Sunday, May 31, 2009

Commission on institutional child abuse

Reflections on the Ryan report
Sat, May 30, 2009
IN THE first full week of reflection on the horrors contained in the report of the Ryan commission on institutional child abuse, we have seen the leaders of church and State struggle painfully towards an adequate response. In their closing of ranks, in their defensiveness and in their resort to formulaic platitudes, both the Government and the leaders of the main religious orders seemed to share an initial desire to brush off the implications of the report. Left to those tender mercies, the story of independent Ireland’s greatest disgrace would indeed have been a mere historic footnote.
On the other hand, however, public opinion has finally woken up to the scale and depth of this scandal. If both Government and church have been following rather than leading opinion, it is because they were utterly unprepared for the wave of visceral revulsion unleashed by the report. Their surprise is not unreasonable. All the essentials of the abusive system were laid out 10 years ago in the RTÉ documentaries States of Fear. It should not have taken another decade for that truth to fully enter our collective consciousness.
It is a tribute to the work of the Ryan commission – and to the value of official inquiry – that this has finally happened. We have already seen how powerful this moment of awakening can be. It has forced both the Government and the religious orders to accept that the reprehensible 2002 deal to indemnify the orders in return for a paltry contribution was itself a shameful continuation of the unhealthy collusion of church and State. That acceptance must now be made concrete in the only morally acceptable form: a 50/50 sharing of the €1.2 billion cost of recompense. The extra money should go towards the victims, including those who were abused in day schools.
There are larger questions to be addressed, however. The Ryan report has to mark an end, not just to the denial of vicious crimes, but to the whole 19th-century model of church involvement in the delivery of basic social services. That model was shaped by social and political conditions that no longer exist and by the ability of religious orders to staff hospitals and schools with their own members. It is not appropriate to a diverse 21st-century Ireland in which these services are overwhelmingly paid for by the State. It is also a hindrance to the religious orders themselves as they seek to rediscover the moral radicalism of their founders. The State needs to face up to its responsibilities. The church needs to divest itself of power and control and return to an ethic of unconditional service to the weak and the marginalised.
As for the broader, newly awakened public, it must not allow its sorrow and anger to be dissipated in tears and blame. Ours is a society that has never followed through on its noble rhetoric about putting children first. The 900 children in the care of the Health Service Executive who do not have an allocated social worker are a mark of how far we have to go before we can feel secure in the knowledge that the atrocities revealed in the Ryan report belong to a very different society.
© 2009 The Irish Times

Children in state homes also abused

Independent.ie
Paedophile ring 'abused children in State homes'
Members of gardai, clergy and civil service infiltrated childcare system
By JIM CUSACK Sunday May 31 2009
A well-organised paedophile ring involving civil servants, ex-clergy, members of political parties and even gardai infiltrated the child-care system in Ireland.
Now campaigners believe that there were links between the Dublin-based ring and members of a well-organised paedophile ring which infiltrated the child-care system in north Wales, and which was finally exposed and broken up in the mid-1990s.
While the Catholic Church has been vilified in the Ryan Report there are now calls for an inquiry into the role of non-clerical abusers in state-run institutions
The Government has been taking a more severe legal attitude to victims of abuse in State-run schools and other institutions than the Catholic Church has to victims of clerical abuse, they say. The Department of Education has "taken on" one such victim, Louise O'Keeffe, who was raped by the headmaster of her school in west Cork when she was eight years old in 1973. Although former primary school headmaster Leo Hickey was convicted of multiple rape and abuse of children, Ms O'Keeffe was left with a legal bill of €500,000 after the State successfully fought her claim for compensation.
Hundreds of victims of rape and abuse by non-clerical teachers or care workers in the State's employ have received letters from the Dept of Education threatening that their cases will be fought.
Ms O'Keeffe, the High Court heard, suffered "catastrophic injuries" at the hands of the paedophile rapist Hickey -- who nevertheless continues to be paid his State pension of €26,000 a year.
Among the figures identified but never exposed because of insufficient evidence is a retired senior civil servant who would have the power to suppress indictments and reports on sex offenders.
Another is a retired former senior garda in Dublin who had well-known links to senior clergy and who was accused of raping a 13-year-old boy. The garda was transferred from a city station after the allegation but was never questioned or charged.
And at least one senior care worker remained in public employ until the mid-1990s, despite repeated claims by boys that he was an abuser and brought paedophiles from Britain and Northern Ireland to care homes to abuse boys.
Many boys who passed through the state-run homes later became teenage prostitutes. Several have made allegations about a ring of apparently rich and well-connected paedophiles with access to the homes in the 1980s.
In an ironic twist, an Irish woman who has been raising the issue of abuse of children in State-run institutions in Dublin, Loretta Byrne, was effectively forced from her job in the Department of Education in 1988 after she persisted in seeking action about allegations of abuse of boys in care.
Among the boys who claimed to have been raped in the late 1980s was Brendan O'Donnell, who went on to murder Imelda Riney, her three-year-old son Liam, and Fr Joe Walsh in 1994.
One home where Loretta Byrne says there was strong evidence of abuse was Trudder House in Wicklow, which was opened and run directly by the State in the 1970s specifically for Traveller children.
One of the first directors of Trudder House in Newtownmountkennedy was Duncan McInnes from Scotland, who raped and abused dozens of children in the home. He fled the country after complaints were made in 1981. He later died in Canada.
Paedophile David Murray was forced to leave the Sisters of Charity in Kilkenny in the mid-1970s after a boy said Murray had raped him. Rather than report this to the gardai, the Sisters helped Murray find a new job at Scoil Ard Mhuire at Oberstown, Co Dublin, where he worked for several years. Murray is believed to have had links with Welsh paedophiles who travelled between here and north Wales and even found jobs for some in State care homes here. He was eventually convicted of buggery and gross indecency and sentenced to 10 years' imprisonment in 1997.
By the time he was arrested and questioned in the mid-1990s, Murray had raped and abused boys in a succession of homes here and, it is believed, Wales and possibly Northern Ireland. Details of all this were excluded from the report which concentrated almost exclusively on the abuses in Church-run institutions.
Ms Byrne said: "The Government has been aware of the abuse that went on in state institutions for a very long time. [Judge] Mary Laffoy resigned because the Department of Education would not give her papers. They must release these papers if the victims in these places are to get the kind of closure that the clerical abuse victims have had in the redress process."
- JIM CUSACK
SearchQuery: Go
©Independent.ie

