shelter he ran in a remote enclave in East Timor — one of the most Catholic places on Earth

East Timor abruptly postponed the trial Monday of a defrocked American priest facing allegations he sexually abused young girls at a children’s shelter he ran in a remote enclave in East Timor — one of the most Catholic places on Earth.

Soon after Richard Daschbach, a former missionary from Pennsylvania, arrived in the courtroom, judges said they needed more time to make revisions to documents and asked the 84-year-old defendant to return on Tuesday.

The former priest is charged with 14 counts of sexual abuse of children under the age of 14, as well as counts of child pornography and domestic violence, according to the country’s Prosecutor General.

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Somebody Needs to Be Dad

NEW YORK (NY)
First Things

February 22, 2021

By Francis X. Maier

For Catholics, the Second Vatican Council (1962–65) stands as the key event of the last 60 years. It renewed the Church’s self-understanding. It reimagined her relations with the Jewish people, other Christians, and the world. It also acknowledged in a new and powerful way the importance of the lay vocation.

It did not, however, break radically with the past, notably regarding authority. In the person of the local bishop, stressed the council, “the Lord Jesus Christ . . . is present in the midst of the faithful.” Every local bishop has the authority to teach, encourage, govern, and correct the faithful entrusted to him. Thus, as “father and pastor” of his people, he should be “an example of sanctity in charity, humility, and simplicity of life,” with the duty to “mold his flock into one family” so that all “may live and act in the communion of charity.”

Those are beautiful words. They’re also profoundly sobering. Reading the council’s documents about the duties placed on a bishop is a bracing experience. Ambition in the Church is not necessarily a bad thing; it’s naïve to assume otherwise. But any man longing for the job had better think twice and carefully. Any privileges that once went with the work of a bishop have thinned out over the past few decades as the demands have fattened up. The abuse scandal of the last 20 years, the hostility of today’s cultural and political environment, and the toxic nature of criticism within the Church herself have led many men—some claim as many as a third of candidates—to turn down the episcopacy when offered. Mediocre, incompetent, and even bad men still do become bishops. The remarkable thing is how many of our bishops, the great majority, are good men doing their best, and doing it well, as a “father and pastor.” I saw this firsthand in 27 years of diocesan service. I observed it again and again over the past two months.

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Fr. Craig Harrison, in an emotional announcement, steps away from priesthood

BAKERSFIELD (CA)
KGET

February 18, 2021

By Robert Price

Monsignor Craig Harrison’s battle of almost two years with the Roman Catholic Diocese of Fresno appears to have come to a close — at least in the most meaningful sense.

Harrison announced Thursday he is leaving the priesthood.

It was an emotional day for Harrison, both difficult and liberating. After almost two years of limbo — suspended by the Diocese over allegations of sexual impropriety and barred from even the appearance of performing priestly duties — Harrison, pastor of Bakersfield’s St. Francis of Assisi Church, surrounded by family and his team of attorneys — announced he was moving on.

It’s time, he said, to re-engage with the community, even if it’s without his clerical collar.

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In Ireland, the Candle of Atonement Reminds Victims of Abuse

ARMAGH (IRELAND)
Swords Today

February 17, 2021

By Scout Mitchell

Since 2017, the Catholic Church in Ireland has dedicated a day of prayer for victims of sexual abuse. “I am convinced that prayer and relationships with survivors of abuse are a modern creation of physical and spiritual compassion,” said Bishop Emon Martin, President of the Episcopal Conference in Ireland.

The first Friday of Lent, February 19, is celebrated in Ireland as a day of prayer for survivors and victims of sexual abuse.

Lent has been celebrated in Ireland every year since 2017, at the behest of Pope Francis, at the behest of some of the survivors. During the day, read a prayer and light candles of atonement in the cathedrals and in all the parishes of the country, “As a church apologize for the suffering caused by the abuse.”

“When we light these candles, we will remember our brothers and sisters and their families who marked their lives by the abuse they suffered,” explains Bishop Emon Martin, Archbishop of Armagh and President of the Episcopal Conference in Ireland. “His faith was severely betrayed, and those responsible for the abuse within the church brutally tested his faith.”

The Irish Catholic Primate recalls the honor of meeting the abused, survivors and their families several times in the four provinces of Ireland: “Many have told me about the importance of prayer and the need for the Church to be open to justice and atonement, never to forget them. I was humbled by his courage and I moved by his courage ”.

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Who’d want to be a witness when it just means more trauma?

SYDNEY (NEW SOUTH WALES, AUSTRALIA)
Sydney Morning Herald

February 12, 2021

By Declan Fry

“Groomers groom communities, not just children.” This sentiment occurs throughout Witness, veteran investigative journalist Louise Milligan’s follow-up to 2017’s Walkley Award-winning Cardinal: The Rise and Fall of George Pell. Working deep within the ninth circle of Dante’s hell, Milligan’s counsel interviewees (almost invariably men) seek to uphold the principle of “beyond reasonable doubt” at any cost – especially if the client is both monied and powerful.

Through her experience as a witness during the Pell trial, Milligan, who won the people’s choice award in the Victorian Premier’s Literary Awards, learns first-hand how the adversarial system of cross-examination – with its indignities and seething manipulations, its brow-beating and haranguing – visits new traumas upon the multiply abused. Yes, multiply: first by their abuser; then by their trial; and finally by the aftermath of the process – perhaps the abuse whose pain lingers longest.

Although she acknowledges that there are counsel ready to engage in cross-examination without eviscerating witnesses, much of the old guard depicted here don’t trouble themselves too much. Among them, Robert Richter QC emerges as one of the more vain, tunnel-visioned, and immoderately foolish – not least in his own words.

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Vigil held for victims of abuse, including minor allegedly abused by Juarez priest

EL PASO (TX)
KTSM

February 19, 2021

By Natassia Paloma

A vigil was held Friday in Juarez for women and children.

Several organizations came together to bring awareness for women, boy and girls who are victims of abuse.

Candles were lit, and participants dressed in black.

At the vigil, organizers demanded a fair trial for a minor who was allegedly abused by a priest, Aristeo Baca.

The trial ended this week with final arguments. Judges will give final sentence next week.

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Sex abuse survivors lose archive as Facebook removes news from ‘life saving’ site

AUSTRALIA
Australian Broadcasting Corporation

February 18, 2021

By Rhiannon Shine

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2021-02-18/facebook-news-ban-sees-sex-abuse-survivors-lose-archive/13167708?fbclid=IwAR0Ae90iNd4m0iwxT_ZtYqe8RR3p_yEQot98o-PtMZYAVAy37gJKLa2vwRs

A survivor of clergy abuse who started a Facebook group to help other survivors says he is “devastated” by the social media giant’s decision to block Australian news.

Richie Scutt, who was sexually abused by an Anglican priest when he was 11 years old, started the Facebook group Survivors and Friends in 2016.

He said he started the group to share news reports on the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse and it became a lifeline for many.

Mr Scutt said the group had grown to around 200 members from across Australia and still primarily shared news stories.

He estimated more than 2,000 news articles had been shared to the Facebook group since 2016, and said he was devastated to find they had all disappeared when he logged onto Facebook this morning.

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74-yr-old pastor arrested in Kerala for alleged sexual assault of minor girl

KERALA (INDIA)
The News Minute

February 21, 2021

The accused pastor, who according to police, goes around houses preaching religious matters, was arrested from Konnathady on Saturday.

