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April 30, 2020

[Commentary] Tara Reade’s Bad Timing Isn’t Her Problem — It’s Ours

WBUR Radio (NPR affiliate)

April 30, 2020

By Leigh Gilmore

Tara Reade's allegations about Joe Biden could not come at a worse time.

As the nation grapples with the twin emergencies of the COVID-19 pandemic and the Trump presidency, voters are now split over whether to demand a hearing for Reade’s decades-old claim or close ranks and defend Biden. As many of us struggle to focus on anything more than the virus and Trump’s massive mismanagement of it, the stakes feel impossibly high: silence a survivor or weaken Trump’s challenger.

Reade alleges that Biden sexually assaulted her almost 30 years ago when she worked for him. Biden denies the allegations. She did not file a police report at the time, but has, through the years, told a changing story of a disturbing sexual experience with an unnamed senator. Last year, Reade joined a group of women who said they had been inappropriately touched by Biden.

While the story has failed to gain traction during the pandemic, a new supporting account by Reade’s neighbor at the time of the assault has prompted many, including MeToo founder Tarana Burke, to make statements that survivors deserve a hearing. Reade's allegations resurface as Biden rolls out a series of high-level endorsements, including an online town hall with Hillary Clinton on Tuesday addressing how women, and especially victims of domestic violence, are impacted by COVID-19.

What we have to do is listen -- not only when it serves a political agenda, but precisely when it seems too costly politically to do so.

But we should be clear: As long as there are no fair processes for reporting — not 25 years ago for Tara Reade and not now — survivors will always interrupt the main story. They dredge up the past, dragging us with them into the complexity of trauma and injustice. But bad timing is not survivors’ fault and no one should demand they wait for a better time before speaking out.

Supreme Court rejects Catholic Church appeal to reduce damages in sex abuse case

CBC News

April 30, 2020

'I hope this final victory will give hope to other sexual abuse victims to come forward and seek justice'

The Supreme Court has rejected an appeal from the Catholic Church concerning damages awarded to a former Sudbury high school student.

Lawyer Rob Talach says Father Hodgson Marshall was convicted of sexually abusing his client, Rod MacLeod, who was a student at St. Charles College from 1963-1967.

In 2011, Marshall was ultimately convicted of abusing 17 young people over his 38-year career. He served two years in federal prison and died in 2014.

Talach said today's Supreme Court decision puts a definitive end to the long legal battle, and upholds the judgement on damages of more than $2.5 million dollars, including $500,000 in punitive damages.

Diocese of Toledo names seven deceased priests accused of sexual abuse

Toledo Blade

April 29, 2020

By Nicki Gorny

The Diocese of Toledo on Wednesday released the names of seven deceased clerics who are credibly accused of sexual abuse.

In each case an accuser had come forward after the cleric had died.

The Diocesan Review Board considered their cases this year and last year. The diocese for years declined to name or consider allegations against clerics in such cases “as they can neither defend themselves against the accusation nor possibly be a future threat to anyone if the allegation were true,” according to an explanation the diocese provided for years on its website. But in April, 2019, the diocese announced that it would begin to put this category of cases before the Diocesan Review Board.

That process is now complete, the diocese announced on Wednesday.

“Bishop Daniel Thomas determined that it was critical to be completely transparent in our dealing with cases of sexual abuse of minors, and to assist victims who are searching for their abuser by providing the most complete information available,” Kelly Donaghy, senior communications director for the diocese, said in an email.

German Catholic Church agrees to rules for investigating abuse cases

Catholic News Service

April 30, 2020

The Catholic Church has become Germany’s first institution to agree to fixed and binding rules for investigating sexual abuse cases.

The agreement, described as historic by the German government’s abuse commissioner, could become a blueprint for other institutions in the fight against abuse. The Protestant Church in Germany and churches in many other countries have yet to take that step, reported KNA, the German Catholic news agency.

The eight-page agreement, drafted by the bishops and Johannes-Wilhelm Rorig, the German government’s independent commissioner for sexual abuse issues, obliges the bishops to appraise abuse in their diocese according to fixed and transparent rules.

Teslin man files $4.25M lawsuit over alleged sexual abuse at hand of Catholic bishop

Yukon News

April 29, 2020

By Jackie Hong

The man alleges he was sexually abused following his confirmation ceremony at a church in 1985

A Teslin man is suing the Catholic diocese of Whitehorse as well as a national Catholic organization for $4.25 million in damages over sexual abuse he alleges he suffered at the hands of a now-deceased bishop when he was a teenager.

The man filed a statement of claim to the Yukon Supreme Court on April 9, naming the Catholic Episcopal Corporation of Whitehorse, Les Oblats de Marie Immaculee du Manitoba and OMI Lacombe Canada Inc. as defendants.

The News is choosing to not identify the plaintiff.

‘Prolific pedophile’ priest dies in New Jersey nursing home

New York Post

April 29, 2020

By Lee Brown

A pedophile priest who was defrocked in New Jersey after admitting abusing a dozen children has died in a nursing home, the diocese confirmed to The Post.

James Hanley — who abused young parishioners in Mendham and Pompton Plains over the course of 14 years — died last week, the diocese’s attorney, Kenneth Mullaney, confirmed.

Relatives of the disgraced former priest alerted church officials last week to the death. The nursing home was not identified.

Argument preview: Justices to consider what makes a minister a minister (Corrected)


April 30, 2020

By Amy Howe

Eight years ago, in a case called Hosanna-Tabor Lutheran Church and School v. EEOC, the Supreme Court recognized a “ministerial exception” to employment discrimination laws, reflecting the idea that religious institutions normally have the sole right to determine who can act as their ministers. The justices ruled in that case that the exception barred a lawsuit brought by a teacher and ordained minister at a Lutheran school who challenged the school’s decision to fire her. However, they declined to “adopt a rigid formula for deciding when an employee qualifies as a min However, they declined to “adopt a rigid formula for deciding when an employee qualifies as a minister” in future cases. Next week, in a pair of cases involving teachers at Catholic elementary schools in California, the Supreme Court will consider how courts should determine when an employee is a “minister” for purposes of the exception.

Document: Priest abused Barrigada altar boy in late 1970s

The Guam Daily Post

May 1, 2020

By Haidee Eugenio Gilbert

A former Barrigada altar boy said he's still suffering from mental and emotional injury from a priest's multiple sexual abuses that happened more than 40 years ago, according to documents filed in bankruptcy court.

The latest clergy sex abuse claimant stated in court filings that the late Father Louis Brouillard abused him multiple times from around 1978 to 1979 on the grounds of the Barrigada church and during Boy Scouts of America outings at Lonfit River.

The former altar boy is represented by attorney Michael Berman.

Investigation into longtime Newman Center pastor confirms sexual advances to students

Lincoln Journal Star

April 30, 2020

By Margaret Reist

An investigation into Monsignor Leonard Kalin, longtime pastor at the Newman Center on the University of Nebraska-Lincoln campus, confirmed his use of alcohol and cigarettes, frequent casino visits and “occasional” sexual advances toward students, according to the Catholic Diocese of Lincoln.

In a letter to church members Wednesday, Archbishop George Lucas summarized the results of the investigation into allegations against Kalin, who died in 2008, which focused on his leadership style and the culture he promoted at the Newman Center.

Reports of child abuse and neglect plunge in Ohio, Indiana, Kentucky during quarantine


April 29, 2020

By Paula Christian

Reports of child abuse and neglect plunged throughout Ohio, Indiana and Kentucky almost immediately after governors closed schools and urged people to stay home in mid-March to stem COVID-19 from spreading.

Now, more than six weeks into the quarantine, calls to all three states’ child abuse hotlines are down by nearly 50 percent.

That isn’t good news, child advocates warn.

Lincoln Diocese releases findings of investigation into deceased priest

1011 NOW

April 29, 2020

The Catholic Diocese of Lincoln released the findings of an external investigation into a deceased priest accused of making sexual advances against college students and seminarians.

A letter from Archbishop George Lucas on Wednesday included the findings of an investigation into misconduct allegations of deceased priest Monsignor Leonard Kalin.

Kalin was the diocesan vocation director and chaplain of the Newman Center at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln from 1970 to 1998. The allegations against him centered on his leadership style and the culture he promoted at the Newman Center, as well as accusations of sexual advances.

The Diocese of Lincoln hired an independent private investigator to investigate the allegations, who reviewed personnel files and conducted more than 35 in-person interviews, according to the Diocese.

Retiring Inquirer photographer Michael Bryant looks back at more than 30 years in the business

The Philadelphia Inquirer

April 30, 2020

By Tim Tai

It was just after the Thanksgiving Day parade in 1986. Throngs of shrieking children had lined Center City streets to catch a glimpse of Santa, as he ushered in the Christmas season. Photographing the cavalcade — less than a month into his new job at The Inquirer — was Michael Bryant.

As he walked past City Hall to return to the newsroom, he overheard a woman talking to her son, six years old or so, who needed to use the bathroom. The mother told the boy to relieve himself on City Hall.

“That was my welcome-to-Philadelphia moment,” Bryant recalled.

English bishops call on Catholic parishes to help victims of domestic violence


April 29, 2020

By Charles Collins

England’s bishops are urging parish communities to be on the lookout for domestic abuse, after a spike in cases has been reported by a leading charity.

Refuge, which runs the UK’s National Domestic Abuse helpline, reports that calls have increased 49 percent over the past three weeks, the period since the country went into lockdown to stop the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus.

Meanwhile, the Counting Dead Women Project this week told members of Parliament at least 14 women and two children have been killed in domestic violence during the lockdown.

Abolish right to remove children from sex-education classes, urges abuse survivor

Church Times

April 30, 2020

By Hattie Williams

PARENTS should not be allowed to remove children from age-appropriate sex-education classes on religious grounds, a survivor of child sexual abuse in a church context has said. A lack of sex education when he was a boy had prevented his understanding that what was happening to him was wrong, he said.

On Tuesday, the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA) published a further 80 experiences of abuse which had been disclosed through its Truth Project. It was launched in 2016 to help the Inquiry with its investigations.

One survivor, Paraic, told the project that as a child, shortly after the Second World War, he had been repeatedly raped by a Sunday-school teacher who had told him that the abuse was “God’s work”. When he had told another teacher about the abuse, he had been caned, he said. He had attempted to take his own life at school.

Christian Porter seeks final advice on release of royal commission findings on Cardinal George Pell

ABC News

April 27, 2020

Federal Attorney-General Christian Porter says he has sought final advice from his department on the release of unpublished documents relating to Cardinal George Pell's handling of child sexual abuse complaints.

Victoria's Attorney General, Jill Hennessy, yesterday wrote to Mr Porter, saying there were no legal impediments to prevent the release of unredacted portions of the findings of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.

Women vital to seminaries: Ouellet

The Catholic Register

April 30, 2020

By Cindy Wooden

The Church must “radically change” how priests interact with women, starting by injecting more female voices into priestly formation at seminaries, said Canadian Cardinal Marc Ouellet.

For more than 125 years, The Register has been a trusted source of faith-based journalism. By making even a small donation you help ensure our future as an important voice in the Catholic Church. If you support the mission of Catholic journalism, please donate today. Thank you.

For some priests and seminarians, “women represent danger, but in reality, the true danger are those men who do not have a balanced relationship with women,” said Ouellet, prefect of the Congregation for Bishops.

The cardinal was interviewed about the role of women in seminaries and seminary formation for the May issue of the women’s supplement to the Vatican newspaper. The interview was published April 24 by Vatican News.

Diocese ends support to priests with ‘substantiated’ abuse claims

Batavia News

April 29, 2020

By Matt Surtel

ABUSE SCANDAL: Decision made amid ongoing Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceedings

The Diocese of Buffalo is ending its support of priests with substantiated reports of sexual abuse.

The decision was announced Tuesday. It ends all financial support and health benefits for the priests involved.

“In some cases, a few priests were still receiving a monthly salary, based on the last monthly amount they were receiving prior to having their faculties suspended,” said interim Communications Director Greg Tucker, via email. “The other support was in the form of health and dental insurance, and in some cases, car insurance.”

The measure will take effect Friday. It was done as part of the diocese’s Chapter 11 bankruptcy process.

Church shares findings of invest. into priest abuse reports


April 29, 2020

Diocese of Lincoln: Sexual advances made by former priest

The Catholic Diocese of Lincoln has released the findings of an independent investigation into a former priest who was accused of instances of abuse.

The abuse allegations centered around Msgr. Kalin, a priest who ran the Newman Center from 1970-1998, which is the place where UNL students go to practice their faith in college.

The Catholic Diocese of Lincoln said, "The investigator’s report indicates that Msgr. Kalin’s leadership style was demanding and authoritarian, and his use of alcohol, cigarettes and frequent visits to casinos was confirmed. The investigation also revealed that Msgr. Kalin did, on occasion, make sexual advances against some college students and seminarians. Kalin died in 2008."

Royal commission findings about Cardinal George Pell could be made public. Here's what we know

Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC)

April 30, 2020

By Sarah Farnsworth

For years, questions have been asked about what Cardinal George Pell might have known about clerical abuse during his long career within the Catholic Church.

Giving evidence to the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse in Sydney in 2014, and again via video link from Rome in 2016, Cardinal Pell was questioned at length about his knowledge of paedophile priests in both Ballarat and Melbourne.

The Cardinal was taken painstakingly through evidence and asked to cast his mind back to the 1970s and what he knew about paedophile priests including Gerald Ridsdale, who later admitted to abusing hundreds of children.

By the end of the exhaustive inquiry in 2017, the counsel assisting the royal commission submitted Cardinal Pell did come to know of abuse carried out by one notorious paedophile priest and had missed an opportunity to deal with another priest also suspected of molestation.

But the commissioners' ultimate findings into what Pell may — or may not have — known has never been made public.

By the time the final report was published in December 2017, the Cardinal himself was facing child sexual abuse charges.

The findings into what were called case studies 28 (Ballarat) and 35 (Melbourne) were heavily redacted so as not to prejudice Cardinal Pell's case.

Sacramento loses leading advocate for sexual abuse survivors


April 29, 2020

By David Manoucheri

Joseph C. George, Sr., was a man who changed trajectories.

The description is apt not just of his own life, but the lives of the staff, clients and the many people who faced the Philadelphia native in court. Most of those were with organizations who knowingly covered up abuse and tried to make it go away.

George didn't start as a lawyer. He held a doctorate in psychology while working for the military. It was while working at Travis Air Force Base that his trajectory changed. George decided to also get a law degree in an effort to go after and stop the abuse of patients by their therapists. It would open the door to a practice he never suspected he would start.

By the time of his death on April 22, 2020, at 1:17 a.m., Joseph George had garnered not only respect of those around him, he had changed the trajectory of how sexual abuse was handled across the country.

Former Springfield priest accused of child sex abuse; case sent to prosecutors

Springfield News-Leader

April 29, 2020

By Harrison Keegan

The local Catholic diocese announced this week a former Springfield priest was recently accused of sexually abusing a child in a different jurisdiction.

Father Gary Carr, 66, was accused of sexually abusing a boy in southeast Missouri nearly 30 years ago when the boy was between the ages of 10 and 13, according to a news release from the Diocese of Springfield-Cape Girardeau.

The release says Carr, who worked in Springfield early in his career and lived here as recently as 2004, officially retired in November, but he had been restricted in ministry with no priestly faculties since 2008.

According to the release, the allegation against Father Carr is that he sexually abused a boy in Stoddard County, and the Diocesan Safe Environment Review Board determined the case met the diocese's standard of "semblance of truth" so it was publicized.

April 29, 2020

The Buffalo Diocese is kicking these 23 priests off its payroll


April 29, 2020

By Charlie Specht

Survivors forced action through bankruptcy

The Diocese of Buffalo is kicking these 23 priests off of its payroll through an agreement it reached with survivors this week in U.S. Bankruptcy Court.

Becker, Donald W.
Bialkowski, David M.
Dolinic, Louis S.
Fafinski, Donald S.
Faraci, Douglas F.
Friel, Mark
Fronczak, Dennis A.
Gresock, Thomas
Hajduk, John P.
Hatrick, Brian M.
Ingalls, Fred D.
Ipolito, Pascal D.
Juran, Michael
Maryanski, Fabian J.
McCarthy, Thomas J.
Mierzwa, Ronald
Orsolits, Norbert F.
Palys, Daniel J.
Pavlock, Martin L.
Smith, Arthur J.
Spielman, James A.
Venne, Samuel J.
Wolski, Mark J.

The Diocese of Buffalo announced Tuesday it would cease all financial support and health benefits for priests with substantiated allegations of sexual abuse beginning May 1 as part of the bankruptcy process.

Financial support, health benefits to end for priests with substantiated allegations of sexual abuse


April 28, 2020

By Anthony Reyes

The Diocese of Buffalo announced Tuesday it will cease all financial support and health benefits for priests with substantiated allegations of sexual abuse beginning May 1 as part of the bankruptcy process.

A spokesperson released the following statement:

Opinion: Cedarville’s plan to save Anthony Moore abandoned its students — and Moore


April 28, 2020

By Russell L. Meek

The headlines that ran last week (April 24) announced a new sexual abuse scandal to roil the Southern Baptist Convention: “Cedarville professor fired over allegations of misconduct.”

That’s true, to be sure. But that’s not the headline. The headline is that Cedarville University, a Baptist school near Dayton, Ohio, knowingly hired a man its president knew to be an alleged sexual offender as a student recruiter, then gave him a job coaching men’s basketball, teaching in the theology department and as a “special adviser” to the president.

In a statement published on his personal blog, Cedarville President Thomas White admitted to hiring Anthony Moore, who had been fired by the Village Church in Fort Worth, Texas, despite White’s knowing that Moore was let go from his post as campus pastor for filming “two videos ... over a short period of time” of a man showering, without that man’s knowledge or consent. Most strikingly, White implicated Cedarville’s board of trustees, basketball coaches, administrators and faculty in Moore’s hiring, to the point of claiming that Moore “told his story to the entire faculty in the School of Biblical and Theological Studies during a meeting and entertained questions.”


Horowitz Law

April 29, 2020

Brace yourselves. Some grim numbers about child sexual abuse have surfaced recently that remind us of how hard it is to stop predators.

—During this pandemic, what was feared has now been proven: Child sexual abuse is on the rise in recent weeks.

A national abuse hotline reports “a 22% increase in calls from people younger than 18,” according to National Public Radio. The network also reports:

Priest in Missouri Determined to be “Credible” Abuser by Review Board, SNAP Calls for Outreach


April 28, 2020

A retired cleric from the Diocese of Springfield-Cape Girardeau has been determined by a diocesan review board to have engaged in “inappropriate physical/sexual misconduct” with a minor. We call on Catholic officials to release more detail about this case so that parents and parishioners can ensure vulnerable children are protected and so other survivors or witnesses are encouraged to come forward and get help.

A news release from Diocesan leaders in Springfield – Cape Girardeau reported that Fr. Gary Carr was "credibly accused" of abusing a child approximately thirty years ago when the boy was between the ages of 10 and 13. According to Catholic officials, Fr. Carr was placed on “Administrative Leave and restricted in his priestly ministry” in 2008 by Bishop James Johnston, yet no information was made public at that time about the actions that led to Fr. Carr’s restrictions. We strongly suspect that this means Diocesan leaders have known that Fr. Carr was an abuser for at least twelve years without saying anything to parishioners or to the public, a dramatic failure to live up the USCCB’s promise to be “open and transparent” in cases of clergy sexual abuse.

We applaud the victim who came forward to report Fr. Carr. Now we call on Catholic officials to be more forthcoming in this case and to share details about when they first received reports about the priest, and what actions were taken in response to those reports. They should also be clear about the number of accusers that have identified the cleric as their abuser, and where those abuses were said to have taken place. The more information that is made known, the better communities will be able to protect children and do outreach to still-suffering survivors.


Horowitz Law

April 28, 2020


On Monday, April 27, 2020 sex abuse attorney Adam Horowitz filed a lawsuit in Polk County Circuit Court against Catholic priest Father Fred Ruse, who in 2018, suddenly retired from the active ministry. The suit, filed on behalf of a Sarasota County man, alleges that in 2001 and 2002, he was sexually abused multiple times by Father Ruse in a classroom and in the chaplain’s office at the Demilly Correctional Institution in Polk City, Florida when the plaintiff was approximately 14 and 15 years old.

The lawsuit claims that Father Ruse of the Diocese of Orlando, then pastor of St. Matthews in Winter Haven, Florida, used his status as a clergyman to meet privately with the plaintiff. He actively groomed the boy and gained his trust by showering him with attention and giving him gifts such as Harry Potter books according to the lawsuit. As their relationship developed Father Ruse allegedly began to fondle the plaintiff’s genitals and masturbate himself to ejaculation. The Complaint states that the sexual contact progressed to Father Ruse giving oral sex to the boy and receiving oral sex from him.

New Mexico diocese sues over limits on virus relief funds

The Associated Press

April 29, 2020

New Mexico’s largest Catholic diocese has filed a complaint against the U.S. Small Business Administration over its inability to apply for federal aid meant to help businesses affected by the coronavirus outbreak.

The Archdiocese of Santa Fe claims the low-interest loan applications that entities must complete state those businesses involved in bankruptcy proceedings will not be approved. The archdiocese filed for bankruptcy in 2018 in the wake of clergy sex abuse lawsuits that began decades earlier.

Advocate for the abused: Joe George stood up against the church to protect the vulnerable

The Sacramento Bee

April 29, 2020

By Marcos Breton

Joe George died last week and if you don’t know who Joe George was, you should.

For more than 30 years in Sacramento, George was a fierce lawyer who had the intellect to make obscene amounts of money in corporate law but chose instead to represent clients who had been sexually abused by people they trusted.

George’s opponents in court were often powerful individuals from powerful institutions who had the community standing and popularity to sweep their unspeakable transgressions under the rug until Joe George intervened.

Defrocked priest, who admitted abusing a dozen children, dies at nursing home


April 28, 2020

By Chris Sheldon

A former Morris County priest who was defrocked in 2003 after he admitted abusing a dozen child parishioners in Mendham and Pompton Plains over the course of 14 years, died last week, officials said.

James T. Hanley died at a nursing home, Paterson Diocese attorney, Kenneth Mullaney, confirmed, adding that the diocese was informed of his death last week.

Mullaney did not say which nursing home Hanley was at at the time of his death or if he died from coronavirus as so many others across the state have over the last few months.

Hanley had been receiving a stipend from the church, Mullaney said.

The former priest, who served as a pastor at St. Joseph’s Church in Mendham for 10 years, had been accused of victimizing several more children and in 2004, the Diocese of Paterson settled lawsuits with 21 of Hanley’s accusers for nearly $5 million.

Louisiana priest convicted of molestation released on bond

Associated Press

April 29, 2020

A former Louisiana priest convicted of molesting an altar boy was released from jail on bond over coronavirus safety concerns.

Michael Guidry, 77, was released Friday nearly a year after he pleaded guilty to molesting a 16-year old boy after giving him alcohol in Guidry’s home, The Advertiser reported. The victim said in a civil lawsuit that he woke up one day in 2015 after doing chores in Guidry’s home and found the former priest molesting him, The Advocate reported. The victim told authorities about the molestation when he was an adult, four years after it happened.

Guidry, who served as the priest of St. Peter’s Church in Morrow, was then sentenced to 10 years in prison in April 2019, KATC-TV reported.

Harrisburg Catholic Diocese to close two schools, citing financial difficulties and declining enrollment


April 28, 2020

By Ivey DeJesus

The Catholic Diocese of Harrisburg on Tuesday cited continued financial stress and decreasing enrollment as key factors in the decision to close two schools.

Holy Family Consolidated Catholic School in Berwick and Lebanon Catholic are slated for closure at the end of this school year, officials said in a written press statement.

Both schools have been facing enrollment and financial challenges for years and their continued operation is no longer sustainable by the area parishes, the press release said.

Editorial: Dolan delivers the church to Trump and the GOP

National Catholic Reporter

April 28, 2020

The capitulation is complete.

Without a whimper from any of his fellow bishops, the cardinal archbishop of New York has inextricably linked the Catholic Church in the United States to the Republican Party and, particularly, President Donald Trump.

It was bad enough that Cardinals Timothy Dolan of New York and Sean O'Malley of Boston, joined by Los Angeles Archbishop José Gomez, currently also president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, participated in Trump's phone version of a campaign rally on April 25. With hundreds of others on the call, including Catholic educators, the bishops were once again masterfully manipulated. They previously gave Trump certain campaign footage when they delivered Catholics to his speech at the March for Life rally in Washington early in the year.

Now Trump will have Dolan's language from the call, telling everyone that he considers himself a "great friend" of Trump, for whom he expressed mutual admiration as "a great gentleman." The cardinal went on to say that he was "honored" to lead off the comments on the call.

‘Outsider Pope’ faces resistance as he tries to reform the Church, author says


April 29, 2020

By Charles Collins

Whatever your opinion of Pope Francis, everyone can agree the term “disruptor” is accurate.

In his new book, Outsider: Pope Francis and His Battle to Reform the Church, Christopher Lamb argues that many people within the Vatican itself are resisting the pope’s efforts to change how the Church functions.

Lamb, who is the Rome correspondent for the English Catholic weekly The Tablet, says many of Francis’s critics “perceive him as too political and moving the Church away from defending certain moral teachings.”

Buffalo Diocese stops paying 23 priests accused of abuse

Buffalo News

April 28, 2020

By Jay Tokasz

The Buffalo Diocese, as part of bankruptcy negotiations, will no longer pay or provide health care for priests suspended due to substantiated sex abuse allegations.

Bishop Edward B. Scharfenberger informed 23 Buffalo priests who are on leave because of abuse claims that their regular checks from the diocese would stop on Friday, May 1.

Scharfenberger wrote a letter to the priests dated last Thursday, explaining that the termination of pay was part of negotiations in bankruptcy with a creditor’s committee representing more than 200 plaintiffs who alleged child sex abuse by priests and sued the diocese under the Child Victims Act.

The diocese filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection on Feb. 28.

New Jersey priest who admitted abusing over a dozen children, dies in nursing home, lawyer says

Fox News

April 29, 2020

By David Aaro

A former New Jersey priest, who admitted abusing more than a dozen children in the state, died in a nursing home last week, according to multiple reports.

It wasn't clear whether the death of James T. Hanley, who was one of the first priests to be defrocked in 2003 for sexually abusing children, was related to the coroniavirus outbreak, NJ.com reported.

Hanley was at the center of the 2002 Roman Catholic Church scandal in New Jersey in relation to an alleged cover-up of sex abuse by some bishops.

“Now remember, Mark,” the priest allegedly told Mark Serrano, who was 9 years old at the time he was allegedly abused in the 1970s, according to Rolling Stone. “This is our secret. This is something special that you and I share. Best not to share it with Mom and Dad.”

April 28, 2020

Reportajes 24: A 10 años de denunciar a Fernando Karadima, ¿valió la pena?

[Reports 24: 10 years after denouncing Fernando Karadima, was it worth it?]

Reportajes 24


Hace 10 años se cumplió un hito en la historia de la televisión pública. No sin esfuerzos por acallar a los denunciantes y al equipo periodístico, Informe Especial emitió un reportaje que denunció a uno de los sacerdotes más poderosos de la Iglesia Católica nacional. A una década de aquel trabajo, los sobrevivientes revisan la lucha dada, lo logrado, y lo que a su juicio no se ha hecho para renovar las estructuras y proteger a las víctimas de abuso sexual y de conciencia. Los arzobispos eméritos de Santiago, Franciso Javier Errázuriz y Ricardo Ezzati, y el actual arzobispo, Celestino Aós, se restaron de entregar sus conclusiones.

[Google Translation: 10 years ago, a milestone in the history of public television was met. Not without efforts to silence the complainants and the journalistic team, Special Report issued a report that denounced one of the most powerful priests of the national Catholic Church. A decade after that work, survivors review the struggle, what has been achieved, and what, in their opinion, has not been done to renew the structures and protect victims of sexual abuse and conscience. The archbishops emeritus of Santiago, Franciso Javier Errázuriz and Ricardo Ezzati, and the current archbishop, Celestino Aós, declined to deliver their conclusions.]

Former St. Landry Parish priest who admitted molestation released from prison

The Acadiana Advocate

April 27, 2020

By Ben Myers

A 77-year-old former Lafayette Diocese priest who pleaded guilty to molesting a teenage altar boy in St. Landry Parish five years ago has been released from prison while he appeals his sentence.

Michael Guidry’s lawyer, Jane Hogan, filed a bail motion this month, and court records show that he is no longer in custody. Guidry received the maximum 10-year jail term — with three years suspended — after pleading guilty in 2018.

OPINION: Do we have to take sides over George Pell? Well, actually, 'no'

Eternity News

April 28, 2020

By John Sandeman

Survivors of clergy abuse were genuinely shocked at the High Court overturning the convictions of Cardinal George Pell. It took them by surprise. The legal fraternity had worked out the odds – but not the survivors and their support groups.

Having sat through the two days of the the High Court hearing, and seen the prosecution case collapse, it did not shock me – although I had not predicted the outcome.

Will the pandemic force the Catholic Church to transform?

TRT World

April 27, 2020

While the church has a vast body of members, the pandemic is leaving one of the oldest religious institutions in financial limbo.

The Catholic Church has survived many things, including the Protestant Reformation of the 16th Century, capitalism and secularism.

As the world's oldest religious institution, with nearly 1.3 billion followers, the Catholic Church is the largest continuously operating international organisation, and the faithful would also like it to survive this deadly pandemic.

But no one can deny that the Vatican’s finances are in disarray.

Listening key for Church reform in our time


April 28, 2020

By Michael Otto

The royal commission investigation of sexual abuse in care in New Zealand is likely to highlight systemic problems in the Church that will prompt calls for reform.

This is what has happened in other countries and reform processes have started in places like Australia and Germany, said Dr Myriam Wijlens at a lecture in Auckland on March 11.

Dr Wijlens, who is a theologian, canon law professor and member of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, stressed that reform has to address issues at their roots, touching and impacting the whole body of the faithful.

Domestic violence and child abuse rates rise, but resources are still available

The Alestle

April 28, 2020

By Damian Morris

Rates for domestic violence and child abuse are rising with COVID-19, but there are still resources out there.

According to Sheriff of Cherokee County, South Carolina, Steve Mueller in an NBC News article, the rates of domestic violence have increased by 35 percent in March compared to February due to COVID-19.

Prevention Education and Advocacy Center Coordinator Samantha Dickens said increasing rates of domestic violence and child abuse are occuring from families being stuck in close quarters.

Church members show support for priest in legal battle


April 27, 2020

By Eric Pointer

Congregation members of two Catholic churches are showing their support for a priest who was removed by Richmond Diocese Bishop. The priest has appealed his removal and is still in place at both churches while the process unfolds.

Father Mark White presides over St. Joseph in Martinsville and St. Francis of Assisi in Rocky Mount.

Originally Father Mark White was told to stop his blog, which at times was critical of the church’s handling of sexual abuse cases. He shut the blog down for some time, but once the pandemic hit and he wasn’t able to meet with his members face to face, he started it up again and he was removed shortly after.

Beyond Cedarville: Why Do Pastors Keep Getting Rehired After Abuse?

Christian Today

April 28, 2020

By Kate Shellnutt

Victims’ advocates caution institutions against plans to “restore” fallen leaders.

Another case of a leader with an abusive past moving from one evangelical institution to another has intensified scrutiny on Christian hiring practices and responses to abuse.

In ministry contexts, the desire to keep fallen leaders out of positions where they might again abuse their authority is sometimes met with another perspective—a hope that a redemptive and forgiving God would allow people to be restored to leadership. Both victims’ advocates and community members worry that administrators weighing those considerations at Cedarville University made the wrong call.

Sexual Abuse Remains a Summer Camp Concern for Parents


April 27, 2020

Nearly half of parents surveyed said they were more concerned about potential abuse and bullying at overnight camps than the cost or activities offered; As camps move virtual, cyber safety also emerges as a concern

Summer camp has long been a cherished rite of passage for generations of kids. And even if the sun sets to the sound of crickets across campgrounds this summer – and camps become virtual for the season – there’s sure to be a rush of eager new campers next year, post-pandemic. According to the American Camp Association, about 7,000 overnight camps and 5,000 day camps in the United States offer children enriching experiences, from educational activities to overnight wilderness trips and travel-based adventures.

Victim says more school mates likely to take action after Ridsdale abuse

The Standard

April 28, 2020

By Andrew Thomson

Up to 20 more Mortlake victims of notorious pedophile priest Gerald Ridsdale are considering coming forward after being abused in the early 1980s.

Cardinal George Pell findings seeking approval for release


April 28, 2020

Unpublished findings relating to Cardinal George Pell's handling of child sexual abuse complaints have been cleared for release by the Victorian government.

The federal attorney-general is now seeking final approval after receiving clearance on the royal commission documents from his Victorian counterpart.

"Now that this response has been received I have sought final advice from my department on the release of the documents and will proceed upon receipt of that advice, which I expect as soon as possible," Christian Porter told AAP.

Ridsdale admits to more abuse


April 28, 2020

By Rebecca McDonald

A pedophile priest has admitted to sexually abusing more boys.

Gerald Ridsdale has pleaded guilty to more than dozen charges including indecent assault, against four victims on the Surf Coast and in the state's west.

The abuse occurred during the 1970s.

The court heard two brothers were abused when the former priest took them rabbit shooting.

Ridsdale admits more abuse but lawyer asks for no extra jail time

The Age

April 27, 2020

By Adam Cooper

Gerald Ridsdale – arguably Australia's most prolific paedophile priest – has admitted abusing more children who were in his care, but his lawyer has argued his jail term should not be increased.

Ten counts of indecent assault and four of buggery against four boys in the 1970s took to 69 the number of Ridsdale's known victims, the County Court heard on Monday, though it is not known exactly how many lives he damaged over 27 years of offending while a parish priest across western Victoria.

Archdiocese 'is not Lehman Brothers'

The Guam Daily Post

April 27, 2020

By Haidee Eugenio Gilbert

Judge balks at $75K monthly fee in church bankruptcy case

A federal judge held off deciding on clergy sex abuse claimants' proposal to hire a financial adviser for up to $75,000 a month, saying the fees are "exorbitant" and the bankrupt Archdiocese of Agana "is not Lehman Brothers," a global financial services firm.

Chief Judge Frances Tydingco-Gatewood of the District Court of Guam said more money spent on professional fees means less money for each clergy sex abuse survivor.

"And if the debtor becomes insolvent, it not only negatively affects the debtor and all the creditors, but it will also have a massive impact on the entire Catholic community that the debtor serves," the judge wrote in her April 24 order.

New motion asks judge to ignore advice to keep emails between Saints, archdiocese sealed in clergy abuse suit


April 24, 2020

By Ramon Antonio Vargas and Amie Just

Attorneys for an alleged clergy sex abuse victim asked a New Orleans judge Friday to reject a court official’s recommendation that hundreds of emails between the New Orleans Saints and the Archdiocese of New Orleans should remain hidden from public view.

The plaintiff’s legal team argued that the recommendation from retired Judge Carolyn Gill-Jefferson erred on several counts, including her suggestion to also seal all materials uncovered in the future by the discovery process of the lawsuit in question.

“No defendant or third party had sought such sweeping relief,” a plaintiff filing said Friday.

Hawaii courts filling with sex abuse cases


April 27, 2020

By Paul Drewes

Hawaii courts have filled with last minute filings for sexual abuse cases.

Fall out from a slew of recently filed sexual abuse lawsuits has a trustee from Punahou Schools stepping down.

According to the school, Monica McLaren voluntarily stepped down from the Board, after her husband Christopher McLaren was named in one of several civil cases against Punahou.

Hawaii courts have filled with last minute filings for sexual abuse cases.

"There was sexual contact within months of first meeting me outside of Kekuhaupi'o gym," said former Kamehameha Schools student Daniel Kaohimaunu. His revelation of abuse at Kamehameha Schools also comes with a lawsuit.

Do French clerics carry “get out of jail free” cards? [Opinion]

InternationalFreeThought.org (blog)

April 27, 2020

By Keith Porteous Wood

In March, a most egregious infraction of secularism in France passed almost unnoticed. Former priest Bernard Preynat was not imprisoned despite having been found guilty of the sexual violence against minors on a huge scale over decades.

He had been sentenced to five years in prison but was released pending appeal.

Preynat had friends in high places. He enjoyed the protection, in knowledge of his crimes, of the most senior Catholics in France. No less than five successive Cardinal Archbishops of Lyon – Renard, Decourtray, Balland, Billé and Barbarin.

Survivors of clergy sex abuse want accountability following priest released on house arrest


April 27, 2020

By Chris Welty

The release of a priest convicted of molesting a teenage boy is raising questions for the judicial system and the COVID-19 pandemic.

Michael Guidry is out on bail tonight.

One-year-ago this week, he was sentenced to 10 years in prison, with three years suspended, after pleading guilty to molestation of a juvenile.

According to court records, Guidry's defense counsel, Jane Hogan, requested an emergency appeal hearing due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Guidry's attorney appeared before the court through video conference and waived her defendant's appearance. Guidry's defense then submitted an emergency motion for bail, which the court granted and set at $10,000 over objections from state prosecutors.

Survivors of clergy sex abuse want accountability.

"This perp is a dangerous perpetrator and what does that say to the individual he sexually abused? I don't care how long ago it was," said Kevin Bourgeois.

He's a survivor of clergy sex abuse and a volunteer leader of the Survivor Network of those Abused by Priests in New Orleans. Bourgeois is disturbed that convicted priest Michael Guidry is out on house arrest.

Springfield-Cape Girardeau Diocese releases investigation into priest with many ties to the Ozarks


April 27, 2020

The Springfield-Cape-Girardeau Diocese reports a review board determined inappropriate physical/sexual misconduct involving a priest.

Father Gary Carr became an ordained priest in 1982. He then served at several churches and schools in the diocese, including in Springfield, Monett and West Plains (See entire list below).

The allegations involve a male student between the ages of 10-13. The report has been forwarded to the Stoddard County Prosecuting Attorney's Office in southeast Missouri. This is only a report from the diocese. Police have not arrested Father Carr.

The Diocesan Safe Environment Review Board has determined that an allegation of inappropriate physical/sexual misconduct involving Fr. Gary Carr meets the criteria for publication as it satisfies the prevailing standard of Semblance of Truth.

The allegation involves a male, now an adult, who recently reported that nearly 30 years ago, when he was then between the age of 10-13 years old, Fr. Carr made inappropriate physical/sexual contact with him. This report has been forwarded to the Stoddard County Prosecuting Attorney, the jurisdiction where the incident is alleged to have occurred.

Dallas priest accused of abuse, removed from the ministry

Associated Press

April 27, 2020

Dallas Roman Catholic diocese has removed a priest from the ministry after sexual abuse allegations arose in the Colombian archdiocese where he formerly served.

Oscar Mora was among 19 priests suspended last month by the Catholic Archdiocese of Villavicencio after the allegation arose earlier this year, The Dallas Morning News reported Monday.

The archdiocese alerted Bishop Edward Burns in Dallas that one of the priests in the Dallas diocese was among the 19 suspended.

April 27, 2020

Vic govt clears release of Pell findings

AAP via 7News

April 27, 2020

By Benita Kolovos

Unpublished findings about Cardinal George Pell's handling of child sexual abuse complaints have been cleared for release by the Victorian government.

Attorney-General Jill Hennessy has advised her federal counterpart Christian Porter that blacked-out sections of two reports from the institutional child abuse royal commission can be released, after the High Court overturned the cardinal's convictions for child sexual abuse earlier this month.

"The government is not aware of any impediments to the un-redacted versions of these reports being tabled and published at this time," the government said in a statement on Monday.

