Monday, August 30, 2010

Child rapist Merzbacher appeals ruling to close loophole

Child rapist Merzbacher appeals ruling to close loophole
Convicted child rapist wants to eliminate need for judge's approval to reissue old plea deal, which would set him free
By Tricia Bishop, The Baltimore Sun

6:44 a.m. EDT, August 30, 2010

Convicted child rapist John Joseph Merzbacher has filed an appeal to close a loophole in a recent court ruling that requires he be given a fresh chance at freedom, despite his four life sentences.

On July 30, federal court judge Andre M. Davis ordered that a court must now offer Merzbacher a 10-year plea deal that his attorneys never properly presented before his 1995 trial, violating his constitutional rights. But Davis added one seeming caveat that has Merzbacher nervous.

"Before Merzbacher gains full relief, a judge of the [Baltimore] circuit court must express a willingness to carry out the undertaking," Davis wrote in a memorandum opinion accompanying his order.

In a notice filed last week, Merzbacher said he intends to appeal that provision "to the extent that it states or implies that a judge … [has] the discretion not to approve the plea agreement."

At the time the offer was formed, a city judge had signed off on it. But today, it's unlikely that anyone would step forward, knowing in hindsight the details that were revealed during the trial, lawyers said.

"It is possible, and, in fact, it is likely that no judge… would approve such a plea agreement today," Merzbacher himself says in a related court filing, adding that there will "be another round of litigation" if the issue is not addressed and the offer not extended.

Merzbacher taught English at the Catholic Community School in Locust Point in the 1970s, and at least a dozen of his former students have accused him of beating, raping and threatening them and their families. He was indicted on more than 100 felony charges in 1994, though only one case went to trial. The rest were dropped after his convictions on rape, sexual child abuse, perverted practice and several counts of carnal knowledge of a minor female under 14 and subsequent sentencing.

But now, those grown students are investigating whether their cases could be reopened or new charges filed — anything to keep him behind bars.

Davis' ruling suggested that Merzbacher, who has already served 15 years, could be released from prison within months. The possibility was met with terror and outrage by his former students, and indignation by prosecutors.

Maryland Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler has appealed the ruling and requested that the July order be stayed in the meantime, which to Merzbacher has not objected.

The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals suspended the appeal proceedings, however, until a lower federal court determines whether Merzbacher is allowed to appeal the issue and whether to approve his motion to proceed without paying court costs, including a $450 filing fee.

As of last week, Merzbacher had $2.33 in his prisoner account, according to court filings. He earns about $32 per month doing prison work.

UPDATE: Sex Abuse Charges Dismissed Against Priest in Roane County

UPDATE: Sex Abuse Charges Dismissed Against Priest in Roane County
All sexual abuse and assault charges against a priest from Cincinnati who was expected to go on trial Monday have been dropped.
Posted: 9:27 AM Aug 30, 2010
Reporter: Anna Baxter

ROANE COUNTY, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- All sexual abuse and assault charges against a priest from Cincinnati who was expected to go on trial Monday have been dropped.

Reverend Robert Poandl was indicted on the charges in February.

Police in Cincinnati say a 28-year-old man came forward and claimed that Poandl molested him on a trip to Spencer back in 1991 when he was just 10 years old. At the time, Poandl was filling in at the Holy Redeemer Catholic Church Rectory in Roane County.

According to Roane County Prosecutor Josh Downey, the judge dismissed the case late Friday afternoon.

Downey tells WSAZ.com the judge ruled there were discovery issues that related to the medical records of the victim. The charges cannot be refiled in Roane County, according to the judge's ruling.

The state now has 90 days to decide whether it wants to take the case to the West Virginia Supreme Court. Downey says he is currently considering the matter, but has not made a decision on how the state will respond to the judge's order.

Statement from Survivors Network of Those Abused By Priests (SNAP)
"We hope this will be appealed to the West Virginia Supreme Court. It’s important that the truth of what happened gets to be aired in open court.

We know this victim and family. They are very credible and caring. This brave young man and his loved ones should be commended for coming forward quickly and having the courage and wisdom to contact law enforcement.

Regardless of whatever happens in the justice system, this victim has taken a key step toward healing himself and protecting other kids."

Keep clicking on WSAZ.com for the very latest information.

Victims' Response to Deacon being removed

Victims' Response to Deacon being removed

Statement by Barbara Blaine of Chicago, president of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests
Our hearts ache for anyone who saw, suspected or suffered Garcia’s crimes. We hope they will find the courage and strength to come forward, call police, get help, expose wrong doers, protect others and start healing. We especially hope they will seek out independent sources of support and healing, like therapists and self help groups like ours.

Bishops claim they’re screening candidates for ordination more carefully these days, to try and weed out sex offenders. If what Albany church officials say is true – that this cleric molested before he officially became a deacon – it’s clear that such screening, if it’s happening, is far from perfect.

Albany’s bishop is urging those with information about Angel Garcia’s crimes to call church or police officials. We disagree. Child sex abuse is a crime and should be treated as a crime. Reports should go to the impartial, trained experts in law enforcement, who have no incentive to cover up these crimes, rather than to the biased, untrained amateurs in chancery offices who have long ignored and concealed these crimes.

When church officials learn of suspected abuse, sometimes victims are intimidated, witnesses are discredited, whistleblowers are threatened, evidence is destroyed, alibis are fabricated, predators are quietly moved and cover ups are begun. It’s best to give police and prosecutors a chance to build a strong criminal case before alerting church officials who have historically protected themselves, their colleagues and their reputations over protecting kids.

Pedophiles and Popes: Doing the Vatican Shuffle

Crimes Against Children Back to Slices

Pedophiles and Popes: Doing the Vatican Shuffle
Michael Parenti August 30th 2010

When Pope John Paul II was still living in Poland as Cardinal Karol Wojtyła, he claimed that the security police would accuse priests of sexual abuse just to hassle and discredit them. (New York Times, Mar 28, 2010). For Wojtyła, the Polish pedophilia problem was nothing more than a Communist plot to smear the church.

By the early 1980s, Wojtyła, now ensconced in Rome as Pope John Paul II, treated all stories about pedophile clergy with dismissive aplomb, as little more than slander directed against the church. That remained his stance for the next twenty years.

Today, in post-communist Poland, clerical abuse cases have been surfacing slowly—very slowly. Writing in the leading daily Gazeta Wyborcza, a middle-aged man reported having been sexually abused as a child by a priest. He acknowledged however that Poland was not prepared to deal with such transgressions. “It’s still too early … Can you imagine what life would look like if an inhabitant of a small town or village decided to talk? I can already see the committees of defense for the accused priests.”

While church pedophiles may still enjoy a safe haven in Poland and other countries where the clergy are above challenge, things are breaking wide open elsewhere. Today we are awash in a sludge of revelations spanning whole countries and continents, going back decades—or, per some historians—going back centuries. Only in the last few weeks has the church shown signs of cooperating with civil authorities. Here is the story.

Protecting the Perpetrators

As everyone now knows, for decades, church superiors repeatedly chose to ignore complaints about pedophile priests. In many instances, accused clerics were quietly bundled off to distant congregations where they could prey anew upon the children of unsuspecting parishioners. This practice of denial and concealment has been so consistently pursued in diocese after diocese, nation after nation, as to leave the impression of being a deliberate policy set by church authorities.

And indeed it has been. Instructions coming directly from Rome have required every bishop and cardinal to keep matters secret. These instructions were themselves kept secret; the cover-up was itself covered up. Then in 2002, John Paul put it in writing, specifically mandating that all charges against priests were to be reported secretly to the Vatican and hearings were to be held in camera, a procedure that directly defies state criminal codes.

Rather than being defrocked, many outed pedophile priests have been allowed to advance into well-positioned posts as administrators, vicars, and parochial school officials---repeatedly accused by their victims while repeatedly promoted by their superiors.

Church spokesmen employ a vocabulary of compassion and healing—not for the victims but for the victimizers. They treat the child rapist as a sinner who confesses his transgression and vows to mend his ways. Instead of incarceration, there is repentance and absolution.

While this forgiving approach might bring comfort to some malefactors, it proves to be of little therapeutic efficacy when dealing with the darker appetites of pedophiles. A far more effective deterrent is the danger of getting caught and sent to prison. Absent any threat of punishment, the perpetrator is restrained only by the limits of his own appetite and the availability of opportunities.

Forgiving No One Else

The tender tolerance displayed by the church hierarchy toward child rapists does not extend to other controversial clergy. Think of those radical priests who have challenged the hierarchy in the politico-economic struggle for liberation theology, or who advocate lifting the prohibitions against birth control and abortion, or who propose that clergy be allowed to marry, or who preside over same-sex weddings, or who themselves are openly gay, or who believe women should be ordained, or who bravely call for investigations of the pedophilia problem itself.

Such clergy often have their careers shut down. Some are subjected to hostile investigations by church superiors.

A Law Unto Itself

Church leaders seem to forget that pedophilia is a felony and that, as citizens of a secular state, priests are subject to its laws just like the rest of us. Clerical authorities repeatedly have made themselves accessories to the crime, playing an active role in obstructing justice, arguing in court that criminal investigations of “church affairs” violated the free practice of religion guaranteed by the US Constitution—-as if raping little children were a holy sacrament.

Church officials tell parishioners not to talk to state authorities. They offer no pastoral assistance to young victims and their shaken families. They do not investigate to see if other children have been victimized by the same priests. Some young plaintiffs have been threatened with excommunication or suspension from Catholic school. Church leaders impugn their credibility, even going after them with countersuits.

Responding to charges that one of his priests sexually assaulted a six-year-old boy, Cardinal Bernard Law asserted that “the boy and his parents contributed to the abuse by being negligent.” Law himself never went to prison for the hundreds of cover-ups he conducted. In 2004, with things getting too hot for him in his Boston archdiocese, Law was rescued by Pope John Paul II to head one of Rome’s major basilicas, where he now lives with diplomatic immunity in palatial luxury on a generous stipend, supervised by no one but a permissive pontiff.

A judge of the Holy Roman Rota, the church’s highest court, wrote in a Vatican-approved article that bishops should not report sexual violations to civil authorities. And sure enough, for years bishops and cardinals have refrained from cooperating with law enforcement authorities, refusing to release abusers’ records, claiming that the confidentiality of their files came under the same legal protection as privileged communications in the confessional—a notion that has no basis in canon or secular law.