Kunnathunad police in Ernakulam district on Saturday arrested a 74-year-old Christian pastor for allegedly sexually assaulting a minor girl. The accused, Mathew is a resident of Mukaddam near Konnathady in Idukki district. According to the police, the crime took place in January and the girl’s mother who came to know about the incident filed a complaint in Kunnathunad police station. The accused pastor, who according to police, goes around houses preaching religious matters, was arrested from Konnathady on Saturday.

Mathew has been charged with various provisions under Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act, said police. “We cannot reveal other details on where the alleged crime took place or other details as that would reveal the identity of the child,” an official of Kunnathunad police station said. After the arrest, the accused has been remanded to judicial custody by court.

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Eton hires council officer who urged police action over abuser

ENGLAND
The Sunday Times

February 21, 2021

By Sian Griffiths

The safeguarding leader who prompted the school to report concerns over a teacher now in jail has been taken on full-time

Eton College has appointed its first director of safeguarding after a child abuse scandal that she helped stop.

Alice Vicary-Stott has been hired to the full-time post at the boys-only boarding school, where Princes William and Harry and Boris Johnson were educated.

Her appointment follows last year’s conviction of Matthew Mowbray, who taught at Eton for more than 20 years, for offences against pupils at the £42,500-a- year school.

Vicary-Stott was the “local authority designated officer” overseeing children’s safety for three councils when Eton first reported its suspicions about Mowbray to her in May 2019. She advised that the case be referred to the police and Mowbray was arrested within days.

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Former student sues The Bishop’s School over allegations of past sexual abuse by teacher

LA JOLLA (CA)
La Jolla Light

February 19, 2021

By Ashley Mackin-Solomon

The Bishop’s School in La Jolla has been sued by a former student over allegations of sexual misconduct by a teacher while the student was a minor during the 1970s and ‘80s.

The suit, filed in November in San Diego County Superior Court, alleges offenses including sexual battery, intentional infliction of emotional distress and unlawful sexual intercourse with a minor. The unidentified plaintiff seeks damages “in an amount to be determined at trial.” A trial date has not been set.

The suit accuses the plaintiff’s former teacher of inappropriate sexual behavior — including “grooming” her from the time she was 12 years old up to their sexual encounters when she was 17 — and accuses the school of covering up the teacher’s actions and creating an environment that allowed it to continue.

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Today – Watch SIPE: SEX, LIES, AND THE PRIESTHOOD

Click here for tickets to the world premiere of SIPE: SEX, LIES, AND THE PRIESTHOOD. Includes a conversation with the filmmakers and a panel discussion at 8pm Eastern.

Richard Sipe was a former Benedictine monk and Catholic priest, trained as a psychotherapist to deal with the mental health problems of the clergy. Over the years he dealt with the records of over six thousand patients and recognized a pattern of behavior within the Church that eventually led him to leave the priesthood. “The monastery that had been my idealistic home when I was thirteen, by the time I was thirty-seven, it was in a sense a junkheap to me.”

Upon leaving the priesthood, Richard helped lift what he refers to as “the mask”, revealing the truth behind celibacy and its connection to the sexual abuse of minors. In a series of provocative books, he wrote frankly and extensively about sexuality in the priesthood. He also became an expert witness for the prosecution in hundreds of clergy abuse cases. Richard has appeared in dozens of documentaries and was the person The Boston Globe reporters called on for advice in SPOTLIGHT – the 2015 Academy Award Winner for Best Film.

SIPE: SEX, LIES, AND THE PRIESTHOOD is the first documentary to focus completely on Richard’s own journey – from the priesthood to an outspoken and informed critic of the institution. The film is directed by Joe Cultrera. One of Cultrera’s previous documentaries (HAND OF GOD – Frontline, 2006) explored his brother’s abuse by a Catholic priest and the repercussions inside his Italian American family.

Following the Film:

A panel discussion will provide intimate perspectives on Sipe’s life and the survivor experience, together with cutting-edge analysis of Catholic clergy abuse and celibacy, the two issues that were revolutionized by Sipe’s work. The panel will include important revelations about Sipe’s own life and will reflect on the much-discussed connection between celibacy and Catholic clergy sex abuse. These topics were analyzed together for the first time in Sipe’s groundbreaking A Secret World: Sexuality and the Search for Celibacy (1990) and Sex, Priests, and Power: Anatomy of a Crisis (1995).

Panelists:

Marianne Benkert Sipe is a psychiatrist and expert witness specializing in Catholic clergy abuse and the lives of religious sisters; she and her husband Richard Sipe frequently worked together on abuse cases.

Phil Saviano is the activist and survivor of childhood sexual abuse by Fr. David Holley whose story was told in the movie Spotlight; he is a board member of BishopAccountability.org and represents Mexican folk artists through his import business www.vivaoaxacafolkart.com .

Robert Orsi is Grace Craddock Nagle Chair of Catholic Studies at Northwestern University, where he is also Professor of Religious Studies, History, and American Studies; he is the author of many books, including the award-winning Madonna of 115th Street, and is working on Give Us Boys (Columbia University Press, forthcoming in 2022), about sexual abuse in Jesuit prep schools; Orsi is a leader of the University of Notre Dame / BishopAccountability.org partnership Gender, Sex, and Power: Towards a History of Clergy Sex Abuse in the U.S. Catholic Church.

Kara French is Associate Professor of History at Salisbury University and author of Against Sex: Identities of Sexual Restraint in Early America (University of North Carolina Press, forthcoming in June 2021); she is a researcher in the Gender Sex, and Power partnership, where she is working on celibacy in the Catholic abuse crisis.

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Ministry leaders’ rush to empathize with Ravi Zacharias is beyond alarming

UNITED STATES
Religion News Service

February 19, 2021

By Kyle J. Howard

It is deeply troubling to see so many men, especially in ministry leadership, find a more immediate connection with the abuser rather than the abused.

There is a reckoning taking place in the evangelical church as more and more people are becoming aware of the reality of spiritual and sexual abuse — and their prevalence in many churches.

There is also a reckoning taking place among evangelical leaders as they confront and respond to these abuses coming to light.

Sadly, the responses from many of these esteemed Christian leaders are falling woefully short. Instead of healing, they are serving to further wound and even traumatize God’s people.

This is most recently evident in the way many leaders have reacted to the dark secrets in the life and ministry of the late Christian apologist Ravi Zacharias.

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Valley Catholic priest Monsignor Craig Harrison announces resignation

FRESNO (CA)
KFSN-TV

February 19, 2021

A Central Valley Catholic priest is resigning after two years of dealing with a defamation lawsuit.

“I am announcing that I am resigning as the pastor of Saint Francis parish. I submitted a letter to His Holiness, Pope Francis resigning as a Catholic priest,” Monsignor Craig Harrison said in a statement on Thursday.

The legal action he faced stemmed from statements made about sexual abuse allegations against him.

One of those suits was filed against the Roman Catholic Diocese of Fresno. Allegations were also investigated in Kern and Merced counties.

