California lawmakers threaten to break confidentiality of confession to find abusers

WASHINGTON (DC)
Religion News Service

May 31, 2019

By Jack Jenkins

Breaking with a long tradition of clerical privilege, California is edging toward requiring priests and other church employees to inform authorities if they learn of a case of child sex abuse during the sacrament of confession.

On Thursday (May 31), the California State Senate passed a bill that would require priests to report child abuse if they learn about it while hearing the confession of a fellow priest or colleague. The bill — which passed overwhelmingly with a 30-4 vote, with 4 not voting at all — was amended from its original version, which would have required a priest to report abuse they learn about in any confession they hear, not just those of their fellow clerics and coworkers.

But even the altered version of the bill is sparking outrage among Catholic leaders who see it as forcing priests and other clergy either to comply with the law and violate the sacramental seal of confession or defy authorities and risk arrest.

The California Catholic Conference decried the bill in a statement, describing it as an “attack on the sanctity of the confessional” and noting that under church law, any priest who violates the seal of confession is automatically excommunicated.

In a separate interview with Religion News Service, a spokesperson for the conference argued that the narrowing of the bill only sharpens opponents’ argument that it violates religious freedom provisions and is discriminatory.

“The more you narrow it down, the more unconstitutional it gets,” the spokesperson said.

The spokesperson added that, while Catholic officials won’t prepare any legal challenges before the bill passes in California’s lower chamber, they wouldn’t rule out potential future lawsuits.

“I do find it quite shocking, because it is a blatant violation of the First Amendment,” San Francisco Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone told Relevant Radio. “The whole point of the First Amendment, and one of the foundational principles of this country, was to keep the government out of the church. Here is… the government intruding into the church’s affairs.”

Bishop Michael Barber of the Diocese of Oakland, Calif., also forbade any priests in his region from obeying the bill, which was sponsored by State Senator Jerry Hill, if it becomes law.

“(Y)our right to confess to God and have your sins forgiven in total privacy must be protected,” Barber wrote in a letter released on Tuesday.

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Are California Catholic dioceses using victim compensation fund to prevent future lawsuits?

SACRAMENTO (CA)
ABC 10 News

May 27, 2019

By Lilia Luciano

In California, victims of childhood sexual abuse have until they are 26 years old to file lawsuit damages, a statute of limitations that Assemblywoman Lorena González hopes to extend until those victims are 40 years old.

Introduced by González, AB 218 seeks to significantly extend the statute of limitations for victims of childhood sexual abuse.

The bill is exactly the same as the one González (D-San Diego) introduced last year, which passed, but was killed when vetoed by Gov. Jerry Brown. In 2013 Brown also vetoed a Senate bill that sought to eliminate the statute of limitation altogether.

With a new Governor in the state, supporters of AB 218 are hopeful that it will pass and be signed into law by Gov. Gavin Newsom.

The timing of the bill’s passing could coincide with the recent announcement by the Sacramento Catholic Diocese that it will participate in the creation of an Independent Victim Compensation Program for survivors of sexual abuse by clergy.

The fund will be administered by the Washington D.C. based Feinberg Law Firm, which has handled similar programs in New York, Pennsylvania, and Colorado.

In the announcement, the Diocese of Sacramento stated “through their efforts, more than 1,200 victims/survivors have received compensation in New York alone.”

The Sacramento diocese released the names of 46 clergymen credibly accused of abusing 130 victims, but Joe George, the leading attorney in Sacramento representing victims of clergy abuse said about the list, “I think games were played with numbers of victims.”

He added that the Church made it seem like the “overwhelming majority of the number of victims were as a result of three or four Mexican-American and Hispanic perpetrators.”

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Another whistle-blower among the clergy What’s really behind the ‘Figueiredo Report’ and who is the author?

ROME (ITALY)
LaCroix International

May 31, 2019

By Robert Mickens

When Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò called on Pope Francis to resign last summer for allegedly covering up the sexual crimes of the former cardinal Theodore McCarrick, it was “like an earthquake for the Church.”

That’s how Monsignor Anthony Figueiredo, a former Vatican official and a longtime consultant for CBS News, described Viganò’s “testimony,” an 11-page dossier of accusations and innuendos that targeted the pope and nearly a dozen high-ranking Vatican prelates. Msgr. Figueiredo, a priest from the Archdiocese of Newark (New Jersey) who has been living in Rome since 2006, immediately defended Viganò’s credibility.

“I know him personally,” he told CBS. “I know him as a man of great integrity, honest to the core. He’s worked for three different popes, and [was] sent to a Vatican position, a diplomatic position as big as the United States, which means he’s a trusted man.

“The very bright and articulate Newark priest vouched for Viganò on Aug. 27, 2018, just one day after the former papal nuncio carefully coordinated with LifeSite News and the National Catholic Register to publish his 11 pages of accusations.

Taking Viganò’s leadNow nine months later Msgr. Figueiredo is back in the news. And how!

Following in the footsteps of his friend or acquaintance, Archbishop Viganò, the 55-year-old priest has become the latest clergyman with a public profile to blow the whistle on Church cover-up in the hierarchy.

He did so this past May 28 when he released – simultaneously through CBS and the Catholic publication, Crux – excerpts of personal correspondence with McCarrick, a man whom (you will see in a moment) he once considered a father figure and patron.

These carefully chosen excerpts reinforce claims made by Viganò and others that a number of high-ranking Church officials were aware that Benedict XVI had quietly placed restrictions on the former cardinal but they did nothing to enforce them.

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Vatican appoints overseers for scandal-ridden Peruvian lay organization

ROME (ITALY)
Crux

May 31, 2019

By Elise Harris

A troubled Peruvian lay group has received two new Vatican-appointed representatives to help oversee institutional reform as questions over the group’s identity and stability continue to hang in the air following public scandals involving high-ranking members.

Earlier this month the Vatican Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life named Franciscan Father Guillermo Rodríguez as delegate ad nutum Sanctae Sedis, or “at the behest of the Holy See,” to the Sodalitium Christianae Vitae (SCV) to help implement reforms, and Jesuit Father GianFranco Ghirlanda to revamp the group’s formation process.

In 2017 the SCV’s founder, Peruvian layman Luis Fernando Figari, was sanctioned by the Vatican for abuses of power, conscience and sexuality within the community.

In 2018 the Vatican congregation tapped Colombian Bishop Noel Londoño of Jerico to serve as a “commissioner” for the group, essentially taking the reins and guiding the community as they sought to implement their reform.

When the SCV held its fifth general assembly in Aparecida, Brazil in January, Londoño voiced his conviction that his role was no longer needed, and that the SCV could move forward with its own leadership guiding the reform.

During the meeting Londoño also announced that a special Vatican-appointed delegate would be named in the following months to serve as a point of reference with the Vatican to assist the SCV government in continuing to implement changes.

In their roles, Rodríguez will advise SCV leadership on key decisions while Ghirlanda will assist in the revision of the rules guiding the group’s formation process and community life, help to ensure formators are well-prepared for the task, and that new members have the support they need, and develop plans for initial and ongoing formation.

Daniel Caledron, communications representative for the SCV, told Crux that since their nomination is ad nutum Sanctae Sedis, the assignment has no timeline, and for now is “indefinite.”

However, despite the positive review from Londoño, many have voiced skepticism over the depth of the SCV’s reform, with some victims arguing that Londoño’s tenure was ineffective given the fact that he oversees a diocese in Colombia, while the SCV is headquartered in Peru, making it difficult to keep track of the SCV’s progress.

Many victims complained that during his year as commissioner, Londoño never scheduled meetings with them, including those who were former members of the organization and could have offered advice for renewal.

Victims in November 2018 met with the leadership of the Peruvian bishops’ conference and subsequently sent Pope Francis a letter, which Crux obtained, asking him to resolve the situation, saying reform efforts had been poorly handled.

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1,455 new Catholic clergy abuse cases surfaced in 2017-18, audit finds

NEW ORLEANS (LA)
Times-Picayune

May 31, 2019

By Kim Chatelain

Nearly 1,500 new allegations of clerical sexual abuse in the Catholic church were brought forward over a one-year period ending June 30, 2018, a marked rise over previous years, the U.S. bishops’ conference reported Friday (May 31).

The annual report for audit year July 1, 2017 through June 30, 2018 indicates that 1,385 adults came forward with 1,455 new allegations, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Secretariat of Child and Youth Protection reported in a news release.

Based on the findings of StoneBridge Business Partners, a Rochester, New York, firm that specializes in forensic, internal and compliance audit services, the report indicated that 92 percent of the offending clergy members identified during the annual reporting period were either already dead, laicized, removed from ministry or missing. The majority of allegations concerned the period between 1960-1990, with a concentration in the 1970s, the audit found.

The report is the 16th of its kind since 2002 when the U.S. bishops’ conference approved the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People, a formal pledge to address the problem of clergy abuse that has rocked the Catholic church over the past several decades. The charter involves programs for background checks, safe environment training, review boards enforcing zero tolerance policies and victims’ assistance efforts.

In his preface to the report, Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, wrote of his “sincere gratitude” for the courage of victims of abuse.

“Because of their bravery in coming forward, victim/survivor assistance and child protection are now core elements of the Church,” DiNardo wrote. “The Church is a far safer place today than when we launched the charter in 2002.”

The escalation in the number of allegations displayed in the most recent report was attributed to the state-wide adoption of Independent Reconciliation and Compensation Programs by the five dioceses in the state of New York.

Some Catholics call for an outside investigative entity to hold leaders accountable.

Twenty-six new allegations involving current minors were presented during the report’s window, three of which were substantiated and resulted in a priest being removed from active ministry, according to the report. Seven allegations were listed as “unsubstantiated” by the time the report’s window closed.

Three were categorized as “unable to be proven” and investigations were still in progress for six of the allegations as of June 30, 2018. For the remaining seven allegations involving minors, two were referred to a religious order, two were reported as unknown clerics, and three were not claims of sexual abuse, but were boundary violations, according to the news release.

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Catholic Church reports number of sex-abuse allegations has doubled

NEW YORK (NY)
Associated Press

May 31, 2019

Quantifying its vast sex-abuse crisis, the U.S. Roman Catholic Church said Friday that allegations of child sex abuse by clerics more than doubled in its latest 12-month reporting period, and that its spending on victim compensation and child protection surged above $300 million.

During the period from July 1, 2017, to June 30, 2018, 1,385 adults came forward with 1,455 allegations of abuse, according to the annual report of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Secretariat of Child and Youth Protection. That was up from 693 allegations in the previous year. The report attributed much of the increase to a victim compensation program implemented in five dioceses in New York state.

According to the report, Catholic dioceses and religious orders spent $301.6 million during the reporting period on payments to victims, legal fees and child-protection efforts. That was up 14% from the previous year and double the amount spent in the 2014 fiscal year.

The number of allegations is likely to rise further during the current fiscal year, given that Catholic dioceses in New Jersey and Pennsylvania have started large compensation programs in the wake of a scathing Pennsylvania grand jury report released in August. The grand jury identified more than 300 priests in six of the state’s dioceses who have been credibly accused of child sexual abuse committed over many decades.

Since then, attorneys general in numerous states have set up abuse hotlines and launched investigations, and a growing number of dioceses and Catholic religious orders have released names of priests accused of abuse.

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FORMER PRIEST WANTED ON ABUSE CHARGES IN ARIZONA ARRESTED IN ITALY

ROME (ITALY)
Catholic News Service

May, 31, 2019

Michele Gentiloni, Henn’s attorney, said his client was taken into custody May 28 after trying to use his expired U.S. passport as identification to pick up some medicine he needed. A spokesman for the Carabinieri, the Italian police force that apprehended Henn, disputed that version of events, claiming instead that the priest had requested assistance at a city-run immigrant assistance center using a false name.

Henn was assigned by the Salvatorian order to serve at St. Mark Parish in Phoenix from 1978 to 1982. He was indicted on sexual abuse charges in 2003 and arrested in Rome in July 2005 after a request but disappeared before he could be extradited to the United States to stand trial.

“The Diocese of Phoenix is pleased to learn that authorities have located and apprehended former Salvatorian priest Joseph Henn in Italy,” said diocesan officials in a statement. “We support the efforts of the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office to extradite Henn and return him to the United States in order to face the criminal charges against him.”

Henn is identified on the Diocese of Phoenix website as a priest who has been removed from ministry due to sexual misconduct with a minor.

He was expelled from his order and removed from the priesthood in 2006 and is currently is in Rome’s Regina Coeli prison awaiting questioning, which must happen by June 3, his attorney told Catholic News Service May 31.

Fr. Jeff Wocken, U.S. provincial of the Salvatorians, confirmed to CNS that Henn had been removed from the order and the priesthood in 2006, and that he had left the Salvatorian headquarters before the extradition order could be carried out.

According to the 2004 annual report for the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office, Henn was charged with 10 counts of child molestation, one count of attempted sexual contact with a minor, one count of attempted child molestation and two counts of sexual conduct with a minor.

Henn had been accused of molesting at least three boys under the age of 15 between 1979 and 1981 when he was living and working in Phoenix.

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‘Much progress still needed’ DiNardo says as bishops release child protection report

WASHINGTON (DC)
Catholic News Agency

May 31, 2019

The U.S. bishops’ conference has released its annual report on the protection of children. The report records an increase in the number of new allegations of clerical sexual abuse being brought forward following the launch of independent compensation programs in some states.

The annual report on Findings and Recommendations on the Implementation of the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People was released May 31 by the USCCB’s Secretariat for Child and Youth Protection.

Writing in his preface to the report, USCCB president Cardinal Daniel DiNardo said he offered his “sincere gratitude” for the courage of victims of abuse.

“Because of their bravery in coming forward, victim and survivor assistance and child protection are now core elements of the Church.”

The report covers a year-long period ending June 30, 2018 and is the sixteenth report since the implementation of the Dallas Charter and USCCB Essential Norms in 2002.

According to the report, in new complaints lodged during the report’s annual window, 92% of offenders identified were already either dead, laicized, removed from ministry, or missing. The majority of allegations concerned the period between 1960-1990, with a concentration in the 1970s.

In total, 1,385 adults reported 1,455 new allegations between July 31, 2017 and June 30, 2018. The numbers represent a marked rise over the previous reporting period.

The report attributed the escalation to the state-wide adoption of Independent Reconciliation and Compensation Programs by the dioceses of New York. The vast majority of all new cases reported concerned historical instances of abuse.

Twenty-six new allegations involving current minors were presented during the report’s window, three of which were substantiated and resulted in a priest being removed from active ministry. Seven allegations were listed as “unsubstantiated” by the time the report’s window closed, with three more classed as “unable to be proven.”

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Democratic presidential hopeful: ‘Church is wrong on abortion, priests, LGBT’

DENVER (CO)
Catholic News Agency

May 31, 2019

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) has said that she disputes Church teaching on the priesthood, sexuality, and abortion.

The Democratic presidential candidate made the comments while discussing her own beliefs in an interview for Iowa Public Radio’s NPR Politics Podcast on Wednesday.

Gillibrand was raised in the Church and said she still “identifies” as a Catholic, even though she attends religious services at non-Catholic churches. The senator said she disagrees with Catholic teaching on “many things,” listing abortion, LGBT issues, and the all-male priesthood as points of dissent.

“I think [the Church] is wrong on those three issues,” said Gilibrand. “And I don’t think they’re supported by the Gospel or the Bible in any way. I just–I don’t see it, and I go to two Bible studies a week. I take my faith really seriously.”

Gillibrand is an outspoken supporter of abortion rights and has a zero percent rating from the National Right to Life Committee on life issues.

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Catholic ministry repulsed by priest’s comments

HURON (MI)
Huron Daily Tribune

May 31, 2019

By Bradley Massman

The Archdiocese of Detroit is standing by its decision to remove a priest, who now resides in the Port Austin area, from ministry three years ago.

“The Archdiocese of Detroit … is repulsed by comments attributed to him in recent media reports,” the archdiocese stated in reference to Lawrence Ventline.

Ventline is a priest who has been temporarily removed from the ministry since 2016. He is also currently facing licensing action by Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel’s office.

Earlier this week, Ventline indicated he was going to sue the AG’s office.

“A lawsuit will be filed by week’s end with the finest prosecuting attorney in MI (Michigan) to sue the Catholic axe-grinding same-gender attracted AG Nessel,” Ventline previously stated in an email to the Tribune this week.

“Ventline’s personal attacks against Attorney General Dana Nessel have no place in public discourse,”the archdiocese stated. “In addition, any threat of a lawsuit by him has absolutely no support or involvement from the Detroit archdiocese.”

