Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Child abuse allegations for religious groups

Child abuse allegations for religious groups
Monday, 09 March 2009 15:16 RC News
A television documentary has reportedly uncovered cases of child abuse in two religious groups
Two religious groups have been reported to the police for abusing children, after an investigative journalism documentary was televised on Sunday evening by public broadcaster DR.
Several child and teen members of the groups Father House and Evangelist said on the programme that they had regularly experienced physical beatings and forms of mental torture that included the driving out of demons.
Social Democrat Lars Rasmussen, a city council member, reported the two religious groups to the police on Monday.
It is the second time that Father House has been reported to the police for alleged child abuse. Police were forced to drop a similar case in November due to a lack of evidence.
According to DR, children’s rights advocacy group Børns Vilkår has been aware of some of the accusations against the organisations for some time, but it has been unable to intervene due to the groups’ closed-door policies.
Evangelist refuted the charges through a written statement to the station.
‘We have never been charged with these violations before. We are astonished over the criticism. There are a lot of families that come to us with difficult problems and we often help to get children from wrecked families re-established so they can again function normally,’ read the statement.
Evangelist’s founder, Christian Hedegaard, has indicated he plans to sue DR over the programme and its allegations.

Archdiocese to aid clergy abuse victims

Archdiocese to aid clergy abuse victims
FREE COUNSELING Group therapy sessions offered to adult survivors of childhood sexual molestation
March 7, 2009
BY MAUDLYNE IHEJIRIKA Staff Reporter mihejirika@suntimes.com
Adult survivors of childhood sexual abuse by clergy are being offered free counseling -- from the church itself.
Survivors, along with their families, are being invited to join therapy groups sponsored by the Archdiocese of Chicago, church officials said Friday.
The 12-week group sessions for male survivors will begin Saturday in Lincoln Park. For women, the sessions begin March 19 in south suburban Evergreen Park.
The survivors group is open not only to those abused by priests but any adult sexually abused as a child, archdiocese officials said.
A separate, four-week session for family members of those abused by clergy begins Saturday at the Archbishop Quigley Center, 835 N. Rush.
Offered by the archdiocese's Office of Assistance Ministry -- established in 1992 to help victims of the priest sex abuse scandal -- the groups will be run by outside professionals, a spokeswoman said.
Mixed feelings
Officials said the therapy offerings are not in response to lawsuits filed against the church in connection with the sex abuse scandal, or the settlement last fall in which the archdiocese paid $12.6 million to 16 sexual abuse victims.
"It's not anything mandated. Anything that can help victims, Cardinal [Francis George] supports," archdiocese spokeswoman Susan Burritt said. "The cardinal absolutely believes this is why we're here, what we do as a church."
David Clohessy, of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, had mixed feelings about the offer.
"We think therapy for survivors is very helpful, if not crucial,'' he said. "But at the same time, a therapeutic relationship is based on trust. And for many who have been victimized by priests, brothers, nuns and seminarians, it may well be hard to trust archdiocesan-sponsored therapy."
For more information or to sign up for the sessions, go to www.archchicago.org.