After 26 years, Eileen Piper has finally won an apology from the Catholic Church for her daughter's abuse

Australian Broadcasting Corporation

April 26, 2020

By Karen Percy

Key points

- The Catholic Church had long denied Stephanie Piper was abused by Father Gerard Mulvale in the 1970s

- The Archbishop of Melbourne apologised to Mrs Piper after a review by the former chief justice of the Victorian Supreme Court

- The 95-year-old mother's lawyers said the apology is too little and too late

It's taken 26 years, reams of legal documents and many tears, but Eileen Piper has done what she set out to do — cleared the name of her daughter, Stephanie, who was abused by a Catholic priest in the 1970s.

In December, Mrs Piper, 95, received a written apology from Melbourne's Archbishop, Peter Comensoli, and the Pallotine order of priests which, for years, had denied the crimes of Father Gerard Mulvale.

"I am relieved — but I'm still hurt," she told the ABC.

[PHOTO: Stephanie Piper a week before she died, in 1994.]

In the 1970s, Mrs Piper was an active parishioner at St Christopher's in the Melbourne suburb of Syndal, now part of Glen Waverley.

Pell and the unforgiving glare [Opinion]

The Australian

April 27, 2020

By John Ferguson

Someone had to pay for the many abuses of the Catholic Church ... and there was Cardinal George Pell.

George Pell and his supporters won’t have been surprised that news of another police investigation into the cardinal broke just days after his High Court acquittal of child sex abuse.

For months, rumours about another possible complainant had been swirling among Catholic circles, and through the streets of Ballarat and the broader survivor community.

But, as is the case with so much that revolves around the 78-year-old, who knows what to believe and how much, if any, weight to give the latest claim?

Given the emphatic High Court ruling on the St Patrick’s Cathedral abuse convictions and the failure of any of the original charges to go the full distance, the report on a fresh complainant was greeted by Camp Pell with a depressing sense of weariness rather than profound alarm.

Guest post by Edward Henry QC: Reflections on the case of Cardinal Pell

The Secret Barrister (blog)

April 23, 2020

I am pleased to host this guest post by Edward Henry QC, of QEB Hollis Whiteman, reflecting on the case of Pell v The Queen [2020] HCA 12, and what the Court of Appeal (Criminal Division) in England and Wales can learn from the High Court of Australia.


On 7th April Cardinal Pell was cleared by the High Court of Australia of wrongful allegations of historic sexual assault on a chorister. In its judgment, the HCA found that for all five charges, there were many improbabilities that had not been fully considered by the jury, amounting to “a significant possibility,” the judges wrote, “that an innocent person has been convicted.” Edward Henry QC considers that cases involving historic allegations of sexual abuse can present a real danger of injustice, which the CACD too often seems to ignore. The approach of the HCA is one the CACD should adopt in making an assessment of whether a conviction is ‘unsafe.’

Opinion: Row between a US priest and his bishop reaches farcical levels

Patheos (blog)

April 25, 2020

By Barry Duke

A Virginia priest who established a blog in which he posted entries critical of the Church’s handling of the clergy sex scandal has being removed as pastor of both Saint Francis of Assisi Church in Rocky Mount and Saint Joseph’s in Martinsville and reassigned as a prison chaplain, necessitating a move two hours away.

But a defiant Fr Mark White, above, of the Diocese of Richmond, says he’s not going anywhere until established Church law has run its course. What’s more, he relaunched the blog which he agreed to shut down in November 2019 when ordered to do so by Richmond Bishop Barry Knestout.

When the COVID pandemic brought an end to public Masses and sacramental life in general last month, White sought permission from Knestout to resurrect his blog as a means of staying in touch with parishioners who were now isolated from the sacraments and from each other.

He received no response from the bishop so he went ahead and put it back on line.

Victorian government clears release of Pell royal commission findings

The Guardian

April 27, 2020

By Melissa Davey and Australian Associated Press

Victorian attorney general advises her federal counterpart that blacked-out sections of two reports can be released

Unpublished findings about Cardinal George Pell’s handling of child sexual abuse complaints have been cleared for release by the Victorian government.

Attorney general Jill Hennessy has advised her federal counterpart, Christian Porter, that blacked-out sections of two reports from the institutional child abuse royal commission can be released, after the high court overturned the cardinal’s convictions for child sexual abuse earlier this month.

“The government is not aware of any impediments to the un-redacted versions of these reports being tabled and published at this time,” the government said in a statement on Monday.

However she added, “The removal of redactions is entirely a matter for the royal commission into institutional responses into child sexual abuse”.

The decision to release the findings rests with Porter given the royal commission completed its work and released its final report in December 2o17.

The royal commission’s final report contains dozens of redacted pages about the Catholic church and Pell’s handling of child abuse allegations in the Melbourne archdiocese and Ballarat diocese. This was because of the legal action against Pell underway at the time, with the report published just months after Pell was charged with child sexual offences. The findings remained redacted throughout his criminal trials and subsequent appeals because of fears they could prejudice a jury. Since Pell won his appeal before the high court in April there has been pressure on the government to make the commission’s findings regarding Pell public.

Victorian Government backs release of unredacted Royal Commission findings on child sex abuse

Australian Broadcasting Corporation

April 27, 2020

Victoria's Attorney General, Jill Hennessy, has said there are no legal impediments to prevent the release of unredacted portions of the findings of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.

The unanimous High Court decision acquitting George Pell earlier this month cleared the way for the release of some unpublished findings of the Royal Commission relating to his evidence about the way in which allegations of abuse were handled in the Catholic diocese of Ballarat.

Cardinal Pell was questioned about what he may have known about paedophile priest Gerald Ridsdale and the offending of other priests.

He was also scrutinised about the Catholic Church's hardline approach to sexual abuse cases during his time as archbishop of Sydney.

Now that Cardinal Pell has been acquitted, the Federal Attorney-General, Christian Porter can table the Royal Commission's unredacted reports in Parliament.

Amish bishop charged with failing to report child sex abuse

Associated Press

April 23, 2020

An Amish bishop failed to notify law enforcement that a church member allegedly confessed to sexually assaulting three girls, authorities said..

Levi Esh Sr., 63, was arraigned Wednesday on felony and misdemeanor charges and his bail was set at $25,000. It wasn’t known Thursday if he has retained an attorney.

Esh failed to report the church member’s confession about sexual assaults that occurred around 2012 and 2013, according to Pequea Township police. They cited witnesses within the Amish community who said that while Esh’s church excommunicated the member, Esh only had the matter “handled internally” in order to keep it quiet.

Esh is bishop of two congregations in Lancaster County.

Cardinal Pell: A decision with little certainty [Opinion]

National Catholic Reporter

April 27, 2020

by Gail Grossman Freyne

George Pell is a cardinal in the Catholic Church. And that is where the problem lies. It lies as well in the institution. The two are inextricably intertwined so that the fate of one informs the other.

Some, like Pope Francis, say, "I would like to pray today for all those persons who suffer an unjust sentence because someone had it in for them." The Vatican News reported that the pope made this statement at his morning Mass in Santa Marta, shortly after the news broke that the High Court of Australia had quashed the convictions against Pell.

The Vatican is understandably relieved that the final appeal of their erstwhile No. 3 in command has been successful. But the church cannot reasonably take comfort from the high court's decision because, if the cardinal's appeal had failed, they would not have taken the blame for his actions. They never do. When one priest is caught, he is simply a random "bad apple"— nothing wrong with the rest of the barrel, we're told.

April 26, 2020

Kamehameha Schools Faces a Spate of Sex Abuse Claims

Honolulu Civil Beat

April 24, 2020

By Yoohyun Jung

At least 16 plaintiffs are named in six lawsuits. Other schools also have been sued in the weeks leading up to a deadline Friday.

Kamehameha Schools, endowed by the state’s largest private landowner to educate children of Hawaiian descent, faces a new wave of sex abuse claims from former students coming forward just before the statutory deadline to file such lawsuits.

At least six lawsuits involving 16 plaintiffs filed in recent weeks include new claims against Dr. Robert Browne, the disgraced psychiatrist whose abuse of students already led the school to pay $80 million in a settlement, as well as newly accused teachers, an administrator and dorm advisors from the 1970s and ‘80s.

The teachers and staff are accused of abusing their positions of power to sexually molest and assault students, in some cases giving them alcohol or illicit drugs to facilitate their abuse. The plaintiffs say the school turned a blind eye.

In 2012, the Legislature approved a statute allowing victims to file civil claims against their abusers long after the statute of limitations had passed. The time limit had been extended every two years until this year, when another extension was going to be considered. Then the COVID-19 pandemic put the Legislature into an abrupt recess.

Now, with the window closing Friday and no extension in the works, attorneys have been flocking to the courts to file new claims against Kamehameha Schools and other institutions, including the Roman Catholic Church and a few other schools.

Some parishes “may not be able to re-open” once public health crisis ends, Scharfenberger says


April 24, 2020

By Chris Horvatits

In mid-March, the coronavirus crisis forced the Diocese of Buffalo to hold masses without congregations present. The Most. Rev. Edward Schafenberger, Albany’s bishop who is temporarily in charge of Buffalo’s diocese, says some parishes may never hold a public mass again.

“It would depend upon the parish’s own unique circumstances,” Scharfenberger said Friday. “It’s not too dramatic to assume that some just may not be able to re-open again. There may need to be some sort of mergers.”

Many parish’s across the diocese have been holding mass via Facebook or Youtube over the past month. That means parishioners are unable to place money in the collection bins during mass. Scharfenberger was unable to provide specific information on parish finances across the diocese. But he provided estimates.

20% of church entities that applied received SBA loans to keep staff

Catholic News Service via Angelus

April 24, 2020

By Dennis Sadowski

The federal small-business loan program created in response to the coronavirus pandemic has allowed the Diocese of Nashville, Tennessee, to keep all of its part-time employees on board.

For that, school superintendent Rebecca Hammel is grateful.

She told Catholic News Service that 10 schools received loans under the Small Business Administration-administered Paycheck Protection Program.

Loan amounts ranged from $89,900 to $1.95 million and allows the school to continue paying part-time workers even though they are not reporting to work, Hammel said. The remaining six diocesan schools are in line to receive loans once new legislation replenishing the program takes effect, she added.

"It's just been a blessing to our schools," Hammel said of the program.

The House of Representatives April 23 passed legislation already approved by the Senate that would allocate an additional $310 billion into the Paycheck Protection Program. President Donald Trump has said he would sign the legislation.

Podcast: Cardinal Pell, Innocent!

First Things

April 23, 2020

By Mark Bauerlein and George Weigel

The latest installment in an ongoing interview series with contributing editor Mark Bauerlein. On this episode, George Weigel and Mark discuss Cardinal George Pell’s acquittal.

Seminaries must hire, involve more women, Cardinal Ouellet says

Catholic News Service via National Catholic Reporter

April 24, 2020

By Cindy Wooden

Vatican City - For some priests and seminarians, "women represent danger, but in reality, the true danger are those men who do not have a balanced relationship with women," said Canadian Cardinal Marc Ouellet, prefect of the Congregation for Bishops.

The cardinal was interviewed about the role of women in seminaries and seminary formation for the May issue of the women's supplement to the Vatican newspaper; the interview was published April 24 by Vatican News.

Asked if a lack of women involved in priestly formation programs is to blame for the discomfort women and priests can experience in each other's company, the cardinal said, "the problem is probably deeper" than that and begins with how women are treated in one's family.

"There is awkwardness because there is fear — more on the part of the man toward the woman than the woman toward the man," he said.

"We must radically change" how priests interact with women, the cardinal said, which is why "during formation it is important that there is contact, discussion, exchanges" with women.

Having women on seminary formation teams as professors and counselors, he said, also "would help a candidate interact with women in a natural way, including in facing the challenge represented by the presence of women, attraction to a woman."

Boy Scouts suit filed as Hawaii shuts abuse claims window

Associated Press

April 26, 2020

By Jennifer Sinco Kelleher

Eight men were sexually abused when they were Boy Scouts in Hawaii in the 1960s and 1970s, they alleged in a lawsuit filed Friday as the state’s window closed on allowing child sex abuse claims that would have been barred under a statute of limitations.

Various states and Washington, D.C., extended or suspended statute of limitations to allow child sex abuse claims stretching back decades. In Hawaii, a window for filing old claims was first opened in 2012. It was reopened in 2018 and closed Friday.

The lawsuit by the eight men now living in Hawaii, California, Oregon and Washington state also comes while attorneys urge potential victims to come forward as Boy Scouts of America works on its bankruptcy plan.

The Boy Scouts filed for bankruptcy protection in February in an effort to halt hundreds of individual lawsuits and create a huge compensation fund for men who were molested as youngsters decades ago by scoutmasters or other leaders.

The Scouts resorted to Chapter 11 in hopes of surviving a barrage of lawsuits, many of them made possible by changes in state laws to allow people to sue over long-ago sexual abuse.

April 25, 2020

Maine high court upholds sex crime convictions of defrocked priest

Press Herald

April 23, 2020

By Matt Byrne

The justices affirm 10 of the 11 convictions against Ronald Paquin, 77, a former Catholic priest from Massachusetts, leaving his 16-year prison sentence unchanged.

The Maine Supreme Judicial Court on Thursday upheld all but one of the 11 convictions of a former priest who is serving 16 years in prison for sexually assaulting a boy during multiple vacations to Maine in the 1980s.

Ronald Paquin, now 77, was found guilty in 2018 of 11 counts of gross sexual misconduct. A York County jury acquitted him of similar charges related to a second boy. A judge sentenced him last year to 20 years in prison with all but 16 years suspended.

Paquin was one of the priests exposed in the early 2000s by a sweeping Boston Globe investigation into clergy sex abuse. He pleaded guilty in 2002 in Massachusetts to repeatedly raping an altar boy between 1989 and 1992, beginning when the victim was 12.

He spent more than decade in prison and was defrocked in 2004. Once he was released, he was indicted on criminal charges in Maine related to conduct that occurred between 1985 and 1988 in Kennebunkport. Paquin was arrested in 2017.

Paquin’s attorneys focused on two main issues in their appeal: That Paquin’s defense attorneys did not have access to the victim’s criminal history information at trial, and argued that the trial judge was wrong not to compel the state to turn over that information. Another issue dealt with whether two of the 11 counts Paquin faced violated the constitutional protection against double jeopardy.

Defrocked 'Spotlight' Priest's Convictions Upheld In Maine

Associated Press

April 24, 2020

Maine's highest court has upheld convictions on 10 of 11 counts for a defrocked priest who was sentenced to prison for sexually abusing an altar boy during trips to the state in the 1980s.

Ronald Paquin, 77, had already served more than 10 years in prison in Massachusetts. Last year, he was ordered to serve another 16 years in prison in Maine.

The Maine Supreme Judicial Court ruled Thursday that two counts violated Paquin’s constitutional double jeopardy protection against being punished twice for the same crime, and it vacated one of the counts.

But the court dismissed other arguments, including the defense contention that the victim’s criminal record should have been presented, along with questions about expert testimony about victims of sexual crimes.

Paquin’s case in Massachusetts was a critical piece of a sexual abuse scandal that consumed the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Boston, and he was portrayed in the Oscar-winning movie “Spotlight,” about The Boston Globe's investigation.

Defrocked priest's conviction upheld in Maine

Eagle Tribune

April 24, 2020

By Mike LaBella

Haverhill - Maine's highest court has upheld convictions on 10 of 11 counts for a defrocked priest who was sentenced to prison for sexually abusing an altar boy during trips to the state in the 1980s.

Ronald Paquin, 77, had already served more than 10 years in prison in Massachusetts. Last year, he was ordered to serve another 16 years in prison in Maine after his conviction in late November 2018 on 11 of 24 counts of gross sexual misconduct.

Paquin served at St. John the Baptist Church in Haverhill from 1981 to 1990, and St. Monica Church in Methuen from 1974 to 1980.

The Maine Supreme Judicial Court ruled Thursday that two counts violated Paquin’s constitutional double jeopardy protection against being punished twice for the same crime, and it vacated one of the counts.

But the court dismissed other arguments, including the defense contention that the victim’s criminal record should have been presented, along with questions about expert testimony about victims of sexual crimes.

About 100 victims come forward with new claims of sex abuse

Hawaii News Now KHNL / KGMB

April 24, 2020

By Rick Daysog

At least 100 come forward with new sex abuse allegations as filing deadline ends

At least 100 former students, medical patients and church members have come forward with new allegations that they were sexually abused years ago.

Many are victims of known sex offenders -- pedophile priests, doctors and teachers.

But at least five ex-Punahou girls basketball players -- including MMA champ Ilima-Lei MacFarlane and former University of Hawaii women’s basketball standout Shawna-Lei Kuehu -- are raising new sex abuse allegations against their former coach Dwayne Yuen.

Attorneys said the lawsuits are just the tip of the iceberg.

“I know (that) for a fact, because I’ve talked to people who are still out there and are still undecided about coming forward," said attorney Randall Rosenberg.

A large number of the suits are against the Catholic Church, which is paying out millions to settle prior cases.

“Some of the conduct is so reprehensible that you wouldn’t believe someone of the clergy would do it. But unfortunately, we’ve seen it over and over again," said attorney Mark Gallagher who represents dozens of victims.

Bishop Larry Silva acknowledged the lawsuits at a recent Sunday mass.cannot tell you how it turns my stomach to read of the abuse these people have suffered, and not only that, but how their faith was damaged," said Silva.

Lawyers said that many of these new cases will go to mediation and not to a courtroom because the accused priest, teacher or doctor is a known offender.

Ordination Class of 2020 Study Provides Hope for the State of Vocations in the Church

U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops

April 23, 2020

The release of the study of the Ordination Class of 2020 reveals a great sign of life and hope in the Church in the United States, despite the midst of uncertainty in the world brought by the Coronavirus pandemic. At a moment when the faithful are prone to despair and struggle with the sadness of not having the sacraments available, and the public celebration of the Mass suspended, this profile of the 2020 Ordination Class is a ray of light. It is a tangible sign of God’s continued care for His Church. As a part of its mandate, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Committee on Clergy, Consecrated Life and Vocations sponsors an annual survey, in conjunction with the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA), of the members of the current year’s Ordination Class. Each of the men to be ordained in the coming months shows the loving work of God to sustain His Church through the calling of new priests to minister His saving Sacraments and preach the Good News. The survey shows a wide variety of men from varied backgrounds who have all responded to God’s call to serve His people. Below is a summary of the results of the findings of the CARA study.

This year, 77% of the 448 identified members of the Ordination Class of 2020 responded to the survey. Of those responding, 82% will be ordained to the diocesan priesthood and 18% will be ordained to the priesthood for an institute of religious life or society of apostolic life. Some of the major findings of the report are:

2020 priest ordination class is slightly smaller, more diverse, survey finds

Catholic News Agency via Angelus

April 24, 2020

A survey of the 2020 priestly ordination class was published by the U.S. Catholic bishops’ conference (USCCB) on Thursday, a slightly smaller class than in 2019.

Sponsored by the bishops’ Committee on Clergy, Consecrated Life and Vocations, the survey is conducted annually of U.S. seminarians who are about to be ordained to the priesthood. The USCCB collaborates with the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA) to produce the survey.

Ordination class sizes have varied over time, according to previous CARA reports. In 2006, there were 359 potential ordinands identified by the survey (though not all responded), a number that rose to 475 in 2007 before dipping to 401 for the class of 2008—many of whom would have entered seminary in 2002, the year that clergy sex abuse scandals in the U.S. were widely reported.

April 24, 2020

‘The Catholic Church should close the Christian Brothers down’

6PR 882 Radio

April 22, 2020

By Gareth Parker

A McGowan Government minister and former student of CBC Fremantle has publicly criticised the Christian Brothers for a lack of care towards the victims of child sexual abuse.

Dave Kelly, the MLA for Bassendean, attended CBC Fremantle in the 1970s from grade 4 to grade 12.

Today on Mornings with Gareth Parker he has revealed his disgust with the Christian Brothers for failing to reckon with their shameful past in dealing with the legacy of child sexual abuse.

Mr Kelly said the public revelation in 2013 that one of his former teachers, Brother Daniel McMahon, had abused children was the trigger for him to write to the management of CBC Fremantle to ask what the school would do about notifying former students and inviting them to come forward.

“The Principal wrote me a very brief reply, it said my letter had been referred to the Catholic Church’s Office of Professional Standards. The letter than referenced the Royal Commission which was then underway then assured me it would be taken seriously and that was the end of the letter,” he said.

“It (the letter) was absolutely silent on (the issue of notifying former students) but it led you to believe that they’d referred it to the appropriate authority within the Catholic Church and something would be done about it. I then heard absolutely nothing from the school on that issue.”

Underwhelmed with the school’s response, he pursued the matter with the leadership of the Christian Brothers in Australia.

At a meeting at Parliament House in 2015 with Br Peter Clinch, the head of the Christian Brothers, and another member of the order’s council Br John Webb, Mr Kelly claims it was acknowledged that the Christian Brothers knew Brother McMahon had abused children.

Barrow reverend Nick Donnelly 'proved right' after senior Catholic's child sexual abuse conviction overturned

The Mail

April 21, 2020

By Joe Fletcher


A Furness cleric said he had been 'proved right' after senior Australian Catholic Cardinal George Pell had his conviction for sexually abusing two boys overturned by the High Court.

Rev Nick Donnelly, deacon of the Our Lady of Furness parish, which incorporates St Mary’s Church on Duke Street, Barrow, received hate mail and even a death threat over the issue.

“Twitter can be a hateful place,” said Rev Donnelly. “It was somebody posting in Ballarat (Victoria, Australia), who basically said if I showed my face in Ballarat I’d get my noggin smashed in.”

However, Rev Donnelly, who lives in Barrow, believes his support has been vindicated by the release of Cardinal Pell after more than 400 days in prison, with a bench of seven judges unanimously ruling in the cleric’s favour.

The cardinal’s original appeal, it was determined, had 'failed to engage with the question of whether there remained a reasonable possibility that the offending had not taken place.'

Commentary: A View from the Inside of the Catholic Church’s Abuse Scandal

Legal Examiner - Saunders and Walker Law Firm

April 23, 2020

By Joseph H. Saunders

Fr. Mark White, a Catholic priest of the Diocese of Richmond in Virginia is emerging as a man of courage and integrity within the ranks of the clergy. He has been willing to do what few clergy have been-that is speak truth to power.

In October 2008, he started a blog under his own name in an attempt to reach those who don’t go to church. However, the blog evolved and has delved into heretofore unchartered waters-a Catholic priest criticizing the bishops for mishandling the priest abuse crisis.

White closed his blog in November 2019, after his bishop ordered him to do so. But after the COVID-19 pandemic led to the cancellation of Masses with the faithful, he decided to resume blogging, as a way to stay in communication with his parishioners. Bishop Barry C. Knestout, the head of the Diocese of Richmond and White’s immediate superior, didn’t care for the criticism and ordered the priest to stop writing negative pieces about the church.

But after the COVID-19 pandemic led to the cancellation of Masses with the faithful, he decided to resume blogging, as a way to stay in communication with his parishioners.

His decision to challenge his bishop’s order, however, meant that on Monday he lost his job as pastor of two parishes in Martinsville and Rocky Mount: Bishop Barry C. Knestout sent a letter to White’s parishioners communicating the decision, and then the priest received an email himself.

Despite April Being Child Abuse Prevention Month, Michigan Supreme Court Refuses to Hear Sexual Assault Case

Ven Johnson Law via Iosco County News-Herald

April 23, 2020

Detroit - Earlier this week, the Michigan Supreme Court declined to hear an appeal in a negligence lawsuit against the Catholic Diocese of Grand Rapids (Catholic Diocese). The lawsuit accuses the Catholic Diocese of negligence in the sexual abuse of a then 15-year-old male student, Brandon Bowman, who was repeatedly sexually assaulted by his then 34-year-old female teacher, Abigail Simon.

Over three months in 2013, Simon sexually assaulted Bowman on multiple occasions. Simon was assigned by her employer, Grand Rapids Catholic Central High School/Catholic Diocese of Grand Rapids, to tutor Bowman in order for him to remain eligible to play high school sports. Later that year, Simon was arrested for criminal sexual conduct (CSC), stood trial in 2014, and was convicted of CSC and sentenced to eight to 25 years in prison, a sentence she is currently serving.

In 2015, Bowman filed a civil suit against the Catholic Diocese and claimed it responsible for the assaults due to the negligent hiring of Simon and in the lack of appropriate supervising of her.

Discovery in the civil lawsuit uncovered that multiple teachers and administrators expressed concerns about Simon's behavior with young men who she was tutoring. One teacher reported the following statements to the school principal.

Former Scout leader jailed for 31 years for decades of child sex abuse

Sydney Morning Herald

April 23, 2020

By Georgina Mitchell

A former Scout leader has been jailed for a maximum of 31 years and 6 months after he preyed upon young boys for more than two decades, sexually abusing nine children including a seven-year-old boy.

Mario Henry Aliverti, 61, assaulted six boys while he occupied leadership roles at a Scout group in south-west Sydney between 1985 and 1989. One boy was abused again by Aliverti in 1991.

Those boys, who were aged between 11 and 15, were subjected to a range of persistent assaults including being masturbated against their will, being touched indecently, and having Aliverti penetrate them, causing significant pain.

U. of Michigan facing more legal action over alleged abuse

Associated Press via Jacksonville Journal-Courier

April 24, 2020

By Larry Lage

A legal team that says it represents more than 100 people who allege they were abused by a deceased University of Michigan sports doctor on Friday announced the first step in filing a lawsuit against the school.

The Anderson Survivors Legal Team said it has filed 20-plus notices of intent to sue the Ann Arbor school, its board and Dr. Robert Anderson's estate. A lawsuit would be among an rising wave of legal action against the school, which is investigating allegations of decades of sexual abuse by Anderson.

“We have credible evidence that the University of Michigan received complaints regarding Dr. Anderson and failed to properly investigate, discipline and sanction Dr. Anderson for his abusive and harassing conduct," attorney John Manly said.

April 23, 2020

Priest who sought bishop's resignation requests leave from duties

Buffalo News

April 22, 2020

By Jay Tokasz

A Buffalo Diocese priest who campaigned for Bishop Richard J. Malone to resign because of a clergy sex abuse scandal is stepping down as pastor of one of the diocese’s largest parishes.

The Rev. Robert W. Zilliox announced in an email to parishioners Wednesday morning that he will leave on May 1 as pastor of St. Mary Church in Swormville. Zilliox said he asked Bishop Edward B. Scharfenberger for relief from his pastoral responsibilities so he could take a sabbatical.

“After much prayer and discernment,” Zilliox said in his email, “I have come to the realization that it is now time for me to step back and rest for a time in order to tend to my own personal spiritual and emotional needs.”

Zilliox emphasized in a text message to The Buffalo News that the move was by his request and was not a punishment from Scharfenberger. He said he was too busy with parish business to immediately comment further.

A spokesman for the diocese said Zilliox has Scharfenberger’s “prayers and full support” to take a break from his pastoral work.

Zilliox was among a handful of clergy who criticized Malone’s handling of a clergy sexual abuse scandal that began unfolding in the Buffalo Diocese more than two years ago. Malone resigned in 2019, a few months after Zilliox circulated a letter among clergy calling for the bishop to step down and a poll by The Buffalo News revealed that nearly 86% of area Catholics wanted him to go.

Pope Francis appointed Scharfenberger, bishop of the Albany Diocese, to replace Malone. Scharfenberger is serving as apostolic administrator in Buffalo until a new bishop is named.

Malone assigned Zilliox in 2018 to St. Mary's to replace the Rev. Robert Yetter, who resigned as the longtime pastor after being accused of making unwanted sexual advances on two adult men, including one who said the priest tried to kiss him and grab his groin area. Documents leaked to WKBW-TV showed that Malone initially had kept Yetter in ministry despite the allegations against the priest. The documents also showed that Malone allowed another priest, the Rev. Arthur Smith, to remain in ministry despite warnings from an elementary principal that Smith displayed inappropriate behavior around a child.

The revelations outraged many members of the parish of 2,800 families and prompted Paul L. Snyder II, a parish deacon and prominent area businessman, to call for Malone’s resignation.

Both Zilliox and Snyder criticized Malone in interviews on the CBS news magazine show “60 Minutes.” Zilliox had worked in the chancery as the diocese’s canon lawyer prior to his appointment at St. Mary’s.

At the time the “60 Minutes” episode aired, Zilliox revealed to his congregation that a priest had sexually abused him nearly 40 years ago. He did not immediately name the priest, but later told The News that the Rev. Gerald A. Smyczynski molested him when he was a 13-year-old parishioner at St. Barnabas Church in Cheektowaga.

Colorado’s priest abuse reparations program has paid more than $3 million to 28 victims so far

Colorado Sun

April 22, 2020

By Jennifer Brown

The program, which was announced in October, stems from a massive review of church files that revealed abuses of 166 children going back decades.

The Catholic Church so far has paid more than $3 million to 28 victims of priest abuse in Colorado as part of a review of claims by an independent committee.

The work of the oversight committee is ongoing, but its leaders announced Wednesday that they have received claims from 91 victims of abuse by priests who worked in one of Colorado’s three dioceses.

The Independent Reconciliation and Reparations Program, which began in October, is run by Kenneth Feinberg and Camille Biros, who handled similar compensation programs for priest abuse victims in New York, New Jersey, California and Pennsylvania. The three dioceses in Colorado — Denver, Colorado Springs and Pueblo — agreed when the program was announced to abide by the administrators’ compensation determinations.

The paid claims include at least one from each of the dioceses, program spokeswoman Amy Weiss said.

The reparations program comes after a massive review of the church’s files by an independent investigator.

Bishop Guertin teacher abuse lawsuit bumped due to COVID-19 precautions

Ink Link

April 21, 2020

By Damien Fisher

Nashua - The lawsuit alleging the religious order that operates Nashua’s Bishop Guertin High School knew about a teacher’s history of sexual abuse is not going forward as scheduled.

The lawsuit brought by a former student against Bishop Guertin High School and the Brothers of the Sacred Heart Order was set for a jury selection earlier this month in the Hillsborough Superior Court – South, but it was recently reset to Sept. 21 due to the COVID-19 precautions.

The former student, now an adult living in New York, claims that Bishop Guertin teacher, Brother Shawn McEnany, sexually assaulted her when she was a student during the 1990s.

According to the lawsuit, McEnany was convicted in 1988 of sexually assaulting a 15-year-old girl when he was a teacher at the St. Dominic Regional High School in Lewiston, Maine. St. Dominic was also owned and operated by the Brothers of the Sacred Heart. As a result of that conviction, McEnany was required to register as a sexual offender and he was barred from teaching in Maine, according to the lawsuit. In 1990, Bishop Guertin hired McEnany to be a teacher in Nashua.

According to the lawsuit, school officials knew about McEnany’s conviction and hired him anyway.

New Pell probe puts release of sex abuse royal commission redactions on hold

The Australian

April 23, 2020

By John Ferguson

Victorian authorities are still weighing up whether to support the release of redacted child sex abuse royal commission com­men­tary about Cardinal George Pell.

The federal Attorney-General, Christian Porter, has written to the Andrews government to determine whether it is now possible to release dozens of pages of the final abuse report, which includes commentary on Cardinal Pell.

Mr Porter wrote to Victorian authorities last week seeking clarification from the government and investigators about whether the commission redactions could now safely be made public.

The letter was sent after a ­Herald Sun report suggested another complainant had emerged whose story was being examined by ­Victoria Police.

The Australian understands the Andrews government favours a quick release of the redactions, but police are yet to formally state whether this should happen.

Premier Dan Andrews spoke to Scott Morrison soon after the High Court quashed Cardinal Pell’s five sex convictions and freed him from Barwon Prison, where he finished the last of his 405 days in solitary confinement.

Mr Andrews called for the royal commission commentary to be released. It is understood Mr Porter’s letter was sent to ­Victorian Attorney-General Jill Hennessy last week, and she will have to give the go-ahead.

The Premier’s strident call for the royal commission comment­ary to be released underpins where the government’s position is on the matter. The only stumb­ling block would be if police and prosecutors believed the release of the information could harm any future possible court action.

The Australian is not suggesting Cardinal Pell will be charged and police have refused to say if they are investi­gating the cardinal. It was reported that a complainant had emerged and spoken to police about events in the 1970s.

Witness J, former choirboy who accused George Pell, says case 'does not define me'


April 8, 2020

[This article includes the full text of Witness J's statement and a video interview with Vivian Waller, his lawyer.]

The former choirboy who accused George Pell of abusing him in the 1990s says he hopes the High Court's unanimous acquittal of the Cardinal does not discourage survivors from reporting abuse.

In a statement issued this morning, Witness J said he respected and accepted the court's decision and thanked police for their work:

I respect the decision of the High Court. I accept the outcome.

I understand their view that there was not enough evidence to satisfy the court beyond all reasonable doubt that the offending occurred.

I understand that the High Court is saying that the prosecution did not make out the case to the required standards of proof.

There are a lot of checks and balances in the criminal justice system and the appeal process is one of them. I respect that.

It is difficult in child sexual abuse matters to satisfy a criminal court that the offending has occurred beyond the shadow of a doubt.

It is a very high standard to meet — a heavy burden.

I understand why criminal cases must be proven beyond all reasonable doubt.

No-one wants to live in a society where people can be imprisoned without due and proper process.

This is a basic civil liberty. But the price we pay for weighting the system in favour of the accused is that many sexual offences against children go unpunished.

That's why it remains important that everyone who can report to the police does so.

I would hate to think that one outcome of this case is that people are discouraged from reporting to the police.

I would like to reassure child sexual abuse survivors that most people recognise the truth when they hear it.

They know the truth when they look it in the face. I am content with that.

I would like to thank the police and the Office of Public Prosecutions for their work. I have felt well supported through this journey.

My journey has been long and I am relieved it is over. I have my ups and downs. The darkness is never far away.

Despite the stress of the legal process and public controversy I have tried hard to keep myself together. I am OK. I hope that everyone who has followed this case is OK.

I thank the media for respecting my privacy and for continuing to protect my identity. This has allowed me to stay on track with my recovery and wellbeing.

This case does not define me. I am a man who came forward for my friend who, sadly, is no longer with us.

I am a man doing my best to be a loving dad, partner, son, brother and friend.

I am doing my best to find and hold joy in my life and to provide a safe and loving home for my family.

Amish bishop charged with failing to report child sexual abuse

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

April 22, 2020

By Peter Smith

An Amish bishop in Lancaster County was arraigned Wednesday on charges of failing to report to law-enforcement authorities that a church member allegedly confessed to sexually assaulting three girls.

Pequea Township police allege that Levi S. Esh Sr., 63, failed to report a church member’s confessed sexual assaults on three girls around 2012 and 2013.

Police cite witnesses from within the Amish community who said while Mr. Esh’s church excommunicated the alleged perpetrator, he only had the matter “handled internally” in order to keep the incident quiet. When two congregants raised concerns about the case in October 2019, they told police that Mr. Esh said “it’s been taken care of, and it’s none of your business.”

Mr. Esh faces felony and misdemeanor charges of failing to report or refer a case of suspected child abuse to authorities.

The Post-Gazette reported in its “Coverings” series in 2019 that Amish and Mennonite elders, part of the self-described Plain church tradition, have often treated sexual abuse allegations as sins to be dealt with through internal church discipline rather than as crimes, and that victims are often pressured to reconcile with abusers who make a profession of repentance.

This is the first case in at least recent memory in which a Plain church leader is charged for failing to report child abuse in Lancaster County — home to the world’s largest Amish population.

But other cases have arisen in Pennsylvania. In 2019, a Mennonite pastor was convicted in Huntingdon County of endangering the welfare of children for preventing or interfering with the reporting of child abuse. In 2017, an Amish bishop in Dauphin County was convicted for failing to report suspected child abuse. Both received probation.

Amish bishop charged with failing to report sexual abuse claims

Lancaster Online

April 22, 2020

By Dan Nephin

In what appears to be the first such case of its kind in Lancaster County, an Amish bishop has been charged with failing to report suspected sexual abuse.

Levi S. Esh Sr. 63, of Pequea, was charged Tuesday with one felony and one misdemeanor count of failure to report to appropriate authorities.

According to charging documents, in late October 2019, two concerned members of the Amish community met with Esh on one occasion, and another occasion, Esh and other Amish leaders about sexual abuse.

“They were told once, ‘It’s been taken care of and it’s none of your business’ and then at the second meeting, ‘We aren’t talking about it’ and ‘it’s none of your business let it go,’” the documents said.

The members then went to police.

The underlying matter concerned John G. Beiler, 41, of Providence Township, who was recently charged with sexually assaulting three girls several times between 2011 and 2015. The girls were between 12 and 14 years old at the time.

According to court documents, Beiler confessed to church leaders to abusing the girls and was told to confess to the girls’ father. Beiler was then excommunicated and Esh told the girls’ father that church leaders were keeping a close eye on Beiler.

DC priest describes a culture of cover-up in wake of McCarrick scandal

Religion News Service

April 22, 2020

By Claire Giangravé

Vatican City - In early February, the second-highest-ranking prelate in the Vatican told news outlets that a long-awaited report into the ascent of disgraced former Cardinal Theodore McCarrick would be published in the “near future.”

[Photo caption:] Former Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, left, then the archbishop of Washington, confers the chalice during the ordination of Mark White in 2003.

In 2018, Pope Francis ordered that the Vatican investigate all of the documentation it had collected over the years regarding McCarrick, including data gathered in the dioceses of New York; Metuchen and Newark, New Jersey; and Washington, D.C., where he had served.

Almost three months after the February announcement, the report has still not seen the light of day.

A previous Vatican investigation found McCarrick guilty of sexual abuse against minors and seminarians and laicized him, stripping him of his red hat and removing him from the priesthood. McCarrick, who was once the most influential figure in U.S. Catholicism, is now a recluse and has vehemently denied the accusations made against him.

Many remain eager to see the forthcoming report, especially those who knew or were influenced by McCarrick, who is accused of using his position as a cardinal and Vatican liaison to sexually abuse seminarians and even underage boys.

For the Rev. Mark White, 49, born and raised in Washington, D.C., the revelations surrounding McCarrick that emerged in late 2017 struck him “like a punch deep in the gut.”

Born to a Protestant family, White converted to Catholicism in college and immediately afterward entered the seminary to become a priest. In 2003, he was ordained to the priesthood by McCarrick – who was the archbishop of Washington from 2001-2006.

'A Gold Mine' of Abuse

Church Militant

April 23, 2020

SSPX: 'Sympathetic to Perverts.'

One of the tragedies among many resulting from the invasion of modernism into the Church — blossoming in the aftermath of the Second Vatican Council — is the reaction from some faithful Catholics.

Since it was the celebration of the Mass itself that was the most obvious change that occurred in the Church 50 years ago, many Catholics reacted by clinging ever more tightly to the Old Rite, the Traditional Latin Mass. Various groups sprung up that essentially placed all their eggs into the basket of the Traditional Latin Mass — the most notable probably the Society of St. Pius X, commonly known as the SSPX.

In 1988, concerned that the Society, dedicated to the ancient form, would die with his death, the leader, Abp. Marcel Lefebvre, disobeyed Pope John Paul II and illicitly consecrated four bishops who would carry on the work of the Society after his death. All were immediately excommunicated and their act deemed schismatic by John Paul.

In the intervening decades, the Society has dug in its heels, forming its own hierarchy, marriage tribunals, seminaries, chapels, schools, communities and administrative arms — none of which answer to the jurisdiction of Rome.

But at the heart of the Society is its devotion to the liturgy of the Traditional Latin Mass. And while the Society itself — strictly speaking — is only a society of priests and bishops, there is a sizable portion of laity who are adherents to the Traditional Latin Mass and the Society, almost to a fault. And herein, a serious problem has arisen.