As of Friday morning, the AG’s office has not received a lawsuit from Ventline, Dan Olsen, a spokesperson for the AG, told the Tribune.

Ventline lashed out at the archdiocese in response to its statement decrying his comments about Nessel.

“AoD (Archdiocese of Detroit) are hellish hypocrites losing Catholics daily who seek Jesus and the truth,” Ventline told the Tribune.

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Not just a billboard: Molested at 12. Sold by Dad. Raped 8 times a day.

ATLANTA (GA)
Journal-Constitution

May 31, 2019

By Gracie Bonds Staples

There’s a parable about a villager who one day spots a drowning baby and pulls it from a river. The next day, he sees two more and snatches them from the same swift waters. The following day, four babies are caught in the turbulent current. And then eight, then more, and more.

Deborah Richardson, executive director of the International Human Trafficking Institute, retold the story recently to make a point. It’s time, she said, we addressed the root cause of sex trafficking — demand.For far too long, our advocacy and law enforcement efforts have focused on the arrest and prosecution of traffickers, while those who were driving the market demand of exploited children were ignored.

Richardson hopes a new digital billboard campaign her agency launched May 21 will finally do the trick.Having seen those billboards, I don’t see how it couldn’t.

“The Truth in Trafficking,” which will run through June 16, is the brainchild of Legend ad agency CEO Michael Dunn.The billboards, he said, were designed to get into the predator’s mind, deconstruct his motivations and destroy his justifications. He doesn’t see his behavior as destructive but rather transactional. He has blinded himself to the truth, the horrors he creates, the irreparable damage he does to these innocent children who have absolutely no choice — and never have.

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Woman Who Raised Alarm About Pedophile Priest John Geoghan Dies

BOSTON (MA)
Associated Press

May 31, 2019

A Boston woman who was one of the first people to raise the alarm about a sexually abusive Roman Catholic priest has died.

Maryetta Dussourd was 74.

She died of cancer on May 24, according to her obituary.

The Mann & Rodgers Funeral Home, which is handling arrangements, confirmed the death.

Dussourd told The Boston Globe for a 2002 story that she was stunned when she learned the Rev. John Geoghan was fondling her three sons as well as her niece’s four sons in the late 1970s.

She said she was warned by church officials to keep quiet and told not to sue. Other parishioners shunned her.

The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests called Dussourd “a hero, plain and simple.”

Geoghan was killed in prison by another inmate in 2003.

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John Denham told a court he had remorse for sexually abusing 59 boys, but a judge rejected the claim

NEWCASTLE (AUSTRALIA)
Herald News

May 31, 2019

By Joanne McCarthy

THE sadistic Hunter Catholic priest whose crimes against children were the catalyst for a royal commission will spend longer in jail after he was convicted of sexually abusing a 59th victim.

John Sidney Denham, 76, left a young boy bleeding and sobbing after dragging him from a Taree Catholic primary school playground to a nearby presbytery and violently sexually assaulting him in the early 1980s.

Denham then silenced the terrified, traumatised boy, 11, with a warning that: “If you tell anyone, anyone at all, you’ll be taken away from your parents, your parents will be thrown out of the church, you will go to hell and maybe be taken away from your parents forever and never see them again, and there will be more trouble.”

Denham denied the crimes during a judge-alone trial in 2018 and said he had no memory of the victim.

It was “an entirely cynical basis upon which to prosecute a defence”, said District Court Judge Phillip Mahony before finding Denham guilty of four offences, including buggery, and rejecting Denham’s claim of remorse.

Denham “has not recognised the pain and suffering caused to the victim of these offences at all”, said Judge Mahony in a decision on Thursday.

He sentenced Denham to a maximum 13 years jail, with a non-parole period of seven years and six months. But because the former Hunter priest is already in jail until at least January, 2028, and the crimes against his 59th victim occurred in the same period he committed other offences, he will spend at least another 18 months in jail for the latest convictions.

His earliest possible release date is July, 2029, with his full sentence not ending until January, 2035 when Denham is 92.

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Victims beg church staff to “blow the whistle”

Pope’s new abuse policy takes effect Saturday

It protects Catholic whistle blowers

Reporting suspected abuse is now everyone’s responsibility

But SNAP urges employees to tell law enforcement first

They call on US Bishops to create a whistleblower “Reward Fund”

WHAT
Holding signs and childhood photos at a sidewalk news conferences, clergy abuse survivors and advocates will urge Church officials to take advantage of Pope Francis’ new whistle blower protections by coming forward to police and prosecutors with any information they have regarding cases of clergy sexual abuse. They will also encourage the formation of a Church-run “reward fund” that will benefit whistle blowers who speak out.

WHEN
Friday, May 31 in Chicago, Washington D.C., and Oakland

WHO
Several clergy sex abuse survivors and supporters who belong to a support group called SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAPnetwork.org)

WHY
This Saturday, the Catholic Church’s first-ever world-wide abuse policy officially takes effect. Outlined by Pope Francis earlier this month, the policy says Church staff must report abuse and are guaranteed whistle blower protection when they do. SNAP wants US bishops to “widely publicize these two new rules” to ensure that employees “know about them and will act on them.”

SNAP also wants the US Catholic hierarchy to start a “whistle blowers reward fund” to give more incentive to Church workers to speak up when they see, suspect or suffer wrongdoing. The group is also appealing to current and former employees to call secular authorities first, not Church supervisors, in these cases.

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Church’s awareness of pedophilia increasing

PARIS (FRANCE)
LaCroix International

May 31, 2019

The French Senate’s Information Mission on Sexual Offenses against Minors, which was created last autumn following a series of revelations of abuse in the Church, published its report on May 29. Senate president Catherine Deroche (Les Républicains) told La Croix International that silence on these issues has also prevailed in other institutions.

The Senate Information Mission on Sexual Offenses against Minors was created in October 2018 following a call by the magazine, Témoignage chrétien, to launch an independent commission of inquiry into abuse in the Catholic Church.

La Croix: After months of hearings, does the Church appear worse than other social institutions involved with young people?

Catherine Deroche: The Catholic Church has been the epicenter of the revelation movement but the phenomenon of sexual assault against minors exists in many institution, religious and secular.

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Abused by missionaries

HOUSTON (TX)
Houston Chronicle

May 31, 2019

By Lise Olsen and Sarah Smith

George Thomas Wade Jr. had been spreading the gospel as a missionary on African training farms and in bush villages for six years when his Southern Baptist supervisors learned a horrifying secret: The supposedly devout man of God was molesting his own daughter.

A supervisor met once privately with the girl, who was attending boarding school in Johannesburg, and later consulted leaders based 7,500 miles away at the Richmond, Va., headquarters of what’s now called the International Mission Board. Wade promised to stop, the supervisor said. His daughter said she was told to forgive Wade and was sworn to secrecy.

No one told Wade’s wife, also a missionary, what he had done, court records show.

His daughter was never again asked about the abuse, which continued, even after she attempted suicide at 15.

“I felt stupid for having told anything to anybody,” she later testified. “The concern was for my father. … It didn’t matter what happened to me.”

The practice of the Southern Baptist mission board — the world’s largest sponsor of Protestant missionaries — has been for years to keep misconduct reports inside the hierarchy of the organization, a Houston Chronicle investigation reveals. The board is a massive charitable organization that as of 2018 fielded more than 3,600 missionaries and “team associates” overseas and managed an annual budget of $158 million or more, nearly all tithes from members of churches that belong to the Southern Baptist Convention.

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Sponsors of sex-abuse legislation angry over change to R.I. Senate bill

PROVIDENCE (RI)
Providence Journal

May 30, 2019

By Katherine Gregg

On the day the House overwhelmingly approved a bill to give victims of childhood sexual abuse more time to sue, Senate leaders served notice they will not support a key feature of the bill that leaves the door ajar for suits based on recovered memories against institutions — such as the Catholic Church and the Boy Scouts — that failed to protect victims from their molesters.

“It looks like the church [has a seat] at the table over in the Senate,” fumed the lead House sponsor, Rep. Carol Hagan McEntee, on Thursday morning, on the day after the Senate Judiciary Committee posted a reworked, and conflicting, version of the bill for a vote on Thursday night.

Several of the past victims of clergy sex abuse — including McEntee’s now-66-year-old sister, Ann Hagan Webb, and Dr. Herbert “Hub” Brennan — raced to the State House in hopes of dissuading the senators from approving what they viewed as a weaker version of the bill that in Brennan’s words “is really a shadow of what needs to be done.”

“It is sacrificing the welfare of children at the altar of the Catholic Church,” Webb told reporters.

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Clergy abuse survivors, others hope for offers higher than $5.6M for former Accion Hotel

GUAM
Pacific Daily News

May 31, 2019

By Haidee V Eugenio

Prospective buyers can make offers on the former Accion Hotel in Yona up to Aug. 8, which is the eve of a federal court hearing on the Archdiocese of Agana’s ongoing bankruptcy case.

Proceeds of the property sale will go toward paying more than 200 Guam clergy sex abuse claims against the archdiocese, which filed for reorganization bankruptcy protection in January.

The archdiocese, through Idaho-based Attorney Ford Elsaesser, agreed with creditors’ request to extend the purchase period, but told the court on Friday about the risk of losing the cash offers that are already on the table.

2 purchase offers
These are the $5.35 million from TF Investment LLC, and $5.6 million from Dr. Saied Safabakhsh, a nephrologist and owner of dialysis centers on Guam.

TF Investment’s president is Chieng Tan, who is also president of GPPC Inc., which has been a longtime contractor on Guam, Saipan and other parts of Micronesia.

Safabakhsh, known in the community as “Dr. Safa,” intends to turn the former Yona hotel into a clinic, according to real estate broker Alliance Realty LLC.

Both TF Investment and Safabakhsh made an earnest deposit of $100,000 each, and both are ready to close the deal as soon as the federal court approves the sale, Elsaesser said.

Minnesota-based Attorney Edwin Caldie, counsel for the unsecured creditors committee that includes clergy sex abuse survivors, asked the court for a 120-day or four-month period to continue to find buyers for the property for a higher price.

“We do not believe the property was robustly marketed internationally,” Caldie told the court.

The archdiocese listed the Yona property in 2018 for $7.5 million.

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Diocese of Buffalo is Endangering the Faithful

Patheos blog

May 30, 2019

By Mary Pezzulo

I have, on and off, been following the case of the seminarians in the Diocese of Buffalo who were allegedly subjected to sexual harassment and faced a backlash when they went to the press.

Now, another article has come to my attention, about that same seminary and the diocese of Buffalo.

WKBW Buffalo is reporting that the diocese of Buffalo has found three priests guilty of sexual misconduct– and the bishop is returning two of them to active ministry.

Father Joseph C. Gatto was accused of “improper conduct” with adults– please note the plural, “adults” and not one adult, he allegedly made sexual advances at two different men who came to him for counseling and engaged in “sexual activity” with a seminarian– while he was rector of Christ the King seminary and temporarily suspended. He was sent for “treatment” at a facility in Toronto where the diocese has sent sexually abusive priests before. He’s now being returned to active ministry.

Father Samuel T. Giangreco, Junior, was suspended for “a complaint involving a female.” WKBW says that a source tells them that the victim of sexual harassment was a married woman of the parish. He “underwent professional evaluation and remedial measures” as well, and is being returned to ministry.

Father Michael P. Juran was accused of sexually abusing children, and these accusations were “substantiated;” he, at least, will not be allowed back into ministry. But the in the other two cases, the sexual misconduct “did not rise to the level that would require removal from active priestly ministry” in the diocese’s opinion. Those two priests were sent to therapy for a very short time– it must have been short, because Gatto was only suspended in September. And now they’ll be sent back to working with the men, women and children in the Catholic Church.

It feels almost futile to speak out at this point, but then again, I can’t very well remain silent.

Do you know what “remedial therapy” measures have been proven 100% effective to stop sexual abusers from ever abusing again?

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

New Records Detail Items Seized from Dallas Catholic Diocese

DALLAS (TX)
NBCDFW TV

May 29, 2019

New court records detail the records seized about alleged sexual misconduct in raids earlier this month at three Dallas Catholic Diocese locations.

The May 15 raids at the Diocese headquarters at 3725 Blackburn Street, St. Cecelia Church in Oak Cliff and a storage locker on Ledbetter Drive in Southern Dallas were authorized in a search warrant affidavit from Dallas Police Detective David Clark, signed by Judge Brandon Birmingham.

The new evidence inventory includes electronic and paper records, financial, insurance and lawsuit information. Documents concerning deceased Bishops Thomas Tschoepe and Charles Grahmann are mentioned.

The search warrant affidavit said police were seeking records concerning accusations about five former priests including Edmundo Paredes who served at St. Cecelia, but is believed to have left the country.

Attorney Sergio Aleman who has sued the Diocese on behalf of alleged victims of Paredes said some of the seized evidence concerns his case and he could not comment on specific details of the evidence.

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

Bishops of East Africa develop handbook to guide child protection

NAIROBI (KENYA)
Catholic News Service

May 30, 2019

By Francis Njuguna

Catholic bishops of East Africa have introduced a handbook to assist church leaders develop standards to safeguard the safety of children.

Titled “Child Safeguarding – Standards and Guidelines: A Catholic Guide for Policy Development” was introduced May 29 in the Kenyan capital May 29 by the Association of Member Episcopal Conferences in Eastern Africa, known as AMECEA.

The release followed a three-day child safety seminar May 28-30 attended by bishops, clergy, religious men and women and laypeople working in various ministries.

George Thuku, AMECEA’s child protection officer, said the handbook is expected to be used by each national bishops’ conference throughout the region as they establish their own safeguarding policies.

“Each of the national episcopal conferences should ensure that it has officially launched its national policy on the issue, child safeguarding,” Thuku said.

Father Emmanuel Chimombo, director of AMECEA’s Pastoral Department, explained that the handbook sets the minimum requirements for individual bishops’ conferences to follow.

“The document is not everything, but has a minimum standards and guidelines that the church in the region can effectively use to tackle matters pertaining to the child safeguarding and protection,” he said.

The handbook includes guidelines on funding the establishment and implementation of child protection policies.

“There should be other avenues through which the issue (of) child safeguarding and protection could equally be tackled under some of the already existing policies within the church structure,” Thuku said during the handbook’s introduction.

Afterward, the release, Archbishop Ignatius Chama of Kasama, Zambia, told Catholic News Service that the handbook builds on the discussions by the heads of the world’s bishops’ conferences during the Vatican summit on child protection in February.

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

Why Society Goes Easy on Rapists

NEW YORK (NY)
Slate Magazine

May 30, 2019

By Lili Loofbourow

I started compiling a list of sexual assailants who got no prison time almost by accident. Twitter makes it easy: You stumble across a case where a man in Anchorage, Alaska, spent no time behind bars for strangling to unconsciousness a woman he masturbated on. You tweet it. Then you read about the Texas doctor who went free after assaulting a patient while she was sedated. You note similarities. Then you read about the high school girl who reported her rape immediately, to no avail—police never even spoke to the alleged attackers. You tack one story like this onto the other, you thread them, and suddenly you have a string of anecdotes that, without much system or method, seems to describe an America disinclined to punish sexual assault. It’s a list that leaves most people who read it terribly angry, including me.

But—and this is maybe the surprising thing—that anger started bugging me. Not because anger isn’t warranted, but because my list a) inflames it and b) seems to imply that the solutions are simple and obvious when they aren’t. Worse still, there’s something almost involuntary about the response: It’s hard not to rage at this collection of facts I’ve strung together. Especially if they’re taken in conjunction with the ongoing evidence of our broken criminal justice system. It’s just so easy to make comparisons: A rapist got no jail time, but a homeless man was sentenced to three to six years for attempting to buy toothpaste and food with a counterfeit $20 bill. Sit back and watch the retweets flow.

The trouble with the anger that a thread like mine provokes—which is ostensibly just pointing out the ways we fail to punish rape—is that it twists all too easily into a call for more punishment. Lists have a rhetoric. They tend asymptotically toward specific arguments, and the implication of mine gave me pause. We know what lies down that road because we’ve tried it: Stricter sentencing guidelines, for instance, always hit minorities and disadvantaged people first and hardest. If anger is an engine, the risk is always that even with good intentions it will power bad outcomes—especially when that anger feels justified by facts. My list represents a set of perfectly true facts. But it gives the impression that those facts are all you need to know about how our society deals with sexual crimes. The thread isn’t properly contextualized. It’s just a string of rage-inducing anecdotes, a random compilation of upsetting incidents that came to my attention precisely because they were scandalous. On its own, in other words, the list isn’t proof of anything.