Abusers paid by insurers

Independent.ie
How the orders got more than they bargained for
The government talked tough but then it backed down and gave the religious a better deal on abuse compensation than they had expected
By MAEVE SHEEHAN Sunday May 31 2009
IN August 2000, a short newspaper report in the Irish Independent caught the eye of Sr Elizabeth Maxwell. A colleague had brought it to the nun's attention and she read it with interest. It was over a year since the Taoiseach, Bertie Ahern, had apologised for the abuse inflicted on children raised in homes and orphanages run by religious orders. Mr Ahern set up a commission to investigate the abuses. What Sr Elizabeth was reading now added another dimension: money. The commission intended to compensate the victims.
Sr Elizabeth was then director general of Cori, an umbrella group of religious orders. More than a dozen of them were facing claims of mistreating children, including her own order, the Presentation Sisters. Presumably, the State's plan to compensate some of those people would not help their defence.
Sr Elizabeth rang the only contact she had in the Department of Education, Tom Boland. Mr Boland, who now heads the Higher Education Authority, was on holidays. A few days later, Fergus Costello, another official in the Department, called her back. Mr Boland was still on holidays but would the religious orders be interested in meeting? Sr Elizabeth agreed.
Their first meeting was on September 25, 2000, in the Attorney General's office. Present at the meeting was Sr Elizabeth and Sr Helena O'Donoghue, provincial of the Sisters of Mercy, another order accused of abusing children. The AG was represented by Liam O'Daly and Chris Boudren, with Tom Boland and Fergus Costello from the Department of Education.
"It was made very clear to us that the scheme was being put in place whether or not we contributed," Sr Elizabeth later told the Public Accounts Committee. "The phrase used was: 'It is not predicated on your becoming part of it or not'. I recall it because it was such a Latinate word."
With curious detachment, she recalled how the scheme was "something we felt could be of interest to us". The alternative, spelt out to them by the government's representatives, was that the State would pay abused former residents, and then tell them to go after the religious for the rest, she said.
"That would still require the claimants to endure the rigours of cross-examination in court. We all agreed this was not attractive to former residents," she told the committee.
And so the negotiations began; the nuns and Brother Kevin Mullan of the Christian Brothers and a battery of advisors were ranged against officials from finance, education and the AG's office. The talks centred on money; how much the Church was willing to give, not how much the abuse of those children was worth. Being financial negotiations, the records make little or no mention of the plight of those who had been abused.
The religious orders played hardball. Initially government officials were unequivocal; they wanted nothing less than a 50/50 deal. They calculated that compensating victims would cost €254m and wanted a minimum of €127m from the religious orders. Privately they acknowledged that they would cap the religious orders' contribution but this bargaining position was withheld from the orders.
The religious orders had done their own sums. They counted up all the legal claims against the orders, calculated which might win and what they might cost and came up with between €50m and €60m.
That was their bottom line. In June 2001 they made their offer: €57m in cash, property and counselling services. Throw in a range of properties worth €51m that the religious orders had already donated to the State and charities in the past 10 years and their contribution came to €108m.
Most importantly, they wanted open-ended indemnity. They drew up their own draft document setting out the terms by which they wanted the State to protect them from being sued by former residents.
"We put an offer on the table. We were probably quite assertive about it and we said it was our final offer, but we expected a response from the Government. That was in June of that year. No response came," said Sr Elizabeth.
Perhaps the Department of Education thought it unworthy of one. A Department memo said it fell "far short of the working objective of the negotiations from the State's viewpoint, which was a minimum contribution of £100m (€127m)".
The Minister for Finance, Charlie McCreevy, told Michael Woods, the Education Minister, that it was "quite disappointing", fell "far short" of a "meaningful contribution" and was "quite inadequate". On top of that, the potential costs were escalating. By June, for instance, a Department memo stated it could reach €508m.
The frosty relations between Church and State further soured when the religious orders saw details of the confidential offer splashed all over the News of the World. "Today the Irish News of the World reveals that the Government is furious at the attitude of negotiators acting for the religious orders," thundered a leader column, while revealing the offer towards the compensation fund for victims.
The religious orders were "hurt" at the portrayal of their contribution as "paltry" and "mean", the Public Accounts Committee heard. "We felt -- and I am on record as saying -- that we were being treated shabbily by somebody on the State's side. Efforts were being made to bounce us from the offer we had made to a higher figure," Sr Elizabeth later told the Public Accounts Committee which investigated the deal in 2004.
When talks resumed on October 16, a different civil servant was in the chair. He was Paul Kelly, an assistant secretary in the Department of Education. It was now the State's turn to play hardball.
"It was a very different style of meeting at which it was put clearly to us that it was £100m (€127m) or nothing. There was no use talking about anything else, £100m was required from us. There was no point in talking unless we were in a position to agree to that. Frankly, we were not in a position to agree to it. So that meeting ended rather unsatisfactorily," Sr Maxwell recalled.
At this point, Michael Woods, a devout Catholic, took matters into his own hands. That afternoon, his official, Tom Boland, telephoned Sr Elizabeth, inviting her to meet with Dr Woods. She agreed to meet him on November 7.
The Education Minister -- who has denied links to Opus Dei or the Knights of Columbanus -- later claimed credit for "kick-starting" the talks. "My religion was an asset. They knew me and they knew my work," he told the Sunday Independent in 2003.
The night before her meeting with the minister, Sr Elizabeth received an unexpected reply. The letter changed the whole substance of the State's negotiations with the religious orders. The official, who had appeared so unequivocal to the nuns a couple of weeks before, now took a "very different" tone, according to Sr Elizabeth.
The letter agreed to several of their demands. The State would provide a "permanent indemnity" against litigation in cases which would come under the remit of the Redress Board. It would also accept part of the contribution property it had transferred in the past, along with other bits and pieces. And even though the State estimated the likely cost at €254m to €508m, the congregations' contribution could be capped at €128m, which represented 50 per cent of the lowest cost estimate.
The next day, the nuns and Brother Kevin Mullen met with Michael Woods and the Department of Education Secretary General John Dennehy. "The minister asked that we meet without our advisors," Sr Helena O'Donoghue told the Public Accounts Committee.
A second meeting followed on January 7 and the deal was done. The religious orders brought their legal advisor. Michael Woods and John Dennehy didn't. They tinkered with the educational package and the counselling of victims. They discussed the press release that would be issued after the cabinet meeting to approve the deal, and the figures it would contain.
"It was a question of presenting our package and putting all the elements together to equate with £100m or €128m because we had just crossed into euros at that stage," said Sr Elizabeth.
The only outstanding issue was protecting the religious congregations who contributed to the pot from being sued. The nuns tried to raise the indemnity but Dr Woods later said he refused to discuss it without legal advice from the AG's office.
There is no contemporaneous record of either meeting. Sr Elizabeth took "scrappy" notes during their meeting, as she had been feeling under the weather, she later said.
Michael McDowell, who was the attorney general, later angrily claimed he had been excluded from the meetings Dr Woods later claimed: "The legal people simply couldn't have attended -- it was a no-go area for them -- they had fallen out with the religious."
The deal was agreed in principle by the cabinet on January 30; along with the Taoiseach, Bertie Ahern, Mary Harney, who is now health minister, Noel Dempsey, Dermot Ahern, now justice minister and the Tanaiste, Mary Coughlan, were amongst those who approved it.
By the time the deal was signed by the 18 religious orders in June 2002, the religious had achieved even more than they initially bargained for. They paid €128m in total -- comprising €28.44m in cash, €12.7m in an education fund, €40m in old property transfers, €36.54m in new property transfers, and €10m in counselling services.
A post-script to the negotiations is revealing about the attitude of religious orders. Six months after the deal was done, an insurance company agreed to cough up €6.5m claimed by the religious orders as cover for the abuse claims.
Noel Dempsey, who succeeded Dr Woods as minister, asked the religious orders to contribute this money to the scheme. They refused. Sr Helena told the Public Accounts Committee that the congregations believed the insurance money was "a means of recouping the losses they had experienced".
They never did relinquish that €6.5m.
- MAEVE SHEEHAN
Irish Independent

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Bishop urged not to appeal release of priest abuse files

Lori urged not to appeal release of priest abuse files
Supporters of sex abuse victims ask diocese to release documents
By Daniel TepferSTAFF WRITER
Updated: 05/27/2009 12:17:16 AM EDT

BRIDGEPORT-- More than a dozen victims of sexual abuse by priests and their supporters marched to the Catholic Center Tuesday afternoon to urge Bishop William E. Lori not to pursue any appeals to block the release of thousands of documents detailing abuse by clergy since the 1960s.
But Lori was not available, so the protesters left a letter at the front desk and were given a written response from Bridgeport diocese officials.
"We are simply asking the bishop to stop this brutal, expensive legal battle and do the right thing and let these records out," said David Clohessy, director of the Chicago-based Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, who led the march up the tree-lined drive to the seat of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Bridgeport on Jewett Street. "The public and parishioners need to know who molested children and who enabled this crime to take place."
On Friday the state Supreme Court removed the last hurdle to the release of the documents produced by the diocese by court order under seal. The documents were submitted as part of more than a dozen lawsuits filed by people who claimed they were abused as children by priests in the diocese since the 1970s.
The thousands of documents are being stored in Waterbury Superior Court. Some of the documents, reviewed by the Connecticut Post, detail accusations of abuse by priests and efforts that were taken by then-Bishop Edward Egan to hide the abuse.
The diocese has 10 days to block the documents' release with a further appeal.
In a written statement handed to protesters Tuesday, Diocese spokesman Joseph McAleer stated the diocese is "currently reviewing its options in response to the Connecticut Supreme Court decision." He said that their primary objection to the decision concerns judicial fairness.
"In a state where the Catholic church has had to vigorously fight for its constitutional rights, we are going to continue to examine any and all legal options," he stated.
But Joseph O'Callaghan, founder of the local branch of Voice of the Faithful, an organization of Catholics who support more lay involvement in the running of the church, urged Lori to allow the release of the documents.
"While paying lip service to transparency, they have steadfastly resisted publication of court documents that will reveal the extent of their complicity and that of their subordinates in the crime of sexual abuse of children," he said.

Christian Brothers won't sell property to pay abuse claims

belfasttelegraph.co.uk
Order won’t sell property to pay abuse claims
By Alf McCrearySaturday, 30 May 2009
The Christian Brothers have no immediate plans to sell off property in Northern Ireland as part of the Redress Scheme to compensate victims of clerical abuse in the Republic in the wake of the Ryan report.
A Dublin spokesman for the Brothers said that the scheme applied within the Republic and that, to his knowledge, there were no comparable Christian Brothers' industrial schools in the north. He added that in the Republic “nothing was being ruled in or ruled out” until the Order had been given time within the next few weeks to decide on the best way forward.
Following strong representation from the Catholic hierarchy and Dublin Government this week, the order undertook to review the question of further compensation for the victims of clerical sexual, physical and emotional abuse in a number of institutions run by the Order in the Republic.
Earlier this year, the Order’s network of nine schools in Northern Ireland was handed over to a Trust.
©belfasttelegraph.co.uk

Friday, May 29, 2009

Enquiry documents may be destroyed

Belfast Telegraph
Cowen 'appalled' by abuse report
Friday, 29 May 2009
Related Articles
Video: Irish child abuse victim tells shocking rape story on live television

Taoiseach Brian Cowen said last night the report of the commission on child abuse is “one of the most important documents of our time”.
The Republic’s Attorney General is examining if documents relating to the inquiry can be retained or will have to be destroyed as evidence given was confidential.
Mr Cowen said he wanted a “strong response” from the religious orders to the government’s demand for further contributions for abuse victims.
In his most passionate comments to date on the devastating document, Mr Cowen said the country had been confronted with depravity, adding, “that shame will live with us all”.
“I am appalled by what I have read and horrified by what the victims have had to endure,” the Taoiseach said in a speech to a Fianna Fail rally at Loughrea, Co Galway.
“They say a week is a long time in politics, but for people in Ireland, this week was longer than most,” he said.
“It was a week where we saw the agony and the ecstasy of our country. We saw the highs we can achieve on the sporting field, or the ocean, when we work hard, are committed and focus on success.
“And we saw the lows of depravity that condemned so many of our children to misery, abuse and neglect.”
Health Minister Mary Harney yesterday said Mr Cowen would be taking a “robust” approach in his talks with religious congregations.
She made the comments as the Dail passed an all-party motion apologising to the victims of abuse and accepting all the recommendations of the Ryan report.
It also called on the religious congregations involved to make further contributions by way of reparation to the victims.
Ms Harney revealed she will ask the Attorney General to examine if documents relating to the inquiry can be retained. Labour deputy leader Joan Burton said their destruction would be an insult to the victims of abuse.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Catholic child abuse in Northern Ireland

Belfast Telegraph
Why were children handed to Church with no questions asked?
By Eamonn McCannThursday, 28 May 2009

