Wednesday, June 30, 2010

UAVH – H.L. Mencken, Scopes Trial 06-29-1925, Homo NeanderthalensisUnderworld Amusements | Underworld Amusements

UAVH – H.L. Mencken, Scopes Trial 06-29-1925, Homo NeanderthalensisUnderworld Amusements Underworld Amusements

Welcome to the first installation of an ongoing series of reports on the Scopes Trial in Dayton Tennesee in 1925, exactly 85 years ago! The trial was the first in the US to be broadcast on the radio. Those recordings no longer exist, but we will be releasing a podcast every day that Mencken published an article in the Baltimore Sun. Relive the trial in real time through the words of one of America’s greatest and most prolific writers.

June 29th – Homo Neanderthalensis
July 9th – Sickening Doubts About Publicity
July 10th – Impossibility of Obtaining Fair Jury
July 11th – Trial as Religious Orgy
July 13th – Souls Need Reconversion Nightly
July 14th – Darrow’s Eloquent Appeal
July 15th – Law and Freedom
July 16th – Fair Trial Beyond Ken
July 17th – Malone the Victor
July 18th – Genesis Triumphant
July 20th – Tennessee in the Frying Pan
July 27th – Bryan
Sept. 14th* - Aftermath
*Will be released by July 30th.

The full text of the report at the end of the blog!

Cavan religious order to be sued by American victims of paedophile priest

Cavan religious order to be sued by American victims of paedophile priest
Ali Bracken, Crime Correspondent Sunday Tribune, Ireland

Brendan Smyth pictured during his time in the US
THE NORBertine order in Co Cavan that deceased paedophile priest Fr Brendan Smyth was attached to is facing a multi-million dollar lawsuit in the US as two of his victims are suing over the sexual abuse he inflicted.

An evidentiary hearing is now scheduled to be heard in Rhode Island Superior Court in relation to Smyth's sexual abuse of two children in the US.

Attorney Helen McGonigle and her childhood neighbour Jeff Thomas are attempting to sue the diocese of Rhode Island in Providence, the Norbertine order in Co Cavan and the overall Norbertine order for sexual abuse perpetrated by Smyth.

Judge Netti Vogel at Rhode Island Superior Court recently denied a motion to dismiss the case by the defendants on the basis of the statute of limitations and ruled that an evidentiary hearing be heard. "This hearing will be a mini-trial of sorts. Myself and Jeff will be required to testify about our experiences with Smyth," McGonigle told the Sunday Tribune.

"This is not about money. My sister's death, as a result of Smyth, had a dramatic impact on my life. This case is about truth, justice and forcing the church to do the right thing. Every step of the way the church has fought all of these legal cases. The church is attempting to defend an admitted and convicted paedophile."

Jeff Thomas was just seven years old in 1968 when Smyth began to abuse him in Rhode Island. Helen McGonigle was six years old when she was first assaulted by the priest in 1967. The abuse continued for three years.

McGonigle's family, of Irish descent, were members of Our Lady of Mercy Catholic church in East Greenwich, Rhode Island, and it was here that they came into contact with Smyth.

A master manipulator, he infiltrated her family's daily life. He also sexually abused her older sister Kathleen under the pretence of preparing her for the sacrament of penance. Kathleen and her brother Gerard both died from drug overdoses as a result of the abuse Smyth perpetrated against them. Her mother also spent time in a mental institution.

In 1994, Smyth was convicted of 17 counts of sexual abuse in a Belfast court. Three years later in Dublin, he pleaded guilty to another 74 counts of abuse. In 1997, Smyth died in prison.

June 27, 2010

Former Delhi Township religion teacher admits sex crimes

Former Delhi Township religion teacher admits sex crimes
By Kimball Perry •
A 51-year-old former religion teacher admitted Tuesday he had sex with a 14-year-old girl, crimes that could send Salvatore Magro to prison for 15 years.

Magro pleaded guilty to three counts of unlawful sexual conduct with a minor in exchange for prosecutors dropping three additional charges.

Magro and his wife took the then-14-year-old girl into their home last year after her mother was having trouble with her following surgery. Two weeks later, the wife told the teen to leave.

She returned home -- and Salvatore Magro went with her, convincing the teen’s mother to let him move in with them in their Delhi Township home until he found an apartment. The mother said she didn’t know her teen daughter was having sex with Magro.

Magro, who bought the girl a gold ring and told her they were married, admitted he had intercourse with the teen three times – April 9, May 9 and May 10 when the child was 15. Prosecutors said he had sex with her three other times when she was 14, but they dropped those charges as part of the plea deal.

After his arrest, Magro was freed under the condition he stay away from the teen. Hours later, though, he sent her e-mails asking her to run away with him and was arrested again.

Magro’s attorney, Jack Rubenstein, said Magro has undergone private professional evaluations of his mental status that will be discussed when Magro is sentenced Aug. 5. The case is before Hamilton County Common Pleas Court Judge John “Skip” West.

Because Magro has a relative who works for the Hamilton County Prosecutor’s Office, a special prosecutor – Daniel “Woody” Breyer, an assistant prosecutor in Clermont County – prosecuted the case.

Magro worked at a Downtown bank when arrested but he used to teach religion and social studies to elementary students at Delhi Township’s Our Lady of Victory school until 2008.

As a sex offender, Magro will have to report his address to authorities every six months for 25 years.

Clergy sex victims push new bishop for action

Clergy sex victims push new bishop for action

Alleged church probe into predator enters 8th month

But there’s no evidence that anything’s happening, says SNAP

Self help group knows of no one who’s been contacted about priest

Cleric impregnated vulnerable young woman & ignored their child

Suspended last fall, he is also accused of molesting a Quincy teenager

SNAP to Springfield’s new bishop: “Citizens, Catholics & victims deserve answers”

At “bare minimum,” organization says church should disclose priest’s whereabouts

Victims also want Paprocki to post on his website the names of all child molesting clerics

One week after he was installed as the new head of the Springfield Catholic diocese, clergy sex abuse victims are urging Bishop Thomas Paprocki to “take two immediate steps to better protect the vulnerable and heal the wounded.”

Leaders of a Chicago-based support group are writing to Paprocki, prodding him to
-- aggressively reach out to anyone with information about a predator priest, Fr. Henry V. Willenborg, who was ousted last fall, and
-- post all the names of central Illinois child molesting clerics on his diocesan website.

At sidewalk news conferences in St. Louis and Quincy, the group is also begging anyone who saw, suspected or suffered clergy sex crimes (especially Willenborg) to call police, get help, expose wrongdoers, protect others and start healing.

Last October, Willenborg was suspended from active ministry because of allegations that he molested a Quincy teenager years ago. At the time of his ouster, Willenborg was working at Our Lady of the Lake church in Ashland, Wisconsin (in the Superior Diocese). The move was prompted, in part, by a long, page one New York Times story which disclosed that Willenborg seduced a young devout Illinois Catholic woman, impregnated her twice, urged her to have an abortion once, then for more than two decades essentially ignored the boy he fathered. In the same article, another woman said that Willenborg had sexually abused her when she was in high school in Quincy. http://www.nytimes.com/2009/10/16/us/16priest.html

Despite immediate pledges by the church to investigate the accusations, SNAP sees no evidence that any such investigation has taken place or is taking place. SNAP wants Paprocki to use his considerable resources – church bulletins and websites and newspaper – to aggressively seek out others who saw, suspected or suffered any crimes by the cleric. The group also wants Paprocki to tell his flock where Willenborg is now living.

Since October, all of the relevant church officials have been silent about Willenborg’s whereabouts, status, and their supposed investigation. These include bishops in Wisconsin and Illinois, and Willenborg’s direct supervisors in a St. Louis-based religious order called the Franciscans. SNAP says it doesn’t know of a single person who’s been contacted by church officials about Willenborg, and hasn’t seen a single sign of any public outreach, like news releases, ads, letters to current or former church members or employees.

Such silence and inaction violates the US church abuse policy, which calls for sensitivity toward victims and openness in clergy sex cases, SNAP believes.

The SNAP events today are taking place outside the Franciscans’ headquarter in St. Louis and a college in Quincy where Willenborg worked. The group’s letter to Paprocki is being sent by fax and email. SNAP is sending a similar letter to Bishop Peter Christensen of the Superior Diocese, where Willenborg last worked.

SNAP also wants Paprocki to do what 24 other bishops have done, and post on his website, for the sake of public safety, the names, whereabouts and priestly status of child molesting clerics who are or have been in central Illinois.

According to a Boston-based independent research group called BishopAccountabilty.org, there are eight publicly accused Springfield diocesan child molesting clerics. One of them, Fr. Alvin Campbell, was in the news across the world last month because newly-released church records showed that Pope Benedict refused to defrock him even after Campbell was convicted of child sexual abuse.) http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/vaticancityandholysee/7787175/Pope-failed-to-defrock-priest-despite-being-asked-to-by-bishop.html

SNAP notes that the actual number of Springfield area pedophile priests is likely much higher because BishopAccountability.org lists only those clerics against whom allegations have been lodge in the public domain – in civil lawsuits, criminal prosecution or news accounts.

In 2002, Baltimore became the first US diocese to disclose names. A good current example is the Philadelphia archdiocese: http://archphila.org/protection/Updates/update_main.htm. Here is a list of all the dioceses that have disclosed names: http://www.bishop-accountability.org/AtAGlance/lists.htm

The Chicago archdiocese, where Paprocki is from, lists predators’ names on its website.

Oregon SNAP leader on US Supreme Court case

Oregon SNAP leader on US Supreme Court case

Statement by Jeannie Cratty of SNAP 781-775-0142

We’re here today to send a message to four individuals.

First, to the brave victim who has patiently and persistently sought justice for 8 years, and who won a crucial victory yesterday at the US Supreme Court. We admire your courage and your conviction. We are sad because of your suffering, but we applaud you for having the strength to come forward, take action, and help expose not just a predator priest but church officials who hid, protected and transferred that predator priest. We hope yesterday’s move by America’s highest court gives you some comfort and validation.

Second, to the person who saw, suspected or suffered crimes by Fr. Ronan. (We strongly suspect that you are out there. We doubt that Ronan molested only one kid in Oregon.) We beg you to speak up. Staying silent is tempting, but irresponsible. Kids are safer and institutions are healthier when those with information or suspicions about child sex crimes step forward. We urge you to tell police, prosecutors, therapists, civil attorneys, or a loved one. Please realize that doing nothing only works in the short term. In the long term, it’s better for you and for everyone involved if you help the truth surface.

