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February 23, 2021

Sioux City diocese settles sexual abuse lawsuit

Sioux City Journal

February 22, 2021

By Nick Hytrek

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

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

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

"We were able to resolve the case," Hopkins said.

The diocese released a similar statement.

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

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

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

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

Child sex abuse lawsuit names Diocese of Ogdensburg as defendant


February 22, 2021

By Sydney Schaeffer

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

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

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

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

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

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

Lawsuit Filed Against Children's Home of Poughkeepsie

Hudson Valley Post

February 18, 2021

By Bobby Welber

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

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

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


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

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

News 12

February 22, 2021

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

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

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

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

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

New Orleans archdiocese overhauls support for sex abuse survivors

Catholic News Service via National Catholic Reporter

February 22, 2021

By Paul Finney Jr.

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

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

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

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

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

Survivors of sex abuse by nuns suffer decades of delayed healing

Global Sisters Report - National Catholic Reporter

February 22, 2021

By Dawn Araujo-Hawkins

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sydney Morning Herald

February 23, 2021

By Jenny Noyes

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Associated Press

February 19, 2021

By Nicole Winfield

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

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

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

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

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

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

Alamogordo Daily News

February 22, 2021

By Nicole Maxwell

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

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

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

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

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


February 21, 2021

By John L. Allen Jr.

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

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

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

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

Associated Press via The Citizens Voice

February 23, 2021

By Raimudos Oki

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

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

He faces up to 20 years in prison if convicted.

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

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

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

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

The Record and NorthJersey.com

February 22, 2021

By Abbott Koloff

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

February 22, 2021

Timor-Leste starts child abuse trial of former US priest

Union of Catholic Asian News

February 22, 2021

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

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

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

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

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

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

San Joaquin Valley Sun

February 18, 2021

By Alex Tavlian


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Associated Press via ABC News

February 21, 2021

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

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

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

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

Somebody Needs to Be Dad

First Things

February 22, 2021

By Francis X. Maier

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

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

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

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


February 18, 2021

By Robert Price

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

Harrison announced Thursday he is leaving the priesthood.

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

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

In Ireland, the Candle of Atonement Reminds Victims of Abuse

Swords Today

February 17, 2021

By Scout Mitchell

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sydney Morning Herald

February 12, 2021

By Declan Fry

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

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

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

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


February 19, 2021

By Natassia Paloma

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

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

Candles were lit, and participants dressed in black.

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

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

February 21, 2021

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

Australian Broadcasting Corporation

February 18, 2021

By Rhiannon Shine


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

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

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

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

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

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

The News Minute

February 21, 2021

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

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

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

Eton hires council officer who urged police action over abuser

The Sunday Times

February 21, 2021

By Sian Griffiths

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

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

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

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

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

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

La Jolla Light

February 19, 2021

By Ashley Mackin-Solomon

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

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

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

February 20, 2021


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

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

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

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

Following the Film:

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


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

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

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

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

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

Religion News Service

February 19, 2021

By Kyle J. Howard

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

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

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

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

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

Valley Catholic priest Monsignor Craig Harrison announces resignation


February 19, 2021

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

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

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

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

Monsignor Craig Harrison resigns following years of sexual abuse allegations


February 18, 2021

By Bayne Froney

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

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

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

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

Fresno Bee

February 19, 2021

By Yesenia Amaro

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

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

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

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

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

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


February 20, 2021

By Tjitske Lingsma

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

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

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

Religion News Service

February 18, 2021

By Sheila Wray Gregoire

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

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

What if it’s the evangelical view of sex?

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

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


February 19, 2021

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

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

State report on child sex abuse by priests paints sobering picture

Bismarck Tribune

February 20, 2021

By Travis Svihovec

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

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

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

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


February 20, 2021


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

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

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

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

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

Vatican News

February 19, 2021

By Robin Gomes

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

Prayer and action

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

Prayer for abuse victims on the first Friday of Lent


February 19, 2021

By Nirmala Carvalho

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

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

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

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

Ravi Zacharias posthumously defrocked, ministry suspends fundraising after abuse report


February 20, 2021

By Bob Smietana

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

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

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

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

February 19, 2021

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

Chicago Sun-Times

February 19, 2021

By Robert Herguth

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

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

A justice speaks; justice is elusive; justice is sought

Boston Globe

February 18, 2021

By Peter Keough

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

True confessions

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

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

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

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

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

NBC Bay Area

February 18, 2021

By Candice Nguyen and Michael Bott

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

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

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

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

[Opinion] From Cardinal Seán's blog

The Pilot (Archdiocese of Boston)

February 19, 2021

By Cardinal Seán O'Malley

Interview with Teresa Pitt Green

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

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

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


February 18, 2021

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

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

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


February 18, 2021

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

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

Ex-NSW priest, 85, accused of abusing boy

Australian Associated Press via Yahoo News

February 18, 2021

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

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

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

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

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

Hindustan Times

February 18, 2021

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

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

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

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

AFP Fact Check

February 19, 2021

By Richard Kang

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

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

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

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

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

Catholic News Agency

February 19, 2021

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

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

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

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

Catholic Primate of Ireland apologises to victims and abuse survivors


February 19, 2021

By Ailbhe Conneely

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

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

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

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

Yorkshire Evening Post

February 18, 2021

By Tony Gardner


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

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

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

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

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

NCA NewsWire via Townsville Bulletin

February 19, 2021

By Erin Lyons


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

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

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

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

Christian Brother Rex Elmer jailed for sexually abusing boys

The Age

February 19, 2021

By Erin Pearson

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

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

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

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

Protection of minors: A balance is needed

Vatican News

February 18, 2021

By Gudrun Sailer

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

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

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

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

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


February 18, 2021

By Guy Bell

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

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

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

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

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


February 18, 2021

By Clive Hammond

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

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

Mr Gomes said "this internal crisis in the end broke Benedict's back".

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

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

Pillar Catholic

February 18, 2021

By JD Flynn

Analysis: Canada

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

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

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

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

In 1990, Mount Cashel closed.

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

February 18, 2021

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

Canadian Catholic News via Catholic Register

February 18, 2021

By Brian Dryden

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

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

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

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

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

Catholic News Agency

February 18, 2021

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

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

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

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

SNAP (Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests)

February 17, 2021

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

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

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


February 18, 2021

By John L. Allen Jr.

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

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

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

New Vatican thriller captures the cost of scandal


February 17, 2021

By John L. Allen Jr.

How do you measure the cost of a scandal?

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

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

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

Our Opinion: Diocese suit shows need for transparency

Berkshire Eagle

February 17, 2021

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

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

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

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

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

Former Harrisburg priest sentenced to 5 years probation in abuse case


February 17, 2021

By Kayla Brown

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

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

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

The Catholic Church previously dismissed Allen from the clerical state.

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

Department of Religious Studies, University of Virginia

Virtual Event:

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


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

[Opinion] Bishops strong-arming faithful priests

Church Militant

February 17, 2021

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

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

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

Xanana Gusmão condemned over visit to paedophile priest

Al Jazeera

February 18, 2021

By Ian Lloyd Neubauer

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

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

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

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

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

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

February 17, 2021

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


February 16, 2021

By McKenzie Kuehnlein

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Fife Today

February 17, 2021

By Allan Crow

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

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

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

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

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


February 17, 2021

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

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

She described the evidence as "shocking and distressing".

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

Dep PM critcises church sluggishness against paedophile priest

The First News

February 17, 2021

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

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

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

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

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

Notes from Poland

February 16, 2021

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Chargesheet filed against priest in Budaun rape case

The Hindu

February 17, 2021

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

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

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


February 11, 2021

By Albert Llimós

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

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

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

Case reopened 20 years later

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

Northern Michigan priest temporarily steps down following sexual misconduct accusation


February 10, 2021

By Trevor Drew

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

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

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

Accused priest asserts innocence at Vatican seminary abuse hearing

Catholic News Agency

February 10, 2021

By Hannah Brockhaus

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

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

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

Gratitude from an Active Catholic and a Survivor

Profiles in Catholicism (blog)

February 16, 2021

By Michael Hoffman

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


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

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

Defrocked predator priest gets probation for molesting 2 boys at Harrisburg church


February 16, 2021

By Matt Miller

In a proceeding that took only a few minutes, a defrocked Catholic priest was sentenced to 5 years of probation Tuesday morning on his guilty pleas to charges that he molested two Dauphin County boys roughly two decades ago.

John Allen, 77, of York County, must also was deemed a sexually violent predator, the most dangerous type of sex offender. He will have to register with state police for life, undergo perpetual sex offender counseling and his neighbors will be told of his crimes.

County Judge Deborah E. Curcillo imposed the sentence under a plea agreement forged between the district attorney’s office and defense attorney Brian Perry. Allen pleaded guilty to multiple counts of indecent assault and corruption of minors filed against him by county detectives nearly two years ago.

Former priest sentenced to 5 years’ probation in abuse case

Associated Press

February 16, 2021

A former Roman Catholic priest in Pennsylvania who pleaded guilty to assaulting two altar boys about two decades ago has been sentenced to five years’ probation.

John G. Allen, 77, of York had pleaded guilty in November to indecent assault and corruption of minors in the assaults at St. Margaret Mary Alacoque Church in Penbrook between 1997 and 2002. He acknowledged having touched the children over their clothes.

The York Daily Record reports that the probation sentence was imposed Tuesday as part of a plea agreement and fell within sentencing guidelines. Allen will have to register as a sex offender for the rest of his life.

£6m paid out to survivors of institutional abuse

Belfast Telegraph

February 17, 2021

By Adrian Rutherford

Almost £6m has been paid out in compensation to survivors of historical institutional abuse in Northern Ireland.

A redress scheme opened to applications on March 31 last year, with the first payments made seven weeks later.

By the end of 2020, the Historical Institutional Abuse (HIA) Redress Board had received 959 applications for compensation, made determinations totalling £7.38m and paid out £5.76m.

Media says breaches in the Pell case were at ‘low’ end

NCA NewsWire via Gold Coast Bulletin

February 17, 2021

By Melissa Iaria

A Supreme Court judge has reserved his decision on what penalties to impose on Australian news outlets that pleaded guilty to breaching suppression orders over George Pell’s child sex abuse conviction, of which he was later cleared.

Victorian Supreme Court Justice John Dixon on Wednesday adjourned a penalty hearing to a date to be fixed, after hearing submissions from prosecutors and news outlets on what action he should take.

Fourteen outlets, including entities owned by News Corp Australia and Nine, pleaded guilty earlier this month to contempt by breaching the order.

Delayed Legion of Christ extortion trial goes ahead in Italy

Associated Press

February 17, 2021

By Nicole Winfield

A judge in Milan has ruled that trial can go ahead in a case in which priests and lawyers of the Legion of Christ Catholic religious order are accused of offering to pay the family of a sexual abuse victim to lie to prosecutors.

During a preliminary hearing Tuesday, which was delayed by nearly a year because of the coronavirus pandemic, Judge Patrizia Nobile confirmed the charges of attempted extortion and obstruction of justice and set a May 13 trial date for the five suspects, said Daniela Cultrera, the lawyer for the victim’s family.

The investigation is an offshoot of a case in which Italy’s highest court in July upheld the conviction and 6 1/2-year prison sentence for a defrocked Legion priest, Vladimir Resendiz, for sexually abusing boys at the Legion’s youth seminary in northern Italy.

That case was sparked in 2013 when one of Resendiz’s victims confided in his therapist about the abuse he suffered while he was a middle schooler at the seminary. As a mandated reporter, the therapist informed law enforcement authorities, who opened the probe.

Aid to the Church in Need says late founder may have sexually assaulted woman in 1973

Christian Post

February 16, 2021

By Michael Gryboski

The Catholic human rights group Aid to the Church in Need recently confirmed an earlier report that the organization’s deceased founder may have sexually assaulted a woman who worked for the charity in 1973.

Born in the Netherlands in 1913, Father Werenfried van Straaten founded Aid to the Church in Need in 1947 and led the group until his passing in 2003.

ACN’s International Executive President Thomas Heine-Geldern released a statement last week in response to a report by “Christ & Welt,” a supplement of the German newspaper Die Zeit.

The supplement had published a 2010 letter by a woman claiming that she had been sexually assaulted in 1973 by van Straaten when she was 23 years old.

Madrid archdiocese provided support for 85 abuse victims in 2020

Catholic News Agency

February 16, 2021

The Archdiocese of Madrid provided support services for 85 victims of abuse in 2020, 75 of them direct victims and 10 who were family members.

The 85 victims received free psychological care and listening sessions offered through the Repara Project for the prevention of abuse and care for victims, launched in January 2020.
Altogether, the Repara Project provided free 400 psychological care and listening sessions in its first year of operation.

“As it’s a project open to anyone who has been a victim of abuse, regardless of who the aggressor was and whether or not (those involved) belong to the Catholic Church, of the 75 likely cases of abuse that have come to the Repara Project, 35 involved domestic abuse,” the archdiocese stated.

Church faces reckoning as new abuse cases emerge

The Tablet

February 17, 2021

By Liz Dodd

The number of people accused of abuse in the Church in England and Wales jumped by 29 per cent between 2018 and 2019, the National Catholic Safeguarding Commission has disclosed, with the majority of alleged abusers – almost three quarters – being priests.

According to the NCSC Annual Report, which was released on 10 February, the jump in the number of individuals against whom allegations or concerns were raised is substantially higher than in previous years, rising from 125 people in 2018 to 162 people in 2019. By comparison, 118 people had allegations made against them in 2017, and 91 people in 2015.

Of those 162 people, 46 per cent were secular or diocesan priests and 28 per cent were religious priests. In both categories, most of the abuse alleged was sexual. Some cases were historic, but a significant number of cases – 18 – alleged that the abuse had commenced since 2001.

Rhineland Protestants add to pressure on Cardinal Woelki

The Tablet

February 16, 2021

By Christa Pongratz-Lippitt

As the crisis in the archdiocese of Cologne continues, with pressure unabated on Cardinal Rainer Maria Woelki to act decisively in the face of abuse allegations, Protestants are joining Catholics in walking away from the Church.

The number of Catholics leaving, centring on Cologne, has reached a record 1,000 a month. But the Cologne archdiocese’s “sluggish” efforts to clear up the abuse scandal were also driving Protestants out of the Church, President Manfred Rekowski of the Protestant Church in the Rhineland told the Protestant news service epdon 13 February.

“There is such a thing as a joint ecumenical liability. It is stressful and I hope things will be cleared up soon”, Renkowski said. “Anything that gives the impression of being obscure or that the Church has only little interest in clearing up abuse is fatal.”

Churches, Barnardo's and Executive ministers discuss apology, memorial and redress to historic institutional abuse survivors

Press Association

February 17, 2021

By Rebecca Black


Discussions have been held over an apology to survivors of historic institutional abuse.

Compensation was paid last year following a public inquiry which examined allegations of child abuse at 22 residential institutions run by religious, charitable and state organisations across Northern Ireland over a 73-year period.

The Historical Institutional Abuse Inquiry also recommended memorialisation and an official apology.

First Minister Arlene Foster and Junior Minister Declan Kearney met the Catholic Archbishop of Armagh Eamon Martin, the Church of Ireland Archbishop John McDowell as well as representatives of the religious orders and Barnardo's to discuss the remaining recommendations.

Kerala HC dismisses rape convict Catholic priest’s outrageous plea to marry survivor

The News Minute

February 17, 2021

Robin, the Catholic priest convicted of rape, had last year moved the High Court for bail so that he can marry the survivor and ‘take care of the child born to her.’

The Kerala High Court has dismissed the outrageous plea filed by rape convict Catholic priest Robin Vadakkumchery, who asked to be let out on bail so that he can “marry the survivor.” The court has dismissed the priest’s plea filed by the rape convict stating that there is no merit in the plea.

Dismissing the plea, Justice Sunil Thomas stated that granting the plea would be like giving judicial approval for the marriage, reports Mahir Haneef of the Times of India.

It was in last July that Catholic priest Robin, who has been convicted by a POCSO court for 20 years in prison for raping and impregnating a minor girl, had moved the Kerala High Court with an outrageous plea that he should be granted bail so that he may “marry the survivor” and “take care of the child born to her.”

February 16, 2021

Ex-Roman Catholic priest who lives in York County is sentenced to probation for sex abuse

York Daily Record

February 16, 2021

By Dylan Segelbaum


John Allen, 77, of West Manchester Township, was one of 301 "predator priests" named in a landmark grand jury report in Pennsylvania.

A former Roman Catholic priest named in a landmark investigating grand jury report about widespread sexual abuse and institutional cover-up was sentenced on Tuesday to five years’ probation for assaulting two altar boys in Dauphin County.

John Allen, 77, of West Manchester Township, had pleaded guilty to charges of indecent assault and corruption of minors for perpetrating the abuse at St. Margaret Mary Alacoque Church in Penbrook between 1997 and 2002. He admitted to touching the children over their clothes.

Common Pleas Judge Deborah E. Curcillo imposed the punishment, which was outlined in a plea agreement and fell within the sentencing guidelines. Allen will have to register as a sex offender for the rest of his life after he did not contest a finding that he was a sexually violent predator.

[Media Statement] Another Abuser Sentenced Thanks to Secular Investigations


February 16, 2021

A former Pennsylvania Catholic priest who was named as an abuser in the 2018 Pennsylvania Grand Jury report has been sentenced to five years probation for his crimes. While we would have hoped for a stronger sentence to better protect children, we are happy that yet another perpetrator has been identified and convicted thanks to the work of secular law enforcement professionals.

A.G. Josh Shapiro uncovered the details about ex-priest John Allen’s crimes and published them in his bombshell grand jury investigation into clergy abuse and cover-up in six Pennsylvania dioceses. Most disturbingly, thanks to A.G. Shapiro and his team, we know that Catholic officials in Harrisburg had been aware of Allen’s abusive tendencies since at least the 1970s. Without the involvement of the attorney general’s office, Allen would have been able to go the rest of his life without facing justice due to the cover-up perpetrated by the Diocese of Harrisburg.

Popular Catholic priest to be paroled after serving 2 years in prison for sexual assault


February 13, 2021

By Cole Waterman

Less than two years after being sent to prison for sexually assaulting a teen, a prominent Roman Catholic priest is about to be paroled.

A Michigan Department of Corrections parole board on Dec. 29 decided to parole Robert J. “Father Bob” DeLand Jr., said MDOC spokesman Chris Gautz. DeLand, now 73, is currently incarcerated at the Marquette Branch Prison in the Upper Peninsula.

DeLand will be released around April 23, Gautz said. Conditions and restrictions DeLand will have while on parole are still being determined. DeLand’s parole term is expected to last two years, Gautz said.

DeLand must register as a sex offender until Oct. 13, 2045, at which time he will be 98.

Saginaw County Circuit Judge Darnell Jackson in April 2019 sentenced DeLand to two to 15 years in prison.

Police began investigating DeLand in November 2017 after receiving a complaint that the priest had inappropriate contact with a minor. At the time, DeLand was pastor at St. Agnes Parish in Tittabawassee Township, volunteered as a greeter at Freeland High School, and was so popular a local road was named after him.

Police arrested DeLand in February 2018 and he subsequently faced seven charges related to the alleged sexual assaults of two teens and one young man.

DeLand in September 2018 pleaded no contest to all charges. He later withdrew his pleas and went to trial on a few of the counts in March 2019 and was found not guilty by a jury. Some of those charges stemmed from allegations that DeLand had attempted to sexually assault a teen in the coatroom of St. Agnes Church during a May 2017 memorial service for classmate who had died by suicide.

The day after the acquittal, and with two more trials looming, DeLand pleaded no contest to second-degree criminal sexual conduct, gross indecency between two males, and manufacturing or distributing an imitation controlled substance.

Suspended priest Robert DeLand granted parole


February 12, 2021

By Terry Camp

DeLand could be released from prison in late April

A suspended Saginaw-area priest who has spent nearly two years in prison after pleading no-contest to sex crimes has been granted parole on his first attempt.

Robert DeLand was sent to prison for the alleged sexual assault of a teen in 2019. But as early as April, he’ll most likely be free.

He was known as Father Bob, a popular Catholic priest in the Saginaw Diocese. That changed when DeLand was arrested in February 2018 and charged with several counts of criminal sexual misconduct.

There were three victims in three separate cases -- two 17-year-old males and a 21-year-old man.

Diocese issues statement ahead of former priest’s parole


February 15, 2021

By James Felton and Brianna Owczarzak

A former priest imprisoned for sex crimes against children is now preparing for parole.

Robert DeLand was sentenced to prison on several charges in 2019 after three young men accused the former priest of sexual assault. DeLand pleaded no contest to second-degree criminal sexual conduct causing personal injury. He also entered a no contest plea to gross indecency between two males, and delivery of an imitation controlled substance.

He was sentenced to two to 15 years in prison.

On Feb. 15, the Diocese of Saginaw issued the following statement:

Former Saginaw Priest May See Early Release From Prison


February 15, 2021

By Ric Antonio

An imprisoned former priest from Saginaw may be released early.

Robert DeLand was sentenced to 15 years in prison in 2019 on several charges after three men accused him of sexual assault.

DeLand pleaded no contest to second-degree criminal sexual conduct causing personal injury, gross indecency between two males, and delivery of an imitation controlled substance.

After serving what will be 24 months, he may be released as soon as April.

[Media Statement] Fr. Robert DeLand to be Released Early, SNAP Responds

SNAP (Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests)

February 15, 2021

A Catholic priest who was sentenced to prison in Michigan after multiple men came forward to accuse him of sexual assault and grooming is being released early from prison. Given this man’s apparent pattern of criminal sexual conduct, we hope that Church officials will keep tabs on him and inform the communities where he will live and work about the danger he represents.

Fr. Robert DeLand was first accused of abuse decades ago. Diocesan officials in Saginaw were aware of claims against him as early as 1992 and even “investigated” allegations against him in 2005. The priest was finally taken off the streets in 2018 thanks to the work of police and prosecutors in Michigan.

Based on media coverage of his history, it appears to us that Fr. DeLand is a serial abuser. He has been the subject of abuse allegations over the course of three decades and was abusing vulnerable young men as recently as 2017. Given this background, we are concerned that he will once again find, groom, and prey on young men now that he is being released.

After state blunder, Pa. abuse victims ask: ‘Who the hell are we supposed to trust?’


February 16, 2021

By Laura Benshoff

The news that Pennsylvania had screwed up the process for putting a constitutional amendment before voters that would allow victims of decades-old sexual abuse to sue hit Jay Sefton hard.

He had let himself hope that things were finally about to change.

“[It] was a real dark wave that came over,” said Sefton, now a therapist in Massachusetts, who says he was abused by a priest in Havertown in 1985.

When the Pennsylvania Department of State failed to advertise the proposed constitutional amendment that had been passed by the legislature, it halted a march toward justice for thousands of victims abused in the commonwealth. The constitutional amendment process takes two years, and unless an emergency provision passes by mid-April, it would be 2023 before victims would be given a window to sue over decades-old sexual abuse claims.

Archives: Diocese wanted Rev. Holley out. Personal letters detailing priest's situation obtained by T&G

Telegram & Gazette

February 15, 2021

This story was originally published on Sept. 20, 2004.


Bishop Bernard J. Flanagan in 1971 decided that one reason the Rev. David A. Holley should go into the care of Servants of the Paraclete in New Mexico or some other location operated by the order was because they would be able to find a placement for him after he completed treatment, the bishop said in a letter written at the time.

Rev. Holley, denied parole last week, is now serving a 55- to 275-year prison sentence in New Mexico for sexually abusing and raping eight boys there. Although Rev. Holley was taken in as a priest of the Worcester Diocese in 1962 and incardinated in 1967, which means he became a priest of the diocese, he proved to be problematic because of his history of sexually molesting boys.

[Opinion] Bishops blame everyone but themselves

Church Militant (blog)

February 15, 2021

By Rodney Pelletier

Over the last 50 years, the majority of U.S. bishops have rendered impotent the authority of the Church in worldly matters, making flailing and often embarrassing attempts to play nice with the world.

The bishops claim they are being "transparent" regarding sex abuse, but time and time again, they are outed by secular sources. After the massive 2002 Boston Globe exposure of clerical sex abuse, the bishops addressed it as a thing of the past.

One of America's top prelates, former cardinal Theodore McCarrick, met with other American bishops in Dallas, to establish the norms by which the U.S. Church would investigate sex abuse — this became known as the "Dallas Charter."

Responding to the Ravi Zacharias scandal: Three biblical steps every Christian must take now

Denison Forum (blog)

February 15, 2021

By Dr. Jim Denison


Witnessing the fall of someone we greatly admire elicits deep, painful emotions. We feel betrayed by them and embarrassed that we trusted them. The more public our faith in them, the more public our shame and the deeper our anger. We wonder if there is anyone we can truly trust. If they were part of a larger movement, that movement’s reputation is disgraced along with them.

These emotions describe the way many of us have felt since allegations of sexual abuse first began surfacing against Ravi Zacharias, one of the best-known and most admired evangelicals of our generation. I wrote at his death of my gratitude for his life and legacy. Then horrendously sinful personal stories began to surface.

Cologne Catholic sex abuse probe seen as cover-up

Deutsche Welle

February 16, 2021

Germany's secular panel on sexualized violence against children says Cologne's Catholic archdiocese has "severely damaged" moves to own up to its abusive past.

Cologne's archbishopric "severely damaged" the process of owning up to decades of sexualized violence against children in its ranks as demanded by victims and lay Catholics, a top secular German panel found on Monday.

The Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse — a commission mandated by parliament since 2016 to probe cases across German society — decried the diocese's own internal review, saying this must be done instead by outsiders.

Its statement coincided Monday with Munich lawyers refuting a claim by Cologne Archbishop Rainer Maria Woelki that their report, delivered to him last year but kept secret, only examined 15 selected cases out of "all 236 available cases."

All cases were examined, insisted the Munich law firm Westpfahl Spilker Wastl (WSW), but to protect victims from being re-traumatized the report focused on 15 anonymized examples.

[News Release] Archdiocese of Montreal enters new stage in its pursuit of Truth, Transparency and Transformation

Archdiocese of Montreal

February 15, 2021


Review of Clergy and Pastoral files underway and Capriolo Report Implementation Committee launched

The Archdiocese of Montreal announces two major developments in its ongoing pursuit of truth, transparency and transformation, based on the work of both the Honourable André Denis and the committee implementing the recommendations of the Capriolo Report.

“We are continuing to seek the truth so that every person feels safe and secure within the Catholic Church, in all circumstances. We are very grateful to the Honourable André Denis and to the members of the committee implementing the recommendations of the Capriolo Report, who, through their diligent work, will help us to do our part to protect the faithful and the community,” said Archbishop Christian Lépine of Montreal.

The Archbishop has appointed the Honourable André Denis, a retired judge of the Superior Court of Quebec, to undertake two mandates.

Montreal archdiocese hires retired judge to review church files, identify abuse cases

The Canadian Press

February 16, 2021

Montreal’s archdiocese has mandated a retired Quebec Superior Court justice to review its files and identify any information tied to sexual abuse against minors or vulnerable people.

The archdiocese said Monday in a statement that André Denis began his work in December 2020 and will complete his task by this summer.

Archbishop Christian Lépine says anyone suspected of abuses will be suspended for the time it takes to complete an investigation.

In Lenten message, Chilean bishops apologize for abuse


February 15, 2021

By Inés San Martín

Still struggling to overcome one of the world’s most anguished clerical abuse crises, Chile’s bishops in their Lenten message once again apologized to those abused and mistreated by members of the clergy.

Lent, the bishops write in a message released Monday, is a time of conversion, during which the Church issues an invitation to renew faith and hope, welcoming God’s love and mercy.

“It is also a time of purification and penance for the pain we have caused for our faults and sins,” they wrote. “The pastors of the Church ask forgiveness once again from God and our brothers and sisters who have been abused, mistreated, excluded or ignored by some of their ministers. A sincere conversion only springs from a heart that is repentant and willing to heal the damage caused, accompany the wounded on their way, and start over from Christ.”

DPP seeks convictions in Pell media contempt case


February 16, 2021

By Melissa Iaria

Prosecutors say heavy fines and convictions should be given to media outlets that breached court orders in Cardinal George Pell’s sex abuse case.

Media companies that breached court suppression orders in Cardinal George Pell’s child sex abuse case should all receive heavy fines and convictions, prosecutors say.

Roslyn Kaye, acting for Victoria’s Director of Public Prosecutions, told the Supreme Court on Tuesday that even though the outlets obtained legal advice, they still took a risk by publishing and broadcasting reports about Cardinal Pell’s case in the days after his guilty conviction.

The high-ranking Catholic, a former adviser to Pope Francis, was eventually acquitted on appeal.

A non-publication order prevented any reporting on Cardinal Pell’s 2018 trial because it could have affected the jury in his forthcoming second trial, which was later dropped.

Police probe mysterious death of Indian nun

UCA News

February 15, 2021

India has witnessed more than 20 mysterious deaths of Catholic nuns in the past three decades

Police are investigating the death of a Catholic nun whose body was found in an abandoned quarry filled with water in southern India's Kerala state.

The body of Sister Jaseena Thomas, a member of the Missionary Congregation of the Daughters of St Thomas, was found floating in the quarry in the Vazhakkala area of Ernakulum district on Feb. 14.

The body was taken for a post-mortem examination and will be buried on Feb. 15. The autopsy report has not been released to the media.

The 45-year-old nun was under medication for a mental illness that she developed 10 years ago, according to her congregation.

Historical institutional abuse victims to receive official apology

Belfast Telegraph

February 16, 2021

Victims of historical institutional abuse in Northern Ireland are to receive an official apology.

The issue was discussed at a meeting of Executive and church leaders.

First Minister Arlene Foster and Junior Minister Declan Kearney met with the Catholic Church's Archbishop Eamon Martin, Church of Ireland Archbishop John McDowell, and representatives from Barnardo’s and the Association of Leaders of Missionaries and Religious of Ireland (AMRI) to discuss the remaining recommendations from the Historical Institutional Abuse (HIA) Inquiry.

The Inquiry, chaired by the late judge Sir Anthony Hart, called for compensation, a memorial to the victims and a formal apology.

Discussions held over an apology to survivors of historic institutional abuse


February 16, 2021

Discussions have been held over an apology to survivors of historic institutional abuse.

Compensation was paid last year following a public inquiry which examined allegations of child abuse at 22 residential institutions run by religious, charitable and state organisations across Northern Ireland over a 73-year period.

The Historical Institutional Abuse Inquiry also recommended memorialisation and an official apology.

First Minister Arlene Foster and Junior Minister Declan Kearney met with the Catholic Archbishop of Armagh Eamon Martin, the Church of Ireland Archbishop John McDowell as well as representatives of the religious orders and Barnardo's to discuss the remaining recommendations.

The discussions included progress on redress payments and provision of services for victims and survivors and the centrality of the views of victims to an official apology.

February 15, 2021

Salem Film Fest to premiere Richard Sipe documentary

Wicked Local

February 15, 2021

As part of its winter series preceding its festival dates, Salem Film Fest will present the world premiere of the documentary “Sipe: Sex, Lies, and the Priesthood.”

Streaming of the film will be available starting at 4 p.m. Feb. 20 on Salem Film Fest’s streaming channel. The one-hour film is produced by Zingerplatz Pictures and BishopAccountability.org.

A free live panel with the wife, friends, and scholars of the subject, Richard Sipe, will take place at 8 p.m. Feb. 20, with a live chat function. The film and discussions will then be available via Salem Film Fest’s video-on-demand channel through March 4.

The documentary, directed by Joe Cultrera, explores the life and work of the late A.W. Richard Sipe, the scholar of sex, celibacy and clergy sexual abuse in the Catholic church. Sipe’s key role in the Boston abuse crisis was dramatized in the Academy Award-winning movie “Spotlight.”

Questions & Answers regarding the article “Gut und Böse” in the ZEIT supplement “Christ & Welt”

ACN International

February 10, 2021

[See also: Statement of the International Aid Agency Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) on the article “Gut und Böse” in the ZEIT supplement “Christ&Welt”]

1. How did the newspaper come into possession of the letter?

We do not know. The letter is from 2010. It was addressed to the Vatican and several German dioceses.

2. Was the letter known to ACN?

The letter was in the archives of the organisation.

3. In which context was the letter written?

From 2009 to 20011 Auxiliary Bishop Mandred Grothe carried out a visitation of "Kirche in Not“. Fr. Werenfried, who had already died in 2003, was not the object of the visitation. Rather it solely focussed on the organisational modernisation of the organisation with a modernization of the charity. This was carried out on behalf of the Congregation for the Clergy that was responsible for the charity. During this time a number of people tried to start a beatification process for Fr. van Straaten. It was in this context that Auxiliary Bishop Grohe learned of the serious allegations against Fr. van Straaten. He wanted with his letter to immediately put a stop to any possible beatification process.