Jim was 14 days old when placed with the Sisters of Nazareth at Termonbacca in Derry. What happened to him later disproves suggestions there was no equivalent in the North of the savagery inflicted on children in the Republic.
“The Sister’s knuckles were always scabbed and saturated with iodine from the beatings she handed out. She wore mittens in summer and winter.
“To hear the roars and screams of the orphans was terrifying ... If you wet the bed, you had to run what was known as the gauntlet, down a long, long passageway from the dormitory to the toilets, and as you ran and stumbled you’d be thumped up to a dozen times by the nuns and the monitors ... The senior monitor lined up all the kids and had us stripped naked. It was reminiscent of those pictures of Jews lined up in the concentration camps ...”
The fact that clergy in the South got away with the abuse for decades reflected the deference of State institutions to the Church. But how to explain the timid approach of the Northern State? The ruling Stormont party wasn’t greatly concerned about Catholic children, or about Catholics generally. Schools and ‘homes’ were handed over to the Catholic bishops, no questions asked.
In return, the Church kept its flock as politically quiescent as possible. Meanwhile, Catholic politicians lived in fear of a clout from the crozier. Nationalist candidates weren’t selected, they were anointed. This is key to understanding the absence of inquiry into the shipping to Australia and South Africa of large numbers of children. Scores were exported in job lots from Derry, from Nazareth House (girls) and Termonbacca (boys), to the other side of the world, instructed on board to believe that their families were dead or at least gone, given new names, ordered to forget their true names, before being farmed out for exploitation and abuse in the colonial setting they were bound for.
“I knew that I was Irish and that I was from Derry and that I had a brother,” said June. “I would cry myself to sleep and look forward to dreaming that my brother would come and find me in this foreign country and take me home.”
From arrival in Australia in 1947 until 1991, June made phone calls, wrote letters, pleaded with parliamentarians until, in Perth, at long last, she was handed her records. “There was my birth certificate and my school records. I was 51 and for the first time had something setting out my identity. I stood there in the office and sobbed and sobbed.”
June’s life was ravaged but she survived the cruelty and scorn in which the Church had held her. Billy hanged himself. He’d had problems with his family.
More relevant was the fact that he’d been seriously abused by clergy running the home he’d been consigned to. “The social worker drove me to the home and handed me over,” said Billy. “I remember the Brother signing for me as if I were some sort of delivery. Then the social worker got into his car and drove away.
“Within 15 minutes, the Brother had my trousers down and was abusing me. I didn’t cry out. I couldn’t speak.”
The pattern continued over the years he spent there. Dublin Archbishop Diarmuid Martin has been striving for the past fortnight to distance the Church from the religious orders exposed in the Ryan Report.
But the Ferns scandal, the Cloynes scandal, the huge imminent scandal in Dublin, etc, all have to do with diocesan clergy. One Derry mother described her experience:“I phoned my sister one night at three in the morning and held the phone out and said, ‘Listen to this,’ And she gasped and said, ‘What is that?’ I said, ‘It’s Ann Marie.’ She was howling. It wasn’t a scream. She was crouched down behind the sofa with my mother and me standing with our hands to our heads.
“She was howling like an animal ... My sister came over and we walked her around the roads all the rest of the night until the dawn came up, the two of us holding on to her. She was sobbing and crying. ... There’s nothing I could do to bring it out in public. I couldn’t bear to have people pointing the finger and saying, ‘There’s the wee girl who was raped by the priest’ ... Harold wrote to (a very senior Catholic cleric with all-Ireland responsibility) and spelt it out in detail, and had an acknowledgement back saying how distressed he was.
“I am not denying he probably was. But he says now that years ago nobody knew about priests and child abuse. He knew about (the priest) and our Ann Marie.
“He knew every detail and didn’t do anything ... I still catch my breath sometimes when I look at Ann Marie. When she’s going out with her friends I wonder what’s she’s thinking, how much she remembers, how heavy it is on her mind. But I can’t ask her. I don’t dare.
“She’s the only one I have and there’s a whole part of her closed off from me. To this day when I am alone, I can think of nothing else.”
When we turn away from the appalling vista on show in the South, perhaps we can turn to Jim, June, Billy, Ann Marie. When will Church and State say sorry to them, too, and make what amends they can?
All names have been changed

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Ireland to reform social services for children

Shamed by child abuse, Ireland to reform services
By Andras GergelyReutersTuesday, May 26, 2009 5:37 PM
DUBLIN (Reuters) - Ireland will reform its social services for children in line with the recommendations of a report cataloguing decades of abuse by priests published last week, Prime Minister Brian Cowen said on Tuesday.
Cowen apologized to victims for the state's failure to intervene in what the report described as endemic sexual abuse and severe beatings in schools for much of the 20th century and he urged religious orders to pay additional compensation.
"It is deeply shameful for all Irish people that this happened in our country and that for so long it was not confronted," he told a news conference.
Cowen welcomed Tuesday's announcement by the Catholic order of Christian Brothers that it would review the compensation paid to victims of sexual abuse and violence.
"I believe that other individual congregations involved should now also articulate their willingness to make a further substantial voluntary contribution," Cowen said.
Irish religious orders had previously refused to renegotiate a deal for victims, despite pressure from church leaders and politicians after last week's report into abuse at institutions the orders ran between the 1930s and the 1970s.
"The Christian Brothers accept, with shame, the findings of the Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse," the order said. "The congregation is deeply sorry for the hurt we have caused."
Religious orders' total contribution to a redress scheme for thousands of victims that is expected to top 1 billion euros ($1.4 billion) was capped at 127 million euros under a 2002 agreement.
FEAR, NEGLECT, SEXUAL ABUSE
The Commission said in its harrowing five-volume report, which took nine years to compile, that orphanages and industrial schools in 20th century Ireland were places of fear, neglect and endemic sexual abuse.
Cowen said the cabinet would implement all the report's recommendations, both to alleviate the impact on victims and to prevent future abuse by strengthening inspections and ensuring the provision of child-centered welfare services.
Chaired by a High Court judge, the commission blasted generations of priests, nuns and the Christian Brothers for beating, starving and, in some cases raping, children in Ireland's now defunct network of industrial and reformatory schools.
The 18 orders that signed the deal with the government -- including the Christian Brothers -- said on Monday they did not want to renegotiate its terms.
On Tuesday the Brothers begged forgiveness for the children's suffering and said they would review how much they could pay in reparation without compromising current services and investment.
The order will release an update on compensation within six weeks, it said, adding it would also conduct a wider review of the whole order, which had "lost its way and failed in its most basic duty."
Successful legal action by the Christian Brothers, the largest provider of residential care for boys in the country in the period examined by the report, led the Commission to drop its original idea of naming the people against whom the allegations were made.
Revelations of abuse, including a string of scandals involving priests molesting young boys, have eroded the Catholic Church's moral authority in Ireland, once one of the most devout countries in the world.
(Editing by Tim Pearce)
© 2009 Reuters

Compensation deal

Irish Times
Everyone knew the 2002 deal was bogus
Wed, May 27, 2009
RIGHT FROM the outset, both the Government and the religious orders knew that the €127 million contribution to the indemnity deal was bogus, and that it represented only a fraction of the then projected cost of the redress scheme to compensate victims of the criminal physical, sexual and emotional abuse on children in the care of religious orders, writes VINCENT BROWNE
That deal involved the State indemnifying the religious orders for all claims of compensation by the victims of the abuse, plus any legal costs arising from such claims. This was in return for an agreement on the part of the religious orders to make a cash payment to the redress scheme of just €28.44 million, at a time when the projected cost of the scheme was up to €500 million – this represents just over 5 per cent.
In addition, it was claimed that property valued at €76.86 million was to be transferred to the State as part of the deal. This was a misrepresentation of the actual position. As much as €50.8 million of such property transfer had nothing at all to do with the deal and was inserted into the agreement to confuse the issue. A further €26.06 million of property transfer was also added, although it must have been known then that such property transfers could not be done legally, for much of the property was held in trust.
Also, there was a provision of €12.7 million for an educational trust for the benefit of the residents where the criminal abuse had been inflicted. And a provision of €10 million for counselling. But neither the monies for the educational trust nor the provision for counselling went towards the redress scheme.
In October 2000 the government had announced it was to institute a compensation deal for victims of clerical abuse and it invited the religious orders to join in the scheme. The religious orders agreed and the first meeting between the State and the religious orders about how compensation for the victims should be shared took place in early November 2000 (I am relying here on documents obtained under a Freedom of Information application by Colin Murphy, while we worked together in Village magazine.)
At that first meeting were Sr Elizabeth Maxwell and Sr Helena O’Donoghue, both Sisters of Mercy, and Br Kevin Mullan of the Christian Brothers, all representing the Conference of Religious of Ireland (Cori), the umbrella body for the religious orders.
Representing the State were the secretary general of the Department of Education, John Dehenny, and Tom Boland, head of legal services and legal adviser to the department (he has been chief executive of the Higher Education Authority since January 2004). There were three people present from the attorney general’s office: the director general, Finola Flanagan, Liam O’Daly and Sinéad McSweeney. McSweeney was personal adviser to the then attorney general, Michael McDowell, and is now head of the Garda press office.
A memorandum on a possible compensation scheme circulated among the civil servants in April 2001, projecting “a possible 2,000 claims costing c.IR£100,000 each, ie, a possible bill of IR£200 million [€254 million] . . . Overall, it seems reasonable to think in terms of a maximum potential cost of up to IR£300m” – ie, €381 million.
The memorandum stated it was considered (by the civil servants) that the scheme would be funded on a 50:50 basis by the State and the religious orders. They thought they should make an opening claim on the religious orders of £150 million and settle for about £100 million. At a meeting on April 30th, 2001, Cori rejected both the proposed 50:50 share-out and the amount proposed.
By the end of June 2001 the civil servants had increased their projected cost of the redress scheme to up to £400 million and at a meeting with Cori shortly afterwards the religious orders made their “final offer”: just £20 million in cash; £10 million in property transfer; a £10 million trust fund for the further education of former residents of institutions; and £5 million for counselling services (much of which had already been spent). Cori also referred to the transfer of property previously to the State, valued at £40 million.
The then minister for finance, Charlie McCreevy, wrote to then minister for education Michael Woods, having been informed of the congregations’ offer. He said he found it “quite disappointing and far short of what I feel would amount to a meaningful contribution”. He concluded: “the package offered is quite inadequate and effectively leaves the State to bear virtually the full cost of the Redress Scheme”.
In a note dated November 6th, 2001, Tom Boland wrote that the proposed inclusion of property transfers from the congregations to the State over the previous 10 years was “a problem”. He continued: “It is difficult to see how such transfers can be included in the final package of measures, given that they occurred without any reference to a redress scheme.”
Michael Woods then intervened and the deal was finally concluded on June 5th, 2002.
© 2009 The Irish Times