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Monsignor Craig Harrison resigns following years of sexual abuse allegations

BAKERSFIELD (CA)
23ABC-TV

February 18, 2021

By Bayne Froney

Thursday, former Monsignor Craig Harrison addressed the media regarding the allegations against him along with the lawsuit he filed against the Diocese of Fresno. Harrison said that he feels stepping down is one of his only options and he is ready to start living his life again.

“I am announcing that I am resigning as a pastor at St Francis Parish,” said Harrison.

Thursday, Monsignor Craig Harrison stepped down as a priest at St. Francis Church nearly two years after a man in April 2019 reported to Firebaugh Police in Fresno County that he had been inappropriately touched as a teenager by Harrison.

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Fresno-area priest resigns Catholic church amid lawsuit over misconduct investigation

FRESNO (CA)
Fresno Bee

February 19, 2021

By Yesenia Amaro

A Diocese of Fresno priest accused of sexual misconduct but never criminally charged resigned from the church this week.

According to a statement from his attorney, Monsignor Craig Harrison handed his resignation for his pastor position at St. Francis Parish in Bakersfield.

“This decision has come after nearly two years of seeking due process and fair play from the Bishop,” the statement reads.

In a brief statement Friday, Diocese of Fresno officials acknowledged Harrison’s resignation, but said they wouldn’t comment on the matter.

Harrison is suing the Diocese of Fresno for defamation. He filed the lawsuit shortly after prosecutors in different jurisdictions declined to file criminal charges against Harrison over accusations of sexual abuse.

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Part 1 | The long battle for justice: Timor-Leste’s trial against ex-priest for sexual abuse of children

TIMOR LESTE
Rappler

February 20, 2021

By Tjitske Lingsma

After a turbulent struggle for justice, the trial against a former priest charged with sexual abuse of children in his shelter finally starts on February 22 in Timor-Leste. It is the biggest case in the history of the SVD congregation.

Ana was just 8 years old, when she went to live in Topu Honis Shelter Home. Life was perfect and she never imagined the betrayal and harm that would be inflicted upon her. “It was a dream come true,” Ana recalled about how she felt that first day when she arrived at the modest shelter, perched on the slopes of one of the spectacular mountains of Timor-Leste’s exclave Oecusse. Her family was poor and worked hard in the fields to have enough food. At Topu Honis she didn’t have to worry about her next meal. She had friends, her own space for clothes, time to play and the school was nearby. ‘But I did not know there also was this awful part’, Ana (not her real name as her identity needs to be protected) says in an interview published on the website of the Timorese women’s rights organization Fokupers. Soon after her arrival the shelter’s staff told her: “You are new, and you get to sleep with the priest.”

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[Opinion] Is the evangelical view of sex at the root of our sex scandals?

UNITED STATES
Religion News Service

February 18, 2021

By Sheila Wray Gregoire

It was not celebrity culture that taught Ravi Zacharias, Carl Lentz and countless other pastors to objectify women. Our evangelical culture primed them for it.

Evangelicals are pointing fingers at “celebrity Christian culture,” blaming it for the tragic Ravi Zacharias sexual abuse and rape scandal and the extramarital escapades of Hillsong pastor Carl Lentz (as well as so many more). But what if this epidemic is not just — or even mostly — caused by celebrity culture?

What if it’s the evangelical view of sex?

Yes, celebrity culture gave Zacharias more access to victims and gave both men cover for what they were doing. But it was not celebrity culture that taught these men to objectify women. Our evangelical culture primed them for it.

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[Media Statement] Statute of Limitations Reform in California is Leading to Justice and Healing

ST. LOUIS (MO)
SNAP

February 19, 2021

A little more than a year ago, AB 218 was signed into law in California, opening a three-year “window to justice” that would revive claims that had been barred by the state’s archaic and predator-friendly statute of limitations laws. Since that bill went into effect, we have seen hundreds of new survivors come forward, exposing uncomfortable truths about hidden perpetrators and their enablers in California. To us, there is no question that this law is providing a path towards justice, healing, and prevention.

The United States Conference of Catholics Bishops created the “Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People” in 2002 in response to the Boston Globe’s exposure of widespread child sexual abuse in the Archdiocese of that city. While the reforms aimed at in that charter – most notably zero-tolerance and open transparency from Church officials – have yet to be fully realized, exemplified by the fact that 19 years after its passage Catholic officials in Fresno and San Francisco still refuse to publish a list of accused clergy. However, empowered survivors have continued to come forward and press for more accountability from the institutions that enabled the abusers.

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State report on child sex abuse by priests paints sobering picture

BISMARCK (ND)
Bismarck Tribune

February 20, 2021

By Travis Svihovec

In the late 1960s or early ’70s, the Rev. Armour Roberts drove three boys from Bismarck to New Leipzig to visit another priest, the Rev. John Owens.

The men mixed cocktails for the boys, and the boys — high school freshmen — drank until they were drunk. One passed out and later awoke with Owens standing over him, partially naked and inappropriately touching him. Owens had already molested another boy. Roberts was in an upstairs room with the third boy.

The boys ran. They bought coffee at a gas station and thought about driving back to Bismarck. But they knew nobody would believe what had happened to them. They’d just get in trouble for stealing a car. They went back to the parish house and spent the rest of the night in the living room. The priests offered one of them a Playboy magazine and tried to convince him to go upstairs with them.

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Diocese of Harrisburg begins mediation sessions with abuse survivors, writes Bishop Gainer in letter

LANCASTER (PA)
LancasterOnline

February 20, 2021

https://lancasteronline.com/features/diocese-of-harrisburg-begins-mediation-sessions-with-abuse-survivors-writes-bishop-gainer-in-letter/article_2a3c963c-72cb-11eb-97c8-7f7dc8084728.html

The Rev. Ronald W. Gainer, bishop of the Diocese of Harrisburg, issued a letter this week about the diocese’s filing for bankruptcy in 2020 and ongoing reckoning with survivors of sexual abuse by clergy.

The letter noted that on Feb. 8 and 9, the church’s present and past insurance providers met with survivors of abuse (individually, or through a committee representing their interests) for the first mediation session.

“The mediation process is an effort to work together to reach a consensual resolution regarding the survivor claims against the RCDH,” the letter reads.

While Gainer writes that he can’t share much about the mediations, as they are confidential, he writes that “progress was made” and “all parties intend to continue negotiations and mediation, to reach a consensual resolution that will acknowledge the harm suffered and provide for meaningful and fair compensation for survivors.”

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Zollner: Day for victims of abuse an important moment for the Church

VATICAN CITY
Vatican News

February 19, 2021

By Robin Gomes

The Day of Prayer for Victims and Survivors of Abuse, observed on the first Friday of Lent by several local Churches across the globe, is an initiative in response to the request of Pope Francis to all the bishops’ conferences of the world. During the meeting on the “Protection of Minors in the Church”, held in the Vatican on 21-24 February 2019, the Pope asked the presidents of the bishops’ conferences to choose an appropriate day in the liturgical calendar for this purpose. The Australian Catholic Bishops’ Conference marks the day on 11 September in conjunction with the National Day for the Protection of Children.

Prayer and action

According to Father Hans Zollner, a member of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, prayer is a fundamental expression of the Christian faith, but action is also needed. Speaking to Vatican Radio, the Jesuit priest, who is also president of the Centre for Child Protection at the Pontifical Gregorian University of Rome, said that alongside action to promote justice, there must also be an effort to change the culture within the Church itself.

