Online clamor over fatal bike crash includes calls for Cook to resign

MARYLAND
The Baltimore Brew

[with video]

Fern Shen December 31, 2014

In the wake of the revelation that Episcopal Bishop Heather Elizabeth Cook drove off after she hit a bicyclist who later died, calls for her to be arrested and to step down from the church hierarchy have been mounting.

The Facebook page “Charge Bishop Heather Cook with Homicide” has 1,804 likes and, at the top of the page right now, is an open letter from cyclist Vince Harriman calling on Cook to resign as Bishop Suffragan.

“This is your chance to say to the world as a person, as a priest, as a bishop, that you believe in what you say about personal responsibility,” Harriman wrote.

Putting extra pressure on Cook is her high-profile spiritual role as the No. 2 official in the Maryland Diocese, serving directly under Bishop Eugene Taylor Sutton.

Cook’s own words in sermons have added a ghastly irony to the current situation.

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Tulare priest charged with embezzlement

CALIFORNIA
Fresno Bee

BY HANNAH FURFARO
The Fresno Bee
December 31, 2014

The former leader of St. Rita’s Catholic Church in Tulare is being charged with embezzlement, officials from the Roman Catholic Diocese of Fresno announced Wednesday.

The Tulare County District Attorney filed the charges against the the Rev. Ignacio Villafan after being contacted by the diocese, which discovered financial discrepancies under Villafan’s watch, officials from the church say.

Villafan was removed from his position at St. Rita’s in 2012 after the discrepancies were discovered. Teresa Dominguez, chancellor for the diocese, said Father Ivan Hernandez took over for Villafan in late 2013. A resume provided by Dominguez shows Villafan previously worked at St. Anne’s Church in Porterville, St. John the Evangelist Parish in Tipton and St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Cutler.

Dominguez referred all questions about the case to the Tulare District Attorney’s office. Officials did not immediately return phone messages left by The Bee on Wednesday.

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Embezzlement charges filed against Tulare priest

CALIFORNIA
ABC 30

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) —
The Tulare County District Attorney’s Office has filed embezzlement charges against Rev. Ignacio Villafan following an investigation by the Tulare Police Department.

In a statement, Diocesan officials said, “[…] evidence of financial improprieties was brought to their attention and verified by an outside accounting firm dating back to the time that Rev. Villafan was pastor.”

Pending the outcome of the investigation, Rev. Villafan was immediately removed from administrative duties, according to the Roman Catholic Diocese of Fresno.

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Woolf abuse inquiry predecessor defends New Year honour

UNITED KINGDOM
ITV

Criticism of the New Year honour awarded to former Lord Mayor of London Fiona Woolf, a few months after she was forced to resign as chair of the Government’s child sexual abuse inquiry, is “very unfair”, her inquiry predecessor has said.

Baroness Butler-Sloss defended the damehood awarded to Ms Woolf, saying the “very least that the honours system could do would be to honour a woman who has got such a distinguished post”.

Fiona Woolf misled the Home Secretary over her links with Leon Brittan, caused unnecessary distress to victims of child abuse and caused a lengthy and avoidable delay to a very serious inquiry that urgently needs to get started.

– SIMON DANCZUK, MP FOR ROCHDALE

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Row over damehood for ousted abuse inquiry chair

UNITED KINGDOM
The Times

Jenny Booth

Senior figures have sprung to the defence of Fiona Woolf, after she was criticised for accepting a damehood in the new year’s honours list despite her forced exit as the head of the government’s child sex abuse inquiry.

The retired judge Baroness Butler-Sloss said it was “very unfair” of MPs Simon Danczuk and Tom Watson to criticise the honour, and warned that if abuse survivors continued to veto potential leaders of the abuse inquiry then there was a risk the investigation would never get off the ground at all.

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Cardinal George dropped from experimental cancer treatment

CHICAGO (IL)
National Catholic Reporter

Stephanie Yeagle | Dec. 31, 2014

Chicago Cardinal Francis George has been dropped from the experimental cancer treatment program at the University of Chicago, according to a press release from the Chicago archdiocese’s Department of Communications and Public Relations.

“Recent scans showed that this experimental drug has not been effective in his case, but the physicians and others who are overseeing this trial assured him that the information that they had gathered during his course of treatment will be of benefit to others,” the statement said.

The statement added that George will meet with his physicians at Loyola University Hospital in January to discuss next steps. So far, the cancer has not spread to any vital organs, according to the statement.

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2015 — The Beginning of the End of Vatican Scandals?

UNITED KINGDOM
Christian Catholicism

Jerry Slevin

2015 begins with some hopeful developments:

* A prominent UK judge and and former head of a national investigation panel admits that the UK establishment covered up child abuse by members of the establishment’s elite. This adds a powerful impetus to the increasing calls for a thorough and transparent UK investigation, including of the Vatican’s seeming complicity in UK priest child abuse cover-ups.

* The USA’s Minneapolis Archdiocese appears about to explode. It reportedly is seemingly drifting into imminent bankruptcy that will possibly lead to a new bishop being put in charge. This likely could have negative repercussions for a key former official, Fr. Kevin McDonough, brother of President Obama’s Chief of Staff Denis McDonough.

* A Belgian bishop has boldly and squarely called on the Vatican to recognize gay relationships. Will the Vatican respond soon? Will any journalists ask them about this? Are things really about to change for the Vatican and elsewhere? For more information, please see my remarks below and see:

* [Express]

* [Canonical Consultation]

* [Bilgrimage]

* Significantly, on his present path, Pope Francis will in ten months after his October Synod likely be “flushed out” on changing sexual morality teachings. Thereafter, unless he acts decisively, his folksy public relations spin will probably lose much of its appeal and seem even more contrived, as reality raises its truthful head.

* The previous “media star” pope, John Paul II, experienced a similar decline in public image among many, as reality overtook his rhetoric. He benefited during much of his papacy, of course, from the absence of the current Internet and the 24/7 cable news cycle, so it took longer for reality to overtake John Paul II’s well performed rhetoric.

* Interestingly, Pope Francis has had a long ‘honeymoon period” with Catholics. He followed “bad acts” from the era of “popes can do no evil” — two failed popes about whom we are learning much that is disturbing. They evidently presided over an often immoral, if not at times criminal, operation at the Vatican. Francis could only “go up in the polls” initially after them. For almost two years, his folksy rhetoric, winning smile, symbolic gestures and vague promises have offered faint hope for many of the millions of disgusted, even despairing, Catholics whom he inherited upon his election in early 2013.

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The Case of the Drunk-Driving Bishop

MARYLAND
The American Conservative

By ROD DREHER • December 31, 2014

Terrible story from Baltimore. Bishop Heather Elizabeth Cook hit a cyclist with her car, and sped away. He died. Then the story got a lot more complicated:

First Sunday came the news that the driver in the crash was a bishop — the No. 2 Episcopal bishop in the Diocese of Maryland — which initially drew a national audience intrigued by the moral complications of a high-ranking clergy possibly abandoning someone who was hurt. Then Monday and Tuesday came additional detail about an ugly 2010 drunk driving arrest involving Cook, then a priest. Police records show she was so drunk she couldn’t even complete the sobriety tests, had apparently thrown up on her shirt while driving and was driving on only three wheels as one tire had been worn to its rims.

The fact that top church leaders involved in picking Cook as bishop knew of the 2010 incident — though they didn’t share the information with all people voting — intensely divided people who took to the Web to debate whether it should have immediately disqualified her from becoming a bishop.

We don’t yet know if police believe Bishop Cook was drunk when she hit and killed the cyclist, Thomas Palermo, father of two small children. She has not yet been charged. More about the incident:

Many Baltimore-area cyclists have been focused since Saturday on the case, noting that Cook left the scene after the 2:30 p.m. crash, despite having a heavily broken windshield. Sutton’s letter said Cook returned to the scene “after about 20 minutes to take responsibility for her actions.” However, cyclists on several Baltimore news and biking sites said that her car was chased by other cyclists and that she returned only because of that.

In the 2010 drunk driving incident, police records show, Cook confessed to the police that she had been smoking marijuana too. The Washington Post reports that the incident has sparked debate among Episcopalians about whether or not Cook ought to have been ordained a bishop with that severe drunk driving incident in her past, especially in her recent past. How on earth did church leaders involved in tapping her for the episcopate do so in spite of what they knew?

Forgiveness is at the heart of the Christian faith, obviously, but to forgive someone doesn’t require you to be blind to their tendencies toward serious sin. Didn’t the Episcopalians learn a thing from the Catholic scandal? Yes, forgive the repentant, but Cook very clearly had a terrible drinking problem in 2010. Maybe she got treatment for it; we don’t know yet. Still, why wasn’t alcoholism and drug use considered a disqualifying factor for the episcopate, considering the irreproachable character bishops are supposed to have?

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Abusive Coaches: Lawmaker Says Oregon Could Crack Down More

OREGON
Willemette Week

December 19th, 2014 | Beth Slovic

This week’s edition of WW looks at Central Catholic High School’s football team and the hiring practices that allowed the high school to twice hire coaches who faced sexual misconduct allegations at prior schools.

The story noted that Central Catholic is not alone in Oregon in facing challenges when it comes to keeping tabs on coaches. The state doesn’t require teaching licenses to coach school sports, for example. That means that the state regulators who discipline teachers at the Teacher Standards and Practices Commission have no jurisdiction over coaches. Meanwhile, the TSPC can discipline teachers even if they don’t face criminal charges for abuse.

In 2009, the Legislature enacted a number of changes to state law that attempted to end the practice of “passing the trash” among school districts—that is, keeping quiet about an educator’s past when a new school district tries to hire that person.

One component of the 2009 changes affects more than just teachers. It now requires schools to tell a past employee’s new employer about “substantiated” claims of abuse, including sexual abuse, by the employee. That rules covers coaches, too.

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Ex-chairman of VIP paedophile inquiry claims establishment ‘covered up child sex abuse’

UNITED KINGDOM
Express

By OWEN BENNETT

The retired judge was appointed in July by Home Secretary Theresa May to lead the investigation into child abuse claims at institutions across the country, and how allegations were dealt with by authorities.

Elizabeth Butler-Sloss stood down less than a week after her appointment amid claims of a conflict of interest, as her brother, Sir Michael Havers, was Attorney-General during the 1980s when some of the alleged abuse occurred.

This morning, the 81-year-old said she took on the role as she felt it was her ‘duty’.

She said: “I do believe the establishment has in the past looked after itself, partly because people did not really recognise the seriousness of child abuse and they did not think it was so important, and it was important to protect members of the establishment.

“So I would want to go in with a knife and cut the whole thing open and expose it, as to what happened, bearing in mind, of course, that the views of those people are not the views of people today and that is a difficulty.

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Butler-Sloss: victims should not run child abuse inquiry

UNITED KINGDOM
The Guardian

Patrick Wintour, political editor
Wednesday 31 December 2014

Lady Elizabeth Butler-Sloss, the appeal court judge forced to stand down as chair of the government child abuse inquiry, has said she fears the government will never be able to find an experienced figure to run the investigation, but that victims should not think they can do it.

Butler-Sloss was forced to stand down as the chair of the broad inquiry into child abuse in July because her late brother Sir Michael Havers had been attorney general in the 1980s and his actions would have been subject to investigation by the inquiry.

Speaking on BBC Radio 4 on Tuesday she said she was adamant that the establishment had covered up its role in child abuse. “I do believe the establishment has in the past looked after itself, partly because people did not really recognise the seriousness of child abuse and they did not think it was so important, and it was important to protect members of the establishment.

“So I would want to go in with a knife and cut the whole thing open and expose it, bearing in mind of course that the views of those people are different to people today. That is a difficulty, but I don’t believe I was unsuitable to do it because as a judge with 35 years’ experience on the bench I was quite able to be independent and say that people got it wrong and be critical of them.”

She said that would be true even if some of the people she had to criticise were close to her. “That is the way I was trained,” she insisted, but added, “I absolutely understand the public do not believe it.”
buse cases – for them to be deciding who should be the person chairing it creates real problems.”

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Baroness Butler-Sloss on abuse inquiry controversy

UNITED KINGDOM
BBC News

[with video]

31 December 2014

Baroness Butler-Sloss says she agreed to chair an inquiry into historical child abuse because she felt it was her duty and that she was “quite able to be independent and say that people had got it wrong and to be critical of them”.

She later stood down from the role, under pressure to quit from MPs and victims concerned about her family links.

Baroness Butler-Sloss was the guest editor of the Today programme on Wednesday.

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Victims tell Butler-Sloss: don’t blame us for child abuse inquiry mistakes

UNITED KINGDOM
The Guardian

Rowena Mason, political correspondent
Wednesday 31 December 2014

Lady Elizabeth Butler-Sloss, the high court judge forced to stand down as chair of the government child abuse inquiry, has been criticised for suggesting survivors are at risk of causing problems with the investigation.

Peter Saunders, the chief executive of the National Association for People Abused in Childhood (Napac), hit back after Butler-Sloss warned it would be difficult to find a chair for the inquiry who was sufficiently removed from the establishment to satisfy victims groups. Both Butler-Sloss and the City lawyer Dame Fiona Woolf resigned from the role after survivors of abuse objected to their links to senior Westminster politicians.

However, Saunders said Butler-Sloss was wrong to imply survivors were holding the government hostage over the selection of the chair, when it was the Home Office that had made two bad choices.

Survivor groups just wanted to get to the truth and for the process to be overseen by an appropriate candidate with no conflicts of interest, he said.

Butler-Sloss stepped down in July because her late brother Sir Michael Havers had been attorney general in the 1980s and his actions would have been subject to investigation by the inquiry. Her successor, Woolf, was also forced to resign because she was a friend and neighbour of Leon Brittan, who was home secretary at the time of the alleged child abuse.

Speaking on BBC Radio 4 on Tuesday, Butler-Sloss said she worried that “the victims and survivors – for who I have the most enormous sympathy, and as a judge I tried a great many child abuse cases – for them to be deciding who should be the person chairing it creates real problems”.

She suggested that anyone qualified to chair such an inquiry would have experience that would lead him or her to be branded as being part of the establishment.

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There WAS an Establishment cover-up of child abuse …

UNITED KINGDOM
Daily Mail

There WAS an Establishment cover-up of child abuse as the powerful looked after themselves, says former inquiry chief

By MATT CHORLEY, POLITICAL EDITOR FOR MAILONLINE

There was an Establishment cover-up of horrific child abuse because powerful figures looked after themselves, former judge Lady Butler-Sloss warned today.

Senior members of British society in the past did not think child abuse was as serious or important as protecting politicians and other members of the elite, she suggested.

Lady Butler-Sloss was forced to quit as chairman of the wide-ranging inquiry into allegations of a cover-up because her brother was in the Cabinet in the 1980s.

But she insisted if she had stayed in post and been able to run the inquiry she would have ‘cut the whole thing open’.

Lady Butler-Sloss’s resignation in July came less than a week after David Cameron agreed to an inquiry into allegations that politicians, the police, the judiciary, celebrities, the BBC, the NHS and the Church conspired to cover-up abuse over several decades.

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Dame Butler-Sloss abuse inquiry comments spark anger

UNITED KINGDOM
BBC News

31 December 2014

Baroness Butler-Sloss has cautioned against giving victims too much influence over who runs the planned inquiry into historical child abuse.

The retired judge, who stepped down as head of the public inquiry, said there could be “real problems” if they were to decide who is its eventual chair, but her comments have angered some victims’ groups.

Anti-abuse campaigner Phil Frampton said that he was “appalled” at the idea that “victims can’t take a rational view”.