More cases

Published on National Catholic Reporter
Sex abuse ... drip, drip, drip
By Tom Roberts
Created May 26, 2009
One has to wonder, given the string of events that have occurred during the past four months, whether the clergy sexual abuse has quietly reached a new stage, one that may yet drive the church to a deeper examination of the scandal’s causes.
I was talking today with Patrick Wall, a former Benedictine priest and a canon lawyer who currently works as a senior consultant for a California law firm that has represented hundreds of alleged victims. He thinks the crisis, given the recent government report from Ireland about horrific abuse in Catholic-run institutions over more than half a century, has reached a new level.
He noted other events of recent months:
It became known at the beginning of the year that a federal grand jury was investigating how the Los Angeles archdiocese handled accusations that dozens of priests molested hundreds of teenagers and younger children over many years. No one is talking and there is only speculation about what angle the federal prosecutor is taking or what statutes may have been violated.In late February, the news broke that the Oregon Province of the Society of Jesus, facing hundreds of claims of sexual abuse by Jesuits over a 60-year-period, has filed for bankruptcy.
Wall said the accused Jesuits in that region included priests from 11 different provinces and three foreign countries.
More recently, the Connecticut Supreme Court ruled that more than 12,000 pages of documents detailing sexual abuse allegations against priests of the Diocese of Bridgeport must be released.
The papers have to do with 23 lawsuits against six priests. They’ve been sealed since the cases were settled in 2001, but several newspapers, including The New York Times, Boston Globe and Hartford Courant, have been seeking the documents. A state Superior Court judge ruled in 2006 that the documents should be unsealed but the diocese appealed to the state Supreme Court. It is unknown, given the most recent ruling, when the documents will finally be released.
Perhaps the strategy of the bishops “is to stand and fight and die a thousand deaths. Maybe it is a new part of the scandal,” he said, noting that Cardinal Roger Mahony of Los Angeles appears to continue to fight a court order that documents be released as a part of an earlier settlement and other bishops are fighting efforts to alter state statutes of limitation so that alleged victims would be given the opportunity to file civil proceedings.
And across the pond, the warning’s been sent to expect yet another humbling report, this one on clergy sex abuse in the Archdiocese of Dublin.
The Ryan report, said Wall, “is everything we ever feared and more. It is a confirmation of the tragedy that I and others have personally heard about from survivors for the past decade. It shows there was a culture of secrecy and sexual depravity within the clerical culture.”
So far, church authorities have been able to ride out the bad news and the court rulings and grand jury findings without ever taking a serious look at the culture that generated the scandal and protected the perpetrators.
Could that change as the drip, drip, drip of information continues? How many more revelations can the clergy culture withstand before even those on the inside demand a serious examination of how it has worked in the past and how it so widely condoned such behavior?
Wall suggests three possibilities: the pope himself convenes a meeting to establish the mandate and set the direction for such an investigation; or he appoints the U.S. nuncio to conduct such a gathering, or he places the task in the hands of a special legate.

Copyright © The National Catholic Reporter Publishing Company

Sisters of St Clare promise reparations

Independent.ie
Sisters of St Clare also promise reparations
By Allison Bray and Grainne Cunningham Wednesday May 27 2009
JUST one of the 17 religious congregations at the centre of the row over abuse compensation joined the Christian Brothers in publicly acknowledging the need for further resources to be made available (see panel above).
The Irish Independent contacted representatives of the congregations seeking a response to yesterday's statement from the Christian Brothers, which promised further reparations for those who suffered in religious institutions.
A spokeswoman for The Congregation of the Sisters of St Clare said that "we do fully acknowledge a need for further resources to be made available".
However, she stopped short of promising further financial compensation but reiterated "we will be working with other congregations to explore further resources".
"The report was so devastating, you are almost paralysed," she said.
All of the congregations at the centre of the scandal are meeting this Friday to consider how to progress the situation.
However, Marianne O'Connor, director general of CORI, said the congregations involved in the scandal remain firm in their stance that they "don't wish to revisit the deal," and are not prepared to pay more to victims.
- Allison Bray and Grainne Cunningham
©Independent.ie

Where children were destroyed

Independent.ie
Wicked, debased 'special' world where children were destroyed
By Medb Ruane Wednesday May 27 2009
Michael O'Brien was buggered by a Rosminian brother only two days after he was incarcerated in a residential institution.
He'd been taken from home with his seven siblings, including his one-month old baby sister, after they were criminalised for being poor and young.
The buggery must have done awful damage to his developing young body and mind. But that was only for starters. The little boy was raped repeatedly, beaten up for it in the morning and humiliated verbally and emotionally almost every day.
Sadists
This spectrum of abuse -- sexual, emotional, physical -- is unfortunately typical of what is finally being acknowledged after the Ryan Report. Sadists and sodomists had an unending supply of fresh meat, courtesy of a Church that forbade contraception and sex education, while insisting it alone must care for the many poor. Too many children, not enough resources. It was a recipe for corruption.
Michael told the nation on Monday's 'Questions And Answers' that he'd wanted to kill himself after being interrogated during the Child Abuse Commission. "You're only in it for the money," a Rosminian Brother had taunted him, when we now know the orders profited from every child.
This classic projection sums up the inversions at the heart of the perverted behaviours so many children endured. In sado-masochism's true sense, it is an economy of two-sided coins where cruelty masquerades as kindness, greed as charity, lies as truth.
The image of the Christ child was debased in every abusive act. And Michael is a strong man, who made the best of his life despite the damage, because a woman loved him. He served as a Fianna Fail councillor and mayor. He was always loyal.
While it's neater to separate sexual assaults from physical and emotional violence, they belong to one, distorted kaleidoscope that starts with bullying and ends in the Ryan documents. Buggery, oral rape and other sexual crimes were partnered by physical and emotional abuses which had absolutely no limits.
The perpetrators don't deserve sympathy, but they must be understood, in as much as we can. This isn't about ignorant farm boys becoming brothers and not knowing any better. They were adults who had choices and are responsible for their own destructive behaviour. Something about the religious orders and institutions enabled them to find the part of the kaleidoscope that pleased them best.
The abuses are about power. The perpetrators got off on their authority and used it to desecrate the littlest and weakest, purely because children are vulnerable. The weaker you were, the worse it got. If Judge Ryan had investigated homes for the disabled, or the psychiatric institutions where some were sent, the nation would be in even greater shock.
The abuses are not about sex, even when they take that form. Women know instantly that being groped, sexually assaulted or penetrated is about being humiliated, in the most fundamental way.
The devastating aspects for children are much more complex. Their developing bodies can be permanently damaged by what adults may consider a relatively minor assault, leading to problems from incontinence to infertility. Their selves are developing just as delicately and will never, never, recover fully from the psychic and emotional damage. So the children cannot become the people they would have been. They've lost the lives they could have lived. Taught that their perceptions were wrong -- that they were bad when in fact the perpetrators were -- they were destabilised by a group that thrust its own distorted perceptions on them and on a culture. That is real power.
Until the Ryan Report, the children, now adults, were treated as outcasts and disbelieved. Even this week, the discussion on what happened between Bertie Ahern, Michael Woods and CORI excludes mention of what survivors' groups were saying -- to the contrary -- at the time.
Perverts
What is it about religious groups that draws such perverts to them? Perhaps the claim that they are 'special,' called by no less a being than God, and therefore somehow distinguished from the common mass of humanity. They do not consider themselves subject to the same rules as lesser mortals and don't feel obliged to abide by them.
This 'immunity mindset' applies across the spectrum of psychopathic and sociopathic behaviour and can infect normal people by lulling them into a position where that 'immunity mindset' is allowed. Wed this to the traditional favours the Catholic Church enjoys in Ireland, to its insistence for so long that canon law comes first, and the prospects promise extraordinary levels of difficulty.
Michael was asked why he didn't speak of the abuses on a 'Late, Late Show' where he reunited with his brother after 46 years. "I would have been an outcast again," he explained.
This is the principle of exclusion that shelters all abuses. It's the principle we need to drop now.
- Medb Ruane
©Independent.ie