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Prayer for abuse victims on the first Friday of Lent

INDIA
AsiaNews.it

February 19, 2021

By Nirmala Carvalho

The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India held a Day of Prayer to express closeness to the victims of sexual abuse of minors and raise awareness of the problem among the faithful. For Sister Arina Gonsalves of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, this provides an opportunity to raise awareness about the scourge of “sexual abuse” that “continues in our society, especially in the digital world” and to reiterate the Church’s “zero tolerance” policy towards the offence.

The Catholic Church of India holds a Day of Prayer for the victims and survivors of abuse every year on the first Friday of Lent.

For the occasion, Sister Arina Gonsalves, of the Congregation of the Religious of Jesus and Mary (RJM) and a member of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, spoke to AsiaNews, explaining the significance of this appointment.

“Praying for the victims and survivors of abuse on the first Friday of Lent is a good practice to make the faithful aware of the emotional and spiritual trauma that survivors carry with them in their lives. It helps us understand that we have failed to protect and safeguard children from sexual abuse,” said the nun.

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Ravi Zacharias posthumously defrocked, ministry suspends fundraising after abuse report

UNITED STATES
Sight

February 20, 2021

By Bob Smietana

The Christian and Missionary Alliance has revoked the ordination of the late Ravi Zacharias, citing a “pattern of predatory behaviour”.

“In recognition of this gross violation and its painful consequences to the victims and others who were impacted, the C&MA posthumously expels Mr Zacharias from licensed ministry in our denomination,” the alliance wrote in a statement. “This comes with the automatic revocation of his ordination.”

Zacharias’ defrocking is the latest fallout from a report that found the late evangelist had engaged in a pattern of abuse and misconduct.

A law firm hired by Ravi Zacharias International Ministries issued a report last week that concluded Zacharias, who died from cancer in 2020, had demanded sexual favors from massage therapists at a spa he co-owned and collected images – including a number of nude photos and videos – of hundreds of younger women. He also had the contact information for hundreds of massage therapists in his phone and spent extensive time overseas writing and getting massages.

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California bishop banned priest, but that didn’t keep him from ministry around Chicago

CHICAGO (IL)
Chicago Sun-Times

February 19, 2021

By Robert Herguth

Despite telling a boy something that the local bishop’s office said amounted to “sexual abuse,” Joseph Jablonski kept working in ministry around Chicago because his order didn’t immediately notify church leaders here.

While ministering in San Bernardino, California, in 2014, a Chicago-area priest named Joseph Jablonski told a boy something that prompted the bishop’s office there, when it found out, to notify the authorities and bar him from ever again ministering in that diocese.

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A justice speaks; justice is elusive; justice is sought

BOSTON (MA)
Boston Globe

February 18, 2021

By Peter Keough

[To see the entire article from which the portion below is excerpted, click here.]

True confessions

You might not remember the moment, but the title subject of Joe Cultrera’s “Sipe: Sex, Lies, and the Priesthood” is depicted, vocally that is, by Richard Jenkins in a brief scene in the Oscar-winning “Spotlight” (2015). “Guys, I’ve got Sipe!” exclaims a member of the Boston Globe Spotlight team in the film. On speakerphone Richard Sipe reveals the extent of sexual activity within the priesthood, the Catholic Church’s knowledge of it, and its coverup.

It was a reality that Sipe, a former Benedictine monk, priest, and psychotherapist, had been studying for decades. While serving the Church as a therapist, he treated some 6,000 members of the clergy and found that the rule of celibacy had led priests into secret sexual behavior, often with minors vulnerable to their authority. His warnings to the hierarchy were ignored, and he was ostracized. He left the priesthood and authored several books on the subject, becoming an expert witness for the prosecution in hundreds of clergy abuse cases.

Cultrera interviews Sipe at length in the film. As a boy, he was enraptured by the church and priesthood. But the pomp and glory that beguiled him as a youth proved to be a mask covering corruption. Courageously and with good humor Sipe continues to pursue his investigations, which he hopes will help restore decency and integrity to the institution he still loves.

“Sipe: Sex, Lies, and the Priesthood” can be streamed live as part of Salem Film Fest’s winter screening series on Feb. 20 at 7 p.m. The screening will be followed by a panel discussion that includes Richard Sipe’s wife, the psychiatrist Marianne Benkert Sipe; abuse survivor and activist Phil Saviano; Robert Orsi, the Grace Craddock Nagle Chair of Catholic Studies at Northwestern University; and Kara French, associate professor of history at Salisbury University. Go to salemfilmfest.com. The film can then be seen on VOD until March 4.

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600 Sex Abuse Lawsuits Expected to Hit Northern CA Dioceses in New Window for Accusers

CALIFORNIA
NBC Bay Area

February 18, 2021

By Candice Nguyen and Michael Bott

For the first time, attorneys representing hundreds of alleged sexual abuse victims against the Catholic Church say they have an idea of how many new accusers have come forward since a recent law opened a window for new lawsuits based on older allegations to proceed in court.

Hundreds of people accusing Northern California priests and clergy of sexually abusing them as children are coming forward for the first time, enabled by a recent law allowing new lawsuits to be filed based on older allegations that were previously barred by the statute of limitations.

Assembly Bill 218, signed by Governor Newsom back in 2019, opened a three-year window beginning in January 2020 for the new lawsuits to be filed. A similar one-year window was opened by state lawmakers back in 2003.

Now, for the first time, attorneys handling those cases have a clear picture of how many alleged victims are taking advantage of the new window so far. If plaintiffs are successful in court, it could deal a staggering financial blow to Catholic dioceses across the state.

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[Opinion] From Cardinal Seán’s blog

BOSTON (MA)
The Pilot (Archdiocese of Boston)

February 19, 2021

By Cardinal Seán O’Malley

**
Interview with Teresa Pitt Green

On Wednesday, I participated in an interview with Teresa Pitt Green to be used in one of her upcoming online conferences. Teresa is a survivor of sexual abuse who heads the wonderful organization Spirit Fire, which promotes reconciliation and safeguarding.

During this time of the pandemic, the educational efforts around safeguarding have, on the one hand, been hampered by our inability to gather people together, but on the other hand, we have been very successful in reaching large numbers of people through online efforts. This has been the experience of organizations such as Spirit Fire and our own Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors.

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[Media Statement] Msgr. Craig Harrison to Resign, SNAP Calls on Fresno Diocese to Release Results of Internal Investigation

ST. LOUIS (MO)
SNAP

February 18, 2021

At a press conference this afternoon, embattled Msgr. Craig Harrison announced that he is resigning from the priesthood. We hope that this decision will comfort the multiple accusers who have come forward and that Catholic officials in Fresno will release the results of their internal investigation soon.

Msgr. Harrison was first publicly accused of abuse almost two years ago. The clergyman and his attorneys may cite the fact that he was not charged with crimes as evidence of his innocence, but in fact local district attorneys stated publicly that they believed the claims against him were credible but they were prevented from bringing charges due to the statute of limitations. Avoiding charges on a legal technicality is not proof of innocence.

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[Media Statement] Another Horrifying Report into Child Sexual Abuse in a Catholic Institution in Scotland Calls for Int’l Action

ST. LOUIS (MO)
SNAP

February 18, 2021

Yet another abuse inquiry in yet another country has revealed shocking details about the abuse and depravity that children were subjected to at a place that was supposed to educate, love, and care for them. As horrifying as this report is, we are not surprised.