4. What is ACN’s opinion of the allegations?

Aid to the Church in Need deeply regrets the grave allegations that have been made. The organisation completely condemns the kind of behaviour of which Father van Straaten is accused in the article. ACN is committed to an unreserved clarification. We have examined the allegations from the sources currently available and have taken a position on the following points raised

[Commentary] A Whistleblower “Minister” Loses in the Illinois Supreme Court


February 15, 2021

By Leslie C. Griffin

Whistleblowers do good things. They report illegal conduct to the police in order to protect others from harm. The Illinois Whistleblower Act protects them from retaliation when they report their employer’s or another person’s misconduct to the police.

Unless the court and the employer call the whistleblower a minister. If the court rules a person is a minister, she completely loses her day in court, as Mary Rehfield did recently in Mary Rehfield v. Diocese of Joliet.

I think Rehfield’s case should go to court, where either she or Joliet may win, based on the facts. That is a better rule than dismissing all the ministers’ cases because someone wants to call them a minister in court.

Lay Principal Mary Rehfield

Mary Rehfield had more than 43 years in education, including 18 years as a “lay principal” in a Catholic school. She also called herself a “lay individual,” which reflects her position in the Catholic church. She “describes her job duties as primarily secular in nature. She alleges that one of the main reasons she was hired as principal was ‘bringing order to the school administration.’” She improved the students’ education experience, gave them a new science curriculum and other better educational items, and promoted “an anti-bullying campaign.” In the church’s business, she is a lay Catholic; that means she is not a minister, or priest, the term that is usually used for Catholicism’s all-male clergy.

Three sisters sue Tenino, Prosser churches, saying they failed to protect them from abuse

The Olympian

February 14, 2021

By Martin Bilbao

Three sisters are suing two independent Baptist churches in Washington, alleging they failed to protect them from a pastor they say sexually abused them.

The two churches are Blessed Hope Baptist Church in Tenino and Calvary Baptist Church in Prosser. The lawsuit was filed in Thurston County Superior Court on Feb. 4 on behalf of Jessica Evans Dudley, Ashleigh Evans Burchard and Shannon Evans, all of Idaho.

The suit alleges David Bosley, who served as pastor at both churches, manipulated the women into his custody, groomed them and sexually abused them while they were children. The abuse allegedly started while Bosley worked at First Bible Baptist Church in Lacey, which was renamed and relocated to Tenino.

[Opinion] Salonen: Port’s misfire, euthanasia push merit review

Jamestown Sun

February 15, 2021

By Roxane Salonen

Salonen shares her concerns about media coverage of bills concerning religion in the North Dakota Legislature.

Several issues have emerged in this year’s North Dakota legislative session that have many faithful concerned, and others plain confused.

Though I don’t often revisit a topic so soon, Rob Port’s response to my column regarding the withdrawal of SB2180 — which would have virtually eliminated the sacrament of confession — compels another look. The bill’s ramifications continue, despite its withdrawal, including with the erroneous headline: “Catholics win the ‘liberty’ to keep silent about child abuse.”

I realize the world is in a tough state, but I hope there’s still a semblance of fairness left in humanity; that deep down, most people don’t believe the average Catholic delights in the thought of harboring child abusers.

I certainly don’t. As a mother, dark deeds that mar the innocent make me especially grieved. It’s why I pray at our state’s abortion facility. I don’t celebrate abuse, I abhor it. And it’s irresponsible to say that withdrawal of this bill signals a desire by Catholics to hide child abuse; it’s simply not true.

North Dakota House rejects expanding statute of limitations for child sex abuse


February 15, 2021

By C.S. Hagen

“These bills were all about giving victims of child abuse hope. Hope after a life of hell,” said the bills' main sponsor, Rep. Austen Schauer, R-West Fargo, before Friday's House vote.

North Dakota lawmakers rejected three bills that would expand the statute of limitations for civil and criminal actions in childhood sexual abuse cases.

On Wednesday, Feb. 10, the House Judiciary Committee gave all the bills "do not pass" recommendations, and on Friday, Feb. 12, the bills failed to pass on the floor of the House of Representatives.

Opponents said they worried the legislation would open private organizations to a potentially overwhelming flood of decades-old abuse claims, but advocates say survivors have limited options for pursuing justice.

“These bills were all about giving victims of child abuse hope. Hope after a life of hell,” said the bills' main sponsor, Rep. Austen Schauer, R-West Fargo, before Friday's House vote. "Despite today's votes, we want survivors of childhood sexual abuse to know that we will always fight for them, fight for justice."

Aid to the Church in Need admits its founder was accused of assault

The Catholic Universe

February 15, 2021

The international Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need said it found “very plausible” the claim of a former employee that the late Norbertine Fr Werenfried van Straaten, founder of the charity, had sexually assaulted her in the 1970s.

The charity, which supports Christians suffering under persecution or extreme poverty, confirmed in a statement on 10th February that the victim came forward with the allegation in 2010 and that preparations for a sainthood cause for Fr van Straaten stopped at the time.

“The leadership of the charity took the accusation very seriously. It immediately sought out the person concerned and, in a personal meeting, listened to her. Her portrayal of the incident seemed very plausible,” Aid to the Church in Need said in the statement published after Christ und Welt, a supplement of the newspaper Die Zeit, reported the charity had paid the woman 16,000 euros.

Acting principal placed on special leave after his sex pest past resurfaces

IOL.com (Independent Online)

February 15, 2021

By Chulumanco Mahamba

Accused “sex pest” acting principal of John Martin Catholic School in Kagiso has been placed on precautionary special leave amid the revelation that the educator had a valid teaching certificate when he was appointed.

There was an outcry last week over the appointment of Motsamai Molete, a former educator from Phahama Secondary School in Mohlakeng, who was dismissed by the Gauteng Department of Education (GDE) for misconduct, after he had sexually assaulted a learner and for improper and disgraceful conduct of a sexual nature towards learners in 2014.

The Education Labour Relations Council (ELRC) also upheld his dismissal in 2015. Following a social media post that went viral, the Catholic Institute of Education resolved to put the educator on precautionary special leave while resolving the matter, the GDE confirmed.

“We are monitoring this matter with interest,” GDE spokesperson Steve Mabona told The Star.

The episcopal vicar for schools of the Catholic Archdiocese of Johannesburg,

Solly Mphela, said on Saturday that the archdiocese emphasised that the protection of children in church schools was paramount and, through a child safeguarding policy, set standard employment procedures for Catholic schools.

Ampleforth College head says a fence has been erected between the school and the abbey and that the college has 'no assets'

The Yorkshire Post

February 13, 2021

By Grace Newton


The headteacher of Ampleforth College has spoken about measures that have been taken to improve safeguarding at the North Yorkshire public school after it was banned from taking on new pupils.

Robin Dyer gave an interview to The Times today in which he outlined how the Roman Catholic school had acted following allegations of historic sexual abuse that span decades and the recent conviction of a former monk who taught there for indecency.

He revealed that a fence has been erected between the school site and Ampleforth Abbey, and that the majority of the monks of the Benedictine order are no longer allowed to work with pupils, with only two teachers and two chaplains from the abbey remaining in employment.

However, he also revealed that separation of the abbey and school as legal entities has proved complicated because Ampleforth Abbey owns the land on which the campus is built and the buildings themselves, meaning the school has no assets of its own.

Sex abuse cases hit church-run boys school

Standard Media

February 15, 2021

By Stephen Nzioka

Shocking revelations of young boys becoming victims of sexual abuse while they are at home has rocked a church-sponsored primary school in Makueni County.

Pupils opened up about their ordeals in their neighbourhoods after teachers at the school noticed signs of sexual exploitation in one boy.

On pursuing the issue, 27 boys at the school, which has 800 pupils, said they had been sodomised by people known to them. However, only eight have recorded statements, with police and Ministry of Education officials in Kibwezi asking other victims to report the assault.

The incidents are reported to have occurred at Riverside village, a shanty where cases of drug abuse are common. The abuse has been running rampant for close to three years, according to the victims, who have previously been too scared and ashamed to speak out.

[Opinion] The long shadow of clerical abuse

Times of Malta

February 15, 2021

The Church has always been a key focal point in Maltese life and culture. Precisely because of its importance and dominance, and not just in Malta, the issue of clerical sex abuse has only begun to fully surface in recent decades. Evidence from countries which have had extensive experience of clerical abuse suggests that it is far more widespread than formal reporting would suggest.

Experience to date indicates that victims are extremely slow to come forward while Church and state are notoriously slow to acknowledge the issue and society at large is significantly reluctant to even discuss it. Most of us find the horrors of sexual abuse and its consequences just too painful to contemplate and, as a result, much clerical sex misconduct and abuse is kept silent.

Church power and society’s loyalty and protectiveness towards the Church has inhibited effective reporting, investigation and sanctioning of abusers with often devastating consequences.

The obsession of Church authorities with protecting image, status and power, often at the expense of victims, has compounded the problem further. At a deeper level, sexual abuse within the Church references the fact that such abuse is far more common in society than we like to imagine.

‘Malta needs a minister for children’

Times of Malta

February 14, 2021

Safeguarding Commission head calls for revamp of child protection mechanisms

The head of the Church Safeguarding Commission, which handles abuse allegations, has proposed that all organisations working with children or vulnerable adults should by law have similar structures in proportion to their size.

The commission was set up in 2015 by the Archdiocese of Malta to prevent all types of abuse, support victims and create a safe environment.

In an opinion piece for Times of Malta published on Sunday, its head, Andrew Azzopardi, says child abuse is hugely underreported. He cites a figure from the UK saying that only four per cent of child abuse cases are reported to the police.

In Malta, a register lists people who, following a conviction, are not allowed to work with children. But this system does not provide the necessary safeguards for children, parents and organisations, Azzopardi argues.

Law firm details sexual misconduct by global ministry leader

Associated Press

February 12, 2021

By David Crary

Ravi Zacharias, who died in May after a high-profile career leading a global Christian ministry, engaged in sexual misconduct with massage therapists and carried on many amorous extramarital relationships via text message and email, according to a scathing, in-depth report from a law firm hired by the ministry.

Five of the therapists said Zacharias touched them inappropriately, and one said she was raped, according to the report. It said investigators searching Zacharias’ mobile devices found more than 200 photographs of younger women, including nude images of a salon employee in Malaysia.

In blunt terms, the report by Atlanta-based Miller & Martin said Zacharias had lied in claiming in 2017 that “I have never engaged in any inappropriate behavior of any kind.”

Evangelist Ravi Zacharias taught his followers to ask tough questions — just not about his sexual conduct

Washington Post

February 9, 2021

By Michelle Boorstein

As a boy growing up in Canada, Daniel Gilman loved church and what he saw as compassion from the God of the Bible for those who suffer. As a college philosophy student, a question began to chip away: Is God just an inspiring fairy tale character, or does he exist? It was a celebrity evangelist named Ravi Zacharias who filled Gilman with confidence that it was possible to be an intellectual believer in a God who is real.

“He was hugely helpful in my becoming convinced I could be intellectually honest and really believe,” said Gilman, now 32, who became a minister with Zacharias’s global, $36-million-a-year ministry, built around a truth-seeking, evidence-exploring, Q-and-A-style of evangelism called apologetics. “He said: ‘If evil is a category, there must be good. If there is good and evil, there must be a moral law. If there is a moral law there must be a moral lawgiver.’”

Now GiIman and millions of others are left with deep questions about good and evil as independent investigators hired by Zacharias’s Atlanta-based ministry are set Wednesday to release a report detailing serious sexual misconduct by the iconic apologist. Until his death of cancer at 74 in May, Zacharias had been one of the best-known figures of American Christian radio and TV for decades.

Evangelist Ravi Zacharias engaged in sexual misconduct, report says

Washington Post

February 11, 2021

By Michelle Boorstein

Ravi Zacharias, a towering Indian American evangelist who helped legions worldwide believe in Christianity through a ministry focused on open questioning and truth-seeking, led a double life, pressuring multiple massage therapists for sexual attention — including women who accused him of sexual aggression and one who accused him of rape, according to an independent report released Thursday.

The report, commissioned by the global Ravi Zacharias International Ministries, is a shameful coda to the career of the late minister, whose books and radio programs have been a staple of evangelical Christian media for decades. Zacharias died in May of cancer at age 74, after aggressively denying sexual misconduct allegations made in 2017 by Lori Anne Thompson, a former follower, and her husband and portraying the couple as extortionists. The report referred to the Thompsons’ case but said investigators did not have enough data to fully assess it.

Evangelist Ravi Zacharias taught his followers to ask tough questions — just not about his sexual conduct

The RZIM board, which is accountable for a ministry operating in 15 countries and with nearly 300 staffers, issued a four-page response to the report that was dramatically contrite. The board apologized to staff who had questioned Zacharias and were rebuffed or punished, and to the Thompsons for the years that “they were slandered … and their suffering was greatly prolonged and intensified.” As recently as the fall, the board had issued statements minimizing new allegations that Zacharias sexually harassed spa workers.

While the report by Atlanta law firm Miller & Martin said it “did not find evidence that anyone within RZIM or on its Board knew that Mr. Zacharias had engaged in sexual misconduct,” details in the document showed multiple red flags. It said several staffers were punished after raising questions about Zacharias traveling with a masseuse or spending weeks alone in Asia. It said RZIM didn’t investigate the 2017 allegations — despite the case making worldwide news.

February 14, 2021

Bombshell lawsuit alleges Catholic seminary forced S.I. man out because he’s heterosexual

Staten Island Advance

February 14, 2021

By Frank Donnelly

Photo caption: Anthony Gorgia, seen in this photo with Pope Francis, alleges he was discriminated against because he knew of homosexual activity by superiors at the Pontifical North American College in Rome.

From an early age, Anthony Gorgia dreamed of becoming a priest.

And the 2011 valedictorian of his St. Joseph by-the-Sea class seemed well on his way to achieving that goal just a few years ago.

In 2017, Cardinal Timothy Dolan nominated Gorgia, then a seminarian, to attend the prestigious Pontifical North American College (NAC) in Rome to continue his preparation for the priesthood and his ordination.

But just over a year later it all came crashing down on the 27-year-old Huguenot resident, alleges a blockbuster $125 million lawsuit against Dolan, the Archdiocese of New York, NAC and others.

Founders with feet of clay another challenge for Pope’s reform campaign


February 14, 2021

By John L. Allen Jr.

Rome - This week the name of the late Father Werenfried van Straaten, a Dutch priest who founded “Aid to the Church in Need” in 1952 to aid persecuted Christians, was added to the distressingly long list of founders of new entities in the Catholic Church who’ve turned out to have feet of clay.

The German newspaper Die Zeit published an article on Wednesday indicating that a Vatican-sponsored review of Aid to the Church in Need in 2009 concluded that serious concerns surrounded van Straaten in several areas, including a charge of attempted rape in 1973 against a 20-year-old employee of the organization.

Other concerns included “excesses in lifestyle,” meaning abuse of alcohol and an overly indulgent zeal for food, as well as “considerable deficits in personnel management.”

After the piece appeared in Die Zeit, Aid to the Church in Need acknowledged the charges and confirmed that it had paid almost $20,000 to the alleged victim of the 1973 assault to compensate her for both her suffering and also lost pension contributions from her time as an employee.

The report further indicated that the prefect of the Vatican’s Congregation for Clergy at the time, Italian Cardinal Mauro Piacenza, ordered that the charges against van Straaten not be made public, on the grounds that the good name of Aid to the Church in Need shouldn’t be sullied by the failures of its founder.

Also this week, famed Italian Father Enzio Bianchi, founder of the ecumenical community of Bose, was ordered out of the monastery and sent to another property owned by the community after a Vatican-sponsored investigation found a “series of concerns” regarding Bianchi, including alleged abuses of authority inside Bose.

Vigano warns of 'doctrinal abuse' undermining Catholic Church teachings, Robert Moynihan says

Christian Post

February 13, 2021

By Ryan Foley

The author of a new book about Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano, a whistleblower on the sex abuse scandal in the Roman Catholic Church, contends that in addition to the sex abuse scandal, a “doctrinal abuse” scandal also plagues the 2,000-year-old institution.

Robert Moynihan, the editor of Inside the Vaticanmagazine, wrote a book last year titled, Finding Vigano: In Search of the Man Whose Testimony Shook the Church and the World. The book is based on conversations Moynihan had with Vigano, the Vatican’s former ambassador to the United States, who has gone into hiding after publishing a letter accusing Pope Francis of covering for former U.S. Cardinal Theodore McCarrick despite the fact that he knew of the credible allegations of sexual abuse against him.

In an interview with The Christian Post, Moynihan spoke about the state of the Catholic Church in the United States as well as his conversations with Vigano. When asked what part of his conversation with Vigano surprised him the most, Moynihan responded that it was “the … torment that he felt” about “whether or not to come forward with allegations.”

“Instead of just speaking about abuse in the [Catholic] Church, the abuse of young people by clerics, he started to realize that there was another abuse occurring, which was the abuse of doctrine. A doctrinal abuse that is not teaching the Catholic faith but teaching a kind of secular faith, changing the teaching on life issues, on moral issues, on the sacramental issues, and even on the divinity of Christ,” he remarked.

Judge: Sex abuse lawsuits can proceed against Church

Santa Fe New Mexican

February 6, 2021

By Dillon Mullan

A federal judge has rejected an attempt by the bankrupt Archdiocese of Santa Fe to block three lawsuits accusing it of transferring millions of dollars in property to individual parishes to shield the assets from settlements in sexual abuse cases.

Last week’s ruling allows lawsuits for hundreds of victims to proceed, while the archdiocese says it will file another appeal.

“The gist of the proposed actions was that [the archdiocese] allegedly transferred to its 93 parishes most of [its] property, without consideration, and with the intent to hinder, delay, or defraud its creditors (almost entirely sex abuse claimants),” U.S. Bankruptcy Judge David T. Thuma wrote in his ruling.

The real estate assets the Church is accused of attempting to shield could be worth more than $150 million, according to the ruling. The assets include churches, schools and money raised from parishioners.

If the lawsuits brought against the archdiocese are successful, the assets could be sold to pay settlements to survivors of clergy sex abuse.

Attorneys said the overwhelming majority of 340 claims filed against the archdiocese by a June 2019 deadline alleged sexual molestation and assault, but the actual number of survivors is closer to 2,000. The archdiocese said at the time at least 78 clergy members had been credibly accused of sexually abusing children.

The archdiocese filed for bankruptcy in 2018.

A committee of lawyers filed complaints arguing the archdiocese created trusts for real estate and assets, and made individual parishes the beneficiaries before transferring millions of dollars in land and other assets to the trusts in 2013 to protect them from creditors.

The plaintiffs also argued that prior to 2013, the parishes did not exist as separate legal entities and could not hold legal or beneficial interests in the property.

The archdiocese argued that the shifting of assets was part of a reorganization effort and not fraudulent.

According to the ruling, the archdiocese intends to appeal the decision in a process that could last several years.

“One of the things [the archdiocese] said is that the First Amendment — religious freedom — a federal law called the Religious Freedom Restoration Act and the Church’s canon law says that Judge Thuma cannot do anything about these transfers,” said James Stang, a Los Angeles attorney representing the claimants.

Ravi Zacharias, Influential Evangelist, Is Accused of Sexual Abuse in Scathing Report

New York Times

February 11, 2021

By Ruth Graham

[See also the report.]

An investigation found credible evidence of sexual misconduct spanning many years. Several massage therapists made accusations against Mr. Zacharias, who died last spring.

The influential evangelist Ravi Zacharias, who died last spring, engaged in “sexting, unwanted touching, spiritual abuse, and rape,” according to a report released on Thursday by the global evangelical organization he founded.

After initially denying accounts of his misconduct, Ravi Zacharias International Ministries announced that an investigation had found credible evidence of sexual misconduct spanning many years and multiple continents.

The announcement was the result of an investigation by a Southeastern law firm, Miller & Martin, which RZIM hired in October to investigate accounts of sexual misconduct by Mr. Zacharias.

“We believe not only the women who made their allegations public but also additional women who had not previously made public allegations against Ravi but whose identities and stories were uncovered during the investigation,” the ministry’s board of directors said in a statement accompanying the report. “We are devastated by what the investigation has shown and are filled with sorrow for the women who were hurt by this terrible abuse.”

When Mr. Zacharias died of cancer in May at age 74, he was one of the most revered evangelists in the United States. Former Vice President Mike Pence spoke at his memorial service in Atlanta, calling him “a man of faith who could rightly handle the word of truth like few others in our time” and comparing him to Billy Graham and C.S. Lewis.

Though the report adds shocking new details, accounts of Mr. Zacharias’s sexual misconduct had arisen in recent years. In 2017, he settled a lawsuit with a Canadian couple whom he had accused of attempting to extort him over intimate text messages he had exchanged with the wife.

Not much time to party as CNS turns 100, but Pope Francis reinforces need for ‘a clear and unbiased’ news

Catholic News Service

February 9, 2021

By Greg Erlandson


It’s not often you get the pope to celebrate your birthday, even if it’s your 100th.

Catholic News Service turned 100 in the midst of the pandemic, so it took us a little while to get our party hats on. Recently, Pope Francis met with our Rome bureau to acknowledge the anniversary while talking about the importance of our work and our service to the church.

“In an age when news can be easily manipulated and misinformation spread, you seek to make the truth known in a way that is, in the words of your motto, ‘fair, faithful and informed,'” he told our staff.

It was a rare encounter between a U.S. Catholic news organization and our prime newsmaker. The pope’s kind words paid tribute not just to the current employees of Catholic News Service, but to the hundreds of journalists and editors who have worked here over the decades.

Catholic News Service was founded in the shadow of World War I and the Spanish flu pandemic. Yet it was a time of great hope, as the church was experiencing a rapid growth of Catholic periodicals and diocesan newspapers. From its founding, CNS aimed to provide this growing market with national and international news of interest to Catholics.

Owner of Missouri reform schools faces sex abuse allegations in Washington lawsuit

Kansas City Star

February 10, 2021

By Laura Bauer and Judy L. Thomas

A man who runs three Christian reform schools in Missouri is the subject of a lawsuit in Washington that accuses two churches where he was the pastor of failing to protect sisters who say he molested them.

The civil suit, filed in the Superior Court of the State of Washington, alleges that the churches knew their pastor, David Bosley, was grooming and then sexually abusing the three sisters for several years beginning as early as 1996 but did nothing to stop it or protect future victims.

“Each defendant had a duty to warn or protect foreseeable victims including plaintiffs,” the lawsuit says. “Each defendant breached both the statutorily prescribed duty and the common law duty of reasonable care by failing to report its knowledge of Bosley’s sexual abuse of children to authorities.”

Bosley, 57, came to Missouri from Washington and opened his first boarding school for boys in 2007, according to corporation documents. He now operates three Master’s Ranch Christian Academy sites in Oregon County in far southern Missouri, including one he opened last September in Thayer for girls ages 9 to 17.

Bosley said he was “appalled” and “shocked” after reading the lawsuit on Tuesday.

“I categorically deny the truth of those things,” he said.

The Washington lawsuit comes as Missouri legislators consider implementing state oversight of unlicensed schools like Bosley’s. The Show-Me State is one of just two — South Carolina is the other — that allows a religious exemption from licensing without any further regulations.

On Wednesday, members of the House Children and Families Committee will hear testimony in Jefferson City on bills that would, for the first time, require these facilities to adhere to certain safety and fire codes, conduct background checks on employees and notify the state of Missouri of their existence.

The hearing — and the legislation — follows reporting by The Star over the past several months that showed the unlicensed schools have flourished in Missouri because of its lack of oversight. The state’s failure to track or regulate these schools has allowed decades of abuse and neglect to stay hidden, child advocates, former students and parents have said.

Bosley also operated a Master’s Ranch West boarding school in Prescott, Washington, but it was closed last May after state child welfare workers investigated allegations of child abuse and neglect.

New York Catholic Diocese Bankruptcies Put Abuse Claims in Limbo

Bloomberg Law

February 12, 2021

By Alex Wolf

- Bankruptcy courts must reckon with state-law claim window

- Clergy sex abuse victims’ options vary depending on location

New York-based Roman Catholic dioceses that filed Chapter 11 to address child sex abuse lawsuits are fueling tensions by asking bankruptcy courts for a victims’ claim filing window that’s shorter than what survivors were given under a recently enacted state law.

New York’s Child Victims Act, signed into law by Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) in 2019, has spurred a flood of abuse lawsuits against the church and other organizations. Victims have filed more than 4,800 lawsuits against alleged abusers and institutions that harbored or concealed them, state court records show.

Four of New York’s eight local dioceses—Syracuse, Rochester, Buffalo, and Long Island’s Rockville Centre—have filed Chapter 11, allowing them to ease the burden of litigation by consolidating victims’ lawsuits against them and negotiating with claimants as a single class.

That means child sex abuse victims with claims against those dioceses could face a filing window shorter than the state law intended. Dealing with shortened deadlines could cause stress for victims and suppress their legal rights in emotionally charged, controversial cases, victims’ proponents say.

“It’s hard to put what happened to them in writing, sometimes for the first time,” said Ilan Scharf of Pachulski Stang Ziehl & Jones, an attorney representing claimants in the Rochester Diocese case.

Ex-altar boy alleges church covered up his abuse by bishop

Associated Press

February 11, 2021

A former altar boy who says he was sexually abused by a now deceased Roman Catholic bishop has filed a lawsuit seeking compensation for the suffering he alleges was made worse by a church coverup.

The now grown man from Chicopee identified in court papers as John Doe alleges in the suit filed in Hampden Superior Court that Diocese of Springfield officials, including former Bishop Mitchell Rozanski, engaged in a coverup to protect the reputation of Bishop Christopher Weldon, The Berkshire Eagle reported Tuesday.

Weldon served as bishop from 1950 until 1977. He died in 1982.

Rozanski is now Archbishop of St. Louis.

Carolee McGrath, a diocese spokesperson, said the church does not comment on pending litigation.

An independent investigation found last year that allegations of child sexual abuse against Weldon were “unequivocally credible.”

The suit alleges that people who work or worked for the diocese played various roles in suppressing the man’s initial reports of abuse by Weldon and two other members of the clergy in the 1960s, starting when the child was 9. The coverup continued as late as 2019, the suit alleged.

The suit seeks a jury trial and unspecified damages.

New speaker's bureau highlights Catholics of color

National Catholic Reporter

February 12, 2021

By Stephen G. Adubato

Leticia Ochoa Adams' project helps conference organizers diversify voices

After learning about her own family's intergenerational wounds from racism, Leticia Ochoa Adams began to see the Catholic Church's complicity in racism and set out to change the church's narrative when it comes to issues of race and social justice.

Last October, the writer and mother founded the new website, Catholic Speakers of Color, which aims to help conference organizers find a more diverse array of Catholic speakers. The online platform features 53 speakers, including Adams, who represent a variety of ethnicities and skin tones.


Although baptized Catholic as a baby, in junior high school she became a devout, "Bible-thumping" missionary. "I'm a natural radical. When I see truth in something, I jump all the way into it," Adams said. She remembers collecting tracts and carrying around her Bible at her junior high school so she could quote Scripture to her peers during lunch.

But a series of tumultuous events led her away from her missionary impulse. She faced repeated emotional and sexual abuse during her teen years, gave birth to her first child at 16 and got married for the first time at 19 to a man she barely knew. After having three more children and miscarrying one, her husband's drug addiction drove them apart. They were divorced after eight years of marriage. After her second marriage, she wanted to settle down so she moved to the suburbs with her family.

She describes her reversion to Catholicism (what her former church community told her was the "whore of Babylon") in 2010 as a "joke of God," attributing it to the omnipresence of Marian images in her family members' homes. "There's something about being in a house with 40,000 Mary statues … she tilled the soil for me."

She describes how she found healing from her sexual abuse in the Catholic Church, namely in the Catechism of the Catholic Church and the writings of Catholics like Edith Stein, John Paul II and Teresa of Avila. It was reading the saints that changed her "us versus them" mentality. The saints showed her that we are all sinners, all broken and wounded, and in need of Christ's healing love.

Diocese of Winona-Rochester reaches $21.5 million settlement with abuse survivors

Catholic Spirit - Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis

February 12, 2021

By Joe Ruff

The Diocese of Winona-Rochester has reached a $21.5 million settlement with a creditors’ committee representing 145 survivors of clergy sexual abuse, the diocese said in a Feb. 10 statement.
“It is my desire and hope that the compensation paid in this settlement will help the survivors heal from the pain they have felt over these many years,” said Bishop John Quinn. “We must never forget the tragic anguish caused by individuals who abused their power and positions of authority.”

The settlement includes resolution of claims against parishes, schools and other Catholic entities in the diocese. It will allow the diocese to submit a plan of reorganization under its Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceedings to the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for approval.

The agreement provides for additional proceeds from certain insurance companies, and future action against certain insurance carriers that provided coverage for the diocese in the 1960s and 1970s, the diocese said in its statement. Claims stemming from that time with those insurance carriers have not been resolved and additional compensation to the survivors may be recovered, the diocese said.

Letter to the Editor: The Catholic Church must look deep into abuse

Washington Post

February 11, 2021

By Barbara Francisco

I hope that Candida Moss did not mean to play down in her Feb. 7 Outlook essay, “Five Myths: Catholicism,” the damage done to individuals and families by pedophiles in the Catholic Church.

Though most people who have been sexually abused do not abuse others, those who abuse others have been disproportionately abused themselves. Convicted abusers should be interviewed as to their past trauma to discover how prevalent this problem is. Many priests and bishops do, apparently, break their vow of celibacy and involve themselves with consenting adults. Secrecy means that priests who abuse children may not be reported because of the information on vow-breaking that they hold on others in their ranks.

The damage must stop, and Ms. Moss and others must lay out what steps the Catholic Church and law enforcement must take to make that happen. Dismissing celibacy and homosexuality as causes for this serious problem is not enough.

Barbara Francisco, Silver Spring

Priesthood — ordained and baptized — is a call to serve God and others, presenter says

Catholic Spirit - Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis

February 12, 2021

By Joe Ruff

Priest, prophet and king. All the baptized share in these qualities, which Christ fully lived and which some, such as ordained priests, are called to live in particular ways, said Sister Esther Mary Nickel of the Religious Sisters of Mercy of Alma, Michigan.

In a Feb. 9 online presentation on “The Priesthood, (Both Baptized and Ordained),” offered by the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis, Sister Nickel said God intends everyone to cooperate and serve one another as members of the body of Christ, united in a special way by baptism, the Eucharist and other sacraments.

Priests are called to a particular and difficult task: to serve their flocks. “The ordained priesthood is at the service of the priesthood of the baptized,” Sister Nickel said.


Clericalism, on the other hand, is an abuse of the ministerial priesthood, Sister Nickel said.

“Clericalism comes when the ordained minister usurps his role as servant and expects to be served,” she said. “Whenever a cleric exercises the power of his ministry for his own good and not the good of the Church and the salvation of souls, that is clericalism. The worst abuse of this has been seen in the abuse of children, but it can also be seen in other abuses of power.”

Two abuse victims came forward in 2020

RTL Télé Lëtzebuerg from Agence France-Presse

February 14, 2021

The archdiocese's department for abuse victims has been operating for a number of years and recently published its 2020 report.

In 2017, the archdiocese launched a prevention programme as well as mandatory training courses. In 2020, those classes could not be held due to the pandemic.

Last year, two people came forward to report having been sexually abused while they were still minors. Both cases date back to the 1960s. The alleged perpetrators are three pastors and one further person. There were also incidents of physical and emotional violence, which have been linked to a woman working for the church. All cases were forwarded to the prosecutor's office.

Another case was declared closed, a pastor being barred from practicing his job. He is furthermore no longer allowed to be alone in the company of minors.

Two cases dating back to 2018 and 2019 were closed with the church paying compensation fees. The sum of theses fines was not revealed in the annual report.

RIB Arrests Catholic Priest over Sexual Abuse of 17 Year Houseboy

KT Press

February 13, 2021

By Daniel Sabiiti

Rwanda Investigation Bureau (RIB) has confirmed arrest of a catholic priest for allegedly sexually abusing a 17 year old boy in his parish community.

Father Habimfura Jean Baptiste, the parish priest of Ntarabana parish in Kabgayi diocese was arrested Thursday February 11, 2021 at Rusumo border post as he allegedly tried to escape into neighboring Tanzania.

Dr Thierry B Murangira, the RIB spokesman confirmed the developments to Kigali Today website and said the alleged crime was committed in 2020.

“He was arrested at Rusomo border as he tried to evade justice, for a crime he committed of sexually abusing a boy who worked for him as a housemaid,” Dr Murangira said.

RIB also said that the victim was able to come out and provide this information of the alleged sexual abuse, which is currently under investigation as the suspect is held at Nyamabuye Police Station in Muhanga district.

If convicted, the priest could get to serve a prison sentence from 20 to 25 years in jail.