(Even though Fr. Ronan is dead and can’t be prosecuted, it’s possible that others who broke the law - by destroying evidence, obstructing justice, threatening victims, endangering kids or some other offense – might still be charged and convicted.)

Third, to Portland Archbishop John Vlazny. We urge you to take responsibility for your flock. We urge you to aggressively reach out to others Ronan may have hurt, and offer them help. And we urge you to contact your boss, the Pope, and tell him to fight this suit, if he must, on the merits, not on the technicalities.

If the Pope thinks Ronan didn’t molest this boy, let the Pope make this case in court. But Catholic officials can’t have their cake and eat it too: they can’t profess compassion toward kids and victims, yet fight kids and victims in court like cold-hearted CEOs.

Archbishop Vlazny, since at least one child in the Portland archdiocese was apparently molested by this pedophile priest, you have a duty to seek out and help others. And you have a duty to help this one victim get the justice and closure and healing he is working so hard to get. Please tell your boss to stop playing legal hardball by exploiting every legal maneuver his lawyer can think of.

Finally, to the Pope. We implore you to live up to your promise to “do everything possible” to stop future abuse. One way to prevent child sex crimes is to expose and punish those who enable child sex crimes. That’s why this lawsuit should be allowed to proceed. Through the time-tested, open, and impartial US justice system, this victim should be given his “day in court” to show and prove which church officials recklessly or deliberately put children – in Illinois, in Oregon, and maybe other places – at risk, by keeping silent about or concealing Ronan’s crimes.

On the contrary, if the Pope’s lawyers succeed in stopping this lawsuit, future child sex crimes and cover ups will, in fact, essentially be encouraged. Church employees will once again learn the wrong lesson: that if you ignore or hide knowledge or suspicions of crimes against kids, your church will protect you, instead of protecting children.



Statement by Mark Serrano of SNAP

There’s so much more work to be done, but ever so slowly, the tenacity of courageous victims is beginning to shed light on deeply-buried church secrecy and complicity. This is another crucial step forward towards healthier public understanding of the depth of church corruption.

This court ruling and last week’s Belgian police raid should make every bishop in the world think twice about keeping clergy sex crimes hidden.

Martin Luther King once said “No lie lives forever.” This decision gives hope to hundreds of thousands of clergy sex abuse victims across the globe who know lies remain under wraps at the Vatican and will only be unearthed through persistent action by secular justice officials and systems.

We’re thrilled that this brave victim is closer to exposing which and how Catholic officials knowingly moved a dangerous predator priest, and we applaud him for preserving in his quest for truth.

It’s ironic that on the same day, the Pope tries to stifle open examination of church abuse cover ups while the US Supreme Court tries to enable open examination of church abuse cover ups.

Lawyer says client was abused by Quincy priest now on leave

Lawyer says client was abused by Quincy priest now on leave

By Jack Encarnacao
The Patriot Ledger
Posted Jun 30, 2010 @ 08:18 AM
QUINCY — A lawyer who has represented hundreds of victims of clergy sex abuse said he will file a civil court complaint on behalf of a man who says he was molested by a longtime Quincy priest who was recently placed on leave.

Mitchell Garabedian said his client, a 54-year-old man who grew up in Quincy and now lives in Dorchester, was abused by the Rev. F. Dominic Menna when he was an altar boy at St. Mary Church between 1963 and 1968.

Garabedian alleged that the Rev. Menna, 82, sexually molested his client “more than 25 times” in the church sacristy and in the woods next to a highway rest area after taking him on trips to an amusement park.

The Rev. Menna served at St. Mary’s from the time he was ordained in 1958 until 1968. He later served at parishes in Wakefield and Revere before returning in 2001 to St. Mary’s, where he was a senior priest in residence.

After learning of accusations that he sexually abused children decades ago, the Boston archdiocese announced June 13 that the Rev. Menna had been placed on paid administrative leave. Those allegations date back 50 years.

The Norfolk County district attorney’s office has said it will not investigate the Rev. Menna because the criminal statute of limitations has lapsed. The archdiocese notified prosecutors in a May 10 letter that more than one person claimed to have been abused by the Rev. Menna.

Spokeswoman Kelly Lynch said the archdiocese does not confirm whether specific people have made accusations against a priest or the status of those investigations.

“The archdiocese is committed to protecting the privacy of individuals who come forward,” she said.

Garabedian said recent media coverage of the Rev. Menna led his client to tell his story. He said the man began recovering repressed memories of the abuse last year.

Several longtime parishioners at St. Mary’s vigorously defended the Rev. Menna after the allegations became public, saying the accusations were untrue.

Garabedian, who has represented more than 750 victims of clergy sex abuse and won millions of dollars in settlements, said he plans to file a civil complaint in Norfolk Superior Court and is likely to pursue negligence claims.

“It’s another case of a person of religious authority taking advantage of a vulnerable child,” Garabedian said. “This child was raised to respect priests and was taught a priest could do no wrong. Father Menna would tell him, ‘God will be mad at you if you tell anybody.’”

Garabedian said the Rev. Menna would drive the alleged victim to Lincoln Park, a now-closed amusement park in Dartmouth, and, on the ride back, molest him in the woods next to a highway rest area.

Garabedian declined to make his client available for an interview.

Sacramento lawyer sues Catholic Church leaders for fraud in sex-abuse scandal

Sacramento lawyer sues Catholic Church leaders for fraud in sex-abuse scandal
By Jennifer Garza

Published: Wednesday, Jun. 30, 2010 - 12:00 am | Page 1B
A Sacramento attorney is trying an unusual tactic in the ongoing litigation over clergy sexual abuse: He is suing California Catholic Church leaders for fraud and negligence.

Joseph George has filed two suits claiming church leaders acted fraudulently by allowing priests to continue to serve after their alleged crimes were reported.

In the past, attorneys representing victims – including George – have sued for sexual misconduct or battery. The fraud suits are believed to be the first of their kind in the state.

George said the suits are based on the church not doing what the church leaders promised.

"These guys did what their church encouraged them to do – they reported the abuse and they were told that these priests were going to be removed. They weren't," said George. "They were duped."

George filed suit against the Archdiocese of Los Angeles last week. He also filed a suit alleging fraud in April in Fresno.

A judge there is expected to decide soon if the case can move forward. The Associated Press reports similar fraud cases have been filed in other states.

If the suits are successful, George believes they will open the doors for similar claims. The attorney said he has represented more than 70 victims alleging sexual abuse by Catholic priests in the past 20 years.

Church leaders said George's recent lawsuits are attempts to circumvent the state's statute of limitations law. The law stipulates that complaints must be filed by the victim's 26th birthday or within three years of the date of discovery, George said.

"This is a baseless and legally unmeritorious attempt to file otherwise time-barred sex abuse cases by engaging in lawyer sleight of hand," said James Sweeney, general counsel for the Catholic Diocese of Sacramento. Sweeney is also representing the Fresno Diocese. "There are still statute of limitations in fraud cases."

In the suit filed against the Los Angeles Diocese last week, a man said he told church authorities 16 years ago that he had been molested by a priest, the Rev. Jeffrey Newell. He said church leaders promised the priest would never work with kids again. The man who complained was shocked later to see the priest wearing his collar on MySpace, where he listed teenage boys as friends. He learned the priest was working in the diocese of Tijuana, Mexico.

Church officials told the AP that the priest was removed for "not complying with a treatment program for personal issues including obesity and alcohol" and engaging in "sexual misconduct with an adult."

Larry Levine, a professor specializing in torts at McGeorge School of Law, said fraud cases traditionally involve economic injury.

"I don't think it's frivolous, but it certainly is a creative legal theory," Levine said. "Courts are going to have to think about whether fraud encompasses that kind of harm."

© Copyright The Sacramento Bee. All rights reserved.

Sexual abuse by priests: Victims hopeful court hearings may be concluded within a year-and-a-half

Sexual abuse by priests: Victims hopeful court hearings may be concluded within a year-and-a-half
by Annaliza Borg
Malta Independent

The victims of sexual abuse by priests are hopeful that the court case against the alleged abusers will be concluded within a year-and-a-half as proceedings have gathered pace over the past months. Speaking to The Malta Independent late last week, Lawrence Grech, one of the victims, said the defence lawyers seemed to be trying to buy time, but the court is now making it clear there is no place for this. On 1 June, this newspaper quoted Mr Grech saying that the court has started to hear the case in weekly sessions rather than once every eight months. By then, the Curia Response Team, which is investigating the matter on behalf of the Church, had not interviewed the victims, though the case came to light some seven years ago.

The story was met with criticism from Joseph Sacco, registrar of the criminal courts and tribunals, who said in a letter (published on 10 June), that “from a perusal of the relevant court record it is clear that at no stage was there ever any eight-month interval or intervals between one sitting and another, not even during the periods when the presiding magistrate was seriously ill.

“Indeed, to date, more than 60 sittings have been held by the court, and simple arithmetic disproves the eight month interval assertion. Some of these sittings took several hours, and during other sittings the video-conferencing technique, which is necessarily more time-consuming than the ordinary procedure, was also used,” he said.

Yet when questioned on the matter, Mr Grech said that hearings used to be scheduled once every two or three months but were often put off (at times during two or three consecutive sessions), often because the defence lawyer could not make it. This meant that progress was registered every seven to eight months, he explained in consistency with what had been reported.

The letter had also referred to Mr Grech’s statement that it seemed “a good amount of pressure was exerted from some authority,” suggesting that this authority was the President of Malta, who had a meeting with the alleged victims of abuse before the Pope’s visit in April.

“Please be advised that at no stage was any contact made, much less any form of pressure exerted, by the President of Malta or his Office. In the instant case, as in all other cases, dates for sittings are determined by the court depending on, among other things, the nature of the case, how long it has been pending, and the myriad of other duties of the presiding magistrate or judge, as the case may be,” the letter said in conclusion.

TMI also asked Mr Grech for his views on whether the case should continue to be heard behind closed doors and whether he objected to the possibility of the case continuing in open court, for the media to be able to follow and relate developments to the public. He had no objection for this but was not sure whether the other victims, some of whose identity has not been revealed, approved. However, he pointed out that it had been defence lawyer, Giannella Caruana Curran who had requested the case to be heard behind closed doors and the request had been upheld ever since.