Catholic bishops warned in '50s on abusive priests

Last updated March 30, 2009 4:10 p.m. PT
Catholic bishops warned in '50s on abusive priests
By RACHEL ZOLLAP RELIGION WRITER
The founder of a religious order that treats Roman Catholic priests who molest children concluded in the 1950s that offenders were unlikely to change and should not be returned to ministry, according to his letters, which were obtained by plaintiffs' lawyers.
The Rev. Gerald Fitzgerald, founder of the Servants of the Paraclete, was so sure of the priests' inability to control themselves that he tried to buy an island to isolate them.
Fitzgerald discussed the issue with Pope Paul VI and in correspondence with several bishops, according to the National Catholic Reporter, an independent newspaper that reported the full content of the letters Monday.
The documents challenge recent statements by U.S. bishops that before the clergy sex abuse scandal erupted in the 1980s and again in 2002, they were unaware of the risks of moving predators among parishes.
"I myself would be inclined to favor laicization for any priest, upon objective evidence, for tampering with the virtue of the young, my argument being, from this point onward the charity to the Mystical Body should take precedence over charity to the individual," Fitzgerald wrote in a 1952 letter to Bishop Robert Dwyer of Reno, Nev.
"Moreover, in practice, real conversions will be found to be extremely rare," he continued. "Hence, leaving them on duty or wandering from diocese to diocese is contributing to scandal or at least to the approximate danger of scandal."
The Los Angeles law firm Kiesel, Boucher & Larson, which has brought many abuse cases against California dioceses, persuaded a judge in New Mexico to unseal the letters in 2007, according to Helen Zukin, an attorney at the firm.
The attorneys then verified that the documents were authentic during depositions with Fitzgerald's successor as the Paracletes servant general, the Rev. Joseph McNamara, Zukin said.
Leaders of the Servants of the Paraclete could not be reached for comment Monday.
Fitzgerald set up the Paraclete treatment center in the late 1940s in Jemez Springs, N.M., mainly to help clergy struggling with alcoholism and emotional troubles. Soon, bishops began sending him priests who had molested young people or could not keep their celibacy vows.
In a 1957 letter to Bishop Matthew Brady of Manchester, N.H., Fitzgerald wrote that abusive priests only pretended to repent and change "to be again in a position where they can continue their wonted activity." He said eventually the church would have to establish "a uniform code of discipline and of penalties" to protect the priesthood.
More than four decades later, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops did just that. It created a national discipline and child protection policy after news reports and court files unsealed in 2002 showed that many bishops had moved guilty priests from assignment to assignment without notifying parents or police.
Under the new plan, offenders are barred from church work or ousted from the priesthood altogether. American dioceses have paid more than $2.6 billion in abuse-related costs since 1950, according studies commissioned by the U.S. bishops.
By the 1960s, Fitzgerald was losing control over the direction of the religious order, and medical and psychological professionals began working at the center - a change he had resisted. Those experts said some abusers could return to ministry.
The New Mexico treatment center closed in the 1990s in the face of lawsuits over priests who had molested children while staying at the Jemez Springs site or after being treated there.
---
On the Net:
National Catholic Reporter: http://ncronline.org
U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops: http://www.usccb.org

Murder trial in child cult death

http://www.seattlepi.com/national/1110ap_child_slain_cult.html
Last updated March 30, 2009 7:29 a.m. PT
Murder trial of 5 in Md. cult child death to begin
THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
BALTIMORE -- A Baltimore mother is going on trial with four other suspected cult members, all charged with the death of the woman's young son.
Authorities say the five defendants are accused of starving Javon Thompson in part because he wouldn't say "Amen" after meals. The trial was set to open later Monday in Baltimore Circuit Court.
The 1-year-old child's remains were found in a suitcase in Philadelphia last year. Prosecutors say the child died in December 2006.
Prosecutors say the mother of the child, Ria Ramkissoon, was part of a religious cult identified in court documents as 1 Mind Ministries. All five are charged with first-degree murder and child abuse resulting in death.

Priest convicted of sexually abusing boy

http://www.seattlepi.com/national/1110ap_priest_abuse.html
Last updated March 26, 2009 3:48 p.m. PT
Texas jury convicts priest of sexually abusing boy
THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
EASTLAND, Texas -- A former priest whose child sex abuse conviction was overturned on appeal in Texas has been found guilty of the same crime during his retrial.
Jurors took less than an hour Thursday to find the Rev. Thomas Teczar (TEK'-zahr) raped and molested an 11-year-old boy in the early 1990s. He faces up to life in prison.
The Fort Worth Catholic Diocese had assigned Teczar to work mostly unsupervised, despite his history of sexual misconduct in the Diocese of Worcester, Mass.
Now the Fort Worth diocese has asked the Vatican to defrock Teczar.
The diocese has paid about $6 million in civil settlements to six of Teczar's victims in Texas. Other victims in Massachusetts also have received settlements.

