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.

January 12, 2012

NYC Officials Fear Of Archbishop Dolan Impedes Justice For Church Abuse Victims

NEW YORK
The New Civil Rights Movement

by Scott Rose on January 12, 2012

In August, 2011, Father James (aka Jaime Duenas) of Nativity of Our Blessed Lady Catholic Church in the New York City borough of The Bronx, was arrested on allegations that he had repeatedly molested a 16-old girl working in the rectory.

Prosecutors say Duenas told them the girl was “wearing short skirts” and that she didn’t mind “the massage.”

Wouldn’t you think that given the Catholic Church’s notorious history with child sex abuse, orders would have come down from on high that in no circumstance whatsoever was any employee of the Church to blame a victim, or even an alleged victim?

Yet prosecutors say Duenas told them that the alleged victim “liked it” and that she was wearing “short skirts.”

A victim advocacy group attempted to educate the community about the realities of how sexual abusers operate. But many in the community circled wagons in defense of their priest, with an implied negative judgement about the complaining witness in the case, the 16-year-old girl.

Note: This is an Abuse Tracker excerpt. Click the title to view the full text of the original article. If the original article is no longer available, see our News Archive.

German priest admits to 280 instances of sex abuse

GERMANY
Reuters

BERLIN | Thu Jan 12, 2012

(Reuters) – A Catholic priest admitted in a German court on Thursday to sexually abusing three boys over eight years, including one he was preparing for his first communion and two brothers during trips that included Disneyland in Paris, German media reported.

The 46-year-old, named in court documents as Andreas L., admitted to charges of abusing the boys from 2004.

“The worst aspect is that he exploited their trust,” said Klaus Ziehe, lead court prosecutor in the central city of Braunschweig, in comments published by Sueddeutsche Zeitung newspaper.

Note: This is an Abuse Tracker excerpt. Click the title to view the full text of the original article. If the original article is no longer available, see our News Archive.

Catholic Church in Belgium wants priest sex abusers to pay victims

BELGIUM
The Journal (Ireland)

Flemish

French

BELGIUM’S CATHOLIC CHURCH announced today that priests and clergy who abused children will be required to pay damages, even when victims make their claims after the country’s statute of limitations has expired.

The church — in an overall response on how to deal with the abuse scandals that have enveloped it — urged victims to initially take their cases to civil authorities.

But it also said it was willing to impose penalties ranging from apologies to financial compensation, both for recent cases and for those so old they can no longer be brought to court. Over the past two years, more than 500 witnesses have come forward with accounts of molestation by Catholic clergy in Belgium, spanning several decades.

Note: This is an Abuse Tracker excerpt. Click the title to view the full text of the original article. If the original article is no longer available, see our News Archive.

KC man claims sexual harassment, wrongful firing from diocese office

KANSAS CITY (MO)
The Kansas City Star

By JUDY L. THOMAS
The Kansas City Star

A former employee of the Kansas City-St. Joseph Catholic diocesan archives is suing the diocese, claiming he was sexually harassed at work then fired after repeatedly complaining about it.

The civil lawsuit, filed by Larry Probst this week in U.S. District Court, alleges that Probst was subjected to sexually offensive language, sexual advances and pornography on the computers at work. The suit seeks relief under the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

The diocese said in a statement that Probst worked part-time in the archives on an intermittent and as-needed basis when funds were available from June 2005 until June 2011.

Note: This is an Abuse Tracker excerpt. Click the title to view the full text of the original article. If the original article is no longer available, see our News Archive.

Calls for Dutch Bishops’ Resignations

NETHERLANDS
America Magazine

Leading politicians in the Netherlands have called for the resignations of Catholic bishops in the wake of a damning report on sexual abuse in the Dutch church. On Dec. 17, 2011, Holland’s deputy prime minister, Maxime Verhagen, said the church has been “profoundly damaged” and bishops should consider resigning. Released on Dec. 16, 2011, the report found that somewhere between 10,000 and 20,000 Dutch children suffered abuse, ranging from unwanted sexual advances to rape, during the period of 1945 to 2010.

Note: This is an Abuse Tracker excerpt. Click the title to view the full text of the original article. If the original article is no longer available, see our News Archive.

Former employee accuses Catholic Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph for fostering a ‘se

KANSAS CITY (MO)
Pitch

Posted by Justin Kendall on Thu, Jan 12, 2012

In late November, a whistle-blower named Larry Probst accused the Catholic Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph of fostering a “sexually hostile workplace.” Two months later, Probst is the latest person to file a lawsuit against the diocese.

Probst worked at the diocese as a part-time archivist at the Chancery office. He started in 1999 or 2000 on an intermittent basis and then “on a more regular, permanent, part-time basis” in 2007. His lawsuit says the “unwanted and unwelcome sexual harassment from his supervisory priests” and from a co-worker started in spring 2010 and continued until June 30, 2011, when he was fired for what he claims was retaliation for complaining about the unwanted advances.

The lawsuit says the Rev. Charles Michael Coleman, who served as Archivist for the Chancery, hired his friend, a man named Michael St. George, to do data entry from the sacramental records into a computer program called “Parish-Soft.” The lawsuit alleges that Coleman and the Rev. Robert Cameron “fawned over” St. George in front of Probst. The lawsuit says Coleman, Cameron and others would talk “about St. George in sexually suggestive ways … in the presence of” Probst.

Note: This is an Abuse Tracker excerpt. Click the title to view the full text of the original article. If the original article is no longer available, see our News Archive.

Brochure helpt geestelijken bij aanpak van seksueel misbruik

BELGIE
Knack

donderdag 12 januari 2012

Brugge – Een brochure moet kerkleiders en priesters helpen in een éénduidige aanpak van seksueel misbruik binnen de Kerk. De afgelopen maanden werkten de Belgische bisschoppen samen met enkele professoren aan het beleidsdocument. Het kiest duidelijk de kant van de slachtoffers, en bevat vijf krachtlijnen.

Note: This is an Abuse Tracker excerpt. Click the title to view the full text of the original article. If the original article is no longer available, see our News Archive.

Mouners flock to Raftery funeral

IRELAND
Inside Ireland

By David Richardson

The funeral of journalist Mary Raftery, who died earlier this week, has taken place today in Dublin.

Among the mourners at the funeral were husband David, son Ben and mother Ita.

While Taoiseach Enda Kenny and President Michael D Higgins were unable to attend, both were represented at the emotional event by their Aide de Camps.

Also in attendance were many high-profile figures from the fields of broadcasting and journalism including RTÉ’s Director General Noel Curran and editor of the Irish Times Kevin O’Sullivan.

Note: This is an Abuse Tracker excerpt. Click the title to view the full text of the original article. If the original article is no longer available, see our News Archive.

Funeral of journalist Mary Raftery

IRELAND
RTE News

The funeral has taken place in Dublin of the journalist Mary Raftery, who died earlier this week.

Chief mourners were her husband David, son Ben and mother Ita.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny and President Michael D Higgins were represented by their Aide de Camps.

Also in attendance were many leading figures from the worlds of broadcasting and journalism including RTÉ’s Director General Noel Curran and editor of the Irish Times Kevin O’Sullivan.

Survivors of child abuse and those who represent them were also among the mourners.

Note: This is an Abuse Tracker excerpt. Click the title to view the full text of the original article. If the original article is no longer available, see our News Archive.

Supreme Court upholds “ministerial exception” in employment-bias laws

UNITED STATES
The Denver Post

By Adam Liptak
The New York Times

WASHINGTON — In what may be its most significant religious-liberty decision in two decades, the Supreme Court on Wednesday for the first time recognized a “ministerial exception” to employment-discrimination laws, saying that churches and other religious groups must be free to choose and dismiss their leaders without government interference.

“The interest of society in the enforcement of employment-discrimination statutes is undoubtedly important,” Chief Justice John Roberts Jr. wrote in a decision that was surprising in both its sweep and unanimity. “But so, too, is the interest of religious groups in choosing who will preach their beliefs, teach their faith and carry out their mission.”

The 9-0 decision gave only limited guidance about how courts should decide who counts as a minister, saying the court was “reluctant to adopt a rigid formula.”

Whatever its precise scope, the ruling will have concrete consequences for countless people employed by religious groups to perform religious work. In addition to ministers, priests, rabbis and other religious leaders, the decision appears to encompass, for instance, those teachers in religious schools with formal religious training who are charged with instructing students about religious matters.

Note: This is an Abuse Tracker excerpt. Click the title to view the full text of the original article. If the original article is no longer available, see our News Archive.

Bishops Hail Court Decision Upholding Religious Liberty

UNITED STATES
United States Conference of Catholic Bishops

January 11, 2012

WASHINGTON—“It’s a great day for the First Amendment,” said Bishop William E. Lori of Bridgeport, Connecticut, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Ad Hoc Committee on Religious Liberty.

Bishop Lori spoke January 11, shortly after the U.S. Supreme Court voted unanimously to uphold a church’s right to determine who its ministers are and banned government interference in the process. His statement follows.

The Supreme Court decision marks a victory for religious liberty and the U.S. Constitution. Freedom of Religion is America’s First Freedom and the Court has spoken unanimously in favor of it. The Founding Fathers would be proud. Respect for the long-standing “ministerial exception,” which is grounded in the Religion Clauses of the First Amendment, prevents the government from interfering in the employment relationship between a Church and its ministers. This decision makes resoundingly clear the historical and constitutional importance of keeping internal church affairs off limits to the government—because whoever chooses the minister chooses the message.It’s a great day for the First Amendment.

Note: This is an Abuse Tracker excerpt. Click the title to view the full text of the original article. If the original article is no longer available, see our News Archive.

Beleidsdocument bisschoppen moet misbruik aanpakken

BELGIE
Knack

donderdag 12 januari 2012

(Belga) De Belgische bisschoppen hebben een beleidsdocument klaar rond seksueel misbruik in de Kerk. Met de tekst willen ze de stilte rond het misbruik doorbreken en coherent en krachtdadig handelen. De bleek op een persconferentie van de Bisschoppenconferentie.

De tekst draait rond vijf krachtlijnen en wil uitdrukkelijk de kant kiezen van de slachtoffers. Hij pleit voor een rechtmatige aanpak van de daders die “veel te lang ongemoeid bleven”. Om het document in praktijk om te zetten, worden een aantal concrete maatregelen genomen. Zo zijn er sinds 1 januari tien opvangpunten operationeel die de slachtoffers moeten helpen een klacht bij het gerecht te melden. Er komt, zoals bekend, ook een arbitragecommissie die zich zal buigen over verjaarde dossiers van seksueel misbruik in de Kerk. Daarnaast wordt een interdiocesane commissie jongeren opgericht. Die moet operationeel zijn op 1 juli 2012 en zal bestaan uit experts in verschillende domeinen. (MVL)

Note: This is an Abuse Tracker excerpt. Click the title to view the full text of the original article. If the original article is no longer available, see our News Archive.

België pakt misbruikers RK-Kerk aan

BELGIE
BNR

België pakt de daders van seksueel misbruik in de kerk aan. De RK-Kerk van onze zuiderburen wil misbruikers uit hun gezagspositie verwijderen.