Meanwhile, the Vatican’s Promoter of Justice in the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Mgr Charles Scicluna, started to meet the victims in a series of separate meetings last week. A notary was in attendance to log evidence, and more meetings were planned for this week.

Mr Grech described these meetings, as “very interesting,” noting “we felt free to talk”. It was clear that Mgr. Scicluna had carried out his research very well as he was fully aware of details, he said.

“He even knew where my bedroom had been, as if he had been residing with us,” Mr Grech said.

The Curia Response Team is also meeting the victims. Although at first they had no faith in such meetings, Mgr Scicluna pointed out their importance to the victims, for the Church’s proceedings to be concluded.

“We had started to lose hope,” Mr Grech said, while expressing his renewed trust because Mgr Scicluna “knows what he is doing”. The group of men have started to feel positive again that justice will finally be done and more victims are coming out.

2 more men claim abuse by St. Paul priest

2 more men claim abuse by St. Paul priest
Archdiocese denies that it covered up reports about misbehavior.

By JEFF STRICKLER, Star Tribune

Last update: June 29, 2010 - 7:41 PM
Two more men alleging that they were sexually abused by a Twin Cities priest filed suits against the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis Tuesday, claiming that the church endangered them by concealing reports about the priest's behavior.

BACKGROUND: St. Paul lawyer Patrick Noaker, part of the law firm Jeff Anderson & Associates that specializes in abuse cases, filed the suits on behalf of two Minnesotans who contacted him after he filed suits for four other alleged victims in March. All the suits concern the Rev. Thomas Stitts and charge that the archdiocese knew of abuse complaints against him in the late 1960s and early '70s but did nothing to prevent further violations. Stitts died in 1985.

REBUTTAL: The archdiocese denied "the allegations of misrepresentation and fraud," as it also did with the earlier suits.

SPECIFICS: The men filing the new suits did so anonymously. The abuse charges date from 1967 to 1973 when the victims were 9 to 11 years old.

One alleges that he was molested by Stitts at Guardian Angels Catholic Church in Hastings, where Stitts served from 1966 to 1970. According to Noaker, the victim reported the abuse to church officials but "was coerced into keeping quiet. As a result, he was again sexually abused by Stitts on at least one additional occasion."

In 1970, Stitts transferred for three months to Blessed Sacrament Church in St. Paul and then moved to the Church of St. Leo's in St. Paul, where the second victim alleges his molestation occurred.

"The sexual abuse at St. Leo's could have been and should have been avoided," Noaker said. The four suits filed in March all concern Stitts' tenure at St. Leo's.

FALLOUT: Noaker said the new cases "add to the growing mountain of evidence that this archdiocese has not been honest with this community." He also said that "witnesses and other survivors" of Stitts have come forward, and that some of them will be filing suits, too. He would not say how many more there might be.

Former Superior diocese priest accused of rape

Published June 30 2010
Former Superior diocese priest accused of rape
Paul Eck said he thought his priest, the Rev. Tom Ericksen, was doing him a favor in 1983 when Eck was 17 and coming back from a high school homecoming party.
By: Brandon Stahl, Duluth News Tribune

Paul Eck said he thought his priest, the Rev. Tom Ericksen, was doing him a favor in 1983 when Eck was 17 and coming back from a high school homecoming party.

About a year earlier, Ericksen had taken over as minister for St. Peter’s Catholic Church in Winter, Wis., about 100 miles southeast of Superior and a part of the Superior diocese. The priest and Eck had developed a friendship, Eck said, and Ericksen often let the high schooler borrow his car.

Eck was drunk when he brought the car back that night, he said, and Ericksen told him that rather than go home and face his parents, he could sleep it off in his spare bedroom.

That night, Eck said, Ericksen raped him.

A month later, Eck said, Ericksen was caught assaulting two boys in a rectory. One of the boys, James Eck, was Paul’s nephew.

Court records provided by Paul Eck show that Ericksen and the Superior diocese settled a lawsuit with Paul and James Eck for nearly $3 million in 1989. The year before, Ericksen was officially removed from the priesthood, according to the Superior diocese.

But Ericksen was never criminally charged with molestation, nor was he ever identified as a sex offender.

The Ecks want that to change. They are coming forward to talk about the alleged assault and demand that Wisconsin authorities extradite Ericksen back to the state to face criminal charges.

“This is not about money,” said Paul Eck, who is now a truck driver still living in Winter. “I want to see him in court answering to this, and I want to see him behind bars.”

No word from District attorney

It’s unclear whether Wisconsin has the right to prosecute Ericksen. While the statute of limitations has expired for sexual assault, there is an exception if the alleged perpetrator moved out of the state.

“It stops the clock,” said Kevin St. John, a spokesman for the Wisconsin Attorney General’s Office.

Ericksen moved from Wisconsin to Minnesota in 1983, according to his MySpace page.

However, the Wisconsin Supreme Court is considering an appeal by a Jesuit priest who was convicted in 2006 of assaulting two teenagers in the late 1960s.

Sawyer County District Attorney Thomas Van Roy, the person who would make the decision about charging Ericksen, refused to comment this week to the News Tribune. An assistant at the office said Van Roy’s policy is never to speak to the media.

Paul Eck said he has e-mailed the Sawyer County District Attorney’s Office three times since the beginning of the year but has yet to get a response. Still, he remains undeterred.

“He needs to be taken off the streets because he’s a pedophile,” Paul Eck said of Ericksen. “I guarantee you that there are people before and after me that have been molested. This is not all of a sudden something you do in a short amount of time.”

James Eck said he was 8 or 9 when Ericksen started touching him sexually. It happened at least a dozen times, maybe more, he said, starting almost immediately after Ericksen took over at the church.

“He made you feel like it was supposed to be that way,” said James Eck, who now lives in Kaukauna, Wis., and works as a prison corrections officer. “When someone like that is doing it, you trust them. At that age, you don’t know any better.”

Ex-priest describes himself

When contacted by the News Tribune, Ericksen initially said he had no comment.

“That’s all been taken care of in the courts,” he said.

When told about the Ecks’ demand for extradition, Ericksen responded, “I thought that was all settled.”

When asked if he admitted or denied the accusations, “I have no comment.”

“I thought it was all settled,” he said. “It was 30 years ago, for Pete’s sake.”

Asked again if he denied the accusations, Ericksen said, “Yes.”

Ericksen has posted detailed biographies of himself on the social and professional networking sites MySpace and LinkedIn, listing his e-mail address and MySpace handle as “saint_tom.”

He lists himself as a graduate of St. Francis Seminary and a “Holy Reverend Priest of God” from 1973 to 1983, the same year Paul Eck alleges he was molested.

Ericksen writes that he moved to Minneapolis and worked at AT&T as a customer service specialist for 20 years before relocating to Kansas City, where he lists himself as working for the Census.

Ericksen’s resumes indicate that he has been a member of AT&T’s gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender employee association; that he was a hospital chaplain at Holy Cross Hospital in Merrill, Wis., a former board member for a group called “Lutherans Concerned,” a member of the Games Management Team at the Special Olympics, and a secretary/board member for the Sons of Norway.

Though the Superior diocese was listed as a defendant in the lawsuits the Ecks filed and settled in 1989, the bishop of the diocese at the time, Raphael Fliss, said he remembers only Ericksen’s name and nothing about the settlement.

“I didn’t have much dealing with him,” Fliss said. “That was so long ago.”

He declined further comment.

Current Bishop of the Diocese of Superior Peter Christiansen said in a statement that he has “no personal knowledge of the events that took place 20 years ago. I also have no current information concerning Tom Erickson [sic].”

Without treatment, the chance that a child molester will reoffend is at least 50 percent, said A.W. Richard Sipe, a psychotherapist and former monk who has written several books about clergy sexual issues and studied hundreds of cases dealing with mental health problems of priests.

“It’s almost hard-wired in them,” he said. “You won’t find an expert who will say it’s curable. … It’s like real alcoholism. It’s controllable but not curable.”

Christensen said that, because of the terms of the settlement, he is prohibited from discussing the case.

Ericksen is the eighth Superior diocese priest publicly accused of inappropriate or illegal sexual conduct. Previously accused, according to the website Bishop-Accountability.org, are Edward F. Beutner, Ryan Erickson, Irving Klister, David Malsch, Robert Urban and Henry Willenborg.

Vatican promotes controversial Quebec Cardinal Marc Ouellet in shuffle

Published June 30, 2010
NATIONAL NEWS

Vatican promotes controversial Quebec Cardinal Marc Ouellet in shuffle
The Canadian Press

VATICAN CITY - The Vatican has promoted Canada's highest-ranking Catholic priest despite recent controversy over his response to the church sex-abuse scandal.

Quebec Cardinal Marc Ouellet has been named chief of the Vatican's powerful Congregations for Bishops, which vets bishop appointments around the world.

Sixty-six year old Ouellet is the Archbishop of Quebec and the Roman Catholic Primate of Canada, the church's top official in the country.

Earlier this month, a victims' group said Ouellet had refused to apologize for crimes committed within the church.

The L'Association des Victimes de Pretres, a group that helps victims of sexually abusive priests in Quebec, had said Ouellet's then-rumoured promotion would be unmerited.

Ouellet succeeds 76-year-old Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re, who has retired after nearly a decade in the post.

Ouellet's promotion is part of a shuffle of the Vatican's top positions in what is being seen as an acknowledgment that efforts to reinvigorate Christianity in Europe need a boost.

The announcement also says Monsignor Rino Fisichella has been tapped to head a new Vatican office to fight secularization and re-evangelize the West. Fisichella has been head of the Pontifical Academy for Life, the Vatican’s top bioethics official.

Ouellet was recently at the centre of controversy over comments he made about abortion being an unjustifiable moral crime, even in rape cases.

The remark was criticized by feminist groups and various politicians in Ottawa and Quebec.

- With files from The Associated Press.



