ABUSE TRACKER

A digest of links to media coverage of clergy abuse. For recent coverage listed in this blog, read the full article in the newspaper or other media source by clicking “Read original article.” For earlier coverage, click the title to read the original article.

March 2, 2024

After 5 Runaways, Boarding School Drawing Attention

PIEDMONT (MO)
Wayne County Journal Banner [Piedmont MO]

February 28, 2024

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ABM Ministries/Lighthouse Christian Academy has operated quietly in Wayne County for over two decades. In recent weeks, the Christian boys’ home has been under the microscope after 5 students have run away. [To read the rest of this front-page story, click here.]

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SNAP says: It matters when survivors of sexual abuse speak out!

CHICAGO (IL)
SNAP - Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests [Chicago IL]

March 1, 2024

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Former Connecticut State Representative John Metsopoulos reported sexual, psychological, and physical abuse by two Greek Orthodox bishops on the SNAP website in November of 2023. His outcry has apparently produced repercussions for one of the two prelates. We are very happy for John!

John named Metropolitan Athenagoras Aneste (George Angelo Aneste), the Greek Orthodox Metropolitan of Mexico and Central America, as his primary abuser. A metropolitan is the equivalent of an archbishop or a cardinal. According to the January 24, 2024, issue of Orthodox Timesa new metropolitan was elected for Mexico, and Metropolitan Athenagoras was elected as the new metropolitan of Vize, Turkey. As far as we can tell this is a significant demotion.

According to Pew Research, the Orthodox population of Mexico is 110,000. There are almost no Greek Orthodox faithful in Turkey. Politico noted in 2020 that even the larger city…

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Former Central DeWitt teacher pleads guilty to sexual exploitation

DEWITT (IA)
WQAD 8 [Moline, IL]

March 1, 2024

By Nora Reichardt

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Cody LaKose was sentenced to 45 days in jail, and he will also be required to register as a sex offender.

A former DeWitt high school teacher has been sentenced to jail after pleading guilty to sexual exploitation of a minor.

According to court records, former Central DeWitt High School teacher Cody LaKose pled guilty to three counts of sexual exploitation by a school employee on Wednesday, Feb. 21. Two additional counts of the same charges were dropped.

LaKose was sentenced to 45 days in jail on all three counts, with the sentences running concurrently. 

LaKose was employed as a science teacher at Central Dewitt in 2017 when court records say he allegedly groomed an underage female student into a sexual relationship. LaKose resigned from Central DeWitt in 2018.

An investigation was launched into the incident on March 2, 2022, after the victim came to the DeWitt Police Department with…

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Understanding the Utter Dysfunction of the Vatican’s Response to Sex Abuse Scandals by Catholic Clergy

VATICAN CITY (VATICAN CITY)
Milwaukee Independent [Milwaukee WI]

March 2, 2024

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One afternoon in mid-December, Pope Francis had a meeting that was not on his official agenda or otherwise recorded, that underscored the utter dysfunction of the Catholic Church’s response to the global clergy sex abuse scandal.

In the main reception room of the Vatican hotel where he lives, Francis met for more than an hour with a Spaniard who as a young seminarian was molested by his spiritual director. The former seminarian was desperate.

He had lodged a complaint with the Toledo, Spain Archdiocese in 2009, and visited Vatican offices multiple times to deposit damning documents and demand action be taken against his abuser and the bishops who allegedly covered for him. But for 15 years, he had received no justice from the church.

While Francis’ decision to hear his story was laudable and pastorally sensitive, it was also evidence that the church’s in-house system to deal with abuse isn’t…

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Report: Church Militant loses defamation suit

MANCHESTER (NH)
Religion News Service - Missouri School of Journalism [Columbia MO]

March 1, 2024

By Aleja Hertzler-McCain

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The law firm for the priest who sued the outlet says Church Militant will cease publication at the end of April.

Church Militant, the far-right Catholic media network, will cease operating at the end of April 2024, according to a press release issued Friday (March 1) by the law firm Todd & Weld LLP.

The law firm announced that Church Militant, operated by St. Michael’s Media, had lost a defamation lawsuit to the Rev. Georges de Laire, a canon lawyer and priest in the Diocese of Manchester, New Hampshire. Church Militant agreed to pay $500,000 and apologize to de Laire, said the law firm, which represented de Laire.

On Jan. 17, 2019, Church Militant published an anonymously written story titled, “NH Vicar Changes Dogma Into Heresy,” about de Laire. After de Laire sued the outlet for defamation, the author of the article was revealed to be Marc Balestrieri, a canon lawyer…

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Former priest changes plea in 4-year-old case of sexually assaulting Fresno parishioners

FRESNO (CA)
Fresno Bee [Fresno CA]

March 1, 2024

By Robert Rodriguez, The Fresno Bee

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A former Anglican priest who is charged with sexually assaulting nearly a dozen male members of his Fresno parish under the guise of spiritual healing has agreed to a plea agreement with prosecutors.

Jesus Antonio Castaneda Serna, 56, has pleaded no contest to nine counts of sexual assault and one count of attempting to prevent a witness from testifying. The remaining 12 counts will be dropped.

Serna, who headed the Nuestra Senora de Guadalupe church in Fresno, was arrested in February 2019 and accused of preying on his male parishioners, many whom were not documented and had sought help with personal problems.

Serna convinced them that by fondling their genitals he was performing a spiritual ritual to help overcome their problems.

He was charged with 22 counts of sexual assault and was facing 26 years and six months in prison.

But the case lagged in the court…

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Former San Joaquin priest pleads no contest to sexual assault charges

FRESNO (CA)
Anglican.ink - AnglicanTV Ministries [Webster FL]

March 1, 2024

By George Conger

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A former priest of the Anglican Diocese of San Joaquin, Jesus Antonio Serna, has entered into a plea agreement with prosecutors in Fresno over charges he sexually assaulted members of his parish.

Serna, 56, entered a plea of no contest to nine counts of sexual assault and one count of witness tampering. Twelve other counts of assault will be dismissed. In return for his plea, prosecutors agreed not to seek a possible 26 year sentence, but have agreed to a sentence of no more than ten years in prison.

In February 2019 Serna was arrested by police and charged with 26 counts of sexual assault. He was accused of assaulting male members of his congregation, Nuestra Senora de Guadalupe church in Fresno. He told his victims that by fondling their genitals he was performing a spiritual ritual to drive away evil. 

The Anglican Diocese of San Joaquin relieved Serna of…

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Survivors of Archdiocese of Baltimore Sexual Abuse as Children Only Have 3 Months Remaining to File Claims in Bankruptcy Court

BALTIMORE (MD)
About Lawsuits [Baltimore, MD]

March 1, 2024

By Russell Maas

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Archdiocese of Baltimore bankruptcy filing has resulted in a deadline of May 31, for individuals who were sexually abused by priests or clergy to present claims

Following the release of a four year-long investigation by the Maryland Attorney General’s Office early last year, which highlighted an extensive history of childhood sexual abuse in the Archdiocese of Baltimore, hundreds of survivors are now coming forward to pursue financial compensation before a May 31, 2024 deadline established by a U.S. bankruptcy court.

While many of these childhood sexual abuse claims were previously barred by the Maryland statute of limitations, since it often takes survivors decades to come forward and address what happened to them as children. Recognizing this injustice, Governor Moore and the state legislature passed the Child Victims Act of 2023 in April, 2023 just days after the findings of the Attorney General were released.

The…

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Further details of retired Bishop Christopher Saunders’ court case revealed after suppression order lifted

(AUSTRALIA)
Australian Broadcasting Corporation - ABC [Sydney, Australia]

February 29, 2024

By Erin Parke and Rosanne Maloney

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  • In short: Details of sexual abuse allegations against former Bishop of Broome Christopher Saunders have been revealed for the first time after the lifting of a suppression order.
  • The 26 charges against him include two counts of sexual penetration without consent, three counts of indecent dealings with a child and 14 counts of unlawful and indecent assault.
  • What’s next? Bishop Saunders remains on bail, and is due to face court again in June.

Details of charges against former Bishop of Broome Christopher Saunders can be revealed for the first time, after the retired cleric failed in his bid to prevent their publication.

Bishop Saunders was arrested at his home in Broome on February 21 and charged with 19 sexual offences.

At his first court appearance the following day, his lawyer Seamus Rafferty indicated 74-year-old would plead not guilty to all charges.

He also requested a suppression order restricting coverage of proceedings, telling the…

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Court documents allege cult-like teachings from Wichita Falls pastor

WICHITA FALLS (TX)
KFDX/KJTL [Wichita Falls, TX]

March 1, 2024

By Joshua Hoggard

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The pastor of a local congregation who is awaiting trial for child sex crimes is also accused of alarming teachings at his church, according to recently filed court documents.

Ronnie Allen Killingsworth, 78, of Wichita Falls, is charged with six counts of indecency with a child by sexual contact. His trial has been specially set to begin on Tuesday, April 30, 2024, in the 78th District Court, with Judge Meredith Kennedy presiding.

THE LATEST: Details of child sex crime charges against Wichita Falls pastor released

On Tuesday, February 27, 2024, officials with the Tarrant County Criminal District Attorney’s Office, tasked with prosecuting the case against Killingsworth, filed a notice filled with multiple alleged bad acts or offenses they intend to introduce into evidence.

In addition to previously unreleased details regarding the allegations against Killingsworth, the prosecution listed several of his teachings in the notice of bad…

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Details of child sex crime charges against Wichita Falls pastor released

WICHITA FALLS (TX)
KFDX/KJTL [Wichita Falls, TX]

March 1, 2024

By Joshua Hoggard

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Recently filed court documents reveal more details of the allegations against a local pastor charged with sex crimes against several children.

THE LATEST: Court documents allege cult-like teachings from Ronnie Killingsworth

Ronnie Allen Killingsworth, 78, of Wichita Falls, is charged with six counts of indecency with a child by sexual contact. The indictment alleged Killingsworth committed sex crimes against three different female victims under the age of 17 over the course of eleven years.

On Tuesday, February 27, 2024, officials with the Tarrant County Criminal District Attorney’s Office, tasked with prosecuting the case against Killingsworth, filed a notice filled with multiple alleged bad acts or offenses they intend to introduce into evidence.

New details of Killingsworth’s charges released

The state’s notice filed on Tuesday includes previously unreleased details on the indecency charges pending against Killingsworth, the longtime “Pastor-Teacher” of Rephidim Church, a non-affiliated…

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March 1, 2024

Priest accused of abusing Inuit children in Canada will not be dismissed by church

(CANADA)
The Guardian [London, England]

February 29, 2024

By Leyland Cecco

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Senior church officials in Rome decline to act, citing worsening health of French clergyman known as ‘devil priest’

A French clergyman dubbed the “devil priest” who stands accused of sexually abusing Inuit children in Canada’s north will not be dismissed from his congregation after senior church officials in Rome declined to act, citing the nonagenarian’s declining health.

Johannes Rivoire, a priest with the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate, worked in several Canadian Arctic communities in the 1960s and 70s before returning to France in 1993.

Police laid charges against Rivoire following accusations of sexual assault in the communities of Arviat, Rankin Inlet and Naujaat. But the charges were later stayed, largely due to France’s longstanding policy of not extraditing its citizens to face charges abroad. Rivoire, now in his mid-90s, remains the subject of a Canada-wide arrest warrant.

In 2021, the Inuk elder Peter Irniq told APTN News that his friend Marius Tungilik…

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Vatican’s new whistleblower procedure is a good start, but needs adjustment

VATICAN CITY (VATICAN CITY)
National Catholic Reporter [Kansas City MO]

March 1, 2024

By Gordon Schnell

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Calling all whistleblowers. The Vatican wants to hear from you! This comes from the Vatican’s recent push to bring whistleblowers into the holy fold to help the church clean house. It is a big move for an institution historically averse to dealing so openly with misbehavior within its ranks. But there are limits to how far the church seems willing to go with its warm whistleblower embrace.

Most recently is the whistleblower procedure the Vatican implemented on Feb. 1, which provides formal guidelines for the Vatican’s official enlistment of church insiders to help uncover fraud and corruption. According to Vatican News, the new procedure “will facilitate the dissemination of knowledge and the possibility of ‘whistleblowing,’ or raising concerns about potential abuses, in force in the legislation of the Holy See and Vatican City State. This is one of the most effective tools for combating corruption.”

