Local priest accused of child sex abuse in New Jersey

BOCA RATON (FL)
WPTV

February 28, 2019

By Sam Smink

A former priest from Boca Raton is accused of abusing a minor while serving as a priest in New Jersey.

Earlier this month, the Diocese of Paterson, New Jersey released a list of 28 priests they found to have credible accusations of sexual abuse against minors.

Father John Sutton, once a priest at Saint Joan of Arc in Boca, was on that list. Here is a list of all 28 priests: https://rcdop.org/list

Officials from the Diocese of Paterson, New Jersey, tell me the abuse allegation against Father John Sutton came into their office in 2005.

The victim told investigators they had been abused as a minor, by Sutton, 29 years before that, in the 70s.

According to a diocese lawyer, Father Sutton went on a leave of absence from the Diocese of Paterson in 1979. In 2000, he asked if he could resign and join the Diocese of Palm Beach instead.

Father Sutton officially joined the Diocese of Palm Beach in January 2000, according to Paterson records, and Sutton’s family says he served at Saint Joan of Arc in Boca Raton. He passed away in August of 2000.

The Diocese of Paterson, New Jersey says it investigated the abuse claim in 2005, along with their local prosecutor’s office, and found the accusation to be credible.

Contact 5 spoke to his sister Margaret by phone. She says she thinks the church is out of line for releasing his name after his death.

“I know my brother, he did not do anything like that. It besmirches his name and he cannot defend himself,” said Margaret.

The bishop in Paterson said they released the names in an effort to promote healing for all victims of child sexual abuse.

We emailed and called the Diocese of Palm Beach multiple times to see if they would provide a statement regarding the accusation. They have not responded.

Earlier this month, we also asked the Diocese of Palm Beach if they would release a similar list of all priests with credible claims of abuse , like more than 112 other dioceses have done. They told Contact 5 “no response.”

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Grading the Vatican abuse summit

WASHINGTON (DC)
Religion News Service

February 28, 2019

By Mark Silk

Pope Francis, background third from left, attends a penitential liturgy at the Vatican on Feb. 23, 2019. The pontiff hosted a four-day summit on preventing clergy sexual abuse, a high-stakes meeting designed to impress on Catholic bishops around the world that the problem is global and that there are consequences if they cover it up. (Vincenzo Pinto/Pool Photo Via AP)

The consensus view is that the Vatican pretty much flunked its summit on the protection of minors. Yes, there was some good rhetoric, some powerful statements above all by women presenters, but what was accomplished? Where were the concrete steps that Pope Francis called for when he opened the meeting?

As a New York Times editorial concluded, “[A] malignancy whose primary victims are trusting children must be treated by immediate and radical measures, not by appeals or hand-wringing.”

Part of the explanation for the consensus is that news stories about anything to do with clergy sexual abuse almost invariably quote the reaction of leaders of victims’ groups. And these leaders find it very hard to say anything good about the church.

For example, in welcoming the conviction of Australian cardinal George Pell earlier this week, David Greenwood, secretary of the U.K.-based Minister and Clergy Sexual Abuse Survivors (MACSAS), told Newsweek, “We have tried to work with and encourage Catholic organizations to make changes to their treatment of children and survivors of abuse but have been rebuffed. It has become clear to us that the Catholic Church is incapable of change from within.”

Actually, that depends on what you mean by “from within.” Over the centuries, the impulse for change—reform—has indeed come from the outside: the Swabian monarchy in the 11th century, popular heresy in the 13th, the Protestant Reformation in the 16th, modernity in the 20th.

But in each case, the reform was not imposed from without. It came from within, as it must.

We’ve seen such a process take place in this country. After the Boston Globe‘s Spotlight Team ushered in a nationwide firestorm of exposés in 2002, the country’s bishops put in place what can only be called “immediate and radical” measures to get the sexual abuse of minors by priests under control.

If you don’t think the Dallas Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People worked, consider that the lists of priests credibly accused of abuse now coming out of dioceses around the country include just a handful of cases since 2002.

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Nebraska AG subpoenas Catholic parishes for child sex abuse records

DENVER (CO)
Catholic News Agency

February 28, 2019

The Nebraska Department of Justice on Tuesday issued subpoenas to more than 400 Catholic churches and institutions, seeking any records related to sexual assault or abuse of children.

“The Nebraska Department of Justice has appreciated the voluntary cooperation demonstrated by the churches. However, the Department believes that subpoenas are necessary in order to ensure all reports of impropriety have been submitted to the appropriate authorities,” read a Feb. 26 statement from the attorney general’s office.

“It is our goal that all reports of abuse are subject to complete law enforcement review and investigation as warranted.”

The subpoenas, issued to institutions such as parishes and schools, as well as the dioceses, “request all records or information related to any child sexual assault or abuse that has occurred by those employed or associated with each church or institution, whether previously reported or not.”

Each of the state’s dioceses have indicated their cooperation with a request made by the attorney general in September 2018 voluntarily to provide information on sexual abuse and other misconduct since 1978.

The Archdiocese of Omaha announced Nov. 30 that it had submitted to the attorney general “documents pertaining to church personnel accused of criminal sexual misconduct since 1978.” The documents included information on alleged abuse or misconduct with minors that dated back as far was 1956, but was not reported to the archdiocese until 1978.

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Priest scandal sparks debate of Iowa bill to end statute of limitations on sex crimes against minors

DES MOINES (IA)
Sioux City Journal

February 28, 2019

By Erin Murphy

Charges of sexual assault and other sexual crimes against minors could be tried at any time under legislation being considered by state lawmakers.

The proposal would eliminate Iowa’s current statute of limitations on those crimes.

Currently, sexual assault charges must be brought within 10 years of the alleged victim turning 18 years old or within three years of an alleged perpetrator being identified by DNA evidence.

The proposal to eliminate that statute of limitations is working its way through the Iowa Capitol in the wake of the latest round of revelations of decades-old sexual abuse committed by Catholic priests against minors, most recently in Northwest Iowa.

The Sioux City diocese on Monday released the names of 28 priests credibly accused of sexually abusing more than 100 children while serving the diocese, which covers 24 counties in Northwest Iowa. Six of the priests are still living, but the most recent case of abuse occurred in 1995.

“We continue to see case after case unfold of predators who have been allowed to continue preying on our children,” said Janet Petersen, a Democratic state senator from Des Moines. “Our laws not only benefit perpetrators, but they also benefit organizations that have covered up crimes against children, and that is simply wrong.

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George Pell has good chance of winning appeal against convictions, expert says

LONDON (ENGLAND)
The Guardian

February 28, 2019

By Melissa Davey

Cardinal George Pell’s appeal against his convictions of sexually assaulting and penetrating choirboys is likely to be granted and has a good chance of succeeding on the basis of unreasonableness, according to legal experts and defence lawyers.

Pell’s defence barrister, Robert Richter, told the sentencing hearing on Wednesday that his client’s appeal would be based on three key grounds: unreasonableness, the prohibition of video evidence in the closing address, and composition of the jury.

Experts spoken to by Guardian Australia agreed that while the latter two appeared flimsy, an appeal on the basis of unreasonableness may have a high chance of success. This argument says the jury delivered a verdict that was not supported by the evidence.

University of Melbourne law school’s criminal appeals and procedure expert, Professor Jeremy Gans, said this was a commonly used grounds for appeal.

“Prosecutors would be completely prepared for an appeal based on this,” he said.

“And it’s not a rare grounds to succeed on. This is the defence’s best shot and carries a bonus for them in that if they win there can almost certainly be no new trial. Because once a court decides a guilty verdict is unreasonable it means they don’t think guilty should be the verdict in the next trial either. They would almost certainly acquit. Basically on this grounds of appeal, the court gets to decide if the jury got it right.”

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AG on Church’s release of NJ priest names

SPARTA (NJ)
Sparta Independent

February 28, 2019

In September 2018, I established a statewide task force to investigate allegations of sexual abuse by clergy in the Catholic dioceses of New Jersey. I am pleased to see that our task force’s grand jury investigation has prompted the dioceses to finally take some measures to hold predator priests accountable.

While this is a positive first step towards transparency and accountability, I hope this spirit of openness continues during the course of our ongoing investigation and in response to our requests for records and information.

Despite the recent actions by the dioceses, our investigation remains ongoing because no institution or individual is immune from accountability. We know from the hundreds of calls that we have received over our tip line that there are many others who were abused as children and as adults, both by diocesan clergy and clergy members in various religious orders. The investigative work of the task force continues so that we may assure that all survivors of clergy abuse are heard and all abusers and institutions are held accountable for their acts. To this end, we anticipate taking criminal action wherever appropriate and releasing comprehensive information at the conclusion of our investigation.

We urge survivors and others with information to contact our toll-free tip line, 855-363-6548, which is staffed by trained professionals on a 24/7 basis.

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St. Joseph’s Catholic School leader reacts to graduate’s claims of sexual abuse by priest

GREENVILLE (SC)
Greenville News

February 28, 2019

By Mike Ellis and Nathaniel Cary

The headmaster of St. Joseph’s Catholic School in Greenville sent a letter Tuesday to alumni and parents of students to address allegations of sexual abuse that a graduate made about a priest who used to perform sacraments at the school. The headmaster also defended a current teacher whom the graduate now believes could have known about the abuse.

Michael Cassabon, a 1998 St. Joseph’s graduate, told The Greenville News he was abused by Hayden Vaverek multiple times over the course of at least two years while Cassabon was a student at the school.

Cassabon reported the alleged abuse in 2013. The Diocese of Charleston, which comprises the state of South Carolina, and the Greenwood County Sheriff’s Office investigated. Vaverek was removed from the priesthood in 2016 after the diocese found Cassabon’s allegations “credible.”

Cassabon didn’t pursue a criminal charge against Vaverek, and Vaverek has not been criminally charged.

Cassabon, who was himself a priest at the time of the investigation in 2013, told The News that he wanted the matter to be handled by the church and feared that Vaverek would be killed in jail if he were convicted.

Multiple attempts to reach Vaverek by phone and email were unsuccessful Wednesday.

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Who is Michael Cassabon, the priest who’s made accusations related to St. Joseph’s

GREENVILLE (SC)
Greenville News

February 28, 2019

By Mike Ellis and Nathaniel Cary

Michael Cassabon told The Greenville News he was abused by Hayden Vaverek multiple times over the course of at least two years while Cassabon was a student at St. Joseph’s Catholic School in Greenville.

He reported the alleged abuse in 2013. The Diocese of Charleston and the Greenwood County Sheriff’s Office investigated. Vaverek was removed from the priesthood in 2016.

Cassabon didn’t pursue a criminal charge against Vaverek, and Vaverek has not been criminally charged. Vaverek was defrocked, however, and the diocese said the claim of abuse was “credible.”

Here’s more on who Cassabon is:

► Michael Cassabon, 38, is a Catholic priest who now lives in Toronto, Canada. He’s said he was sexually assaulted by a priest while he was a student at St. Joseph’s Catholic School in Greenville

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Who is Hayden Vaverek, the former Catholic priest who’s been accused of sexual abuse

GREENVILLE (SC)
Greenville News

February 28, 2019

By Mike Ellis and Nathaniel Cary

Hayden Vaverek, 53, is a laicized Catholic priest who’s been accused of sexually abusing a former student at St. Joseph’s Catholic School in Greenville.

Michael Cassabon, a 1998 St. Joseph’s graduate, told The Greenville News he was abused by Vaverek multiple times over the course of at least two years in the 1990s.

Cassabon reported the alleged abuse in 2013. The Diocese of Charleston and the Greenwood County Sheriff’s Office investigated. Vaverek was removed from the priesthood in 2013.

Cassabon didn’t pursue a criminal charge against Vaverek, and Vaverek has not been criminally charged, though the diocese said Cassabon’s claim of abuse was “credible.”

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Tyrone priest takes case to Supreme Court

BELFAST (NORTHERN IRELAND)
Belfast Telegraph

February 28 2019

By Sarah MacDonald

A priest from Co Tyrone who claims he was pushed out of his US parish because he refused to cover up for another priest’s sexually inappropriate behaviour with an underage boy is taking his case to the US Supreme Court.

Fr John Gallagher (51) alleges that Bishop Gerald Barbarito and the Diocese of Palm Beach ruined his reputation and career as a priest because he reported the sexual misconduct of another cleric, Joseph Palimattom, who had come to serve in his parish, the Holy Name of Jesus, in December 2014.

The Indian priest showed child abuse images to a 14-year-old parishioner, who complained about the cleric’s actions in January 2015.

Police believe Palimattom was grooming the teenager.

The priest was later convicted of showing obscene material to a minor and served a six-month sentence.

He was then deported from the US back to India.

Fr Gallagher alleges that because of his whistleblowing, he was placed on medical leave by the diocese, the locks on his parochial home were changed and his belongings moved while he was in the hospital.

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Top Vatican official’s sex abuse conviction latest blow to embattled Roman Catholic Church

AUSTRALIA
ABC News

February 26, 2019

By Meghan Keneally

The revelation that a Catholic cardinal in Australia was convicted of molesting boys marks the most senior member of the church to face prison time for sexual abuse.

The charges against Cardinal George Pell — who was not only a major figure in Australia’s Catholic church but also a close adviser to Pope Francis — were not publicly released until Tuesday because of a law in the country’s court system.

In December, he was convicted of molesting two choir boys in the 1990s, but under Australian law, all details of that trial — including the fact that the trial was held at all — were suppressed because Pell was set to be subject to a second trial.

But the suppression order was lifted after additional charges relating to allegations that Pell had also abused boys in his hometown of Ballarat in the 1970s were dropped, prompting details of the first trial and conviction to be made public for the first time, according to the Associated Press.

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Rodrigo Polanco, el influyente sacerdote UC denunciado por abuso sexual que aproblema a Ignacio Sánchez

[Rodrigo Polanco, the influential UC priest denounced for sexual abuse that troubles Ignacio Sánchez]

CHILE
El Mostrador

February 28, 2019

By Felipe Saleh

“La formación integral de los estudiantes es un deber de las universidades”, escribió Ignacio Sánchez en una columna publicada ayer por El Mercurio. En el contexto del año académico que parte la próxima semana, el rector de la Pontificia Universidad Católica (PUC) incluyó un mensaje a los estudiantes. “Dentro de los atributos del perfil del egresado resulta relevante que los estudiantes sean capaces de discernir sobre las implicancias éticas de sus decisiones y actuar con integridad en todas las instancias del proceso formativo. En nuestra institución, hemos implementado el Código de Honor, documento que se firma al ingresar a la universidad que implica actuar con rectitud y honestidad, respetando los principios y valores que rigen a la UC.”

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SBC Churches Singled Out for Investigation “Exonerated,” SNAP Responds

ST. LOUIS (MO)
Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests

February 28, 2019

Despite being singled out for “further inquiry” into their handling of allegations of sexual abuse, Southern Baptist Convention leaders moved quickly this week to exonerate seven of those ten churches.

Baptists should be outraged that top denominational officials moved so quickly to exonerate these churches that were just in the spotlight over clergy sex abuse and cover up allegations. It is clear that, despite recent worldwide attention into cases of sexual abuse by SBC ministers, the church is still dragging its feet in moving towards change.

The SBC panel responsible for this travesty, including chairman Ken Alford, should be ashamed of rushing this investigation. As has been reported, the culture of abuse and cover-up runs deep in the SBC, so for the Executive Committee to so quickly and recklessly dismiss the serious allegations is an astonishing mis-step.