Zij moeten ook als eersten bijdragen aan de financiële tegemoetkomingen voor slachtoffers.

Dat stellen de Belgische bisschoppen in een beleidsdocument over de aanpak van seksueel misbruik, dat donderdag in Brussel werd gepresenteerd.

Note: This is an Abuse Tracker excerpt. Click the title to view the full text of the original article. If the original article is no longer available, see our News Archive.

Beleidsdocument bisschoppen pakt misbruik aan

BELGIE
Het Nieuwsblad

De Belgische bisschoppen hebben een beleidsdocument klaar rond seksueel misbruik in de Kerk. Met de tekst willen ze de stilte rond het misbruik doorbreken en coherent en krachtdadig handelen. De bleek donderdag op een persconferentie van de Bisschoppenconferentie.

‘Verborgen verdriet – Naar een globale aanpak van seksueel misbruik in de Kerk’ draait rond vijf krachtlijnen en wil uitdrukkelijk de kant kiezen van de slachtoffers. Hij pleit voor een rechtmatige aanpak van de daders die ‘veel te lang ongemoeid bleven’.

Note: This is an Abuse Tracker excerpt. Click the title to view the full text of the original article. If the original article is no longer available, see our News Archive.

IPB: ‘BISSCHOPPEN EN OVERSTEN GEVEN BLIJK VAN AANSPREEKBAARHEID EN DAADKRACHT’

BELGIE
KerNet

BRUSSEL (KerkNet/IPB) – Het Interdiocesaan Pastoraal Beraad (IPB) is positief over de vanmiddag in Brussel voorgestelde beleidstekst van de bisschoppen en de hogere oversten rond de aanpak van de problematiek van seksueel misbruik. IPB-voorzitter Josian Caproens noemt ‘Verborgen verdriet – Naar een globale aanpak van seksueel misbruik in de katholieke Kerk’, zoals de in brochurevorm gegoten beleidstekst is getiteld, een waardevol en evenwichtig document. De bisschoppen en hogere oversten van België zijn er in geslaagd om in een serene maar duidelijke taal de stilte rond seksueel misbruik te doorbreken. Met hun document geven ze effectief blijk van aanspreekbaarheid en daadkracht, tekenen van een nieuw beleid voor een kerk van vandaag en morgen.

Note: This is an Abuse Tracker excerpt. Click the title to view the full text of the original article. If the original article is no longer available, see our News Archive.

The Shame of Celibacy

UNITED STATES
Huffington Post

C. Brian Smith

I was saddened to learn of the resignation this week of Gabino Zavala, Auxiliary Bishop of the Los Angeles Roman Catholic Archdiocese.

This is not another sexual abuse case involving a priest. Like many, I am skeptical of the Catholic Church. It’s a sketchy place. And yet, as a resident of Los Angeles, I benefit from the Church’s moral and financial presence here — a presence that lifts up entire sections of the city. This is particularly the case in Latino communities, which make up 65 percent of the 5 million Catholics living in Los Angeles. The strength of these communities is the strength of LA.

By all accounts, Gavino Zavala is not just one of the good guys, he’s one of the very best guys. One who has served the tragically underserved Latino community of East LA for 35 years. One who has been an outspoken advocate for immigration rights. One who is largely responsible for widespread prison reform. One who has worked tirelessly to improve conditions for the working poor.

It turns out, like billions of people, he is also a parent. And because of this, he is no longer a priest.

Note: This is an Abuse Tracker excerpt. Click the title to view the full text of the original article. If the original article is no longer available, see our News Archive.

Hidden Suffering: Toward a Comprehensive Approach to Sexual Abuse in the Church

BRUSSELS (BELGIUM)
Belgian Bishops and Religious Superiors

January 12, 2012

[Below we provide a translation of the table of contents and of the first paragraphs of the report. The report was released in Flemish and French versions.]

Table of Contents

Part I: Lessons learned from painful stories
1. Breaking the silence 9
2. Origin of sexual abuse 11
3. Proximity and distance 14
4. Do not let abusers in peace 15

Part II: Milestones for the treatment and prevention of sexual abuse
1. Towards a comprehensive and integrated approach 19
2. Roads of recognition and repair services 21
3. Barred and non-barred offenses 22
4. Ten local collection points 24
5. Restorative mediation 29
6. Arbitration 30
7. Criminal procedure 32
8. Future of the abuser 35
9. Increase prevention 37
10. Transparency and cooperation among all those responsible 41
Conclusion 45
Bibliography 47
Appendices (Contact Information) 51

In recent months we have been deeply affected by a wave of poignant stories of sexual abuse within the Church Catholic. As bishops and religious superiors, we first kept silent, except to answer questions from the Special Commission on the treatment of sexual abuse and acts of pedophilia in positions of authority, especially within the Church and to present an initial response through the media. This silence was not indifference. It had nothing in common with a desire to conceal the facts. It revealed our amazement; we humbly bowed our heads, and beneath the shock, we wondered how serious these occurrences were. Over the last eighteen months, the opportunity was offered to us personally to listen to victims, most often, unfortunately, for the first time. The stories were then associated with the names and faces, often after years of hidden suffering and sadness. The harm inflicted on victims by our failure to recognize the facts filled us, the leaders of the church, with sadness. It is true that sexual abuse and ethics contradict the message that the Church would spread.

After a period of in-depth study, the time has come for us to act in a consistent and energetic manner. Thanks to the help of experts from various disciplines, we have developed a comprehensive plan of action on sexual abuse in the Church and its impact on victims. The thrust of this action plan is summarized in the text presented below.

First and foremost, we would like to listen to victims of abuse sex and those who assist them. We want to spend time and provide the space so that they can express their grief, their pain and anger. We cannot retrieve the past [to change it]. We can only, as far as possible, try to offer what was then most lacking in the first place — humanity and solidarity. In dialogue with the victims, we want to find the best way to assist them. In this policy document, we offer several ways of doing so.

Note: This is an Abuse Tracker excerpt. Click the title to view the full text of the original article. If the original article is no longer available, see our News Archive.

Monk removed as Goochland abbey’s administrator

VIRGINIA
Richmond Times-Dispatch

By: Kristen Green | Richmond Times-Dispatch
Published: January 12, 2012

The Catholic monk in charge of the Mary Mother of the Church Abbey in Goochland County, which owns and operates Benedictine College Preparatory school, has been removed from the position pending the outcome of an investigation into an allegation of sexual misconduct.

The Rev. Luke Travers, a former headmaster of the elite Delbarton School in New Jersey, was removed from his role as the Virginia abbey’s canonical administrator Wednesday pending the outcome of the inquiry, said Hugh Anderson, president of the American Cassinese Congregation. Travers is also prohibited from having contact with juveniles or young adults.

The decision to remove Travers came after a letter was sent this week to Anderson and the Most Rev. Francis Xavier DiLorenzo, bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Richmond, asking them to re-evaluate Travers’ role. The letter from Patrick J. Marker, a resident of Washington who advocates for victims of monk misconduct, outlined allegations of misconduct by Travers against two unidentified male victims. Marker said the misconduct was sexual in nature, included the kissing of one victim’s neck and ears and the touching of another victim’s crotch, and happened in New Jersey.

Note: This is an Abuse Tracker excerpt. Click the title to view the full text of the original article. If the original article is no longer available, see our News Archive.

Misbruik Driebergen verjaard, toch kans op vergoeding

NEDERLAND
RTV Utrecht

DRIEBERGEN – Ook al zijn de misbruikzaken rond pastoor Bert Sturkenboom verjaard, toch maken de slachtoffers nog kans op een schadevergoeding. Dat vertelde advocaat Martin de Witte in U Vandaag op RTV Utrecht.

Hij vertegenwoordigt twee van de drie slachtoffers die aangifte deden van seksueel misbruik in de periode dat de pastoor in Driebergen werkte. Dat was ongeveer dertig jaar geleden en daarom zijn de zaken strafrechtelijk gezien verjaard.

Note: This is an Abuse Tracker excerpt. Click the title to view the full text of the original article. If the original article is no longer available, see our News Archive.

Slachtoffer seksueel misbruik doet oproep voor stil protest

NEDERLAND
RKnieuws

HENGELO (RKnieuws.net) – Frank Oude Geerdink, slachtoffer van seksueel misbruik binnen de Rooms-Katholieke Kerk, heeft andere slachtoffers opgeroepen voor een stil protest op zondag bij de eucharistieviering in de Lambertuskerk in Hengelo.

De viering wordt rechtstreeks uitgezonden op tv. Hoofdcelebrant in de viering is aartbisschop Wim Eijk. De basiliek hoopt op veel tv-kijkers en een volle kerk. Oude Geerdink, die in zijn jeugd werd misbruikt door een pastoor in zijn woonplaats Albergen, wil met andere slachtoffers een statement maken maken tegen het kerkmisbruik.

Note: This is an Abuse Tracker excerpt. Click the title to view the full text of the original article. If the original article is no longer available, see our News Archive.

‘Centraal meldpunt misbruik kerk’

NEDERLAND
Kerknieuws

Er moet één centraal meldpunt komen voor slachtoffers van seksueel misbruik in de Rooms-Katholieke Kerk. Dat zeggen slachtofferorganisaties Klokk en Slachtofferhulp Nederland. Ook moet er een campagne komen om het meldpunt bekendheid te geven. Er is hiervoor inmiddels een subsidie van 700.000 euro aangevraagd.

Na het opheffen van de commissie Deetman is het onduidelijk voor slachtoffers waar ze met hun verhaal terecht kunnen. Deetman adviseerde zelf ook al een dergelijk meldpunt op te richten.

Note: This is an Abuse Tracker excerpt. Click the title to view the full text of the original article. If the original article is no longer available, see our News Archive.

Justices shield churches from job bias suits by religious workers

UNITED STATES
St. Louis Post-Dispatch

WASHINGTON • In a groundbreaking case, the Supreme Court on Wednesday held for the first time that religious employees of a church cannot sue for employment discrimination.

The court’s unanimous decision in a case involving a church and school in Michigan owned and operated by a member congregation of the St. Louis-based Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod was the first time the high court has acknowledged a “ministerial exception” to anti-discrimination laws.

This doctrine — developed in lower court rulings — says the First Amendment’s guarantee of freedom of religion shields churches and their operations from the reach of such laws when the issue involves religious employees of these institutions.

The ruling does not, however, specify the distinction between a secular employee, who can take advantage of the government’s protection from discrimination and retaliation, and a religious employee, who can’t.

Note: This is an Abuse Tracker excerpt. Click the title to view the full text of the original article. If the original article is no longer available, see our News Archive.

Supreme Court Recognizes ‘Ministerial Exception’ to Employment-Discrimination Laws

UNITED STATES
The Chronicle of Higher Education

By Peter Schmidt

Washington

[Updated with additional reaction and details about the concurring opinions, 5:38 p.m.]

In a decision with major implications for church-affiliated colleges and their employees, the U.S. Supreme Court on Wednesday unanimously held that the First Amendment precludes the application of federal employment-discrimination laws to religious institutions’ personnel decisions involving workers with religious duties.