February 13, 2021

Cathedral High School graduate finds validation after Springfield diocese hears her sexual abuse claim against late Rev. Karl Huller

The Republican via Mass Live

February 12, 2021

By Anne-Gerard Flynn


Sixteen years after the Roman Catholic Diocese of Springfield reached settlements with two men who alleged they were sexually abused by the late Rev. Karl Huller as students at Cathedral High School in the 1960s, the diocese accepted as credible a third survivor’s claim she was sexually assaulted by Huller at the school during that same time period.

The diocese, which had reached financial settlements with two men in 2004, accepted as credible in December a third survivor’s claim that she was assaulted by Huller at Cathedral High School in the 1960s.

The finding that “there is reasonable cause to believe” her allegations against Huller, who once served as the diocese’s superintendent of schools, continues an ongoing narrative that many of the accused in the Springfield diocese held high positions that allowed the abuse to be covered up. Survivors coming forward continue to say their allegations are not being handled in a timely and transparent fashion.

Attorney Mitchell Garabedian of Boston is negotiating with diocesan lawyer Kevin D. Withers of Egan, Flanagan & Cohen for financial compensation on the woman’s behalf, but was critical of the fact the allegation was reported to the diocese in November 2019 and that it has yet to release all the names of priests credibly accused.

Not to do so “continues the secrecy which prevents much needed validation for clergy sexual abuse victims and places children in danger,” Garabedian said.

Church dossier helped us snare paedophile priest, police officer tells LBC

Leading Britain's Conversation

February 12, 2021

By Lindsey Alder

A police officer has told LBC a priest convicted of child sex abuse was only caught when information held by the Catholic church was eventually brought to them by his victim.

Joseph Quigley was jailed for more than 11 years in January for abusing a teenage boy whilst working in the clergy in the West Midlands.

He was a priest in Warwick and working as a private tutor when he carried out the attacks between 2006 and 2009.

The victim, who was under 16 when it happened, reported it to the Archdiocese of Birmingham in 2012 but the full details were not passed onto police - despite an earlier allegation about him to the church in 2008.

It took him another 6 years before he had the courage to come forward to the police himself.

Lead investigator DS Abigail Simpson from Warwickshire Police said examining the church's safeguarding file on Quigley was eye-opening.

“Certainly for us it was a pivotal point in the investigation as there was a lot of evidence found within those files that really…supported that these offences had occurred and that Mr Quigley did have an unhealthy sexual interest in young people”.

“I think if the police had been notified at the time these offences were reported (2012), then absolutely we could have investigated earlier.

Known Sexual Abusers from Mount Cashel Sent to Teach in Vancouver Schools, Lawsuit Reveals

CFM Lawyers Press Release

February 8, 2021

Following years of systemic child abuse at the Mount Cashel orphanage, senior members of the Christian Brothers Congregation shuffled six known abusers to teach at two Catholic schools in Vancouver where some of them continued to abuse the boys in their care, according to a class action lawsuit filed today by one of the survivors.

"The abuses at the hands of the Christian Brothers at Mount Cashel are well-known," said Joe Fiorante, QC a partner at CFM Lawyers, the law firm bringing the lawsuit. "But the abuse continued in Vancouver because rather than dealing with the perpetrators, the Christian Brothers simply moved them across the country to teach at schools in Vancouver."

Between 1976 and 1983, six known abusers were transferred from the Mount Cashel Orphanage in Newfoundland to Vancouver College and St. Thomas More Collegiate with the knowledge and approval of senior officials in the Christian Brothers, who were also directors at the schools.

An RCMP investigation into alleged child abuse at Mount Cashel began in 1975 and led to confessions from two Brothers, including one who was later sent to teach in Vancouver. In the 1980s and 1990s, criminal charges for abuse at Mount Cashel were brought against all six Brothers transferred to the Vancouver area. All six were convicted of sexually or physically abusing orphans in their care at Mount Cashel.

Class-action suit filed over alleged orphanage abuse

Canadian Press via Canadian Underwriter

February 10, 2021

By Laura Dhillon Kane

Vancouver - A Catholic order shuffled known abusers from a notorious Newfoundland orphanage to two schools in the Vancouver area where more boys were victimized, a lawsuit alleges.

A proposed class-action suit filed Monday in British Columbia Supreme Court says between 1976 and 1983, an order called the Christian Brothers transferred six abusive members from Mount Cashel Orphanage to Vancouver College and St. Thomas More Collegiate.

The lawsuit says one of the six men, Brother Edward English, confessed to abusing children at Mount Cashel before he was transferred, and all six were later convicted of sexually or physically abusing orphans at the Newfoundland facility.

“Following incidents of abuse, the (Christian Brothers) did not act to protect the children in their care, but to protect their abusers from criminal charges by moving them out of Newfoundland to teach at schools owned and operated by the (Christian Brothers),” the lawsuit says.

Legal loopholes allow abuse to go undetected at religious boarding schools, advocates say

NBC News

February 12, 2021

By Tyler Kingkade, Liz Brown, and Keith Morrison

At a Missouri Christian school for troubled teens, alumni say a gap in state law prevented inspections, enabling abuse to continue for decades.

Colton Schrag remembers the night at the Agapé Boarding School when, he says, a staff member punched him in the face.

It was late on April 20, 2007, he said, and the staff at the all-boys boarding school in southwestern Missouri wanted him to confess that he and two other boys were going to try to run away. After Schrag, then 14, refused to answer their questions, he said, one of the employees knocked him to the ground, and then others held him facedown, pressing a knee into his back and head.

Once they were done, staff members took away Schrag’s clothes and bedding, he said, and made him wear only a bathrobe and his boxers for two months.

‘Nobody Tells Daddy No’: A Housing Boss’s Many Abuse Cases

New York Times

February 7, 2021

By Amy Julia Harris

Victor Rivera gained power and profit as New York’s homeless crisis worsened. Accused of sexual and financial misconduct, he has largely escaped consequences.

At first, the offer seemed generous. Erica Sklar was in a homeless shelter and needed a more stable place to live. Victor Rivera, who oversaw a network of shelters, including the one where she was staying, said he had a solution: a spare apartment for her at his home in the Bronx.

But after Ms. Sklar moved in, she said, she realized that Mr. Rivera, whose nonprofit organization is one of the largest operators of homeless shelters in New York, had other intentions. In December 2016, he asked to see a leaking ceiling in her bedroom, then turned off the lights, pushed her against a wall and began fondling her, according to Ms. Sklar and two friends in whom she confided.

He demanded she give him oral sex, suggesting he would evict her if she refused, she said. Desperate to hold on to her apartment, she complied.

Ms. Sklar is one of 10 women who said they had endured assault or unwanted sexual attention from Mr. Rivera, The New York Times found. Even as some women have sounded warnings about Mr. Rivera — including two who were given payments by his organization that ensured their silence — his power and influence have only grown during New York’s worst homeless crisis in decades.

His organization, the Bronx Parent Housing Network, has received more than $274 million from the city to run homeless shelters and provide services just since 2017. The pandemic has intensified Mr. Rivera’s importance: As the coronavirus swept through the homeless population, the city gave his group $10 million to provide rooms where infected people could isolate and recover.

Women reported Mr. Rivera’s behavior to a state agency, a city hotline and, in one instance, the police. But he maintained his perch atop the organization.

One employee of the Bronx Parent Housing Network said that Mr. Rivera, the chief executive, forced her to give him oral sex in 2016 and then fired her, according to police records, interviews and other documents. In 2018, another employee accused Mr. Rivera of groping her and whispering sexual comments in her ear. After both women separately complained to a state human rights agency, the Bronx Parent Housing Network paid them a total of $175,000 in settlements that prohibited them from speaking publicly about their allegations, according to interviews and records reviewed by The Times.

Five of the women were living in Mr. Rivera’s homeless shelters, or had recently left, when Mr. Rivera approached them for sex, they said.

Top court says abuse victim can reopen claim against London diocese

Canadian Catholic News

February 12, 2021

A victim of former priest and notorious sexual abuser Charles Sylvestre can reopen her civil suit against the Diocese of London, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled Feb. 11.

For more than a decade Irene Deschenes of London, Ont., has been trying to have the suit — settled in 2000 — reopened after finding documents that proved diocesan officials knew of the late Sylvestre’s predatory behaviour dating back to the 1960s.

Deschenes suffered abuse at his hands in the 1970s. The ruling means the diocese and Deschenes can begin renegotiating her claim. Deschenes is seeking $4.83 million in damages, CBC reported.

The diocese expressed disappointment with the ruling in a statement released Feb. 11, saying “we felt strongly that the facts of the case deserved to be presented in court.”

“Our appeals were motivated by this belief, as well as our obligation to be good stewards of the resources entrusted to us,” said the statement.

Earlier court rulings (the Ontario Superior Court in 2018, upheld by the Court of Appeal in 2020) found the discovery of a 1962 police report on Sylvester could have affected the amount of the settlement Deschenes received. The diocese disagreed.

“We believe that report would not have made a material difference in the final settlement,” the statement said, adding, “We also note that the court held that this was an ‘innocent misrepresentation’ on the part of the diocese.”

Accused priest William Wheeler


February 12, 2021

By Bret Buganski

In the past year, the Catholic Diocese of Wichita has added seven names to the list of priests with “substantiated allegations of sexual abuse of a minor.” It brings the total to 22 priests who served the diocese, with either substantiation from the diocese or whose name appears on another diocese or order’s list.

There also is an ongoing Kansas Bureau of Investigation (KBI) investigation into alleged clergy abuse in the Roman Catholic Church. The KBI opened 120 cases since the investigation began in 2018.

One family’s story

Three brothers are opening up to KSN about the abuse they say they endured at the hands of one now deceased Catholic priest. We found out the diocese gave different answers about this very same priest nearly 25 years apart.

The court took the Albert children away from their parents in the 1940s and placed them at St. Joseph Children’s Home in El Dorado, Kansas.

“Some of the nuns were good to us,” Dean Albert said.

“But the big thing is you didn’t have your parents,” Ray Albert said.

KSN first told you about the brothers in 1996. They were suing the Diocese of Wichita, claiming clergy abuse. One of the priests they named was Father William Wheeler.

Editorial: Optimism, disappointment, then new hope for abuse victims


February 13, 2021

Adult victims of child sexual abuse have been riding a roller-coaster of emotions in recent weeks – joy over long-awaited news that a Constitutional amendment might go to voters this spring, then deep disappointment when they learned that the Department of State had failed to advertise that move early enough to get it on the ballot.

Now, just maybe, a renewed glimmer of hope that they won’t have to wait two more years for a chance at justice.

After the state department of state fumbled its opportunity to put a Constitutional amendment that would open a window for child sexual abuse lawsuits before the voters, the state House is picking up the ball.

Led by state Rep. Mark Rozzi, a Berks County Democrat, the House is expected to vote soon on an emergency measure to get the abuse amendment back onto the ballot in May.

Otherwise, the proposal would need to pass legislative approval on consecutive years for a second time – in 2021 and 2022 – and then go before voters in 2023.

Catholic charity confirms allegations of assault against founder


February 11, 2021

By Elise Ann Allen

Rome - On Wednesday well-known Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need, known for its support of persecuted Christians, confirmed reports that the organization’s founder has been credibly accused of sexual assault.

A Feb. 10 article in a supplement for German newspaper Die Zeit reported that an apostolic visitation into Aid to the Church in Need (ACN), took place in 2009, finding that the organization’s founder, Belgian Father Werenfried van Straaten, was found guilty of “serious violations” in four areas of Catholic moral and social teaching.

The executive president of ACN International, Thomas Heine-Geldern, confirmed the allegations to Crux.

Lawsuit highlights abuse cover-up allegations against St. Louis archbishop

Catholic News Agency

February 12, 2021

[See also the complaint.]

Archbishop Mitchell Rozanski of St. Louis is accused in a new lawsuit of covering up abuse allegations in his former diocese of Springfield, MA, which he led from 2014 until last year.

The plaintiff claims he suffered trauma as a result of the diocese’s mishandling of an abuse allegation he brought against Christopher J. Weldon, bishop of Springfield from 1950-1977.

Rozanski has admitted that the diocese mishandled the abuse case, which the plaintiff says he first brought to the diocese’s attention in November 2014.

Pope Francis named Rozanski Archbishop of St. Louis in early June 2020, and he was installed as archbishop that August.

Man subjected to 'unfathomably cruel' sexual abuse by priest awarded £170,000

Irish News

February 13, 2021

A man subjected to "unfathomably cruel" sexual abuse by a priest hearing his childhood confessions is to be awarded £170,000 in damages, a High Court judge has ruled.

Mr Justice McAlinden held that the victim was preyed on by the late Fr Seamus Reid at a Co Down school in the mid 1970s.

The total payout also covers separate claims that Hugh McNamara, a former principal of St Mark's High School in Warrenpoint, caned the victim so hard that he wet himself, and then made him clean up the pool of blood and urine.

The Diocese of Dromore was held liable for the alleged episodes of sexual and physical abuse which resulted in the victim developing post-traumatic stress disorder.

"I find it difficult to imagine a more horrific perversion of the true purpose and meaning of a Christian sacrament by an ordained member of the clergy of a Christian church," the judge said.

Statement of the International Aid Agency Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) on the article “Gut und Böse” in the ZEIT supplement “Christ&Welt”

ACN International

February 10, 2021

By Thomas Heine-Geldern

ACN is dismayed by the serious accusations published in the ZEIT supplement “Christ&Welt” on 10.02.2021 in connection with the founder of the organisation, Father Werenfried van Straaten. The organisation completely condemns the kind of behaviour of which Father van Straaten is accused in the article. In its commitment to an open and complete clarification ACN states the following, relying on all information to hand:

- In 2010, a woman made an accusation of sexual assault against Father van Straaten, which allegedly took place in 1973. The person was 23 years old at the time. Father van Straaten had already died in 2003.

- The account was pausible, even if the question of guilt remains open as by the time the allegation was made the accused was deceased.

- Those responsible at ACN followed the procedure recommended for the ecclesiastical sector in Germany regarding cases of abuse. In line with these protocols, the affected person was awarded financial aid of 16,000 EUR in recognition of the suffering.

- Those responsible at ACN immediately informed the proper ecclesiastical authorities.

- The filing of civil action, which had been considered at the same time, proved to be impossible because the accused had already died.

- The woman concerned expressed the wish for confidentiality. ACN respected this wish.

- The charity is unaware of any other allegations of sexual violence involving Father van Straaten.

News Analysis: Abuse case at Vatican pre-seminary captures risk, reward of transparency


February 12, 2021

By John L. Allen Jr.

Rome - A Vatican tribunal Wednesday heard testimony from the accused party in an unusual sexual abuse case, one involving a charge that one minor abused another during their time at a pre-seminary on Vatican grounds that provides altar boys for liturgies in St. Peter’s Basilica and that’s produced roughly 200 priestly vocations over three-quarters of a century.

Father Gabrielle Martinelli, who’s now 28, was ordained to the priesthood in 2017, and who’s now in service as chaplain in a health care facility for the elderly, is accused of having sexually abused a slightly younger pre-seminarian, identified only as “L.G.”, between 2007 and 2012, at a time when both were still minors. (Martinelli entered the pre-seminary in 2005 and remained there until 2013.)

Also charged in the case is Father Enrico Radice, who was the rector of the facility at the time the alleged abuse occurred, and who’s accused of hampering the investigation – what, in American parlance, would be known as “obstruction of justice.”

SNAP New Orleans Leader to Resign

Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests

February 12, 2021

By Zach Hiner

The volunteer leader of SNAP New Orleans has agreed to resign his position as SNAP leader after developments with the Archdiocese of New Orleans created a conflict of interest through a paid consultation.

As an independent self-help and advocacy group for survivors of religious and institutional abuse, it is important that there be clear separations between SNAP leaders and church officials. The conflict of interest in this case is enough to warrant a change in New Orleans and as such Kevin Bourgeois will no longer be acting as a volunteer SNAP leader. We are grateful to the work that Kevin has done in advocating for and supporting survivors in New Orleans and hope that his work will continue in Louisiana.

Leader of New Orleans clergy abuse victims group ousted over work for archdiocese

WWL-TV and New Orleans Advocate

February 12, 2021

By David Hammer and Ramon Antonio Vargas


The local leader of a national group of survivors of molestation by Catholic clergy parted ways with the organization Friday, a day after the Archdiocese of New Orleans announced it would pay him to train and consult with a new counseling team the church is forming.

Kevin Bourgeois, who had been leading the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests’ New Orleans chapter, said he had accepted a contract from the archdiocese to provide in-service training to a team of victims assistance counselors so that he could have a direct hand in improving the local church’s treatment of abuse claimants.

Bourgeois said he had cleared the arrangement with national SNAP leadership. But SNAP President Zach Hiner issued a statement Friday saying the paid arrangement with the archdiocese created a conflict of interest, and that Bourgeois had resigned from his volunteer post with the survivors group.

Supreme Court sides with London, Ont., woman suing Catholic church


February 11, 2021

By Kate Dubinski

Irene Deschenes, who survived childhood sexual abuse by a local priest, says she is standing strong for herself and for all other survivors. (Rebecca Zandbergen/CBC News)
The Supreme Court of Canada has sided with Irene Deschenes, the London, Ont., woman trying to reopen her civil suit against the Diocese of London, which has tried to legally stop her for more than a decade.

Thursday's dismissal of the diocese's appeal application marks the end of the legal road for the church, at least for now, and it means Deschenes and the church can begin renegotiating her claim.

"It's in the hands of the church so we will see what will happen next. If they have any compassion for the victims they created, they'd be on the phone to us by the end of the day," said Deschenes at a virtual media conference after the ruling.

Diocese spokesperson Matthew Clarke said Bishop Ronald Fabbro will not be granting interviews about the matter, but in a statement said the organization is disappointed by the high court's decision.

Supreme Court dismisses church appeal in historic sex abuse case

Blackburn Radio

February 11, 2021

By Maureen Revait

A woman sexually abused by a priest in Chatham decades ago says she’s hopeful the Diocese of London will show some compassion after the Supreme Court of Canada dismissed the church’s appeal to reopen a settlement reached in 2000.

Irene Deschenes was sexually abused by Father Charles Sylvestre between 1971 and 1973 at St. Ursula School in Chatham. She was just 10-years-old when the abuse started. She filed a lawsuit against the Diocese in 1996 and, in 2000, reached a settlement after the Diocese said it was unaware of concerns about Sylvestre until the 1980s.

Deschenes filed a lawsuit to reopen the settlement after it came to light the Diocese was made aware of accusations against Sylvestre in 1962, 10 years before she was abused.

A lower court ruled the earlier settlement should be thrown out in light of the misrepresentation by the Diocese. The Diocese of London then attempted to appeal that decision and it was finally brought before the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court of Canada announced Thursday morning that it was dismissing the appeal.

“I feel pretty optimistic that this is their last line of redress sort of speak, there are no more appeals,” said Deschenes. “It’s my hope that they will finally say ‘OK this is as far as we can go in litigating this poor woman so it’s time for mediation.'”

Denied final appeal, London Catholic diocese doesn't seem ready to resettle abuse case

London Free Press

February 12, 2021

By Jane Sims

It wasn’t long after her Supreme Court of Canada victory that Irene Deschenes found out her battle with the Roman Catholic Church is far from over.

On Thursday, the country’s highest court dismissed the church’s application for leave to appeal the reopening of Deschenes’ settled civil suit for the sexual abuse she suffered as a child at the hands of pedophile priest Charles Sylvestre.

The decision was the church’s last chance at stopping the re-litigation of a case that was settled for $100,000 and pushed Deschenes to uncover evidence of Sylvestre’s rampant abuses over four decades when he was a priest in Windsor, London, Sarnia, Chatham and Pain Court.

Within hours of the court’s decision, the Roman Catholic Diocese of London issued a statement that said it was “disappointed” with the ruling, but that the church’s rediscovery of a 1962 Sarnia police report implicating Sylvestre after his sentencing for 47 counts of indecent assault “would not have made a material difference to the final settlement.”

“While there is no financial commitment that can erase the damage posed by sexual abuse, the settlement that was offered to Ms. Deschenes was fair and in line with the limited case law that existed at the time,” the church said.

That was a signal this is far from over. Deschenes’ original settlement has been set aside and she’s suing the church for $4.83 million.

“Whatever I say or ask for, they’ll do the opposite, just to continue interrupting my healing, re-victimize and re-traumatize me,” Deschenes, 59, said after the church statement was released.

Buffalo Diocese lawyer refers to AG's lawsuit as 'publicity stunt'

Buffalo News

February 11, 2021

By Jay Tokasz

A Buffalo Diocese lawyer suggested that Attorney General Letitia James’ lawsuit against the diocese over its handling of priests accused of sexual abuse was a “publicity stunt” and may have violated bankruptcy court rules designed to protect bankrupt entities.

Stephen A. Donato, who represents the diocese in its Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing, told Chief Judge Carl L. Bucki that the diocese was seeking to settle the lawsuit filed in November. He also said that the diocese already was doing much of what the Attorney General’s Office requested it do to protect children from sexual predators.

“With the utmost respect, I don’t even understand why this lawsuit was commenced, other than maybe a publicity stunt,” Donato said in a court hearing this week.

The lawsuit accused diocese leaders of not sufficiently investigating abuse allegations and of protecting more than two dozen priests accused of abuse by not referring their cases to the Vatican for potential removal from the priesthood. While not seeking monetary damages, the lawsuit seeks a court injunction that forces the diocese to investigate all abuse accusations, inform the public of credible allegations and enact and enforce policies to prevent a culture of protecting abusers, among other measures.

Vatican charity in spotlight over old sex assault allegation

Associated Press

February 11, 2021

By Nicole Winfield

A pontifical foundation has admitted that its late founder was credibly accused of sexually assaulting a female employee, who came forward in 2010 after learning the deceased priest was being considered for possible beatification.

Aid to the Church in Need, which raises money to build and rebuild churches and train priests in poor countries, said it “deeply regrets” and condemns the alleged behavior of the Rev. Werenfried van Straaten, who died in 2003.

The Koenigstein, Germany-based charity posted a statement and a 26-point question and answer note on its website Wednesday after German newspaper Die Zeit reported on the allegations, which are the latest in a string of sexual misconduct claims against charismatic founders of Vatican-sanctioned religious orders, movements and Catholic charities.

Aid to the Church in Need said it paid the woman 10,000 euros ($12,000) for her suffering, plus 6,000 euros ($,7269) for her pension, after determining that her allegations about the 1973 assault “seemed very plausible.” She was 23 years old at the time.

The charity, which van Straaten founded in 1947, said the claims were reported to the Vatican, which found no other similar claims against the priest and that no criminal prosecution occurred because he had died.

‘Finally’: France seeks to establish age of consent, at 15

France 24

February 12, 2021

France’s government wants to set the age of sexual consent at 15 and make it easier to punish long-ago child sexual abuse, amid growing public pressure and a wave of online testimonies about rape and other sexual violence by parents and authority figures.

“Finally!” was the refrain Wednesday from victims and child protection activists who have long pushed for tougher laws and greater societal recognition of the problem.

France’s lack of an age of consent — along with statutes of limitations — have complicated efforts to prosecute alleged perpetrators, including a prominent modeling agent, a predatory priest, a surgeon and a group of firefighters accused of systematic sexual abuse.

Calling such treatment of children “intolerable,” the Justice Ministry said “the government is determined to act quickly to implement the changes that our society expects.”

February 12, 2021

Former Terenure College rugby coach admitted sexual abuse to senior priest in the school 25 years ago, court hears


February 11, 2021

By Robin Schiller


A former rugby coach who indecently assaulted 23 boys at Terenure College admitted the sexual abuse to a senior priest in the school 25 years ago, a court has heard.

John McClean (76) is being sentenced in relation to 27 counts of indecent assault of the schoolboys, aged between 11 and 17, at Terenure College from 1973 to 1990.

At the time McClean worked at the Carmelite Order-run school and was an English teacher while also coaching rugby.

This afternoon the court heard that a father of one of the victims brought his son's abuse allegation to the attention of a senior member of the Carmelite community in 1996 while McClean was still working at the school.

The court heard the then Prior Provincial of the Irish Provence of Carmelites Fr Robert Kelly, who held the role between 1994 and 2000, told the father that the matter should be reported to gardaí. This complaint was made but never prosecuted, Insp Jason Miley said.

Survivor of sexual abuse by Chatham priest calls on church to peacefully settle case

Chatham Voice

February 11, 2021

By Jenna Cocullo

A London woman now has the right to sue the church for the damage that she suffered as a result of being sexually abused by a priest in Chatham, but she is hoping they will immediately settle instead of dragging her through more court processes.

A ruling by the lower courts of Ontario allowing Irene Deschenes to reopen her case against the Roman Catholic Diocese of London stands after the Supreme Court of Canada declined to hear its appeal.

The Supreme Court of Canada, by convention, gave no reason for declining to intervene in the case.

“Despite the Supreme Court of Canada ruling (Thursday) the reality is that I’m still involved in litigation with the Roman Catholic Church,” Deschenes said.

Between 1971 and 1973 Deschenes was sexually abused by Father Charles Sylvestre at St. Ursula School, Chatham. She was 10 years old at the time.

New Orleans archdiocese announces changes to how it responds to priest abuse claims

WWL-TV and New Orleans Advocate

February 11, 2021

By David Hammer and Ramon Antonio Vargas


Archbishop says changes are borne from dialogue with local SNAP leader.

Weeks after pledging to collaborate with a clerical abuse survivors’ group, the Archdiocese of New Orleans on Thursday announced several changes to the way it plans to respond to people who claim they were molested by priests and deacons.

Most significantly, Archbishop Gregory Aymond has agreed to appoint an abuse survivor to his Independent Review Board, which reviews molestation claims and advises whether a clergyman should be added to a public list of clerics who are suspected of sexually abusing minors.

He also replaced the archdiocese’s victims assistance coordinator, who has been roundly criticized by survivors as ineffectual.

The announcement comes a little more than two weeks before a March 1 legal deadline for new victims of sexual abuse to come forward with claims for compensation against the local church, which filed for bankruptcy last year.

The archdiocese has not disclosed exactly who sits on the Independent Review Board, which is primarily made up of lay professionals. But the archdiocese’s statement said Aymond will invite a survivor to join the board for the first time on the recommendation of victims’ advocates, including Kevin Bourgeois, the head of the local chapter of Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests, or SNAP.

Previously one of the archbishop’s harshest critics, Bourgeois started a dialogue with Aymond in December aimed at improving the local Catholic Church’s treatment of people who disclose clerical abuse, especially those coming forward after years of silence.

Bourgeois, who settled with the church on claims that he was sexually abused by a New Orleans priest as a teen, had particularly harsh words for the archdiocese’s victims assistance coordinator, Marist Brother Stephen Synan, a pastoral counseling instructor at Notre Dame Seminary.

Supreme Court of Canada dismisses Roman Catholic diocese’s appeal in sex abuse case

Global News

February 11, 2021

By Jacquelyn LeBel

The Supreme Court of Canada has dismissed a Roman Catholic diocese’s appeal of a May 2020 decision from Ontario’s top court that allowed a woman who was sexually abused by a priest as a child to sue the church for a second time.

The court’s decision on Thursday means that Irene Deschenes can now go ahead with her $4.83-million civil suit.

“It’s not too late for the Roman Catholic Church to do the right thing and support my healing process,” Deschenes said at a virtual event following the decision.

“It’s too late to take back the re-victimization I have endured over the decades, including having to go through appeal after appeal. But it’s not too late to move forward from here with actions that offer justice, compassion or the Christianity that the church purports is their practice.”

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

She settled out of court after the diocese maintained it didn’t know of any concerns about the priest until the late 1980s, but it later came to light that the diocese received police statements in 1962, alleging the priest had assaulted three girls.

“The Supreme Court decision is final in terms of the issue of whether the previous settlement was binding. The court has implicitly affirmed the decision of the Court of Appeals, saying Irene should not be bound by a settlement based on a misrepresentation to her by the church,” Deschenes’ lawyer Loretta Merritt explained.

Catholic priest sex abuse trial to begin in December 2021

Alamogordo Daily News

February 11, 2021

By Nicole Maxwell

A trial date was set in the case of the late Fr. David Holley, who allegedly sexually abused a victim in Alamogordo.

New Mexico Second Judicial District Judge Daniel Ramczyk set the jury trial date for the case as Dec. 13.

The complainant, listed as John Doe, allegedly was one of several of Holley's victims in Alamogordo in the 1970s, court records state.

Doe filed a tort against several parishes, dioceses and the Servants of the Paraclete about their alleged involvement in the events leading to Holley being moved to Alamogordo in the 1970s.

Holley was sent to the Servants of the Paraclete facility in 1971.

Servants of the Paraclete had two New Mexico locations at the time, one in Albuquerque and one in Jemez Springs.

Holley was sent to the Albuquerque Servants of the Paraclete location to get help for "pedophilic tendencies: following allegations in Holley's home diocese in Worcester, Massachusetts, records show.

Holley was at the Albuquerque location for about a year, according to a 1993 affidavit submitted by Holley to the Second Judicial Court in 1993.

February 11, 2021

Diocese Files Plan of Reorganization

Diocese of Winona-Rochester

February 10, 2021

The Diocese of Winona-Rochester has reached a settlement with the Creditors’ Committee representing 145 survivors of clergy sexual abuse. “It is my desire and hope that the compensation paid in this settlement will help the survivors heal from the pain they have felt over these many years. We must never forget the tragic anguish caused by individuals who abused their power and positions of authority. We must stay vigilant in our unwavering commitment to protect the youth in our Diocese who rely on priests, deacons, religious, and lay people to keep them safe and provide for their spiritual care.” said the Most Reverend John M. Quinn, Bishop of the Diocese of Winona-Rochester.

This settlement, mutually agreed to by the Diocese and the Official Committee of Unsecured Creditors, includes resolution of claims against the parishes, schools and other Catholic entities within the Diocese. The $21.5 million settlement will allow the Diocese to submit a Plan of Reorganization to the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for approval as part of its Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceedings.

In addition to fully satisfying the financial commitment of the Diocese, the settlement provides for additional proceeds from certain insurance companies. The agreement reached with the Committee also provides for future action against certain additional insurance carriers that provided coverage to the Diocese in the 1960’s and 1970’s. Claims stemming from that time period with those insurance carriers are still unresolved and additional compensation to the survivors may be recovered to the extent of the coverage provided by those insurance carriers. With the filing of the Plan of Reorganization, the Diocese will next pursue confirmation of the plan, a process that will include the filing of a disclosure statement and, after its approval, soliciting votes on the plan from survivors and other creditors, and ultimately a hearing at which the bankruptcy judge will decide whether to confirm the plan.

Winona-Rochester Diocese reaches $21.5 million settlement with abuse victims

Star Tribune

February 10, 2021

By Jean Hopfensperger

It's the state's last diocese to settle abuse claims.

The Winona-Rochester Diocese announced Wednesday that it had reached a $21.5 million settlement agreement with 145 individuals who were sexually abused by its clergy.

The diocese declared Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 2018, in response to the abuse claims.

The settlement allows it to submit a financial reorganization plan to the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for final approval.

"We must never forget the tragic anguish caused by individuals who abused their power and positions of authority," said Bishop John Quinn of Winona-Rochester. "We must stay vigilant in our unwavering commitment to protect the youth in our diocese who rely on priests, deacons, religious and lay people to keep them safe and provide for their spiritual care."

St. Paul attorney Jeff Anderson, who represented many of the survivors, said the settlement will include an additional $6.5 million from the diocese's insurers.

The Winona-Rochester Diocese is the last Catholic diocese in Minnesota to settle its abuse claims, filed in response to the 2013 Minnesota Child Victims Act which temporarily extended the statute of limitations on abuse cases.

"This is an important day for the survivors," said Anderson.

Winona-Rochester Diocese to pay $21.5M for sexual abuse claims

Mankato Free Press

February 10, 2021

By Tim Krohn

The Diocese of Winona-Rochester has agreed to a $21.5 million settlement to cover claims of sexual abuse as it goes through bankruptcy reorganization.

The settlement will provide compensation to 145 survivors of clergy sexual abuse.

The diocese stretches all across the southern Minnesota border with Iowa and includes Blue Earth, Cottonwood, Faribault, Martin, Waseca and Watonwan counties.

“It is my desire and hope that the compensation paid in this settlement will help the survivors heal from the pain they have felt over these many years. We must never forget the tragic anguish caused by individuals who abused their power and positions of authority,” Bishop John M. Quinn said in a statement.

Priest in Vatican youth seminary trial denies abuse claims

Associated Press

February 10, 2021

By Nicole Winfield

An Italian priest denied Wednesday that he sexually molested a fellow altar boy when both were teenagers at the Vatican’s youth seminary, taking the stand for the first time in a criminal trial over alleged abuse within the Vatican walls.

The Rev. Gabriele Martinelli told the Vatican tribunal that the allegations against him were unfounded and implausible. He said they were the fruit of divisions in the seminary as well as “jealousy” among former seminarians that he was eventually ordained a priest.

The St. Pius X seminary, located in a palazzo inside the Vatican gardens, houses boys aged 12-18 who serve as altar boys at papal Masses in St. Peter’s Basilica. The scandal erupted in 2017 when former altar boys went public with allegations of misconduct against Martinelli and cover-up by the seminary superiors.