We believe that the 10 churches listed should go through the same kind of independent investigation by police and prosecutors that we demand of catholic churches who have similarly failed to respond properly to cases of sexual abuse. No institution can police itself, only independent, secular officials can get to the bottom of these cases.

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La Iglesia española se resiste a investigar los abusos sexuales

[Spanish Church is reluctant to investigate sexual abuse: bishops conference leaves investigations in hands of dioceses]

MADRID (SPAIN)
El País

February 28, 2019

By Julio Núñez

La Conferencia Episcopal deja en manos de las diócesis y de Roma las medidas contra la pederastia

La Iglesia española se resiste a tomar medidas concretas contra la pederastia a la espera de que el papa Francisco le indique las normas que debe seguir para afrontar los casos de abusos. Dicen no tener autoridad para ello y lo dejan en manos de las diócesis y de los dictados que lleguen de Roma. Pero una semana después de la cumbre en el Vaticano para tratar el tema, ni allí ni en la Conferencia Episcopal Española (CEE) se han anunciado las acciones que, previsiblemente, iban a tomar para luchar contra uno de los problemas que más fuerte ha golpeado a la Iglesia universal en los últimos años.

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Statement by Bill Lindsey, SNAP Arkansas Leader

ST. LOUIS (MO)
Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests

February 28, 2019

We are members of a support group called SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests. We exist for two reasons: To protect the vulnerable and to heal the wounded. We are here today for three reasons.

First, we are begging anyone with information or suspicions about crimes or cover ups by Arkansas church officials to come forward. Every victim heals in a different way. But it almost always starts with a brave disclosure. Maybe a spouse or best friend. Maybe a sibling or a therapist. But please, if you were sexually violated, do not try to carry that burden alone. Trust is difficult. But trust SOMEONE and share your pain. That’s how you can begin to move forward.

And if you did not suffer abuse, but saw or suspected it, come forward. Tell police or prosecutors or groups like ours. That’s your moral and civic duty. And that’s how we stop this horror.

Second, we are revealing the names three publicly accused abusive clerics who spent time in Arkansas and have been left off Bishop Anthony Taylor’s “accused” list, which was unveiled last September and updated this month.

— Fr. John H. Sutton who’s accused of abuse in the 1990s in Texas, an allegation that “was found to have a semblance of truth,” according to Ft. Worth church officials.

— Fr. Daniel De Dominicis, who was included in the San Bernardino diocese’s list of clergy credibly accused of child sexual abuse.

— Fr. Joseph D. Ross, who was convicted in 1988 of the sexual abuse of a boy in 1986. In 2008, he was again arrested, this time by Little Rock police, on charges of rape of a St. Louis girl. He was defrocked.

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As Vatican conference on sexual abuse ends, Charleston Diocese on track to release list of credibly accused“>

CHARLESTON (SC)
WCSC TV

February 28, 2019

Last Sunday, Pope Francis ended his unprecedented summit at the Vatican on preventing clergy sexual abuse. At the same time, the Charleston Diocese is preparing to take its own unprecedented measure.

A spokeswoman for the Diocese confirmed earlier this week that the diocese is still on track to release its list of priests credibly accused of sexual abuse by the end of March, a move that will surely spark plenty of conversation in the “Holy City” once the list is revealed.

“While universal protocol has not been approved, the National Conferences of Bishops have been given clear mandates to address and deal with the problems of sexual abuse of minors in their respective countries,” Bishop Robert E. Guglielmone said in a statement.

During mass last Sunday, Pope Francis vowed to confront abusers with “the wrath of God,” and prioritize victims of what he called “brazen, aggressive and destructive evil.”

Francis summoned 190 presidents of bishops conferences around the world for the summit. The Vatican also announced it will soon issue a child protection policy and guidelines for preventing sexual abuse of minors for Vatican City State.

“I am confident that we in our country can produce the accountability that is so necessary for us to move toward prevention of these abuses in the future,” Guglielmone said.

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Suspended Priest Found “On the Job” in Gaylord

ST. LOUIS (MO)
Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests

February 28, 2019

Though a Michigan priest was supposedly “permanently removed from ministry” in 2002, he was recently working as a sacristan and alone around boys in church according to a new report.

In 2016, Gaylord Bishop Steven J. Raica received a letter complaining that Fr. James A. Holtz was seen helping an altar boy with his belt. Then, six months later, he received a second letter.

It was only then that Raica supposedly began taking action. But he should have shouted from the rooftops and called police the minute he heard Fr. Holtz was working again in a church. Tragically, Bishop Raica did not. He kept quiet instead. We shudder to think of how many children were put at risk because of this reckless decision.

Given how easily Fr. Holtz was able to begin working again in a new parish, we can only help but wonder how many other suspended or even defrocked priests are functioning in other roles around vulnerable kids and unsuspecting families in churches throughout the US.

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Former Priest in Wisconsin Arrested Again, SNAP Responds

ST. LOUIS (MO)
Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests

February 28, 2019

A former priest from the Diocese of Green Bay has been arrested again for exposing himself to children.

Former priest Richard L. Thomas was defrocked just last year, even though he was arrested in 1990 and again in 1993 for similarly exposing his genitals to kids (he was convicted in the latter case). We are relieved that Thomas will again be jailed and that kids in Wisconsin will be safer.

Because his behavior is so unrelenting, we feel confident that a thorough outreach effort by church staff in Green Bay would bring forward other victims, witnesses and whistleblowers. That might enable the justice system to keep Thomas away from kids forever.

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Why the Pope’s Summit on Abuse Disappointed Some Survivors

NEW YORK (NY)
Time

February 28, 2019

By Ciara Nugent

Pope Francis arrived at the Vatican in 2013 promising “decisive action” on the child sex-abuse crisis that has racked the Catholic Church for at least three decades. Survivors around the world had told of horrific assaults by priests and callous cover-ups by senior clerics; in the U.S. alone, a 2004 church-commissioned report recorded over 10,000 accusations against more than 4,000 priests. Since then, the evidence has only grown. Yet advocates say Francis has offered little to restore the moral authority of the church beyond strong words.

Much then was left riding on the landmark summit the Pope called for Feb. 21–24. Nearly 200 bishops, Cardinals and other senior clerics gathered in the Vatican to hear recorded testimony from survivors, listen to speeches and hold group discussions, all with the aim of getting on the same page. As if to announce a new seriousness of purpose, the church expelled the former Archbishop of Washington, D.C., Theodore E. McCarrick, just days before, on Feb. 16–the first Cardinal to be defrocked over the sexual abuse of minors in modern times. Francis used the summit to call for an “all-out battle” against abuse, and church leaders hailed it as an unprecedented confrontation with the ugliest parts of their organization. “I am convinced that this was a moment of deep transformation,” Father Hans Zollner, one of the church’s top experts on child protection and the summit’s organizer, tells TIME.

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The Charlotte Diocese’s cowardly silence on abuse

CHARLOTTE (NC)
Charlotte Observer

February 28, 2019

By Billy Maddalon

Catholic dioceses around the country have released names of priests credibly accused of sex abuse, Charlotte is not one of them.

Last week was another difficult week for local Catholics. As the Church convened a worldwide summit dealing with the endless sex abuse crisis, the Diocese of Richmond released a list of clergy who had been credibly accused of sexual abuse of a minor. On that list were two monks who previously served in the Charlotte Diocese, which has refused to disclose its list of credibly accused priests. If that list is ever released, the name of Joseph Kelleher will appear. He was the parish priest at Our Lady of Assumption, my childhood church and school, a relatively small faith community in what was then a much smaller Charlotte.

Coincidentally, going through old photos recently, one in particular caught my attention. It was my 8th grade class graduation photo. There we were, all 18 of us standing on the steps of the church, looking like a million bucks, posing with our school principal, our teacher, and our larger than life parish priest, Joseph Kelleher. And that’s where the memories get complicated. In 2010, Kelleher was charged with and admitted to police that he sexually assaulted a student in Albemarle in 1977, shortly before being moved to Charlotte. We also know he’s been accused of assaulting at least one of my classmates in 1981. Looking back, I can’t say I’m completely surprised. Kelleher was a big hugger and often encouraged me to sit on his lap. On more than one occasion, he either had an object in his pocket or … well, you get the picture. I never pulled away and I never ran. What happened to my classmate could have easily happened to me.

But this isn’t really about me or Kelleher. It turns out he is just one of many … or dozens … or hundreds of predatory priests in the Diocese of Charlotte. I say “or” because we really don’t know. We won’t know unless Bishop Peter Jugis decides to release a list of “credibly accused” abusers in his diocese. The Archdiocese of Atlanta, the dioceses of Raleigh, Charleston, Savannah, Richmond, Arlington, Nashville and Knoxville, have all released their own lists. Unlike his peers, Jugis is waiting on “additional instruction” before he decides to join this “stampede” of transparency, said Diocese spokesperson David Hains. With no apparent shame, he’s hiding behind survivors as an excuse to remain silent, saying he doesn’t want to “pile on” and cause further harm by releasing a list of offenders. What a bunch of cowardly hooey.

I’ve never met Jugis, but what I know about him suggests he’s a coward and a hypocrite. He fired a gay Charlotte Catholic High teacher because he got married, saying there would be scandal if the diocese didn’t officially respond to such a “contradictory message” from an employee. That’s rich, because in 2014 Jugis himself chose to preside over a memorial mass for deceased priest Joseph Kelleher. Yes, that Kelleher, the admitted abuser. And not one word was mentioned about a scandal caused by sending a contradictory message.

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‘Australia Has Changed’: Church Abuse Survivors Share Their Stories

AUSTRALIA
10 daily

February 27, 2019

By Josh Butler

Warning: This story discusses child sex abuse.

Stephen Woods is still “furious” about what happened to him.

The Victorian man, a survivor of abuse at the hands of paedophile priest Gerald Ridsdale and other clergy members, remembers in horrific detail what happened to him as a boy in Ballarat.

After being molested by Catholic brothers as a pre-teen, Woods told 10 daily he went to seek the guidance of a priest.

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Green Bay ex-priest sent to jail for having unapproved contact with children

GREEN BAY (WI)
WBAY TV

February 28, 2019

A former Green Bay priest who was convicted of exposing his genitals to a child has been sent to jail for violating probation.

Documents obtained by Action 2 News detail recent allegations against Richard Thomas, 81.

Once of the documents is a letter sent by the Department of Corrections to Judge Timothy A. Hinkfuss. The letter states that Thomas had violated rules of supervision by having unapproved verbal and physical contact with children.

In 2016, Thomas was sentenced to 36 months on supervision after he was found guilty of two counts of Exposing Genitals/Pubic Area/Intimate Parts to a Child. Thomas had exposed himself to a teenager while living at Grellinger Hall, a residence for retired priests.

Conditions of probation include lifetime registry on the Wisconsin Sex Offender list and no contact with minors unless approved by a parole agent.

Thomas has been living in the community since Feb. 24, 2017. In the letter to Judge Hinkfuss, the Wisconsin Department of Corrections says it was reported that Thomas had been “intentionally seeking out minors” at Green Bay’s Bay Motel and Family Restaurant to “engage them in conversation.”

Thomas was asking the children about where they go to school and what grade they are in. He reportedly asked one child what city he lived in.

The DOC says Thomas admitted to having physical contact with a boy, “placing his hand on this minor’s shoulder making him feel uncomfortable.”

Thomas also admitted to telling an underage girl that he thought she was attractive “and if he was her age he would date her.”

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Day of reckoning: A wave of fresh accusations against priests has been unleashed

ROCHESTER (NY)
Rochester Democrat and Chronicle

February 28, 2019

By Steve Orr and Sean Lahman

A new wave of allegations against Roman Catholic clergy will emerge in New York as a result of the new Child Victims Act. Matthew Leonard, Rochester Democrat and Chronicle

After decades of anguish and argument over sexual abuse in the Roman Catholic church, a final reckoning may be coming for New York parishioners.

Over the last quarter-century, sexual abuse allegations, some of them horrendous, have been lodged in fits and starts against more than 400 priests and others associated with the church in New York state. The church hierarchy has been accused of concealing the truth about sexual misconduct as well.

But the number of past accusations and admissions pale in comparison to what’s happening today, and what will happen in the months ahead.

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History will judge George Pell, the cardinal who sought to crush me

SYDNEY (AUSTRALIA)
Sydney Morning Herald

February 28, 2019

By John Ellis

I have hesitated in weighing in to add to the thousands of words written this week about the publication, at long last, of the details of the conviction of George Pell last December on child sex abuse charges.

It may surprise many to know that I have not followed the criminal process at all, know few details of it (even now), and have no opinion as to what may or may not happen in the balance of that criminal process.

However, as a survivor of sexual abuse by a priest over a period of more than 12 years, and having faced myself the opinion apparently held by those close to George Pell (and perhaps by Pell himself) – as to how inherently unlikely it was that a holy monk of God would have so openly engaged in such debased and abhorrent acts against a young boy – I feel saddened that the experiences of the complainant have been so disrespected by many commentators who feel the need to express doubt over what a jury of 12 has been satisfied beyond reasonable doubt.

George Pell apologised to me for the legal abuse perpetrated by the church under his watch as Archbishop of Sydney. Before he departed for Rome in 2014, he famously recited a public apology not to me but to the assembled audience at the conclusion of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse public hearing. I had a cup of tea with him. While that was a private meeting and will remain so, I can say that I have never felt any warmth from the man. I was not left with a sense of any acceptance of personal responsibility for how he sought to crush me or any appreciation of the impacts of his own actions.

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A seismic shift…but concrete action is the next step

DUBLIN (IRELAND)
Irish Catholic

February 28, 2019

By Michael Kelly

In his closing remarks to the summit on the protection of minors at the weekend, Pope Francis summoned the bishops and religious superiors with somewhat of a battle cry. The time has come, the Pontiff said, for an “all-out battle” against the abuse, erasing this abominable crime from the face of the earth.

Since the problem is present on every continent, the Pope said he called leaders of the world’s bishops and religious superiors to Rome because “I wanted us to face it together in a co-responsible and collegial way”, he said.

“We listened to the voice of victims, we prayed and asked for forgiveness from God and the people hurt, we took stock of our responsibility, and our duty to bring justice through truth and to radically reject every form” of sexual abuse and the abuse of power and conscience, he said.

“We want every activity and every place in the Church to be completely safe for minors,” he said, which means taking every possible measure so that such crimes never happen again.

If the main purpose of the summit was to ensure that every part of the Church is on the same page on the issue of abuse, it seems safe to cautiously hail the gathering as a success. Some victims and survivors expressed disappointment over what they perceived as a lack of concrete action, but organisers were keen to ask people to wait just a little bit longer for such progress.

What Francis did make clear is that never again will a religious leader be able to say they were unaware of the issue of abuse. Speaking in the Sala Regia, the Pope told some 190 cardinals, bishops and religious superiors from around the world, “the time has come, then, to work together to eradicate this evil from the body of our humanity by adopting every necessary measure already in force on the international level and ecclesial levels”.

“I make a heartfelt appeal for an all-out battle against the abuse of minors both sexually and in other areas, on the part of all authorities and individuals, for we are dealing with abominable crimes that must be erased from the face of the earth,” he said.