Fresno sex abuse trial

www.catholicnewsagency.com
Cardinal Mahony appears in court for Fresno sex abuse trial

Cardinal Roger Mahony
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Los Angeles, Calif., Mar 19, 2009 / 03:17 am (CNA).- Archbishop of Los Angeles Cardinal Roger Mahony on Tuesday testified at a civil trial concerning a clergy sexual abuse case in the Diocese of Fresno. He told jurors he did not recall any allegations of sexual abuse during his time as an official there, and that if someone was aware of it occurring it should have been reported immediately.
Cardinal Mahony was ordained a priest for the Diocese of Fresno in 1962 and became its auxiliary bishop in 1975.
Two brothers, George and Howard Santillan, allege that they were molested by a parish priest in the town of Wasco between 1959 and 1973. They also allege in the lawsuit that the diocese failed to protect the children from abuse and failed to address it, the Los Angeles Times reports.
George Santillan is now a 59-year-old retiree living in Arizona. He watched the three-hour deposition from the audience.
The plaintiffs’ lawyers subpoenaed the cardinal, believing his deposition offers evidence that the diocese may have been informed of the alleged molestation by a housekeeper. According to court documents, the housekeeper let the boys into the accused priest’s rectory bedroom and knew they were alone with him.
"I don't recall any case while I was here of allegations of sexual abuse of a child," Cardinal Mahony testified. "I don't know how it would be handled, because I don't recall it."
He said there were no “procedures” or “handbooks” to describe church employees’ duties to report abuse. According to the Los Angeles Times, the cardinal said he would have expected the housekeeper to come forward.
"She should tell somebody," he testified. "If anyone has knowledge that a child was in danger, any human being has to do something about it."
The cardinal said that during his time in the Diocese of Fresno, sexual abuse of children was not discussed as an issue among church officials or even society at large.
“Any kind of problem like this was looked at as a spiritual failure." "It was dealt with as a spiritual problem," Cardinal Mahony said, explaining the cultural attitudes of the time.
Jeff Anderson, a plaintiff’s attorney, asked the cardinal what hypothetical situations could be considered grounds to suspect child sexual abuse by priests. The Los Angeles Times reports that he “balked” at the line of inquiry and said the attorney should focus on the actual case before the court.
Anderson asked the cardinal if he had ever had boys visit him in his private quarters. The cardinal answered that he had not, except for possibly his nephews.
"It just wouldn't be appropriate. I avoided it at all costs,” the cardinal said.
Anthony De Marco, another plaintiff’s attorney, asked him about the propriety of a priest massaging a child. The cardinal said it was inappropriate but may not have raised concerns at the time.
“In those days, that was not in somebody's forethought that it was a sexual thing," he said.
On Monday the cardinal’s attorney had asked the presiding judge to allow the cardinal to enter the courthouse through a separate entrance, citing security reasons. The request was denied.
According to the Los Angeles Times, Cardinal Mahoney was accompanied by two attorneys and a spokesman for the Archdiocese of Los Angeles. Fresno County sheriff’s deputies escorted the group to and from the courtroom while camera and photo crews surrounded them.
Copyright @ CNA (http://www.catholicnewsagency.com)

Sex abuse case against Catholic school

Sacked City lawyer launches £5million sex abuse case against Catholic school blasted by TV soccer pundit
By Daily Mail ReporterLast updated at 1:28 PM on 19th March 2009
A former high flying City lawyer has launched a £5 million sex abuse claim against his Catholic school.
The victim, who was a partner at one of London's biggest firms, said his promising career was ruined because of "inappropriate behaviour" triggered by years of abuse as a child.
The case is due to begin at the High Court on Monday and will be by far the biggest claim of its kind seen in Britain. The largest damages payout for sex abuse so far is £600,000.
'Ordeal': Football pundit Mark Lawrenson has spoken of 'horrific beatings' at the Jesuit school, right, named by the City lawyer
The 50-year-old solicitor, who cannot be identified for legal reasons, attended the Jesuit-run Preston Catholic College between 1969 and 1976.
He was a contemporary-of TV football pundit Mark Lawrenson, who has described the horrific beatings he suffered by priests while he was a schoolboy.
The victim, who is identified only as MXM, claims that one priest subjected him to 'repeated sexual abuse and assaults' while at the Lancashire school.
He says his career was blighted by the 'psychiatric difficulties' that dogged his adult life and led to a breakdown.
MXM became a litigation partner in 1994 at the law firm. However, he was dismissed three years later after he gained a reputation for reckless alcoholfuelled behaviour and has been unable to rebuild his career at the same level.
According to legal documents seen by the London Evening Standard, the Hammersmith-based divorcee has suffered 'depression, nightmares, anger, mood changes, feelings of estrangement ...difficulty forming and sustaining relationships, alcohol abuse, reckless behaviour, sleep disturbance and unhappiness".
He has had years of therapy since the breakdown in 2005.
His barrister Robert Seabrook QC, is expected to argue that his client has missed out on 12 years of partnership earnings estimated at around £400,000 a year, as well as other benefits such as pensions.
The Jesuit priest is named as Father Michael Spencer, who died in 2000, but the lawyer argues the abuse was witnessed by at least one other priest and was widely known about at the school.
The case, against the school governors and the Society of Jesus Trust, could open a floodgate to other large claims by high-earning professionals who have not come forward because they did not think it would be worth the effort and cost.
Peter Garsden, president of the Association of Child Abuse Lawyers, said: "Traditionally British courts don't like big damages settlements because they feel that would bring in the American system, 'which would be awful'."
A spokesman for the British " province" of Jesuits said: "The Society takes any allegation of this nature extremely seriously, and since this claim was formally made first in June 2006, [has] sought, at all stages, to assist positively with enquiries."
He added: "In accordance with the province's child protection guidelines, the province's safeguarding coordinator, whose primary role is to offer support and help to any victim to mitigate the effects of abuse of any kind, has been fully involved."
Thousands of successful cases have been bought against the Jesuits in America but this is thought to be the first time a claim has reached a British court.