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Veteran mediator tapped in Archdiocese of New Orleans bankruptcy. Is a turning point coming?

NEW ORLEANS (LA)
Nola.com [New Orleans, LA]

February 29, 2024

By Stephanie Riegel

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John W. Perry, a seasoned and highly respected mediator of complex litigation in Louisiana, has been tapped to help the parties in the long-running Archdiocese of New Orleans bankruptcy case work towards a settlement — a development that could signal a turning point as the case approaches its fourth anniversary.

U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Meredith Grabill appointed Perry on Wednesday, following an hour-long hearing during which attorneys for the archdiocese, survivors of clergy sex abuse, and trade creditors exhibited a rare moment of solidarity.

“He is the man we all wanted,” said attorney Douglas Draper, who represents the archdiocesan affiliates — parishes, schools and charitable organizations.  “That is unprecedented in the case.”

Perry’s appointment comes nearly four years after the nation’s second-oldest archdiocese filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy court protection amid mounting claims of child sex abuse by local clergy. Since the May 2020 filing, more than 500 claims have been submitted, many…

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Belgian bishops face bruising questions at abuse inquiry

BRUSSELS (BELGIUM)
The Tablet [Market Harborough, England]

March 1, 2024

By Tom Heneghan

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Bishop Johan Bonny of Antwerp said he was tired of hearing criticism of the Church when it had introduced more reform than other public bodies.

Senior Belgian bishops faced a hostile reception at a national commission on abuse in the Church, where federal deputies expressed disbelief at their apologies.

The meeting became so tense that the Bishop of Antwerp Johan Bonny riposted he was tired of hearing so much criticism of the Church when it had introduced far more reforms than public entities.

The session on 23 February was the latest stage in a sharpening debate about abuse since the television mini-series Gotvergeten (“Forgotten by God”) last September shone a critical light on years of cover-ups.

Bishop Bonny joined the Archbishop of Brussels Luc Terlinden and other prelates to apologise once again for the abuse and tried to explain how the Church responded to the scandal since it broke in 2010.

“We heard that…

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Baltimore reaches proposed settlement with Church Militant over protest permit

BALTIMORE (MD)
Baltimore Sun [Baltimore MD]

March 1, 2024

By Jonathan M. Pitts

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The city of Baltimore plans to pay $275,000 to settle a lay Catholic organization’s lawsuit over the city’s attempt to block it from holding a 2021 rally on the grounds that the event could create a risk of a violent disruption.

St. Michael’s Media, also known as Church Militant, is a nonprofit digital media outlet based in Michigan. It sued the city regarding its plans to hold a “prayer rally” at MECU Pavilion, a city-owned, open-air auditorium on the Inner Harbor, on Nov. 16, 2021.

The proposed settlement with Baltimore is outlined in the agenda for the next meeting of the city’s Board of Estimates, which is scheduled to vote Wednesday on whether to approve it.

The group, which is unaffiliated with the Catholic Church, bills itself as “a bastion of Catholic truth and a light to the faithful in hard times.” It is known for its frequent criticism of…

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Washington bill mandating clergy report child abuse dies amid debate over seal of confession

OLYMPIA (WA)
Christian Post [Washington DC]

March 1, 2024

By Michael Gryboski

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Washington state lawmakers have again failed to pass a law that mandates clergy reporting of abuse amid concerns that it did not offer legal protection for Catholic confessionals.

Senate Bill 6298, which passed the Democrat-controlled Washington State Senate in a vote of 44-5 earlier this month, was defeated last week in the Washington House Committee on Human Services, Youth & Early Learning, reported Oregon Public Radio.

While the bill received bipartisan support in the Washington Senate, all five lawmakers voting against it were Republicans. 

A major point of contention was the legislation lacking an exemption for the Catholic Church’s sacramental practice of the confessional, in which actions confessed are meant to be confidential.

The Senate version of the bill, which passed in early February, exempted clergy from mandatory reporting if they heard of abuse exclusively in the confessional but required it should they hear about…

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Force of Habit: Liev Schreiber and Amy Ryan on Their Timely New Revival of Doubt: A Parable

NEW YORK (NY)
Vogue [New York NY]

March 1, 2024

By CHRISTOPHER BARNARD

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In the roughly six months after Doubt: A Parable premiered off-Broadway in 2004, the play swept the Tony Awards and won its author, John Patrick Shanley, the Pulitzer Prize for Drama. Arriving amid a wave of sexual abuse cases involving the Catholic church, the story of a priest accused of just that at a Bronx middle school in the 1960s teemed with relevance. (A 2008 film starring Meryl Streep, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Amy Adams, and Viola Davis—all nominated for Academy Awards—would later bring the story of Sister Aloysius’s crusade against Father Flynn to an even wider audience.) Now, as a new revival starring Liev Schreiber, Amy Ryan, Zoe Kazan, and Quincy Tyler Bernstine prepares to open on March 7, the ambitious questions at Doubt’s center still feel as relevant as ever.

Sister Aloysius (Ryan) is a hardened nun with a hunch: She suspects that Father Flynn (Schreiber) molested Donald Muller, the…

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This Chicago-based Catholic order is keeping secrets about child-molesting clergy around the United States

CHICAGO (IL)
Chicago Sun-Times [Chicago IL]

March 1, 2024

By Robert Herguth

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The Servites order has had numerous priests and brothers accused of sexual abuse and faces an onslaught of new lawsuits. But, unlike many dioceses and orders, the group has no public list of members deemed to have been credibly accused of sexual abuse. And other church lists are incomplete. Key findings

  • The Order of Friar Servants of Mary, commonly known as the Servites, has its U.S. headquarters in Chicago, but it maintains no public list of credibly accused members despite calls for transparency.
  • One church watchdog group counts 11 Servites accused of child sex abuse over the years, and the order has been accused of covering up for some offenders.
  • Ther are at least nine pending lawsuits against the Servites stemming from alleged abuse by a former Chicago priest who allegedly molested numerous children in California years ago.
  • A California law that temporarily lifted the statute of limitations on child sex abuse claims…
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Clergy protections for child abuse reporting approved by Utah Legislature

SALT LAKE CITY (UT)
KSL TV [Salt Lake City, UT]

February 29, 2024

By Bridger Beal-Cvetko

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The Utah Legislature has given unanimous support to a bill providing legal protections to clergy members who report ongoing child abuse or neglect they learn of through confession, which has been praised for threading the needle between protecting young victims without infringing upon religious rights.

Rep. Anthony Loubet, R-Kearns, the bill sponsor, has described it as a “middle ground” by giving clergy the option of reporting abuse revealed during confession and protecting them from civil or criminal liability if they do. The protections apply only to situations where the clergy member believes the abuse to be ongoing, and would not cover abuse or neglect committed in the past.

“It’s imperative that we are able to provide protection for these children, and we’re trying to make it that way so that law enforcement can get involved (and) make sure these children are safe,” Loubet  View Cache

How Poland became a ‘laboratory’ for ‘Vos estis’

WARSAW (POLAND)
The Pillar [Washington DC]

February 29, 2024

By Luke Coppen

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This year marks the fifth anniversary of the release of Vos estis lux mundi, an apostolic letter establishing a mechanism for holding bishops to account for the mishandling of abuse cases. 

Ahead of the May 9 anniversary, there is growing discussion of whether the text — whose norms were made permanent last year — has proven effective. 

The debate about Vos estis lux mundi is often focused on the U.S. 

That’s understandable, given that the scandal of former cardinal Theodore McCarrick contributed to its creation, U.S. Church leaders such as Cardinal Blase Cupich are believed to have influenced the document, and a significant number of U.S. bishops have faced Vos estis investigations over the past five years. 

It also makes sense to study the text’s impact in the U.S. because it has the greatest number of Catholics of any country except Brazil, Mexico, and the Philippines, along with over 250 active bishops.

But to get a fuller sense of Vos estis’…

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Dozens of victims get payments from church after sexual abuse by some N.B. priests

MONCTON (CANADA)
CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation) [Toronto, Canada]

February 29, 2024

By Shane Magee

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Archdiocese of Moncton says it has paid $5.4 million to victims

The Archdiocese of Moncton recently paid about $5.4 million to dozens of victims who sued the Catholic Church alleging sexual abuse by some priests.

The payments bring an end to dozens of lawsuits that have been filed over more than a decade involving multiple priests in southeast New Brunswick.

While some of the victims previously received partial payments after settling the cases, the church argued its finances — including a dispute with its insurer — meant it couldn’t pay the full amount until recently.

Archbishop of Moncton Guy Desrochers announced the payments in a Jan. 30 letter to parishioners. He said in an interview this week that the payments complete the compensation to 78 victims.

Desrochers said the archdiocese has spent close to $24 million over the last 13 years. 

The letter says Desrochers and his predecessor, Valéry Vienneau, began a fundraising…

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Utah Legislature expands ability of clergy members to report child abuse

SALT LAKE CITY (UT)
Associated Press [New York NY]

February 29, 2024

By Hannah Schoenbaum

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Utah faith leaders who learn about ongoing child abuse from a perpetrator during a religious confession will be able to alert police without fear of legal ramifications under a bill that received final legislative approval Thursday in the state Senate.

The measure extends to clergy members the same legal protections that exist for mandatory reporters of child abuse and neglect, such as doctors, teachers or therapists. It passed the Senate in a 26-0 vote after receiving similarly unanimous approval in the House earlier this month. It now heads to the desk of Republican Gov. Spencer Cox.

State law in Utah, where the vast majority of lawmakers belong to the locally headquartered Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, exempts clergy of all denominations from a requirement to report child abuse if they learn about the crime in a confessional setting. Certain communications to clergy are considered privileged under…

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Pope Francis appoints new archbishop of historic French archdiocese following resignations

STRASBOURG (FRANCE)
Catholic News Agency - EWTN [Denver CO]

February 28, 2024

By Matthew Santucci

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After a nearly year-long vacancy, Pope Francis has appointed a new head of the French Archdiocese of Strasbourg, which has been subject to an apostolic visitation and two high-profile episcopal resignations in the past several years. 

The Holy See Press Office announced on Wednesday the appointment of 66-year-old Pascal Delannoy as the diocese’s new archbishop. The see had been vacant since the resignation of former Archbishop Luc Ravel in April 2023.

“I am happy to greet each of you as our Pope Francis has just named me Archbishop of Strasbourg,” Delannoy wrote in a Feb. 28 statement. 

“I welcome this appointment with confidence and serenity and I warmly thank Philippe Ballot, Bishop of Metz, for having administered the diocese during the vacancy of the see following the resignation of Luc Ravel.”

In June 2022, Pope Francis ordered an apostolic visitation to the diocese amid concerns over the pastoral…

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Polish nunciature: Archbishop’s resignation linked to negligence in addressing abuse claims

SZCZECIN (POLAND)
Catholic News Agency - EWTN [Denver CO]

March 1, 2024

By Daniel Payne

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The Apostolic Nunciature of Poland has revealed further information regarding the resignation of Polish Archbishop Andrzej Dzięga, indicating that he stepped down due to alleged negligence in overseeing sexual abuse claims.

The Holy Father accepted Dzięga’s resignation last week. Neither the nunciature nor the Vatican had immediately given a reason for his departure. The prelate, meanwhile, had published a two-page resignation letter on Feb. 24 in which he cited a “radical weakening of my condition.” 

In the letter, he apologized to his “brother priests,” saying: “If my weaknesses, including incomplete understanding of specific circumstances, and sometimes even my ordinary human fatigue, became the cause of your anxiety, I am sorry.” The prelate has faced allegations that he ignored abuse cases in Poland.

The Apostolic Nunciature in Poland subsequently released a statement addressing the controversy, saying that the release was in “response to emerging questions” regarding…

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Italian bishops meet with abuse victims as survivors unveil memorial

(ITALY)
Crux [Denver CO]

March 1, 2024

By Elise Ann Allen

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ROME – Earlier this week the leadership of the Italian bishops’ conference met with a group of clerical abuse survivors and their family members, days after the country’s largest victims advocacy group inaugurated a new memorial.