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Vatican embassy confirms complaint of sexual misconduct against ex-nuncio

QUEBEC CITY (CANADA)
Catholic News Service

February 28, 2019

By Philippe Vaillancourt

The apostolic nunciature in Ottawa, Ontario, confirmed Feb. 26 that it received a first complaint of sexual misconduct concerning Archbishop Luigi Ventura, the Vatican’s ambassador to Canada from 2001 to 2009.

Ventura, now 74, is under investigation for similar allegations in France, where he has served as nuncio since 2009.

The alleged incident took place July 26, 2008, at the shrine of Sainte-Anne-de-Beaupre. Ventura was there for the feast of Ste. Anne, as the shrine was celebrating its 350th anniversary.

Christian Vachon, then 32, was part of the youth pastoral team. He told Presence info that, on that day, he was asked to help by providing service at the tables during a banquet. He alleged that Ventura touched his buttocks at least twice while he was serving him. He said he thought it was done inadvertently the first time, but that that there was no doubt after the second time.

He said the nuncio tried to engage in conversation with him, but he did not want to speak.

“During the meal, I was on edge. I was shocked. I was shocked by what he did. This is the complete opposite of the dignity that comes with its function. I was scandalized,” he told Presence info, a French-language Canadian news service.

Vachon said he felt “depressed” during the afternoon.

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Pope Francis’ Summit On Clerical Sexual Abuse Was A Charade

WASHINGTON (DC)
The Federalist

February 28, 2019

By John Daniel Davidson

The Vatican’s four-day summit on protecting minors ended Sunday with a whimper. There were no new “concrete, effective measures” to hold Catholic bishops accountable for ignoring and covering up sexual abuse, as Pope Francis had called for before the summit began. There were likewise no discussions of the link between sexual abuse and homosexuality among the clergy, the rampant abuse of adult seminarians by their superiors, or the case of disgraced former Archbishop Theodore McCarrick.

Instead, the summit concluded with a 3,000-word speech by Francis that contained little of substance but was heavy on defensiveness and bureaucratese. Francis rattled off a list of “best practices” for ending violence against children compiled by the World Health Organization, and offered a meandering discussion about how a “great number of” abuse cases are “committed within families”—an obvious attempt to deflect attention from the putative subject of the summit: clerical sexual abuse.

In the end, the summit accomplished almost nothing because it was designed to accomplish nothing. It was narrowly tailored to address only the sexual abuse of children, and only in a generalized way, without reference to the McCarrick affair or the problems it exposed in the American hierarchy.

Never mind that the revelations about McCarrick’s sexual abuse of minors and seminarians precipitated this meeting, after Francis was accused of ignoring reports about McCarrick back in September. Never mind that more than 80 percent of abuse victims have been teenage males, or that the first reported victim of McCarrick was 17 at the time he was abused.

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Vatican Summit Promises Course Change on Sexual Abuse, Concrete Actions Pending

ROME (ITALY)
National Catholic Register

February 27, 2019

By Edward Pentin

Three concrete initiatives to better handle clerical sex abuse, greater powers to help the laity hold bishops accountable, and changes to a papal decree aimed at closing legal loopholes that have allowed bishops to cover up such crimes with impunity, were some tangible achievements of the recent Vatican summit on child protection in the Church.

The 114 episcopal conference presidents taking part in the Feb. 21-24 gathering mostly welcomed the meeting’s outcome and the rare opportunity to discuss face-to-face these issues from a global perspective.

The meeting was “very useful, very necessary and very timely,” Cardinal Oswald Gracias of Bombay, India, told reporters at the end of the conference. He welcomed bringing the “whole world together” to address the abuse problem, which is now a “common priority.” All are now conscious “this is a real serious problem,” he added.

“These have been challenging, fruitful days,” said Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, in a Feb. 25 statement. “We owe survivors an unyielding vigilance that we may never fail them again.”

But many others were disappointed, angry or frustrated with the meeting’s outcome. Victim-survivor groups largely viewed the event as not radical enough and a deflection from effectively preventing abuse, achieving real accountability and ending a cover-up culture in the Church.

“My fears have been answered,” Shaun Dougherty, who was abused by a priest when he was 10 to 13 years old, told the Register. “I don’t believe that the bishops and cardinals are any more equipped to police themselves than they were last week, before the conference began.”

The meeting was also overshadowed by accusations that Pope Francis had himself been covering up for clerical abusers, including most recently Argentinian Bishop Gustavo Zanchetta, accused of inappropriate behavior with seminarians and having homosexual pornography on his cellphone.

Others saw discussion of ex-cardinal and priest Theodore McCarrick’s crimes of abuse of minors, seminarians and priests of a homosexual nature as deliberately omitted and suppressed. This was despite outrage over the McCarrick scandal providing much of the impetus for the summit. It was also seen as a lost opportunity in dealing with causes of abuse that encompass vulnerable adults as well as minors.

Pope Francis opened the meeting expressing hope that the participants would “hear the cry of the little ones who plead for justice” and that they discuss “this evil” in a “synodal, frank and in-depth manner.” He also issued 21 points to consider as “starting points” for discussions on improving the handling of abuse cases, at least half of which reflected the American experience since the crisis first broke in 2002.

The meeting’s program centered on nine presentations on a theme dedicated to each of the three days: responsibility on the first, accountability on the second, and transparency on the third, interspersed by working-group sessions and testimonies from abuse victims.

The presenters — five cardinals, one archbishop, a religious sister and two laywomen — covered a wide range of issues: the need for the Church to draw close to the wounds of victims, acknowledge faults and mistakes, and ask for forgiveness to regain credibility and ensure children are safe. They highlighted areas of prevention and clarified bishops’ responsibilities and the need for collegiality and synodality in dealing with abuse.

Also proposed was a 12-point proposal for better accountability, including having metropolitan bishops hold other bishops accountable. Other suggestions were revising and possibly rescinding use of the “pontifical secret” in abuse cases and inviting Church leaders to see the media as allies rather than enemies in uncovering abuse and bringing predator priests to justice.

At a penitential liturgy on the final evening of the summit discussions, bishops made an examination of conscience, confessed to covering up abuse, and asked for pardon. In his homily at the summit’s closing Mass the next day, Archbishop Mark Coleridge of Brisbane, Australia, acknowledged that at times abuse victims have been seen “as the enemy” and that “we have not loved them; we have not blessed them.”

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Cruelty towards flock haunts clergy amid sex abuse crisis

PARIS (FRANCE)
LaCroix International

February 28, 2019

About five years ago, a 17-year old girl took her newborn child to church for baptism in the central Philippine city of Cebu. Instead of blessings, a Redemptorist priest heaped scorn on the young mother.

“You should be ashamed and hide. We should close this church out of shame because you would have this child baptized without a husband,” thundered the priest. “The disgrace will be passed on to the child,” he warned.

Amid the drama of breast-beating during the recent Vatican summit on clerical sex abuse, there was hardly any mention of acts of cruelty and self-righteousness like the one displayed in Cebu. The omission betrays a lack of discernment.

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Outrage over pedophile priests forces bishop out of St. Patrick’s Day parade

NEW YORK (NY)
Irish Central

February 28, 2019

By Niall O’Dowd

The Catholic Church abuse scandals have now impacted on Buffalo’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade celebrations as a leading cleric is forced to cancel marching in city’s parade.

The Bishop of Buffalo, New York, has been forced to drop out of the city’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade after a whistleblower on “60 Minutes” accused him of a cover-up and criticism from a local forced his hand. There has also been an online petition calling for him to drop out. The Buffalo St. Patrick’s Day Parade is one of the largest in the United States.

Bishop Richard Malone is accused of covering up scores of old abuse cases and currently covering for up to nine priests in his parish who have allegedly abused young children. His handling of the pedophile issue was the subject of a scathing “60 Minutes” report in November.

Explaining the decision to not march a press release from the Archdiocese stated:

“To prevent the Saint Patrick’s Day Parade from being used as a platform to address unrelated issues – however important those issues may be – Bishop Malone, with immense regret, has decided not to march in the Parade this year…. It is not the proper forum for controversy.”

The United Irish American Association, which runs the parade, had stated it was up to the diocese to decide who represented them.

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2 NTX Churches Cleared of Wrongdoing After Being Singled Out by Southern Baptist Leader

DALLAS (TX)
NBCDFW 5

February 27, 2019

By Dana Branham

Southern Baptist Convention officials cleared two of the three North Texas churches that the convention’s president singled out last week for scrutiny in the wake of a sex abuse scandal.

President J.D. Greear targeted 10 churches in a speech last week, saying the denomination should kick out churches that show a “wanton disregard for sexual abuse and for caring for the survivors.”

The three North Texas churches Greear listed were First Baptist Church in Bedford, Bolivar Baptist Church in Sanger and Arapaho Road Baptist Church in Garland.

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Vatican’s summit on abuse gets a mixed verdict

KANSAS CITY (MO)
National Catholic Reporter

February 28, 2019

The recently completed meeting at the Vatican of heads of bishops’ conferences from around the globe was the latest and most elaborate of the hierarchy’s transactions with members of their own church and with the wider culture over clergy sex abuse.

For a church that proclaims Jesus, this has been a long, slow slog toward truth-telling and accountability. The transactions — from denial to reluctant reform — have been going on since the scandal was first reported nearly 34 years ago.

The recent meeting has the potential to mark a large step forward in the church’s efforts to deal with the scandal and regain the trust of Catholics and others. It is essential, however, to note two factors that significantly qualify the meeting’s success.

First, the gathering itself, extraordinary as it may have been, was, like most other advances in dealing with the crisis, forced by outside circumstances. The bishops were not called to Rome because it was the right thing to do. They were summoned, in part, because of extreme pressure that had built up behind ongoing revelations in a grand jury report of hierarchical malfeasance and because of the abuse of a child and seminarians by a well-known cardinal.

Second, the bishops returned home having yet to answer that ancient question, a line from the poet Juvenal, “Who will guard the guards?”

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Sexual abuse by clergy met with silence

DAVENPORT (IA)
Quad Cities OnLine

February 28, 2019

By Scott Reeder

The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing. — Edmund Burke

Michael Leathers is a good man who did something.

And it cost him his job.

Back in 2002, he was the editor of Illinois Baptist, a newspaper covering Southern Baptist congregations across the Land of Lincoln.

When he learned that a pastor, Leslie Mason, was criminally charged with sexually abusing girls in Olney, Ill., he reported it. One of the girls apparently was only 13 years old.

Instead of receiving praise for informing Baptists about a potential predator in their midst, he found himself in a room with a lawyer and his boss Glenn Akins, who then ran the Illinois Baptist State Association.

They wanted him gone.

According to Leathers, Akins offered a peculiar complaint about the story: writing about one pastor who committed sex crimes was unfair because that “ignores many others who have done the same thing.”

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Younger bishops ready for action after Vatican summit on sex abuse

Kansas City (MO)
National Catholic Reporter

February 28, 2019

By Heidi Schlumpf

The November 2018 bishops’ meeting was Bishop W. Shawn McKnight’s first as a prelate, having been named to lead the Diocese of Jefferson City, Missouri, a year earlier. Normally, a new bishop would refrain from speaking from the floor, but after the surprise announcement to delay action on sex abuse until after the Vatican global summit on the topic in February, McKnight couldn’t keep silent. He approached the microphone and shared how “heartbroken” and concerned he felt for the future of the church.

Now that the Feb. 21-24 Vatican summit has concluded, McKnight — and several other newer, younger bishops — are ready to implement changes that would hold accountable bishops who cover up abuse, or are abusers themselves.

McKnight believes the summit has given the bishops the “green light” to move forward at the upcoming June meeting of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops in Baltimore, where he sees “the themes of transparency and accountability coming to some sort of concrete decision.”

“The validity and the success of the summit will depend on the concrete outcomes,” the 50-year-old bishop told NCR, adding that he believes action is necessary. “Right now that’s what people want to see.”

In his own diocese, McKnight has already required religious communities ministering there to commit to releasing names of credibly accused abusers by end of 2019. He also developed a protocol in which any accusation against him would be reported to the lay review board in St. Louis, similar to Chicago Cardinal Blase Cupich’s proposal to involve “metropolitan” bishops.

Although McKnight is “not sold on any one particular proposal” for consideration at the national meeting in June, it must include meaningful lay participation, which is the only way to address the root problem of clericalism, he said.

“That needs to be part and parcel of how we structure ourselves and make decisions at every level of the church,” he said, referencing a shared style of leadership based in Scripture. “Maybe that’s all we need is a return to an older way of how we exercise power and authority as bishops.”

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Vatican financial intelligence led to conviction of UK abuser priest

ROME (ITALY)
Crux

February 28, 2019

By John Allen and Claire Giangravé

Although the Vatican has come under fire in the UK for its alleged lack of cooperation in a public sex abuse probe, sources have told Crux it was actually Vatican financial intelligence that led to the arrest and conviction of the abuser priest at the heart of the inquiry.

“This is an important fact,” one source told Crux. “It’s a game-changer, because it shows that the new legislation [adopted by Pope Francis] on reporting duties is working.”

In fact, the story captures an intersection of reform efforts on the two most persistent sources of scandal for the Vatican in recent decades – sexual abuse and money.

The sources spoke to Crux on background.

At present, a public inquiry in the UK is examining the case of the Benedictine monastery of Ealing Abbey in West London, where a former abbot, Andrew Soper, and a former deputy head teacher of its junior school, David Pearce, both have been jailed for abuse of children.

David Enright, a prominent lawyer representing victims of abuse in Catholic schools, has written to British Prime Minister Theresa May, urging her to expel the pope’s ambassador in the country, American Archbishop Edward Adams, for refusing to hand over documents requested by the probe.

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Vatican must be accountable in light of sexual assault claims

PITTSBURGH (PA)
Dusquene Duke

February 28, 2019

By Timothy Rush

On Feb. 22, the Vatican began a four-day meeting of 190 church leaders to address the ongoing issue of sexual abuse within the Church. The meeting was called “The Protection of Minors in the Church,” with an emphasis on listening to abuse victims and tackling the issue head-on — something that many church officials had hoped for, especially following the Pennsylvania grand jury peport last year.

Preparations began for the meeting on Feb. 18. Church officials spoke at a news conference at the Vatican, with prelates (high-ranking members of the clergy) speaking on how the Church must hold bishops accountable for addressing sexual abuse and further emphasizing that homosexuality was not a cause for the sexual abuse amongst church officials.

Cardinal Blase Cupich of Chicago expressed his hope “that people see this as a turning point,” and that it would be a moment to rally for bishops. In another massive shift toward transparency, the meeting had segments streamed despite it being closed-doors.

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Catholic sex abuse survivor breaks silence, calls for action from Charlotte Diocese

CHARLOTTE (NC)
WBTV

February 28, 2019

By Nick Ochsner

An Asheville man who says he was abused by two priests as a young teenager is calling for the Charlotte Diocese to take new steps to publicly address sexual abuse by priests.

Douglas Dickerson was 13 when he said he was first abused by a priest at Saint Elizabeth’s of the Hill Country Catholic Church in Boone, NC.

“I definitely wasn’t prepared to handle it, and my reaction was to attempt suicide actually on the church grounds,” Dickerson said in an interview with WBTV News.

Dickerson has never before spoken publicly about the abuse he said he suffered at the hands of not one but two priests at the same parish in the early 1990’s.