Many federal appeals courts and state courts had previously declared that there exists a “ministerial exception” to employment-discrimination laws rooted in the First Amendment’s clauses protecting religious freedom. Wednesday’s ruling, however, is the first in which the Supreme Court formally recognized the “ministerial exception” as legal doctrine.

Although the case involved a lawsuit brought by a teacher who had been fired from a now-defunct religious elementary school, it was watched closely by many religious colleges, which had urged the court to safeguard their religious freedom, and advocates for the employees of such institutions, who had argued that a Supreme Court decision in favor of the school could leave colleges emboldened to cite the ministerial exception as a pretext for trampling employees’ rights.

Note: This is an Abuse Tracker excerpt. Click the title to view the full text of the original article. If the original article is no longer available, see our News Archive.

U.S. Supreme Court rules in favor of Redford Township church firing

UNITED STATES
Detroit Free Press

[Supreme Court decision via BishopAccountability.org]

By Niraj Warikoo
Detroit Free Press Staff Writer

In a landmark decision hailed by conservative Christians and advocates for religious liberty, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled Wednesday in favor of a Redford Township church’s firing of a teacher.

The case centered on Cheryl Perich, who developed narcolepsy and sought to keep her job, which the church said she no longer could perform.

The court’s ruling upheld the legal principle that houses of worship have what’s called a ministerial exception, meaning they are exempt from some government laws, such as anti-discrimination laws. Such an exception allows the Catholic Church to ban women from being priests, for example.

In a unanimous decision, the court ruled that it was legal for Hosanna-Tabor Evangelical Lutheran Church and School in Redford Township to fire Perich after she complained she was being discriminated against because of a disability.

Note: This is an Abuse Tracker excerpt. Click the title to view the full text of the original article. If the original article is no longer available, see our News Archive.

New Supreme Court Ruling Should End Hysteria Over Religious Liberty

UNITED STATES
The Daily Beast

Conservative religious groups have long predicted that church freedom would perish at the hands of “activist judges.” But the Supreme Court’s new exemption of religious groups from discrimination laws should silence the false alarms.

In its first major religious-freedom case in decades, the Supreme Court on Wednesday sided with a Pennsylvania Lutheran school that fired a teacher after she took disability leave for narcolepsy, then returned mid-year demanding her job back. The Hosanna-Tabor Evangelical Luther School, part of a church of the same name, told the teacher they had hired a contractor to take her place through the end of the year, and that they were concerned about her physical readiness to return to work. Church members offered to help pay her insurance bills if she resigned, but she threatened to sue instead. She made good on her promise when the school fired her, claiming it had illegally discriminated against her because of her disability.

The court based its decision in Hosanna-Tabor v. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission on a long history of reverence for the “ministerial exception”—the idea that it violates the First Amendment for the state to interfere in who religious groups hire and fire. The decision hinged on a broad definition of “minister,” arguing that because she was ordained, considered “called” by God to her position, and collected religious-tax breaks, the teacher is the type of person religious groups should be able to select—and get rid of—without state interference. “The church must be free to choose who will guide it on its way,” Chief Justice John Roberts wrote for the court. Though this case itself didn’t involve a hot-button issue, it firmly established that churches have the right to discriminate in hiring.

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US top court upholds church hiring discrimination

UNITED STATES
AFP

WASHINGTON — The US Supreme Court has unanimously upheld the right of churches to discriminate in their employment decisions, calling it a matter of separation of church and state.

In the decision reached Wednesday, the court defended the so-called “pastoral exception” in the case of a Michigan teacher who was fired from a religious school after taking an extended sick leave.

She filed a complaint with the government based on laws prohibiting discrimination against Americans with disabilities, but the court ruled it had no jurisdiction over the employment decisions of religious institutions.

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Supreme Court Rules on Hiring & Firing Practices by Church’s [POLL]

UNITED STATES
KFYO

By: Chad Hasty

Church’s can hire and fire anyone they want and the government can’t get involved. That was the decision handed down yesterday by the United States Supreme Court. According to FOX News: “

The Supreme Court has sided unanimously with a church sued for firing an employee on religious grounds, issuing an opinion on Wednesday that religious employers can keep the government out of hiring and firing decisions.

In the case of Hosanna-Tabor v. EEOC, Cheryl Perich, a “called” teacher, argued that the Hosanna-Tabor Evangelical Lutheran Church and School of Redford, Mich., had discriminated against her under the Americans With Disabilities Act by refusing to reinstate her to her job after she took leave for narcolepsy.

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Molest victim granted new civil trial against Catholic diocese

CALIFORNIA
Bakersfield Now

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KBAK/KBFX) — A man who was molested by his priest as a boy is getting a new civil trial against the Roman Catholic Diocese of Fresno.

In an earlier trial, it was found that the priest had molested many children, but because of the statute of limitations, the Diocese wasn’t liable. Brothers George and Howard Santillan were molested for years, starting in 1959, by their priest Monsenior Anthony Herdegen.

In 2009, the Santillan brothers took their case to court. During that trial it was proved that Herdegen had molested them and other children. However, the jury found that the Diocese had no knowledge of the abuse and therefore wasn’t responsible.

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Thieving priest deserves to be treated like any other criminal

LAS VEGAS (NV)
Las Vegan Review-Journal

Jane Ann Morrison

THE THIEVING, GAMBLING MONSIGNOR WHO STOLE $650,000, MOSTLY FROM HIS CHURCH’S VOTIVE CANDLE FUND, HAS HIS SUPPORTERS WHO WANT HIM TO RECEIVE PROBATION FRIDAY

Posted: Jan. 12, 2012

I’m not one of them.

Nor is the U.S. Department of Probation, which recommends he spend 33 months in prison, which is the low end of the federal sentencing guidelines. The high end would be 41 months.

U.S. District Judge James Mahan won’t be bound by the probation recommendation when he sentences Monsignor Kevin McAuliffe at 10 a.m. Friday. He can show leniency. Or not.

McAuliffe’s attorney, Margaret Stanish, has an uphill battle when she argues his gambling addiction and his mental disorders and depression are reason to give him clemency. She’s arguing for probation, so he can stay an active priest and help other gambling addicts.

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Survey of Survivor Wants and Needs — Preliminary Results

UNITED STATES
The Garden of Roses: Stories of Abused and Healing

Virginia Jones

All priests and members of religious orders should sign each reply (to this survey) submitted, and included their own estimate of how much money they personally intend to pay for the damages to victims and when. Responses will then be initialed by their immediate supervisors, collated and tabulated by their superiors, audited by victim owned accounting firms, results published in all the places named in Question 8b, which would be mandatorily subscribed to by every church, and placed daily on the dining table in every residence inhabited by priests and members of religious orders. The independent auditor would also be hired by priests and members of religious orders to conduct an evaluation of effectiveness for the aforementioned process with continual review and change, in perpetuity.

–Anonymous survivor of clergy abuse

I really appreciate this survivor’s support. I quite agree with him, but I can’t even remotely attempt to do this without much more support from many more people. Please help for the sake of this survivor and many other survivors. Both survivors and their family members or loved ones can fill out this survey — please, only one response per survivor.

You can take the survey of survivor wants and needs here: Survey of Survivor Wants and Needs for Healing

Origin of the Survey

I started working on this survey on what clergy abuse survivors want and need for healing in the Fall of 2006, after contacting Olan Horne. Olan is a Massachusetts resident who was abused by the very prolific abuser, Fr. Joseph Birmingham. He worked with other survivors abused by Fr. Birmingham to organize meetings between survivors and both Cardinal Law and Cardinal O’Malley. He later met with Pope Benedict XVI. Olan also participated in an advisory group for the US Conference of Bishops on a survey of survivors and their experiences with the Catholic Church. Olan advised me to conduct a survey of what survivors wanted and needed for healing. It seemed obvious to me that he was correct. I wrote down a list of things survivors had suggested to me from Olan, Ray Higgins (father of a survivor and founder of the Therapy Trust for Victims of Clergy Sex Abuse) of Santa Barbara, California, and Elizabeth Goeke, then the SNAP support group facilitator here in Portland, Oregon, as well as ideas I had seen in numerous newspaper articles. Some ideas included in the survey were inspired by the work of Aaron Lazare MD, former Dean of the University of Massachusetts School of Medicine. Dr. Lazare studied apology for more than 20 years and is an expert on the healing power of effective apology. I presented my ideas to three different Victims’ Assistance Coordinators who worked for the Catholic Church, but they were not interested in my in put. So I sought advice on the construction of the survey from an instructor and researcher in the School of Social Work at Portland State University. She advised me on the construction of the survey.

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Pastor Accused Of Bigamy: Kansas Church Leader Keenan Darnell Allegedly Has Two Wives

KANSAS
Huffington Post

A Kansas pastor’s wife says her husband was marrying other people while they were together — and in at least one case he wasn’t acting as the officiant.

Toni Darnell says that her husband of 17 years is a bigamist. He allegedly applied for a new marriage license as the couple continued to work out a messy divorce, KCTV first reported.

The pastor and his other wife allegedly exchanged vows, the TV station reports.

In the summer of 2010, Pastor Keenan Darnell moved his wife and three children from Missouri to lead the Glorious Life Church in Derby, Kansas. That’s when Toni says Keenan abandoned her.

“I didn’t see it coming. He left me for another woman in the church. I moved to Wichita to pastor a church. He left me homeless and broke, so I had to move back home to the KC area,” said Toni Darnell.

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SNAP’s Founder Blaine Wrote Letter For Child Porn Doc; Now She Blasts Mother Teresa

UNITED STATES
TheMediaReport

Dave Pierre

In 2009, Dr. Steve Taylor, a Louisiana psychiatrist, faced serious trouble for downloading child pornography and “possessing more than 100 sexually explicit pictures of children.”

Shockingly, Barbara Blaine, the founder of SNAP (Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests), wrote a passionate letter to the Louisiana State Board of Medical Examiners on behalf of the criminal doctor.

Because Dr. Taylor had worked extensively with SNAP, Blaine reportedly pleaded that the Board “consider Taylor’s humanitarian work and professional contributions to victims of childhood sexual abuse” before punishing him.

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Got junk mail from Jeffs?

IDAHO
Standard Journal

JOYCE EDLEFSEN

Mailings by the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints filled with revelations by imprisoned Warren Jeffs are going unopened in Madison and Fremont counties.

The polygamist sect, led by Jeffs, has included officials in the two counties on its mailing list. Using scripture-like language, the letters and packets of information proclaim Jeffs’ teachings and encourage recipients to buy books and other materials. Some of Jeffs’ revelations mentioned in the letters include messages that God will “send a full tidal wave of tsunami judgement,” and decries the sin of “outward abuse of women.” The letter also warns the President of the United States saying he “heedeth not the God over all.”

Fremont County Commission Chairman Skip Hurt says county officials have been receiving the documents, some via Priority Mail packaging, for several weeks.

Most of the packages have been thrown away without being opened, with the last batch arriving on the commissioners’ desks Monday.