In this structure, many of the SSPX laity who are unquestioning of their clergy would never demand accountability from them. That has created an environment within the Society itself where abusive clergy can easily take advantage of children, young males and women.

There have in fact been so many cases of abuse that the Society itself has been the target of a statewide criminal investigation in Kansas. The small community of St. Mary's Kansas, a main hub of the SSPX, is the focal point of investigators' probing.

Idaho court upholds ex-priest’s prison sentence

Associated Press via Lewiston Tribune

April 23, 2020

Boise - A former Boise priest convicted of possessing violent and extreme child pornography will be sentenced to 25 years imprisonment, an appellate court ruled.

William “Tom” Faucher, 74, was sentenced in December 2018 without the possibility of parole after pleading guilty to distribution of sexually exploitative material, possession of sexually exploitative materials and drug possession, the Idaho Statesman reported.

Faucher appealed the ruling, arguing that the sentence was excessive and that the court failed to look at multiple circumstances, including his age, physical and mental infirmities, his community support, his alcohol abuse and lack of criminal history.

The Idaho Court of Appeals disagreed, arguing the District Court considered those factors “at length.”

Faucher had more than 2,000 photos and videos depicting child sexual abuse on his computer and phone, prosecutors said, adding that there was evidence that he also had online conversations about wanting to rape and kill children.

Some of the evidence was simply Faucher engaging in role playing, his defense attorney said.

In October, the Roman Catholic Diocese of Boise announced Faucher was stripped of his priest title and banned from serving as a member of the clergy.

Faucher remains in custody at the Idaho State Correctional Center in Kuna.

April 22, 2020

Advocates continue pushing legislation for sex abuse survivors


April 20, 2020

By Cayla Harris

Activists had hoped that the state Legislature would take up at least two bills supporting survivors of sexual abuse this legislative session, but with an uncertain schedule amid a pandemic, they worry the measures will be left on the backburner.

Survivors of sexual abuse and members of the advocacy group Safe Horizon hosted a press call on Monday urging legislators to resume session and pass the Adult Survivors Act. The measure – like the Child Victims Act that went into effect in August – would open a one-year look-back period for adult victims to pursue previously time-barred lawsuits against their alleged abusers.

“If and when someone chooses to come forward, their pathway to justice should not be time-barred or limited to results from a fraught criminal justice system,” said Marissa Hoechstetter, a survivor of sexual assault. “Lawmakers must stay in remote session and provide all survivors a chance to access justice on our own terms.”

Safe Horizon has also hosted several press conferences pushing for an extension of the Child Victims Act’s look-back window, which will expire this summer. More than 1,800 cases have been filed since the period opened in August, but many survivors whose alleged abusers are not linked to well-known institutions have reported challenges finding lawyers.

Remaining Unsettled


April 21, 2020

By Massimo Faggioli

Pell’s Acquittal Won’t End the Church’s Culture Wars

In setting aside the guilty verdict against Cardinal George Pell on sexual-assault charges, Australia’s High Court effectively concluded the criminal-justice aspect of a case that has consumed the nation and the Catholic Church for years. But the April 7 ruling doesn’t really settle anything in the relationship between the church and the Australian state, nor is it likely to resolve the clash between the different “kinds” of Catholicism in Australia and elsewhere. In fact, the decision will probably keep the contentious debates alive, perhaps for a long time to come.

Pell had been charged with assaulting two thirteen-year-old boys in the sacristy of St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Melbourne in 1996. From the beginning, there was nothing normal about the way the proceedings against him unfolded. The first trial ended in a hung jury. In a second trial, he was found guilty by unanimous ruling. Then, in an appeal heard by three judges, two found him guilty while the third, Justice Mark Weinberg, dissented in a lengthy 204-page opinion. Meanwhile, a “suppression order” applying to cases involving sexual abuse resulted in what amounted to secret trials that in countries like the United States would be considered unconstitutional. The proceedings were kept under wraps from the public as they happened, and only a handful of people were permitted to hear testimony. The media was not allowed to report on the details of the trials until the verdicts were publicly announced.

Now Pell has been acquitted. In their unanimous ruling, the seven High Court judges pointed to egregious mistakes in the police investigation, and legal errors in the decisions of previous courts. But that does not mean the cardinal has been found innocent. Australia’s High Court can’t declare guilt or innocence; it issues decisions based only on the rules of evidence, and in the case of Pell, it found insufficient evidence to support the guilty verdict.

Pell in purgatory

Inside Story

April 13, 2020

By Jeremy Gans

If the High Court is right about the evidence on timing, what went wrong during the prosecution and hearings?

When George Pell’s jury announced its verdict at 3.45pm on Tuesday 11 December 2018, just one thing was certain about his case: it would end in the High Court of Australia. Pell was always going to appeal any finding of guilt to Victoria’s Court of Appeal and whoever lost there (Pell again, in the event) was always going to turn to Canberra for redress.

How the national court would finish the case was another matter. It could have ended with a whimper, with Pell’s name appearing in an online list of special leave applications with the word “dismissed” next to it. Or it could have ended with a bang, with Australia’s top judges deciding the case for themselves. At 10am last Tuesday, the latter happened, when seven justices swept away earlier decisions by twelve jurors and three judges.

Fourteen months ago, when news of Pell’s guilty verdict belatedly broke, many observers studiously ignored the High Court’s looming role. His critics relished calling Australia’s top Catholic a “convicted paedophile.” Victoria’s premier chastised a former prime minister for visiting him in prison. But Pell’s accuser always knew better: “Everything is overshadowed by the forthcoming appeal.”

Something of the reverse happened last Tuesday, when the High Court revealed what most who attended its Canberra hearing last month already knew: Australia’s cardinal would again be the nation’s biggest story. As Pell was driven from his locked-down prison into a locked-down city, his supporters relished saying that he had been found “innocent.” “Let us #PrayTogether today,” tweeted the Pope for Lent, before garbling a prayer “for all those persons who suffer due to an unjust sentence because of someone had it in for them.” The premier refused to “comment” on the decision, telling “every” victim, “I believe you.”

But Pell’s guilt or innocence on the charges against him has never changed and never will. He did not become less guilty last Tuesday. Nor did he become less innocent on that other Tuesday in 2018. He has been either guilty or innocent of the rape of two children for the past twenty-three years and will remain so forever. No court ruling — or punditry or politics — can alter what actually happened in St Patrick’s Cathedral during six short — or agonisingly long — minutes after a Sunday mass in mid December 1996.

Instead, the proceedings against Pell have always been about how the courts — and the rest of us — will respond to the claim made against him. For the courts, the sole issue is whether Pell’s prosecutors were able to prove beyond reasonable doubt what happened in 1996. In 2018, the jury unanimously decided that the prosecution had proved what happened, which is why Pell spent most of 2019 in Barwon Prison. Last Tuesday, the High Court unanimously decided that it hadn’t, which is why Pell will spend most of 2020 in Sydney.

62 Nevada community agencies awarded $20 million in Victims of Crime Act grant funding

Carson Now

April 20, 2020

By Jeff Munson

The Division of Child and Family Services on Monday announced 62 agencies, including 5 new agencies, will be awarded the annual Victims of Crime Act Assistance Formula Grant funding for the 2021 State Fiscal Year (SFY21) totaling $20 million.

$1.1 million in innovative funding was awarded to 13 agencies that will provide services to targeted projects and programs aimed to serve victims of crime who are homeless, to prevent Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children (CSEC), to assist when children are secondary victims of domestic violence and to bring telehealth services for victims of crime in rural areas of Nevada.

“We are happy to be able to award these funds to the dedicated service providers who stand ready to help Nevadans,” stated Ross Armstrong, Administrator of DCFS. “It is our hope that through focused innovative awards we’ll continue to enhance Nevada’s Victims of Crime system.”

The VOCA Assistance Formula Grant supports thousands of victim assistance programs throughout the nation each year. The states awarded the grant provide subgrants to local community-based organizations and public agencies who serve victims directly. Direct assistance to crime victims includes crisis counseling, telephone and on-site information and referrals, criminal justice support and advocacy, shelter, therapy, and additional assistance. Funds may also be used to develop new programs that address emerging needs, gaps in services, and training of victim service advocates.

In addition to the $1.1 million allocated to innovative services, $18.9 million will be used for traditional services and it is estimated that more than 118,000 survivors will be served through these programs.

Under the VOCA Program Guidelines, funding priority is given to programs serving victims of sexual assault, domestic violence, and child abuse. Ten percent of the total funding must be allocated to victims of violent or property crime, or victims who are "previously underserved," which indicates that the particular victim population historically or currently has not had access to or been provided with specialized or adequate services.

Parishioners stand by priest after bishop prohibits him from sharing opinion online

ABC 13 News WSET

April 19, 2020

By Kaicey Baylor

Martinsville - Parishioners at St. Joseph Catholic Church in Martinsville and St. Francis of Assisi in Rocky Mount say their priest Father Mark White did nothing wrong.

"He deserves justice," said Joe Kernan, a member at St Joseph Catholic Church. "He deserves not to be mistreated."

Church members are disappointed in the Bishop's decision to remove their priest.

Joe Graf with St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church says Father White used his blog again as a way to reach out to his congregations during the pandemic.

"They were a very good way for communicating to us," said Graf.

Richard Long, a member of St. Francis of Assisi says the bishop appeared at the mass yesterday unexpectedly.

Letter to the Editor: Bishop's comments were inappropriate

Martinsville Bulletin

April 17, 2020

By Teresa Biggs


I find the publication of Bishop's Barry Knestout's letter noting a number of issues regarding the pastor St. Joseph Catholic Church, Father Mark White, to be very inappropriate ("My case against Father Mark White's blog," March 22). As a shepherd, the bishop knows he should be a point of care and compassion. He has forever eliminated that concept from his charge, where he swore to uphold.

His comments should have been kept private and only in a setting of love. The fact that none were correct seems to be a minor matter in this series of events.

As a lifelong Catholic and as a member of St. Joseph, I ask for forgiveness from my many Protestant friends that they had to “listen” to our pastor being so belligerently described.

Bisbee man confesses he's molesting his daughter. Church tells bishop not to report abuse to authorities

Arizona Republic

April 21, 2020

By Mary Jo Pitzl


When a Bisbee man told his Mormon bishop he was sexually abusing his own five-year-old daughter, the bishop provided counseling. He involved the man’s wife in the sessions, apparently hoping that knowledge of her husband’s activities would prompt her to keep their children safe.

What the bishop didn’t do was report the abuse to police. He didn’t have to. Although Arizona law classifies clergy, as well as many others, as mandatory reporters of child abuse, there is an exception for clergy to not report if they believe it is “reasonable and necessary within the concepts of the religion.”

The bishop’s counseling sessions apparently had little effect. The man continued to molest his daughter, and later, after her birth in 2015, his infant daughter. He made videos of the encounters and posted them on pornographic websites, which were eventually discovered by Interpol, reported to his employer, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, and led to criminal charges.

Arizona’s mandatory-reporting law requires clergy, among many others, to contact law enforcement or child-welfare officials when they suspect child abuse.

But the law also allows clergy to not report if they are told of the abuse in confidence or during a confession. In those cases, state law says, clergy may withhold a report if the clergy member feels it is “reasonable and necessary within the concepts of the religion.”

Thirty-two states besides Arizona have such exemptions, commonly called the "clergy-penitent privilege." They are a necessary protection of the First Amendment guarantee of religious freedom from government dictates, say attorneys who have represented religious institutions.

Monica Doumit: True import of the Pell case

Catholic Weekly - Archdiocese of Sydney

April 22, 2020

By Monica Doumit

High Court decision was vital to more than one person

In light of the quashing of the conviction of Cardinal George Pell by a unanimous decision of the High Court of Australia, I was approached by a certain national broadcaster for an interview. They wanted me to provide some commentary on what the decision meant for Catholics in Australia.

The interview didn’t end up going ahead, but I still had the opportunity to reflect on the question. Without wanting to be rude, the conclusion I came to is that the final ruling of the High Court wasn’t nearly as significant for Catholics as I had expected.

Don’t get me wrong. I love Cardinal Pell. I am thrilled that the High Court saw what so many others did: that the allegations against him were simply implausible given the ample unchallenged evidence in his favour, that the judges wrote a decisive, joint decision that confirmed that a jury – acting rationally – ought to have doubted his guilt, and that they ordered his immediate release. And I am grateful he is now free.

But as I reflected on what the decision meant for Catholics in Australia, I don’t think it meant that much at all. Whatever the outcome of the case, the position of Catholics in Australia was always going to remain the same.

Obituary: Deacon Ernest Formichelli


April 11, 2020

Ernest “Ernie” Formichelli, 67, passed away Saturday, April 11, 2020, following a one-year battle with cancer.

Ernie was born August 22, 1952, in Youngstown, the son of Peter and Irene Leone Formichelli.

He was a 1970 graduate of Cardinal Mooney High School and in 1976, he graduated from Youngstown State University with a Bachelor of Science degree in Education.

“Mr. Form” began his career as an educator in 1976 at Cardinal Mooney High School, where he was the chairman of the History Department. During his 36 years at Cardinal Mooney, “Form” coached freshman football and tennis. A countless number of those student athletes earned local and state honors during his tenure. Coach Formichelli was instrumental in the growth of the tennis program at Cardinal Mooney. After many years of utilizing Mill Creek MetroParks tennis facilities as a home court, “Coach Form” served as the driving force in raising private funds for the construction of the school’s own tennis facilities.

April 21, 2020

Archdiocese of Chicago reaches $2.1 million settlement in lawsuit claiming 7-year-old girl abused at church camp

Chicago Tribune

April 20, 2020

By Javonte Anderson


The Archdiocese of Chicago has agreed to pay a $2.1 million settlement in a lawsuit that alleged a 7-year-old girl was sexually assaulted at a Catholic church camp in 2015, according to a news release from the law firm representing the girl.

The law firm, Romanucci & Blandin, did not name the camp where the abuse occurred, but a spokesman said it happened at a church in suburban Cook County.

The girl, who is now 12, was repeatedly abused by a camp counselor at the church, playground and in a classroom, according to Antonio Romanucci, one of the girl’s attorneys.

The girl told a teacher about what happened, and the teacher notified the girl’s father, according to the release.

“When the father confronted the priest and church leaders, they discouraged the father from calling police, saying the allegations would ruin the girl’s reputation and negatively impact attendance at the church,” Romanucci said in the release.

The archdiocese declined to comment.

The counselor who the girl said abused her had a “suspected history” of mental health concerns, according to the release.

“The church leaders involved had knowledge that this man should not be responsible for young girls, and chose to look the other way,” said Martin Gould, another of the girl’s attorneys.

The settlement comes as the archdiocese is facing financial pressure from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Chicago archdiocese settles suit in 2015 abuse of 7-year-old

Associated Press

April 21, 2020

The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Chicago has settled a lawsuit that alleged a 7-year-old girl was sexually assaulted at a church camp in 2015, an attorney for the girl announced Monday.

Attorney Antonio Romanucci in a news release release did not name the camp where the alleged assault took place. However, he said the girl, now 12, was repeatedly abused by a camp counselor in multiple locations at a suburban Chicago church.

The girl told a teacher about the assault, who notified the girl’s father. According to Romanucci, the archdiocese discouraged the father from calling police, contending the allegations would ruin the girl’s reputation and hurt attendance at the church.

A spokesperson for the archdiocese declined to comment on the case.

Romanucci asserted the unidentified counselor who the girl accused of abusing her had aroused suspicions about his mental health. It wasn’t immediately known if charges were filed in the case.

"The church leaders involved had knowledge that this man should not be responsible for young girls,” said Martin Gould, another attorney representing the girl.

Romanucci said the case reflected ``continued negligence by church leaders.”

Danbury clergy sexual abuse case pushed to June

Connecticut Post

April 20, 2020

By Kendra Baker

Danbury - The pre-trial hearing of the former local priest accused of sexually assaulting two boys has been rescheduled from April 24 to June 19.

Jaime Marin-Cardona, 51, is charged with three counts of fourth-degree sexual assault, three counts of risk of injury to child and three counts of illegal sexual contact. He pleaded not guilty to all nine charges.

The warrant for Marin-Cardona’s arrest alleges that he groomed two boys over the course of four years, and sexually abused one of them over the same period of time.

The alleged abuse began in 2014 — the same year Marin-Cardona became a priest at Our Lady of Guadalupe Church on Golden Hill Road.

He was placed on administrative leave Dec. 11, after the Diocese of Bridgeport’s Sexual Misconduct Review Board learned that the state Department of Children and Families had substantiated allegations of abuse against him.

The Columbia native’s most recent service was at Saint Mary Parish in Bridgeport, according to Bishop Frank J. Caggiano of the Catholic Diocese of Bridgeport.

Marin-Cardona was released on $500,000 bond, with conditions, last month. The conditions of his release include wearing a tracking device and comply with protective orders.

Series on lack of law enforcement throughout rural Alaska wins 2020 Al Nakkula Award

University of Colorado

April 16, 2020

What happens when communities lack law enforcement?

For many of us, this may seem like a theoretical question. But through reporting based on hundreds of public records requests and interviews, Anchorage Daily News Special Projects Editor Kyle Hopkins found that one in three Alaskan communities have no law enforcement of any kind.

(Loren Holmes / Anchorage Daily News)Hopkins’ three-part investigative series “Lawless”––produced in a partnership between the Daily News and ProPublica’s Local Reporting Network––is the winner of this year’s Al Nakkula Award for police reporting, co-sponsored by the Denver Press Club and the University of Colorado Boulder's College of Media, Communication and Information.

In addition, the judges give special mention to a collaboration with Marquette University’s Public Service Journalism O’Brien Fellowship and the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that produced the series, “Unsolved: The Devil You Know.” Through both a podcast and written series, Journal Sentinel Criminal Justice Reporter Gina Barton investigated the cold case of Father Alfred Kunz, who was murdered in a rural Wisconsin town in 1998.

“Like the ProPublica assistance, such partnerships, similar to the one that produced last year’s Nakkula winner, help illustrate how outside groups with a desire to help local journalists play an increasingly important role in doing important work for local communities during these challenging times for local newsrooms,” Plunkett says.

New Vice-Prefect for Vatican Apostolic Library

Vatican News

April 20, 2020

The Holy Father has appointed as deputy prefect of the Vatican Apostolic Library the distinguished Dr. Timothy James Janz, scriptor graecus and director of the Printed Books Department of the Vatican Apostolic Library.

Dr. Timothy James Janz was born in Basle on 1 April 1966. He carried out his classical studies at the University of Laval, Québec, Canada, and was subsequently awarded a degree in classic Greek literature from the La Sorbonne University of Paris and a doctorate in classics from the University of Oxford.

He entered the Vatican Apostolic Library as deputy assistant, and has published numerous articles, monographs, contributions and reviews both on the Greek tradition of the Bible, the Septuagint, and on classic Greek texts and the catalogue of Greek manuscripts of the Vatican Apostolic Library.

In addition, he has collaborated on various projects in the same Library, and was gradually promoted until he was appointed as Scriptor graecus in 2011, and director of the Printed Books Department in 2016.

He is a member of the Board of the Library.

Forget video games; ‘Pope Simulator’ already the Church’s favorite pastime


April 20, 2020

By John L. Allen Jr.

Rome - Recently Inés San Martín of Crux brought to my attention a notice in PC Gamer about a Polish software developer who’s announced a new computer game called “Pope Simulator.” Apparently it opens with a conclave in which the player is elected pope, and then presents various scenarios that require decisions.

“Our idea assumes the possibility to use, among others, the pope’s so-called ‘soft power,’ and consequently influence the fate of the world and interfere in international politics,” Ultimate Games CEO Mateusz Zawadzki said announcing the game.

A spokesman for Ultimate Games told me they’ve spent about $72,000 developing the game and that they haven’t set a price yet for it, which is projected to launch in 2021 for PCs and later on consoles such as Xbox and PlayStation, but probably the price tag will be in the range of $9 to $19.

I got a laugh, because my experience over more than 20 years is that a free version of “Pope Simulator” - admittedly without a slick graphics interface - is already the favorite indoor sport of the Catholic Church, and has been ever since I can remember.

Almost every Catholic, it seems, has an opinion about what the pope should do or not do. Especially in the social media age, folks also have ready platforms for expressing those opinions. In addition to reporting on the actual pope, a lot of our time on the Vatican beat is spent covering potential “Pope Simulator” adepts with a following and a cause.

April 20, 2020

LA archdiocese to lead novena for sexual abuse healing

Catholic News Agency

April 17, 2020

Los Angeles - The Archdiocese of Los Angeles will lead nine days of prayer and reflection for healing from sexual abuse, from April 18-26.

“This novena is offered for those directly harmed by sexual abuse, both in and outside the church,” Heather Banis, Victims Assistance Ministry Coordinator for the archdiocese, said April 17.

“Together we will pray for healing of our Church and communities, as we struggle to understand, atone, restore and re-imagine our church, our schools, and our neighborhoods, in the wake of the scandals that dominate the news, particularly as Catholics.”

April is marked as Child Abuse Prevention Month in the United States. With much of the world under lockdown amid the coronavirus pandemic, domestic violence advocates and other groups are warning that lockdowns may make those vulnerable to abuse even more vulnerable.

Bishop Serratelli stepping down from Paterson Diocese, Brooklyn priest named as successor


April 15, 2020

By Abbott Koloff and Alex Nussbaum

A Brooklyn priest set to become the Diocese of Paterson's new bishop said Wednesday that he wants to reach out to people who feel estranged from the church and that he is eager to get started in his new job — though the coronavirus pandemic has pushed back his installation indefinitely.

Bishop-elect Kevin Sweeney was introduced during a video press conference Wednesday morning after the Vatican announced that it had accepted the resignation of the current bishop, Arthur J. Serratelli, who at 75 had reached the age of retirement.

Pope Francis has been promoting priests who reflect his views to positions of power in the church. Asked for his own thoughts on reaching out to gay Catholics and allowing Communion for people who have been divorced or don't accept all of the church's teachings, Sweeney, 51, didn't offer specifics. But he laid out a broad desire for a welcoming church.

Serratelli took over the diocese after Bishop Frank Rodimer's retirement in 2004 — a time of turmoil for the church in the aftermath of a child sex abuse scandal related to allegations of some church leaders covering up wrongdoing by priests.

Serratelli gained a reputation for upholding traditional Catholic values and called on those who didn't believe in all of the church's teachings to refrain from receiving Communion. That mirrored the leadership of former Archbishop John Myers in the Newark Archdiocese, where Serratelli served before moving to Paterson.

Cardinal Joseph Tobin, who was selected by Francis to take over from Myers in Newark, has made a point to reach out to people who have been on the margins of the church community, holding a meeting with gay Catholics shortly after he was installed.

Brooklyn Priest Named New Bishop of Paterson

The Tablet - Diocese of Brooklyn

April 15, 2020

By Christopher White

Pope Francis has named a Brooklyn priest, Father Kevin Sweeney, as the next bishop of Paterson, New Jersey.

Bishop-elect Sweeney, who is 50 years old, currently serves as the pastor of St. Michael’s parish in Sunset Park. He will become the eighth bishop of Paterson, succeeding Bishop Arthur Serratelli, who sent his resignation to Pope Francis last year when he reached the retirement age of 75.

The announcement of Father Sweeney’s new post was made by the Vatican and the apostolic nuncio to the United States, Archbishop Christophe Pierre, on April 15.

Father Sweeney is a native of Queens, New York where he grew up in the Whitestone neighborhood and was a member of St. Luke’s parish. From 1984-1988, he attended Cathedral Prep where he was an all-star player on the baseball team.

In 1997, Bishop Thomas Daily ordained Father Sweeney a priest for the Diocese of Brooklyn. He was assigned as parochial vicar to the parish of St. Nicholas of Tolentine in Jamaica, Queens and then to Our Lady of Sorrows in Corona, Queens.

In 2004, Bishop DiMarzio named Father Sweeney the Vocations Director of the Diocese of Brooklyn.

Paterson bishop retires; pope names Brooklyn priest as successor

Catholc News Service

April 15, 2020

Pope Francis has accepted the resignation of Bishop Arthur J. Serratelli of Paterson, New Jersey, and named Father Kevin J. Sweeney, a priest of the Diocese of Brooklyn, New York, as his successor.

Bishop Serratelli is 75, the age at which canon requires bishops to turn in their resignation to the pope. Bishop-designate Sweeney, 50, will be the eighth bishop of Paterson.

The resignation and appointment were announced in Washington April 15 by Archbishop Christophe Pierre, apostolic nuncio to the United States.

Brooklyn Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio issued a congratulatory statement about Bishop-designate Sullivan's appointment, saying, "I could not think of a better choice."

As a priest, he has served the diocese for 22 years, Bishop DiMarzio said, "and is an outstanding example of a parish priest. I know he is a man of prayer and is a zealous advocate of vocations to the priesthood."

Bishops and abuse

Toldeo Blade

April 18, 2020

A nationwide third-party reporting system is in place for sexual abuse-related complaints against bishops in the Catholic Church. The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops authorized the development of Catholic Bishop Abuse Reporting System in June, in response to Pope Francis' May Apostolic Letter Vos estis lux mundi addressing sexual abuse and bishop accountability.

The new reporting system is operated by Convercent, Inc., described as an independent, third-party entity responsible for transmitting confidential reports both to the Holy See and to the local metropolitan archbishop responsible for initially assessing reports. Cincinnati Archbishop Dennis Schnurr presides over Ohio, including the Diocese of Toledo.

The new system does not replace existing protocols for reporting complaints against priests, deacons religious or laity. Confidential report regarding a bishop can be submitted online at ReportBishopAbuse.org or by calling 800- 276-1562.

After Cardinal Pell's Rightful Acquittal

First Things

April 15, 2020

By George Weigel

The unanimous decision by Australia’s High Court to quash Cardinal George Pell’s convictions on charges of “historic sexual abuse” and acquit him of those crimes was entirely welcome. Truth and justice were served. An innocent man was freed from imprisonment. The criminal justice system in the State of Victoria was informed by Australia’s supreme judicial authority that it had gotten things badly wrong. The anti-Pell haters in the Australian media were reminded that their power has limits.

Yet there remains a lot to be reckoned with in the aftermath of this case, which bore all the tawdry hallmarks of a witch hunt.

Did the government-funded Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) collude with a corrupt Victoria police department in a sleazy attempt to dig up alleged crimes where none had been previously reported? Why did so weak a case ever come to trial, given compelling evidence that what was said to have happened simply could not have happened in the timeframe and circumstances alleged by the complainant? Why was the jury never informed that the complainant had a history of psychological problems? What effect did the lynch mob atmosphere in Victoria have on the hung jury in the cardinal’s first trial, and on the incomprehensible guilty verdict rendered by the jury in the retrial? Why was the cardinal forbidden to say Mass for over 400 days, even when in solitary confinement?

These are questions proper to Australia and should be examined by the public authorities there; a parliamentary inquiry into the behavior of ABC and the Victoria police seems the least that ought to be done. The Pell affair also has implications for other countries and for the world Church, as public officials and Catholic leaders continue to grapple with the societal-wide plague of the sexual abuse of the young.

Cardinal Pell and the Victorian criminal justice system

Catholic Weekly - Archdiocese of Sydney

April 20, 2020

By Fr Frank Brennan

Cardinal George Pell has been acquitted of all charges of child sexual abuse by Australia’s highest court – the High Court of Australia. In criminal cases, they usually sit only a bench of five judges. In Pell’s case, the full bench of seven sat. They knew the world was watching. They often write separate opinions. But in the case of Cardinal Pell they all put their name to one judgment. They unanimously upheld his appeal and in almost record time.

At the appeal, the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) for the State of Victoria where Pell was charged appeared in person. She submitted to the court that if the judges were minded to uphold the appeal, they should at least refer the matter back to the Victorian state court for final determination. All seven High Court judges described that submission with one word: ‘specious’. This highlights why the Pell trial needs some background legal context to be readily understood by readers who have not been closely following parliamentary inquiries, court cases and royal commissions in Victoria.

Readers need to understand that all is not well with the system of criminal justice in Victoria. Cardinal Pell has been a major casualty in this clash and decline of institutions. The unsuspecting complainant who brought the case against him has had to suffer untold additional trauma because of the shortcomings of the Victoria Police and the office of Public Prosecutions.

Some background is needed. In Victoria, there is a long running royal commission investigating how the Victoria Police came to enlist a defence barrister as a human source to inform on her own clients. In the area of criminal justice, the abuse of process does not get much worse. It’s estimated that this gross abuse by the Victoria police brings into question about 1300 convictions, including some of the most awful criminals in the state. One of the key persons with involvement in this perverse police operation was Graham Ashton who is now the Victorian Police Commissioner.

Both George Pell and the facts are victims of ‘left-right’ culture wars

The Australian

April 20, 2020

By Chris Mitchell

The police and media campaign against him was part of the culture wars, Cardinal George Pell told Sky News’s Andrew Bolt last Tuesday. He is correct.

Policing and journalism were once dominated by Catholics, partly because both were open to people from lower socio-economic backgrounds. That has changed as more women with excellent university results have joined the media and editors have hired specialist reporters from the law, finance and accounting fields.

Jack The Insider, this digital site’s Peter Hoysted, has written here and in his book, Unholy Trinity: The hunt for pedophile priest Monsignor John Day, about the history of Victoria Police protecting pedophile priests. The Age’s crime-writing doyen, John Silvester, has made the same point.

Discussing the High Court’s 7-0 quashing of Pell’s conviction, Silvester wrote on April 7: “The police record on these cases is ­lamentable. For many years, ­rather than do their job, there was a key group of senior police who ­actively sabotaged prosecutions against priests.”

In the media, there was a long tradition of ignoring such stories. Last week, this column discussed a seven-year series about pedophilia by priests, brothers and politicians published by Brisbane’s The ­Courier-Mail from the mid-1990s. These stories culminated in lengthy jail sentences for abusers, and school and church payouts to victims upwards of $100m.

Cardinal George Pell convicted for a lacklustre display of empathy

The Australian

April 18, 2020

By Angela Shanahan

Only a week after being exonerated by the High Court, Cardinal George Pell is now, we are told, the subject of yet another historic sexual assault accusation by a new accuser. This “news” was leaked to the Herald Sun, pre-empting Andrew Bolt’s revealing interview with the cardinal that finally made clear to the public, who were not aware of proceedings at the trial, that despite many witnesses providing contrary evidence, the cardinal was condemned by the word of just one accuser.

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews reiterated the “we believe you” mantra. Child protection campaigner Hetty Johnston made it clear in an interview with Chris Kenny on the day of the High Court verdict that in child sexual assault cases, campaigners want the onus of proof shifted so that we begin from a point of belief in the “victim”. Children don’t lie, she says. But Pell’s was an adult accuser. He might have been sexually molested at some stage in his life, or he might not.

There is another recent case against a high-ranking prelate that illustrates this point. Max Davis is the Catholic Bishop of the Australian Defence Force. He has had a long, distinguished career and is well thought of by ordinary soldiers, particularly as he has been to various areas of deployment, including the base at Tarin Kowt in Afghanistan.

However, in June 2014, Davis was charged with having indecently assaulted a 13-year-old boy in 1969. The one com­plain­ant was followed by more and eventually there were six counts related to the period between December 1968 and October 1972. Davis had been a young teacher and a dorm master at St Benedict’s College New Norcia, for some of that time. The charging of Davis was sensational as, until Pell, he was the highest ranking prelate charged with this offence.

But what happened next well illustrates the problem of shifting the onus of proof. All the victims swore that their abuser was Davis, that he was one of the brothers, even to describing the famous Benedictine habit. However, contrary to that testimony, Davis was a lay person — he was not ordained until 1971 and he was never in the Benedictine order. Davis left the school in the late 1960s, went into the seminary and was ordained in 1971. While he was at the school he was not “Brother Max”, as was claimed, he was simply Mr Davis. The trial became a fiasco when it became clear the police had not checked the enrolment records at the school at the same time as Davis was there. One of the accusers was not enrolled.

Law firms take varying approaches to holding UM accountable in doctor abuse cases

M Live

April 19, 2020

By Steve Marowski

Attorneys from across the country have filed lawsuits against the University of Michigan on behalf of clients who say they were abused by late athletic doctor Robert Anderson, but some law firms that haven’t yet taken legal action are trying to find other avenues of justice for their clients.

Anderson was a doctor at the University of Michigan from 1968 to 2003. He served as the director of health services until 1980, when he was moved to the athletic department. Anderson died in 2008.

Ten years later, former UM wrestler Tad Deluca wrote a letter to Athletic Director Warde Manuel, detailing abuse he says he endured at the hands of Anderson. A police investigation followed and UM opened a hotline Feb. 19 for abuse victims to report their experiences. The university has since received at least 229 unique complaints against Anderson.

Dozens of former UM students have reported instances of genital fondling and anal penetration during unnecessary hernia and prostate exams. Some report more overt sexual acts.

With scores of victims coming forward to report abuse, a plethora of law firms have begun taking action against the university.

Each firm has taken a different path to seeking justice for their clients. Some have met with UM and its lawyers, some have demanded responses from the university and for Attorney General Dana Nessel to investigate, and others have filed lawsuits, including individual and class-action complaints, against UM and its Board of Regents.

Here’s what those firms are doing and how they’re approaching cases for their clients.

Michigan's Warde Manuel mishandled Dr. Robert Anderson complaint by sending it to lawyers

Detroit Free Press

April 16, 2020

By David Jesse

University of Michigan Athletic Director Warde Manuel did not follow university policy when he forwarded a letter alleging sexual assault by a former football team doctor to the university's lawyers instead of the school's Title IX investigators.

Because lawyers got to see the letter before any investigator, they got an early warning of potential liability to the school.

There are about 40 lawsuits pending in federal court against U-M alleging the university covered up Robert Anderson's sexual assaults of student athletes for decades. There could be many more lawsuits to come — at least three other prominent lawyers have said they each have dozens of potential victims, none of whom have filed suit yet.

The limits of a pontificate (Part I)

La Croix

April 14, 2020

By Massimo Faggioli

Massimo Faggioli dissects the theological and institutional limits of Francis' pontificate

There is a serious risk that Pope Francis is losing the support of the people who want to see him succeed and keep the Church from falling into the hands of those who have set their face against change.

This is an important moment, because the 83-year-old is showing few signs that he understands that many of the strongest believers in his efforts at Church reform are becoming disillusioned.

The seventh anniversary of his election as Bishop of Rome, on March 13, coincided with the peak in awareness of the coronavirus pandemic. It was impossible at that moment to delve into complex analysis of his pontificate.

But living in lockdown in order to contain the spread of COVID-19 has now become the new normal, and it will be for some time in many countries. It provides an opportunity to try and take a more careful look at what has happened to Francis' pontificate in the last few months.

The limits of a pontificate (Part II)

La Croix

By Massimo Faggioli

April 15, 2020

Massimo Faggioli dissects the theological and institutional limits of Francis' pontificate

Supporters of Pope Francis and his efforts to reform the Catholic Church are concerned that the dynamism of his pontificate has begun to wane.His very important spiritual insights lack a clear systematic structure that can be placed in a theological framework and an institutional order.

Recent events – such as his decision to ignore a suggestion by the Amazon bishops to ordain married priests, and his establishment of a new study commission on the female diaconate that does not appear in favor of ordaining women deacons – suggest to reform-minded Catholics that his pontificate is in crisis.What is the current situation telling us?

Is the Francis pontificate in crisis? A response to Faggioli

National Catholic Reporter

April 20, 2020

By Michael Sean Winters

When Massimo Faggioli offers a critique of this pontificate, as he did last week at La Croix in a two-part essay, here and here, everyone should take notice. Not only is Faggioli one of the leading ecclesiologists in the universal church, but he has been strongly supportive of Pope Francis.

The first thing to note is how Faggioli engages the topic: He is deeply respectful, expressing concern not scorn, his analysis does not lead him down a rabbit hole in which the conversation is suddenly devoid of the ecclesial set forth at Vatican II. His concerns about ecclesial structures were acquired by careful readings of Yves Congar, not from an MBA program or political campaign. Faggioli's language is always ecclesial language, never some bizarre extrapolation of Foucaultian ideas about the relationship of power and sexuality nor an ecclesiological variation of game theory. He knows that the church is a gift, not Silly Putty, and there are limits as well as possibilities baked into the constitution of the church.

April 19, 2020

Marci Hamilton And Corey Feldman Of Child USA Release Guide For Sexual Abuse Survivors Who Watch (My) Truth: The Rape Of 2 Coreys

Celebrity Insider

April 16, 2020

By Charisse Van Horn

Child USA CEO Marci Hamilton and Child USA Ambassador Corey Feldman have released a movie viewing guide for sexual abuse survivors before the return of the documentary (My) Truth: The Rape Of 2 Coreys. The movie carefully lays out an alleged pedophile network that actor Corey Feldman says not only abused him but sexually abused Corey Haim as well. Due to the intense subject matter and some graphic detail regarding sexual abuse, Marci Hamilton and Corey Feldman have released the guide to offer suggestions to help survivors deal with any triggers that may arise from watching the movie. Tickets go on sale on April 18, 2020, and the movie will begin streaming on-demand beginning April 22, 2020. The only legitimate place to purchase tickets and view the movie is the official website at www.mytruthdoc.com.

Sign up to sex abuse redress scheme or lose funding, government warns

Sydney Morning Herald

April 19, 2020

By Goya Dmytryshchak

Victorian private schools, religious entities and other organisations who don't sign up to a redress scheme for child sex abuse survivors may lose funding, the state government will announce on Sunday.

The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse recommended a national redress scheme to provide survivors with support such as compensation.

Victoria's Attorney-General Jill Hennessy said 49 non-government organisations operating in the state had not signed up to the scheme, which has a June 30 deadline.

They include private schools, religious entities, sport and recreation groups, and community, youth and family services.

Judge unpauses litigation over sex abuse by Ohio State doc

Associated Press

April 17, 2020

A federal judge on Friday partly unpaused litigation against Ohio State University over decades-old sexual abuse by a team doctor, while making clear that mediation toward possible settlements should continue as the lawsuits proceed.

More than 350 former athletes and other men alleging mistreatment by the late Richard Strauss sued the school for failing to stop the doctor despite concerns raised during his tenure, but much of the legal action has been on hold as the cases were in mediation.

Ohio State announced last month that it reached a settlement with nearly half the men; details weren’t disclosed. Some of the other accusers had asked the judge to let them resume litigation.

All the right reasons

St. Albert Gazette

April 18, 2020

By Scott Hayes

Séan McCann's appearance on the Arden Theatre stage might be delayed till the fall but you can prepare for his talk – a fundraiser for the St. Albert Community Foundation – with his new memoir just released this week.

DETAILS: One Good Reason / Written by Séan McCann with Andrea Aragon / 240 pages / $29.95 / Nimbus Publishing

These are the days to find the good stories to read – the important stories, real ones, the ones that come from the heart and speak to making the best of bad, horrible situations.

On that note, Séan McCann just released his memoir One Good Reason this week. Co-written with his wife Andrea Aragon, it’s a deep dive into the Great Big Sea singer/songwriter’s lifetime of mental anguish caused by sexual abuse by a Catholic priest when he was just a teenager in a small town in Newfoundland. That torment and the secrecy he kept about it resulted in his alcoholism, which spurred on his own misbehaviours. Creative and celebrated though he was (and still is), he spent much of his life in a bottle and that, we all know, never comes without its own new miseries springing forth.

MI Supreme Court rejects appeal in lawsuit against Diocese in tutor’s sexual abuse of teen


April 18, 2020

By Melissa Frick

The Michigan Supreme Court shot down a young man’s appeal in a negligence lawsuit against the Catholic Diocese of Grand Rapids that was previously dismissed in Kent County Circuit Court, the Associated Press reports.