But when it comes to sexual assault, ditching emotion and sticking to facts isn’t as easy as it sounds, for the simple reason that feelings have already clouded what we can know. Sympathy and suspicion—for suspects and victims, respectively—factor powerfully into every aspect of how law enforcement deals with sexual crimes, fogging up the numbers or erasing them altogether. When you look for facts, what you find is that the few we have are woefully insufficient. Sexual assault is massively underreported, and even when victims come forward, convictions are rare. According to RAINN, only 5 out of every 1,000 rapes committed—that’s 0.5 percent—ends in a felony conviction. The Washington Post puts the figure at 7 out of 1,000, but pretty much everyone agrees it’s under 1 percent. We usually try to make sense of this painfully low number by noting that many rapes aren’t reported, which is true, but the crime is also notoriously under-investigated.

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

Southern Baptist Membership Hits New Low as Church Tackles Abuse, Racism, and Role of Women

VIRGINIA BEACH (VA)
Christian Broadcast Network

May 30, 2019

For the first time in 30 years, membership with Southern Baptist Churches is at a record low.

New numbers from Southern Baptist Churches show that membership fell from approximately 15 million to 14.8 million in 2018. This is the first time in 30 years that it’s been below 15 million.

The denomination will hold its annual meeting in Birmingham, Alabama in two weeks where the decline will be discussed. Other talking points at the convention will be abuse, racism and women in the church.

President of the Southern Baptists’ Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission Dr. Russell Moore confirmed that membership decline has been a steady issue.

“This is a problem that is long running. It has to do with a number of things. One of those things has to do with secularization and the outside society, but more than that is the issue within the church. Both in terms of fervency for evangelism and also in terms of moral credibility,” he said, referring to recent sex abuse scandals in the church.

Southern Baptists launched a task force last year to study sexual abuse within the church. Dr. Moore said they’ve begun making successful strides in this area.

“The advisory study group has been working all year. They have really been working very hard and will be bringing a series of recommendations to the convention. This is the beginning of what really has to be year after year after year of vigilance and reform when it comes to these issues.”

Dr. Moore agreed that the SBC should take steps to actively remove churches that respond poorly to abuse disclosures. When combating racism, he talked about unity and fellowship.

“I am hoping for, at the annual meaning, continued emphasis on what Jesus has taught us on what His kingdom is to look like, which is a kingdom of people tearing down carnal divisions loving each other and also standing up for one another and bearing one another’s burdens, and so I am hoping that that will be the tenor of this year’s meeting as well.”

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

2nd offer for former Accion Hotel is $5.6M, to help pay 200-plus clergy sex abuse claims

GUAM
Pacific Daily News

May 31, 2019

By Haidee Eugenio

The Archdiocese of Agana received a second offer to buy its Yona property for $5.6 million, higher than the initial offer they received, documents filed in the federal bankruptcy court shows.

Proceeds of the sale of the former Accion Hotel will help the archdiocese pay more than 200 Guam clergy sex abuse claims.

The archdiocese listed the property in 2018 for $7.5 million.

The archdiocese in January sought bankruptcy protection to keep its churches, schools, soup kitchen and other social services open while at the same time be able to settle the abuse claims.

The archdiocese received a May 15 offer from Saied Safabakhsh to buy the former Accion Hotel.

Safabakhsh, a medical doctor who owns dialysis centers on Guam, made an earnest deposit of $100,000 for the proposed purchase.

Previously, TF Investment LLC offered to buy the same property for a revised price of $5.35 million. TF Investment’s president is Chieng Tan, who is also president of GPPC Inc., which has been a longtime contractor on Guam, Saipan and other parts of Micronesia.

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Fr. Fred Lenczycki Convicted, SNAP Responds

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

May 30, 2019

One of the most notorious and prolific US predator priests has pled guilty today to more child sex crimes and faces sentencing soon. He worked in Chicago and St. Louis areas and elsewhere.

We are relieved that Fr. Fred Lenczycki’s brave victims won’t have to endure a trial. We remain deeply grateful to and impressed by the two St. Louis men who stuck their necks out so that others will not have to worry about Fr. Lenczycki being around children or vulnerable adults in the future. Their willingness to come forward has likely spared others from the horrific pain of sexual abuse.

For the safety of children, we hope Fr. Lenczycki gets the longest possible sentence.

And while Fr. Lenczycki has now been convicted, we hope that others who saw, suspected or suffered Fr. Lenczycki’s crimes will avoid the temptation to stay silent. Every time a survivor, witness or whistleblower finds the courage to speak up, more of the truth is revealed, and informed communities are better able to safeguard the vulnerable.

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

Whistleblowing Mom Who Reported Fr. Geoghan Passes Away

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

May 30, 2019

A brave, persistent Catholic mom who tried diligently to protect others from Boston’s most notorious predator priest has passed away. Seven boys in her extended family were molested by the cleric, Fr. John Geoghan.

Maryetta Dussourd is a hero, plain and simple. Long before anyone had heard the phrases ‘pedophile priests’ or ‘child molesting clerics’ or ‘church abuse crisis,’ she worked long and hard to warn others about dangerous men like Fr. Geoghan.

We extend our deepest condolences to her loved ones. We hope they take comfort in the fact that Maryetta led the kind of life she read about in the Bible and heard about in church – one of compassion, love and sacrifice and one that the rest of us can admire and try to emulate.

We are very glad Maryetta lived long enough to see attorneys general across the US investigating dioceses, see Vatican officials finally take at least minimal steps and – most important – see thousands of survivors of pedophile priests be believed as they came forward to expose their abusers, thereby making our society and her church safer for all.

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Columbus Diocese adds 4 names to priest sex-abuse list

COLUMBUS (OH)
Columbus Dispatch

May 30, 2019

By Danae King

The Roman Catholic Diocese of Columbus has added four names to its website list of priests credibly accused of sexual abuse of minors.

The list was initially released on March 1 with 34 names on it. On March 5, the diocese added two more names.

The four names added May 23 were the late Rev. Walter H. Horan, also known as Walter Hubert Maria Horan; the Rev. Stephan L. Johnson, also known as Stephan Leslie Johnson; the late Rev. Francis M. Sweeney, also known as Francis Michael Sweeney; and the late Rev. John J. Walsh.

All are names the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP) has previously called on the diocese to add, saying they were made public before the diocese’s original list came out.

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Priest labeled as sexually violent admits Missouri crimes

ST. LOUIS (MO)
Associated Press

The man who became the first U.S. priest to be labeled sexually violent for crimes in Illinois has admitting abusing two boys in Missouri.

Fred Lenczycki pleaded guilty Wednesday to two counts of sodomy for crimes that occurred in the early 1990s, when he was serving at a parish in north St. Louis County. Church and court files show that Lenczycki admitted abusing up to 30 boys in Illinois, Missouri and California over 25 years.

Lenczycki, now 74 and living in suburban Chicago, admitted in the latest case to grabbing the genitals of one boy and trying to force the other to expose himself. The crimes occurred from 1991 to 1994.

Lenczycki was charged in February, and he is scheduled to be sentenced in August.

One of the Missouri victims, 38-year-old Ron Kanady, said Thursday that the guilty plea was vindication.”I am so relieved that justice finally didn’t give up on me,” Kanady told The Associated Press. “For all those years, people looked the other way, it felt like. And now, finally, something’s being done.”

Lenczycki was removed from the ministry in 2002, when he was charged with sexually abusing three boys in the 1980s at a church in Hinsdale, Illinois. The Illinois victims told authorities “Father Fred” repeatedly molested them, often using the pretense of swaddling them in “Baby Jesus” costumes for pageants that never took place.

He pleaded guilty in 2004 and was sentenced to five years in prison. In 2008, a year before his release, he became the first U.S. priest to be labeled sexually violent when he was committed under Illinois’ Sexually Violent Persons Commitment Act.Lenczycki’s attorney, Matthew Radefeld, declined comment.

Victims of clergy sexual abuse have demanded more accountability and transparency from the Catholic church since last year, when a Pennsylvania report detailed seven decades of child sexual abuse by more than 300 predator priests. The Vatican convened a sexual abuse summit in February to hear the testimony of several victims.In addition to the criminal cases, Lenczycki is named in several lawsuits.

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Church’s astonishing defence ignores royal commission’s findings on notorious paedophile priest

ULTIMO (AUSTRALIAN)
Australian Broadcasting Company

May 30, 2019

By Louise Milligan

As Australia’s five-year Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Abuse drew to a close in 2017, it felt as if the winds of change were blowing through the Catholic Church.

Five Australian bishops stood up in the commission courtroom and made a public and historic act of contrition for its terrible history of clergy abuse.

Archbishop of Sydney Anthony Fisher described the response of the church to allegations of child sex abuse as “criminally negligent”, Archbishop Mark Coleridge of Brisbane said the defence of the church made the clergy “blind to individuals” and Archbishop Denis Hart of Melbourne said, “[Archbishops] just didn’t drill down to the reality … They just sort of floated above it”.

“The way we act now is very, very different,” said Archbishop Hart, who has since retired.

Fast forward two years, in the Supreme Court of Victoria in the case of JCB v Bishop Paul Bird for the Diocese of Ballarat, and you might question that last claim.

Here were lawyers for the very same Catholic Church launching a defence which rejected some of the royal commission’s key findings in relation to one of its most notorious paedophile priests.

The many good Catholics who espouse Christian values of decency and kindness and social justice might question the expenditure of the proceeds of their collective collection plates to mount that defence.

The case refers to one Gerald Ridsdale — not just Australia’s most prolific paedophile priest, but one of the country’s worst paedophiles full stop — and the knowledge of his offending by the then-bishop of Ballarat, the now-deceased Ronald Mulkearns.

Lawyers for the church in the case minimised Mulkearns’ knowledge of Ridsdale’s prior offending in 1982, when the victim, JCB, was anally raped at the age of nine in Mortlake, a tiny town in Victoria’s western district.

Internal church documents tendered to the commission suggested every boy in one class at the Mortlake parish school, St Colman’s, was abused.

Ridsdale himself told Catholic Church insurers he “went haywire there. Altar boys, mainly”.

“Mortlake imploded over the Ridsdale saga,” Broken Rites advocate Dr Wayne Chamley told me.

“The whole family networks just started tearing themselves apart over what happened — the shocking tragedy in that town.”

In a pre-trial judgment in the JCB v Bishop Bird case before the courts now, Justice Michael McDonald alluded to the church seeking to wind back what Mulkearns knew about Ridsdale before he allowed this tragedy to occur.

“By their defence, the defendants have put in issue the extent of Mulkearns’ knowledge of Ridsdale’s inappropriate sexual behaviour with minors prior to Ridsdale’s appointment at Mortlake,” Justice McDonald wrote in the judgement.

The judge pointed out that in doing so, they contradict the church’s own submissions to the royal commission via its Truth Justice and Healing Commission.

This is an astonishing claim given that from 1993, the church’s own insurers would not indemnify for claims past 1975 because of the knowledge that the Ballarat Diocese had of Ridsdale’s offending.

This case is historic because it is the first case in Victoria since the State Government eliminated what was known as “The Ellis Defence” — the controversial precedent that the Catholic Church had no legal personality and therefore could not be sued.

It’s high stakes and the Diocese of Ballarat, just as it did before the royal commission exposed its terrible history, is strenuously defending the case.

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

Former priest threatens action against AG

HURON (MI)
Huron Daily Tribune

May 28, 2019

By Bradley Massman

A priest who has been temporarily removed from the ministry since 2016, and currently resides in Port Austin, has indicated he wants to sue Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel.

“A lawsuit will be filed by week’s end with the finest prosecuting attorney in MI (Michigan) to sue the Catholic axe-grinding same-gender attracted AG Nessel,” Lawrence Ventline stated in an email CC’d to the Tribune on Tuesday.

Ventline, who resides in the Port Austin area, is currently facing licensing action by Nessel’s office.

Nessel, on Friday, said Ventline allegedly sexually assaulted a Michigan resident, and is still actively counseling children.

The sexual assault investigation was conducted by Oakland County Sheriff’s Office.

The Tribune contacted the Oakland County Sheriff’s Office on Friday for more information on the incident after speaking with Ventline, who continuously said his case was dismissed in Oakland.

A sergeant with the sheriff’s office told the Tribune that Ventline’s case was “still pending further investigation.”

However, on Tuesday, Oakland County Sheriff’s Lt. Dan Toth, told the Tribune that is not the case.

“If that’s an error on our part, we apologize for that,” Toth said, adding the case is closed.

“The bottom line with us is we opened up an investigation in 2016,” he added. “It was closed in early 2017, and we cannot substantiate the allegation. We can’t unsubstantiate it.”

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Catholic priest vows lawsuit against AG Nessel after his counseling license suspended

PORT AUSTIN (MI)
Saginaw News

May 30, 2019

By Cole Waterman

A Catholic priest restricted from religious work by the Archdiocese of Detroit based on a sexual assault allegation said he plans to sue Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel for suspending his counseling license, a newspaper reports.

Nessel on Friday, May 24, announced she was charging five priests who once ministered throughout the state with a total of 21 counts of criminal sexual conduct. She also stated her office was suspending Lawrence M. Ventline’s license to practice as a limited-license counselor.

In a May 15 order of summary suspension, Nessel alleges Ventline sexually assaulted an 11-year-old boy during the 1989-1990 school year, when Ventline was a pastor in a parish and school within the Archdiocese of Detroit.

Kelly Rossman-McKinney, communications director for the Attorney General’s Office, told MLive/The Saginaw News Nessel could not criminally charge Ventline due to the statute of limitations running out. The case had been investigated by Oakland County Sheriff’s Office personnel.

Ventline is now 70 and lives in the Port Austin area of Huron County.

The Huron Daily Tribune reports it received a copy of an email from Ventline after Nessel’s announcement, in which he claims he will file a lawsuit to sue the “Catholic axe-grinding same-gender attracted AG Nessel.”

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

Buffalo Diocese affirms abuse allegations against priest, returns two to ministry

BUFFALO (NY)
Buffalo News

May 30, 2019

By Jay Tokasz

Allegations of child sexual abuse against the Rev. Michael P. Juran were substantiated by Buffalo Diocese Bishop Richard J. Malone after an investigation, and Juran will remain on administrative leave while the Vatican reviews the decision, Malone said Thursday morning.

An allegation of child sex abuse against the Rev. Robert M. Yetter was not substantiated, but Yetter will remain on administrative leave as the diocese continues to investigate allegations of adult sexual abuse by the former pastor of St. Mary Church in Swormville.

Two other priests who have been on leave since last fall due to complaints of misconduct with adults will be returned to ministry, said Malone.

A Diocesan Review Board found that improper conduct by the Rev. Joseph C. Gatto, former president-rector of Christ the King Seminary in East Aurora, and the Rev. Samuel T. Giangreco Jr., associate pastor of Our Lady of Victory Basilica, did not rise to the level that would require removal from active ministry, Malone said.

Gatto, 61, who was suspended in September, said in an interview with The News at the time that he made no sexual advances on anyone, after a television station reported that a local man had accused him of improper advances in 2000.

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Roman Catholic Faithful founder vows to get to bottom of Harrison allegations

BAKERSFIELD (CA)
The Californian

May 30, 2019

By Joseph Luiz

The founder and president of a national Catholic advocacy group vowed Wednesday to get to the bottom of the allegations made against Monsignor Craig Harrison.

Stephen G. Brady of the Roman Catholic Faithful — a group whose self-professed goal is to rid the church of clerical corruption — said he is in the process of going through his old files hoping to uncover information that could be useful in his investigation into Harrison’s alleged misconduct.

He said he also plans to work with local law enforcement and track down leads provided by alleged victims in the hopes that he will get to the bottom of the situation.

“I’m going to dig and I’m not going to stop digging,” he said at a press conference held at the Holiday Inn & Suites in Bakersfield. “One way or another, we’re going to prove Father Harrison’s innocence or guilt.”

Harrison’s attorney, Kyle Humphrey, said today’s press conference perpetuates unfounded allegations.

“These are the same unsubstantiated lies (he’s) been pushing since 2004. There’s no new information here,” he said. “He’s just raising his fists in protest.”

The conference was held after Brady provided The Californian and other news agencies letters from the early 2000s that he recovered detailing allegations that Harrison had sex with two high school students while he was a pastor in Firebaugh.

According to the documents, Harrison would also examine boys’ private parts every morning to check whether they were using drugs.

The accusations surfaced as part of an unrelated investigation conducted in 2004 by a retired FBI agent in Merced.

Brady said he feels Harrison’s family knows more than they’re letting on about the allegations, as two of the alleged incidents took place in the bedroom of one of Harrison’s adopted sons.