California church abuse

http://www.seattlepi.com/national/1110ap_california_church_abuse.html
Last updated March 18, 2009 1:27 a.m. PT
LA Cardinal testifies in valley church abuse case
By GARANCE BURKEASSOCIATED PRESS WRITER
FRESNO, Calif. -- Cardinal Roger Mahony of Los Angeles made a rare court appearance to testify that he knew nothing of sexual abuse two brothers claim they suffered years ago at the hands of a priest in rural central California.
Mahony, who heads the nation's largest Roman Catholic archdiocese, served as a high-level administrator for the Fresno diocese during some of the 14 years George and Howard Santillan say they were molested by Monsignor Anthony Herdegen in Wasco, a small farming town near Bakersfield.
Wearing his formal clergy collar, the cardinal testified Tuesday that he never heard during his 16 years at the Fresno diocese that Herdegen was molesting boys in his bedroom, nor did he hear of any other alleged sexual crimes.
"I don't recall any case of any allegation of sexual abuse of a child by a priest so I don't know how it might have been handled because I never heard of it," Mahony told jurors in Fresno County Superior Court.
"Early on, any kind of problem like this to my recollection was looked at as a spiritual failure, that there was a lack of spiritual fortitude and therefore it was treated with a spiritual remedy. We became aware that that wasn't appropriate."
It's the second time Mahony has ever taken the witness stand to answer questions before jurors in cases tied to the clergy sex abuse scandal that has shaken the U.S. church.
The Santillan brothers sued the Fresno diocese in 2003, claiming negligence by officials who they say should have known about the alleged abuse.
The Rev. Jesse Avila, a spokesman for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Fresno, said he could not comment on the ongoing trial, but said the diocese has faced about a dozen cases claiming abuse by clergy in the last 70 years. Defense attorneys also declined comment.
The brothers claim Herdegen sexually abused them from 1959 through 1973 while he served as a priest at St. John's Catholic Church, their hometown parish in Wasco. Their attorney, Jeff Anderson, said Herdegen's housekeeper let the boys into the priest's rectory bedroom and knew they were alone with him.
In that period, Mahony directed the Fresno diocese's charities and social services and served as its chief archivist. Anderson said the cardinal supervised Herdegen and had access to secret files in which church higher-ups kept note of potential abuses and other sensitive or damaging information.
The brothers filed their lawsuit during a one-year window that voided the statute of limitations on old abuse claims in California.
A trial court initially dismissed their suit, ruling that there was no evidence that the diocese knew of abuse by Herdegen. But last May, a three-judge panel of the 2nd District Court of Appeals ruled that Mahony's deposition testimony showed church officials either knew or should have known that Herdegen was a potential predator.
The civil trial takes place against the backdrop of a reported grand jury investigation of the actions of the cardinal and other Los Angeles archdiocese officials over their handling of alleged clergy child molestation cases.
Tod Tamberg, spokesman for the archdiocese, declined to comment on the probe.
In 2007, the archdiocese reached a record $660 million settlement with more than 500 alleged victims of child abuse. In total, the abuse scandal has cost the U.S. church more than $2.6 billion in settlements and related expenses since 1950, according to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.
The last time Mahony appeared in court was in 1998 for the case of two brothers who said they were abused for years by a Stockton priest while Mahony was bishop of that diocese. The cardinal also testified in that case - which resulted in a $7.5 million settlement - that he was unaware of the abuse.
Many victims need encouragement to come forward, and the few cases that go to trial renew their faith in the justice system, said David Clohessy, national director of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests.
"It defies common sense and logic that in a small closely knit diocese like Fresno that other church officials did not know about this long-standing abuse," Clohessy said. "We praise these two brave men for having the courage to submit to this process."

