Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Nuns issue abuse apology

Nuns issue abuse apology
Tue, Jun 30, 2009

A nun who campaigns for social justice today apologised to children who were abused while under the care of the Sisters of Charity.

Sister Stanislaus Kennedy, a member of the religious order criticised in the devastating Ryan Report, said members were ashamed, shocked and horrified by the physical and sexual abuse of children at its facilities.

She told a conference in Dublin Castle the report laid bare the appalling manner in which the most vulnerable children were treated in institutions run by congregations over the past 50 years.

“We must ensure that wide-scale and systematic abuse of children does not happen again in this country,” she said.

“Abuse happens when power is vested in individuals and institutions who are unaccountable.”

The Ryan report documented decades of sexual, physical and emotional torture inflicted on thousands of children in orphanages, industrial and reformatory schools all over the country.

It outlined severe physical and emotional abuse over many years at two of the order’s institutions, St Patrick’s and St Joseph’s in Kilkenny.

“Within St Joseph’s, there was also sexual abuse, including where 13 boys were brutally abused, sexually and physically by two men employed by the Religious Sisters of Charity as childcare workers who turned out to be cruel and ferocious paedophiles,” said Sr Stan.

“I am desperately sad and sorry that these abuses took place and that these heinous crimes were committed."

“All over the country, children entrusted to the care of religious congregations, ours included, suffered enormously in a sickening abuse of power and position and a scandalous exploitation of vulnerability, for which there is no excuse.”

Sr Stan said the order had acknowledged the hurt caused and planned to do everything in its power to make reparation for the harm done, to alleviate the pain and suffering of victims and to restore, as far as is possible, the dignity that was taken from them as children.

“This includes facing our financial responsibilities in a generous spirit and with an open heart,” she continued.

The campaigner also criticised the current childcare system, highlighting a lack of out-of-hours social work service for children in need and why up to 6,500 child protection cases have not been allocated a social worker.

“One of the most damning indications of our lack of concern about the welfare of children is the fact that 454 migrant children, that’s equivalent to an entire school full of children, have gone missing from the care of the State since 2000, with barely a ripple of disquiet in the community,” she continued.

“We know this is happening and we don’t care. How can we say without blushing that we are determined to learn lessons from the Ryan report and are determined to protect and cherish children in this country when we know they are suffering now?"

“When we allow these outrages to occur without protest we, as a society, are complicit in the suffering of these children,” she added.

President Mary McAleese is due to address the conference later today.

PA

© 2009 irishtimes.com

Monday, June 29, 2009

Irish abuse victim tells of rapes

Video: Irish child abuse victim tells shocking rape story on live television

Thursday, 28 May 2009


A former mayor has said the Irish government did not have "the foggiest" understanding of the pain felt by the victims of child abuse.


Michael O’Brien, 72, from Clonmel in Co Tipperary, said during RTÉ’s Questions and Answers that Ireland's constitution should be changed to freeze the funds of the religious orders.

Mr O'Brien was separated from his seven brothers, sisters and cousins when they were placed in separate church-run residences in the 1940s. He suffered repeated rapes and beatings from age 8 onward in an industrial school run by the Rosminian order in the town of Clonmel.

Mr O'Brien denounced government minister Noel Dempsey, detailing the perversions and terror he endured as a boy and demanding a constitutional crackdown on church wealth.

"Don't say you can't change it! You are the government of this state. You run this state. So, for God's sake, stop mealy-mouthing because I am sick of it!" he shouted.

Mr O’Brien served as a councillor for the party in Tipperary and was elected mayor of Clonmel in 1993.

Transcript

“Mr Chairman, I am surprised at the Minister now. First of all Minister you made a bags of it in the beginning by changing the judges. You made a complete bags of it at that time because I went to the Laffoy Commission and ye had seven barristers there questioning me, telling me that I was telling lies when I told them that I got raped of a Saturday, got an merciful beating after it and he then came along the following morning and put Holy Communion in my mouth.

"You don’t know what happened there. You haven’t the foggiest. You’re talking through your hat there, and you are talking to a Fianna Fáil man, and a former councillor and a former mayor that worked tooth and nail for the party that you are talking about now. You didn’t do it right. You got it wrong. Admit it and apologise for doing that because you don’t know what I feel inside me. You don’t know the hurt I have.

"You said it was non-adversarial. My God, seven barristers throwing questions at us non-stop. I attempted to commit suicide, [turning to his wife] there’s the woman who saved me from committing suicide on my way down from Dublin after spending five days at the commission.

"They brought a man over from Rome – 90 odd years of age – to tell me I was telling lies and that I wasn’t beaten for an hour non-stop by two of them from head to toe without a shred of cloth on my body. My God, Minister.

[To Fine Gael TD Leo Varadkar]

"Can I speak to you and ask your leader to stop making a political football out of this. You hurt us when you do that. You tear the shreds from inside our body. For God’s sake, try and give us some peace, try and give us some peace, and not continue hurting us.

[To his wife]

"That woman will tell you how many times I jump out of bed at night with the sweat pumping out of me because I see these fellows at the end of the bed with their fingers pulling me into the room to rape me, to bugger me and to beat the shite out of me.

"That’s the way it is, and sometime, you know what, I listen to the leader of Fianna Fáil. I even listened to the apology. It was mealy-mouthed but at least it was an apology. The Rosminians said in the report that they were easy on us. The first day I went there, the first day I went to the Rosminians in my home which is Ferryhouse in Clonmel, the only home I know, he said you’re in it for the money. We didn’t want money. We wanted someone to stand up and say ‘yes these fellows were buggered, these people were robbed’.

"Little girls, my sister, a month old when she was put into an institution, eight of us from the one family were dragged by the ISPCC cruelty man, put into two cars and brought to the court in Clonmel. We were left standing there without food or anything and the fellow in the long black frock and white collar came along and he put us into a scut-truck and landed us below with 200 other boys. Two nights later I was raped.

"How can anyone, you’re talking about the Constitution, these people would gladly say yes to a Constitution to freeze the funds of the religious orders. This State, this country of ours will say yes to that Constitution if you have to change it.

"Don’t say you can’t change it. You are the Government of this State. You run this State. So, for God’s sake, stop mealy-mouthing because I am sick of it. You are turning me away from voting Fianna Fáil, which I have done from the day I could vote.

"You know me Minister and you have met me on several occasions, so you know what I am like. Remember Wexford?”

Papal visit not welcome in Ireland

Independent.ie
Papal visit would not be welcome in wake of Ryan report
By Anne-Marie Walsh
Monday June 29 2009

POPE Benedict XVI is not entirely welcome here in the wake of the damning Ryan report, a survey found.

More than half of people surveyed do not want a second papal visit following the revelations in the report on child abuse.

An online survey by radio station Newstalk, in which 1,108 people took part, shows the scenes that greeted the late Pope John Paul II during the first papal visit 30 years ago are unlikely to be recreated.

Back in September 1979, schools and businesses shut as thousands of Catholics flocked to the Phoenix Park during the three-day tour of Ireland.

However, despite strong feeling about a papal visit, the survey showed that the Ryan report has had little impact on the public's religious practices. Just 4pc said the report had changed their Mass-going habits.

In addition, 68pc of people said religious teaching in schools should not include details of clerical abuse.

Historic

There has been speculation that the Pope might come to Ireland this year to mark the 30th anniversary of the historic 1979 visit, but 52pc of the 1,108 surveyed between June 22 and June 25 said he should stay away.

Many interviewees in the internet poll felt he should apologise before a visit could take place, while others said that saying sorry would not make any difference.

"Until he condemns what happened and pays compensation for his vile colleagues' actions, and helps this country prosecute them by handing over all documents in relation to abuse issues and the movement of priests, then he shouldn't be allowed set foot in this country," said one of the interviewees.

Another person said a visit might be an important gesture to reach out to the abused, but only if the perpetrators faced their guilt. Another said they had difficulty taking any authority from the Pope.

"I did not elect him; he is old, lives a sheltered life and does not have to worry about where his next meal is coming from," he said. "I am not sure what he can do now to ease the victims' suffering. The church is churning out 'mea culpas'. I am not sure how his sorry would be any better."

- Anne-Marie Walsh
©Independent.ie

Archbishop admits scandals hurt church credibility

Independent.ie
Martin admits scandals hurt church credibility
By Grainne Cunningham and Kathryn Hayes
Monday June 29 2009

ARCHBISHOP Diarmuid Martin has publicly conceded "the legacy of scandals" has seriously damaged the image and credibility of the Catholic Church in Ireland.

The archbishop spoke of the need for renewal as he launched the beginning of the Year of Evangelisation over a weekend which saw the ordination of four new priests.

Speaking at a special service in the Pro-Cathedral, Dublin, on Saturday, Archbishop Martin said: "The difficult times we are living through and experiencing do not excuse us from the task of preaching the Gospel, in season and out."

The service included the ordination of two new priests for the Dublin Archdiocese, Frs Colin Rothery and Aloysius Zuribo, and the ordination of one Capuchin priest, Fr Stephen Kim, for the Korean Province as well as the commissioning of 13 new parish pastoral workers.

Meanwhile, the Bishop of Limerick Dr Donal Murray urged people to pray that vocations to the priesthood will "flourish again in our country".

He made the plea at St John's Cathedral in Limerick yesterday at the first ordination in the diocese in four years.

Newly ordained Fr Eamon Purcell (55), from Co Laois, will be attached to St Munchin's Parish on the north side of the city where he is due to celebrate his first Mass tonight. He worked in that parish for a year as deacon before moving from Limerick to Bede College in Rome to study for the priesthood.

The Bishop of Limerick also appealed to communities and families to support those who feel they might have a vocation.

The last priest to be ordained in the Limerick diocese was Fr Chris O'Connell in 2005.

- Grainne Cunningham and Kathryn Hayes

©Independent.ie

President apologises to abuse victims

Independent.ie
Presidential apology has victims weeping for joy
By Anne-Marie Walsh
Monday June 29 2009

VICTIMS of child abuse wept last night after President Mary McAleese apologised for their suffering on behalf of the people of Ireland.