In the other case, in which Harrison allegedly had sex with a minor in the back of the priest’s Ford Explorer, the accuser specifically mentions being on a high school football team with Harrison’s son Herculano.

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Letter: Teachers must report sex abuse — why not clergy?

SAN JOSE (CA)
Bay Area News Group

May 30, 2019

Re: “Should California force priests to report child-molestation confessions?” (Mercurynews.com, May 26)

I support the bill that would require priests to report. This bill is under fire due to the arguments surrounding religious freedom, however, this bill does not infringe on any religious rights.

The purpose of it is purely to protect children who are being abused by people who confess the act without any repercussions. The Senate passed a bill that requires that clergy will have to report sexual abuse when they hear it in confession. Before, clergy would hear confessions and were not legally responsible for reporting it.

It is important the bill passed because, similar to teachers, church clergy are community members who victims and abusers trust and come to when they need help. And since teachers are responsible to report sexual abuse, why shouldn’t church clergy?

Madeline Glynn
San Jose

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The Catholic Church Still Isn’t There on Abuse Prevention

Patheos blog

May 30, 2019

By Libby Anne

Two stories came across my radar earlier this month. Each dealt with different aspects of what the Catholic Church is (and is not) doing on preventing child sexual abuse. The upshot is this: the Church is still dragging its heals. Preventing child sexual abuse and holding abusers accountable is simply not on the top of their priority list. Instead, they’re prioritizing things like protecting the Church from local hostility, and ensuring that penitents have access to confession and the forgiveness it brings, without having to face legal consequences for their actions.

First, there was this article:

Pope Francis issues groundbreaking law requiring priests, nuns to report sex abuse, cover-up

The law mandates that the world’s 415,000 Catholic priests and 660,000 religious sisters inform church authorities when they have “well-founded motives to believe” abuse has occurred.

This is good, right? Well, sort of. The problem is that this new regulation still does not require priests to report sexual abuse (including sexual abuse of children) to local law enforcement. No, really. Have a look:

The law doesn’t require them to report to police. The Vatican has long argued that doing so could endanger the church in places where Catholics are a persecuted minority. But it does for the first time put into universal church law that they must obey civil reporting requirements where they live, and that their obligation to report to the church in no way interferes with that.

Reporting child sexual abuse … could endanger the church? This logic seems suspect to me. Maybe don’t abuse children if you’re worried that civil authorities will be angry with you for abusing children.

The regulation says that the priests and other Catholic Church employees must obey civil reporting requirements where they’re located. Okay. However, many countries don’t have mandatory reporting laws. Additionally, it seems odd to me that one universal organization could have such different rules on something like reporting child sexual abuse. Isn’t part of the point that you can walk into any Catholic Church in the world and find the same prayers, the same rituals, the same format and structure? Why not have something universal here, as well?

Look, I’m glad that priests and nuns will now be required to report suspicions of abuse to church authorities. But I don’t for a minute trust those authorities to do the right thing with that information.

Case in point, the next article. This is an article in a Catholic newspaper. It’s written by Bishop Robert Barron of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles. Barron is upset about a bill before the legislature in California.

SB 360, a piece of proposed legislation currently making its way through the California state senate, should alarm not only every Catholic in the country, but indeed the adepts of any religion. In California, as in almost every other state, clergy members (along with a variety of other professionals, including physicians, social workers, teachers, and therapists) are mandated reporters — which is to say, they are legally required to report any case of suspected child abuse or neglect to law enforcement. However, California clergy who come by this knowledge in the context of “penitential communication” are currently exempted from the requirement. SB 360 would remove the exemption.

Oh lord. Seriously.

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

Catholic Nuns Have Also Sexually Abused Children, and Survivors Are Speaking Out

Friendly Atheist blog

May 30, 2019

By Hemant Mehta

It’s not just Catholic priests who molest children. Catholic nuns do it too.

Trish Cahill tells NPR’s Laura Benshoff in a piece today that she was just 15 when a nun invited her to her home — and the teenager was thrilled to have that opportunity and attention. That only lasted a short while.

… during an outing to a house at the Jersey shore, Cahill said the nun gave her tea laced with intoxicants.

“She took me into the bedroom and I passed out,” said Cahill. “I was not conscious. I was not able to make a decision.” She said this was the first time the religious sister sexually assaulted her, and the start of an abusive dynamic that would last for more than a decade.

The website Bishop Accountability says there are about 100 nuns with credible allegations of abuse against them. They may be even more difficult to prosecute, though, because in addition to all the obstacles that exist for survivors of abuse from priests, women aren’t seen as abusers in general and nuns, specifically, are usually out of the media glare that now accompanies abusive priests. And if the survivors are girls, they run the risk of being shamed for taking part in a “lesbian” relationship (even though it wasn’t a relationship or consensual).

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SNAP Calls on Archbishop Gregory to Make McCarrick Review Public

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

May 30, 2019

The Archdiocese of Washington DC has completed a review of disgraced Cardinal Theodore McCarrick’s personal correspondence and forwarded the results to Rome, according to a Catholic news source. Now we call on newly-installed DC Archbishop Wilton Gregory to immediately make this review public.

What better way to prove to his parishioners and the public that he is committed to transparency? Some of this correspondence has already been made public by Monsignor Anthony J. Figueiredo, so it should be easy for Archbishop Gregory to do the same. The Archbishop has long talked the talk of openness about abuse. Now it is time for him to walk the walk.

The sooner every person who saw, suspected or suffered wrongdoing by the former Cardinal comes forward, the closer we will be to knowing the truth about every person who ignored or hid Cardinal McCarrick’s wrongdoing. When these truths are revealed, it will help to ensure that innocent children and vulnerable adults will be safer and that future secrecy will be deterred.

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New complaint against French priest-therapist

(PARIS) FRANCE
LaCroix International

May 30, 2019

By Céline Hoyeau

The latest alleged victim of Father Tony Anatrella, a priest and psychoanalyst who has been the subject of accusations by his former patients for more than 15 years, was a minor at the time of the events in question.

Father Anatrella was well-known in Rome as an advisor to several Vatican offices. His ecclesiastical counselor, who has consistently denied any inappropriate gesture by his client, did not respond to questions from La Croix.

Anatrella, 77, was earlier accused of having practiced “body therapy” in order to “heal” homosexuality and of having been involved in sexual abuse. On the basis of information gathered during a preliminary investigation, Archbishop Michel Aupetit of Paris had ruled that “no priestly ministry will henceforth be granted to him.”

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Double-barreled McCarrick news perfectly captures accountability challenge

ROME (ITALY)
Crux

May 30, 2019

By John L. Allen Jr.

Sometimes the fates who govern the news business have a wicked sense of timing. After a long stretch of relative quiet regarding Theodore McCarrick, the ex-cardinal who was defrocked over sexual misconduct and abuse charges, Tuesday brought not one but two major new developments.

Crux, along with CBS, published correspondence from McCarrick confirming that he was placed under Vatican restrictions in 2008, claiming that Cardinal Donald Wuerl (the Archbishop of Washington at the time) was aware of those restrictions despite his denials, and also revealing that McCarrick played a major role in backchannel diplomacy with China under Pope Francis.

Roughly an hour after our story broke, a new interview with Francis by Mexican journalist Valentina Alazraki made the rounds, in which the pontiff insisted “I knew nothing, obviously, nothing, nothing,” about accusations against McCarrick.

To be clear, the two stories do not contradict one another. While the correspondence at the heart of the Crux report clearly suggests that senior officials under Pope emeritus Benedict XVI knew about the informal restrictions and did not obstruct McCarrick from gradually returning to his activities, they do not speak to what Francis or his team knew.

However, the double whammy of these two stories coming at once does neatly illustrate two of the major questions left hanging by the McCarrick case, which in turn encapsulates the meta-narrative of the entire saga.

One of those hanging questions, obviously, is what Wuerl knew and when he knew it.

One piece of the correspondence in Tuesday’s Crux piece is an August 25, 2008, letter from McCarrick to the late Italian Archbishop Pietro Sambi, at the time the Vatican’s ambassador in the U.S., referring to an earlier letter in which the Vatican restrictions were outlined. McCarrick said he wanted to discuss some points in that letter “having shared it with my Archbishop,” meaning Wuerl.

In comments to Crux, however, a spokesman for Wuerl denied that Wuerl ever knew about the restrictions. The clear implication is that McCarrick was lying in his letter to Sambi, misrepresenting the extent to which Wuerl was informed and supportive.

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Victims in religious institutions less likely to report sexual abuse, says inquiry

LONDON (ENGLAND)
The Independent

May 30, 2019

By Maya Oppenheim

Children who suffer sexual abuse are significantly less likely to report it if it is being perpetrated in a religious institution, according to a major analysis of survivors’ experiences.

A study by the Truth Project, part of the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA), drew upon the experiences of 183 individuals who were abused as children in religious institutions, or by clergy or church staff in other settings.

Almost half said they knew of someone else being abused at the time, but more than two-thirds said they had not reported it – a figure that dropped to 54 per cent among victims in non-religious settings.

Survivors said shame and guilt had prevented them from coming forward, and called for an end to the secrecy that often surrounds religious institutions, saying it enables abusers to operate with impunity.

One survivor, Lucy*, told the inquiry that the abuse she suffered after her family became involved with the Jesus Fellowship Church – formerly known as the Jesus Army – left her with serious mental health problems she is still coping with in her forties.

She said her parents were “brainwashed” by the church, which took all her toys from her when they joined – even her comfort blanket – and made her sleep in the same room with strange adults.

“They were big, big houses with multiple rooms and they would let anyone in off the street,” she told The Independent.

“There were no safeguarding checks on anyone. Nobody was questioned. They let very vulnerable, often mentally unwell people from the streets and criminals in our environment. It meant there was never a safe space.

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Chilean bishop-elect apologizes for comments on abuse crisis, women

ROME (ITALY)
Crux

May 30, 2019

By Inés San Martín

After the uproar caused by his words regarding Chile’s clerical abuse scandals and the role of women in the Church, the newly appointed auxiliary bishop of Santiago apologized for his comments.

“I would like to sincerely ask for forgiveness for the pain and uncertainty my words might have caused,” Bishop-elect Carlos Irarrazaval said May 29.

The Vatican announced a week ago that Pope Francis had appointed him as an auxiliary bishop to Chile’s capital. A day later, Irarrazaval said it’s time to “look towards the future,” implying that the Church needed to put the clerical abuse crisis behind it, using the colloquialism, “stirring reheated rice is worthless.”

Chile is currently ground zero for the worldwide clerical abuse scandal. Santiago’s two living former archbishops have been subpoenaed by the local prosecutors’ office to testify on charges that they covered up cases of the abuse of minors.

But the bishop-elect had more things to say last week: In an interview with CNN Chile, he said that “since there was no woman seated at the table in the Last Supper,” women had no role in the Church. According to Irarrazaval, this was a choice Jesus made, and not “for ideological reasons.”

“Jewish culture is chauvinistic even today,” he’d said a few seconds earlier. “If you see a Jew walking down the street, the woman is 10 steps behind, but Jesus Christ breaks this dynamic; Jesus Christ speaks with women – with the adulterous woman, with the Samaritan woman – Jesus Christ allows for women to care for him. Who did he choose to announce [his] resurrection? Magdalena, a woman.”

In his apology, Irarrazaval said that he understands his comments on women and the “crisis we’re going through” were particularly painful.

“I am committed to working for the communion of the Church, knowing that in synodality we are all builders – women and men – with the richness of our differences, so that the Church becomes more welcoming and inclusive,” he wrote.

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Polish advocate for church victims resigns in scandal

WARSAW, POLAND
Associated Press

May 30, 2019

By Monika Scislowska

The founder and head of a Polish organization dedicated to helping victims of clerical sex abuse has resigned after allegations surfaced that he extorted money from a victim and demanded money from the producers of a documentary about clerical abuse.

The foundation “Have No Fear” said the head of its board, Marek Lisinski, resigned and that it has opened an internal audit into the allegations reported Thursday by the Gazeta Wyborcza daily.

In a post on Facebook, Lisinski denied the extortion allegation and insisted that he only borrowed money and intended to return it in December.

“The good of the survivors has always been the supreme goal for me,” Lisinski wrote.

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Pope Denies Prior Knowledge of Expelled Cardinal’s Sexual Misconduct

ROME (ITALY)
Reuters

May 29, 2019

By Philip Pullella

Pope Francis has denied he knew about sexual misconduct by former U.S. cardinal Theodore McCarrick before the start of Church investigations that found him guilty.

McCarrick, once one of the most powerful men in the U.S. Catholic hierarchy, was expelled from the Roman Catholic priesthood in February after he was found guilty of sexual crimes against minors and adults.

“I knew nothing about McCarrick, naturally nothing,” Francis said in an interview with Mexico’s Televisa broadcaster which was published in Vatican media on Tuesday. “Otherwise, I would not have remained silent.”

Last August, Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano issued a bombshell statement accusing a long list of current and past Vatican and Church officials in the United States of covering up for McCarrick, 88, the former archbishop of Washington, D.C.

Vigano, a former Vatican ambassador in Washington, said he told Francis shortly after his election in 2013 that McCarrick had preyed on adult seminarians for years.

Vigano claimed that Francis disregarded the information and effectively rehabilitated McCarrick, who had been quietly sanctioned by Francis predecessor, former Pope Benedict XVI, five years before Francis’ election in 2013.

Francis says he “does not remember” Vigano ever telling him.

The interview with the pope was published on the same day that Monsignor Anthony Figueiredo, McCarrick’s former priest-secretary, posted a document on the internet with excerpts of emails and letters between him and McCarrick.

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Former bishop not listed as ‘credibly accused,’ despite diocesan board’s finding

SPRINGFIELD (MA)
Berkshire Eagle

May 29, 2019

By Larry Parnass

When one of the longest-serving Western Massachusetts bishops was accused of child sexual abuse, a successor rose to his defense.

“I would hope that the names of good priests and bishops, who cannot defend themselves, are not being impugned for ulterior motives,” the Most Rev. Timothy A. McDonnell said of Christopher J. Weldon, the former bishop, said in a 2005 statement about a civil lawsuit.

“Nothing in our records … in any way would provide support for these allegations,” McDonnell said.

As of Wednesday afternoon, Weldon’s name did not appear on the diocese’s online list of “credibly accused clergy” — eight months after officials with the Springfield diocese came to a different conclusion about Weldon.

Last September, the Diocesan Review Board notified the Most Rev. Mitchell T. Rozanski that it found a Chicopee man’s story of his molestation by Weldon, more than half a century before, “compelling and credible.”

“We want to express our sincere sorrow for the pain and suffering you have endured,” the board wrote to the man, according to a letter obtained by The Eagle.

In addition to abuse by Weldon, the man told the board of molestation by two priests, the Rev. Edward Authier and the Rev. Clarence Forand.

“As we explained to you, the Board has no other authority except to notify the Bishop that we find your allegations credible,” the letter says.

The newspaper is withholding the man’s identity due to his wish to remain private.

As of Wednesday, the diocese also was not listing Authier as among “credibly accused” clergy. Forand’s name, though, is included under the category of “clergy who died after having been placed under the sanctions of the Essential Norms,” a reference to official Catholic Church policy on responding to abuse allegations.

That policy holds that “when even a single act of sexual abuse by a priest or deacon is admitted or is established after an appropriate process in accord with canon law, the offending priest or deacon will be removed permanently from the ecclesiastical ministry.”

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SNAP Applauds as Vermont Governor Signs SOL Reform into Law

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

May 30, 2019

We applaud lawmakers in Vermont, especially Rep. Martin LaLonde, for passing this important reform. This law amending the statute of limitations (SOL) is one of the strongest in the nation and the people of Vermont should be proud of their leadership on this issue.

With H.330 signed into law, Vermont is now the latest state to pass sweeping reform to their civil statute of limitations for cases of sexual violence. These changes come as more states around the country are amending their laws to reflect the realities of sexual violence: due to myriad factors such as the fear of being disbelieved or fear of retribution, the average age of a survivor coming forward is 52, and by the time most feel comfortable to come forward, they are barred by the statute of limitations.

Fortunately, that is no longer the case in Vermont.

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Survivors Of Sexual Abuse By Nuns Want Greater Visibility For Their Claims

WASHINGTON (DC)
National Public Radio

May 30, 2019

By Laura Benshoff

When Trish Cahill was 15, she received an unexpected request. A nun who taught at a Catholic high school near her home in Ridgewood, NJ., called her at home and invited her to perform at an upcoming ‘hootenanny’ mass.

“This was [the] 1960s, you know. Peter, Paul and Mary and all that,” said Cahill. “I didn’t really play guitar, but a nun — a nun! — asked me to.”