Martinelli is accused of abusing his authority as a more senior seminarian to force a younger seminarian, identified as L.G., into “carnal acts” of sodomy and masturbation, using violence and threats, from 2007-2012.

Martinelli strongly denied the allegations Wednesday, telling the court that the abuse claims were physically impossible given the layout of the seminary and that the rector could enter the dorm rooms at any time. He denied having any power over the younger altar boys and said the claims were more about discrediting him and the seminary, fueled by people who prefer the old Latin rite liturgy over the Mass in vernacular.

At Vatican trial, priest says abuse charges caused by jealousy

Catholic News Service via Union of Catholic Asian News

February 11, 2021

By Junno Arocho Esteves

Father Gabriele Martinelli, 28, is accused of abusing a younger student from 2007 to 2012

A priest accused of abusing a younger student at a minor seminary located at the Vatican cited jealousy as the main reason behind the allegations against him.

Taking the stand Feb. 10, the fourth day of the Vatican criminal trial against him, Father Gabriele Martinelli also said the "unfounded" accusations also were meant to hurt the reputation of the St. Pius X Pre-Seminary, where the alleged abuse occurred.

"I got on many people's nerves because of my character," he testified, "because I try to do the best I can in everything."

Father Martinelli, 28, is accused of abusing a younger student from 2007 to 2012. Although he and his alleged victim were under the age of 18 when the abuse allegedly began, the court accused him of continuing to abuse the younger student when Martinelli was already 20.

Msgr. Enrico Radice, the former rector of the St. Pius X Pre-Seminary, is also standing trial and is accused by the Vatican of hindering the investigation into the abuse allegations, including by lying to Vatican investigators in 2018 when he affirmed with absolute certainty that he had no knowledge of sexual acts ever taking place at the seminary while he was rector.

New York's Catholic church leaders control billions outside the reach of abuse survivors


February 11, 2021

By Edward McKinley

Bankruptcy filings and assets shifted to foundations have coincided with passage of Child Victims Act

The Catholic bishops of New York sold a lucrative insurance business they controlled and stored the proceeds in a foundation they also administer, keeping billions out of the reach of survivors of childhood sexual abuse.

The move occurred in 2018, with the church selling its Fidelis Care insurance company and moving $4.3 billion of the proceeds into the new Mother Cabrini Health Foundation. At the same time, the Child Victims Act in New York was gaining momentum in the Legislature, a measure that the church had lobbied against for more than a decade. It was ultimately signed into law a year later; and it has exposed the church to thousands of lawsuits alleging sexual abuse of children and, in some instances, the coverup of those incidents and shielding of predators.

It has been the church’s practice across the country for more than a decade to divert swarms of abuse claims into bankruptcy proceedings rather than handling each in individual court proceedings. That strategy allows the church to often avoid public trials or witness depositions, and to handle claims in one court proceeding that potentially will preserve more of their financial assets. Four of the eight dioceses in New York have already declared bankruptcy, as abuse lawsuits continuing to pour in across the state.

“This is certainly a transaction that is on our radar," said Ilan D. Scharf, an attorney at Pachulski Stang Ziehl & Jones in New York City, which has specialized for years in representing abuse survivors in diocesan bankruptcy cases. "The fact that they are hiding behind what they claim are legal structures that protect these assets is no excuse for them to avoid using that money to help the victims of these dioceses.”

February 10, 2021

Class action suit filed against pair of Metro Vancouver private schools over abuse allegations

CTV News

February 9, 2021

By Ben Miljure

Vancouver - Two Metro Vancouver private schools have been named in a lawsuit brought by a man who claims an attempted cover up of abuse allegations in Newfoundland led to several dangerous predators being transferred to schools in the Lower Mainland.

Darren Liptrot alleges he was physically and sexually abused by Brother Edward English while attending Vancouver College between 1981 and 1983.

Multiple children accused Edwards of abuse during his time at Newfoundland’s Mount Cashel Orphanage in the 1970s.

In 1991, a court convicted English of multiple charges related to physical and sexual abuse at Mount Cashel and he received a sentence of 10 years in prison.

Liptrot’s lawsuit alleges Christian Brothers in Canada, which ran the orphanage, learned of abuse allegations against six teachers, including English, and instead of taking disciplinary action, arranged for all of them to be transferred to British Columbia.

French Government Seeks to Set Age For Sexual Consent at 15

Associated Press

February 10, 2021

By Angela Charlton

France’s government wants to set the age of sexual consent at 15 and make it easier to punish long-ago child sexual abuse, amid growing public pressure and a wave of online testimonies about rape and other sexual violence by parents and authority figures.

Calling such treatment of children “intolerable,” the justice ministry said in a statement that “the government is determined to act quickly to implement the changes that our society expects.”

“An act of sexual penetration by an adult on a minor under 15 will be considered a rape,” Justice Minister Eric Dupond-Moretti said Tuesday on France-2 television. Consent would no longer be able to be cited to diminish the charges, but exceptions would be made for teenagers having consensual sex, he said.

The change would still need to be enshrined in law, but the announcement is a major step after years of efforts to toughen French protection for children victims of rape and sexual violence.

A push to set France’s first age of consent three years ago in the wake of the global #MeToo movement failed amid legal complications. But the effort has gained new momentum since accusations emerged last month of incestuous sexual abuse involving a prominent French political expert, Olivier Duhamel. That unleashed an online #MeTooInceste movement in France that led to hundreds of similar testimonies.

The Justice Ministry says it is in discussions with victims’ groups about toughening punishment of incest and extending or abolishing the statute of limitations on child sexual abuse, which has prevented prosecution in several high-profile cases in France in recent years.

Dilworth sexual abuse accused identity revealed

New Zealand Herald

February 9, 2021

By Amy Wiggins

The man who died last year after being charged in relation to historical sexual offending at Dilworth school was an air traffic controller and long-serving volunteer and staff member of New Zealand's gay, lesbian and transgender telephone counselling service.

Richard Charles Galloway was last year charged with indecent assault as part of Operation Beverley. He died on November 26 aged 69 after earlier being diagnosed with cancer.

The Herald can reveal his name for the first time today.

Last year Galloway was charged with indecently assaulting a boy under 16 between 1975 and 1976 as part of the Dilworth investigation.

He was already facing five unrelated charges, which were laid in 2019. Three were for supplying cannabis to a person under 18 and two for indecently assaulting a boy under 16. All allegedly occurred in 1980.

Bishop Weldon accuser files lawsuit against Springfield diocese

The Republican via MassLive

February 9, 2021

By Ray Kelly

A former altar boy who accused the late Bishop Christopher J. Weldon of sexual assault — and whose claim was found to be “unequivocally credible” following a review ordered by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Springfield — has filed a lawsuit seeking compensation for the physical harm he suffered in the 1960s and continued emotional distress.

The plaintiff, identified as “John Doe” of Chicopee, says he was between 9 and 11 years old when he was raped multiple times at multiple locations by Weldon and two other members of the clergy.

In a 26-page lawsuit filed in Hampden Superior Court and first reported by The Berkshire Eagle, the plaintiff alleges that current and past church officials, including former Bishop Mitchell T. Rozanski and the diocese’s longtime attorney, John. J. Egan, engaged in a cover-up to protect Weldon’s legacy.

“In failing to take action and/or intentionally concealing plaintiff’s complaint over a period of four years, the RCBS (Roman Catholic Bishop of Springfield) demonstrated a callous disregard toward plaintiff’s suffering, further victimizing plaintiff,” the suit alleges.

In addition to Egan and Rozanski, who is now archbishop of St. Louis, the complaint names as defendants the office of the Springfield bishop; Monsignor Christopher Connelly; Patricia McManamy, director of Counseling, Prevention and Victim Services; Jeffrey Trant, director of the office of Safe Environment and Victim Assistance; John Hale, Review Board chairman; Kevin Murphy, diocesan investigator; and Mark Dupont, diocesan communications director.

St. Louis Archbishop Rozanski accused of covering up clergy sex abuse at previous post


February 10, 2021

By Jesse Bogan


A civil lawsuit filed in Springfield, Massachusetts, alleges St. Louis Archbishop Mitchell T. Rozanski was part of “abhorrent attempts” to protect the reputation of a now disgraced Roman Catholic bishop while at his previous post in the northeast.

The plaintiff, named John Doe in court records, had already claimed that the late Springfield Bishop Christopher J. Weldon sexually abused him in the 1960s when he was an altar boy. Now he alleges he was also harmed by the alleged cover-up of the abuse decades later when he first started reporting it to the diocese in late 2014.

In part, Rozanski, who served as bishop in Springfield from 2014 to 2020, is accused of approving an official statement to the press denying that the Diocesan Review Board found a credible allegation of abuse against Weldon when that statement was “patently false,” according to the Jan. 28 lawsuit, reported Tuesday by The Berkshire Eagle newspaper.

Though the lawsuit specifically names Rozanski as one of the defendants, his spokesman told the Post-Dispatch on Tuesday by email: “The Archdiocese of St. Louis does not respond to inquiries regarding pending litigation against another diocese.”

Proposed class-action suit in Vancouver alleges Christian Brothers abuse

Catholic News Service via National Catholic Reporter

February 9, 2021

Vancouver - The Archdiocese of Vancouver has responded to a proposed class-action lawsuit involving allegations of sexual abuse at two Catholic high schools run by the Christian Brothers.

The suit, filed in British Columbia's Supreme Court Feb. 8, alleges that between 1976 and 1983, six men who abused children at Mount Cashel Orphanage in St. John's, Newfoundland — run by the Christian Brothers — were transferred to the two Vancouver schools, reported B.C. Catholic, archdiocesan newspaper.

The plaintiff, Darren Liptrot, says he was sexually abused while he attended Vancouver College from 1980 to 1985. The other school was St. Thomas More. The claims have not been proven in court.

"The Archdiocese of Vancouver feels great sadness and regret for anyone who has suffered sexual abuse from a person in power," the archdiocese said in a statement Feb. 8.

It said the archdiocese and Catholic Independent Schools of the Vancouver Archdiocese, both named in the proposed suit, do not own or operate the schools.

Clergy abuse survivor claims former Springfield bishop, others engaged in cover-up

Berkshire Eagle

February 9, 2021

By Larry Parnass


The former altar boy who accused a legendary bishop of rape — an account deemed “unequivocally credible” by a retired judge last summer — wants to be compensated for his suffering, citing inaction and connivance by church officials that, he says, exacerbated his pain.

In a lawsuit filed in Hampden Superior Court, the Chicopee man alleges that current and former officials within the Roman Catholic Diocese of Springfield, including former Bishop Mitchell T. Rozanski, engaged in a cover-up to protect the reputation of the late Bishop Christopher J. Weldon.

The suit alleges that people who work or worked for the diocese, including its longtime attorney, John. J. Egan, played various roles in suppressing the unnamed man’s initial reports of abuse by Weldon and two other members of the clergy in the 1960s, starting when the child was 9.

The plaintiff is identified in the civil action only as John Doe. The suit, which appeared on the court’s docket Monday, seeks a jury trial and what it terms an award that will “adequately compensate him for his damages, plus interest, costs and attorney’s fees …”

The suit comes eight months after an explosive report revealed inaction and manipulation of the case by the Springfield Diocese, leading one of the newly named defendants, Rozanski, to say at the time that the diocese had “failed this courageous man.”

Commentary: Former altar boy loses defamation suit

Cincinnati Enquirer

February 9, 2021

By Jack Greiner

Former altar boy Kevin DiMauro recently saw a New York state appellate court affirm the dismissal of his libel suit against a Staten Island newspaper.

DiMauro claimed that the Staten Island Advance identified DiMauro as a victim of sexual abuse by a Catholic priest. DiMauro’s case failed, however, because he couldn’t demonstrate that he was the subject of the reporting.

In October 2018 the Advance published an article reporting that allegations of sexual abuse against a pastor at Blessed Sacrament Roman Catholic Church had been substantiated.

In the print version of the article, between the headline “Longtime pastor ‘will never serve as a priest again’” and the subheading “Archdiocese affirms sex-abuse allegations against former Blessed Sacrament monsignor,” the Advance included a photograph from 2000 depicting the pastor at issue, two other priests, and three children—including DiMauro, walking in a church processional, with several parishioners in the background.

The caption to the photograph read, “Monsignor Francis Boyle, seen here at Blessed Sacrament Roman Catholic Church in West Brighton in 2000, faces sex-abuse allegations brought through the Archdiocese’s Independent Reconciliation Program.”

In granting the Advance’s motion to dismiss, the court ruled that DiMauro couldn’t establish that the article was “of and concerning” him. In a libel case, the plaintiff has to establish that the article is of and concerning him. That means the plaintiff must “prove that the statement referred to them and that a person hearing or reading the statement reasonably could have interpreted it as such.” DiMauro argued that by including the photo that depicted him in the procession with the abusive priest, the article sufficiently identified him as one of the victims.

Xanana Gusmao's sons 'disappointed' after their father attends accused paedophile's birthday party


February 9, 2021

By Anne Barker

The sons of Timor Leste's former president Xanana Gusmao have expressed their disappointment to the victims of a former priest facing child sexual abuse allegations, after their father visited him for his birthday at his home in Dili.

Alexandre Sword-Gusmao, 20, and his brothers Kay Olok, 18, and Daniel, 16, wrote to the victims of former Catholic priest Richard Daschbach, who has been charged with sexually abusing girls at a remote Timorese orphanage that he ran for decades.

Xanana Gusmao, also the former prime minister, was filmed late last month visiting Mr Daschbach at his Dili home where he is under house arrest, toasting him on his 84th birthday with cake and drink.

Mr Daschbach, an American-born missionary who first arrived in Timor Leste in 1966, is regarded by many Timorese as a hero for his role in saving children during the country's independence struggle.

But he was officially defrocked by Pope Francis in 2018, and expelled from the organisation SVD, or Divine Word Missionaries, after he admitted to the sexual abuse of minors.

Kansas bishop steps aside as abuse allegation is investigated

Catholic News Service

February 9, 2021

Dodge City KS - Denying any wrongdoing, Bishop John B. Brungardt of Dodge City has stepped away from his duties and pledged to cooperate with authorities investigating an allegation of abuse of a minor made against him.

The diocese said in a statement Feb. 8 that the accusation is being investigated by the Kansas Bureau of Investigation.

The bureau recently notified the diocese of the accusation.

The agency confirmed to The Associated Press that it is investigating the allegation. A spokeswoman said no arrests have been made and no charges have been filed but declined to release any other information.

As required, Bishop Brungardt informed his metropolitan archbishop, Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann of Kansas City, Kansas, of the allegation, the diocese said. The Congregation for Bishops at the Vatican has appointed Bishop Gerald L. Vincke of Salina, Kansas, as apostolic administrator while the investigation continues.

Allegation Brought Forward

Diocese of Gaylord

February 8, 2021

An allegation of sexual misconduct involving an adult woman against Father Eyob Merin, pastoral administrator of St. Mary Parish (Kingsley), has been brought forward. The allegation was made public at a parish meeting, and subsequently made known to the diocese thereafter. Father Merin has denied the allegation.

Until the allegation is further investigated and resolved, Father Eyob has, for the time being, voluntarily stepped aside from his role as pastoral administrator at St. Mary (Kingsley). The diocese will continue to take all steps necessary to investigate and bring this situation to resolution.

Any allegation of abuse by a priest, bishop or someone in the Church should be reported to law enforcement; the Michigan Department of Attorney General (844.324.3374); or the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (855.444.3911). Reports should also be made to Church authorities by contacting the Diocesan Victim Assistance Coordinator, Larry LaCross (989.705.9010).

February 9, 2021

'I felt abandoned': Catholic priests turn to defamation lawsuits to fight sex abuse claims

The Record via NorthJersey.com

February 9, 2021

By Deena Yellin

As clergy abuse lawsuits proliferate across the U.S., a growing number of priests who say they were falsely accused are pushing back – by suing their accusers, investigators and even church officials.

The list includes the Rev. Roy Herberger of the Catholic Diocese of Buffalo. Last year, he filed a defamation case against a 42-year-old man who said the priest had assaulted him as a boy.

The diocese cleared Herberger after a six-month investigation, but the experience was devastating, he said.

Father Eduard Perrone, a popular Catholic priest for The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary Parish in Detroit was suspended for alleged child sex abuse. He won a $125,000 settlement in a defamation lawsuit against a local sheriff's investigator.
"I felt abandoned, embarrassed and betrayed," Herberger said in an e-mail. "It was difficult for me to leave the shelter of my apartment lest I be seen by others who might recognize me and tag me as 'one of them.'"

Catholic leaders from the Vatican to America have acknowledged a long history of abuse by some clerics, too often excused or even covered up by top officials.

But as the Church vows to be more transparent, some innocent priests have been swept up in the accusations as well, defense attorneys say. New laws in New Jersey and elsewhere lifting the statue of limitations on decades-old claims have made it more difficult for the wrongly accused to defend their reputations, they say.

"In my view, it's unconstitutional to put people under a microscope" after so many years have passed, said James Porfido, a criminal defense attorney in Morristown. "It shifts the burden of proof to the defense."

St. John's Catholic diocese named in proposed Vancouver class action

Chronicle Herald

February 8, 2021

By Barb Sweet

Notice of civil claim was filed in the Supreme Court of British Columbia Monday

Vancouver, British Columbia - The legal entity of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of St. John’s has been named in a proposed class-action lawsuit involving alleged sexual abuse at schools in Vancouver where Christian Brothers taught decades ago.

The notice of civil claim was to be filed in the Supreme Court of British Columbia Monday and the local archdiocese has not had legal notification yet, according to the lawyer Joe Fiorante who hopes to get the class action certified in B.C.

“The abuse at Vancouver College and St. Thomas More continued a pattern of systemic child abuse at institutions run by the Christian Brothers in Canada (CBIC) first revealed at the Mount Cashel Orphanage in Newfoundland in the mid-to-late 1970s,” alleges the notice of claim. (Early police investigations in Newfoundland and Labrador were covered up at the time.)

“Following incidents of abuse, the CBIC did not act to protect the children in their care, but to protect their abusers from criminal charges by moving them out of Newfoundland to teach at schools owned and operated by the CBIC, including Vancouver College and St. Thomas More. The transfers were carried out with the knowledge and approval of the Archbishop of St. John's.”

Kansas Catholic bishop under investigation by KBI for alleged sexual abuse of a minor

Wichita Eagle from Kansas City Star

February 8, 2021

By Judy L. Thomas

Kansas’ top law enforcement agency is investigating an allegation of sexual abuse of a minor against Roman Catholic Bishop John B. Brungardt of Dodge City, the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas announced Monday.

“An investigation conducted by the Kansas Bureau of Investigation (KBI) is under way,” the archdiocese said in a statement published in The Leaven, its official newspaper. “Bishop Brungardt denies the allegation and is cooperating fully with the KBl.”

Brungardt, a former high school science teacher, has asked to step aside from his duties until the matter is resolved, the archdiocese said. That decision is supported by Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann of the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas.

The Congregation for Bishops has appointed the Bishop of Salina, Gerald L. Vincke, as temporary apostolic administrator of the Diocese of Dodge City during the investigation.

Naumann has been asked by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, or CDF, at the Vatican to conduct a canonical preliminary investigation into the matter, the archdiocese said. The CDF handles issues involving child sexual abuse.

Vatican removed as defendant in Guam clergy sex abuse case

Guam Daily Post

February 8, 2021

By Haidee Eugenio Gilbert

The nephew of former Guam Archbishop Anthony Apuron removed the Holy See, or the Vatican, from the list of defendants in his clergy sex abuse case.

Mark Apuron, through attorney Delia Lujan Wolff, filed a "notice of voluntary dismissal without prejudice" of all claims against "Defendant Holy See, State of the Vatican City, its instrumentalities and/or agents."

A dismissal without prejudice means the matter is not dismissed forever, and can be brought to court again.

Mark Apuron's claims against other defendants are not dismissed, he said in his Jan. 21 court filing. His claims against the Archdiocese of Agana, Anthony Apuron, the Capuchin Franciscans and others remain.

WNY parishes benefit from PPP loans, but Diocese of Buffalo is left out


February 8, 2021

By Mike Baggerman

Hear thoughts from attorney Steve Boyd on AP report of $1.5 billion for US dioceses

Despite several Roman Catholic dioceses across the United States receiving at least $1.5 billion from taxpayers, the Catholic Church in Buffalo did not receive any funds due to the bankruptcy filing.

Though there was some benefit in the local church community.

“Parishes and schools are separately incorporated entities – many of which have suffered significant financial hardship as a result of Covid-19,” the Diocese of Buffalo told WBEN in a statement. “Moreover, the Diocese of Buffalo, as a separate corporate entity, does not qualify for any federal government funds allocated under the PPP program given that it is Chapter 11 reorganization.”

The Diocese of Buffalo also has not and said they will not apply for the next round of federal funding that is being advocated by the Biden Administration.

Florida Diocese Hides Abuse Even during a 2020 Criminal Investigation

Horowitz Law - Lawyer's Blog

February 8, 2021

And in the category of Most Secretive Florida Catholic Diocese, the award goes to. . . .St. Augustine!

Records obtained by law enforcement, show that St. Augustine diocesan officials hid recent abuse reports against a priest, EVEN IN THE MIDDLE OF A STATEWIDE ATTORNEY GENERAL INVESTIGATION into church abuse and concealment cases.


And the records contain the names of several credibly accused predator priests whose identities would have almost certainly remained secret if not for that Attorney General probe.

Remember, it was nearly 20 years ago that every U.S. bishop pledged to reform their mishandling of abuse reports, a pledge often honored only in the breach. This pledge, it turns out, was apparently easier for them to make than to uphold.

While the Florida Attorney General’s Office of Statewide Prosecution was investigating the Catholic abuse scandal just a year ago, a St. Augustine priest – Fr. D. Terrence Morgan – was under investigation by a local police department for a lewd and lascivious act on a child, including allegations he grabbed a child’s butt and sent sexually explicit text messages.

Did St. Augustine Bishop Felipe Estevez share that report with the AG’s office? Nope.

Editorial: NCR thanks the US bishops (well, their news service)

National Catholic Reporter

February 8, 2021

In every industry, there are the die-hard professionals: the ones you can count on to do the job day-in, day-out, with a minimum of fuss or any clamor for recognition.

For those of us in the journalism business, that's the wire service reporters: those often-harried folks usually clocking extended hours to make sure that any event with even a semblance of news interest receives coverage.

At daily newspapers, services like the Associated Press (AP) and Reuters fill the gap when an editor just doesn't have the resources to assign an in-house reporter to a story. In the Catholic press, there's really only one gold standard: Catholic News Service (CNS).

Founded in 1920 as part of what was then the National Catholic Welfare Council and is now the U.S. bishops' conference, CNS is a reliable, fair-handed operation. Its journalists are professionals, many with previous experience in the secular realm, and not seeking to be catechists or, worse, apologists for the faith.

Pick a significant event in the life of church or country in the past 100 years and, more than likely, a CNS reporter was there to provide clean copy for subscribers like NCR to use as needed. Our editors often in fact mistakenly receive compliments for coverage that appears on our site but was provided by CNS. (We also often receive comments about the completely unrelated EWTN-owned outfit, Catholic News Agency, which NCR does not use).

In Rome, the steadfastness of the CNS bureau is the stuff of legend. Almost every papal speech gets coverage (including the many Pope Francis ad-libs), and almost every event is photographed (and often videoed, too). That its leader, Cindy Wooden, is a lay woman — and dedicated professional — in a city of clerics is an added important fact.

Cruelty and abuse of power were not the preserve of religious orders

Irish Times

February 8, 2021

By Eoin O'Sullivan and Ian O'Donnell

State-run psychiatric hospitals were the single greatest contributor to coercive confinement in mid-20th century Ireland

The recently published report into mother and baby homes is the latest investigation into institutions that together constituted what we have described as a network of “coercive confinement” in Ireland.

This also included prisons, reformatory and industrial schools, psychiatric hospitals, county homes (former workhouses), and Magdalene laundries.

Yet the largest part of this landscape of confinement – institutions run by the State, particularly psychiatric hospitals – has gone unexamined.

The Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse, chaired by Justice Seán Ryan, estimated that 42,000 children passed through orphanages, reformatory and industrial schools between the 1930s and the 1970s. Former pupils gave evidence of the physical and sexual abuse they had experienced.

Dodge City bishop steps away during abuse investigation

Associated Press

February 8, 2021

The bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Dodge City has stepped away from his duties after being accused of abusing a minor, the diocese announced Monday.

Bishop John Brungardt denies the allegations and will cooperate with the investigation, the diocese said.

The Kansas Bureau of Investigation recently notified the diocese of the accusation and will conduct the investigation.

Rev. Ted Stoecklein, spokesman for the Dodge City Diocese, said no further information would be released during the investigation

A KBI spokeswoman on Monday confirmed the agency is investigating the allegation. She said no arrests have been made and no charges have been filed but declined to release any other information.

In August, the KBI said it had received 205 reports of clergy sexual abuse and opened 120 cases since it began investigating the three Catholic dioceses in Kansas nearly two years ago,


The Leaven - Archdiocese of Kansas City

February 8, 2021

The Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas has been made aware of a complaint concerning Bishop John B. Brungardt of Dodge City, who is accused of sexual abuse against a minor.

An investigation conducted by the Kansas Bureau of Investigation (KBI) is under way. Bishop Brungardt denies the allegation and is cooperating fully with the KBl. He has, however, asked to step aside from his duties until the matter is resolved, a decision supported by his Metropolitan, Archbishop Joseph Naumann. Consequently, the Congregation for Bishops has appointed, with immediate effect, Most. Rev. Gerald L. Vincke, Bishop of Salina, as Apostolic Administrator sede plena of the Diocese of Dodge City.

The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, which is competent in cases involving sexual abuse of minors, has asked Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann to carry out a canonical preliminary investigation of the matter, in conformity with the provisions of the Apostolic Letters motu proprio, Sacramentorum sanctitatis tutela and Vos estis lux mundi. Archbishop Naumann will send the results of this preliminary investigation to the Congregation, along with his opinion about the initial findings, in the shortest time possible, taking into account that the State investigation is still ongoing.

Bishop Vincke named temporary Apostolic Administrator of the Diocese of Dodge City

Diocese of Salina

February 8, 2021

The Diocese of Dodge City announced on February 8th that Bishop John Brungardt has been accused of sexual abuse of a minor. The Kansas Bureau of Investigation is conducting the investigation. Bishop Brungardt denies the allegation.

Bishop Brungardt has willingly asked to be placed on a leave of absence during the investigation. The Congregation for Bishops has appointed Most Reverend Gerald L. Vincke the temporary Apostolic Administrator of the Diocese of Dodge City, effective immediately. Bishop Vincke remains as the Bishop of Salina in addition to his role as Apostolic Administrator of the Diocese of Dodge City.

Chancery officials answered the following questions about Bishop Brungardt’s absence.

Q. What kind of authority does an apostolic administrator have?

A. An apostolic administrator is equivalent in canon law to the diocesan bishop and has, essentially, the same authority as a diocesan bishop.

Q. How long will Bishop Brungardt be on leave?

A. The length of leave will be determined by the results of the investigation, along with the decision of the Holy Father.

Official Statement Regarding Bishop John B. Brungardt

Diocese of Dodge City

February 8, 2021

Bishop John B. Brungardt of the Catholic Diocese of Dodge City has been notified by the Kansas Bureau of Investigation of an accusation of abuse of a minor made against him. Bishop Brungardt denies the allegation and is fully cooperating with the ongoing investigation. He has decided to step aside from his duties until the matter is resolved and has informed his Metropolitan Archbishop, Joseph Naumann. Consequently, the Congregation for Bishops has appointed, with immediate effect, Most Rev. Gerald Vincke, Bishop of Salina, as Apostolic Administrator of the Diocese of Dodge City. Due to the ongoing investigation, no further details can be shared at this point. To report abuse, call law enforcement and if an allegation involves a bishop, it can be reported to the bishop third-party reporting system at 1.800.276.1562 or online at https ://reportbishopabuse.org. Please pray for all involved.

Rev. Piotr Calik named vicar general for Roman Catholic Diocese of Springfield

Republican via MassLive

February 8, 2021

By Anne-Gerard Flynn

The Rev. Piotr Stanislaw Calik, currently pastor of All Saints and St. Mary parishes in Ware, has been named vicar general for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Springfield by Bishop William Byrne.

The position, the highest under a bishop in overseeing a diocese and its administrative offices, has been vacant since last summer when the diocese’s ninth bishop - Mitchell T. Rozanski - was named Archbishop of St. Louis, and the Rev. Monsignor Christopher Connelly, rector of St. Michael’s Cathedral, said he would not seek reappointment.

A report issued at that time had been critical of Connelly in its investigation into how the diocese had handled sexual abuse allegations against the late Bishop Christopher Weldon.

“After much prayer and consultation, I am appointing Father Piotr Calik as vicar general and moderator of the curia for the Diocese of Springfield,” said Byrne in an announcement on the diocese’s Catholic Communications’ website.

Bishop Byrne names Father Piotr Calik vicar general, moderator of the curia

iObserve - Diocese of Springfield

February 8, 2021

Bishop William Byrne has named Father Piotr Calik as vicar general of the Diocese of Springfield. A vicar general reports to the bishop and is the moderator of the curia, or administrative affairs.

“After much prayer and consultation, I am appointing Father Piotr Calik as vicar general and moderator of the curia for the Diocese of Springfield. Father Piotr’s many gifts are well-suited for this time of transition,” said Bishop Byrne.

“The position will be full-time to allow me to be bishop, not of an office, but of our diocese. I am grateful that Father Piotr has agreed to serve in this capacity because I know he loves being a pastor,” Bishop Byrne said.

Father Calik is currently the pastor of All Saints and St. Mary parishes in Ware.

“Of course, being asked by Bishop Byrne to be vicar general was a huge surprise to me. I do remember very well that after that news, I wasn’t able to sleep the whole night,” said Father Calik. “However, I am a strong believer in obedience, which comes from the rite of priestly ordination. For sure, it is a very humbling experience.”

Father Calik attended SS. Cyril and Methodius Seminary in Krakow, Poland from 2007-2008, before attending SS. Cyril and Methodius Seminary in Michigan from 2008-2013. He was ordained a priest in the Diocese of Springfield in 2013 by then Springfield Bishop Timothy A. McDonnell.

He serves on the College of Consultors and the Presbyteral Council. In addition, he was assigned to the World Youth Day Committee in 2016, the Vocation Advisory Team, New Pastors Program, and the Commission for the Clergy. Father Calik is currently the dean of the Hampden-East Deanery.

February 8, 2021

North Dakota bill to close child abuse reporting loophole nixed after Catholic opposition

Grand Forks Herald

February 1, 2021

By C.S. Hagen


Backers of the bill said it was not aimed at the Catholic Church. But the legislation came at a time when North Dakota dioceses were under scrutiny for historical inaction on child sex abuse.

Bismarck - A bill that would have required North Dakota clergy to report cases of child abuse and neglect learned during confession or other private religious conversations has been withdrawn from consideration this session.

Current state law presents a loophole that does not mandate that pastors, priests and other clergy report abuse to a law enforcement agency if it's information received when acting as a spiritual advisor.

The withdrawal of Senate Bill 2180 on Friday, Jan. 29, came after the Catholic Church publicly condemned the legislation as “draconian.”

In a Jan. 20 letter, William Donohue, president of the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights, said that legislation to break the seal of the confessional was a “direct assault on our faith.”

On the Senate floor, bill co-sponsor Sen. Judy Lee, R-West Fargo, asked for it to be withdrawn, saying that because of a "lack of understanding about the goal and the circumstances, the bill has become a distraction."

N.L. Roman Catholic parishioners told Mount Cashel resolution to mean 'sacrifice'

Kamloops This Week from Canadian Press

February 7, 2021

St. John's, Newfoundland and Labrador - Roman Catholic parishes in St. John's were informed Sunday the resolution of claims by victims of abuse at the Mount Cashel orphanage will mean "changes and sacrifices" to deal with the financial fallout.

The Supreme Court of Canada dismissed the archdiocese's application for leave to appeal a decision by the Newfoundland and Labrador Appeal Court on Jan. 14, meaning the church is liable for abuse committed in the 1940s, 50s and 60s.

He says in the letter he can't promise the road ahead will be an easy one, but he hopes the resolution process will bring healing for victims, their loved ones and the entire faith community.

The archbishop said "the resolution of the claims will have significant implications for the parishes and parishioners," in the diocese, adding in a news release he's not available for further comment.

The case first shook Newfoundland and Labrador decades ago, and the recent Supreme Court decision has determined once and for all that the church has a responsibility to the victims of the abuse that took place at the notorious former orphanage at the hands of the Christian Brothers.