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Charge laid in historic case

CANADA
Leader-Post

By Barb Pacholik, Leader-Post
January 11, 2012

An allegation that dates back decades has a 65-year old former Saskatchewan man before the court on a sex-related charge.

The charge against George Lyons Cargo, now of Neepawa, Man., is scheduled to return to Kamsack Provincial Court on Feb. 7. He’s accused of indecent assault on a female, an offence alleged to have occurred between Jan. 1 and Dec. 31, 1979 when the complainant was age seven. With subsequent changes to the Criminal Code, such an allegation today would result in a sexual assault charge.

According to a news release issued Tuesday by Kamsack RCMP, a 38-yearold woman came to police in July last year to report an incident alleged to have occurred at her residence in the Togo district in 1979. The woman had not previously disclosed the allegation to police.

At the time of the 1979 allegation, Cargo was residing in Canora.

As a minister in the United Church, Cargo has worked in several communities around Manitoba and Saskatchewan, including Canora and, in more recent years, Neepawa and area.

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Guest column > Catholic Church at a major crossroads?

NEW JERSEY
Shore News Today

Wednesday, 11 January 2012
Brian Cunniff

The news that more than 40 Catholic schools, including five high schools, in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia are in line for closure at the end of the current scholastic year has torn through the region over the last week.

With so many residents here at the Jersey Shore originally from the Philadelphia area, the news has affected many people locally, many of whom have a great chance to see their grammar and/or high schools merged with others or closed altogether.

It’s a stark reality in the current Catholic education system and the current Catholic Church in general – economics, declining enrollment in schools and attendance at mass, the changing demographics of many neighborhoods, lack of available priests, etc.

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Justices Rule Ministers Exempt From Anti-Bias Laws

UNITED STATES
NRP

[with audio]

[Supreme Court decision via BishopAccountability.org]

January 11, 2012

The U.S. Supreme Court for the first time has declared that the Constitution exempts ministers from the nation’s anti-discrimination laws. Wednesday’s decision was unanimous and groundbreaking — but it left unresolved some of the thorniest questions in determining who is a minister and who is not.

The court’s ruling came in the case of Cheryl Perich, a teacher at the Hosanna-Tabor Lutheran Church and School in Michigan. In 2004, Perich took leave when she was diagnosed with narcolepsy. But when her doctor certified her to return to work, the school asked her to resign, so she threatened to sue under the Americans with Disabilities Act.

“Their response was to fire me,” Perich said. “I can’t fathom how the Constitution would be interpreted in such a way as to deny me my civil rights as an elementary school teacher.”

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‘That Sorry Decade’: Change is painful but necessary

UNITED STATES
PhillyBurbs

By HARRY WOODRUFF

“That Sorry Decade” the 1960s! Columnist J.D. Mullane embraces minor changes in Catholic Church liturgy but laments a time of great changes in the 1960s and refers to that period as “That Sorry Decade.” He apparently did not experience that decade but must have heard about it from others of his conservative ideology. Conservatives don’t like change. Progressive means change.

Our society and culture were changed dramatically in the 60s and for the better when civil rights, gender equality, and a rejection of a failed war by American citizens forever altered the landscape of this great country.

History has shown that “real change” always brings upheaval as the “old” way of doing things is no longer acceptable nor possible. In the 60s decade, black and brown people refused to accept discrimination and demanded inclusion in the “American Dream.” Women became empowered and refused to accept their second-rate status in employment, education and other areas. Homosexuals began their quest to be treated equally in the “Land of the free and the home of the brave.” Young adults subject to the draft and other conscientious members of society protested the government’s reasons for and participation in the costly, disastrous war in Vietnam. The “Sexual Revolution” also emerged as young adults and others began to reject the puritanical societal and religious views on sexuality.

There were some “sorry” activities that were happening also; increased drug use and abuse, riots in the streets, subversive militant groups formed. Change was and is not always positive.

It was also a time when child sexual abuse was buried in the culture. A “sorry” time when allegations of child sexual abuse by priests were routinely resolved by moving the priest to a new parish often able to continue with their criminal behavior. Decisions that the Catholic Church deals with to this day.

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Muncie pastor’s attorney fails in bid for mistrial in sexual abuse case

MUNCIE (IN)
The Star Press

Written by
DOUGLAS WALKER

MUNCIE — Matthew Kidd’s attorney failed in a bid to have a mistrial declared on Wednesday, when a second witness testified he had been subjected to groping and fondling by the Muncie pastor.

Kidd, 55, is charged with child molesting, sexual misconduct with a minor and vicarious sexual gratification over his alleged dealings with three teenage members of his then-Pentecostal church.

The pastor’s accusers are brothers, and defense attorney Steven Bruce has suggested their allegations are motivated by greed. The alleged victims — two of whom are now in their 20s — and their family are also pursuing a civil lawsuit targeting Kidd, his church and other defendants.

One of the brothers testified Tuesday. Chief Deputy Prosecutor Judi Calhoun called his two siblings to the stand Wednesday.

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Catholic Priests requested to pay 60 euros a month…

IRELAND
Pannone

Catholic Priests requested to pay 60 euros a month into a fund to cover pay-outs for clerical abuse

It has been reported by the BBC that Catholic Priests in a diocese in the Republic of Ireland have been asked to pay into a fund. This request was made by Rev Dermot Clifford, the Archbishop of Cashel and Emly diocese in the Republic of Ireland. A fund already existed to cover clerical abuse, but this is dwindling.

Curates have been requested to pay 50 euros per month and Parish Priests have been asked to pay 60 euros into the fund, to allow compensation to victims of Clergy Abuse.

The diocese said the request had stemmed from a recent meeting of the diocese’s Council of Priests, where it was suggested that the Archbishop make an appeal to Priests asking them to help restore the abuse fund.

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Child Abuse Lawsuit Initiated Against Catholic Diocese

CALIFORNIA
Sokolove Law

by Sokolove Law Staff on Jan 11 2012

Six brothers now in their 40s and 50s are suing a Catholic diocese in California over sexual abuse they suffered at the hands of a priest years ago in what may turn into a landmark child abuse lawsuit.

According to the Legal Intelligencer (subscription required) the brothers brought their request to the California Supreme Court. The brothers have filed an abuse lawsuit against the diocese that they say allegedly knew that the priest, Donald Broderson, had molested children in the past. While the molestations occurred in the 1970s, the brothers were only able to link the incidents to ongoing distress in 2006.

While abuse cases such as this are usually limited by a statute of limitations, California law allows for adults who have connected psychological problems to events childhood events to pursue a lawsuit in some cases.

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January 11, 2012

Germans prefer the Dalai Lama over the Pope

GERMANY
Vatican Insider

German weekly “Stern” has published the results of a survey, which have sparked much debate

Alessandro Alviani
Berlin

If Germans had to choose between the Dalai Lama and “their” Pope as a spiritual model from which to draw inspiration, they would choose the Tibetan spiritual leader without a doubt. This is according to the results of a survey carried out by the Forsa Institute for Social Research and Statistical Analysis, for weekly newspaper Stern, on newsstands from tomorrow, 12 January.

Just a third of federal citizens (32%) see Benedict XVI as a model; the Dalai Lama on the other hand is favoured by 69% of Germans and ranks third in the list of individuals Germans consider to be exemplary figures. The former South African President and leader of the anti-apartheid movement Nelson Mandela takes first position (82%), followed by former German chancellor Helmut Schmidt (74%).

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Seminarians to live as group apart

IRELAND
The Irish Times

PAMELA DUNCAN

TRAINEE PRIESTS at Ireland’s national seminary in Maynooth are to be separated from the rest of the student body, according to an article in the current edition of the Irish Catholic.

This would see seminarians separated from the 8,000-strong student body of the National University of Ireland, Maynooth. The report says that doors have been installed at the college, separating the seminarians’ living quarters from the rest of the campus; a new entrance to the seminary has been constructed to the rear of the building; and proposals that the trustees of the college create a separate dining room for the seminary community have been put forward.

Msgr Hugh Connolly, president of St Patrick’s College, Maynooth, told the Irish Catholic that he was “trying to get the balance right between the need for the seminary to be a distinctive, prayerful community and ensure that the seminarians have all the benefits that the Maynooth campus has to offer.

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What we can learn from recent high-profile sex abuse cases

NEW YORK
Queens Ledger

by Margaret Markey

Details continue to unfold about the shocking scandals over allegations of child sexual abuse and coverup at Penn State University and at Syracuse University here in New York.

Shocking as these cases are, the rape and sexual abuse of children is sadly a national epidemic. The statistics about this national plague are startling:

• 20 percent of America’s children suffer sexual abuse, according to the National Institute of Justice;

• Of those, 56 percent suffer their abuse at the hands of family members or other people they trust and respect; and

• Only 10 percent of predators are ever exposed

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Why rush to make Mother Teresa a saint?

UNITED STATES
Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests

Posted by Barbara Blaine on January 11, 2012

A newly-revealed letter strongly suggests that Mother Teresa lobbied Jesuit officials to put an accused pedophile priest put back on the job quickly.

But Catholic officials refuse to answer a simple question: did Mother Teresa actually write that letter? It seems extremely like that she did. But church supervisors in the Vatican and at the Jesuit headquarters won’t answer any questions about the letter.

That raises another simple question: Why the rush to make Mother Teresa a saint?

Almost every day, new documents or evidence or testimony surfaces, shedding new light on the church hierarch’s on-going cover up of clergy sex crimes. Prudent leaders, who care about the feelings of their followers, would move slowly before praising officials who may have ignored, concealed or enabled horrific child sex crimes.

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Supreme Court Backs Church in Landmark Religious Liberty Case

UNITED STATES
ABC News

By Ariane de Vogue
@Arianedevogue

The government must stay out of hiring and firing decisions by a religious organization, even if a minister sues for employment discrimination, the Supreme Court ruled on Wednesday.

Religious freedom groups praised the decision, and especially the fact that it came from a unanimous court.

“The fact that the court was unanimous underlines how essential a part of religious liberty is the principle that churches and synagogues get to select their religion teachers,” said Jay Sekulow of the American Center for Law and Justice. “Government has no business deciding who should or should not carry out religious ministry, and we’re delighted the high court reached that conclusion.”

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Church-state separation extends to religious schools, Supreme Court rules

UNITED STATES
The Kansas City Star

By DAVID G. SAVAGE
Tribune Washington Bureau

WASHINGTON The Supreme Court gave churches and religious schools a new shield against civil rights claims from their employees, ruling Wednesday that the principle of church-state separation bars bias suits from teachers who serve as “ministers” of the faith.

In a unanimous ruling, the high court for the first time held the Constitution includes a “ministerial exception” that protects churches and their schools from undue interference from the government and its courts.

The First Amendment protects the “free exercise” of religion, and Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. said “the state infringes” on this religious freedom if it forces a church or its schools to accept or retain “an unwanted minister. … The church must be free to choose those who will guide it on its way.”

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Supreme Court unanimously rejects government oversight of churches

UNITED STATES
Catholic News Agency

Washington D.C., Jan 11, 2012 / 05:58 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- The U.S. Supreme Court unanimously ruled on Jan. 11 to uphold the “ministerial exception” that allows religious organizations to hire and fire ministers without interference from the government.