The lawsuit accuses the diocese and three Catholic school employees of negligence in the sexual abuse of a Catholic school teen who was assaulted by a tutor. The victim, who was 15 at the time of the abuse, accuses the defendants of failing to prevent Abigail Simon, a former Catholic school tutor, from abusing him.

The teen filed the lawsuit in 2015 against the diocese, Grand Rapids Catholic Secondary School and three administrators, claiming not enough was done to prevent high school tutor Abigail Simon from abusing the teen.

April 18, 2020

Appeal rejected in lawsuit over school tutor’s abuse of boy

Associated Press

April 17, 2020

The Michigan Supreme Court has turned down an appeal from a young man who accused the Grand Rapids Catholic Diocese of negligence for failing to prevent a sexual relationship with a high school tutor.

It wasn’t unanimous. Three justices — Bridget McCormack, Richard Bernstein and Megan Cavanagh — said Friday they wanted to hear the case.

The state appeals court in 2018 agreed with a Kent County judge who had dismissed a lawsuit against the diocese and school officials. They said they were unaware of the relationship between Abigail Simon and a teenager at Catholic Central High School in 2013.

Virginia priest in battle with bishop over blog blasting Church’s abuse response


April 18, 2020

By Inés San Martín

In Oct. 2008, Father Mark White started a blog under his name in the hopes that his preaching would reach those who don’t go to church. Ever since, he’s written about God, Kobe Bryant, and being pro-life, as well as sharing his homilies.

But he’s also been critical of the way some within the hierarchy of the Catholic Church addressed the clerical sex abuse crisis. The targets of his criticism have included Pope Francis and his own Diocese of Richmond in Virginia, which he’s called “opaque.”

White closed his blog in November 2019, after his bishop ordered him to do so. But after the COVID-19 pandemic led to the cancellation of Masses with the faithful, he decided to resume blogging, as a way to stay in communication with his parishioners.

Commentary: 4 Takeaways From Cardinal Pell’s Holy Saturday TV Interview

National Catholic Register

April 17, 2020

By Father Raymond J. de Souza

COMMENTARY: The Australian cardinal addressed key issues associated with his wrongful conviction and imprisonment, including the incendiary claim that it might have been desired by corrupt officials in Rome.

For the first time since July 2017, Cardinal George Pell spoke at length. In a television interview taped on Holy Saturday at a seminary in Sydney, he answered questions for nearly an hour about his ordeal, which ended with a thumping acquittal by Australia’s High Court the previous Tuesday. In the course of his answers, Cardinal Pell made four important points and addressed the incendiary claim that his wrongful conviction in Melbourne might have been desired by corrupt officials in Rome.

Suffering of the Innocent

Asked about how he endured the charges, the public defamation, the trials and the incarceration, Cardinal Pell insisted that his inner peace was not disturbed because he knew that he was innocent. The only time during the interview that he appeared annoyed was when he was asked if he had considered suicide.

“I am a Christian!” he replied, incredulous that the possibility would be raised.

Cardinal Pell’s answer clarified what is true for Christians, above all during Holy Week. The suffering, even death, of the innocent is not a theological problem for Christians. If Jesus, innocent of all sin, could be falsely condemned to death, then the suffering of the innocent does not pose a challenge to the faith on a theological level.

Ex-premier blasted for George Pell opinion

Australian Associated Press via 7 News

April 16, 2020

By Karen Sweeney

Former Victorian premier Jeff Kennett has been blasted for his "inappropriate" comments about judges after Cardinal George Pell's High Court acquittal.

Mr Kennett called for the resignation of Victorian Chief Justice Anne Ferguson and Court of Appeal President Chris Maxwell after their decision on Cardinal Pell's earlier appeal was overturned.

A jury convicted the cardinal on five child sexual abuse charges in December 2018 and the judges ruled the verdict should stand after a two-day appeal hearing last August.

'My husband is a survivor of Catholic sexual abuse. The Pell verdict rocked us to our core.'

Mama Mia (blog)

April 16, 2020

This post deals with child sex abuse and might be triggering for some readers.

The past couple of weeks have been fraught for our family. Not only are we all home-bound due to coronavirus, but we have been following the media surrounding Cardinal George Pell almost hypnotically. We are invested.

You see, my husband is a survivor of Catholic sexual abuse.

It occurred in the 1980s, when he was a boarder at a well-known school for boys. The signs were there but I did not put it all together until over a decade into our relationship and two children later.

He would latch on to any media stories about paedophiles. He would watch certain movies over and over, most notably ‘Spotlight’ (about an American Newspaper that uncovered multiple instances of abuse) and ‘Sleepers’, a story of four boys who were abused in jail and seek revenge.

Justice, finally.

Catholic World Report

April 6, 2020

By George Weigel

It is imperative for the future of the Australian criminal justice system, and indeed for the future of Australian democracy, that a serious examination of conscience followed by a serious public reckoning take place.

The unanimous decision by Australia’s High Court to quash a guilty verdict and enter a verdict of “acquitted” in the case of Pell vs. The Queen reverses both the incomprehensible trial conviction of Cardinal George Pell on a charge of “historic sexual abuse” and the equally baffling decision to uphold that false verdict by two of the three members of an appellate court in the State of Victoria last August. The High Court’s decision frees an innocent man from the unjust imprisonment to which he has been subjected, restores him to his family and friends, and enables him to resume his important work in and for the Catholic Church. The decision also begins the process of rebuilding international confidence in Australia’s criminal justice system, which has been badly damaged by the Pell case—although there is much more remedial work to be done on that front, especially in the State of Victoria, Ground Zero of the Pell witch hunt that raged for years and that culminated in this tawdry affair.

After criminal acquittal, Cardinal Pell likely to face several civil suits

Catholic News Agency

April 8, 2020

The High Court of Australia this week overturned Cardinal George Pell’s conviction for five alleged counts of sexual abuse, and despite his release from prison, Pell is likely to face several civil lawsuits from alleged abuse victims and their families.

The High Court on April 7 overturned Pell’s 2018 conviction for alleged abuse of two choir boys. The father of one of the alleged victims in the criminal case— who has since died— is suing the Catholic Church, claiming Pell’s alleged abuse was the reason for his son’s “sudden turmoil” in 1996, according to his lawyer Lisa Flynn.

Second nun accuses India Bishop Franco Mulakkal

Global Sisters Report

[Note: This is an old article]

February 25, 2020

By Saji Thomas

Defense attorneys petitioned court to ban media coverage, social media discussion

The rape case against Bishop Franco Mulakkal took a new turn over the weekend when a new allegation of sexual misconduct against the prelate emerged a day before he was to appear in court in Kerala, India. The second accuser, a member of the same congregation as the first, is already a witness in the pending trial against the bishop.

Sex abuse allegations made against Children’s Home house parents

Winston-Salem Journal

By Michael Hewlett

April 17, 2020

Sex abuse allegations made against Children’s Home house parents. Accuser says abuse occurred in the 1970s.

A lawsuit filed Thursday alleges that a husband and wife serving as house parents at the Children’s Home repeatedly molested an orphaned Winston-Salem boy in the early 1970s, as well as other children. The suit claims officials were negligent and failed to report abuse to local authorities.

The lawsuit says the house parents were eventually fired over the allegations but were never charged with a crime. The accuser is now a 59-year-old still living somewhere in North Carolina. His attorneys filed the lawsuit in Mecklenburg Superior Court against the Children’s Home and the Western North Carolina Conference of the United Methodist Church, which ran the Children’s Home at the time of the alleged abuse. The Western North Carolina Conference is headquartered in Huntersville in Mecklenburg County. The Conference now contributes revenue and volunteers for what is known as Crossnore School & Children’s Home.

Richard Serbin, one of the accuser’s attorneys, said North Carolina’s Safe Child Act of 2019 paved the way for the lawsuit, providing a two-year window for child sexual-abuse claims to be brought. The statute of limitations is eliminated during that two-year window.

April 17, 2020

NH man sues Pittsburgh diocese, alleging sexual abuse by priests decades ago

Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

April 16, 2020

By Natasha Lindstrom

A New Hampshire man is suing the Roman Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh based on allegations that three priests sexually assaulted him in the 1960s and early '70s, court records show.

The lawsuit filed Wednesday in Allegheny County Common Pleas Court further accuses the diocese and co-defendant Bishop David Zubik of "protecting child sexual abusers" by refusing to provide information that could help identify two of the three accused priests.

The diocese did not return a request for comment late Wednesday.

The Center launches 24/7 hotline for victims of violence, abuse


April 16, 2020

By Peter Valencia

A new round-the-clock hotline is now available for targeted for LGBTQ+ victims of crime in Southern Nevada.

The Center, located near Maryland Parkway and Lewis Avenue, said it will staff more than 125 volunteer advocates to point victims to the right services.

"It has been a long-term goal of The Center to launch a victim hotline to serve our community,” said Holly Reese, Community Engagement Manager for The Center.

[Opinion] Josh Shapiro: Major victory for abuse survivors


April 16, 2020

By Josh Shapiro

We’re working overtime right now in the Office of Attorney General — protecting your financial security and stopping price gouging during the public health emergency — and still meeting our core responsibilities to public safety. In fact, we just won two major victories that will protect Pennsylvanians from the most dangerous sexually violent predators.

Survivors of sexual assault inspire our office with their strength and resilience. The emotional trauma and physical abuse they’ve endured is heartbreaking and drives our fight against the devastating impacts of sexual violence in our commonwealth. Preventing these crimes and supporting survivors is a critical obligation of the Office of Attorney General.

Thanks to our efforts, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court just overturned a decision that would have undermined public safety and torn away a key protection for all Pennsylvanians. In this case, the court agreed that the commonwealth can continue to notify parents, neighbors, schools and child care centers every time an especially dangerous sexually violent predator moves into their community. The people on this list were convicted of abusing someone already, and a judge found they had a disorder that compels them to commit sexually violent offenses. There are currently 2,269 people in Pennsylvania on this list and, thanks to our office, you’ll know if one of them lives in your neighborhood.

Lawsuits allege abuse, name diocese and Holy Family Institute

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

April 16, 2020

Four lawsuits have been filed this month against the Roman Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh — two of them also naming Holy Family Institute in Emsworth — by plaintiffs alleging that as minors they were were sexually abused by priests or other employees decades ago.

The lawsuits were filed in Allegheny County Court of Common Pleas and allege, among other things, that the defendants engaged in fraud and conspiracy.

They are the latest in a line of lawsuits based on a legal theory that is now before the Pennsylvania Supreme Court in a test case. Abuse claims from long ago would normally be barred under the statute of limitations. But the plaintiffs argue they were victims of a conspiracy of coverup that continued right up to the release of a 2018 statewide grand jury report into sexual abuse in Pittsburgh’s and five other dioceses. The plaintiffs allege this brings the cause of action to within the statute of limitations.

Pell acquittal exposes Vatican hypocrisy

Church Militant (blog)

April 7, 2020

by Bradley Eli, M.Div., Ma.Th.

Pope Francis is praying for those who are persecuted by an unjust sentence. He did so shortly after news broke that Australia's High Court acquitted Cdl. George Pell of sex abuse.

Without mentioning Pell's name in his homily at Casa Santa Marta on Tuesday Francis said, "I would like to pray today for all the people who suffer an unjust sentence because of aggressive persistence [against them]."

A Vatican press release the same day was more specific: "The Holy See, which has always expressed confidence in the Australian judicial authority, welcomes the High Court's unanimous decision concerning Cdl. George Pell, acquitting him of the accusations of abuse of minors and overturning his sentence."

Buffalo Diocese legal bill in sex abuse scandal: $2 million and counting

The Buffalo News

April 16, 2020

By Phil Fairbanks

The Buffalo Diocese is spending a lot of money defending itself.

Hundreds of clergy sexual abuse lawsuits. A landmark bankruptcy case.

The result is a legal bill totaling more than $2 million the past year alone.

And the meter is running.

More than half of the money paid out by the diocese – $1.4 million – went to Connors LLP, the Buffalo law firm handling more than 260 Child Victims Act lawsuits against the diocese.

Headed by Terrence M. Connors, one of the state's preeminent defense attorneys, the firm has represented the diocese for years and is seen as one of its primary defenders, both in court and in public.

Pell decision to leave ‘trail of devastation’ but will not hinder future cases

Lawyers Weekly

April 16, 2020

By Naomi Neilson

It is “legally wrong” to assume that the merit of future cases brought in the criminal or civil jurisdictions for assault by a priest is weakened by the George Pell decision.

A law professor with La Trobe University conceded that the High Court of Australia’s ruling left a “trail of devastation” from victims of sexual abuse by priests of the Catholic Church, but the decision will have little to no effect on the future of similar cases.

Gideon Boas said each future case will be determined by reference to the particular facts and evidence and, beyond the fact that all historic sex abuse cases suffer from difficulties associated with the delay of trial, the Pell decision will not ultimately be the drawcard.

“It would be unfortunate and legally wrong if the message in the community was that the High Court’s ruling has weakened the strength of, or point in, bringing such cases to court or making properly founded allegations,” Professor Boas said. “The risk of this messaging is that victims will give up or not bother coming forward.”

Importantly, the allegation that concerned the High Court’s ruling is “the beginning of the real analysis of Pell’s involvement and complicity in child sex abuse in the Catholic Church and, in particular the Ballarat [diocese]”. As such, it is predicted that Cardinal Pell will face other civil proceedings concerning allegations of cover-ups in the churc

April 16, 2020

Catholic Dioceses of Rochester, Buffalo sue SBA for refusal of pandemic emergency loans

Rochester Democrat and Chronicle

April 16, 2020

By Gary Craig

The Roman Catholic Dioceses of Rochester and Buffalo have sued the federal Small Business Administration for refusing to allow the dioceses to seek emergency loans to offset the loss of money during the novel coronavirus pandemic.

The refusal of the Small Business Administration, or SBA, has nothing to do with the fact that the dioceses are religious institutions; faith-based and nonprofit organizations can seek the loans.

However, the SBA is not providing financial help to businesses in bankruptcy proceedings. Both the Diocese of Rochester and the Diocese of Buffalo are seeking bankruptcy protection in the wake of hundreds of claims of sex abuse by priests and nuns.

Understanding abuse

Catholic Register

April 19, 2020

I am always perplexed by others who are appalled at the sexual abuse cases within the Catholic Church and, more recently, the allegations of sexual, emotional and spiritual abuse by Jean Vanier. Most become incensed and wonder why abuse victims wait so long to tell their tale.

Dr. Nuala Kenny gives insight in her book Still Unhealed. It takes males at least 25 years and females at least 18 years before they can even acknowledge the abuse. Why? Because the profound shock and shame — physically, emotionally, psychologically — is like being hit by a truck. The rebound takes years, if ever it can occur.

Children carry all this pain and secrecy to adulthood at great consequence to their quality of living, trust in relationships and sexual expression with partners. They carry an overwhelming sense of helplessness.

Dr. Kenny certainly has pegged the problem in our Catholic homes and communities and in the Church at large.

Rose Galbraith,

Hamilton, Ont.

Michelle Good’s “Five Little Indians” a fictional exploration of life after residential school

Toronto Star

April 16, 2020

By Marcia Kaye

Michelle Good never went to a residential school. But as the daughter and granddaughter of people who did, the long-time advocate for residential school survivors says a certain question often comes up. As she explains in a note to reviewers of her new book, it’s a question that those who never attended such schools — the last of which closed almost a quarter-century ago — have for those who did: Why can’t they just get over it and move on?

“I choose to believe that this response arises from a lack of awareness,” she wrote. And as one who straddles both worlds — she didn’t go to such a school but her life has been surrounded by survivors — she’s well positioned to heighten that awareness. To that end, Good, a member of Saskatchewan’s Red Pheasant Cree Nation, has written the novel “Five Little Indians.”

Despite its glib title — a nod to the classic Agatha Christie mystery “Ten Little Indians,” whose title in turn comes from an offensive 19th-century minstrel-show ditty — the novel is an intense depiction of how life unfolds for five likeable young people once they’re out of residential school.

Virginia priest is contesting removal over critical blog

Richmond Times-Dispatch

April 16, 2020

A Catholic priest in Virginia says he’ll continue to serve two parishes despite the Richmond Diocese’s order to remove him over a blog that’s been critical of the church. Rev. Mark White told the Richmond Times-Dispatch earlier this week that he would remain as priest and is seeking legal counsel to defend his position. He said the canonical process must run its full course. White maintained a well-known blog that was critical of the church’s handling of the sexual abuse scandal. He served as the priest of St. Joseph Catholic Church in Martinsville and St. Francis of Assisi in Rocky Mount.


Church Militant

April 15, 2020

By Rodney Pelletier

New allegations rock diocese of Honolulu

New homosexual clerical abuse claims are being leveled against the diocese of Honolulu, with accusations the Church knew about it and did nothing.

On Tuesday, attorney Mark Gallagher and noted clerical sex abuse law firm Jeff Anderson & Associates issued a press release regarding a new lawsuit filed against the diocese of Honolulu in reference to the sexual predation of Honolulu priest Bartholomew O'Leary and Bp. Joseph Ferrario — both now deceased.

Man sues Pittsburgh diocese, alleging sexual abuse by priests decades ago


April 16, 2020

By Natasha Lindstrom

A New Hampshire man is suing the Roman Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh based on allegations that three priests sexually assaulted him in the 1960s and early ’70s, court records show.

The lawsuit filed Wednesday in Allegheny County Common Pleas Court further accuses the diocese and co-defendant Bishop David Zubik of “protecting child sexual abusers” by refusing to provide information that could help identify two of the three accused priests.

The diocese did not return a request for comment late Wednesday.

Now 62, the plaintiff claims he faced years of sexual assault at the hands of priests, starting when he was around 7 or 8 years old as a student at St. Colman’s Catholic School in Turtle Creek, the lawsuit states.

Cardinal Pell Ties His Prosecution in Australia to Vatican Financial Corruption


April 15, 2020

By Thomas D. Williams

Cardinal George Pell said it is widely believed by senior Vatican officials that his prosecution in Australia for historic sex abuse was linked to his fight against financial corruption in the Vatican.

In a nearly hourlong televised interview Tuesday in australia, SkyNews host Andrew Bolt asked the cardinal point blank whether he had ever considered “that the trouble you were causing to corrupt officials in the Vatican was related to the troubles that have since happened to you here?”

“Most of the senior people in Rome who are in any way sympathetic to financial reform believe that they are,” Pell responded, while adding that he does not personally have hard evidence of that.

In March 2019, Vatican journalist Marco Tossati wrote an article titled, “Cannons in Australia with Bullets Made in the Vatican,” saying this was a phrase he had often heard from Vatican insiders who were convinced that accusations against Pell in Australia were instigated by his enemies in Rome.

¿Qué reveló el allanamiento de la Fiscalía a la Arquidiócesis de Villavicencio?

[What did the search by the Prosecutor's Office reveal of the Archdiocese of Villavicencio?]


April 15, 2020

By Ferney Yesyd Rodríguez Vargas

Por primera vez, la Fiscalía General tiene en su poder los archivos secretos del Arzobispado, una fuente escandalosa de verdades ocultas en la iglesia

En un hecho asombroso y sin precedentes, la Fiscalía General de la Nación inspeccionó de manera sorpresiva la sede de la Arquidiócesis de Villaviciencio en busca de información sobre sacerdotes pederastas.

[GOOGLE TRANSLATION: For the first time, the Attorney General's Office has in its possession the archives of the archbishopric, a scandalous source of hidden truths in the church

In an amazing and unprecedented event, the Office of the Attorney General of the Nation surprisingly inspected the headquarters of the Archdiocese of Villaviciencio in search of information on pedophile priests.]

Sigue escándalo por denuncias de abuso sexual a menores por sacerdotes de Villavicencio

[Scandal continues over allegations of sexual abuse of minors by Villavicencio priests]

El País

April 14, 2020

Un fiscal adelanta las investigaciones sobre el escándalo que llevó a la suspensión de 19 sacerdotes en Villavicencio.

Un fiscal seccional adelanta las investigaciones sobre el escándalo, conocido antes de la Semana Santa, que llevó a la suspensión de 19 sacerdotes en Villavicencio.

El origen de este escándalo empezó el pasado 14 de febrero, luego de que un hombre mayor de edad interpuso una denuncia en contra de los sacerdotes de la Arquidiócesis de Villavicencio y los acusó de hechos en contra de la moral sexual.

[GOOGLE TRANSLATION: A prosecutor is conducting investigations into the scandal that led to the suspension of 19 priests in Villavicencio.

A sectional prosecutor is carrying out investigations into the scandal, known before Easter, which led to the suspension of 19 priests in Villavicencio.

The origin of this scandal began on February 14, after an elderly man filed a complaint against the priests of the Archdiocese of Villavicencio and accused them of acts against sexual morality.]

How child advocates are fighting child abuse during COVID-19 pandemic

Fox 17 TV

April 15, 2020

by Kathleen Jacob

As more people spend time at home, child abuse cases are expected to rise. Plus, with kids being out of school, many of these cases are going unnoticed.

However, there are things people can be doing to protect these kids.

“If we think about the stress of raising young children in an average day and compound that with being isolated from your friends and family, having potential income loss, and not knowing when they’ll potentially have work again, it can compound very quickly.”

Kristen Davis with Prevent Child Abuse TN explains with those extra stressors, child advocates worry even more about kids, especially since they’re not seeing them in person.

George Pell won’t be reinstated as Vice Patron, says Richmond

The Australian

April 16, 2020

By Remy Varga

The Richmond Football Club will not reinstate Cardinal George Pell in an ambassadorial role despite his conviction for child sex abuse being unanimously overturned by the High Court of Australia.

A spokeswoman confirmed the board's decision on Thursday, which she said will not be revisited with no further comment to be made.

Cardinal Pell was stripped of the honorary role of club Vice Patron in February 2019 after the Cardinal was convicted of child sex abuse, for which he served 405 days in HM Prison Barwon.

That verdict was quashed by the High Court of Australia on April 7 this year.

Before Pell entered the priesthood, Richmond signed Pell as ruckman in 1959 and he played for the club’s reserves and the Tigers previously stood by Cardinal Pell when he was first charged with child sex offences in 2017.

At the time, CEO Brendan Gale was reported saying he understood the seriousness of the allegations but “in light of Cardinal Pell’s fundamental legal rights to the presumption of innocence and to a fair trial, he will remain a Vice Patron of the Club, pending the outcome of any trial.”

Cardinal Pell became the world’s most senior Catholic to be convicted of child sex abuse in 2018 and he served 13 months for abusing two choir boys at St Patrick’s Cathedral in Melbourne before the verdict was overturned.

Abuse survivors and victims’ advocacy groups have despaired over the High Court’s decision, raising concerns it could discourage others from coming forward.

The Tigers have several other Vice Patrons, a largely symbolic role adding prestige and credibility to the club.

Hundreds of claims against Rochester-area Catholic parishes blocked, but at what cost?

Rochester Democrat and Chronicle

April 16, 2020

By Steve Orr

The parishes that make up the diocese of Rochester, some of them already hobbled by declining attendance and flagging finances, are facing a new threat.

A wave of litigation.

The diocese’s parishes, as well as charitable affiliates like the CYO and Camp Stella Maris, are facing more than 400 legal claims that allege sexual abuse of young people by priests and nuns connected to those organizations.

Some parishes, like Saint Kateri Tekakwitha in Irondequoit and Holy Name in Elmira, have been named in more than two dozen claims. Catholic Charities and the Catholic Youth Organization (CYO) have been named 15 times.

If the lawsuits went ahead, the cost of defending them might be enough to put many parishes and affiliates permanently underwater.

But for now, those lawsuits are on hold.

U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Paul Warren, convening court remotely as the coronavirus pandemic plays out, has ordered that all of those claims be temporarily frozen.

Warren is overseeing the diocese’s Chapter 11 bankruptcy case, which was filed in mid-September.

The bankruptcy filing was driven by the need to cope with a wave of lawsuits filed under New York’s Child Victims Act, which allowed victims of child sexual abuse to bring suit against their abuser, no matter how long ago the act occurred.

Report: Sexual abuse of minors in dioceses ‘just the tip of iceberg’

The Asahi Shimbun

April 16, 2020

By Maki Okubo

A new internal report by a Catholic bishops organization found that 16 sexual abuse cases against minors since the 1950s in Japan have been reported from the dioceses.

Of these cases spanning seven decades, only four of the clergy have admitted to the abuse and five remain as priests.

The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Japan on April 7 released its investigative report on its website after surveying all 16 diocesan bishops in Japan.

A total of 16 cases were reported from the 1950s through the 2010s, it said. The report concluded that the result is “just the tip of the iceberg.”

April 15, 2020

Opinion: The tortured road of the falsely accused

The Catholic Weekly

April 14, 2020

By Dr Wanda Skowronska

A vacant chair

At the final Annals lunch held on 29 November 2019 at the monastery of Sacred Heart in Kensington, Sydney , there was a vacant chair for Cardinal Pell.

Right next to this, was another vacant chair for the recently deceased Father Paul Stenhouse, who had ceaselessly called for moral and financial support for the Cardinal at every opportunity. It was not hard to imagine Fr Stenhouse doing the equivalent of an Irish jig way in heaven and, if living on earth, immediately writing up an article on the Cardinal’s vindication by the High Court for the next edition of Annals.

Yet we cannot forget the ordeal of the Cardinal in its true aspect of a Via Crucis which will become more deeply understood as time goes on.

A case that was beyond weak

It is not just that the Cardinal was falsely accused. As George Weigel put it so well, “the Crown prosecutors produced no evidence that the alleged crimes had ever been committed” while the evidence that was produced was inconsistent and flawed, beyond what could be reasonably expected with memory problems over time.

There were no witnesses to corroborate the charges and there were plenty of witnesses to swear he was with them at the very time he was supposed to have committed the alleged crime.

[News Release] Fr. Bart O’Leary Named in New Hawaii Child Sexual Abuse Case, Bishop Ferrario’s Legacy of Abuse Continues

Jeff Anderson & Associates, Inc. [Plaintiff law firm]

April 14, 2020

Catholic whistleblower Rev. Tom Doyle available for comment on latest accusation in Bishop Ferrario’s legacy of abuse & cover-up

Craig Christiansen v. the Roman Catholic Church in Hawaii, et al, 4.14.20

The Anderson Report: Clerical Sexual Abuse in the Diocese of Honolulu

Today Hawaii attorney Mark Gallagher and attorneys from the law firm of Jeff Anderson & Associates filed a complaint under Hawaii’s “window” law (closing April 24, 2020) against the Diocese of Honolulu on behalf of clergy sexual abuse survivor Craig Christiansen. Christiansen courageously allowed his name to appear on the lawsuit even though survivors may bring claims confidentially.

The lawsuit publicly identifies for the first time Father Bartholomew “Bart” O’Leary, a globally-celebrated figure in Catholic seminary administration, as a child sexual abuser. The case also names the notorious former Diocese of Honolulu Bishop and child abuser, Bishop Joseph Ferrario.

“The Vatican knew that Ferrario had a history of abuse,” said attorney Jeff Anderson who first sued Bp. Ferrario and the Diocese in 1991. “They knew the peril and they made a conscious and reckless choice to elevate him to Bishop.”

Pell's guilty of many terrible crimes. That's why right wingers defend him


April 14,2020

By Emma Norton

In the eyes of the law, cardinal George Pell is not guilty of the sexual abuse of two choir boys in Melbourne in the 1990s. Without significant new evidence, he never will be. But the cardinal is guilty of many other sins.

To those seeking justice for the systematic abuse perpetrated by the Catholic Church, he is a symbol of the complicity of the church’s highest officers. To Australia’s conservative culture warriors, he is a key ally who must be defended, no matter how much doing so contradicts their apparent obsession with traditional sexual morality and punitive law-and-order politics.

Two Men Sue Charlotte Diocese For Abuse By Priests Listed As Credibly Accused


April 14, 2020

By Sarah Delia

This week, two men filed lawsuits against the Roman Catholic Diocese of Charlotte. They claimed they were abused when they were minors by priests who worked within the Charlotte Diocese. Both priests were named on a list of clergy credibly accused of sexual abuse released late last year.

The Diocese of Charlotte issued a statement saying in part, "We disagree that the diocese is liable to the plaintiffs."

Charlotte attorney Sam McGee hopes his two clients will have their day in court, something he says they never got. Both men previously filed lawsuits regarding the alleged abuse they say occurred when they were minors in the 1970s and '80s. Both cases were dismissed based on the statute of limitations.

New PBS documentary goes behind the scenes of the Vatican

Catholic News Service

April 28, 2020

By Joseph McAleer

PBS 'Inside the Vatican'

A year in the life of what it calls "the Catholic world's biggest theater of faith" is chronicled in the documentary "Inside the Vatican," a BBC production premiering on PBS Tuesday, April 28, 9-11 p.m. EDT. Viewers should check local listings, though, since broadcast times may vary.

Over the course of 2018, filmmaker Silvia Sacco and her camera crew followed Pope Francis and many of the 2,600 employees who work inside the world's smallest sovereign state. From security guards, cleaners and gardeners to diplomats, interpreters, choristers and priests and nuns as well, "Inside the Vatican" goes behind the scenes to witness the ebb and flow from Lent through Christmas.

At the main employee entrance, Pope Francis has placed an icon of the "Virgin of Silence" as a stern reminder that idle gossip should find no foothold inside the workplace. All labor stops at noon every day, so everyone can gather together to pray the Angelus.

The best moments feature those not wearing clerical garb. There are the Sediari, for instance, who once carried the sedia gestatoria, the now-disused portable papal throne, but who now welcome thousands of daily visitors and direct traffic with aplomb.



April 15, 2020

By Bradley Eli, M.Div., Ma.Th.

Virginia priest resists removal by McCarrick protégé

A priest who criticized Church leaders for mishandling the sex abuse crisis is resisting his bishop's attempts to remove him as pastor.

Richmond, Virginia's Bp. Barry Knestout, who rose to prominence as a personal secretary to serial homosexual predator Theodore McCarrick, is trying to remove Fr. Mark White as pastor of St. Francis of Assisi Parish in Rocky Mount and St. Joseph Parish in Martinsville. In his letter sent to both parishes on Monday, Knestout said White's removal was effective immediately.

But White, whose crime was reactivating a blog that was critical of sex abuse cover-ups involving many prelates including Pope Francis, said on Monday he's fighting back with canon law.

Opinion: We must not accept any more self-serving bluster from the Catholic hierarchy

Liverpool City Champion

April 15, 2020

By Peter Gogarty

On the day the High Court of Australia quashed the conviction of Cardinal George Pell for child sex abuse offences, the Pope asked for prayers for those who suffer unjust sentences because "someone had it in for them" and compared them to Jesus who "was judged ferociously even though he was innocent".

While not referring directly to Pell, the Pope's comments were either ill-advised and oblivious to the deep distress they would cause to hundreds of thousands of child abuse survivors across the world, or they were deliberately chosen to be inflammatory and offensive to those same survivors. Of course, the Vatican later confirmed that the safety of children and justice for child abuse victims remained its priority.

Charlotte Diocese Faces 2 Suits Over Alleged Priest Abuse

The Associated Press

April 15, 2020

Two lawsuits have been filed against the Catholic Diocese of Charlotte claiming two boys were sexually abused in separate instances by the two priests they sought out for help with personal problems decades ago.

One of the lawsuits filed Monday in Mecklenburg County Superior Court involves an unidentified Georgia man who was 14 in the 1970s when he sought help from a priest, Joseph Kelleher, to deal with a family move. The lawsuit says the diocese should have known Kelleher, who died in 2014, should have been thoroughly investigated before being allowed to spend time with children.

A second lawsuit was filed on behalf of a North Carolina man who alleges he was abused at age 14 by a different priest, Richard B. Farwell. That lawsuit said the diocese should have known Farwell should also have been investigated before being allowed near children.

In Pakistan, Muslim Clerics Habitually Rape Kids. Almost All Get Away With It.


April 15, 2020

By Terry Firma

Since early 2013, when I began blogging about religion, I’ve written so many posts about child sexual assaults by clergy members that when a new case presents itself, I can’t think of a halfway original opening sentence. Some days, I see a new(s) account of a religious authority’s sex abuse, and guiltily neglect to write about it for this site. Why? Sometimes I’m just too numb, and sometimes too emotionally susceptible to dive in (this stuff will mess up your mood). Shamefully, I’m often just… uninspired by the case — and I hate that.

How fucked up is it that I can read about a priest forcing an altar boy to touch him, a rabbi rubbing up against a young girl from his congregation, an imam caught fondling a frightened child, and nix it as blog material because, number one, we’ve seen worse (oy!), and number two, for my own sanity, I just can’t write another story (and another, and another) on the topic?

Man Files Lawsuit Claiming He Was Sexually Abused As A Child By 3 Pittsburgh Catholic Priests


April 15, 2020

A man is suing the Catholic Pittsburgh Diocese, claiming he was abused by three priests as a child — two of them who he knew only as “father.”

A 62-year-old man who lives in New Hampshire filed the suit in the Allegheny County Court of Common Pleas.

It alleges that the abuse began when he was 7 or 8 and was a student at St. Coleman’s Catholic School in Turtle Creek. He claims the abuse continued through the age of 15 as he was living at the New Castle Youth Development Center.

The only named priest in the suit is Father Edward Maliszewski, who was the assistant pastor of St. Coleman’s Church from 1955 to 1964. He died in 2006.

Resignations Just Don't Cut It Anymore

AdamHorowitzLaw.com (law firm blog)

April 12, 2020

Albert Einstein is widely credited with saying, “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again but expecting different results.”

Sadly, the popes of the Catholic church seem incapable of learning this lesson.

Last month, Pope Francis accepted the resignation of French Cardinal Phillipe Barbarin who was convicted in early March of refusing to report child sex crimes by a serial predator priest (Fr. Bernard Preynat) to legal authorities.


And way back in 1997, Australian Bishop Robert Mulkearns submitted his resignation to Pope John Paul after being investigated by police for covering up the crimes of Fr. Gerald Ridsdale, who raped and sexually abused more than 50 kids.

I worked hard for survivors: Cardinal Pell

AAP via Canberra Times

April 15, 2020

By Karen Sweeney

Cardinal George Pell has admitted he is ashamed of the Catholic Church's response to child sexual abuse and says he occasionally wishes he had responded differently.

But a week after being freed from prison after the High Court quashed five abuse convictions, he says it grieves him when people accuse him of being anti-victim or not sufficiently sympathetic.

He said he had devoted a lot of time and energy to get justice, help and compensation for survivors of abuse within the church, including in establishing the Melbourne Archdiocese response in the 1990s and later working with Towards Healing in Sydney.

Andrew Bolt and the ABC: did the reporting on George Pell step over a line?

The Guardian

April 14, 2020

By Margaret Simons

The polarising case of Cardinal Pell raises questions about media responsibility, holding power to account, and the notion of ‘trial by media’

This week I rang the ABC investigative journalist Sarah Ferguson to ask what she thought of the attacks on Revelation, her television series about sex abuse in the Catholic church.

“Have there been some attacks?” she replied, deadpan.

There certainly have – particularly over the final episode, which detailed allegations against George Pell, which by happenstance screened just days before the high court unanimously found in his favour and threw out his conviction on sex abuse charges.

That final episode is not available now. Ferguson says it is being updated and should be restored to the ABC’s on-demand viewing platform, iView, later this week.

Will there be any changes caused by fear of defamation following Pell’s successful high court appeal?

“We went with material we had complete confidence in,” she said.

Stand Up, Speak Up

Stand Up, Speak Up (blog)

April 1, 2020

By Tim Lennon


I am starting this blog for several reasons. My work with survivors of rape and sexual abuse generates a fair amount of correspondence and research. Typically, I reply to each survivor on a case by case basis. Here, I want to share some of that information to those who might find it useful.

Also, I want to document the day to day, week to week challenges of the work being done. These challenges evoke responses and commentary that others might find interesting.

I want to have a broad spectrum of information easily accessible in one place. For instance, for those who have be harmed by sexual abuse I want to ensure that you can find resources to help you. See the section on Survivor Support. If you can’t find the help you need, contact me, I will make every effort to help.

Victims advocate on George Pell claims of one-sided justice system

ABC (Australian Broadcasting Corp.) Radio

April 15, 2020

[AUDIO] On RN Breakfast with Fran Kelly

Cardinal George Pell has given his first sit down interview since being released from prison.

It's been a week since the High Court overturned his child sexual abuse convictions after finding the jury should have held a reasonable doubt as to his guilt.

News Corp papers have reported that Victoria Police are investigating Cardinal Pell over an alleged incident in the 1970's — he has always vehemently denied all allegations of sexual abuse against him.

Cardinal Pell has warned of the dangers of a one-sided justice system that treats every accusation as "gospel truth".

Featured: Judy Courtin, lawyer and advocate representing victims of institutional child abuse

Lawsuits claim Charlotte diocese should have known priests were child sex predators

Charlotte Observer

April 14, 2020

By Bruce Henderson

Two lawsuits accuse the Catholic Diocese of Charlotte of negligence in connection with child sexual abuse by two priests.

Two men have sued the Catholic Diocese of Charlotte for their childhood sexual abuse by priests that they claim the diocese knew or should have known were predators.

Both men, who filed their lawsuits without revealing their identities, had previously sued the diocese in 2011 and 2012. Those cases were dismissed in 2014 after the diocese argued that too much time had elapsed since the alleged incidents.

Last November, however, North Carolina legislators opened a two-year window for civil actions over child sexual abuse to be filed regardless of time limitations.

Most victims of child sexual abuse don’t come forward until much later in life, said Sam McGee, the Charlotte attorney representing the two plaintiffs.

Child Sex Abuse Civil Lawsuits Filed Against Catholic Diocese of Charlotte


April 14, 2020

By Marvin Beach

The Catholic Diocese of Charlotte is facing a pair of civil lawsuits over alleged child sex abuse. Two men argue the diocese didn’t do enough to protect them.

Previously, the statute of limitations in the cases had run out.

But the North Carolina General Assembly has opened up a two-year window for victims to file cases, acknowledging it often takes years for them to come forward.

New lawsuits filed against Diocese of Charlotte with assault accusations


April 14, 2020

By Nate Morabito

The men, referred to only as John Doe and John Doe 1K, filed the lawsuits in Mecklenburg County on Monday.

Two men who previously accused former Diocese of Charlotte priests of sexual abuse stemming from the 70s and 80s have filed new assault and battery and negligence lawsuits against the diocese.

The men, referred to only as John Doe and John Doe 1K, filed the lawsuits in Mecklenburg County on Monday.

One accuses former priest Joseph Kelleher, now deceased, of sex abuse when he was a teen. The other accuses former priest Richard Farwell of sex abuse when he was a teen.

Two sex abuse cases filed against Charlotte Diocese

Fox 46 TV

April 14, 2020

By Morgan Frances

Trouble continues to pour in on the Roman Catholic Diocese of Charlotte. They face two new lawsuits accusing two priests of sexual abuse.

“One of the reasons victims don’t come forward until later in life is just because it so hard,” said the accuser’s attorney, Sam McGee.

Because of action by lawmakers, childhood victims of sexual abuse have two years to file lawsuits, even if the statute of limitations has run out

“My clients, between the two of them, have faced multiple suicide attempts, psychiatric hospitalizations homelessness,” McGee told FOX 46. “You know, have really struggled to just have even a somewhat normal life.”

No son 19, son 36 los sacerdotes involucrados en escándalo sexual

[There are not 19, there are 36 priests involved in sex scandal]

Caracol Radio

April 14, 2020

La Fiscalía ya tiene en su poder el archivo secreto de la Arquidiócesis.

[The Prosecutor's Office already has in its possession the secret archives of the Archdiocese.]