© Copyright 2010, Estevan Lifestyles

The Fall of the Belgian Church

The Fall of the Belgian Church
Brussels Journal
From the desk of Alexandra Colen on Thu, 2010-06-24 23:26
In Belgium, today, police searched the residence of the Archbishop of Mechelen-Brussels and the crypt of the Archbishop’s cathedral in Mechelen. They were looking for evidence of cover-ups in the ongoing investigation into widespread pedophilia practices within the Belgian church in the decades during which Cardinal Godfried Danneels was Archbishop. Danneels retired in January of this year.
Police also confiscated 450 files containing reports of pedophile offences by members of the clergy, that had been submitted to an investigation committee which was established within the church to deal with pedophilia cases.
Since the revelation in April that Cardinal Danneels’s close friend and collaborator, Mgr Roger Vangheluwe, the Bishop of Bruges, had been a practicing pedophile throughout, and even before, his career as a bishop, victims have gained confidence that they will be taken seriously, and complaints have been pouring in, both to the courts and to the extra-judicial investigation committee of the archdiocese. The new archbishop Mgr. André-Joseph Léonard, has urged victims to take their case to the courts.
His predecessor, the liberal Cardinal Danneels, who was very popular with the press in Belgium and abroad, was Archbishop of Mechelen-Brussels and Primate of Belgium from 1979 until 2010. The sympathy for pedophile attitudes and arguments among the Belgian bishops during this period was no secret, especially since 1997 when the fierce controversy about the catechism textbook Roeach made the headlines. The editors of Roeach were Prof. Jef Bulckens of the Catholic University of Leuven and Prof. Frans Lefevre of the Seminary of Bruges. The textbook contained a drawing which showed a naked baby girl saying: “Stroking my pussy makes me feel groovy,” “I like to take my knickers off with friends,” “I want to be in the room when mum and dad have sex.” The drawing also shows a naked little boy and girl that are “playing doctor” and the little boy says: “Look, my willy is big.”

The drawing also showed three pairs of parents. Those with the “correct” attitude reply: “Yes, feeling and stroking those little places is good fun.” This “catechism textbook” was used in the catechism lessons in the catholic schools, until one day I discovered it among the schoolbooks of my eldest daughter, then 13 years old. On 3 September 1997 I wrote a letter to Cardinal Danneels, saying:
“When I see this drawing and its message, I get the distinct impression that this catechism textbook is designed intentionally to make 13 and 14 year olds believe that toddlers enjoy genital stimulation. In this way one breeds pedophiles that sincerely believe that children actually think that what they are doing to them is ‘groovy’, while the opposite is the case.”
I told Cardinal Danneels that, although I was a member of Parliament for the Flemish-secessionist party Vlaams Blok, I was addressing him as a Catholic parent “who wishes to remain faithful to the papal authority and also wishes to educate her children this way.” I insisted that he forbid the use of this book in the catechism lessons: “This is why I insist – yes, the days of meekly asking are over – that you forbid the use of this ‘catechism book’ in our children’s classrooms.”
Today this case, that dates from 12 years ago, assumes a new and ominous significance. Especially now that I know that Mgr Roger Vangheluwe, the pedophile child molesting Bishop of Bruges, was the supervising bishop of both institutions – the Catholic University of Leuven and the Seminary of Bruges – whence came the editors in chief of this perverted “catechism” textbook.
Monsignor Vangheluwe not only entertained pedophile ideas, but also practiced them on his 11-year old nephew. Hundreds of children who were not raped physically were molested spiritually during the catechism lessons.
After I started my campaign against the Roeach textbook, many parents contacted me to voice their concerns. Stories of other practices in the Catholic education system poured in. There were schools where children were taught to put condoms over artificial penises and where they had to watch videos showing techniques of masturbation and copulation.
Because Cardinal Danneels refused to respond to requests to put an end to these practices, I and hundreds of concerned parents gathered in front of his palace on 15 October 1997. We carried placards with the text “Respect for parents and children,” and we said the rosary. Cardinal Danneels refused to receive a delegation of the demonstrators. “I shall not be pressured,” he said in the libertine magazine Humo on 21 October 1997. The Archbishop’s door remained closed when we demonstrated again on 10 December 1997.
When we demonstrated at the palace of the Bishop of Antwerp on 19 November 1997, Mgr Paul Van den Berghe received a delegation of mothers that included a local councilor from the Christian-Democrat party and myself. Mgr Van den Berghe, who was the Episcopal supervisor for education, listened to the mothers, wept and promised to investigate the practices in the sex education and catechism lessons. He also announced this intention in a declaration to the press.
He must have been reprimanded by his colleagues, because on 24 November, after a meeting of the Bishops’ Conference, in a press release to the press agency Belga, the Bishop of Antwerp announced that, in spite of his promise, there would be no investigation. Today we know that one of the colleagues present at the Conference was the child molester Vangheluwe, which makes that incident, too, very unsavory indeed.
On 18 February 1998 we were at Cardinal Danneels’s door again, myself and a group of parents. Again the door remained closed. So on 18 March 1998 a group of two hundred parents went to the Papal Nuncio, the ambassador of the Vatican, in Brussels. But the Nuncio, who was a friend of Danneels, also refused to meet us. He had, however, alerted the police, who had several water cannons at the ready just around the corner.
Meanwhile Danneels’s friends in the press started a campaign against me. “Colen continues to pester the bishops,” was the headline in Gazet van Antwerpen. One evening Toon Osaer, Danneels’s spokesman at the time, phoned me to tell me that as a Catholic I had to “be obedient” to the bishops. In Humo Danneels insinuated that I was “conducting my election campaign.”
On 5 January 1998 the daily newspaper Het Volk interviewed Patrick Vanhaelemeesch, a catechism teacher in the diocese of Bruges and one of the co-authors of Roeach. He gave some details about the illustration concerning masturbating toddlers in the catechism book. He said that the illustration was intended to convey the message that “toddlers experience sexual lust.” Vanhaelemeesch revealed that the committee of bishops had mentioned this illustration in an evaluation report of the catechism book. The report stated: “The presentation of the sexual-pedagogical attitudes is rendered ridiculous in the eyes of the pupils by the text balloons.” According to Vanhaelemeesch this criticism “indicates that the bishops had no objections at all to the message conveyed [i.e. toddlers experience sexual lust], but feared that the pupils would not take it seriously.”
When I had exhausted all possibilities and it was clear that the Belgian church did not want to hear the parents, I decided to sever all ties with the Catholic education system. I took my five children out of school and set up a homeschool together with other parents, so our children would be educated in a Catholic environment.
I sent a letter to all the cardinals in the world to inform them about the contents of the Roeach textbook. “Please be assured that this Dicastery will give your report all due consideration, answered Mgr. Clemens, Cardinal Ratzinger’s personal secretary, for the Congregation of the Faith in Rome; Cardinal Gagnon from Rome appreciated “the just battle which you are conducting”; “The matter which you raised is very important,” wrote Cardinal Arinze from Rome.
I received letters of support from cardinals from all parts of the globe. “I share your concern. It is important that you do not leave the matter uncontested,” wrote Cardinal Meisner of Cologne; “You have good reasons to be concerned,” wrote Cardinal Wamala of Uganda; “I feel strongly enough to write to Cardinal Danneels in the hope that he may enlighten me,” wrote Cardinal Vidal of the Philippines; “If I have the opportunity to discuss with Cardinal Danneels the matter you have drawn to my attention, I will do so,” wrote Cardinal Williams of New Zealand; “I shall try to do something in order to help you,” wrote Cardinal Lopez Rodriguez of Santo Domingo; “I am aware that your concerns have been brought to the attention of Cardinal Laghi, Prefect for the Congregation for Catholic Education,” wrote Cardinal O’Connor of New York.
On 27 February 2010 the daily newspaper De Standaard wrote that these letters “enhanced Rome’s perception of the weak church leadership in Belgium.” Hence, the liberal Danneels was replaced by Mgr Léonard. Rome hopes that he will be able to restore the church in Belgium. I share this hope. However, it is a pity that it has taken so long. The damage that has been done is greater than anyone could have imagined.

Dr. Alexandra Colen MP is a member of the Belgian House of Representatives.

Name and shame abusive priests

Name and shame abusive priests

The Standard, Nairobi
Updated 14 hr(s) 53 min(s) ago
Reports in the media of how a Standard Seven pupil was allegedly lured and raped by a Catholic priest in Nyamira are shocking.
It is shameful that a man of God, who has sworn to celibacy, can orchestrate such a beastly act and take advantage of a poor family.

What still remains a mystery is why Church officials in Kisii would hurriedly transfer the priest and promise an investigation that never was.

Through the years, the Church has been seen as a safe haven for widows and orphans. However, incidents like this raise doubts on just how true that assumption is.

The trust and confidence the public has long had in the Church is waning fast and it is time guilty priests were named and shamed.

The New Clericalism III: Scandal in Belgium

The New Clericalism III: Scandal in Belgium
June 26th, 2010 · 1 Comment
The news is percolating through the media about the raid conducted by Belgian police in the Diocese of Mechlen-Brussels on the episcopal palace while the monthly Bishops meeting was in session:

Belgian authorities on Thursday heightened pressure on the Roman Catholic Church in a sexual abuse scandal, raiding the Belgian church headquarters, the home of a cardinal and the offices of a commission established by the church to handle abuse complaints.


Police officers arrived at the church headquarters, the palace of the archbishop of Mechelen-Brussels, on Thursday morning while the monthly bishops meeting was in progress, a church spokesman said. The police questioned all of those present, from bishops to staff members like cooks and drivers.
A raid was also conducted on the home of retired Cardinal Danneels, police confiscated his computer. Not to be criticized for lacking thoroughness, the police drilled holes into the tombs of deceased Cardinal Suenens and his predecessor Jozef-Ernest van Roey to look for any secreted and potentially incriminating documents in their graves using fiber optic cameras. Spokesmen from the Vatican and the Belgian Archdiocese protested these search methods.
Archbishop Andre-Joseph Leonard, Belgium’s current archbishop, condemned the raids, calling it the purview of “crime novels” and “The Da Vinci Code.”
Really, you can’t make this stuff up.


Again the “pedophilia” scandal among Catholic priests rears its ugly head: this search follows in the wake of the resignation in April of Roger Vangeheluwe, Bishop of Bruges, following an admission of child sex abuse. His replacement, Bishop Jozef De Kesel was announced by Vatican sources yesterday.


It would appear the Church’s own worst enemies are well placed in the higher echelon of the hierarchy, now involving the Cardinal of Brussels whose resume cites co-authorship of the Constitution Sacrosanctum Concilium, the Vatican II document which served the impetus for revision of the liturgy resulting in the current state of liturgical affairs.