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Butler-Sloss cautions over victims’ role in abuse inquiry

UNITED KINGDOM
BBC News

Baroness Butler-Sloss has cautioned against giving victims too much influence over who runs the planned inquiry into historical child abuse.

The retired judge, who stepped down as head of the public inquiry, said there could be “real problems” if they were to decide who is its eventual chair.

She also told BBC Radio 4 she has “enormous sympathy” for the victims.

The home secretary will decide who heads the inquiry, but the government says she wants to hear victims’ views.

A Home Office spokesman said Home Secretary Theresa May is “absolutely committed” the inquiry has the “confidence of survivors… to ensure the right person is appointed”.

The inquiry, sparked by claims of paedophiles operating in Westminster in the 1980s, is set to investigate whether “public bodies and other non-state institutions have taken seriously their duty of care to protect children from sexual abuse in England and Wales”.

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Catholic Belgian Bishop Calls For ‘Formal Recognition’ Of Gay Couples In The Church

BELGIUM
International Business Times

By Zoe Mintz

A Catholic bishop in Belgium has called for ecclesiastical recognition of same-sex couples within the Roman Catholic Church. Bishop Johan Bonny of Antwerp, Belgium, shared his thoughts in an interview for De Morgen, a Belgian newspaper, on Dec. 27.

“Indeed, we need to seek a formal recognition of the kind of relationship that exists between many gay and lesbian couples,” Bonny said according to the National Catholic Reporter. “Does that recognition have to be a sacramental marriage? Perhaps the church could much better reflect on a diversity of forms of relationships. One has the same kind of discussion about civil marriages. In Belgium the same model (for civil marriages) exists for man-woman relations as well as for same-sex relations.”

He noted, “The intrinsic values are more important to me than the institutional question. The Christian ethic is based on lasting relationships where exclusivity, loyalty and care are central to each other.”

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Bonny wil kerkelijke erkenning holebi’s

BELGIE
De Morgen

REMY AMKREUTZ, KOEN VIDAL
27-12-14

De Antwerpse bisschop Johan Bonny pleit voor een kerkelijke erkenning van holebirelaties. Het dogma dat de katholieke kerk alleen man-vrouwrelaties kan aanvaarden, stelt hij in een interview met deze krant in vraag. “Er moet een diversiteit aan erkenningsvormen komen.”

Met zijn pleidooi is Bonny een van de eerste kerkelijke leiders die het absolute monopolie van het man-vrouwhuwelijk openbreekt. “We moeten binnen de kerk zoeken naar een formele erkenning van de relationaliteit die ook bij veel holebikoppels aanwezig is. Zoals er ook in de samenleving een diversiteit aan legale kaders bestaat voor partners, moet er in de kerk een diversiteit aan erkenningsvormen komen.”

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A Priest’s Dying Declaration In Prison

PENNSYLVANIA
Big Trial

By Ralph Cipriano
for Bigtrial.net

The night before Father Charles Engelhardt died, a fellow inmate claims, the priest gave a dying declaration:

“Paul, I do not feel well. Please understand that I am an innocent man, who was wrongly convicted.”

On Dec. 22, the inmate, Paul H. Eline, a former Temple Law student, filed as an intervenor with the state Superior Court in the case of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania v. Charles Engelhardt, appellant. In his application for third party intervention, Eline wrote that the matters he was bringing to the court’s attention were “critical and constitute ‘extraordinary circumstances’ ” that should be made part of the record.

At the time of his death last month, Engelhardt was an inmate at the State Correctional Institution in Coal Township, Northumberland County. The 67-year-old priest had served nearly two years of a 6-to-12 year-sentence after being convicted on Jan. 30, 2013 of endangering the welfare of a child, corruption of a minor and indecent assault. His accuser, however, a former altar boy dubbed Billy Doe, told an incredible and constantly changing story that was subsequently refuted by evidence gathered by the district attorney’s own detectives. The priest died during an ambulance ride on the way to Geisinger Medical Center in Danville, Pa. while his conviction was under appeal with the state Superior Court.

Under federal rules of evidence, a dying declaration is an exception to the hearsay rule and is admissible as evidence in criminal homicide or civil cases. In his court filing, inmate Eline argues that in his final moments of life the priest had no reason to lie.

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The Curious Case of Carlos Urrutigoity (VIII)

UNITED STATES
Commonweal

Grant Gallicho December 31, 2014

This is the conclusion of a series of posts on the Urrutigoity case. Read the first part here, the second here, the third here, the fourth here, the fifth here, the sixth here, and the seventh here.

“I want to assure everyone,” Bishop Rogelio Ricardo Livieres Plano wrote in 2008, “that I have never hidden or protected anyone convicted of any crime.” The bishop was attempting to quell the outcry of Catholics in Ciudad del Este, Paraguay, over his decision to invite an accused priest and his followers—the Society of St. John—to establish themselves in his diocese. “My track record in these cases is very clear,” Livieres continued. “Just as I have not hesitated to convict the guilty, neither will I punish an innocent victim of slander.” The victim, according to Livieres, was Fr. Carlos Urrutigoity, an Argentine native who has been followed by allegations of sexual misconduct across three countries over three decades.

That troubling history, readily available to anyone with an internet connection, made it difficult for many Ciudad del Este Catholics to take their bishop at his word. So in 2009 they mounted a campaign against him, enlisting the support of other Paraguayan bishops and priests, who took the case to Pope Benedict XVI. But, unbeknownst to them, Livieres claimed to have the support of Benedict—in part because of their shared fondness for the Latin Mass. Livieres’s critics would not receive a satisfying response to their complaints until Benedict retired—and Pope Francis was elected.

Livieres was installed as bishop of Ciudad del Este in 2004. Before he even arrived, Livieres—a member of the conservative Catholic group Opus Dei—caused consternation among the bishops, priests, and laypeople of Paraguay. The bishops were surprised by John Paul II’s decision to appoint Livieres because his name was not on the terna—the list of three names recommended by the local bishops conference. Soon after Livieres took over in Ciudad del Este, more than one hundred fifty clerics wrote to Pope Benedict XVI to protest the bishop’s “renewal of church discipline” and “new pastoral guidelines,” as Livieres would later put it. But Benedict did not respond, according an account Livieres wrote in 2014. Instead, Benedict told him to “form a new clergy,” according to the bishop. He took that advice, and established his own seminary. That failed to go over with other bishops, who wanted to know what was wrong with the main seminary in Asunción.

Livieres also clashed with his fellow bishops over the candidacy of former bishop Fernando Armindo Lugo Méndez, who ran for president of Paraguay in 2008—and won. Lugo had ties to the liberation-theology movement, which Livieres long opposed. But Livieres also criticized Lugo for fathering children before he left the episcopate—and his brother bishops for remaining “silent” about it. During a radio interview, the archbishop of Asunción, Pastor Cuquejo Verga, publicly called for the Vatican to investigate Livieres. In a follow-up interview, Livieres rebuffed Cuquejo’s suggestion, and called him a homosexual.

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Number of Catholics growing throughout the world

VATICAN CITY
Vatican Radio

(Vatican Radio) The number of Catholics in the world has increased with growth registered across all five continents. The figures are taken by the Fides news agency from the latest edition of the Church’s Book of Statistics updated to 31 December 2012. These show that on that date the number of Catholics in the world stood at 1,228,621,000 with an overall increase of more than 15,000,000 compared to the previous year. The Americas and Africa registered the biggest increases followed by Asia, Europe and Oceania. The world percentage of Catholics stood at 17.49 %, a decrease of 0.01% compared to the end of 2011.

The total number of priests in the world increased by 895 to 414,313. Europe once again registered the largest decrease (-1,375) followed by the Americas (-90) and Oceania (-80). In Africa the number of priests grew by 1,076 and in Asia by 1,364.

There was an overall decrease in the number of women religious worldwide, whose numbers dropped by 10,677 to 702,529. Once again Africa and Asia showed increases whilst Europe and the Americas showed the biggest decrease in the number of women religious.

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At Year End: the State of the See of Saint Paul (and Minneapolis)

MINNESOTA
Canonical Consultation

Jennifer Haselberger

12/30/2014

With the new year upon us, I thought I would take a moment to summarize some of the issues that have plagued the Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis over the past year, and to provide some context as to what we can expect moving forward. Minnesota Public Radio did its own assessment, ‘A year in the life of the Twin Cities Archdiocese’, as did the AP. The AP story, which highlighted events of national importance and described how they played out in Minnesota, placed the Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis under the category of ‘Clergy Sex Abuse’.

Yet the sexual abuse scandal is only one part (albeit an incredibly significant one) of the overall shaky state of affairs in the Archdiocese. Lest anyone forget, the Archdiocese’s financial problems began long before the passage of the Minnesota Child Victims Act, and the poor management, lack of effective oversight, and general dysfunction that weakened child protection efforts also fostered an embezzlement scheme that lasted more than a decade and involved many more individuals than the one that was prosecuted (and much higher dollar amounts than the Archdiocese wants to admit and the statute of limitations will allow to be prosecuted). As I see it, the current crisis is only a visible symptom of a much larger, chronic problem that went largely undetected (or at least unreported) until September of 2013.

These are the issues about which I expect we will be hearing in 2015.

1). Bankruptcy

Several people with an interest in this matter have told me that they are anticipating a bankruptcy filing sometime in January. As we have been told repeatedly, if such an event would occur the reorganization would impact only the central archdiocesan corporation and not the daily operations of the parishes and affiliated charities. In truth, however, no one will really know what is impacted until the matter goes before a judge and until it is clear that creditors (possibly plaintiffs) will not seek compensation from or attempt to challenge the organizational structure of parishes and other separate but affiliated organizations.

The Archdiocese is currently suing its insurance carriers and, as most of you are aware, it has been encouraging pastors to enter into an agreement for joint representation with an attorney of its choice in order to pursue payment on similar policies held by parishes and/or in order to try and reach a global settlement with claimants. It is unclear at this time how many parishes intend to join. I say ‘unclear’ not because I don’t know, but because the Archdiocese doesn’t know. Just yesterday an email went out to pastors providing updated information about how to join, and advising them that the ‘steering committee’ for the effort will be chosen from among those who have ‘joined the group’ by December 31, 2014. My general knowledge of priests suggests that the effect of this message will be to ensure that very few join before January 1, as most- in my experience- are unlikely to join any effort that may result in them having to attend more meetings.

2). Investigation into Archbishop Nienstedt

At this time last year, the public was informed that Archbishop John Nienstedt was being investigated by law enforcement for possible inappropriate touching of a minor during a confirmation ceremony. What the public was not told was that he was also being investigated internally for additional allegations involving priests, former priests, and seminarians. That investigation apparently continues, with at least two outside attorneys being hired to, depending on who you ask, either redact the previously sworn statements or ‘tie up loose ends’.

This phase of the investigation is under the direction of Bishop Piche, which has led me to two questions which will hopefully be answered in the coming year. First, when will the report of the Greene and Espel investigation be made public? Second, who is redacting/tying up the loose ends when it comes to questions involving Piche himself, or to others with whom he is so closely associated that it would be impossible to imagine him being objective?

I know that I was not alone in being questioned about Bishop Piche and the current Chancellor for Civil Affairs, Joe Kueppers, during earlier phases of the Nienstedt investigation. Both men have close associations with Father Curtis Wehmeyer that predate their work at the Chancery. Piche was Wehmeyer’s pastor at Saint Joseph and received early reports of his inappropriate conduct with minors at the parish school. The Archbishop should have been informed of this knowledge at the time that I was counseling the Archbishop against appointing Wehmeyer pastor, as he should have been urged to act on the information that Piche received in 2012 and 2013 indicating Wehmeyer had drugs and a gun on parish/school property. Bishop Piche was also on the Board of Trustees at the University of St Thomas- appointed to serve as a conduit between the Board and the Archbishop- during the years in which the University was kept in the dark regarding the nature of the allegations against Father Michael Keating. Joe Kueppers, who knew Bishop Piche and Father Wehmeyer from their time at Saint Joseph, assisted Wehmeyer with his legal difficulties without reporting them to the Chancery. He also was involved in the attempts to negotiate a settlement with the Wehmeyer victims despite his connection to both Wehmeyer and the victims’ mother, who was a classmate of Kueppers’s wife. …

4). More Disclosures

The settlement reached by the Archdiocese in the Doe 1 case did not only end the lawsuit, it established a new procedure for disclosure of information on clergy. That means that in the coming months we will see more disclosures of information that the Archdiocese had previously sued to have sealed. My affidavit is an obvious example, and one that is probably troubling many people right now. For, of the names that remain redacted, many are still in ministry.

This is all the more surprising given that in the past few months several priests have been contacted about ‘red flags’ that were discovered during the so-called file review by Kinsale. Interestingly, none of the priests that I know of having been contacted appear in my affidavit, and at least one situation involved an allegation ‘involving a minor’ that was clearly bogus but was used by the Archdiocese as an act of retaliation towards the ‘accused’ priest.

It would be fair to describe the present state of the Archdiocese as a ‘police state’. Almost all of the Chancery staff tasked with working with clergy are from law enforcement, which is not a healthy or sustainable way for the Church to operate. It is also unnecessary. The disciplinary problems facing the Archdiocese were not hidden or misunderstood. We were very much aware of them. Our ability to act appropriately was not hindered by a lack of knowledge or experience, it was hindered by a reluctance on the part of the leadership to apply the very clear standards that had been set. Appointing law enforcement agents to manage clergy personnel was an attempt by those leaders to retain power by assuring the public that they had effectively surrendered decision-making to others more worthy of trust. The incoming Archbishop, whoever he may be, will likely not be willing to continue with this state of affairs, nor should he. My only question is whether it will fall on him, or a temporary administrator, to roll back many of these policies and appointments.

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.

Bishop accused in bicylist death…

MARYLAND
Washington Post

Bishop accused in bicylist death raises question: Who’s qualified to be clergy?

By Michelle Boorstein December 31

The awful death Saturday in Baltimore of a biker who was hit by an Episcopal bishop has set off questions around the country: How long after she hit the man did she return to the scene? Could dividers bordering the bike lane have helped?

But mostly: How could a member of the clergy do that kind of thing?

Baltimore police have released almost no information about what they believe happened Saturday when Bishop Heather Elizabeth Cook hit the bike of Thomas Palermo before leaving the scene and returning some time later. But that hasn’t stopped the incident from immediately setting off passionate debate about our expectations of religious leaders and exactly what kind of flaws should disqualify someone from the clergy. The case shows that even with Americans’ cynicism about institutional religion, many pine to hold faith leaders to a higher standard.

Well-trafficked public and private listservs and blogs about church life have been filled with people quoting scripture for both the notion that clergy be “above reproach” as well as the need for forgiveness, redemption and grace.

“Clergy are human, and that’s the harsh reality of this moment. Despite our wanting to be whole and healthy and hopeful people, we’re all too human in these moments,” said the Rev. Cameron Trimble, a United Church of Christ pastor who heads a consulting firm to help churches.

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.

Lawyer representing three in abuse claim against John Furlong withdraws from civil cases

CANADA
Vancouver Sun

By Tracy Sherlock, Vancouver Sun December 30, 2014

The lawyer representing three people accusing Vancouver Olympics boss John Furlong of abuse while he was a teacher in the late 1960s has withdrawn from all three B.C. Supreme Court civil cases.

The news comes after one woman withdrew her complaint and court documents show that one of Furlong’s accusers may have been attending a different school during the years he accuses Furlong of abuse.