El pasado 3 de abril, el Servicio Informativo de Caracol Radio publicó la noticia de la suspensión de 19 sacerdotes de la Arquidiócesis de Villavicencio, por una investigación sobre presuntos abusos sexuales. En el seguimiento a esta historia encontramos que no son 19 sino 36 los sacerdotes involucrados en esta historia que ha sacudido a la capital del Meta.

[GOOGLE TRANSLATION: On April 3, the Caracol Radio Information Service published the news of the suspension of 19 priests from the Archdiocese of Villavicencio, due to an investigation into alleged sexual abuse . In the follow-up to this story we find that there are not 19 but 36 priests involved in this story that has rocked the capital of Meta.]

As NY Courts go virtual, alleged abuse victims still unable to file


April 14, 2020

By H. Rose Schneider

The New York State Unified Court System announced Monday matters deemed nonessential or non-emergency can now be held virtually in court, as essential matters already had.

Nonessential matters were suspended in court nearly a month ago on March 15 to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, only allowing matters such as arraignments and orders of protection to continue. Courts transitioned successfully to holding these matters virtually, according to state courts.

Starting Monday, judges can now hold “virtual chambers” and “virtual courts” to discuss nonessential matters using the program Skype for Business, said state Supreme Court Judge Bernadette Clark.

“Everything I need, I have on my computer,” she said.

The state courts have still banned new filings for nonessential cases, however.

Currently, judges are only working on pending cases, said Clark. She said 200 cases were scheduled for Monday and Tuesday in the state’s Fifth Judicial District alone.

Oneida County District Attorney Scott McNamara said the county’s assistant district attorneys are using Skype for Business on pending criminal cases. County judges began scheduling criminal cases Monday, but the matter has to be one a defendant does not have to be present for, he said.


Child Victims Act

The suspension of nonessential court matters reignited a push by some to pass a bill that would extend the one-year window established by the state’s Child Victims Act last year — in which civil actions alleging child sexual abuse could be filed even if the statute of limitations had expired.

This time period is set to end in August.

“It’s kind of slowed down the process for everything,” said attorney Richard Serbin of the law firm Janet, Janet & Suggs. He represents Warren Curtis, who filed a lawsuit in January alleging sexual abuse from clergy from three churches, including St. Matthew’s Temple Church of God in Christ in Utica.

Father Mark White responds to removal: "I don't intend to go anywhere"

Franklin News-Post

April 14, 2020

By Bill Wyatt

Father Mark White said he is staying in the pulpits in Martinsville and Rocky Mount.

On Monday night, after Bishop of the Diocese of Richmond Barry Knestout had notified him and his parishioners in an emailed letter that White had been removed as pastor of St. Joseph Catholic Church in Martinsville and St. Francis of Assisi in Rocky Mount, White said he would remain as priest and is seeking legal counsel to defend his right to do so.

White and Knestout have had a monthslong dispute about a popular blog White writes that sometimes includes strong criticism of how the Catholic church has handled cases about sex abuse by priests.

April 14, 2020

Cardinal George Pell reportedly facing fresh criminal investigation


April 14,2020

Police have arrived at the NSW seminary where Cardinal George Pell is living amid reports he is facing fresh criminal investigations.

Four Officers from the Auburn Police Area Command arrived at the premises on Abbotsford Road in Homebush about 2.30pm for what was a prearranged meeting to “discuss security protocols”, a NSW Police spokesperson said.

The meeting followed a story in the Herald Sun this morning claiming Cardinal Pell is being secretly investigated by police over new claims against him.

The accuser is believed to be a male who works in a professional role who made claims about alleged child sex abuse that date back to the 1970s.

For colleges, insurance against sexual misconduct is becoming harder to get

Education Dive

April 13, 2020

By Lorelei Laird

Even institutions that haven't experienced massive scandals may find they are paying more for less coverage.

Michigan State University had general liability coverage from the same insurance company for nearly two decades. Then it was revealed that one of its sports doctors had sexually abused hundreds of women and that top administrators knew of and mishandled complaints about his behavior.

After more than $500 million in settlements and fines and a coverage dispute, Michigan State's longtime insurer declined to include coverage for sexual misconduct related to the sports doctor and another official in the university's general liability policy, The Wall Street Journal reported. The university ultimately created its own insurance company to get coverage.

Religions Harm People

Verdict Justia

April 14, 2020

By Leslie C. Griffin

It doesn’t matter if you’re from the left or the right. You may not want to hear that religions do a lot of harm. But they do.

We should have learned this already from the terrible child abuse crisis, where clergy harmed children, and then the children’s abuse was hidden and denied by people running the churches. Despite this terrible history, the harm continues.

This harm is apparent in the recent decisions by some churches to hold services even after a state has said it is dangerous for anyone to meet in person. The states passed stay-at-home or shelter-in-place orders to keep people safe. Nonetheless, some pastors argue that church is the place where people heal. Others insist that the meeting bans are an attack on religious freedom, and that such meetings are absolutely protected by the First Amendment. “[O]ne of the church congregants said she believed she would not contract coronavirus because she is ‘covered in Jesus’ blood,’ and that she is not concerned she could spread it to anyone else.” Another pastor said “God will shield us from all harm and sickness, . . . We are not afraid. We are called by God to stand against the Antichrist creeping into America’s borders. We will spread the Gospel.”

The fight for justice for sexual abuse survivors must go on

Al Jazeera

April 13, 2020

By Victor Sande-Aneiros

The overturning of Cardinal Pell's conviction may feel like a set-back, but there could be a positive impact.

One of the most senior figures of the Catholic Church to be tried and convicted of child sexual abuse is now a free man.

On April 7, Australia's highest court overturned Cardinal George Pell's six-year prison sentence for the alleged sexual abuse of two choir boys in 1996 on the basis that the evidence presented in the case had not proven his guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

The High Court judges unanimously ruled that there was "a significant possibility that an innocent person has been convicted".

2 lawsuits alleging sexual abuse filed against Diocese of Charlotte

WSOCTV.com News

April 14, 2020

Two people who say priests sexually abused them when they were children are now suing the Charlotte Catholic Diocese.

The civil lawsuits filed in Mecklenburg County claim the Catholic church concealed misconduct and sheltered abusers.

Police investigating George Pell over fresh child sexual abuse allegation – report

The Guardian

April 13, 2020

By Melissa Davey

News Corp says acquitted cardinal faces new claims over alleged incident in the 1970s when he was a priest in Ballarat

Cardinal George Pell is being investigated by police over a new allegation of child sexual abuse, according to News Corp reports.

Pell was released from jail last Tuesday after the high court acquitted him on five historical child sexual abuse charges. Pell, 78, spent more than 400 days in jail after being convicted by a jury in December 2018. The high court acquitted Pell after finding the jury should have held a reasonable doubt as to his guilt.

Pell has given an exclusive interview to his longtime friend and supporter from Sky News, Andrew Bolt, which is due to air on Tuesday night.

Australian cardinal links corruption to child abuse charges

Associated Press

April 14, 2020

By Rod McGuirk

Cardinal George Pell is linking his fight against corruption in the Vatican with his prosecution in Australia for alleged child sex abuse

Cardinal George Pell has linked his fight against corruption in the Vatican with his prosecution in Australia for alleged child sex abuse.

Pell was regarded as the third highest-ranking Vatican official in 2018 when he became the world’s most senior Catholic to be convicted of child sex abuse. He served 13 months in prison before Australia’s High Court last week acquitted him of molesting two choirboys in St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Melbourne while he was archbishop of Australia’s second-largest city in the 1990s.

Catholic priest in Va. who criticized church’s handling of sex abuse scandal removed from post

Martinsville Bulletin/Associated Press

April 14, 2020

A priest in Virginia has been removed from his post after maintaining a blog critical of the Catholic Church’s handling of the sexual abuse scandal.

News outlets report Rev. Mark White, whose blog reaches more than 1 million readers, was removed on Monday.

He served as the priest of St. Joseph Catholic Church in Martinsville and St. Francis of Assisi in Rocky Mount.

A Different Kind of Catholic Church Scandal at a Winchester Parish

Boston Magazine

April 14, 2020

By Mariya Manzhos

Fistfuls of missing money. An FBI investigation. And a culture of secrecy that tore a suburban parish to shreds: What really happened at St. Mary’s in Winchester?

St. Mary’s Director of Ministries Sal Caraviello was milling around at a lunch service when he got the panicked call. It was a chilly Thursday morning in February 2017, and Caraviello, a longtime fixture at the Winchester parish, had driven two and a half hours southwest to Branford, Connecticut, for a funeral earlier that day before following mourners to an Italian restaurant a few minutes down the road to eat. Charismatic with a youthful face despite being in his early fifties, Caraviello was busy consoling friends when he felt the buzz in his suit pocket. It was Father Richard Beaulieu, the administrator at his church. Not wanting to disrupt the meal, he walked out to the parking lot and took the call.

“Did you hear about the FBI showing up here?” asked Beaulieu, clearly shaken.

Caraviello felt like his heart had skipped a beat. “I haven’t heard a thing,” he said, trying to catch up.

Beaulieu told Caraviello what he knew. At about 10 a.m. that day, FBI agents and uniformed cops had knocked on the doors of four church members: Beaulieu; one of two church business managers, Steven Ultrino, who is also a state representative; the parish money counter, Joseph LoPiccolo (who was Ultrino’s cousin); and the church’s partially retired pastor, Father Dick Messina, who lived in Maine. The authorities hadn’t told the interviewees much, but it was clear that the rectory, where the offering money was counted after church services, was the focus. It didn’t take Hercule Poirot to realize they were likely investigating a theft from the collection plate—and presumably a serious one, given the FBI’s presence.

George Pell faces fresh child abuse allegations from new accuser just days after cardinal's convictions were quashed by the High Court and he said he 'wouldn't be entirely surprised' if police came after him again

The Daily Mail

April 13, 2020

By Charlie Coe and Zoe Zaczek

- George Pell reportedly under investigation over allegations by new accuser
- He was released from prison just last week after child sex convictions quashed
- New accusations - which police have not contacted Pell about - date to 1970s
- Man who now works in a professional role understood to have made accusation

Cardinal George Pell is reportedly under police investigation after a new accuser came forward with fresh allegations of child abuse.

A week on from his successful High Court appeal against child sex convictions, reports said Victoria Police had been investigating a separate accusation against Pell, 78.

Police are yet to approach Pell or his legal team over the fresh allegation - which is understood to date back to the 1970s, according to the Herald Sun.

A man who now works in a professional role reportedly made the accusation.

A spokeswoman for the cardinal said on Monday night: 'In any police matter there should be due process through the proper channels.'

Daily Mail Australia does not suggest the new allegations are true - only that police are reportedly investigating.

Cardinal Pell was not told of the fresh investigation until Monday, the paper reported.

[Video] Full Cardinal George Pell interview with Andrew Bolt

Sky News TV via YouTube

April 14, 2020

Cardinal George Pell has revealed he is ashamed of the Catholic Church for the way it dealt with the “cancer” of child sex abuse in the past.

In an exclusive world-first televised interview with Sky News Australia presenter Andrew Bolt, Cardinal Pell talks candidly about the scourge of child abuse within his own church and how the many failures to act still haunt him today.

“It was like a cancer … we had to cut it out,” he said.

“I totally condemn these sorts of activities, and the damage that it’s done to people.

“One of the things that aggrieves me is the suggestion that I’m anti-victim, or not sufficiently sympathetic. I devoted a lot of time and energy to try to save them, to get justice, to get help and to get compensation.”

Sky News interview: George Pell ‘wouldn’t be entirely surprised if police keep trawling for victims’

The Australian

April 14, 2020

By Tessa Akerman and Steve Jackson

Cardinal George Pell has said he “wouldn’t be entirely surprised” if Victoria Police continued to trawl for alleged victims of sexual abuse as reports emerge of an investigation into a fresh allegation dating back to the 1970s.

Cardinal Pell, in a Sky News interview on Tuesday night with Andrew Bolt, said Victoria Police had “advertised” for cases of abuse during their initial investigation and it was “a bit ironic” that he had been made a scapegoat for sexual abuse by clergy when he introduced Melbourne Response in 1996 to provide redress.

“I don’t think the Church has ever got enough credit for the fact that we broke the back of this problem,” he said.

Cardinal George Pell says throughout the case against him on child sexual abuse charges, it was evident "too may people (would) go from possible, to probable, to a fact" when ...

“The offending stopped, not completely but almost completely, from the middle 90s.”

The 78-year-old was released from jail last Tuesday after being acquitted in the high court on five charges of historical child sexual abuse.

He spent more than 400 days in prison after being found guilty in December 2018, before the high court overturned the verdict.

“I’m a believing Christian and I have stated my views quite clearly on many cases in many cases,” he said.

He said the ABC was partly funded by Catholic taxpayers and he believed people had the right to free speech on views that differed from his.

“But in a national broadcaster, to have an overwhelming presentation of one view, only one view, I think that’s a betrayal of national interest,” he said.

Despite the evidence of one man being responsible for Cardinal Pell’s imprisonment, Cardinal Pell said he never felt anger towards the complainant, instead “a bit sorry for him”.

Cardinal Pell said he didn’t know the man’s motivation but said it was possible the complainant had mixed up an actual incident of abuse.

[Opinion] Pell's acquittal ignites media and publishing firestorm

Brisbane Times

April 11, 2020

By Andrew Hornery

All eyes will be on Cardinal George Pell's first exclusive interview fresh from Barwon prison with his most ardent of supporters, conservative commentator Andrew Bolt.

The holy man's sensational acquittal this week has had many implications across the Australian media and publishing worlds which have followed the Cardinal's extraordinary story over the past few years, but from a less favourable perspective than Bolt, whose interview will air next Tuesday.

Pell has consistently maintained his innocence and until Tuesday morning had been serving a six-year jail sentence after he was convicted in 2018 of abusing two choir boys in the 1990s while he was the archbishop of Melbourne.

Pell's jail diaries detail 'petty humiliations', job as roof gardener

Brisbane Times

April 14, 2020

Cardinal George Pell has released excerpts from his prison diary, which discuss aspects of his life in jail including the attitudes of corrections staff, humiliations he endured and his brief job as a gardener.

The diaries, parts of which were published in The Australian newspaper on Tuesday, detail Cardinal Pell's thoughts and activities during more than 400 days in prison.

The cardinal was last week acquitted of child sex offences and released from Barwon Prison near Geelong.

He wrote that prison staff were "courteous and decent" during his time at the Melbourne Assessment Prison in West Melbourne and at Barwon, but that he had to sometimes endure "petty humiliations" such as wearing handcuffs and being strip-searched.

[Opinion] A tale of two Pope Francises

National Catholic Reporter

April 14, 2020

By Jamie Manson

For those of us seeking hope in our world and in our church, last week was the best of times, and it was the worst of times. It was a tale of two Pope Francises.

One Francis was the pope of the pandemic, inspiring hope in word and action. Whether his offerings were small and delightful, like his Skype chats, or grand and powerful, like his standing alone on a stage in a torch-lit, St. Peter's Square leading the Way of the Cross on Good Friday, his presence touched and comforted millions.

Francis was similarly moving in an interview in Commonweal magazine last week, describing how he is praying more than usual and reflecting on the ways he can be closer to the people of God. He shared his hope that we will embrace the pandemic as a moment of metanoia that will help us "see the poor" and "contemplate the natural world," moving ahead into a global economy that is more human

[News Release] UPDATE: Diocesan Review Board Concludes Investigation of Rev. Msgr. Raymond A. Barton, Retired

Diocese of Richmond

April 13, 2020

Retired Priest Name Not Added to Diocesan List of Clergy with a Credible and Substantiated Allegation of Child Sexual Abuse

Following a lengthy investigation by the Diocesan Review Board, Bishop Barry C. Knestout of the Catholic Diocese of Richmond has determined that Msgr. Raymond A. Barton, a retired priest of the diocese, will not have his name added to the diocesan list of clergy with a credible and substantiated allegation of child sexual abuse.

On Feb. 14, 2020, the Catholic Diocese of Richmond announced it had received a report of allegations of child sexual abuse against the retired priest. The information was brought to the diocese by a representative of a deceased victim. When notified of the allegations, the diocese reported the information to law enforcement authorities. (Read initial statement.)

In accordance with the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People, the diocese conducted an internal investigation of the allegations involving Msgr. Barton. The information gathered was presented to the Diocesan Review Board which reported its findings and recommendation to Bishop Knestout. The bishop concluded that while the allegation was credible, it could not be substantiated.

[News Release] New Appointment for Pastor of St. Joseph in Martinsville and St. Francis of Assisi in Rocky Mount

Diocese of Richmond

April 13, 2020

The Most Reverend Barry C. Knestout, Bishop of Richmond, has announced the following clergy appointment:

Reverend Mark White, from pastor of St. Joseph in Martinsville and St. Francis of Assisi in Rocky Mount to chaplain to the various prisons, state and federal, within the diocesan bounds. The appointment is effective April 13, 2020.

A new pastor will be named to both parishes in the foreseeable future. During this time of transition, Father Kevin Segerblom, Episcopal Vicar for the Western Vicariate, will oversee the pastoral care and administrative duties of the two parishes.

Previously, Bishop Knestout addressed the faithful of the Martinsville and Rocky Mount parishes in a letter dated March 19, 2020, regarding the concerns and circumstances surrounding Fr. Mark White. The letter was published and can be read here: https://bit.ly/2Rqcen3

Bishop makes good on threat to remove Father Mark White as priest in Martinsville, Rocky Mount


April 13, 2020

By Bill Wyatt

Father Mark White has been removed as pastor of St. Joseph Catholic Church in Martinsville and St. Francis of Assisi in Rocky Mount, one day after Easter Sunday.

In a letter dated Monday to the parishioners of both churches, Bishop of Richmond Barry Knestout said the matter was done and named a temporary replacement.

Priest with blog critical of church’s abuse handling removed

Associated Press

April 14, 2020

A priest in Virginia was removed from his post after maintaining a blog critical of the Catholic Church’s handling of the sexual abuse scandal.

Rev. Mark White, whose blog reaches more than 1 million readers, was removed on Monday, news outlets reported. He served as the priest of St. Joseph Catholic Church in Martinsville and St. Francis of Assisi in Rocky Mount.

White has since been reassigned as chaplain to different state and federal prisons within the dioceses, the Catholic Diocese of Richmond said in a news release Monday.

April 13, 2020

The day George Pell walked free

The Guardian

April 8, 2020

The Reckoning podcast

Laura Murphy-Oates speaks to David Marr and Melissa Davey about the high court decision that quashed George Pell’s child sexual abuse convictions

80-year-old Hearst priest accused of additional historical sex offenses

The Daily Press

April 9, 2020

An 80-year-old priest from Hearst faces additional charges stemming from allegations of a historical sexual assault.

The Ontario Provincial Police say the offenses are alleged to have occurred in Hearst over a period between 1976 and 1985.

As a result of the investigation launched Feb. 26, Fernand Villeneuve was charged with one count of sexual assault, one count of acting with gross indecency and one count of indecent assault on a female.

Villeneuve was also previously charged with multiple sexual offences involving a minor.

What you need to know about protecting children in your church

The Christian Post

April 13, 2020

By Thom S. Rainer

Is child abuse really a problem in our culture? Absolutely, the problem is real. About 686,000 children were abused in the United States in 2012, and over 1,600 children died from abuse the same year.

Approximately 1 in 4 women and 1 in 6 men have been sexually abused as a child. From a biblical perspective, we live in a hyper-sexual culture in which children are exposed to a repeated and perverse narrative. Pastors and church leaders who ignore this issue are disregarding one of the most dangerous problems affecting children.

Does child abuse actually occur in the church? Yes. Victims of abuse are in your church. Since approximately 25% of women and 17% of men have suffered abuse at some point in their childhood, abuse victims are coming to your church every week. Though specific statistics concerning the number of cases involving sex abuse in the church are hard to obtain, insurance companies handle hundreds of claims a year in which a pastor, staff person, or volunteer is accused of sexual abuse. The problem is real in the church just as it is in the greater culture.

Official: NFL’s Saints emails on clergy crisis should stay secret

The Associated Press

April 10, 2020

Judge in case involving Archdiocese of New Orleans will make final decision

Hundreds of emails detailing the New Orleans Saints’ efforts to conduct damage control for the area’s Roman Catholic archdiocese amid its clergy sexual abuse crisis should remain shielded from the public, a court official recommended.


Church Militant

April 12, 2020

By Trey Brock

A negligent bunch

What faithful Catholics see today in their Church seems nothing like what the first 2,000 years looked like.

In 2002, the Boston Globe broke reports on the highly ignored homopredator clerical sex abuse crisis running rampant in the Catholic Church. Since then, the cover-up of abuse cases has gotten worse.

This discrepancy has resulted in millions leaving the Church, and for those who decide to stay, Mass on Christmas and Easter makes up the majority of their contribution.

NKY teen to be sentenced for rape, sexual abuse


April 13, 2020

A former Covington Catholic High School student will be sentenced today for rape and sexual abuse.

Joseph Eubank pleaded guilty in January.

Eubank, 17, was charged as an adult for raping a teenage girl and sexually abusing three others.

Guest Commentary: Stressful Times Can Increase Risks for Child Abuse

Falls Church News Press

April 13, 2020

By Nancy Vincent

For the past several years, the City of Falls Church has recognized the month of April as Child Abuse Prevention Month — and 2020 is no different. Over the next several weeks, we’ll continue to remind City residents and neighbors of the many ways they can help protect children from neglect and harm in our community and beyond.

But this year’s Child Abuse Prevention Month is unique, for obvious reasons. Covid-19 has disrupted our ordinary lives. We greet each day with new challenges. All of us have a new sense of fragility — including the parents and families who are now under more stress than ever.

While we celebrate the many homes where children are able to thrive, as individuals, as families, and as a community we should be concerned, supportive, and vigilant about those who may be experiencing difficulties or mistreatment. Even in families that normally have low-stress and a great support network, parents may lash out due to the unusual pressures of these uncertain times.

Child sex abuse in Pakistan’s religious schools is endemic

Associated Press

April 13, 2020

By Kathy Gannon

Muhimman proudly writes his name slowly, carefully, one letter at a time, grinning broadly as he finishes. He’s just 11 years old and was a good student who had dreams of being a doctor.

School frightens him now. Earlier this year, a cleric at the religious school he faithfully attended in the southern Punjab town of Pakpattan took him into a washroom and tried to rape him. Muhimman’s aunt, Shazia, who wanted only her first name used, said she believes the abuse of young children is endemic in Pakistan’s religious schools. She said she has known the cleric, Moeed Shah, since she was a little girl and describes him as an habitual abuser who used to ask little girls to pull up their shirts.

“He has done wrong with boys and also with two or three girls,” Shazia said, recalling one girl the cleric brutalized so badly he broke her back.

An investigation by The Associated Press found dozens of police reports, known here as First Information Reports, alleging sexual harassment, rape and physical abuse by Islamic clerics teaching in madrassas or religious schools throughout Pakistan, where many of the country’s poorest study. The AP also documented cases of abuse through interviews with law enforcement officials, abuse victims and their parents. The alleged victims who spoke for this story did so with the understanding only their first names would be used.

Why George Pell walked free

The Guardian

April 8, 2020


In a historic decision, the high court has quashed the child sexual abuse convictions of Cardinal George Pell. The most senior Catholic in the world to have been found guilty of child sexual abuse, has walked free from prison. In this episode of Full Story, David Marr and Melbourne bureau chief Melissa Davey analyse the high court decision

What’s next for George Pell

The Saturday Paper

April 11-17, 2020

By Rick Morton

While the High Court this week quashed the cardinal’s conviction for child sexual abuse, there remain several fronts on which the legal battle may continue.

Cardinal George Pell left Victoria’s Barwon prison a free man on Tuesday, but there was no great crescendo at the end of the long and bitter legal fight, just a moment of startling grace from the man who accused him of assault.

“I respect the decision of the High Court. I accept the outcome,” read the statement from Witness J, issued at 12.20am on Wednesday.

“… I would like to reassure child sexual abuse survivors that most people recognise the truth when they hear it.

“They know the truth when they look it in the face. I am content with that.”

ABC skirts public duty to fairly cover Pell, analyse Victorian justice system

The Australian

April 13, 2020

Were it run by a real editor, as its managing director is meant to be, the ABC would have given more prominence to last Tuesday’s High Court rejection of a jury verdict against Cardinal George Pell.

Yet on Tuesday on ABC local radio, News Radio and Radio ­National it was hard until noon to find a mention that the High Court’s verdict was a unanimous 7-0. Coverage on ABC TV news and 7.30 was far from fulsome in acknowledging the failures of the Victorian judicial and law enforcement systems, let alone the corporation’s own missteps. ABC 7.30 ran a once-over-lightly, six-minute item. The 7pm TV bulletin in Melbourne failed to mention the verdict was unanimous.

Managing director David Anderson and head of news Gaven Morris should have made sure in advance that news editors knew they were expected to treat the judgment with appropriate weight. They should have expected the decision from the moment they read the powerful dissenting Victorian Appeals Court decision by Justice Mark Weinberg.

Yet on Twitter that afternoon ABC journalists were insisting the ruling did not make Pell innocent. It most certainly made him innocent of the charges laid by Victoria Police: that the nation’s most senior Catholic cleric, in his first months as archbishop of Melbourne, abused two choirboys in the sacristy of St Patrick’s Cathedral after either his first or second Sunday mass there as archbishop and weeks later in public grabbed the genitals of one of the boys.

The lack of grooming and public nature of the alleged crimes should have raised alarm bells for editors, reporters, book publishers and police investigators. Where was the evidence of the long-term grooming of a child that usually occurs before abuse by a trusted priest? Why would Pell, having just ascended to high office, risk everything with two boys he did not know? Their parents could have been police for all he knew.

Andrew Bolt in the News Corp tabloids on Thursday discussed false allegations against Pell that have fallen over in court. Some were first aired on ABC 7.30 by Louise Milligan as early as 2015. Others were made by people who had simply seen alleged incidents mentioned on 7.30.

In the lead-up to Pell’s acquittal, the ABC ran a three-part series, Revelation, by Sarah Ferguson. Promotion for the series claimed, falsely, that its third episode included many new revelations about Pell. This episode was removed from ABC iview and its website last week to be re-edited.

Guardian Australia media writer Amanda Meade wrote last Thursday: “The broadcaster responded to the decision by the High Court to quash Pell’s convictions by pulling the third episode …” Meade quoted an ABC spokesman saying, “the ABC has temporarily removed episode three of Revelation from its platforms while updating its content”.

“The ABC has — and will continue to — report accurately and without fear or favour on stories that are in the public interest, including this one. We stand by our reporters and our stories.”

Sexual Abuse Survivors React to Cardinal Pell's Acquittal

Ms. Magazine

April 10, 2020

By Zach Hiner, Executive Director of SNAP

On Monday, justices on Australia’s highest court decided to overturn a unanimous guilty verdict and free a man convicted of sexually abusing two young boys.

The news rocked the survivor community worldwide.

There is no shying away from the fact that the decision to overturn the conviction of Cardinal George Pell was a gut punch for survivors of clergy sexual abuse. The Pell case saw testimony from twelve witnesses, including the lone surviving victim. More accusers came later forward in the press and provided excruciating details of how the Cardinal manipulated them.

The detailed descriptions—like the pretext of chasing twenty cents in the priest’s swimming trunks in a community pool, being forced to fondle him in the process—cannot be fabricated. This is particularly true when more than one accuser reports similar assaults.

Utah Catholic Bishop Talks About ‘Beyond Wonderful’ Meeting With Pope Francis


April 12, 2020

By Carole Mikita

“Experience the Christ who is alive in their hearts, the Christ who loves, the Christ who saves.” That was the message on Easter Sunday from the Most Rev. Bishop Oscar Solis.

A few months ago, the bishop of the Diocese of Salt Lake City had an experience he described as “beyond wonderful” — an audience with Pope Francis.

“Excitement may not be a word that can describe my personal experience,” he said.

West Virginia Sexual Abuse Survivors Now Have More Time to Seek Justice

The Legal Examiner (law firm blog)

April 12, 2020

By Joseph H. Saunders

In a growing national trend, West Virginia has become the latest state to pass legislation reducing barriers to justice for victims of sexual assault. West Virginia House Bill 4559 effectively gives those who have been sexually assaulted or abused more time to sue their abuser for damages in a civil lawsuit.

The bill extends the civil statute of limitations (SOL) to sue a perpetrator from age 22 to age 36, or 4 years from discovery of the abuse, whichever is later. The bill also extends the civil SOL against other individuals or organizations who aided, abetted or concealed the abuse from age 20 to age 36. Governor Jim Justice signed the bill into law on March 25, 2020, paving the way for many more survivors to seek the damages to which they may be entitled.

In Unprecedented Numbers, U.S. Bishops Named in Lawsuits and Why It Matters

The Open Tabernacle (blog)

April 7, 2020

By Betty Clermont

(Warning. This report includes graphic language that may trigger bad reactions in those who have been sexually abused.)

Since March 2019, 15 bishops (see below) have been named in lawsuits either as perpetrators of sexual abuse or for covering up the sexual assaults of others. This is important because while “priests were raping boys and girls, the men of God who were responsible for them not only did nothing; they hid it all. For decades, monsignors, auxiliary bishops, bishops, archbishops, cardinals were protected; many were promoted,” stated a 2018 Pennsylvania grand jury report.

Thousands of American priests have been sued but relatively few U.S. bishops have been identified by name in court proceedings. “For true bishop accountability to occur, two things must happen: 1) there must be a full account of the bishops’ responsibility for the sexual abuse crisis and 2) bishops who have caused the abuse of children and vulnerable adults must be held accountable,” leaders of the online database, BishopAccountability.org, concluded.

This is happening under civil law and not by the Church. “Never before have so many states acted in near-unison to lift the restrictions that once shut people out if they didn’t bring claims of childhood sex abuse by a certain age, often their early 20s,” the Associated Press reported.

Delays Expected In Sex Abuse Lawsuits

The Post-Journal

April 13, 2020

By John Whittaker

Even without a Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceeding by the Diocese of Buffalo, plaintiffs alleging sexual abuse by priests would be facing at least a two-year wait for courts to hear their cases.

A state Supreme Court Justice in Erie County has ruled that an unnamed man who attended the Holy Apostles Parish should receive a default judgement against Mark M. Friel, the priest who abused the plaintiff as a child. Damages can’t be decided in the case, though, until cases proceed against the Diocese of Buffalo and Holy Apostles Parish because they hired, retained and supervised Friel.

Judge Deborah A. Chimes of state Supreme Court in Erie County, ruled in January that the plaintiff, who filed a Child Victims Act lawsuit LG 1 Doe v. Mark M. Friel et. al against former Catholic priest Mark M. Friel, the Catholic Diocese of Buffalo and Holy Apostles Parish of Jamestown, formerly known as Ss. Peter and Paul Roman Catholic Church in August, should receive damages for the abuse he suffered. The man alleges that he was molested in the rectory at Ss. Peter and Paul Roman Catholic Church from Jan. 1, 1985 through Dec. 31, 1986.

Cardinal Pell speaks of 'scourge' of meths in prison

The Tablet

By Mark Bowling

April 13, 2020

Cardinal George Pell has revealed he is ashamed of the Catholic Church for the way it dealt with the “cancer” of child sex abuse in the past.

“There are two levels. One is the crimes itself, … and then treating it so inadequately for so long,” Cardinal Pell has said after his acquittal and release from prison, in an interview to be broadcast worldwide by Sky News tomorrow.

Cardinal Pell has spoken about the scourge of child abuse in the Church and how the many failures to act still haunt him today.

“I totally condemn those sorts of activities, and the damage that it’s done to people,” he said.

April 12, 2020

Official: Saints emails on clergy crisis should stay secret

Associated Press

April 9, 2020

By Jim Mustian

Hundreds of emails detailing the New Orleans Saints’ efforts to conduct damage control for the area’s Roman Catholic archdiocese amid its clergy sexual abuse crisis should remain shielded from the public, a court official recommended Thursday.

The recommendation by a court special master came almost three months after The Associated Press urged the release of the confidential emails as a matter of public interest. Those emails emerged as part of a lawsuit against the church and it will ultimately be up to a judge in that case to make the final decision.

Releasing the messages would only “embarrass or bring under public scrutiny” those who tried to help the Archdiocese of New Orleans as it sought to weather the fallout from the clergy abuse crisis, retired Judge Carolyn Gill-Jefferson wrote in a five-page filing.

She agreed with church leaders and the Saints that the communications were private, writing that “the exchange of information during discovery is to be held within the confines of the pending litigation and outside of public view.”

Priest convicted of 1980s child rapes in Ipswich dies

The Salem News

April 8, 2020

By Julie Manganis

Ipswich - A retired Catholic priest serving an eight- to 10-year prison term for sexually abusing two boys at an Ipswich summer camp in the 1980s has died, state officials confirmed Wednesday.

Rev. Richard McCormick, 79, was serving his sentence at the Massachusetts Treatment Center in Bridgewater, where, according to the Department of Corrections, an outbreak of COVID-19 has led to the deaths of three inmates.

One of those inmates has been described as a man in his 70s who was taken to a hospital after suffering a stroke and who tested positive for COVID-19 following his death. A statement released by the DOC said the inmate had been in state custody since 2014 and at the treatment center since 2016.

But a DOC spokesman said that due to the medical privacy provisions of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, he could not confirm the specific identity of the inmate.

McCormick was convicted at trial in 2014 of five counts of child rape involving a boy who attended a summer camp for underprivileged children at the site of the former Sacred Heart Retreat in Ipswich in the early 1980s. He subsequently received a second state prison term after pleading guilty to raping another boy at the same camp in the early 1980s.

The victim, now in his 40s, came forward after realizing that the priest he knew as "Father Dick" was actually McCormick, after seeing his name and photo in an online directory of priests.

Pandemic, border crackdown hamper Catholics’ aid to migrants

Associated Press via The Journal

April 10, 2020

By David Crary

Nogales, Mexico - For years, Catholic-led, U.S.-based nonprofits have been at the forefront of efforts to support migrants and asylum-seekers along the Mexican border. Tough new border policies, coupled with the COVID-19 pandemic, have drastically changed their work, much of which now takes place in Mexico.

The once heavy flow of undocumented border-crossers has dwindled as the Trump administration enforces a new virus-related ban on top of its Migration Protection Protocols that already had forced thousands of asylum-seekers to wait in Mexico.

One of the most prominent Catholic migrant-rights activists along the border is Sister Norma Pimentel, who runs a respite center for beleaguered migrants in McAllen, Texas.

At a time when many Roman Catholic dioceses were distracted by financial problems, school closures and ripple effects of the clergy sex-abuse crisis, she became widely known for her passionate advocacy and often traveled to far-flung speaking engagements.

A test of faith for beleaguered priest who needs a liver transplant

Buffalo News

April 11, 2020

By Scott Scanlon

Father John Mack Jr. prefers a certain kind of donor for the liver transplant he needs.

“Somebody who has prayed every day and never drank a drop liquor.”

He also hopes for a living donor, someone willing to give part of a liver that will grow to full size in weeks.

Yet Mack, a man of devout faith, is under no illusions.

Circumstances in just the past few weeks explain why.

The Catholic Diocese of Buffalo, in which he has served for 35 years, filed for bankruptcy protection in late February to lighten the financial burden of a priest sex abuse scandal.

Diocesan leaders also announced they will close Christ the King Seminary, where Mack lives and works as chairman of the East Aurora school's pastoral theology department.

Survivors 'in shock' after High Court quashes George Pell's sexual abuse convictions

SBS News

April 7, 2020

By Jarni Blakkarly

Groups representing survivors of childhood sexual abuse and the father of the deceased choirboy at the centre of Cardinal George Pell’s trial have expressed disbelief and frustration at the High Court’s ruling.

National Practice Leader at Shine Lawyers Lisa Flynn, who represented the father of the deceased choirboy said her client was “gutted” by the outcome.

“Our client is currently in shock. He is struggling to comprehend the decision by the High Court of Australia. He says he no longer has faith in our country’s criminal justice system,” Ms Flynn said.

A full bench of the High Court of Australia unanimously decided to quash the conviction of Cardinal George Pell on Tuesday, meaning he will walk free from prison.

The 78-year-old cardinal was serving a six-year prison sentence after being found guilty for abusing two choir boys at St Patrick’s Cathedral in the 1990s when he was Archbishop of Melbourne.

Easter message: In the suffering, we find redemption

The Australian

April 11, 2020

By Cardinal George Pell

Every person suffers. None escapes all the time. Everyone is confronted with a couple of questions. What should I do in this situation? Why is there so much evil and suffering? And why did this happen to me? Why the coronavirus pandemic?

The sexual abuse crisis damaged thousands of victims. From many points of view the crisis is also bad for the Catholic Church, but we have painfully cut out a moral cancer and this is good. So too some would see COVID-19 as a bad time for those who claim to believe in a good and rational God, the Supreme Love and Intelligence, the Creator of the universe. And it is a mystery; all suffering, but especially the massive number of deaths through plagues and wars. But Christians can cope with suffering better than the atheists can explain the beauty and happiness of life.

And many, most understand the direction we are heading when it is pointed out that the only Son of God did not have an easy run and suffered more than his share. Jesus redeemed us and we can redeem our suffering by joining it to His and offering it to God.

I have just spent 13 months in jail for a crime I didn’t commit, one disappointment after another. I knew God was with me, but I didn’t know what He was up to, although I realised He has left all of us free. But with every blow it was a consolation to know I could offer it to God for some good purpose like turning the mass of suffering into spiritual energy.

Pell verdict paves way for inquiry reports

Australian Associated Press via 7 News

April 7, 2020

By Megan Neil

[See also the currently redacted versions of the Ballarat and Melbourne case study reports.]

A royal commission's findings about Cardinal George Pell's handling of child sexual abuse complaints won't be released for weeks.

The High Court's decision to overturn Cardinal Pell's criminal convictions paves the way for blacked-out sections of two reports from the child abuse royal commission to be released.

Federal Attorney-General Christian Porter said the reports should be released without redactions where possible.

He said his office first needed to check with Victorian authorities to ensure the information would not prejudice any future investigations or prosecutions.

"That could take a number of weeks," Mr Porter told reporters in Canberra on Tuesday.

"But my strong preference is to have as much of the information that has been redacted, tabled with less redaction.

"There is a process now for me to go through with Victorian authorities to determine whether those redactions can be lifted or modified without doing any prejudice to any future proceedings."

Redacted versions of the royal commission's reports into the Catholic Church's handling of child abuse allegations in the Melbourne archdiocese and Ballarat diocese were released in December 2017.

Montco lawyer, Cosby prosecutor, joins Philadelphia firm to represent sex abuse victims

The Mercury

April 9, 2020

By Carl Hessler Jr.


Philadelphia - Driven by her passion for advocating for crime victims, a former Montgomery County prosecutor who helped put Bill Cosby behind bars has joined a Philadelphia law firm where she will focus on representing sexual abuse survivors in the civil arena.

Kristen M. Feden, of Abington, who was part of the team that successfully prosecuted Cosby on sex assault charges in 2018, has joined the Saltz, Mongeluzzi & Bendesky firm.

“She has the skill and she has the passion for this. This has been a focus of her professional career. Many victims of sexual abuse and sexual assault have had their trust violated and they need an attorney who they can trust, who in a real heartfelt way, is there to support a victim and has the trial skills to be able to litigate the case successfully,” Robert J. Mongeluzzi, president of the firm, said during a recent interview.

Mongeluzzi called Feden “one of America’s most successful and renowned sex crime prosecutors,” adding she “helped kick start the #MeToo movement” with her role in the successful prosecution and conviction of Cosby.