In a Feb. 27 statement, Italian Cardinal Matteo Zuppi of Bologna, president of the Italian bishops’ conference (CEI), said, “The voice of those who have suffered abuse remains essential to help us understand in depth the pain experienced by victims and their families, and their wounds, to enter into authentic communion with those who have suffered.”

Listening to survivors is also essential to understanding what is expected from the church, he said, asking, “what has been missing? What can be done to improve?”

“It is also from the answer to these questions that the path of prevention and protection can progress every day with significant and meaningful steps,” he said.

Zuppi met with the…

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Ks. Studnicki o rezygnacji abp. Dzięgi: wyjaśnienia były potrzebne

WARSAW (POLAND)
Archidiecezja Warszawska (Archdiocese of Warsaw) [Warsaw, Poland]

February 29, 2024

By Archdiocese of Warsaw

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“Bez transparentności nie ma mowy o odbudowywaniu zaufania i wiarygodności” – mówi ks. Piotr Studnicki.

Nuncjatura poinformowała w minioną sobotę, że papież Franciszek przyjął rezygnację z urzędu abp. Andrzeja Dzięgi, metropolity szczecińsko-kamieńskiego. W pierwszym komunikacie nie ujawniono powodów tej decyzji, jednak w poniedziałek nuncjatura opublikowała dodatkowy komunikat wyjaśniający, że rezygnacja abp. Dzięgi jest związana z prowadzonym wobec niego postępowaniem ze strony Stolicy Apostolskiej.

ZOBACZ: Nuncjatura przyznaje: rezygnacja abp. Dzięgi następstwem dochodzenia

Wszystko wskazuje na to, że w przypadku abp. Dzięgi zastosowano art. 4 motu proprio papieża Franciszka „Come una madre amorevole”. Opisuje on dwa możliwe tryby usunięcia biskupa z urzędu, gdy potwierdzone zostały zarzuty dotyczące poważnego braku sumienności w prowadzeniu postępowań kanonicznych w sprawach wykorzystywania seksualnego małoletnich i dorosłych bezbronnych. Właściwa dykasteria watykańska może wtedy wydać dekret usuwający biskupa z urzędu, ale może też – jak miało to miejsce w przypadku abp. Dzięgi – „zachęcić po bratersku biskupa do przedstawienia swej rezygnacji w…

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Ks. Studnicki: Najpewniej Watykan „zachęcił po bratersku” abp. Dzięgę do rezygnacji

SZCZECIN (POLAND)
Więź [Warsaw, Poland]

February 29, 2024

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Kierownik Biura Delegata KEP ds. ochrony dzieci i młodzieży podaje prawną podstawę działań Stolicy Apostolskiej.

Ks. Piotr Studnicki, kierownik Biura Delegata episkopatu ds. ochrony dzieci i młodzieży, bliski współpracownik prymasa Polski, abp. Wojciecha Polaka, w rozmowie z Katolicką Agencją Informacyjną wyjaśnia okoliczności prawne rezygnacji abp. Andrzeja Dzięgi.

– Wszystko wskazuje na to, że w przypadku abp. Dzięgi zastosowano art. 4 motu proprio papieża Franciszka „Come una madre amorevole”. Opisuje on dwa możliwe tryby usunięcia biskupa z urzędu, gdy potwierdzone zostały zarzuty dotyczące poważnego braku sumienności w prowadzeniu postępowań kanonicznych w sprawach wykorzystywania seksualnego małoletnich i dorosłych bezbronnych. Właściwa dykasteria watykańska może wtedy wydać dekret usuwający biskupa z urzędu, ale może też – jak miało to miejsce w przypadku abp. Dzięgi – „zachęcić po bratersku biskupa do przedstawienia swej rezygnacji w ciągu 15 dni”. Oczywiście, jeśli biskup nie udzieli odpowiedzi w przewidzianym czasie, Dykasteria może zastosować tryb pierwszy, czyli wydać dekret…

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February 29, 2024

Two dozen Buffalo Diocese properties could be listed for sale

BUFFALO (NY)
WKBW [Buffalo NY]

February 28, 2024

By Sean Mickey

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The bankrupt Buffalo Diocese will attempt to sell at least two dozen properties as it faces nearly 900 child sex abuse claims.

The bankrupt Buffalo Diocese could attempt to sell at least two dozen properties as it faces nearly 900 child sex abuse claims, according to court documents filed in federal court.

Retaining Hanna Commercial Real Estate as its broker, the diocese filed a list with 22 properties that could be sold. It includes the diocese’s headquarters, known as the Catholic Center, three college Newman Centers and priest retirement homes, as first reported by The Buffalo News.

“These moments of reorientation can result in changes that are painful in the short term, but are meant to help us bear fruit in the long term,” said Bishop Michael Fisher in a scripted, prerecorded video.

“While I have been informed numerous times that the condo will be sold (to help fund the…

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Pope supporter argues for a slower conclave to face risk of smear campaigns

(ITALY)
Crux [Denver CO]

February 29, 2024

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ROME – A prominent progressive supporter of Pope Francis has suggested changes to the rules governing conclaves to slow down the election of the next pope, in order to guard against the possibility that well-timed leaks or other forms of interference, perhaps related to charges of sexual abuse, might influence the outcome.

Specifically, veteran Italian Church historian Alberto Melloni has proposed that there be only one ballot each day the cardinals are gathered in the Sistine Chapel to select a new pope, followed by a day of pause for conversation and reflection.

Melloni also called for the eventual acceptance of the election result to be slowed down as well, giving a candidate who receives more than two-thirds of the vote, and thus who’s elected as pope, a full night to consider and to consult before making a final decision.

Under such a system, Melloni noted, the conclave of 2005, which…

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New Jersey priest tackles celibacy and sex abuse in new film meant to humanize Catholic clergy

NEWARK (NJ)
America [New York NY]

February 28, 2024

By Kathryn Post, Religion News Service

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(RNS) — On a spring day in the mid-aughts, the Rev. Stephen Fichter was grabbing a slice of pizza from a shop in Ho-Ho-Kus, New Jersey, when a boy from Fichter’s church pointed to him and said, “I didn’t know he could eat pizza!”

Almost two decades later, Fichter, pastor of St. Elizabeth of Hungary Church in Wyckoff, New Jersey, wants people to know that not only do priests enjoy gastronomic delights, they’re also fully human.

“There’s a sense of priests being a separate entity,” said Fichter, who told Religion News Service that viewing priests purely as spiritual figureheads can, as the Catholic abuse crisis indicates, have dire consequences. And while reductive narratives in film and media depict priests as perfect heroes or evil villains, he said, truth is more complicated.

“I wanted to write a film that would strike a balance,” said Fichter, who began developing the idea for…

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Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented

DETROIT (MI)
Where Peter Is [Beltsville MD]

February 27, 2024

By Tony Magliano

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In his 1986 Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech, the late Elie Wiesel, reflecting on the Holocaust, and his personal experience of it – being in the same World War II Nazi concentration camps where his mother, father and sister were murdered, and coming very close to being executed himself – voiced these profound words:

“I swore never to be silent whenever and wherever human beings endure suffering and humiliation. We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented. Sometimes we must interfere. When human lives are endangered, when human dignity is in jeopardy, national borders and sensitivities become irrelevant. Wherever men or women are persecuted because of their race, religion or political views, that place must – at that moment – become the center of the universe.”

Several years ago, I interviewed Bishop Thomas Gumbleton, retired auxiliary…

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Abuse at another MO Christian boarding school!

KANSAS CITY (MO)
DavidClohessy.com [St. Louis MO]

February 26, 2024

By David Clohessy

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PLEASE HELP US PROTECT THE VULNERABLE AND HEAL THE WOUNDED!

Concerned about ABM Ministries / Lighthouse Christian Academy?

Did you see, suspect, or suffer any wrongdoing there, at any point?

We are a confidential support group for anyone who was hurt by anyone in any institutional setting.

We are especially worried about those who are or were at this controversial boarding school in Piedmont.

(In recent months, at least three boys have run away from this facility, reporting abuse of some kind.)

(See Kansas City Star, https://www.kansascity.com/news/local/crime/article285075937.html)

HOW YOU CAN HELP

—Ask friends, family neighbors ‘Have you heard anything about any misconduct there?’ If they say YES, please urge them to call law enforcement or our organization.

—Remind people you know that abusers are shrewd and they count on others to keep quiet or avoid ‘getting involved.’ Tell them that kids are precious and unless caring adults…

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New Orleans man alleges he was trapped in a sex ring run by Catholic church

NEW ORLEANS (LA)
WDSU [New Orleans]

February 28, 2024

By Aubry Killion

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A New Orleans man who says he survived clergy abuse says he was trapped in a sex trafficking ring run by the Catholic church.

Richard Coon is telling his raw and emotional story for the first time in detail. He says his experience with sexual abuse was one compared to being in a sex ring.

A warning: some of the details he shared are graphic.

Coon said his story involves three men linked to the Catholic church who are now all dead.

Coon’s story involves allegations of rape, an extravagant vacation, drugs and a suicide attempt.

“There are so many victims that don’t have a voice,” Coon said.

Coon, 57, said he is giving his 10-year-old self a voice for the first time.

“I was just so confused because none of it made sense. None of it related to anything I was taught growing up in the church, I was such an…

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Former priest sentenced for molesting 15-year-old Westlake girl suffering from cancer

CLEVELAND (OH)
WOIO - CBS 19 [Cleveland OH]

February 27, 2024

By Julia Bingel and Sia Nyorkor

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Investigators say 77-year-old Luis Barajas used oil, blankets and clothing to hide his actions while praying for the victim

A 77-year-old former priest who pleaded guilty to one count of gross sexual imposition for “inappropriately touching” a 15-year-old Westlake girl sick with cancer while giving her a blessing, was sentenced to 15 months in prison by Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas Judge Andrew Santoli Tuesday.

Westlake police arrested Luis Barajas on Oct. 23. 2023 and he pleaded guilty on Feb. 14, 2024.

According to police, the Colombian national had been staying with local families in Lorain County for several months.

On Oct. 10, 2023, he was driven to Westlake to pray with the teenager and her family.

Witnesses told police Barajas used blankets and clothing to to hide his actions and his movements during the blessing were “unconventional.” Another Catholic priest learned of the incident and reported it to…

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“Inside the Vatican” Podcast: Two of Rupnik’s alleged victims speak out

(ITALY)
America [New York NY]

February 28, 2024

By Ricardo da Silva, S.J. and Gerard O’Connell

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[Original article includes a link to the podcast.]

Five years after Pope Francis convened a global summit on sexual abuse in the Catholic Church, two previously anonymous alleged victims of Father Marko Rupnik decided to go public and tell of the alleged abuses they suffered at the hands of the prolific priest-artist.

At a press conference held Feb. 21 at the Rome headquarters of the Italian National Press Federation, Gloria Branciani and Mirjam Kovac spoke publicly about the spiritual, psychological and sexual abuses they experienced. They implored Vatican authorities to be transparent about the ongoing investigation into Father Rupnik’s alleged abuses by the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith. Anne Barrett Doyle of BishopAccountability.org, a U.S.-based organization that tracks and maintains a database of clergy and consecrated religious accused of abuse, convened the press conference calling for a McCarrick-style report into the alleged buses.

On “Inside the Vatican,” guest…

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St. Louis Church in Kidnapping Case Had Cult-Like Conditions, Prosecutor Says

ST. LOUIS (MO)
Riverfront Times [St. Louis MO]

February 26, 2024

By Ryan Krull

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But a defense attorney says police collared the wrong guys after finding a church member bound and bleeding

A bizarre kidnapping case that allegedly occurred this past weekend in south St. Louis got a lot stranger this afternoon at a bond hearing for one of the defendants.

Over the weekend, police were called to Minnesota Avenue in the Patch neighborhood after a woman was found bound by ropes and bleeding from the head. She later told police she had been confined against her will in a room at the nearby Mount of Olives Ministry church. Three men were charged with felony kidnapping and assault.

This afternoon, at a bond hearing for one of those men, 28-year-old Grace Kipendo, Assistant Circuit Attorney Chris Faerber described cult-like conditions at Mount of Olives Ministry. 

Faerebr said in court he’d be reaching out to federal prosecutors regarding the case. 