Cleric marries 12-year-old

http://www.seattlepi.com/national/1110ap_as_indonesia_child_bride.html
Last updated March 18, 2009 3:54 a.m. PT
Indonesia cleric detained for marrying 12-year-old
ASSOCIATED PRESS WRITER
JAKARTA, Indonesia -- A Muslim cleric whose marriage to a 12-year-old girl triggered controversy in Indonesia has been detained along with the girl's father on suspicion of violating the child protection law, police said Wednesday.
Cleric Pujiono Cahyo Widianto, 43, wed the girl before thousands of people in Central Java province last August, arguing that he had committed no crime because he intended to wait until she reached puberty before consummating their relationship.
Police Detective Roy Siahaan said the cleric, who runs an Islamic boarding school and several businesses, was officially named a criminal suspect Tuesday following several days of questioning. He has not been charged but is in police detention.
On Wednesday, the girl's father, 36-year-old Suroso, also was detained and named a suspect for giving away the bride. Both Suroso, who like many Indonesians uses only one name, and Widianto could face up to 15 years in prison if found guilty of violating the country's child protection law, which forbids marriage to anyone under 18 years old.
The cleric's wedding and proclamations that he intended to also marry two other girls aged 7 and 9 angered many in Indonesia, the world's most populous Muslim nation with more than 210 million believers. Complaints came from Religious Affairs Minister Maftuh Basuni, child rights groups and the Indonesia Ulemma Council - the country's top Islamic body.
"This is pedophilia ... pure and simple," said Arist Merdeka Sirait, secretary general of the National Commission for Children's Rights, who praised the police action. "We aren't living in the Stone Age here, we have to protect our children against these kinds of things."
Police returned Widianto's young wife to her parents' care not long after the marriage ceremony.

Clergy abuse claims rose last year

http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/national/1110ap_rel_church_abuse_costs.html
Last updated March 13, 2009 5:41 a.m. PT
AP Newsbreak: Clergy abuse claims rose last year
By RACHEL ZOLLAP RELIGION WRITER
NEW YORK -- Roman Catholic dioceses and religious orders saw a rise in molestation claims against clergy last year, according to a new report from U.S. bishops. Nearly all the 803 cases involved adults who said they had been abused as children decades ago.
Church leaders paid less in settlements, attorney fees and other abuse-related costs. Still, the amount reached just over $436 million, bringing the total payouts for abuse to more than $2.6 billion since 1950, according to studies commissioned by the prelates.
The statistics are part of an annual review of child safety in American dioceses and religious orders that is mandated by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. The report is set to be released Friday. The Associated Press obtained a copy.
As part of the review, auditors found that all but one of the dioceses they evaluated had fully implemented the bishops' child protection policies by the end of the year.
The safeguards include background checks for employees and volunteers, safe environment training for children and a discipline plan for offenders that removes them from any public church work. Dioceses increased their spending on safety programs to $23 million in 2008.
Two dioceses - in Lincoln, Neb. and Baker, Ore. - refused to participate in the audit. Five eparchies, or regional districts for parishes that follow the Eastern rite, also refused.
The reports from the bishops are part of the reforms they enacted in 2002, at the height of the scandal, which began with the case of one predatory priest in the Archdiocese of Boston and spread throughout the U.S. and beyond. Thousands of clergy have been accused since 1950.
The number of abuse claims in 2008 increased by 16 percent over 2007, when 691 claims were made. Similar to past years, more than 80 percent of the clergy accused in 2008 are dead, missing or already out of public ministry or the priesthood altogether. However, 40 percent of the men accused last year had never been named in previous abuse cases.
Following a pattern that researchers discovered in previous studies, most of the people who made claims last year were men and more than half said they were between the ages of 10 and 14 when they were molested. Only 30 percent of the new claims came through attorneys; about half of the victims came forward on their own.