Bishop James Quinn of Cleveland even urged church officials to send incriminating files to the Vatican Embassy in Washington, DC, where diplomatic immunity would prevent the documents from being subpoenaed.

Just a Few Bad Apples

Years ago the Catholic hierarchy would insist that clerical pedophilia involved only a few bad apples and was being blown completely out of proportion. For the longest time, John Paul scornfully denounced the media for “sensationalizing” the issue. He and his cardinals (Ratzinger included) directed more fire at news outlets for publicizing the crimes than at their own clergy for committing them.

Reports released by the US Conference of Catholic Bishops (one of the more honest organizations in the Catholic Church) documented the abuse committed in the United States by 4,392 priests against thousands of children between 1950 and 2002. One of every ten priests ordained in 1970 was charged as a pedophile by 2002. Another survey commissioned by the US bishops found that among 5,450 complaints of sexual abuse there were charges against at least sixteen bishops. So much for a few bad apples.

Still, even as reports were flooding in from Ireland and other countries, John Paul dismissed the pedophilic epidemic as “an American problem,” as if American priests were not members of his clergy, or as if this made it a matter of no great moment. John Paul went to his grave in 2005 still refusing to meet with victims and never voicing any apologies or regrets regarding sex crimes and cover-ups.

With Ratzinger’s accession to the papal throne as Benedict XVI, the cover-ups continued. As recently as April 2010, at Easter Mass in St. Peter’s Square, dean of the college of cardinals Angelo Sodano, assured Benedict that the faithful were unimpressed “by the gossip of the moment.” One would not know that “the gossip of the moment” included thousands of investigations, prosecutions, and accumulated charges extending back over decades.

During that same Easter weekend, Cardinal Norberto Rivera Carrera, archbishop of Mexico City, declared that the public uproar was an “overreaction” incited by the doings of “a few dishonest and criminal priests.” A few? An overreaction? Of course, the picture now becomes clear: a few bad apples were inciting overreaction by engaging in the gossip of the moment.

The church seems determined to learn nothing from its transgressions, preoccupied as it is with avoiding lawsuits and bad publicity.

Really Not All that Serious

There are two ways we can think of child rape as being not a serious problem, and the Catholic hierarchy seems to have embraced both these positions. First, pedophilia is not that serious if it involves only a few isolated and passing incidents. Second, an even more creepy way of downplaying the problem: child molestation is not all that damaging or that important. At worst, it is regrettable and unfortunate; it might greatly upset the child, but it certainly is not significant enough to cause unnecessary scandal and ruin the career of an otherwise splendid padre.

It is remarkable how thoroughly indifferent the church bigwigs have been toward the abused children. When one of the most persistent perpetrators, Rev. John Geoghan, was forced into retirement (not jail) after seventeen years and nearly 200 victims, Cardinal Law could still write him, “On behalf of those you have served well, in my own name, I would like to thank you. I understand yours is a painful situation.” It is evident that Law was more concerned about the “pain” endured by Geoghan than the misery he had inflicted upon minors.

In 2001, a French bishop was convicted in France for refusing to hand over to the police a priest who had raped children. It recently came to light that a former top Vatican cardinal, Dario Castrillón, had written to the bishop, “I congratulate you for not denouncing a priest to the civil authorities. You have acted well, and I am pleased to have a colleague in the episcopate who, in the eyes of history and of all the bishops in the world, preferred prison to denouncing his ‘son’ and priest.” (The bishop actually got off with a suspended sentence.) Castrillón claimed that Pope John Paul II had authorized the letter years ago and had told him to send it to bishops around the world. (New York Times, Apr 22, 2010.)

There are many more like Cardinal Law and Cardinal Castrillón in the hierarchy, aging men who have no life experience with children and show not the slightest regard or empathy for them. They claim it their duty to protect the “unborn child” but offer no protection to the children in their schools and parishes.

They themselves are called “Father” but they father no one. They do not reside in households or families. They live in an old-boys network, jockeying for power and position, dedicated to the Holy Mother Church that feeds, houses, and adorns them throughout their lives. From their heady heights, popes and bishops cannot hear the cries of children. In any case, the church belongs not to little children but to the bedecked oligarchs.

The damage done to sexual victims continues to go unnoticed: the ensuing years of depression, drug addiction, alcoholism, panic attacks, sexual dysfunction, and even mental breakdown and suicide—all these terrible aftereffects of child rape seem to leave popes and bishops more or less unruffled.

Circling the Wagons

The Catholic hierarchy managed to convince itself that the prime victim in this dismal saga is the church itself. In 2010 it came to light that, while operating as John Paul’s über-hit man, Pope Benedict (then Cardinal Ratzinger) had provided cover and protection to several of the worst predator priests. The scandal was now at the pope’s door---exactly where it should have been many years earlier during John Paul’s reign.

The Vatican’s response was predictable. The hierarchy circled the wagons to defend pope and church from outside “enemies.” The cardinals and bishops railed furiously at critics who “assault” the church and, in the words of the archbishop of Paris, subject it to “a smear campaign.” Benedict himself blamed secularism and misguided applications of Vatican 2’s aggiornamento - updating - as contributing to the “context” of sexual abuse. Reform-minded liberalism made us do it, he seemed to be saying.

But this bristling Easter counterattack by the hierarchy did not play well. Church authorities came off looking like insular, arrogant elites who were unwilling to own up to a horrid situation largely of their own making.

Meanwhile the revelations continued. A bishop in Ireland resigned admitting he had covered up child abuse cases. Bishops in Germany and Belgium stepped down after confessing to charges that they themselves had abused minors. And new allegations were arising in Chile, Norway, Brazil, Italy, France, and Mexico.

Then, a fortnight after Easter, the Vatican appeared to change course and for the first time issued a directive urging bishops to report abuse cases to civil authorities “if required by local law.” At the same time, Pope Benedict held brief meetings with survivor groups and issued sympathetic statements about their plight.

For many of the victims, the pontiff’s overtures and apologies were too little, too late. Their feeling was that if the Vatican really wanted to make amends, it should cooperate fully with law enforcement authorities and stop obstructing justice; it should ferret out abusive clergy and not wait until cases are publicized by others; and it should make public the church’s many thousands of still secret reports on priests and bishops.

In the midst of all this, some courageous clergy do speak out. At a Sunday mass in a Catholic church outside Springfield, Massachusetts, the Rev. James Scahill delivered a telling sermon to his congregation (New York Times, Apr 12, 2010): “We must personally and collectively declare that we very much doubt the veracity of the pope and those of church authority who are defending him. It is beginning to become evident that for decades, if not centuries, church leadership covered up the abuse of children and minors to protect its institutional image and the image of priesthood.”

The abusive priests, Scahill went on, were “felons.” He had “severe doubt” about the Vatican’s claims of innocent ignorance. “If by any slimmest of chance the pope and all his bishops didn’t know—they all should resign on the basis of sheer and complete ignorance, incompetence, and irresponsibility.”

How did Father Scahill’s suburban Catholic parishioners receive his scorching remarks? One or two walked out. The rest gave him a standing ovation.

Michael Parenti’s latest book is God and His Demons (2010) which deals with all sorts of theocratic misconduct and misbelief. For further information about his work, see: www.michaelparenti.org.

The Clericalist Mind at Work

The Clericalist Mind at Work
August 30th, 2010 ·
Roger Vangheluwe was a priest when he began sexually abusing his five-year-old nephew. The abuse continued even after 1984, when Vangheluwe, at age 48, became bishop of Bruges.

The boy’s family pressured the boy to remain silent to preserve the bishop’s career. The bishop gave the family money (source of money unspecified). As he grew up, the boy was filled with anger.

Over the years, the nephew — who still does not want his name used publicly — channeled his rage into creating art: giant screaming images in gnarled wood or a montage of a boy being crushed by a mattress. (NYT)

In 1996 Father Rik Devillé told Cardinal Godfried Danneels about the abuse.

… he said, the cardinal listened impatiently, glancing frequently at his watch. Weeks later, Father Devillé received a letter from the cardinal. “Stop making unfounded public accusations against the church and its functionaries if you don’t have proof,” it read. (NYT)

(Danneels now claims to have no memory of this incident)

A niece of the now-adult nephew received a holy card from Bishop Vangheluwe for her confirmation. It had a note about the importance of a healthy childhood. This enraged the nephew, and he decided to confront Vangheluwe and Danneels.

In April 2010 the nephew met with Vangheluwe and Cardinal Danneels. The nephew was expecting the new archbishop Leonard to be there but he did not come. Vangheluwe left the room.

(The translation of the transcript is rough. I will replace it if I can find a better one)




Nephew : So I lost my entire youth to abuse by my uncle Roger. Sexual and still mentally and I think I should do something and that I have a duty to report that to a higher authority.Danneels: What would you really want? I know the story, he has already told me. You should not tell me it all again, but what would you really want me to do?
Nephew: I give the responsibility to you, I cannot decide, I have this burden on my shoulders and I want rid myself of this burden and to give that burden to you. That is my intention.

Danneels: Yes …

Nephew: And you do what you think should be done, because I do not know how the whole system works, so …

Danneels: Do you want it to be published, anyway?

Nephew: Euuhm … I leave it to you.

Danneels: Actually, Monsignor will resign next year, would it actually be better that you wait.

Nephew: No, no, no.






(snip)


Nephew: I want to go through it all. For him the only honest and the easiest way to die with an easy conscience would be to give up his responsibilities. It will be much easier for him. And before you actually go through the mud and everything you need to undergo, and then you come to terms with yourself.Danneels: That’s what prompted strong. It is quite strong to say: you have publicly humiliated for everyone.

Nephew: You need to anyway. He should just resign.

Danneels:

Ah yes, that’s the humiliation that he must resign, hey.Nephew: Yes yes.

Danneels: Then people say: why should he resign? So, they’re going to find out. you know, why he resigned they’re going to find out. Which is quite a burden …

Nephew: But why are you so sorry for him and not me?

Danneels: I can tell you that.

Nephew: You always try to defend him, I thought I was going to have some support, I must defend myself here from things I cannot do anything about.

Danneels: No, I’m not saying anything you can do anything about it but something should be done differently.

Nephew: But what should be done?

Danneels: Questions of forgiveness anyway.

Nephew: And that was enough for you

Danneels: When you say …

Nephew: Why should I? He had been able to do that much earlier but it was not necessary. When I was 18, my father told him. We are now 25 years on and he has never asked forgiveness, why could he not do that much earlier, then it might never have come this far.