For many of them, now in old age, it was the first time they shed such tears of joy.

Over 280 victims of institutional abuse travelled from home and abroad to Aras an Uachtarain yesterday, at the President's invitation.

They had very different stories, but they were all expressing joy and relief as they left last night.

In her speech, President McAleese spoke of the painful lives endured by thousands of children who had suffered institutional abuse, as laid out graphically in the Ryan report.

"It calls for responses at many levels, official and unofficial," she said.

"For so long your suffering seemed to make strangers of you in your own land."

Mrs McAleese previously suggested that those behind the acts of criminal neglect or violence should be brought to justice.

Men and women in their 70s, 80s and 90s spoke of feeling "free" for the first time after they emerged from the gates of the presidential home in Phoenix Park.

One guest, John Kelly, had lived on the streets of London after he suffered horrific abuse at the Daingean reformatory.

He said the meeting with the Mrs McAleese had been an historic occasion for many of the 14,000 abuse victims who fled Ireland.

He praised the President for giving them the desire to be Irish again and calling for the perpetrators of abuse to be prosecuted.

"I spent 33 years in England," he said. "I slept on benches in Hyde Park. It was safer than those places.

Inspiration

"People wouldn't come back. Why would they, for a state that didn't care about them?

"Today's the first day the State has acknowledged 'You're Irish and have rights' and it's 48 or 50 years too late.

"But this President has done that and that has given us hope and inspiration. And now we're proud to be Irish."

He said he had seen dozens of old and frail faces light up as the Mrs McAleese spoke to them.

As children they had been tried for offences they did not commit before being thrown into institutions, he said.

"Half of them emigrated and we brought many of these people back here today. Before they die, they have heard the President saying: 'We were wrong.'"

Michael O'Brien, a former Fianna Fail mayor who was sexually abused at the Rosminian-run St Joseph's School in Clonmel, said last week he got a certificate from the Justice Minister stating he did not have a criminal record.

"I jumped in the air when I got it and said, 'I'm free'. "I'm free here again today. This is the first time I've felt as happy as I am now. I've never smiled as much as I have today. The last time I smiled was when I was with my mother."

He urged the Government and religious orders to help the many abuse victims who are still homeless.

Mrs McAleese told the abuse survivors: "I know one day in the Phoenix Park cannot hope to restore to your lives all the things that were taken from you. The people of Ireland are desperately sorry for many ways in which you were not cherished, in the abuse itself, in the silence, in the failure to act, in the failure to listen, hear and believe in time."

- Anne-Marie Walsh

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Head of religious order served legal papers

Independent.ie
Head of religious order is served High Court papers
By Senan Molony Deputy Political Editor
Thursday June 25 2009

THE head of one of 18 religious orders accused of institutional abuse of children was dramatically served with a High Court subpoena last night.

Fr Joe O'Reilly, of the Rosminian order, was served with court papers by Robert Dempsey (46), who alleges he was beaten and raped while in care as a boy.

The intervention came after a meeting between the religious and the Government, at which the Taoiseach said a three-person panel would be appointed next month to assess the financial worth of the orders involved

Brian Cowen said the panel would assess the financial positions submitted by the congregations "and report to Government as to the adequacy of these statements".

Asset reports are to be submitted by the congregations by the middle of next month, when a further meeting will be held.

Payment

Fr O'Reilly was later unable to say whether the congregations had come to an interim approximation of their worth, or whether they had considered making a payment on account to the survivors of institutional abuse.

Mr Cowen had ordered the congregations to provide full financial statements following the publication of the Ryan report last month.

The religious orders had earlier indicated an unwillingness to contribute any further money beyond a €128m indemnity deal signed with the Government in 2002.

The leader of the Catholic Church delegation was visibly taken aback yesterday to be served with court papers as he left the meeting with the Taoiseach and Ministers for Education, Health and Justice, as well as the Minister for Children.

Mr Dempsey, who spent 18 years in St Joseph's Special School, Ferryhouse, Clonmel, Co Tipperary, was born in care to a mother already in detention. He claims his brother and sister were "sold" to American adoptive parents within a few days of birth and that he has never met them.

He refused to attend the Residential Institutions Redress Board, saying he has been fighting for years to get his case heard in court.

Mr Dempsey attributes scars on his body to beatings and being punched in the face by a priest.

The Government panel appointed to scrutinise the list of assets submitted by the orders is expected to consist of specialist auditor and accountancy expertise.

Fr O'Reilly said further meetings would assess the nature and extent of contributions to be made by the religious orders to the Government and the survivors.

Asked about overseas investments and assets held outside the jurisdiction, he declared: "It will be a full, complete assessment of all the resources we have."

He said the encounter with Mr Dempsey had been "very upsetting", adding: "I know well his anger and how he has been treated on previous occasions. I hope we can help to bring healing to him."

Christine Buckley of the Aislinn survivors' group told Fr O'Reilly she believed the Government was appointing its own team of asset investigators "because you have been so deceptive in the past". She added: "My concern is that you have had years to get a lot of this money out of the country."

In a joint statement last night, the 18 congregations said it was agreed to submit a statement of affairs to the Government by mid-July.

"There will be further contacts to discuss the nature and extent of contributions to Government by the congregations," they said.

- Senan Molony Deputy Political Editor

Church exorcises homosexual boy

Thursday, Jun 25 2009
Disturbing video of church casting out 'homosexual demon' from boy, 16, posted on YouTube

By Mail Foreign Service
Last updated at 12:07 PM on 25th June 2009

Shocking footage of church elders carrying out a exorcism to cast a 'homosexual demon' from a teenage boy have been posted online.

The video shows the 16-year-old lying on the floor, his body convulsing, while members of a small Connecticut church stand over him.

'Rip it from his throat!' a woman yells. 'Come on, you homosexual demon! You homosexual spirit, we call you out right now! Loose your grip, Lucifer!'

Disturbing: Footage shows the teenager collapsed on the floor as church elders perform the 'exorcism'

The 20-minute video posted on YouTube by Manifested Glory Ministries is being called abuse by gay and youth advocates, who are demanding an investigation.

But a church official this week denied that the teenager was injured or that the church is prejudiced.

'We believe a man should be with a woman and a woman should be with a man,' the Reverend Patricia McKinney said.

'We have nothing against homosexuals. I just don't agree with their lifestyle.'

The church posted the video on YouTube but has since removed it; it is still available on some Web sites that copied it.

It shows church members standing the youth on his feet by holding him under his arms, and people shouting as organ music plays.

'Come out of his belly,' someone commands. 'It's in the belly - push.'

Later, the teenager is back on the floor, breathing heavily. Then he's coughing and apparently vomiting into a bag.

'Get another bag,' a participant says. 'Make sure you have your gloves.'

As the youth lay back on the ground, limp, church members put a white sheet over him.

The practice has been widely condemned.

Practice: Church members can be heard commanding the 'homosexual demon' to leave the boy's body

But Kamora Herrington, who runs a mentoring program at True Colors, an advocacy group for gay youths said she believes it is fairly common.

'This happens all the time,' she said. "This is not isolated.'

Robin McHaelin, executive director of True Colors, said her organisation is aware of five cases in recent years in which youths in her program were threatened with exorcism.

In one case, she said, a child called to report that his carer had called a priest who was throwing holy water on his bedroom door.

'I think it's horrifying,' McHaelin said of the video by Manifested Glory.

'What saddens me is the people that are doing this think they are doing something in the kid's best interests, when in fact they're murdering his spirit.'

McHaelin said she planned to report the situation to the Connecticut Department of Children and Families.

An agency spokesman said the agency does not comment on complaints or investigations.

Rev McKinney said the youth was 18. The boy confirmed he is 16 but otherwise declined to comment, citing the advice of his pastor.

McHaelin said the boy told her staff that the church performed the ritual three times at his request.

She said the boy has been engaging in risky behavior that she blames on the church's treatment.

McKinney said the youth went to the church last year and collapsed on the floor during a service.

'He was out of control in the church,' she said. 'This young man came to us. We didn't go to him.'

McKinney denied the ritual was an exorcism, describing it instead as a casting out of spirits. She said the church took care of the youth, providing him clothes.

'He was dressing like a woman and everything. And he didn't want to be like that,' McKinney said.

The teen had been in reform school for stealing but was eager to get out and go to the church to have what he thought were his demons driven out, Herrington said.

Exodus International, a Christian group that believes gays can become straight through prayer and counseling, does not advocate the church's approach, said Jeff Buchanan, director of church equipping.

The Rev. Roland Stringfellow, a minister in Oakland, California, said he was subject to demon casting in the 1990s when he was at a Baptist church and was struggling with his sexuality.

He said he was put in front of the church as members shouted 'demon of homosexuality come out of him.'

'It caused nothing but shame and embarrassment,' Stringfellow said.

McKinney also has a weekly radio programme. She talked on Wednesday's programme about being 'persecuted' in recent days but did not mention the video specifically.

'It's been a hard time for me, but I'm looking good and I'm standing strong because when you have a mandate like mine you're not going to say what you want without the adversary coming after you,' she said.

'If you are a true prophet you're not going to be popular with the people.'

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Former Christian Brother admits 36 indecent assault charges

Independent.ie
Former Brother admits 36 indecent assault charges
A former Christian Brother has pleaded guilty to 36 charges of indecently assaulting 19 pupils at a national school in Limerick in the 1960s.

Sean John Drummond, with an address at Broadford in Dublin, has had his name added to the sex offenders register after pleading guilty to the charges at Limerick Circuit Criminal Court.

The incidents took place between July 1967 and July 1968 at Creagh National School, Bridge Street, in Limerick city.

Sixty-one-year-old Sean John Drummond replied guilty to each of the 36 charges as they were read out to the court.

They included 35 charges of indecently assaulting 18 pupils at Creagh National School, and one charge of indecently assaulting a pupil at Feile Luimnigh in Limerick City Theatre.