Rabbi convicted of molesting daughter

http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/national/1110ap_rabbi_on_trial.html
Last updated March 12, 2009 7:18 a.m. PT
Rabbi convicted at NY trial of molesting daughter
THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
NEW YORK -- An ultra-orthodox rabbi who cross-examined his own daughter at his sex-abuse trial has been convicted of molesting her as a child.
A Brooklyn federal jury convicted 59-year-old Israel Weingarten of five counts of traveling outside the country to have sex with a minor.
The 27-year-old victim says she had been molested while living with her family in Hasidic communities in Belgium, and on trips to England and Israel.
Weingarten, a member of the Satmar community in suburban Monsey, acted as his own lawyer during the trial, delivering a rambling opening statement in which he claimed he was being falsely accused by a daughter who rebelled against a strict upbringing.
Jurors sided with the victim, who turned her head and wept during cross examination, but then lashed out at her father, saying from the stand: "My feeling from your molesting me was utmost fear and blackmail and years of torture ... Didn't I get hit enough?"
After the verdict, the daughter said being questioned by her father was "like being molested again." She added: "I wish he wasn't my father."
The woman has changed her name, but came forward and identified herself in open court as the daughter of the rabbi. She appeared at the trial wearing a pants suit and with her hair down - a mainstream look she said her father had scorned.
She told jurors that once she grew up she left the faith and hoped "to forget everything that happened to me," mindful that her father had warned her she "would never be able to prove it." But she went public at the urging of her mother, who was embroiled in a custody dispute with her father.
She told the FBI in 2003 that she was victimized since age 9. Prosecutors alleged Weingarten sexually abused her, sometimes on a daily basis, and moved the family around to help conceal his crimes.
Sentencing was scheduled for April 3.

Head of Catholic school accused of child abuse

School head accused of sex abuse
The head teacher of a Catholic school in Southampton has been charged over allegations of historical child abuse.
Brother Jack Davis, 65, from St Mary's College in Midanbury Lane, has been charged with six counts of indecent assault against boys under 14.
The charges relate to alleged indecent assaults involving three different boys, between 1973 and 1984.
Brother Davis, who now lives in Brent, north London, is due before Southampton magistrates on 24 March.
In a statement the school said: "This matter will be dealt with strictly in accordance with the safeguarding guidelines of the Catholic Church and therefore Brother Jack has been suspended from his role as headmaster and from all other responsibilities.
"He has also been required to move away from the community house in Southampton."
The co-educational day school is a charity run by the Catholic Brothers of Christian Instruction.

Bishop in Ireland 'stands aside'

Bishop in Ireland 'stands aside'

Bishop Magee was private secretary to three popes

An Irish bishop has agreed to "stand aside" to aid an investigation into the handling of allegations of clerical sex abuse in his County Cork diocese.
Newry-born Bishop John Magee, 72, had faced a series of calls for his resignation since an independent report was published just before Christmas.
It found Cloyne Diocese had put children at risk of harm.
This was, the report said, due to an inability to respond appropriately to abuse allegations.
It was conducted by the National Board for Safeguarding Children in the Catholic Church in Ireland (NBSC), a body set up by, but independent of the Catholic Church.
This is an indication of the importance which the church gives to safeguarding children and caring for the needs of victims
Cardinal Seán Brady
Patsy McGarry from the Irish Times said it was "unlikely" Bishop Magee, who was private secretary to three popes, will have an active role within the church again.
"It is alleged he ignored church guidelines, state guidelines, and Vatican directives on the matter," he told BBC News.
"Bishop Magee is 72-years-old and would have had to retire in three years' time anyway."
Archbishop Dermot Clifford of Cashel in Tipperary will take on the bishop's role and duties in the diocese with immediate effect.
In a statement, Cardinal Seán Brady, Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All Ireland, said: "This is an indication of the importance which the church gives to safeguarding children and caring for the needs of victims."