He said that…

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February 28, 2024

Emotional immaturity in certain priests gives rise to serious abuse

PARIS (FRANCE)
La Croix International [France]

February 28, 2024

By Jean de Saint-Cheron

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The Church has been able to recognize the seriousness of immaturity when it comes to married couples, but less so when it pertains to the clergy

Two former religious sisters recently came forward and gave chilling testimonies of how they were abused by Marko Rupnik. They demanded that justice be done and that transparency finally overcome the Church’s culture of secrecy, which does not protect the victims but the the abusers. But will their testimonies be enough to change thinking of the Catholic hierarchy?

As Philippe Lefebvre O.P. courageously wrote in his 2021 book Comment tuer Jésus ? Abus, violences et emprises dans la Bible (“How to kill Jesus? Abuse, violence and control in the Bible”), the Word of God urges us to face “what happens when abuse takes place, when itis known and yet silenced, when silence sets in, when the victims are not listened to (…), when the great…

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Priest facing sexual assault charge in Nunavut will not be dismissed from Oblates

(CANADA)
CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation) [Toronto, Canada]

February 27, 2024

By Kelly Geraldine Malone

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Johannes Rivoire, accused of sexually abusing Inuit children, will be allowed to remain an Oblate

A French priest accused of sexually abusing Inuit children in Nunavut will be allowed to remain a member of the Oblates congregation after leadership in Rome ruled against his dismissal.

Johannes Rivoire, who is in his mid-90s and lives in Lyon, France, has long faced allegations he sexually abused Inuit children during his time in Nunavut.

“I was deeply disappointed,” said Rev. Ken Thorson with the Oblates of Mary Immaculate (OMI) Lacombe Canada.

The Oblates of Mary Immaculate, OMI Lacombe Canada and the Oblates of the Province of France had appealed to leadership in Rome in 2022 to commence the dismissal proceedings against Rivoire after the Catholic priest refused to return to Canada to face charges.

An arrest warrant was issued for Rivoire earlier that year for indecent assault involving a girl in Arviat and…

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Diocese’s $200M offer to abuse victims ‘chump change,’ says attorney

ROCKVILLE CENTRE (NY)
National Catholic Reporter [Kansas City MO]

February 28, 2024

By Jon Kalish

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Facing hundreds of sexual abuse claims as a result of a New York state law that created a one-year “lookback” window for survivors to pursue claims against their alleged abusers, the Diocese of Rockville Centre, New York, has offered a settlement that includes $200 million in cash to survivors. 

The proposed settlement, which one attorney dismissed as “chump change,” would be paid out over three years and would initially provide a minimum payment of $50,000 for some plaintiffs and $100,000 to others, based on the insurance held by the diocese when the alleged abuse took place. A vote on the offer by claimants is expected to be tallied by late March. 

The settlement offer made by the diocese was spelled out in a 298-page filing in U.S. District Court in Manhattan on Feb. 16 where the diocese’s Chapter 11 bankruptcy case has been pending…

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Prosecutor vows to try ‘on a gurney’ 92-year-old Louisiana priest accused of rape

NEW ORLEANS (LA)
Catholic News Agency - EWTN [Denver CO]

February 27, 2024

By Daniel Payne

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A New Orleans priest accused of choking and raping a teenager in the 1970s is too sick to attend his own trial, his lawyers are claiming, though state prosecutors are vowing to bring him into the courtroom on a hospital stretcher in order to allow the trial to continue.

Lawrence Hecker was indicted on charges of aggravated rape, aggravated kidnapping, an aggravated crime against nature, and theft by an Orleans Parish special grand jury in September of last year. 

The sex abuse crimes are alleged to have occurred between Jan. 1, 1975, and Dec. 31, 1976, according to the Orleans Parish District Attorney’s Office

Hecker’s trial is scheduled for March 25. At a pretrial hearing this week, his attorneys claimed that the 92-year-old clergyman was too sick to stand trial, reportedly slipping “in and out of consciousness” while incarcerated in a medical facility. 

Prosecutors…

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The Philippines must accelerate efforts to save its abused children

(PHILIPPINES)
Union of Catholic Asian News (UCA News) [Hong Kong]

February 26, 2024

By Father Shay Cullen

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Long delays in family courts cause child victims and relatives to give up and abandon the justice system

On Feb. 22, during the 50th-anniversary celebration of the Preda Foundation that works to save abused children, a concept paper proposed new legislation for a children’s court and therapeutic residential homes for sexually abused children to Senator Risa Hontiveros, chairperson of the Senate Committee on Women, Children, Family Relations, and Gender Equality.

The idea for a children’s court and residential therapeutic homes was first discussed briefly with Senator Risa Hontiveros by Preda President Francis Bermido and founder Father Shay Cullen some time last year.

The Philippine congressional people now realize that more must be done to deliver justice for abused children. There is an urgent need for legislation establishing the Children’s Court System and more government-funded therapeutic homes for healing and empowering child victims of abuse.

UNICEF says 7 million Filipino…

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Fountain youth pastor sentenced to jail in sexual exploitation of a child case

FOUNTAIN (CO)
The Gazette [Fountain, CO]

February 27, 2024

By Zachary Dupont

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A former youth pastor from Fountain was sentenced to 14 days in jail and five years of probation on Tuesday for being convicted of sending sexually explicit images to a minor associated with the church. 

Jeffery Williams, 39, was arrested by Fountain police in 2022 over allegations that Williams sent sexually explicit pictures to a minor. Williams was a youth pastor with the Salvation Army’s former location at 901 N. Santa Fe Ave. in Fountain from 2013-2017, police told The Gazette in previous reporting. 

Williams was convicted of two sexual exploitation against a child charges — one a class-3 felony and the other a class-6 felony — at trial in 2023, according to court records. At Williams’ sentencing hearing Tuesday the prosecution elaborated on the actions that led to his conviction. 

Prosecutor Melissa Bollig stated that in 2015, Williams sent explicit pictures to a minor he knew from the church,…

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Washington State Bill Requiring Clergy To Report Child Abuse Fails For Second Year

SEATTLE (WA)
Our Sunday Visitor [Huntington IN]

February 28, 2024

By Kate Scanlon

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Legislation that would require clergy to report child abuse or neglect in Washington state failed for the second year in a row in that state’s Legislature. Some have expressed concern that without exceptions for clergy-penitent privilege, the bill could place Catholic priests at odds with civil law in order to uphold church law regarding the seal of the confessional.

Senate Bill 6298, a bill that sought to make members of the clergy mandatory reporters, or people required by law to report suspected or known instances of child abuse or neglect, was recently passed by the state’s Senate but died in a House committee Feb. 21.

The state Senate’s version of that legislation contained an exception to the clergy reporting requirement that would have exempted sacramental confessions. However, the House rejected that exception, so the legislation did not proceed.

Similar legislation failed in the Legislature last year after lawmakers could not…

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Bill on statute of limitations reform passes unanimously in the Missouri House for the second time

JEFFERSON CITY (MO)
Baptist News Global [Jacksonville FL]

February 27, 2024

By Mallory Challis

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For the second year in a row, a bill proposed by Missouri House Rep. Brian Seitz (R) aiming to reform the statute of limitations for victims of childhood sexual abuse has been unanimously approved by the House of Representatives.

HB 1617, presented last year as HB 367, proposes a 10 year increase in the statute of limitations for victims of child sexual abuse, giving survivors until age 41 to bring civil action against any perpetrator, as well as against anyone who engaged in tortious acts leading to the abuse. The current statute of limitations is age 31.

Last year’s bill, HB 367, sought to increase the age limitation to 55, but died in the gridlocked Missouri Senate when the session ended before it could pass through.

The bill is an effort to make Missouri legislation on child sexual abuse response and litigation more reflective of the timeline survivors need to process, come to…

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Indonesian police hunt for seminarian accused of child abuse

(INDONESIA)
Union of Catholic Asian News (UCA News) [Hong Kong]

February 27, 2024

By UCA News reporter

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Engelbertus Lowa Sada is the third Catholic from within the church’s ranks accused of child abuse

Police in Indonesia’s Catholic-majority Flores Island are on the lookout for a Catholic seminarian who is absconding following allegations of molesting a minor at a seminary.

A police official said a raid team is searching for Engelbertus Lowa Sada, 27, who went into hiding since the parents of a victim filed a criminal case against him.

The Capuchin seminarian is accused of molesting a 13-year-old student of St. Yohanes Berchmans Mataloko Minor Seminary twice in 2022, said Sukandar, a police spokesperson in Ngada Regency of Flores.

Sukandar, who like many Indonesians goes by one name, told UCA News on Feb. 25 that the parents filed the case on April 22, 2023, when the minor told them about the abuse.

During the time of alleged abuse, Sada was undergoing pastoral orientation, a year-long program in Indonesia…

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‘Absolutely horrendous’: Judge sends ex-priest to prison for groping teen cancer patient

CLEVELAND (OH)
Cleveland.com [Cleveland, OH]

February 27, 2024

By Cory Shaffer

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A 77-year-old former Catholic priest is headed to prison for molesting a 15-year-old girl during a blessing before her upcoming cancer treatment.

Luis Barajas was sentenced on Tuesday to 15 months in prison after he pleaded guilty earlier this month to a fourth-degree felony, gross sexual imposition, tied to the October assault at the girl’s Westlake home.

“You admitted to sexually assaulting a child, which in and of itself is an absolutely horrendous crime,” Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court Judge Andrew Santoli said before announcing the sentence.

What made the crime worse, Santoli said, was that the girl’s family looked to him for spiritual guidance and support in the face of a long and difficult journey through chemotherapy and radiation treatment.

“You took advantage of that, and that warrants a serious consequence,” Santoli said.

A sheriff’s deputy escorted Barajas as he shuffled…

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Maryland AG Asked to End Church Probe

BALTIMORE (MD)
Catholic League [New York NY]

February 27, 2024

By Bill

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Catholic League president Bill Donohue has asked Maryland Attorney General Anthony G. Brown to end the investigation of clergy sexual abuse in the Catholic Church. It has yielded not a single indictment and the alleged offenders are either dead or missing.

To read his letter, click here.

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Catholic group asks Maryland attorney general to end investigation of Catholic Church abuse

BALTIMORE (MD)
Baltimore Sun [Baltimore MD]

February 27, 2024

By Cassidy Jensen

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A Catholic advocacy group called on Maryland Attorney General Anthony Brown to halt investigations into child sex abuse in the Archdiocese of Washington and the Diocese of Wilmington, Delaware, in a letter Tuesday.

Bill Donahue, president of the national Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights, wrote that it was “exasperating” that the attorney general’s office persisted in investigating child sex abuse in the Catholic Church. He called a nearly 500-page report the attorney general published in April on the Archdiocese of Baltimore “a total waste of money,” and he argued that it was unfair for the state to scrutinize decades-old church abuse rather than probing abuse in public schools.

Since Oct. 1, when the Child Victims Act lifted the statute of limitations on sex abuse lawsuits in Maryland, victims have filed a slew of lawsuits alleging abuse at state institutions, including juvenile detention facilities. Meanwhile, Brown is defending the law from a…

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February 27, 2024

Outrage in Poland prompts Vatican to give reason for Catholic bishop’s resignation

SZCZECIN (POLAND)
National Catholic Reporter [Kansas City MO]

February 27, 2024

By Paulina Guzik

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The announcement that Pope Francis had accepted the resignation of Archbishop Andrzej Dziega of Szczecin-Kamien with no explanation in a Feb. 24 statement from the apostolic nunciature caused a bittersweet reaction in Poland, once viewed as the testing ground for the 2019 Vatican document on bishops’ accountability.

Dziega was known for ignoring the victims of sexual abuse for years in his archdiocese, but in a letter explaining his resignation to priests of the archdiocese he said the reason was health oriented, a “radical weakening of my condition.”

At age 71, he is four years younger than the age at which canon law requires bishops to submit their resignation to the pope.

He also apologized to the priests for his “weaknesses,” not mentioning the victims of sexual abuse who were outraged when the letter went viral across social media in Poland over the Feb. 24-25 weekend.