Three people — Beverly Mary Abraham (who recently withdrew her lawsuit), Grace Jessie West and an unidentified man — initially filed civil lawsuits in B.C. Supreme Court accusing former Vancouver Olympics CEO Furlong of physical and sexual abuse. Vancouver lawyer Jason Gratl was the lawyer for each.

The allegations surfaced after the Georgia Straight published an article written by Laura Robinson suggesting Furlong physically and verbally abused First Nations students while teaching at Immaculata Catholic elementary school in Burns Lake in 1969-1970.

Documents filed in B.C. Supreme Court show the unidentified man claimed he attended a different school, Lejac residential school in Fraser Lake, between “about 1966” and “about 1975,” moving to Metlakatla, or Prince George College, in “about 1978.”

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.

Maryland Episcopal bishop in fatal crash …

MARYLAND
Washington Post

Maryland Episcopal bishop in fatal crash had DUI history, and diocese knew

[police report]

By Michelle Boorstein and T. Rees Shapiro December 30

Leaders in the Episcopal Diocese of Maryland who this spring made Heather Elizabeth Cook a bishop — the diocese’s first female bishop — knew the ugly details of her 2010 drunk-driving arrest but determined “that this one mistake should not bar her for consideration as a leader,” the diocese said in a statement Tuesday.

Now the diocese finds itself under fire after Cook’s acknowledgment that she was involved in a crash on Saturday that killed bicyclist Thomas Palermo, the father of two small children. Cook left the scene but returned later, Bishop Eugene Taylor Sutton said in a statement Monday.

Baltimore police said they have questioned a woman about the crash, but they have not named Cook and no charges have been filed.

Cook’s attorney, David Irwin, declined to comment in detail but has confirmed she was involved in the crash.

Since May, Cook has been the No. 2 bishop in the diocese, which is headquartered in Baltimore and includes 21,500 households in west, central and parts of Southern Maryland. Episcopalians in Washington’s close-in Maryland suburbs are part of the Washington Diocese.

According to records released Tuesday by the Caroline County sheriff’s office, Cook — who was then assigned as a priest on the Eastern Shore of Maryland — was pulled over at 1:15 a.m. in September 2010 and was too intoxicated to complete sobriety tests. She had vomit on her shirt, the report said, and one of her four tires was shredded down to the rims. Cook told the officer she was driving from Canada and had drunk alcohol and smoked marijuana while driving, according to the police report.

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Civil war in the papacy

MALTA
Times of Malta

Wednesday, December 31, 2014 by Martin Scicluna

Pope Francis may well be remembered as one of the most transformative and inspirational pontiffs of the last 200 years – if he is allowed to, that is.

The month of October 2014 will probably go down as the defining moment of his papacy. To view the issues he had to deal with in the course of those four weeks is to see both the magnitude and the range of his task in trying to rescue the Catholic Church from the corruption and short-sightedness that have undermined it.

October found him – among other things – having to send a special administrator to the scandal-plagued diocese of Albenga-Impera on the Italian Riviera, where priests there were accused of offences ranging from theft to sex abuse and links to prostitution.

Meanwhile, at the Vatican, Pope Francis decided to assemble one of the most important consultative synods of bishops to take place since the epoch-making Vatican Council II of 1962-65.

This followed a global survey of millions of laymen and women, which indicated that the gap between Catholic doctrine and practice had grown too wide for comfort. The survey opened a window to give the Vatican a clearer picture of what really went on in the world.

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We’d rather not hear from last year’s bad newsmakers

MISSOURI
Pitch

A new year should be a new beginning. But 2014’s baggage weighs heavy as we try to push into 2015.

So we’ve made a list — a special list, a wish list — of the people and organizations we’d love to leave in the past. It’s not that the inept, the perverse and the just plain mean don’t sometimes amuse us. And we aren’t saying we’ll never forgive certain corrupt or morally suspect people. It’s just that we’d rather they went away and let the healing begin. We know that most of them won’t oblige us, but we’re determined to start 2015 fresh anyway by saying our own goodbyes to these 2014 bums and bummers.

———————————————-

Bishop Robert Finn

If you work for a Catholic institution in northwest Missouri, you report to the highest-ranking U.S. Catholic official to be convicted in a sex-abuse scandal: Bishop Robert Finn. This is a man who, when presented with evidence that a priest in his diocese had a laptop containing hundreds of pornographic images of underage girls, elected to reassign the priest to a convent rather than report his criminal behavior to authorities. When the truth came out, Finn was found guilty of a misdemeanor for failing to report child abuse and was sentenced to two years’ probation.

It’s shocking enough that a man who shielded a pedophile from the law could be in charge of any organization. But for Finn to still be leading the Diocese of Kansas City–St. Joseph — an entity already stained by decades of sexual-abuse allegations, for which it has paid out millions of dollars in settlements to victims — is mind-boggling.

And Finn is still doing terrible things. He fired Colleen Simon, a food-pantry coordinator at St. Francis Xavier Church, after a Kansas City Star story about Troost’s revitalization mentioned in passing that Simon is a lesbian. (Simon has since filed a lawsuit against Finn and the diocese.)

There are indications that Finn may not last much longer at his post. The Vatican is reportedly conducting an internal investigation of Finn. Cardinal Sean O’Malley, a close aide to Pope Francis, appeared on 60 Minutes in November and declared that the Finn situation was something the Pope needed to “address urgently.” Meanwhile, our hands are hovering over our keyboards, waiting to type the word “former” in front of “Bishop Robert Finn” someday.

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.

Swedish youth pastor convicted of raping child

SWEDEN
The Local

A pastor in the Church of Sweden diocese of Uppsala has been jailed after being convicted of raping a teenage member of his confirmation class.

The court sentenced the man, who has been employed as a youth pastor in the diocese, to two and a half years in prison for the rape of a child. According to the court ruling, the pastor had raped the 14-year-old confirmand on several occasions during the spring of 2014 .

The bishop of the diocese of Uppsala, Ragnar Persenius has responded to the verdict by saying that it is a serious matter when a pastor is incapable of setting boundaries and acting professionally.

“Regardless of whether the crime is classed as rape or sexual molestation, it is completely unacceptable for a pastor. We have zero tolerance for sexual abuse,” said Persenius.

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Impact statement from Victim

CANADA
The StarPhoenix

[Sexual assault by priest haunts victim – The StarPhoenix]

From the victim impact statement of a 46-year-old woman who was 10 years old when Omer Desjardins sexually touched her in 1978:

“You sexually assaulted me many years ago, when I was only a child. This betrayal has affected me from that night on to the present day.

I did tell my grandmother the very next morning that you had done this to me, but she did not share this with my mother, her own daughter.

You were a priest, supposedly a man of God. How could you do this to an innocent child?

For many years, I tried not to think of what you had done to me and how it has affected me from that day forward. I became a mother (in 2003) and was blessed with a beautiful daughter. … I once again started to think about the sexual assault after the birth of my daughter. She is my world and I want to protect her from all the evil in this world, especially sexual predators like you.

I finally decided last year that it was time to report this crime to the police. Even though it had been 30-plus years, the world and your family needed to know what you did to me as a child.

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.

Insurer seeks to limit priest abuse liability

MINNESOTA
KARE

ST. PAUL, Minn. – An insurance company has asked a court to limit or eliminate its responsibility to cover some clergy sex abuse claims against the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis.

Last month, the archdiocese sued about 20 insurers in federal court to try to clarify the amount of money the carriers would pay to settle clergy sex abuse claims.

In a court filing, the insurer CNA contends the company and its predecessors have no responsibility to pay claims related to events that were “not unexpected or unforeseen.”

Minnesota Public Radio News reports the insurer said it has no record of some policies that the archdiocese claims exist. The insurer also said some coverage doesn’t include sexual abuse.

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.

Man accusing ex-VANOC CEO of sexual abuse was attending a different residential school at the time: court documents

CANADA
The Province

The Canadian Press

Court documents related to a lawsuit against former Olympic CEO John Furlong suggest one of the plaintiffs attended a school in a different community at the time of alleged sexual abuse.

The plaintiff, a man who has asked that his name not be published, alleged Furlong sexually abused him while he was at Immaculata School in Burns Lake in 1969 and 1970.

But court documents indicate the man filed a claim for compensation under the Indian residential schools settlement that said he attended Lejac Residential School in Fraser Lake from 1966 until 1975.

The case is one of three lawsuits that allege Furlong sexually abused students while teaching in northern B.C. in the late 1960s and early 1970s, though in each case Furlong has denied any wrongdoing.

A lawsuit filed by Beverly Abraham has been dropped, leaving the man’s claim and a lawsuit by a woman named Grace West scheduled for trial in March.

In West’s case, the Catholic diocese that ran Immaculata School in Burns Lake has said in court documents that it has been unable to locate records to indicate she attended the school during Furlong’s tenure there.

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Sexual assault by priest haunts victim

CANADA
StarPhoenix

BY HANNAH SPRAY, THE STARPHOENIX DECEMBER 30, 2014

A sexual assault by a priest on a 10-year-old girl in the middle of the night has caused the victim to lose her faith in God and her trust in people.

“The sight of any Catholic priest disgusts me and when I see one, I think, ‘I bet that priest has sexually assaulted a child,’ just like you did to me,” the 46-year-old woman told Omer Desjardins as she stood across from him in Saskatoon provincial court.

Desjardins, 82, pleaded guilty to one count of indecent assault, stemming from the incident in 1978 in a small community north of Saskatoon, and lawyers made sentencing arguments Tuesday in Saskatoon provincial court.

Desjardins doesn’t remember the specifics of what happened, but accepted the woman’s allegation — that while they were both guests at her grandparents’ house one night, he came into her room and sexually touched her.

He was battling alcoholism then and was drinking that night, his lawyer George Green said in court. It “doesn’t excuse his behaviour,” Green said, but added that Desjardins stopped drinking in 1981 and completed a course in 1984 that allowed him to become an alcohol addiction counsellor.

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NO APPOINTMENT SLOTS AVAILABLE

GUAM
Jungle Watch

Tim Rohr

I received a call this morning at 9:00am from the Chancery advising me that there were no appointment slots available to meet with the Apostolic Visitators. Of course, I was pretty sure I wouldn’t get one anyway. Let me know though if you get one. (P.S. There’s more to this.)

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Investigation Continues Into Fatal Baltimore Bike Accident

MARYLAND
WJZ

Mike Hellgren

BALTIMORE (WJZ) –Timeline of a tragedy. What WJZ is uncovering about the crash that killed a cyclist and father of two. And what the church is saying now about the drunk driving past of a high-ranking bishop at the center of the investigation.

Outrage and sadness, over the death of cyclist, Tom Palermo in North Baltimore. Police at the scene of what they call a hit and run and the Episcopal Church is releasing updated information about the bishop behind the wheel.

Investigator Mike Hellgren has the details on where the investigation stand at this moment.

The pain is intense over the loss of Tom Palermo, the father of two, who was hit and killed on his bike Saturday. The outrage is intense as well after Maryland’s Episcopal Church confirmed its number two in command, Bishop Heather Cook, was behind the wheel and left the scene before returning.

“It makes me sick to think that someone in her position can just ride off,” cyclist and mourner Kimberly Rohloff said. “It makes me very angry and sick inside.”

“I think people have to regard each other and that’s what’s missing her,” a cyclist said.

WJZ has reviewed police dispatch calls that show how they initially referred to the incident.

“On Roland Avenue. It’s a hit and run of a bicyclist who is not doing well.”

“Thomas Patrick Palermo P-A-L-E-R-M-O.”

“There was a green Subaru Forester station wagon, just went down the street with its window busted out. There was a female driver. A citizen saw it coming back up Roland Avenue.”

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Citing “forgiveness,” diocese elected Cook despite 2010 drunk driving infraction

MARYLAND
The Baltimore Brew

[with court record]

Fern Shen and Danielle Sweeney December 30, 2014

Citing the Christian value of “forgiveness,” officials of the Episcopal Diocese of Maryland said today that Bishop Heather Cook disclosed her 2010 drunk driving and marijuana arrest, but that they decided it should not disqualify her from consideration to serve as bishop.

“One of the core values of the Christian faith is forgiveness. We cannot preach forgiveness without practicing forgiveness and offering people opportunity for redemption,” said the statement from the director of communications for the Baltimore-based diocese.

Cook’s arrest on the Eastern Shore has been in the spotlight since the 58-year-old “Bishop Suffragan” was identified as the driver of the car that hit bicyclist Thomas Palermo Saturday. Cook initially left the scene of the crash, returning after being chased to an apartment complex by a bicyclist. Palermo was pronounced dead at Sinai Hospital.

Since the crash, Diocesan officials have been peppered with questions about whether they knew of Cook’s arrest record when she was placed into consideration for, essentially, the #2 spot in the diocese. She was elected to serve as bishop in May.

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Insurer seeks to limit priest abuse liability

MINNESOTA
Minnesota Public Radio

Martin Moylan Dec 30, 2014

A major insurer asked a court Tuesday to limit or eliminate its responsibility to cover some clergy sex abuse claims against the Twin Cities archdiocese.

Last month, the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis sued about 20 insurers in federal court to try to clarify the amount of money the carriers would pay to settle clergy sex abuse claims. In a court filing, the insurer CNA is now contending that the company and its predecessors have no responsibility to pay claims related to events that were “not unexpected or unforeseen,” or claims that otherwise breach contractual obligations.

The insurer said it has no record of some policies that the archdiocese claims exist. The insurer also said some coverage doesn’t include sexual abuse.

CNA is also seeking rulings that would limit its financial responsibility if it is determined that the company is obligated to cover abuse claims.

The archdiocese faces numerous claims from people who say they were abused by priests and says it could file for bankruptcy as a result.

Archdiocese attorney Lauren Lonergan said the insurers’ move was expected.

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The Likely Public Image Decline of Pope Francis in 2015

UNITED STATES
Christian Catholicism

Jerry Slevin

* With some help, it appears, from an ongoing right wing influenced media push, Pope Francis, according to polls, is beginning 2015 with a very positive public image worldwide. Also, he has twice as many Republican fans as Democratic fans in the USA (although many less than likely 2016 US Democratic presidential candidate, Hillary Clinton, with whom the pope will likely clash in 2015).

Please see here:

* [Pew Research]
* [Gallup]

* Meanwhile, the editors at the National Catholic Reporter (NCR) seemingly struggled to name the pope, barely, as Person of the Year after twenty one months. NCR conceded that Francis’ abuse commission has yet to act and that he was tone deaf on women, while NCR also apparently skipped over Francis’ reported failure so far even to appoint independent auditors for the Vatican’s own significant financial operations and assets. Other than on children and women and some financial matters, the pope seems to be doing great for some of NCR’s editors. Hello? Perhaps NCR’s multi-million dollar right wing foundation donor nudged a bit here? Will we ever really know?

* Will Pope Francis’ high positive public polling be maintained in 2015? That is very unlikely, for some of the reasons discussed below. Child abuse scandal investigations, especially in Australia, the UK, the Dominican Republic and the USA (e.g., in Minneapolis) and elsewhere will likely boil over in 2015. The October Final Synod on the Family on its current trajectory will likely leave many women, children, couples, gay folks, divorced Catholics and many others in a “merciless lurch”. Significantly, on his present path, Francis will after his October Synod likely be “flushed out” on changing sexual morality teachings. Thereafter, his folksy public relations spin will probably lose much of its appeal and seem even more contrived, as reality raises its truthful head.

* Pope Francis has had a long ‘honeymoon period” with Catholics. He followed “bad acts” — two failed popes. He could only “go up in the polls”. For almost two years, his folksy rhetoric, winning smile, symbolic gestures and vague promises have offered faint hope for many of the millions of disgusted, even despairing, Catholics whom he inherited upon his election in early 2013.