Last updated March 5, 2009 4:42 p.m. PT

Sex abuse victims protest NYC's new archbishop

Sex abuse victims protest NYC's new archbishop
THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

NEW YORK -- Advocates for victims of clergy abuse say the man chosen to head the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of New York hasn't done enough to address the problem of abusive priests.
The Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests handed out leaflets about Archbishop Timothy Dolan in front of St. Patrick's Cathedral in Manhattan on Thursday.
The abuse victims' group says Dolan let known predators work in Milwaukee, where he is currently archbishop. He will take over the New York Archdiocese on April 15.
Dolan has defended his record in fighting abuse. In 2004, he released the names of priests who had been accused of molesting children.
A spokesman for the New York archdiocese says it has policies to deal with sex abuse.
Page last updated at 16:31 GMT, Thursday, 5 March 2009

Rape row sparks excommunications

Rape row sparks excommunications
By Gary Duffy BBC News, Sao Paulo

A Brazilian archbishop says all those who helped a child rape victim secure an abortion are to be excommunicated from the Catholic Church.
The girl, aged nine, who lives in the north-eastern state of Pernambuco, became pregnant with twins.
It is alleged that she had been sexually assaulted over a number of years by her stepfather.
The excommunication applies to the child's mother and the doctors involved in the procedure.
The pregnancy was terminated on Wednesday.
Abortion is only permitted in Brazil in cases of rape and where the mother's life is at risk and doctors say the girl's case met both these conditions.
Police believe that the girl at the centre of the case had been sexually abused by her step-father since she was six years old.
The fact that she was pregnant with twins was only discovered after she was taken to hospital in Pernambuco complaining of stomach pains.
Her stepfather was arrested last week, allegedly as he tried to escape to another region of the country.
He is also suspected of abusing the girl's physically handicapped older sister who is now 14.
Intervention bid
The Catholic Church tried to intervene to prevent the abortion going ahead but the procedure was carried out on Wednesday.
Now a Church spokesman says all those involved, including the child's mother and the doctors, are to be excommunicated.
The Archbishop of Olinda and Recife, Jose Cardoso Sobrinho, told Brazil's TV Globo that the law of God was above any human law.
He said the excommunication would not apply to the child because of her age, but would affect all those who ensured the abortion was carried out.
However, doctors at the hospital said they had to take account of the welfare of the girl, and that she was so small that her uterus did not have the ability to contain one child let alone two.
While the action of the Church in opposing an abortion for a young rape victim is not unprecedented, it has attracted criticism from women's rights groups in Brazil.

US court allows man to sue Vatican

US court allows man to sue Vatican over sexual abuse by priest
A US federal appeals court has opened the way for a man to sue the Vatican after he was allegedly sexually abused 40 years ago as a teenager by a Roman Catholic priest.
By Tom Leonard in New York Last Updated: 2:39AM GMT 05 Mar 2009
In one what lawyers said was a landmark ruling, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in Portland, Oregon, decided that victims of sexual abuse by priest can take legal action against the Vatican - which has been accused of covering up for offenders - even though it is considered a sovereign nation.
The case was originally brought seven years ago on behalf of a plaintiff named only as John Doe, who claimed that he was sexually molested on several occasions when he was 15 or 16 by a priest named Father Andrew Ronan.
Before he was transferred to Portland, the late Mr Ronan had been moved out of two previous parishes, one in Ireland and the other in Chicago, after he admitted to sexually molesting young boys.
When the case finally came to court last year, the Holy See claimed immunity under an American law - the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act (FSIA) - that grants immunity before US courts to foreign states.
However, the court said that abuse could be an exception to the act, adding that the Vatican has "control over the priest in terms of his removal and his transfers, enough control that it can be held legally responsible as the master of the priest".
The ruling was "a major breakthrough in the sense that the problem emanates from the top", said Jeff Anderson, a lawyer for the plaintiff.