ABC backs its reporting on George Pell after Andrew Bolt accuses it of a witch-hunt

The Guardian

April 7, 2020

By Amanda Meade

News Corp columnists and other Pell supporters say the national broadcaster conducted a ‘crusade’ against the cardinal

The ABC has backed its journalists and its reporting on George Pell after the cardinal’s release from jail prompted a spate of attacks on the national broadcaster by Pell supporters.

Minutes after Pell’s conviction was quashed by the high court, the News Corp columnist Andrew Bolt posted a blog saying the cardinal was innocent and pointing the finger at the ABC for allegedly conducting a witch-hunt to have him convicted.

Bolt, who has an exclusive interview with Pell on his Sky News program at a date yet to be announced, said the national broadcaster had “with one voice persecuted him for years with false claims and never once had a presenter express doubt about this crusade to destroy him”.

“Shame on the ABC, our national broadcaster, for hysterically pushing damaging claims against Pell that all turned out to be too absurd to lead to charges, or too flimsy to go to trial, or, now, too weak to survive an appeal,” he wrote in his column in the Herald Sun.

Why the ABC's reporting of the George Pell case wasn't a witch-hunt


April 10, 2020

By Craig McMurtrie

From the first trial that resulted in a hung jury, to a sweeping suppression order that set the national media and the courts on a collision course, the Pell case has polarised and transfixed the nation, and in light of the High Court ruling there is now opportunity for reflection.

ABC editorial policies make very clear that it is the job of the public broadcaster's journalists to report "without fear or favour, even when that might be uncomfortable or unpopular".

Cardinal George Pell himself told the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse: "My own position is that you never disbelieve a complaint. But then it has to be assessed to see just whether it is valid and true and plausible. But the starting point must never be that they are disbelieved, that the allegations are taken very seriously and examined."

That is what ABC journalists have been doing and will continue to do.

The Herald Sun first reported that there was a police investigation into Cardinal Pell, but it was the ABC's Louise Milligan who met the former choirboy at the centre of the now quashed case against Cardinal Pell and it was Milligan who found and interviewed the family of the second alleged victim, who had died of a heroin overdose.

This was the most senior Catholic figure in Australia, the third most powerful man in the Vatican, in a church already rocked by a staggering number of historic child sexual abuse accusations.

It was unquestionably a legitimate story, one that had to be pursued.

And for Louise, a multi-award-winning journalist, it was the toughest assignment of her career and certainly one of the saddest.

Why the Vatican might want to send a thank-you note to Australia’s High Court


April 7, 2020

By John L. Allen Jr.

Rome - Obviously, the primary beneficiary of Tuesday’s decision by Australia’s High Court to overturn the sexual abuse conviction of Cardinal George Pell is Pell himself. The 78-year-old prelate was definitively acquitted and is now a free man after more than 400 days in prison, mostly in solitary confinement.

For all those presently chafing after a few weeks of a coronavirus quarantine, Pell’s forced isolation for a much longer stretch, and in much less pleasant conditions, may help put things in perspective.

A close second in terms of who benefits from the ruling, however, is the Vatican, which effectively got an early Easter present.

Had things gone the other way, the Vatican would have been compelled to launch its own canonical investigation of Pell, which could have led to his being expelled from the clerical state like ex-cardinal and ex-priest Theodore McCarrick. Judges in Rome would have had to examine the evidence, and likely would have reached the same decision as their Australian colleagues, which was that “the jury, acting rationally on the whole of the evidence, ought to have entertained a doubt as to the applicant’s guilt.”

Cardinal Pell: In defence of trial by jury


April 10, 2020

By Luke Gittos

Pell is entitled to his innocence. But we should be wary of judges overturning decisions made by juries.

Earlier this week, the Australian High Court quashed the conviction of Cardinal George Pell. Pell was convicted in December 2018 on five charges of sexual assault against two 13-year-old boys. He was sentenced to six years in prison.

The case has a long history. In 2013, police in Victoria launched an investigation into Pell. At that time, there were apparently no accusers. A number of witnesses and allegations later emerged. One witness, who became known as witness J, claimed that Pell abused him and another boy following a Sunday Mass in 1996. The second boy died of a heroin overdose in 2014 and retracted his allegation against Pell shortly before his death. There are a number of other allegations, some of which are proceeding in civil courts, though it was witness J’s evidence that was eventually used to convict Pell.

The assault allegedly occurred at St Patrick’s Cathedral in Melbourne. Witness J claimed that he and another boy had trespassed into the sacristy section of the church, which was off-limits to the public. According to J, when Pell found them he proceeded to commit sexual violence against both of them, while still dressed in his vestments.

April 11, 2020

11 issues the state Legislature could still take up this year

City & State New York

April 10, 2020

By Julia Agos

Although the legislative session is in limbo, here’s what state lawmakers want to address.

The New York state legislative session is “effectively over,” at least according to Gov. Andrew Cuomo. After passing a $177 billion state budget in early April, lawmakers are doing their jobs remotely due to the spread of the new coronavirus and the rising number of COVID-19 cases and deaths in the state.

But state Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins said that the body could convene as needed, raising the possibility of further legislative activity up through the session’s originally scheduled end date of June 2. Other lawmakers have flatly rejected Cuomo’s suggestion that the session is done, saying it’s not up to the governor. “First of all, we have three branches, bro,” state Sen. Gustavo Rivera said. “We have three. And therefore we get to decide when we go on.”

If the state Senate and Assembly do reconvene, here’s a list of bills and issues that could be at the top of the agenda.

Budget cuts

As part of the budget, state lawmakers authorized Cuomo’s budget director to adjust spending throughout the year in response to projected shortfalls. The Aid to Localities budget bill included language that gives the state budget director, Robert Mujica, the authority to make changes if updated revenue estimates show the budget to be unbalanced – which is likely, given an expected shortfall of $10 billion or more due to a major economic slowdown resulting from the coronavirus pandemic. The budget director could then withhold a certain amount from localities, including school aid. The Legislature would then have 10 days to respond to cuts, should they decide to.

“If revenues are short then we will put together a package of reductions, we'll send that to the Legislature, they will have 10 days to review it and adopt jointly an alternative proposal,” Mujica told NY1’s Errol Louis earlier this month. “If there is an alternative proposal that works we'll execute on that proposal or in the absence of the Legislature acting then we will execute on the original proposal.”

Recreational marijuana

State lawmakers failed to reach a deal with the governor before the budget deadline, putting legalized recreational marijuana on hold again. Amid the coronavirus outbreak, pot legalization was “too much, too little time,” according to Cuomo. As City & State reported this month, lawmakers wanted significant tax revenues set aside to reinvest in minority communities disproportionately targeted for marijuana offenses, while the governor wanted more flexibility by avoiding specific earmarks.

Extending the Child Victims Act

Some lawmakers wanted to add a one-year extension to last year’s Child Victums Act, which suspended the statute of limitations for victims of child sex abuse during a one-year window ending in August 2020. When the state court system halted all non-essential proceedings last month, including submissions under the Child Victims Act, supporters said the new extension would be critical. “It's always been prudent to extend the CVA's revival window by another year, matching similar policies in progressive states like California, New Jersey and Hawaii,” state Sen. Brad Hoylman, a sponsor of the original law and the proposed exension, said in a statement last month. “Now, the massive unexpected interruption to our judicial system makes the need for extending the CVA more urgent than ever.”

Alleged victim claims he was sexually abused by a priest at St. Ann Church in Metairie in the 80s

Fox 8 WVUE

April 8, 2020

By Kimberly Curth

There are serious allegations against the Archdiocese of New Orleans in a new lawsuit filed in Civil Court this week. An alleged victim claims he was sexually abused by a priest at St. Ann Church in Metairie in the early 1980s.

He says the abuse started when he was just 10 years old while he was an altar boy. The lawsuit identifies his abuser as Father James C. Collery.

According to the filing, during his time at St. Ann, Collery said masses in rotation with now Archbishop Gregory Aymond.

“It reads like a John Grisham novel. It’s got some very sensationalized things and Gregory Aymond, the Archbishop, seems to be a fact witness because he was around at the same time, at the same church, same mass, so very interesting case,” Fox 8 Legal Analyst, Joe Raspanti said.

Attorneys for the alleged victim say Collery started molesting boys at St. Ann almost immediately. But, those attorneys say the Archdiocese should have known that Collery was a danger to children before he sexually abused their client. The lawsuit also claims the Archdiocese didn’t report Collery to the police while he was still alive.

There are 12 unmentioned victims in the Pell verdict: the jurors

Sydney Morning Herald

April 8, 2020

By Malcolm Knox

Whenever the criminal justice system is able to resume empanelling new juries, the High Court has given potential jurors a new reason for being excused from their duty: that they are wasting their time.

For the best part of 800 years, juries have had a single function in criminal trials that higher courts could not meddle in. The jury was the finder of fact. In Australian law, this began to change in the 1994 case of M v The Queen, when the High Court said an appeal court could ask "whether it thinks that upon the whole of the evidence it was open to the jury to be satisfied beyond reasonable doubt that the accused was guilty". Victoria’s Criminal Procedure Act gave statutory back-up to this evolution of the courts’ role in 2009.

In the trial in which George Pell was found guilty, only 12 people saw and heard the 50-plus witnesses questioned, and only those 12 people were qualified to say whether or not Pell committed crimes. All of those 12 decided, beyond reasonable doubt, that he did. And yet their months of service, and their first-hand experience, has been overturned by the High Court not for reasons of law, but because the seven justices would have come to a different conclusion. Those jurors are entitled to ask what, then, was the point of the original trial?

Need to prove guilt beyond reasonable doubt protects us all

Irish Times

April 10, 2020

By Breda O'Bren

Quashing of Cardinal Pell conviction underlines need for safeguards

Cardinal George Pell’s trial for the sexual abuse of two choirboys divided Australia into two camps – those who were convinced that Pell was the victim of a witch hunt and those who were convinced that he was not only guilty of these crimes but of others too.

By and large, the fact that the full bench of the high court (Australia’s equivalent of our Supreme Court) found unanimously that his conviction should be quashed has not changed the minds of either camp.

Pell was immediately freed from the notorious Barwon maximum-security prison where he had been incarcerated along with serial killers, drug barons and terrorists. Two days before he was freed, three other inmates were hospitalised after abloody brawl, the latest in a string of attacks by inmates on each other. Pell spent 405 days in prison, not all in Barwon but mostly in solitary confinement.

Nor are his troubles over. There are civil cases pending, which have a much lower burden of proof, and questions still to be answered about the way in which he dealt with historical cases of sexual abuse of children by other clergy.

Nonetheless, no matter whether you like or loathe Pell, beyond reasonable doubt is a vital standard to protect all of us.

Hoylman, Rosenthal ask colleagues to return to session to extend Child Victims Act

Legislative Gazette

April 8, 2020

By Erin Hannan

Child abuse victims and their advocates in the Legislature are urging lawmakers to continue to meet in remote sessions to extend the lookback window of the Child Victims Act (CVA) for another year, allowing more time for victims to file legal actions.

The challenges presented by the coronavirus outbreak made it increasingly difficult to file claims and ultimately turned the one-year window to seven months. As New York courts suspended non-essential cases, which include CVA proceedings, advocates and some lawmakers believe extending the window would ensure the rights of survivors.

Although New York health officials and the Governor’s Office are focused on the more than 130,000 positive COVID-19 cases, the Legislature is still technically in session. The Legislature is officially on break until April 20, but when they return, lawmakers are supposed to convene through June 2.

The primary sponsors of the CVA bill, and its extension S.7082/A.9036 – Senator Brad Hoylman, D-Manhattan and Assemblywoman Linda Rosenthal, D-Manhattan, respectively – are asking their fellow lawmakers to return to session digitally after the holiday break to pass an extension on the lookback window that would allow victims to file legal claims against their abusers and their employers until August 14, 2021.

Cardinal Pell reflects on mystery of suffering in Easter message after release

Catholic News Agency via Angelus

April 10, 2020

Cardinal George Pell said Friday that suffering can be offered to God for good, and that Christians see Christ in the suffering, and are obliged to help them. His message came days after his release from prison, and amid the global coronavirus pandemic.

“The sexual abuse crisis damaged thousands of victims. From many points of view the crisis is also bad for the Catholic Church, but we have painfully cut out a moral cancer and this is good. So too some would see COVID-19 as a bad time for those who claim to believe in a good and rational God, the Supreme Love and Intelligence, the Creator of the universe,” Pell wrote in an Easter message published by The Australian April 10.

“It is a mystery; all suffering, but especially the massive number of deaths through plagues and wars. But Christians can cope with suffering better than the atheists can explain the beauty and happiness of life,” the cardinal added.

How do you become, formally, not-a-Catholic? You take the law into your own hands

The Guardian

April 10, 2020

By Sebastian Tesoriero

The church has tried to make it so it can’t be divorced. Yet people do want to leave. In droves

“Are you a Catholic?”

The question eventually surfaces over dinner or drinks in so many conversations: about the child sex abuse royal commission, marriage equality, religious freedom, legalising abortion and euthanasia. About George Pell.

Many of us baptised Catholic have drifted – through boredom, scepticism, disbelief or outright disgust with the Roman church – from Christmas Catholic to census Catholic to lapsed Catholic. Over the decades I’ve been outside the church I’ve also used ex-Catholic, non-practising Catholic and mis-Catholic.

In his statement after being acquitted of child sexual abuse charges by the high court, Pell said his trial was not a referendum on the church. But when you’ve come to realise you’re not identifiably any sort of Catholic and that the church running the show has made itself contemptible to you, how do you cast your vote? How do you become, formally, not-a-Catholic?

The answer isn’t in the help menu of the Vatican’s website.

In fact, the church has moved to close the few openings by which the disaffected could officially register having renounced the faith. In 2006 the Vatican established rules to accommodate the growing number of defectors – as they call them there. Oddly for such a slow-moving institution, the rules were aborted just three years later. Unlike a state with its citizens or a football club with its members, the Vatican would no longer facilitate the initiated leaving its ranks.

‘Prayer has been the great source of strength to me’: Cardinal Pell looks forward to Easter

Catholic News Agency

April 7, 2020

By Ed Condon

After more than 14 months in prison, Cardinal George Pell said he was always hopeful about the High Court decision which acquitted him of all charges and released him from incarceration on April 7.

Shortly after his release from prison, the cardinal told CNA that, while he had kept faith he would be eventually exonerated, he tried not to be “too optimistic.”

On Tuesday morning, the High Court issued its decision, granting Cardinal Pell’s request for special leave to appeal, quashing his convictions for sexual abuse, and ordering that he be acquitted of all charges.

As the decision was announced by the court, several hundred miles away the cardinal watched from his cell in HM Prison Barwon, southwest of Melbourne.

“I was watching the television news in my cell when the news came through,” Pell told CNA, in an exclusive interview shortly after his release on Tuesday.

Melbourne cathedral vandalized after Cardinal Pell acquittal

Catholic News Agency

April 8, 2020

St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Melbourne was vandalized overnight Wednesday, hours after Cardinal George Pell was acquitted by Australia's High Court of a sexual abuse conviction and released from prison.

The door to the cathedral was spray-painted with a cartoon image of a devil, along with the message “ROT IN HELL, PELL.” Other doors were daubed with upside-down crosses and the words “NO JUSTICE,” “PAEDO RAPIST,” and: “The law protects the powerful.”

Archbishop Peter Comensoli of Melbourne told Australian media that while he was upset about the vandalism, he was “not entirely surprised.”

“There remains such strong emotions around all of these matters,” Comensoli told Australian news network 3AW.

April 10, 2020

Cardinal Pell's acquittal stirs abuse survivor memories in Ballarat hometown


April 9, 2020

By Sonali Paul and Jonathan Barrett

A thick line of black tape obscures Cardinal George Pell’s name on a board lauding ordained alumni of St Patrick’s College in the Australian town of Ballarat as coloured ribbons flutter on doors and mailboxes.

The high school in Pell’s home town has no immediate plans to remove the tape despite the former Vatican treasurer’s acquittal this week of the sexual assault of two choirboys in Melbourne in the 1990s.

The High Court’s decision to overturn a lower court’s ruling and clear 78-year-old Pell, releasing him from jail after serving just over a year of a six-year sentence, has stirred painful memories for child sex abuse survivors in Ballarat.

Belinda Coates, deputy mayor of the town that has the unfortunate distinction of being a hotspot of historic child sex abuse by Catholic clergy in Australia, said the decision was tough for survivors who have long feared the stigma and trauma of going public with allegations.

“There’s been shock and disappointment here at the decision,” Coates told Reuters in a telephone interview.

Pell not only grew up and went to school in the former gold mining town, located some 120 km (75 miles) west of Melbourne, but served there as parish priest from 1973 to 1983.

Hundreds of people have made claims against the Catholic church in the Ballarat diocese, a region covering the town and 51 surrounding parishes, over alleged incidents from the mid-1960s to mid-1990s. At least six priests and members of the Christian Brothers religious order have been jailed.

New York Lawmakers Decline Chance to Extend ‘Look-Back Window’ in Child Victims Act

New York Law Journal via Marsh Law Firm

April 7, 2020

State lawmakers took a pass last week on extending a one-year legal window that allowed survivors of child sex abuse to sue over decades-old allegations.

The Child Victims Act, enacted last year, opened up the time frame for victims of child sexual abuse to file lawsuits over claims that were previously barred from court due to the statute of limitations.

The legal window is set to close in August, but New York’s court system is no longer accepting CVA lawsuits under new restrictions spurred by the deadly coronavirus pandemic. The state’s court system has postponed all “nonessential” services and the CVA lawsuits were not listed as essential under an order from Lawrence Marks, the state’s chief administrative judge.

Those orders have effectively placed a hold on new litigation under the act, but the Legislature did not move to lengthen the so-called look-back window in the state budget, which is the keystone legislative package of the year in Albany and is often used as a vehicle for large non-fiscal policy measures.

The coronavirus crisis has upended normal business at the Capitol, but legislative leaders have said they need to continue their work in some fashion. It remains unclear whether legislators will greenlight an extension to the CVA later on this session.

Child Victims Act will not be extended in NY


April 9, 2020

By Olivia Jaquith

Albany, N.Y. - The window for alleged victims of child sexual abuse to seek legal retribution in New York State will end on August 14, despite talks of a possible extension.

Lawmakers in Albany have declined that extension. Governor Cuomo's secretary, Melissa DeRosa, said April 4 there was no conversation about an extension to the legal window in budget talks

However, according to the New York Law Journal, the state court system is no longer accepting Child Victims Act lawsuits, due to the coronavirus pandemic.

New York courts postponed all non-essential services, and these lawsuits are not listed as "essential."

NY lawmakers decline Child Victims Act extension


April 8, 2020

The state's court system postponed all non-essential services and the Child Victims Act lawsuits were not listed as essential.

New York State lawmakers declined an extension of the Child Victims Act.

The legal window is set to close in August, but right now, New York's court system is no longer accepting Child Victims Act lawsuits due to the coronavirus pandemic. The state's court system postponed all non-essential services and the Child Victims Act lawsuits were not listed as essential.

The Child Victims Act allows those who claim to be victims of child sex abuse one year to seek legal retribution in New York State.

Earlier this year, downstate Senator Brad Hoylman proposed a bill that would add another year to that window because of the hundreds of cases that have already been filed.

Hoylman said other states with similar laws gave victims more than a year to file the suits, and he says New York should do the same.

During Governor Cuomo's daily COVID-19 updates, his secretary, Melissa DeRosa, said last week there was no conversation about an extension to the legal window in budget talks.

Holyman told the New York Law Journal state Senate raised the Child Victims Act extension in budget negotiations and was discussed, but it was rejected at some point.

April 9, 2020

Court drops rape, other charges against megachurch leader

Associated Press

April 8, 2020

By Stefanie Dazio

A California appeals court ordered the dismissal of a criminal case Tuesday against a Mexican megachurch leader on charges of child rape and human trafficking on procedural grounds.

Naasón Joaquín García, the self-proclaimed apostle of La Luz del Mundo, has been in custody since June following his arrest on accusations involving three girls and one woman between 2015 and 2018 in Los Angeles County. Additional allegations of the possession of child pornography in 2019 were later added. He has denied wrongdoing.

While being held without bail in Los Angeles, García has remained the spiritual leader of La Luz del Mundo, which is Spanish for “The Light Of The World.” The Guadalajara, Mexico-based evangelical Christian church was founded by his grandfather and claims 5 million followers worldwide.

Civil claims expected against Cardinal George Pell and Catholic church despite acquittal

The Guardian

April 8, 2020

By Ben Smee

Lawyers say the overturning of Pell’s criminal conviction for historical child sexual abuse is unlikely to stop civil lawsuits

The high court acquittal of George Pell is likely to be followed by a string of civil claims against the cardinal and the Catholic church from alleged abuse survivors and their families, lawyers say.

Pell was freed from Victoria’s Barwon prison on Tuesday after the high court allowed his appeal and quashed a conviction for charges related to the alleged sexual assault of two choirboys in 1996. He strenuously denies all allegations.

The father of one of the boys, who has since died, is suing the Catholic church and has said his case will continue despite the high court’s decision to overturn the jury verdict. His lawyer, Lisa Flynn from Shine Lawyers, said such civil cases were not dependent on the outcome of a criminal case.

It is not possible to divorce George Pell's acquittal from the Catholic church's history of child abuse

The Guardian

April 8, 2020

By Francis Sullivan

The bishops should end their obsession with Pell and take up their moral responsibility to victims

ardinal George Pell’s acquittal was legally the correct decision. His relief and that of his family and many supporters will be palpable. He – not the Catholic church – was on trial and the high court has seen fit to ensure justice was served.

But it is not possible to divorce the acquittal from the broader context of the Catholic church’s history of child sexual abuse.

With the matter concluded the Catholic bishops should end their obsession with Pell and take up their moral responsibility to the victims of church perpetrators and those who obfuscated and concealed on their behalf.

Context is everything and perspective even more so. The Catholic church has a shameful and confronting history of the sexual abuse of children. The royal commission made that clear.

How the DPP allowed a sliding door to close on the prosecution of Pell

The Sydney Morning Herald

April 8, 2020

By Chip Le Grand

George Pell’s legal team privately petitioned Victoria's Director of Public Prosecutions two years ago to abandon the criminal proceedings against the cardinal, citing much of the same evidence that convinced the High Court to quash his conviction.

Had the newly appointed DPP, Kerri Judd, QC, taken up this sliding doors moment, it would have exposed her office to public outcry but avoided the injustice of Cardinal Pell spending 13 months in jail for a wrongful conviction.

The Enduring Lesson of the Persecution of Cardinal Pell

National Catholic Register

April 8, 2020

By Father Raymond J. de Souza

COMMENTARY: Does the Church in Australia realize that the wrongful conviction of Cardinal Pell was an example and warning to all Catholics who might be too open about their Catholic faith?

The emphatic acquittal Tuesday of Cardinal George Pell by Australia’s High Court is a moment of opportunity and testing for the Church in Australia. Will they meet the moment?

The acquittal raises serious questions for the Australian criminal justice system, as I wrote about earlier. Consider this one fact: No judge who had a future to worry about sided with Cardinal Pell. Every judge whose future was secure from recriminations for judging fairly sided with the cardinal.

At the Court of Appeal in Victoria, Justice Mark Weinberg was the dissenting judge, whose 200-page dissent utterly demolished the majority opinion, which upheld the jury convictions. Weinberg is a 71-year-old retired judge who is called in for special cases because of his expertise.

Cardinal's acquittal third in six months


April 7, 2020

By Karen Sweeney

Cardinal George Pell's acquittal is the third time in six months Australia's High Court has unanimously overturned a jury verdict.

In each of the decisions since September, the acquittals followed failed bids in state appeal courts.

But lawyers say despite the cluster, those decisions are still rare given the hurdles appeals have to overcome to even get before a full bench of the country's top judges.

At a servo on the road to Sydney, Pell says he's 'very pleased' to be free

The Age

April 8, 2020

By Rachel Eddie, Chip Le Grand and Paul Sakkal

Cardinal George Pell has arrived at a seminary in Sydney after he was freed from jail following the High Court's decision to quash his convictions for child-sex offences.

The 78-year-old spent his first night of freedom at the Carmelite Monastery in Kew, in Melbourne, which survivor advocates decorated in ribbons and childrens' toys overnight.

St Patrick's Cathedral vandalised after George Pell's release

The Age

April 8, 2020

By Jewel Topsfield

Scrawled on doors under a gothic-revival arch at St Patrick’s Cathedral in East Melbourne – where Cardinal George Pell’s accuser had alleged he was sexually abused – was graffiti next to a dripping upside-down cross.

The night after Cardinal Pell was released from jail after the High Court ruled there was reasonable doubt requiring his acquittal of charges that he abused two choirboys in the 1990s, graffiti was also spray-painted on the cathedral forecourt.

Cardinal Pell’s Acquittal Corrected Many Legal Errors

National Catholic Register

April 8, 2020

By Gerard V. Bradley

ANALYSIS: Notre Dame legal scholar Gerard V. Bradley highlights the fundamental legal errors that gave rise to the cardinal’s wrongful conviction.
Gerard V. Bradley

At just past 8pm Eastern time on Monday April 6 — 10 o’clock Tuesday morning in Australia — the Australian High Court unanimously acquitted George Cardinal Pell of sexually assaulting two choirboys in Melbourne’s St. Patrick’s Cathedral, around Christmas time in 1996.

Within hours, Cardinal Pell walked out of Melbourne’s Barwon prison a free man. His time there was spent mostly in solitary confinement. He was not permitted to say Mass while incarcerated. Before the day was done, the cardinal celebrated Mass for some Carmelite sisters. In this more-than-ordinarily doleful Lenten season, it is joyous news indeed.

Pell faces Vatican inquiry into child abuse allegations

The Tablet

April 7, 2020

By Christopher Lamb

Cardinal George Pell now faces a Church inquiry into allegations of sexually assaulting children, even though the High Court of Australia dramatically quashed his earlier convictions.

Following the cardinal’s conviction by a jury, which became public in February 2019, the Vatican opened a case against the Australian prelate pending the final appeal.

Case against Cardinal Pell ‘did not make sense’

The Australian

April 9, 2020

By Tessa Akerman and John Ferguson

Terry Tobin QC said that if the High Court was right about the possibility of the offences not occurring, an innocent man had been sent to jail for 405 days in what was one of the biggest injustices in Australian criminal history.

He said that in the medical field, root-cause analysis of misadventures was conducted, and the same standard of accountability was needed for the force and the OPP after the case was thrown out 7-0.

“That is a very high cost in our liberal democracy,” he said.

Mr Tobin, who provided a character reference for Cardinal Pell, said there were aspects of the case against Cardinal Pell that did not make sense.

“The coppers and the Director of Public Prosecutions would be assisted, I think, by doing a root-cause analysis, by figuring out dispassionately … what happened in this case,” he said.

Pell ruling prompts mixed reaction from church leaders, victims' groups

National Catholic Reporter

April 8, 2020

By Jesse Remedios

The Australian High Court's decision to dismiss charges against Cardinal George Pell has been praised as a successful rendering of justice by some and emphatically denounced by others.

While an immediate reaction from a number of clergy and others associated with the institutional church was largely positive, organizations that support survivors of clergy sexual abuse varied in their reactions, with some harshly criticizing the Australian judicial system and others holding firm that Pell's case still represents progress.

Within hours after Pope Francis offered a prayer at Mass April 7 "for all those who suffer unjust sentences," the Vatican press office released a statement welcoming the court's ruling, NCR reported.

Other Catholic officials excitedly echoed the pope's sentiment.

"I thank God the Australian High Court has overturned Cardinal Pell's conviction," Archbishop Philip Tartaglia of Glasgow, Scotland, wrote on Twitter. "Cardinal Pell has been a friend to the Catholic Church in Scotland and to the Pontifical Scots College in Rome, and I have the deepest respect for him."

Pope Rails Against 'Unjust Sentences' As Cardinal Pell Freed

Agence France Presse

April 7, 2020

Pope Francis decried "unjust" sentences against "innocent" people on Tuesday, hours after Australian Cardinal George Pell walked free from prison following the quashing of his conviction for child sex abuse.

Australia's High Court overturned five counts of sexually abusing two 13-year-old choirboys in the 1990s, bringing to an abrupt end the most high-profile paedophilia case faced by the Catholic Church.

George Pell: Man who accused cardinal says 'case doesn't define me'

BBC News

April 8, 2020

The Australian man who accused Cardinal George Pell of child sexual abuse says he accepts a court's decision to overturn the cleric's conviction.

Cardinal Pell was freed from jail on Tuesday after Australia's top court ruled he had not been proven guilty beyond reasonable doubt.

In 2018, a jury convicted him of abusing two choirboys in the 1990s. The cleric has maintained his innocence.

His accuser said he hoped the case would not "discourage" abuse survivors.

"It is difficult in child sex abuse matters to satisfy a criminal court that the offending has occurred beyond the shadow of a doubt," the man, known as Witness J, said in a statement on Wednesday.

Notice of Credible Allegation of Abuse

Diocese of Kansas City-Saint Joseph

April 5, 2020

Bishop Johnston and diocesan leaders recognize how difficult it can be for a survivor of clergy sexual abuse to come forward and appreciate the great courage it takes in making a report to the Church.

The diocese has received and deemed credible an allegation of sexual abuse of a minor by deceased Father Peter Clement Vatter. This allegation was deemed credible following the diocesan Policy for Response to Allegations, by the Ombudsman, Independent Review Board and Bishop Johnston. The abuse occurred in the late 1940’s when Vatter was assigned as Pastor at Immaculate Conception Parish, Moberly, Missouri. In 1955, the parish was renamed St. Pius X Parish.

Fr. Vatter’s name has been added to the diocese’s List of Diocesan Clergy With Substantiated Abuse Allegations, which can be found on the diocesan website here.

Fr. Vatter was born April 16, 1889 and ordained for the Diocese of St. Joseph on June 13, 1916. In 1956, the dioceses of St. Joseph and Kansas City merged, and new boundaries were created to allow for the establishment of the Diocese of Jefferson City. At the time of the abuse, Immaculate Conception Parish in Moberly was a part of the Diocese of St. Joseph. Immaculate Conception Parish – now St. Pius X Parish has been within the boundaries of the Diocese of Jefferson City since 1956.

Fr. Vatter’s parish assignments included: Assistant pastor at St. Columban Parish, Chillicothe; assistant pastor at St. Boniface Parish, Brunswick; and Pastor, Immaculate Conception, Moberly prior to his death, November 29, 1950.

KC diocese adds priest who died in 1950 to list of those credibly accused of sex abuse

Kansas City Star

April 6, 2020

By Judy L. Thomas

A priest who served in the Diocese of St. Joseph in the 1940s is the latest addition to a list of clergy deemed to have credible allegations of sexual abuse of a minor made against them.

The Kansas City-St. Joseph diocese said the allegation against the Rev. Peter Clement Vatter was substantiated by the diocesan ombudsman, the diocese’s independent review board and Bishop James V. Johnston Jr.

The abuse occurred in the late 1940s, the diocese said, when Vatter was assigned as pastor at Immaculate Conception Parish in Moberly. The parish was renamed St. Pius X Parish in 1955. Vatter died on Nov. 29, 1950.

“Bishop Johnston and diocesan leaders recognize how difficult it can be for a survivor of clergy sexual abuse to come forward and appreciate the great courage it takes in making a report to the Church,” the notice said.

“If you were harmed by Fr. Vatter or any other person who has worked or volunteered for the diocese, no matter how long ago, the diocese wants to provide care and healing resources to you and your family.”

An announcement about Vatter was posted Sunday on the diocese’s website. It brings to 25 the number of credibly accused clergy with ties to the Catholic Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph.

In September, the diocese released a list of 24 priests it said had been credibly accused of sexual abuse of a minor. That list covered the period from 1956 to the present. Most of the priests have had multiple allegations.

Of those 24, 19 were priests of the Kansas City-St. Joseph diocese, three worked in the diocese but are now under the jurisdiction of other dioceses and two served in the diocese but belonged to religious orders. Thirteen of the diocesan priests were deceased, two had been permanently removed from ministry, and four had been laicized, or removed from the clerical state.

‘U’ contacts former student-athletes, asks them to report abuse by late doctor Anderson

Michigan Daily

April 7, 2020

By Claire Hao

The University of Michigan has contacted thousands of former student-athletes who may have been treated by the late University doctor Robert E. Anderson as part of its investigation into Anderson’s alleged abuse, according to a University press release Tuesday morning. Anderson, formerly the director of University Health Services and an athletic team physician until 2003, has been accused by more than 100 individuals of sexual misconduct.

According to the press release, Michigan Athletics will send an email to every living former student-athlete who was on campus between the mid-1960s to the early 2000s, reaching 4,400 of the 6,800 student-athletes who were on campus during that time period. The email will be followed by a letter sent through the U.S. Postal Service intended to reach most of the 6,800 people, with some individuals receiving both forms of communication.

The letter, provided to The Daily by the University’s Office of Public Affairs, is signed by Athletic Director Warde Manuel. In the letter, Manuel informs former student-athletes that the University has contracted the law firm WilmerHale to conduct an independent, outside investigation into the allegations. He encouraged student-athletes to contact WilmerHale and assured them of the investigation’s confidentiality.

Pope Rails Against 'Unjust Sentences' As Cardinal Pell Freed

Agence France Presse via Barrons

April 7, 2020

Pope Francis decried "unjust" sentences against "innocent" people on Tuesday, hours after Australian Cardinal George Pell walked free from prison following the quashing of his conviction for child sex abuse.

Australia's High Court overturned five counts of sexually abusing two 13-year-old choirboys in the 1990s, bringing to an abrupt end the most high-profile paedophilia case faced by the Catholic Church.

The Vatican said it "welcomed" the court's decision, pointing out that 78-year-old Pell had steadfastly maintained his innocence throughout a lengthy court process.

"In these days of Lent, we've been witnessing the persecution that Jesus underwent and how He was judged ferociously, even though He was innocent," the pope said on Twitter.

Pell ruling prompts mixed reaction from church leaders, victims' groups

National Catholic Reporter

April 8, 2020

By Jesse Remedios

The Australian High Court's decision to dismiss charges against Cardinal George Pell has been praised as a successful rendering of justice by some and emphatically denounced by others.

While an immediate reaction from a number of clergy and others associated with the institutional church was largely positive, organizations that support survivors of clergy sexual abuse varied in their reactions, with some harshly criticizing the Australian judicial system and others holding firm that Pell's case still represents progress.

Within hours after Pope Francis offered a prayer at Mass April 7 "for all those who suffer unjust sentences," the Vatican press office released a statement welcoming the court's ruling, NCR reported.

Other Catholic officials excitedly echoed the pope's sentiment.

"I thank God the Australian High Court has overturned Cardinal Pell's conviction," Archbishop Philip Tartaglia of Glasgow, Scotland, wrote on Twitter. "Cardinal Pell has been a friend to the Catholic Church in Scotland and to the Pontifical Scots College in Rome, and I have the deepest respect for him."

Jesuit Fr. Frank Brennan, an Australian lawyer who attended some of the Pell court proceedings, wrote in a column in The Australian — a traditionally center-right newspaper — that there are opposing groups in Australia that revile Pell and hold him in high esteem. However, "those who neither canonise nor despise Pell should be grateful the High Court has delivered justice according to law in this protracted saga," he wrote.

Anne Barrett Doyle, co-director of BishopAccountability.org — a website dedicated to documenting the abuse crisis — said in a statement that although it is "distressing to many survivors, the decision doesn't change the fact that the trial of the powerful cardinal was a watershed."

Cardinal Pell Remains a Polarizing Figure in Australia, Church

Wall Street Journal

April 7, 2020

By Francis X. Rocca and Rachel Pannett

Pell is most senior Catholic cleric ever to be tried for sexually abusing children

The reversal of Cardinal George Pell’s conviction on child sex-abuse charges generated support and anger in Australia and around the world and left leaders of the Catholic Church in a difficult position as they continue to deal with a prolonged crisis over clerical wrongdoing.

Cardinal Pell, a former Vatican finance chief, is the most senior Catholic cleric to be tried for sexually abusing children. The unanimous decision by Australia’s High Court on Tuesday to quash his conviction brings this case to a close. But in the court of public opinion, from church officials to government leaders and victims’ advocates, people remain bitterly divided.

For his detractors, Cardinal Pell is a symbol of the abuse crisis. To his supporters, he is a scapegoat who was targeted by enemies of the church.

He served more than 12 months of a six-year prison sentence after a jury found him guilty of assaulting two 13-year-old choirboys in a Melbourne cathedral while he was the city’s archbishop in the 1990s.

Cardinal Pell Is a Free Man

CNS News - Media Research Center

April 7, 2020

By Bill Donohue

Cardinal George Pell's conviction on five counts of sexual abuse has been unanimously overturned Tuesday by Australia's High Court.

He was never guilty of these charges in the first place and is now a free man. The decision by the High Court cannot be challenged.

Pell has suffered greatly and has been the victim of outrageous lies. He has been smeared, spat upon, and forced to endure solitary confinement for crimes he never committed.

This was a sham from the get-go and should never have made its way through the Australian courts.

Pell was charged with abusing two boys in 1996. One of the boys overdosed on drugs, but not before telling his mother—on two occasions—that Pell never abused him. The other boy's accusation was undercut by the dead boy's account: they were allegedly abused at the same time and place. There were no witnesses to an offense that supposedly took place after Mass in the sacristy of a church.

Declaration on the Liberation of Cardinal G Pell

International Association of Free Thought

April 8, 2020

Cardinal George Pell has been released by Australia’s highest court after unanimously quashing his conviction for sexual assault of two boys twenty years ago at a Cathedral. He was serving a six year sentence. The jury had unanimously believed his accuser, one of the boys. The prosecuting QC said of his evidence: “It was absolutely compelling. …. He was clearly not a liar. He was not a fantasist. He was a witness of truth.” His alleged fellow victim had died from a drug overdose, albeit without having disclosed the abuse allegation to his family.

On the other hand, the jury at an earlier trial had failed to reach a verdict. Cardinal Pell denied the charges of assaulting the boys in the cathedral. He and others maintained that he could not have had the time or opportunity to carry out the assault. The High Court unanimously concluded that the doubts raised about time and opportunity were sufficient to overturn the verdict.

Cardinal Pell repeated “I have consistently maintained my innocence while suffering from a serious injustice”.

Nevertheless, Cardinal Pell acknowledged “there is certainly hurt and bitterness enough”… “I do not want my acquittal to add to the hurt and bitterness so many feel”.

Cardinal Pell added: “However, my trial was not a referendum on the Catholic Church; nor a referendum on how Church authorities in Australia dealt with the crime of paedophilia in the Church.”

An assistant to the Apostle of La Luz del Mundo denounces having been abused for 22 years

Union Journal

April 8, 2020

By Carlos Christian

A civil lawsuit has opened a new legal front against Naasón Joaquín García, leader of the Mexican church La Luz del Mundo. Joaquín García, self-proclaimed apostle of Jesus Christ, has been accused of leading a complex network to recruit children and adolescents with the support of the church leadership and prepare them to sexually please him, even with the consent of his relatives. “They told us it was the will of God,” said Sochil Martin, the plaintiff. “Today is the time to put a stop to this, to say ‘stop,” Martin added at a press conference this Thursday in Los Angeles.

La Luz del Mundo, which claims to have five million members and a presence in almost 60 countries, has accused Martin of conspiring to stain the name of its leader. The Church has discredited her testimony as “lies and slander” after the applicant gave a television interview and appeared in a documentary series that premiered this year. The faithful defend the innocence of their leader and trust that he will be released this year. “He will continue and continues to be the apostle of Jesus Christ,” he said last week to Millennium Ezequiel Zamora, a spokesperson for the organization.