The decision marks a “big rejection of this administration’s treatment of religious liberty,” said Mark Rienzi, an attorney for the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, which helped represent Hosanna-Tabor Evangelical Lutheran Church in the case.

Rienzi told CNA on Jan. 11 that the Hosanna-Tabor case is “easily the most important religious freedom case in the last 20 years.”

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Breathing room for religious liberty?

UNITED STATES
America Magazine

Posted at: Wednesday, January 11, 2012
Author: Kevin Clarke

The U.S. bishops were more than pleased with today’s unanimous Supreme Court ruling in the Hosanna-Tabor Evangelical Lutheran Church and School v. EEOC. In a groundbreaking decision that had been anxiously anticipated by religious bodies across the country, the court held that a “ministerial exception” to antidiscrimination laws means that religious employees of a church cannot sue for employment discrimination. The notion of a “ministerial exception” had been developed in lower court decisions; the exception means that the First Amendment’s guarantee of freedom of religion shields churches and their operations from the reach of protective federal laws when the issue involves employees of these institutions.

“The interest of society in the enforcement of employment discrimination statutes is undoubtedly important,” Chief Justice John Roberts Jr. wrote for the court. “But so too is the interest of religious groups in choosing who will preach their beliefs, teach their faith, and carry out their mission.” Roberts said allowing anti-discrimination lawsuits against religious organizations could end up forcing churches to take religious leaders they no longer want.

“Such action interferes with the internal governance of the church, depriving the church of control over the selection of those who will personify its beliefs,” Roberts said. “By imposing an unwanted minister, the state infringes the Free Exercise Clause, which protects a religious group’s right to shape its own faith and mission through its appointments.”

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St. Louis Lutheran leader responds to landmark Supreme Court case

UNITED STATES
St. Louis Post-Dispatch

[Supreme Court decision via BishopAccountability.org]

WASHINGTON • In a groundbreaking case, the Supreme Court on Wednesday held for the first time that religious employees of a church cannot sue for employment discrimination.

But the court’s unanimous decision in a case from Michigan did not specify the distinction between a secular employee, who can take advantage of the government’s protection from discrimination and retaliation, and a religious employee, who can’t.

It was, nevertheless, the first time the high court has acknowledged the existence of a “ministerial exception” to anti-discrimination laws – a doctrine developed in lower court rulings. This doctrine says the First Amendment’s guarantee of freedom of religion shields churches and their operations from the reach of such protective laws when the issue involves employees of these institutions.

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More U.S. Catholics take complaints to church court

UNITED STATES
The Telegraph

January 11, 2012

NEW YORK (AP) – Parents upset by the admission policy at a parochial school. Clergy and parishioners at odds over use of their building. A priest resisting a transfer to another parish.

It was once assumed that disagreements like these in the Roman Catholic Church would end one way: with the highest-ranking cleric getting the last word.

But that outcome is no longer a given as Catholics, emboldened following the clergy abuse scandals that erupted a decade ago this month, have sought another avenue of redress.

In recent years, clergy and lay people in the United States have increasingly turned to the church’s internal legal system to challenge a bishop’s or pastor’s decision about even the most workaday issues in Catholic life, according to canon lawyers in academia, dioceses and in private practice. Sometimes, the challengers even win.

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Victims Of Pedophile Priests Are “Pitiful Malcontents” Says Catholic League

BOSTON (MA)
The New Civil Rights Movement

by David Badash on January 9, 2012

The rape victims of the Catholic Church’s pedophile priests are “professional victims,” and ”a pitiful bunch of malcontents” unable to move on, according to Bill Donohue, the head of the Catholic League.

Today, in response to this weekend’s “10th Anniversary Celebration & Conference: Confronting the Crimes & Cover-up of Sexual Abuse by the Boston Clergy,” the Catholic League’s Bill Donohue stated,

A whopping 75 people turned out for the conference, 25 of whom were the speakers. How embarrassing. It’s clear that the professional victims’ lobby is spent. Everyone else has moved on, but those who have an ideological, emotional or financial interest in continuing this saga cannot let go. What a pitiful bunch of malcontents.

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Polish priest testifies for first time in clergy sex abuse trial

POLAND
U.S. Catholic

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

By Jonathan Luxmoore Catholic News Service

OXFORD, England (CNS) — A Polish priest testified that a man reported to him that he was sexually abused by the former rector of a parish in Kolobrzeg, Poland.

The testimony Jan. 6 from the unnamed priest is believed to be the first by one cleric against another accused of sexual abuse in Poland. The trial comes amid growing complaints about the church’s lack of response to abuse allegations against clergy.

The trial was scheduled to continue Jan. 12.

“The victim told me about his trauma,” the priest told the Regional Court in Koszalin in the trial of Father Zbigniew Ryckiewicz, former pastor of St. Wojciech Parish in Kolobrzeg, who is charged with abusing two juvenile male altar servers from 1998 to 2001.

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Keith Ruby, Quaker School Teacher, Charged With Child Sex Offences

UNITED KINGDOM
Huffington Post UK

A former teacher at a top boarding school has been charged with a string of sexual offences against children, police have said.

Keith Ruby, 35, faces a total of 21 allegations involving two victims including sexual activity with a child, engaging in sexual activity and indecent assault, Avon and Somerset Police said.

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HUGE DEFEAT FOR OBAMA

UNITED STATES
Catholic League

In a unanimous decision, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled today that churches are entitled to make employment decisions without interference by the government. In doing so, the high court affirmed what is known as the doctrine of “ministerial exception,” the long-standing right of churches to be shielded from discrimination lawsuits brought by employees.

Catholic League president Bill Donohue spoke to this issue today:

This is a great victory for religious liberty and a huge defeat for the Obama administration. Last October, when the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in this case, the Obama administration’s lawyer proved to be such a secular zealot that she stunned even the more liberal members of the high court. Leondra R. Kruger made such an extremist argument that she even got Justice Elena Kagan to agree wholeheartedly with Justice Antonin Scalia.

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Supreme Court Decision in Hosanna-Tabor a Major Win for Religious Freedom

UNITED STATES
The Foundry

Thomas Messner

January 11, 2012 at 1:56 pm

Today the U.S. Supreme Court issued a unanimous decision that resoundingly affirms the freedom of religious groups to choose their own ministers.

Hosanna-Tabor Evangelical Lutheran Church and School v. EEOC involved a lawsuit brought by an employee against a church-operated school. The employee alleged that her employment was terminated in violation of a federal anti-discrimination law.

The question in this case was “whether the Establishment and Free Exercise Clauses of the First Amendment bar such an action when the employer is a religious group and the employee is one of the group’s ministers.”

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Supreme Court upholds ‘ministerial exception’

UNITED STATES
JTA

January 11, 2012

WASHINGTON (JTA) — The U.S. Supreme Court upheld the right of religious institutions to use “ministerial exception” to fire staff, but stopped short of setting its parameters.

A number of Jewish groups had closely watched Hosanna-Tabor Evangelical Lutheran Church and School v. the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), a case in which a teacher alleged that a Michigan religious school had violated the American with Disabilities Act in firing her.

The school claimed that Cheryl Perich, who suffers from narcolepsy, was exempt from protection as a minister. Perich and the EEOC countered that most of her work involved secular teaching.

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High Court Backs Ministries’ Right to Hire, Fire at Will

UNITED STATES
Christian Broadcasting Network

In a surprising unanimous decision from the U.S. Supreme Court Wednesday, all nine justices ruled the government has no right to tell a religious organization what ministerial employees it can hire and fire.

The case involved Cheryl Perich, a teacher fired by the Hosanna-Tabor Evangelical Lutheran Church and School in Redford, Mich.

Perich sued the school after she was fired, claiming discrimination.

However, the justices all backed up what’s known as the “ministerial exemption,” which protects religious employers.

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Supreme Court: Churches Can’t Be Sued By Ministers For Employment Discrimination

UNITED STATES
Huffington Post

WASHINGTON — Employees of religious organizations whose job duties reflect “a role in conveying the Church’s message and carrying out its mission” are barred by the First Amendment from suing over employment discrimination, said the Supreme Court in a unanimous opinion handed down Wednesday morning.

The decision in Hosanna-Tabor Evangelical Lutheran Church and School v. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission was the first time the Supreme Court had endorsed the “ministerial exception” to discrimination protections that many courts of appeals have come to recognize over the past several decades.

“Requiring a church to accept or retain an unwanted minister, or punishing a church for failing to do so, intrudes upon more than a mere employment decision,” wrote Chief Justice John Roberts on behalf of the entire Court. “By imposing an unwanted minister, the state infringes the Free Exercise Clause, which protects a religious group’s right to shape its own faith and mission through its appointments.”

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Groundbreaking Supreme Court Decision Hailed by Reform Movement

UNITED STATES
Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism

Contact: Eric Harris or Molly Benoit
202.387.2800 | news@rac.org

WASHINGTON, D.C., January 11, 2012 – The United States Supreme Court unanimously overturned an earlier ruling by the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Hosanna-Tabor Evangelical Lutheran School and Church v. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and held that there is a “ministerial exception” from anti-discrimination laws. The Union for Reform Judaism filed an amicus brief in conjunction with the American Jewish Committee in favor of the petitioner, Hosanna-Tabor Evangelical Lutheran Church and School seeking a balanced approach between religious and other civil rights. In response to the decision Rabbi David Saperstein, Director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, issued the following statement:

“We are encouraged by the Supreme Court’s robust interpretation of the ‘ministerial exception’ and the recognition of the right of religious institutions to determine who can act as their clergy. This decision marks the first time the Supreme Court has affirmed a wide range of federal Circuit Court opinions upholding the doctrine of the ‘ministerial exception. The Supreme Court’s acknowledgement that religious institutions are exempted from government regulations in their hiring and firing practices in regard to clergy is a favorable decision for ensuring religious autonomy in a limited manner that still maintains vital anti-discrimination laws that protect the rights of employees of all faiths and no faith.

The Court found that Ms. Perich, whose lawyers argued that she had been fired from the Hosanna-Tabor School in violation of anti-discrimination laws, was properly classified as a minister. The opinion stated that the Establishment and Free Exercise Clauses of the First Amendment ‘bar suits brought on behalf of ministers against their churches, claiming termination in violation of employment discrimination laws.’ We are gratified that the Court agreed with our position on those aspects of this case.

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Unanimous Supreme Court Finds for Church in EEOC Fight

UNITED STATES
Corporate Counsel

Tony Mauro
The National Law Journal

January 12, 2012

A surprisingly unanimous Supreme Court on Wednesday endorsed a “ministerial exception” to employment discrimination laws, asserting that under the First Amendment, government must keep its nose out of the hiring and firing of clergy.

“When a minister who has been fired sues her church alleging that her termination was discriminatory, the First Amendment has struck the balance for us,” wrote Chief Justice John Roberts Jr. for the Court in Hosanna-Tabor Evangelical Lutheran Church v. EEOC. “The church must be free to choose who will guide it on its way.”