Christian Brothers to hand over millions

Independent.ie
Brothers to hand over millions for the abused
'Shamed' order will transfer properties to separate trust
By John Walshe, Shane Phelan and Paul Melia Wednesday May 27 2009
THE Christian Brothers will hand over properties worth tens of millions of euro to compensate victims of institutional abuse, the Irish Independent has learned.
The dramatic, if belated, decision followed days of intense pressure on religious orders to contribute more than was agreed under the abuse deal with the Government.
Informed sources said the properties were unlikely to be handed over to the State, but instead to a separate trust which will decide how best they can be used. The trust will be "at arms length" from the Christian Brothers.
The Brothers will still retain some residences, but only to maintain the members of the congregation and to support selected commitments at home and overseas.
Last night, one of the other 17 religious orders who signed up to the deal also admitted further resources needed to be made available to victims.
When contacted by the Irish Independent, the Congregation of the Sisters of St Clare said they acknowledged "a need for further resources to be made available" but they were unable to offer any details on how they could do so.
The remaining orders refused to give any response.
Earlier, the Brothers said they accepted "with shame" the findings of the Ryan Commission and admitted that the congregation "had lost its way and failed in its most basic duty of care to children".
They promised an update on the details of how the move could be made within six weeks.
But the properties are certain to include the huge Emmaus Conference Centre which has 62 newly-refurbished bedrooms and is located near Dublin airport.
Also likely to be handed over are:
Parts of the complex that houses the Marino Institute of Education;
Property near Synge Street school;
Properties in Belfast.
The move signals that the Christian Brothers will not contribute any more funds directly to the €1bn-plus compensation bill footed by the taxpayer.
However, it will heap considerable pressure on the other orders also covered by the controversial indemnity deal, which limited their liability to just €128m, to come up with further ways of compensating victims.
Taoiseach Brian Cowen last night told the religious orders they would have to make a "substantial additional contribution" to compensate institutional abuse victims.
Assets
Mr Cowen also said the Government would consider looking at the statute of limitations to allow further prosecutions against abusers.
In the continuing fallout from the publication of the Ryan Commission report, Mr Cowen said the Government intended to invite the congregations to a meeting to discuss what further steps they plan to take to address victims' needs.
The head of the Christian Brothers congregation in Ireland, Brother Edmund Garvey, said he could not put a figure on the value of the property that would be made available.
He added that the brothers would be discussing the situation with the Government.
"The congregation is deeply sorry for the hurt we have caused -- not just for the mistakes of the past, but for the inadequacy of our responses over recent years," he said.
The order now has just 250 members left in Ireland, many of whom are no longer active due to age or infirmity.
The Christian Brothers and the Sisters of Mercy are the two largest orders in the country in terms of assets.
A survey of properties owned by the Christian Brothers in 2001 estimated their combined value at around €500m.
The value of properties available to the Brothers diminished greatly last year when 97 schools, valued at €400m, were transferred to the Edmund Rice Schools Trust.
Full ownership and control of the schools rests with the trust. One brother sits on the trust board, but within the next few years its composition will be completely made up of lay people.
However, the Irish Independent has established that the order has retained ownership of at least 20 other properties. The vast majority of those are in Dublin, with some holdings also in Cork, Meath and Kilkenny.
The other major religious landowner, the Sisters of Mercy, has at least 47 properties, held for it in trust by a number of companies.
These include convents, tracts of land and dwelling houses.
•Meanwhile, a leading international canon law expert last night urged the Government to force the religious to pay for their crimes against children.
Speaking to RTE's Prime Time Investigates from Washington, Fr Tom Doyle, a Virginia-based Dominican priest with a doctorate in canon law, said the Government should make the religious orders compensate their victims.
"My advice, based on my 25 years of experience in this, is, first, don't trust anything they say and be prepared to follow up the urging for voluntary donation or contribution with some form of force because that's what they'll understand.
"You're dealing with bodies that have had a great deal of privilege afforded them, a great deal of deference, that have basically been allowed to write their own ticket. And now that things are catching up, and the exposure is becoming more and more horrendous, the fact remains that these organisations will not do the right thing on their own because they don't know how to do it.
"They must be forced by a power greater than themselves, and, in your case, it's the Irish Government."
- John Walshe, Shane Phelan and Paul Melia
©Independent.ie
'

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Abuse fund rift deepens

Independent.ie
Pope poised to step in as abuse fund rift deepens
Cardinal puts pressure on orders to increase compensation cash
By John Cooney, Fionnan Sheahan and Tom Brady Tuesday May 26 2009
THE prospect of the Pope intervening in the row over abuse compensation loomed large last night as bishops and religious orders were locked in secret talks.
It followed another day of drama when the orders flatly refused to increase their €128m contribution to the compensation fund for victims.
This was despite the pleas of the country's leading clerics and senior politicians -- and the appointment of a top garda to see if there are grounds for criminal prosecutions in the devastating Ryan report on clerical abuse.
The Government is expected to indicate later today that it will make an approach to the religious orders to negotiate a larger contribution to the compensation bill for abuse victims after a special Cabinet meeting
And the head of the Catholic Church in Ireland, Cardinal Sean Brady, piled pressure on the religious orders, suggesting that the Vatican may have to intervene to persuade them to pay more to the victims of abuse.
The Vatican would have to be fully briefed, the Cardinal said after a meeting of senior bishops to discuss their response to the fall-out from last week's damning report.
The Conference of Religious of Ireland (CORI), which represents the 18 congregations at the centre of the controversy later issued a defiant statement after holding a special meeting in Dublin.
The orders categorically refused to pay out more than the €128m agreed as part of the controversial indemnity deal with the Government.
In a joint statement they said they would not be renegotiating the 2002 agreement. Under this agreement the taxpayer shoulders the burden of more than €1bn in compensation payouts to clerical abuse victims.
But last night in a dramatic move to break the deadlock between the bishops and the heads of religious congregations over the payments, the head of CORI, Sister Marianne O'Connell, joined the bishops in a secret meeting at Maynooth.
She had come directly from CORI's private meeting on the southside of Dublin, with a package of "options", as an alternative to a non-renegotiable indemnity deal.
However, informed church sources suggested that she had told the bishops that the Christian Brothers and many other religious bodies have put their schools and colleges into trusts, and did not have cash reserves.
One partial solution could be offering scholarships to the children of abuse victims, and resources for counselling of long-term victims, as suggested by Cardinal Brady and Archbishop Diarmuid Martin.
Apologised
On the other hand, the religious orders may continue to disagree with the bishops -- and demand that the diocese assist with contributions from their own funds which could involve selling buildings and land.
In a statement released last night the influential bishops' standing committee welcomed the report's publication as "a significant step in establishing the truth and enabling the voices of survivors of abuse to be heard".
The bishops apologised to "those so cruelly abused during their childhood while in Catholic-run industrial and reformatory school".
"This abuse is all the greater because it was perpetrated by those called to care in the name of Jesus Christ," they said.
The standing committee headed by Cardinal Brady and Archbishop Martin set the agenda for a full-scale meeting of the bishops fixed for June 8.
The brief holding statement came after a day in which Cardinal Brady and Archbishop Martin publicly appealed to the religious to improve their offer to victims on moral conscience grounds.
In their statement the bishops warned that no response to the far-reaching Ryan report could be confined to a single statement.
The Cardinal said: "Some of Cori have spoken. Obviously more speaking will have to be done to clarify the reasons behind the agreement and what steps can be taken to revisit that."
Archbishop Martin appealed for the congregations to do the right thing.
"The religious congregations should look now at what has emerged and ask themselves 'is that the picture that we understood nine years ago, was that the reality nine years ago?'," he said. "If the thing is much worse than they admitted to at that stage, then they have to look at the consequences."
Critics of the deal suggest the orders should have known the extent of the abuse in children's homes, orphanages, industrial and reform schools and should now be paying the cost.
- John Cooney, Fionnan Sheahan and Tom Brady
SearchQuery: Go
©Independent.ie

Irish orders refuse to revisit child abuse deal

Monday May 25, 2009
Irish orders refuse to revisit child abuse deal
DUBLIN (Reuters) - Irish religious orders stood by their refusal to renegotiate a compensation deal for victims of abuse in Catholic-run schools on Monday despite increasing pressure from church leaders and politicians.
Irish police will investigate whether charges can be brought following the publication last week of a harrowing report into abuse at reform institutions that the orders ran on behalf of the state between the 1930s and the 1970s.
Cardinal Sean Brady, the leader of the Catholic Church in Ireland, leaned on the religious congregations to echo comments by the Archbishop of Dublin, Diarmuid Martin, that more must be done for the victims.
The orders' contribution to a redress scheme for thousands of victims that is expected to top 1 billion euros was capped at 127 million euros ($178 million) under a 2002 agreement.
"It should be revisited and taken into consideration the potential of people to pay and above all the needs of the victims - we have to keep coming back to that," Brady told state broadcaster RTE.
But the 18 religious congregations that signed the deal with the Irish government stood firm.
"Rather than re-opening the terms of the agreement reached with government in 2002, we reiterate our commitment to working with those who suffered enormously while in our care," the 18 orders, that include the Christian Brothers and the Sisters of Mercy, said in a statement after meeting on Monday.
"We must find the best and most appropriate ways of directly assisting them."
CRIMINAL CHARGES
The report, the result of a nine-year investigation, named none of the abusers after a successful legal challenge by the Christian Brothers but the Justice Minister has asked police to examine whether criminal charges can be brought.
"The garda (police) commissioner has designated the assistant commissioner to go through the report and see if there is anything further from a criminal justice point of view that can be done against these perpetrators," Dermot Ahern told RTE.
Sex abuse scandals have rocked the Catholic Church around the world. In 2007, the Roman Catholic archdiocese of Los Angeles agreed to pay $660 million to 500 victims in the largest compensation of its kind.
Ireland's religious orders are not legally required to reopen the 2002 deal but many believe they have a moral responsibility to pay more.
"I do very much welcome the statement by Diarmuid Martin and other church leaders -- that is a new development, it's a sign of progress," John Gormley, the leader of junior government party, The Greens, told state radio.
"I think that if the contracting parties, as I understand it, both agree to reopen then we can make progress."
Martin said there would be more pain in store when a separate report into the sexual abuse of children in his diocese is published later this year.
"The fact that the mechanisms of fulfilling your side of that agreement have not yet been brought to completion is stunning," Martin wrote in an opinion piece The Irish Times.
"Whatever happens with regards to renegotiating that agreement, you cannot just leave things as they are."
Copyright © 2008 Reuters