Catholic schools in US hit by unprecedented enrollment drop

Associated Press

February 8, 2021

By David Crary

Enrollment in Roman Catholic schools in the United States dropped 6.4% from the previous academic year amid the pandemic and economic stresses — the largest single-year decline in at least five decades, Catholic education officials reported Monday.

Among the factors were the closure or consolidation of more than 200 schools and the difficulty for many parents of paying tuition fees that average more than $5,000 for grades K-8 and more than $10,000 for secondary schools, according to the National Catholic Educational Association.

John Reyes, the NCEA’s executive director for operational vitality, said the pandemic has been an “accelerant” for longstanding challenges facing Catholic education.

Between the 2019-2020 school year and the current year, nationwide enrollment dropped by 110,000 to about 1.6 million students. Back in the 1960s, enrollment was more than 5 million.

With the recent wave of closures, there are now 5,981 Catholic schools in the United States, compared with more than 11,000 in 1970.

Reyes said they disproportionately impacted urban communities where significant numbers of Black children, including many from non-Catholic families, attended Catholic schools.

Indeed, some of the largest enrollment losses were in big-city dioceses, including 12.3% in Los Angeles, 11.1% in New York and 8.2% in Chicago.

The only big-city dioceses that saw significant increases were in Western cities with large Hispanic populations: up 5.5% in Las Vegas, 4.6% in Denver and 2.4% in Phoenix.

House Sponsors Hope Derailed Sex Abuse Survivor Rights Amendment Will Get Back on Track


February 8, 2021

By Sam Dunklau

Harrisburg PA - A proposal to give childhood sexual abuse survivors in Pennsylvania two more years to sue after the statute of limitations has expired is getting another chance in the state legislature.

The measure would have amended the commonwealth’s Constitution, but its years-long approval process was set to start over when the Department of State revealed this week it failed to advertise the amendment last year, as required by the Constitution.

Representatives Jim Gregory and Mark Rozzi speak to reporters after the successful passage of their bills from the House Judiciary Committee. Katie Meyer / WITF

Under Pa. law, constitutional amendments need to be approved twice in each chamber in two consecutive sessions before heading to voters, which takes at least two years to accomplish.

The snafu prompted bipartisan criticism and the resignation of Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar, who officially stepped down Friday.

Pope to Focolare: Continue to grow in dialogue with today's world

Catholic News Service via Catholic San Francisco / Archdiocese of San Francisco

February 8, 2021

By Carol Glatz
Catholic News Service

Vatican City - Pope Francis encouraged members of the Focolare movement to remain open to and in dialogue with the world around them, and to be courageous in confronting problems within their community, particularly in regard to revelations of abuse.

"This approach of openness and dialogue will help you avoid every self-referentiality, which is always a sin; it is a temptation to look at oneself in the mirror," he said in an audience in the Paul VI audience hall Feb. 6 with member-delegates taking part in the movement's general assembly.

This self-referential tendency must be avoided by everyone in the church because being "turned inward on oneself," he said, "always leads to defending the institution to the detriment of people and can also lead to justifying or covering up forms of abuse."

"Instead, it is better to be courageous and face problems with 'parresia' (boldness) and truth, always following the indications of the church, who is a mother, a true mother, and responding to the demands of justice and charity," he said.

The topic of abuse and safeguarding was part of discussions during the Focolare general assembly Jan. 24-Feb. 7. Co-president Father Jesus Moran Cepedano, who is responsible for moral and disciplinary issues for the movement, was scheduled to give "an ad hoc intervention" during the general assembly as part of a more in-depth discussion, he said in an interview published on the Focolare website Jan. 20.

Diocese of Wilmington again found in compliance with plan to deal with sexual abuse of minors

The Dialog - Diocese of Wilmington

February 5, 2021

The Catholic Diocese of Wilmington has once again been found to be in compliance with the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People, the comprehensive action plan adopted by the U.S. bishops in 2002 to effectively deal with sexual abuse of minors by members of the clergy and other church personnel.

The findings are a result of a review of data collected for the 2019/2020 Charter audit period by StoneBridge Business Partners, an independent firm hired by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. The Diocese of Wilmington has been found to be in compliance in all audits including its first audit in 2004.

Currently, there are approximately 11,000 active individuals – including clergy, deacons and parish and school staff and volunteers – that have undergone background checks and have been cleared for ministry with young people in the Diocese of Wilmington through its For the Sake of God’s Children safe environment program.

Diocese of Buffalo says audit shows it to be complying with youth safety procedures


February 2, 2021

By Michael Mroziak

The Catholic Diocese of Buffalo says a newly-completed audit by a Rochester firm finds it is fully complying with guidelines put forth to protect children and young people from harm.

StoneBridge Business Partners looked at the years 2019 and 2020, collecting and measuring data from parishes, schools and key diocesan departments. The information collected covers topics including appropriate training, screening and hiring processes and procedures for working with victims.

The purpose of the audit was to determine whether the Diocese of Buffalo has been following the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People issued by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.

Poles Lose Faith as PiS Drives Politicisation of Church

Reporting Democracy/Balkan Investigative Reporting Network

February 8, 2021

By Dariusz Kalan

Distrust of the Polish Catholic Church’s takeover of many aspects of life, its inability to handle internal scandals, and the discord between conservative dogma and some priests’ ostentatious wealth are driving many Poles away.

Warsaw - For Michal Rogalski, his Catholic faith meant much more than Sunday gatherings, decorating a Christmas tree and other religious routines. It was something he felt deeply about and has explored in various ways throughout his whole life.

Born in a staunchly Roman Catholic family, Rogalski, a 32-year-old translator, became an altar boy at the age of four. Later, for a year, he attended a pre-novitiate program required to join the Dominican friary, which he eventually abandoned, and he wrote a PhD thesis on Catholic modernism.

Now, asked the most fundamental question about whether God exists, Rogalski, after a while and with some hesitation, replies: “It would be nice if he did.”

In July, it will be two years since this former fervent believer undertook an apostasy – an act of formal disaffiliation from religion, seen as a major sin by Catholic dogma – but is only now prepared to talk about it, following last year’s mass protests against the tightening, with the church’s backing, of the abortion law.

In his case, leaving the church and faith has been spread over years. Yet what ultimately weighed the scales in favour of apostasy were reports on the scale of clerical child abuse and the cover-ups of it, as well as the church’s tight alliance with the ruling right-wing Law and Justice (PiS) party.

Bishop of Raphoe issues apology after former priest jailed

Highland Radio

February 5, 2021

The Bishop of Raphoe Alan McGuckian has issued a statement on behalf of the Diocese of Raphoe, apologising to the family of a man who was abused by a former priest from the diocese.

The Bishop said that the Church must continue to ensure that such crimes never happen again and that victims feel their voices are heard and that they are supported.

Yesterday, at Letterkenny Circuit Court, a former priest of the Diocese of Raphoe, was sentenced to two years imprisonment for the sexual abuse of a minor in 1985.

He was a priest in the diocese from 1976 and was removed from ministry immediately on reception of the complaint in 1998. The Gardai and HSE/ Tulsa were informed then.

In a statement and on behalf of the Diocese of Raphoe, Bishop Alan McGuckian said that he was deeply saddened that an innocent child had to endure this devastating abuse.

Lawmakers consider fast-track plan for abuse lawsuit window

Associated Press

February 4, 2021

By Mark Scolforo and Marc Levy

A bid to amend the Pennsylvania Constitution to give victims of child sexual abuse a new legal window to sue over otherwise time-barred allegations got new life Thursday, days after the disclosure of a paperwork error threw it into disarray.

Rep. Mark Rozzi, D-Berks, told colleagues during a state House session that Republican leaders in both chambers were working with him and he hoped to get the proposed amendment on the spring primary ballot through a rarely used emergency process allowed in the constitution.

“We’ll be able to pass a standalone quickly and get this on the May ballot as originally intended,” Rozzi said.

Rozzi, a prime backer of the amendment who has told of his rape by a priest when he was 13, said the top-ranking senator in the GOP-majority Senate, President Pro Tempore Jake Corman, supports an emergency amendment process. Corman and other top Senate Republicans were noncommittal or silent Thursday.

Pa. House leaders plan emergency fix on abuse lawsuits after filing error

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

February 4, 2021

By Peter Smith

Pennsylvania House leaders support using an emergency declaration to overcome a paperwork blunder by the secretary of state’s office and get a proposed constitutional amendment to voters this May that would allow lawsuits over long-ago sexual abuse.

The measure was made public Thursday afternoon on the House floor by Rep. Mark Rozzi, D-Berks County. Leaders of both parties in the House voiced their support. Mr. Rozzi also said Senate President Pro Tempore Jake Corman, R-Centre, indicated to him he supports the idea and would discuss it with the majority Republican caucus there.

The measure has been long sought by victims of sexual abuse by Catholic priests and others in cases often going back decades. They have been barred by state law against filing suits against dioceses and other organizations over long-ago abuse by the statute of limitations.

Thursday’s legislative move comes three days after it was revealed that the secretary of state’s office failed last year to publish as required the Legislature’s endorsement of the constitutional amendment in 2020. That failure, which cost Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar her job, would have prevented the amendment from going on this year’s ballot.

Abuse survivors and advocates push emergency measure for May ballot


February 6, 2021

By Deb Erdley

A bipartisan team of Pennsylvania lawmakers will invoke a rare emergency provision of the Pennsylvania Constitution, seeking to restore a constitutional amendment ballot question long sought by victims of child sex abuse. An administrative error by the Department of State, discovered late last month, prevents the question from appearing on the May 18 ballot.

The proposed amendment gives child sexual abuse victims a retroactive two-year “window” in which to file civil lawsuits, no matter how long ago the alleged abuse occurred. The enabling legislation was approved in the General Assembly on three separate votes — two in the House and one in the Senate — and was headed for a final Senate vote this month to put it on the May ballot. But the Department of State failed to complete an essential task: legal advertising of the proposed amendment.

The failure led to the resignation of Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar, who officially left office Friday, and derailed the two-year process. Abuse survivors, bitterly disappointed, are scrambling for a way to move the bill over the finish line.

Former archpriest is permanently banned from duties over sex abuse

Times of Malta

February 7, 2021

By Matthew Xuereb

Case had been referred to Vatican by then bishop Mario Grech

The Vatican has banned the former archpriest of Xagħra, who was investigated for sexually abusing an altar boy more than two decades ago, from ever again exercising his functions as a priest, including administering any sacraments.

Sources close to the Vatican confirmed that Mgr Eucharist Sultana, 82, had his temporary restrictions on the exercising of his ministry turned permanent following a canonical penal process by the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, which is a sort of trial over breaches in Canon law.

The case had been referred to the Vatican by former Gozo bishop Mario Grech upon receipt of a report by the Church’s Safeguarding Commission in 2018, which had concluded that victim’s allegations of sexual abuse against Fr Sultana were deemed “credible”.

The matter had also been referred to the police for a criminal investigation into the allegations but these hit a brick wall when investigators found that the case had been time-barred.

Sources said Eucharist Sultana allegedly abused the boy for four years in return for gifts.

Former Xagħra archpriest investigated over abuse claims in 2018

Times of Malta

February 3, 2021

By Matthew Xuereb

Case could not be taken to court because it was time-barred

The former Archpriest of Xagħra, Gozo, Mgr Eucharist Sultana, was investigated by the police over allegations of having sexually abused a teenage altar boy but no criminal action had been taken as the case was time-barred, a police spokesman has told Times of Malta.

Sultana was investigated in 2018 at the same time that he was stopped from carrying out any priestly duties, including saying mass.

Earlier this week he was one of the witnesses summoned by the police in the case against two other priests who were arraigned last week and accused of abusing an altar boy.

He told the court that he had been at the seminary with the other priests but could not remember the victim or whether he had been an altar boy at the time that he was archpriest.

Catholic Church 'apologises for the suffering' caused by 'sexual sadist' priest


February 8, 2021

To the outside, 'Father Joe' was seen as a saviour, a man carrying out God’s work. Behind closed doors, he was a sinner possessing sewer urges

The Roman Catholic Church has apologised for the 'suffering' caused by a 'sadist priest' when he sexually and physically abused a teenage boy.

Depraved Father Joseph Quigley committed a catalogue of offences against his teenage victim.

These included:

- Rubbing the boy's inner thigh after making him wear gym kit;
- Making him take showers with the door open;
- Inflicting 'sado-masochistic' punishments on him such as locking him in the church's crypt, a cold and dark room containing tombs;
- Beating the boy with a hurling stick and;
- Making the boy do sit-ups and press-ups as punishments, to stand in the corner and suck paracetamols, which have a bitter taste.

Quigley, aged 56, of Aston Hall, Church Lane, Stone, was convicted of a number of offences in December following a trial.

He was then jailed for 11-and-a-half years on January 29.

The offences took place while he was the parish priest at the church from 2002 until he was forced to resign in disgrace.

February 7, 2021

Mississippi trial delayed for friar accused of sex abuse

Associated Press

February 7, 2021

A trial has been postponed until April for a former Franciscan friar accused of molesting students in the 1990s at a Catholic school in Mississippi.

Paul West had been scheduled for trial in February. His case was delayed so he could undergo a mental evaluation, The Greenwood Commonwealth reported, citing dockets on the local district attorney’s website.

A Leflore County grand jury indicted West in August on two counts of sexual battery and two counts of gratification of lust. If convicted, he faces life in prison.

This is the second time the case has been postponed since West pleaded innocent in September.

West’s attorney, Wallie Stuckey, said in November that he had not received all the information he’s legally due from the Mississippi attorney general’s office about witnesses and evidence.

Did 'the Roman Catholic Church' unjustly collect federal aid? AP story misrepresents Church finances, expert says

Catholic News Agency

February 5, 2021

By Jonah McKeown


A Feb. 4 investigative story from the Associated Press inaccurately portrays “the Roman Catholic Church” as a "giant corporate monolith” that raked in federal aid while sitting on billions of dollars that they could have used to pay employees, a canon and civil law expert told CNA.

In reality, “the Roman Catholic Church” in the US is made up of tens of thousands of separate nonprofits, most of which did not have legal access to liquid cash necessary to pay their employees when the pandemic took hold last year.

The CARES Act, passed in March 2020, initially authorized some $350 billion in loans to small businesses, known as the Paycheck Protection Program, which was intended to allow them to continue to pay their employees.

Ayala: Archdiocese of San Antonio plans to update its clergy abuse list

San Antonio Express-News via lmtonline.com

February 6, 2021

By Elaine Ayala

Two years ago, when Archbishop Gustavo García-Siller released a landmark list of priests credibly accused of sexually assaulting and abusing children, he said that apologizing once wouldn’t suffice.

Two years after that defining moment, his words torment survivors of crimes that amounted to rape.

None of the cases might have resulted in imprisonment, but they embroiled the Catholic Church in a global cover-up and scandal.
Survivors involved in SNAP San Antonio, a chapter of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, say the archdiocese hasn’t been forthcoming since.

Instead, they say the archdiocese has been managing the fallout and liability.

This week, the Archdiocese of San Antonio said in a statement that it plans to update its 2019 list.

EDITORIAL: Legislation needed to help victims of child sexual abuse


February 6, 2021

To err is human, so the saying goes.

We’ve been told by thinkers and self-help gurus through the years that mistakes can be a source of learning, inspiration and growth, that we shouldn’t fear them, and we should courageously move on from them.

Advice along these lines has undoubtedly been ricocheting through the mind of now-departed Pennsylvania Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar in recent days. Boockvar fell on her sword and resigned last week after a mistake the State Department made that had the distinction of being both trivial and exceptional.

The Catholic Church has a dangerous influence on Poland

The Boar (publication of the University of Warwick, England)

February 7, 2021

By Nikki Siriprasert

The Polish Catholic Church and some of those who follow their teaching have a rather “interesting” take on sexuality. According to them, contraception is a serious sin, sexual education promotes paedophillia, gay rights movement is a “rainbow plague”, abortion should be banned even when the foetus is severely deformed, and of course, abstinence is the virtuous way to avoid unwanted pregnancies.

Yet, along with preaching these “moral” codes, many priests and bishops sexually abuse young girls and boys, and those in charge choose to turn a blind eye on the issue. Many Polish people, especially the younger generation, sees through the church’s hypocrisy and views the teachings as impractical, harmful and hateful. The recent near-total abortion ban might well be the last straw for many Poles. Refusal to adapt to the younger generation might cost the church its authority and power in the long run.

Backed by the church, the Law and Justice party (PiS) has been pushing for a near-total ban on abortion since 2016. They want to criminalise the abortion of deformed foetuses, leaving legal only the cases of rape and incest and the cases where the women’s life and health is severely at risk. Jarosław Kaczyńsky, currently the leader of the PiS, made a vow to pursue this cause, saying that “We will strive to ensure that even cases of very difficult pregnancies, when the child is certain to die, very deformed, still end up in a birth, so that the child can be baptized, buried, have a name.”

Truth forum to hear tales of mother and baby homes

Sunday Times

February 7, 2021

By Justine McCarthy

Varadkar backs ‘less clinical’ look at abuse in church and state institutions

Leo Varadkar, the tanaiste, wants to establish a public truth forum to hear the stories of women and children who survived abusive church and state institutions, and of those who ran them.

“I very much respect the painstaking work done by the commission on mother and baby homes and previous bodies like the Ryan Commission,” said the Fine Gael leader.

“They spent years listening to testimony and examining documentary evidence to try to establish the truth of what happened, to a legal or academic standard. That’s important for the state, for society and for historical accuracy — but for many survivors it can be cold and clinical, including the fact it’s been done behind closed doors.”

A forum on truth, gender and transformation was proposed by Katherine Zappone when she was minister for children and youth affairs in the previous government. Varadkar, taoiseach at the time, supported the idea and a memo was being prepared for cabinet when last year’s general election was called.

Zappone envisaged the forum as a state-funded but independent body, whose report would start a process of national reconciliation.

Roman Catholic church in Birmingham 'sorry' as 'sadist' priest Joseph Quigley jailed

Birmingham Mail

February 7, 2021

By Mike Lockley

Case against 56-year-old 'Father Joe' involved one victim, a teenager at the time, but another key witness had also been abused

The Catholic church in Birmingham has dubbed the crimes of perverted priest Father Joseph Quigley – the sexual sadist who forced his young victim to suck bitter Paracetamol as punishment – deplorable.

And the Archdiocese issued an apology for the suffering caused by twisted Quigley while at St Charles Borromeo RC Church, near Warwick.

The depravity inflicted by 56-year-old Quigley – sentenced to 11 years last Friday – near beggars belief.

Catholic Church 'apologises for the suffering' caused by 'sexual sadist' priest

Coventry live

February 7, 2021

By Mike Lockley and Madeleine Clark

Father Joseph Quigley was jailed for 11 and a half years

The Roman Catholic Church in Birmingham has apologised for the "suffering" caused by Father Joseph Quigley when he sexually and physically abused a teenage boy at a church in Warwickshire for six years.

Described as a "sexual sadist", Quigley rubbed his teenage victim’s inner thigh after making him wear gym kit, made him take showers with the door open and inflicted ‘sado-masochistic’ punishments on him such as locking him in the church's crypt.

He also beat the boy with a hurling stick during his time at St Charles Borromeo RC church in Hampton-on-the-Hill near Warwick, reports BirminghamLive.

Quigley has now been jailed for 11 and a half years after being handed his sentence on January 29.

'What are other organisations doing about child abuse?'

Times of Malta

February 6, 2021

Head of Church's safeguarding commission says its example should be copied

The Church’s progress in developing ways of exposing child abuse cases is not being repeated by other organisations which are involved with children, the head of its Safeguarding Commission has said.

Andrew Azzopardi said that such organisations – from football clubs to schools – needed safeguarding structures of their own, to ensure victims of abuse had a way of reporting it.

“How can the police know what is going on in a football ground, school or church? Building a safe culture must come internally,” Azzopardi said.

The Safeguarding Commission was established in 2015 to investigate cases of alleged abuse, facilitate reporting of such cases and train people to better identify and respond to abuse cases.

Former Staten Island priest ‘groomed’ and sexually abused boy, another lawsuit alleges

Staten Island Advance

February 6, 2021

By Frank Donnelly

"Grooming' and sex-abuse allegations leveled at former Staten Island priest in another lawsuit

Former priest Ralph LaBelle plied a young parishioner with beer and Rangers’ hockey tickets to gain the boy’s trust and sexually abuse him, a lawsuit alleges.

Recently filed in state Supreme Court, St. George, the suit is the latest involving allegations of molestation against LaBelle while he was assigned to St. Clare’s R.C. Church in Great Kills.

A civil complaint names the Archdiocese of New York and St. Clare’s as defendants.

LaBelle first abused the plaintiff around 1987 when he was 11 years old, alleges the complaint.

He continued to molest the youngster about “a dozen times” over the course of two years, the complaint alleges.

“LaBelle was a sexual predator and was engaged in a sexually inappropriate relationship with plaintiff,” the complaint contends. “LaBelle was a trusted authority figure within the church and community … (and) took advantage of the status and credibility afforded him by St. Clare’s and the Archdiocese of New York and exploited his position to gain plaintiff’s trust and abuse him.”

The defendants “took no steps to prevent or stop the abuse of plaintiff,” the complaint alleges.

In April 2019, the Archdiocese unveiled a list of clergy credibly accused of abuse. LaBelle was among those named.

He was laicized in 2005, after several victims had come forward.

The plaintiff, listed in the filing under the pseudonym “John Doe 5,” suffered “emotional and psychological trauma and humiliation,” said the complaint.

As a result, he has “struggled with drug addiction from an early age” and has been arrested “numerous times” for theft and assault, the complaint maintains.

At present, the plaintiff is incarcerated in Arizona, said the complaint.

He seeks unspecified compensatory and punitive damages.

“This is yet another lawsuit involving abuse by Father LaBelle,” said Bradley L. Rice, the plaintiff’s lawyer.

Joseph Zwilling, an Archdiocese spokesman, did not comment on the specific allegations in the lawsuit, per church policy on active cases filed under the Child Victims Act.

But he did say the Archdiocese “takes all allegations of sexual abuse seriously and responds with compassion and respect.”

“We have made great strides both in responding to victim-survivors, but also putting into place measures in our parishes, schools, and other agencies, including background checks and safe environment training, to ensure that such acts never happen again,” said Zwilling.


Enacted in August 2019, the Child Victims Act created a one-year window for plaintiffs of any age to sue alleged abusers regardless of when the abuse occurred.

That window has since been extended to August 2021.

The law also allows victims of sexual abuse to sue their alleged abuser any time before they turn 55.

The range of complaints sent shockwaves across Staten Island, with lawsuits being filed against Roman Catholic schools and churches, the Boy Scouts, a youth athletic institution and even one man’s parents.

The complaint alleges LaBelle first approached the plaintiff in a playground at PS 8, near St. Clare’s. His recognized the priest because his family was parishioners.

LaBelle then began “grooming” the boy, spending time with him, alleges the complaint.

Among other things, the priest allegedly offered the plaintiff and other kids Communion out of the back of his white Mazda van.

He even took them to his vacation home in the Poconos, the complaint alleges.

LaBelle sought to curry favor with the plaintiff by buying him beer and giving him gifts, including Rangers’ tickets, alleges the complaint.

One time, he allegedly took the boy to a Rangers’ game.

On the car ride home, the priest pulled over in Great Kills and began kissing the boy’s cheek. He also grabbed the youngster’s genitals, the complaint alleges.

Because LaBelle was priest and friend, the boy mistakenly believed their relationship was “normal,” said the complaint.

The priest went on to abuse the plaintiff about 12 times over two years, the complaint alleges.


The plaintiff is at least the fourth individual to sue the Archdiocese alleging LaBelle molested them while assigned to St. Clare’s.

K.M., a Manhattan resident and former St. Clare’s parishioner, alleges the priest sexually abused him around 1979 “including during his first reconciliation and church services.”

He was about 6 years old then.

In a separate suit, Donald O’Brien alleges LaBelle “groomed” and sexually abused him in the mid-1980s when he was between the ages of 13 and 16.

LaBelle was also assigned to St. Clare’s then.

In 2019, former Staten Island resident Christopher Hansen filed a suit claiming he was “groomed” and then abused by LaBelle between the ages of 14 and 16. Hansen’s family also attended Mass at St. Clare’s.

Those suits are all pending.

[Media Statement] Catholic Officials in St. Augustine Withheld Information from Florida AG

SNAP (Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests)

February 5, 2021

When Florida’s Office of Statewide Prosecution released their report into clergy sexual abuse, we noted that investigations into the institutional Catholic Church routinely found that officials “actively worked to prevent parents and parishioners from learning about abusers.” A news article out of Jacksonville shockingly shows that abusers were being hidden even while the attorney general was actively investigating cases of cover-up.

According to the media report, Catholic officials in the Diocese of St. Augustine did not disclose allegations against several priests, including Fr. John Dux and Fr. D. Terrence Morgan. The latter was under investigation for “lewd and lascivious acts” at the time the state investigation was ongoing. We find it very concerning that Church leaders were not fully transparent with investigators in Florida, although we are not surprised. In our experience, Catholic officials have lied for decades about the extent of clergy abuse and cover-ups to parents and parishioners, why should state investigators be treated any differently?

[Opinion] Ayala: Survivor questions San Antonio archdiocese for failing to 'walk with' victims after list of clergy abusers released in 2019

San Antonio Express News

February 4, 2021

By Elaine Ayala


If you ask Zac Zepeda how he’s doing, he says, “OK.” He just got his COVID-19 vaccine, he adds.

At 72 and retired from USAA after 30 years, Zepeda can look back at a life well-lived. He attended San Antonio College, served in the military during the Vietnam War and graduated from the University of Texas at San Antonio.

He has been married for 44 years, “to the same woman,” he jokes, and they have two adult children.

Zepeda is a survivor of sexual assault and abuse. He was 12, in seventh grade at a Catholic school, when it happened. His predator was a young, popular Catholic priest named Michael J. O’Sullivan.

The first incident was in 1961 in the sacristy of Blessed Sacrament Church on Oblate Drive, he said. A sacristy is the room behind or near the altar where priests prepare for service and don their vestments for Mass.

The abuse ended in 1962.

“He was such a charming person,” Zepeda said, recalling that many children chose confirmation names in his honor, Michael or variants of it.

So, when Zepeda says he’s OK, it’s only in the context of all this — only in the way in which victims like him can say they’re OK, only in the way that such survivors manage to live, work and heal.

Two years ago, a tearful, sometimes angry Archbishop Gustavo García-Siller went before cameras and released a landmark list naming 54 credibly accused priests in cases dating back to 1941.

It was part of a national reckoning that came after decades of mostly newspaper reports of crimes and cover-ups that forced the Vatican to repent.

Since its list was released, along with a concurrent report by a commission that looked at the evidence and delivered damning conclusions, the Archdiocese of San Antonio has been mostly mum on the topic.

It has been hard to tell what it has done or continues to do to address these cases and others that likely surfaced after 2019, when some victims might have summoned the courage to report their priest abusers.

Dioceses statewide revealed nearly 300 perpetrators. San Antonio’s list was the longest.

It included 10 credible allegations against O’Sullivan, starting in 1962, when he was at Blessed Sacrament. He “re-offended,” was dismissed and ended up in a diocese in Georgia. He re-offended and returned to Ireland, where new allegations surfaced.

By 2006, 45 years after sexually assaulting and abusing Zepeda, actions were taken to remove O’Sullivan from the priesthood. He reportedly died in 2013.

Zepeda didn’t know his abuser was in Ireland when he vacationed there that same year.

Today, he’s the co-leader of SNAP San Antonio, a local chapter of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests.

The archdiocese has responded to Zepeda in one way, legally. He says he’s closing in on a settlement with the archdiocese that will pay for his continued counseling, which he says has done wonders for him.

No punitive damages are being sought, he said.

Surprisingly, Zepeda never left the church and serves as a deacon at Our Lady of Guadalupe Church in Helotes.

He’d rather not speak of the details of his abuse, only that O’Sullivan told him what happened was “something special between us.”

Zepeda told no one for decades.

He says he’s “disgusted” with the archdiocese’s record since 2019. “The list seems to have become static. I don’t see a whole lot of movement from the archdiocese.”

SNAP San Antonio feels the same.

Like other survivors, Zepeda had hoped the archdiocese, especially the archbishop, would have reached out and “walked with” survivors.

He tried to get in to see the archbishop, he said. But every effort has been short-stopped. It “angers me,” he said. “It’s why I got active in SNAP.”

Zepeda says individual priests have shown compassion and have addressed centuries of misdoings. “But I haven’t seen it from the top,” he said.

García-Siller did apologize to victims in 2019. He was contrite and moving.

But that’s the thing about apologies. Sometimes, one isn’t enough to mend a wound and get it to heal. Sometimes, one apology can’t cover a crime so massive, a deceit so evil.

Zepeda, and other survivors I’ve recently interviewed for this and another upcoming column, say it’s time for church leaders to re-atone and update its lists publicly.

The word “repent” offers some advice in its prefix. “Re” means “again” or “back.”

It’s also a good time. Feb. 17 is Ash Wednesday, the start of weeks of penitence before the celebration of Easter.

TMIS Editorial: Sex abuse and omertà

Malta Independent

February 7, 2021

Malta has once again been shaken to the core by allegations of sexual abuse carried out by clergymen, and a feeling of great anger has swept over our society.

But will the rage we are collectively feeling lead us to become a more alert and compassionate society?

Will it make us finally ditch the sense of omertà that still prevails in certain communities, and which keeps well-known ‘secrets’ from being reported to the authorities?

The False Memory Syndrome at 30: How Flawed Science Turned into Conventional Wisdom

Mad in America (blog)

February 7, 2021

By Joshua Kendall

In early December of 1990, the young academic was feeling confused. Though she had recently been granted tenure and was a happily married mother of two, with another child on the way, she was weighed down by a surprising surge in anxiety. To get some relief from her distress, she decided to enter psychotherapy.

When she mentioned in an early session how much she was dreading the prospect of seeing her parents during the upcoming Christmas vacation, her therapist asked if she had ever been abused. “I said, ‘No,’ but later that day, I began experiencing disturbing flashbacks. Over the next few weeks, I remembered that my father had molested me when I was a young child,” said Jennifer Freyd, a professor of psychology at the University of Oregon, in a phone interview. “When my parents arrived for their visit, I couldn’t handle being with them, and my husband blurted out the reason. They ended up leaving earlier than planned.”

Over the next couple of years, Jennifer and her parents—Peter Freyd, a professor of mathematics at the University of Pennsylvania, and Pamela Freyd, then a research associate at the university’s Institute of Research in Cognitive Science—corresponded about this conflict. But as it became apparent that there was no way to resolve the family’s differences, these communications stopped. Jennifer has not been in touch with either parent since then.

While Peter Freyd has denied that any sexual abuse ever occurred, he has confessed to some inappropriate behavior around his daughter during her childhood. “I’m quite prepared to say,” he told The Baltimore Sun in 1994, “the attitude I thought was appropriate of being open about things of a sexual nature – in retrospect may have been wrong.” He has also publicly acknowledged that he himself was sexually abused by a much older man when he was a teenager and that he has struggled with alcoholism—a condition for which he received in-patient treatment at a substance abuse rehab facility in the early 1980s.

DCI won’t share results of priest abuse investigation due to statute of limitations

Rapid City Journal

February 6, 2021

By Arielle Zionts


The Division of Criminal Investigation won’t share the scope or results of its investigation into a Rapid City priest accused of child sexual abuse because any crime that might have happened can no longer be charged in court.

“While the investigation is not closed it is at a point where due to the statute of limitations there is nothing chargeable,” said Tim Bormann, spokesman for the Attorney General’s Office. “Should any new information or allegations be forthcoming that evidence would then be examined.”

Bormann declined to share the nature of the allegations and the results and scope of the investigation into Father Michel Mulloy, a priest who was set to become Bishop of Duluth.

“The statute of limitations places this matter into a category where it cannot be brought into a court of law, similarly it would not be proper to release any details that would conversely be considered in the court of public opinion,” he said.

February 6, 2021

[Media Statement] Catholic Officials Apparently Raided PPP Loans Unnecessarily at the Expense of Small Businesses

SNAP (Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests)

February 4, 2021

It appears that Catholic officials in the US plundered the American taxpayer by accepting payroll protection program funds in dioceses that had billions in assets and cash.

According to the AP, “112 Roman Catholic dioceses in the U.S. collectively had over $10 billion in cash and other funds when they received at least $1.5 billion from the Paycheck Protection Program.” It is disturbing that an entity with so much already in the bank was able to so much of the money intended to keep small businesses afloat. It is even more concerning considering that these dioceses have billions more in property and real estate that was not included in the AP calculations.

There are 178 Catholic dioceses and nearly 200 Catholic religious orders in the United States. That the AP only analyzed 112 of them and did not have access to the financials of some of the richest, such as the Archdiocese of New York, shows that that the AP's stunning assessment is only a partial look and that the reality is probably even more egregious.