Cahill grew up in an Irish Catholic family and attended parochial schools. As invitations from the nun kept coming, she said she felt flattered by the attention and her family welcomed the nun into their home.

Then, during an outing to a house at the Jersey shore, Cahill said the nun gave her tea laced with intoxicants.

“She took me into the bedroom and I passed out,” said Cahill. “I was not conscious. I was not able to make a decision.” She said this was the first time the religious sister sexually assaulted her, and the start of an abusive dynamic that would last for more than a decade.

Similar sexual abuse allegations against Catholic clergy have been in the public eye for decades. In spite of this, victims of sexual misconduct by nuns, such as Cahill, say their claims have been swept aside in the larger reckoning around sexual abuse by male Catholic leaders.

That’s in part because church leadership has historically treated misconduct by diocesan priests as separate from accusations against members of religious orders, both male and female. Survivors also say the lack of awareness that nuns commit sexual abuse can make it harder to come forward.

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Letter: ‘Religious freedom’ no excuse to hide child sex abuse

SAN FRANCISCO (CA)
Bay Area News Group

May 29, 2019

In the May 26 East Bay Times front-page article, “State vs. Church: Senators want confessions of child abuse reported; clergy assert religious freedom,” readers learn that the California Senate resoundingly approved a bill that forces clergy who hear the confessions of child sexual abusers from another priest must report it.

The Senate bill will protect children from sexual abusers. However, the California Catholic Conference opposes the Senate bill and thinks it will dangerously weaken religious freedom.

Steven Pehanich, spokesman for the California Catholic Conference, doesn’t agree with the bill. He states it’s a slippery slope for priests to disclose a confession of sexually abusing a child.

No one wants the seal of confession to be used to protect child abusers. Are we really going to use the “confessional” and religious freedom as an excuse to hide sexual abuse of our precious children? Hopefully, we are better than that.

Jody Benkly
Walnut Creek

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Here’s what Dallas police seized from Catholic Diocese offices

DALLAS (TX)
Morning News

May 29, 2019

By Cassandra Jaramillo

During their raid on the Dallas Catholic Diocese offices earlier this month, police said they seized previous settlement agreements, files on former bishops and records from the diocesan review board, which looked into allegations of sexual abuse by priests.

Court records — first reported by WFAA-TV (Channel 8) and obtained Wednesday by The Dallas Morning News — detailed the numerous records police now have as they continue their investigation. Police are required to return an inventory of seized items to the judge who signed the search-warrant affidavit.

Police officials declined comment Wednesday, but have previously called the raid “wholly appropriate.” A detective wrote in a search warrant affidavit that during his investigation, he uncovered new allegations against five priests and that the diocese had stonewalled or handed over incomplete records for months.

The diocese, which has been shaken by allegations of sexual abuse for more than two decades, was critical of the raid. Bishop Edward Burns called the police action “unnecessary” and said church officials were cooperative despite the search warrant affidavit that said otherwise.

Annette Gonzales Taylor, a spokeswoman for the Catholic Diocese, said on Wednesday that church officials stand by their previous statements. She said Burns had given police “all of the files” regarding the five priests with allegations.

“We were aware of that they came in and took all of our records. We were not surprised by the inventory,” Gonzales Taylor said.

According to the search warrant return, Dallas police obtained insurance claims, terminated employee records, meeting notes, personnel movement letters and review board documents. Police also seized documents related to Bishop Charles Grahmann and Thomas Tschoepe, who previously led the diocese amid several sexual abuse scandals. Both are now dead.

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California Can’t Win its Confession Fight

WASHINGTON (DC)
National Review

By Delcan Leary

May 29, 2019

John of Nepomuk is a name not often heard these days; Wenceslaus IV, even more so. John was a Bohemian priest of the 14th century. As the story goes, he was the confessor to the queen, Wenceslaus’s wife. When John refused to reveal information divulged to him during the sacrament of confession, the king had him drowned in the river Vltava. John considered his religious obligation — the seal of the confessional, an absolute duty of confidentiality between priest and penitent — inviolable, no matter the objections of the secular authority or the punishments threatened.

Nearly 600 years later, at the height of the Cristero War in Mexico — a Catholic uprising against a militant secularist state — another priest, Mateo Correa Magallanes, was arrested while delivering communion to a woman who was unable to travel to Mass. At his captors’ request, Father Magallanes heard the confessions of a number of other prisoners. When General Eulogio Ortiz, commander of the unit that was holding him, demanded that Magallanes reveal what had been told to him in confession, the priest refused. He was shot the next morning.

The seal of the confessional is an ancient tradition of the Catholic Church. Father Pius Pietrzyk, O.P., a lawyer of both U.S. and canon law, has outlined the nature of the seal and the importance of protecting it. It has been enshrined in the law of the Church at least since the Fourth Lateran Council of 1215 and in practice is even older than that — as old, in fact, as the sacrament itself. For about as long as the sacrament and its seal have existed, there has been a history of secular authorities demanding its violation. To my knowledge, none has ever succeeded.

Nevertheless, they persist. Last week, the California senate passed S.B. 360, requiring priests to violate the seal of the confessional whenever the confession pertains to sexual abuse committed by another priest or employee of the Church. The motivation is understandable — the protection of children is of paramount concern, and an area where the Church has notoriously failed time and time again. But the proposal is, for one thing, unlikely to do any good to this end, even if priests comply; responding to the passage of similar laws in Australia, the Australian Conference of Catholic Bishops observed that “perpetrators of this terrible sin very rarely seek out confession, and if mandatory reporting of confessions were required, they would certainly not confess.” This is not a practical solution to the very real problem at hand. It is a blatant attempt to assert the authority of the secular state over the Church, and a clear violation of the right to religious liberty.

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Vatican Clarifies Pope Francis’ Comments on McCarrick

ROME (ITALY)
Catholic News Agency

May 29, 2019

By Allyson Escobar

The Vatican’s communications office has released a full transcript of Pope Francis’ interview with Televisa Mexican journalist Valentina Alazraki that revealed the pope’s more complete comments about what he knew about Theodore McCarrick, the former cardinal and archbishop of Washington, D.C., who is the highest-ranking Church clergy member in modern times to be defrocked.

Originally, the Vatican released a partial transcript of the interview in which Pope Francis denied knowing anything about McCarrick’s alleged sexual misconduct. The partial transcript left out the part of the interview in which Pope Francis said “he does not remember” what was told to him about McCarrick, according to the Associated Press.

The distinction is important because last August Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano, a former Vatican ambassador to the U.S., published documents that said Pope Francis knew about Church-imposed sanctions on then-Cardinal McCarrick, but made him a trusted aide anyway.

The Vatican press office didn’t comment on the distinction.

McCarrick, 88, was dismissed from the priesthood in February after a Church investigation confirmed his abuse of both minors and adults. McCarrick has denied that abuse.

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Catholic Church lawyers caught out playing hardball in explosive civil litigation case

BALLARAT (AUSTRALIA)
The Courier

May 29, 2019

By Andrew Thomson

IN a landmark case for survivors, Catholic Church lawyers have refused to acknowledge that former Bishop of Ballarat Ronald Mulkearns knew pedophile priest Gerald Ridsdale was a repeat offender.

A Ballarat diocese victim of Ridsdale is pursuing civil damages through the Victorian Supreme Court from current Bishop of Ballarat Paul Bird, on behalf of the diocese, and is currently involved in a highly adversarial court process as the church’s lawyers play tactical hardball.

The record for court judgement is about $1.25 million, although confidential settlements are understood to have reached $1.5 million.

No Catholic church abuse case has ever gone to judgement in civil court and payouts have been confidential.

The Ridsdale victim was just nine years old when he was raped in a confession box at Mortlake in April 1982.

He said today that it was a tragedy that his life, and the lives of so many other victims, had been ruined by the inaction of Bishop Mulkearns.

“I just wish that the abuse had never happened to anyone,” he said.

Victims are now extremely keen to test their cases in court.

They also want to go to court as a symbolic gesture to represent the many victims who have taken their own lives over the past 30 years.

The church’s representatives previously acknowledged during the Royal commission into Institutional Abuse that for Bishop Mulkearns to appoint Ridsdale to other parishes, after becoming aware that Ridsdale had offended while at Inglewood in 1975 and in the absence of any clearance from a psychologist or psychiatrist, was “inexcusably wrong”.

The church acknowledges there was a one-off incident involving Ridsdale at Inglewood, but denies it was ever known he had a propensity for offending.

An affidavit filed in the Supreme Court by Dr Christine Atmore, of Judy Courtin Legal, claimed former Bishop of Ballarat James O’Collins was informed in about 1963 that Ridsdale had abused a boy in North Ballarat.

The church admitted during the Royal commission that Bishop O’Collins informed Ridsdale there had been a complaint at that time, Ridsdale admitted he molested a boy and the bishop warned him if it happened again he would no longer be able to serve as a priest.

In the current court case, the church denies any knowledge of Ridsdale’s repeat offending before he went to Mortlake in the early 1980s.

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‘Passing the trash’ a problem for schools in Ohio and beyond

TOLEDO (OH)
The Blade

May 24, 2019

By Jay Skebba

When Patrick Murtha first came to Rossford Schools in search of a job, he told school board members that he was “looking for a change.”

It was 2004, and fresh off a stint in southern Ohio working as the Athens City Schools athletic director, Mr. Murtha said he wanted to move to another small town. Hence how he ended up before the school board in nondescript Rossford — a northwest Ohio community few outside the Toledo area could find on a map.

What he didn’t tell the school board, according to a recent investigation conducted by a district administrator, is that he was departing his former job after running into trouble for inappropriately touching members of the Athens school community.

Now Mr. Murtha again finds himself without a job, and again finds himself under scrutiny for acting inappropriately with young people he came into contact with because of his role as a school administrator and assistant principal.

Fifteen years after he was hired, school officials are under fire over how they’ve handled Mr. Murtha’s dismissal, and how he came to work in the district in the first place.

While the district’s report puts the onus on Mr. Murtha for self-reporting his own disciplinary problems, it’s unclear what steps Rossford Schools leaders independently took at the time to check on Mr. Murtha’s past transgressions because, as Superintendent Dan Creps noted in a letter to district families this week, none of the current board members were in place in 2004.

Board members and Mr. Creps largely refused to discuss with The Blade Mr. Murtha’s employment or their investigation until a board meeting Wednesday. All five board members and Mr. Creps admitted mistakes were made in handling the fallout, and offered apologies.

It’s not clear if district leaders went to the police once accusations by at least three Rossford students surfaced about Mr. Murtha’s conduct.

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One day after Diocese issues IRCP report, abuse advocate criticizes “entire system”

BUFFALO (NY)
WBFO Radio

May 29, 2019

By Michael Mroziak

A former priest who now leads an agency advocating for victims of sexual abuse is criticizing the system by which the Roman Catholic Diocese of Buffalo processed and compensated abuse cases.

The Diocese of Buffalo, on Tuesday, released the final results of its Independent Reconciliation and Compensation Program, which was introduced in March 2018 to address claims of childhood sexual abuse carried out by clergy. The diocese reports paying out an esatimated $17.6 million to date, awarding 127 people an average of $160,000. The compensation per person ranged from $2,000 to $650,000.

In all, 262 claims were filed.

“No one who reported their abuse after March 1, 2018 has been allowed to be part of this program,” said Robert Hoatson, founder and leader of the group Road to Recovery. “And according to reports, 135 cases, claims, have been rejected by the two judges who are running this program.”

Those judges are retired State Supreme Court Justices Jerome Gorski and Barbara Howe.

WBFO forwarded a message to the Diocese of Buffalo, asking for an official statement on its own behalf but as of Wednesday afternoon no reply was received.

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OBITUARY – MARYETTA DUSSOURD

BOSTON (MA)
Mann & Rodgrs Funeral Home

May 29, 2019

DUSSOURD, MARYETTA (BOLAND) of Jamaica Plain, Lost her battle to cancer on May 24TH. She was a very involved activist in the community with the warmest of hearts. She leaves behind her elder brother Jack Boland and her 7 children Ralph, Daniel, Edward, Margaret, Marietta, Christopher and Alicia Dussourd. Also survived by her beloved 13 grand children.

Funeral Services from the Mann & Rodgers Funeral Home, 44 Perkins St. JAMAICA PLAIN. Visiting Hours will be Monday, June 3rd from 5-8pm.

Relatives and friends invited. In honor of Maryetta please wear a touch of yellow, as it was her favorite color and one of her last requests.

Interment will be private.

Guestbook@mannandrodgers.com

In lieu of flowers please donate in her name to www.childhelp.org, a non profit charity to help victims of child abuse or to the Jimmy Fund at www.jimmyfund.org

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EXCLUSIVE: Abp Viganò says Pope is lying in latest denial about McCarrick

ROME (ITALY)
LifeSiteNews

May 28, 2019

For what appears to be the first time, Pope Francis has openly denied that he knew anything of former Cardinal Theodore McCarrick’s immoral activities, directly contradicting Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò’s account of their conversation on the subject.

“I didn’t know anything … nothing, nothing,” Pope Francis said in a new interview published on Tuesday in Vatican News.

In response, the former apostolic nuncio to the United States has directly accused Pope Francis of lying.

In comments to LifeSite following the release of the interview, Archbishop Viganò said: “What the Pope said about not knowing anything is a lie. […] He pretends not to remember what I told him about McCarrick, and he pretends that it wasn’t him who asked me about McCarrick in the first place.”

Both interviews coincide with the release of a leaked correspondence between Pope Francis, Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin, and then-Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, confirming that restrictions were placed on McCarrick by the Vatican in 2008, and that the former cardinal (who has now been laicized over charges of sexual abuse) travelled extensively during the Francis pontificate, playing a key diplomatic role in establishing the controversial Vatican accord with Communist China.

The new interview
In the May 28 interview with Mexican journalist Valentina Alazraki, Pope Francis sought to explain why he has never openly denied Archbishop Vigano’s original testimony, while issuing a denial seemingly for the first time.

Readers will recall that news of the former US nuncio’s testimony broke last August 25, while Pope Francis was attending the World Meeting Families in Dublin. One day later, during an inflight press conference on his return to Rome, the Pope sidestepped questions about the explosive allegations that he knew of former Cardinal Theodore McCarrick’s abuse.

“Read the [Viganò] statement carefully yourselves and make your own judgment. I am not going to say a word about this,” the Pope told journalists aboard the papal plane (see video here).

“You all have sufficient journalistic ability to draw conclusions,” he said.

“It is an act of trust,” the Holy Father added. “When a little time goes by, and you have drawn conclusions, perhaps I will speak about it, but I would like your professional maturity to do this work. It will do you all good, really.”

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McCarrick correspondence confirms restrictions, speaks to Wuerl and China

ROME (ITALY)
Crux

May 28, 2019

Correspondence obtained by Crux from an ex-aide to Theodore McCarrick, the former cardinal laicized over charges of sexual misconduct and abuse, confirms that restrictions on McCarrick were imposed by the Vatican in 2008. McCarrick also claims that Cardinal Donald Wuerl, then the Archbishop of Washington, was aware of them and involved in conversations about their implementation.

Though the details of those restrictions have never been made public, the correspondence shows McCarrick promising not to travel without express Vatican permission and to resign from all roles at the Vatican and within the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), while contesting an instruction to stop coming to Rome.

In one letter, McCarrick suggests the Vatican wanted to “avoid publicity” and thus kept the restrictions confidential.

The correspondence also shows that despite the restrictions, McCarrick gradually resumed traveling and playing prominent diplomatic roles under both Popes Benedict XVI and, to a greater extent, Francis, including talks with China that may have helped shape a controversial 2018 deal between Rome and Beijing over the appointment of bishops.

McCarrick’s activities were not carried on in secret, as he regularly wrote to Pope Francis between 2013 and 2017 to brief him on his trips and activities.

In the correspondence, McCarrick denies any sexual misconduct.

“I have never had sexual relations with anyone,” he wrote, but he does admit to “an unfortunate lack of judgment” in sharing his bed with seminarians in their twenties and thirties.

“As the problems of sexual abuse began to surface, I realized this was imprudent and stupid and it stopped,” he wrote in a 2008 letter to a senior Vatican official.

From an examination of the correspondence, which involves emails and private letters from McCarrick over the period 2008-2017, it appears that senior Church officials, including the Vatican’s Secretary of State under Pope Benedict XVI, the head of the Congregation for Bishops, and the pope’s ambassador in the U.S., were aware of the informal restrictions, and whatever their response may have been as McCarrick resumed his activities, it did not prevent him from doing so.