What other publication is on the Cardinal’s resume? Oh yes, the Belgian catechism textbook Roeach: while not an author himself, the Cardinal certainly played a role in its dissemination among Catholic Belgium. Credit for the actual authorship goes naturally to Catholic professors in a Catholic University and a Seminary in Belgium; Prof. Jef Bulckens of the Catholic University of Leuven and Prof. Frans Lefevre of the Seminary of Bruges.


This “catechism”, little more than a training manual for young pedophiles-to-be, contains naked drawings of toddlers saying sexually explicit things, the intent of the book being to get children to regard this behavior as “normal”.


An article in The Brussels Journal highlights the struggle of the laity against Cardinal Danneels when they protested the use of this perverted book on the minds of their children. The Cardinal, exercising his Bishop’s authority refused to hear the protests of families even attacking one politically involved parent (an MP for the Flemish secessionist party Vlaams Belang) in the press:
Meanwhile Danneels’s friends in the press started a campaign against me. “Colen continues to pester the bishops,” was the headline in Gazet van Antwerpen. One evening Toon Osaer, Danneels’s spokesman at the time, phoned me to tell me that as a Catholic I had to “be obedient” to the bishops. In Humo Danneels insinuated that I was “conducting my election campaign.”
The article goes on to say:


On 5 January 1998 the daily newspaper Het Volk interviewed Patrick Vanhaelemeesch, a catechism teacher in the diocese of Bruges and one of the co-authors of Roeach. He gave some details about the illustration concerning masturbating toddlers in the catechism book. He said that the illustration was intended to convey the message that “toddlers experience sexual lust.” Vanhaelemeesch revealed that the committee of bishops had mentioned this illustration in an evaluation report of the catechism book. The report stated: “The presentation of the sexual-pedagogical attitudes is rendered ridiculous in the eyes of the pupils by the text balloons.” According to Vanhaelemeesch this criticism “indicates that the bishops had no objections at all to the message conveyed [i.e. toddlers experience sexual lust], but feared that the pupils would not take it seriously.” (emphasis mine)
Read the article if you can stomach it, but the general impression one gets is that but for the voice of the laity, the clericals would continue to get away with these things – reference again the active lay protests against the Catholic Campaign For Human Development and its funding of pro-abortion and anti-family community organizing groups.


But the problem is even deeper: the abuse of power, telling a lay woman to “be obedient to the Bishops” in the face of a scandalous catechism depicting toddlers masturbating, betrays an actual contemptuous attitude among many in the Episcopacy for the laity: The old feudal hierarchical structure that refuses to die after Vatican II continues to exert its muscle on the faithful in the pews.


The recent revelations of Cardinal Danneels’ involvement with the disgraced former Bishop of Bruges and his sexual abuse scandal, as well as the scandal surrounding the textbook, Roeach, bring the mind to bear on the authorship of certain of the Vatican II documents. Given the intent of sexual desensitization promoted by the Cardinal of Brussels during his tenure using that textbook, does this perverse sensibility also disguise itself in the paragraphs of Sacrosanctum Concilium?


Does the liturgical devastation of the past 40 years in the Church owe much to the mind of Cardinal Daaneels and those whom he has mentored and influenced?


We have seen it now in Brussells, in Milwaukee with Archbishop Weakland, in Chicago with Cardinal Bernardin, in Los Angeles with Cardinal Mahony, in Boston with Cardinal Law, the rogues gallery of Episcopal malfeasance and abuse of power grows with each revelation of priestly sex abuse and one begins to see a pattern here, one of infiltration at the highest levels with the intent to undermine established Catholic faith and morals from the Bishop’s Chair itself.


This consipracy of infiltration and undermining had in recent past been dismissed as a speculation of disgruntled cranks pining for the old Tridentine Mass, but since Lent 2010 and the exposure of yet more high ranking clerics in the sex abuse scandal, it seems these cranky Catholics were correct in substance if not in form. For the past 50 years a cohort of ordained has moved up the ranks, positioning itself to take the Church into a direction more Antichristic than Catholic and this movement lead by not a few Cardinals has resulted in a schism which as yet the Apostolic See has yet to declare. Perhaps the Holy Father is wise to allow these rogue Bishops to retire and be replaced by orthodox Bishops, but the schism is there and has been there since the papacy of Paul VI, when the windows thrown open to the light by Vatican II instead opened fissures for the entry of the Smoke of Satan.


The supposed schism of the SSPX is a diversion from the real schism which has been going unnoticed, but suspected for the past 50 years, were it not for the SSPX, the nucleus from which to rebuild the Church in these times of growing persecution would not exist and persons like Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre and the Abbe de Nantes are among the real saints of the 20th century.

Danneels approved pedophilic catechism?

Danneels approved pedophilic catechism?
Monday June 28, 2010
Categories: Religion
That is the shocking allegation by Alexandra Colen, an orthodox Belgian Catholic, who details her long fight with Cardinal Danneels and the Belgian Catholic hierarchy (including the pedophile recently retired bishop Vangheluwe) over a pedophilic sex-ed book approved for Belgium's Catholic schools. Excerpt:

His predecessor, the liberal Cardinal Danneels, who was very popular with the press in Belgium and abroad, was Archbishop of Mechelen-Brussels and Primate of Belgium from 1979 until 2010. The sympathy for pedophile attitudes and arguments among the Belgian bishops during this period was no secret, especially since 1997 when the fierce controversy about the catechism textbook Roeach made the headlines. The editors of Roeach were Prof. Jef Bulckens of the Catholic University of Leuven and Prof. Frans Lefevre of the Seminary of Bruges. The textbook contained a drawing which showed a naked baby girl saying: "Stroking my p**sy makes me feel groovy," "I like to take my knickers off with friends," "I want to be in the room when mum and dad have sex." The drawing also shows a naked little boy and girl that are "playing doctor" and the little boy says: "Look, my willy is big."
The drawing also showed three pairs of parents. Those with the "correct" attitude reply: "Yes, feeling and stroking those little places is good fun." This "catechism textbook" was used in the catechism lessons in the catholic schools, until one day I discovered it among the schoolbooks of my eldest daughter, then 13 years old. On 3 September 1997 I wrote a letter to Cardinal Danneels, saying:

"When I see this drawing and its message, I get the distinct impression that this catechism textbook is designed intentionally to make 13 and 14 year olds believe that toddlers enjoy genital stimulation. In this way one breeds pedophiles that sincerely believe that children actually think that what they are doing to them is 'groovy', while the opposite is the case."

I told Cardinal Danneels that, although I was a member of Parliament for the Flemish-secessionist party Vlaams Blok, I was addressing him as a Catholic parent "who wishes to remain faithful to the papal authority and also wishes to educate her children this way." I insisted that he forbid the use of this book in the catechism lessons: "This is why I insist - yes, the days of meekly asking are over - that you forbid the use of this 'catechism book' in our children's classrooms."

Today this case, that dates from 12 years ago, assumes a new and ominous significance. Especially now that I know that Mgr Roger Vangheluwe, the pedophile child molesting Bishop of Bruges, was the supervising bishop of both institutions - the Catholic University of Leuven and the Seminary of Bruges - whence came the editors in chief of this perverted "catechism" textbook.


More:


After I started my campaign against the Roeach textbook, many parents contacted me to voice their concerns. Stories of other practices in the Catholic education system poured in. There were schools where children were taught to put condoms over artificial penises and where they had to watch videos showing techniques of masturbation and copulation.
Because Cardinal Danneels refused to respond to requests to put an end to these practices, I and hundreds of concerned parents gathered in front of his palace on 15 October 1997. We carried placards with the text "Respect for parents and children," and we said the rosary. Cardinal Danneels refused to receive a delegation of the demonstrators. "I shall not be pressured," he said in the libertine magazine Humo on 21 October 1997. The Archbishop's door remained closed when we demonstrated again on 10 December 1997.

... On 18 February 1998 we were at Cardinal Danneels's door again, myself and a group of parents. Again the door remained closed. So on 18 March 1998 a group of two hundred parents went to the Papal Nuncio, the ambassador of the Vatican, in Brussels. But the Nuncio, who was a friend of Danneels, also refused to meet us. He had, however, alerted the police, who had several water cannons at the ready just around the corner.

Meanwhile Danneels's friends in the press started a campaign against me. "Colen continues to pester the bishops," was the headline in Gazet van Antwerpen. One evening Toon Osaer, Danneels's spokesman at the time, phoned me to tell me that as a Catholic I had to "be obedient" to the bishops.


If this is true, then it certainly puts the Belgian police raid into context, does it not? And it also puts Benedict's response into context -- one that is not flattering to the Holy Father.

I am reminded of a Dutch Catholic mother I met eight years ago after mass in suburban Amsterdam. She told me about having volunteered to teach catechism to Catholic schoolchildren, and being sent to a diocesan training seminar for lay teachers. What she and the others got was just bizarrely heretical. She protested to the bishop, and got absolutely nowhere. In some parts of this world, lay Catholics who wish to be faithful to the Church's teachings really are on their own.



Read more: http://blog.beliefnet.com/roddreher/2010/06/danneels-approved-pedophilic-catechism.html#ixzz0sKT1K1Sv

St. Paul attorney Jeff Anderson scores biggest win in 25-year accountability campaign on clergy sex abuse

St. Paul attorney Jeff Anderson scores biggest win in 25-year accountability campaign on clergy sex abuse

By Beth Hawkins Minn.Post | Tuesday, June 29, 2010
Jeff AndersonSt. Paul attorney Jeff Anderson just scored the biggest win to date in his quarter-century campaign to hold the highest reaches of the Catholic Church responsible for sexual abuse by clergy.

The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday declined to hear an appeal by the Vatican of a federal appeal court decision (PDF) that it is not immune from liability in a case Anderson has been pursuing for eight years.

"Today's action by the justices is an answer to the prayers of literally thousands of survivors of sexual abuse who finally have a real shot at obtaining justice, and the truth, about the complicity of Vatican leaders in covering up the criminal acts of Catholic priests against innocent children," Anderson said Monday in a statement. "Finally, we have achieved a chance for justice, accountability and healing."






A string of court victories
For Anderson, long derided as a gadfly on a crusade to bring down the Catholic Church, it's the latest in a string of victories that started in March with the release of documents in a Wisconsin case that revealed that Benedict XVI as a Vatican official before becoming pope had intervened in an investigation of a priest accused of molesting some 200 pupils at a Milwaukee school for the deaf.