According to the Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry, St Ninian’s school, operated by the Christian Brothers, was a place where members of this Catholic religious order could “pursue their abusive practices with impunity.” Those words are sickening and saddening, but not at all shocking to those of us who have been following this international scandal. We are grateful that the Scottish government is carrying out this inquiry and hope that their efforts will result not only injustice and healing for victims, but will also help prevent future cases of abuse.

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Ex-NSW priest, 85, accused of abusing boy

AUSTRALIA
Australian Associated Press via Yahoo News

February 18, 2021

An elderly former priest has been granted bail after being charged with the historical sexual assault of a nine-year-old boy at a school at Bathurst, in central western NSW.

Robert Maximus Blumenthal, 85, is charged with two counts of sexual intercourse with a person under the age of 10 and three counts of sexual intercourse with a person between 10 and under 16 who was under authority.

After his arrest at a Sydney home on Thursday, he appeared in Waverley Local Court.

He was granted $10,000 bail with other conditions including he not contact or go near any prosecution witness or enter any point of departure from Australia.

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Uttar Pradesh: Temple priest in Badaun charged with rape and murder

INDIA
Hindustan Times

February 18, 2021

Satyanarayan, the priest, and his aides, Jaspal and Vedram Pal, were arrested for murder and gang rape after they handed over a 50-year-old woman’s body to her family claiming she fell into a dry well

Police in Uttar Pradesh’s Badaun on Wednesday filed a charge sheet against a rape and murder accused temple priest even as gang rape charges have been dropped against his two aides.

Satyanarayan, the priest, and his aides, Jaspal and Vedram Pal, were arrested for murder and gang rape after they handed over a 50-year-old woman’s body to her family claiming she fell into a dry well on their temple premises in January.

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Fabricated report falsely claims Italian police ‘arrested scores of paedophile cardinals’ in Vatican

FRANCE
AFP Fact Check

February 19, 2021

By Richard Kang

Social media posts circulating online in February 2021 have shared a purported report stating Italian law enforcement “arrested scores of paedophile cardinals” in Vatican City. The claim is false: the purported report is not a genuine news article. The text appears to have originated from a satirical blog post that used an unrelated photo of Italian police. Whilst two Catholic priests were put on trial in the Vatican in October 2020 over allegations of sex abuse, there have been no credible reports that “scores” of cardinals were arrested at the Vatican for sex abuse in February 2021.

The claim was published here on Facebook on February 11, 2021.

“(Breaking News) Italian police and army raided the Vatican City and arrested scores of paedophile cardinals. Reported by UN News,” reads the Korean-language post.

The claim was shared alongside a link to a purported news report published on February 10, 2021, by UN News, a Seoul-based online newspaper that is not affiliated with the United Nations.

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Catholic safeguarding commission reports rise in abuse allegations in England and Wales

Catholic News Agency

February 19, 2021

The number of people facing concerns or allegations of abuse against children rose by 29% in a year, according to a new safeguarding report on the Catholic Church in England and Wales.

The National Catholic Safeguarding Commission (NCSC) said on Feb. 10 that concerns or allegations were raised against 161 people in 2019, compared to 125 the year before.

The number of individuals almost doubled between 2015, when there were 91, and 2019.

The commission, an independent body mandated by the English and Welsh bishops and the Conference of Religious to oversee the Church’s safeguarding work, released the figures in its annual report.

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Catholic Primate of Ireland apologises to victims and abuse survivors

IRELAND
RTE

February 19, 2021

By Ailbhe Conneely

The Catholic Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All Ireland has apologised for the harm that has been done to victims and survivors of abuse.

In a video message Archbishop Eamon Martin said there is a need for the survivors to hear that Catholic Church leaders realise the harm that has been done to them.

Marking the annual Day of Prayer for Victims and Survivors of Abuse, he said sorry for “the terrible failures and crimes” that happened in their Church.

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Plea hearing adjourned for Catholic priest Father Patrick Smythe accused of historic sex offences against boys in Leeds

LEEDS (ENGLAND)
Yorkshire Evening Post

February 18, 2021

By Tony Gardner

https://www.yorkshireeveningpost.co.uk/news/crime/plea-hearing-adjourned-catholic-priest-father-patrick-smythe-accused-historic-sex-offences-against-boys-leeds-3138986

A Catholic priest charged with committing sex offences against boys dating back more than 40 years had his plea hearing at Leeds Crown Court adjourned today.

Father Patrick Smythe is accused of four counts of indecent assault against four different boys under the age of 16 between 1978 and 1983.

The 77-year-old, a priest with the Diocese of Leeds, was due to enter pleas to the charges when he appeared before the court this morning (February 18).

The case was adjourned for almost two months following an application by the prosecution and Symthe’s barrister, Susannah Proctor.

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Former priest charged over alleged child sex assault of boy, nine, in Bathurst

AUSTRALIA
NCA NewsWire via Townsville Bulletin

February 19, 2021

By Erin Lyons

https://www.townsvillebulletin.com.au/breaking-news/former-priest-charged-over-alleged-child-sex-assault-of-boy-nine-in-bathurst/news-story/2a80edb2570c2751f76adb5ae2f4954b

A former priest has been arrested and charged, accused of sexually assaulting a nine-year-old boy at a high school in regional NSW.

In 2008 detectives started investigating reports of alleged sexual and indecent assaults of students at two high schools in Bathurst, between 1960 and 1993, under Strike Force Belle.

Last year strike force officers received a report relating to the alleged sexual assault of a nine-year-old boy in the mid 80s.

Following investigations an 85-year-old man was arrested at a home in Randwick on Thursday.

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Christian Brother Rex Elmer jailed for sexually abusing boys

AUSTRALIA
The Age

February 19, 2021

By Erin Pearson

Christian Brother Rex Francis Elmer will be classified as a serious sexual offender for the rest of his life after being sentenced for “abhorrent” and “depraved” historic abuse of children at a Melbourne orphanage.

Elmer, now 76, fronted the County Court of Victoria on Friday dressed in a white forensic suit and blue gloves where he was jailed for two years, with a non-parole period of nine months, for abuse against two further boys.

The court heard his victims suffered sustained and ongoing abuse while aged between 10 and 13 and living at St Vincent Boy’s Home where Elmer worked at South Melbourne in the 1970s.

It’s the third time Elmer – who remains a Christian Brother – has been jailed for sexual offending against children in his care after previously pleading guilty to crimes against 13 other school-aged boys in the 1970s.

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Protection of minors: A balance is needed

VATICAN CITY
Vatican News

February 18, 2021

By Gudrun Sailer

As many churches in different countries prepare to mark a Day of Prayer for Victims and Survivors of Abuse, an interview with Dr Myriam Wijlens, a professor in canon law and member of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, highlights the ongoing work of the Church to ensure the safety and the protection and dignity of all.

On the first Friday of Lent dozens of local churches will gather together in prayer for victims and survivors of abuse, for their families and their communities.

In late 2016, Pope Francis wrote to bishops’ conferences around the world asking they choose an appropriate moment during the liturgical year to observe an annual national Day of Prayer for Victims and Survivors of Abuse with the community of faithful.