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Letters suggest lax enforcement of restrictions on disgraced D.C. ex-Cardinal Theodore McCarrick

ROME (ITALY)
CBS NEWS

May 29, 2019

By Anna Matranga and Seth Doane

The former secretary to defrocked American Cardinal Theodore McCarrick has released excerpts from private and confidential correspondence among top Vatican leaders which reveal details of restrictions placed on McCarrick by the Holy See following allegations of sexual misconduct. The communications reveal the extent to which the restrictions were known among senior church leaders – and particularly by his successor Cardinal Donald Wuerl – but not enforced.

That lack of enforcement meant McCarrick, the former Archbishop of Washington D.C., was allowed to continue traveling on behalf of the Holy See despite limitations implemented as part of the church punishment.

The personal letters and emails include correspondence between McCarrick and other senior church figures, including cardinals, the Vatican’s Secretary of State and Pope Francis.

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Pastor Arrested in Chicago, SNAP Responds

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

May 29, 2019

We are grateful to Chicago police for moving quickly to arrest Pastor Jeffery Parks. Now we call on administrators at Good Shephard Church in Chicago to reach out to their parishioners and urge anyone else who may have information on this case to come forward and make a report to police.

It is notable that the young girls in this case were able to identify their abuse following a discussion on inappropriate touching with their mother. While conversations about sexual abuse can be challenging, research and this anecdotal example show that these conversations are critical to protecting children and ending abuse.

Boys and girls are safest when parents and the public are vigilant. We hope that other parents around the country will also have this conversation with their own children, and that other adults who work with children will take the time to learn about the warning signs for child sexual abuse.

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Buffalo diocese: Clergy abuse victims have been compensated

BUFFALO (NY)
The Associated Press

May 28, 2019

By Carolyn Thompson

The Roman Catholic Diocese of Buffalo said Tuesday its clergy abuse compensation program rejected more than half the claims filed by alleged victims while offering 127 people awards ranging from $2,000 to $650,000.

The Independent Reconciliation and Compensation Program was established last year amid public scrutiny of the diocese’s handling of claims of sex abuse against priests. In a summary, the diocese said that while a few awards are outstanding, the program “is substantially complete.”

Awards accepted to date total $17.6 million.

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Former aide to ‘Uncle Ted’ McCarrick spills beans to Crux, CBS on what the Vatican really knew

Get Religion blog

May 29, 2019

By Julia Duin

Every time I think that we’ve heard the last bit of news about former U.S. Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, another wheel falls off that wagon.

Remember when the disgruntled Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò revealed last summer that McCarrick was punished by Pope Benedict XVI around 2008 for his sexual misdeeds with major restrictions on his movements? There was more. The letter also said that Cardinal Donald Wuerl, McCarrick’s successor as archbishop of the Washington archdiocese, knew all about this?

Lots of folks — including some in the media — trashed Viganò at the time for lying.

Well, lots of journalists owe him an apology for portraying him as a conservative shill. As we’ll see in a minute, Francis did everything he could to add to that impression. I’m not holding my breath for mea culpas, though. For months, Viganò stood alone. For months, some major newsrooms have been avoiding this story, big time.

But more evidence keeps pouring out. News that broke Tuesday revealed that Viganò was telling the truth and that Wuerl was more deceptive than we thought.

The latest revelations, released simultaneously by Crux and CBS and based on allegations by a priest well known to the media, reveal McCarrick’s amazing gall in simply ignoring the restrictions under which he was placed. From Crux:

ROME — Correspondence obtained by Crux from an ex-aide to Theodore McCarrick, the former cardinal laicized over charges of sexual misconduct and abuse, confirms that restrictions on McCarrick were imposed by the Vatican in 2008. McCarrick also claims that Cardinal Donald Wuerl, then the Archbishop of Washington, was aware of them and involved in conversations about their implementation.

Though the details of those restrictions have never been made public, the correspondence shows McCarrick promising not to travel without express Vatican permission and to resign from all roles at the Vatican and within the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), while contesting an instruction to stop coming to Rome. …

The correspondence also shows that despite the restrictions, McCarrick gradually resumed traveling and playing prominent diplomatic roles under both Popes Benedict XVI and, to a greater extent, Francis, including talks with China that may have helped shape a controversial 2018 deal between Rome and Beijing over the appointment of bishops.

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Buffalo Catholic Diocese compensates 127 people for clergy abuse

BUFFALO (NY)
WBFO Radio

May 29, 2019

By Marian Hetherly and Jay Moran

The Roman Catholic Diocese of Buffalo says its clergy abuse compensation program rejected more than half the claims filed by alleged victims while awarding 127 people an average of $160,000.

Listen Listening…4:06 WBFO’s Jay Moran talks with attorney Kevin Stocker, who is representing local clergy abuse survivors
The diocese Tuesday released final results of the Independent Reconciliation and Compensation Program established last year amid scrutiny of the diocese’s handling of claims of sex abuse against priests. To date, it has paid out $17.6 million.

The program was administered by two retired judges tasked with considering only previously reported claims and setting award amounts.

The diocese says it filed numerous objections to claims that hadn’t been reported prior to the program’s March 2018 start.

In all, 262 claims were filed before the June 1, 2018, deadline and 135 were rejected as ineligible. Award amounts ranged from $2,000 to $650,000.

Attorney Mitchell Garabedian, who is representing hundreds of clergy abuse victims, including some in the Buffalo Catholic Diocese, was critical of the report results.

“The report of the Diocese of Buffalo fails to take into account the hundreds of clergy sexual victims who were not eligible for the program because of the early reporting deadline of before March 1, 2018, the realization that clergy sexual abuse victims who were sexually abused in the 2000s will not come forward for years to come, and that history has taught us that the Diocese of Buffalo cannot successfully self-police,” Garabedian said in a statement. “The Diocese of Buffalo has issued a report that tries to give the impression clergy sexual abuse crisis has been taken care of to a great extent when nothing can be further from the truth. Instead of promoting healing the report, through deception, adds salt to the wounds of many clergy sexual abuse victims.”

Attorney Kevin Stocker is representing two “whistleblowers,” who he said were punished by the diocese for bringing a complaint, plus nearly 20 local survivors. He told WBFO only three of his clients have settled.

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House committee advances bill that gives abuse victims more time for lawsuits

PROVIDENCE (RI)
WLNE Radio

May 29, 2019

For Jim Scanlan, it wasn’t easy to go public about the abuse he suffered as a child at the hands of a priest.

“There’s this shame, fear, guilt,” said Scanlan, of Providence. Lots of different feelings.”

But Scanlan is glad he did come forward to testify in favor of a bill that would extend the statute of limitations from seven years to 35 years, after the victim turns 18.

The House Judiciary Committee gave it unanimous approval.

Representative Carol Hagan McEntee, whose own sister came forward as a victim of clergy abuse, sponsored the bill.

“This is the people’s bill,” said McEntee, (D) South Kingstown. “This is Annie’s bill. This will make a difference for Rhode Island children into the future, and Rhode Island victims right now.”

There have been some changes to the bill since it came before the committee last year, including a seven year discovery period to gather evidence.

If the bill passes, anyone under the age of 53 can bring forward allegations — even if the alleged abuse occurred before the bill goes into effect.

“What this will do is open the floodgates for so many people to come forward and seek some justice, to seek some retribution, and to seek the support and the acknowledgment that this horrible experience happened to them,” said Peg Laghammer, Executive Director of the Day One organization.

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California threatens to upend Catholic ‘seal of confession’

WASHINGTON (DC)
Washington Times

May 28, 2019

By Christopher Vondracek

Catholic priests in California would be legally obligated to report to police sexual abuse confessions brought to them by fellow priests and other church employees if a bill quickly moving through the state legislature becomes law.

Religious liberty advocates, including representatives of Catholic dioceses in California, challenge the legislation, saying it would invade a sacred space and direct priests to violate the “seal of confession.”

“Sometimes the best intentions can lead to bad legislation,” Los Angeles Archbishop Jose Gomez said in a statement on California’s Senate Bill 360, which was approved by wide margins last week and now heads to the state Assembly.

Under Roman Catholic teachings, the sins confessed by a parishioner to a priest in the Sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation are secret to all but God, who absolves the sins through the instrument of the priest.

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Sex Abuse Attorney Talks About What Cardinal Wuerl Knew, and When

PITTSBURGH (PA)
KDKA Radio

May 28, 2019

By Marty Griffin and Wendy Bell

Attorney Alan Perer tells Marty and Wendy what effect, if any, today’s news that Cardinal Wuerl lied about knowing of clergy sexual misconduct has on his cases.

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W.Va. Catholic diocese releases more accused priests’ names

CHARLESTON (WV)
Associated Press

May 29, 2019

By John Raby

West Virginia’s only Catholic diocese has released the names of two more priests who it says have been credibly accused of child sexual abuse in the state.

The priests are accused of committing the abuse while working at the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston. Both are deceased.

One of them, Father Raymond Waldruff, previously was accused of abuse in the Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown, Pennsylvania, in the 1960s. Complaints of decades-old abuse were made against him in March in the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston and in April in the Diocese of Owensboro, Kentucky.

Waldruff served at two churches in north-central West Virginia in the 1970s.

The other priest, Father Andrew F. Lukas, was accusing of abusing a minor in the 1960s. The allegation was reported to the diocese in January.

Eight other priests added to the latest list had claims against them in other regions or dioceses but not in West Virginia. None are in active ministry.

The Intelligencer and Wheeling News-Register first reported on the updated list, which brings to 40 the number of accused priests or deacons who served in West Virginia.

The diocese posted the list on its website last week. The original list was posted in November.

Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston spokesman Tim Bishop said in a statement Tuesday that the updated list shows “the Diocese’s commitment to transparency and accountability.”

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Ex-Trinity College teacher to fight charge of failing to report alleged school sex assault

ULTIMO (AUSTRALIA)
Australian Broadcasting

May 29, 2019

By Rebecca Turner and David Weber

A former teacher at a prestigious Perth Catholic boys’ school plans to fight a charge of failing to report the alleged sexual assault of a boy by his fellow students on an overseas trip.

Ian Francis Hailes and his former colleague at Trinity College, Anthony Paul Webb, were each charged under mandatory reporting laws which were introduced in Western Australia in 2008.

Their charges relate to the alleged sexual assault of a young man by his fellow students while they were on an overseas rugby trip in 2017.

The alleged victim’s mother told the ABC that it took five months for the incident to be reported to the school principal.

But she said the school took another six days to tell her that her son had been sexually assaulted.

Do you know more about this story? Email turner.rebecca@abc.net.au
Mr Hailes did not attend the Perth Magistrates Court today but his lawyer, Michael Tudori, said he wanted to change his endorsed plea of guilty, entered several weeks ago, to not guilty.

Outside court, Mr Tudori said Mr Hailes had changed his plea due to new information from the prosecution.

“As a result of that, he clearly has a defence now,” he said.

Mr Webb has not entered a plea to the charge of failing to report suspected child sexual abuse and is scheduled to appear before the Perth Magistrates Court next month.

No other charges have been laid as a result of the alleged incident.

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Roman Catholic Diocese Suspends Fall River Priest Accused Of Misconduct

BOSTON (MA)
The Associated Press

May 27, 2019

A Roman Catholic diocese in Massachusetts says a longtime priest has been suspended amid an allegation of sexual misconduct.

The Herald News reports that Fall River Bishop Edgar Moreira da Cunha said in an email Sunday that Father Bruce Neylon, pastor of Holy Trinity Church, was removed from active ministry.

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Da Cunha said an individual claimed Neylon had sexual contact with him on numerous occasions in the early 1980s, when the victim was aged 14 or 15. He said the victim was not a member of the parish to which Neylon was assigned at the time and the alleged abuse did not occur on church property.

Neylon has denied the allegation.

Da Cunha called the allegation “credible” and said the case was referred to the Bristol County District Attorney’s office.

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Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston Responds to West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey’s Criticism on Priest Abuse List

CHARLESTON (WV)
The Intelligencer

May 29, 2019

By Jess Mancini

The Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston responded Tuesday to claims that it should be announcing the names of priests that are added to its lists of priests who are credibly accused of abuse, saying the names are readily available online.

The diocese added nine priests to the list, first reported on Saturday by the Catholic Committee of Appalachia, which said the diocese added the priests without an announcement. The story broke in the Sunday News-Register.

Attorney General Patrick Morrisey, who earlier this year sued the diocese asserting it violated the West Virginia Consumer Credit and Protection Act in advertising failing to disclose it employed accused priests and did inadequate background investigations, cited the News-Register report.

“The diocese does not rely upon the news media and its parishioners to stumble upon its responses to our lawsuit — they shout it from the roof tops, and in the same manner, the diocese has an obligation to make robust announcements to potential victims anytime they update their list of credibly accused priests,” Morrisey said in a statement. “Instead, the diocese appears fixated upon its goal of minimizing this scandal with limited publicity about wrong doing and maximum publicity of its public relations campaign to protect the church.”

The Catholic Committee, which calls itself a social justice network, said the diocese added to the list of priests who served in the diocese but were accused of abuse outside of the diocese, and to the list of priests accused of abuse while in the diocese.https://bit.ly/2I4MRlf

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Priest says McCarrick admitted sharing bed with seminarians in letter to Vatican official

ROME (ITALY)
Catholic News Agency

May 28, 2019

By Ed Condon

A former priest-secretary to Theodore McCarrick has issued a report that claims to contain excerpted quotes from correspondence between the disgraced former cardinal McCarrick and various church officials.

The quotes seem to contain admissions of wrongdoing from McCarrick, and to confirm subsequent reports about the Vatican’s response to the former cardinal’s behavior. But some Vatican officials have said Figueiredo’s report does not fully explain the ways in which McCarrick operated in the Vatican.

Msgr. Anthony Figueiredo of the Archdiocese of Newark published a website, “The Figueiredo Report,” May 28 which contains apparent excerpts from private correspondence between McCarrick, the priest, and various other Church officials.

News of the priest’s report was first reported by CBS News and news site Crux.

Neither the full text of the correspondence nor images of the letters have been published on Figueiredo’s site.

“I present facts from correspondence that I hold relevant to questions still surrounding McCarrick.”

“These facts show clearly that high-ranking prelates likely had knowledge of McCarrick’s actions and of restrictions imposed upon him during the pontificate of Benedict XVI. They also clearly show that these restrictions were not enforced even before the pontificate of Francis,” Figueiredo’s report claims.

“It is not my place to judge to what extent the fault lies with the failure to impose canonical penalties, instead of mere restrictions, at the start, or with other Church leaders who later failed to expose McCarrick’s behavior and the impropriety of his continued public activity, and indeed may have encouraged it,” the priest writes.

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Report on Key Findings in Correspondence Concerning Theodore E. McCarrick

Newark (NJ)
The Figueriredo Report

May 28, 2019

By Monsignor Anthony Figueiredo

The former Cardinal Theodore E. McCarrick ordained me to the priesthood 25 years ago today.
I served as his personal secretary in the Archdiocese of Newark (September 1994 – June 1995)
and also assisted him in a secretarial capacity during his many visits to Rome in my 19 years of
ministry there.

After long consideration, I have made the decision to place in the public domain some of the
correspondence and other information related to McCarrick that I possess in my many years of
service to him. I have spent time in prayer and discernment about the moral basis for revealing
these. My decision follows attempts since September 2018 to share and discuss these with the Holy See and other Church leaders.

Realizing full well that the debate about McCarrick has become highly politicized, I wish only to
present facts that will help the Church to know the truth. From the outset of this report, I pledge
my unswerving affection, loyalty and support for Pope Francis and his Magisterium in his tireless
ministry as the Successor of Peter, as I manifested also to Pope Benedict XVI, grateful for their
paternal solicitude and efforts to address the scourge of abuse. Indeed, my actions in releasing this report at this time are encouraged by the Holy Father’s motu proprio “Vos Estis Lux Mundi” (“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden.” Mt 5:14), based on the overriding principle that it is imperative to place in the public domain, at the right time and prudently, information that has yet to come to light and impacts directly on allegations of criminal activity, the restrictions imposed on my now laicized former Archbishop, and who knew what and when.

It is my firm hope that this information will help the Church as she further endeavors to create a
culture of transparency. This report, which may form the first of others, is a contribution to the
wish of Pope Francis and the Holy See “to follow the path of truth wherever it may lead” in terms
of the ongoing McCarrick investigation (Pope Francis, Philadelphia, USA, September 27, 2015;
Press Statement of the Holy See, October 6, 2018).