In the wake of that revelation, Anderson, who has made a practice of looking for new legal theories to test, filed a second suit against the Vatican, sparking a flurry of headlines around the world. U.S. attorneys for the Vatican accused Anderson of grandstanding, noting that all past cases filed against the Holy See in this country had been thrown out.

The Supreme Court decision comes at a time when Vatican officials are on the defensive about their handling of an 8-year-old sex abuse scandal. Several European bishops have been forced to resign, and U.S. bishops are watching closely as lawsuits holding them responsible for covering up abuses begin to move through the court system.

Vatican attorneys have long argued that as a sovereign state, the Holy See cannot be sued for sexual abuses in this country.

Anderson, who has filed literally thousands of cases against clergy and church officials over the last 25 years, disagreed. Because the alleged abuses were committed by clergy acting within their duties, the current case qualified for an exception to the immunity law that holds governments responsible when they are employers, the lower court had said.

A professor who teaches international law and international human rights law at the University of Minnesota Law School, Jennifer Green has followed several of Anderson's cases closely. The Ninth Circuit opinion was very thoroughly reasoned, she said.

"It wasn't just some vendetta against the Vatican," she said. "It was a very careful application of the law."

The practice of moving priests accused of sex abuses from one diocese to another is widespread, she noted, and in instances where it's clear the Vatican knew about it, church leaders should be held accountable.

It's unclear whether the high court's decision will open the gates to a flood of new suits against church higher-ups — or even smooth the path for Anderson's other suit against the Vatican.

A change in judicial attitudes?
Attorneys in other parts of the country who also sue on behalf of abuse victims say the decision — and the mounting tenor of the ongoing scandal — may signal a change in judicial attitudes.

Monday's action involves John Doe v. Holy See, a case filed in 2002 in Oregon by a Seattle-area man who said he was molested several times in Portland in the late 1960s by the Rev. Andrew Ronan. According to the suit, church officials first became aware Ronan had abused boys while he was ministering in Ireland in the 1950s.

After the complaints were lodged, Ronan's higher-ups transferred him to a Catholic high school in Chicago, where he is believed to have molested three boys, Doe claims.

"Confronted with allegations of abuse, Ronan admitted to molesting the boys," the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals wrote, summarizing Doe's allegations. "The Chicago Bishop, 'acting in accordance with the policies, practices, and procedures' of the Holy See, did not discipline or remove Ronan from his post."

At some point, church officials moved Ronan to Portland, where he allegedly abused Doe. Ronan died in 1992, more than 25 years after being removed from the priesthood. Anderson filed suit on Doe's behalf in 2002.

Past lawsuits against the Vatican had been thrown out in the early stages. As a sovereign state, the Holy See typically enjoys diplomatic immunity in U.S. courts. But Anderson argued that priests are employees or officials of the church, constituting an exception to the Foreign Sovereign Immunity Act.

An Oregon judge rejected the Vatican's argument that it had immunity in the case. The church appealed, but in March 2009, the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals agreed with the trial court that the case qualified for an exception. If true, Doe's claims suggested "direct [Vatican] liability based on the Holy See's own negligence in retention and supervision of Ronan, and its failure to warn of his 'dangerous proclivities.' "

In addition, the appeals court ruled, "Defendant Holy See promotes and safeguards the morals and standards of conduct of the clergy of the Catholic Church."

In May, the Obama Administration filed a brief siding with the Vatican, opining that the high court need not take up the issue "at this time." On Monday, the justices announced they would not hear the Vatican's appeal.

Church attorney Jeffrey Lena has said Ronan's existence was unknown to Vatican officials, who are not responsible for individual diocesan priests. Rome does not pay their salaries, provide benefits or control clergy's day-to-day working conditions, he has noted.

The decision means the case can now move forward in district court in Portland.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Children injured, orphaned in bungled honour killing

Innocent couple died 'after wrong house was fire-bombed in bungled honour killing'By Daily Mail Reporter
Last updated at 12:29 PM on 29th June 2010
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Innocent victim: Abdullah Mohammed, 41, and his wife Ayesha died after a fire at their house in Blackburn
An innocent couple died in a house fire at the hands of assailants who got the wrong address in a botched honour killing, a court heard today.
Abdullah Mohammed, 41, and his wife, Aysha Mohammed, 39, were overcome by smoke and fumes after an accelerant was poured through their letterbox and set alight.
Their killers were ordered by another man to avenge his family's honour but instead of firebombing 135 London Road in Blackburn, Lancashire, they started the blaze at 175 London Road, the court heard.
Mr Mohammed was found unconscious in his bedroom along with his wife and two of their three children in the early hours of October 21 last year.
He died the same night while his wife died a week later. Their 14-year-old daughter and nine-year-old son survived.
Opening the case at Preston Crown Court, Brian Cummings QC said: 'The prosecution allege that Sadik Miah, Mohammed Miah (no relation) and Habib Iqbal were directly responsible for starting the fire that night and the prosecution further allege that these three were acting on behalf of Hisamuddin Ibrahim who had effectively put them up to it.
'The prosecution say, on behalf of his family, Hisamuddin Ibrahim wanted to kill a man by the name of Mo Ibrahim (no relation) to punish him for damaging the family's honour for having an affair with his married sister, Hafija Gordi.'
Mr Cummings said the plan was to target Mo's home at 135 London Road, Preston Crown Court was told.
Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service received a 999 call from Mr Mohammed at about 1.20am.
He told the operator there was a fire at his home and he could not breathe before the line went dead.
The blaze spread through the hallway as smoke engulfed the upstairs of the terraced property.
Burned out: Abdullah Mohammed and his wife Ayesha died in a house fire at 175 London Road, Blackburn
Neighbours tried in vain to get into the house but were beaten back by the flames before the emergency services arrived.
The prosecutor said there were no witnesses to the start of the blaze but CCTV footage showed a vehicle circling the surrounding streets three times shortly before the fire.

Three figures were then seen to leave the car in the direction of London Road, one appearing to carry a container, before returning and then driving away with its lights off.
Mr Cummings said that vehicle was a black Volkswagen Golf whose registered keeper was Sadek Miah's mother, who lived with the defendant in East London.
The VW Golf was earlier tracked by automatic number plate recognition cameras travelling northwards up the motorway from London the evening before.
Mr Cummings said: 'Having stayed in the area for less than an hour the vehicle left Blackburn after the fire was started - a trip of around 500 miles and more than 7 hours of driving and all in the middle of the night.

'The CCTV not only shows the vehicle, but it also shows people .Three people can be seen to get out of the Golfand walk in the direction of London Road.

'One of them is carrying a container. The camera also shows figure approaching the vehicle and then disappearing again.

'The vehicle goes away from the area and returns to the area, does three circuits and after the third parks up.

'People get out of the vehicle in the direction of London Road. They go back to the car and then three people go in the same direction and then return to the car and the vehicle leaves with the lights off.'

Ibrahim, 21, Iqbal, 25, Mohammed Miah, 19, and 23-year-old Sadek Miah, all of East London, deny murder.
Sadek Miah has pleaded guilty to an alternative charge of manslaughter, which his co-defendants deny.
The trial, scheduled to last up to four weeks, will continue tomorrow morning with the conclusion of the prosecution opening.


Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1290504/Innocent-couple-killed-house-bombed-bungled-honour-killing.html#ixzz0sG9uQOEd

Heaven 'full of stale, smelly, abusive priests', court told

Last updated: June 30,
Heaven 'full of stale, smelly, abusive priests', court told
Sean Fewster, Court Reporter From: AdelaideNow June 29, 2010 11:46AM

A MAN abused as a child by a Catholic priest does not want to go to Heaven if it is "full of stale, smelly, abusive priests", a court has heard.
In a victim impact statement read to the District Court today, the man - who cannot be named - said Charles Alfred Barnett had scarred him emotionally.

He said he had lost his faith and his ability to love because of the abuse Barnett inflicted upon him when he was just 15.

His problem, he said, was with the Catholic concept of forgiveness.

"I don't want to go to Heaven if it's full of stale, smelly priests who have attacked children for years," he said.

"Jesus loved the little children, but I don't know how He felt about priests who abuse those children.

"I'd like to think Barnett won't get past Jesus... I believe he will serve an eternal punishment."

Barnett, 68, has pleaded guility to abusing four boys between 1977 and 1994.

He admitted his crimes to a counsellor in 1995 and, in 1996, left Australia to pursue work in Indonesia.

He was arrested in Jakarta 2008, and extradicted to Adelaide in 2009.

Today, prosecutors said three of Barnett's four victims had given statements detailing the consequences of his abuse.

One said that, as a child, he had feared Barnett, who was "creepy like a snake".

Another said Barnett had "ruined" the Catholic Church's reputation in the community.

The third man called Barnett "a predator and a coward" whose "despicable and vile desires" drove him to commit "depraved, immoral and evil acts".

Stephen Ey, for Barnett, said his client accepted full responsibility for his crimes and would not seek a suspended sentence.

He asked the court take into account the time his client had spent in Indonesia's "primitive" prison system.

"The conditions there were horrendous, like the film Midnight Express," he said.

Mr Ey said Barnett had not realised the criminality of his actions at the time of his offending - a submission rejected by Judge Paul Rice.

"He was a priest, not just any member of the public," Judge Rice said.

"His crimes were completely at odds with his vocation... he must have always known it was wrong."

He remanded Barnett in custody for sentencing in August.

Catholic church is not sovereign Vatican territory

Catholic church is not sovereign Vatican territory
3:00 PM Mon, Jun 28, 2010 | Permalink
Tod Robberson / Editorial Writer Dallas News

Pope Benedict XVI deplored the raid by Belgian policy on Catholic church property over the weekend, claiming that such property is autonomous and somehow excluded from normal law enforcement. "On several occasions, I have personally reiterated that such serious issues should be attended to by both civil and canon law, with respect for reciprocal specificity and autonomy," the pope said.

The idea of reciprocity is normally reserved for inter-governmental relations. If my government agrees to honor your country's passport, you reciprocate by honoring mine. But the church is not the Vatican, and the church is not some kind of consular outpost of the Vatican. The church has failed miserably to investigate and hand over evidence relating to its many sexual abuse scandals around the world. The Belgian police finally declared that they had had enough and raided church facilities to get the material they felt the church was holding back.