The ruling ends a lawsuit filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission on behalf of Cindy Perich, a teacher and “commissioned minister” at a Lutheran school in Michigan. She claimed she had been fired in retaliation for threatening to file a lawsuit under the Americans With Disabilities Act. She disputed the school’s treatment of her after she was diagnosed with narcolepsy, and the school said she was fired for insubordination and failure to follow internal dispute resolution procedures.

All 12 federal appeals courts have long recognized some form of a ministerial exception, but the Supreme Court had not given its imprimatur until today. Religious groups celebrated the ruling, with the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty proclaiming it as “the most important religious liberty case in 20 years.”

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High court upholds religious school ‘ministerial exception’ to ADA bias charge

UNITED STATES
Business Insurance

WASHINGTON—A religious school can claim a “ministerial exception” to a discrimination charge under the Americans with Disabilities Act for a teacher who also taught secular subjects, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled unanimously Wednesday.

However, in its decision in Hosanna-Tabor Evangelical Lutheran Church and School vs. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission et al., the nation’s highest court said the ministerial exception bars only employment discrimination lawsuits.

“We express no view on whether the exception bars other types of suits, including actions by employees alleging breach of contract or tortious conduct by their religious employers. There will be time enough to address the applicability of the exception to other circumstances if and when they arise,” Justice John Roberts wrote for the court.

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Supreme Court Decision in Hosanna-Tabor v. EEOC

WASHINGTON (DC)
U.S. Supreme Court

[See also the 10/5/11 oral argument.]

The case before us is an employment discrimination suit brought on behalf of a minister, challenging her church’s decision to fire her. Today we hold only that the ministerial exception bars such a suit. We express no view on whether the exception bars other types of suits, including actions by employees alleging breach of contract or tortious conduct by their religious employers. There will be time enough to address the applicability of the exception to other circumstances if and when they arise.

* * *

The interest of society in the enforcement of employment discrimination statutes is undoubtedly important. But so too is the interest of religious groups in choosing who will preach their beliefs, teach their faith, and carry out their mission. When a minister who has been fired sues her church alleging that her termination was discriminatory, the First Amendment has struck the balance for us. The church must be free to choose those who will guide it on its way.

The judgment of the Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit is reversed.

It is so ordered.

[pp. 21-22]

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Blame Lazy Catholicism for School Closings

UNITED STATES
The Philly Post

By Chris Freind 1/11/2012

The message from headquarters was sent to field agents worldwide: “This is your mission, if you choose to accept it. Take one of the most powerful institutions in the history of mankind and change it so radically—in all the wrong ways—that in the span of 50 years, it will be a shell of its former self, relegated to a backwater shaped only by the sad ghosts of the past.”

Was this a Mission Impossible communiqué sent at the height of the Cold War to implode the Soviet Union? Or a message pertaining to another mammoth entity: the Roman Catholic Church? There is one critical difference. The Soviets fell due to outside forces. The Church, while admittedly having its fair share of outside “attackers,” is falling from within, and most of its decline is entirely of its own making.

The above message could well have come from St. Peter’s Basilica in 1965. The “field agents?” Cardinals, bishops and priests. The objective: Implement Vatican II.

The result? Disaster.

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Results of visitation of women religious quietly submitted

UNITED STATES
National Catholic Reporter

Three years after its announcement caused a mixture of anxiety, anger and resentment among many sisters, the results of a Vatican-initiated apostolic visitation of U.S. women religious have been quietly submitted to Rome.

News of the submission came in a press release from the visitation’s U.S. office Jan. 9.

According to Catholic News Service, Jesuit Fr. Federico Lombardi, the Vatican spokesperson, confirmed Jan. 10 that the Vatican’s congregation for religious life had received the reports and “is now studying them.”

Sr. Kieran Foley, the communications liaison for the visitation’s U.S. office, told NCR her office does not have a comment on the submission. The next steps for the investigation are “entirely up to the [Vatican] congregation,” she said.

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Church membership cancellations in decline

AUSTRIA
Austrian Independent

The number of people leaving the Catholic Church has decreased dramatically.

Official figures show that Austria’s dioceses recorded a 32 per cent decline in membership cancellations from 2010 to 2011. The year 2010 was dominated by intense public discussions about education practices at boarding schools run by the Church as hundreds of people came forward to say they were abused in a physical or sexual manner. Most of the incidents occurred in the 1960s and 1970s – too long ago to file charges against the offenders, according to Austria’s controversial legal regulations.

Calls for financial compensation and a decrease of paying members caused immense financial pressure on the Roman Catholic Church of Austria which is, at 5.4 million members, still the country’s strongest denomination. Overall, 58,603 left the Church last year. The number of annual membership cancellations climbed from 26,380 in 1981 to 44,304 in 1995 and 52,177 in 2004.

The strongest decline of membership cancellations was recorded by the Diocese of St. Pölten as 4,969 Lower Austrians left the Church in 2011, 36 per cent fewer than in the previous year. Tyrol’s Innsbruck Diocese and the Vorarlberg Diocese of Feldkirch recorded a 35 per cent decline each. Gurk-Klagenfurt Diocese in Carinthia and Linz Diocese in Upper Austria followed with 34 per cent each. The number of Catholic Church membership annulations dropped in all nine provinces of the country. Salzburg Diocese recorded the smallest decrease (minus 14 per cent).

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Mother Teresa, Rape Apologist

UNITED STATES
SFist

Like the Dali Lama, Mother Teresa enjoyed dancing on the dark side via the occasional bout of fame-mongering. But who wouldn’t fall prey to the siren song of celebrity and fortune? Unlike the Dali Lama, however, Mother Teresa (née Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhi) defended pedophilic priests. In fact, the Nobel Prize-winning nun — now on the fast track to sainthood from the Vatican — defended a Bay Area priest accused and convicted of sexual molestation back in the 1993, had him reinstated. And act that resulted in more horrifying sexual abuse.

In a page-turning cover story this week in SF Weekly, Peter Jamison reports:

… [D]ocuments obtained by SF Weekly suggest that Mother Teresa knew one of her favorite priests was removed from ministry for sexually abusing a Bay Area boy in 1993, and that she nevertheless urged his bosses to return him to work as soon as possible. The priest resumed active ministry, as well as his predatory habits. Eight additional complaints were lodged against him in the coming years by various families, leading to his eventual arrest on sex-abuse charges in 2005.
The priest was Donald McGuire, a former Jesuit who has been convicted of molesting boys in federal and state courts and is serving a 25-year federal prison sentence. McGuire, now 81 years old, taught at the University of San Francisco in the late 1970s, and held frequent spiritual retreats for families in San Francisco and Walnut Creek throughout the 1980s and 1990s. He also ministered extensively to the Missionaries of Charity during that time.

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Czech government approves compensation for religious groups for property seized by Communists

CZECH REPUBLIC
Newser

By KAREL JANICEK | Associated Press

Churches were seized, priests jailed or executed and those allowed to lead religious services did so under the watchful eye of the secret police. More than 22 years after the fall of Communism, the Czech government agreed Wednesday to pay billions of dollars in compensation for property seized by the former totalitarian regime.

The deal at one point, however, threatened to topple the coalition government after a junior partner this week voiced anger at the thought of huge sums being paid to churches given the current economic gloom.

But in a country where indifference to religion is strong _ a legacy of the Soviet plan to create one of the most atheist states in their orbit _ the compensation plan _ to be spread over 30 years _ proved a win-win situation: The state no longer wanted to pay the priests’ salaries, and religious organizations expressed relief after previous failed attempts.

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Tainted Saint: Mother Teresa Defended Pedophile Priest

UNITED STATES
San Francisco Weekly

By Peter Jamison
Wednesday, Jan 11 2012

The death of journalist and polemicist Christopher Hitchens last month gave those familiar with his work a chance to revisit one of his more controversial subjects: the Albanian nun Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu, better known to the world as Mother Teresa. In his 1997 book, The Missionary Position: Mother Teresa in Theory and Practice, Hitchens argued that the “Saint of Calcutta,” who founded and headed the international Missionaries of Charity order, enjoyed undeserved esteem.

Despite her humanitarian reputation and 1979 Nobel Peace Prize, Mother Teresa had set up a worldwide system of “homes for the dying” that routinely failed to provide adequate care to patients, Hitchens argued — an appraisal shared by The Lancet, a respected medical journal. Mother Teresa also associated with, and took large sums of money from, disreputable figures such as American savings-and-loan swindler Charles Keating and the dictatorial Duvalier family of Haiti.

Notwithstanding these black marks on an otherwise sterling reputation, Mother Teresa — who died in 1997 and is now on the fast track to a formal proclamation of sainthood by the Vatican — was never known to have been touched by the scandal that would rock the Roman Catholic Church in the decade after her death: the systematic protection of child-molesting priests by church officials.

Yet documents obtained by SF Weekly suggest that Mother Teresa knew one of her favorite priests was removed from ministry for sexually abusing a Bay Area boy in 1993, and that she nevertheless urged his bosses to return him to work as soon as possible. The priest resumed active ministry, as well as his predatory habits. Eight additional complaints were lodged against him in the coming years by various families, leading to his eventual arrest on sex-abuse charges in 2005.

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OM Utrecht nodigt vertegenwoordiger misbruikslachtoffers uit voor gesprek

NEDERLAND
Openbaar Ministerie

10 januari 2012 – Arrondissementsparket Utrecht

Het Openbaar Ministerie Utrecht en het Slachtofferloket Utrecht hebben vandaag KLOKK uitgenodigd voor een gesprek. Aanleiding is de suggestie vandaag in diverse media dat er geen onderzoek wordt gedaan naar het seksueel misbruik in de jaren ’80 door een pastoor. Ook zou het OM niet openstaan om recente zaken te onderzoeken.

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Misbruikslachtoffers RKK trekken kort geding in

NEDERLAND
AD

De slachtoffers van misbruik binnen de Rooms-Katholieke Kerk (RKK) die eind november een kort geding aanspanden tegen de Staat, zien daar van af.

Een geplande zitting op 16 januari gaat daarom niet door. Dat heeft advocaat Anneke Bierenbroodspot vandaag laten weten.

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San Diego priest pleads not guilty to sex battery

SAN DIEGO (CA)
Mercury News

The Associated Press
Posted: 01/11/2012

SAN DIEGO—A Roman Catholic priest accused of fondling a woman at his San Diego home has pleaded not guilty to sexual battery.

An attorney for Jose Davila entered pleas Tuesday to three misdemeanor counts. U-T San Diego (http://bit.ly/zPfxwa) says the priest didn’t attend his arraignment but about 50 supporters showed up.

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Gevangenisregels aangescherpt voor veroordeelde sekteleider Warren Jeffs

TEXAS
Reformatorisch Dagblad (Nederland)

WASHINGTON – De gevangenisregels zijn aangescherpt voor Warren Jeffs, leider van de Fundamentalistische Kerk van Jezus Christus van de Heiligen der Laatste Dagen. Hij overtrad onlangs het reglement omdat een telefoontje van hem was opgenomen en afgedraaid in zijn kerk. Jeffs is vorig jaar veroordeeld tot levenslang.