“We have filed this case to protect the children who are still in The Light of the World, we want them to know that they are not alone,” said attorney Jeff Anderson, who expects more victims to join the cause. The outcome of the plot that has put the second church with the most followers in Mexico on the ropes has yet to be defined in the courts of the United States.

Sex-abuse case against leader of Mexican megachurch ordered dismissed

Los Angeles Times

April 7, 2020

By Leila Miller

The criminal case against the leader of a Mexico-based megachurch on charges that included child rape and human trafficking was ordered dismissed Tuesday by a California appeals court on procedural grounds — a decision that will resound heavily with church followers worldwide who have maintained their leader’s innocence.

Naason Joaquin Garcia, known among La Luz del Mundo’s members as the “apostle” of Jesus Christ, had been in custody since June following his arrest on accusations involving three minors and one adult between 2015 and 2018 in Los Angeles County, with counts that took place in 2019 later added.

He had denied wrongdoing and was held without bail in Los Angeles.

While in jail, he had remained the spiritual leader of La Luz del Mundo, which is Spanish for “The Light of the World.” Garcia’s arrest sparked emergency prayer services throughout the congregations of his Guadalajara-based church that has claimed more than 5 million followers worldwide. Since then, the organization, which was founded by Garcia’s grandfather, had continued to support the apostle.

April 8, 2020

'I am OK': Pell's accuser breaks silence on ruling in poignant message


April 8, 2020

George Pell's accuser, known as Witness J, has broken his silence on the Cardinal being acquitted of sexual abuse, reassuring supporters in a poignant statement that he is "OK".

Pell was yesterday freed from Barwon Prison after the High Court quashed his child sexual abuse convictions.

Witness J said he accepted and understood the outcome of the court.

Photo Caption: Ribbons are being tied to the gate of the Carmelite Monestary as an act of solidarity.

This morning, a child's tricycle was tied to the gates, a clear illustration of a community divided.

Cardinal Pell accuser ‘accepts’ acquittal

Agence France-Presse via Raw Story

April 8, 2020

A former choirboy who accused Australian Cardinal George Pell of molesting him said Wednesday he accepts the top Vatican cleric’s acquittal, but urged survivors of child sex abuse to keep coming forward.

A day after Australia’s top court quashed Pell’s conviction and released him from jail, “Witness J” said he understood and accepted the court’s verdict.

“There are a lot of checks and balances in the criminal justice system,” the man, who cannot be named for legal reasons, said in a statement issued by his lawyer. “I respect the decision of the High Court. I accept the outcome.”

The court found that the jury that convicted the cleric of molesting Witness J and his friend, both 13 years old at the time, should have had a reasonable doubt about his guilt.

“It is difficult in child sexual abuse matters to satisfy a criminal court that the offending has occurred beyond the shadow of a doubt,” Witness J said. “It is a very high standard to meet –- a heavy burden.”

Regardless, he said: “I would hate to think that one outcome of this case is that people are discouraged from reporting to the police.”

“I would like to reassure child sexual abuse survivors that most people recognise the truth when they hear it.”

As many activists expressed concern that Pell’s case would compound survivors’ pain, Witness J also said he was doing “OK” and was relieved the years-long case was over.

“I have my ups and downs. The darkness is never far away. I am OK. I hope that everyone who has followed this case is OK,” he said.

“This case does not define me. I am not the abuse I suffered as a child.”

Australia’s Cardinal Pell has Conviction Overturned, SNAP responds

Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests

April 6, 2020

We are dismayed and heartbroken that Cardinal George Pell has successfully challenged his conviction for sexually abusing two choirboys and will be freed from prison. Once again, the powerful have won and the prize is the continuation of the Catholic Church’s tradition of abuse obfuscation and minimization. Our hearts ache for the surviving accuser in this case, and we hope that this disappointing ruling does not deter other victims from coming forward to report their abuse.

This is a disappointing ruling that only exacerbates the mistrust survivors feel. It also helps propagate myths about sexual violence, stigmatizes victims for choosing to disclose later in life, and negatively affects how people react when allegations are made against prominent community members.

Early reports have indicated that the Vatican no longer intends to pursue an investigation of its own. We believe it would self-serving and hypocritical of them not to do so. Based on their reporting habits, Catholic officials have for years held their own investigations out as equal if not better than those of law enforcement. For them to defer to the criminal justice system now instead of carrying out their own probe would be to fail yet again in Pope Francis’s “all-out battle” against clergy abuse.

This case saw testimony from twelve witnesses, including the lone surviving accuser. We are saddened that this testimony and the sentence handed down by the jury that first heard the evidence has been tossed out. The High Court has ruled that Australian citizens duly selected to form a jury of peers are actually not peers of the accused, the High Court are his peers.

Survivors around the world dismayed by reversal of Cardinal Pell’s guilty verdict

Ending Clergy Abuse

April 7, 2020

Setback, they say, cannot deter path forward.

Survivors around the world today are reacting with dismay and confusion over the Australian High Court’s reversal of the conviction of Cardinal George Pell for child sexual assault. Although the court said it was not ruling on the guilt or innocence of Pell it effectively did just that, annulling a guilty verdict by a jury, which was upheld by a majority appeals court decision. It seems as if the high court made the extraordinary decision to re-try the case on their own, although Pell was given the absolute fullest latitude of the law and was represented by a competent and very expensive defense team. No new or suppressed evidence was brought to the court; prosecutorial misconduct was not alleged; the defense did not charge an atmosphere of bias.

The jury heard the prosecutor’s case as well as the defense. The victim was thoroughly cross-examined, witnesses for the defense were heard, thorough arguments were made for both sides. How the court could know that the jury did not properly consider all the evidence in their deliberations is utterly mystifying and could send a chilling message to child abuse victims not to come forward because they will never receive justice even with a guilty verdict.

Survivors and justice officials in Australia and elsewhere must work together to assure that this will not be the result of this decision. Survivors have made enormous and historic strides over the past decades breaking down barriers to justice not only for clergy abuse victims but for sexual abuse victims everywhere. After this verdict, this effort is needed more than ever, because the safety of so many children depends upon it.

Pell's conviction is quashed


April 7, 2020

By Anne Barrett Doyle

The High Court's decision to quash the conviction of Cardinal George Pell was widely expected. Though distressing to many survivors, the decision doesn't change the fact that the trial of the powerful cardinal was a watershed. Of the 78 Catholic bishops worldwide who have been publicly accused of child sexual abuse, very few have faced criminal charges, and fewer than ten have been tried in a secular courtroom. Yet that is where all of these cases belong. While messy and painful, a judicial process in a democratic society is immeasurably better than that of a Vatican tribunal, which keeps its proceedings secret, releases no transcripts, publishes no arguments by the two sides, and skews the outcome toward preserving the priesthood rather than serving justice

See our global list of accused bishops.

In its quest to stop the sexual abuse of children, the Australian government has put the Catholic church on equal footing with other institutions, and treated the church's leaders as fellow citizens. Credit for this goes to its astonishingly open and thorough inquiry, the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sex Abuse.

Pell may be back in an Australian courtroom soon: he reportedly is named in several lawsuits. In the meantime, Pope Francis should delay no longer in launching his own investigation. In 2014, Francis chose Pell to manage his new Secretariat for the Economy, ignoring evidence that Pell had been merciless to victims and lax in his supervision of abusive clergy. That was before the Pope pledged to hold bishops accountable and end the culture of cover-up. The scope of his investigation should include Pell's handling of abusers, his treatment of victims, a review of the charges of which he was just acquitted, and the five other allegations of child sexual abuse that have been made against him.

See our summary of the allegations against Pell.

Man who accused cardinal says 'case doesn't define me'


April 7, 2020

The Australian man who accused Cardinal George Pell of child sexual abuse says he accepts a court's decision to overturn the cleric's conviction.

Cardinal Pell was freed from jail on Tuesday after Australia's top court ruled he had not been proven guilty beyond reasonable doubt.

In 2018, a jury convicted him of abusing two choirboys in the 1990s. The cleric has maintained his innocence.

His accuser said he hoped the case would not "discourage" abuse survivors.

"It is difficult in child sex abuse matters to satisfy a criminal court that the offending has occurred beyond the shadow of a doubt," the man, known as Witness J, said in a statement on Wednesday.

He said he understood why criminal cases were held to this "very high standard", but added "the price we pay for weighting the system in favour of the accused is that many sexual offences against children go unpunished."

This is a mighty triumph for George Pell. Now prepare for a storm of rage from the cardinal's supporters

The Guardian

April 7, 2020

By David Marr

By the ultimate authority we recognise in this country, Pell was wrongly imprisoned. His supporters will vent but will Rome join his celebrations?

This is a mighty triumph not just for George Pell who is breathing free air for the first time in a year, and his backers who invested millions in his defence, but for the narrative of prejudice the church has spun all the years since the Melbourne police came for the cardinal in Rome.

The beleaguered church. The misunderstood church. The church under attack by secularists. The church pursued by abuse victims, police and journalists with axes to grind.

The unanimity of the court’s decision is crushing for Pell’s prosecutors and, of course, for the young man who brought this complaint to the police nearly five years ago. It has been such a long process for Pell’s accuser to reach this end.

From the start the contest was simple: who was to be believed here, the young man who said he was raped after mass in the sacristy of St Patrick’s Cathedral or the church witnesses assembled by Pell’s legal team who claimed it wasn’t possible.

The police, the prosecution authorities in Victoria, a jury and two judges of the court of appeal in Melbourne believed the young man. They realised it was hard for Pell to have raped that boy, but it was possible.

The high court has said: yes possible, but not reasonably possible.

Theirs was not a decision made at a lofty level of theory. As has been its practice lately, the high court dug right down into the evidence. The unanimous judgment delivered this morning involves more than a hundred paragraphs of meticulous reconstruction of the rituals of the cathedral, of doors opened and closed, of robes and processions.

How George Pell won in the High Court on a legal technicality

The Conversation

April 6, 2020

By Ben Mathews, Mark Nicholas, and Bernard Thomas

The High Court today granted Cardinal George Pell special leave to appeal, and unanimously allowed the appeal. In other words, Pell won. His convictions were quashed and he will be released from prison.

Pell’s prosecution has been socially explosive and legally complex. The cardinal’s convictions by unanimous jury verdicts were a landmark event in Australian history. The High Court’s decision will be, too – both for the legal world and for society more broadly.

For many, it will be impossible to understand how the unanimous jury verdicts of guilty, further supported by a Court of Appeal majority of two judges, can now be overturned.

The High Court decision may undermine confidence in the legal system, especially in child sexual abuse prosecutions.

Civil legal actions against Pell are ongoing, so his legal battles aren’t over yet. More civil lawsuits may well follow, especially after the release of the Royal Commission’s findings about his conduct in Ballarat.

This case is exceptionally complex. It is important for the public to understand the legal process and key issues.

This High Court appeal did not ask whether Pell committed the offences. It asked whether the two majority judges in the Victorian Court of Appeal, in dismissing Pell’s earlier appeal, made an error about the nature of the correct legal principles, or their application.

Catholic leader jailed for sexual abuse freed by Australian high court

PRI - The World

April 7, 2020

Cardinal George Pell, the former Vatican treasurer, was convicted in 2018 of sexually abusing two boys in Melbourne, Australia, in the 1990s. He was the highest-ranking Catholic leader to face jail time for sexual abuse. On Tuesday, Australia's highest court overturned the conviction. The World’s host Marco Werman speaks to Anne Barrett Doyle, head of BishopAccountability.org.

Appeal judges are reluctant to overturn jury verdicts. So why did they do it for George Pell?

The Guardian

April 7, 2020

By Rick Sarre

One victim of this appeal result may be a loss of public confidence in the jury system

The high court has quashed the conviction of Cardinal George Pell, who had originally been found guilty on a number of charges by a jury of 12 people.

His defence counsel, Bret Walker SC, had argued before the high court that the convictions in 2018 were unsound because it was not open to the jury to find Pell guilty beyond reasonable doubt.

He argued to the high court the “sheer unlikelihood” of events and times aligning in the way that had been put forth by the prosecution to the trial judge and jury. He argued the story of the complainant could not be credible.

The high court has now agreed.

April 7, 2020

USTA Follows in Footsteps of US Gymnastics by Covering Up for a Serial Sexual Abuser

SNAP Network

April 06, 2020

As if we needed more examples that institutions cannot police themselves, the United States Tennis Association has provided the latest reason why all allegations of sexual abuse must be reported to and investigated by independent law enforcement officials.

While sports organizations nationwide were grappling with how to handle cases of sexual abuse in the wake of the Larry Nassar scandal, the USTA decided it was capable of doing what U.S/ Gymnastics could not: police itself. Yet as the case of Normandie Burgos shows, in the end USTA’s arrogance only put more children at risk.

USTA allowed Burgos to coach for three more years after he was arrested for sexual abuse, for the second time, in 2014. Rather than learn lessons from the Nassar scandal or the scandals within the Catholic Church, USTA instead decided to follow those institutions’ playbook. This scandal is an embarrassment for the USTA and yet another example of why institutions cannot be believed when they promise to police themselves.

Cardinal George Pell freed from prison after High Court overturns sex abuse conviction


April 7, 2020

By Hilary Whiteman

Cardinal George Pell has been freed from prison after Australia's High Court unanimously overturned his conviction on five counts of historical child sex abuse.

The momentous decision, handed down Tuesday by Chief Justice Susan Kiefel, ends a five-year legal battle that started when a man in his 30s approached police alleging Pell had abused him as a child in the mid-1990s.

At the time, Pell was Vatican Treasurer and the highest ranking Catholic official to ever be publicly accused of child sex offenses. Pell strenuously denied the charges, which he dismissed in a 2016 police interview as a "product of fantasy."

In its two-page summary of the ruling, the High Court said that the jury "ought to have entertained a doubt as to the applicant's guilt with respect to each of the offenses for which he was convicted, and ordered that the convictions be quashed and that verdicts of acquittal be entered in their place."

George Pell: Decision to free cardinal 'not a particular surprise'

BBC News

April 7, 2020

The High Court of Australia has quashed Cardinal George Pell's child sexual abuse convictions, allowing him to walk free from jail.

Former priest and historian Paul Collins gives his view on the decision, and what it means for the Catholic Church.

George Pell: church abuse victims shocked as cardinal walks free – video


April 7, 2020

Supporters of church abuse victims in Australia were shocked on Tuesday after Cardinal George Pell, the most senior Catholic in the world to have been found guilty of historical child sexual abuse, was freed from prison.

"I just felt incredibly sad for survivors and any survivors who have spoken out. Because to me it was a bit like they've just been shot. It's huge news and it'll impact on so many people and it's made even harder because of the isolation at the moment," said Maureen Hatcher, founder of support group Loud Fence.



April 6, 2020

By Paul Murano

Decades-long record considered the 'tip of the iceberg'

Japanese bishops have at last published their findings on the sexual abuse of minors, almost 20 years after the investigative process began.

On April 5, the Catholic Bishops' Conference of Japan (CBCJ) released the full report in an issue of Katorikku Shimbun (The Catholic Weekly) published by the bishops' conference. It will be uploaded in English to the CBCJ website on April 7.

In a cover message to the report, Nagasaki Abp. Mitsuaki Takami, president of the CBCJ, apologized for the delay. "Due to difficulty in understanding the situation and inadequate survey methods, this report is very late, but we have decided to now publish the results," he stated.

The investigation, conducted by the CBCJ's Desk for the Protection of Children and Women, found 16 cases of child abuse from the 1950s to the present. The decade with the largest number of cases was the 1960s, which had five. The sexual divide of abused girls to boys was nearly equal, though incomplete records make exact counts impossible.

Australia's High Court overturns sexual abuse convictions for George Pell, a former advisor to Pope Francis and Australia's most senior Catholic cleric

Business Insider

April 6, 2020

By Rosie Perper

Australia's High Court has overturned Cardinal George Pell's conviction for sexual abuse, allowing him to walk free in time for Easter.

The court announced the decision on Tuesday morning local time.

"The High Court granted special leave to appeal against a decision of the Court of Appeal of the Supreme Court of Victoria and unanimously allowed the appeal," the judgment reads.

Cardinal Pell’s Acquittal Was as Opaque as His Sexual Abuse Trial


April 7, 2020

By Damien Cave and Livia Albeck-Ripka

Critics argue that Australia’s courts exhibited a penchant for secrecy and insular decision-making that resembled the Roman Catholic Church’s flawed response to sexual abuse within its ranks.

Cardinal George Pell walked out of prison on Tuesday after Australia’s highest court reversed his 2018 conviction for molesting two choirboys decades earlier — liberating the most senior Roman Catholic cleric to ever face trial over child sexual abuse.

The world may never be able to assess whether the court’s reasoning was sound.

The panel of seven judges ruled that the jury lacked sufficient doubt about the accusations against Cardinal Pell, the former archbishop of Melbourne and treasurer for the Vatican. Jurors, the court argued, ignored “compounding improbabilities” caused by conflicting accounts from the cardinal’s main accuser and other witnesses.

But no one outside the court case can test that comparison. The central evidence — the testimony of the main accuser, on which the case “was wholly dependent,” the judges wrote — has never been released, not in video, audio nor even redacted transcripts.

Sexual Assault Charges Dropped Against 95-Year-Old Retired Priest In La Crosse

State News

April 7, 2020

A judge in La Crosse County has dismissed sexual assault charges which had been filed against a retired priest.

Monsignor Bernard McGarty had been accused of touching a woman inappropriately outside the La Crosse Library last May.

Cardinal Pell welcomes court's dismissal of abuse conviction

Associated Press

April 7, 2020

By Rod McGuirk

Cardinal George Pell is welcoming Australia’s highest court clearing him of child sex crimes and says his trial had not been a referendum on the Catholic Church’s handling of the clergy abuse crisis

Cardinal George Pell welcomed Australia’s highest court clearing him of child sex crimes Tuesday and said his trial had not been a referendum on the Catholic Church’s handling of the clergy abuse crisis.

Pell, Pope Francis’ former finance minister, had been the most senior Catholic found guilty of sexually abusing children and spent 13 months in prison before seven High Court judges unanimously dismissed his convictions.

“I have consistently maintained my innocence while suffering from a serious injustice,” Pell said in his first public statement since he was convicted in December 2018. It was released before he left prison and was taken to the Carmelite Monastery in Melbourne, where he was greeted by a nun.

George Pell's legal woes far from over: Cardinal will still have to face a surge of civil cases from alleged sexual abuse victims after being cleared of molesting two choirboys

Daily Mail Australia

April 7, 2020

By Nic White

- Cardinal George Pell had his convictions for sexually assaulting boys quashed
- He still faces at least 10 potential civil lawsuits after he walked free from jail
- One is already filed alleging he did nothing to stop another priest abusing a boy
- Father of one of the choirboys in the quashed conviction case also plans to sue
- He blames Pell for his son's drug addiction that led to heroin overdose in 2014

Cardinal George Pell's legal woes are far from over even after he walked from prison a free man with his child sexual abuse convictions overturned.

Australia's most senior Catholic faces at least 10 potential civil lawsuits claiming he either molested other boys or covered up abuse by fellow priests.

One claim was filed in the Victorian Supreme Court last year by a victim of notorious paedophile priest Edward 'Ted' Dowlan, alleging Pell did nothing to protect him.

Melbourne lawyer Vivian Waller is handling eight other civil cases against the 78-year-old clergyman and more are expected from other complainants.

Vatican welcomes Pell verdict, affirms anti-abuse resolve as survivors protest


April 7, 2020

By Elise Ann Allen

Editor’s Note: This piece is being updated throughout the day.

On Tuesday the Vatican said it welcomed the Australian High Court’s decision to acquit Cardinal George Pell on all charges of the sexual abuse, while also stressing their own commitment to pursuing justice for minors who have been abused.

In an April 7 statement just hours after the court’s verdict, Vatican spokesman Matteo Bruni said, “The Holy See, which has always expressed confidence in the Australian judicial authority, welcomes the High Court’s unanimous decision concerning Cardinal George Pell, acquitting him of the accusations of abuse of minors and overturning his sentence.”

“Entrusting his case to the court’s justice, Cardinal Pell has always maintained his innocence, and has waited for the truth to be ascertained,” Bruni said, insisting that while celebrating the verdict the Holy See also “reaffirms its commitment to preventing and pursuing all cases of abuse against minors.

Pope Francis decries 'unjust sentences' after cardinal George Pell acquitted

The Guardian

April 7, 2020

By Harriet Sherwood

Vatican praises Australian cardinal for having ‘waited for the truth to be ascertained’

Pope Francis has recalled the “persecution that Jesus suffered” and has prayed for those who suffer “unjust sentences” hours after Australia’s highest court acquitted cardinal George Pell of child sexual abuse.

The court in Canberra quashed convictions that Pell sexually assaulted two choirboys in the 1990s, allowing the 78-year-old former Vatican economy minister to walk free from jail, ending the most high-profile case of alleged historical sex abuse to rock the Roman Catholic church.

At the start of mass, celebrated at his lodgings at Santa Marta on Tuesday morning and livestreamed, Pope Francis said: “I would like to pray today for all those people who suffer unjust sentences resulting from intransigence [against them].”

The Vatican also welcomed the acquittal, praising Pell in its first official statement for having “waited for the truth to be ascertained”. The Vatican said it had always had confidence in Australian judicial authorities and reaffirmed the Holy See’s “commitment to preventing and pursuing all cases of abuse against minors”.

Francis did not mention Pell by name at mass, but compared the suffering of those inflicted with “unjust sentences” to the way Jewish community elders persecuted Jesus with “obstinacy and rage even though he was innocent”.

Each morning at the mass, Francis chooses an intention for the service, such as remembering the poor, the homeless or the sick. In recent weeks, the pope’s intentions for nearly all of his daily masses have been related to the coronavirus pandemic.

The pope also tweeted about the persecution of Jesus, without making specific reference to Pell. “In these days of Lent, we’ve been witnessing the persecution that Jesus underwent and how He was judged ferociously, even though He was innocent.

“Let us pray together today for all those persons who suffer due to an unjust sentence because someone had it in for them.”

Press Release

Archdiocese of Villavicencio

April 3, 2020

Comunicado a la Opinión Pública

La Arquidiócesis de Villavicencio, en virtud de su responsabilidad humana y social, y fiel a nuestro Señor Jesucristo, siguiendo los lineamientos dados por el Papa Francisco y la Conferencia Episcopal Colombiana de tolerancia cero con los abusos sexuales de parte de clérigos, da a conocer a la opinión pública que:

1. El pasado 14 de febrero de 2020 un ciudadano colombiano, mayor de edad, puso en conocimiento del organismo competente, hechos contra la moral sexual de parte de algunos sacerdotes de esta Arquidiócesis.

2. Conscientes de que estos actos son de suma gravedad, la Arquidiócesis de Villavicencio, deplora y siente un profundo dolor por esta situación. En el respeto y cumplimiento de las normas que la Iglesia católica contempla para este tipo de casos ha emprendido las siguientes acciones:

- Teniendo como prioridad a la presunta víctima, le expresamos nuestro profundo dolor y solidaridad y le hemos ofrecido un acompañamiento psico-espiritual. Ratificamos nuestro compromiso de actuar con claridad y transparencia para el bien de él y de la Iglesia.

- Conocida la noticia y siguiendo los protocolos de la Comisión Arquidiocesana de Protección de Menores esta noticia se puso en conocimiento de la Fiscalía seccional y nos pusimos en total disponibilidad para colaborar con las investigaciones que tengan lugar en este caso.

- La Arquidiócesis de Villavicencio inició un proceso de Investigación preliminar y decidió Ad Cautelam suspender del ejercicio del ministerio sacerdotal a los sacerdotes implicados. Esperando el inicio de proceso canónico penal y respetándoles el debido proceso.

Reiteramos que nos duele profundamente esta situación; para nosotros las víctimas y sus familias, siempre serán lo primero. De tiempo atrás, hemos emprendido iniciativas de trabajo y formación para la erradicación del terrible mal de los abusos dentro y fuera de nuestra institución.

Invitamos para que se den a conocer situaciones en donde alguno de nuestros miembros eventualmente haya traicionado su vocación de servicio y entrega al Señor y a la comunidad. Juntos haremos de nuestra Iglesia un lugar seguro para todos.

Finalmente, pedimos sus oraciones para que esta responsabilidad pastoral ante un desafío tan fuerte de nuestro tiempo, de los frutos esperados.

Colombian archbishop removes from ministry 15 priests accused of sexual abuse

Catholic News Agency

April 7, 2020

Villavicencio, Colombia - The president of the Colombian bishops’ conference, Óscar Urbina, suspended 15 priests of his archdiocese from ministry who have been accused of sexual abuse. Other jurisdictions in the country have removed four other priests.

Archbishop Óscar Urbina of Villavicencio told Colombian media that the accused priests represent 15% of the city’s priests.

The priests are accused of committing sexual abuse in Colombia, Italy and the United States, Caracol Radio reported.

Fr. Carlos Villabón, communications director and chancellor for the archdiocese of Villavicencio, told ACI Prensa, CNA’s Spanish language news partner, that the 15 priests were suspended while a canonical investigation proceeds at the Vatican.

“On March 16, 2020 these 15 priests were notified after a preliminary investigation was carried out. They are neither convicted nor acquitted by this suspension, only asked to relinquish their parish duties, cease celebrating the Eucharist and cease their ministerial service while the complete investigation is conducted,” the priest explained.

The results of the preliminary investigation “are now being sent to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith at the Vatican, and there they will determine the gravity of the facts and what the Church calls a penal canonical process will be conducted,” Villabón said.

George Pell freed from prison after High Court quashes child sex abuse convictions


April 7, 2020

By Kate McKenna, Sarah Farnsworth, Staff and Wires

Cardinal George Pell has been driven from prison to a church property in Melbourne's inner east after the nation's highest court quashed his child sexual abuse convictions.

The unanimous decision has been handed down less than a month after the High Court of Australia heard two days of intense legal arguments from the Cardinal's lawyers and Victorian prosecutors.

Shortly before 12:30pm, Cardinal Pell was freed from Barwon Prison, leaving in a convoy of cars headed by a white Mercedes.

He was then taken to a church property in Melbourne's inner east, where a nun greeted him at the door and helped him inside.

Cardinal Pell, 78, who has consistently maintained his innocence, was serving a six-year jail sentence after he was convicted in 2018 of abusing two choirboys in the 1990s, while he was the archbishop of Melbourne.

He had been accused of committing the crimes after he found the boys swigging altar wine in the priests' sacristy after mass in Melbourne's St Patrick's Cathedral.

A jury convicted him in 2018 — a decision that the Victorian Court of Appeal upheld in a two-to-one decision.

But his lawyers went to the High Court, arguing the appeal court failed to take proper account of evidence that cast doubt on his guilt.

Today the High Court handed down its decision, granting Cardinal Pell's application for special leave and unanimously acquitting him.

Why was George Pell's appeal successful when our justice system values jury verdicts?


April 7, 2020

By Rick Sarre

The High Court today quashed the conviction of Cardinal George Pell, who had originally been found guilty on a number of charges by a jury of 12 people.

His defence counsel, Bret Walker SC, had argued before the High Court that the convictions in 2018 were unsound because it was not open to the jury to find Pell guilty beyond reasonable doubt.

He argued to the High Court the "sheer unlikelihood" of events and times aligning in the way that had been put forth by the prosecution to the trial judge and jury. He argued the story of the complainant could not be credible.

The High Court has now agreed.

A jury decides, but then …

Remember that, prior to the verdict, a jury of a dozen men and women had deliberated for almost five days before returning their verdicts of guilty on all five charges.

How is it that a jury's decision, after hearing all the evidence (with the exception of Pell himself) and deliberating for a considerable period of time, can be subverted by the opinion of an appeal court 16 months later?

To answer this question we need to look briefly at the appeal grounds that apply in the higher criminal courts. There are two broad grounds of appeal against conviction. Each is found in both the common law and legislation that pertains to these matters.

High Court takes the high road on question of passion or precedent

The Age

April 7, 2020

By John Silvester

[Includes video: Attorney-General Christian Porter says if possible lifting redactions in Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sex Abuse, should occur.]

Not since Lindy Chamberlain lost her baby to a dingo at Uluru 40 years ago has a criminal case so polarised the community as Cardinal George Pell’s arrest, conviction and acquittal.

Both camps say Pell has been treated differently. His supporters say he was targeted because he was a high profile Catholic while his detractors believe his perceived power influenced the seven judges at the High Court to quash his conviction.

Arrant nonsense. Passion is replacing legal precedent.

The decision to overturn the Pell conviction is not about what happened inside St Patrick’s Cathedral in 1996 but what admissible evidence was available to prove what happened inside St Patrick’s Cathedral in 1996.

The High Court found that on the evidence put to the jury it should have found there was reasonable doubt. It did not find that Pell didn’t do it, nor that the complainant was a liar. It found there was sufficient doubt to demand an acquittal.

To overturn a jury decision is a huge call as it is the basis of the trial system. To do so means the High Court found the conviction a massive miscarriage of justice that had to be righted.

This was not one man’s word against another. In a criminal trial the allegation must be proved and without compelling corroboration it is simply impossible.

George Pell Freed After Australian Court Overturns Sex Abuse Conviction

New York Times

By Livia Albeck-Ripka and Damien Cave

April 7, 2020

The cardinal was the highest-ranking Roman Catholic leader ever found guilty of sexually abusing children.

Melbourne - Australia’s highest court on Tuesday overturned the sexual abuse conviction of Cardinal George Pell, the highest-ranking Roman Catholic leader ever found guilty in the church’s clergy pedophilia crisis.

Cardinal Pell, 78, who was the Vatican’s chief financial officer and an adviser to Pope Francis, was sentenced to six years in prison last March for molesting two 13-year-old boys after Sunday Mass in 1996.

He walked free on Tuesday after a panel of seven judges ruled that the jury ought to have entertained a doubt about his guilt. The judges cited “compounding improbabilities” to conclude that the verdicts on five counts reached in 2018 were “unreasonable or cannot be supported by the evidence.”

In a statement, Cardinal Pell reiterated his assertion that he had committed no crimes. “I have consistently maintained my innocence while suffering from a serious injustice,” he said. “This has been remedied today with the High Court’s unanimous decision.”

The verdict, handed down by Chief Justice Susan Kiefel to a largely empty courtroom in Brisbane because of social distancing measures to help slow the spread of the coronavirus, shocked Catholics in Australia and around the world.

Cardinal Pell had receded from the public mind during his time in prison, and with the exception of his die-hard supporters, most Australians had come to accept his guilt as an established fact.

His case had dragged on for years. His first trial ended with a hung jury; his second carried on with a heavy shroud of secrecy as suppression orders limited what could be reported or even scrutinized.

The testimony of the case’s most important witness, a former choirboy who had stepped forward with his claims in 2015, was never made public, not even in transcripts. Legal experts said that made it difficult for the public to comprehend the complexity of the case, as well as the High Court’s ultimate ruling.


Archdiocese of Sydney

April 7, 2020

By Cardinal George Pell

I have consistently maintained my innocence while suffering from a serious injustice.

This has been remedied today with the High Court’s unanimous decision.

I look forward to reading the judgment and reasons for the decision in detail.

I hold no ill will toward my accuser, I do not want my acquittal to add to the hurt and bitterness so many feel; there is certainly hurt and bitterness enough.

However my trial was not a referendum on the Catholic Church; nor a referendum on how Church authorities in Australia dealt with the crime of paedophilia in the Church.

The point was whether I had committed these awful crimes, and I did not.

The only basis for long term healing is truth and the only basis for justice is truth, because justice means truth for all.

A special thanks for all the prayers and thousands of letters of support.

April 6, 2020

Pell v The Queen

High Court of Australia

April 7, 2020

Today, the High Court granted special leave to appeal against a decision of the Court of Appeal of the Supreme Court of Victoria and unanimously allowed the appeal. The High Court found that the jury, acting rationally on the whole of the evidence, ought to have entertained a doubt as to the applicant's guilt with respect to each of the offences for which he was convicted, and ordered that the convictions be quashed and that verdicts of acquittal be entered in their place.

On 11 December 2018, following a trial by jury in the County Court of Victoria, the applicant, who was Archbishop of Melbourne at the time of the alleged offending, was convicted of one charge of sexual penetration of a child under 16 years and four charges of committing an act of indecency with or in the presence of a child under the age of 16 years. This was the second trial of these charges, the jury at the first trial having been unable to agree on its verdicts. The prosecution case, as it was left to the jury, alleged that the offending occurred on two separate occasions, the first on 15 or 22 December 1996 and the second on 23 February 1997. The incidents were alleged to have occurred in and near the priests' sacristy at St Patrick's Cathedral in East Melbourne, following the celebration of Sunday solemn Mass. The victims of the alleged offending were two Cathedral choirboys aged 13 years at the time of the events.

The applicant sought leave to appeal against his convictions before the Court of Appeal. On 21 August 2019 the Court of Appeal granted leave on a single ground, which contended that the verdicts were unreasonable or could not be supported by the evidence, and dismissed the appeal.The Court of Appeal viewed video-recordings of a number of witnesses' testimony, including that of the complainant. The majority, Ferguson CJ and Maxwell P, assessed the complainant to be a compelling witness. Their Honours went on to consider the evidence of a number of "opportunity witnesses", who had described the movements of the applicant and others following the conclusion of Sunday solemn Mass in a way that was inconsistent with the complainant's account. Their Honours found that no witness could say with certainty that these routines and practices were never departed from and concluded that the jury had not been compelled to entertain a reasonable doubt as to the applicant's guilt. Weinberg JA dissented, concluding that, by reason of the unchallenged evidence of the opportunity witnesses, the jury, acting rationally on the whole of the evidence, ought to have had a reasonable doubt.

George Pell High Court ruling on appeal against child sex abuse convictions to be handed down in a virtual vacuum


April 6, 2020

By Sarah Farnsworth and Elizabeth Byrne

It was never going to be a regular criminal court case by virtue of the man accused: Cardinal George Pell, who was a top advisor to the Pope when the allegations first surfaced that he had sexually abused two choirboys.

Yet the finale of the five-year legal saga on Tuesday morning — which could see George Pell released from jail — will be as unusual as it will be monumental.

While at previous stages of the case, victims' advocates and supporters of the Cardinal have come together outside courthouses, social-distancing measures have effectively outlawed such gatherings.

Instead, the High Court will deliver its decision on one of the most-watched cases in Australia's history in a virtual vacuum, with Chief Justice Susan Kiefel to hand down the full bench's ruling in an almost empty High Court registry in Brisbane.

The judges are in their home states and are not travelling because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The hearing will be over in minutes, with the court tweeting its decision, before publishing its decision online.

It is a modern touch for a decision that is likely to have a lasting impact on one of the world's oldest institutions.

What could the High Court decide on Pell?

Australian Associated Press via 7 News

April 5, 2020

By Karen Sweeney

There are many possible outcomes of George Pell's appeal to the High Court.

Possible Appeal Bid Outcomes:

* Unanimous or Split Decisions

Like in any appeal court, the decision of the judges could be unanimous or it could be split. The majority decision will stand, which, in this case, would be a 4-3 split.

* Multiple Reasons

If all the judges reach the same decision for the same reasons, it's possible they'll hand down their decision in a single judgment.

If there is a split decision, then there'll be a majority judgment handed down. The decisions of the judges in the minority are called dissents.

Sometimes judges come to the same decision but for different reasons so they'll each publish their own reasons. That means there could be up to seven different opinions handed down.

* Special Leave Application Refused

The High Court has to grant Pell special leave to appeal before they can formally consider the appeal.

Usually this happens before the appeal hearing, but in Pell's case it was decided they'd hear the appeal arguments before making a decision on granting special leave.

If special leave is refused, Pell's conviction will stand and he will remain behind bars.

* Special Leave Application Granted

If the High Court determines there is a legal question for them to consider, then they'll grant special leave.

After that, there's a few paths they can follow:

George Pell’s bid for freedom: high court verdict to decide cardinal's future


April 6, 2020

By Melissa Davey

Australian high court’s decision is Pell’s last chance to overturn conviction for historical child sexual abuse

On Tuesday, almost two years after being committed to stand trial on multiple charges of historical child sexual abuse, the case against the former financial controller of the Vatican, Cardinal George Pell, will likely end with him either walking free or remaining in jail to serve the rest of his sentence.

After failing to appeal to Victoria’s appellate court in August, Pell’s legal team took his case to the high court, the final avenue in his bid for freedom. Across two days in March, the full bench of seven justices heard Pell’s barrister Bret Walker SC argue that Victoria’s appellate judges, who dismissed Pell’s first appeal in 2019 by a majority of two-to-one, may have been unduly influenced by the complainant’s testimony by watching a recorded video of it rather than just reading the transcript of his evidence.

Walker also argued that just because the complainant was believable and compelling, it should not have led jurors to discount other evidence that placed his evidence in doubt. The director of the Office of Public Prosecutions, Kerri Judd, responded by saying that given Pell’s legal team made so much of the complainant’s lack of credibility and believability, Victoria’s appellate court was entitled to watch the video. It did not mean they had elevated it above other evidence, or that they had not given due weight to other evidence from the trial, she said. She added that the entire body of evidence considered together gave weight to the complainant’s account, rather than discrediting it.

New safe space for child victims of crime in Scotland


April 5, 2020

A new centre designed to support child victims and witnesses of crime is to be opened in Scotland.

Children will be able to be interviewed in the child-friendly facility, away from police stations and courtrooms.

But they can also receive medical care and support to help them recover from trauma in an environment designed to look like a family home.

Locations are being scouted for the base following a £1.5m boost from the People's Postcode Lottery.

Project partner Children 1st said the centre would "end the nightmares of thousands of children".

The charity's chief executive Mary Glasgow said the centre would "transform" Scotland's systems of justice, health, care and protection.

Andover pastor cleared of sexual abuse charge, returns to church

Andover Townsman

April 2, 2020

By Paul Tennant

The Rev. Peter Gori has been reinstated as pastor of St. Augustine Church, the Archdiocese of Boston announced this week.

Gori is expected to resume his duties by Sunday – which is Palm Sunday – according to Cardinal Sean O’Malley, archbishop of Boston.

Gori, a member of the Order of St. Augustine since 1973, was placed on administrative leave in April 2019 after a man, now in his 40s, claimed that Gori and another priest, the Rev. William Waters, sexually abused him more than 30 years ago.

“I assure you, as I assured the provincial, that the accusation is false,” Gori wrote in a letter to parishioners when the allegation surfaced. The provincial, the regional leader of Augustinian priests in the eastern U.S., had informed Gori of the accusation.

The Augustinian order relied on an independent investigator, Praesidium Inc., as well as the order’s independent review board in concluding the allegation could not be substantiated, according to a press release issued by the Archdiocese of Boston.

Australia’s highest court to judge cardinal’s abuse appeal

Associated Press via Washington Post

April 6, 2020

By Rod McGuirk

Australia’s highest court on Tuesday will judge Cardinal George Pell’s appeal against convictions for molesting two teenage choirboys more than two decades ago. But the legal battle over the world’s most senior Catholic convicted of sexually abusing children may not end there.

The High Court could deliver Pope Francis’ former finance minister a sweeping victory or an absolute defeat. Or the seven judges could settle on one of several options in between that could extend the appeal process for another year or more.

The 78-year-old cleric cleric has spent 13 months in two high-security prisons at high risk of having a coronavirus outbreak, and he would have strong grounds for being released on bail if the court case is extended.

Pell was sentenced by a Victoria state County Court judge in March last year to six years in prison for sexually abusing two 13-year-old choirboys in a back room of St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Melbourne in December 1996 while he was archbishop of Australia’s second-largest city.