There was a short outburst in the courtroom from members of the 19 victims' families as the former Christian Brother, who is on bail, left the courtroom.

The court heard there was a possibility that victim impact statements would be heard from all of the victims, who were aged as young as eight at the time of the incidents.

Judge Sean O Donnabháin said the injured parties had a right to anonymity unless they chose to waive that right during the sentencing hearing, which will take place on October 6th.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Messiah cult

From The Sunday Times June 14, 2009

Wayne Bent: The cult of the man they call messiah
A solitary 17-year-old girl was at the centre of a sexual molestation case involving the 68-year-old leader of a dangerous cult. But she can’t wait to turn 18 so that she can go back to him and his ‘ministry’

There’s a sign at the city limits to the small town of Clayton, New Mexico, that reads “Do not pick up hitchhikers in this area: Northeast New Mexico Detention Facility”. The truth is, they wouldn’t get very far in this remote part of the United States without a lift.

Bored high-school kids gather outside one of the town’s three petrol stations — the one that serves sandwiches and stays open late — and when they graduate, it’s tradition to paint graffiti on rocks at the top of the cliff overlooking Highway 370. Near the intersection, there’s a nondescript mobile home set 50ft back from the main road. You wouldn’t give it a second glance, but this small trailer, with tumble-weeds blowing across its yard, is home to a couple at the heart of a drama that has played out over the past nine years here. It involves a religious sect, its 68-year-old leader who claims to be the Messiah, accusations of brainwashing and planned mass suicide and, most recently, child molestation.

John and Elsa Sayer were members of The Lord Our Righteousness (LOR) church, an apocalyptic cult that arrived in Clayton in 2000 and settled 40 miles north of town on a few thousand acres of ranch land they called Strong City. But in 2007, having spent 16 years in the group, the Sayers left suddenly after discovering that their two underage daughters, Lakeisha and Ashleey, had “laid naked” with its ageing leader, Wayne Bent, in what he said was an act of “healing”.

By all accounts, Bent’s arrest was fairly dramatic, considering LOR says it doesn’t possess weapons. A police helicopter hovered over Strong City while armed officers cut the lock on the gate to gain entry. Last May, a grand jury indicted Bent on charges of criminal sexual contact with, and contributing to the delinquency of, a minor, and in December he was sen-tenced to 18 years. In January this year, one of his young followers almost died after fasting for 30 days in protest.

John and Elsa Sayer say their family has been torn apart by the LOR church. While they and their eldest daughter, Ashleey, have left, their youngest, Lakeisha, is still a member, estranged from her parents and determined to return to Strong City when she turns 18 this August. She also says she’s in love with Michael Travesser, the name by which Wayne Bent is known to his followers.

Elsa Sayer is a pretty woman in her mid-thirties with long, dark-brown hair. She was just 16 when she married John, 2Å years her senior. Today they both work at a local motel, she as a receptionist, he as the caretaker. John’s mother, Shirley, who now goes by the name Aliah, joined the church in 1989, and John and Elsa followed shortly after.

Bent was a pastor with the Seventh Day Adventist Church in California before leaving to form his own denomination in the mid-1980s. LOR became more and more detached from the outside world and in 1990 settled on a 320-acre parcel of land in Idaho. Ten years later, Bent received a “message” that the group should relocate to New Mexico.

In the beginning, Elsa says everybody was like family. There was talk of putting all the money into one pot so that they could live communally. They collected rainwater and dug their own sewage system. They grew their own vegetables and the children were home-schooled. But the Sayers say things changed fairly quickly. Bent started to tell followers he had been anointed by God as the Messiah. Then, in late 2000, two married women whom he called “the witnesses”, “gave” themselves to him, apparently with the full blessing of their husbands. Bent told the group this was a test of their faith. “It took me a month before I realised he was saying he was literally the Second Coming of Christ,” Elsa says. “I couldn’t accept it at first. But what really got to me was when he slept with the two witnesses. I couldn’t see how it was right or godly.”

Over the years, Elsa says most of the marriages between Bent’s followers fell apart because they were told they were only supposed to be married to God. But she refused to give up her own. Then came the incident that, for the Sayers, was the final straw. Elsa says Ashleey took part in a “prophecy” that involved seven virgins laying naked with Bent on a bed. Two of them were Lakeisha and Ashleey, then 14 and 16. Another was a girl called Willow, who was just 12. Bent says this was spiritual healing and he had told his followers before it took place; the state said it was sexual molestation.

At the time, Elsa and John had moved off the property to find work in Clayton, but they were still active members of the church. They didn’t want their daughters to play any part in the ritual. “I told him [Bent] I had prayed hard and it was not on my heart for my girls to sleep with him,” Elsa says. “But he said it was because I was demonic, that if I was godly I could have given it up. John and I refused and threw a major wrench in his plans.” But Lakeisha and Ashleey did it anyway. “They went behind our backs,” Elsa says.

John says he felt angry but he knew Bent would pay the price. “I didn’t have to blow his head off. God would do it his way. It sounds like I didn’t care, but that’s not it.”

John’s mother, Shirley, and his sister, Misty (known as Liberty), still live at Strong City. He hasn’t spoken to either for eight months. Today, Ashleey is 18 and lives in Oklahoma with her boyfriend, Sean. She works at a branch of Subway and is trying to finish high school. She hardly speaks to her younger sister any more, which Elsa says has been one of the hardest things for her. The pair were inseparable. Lakeisha was put into foster care, though eventually John and Elsa regained custody. Desperate to return to her “family” at Strong City, Lakeisha fasted for 10 days. She was hospitalised and fed with an IV drip until she agreed to eat. She now lives in a ranch house a few miles from Clayton, looking after an old woman with dementia. She’s been away from Strong City almost a year, but still goes by her “spiritual” name, Healed, and is still devoted to the old man she calls Michael.

“It’s like trying to stop a drunk from drinking,” John says. “They’re not going to quit unless they want to. We call her every week, but she doesn’t like talking to us much. Basically, we’re going to hell and she’s going to heaven, and that’s pretty much how it is as far as she’s concerned.”

“And we raised her in that,” Elsa says. “It’s kind of our fault. She fell in love with Michael. He’s her first love. And that’s darn hard to break. No one has charisma like him.”

That evening, John and Elsa invite me to their trailer. John switches on a disco light. Elsa chooses rock music from the library on her computer and pours us drinks while the blue and red strobes dance around the room. They’re a fun couple, like teenagers who have just discovered a world of alcohol and partying. They’re reliving the youth they never had.

I drive to meet Lakeisha, who says she is in love with the spirit inside Wayne Bent. The wind is howling around the smallholding where she’s staying. Slim, an old cowboy, greets us as we pull up the dirt track. There’s a greenhouse, a couple of shed buildings, the cottage where Lakeisha is staying, and breathtaking views across the prairie.

Lakeisha is a beautiful girl. She has long dark hair like her mother and, like all the women who belong to LOR, she dresses modestly in a long denim skirt. “I like being here,” she says, “but I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for people’s prejudices toward my relationship with Michael. None of these things would have happened”.

She was washing vegetables in the sink of her trailer the day she was forcibly removed from Strong City by the state’s Children, Youth and Families Department (CYFD) in April 2008. “The hardest thing was they wouldn’t let me hug Michael before I left. I just broke down and started crying.”

I ask if she understands why she was taken away and charges were brought against Bent. “It seems like the public is really against us and wants to disrupt our lives,” she says.

“I think they were sticking their noses into something that wasn’t their business. It’s like, ‘Can’t you guys go do something else? There’s not a problem. Go investigate a real crime. I’m not being abused, I told you a thousand times.’”

I discover Lakeisha had also asked Bent to have sex with her, or — to use the term the LOR likes to use — “consummation”. “Yes,” she says. “But what does this have to do with anything?” I explain that if that had taken place, Bent would have faced far worse charges. “If it was God’s will for me, it would have happened. It wouldn’t have mattered what the consequences would have been. But God never opened it up. He never directed Michael or I. He didn’t connect us.”

Bent was found not guilty of the charge involving Lakeisha. Donald Gallegos, the district attorney, believes this was because of her emotional bond with Bent. Although she was upfront about what happened, she was in love with him. But he says the state maintains it had enough evidence to convict Bent of touching either Lakeisha or Ashleey on their breasts. By Bent’s own testimony, he laid down “chest to chest” with Lakeisha and placed his hand on Ashleey’s sternum. “It was Ashleey’s testimony that he had also kissed her on the breast. Our argument all along was that the minute these girls walked in and took their clothes off, he had a duty as an adult to say no, this is improper, and he never did that. And the jury obviously agreed with us.”

The third girl was 13-year-old Victoria Thompson, known as Willow. I had met her briefly in 2004 while she played outside her father, Jonathan’s, trailer, when I had gone to investigate claims that Bent had taken two women from their husbands and had sex with them and that the group was contemplating suicide.

“I felt like God was asking me to go to Michael and ask him for this,” Willow explains. “I wrote him an e-mail telling him I wanted to take my clothes off and have him hold me. When I got there I was nervous, so he said he’d hold me with my clothes on. Then I asked him if I could take my clothes off and he said yes. When I was being born, I was stuck in the birth canal, so he told me to imagine I was being reborn. He put his hand on my sternum. He then asked me where I carried my stress, so he put his hand on my stomach.”

I ask Jonathan how, as a father, he could allow this to happen. “I respect God’s voice to my daughter and I trust it,” he says. “I’ve also known Michael for 21 years and I trust him. It was definitely unconventional, but Jesus Christ was very unconventional in every sense.”

Gallegos says the case involving Willow was dropped, not for lack of evidence, but because of her hesitation or unwillingness to participate.

When I pull up at the gates to Strong City, it’s eerily silent. Bent’s son Jeff comes out of his mobile home to greet me and we wander down the hill together. LOR has sold off most of the land, but still has a couple of hundred acres. It’s beautiful, full of pine, juniper and scrub oak, but you get the overwhelming feeling that something is missing. When I was here last, Strong City was a thriving community. There’s a sign in their church that reads “Welcome Home Children”, but there are no children any more. The soil is dry and the wind howls through the valley. “We’re not self-sufficient any more,” Jeff tells me. “Life here is over.”