Police examine sex abuse report

BBC
Police examine sex abuse report
Police in the Irish Republic are examining if criminal charges can be brought over a damning report on child sex abuse at Catholic institutions.
Minister for Justice Dermot Ahern said he was working with the attorney general to see if prosecutions could be brought.
The gardai have also appointed a senior policeman to examine the report in a criminal justice context.
Cardinal Sean Brady is to discuss the report's findings with the Pope.
The leader of the Catholic Church in Ireland also said that the compensation deal agreed by the Irish government with the orders should be revisited.
It was initially thought the Commission to Inquire Into Child Abuse's findings would not be used for criminal prosecutions - in part because the Christian Brothers successfully sued the commission in 2004 to keep the identities of all of its members, dead or alive, unnamed in the report.
No real names, whether of victims or perpetrators, appear in the final document.
Many victims reacted with anger that the commission's findings would not result in their abusers being jailed.
More than 2,000 people told the commission they had suffered physical and sexual abuse as children in the institutions.
It found that sexual abuse was "endemic" in boys' institutions, and church leaders knew what was going on.
The Irish deputy prime minister, Mary Coughlan, described the abuse of children in Catholic-run institutions as one of the "darkest chapters" in Irish history.
The report, nine years in the making and covering a period of six decades, also found government inspectors failed to stop beatings, rapes and humiliation.
Story from BBC NEWS:http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/pr/fr/-/1/hi/northern_ireland/8066994.stmPublished: 2009/05/25 16:45:21 GMT© BBC MMIX

3 Hong Kong priests accused of child abuse

BBC
Thursday, 2 May, 2002, 15:23 GMT 16:23 UK
Catholic child abuse fears widen

The Pope: "No place in the Church for child abusers"
The Roman Catholic Church in Hong Kong has confirmed that three of its priests have been accused of sexually abusing children.
The allegations - which cover the last three decades - are now being investigated by police.
It is beyond question that the sexual abuse of minors is not only an appalling sin but also a serious crime
Hong Kong Catholic diocese The public acknowledgement follows claims in a local newspaper that the Church failed to pass on the information to the police and dealt with the matter internally.
The revelations come as the Catholic Church worldwide grapples with accusations that it covered up abuse by priests.
Last week, the Vatican held an emergency meeting with American cardinals over the child abuse scandal engulfing the Church in the US.
Pope John Paul II has said there is no place in the priesthood and religious life for those who would harm the young.
Anger
Hong Kong police are to decide after their investigation whether there is enough evidence to press charges.
The BBC's Damian Grammaticas in Hong Kong says there is anger that the Church's admission came only after allegations appeared in the South China Morning Post - the territory's English-language daily.

The former British colony has about a quarter of a million Catholics
He says the local Catholic authorities have been condemned - like their counterparts in the US - for not publicly acknowledging cases of paedophilia and for trying to deal with them behind closed doors.
The Catholic Diocese of Hong Kong confirmed in a written statement that three priests who worked in the territory had been accused of molestation.
Zero tolerance
Two were suspended from public ministry; one later left the priesthood.
The third priest was accused of sexual abuse in another country before he went to Hong Kong.
There was no suggestion of any wrongdoing while he was in the territory, but he had been recalled and barred from posts involving contact with minors, the Church said.
The statement also announced that the Church in Hong Kong - which has an estimated 250,000 Catholics - would now adopt a "No tolerance Policy".
Any priest who is proved to have committed even one act of sexual abuse of a minor will be removed from public ministry.
"It is beyond doubt that the sexual abuse of minors is not only an appalling sin but also a serious crime", it said.
The Church has 300 priests and runs a similar number of schools and kindergartens in the former British colony.
Global issue
The issue of child abuse in the Catholic Church has figured in several countries apart from the US.
Bishops in Ireland have backed a wide-ranging investigation into abuse over the past 60 years after more than 20 priests, brothers and nuns were convicted of molesting children.
The head of Ireland's Roman Catholic Church last month expressed "deep regret" for "inadequacies" in church responses to allegations of abuse.
In Austria, the Church has admitted that accusations of paedophilia levelled against its former head, Archbishop of Vienna Hans Hermann Groer, are substantially true.
And last year, a court in France gave a three-month suspended sentence to Bishop Pierre Pican, who was accused of covering up for a paedophile priest.

Churchman says religious orders should pay more compensation

Daily Mail
Tuesday, May 26 2009
Top Irish churchman calls for abuse homes to pay victims more as thousands sign petition
By Mail Foreign ServiceLast updated at 2:06 AM on 25th May 2009
A senior Catholic Church official in Ireland today insisted that religious orders must pay more compensation to the victims of abuse in their institutions.
An Irish public inquiry detailing decades of sickening abuse of 2,500 children in orphanages and reform schools has sparked angry calls for a review of a 2002 indemnity deal agreed with the Irish Government.
The Ryan report catalogued a litany of sexual, physical and emotional torture by 800 priests and nuns who were not named.

Queue: Dubliners wait to sign a book showing support for Catholic homes victims
Opposition political leaders have called for a renegotiation of the compensation deal which meant the Catholic religious orders were liable for only 10% of the estimated £1bn final compensation bill.
Fr Timothy Bartlett, who is Cardinal Sean Brady's personal assistant, said today: 'I believe personally there is no question but that the agreement must be looked at again.'
The influential cleric added: 'In my personal view, they need to pay more.'
Thousands of members of the public have signed a 'book of solidarity' for victims of the abuse in Dublin's Mansion House.
Former Irish premier Bertie Ahern, who was in office when the indemnity deal was agreed on the eve of a general election in 2002, today insisted action needed to be taken on the issue at that point or a resolution could have been delayed further.
'If I did not take the actions that I took, if I didn't follow it through, none of this would have come to light other than a few television programmes and a few articles written,' he said.
'I took it on, I put the legislative base in place and that's the real issue - that we've dealt with it, we've brought it to the fore.'

Outrage: The petition has been signed by thousands who are angry about abuse
He told Newstalk Radio: 'We haven't given compensation, we've given redress.
'That's the issue that we should be focusing on.'
Mr Ahern also said he agreed at perpetrators being named and shamed.
The Catholic Bishop of Down and Connor today apologised to all victims of the 'evil' abuse.
Dr Noel Treanor told a congregation in Carryduff, Co Down: 'I state my sorrow, shame and visceral pain in the face of these and all abuses inflicted on children and vulnerable adults, whenever they took place, wherever they are perpetrated.
'I apologise on behalf of the church to all who are victims of abuse on the part of those who professed to care for them, or minister to them, in the name of Christ.
'I apologise, too, for the failure of those in positions of leadership in the Church to deal with the abusers.
'As we grasp the extent and dimensions of this evil that has been at work within the Church, we have to recognise that as a Church in particular, and as society, and as individuals, we stand in need of chastening our moral and personal radar.'

Monday, May 25, 2009

Archbishop slams Irish Catholic orders over child abuse

http://www.seattlepi.com/national/1103ap_eu_ireland_catholic_abuse.html
Last updated May 25, 2009 5:03 a.m. PT
Archbishop slams Irish Catholic orders over abuse
By SHAWN POGATCHNIKASSOCIATED PRESS WRITER
DUBLIN -- Dublin Archbishop Diarmuid Martin slammed Irish Catholic orders Monday for concealing their culpability in decades of child abuse and said they needed to come up with much more money to compensate victims.
The comments from Martin, a veteran Vatican diplomat, were the harshest yet by a Roman Catholic leader following last week's report detailing widespread abuse in scores of church-run industrial schools from the 1930s to 1990s.
Martin said the nuns and Catholic brothers who ran the workhouse-style schools must drop their refusal to renegotiate an intensely criticized 2002 agreement with the Irish government over compensation for victims.
The orders seven years ago agreed to pay euro128 million ($175 million) to the government to be protected from victims' civil lawsuits. In return, the government expects to pay approximately 13,800 victims of physical, sexual and mental abuse and their lawyers more than euro1.1 billion ($1.5 billion).
All those who accept the state settlements, which average euro65,000 ($90,000), must waive their right to sue both the church and government. Their abusers' identities also are kept secret.
Scores of other alleged victims have refused the offer and sued church and state authorities, with mixed results.
The archbishop - whose archdiocese contains more than 1 million of the island's 4 million Catholics - said in an Irish Times column that the church in Ireland has lost credibility because of its weak response to 15 years of revelations of chronic child abuse within its ranks.
Martin said it was incomprehensible why other church leaders remained "in denial" following a nine-year investigation by a child abuse commission, which published its devastating 2,600-page report last Wednesday.
He said the report documented beyond any doubt "church institutions where children were placed in the care of people with practically no morals." The last of those schools for Ireland's poorest children closed more than a decade ago.
The archbishop accused the orders of falling short even on the amount promised to the government. He said the church's failure to complete transfers of cash, property and land worth at least euro128 million over the past seven years "is stunning."
"There may have been legal difficulties, but they are really a poor excuse after so many years," he wrote.
Ireland's most senior leader, Cardinal Sean Brady, later issued a more muted appeal to the orders to give more, saying the 2002 agreement "should be revisited."
The cardinal - who does not have the power to force the orders to pay more - said he and other Irish church leaders expected to meet soon in Rome with Pope Benedict XVI to discuss the scandal. No date has been confirmed.
The Conference of Religious in Ireland, the umbrella body for the church's orders of Catholic brothers and nuns, declined to respond to the comments of Martin and Brady.
Last week the conference, which represents all 18 orders that ran industrial schools, said none intended to make more financial contributions. That provoked fury from victims and some politicians, but not the government.
The government says it has received about euro62 million in cash and church-funded counseling services for abuse victims, while the outstanding euro66 million was to come from the receipt of 64 church properties.
Analysis by independent experts indicates that the offered properties are worth much less today than euro66 million. Ireland's 2008 property market collapse and plunge into recession have slashed values by 25 percent to 50 percent.
Martin said the religious orders must identify "creative ways" to redeem their reputations.
"In many ways, it is your last chance to render honor to charismatic founders and to so many good members of your congregations who feel tarnished," he said.
The Dublin-born Martin, 64, became the church's leader in Dublin in 2004 with a mission to handle the fallout from sex-abuse scandals. Last month he warned Dublin's Catholic faithful they will be shocked and outraged when the next investigation into clerical sex abuse is published this summer.
That Justice Department-commissioned probe seeks to detail how hundreds of priests molested and raped children in Dublin from the 1940s onward while church and state agencies failed to report, punish or stop the abuse.
"It will not be easy reading," Martin wrote. "Let the truth, however, come out."
---
On the Net:
Ireland's compensation board for abuse victims, http://www.rirb.ie/
Abuse report, http://www.childabusecommission.ie/rpt/