Pell was also convicted of indecently assaulting one of the boys by painfully squeezing his genitals after a Mass in early 1997. Pell must serve three years and eight months behind bars before he becomes eligible for parole.

One of the former choirboys died of a heroin overdose in 2014 aged 31. Pell has largely been convicted on the testimony of the survivor, now the father of a young family aged in his 30s, who first went to police in 2015. The identities of both victims are concealed by state law.

A jury had unanimously convicted Pell of all five charges in December 2018, but he was spared prison for three months while he underwent replacement surgery for both knees.

The High Court has examined whether the Victorian Court of Appeal was correct in its 2-1 majority decision in August to uphold the jury verdicts.

April 5, 2020

Opinion: 'Get Pell' an unhealthy endorsement for Victorian Justice, regardless


April 5, 2020

Chris Friel

The allegations of sexual abuse against Cardinal Pell were investigated by the Victorian Police, in particular by Taskforce SANO. This note gathers together some pertinent questions. In the wake of the Carl Beech case in the UK Sir Richard Henriques was asked to report on Operation Midland,[i] and I would urge that something of the order of a judge led inquiry is needed to understand Operation Tethering. This somewhat disordered list is written in the hope that one day we may get a comprehensive insight into what was going on.

1. Tethering. We begin with this get Pell operation (Robert Richter), or as Paul Sheridan termed it, the Intel Probe, set up in 2013.[ii] Clearly, that was before R had died (in 2014) and J had complained (in 2015). Apparently, it was the inspiration of Michael Dwyer.[iii] How did it come about? Here we would point out the association with Byline (Lucie Morris Marrs platform) and Exaro News who were so heavily involved in the Carl Beech case.[iv]

Justice checks suspected abuse in Catholic children's home


April 5, 2020

Is it a “second Ettal”? A former pupil of the Catholic Piusheim in Bavaria reported massive abuse in court – not the first allegation of this kind.

The judiciary is investigating allegations of abuse against a former Catholic children’s and youth home in the municipality of Baiern near Munich. The public prosecutor’s office in Munich II, according to its own statements, initiated preliminary investigations against a former educator of the youth village Piusheim as well as a priest at the time.

The background to the investigation is allegations of massive sexual abuse that became known as part of a trial before the Munich II Regional Court. A 56-year-old man, who is himself accused of serious abuse of young children, had shown in court that he had been abused by several men in Piusheim, among others, in his childhood and adolescence.

The witness also spoke of prostitution and “sex parties” around the home. “Ninety percent of the boys went out and stole the villagers at the weekend, ten percent went to Munich to buy.” Two of his friends had hanged himself, and he himself had tried to commit suicide as a child.

Titus Trust settles with ‘bash camp’ abuse victims

The Guardian

April 5, 2020

By Harriet Sherwood

Boys’ lives were blighted after sadistic beatings by John Smyth more than 40 years ago, successor group admits

A Christian organisation whose forerunner ran holiday camps that led to boys being beaten sadistically has reached a settlement with three men and acknowledged that “lives have been blighted”.

The Titus Trust has expressed “profound regret” for the abuse carried out by John Smyth QC and has apologised for “additional distress” caused by the way the trust responded to the allegations.

The abuse scandal at the so-called “Bash camps” in the 1970s and 80s embroiled Justin Welby, who is now the archbishop of Canterbury, and who worked at the Christian holiday centres in the 1970s.

After allegations of abuse and its cover-up emerged three years ago, Welby said he knew Smyth but had been “completely unaware” of any abuse at the time. He apologised on behalf of the Church of England, which later ordered an independent review into the allegations.

DA's office reveals evidence to be introduced in child sex trial

Texarkana Gazette

April 5, 2020

By Lynn LaRowe

The notice alleges local pastor's wife was aware of his child sexual abuse and attempted to conceal it.

Prosecutors filed a notice Friday of evidence they intend to introduce at the trial of a local pastor charged with 18 felonies involving alleged child sexual abuse.

Logan Wesley III, 56, was arrested in November on a single felony charge involving one alleged victim. In February, a Bowie County grand jury returned three indictments involving three different girls which list a total of 18 felony counts. First Assistant District Attorney Kelley Crisp filed a notice Friday of the state's intent to introduce other evidence of Wesley's alleged misconduct.

The notice alleges Wesley's wife was aware of his child sexual abuse and attempted to conceal it. Wesley's wife allegedly contacted one of the alleged victims on social media in July 2018 and asked her to keep silent and show "grace and mercy" because "she was worried about what the publicity would do for her son's budding music career and her child daycare business," the notice states.

Coronavirus: I'm in lockdown with my abuser

BBC News

March 31, 2020

By Megha Mohan

With much of the world on coronavirus lockdown, there are warnings that those living with domestic abuse could become hidden victims of the pandemic.

In the UK, calls to the national abuse hotline went up by 65% this weekend, according to the domestic abuse commissioner for England and Wales. Meanwhile, the UN has warned that women in poorer countries and smaller homes are likely to have fewer ways to report abuse.

The BBC has spoken to two women who are currently under lockdown with men who they say have abused them.

Bishop Zubik holds on to hope amid shutdown

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

April 5, 2020

By Peter Smith

In mid-March, Pittsburgh Bishop David Zubik joined other Pennsylvania Roman Catholic bishops in lifting the usual obligation that Catholics attend weekend Mass — an action that, combined with a growing public wariness of public gatherings amid the coronavirus threat, led to far lower attendance than usual.

That was just the beginning.

After that weekend of March 14-15, Bishop Zubik canceled Masses and other large church gatherings entirely, while arranging for priests to hear confessions in more spacious but still-confidential settings. Some priests kept their sanctuaries open for individual prayer, and there was still opportunity for small gatherings for baptisms or funerals. Confirmations and first communions were canceled for the last half of March, then for April.

Prisons’ Passion: Via Crucis meditations reflect on aftermath of crime

Catholic News Service via Catholic Virginian

April 4, 2020

By Junno Arocho Esteves

While Pope Francis’ Way of the Cross service on Good Friday has been transferred to the Vatican because of the coronavirus pandemic, the meditations focus, as always, on those who share the pain, suffering and heartbreak that characterized Christ’s passion and death.

In a letter published in an Italian newspaper in early March, Pope Francis said he chose the Catholic community of the Due Palazzi prison in Padua so that the meditations would reflect on the lives of those involved in the prison system to illustrate how “the resurrection of a person is never the work of an individual, but of a community walking together.”

The result is a set of meditations on the traditional 14 stations written not only by prisoners, but also by people directly affected by crime, including prisoners’ families, victims and even a priest falsely accused of a crime.

National media outlets seek to unseal files from 2015 Tom Benson mental competency lawsuit


April 3, 2020

By Ramon Antonio Vargas

National media outlets are asking a New Orleans court to unseal confidential motions and other documents filed when estranged relatives of late Saints owner Tom Benson challenged his mental competency five years ago.

The sealed filings stem from a blockbuster lawsuit in 2015 that pitted Benson against his daughter and grandchildren. They argued that the billionaire owner of the NFL's Saints and NBA's Pelicans was mentally unfit when he transferred ownership of his business empire to his third wife, Gayle.

Pell decision to come in unusual times

Australian Associated Press via the West Australian

April 5, 2020

By Karen Sweeney

Deep inside Melbourne's imposing St Patrick's Cathedral, two young boys dressed in their choir robes snuck off to swig sacramental wine in the priest's sacristy.

It was a room forbidden to all but a few - certainly off limits to the likes of the two 13-year-olds who found their way inside after a Sunday Mass.

By some accounts that area is a hive of activity on Sunday mornings, but for six minutes one day in December 1996 the two boys found themselves in there alone with now-Cardinal George Pell.

"He planted himself in the doorway and said something like 'what are you doing here' or 'you're in trouble'," one of the boys said of the then-archbishop.

Dressed in his ornamental robes Pell exposed himself and molested one of the boys. He then pleasured himself and raped the other.

Those events are a "product of fantasy" and "absolute rubbish", Pell told police when confronted with the allegations in Rome four years ago.

April 4, 2020

Catholic Priests Suspended in Colombia over Abuse Claim

Agence France Presse via OutlookIndia.com

April 4, 2020

The Catholic Church in Colombia has suspended 15 priests accused of sexual abuse, the archdiocese of the city of Villavicencio said on Friday.

The suspension was "a precautionary measure ... because there is an ongoing investigation," priest Carlos Villabon told AFP.

On February 14 a man, whose name has been withheld, accused the priests of "actions against sexual morality," according to the statement by the Villavicencio archdiocese.

Opinion: Time and timing crucial to Cardinal Pell appeal

The Catholic Weekly

April 4, 2020

By Peter Westmore

The High Court decision on Tuesday morning will be discussed in a livestreamed event at 7.30pm (details below)

Cardinal George Pell’s appeal to the High Court took place on March 11 and 12. The case was heard by a Full Bench of the High Court, which includes all seven justices currently on the court.

Cardinal Pell was not present – he is confined in Barwon Prison, a high-security facility in Victoria.

He was appealing against a 2:1 majority verdict of the Victorian Court of Appeal of last August. It has taken over six months for this matter to reach the High Court of Australia. He was not directly appealing against the original jury verdict, but against the majority verdict of the Court of Appeal.

From victims to victimizers: the chains of sexual abuse in the Legionaries of Christ

The Union Journal

Aril 4, 2020

By Carlos Christian

In May 2019, when Ana Lucía Salazar publicly denounced the Mexican priest Fernando Martínez for having abused her at a Legionaries of Christ school in Cancun, she still did not know that he had also been a victim of abuse. Two months earlier, when Italian justice sentenced former Mexican priest Vladimir Reséndiz for abusing two children, some of his former colleagues from the Legion learned that, before being a victimizer, he had been the victim of abuse. “It is part of the Legion’s methodology: prepare for abuse, abuse yourself and become an accomplice,” says Erick Escobar, a former legionary who left that movement to start a fight against cases of pedophilia.

In late December, the Legion of Christ, one of the most powerful congregations in the Catholic Church, surprised the world when it released a report admitting 175 cases of child abuse within the order founded by the Mexican priest Marcial Maciel in 1941, most of them committed by their own founder and from the very moment of the foundation. However, what was most revealing was not the verification of the vexations that had been denounced by different victims over the course of eight decades, but rather what the report hinted at: that pedophilia within the Legion was not the result of the perversion of some priests, but part of a foundational dynamic that reached all levels and guaranteed spaces of power for those willing to participate or remain silent.

La Iglesia católica de Colombia suspende a 19 sacerdotes por abuso sexual

[The Catholic Church of Colombia suspends 19 priests for sexual abuse]

El País

April 3, 2020

By Catalina Oquendo

El arzobispo de Villavicencio asegura que se tratan de actos “deplorables” y de suma gravedad

[Note: The following is Google's translation of the original Spanish.]

[The Archbishop of Villavicencio assures that these are "deplorable" and extremely serious acts

In 2019, the journalist Juan Pablo Barrientos published the book Let the children come to me, in which he revealed a series of cases of alleged sexual abuse by priests in various regions of Colombia. The book was not only one of the best sellers and suffered censorship attempts by some members of the Catholic Church, but it became the starting point for a news that shook the very religious Colombian society this Friday. A victim read it and took an impulse to denounce other priests. The official complaint reached the Prosecutor's Office and upon hearing it, the archbishop of the Archdiocese of Villavicencio decided to suspend 19 religious from his clergy.]

Iglesia Católica suspende 19 sacerdotes por presuntos actos de abuso sexual

[Catholic Church suspends 19 priests for alleged acts of sexual abuse]

Caracol Radio

April 3, 2020

By Juan Pablo Barrientos

Quince de ellos en Villavicencio. El denunciante es ahora un testigo protegido de la Fiscalía.

[Note: The following is a Google Translation from the original Spanish]

[Fifteen of them in Villavicencio. The complainant is now a protected witness for the Prosecutor's Office.

On March 16, the president of the Episcopal Conference and Archbishop of Villavicencio, Monsignor Óscar Urbina , in an unprecedented act in the Catholic Church of Colombia, suspended 15 priests who, according to a protected witness from the Prosecutor's Office, formed along with 4 other priests, a network of sexual abusers that operated in Meta, Guaviare, Italy and the United States.

After learning about this publication from Caracol Radio, the Archdiocese of Villavicencio issued a statement in which they assure that “on February 14, 2020, a Colombian citizen, of legal age, brought to the attention of the competent body, facts against the sexual morality of some priests of this Archdiocese ”. The statement continues: "Aware that these acts are extremely serious, the Archdiocese of Villavicencio deplores and feels deep pain at this situation."]

April 3, 2020

Harrisburg Diocese bankruptcy case granted a stay until June

CBS21 News

April 2, 2020

The bankruptcy case involving the Harrisburg Diocese continued Thursday.

Attorneys for the diocese and trustees called in for a hearing Thursday morning, where two motions were granted, basically extending the case.

The diocese was allowed to continue using its current cash management system, and a stay until June was approved.

The diocese filed for bankruptcy earlier this year following multiple lawsuits over the clergy sex abuse scandal.

Three-quarters of U.S. Catholics view Pope Francis favorably, though partisan differences persist

Pew Research Center

April 3, 2020

By Justin Nortey and Claire Gecewicz

Americans’ opinions of Pope Francis have rebounded slightly after hitting an all-time low almost two years ago in the wake of Catholic Church sex abuse scandals, according to a recent Pew Research Center survey.

Six-in-ten U.S. adults say they have a “very” or “mostly” favorable view of Pope Francis, up from roughly half who said this in September of 2018, when the question was last asked. At that time, a Pennsylvania grand jury had just published a report revealing decades of child sexual abuse by Catholic priests, and former cardinal Theodore McCarrick had recently resigned because of separate sex abuse allegations.

Archbishop Gregory calls abuse a 'spiritual felony' during Mass for National Child Abuse Prevention Month


April 3, 2020

By Richard Szczepanowski

Calling the abuse of children a “spiritual felony,” Washington Archbishop Wilton Gregory offered prayers April 3 for victims of such abuse and prayed that God would “help us respect the dignity of all the young, vulnerable and those who need protection.”

Archbishop Gregory made the prayer during a Mass he celebrated for National Child Abuse Prevention Month in April. The Mass was offered in conjunction with the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops' Secretariat for Child and Youth Protection.

While not opened to the public because of shelter-in-place measures to fight the spread of COVID-19, the Mass was streamed live via the Archdiocese of Washington's Facebook page.

"With so much attention focused on the serious threats to our physical health … we might well acknowledge that the month of April is also dedicated to our commitment to the health, protection and safety of our young people and for the continued healing of the scars of abuse that too many people have suffered in their own childhood,” Archbishop Gregory said.

He said that National Child Abuse Prevention Month “calls our attention to the dangers of sexual, physical, and emotional abusive treatments that youngsters may face.”

Democrats support Pope Francis more than Republicans, new poll finds


April 3, 2020

By Christopher White

A new study reveals that while American Catholics still overwhelmingly view Pope Francis favorably, he enjoys more support from Catholic Democrats than he does Catholic Republicans.

The new data was released on Friday by the Pew Research Center and found that seven years after his election as pope, six out of ten U.S. adults (or 59 percent) view Francis favorably, with three-quarters of American Catholics (or 77 percent) sharing a positive opinion of the pope.

The latest findings from Pew show Francis faring slightly better than when they last conducted polling on him among Americans in September 2018 when his numbers dipped to an all-time low of 51 percent among U.S. adults and 72 percent among American Catholics.

Despite coronavirus risks, some Texas religious groups are worshipping in person — with the governor's blessing

The Texas Tribune and ProPublica

April 2, 2020

By Kiah Collier, Perla Trevizo and Vianna Davila

COVID-19 has spread rapidly in Texas, and many congregations closed their doors and moved religious services online. But there are some religious groups who say it’s their right to remain open because they believe they provide an essential service to their communities.

This article is co-published with ProPublica, a nonprofit newsroom that investigates abuses of power. Sign up for ProPublica’s Big Story newsletter to receive stories like this one in your inbox as soon as they are published.

At least 25 parishioners filed into a beige-brick church here Wednesday evening and were handed rubber gloves at the door. A handwritten sign directed them to designated areas with seats that had been spaced 6 feet apart. Another sign laid out five things people should do to keep from spreading the new strain of coronavirus, including staying away if they felt sick.

The founding pastor of City on a Hill, Juan Bustamante, was in a particularly good mood. A day earlier, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott joined 30-plus other governors around the country in issuing a statewide stay-at-home order — though he declined to refer to it as such — that also designated religious services as essential. Under the order, Texans must stay home unless they work in certain business sectors or are grocery shopping, running must-do errands or exercising outdoors. Or going to church.

Abbott’s order came the same day the country’s top health experts estimated the virus could kill between 100,000 to 240,000 Americans, and that’s assuming people across the country adhere to social distancing guidelines. Otherwise, the numbers could climb much higher, to more than 2 million dead.

Own goal part two: 24 Catholic seminarians punished for kickabout despite MCO

The Star

April 2, 2020

By Imran Hilmy

Twenty-four seminarians pleaded guilty at the Magistrate's Court here to flouting the movement control order (MCO).

All the suspects made the plea when the charges were read separately before Magistrate Rosnee Mohd Radzuan.

They were accused of committing the offence at a field of College General around 5.30pm on March 31.

Call an abuse survivor today or someone in a tough relationship


March 30, 2020

During this pandemic, reports of possible child abuse are down and reports of domestic violence are up. Both trends are troubling. You can help make a difference here.

About 70% of all suspected child abuse reports come from teachers, counselors and doctors. As fewer kids see these professionals, fewer reports get made.

Is more child abuse happening now, as families are cooped up together? No one knows. But fewer reports are being called in to state child protection agencies.

That means that some children who would benefit from the intervention of child safety workers aren’t getting attention these days because of the Covid-19 crisis.

But it’s different with domestic violence, advocates say. Partner and spousal abuse IS happening more often now, they believe.

According to NBC News, “as lawmakers across the country order lockdowns to slow the spread of the virus, the lives of people stuck in physically or emotionally abusive relationships have — and will — become harder, which has already been seen in the pandemic hotspots of China and Italy.”

Australian High Court to Issue Cardinal Pell Decision Next Week

Catholic News Agency via National Catholic Register

April 2, 2020

Cardinal Pell has told friends he remains faithful to God’s providence and committed to living his time in prison in the spirit of a monastic retreat.

The High Court of Australia will hand down its decision in the case of Cardinal George Pell next week. The justices are considering Cardinal Pell’s petition for special leave to appeal his 2018 conviction for sexual abuse.

The court announced Thursday that a decision would be issued by the seven justices in the case Cardinal Pell v. The Crown on April 7 at 10 am. By the time the decision is handed down, the bench will have considered the cardinal’s case for just over three weeks, after hearing two days of arguments in the case last month.

Cardinal Pell is seeking to appeal the 2-1 split decision of the Court of Appeal in Victoria to sustain his 2018 conviction on five counts of child sexual abuse over two separate instances.

The High Court heard arguments from Cardinal Pell’s legal team and from state prosecutors March 11-12, after which the justices reserved judgment.

'Inside the Vatican' Premieres on PBS April 28


April 2, 2020

Film looks at lives of those who live and work inside Vatican City

PBS will premiere the documentary Inside the Vatican Tuesday, April 28 at 9 p.m. The film looks behind the scenes into the lives of those who live and work inside the Vatican City, the headquarters of the Roman Catholic church.

Pope Francis, who has lead the Catholic church since 2013, has challenged attitudes on divorce and homosexuality and is not afraid of confronting opponents, the press release stated. He appointed 14 new cardinals from parts of Iraq, Madagascar and Pakistan.

The film also looks at Pope Francis's visit to Ireland back in August. Just before he was scheduled to depart, a sex scandal was reported alleging the Catholic Church’s cover up of Catholic priests abusing young children. The report accused more than 300 priests of abusing more than 1,000 children.

Second Augustinian priest cleared of abuse claim

Lawrence Eagle Tribune

April 2, 2020

By Paul Tennant

The Rev. William Waters, OSA, has been exonerated of an allegation of abuse, according to a statement from the leader of Augustinian priests in the eastern United States.

The Rev. Peter Gori, OSA, who is also a member of the Order of St. Augustine, was exonerated and returned to ministry earlier this week. Cardinal Sean O'Malley, archbishop of Boston, announced Gori has returned as pastor of St. Augustine Church in Andover.

Waters and Gori were placed on leave last April after a man now in his 40s accused both priests of sexually abusing him in the 1980s. Both the Archdiocese of Boston and the Order of St. Augustine said the accusation against Gori was thoroughly investigated and determined to be unsubstantiated.

April 2, 2020

Disgraced Cardinal Pell gets new day in court

Agence France-Presse

April 2, 2020

Australia's High Court said Thursday it will rule on Cardinal George Pell's appeal against child sex abuse convictions on April 7, giving the senior cleric another chance to clear his name and leave jail.
The 78-year-old former Vatican treasurer is trying to overturn a six-year sentence for sexually assaulting two 13-year-old choirboys in the 1990s.

Pell, who once helped elect popes, is the highest-ranking Catholic Church official ever convicted of child sex crimes. He maintains his innocence.

Legal experts have struggled to predict the progression of the high-profile case, as it threw up one surprise after another.

Judges could yet deny Pell's appeal, order a retrial or quash his conviction altogether.

High Court decision on Pell appeal due next week


April 2, 2020

The High Court of Australia has announced it will hand down its decision on Cardinal George Pell's final bid for freedom in Brisbane next week.

Australia's highest court will deliver its decision at 10:00am on Tuesday, 7 April.

Pell is serving a maximum of six years' jail after a jury found him guilty of sexually abusing two choirboys in St Patrick's Cathedral in 1996 when he was Catholic Archbishop of Melbourne.

He was convicted of one count of sexual penetration of a child under 16 and four counts of committing an indecent act with a child.

The former advisor to the Pope maintains he is innocent.

Women are using code words at pharmacies to escape domestic violence during lockdown


April 2, 2020

By Ivana Kottasová and Valentina Di Donato

On Sunday, a woman walked into a pharmacy in the French city of Nancy, one of the few public places still open after the government imposed a nationwide lockdown to prevent the spread of a dangerous virus.

But the woman wasn't there for medicine; she was there to tell the pharmacist that her partner had abused her. Soon after, the woman's spouse was arrested by police.
As the coronavirus pandemic forces countries everywhere to take unprecedented steps to restrict the movement of their citizens, victims of domestic violence have suddenly found themselves trapped at home with their abusive partners. Some are unable -- or too afraid -- to call the police, experts say.

SNAP says ‘thank you’ to Journalist Bob Allen

SNAP Network

March 30, 2020

With 14 years of courageous reporting on Baptist clergy sex abuse and church cover-ups, journalist Bob Allen made a difference in the lives of countless survivors and helped to make church kids throughout the country safer. In response to the announcement of his retirement on March 31, SNAP can only say “thank you.”

Bob Allen was there on the scene in 2006 at the very first SNAP media event outside “the Baptist Vatican” – i.e., the Southern Baptist Convention headquarters in Nashville. From that point forward, day in and day out, his news articles continued to document the Baptist clergy sex abuse scandal and the early activist efforts in the movement for child safety and clergy accountability among Baptists.

He methodically reported the stories of numerous Baptist clergy abuse survivors long before the momentum of the #ChurchToo movement, and at a time when many still mistakenly viewed clergy sex abuse as being limited to a Catholic problem.

George Pell decision to be handed down next week

The Courier

April 2, 2020

Disgraced Cardinal George Pell will learn next week whether his final bid for freedom has been successful.

The High Court will hand down its judgment in his case on Tuesday.

His lawyers have argued Victoria's Court of Appeal majority made an error in refusing the previous appeal bid last year, and that there was not enough evidence for a jury to convict him of the sexual abuse of two choirboys at Melbourne's St Patrick's Cathedral in 1996.

Pell was convicted by a jury in 2018 on the word of a single choirboy that he was sexually abused as a teenager by Australia's highest-ranking Catholic.

Pell High Court decision due next week


April 1, 2020

By Karen Sweeney

Disgraced Cardinal George Pell will learn next week whether his final bid for freedom has been successful.

The High Court will hand down its judgment in his case in Brisbane on Tuesday morning.

Pell is one year into a six-year jail sentence handed down after a jury found him guilty in 2018 of sexually abusing two 13-year-old choirboys at Melbourne's St Patrick's Cathedral in 1996.

Point/Counterpoint: The New York Child Victims Act

NY Daily News

April 2, 2020

By Teri Hatcher and Tom Andriola

The one-year look-back window will end this summer for victims of child sexual abuse to sue their abusers. Should New York extent the deadline?
Extended deadline would mean more justice

As children, we were both abused by family members, people close to us, people we trusted. We both eventually spoke out as part of our own healing process and, more importantly, to protect other people, but it took us decades to disclose our abuse even to those closest to us.

The science of trauma is clear: It takes time for survivors to come forward and by the time we're ready, many of us have lost the chance to pursue justice in the courts. That's why the one year look-back window of the Child Victims Act is so important. Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic just hit pause for thousands of survivors who thought they still had time to file a civil lawsuit.

Catholic bishops' forum finds 16 cases of child sexual abuse in Japan

Kyodo News

April 2, 2020

The Catholic Bishops' Conference of Japan has found 16 cases of sexual abuse against minors spanning from the 1950s to the 2010s in its internal probe of churches in the country, sources familiar with the matter said Thursday.

The Tokyo-based organization has been investigating all its 16 dioceses and other convents in Japan since last May, calling for people to come forward with reports of sexual abuse regardless of when it occurred.

The investigation found some elementary school students -- both boys and girls -- as well as a child under the age of 6 were among those who had been subjected to sexual abuse, which took place in a priest's room, church buildings and other facilities run by convents including foster homes, according to the sources.

New accusations against most senior Catholic official to be convicted of child sex abuse

The Telegraph

April 2, 2020

By Giovanni Torre

George Pell said to have abused two children who had lived in the same orphanage in 1970s

New allegations of child abuse against George Pell have been made public for the first time, as the disgraced Australian Cardinal awaits the High Court decision on his appeal against convictions for rape and sexual assault.

Pell, once the most powerful Catholic in Australia, became the church's most senior official to be convicted of child sexual abuse in 2018 when he was sentenced to six years imprisonment.

On Thursday it was announced the decision in Pell’s High Court appeal would come next week. Earlier that same day, allegations of sexual abuse were publicly levelled against Pell by two men who had lived in the same orphanage in Ballarat, Victoria, as children.

High Court to rule on Pell’s final freedom bid

The Australian

April 2, 2020

By John Ferguson

The High Court will hand down its judgment on George Pell’s appeal next Tuesday in what will be his last chance of freedom before having to serve a minimum term of three years and eight months.

The court announced on Thursday the judgment would be delivered in Brisbane, with several scenarios possible including that he walks free from Victoria’s Barwon Prison soon after 10am.

The High Court tweeted its intention to deliver the judgment in arguably the most contentious criminal matter in Australia since Lindy Chamberlain was convicted in 1982 of killing her daughter, ­Azaria, at Uluru.

Pell, 78, has not spoken publicly since he was charged in 2017 with sexually assaulting two choirboys at Melbourne’s St Patrick’s Cathedral in 1996 and 1997.

The charges have been stridently contested by the cardinal’s Rolls-Royce legal team, which has included two of Australia’s most respected barristers — Bret Walker SC and Robert Richter QC.

There are several options that could flow from the judgment, including potential early release, or even being referred back to the Victorian Court of Appeal.

However, the court has not yet declared whether it has even accepted the appeal, argument for which was heard last month before the full bench.

Pell was convicted in 2019 of five sex abuse charges against the two 13-year-old choirboys, leading to a six-year jail term.

Pell has maintained his innocence, saying he did not abuse the children in St Patrick’s Cathedral, and is said to have been shocked that the matters progressed past the County Court trials in Melbourne.

Victorian Director of Public Prosecutions Kerri Judd QC had a torrid time in the High Court, shifting the time frame for when the offending could have occurred at the cathedral in 1996.

The original narrative was that it occurred in a window of five to six months, but there has been extensive evidence before the court suggesting this was both impossible and improbable.

The prosecution relied heavily in the County Court and Court of Appeal on the surviving choirboy’s evidence, arguing that he was compelling and a witness of truth. The second choirboy died of a drug overdose several years ago and had denied ever being sexually assaulted.

Pell did not give evidence at trial, instead relying on a video-­recorded police interview in Italy before he was charged.

The full bench was asked last month to acquit Pell, 78, of five charges of molestin­g the two 13-year-olds in 1996 and 1997 while archbishop of Melbourne. Experts have predicted a possible acquittal as Mr Walker effectively asked the full bench to free his client.

Pell is being kept in Barwon Prison, having been transferred from Melbourne’s assessment prison, where he was held in solitary confinement before being shifted amid security concerns.

Unless cleared by the High Court, he will serve a minimum of three years and eight months.

Australia’s highest court to rule on Pell’s appeal next week

Associated Press

April 2, 2020

By Rod McGurk

Australia’s highest court will deliver its ruling next week on whether to overturn the convictions of Cardinal George Pell, the most senior Catholic convicted of child sex abuse.

The 78-year-old Pell is one year into a six-year sentence for molesting two 13-year-old choirboys in Melbourne’s St. Patrick’s Cathedral while he was the city’s archbishop in the late 1990s.

The High Court said Thursday a single judge will deliver the verdicts of all seven at 10 a.m. Tuesday in the east coast city of Brisbane. It had heard his appeal March 11-12 before the court’s hearings were canceled due to the coronavirus risk.

Hearing on priest delayed

Mining Gazette

April 1, 2020

By Garrett Neese

The preliminary hearing for a former Ontonagon County priest accused of molesting several children has been postponed indefinitely because of the reduced court calendar to combat COVID-19.

Gary Jacobs, 74, who now lives in New Mexico, faces 10 counts of criminal sexual conduct in Ontonagon County. All stem from alleged incidents between 1981 and 1984 in which he is said to have abused his position as a priest.

His preliminary hearing had been scheduled for Monday.

Jacobs was charged in January with seven criminal sexual conduct charges in three cases in Ontonagon County and one count of criminal sexual conduct in Dickinson County, all stemming from alleged incidents between 1981 and 1984.

SN oddalił skargi Towarzystwa Chrystusowego. Precedensowy wyrok ws. ofiary księdza pedofila utrzymany

[The Supreme Court dismissed the complaints of the Christ Society. The precedent verdict on the victim of pedophile priest maintained]


March 31, 2020

[GOOGLE TRANSLATION FROM POLISH: The Supreme Court did not accept the appeal lodged by the Christ Society. It upheld the verdict under which the victim of the former priest Roman B. received a million zlotys compensation and a life annuity. B., who belonged to the Society of Christ, was previously sentenced to four years in prison.

Katarzyna, a victim of priest Roman B., who had already imprisoned and raped her as a 13-year-old girl, received the highest compensation in the history of Poland in the case of clerical harassment: PLN 1 million and PLN 800 annuity paid every month. This judgment was issued last year by the Poznań District Court and the Poznań Court of Appeal upheld it.]

April 1, 2020

Polish Catholic Church liable for sex abuse compensation claims

The Irish Times

April 1, 2020

By Derek Scally

Supreme court ruling gives clear signal to survivors and religious for future cases

Poland’s Catholic Church is facing a tidal wave of compensation bills after the country’s highest court ruled it is liable for damages for people abused by its priests and religious.

The supreme court dismissed a challenge by a religious order, the Society of Christ Fathers, to a lower court ruling that it carried ultimate responsibility for compensating a woman abused by one of its priests.

In the lower court the woman, identified only as Kasia, was awarded one million zloty (€220,000) – which the order has already paid before launching a final legal challenge.

Archbishop Gregory to celebrate live streamed Mass April 3 for National Child Abuse Prevention Month

Catholic Standard

April 1, 2020

By Richard Szczepanowski

Washington Archbishop Wilton Gregory will celebrate Mass April 3 at noon to mark April as National Child Abuse Prevention Month.

While not opened to the public, the Mass will be live streamed on the Archdiocese of Washington's Facebook page. (https://www.facebook.com/adw.org/) The direct link to the video is: https://www.facebook.com/adw.org/posts/3245631122121772.

Offered in conjunction with the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops' Secretariat for Child and Youth Protection, the Mass was originally scheduled to be offered in the chapel at the conference's headquarters. But as Catholic agencies have closed their doors in an effort to contain the spread of COVID-19, Archbishop Gregory will offer the Mass from his private chapel.

We Help Child Sex Abuse Survivors Break Their Silence When We Show Them Support

Ms. Magazine

April 1, 2020

By Ashley Garling

This month, communities across the country are gathering at local ‘Take Back the Night’ events in observance and support of those impacted by sexual violence. In the last year—as news broke about Baptist church leaders abusing children and the Pope acknowledged nuns were being abused by church leaders—sexual violence facing children proved to be an international crisis. Investigations of both found the majority of the crimes had been long standing and some even continued for decades, but little is said about support for the victims.

This silence is dangerous. Without access to healthcare, support from loved ones and support from the community, it can lead to serious mental health consequences.

In ''Broken Faith'' Reporters Uncover Decades Of Abuse At Spindale Church


April 1, 2020

By Katy Barron & Anita Rao

In this March 2, 1995 file photo, Word of Faith Fellowship church leader Jane Whaley talks to members of the media as husband Sam listens during a news conference in Spindale, N.C. Whaley has persuaded a magistrate to issue trespassing charges against Democratic candidate David Wheeler, who brought supporters and a TV crew along to a scheduled meeting at the church. Wheeler says he was invited by Whaley to visit the church, which has been accused of beating congregants to expel demons.

When former schoolteacher Jane Whaley and her husband, Sam, founded Word of Faith Fellowship in Spindale, NC in 1979, no one could have imagined all that the institution would become: a religious movement with global impact; a community that provides housing and job opportunities to its congregation; and a cult dogged with allegations of physical, psychological and spiritual abuse.

Two new accusers say George Pell abused them when they were boys in the 1970s


April 1, 2020

By Sarah Ferguson

For decades, 53-year-old Bernie* kept the secrets of his childhood deeply buried.

As a boy growing up in a Ballarat orphanage in the 1970s, Bernie told the ABC's Revelation program that he was abused on multiple occasions by George Pell, then a priest in the diocese of Ballarat.

For years Bernie was convinced that if he reported the abuse, he would not be believed.

"I would hear Pell's become Bishop," Bernie says.

COMMENTARY: How Do Falsely Accused Priests Get Their Reputations Back?


April 1, 2020

By Bill Donohue

In 1987, Raymond Donovan, former Secretary of Labor under President Ronald Reagan, was acquitted of charges that he conspired with the mafia for a business transaction. When he walked out of court a free man, he was asked by the media how he felt. He famously quipped, "Which office do I go to to get my reputation back?"

Annual Report from the Archdiocese of Washington's Child Protection Advisory Board for July 1, 2018 through June 30, 2019

Catholic Standard

April 1, 2020

(The following is the text of the annual report from the Archdiocese of Washington's Child Protection Advisory Board for July 1, 2018 through June 30, 2019.)

The Archdiocese of Washington’s Child Protection & Safe Environment Office continues to expand its mission to create and implement effective programs and initiatives to educate and empower community members on the issues of child protection and safe environment. The office’s priority is to provide the most current information to ensure and promote the safety and well-being of all community members while in the presence of the Catholic faith. Some important aspects of the office:

OPINION: "Revelation" reveals cover-up and denial by pedophile priests

Eternity News

April 1, 2020

By Chrissie Foster

The second episode of ABC’s Revelation series last night followed reporter Sarah Ferguson into the maximum security prison where Bernard McGrath, a prolific pedophile, is incarcerated. “In a tense exchange, McGrath moves between denial and revelation about the complicity of the Church in his crimes,” the program summary says.

Chrissie Foster, whose daughters Emma and Katie were raped by Melbourne priest Kevin O’Donnell while they were at primary school in the 1980s, has become a advocate for survivors of clergy sexual abuse.

This is her response to episode two of “Revelation.”

Arkansas Baptists seek dismissal of sexual abuse lawsuit


March 31, 2020

By Diana Chandler

The Arkansas Baptist State Convention (ABSC), Millcreek Baptist Church and other defendants have denied allegations and filed motions to dismiss a 2019 lawsuit accusing them of liability in alleged multiple sexual assaults of a minor.

The defendants responded to a lawsuit filed in December 2019 accusing former Millcreek pastor Teddy Hill Jr. of sexually assaulting Riley Fields over a period of years. Fields, now 19, alleges the sexual assaults began in 2014 and continued after Hill was appointed as Field’s guardian in 2016, according to court documents filed in the Ninth Circuit Court of Pulaski County, Ark. Fields originally identified himself as John Doe, but revealed his name in an amended complaint in January.

Allentown Diocese failed to protect victim from decades of abuse, New Jersey lawsuit claims

Morning Call

March 31, 2020

By Peter Hall

An Allentown Diocese priest raped a victim when he was an altar boy and continued assaulting him for decades after the priest became known to diocese officials as a pedophile, a lawsuit filed in New Jersey alleges.

The suit claims the Rev. Robert G. Cofenas began abusing the victim, who is identified by the pseudonym John Doe, when he was a 7-year-old altar boy at Holy Rosary Roman Catholic Church in Reading. The abuse continued until the victim was in his 30s.

The suit alleges Cofenas identified the victim to other priests as a source of sexual gratification and names two who also allegedly assaulted the victim, including an Allentown Diocese priest who has never been publicly accused.

Cofenas was first identified as an accused priest in the statewide grand jury report on abuse in the church, released in August 2018. The report, produced after a two-year grand jury investigation, identified more than 300 Pennsylvania clergy in six dioceses, including Allentown, as abusers.

News Release: Survivors refute Scicluna’s statement that “silence and cover-ups” in the Church are now “a thing of the past."

Ending Clergy Abuse (ECAGlobal.org)

March 2, 2020

His Holiness, Pope Francis,
Apostolic Palace,
00120 Vatican City.

Dear Pope Francis,

Our organization led the largest international gathering of clergy sexual abuse victims and activists in Rome in February 2019 and 2020. Our conduct was peaceful and our message clear: Zero Tolerance.

Last month, during the first anniversary of your global summit on abuse we returned to Rome to deliver a report on the developments over the past year from around the world. Our presence was not acknowledged and no one from the Vatican or Church leadership approached us. This was in sharp contrast to last year when we were invited to meet with your planning group before the Summit and Cardinals dropped in to visit with us during the Summit for informal exchanges.

We came this year with the expectation of engagement with you or your representatives and to give you our assessment of the past year. We were met with indifference and silence. We were promised in our meeting with the planning group of the summit last year that there would be follow-up and dialogue with us. To date, there has been none.

Media Statement: Archdiocese of Boston Returns Rev. Peter Gori, OSA., to Active Ministry

Archdiocese of Boston

March 30, 2020

Reinstated as Pastor of St. Augustine Parish in Andover

The Archdiocese of Boston announced today that Cardinal Seán P. O’Malley, OFM Cap, has returned Rev. Peter Gori, OSA., to active ministry. In addition, he has reinstated Rev. Gori as Pastor of St. Augustine Parish in Andover, MA.

This follows the completion of a thorough and independent investigation of the facts and circumstances surrounding an allegation of abuse over 25 years ago. The investigation finding is that the allegation is unsubstantiated. Rev. Gori will return to the parish by Palm Sunday.

The Augustinian Order relied upon an independent investigator, Praesidium Inc., and their Independent Review Board in concluding the allegation could not be substantiated. During the investigation, the attorney for the alleged victim withdrew from the case. It was subsequently determined that the alleged dates of abuse did not coincide with Rev. Gori’s assignment history. The alleged victim could not recall details of the abuse and declined to participate any further in the investigation. In addition, the Essex County District Attorney affirmed that it was no longer pursuing an open investigation.