Jeff gets daily phone calls from his father, which he records and uploads to a password-protected website: Bent’s message still reaches his followers. We sit on a rock in the shade, and Jeff tells me that his father was convicted on prejudices rather than facts. “Even if he did commit the crime he was convicted of, his sentence was very disproportionate when compared to the average sentence given out to most other offenders in the state for the same thing or even greater crimes.” Last year, Jeff says, a teacher pleaded guilty to having sexual intercourse with a 16-year-old student and received 10 months’ work release [staying in prison at night].

He doesn’t think his father will survive in prison, that his “sensitive, loving nature” will die. Jeff sees what happened as the work of God. “We’re willing to be the offscouring of the Earth if we can have God’s approval,” he says. “There’s nothing worse than a cult that allegedly abuses children. We’ve been given that scarlet letter and we’re going to bear it. I wouldn’t call it a persecution. I’d call it a crucifixion.”

The next morning, I drive 300 miles to Los Lunas, home to the Central New Mexico Correctional Facility where Bent is imprisoned, as I’ve been granted an interview. On the way, I stop off at a house where Aquinnah O’Keefe, a 25-year-old follower known as Esther, is staying so as to be closer to Bent. After his sentencing, Esther fasted in protest. She insists the core issue is religious freedom. I ask whether she would have continued until death. “I would,” she says, “if that’s what I’d been told to do. But I wasn’t told to do that.”

In 1982 the FBI estimated there were over 3,000 cults in the US. Before her death in 2003, Dr Margaret Singer, an expert in sects, reckoned the number had risen to about 5,000. According to Rick Ross, who has spent 27 years investigating cults, LOR is one of the most dangerous. “This is a very extreme group, certainly one of the most dangerous in the United States right now,” he says. “The level of control is very, very high. You can see that from their willingness to die.

“This young woman [Esther] was within 72 hours of a coma. This is a group that can stand by and watch as a human being wastes away, dying day by day, and do nothing — including her own mother. That’s how brainwashed they are. And given this basis, anything can happen. If Wayne Bent wanted them to kill themselves, they would kill themselves.”

Ross says Esther’s fast was only broken when she was removed from the compound — a point at which he believes she was forced to think for herself. “The thing that upsets me,” he adds, “is that the New Mexico authorities allow it to go on. He [Bent] repeatedly calls the group and instructs them what to do. He still has control over the compound. If they cut those communication lines, the group might disintegrate.”

Bent cuts a frail figure as he is brought in to the tiny interview room in the prison. He stoops to pick up a comb that falls out of his pocket before taking a seat. He isn’t handcuffed, but a guard stands at the door throughout our interview. He was moved to the geriatric wing recently for his own protection, and when he’s not in his cell he works in the garden and sweeping up.

Bent has never denied laying next to a naked underage girl. In fact, he admits he did this with three minors up at Strong City, but he says those were healing experiences, that he did not touch any of their “sexual parts”, and that he should not, therefore, have been convicted.

“She asked if she could lay down naked, and I thought it over and I realised she wanted to pour her heart out without the visual restrictions of clothing, so I agreed. I put my hand on her sternum and I prayed for her while she was telling me her woes. When she was finished, I told her to get dressed and leave. And I was sentenced to 10 years for that. [Bent was sentenced to 18 years, eight of them suspended.]”

I ask whether he ever asked God if he should “consummate” with Lakeisha Sayer. “Yes, but it was no,” he says. “I wasn’t led to do that. When I first heard that request, I was deeply shocked and I shared it with the church too. It really wiped me out. Sometimes God puts things on people’s hearts for another reason than what it looks like.”

I tell Bent his son doesn’t think he’ll last in prison. Tears well up in his eyes. “I don’t have the heart for it,” he says after some moments. “I think I would just die of a broken heart.”


What will his followers do without him? “Some might die with me,” he says. “If people were so connected with me, and I died of a broken heart, there may be some who would die of a broken heart also.”

On the way out of the prison, I ask one of the officials why Bent is allowed to make as many phone calls as he does, all of which are relayed to his followers. “The free speech laws in this country are very powerful,” he tells me.

Before I leave New Mexico, I stop off at the Albuquerque offices of Bent’s attorney, John McCall, who is appealing against the conviction. A friendly man with long grey hair in a ponytail, he says his client never touched Ashleey’s breast and that his actions were of a “healing nature”. “We have a huge porno industry in this country that encourages young girls and women to disrobe for money and fame,” he says. “Yet, when we look at the girls from Strong City, don’t we need to stop a moment and examine the depth of what the experience is doing for their long-term development?”

Members of LOR insist no brainwashing has taken place and that people are free to leave any time. “It’s not conditioning. It’s faith,” Jeff told me. “And Lakeisha has been persecuted relentlessly by her parents for this.”

John and Elsa have decided to stay in Clayton, at least for now, to be closer to their daughters. “In a way I’d like to move,” John says. “But at least we can be happy now.”

It’s true — the people up at Strong City are physically free to walk out of those metal gates at the bottom of the ranch. Some live nearby and go to the shops when they want.

Even Lakeisha says she may stay on at Slim’s ranch, caring for the old woman. But mentally, I don’t think any of them are free at all, because they are all utterly in thrall to one man: Wayne Bent, the person they call Messiah

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Late cardinal's nephew claims abuse by priest

http://www.seattlepi.com/national/1110ap_us_priest_sex_abuse.html
Last updated June 18, 2009 9:43 a.m. PT

Late cardinal's nephew claims abuse by priest
By RANDALL CHASE
ASSOCIATED PRESS WRITER

WILMINGTON, Del. -- A nephew of the late New York Cardinal John O'Connor claims he was sexually abused by a priest.

In a lawsuit filed Thursday in Delaware, Richard Green claims he was repeatedly molested as a boy by the late Rev. John McDevitt. The 31-year-old New Jersey man was a 14-year-old freshman at Father Judge High School in Philadelphia at the time of the alleged abuse.

Green claims McDevitt knew he was O'Connor's nephew and threatened to give him a low religion grade if he did not attend tutoring sessions, during which he was abused.

A spokesman for McDevitt's Delaware-based religious order declined to comment on the lawsuit but said Green previously had been referred by the Philadelphia archdiocese to the order's victim's assistance coordinator.

Attempted exorcism

Fox News
Police: Georgia Woman Attempted Exorcism on Son
Wednesday, June 17, 2009

A Gwinnett County woman is in jail after authorities accused her of trying to perform an exorcism on her son.

Sandra Alfred, 46, was arrested Friday on charges of false imprisonment and cruelty to children. Police say she used handcuffs to restrain her son and withheld food for three days while attempting the exorcism.

The officer who applied for the arrest warrants noted that Alfred may suffer from schizophrenia and delusions.

Alfred is being held without bond and is scheduled to return to court June 26.

Her attorney, Michael Kay, said he was still investigating and didn't haven't anything to say now.

New focus in pursuit of abuse by clergy

New focus in pursuit of abuse by clergy
Irish report spurs area group to look at church schools
By Michael Paulson, Globe Staff | June 18, 2009

Five weeks after an Irish commission released a devastating report about abuse at Catholic children’s institutions there, a Waltham-based organization is starting an effort to compile evidence about what it believes was a similar pattern of abuse at Catholic institutions in the United States.

BishopAccountability.org, an organization that maintains an Internet-based archive about clergy sexual abuse, published on its website yesterday a list of twelve Catholic institutions whose faculty or staff have faced allegations of child sexual abuse.

Organizers are hoping to rapidly expand that list, including schools in and around Boston.

Many of the schools where the abuse allegedly took place were run by religious orders, not dioceses, and are no longer open. Many such allegations are already public through lawsuits or media coverage, but organizers of the new archive expect more accusers to emerge as a result of the effort.

“This was inspired by the Ireland report,’’ said Anne Barrett Doyle, codirector of BishopAccountability.org. “We realized that there has been no accounting here of the abuse of kids in minor seminaries, boarding schools, reform schools, and orphanages run by the church.’’

A spokeswoman for the US Conference of Catholic Bishops, Sister Mary Ann Walsh, said, “Anyone abused in any US diocese, be it in a church or church institution, has been urged to come forward.

“As a result, many have received needed assistance,’’ she said. “The bishops have been relentless in addressing sexual abuse and continue to be.’’

There have been allegations of abuse at a number of institutions for young people in the Boston area.

For example, John Vellante, a 64-year-old Haverhill resident, says he was abused as a 13-year-old at a minor seminary run by the Stigmatine religious order in Wellesley in 1958 and 1959. Vellante’s alleged abuser, Leo P. Landry, was dismissed from the clergy in 1972 and pleaded guilty to abuse charges in 2004.

Vellante, a retired Boston Globe employee who contributes a sports column in the Globe North section, said he supports the BishopAccountability effort, “just to prove to people that it happened here, too.’’

“It’s not just in Ireland, and I’m sure it’s not just in the US,’’ he said. “I’m sure you’re going to find it all over the world.’’

There are important differences between the Irish situation and that in the United States. The Irish institutions, for orphans and troubled children, were government-regulated but church-run, whereas the institutions in the United States were largely independent of the government and often of each other.

“Because of our system, which was scattershot and not systematic, it’s hard to hold anyone accountable,’’ Barrett Doyle said. “But there is a colossal hidden problem here.’’

© Copyright 2009 The New York Times Company

Monday, June 15, 2009

Catholic priest pleads guilty to child abuse

Tuesday, February 3, 2009
Ex-Charlotte priest pleads guilty to abuse
News-Talk Radio 1110WBT Charlotte, Carolina
February 2, 2009

by CHRIS MILLER, WBT NEWS

A Catholic priest accused of the first known instance of clergy abuse in Charlotte has pleaded guilty to molestation charges.

The Rev. Robert Yurgel, 44, cut a deal with prosecutors that would send him to prison for 8-10 years, in exchange for pleading guilty to one count of sexual offense against a minor.