The first priest Dickerson said abused him was Father H. Cornell Bradley, a Jesuit priest who came to North Carolina in the late 1980’s after working primarily in Washington, D.C. and Maryland.

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Expert says follow-up to anti-abuse summit won’t be an ‘easy ride’

ROME (ITALY)
Crux

February 28, 2019

By Inés San Martín

German Jesuit Father Hans Zollner is a man on a mission to guarantee the safety of minors within the Catholic Church. This aim, he knows, is a task that will require responsibility, transparency and accountability, and the path forward “will not be an easy ride.”

A psychologist by training, Zollner is a member of the pope’s Commission for the Protection of Minors, the president of the Centre for Child Protection at Rome’s Gregorian University and in 2010 he was a member of the “Round Table on Child Abuse” commissioned by the German government.

For years he’s been traveling the world, training priests, bishops, religious and laity on the protection of minors. Education has long been his main focus, and hence he’s often not one to comment on specific cases.

For instance, on Theodore McCarrick, removed from the priesthood by Francis after the former cardinal was found guilty of sexually abusing minors, Zollner simply said, “It’s my understanding that [the Vatican] is working on the release of some information, some kind of documentation, of what can be said with regards to this topic.”

Cardinal Sean O’Malley of Boston, who leads the papal commission on minors, went further at a press conference on Friday, when he said he wants to see a report from the Vatican detailing who knew what and when about McCarrick. He also said he believes that report will include information sent to the Holy See by the four dioceses where McCarrick served, meaning New York, Metuchen, Newark and Washington, D.C.

Zollner was also one of the four churchmen tapped by Pope Francis to organize the Feb. 21-24 Vatican “Meeting on the Protection of Minors in the Church,” often described more simply as the pope’s “anti-abuse summit.”

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Former nun who was raped by a priest tells her story

BELGRADE (YUGOSLAVIA)
N1 CNN

February 24, 2019

It is true that paedophilia is a problem all over the world, said Mary Dispenza, who was raped by a priest when she was seven.

“But the Pope has wrongly concluded that paedophilia is present in the Church because it is present everywhere in the world. That is a big mistake, as priests obligate themselves to cleanliness and celibacy and want to live that way,” she explained.

She said that the Church’s problem is also a culture of secrecy, cover-ups and the “genealogy of abuse which is carried over from one generation of priests to the next.”

“Their culture needs to be reexamined, and it should not simply be said that we are part of a larger culture where sexual abuse of children is the prevalent problem so it is also like that among priests,” she stressed.

The Vatican meeting is a huge event, she acknowledged.

“This morning the Pope said that if one more child is abused by a priest, he will immediately react. That is fantastic, and I hope that the bishops and cardinals will begin reporting crimes and seeking responsibility,” she said.

However, what happened to Dispenza belongs to a painful past and has to be addressed as well, she argued.

“At age seven, I was raped by a priest, it was the first parish he served after leaving the seminary. He kept moving from one parish to the next for the next 40 years,” Dispenza said.

It happened in a dark school hall where the priest played a film from a projector.

“He asked me if I wanted to sit in his lap. I agreed as I was taught that he was God. I was focused on the projector, and he put his hand in my panties and his finger into my vagina,” she said.

“The light within me was then extinguished,” she declared.

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‘There was no justice for me’: Former nun reveals horrific sexual abuse by Catholic priests

MELBOURNE (AUSTRALIA)
News.Com.AU

February 28, 2019

Cardinal George Pell’s bail has been revoked after sexual assault guilty verdict

My heart broke on Tuesday.

Not because I feel any sympathy for George Pell. I don’t. I will never shed a tear for him.

My chest felt heavy all day because two more poor souls have joined a club no one ever chooses to be part of, a tragic group of people from all walks of life, children, the disabled, nuns, in all corners of the globe, joined together by a common truth — their lives have been ruined by paedophile priests.

We are a club united by waves of shame, anger, worthlessness and guilt that wash over us when we least expect it, a club of people trying to run as fast as we can from the dark shadow that has haunted our lives.

I was abused by two priests.

My parents were devout Catholics, the Church was at the heart and soul of my family and my parent’s proudest day was when I joined the convent and my twin brother Michael the priesthood.

Two children to the Church! God’s glory shone down on my family.

I joined the Church to escape the abuse I’d endured by a priest in my teens, and also at the hands of my father. The convent offered a safe space, except it didn’t.

After years of struggle and anguish, I confided my darkest secret to a priest who then took advantage of my incredibly vulnerable state. He knew I was emotionally weak and he preyed upon me. I blamed myself, punished myself, I believed I was a bad person and I was going straight to hell, it was all my fault. I left the Church soon after.

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How Can We Help Victims of Clergy Abuse?

NEW YORK (NY)
Psychology Today

February 27, 2019

When John J. Geoghan was sentenced in January, 2002 on multiple charges relating to his long history of serial child abuse, he represented just the latest in a long line of cases involving sexual abuse in the clergy. Evidence at Geoghan’s trial showed that he was repeatedly transferred to different Catholic dioceses following allegations of inappropriate sexual behaviour involving young boys. During the 1960s and 1970s, he continued to be transferred to positions where he would have regular contact with children even after the Church arranged for him to be treated for pedophilia. Even after he formally retired from his active clergy work in 1993, the allegations continued. By the time he was finally sentenced (after first being removed from the priesthood) in 2002, his career of abuse was believed to stretch back decades and involved more than 130 boys.

In the aftermath of Geoghan’s sentencing (and his murder in prison less than a year later), the resulting scandal led to the resignation of Boston’s archbishop and numerous investigations concerning how the Church dealt with Geoghan and many of the other priests who also faced allegations. It also highlighted the treatment of whistleblowers by the Church, many of whom faced serious penalties for attempting to expose what was happening . Still, while most of the investigations into clergy abuse have focused on the Catholic Church, cases of equivalent abuse can be found in virtually every other religion as well.

Despite countless new stories about abuse by clergy not to mention the various movie and television dramatizations of different scandals that have come to light, actual research into the impact of this kind of abuse on victims has been surprisingly scarce up to now. But a new review article published in the journal Traumatology provides a comprehensive look at the psychological impact of clergy abuse on victims and how it differs from other types of sexual abuse.

Written by Danielle M. McGraw and a team of fellow researchers at Alliant International University in Los Angeles, CA, the article examined hundreds of peer-reviewed studies looking at clergy abuse though only a small minority contained actual empirical data on clergy abuse victims. To supplement the available information, McGraw and her co-researchers also included victim data from several recent books on victims of clergy abuse as well as dissertation data.

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When the Church is Toxic

Patheos blog

February 27, 2019

By Mary Pezzulo

I woke up to find out that I had been screenshotted, again.

Specifically, this time, a sometime deacon now on a leave of absence in the Archdiocese of St. Louis, who is famous among my friends for facebook stalking through sock puppets and harassing us, had taken a screenshot of a public comment I’m not ashamed of. I said that neither a tax return nor a legal marriage certificate are a sacrament, and that letting people who are legally married, even if the marriage isn’t a marriage by sacramental standards, file jointly on their taxes didn’t seem to violate any Church teaching. The deacon, who is obsessed with gay people, was mocking me and trying to paint me as a heretic, again. One of his lickspittle lackeys had impersonated a woman and friended me; the lackey published a screenshot of a friends-only conversation where I expressed dismay that John Paul the Second was ever canonized. And I admit to that wholeheartedly. I think it was imprudent to waive the five-year waiting period. I think that it was scandalous how he participated in covering up sexual abuse and I do not admire him. I don’t really care if saying something that obvious gets me into trouble. It’s the truth. I assume I’ll get a smear piece written in a shameful tabloid about me before long. The deacon doesn’t write for respectable publications.

This happens rather often when you write publicly on the internet. It’s not as bad as the time a Catholic from Chicago screenshotted my profile picture to make rape jokes about me, and then threatened to sue because he didn’t intend to rape me but to mock me for being un-rapeable and he didn’t think I’d made that clear enough.

I swore to myself, and lamented once again how toxic and abusive Catholicism can be.

Yes, I just said that. I am a baptized and confirmed practicing Catholic. I believe and profess all the Catholic Church teaches, and I try to follow her teaching as best I can, and I try to repent wherever I fail. And I’m telling you, Catholicism can be extremely toxic and abusive.

It shouldn’t be controversial to say that out loud. People act as though I’m a secret agent bent on destroying the Church, when I call attention to abuse in the Church, as if being Catholic meant pretending that Catholicism is all fun and beauty. But I’m only telling the truth: the Church, not her teaching or how she’ll look in eternity but the Church as an institution of fallen people trying to work together, is toxic.

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Bill would extend statute of limitations for sexual abuse

PROVIDENCE (RI)
WPRI TV

February 27, 2019

By Steve Nielsen and Kim Kalunian

Up to 15 victims of childhood sexual abuse testified Tuesday night on a bill that would quadruple the current civil statute of limitations on abuse.

The bill, introduced by Rep. Carol McEntee, would change the civil statute of limitations from seven years after an alleged victims 18th birthday, to 35 years.

“It took me until age 41 or 42 to even go to the police,” Jim Scanlan said in the days leading up to his testimony.

Scanlan’s story of abuse was covered in the motion picture “Spotlight.”

“At age 25, there aren’t many victims who are willing to come forward or are ready emotionally to talk about it,” Scanlan said.

Scanlan said he plans to testify at Tuesday’s hearing in the House Judiciary Committee.

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Remember to tread carefully around the fire and brimstone

ALBANY (NY)
Times Union

February 27, 2019

By Jo Page

The other day I was talking to a retired pastor who sings in the same chorus I do.

“Remember the weird things you used to get in your office mail?” I asked.

I was thinking back to “The Passion of the Christ” stuff that Mel Gibson and his ilk were hawking when I was still enough of a newbie pastor to be shocked: T-shirts of a thorn-crowned Christ, a cross nail to wear as a necklace — money-making movie merch for Mel’s masses.

Really, you would be surprised what comes over the transom of the pastor’s study. A few weeks ago I got solicitation material — and the pun just may work — for donating to an organization that funds priests accused of sexual abuse. On the remittance slip you are assured that your donation goes to accused priests who are “discouraged, suffering or in crisis.”

The suggested donation was $100.

Hmmm.

“I do,” she said, rolling her eyes. “What now?”

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Group protests Catholic bishop for omittance, calling officials to add additional names

LITTLE ROCK (AR)
THV11 Digital

February 27, 2019

A group of sexual abuse victims rights advocates protested the Little Rock bishop.

They said he “overlooked” three accused clerics on his released list of credible sexual abusers within the clergy in Arkansas. The organization called “SNAP” said three clergy members, with credible sexual abuse allegations against them in other states, also served in Arkansas.

Now they’re calling on Catholic officials to do more outreach and add the additional names to the list.

“They had the potential to harm somebody,” William Lindsey said, who holds a doctoral degree in Catholic theology and volunteers with the “survivor’s network” of abuse by priests. “We want to know why did Bishop Taylor not include those three names on the list and could he explain that and would he agree to add those three names to his list of abusive priests.”

Lindsey said past history proves clergy members who abuse minors in one place will do the same thing somewhere else. So, he said, they should always be monitored.

Arkansas Bishop Anthony Taylor’s “accused” list first came out in September, then updated again this year, after more investigation.

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Clergy abuse sheds light on statute of limitations debate

DES MOINES (IA)
KCCI TV

February 27, 2019

By Laura Terrell

The Senate minority leader has introduced new measures that would give child sex abuse survivors more time to come forward, saying Iowa should not be a “sanctuary state” for predators.

State Sen. Janet Petersen, a Democrat from Des Moines, introduced two bills tackling the issue — one that would end the statute of limitations for filing criminal charges and another that would end it for trying to collect damages in a civil lawsuit.

“If you were abused as a child, you only have until your 19th birthday to go after the organization that covered the crime,” Petersen said. “Our laws are terrible. We should not be a sanctuary state for predators, and organizations cover up this crime.”

The Diocese of Sioux City on Monday identified 28 priests who were credibly accused of having sexually abused more than 100 boys and girls.

Only one former priest, John Patrick Perdue, is still alive and living in Iowa. The Iowa Court of Appeals in 2011 dismissed lawsuits filed against Perdue and another priest by two alleged victims, ruling that the statute of limitations had expired.

“There was a grooming process,” said West Des Moines attorney Patrick Hopkins, who represented a victim at the time.

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Meth Pipe, Sex Toys Found in Room of Priest Accused of Raping Seminarian

SAN DIEGO (CA)
Channel 7 News

February 27, 2019

By Vicky Nguyen, Michael Bott, and Mark Villarrea

A glass meth pipe and thong underwear found in a locked closet, a blindfold found inside a nightstand drawer, and sex toys found behind a mirror on the floor. Those are just a few of the items Livermore police detectives removed from the living quarters of Father Van Dinh inside the rectory of St. Michael Catholic Church as they investigated the priest for rape in 2017, according to a police report viewed recently by NBC Bay Area’s Investigative Unit.

Days before detectives served that search warrant at the church, Dinh’s accuser said the priest blindfolded and raped him inside the priest’s bedroom. The former seminarian’s accusations, equal parts horrific and bizarre, were detailed in the police report.

On Monday, Dinh’s accuser filed a lawsuit against the Diocese of Oakland and Bishop Michael C. Barber.

The plaintiff, a 26-year-old immigrant from Mexico, listed as “John Doe” in the lawsuit, said he’s wanted to be a priest since he was a child praying the rosary every day with his family. He spoke to NBC Bay Area and asked to have his identity concealed for fear of retaliation.

“I did not want to be in this legal matter,” Doe said. “I wanted justice done. I wanted them to acknowledge that there was a crime.”

Dinh’s case briefly made headlines in November 2017, when the Diocese announced it was placing Dinh on administrative leave after an allegation of clergy misconduct. However, the Diocese never disclosed the specific allegations against Dinh. The Livermore Police Department and the Alameda County District Attorney’s Office also declined to provide those details to NBC Bay Area, only saying that no criminal charges were ever brought against Dinh.

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9&10 News Investigates: Betrayal of Trust

GAYLORD (MI)
9 & 10 TV News

February 27, 2019

By David Lyden and Derrick Larr

A 9&10 News investigation is uncovering new information about a former priest removed from the ministry 17 years ago over a credible claim of sexual misconduct involving a minor.

Father Jim Holtz was permanently removed from ministry back in 2002.

Holtz is one of 10 priests the Diocese of Gaylord says have been credibly accused of sexual misconduct in its nearly 50 year history.

9&10 News was the first to report back in November that the Diocese of Gaylord had released a list of priests credibly accused of misconduct with a minor.

To fully understand this story we have to go back to November, when 9&10 News first started reporting on priests credibly accused of misconduct with minors in the Diocese of Gaylord.

That is when the phone calls and emails started. That name and face strikingly familiar to people around Petoskey including Joni Hosler.

“I was given information about him and I was told ahead of time it was going to rock my world, and it did,” said Hosler.

Joni says her three sons were all altar servers at St. Francis Xavier in Petoskey. She says the man who was in the sacristy with them as they prepared for mass was Jim Holtz.

Joni says her sons told her nothing inappropriate ever happened between them and Holtz, but she says she had no idea about Holtz’s past until recently.

“I’m not saying I’m here to judge anybody, nobody is here to judge anybody, and there are a ton of positions in the parish, somebody with a known background shouldn’t be allowed around children, and I think about the other servers and they’re great families and all I can think of is why, why was it allowed and why are we all hurting now because it was allowed,” said Hosler.