Under public pressure, including from…

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‘Trinity’s Triumph’ film, written by New Jersey priest, humanizes Catholic clergy

NEWARK (NJ)
Religion News Service - Missouri School of Journalism [Columbia MO]

February 27, 2024

By Kathryn Post

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On a spring day in the mid-aughts, the Rev. Stephen Fichter was grabbing a slice of pizza from a shop in Ho-Ho-Kus, New Jersey, when a boy from Fichter’s church pointed to him and said, “I didn’t know he could eat pizza!”

Almost two decades later, Fichter, pastor of St. Elizabeth of Hungary Church in Wyckoff, New Jersey, wants people to know that not only do priests enjoy gastronomic delights, they’re also fully human.

“There’s a sense of priests being a separate entity,” said Fichter, who told Religion News Service that viewing priests purely as spiritual figureheads can, as the Catholic abuse crisis indicates, have dire consequences. And while reductive narratives in film and media depict priests as perfect heroes or evil villains, he said, truth is more complicated.

“I wanted to write a film that would strike a balance,” said Fichter, who began developing the idea for the movie…

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Boston archdiocese statement on Cardinal O’Malley’s record on clergy abuse

BOSTON (MA)
National Catholic Reporter [Kansas City MO]

February 26, 2024

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Editor’s Note: Following is a statement from the Archdiocese of Boston, released to the National Catholic Reporter’s podcast The Vatican Briefing. It was given in response to an interview on the podcast with Anne Barrett Doyle, co-director of BishopAccountability.org.

Cardinal Seán has consistently demonstrated a commitment to be open, receptive, and supportive of survivors in the Archdiocese of Boston. From the earliest days of the crisis, the Cardinal has acknowledged the failings of the Church, often crediting survivors with having the courage to come forward to hold the Church accountable. He has credited the media with forcing the Church to be transparent and to effect change.

The Cardinal has implemented significant reforms and procedures to safeguard children, hold offenders accountable, support survivors and provide for healing. He has personally acknowledged the critically important work of survivors, clergy, religious, laity, law enforcement and many others…

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Failure of Zero Tolerance Towards Sexual Abuse in the Church: Two Emblematic Cases

VATICAN CITY (VATICAN CITY)
Il Messaggero [Rome, Italy]

February 27, 2024

By Franca Giansoldati

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If it is not a failure, it’s very close. The strict zero tolerance towards sexual abuse does not seem to work everywhere: there is not only the opaque and shocking management of the case of Father Marko Rupnik (the Jesuit expelled by the Jesuits for sexual abuse on several nuns but still a priest and never punished by the Vatican). Five years after the famous summit of all the episcopates of the world wanted by the Pope to give a definitive turn to an omertà attitude, aimed at covering up and little attentive to the victims, two other emblematic cases seem to make understand how far away a new mentality based on responsibility, justice and transparency contained in the principles of many documents is.

The words of Valentina Alazraki, the famous Mexican journalist invited to the summit in 2019 in the Vatican to speak in front of 114 episcopal conferences,…

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Polish archbishop resigns after sex abuse coverup

SZCZECIN (POLAND)
Agence France Presse [Paris, France]

February 27, 2024

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Pope Francis has accepted the resignation of a Polish archbishop accused of covering up the sexual abuse of minors, a Vatican statement said on Saturday.

Andrzej Dziega, the 71-year-old archbishop of Szczecin, in northwest Poland, will “take his retirement”, said the statement from the apostolic nuncio or diplomatic envoy representing the Holy See.

Polish media have long reported allegations of negligence and cover ups for pedophiles in the Catholic Church.

The Gazeta Wyborcza website said the results of two internal ecclesiastic court trials had already been sent to Rome, marking a new stage in the pedophile cases that have rocked Poland.

Francis has made combatting sexual assault in the Church one of the main missions of his papacy, and insisted on a “zero tolerance” policy following multiple wide-reaching scandals.

Clergy and staff are required to report abuse, but anything revealed in confession is still considered private. Victims’ rights activists demand…

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Has Pope Francis failed to root out clergy sexual abuse?

VATICAN CITY (VATICAN CITY)
National Catholic Reporter [Kansas City MO]

February 27, 2024

By Anne Barrett Doyle, Christopher White, and Joshua J. McElwee

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[Includes an audio interview of Anne Barrett Doyle by Christopher White, followed by White’s conversation with Joshua J. McElwee.]

This February marked the fifth anniversary of one of Pope Francis’ seminal efforts to confront clergy sexual abuse: the first-of-its-kind 2019 Vatican summit about abuse prevention with the heads of the world’s Catholic bishops’ conferences.

Looking back now, one of the leading U.S. advocates for clergy abuse survivors told National Catholic Reporter that although the summit resulted in “massive public awareness building” about clergy abuse, its wider impact has been “minimal.”

Anne Barrett Doyle, who has tracked clergy abuse over decades as a co-director of the BishopAccountability.org website, in particular singled out for criticism Francis’ signature clergy abuse reform Vos Estis Lux Mundi, first issued after the summit.

“Its impact has been insignificant, as far as we can tell,” said…

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February 26, 2024

Waking up to Abuse in the Church

MILWAUKEE (WI)
Where Peter Is [Beltsville MD]

February 26, 2024

By Sara Larson and Paul Fahey

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[Includes link to the podcast.]

I first connected with Sara Larson last summer. She reached out to me after listening to the interview we had with Dr. Marcus Mescher about moral injury and clerical sexual abuse. Since then we’ve had several conversations, and every time I walk away feeling understood and with a little more hope.

Sara is the Executive Director of Awake. Among other things, Awake provides support groups and retreats for survivors. They also host excellent online events where survivors can share their stories and experts can educate about the reality of abuse in the Church.

I’ve talked here on the podcast before about a concept a friend of mine, Monica Pope, articulated: that is the need for a “third space” for people harmed by the Church. Often, the responses that people who have been harmed by the Church hear from others…

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Resignation Letter by Archbishop Andrzej Dzięga

SZCZECIN (POLAND)
Archdiocese of Szczecin [Szczecin, Poland]

February 24, 2024

By Archbishop Andrzej Dzięga

Read original article

[See also a PDF of the original letter.]

Drodzy Bracia kapłani – duszpasterze naszej Archidiecezji,

Na wszystko przychodzi właściwy czas.

Minęło piętnaście lat od momentu, gdy decyzją Benedykta XVI wprowadzony zostałem w dzieje Świętego Kościoła Szczecińsko- Kamieńskiego. Przez ten czas, podejmując powierzone mi zadania oraz odpowiedzialność biskupią czyli apostolską, odkrywałem razem z Wami dotychczasowe dzieje, tajemnice, a także ciągle odsłaniające się nowe możliwości duchowe obecnego czasu w sercach Ludu Bożego oraz w różnych obszarach bytowania Ziemi nad Odrą i Bałtykiem. Czas ten stał się niezwykłym doświadczeniem pielgrzymowania po Bożych Drogach na obecnym etapie historii. Jeśli było w tym wszystkim coś dobrego i pozostają jakieś dobre owoce, to przede wszystkim Wasza kapłańska zasługa. To owoce Waszych modlitw, gorliwości pastoralnej i wspólnotowego zaangażowania. To także pogłębione owoce modlitwy i świętego życia serc wiernych Panu Jezusowi. Wiernych Słowu Pana. Podążających pod opieką Matki Kościoła – Zwycięskiej Królowej Polski, pod opieką Świętego Ottona…

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From clericalism to communion: The church’s never-ending conversion

VATICAN CITY (VATICAN CITY)
Global Sisters Report [Kansas City, MO]

February 26, 2024

By Kathleen Feeley, Lucy Zientek, Mary Karuna Matthew, Nancy Mancera, and Patricia Wittberg

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Many women present at the synod on synodality this past October “expressed deep gratitude for the work of priests and bishops,” but also noted that clericalism continues to “scar the face of the Church and damage its communion.” The assembly stated in the synthesis report that a “profound spiritual conversion is needed” to meet the “desire to promote a Church in which men and women dialogue together… without subordination, exclusion, and competition.”

This month, we asked our panelists: What is the spiritual conversion needed in order for healing to take place? What would you hope to see?

Kathleen Feeley, a School Sister of Notre Dame, served as president of the College of Notre Dame of Maryland (now Notre Dame of Maryland University) 1971-92. She has taught college, high school and elementary students. After her college presidency, she taught literature in India, Australia, China,…

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New Orleans Catholic priest charged with rape may be too sick to stand trial

NEW ORLEANS (LA)
The Guardian [London, England]

February 25, 2024

By David Hammer and Ramon Antonio Vargas

Read original article

Accuser fears Laurence Hecker may not live long enough to stand judgment in criminal court as lawyer argues priest is a ‘vegetable’

A 92-year-old Roman Catholic priest from New Orleans who is charged with raping a teenager after strangling him unconscious is now “in and out of consciousness” himself, according to the clergyman’s defense attorney, who is seeking to postpone a trial date in the case.

The assistant district attorney who is leading the prosecution of Lawrence Hecker said on Friday he was ready to “roll [the defendant] in on a gurney” to keep a 25 March trial date in the case. But a lawyer for Hecker’s accuser said they were growing increasingly worried that the suspected serial predator’s trial would be delayed – and that he may not live long enough to ever stand judgment in a criminal court.

“If for some reason he is unable to stand trial before he…

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Clergy abuse scandals need a final reckoning

LAFAYETTE (LA)
The Advocate [Baton Rouge LA]

February 26, 2024

By Ray Mouton

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The worldwide clergy child sex abuse crisis and scandal ignited forty years ago in The Catholic Diocese of Lafayette.

On Jan. 23, I watched arguments before the Louisiana Supreme Court on the question of the constitutionality of a law that created an opportunity for child victims to prosecute civil claims against priests and bishops that would have prescribed under the law that existed prior to the adoption of this new law relating to prescription. The two cases before the court were from the Catholic Diocese of Lafayette. What began there must end here.

When arguments were held before the Louisiana State Supreme Court, Chief Justice John Weimer seemed prepared to elevate a pedophile priest and his bishop’s “vested right” not to be sued over ordinary citizens’ rights of life, liberty and property. All of those fundamental rights require a due process analysis, like expropriation. Justice Weimer appeared to endorse the…

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African cardinal reinstates lay charismatic leader who admitted abuse

ABIDJAN (CôTE D'IVOIRE)
La Croix International [France]

February 26, 2024

By Guy-Aimé Eblotié

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Cardinal Jean Pierre Kutwa of Ivory Coast suspended Do Oulaï Franklin Delaneaux, founder of a lay apostolate, in 2020 after the man partially admitted committing various types of abuse

Cardinal Jean Pierre Kutwa of Abidjan in Ivory Coast, one of the senior Catholic Church leaders in Africa, has reinstated the charismatic founder of a lay apostolate in his Archdiocese of Abidjan more than three years after suspending the man over abuse allegations.

“I hereby lift, here and now, the suspension of all activities taken against this son of the Church, Mr. Do Oulaï Franklin Delaneaux, called Abraham Marie Pio, founder of the Catholic apostolate Royal Priesthood,” declared the 78-year-old cardinal in in a decree dated February 9, but not made public until February 22.

In the decree, the cardinal also designates two priests from the Abidjan archdiocese, one a canon lawyer, to assist Pio and offer him “guidance in order…

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Pope Francis accepts resignation of Polish archbishop accused of ignoring abuse

SZCZECIN (POLAND)
Catholic News Agency - EWTN [Denver CO]

February 26, 2024

By Matthew Santucci

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Pope Francis has accepted the resignation of Polish Archbishop Andrzej Dzięga, who has faced allegations that he ignored abuse cases in Poland.

Neither the Apostolic Nunciature of Poland, which announced the resignation on Feb. 24, nor the Holy See Press Office provided a reason for Dzięga’s resignation. The 71-year-old prelate, who has led the Archdiocese of Szczecin-Kamien since 2009, will not turn 75, the age at which canon law requires a bishop to submit his resignation to the pope, until 2027.

Dzięga published a two-page resignation letter on Feb. 24 in which he apologized to his “brother priests,” saying, “if my weaknesses, including incomplete understanding of specific circumstances, and sometimes even my ordinary human fatigue became the cause of your anxiety, I am sorry.” 