* Nevertheless, after nearly two years with much spin and sparse results, the “era of good feelings’” and media adulation for this unexpected pope clearly seems to have crested. The widely read and respected Financial Times (FT) recently even labeled the Vatican after almost two years under Francis as “criminally slow” on curtailing child abuse. FT also viewed the initial Synod on the Family as having been a “victory for conservatives” ! The FT then even added, “Yet untold millions of Catholics have drifted away from the Church not just because of that but because its obsession with personal morality is so at variance with the lives they live. {My emphasis}

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Alcohol Influence Report, for Heather Cook, 9/10/10 (Caroline County Sheriff’s Office)

MARYLAND
The Baltimore Brew

Brew Editors December 30, 2014

From the Caroline Co. Sheriff’s office Case Report Summary

Alcohol Influence Report

On 09/10/10 I, Dfc. Reibly, was patrolling East on Preston Rd. in the area of Greenfield Ct., Preston, Caroline County, MD while operating moving radar. I observed a vehicle traveling West on Preston Rd. that appeared to be going significantly slower than the posted 50 mph speed limit. As I got closer to the vehicle I noticed the vehicle was riding on the shoulder of the roadway. I activated my Stalker (#5) radar unit and received a digital readout of 29 mph. I also noticed the vehicle was dragging something under the front passenger side of the car.

I conducted a traffic stop on the vehicle. The vehicle was a 2001 green Subaru wagon with Maryland registration 56837BY. As I approached the vehicle I detected a strong odor of an alcoholic beverage emitting from within and the smell of burned rubber. I noted that the driver, who was alone, had vomit down the front of her shirt. I requested the driver’s license and registration. The driver was identified as Heather Elizabeth Cook. Cook stated that she was traveling from Canada to Hurlock, MD. Cook’s speech was slurred and her responses were slow. I asked her if she had consumed any alcohol prior to driving. Cook stated that she stopped in Pennsylvania and had a few alcoholic drinks.

I investigated the burned rubber smell and found the front passenger side tire to be completely shredded from the rim. (A later search did not find the tire or any parts of it) It appeared that Cook had been riding on the rim for some distance.

I asked Cook to exit her vehicle and perform a series of standardized field sobriety tests. Cook agreed and exited her vehicle. The following tests were explained and demonstrated to Cook, The results of said tests are as indicated:

Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus: Cook had a hard time following the stimulus (my finger). Cook kept moving her head instead of following my finger with her eyes only, as directed. Eventually, I was able to detect all six clues of impairment in both eyes, to include, lack of smooth pursuit, nystagmus present at maximum deviation, and nystagmus present prior to a 45 degree angle. She displayed equal tracking in both eyes.

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Episcopal Diocese of Maryland was aware …

MARYLAND
ABC 2

Episcopal Diocese of Maryland was aware of bishop’s previous DUI prior to fatal hit-and-run

BALTIMORE – The Episcopal Diocese of Maryland said it was fully aware that a bishop involved in a deadly hit-and-run of a bicyclist in Roland Park Saturday afternoon had been previously arrested for driving under the influence.

According to a statement from the Diocese, Heather Elizabeth Cook, Bishop Suffragan of Maryland, fully disclosed the 2010 DUI for which charges were filed resulting in probation before judgment. Following the disclosure, Cook was elected as bishop suffragan on May 2, 2014. She is the first woman bishop in the diocese.

“One of the core values of the Christian faith is forgiveness,” the statement read. “We cannot preach forgiveness without practicing forgiveness and offering people opportunity for redemption…After extensive discussion and discernment about the incident, and after further investigation, including extensive background check and psychological investigation, it was determined that this one mistake should not bar her for consideration as a leader.”

Baltimore police said Cook, 58, was driving a Subaru Saturday that struck and killed the bicyclist, 41-year-old Thomas Palermo.

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Baltimore bishop got evaluations after DUI charge

MARYLAND
The Baltimore Sun

By Mark Puente
The Baltimore Sun

Before being elevated to a position as a high-ranking bishop, Heather Elizabeth Cook was subjected to an extensive background check and psychological investigation regarding a 2010 drunken driving incident, the Episcopal Diocese of Maryland said Tuesday.

“One of the core values of the Christian faith is forgiveness. We cannot preach forgiveness without practicing forgiveness and offering people opportunity for redemption,” the diocese said in a statement about the search process for an elected bishop.

Cook — who in September became Maryland’s bishop suffragan, the No. 2 leader of the diocese — was driving a car involved in Saturday’s fatal crash on Roland Avenue. Bicyclist Thomas Palermo, 41, a married, father of two, died from his injuries.

No charges have been filed in connection with the afternoon crash in North Baltimore, and police said an investigation was in its early stages.

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Former Teacher At Private Girls School Pleads Not Guilty To Molesting Teen

LOS ANGELES (CA)
CBS Los Angeles

December 29, 2014

LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — A former teacher at a private Westside girls school pleaded not guilty Monday to sexually molesting a 16-year-old student.

Elizabeth Ann Brewer, 39, of Culver City, is charged with three counts of sexual penetration by a foreign object, two counts of oral copulation and one count of forcible oral copulation between January 2004 and December 2006.

Brewer was a teacher at Notre Dame Academy, a Catholic college-prep school for girls in West Los Angeles, during the time in question.

Brewer, who faces up to 21 years in prison if convicted, is scheduled to return to court Jan. 20.

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Ex-Teacher at Westside Girls’ School Pleads Not Guilty in Alleged Sexual Relationship With Student

LOS ANGELES (CA)
KTLA

A former teacher at a Catholic girls’ high school pleaded not guilty Monday to multiple criminal charges in connection with an alleged nearly three-year sexual relationship with an underage student.

Elizabeth Ann Brewer, 39, was a teacher at Notre Dame Academy, a Westside all-girls private school, when she had the alleged relationship between January 2004 and December 2006, according to the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office.

Brewer was arrested in October by police in Culver City, where she lives. Police said a “lengthy investigation” led to her arrest after an alleged victim came forward.

She was accused of having a relationship with a 16-year-old student at the Rancho Park school, according to the DA’s office.

Brewer pleaded not guilty to three counts of sexual penetration by foreign object two counts of oral copulation and one count of forcible oral copulation, the DA’s office stated.

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EX-CATHOLIC GIRLS’ HIGH SCHOOL TEACHER CHARGED FOR SEXUAL CONTACT WITH STUDENT

LOS ANGELES (CA)
ABC 7

By ABC7.com staff
Monday, December 29, 2014

LOS ANGELES (KABC) — A former teacher at Notre Dame Academy has been charged with having a sexual relationship with a 16-year-old student. The alleged abuse occurred between January 2004 and December 2006.

Elizabeth Brewer, 39, faces three counts of sexual penetration by a foreign object, two counts of oral copulation and one count of forcible oral copulation.

Brewer pleaded not guilty Monday. She is due back in court on Jan. 20.

Notre Dame Academy is a Catholic college preparatory school for girls in West Los Angeles.

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2014 in review: Top Twin Cities stories

MINNESOTA
Minnesota Public Radio

Laura McCallum December 30, 2014 …

7. After more than a year’s worth of reporting on the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis, MPR News’ special report, Betrayed by Silence, goes inside the cover-up led by three archbishops to see how and why the church protected priests who sexually abused children. Hundreds of hours of interviews and thousands of documents make clear that that church leaders knew they had abusers in the priesthood and they did everything in their power to keep the situation quiet. Meanwhile, they reassured the faithful and the media that clergy sexual abuse was a thing of the past.

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Indiana diocese to appeal $1.9 million verdict in teacher’s firing

INDIANA
Catholic Sentinel

Catholic News Service

WASHINGTON — The Diocese of Fort-Wayne-South Bend, Indiana, plans to appeal a $1.9 million judgment against it in a lawsuit over the firing of an elementary school teacher who it claimed violated the morals clause of her contract.

A U.S. District Court jury determined Dec. 19 that the diocese discriminated against Emily Herx, a former language arts teacher at St. Vincent de Paul School in Fort Wayne, when her contract was not renewed in June 2011 after she informed a school official that she had undergone in vitro fertilization a second time.

Diocesan spokesman Sean McBride told Catholic News Service that work on an appeal was underway and would be filed in the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago.

In a statement, Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades said the jury’s decision was disappointing.

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Former priest admitting to abuse still not charged

WISCONSIN
Sawyer County Record

Posted: Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Frank Zufall, staff reporter

A former Catholic priest alleged to have committed molestation against children in the village of Winter in 1983, and who admits in a Dec. 1 report that he abused, has never been charged even though Wisconsin’s statute of limitations allows for charges to be filed.

Thomas Ericksen, 67, now living in the Twin Cities, served as a Catholic priest in the Diocese of Superior at St. Peter’s Catholic Church in the Village of Winter.

Two alleged victims, Paul Eck and his nephew, James, filed a civil lawsuit against the diocese and Ericksen for alleged assault and settled for $3 million in 1989, the year after Ericksen left the priesthood.

However, criminal charges have never been filed against Ericksen.

In 2010, investigating Ericksen on the Internet, Paul Eck discovered the former priest had been volunteering for three years in Kansas City with Special Olympics. Ericksen was subsequently suspended from Special Olympics.

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Belgian bishop advocates church recognition of gay relationships

BELGIUM
National Catholic Reporter

John A. Dick | Dec. 30, 2014

LEUVEN, BELGIUM — Bishop Johan Bonny of Antwerp, Belgium, has called for ecclesiastical recognition of gay relationships, according to an interview published in De Morgen, a Belgian newspaper, on Dec. 27.

The official teaching that the Catholic church can recognize only male-female committed relationships has to change, Bonny said.

“There should be recognition of a diversity of forms,” he said. “We have to look inside the church for a formal recognition of the kind of interpersonal relationship that is also present in many gay couples. Just as there are a variety of legal frameworks for partners in civil society, one must arrive at a diversity of forms in the church. … The intrinsic values are more important to me than the institutional question. The Christian ethic is based on lasting relationships where exclusivity, loyalty, and care are central to each other.”

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Jongsocialisten dienen klacht in tegen KVHV na uitspraken over Bonny

BELGIE
De Morgen

Het Katholiek Vlaams Hoogstudentenverbond (KVHV) Antwerpen reageert in een persbericht fel op de Antwerpse bisschop Johan Bonny, die de voorbije weken verschillende keren opriep om homoseksuelen met meer respect te behandelen. De Antwerpse Jongsocialisten reageren verontwaardigd en dienen klacht in.

“Monseigneur, wat u voorstelt is niet katholiek”, klinkt het fel in het persbericht van het KVHV. De vereniging verwijst daarmee naar Bonny’s oproep in deze krant, toen de Antwerpse bisschop opriep om “de inhoudelijke kwaliteit van holebikoppels” ook binnen de kerk te erkennen.

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When a Good Bishop Tries to Do the Right Thing

UNITED STATES
Waiting for Godot to Leave

Kevin O’Brieni

This has been a tremendous series of articles, and Commonweal today posts the next-to-last installment.

We pray and pray for bishops who give a damn, who care enough about children to protect them and

who care enough about the Faith to take a stand. But things are so rotten in Denmark that even when a heroic bishop like Martino comes along, Rome, politics, the money trail and other nasty things will keep the Church seriously corrupt and deeply in need of reform. And the Latin Mass is no guarantee of either sanctity or common sense.

Again, that even a good bishop who tried his best to do the right thing was unable to protect either children from sexual assault or adults from financial fraud is tremendously troubling.

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The Curious Case of Carlos Urrutigoity (VII)

UNITED STATES
Commonweal

Grant Gallicho December 30, 2014

This is the seventh in a series of posts on the Urrutigoity case. Read the first part here, the second here, the third here, the fourth here, the fifth here, and the sixth here.

In November 2003, Joseph Martino attended his first meeting of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops after succeeding James Timlin as bishop of Scranton, Pennsylvania. During the weeks following his October 1 installation Mass, Martino had been briefed on the scandal Timlin brought to the diocese in 1997 when he allowed the Society of St. John, a band of traditionalist clerics looking for a home, to set up shop in Scranton. As Martino walked down the aisle of the USCCB convention hall, flanked by nearly all the nation’s bishops, he turned to his auxiliary bishop, John Dougherty, and said, “I think we need to suppress that group.”

But Dougherty wasn’t convinced that was the wisest course of action. Canonically suppressing the Society of St. John, Dougherty worried, might put Martino “in the position of attempting to undo an administrative act of his predecessor,” he wrote to a canon lawyer in early 2003. The “administrative act” Dougherty had in mind was Bishop Timlin’s decision to approve the Society of St. John as a “public association of the faithful,” which afforded the group certain rights under canon law—including the right to appeal to the Vatican.

Timlin’s “Decree of the Erection of the Society of St. John” was issued just a year after he met the group, then led by Fr. Carlos Urrutigoity—a native of Argentina. In the spring of 1997, Urrutigoity and his followers were ousted from the Society of St. Pius X—a schismatic organization that rejects the reforms of Vatican II—after it was discovered that they planned to establish a more spiritually rigorous group within the SSPX. Urrutigoity convinced Bishop Timlin that SSJ priests and deacons wanted to return to the Catholic Church in order to promote the old Latin Mass. Timlin was known as a friend to those who preferred the pre-Vatican II liturgy. Urrutigoity claimed that his fondest hope was to establish a seminary, a liberal-arts college, and a Catholic village. None of that would come to pass, as the Society’s efforts became mired in allegations of financial and sexual misfeasance.

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Diaspora Deutschland

DEUTSCHLAND
Frankfurter Allgemeine

29.12.2014, von MARKUS GÜNTHER

In der Nacht vom 13. auf den 14. Dezember, fast auf den Tag genau vor 50 Jahren, irrte ein Student namens Franz durch die Straßen Münsters. Er konnte nicht schlafen. Zu aufgewühlt war er von der Predigt, die er am frühen Abend im Dom gehört hatte von einem jungen Priester und Professor, nur ein paar Jahre älter als er selbst, der Advent und Weihnachten auf ganz neue, ja revolutionäre Art deutete: Die alte Lehre, nach der die menschliche Geschichte sich in die Zeit des Dunkels und die des Heils teilt, die Zeit vor und nach Christi Geburt nämlich, könne doch heute niemand mehr ernst nehmen, sagte der junge Theologe. Wer wolle nach den Weltkriegen, nach Auschwitz und nach Hiroshima noch von der Zeit des Heils sprechen, die vor 2000 Jahren in Bethlehem begonnen habe? Nein, die Grenze zwischen dem Dunkel und dem Licht, zwischen Gefangenschaft und Erlösung, gehe nicht mitten durch die Geschichte, sondern mitten durch unsere Seele. Der Advent finde nicht im Kalender statt, sondern in unseren Herzen – oder er breche genau dort ergebnislos ab. Das ist starker Tobak, und man kann sich gut vorstellen, dass der Student nach dieser Predigt keinen Schlaf fand, sondern allein sein wollte, um das alles für sich zu durchdenken.

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Länder streiten über Hilfsfonds

DEUTSCHLAND
Die Welt

Von Miriam Hollstein

Es war ein ungewöhnlicher Brief, der Bundesarbeitsministerin Andrea Nahles (SPD) kürzlich erreichte: Unterzeichnet hatten ihn die Behindertenbeauftragten aller vier Fraktionen im Bundestag – ein seltener Akt der Einmütigkeit. “Sehr enttäuscht” habe man zur Kenntnis gekommen, dass die Arbeits- und Sozialminister der Länder auf ihrer Sitzung Ende November sich mehrheitlich gegen eine Beteiligung an einem Hilfsfonds für missbrauchte behinderte Heimkinder ausgesprochen hätten. “Aus unserer Sicht geht es um eine gemeinschaftliche Verantwortung der Länder, des Bundes und der Kirchen”, steht in dem Schreiben. “Eine Verweigerung der Länder ist deshalb aus unserer Sicht nicht akzeptabel.”