As we worked to answer that question 9&10 News obtained a copy of a letter sent to Gaylord Bishop Steven Raica in January of 2016. It outlines a moment where Holtz appeared got too close for comfort:

‘I witnessed fry Jim Holtz, sacristan, standing behind a freshman male altar server with his arms around the young man and began to attach and tie the cincture for the young man at the young man’s naval from behind’

The letter goes on to say the action by Holtz was seen as possibly suspicious and the writer of the letter is reporting it to the Diocese per diocesan policy. The writer goes on to say:

‘I confronted Fr. Jim by myself in the sacristy after mass regarding the inappropriate nature of this action and he agreed and appeared compliant.’

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Welcome to my world: Notes on the reception of Frédéric Martel’s bombshell

Patheos blog

February 27, 2019

By Father James Alison

So, the other shoe has finally dropped. The veil has been removed from what the French rather gloriously call a secret de Polichinelle ― an open secret: one that “everybody knows” but for which the evidence is both elusive and never really sought. The merely anecdotal is, at last, acquiring the contours of sociological visibility.

The structure of the clerical closet

Frédéric Martel’s book In the Closet of the Vatican: Power, Homosexuality and Hypocrisy is the first attempt of which I am aware at a properly researched answer to the question: “How and why is it that the principal institutional obstacle to LGBT rights at the worldwide level appears itself to be massively staffed by gay men?”

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Why the complainant in George Pell’s trial was so compelling

ADELAIDE (AUSTRALIA)
News.Com.AU

February 28, 2019

By Charis Chang

It’s shocking, it’s incomprehensible and to some, it’s unbelievable.

Cardinal George Pell, a man who rose to become, not just Australia’s most senior Catholic, but one of the most powerful men in the Vatican, had been found to be a paedophile.

When the news broke yesterday that Pell was found guilty in December of child sex offences, many expressed disbelief but others just couldn’t accept the verdict.

In an opinion piece, Herald Sun columnist Andrew Bolt said he believed Pell had been “falsely convicted”. The Daily Telegraphcolumnist Miranda Devine also said: “I don’t believe that Pell, who I know slightly and admire greatly, could be guilty of assaulting two choirboys in a busy cathedral.”

Yesterday, the 77-year-old disgraced cardinal was taken into custody and spent his first night behind bars before being sentenced on March 13. However, his legal team is pushing for a retrial and intend to appeal his child sex convictions with the Court of Appeal.

Speaking on his Sky News show on Tuesday night, Bolt said he had “serious misgivings” about Pell’s guilty verdict.

“I just can’t accept it, based on what I consider is the overwhelming evidence of this trial,” he said. “And I base that opinion also on how many times Pell has been accused of crimes and sins he clearly did not do.

“Pell could well be an innocent man who is being made to pay for the sins of his church and made to pay after an astonishing campaign of media vilification.”

ABC investigative journalist Louise Milligan is one of the few people in Australia who knows the identity of Pell’s complainant. She tracked him down while researching her book Cardinal: The Rise and Fall of George Pell, for which she won a Walkley Book Award.

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Irish priest ‘frozen out’ when he reported another priest showing child porn to young boy

DUBLIN (IRELAND)
Irish Independent

February 27 2019

By Sarah Mac Donald

An Irish priest is trying to sue a diocese in the US claiming he was slandered because he refused to cover up for another priest’s sexually inappropriate behaviour with a young boy.

Fr John Gallagher from Co Tyrone alleges that Bishop Gerald Barbarito and the Diocese of Palm Beach ruined his reputation and career as a priest because he reported the sexual misconduct of Indian priest, Joseph Palimattom, who had come to serve in his parish, the Holy Name of Jesus, in December 2014.

The Indian cleric showed child abuse images to a 14-year-old parishioner, who complained about the cleric’s actions in January 2015. Police believe Palimattom was grooming the teenager.

The priest was later convicted of showing obscene material to a minor and served a six-month sentence. He was then deported from the USA back to India.

Church officials in India did not tell Fr Gallagher that Palimattom had been previously accused of sexually abusing children in his home country.

Fr Gallagher (51) claims he was “frozen out” and punished for being a whistle-blower by the diocese and for passing information on the paedophile priest to the police in Florida.

He alleges he was placed on medical leave by the diocese and that the locks on his parochial home were changed and his belongings moved while he was in the hospital.

He also claims that when he contacted the diocese to report the abuse incident the morning after it had been reported to him, the diocesan official told him, “We’ve dealt with this before, we normally put them on a plane and send them back.”

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Targeting priests is a new low in lawyer advertising (commentary)

NEW YORK (NY)
Staten Island Advance

February 27, 2019

By Daniel Leddy

On June 27, 1977, a sharply divided U.S. Supreme Court sent shockwaves through the legal profession by holding that the First Amendment’s free speech clause protects the right of lawyers to advertise their services. The ruling in Bates v. State Bar of Arizona overturned the discipline meted out to two young lawyers for placing a straightforward, dignified advertisement in the Arizona Republic informing readers of the basic legal services performed at their “clinic” and the fee for each.

Writing for the 5-4 majority, Justice Harry Blackmun asserted that lawyer advertising would further reliable decision-making, and discounted fears that some lawyers would use advertising gimmicks to deceive the public. In contrast, Justice Lewis Powell’s strongly worded dissent predicted that the decision would weaken the ability of the states to regulate attorney conduct, and “effect profound changes in the practice of law, viewed for centuries as a learned profession.”

Powell’s concerns were prophetic. For in the aftermath of the Bates decision, the legal profession has been denigrated by absurdities such as lawyers declaring themselves to be “tough and mean;” pronouncing themselves to be “pit bulls,” proclaiming their willingness to do “whatever it takes to win;” claiming to represent space aliens; emerging from the ocean bearing spear guns because so many other lawyers are “sharks,” and even sending bouquets of flowers to funeral homes where victims of legally actionable tragedies were being waked.

Last Tuesday, attorney Jeff Anderson moved offensive attorney advertising from the disgraceful to the despicable with a press release announcing “the names of more than 100 perpetrators accused of sexual misconduct in the Archdiocese of New York.”

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Baton Rouge list of clergy accused of abuse grows to 40 with two new additions

NEW ORLEANS (LA)
The Advocate

February 27, 2019

By Andrea Gallo

The Diocese of Baton Rouge added two more Catholic clerics Wednesday to its list of those who have been credibly accused of sexual abuse with a minor, increasing the diocese’s tally of abusive clergymen to 40.

When Baton Rouge Bishop Michael Duca released the diocese’s initial list a month ago, Duca said the list would evolve over time, and likely grow. The diocese has already updated its list once, earlier this month. The newest additions come on the heels of a worldwide summit Pope Francis convened about clerical sexual abuse, in which the pontiff called for an “all-out battle” against it.

The two names added to the Diocese of Baton Rouge’s list Wednesday are the Rev. Barry Finbar Coyle and the Rev. John Hardman. Though both spent time ministering in Baton Rouge, the accusations against them were lodged in other dioceses. Diocese of Baton Rouge spokesman Dan Borne said Wednesday that the diocese had received no allegations about either priest.

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Gay Man Participates in Vatican Clergy Sex Abuse Summit

WASHINGTON (DC)
Washington Blade

February 27, 2019

By Michael Lavers

A gay man from Chile who was sexually abused by a notorious pedophile priest participated in a summit on clergy sex abuse that took place at the Vatican last week.

Juan Carlos Cruz told the Washington Blade on Monday during a telephone interview from Philadelphia that he and a dozen other survivors of clergy sex abuse met with bishops before the 4-day summit began at the Vatican on Feb. 21.

“It was positive because it was a very constructive dialogue, but at the same time (it was) painful and difficult and good,” he said. “It was all kind of things.”

Cruz told the Blade he was also asked to record a video for Pope Francis and the bishops from around the world who traveled to Rome. The video was shown at the beginning of the summit.

“You are the doctors of souls and yet, … you have become, in some cases, the killers of souls, the killers of faith,” said Cruz in the video, according to La Nación, an Argentine newspaper that covered the summit.

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Nunavut plans to open centre for victims of child abuse

IQALUIT, NUNAVUT
Nunatsiaq News

February 27, 2019

By Courtney Edgar

Iqaluit’s Umingmak Centre led by Arctic Children and Youth Foundation

A new child advocacy centre aimed at helping Nunavut’s victims of child abuse will open in Iqaluit in April, says Justice Minister Jeannie Ehaloak.

It will be led by the Arctic Children and Youth Foundation, which has worked with the departments of Justice, Health, Education, and Family Services, as well as the RCMP and Nunavut Tunngavik Inc.

The Arctic Children and Youth Foundation, founded by Inuit leader Mary Simon, is a charitable organization created to help children and youth at all levels.

“The centre will be designed to address the needs of child victims and children who have witnessed a crime, and will meet the cultural needs of Nunavummiut,” the foundation says on its website.

“As a one-stop-shop, the centre will co-ordinate the efforts of the various service providers to ensure that all legal and forensic evidence is gathered.”

They’ve been working on the project since at least 2014, when they began advocating for centres to help Arctic youth.

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Supreme Court Justice found in violation of disclosure law

PROVIDENCE (RI)
WPRI

February 26, 2019

By Walt Buteau

The Rhode Island Ethics Commission ruled Supreme Court Justice Francis X. Flaherty violated state financial disclosure law by not reporting his involvement in a religious society comprised of attorneys and judges.

The ethics complaint was filed in 2016 by Rhode Island native Helen Hyde, who one of two plaintiffs in a 2016 Supreme Court ruling involving Flaherty, who wrote the decision for the civil case.

The Supreme Court upheld a lower court decision against Hyde’s demand for financial damages from the Bishop of Providence in a sexual abuse case.
Hyde alleged she was molested in the late 60’s in East Greenwich by the late Father Brendan Smyth,
who died in prison after he was convicted of molesting 141 children over four decades.

By the time Hyde came forward, the statute of limitations on her case had expired.

In her complaint, Hyde said Flaherty should have disclosed his involvement with the Saint Thomas More Society since her case involved the Catholic Church.

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For children of priests, the good of the child comes first

ROME (ITALY)
Vatican News

February 27, 2019

By Andrea Tornielli

The topic of “children of priests” has long been considered taboo, with the result that often, especially in the past, these children grew up without a known and acknowledged father. This topic, then, is distinct from the questions addressed in last week’s Meeting in the Vatican, which focused on the abuse committed against minors.

Recently, Irish psychotherapist Vincent Doyle, a son of a priest, was present in Rome. He is the founder of “Coping International”, an association for the defence of the rights of children fathered by Catholic priests throughout the world. Doyle wants to waive his anonymity and offer psychological help to “the many people born from a relationship between a woman and a priest” in various parts of the world. In recent interviews with diverse media, Doyle has spoken of a document of the Congregation for the Clergy, regarding the attitude to be taken in these cases. The existence of these internal documents — sometimes described, inaccurately, as “secret” — has been known since 2017, and the general criteria regarding protecting the children of priests was recently confirmed by Alessandro Gisotti, the Director ad interim of the Holy See Press Office. Vatican News spoke with Cardinal Beniamino Stella, the Prefect of the Congregation for the Clergy, which has the responsibility of dealing with cases of this sort.

Andrea Tornielli: What are the criteria that guide the decisions to be made in the case of priests with children?

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R.I. Supreme Court justice violated state ethics code, board finds

PROVIDENCE (RI)
The Providence Journal

February 26, 2019

By Patrick Anderson

Rhode Island Supreme Court Justice Francis X. Flaherty said it never crossed his mind to mention he was president of the St. Thomas More Society of Rhode Island on his annual state financial disclosure form, even while he was on the bench for an appeal of a priest sexual abuse case.

PROVIDENCE — Rhode Island Supreme Court Justice Francis X. Flaherty said it never crossed his mind to mention he was president of the St. Thomas More Society of Rhode Island on his annual state financial disclosure form, even while he was on the bench for the appeal of a priest’s sexual-abuse case.

After all, the organization promoting Catholic legal principles has no paid employees, meets only a handful of times a year — primarily to sponsor the annual Red Mass for the state’s legal community — and has never paid him or other officers a cent.

But the state Ethics Commission on Tuesday concluded the size and informality of the Society were no excuses to leave it off the list of entities government officials are required to disclose their leadership roles in to avoid potential conflicts of interest.

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Two Embattled Buddhist Leaders Pressured to Stop Teaching

NEW YORK (NY)
Tricycle Magazine

February 22, 2019

By Matthew Abrahams

Following separate sexual misconduct investigations, Shambhala head Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche has stepped back from teaching and Noah Levine’s authority has been revoked.

Two prominent Buddhist teachers accused of sexual misconduct are facing new actions from their communities, which have urged them to stop teaching after internal investigations found the allegations against them credible. Shambhala International head Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche announced that he would be stepping down from teaching for the “foreseeable future” in an email sent out to students on February 21. A day earlier, the Spirit Rock Meditation Center released a statement withdrawing authorization to teach from Noah Levine, who founded the now-shuttered Against the Stream Meditation Society (ATS).

While the Sakyong and Levine have both been accused of abusing their power, the details of the allegations and how they were handled differ in many ways. Most notably, Levine was removed from ATS, which closed its centers soon after, while the Sakyong has remained the lineage holder of Shambhala.

The Sakyong had previously announced that he was stepping aside while a law firm hired by Shambhala, Wickwire Holm, investigated the claims against him. The investigation, released this month, found that the Sakyong “more than likely” engaged in sexual misconduct in at least two cases. Earlier this week, a group of the Sakyong’s former kusung, or personal attendants, released a statement further detailing decades of inappropriate and harmful conduct.

In his email on Thursday, the Sakyong said he will continue to step back from his duties now that the investigation has concluded. He writes that he made this decision after receiving a letter the day before from Shambhala’s 42 acharyas [senior teachers] asking him to do so.

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Vatican: Cardinal Pell says he’s innocent, but news hurts

VATICAN CITY
Associated Press

February 26, 2019

By Frances D’Emilio

The Vatican on Tuesday insisted on Australian Cardinal George Pell’s right to further defend himself after being convicted of molesting two choirboys in his homeland, but said Pope Francis was keeping in place local church restrictions forbidding one of his most trusted advisers from having contact with children while appeals run their course.

Acting Vatican spokesman Alessandro Gisotti read a brief statement that called the news of the 77-year-old’s prelate’s conviction “painful.” He later tweeted confirmation that Pell “is no longer” the Holy See’s economy chief. Pell’s 5-year mandate was due to expire this month, and Francis had not been expected to renew it.

Gisotti took no questions from reporters about the Australian court’s verdict, which was delivered unanimously in December and appealed by Pell last week.

Due to a court order, news of the verdict couldn’t be published until Tuesday.

Pell risks a maximum prison term of 50 years for the conviction of the charges that he sexually abused the boys in a cathedral in the 1990s when he was archbishop of Melbourne. Sentencing hearings were set to begin in Melbourne on Wednesday.

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Can The Church Survive Pell’s ‘Catastrophic’ Sex Abuse Conviction?

AUSTRALIA
10 daily

February 26, 2019

By Josh Butler

It is a “happy” day for abuse survivors, and the conviction of George Pell on child sex charges is hoped to lead to wholesale change at the highest levels of the Catholic Church.