The archbishop said he was resigning due to “a radical weakening of my condition,” adding that in the fall “it became obvious…

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Indonesian police hunt for seminarian accused of child abuse

(INDONESIA)
Union of Catholic Asian News (UCA News) [Hong Kong]

February 26, 2024

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Engelbertus Lowa Sada is the third Catholic from within the church’s ranks accused of child abuse

Police in Indonesia’s Catholic-majority Flores Island are on the lookout for a Catholic seminarian who is absconding following allegations of molesting a minor at a seminary.

A police official said a raid team is searching for Engelbertus Lowa Sada, 27, who went into hiding since the parents of a victim filed a criminal case against him.

The Capuchin seminarian is accused of molesting a 13-year-old student of St. Yohanes Berchmans Mataloko Minor Seminary twice in 2022, said Sukandar, a police spokesperson in Ngada Regency of Flores.

Sukandar, who like many Indonesians goes by one name, told UCA News on Feb. 25 that the parents filed the case on April 22, 2023, when the minor told them about the abuse.

During the time of alleged abuse, Sada was undergoing pastoral orientation, a year-long program in Indonesia before ordination…

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February 25, 2024

Pastor’s Remarks, Implying Women in Shorts Deserve to Be Raped, Prompt Local Protest

CHARLOTTE (NC)
The Roys Report [Chicago IL]

February 22, 2024

By Josh Shepherd

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Video of a North Carolina pastor implying that women in shorts deserve to be raped is sparking outrage—not just on social media, but in the pastor’s local community, where a protest was held.

Yesterday, The Roys Report (TRR) Founder Julie Roys posted a clip on X, formerly Twitter, of a sermon last August by Pastor Bobby Leonard of Bible Baptist Tabernacle in Monroe, North Carolina.

Commenting on seeing women wearing shorts at an outlet mall, Leonard said, “If you dress like that and you get raped, and I’m on the jury, he’s going to go free. You don’t like that, do you? I’m right, though. Because a man’s a man.”

As of publication time, the post has been viewed 2.7 million times, only 26 hours after being posted. 

In the post, which also has 100,000 total engagements and over 18,000 likes, Roys writes: “Yes, a man is a man—not…

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Presbyter Blasts Assemblies of God Leaders for ‘Gross Negligence’ in Response to Chi Alpha Sex Abuse Scandal

AUSTIN (TX)
The Roys Report [Chicago IL]

February 21, 2024

By Josh Shepherd

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A longtime central Texas pastor is blasting Assemblies of God (AG) leaders for “gross negligence” in responding to concerns about sex offender Daniel Savala having access to students in the denomination’s Chi Alpha Campus Ministries. The pastor has since resigned his role as a presbyter in the AG North Texas District, after months of what he called “belligerent and defensive” responses from AG leaders. 

The pastor, Anthony Scoma, spoke out in a podcast interview released on Feb. 16. Scoma, who served nine years as a presbyter, co-founded Southwest Family Fellowship in Austin, Texas, 20 years ago. But he recently took a pastorate at Full Life Christian Center in San Francisco, hoping for a “fresh start.”

Last February, Scoma made an initial report to AG leaders about Savala, who was arrested last June on child sex abuse charges.

An alum of the AG’s college…

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Hope roots in truth-telling and grows with action

()
Baptist News Global [Jacksonville FL]

February 22, 2024

By Christa Brown

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“People speak of hope as if it is this delicate, ephemeral thing. … It’s not. Hope has dirt on her face, blood on her knuckles, the grit of the cobblestones in her hair, and just spat out a tooth as she rises for another go.”

—a person on X called Matthew (@CrowsFault)

Hope is a tricky thing. It can masquerade as a facile, feel-good sentiment, or it can pack the punch of a hard-fought attitude.

Although we often grasp at the sentiment, that version of hope frequently disappoints. But the hope that draws from attitude? That kind of hope is the real deal.

As someone who has spent a couple decades working to expose clergy sex abuse and cover-ups in a powerful, mega-monied, recalcitrant institution — the Southern Baptist Convention — there are plenty of days when hope seems elusive.

People often ask me how I can possibly hold to hope, and…

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Despite reforms, victims say church’s handling of sex abuse cases retraumatizes

VATICAN CITY (VATICAN CITY)
Associated Press [New York NY]

February 25, 2024

By Nicole Winfield

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Five years ago this week, Pope Francis convened an unprecedented summit of bishops from around the world to impress on them that clergy sexual abuse was a global problem and that they needed to do something about it.

Over four days, these bishops heard harrowing tales of trauma from victims, learned how to investigate and sanction pedophile priests, and were warned that they too would face punishment if they continued to cover for abusers.

Yet five years later, despite new church laws to hold bishops accountable and promises to do better, the Catholic Church’s in-house legal system and pastoral response to victims has proven incapable of dealing with the problem.

In fact, victims, outside investigators and even in-house canon lawyers increasingly say the church’s response, crafted and amended over two decades of unrelenting scandal around the world, is downright damaging to the very people already harmed—the victims.

The victims are often retraumatized when they…

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Thane: Court acquits priest accused of raping woman, practising black magic

THANE (INDIA)
Mid-Day News [Mumbai India]

February 25, 2024

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The court pointed out that there was inconsistency in the statement’s the petitioner gave and lack of evidence

A court in Thane district has acquitted a priest who was accused of raping a woman and practising black magic on her. The court pointed out that there was inconsistency in the statement’s the petitioner gave and there was lack of evidence, while acquitting the priest. 

As per news wire PTI’s report, additional sessions judge Amit M Shete acquitted the priest, Kuldeep Kundansinh Kuvar (31) of charges under relevant provisions of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), the Information Technology Act, and the Maharashtra Prevention and Eradication of Human Sacrifice and other Inhuman, Evil, and Aghori Practices and Black Magic Act.

The order dated February 2 was made available on Saturday.

Additional Public Prosecutor S.B. More alleged that the accused had repeatedly raped the…

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2 East Bay private Catholic schools to shut doors amid Diocese of Oakland’s bankruptcy

OAKLAND (CA)
East Bay Times [Walnut Creek CA]

February 24, 2024

By Shomik Mukherjee

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Homelessness, human trafficking in surrounding neighborhood among reasons cited

The embattled Roman Catholic Diocese of Oakland is losing two of its elementary schools as it goes through bankruptcy proceedings stemming from widespread sex-abuse lawsuits against the church.

St. Anthony School, which opened in the late 19th century and provides private K-8 education to a largely Spanish-speaking community in Oakland, said that it will close its doors at the end of this academic year. Another private K-8 Catholic school in the region, Our Lady of Guadalupe in Fremont, founded in the 1960s, also will close.

Both schools cited declining enrollment and operating deficits that had forced them to tap reserve funds to keep the doors open. In St. Anthony’s case, the financial woes persisted despite an investment of $388,000 from Lumen Christi Academies, an umbrella organization that has governed the school since 2018.

Officials at the Lumen…

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Colorado Democrats delay vote on child sex abuse constitutional amendment amid new opposition

DENVER (CO)
Greeley Tribune [Greeley CO]

February 25, 2024

By Nick Coltrain

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Republicans align against proposal over concerns of long-term consequences

Unexpected partisan opposition to a state constitutional amendment that’s aimed at clearing the way for survivors of childhood sexual assault to sue over older claims has clouded the measure’s chances in the Colorado Senate.

Backers, who are working to shore up support, see it as a black-and-white proposal that would give survivors of abuse that occurred a decade or more ago a chance to demand justice against the perpetrators — and the institutions that enabled it. After a state court overruled past legislation, lawmakers launched the bid to place an amendment on the ballot as a key step of opening that opportunity.

But Republicans — many of whom voted for the 2021 bill that was a precursor to this effort — warn now of unintended consequences to public and private institutions for crimes that occurred potentially decades in the past.

They include…

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Pope Accepts Resignation of Archbishop Dziega Amid Abuse Scandal in Poland

(POLAND)
BNN [Winnipeg, Canada]

February 24, 2024

By Wojciech Zylm

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Discover the resignation of Archbishop Andrzej Dziega of Szczecin-Kamien in the midst of allegations of sexual abuse within the Catholic Church, reflecting the Vatican’s commitment to addressing abuse and rebuilding trust.

In a move that has sent ripples through the Catholic community in Poland, Pope Francis has accepted the resignation of Archbishop Andrzej Dziega of Szczecin-Kamien. The announcement comes in the wake of allegations that the Archbishop had failed to address accusations of sexual abuse within the church, a charge that has cast a long shadow over the institution’s commitment to protecting its flock. This decision underscores the Vatican’s ongoing battle against sexual abuse and its efforts to restore faith in the church’s leadership.

The Szczecin-Kamien archdiocese recently disclosed the retirement of Archbishop Metropolitan Dziega without mentioning the accusations against him. Having served since 2009, Dziega did not comment on the allegations. This silence follows the unveiling of a documentary…

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Australian retired bishop charged with child sex abuse

(AUSTRALIA)
Reuters [London, England]

February 22, 2024

By Alasdair Pal

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A retired Roman Catholic bishop appeared in court in remote Western Australia on Thursday on charges of sexual offences against children, including two counts of rape.

The charges against Christopher Saunders were presented on Thursday morning in Broome Magistrates Court, said a court spokesperson, who declined to say whether Saunders had entered a plea.

Western Australia police said Child Abuse Squad detectives charged a 74-year-old Broome man, whom it did not name, with 19 offences, including two of sexual penetration without consent, 14 of unlawful and indecent assault and three of a person in authority indecently dealing with a child.

Footage from TV network Seven showed Saunders being led away by police after his arrest on Wednesday. Police said the man was refused bail.

Saunders, emeritus bishop of Broome, a diocese bigger than Texas in northwest Australia, was not reachable for comment. He has previously denied wrongdoing. It was not…

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Pope accepts resignation of Polish cleric accused of ignoring abuse

SZCZECIN (POLAND)
Reuters [London, England]

February 24, 2024

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WARSAW (Reuters) – Pope Francis’s representatives in Poland said on Saturday that he had accepted the resignation of an archbishop who was accused in a documentary of turning a blind eye to child abuse.

The TVN24 news channel’s documentary in 2021 alleged that priest Andrzej Dymer, who died that year, had abused children and that the archbishop of the diocese of Szczecin-Kamien, Andrzej Dziega, had known since 1995 but taken no action.

“Holy Father Francis accepted the resignation of Archbishop Andrzej Dziega from serving as Archbishop Metropolitan of Szczecin-Kamien,” Poland’s apostolic nunciature, the equivalent of the Vatican’s embassy, said on its website.

A statement on the website of the Szczecin-Kamien archdiocese also said Dziega was retiring.

Neither of the statements referred to the accusations against Dziega, who had served as Archbishop Metropolitan of Szczecin-Kamien since 2009.

The archdiocese did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Dziega could not…

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Pope Francis’s “all-out battle” against clerical abuse has been a failure

VATICAN CITY (VATICAN CITY)
Catholic World Report [San Francisco CA]

February 24, 2024

By Christopher R. Altieri

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Five years ago, the Pontiff railed against “abominable crimes that must be erased from the face of the earth…” His record since has been abysmal and even scandalous.

The largest single gathering of the Catholic Church’s hierarchical leadership to combat clerical sexual abuse and coverup closed five years ago–five years to the day, if you are reading this on Saturday, February 24, 2024–with Pope Francis calling for “an all-out battle” against “abominable crimes that must be erased from the face of the earth.”

What have we seen in the way of leadership from Pope Francis in the intervening quinquennium?

Five years of failure

Pope Francis has refused to defrock a confessed child molester or even remove him from the College of Cardinals.

Pope Francis has protected a favorite Argentinian prelate he himself raised to the episcopate and threatened those who sought justice from the…

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Washington state bill requiring clergy to report child abuse dies in House committee

OLYMPIA (WA)
Oregon Public Broadcasting [Portland, OR]

February 24, 2024

By Wilson Criscione

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Committee rejected compromise with Catholic lobbyists that survivors argued “protects abusers”

Each of the last two years, Washington state lawmakers on both sides have broadly agreed that clergy should be mandatory reporters of child abuse and neglect.

Washington is one of just five states where that’s not required by law. Democrats and Republicans have repeatedly said, often during deeply personal and emotional debates at the state Capitol, that they want to change that.