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Abuse by Catholic Church

An abuse too far by the Catholic church
Tales of systematic abuse in Irish Catholic institutions leave me wondering how long I can continue to feel part of this church

Madeleine Bunting
guardian.co.uk, Thursday 21 May 2009 16.31 BST

This could not be worse. The Ryan report is the stuff of nightmares. It's the adjectives which chill: systemic, pervasive, chronic, excessive, arbitrary, endemic. They pretty much tell the whole story of the violence and sexual abuse suffered by a generation of some of the most vulnerable children in Ireland over several decades of the middle of the 20th century. This is a crisis for Ireland – Irish bloggers yesterday were describing the scandal as their equivalent of the Holocaust – but it is also a crisis for global Catholicism. After all, it is not just Ireland going through this terrible reckoning with its Catholic history but the US, Australia and to some extent the UK.
The Ryan report's meticulous gathering of evidence over several volumes paints a picture of a system of church and state in Ireland which was horrifically dysfunctional with its combination of sadism and deference. Page after page punches the point home with relentless clarity. Squarely in the frame are the religious orders who systematically protected and tolerated their members' actions even when they knew they were breaking the law. But also culpable is the state charged to inspect the childrens' homes and schools. It was too deferential to the Catholic church to ever do the job properly.
When child abuse in the Catholic church first began to be taken seriously in the late 80s/early 90s, the line of argument reluctantly conceded after straight denial became impossible to sustain, was that it was all about a "few bad apples". But the Ryan report destroys this fig leaf of a defence because of the sheer scale of what went on. The report rightly challenges the relevant religious orders to "examine how their ideals became debased" and why it was that they consistently put the interests of their institutions before individuals.
The report is so damning, not just in dealing with the past, but on how it calls up short present behaviour – the lamentable reluctance of the religious orders to engage with the inquiry or fully accept their role. The report argues that the public apology by the Christian Brothers was "guarded, conditional and unclear", and that "it was not even clear that the statement could properly be called an apology".
The Irish government has officially apologised and is footing the lion's share of the bill for compensation to victims. The Ryan report calls for a national memorial. There is growing pressure for some commensurate gesture of atonement from the Catholic church. The apologies flooding out yesterday seem too little, too late. And there is still, extraordinarily, denial – ranging from Mary Kenny's jaunty variety of "I've never met a priest who is a paedophile" to the new Archbishop of Westminster, Vincent Nichols, who praised the courage of the religious orders concerned and seemed to exonerate their reluctance to face the past as "instinctive and quite natural". It's a form of wording which, from such an experienced media operator as Nichols, beggars belief.
There needs to be a far more probing analysis of the structure of authority within the Catholic church, and the culture of deference and obedience expected of lay people towards priests. These bred a preoccupation with maintaining the prestige and authority of church institutions; any threat to that priority – regardless of the cost to the welfare of individuals - had to be stifled. These are the characteristics which have made the Catholic church morally bankrupt.
As one Jesuit-edited blog put it this week:
Why did so many Catholic institutions fail so appallingly? A hundred reasons can be suggested, but three come to mind: undue respect for authority (which was self-justifying and rarely self-critical); religious authoritarianism (government of communities by self-perpetuating cliques, who rarely saw the need for fresh thinking); and a rancid clericalism (product of a religious culture that increasingly turned in on itself).
How can this cosiness by shaken up, challenged and reformed? This is not a new debate within the Catholic church; ever since the second Vatican council in the early 1960s there have been a minority who believed that the hierarchy of the church owed more to the Roman Empire than it did to the Jewish carpenter, and have sought measures of reform. But their efforts have met with so little success that they have retreated to the margins faced with a resurgent conservatism. Many others have given up the fight, and abandoned Catholicism altogether as too irredeemably unreformable.
The whole sorry chapter raises a very private dilemma. For years now, I've had an intermittent conversation with an admirable and devout relative: How long can we hang on? When do our fingernails break? Belonging to any institution involves sometimes having to clamp a clothes peg on your nose, as my colleague Polly Toynbee urged in the very different circumstances of disaffected voters sticking with Labour in 2005. But there comes a point when the clothes peg option runs out, the fingernails break.
The Catholic church is one of the world's most enduring institutions: no other global body counts more than a billion adherents whose practices and behaviours are guided by an organised, disciplined hierarchy, but this whole awful history of abuse is a reminder that too often in history that institutional survival has come at the cost of everything it purports to believe.

'Devastating report' into Catholic schools abuse
20 May 2009:
The Guardian's Ireland correspondent on a long-awaited report into abuse suffered by thousands of children at institutions run by priests
More video
10 Mar 2008
Pope could face protests in Ireland over abuse cases
28 Feb 2008
The question:
3 Feb 2008
Call to seize secret church abuse files
8 Jan 2008
Catholic church under pressure to stop sale of paedophile's book

Archbishop says he didn't know priests' abuse was crime

Weakland says he didn't know priests' abuse was crime
By Annysa Johnson of the Journal Sentinel
Posted: May. 15, 2009

In the early years of the sex abuse scandal in Milwaukee, retired Archbishop Rembert G. Weakland says in his soon-to-be released memoir, he did not comprehend the potential harm to victims or understand that what the priests had done constituted a crime.
"We all considered sexual abuse of minors as a moral evil, but had no understanding of its criminal nature," Weakland says in the book, "A Pilgrim in a Pilgrim Church," due out in June.
Weakland said he initially "accepted naively the common view that it was not necessary to worry about the effects on the youngsters: either they would not " remember or they would 'grow out of it.'
Clergy victims reacted angrily to the revelation.
"It's beyond belief. He's either lying or he's so self-deceived that he's inventing fanciful stories," said Peter Isely, Midwest director for the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, or SNAP. "These have always been crimes."
Weakland's handling of the clergy sex abuse scandal is just one chapter in the wide-ranging memoir that recounts his childhood in the coal-mining region of Pennsylvania, his life as a Benedictine monk, his struggles with his own homosexuality, his strained relationship with Pope John Paul II and finally his public fall from grace in Milwaukee.
Weakland retired in 2002 after it became known that he paid $450,000 in 1998 to a man who had accused him of date rape years earlier.
Weakland has declined to be interviewed by the Journal Sentinel. Weakland said in the book that he eventually came to question the notion that victims would forget or "grow out of" the trauma induced by abuse.
"My general reasoning was that there were probably some kids who 'grew out of it,' and then some who were deeply disturbed for life," he wrote.
SNAP this week issued an open letter asking Weakland to meet with victims.
Weakland responded Friday by saying he would seriously consider it.
"We've been trying to get this from him for 15 years," Isely said.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Solidarity book for abuse victims

Solidarity book for abuse victims
Dublin's lord mayor has opened a book of solidarity for the victims of abuse by the religious orders.
Meanwhile, the orders are coming under pressure to increase their contribution to compensation made to the victims.
Lord Mayor Eibhlin Byrne said she had been approached throughout the city by people wishing to express solidarity with those who had suffered abuse.
A report on abuse of children in Catholic institutions in the Irish Republic was published on Wednesday.
It found that church leaders knew that sexual abuse was "endemic" in boys' institutions.
It also found physical and emotional abuse and neglect were features of institutions and schools were run "in a severe, regimented manner that imposed unreasonable and oppressive discipline on children and even on staff".
The nine-year inquiry investigated a 60-year period.
More than 2,000 periople told the Commission to Inquire Into Child Abuse they suffered physical and sexual abuse as children in the institutions.
In the last days of the 2002 Irish government, the religious orders agreed to pay 128m euros in compensation for abuse, but the final bill to the Irish taxpayer is likely to be 10 times that
Government ministers and opposition parties are now calling on them to make a greater contribution towards the compensation of victims.
The environment minister, John Gormley of the Green Party, said the orders have a moral obligation to contribute more.
Story from BBC NEWS:http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/pr/fr/-/1/hi/world/europe/8065095.stmPublished: 2009/05/23 11:54:53 GMT© BBC MMIX

Orthodox church beats addicts

Outrage at Serbia 'beating' video
Officials in Serbia are investigating a rehabilitation centre affiliated to the Orthodox Church where drug addicts have allegedly been filmed being beaten.
A video of one assault, published by Vreme magazine, shows a man appearing to assault a patient by hitting him with a shovel and punching his face.
One former resident said staff had offered to cure his addiction with "pleasant conversation" and beatings.
A priest running the centre, near Novi Pazar, said a "heavy hand" was needed.
"Whoever has a junkie in the house knows what I am talking about," Archpriest Branislav Peranovic told B92 television.
The Serbian Orthodox Church has so far declined comment.
'Martial arts'
In the video posted on Vreme's website on Friday, a young man believed to be a patient at the Crna Reka rehabilitation centre is seen being beaten repeatedly with a shovel, and then punched and kicked in the head by two men in sports gear.
The incident takes place in a room displaying Christian icons.
The centre said the beatings, administered by former addicts, were a necessary part of the therapy for drug addiction and were carried out with the consent of patients' parents.
“ It is no therapy - it is a criminal act ” Sasa Jankovic, Serbian government human rights monitor
A former patient said that sometimes they would be told to form a circle around a "bad one" and watch them being beaten by the priests and other staff.
"They would hit him with clubs, shovels, fists, bars, belts, whatever they got their hands on," he told Vreme.
Archpriest Peranovic, he said, "knows how to hit - his hands are often bloody".
"When he hits, using his arms and legs, his robe flies all over the place. He practises martial arts," the former patient added.
After the video's publication, doctors and psychologists warned that physical violence would not help rehabilitate or cure drug addicts.
Government human rights monitor Sasa Jankovic, who plans to file torture charges against the facility, said: "It is no therapy. It is a criminal act."
Story from BBC NEWS:http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/pr/fr/-/1/hi/world/europe/8063855.stmPublished: 2009/05/22 13:51:05 GMT© BBC MMIX

Catholic orders resist increasing payments for abuse

May 23, 2009
World Briefing Europe
Ireland: Catholic Orders Resist Increasing Payments for Abuse
By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
Ireland’s Roman Catholic religious orders on Friday resisted growing demands for them to pay more for the abuse of thousands of children in state-financed schools. The Irish government expects to spend more than $1.6 billion in legal costs and compensation for 14,000 people found to have been molested, beaten or terrorized while under church care from the 1930s to the 1990s — a long-buried scandal revived this week with the publication of a 2,600-page investigation. Under terms of a bitterly disputed 2002 deal, the government agreed to cap the church’s total liability at less than $175 million. On Friday, the umbrella body representing the 18 religious orders implicated in the scandal, the Conference of Religious in Ireland, said, “As far as we are aware, none of the congregations concerned plan to revisit the terms of the agreement made in good faith.”