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I dubbi sulla svolta di Papa Francesco

ROMA
Corriere della Sera

Bergoglio è imprevedibile per il cattolico medio. Suscita un interesse vasto, ma quanto sincero?

di Vittorio Messori

Credo sia onesto ammetterlo subito: abusando, forse, dello spazio concessomi, ciò che qui propongo, più che un articolo, è una riflessione personale. Anzi, una sorta di confessione che avrei volentieri rimandata, se non mi fosse stata richiesta. Ma sì, rimandata perché la mia (e non solo mia) valutazione di questo papato oscilla di continuo tra adesione e perplessità, è un giudizio mutevole a seconda dei momenti, delle occasioni, dei temi. Un Papa non imprevisto: per quanto vale, ero tra quelli che si attendevano un sudamericano e un uomo di pastorale, di esperienza quotidiana di governo, quasi a bilanciare un ammirevole professore, un teologo sin troppo raffinato per certi palati, quale l’amato Joseph Ratzinger. Un Papa non imprevisto, dunque, ma che subito, sin da quel primissimo «buonasera», si è rivelato imprevedibile, tanto da far ricredere via via anche qualche cardinale che era stato tra i suoi elettori.

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Italian writer stirs a hornet’s nest with doubts about Pope Francis

ROME
Crux

By John L. Allen Jr.
Associate editor December 30, 2014

ROME — For those in and around the Vatican, the most talked-about piece of rhetoric during the holiday season has been Pope Francis’s Dec. 22 blast at the Roman Curia. A close second, however, has been Vittorio Messori’s own Dec. 24 fusillade at the pope, published in the Italian paper of record, Corriere della Sera.

Under the headline, “Doubts about the turning point of Pope Francis,” Messori wrote that “my evaluation of this papacy oscillates continually between adhesion and perplexity,” and also asserted that Francis’ unpredictability has caused even “some of the cardinals who were among his electors to have second thoughts.”

Messori did not name any repentant cardinals, but his claim has been taken seriously because he is Italy’s most famous living Catholic writer, the man whose 1984 interview book with then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, The Ratzinger Report, made the future pope a star.

In other words, he’s the kind of person in a position to know what at least some segment of the College of Cardinals is thinking.

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Maryland’s first female Episcopal bishop allegedly is driver behind fatal hit-and-run

MARYLAND
New York Daily News

BY ALEJANDRO ALBA NEW YORK DAILY NEWS Published: Monday, December 29, 2014

The Episcopal Diocese of Maryland said a newly ordained bishop, Heather Elizabeth Cook, was the driver allegedly responsible for a hit-and-run that killed a bicyclist Sunday afternoon in Baltimore.

The Right Reverend Eugene Taylor Sutton identified Cook, who was ordained in September, in an email, the Baltimore Brew reports.

“I am distressed to announce that Bishop Heather E. Cook was involved in a traffic accident Saturday afternoon that resulted in the death of bicyclist Thomas Palermo, 41,” Sutton wrote.

Palermo was still alive when police arrived at the scene. He was taken to Sinai Hospital where he died of his injuries, according to cops.

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Bishop Suffragan Heather Cook: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know

MARYLAND
Heavy

1. Bishop Cook Initially Left the Scene

In an email to parishioners Sunday, Bishop Eugene Sutton said that Bishop Suffragan Heather Cook left the scene of the crash but returned about 20 minutes later “to take responsibility for her actions.”

Sutton wrote:

“Together with the Diocese of Maryland, I express my deep sorrow over the death of the cyclist and offer my condolences to the victim’s family. Please pray for Mr. Palermo, his family and Bishop Cook during this most difficult time.”

2. The Deceased Was a Well-Known Cyclist

Thomas Palermo, 41, was known for building custom bike frames, and was well acquainted with the area of Baltimore in which he was killed.

Baltimore bicyclist Chris Merriam told the AP:

“He was a craftsman. A lot of people owned frames built by him with loving care. He was a very talented guy, and a lot of people knew him.”

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Maryland Episcopal bishop investigated …

MARYLAND
Washington Post

Maryland Episcopal bishop investigated in car accident that killed cyclist

By Michelle Boorstein December 29

The No. 2 Episcopal bishop in the Diocese of Maryland has been placed on administrative leave after she was involved in a car crash Saturday that killed a bicyclist.

Bishop Heather Elizabeth Cook, who is the bishop suffragan, or second bishop for the diocese of Maryland, which is headquartered in Baltimore, left the scene but returned later “to take responsibility for her actions,” her bishop said in a statement.

Baltimore police said Monday that they are investigating a fatal car crash that killed Thomas Palermo, 41, a father of two and a computer specialist who ran a bike shop out of his garage. Palermo, whose family lives in Baltimore County, was on a recreational ride, said his brother-in-law, Jeff Hulting.

Police did not identify the driver, saying in a statement that they were interviewing a 58-year-old woman who “left the scene but returned back to the scene during the investigation.” No charges have been filed.

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Witness says car left scene of bike crash for 45, not 20, minutes

MARYLAND
Baltimore Brew

Fern Shen and Danielle Sweeney December 29, 2014

The station wagon with the smashed windshield that drove away from Saturday’s fatal Roland Avenue bike crash was gone for close to 45 minutes – not the reported 20 – before returning to the scene, according to a reliable witness interviewed by The Brew.

The woman, a Roland Park resident who was at the crash scene minutes after it happened, said she pulled over – horrified by the sight of the inert bicyclist – and remained there.

“When I arrived, I saw a group of teenage boys and also a Fed-Ex truck. The boys and Fed-Ex truck may have been the first to see the accident. People were already calling the police, when I arrived,” said the woman, who remained in her car watching.

The car that had struck cyclist Thomas Palermo was not there while she watched the first responders work, but after a time – a long time, she said – it pulled up.

As first reported in The Brew, Right Rev. Eugene Taylor Sutton told Episcopal clergy yesterday that the driver of the car was newly ordained Bishop Heather Elizabeth Cook and that she “returned after about 20 minutes to take responsibility for her actions.”

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Child abuse…

NORTHERN IRELAND
Belfast Telegraph

Child abuse: Bathed in disinfectant, whipped with kettle flexes, beaten and forced to eat vomit… victims’ harrowing testimonies

BY ADRIAN RUTHERFORD – 30 DECEMBER 2014

Harrowing accounts of how children were beaten and abused in care homes in Northern Ireland have dominated the news during 2014.

The Historical Institutional Abuse Inquiry is investigating allegations between 1922 and 1995.

It was set up by the Executive to investigate institutions run by the State and churches or owned by the private sector or voluntary bodies. Victims have given a series of powerful testimonies of the abuse they suffered while in care.

The inquiry heard how children at homes run by nuns were made to eat their own vomit.

Some were also forced to bathe in disinfectant and beaten for wetting the bed.

Children at Sisters of Nazareth properties in Derry were known by their numbers rather than their names.

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Child abuse: Media coverage of high-profile cases…

NORTHERN IRELAND
Belfast Telegraph

Child abuse: Media coverage of high-profile cases has given more children courage to seek help

BY NEIL ANDERSON – 30 DECEMBER 2014

Over the last few years the news agenda has been flooded with reports of large-scale sexual abuse including the horrendous actions of Jimmy Savile and accounts from victims giving evidence to the Historical Institutional Abuse Inquiry here.

While the figure of 718 ongoing sex abuse investigations by the PSNI is a stark statistic which highlights, to a degree, the scale of this heinous crime, the figures need to be seen in context.

There is reason to believe that media coverage of high-profile cases may be encouraging victims to come forward in the confidence that they will be believed.

Changes to the child protection reporting systems in Northern Ireland have also made it easier for victims to disclose abuse.

We also know that sexual offences involving children and young people reported to the PSNI over the last decade have shown an increase from 875 in 2002/03 to 1,182 in 2012/13.

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Police investigating 718 cases of child abuse in Northern Ireland

NORTHERN IRELAND
Befast Telegraph

BY ADRIAN RUTHERFORD – 30 DECEMBER 2014

Police are investigating more than 700 claims of child abuse in Northern Ireland, it can be revealed.

Officers are probing 718 “live” cases where the victim was aged under 18.

The figure is thought to include a number of historic allegations relating to children’s care homes.

It comes as a leading charity revealed it has seen the number of calls to a specialist helpline jump by almost a quarter in the last year.

The issue of child abuse has been in the headlines throughout 2014. A State inquiry into historical abuse in Northern Ireland, chaired by retired judge Sir Anthony Hart, opened in January.

The inquiry, which has so far been contacted by 524 individuals, has already heard harrowing testimonies from victims.

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Editorial: Person of the year for 2014

UNITED STATES
Naitonal Catholic Reporter

EDITORIAL

A year ago, Pope Francis’ photo adorned the covers of Rolling Stone, The New Yorker, TIME magazine and The Advocate. The latter two named the pope their person of the year. Francis’ personal humility and simplicity, his common-sense rhetoric seasoned with homespun charm had captured the imagination of Catholics, non-Catholics and even nonbelievers. Acutely aware of the power of simple language and of images, Francis set about molding a pontificate for the age of Facebook and Twitter. Though he has little computer knowledge himself, Francis harnessed these tools for a new kind of evangelization.

Many among our readers, editors, staff and contributors embraced the message he advocated. They heralded not just a change in tone and style, but a change in substance and direction. Just as many among us, however, were not convinced. The refrain was, “Yes, but what has he done? To what real change can we point?” And so NCR resisted naming Francis our person of the year for 2013.

A year later, the resistance is weakening. We can name many points of disagreement with Francis: He is consistently tone-deaf in the way he speaks about women. We do not believe he clearly understands the powerful contribution women are already making to church life, and we believe he is mistaken not to appoint more women to leadership positions in church administration. His remarks to the November symposium at the Vatican, “An International Interreligious Colloquium on the Complementarity of Man and Woman,” suggest he and the church hierarchy need an updated theology and science on human sexuality. Despite these objections, we also find a growing list of accomplishments.

One clear message from the conclave that elected Francis was that the new pope must reform the Roman Curia — not only to bring it up to date, but to restore its mission of service to the church at large. We have said that the reform of that institution needs changes in at least three key areas: a change in culture; personnel to support the reform; and new structures, policies and procedures to make it work. …

We have taken Francis to task for not understanding the seriousness of the sex abuse crisis in the church. In the last year, Francis has made tremendous strides in this area by — most important — meeting with victims of clergy sexual assault and by appointing a high-level commission of professionals, half of whom are lay and women, to advise him directly. The commission has yet to act, but its formation indicates the pope is grappling with the issue.

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Pope Francis’ Image Positive in Much of World

UNITED STATES
Pew Research

Pope Francis, leader of the world’s nearly 1.1 billion Catholics, enjoys broad support across much of the world, according to a new survey report by the Pew Research Center. A median of 60% across 43 nations have a favorable view of the pontiff. Only 11% see the pope unfavorably, and 28% give no rating.

Francis’ strongest support comes from Europe, where a median of 84% offer a favorable rating. Latin America – the pope’s home region – also gives him high marks, with 72% saying they have a positive opinion.1 However, Francis is less well-known in other parts of the world. In Africa, 44% say they like the pope, but 40% offer no rating. Asians are similarly unfamiliar with Francis, with 41% supporting him and 45% expressing no opinion. The Middle East is the most negative toward Francis, with a quarter viewing him unfavorably. However, an equal number (25%) give a positive rating and a plurality (41%) do not rate him.

Americans are particularly fond of Pope Francis, with more than three-quarters (78%) giving him positive marks.

These are among the key findings from two surveys by the Pew Research Center, one conducted from October 30, 2013 to March 4, 2014, among 14,564 respondents in nine Latin American countries, and another from March 17 to June 5, 2014, among 36,430 respondents in 34 countries.

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Pope Francis continues to take ‘the world by storm’

UNITED STATES
Catholic News Service

By Carol Zimmermann
Catholic News Service

WASHINGTON (CNS) — During the second year of his pontificate, Pope Francis was still feeling the love, and not just from Catholics or those from his homeland of Argentina.

A Pew Research Center study released Dec. 11 showed that the pope has broad support across much of the world. Sixty percent of the 43 nations polled had a positive view of the pontiff.

And Americans, in particular, have shown their fondness for Pope Francis, often extolling his simple style. According to the Pew study, 78 percent of Americans view the pope favorably. …

One catch, so far with the pope’s popularity, is that it has not, as of yet in the U.S., drawn more people, or those who have left the church, back to Mass or the sacraments in measurable numbers, according to a Pew Research Center poll earlier this year.

Some observers have said the pope’s impact shouldn’t be measured in returning Catholics, but in the restored image of the Catholic Church and the number of Catholics who feel proud of their faith again thanks to Pope Francis.

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Priest who ‘abused’ boys absconding

INDIA
Kaumudi Online

KOCHI: A church priest who took boys for pleasure trips and dining in high-end hotels, as a means to lure them into sexual acts with him, has been absconding since complaints were raised against him recently.

Since December 22, the main priest of a significant church at Kaloore has not turned up for conducting mass in the church. Currently, the assistant priest is carrying out his duties. “The tainted priest mostly hobnobbed with senior students. He used to conduct trips for them in posh cars. He also took them to have lunch and dinner in big hotels. This was how he attracted the boys towards him,” according to reports.

The boys who went to Saturday’s ‘Thirubalasakhyam’ and Sunday classes often fell prey to the priest’s homosexuality. In the third week of December, a boy disclosed to his parents the priest’s misdemeanour. Following this, three parents and a few party men jointly manhandled the priest.

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Protest gegen Groer-Denkmal: Pfarrer bezieht Stellung

OSTERREICH
Profil

In der oberösterreichischen Gemeinde Hohenzell bei Ried im Innkreis formiert sich Protest gegen ein Denkmal für den verstorbenen ehemaligen Wiener Erzbischof Hans Hermann Groer.

Von Franziska Dzugan

Das Denkmal erinnert seit Jahren daran, dass Hans Hermann Groer in der Hohenzeller Kirche 1989 für ungeborene Kinder gebetet hat. 1995 musste Groer wegen Missbrauchs von Zöglingen zurücktreten. In profil bezieht Pfarrer Josef Bauer erstmals Stellung. Er will die Gedenktafel nicht entfernen lassen: „Es hat keine gerichtliche Verurteilung Groers stattgefunden. Ich kannte ihn persönlich und kann mir nicht vorstellen, dass an den Vorwürfen etwas dran ist.“ Auch die Diözese Linz habe kein Interesse, das Denkmal zu demontieren, sagt Sepp Rothwangl (siehe Bild), Obmann der Plattform “Betroffene kirchlicher Gewalt”. Generalvikar Severin Lederhilger habe einem Missbrauchsopfer, das sich beschwerte, gesagt, er könne in dieser Angelegenheit nichts machen.

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Pope’s 15 Ailments or My Sixth Grade Assembly

UNITED STATES
skipshea

Posted on December 30, 2014 by skipshea

Recently the news has been going crazy with glee over the Pope dressing down the Vatican Curia. At least that’s what the headlines called it. It is actually the Roman Curia which is the governing body of the Holy See, which is the sovereign state in which the Vatican resides. But why let facts get in the way.