Yet for the second year in a row, a Washington bill to make clergy mandatory reporters of child abuse has failed. Senate Bill 6298, which passed the Senate, died in a House committee this week. The sticking point this session was once again over whether the law should contain an exception to the requirement that would have allowed priests to hide child abuse from authorities if the priest learned of it during a sacramental confession.

Democratic Rep….

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February 24, 2024

Survivor of child sex abuse urges Kansas lawmakers to mandate clergy reporting

TOPEKA (KS)
Kansas Reflector [Topeka, KS]

February 22, 2024

By Rachel Mipro

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Joe Cheray is well aware that clergy members aren’t required to report child abuse.

She remembers going to her priest as a child, asking for his help when she was being sexually abused. Cheray said he did nothing.

“Had I known back then clergy were not mandated reporters of abuse, I would’ve just went to law enforcement and the Department for Children and Families. I wouldn’t have even said anything to my church at all,” Cheray said.

Cheray, who advocates with other survivors of child sex abuse every week in the entrance of the Statehouse, is asking that ministers and clergy be required to report cases like hers.

“Had I known back then clergy were not mandated reporters of abuse, I would’ve just went to law enforcement and the Department for Children and Families. I wouldn’t have even said anything to my church at all,” Cheray said.

Earlier this month, Rep….

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The Trial of Shmuel Krawatsky – by Asher Lovy

BALTIMORE (MD)
SNAP - Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests [Chicago IL]

February 15, 2024

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Jewish Week article in 2018 by 3 families of sexually abusing their children at Camp Shoresh, a day camp near Baltimore. Shortly following the accusation, Krawatsky filed a federal defamation suit against the families which was dismissed for jurisdictional reasons. Krawatsky then filed another defamation case in state court in September of 2018. In response the families filed a countersuit for the sexual abuse allegedly committed by Krawatsky against their children.

The case has dragged on for 6 years, bogged down in endless procedural fighting. A number of parties were dismissed from the case on both sides. The Jewish Week, and journalist, Hannah Dreyfus, who initially covered the allegations for the Jewish Week (now owned by 70 Faces Media), had initially been defendants in the defamation case, but were removed from the case in summary judgment. Camp Shoresh was also removed from the case…

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Former Saddleback Youth Volunteer Charged with Molesting a Fourth Teenage Boy

LAKE FOREST (CA)
The Roys Report [Chicago IL]

February 22, 2024

By Liz Lykins

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A former youth volunteer at the megachurch Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, California, has been charged with molesting a fourth teenage boy, Orange County District Attorney Todd Spitzer said Wednesday in a statement.

Former Saddleback youth volunteer Ruven Meulenberg, 39, was initially arrested in 2017 for molesting twin brothers between the ages of 13 and 14 years old, Spitzer said. Though convicted of those charges, his conviction was overturned due to juror misconduct.

Now, while Meulenberg is awaiting trial, two more victims have come forward with allegations of abuse.

Meulenberg previously mentored junior-high-aged children at Saddleback’s headquarters. Saddleback Church, founded in 1980 by author Rick Warren, is one of the largest churches in the U.S. with a weekly attendance of 28,000, according to AP News. The church has 15 locations in California and five internationally, according to the church’s website.

Outside…

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Seaford children’s pastor arrested on charges of possession of child sex abuse material

SEAFORD (DE)
Delaware News Journal/My Delaware Online [New Castle DE]

February 23, 2024

By Isabel Hughes

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A former Seaford children’s pastor has been arrested on 10 felony charges after admitting to possessing and viewing child sexual abuse material, the Delaware Department of Justice said Friday.

James Dryden, 74, was charged last week following an investigation by the state’s Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force, which includes Delaware State Police and the state Justice Department. The investigation began in July 2022 after the task force received cyber tips that Dryden’s IP address had accessed the material, court documents say.

After receiving the tips, law enforcement contacted Dryden at his home and seized his devices. A forensic examination of the items showed he had additional material, the Justice Department said.

According to the Justice Department, Dryden had been a children’s pastor at Stein Highway Church of God in Seaford for more than 20 years. In a Friday morning statement, Pastor Dan Southern defined Dryden as a “volunteer children’s…

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South Carolina pastor charged in prostitution investigation, warrants say

SENECA (SC)
WYFF [Greenville, SC]

February 14, 2024

By Stephanie Moore

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A pastor in South Carolina has been charged with prostitution, according to an arrest warrant and police.

William Martell Kannarney is charged with first-degree prostitution. He was arrested this week, according to Seneca Police.

The warrant said in October Kannarney either engaged in prostitution or aided or abetted prostitution knowingly at a location off Seneca Drive and Bypass 123 in Seneca.

Kannarney was listed as Senior Pastor at Blue Ridge View Baptist Church, in Pickens, in a February 2024 church bulletin. The church declined to comment to WYFF News 4.

The men listed below were also arrested as part of the investigation and are all charged with first-offense prostitution:

  • Donald Edward Young
  • Richard Walter Hudak
  • Logan Michael Wojnarwksy
  • Matthew Aaron Clement
  • Brandon Bennett
  • Taylor John Clark
  • Christopher Michael Hancox
  • Andrew Jared Satterfield
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Valley bishop addresses criminal charges against local priest

BROWNSVILLE (TX)
KRGV [Rio Grande Valley, TX]

February 22, 2024

By Christian Von Preysing

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Bishop Daniel Flores, from the Brownsville Diocese, addressed the criminal charges brought against priest Fernando Gonzalez Ortega.

“We feel together with them the shock and the pain of the news of this week,” Bishop Flores said.

RELATED STORY: Brownsville priest arraigned on trafficking and child sex abuse charges

Ortega is facing five charges including, sexual abuse of a child and human trafficking, an issue that’s affected dioceses across the country.

“The general sense is that cases of abuse within the Roman Catholic Church have been decreasing. But we don’t have much data to back that up. That’s taking most dioceses on good faith for their internal reporting,” Case Western Reserve University professor Brian Clites said.

Clites is an expert in religious and catholic studies. He has interviewed 87 victims of abuse over the last 15 years and identified trends in cases and how the church addresses them.

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Accused & Suspended, But Put Back On The Job

FORT LAUDERDALE (FL)
Adam Horowitz Law [Fort Lauderdale, FL]

February 22, 2024

By Adam Horowitz Law

Read original article

The recent developments in the Catholic Church, particularly in relation to handling accusations of child molestation against clergy, have raised serious questions and concerns. The cases of clerics being accused, temporarily removed but later reinstated, sometimes in positions involving contact with children, presents a troubling pattern that warrants a deeper examination.

A Troubling Pattern Emerges

In Kansas, an accused predator priest has been moved to a parish with a school, a decision that has sparked outrage and concern among the faithful and the wider community. Similarly, Phil Baniewicz, also once sued for similar allegations, was appointed the head of a school within the same archdiocese. The appointment of an alleged child molester to such a position has understandably caused turmoil within the parish, a situation that was not alleviated by the Archbishop’s recent intervention, which did not go well.

What? You thought…

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Catholic Church in Spain suspends priest alleged to be involved in Viagra sales

PLASENCIA (SPAIN)
WION (World Is One News) [New Delhi, India]

February 24, 2024

By Apoorna Sharma

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Following accusations of drug trafficking, including the sale of Viagra, a Spanish priest from Don Benito in the western Extremadura region has been temporarily suspended by the Roman Catholic Church. 

The diocese of Plasencia, responsible for the priest’s community, revealed that he was detained on Monday (Feb 19) under suspicion of “trafficking narcotic substances,” prompting his provisional release by the investigating judge.

Expressing pain and dismay at the suffering and scandal caused by the events, the diocese has decided to temporarily remove the priest from public ministry and his role as parish priest while awaiting clarification on the situation.

The clergyman, whose identity remains undisclosed, is receiving psychological and spiritual accompaniment following his arrest.

Spanish media reports indicate that the priest, accompanied by a second arrested man alleged to be his lover, was engaged in the trafficking of Viagra, aphrodisiacs, and narcotics.

The two individuals, under police surveillance for several…

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Muskogee Catholic school teacher’s assistant charged with rape and sexual abuse, police say

MUSKOGEE (OK)
KOKI-TV, Fox-23 [Tulsa OK]

February 23, 2024

By Fox 23 new staff

Read original article

A teacher’s assistant at St. Joseph Catholic School in Muskogee was arrested after a sexual abuse investigation, according to the Muskogee County Sheriff’s Dept.

On Feb. 20, the Muskogee County Sheriff’s Dept. received a report of child sexual abuse involving 3 children.

Police say after investigation, Johnathan Wiedel was arrested on charges of rape in the first degree, rape by instrumentation, lewd acts with indecent proposals to a child under sixteen, and sexual abuse of children.

According to a press release from the Roman Catholic Diocese of Tulsa, St. Joseph Catholic School immediately excused Wiedel from all his parish and school duties until further notice.

“We have wonderful parish and school communities,” said Fr. Richard Cristler, pastor of St. Joseph Catholic Church and School in the press release. “I would ask that everyone join me in praying that this matter is resolved in a quick and just manner.”

The press…

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Police: Warren County priest arrested after stealing from Walmart, drunkenly fleeing police

ALPHA (NJ)
WFMZ-TV, Ch. 69 [Allentown PA]

February 23, 2024

By Sara Madonna

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A Warren County priest has been arrested after he allegedly stole from a Walmart and drove drunkenly to flee police.

According to Pohatcong Township Police, officers were dispatched to the Route 22 Walmart around 10:17 p.m. Monday for a shoplifting in progress.

After a store employee directed police to the thief’s vehicle, police attempted to stop the suspect — who was later identified as 39-year-old Dawid Weinerowski, of the 800 block of Fifth Avenue in Alpha Borough.

St. Mary Roman Catholic Church — where Weinerowski as a priest — is located at 830 Fifth Ave. in Alpha. 

According to police, Weinerowski drove away when police attempted to conduct a traffic stop and erratically led officers on a chase through the Parkside section of Pohatcong Township.

Police said Weinerowski’s vehicle came to a stop in the front yard of a home on Liberty Boulevard, after which he was arrested and removed from the vehicle. Goods…

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Delaware children’s pastor arrested on multiple child porn charges, officials say

SEAFORD (DE)
NBC Ch 10 [Philadelphia, PA]

February 23, 2024

By Cherise Lynch

Read original article

The Delaware Department of Justice announced Friday a former Seaford children’s pastor was arrested and charged with 10 felony counts of Dealing in Child Pornography.

James R. Dryden, 74, was arrested last week following an investigation by the state’s Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force.

Prosecutors said the investigation started after multiple CyberTips generated by Microsoft showed that Dryden’s IP address had accessed and downloaded child sexual abuse material.

After receiving tips, detectives from the Delaware State Police and investigators from the Department of Justice contacted Dryden at his home and discovered additional child sexual abuse material on his personal devices, officials said.

The Justice Department said Dryden has been a children’s pastor with Stein Highway Church of God for more than 20 years.

“The evidence in this investigation is deeply disturbing,” Attorney General Kathy Jennings said in a statement. “Nothing is more important than protecting our kids, and I’m grateful for…

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Retired New Orleans priest accused of rape may be too ill to stand trial, defense argues

NEW ORLEANS (LA)
WWLTV [New Orleans, LA]

February 23, 2024

By David Hammer

Read original article

A 92-year-old Catholic priest charged with raping a teenager after choking him unconscious is now “in and out of consciousness” himself, according to Lawrence Hecker’s defense attorney.

But Orleans Parish First Assistant District Attorney Ned McGowan vowed to “roll him in on a gurney” if necessary to try Hecker, as scheduled, on March 25.

“If the state wants to try a vegetable, they can do that,” defense attorney Bobby Hjortsberg said in a pre-trial hearing Friday, before clarifying in an interview outside court that Hecker’s medical records do not say he is a “vegetable.”

“Mr. Hecker was conscious and, in some respect, resting comfortably,” McGowan told Judge Ben Willard. “The defense has not raised mental competency issues and if they wish to do so, we will need to convene a panel very quickly.”

Hjortsberg said he and the rest of Hecker’s defense team have not been able to meet with…

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‘Just terrified.’ Another MO boarding school under fire after boys run, allege abuse

KANSAS CITY (MO)
Kansas City Star [Kansas City MO]

February 21, 2024

By Laura Bauer and Judy L Thomas

Read original article

Cierra Osborn was driving home from the store in southeast Missouri late last month when two boys jumped out from behind a tree, waving her down.