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Brazil: Flight ended for pedophile priest

IRELAND
Vatican Insider

The 72-year old Father Peter Kennedy of Ireland, accused of abusing 55 children, fled to South America eight years ago. The time for his extradition has come

GIACOMO GALEAZZI
Vatican City

His flight lasted eight years. The “Kennedy case” has long created confusion in public opinion, already shaken by what government reports have gradually revealed about pedophilia among Irish clergy. To evade justice, the 72-year-old Father Peter Kennedy (accused of sexually abusing 55 children in Ireland) had escaped to Brazil. Now the Brazilian authorities have ordered the extradition of the priest who was fired in 2003, in the middle of one of the major scandals of the Irish clergy. At 11 p.m. the evening of the notification of extradition, Father Kennedy was on a plane to London, where Irish officials were waiting for him. Eight years ago, one of his victims was granted compensation of €300,000 by the court. The boy had reported being raped by the priest when he was 13, after his family had moved to a home in County Sligo due to his father’s death from cancer.

Father Kennedy disappeared a few weeks after the trial ended, after which an additional 18 victims came forward, accusing him of various abuses dating back to 1980. Gradually, the police found more and more victims, and his position soon became very serious. At that time it was already believed that the priest had fled to Brazil and, in 2004, according to the Daily Mail, Interpol issued a “blue notice” against him, formally asking for his arrest and expatriation. Investigations revealed that Father Kennedy used a British passport to travel from London to Brazil, settling in Osasco, on the outskirts of Sao Paulo, where he earned a living teaching English.

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Child Rape Victims “Pitiful Bunch of Malcontents”: Catholic Group

UNITED STATES
Care2

by Paul Canning
January 10, 2012

Catholic League President Bill Donohue has called victims of priest abuse and their advocates and supporters a “pitiful bunch of malcontents” and “professional victims.”

He made the comments on the League’s website in response to a conference organized to mark a decade since the Boston Catholic Church abuse scandal emerged. The comments are illustrated with an image of a crying baby.

He also said that Catholics had “moved on” and were not “wallowing in negativity.”

Donohue has been criticized multiple times for comments seen as lacking any sensitivity towards the victims of abuse by the church.

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Vocations director seeks broad range of qualities in future priests

SAN FRANCISCO (CA)
Catholic San Francisco

January 11th, 2012
By George Raine

You would think it would be counterproductive for Father David Ghiorso, vocations director for the Archdiocese of San Francisco and pastor of St. Charles Parish in San Carlos, to say “no” more than “yes” to men who show an interest in the seminary, given the relatively thin ranks in the priesthood.

He said five men last year were somewhat easy calls: They were 55 and older, which would give them senior status after some seven years in the seminary. Others lacked, by Father Ghiorso’s standards, fire in the belly.

“They have to be people who are going to take charge,” said Father Ghiorso, who succeeded Bishop Thomas Daly as vocations director when, in May, then-Father Daly became auxiliary bishop of the Diocese of San Jose.

The seminary is very structured, Father Ghiorso said: “‘This is what you do and when you do it.’ When you get to a parish no one is going to be telling you what to do. You are going to take initiative.”

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Maynooth tightens up seminary life – Michael Kelly

IRELAND
The Irish Catholic

Michael Kelly

The national seminary at Maynooth is to clearly separate the seminary environment from the wider university community The Irish Catholic understands.

In a move that will be seen in some quarters as a nod to the past when seminary life was completely separated from the outside world, it is believed that the changes are part of the Apostolic Visitation’s attempt to ‘reform’ training structures for priests in Ireland.

Separation doors have already been installed on the main cloister to partition the seminarians’ living quarters from the rest of the campus to which only members of the seminary community now have keys.

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Warren Jeffs: God will curse U.S. president with indecisiveness

UNITED STATES
The Salt Lake Tribune

Lindsay Whitehurst

Well, more Warren Jeffs revelations came into the Utah Attorney General’s Office today. Here they are.

A few highlights:

– In a handwritten revelation dated 12/26, Jeffs signs himself as president of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. Yep, you read that right. He left out the “Fundamentalist,” making it look like he considers himself the head of the all of Mormondom — even though the mainstream Mormon church, of course, renounced polygamy more than 100 years ago and has no connections to the FLDS. Or maybe he just needs a proofreader.

– Indecisiveness is apparently coming to the President of the United States. From a revelation dated 12/27:

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Brown County commissioners inundated with letters from sect leader Warren Jeffs

SOUTH DAKOTA
Aberdeen News

By Scott Waltman, swaltman@aberdeennews.com

Brown County commissioners are among the elected officials in South Dakota getting letters from an imprisoned sect leader and his supporters.

Commissioners said at their Tuesday meeting said that they’re regularly getting letters and packages from Warren Jeffs, head of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.

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Eerste misbruikslachtoffers kerk vragen vergoeding

NEDERLAND
Nieuws

(Novum) – De eerste slachtoffers van seksueel misbruik binnen de rooms-katholieke kerk hebben compensatie aangevraagd. Van de 61 mensen die tot nu toe in aanmerking komen voor een vergoeding hebben 41 slachtoffers de procedure doorlopen. Dat meldt het Meldpunt Misbruik RKK dinsdag.

Een compensatiecommissie gaat zich nu over de aanvragen buigen. De eerste resultaten worden begin februari verwacht. Afhankelijk van de ernst van het misbruik kunnen slachtoffers een vergoeding tussen de vijfduizend en honderdduizend euro krijgen.

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Court considers jurisdiction, other matters in Mater Dolorosa trespassing hearing

SPRINGFIELD (MA)
Iobserve

By Terence Hegarty

SPRINGFIELD – Questions from Hampden Superior Court Judge C. J. Moriarty regarding whether the Diocese of Springfield has the jurisdiction to have protesters removed from a closed Holyoke church dominated a 2 p.m. court proceeding Jan. 4.

However, Attorney John J. Egan, principal attorney for the diocese, argued before the judge that the case “has nothing to do with jurisdiction,” and asked Judge Moriarty to consider the diocese (as a corporation sole) as he would any other property owner. In that context, Egan said, Moriarty should only consider “whether or not the defendants are trespassing.”

“The question is, whether, under civil law, there are any rights to ownership,” Egan said.

Following an hour of hearing arguments from both Egan and attorneys Victor Anop and Peter Stasz, representing the Friends of Mater Dolorosa, Judge Moriarty adjourned the hearing, declaring that he would take the arguments “under advisement.”

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Vatican used Wikipedia for new cardinals’ biographies

VATICAN CITY
BBC News

The Vatican has acknowledged that it used Wikipedia to produce biographies of 22 new cardinals that were sent out to journalists.

The biographies were copied from the Italian version of the user-edited online encyclopedia, word for word in some cases, and without attribution.

One clue was that many new cardinals were described as being “Catholic”.

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Sex charge laid in historic Sask. case

CANADA
Leader-Post

REGINA — An allegation that dates back decades has a 65-year-old former Saskatchewan man before the court on a sex-related charge.

The charge against George Lyons Cargo, now of Neepawa, Man., is scheduled to return to Kamsack Provincial Court on Feb. 7. He’s accused of indecent assault on a female, an offence alleged to have occurred between Jan. 1 and Dec. 31, 1979 when the complainant was age 7. With subsequent changes to the Criminal Code, such an allegation today would result in a sexual assault charge.

According to a news release issued Tuesday by Kamsack RCMP, a 38-year-old woman came to police in July last year to report an incident alleged to have occurred at her residence in the Togo district in 1979. The woman had not previously disclosed the allegation to police.

At the time of the 1979 allegation, Cargo was residing in Canora.

As a minister in the United Church, Cargo has worked in several communities around Manitoba and Saskatchewan, including Canora and, in more recent years, Neepawa and area.

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Former Lawrence man sentenced to jail, probation in child sex abuse case

LAWRENCE (KS)
6 News

By 6News Staff on January 10, 2012

Christopher Cormack was sentenced to 30 days in jail and 3 years probation Tuesday for indecent liberties with a child. He’ll also have to register as a sex offender

Cormack had a sexual relationship with a 15-year-old church member starting in 1999, while serving as a youth group leader at Trinity Lutheran Church, 1245 New Hampshire.

Cormack was convicted of the crime in 2008, but granted a new trial in the case last year. The man, who now lives in Abilene, took a plea deal with prosecutors instead of going to trial a second time.

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Most influential and finest journalist of last 25 years

IRELAND
The Irish Times

FINTAN O’TOOLE

MARY RAFTERY was arguably the finest Irish journalist of the last 25 years and unarguably the most influential.

Because of her, there are two groups of people for whom Ireland will never be the same again. The Catholic hierarchy will never recover the authority it lost when she exposed its systematic covering up of child abuse and Irish children will never again be so utterly exposed to systematic exploitation by those in power.

At a time when the value and the values of professional journalism are being called into question, her work stands as one of the greatest examples anywhere of the capacity of a committed, skilled and eloquent reporter to change things for the better.

I remember vividly the first time I saw Mary, in 1975, when we were both 17-year-olds newly arrived in University College Dublin. I was waiting, along with the other awkward, uncertain freshers, for a class to begin in a huge lecture theatre when this small woman appeared at the podium to tell us about problems at the College of Music, where she also studied, and to ask for support for a protest.

Everybody shut up and listened, for she was like an adult among adolescents: serious, authoritative, able to communicate with precision and clarity.

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Pioneering work in TV uncovered child abuse scandals

IRELAND
The Irish Times

PATSY McGARRY, Religious Affairs Correspondent

THE FUNERAL of journalist and broadcaster Mary Raftery (54) will take place tomorrow morning in the Royal Hospital Kilmainham, Dublin.

She died at St Vincent’s hospital in Dublin yesterday morning following an illness. She is survived by her husband David Waddell, their son Ben, her mother Ita, sister Iseult and brothers Adrian and Iain. The funeral ceremony will take place at 11am.

An outstanding journalist of her generation, she produced some of the most powerful and influential current affairs programmes broadcast on RTÉ television.

As significant were her 1999 book Suffer the Little Children – The Inside Story of Ireland’s Industrial Schools , written with Eoin O’Sullivan of Trinity College Dublin, her opinion columns for this newspaper from 2003 and her play No Escape , based on the Ryan report, which was staged at Dublin’s Peacock Theatre in 2010.

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Tánaiste says State owes ‘debt of gratitude’

IRELAND
The Irish Times

EOIN BURKE-KENNEDY

SENIOR FIGURES from the world of politics and journalism as well as abuse survivors and clerics have paid tribute to the late journalist and broadcaster Mary Raftery.

Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs Eamon Gilmore said the country owed Ms Raftery “a debt of gratitude” for exposing the physical and sexual abuse that had been suffered by children over decades at the hands of the State and church. Speaking on behalf of the Government, he said her work had “uncovered the truth, even when it was a truth that a lot of people did not want to hear”.

The Archbishop of Dublin, Dr Diarmuid Martin, said her work in exposing the cover-up behind clerical abuse had made the Catholic Church “a better place” for children. “Bringing the truth out is always a positive thing even though it may be a painful truth,” Dr Martin said.