So this dressing down has more to do with the business end of the Vatican and not all of that other stuff they do. Which is why Francis was elected in the first place. The Vatican Bank was in scandal and crisis, laundering money for pre-repentant sinners and stuff like that. Monsignor Nunzio Scarano was arrested and Peter Sutherland from Goldman Sachs flew to the Vatican with words of wisdom.

As an aside, no one flew to the Holy See with any kind of warning while they were called in front of two UN Committees to investigate global crimes against humanity or the clergy sexual abuse screwing around with kids scandal. But screw around with the money of the one percent and, Holy See look out!

And man did Pope Francis listen. Not to the UN but to the bankers. After all the bank manages between 7 and 8 billion dollars in assets and investments and that needs protecting. So he took the job seriously.

Pope Francis appointed Jean-Baptiste de Franssu of Invesco Ltd. as bank president. And Cardinal Pell as Secretariat of the Economy. They did such a good job that Pell announced that they found millions tucked away. I can’t even tuck away 20 bucks, how they heck do you tuck away millions?

As an aside on Pell, when he was a Cardinal in Australia he lived with one of the worst pedophiles Gerald Ridsdale for a year and accompanied him to court. He later admitted he was unaware this would be insulting to victims. Let alone discourage more from coming forward because they would see the powerful institution they would be up against. Okay, I made up the last sentence.

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Breaking the habit

UNITED STATES
The Economist

Dec 20th 2014 BY E.W. | WASHINGTON, DC

WOMEN entering religious life in the Catholic church take, among other vows, the vow of obedience. This vow demands deference to both God and church doctrine; in other words, to the men who set and uphold Catholic teaching. But the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR), an organisation representing 80% of American nuns, hasn’t always been so keen on meek deference. Members in the past have publicly dissented with the Vatican on issues including gay rights, abortion and the ordination of women. More recently, the group has been criticised for concentrating too much on social justice, rather than championing the church’s teachings on abortion and sexuality.

In 2008, under Pope Benedict XVI, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith initiated an investigation of American nuns, citing concerns about “a certain feminist spirit.” As Reverend Paul Sullins at the Catholic University of America explained, these women “have suggested that the church’s teachings are wrong or dated or need to be changed, and it wants to enter into some sort of conversation… It’s a huge arrogance.” The investigation continued under Pope Francis and concluded recently, with a report from the Vatican just in time for Christmas.

Though many sisters resented the investigation when it began six years ago, it seems to have ended on a positive note. The report expresses gratitude for the contributions of American nuns, and otherwise falls short of making concrete suggestions or changes. It even cites Pope Francis’s call to create “still broader opportunities for a more incisive female presence in the church.”

The change from Benedict’s castigating tone to Francis’s supportive one seems wise: the Catholic church isn’t in a position to further alienate women religious, whose numbers have been dwindling for years. According to Pew Research, the number of American nuns has dropped 72% since 1965—from 180,000 to 50,000. By contrast, the number of American priests has fallen only 35% over the same period. The number of nuns is also declining much faster in America than elsewhere in the world: in 1970, American nuns represented 16% of the world’s religious sisters; today, they’re only 7%.

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The year of Pope Francis

UNITED STATES
AlJazeera

December 30, 2014

by Elizabeth Stoker Bruenig @ebruenig

In January 2014, Italian sculptor and pop artist Mauro Pallotta explained the inspiration behind a series of paintings depicting Pope Francis as a Marvel-esque superhero, cape and all. “I thought of representing this pope, Francis, as a superhero,” he said, “simply because, according to me, he is one of the few people who, having a real power as a pope, he uses it for the good.”

This year saw further realization of Pallotta’s depiction: Francis established himself as a crusader against economic exclusion, perpetrators of violence and clergy who flaunt wealth and abuse power. Still, Francis’ most impressive gambit is his farthest ranging: a genuine effort to challenge rigidity and cynicism both inside and outside the church. …

September proved a monumental month for progress in accountability for the church’s history of child sex abuse. Francis placed former Archbishop Jozef Wesolowski under house arrest in Vatican City in late September, pending an investigation of Wesolowski’s alleged abuse of children in the Dominican Republic. Shortly thereafter, Francis removed Paraguayan Bishop Rogelio Ricardo Livieres Plano pursuant to accusations that the bishop protected an Argentine priest accused of committing sex crimes in the United States.

Meanwhile, Francis has continued to add victims of church sex abuse to his advisory council on the abuse crisis, indicating an ongoing commitment to rooting out the rot in the church while seeking forgiveness from its victims. External groups, such as the U.N.’s Committee on the Rights of the Child, have nonetheless found fault with the church’s response. An early February report released by the committee criticized the secrecy with which sex abuse cases have been handled so far and called for the Vatican to establish clear, consistent mechanisms to respond to cases of abuse in conjunction with legal authorities.

Some Catholics have expressed displeasure with Francis’ approach. October featured the first half of the Synod on the Family, a meeting of church officials meant to hash out questions of divorce, remarriage, the role of gay and lesbian Catholics in the church and other “pastoral challenges” in the context of the family. Francis’ affinity for flexibility and honest contemplation on matters affecting modern families led to all manner of paroxysms in the church, a tendency augmented by the reassignment of a popular conservative cardinal near the end of synod proceedings. Nonetheless, Francis’ approval ratings remain stellar, with 67 percent of U.S. Catholics rating him favorably and only 13 percent unfavorably. In fact, his popularity among Catholics and non-Catholics alike has continued to grow over preceding quarterly polls.

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Group Says Vatican Visit to Guam is Rare

GUAM
Pacific News Center

[with video]

Written by Janela Carrera

Guam – As the Archdiocese of Agana prepares for an important visit from three Vatican officials next week, a group of concerned Catholics is also planning to meet with the delegation. The group says they will hand over what’s called a white paper.

“This is a very rare occasion that would have this many Vatican officials come here,” says Concerned Catholics of Guam Vice President David Sablan.

It’s been dubbed a pastoral visit by the Archdiocese of Agana, but some believe the visit from three important Vatican officials next week has more to do with the troubles plaguing the Church than a mere trip just to say hello.

“For all the times that I could remember, usually they would come passing through, it’s usually just the papal nuncio … so he is someone we could expect to visit with us at least once a year but he’s been here twice in the past six months so there’s something telling about that,” notes Sablan.

“In addition to it being a rare occasion it’s also interesting to note the duration of the visit. It’s a seven day visit and normally they pretty much come in, spend a day or two, then they move to the next area,” CCOG President Greg Perez points out.

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Former Catholic brother refused bail

AUSTRALIA
7 News

AAP

A former Catholic brother facing hundreds of child sexual abuse charges has been refused bail at a Sydney court.

Bernard McGrath, 66, was extradited from New Zealand to Australia earlier this month.

He did not apply for bail when he appeared at Parramatta Local Court via video link on Monday afternoon, and bail was formally refused.

He is facing a total 252 charges, including 102 counts of indecent assaults on males.

The allegations date back to the 1970s and 1980s.

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Furlong sexual abuse suit questioned as documents reveal conflicting claim

CANADA
The Globe and Mail

MARK HUME

VANCOUVER — The Globe and Mail
Published Tuesday, Dec. 30 2014

Documents filed in the Supreme Court of British Columbia have raised questions about a man’s claim he was sexually abused by former Vancouver Olympics CEO John Furlong.

Last year, Mr. Furlong was accused of abuse by the man, who has asked that his identity be withheld by the media, and by two women, Beverly Abraham and Grace West, who did not seek anonymity.

The three accusers filed suits against Mr. Furlong, the Roman Catholic Episcopal Corp. of Prince Rupert and Catholic Independent Schools Diocese of Prince George, saying they were abused when Mr. Furlong was their teacher at Immaculata Elementary School in Burns Lake in 1969-70.

But in a 2005 document filed with the Indian residential schools dispute resolution process, the man claims he was at a different school in 1969-70, in a different community, where he was sexually abused by a Catholic brother.

“In 1969 when I was nine years old and attending Lejac Residential, there was a brother [who] … would call me to his office,” states the compensation claim, which graphically describes acts of sexual assault. “This abuse happened ten times over three years.”

Lejac, which closed in 1976, was in Fraser Lake, 70 kilometres west of Burns Lake, where Mr. Furlong worked. Mr. Furlong moved from Immaculata to Prince George College, 160 kilometres west of Fraser Lake, in 1971.

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No. 3 Story of the Year: Ex-Shoals youth ministers face child sex abuse charges

ALABAMA
Times Daily

By Tom Smith Senior Staff Writer

Three former Shoals area youth ministers made headlines this year when they were accused of abusing children who were members of their churches.

The combined stories of their arrests was voted the third story of the year in a TimesDaily newsroom poll.

Charles Kyle Adcock, 31, who now lives in Frisco, Texas, and is a former Woodward Avenue Baptist Church youth minister, is charged with 22 counts of second-degree rape and nine counts of second-degree sodomy.

Adcock was a youth minister at Woodward Avenue Baptist Church from 2010-12. Investigators said Adcock faces sexual abuse charges that date back to his days as a youth minister.

Adcock is accused of having an inappropriate sexual relationship with a girl who was 14 at the time. Adcock was the girl’s youth minister.

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Ten Minutes of Real Pope Dope

UNITED STATES
The Costarican Times

Martin LeFevre

“60 Minutes,” one of America’s last remaining bulwarks of the status quo, devoted a full fawning hour to Pope Francis Sunday, between Christmas and New Years. Can this media-canonized pope save the world’s institutions, beginning with the Catholic Church and extending to the American-made international system?

What’s at issue is the whole crumbling world order, and the desperate need by those in positions of wealth and power (and make no mistake about it, the papacy is a position of wealth and power) to shore up the rotten timbers, even as more and more people are giving up on religions and the old order altogether.

When I was young, the news magazine “60 Minutes” challenged the powers that be, but in recent years it has been more concerned with falling ratings and stale rehash. It also has a developed a decidedly reactionary bent that covers the spectrum from nostalgia to ‘ain’t America wonderful’ segments.

But three puff pieces on the pope is too much. Toadying to the pope’s image, the show quotes a cardinal waxing lyrical about Pope Francis: “An evangelizer must never look like someone who is coming back from a funeral.” America’s leading news magazine is now shilling for this pope’s mission of remaking the Roman Catholic Church into a “missionary church.”

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A message from Bishop Sutton regarding the tragic situation involving Bishop Heather Cook

MARYLAND
Episcopal Diocese of Maryland

Posted on December 29, 2014

I am distressed to announce that Bishop Heather E. Cook was involved in a traffic accident Saturday afternoon, Dec 27, that resulted in the death of a bicyclist, Thomas Palermo, 41. Bishop Cook did not sustain any injuries. Together with the Diocese of Maryland, I express my deep sorrow over the death of the cyclist and offer my condolences to the victim’s family. Please pray for Mr. Palermo, his family and Bishop Cook during this most difficult time. Please do not contact Bishop Cook directly, but feel free to send written notes to the Diocesan Center.

There is an ongoing police investigation into the accident. Several news agencies have reported this as a ‘hit and run.’ Bishop Cook did leave the scene initially, but returned after about 20 minutes to take responsibility for her actions.

Because the nature of the accident could result in criminal charges, I have placed Bishop Cook on administrative leave, effective immediately. I will meet shortly with the Standing Committee to discuss ways we can move forward. Also, I have decided to delay my sabbatical to Jan. 24 indefinitely to be pastorally present in this difficult time.

The Right Rev. Eugene Taylor Sutton
Bishop of Maryland

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Female US bishop ‘in bike hit-and-run’

MARYLAND
9 News

The Episcopal diocese of Maryland says the state’s first female bishop has been put on leave after her involvement in a fatal hit-and-run crash that occurred in Baltimore during the weekend.

“I am distressed to announce that Bishop Heather E. Cook was involved in a traffic accident Saturday afternoon … that resulted in the death of a bicyclist,” the Right Reverend Eugene Taylor Sutton said in a statement.

Sutton added that Cook left the scene initially, but returned after about 20 minutes “to take responsibility for her actions”.

Cook, who was ordained as a priest in 1987 and elected bishop in September, was placed on immediate administrative leave while an oversight committee considers the situation.

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2014 in review: An unsettling year, with religion in a starring role

UNITED STATES
National Catholic Reporter

Kevin Eckstrom Religion News Service | Dec. 29, 2014

For most of recorded history, Isis was an Egyptian goddess, a benevolent type who cared for widows and orphans, cured the sick and even brought the dead back to life.
This year, the world met the other ISIS.

The rise of the so-called Islamic State, variously known as ISIS or ISIL, dominated headlines in 2014 as a self-proclaimed caliphate sowed death and destruction across Iraq and Syria. For some, the group confirmed their worst fears about Muslim extremists, bent on killing religious minorities and subjugating women in a quest for domination that included leveling villages and beheading hostages. …

Among the names that captured the public imagination in 2014:

* Seattle megachurch pastor Mark Driscoll resigned after facing a series of allegations involving plagiarism, bullying and an unhealthy ego.
* Conservative activist Bill Gothard, an advocate of home-schooling, modest attire and large families, resigned after a series of abuse allegations.
* German Bishop Franz-Peter Tebartz-van Elst, whose $43 million housing renovation earned him the unwelcome nickname “Bishop Bling,” was fired by Pope Francis.
* Washington, D.C., pastor Amy Butler became the first woman named senior pastor of New York’s storied Riverside Church, and Libby Lane was appointed the first female bishop in the Church of England.
* Retired Episcopal Bishop V. Gene Robinson, whose election as the first openly gay bishop ruptured the Anglican Communion, announced his divorce from his husband, Mark Andrew.
* Popes John Paul II and John XXIII were proclaimed saints by Pope Francis, and Pope Paul VI was beatified.
* Sudanese Christian Meriam Ibrahim was finally freed after nearly being executed for apostasy, becoming an icon for many Christians.
* Mormon feminist Kate Kelly was excommunicated for advocating for women in the priesthood.
* Rabbi David Saperstein was confirmed as the first non-Christian U.S. ambassador-at-large for international religious freedom.
* Blase Cupich was installed as the new archbishop of Chicago, Pope Francis’ first major appointment to the U.S. hierarchy.
* Washington, D.C., Rabbi Barry Freundel was fired after allegedly installing a hidden camera in the mikvah, or ritual bath, used by women at his prominent Georgetown synagogue.

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Voor zenboeddhist Shimano was seksueel misbruik ‘a way of life’

NEW YORK
NRC (Nederland)

[The Zen Predator of the Upper East Side – The Atlantic]

door Anouk Eigenraam

Bij seksueel misbruik binnen religies is de associatie met het misbruik binnen de katholieke kerk snel gemaakt. Je denkt niet zo snel aan het boeddhisme. In een artikel in The Atlantic betoogt Mark Oppenheimer dat het misbruik binnen het zenboeddhisme niet alleen vele malen groter is, maar ook veel banaler.

Komt seksueel misbruik binnen andere religies niet voor of is het gewoon nog een blinde vlek? Tot nu toe horen we nog weinig over misbruik onder leiders van andere geloven. Maar de vraag is of het misschien niet wat onwaarschijnlijk is om te denken dat seksueel misbruik alleen maar voorbehouden is aan de katholieke kerk.

Het artikel van Oppenheimer, dat onderdeel is van een e-book, spreekt wat dat betreft boekdelen. Bij boeddhisten denk je eerder aan vriendelijk uitziende, vredelievende, kale monniken in een seksloze jurk dan aan achterkamertjes waar de geestelijken hun fysieke lusten botvieren. Maar dat is kennelijk het plaatje aan de buitenkant. Veel zenleiders zijn de afgelopen jaren beschuldigd van seksueel misbruik, intimidatie of het verleiden van hun volgelingen meldt de auteur.