The pope would apparently prefer we rely on the church's better judgment and its ability to ferret out and punish wrongdoing. But the church's consistent failure to come clean is what prompted the Belgian action. The Vatican also lost an important Supreme Court decision today in its claim for sovereign immunity after it was challenged to hand over documents in an Oregon sexual abuse case. The Vatican made the ludicrous claim that priests are employees of the Vatican and therefore must be granted sovereign immunity.

Right.

Belgium urges Vatican to stay out of child sex abuse investigations

Belgium urges Vatican to stay out of child sex abuse investigations

By Honey Purden in Brussels


Tuesday, 29 June 2010

Belgium has defended itself after Pope Benedict XVI blasted a series of raids by investigators and the detention of senior clerics in a child sex abuse investigation as "deplorable".


In a worsening of the argument provoked by last Thursday's raids, the country's Foreign Minister, Steven Vanackere, reminded Rome of the principle of separation of church and state yesterday, pointing out that the church should not try to impede the work of the judiciary. Speaking to The Independent, he urged the Vatican to "react with balance" after the extraordinary and rare intervention by the Pope on Sunday. A day earlier, a spokesman for the Holy See had accused Belgian investigators of using "communist" tactics.

Mr Vanackere said he was confident that the issue could be prevented from spiralling into a diplomatic row with the Vatican but stressed that "it's good to [keep in mind] very important principles of the state of law. [There are] very elementary principles of having a separation of powers and accepting that the judiciary has to do its work".

Belgian police raided a bishop's meeting in the city of Mechelen last Thursday amid claims of child abuse. Investigators confiscated mobile phones, computers and also seized files from the home of Godfried Danneels, Belgium's former cardinal, as part of their search for documents and correspondence between Catholic authorities and alleged victims.

The Brussels prosecutor's office said the raid followed a string of accusations "denouncing abuse of minors committed by a certain number of Church figures". Belgium's Catholic Church was thrown into turmoil in April by a string of revelations which saw Roger Vangheluwe, 73, its longest-serving bishop, resign after admitting to sexually abusing a boy for years.

The Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, accused investigators of holding the clerics for nine hours "without food and water" in methods "unprecedented even in Communist regimes of old".

Mr Vanackere said he understood the concerns. "But if it emerges that disproportionate measures were used, then it's a problem for the Belgian judiciary not for the Vatican."

His comments came just hours after the mass resignation of the Catholic Church-backed Commission set up to probe hundreds of reported cases of abuses. Its chief, Peter Andriaenssens, stood down claiming a breach of confidentiality. "We are pulling out. The debate must now take place between victims, political leaders, the judiciary, the church and public opinion," said Mr Andriaenssens. Belgium's justice minister, Stefaan De Clerck, said urgent talks would be held.

Donohue's Comments are Surprising and Deplorable

June 29, 2010
Donohue's Comments are Surprising and Deplorable
by David Fortwengler Anti-Catholic League

Bellicose Bill Donohue contentiously commented yesterday about Belgian authorities search at Catholic offices for evidence in an ongoing investigation into the sexual abuse of Belgian citizens. Bill’s organization, the Catholic League, purports to defend the civil and religious rights of Catholics, yet is obsessed with maligning the civil rights of non-Catholic society. As always, the truth is never a factor in his combative criticisms.

In yesterday’s statement the pugnacious pundit claims the Belgian police;



“took a page from the Gestapo playbook and executed it to the tee”



that they were “goose-stepping through church files”



tried “to get any thing they could to indict the Belgian Church”



that the Belgians had an “agenda.”



The offensive efforts of church apologists like Bill to equate their embarrassment and shame at being legally investigated for crimes to the suffering and persecution Jews endured under Hitler is repulsive. Besides, who was a member of the Hitler Youth, the leader of the Belgian police or the leader of the Catholic Church?



The Catholic League is correct in saying the police had an agenda, it was to further their investigation into sex crimes against Belgian children and complicity by church officials. They were not looking for anything to indict the church. They were not looking for evidence to disprove transubstantiation. They were searching for documents and evidence that the church had no intention of providing to the police.



Bill’s evidence of this secular conspiracy is simply, “Belgian bishops created a committee to investigate claims of priestly sexual abuse, but this mattered not a whit to the Belgian government.” I guess he is also upset the Securities and Exchange Commission didn’t allow Bernie Madoff to do a self-audit and issue a report instead of throwing his butt in jail.



Consistent with Bill’s anti-truth agenda and obsession with “The View” he attacked the comments of who he calls “regular Catholic-basher” Joy Behar and Whoopi Goldberg. Joy said, “If you’re [the Church] not going to be forthcoming with the info, then the cops are going to come in and get it.” Whoopi said, the Church “can’t be surprised that they’re [the cops] going to come in” if they are stonewalled. Sounds reasonable to me. Pope Benedict decried the police raid as “surprising and deplorable”, what is truly surprising and deplorable are the incessant ravings of Bill Donohue.

Archbishop Martin and the enemies within

Archbishop Martin and the enemies within
Dublin Archbishop Martin battles Vatican over fired bishops
By DANIEL O'CARROLL

Published Tuesday, June 29, 2010, 7:11 AMUpdated Tuesday, June 29, 2010, 8:37 AM

Diarmuid Martin, the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Dublin, is coming under closer scrutiny than ever before as forces of opposition within the church heckle for his resignation in one of the most volatile eras that the Catholic Church as ever undergone in Ireland.

The Archbishop is reportedly unhappy at the Pope’s refusal to acknowledge the resignation of two bishops criticized in the Murphy report into child sexual abuse in the Church for their failure to address the epidemic and bring the perpetrators to the authorities.

Although Bishops Eamonn Walsh and Ray Field both offered their resignations to the Holy See, the Pope has not acknowledged their resignations, meaning that under Canon Law they have no force. The Vatican’s Press Office has refused to comment on the reason why this may be so.

It now seems that the blame-game is turning on Martin himself who is viewed by some as the greatest luminary of the Church in Ireland and by others as a self-serving egoist who is ruthless in his politics and interested only in his own furtherance.

The Archbishop has been caustically critical about the failure of the Church to come to terms with the extent and scope of sex abuse.

In a recent speech delivered at a meeting of the Knights of Columbanus in Dublin, Martin spoke of his concern that there are signs of "subconscious denial" about the extent of the abuse in the Irish Catholic church and how it was covered up.

Those on the inside are also coming out with information that the Archbishop would perhaps not want made public.

One insider told Dublin’s Tribune newspaper how "he is absolutely clear when he is doing public statements. They will have been drafted and gone through meticulously." and how "the media absolutely adore him; from the moment he arrived he has singled this out as an area to be developed."

Martin’s approach to media relations is what perhaps sets him most at odds with his predecessors, who consistently show a preference for conducting sensitive Church business behind firmly closed doors.

Though this degree of openness once more finds its critics even within his own ranks: “he is not collegiate,” said another insider “opting instead to engage in megaphone diplomacy."

Perhaps the most overt example of opposition to Martin within the Church was a specially convened meeting of 25 priests at Manresa retreat house in Dublin last January. The meeting, held behind closed doors, reportedly focused on the Archbishop’s supposed failure to deal adequately with the fallout from the Murphy Reprort.

The minutes of that meeting read: "anger, frustration and a sense of helplessness [were] expressed at the lack of compassion shown by the diocese in recent months, particularly towards the auxiliary bishops. We felt that a grave injustice has been done to men who have loyally served this diocese with selfless commitment and Christ-like compassion."

Emeritus Auxiliary Bishop of Dublin Dermot O'Mahony, himself criticized in the Report, earlier this year criticized Martin for his public comment that the management of cases was "inexcusable".

Critics say that Martin has few friends and lives quite a solitary existence. It’s believed that his further and growing isolation in the Church is leaving him with a dearth of support within his own ranks, and that the time could be ripe for an easy coup.

It’s also believed that his influence with the Pope himself is on the wane. One abuse survivor told Martin after his return from a trip to Rome that it seemed as if he’d had his wings clipped, something which he denied.

Another Church ‘insider’ summarized the Archbishop’s problem:"he is almost totally isolated, there is a deep sense of grievance against him in the wider church. It would be far better for him to bring people with him, perhaps by engaging in a root-and-branch listening exercise. He is clearly not happy in the job."

Sex abuse lawsuit filed against Diocese of Brownsville

by Rafael Carranza
Posted: 06.27.2010 at 10:50 PMsavesendprint
Rafael Carranza
Rafael is a videojournalist for Action 4 News.

A lawsuit filed Friday alleges that a longtime-Rio Grande Valley priest abused and molested a child in Mission more than 30 years ago.

The court documents, obtained by Action 4 News, claim Father Armando Escobedo gave alcohol, abused,and molested one of his altar boys.

Diana Gonzalez, a former abuse victim, announced the lawsuit at a press conference over the weekend.

"You don't go to church, you don't send your child to the church so they can be abused... I hope... so we dont need these kind of predators at the church, and the church shouldn't be a safe haven for predators," she said.

The identity of the man filing the lawsuit is being withheld, but according to the documents, he served as an altar boy in the late 1970's at Our Lady of St .John of Fields in Mission.

It also says Father Escobedo would threaten the victim and tell him not to tell anyone.

Gonzalez said her group, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP), is providing support to the victim.

"It's been a very painful recovery... it's taken many years... it's caused a lot of havoc in my life," Gonzalez read .

Although she is not a part of the lawsuit, Gonzalez said she wanted to show her support for the victim and encourage other victims to come forward.

"People need support to come forward and talk about it... it's shameful and it destroys your life... you need all the support you can get," Gonzalez said.

Action 4 News talked to a spokesperson from the Diocese of Brownsville.

The Diocese would not speak on camera but said they heard about the lawsuit.

However, they refused to comment stating that they have not received a full-copy of the lawsuit for themselves.

Former Chicago priest sex abuse case to move forward

Former Chicago priest sex abuse case to move forward

June 28, 2010

ASSOCIATED PRESS
WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court won’t stop a lawsuit that accuses the Vatican of transferring a priest from Ireland to Chicago to Oregon despite repeated accusations of sexual abuse.

The Vatican wanted the federal courts to throw out the lawsuit that seeks to hold the Roman Catholic Church responsible for moving the Rev. Andrew Ronan from place to place despite the sex abuse accusations.