Over the past four years many Bishops Conferences – and individual diocese – have taken steps to enact the proposal, with Cathedrals and parishes in Ireland choosing Friday 19 February to light Candles of Atonement to mark the Day of Prayer as has the Church in Scotland and in Poland who will also hold special liturgies.

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Four more come forward to allege historic abuse at hands of Leeds Catholic priest

LEEDS (ENGLAND)
Leeds-Live.com

February 18, 2021

By Guy Bell

Father Patrick Smythe had been due to enter pleas in relation to four counts of indecent assault

Four more complainants in the case of a Catholic priest from Leeds accused of historic sexual abuse have come forward following news of his initial court appearance.

Father Patrick Smythe had previously appeared at Leeds Magistrates’ Court in January charged with four counts of indecent assault on boys under 16 between 1978 and 1983.

The 77-year-old had been due to enter pleas in response to the allegations during a hearing at Leeds Crown Court this morning (Thursday

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Pope Benedict ‘pushed’ into resignation and ‘did not wish to go’ as Francis took Vatican

UNITED KINGDOM
Express.co.uk

February 18, 2021

By Clive Hammond

POPE BENEDICT was “pushed” into resigning as head of the Vatican church and “did not wish to go” before Pope Francis was installed as his successor, an author has told Express.co.uk.

The former pontiff resigned in 2013, with Benedict citing his declining health due to old age as the main factor behind the unprecedented move. His decision paved the way for Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio – who would be named Francis – to be elected as the new Vatican head, sparking optimism in some circles that a much needed modernisation programme to revitalise the Catholic church would be installed. Yet, uncertainty surrounding Benedict’s position was unearthed when Sebastian Gomes detailed how “leaks, scandal and a referential attitude among its most powerful administrators had crippled the Vatican” under Benedict’s stewardship.

Mr Gomes said “this internal crisis in the end broke Benedict’s back”.

Vatican author Lynda Telford told Express.co.uk that Benedict’s incapacity to handle major issues at the top of the church, including Catholic sex abuse scandals, had seen insiders feel a change at the top was needed.

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After orphanage abuse lawsuit, Canadian dioceses could face new wave of litigation

CANADA
Pillar Catholic

February 18, 2021

By JD Flynn

Analysis: Canada

A decision from Canada’s Supreme Court last month is likely to trigger a new round of lawsuits against Canadian Catholic dioceses. The court declined to hear an appeal against a lower court’s finding that the Archdiocese of St. John’s in Newfoundland had vicarious liability for a religious community which operated a notoriously abusive orphanage in the archdiocese.

That decision is expected to lead to more lawsuits against Canadian dioceses, over abuse committed by religious institutes within their territory. Those lawsuits could lead to a spate of diocesan bankruptcies.

The Mount Cashel orphanage story is one of the most egregious and horrific stories of sexual abuse in the history of Canada.

The orphanage opened in Newfoundland in 1898 and operated for nearly a century. It was operated by members of the Christian Brothers religious order. In the late 1980s and 1990s, it emerged that hundreds of orphanage residents had been sexually abused over decades at the orphanage.

In 1990, Mount Cashel closed.

In the decades that followed, the Christian Brothers and the Newfoundland government paid more than $27 million to victims of sexual abuse at the orphanage. The Christian Brothers in Canada eventually went bankrupt.

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St. John’s vows to heal from ‘dark chapter’

OTTAWA
Canadian Catholic News via Catholic Register

February 18, 2021

By Brian Dryden

Archbishop Peter Hundt says “sacrifices” will have to be made, but the Archdiocese of St. John’s has to move forward with compassion and understanding after a “dark chapter” of abuse in the Newfoundland archdiocese’s history.

In a message delivered at Masses across the archdiocese Feb. 13-14, the archbishop explained to the faithful what must be done to address the abuses that occurred at the Mount Cashel Orphanage in the past now that the Supreme Court of Canada has let a lower court ruling stand that made the archdiocese “vicariously liable” for abuses that occurred at the notorious orphanage run by the Christian Brothers of Ireland.

“We must now move to address these claims to the best of our ability, and in justice to the victims,” said Hundt in the statement read during Masses.

The archdiocese is consulting with financial advisors on how best to settle victim claims. A July 2020 ruling by Newfoundland’s court of appeal had ordered the archdiocese to pay out about $2 million in damages to four plaintiffs in the case. The plaintiffs’ lawyer said there are dozens more victims who could now seek compensation.

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Poland’s Catholic Church holds day of prayer for abuse survivors

POLAND
Catholic News Agency

February 18, 2021

Poland’s Catholic Church on Friday will observe a day of prayer for abuse survivors.

The Feb. 19 observance — known as the “Day of prayer and penance for the sin of sexual abuse of minors” — will include a Mass for the intention of abuse victims at the shrine of Jasna Góra, which houses the venerated icon of Our Lady of Częstochowa.

Archbishop Wojciech Polak, the Polish bishops’ conference delegate for the protection of children and youth, said: “People hurt in this way have the right to count on the fact that they will not lack the spiritual support of the entire ecclesial community on the long and difficult road to recovery.”

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[Media Statement ] Catholic Priest from Diocese of Gaylord Accused of Abuse

ST. LOUIS (MO)
SNAP (Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests)

February 17, 2021

A Catholic priest from the Diocese of Gaylord has stepped aside after he was accused of “sexual misconduct” with an adult woman. We hope that this victim is getting the support they need and we honor her courage in coming forward with her story.

According to reports, Fr. Eyob Merin of St. Mary Parish in Kingsley, MI, was accused of abuse publicly during a parish meeting. We truly believe that more and more victims are standing up and speaking out thanks to the dedicated work of secular officials like Michigan’s attorney general Dana Nessel. When secrets are exposed and abusers and enablers held accountable, it leads to a climate where survivors are encouraged to come forward instead of being shamed into silence. We hope that attorneys general in every other state that has yet to start an investigation of their own will begin one today and work towards creating this victim-centered climate in their own states.

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A cardinal in the dock would mark real reform in Vatican justice

ROME (ITALY)
Crux

February 18, 2021

By John L. Allen Jr.

From the outside, the commonplace assumption about the Vatican’s system of criminal justice probably is that it’s too lenient, because, as people would see it, the system boils down to Vatican personnel policing their peers and thus, many likely assume, the temptation is to go easy.

Insiders, however, have long felt it’s precisely the other way around. The whole point of Vatican tribunals, as they rather cynically perceive it, is to deliver lower-level scapegoats to insulate senior figures from culpability, so the system is stacked in favor of the prosecution.

Basically speaking, if you’re indicted for a crime in the Vatican City State, your odds of acquittal are roughly the same as winning the lottery.

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New Vatican thriller captures the cost of scandal

ROME (ITALY)
Crux

February 17, 2021

By John L. Allen Jr.

How do you measure the cost of a scandal?

One way is by dollar amounts. The current estimate is that the Catholic Church in the United States now has paid $3.2 billion to settle clerical sexual abuse lawsuits, which is $3.2 billion it couldn’t spend on charity or evangelization or any other desirable purpose.

Another index is lost human potential. Think about the contributions that Enzo Bianchi, founder of the famed ecumenical monastic community of Bose, could still be making to the cause of Christian unity, if his alleged abuses of authority had not compelled the Vatican recently to send him into exile like Napoleon on Elba.