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Video: The ‘tender’ revolution of Pope Francis

FRANCE
France 24

Pope Francis began the year with an overhaul of the Vatican’s scandal-ridden bank and ended it with a scathing critique of the Vatican’s power-hungry bureaucracy.

Since his election as the church’s first Jesuit head, the Argentinian pope has proved to be a popular force in the Catholic world and beyond.

He is the first pontiff to have received victims of sexual abuse by clergymen at the Vatican and has set up a commission to root out the “plague” of paedophilia inside the church.

The 78-year-old pope has also launched a number of sweeping financial and administrative reforms, and drawn up a list of the “15 ailments” he says are afflicting Catholicism’s highest-ranking officials.

His calls for “tenderness” and “love”, and salvos against the church bureaucracy’s “spiritual Alzheimer’s”, have sanctioned his reputation as the people’s pope. But his soaring popularity and reformist zeal have unsettled some.

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Some names not included on diocese abuser list

NEW MEXICO
Gallup Independent

Published in the Gallup Independent, Gallup, N.M., Dec. 23, 2014

By Elizabeth Hardin-Burrola
Independent correspondent
religion@gallupindependent.com

GALLUP — When the Diocese of Gallup publicly released its list of credibly accused sex abusers last week, it failed to include the names of four former Gallup priests who had previously been identified as abusers by other Catholic dioceses or religious orders.

Diego Mazon had been publicly confirmed by an official with the Archdiocese of Santa Fe, Harry R. Morgan and Laurence A. Florez had been identified by the Diocese of Phoenix, and Justin Weger had been identified by his religious order, the Crosier Fathers and Brothers.

“The investigation into names and the process of adding to the list has not ended,” diocesan spokeswoman Suzanne Hammons said in an emailed response to a question about the discrepancy. “Bishop Wall mentioned in his letter that ‘The publication of these additional names does not mean that our vigilance and continued investigation ends here. The investigations remain ongoing.’”

Hammons did not explain what further investigation could reveal about four men who have already been identified as credibly accused sexual abusers by other Catholic officials.

Diego Mazon

Diego Mazon is a Franciscan friar living at a retirement facility run by Albuquerque’s Franciscan Province of Our Lady of Guadalupe. In 2005, Mazon was named as a defendant, along with the Archdiocese of Santa Fe and Cincinnati’s Franciscan Province of St. John the Baptist, in a clergy sex abuse lawsuit (D-202CV-200503804) filed in Albuquerque’s district court. The lawsuit claimed that Mazon had sexually molested a young Hispanic girl in St. John’s Parish in Roswell in the 1970s.

Mazon was working in the Diocese of Gallup when the abuse survivor came forward, and diocesan officials removed him from ministry at Gallup’s St. Francis Church. Parishioners were not informed of either the allegation or the lawsuit; instead they were told Mazon was stepping down because of ill health. In 2009, Annette M. Klimka, the victim assistance coordinator for the Archdiocese of Santa Fe, confirmed that church officials had reached a settlement with the female abuse survivor in 2006.

Mazon was also recently listed as being credibly accused in U.S. Bankruptcy Court documents. James Stang, the legal counsel for the Official Committee of Unsecured Creditors, stated the Diocese of Gallup “has admitted there are credible allegations of sexual abuse against members of the Franciscan Friars, (i.e. Fathers Charles Cichanowicz, Julian Hartig, Diego Mazon) …” in a motion filed Oct. 30.

In addition to working at St. Francis in Gallup a decade ago, Mazon worked at Our Lady of Blessed Sacrament in Fort Defiance, Ariz. from 1991-94, and at St. Joseph’s in San Fidel, N.M. in 1978, according to the Official Catholic Directory.

Morgan and Florez

Harry R. Morgan and Laurence A. Florez were two longtime Gallup priests who transferred to the Diocese of Phoenix when that diocese was created in December 1969. In 2012, the Phoenix Diocese publicly released its own list of credibly accused sex abusers, and both Morgan and Florez were — and still are — on that list.

Gallup Bishop James Wall, a former Phoenix priest, served as vicar for priests in the Phoenix Diocese under Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted. It is not known why Wall hasn’t relied on information about Morgan and Florez that Olmsted released two years ago.

According to the Official Catholic Directory, the Gallup chancery always assigned Morgan to its parishes in Arizona. Morgan worked at St. Joseph’s Church in Winslow, Ariz., in 1954, St. John the Baptist in St. Johns, Ariz., from 1955-58, St. Pius X in East Flagstaff, Ariz., from 1959-63, and St. Joseph’s in Williams, Ariz., from 1964-69. Morgan also served as the Diocese of Gallup’s Family Life Director from 1961 to 1966.

Later, while Morgan was working for the Diocese of Phoenix in Fountain Hills, Ariz., he was arrested Feb. 17, 1975, and charged with molesting a 9-year-old boy. In August 1975, Morgan pleaded no contest in Maricopa County Superior Court, and two months later, Judge C. Kimball Rose sentenced him to 10 years probation.

During Florez’s years in the Diocese of Gallup, he worked at the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Flagstaff, Ariz. in 1960, the Santo Nino Parish in Aragon, N.M., in 1961-62, Our Lady of Guadalupe in Holbrook, Ariz., from 1963-64, St. Mary’s in Kingman, Ariz., in 1965, and St. John Vianney in Sedona from 1966-69. Florez and the Diocese of Phoenix were later named in a clergy abuse lawsuit in Arizona in 1993.

Weger and more

Earlier this year, the Crosier Fathers and Brothers released a comprehensive list of 19 current, former and deceased members of their religious order who have credible allegations against them. Two Crosier priests who worked in the Gallup Diocese, Timothy Conlon, O.S.C. and Justin Weger, O.S.C., were included.

Although the Diocese of Gallup’s recently released list included Conlon, it did not include Weger.

According to the Crosiers, Weger worked part-time for the Gallup Diocese in 1974-75, providing weekend assistance in the diocese’s Arizona and New Mexico parishes. He was removed from ministry in 1976.

The addition of Mazon, Morgan, Florez and Weger would push the Diocese of Gallup’s list of credibly accused abusers to 34 priests and one lay volunteer. That number, however, still does not include Brother Mark Schornack, O.F.M. and the Rev. James Lindenmeyer, who were both named as alleged abusers in clergy abuse lawsuits filed in Arizona before the Diocese of Gallup filed its Chapter 11 petition in U.S. Bankruptcy Court.

It also does not include five reported Franciscan friars — Ephrem Beltramea (listed as Ephraim Beltremea), Eugene Botello, Crispin Butz, Finnian Connolly and Clementin (listed as Clemetine) Wottle — who were named as alleged perpetrators by confidential claimants in the bankruptcy case.
If all those alleged abusers are eventually determined to be credibly accused, that will drive the Diocese of Gallup’s list up to more than 40 men.

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Concerned Catholics start petition

GUAM
Pacific Daily News

Written by
Malorie Paine
Pacific Daily News

The Concerned Catholics of Guam, a nonprofit organization formed to bring attention to what it believes are financial and leadership problems within the local Catholic Church, is circulating a petition to gather support in “resolving the divisive misunderstandings that currently plague our Catholic parish communities.”

The petition is not against the archdiocese, but is intended to show support for the Concerned Catholics, Vangie Lujan, secretary of the nonprofit group, said during a press conference yesterday morning.

The petition will be presented to three Vatican officials, who will be visiting Guam from Jan. 3 to 10, 2015, and to the archdiocese.

The petition addresses three objectives of the Concerned Catholics, including the clergy and laity, parish affairs, and archdiocesan affairs, according to organization’s website.

Under the clergy and laity objectives, one of the main areas of focus is to provide grants and scholarships to aspiring local seminarians to attend an established and an accredited Diocesan seminary.

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My interview on Lawpreneur Radio: Civil rights for crime victims

UNITED STATES
The Worthy Adversary

Posted by Joelle Casteix on December 29, 2014

Last, week, I spoke with Miranda Dempsey McCroskey of Lawpreneur Radio about the importance of civil rights for crime victims, how plaintiffs’ attorneys have been instrumental in exposing abuse … and, of course, THE WELL-ARMORED CHILD. The podcast is up and you can listen here.

Or, you can check out the interview on iTunes.

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“Die klerikale Struktur ist zäh”

DEUTSCHLAND
Domradio

[After becoming aware of the abuse scandal five years ago, the psychotherapist and theologian Wunibald Müller has called for structural changes in the Catholic Church. An initial assessment.]

Nach dem Bekanntwerden des Missbrauchsskandals vor fünf Jahren hat der Psychotherapeut und Theologe Wunibald Müller strukturelle Veränderungen in der katholischen Kirche gefordert. Eine erste Bilanz.

Im Interview mit der Katholischen Nachrichten-Agentur (KNA) zieht der Leiter des Münsterschwarzacher Recollectio-Hauses für kirchliche Mitarbeiter in Lebenskrisen Bilanz.

KNA: Herr Müller, fünf Jahre sind seit dem Bekanntwerden des Missbrauchsskandals vergangen. Was hat sich getan?

Müller: Die Bischöfe sind wachsamer geworden. Die Überarbeitung der Leitlinien hat viel gebracht. Mittlerweile werden auch alle kirchlichen Mitarbeiter in Prävention geschult und sensibilisiert.

Externe sind oft die Ansprechpartner für Opfer. Und es ist jetzt klar, dass Jugendliche nicht mehr im Pfarrhaus schlafen oder der Pfarrer mit ihnen duscht. Verglichen mit dem, was vor 15 Jahren war, ist das sehr viel. Da konnte noch jede einzelne Diözese entscheiden, wie sie im Falle von sexuellem Missbrauch vorgeht.

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“Schule ist sehr viel sicherer geworden”

DEUTSCHLAND
Domradio

[Jesuit priest Klaus Mertes talks about the five years since he opened up the major sexual abuse scandal at Canisius College in Berlin.]

Bilanz, nicht Schlussstrich: Der Jesuit Klaus Mertes spricht im Interview über fünf Jahre Aufarbeitung von Missbrauchsfällen in der katholischen Kirche. Und er hofft auf weitere Reformen der Kirche, um Machtmissbrauch wirksam zu bekämpfen.

KNA: Pater Mertes, hätten Sie sich jemals vorstellen können, mit Ihrem Brief vor fünf Jahren eine solche Lawine auszulösen?

Mertes: Nein, aber das heißt nicht, dass ich den Schritt bereue. Im Gegenteil. Mir war von Anfang an klar, dass es allein bei dem einen Pater in Berlin mindestens 100 Opfer geben muss. Ich musste mich daher an die potenziell betroffenen Jahrgänge richten, um klar zu machen: Damals ist Euch nicht zugehört worden, heute aber bin ich dazu bereit.

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Mahnmal gegen Groer vor Stephansdom

OSTERREICH
HPD

[A millstone monument has been erected in fron of Vienna’s St. Stephen’s Cathedral to draw attention to the church abuse scandal and as a protest against the lasting admiration for the late Cardinal Hans Hermann Groer. It has been alleged that Groer abused minors and covered-up sexual abuse.]

Von Christoph Baumgarten

WIEN. (hpd) Die Plattform Betroffener kirchlicher Gewalt hat vor dem Wiener Stephansdom ein Mahnmal in Form eines Mühlsteins aufgestellt. Es soll auf den Missbrauchsskandal in der Kirche aufmerksam machen – und Protest gegen die nach wie vor anhaltende Verehrung für den verstorbenen Kardinal Hans Hermann Groer sein.

Es war ein symbolträchtiger Tag, den sich die Plattform Betroffener kirchlicher Gewalt für ihre Protestaktion ausgesucht hat. Und es war eine symbolträchtige Geste. Am katholischen “Tag der unschuldigen Kinder” deponierte Obmann Sepp Rothwangl einen 300 Kilogramm schweren Mühlstein vor dem Wiener Stephansdom.

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Tag der unschuldigen Kinder: Heute wird Mega-Mühlstein am Wiener Stephansplatz aus Protest gegen kirchliche Missbrauchsverbrechen enthüllt

OSTERREICH
Betroffen

[A 300-kg millstone was deposited at Stephansplatz in Vienna to remember cover-up and dneial of sexual, physical and psychological violence against innocent children by church representatives.]

(Wien, 28.12.14, PUR) Einen 300 kg schweren Mühlstein deponiert die Plattform Betroffener kirchlicher Gewalt am 28. Dezember am Stephansplatz. Der 28.12 ist der “Tag der unschuldigen Kinder“ – Gedenktag der ermordeten Kinder von Bethlehem nach Herodes´ Geheiß. Mit der Hinterlegung des Mühlsteins vor dem Stephansdom erinnert die Plattform an die Vertuschung und Verleugnung sexueller, körperlicher und seelischer Gewalt an unschuldigen Kindern durch Kirchenrepräsentanten. Der nunmehr vor dem Stephansplatz angekommene Mühlstein ist bereits weitgereist: Zuerst war er – im kleineren Format – im oberösterreichischen Hohenzell. Dort wurde er von Aktivisten als Gegengewicht neben einer Ehrentafel für den verstorbenen Kardinal Hans Hermann Groer angebracht.

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ON THE MATTER OF THE REMOVAL OF FR. PAUL GOFIGAN AS PASTOR OF SANTA BARBARA CHURCH AND THE SLANDER AGAINST MR. JOSEPH LASTIMOZA

GUAM
Jungle Watch

[with documents]

Submitted by Tim Rohr
timrohr.guam@gmail.com
December 28, 2014, Hagatna, Guam

A PDF copy is available here.

July 16, 2013. Fr. Paul Gofigan is called to a meeting with Archbishop Anthony Apuron and Msgr. David C. Quitugua, the Vicar General. At the meeting he is read a letter 1 :

* accusing him of disobeying an order from the Vicar General to terminate an employee two years previously
* accusing him of causing “grave harm to the parish…especially the youth” and creating “a lasting and potential threat to the safety and well-being” of his parishioners and staff
* demanding his immediate resignation as pastor of Santa Barbara parish or face a more “arduous and painful closure to your assignment”
* telling him to go “look for a benevolent bishop willing to accept you.”
According to Fr. Gofigan, upon returning to his office, Fr. Gofigan finds himself locked out of his office – the archbishop having ordered the locks changed while he was at the meeting with the archbishop.

July 17, 2013. The very next day Fr. Paul Gofigan is officially removed as pastor of his parish by an Aviso 2 appointing Rev. Father Dan Bien as the Parochial Administrator of Santa Barbara Church, upon which Fr. Gofigan is then:
* removed from the schedule of presiders, effectively censuring him without due process
* told to vacate the rectory with no alternative residence provided

July 22, 2013. Fr. Gofigan writes to Archbishop Apuron stating his rejection of the archbishop’s demand that he resign and asserts his canonical rights for “basic due process”, all of which had been heretofore violated by the archbishop. 3

July 22, 2013. The chancery releases a public statement to the media 4 :
accusing Fr. Gofigan of disobeying “ a directive from the Archbishop”
implying that the subject employee was and is a danger to children: “A school full of children is in very close proximity to the parish.”