Church settles Texan abuse claims

Church settles Texan abuse claims

The Roman Catholic Church in Texas has reached a settlement worth $775,000 (£545,000) with five people who alleged they had been abused by priests.
All five victims said one priest - James Reilly - sexually assaulted them over 18 years while he served at a church in Arlington. He died in 1999.
One victim also complained of sexual abuse by two other priests, who have also since died.
The Bishop of Fort Worth, Kevin Vann, said he was deeply sorry.
In a statement from the Fort Worth Roman Catholic Diocese, he said that he was committed to preventing such tragedies in future.
"Bishop Kevin Vann, in addressing the individuals, said he is deeply sorry for any sexual abuse the victims may have endured and suffered by Reilly, Hanlon and Scholl," the statement said.
"He further stated that such actions are a sin and a crime. The bishop told victims that he prays that healing and reconciliation can be achieved in their lives."
Preventing abuse
Bishop Vann added that the diocese would address any charge of abuse as quickly as possible.
"I am committed to ensuring that the diocese's policies are adhered to so we can prevent future tragedy such as that which has befallen the victims of abuse," he said in the statement.
The five involved in the claims said they were abused by James Reilly who served at St Maria Goretti Catholic Church in Arlington from 1969 until his retirement in 1987.
Diocese spokesman Pat Svacina said he could not reveal details, such as the victims' genders or the dates of the alleged abuse.
One case also involved two other priests, James Hanlon and Gerard Scholl, both of whom served or taught in Texas and New Mexico from the 1970s to the 1990s.
Hanlon died in 1990 and Scholl died in 2002, according to records.
In 2006, the diocese settled with 11 men who said they had been abused by James Reilly when they were altar boys. The men received at least $1m (£705,000) each and payment for one year of counselling.

Mother to testify against Jerusalem child abuse ringleader

Last update - 22:45 01/03/2009
Mother to testify against Jerusalem child abuse ringleader
By Ofra Edelman, Haaretz Correspondent
Tags: Jerusalem, Elior Chen
The partner of Elior Chen, a spiritual leader who is suspected of orchestrating the worst case of systematic child abuse in Israel's history, signed a plea bargain with Jerusalem prosecutors. The deal obligates Chen's romantic partner to testify against Chen and other accomplices suspected of abusing a number of children. The woman admitted to authorities that she did not act to prevent Chen and others from abusing his children. In her statement to prosecutors, she included incriminating statements against Chen which are believed to significantly strengthen the government's case and the investigation against Chen.
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Chen is the leader of a group whose members are accused of abusing a number of children in Jerusalem. It was later revealed that the alleged victims include the children of one of the members of the group. At this point, Chen fled to Canada together with his family. Chen is currently in Brazil, where authorities are in the midst of efforts to complete his extradition to Israel. Police say Chen and his followers struck infants in the head with wooden hammers, shook them, beat them with fists, forced their bodies to lean against radiators, and force-fed them faeces.

Rwanda priest jailed for genocide

Rwanda priest jailed for genocide

A former Rwandan priest has been given a 25-year jail sentence for committing genocide, sexual assault and kidnapping during the 1994 killings in Rwanda.
Emmanuel Rukundo, a former army chaplain, took part in the abduction of Tutsis who sought refuge at a seminary, many of whom were later killed.
A UN war crimes court also convicted him of the attempted rape of a young Tutsi woman.
Some 800,000 ethnic Tutsis and moderate Hutus were slaughtered in 100 days.
Rukundo was arrested in Geneva in 2001 and will receive credit for the time already spent in detention.
The court said that Rukundo monitored local Tutsis and was often accompanied by soldiers and militiamen during the violence.
RWANDA'S 1994 GENOCIDE

6 April: Rwandan Hutu President Habyarimana killed when plane shot down
April-July: An estimated 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus killed
July: Tutsi-led rebel movement RPF captures Rwanda's capital Kigali
July: Two million Hutus flee to Zaire, now DR Congo
Rwanda's 100 days of genocide
"The accused was found to have abused his moral authority and influence to promote the abduction and killing of Tutsi refugees," the UN court said.
"Rukundo's acts were clearly part of the genocide," said Judge Joseph Asoka de Silva after the judgement had been delivered.
"When he committed these crimes, he intended to completely or partially destroy the Tutsi ethnic group."
Prosecutors had demanded life in prison for Rukundo.
He is the second Roman Catholic priest to have been convicted of genocide by the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, based in the Tanzanian town of Arusha.
Rukundo has up to 30 days to appeal against his sentence