Yet perhaps the steepest price to be paid is the loss of moral authority, a cost that’s correspondingly higher when the institution hit by scandal purports to represent moral virtue like the Catholic Church

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Our Opinion: Diocese suit shows need for transparency

MASSACHUSETTS
Berkshire Eagle

February 17, 2021

It’s a story both illuminating and disturbing: A Chicopee man credibly accuses the late Bishop Christopher J. Weldon of repeated sexual abuse, and alleges that top Roman Catholic Diocese of Springfield officials engaged in a cover-up to protect the legendary figure’s reputation.

That illumination would not have been possible without the tireless Berkshire Eagle news reporting led by investigations editor Larry Parnass. Indeed, the Chicopee man’s lawsuit against the diocese, filed last month in Hampden Superior Court, cites The Eagle’s coverage and Mr. Parnass’ interviews with diocese officials throughout.

The section of the complaint filing titled “Allegations involving false statements about plaintiff to The Berkshire Eagle” paints a damning picture of the diocese’s behavior when faced with credible accusations against the late Bishop Weldon.

The diocese did not put Bishop Weldon on a list of credibly accused priests despite the Chicopee man’s 2018 testimony to the Diocese of Springfield Review Board, which the board found “compelling and credible.” When Mr. Parnass asked the diocese why Weldon wasn’t on the list, internal diocesan emails show top officials, including recently departed former Bishop Mitchell T. Rozanski and attorney John. J. Egan, discussing how to downplay the Weldon allegations. In May 2019, diocese communications director Mark Dupont falsely told The Eagle in an email that the newspaper was wrong to report that Weldon had been accused, writing “You should know that there is NO finding of sexual abuse of any person involving Bishop Weldon — NONE.”

As The Eagle’s coverage continued to drag the issue into the light, a report commissioned by the diocese and led by retired Superior Court Judge Peter A. Velis found the Chicopee man’s allegations of repeated childhood sexual assault at the hands of Bishop Weldon to be “unequivocally credible.” After the explosive report, then-Bishop Rozanski said that the diocese had “failed this courageous man,” referring to Weldon’s accuser — but this contrition only came after key facts were unearthed by Mr. Parnass’ dogged long-form reporting in the face of the diocese’s foot-dragging and obfuscation.

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Former Harrisburg priest sentenced to 5 years probation in abuse case

HARRISBURG (PA)
WHTM-TV

February 17, 2021

By Kayla Brown

A former priest is on probation after pleading guilty last November to sexually assaulting two children, according to the Dauphin County District Attorney’s Office.

Dauphin County officials say 77-year-old John Allen assaulted the children 30 years ago while serving as a catholic priest in Harrisburg.

On Tuesday a judge sentenced him to five years of probation and, because of an agreement with the victims, to register as a sexually violent predator.

The Catholic Church previously dismissed Allen from the clerical state.

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[Event Notice] Gender, Sex, and Power: Towards a History of Clergy Sex Abuse in the US Catholic Church.

VIRGINIA
Department of Religious Studies, University of Virginia

Virtual Event:

Kathleen Sprows Cummings, Director of the Cushwa Center for the Study of American Catholicism, speaks to us about an important working group composed of twelve scholars and hosted by Notre Dame entitled Gender, Sex, and Power: Towards a History of Clergy Sex Abuse in the US Catholic Church. For more information, see:

https://cushwa.nd.edu/about/gendersexpower/

Date and time: 11:00am Eastern, February 24, 2021

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[Opinion] Bishops strong-arming faithful priests

UNITED STATES
Church Militant

February 17, 2021

While clerical sex abuse has been in the headlines for a while, one facet of such abuse has largely been ignored: the abuse of priests by those with authority over them, the bishops.

Ex-cardinal Theodore McCarrick is the most high-profile prelate to be defrocked — owing to decades of homosexual predation. His prey was not just adolescent boys, but grown priests and seminarians. He also allegedly ran a priest sex-ring out of his New Jersey beach house.

McCarrick appears as a demonic creep of the highest order but was — and continues to be — protected by fellow bishops in positions of authority. These men knew for decades that McCarrick was hitting on seminarians, taking priests to his beach houses for sodomy, and they just kept smiling.

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Xanana Gusmão condemned over visit to paedophile priest

EAST TIMOR
Al Jazeera

February 18, 2021

By Ian Lloyd Neubauer

East Timor independence hero criticised for meeting Richard Daschbach ahead of disgraced priest’s trial on child sex charges.

Xanana Gusmão, independence hero and East Timor’s former president, has drawn rare condemnation after being accused of whitewashing the crimes of a disgraced American priest who is due to stand trial next week in a landmark child-sex abuse case in the Catholic-majority Southeast Asian nation.

The controversial meeting took place on January 26 – the 84th birthday of self-professed paedophile Richard Daschbach – at a private residence in Dili where he is under house arrest after being charged with 14 counts of child sex abuse, as well as child pornography and domestic violence.

In a video taken at the meeting, which was covered by local media, Gusmão, also a former prime minister, is seen hugging the former priest and feeding him cake.

The son of a Pennsylvanian steelworker, Daschbach was ordained at St Mary’s Mission Seminary in Chicago in 1965. Two years later, he was dispatched to Timor by Chicago-based Society of the Divine Word, the largest missionary congregation in the Catholic Church, with 6,000 missionaries in 70 countries.

In the mid-1980s, Daschbach established Topu Honis, an orphanage and women’s shelter in Oecusse, a remote enclave of the then-Indonesian-controlled territory, which he ran for more than 30 years. He is also a war hero credited with saving the lives of hundreds of children and refugees during East Timor’s bloody independence crisis in 1999.

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‘He had his demons’: Family speaks out after man shoots woman, himself

TOLEDO (OH)
WTVG-TV

February 16, 2021

By McKenzie Kuehnlein

A 65-year-old man shot a woman before turning the gun on himself Monday night in Point Place, according to Toledo Police.

Officers were called to a residence in the 2600 block of 106th Street around 10:30 p.m. When they arrived, they forced entry into the home, at which point one person, identified as Frank Degg, shot himself. Degg was pronounced dead.

A second victim, identified by police as Danielle Derbeck, was found suffering from at least two gunshot wounds. Derbeck was taken to a local hospital, and police say she is expected to survive.

A third person, named by police as Cynthia Frost, was also in the house and was unharmed.

Degg’s family members tell 13abc he and Frost were in a relationship for about two years.

“He has his demons, but he was a good guy,” said Flo Degg Hoyt, Frank’s sister. “He had rage and I know he was in therapy and it wasn’t working.”

Hoyt said her brother was getting professional help for his depression and other issues he was struggling with since he was a boy.

“When he was younger, he was molested by one of the priests at our church in the Point,” said Hoyt. “I don’t think he recovered from that.”

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Christian Brothers abused children at Fife care home ‘with impunity’ inquiry concludes

SCOTLAND
Fife Today

February 17, 2021

By Allan Crow

Christian Brothers who ran a residential care home in Fife abused children “with impunity” for decades, an inquiry has ruled.

St Ninian’s School in Falkland exposed youngsters to risks of sexual, physical, and psychological danger for almost the entire time it was open.

Lady Smith’s damning conclusion of the Christian Brothers was revealed today with the publication of the Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry.