No, I will not accept that he just disappears from the scene in heavenly glory and that it is the matter finished. He has his responsibility that he has taken all this and I wish that you now take your responsibility as the superior. That is my intention.


Danneels: Yes, I can do no wrong because I did not.









(snip)

Danneels: Well, I would suggest that we might be better to wait for a date next year when he would usually resign.

Nephew: No, I do not agree, and him taking glory in saying goodbye, no I cannot. The cover-up technique that you have used for so many years as you have, I’ll have to learn to live with, but eh


(snip)Danneels: But I have no authority over Monsignor Vangheluwe.
Nephew: And who did?

Danneels: Actually, no one except the Pope.


(snip)








Nephew: Then perhaps you can go through and that you can arrange an appointment with the Pope and then we’ll go there. It is already 42 years that I suffer and I want no more, I can not stop, I can not, and I would not leave everything as it is.It has a very big impact in the family in everything in my relationship with my wife in everything, I’m tired of that life and that the matter remains so dominant, and I would agree to that. I have arrived at the age that I want my freedom for life.
Danneels: Actually, the first responsibility lies with him, he, rather than from his superiors.

Nephew: But if he does not want to do what has to be done …

Danneels: What do you ask of him? that he would resign?

Nephew: But he must decide, I just want to tell, that’s it. You wish me to say something that I cannot say I can not, I do not know how to proceed, or should I look for another way for me to obtain closure.

And today I had demanded that he confess openly speaks to the family, saying that he did those things. While everyone is there.

Danneels: He will do that.

Nephew: I had expected for today, we can directly do better and we’ll see, if nothing happens, then I go to the pope.

Danneels: The pope is not so easy to get though to …


(snip)








Danneels: I do not know if it would benefit either you or him to give a dramatic deadline.Nephew: I still think that the victim’s privacy should be respected, there should not be no names used.
Danneels: But yes, you put him in a quandary.

Nephew: I have all my life been in a difficult position, I’m not planning to have pity, I want that fight to finish, it has done for me, that I finally once again have a clean slate for myself that I do what I want to do.

I was in a Catholic school and I was brought up Catholic. I’m very upset with that institute, I also read the newspapers, so I think I have an obligation to do so. How can I get my children to believe in something with such a background that will not move on, then you just move straight into the next generation. And everything remains as it is, and that is not the intention of the church.

Danneels: No, it’s not the intention to discredit someone?

Nephew: Give me another solution, I should forgive and it is resolved.

Danneels: No, no, no.

Nephew: And he goes on as normal.

Danneels: You could also say he will resign next year anyway, and that for example, he says, look, I no longer go on television and such. With those things, and you come to a year.

Nephew: No, I want it placed in your hands and then you decide.

Danneels: You can grab us and blackmail, hey, and say look, you have to do something.

Nephew: What?

Danneels: You can blackmail and say, look if you do not say …

Nephew: Why should I want to blackmail? I’m not going to blackmail.

Danneels: Well, if you for example say they do nothing, and you bring it to public notice …


(snip)






Nephew:

We were forced to be married by him, for everything, the children were baptized by him, how can I explain to them? I now have my oldest son who asked yesterday: Look, what happened with me. They do not yet know what happened? That is still true, that cannot continue, and waiting for everything to retutn to the same situation- that’s still no solution?Danneels: Ah! We can also, as I said, ask forgiveness and give forgiveness, which is also a possibility.

Nephew:
That’s not possible for me, I do not believe anymore, as you do in these things, no, it is not possible.

That’s not possible for me, I do not believe anymore, as you do in these things, no, it is not possible.














Nephew: If I cause an accident, drunk, I will also be punished.Danneels: A punishment sentences. You have penalties that are public and private penalties, that’s a big difference huh. Your name gets out, pulled through the mud …
Nephew: My name?

Danneels: His name.


Nephew: He has ensured that my whole life is pulled through the mud. From 5 to 18 years old. Can you imagine?







After this failed meeting a friend of the nephew e-mailed all the bishops of Belgium and revealed the abuse. The nephew very wisely secretly taped this meeting. He released the transcript after the Belgian bishops claimed that he was trying to blackmail them.

Vangheluwe publicly admitted the abuse and resigned:

”When I was still just a priest, and for a certain period at the beginning of my episcopate, I sexually abused a minor from my immediate environment,”

Danneels successor, Leonard, said this about the resignation of the confessed incestuous child abuser:

that Vangheluwe was known as a “great brother and dynamic bishop” who was highly appreciated within the Belgian Church

Several things come through in this transcript: Cardinal Danneels, a hero of the progressive wing of the Church, is as much a clericalist as the most hidebound Italian cardinal. His sole concern is protecting the career and reputation of a bishop. The pain of the victim, a mere layman, is invisible to Danneels, whose only concern is with a fellow cleric.

Danneels disclaims all responsibility – only the pope can do anything – but of course it is very difficult to arrange a meeting with the pope.

Vangheluwe is unrepentant. He has never asked for forgiveness. He nephew correctly states that the only way to obtain forgiveness is for Vangheluwe to take responsibility for what he has done, and Vangheluwe has refused to do that his whole life.

The nephew is a classic example of the Stockholm syndrome. He let his abuser witness his marriage and baptize his children. The hierarchy has perfected the technique of cultivating the Stockholm syndrome among victims of clerical abuse.

Danneels tries to manipulate the nephew but claiming that the nephew is blackmailing Danneels by saying he will go public unless V resigns. Danneels tells the victim that he - the victim - should ask for forgiveness. The misuse of demands to forgive to protect clerical malefactors will weigh heavy on the scales at the Day of Judgment.

Belgian law states that the victim of sexual abuse has ten years after he reaches 18 to report the abuse. Since the nephew was under pressure from his family to keep quiet, he did not report in that time period and Vangheluwe cannot be criminally prosecuted.

The police raid that seized documents form Danneels residence was pronounced illegal and the documents cannot be used in prosecutions.


No cleric in Belgium will be inconvenienced by an earthly court of law. The hierarchy are no doubt congratulating themselves on their cleverness in manipulating the situation. We shall see whether they can manipulate the Great Assizes.

I will not resign, insists a defiant Cardinal Brady

belfasttelegraph.co.uk
I will not resign, insists a defiant Cardinal Brady
Monday, 30 August 2010


Cardinal Sean Brady has insisted he will not resign.


Speaking in Ennis, Co Clare, the Archbishop of Armagh quashed rumours circulating in clerical circles that he had offered his resignation to Pope Benedict.

According to some Church sources, Ireland’s Catholic Primate travelled to Rome before Easter to tender his resignation.

This was shortly after it emerged last spring that, 35 years ago when a canon law expert in his native Cavan, he had sworn two children to silence about their horrendous abuse by notorious paedophile monk Brendan Smyth.

After avoiding media comment for six months, Cardinal Brady yesterday broke his silence to say: “This is not true about my resigning. I am not resigning.”

The cardinal revealed that he will have the opportunity to meet Pope Benedict next month during the pontiff's visit to Scotland and England.

“I plan to accompany Pope Benedict in Edinburgh, Glasgow, London and Birmingham,” he said.

However, the cardinal refused to answer questions about last week's sensational revelations that his predecessor, Cardinal William Conway, transferred a Derry priest — believed to be responsible for the Claudy bombing that killed nine innocent people in 1972 — across the border to a remote Donegal parish.

An investigation by the Police Ombudsman in Northern Ireland published last week showed that at the request of the Government and RUC, Cardinal Conway colluded in giving the priest the church's sanctuary rather than urging them to arrest the priest for suspected murders.

The cardinal was speaking yesterday ahead of the consecration as Bishop of Killaloe of missionary priest Kieran O'Reilly in succession to Bishop Willie Walsh.

Later, dressed in his crimson robes, Cardinal Brady presided at a colourful ceremony of dance and song in the Cathedral of St Peter and Paul in Ennis, where he received a standing ovation from the large congregation which included the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Micheal Martin.

As damaging secret tapes emerge, Belgian Cardinal says he was 'naive' to meet sex abuse victim

As damaging secret tapes emerge, Belgian Cardinal says he was 'naive' to meet sex abuse victim
By The Associated Press (CP) – 2 hours ago

BRUSSELS — A spokesman for the former head of the Belgian Roman Catholic Church says his boss has acknowledged being "naive" in attending a meeting with a victim of an abusive bishop.

In that meeting, retired Cardinal Godfried Danneels suggested keeping a sexual molestation case secret until the bishop retired. The victim had taped the meeting and the conversation was published in two newspapers over the weekend.

Danneels spokesman Toon Osaer says Danneels was unprepared for the meeting. After the tapes' publication, he has faced criticism for his suggestion the abuse be kept secret.

Also Monday, Belgian church spokesman Jurgen Mettepenningen said the church was preparing a new initiative to deal with the sex abuse issue.

Catholic bishop urged to help law enforcement

Catholic bishop urged to help law enforcement

Predator priest who worked in NH faces criminal prosecution

A court hearing in his case in Virginia is set for later this week

Victims & concerned parishioners want Bishop McCormack to act

They also prod college to contact alums about accused pedophile

"Help find others who were hurt," groups ask "and urge them to call police"

WHAT
Holding signs at a sidewalk news conference, concerned Catholics & clergy sex abuse victims will urge
-- a New Hampshire college to reach out to anyone hurt by a recently-arrested predator priest,
-- New Hampshire's bishop to do likewise (via his diocesan website and parish bulletins), and
-- college students and staff to ask peers and colleagues if they saw, suspected or suffered sexual misdeeds by the priest, and, if so, to immediately contact police and prosecutors.

WHEN
Monday, August 30, 1:00 p.m.

WHERE
Outside the Catholic diocesan headquarters (chancery), 153 Ash Street, in downtown Manchester NH

WHO
Two lay Catholic parishioners who belong to a group called NH Voice of the Faithful and a clergy sex abuse victim who belong to a support group called SNAP (Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests).

WHY:
Last month, Fr. Felix C. Owino was arrested in Fairfax VA and charged with “aggravated sexual battery” of a girl under 13. From 2005 to 2007, he worked at Magdalen College in New Hampshire as chaplain for the students, faculty, staff, families, and high school summer youth programs. Owino was also a professor and academic adviser to individual students and provided private spiritual direction to students.