In December 2018, a Melbourne jury found Pell guilty of five charges — one of sexually penetrating a child under the age of 16 and four of committing an indecent act.

“There’s relief for sure, but I do believe people are happy,” Steven Spaner, coordinator for advocacy group SNAP — Survivors Networks of those Abused by Priests — told 10 daily.

Other survivors have spoken of being “stunned” at the news, while a former priest said the verdict would be “catastrophic” and like a “tsunami” for the church.

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George Pell’s lawyer says child abuse was ‘plain vanilla’ sex as cardinal heads to jail

MELBOURNE (AUSTRALIA)
The Guardian

February 26, 2019

By Melissa Davey

Cardinal Pell is remanded in custody following his conviction for child sexual assault, which judge calls ‘callous, brazen offending’

Cardinal George Pell, the most senior Catholic cleric ever convicted of child sexual abuse, has been taken in custody following a sentencing hearing in which his lawyer described one of Pell’s offences as a “plain vanilla sexual penetration case where the child is not actively participating”.

After the hearing, with Pell’s lawyer, Robert Richter, having withdrawn his application for bail, the chief judge said: “Take him away, please.” Pell was taken to a maximum security facility where he will be kept in protective custody and remain alone for up to 23 hours a day.

He will be sentenced on 13 March after his conviction for sexually assaulting two 13-year-old boys.

The Vatican on Wednesday also said its doctrinal department will open its own investigation into Pell. “After the guilty verdict in the first instance concerning Cardinal Pell, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) will now handle the case following the procedure and within the time established by canonical norm,” Vatican spokesman Alessandro Gisotti told reporters. A former US cardinal, Theodore McCarrick, was this month dismissed from the priesthood following a CDF investigation.

The former Australian prime minister John Howard was among those who provided character references for Pell as the cardinal’s legal team tried to argue for a lower-end sentence in Melbourne’s county court on Wednesday morning.

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Pennsylvania prosecutor fights clergy sex abuse as she maintains Catholic faith

EBENSBURG (PA)
Religion News Service

February 27, 2019

By Bobby Ross Jr.

When allegations of past sexual abuse were first made against a priest at St. Clement Catholic Church in Johnstown, Pa., Cambria County District Attorney Kelly Callihan recognized the name immediately. The Rev. George Koharchik had been her family’s pastor for the decade he served at St. Clement’s, from 1974 to 1984.

When each of her four eldest siblings got married, “he had such a connection with us that he came back to do the weddings,” Callihan, the sixth of nine children, recalled in a recent interview at her second-floor courthouse office.

But Callihan, 50, knew the victims, too: They were friends and former classmates in this western Pennsylvania county — a farming and coal-mining area hit hard by the steel industry’s decline and the opioid epidemic.

“I didn’t falter for a second in believing and understanding” the stories of abuse, Callihan told Religion News Service. “You could just hear the pain that they were going through.”

Callihan ended up referring Koharchik’s case, as well as separate sex abuse claims involving a Franciscan friar, to Pennsylvania’s attorney general. “I knew that I didn’t have the resources in a small prosecutor’s office to take on an investigation of this magnitude,” Callihan said. Also, she said, “I was too close to home with knowing a lot of these victims.”

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Vatican to open its own investigation into Cardinal George Pell

AUSTRALIA
9News

February 27, 2019

The Vatican says that its doctrinal department will open its own investigation into accusations against Cardinal George Pell.

Pell, a former top Vatican official, is tonight spending his first night behind bars after he was remanded in custody pending sentencing for sexually abusing two choir boys in Melbourne two decades ago.

He has proclaimed his innocence and will appeal the verdict.

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Priests Credibly Accused of Sexual Abuse of a Minor

ARLINGTON (VA)
Catholic Diocese of Arlington

February 13, 2019

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Today I am fulfilling a commitment I made to publish a list of all clergy credibly accused of child sexual abuse in the Diocese of Arlington. I made this commitment in the hope that providing such a list might help some victims and survivors of clergy sexual abuse to find further healing and consolation.

The publishing of this list will bring a range of emotions for all of us. Embarrassment, frustration, anger and hurt are all natural emotions to experience in a time such as this. I share those emotions.

Today I also renew my commitment to continue to implement our policies and protocols, established in accord with the United States Catholic Conference of Bishops’ 2002 Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People. These have proven to be effective in preventing abuse, standardizing reporting procedures to legal authorities and investigating allegations of sexual abuse of minors. Please know that I remain actively engaged in addressing these issues and pursuing ways to improve our existing efforts.

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Psychiatrist tells judge Denham, 77, “never to have access to children”

MELBOURNE (AUSTRALIA)
The Herald Sun

February 27, 2019

By Joanne McCarthy

The Catholic pedophile priest whose crimes were the catalyst for a royal commission will remain a danger to male children until the day he dies, a court was told as he faces an even lengthier jail sentence for crimes against a young boy.

John Sidney Denham, 77, should never have access to children and should never have a relationship of any kind with a male child when he leaves jail, even though he could be in his early 90s, a psychiatrist said in a report tendered at a Sydney District Court sentencing hearing on Wednesday.

Although Denham’s overall risk of re-offending is likely to be low, if he is still alive when his current minimum jail term expires in 2028, his placement in the community will need close monitoring despite being an extremely advanced age, Judge Phillip Mahony was told.

The Crown has argued for an even longer jail sentence for Denham after he was found guilty in October of repeatedly sexually abusing a young boy under 10 at Taree in the late 1970s, including raping him in a church presbytery after calling the boy from a Catholic primary school playground.

Denham is already serving a minimum 19 years and five months’ jail sentence for crimes against 56 boys after guilty findings in 2010 and 2015 trials, and was found guilty in 2001 of offences against another young Catholic boy in 2001 but did not serve a jail sentence. The victims were aged from 5 to 17 and the offences occurred between 1968 and 1986.

Denham sat with arms crossed in a NSW jail during the short sentencing hearing on Wednesday and said nothing after initially complaining he could not hear proceedings via the court audio-visual link.

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The Catholic church must pay a high price for its cover-up culture

LONDON (ENGLAND)
The Independent

February 27, 2019

By Geoffrey Robertson

News of the conviction and imprisonment of cardinal George Pell, number three in the Vatican, for the rape of small boys in a sacristy came as a fitting end to a papal summit on child abuse which achieved nothing.

It had begun with other cardinals attributing the problem to homosexuals in the priesthood. Of course, the reality is that priests abuse small boys, not because they are gay, but because they have the opportunity. Most are not even paedophiles, but rather sexually maladjusted, immature and lonely individuals, unable to resist the temptation to exploit their power over children who are taught to revere them as the agents of God.

A church which has tolerated the sexual abuse of tens of thousands of children – a crime against humanity in any definition, needs to face unpalatable truths and to make drastic reforms.

Cover-ups are no longer an option. The magnitude of the crimes is well established and the evidence of how the Vatican and its bishops hushed them up in order to protect the reputation and finances of the Catholic church is fully proved. By insisting upon its right to deal with allegations under medieval canon law weighted in favour of the defendant and providing no effective punishment, the church itself became complicit.

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Pope says Vatican abuse summit damaged the Church’s credibility

Patheos blog

February 27, 2019

By Barry Duke

NO, not that Pope, but a Catholic priest in Washington DC called Msgr Charles Pope who is disappointed that recently-concluded ‘Protection of Minors in the Church’ summit signally failed to trash gay priests.

Writing for the National Catholic Register, Pope said that he’d hoped that three things would be discussed to restore the credibility of the Church:

1. The summit must focus on more than the sexual abuse of minors by clergy – it must also address the sexual abuse of vulnerable or subordinate adults.

2. The summit must speak to the link between homosexuality and sexual abuse by clergy.

3. The summit must establish a way forward to establishing greater accountability for bishops.

Of the three, he said only the last was addressed.

What seems to upset him most was the failure to address issue No 2:

Regarding the second point, the silence – even outright refusal to discuss – the clear connection between the sexual abuse crisis and active homosexuality in the priesthood is a severe blow to credibility.

That Cardinal Blase Cupich, a key organizer of the summit, denies a causal relationship between homosexual clergy and the fact that more than 80 percent of the victims have been post-pubescent males is not credible to most Catholics. There is simply no logical basis for such a claim, except perhaps among LBGTQ ideologues.

While this should not be used to rationalize the demonization of all people suffering from same-sex attraction, neither should we miss the opportunity to assess the data honestly and develop sane policies in response. In less politically-charged moments, Pope Francis has said as much.

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Survivors Network: Naming Priests Accused Of Sexual Abuse Is A Big Step, But More Needs To Be Done

DES MOINES (IA)
Iowa Public Radio

February 27, 2019

By Katie Peikes

A support group for people who have been abused by clergy says the Diocese of Sioux City’s decision to publish a list of priests accused of sexual abuse is a big step towards transparency, but they still have some concerns.

Up until Monday, the Roman Catholic Diocese of Sioux City had never published a list of priests “credibly accused” of sexually abusing minors. The list names 28 that face more than 100 credible allegations. Of the 28 priests on the list, 22 are deceased and only one of the remaining six still lives in Iowa, but has left the priesthood.

Zach Hiner, the executive director for the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, says the list is a step towards healing.

“This is one sign that church officials in Sioux City understand the importance of these lists, both for the prevention of future abuse and for the healing of survivors,” Hiner said.

Hiner says there’s still a lot that’s missing, though.

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These public figures are defending convicted child sex abuser George Pell

MELBOURNE (AUSTRALIA)
The New Daily

February 27, 2019

Cardinal George Pell has lodged an appeal after being found guilty on five charges of sexually abusing two boys in the 1990s.

But there are many defending him. Some question the verdict, others say it is inconsistent with his character.

Many of his defenders didn’t attend the trial, and weren’t exposed to the days’ worth of evidence presented to the court.

News Corp columnist Andrew Bolt believes Pell is innocent: “He is a scapegoat, not a child abuser.”

In his column for the Herald Sun, Bolt went on to say he’d met Pell about five times and liked him.

“The man I know seems not just incapable of such abuse, but so intelligent and cautious that he would never risk his brilliant career and good name on such a mad assault in such a public place.”

Bolt’s News Corp colleague Miranda Devine made a similar claim, that Pell was the victim of a “lynch mob” and “sacrificial lamb” for the Church’s abuses.

“They hate him because he is a conservative Catholic, the implacable enemy who stood in the way of ‘progress’ in the Church. While fellow Catholics crumbled and appeased, he unequivocally defended Church teachings and refused to compromise over gay marriage, euthanasia, abortion, or wedge issues such as communion for divorcees. And now they think they’ve won,” she wrote.

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Church cannot implement reforms alone

PARIS (FRANCE)
LaCroix International

February 27, 2019

The president of the Independent Commission of Inquiry into Sex Abuse in the Catholic Church in France, Jean-Marc Sauvé, has said that the Church should accept aid in the battle against abuse, adding that the Church has taken a new step on “the path of a radical break” with abuse with the Rome summit on sex abuse from Feb. 21-24.

In this interview, Sauvé discusses the implications of last week’s Rome summit on sex abuse with La Croix’s Marie Malzac.La Croix: What did you learn from the Rome summit that has just concluded?

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Pope Francis just declared ‘all-out battle’ on clergy sex abuse. We have no reason to take him seriously

WASHINGTON (DC)
Washington Examiner

February 26, 2019

By Becket Adams

Pope Francis concluded the Vatican’s summit on clerical sexual abuse this weekend by promising an “all-out battle” against this disease plaguing the Roman Catholic Church.

A bold statement, but in the words of St. Thomas the Apostle: I’ll believe it when I see it.

“We are dealing with abominable crimes that must be erased from the face of the earth,” Francis said, adding that “even a single case of abuse” must be answered, “with the utmost seriousness.”

He also said the church would “spare no effort to do all that is necessary to bring to justice.”

Nice words, but we have no reason to take them seriously, especially when they come from Francis.

First, as just a brief aside, what does he mean by “all-out battle”? Has the church not been doing this already?

Secondly, we’ve heard these promises before. In the early 2000s, after the Boston Globe uncovered rampant sexual abuse in the Boston Archdiocese, the Catholic Church promised a vigorous and thorough housecleaning. It was not so vigorous and thorough as we were led to believe, as evidenced by recent reports from Chile, Australia, and Pennsylvania. Further, let’s not forget that it was the disgraced, now-laicized former archbishop of Washington, D.C., Theodore McCarrick, who led the church’s response to the Boston Globe’s reporting. He served in this capacity despite it being known for years within the church that he was a sexual predator.

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Opinion: It is time for change in the Catholic church and that starts with equality for women

IRELAND
The Journal

February 22, 2019

By Colm Holmes

‘Guided by the Holy Spirit we must come together and find new inclusive governance structures to replace the old patriarchal model, which has broken down’, writes Colm Holmes.

SENIOR CATHOLIC BISHOPS from all over the world gather in Rome this week for a four-day summit on clerical sexual abuse, which some say is the most serious crisis in the church since the Reformation.

Child sexual abuse will rightly top of the agenda, but it’s also just this month that Pope Francis admitted that Catholic priests and bishops have sexually abused nuns and that that abuse is likely to still be happening.

“I think it is still going on because it’s not something that just goes away like that,” said Pope Francis. He correctly identified that it is a cultural problem, the roots of which lie in “seeing women as second class”.

That was a very honest admission by the pope – that women are seen as second class within the Catholic Church. They were viewed that way by society at large for many centuries – women were there to raise children but men were in charge.

That has changed dramatically in the last 100 years, at least in western countries, with women getting the vote and almost all career paths being open to them.

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Abuse in the Church: ‘If people are not aware of an issue, they do not perceive it’

ROME
La Crox International

February 26, 2019

By Céline Hoyeau

The president of the International Union of Superiors General discusses last week’s Rome Meeting on the Protection of Minors in the Church

In this interview with La Croix, White Sister Carmen Sammut, who is president of the International Union of Superiors General (UISG), discusses last week’s Rome Meeting on the Protection of Minors in the Church in which she took part.

La Croix: What was your experience of the meeting on the protection of minors? Were you changed personally over the course of the event?

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Truth and justice after the Cardinal Pell verdict

AUSTRALIA
La Croix International

February 26, 2019

By Frank Brennan, SJ

What is absolutely essential is that the law be allowed to do its work

The suppression order in relation to Cardinal George Pell has been lifted. In December, a jury of 12 of his fellow citizens found him guilty of five offences of child sexual abuse.

No other charges are to proceed. Cardinal Pell has appealed the convictions. The verdict was unanimous. The jury took three days to deliberate after a four-week trial. The trial was in fact a re-run. At the first trial, the jury could not agree. The trial related to two alleged victims, one of whom had died.

Members of the public could attend those proceedings if they knew where to go in the Melbourne County Court. Members of the public could hear all the evidence except a recording of the complainant’s evidence from the first trial.

The complainant, who cannot be identified, did not give evidence at the retrial; the recording from the first trial was admitted as the complainant’s evidence.

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The place of sexual abuse victims in the Vatican

VATICAN CITY
La Croix International

February 25, 2019

By Céline Hoyeau and Gauthier Vaillant

For the victims, any priest or bishop who has committed or covered up sexual abuse should be dismissed from the clerical state

Assembled beneath the banner of the international organization, Ending Clerical Abuse, victims of sexual abuse from all over the world were present in Rome for the Meeting on the Protection of Minors in the Church.