She said they were the perpetrators who would “pursue their abusive practices with impunity.”And her view of St Ninian’s School in Falkland was “depressing.” and that abusive Brothers had “unrestrained access” to vulnerable children.

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Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry: School ‘was a place of abuse and deprivation’

SCOTLAND
BBC

February 17, 2021

A residential school run by the Christian Brothers was “a place of abuse and deprivation”, the Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry has ruled.

Lady Smith said children suffered physical, emotional, and sexual abuse at St Ninian’s in Falkland, Fife.

She described the evidence as “shocking and distressing”.

The inquiry chairwoman also concluded that members of the Catholic religious order were able to “pursue their abusive practices with impunity”.

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Dep PM critcises church sluggishness against paedophile priest

POLAND
The First News

February 17, 2021

Deputy Prime Minister Jaroslaw Gowin has attacked the Polish Catholic Church, saying it was a “scandal” that it had done nothing to stop an alleged paedophile priest.

The priest in question, Father Andrzej Dymer, was recently recalled from the chair of the John Paul II Medical Institute in Szczecin on charges of sexual relations with minors.

The scandal surrounding Dymer could do further damage to the reputation of the Catholic Church in Poland, despite the priest dying on Tuesday. The Church has been battered by a series of allegations saying that it turned a blind eye to apparent cases of sexual abuse by priests.

According to the news channel TVN24, Dymer’s superiors had been aware of his alleged activities since 1995 but did not react, and nor did they ban him from working with children. Church proceedings against him were launched only after the national newspaper Gazeta Wyborcza ran a feature on the matter in 2008.

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Poland’s Catholic church accused of failing to take action against paedophile priest for 25 years

POLAND
Notes from Poland

February 16, 2021

The Catholic church in Poland has been accused of failing to take decisive action against an accused paedophile priest for 25 years after first being made aware of the allegations.

The claims, broadcast in a new television report on Monday, are the latest revelations regarding the church’s alleged failure to properly investigate child sex abuse by clergy. In some instances, the institution has been accused of deliberately covering cases up and protecting perpetrators.

The priest at the centre of the latest case, Andrzej Dymer, was last week dismissed by the church from his role as director of a church medical institute. This morning, it was announced that he had died, after suffering from a longstanding illness.

Yesterday, private broadcaster TVN aired a report entitled “The Church’s Longest Proceedings”. It traced how the Catholic hierarchy had known about allegations against Dymer since the mid-1990s but failed to take conclusive action against him.

“This is one of those stories that very well shows the problem of the church,” Paweł Gużyński, a Dominican priest, told the TV station. He explained that often priests cannot speak up against superiors, with “every voice of criticism interpreted as an attack on the church”.

The report outlined how Dymer had become a respected figure in local church circles and was the founder of a Catholic secondary school in the city of Szczecin, as well as director of a retirement home.

However, claims that Dymer was sexually abusing minors had been known to bishops in Szczecin as early as 1995. A number of Dymer’s alleged victims spoke to TVN, telling of the abuse they had faced, including one who said the priest had forced him to engage in oral sex.

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Chargesheet filed against priest in Budaun rape case

UTTAR PRADESH (INDIA)
The Hindu

February 17, 2021

Police have dropped the gang rape charge in the chargesheet filed against a priest and his two aides in the alleged gang rape and murder of an Anganwadi worker in Ughaiti area of Budaun district of Uttar Pradesh.

The middle-aged woman, a resident of Kywali village, died under mysterious circumstances on January 3 when she went to pray at a temple in the neighbouring Mevli village. Temple priest Satyanarayan and his aides, Jaspal and Vedram, were arrested under sections 302 and 376D of the IPC after the case created a massive outrage in the region.

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Priest in charge of the diocesan archives in Tarragona accused of sexual abuse

TARRAGONA (SPAIN)
Ara

February 11, 2021

By Albert Llimós

Events took place 20 years ago and archbishopric has now taken the case to the Prosecutor’s Office and will take it to the Vatican

BARCELONA — “What is the Church hiding?” father Manuel Fuentes, canon archivist of the cathedral of Tarragona and director of the historical archdiocesan archives of Tarragona, was asked in an interview on TV3. The archives and libraries discover “some secrets” and allow to prove that “others are not” in these places, he answered. Fuentes was in charge of guarding the secrets of the Church of Tarragona. Today, his own secret, which he had been hiding for more than two decades, has also been revealed.

The archbishopric of Tarragona has taken this morning to the Prosecutor’s Office the alleged sexual abuse that Fuentes committed twenty years ago. After completing the internal report that has been carried out during the last month and a half, the case will be sent to the Vatican, which is already aware of the matter, in the coming days. On Wednesday, the head of the abuse office spoke with the priest, who acknowledged some of the events.

Case reopened 20 years later

David, one of the victims, received a call in mid-December. The caller knew what Fuentes had done to him 20 years ago, and was calling to announce that there was a second case. This made him decide. The moment had arrived after a long time thinking about the idea.

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Northern Michigan priest temporarily steps down following sexual misconduct accusation

MICHIGAN
WPBN/WGTU

February 10, 2021

By Trevor Drew

A northern Michigan Priest has voluntarily stepped aside from his role for the time being after being accused of sexual misconduct involving an adult woman, according to the Diocese of Gaylord.

Father Eyob Merin, pastoral administrator of St. Mary Parish in Kinglsey, has denied the allegation.

The allegation was made public at a parish meeting, and subsequently made known to the diocese thereafter.

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Accused priest asserts innocence at Vatican seminary abuse hearing

VATICAN CITY
Catholic News Agency

February 10, 2021

By Hannah Brockhaus

At a hearing on Wednesday in a trial for alleged abuse and cover-up at a Vatican youth seminary, a defendant asserted his innocence, imputing abuse accusations to jealousy and divisions within the institution.

“These are unfounded accusations,” Fr. Gabriele Martinelli said during two hours of questioning in a Vatican courtroom on Feb. 10.

Martinelli, 28, has been charged with using violence and his position of authority to commit sexual abuse against a younger student at the Pius X pre-seminary in Vatican City.

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Gratitude from an Active Catholic and a Survivor

CHICAGO (IL)
Profiles in Catholicism (blog)

February 16, 2021

By Michael Hoffman

The VIRTUS Programs recognizes the great importance of listening to survivors of sexual abuse. Because people who have been abused have courageously come forward to share their stories, we now have a better understanding of how to help prevent sexual abuse from occurring as well as how to address it appropriately. We offer our sincere appreciation for all survivors who have come forward to share their stories and recognize their role in helping to foster healing and prevention in our church. This article was written by a survivor about his own experience and how caring adults can work together to prevent abuse.

Article:

My name is Michael Hoffman. I am a survivor of childhood sexual abuse by a member of the clergy. I am 55 years old and I remain an active Catholic, despite the abuse I endured when I was a young boy. My wife and I are active within our parish. We raised our children Catholic and we sent our kids to Catholic schools.

Given the sexual abuse imposed upon me from the ages of 12-16 years old by a Catholic priest at the time, it is possible you may not understand my decisions. Typically, it is easier for many people to understand or expect a clergy abuse survivor to walk away from the Church. My efforts to find healing and hope from underneath devastating pain and sadness involves many people. It is also intertwined with the same Church who allowed my abuser to remain in ministry at the time.

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