Yurgel was charged with molesting a teenage boy at Charlotte's St. Matthew Catholic Church in the late 1990s, when Yurgel was an assistant to the pastor.

When he was arrested in early 2008, Yurgel was working with the Franciscan Friars in New Jersey.

His accuser, who at the time was an altar boy at the church, said Yurgel also molested him in Yurgel's car, and at the boy's Charlotte home while his parents were away.

The alleged victim, now 24, read a statement in court, urging other molestation victims to come forward.

The accuser told Yurgel he robbed him of his childhood, and the experience continues to haunt him in nightmares.

His mother said Yurgel would "be in prison and away from not only our children and loved ones, but all children of the world.”

Yurgel kept silent during the hearing.

The accuser is suing Yurgel, the Catholic Diocese of Charlotte, and the Capuchin Fransican Friars, of which Yurgel is a member.

The lawsuit claims the two groups tried to cover up the alleged abuse by transfering him to New Jersey in October 1999.

The transfer took place, the lawsuit claims, around the same time the accuser accidentally sent an email professing his love for Yurgel to a church employee.

A Diocese spokesman denies the allegation of "rush transfer," calling it "a complete falsehood."

Following Monday's hearing, the Diocese released a statement reiterating its stance it "was not made aware of any complaints concerning (Yurgel's) conduct with minors" during his time in Charlotte until after his arrest.

This article was found at:

http://www.wbt.com/news/details.cfm?article_id=45259

Priest calls abused children "ruffians"

Independent.ie
Outcry after priest brands abuse children 'ruffians'
By Eimear Ni Bhraonain and Declan McSweeney
Monday June 15 2009

PARISHIONERS were furious yesterday after complaining that the priest described inmates at a notorious reform school as "ruffians".

Last night Monsignor Thomas Coonan said he did not intend to offend anyone when talking about the Daingean school, which was shamed in the recent Ryan report on institutional abuse. He said his remarks had been taken out of context.

But parishioners attending Sunday Mass at St Joseph's Church in Ballinagar, Co Offaly, expressed disgust at the tone of the remarks, especially as the church is just four miles from the old St Conleth's Reformatory in Daingean.

One Mass-goer said that Msgr Coonan also told the congregation two weeks ago that he had spoken to someone who denied the allegations made in the Ryan report.

It is understood some parishioners became visibly upset and walked out of the church on that Sunday.

Msgr Coonan would not confirm or deny whether he described the inmates as "ruffians" when contacted by the Irish Independent last night.

But he insisted he was speaking in the context of the Eucharist and not on the Ryan report.

However, he admitted he said "not all of the boys in the Daingean reformatory were angels".

But he added that he never intended his comments to cause any offence and he regretted and withdrew them if they had offended people. He also said he had condemned the abuse in the institution.

But John Kelly, of Survivors of Child Abuse (SOCA), who attended the Daingean reformatory, said he was "outraged" by the remarks made by Msgr Coonan.

"I was in Daingean, I can say my mother fought tooth and nail to get me out of there. She sent in requests to have me released into a trade because I was getting no education in Daingean," he said.

"My family wanted me, we were child slaves, and it's wrong to say we were 'ruffians'. I got flogged naked, the abusers are the ones who were ruffians, they were terrorists, they terrorised children."

Mr Kelly said people like Msgr Coonan had "outdated attitudes".

Support

"I met the people of Daingean on the open day two years ago. It's the public who believe us and support us."

He commended the people who walked out of the church: "They stood up to him; they are the people who are not in denial.

"Other parishes need to stand up to people who hold these outdated attitudes. That's what got us into this in the first place."

Meanwhile, a Church of Ireland bishop said every institution in Ireland must look at itself to see what abuses or injustices they perpetuate.

Bishop Paul Colton said there had not been "sufficient pause for thought and reflection" in the wake of the Ryan report.

He said sections of Irish society used the report as a springboard towards a secularising agenda. In the midst of this trauma, the only people who mattered were the victims, he said. "They must be the centre of all our concerns and efforts. In the aftermath of the report, people who were abused should be the priority of this nation, its institutions and of all of us."

The Church of Ireland Bishop of Cork added: "As we have seen again and again, their tears continue to flow. Only the victims matter."

- Eimear Ni Bhraonain and Declan McSweeney
©Independent.ie

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Pope asks Irish bishops for child abuse truth

POPE ASKS IRISH BISHOPS FOR CHILD ABUSE TRUTH
Italy News Religion
(ANSA) - Vatican City, June 11 - Pope Benedict XVI has
asked Irish bishops to make every effort to ``establish the
truth`` and ensure ``justice for everyone`` over accusations
of child abuse involving Irish priests, the Irish Bishops`
Conference (IBC) said Thursday.
In a statement following its general assembly, the IBC
said the pope had made his remarks during a meeting with IBC
President Cardinal Sean Brady on June 5.
Two weeks earlier, Ireland`s Child Abuse Commission had
published a report into numerous physical, sexual and
psychological abuses suffered by children in Church-run
institutions between the 1930s and `80s.
``The Holy Father once again urged the bishops and all
in the Church to continue to establish the truth of what
happened and why; to ensure that justice is done for all; to
see that measures put in place to prevent abuse from
happening again are fully applied, and, to help to bring
healing to the survivors of abuse,`` the IBC said.
In the statement, the bishops said the Child Abuse
Commission`s report had left them ``ashamed, humbled and
repentant`` that Irish clerics had been responsible for the
abuses.
``Heinous crimes were perpetrated against the most
innocent and vulnerable, and vile acts with life-lasting
effects were carried out under the guise of the mission of
Jesus Christ,`` they said.

Legal fees to account for £400m of £1.4bn child abuse bill

Irish Times
Legal fees to account for €400m of €1.4bn child abuse bill
PATSY McGARRY, Religious Affairs Correspondent

Sat, Jun 13, 2009

THE TOTAL cost of institutional child abuse is likely to reach €1.4 billion, of which as much as €400 million could consist of legal costs, informed sources have indicated.


It has also emerged that the €127 million which 18 religious orders agreed in 2002 to contribute to a State redress scheme has not even covered legal fees at the Residential Institutions Redress Board to date.

It has further emerged that likely legal costs to the State following dealings by the 18 orders with the Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse will be between €34 million and €44 million.

As of May 20th last, the publication date of the Ryan report, the redress board had paid out legal costs of €138.5 million to solicitors’ firms, of which €11 million was paid following associated High Court proceedings.

Of the outstanding legal fees yet to be paid by the State following legal representation for the 18 religious orders at the Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse, it is estimated that €20 million is due to firms which represented the Christian Brothers.

The Brothers were the largest provider of residential care for boys in the State over the period investigated by the commission. Artane industrial school in Dublin and Letterfrack industrial school in Galway, both among the largest such institutions in the State, were under their management.

An additional €12 million to €15 million is believed due to legal firms which represented the Sisters of Mercy at the commission. They ran 26 industrial schools during the period investigated.

Between €5 million and €8 million is thought due to firms which represented the Sisters of Charity, who ran five industrial schools, including St Joseph’s and St Patrick’s in Kilkenny and a group home, Madonna House, in Dublin.

For the Oblates of Mary Immaculate, who ran the Daingean reformatory in Co Offaly, the legal bill is estimated at being between €5 million and €8 million also.

For the Rosminians, who ran Upton reformatory in Cork and Ferryhouse industrial school near Clonmel, Co Tipperary, the legal bill is expected to be more than €4 million, while that for the Good Shepherd Sisters is expected to be about €2 million.

They ran four industrial schools and a reformatory school in Limerick. Costs for the remaining orders are expected to be less, as was their involvement in running residential institutions for children over the period.

Meanwhile the Archbishop of Dublin, Most Rev Diarmuid Martin, has said that, following publication of the Ryan Report, “there are questions to be asked regarding how much Irish devotional practice in general had drifted away from the fundamental fact that God is love.”

Speaking in Dublin last night, he said: “We have to ask to what extent the punitive and humiliating culture which seems to have developed in some such institutions was due to the fact that we had drifted away from the God who is love into one inspired by a punitive, judgemental God; a God whose love was the love of harsh parents, where punishment became the primary instrument of love.”

COST OF ABUSE

- Total estimated cost €1.4 billion

- Total estimated legal fees up €400 million

- Total cost of RIRB awards €1.2 billion , of which legal fees will make up approx. €167 million

- Total estimated cost of CICA - almost all legal fees approx €11 million

- Average Award at RIRB €83,320

© 2009 The Irish Times

Conn. diocese appeals order releasing abuse info

http://www.seattlepi.com/national/1110ap_us_church_abuse.html

Last updated June 12, 2009 2:47 p.m. PT

Conn. diocese appeals order releasing abuse info
By JOHN CHRISTOFFERSEN
ASSOCIATED PRESS WRITER

NEW HAVEN, Conn. -- The Roman Catholic Diocese of Bridgeport asked the Connecticut Supreme Court on Friday to reconsider a ruling that would make public thousands of pages of documents that detail alleged sexual abuse by priests.

The court's 4-1 ruling last month covers more than 12,600 pages of documents from 23 lawsuits against six priests that have been under seal since the diocese settled the cases in 2001. Most of the victims were altar boys or belonged to church youth organizations.

The records could shed light on how recently retired New York Cardinal Edward Egan handled the allegations when he was Bridgeport bishop.

The diocese, which has said it was "deeply disappointed" in the ruling, wants the full court of seven justices to hear the case.

"The decision raises significant concerns and deserves review by the full court, as opposed to a divided panel," the diocese said in its motion.

Church officials say the ruling fails to uphold the privacy and constitutional rights of all parties to lawsuits, especially when cases are sealed, and contends the disclosure of the sealed documents is barred by the religious clauses of the First Amendment.

"Our position is that the Supreme Court already carefully reviewed all the issues that have been raised by the diocese in the seven years the case has been pending," said Jonathan Albano, attorney for The New York Times, The Boston Globe and The Washington Post.