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Former Priest Sentenced to 16 Years, SNAP Responds

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

May 24, 2019

We are glad that a jury has sentenced Fr. Ronald H. Paquin to sixteen years in prison. Hopefully this sentence will keep a serial predator away from vulnerable children for the rest of his life.

Now that Fr. Paquin has been sentenced, we hope that police and prosecutors will turn their attention to those who enabled Fr. Paquin’s crimes. The only way that we can ensure that institutions like the church are safer for children and vulnerable adults is by exposing and prosecuting everyone who had a hand in child sex crimes.

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Crisis of Faith? Even practicing Catholics say Church has done a poor job handling sexual abuse issue

VANCOUVER (CANADA)
Angus Reid Institute

May 28, 2019

In the popular imagination, the story of the Catholic Church over the last two decades has been one of scandal, attempted reform, and further scandal. Decades of allegations of sexual abuse by clergy – combined with opaque policies for addressing them – have eroded public trust in the Church around the world.

A new public opinion poll from the non-profit Angus Reid Institute finds Canada is not immune to this trend. And yet, though most Canadians – including practicing Catholics – say the Church has done a poor job of handling this issue, the general public in this country seems to differentiate between the Church as an institution and people of faith more generally.

Scandal in the Catholic Church has not caused a broader crisis of faith in Canada today, though it has done notable damage to Canadian Catholics’ opinions of their Church.

While some of this damage is almost certainly the result of concerns Canadians have about incidents of abuse that took place elsewhere in the world, it’s notable that one-in-three practicing Catholics say their local Church community has had problems with clerical sexual abuse over the years.

Ultimately, this is an issue that the Catholic Church in Canada will need to effectively address and move on from if it hopes to recover. Most Canadians, and many practicing Catholics, say they expect the Church to emerge from this issue weakened as an institution.

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CHICAGO PASTOR ARRESTED FOR ALLEGEDLY SEXUALLY ABUSING TWIN GIRLS HE TUTORED AT HIS HOME

CHICAGO (IL)
Newsweek

May 27, 2019

By Katherine Hignett

A Chicago pastor was arrested Friday after allegedly abusing twin12-year-old girls he had tutored at home. His arrest was announced by police Sunday, after the clergyman attended a bond hearing.

Jeffery Parks, 51—a pastor at Good Shepherd Church—is accused of inappropriately touching the girls on multiple occasions since 2017. He tutored the twin girls for three years before he was reported to police, according to The Chicago Tribune.

Law enforcement charged him with one felony count of aggravated criminal abuse and one of predatory criminal assault, both against victims below the age of 13. He is being held on a bond of $100,000.

Police spokesman Michael Carroll said in a news release: “The victims relayed that beginning in 2017, the offender tutored the victims and during those tutoring sessions, the offender would inappropriately place his hands on the victims’ bodies.”

The girls told their mother about the alleged abuse after a discussion on inappropriate touching, The Tribune noted.

Chicago has been dogged by sexual abuse scandals involving religious leaders for years. USA Today recently noted that almost 400 Catholic clergy members have been accused of sexual misconduct in Illinois, according to a list compiled by lawyers.

Other Christian denominations in the U.S. have been rocked by sexual abuse scandals in recent months. Over the past two decades, some 380 Southern Baptist leaders and volunteers have been accused of sexual misconduct, according to reporting by The Houston Chronicle and The San Antonio Express-News.

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Bill to extend statue of limitations for sex-abuse lawsuits faces key vote tonight

PROVIDENCE (RI)
Providence Journal

May 28, 2019

By Katherine Gregg

A key legislative committee is scheduled to vote Tuesday night on a bill to give the victims of childhood sexual abuse more time to sue their abusers, and the institutions that failed to protect the victims.

At its most basic, the legislation unveiled over the holiday weekend extends from seven to 35 years the statute of limitations on the pursuit of legal claims by adults against priests, Boy Scout leaders, teachers, coaches and others who sexually abused them as children.

There is, also an opportunity for people — unaware until even later in life of the harm they suffered — to file claims within seven years of making the connection, or more specifically: “seven years from the time the victim discovered or reasonably should have discovered that the injury or condition was caused by the act.”

Victims of child sexual abuse who missed deadlines for filing civil claims against their abusers would have had a three-year window to bring old cases to court under the original version of the legislation that Rep. Carol McEntee, D-South Kingstown, introduced this year.

The Roman Catholic Diocese of Providence and the insurance industry fought the proposed “revival window″ behind the scenes. Key lawmakers also voiced concern about the constitutionality of the window. They hung their arguments on a 1996 decision in a case known as Kelly v. Marcantonio “rising out of the alleged sexual molestation of minors by priests of the Catholic Church.”

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Catholic Church’s Handling Of Sexual Abuse Scandal Questioned In Poll

TAMPA (FL)
WUSF Radio

May 28, 2019

By Carrie Pinkard

The Catholic Church has been under public scrutiny since 2002, when the Boston Globe published stories showing how leadership covered up a series of sexual abuse cases. Almost two decades have passed, but the church hasn’t been able to shake its tarnished reputation.

A poll released earlier this month by the Saint Leo University Polling Institute revealed that Americans are not happy with the way the Catholic Church handled sexual abuse cases. 81.3% of those surveyed felt that the Catholic Church was slow to identify and act on sexual abuse involving clergy.

When respondents were asked why they think the Church was slow to act, the number one response was that the church wanted to “preserve and protect its influence and reputation at all cost.”

74% of the general population and 84.8% of Catholics listed this as the number one reason.

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Leaked Emails Prove Top Catholic Officials Knew Ex-Cardinal Slept With Seminarians

ROME (ITALY)
Associated Press

May 28, 2019

Email correspondence shows disgraced ex-Cardinal Theodore McCarrick was placed under Vatican travel restrictions in 2008 for sleeping with seminarians, but regularly flouted those rules with the apparent knowledge of Vatican officials under Pope Benedict XVI and Pope Francis.

The email excerpts, released Tuesday by a former aide, make it clear that retired Washington Cardinal Donald Wuerl knew about the restrictions, despite claims of ignorance after the McCarrick scandal exploded last year.

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Survivors Advocacy Group Sends Letter to Central Valley DAs

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

May 25, 2019

A support group for clergy abuse victims are calling on district attorneys in California’s Central Valley to use their offices to reach out to survivors directly and to denounce actions by a Bakersfield attorney that make it less likely for victims of sexual abuse to come forward.

Leaders of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, are writing to the District Attorneys of Madera, Fresno, Kern, Merced, Mariposa, Tulare, and Inyo Counties following an announcement that these seven DAs will be auditing the Diocese of Fresno. They are asking for special attention to be paid to the case of Msgr. Craig Harrison, who has gone on the attack following multiple accusations of sexual abuse.

“We know from our work that substantiating firsthand accounts of child sex abuse is very difficult for law enforcement under the best of circumstances,” wrote SNAP in its letter. “We fear that the tactics being used by Msgr. Harrison and his lawyer are intended to frighten not only his accusers, but also to prevent witnesses from coming forward.”

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Former secretary says officials knew McCarrick’s ministry was restricted

ROME (ITALY)
Catholic News Service

May 28, 2019

By Cindy Wooden

Pope Benedict XVI had imposed restrictions on the public ministry of former Cardinal Theodore E. McCarrick in 2008, but they were not formal sanctions and were not followed strictly, even during the papacy of Pope Benedict himself, McCarrick’s former secretary said.

Msgr. Anthony J. Figueiredo, who was the former cardinal’s secretary for nine months in 1994-1995, but continued to assist him from Rome, released extracts from correspondence May 28, saying he wanted the truth out about what was known about McCarrick, when and by whom.

Besides knowing about the restrictions himself, the monsignor also said he had evidence that recently retired Cardinal Donald W. Wuerl of Washington knew about them, as did Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re, then-prefect of the Congregation for Bishops, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, then-Vatican secretary of state, and Archbishop Pietro Sambi, who was nuncio to the United States at the time.

Msgr. Figueiredo said he decided to publish online excerpts of correspondence in his possession — available at http://thefigueiredoreport.com/ — after attempting “since September 2018 to share and discuss these with the Holy See and other church leaders.” He did not publish the full texts of any of the correspondence or emails he quoted online.

The monsignor, who in October was suspended from driving in England for 18 months after pleading guilty for drunk driving and hitting a car driven by a pregnant woman, said in his online report that “the hierarchy’s abuse of authority and cover-up, in their various and serious manifestations, have inflicted consequences upon me,” including by “seeking consolation in alcohol.”

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Vatican Whistle Blower Reveals Lax Enforcement of Restrictions on Disgraced Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, SNAP Responds

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

May 28, 2019

We are grateful to Monsignor Anthony Figueiredo for having the courage to release these communications and to show to the public that the “restrictions” placed on former Cardinal Theodore McCarrick were not taken at all seriously by his colleagues.

While Cardinal McCarrick has been defrocked by the Church, this correspondence not only illustrates that many other high-ranking Catholic officials were aware of the restrictions that bound the Cardinal, but also that they did nothing to enforce them. To us, this demonstrates that cases of clergy sex abuse are still not being handled properly.

It is very troubling to learn of the lax attitude with which Cardinal McCarrick’s discipline was treated by his fellow prelates. This fact becomes all the more troubling now that Pope Francis has mandated that all Church staff report cases of clergy abuse internally to those same prelates. It is difficult to imagine that any reports will be treated with the care they deserve when the officials who receive them have shown a willingness to ignore the punishments imposed by the Vatican.

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Chaminade grad sued the Marianists for sexual abuse; they moved the case to bankruptcy court

ST. LOUIS (MO)
Post-Dispatch

May 28, 2019

By Nassim Benchaabane

A letter Chris Boisaubin received in 2012 from his high school was both a blessing and a curse.

Boisaubin, now 65, was one of about 1,600 former students of Chaminade College Preparatory School to receive the letter from the Marianists, the Roman Catholic order that runs the boys boarding and day school in Creve Coeur.

A graduate had accused two Marianists of sexually abusing him while he was enrolled in the 1970s. The victim asked the Rev. Martin Solma to send the letter to students who had graduated while the two men had worked at the school.

Several alumni wrote back with allegations of abuse by the men and other clergy there. They filed lawsuits, saying the letter had triggered repressed memories of abuse.

Boisaubin sued the Marianists in 2014 alleging John Woulfe, a member of the Marianist order who is now dead, had abused him when he was a minor and that officials knew he had abused two other boys previously.

The order is willing to pay $50,000 to settle Bouisaubin’s case, but he would get none of the money and the Marianists wouldn’t have to admit wrongdoing of any form, said Ken Chackes, Boisaubin’s attorney.

That’s because for the last two years, Boisaubin’s case hasn’t legally been his to pursue. It’s been property of the bankruptcy court in St. Louis.

Boisaubin, a longtime IT worker, has filed for bankruptcy twice in his life and was discharged from both cases; the most recent case, in St. Louis, ended in 2009.

When he sued the Marianists in 2014, they argued that the damages he sought were an asset, like his car or home or anything else he owned, and became the property of the bankruptcy court, to be surrendered to a trustee overseeing the sale of his estate to pay his creditors.

In December, the Marianists struck an agreement with the bankruptcy trustee; the order would pay $50,000 to Boisaubin’s creditors in exchange for the trustee dropping the sex abuse case. They’re now trying to override Boisaubin’s appeal and enforce the agreement in court.

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Roman Catholic diocese suspends Fall River priest accused of misconduct

FALL RIVER (MA)
Boston Channel 25

May 28, 2019

A Roman Catholic diocese in Massachusetts says a longtime priest has been suspended amid an allegation of sexual misconduct.

The Herald News reports that Fall River Bishop Edgar Moreira da Cunha said in an email Sunday that Father Bruce Neylon, pastor of Holy Trinity Church, was removed from active ministry.

Da Cunha said an individual claimed Neylon had sexual contact with him on numerous occasions in the early 1980s, when the victim was aged 14 or 15. He said the victim was not a member of the parish to which Neylon was assigned at the time and the alleged abuse did not occur on church property.

Neylon has denied the allegation.

Da Cunha called the allegation “credible” and said the case was referred to the Bristol County District Attorney’s office.

A statement posted on the Fall River Diocese’s website said Neylon was ordained in 1975 and listed his past assignments as parochial vicar (or assistant), Holy Name Parish, Fall River (1975); parochial vicar, St. Patrick Parish, Wareham (1982); pastoral care, Sturdy Memorial Hospital, Attleboro (1985); pastor, St. Mary Parish, Seekonk (1983); pastor, St. Stanislaus Parish, Fall River (2002); pastor, Holy Trinity Parish, Fall River (2012).

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Marianists Exclude Victim From Settlement of Sex Abuse Case

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

May 28, 2019

Chris Boisaubin is appealing an agreement the Marianists struck with the trustee in his previously discharged bankruptcy where the religious order would pay $50,000 to Mr. Boisaubin’s creditors in exchange for the trustee dropping the sex abuse case.

We deplore this move by the Marianists to deny a victim his day in court and to ensure the full truth about sex crimes that occurred at Chaminade College Preparatory School in St. Louis is concealed. What other possible motive could they have but to protect themselves, their secrets, their reputations and their incomes?

We stand in support of this survivor as he moves to get the justice and recognition he deserves from the Marianist Order and Church officials in St. Louis.

By playing legal hardball against a victim of a known abusive priest, we can only assume that Catholic officials hope this move will prevent others from coming forward. Instead, we hope that their strategy backfires and that even more people who were hurt at Chaminade will find the courage to speak up.

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California bill would force priests to report abuse confessions

SAN JOSE (CA)
Mercury News

May 27, 2019

By John Woolfolk

The law has long treated confession of sin to a priest as sacred. Even clergy who hear a fellow priest’s confession to sexually abusing a child generally can’t be compelled to report it to authorities.

But should they be?

California lawmakers are considering that fundamental question amid heightened scrutiny of the child sex abuse scandal roiling the Catholic Church. The state Senate resoundingly approved a bill last week that would force clergy who hear confessions of child sex abuse from another priest to report it. Church leaders say it is an unconstitutional government intrusion and violation of religious freedom.

“Faith leaders have been the only exception to this rule,” the bill’s author, Sen. Jerry Hill, D-San Mateo, said, adding that even doctors and spouses must report suspected child abuse reported to them in confidence. “Instead of protecting children, some have been shielding abusers. It is time for California to put children first.”

The California Catholic Conference opposes Hill’s bill, SB360, arguing it will not help protect children and dangerously weaken religious freedom by “interjecting the government into the confessional.”

“The ‘seal of confession’ is one of the most sacrosanct of Catholic beliefs and penitents rely on this unbreakable guarantee to freely confess and seek reconciliation with God,” the California Catholic Conference said. A priest who “breaks the seal,” the group added, “is automatically excommunicated.”

“We are dealing here with an egregious violation of the principle of religious liberty,” Robert Barron, auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles said in a statement.

However, the bill comes at a time when the Roman Catholic Church is under fire over priests who sexually abused children. Reporting of widespread abuse in the Boston diocese prompted U.S. bishops in 2002 to adopt a Charter for the Protection of Children, known as the Dallas Charter, to prevent child abuse within the church.

But more recent revelations like a bombshell Pennsylvania investigation in August that found widespread child sex abuse and cover-ups over decades in six dioceses has sparked fresh outrage. California Attorney General Xavier Becerra is now investigating the Golden State’s dioceses.

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Editorial: St. Louis victims have waited long enough for findings on clergy sexual abuse.

ST. LOUIS (MO)
Post Dispatch

May 27, 2019

For months now, the St. Louis Archdiocese has been saying it intends to follow the lead of its counterparts around the nation and publicly identify its clergy who have been credibly accused of the sexual abuse of children. Since last year, the Missouri Attorney General’s office, under two consecutive office-holders, has said it will complete and release an independent investigation of the issue statewide. To date, neither promise has been fulfilled.

Officials of both the archdiocese and the attorney general’s office told us last week that they remain committed to completing and releasing their respective investigations. But neither office could even hint at a timeline nor justify why the final reports have to be completed before the release of the information confirmed so far can begin.

Why the hurry? Because, with the continued veil of mystery over this issue, there’s no way for the public to be sure that some of those accused aren’t still in positions to commit further abuse. Assurances that the church has already purged any current threats don’t inspire much confidence when they’re accompanied by the same vague vows of sometime-in-the-future disclosure that we’ve been hearing for months.

After an August 2018 grand jury report alleging more than 300 Catholic clergy in Pennsylvania had sexually abused more than 1,000 children over decades, legal authorities in various states have stepped up to assess the situations in their own jurisdictions. In Illinois alone, then-Attorney General Lisa Madigan last year reported accusations against some 500 priests, far more than church officials had acknowledged.