The wind blowing across St. Peter’s Square is ice-cold on this sunlit Sunday Feb. 24. But if Jean-Marie Fürbinger admits to being cold, it is because of the pope’s concluding speech, not the wind.

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Cardinal Pell Avoids Immediate Discipline from the Vatican

ST. LOUIS (MO)
Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests

February 27, 2019

So much for the “all-out battle.”

Just days after making bold statements in Rome, Pope Francis is continuing the trend he set during his global summit by choosing not to discipline prelates who have committed crimes against children. Despite being convicted of sexually abusing two young boys, Cardinal George Pell won’t face immediate discipline from the Vatican, according to church spokespersons.

We continue to be astounded by the Vatican’s reticence to discipline men who have committed, abetted, covered up or minimized cases of abuse. Yet Cardinal Pell’s case in particular is even more shocking.

Cardinal Pell has been convicted in a court of law in the country that he calls home. If such a conviction is not enough to compel immediate action from Pope Francis, then what will be? When can survivors, parents, and parishioners expect Pope Francis’ next salvo in his “battle” against abuse?

The answer from church officials seems to be “not anytime soon.” We hope that when Cardinal Pell is sentenced for his crimes, Australian survivors will find solace and healing.

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Judge Pope Francis on actions, not intentions

INDIA
LA Croix International

February 26, 2019

By Father Myron Pereira SJ, Mumbai

Vatican summit on sex abuse outlined the scale of the problem, but words are not enough

“Go, Francis — repair my Church!” These words of the crucifix in the church of San Damiano to Francis of Assisi are addressed urgently today to Pope Francis.

No assembly in Rome has had greater significance in recent times than the four-day meeting of the heads of bishops’ conferences that concluded on Feb. 24. The agenda was particularly painful: how to heal the decades of sexual abuse of minors and vulnerable adults perpetrated by the Church’s own clergy and hierarchy.

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Sanchez: Church needs to admit that priests often have active sex lives

LAKELAND (FL)
Lakeland Ledger

February 26, 2019

By Mary Sanchez

In the early 1980s, Americans were absorbed by the forbidden love of a dashingly handsome Roman Catholic cardinal and the equally beguiling woman with whom he’d fathered a child.

Would the cleric, Ralph de Bricassart, renounce his holy orders and forego the riches and power of his position at the Vatican for the love of a woman? Would he join his beloved Meggie Cleary and her son, the young man he adored, who was in fact his son too?

Alas, “The Thorn Birds” was a television miniseries, after “Roots” the most watched of its time.

The romance was so alluring because the love was forbidden. Yet even to my then young Catholic mind it seemed quite plausible. Of course priests sometimes violate the discipline of celibate chastity, fall in love and desire a family.

Last week, the Vatican made a telling admission that the church has guidelines for what to do with “children of the ordained” — and, as the New York Times reported, those guidelines are secret.

Wouldn’t it seem, at this point, that there should be no more big revelations about sex that the church needs to admit?

No, we’re not there yet.

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Falling on deaf ears: Pope Francis doesn’t fully grasp accusations against church

WATERTOWN (NY)
Watertown Daily Times

February 27, 2019

If Pope Francis is concerned that some people spend years accusing the Roman Catholic Church of wrongdoing, perhaps he should consider the institution’s history of covering up instances of sexual abuse and trying to silence victims.

Catholic authorities from around the world traveled to the Vatican last week for a summit to address the sexual abuse scandal. This is the first time the church has convened such an event pertaining to the issue.

Pope Francis on Thursday delivered a speech to representatives of the Archdiocese of Benevento, which is in Southern Italy. He spoke of the love that Saint Pio of Pietrelcina had for the church.

“He was distinguished for his steadfast faith in God, firm hope in the heavenly realities, generous dedication to the people and fidelity to the church, whom he always loved with all her problems and her adversities,” according to a transcript of the pope’s speech posted on the Vatican’s website. “I will pause a little on this. He loved the church, with the many problems the church has, with so many adversities, with so many sinners. Because the church is holy, she is the bride of Christ. But we, the children of the church, are all sinners — some big ones! — but he loved the church as she was. He did not destroy her with the tongue as it is the fashion to do now. No! He loved her.”

As he has done previously, Pope Francis said many of those who make repeated accusations against the Catholic Church have a malicious intent.

“He who loves the church knows how to forgive because he knows that he himself is a sinner and is in need of God’s forgiveness. He knows how to arrange things, because the Lord wants to arrange things well but always with forgiveness: One cannot live an entire life accusing, accusing, accusing the church. Whose is the office of the accuser? The devil! And those who spend their life accusing, accusing, accusing, are — I will not say children because the devil does not have any. But [they are] friends, cousins, relatives of the devil. And no, this is not good; flaws must be indicated so they can be corrected. But at the moment that flaws are noted, flaws are denounced, one loves the church. Without love, that is of the devil.”

It’s understandable that Pope Francis wants people of faith to continue loving the church. He is correct that it has been a source of much good in the world.

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Getting to the Root of the Problem

LONDON (ENGLAND)
The Tablet

February 27, 2019

By Jorge I. Dominguez-Lopez

In 2003, when the first wave of sexual abuse by the clergy in the United States was at its critical point, a Latin American priest visiting New York told me: “We in Latin America read the news about the sexual abuse scandals in the Church in the United States but we can’t understand how such a thing could happen.”

For him – as for many commentators at that time – this was just an American problem.

A few years later, the epidemic of sexual abuse scandals hit Ireland and Australia. Some experts offered then another explanation – the sexual abuse epidemic was an Anglo-Saxon problem.

The new theory ignored cases of abuse in the last century like that of Mexican priest Marcial Maciel, founder of the Legion of Christ and the Regnum Christi movement. Other famous cases in Latin America include Peruvian layman Luis Fernando Figari, founder of Sodalitium Christianae Vitae (SCV), a lay Catholic movement, and Fernando Karadima. After years of accusations, Karadima was defrocked by Pope Francis last September.

Karadima’s case was the prelude of the Chilean church’s crisis that exploded last year and resulted in a meeting at the Vatican where all the bishops of Chile presented their resignation to the Holy Father.

Last September, a study revealed that at least 1,670 members of the clergy and lay workers in the church in Germany had been accused of sexual abuse between 1946 and 2014. Six days later, an investigation revealed that 20 out of 39 Dutch cardinals, along with bishops and their auxiliaries “covered up sexual abuse,” for more than 65 years. Italy and India had their share of scandalous revelations too during the same year.

It became clear that the sexual abuse scandal was neither an American, nor an Anglo-Saxon problem. It became clear too in America that it was not a “Catholic problem” as scandals in Hollywood, Protestant denominations and the sports world came to light.

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One year after setting off “tsunami,” a victim talks of healing and continuing faith

BUFFALO (NY)
WBFO Radio

February 27, 2019

By Michael Mroziak

It was his revelation of sexual abuse as a minor, at the hands of a Catholic priest, which began what Bishop Richard Malone later admitted was an overwhelming number of similar claims and complaints lodged against dozens of priests within the Diocese, dating back decades.

One year to the day his revelation touched off a “tsunami,” as it was later described,” Michael Whalen holds on to his Catholic faith but will finally do something he felt unable to do for roughly 40 years—attend Mass.

On February 27, 2018, Michael Whalen stood on the sidewalk along Main Street, near the intersection with Pearl and Edward Streets, across the street from the downtown offices of the Diocese of Buffalo. It was then and there, as part of a call to state lawmakers to pass the Child Victims Act, that Whalen first revealed in public the abuse he suffered as a child.

The priest who abused him, Father Norbert Orsolits, later confessed to molesting Whalen and dozens of others when approached by the Buffalo News.

One year later, Whalen was feeling upbeat when he met one-on-one with WBFO. He is a man who has found peace.

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Graphic and painful testimony on sex abuse

PROVIDENCE (RI)
Providence Journal

February 27, 2019

By Katherine Gregg

Grown-ups sexually molested when they were children — by their local parish priests, by sports coaches, family members, even by the notorious Larry Nassar — came to the Rhode Island State House on Tuesday night to tell their horrific stories, some for the second or third time.

And some were more graphic than others, including Ann Hagan Webb, the 66-year-old psychologist and sister of the Rhode Island lawmaker who introduced the legislation that was the focus of Tuesday night’s House Judiciary Committee hearing. Rep. Carol Hagan McEntee’s legislation would extend from 7 years to 35 the statute of limitations on the pursuit of legal claims against child molesters and any institution employing them that looked the other way.

“Usually we save ourselves, and you, the pain by using generalities like ‘child abuse’ or ‘molestation’ and leave it at that. It’s time to rip the scab off,” Webb told the lawmakers.

Identifying the late Monsignor Anthony DeAngelis as her molester over a seven-year period that began when she was in kindergarten at the Sacred Heart elementary school in West Warwick, Webb recounted a series of disjointed images:

“He’s in a priest’s robe, raping me with crucifix…. I remember the gross look of his genitals close to my face…. I remember choking and gagging … I remember my arm hurting from the repetitive movement of manually bringing him to climax … I remember the sound of the rosary beads as one of the sisters brought me over to the church to meet him.”

Herbert “Hub” Brennan, a well-known physician from East Greenwich, recounted being molested, repeatedly, when he was a child, by the Rev. Brendan Smyth, a visiting priest, counselor and teacher at Our Lady of Mercy School and Church in East Greenwich, between 1965 and 1968. Smyth later returned to Ireland and pleaded guilty there to 141 counts of sexual abuse. He died in prison.

“Smyth would call from his rectory across the street from the school and have the nuns pull me out of my second or third grade classroom … [where] I would wait until he entered and took me across the hall to the nurse’s office where he would abuse me,″ though sometimes, “as an altar boy, he would molest me in the dressing room next to the altar.”

Not all of the people who testified blamed clergy.

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Vatican contrast on Pell, McCarrick driven by doubt about guilt

ROME (ITALY)
Crux

February 27, 2019

By John L. Allen Jr.

Like virtually everyone in Catholic circles, the Vatican has known since December about Cardinal George Pell’s conviction in his native Australia for alleged sexual offenses against two minor boys in 1996. As a result, Rome was not at all caught off guard when news of the conviction made the rounds Tuesday, after a gag order was lifted.

The statement read aloud to reporters Tuesday by Vatican spokesman Alessandro Gisotti was not, therefore, cobbled together under tight deadline pressure. On the contrary, officials had three months to ponder what they wanted to say when the moment came.

That truth makes it all the more striking how little the statement actually said – no word about any Church trial of Pell, nothing about taking away his cardinal’s red hat or expelling him from the Catholic priesthood, all of which happened to Theodore McCarrick of the United States in what, in Church terms, was the mere blink of an eye.

How does one explain the difference? It’s actually fairly simple: Early on, senior officials were convinced of McCarrick’s guilt. With Pell, they still aren’t.

Over the last couple of days, Crux has spoken with some of the Catholic Church’s leading reformers on clerical sexual abuse, inside the Vatican and out. To be clear, these are not people automatically inclined to give accused clergy the benefit of the doubt, and several are figures who actually dislike some of Pell’s political and theological stances as well as what’s often see as his fairly bruising personality.

Nonetheless, they’ve expressed skepticism that Pell is actually guilty of the crimes with which he was charged and convicted.

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‘Sociopathic lack of empathy’: Parents of victims tell of how George Pell ‘crushed’ them

ADELAIDE (AUSTRALIA)
News.Com.AU

February 27, 2019

By Phoebe Loomes

Two parents who reached out to Cardinal George Pell for help after their daughters were sexually abused by a Catholic priest have spoken about his “sociopathic lack of empathy”.

Chrissie and Anthony Foster said the Catholic leader “crushed” them when they went to see him in 1997 about the abuse of their daughters Emma and Katie by priest Kevin O’Donnell who presided over St Mary’s Church in Dandenong, Melbourne, from 1958 to 1986.

When the Fosters approached Archbishop Pell about the horrific sexual abuse of two of their three daughters, the couple said he “bullied” them, and they were shocked by his aggression.

“In our interactions with the now cardinal, Archbishop Pell, we experienced a sociopathic lack of empathy,” Mr Foster told the ABC’s 7.30 before his death in 2017.

“And when we went to them, went to George Pell, he just crushed us,” Ms Foster added. “He just bullied us and spoke over us.”

After being repeated raped by O’Donnell, Emma became addicted to drugs, had eating disorders and self-harmed before overdosing on medication at 26. Katie was hit by a car after a drinking binge in 1999, leaving her brain damaged.

Ms Foster expanded on her comments last night to Leigh Sales on ABC’s 7.30.

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Former priest says Pell verdict will not create change within the Catholic Church

BURNIE (AUSTRALIA)
The Advocate

February 27, 2019

By Emily Jarvie

Former Catholic Priest Julian Punch said the Catholic Church needs to be deconstructed, following the finding of prominent member Cardinal George Pell guilty of multiple counts of child sexual abuse.

“It needs to be a different church,” Mr Punch said.

“The church has really got to the stage where it is just a group of elderly men who are in denial and who’ve used the church in terms of a power base. They’re certainly not representing any Christian spirit.

“I’ve got a deep spirituality and I don’t see it at all represented in the Catholic Church.

“Besides the survivors of sexual abuse, there’s many, many other people that are survivors in terms of the Catholic Church.”

Mr Punch said he did not think the Pell verdict would encourage any change within the church.

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Lawyers’ list of accused priests includes ‘substantiated’ case of S.I. deacon

STATEN ISLAND (NY)
Staten Island Advance

February 27, 2019

By Maura Grunlund

A list of Roman Catholic priests and religious figures accused of “sexual misconduct” that was released by a law firm last week contains several cases with Staten Island ties that were deemed substantiated by the Archdiocese of New York — including a native Staten Islander who was a prominent deacon and educator.

The allegation against Deacon Arthur Manzione was “substantiated” by the Lay Review Board and he was “dismissed from the diaconate,” according to Joseph Zwilling, director of communications for the archdiocese.

The list, posted on the website of Jeff Anderson and Associates, a firm that advocates for victims, included the names of about 30 current or former members of the clergy with ties to Staten Island.

Many of the priests on the list whose cases have been deemed substantiated by the archdiocese have been previously reported in the Advance.

The law firm’s list also includes the names of Island clergy against whom abuse allegations were found unsubstantiated by the archdiocese, although specific information about when or where the accusations were made is not provided.

Manzione taught students in Catholic schools on Staten Island for many years before rising to the ranks of associate secretary for education of the Archdiocese of New York, according to Advance records.

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Cardinals Sin: Georgetown Appeases, Frustrates Students Seeking Revocation Of Honorary Degrees

WASHINGTON (DC)
The Georgetown Voice

February 27, 2019

By Margaret Gach

Following months of student activism and internal discussions among top administrators, Georgetown University announced it was revoking the honorary degree it conferred on Theodore McCarrick, former cardinal and archbishop of D.C. The Feb. 19 decision comes after McCarrick’s removal from the priesthood three days prior because of sexual abuse allegations against him that became public last summer. This is the first time Georgetown has revoked an honorary degree.

Now, students and Georgetown’s Catholic community are reflecting on the revocation and looking ahead at what they believe the university and the Catholic Church still need to do to address the decades-long clerical sexual abuse crisis.

Julie Bevilacqua (COL ’19) is one of a group of students who met with university officials throughout the fall semester to advocate for the revocations of the honorary degrees given to McCarrick and Cardinal Donald Wuerl—a former archbishop of D.C. accused of covering up clerical sexual abuse. For Bevilacqua and others in the group, the Feb. 19 announcement was a welcome one, but she said their work is far from over.