SNAP and VOTF are prodding Manchester Bishop John McCormack and Magdalen College President Jeffrey Karls to ‘come clean’ about any allegations of sexual abuse while Owino worked in New Hampshire. They also want church and college officials to help law enforcement by aggressively seeking out others with information about Owino’s crimes.

The groups are also urging any current and former students and employees at the college to ask their colleagues about Owino, They believe that anyone who has seen, suspected or suffered Owino’s misdeeds should come forward, call police, protect others and start healing.

Sometimes, when one victim of a predator discloses, others sit back and assume he’ll be convicted. But the two groups feel it's important for everyone with information about clergy sex crimes to contact law enforcement. Often, child molesting clerics get top notch defense lawyers who successfully exploit legal technicalities and escape conviction or get lenient sentences, the groups maintain.

SNAP is doing a similar event today in the Allentown PA diocese where Owino also worked.

Owino is a native of Nairobi, Kenya. A photo of him is available at BishopAccountability.org.

Protest the Pope! Be there!

Protest the Pope! Be there!
Join the big march through London to oppose the state visit of Joseph Ratzinger to the UK!



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On the night before the big march, join guest host Peter Tatchell for a for a night of comedy, music and secular revelry as we say “NOPE!” to the Pope during his visit to the UK. Visit the event’s page.


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Why “Protest the Pope”?
The diverse groups who support this campaign have many different reasons for not approving of the State Visit to the UK by the Pope in September 2010. They all however share the following view:

•That the Pope, as a citizen of Europe and the leader of a religion with many adherents in the UK, is of course free to enter and tour our country.
•However, as well as a religious leader, the Pope is a head of state and the state and organisation of which he is head has been responsible for:
1.opposing the distribution of condoms and so increasing large families in poor countries and the spread of AIDS
2.promoting segregated education
3.denying abortion to even the most vulnerable women
4.opposing equal rights for lesbians, gay, bisexual and transgender people
5.failing to address the many cases of abuse of children within its own organisation.
6.rehabilitating the holocaust denier bishop Richard Williamson and the appeaser of Hitler, the war-time Pope, Pius XII.
•The state of which the Pope is the head has also resisted signing many major human rights treaties and has formed its own treaties (‘concordats’) with many states which negatively affect the human rights of citizens of those states.
•As a head of state, the Pope is an unsuitable guest of the UK government and should not be accorded the honour and recognition of a state visit to our country.
If you believe, as we do, that the Pope should not come to the UK without hearing from the millions of people who reject his harsh, intolerant views and the practices and policies of the Vatican State please get involved.

Get involved
The purpose of this web-site is to provide a focal point and a resource for the many thousands of people who think that, as a head of state, the Pope is an unsuitable guest of the UK and should not be accorded the honour and recognition of a state visit to our country.

Use this site to get involved. It might be:



•You want to take part in an event or activity taking place near you – look at the Events Diary
•You want to publicise an event or activity you are organising on this site – contact us
•You want to be kept updated about the progress of the campaign and latest developments – sign up for News Updates, our periodic email bulletin and check our Blog
•You want some ideas for events or activities – see what others did on previous papal visits – Help get the message out there
•You want to get your point of view across to others – check out the FAQs , the Rap Sheet and our links
•You want to go online and find out what other people think – check our media page for Facebook, Twitter and news stories.

Maciel's Ghost Still Haunts the Castle

Maciel's Ghost Still Haunts the Castle
In many of the houses of the Legionaries of Christ, the portrait of their disgraced founder is still on display. And his system of power continues to function. The letter of accusation by a priest of the Legion to its leaders. But at the Vatican, they don't have any protectors anymore

by Sandro Magister Chiesa News

ROME, August 30, 2010 – The changing of the guard that is taking place at the top of the Vatican congregation for religious is making the heads of the Legionaries of Christ, the heirs of their disgraced founder Marcial Maciel (in the photo), even more nervous.

The prefect of the congregation, Cardinal Franc Rodé, who was their last major protector, is in fact being replaced for reasons of age. The name of his successor is not yet known. Meanwhile, however, the new secretary of the congregation has already been appointed.

He is Archbishop Joseph Tobin, born in the United States to a family of Irish descent, with pastoral experience among Spanish-speaking Catholics, previously the superior general of the Redemptorists, founded in the eighteenth century by Saint Alphonsus Maria de Liguori.

In an interview with John Allen of the "National Catholic Reporter" shortly after his appointment, Tobin said in regard to the Legionaries and the decisions about them made by Benedict XVI:

"A house of cards has been constructed in the media and elsewhere to portray Benedict XVI as somehow uncaring or soft on clerical sexual misconduct, but it has to answer the point that one of the first things he did as pope was to deal with Maciel. That action spoke volumes, because I had been in Rome and I saw the incredible clout Maciel had. The fact that Benedict did it, and did it quickly, was a clear signal that the pope is serious about correcting this thing. Theologically and spiritually, I think the Legionaries face enormous challenges, given how much religious life tends to stress the person and the inspiration of the founder. [...] And even affectively, it’s a massive blow."

In effect, in spite of the fact that the Vatican authorities did everything they could to cut off the ties between the Legionaries of Christ and their founder – to the point of calling his life, in a statement dated May 1, 2010, "devoid of scruples and authentic religious meaning" – the figure of Maciel continues to have visibility and weight in the daily life of their communities all over the world.

Moreover, if it is true that full powers in the governance of the Legion today belong only to the papal delegate, Archbishop Velasio De Paolis, the fact remains that yesterday's leaders are still in place, and maintain an extremely strong influence over many of the religious, on account of the complete communion of life that they shared with the founder.

They continue to say that they were always unaware of Maciel's disgraceful behavior, until after his death in 2008.

But the Vatican authorities don't see things the same way at all. They are increasingly convinced – and they made this known in the statement dated May 1 – that a "power system" and a "defense mechanism" aware of his misdeeds had been set up around Maciel over the years.

It is known that, protected by this complicity, Maciel had the gall to spend his weekends with his lovers and children in Spain and Mexico, at the expense of the Legion. To keep his lovers near him – passed off as benefactors – in the vacation house of the Legionaries on the Amalfi coast. To take his children to audience with John Paul II, without his knowledge. To proclaim himself innocent of the countless acts of sexual abuse against the young people and children who accused him.

The letter reproduced below – translated from the original Spanish – is proof of how much the figure of the founder continues to loom over the lives of his followers.

The author of the letter, Fr. Peter F. Byrne, is an Irish priest of the Legion who works in a parish in Cancún, Mexico, together with two other priests of his congregation.

In the letter, addressed to the director general of the Legion, Álvaro Corcuera, Fr. Byrne doesn't only complain that images of Maciel continue to appear everywhere and that his birthplace, Cotija de la Paz, continues to be a destination connected to his memory.

He also denounces the continuation among the Legionaries of a "horrible" practice in use with Maciel: that of drawing in persons and families, classified on the basis of wealth, for the sole purpose of raking in money.

From all of this, Fr. Byrne draws the forlorn conclusion that "the structures of power imposed by Maciel still remain in force today."

_______________



"EVERYTHING IS MOVING FORWARD AS BEFORE..."


Mexico, July 27, 2010

Most esteemed in Christ, dear Father Álvaro,

I address myself to you again with sorrow and shame. The sorrow is increased by the knowledge that sending you this letter will again be a useless effort, as have been other letters and other suggestions to you and to other superiors. But [my] silence would not be a good choice, because it would make me an accomplice of the one who abused and plundered the lives of our brothers.

In these days, I have had the honor of visiting some houses of the Legionaries (and of being received with great charity). I have witnessed with my own eyes that in most of them there are still photos of the village of Cotija, of the house in Cotija, and, incredibly, in three places (San Salvador, Cancún, and Canada) there are photos of Fr. Maciel surrounded by the first followers or by the first groups of Legionaries.

How is this possible, Fr. Álvaro? What message are we sending to Fr. Maciel's victims? Is this the way to accept the [Vatican] statement of May 1, 2010? Fr. Álvaro, for the love of God and for the honor of those who suffered the horror of abuse, the agony of disdain and disregard, I beg you to order the removal of the photos of the author of the abuse from the home in which he was born, from the village in which he was raised, and from the institution in which those acts were committed, wounding the innocent and casting so much discredit upon the holy Church.

I likewise beg you to order that all of the spiritual retreats in Cotija take on a tone of reparation, that Fr. Maciel's body be moved from the central altar to one of the crypts to the side in which other Legionaries are buried (so that only Christ may be at the center).

I propose that the home of the deceased be turned into a home of reparation and perpetual adoration, and that the museum be turned into a museum to commemorate his victims and guarantee that they never be forgotten.

Finally, I propose that the house in the mountains (CCI) be given to the diocese to be used as a seminary or retreat house, or even as a place of rehabilitation for priests in the grip of alcohol or other vices.

In this way, we will make a gesture of reparation to the Church of Mexico, so discredited on our account.

I have also noticed that in Mexico, meetings are still being held among the leaders with the infamous lists that divide persons and families into triple-A, double-A, etcetera, and show the names of the priests charged with "grooming" these families and then tapping into their money.

Fr. Álvaro, this is an immoral practice that violates the principle according to which persons must never be used as means to an end. How can a priest approach a family with such a worldly intention? How can a priest use the sacraments, friendship, or spiritual direction with a secondary purpose?

This is a methodology that was institutionalized by the deceased founder, who lived a life without scruples. How can we reform the constitutions, when we are not even capable of abandoning practices that are so blatantly immoral? How will we identify a charism when we cannot identify real and proper injustices?

How can we have a culture of transparency and honesty when we continue to keep lists of persons divided into categories, and deal with them for financial reasons?

How can we convince people of our upright intentions when we are negotiating with them? How will people feel when they find out they are on these horrible lists?

In reality, Father, I don't expect any action [from you]. Nothing has changed among us during the whole period of crisis. All of the changes have come from the outside (the visitors, the Vatican, the pressure of the media or of the episcopal conferences).

Everything is moving forward as before – including the disgraceful photos of the abuser on the walls of the houses – to remind us that the structures of power imposed by Fr. Maciel still remain in force today. We continue to be Fr. Maciel's victims, because we have neither father nor pastor to pull us out of the swamp into which we have sunk.

Most affectionately in Christ,

Fr. Peter F. Byrne, L.C.

US legal firm hires private detective to track down defrocked Limerick priest

US legal firm hires private detective to track down defrocked Limerick priest

30 August 2010
By Anne Sheridan
THE SEARCH is again on to find a Limerick priest who was deported to Ireland 10 years ago after being jailed for abusing two boys.