Those papers and The Hartford Courant have been seeking the documents.

David Clohessy, national director of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, criticized Bridgeport Bishop William Lori.

"It's obvious that Lori's terribly afraid of the church hierarchy's complicity that is revealed in these documents," Clohessy said.

Joseph McAleer, a diocese spokesman, said SNAP was misinformed. He said the victims and their attorneys had access to the documents.

A Waterbury Superior Court judge ruled in 2006 that the files should be unsealed, but the diocese appealed. The high court agreed with the trial court that the documents, which include depositions, affidavits and motions, were subject to a presumption of public access.

The state Supreme Court rejected church officials' claim that the documents were subject to constitutional privileges, including religious privileges under the First Amendment.

"Because the defendants failed to claim these privileges or rights at the time of disclosure and because the defendants voluntarily disclosed the information to its adversaries in litigation, the defendants cannot now be heard to complain that the information should not be disclosed to others," Justice Joette Katz wrote for the majority.

In his dissent, Justice William Sullivan said the newspapers should have had to prove their intervention in the case was justified by extraordinary circumstances.

Egan's deposition should be in the file, Albano said.

Egan was Bridgeport bishop from 1988 to 2000, when he was promoted to cardinal in New York. He was later criticized for failing to tell authorities about the Bridgeport abuse allegations and allowing the priests involved to continue working despite the claims.

Egan, who retired last month, has defended his handling of the cases.

The New York Archdiocese issued a statement last month saying the documents involved five priests accused of sexual misconduct prior to Egan's appointment as Bridgeport bishop. One of the priests died before Egan's appointment and the other four were sent to a top psychiatric institution for treatment and expert evaluation, according to the statement.

"They were returned to ministry only upon the written recommendation of the aforementioned institution along with the advice of experienced members of both clergy and laity," the statement said. "At the time, this was the recognized professional manner of handling cases of sexual misconduct with minors."

When new information was received about misconduct, two had their authorization to exercise ministry removed indefinitely; one, who had suffered a brain injury, was retired from ministry; and one was permitted to continue in a restricted ministry as an assistant chaplain in a home for the aged, residing in a convent of religious women, according to the statement.

In Boston, Cardinal Bernard Law resigned after church records were released detailing his role in handling sexual abuse claims.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Irish Minister for Education apologises for failure to protect victims

Last Updated: Friday, June 12, 2009, 17:09
O'Keeffe apologises for failure to protect victims
Minister for Education Batt O’Keeffe today apologised to the thousands of victims of child abuse in church-run institutions, saying the Department of Education had failed them.

At the end of a two-day Dáil debate on the Ryan report, Mr O’Keeffe said the suffering could have been avoided had the State done its job properly.

TDs agreed an all-party motion pledging to cherish all the children of the nation equally, with Green Party leader John Gormley saying the time had come for a children’s referendum.

Mr O’Keeffe said: “The report clearly shows how the Department failed to protect these children for whom it had a duty of care.

“Had the Department done its job properly, thousands of children would not have suffered the way they did. We failed them.”

The Minister said the report supported the stories of those who attended the institutions and highlighted their pain and suffering.

“The report lays bare the reality of life in these institutions — the neglect, the fear, the abuse experienced daily in an environment which, in the main, didn’t even provide them with their most basic of needs,” he said.

“I commend all victims for their bravery in coming forward to the Commission and divulging the most painful and traumatic events of their lives.”

Quoting the US author James Baldwin, Mr O’Keeffe added: “Not everything that is faced can be changed but nothing can be changed unless it is faced.”

Mr Gormley said the debate had come decades too late and called for a referendum on the rights of the child.

“I believe that possibly the greatest monument we can leave is enshrine children’s rights in the Constitution through a referendum and constitutional amendment,” he said.

“We have been talking about and debating this issue for more than four years in this House. The time for debate I believe is now over.

“I would urge all parties in this House to find consensus through the work of the Joint Committee on the Constitutional Amendment on Children, which is due to report in September.”

The debate in the shocking report was delayed by two-days after Fine Gael tabled a motion of no confidence in the Government following the local and European election
results.

It got under way yesterday with Taoiseach Brian Cowen claiming the Ryan report was the gravest ever published in the state’s history.

Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny said it shamed us as a State and a society.

Child abuse by Catholic institutions condemned by Irish marchers

From The TimesJune 11, 2009

Child abuse by Catholic institutions condemned by Irish marchers

David Sharrock, Ireland Correspondent
A sombre silence fell over Dublin yesterday when thousands of men, women and children marched through the capital to highlight decades of abuse in Catholic-run residential institutions, a shameful secret exposed last month by a government report.

Hundreds of thousands of children passed through orphanages and care homes run by religious orders, including the Christian Brothers and the Sisters of Mercy.

Horrific stories of rape and beatings carried out by sadistic nuns and brothers went unbelieved and ignored for decades until publication of the Ryan report last month unleashed a national wave of anger.

Eighteen religious orders that negotiated a favourable compensation scheme with the Government in return for indemnities have been forced to agree to revisit the agreement.

Related Links
Catholic rethink on Irish abuse compensation
Ireland unveils report on Catholic child abuse
Lawyer can sue for £5m over Catholic abuse
The Fianna Fáil Government, which yesterday faced a no-confidence motion after recording its worst results since the 1920s last week in council, European and by-elections, is also under intense pressure to do more for the abuse victims.

That pressure was maintained yesterday by the large, silent demonstration that weaved its way down O’Connell Street past the GPO Building, heart of the 1916 Easter Rising.

At the front of the demonstration was a banner with the words "Cherishing all of the children of the nation equally", a quotation from the 1916 rebel proclamation.

The silence of the marchers, wearing white ribbons on their lapels and carrying children’s shoes to represent the loss of childhood, was respected by onlookers along the route to the Dáil, the Irish parliament.

Workers downed tools as the demonstration passed. The silence lifted outside the Dáil, when Marie Therese O’Loughlin mounted a makeshift stage on a flatbed lorry to describe her childhood with the Sisters of Mercy.

She described how she was forced to wash excrement off younger children with cold water from the toilet and wash their dirty bed sheets before enduring day-long shifts making rosary beads in Goldenbridge, a notorious residential home.

"There are lots of people like me," she told the crowd as they chanted “We want justice” and “Name and shame”.

“This was a mini-Holocaust and the Government and the religious tried to pretend we weren’t hurt in these institutions," she said.

Christine Buckley, another abuse survivor, joined four victims in a wreath-laying ceremony; two black wreaths for the dead and two white for the living.

Applause erupted after the words of a petition, handed to two representatives of the religious orders, were repeated by the crowds: “We, the people of Ireland, join in solidarity and call for justice, accountability, restitution and repatriation for the unimaginable crimes committed against the children of our country by religious orders in 216 or more institutions.” Ms Buckley, one of the first to reveal what had happened to her in the institutions, said she never thought this day would come.

“I wish we had 365 days like this,” she said. “I find it ironic that for once we, the victims, are in front and the religious who abused are behind.

“We have tried and tried to say what happened to 165,000 children in 216 hellholes. Now, finally, we have been vindicated.”

Ms Buckley, who runs a support group, called for a trust to be formed to take money from the religious orders to compensate victims and for them to be penalised if found guilty of any further deception.

“This trust fund should be independent so that means the religious no longer control us,” she said. “We ask that every single payment that was made at the sham of a redress board is revisited.”

The Residential Institutions Redress Board has paid an average of £10,000 to applicants — far below the average £300,000 paid by the Church to Irish victims of paedophile priests.

Ms Buckley added: “If it beggars the religious and they go broke, so be it.”

As 216 black and white balloons were released protesters laid children’s shoes and teddy bears at the gates of the parliament.

Emotions ran high: one protester was briefly detained by police after he threw a pair of shoes over the railings, while others shouted that the building should be stormed.

Another protester shouted that the Pope should “get off his throne and address the Irish people”.

Last week the Pope was briefed by senior Irish clergy on the Ryan report, who said after the meeting that he was visibly upset by the details.

But John Kelly, chairman of Survivors of Child Abuse in Ireland, pleaded with the protesters to maintain their dignity as they had for so many years.

He revealed that hundreds of survivors would attend a reception given by the Mary McAleese, the Irish President, later this month.

“This will have great significance because you were denied your constitutional rights as a child. The constitution didn’t mean anything,” he said. “Now, finally, the state is saying we cherish you as adults. That is very important to us.”

Some abuse survivors arrived in Dublin from the US and many travelled from England to attend the rally.

But organisers were angered that a parliamentary debate on the Ryan report, due to have taken place yesterday, was postponed because of a motion of no confidence in the Government of Brian Cowen.

Mr Justice Sean Ryan criticised religious authorities in his report for covering up their crimes and the Government for colluding in a system where sexual and physical abuse was endemic for decades. It noted that children were also preyed upon by foster parents, volunteer workers and employers.

The report did not identify abusers after a successful legal challenge by the Christian Brothers, which was the largest provider of residential care for boys in Ireland.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Irish bishops admit abuse was prevalent in church culture

Published on National Catholic Reporter (http://ncronline.org)

Irish bishops: Abuse was prevalent in church culture
DUBLIN, Ireland

The abuse of children in institutions run by Catholic priests and nuns was part of a culture that was prevalent in the Catholic Church in Ireland, the Irish Catholic Bishops' Conference said at the conclusion of its summer meeting.

The bishops spent a major portion of their June 8-10 meeting discussing a report from the Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse, published May 20 under chairman Sean Ryan. The commission found that church institutions failed to prevent an extensive level of sexual, physical and emotional abuse and neglect.

"The Ryan report represents the most recent disturbing indictment of a culture that was prevalent in the Catholic Church in Ireland for far too long," the bishops said. "Heinous crimes were perpetrated against the most innocent and vulnerable, and vile acts with life-lasting effects were carried out under the guise of the mission of Jesus Christ.

"This abuse represents a serious betrayal of the trust which was placed in the church. For this we ask forgiveness. We are ashamed, humbled and repentant that our people strayed so far from their Christian ideals," the bishops said.