Many bishops around the country have also provided public disclosure, to varying degrees. Two of Missouri’s four dioceses — Jefferson City and Springfield-Cape Girardeau — have already released lists of priests facing substantiated allegations.

Some activists say that information lacked adequate detail, but at least they released it. Missouri’s remaining two dioceses, in St. Louis and Kansas City, both say they are awaiting results of internal inquiries by hired investigators before releasing anything. With so many other jurisdictions having already done this, why does the St. Louis Archdiocese keep insisting it needs more time?

Given the church’s circle-the-wagons history on this issue, it may not be too cynical to suggest, as has David Clohessy of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, that they’re running out the clock. “Delays help those who commit abuse, and those who cover it up,” says Clohessy. “With every passing day, one more victim dies or gives up … or one more witness dies or moves away.”

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Buffalo Diocese pays $17.5M to 106 clergy sex abuse victims

BUFFALO (NY)
The Buffalo News

May 28, 2019

By Jay Tokasz

The Catholic Diocese of Buffalo has paid $17.5 million to 106 childhood victims of clergy sexual abuse, while rejecting 135 applicants it deemed ineligible for its voluntary compensation program.

A total of 127 settlements were offered to the accusers, ranging from $2,000 to $650,000, with an average award of $158,622. Seventeen people turned down the offers. Three people have yet to decide on offers totaling $425,000, and one person who accepted a $60,000 offer has yet to be paid, which means the diocese’s total cost could end up at more than $18 million.

Despite its large price tag, the Independent Reconciliation and Compensation Program payments could turn out to be a bargain for the diocese. Dioceses that settled claims brought through litigation ended up paying much more. In 2016, the Buffalo Diocese settled for $1.5 million a single abuse claim brought in a federal court in Hawaii.

By comparison, the largest compensation award offer was $650,000 and went to a man who accused the Rev. Michael R. Freeman of aiming a revolver at his head and repeatedly molesting him when he was a child in the 1980s. The man was one of the 17 people who rejected offers, according to his attorney, Steve Boyd.

Those who took the payments agreed not to sue, so the Buffalo Diocese avoided more than 100 potential lawsuits under a Child Victims Act signed into law in February that will allow previously time-barred abuse cases to be heard in state courts.

It’s unclear how many of the 135 applicants deemed ineligible for the compensation program will now sue, though some of them have told The Buffalo News they plan to file complaints in court when a one-year window to do so opens Aug. 14. It’s also unclear how many people who did not apply to the diocese program will sue.

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Catholic clergy have to report abuse, but what will the Church do with that information?

VATICAN CITY
Christian Today

May 28, 2019

By Christine P. Bartholomew

Pope Francis recently changed the Catholic Church law, making it mandatory for clergy to report sexual abuse to church superiors. In the past, such reporting was left to the discretion of a priest or nun.

Pope Francis’ proposal is an effort to address gaps in the regulatory process of the church, which has been accused of shielding clergy sexual abuse. It provides a process to report allegations up the pipeline.

As a scholar of law I worry that it fails to address what the church will do with that information.

To date, religious organizations, such as the Catholic Church, have adopted inconsistent positions on whether, and to what degree, they should share information necessary for legal action.

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Boyer: Arizona’s Statute Of Limitations For Child Sex Abuse Is The Worst In The County

ARIZONA
Capitol Media Services

May 27, 2019

By Daniel Perle and Howard Fischer

The arrest of a priest in Arizona on sex abuse charges out of Michigan could lend fuel to legislative efforts to expand the time that victims in this state have to sue their assailants.

Timothy Crowley, 69, was one of five former Catholic priests who Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel said are charged with various counts of criminal sexual conduct. She said all five are part of an investigation by her office into reports of clergy abuse which go back decades.

The news comes as Sen. Paul Boyer, R-Phoenix, is trying to convince colleagues to scrap existing Arizona laws which say that victims here have only until they turn 20 to file civil suits.

Boyer told Capitol Media Services he can’t say whether Crowley and other priests accused of incidents of sexual abuse were purposely moved to Arizona because of what he sees as the limited ability of those who are abused and assaulted here to file civil actions.

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These 3 N.J. nuns were accused of sex abuse. Here’s what we know about them.

NEW JERSEY
NJ Advance Media for NJ.com

May 28, 2019

By Kelly Heyboer

When a law firm released a report earlier this month naming 311 Catholic clergy members from New Jersey accused of sexual misconduct there was something striking about the list– it included women.

Three nuns from New Jersey were among the priests, monks, deacons and other clergy members listed in the report compiled by New Jersey attorney Greg Gianforcaro and Jeff Anderson & Associates, a Minnesota-based law firm that specialized in representing victims of abuse.

The law firm said it used lawsuits, settlements and news accounts to come up with its list of 311 clergy members — far more than the 188 priests and deacons that were on a list from New Jersey’s five dioceses released in February.

None of the lists from New Jersey’s dioceses — Newark, Metuchen, Camden, Trenton and Paterson — have included nuns. Most nuns are overseen by their individual orders, which would probably have handled any accusations of abuse in the past.

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Australian cardinal won’t fight sentence if he loses appeal

SYDNEY (AUSTRALIA)
Associated Press

May 27, 2019

By Trevor Marshallsea

Disgraced Australian Catholic cardinal George Pell will not fight for a reduced jail sentence if he fails in his appeal of his conviction for molesting two choirboys in the 1990s, a court spokesman said Monday.

The 77-year-old Pell — the most senior Catholic convicted of sex abuse — was sentenced in a Melbourne court in March to six years in prison. He must serve at least three years and eight months of the term.

Pell will appeal his conviction next month. His lawyers have filed an application arguing it should be overturned on three grounds.

But the application does not include an appeal of the length of the sentence, Andre Awadalla, a spokesman for the Court of Appeal in Victoria state, told the Associated Press.

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Editorial: Give sexual abuse victims a path to justice

SIOUX FALLS (SD)
Argus Leader

May 25, 2019

Two months ago, the Catholic Diocese of Sioux Falls released the names of 11 priests who faced substantiated accusations of abusing minors between 1958 and 1992 while serving in eastern South Dakota.

The action came on the crest of a recent wave of such disclosures by Catholic leaders across the country. It began in Pennsylvania last year, when a grand jury in that state accused several dioceses of attempting to cover up abuse by 300 former priests.

As such, the public statement from Sioux Falls Bishop Paul Swain seemed a step in the right direction. Swain apologized to victims “as a sign of my and our faith community’s accepting responsibility for failings over the years.”

He urged those who had suffered abuse at the hands of any of the 11 priests named in the statement to come forward, so that “assistance might be offered and justice accomplished.” He acknowledged that many victims “remain silent for fear they will not be believed.”

But Swain’s statement fell short of the level of disclosure from the Rapid City Diocese several weeks earlier. The Rapid City statement listed the assignments, including dates, of the priests with credible claims of abuse against them.

Matt Althoff, chancellor of the Sioux Falls Diocese, defended the absence of that kind of information. Swain’s letter was addressed to victims who “know where the abuse happened,” Althoff said. “Really it is out of a profound sensitivity for the deserved confidentiality of a victim of clergy sexual abuse that all those details, the bishop chose not to include in his letter.”

Priests who had been permanently assigned to the Rapid City Diocese were not the only names disclosed in the Rapid City statement. Also included on their list were credibly-accused members of the Jesuit religious order who had been assigned to missions and mission schools on the Pine Ridge and Rosebud reservations.

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‘No words to express our shame’: Polish bishops apologize for abuse

WARSAW (POLAND)
Catholic News Service via National Catholic Reporter

May 22, 2019

By Jonathan Luxmoore

The Polish bishops’ administrative council met in emergency session May 22 and later admitted the church failed to act against clerical sexual abuse.

The meeting came amid outrage over a two-hour documentary, “Just Don’t Tell Anyone,” that included drastic accounts of cover-up of clerical sex abuse in Poland. The film had more than 19 million views within six days of its May 11 YouTube posting.

“The whole church community in Poland has been shaken by the latest painful information — these crimes have caused deep suffering for harmed people,” the bishops said in a pastoral letter to be read in parishes nationwide May 26.

“There are no words to express our shame at the sexual scandals clergy have participated in. They are a source of great evil and demand total condemnation, as well as severe consequences for the criminals and for those who concealed such acts.”

The bishops said they had been “deeply affected” by “shocking testimonies” in the film, as well as by its portrayal of a “lack of sympathy, sinful neglect and myopia” shown toward abuse victims.

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Michigan Attorney General Announces First Arrests in Catholic Clergy Abuse Investigation

NEW YORK (NY)
New York Times

May 24, 2019

By Elizabeth Dias

Michigan law enforcement officials made their first arrests in a statewide investigation into Roman Catholic clergy sexual abuse, the state’s attorney general announced on Friday.

Five former Catholic priests have been charged with criminal sexual conduct, Attorney General Dana Nessel said at a news conference. But hundreds, or even thousands, of alleged victims could still remain across the state, she said.

“This is just the tip of the iceberg,” she said. “We anticipate many more charges and arrests.”

The charges were the latest effort by law enforcement nationwide to hold Catholic officials accountable for sexual abuse in the church. Since Thursday, four of the former priests were arrested in Arizona, California, Florida and Michigan. The fifth faces possible extradition from India.

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Letter and spirit: Using universal law to guide local churches on abuse

ROME (ITALY)
Catholic News Service via Crux

May 24, 2019

By Carol Glatz

Pope Francis’s latest effort to help the Catholic Church safeguard its members from abuse and hold its leaders accountable came in the form of a new universal law, Vos estis lux mundi (“You are the light of the world”), which takes effect June 1.

Like all universal legislation, the papal document had to factor in the vast diversity of cultures and traditions of the more than 200 countries where the Church is present, Archbishop Charles Scicluna, the Vatican’s top abuse investigator, told reporters the day the document was released in May.

It had to strike a balance of being clear and precise, but not so narrow that “it would be inoperative. You need something that can be flexible enough to work,” the archbishop said.

But as Jesuit Father Arturo Sosa, the order’s superior, warned during the safeguarding summit at the Vatican in February, the Church also must never use its “multicultural reality” to justify, excuse or ignore abuse. No matter the culture or local attitudes, the fundamental principle guiding everyone must be to follow the Gospel message, always and everywhere, bringing to light the truth that sets everyone free, he said.

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Poland’s ruling right-wing party tops the polls

WARSAW (POLAND)
Associated Press

May 26, 2019

By Monika Scislowska

Poland’s ruling Law and Justice party has emerged as the big winner in the country’s European Parliament election, taking over 45% of the votes following an aggressive campaign against a united opposition in a year of key elections.

Preliminary results from more than 99% of voting stations announced Monday by the State Electoral Commission suggest that the right-wing ruling party has a good chance of winning crucial elections to the national parliament in the fall and continuing its policy of social conservatism and euroskepticism.

It was the first ever win for the right-wing, nationalist party in European balloting and its best showing in any election ever.

Analysts said the intensive campaign, with the participation of party leader Jaroslaw Kaczynski and quick containment of crises — from leaders’ business dealings to revelations of child sex abuse by priests — mobilized its voters and defenders of the Catholic Church, and contributed to the party’s showing.

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Polish bishops admit they haven’t done enough to stop abuse

WARSAW (POLAND)
Associated Press

May 22, 2019

By Vanessa Gera

Poland’s bishops acknowledged on Wednesday that they have not done enough to prevent clerical abuse of minors and said there are “no words” to describe their shame about sex scandals involving priests.

The acknowledgement came as Poland, where Catholic traditions and faith remain strong, is grappling with the problem of abuse in the church. Massive soul searching was triggered by a documentary, “Tell No One,” that includes testimony by victims, priests who admit their wrongdoing and evidence that the church — even recently — moved abusers from parish to parish and let them have contact with children.

“There are no words to express our shame because of sexual scandals involving clerics,” the Polish Bishops’ Conference said in a statement, a message that is to be read out in all churches on Sunday.

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Coverings

PITTSBURGH (PA)
Pittsburgh Post Gazette

May 20, 2019

By Shelly Bradbury, Peter Smith, and Stephanie Strasburg

Part 1 in a 6-part series

Mennonites, Amish face growing recognition of widespread sexual abuse in their communities

Huntington, Pa. – Martha Peight stood in the first row of the courtroom, shaking yet resolute, as she held the printout of her victim-impact statement.

In the benches behind her sat members of area Mennonite churches, wearing the traditional plain clothing of a separatist culture she had left behind — the bearded men in work clothes or dark suits, the women in long dresses and head coverings.

Some had come to lend moral support to her father, Daniel R. Hostetler, who sat with bowed head at the defense table, where he awaited his sentencing for sexually violating Ms. Peight years earlier when she was a young teen.

Others had shown up to support Ms. Peight as she sought justice that had been long delayed, in part due to actions of the former minister of the family’s Mennonite church, who was also there in the courtroom Nov. 29 in this central Pennsylvania county seat.

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Generations of Pain

PITTSBURGH (PA)
Pittsburgh Post Gazette

May 22, 2019

By Shelly Bradbury, Peter Smith, and Stephanie Strasburg

Part 2 in a 6-part series

Plain community sexual abuse victims sometimes pressured to take offenders back

The Old Order Mennonite bishop leveled a finger at the unwed, pregnant teenager who stood before him and jabbed it toward her.

“You,” she remembered him saying, “can’t be a church member until after the baby is born.”

Diane Snyder stood silently beside her boyfriend as the bishop made his declaration. She did not protest when her boyfriend escaped the punishment she was to suffer for the baby growing inside her.

And she stayed silent during the ensuing months, keeping to herself the gnawing fear that she’d die before the baby was born — die and go to hell because she wasn’t a church member.

She married her boyfriend, Jim Burkholder, and for years she never protested when he demanded sex, even when she was pregnant with one child, nursing another. It was her duty to satisfy him, and she couldn’t say no. This was what married women had to do, she believed.

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Forced Forgiveness

PITTSBURGH (PA)
Pittsburgh Post Gazette

May 28, 2019

By Shelly Bradbury, Peter Smith, and Stephanie Strasburg

Part 3 in a 6-part series

Plain community sexual abuse victims sometimes pressured to take offenders back

Church leaders pulled Kay aside one Sunday and told her she was excommunicated for failing to forgive her husband.

Her conservative Mennonite church demanded that she take a registered sex offender back into her home, that she forgive and forget what he had done to their 1-month-old baby and her sibling who followed.

But Kay had tried that blind forgiveness before, and she couldn’t do it again.

She’d gone to counseling with him, brought the kids to him for supervised visits, eaten meals with him. But this time, he needed to prove to her that he was trustworthy, and in the year since he’d been off probation, he’d ignored her rules and pushed the boundaries and pointed fingers at her for breaking up the marriage.

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Bill lengthening amount of time child sex abuse victims can sue heads to Gov. Greg Abbott’s desk

AUSTIN (TX)
Texas Tribune

May 24, 2019

By Cassandra Pollock

The House initially exempted churches and nonprofits from the extended statute of limitations, but the chamber agreed to include them Friday after sex assault victims pushed back.

A proposal at the Texas Legislature that would give victims of child sexual abuse more time to sue their abusers and the organizations they were affiliated with is headed to the governor’s desk.

House Bill 3809, filed by state Rep. Craig Goldman, R-Fort Worth, would let people file civil lawsuits against alleged abusers 30 years after the victims turn 18. Current law only allows for a 15-year threshold to sue. That lengthened statute of limitations would apply to culpable entities, a provision the Senate added back into the legislation after the House stripped language related to those institutions from the bill.

Goldman moved to concur with the Senate’s version of the bill Friday, with members signing off on it unanimously.

Goldman’s bill first surfaced in April, when Becky Leach, wife of state Rep. Jeff Leach, R-Plano, shared her story of child sexual abuse before the House committee chaired by her husband. At that hearing, Becky Leach, who testified for the bill, said she wanted to use her experience to help others who haven’t yet come forward.

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Former Michigan Priest Charged With 6 Counts of Sex Crimes

LANSING (MI)
Associated Press via New York Times

May 24, 2019

A Catholic priest who admitted when he resigned from a Flint-area parish that he had sexually abused a child has been charged with several counts of sexual assault dating back decades.

The Detroit News and The Flint Journal report that prosecutors charged 80-year-old Vincent DeLorenzo on Thursday with six counts of both first- and second-degree criminal sexual conduct.

The Diocese of Lansing says eight people have accused DeLorenzo of sexual abuse and that he’s being defrocked.

Court records list DeLorenzo as a Lantana, Florida, resident, but The Associated Press couldn’t find a listed phone number for him in that area and wasn’t able to reach him for comment.

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