The American law firm Manly, McGuire and Stewart, want to serve defrocked priest Oliver O'Grady with papers for a civil action on behalf of alleged victims.

In their quest to find the 65 year-old from Limerick city the firm hired a private detective to track him down.

Patrick Wall, Manly, McGuire and Stewart, arrived in Dublin last week, in a bid to serve O'Grady with new lawsuits of alleged child abuse in a Californian diocese.

In recent years he has been reported to be living in Limerick, Dublin and also Holland, and is now believed to be residing in a hostel in Dublin city centre.

The firm are trying to serve O'Grady with civil lawsuits, relating to the alleged abuse of three young boys and two young girls, from two different families, in the Californian diocese of Stockton.

O'Grady returned to live in the Mid-West in 2001, after being deported from the United States, where he was convicted on four counts of lewd and lascivious acts on two males.

He served half of a 14-year prison sentence, but in depositions he admitted to the rape, molestation and abuse of over 20 children from 1973 onwards.

The former priest is not listed on the Irish sex offenders' register as it only came into existence under the Sex Offenders Act 2001, and the register does not apply retrospectively. Mr Wall said he believes the gardai are in contact with O'Grady, however they have no obligation to pass on his whereabouts to the legal firm.

This summer O'Grady was due to receive a pension worth $100,000, or $800 a month upon reaching his retirement age.

Mr Wall, a former Roman Catholic Priest and Benedictine monk, has consulted on more than 200 cases of clerical abuse in the United States.

He has been pursuing the alleged child abuser for over a year and has urged he should be placed in a "locked-down psychiatric facility, where he won't pose a danger to children" and described him as "the Hannibal Lector of the clerical world."

Priest Goes On Trial In Spencer

Priest Goes On Trial In Spencer
Staff
Spencer
metronews.com

A Catholic priest is scheduled to go on trial beginning today in Roane County.
Cincinnati Priest Robert Poandl allegedly sexually assaulted and abused a boy when Poandl was at the Holy Redeemer Catholic Church Rectory in Spencer in 1991.
Investigators say the victim and his family had travelled to
Spencer to visit Poandl.
The alleged victim, now 28-years-old, came forward with the allegations earlier this year.
A Roane County Grand Jury indicted Poandl on charges of first degree sexual abuse, first degree sexual assault, and sexual abuse by a custodian.
A 12-member jury will be chosen to hear the case.
Poandl has not been allowed to perform the duties of a priest since the charges surfaced.

Evil priest shielded by Catholic Church

Evil priest shielded by Catholic Church
James Campbell From: Sunday Herald Sun August 29, 2010 12:00AM
Priest Kevin O'Donnell was jailed in 1995. Source: Herald Sun
THE Catholic Church denied a pedophile priest sexually abused two young sisters more than a decade after the man was jailed for attacking children over a period of 50 years.
The denial came despite an earlier letter written to the girls' parents by Cardinal George Pell, apologising for the priest's crimes and acknowledging the findings by the church's investigator that the cleric had raped both the children.

The revelations are contained in a new book by Chrissie Foster, a mother whose daughters were abused by Oakleigh priest Father Kevin O'Donnell in the 1980s and 1990s.

In 1995, O'Donnell became, at 78, the oldest man to be jailed in Victorian history after he admitted abusing 10 boys and two girls over a 31-year period. He is believed to have abused hundreds of children all over Victoria between 1942 and 1992.

Hell On The Way To Heaven, written by Ms Foster in collaboration with ABC journalist Paul Kennedy, chronicles her family's fight to obtain justice from church authorities on behalf of her daughters, Emma and Katie.

Emma died of a drug overdose in 2008 after years of drug addiction and mental illness caused by her abuse as a primary school student at the hands of O'Donnell.

The book also reveals that, in the year O'Donnell was jailed, lawyers for the Catholic Church accused a man - attacked by the cleric in 1972 when he was in grade 6 - of being guilty of contributory negligence because he:

FAILED "to take care of his safety";

DID NOT make any complaint at the time of the abuse; and,

LATER, failed to report O'Donnell's conduct to the authorities.The church's denial that Ms Foster's daughters had been abused by O'Donnell was made in 2004 in response to the Foster family's lawsuit against the church.

In a letter from lawyers acting for the Archdiocese of Melbourne, the Fosters were told that the defendants "do not admit that the plaintiffs were subjected to physical and/or sexual and/or psychological abuse while an infant by Kevin O'Donnell".

The denial came despite earlier findings by Peter O'Callaghan, QC, the church-appointed commissioner who investigates complaints against clerics, that both girls had been abused by O'Donnell.

It also came despite a letter to Emma Foster in 1988 from then Melbourne Archbishop Pell, in which he sought "to apologise to you and those around you for the wrongs you have suffered at the hands of Father Kevin O'Donnell".

O'Donnell was released from jail in late 1996 and died in March the following year.

The book also reveals the church recently made a compensation payment of $50,000 to a retiring priest who had worked for many years on behalf of clerical sexual abuse victims.

The payment to the priest came despite the church's refusal to make payments to the so-called "secondary victims" of sexually abusive clergy - and is $20,000 more than some child abuse victims have received from the church.

The book alleges that Mr O'Callaghan ordered the church to pay $50,000 to a priest who had worked on behalf of young sex abuse victims after the cleric became burnt out.

The payment was partly for "stress and strain" and was despite the fact the priest had not suffered from sexual abuse.

The payment was outside the terms of Mr O'Callaghan's appointment.

Is Pope Benedict's media team up to the challenge?

Is Pope Benedict's media team up to the challenge?
As the pontiff prepares for his visit to Britain next month, the capability of his press team is under scrutiny
Paul Donovan
The Guardian, Monday 30 August 2010
Pope John Paul II was seen as the great communicating pontiff, a man who went out from the Vatican to engage with the world. The message was clear and the symbolism spot on: remember him kneeling to kiss the ground when he came to the UK during the Falklands war in 1982? The present pope, Benedict XVI, could not be more different. A scholarly man who made his way as the previous pope's enforcer in the Vatican, he is not a natural communicator.

Benedict XVI's regime has seen several PR disasters: the Regensburg address in 2006, which was widely interpreted as an attack on Muslims, then the suggestion that saving humanity from homosexuality was as important as saving the rainforest, and the decision to pardon Richard Williamson, the Holocaust-denying British bishop.

Those close to the inner sanctum of the church say the problem is that too many people seem to be participating in communicating the message. Statements are disjointed, as if several contributors have been involved and then it has all been hacked together by the Vatican press officer, Father Federico Lombardi. This is in marked contrast to the way the media operation worked under John Paul II, when the legendary press secretary Joaquín Navarro-Valls handled the operation. He was present at all meetings and had control of the message – a very modern spin doctor.

Abuse scandals

However, the mishaps experienced so far by the present pope and his media team slide into insignificance when compared with the potential damage that mishandling of the international child abuse scandal could wreak. Earlier in the year, PR weaknesses were exposed as abuse cases were uncovered in America, Germany, Austria, Holland, Ireland and Belgium.

Abuse appeared endemic in the operation of the church. The global media sensed blood as the crisis seemed to move closer to the pope himself. The first response from the Vatican was to try to shoot the messenger, accusing the media of dishonest reporting. The stories were said to be part of an "obvious and shameful" campaign to "damage" Pope Benedict "at all costs".

As the crisis gathered momentum, there were unhelpful contributions from Father Rainero Cantalamessa, the preacher at the pontifical household, who compared attacks on the pope to antisemitism, and from Cardinal Angelo Sodano, the dean of the college of cardinals, referring to "petty gossip". Finally, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, the Vatican's secretary of state, suggested a link between paedophilia and homosexuality. Against this background, the first visit of a pope to Britain as a head of state was announced.

The trip, from 16-19 September, offers plenty of potential pitfalls, with the atheists Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens claiming to be investigating the possibility of arresting the pope over allegations that he was aware of child abuse in the church and did nothing. Then there is the human rights activist Peter Tatchell's "protest the pope" campaign, and the National Secular Society's constant questioning of the £19m cost of the visit.

The attitude of the British government may be one of welcome, but hostility does not lie far below the surface in Whitehall, as shown by the infamous "blue-sky thinking" Foreign Office memo in April that suggested a brand of condoms be named after the pope and that he should visit an abortion clinic as part of the visit. The handling of the facetious memo was one of the more astute pieces of public relations from the church, which in effect turned the other cheek in public while in private obtaining more concessions regarding the costs of the papal visit from a government keen to make amends.

Lack of experience

The consistent strand that runs through 10 years of changes in official Catholic communications is a lack of people involved who have worked as journalists. The approach of the Catholic Communications Network (CCN) has been, on the whole, professional but reactive. It never seeks to set the agenda. This allows some of the more mischievous in the media to portray the church as "sex-crazed", interested only in issues such as abortion, birth control and civil partnerships. There has, however, been some improvement since Vincent Nichols took over from Cormac Murphy-O'Connor as the archbishop of Westminster last year. More comfortable with the media than his predecessor, Nichols has spoken out on issues as varied as the economic crisis and youth violence.

One commentator on all things Catholic is Cristina Odone, the former editor of the Catholic Herald, who is a regular talking head, particularly on the BBC, despite having left the editor's chair more than a decade ago. It has no doubt been in part to fill the vacuum that Odone and other chatterers have utilised that Austen Ivereigh, Murphy-O'Connor's former press secretary, and Jack Valero, the director of Opus Dei in the UK, have combined with the Catholic Union to create Catholic Voices. Ivereigh says the model for Voices "is inspired by the experience of the Da Vinci Code Response Group in 2006, when the release of the Dan Brown film created a similar demand for Catholics to be ready to discuss its claims, however far-fetched".

The fact that the media may not want to hear from these people seems to have escaped the organisers' notice. It is good copy to get the most outrageous Catholic voices who can be found on issues such as abortion, civil partnerships and child abuse. Many in the media are not interested in a rational voice from the Catholic church – it's not good box office. What is more, Catholic Voices has already hit choppy waters, being accused of ageism because of its upper age limit of 40, and a rival group called Catholic Voices for Reform has already been set up.

The question is: how will this all pan out? The worst-case scenario for the Catholic church here is that before the pope's visit journalists discover recent abuse cases. This would shoot to pieces the strategy that has attempted to separate the church in the UK from the rest of the world on child abuse, arguing it acted properly and put in place rigid guidelines.