» Click to enlarge image The case was brought more than eight years ago on behalf of a plaintiff who alleged that he was sexually molested on several occasions when he was 15 or 16 by the Rev. Andrew Ronan.

Sovereign immunity laws hold that a sovereign state — including the Vatican — is generally immune from lawsuits.

But lower federal courts have ruled in this case that there could be an exception to the Foreign Sovereign Immunity Act that could affect the Vatican. A judge ruled there was enough of a connection between the Vatican and Ronan for him to be considered a Vatican employee under Oregon law, and that ruling was upheld by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Sacramento.

The case was brought more than eight years ago on behalf of a plaintiff who alleged that he was sexually molested on several occasions when he was 15 or 16 by the Rev. Andrew Ronan.

Before he was transferred to Oregon, Ronan had been moved out of two previous parishes -- in Ireland and Chicago's St. Philip, which is now closed -- after he allegedly sexually molested children.

According to court documents, Ronan began abusing boys in the mid-1950s as a priest in the Archdiocese of Armagh, Ireland.

Ronan was later moved to St. Albert’s Church in Portland, Ore., where he was accused of abusing the person who filed the lawsuit now under appeal. Ronan died in 1992.

Judge Says Pooled Investments Part Of Assets

Jun 28, 2010 7:11 pm US/Eastern

Judge Says Pooled Investments Part Of Assets
RANDALL CHASE, Associated Press Writer
DOVER, Del. (AP) ― A Delaware bankruptcy judge says creditors in the Catholic Diocese of Wilmington's bankruptcy can try to lay claim to assets of certain parishes held by the diocese.

In a 44-page ruling Monday, the judge said funds held in trust by the diocese on behalf of the parishes are commingled with the diocese's own non-trust funds and unable to be traced.

As a result, the judge says all the funds in the pooled investment program will be considered part of the diocese's bankruptcy estate.

The ruling means the diocese's creditors committee, consisting of alleged survivors of priest sex abuse, can go after the entire $120 million in the pooled account, not just the diocese's $45 million.

Outraged over police raid on church offices? Wait for what is revealed

Outraged over police raid on church offices? Wait for what is revealed
Jun. 28, 2010
By Barbara Blaine
Accountability

Peter Isely and Barbara Blaine, both of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, speak to journalists in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican March 25. (CNS /Alessandro Bianchi, Reuters)

The police raid last week on Catholic offices in Belgium wasn't exactly received with open arms by church officials. All nine of the nation's bishops were detained for nine hours. Their cell phones and the phones of other diocesan personnel were held.

It was "not pleasant," one church staffer said. Another called it "not very agreeable." A third accused law enforcement of "paranoia" and a fourth claimed police showed "excessive zeal."

I was not sympathetic to their plight. Six years ago, I watched closely as another law enforcement raid of a diocesan headquarters took place in my home town of Toledo. The deception it uncovered was stunning. And the evidence it obtained was later used in a trial to convict a murderer.

In 2004, Fr. Gerald Robinson stood criminally charged with brutally stabbing and slaying Sr. Margaret Ann Pahl 24 years before. A devout Catholic police detective, who considered the Toledo diocesan chancellor a friend, was in charge of the investigation.

At that point, Robinson had been a priest in the Toledo diocese for 30 years. But when the detective asked the chancellor for Robinson's personnel file, he was given just three pages.

Puzzled, the detective, who is also an attorney, began researching canon law. He learned that each bishop is required to keep a secret archive, and to not ever disclose its existence. Armed with this knowledge, the police secured a search warrant.

On Sept. 15, 2004, according to Toledo Blade reporter David Yonke, "two detectives walked into the Catholic Center, ignoring the receptionist's pleas to sign in" and went straight to the Bishop Leonard Blair's office. They showed Blair the warrant, cited the secret archive, but were told by the bishop "it simply doesn't exist."

But when pressed, the chancellor eventually gave the detectives a file an inch and a half to two inches thick containing 148 documents about Robinson. "Many of those records were dated before the detective's request nine months earlier for all of the [cleric's records]," Yonke wrote. "Clearly, the diocese had not turned over all of its Robinson files."

The results of the case are mixed.

On one hand, a jury found Robinson guilty. He's now behind bars where he can't hurt anyone else, adult or child. (He's accused in a civil lawsuit of molesting girl as well.) On the other hand, however, despite claims that Pope Benedict speeded up the defrocking process, Robinson remains a priest today. And Robinson is appealing his conviction. Should he succeed on some technicality, he'll walk out of prison still a priest.

Another diocesan cleric, who prevented police from questioning Robinson as a suspect almost 30 years ago, has since passed away. Shockingly, a downtown street is named in his honor. The signs remain posted even today, rubbing more salt into the already-deep wounds of Sr. Pahl's family and local clergy sex abuse victims.

So I can't summon much compassion for the Belgian church employees who were inconvenienced for a few hours last week. It's theoretically possible, I suppose, that every one of them is completely innocent of committing or concealing child sex crimes (though just this year, hundreds of alleged victims of Belgian predator priests have stepped forward). It could be that Catholic bishops and chancery staff in Brussels handle, and have handled, pedophile priests radically differently than their Toledo counterparts. It's conceivable that Belgian law enforcement officials will uncover nothing questionable in the records they seized at the church headquarters and a bishop's home.

But based on what we've seen in Toledo, I sure wouldn't put any money on it.

Belgium a 'perfect storm' on sex abuse crisis

Belgium a 'perfect storm' on sex abuse crisis
Jun. 28, 2010
By John L Allen Jr
Accountability

Archbishop Andre-Joseph Leonard of Mechelen-Brussels speaks at a press conference introducing Bishop Jozef De Kesel, left, as the newly-named bishop of Brugge, Belgium, June 25 in Brussels. Bishop De Kesel, former auxiliary bishop of Mechelen-Brussels, replaces Bishop Roger Vangheluwe, who stepped down April 23 after admitting to sexually abusing a boy. (CNS photo/Francois Lenoir, Reuters)

As a remarkable war of words between the Vatican and Belgium heated up over the weekend, one thing has become crystal clear: While there’s no good place for the Catholic church to experience a sexual abuse crisis, few places on earth are quite as combustible as Belgium.

The June 3 raid, which reportedly included drilling holes into the tombs of two deceased archbishops of Brussels to see if any documents lurked inside, illustrates that when it comes to the sexual abuse crisis, Belgium represents a “perfect storm.”

That’s the case for at least three reasons:

•In the 1990s, Belgium experienced a horrific pedophilia scandal that left the country extraordinarily sensitive to issues of child sexual abuse.
•Belgium is among the most secularized corners of Europe, so skepticism of institutional religion, and especially the Catholic church, is a powerful social current.
•The transition in Brussels this February from Cardinal Godfriend Danneels to Archbishop André-Joseph Léonard, a much more conservative figure, cemented impressions in some quarters that the church is turning its back on a spirit of compromise.
Fallout from the police raids continued on Monday, as a panel set up by the Catholic church in Belgium to investigate complaints of sexual abuse announced it was closing operations. Chairman Peter Adriaenssens, one of the country’s leading experts in child psychology and chair of the church panel, said Belgian police had betrayed the trust of victims who approached the panel in confidence.

Meanwhile, the crossfire between the Vatican and Belgium showed no signs of abating.

Over the weekend, Pope Benedict XVI called the raids “deplorable,” and Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, the Vatican’s Secretary of State, said the raids were “unprecedented, even in the old Communist regimes.” Bertone’s top deputy for foreign relations, French Archbishop Dominque Mamberti, called in the Belgian ambassador to the Holy See for a scolding. Avvenire, the daily of the Italian bishops’ conference, noted that the Belgian police nicknamed the raids “Operation Church,” asserting that the tag confirms that the real target was not individual guilty parties but the church itself.

The Belgian press took the lead in firing back. The Flemish daily De Morgen, for example, applauded the “clear signal” sent by the police: “The church is not above the law.” The leading French language daily Le Soir charged that the Vatican “prefers the tombs to the victims,” and said that the justice system was well within its rights to seek out clergy guilty of abuse.

The ferocity reflects the unique atmosphere in Belgium vis-à-vis both pedophilia and the Catholic church.

In the mid-1990s, a massive national pedophilia scandal erupted when four young girls were found dead at the house of Marc Dutroux, a previously convicted sex offender. Investigators discovered a warren of underground concrete cages beneath his house where Dutroux kept children prisoner. Eventually, the investigation suggested the existence of “pedophilia networks,” involving orgies at which drugs and underage children were made available to VIP clients including, allegedly, politicians, judges and police.

A 15-month parliamentary investigation, which ended in 1998, found massive incompetence and corruption in the way authorities had handled complains of sexual exploitation of children. According to most observers in Belgium, the experience left the country scarred, distrustful of its institutions, and a widespread attitude of “never again” regarding the sexual abuse of children.

While a police raid may have been unthinkable in a traditional Catholic country such as Belgium as recently as a quarter-century ago, those days seem to be over. Today, the Belgian church in many ways appears a shadow of its former self.

A 2008 study by Leuven University, for example, found that only about seven percent of Belgian Catholics attend Mass on a weekly basis, down from 11 percent a decade earlier. Only half of newborn children in Belgium today are baptized, the same study found, and only one-quarter of couples in Belgium today choose to be married in the church.

Ambivalence about the Catholic church, and the Vatican in particular, can be glimpsed from the way Belgium responded to the controversy last year over Benedict XVI’s remarks en route to Africa to the effect that condoms make the problem of AIDS worse. While those words triggered wide debate, only in Belgium did the national parliament formally vote to censure the pontiff.

The vote in favor of a declaration calling the pope’s comments “unacceptable” was 95 to 18, with seven abstentions.

Benedict’s choice of Léonard, 70, to replace Danneels further aggravated backlash against the church in some quarters. Deputy Prime Minister Laurette Onkelinx, a leading French-speaking member of the Socialist Party, charged that Léonard’s staunch ethical traditionalism would endanger the “Belgian compromise” between believers and secularists – an informal “live and let live” agreement to avoid open cultural war. For much the same reason, Le Soir called the appointment “stupefying.”

Last week’s police raids, in other words, didn’t drop from the clear blue sky. They reflect a national concern for child welfare, coupled with a weakened local Catholic church and an atmosphere in which the Vatican, and the pope, aren’t likely to get the benefit of the doubt.

All that makes Belgium a place well worth watching as the sexual abuse crisis continues to play out.