Iowa diocese sexual abuse list

http://www.seattlepi.com/national/1110ap_us_church_abuse_iowa.html
Last updated May 22, 2009 10:37 a.m. PT
3 more names on Iowa diocese's sexual abuse list
THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
DES MOINES, Iowa -- Three more names have been added to a list of credible cases of child sexual abuse by priests in an Iowa diocese.
The Diocese of Davenport added William Kerrigan, James Lawrence and Daniel Emrich to the list Thursday, bringing to 31 the number of priests and brothers named by the diocese.
Release of the names is a provision of a settlement for the diocese to emerge from the bankruptcy protection it sought because of its clergy sex abuse scandal.
A bankruptcy judge approved a plan in May 2008 allowing the diocese to pay $37 million to more than 150 people who said they were sexually abused.
Kerrigan and Lawrence are dead. Diocese spokesman David Montgomery said he didn't know where Emrich was living.

Priest gets 3 to 6 years

http://www.seattlepi.com/national/1110ap_us_priest_theft_charges.html
Last updated May 22, 2009 1:40 p.m. PT
Priest gets 3 to 6 years for $900k theft in Pa.
By MARYCLAIRE DALEASSOCIATED PRESS WRITER
PHILADELPHIA -- A priest and former principal of the largest Roman Catholic high school in Philadelphia was sent to prison Friday for three to six years for stealing $900,000, allegedly to buy silence from students he molested.
The Rev. Charles Newman, 58, also used the money to ply current or former students with drugs and alcohol, relatives and authorities charged.
"I think he spent it on kids like Arthur Baselice, to keep them quiet. Until he says otherwise, that's what I believe. And he hasn't said otherwise," Assistant District Attorney Charles Gallagher said.
The case grew out of the city's explosive grand jury investigation into priest sexual abuse in the Philadelphia archdiocese, which Gallagher helped lead.
Former student Arthur Baselice III told authorities that Newman started sexually abusing him in 1995, when he was a junior and Newman was principal of Archbishop Ryan High School. The pair would meet at Newman's office or residence and often used drugs together while having sex, prosecutors said.
Baselice tried unsuccessfully to sue the archdiocese before dying of a drug overdose in 2006 at age 28. Over the years, Newman gave him $54,000, in part to feed his drug habit, Baselice's lawyer has said.
In court Friday, retired Philadelphia police officer Arthur Baselice Jr. called Newman, who also must serve 10 years probation, "a vicious predator" who took advantage of his son.
Newman, though, described their relationship as consensual and said it began only after Baselice turned 18. He told the judge he gave away the stolen money, leading Gallagher to question why none of the recipients testified for him.
Forensic audits show he stole $331,000 from the school and more than $550,000 from his religious order, the Franciscan Friars, prosecutors said.
The defense argued that much of the total was double-counted because it had been in both accounts. Defense attorney Frank DeSimone put the theft total at less than $400,000.
The city's September 2005 grand jury report documented alleged assaults on minors by more than 60 Philadelphia Archdiocese priests since 1967, and accused church leaders of covering them up. Baselice overdosed the day it came out.
Prosecutors reluctantly concluded they could not prosecute the other priests due to legal time limits under existing Pennsylvania law. The statutes have since been revised to extend filing deadlines for child sexual-assault victims until age 50.
Gallagher believes that Newman sexually abused at least three or four other underage students, but said they are not ready to go public with their stories.
Newman spent more than 20 years as a teacher and principal at Ryan before becoming president - and gaining control of various bank accounts - in 2002. He was fired 15 months later.
"We had staff at Ryan who said kids used to come in all the time and he would give them money," Gallagher said.

Unseal priest abuse documents

courant.com/news/local/hc-priest-unsealed-0523.artmay23,0,5600649.story
Courant.com
BRIDGEPORT DIOCESE
Connecticut Supreme Court: Unseal Priest Abuse Documents
By DAVE ALTIMARI
The Hartford Courant
May 23, 2009
For more than 15 years, some of the 23 lawsuits alleging sexual abuse claims against at least seven priests from the Bridgeport diocese have remained sealed, but on Friday for the second time the state Supreme Court ruled the public should have access to nearly all of the 12,675 pages.As church officials criticized the court's decision and vowed to review all options to keep the files secret, victims' advocates hailed the ruling and questioned whether the documents will have a lasting negative impact on recently retired Cardinal Edward Egan, who ran the Bridgeport diocese as a bishop when many of the priest abuses were alleged to have occurred."Sadly, the history of this case has been about access by the secular media to internal church documents of cases more than 30 years ago to suggest, unfairly, that nothing has changed," the diocese's statement said."From the anti-church rhetoric of the first trial judge who proceeded to 'invent' an entirely new procedure to accommodate the press, to the lack of an impartial trial judge to reconsider the case on remand from the Connecticut Supreme Court, the history of this case raises issues that should be of concern to all. We are, therefore, currently reviewing our options in response to this decision."That the church may continue the fight didn't surprise victim advocates who have battled across the country to get access to priest files."We know desperate church bureaucrats will fight to keep documents secret until the bitter end," said David Clohassy, national director of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests.Clohassy said the release of the Bridgeport documents is important for future cases as well as for public safety."These documents will likely expose current church employees who suspected child sex crimes and either ignored them or concealed them," Clohassy said.Terence McKiernan, president of BishopAccountability.org, said church officials must know that the sealed files will taint Egan's reputation."It's hard to think of another case, except perhaps out in Los Angeles, where the church has fought so hard to keep files secret," McKiernan said. "It is going to be very interesting to see what is going to come out of those documents that the church felt would be so damaging."Four newspapers, including The Courant, have been fighting since 2002 to get the files unsealed. Many of the lawsuits go back to the mid-1990s and were settled all at once in March 2001. However, the files were not destroyed and the newspapers went to court seeking intervenor status into the cases.The court's decision Friday came after two years of deliberations, an unusually long time for the court to decide a case.The court ruled that all but 15 documents in the 23 separate files are public records. Those 15 documents, at least two of which are depositions, were not submitted as legal documents and will remain sealed, the court ruled.The justices rejected the church's main argument that Superior Court Judge Jon M. Alander, who ruled in 2006 that the files be unsealed, should have recused himself from making that decision because he was also serving at that time on a judicial committee reviewing public access to court documents.The court ruled that just because Alander was a member of the task force did not mean that he couldn't be fair and impartial. It also ruled that just because one of the other members of the judicial task force was a reporter from The Courant didn't mean that Alander had a conflict."There is no reason to suggest that a judge who is exposed to information concerning potential future changes to the law while he is presiding over a case that implicates existing law in that area compromises his ability to be impartial," Justice Joette Katz wrote.In his dissenting opinion, Judge William J. Sullivan wrote that any "person of ordinary intelligence and experience" could question Alander's impartiality."Judge Alander served as the chairman of the very committee that was charged with making the recommendations for these new policies and procedures, and he served on the committee with a representative of one of the intervenors in the case," Sullivan wrote.Church officials in their statement said they were "deeply" disappointed that the court didn't uphold their conflict of interest claim involving Alander."The Connecticut Supreme Court has failed to uphold the Diocese's right to a fair adjudication of its claim by an impartial judge, Judge Jon Alander — a right that is fundamental to any legal proceeding," the statement said.This is the second time the case went before the Supreme Court since 2002. Judge Robert F. McWeeny, in Superior Court in Waterbury, first granted four newspapers — The Courant, Boston Globe, New York Times and Washington Post — the right to intervene in the closed cases and seek the documents.The Bridgeport Roman Catholic Diocesan Corp. appealed that decision but lost as the court remanded the case back to the court in Waterbury, where Alander ruled in 2006 that the files should be public record.Alander ruled that he didn't find compelling the argument by the diocese that the files remain sealed out of concern for ensuring a fair trial, should one become necessary. The diocese argued that this is a legitimate concern because two sex abuse lawsuits remain pending and future claims could be brought.But Alander ruled the "right of access to those documents is particularly strong in these cases due to the extraordinary public interest in knowing whether minors in Connecticut were sexually abused by priests employed by the Diocese and whether the Diocese was responsible for perpetuating that abuse."The diocese appealed that ruling, sending the case back to the state Supreme Court for the second time.The abuse cases in question involved more than 23 victims. The Courant obtained copies of some of the sealed documents about a year after the settlement, including depositions taken of Egan, who was bishop of the Bridgeport diocese from 1988 to 2000, and other diocesan officials.Egan was in charge of the Bridgeport diocese when most of the lawsuits against priests under his control were filed and adjudicated.Stories detailing how Egan and other officials in Bridgeport ignored accusations or protected abusive priests were published in The Courant in 2002. The stories were based on depositions from the lawsuits, documents from the personnel files of accused priests and other diocesan memorandums.Egan could not be reached for comment Friday. He retired as the archbishop of New York in April.McKiernan said the timing on the heels of Egan's retirement also is interesting."I believe that the Vatican has known that someday these documents would become public and they wanted Egan to retire before that happened."
Copyright © 2009, The Hartford Courant
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