July 28, 2013. Fr. Gofigan writes Archbishop Apuron and requests a copy of his decree of removal and states his intention to seek “recourse to the author of the decree in accordance with C. 1734.1 and names his advocate: Father Adolfo N. Dacanay, S.J. 5

August 2, 2013. The Vicar General writes Father Gofigan saying that there is no decree of removal because he was never removed and that the letter of July 16, 2013 demanding his resignation was only an attempt to “persuade the pastor to resign.” 6

August 20, 2014. Archbishop Apuron writes Father Gofigan:
* again accusing him of disobeying his 2011 instruction to terminate the employee
* again accusing the employee of being a danger to parishioners
* again accusing the employee of specifically being a danger to children
* claiming that there is no guarantee that the employee, who went to prison in 1981 for sexual assault, * will never commit sexual assault again, thus justifying his accusation that the man is still a danger.
* again demands Fr. Gofigan’s resignation as pastor (even though he was already officially replaced with an administrator, effectively removing Fr. Gofigan as pastor and making a letter of resignation unnecessary.) 7

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Concerned Catholics Group Demands Apology from Archbishop

GUAM
Pacific News Center

Written by Janela Carrera

Guam – The Concerned Catholics of guam is demanding an apology from Archbishop Anthony Apuron for referring to them as a group that’s plotting against the Church.

The group held a press conference today saying they are appalled that the archbishop would refer to them that way as their objective is to assist the church in healing the division within the catholic community. The reference was allegedly made in a letter Archbishop Apuron wrote to Deacon Steve Martinez last week, demanding that Deacon Martinez cut ties with CCOG or face censureship.

“We wanted to bring this to the attention of the media of the public that this is wrong. We are not plotting against the church. We love our church, we wanna help her,” said Vice President Dave Sablan. “Is this group really plotting against the church and that is why Deacon Steve is being asked to step down or face censurehsip? That is not true. So if he is censured he’s being censured on false claims because we have been very transparent about our organization. We have requested to meet with the archbishop.”

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Catholics group demands apology from archbishop

GUAM
KUAM

by Jolene Toves

Guam – The Concerned Catholics of Guam organization is demanding an apology from Archbishop Anthony Apuron as the pastoral visit nears for implying that the organization is plotting against the church.

As you may recall the latest rift stems from Deacon Steve Martinez’s involvement in the organization where he serves as the treasurer, and although Martinez was absent from today’s meeting he has pledged his support. Martinez was given an ultimatum by the archbishop to discontinue his involvement with the CCOG or face censure, in which all his faculties would be removed.

“But the deacon has basically said what we are doing is right and good therefore there is nothing wrong with his membership here and he is willing an prepared to continue his work with us even under threat of censureship so he is not really concerned with the deadline he hopes that things will get resolved before the deadline of the 19th of January I believe,” said CCOG vice president Dave Sablan.

Archbishop Apuron in a letter dated December 17th accuses Martinez of being in violation of Canon Law 1374. Sablan said, “It says that if an individual is a member of an association that is plotting against the church then they would be receiving a just punishment and interdiction.”

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Spirituele Alzheimer

NEDERLAND
NRC

Verzoening, tederheid, vrijheid, verantwoordelijkheid, gemeenschapszin, begrip voor de ander – ik zeg ja! Mooie woorden horen bij de Kerst, net als het fossiele Home Alone, de sleetse André Rieu en de overdaad aan interviews waarin wordt teruggekeken op groot verdriet („Ik liep de helft van de week te janken”). Gerieflijk omdat het zo voorspelbaar is, een koesterende oproep aan je betere ik, dat diep in jezelf begraven ligt, maar in de laatste dagen van het jaar plotseling ruim baan krijgt. Driehonderd dagen per jaar gaat het over jezelf, de laatste dagen van het jaar zijn voor de Ander.

Juist daarom was de jaarlijkse „kerstgroet” van de paus aan de Romeinse curie een vlammende verrassing: een verzengende aanklacht tegen de al te wereldse, al te menselijke aanvechtingen van de kardinalen die in het Vaticaan de dienst uitmaken. Zonder pardon somde Franciscus de zonden van zijn gehoor op, in vijftien schrijnende punten – men voelde zich onsterfelijk, immuun of onvervangbaar, men werkte excessief hard, raakte geestelijk „versteend”, plande te veel, werkte slecht samen, zag de ander vooral als rivaal, er werd teveel gekletst en geroddeld, men keek te slaafs op naar meerderen, te weinig om naar anderen, men liep rond met een begrafenisgezicht, bewoog zich het liefst in een klein, besloten kringetje, wilde van alles steeds maar meer, en er heerste een grote hang naar winst en exhibitionisme.

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Forum editorial: Pope puts his words into action

UNITED STATES
InForum

Editorial

What are Catholics, and the world for that matter, to make of the stern words of Pope Francis in his Christmas lecture to senior Vatican staff? The pope minced no words in an unexpectedly harsh critique of the conduct and lifestyles of cardinals and church high officials. His extraordinary rebuke of Vatican hierarchy and bureaucracy signaled that the reforms he said he would institute will happen.

The pontiff’s denunciation of the scandal-ridden Curia, the Vatican’s administrative apparatus, was in keeping with criticism he has leveled since he was elected in March 2013. But the intensity and strong language of the Dec. 22 address to the assembled Curia were an unexpected ramping up of his campaign. And that he chose the annual address in the Apostolic Palace to denounce the Curia added more weight to his pledge to reform the Vatican’s bureaucracy.

He’s already started the housecleaning. Several senior cardinals have been replaced and/or demoted, including a few who have openly resisted the pope’s initiative. Francis shined his rhetorical klieg lights on cardinals and other church leaders who, by his definition, have adopted patrician lifestyles that are not in keeping with the doctrines of the Catholic Church.

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Vatican Bank Joins 100 Nations In FATCA Offshore Account Hunt

VATICAN CITY/UNITED STATES
Forbes

Robert W. Wood

In his annual Christmas messages to more than one billion Catholics, the Pope may have left out something: offshore account compliance. Maybe, but the U.S. Treasury is more than happy to fill in the blanks. Just before Christmas, the Holy See reached the substance of an Intergovernmental Agreement (IGA) to hand over American account details. FATCA is everywhere, and the fact that the Treasury Department now trumpets the Vatican deal should come as no surprise.

The Holy See is not part of the European Union and should not be confused with Vatican City. The Holy See is the ecclesiastical jurisdiction of the Catholic church. The Vatican Bank has had its share of corruption kerfuffles in the past. Indeed, the Vatican Bank isn’t exactly transparent, and released its first annual report in 2013.

With transparency comes compliance, and there may well be some accounts held for American clergy that will need to be cleaned up. If accounts are held through entities or via proxies, they still could require disclosure. Presumably the ultimate beneficiaries of the accounts will be known to someone, and that means reporting.

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A man of healing, a saga of suffering

SOUTH DAKOTA
Washington Post

Written by Sari Horwitz

In WANBLEE, S.D.

He was a world-famous medicine man, a traditional healer and spiritual leader. Followers would travel long distances to this tiny hamlet on the Great Plains to be in his presence and pray in the darkness with him in a sacred sweat lodge.

But Charles Chipps Sr., a medicine man on the Pine Ridge Indian reservation, had a dark secret, federal prosecutors say.

For years, they allege, Chipps sexually abused and raped girls, including some of his own daughters and granddaughters; many of the alleged victims were younger than 12 and several were as young as 5. A girl from Colorado whose aunt brought her to meet Chipps for spiritual guidance committed suicide after revealing the abuse she allegedly suffered.

TOP: Lena Chipps, shown near the skeleton of a sweat lodge, is the sister-in-law of Charles Chipps Sr., above, who is accused of sexually abusing girls for years on an Indian reservation. The allegations against Chipps have torn his family apart, with some relatives and friends supporting him and others shunning him. Now 67, the medicine man has pleaded not guilty. (Obtained by The Post)
The sexual abuse of children has long been regarded as a rampant if largely unspoken problem on Native American reservations, in part a legacy of a boarding school system that was designed to assimilate students and subjected them to widespread sexual, emotional and physical abuse, according to Native leaders and prosecutors. But Chipps’s case, as described in court testimony, is among the most shocking — entailing allegations that a respected elder sexually abused at least six girls.

It is also an illustration of the ways in which the federal, state and tribal legal maze that governs Indian country can complicate the pursuit of justice and, in Chipps’s case, allowed him to go free for three years after he was first jailed.

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Rev. Thomas R. HOPP (1940 – 2014)

OHIO
Cincinnati Enquirer

[BishopAccountability.org database – Cincinnati archdiocese]

Reverend Thomas R., died December 21, 2014, Fr. Hopp was born October 8, 1940 and was Ordained May 28, 1966. He served in various parishes in the Archdiocese of Cincinnati. The Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated Monday, December 29, 2014 at 10 AM at All Saints Church in Kenwood. Burial will immediately follow at Gate of Heaven Cemetery.

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Pope Francis: Children Are Good & More Children Are Better ???

UNITED STATES
Christian Catholicism

Jerry Slevin

* It is astonishing to me as the youngest of ten children and father of four children to read that Pope Francis, a celibate bachelor, is still pushing couples to have more children. Francis even stresses the need to pump up Italy’s low birth rate, as militaristic Mussolini likely did in 1930 when his “ally”, Pope Pius XI, banned birth control apparently out of concern for the threat of the expanding atheistic Soviets and a depleted post-World War I population in Western Europe.

* Pope Francis even suggests that couples may be having less children due to “egoism”. Francis reportedly said on 12/28/14: “In a world often marked by egoism, a large family is a school of solidarity and of mission that’s of benefit to the entire society, … ” . This is likely insulting and offensive to many sincere and responsible couples, I believe. It is to me. To paraphrase pertinent remarks of former Irish president, Mary McAleese, how many “nappies” has Francis ever changed? Is he really serious here?

* Family size should be the decision of couples and their families and not of their celibate and out of touch priests, no? Of course, it should be left up to each couple to assess and act responsibly and reasonably depending on their circumstance. Please see my related remarks at:

* [Christian Catholicism]

* This papal population push is apparently endorsed by papal promoter, John Allen. He is married, but seemingly is as unaware as Francis is, as to the serious consequences for families of having more children than a family may be able to handle. Children may be good, but more children may or may not be better — for the newest child, as well as for siblings and the parents involved. It just depends on the individual circumstances. Only childless celibates seem to have difficulty understanding this, it seems, no?

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REBUTTAL to Peggy Noonan’s article ‘Cardinal, Please Spare This Church’ in Wall Street Journal – Opus Dei Beast PR Stunt of Day in US

UNITED STATES
POPE FRANCIS the CON-Christ.

December 26, 2014

Paris Arrow

Introduction. Read our related articles: Learning from the Temple of Solomon and saving historical Our Lady of Assumption Church – ‘No building is more important than this one’ http://pope-francis-con-christ.blogspot.ca/2014/11/learning-from-temple-of-solomon-and.html

Jesus Christ is liberated from hundreds of tabernacles (prison) in Catholic churches shut down, sold-off, converted into apartments, stores, warehouses http://popecrimes.blogspot.ca/2014/09/jesus-christ-is-liberated-from-hundreds.html

Last November, Cardinal Dolan announced the merger of 112 (of the archdiocese’s 368) parishes consolidated to create 55 new parishes and the sale of 30 churches located in prime real estate in New York. A month later, on December 14, The New York Times published an article that “New York Archdiocese Appears Likely to Shutter More Churches” – indicating that an additional 38 parishes will merge, to create 16 new ones, among the affected churches, 11 would effectively close.

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Concerned Catholics of Guam Petition

GUAM
Concerned Catholics of Guam

The Concerned Catholics of Guam (CCOG) organization has stepped forward to offer assistance in resolving the divisive misunderstandings that currently plague our Catholic parish communities. The objectives of CCOG can be found by clicking here. In support of these objectives, CCOG is distributing a petition to collect names and signatures of supporters. Click the links below to view and download the petition and objectives:

CCOG Support Petition

CCOG Objectives

We hope to gather 2000 signatures by January 3, 2015. Please return any signed pages to Perez Brothers, Inc. in Harmon or contact Vangie Lujan by sending her a message on our Contact Us page.

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Concerned Guam Catholics circulate petition

GUAM
Marianas Variety

28 Dec 2014 By Jasmine Stole – jasmine@mvguam.com – Variety News Staff

HAGÅTÑA — The recently organized Concerned Catholics of Guam group has ​decided to circulate a petition to collect names and signatures of people who support the organization’s mission and objectives. The group aims to collect 2,000 signatures by Jan. 3, 2015, one day before three high level Church leaders are expected to visit Guam.

The petition is the latest development amid several connected controversies surrounding the local archdiocese.

The Concerned Catholics of Guam or CCOG posted a blank printable petition sheet and their objectives online. They aim to target local parishioners ages 16 years old and older for support.

In a short announcement posted on its website, the organization said it has “stepped forward to offer assistance in resolving the divisive misunderstandings that currently plague our Catholic parish communities” and invited the community to endorse their cause.

The group listed 15 objectives it wishes to tackle. The issues are related to the clergy, laity, parish affairs and the archdiocesan affairs. Seven of the fifteen objectives focus on more involvement, strengthening Catholic traditions and amending the Agana Archdiocese’s current policies.

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Pope Francis, JUST DO IT, Please, For God’s Sake !!!

UNITED STATES
Christian Catholicism

Jerry Slevin

* Pope Francis is a sports fan, a “football enthusiast”. Recently, he cutely observed reportedly that “oddsmakers” last year had him, in effect, as a “dark horse” candidate for papal election at 25-1. Francis convincingly cleared the papal field, but after almost two years of play, he is falling behind in the “match” to save the Catholic Church.

* Pope Francis at times seems like the legendary “Dutch Boy” trying to plug the Vatican dikes’ unending leaks with his papal fingers, but ten fingers are woefully inadequate for the task. The child abuse tsunami is too massive. He needs help, real help!

* Pope Francis needs now to follow Nike’s advice and “Just Do It“. The odds against him “Just Doing It” must be even higher, especially given his present losing “gameplan”. He needs at a minimum to add new players as Cardinals in February, especially women like the former Irish president , Mary McAleese, and Illinois Supreme Court Justice, Anne Burke, and some wise men, like Fr. Hans Kung and Fr. Thomas Doyle. The pope must revise his losing “gameplan” now before his papal clock runs out and a new coach takes over, even further behind in the score.

* Francis needs to be at least as bold as Pope John XXIII was a half century ago. John, in effect, appointed several “dissident” theologians as key experts at the Second Vatican Council and some informed women to advise his major birth control commission.

* Francis’ recent Christmas “attack move” on Vatican officials was surely an exciting play that thrilled Francis’ many fans, but it is not enough. Pope Francis cannot avoid any longer changing fundamentally the dysfunctional and obsolete top down monarchical management structure, and acting effectively and convincingly to curtail the scandals involving continuing priest child abuse, sexually repressive teachings and hierarchical financial corruption, among others, that evidently thrive in the present structure.

* The first Catholics consensually managed their leaders; Catholics can and must do so again, as discussed below. Otherwise, the Vatican Titanic will continue to sink. Unless Pope Francis acts promptly, while he yet is still able, to make the worldwide Catholic 0.01% leadership accountable again to the Catholic 99.9% laity, he will likely lose his final match.

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Schedule

AUSTRALIA
Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse

January

Tues 20 – Fri 30 Private sessions in capital cities Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne and Perth
Wed 28 – Fri 30 Private sessions in regional areas

February

Mon 2 – Fri 13 Public hearing: Case Study 22, Melbourne
Tues 3 – Fri 27 Private sessions in capital cities Melbourne, Adelaide, Brisbane and Sydney
Wed 18 – Fri 27 Private sessions in regional areas
Mon 23 – Fri 6 Public hearing Sydney

March

Tues 3 – Tues 31 Private sessions in capital cities Sydney, Perth, Canberra, Melbourne and Brisbane
Tues 10 – Fri 20 Public hearing Sydney
Tues 17 – Fri 20 Private sessions in regional areas
Wed 25 – Fri 27 Public hearing Sydney

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