The bishops offered four immediate responses to the report:

Sadness over the "suffering of so many for so long."
An invitation to survivors to "engage with us" in an effort to understand how to assist the victims of abuse.
The intention to respond as pastors "despite the inadequacies at times of our previous pastoral responses."
Praying for the "well being and peace of mind for all who suffered" and urging all Catholics to join them in prayer.
During their meeting, the Irish bishops reflected on the early June visit to Rome by Cardinal Sean Brady of Armagh, and Archbishop Diarmuid Martin of Dublin and their June 8 meeting with Pope Benedict XVI. In addition to briefing the Holy Father on the Ryan report, the two men discussed the findings with several pontifical congregations.

Reportedly, Pope Benedict was "visibly upset" [1] when he heard details contained in the Ryan report on abuse in State institutions run by religious orders during the meeting with Brady and Martin.

Abuse scandals: states revise statute of limitations

The Fight Over Bringing Old Accusations to Court
Sex-Abuse Scandals Lead States to Revise Statute of Limitations; Opponents See Risk in Relying on Stale Evidence
By SUZANNE SATALINE
If it is too late to bring a criminal case against a child abuser, should it be too late to sue in civil court?
A handful of legislatures have grappled with that question, and a pair have said better late than never.
Two states have created litigation windows that open up a new time period for victims of childhood sexual abuse to seek redress in civil courts. In 2002, California allowed victims one year to file cases against their abuser or the employer, no matter when the abuse had occurred. Delaware followed suit in 2007, giving people two years to bring accusations in civil court. This year, New York state legislators have been debating a one-year statute. Other states are mulling similar measures.
Statutes of limitations, for criminal or civil actions, help avoid circumstances in which evidence is incomplete, documents have disappeared and testimony relies on faded memories.
But triggered by high-profile scandals of abuse at the hands of Catholic priests, some of which occurred decades ago, a few states have seen the need for "window laws'' that temporarily open the courts again to allow past grievances to be remedied through civil actions, though not criminal prosecutions. Supporters say these laws can benefit people who might not have known years ago or didn't disclose that they had been harmed.
Yet, such laws inevitably raise questions of constitutionality and fairness.
Defense attorneys say many of the abuse cases that were brought in California and now in Delaware name perpetrators and religious superiors who are dead or retired. The only point, says some attorneys, is to wrench money from the Catholic church. "It's almost impossible to defend the cases," says Mark Chopko, the former counsel for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, who says he has been a consultant on more than 1,000 abuse cases.
The Most Rev. Nicholas DiMarzio, bishop of the Diocese of Brooklyn, N.Y., has been an outspoken opponent of the bill in Albany. "Clearly this is aimed at the Catholic Church," he said. "People believe we have deep pockets and are responsible for individuals that might have been representing the Catholic Church." Sexual abuse is a much bigger problem in public schools, he said.
The issue is the subject of debate beyond the Catholic Church. In New York, the proposed law to create a one-year window on civil suits is being supported by some Jewish groups, who say that childhood sexual abuse is a little-known problem in the Jewish community. But opponents say the legislation would force Jewish institutions into settling cases from years past, bringing financial ruin to schools and synagogues.
Legislatures have created window laws before, particularly when people have become sick years after the harm was caused. State laws passed after the Vietnam War allowed lawsuits by veterans and their families who had developed cancer and other ailments linked to Agent Orange. Some states have created window legislation for those harmed by asbestos, injured by medicines taken by their mothers during pregnancy or exposed to environmental dangers, such as the polluted New York state neighborhood around Love Canal.
Courts have generally upheld statutes of limitations, in part, to give potential targets of lawsuits a sense of relief, known as "repose" in the court system. "If 25 years have gone by and a defendant can be sued, there's an aspect of this that can seem unfair," says Peter H. Schuck, a professor of law at Yale University, though he doesn't have a position on the legislation.
A more practical rationale underlies the notion of time limits, too. The idea is to bar lawsuits for acts performed so long ago that defendants no longer could mount a reasonable defense. A business owner, for example, would have difficulty building a defense against an accusation, filed 30 years later, by a former employee who says he got hurt on the job, long after witnesses scattered and the company's paperwork was discarded. Says Mr. Schuck: "You don't want legal disputes to be resolved on the basis of stale evidence."
There are some crimes that are viewed as so heinous, namely first-degree murder, that they often don't have a statute of limitations. In many jurisdictions, murder charges can be brought whenever prosecutors believe they have enough evidence, no matter how much time has passed.
But the criminal charge of rape or sexual assault is subject to a statute of limitations in many states, though often a relatively lengthy period, such as 10 years in some states.
Efforts to open a "window" to criminally charge people for rapes committed years ago have met with resistance in court. In 2003, the U.S. Supreme Court rejected retroactively extending time limits on criminal prosecution of sexual abuse against minors. The court said California unlawfully changed the legal consequences of the crime after the fact. The Supreme Court chose not to take up the issue of civil lawsuits, but California state courts have upheld the constitutionality of retroactive civil actions.
The California legislation ushered in more than 800 lawsuits, compelling the Archdiocese of Los Angeles to issue a report that named clergy who had been accused of abuse. Some who were still working in ministry were removed from their posts. That diocese alone paid a settlement of more than $660 million in 2007 to people who said they had been abused.
Plaintiffs attorneys say that the nature of sexual abuse -- which some victims, such as children, are too ashamed to report -- compels state governments to give victims an added legal opportunity to confront their abusers.
The California law ushered in litigation that revealed the names of alleged perpetrators and compelled schools, dioceses and other organizations to handle abuse complaints more quickly and openly, says Marci Hamilton, a Cardozo Law School professor and longtime advocate of lifting limitations on abuse cases.
Matthias Conaty, 40 years old, who says he was abused by a Capuchin Franciscan friar starting when he was 9, helped lead the effort to get the Delaware law passed. Last year, Mr. Conaty sued his alleged abuser, religious orders, a school and the Diocese of Wilmington, accusing them of gross negligence. Mr. Conaty is seeking unspecified monetary damages and the release of all documents related to the alleged abuse of children.
An attorney for the diocese couldn't be reached for comment on the case, which is still pending. An attorney for the friar said she had no comment on Mr. Conaty's case.
"It's really in the public interest because it's about protecting children today," Mr. Conaty says. "Some institutions have changed the way they screen people. They've been much more responsive to small complaints."

Ryan abuse debate begins

BBC
Two-day Ryan abuse debate begins
A two-day debate on abuse in institutions run by religious orders has begun in the Dáil.
Over 2,000 people told the Ryan Commission they were either sexually or physically abused.
It happened in a network of reformatories, industrial schools and workhouses up to the 1980s.
Taoiseach Brian Cowen said the Ryan Commission "shone a powerful light into probably the darkest corner of the history of the state".
"What has been revealed must be the source of the deepest shame for all of us. Children in the care of the state were physically, emotionally, and in many cases sexually abused," said Mr Cowen.
"Our state and our systems failed to hear their cries or come to their help."
Ireland's Catholic Bishops have called the report "the most recent disturbing indictment of a culture that was prevalent for far too long".
Following their three-day summer meeting in Maynooth, they said in a statement on Wednesday: "Heinous crimes were perpetrated against the most innocent and vulnerable, and vile acts with life-lasting effects were carried out under the guise of the mission of Jesus Christ."
The bishops branded the abuse described in the Ryan Commission's report as "a serious betrayal of trust ... placed in the Church".
They also asked for forgiveness, saying their "people" had "strayed so far from their Christian ideals".
Earlier this week, the Archbishop of Dublin, Diarmuid Martin, said Pope Benedict had been "visibly upset" when he heard details of the report.
Archbishop Martin met the Pope along with Catholic Primate Seán Brady at the Vatican last Friday.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Catholic conference rejects amended abuse lawsuit bill

Published on National Catholic Reporter
N.Y. Cath. Conf. rejects amended abuse lawsuit bill
ALBANY, N.Y. -- Even with an amendment to include public institutions, a bill that would temporarily waive statutes of limitations on filing sex abuse lawsuits "remains terrible public policy," said the New York State Catholic Conference in Albany.
As originally written, the Child Victims Act of New York -- also known as the Markey bill after sponsor Democratic Assemblywoman Margaret Markey -- applied only to suits against individuals and private institutions.
On June 3 Markey said she would amend her proposal to include public institutions.
"After several years of denying the fact that her bill would exempt public institutions, Mrs. Markey has now acknowledged that her original bill did just that. However, even this amended bill remains terrible public policy for the state," said Richard E. Barnes, executive director of the New York State Catholic Conference, said in a June 4 statement.
Markey's bill "could easily result in hundreds of billions of dollars in settlements against all entities, public and private, in every corner of our state. Clearly, such staggering numbers make this legislation a matter of grave consequence and intense public interest," Barnes said.
The New York Times reported that Markey decided to amend the bill after fellow lawmakers who support the measure told her their constituents felt it was unfair if it only applied to private institutions.
She said in a statement: "I think the vigorous debate we've had this year has made this a better bill."
In March the Catholic conference, which represents the state's bishops in matters of public policy, mounted a statewide campaign to educate people about the Markey bill. The measure also would lengthen the period in which alleged victims may sue over child sexual abuse in the future.
New York's current statute of limitations requires alleged victims of child sex abuse to file civil lawsuits by the time they are 23.
Barnes said the Catholic conference opposed the bill for several reasons, "namely that statutes of limitation exist in law for a good reason and that it is impossible to defend (against) decades-old claims."
By allowing lawsuits to be filed against the church and other nonprofits, the measure also would "seriously impact" the ability of the church and other nonprofit entities "to provide health care, social services and education programs to the citizens of the state."
By applying it only to private institutions, Markey's bill was "inherently unfair," Barnes said. Now, with an amendment to include public institutions, it will hurt not only the church "but also public school districts, public health care institutions, state agencies, counties, cities and towns, as well as their insurers," he said.
Copyright © The National Catholic Reporter Publishing Company