CCN is certainly confident, issuing weekly communiques counting down the days until the pope arrives. However, if abuse cases surface from the past 10 years and a Catholic Voices representative ends up pitched against Dawkins or a Catholic Voices for Reform sharpshooter, anything could happen. In that situation, prayers may prove not to be enough.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Diocese announces deacon's removal

Diocese announces deacon's removal
Published: 12:03 p.m., Sunday, August 29, 2010
ALBANY -- The Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany announced Sunday that it has removed a deacon from active ministry after determining there were reasonable grounds to believe he sexually abused a minor in the early 1990s prior to his training and ordination as a deacon.

A diocese news release said that the removal of deacon Angel Garcia was made on the recommendation of the diocese's Sexual Misconduct Review Board. Garcia has served as a deacon at the Church of the Holy Family on Central Avenue in Albany and as a chaplain at Greene Correctional Facility. Garcia is now banned from officiating at any sacraments and from wearing clerical garb in public.

The diocese statement said Garcia denies inappropriate contact with any youth.

Garcia's removal from ministry was announced at weekend masses at the Church of the Holy Family.

The statement said the diocese has a zero-tolerance policy for sexual abuse of minors by clergy and urged anyone who as a child was sexually abused by a Catholic priest or deacon to report the matter to a law enforcement agency or to the diocese. The diocese said it investigates all allegations of sexual abuse by clergy.

The Albany Diocese Sexual Misconduct Review Board, which reviewed the allegation against Garcia, is made up of six lay people and two clergy members. It investigates allegations of sexual misconduct by clergy and makes recommendations to Bishop Howard Hubbard on appropriate actions.

Belgian sex abuse tapes amplify Catholic scandals

Belgian sex abuse tapes amplify Catholic scandals
Reuters
Leaked tapes of Belgium's Cardinal Godfried Danneels urging a victim not to reveal he was sexually abused by a bishop are some of the most damaging documents to emerge in the scandal rocking the Roman Catholic Church. Skip related content
The tapes, made secretly by the victim and published in two Belgian newspapers on Saturday, show the former primate of Belgium exhorting him to accept a private apology or wait one year until the bishop retired before making his case public.

Their meeting took place on April 8, at a time when the Vatican was under fire for allegedly covering up similar abuse cases by priests in other countries and shocking abuse claims dominated the news in several European states.

A spokesman for Danneels denied the once popular archbishop of Brussels wanted to cover up the case, which led to the sudden resignation of Bruges Bishop Roger Vangheluwe, 73, later that month, but the tapes show him arguing firmly for silence.

Belgian Church spokesman Jurgen Mettepenningen confirmed to Reuters that the transcripts in the Flemish dailies De Standaard and Het Nieuwsblad were genuine.

"From everything he says, it's clear that his only aim is to avoid having the case made public so many years after the facts. It is containment, nothing more," De Standaard wrote in a commentary accusing Danneels of lacking any compassion.

The Church has been hit over the past year by two detailed government reports on sexual abuse in Ireland and waves of abuse allegations in Germany, Switzerland, Austria, Belgium and the Netherlands. Five bishops have quit because of the scandals.

Church and legal documents published in the United States this spring showed how American bishops and the Vatican dealt with predator priests without informing police of their crimes.

RARE VERBATIM RECORD

The Belgian tapes stand out as a rare verbatim record of how a leading Catholic prelate tried to persuade the victim, a 42-year-old nephew of Vangheluwe, to keep the case quiet.

They emerged as a judicial probe into the scandal teetered on the edge of collapse after reports that a June 24 police raid on Church offices and Danneels's apartment to seize files and computers was illegal and the documents could not be used.

In their one-on-one meeting, the victim says he feels a duty to report the case to the Church hierarchy and asks Danneels to help. The cardinal responds by urging him not to go public.

"The bishop will resign next year, so actually it would be better for you to wait," the cardinal says. "I don't think you'd do yourself or him a favour by shouting this from the rooftops."

The man pleads for help but Danneels, 77, who had stepped down as Brussels archbishop in January, says he cannot discipline Vangheluwe or inform higher authorities, including Pope Benedict. The bishop should turn himself in, he says.

Danneels warns the victim against trying to blackmail the Church and urges him to seek forgiveness, accept a private apology from the bishop and not drag "his name through the mud."

"He has dragged my whole life through the mud, from 5 until 18 years old," says the victim, who denies he wants to blackmail anyone. "Why do you feel so sorry for him and not for me?"

SECOND TAPE

In a second tape, Danneels and Vangheluwe meet the victim and one of his relatives. The bishop apologises and says he has searched for years for a way to make up for his misdeeds.

"This is unsolvable," the relative replies. "You've torn our family completely apart."

Vangheluwe resigned on April 23, admitting he had sexually abused "a boy in my entourage" about 20 years earlier. According to De Standaard, he did this after a relative of the victim emailed all Belgian bishops demanding he quit by late May.

The newspaper said the victim decided to publish the tapes to counter allegations he had tried to blackmail Vangheluwe into paying hush money.

In his defence, Danneels's spokesman Toon Osaer said the cardinal never meant to cover up the case and had spoken about it at an April 24 news conference.

Belgian media stressed that Danneels had told journalists his role at the April 8 meeting was to listen to the victim's case and did not mention his bid to persuade him to keep quiet.

(Additional reporting by Juliana von Reppert-Bismarck, editing by Tim Pearce)

Church admits allegations over bishop

Church admits allegations over bishop

29-08-2010


The Roman Catholic church in Belgium has admitted that its former head tried to persuade a man to delay making public that a bishop had sexually abused him as a child.
The Church confirmed the accuracy of transcripts published in Belgian newspapers of a meeting between Cardinal Godfried Danneels, the victim, and the bishop who abused him.

Cardinal Danneels suggested that the victim should accept an apology, or wait until the bishop had retired before making his disclosure.

Orthodox oppose education training courses

Orthodox oppose education training courses
By Simon Rocker thejc.com
Created 26 Aug 2010 - 2:21pm

UK newsCharedi Judaism
Training courses for strictly Orthodox nursery school teachers have come under renewed attack because of material relating to child abuse.

Opponents have circulated a letter from the Rabbinical Council of the Union of Orthodox Hebrew Congregations warning of the danger of NVQ courses.

But Hindy Lew, manager of Vista Education and Training, one of the institutions which runs NVQ courses for the Charedi community, said: "The way we teach it, there is no reason for people to be agitating against it."

The letter appears similar to one issued in March last year signed by the secretary of the Rabbinical Council, Rabbi David Halpern: the latest copy obtained by the JC, however, has its date blotted out.

Its distribution illustrates differences of opinion within the strictly Orthodox community over how far to go in meeting requirements for secular qualifications.

According to government rules, half the staff in a nursery school must be trained to at least NVQ level two and at least one member should have attended a course on child protection.

While the rabbinical council may be concerned, the official rabbinate of the Union has not issued any ruling against the NVQ courses. The council is a forum, whereas the rabbinate represents its religious authority.

Mrs Lew said that about 75 students a year from London's strictly Orthodox community were attending Vista's NVQ courses. "Provided they are taught by people who understand the community, there is no problem," she said.

Vista, which has run courses for many years, now holds classes at the new Lubavitch Children's Centre in Stamford Hill, North London.

Cache, the agency which validates children's care and development courses, has rated Vista courses as outstanding for a second successive year in a row.

Church fails to verify priest’s status

Church fails to verify priest’s status
August 29, 2010 ljworld.com

New statements from Catholic Church officials fail to verify the status of a former Kansas priest who was “credibly accused” of sexual abuse.

Orestes Huerta, a Catholic priest who served temporarily in the Dodge City diocese, was named by church officials last May as one of three priests who had worked in the diocese and had “credible” allegations of sexual abuse of minors made against them.

In July, a Journal-World article revealed that when Huerta left the United States, he returned to the Phillipines, where he remains in active ministry with the Diocese of Boac.

On Tuesday, an article by the Catholic News Service reported that the bishop of Boac said he would not investigate sexual abuse allegations made against Huerta “based on hazy and unverified reports from the Internet.”

In a phone interview, Reynaldo Evangelista, bishop of Boac diocese, told the Journal-World that Huerta did not have a pastoral assignment, but resided at a diocesan pastoral center and continues to perform Mass. However, Evangelista would not comment on allegations of sexual abuse against Huerta and would not say whether Huerta is prohibited from contact with children.

Huerta’s case, detailed as part of a follow-up to a Journal-World feature in June on sexual abuse in the Kansas Catholic Church, highlights a loophole in reforms within the church designed to address sexual abuse, said Teresa Kettelkamp, director of the U.S. Catholic Conference of Bishops. Kettelkamp’s organization created the current reforms in the church following the national sexual abuse scandal in 2002.

In the U.S., if allegations of sexual abuse committed by a priest are substantiated by an independent review board, that priest is removed from ministry. That does not pertain to dioceses in other countries, Kettelkamp said.

“They flee. ... They run back,” said Kettelkamp of priests who leave the U.S. after sexual abuse allegations surface.

That situation could place more children in danger, she said. “If (a priest) does have a pedophiliac mindset, he’s not going to stop,” she said. “That’s what predators do.”

Spiritual works that don't flinch from taboo themes

Spiritual works that don't flinch from taboo themes
Steve Meacham Sydney Morning Herald
August 28, 2010

"It is not politically correct art, but thank God for that" ... Rodney Pople in his Marrickville studio with his Cardinal with Altar Boy. Photo: Tamara Dean

RODNEY POPLE'S painting is meant to be provocative. A headless Roman Catholic cardinal towers over the interior of one of Venice's baroque churches, surrounded by images of the Virgin Mary's innocence.

But in the cardinal's lap - echoing the classic pieta pose of the crucified Messiah - is an altar boy, his genitals partly exposed as he offers his own innocence to the figure of religious authority.

Yes, it's Blake prize time again. Australia's foremost award ''for contemporary religious and spiritual art'' is in its 59th year and worth $20,000 to the 2010 winner. And Pople, a veteran painter, sculptor and photographer, is this year's main talking point.

Advertisement: Story continues below
Rew Hanks's examination of Australian attitudes to women.
His mixed media work - part photomontage, part painting - is based on photographs Pople took of the interiors of San Zaccaria Church in Venice. But the completed work is prompted by the controversy about paedophilia within the Catholic Church.