“I’m feeling simultaneously happy that this degree is finally being revoked and also frustrated that this took so long,” Bevilacqua said. “It’s really important that we remember this is a beginning step and not a final one.”

When the Archdiocese of New York released a statement on June 20, 2018 outlining an accusation that McCarrick had abused a teenage altar boy, Pope Francis ordered McCarrick out of public service and into a life of “prayer and penance” to await a trial in the Vatican. The news set off a series of allegations in other dioceses: Seminarians training to be priests claimed McCarrick had forced them to share a bed with him while they were on retreat, and a Virginia man said that McCarrick, a “family friend,” had sexually abused him over two decades.

The accusations hit the D.C. Catholic community especially hard. McCarrick had been a well-liked archbishop during his time in Washington from 2001 to 2006. Throughout his tenure in D.C., it wasn’t unusual to see him on Georgetown’s campus. McCarrick attended university President John DeGioia’s 2001 inauguration, celebrated Mass in Dahlgren Chapel, was a guest lecturer in classes, and participated in university panels up through 2014. Georgetown conferred an honorary degree on McCarrick in 2004 for his “humanitarian efforts” and “compassionate service to others.”

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Vatican to open own investigation into accusations against Pell

ROME (ITALY)
Reuters

February 27, 2019

By Philip Pullella

The Vatican is opening its own investigation into accusations against Cardinal George Pell, who was found guilty of sexual abuse of minors in his native Australia, a spokesman said on Wednesday.

The move means that Pell, who maintains his innocence and plans to appeal the verdict, could be dismissed from the priesthood if the Vatican’s doctrinal department also finds him guilty.

The Pell conviction has been particularly embarrassing for the Vatican and Pope Francis, coming just two days after the end of a major meeting of Church leaders on how to better tackle the abuse of children by clergy.

The 77-year-old Pell, a former top Vatican official, will spend his first night behind bars on Wednesday after he was remanded in custody pending sentencing for sexually abusing two choir boys in Australia two decades ago.

“After the guilty verdict in the first instance concerning Cardinal Pell, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) will now handle the case following the procedure and within the time established by canonical norm,” Vatican spokesman Alessandro Gisotti said.

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Reaction of conservative Catholics to abuse summit reveals a lot

KANSAS CITY (MO)
National Catholic Reporter

February 27, 2019

By Michael Sean Winters

Checking out how conservative U.S. Catholics reacted to the Vatican sex abuse summit would be funny if it were not so pitiful. After so many years when they criticized NCR for covering the story (amongst other signs of indifference to the Gospel), now they have decided to get busy. They sense a vulnerability in Pope Francis on this issue, saddled as he is with a curia that has been perfecting the art of sabotaging reform for centuries. They intend to ride this train if they can. But, their commentary betrays their biases more than anything else.

There is Tim Busch, founder of the Napa Institute, board member of EWTN, funder of the business school at Catholic University that bears his name, taking to the pages of The Wall Street Journal to suggest the laity, the faithful laity, will stand up to the scourge of clergy sex abuse no matter the cost because the bishops have failed to do so. Chutzpah. This is the man who hired disgraced former Archbishop of St. Paul and Minneapolis John Nienstedt as a kind of house chaplain for his Napa Institute and did not blink at Nienstedt’s coddling of a notorious abuser of children among other things. Busch only sacked Nienstedt last summer when the incongruity became too conspicuous to ignore any longer. Say, has Busch ever called for the public release of the document compiled by investigators into Nienstedt’s behavior? Did I miss that?

You could count on the folks at Church Militant to be disappointed with the summit. They wanted the bishops to focus on the scourge of homosexuality among the clergy, not the scourge of clergy sex abuse of minors. This despite the facts that there are no reputable studies that indicate a linkage between gays and sex abuse of minors, and most sexual abuse of minors happens within families and involves men violating girls.

This episode of “The Vortex” referred to the meeting as a “Summit of Lies,” and called the organizers “liars and are deflecting from the real story. They are all part of the homosexual current identified by Archbishop Viganò.” I note in passing that when I clicked on the link, I got an ad for President Trump’s reelection campaign. Only an auto-da-fé featuring some gay clergy would have satisfied them.

LifeSiteNews made a splash at the press conferences during the summit. You can see the embedded video of one session here. Their reporter asked, in a rambling speech pretending to be a question, about the connection between gays and sex abuse and Archbishop Charles Scicluna was succinct in his reply that the two have nothing to do with one another. LifeSite’s reports before, during and after the summit all focus on the issue of homosexuality.

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How a priest’s admission to a News reporter sparked Buffalo’s clergy sex abuse scandal

BUFFALO (NY)
Buffalo News

February 27, 2019

By Jay Tokasz

I knocked on the front door expecting the Rev. Norbert F. Orsolits not to answer – or to slam the door in my face when I introduced myself as a Buffalo News reporter and explained why I had driven 45 minutes to speak with him.

I told Orsolits that a man named Michael Whalen publicly accused the priest of molesting him in the late 1970s. I was looking for a response. Orsolits didn’t shut the door.

Little did I know at the time, one year ago today, that our brief conversation would help set in motion the unraveling of decades of cover-up of sexual abuse by more than 100 priests in the Catholic Diocese of Buffalo.

Orsolits stepped one foot outside and asked me to repeat the name of the person making the accusation. When I did, Orsolits said he didn’t remember anybody named Michael Whalen.

It was an odd reaction. We talked some more. He carefully considered my questions, but didn’t give lengthy answers. I didn’t immediately take notes because I didn’t want to scare him from speaking freely.

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Yakima Diocese may post names of accused priests

YAKIMA (WA)
Yakima Herald-Republic

February 26, 2019

By Jane Gargas

Next month the Catholic Diocese of Yakima is considering taking a new — and very public — approach to dealing with sex abuse by members of the clergy.

The Diocesan Lay Advisory Board will discuss at its March meeting whether the diocese should post on its website the names of clergy who have served here and have had credible allegations of sex abuse of a minor made against them.

The group, which meets quarterly, investigates allegations of sexual misconduct in the local Catholic Church. Once they determine whether to publish or not, members will make a recommendation to Bishop Joseph Tyson, who will make the ultimate decision.

“I am leaning one way, but it wouldn’t be fair for me to say before discussing it with the board,” said lay advisory board chair, Russ Mazzola, a Yakima attorney.

Other board members are Jorge Torres, a psychologist; Tom Dittmar, who has a background in law enforcement; Dr. Mark Maiocco, a physician; Monsignor John Ecker, pastor at St. Paul Cathedral, and Elizabeth Torres, an environmental health-project coordinator.

Tyson confirmed that the board is exploring ways to demonstrate more openness.

“Not just in light of the church’s sexual abuse scandals, but the wider scandals involving Penn State football, Olympic gymnastics, and even the #metoo movement, transparency is the key,” he wrote in an email to a reporter.

The two other dioceses in Washington, Seattle and Spokane, publish names of cleric sex abusers on their websites. The Archdiocese of Seattle posted a list of 77 names of offending priests in January 2016, and several more names have since been added.

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Top Vatican official’s sex abuse conviction latest blow to embattled Roman Catholic Church

NEW YORK (NY)
ABC News

February 26, 2019

By Meghan Keneally

The revelation that a Catholic cardinal in Australia was convicted of molesting boys marks the most senior member of the church to face prison time for sexual abuse.

The charges against Cardinal George Pell — who was not only a major figure in Australia’s Catholic church but also a close adviser to Pope Francis — were not publicly released until Tuesday because of a law in the country’s court system.

In December, he was convicted of molesting two choir boys in the 1990s, but under Australian law, all details of that trial — including the fact that the trial was held at all — were suppressed because Pell was set to be subject to a second trial.

But the suppression order was lifted after additional charges relating to allegations that Pell had also abused boys in his hometown of Ballarat in the 1970s were dropped, prompting details of the first trial and conviction to be made public for the first time, according to the Associated Press.

Pell’s sentencing hearing is set to begin Wednesday, and he could face up to 50 years in prison, the AP reported. Pell’s lawyer Paul Galbally said that Pell maintains his innocence and that an appeal on the conviction has already been filed.

The Australian Broadcasting Company reports that the allegations brought forth in the first trial stemmed from incidents that took place when he was the archbishop of Melbourne, the country’s second-most populous city.

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Víctimas chilenas de abusos sexuales critican medidas del Papa tras cumbre en Roma: “Buscan blindar” a la Iglesia

[Chilean abuse victims criticize Pope’s measures after Rome summit: “They seek to shield” the Church]

SANTIAGO (CHILE)
Emol

By Juan Peña

La “Red de Sobrevivientes” calificó como “obsoleta” la decisión de establecer un mecanismo que defina cómo actuar ante la aparición de denuncias y un grupo de escucha para los afectados.

La “Red de Sobrevivientes de Abuso” cometidos en entornos eclesiásticos de Chile criticó las medidas adoptadas por el Papa Francisco en la cumbre que citó en Roma, marcada por la revelación de la destrucción de archivos sobre los autores de abusos sexuales.

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Out of ministry but still in the priesthood, argues a priest and survivor

LONDON (ENGLAND)
The Tablet

February 26, 2019

By Joe McDonald

The day the priest who abused me was buried, the official papers removing him from the priesthood arrived from Rome.

When I was informed of this and sought clarification it was explained to me that technically he died a priest. My reaction to this news was to murmur, ‘thank God’, which surprised not only his confrère sitting in front of me but, to some degree, myself. This response has come back to me in these days as I attempt to reflect prayerfully on the work of the Vatican Summit on Clerical Abuse in Rome, which has just concluded.

Already there has been much comment on this summit. Before it was even finished the debate was framed along the lines: ‘is this the long awaited line in the sand or just the latest cosmetic exercise’? The analysis no doubt will continue. In this short contribution I do not purport to engage in any serious evaluation of its work except to address one aspect that has emerged. That is the tension between those who would argue that the priest who has abused must be removed from ministry and those who agree but also argue we should stop short of dismissing him from priesthood. I belong to the latter.

I am conscious this position may well be unpopular and I care very much that I do not add to the hurt of those already hurt. However it is important to address the issue at hand. There is, in my view, no debate around issues such as taking responsibility, our duty with regard to reporting, right through to full cooperation with civil law which will invariably be accompanied by punishment. At this point, if it is not in place beforehand, there must be clear arrangements to ensure that the priest who has been found guilty has no further unsupervised access to children or vulnerable adults. The National Conference for Safeguarding has done excellent work in this regard.

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Ezzati: “Me conmovieron profundamente los testimonios de las víctimas”

[Ezzati: “I was deeply moved by the victims’ testimonies”]

CHILE
La Tercera

February 26, 2019

By María José Navarrete

Tras la cumbre vaticana sobre protección de menores en la Iglesia, el cardenal dijo que se necesita avanzar en transparencia. El arzobispo de Santiago valoró las exposiciones hechas por mujeres y la necesidad de mayor colaboración entre obispos.

La semana pasada el arzobispo de Santiago, Ricardo Ezzati, aseguró que siguió “con particular interés y atención” el encuentro convocado por el Papa Francisco en Roma. La cita trató sobre los temas de abusos a menores dentro de la Iglesia. Según contó el prelado, estuvo atento al cronograma, las conferencias de prensa y las ponencias de los expositores, y en conversación con La Tercera entregó sus primeras impresiones.

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“Falta control sobre los obispos. Es lo fundamental”

[“There is a lack of control over the bishops. It is the fundamental thing”]

ROME (ITALY)
El País (Spain)

February 26, 2019

By Daniel Verdu

Lucetta Scaraffia denuncia la impunidad con la que actúan los obispos en los casos de abusos y subraya la importancia de feminizar la Iglesia para protegerla estas crisis

El suplemento femenino que publica L’Osservatore Romano se imprimió hace un mes con un brutal reportaje sobre los históricos abusos que han recibido las monjas por parte de sacerdotes y obispos. Violaciones, abusos de poder, relaciones de esclavitud… La historia fue reproducida por decenas de medios, abrió un debate cerrado a cal y canto durante años en la Iglesia y obligó al Papa a pronunciarse y a reconocer el problema en pleno vuelo de vuelta de su viaje a Abu Dabi. Aquella apuesta periodística, como tantas otras, fue idea de Lucetta Scaraffia (Torino, 1948), periodista, historiadora y directora de Mujeres, Iglesia y Mundo, el valiente suplemento que dirige y que impulsó el anterior responsable e L’Osservatore, Giovanni Maria Vian. Azote del machismo rampante en la Iglesia, Scaraffia está convencida que la institución debe feminizarse para afrontar plagas como la de los abusos.

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“La Iglesia ha superado todos los límites de la decepción”

[Spanish victims: “The Church has exceeded all limits of disappointment”]

MADRID (SPAIN)
El País

February 25, 2019

By Julio Núñez and Íñigo Domínguez

Las víctimas españolas sienten que la cumbre sobre pederastia en el Vaticano ha sido “un lavado de cara”

La mayoría de las víctimas españolas de abusos sexuales en la Iglesia consultadas por este periódico afirman que no les sorprende el discurso vacío de medidas concretas del papa Francisco tras la histórica cumbre sobre la pederastia celebrada la semana pasada en el Vaticano. No tenían muchas esperanzas, dicen, de que los obispos anunciasen acciones para reparar el daño a los afectados, que han visto cómo los abusos que sufrieron por clérigos han prescrito. “Han superado todos los límites de la decepción. Han legalizado ante el mundo su intención de seguir ocultando y permitiendo los abusos en su seno. Ha sido una ceremonia estética sin ética alguna”, opina Teresa Conde, de 52 años, víctima de un religioso de los trinitarios de Salamanca que comenzó a abusar de ella cuando tenía 14 años.

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Editorial: El Papa no ha logrado imponer medidas concretas contra la pederastia

[Editorial: Pope has failed to impose concrete measures against pedophilia]

MADRID (SPAIN)
El País

February 26, 2019

La celebración desde el pasado viernes hasta el domingo de una cumbre en el Vaticano con los presidentes de conferencias episcopales de todo el mundo que han tratado exclusivamente el problema de la pederastia en el interior de la jerarquía católica constituye un hecho sin precedentes en la historia de la Iglesia y como tal debe ser valorado. Se trata de un escándalo de carácter delictivo a escala global que afecta tanto a 1.254 millones de católicos como a decenas de países donde se han producido durante décadas los delitos que han sido ocultados a sus sistemas judiciales.

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El obispo de San Sebastián reconoce haber instruido cinco casos de pederastia desde 2017

[Bishop of San Sebastian admits learning about five pedophilia cases since 2017]

MADRID (SPAIN)
El País

February 26, 2019

By Julio Núñez

José Ignacio Munilla revela que recibió varias denuncias después de que saliera a la luz que el exvicario de su diócesis había abusado de dos menores

El obispo de San Sebastián, José Ignacio Munilla, ha reconocido haber instruido desde 2017 cinco procesos canónicos sobre pederastia, cuatro de ellos no conocidos hasta ahora. Durante una entrevista este lunes en Radio Euskadi, Munilla ha recordado que a comienzos de su mandato como obispo de Gipuzkoa, en 2016, abrió una investigación contra el entonces vicario, Juan Kruz Mendizábal, después de recibir varias denuncias de abusos.

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