“They were screaming, hands up in the air, trying to get me to stop,” Osborn said.

When she did, the older boy had one request: “Ma’am, we just need you to call 911.”

Osborn, 20, knew little about ABM Ministries, also called Lighthouse Christian Academy. In fact, she hadn’t heard about the boarding school near her home until a couple weeks before, when she learned that another kid had run away in frigid temperatures.

Now, she stood before two more runaways, ages 12 and 14, who had walked miles without coats in temperatures hovering between the high 30s and low 40s. Osborn said they told her that staff would often berate them and hit them for things like not getting their…

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February 23, 2024

Muskogee Catholic school teacher’s assistant charged with rape and sexual abuse, police say

TULSA (OK)
KOKI-TV, Fox-23 [Tulsa OK]

February 23, 2024

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A teacher’s assistant at St. Joseph Catholic School in Muskogee was arrested after a sexual abuse investigation, according to the Muskogee County Sheriff’s Dept.

On Feb. 20, the Muskogee County Sheriff’s Dept. received a report of child sexual abuse involving 3 children.

Police say after investigation, Johnathan Wiedel was arrested on charges of rape in the first degree, rape by instrumentation, lewd acts with indecent proposals to a child under sixteen, and sexual abuse of children.

According to a press release from the Roman Catholic Diocese of Tulsa, St. Joseph Catholic School immediately excused Wiedel from all his parish and school duties until further notice.

“We have wonderful parish and school communities,” said Fr. Richard Cristler, pastor of St. Joseph Catholic Church and School in the press release. “I would ask that everyone join me in praying that this matter is resolved in a quick and just manner.”

The press…

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John Patrick Shanley on ‘Doubt,’ sex abuse and his Catholic upbringing

NEW YORK (NY)
America [New York NY]

February 23, 2024

By Rob Weinert-Kendt

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Three would seem to be a magic number for John Patrick Shanley. When his play “Doubt” first opened Off-Broadway in 2004, he was premiering another play at the Public Theater, “Sailor’s Song,” while a revival of his breakthrough two-person drama “Danny and the Deep Blue Sea,” originally written in 1983, was also playing.

This season finds the prolific playwright in the midst of another trifecta: A hit revival of “Danny” starring Christopher Abbott and Aubrey Plaza recently closed after several months at the Lortel Theatre, while a revival of “Doubt” is about to open on Broadway, starring Liev Schreiber and Amy Ryan, and “Brooklyn Laundry,” a new play about two mismatched souls played by Cecily Strong and David Zayas, is opening Off-Broadway.

In fact, as Shanley pointed out in a recent Zoom interview, “Brooklyn Laundry” and “Doubt” are opening 24 hours apart, on Feb. 28 and 29, respectively. “I have…

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Accused & Suspended, But Put Back On The Job

KANSAS CITY (KS)
Adam Horowitz Law [Fort Lauderdale, FL]

February 23, 2024

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Developments in the Catholic Church, particularly in relation to handling accusations of child molestation against clergy, have raised serious questions and concerns. The cases of clerics being accused, temporarily removed but later reinstated, sometimes in positions involving contact with children, presents a troubling pattern that warrants a deeper examination.

A Troubling Pattern Emerges

In Kansas, an accused predator priest has been moved to a parish with a school, a decision that has sparked outrage and concern among the faithful and the wider community. Similarly, Phil Baniewicz, also once sued for similar allegations, was appointed the head of a school within the same archdiocese. The appointment of an alleged child molester to such a position has understandably caused turmoil within the parish, a situation that was not alleviated by the Archbishop’s recent intervention, which did not go well.

What? You thought bishops promised…

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‘Forced to watch porn, have threesome in the name of Holy Trinity’: Former nuns reveal sexual abuse by Catholic priest close to Vatican

VATICAN CITY (VATICAN CITY)
OpIndia [New Delhi, India]

February 23, 2024

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On Wednesday (21st February), two former nuns revealed how a Slovenbia-based Catholic priest named Marko Rupnik sexually abused them three decades ago in the garb of ‘spiritual growth.’

The victims, identified as Gloria Branciani and Mirjam Kovac, were members of the Ignatius of Loyola community. The duo held a press conference in Rome on Wednesday and informed the media that Rupnik forced them to watch pornography and have a threesome in the early 1990s.

“He took me to pornographic theatres to help me ‘grow spiritually’…He said that I would not grow spiritually if I did not meet his sexual needs. We had another nun have sex with us because he said it was like the Trinity”, narrated Gloria Branciani.

“(Rupnik) was always protected by everyone, and everything that you could accuse him of was either minimized or denied…” she added.

“We hope that our testimony –…

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Australian bishop charged with abuse allegations

(AUSTRALIA)
Crux [Denver CO]

February 23, 2024

By Charles Collins

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Australian Bishop Christopher Saunders has been charged with rape and sex offences, including some with children.

The 74-year-old was arrested in Broome on Wednesday, and he has said he will plead not guilty.

The bishop is charged with two counts of rape, 14 counts of unlawful and indecent assault, and three counts of indecently dealing with a child as a person in authority. The allegations take place between 2008 and 2014. Saunders became bishop in 1996.

He’s been released on bail and will appear in court in June. He has been ordered to reside at his home in Broome.

“Allegations against the former Bishop of Broome, Christopher Saunders are very serious and deeply distressing, especially for those making those allegations,” said Perth Archbishop Timothy Costelloe, the head of the bishops’ conference.

“It is right and proper, and indeed necessary, that all such allegations be thoroughly investigated. The Church will continue…

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Church leads in combatting abuse

OTTAWA (CANADA)
The Catholic Register - Archdiocese of Toronto, Ontario, Canada

February 22, 2024

By Lea Karen Kivi

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Recent sexual abuse civil suits against leaders in the Canadian Catholic Church, including Cardinal Marc Ouellet and Quebec City Cardinal Gérald Lacroix, can leave the faithful struggling to find signs of hope. They won’t get any help by relying on typical media stories, says Gatineau Archbishop Paul-André Durocher.

In fact, Durocher expresses personal frustration at the lack of coverage of the work of hundreds of people throughout Canada and the world who are working on making safe environments.

At the start of his three-year mandate as chair of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (CCCB) committee for protection of minors and vulnerable adults, Durocher shared his own views of work being done to address abuse in the Church. He feels humbled to work with remarkable people who sit on this committee. “They really take their work to heart,” he emphasized, noting they include survivors of clergy sexual abuse.

The committee…

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Expert says Church has strong anti-abuse protocols, but they’re not being fully applied

VATICAN CITY (VATICAN CITY)
La Croix International [France]

February 23, 2024

By Hans Zollner and Loup Besmond de Senneville

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Exclusive interview with Hans Zollner SJ, one of the most credible figures involved in the Catholic Church’s effort to stop clergy sex abuse and heal its victims

“The law is not perfect in any institution,” says Jesuit priest and psychologist Hans Zollner when asked about the Vatican’s protocols to deal with clergy sex abuse.

“More broadly, the norms adopted by Rome indicate the right direction, but we currently have no mechanism to monitor their implementation,” points out the 57-year-old German, who is one of the Catholic Church’s most credible figures in fighting abuse and helping victims.

Zollner, a former member of th Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors and currently director of the Institute of Anthropology at the Gregorian University in Rome, believes the historic summit Pope Francis called in February 2019 to deal with abuse was a major step in the right direction.

But, as he explains in…

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WA Bill Requiring Clergy To Report Child Abuse Dies In House Committee

SEATTLE (WA)
InvestigateWest [Seattle WA]

February 22, 2024

By Wilson Criscione

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Committee rejected a compromise with Catholic lobbyists that survivors argued “protects abusers”

Each of the last two years, Washington state lawmakers on both sides have broadly agreed that clergy should be mandatory reporters of child abuse and neglect. 

Washington is one of just five states where that’s not required by law. Democrats and Republicans have repeatedly said, often during deeply personal and emotional debates at the state Capitol, that they want to change that. 

Yet for the second year in a row, a Washington bill to make clergy mandatory reporters of child abuse has failed. Senate Bill 6298, which passed the Senate, died in a House committee this week. The sticking point this session was once again over whether the law should contain an exception to the requirement that would have allowed priests to hide child abuse from authorities if the priest learned of it during a sacramental confession. 

Democratic…

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Survivor of child sex abuse urges Kansas lawmakers to mandate clergy reporting

KANSAS CITY (KS)
Kansas Reflector [Topeka, KS]

February 22, 2024

By Rachel Mipro

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Joe Cheray is well aware that clergy members aren’t required to report child abuse.

She remembers going to her priest as a child, asking for his help when she was being sexually abused. Cheray said he did nothing.

“Had I known back then clergy were not mandated reporters of abuse, I would’ve just went to law enforcement and the Department for Children and Families. I wouldn’t have even said anything to my church at all,” Cheray said.

Cheray, who advocates with other survivors of child sex abuse every week in the entrance of the Statehouse, is asking that ministers and clergy be required to report cases like hers.

“Had I known back then clergy were not mandated reporters of abuse, I would’ve just went to law enforcement and the Department for Children and Families. I wouldn’t have even said anything to my church at all,” Cheray said.

Earlier this month, Rep….

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Settlement reached in abuse trial

VANCOUVER (CANADA)
The Catholic Register - Archdiocese of Toronto, Ontario, Canada

February 22, 2024

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The Archdiocese of Vancouver has reached a settlement with a man who was sexually assaulted by a priest and a teacher at Holy Trinity Parish in North Vancouver in the 1970s.

The settlement was reached during the civil trial at B.C. Supreme Court in New Westminster, where the plaintiff, “John Doe,” described abuse by Fr. John Kilty and teacher Raymond Clavin.

Before the trial began, the Archdiocese acknowledged the abuse occurred but denied being negligent as an organization. 

At John Doe’s request, the terms of the settlement are not being disclosed.

In a statement, the Archdiocese said, “No words of regret can fully repair the profound horror of the past and the pain endured by victims/survivors of abuse.” It said Archbishop J. Michael Miller extended “heartfelt sorrow to the plaintiff and all victims of abuse on behalf of the Catholic community.”

Beginning in late 2018, the Archdiocese of Vancouver conducted a…

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Church of England safeguarding measures against abuse are ‘flawed’

CANTERBURY (UNITED KINGDOM)
Union of Catholic Asian News (UCA News) [Hong Kong]

February 23, 2024

By Michael Kelly

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A report, released Feb. 21, says the church cannot be trusted to investigate sexual abuse without outside involvement

A new report has revealed what it describes as conflicts of interest in the handling of allegations of sexual abuse in Britain’s established state church, the Church of England.

The report, released Feb. 21, found that despite numerous reviews, the church cannot be trusted to investigate allegations of sexual abuse without outside involvement.

The former chair of a government-ordered Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse said policies around the protection of children and vulnerable adults within the denomination are “flawed” and “cannot be sufficiently improved whilst it remains within church oversight.”

Alexis Jay concludes in the report: “(The church) needs to fundamentally change in order to restore the confidence of victims, survivors and others, including clergy.”

“This can only be achieved by being delivered by a fully independent body,” she writes. Jay…

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Rupnik, rigidity, and the deepening sham in Rome

VATICAN CITY (VATICAN CITY)
Catholic World Report [San Francisco CA]

February 22, 2024

By Christopher R. Altieri

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It shouldn’t be hard to distinguish spiritual direction from psychological torture, spiritual friendship from coercive sexual abuse and violent manipulation, spiritual formation from moral plagiarism.

Several years ago, when I was living in Rome, a confessor told me: “You are too rigid.” I don’t recall precisely what year it was, but it was toward the beginning of the Francis era and “rigidity” was still a new buzzword.

Maybe the fellow thought I really was being too hard on myself, or something. I don’t have the slightest recollection of what the matter may have been, but I know I wasn’t beating myself up about anything. It was a run-of-the-mill, number-and-kind confession that shouldn’t have taken five minutes.

I thought of that when I read Gloria Branciani’s story of how Fr. Marko Rupnik would abuse her on long car rides and in other circumstances, and how he would chide her for rigidity…

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