''Yes, of course it is,'' Pople said. ''But I'd like to think my painting cuts through to deeper stuff. What the Catholic Church is going through now is unprecedented. But in a sense it has just been discovered.

''In reality, [sexual abuse] has been going on for centuries. My painting is saying, 'They think they can get away with it, that they are above the civil law.' I found that intriguing.

''It is not politically correct art, but thank God for that. Artists have a right, a duty, to be doing a bit of leading, because our politicians never will.''

Pople's painting is not only a finalist in this year's Blake exhibition, which opens on Friday at the National Art School in Darlinghurst, but one of the favourites for the main prize.

Sasha Grishin, the Sir William Dobell Professor of Art History at the Australian National University, was one of three judges. The others are Father Andrew Bullen, the rector of St Ignatius College, Riverview, and the artist Maria Fernanda Cardoso.

''Pople's work is a striking work,'' Professor Grishin said. ''Yes, it has a strong political message. Molestation of altar boys and other people within the church is very strong.

''But the way [Pople] has resolved the image, by showing the headless cardinal and the boy splayed out, surrounded by Venetian baroque images of innocence … sends a very shocking message.''

Grishin said the work addressed ''a very important theme in current religious discourse. Let's face it, [paedophilia in the Catholic Church] is the elephant in the room.

''Controversy is good. Bill Henson's imagery is in defence of innocence, in defence of childhood. In the same way, Rodney Pople, by shining a mirror at child abuse, tries to nullify it.

''It is confronting, but only because he is saying, 'Yes, child abuse is happening, and it has been happening for a very long time.''

Pople's painting is hardly alone in dealing with difficult subjects. Fiona White's graphic work on the use of tasers is based on what she describes as a ''horrific case from a remote Aboriginal community in Western Australia''. The Canberra artist Martin Paull reimagines the 14 Stations of the Cross as a pilgrimage through the Victorian bushfires.

Rew Hanks uses a particularly grumpy image of Germaine Greer to examine changing attitudes to women since European settlement of Australia.

However the most poignant work - given the catastrophe in Pakistan - is a collaborative work called My Prayer Is, which depicts 100 prayers from Pakistani women in the form of hand-embroidered buttons.

''There are a number of works which deal with controversial subject matter,'' said Rod Pattenden, the Blake Society chairman.

''It is part of the Blake's genius that it draws out works which address our culture. They are alluring and seductive, reinforcing our key values but also addressing things that are out on the edge.

''And that is what makes the Blake Prize so interesting. It is not about people's faces or gum trees. It is about issues which promote a passionate response.''

Belgian cardinal offered to hush up sex case

Belgian cardinal offered to hush up sex case
THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

BRUSSELS -- Roman Catholic Cardinal Godfried Danneels of Belgium offered to keep a sexual molestation case against a bishop secret until the bishop retired, an official said Saturday.

Toon Osaer, Danneels' spokesman, confirmed a report in Saturday's De Standaard newspaper about a secretly taped meeting that Danneels held on April 8 with Belgian Bishop Roger Vangheluwe and the bishop's sexual abuse victim.

Osaer told the VRT television and radio network that Danneels told the victim the case against Vangheluwe could be kept quiet until the bishop retired as scheduled a year later.

In the end, Vangheluwe resigned two weeks after the meeting, expressing sorrow for having abused the victim as a youngster for years, both while serving as a priest and a bishop.

Danneels retired as head of the Belgian Catholic church in January. But police later questioned him as a potential witness in the case and raided his home and office, confiscating documents and a personal computer.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Belgian cardinal urged victim to delay sex abuse statement

Belgian cardinal urged victim to delay sex abuse statement
Sat Aug 28, 2010 6:22pm GMT
BRUSSELS (Reuters) - The former head of Belgium's Catholic Church suggested to a sexual abuse victim it would be better to delay a public statement on the case until the bishop involved resigned in 2011, a Church spokesman said on Saturday.
Jurgen Mettepenningen confirmed transcripts in Belgium's De Standaard newspaper of a meeting Roman Catholic Cardinal Godfried Danneels held with Bishop Roger Vangheluwe and a sexual abuse victim of the bishop in April 2010.

"It is true this meeting and conversation took place, and that the transcript is correct," Mettepenningen told Reuters.

Danneels's spokesman Toon Osaer told Reuters the cardinal had not covered up anything and had openly spoken about the April 2010 meeting following Vangheluwe's resignation two weeks after the conversation took place.

In the transcripts, published in De Standaard on Saturday, Danneels suggested the victim should make no public statement about the abuse until Vangheluwe retired the following year.

"It might be better to wait for a date in the next year, when he is due to resign," Danneels told the victim, according to the transcripts.

He told the victim he believed a public announcement would not serve the interests of the victim or the bishop, the transcripts said.

"I don't know if there will be much to gain from making a lot of noise about this, neither for you nor for him."

Vangheluwe resigned after admitting having abused the victim for a number of years, both as a priest and a bishop.

Danneels retired in January and has been questioned as a witness in an investigation into sexual abuse by the Church in Belgium.

(Reporting by Juliane von Reppert-Bismarck; editing by Ralph Boulton)

Belgian cardinal offered to hush up sex case

Belgian cardinal offered to hush up sex case
Posted: Aug 28, 2010 5:08 PM
Updated: Aug 28, 2010 5:09 PM
BRUSSELS (AP) - Roman Catholic Cardinal Godfried Danneels of Belgium offered to keep a sexual molestation case against a bishop secret until the bishop retired, an official said Saturday.

Toon Osaer, Danneels' spokesman, confirmed a report in Saturday's De Standaard newspaper about a secretly taped meeting that Danneels held on April 8 with Belgian Bishop Roger Vangheluwe and the bishop's sexual abuse victim.

Osaer told the VRT television and radio network that Danneels told the victim the case against Vangheluwe could be kept quiet until the bishop retired as scheduled a year later.

In the end, Vangheluwe resigned two weeks after the meeting, expressing sorrow for having abused the victim as a youngster for years, both while serving as a priest and a bishop.

Danneels retired as head of the Belgian Catholic church in January. But police later questioned him as a potential witness in the case and raided his home and office, confiscating documents and a personal computer.

Copyright 2010 The Associated Press.

Priest rejected at Rantoul parish is pastor elsewhere

Priest rejected at Rantoul parish is pastor elsewhere
Sat, 08/28/2010 - 8:00am | Lynda Zimmer
RANTOUL – The Rev. Vien Van Do, a Catholic priest rejected as the pastor for a Rantoul church, remains a pastor of three parishes north of Peoria.

Earlier this summer, the St. Malachy Catholic Church congregation balked at accepting Do and instead now has the Rev. Steven Bird as pastor. Opposition was centered around a 1999 lawsuit in which a Monticello couple claimed Do, a native of Vietnam, had molested the woman, a former church secretary.

The suit against Do and the Peoria Diocese was settled in Peoria County Circuit Court in 2002. Details of the settlement were not made public.

Concerning priest appointments to St. Malachy, "It's the first one they've ever changed," said Phillip Warner, one of two church trustees. Warner has been a member of the church since 1943.

In May, Bishop Daniel Jenky, head of the Peoria Diocese, appointed Do to the Rantoul parish as of June 11. The News-Gazette reported June 11 that Do would be the new Rantoul priest.

The change, appointing Bird as of June 16, was not made public until an announcement published in The Catholic Post in late July.

Warner held parish meetings about the Do appointment in late May and early June, and area Catholics sent letters to the bishop in Peoria about their concerns.

"There was enough local people that had issues about him (Do)," Warner said. "People in Thomasboro and Ludlow, where he had been before, also had issues."

Do served parishes in Thomasboro and Ludlow from 1994 until his 1996 move to Monticello and Bement.

Contacted by telephone in Wyoming, Ill., Do, 59, said he had "no comment."

Do has served congregations at St. Dominic's, Wyoming; St. Patrick's, Camp Grove; and St. John's, Bradford, since 2006 and remains with those parishes.

In the lawsuit, the Monticello couple, whose names were withheld, claimed that "the inappropriate sexual contact progressed from repetitive hugging to unsolicited and unwanted kissing, touching and fondling of Jane Doe's breasts" at St. Philomena's, in 1997 and 1998. Do was the pastor at the Monticello church, plus St. Michael's in Bement at the time.

The suit also said a diocese official threatened the secretary's husband with the loss of his title as a deacon if he spoke publicly about the case.

At the time, the Most Rev. John J. Myers – now archbishop of Newark, N.J. – was bishop of Peoria.

A Springfield lawyer for the couple did not return repeated calls for comment.

The diocese denied the allegations, according to Associated Press articles about the lawsuit, and put Do on a temporary leave of absence in 1998.

Do underwent counseling and was "judged fit to return to work," according to diocese comments to the AP at the time.

The current directory of the diocese said Do took another leave of absence, in 1999. In between his leaves, Do served as an assistant at St. Anthony's in Streator.

After his second leave of absence, Do worked in Peoria and Moline before moving to Wyoming.

The Peoria Diocese did not answer detailed questions about the case but issued the following statement from Monsignor Paul Showalter, vicar general of the diocese, this week:

"Father Vien Van Do is a priest in good standing. The changes to his assignment to St. Malachy Church in Rantoul were due to his desire to stay at his present assignment as well as routine personnel changes."

The St. Malachy trustee and an area monsignor have a different story about the change.

"When push came to shove, I got a hold of Monsignor (Albert) Hallin, vicar of Champaign (a group of 22 area churches) and he came up to talk to us," Warner said of a May meeting with the congregation.

In a telephone interview, Hallin described Do as "unfortunately, not familiar with American customs and kinds of distance required of people not married or related."

Hallin said the diocese settled the lawsuit and "impressed on him (Do) the fact that this (behavior) is not appropriate."

"When that (Do appointment) hit the (St. Malachy) community in Rantoul ... it didn't help that we (Catholics) have had more problems with clergy sexual abuse," Hallin said.

Hallin said he talked personally with the bishop.

"You don't tell the bishop what to do, but in most matters like this he asks, 'What do you think?' " Hallin said. "I said, 'It won't work (to appoint Do); you need to do something different.'"

"Then the bishop asked Father Bird and I think it's a marriage made in heaven," Hallin said. "He has enough personality, tact and quiet demeanor."

Bird, 45, was ordained in 2000. He has served parishes in Lincoln, Atlanta, Mason City, Moline, Mendota and Kewanee before taking a leave of absence. During the leave, "I was with the Dominicans in Cincinnati, Ohio," he said.