Priest renoved over abuse allegation

Former Mooney, Boardman priest removed over abuse allegation
Sunday, June 7, 2009
The allegation came to the bishop’s attention last week.
STAFF REPORT
YOUNGSTOWN — A priest who once served on the faculty of Cardinal Mooney High School has resigned from his Canton parish over an allegation of sexual misconduct with a minor.
The Youngstown diocese said Saturday that Bishop George V. Murry has placed the Rev. Thomas Crum on administrative leave over the allegation of abuse that occurred more than 30 years ago.
The allegation surfaced last week, said the Rev. John Jerek, spokesman for the diocese. He said the bishop met with “the person who’d been abused.” He would not give more information about whether the person was a man or a woman, or whether the person had been a student at Mooney. He also said that he couldn’t confirm if the episode even took place at Mooney. He said he didn’t want to comment too much, citing an ongoing investigation by Youngstown police. No charges have been filed yet.
Father Crum admitted the allegation to church authorities and resigned immediately as pastor of Our Lady of Peace parish, the diocese said.
“He cannot publicly celebrate the sacraments, wear clerical attire or present himself as a priest in good standing,” the diocese said in a prepared statement.
Father Jerek said Father Crum is still a priest, but he could be defrocked later as the investigation continues.
The Rev. Lewis Gaetano has replaced Father Crum in Canton as a temporary administrator, Father Jerek said.
Father Crum has moved out of the parish house and is in a psychological treatment center, he said.
The Diocesan Review Board, an independent, predominantly lay panel, was advised and supported the bishop’s decision to immediately remove Father Crum from ministry, the diocese said.
The board reviews allegations of abuse and advises the bishop, Father Jerek said.
He said there were no other priests or minors involved in the case. He said this is the first complaint against Father Crum that the diocese has had.
The diocese said Father Crum has been one of its priests since 1975. His assignments have included: assistant pastor at St. Mary Parish in Massillon, 1975; Mooney faculty, 1975-77; assistant pastor at St. James Parish, Warren, and St. John the Baptist Parish in Campbell, 1977-79; assistant pastor at St. Christine Parish here, 1979-85; assistant pastor at Immaculate Conception Parish in Ravenna, 1985-88; pastor at St. Mary Parish in Orwell, 1988-91; assistant pastor at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Parish, Youngstown, 1991-92; pastor at St. Anthony Parish, Canton, 1992-94.
In 1994, he took a personal leave of absence at his own request, the diocese said. He returned as assistant pastor at St. Charles Parish in Boardman, 1997-99; then went on to pastor at St. Peter Parish in Rootstown, 1999-2005; and as administrator, then pastor at Our lady of Peace Parish, 2005.
According to Vindicator files, Father Crum is a graduate of Central Catholic High School in Louisville, Ohio (between Alliance and Canton); Walsh College in Canton; and Mount St. Mary’s University in Maryland, where he earned a master of divinity degree. He was ordained June 7, 1975, in St. Columba Cathedral here.
He also taught at Central Catholic High while serving as a deacon in St. Mary’s in Massillon, and also served as a counselor for Canton YMCA and as a chaplain at Fort Scott in Cincinnati.
The diocese is encouraging anyone who may have experienced sexual abuse by clergy or others associated with the church to contact the diocesan victim’s assistance coordinator at (330) 744-8451 and to notify the police.
“The Diocese of Youngstown continues to be committed to protecting children and helping to heal victims of abuse,” Bishop Murry said, adding, “I am deeply sorry for the pain suffered by survivors of abuse due to actions of some members of the clergy, because nothing is more important than protecting our children.
The diocesan Child Protection Policy can be read at the diocesan Web site, www.cathdoy.org.

Abuse victims to stage Dublin solidarity march

Irish Times
Abuse victims to stage Dublin solidarity march
Wed, Jun 10, 2009
Victims of child abuse in church-run institutions will today hand over a petition to the head of the Conference of Religious of Ireland.
After a silent march through Dublin children’s shoes will be left at the Dáil gates and white ribbons will be tied on the railings outside Leinster House as a mark of respect for those who suffered clerical abuse.
Christian Brother Kevin Mullan and at least one representative from other orders named in the damning Ryan report have accepted invitations to attend.
This morning Archbishop of Dublin, Diarmuid Martin, said he would be unable to attend the march as he is currently debating the Ryan report at the Bishop’s Meeting in Maynooth. He will send a representative to the march instead.
The organisers of the march Christine Buckley, from the Aislinn Centre, John Kelly, Survivors of Child Abuse in Ireland, Noel Barry of Right of Place and former Fianna Fáil Mayor of Clonmel Michael O’Brien will lay wreaths, two black and two white, outside the Dáil.
The demonstration begins at the Garden of Remembrance at noon, travels down O’Connell Street and over to Kildare Street.
Organisers urged people to attend and said those who wish to show solidarity should wear a white ribbon and sign and post the Petition of Solidarity, available on the SOIAI website www.irishsolidarity.com.
This morning Ms Buckley called for a trust fund to be established to aid the victims of clerical child abuse.
Ms Buckley also called for every case awarded under the State redress scheme for former residents to be revisited.
Speaking on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland Ms Buckely said: “The whole idea of the redress board was another form of institutional abuse.”
“It’s silent, it’s behind closed doors and it’s punishment if you reveal your award.”
“The monies that people got there were utterly and truly appalling and it really is in line with what the religious thought of us.”
© 2009 irishtimes.com

Abuse debate delayed

Independent.ie
Abuse victims 'furious' as Dail debate is pushed back
By John Cooney Wednesday June 10 2009
SURVIVORS' groups have slammed politicians for postponing a Dail debate on the Ryan Report into institutional child abuse to make room for a no confidence motion on the Government.
Christine Buckley, founder of the Aislinn support centre, said she was furious that the debate had been delayed and said it overturned a commitment given to survivors at a meeting with Taoiseach Brian Cowen last week that the Ryan Report would be given priority attention by the Dail.
The controversy comes as Catholic bishops, meeting in Maynooth, are to finalise their first full-scale study of the Ryan Report with Archbishop Diarmuid Martin expected to announce their response at a news conference this afternoon.
Meanwhile, thousands of silent protesters will march to the Dail today in solidarity with the victims of abuse in religious-run institutions.
The protest had been planned to coincide with the Dail debate on the report's findings of systematic abuse of thousands of children in 216 institutions managed by 18 religious orders.
Ms Buckley said she was angry that the debate has now been postponed until tomorrow and Friday morning on account of Fine Gael's tabling of the no confidence motion, which will be voted on today.
She said the alteration in the schedule was another instance of the use of "power" by the political system against survivors.
The march will start at the Garden of Remembrance at midday and pass down O'Connell Street on its way to the Dail.
"We are asking everyone to wear a white ribbon and bring one child's shoe. We think it very symbolic as we were very young children when we entered these hell-holes and now we are, for the most part, broken adults," she explained.
Once at the Dail, survivors' groups will present a "petition of solidarity" to Sr Marianne O'Connor, the general secretary of Cori and Br Kevin Mullan of the Christian Brothers.
The petition reads: "We the people of Ireland join in solidarity and call for justice, accountability, restitution and repatriation for the unimaginable crimes committed against the children of our country by religious orders in 216 institutions."
The names of all of the institutions will be read out before 108 white balloons and 108 black balloons, representing the living and the dead abuse victims, are released.
All of the 18 religious orders involved in the abuse scandal have been invited to attend the demonstration.
Editorial comment and analysis
- John Cooney
©Independent.ie

Ex-priest accused of abuse to be extradited

http://www.seattlepi.com/national/1110ap_us_former_priest_extradition.html
Last updated June 9, 2009 6:56 p.m. PT
Ex-priest accused of abuse to be extradited to UK
THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
LOS ANGELES -- A Los Angeles judge has ruled that a former Catholic priest suspected of abusing altar boys in the United Kingdom can be extradited to face trial there.
James Robinson is accused of abusing four boys in the 1970s and '80s before and after he served as a priest in three parishes in Coventry and Birmingham, England.
Police issued an arrest warrant against the 71-year-old Robinson in August after he was tracked down by a BBC program and challenged in person by one of his accusers.
Robinson, who moved to California in 1985, was arrested in January in Duarte. A message was left Tuesday with Robinson's public defender.
The judge's ruling on Thursday gives Robinson 60 days to appeal.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Female bishop calls for reformed church

Irish Independent
By John Cooney
Monday June 08 2009
THE first Irish-born woman bishop since the fifth century has called on ordinary Catholics to work to transform the power structures of Church and State.
Bishop Bridget Mary Meehan said that old hierarchical structures needed to be broken down to prevent scandals, such as those revealed in the Ryan report, from ever happening again.
The female bishop was born in Rathdowney, Co Laois, but later emigrated to the United States with her parents.
A theology professor and author, she was one of eight women who defied the Vatican American Catholic Church authorities three years ago when they were ordained priests on a chartered ship near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
During a visit to Ireland last week, she said that the anger and sense of betrayal felt by people in the wake of the Ryan report "should be the catalysts of change".
"This is a time for radical change when the people can empower themselves and move away from a hierarchical clerical-led Church to the earlier and longer tradition of community partnership," added Bishop Meehan.
She spoke to the Irish Independent while on holiday in Ireland with her 84-year-old father John.
Brutal
"My dad, who grew up in the 1930s, often told stories of brutal beatings of boys in his school in Ballyroan."
Bishop Meehan visited St Peter's Church in Drogheda, Co Louth to pray for the victims of abuse in church-run institutions which the Ryan report has labelled as concentration camps.
She said a special prayer to St Brigid, whom she says was both a female priest and an abbess who worked in celibate partnership with St Conleth. Her prayer was an invitation to the women of Ireland to stand up in the present crisis to build a new Church.
"Ryan has nailed the corruption of Church and State in his finding that the abuse was systemic. I understand the outrage felt by the people," she said.
Although the Vatican has warned the movement that they excommunicated themselves when they were ordained, Bishop Meehan maintains that her ordination is "valid".
- John Cooney
©Independent.ie