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Hard to see justice in Lahey sentencing

CANADA
Hamilton Spectator

Viewpoint: Halifax Chronicle-Herald (excerpt)

If you’re looking to gain some perspective on last week’s quick release of disgraced former bishop Raymond Lahey, we have just the man for you. His name is Philip Latimer and he hails from Inverness County. The 50-year-old man is suing the Roman Catholic Church over sexual abuse he says he suffered as a boy at the hands of a priest who has since died.

Latimer is a welder, not a lawyer, but his layman’s insights are no less astute. “I don’t call this a justice system. I call it a legal system,” he told The Chronicle Herald after Lahey was sentenced to time served and walked out of an Ottawa courtroom.

Most Nova Scotians would be hard-pressed to disagree with that analysis. The ex-bishop of Antigonish, who was nabbed at the Ottawa airport two years ago with a cache of pornographic images of young boys on his laptop, is already on parole because he was awarded a two-for-one credit on time spent in jail while awaiting sentencing.

Lahey was lucky he was charged before the Harper government did away with such credits. If the Ontario judge in this case had sent Lahey back to jail for a few more months, it might at least have struck a blow for the silent victims — the countless, nameless children who are harmed in the production of pornography. Disappointingly, he chose not to.

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Church’s tribute to journalist who exposed sex abuse

IRELAND
Irish Independent

By Mark Hilliard

Wednesday January 11 2012

ARCHBISHOP Diarmuid Martin led yesterday’s tributes to journalist Mary Raftery, who lost her battle to cancer at the age of 54.

Ms Raftery exposed child abuse in state- and church-run institutions through her two most famous documentaries, ‘States of Fear’ in 1999 and ‘Cardinal Secrets’ in 2002.

“Bringing the truth out is always a positive thing even though it may be a painful truth,” Archbishop Martin said. …

A funeral ceremony for Ms Raftery will take place at the Royal Hospital, Kilmainham, Dublin, at 11am tomorrow.

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Advocates push for stronger child abuse prevention laws

WEST VIRGINIA
Charleston Daily Mail

by Jared Hunt
Daily Mail Capitol Reporter
Charleston Daily Mail

Children’s advocates want West Virginia lawmakers to toughen laws and invest $1 million in an effort to make sure scandals like the one that recently rocked Penn State University don’t happen here.

Representatives with Prevent Child Abuse West Virginia held a Tuesday morning breakfast meeting with about 80 legislators and government officials to encourage the state to take a more active role in preventing child abuse.

The arrest of former Penn State assistant football coach and children’s charity founder Jerry Sandusky on 40 counts of sexual abuse and assault against children last year shocked the nation.

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Sex-abuse suit against order can proceed

SOUTH DAKOTA
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

By Bruce Vielmetti of the Journal Sentinel

Jan. 11, 2012

A childhood sexual abuse lawsuit against a Hales Corners-based religious order can go forward, the Supreme Court of South Dakota has ruled.

The Priests of the Sacred Heart runs a mission school for American Indians in South Dakota. Eight former students sued the order in 2010, alleging they had been molested while they were minors attending the school in the 1970s.

The order contended the civil lawsuit was improperly served and sought to have the case dismissed. A trial judge denied the motion, and the order appealed. Last month, South Dakota’s high court agreed that while the plaintiffs initially served someone who did not meet the statutory requirement for service on a business, they did successfully serve a director of the order within a 60-day extension.

The first summons was served on the executive director of child services at the school, St. Joseph’s Indian Mission School, but he was not a registered agent of the order. A month later, in July 2010, the plaintiffs served Father Stephen Huffstetter, the president of Priests of the Sacred Heart and one of its directors.

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Witness describes alleged sexual abuse by Muncie pastor

MUNCIE (IN)
The Star Press

Written by
DOUGLAS WALKER

MUNCIE — A prosecutor on Tuesday described Matthew A. Kidd as a manipulative predator who abused the trust that came with his status as pastor of a Muncie church to sexually assault three teenagers who belonged to his congregation.

Kidd’s defense attorney, however, maintained that his client is the victim of a conspiracy with money at its root.

Delaware Circuit Court 3 jurors on Tuesday began hearing testimony in the trial of Kidd, 55, pastor of Freedom Point Apostolic Church.

The Delaware County man was charged three years ago this month with child molesting, sexual misconduct with a minor and vicarious sexual gratification. The alleged victims are brothers, two of them now in their early 20s.

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Catholic priests asked to pay 60 euros into abuse fund

IRELAND
BBC News

Priests in a Catholic diocese in the Republic of Ireland are being asked to pay 60 euros a month into a fund to cover pay-outs for clerical abuse.

The request was made by the Archbishop of Cashel and Emly, Rev Dermot Clifford. The original fund was set up five years ago, but it is dwindling.

Parish priests have been asked to give 60 euros and curates, 50 euros.

Gary O’Sullivan, editor of the Irish Catholic newspaper, said the dioceses were running out of money.

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Diocese sends Rev. Spaulding molestation case to Vatican for review

ARIZONA
East Valley Tribune

By Mike Sakal, Tribune

The case of an East Valley priest accused of molesting teenage boys is now being reviewed by a Vatican-based board in Rome which will ultimately decide whether to remove him from the priesthood.

The Diocese of Phoenix has completed its investigation into the Rev. Jack Spaulding, the former pastor at St. Timothy’s Catholic Community Church in Mesa, and forwarded the case onto the Doctrine of Faith after deeming that the allegations against Spaulding were credible. In part, the Diocese deems accusations of molestation credible if the priest served at the parish at the same time his accuser did.

In June, Spaulding, 68, resigned from St. Timothy’s and the Diocese of Phoenix suspended him after a diocesan review board deemed allegations of Spaulding having a sexual relationship with a teenage boy in 1984 and 1985 as credible. Spaulding served at St. Maria Goretti Church in Scottsdale at the time of the alleged incidents. But, the alleged victim, David Pain Jr. died in June, 2010, and the case was brought to the attention of the diocese by his father. It is believed to be the first such case brought against a priest on behalf of a deceased victim,

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Irish Continue to Struggle Over Abuse Fallout as Nuncio Takes Up Post

IRELAND
National Catholic Register

by SIMON ROUGHNEEN
01/10/2012

DUBLIN — As Archbishop Charles Brown takes up his new post of papal nuncio to Ireland, he will face what some see as unprecedented difficulties for the Church in Ireland.

After the publication of a series of reports outlining gruesome cases of sexual abuse by priests in Ireland over recent decades, coupled with a falloff in Church attendance, and less quantifiably, a perceptible decline in religious belief and practice, it’s little wonder that Archbishop Diarmuid Martin of Dublin predicted that his archdiocese faced its toughest challenge “since Catholic Emancipation,” the 1829 changes to British law that removed many of the discriminatory provisions against Catholics in the United Kingdom, of which Ireland was then a part.

Archbishop Martin was commenting on a drop in Mass attendance in Dublin to 14% and declining priest numbers, but the remarks were seen by many as appropriate to the wider Church in Ireland, which now operates within what Irish writer John Waters described to the Register as “the most anti-Catholic country in Europe.”

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Michael Mack confronts abuser in ‘Faith’

BOSTON (MA)
Boston Herald

By Tenley Woodman / theater
Wednesday, January 11, 2012

It took Michael Mack decades to reconcile, but tonight the Cambridge playwright and poet will share the secret that has haunted him since childhood.

Mack’s one-man show “Conversations with My Molester: A Faith Journey,” at Boston Playwrights’ Theatre, chronicles his struggles as a victim of abuse at the hands of a priest.

“One of the reasons I am doing this is because I lived with this secret for decades,” said Mack, 55. “The secret is like an illness. Address the problem of secrecy. Child sexual abuse is the last dark secret we have as a society.”

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January 10, 2012

Dejaeger back in Nunavut court this month

CANADA
Nunatsiaq Online

Roman Catholic priest Father Eric Dejaeger must appear in Nunavut Territorial court Jan.23 for arraignment on up to 39 criminal charges, most related to the sexual molestation of children, Justice Robert Kilpatrick said Jan. 9.

Crown prosecutor Paul Bychok and defence lawyer Andrew Mahar participated via a teleconference, and Dejaeger did not put in anappearance.

The list of allegations Dejaeger faces, which has swollen to nearly 40 counts, involves a long list of sex offences alleged to have occurred in Igloolik against children between 1978 and 1982.

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SNAP PROTECTS CHILD MOLESTERS

MISSOURI
Catholic League

The weekly St. Louis alternative newspaper, Riverfront Times, published an exchange today between reporter Nicholas Phillips and David Clohessy, director of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP).

Clohessy is quoted as saying the following about St. Louis Archbishop Robert Carlson: “Archbishop Carlson and his brother Catholic bishops have hired, hidden, transferred, defended and enabled child molesters. SNAP hasn’t. Carlson and his colleagues have ignored and concealed their crimes. SNAP hasn’t.”

Catholic League president Bill Donohue comments as follows:

I will leave it to Archbishop Carlson’s lawyers to respond to Clohessy, but I cannot allow the SNAP director to lie about his own personal involvement in the cover-up of a known child molester.

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Daniel Montague Acker Jr., Alabama Teacher Accused Of Molesting Students, Defended By Schools Chief

ALABAMA
Huffington Post

MONTGOMERY, Ala. — Two longtime Alabama school board leaders are defending the panel’s decision in 1993 to reinstate an elementary school teacher who was accused of molesting a student, even though the teacher is now charged with more abuse.

School board President Lee Doebler and Vice President Steve Martin said students, parents and community leaders encouraged the Shelby County Board of Education to return 4th grade teacher Danny Acker to his Alabaster classroom, and the board agreed 5-0. Doebler and Martin are the only board members who remain from those days, and both said they did the best they could with the information they had.

“Looking back, given the evidence we had I would have made the same vote,” Doebler said. “I wish we had some evidence, but unfortunately, we didn’t.”

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Abuse victims give Church ultimatum

MALTA
Times of Malta

The victims of clerical sex abuse are giving the Church until the end of February to reconsider its decision against compensating them financially or else they will take their case to court.

“We are giving the Church an ultimatum because we cannot remain abandoned any longer,” Lawrence Grech told The Sunday Times. Mr Grech, who spoke on behalf of the 11 men who were abused as boys at a Sta Venera orphanage, said the Church had also failed to provide the support it had promised.

Last September, the Church had ruled out financial compensation saying it had received legal advice that as an institution it did not have any responsibility for what was perpetrated by some individuals and “cannot take upon herself such responsibility”.

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Three-year study of women religious completed

UNITED STATES
National Catholic Reporter

Jan. 10, 2012
By Dennis Sadowski, Catholic News Service

WASHINGTON — A three-year study of U.S. women religious called for by the Vatican has been completed with the final comprehensive report recently sent to Rome.

No details of the findings in what the church calls an apostolic visitation were released by Mother Mary Clare Millea, superior general of the Apostles of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the apostolic visitator appointed by the Vatican to undertake the study.

Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, Vatican spokesman, confirmed Jan. 10 that reports had been received by the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life “and is now studying them.”

“At this time, it is premature to expect comments from the congregation,” he said.

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