Evil priest shielded by Catholic Church

Evil priest shielded by Catholic Church
James Campbell
From: Sunday Herald Sun August 29, 2010 12:00AM
Priest Kevin O'Donnell was jailed in 1995. Source: Herald Sun
THE Catholic Church denied a pedophile priest sexually abused two young sisters more than a decade after the man was jailed for attacking children over a period of 50 years.
The denial came despite an earlier letter written to the girls' parents by Cardinal George Pell, apologising for the priest's crimes and acknowledging the findings by the church's investigator that the cleric had raped both the children.

The revelations are contained in a new book by Chrissie Foster, a mother whose daughters were abused by Oakleigh priest Father Kevin O'Donnell in the 1980s and 1990s.

In 1995, O'Donnell became, at 78, the oldest man to be jailed in Victorian history after he admitted abusing 10 boys and two girls over a 31-year period. He is believed to have abused hundreds of children all over Victoria between 1942 and 1992.

Hell On The Way To Heaven, written by Ms Foster in collaboration with ABC journalist Paul Kennedy, chronicles her family's fight to obtain justice from church authorities on behalf of her daughters, Emma and Katie.

Emma died of a drug overdose in 2008 after years of drug addiction and mental illness caused by her abuse as a primary school student at the hands of O'Donnell.

The book also reveals that, in the year O'Donnell was jailed, lawyers for the Catholic Church accused a man - attacked by the cleric in 1972 when he was in grade 6 - of being guilty of contributory negligence because he:

FAILED "to take care of his safety";

DID NOT make any complaint at the time of the abuse; and,

LATER, failed to report O'Donnell's conduct to the authorities.The church's denial that Ms Foster's daughters had been abused by O'Donnell was made in 2004 in response to the Foster family's lawsuit against the church.

In a letter from lawyers acting for the Archdiocese of Melbourne, the Fosters were told that the defendants "do not admit that the plaintiffs were subjected to physical and/or sexual and/or psychological abuse while an infant by Kevin O'Donnell".

The denial came despite earlier findings by Peter O'Callaghan, QC, the church-appointed commissioner who investigates complaints against clerics, that both girls had been abused by O'Donnell.

It also came despite a letter to Emma Foster in 1988 from then Melbourne Archbishop Pell, in which he sought "to apologise to you and those around you for the wrongs you have suffered at the hands of Father Kevin O'Donnell".

O'Donnell was released from jail in late 1996 and died in March the following year.

The book also reveals the church recently made a compensation payment of $50,000 to a retiring priest who had worked for many years on behalf of clerical sexual abuse victims.

The payment to the priest came despite the church's refusal to make payments to the so-called "secondary victims" of sexually abusive clergy - and is $20,000 more than some child abuse victims have received from the church.

The book alleges that Mr O'Callaghan ordered the church to pay $50,000 to a priest who had worked on behalf of young sex abuse victims after the cleric became burnt out.

The payment was partly for "stress and strain" and was despite the fact the priest had not suffered from sexual abuse.

The payment was outside the terms of Mr O'Callaghan's appointment.

Victims want Catholic officials fired

Victims want Catholic officials fired

They kept quiet about sex misconduct allegations

Suspected teacher was kept on the job for months

State officials disciplined him but parents weren’t told

He had “improper relationship” with high school girl

SNAP to hand out leaflets to parishioners leaving mass

WHAT
As parishioners leave mass, clergy sex abuse victims and their supporters will hand out fliers about two Catholic school staffers who recently resigned because of a scandal. The leaflets will blast five Toledo Catholic officials who kept quiet for months about suspected sexual misconduct by a parochial teacher (even after state education officials disciplined him).The fliers will also urge Toledo’s bishop to
-- fire each of them,
-- explain and apologize to parents for their recklessness and secrecy, and
-- aggressively seek out other school students and staff who may have seen, suspected or suffered the teacher’s misdeeds or his supervisors’ cover ups, and urge them to call police.

WHEN
Sunday, Aug. 29, at 11:30 a.m.

WHERE
Outside Our Lady, Queen of the Most Holy Rosary Cathedral, 2535 Collingwood Blvd. in Toledo, OH (419 244 9575, http://www.rosarycathedral.org/)

WHO
Two- three victims of sexual abuse by clerics and their supporters including a Toledo native who founded the support group called SNAP, Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests.

WHY
Two weeks ago, a Catholic school counselor resigned his position at a school in Fremont. Starting in October 2009, Toledo Catholic officials secretly investigated him and in March 2010 state officials sanctioned him for "failing to maintain appropriate student-teacher boundaries." Still, a Catholic principal deceitfully urged a public school to rehire him, putting innocent kids at risk of child sex crimes. (That principal, Mike Gabel, also just resigned.)

Kevin Yeckley is a counselor and coach who has admitted “periodically” hugging a girl, hiring her, working “alone for several consecutive Saturdays” with her and telling her “he was . . .having uncomfortable feelings for her.” But SNAP believes the main issue is not Yeckley’s misconduct but that of church and school supervisors who, SNAP feels, endangered kids by keeping quiet for months about Yeckley’s misdeeds. SNAP wants Toledo Bishop Leonard Blaire to fire them.

Church officials admit that in March 2009, the victims told a teacher about what Yeckley said to her but their investigation only started in October, some six or seven months later. (According to The News-Messenger newspaper, “The teacher told assistant principal Deb Streacker, who told Principal Mike Gabel, who told Catholic schools superintendent Jack Altenburger, who told diocesan investigator Frank DiLallo, who met with Yeckley along with Toledo diocesan human resources director Greg Reed.

SNAP feels the case again shows Catholic officials putting their reputations and careers above the well-being of children. SNAP is urging every person – parent, student or staff – who saw or suspected misdeeds by Yeckley to call secular authorities, not church authorities.

Martin is losing his battle to reform Irish church

Martin is losing his battle to reform Irish church
ARCHBISHOP Diarmuid Martin's speech in Italy on Tuesday went a long way towards confirming what so many of us had suspected: that he is losing the battle for reform of the Catholic Church in Ireland, and that he knows it.

It is nothing short of tragic that a man of such human and intellectual qualities should confess to discouragement. Tragic not only for him, but for a country that has lost faith in its institutions. All institutions need constant reform and renewal, and the alternative to reform is not the preservation of the old system but its inevitable decline.

One may say, with much truth, that the church has brought its woes upon itself, and that the rot set in a very long time ago. No need to look back over the history of two centuries and more -- one modern example will suffice.

One of the archbishop's most famous predecessors, John Charles McQuaid, came home from the Second Vatican Council in the 1960s and assured his people that nothing much had happened and they could rest secure in the tranquillity of their "Christian lives". He himself rested secure in the belief that nothing had happened to disturb the ambitions to which he had devoted his life -- thought control and the dumbing down, often outright suppression, of debate.

Looked at -- as I by natural inclination tend to do -- in political terms, this was decidedly inaccurate.

Politically speaking, the Catholic Church worldwide has undergone a revolution and a counter-revolution. Admittedly the revolution never came to very much, but the establishment of the principle of "collegiality" could have diminished the overwhelming power of the papacy and the medieval-style court that surrounds every pope. Since then, we have gone back to the Middle Ages with a vengeance.

The church entered the 21st century, and has continued under the papacy of Benedict XVI, in a mode which some would call conservative and others would deem reactionary. This manifests itself supremely in its relations with other churches, especially the Anglican churches, and casts shadows over the Pope's forthcoming visit to England.

Rome refuses to recognise Anglican orders. Evidently, it fails to see how offensive it is to tell Anglican clergy that they are "not real priests". Real or not, many of these priests have defected to Rome, largely because of their opposition to ordaining women. They are permitted to retain their wives, although marriage is banned for the remainder. Catholic clergy and laity, meanwhile, are forbidden even to discuss the ordination of women.

Archbishop Martin deplores the wretched standard of religious discourse in Ireland. Of course he is right. It matches the dismal level of discourse on other topics, notably politics. But how could it be otherwise when the Catholic Church sets out to prevent it from taking place?

Most Irish people have no interest in serious discussion of religion. What turned the church's difficulties into a crisis was the clerical sex abuse scandal -- though not so much the scandal itself as the cover-ups, the denials, the inadequacies of the response.

We have seen something rather similar this week in the aftermath of the disclosures about the IRA priest Father James Chesney. The church, in the person of then Cardinal William Conway, colluded with the police and the then Northern Ireland Secretary William Whitelaw, to finesse the problem by transferring Fr Chesney to a different diocese.

That was both morally wrong and illegal. But it was defensible. To arrest Fr Chesney and put him on trial could have had catastrophic consequences. Not an easy case to argue, but the truth of the matter.

Interviewed on the subject, Cardinal Sean Brady appeared baffled, both in relation to the facts and how he should approach them. Bishop Edward Daly seemed to be 'in denial', admitting Fr Chesney's IRA sympathies while refusing to accept that he could have committed his alleged crimes.

One cannot withhold sympathy from decent men caught in a maze. But, at a time of crisis, the church -- like many other institutions and most of all like the political system -- needs leadership. Diarmuid Martin came to Dublin to offer leadership. He has been frustrated, and not only by his brother bishops.

Right-wing lay Catholic organisations are still a power in the land. They are much more clever than their counterparts in former times. And they have political sympathisers. Bertie Ahern as Taoiseach denounced "aggressive secularism", a phenomenon of whose existence I was previously unaware.

Who are their sympathisers now? Somebody is holding up the referendum on children's rights. There may be a simple explanation: that the Government wants to postpone an electoral contest of any kind for as long as possible. But I doubt it. I think it is significant that nobody seems to know, much less discuss, the issues. Fianna Fail TD Mary O'Rourke, a staunch supporter of the referendum, says that she doesn't know what the problem is.

And there is a bigger issue, on which debate has barely started: control of education.

It is bigger for us all because it raises so many other questions, especially social questions. It is bigger for the Catholic Church because its traditional control of education has so manifestly failed. The evidence is in Archbishop Martin's own phrase "theological illiterates".

Not all of this is the fault of the church. The education system as a whole needs reform, if not revolution. But the church is guilty of hammering doctrine into children's heads over the generations, only for the doctrine -- along with the principles underlying it -- to flit from their heads once they encountered mundane life. So long as that remains the case, we cannot have the elevated discourse Diarmuid Martin wants. We will not have a debate between traditionalists and secularists, only a leaderless confrontation between the committed and the indifferent.
©Independent.ie