Claimed $2 Million in Federal Small Business Relief Funds

West Virginia Public Broadcasting

February 5, 2021

By Duncan Slade

The Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston received an almost $2 million loan from federal COVID-19 relief, according to an audit released Friday.

As the church faced a considerable revenue decline due to the pandemic and corresponding economic recession, it applied for a federal Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan in April and secured $1,996,372 through the program.

“There was no reason for our church employees, who pay taxes, to lose their jobs and possibly their homes when the government was making funds available precisely to keep people at work,” wrote Bishop Mark Brennan in a letter released with the audit Friday.

The funds were used to pay employee salaries and healthcare, according to accompanying documents. PPP loans are eligible for forgiveness if used for payroll and other select expenses, and the diocese plans to apply for forgiveness from the federal government.

St. Augustine Diocese did not disclose priest was under investigation, AG’s office says


February 5, 2021

By Kelly Wiley

Top leaders with the Diocese of St. Augustine did not disclose to state prosecutors investigating sex abuse within Florida churches that one of its priests was the subject of two local criminal investigations until after the state concluded its investigation.

Now, the Florida Attorney General’s Office is looking further into Fr. David Terrance Morgan, a retired priest.

Morgan, 72, is a former religion teacher at Bishop Kenny High School and was last assigned to Cathedral Basilica of St. Augustine before retiring in 2019.

The Florida Attorney General’s Office announced it was beginning an investigation into sex crimes inside Florida’s Catholic churches in October 2018.

Trainee Catholic priest accused of downloading indecent images of children wearing nappies was arrested following a tip-off from the US security services before judge dismissed his case due to lack of evidence

Daily Mail

February 5, 2021

By Matt Drake

-- Henry Balkwill, 33, was arrested at Saint John's Seminary in Guildford, Surrey
-- It followed a tip-off from the US Department of Homeland Security, a court heard
-- But the case was dropped due to lack of evidence and he was free to go

A trainee priest accused of downloading indecent images of children wearing nappies had the case thrown out by a judge due to lack of evidence.

Henry Balkwill, 33, was arrested in his room at Saint John's Seminary in Guildford, Surrey, following a tip-off from the US Department of Homeland Security, a court was told.

He denied a charge of printing off 12 indecent images before scrapping them later.

Christian pastor Bob Cotton's call to increase penalties for covering up child sex abuse

Newcastle Herald

February 6, 2021

By Sage Swinton

When Maitland Pastor Bob Cotton's hard-fought push to increase penalties for concealing child sex abuse became a reality, he thought things would change.

He thought the NSW government agreeing to increase the maximum jail term from two to five years in November 2018 would mean more people who covered up child abuse in church hierarchies would be sent to prison.

But more than two years later, there's little to show for it.

Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research data shows that since the sentencing reform was introduced, there have been six charges for concealing child abuse in NSW, three of which resulted in guilty verdicts.

None of the convictions resulted in prison terms.

Vatican investigates German women’s group

The Tablet

February 4, 2021

By Christa Pongratz-Lippitt

The Vatican Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) has begun an investigation of Maria 2.0, a group of German Catholic women.

At the same time, the CDF has decided to drop its centuries-old title of "Inquisition".

According to the German daily Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ),the reason for the investigation is connected with Maria 2.0’s protests against the Archbishop of Cologne’s refusal to publish an abuse report.

Cardinal Rainer Maria Woelki initially promised to publish the report he commissioned on the handling of abuse cases in the archdiocese of Cologne by an independent Munich law firm, but in the end refused to publish it.

February 5, 2021

Cardinal Blase Cupich demanding details on abusive order priests but won’t post findings

Chicago Sun-Times

February 5, 2021

By Robert Herguth

The Archdiocese of Chicago has been getting explicit details from religious orders on problem priests in the area for over two years. But it’s keeping that information secret. Some orders won’t release it, either.

Two and a half years after the latest sex abuse scandal rocked the Catholic church and prompted new pledges of transparency, the church in the Chicago region has yet to make a full accounting to the public of its problem priests.

Cardinal Blase Cupich has demanded for more than two years now that Catholic religious orders that operate in his territory fully disclose to him any information on their clergy members who now face or previously have faced accusations of child sexual abuse.

But Cupich — who heads the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Chicago, which covers Cook County and Lake County, and who reports to Pope Francis — has kept those findings secret. The archdiocese won’t say how many clerics from orders in the Chicago area have faced such accusations or make public any information about them, such as where those clergy members are today.

That’s despite Cupich’s stepped-up behind-the-scenes demands on the semi-autonomous religious orders to produce detailed reports on predator priests and other problem clergy in their ranks — information that some orders have made public but that others have declined to.

A child sex abuser evaded justice in Kenya. Then an ‘ordinary woman’ took matters into her own hands.

The Washington Post

February 4, 2021

By Max Bearak and Rael Ombuor

NAIROBI — Some coincidences are impossible to ignore.

Margaret Ruto, a Pennsylvania nurse in her mid-30s, thought she was returning to the rolling green hills of Kenya’s tea-growing region to care for her ailing mother-in-law.

Instead, a fluke of fate awaited her: A man who lived just 10 minutes from her home in the United States had opened an orphanage not 10 minutes from her ancestral village in Kenya — and children were saying they had been sexually abused there.

It was the summer of 2018, and she found the village in uproar. Two girls, 12 and 14, had recently escaped and shared horror stories of sexual abuse at the hands of the orphanage’s director, Gregory Dow.

Ruto was led to a rumpled patch of earth behind the orphanage. Former employees said a 9-month-old boy buried there had died a few years earlier after choking on something while he’d been left unsupervised.

Standing over the grave, she felt dizzy. It was a moment that would divide her life into a before and an after: a transformation from an “ordinary woman” into a detective.

Dow, whom she would spend the next year chasing, had already fled back to Pennsylvania after members of the community confronted him and alerted authorities. Kenyan police say they missed catching him at the airport by just a few hours.

Locals told Ruto they feared that this entitled, White foreigner claiming to be a devout Christian was going to evade justice.

“I was meant to know about this,” she remembered thinking. “And I was meant to do something about it.”

Turmoil lay ahead that Ruto, a dual U.S.-Kenyan citizen, could scarcely have imagined: sleuthing on two continents, constantly looking over her shoulder, working through the trauma of child sex abuse survivors, and sobbing uncontrollably in her car, all while compiling a shocking investigation that would eventually make it into the hands of FBI agents, splash across the front pages of every Kenyan newspaper and dramatically alter Kenya’s child services policies.

The only hint of her involvement until now has been an official acknowledgment that the FBI was “acting on a tip.”

After agreeing to a plea deal, Gregory Dow, now 61, was sentenced Thursday in a U.S. federal court to 188 months in prison on four counts of “engaging in illicit sexual conduct in foreign places.” Dow will be nearly 80 years old if he makes it to the end of his sentence.

Dow’s plea deal acknowledges guilt on all charges brought against him. His attorneys did not make Dow available to respond to the allegations of deaths at the orphanage, saying only that he had never publicly addressed those claims. A special clause in the U.S. penal code allows for prosecution of child abuse cases committed by Americans overseas.

During the sentencing hearing Thursday, Dow apologized “for the pain that I’ve caused.” Judge Edward G. Smith called him “a missionary from hell.”

Ruto is coming forward with her story because she — and the FBI and the U.S. attorney’s office that prosecuted Dow — hope it will inspire similar sleuthing instincts in others.

“Ultimately, Ms. Ruto’s information found its way to a team of dedicated FBI agents, who … gathered the evidence required to charge Dow and hold him accountable for the monstrous abuse he perpetrated on his victims,” William M. McSwain, the U.S. attorney at the time in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, said in a statement to The Washington Post. “This case is a textbook example of the ways in which the public can assist law enforcement in bringing sexual predators like Dow, and other criminals, to justice.”

Separately, Kenyan police exhumed and autopsied the body of the 9-month-old, James Kipkirui, as part of an ongoing investigation into the circumstances of his death, according to Johansen Oduor, the government’s chief forensic pathologist.

Three summers ago, Ruto made a silent, solemn promise that nothing would stop her — not corrupt authorities in Kenya and not sticky-slow bureaucracy in the United States — from pursuing justice for the children at the orphanage.

“I’m just an ordinary woman, a nurse, a mother,” she recalled recently. “I had no idea what I was getting into.”

The main building of the former Dow Family Children's Home, where Gregory Dow carried out acts of sexual abuse. He pleaded guilty to four charges of illicit sexual conduct and was sentenced Thursday.

‘Will someone believe me?’

Kenya has a vast array of missionary-run institutions, including nursing homes, schools and orphanages. Often, impoverished families avoid extra financial burden by sending their children and elderly to live at these charitable institutions.

When the Dow Family Children’s Home opened in 2008, foreigners were not required to submit to background checks. It is possible that no one in Kenya was aware Dow had been a registered sex offender in the United States until 2006.

Dow’s case was the latest abuse scandal linked to White missionaries in Kenya. In 2016, for instance, a 21-year-old Oklahoma man named Matthew Durham was sentenced in a U.S. federal court to 40 years in prison for molesting eight children at a Nairobi orphanage. Years earlier, a prominent Italian Catholic priest was accused of molesting boys in his care, and while Kenyan authorities dropped charges for a lack of evidence, suspicion still lingers.

At least 83 children ages 9 months to 18 years lived in Dow’s home before it was closed in 2017, after two girls escaped and their parents filed cases with the police.

Those tip-offs and others led to the arrest of Dow’s wife, Mary Rose, who ran the orphanage with him, on child abuse charges. Dow, however, “managed to escape” to the United States, where he insisted on his and his wife’s innocence, according to Simon Chelugui, Kenya’s minister of labor and social services. Kenyan authorities said that they informed Interpol, the international policing body, of the allegations against Dow, but that he remained free in Pennsylvania, where he continued to deny any wrongdoing.

A repossession notice hangs in a window at the former Dow Family Children's Home.
In an email to his funders and supporters in September 2017, Dow explained his wife’s arrest and his decision to flee Kenya as resulting from “an orchestrated effort by a number of disgruntled youth, dysfunctional family members, a former employee and some family members” who had “fanned a fire of rebellion and hatred over the locals and authorities.”

On her trip back to Kenya, Ruto took stock of the community’s anger. She gained the trust of the abused girls and their parents and took down their gut-wrenching version of events in notepads and videos on her phone.

Twelve- and 14-year-old girls told her about being taken by Mary Rose to a clinic to have “matchsticks” put in their upper arms. Recognizing them as the birth-control implant Norplant, Ruto began to understand the extent of the crimes that the husband and wife who ran the home might have committed.

Kenyan and U.S. investigators would later confirm Ruto’s hunch, with McSwain describing the procedure as a way for Dow to “perpetrate his crimes without fear of impregnating his victims” in a Department of Justice news release on the case.

“The girls would tell me how Dow would take the older ones, a different one each time, and force them to have sex with him,” she said on a trip back to Kenya last year. The girls spoke of being forced to drink alcohol or eat soap if they disobeyed any advances Dow made. Court documents in the U.S. trial against Dow as well as the Kenyan trial for Mary Rose include testimony from girls relaying the same experiences.

Mary Rose was found guilty in January 2018 on four counts of child abuse, but was released after paying a fine of about $500 in lieu of two years’ imprisonment. During the trial, in which she pleaded not guilty, she told a Kenyan court that she took girls to get birth-control implants because they were “promiscuous.” (Mary Rose has since left Kenya. She did not respond to a request for comment, and U.S. law enforcement authorities would not say why she wasn’t charged alongside her husband.)

That same year, from her home just down the road from Dow’s in Pennsylvania, Ruto sought what information she could about him, using his public Facebook page to contact people in his network. She even knocked on Dow’s door, but he didn’t open it. She enlisted a Facebook group called KWITU — Kenyan Women in the United States — to help raise public outcry in Pennsylvania.

When Ruto approached the police in Lancaster, they referred her to the district attorney’s office, which passed her to the State Department and ultimately the U.S. Embassy in Kenya.

“I hit a wall there. Nobody would commit to following it up,” she said. “For the longest time, I wondered, will someone hear me, will someone believe me? Dow had been saying Kenyans are volatile people, jealous people — that people made this all up to try and take his land. I was afraid people were going to believe that.”

After several months of trying, Ruto changed course and took her investigation to the LNP, a newspaper in Lancaster. She believes that is what it took to get U.S. authorities more seriously involved. Just days after the LNP piece published, she got a call from the FBI requesting a meeting. Dow was arrested months later after the FBI concluded its own investigation.

Coping with the trauma

To cooperate with that investigation, Ruto kept her involvement mostly to herself at the request of law enforcement officials.

But locals who live in the area around the orphanage say they knew of her involvement and admired her decision to help instead of just returning home to the United States. In Kenya, it often takes money or status to spur the police to file cases or otherwise pursue justice. She had influence in a way few in the village did.

“If it were not for Maggie’s extreme efforts, everybody and everything would have been in darkness,” said Davis Bett, who used to work as a gardener at the orphanage.

Bett and other employees had confronted Dow about his abusive behavior and also tried to alert local social services officials, but say they were rebuffed.

“At one point, I reached out to the children’s department and one of the officials told me that the home was ‘a small America in the village’ and that I should leave Gregory alone,” Bett said.

Ruto, Bett and others say that, based on their conversations with girls from the home, Dow sexually abused more than the four in whose cases he was convicted. They also say Kenyan authorities have been slow to investigate the deaths of children at the home like 9-month-old James.

Local officials say that James’s body was exhumed and that an autopsy was performed in June 2019. But no cause of death was determined and the body was not returned to his family members, who say they are still waiting for communication from the government.

“I allowed my daughter to take her children to the White man because of poverty,” said Lucia Langat, 50, James’s grandmother. “I do not think any person in this village can ever give their children out to a White man again.”

After the orphanage closed, the children were sent to other homes or back to parents who had left them there as infants and toddlers.

Since then, Kenya has imposed a moratorium on foreigners opening orphanages, and requires more-stringent background checks to be done during the processing of missionary visas. Locals supported those moves and were pleased that Dow will potentially spend the rest of his life in prison, but they expressed bitterness at being left alone to cope with the trauma.

Dow “deserved a life sentence. These children called him ‘Dad.’ That was a deep betrayal,” said Mary Rotich, Langat’s neighbor. “What can ease the suffering of these families is compensation to make their lives better.”

Ruto, too, is haunted by the cases the FBI was ultimately unable to corroborate. It is part of what spurred her to enroll this year in an online criminal justice course, which she attends in between grueling shifts taking care of coronavirus patients at a Lancaster nursing home.

“It was not just four girls,” Ruto said. “The rest of the victims and their families deserve so much better. You can’t say that justice has been fully done yet.”

Priest working at Catholic retirement home in Mandeville convicted of battery on recently-widowed resident


February 4, 2021

By David Hammer, WPO-TV, and Ramon Antonio Vargas, The New Orleans Advocate


Weeks after commending her dying husband’s soul to God, the chaplain at a Catholic retirement home in Mandeville forcefully reached under an elderly woman’s blouse multiple times in an unsuccessful attempt to seduce her, according to authorities.

The Rev. Michael Mulenga was convicted of a simple misdemeanor battery charge Wednesday and was immediately sent to prison for five months, officials said.

Mulenga -- who reports to a diocese in the East African nation of Zambia, but was in the area as a visiting priest -- met Lynn Michler in 2019 while working as the chaplain of Rouquette Lodge, an independent living facility run by an Archdiocese of New Orleans nonprofit that provides affordable housing to low-income seniors.

Michler’s husband of more than 50 years, George “Butch” Michler, was dying at the time. Mulenga administered the Catholic sacrament known as the Anointing of the Sick -- or the “last rites” -- to the 74-year-old Butch Michler before his death on Nov. 4, 2019, according to records filed in 22nd Judicial District Court in St. Tammany Parish.

Former Jacksonville bishops failed to report sexual abuse allegations, records show


February 4, 2021

By Kelly Wiley

Archives show church didn’t tell state about allegations against retired priest during its investigation

Since the early 1990s, at least four women have repeatedly come to the Diocese of St. Augustine with complaints of how now-deceased priest William Malone molested and fondled them, impregnating at least one of them, in the 1980s.

His victims were young girls, the youngest just 11 years old.

The Diocese of St. Augustine told its parishioners in 2019 — for the first time — it knew of credible allegations against Fr. Malone. Church leaders didn’t specify how many victims came forward or what they knew.

The archive records, provided by the Diocese of St. Augustine to the Florida Attorney General’s Office of Statewide Prosecution, reveal the diocese — specifically late Bishop John Snyder — knew about Fr. Malone’s problems at least starting in 1991.

Zirkin Returns to Old Committee to Testify Against Wilson’s Child Sex Abuse Bill

Maryland Matters

February 5, 2021

By Hannah Gaskill

Former Senate Judicial Proceedings chairman Robert A. Zirkin (D-Baltimore County) returned to his former committee this week to testify against a high-profile bill that’s a follow-up to a measure he once championed.

The woman who replaced Zirkin in the Senate last year, Sen. Shelly L. Hettleman (D-Baltimore County), has joined Del. CT Wilson (D-Charles) in his fight to eliminate the statute of limitations for child sex abuse survivors to launch civil suits. The bill was up in the Judicial Proceedings Committee, where Hettleman serves, on Tuesday.

But in lieu of a packed room full of survivors comforting each other and crying as they waited to testify, almost 200 pages of testimony were submitted to the panel, detailing heartbreaking stories of childhood shame, abuse, molestation and rape.

[Opinion] Five myths about Catholics

Washington Post

February 4, 2021

By Candida Moss

Actually, the pope isn’t always infallible — and Francis isn’t a liberal.

For the second time in its history, the United States has a Catholic president. The 2020 election season was distinctive for the ways Joe Biden’s Catholic credentials were challenged by his opponents even as they were highlighted by his own campaign. Though there have always been misconceptions about the beliefs of Roman Catholics — the second-largest religious group in the country — the last year has underscored the considerable confusion about what the Catholic Church teaches and what it means to be Catholic.

Myth No. 1: Celibacy and homosexuality caused the pedophilia scandal.

For the last two decades, the biggest scandal in the Catholic Church has been the child sex abuse crisis. In explaining the genesis of the abuse, a number of Catholic leaders and organizations have claimed that it was caused by the presence of gay priests among the clergy. In 2005, the Vatican’s Congregation for Catholic Education issued a document arguing that ordaining gay men would be “absolutely inadvisable and imprudent, and from the pastoral point of view, very very risky.” A statement by Archbishop Silvano Maria Tomasi to the United Nations in 2009 sought to recategorize the child abuse as “a homosexual attraction to adolescent males.” Bill Donohue, president of the Catholic League, claimed in an op-ed in The Washington Post in 2010 that the pedophilia crisis was “a homosexual crisis all along.”

Others have traced the problem to the church’s insistence on celibacy. A 2019 op-ed for the National Catholic Reporter suggested that celibacy creates a culture of secrecy and lies that protects pedophiles as well as sexually active priests. And a number of letters to the NCR have said that sex abuse among the clergy will end when celibacy does.

But sexual orientation, sexual abstinence and child abuse are in no way linked to one another. An independent study overseen by Margaret Smith at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice found no connection “between homosexual identity and an increased likelihood of sexual abuse.” In her report to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, Smith said: “We have not found that the problem [of sexual abuse of minors] is particular to the church. We have found it to be similar to the problem in society.” Writing in Psychology Today, Thomas Plante, a psychiatry professor, cited further evidence that celibacy “doesn’t increase the risk of child sexual abuse.” At the risk of pointing out the obvious, if priests want to break their vows of celibacy, there are many consenting adults with whom to do so.

Why “he seems such a nice guy” is the wrong response to abuse allegations

The Stylist

February 4, 2021

By Kayleigh Dray

“If we’re looking for monsters, we’ll never find them.”

On 2 February, Evan Rachel Wood took to her official Instagram account to name Marilyn Manson (real name Brian Warner) as her former abuser.

“He started grooming me when I was a teenager and horrifically abused me for years,” alleged the Westworld actor, who met Manson at the age of 18, when he was 36 and married to Dita Von Teese, according to a 2016 Rolling Stone profile.

“I was brainwashed and manipulated into submission.”

Standing alongside four other women, all of whom have accused Manson of abuse, Wood added: “I am done living in fear of retaliation, slander, or blackmail.

“I am here to expose this dangerous man and call out the many industries that have enabled him, before he ruins any more lives.”

In light of these disturbing allegations, which he has emphatically denied, Manson has been dropped from his recording label, Loma Vista Recordings, as well as an upcoming episode of fantasy drama series American Gods.

[Opinion] New AP report details ongoing abuse of PPP funds by Catholic Church

Freedom from Religion Foundation (blog)

February 4, 2021

Another new bombshell report by the Associated Press shows once again that churches are stealing from the American taxpayer:

“As the pandemic began to unfold, AP reveals today, “scores of Catholic dioceses across the U.S. received aid through the Paycheck Protection Program while sitting on well over $10 billion in cash, short-term investments or other available funds, an Associated Press investigation has found. And despite the broad economic downturn, these assets have grown in many dioceses.”

AP reports that “[t]he 112 dioceses that shared their financial statements collected at least $1.5 billion in taxpayer-backed aid. A majority of these dioceses reported enough money on hand to cover at least six months of operating expenses, even without any new income.”

The PPP is not even a year old and already the grift and abuse by church has been enormous. And unfortunately we’ll see more: The Paycheck Protection Program was reopened on January 11, 2021.

No criminal misconduct found after AFP investigation into Vatican payments

Catholic Leader

February 5, 2021

By Mark Bowling

THE Australian Federal Police has found no criminal misconduct after completing an investigation into huge payments made from the Vatican to Australia.

There were claims that money transfers of almost $3million sent to Australia could have been connected to an international money laundering and fraud scandal.

The Australian international financial watchdog, AUSTRAC, referred the transfers during the last six years to the Australian Federal Police as “actionable financial intelligence”.

However the AFP has released a statement confirming that it had “completed analysis of the financial intelligence provided by AUSTRAC” and found “no criminal misconduct… to date.”

Catholic Church paedophile networks to be mapped 'like organised crime' by academics

Australian Broadcasting Corporation

February 4, 2021

By Giselle Wakatama

A "mafia-like" code of silence among "dark networks" within the Catholic Church has begun to emerge from a world-first project mapping clerical paedophile networks, says an academic behind the project.

The research builds on work done by Sally Muytjens, one of Dr Death's doctoral students, who mapped Catholic paedophile networks in Victoria.

The mapping will now include other hotspots such as Newcastle and the role of women in the church, nuns and seminaries.

The Victorian project identified 99 clergy members as abusers linked to 16 paedophile networks in the Melbourne and Ballarat dioceses.

It found there was a "mafia-like" code of silence among clergy perpetrators who formed dark networks (DNs) within the Victorian Catholic Church.

German cardinal says he will keep promise to publish abuse report

Catholic News Agency

February 5, 2021

A German cardinal facing calls to resign confirmed on Thursday that he would release an eagerly awaited report on abuse cases in his archdiocese next month.

Cardinal Rainer Maria Woelki told the Kölnische Rundschau newspaper on Feb. 4 that he stood by his promise to release the Gercke Report on clerical abuse on March 18.

He also said that an independent commission would be granted access to another report, by the Munich law firm Westphal Spilker Wastl, which the Archdiocese of Cologne controversially declined to publish.

Woeki, the Archbishop of Cologne since 2014, has been asked repeatedly to resign by journalists in recent weeks. He has also been sharply criticized by clerics and Catholic associations for his handling of abuse reports and cover-up allegations, according to CNA Deutsch, CNA’s German-language news partner.

Germany: Catholic Church child abuse scandal widens

Anadolu Agency

February 4, 2021

By Ayhan Şimşek

Nuns sold orphaned children to priests, businessmen to serve as sex slaves, new confidential report reveals

Germany’s Catholic Church covered up the sexual abuse of orphaned children for decades, a new confidential report has revealed.

Nuns in the western city of Speyer sold orphaned children to priests and businessmen to serve as sex slaves between the 1960s and 1970s, but the scandal was covered up by the church authorities, The Daily Beast reported.

According to the 560-page report obtained by the US media outlet, at least 175 children, mostly boys between the ages of 8 and 14, were sexually abused over two decades.

The report was commissioned by the German church after a lawsuit was filed by more than a dozen victims against the Archdiocese of Cologne last year, but authorities have so far kept the report under wraps.

According to the findings of the internal investigation, around 80% of the victims of systematic abuse were male and 20% were female.

The investigation also found that 80% of the abusers were now dead, and 37 had left the priesthood or religious order.

[Opinion] Bishop had to take a sabbatical after reading a ‘gory’ abuse report

Patheos.com (blog)

February 4, 2021

By Barry Duke

AFTER reading a report about the sexual abuse suffered by orphans at boarding houses run by Germany’s Order of the Sisters of the Divine Redeemer, Karl-Heinz Wiesemann, above, Catholic Bishop of Speyer, reportedly had to take a month’s sabbatical to recover from the shock.

According to this Daily Beast report, the investigation into the activities of nuns who rented out orphans – mainly boys – to paedophile priests, politicians and businessman in the 1960s and ’70s, led to a report that the church then attempted to quash.

The details of that investigative report were so horrific that Archbishop Reiner Maria Woelki, above, refused to make it public, demanding that any journalists who see it sign confidentiality agreements.

Eight German journalist stormed out of a press conference in January after being denied access to the church’s investigation unless they agreed not to publish its cont

German archbishop under fire over clergy sex abuse report

Associated Press

February 5, 2021

The head of the German Bishops’ Conference has criticized the handling by one of Germany’s most prominent Roman Catholic archbishops of a report on past child sexual abuse by clergy.

Cologne Archbishop Rainer Maria Woelki faces mounting discontent in his diocese over his decision to keep under wraps a study he commissioned on how local church officials reacted when priests were accused of sexual abuse. Woelki has cited legal concerns about publishing the study conducted by a law firm.

The head of the national bishops’ conference, Limburg Bishop Georg Baetzing, criticized Woelki at a news conference on Thursday.

German news agency dpa quoted Baetzing as saying the “crisis that has arisen because the report is not now public was not well-managed, from my point of view.”

The law firm that prepared report has offered to publish the document on its website and to take sole responsibility for it, but the diocese has rejected that idea.

Woelki has drawn fierce criticism from Catholics in Cologne. The local diocesan council called last month for “full transparency” and said the confidence of the area’s Catholic faithful in church leaders had been damaged.

“After years of secrecy and denial, people in our diocese finally expect plain talk and concrete steps of responsibility,” the council said. “That is always possible. And it is high time.”

Woelki said Thursday he was “painfully aware that confidence had been lost” and acknowledged that he had made mistakes.

He pointed to the planned March 18 publication of a new report he also commissioned, and said that “after that, those affected and then everyone who is interested will get an insight into the first report.”

February 4, 2021

[News Release] Salem Film Fest Hosts World Premiere of Sipe: Sex, Lies, and the Priesthood

Salem Film Fest and BishopAccountability.org

February 4, 2021

As part of its winter series preceding its festival dates, Salem Film Fest is presenting the World Premiere of the documentary Sipe: Sex, Lies, and the Priesthood. Streaming of the film will be available starting on Saturday, February 20, 2021, at 4:00 p.m. EST on Salem Film Fest’s streaming channel. The one-hour film is produced by Zingerplatz Pictures and BishopAccountability.org. A free live panel with the wife, friends, and scholars of the subject, Richard Sipe, will take place at 8:00 p.m. EST on Saturday, February 20th, with a live chat function. The film and discussions will then be available via Salem Film Fest’s video-on-demand channel through Thursday, March 4. Ticket link and information can be accessed at SalemFilmFest.com.

The documentary, directed by Joe Cultrera (Hand of God, Frontline, 2006), explores the life and work of the late A.W. Richard Sipe (1932–2018), the revolutionary scholar of sex, celibacy, and clergy sexual abuse in the Catholic church. Sipe’s key role in the Boston abuse crisis was dramatized in the Academy Award-winning movie Spotlight (2015).

Long before 2002, when the Boston Globe’s Spotlight team made it headline news, Richard Sipe was a key figure in the Catholic church and its problems with sex. As a Benedictine therapist-monk, Sipe helped hundreds of priests in their struggles with celibacy. Sipe: Sex, Lies, and the Priesthood, takes us back to those days and Sipe’s upbringing in Minnesota, and forward to his work with survivors and his groundbreaking books: A Secret World: Sexuality and the Search for Celibacy and Sex, Priests, and Power: Anatomy of a Crisis.

Sitting on billions, Catholic dioceses amassed taxpayer aid

Associated Press

February 4, 2021

By Reese Dunklin and Michael Rezendes

When the coronavirus forced churches to close their doors and give up Sunday collections, the Roman Catholic Diocese of Charlotte turned to the federal government’s signature small business relief program for more than $8 million.

The diocese’s headquarters, churches and schools landed the help even though they had roughly $100 million of their own cash and short-term investments available last spring, financial records show. When the cash catastrophe church leaders feared didn’t materialize, those assets topped $110 million by the summer.

“I am gratified to report the overall good financial health of the diocese despite the many difficulties presented by the Covid-19 pandemic,” Bishop Peter Jugis wrote in the diocese’s audited financial report released last fall.

As the pandemic began to unfold, scores of Catholic dioceses across the U.S. received aid through the Paycheck Protection Program while sitting on well over $10 billion in cash, short-term investments or other available funds, an Associated Press investigation has found. And despite the broad economic downturn, these assets have grown in many dioceses.

Yet even with that financial safety net, the 112 dioceses that shared their financial statements, along with the churches and schools they oversee, collected at least $1.5 billion in taxpayer-backed aid. A majority of these dioceses reported enough money on hand to cover at least six months of operating expenses, even without any new income.

Lafayette attorney accused of rape in Boy Scout case denies charges


February 3, 2021

The Lafayette attorney accused of rape in an investigation related to the Boy Scouts held a press conference Wednesday to deny the allegations made against him.

"I want to begin by making it very clear. I completely deny any and all charges made against me by an anonymous alleged victim," Barry Rozas said during the press conference. "It simply did not happen. And there are no circumstances that can ever be misconstrued as inappropriate in all of my years as being a scout leader. While I'm sympathetic to true victims of sexual abuse. There's no victim in this case, as it relates to me, because I never abused anyone."

Rozas, 52, was booked with one count of first-degree rape yesterday and released on a $25,000 bond, records show. The victim has alleged that he was raped by Rozas at a location in the 400 block of Cajundome Boulevard. This is the block where the Cajundome is located, as well as much of the UL Athletics complex. The records are not specific as to location; they just list the 400 block of that street. The complaint was one of 28 turned over to the Lafayette Parish Sheriff's Office in November by the Evangeline Council after the council received them from a commission working on the Boy Scouts of America bankruptcy case.

Bills aim to give childhood sexual assault survivors more time to seek justice


February 3, 2021

By Maddie Biertempfel

A trio of bills meant to give victims of child sexual abuse more time to seek justice heard gut-wrenching testimony this morning from survivors, prosecutors, psychologists and more.

“My dentist was a prolific pedophile,” Jeffrey Dunford said.

Dunford recounts horrific memories of sexual abuse from his childhood dentist in Fargo.

“This particular office manager suggested she had witnessed 400 boys abused in her tenure at the dental office, so I was just one of that section,” Dunford said.

He wasn’t the only one to share his experience.

“I was sexually abused by a priest at Selfridge when I was about 10. Five other boys told me they were also abused by the same priest,” Ted Becker said.

Memories of abuse from priests, parents and other trusted figures filled the hearing room.

“I had one child victim who, her perpetrator had showed her pictures of his wife and his kids and at 7 years old she said, ‘I was worried he would lose his wife and kids and wouldn’t get to see them again.’ That was in the mind of a 7-year-old child,” Assistant Attorney General Britta Demello Rice said.

Church volunteer accused of child sex assault knew victim through family, police said

The Press Democrat

February 3, 2021

By Kaylee Tornay and Nashelly Chavez

A Santa Rosa man in jail on suspicion of repeatedly sexually assaulting a minor over a period of five years knew his victim socially through a family connection, police said Wednesday.

Drue James Mordecai, 55, remained in the Sonoma County Jail, held on $3 million bail, and faces several felony charges related to the statements of a teenage victim, who reported to police that the man had abused them, said Sgt. Chris Mahurin, a spokesman for the Santa Rosa Police Department.

Court records listed 27 felony charges and two enhancements against Mordecai in the case, which included nine charges of assaulting a minor with the intent to commit a felony and five counts of committing a lewd act with a child.

Mordecai was arrested Jan. 28, after investigators with the Police Department determined they had gathered enough evidence to arrest him, police said.

Church leader who worked with kids charged with sexual abuse, California cops say

Sacramento Bee

February 3, 2021

By Maddie Capron

A California church leader is accused of sexually abusing a child for four or five years, officials said.

The Santa Rosa Police Department investigated Drue Mordecai, a 55-year-old Santa Rosa resident and “small group leader” at New Vintage Church, for sexual assault, the department said in a Wednesday news release.

“As a result of the investigation, probable cause was established that the suspect sexually abused a juvenile victim for approximately four to five years,” police said in the release. “The abuse began when the victim was 12 years old.”

Mordecai was one of six volunteers who worked with high school students at the church, police said. Officials are investigating if there are other victims.

“As soon as we found out [about the allegations], we proactively began calling families to make sure children were safe,” Lead Pastor Darren Youngstrom told the police department.

Church Volunteer Accused Of Sexually Abusing Minor For Years: PD

Santa Rosa Patch

February 3, 2021

Police said they're working with leadership of the Santa Rosa church to determine whether there are more potential victims.

A 55-year-old Santa Rosa man is accused of sexually abusing a minor he met while volunteering at a local church, police said.

Drue Mordecai was arrested Thursday on suspicion of 12 charges related to the investigation and remains behind bars in lieu of $3 million bail, according to a Santa Rosa Police Department news release.

The day prior to Mordecai's arrest, the Santa Rosa Police Department's Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence Team began a sexual assault investigation that involved a "Small Group Leader" at New Vintage Church and a juvenile victim, police Sgt. Christopher Mahurin said.

[Opinion] New Diocese of Oakland Sex Abuse Lawsuit Reveals Seminaries as a Hot Bed for Abuse

Legal Examiner (law firm's blog)

February 3, 2021

New revelations of disturbing sexual abuse at a seminary are coming to light after a sexual abuse lawsuit against the Diocese of Oakland settled last year.

According to a local NBC affiliate, “The accusations come from a former seminarian, 28, who had previously alleged in 2019 that he was raped by Livermore priest Fr. Michael Van Dinh three years ago. He does not wish to be identified, so NBC Bay Area is calling him John Doe.

A police report obtained by NBC Bay Area shows Livermore police found a meth pipe and sex toys in the priest’s living quarters while investigating the alleged assault. Detectives recommended two felony charges, including sodomy by force, but the Alameda County District Attorney’s Office said there wasn’t enough evidence. After going through therapy for the alleged assault at the hands of Fr. Van Dinh, Doe’s attorney said he later disclosed being sexually abused by two other priests within the Diocese: Fr. Luis Lopez and Fr. Ricardo Chavez, who is now retired. Lopez is currently assigned to Fremont’s Corpus Christi Church, according to its website.

Bill aims to extend time for abuse victims to file claims

Associated Press

February 3, 2021

By James MacPherson

Several adult victims of child sexual abuse appealed to lawmakers in emotional testimony Wednesday to back legislation that would give survivors more time to sue their alleged perpetrators for crimes that could date back decades.

The bipartisan legislation, HB 1382, would provide a two-year window to suspend the statute of limitations to file claims against alleged abusers or institutions that protected them.

“I appeal to you to bring justice to victims of child abuse in North Dakota,” West Fargo Republican Rep. Austen Schauer, the bill’s sponsor, told the House Judiciary Committee, which took no immediate action.

Sex abuse in the Church: majority of victims don’t report cases, says expert

Malta Today

February 3, 2021

By Laura Calleja

Psychologist who followed 80 patients with drug problems who experienced child and adolescent abuse never opened up about their abusers

Victims of child and adolescent abuse rarely report their abuse, meaning many perpetrators are still within the community, a 2000 study by psychologist Mariella Dimech of 80 people with drug problems had found at the time.

‘Numbing The Pain’ focused on the link between child and adolescent abuse and drug addiction by following 80 people who had drug problems over time – 90% of these vicims had been abused during childhood and adolescence.

“The abuse was sexual, physical, and emotional and or neglect,” Dimech said, who was asked to comment on the recent arraignment of two Gozitan priests for the alleged rape of an altar boy.

“100% of the victims never reported their abuse. This means that no help was given, offered or perceived as being available. This also means that all the perpetrators are still out there,” Dimech said.

In 2019 there were 26 court cases related to paedophilia, whose perpetrators were in the main male (24). Every month, social welfare agency Appoġġ receives two to five sexual abuse cases.

Former Xagħra Priest Escapes Police Action For Sexually Abusing Altar Boy As Case Was Time-Barred

Lovin' Malta

February 3, 2021

By Tim Diacono

Two former Xagħra priests were recently charged with sexually abusing an altar boy, but a third clergy member who served in the same parish managed to escape similar charges despite the Church deeming the allegations credible.

Eucharist Sultana, a former Xagħra parish priest, was suspended from the priesthood in 2018 after being accused of sexually abusing a former altar boy over 16 years earlier.

He allegedly groomed the boy for four years, summoning him for sexual encounters in return for gifts. The abuse is believed to have lasted for four years and ended when the victim was 17 years old.

The Church’s Safeguarding Commission referred this case to the police, who launched an investigation. However, a police spokesperson has now confirmed with Lovin Malta that they were legally prohibited from prosecuting Sultana because the case was time-barred.

Victim speaks out after abusive priest sentenced

The Tablet

February 3, 2021

By Catherine Pepinster

The victim of a priest sentenced to serve more than a decade in jail for child sexual abuse has attacked the Archdiocese of Birmingham for trying to dissuade him from reporting the assaults to police.

Last week, Fr Joseph Quigley was jailed for 11 years and six months for sexually and physically abusing a young man. At one stage he locked him in the crypt of a church as a punishment for supposed wrongdoing.

The priest, who was once a national education adviser to the Catholic bishops, groomed the boy during tutoring sessions in his presbytery which eventually led to assaults, involving sexual touching. The judge described the priest as a sexual sadist. During the trial, Warwick Crown Court heard the abuse took place in the 2000s when Quigley was serving at a parish in Warwickshire within the Archdiocese of Birmingham. The victim eventually told his mother in 2009

German bishops resume meetings to discuss women in the church, LGBT issues and the sexual abuse crisis

Religion News Service via America

February 3, 2021

By Claire Giangravé

Germany’s Catholic bishops will resume discussions this week to plan the Synodal Path, a set of conferences slated to address controversial questions such as women’s roles and LGBT acceptance, even as the country faces yet another scandal of sexual abuse by clergy.

Many churchmen believe that the social questions and the abuse crisis are related. “The abuse crisis hurts the church very deeply,” the Rev. Martin Maier, a Jesuit priest and former editor at the German Catholic magazine Voices of the Time ( Stimmen der Zeit ), told Religion News Service. “One of the most painful consequences is the loss of trust. One of the goals of the Synodal Path is to restore trust, which is crucial and vital.”

Started in 2019 and scheduled to last two years, Synodal Path was put on hold in September 2020 as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Its purpose is to debate questions of power structures in the Catholic Church, priestly life, sexual morality and the role of women in the church.

“The abuse crisis hurts the church very deeply,” said the Rev. Martin Maier. “One of the most painful consequences is the loss of trust. One of the goals of the Synodal Path is to restore trust, which is crucial and vital.”

While the bishops’ summit officially considers only Germany’s local dioceses and parishes, the discussions and decisions will likely have consequences around the global church. Bishops from Australia to South America and Ireland are grappling with the devastating impact that the sexual abuse crisis has had, as well as with mounting secularization that has depleted church attendance and vocations.

Australian federal police find no criminal misconduct in mysterious Vatican transfers

Catholic News Agency

February 3, 2021

By Hannah Brockhaus

The Australian Federal Police said on Wednesday that it had found no evidence of criminal misconduct in its investigation into money transfers from the Vatican to Australia.

Australian authorities have been investigating the suspicious payments, equivalent to about $7.4 million, for several months.

The federal police (AFP) said in a statement on Feb. 3 that “no criminal misconduct has been identified to date.”

Catholic brother allowed to live by school had been charged with abuse of seven victims

Liverpool Echo

February 3, 2021

By Jonathan Humphries

The teacher was never convicted after a judge ruled there had been an "abuse of process"

A Catholic brother who was allowed to live on school grounds was the former head of a school accused of abusing multiple children.

The man spent several years living in France before moving onto accommodation connected to St Francis Xavier's (SFX) College in Woolton.

The ECHO has since learned that the man, a member of the French Catholic order the Brothers of Christian Instruction, was charged with 10 counts of indecent assault against seven victims, some under 13, at a school outside the Merseyside area.

Crisis deepens in Cologne as cardinal pins hopes on March abuse report

Catholic News Service via National Catholic Reporter

February 3, 2021

The Archdiocese of Cologne, which has the largest membership in the German-speaking world with almost 2 million Catholics, is sliding into a crisis of confidence.

The German Catholic news agency KNA reports that parish councils, priests and most recently the diocesan council have criticized Cardinal Rainer Maria Woelki for his handling of an abuse investigation, and the ferocity of their criticism is unusual.

Tim Kurzbach, archdiocesan council chairman, said in late January that Woelki had "failed as a moral authority" and was not confronting the problem. In protest, the council, made up of elected representatives of Catholic laypeople, said it was suspending its cooperation on diocesan reforms.

It was a rare step, and it was taken despite the cardinal's pledge to conduct a rigorous investigation.

February 3, 2021

There’s another path for survivors of clergy sex abuse to get justice. It faces an uphill climb in the legislature.

Spotlight PA

February 2, 2021

By Angela Couloumbis and Cynthia Fernandez

When Republican state Rep. Jim Gregory learned Monday from Gov. Tom Wolf that an administrative error will delay a decision on whether survivors can sue for decades-old sexual abuse, he broke down and sobbed uncontrollably.

“That’s where I had to leave it with him — to hope he understood the gravity of what this means to victims, to know that we could be so close to achieving something for them that has been decades in wait,” Gregory, a survivor of child sexual abuse, said of his conversation with Wolf. “To now have to say, again, you’re going to have to wait. I would believe that my emotions mirrored the emotions of other victims.”

The Department of State recently discovered that it failed last year to advertise a proposed change to the state constitution that would create a two-year window so victims of decades-old abuse can sue perpetrators and the institutions that covered up the crimes.

[Opinion] Sex-abuse law blunder on Kathy Boockvar’s watch is a titanic mess for Pa. child victims | Maria Panaritis

Philadelphia Inquirer

February 2, 2021

By Maria Panaritis

For years, Pa. Republicans stalled on expanded rights to sue abusers. Now “human error” by Democratic Gov. Wolf’s administration has derailed a long-awaited law.

If an 860-word column could hope to convey speechlessness, this one would be it.

Hours after news broke of a bureaucratic blunder in Harrisburg that resulted in further damage to victims of child sexual abuse in Pennsylvania, it remained hard to know what to say.

“It just never ends,” State Rep. Mark Rozzi put it moments after answering my call Monday night. I couldn’t have agreed more with those four words.

For 16 years in the commonwealth of Pennsylvania, people like Rozzi, who was molested as a child within a corrupt institution that knowingly harbored and hid pedophiles, were told they could not sue as adults. After the Catholic abuse scandal broke open in 2002, lawmakers in Harrisburg began blocking legislative efforts to alter the civil statute of limitations so that victims could sue as adults many years beyond what the merciless law had allowed.

PA Attorney General urges lawmakers to take action and support abuse survivors


February 2, 2021

PA Attorney General urges lawmakers to take action and support abuse survivors

By Rick Earle, WPXI-TV and Greg Deffenbaugh, WPXI.com

Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro is sending a strong message to the state legislature: support survivors of sexual abuse by passing critical legislation that would allow them to seek justice over a two-year window.

The attorney general spearheaded the groundbreaking grand jury report on clergy sex abuse in Pennsylvania’s Catholic Dioceses.

In an interview with Channel 11′s Rick Earle, Shapiro voiced his disappointment with the secretary of state’s office, after the department mismanaged the process to get a constitutional amendment on the ballot that would allow abuse survivors a two-year window to file civil lawsuits.

”This conduct at the department of state was truly shameful and these survivors deserve better. I can tell you, I’ve had some productive conversations with the governor and legislative leaders about trying to remedy this error and trying to get the victims in a position where we can bring justice as quickly and humanly possible,” said Shapiro.

According to the Associated Press, the proposed amendment, which is in response to the child sexual abuse by Catholic clergy, first passed the Legislature as House Bill 963 in November 2019. The Department of State was constitutionally required to advertise the wording of the proposed constitutional amendment in two newspapers in every county, in each of the three months before the next general election when members of the General Assembly are elected.

[Media Statement] Defrocked Serial Abuser Still Enjoys “Celebrity Status” in the Country Where He Abused Children

SNAP (Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests)

February 2, 2021

A self-admitted pedophile and ex-priest from a Chicago-based Catholic group has made the news again in East Timor as he evades criminal justice in the United States. We fear for the vulnerable children that this serial abuser may still have access to and call on those that hired, trained, and ordained him to use every resource at their disposal to bring this disgraced cleric home to face justice.

For decades, Richard Daschbach ran an orphanage called Topu Honis, a shelter for homeless children, disabled adults, and women fleeing domestic violence in East Timor. In 2019, he was arrested for abusing young girls at this facility, a year after he admitted to sexually abusing the children under his care. Daschbach has since been defrocked by the Vatican, but despite these arrests and his own admissions, he apparently continues to enjoy “celebrity status” in East Timor, one of the poorest and most Catholic countries in the world.

Prior to his exodus from the US, Daschbach was ordained at St. Mary’s Mission Seminary in Chicago and was a member of the Chicago-based Society of the Divine Word (SVD). We believe that both of these institutions have far more resources at their disposal than their counterparts in East Timor. They should be using those resources to bring the abuser they hired, trained, and ordained home so that he can no longer use his status to abuse children.

[News Release] Diocese has new sex abuse victim assistance coordinator

Diocese of Honolulu via Hawaii Catholic Herald

February 3, 2021

Kristin J. Leandro, director of the diocese’s Safe Environment office announced Jan. 12 the appointment of the new diocesan victim assistance coordinator, the person who provides support and services for adult survivors of child sexual abuse by clergy, religious or church workers.

Lora Daniel, a licensed mental health counselor at Catholic Charities Hawaii, takes the place of Elizabeth Lyons who moved to the Mainland this month.

Daniel is a therapist in Catholic Charities’ Child Sex Abuse Treatment Program and Child Victims of Crime Program. She also works with other families and individuals in need of counseling.

[NEWS RELEASE] Promulgation Of New Safe Environment Policy

Diocese of Youngstown

February 1, 2021

The Most Reverend David J. Bonnar, Bishop of Youngstown, has promulgated the Safe Environment Policy for the Protection of Children and Vulnerable Adults of the Catholic Diocese of Youngstown, effective immediately. This policy replaces the 2008 Child Protection Policy while incorporating the vast majority of its policies and procedures. Significant additions include an explicit reference to vulnerable adults, a specific section relating to social media and electronic communication, and updated resources for those seeking to report misconduct or abuse.

[Opinion] How New Orleans Priest Abuse Is Being Handled

Legal Examiner (law firm blog)

February 2, 2021

Sexual abuse allegations and claims against priests in New Orleans made headlines throughout 2020, especially after the Archdiocese of New Orleans filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in May – a response due to the costs of their legal troubles. The bankruptcy prompted a March 1, 2021 deadline for claims against the church. Since the deadline was set, more victims have overcome their silence and fear to pursue justice for abuse at the hands of religious leaders.

The number of clergy with claims against them has grown steadily since the scandal broke, with victims coming forward about abuse and sexual advances that took place, many of them decades ago. The types of claims range from rape and molestation to sexually inappropriate letters and text messages.

In October, a survivor made abuse claims against two priests who taught at his Catholic school in the 70s. He claims the church gave him unlimited therapy, but no actions were taken against the priests at the time.

Pope Francis tells Catholic journalists he has hope for ‘courageous’ US church

Religion News Service

February 2, 2021

By Claire Giangravé

The news media is plagued by four sins, the pope told reporters: disinformation, calumny, defamation and ‘coprophilia,’ by which he apparently meant love of scandal.

Addressing the current challenges of the U.S. Catholic Church, Pope Francis warned against the polarization in the country and the “sins” of the media.

“The church in the United States is a church that has been courageous — the history it has and the saints — and has done so much,” Pope Francis said during an impromptu interview with journalists from Catholic News Service on Monday (Feb. 1) at the Vatican.

The audience marked the 100th anniversary of the news agency, which is an arm of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.

“A divided church is not the church,” the pope told the CNS reporters, while at the same time making a distinction between unity and uniformity. “Unity with differences, but one heart,” Francis he said.

Cardinal Ladaria: Vatican doctrinal office is 'no longer the Inquisition'

Catholic News Service via National Catholic Reporter

February 2, 2021

By Carol Glatz

Established almost 500 years ago, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith is no longer "the Inquisition" — rather, its main focus is handing down the teachings of the apostles, said the office's prefect.

"Our mission is to promote and protect the doctrine of the faith. It is a task that will always be necessary for the church, which has the duty to transmit the teaching of the apostles to the next generation," Cardinal Luis Ladaria Ferrer, congregation prefect, told Vatican News Feb. 1.

Called the Sacred Roman and Universal Inquisition when it was instituted in 1542, the congregation was initially a tribunal exclusively for cases of heresy and schism, but soon its responsibilities were expanded to include "everything relating directly or indirectly to faith and morals," according to the congregation's website.

German Nuns Sold Orphaned Children to Sexual Predators: Report

Daily Beast

February 2, 2021

By Barbie Latza Nadeau

SICK SISTERS: A report German authorities tried to silence shows how Catholic nuns peddled orphaned boys to predatory priests and perverts for decades.

A jarring report outlining decades of rampant child sex abuse at the hands of greedy nuns and perverted priests in the Archdiocese of Cologne, Germany, paints a troubling picture of systematic abuse in the German church.

The report is the byproduct of a lawsuit alleging that orphaned boys living in the boarding houses of the Order of the Sisters of the Divine Redeemer were sold or loaned for weeks at a time to predatory priests and businessmen in a sick rape trade. The men involved in the lawsuit say as boys they were denied being adopted out or sent to foster families because selling them for rape lined the sisters’ coffers for their “convent of horrors.” Some of the boys were then groomed to be sex slaves to perverts, the report claims.

The alleged abuse went on for years, with one of the males claiming the nuns even frequently visited their college dorms after they had left the convent. He said the nuns often drugged him and delivered him to predators’ apartments. The Order of Sisters of the Divine Redeemer did not answer multiple requests for comment about the allegations.

St. Pius X campus could be sold due to bankruptcy

Albuquerque Journal

February 2, 2021

By Pilar Martinez

St. Pius X High School may soon have to find a new home, according to a letter sent by the Archdiocese of Santa Fe announcing that it may be forced to sell the West Side campus as part of its bankruptcy reorganization.

The letter sent to members of the St. Pius community by Archbishop of Santa Fe John C. Wester in January said the school’s campus, as well as buildings used by archdiocesan staff, may be sold as a result of the Archdiocese of Santa Fe’s Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing in 2018 following hundreds of settlements with victims of sexual abuse by Catholic clergy members.

“We deeply regret the distress that this possible marketing of the campus will cause in the St. Pius X community of students, parents, alumni, staff and the surrounding communities,” Wester wrote in the letter.

Wester said bankrupt organizations are required to monetize assets deemed non-essential to the organization’s primary mission and the St. Pius campus and archdiocesan buildings fell under this category.

He said church staff are looking at ways the archdiocese can monetize the campus to avoid listing it on the open market, but he did not provide details.

Wilson showed no self-pity over abuse case

Australian Associated Press via Yahoo News

February 3, 2021

By Tim Dornin

Unjustly convicted but later acquitted on charges of covering up child sex abuse, former Catholic Archbishop of Adelaide Philip Wilson felt no self-pity or rancour, but rather accepted the cross he was forced to bear, his funeral service has been told.

The 70-year-old, who died last month, served as the eighth archbishop of Adelaide from 2001 until his resignation in 2018.

At a service in St Francis Xavier's Cathedral on Wednesday, Bishop Greg O'Kelly described him as a warm and compassionate man who was devoted to those who sought his ministry.

Philip Wilson, former Catholic Archbishop of Adelaide, farewelled at St Francis Xavier's Cathedral

Australian Broadcasting Corporation

February 2, 2021

By Sara Tomevska

Former Catholic Archbishop of Adelaide Philip Wilson has been farewelled at a funeral at St Francis Xavier's Cathedral.

The Catholic Church paid its respects to the 70-year-old, who died unexpectedly last month.

Several church leaders spoke including Apostolic Nuncio Adolfo Tito Yllana, who also read a statement from Pope Francis.

"His holiness Pope Francis was saddened to learn of the death of Archbishop Emeritus Philip Wilson, and he sends heartfelt condolences," he said.

[Opinion] Why the case for mandatory reporting is now beyond doubt

The Tablet

February 2, 2021

By Richard Scorer

Last Friday Joseph Quigley, Catholic priest and former religious education advisor, was sentenced to 11-and-a-half years in prison for serious offences against children. The police investigation which resulted in his conviction began in 2017, following a complaint from one of Quigley’s victims, who was encouraged to go the police by his therapist. As The Tablet reports today, this same victim alleges that several years earlier he had discussed the possibility of reporting his allegations about Quigley to the police with Jane Jones, the then Archdiocese of Birmingham Safeguarding Advisor. He says she actively discouraged him from taking his allegations to the police, telling him: “You won't win.”

If this victim’s story is true – and his account of what Jane Jones said to him is corroborated by another family member present at the same meeting – then this is appalling. However it is not surprising. After 25 years of representing victims and survivors of clerical sex abuse, I have heard countless examples of victims being discouraged, subtly or not, from taking their allegations to the authorities.

[Media Statement] Disturbing Details Revealed in Case Against UK Catholic Priest

SNAP (Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests)

February 1, 2021

A priest has been jailed in the UK for physically and sexually torturing a young student for years, enabled by Catholic officials. We are glad that these allegations came to light and that this dangerous abuser has been identified and removed. We now call on law enforcement to investigate the disturbing decisions that allowed this perpetrator to go unchecked and untethered for so long.

The abuse that this young boy suffered at the hands of Fr. Joseph Quigley has been termed a “gothic horror.” Our hearts break for the victim and we hope that he is getting the help and support he needs. In addition to the appalling tortures this youth experienced, we are outraged at the indifference shown by UK Catholic officials to the allegations against Fr. Quigley. Accusations of abuse by the priest first came to light in 2008, and in response, Church leaders shipped him off to St. Luke’s for six months, a “treatment center” for abusive priests.

We are not sure what is worse – that Catholic officials truly believed that six months was enough time to treat someone with violent abusive tendencies, or that Church leaders allowed Fr. Quigley to routinely visit schools following his return to the UK. Catholic officials had been made aware of allegations against Fr. Quigley more than once and still saw fit to send him as a representative of their institution to schools full of vulnerable children. Hundreds of children were exposed to unnecessary risk due to these decisions and we hope that law enforcement officials are investigating to determine whether any other laws were broken.

February 2, 2021

The Boston Archdiocese’s list of priests accused of abuse does not include cases settled with alleged victims

Boston Globe

February 2, 2021

By Shelley Murphy

The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Boston has paid alleged victims millions of dollars in recent years to resolve claims that they were sexually abused by priests working in local parishes. Yet, the names of many of those priests are missing from the Archdiocese’s public roster of clergy accused of sexually abusing children, an accounting that began a decade ago under pressure from victims.

Their exclusion has angered survivors of abuse, particularly in light of Cardinal Sean P. O’Malley’s longstanding pledge to be transparent about clergy sexual abuse after decades of secrecy.

“It just seems like they’re trying to cover up,” said David, who in November received a settlement in “the high five figures,” from the archdiocese, according to his attorney, Mitchell Garabedian. It was awarded after David underwent painful questioning from church lawyers and an arbitrator tasked with corroborating his claims against John H. Curley, who died in 1999.

David, who asked to be identified only by his first name, said he was frustrated by Curley’s absence from the Archdiocese’s list because the priest ruined his life by sexually assaulting him in 1981 when he was 12 and living at a home for troubled boys in Braintree.

“They’re trying to hide that the person is a pedophile,” he said.

Curley routinely brought groups of boys from the Pilgrim Center on trips to the park or to play basketball that ended with an overnight stay at his home, David said. While the group watched television, Curley would “bring kids up to his bedroom one at a time,” he said.

He said he was sleeping one night when Curley awakened him and told him “we had to do penance.” He said the priest told him to pray as he sexually assaulted him. He said he refused to go on any more trips with Curley.

Garabedian, a longtime advocate for sexual abuse victims who has settled claims involving more than 340 clergy and church personnel, has identified 20 priests whom the Boston Archdiocese does not list as accused child molesters although it has paid settlements totaling more than $1.2 million to their victims since 2011. In that time, the archdiocese also paid about $1.3 million to the victims of nine clergy members listed as accused of “unsubstantiated” claims of child sexual abuse, according to Garabedian. Several of those priests were accused of sexual abuse by multiple victims, he said.

“Why would they pay us a settlement if the priest didn’t do it?” Garabedian asked. “They’re hoping the clergy sexual abuse crisis is going away when it isn’t. You’re dealing with an entity that has engaged in coverup, so they’re not changing their stripes now.”

Attorney Tyler Fox said two of his clients who were sexually abused by priests decades ago while working as altar boys at churches in the Boston Archdiocese were paid settlements of $85,000 and $99,000 last year, yet both priests are absent from the church’s roster of accused abusers.

Terrence Donilon, an Archdiocese spokesman, declined to comment on specific cases and would not disclose how many settlements involved claims against priests who are omitted from the Archdiocese’s roster or listed as being accused of “unsubstantiated” allegations.

He said archdiocesan leadership has been actively considering whether its criteria for identifying accused clerics should be updated.

“In many situations, choosing to resolve an allegation by reaching a settlement is often the best decision financially for all the parties involved,” Donilon said. “In many ways we are acknowledging the harm that was done by offering compensation and counseling services.”

He said the Archdiocese immediately reports allegations of clergy sexual abuse of minors to law enforcement and publicly discloses when a clergy member is removed from active ministry after a conviction or during an investigation into an allegation of child abuse.

The Boston Archdiocese’s website lists 132 clerics in various categories, including those convicted of child sexual abuse in criminal or church proceedings, those who left or were suspended from the church pending investigations, and those who died before victims came forward. Another 38 priests are listed as “unsubstantiated cases” because a review board concluded the allegations were unfounded or the priest was cleared of wrongdoing during church proceedings.

The Boston Archdiocese settled agreements with 33 people for $2.3 million in the last fiscal year to resolve sexual abuse claims, Donilon said. The year before, it settled 20 allegations totaling $1.2million, he said. It also paid $2.4 million in each of those years for “abuse-related prevention, outreach, healing, and reconciliation efforts as a whole to both new and ongoing survivors,” he said.

In 2011, O’Malley released the first list of clerics who were accused of sexually abusing children, saying the Archdiocese’s “commitment and responsibility is to protect children and to ensure that the tragedy of sexual abuse is never repeated in the Church.”

At the time, he said some names were excluded to balance “the critically important need to assure the protection of children” with “the due process rights and reputations of those accused clergy whose cases have not been fully adjudicated.”

He omitted the names of many deceased priests because they were unable to respond to the allegations. He also excluded the names of dozens of priests from religious orders and other dioceses who were accused of abusing children while assigned to the Boston Archdiocese. It was the responsibility of the priest’s order or diocese, he said, to investigate allegations against them.

Those guidelines remain in place today. O’Malley has been urging religious orders to identify accused priests, Donilon said.

Fox represents a man who was awarded $85,000 last year to settle a sexual abuse claim against Lawrence Buckley, a Redemptorist priest who worked for the Boston Archdiocese and was described in his 2008 obituary as a champion for social justice.

The man, who asked to be identified only by his first name, Chris, said he was a 7-year-old altar boy at Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Roxbury in 1987 when Buckley first sexually assaulted him in the sacristy, where priests change into their robes before Mass. He said the abuse continued for four years, even on the day that Buckley came to his home to deliver the news that his father had died.

He said he never told anyone until he became a father himself, fiercely protective of his two little girls. Two years ago, he disclosed the abuse to the Boston Archdiocese.

“It’s frustrating,” Chris said of the Archdiocese’s omission of Buckley’s name from its list of accused priests because he belonged to a religious order. “It was a Catholic church and I was a Catholic altar boy. I just wish they owned up to something that happened here.”

The Redemptorists have not released a list of clergy accused of molesting children and did not respond to inquiries regarding Buckley.

Terry McKiernan, founder of Bishop-Accountability.org, a volunteer group that tracks clergy sexual abuse, said it’s a “glaring peculiarity” that some of the worst offenders have been left off the Boston Archdiocese list. Recent high-profile investigations into clergy sexual abuse and court settlements have prompted more dioceses and religious orders to release lists identifying abusers. Currently, 152 of the nation’s 178 Roman Catholic dioceses and 24 religious orders have done so, he said.

David O’Regan, Massachusetts leader of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, said identifying abusive priests helps their victims heal and often gives those who have suffered in silence the courage to come forward because they realize “that happened to somebody else. It wasn’t just me.”

NOPD confirms rape investigation involving Catholic priest named in lawsuit


February 1, 2021

By Greg LaRose

The probe follows a November complaint against Rev. John Asare-Dankwah

The New Orleans Police Department confirmed Monday that it is investigating claims that a local priest raped a 10-year-old boy in 2008.

The probe follows a complaint this past November from the accuser against the Rev. John Asare-Dankwah, who the NOPD mentioned by name in response to questions about the case.

The priest was named in a lawsuit filed last week that details allegations involving a religious retreat in Montgomery, Alabama. Asare led the retreat and approached the boy during the sacrament of confession, according to the suit.

"This will be over soon," the priest told the boy before raping him, court documents allege. The lawsuit says Asare pulled the boy out of bed that night and took him to another location alone. The lawsuit alleges that Asare accused the boy of being gay, calling him a sinner, then prayed over the boy and beat him.

Asare, who is currently out of the country in Ghana, denied the allegations in a statement to reporters last week.

[News Release] Father Merle Fisher - Marist Fathers

Law Offices of Mitchell Garabedian

February 1, 2021

[Includes Assignment Record]


Father Merle Fisher, S.M. was accused of sexually abusing a male minor child on at least six occasions from approximately 1967 to 1970 when the boy was approximately 8 to 11 years old. During the period of sexual abuse, Father Fisher was assigned to Holy Cross Church in Kalaheo, Hawaii.

The sexual abuse by Father Fisher occurred in the rectory affiliated with Holy Cross Church and included the following: Father Fisher smacked and squeezed the boy’s buttocks, skin-on-skin, and Father Fisher fondled the boy’s penis and testicles, skin-on-skin.
The claim settled in 2020 in the low six figures.

[Opinion] The Copper Valley School’s legacy continues

Anchorage Daily News

February 1, 2021

By Elizabeth Klemm, Stephen Gemmell and Brandon Boylan

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the closing of the Copper Valley School, the first integrated boarding school in Alaska. Located near Glennallen, “Copper,” as many referred to it, aimed to prepare its students to become the next generation of leaders in Alaska.

In a time when Alaska village schools were understaffed and high school availability was limited, many parents chose to send their children away from home for a high-quality education. Both Native and non-Native, Catholic and non-Catholic, village and city students attended Copper. While schools throughout the country were still grappling with integration, Copper welcomed Aleut, Athabascan, Iñupiaq, Yup’ik and white students, as well as several students from Africa. To this day, several alumni claim that the merging of cultures was a success of the school, allowing students to learn to appreciate other backgrounds and cultures and work with one another in collaborative ways. One former student recently described the school as a “mini-United Nations.” Many students made lifelong friendships, and the school’s alumni organization, the Copper Valley Student Association (CVSA), continues to connect former students.

The school had a remarkable beginning. In the 1940s, Father Buchanan, a young Jesuit priest, began serving in western Alaska. As he traveled throughout his 74,000-square-mile parish, he realized the need for a Catholic school in the area and dreamt of opening a school that would prepare Alaska Natives for leadership positions. As his vision attracted attention, the U.S. Congress provided a land grant of 460 acres at the junction of the Copper and Tazlina Rivers, south of Glennallen, for educational purposes. A Jewish architect provided plans for the school without charge. To help with the school’s construction, a variety of businesses donated materials or provided them at cost. Donations came from throughout the country. Even Bing Crosby donated a truck to the school.

On Oct. 13, 1956, Alaska Airlines launched Operation Snowbird, an effort to ferry students from Holy Cross, the site of one of the original Catholic missions and home to a closing Catholic school, to Copper. Holy Cross students joined others from across Alaska at the newly opened school. Seventy students and staff were at the school in its first winter, living and learning in the unfinished facility. Upon the school’s completion several years later, Copper featured classrooms, dormitories, staff quarters, a cafeteria, a gym and a chapel. Enrollment peaked at more than 150 in the late 1960s.

The school offered a rigorous Catholic education, led by the Sisters of Saint Ann and Jesuit priests, Scholastics and Brothers. Lay volunteers from throughout the country rounded out the staff -- filling teaching, administrative and maintenance positions. Educational expectations were high: Teachers challenged students to build their art, mathematics and writing skills. Students from Copper regularly participated in academic competitions, such as debate tournaments, with other regional schools. Each weeknight, students had mandatory study hall, with individual tutoring available. The boarding school environment also served to build community as the students worked together on school tasks.

In addition to schoolwork, each student had assigned chores: washing dishes, peeling potatoes, plucking chickens, hunting and butchering caribou (and the occasional buffalo), cleaning bathrooms, buffing floors, hauling garbage or unloading coal. The school also offered a variety of extracurricular activities, including Civil Air Patrol, basketball, track and skiing. Students could join various organizations such as Sodality of Our Lady of Sorrows, Glee Club, Library Club, Hobby Club, Movie Club, Pep Club and others. When they needed to escape, students took long expeditions on trails through the school site’s hundreds of acres, walked the mile to Brenwick’s store to buy candy and sodas, or took weekend expeditions, trekking the six miles to Rosent’s at the Hub if they craved a hamburger and milkshake.

The school closed in 1971, owing to a combination of financial struggles and shifts in diocesan priorities. In the environment of the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act (ANCSA) of 1971, parents had also begun to question the value of sending their children away to boarding schools and were working to establish village high schools (a right later affirmed in the “Molly Hootch” case in 1976), reducing the need for boarding schools across the state. After the school’s closing, the church explored several options for the massive facility. The diocese eventually sold it at auction to a group of local businessmen, who were considering turning the facility into a shopping mall before the school burned down in 1976.

Copper students’ experiences were not universally positive. One study found two incidents of abuse. The rigorous Catholic education allowed little room for traditional Alaska Native education; as a result, several Native students struggled to maintain their connections with their Native cultures, a problem some alumni continue to grapple with today. Students wrestled with homesickness and loneliness.

Nonetheless, Copper’s focus on education and the strong community of both students and staff provided a protective layer for most students. Many alumni think highly of the Copper Valley School, stating that their education and experiences at the school prepared them for their future careers in the military, education, politics, nursing, corporate management, and other professions. Some Native graduates went on to serve as leaders within the state, their village communities, and the Native Corporations established by ANCSA.

Students made lifelong friendships during their time at the school, not only among the students but also between the students and staff. In an effort to foster these friendships, in 1985, Theresa “Tiny” Demientieff Devlin started an alumni newsletter called “The Scuttlebutt” in honor of the school’s newsletter of the same name. In 1986, alumni organized to meet for a reunion, a tradition that carries on to this day. Alumni have come from across Alaska, Canada, the Lower 48, and Australia. The annual reunion has served as a forum for friends to reconnect, sit around a bonfire, reminisce, share a meal and remember those who have passed away. Former staff also attend these reunions, and alumni often thank them for their teaching, dedication and inspiration. In 1993, alumni formed the nonprofit Copper Valley School Association. The association has supported scholarships and raised funds to bring guests, such as former teachers, priests and students, to reunions.

Believing that the school holds an important role in Alaska’s education history and has had a significant impact on Alaska’s history in general, CVSA is sponsoring two research projects at the University of Alaska Fairbanks (UAF). The Arctic and Northern Studies (ACNS) program at UAF is an interdisciplinary program that studies the history, policy, culture and other issues related to the Arctic and the Circumpolar North. CVSA is sponsoring a graduate student researcher in the ACNS program. This student, Elizabeth Klemm, is currently researching Copper’s legacy and will write a historical narrative of the school. CVSA is also working with UAF’s Alaska and Polar Regions Collections and Archives (APRCA) to archive documents related to the school.

If you attended Copper Valley School or otherwise have information about Copper that you would like included in the history, please contact Elizabeth Klemm at CVSlegacy@gmail.com.

[Elizabeth Klemm lives in Anchorage and is a graduate student in Arctic and Northern Studies at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. Stephen Gemmell lives in Fairbanks and is the president of Copper Valley Student Association. Brandon Boylan, Ph.D., lives in Fairbanks and is an associate professor of Political Science and the director of the Arctic and Northern Studies Program at the University of Alaska Fairbanks.]

Northern Irish victims call for their own Catholic baby homes investigation

National Catholic Reporter

February 2, 2021

By Sahm Venter

The young mother wrapped her baby son in a shawl and carefully pushed a letter to his adoptive parents into a bag stuffed with toys, sweaters and other clothes.

"I lifted him from the nursery, walked up the corridor and handed him to a nun and that was the last I'd seen of him for 40 years," said Adele, who asked to use a pseudonym because of the sensitive nature of her story.

She said that at the age of 18, she had been "shipped off" to the Good Shepherd Sisters' Marianvale Mother and Baby Home in Newry in Northern Ireland.

What struck her immediately as she walked in was the smell of lavender wood polish. She still associates it with the trauma of having to give up her name, and her baby, and of being made to perform Irish dances for the nuns with a group of pregnant women and girls.

Catholic order allows accused child abuser to live by school because of 'locked gate'

Liverpool Echo

February 1, 2021

By Jonathan Humphries

The man was later found to have been accessing the grounds of St Francis Xavier's College anyway

A man accused of sexually abusing boys was allowed to live by school grounds because of a "locked gate" - with the knowledge of the Archdiocese of Liverpool, council and police.

The man, a member of French Catholic order the Brothers of Christian Instruction, had been living in accommodation adjoining the grounds of St Francis Xavier's College (SFX) without the knowledge of the head teacher or governors.

The 'safeguarding plan' was only scrapped when it emerged two fellow brothers had been allowing the unnamed man to access school grounds anyway.

The two men, then deputy head teacher, Brother Peter Tracey, and school chaplain, Brother James Hayes, have since departed the school.

Botched handling of ballot question is a 'kick in the teeth' to survivors of abuse

Crossville Chronicle

February 1, 2021

By John Finnerty


Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar is resigning after administration officials acknowledged Monday that the department had failed to advertise a proposed change to the state Constitution to allow adult survivors of childhood sex abuse to sue the Catholic Church and other organizations that covered up for predators.

Because of the error, the proposed amendment can’t be on the ballot until 2023 due to a requirement that the measure be approved in two consecutive legislative sessions. Failing to properly advertise the proposed change when it first passed the General Assembly in 2019 means that the process must start over at the beginning, the Department of State said in a statement.

Boockvar’s resignation is effective Friday.

Gov. Tom Wolf apologized for the Department of State’s bungling and confirmed that Boockvar’s departure was based on the botched handling of the statute of limitations amendment.

Victim's Advocates Frustrated by Government Failure

Erie News Now

February 1, 2021

By Elspeth Mizner

[Play Video]

Pennsylvania's Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar will resign this week after a crucial crime victim bill, slipped through the cracks on her watch.

This news today is another setback for survivors of sexual abuse.

Paul Lukach, the Executive Director of the Crime Victim Center was stunned when he heard that abuse victims would have to wait years for their days in court.

"I couldn't believe it. This didn't just happen, we thought this was gonna come through. We had enough people on board to make it happen. People were understanding and actually hearing the victims", said Lukach.

Por violación y corrupción de menores, dan 65 años de prisión al cura Luis Esteban Zavala

[For rape and corruption of minors, they give 65 years in prison to priest Luis Esteban Zavala]


January 29, 2021

By Verónica Espinosa

El sacerdote católico Luis Esteban Zavala Rodríguez fue sentenciado a 65 años y tres meses de prisión, al ser encontrado culpable de violación espuria calificada y corrupción de menores

[GOOGLE TRANSLATION: The Catholic priest Luis Esteban Zavala Rodríguez was sentenced to 65 years and three months in prison, when he was found guilty of qualified spurious rape and corruption of minors.]

‘Just sick over it’: Clergy sexual abuse victims, their advocates lament error that derailed Pa. amendment


February 1, 2021

By Deb Erdley


Mark Rozzi was crushed Monday when Gov. Tom Wolf called to tell him an amendment seeking to open a window of opportunity in court for old child sex abuse claims would not make the primary ballot this year because of an advertising oversight.

Rozzi, a state representative from Berks County who has recounted how he was raped by a priest in junior high school, has led the charge to change the law for several years. During that time, he’s become a champion of other survivors who stayed in the shadows for decades.

He thought the measure to create a limited period to allow old claims to be heard in court had gained sufficient traction to change the state law, following the explosive 2018 statewide grand jury report. The grand jury’s investigation detailed allegations of hundreds of incidents of child sexual abuse by Catholic clergy across the state, going back decades.

PA Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar to resign after dept. fails to advertise constitutional amendment


February 1, 2021

By Tyler Galaskas


Pennsylvania Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar is resigning following news that the Department of State failed to advertise a proposed constitutional amendment that would extend retroactively the timeline for victims to file civil actions against their abusers.

Her last day will be Friday, Feb. 5, according to Governor Tom Wolf. The department will immediately institute new controls, including additional tracking and notifications of constitutional amendments, to ensure similar failings do not occur in the future.

“This change at the Department of State has nothing to do with the administration of the 2020 election, which was fair and accurate,” said Gov. Wolf. “The delay caused by this human error will be heartbreaking for thousands of survivors of childhood sexual assault, advocates and legislators, and I join the Department of State in apologizing to you. I share your anger and frustration that this happened, and I stand with you in your fight for justice.”

California bishops challenge state’s extension of statute of limitations for abuse

Catholic News Agency

February 1, 2021

California bishops are asking a judge to overturn a state law that extends the statute of limitations for sexual abuse claims.

The state now allows adult survivors of child sexual abuse to file civil claims in old abuse cases until the age of 40, or five years after an adult survivor realizes they have been abused.

In addition, survivors are eligible under the law for triple damages in the event of an institutional cover up of the abuse. Previously, survivors of child sex abuse had to file civil claims by age 26, or within three years of realizing their abuse.

The new law also created a three-year window for abuse claims beginning on Jan. 1, 2020, in cases where the old statute of limitations had already expired. The legislation, Assembly Bill 218, was signed into law by Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) in Oct., 2019, and went into effect on Jan. 1, 2020.

Opinion: It’s time for Colorado’s Catholic Church to take a moral inventory

Colorado Sun

February 2, 2021

By Bri Buentello

The dialogue about the need for accountability following reports of priestly abuse should also be the catalyst for examining other areas where the church presumes moral authority, including health care.

Growing up in the Catholic faith, several guiding principles were instilled in me, including the sanctity of human life and dignity, that our humanity is measured by the compassion we show the poor and our most vulnerable, and that regardless of our differences, we are all God’s children.

And of course, and perhaps most fundamentally, to trust in God, his plans, and in his holy church.

Like so many in my community, I was horrified by the recent follow-up report in December from Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser about the systemic abuse of children in the state by Catholic clergy, following an earlier report issued in 2019. The two reports say 212 Colorado children were sexually abused by 52 priests from 1950 onward.

'Sexual sadist' priest who locked boy in crypt and watched him shower sent to jail


February 2, 2021

By Hayley Parker

Father Joseph Quigley - former national education advisor for Roman Catholic schools - also beat the boy

A priest who carried out 'depraved' sexual and physical abuse on a boy during a sick six-year ordeal has been jailed for more than 11 years.

Father Joseph Quigley - described as a 'sexual sadist' - committed a catalogue of offences against his teenage victim.

These included:

-- Rubbing the boy's inner thigh after making him wear gym kit;
-- Making him take showers with the door open;
-- Inflicting 'sado-masochistic' punishments on him such as locking him in the church's crypt, a cold and dark room containing tombs;
-- Beating the boy with a hurling stick and;
-- Making the boy do sit-ups and press-ups as punishments, to stand in the corner and suck paracetamols, which have a bitter taste.

The offences took place while he was the parish priest at a church from 2002 until he was forced to resign in disgrace.

[Opinion] Conversion bill debate reveals Church’s hypocrisy

Sydney Morning Herald

February 2, 2021

By Daniel Comensoli

I feel uncomfortable writing this; and wondered whether it was even worth it. But I believe the legislation currently before the Victorian Upper House to prohibit LGBTQA+ conversion practices in Victoria is too important an issue to remain quiet.

The debate on the bill is an issue that is of profound importance to me.

The Victorian Upper House is due to debate the Change or Suppression (Conversion) Practices Prohibition Bill 2020. While not being subject to conversion practices myself, this is an issue that is of profound importance to me. Some of my colleagues and friends have been subject to these practices. However, I am a proud gay man. I also happen to be the nephew of the current Catholic Archbishop of Melbourne, Peter Comensoli.

The bill has been met with fierce opposition by him, as well as other religious leaders and members of the Christian right with the same fear-mongering and disinformation campaign that we have seen before.

While this no longer surprises me, it makes me angry.

German bishops’ summit considers women and lay roles as answer to abuse crisis

Religion News Service

February 1, 2021

By Claire Giangravé

While the summit officially affects only Germany, the bishops' discussions will likely have consequences for the global church.

Germany’s Catholic bishops will resume discussions this week to plan the Synodal Path, a set of conferences slated to address controversial questions such as women’s roles and LGBTQ acceptance, even as the country faces yet another scandal of sexual abuse by clergy.

Many churchmen believe that the social questions and the abuse crisis are related. “The abuse crisis hurts the church very deeply,” the Rev. Martin Maier, a Jesuit priest and former editor at the German Catholic magazine Voices of the Time (Stimmen der Zeit), told Religion News Service. “One of the most painful consequences is the loss of trust. One of the goals of the Synodal Path is to restore trust, which is crucial and vital.”

Started in 2019 and scheduled to last two years, Synodal Path was put on hold in September 2020 as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Its purpose is to debate questions of power structures in the Catholic Church, priestly life, sexual morality and the role of women in the church.

While the bishops’ summit officially considers only Germany’s local dioceses and parishes, the discussions and decisions will likely have consequences around the global church. Bishops from Australia to South America and Ireland are grappling with the devastating impact that the sexual abuse crisis has had, as well as with mounting secularization that has depleted church attendance and vocations.

Pedophile former priest evades justice in Timor-Leste

UCA News

February 2, 2021

By Rock Ronald Rozario

Despite his crimes, American Richard Daschbach enjoys celebrity status in the tiny Catholic-majority nation

Richard Daschbach might be 84, defrocked from the priesthood and under house arrest in Timor-Leste capital Dili, but he continues to make a buzz in the tiny Catholic-majority Southeast Asian nation.

The self-proclaimed pedophile and former priest from the Society of the Divine Word congregation has hit the headlines again in Timor-Leste and beyond.

On Jan. 26, former president Xanana Gusmao visited the American to greet him on his birthday and pose for photos in what some believe was a political stunt by the former guerrilla leader turned politician.

The news of the visit was widely covered by news outlets including state-run news agency Tatoli.

Most reports covered the life and work of Daschbach in detail, including his contributions to the country’s independence struggle and support for marginalized people. However, little to nothing was mentioned about his crimes of sexual abuse of dozens of girls and pornography that led to his dismissal from the priesthood by the Vatican in 2018. Neither did they say that he is wanted in the United States for fraud.

Record numbers leave Church in Cologne as anger grows

The Tablet

February 1, 2021

By Christa Pongratz-Lippitt

Anger is increasing in the Cologne archdiocese over Cardinal Rainer Maria Woelki’s refusal to publish the results of the investigation into the handling of abuse cases, as record numbers of Catholics opt to quit the Church.

The number of Catholics officially leaving the Church has increased at an unprecedented rate, by 70 per cent, and is now a record 1000 a month.

In order to leave the Church in Germany and stop having to pay 8-9 per cent of net income in compulsory church tax which is collected at source, Catholics have to make an appointment with their municipal office and state that they intend to leave in writing.

[Opinion] North Dakota Legislature Feels Ire of Catholic League

Catholic League (blog)

January 21, 2021

Catholic League president Bill Donohue comments on the initial success of efforts to protect religious liberty in North Dakota:

Yesterday, I sent a letter to the North Dakota legislature regarding SB 2180. This legislation would break the seal of the confessional and is nothing more than a direct assault on our faith. However, thanks to the support of our members, the sponsors of this bill have come to feel the ire of the Catholic League, and the viability of the legislation is in peril.

Not long after receiving my letter, one of the North Dakota House co-sponsors, Rep. Michael D. Brandenburg, sent me an email stating he will no longer support the bill and intends to vote against it. Rep. Brandenburg’s heroic decision to reverse course and stand with those who support religious liberty delivers a severe blow to this anti-Catholic legislation and harms its ability to become law.

[Opinion] Port: Catholics win the 'liberty' to keep silent about child abuse


February 1, 2021

By Rob Port

People who are committed to protecting children actually protect them. They don't hide behind religious dogmas, however long-standing.

MINOT, N.D. — Catholics and other supposed proponents of "religious liberty" are crowing about the defeat of Senate Bill 2180.

The legislation introduced by Sen. Judy Lee, R-Fargo, would have crossed out a clergy exemption to a state law mandating reporting of child abuse. Lee ultimately withdrew the bill after a pressure campaign organized by lobbyists for the Catholic Church and other interests.

If you want to understand why so many Americans have turned away from religion, generally, and Catholicism, specifically, one need look no further than the Diocese of Fargo’s Bishop John Folda spiking the football because his priests won't have report child abusers.

“It really was an assault on our practice of the faith, not just for Catholics but for any people of faith,” he said, according to my fellow columnist, Roxane Salonen.

“It’s not the first time in history civil authorities have tried to use the life of the church for their own ends, and that’s kind of what was going on here,” he continued, adding that his church is “utterly and completely committed to protecting children."

February 1, 2021

[Media Statement] SOL Reform Sabotaged by Clerical Error in Pennsylvania, SNAP Responds

SNAP (Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests)

February 1, 2021

Statute of limitations (SOL) reform has hit another obstacle in Pennsylvania, this time due to a devastating clerical mistake that will set back recently-passed reforms until at least 2023. While this news is awful and disheartening, we hope that this terrible situation will not damper the spirits of the survivors and advocates who have fought for this critical reform.

Due to a failure to advertise the proposed constitutional amendment that would pave the way for survivors of sexual abuse to have their day in court, the Pennsylvania Department of State has dealt a serious blow to SOL reform efforts in Pennsylvania.

“This is numbing news,” said Mike McDonnell, leader of SNAP Philadelphia. “But I want to encourage survivors who have fought for this reform to hang in there. We have been through other fierce battles and kept fighting, and this one is no different.”

A Pa. Dept. of State error means some sex-abuse victims will again have to wait for justice

Spotlight PA via Philadelphia Inquirer

February 1, 2021

by Angela Couloumbis


Pennsylvania’s top election official will resign after her agency made a mistake that will delay a statewide vote on whether survivors of decades-old sexual abuse should be able to sue the perpetrators and institutions that covered up the crimes.

Secretary Kathy Boockvar, who oversaw a tense and difficult presidential election in the battleground state, will resign Feb. 5, Gov. Tom Wolf announced Monday. Spotlight PA first reported the news.

The resignation follows the discovery that the Department of State did not advertise, as required, a long-sought amendment to the state constitution that would open a two-year window for litigation by survivors of child sexual abuse who have aged out of the statute of limitations.

State agency bungles ballot referendum for child sex victims

Associated Press

February 1, 2021

By Mark Scolforo and Marc Levy

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — Some victims of child sexual abuse might have to wait two years or more to pursue legal claims because of a major bureaucratic bungle that prompted angry denunciations across the political spectrum Monday and the resignation of Pennsylvania’s top state elections official.

A proposed state constitutional amendment allowing lawsuits for otherwise outdated claims was not advertised as required and so cannot appear on the ballot this spring, the Wolf administration disclosed.

The Pennsylvania Department of State in a news release called it “simple human error” and apologized, saying the mistake was discovered late last week. As a result, Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar is leaving her job, and both the inspector general and the Legislature will be looking into the matter.

“The delay caused by this human error will be heartbreaking for thousands of survivors of childhood sexual assault, advocates and legislators, and I join the Department of State in apologizing to you,” Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf said in a statement. “I share your anger and frustration that this happened, and I stand with you in your fight for justice.”

Pennsylvania official at center of Trump election concerns resigns

New York Post

February 1, 2021

By Steven Nelson

The Pennsylvania secretary of state who emerged as a villain to supporters of former President Donald Trump said Monday she will resign for failing to comply with an unrelated state election law.

Kathy Boockvar, a Democrat, will leave office on Feb. 5. Her office botched the handling of a state constitutional amendment that would allow more sexual abuse victims to sue their alleged abusers.

In a statement, she said, “I’ve always believed that accountability and leadership must be a cornerstone of public service. While I only became aware of the mistake last week, and immediately took steps to alert the administration to the error, I accept the responsibility on behalf of the department.”

Kathy Boockvar to resign as Pa.'s secretary of state over amendment issue

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

February 1, 2021

By Julian Routh and Peter Smith

Pennsylvania Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar will soon resign after her department failed to advertise an amendment to the state's constitution extending the statute of limitations for child sex abuse victims to file actions in civil court against their abusers, Gov. Tom Wolf announced Monday.

Her resignation will take effect on Friday, Mr. Wolf said.

The omission is a stunning setback in an effort by victims of sexual abuse by Catholic priests and others to gain a window of time in which they could sue over abuse that happened years or decades ago, beyond what the current statute of limitations allows.

The effort, building on grand jury reports in 2016 and 2018 on the long histories of abuse in Catholic dioceses around the state, would have enabled victims to sue dioceses or others deemed complicit in the abuse.

“We trusted the process, and it failed us again,” said James Faluszczak, a former priest of the Diocese of Erie and himself a survivor of clergy sexual abuse, who was a witness before a grand jury that issued a report on six dioceses in 2018.”

The department was constitutionally required to advertise the proposed constitutional amendment — which voters would have eventually decided at the ballot box — in each of the three months before the 2020 general election, but never did, Mr. Wolf's office said in a statement.

If the resolution would have been advertised by the state and greenlighted by voters, it would have amended Article I of the state's constitution to say, "An individual for whom a statutory limitations period has already expired shall have a period of two years from the time that this subsection becomes effective to commence an action arising from childhood sexual abuse, in such cases as provided by law at the time that this subsection becomes effective."

“The delay caused by this human error will be heartbreaking for thousands of survivors of childhood sexual assault, advocates and legislators, and I join the Department of State in apologizing to you," Mr. Wolf said. "I share your anger and frustration that this happened, and I stand with you in your fight for justice."

Veronica Degraffenreid, a special adviser to the department on election modernization, will serve as acting secretary of the commonwealth, Mr. Wolf's office said. In response to the failure, the state department will institute "additional tracking and notifications of constitutional amendments," according to the statement, and the Pennsylvania Office of State Inspector General will review what happened.

The amendment was in its final stages before going to voters. The state House had given its final approval last month, giving it approval in the second consecutive legislation session, as required. If the state Senate were to follow, the proposal could have been on the election ballot for approval by voters in the May 18 primary.

Attorney General Josh Shapiro called the state department’s failure “shameful,” and said “all options must be on the table to fix this immediately.”

“Too many institutions have failed survivors of sexual abuse for far too long, and I am determined for that disgraceful streak to end and to make sure justice is no longer denied,” Mr. Shapiro said in a statement.

The governor said he'd commit to working with the state legislature to reach a solution legislatively — if they wanted to create a window in civil court for victims of child sex abuse to file claims.

Mr. Shapiro echoed that sentiment, and said he made clear from the beginning that the constitutional amendment process was an “unnecessary hurdle.” He urged the Legislature to pass the reform into law.

Democrats in the state Senate said that instead of starting over the constitutional amendment process again — which would require passing a bill in its identical form in two consecutive sessions — the legislature should statutorily create the window for claims. They plan to introduce the bill themselves that would "establish a 2-year civil window for survivors of childhood sexual assault with expired claims to bring suit against their abusers," according to a legislative memo uploaded to the chamber's website on Monday.

"If we continue with the constitutional amendment process, it will be at least another 2 years until the window would be created and that’s simply too long," said Senate Minority Leader Jay Costa, D-Forest Hills, calling the state department's failure a "disappointing setback in the process to create the window to justice.”

"A legislative solution can create the window immediately,” he said, “and I’m encouraging bipartisan and bicameral support for the bill that members of our caucus is going to introduce. Survivors need justice now.”

According to the Democrats' memo, the legislature debated last session whether a constitutional amendment was necessary for the issue at hand, and opted not to adopt an amendment that would have established the civil window statutorily.

"Since then, subsequent court cases have demonstrated the legality of providing a retroactive window statutorily, rather than through a constitutional amendment," the memo read. "The civil window is supported by Pennsylvania’s Attorney General and has been upheld in seven other states."

The 2018 grand jury report accused 300 priests of sexual abuse across seven decades in six dioceses, including Pittsburgh and Greensburg. It followed a similar report in 2016 on a seventh diocese, Altoona-Johnstown.

Legislative efforts to pass a window in the statute of limitations failed in 2018, in part due to objections that such a look back would violate the state constitution, although other states have allowed them. That led to a new strategy in 2019 to initiate a constitutional amendment, even though some doubted its need.

“The goal of survivors has always been to have a window,” Mr. Faluszczak said on Twitter. “Most of us said we'd give the ... amendment process a chance, even though it was constitutionally unnecessary.”

The Diocese of Pittsburgh and most other Pennsylvania dioceses launched compensation funds after the 2018 grand jury report, seeking to reach out-of-court settlements with victims that would, among other things, reduce their exposure to lawsuits if a window were authorized.

Many victims, meanwhile, have already sued over long-ago abuse under a legal theory that alleges long-running conspiracy and fraud by dioceses. The state Supreme Court is weighing those arguments in a precedent-setting case.

Vatican office admits silence about children of priests was a mistake

National Catholic Reporter

February 1, 2021

By Elisabeth Auvillain

A Vatican office has acknowledged that the Catholic Church erred over previous decades in asking its members to keep silent when they heard about priests fathering children.

"Before our times, the Church did like most institutions and avoided addressing publicly matters regarding its members' behavior, about which it kept silent," Norbertine Fr. Bernard Ardura, president of the Pontifical Committee for Historical Sciences, said in a document published last week.

"This was a mistake, which can be explained by the context, but it remains a mistake," said Ardura.

The priest, whose office is responsible for fostering cooperation between the Vatican and outside historians, was writing in a letter to Vincent Doyle, the child of a priest in Ireland and the leader of Coping International, a global campaign for the recognition of priests' children. Doyle's organization has posted the letter, written in French, on its website.

[Opinion] ‘Seal of confession’ threat withdrawal astute

Duluth News Tribune

February 1, 2021

By Roxane Salonen

Under canon law, Catholic priests are forbidden from breaking the “seal of confession” by revealing what they’ve heard in the confessional. Doing so leads to automatic excommunication. Additionally, removing the assurance of confidentiality would have inhibited criminals from coming forward to confess their sins, and deter others from this sacrament of healing.

North Dakota Senate Bill 2180 was withdrawn for legislative consideration Friday, bringing a victory for religious freedom. The bill, if approved, could have turned some pastors into criminals, not for their own sins, but for complying with the divine duty of hearing other’s sins — and not divulging them.

Prior to the withdrawal, Chris Dodson of the North Dakota Catholic Conference said North Dakotans had been responding “en masse against this bill,” while “the eyes of the nation …” watched.

The bill zeroed in on the reporting of abuse, removing an exemption for clergy who garner such information specifically in their role as spiritual adviser. Spiritual ministers are already included among those mandated to report knowledge or suspicion of abuse.

Retired Grimsby priest accused of further historic sex attacks on boys

Grimsby Telegraph

February 1, 2021

New charges were put to Father Terry Atkinson who worked previously at the Shalom Youth Project, on Grimsby's East Marsh

A former Church of England priest accused of sex attacks on young boys faced further new charges when he appeared before Lincoln Crown Court.

Father Terence Atkinson, 68, is now accused of offences against seven different complainants over a 21 year period..

He was formerly involved with St Johns and St Stephens Church Centre, which is now known as the Shalom Youth Project, on the East Marsh estate in Grimsby.

Atkinson, of Tetney Road, Humberston, pleaded not guilty to a total of 13 charges of indecent assault on a male person at his court appearance today, Monday, February 1.

Priests charged with sexual abuse of altar boy to face formal charges

Malta Today

February 1, 2021

Court rules there is enough evidence for Attorney General to issue a bill of indictment against Fr Joseph Sultana and Fr Joseph Cini, accused of sexually abusing an altar boy

By Kurt Sansone

A magistrate has ruled that there is enough evidence for the Attorney General to issue a bill of indictment against two priests accused of sexually abusing an altar boy.

Fr Joseph Sultana, 84, and Fr Joseph Cini, 70, were remanded in custody as the compilation of evidence against them continued today.

Cini is also charged with raping the boy, who is now 24. The abuse happened when the victim was eight or nine.

At the end of today's sitting, Magistrate Monica Vella said the court had seen sufficient evidence for a bill of indictment to be issued by the Attorney General.

Priests urge Cologne cardinal to resign in sexual abuse report crisis

Irish Times

January 31, 2021

By Derek Scally

Decision to suppress a critical report opposed by over 30 priests in the archdiocese

Priests in Cologne’s Catholic archdiocese are demanding their archbishop resign for suppressing a critical report into clerical sexual abuse in the western German diocese.

The growing crisis in the powerful western diocese has taken on fresh urgency after claims that Cardinal Rainer Maria Woelki ignored church guidelines rather than report a friend’s sexual abuse record to Rome.

The case involves a priest friend who had convictions for sexually abusing young boys in the 1970s. Instead of reporting that and other abuse cases to Rome, in line with new church guidelines, Woelki reportedly held back his friend’s file, citing the poor health of the priest – who died in 2017.

A steady drip of allegations prompted a priest in the Cologne archdiocese to write a letter, published

Child abuse in the Spanish Catholic Church: ‘In Spain, no one does anything’

El País English

February 1, 2021

By Iñigo Domínguez and Julio Núñes

After the Jesuits admitted to cases of pedophilia, other religious orders have followed suit, for a total of 126 priests and more than 500 victims, according to EL PAÍS’ count

More cases of child abuse by the Spanish Catholic Church are slowly coming to light. After the Society of Jesus, commonly known as the Jesuits, recognized 81 victims since 1927 and announced plans for compensation, other religious congregations have begun to follow the order’s example. EL PAÍS spoke to 10 of the main Catholic orders in Spain, of which seven said they had carried out or were in the process of investigating past cases of abuse, and were equally open to compensating victims.

These investigations, however, are not in-depth internal inquiries, but rather a review of existing archives. Importantly too, the findings have not been made public and are still far from reflecting the extent of the abuse by the Catholic Church, compared to the advances made in other countries such as Germany, where an external audit found that 3,677 minors had been abused by members of the Church.

Of the 10 orders consulted, three – the Marist Brothers, De La Salle Brothers and the Order of Saint Augustine – continue to refuse to investigate allegations of abuse. The remaining seven admitted to 61 cases of pedophile priests, 42 of which were unknown until now. If this number is added to the findings from the Jesuits’ inquiry – 65 cases, 54 of them unknown until now, according to EL PAÍS’ estimates – the Catholic orders have admitted to 126 cases of pedophile priests. Of this figure, 96 had been buried until now. The figures elevate the number of victims of the Spanish Catholic Church to more than 500, according to a count from EL PAÍS, based on criminal sentences, media reports and the newspaper’s own investigations.

Australia media to plead guilty to breach of gag order on Pell conviction


February 1, 2021

By Sonali Paul

A dozen Australian media firms have agreed to plead guilty for breaching a suppression order on reporting on the trial and conviction of former Vatican treasurer George Pell in 2018 for child sexual assault, a court heard on Monday.

Pell was cleared last year of the sexual abuse charges after spending 13 months in prison.

The cardinal was found guilty by a jury in December 2018 of sexually assaulting two choirboys, making him the highest-ranking Catholic official convicted on child sex crimes.

Reporting on the trial and verdict was gagged Australia-wide by the County Court of Victoria to ensure the cardinal got a fair trial on further charges he was due to face. Those charges were later dropped.

Church to study interim reports

NZ Catholic

February 1, 2021

Catholic Church leaders in New Zealand will carefully study the interim reports of the Royal Commission on Abuse in Care, to learn lessons that will help the Church continue to better address the way it deals with complaints and prevent abuse.

The royal commission published its first interim reports on December 16.

“These reports will contain much important information and guidance that follow on from what survivors have told the commissioners about their experiences,” said Catherine Fyfe, chair of the Church’s Te Rōpū Tautoko agency.

“Church leaders will be discussing these reports widely, with the aim of looking at how we can continue to improve the way we help people who have been abused, and the systems we have in place to prevent further abuse.”

Listening to survivor testimonies painful

NZ Catholic

February 1, 2021

By Rowena Orejana

The New Zealand Catholic Church needs to show mercy, take responsibility, and accompany abuse survivors.

This was the reaction of Te Kupenga – Catholic Theological College lecturer and abuse survivor Dr Rocio Figueroa to the “heart-wrenching testimonies” of abuse survivors at the royal commission on abuse in care hearings held from November 30 to December 4, 2020.

“It caused me deep pain, not only to listen to the stories of each of the testimonies [of people] who suffered the most atrocious abuses when they were innocent kids, but also to listen to the lack of response or hopeless way in which, many times, we have handled the disclosure within our communities,” Dr Figueroa said.

“As a member or the Catholic Church, I regret our poor response, and I apologise for all that we could have done and we have not done,” she said.