Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Priest sex abuse linked to 13 suicides in Belgium

Priest sex abuse linked to 13 suicides in Belgium
By RAF CASERT Associated Press Writer © 2010 The Associated Press
Sept. 10, 2010, 11:13AM

BRUSSELS — Hundreds of sex abuse victims have come forward in Belgium with harrowing accounts of molestation by Catholic clergy that reportedly led to at least 13 suicides and affected children as young as two, a special commission said Friday.

Professor Peter Adriaenssens, chairman of the commission, said the abuse in Belgium may have been even more rampant than the 200-page report suggests.

"Reality is worse than what we present here today because not everyone shares such things automatically in a first contact with the commission," he told reporters.

Adriaenssens, a child psychiatrist who has worked with trauma victims for 23 years, said nothing had prepared him for the stories of abuse that blighted the lives of victims.

"We don't just talk about touching. We are talking about oral and anal abuse, forced masturbation and mutual masturbation. We talk about people who have gone through serious abuse," Adriaenssens said.

Most of the abuse happened during the 1960s and 1970s, he said.

The Roman Catholic Church in Belgium experienced the findings as "a body blow," Adriaenssens said.

Belgian Archbishop Andre-Joseph Leonard said he would react on Monday to the report. The Vatican had no immediate comment.

But Tournai Bishop Guy Harpigny, who deals with the issue for the church, praised Adriaenssens's work and told VRT television that "now, the time has come to listen to the victims."

The report's findings are the latest embarrassment for Belgium's Catholic Church, which is still reeling after the April resignation of Bruges Bishop Roger Vangheluwe, who admitted to having sexually abused a nephew for years when he was a priest and bishop.

Friday's report said 507 witnesses came forward with stories of molestation at the hands of clergy over the past decades. It says those abused included children who were two, four, five and six years old.

Family members or friends said 13 victims committed suicide that "was related to sexual abuse by clergy," the report said. Six other witnesses said they had attempted suicide.

"It is notable how often one issue comes back in the witness reports: the high number of suicides," the report said.

The number of those coming forward with their stories and testimonies, however, could be only a fraction of those actually abused, Adriaenssens said. He added several priests cooperated with the panel, which had the support of the Belgian church.

"We saw how priests, called up by the commission and asked to help seek the truth, were willing to set up the list of 10, 15, 20 victims they abused during boarding school while the commission knew only of one," he said.

Archbishop Leonard, who was appointed earlier this year, said he will come forward with a new initiative Monday on how to deal with cases of abuse, prevent further abuse and help victims seek closure.

His spokesman Jurgen Mettepenningen said the archbishop didn't comment Friday so as not to distract attention from the report's contents.

Leonard's predecessor, Cardinal Godfried Danneels, acknowledged Wednesday that damage control often took precedence in Belgium over concerns for victims in sexual abuse cases involving clergy.

The crisis in the Belgian church was exacerbated last month, when secret tapes were published of Danneels speaking with the man whom Vangheluwe abused and suggesting a cover-up until Vangheluwe was to retire in 2011. Danneels said Wednesday he should have asked Vangheluwe to resign immediately.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Ex-head of Belgian Catholic church: 'All too often' damage control key in discussing abuse

Ex-head of Belgian Catholic church: 'All too often' damage control key in discussing abuse
By Raf Casert (CP) – 1 day ago

BRUSSELS — The former head of Belgium's Roman Catholic Church acknowledged that "all too often" damage control took precedence over the concern for victims in sexual abuse cases involving clergy.

Retired Cardinal Godfried Danneels also told Wednesday's edition of Knack magazine he should have asked a bishop guilty of sexual abuse to resign immediately instead of suggesting to the victim that he agree to a cover up until the offending bishop retired.

In his first interview since the leaking of secret tapes of a conversation between Danneels and the victim in which he suggested to keep the abuse secret, Danneels said the damage done to the authority of the church by the bishop's abuse scandal was "indeed enormous."

Since the tapes' publication two weeks ago, Danneels, 77, has faced fierce criticism for his suggestion that, beyond pledging secrecy, the victim should consider forgiving the bishop, his uncle, as part of seeking closure.

"I did not ask for his resignation," Danneels said. "It is my biggest error in judgment."

Two weeks after the April 8 conversation, 73-year-old Bishop Roger Vangheluwe, of Bruges, resigned, expressing sorrow for having long abused his nephew, both as a priest and after becoming a bishop more than 20 years ago.

Danneels said he only knew a few days before the meeting of the bishop's abuse, which ended more than two decades ago. "Now I realize I should have asked Vangheluwe immediately to resign," he said.

In the conversation that the victim secretly taped, Danneels said: "In fact, the monsignor steps down next year. It would be better that you wait" to go public. He then suggested measures about how to keep it quiet before Vangheluwe's scheduled departure in 2011.

The scandal has had a huge impact on the Belgian church and has again highlighted the issue of sex abuse, which has undermined the credibility of the church in many Western nations.

"It is true that in the past, all too often, there was damage control. Sexual abuse was kept quiet and one thought that the problem could be solved by appointing the clergy in question someplace else," Danneels said. "It happened all too often."

Those attempts at damage control have now come back with a vengeance, to the extent that it undermines the credibility of the institution.

"The damage is indeed enormous," Danneels said of the scandal.

Copyright © 2010 The Canadian Press. All rights reserved.

Ore. abuse case lawyers want to question cardinals

Ore. abuse case lawyers want to question cardinals
By TIM FOUGHT
ASSOCIATED PRESS WRITER

PORTLAND, Ore. -- Lawyers for a man who wants to hold the Vatican accountable for the priest who molested him in the 1960s asked a federal judge Wednesday to allow them to question top cardinals.

The lawyers filed papers outlining requests for depositions from Cardinal William Levada and others. Levada heads the office that defrocks pedophile priests.

The man known in court documents as John V. Doe filed suit eight years ago. No trial date is set.

Recent legal arguments have centered on whether the Vatican is actually the employer of the priest, the Rev. Andrew Ronan.

A ruling that it is could allow the suit to proceed under a U.S. law that governs how sovereign states such as the Vatican can be sued. Many of the issues may wind up in the U.S. Supreme Court, which in June refused to hear one Vatican appeal.

The Vatican's lawyers asked U.S. District Judge Michael Mosman of Portland again Wednesday to dismiss the case. Their filing promised supporting documents that were not immediately available.

The Vatican has argued it wasn't responsible for Ronan or his multiple transfers. Amid allegations of sexual abuse, court documents say, Ronan was transferred from Ireland to Chicago and then to Portland, where he abused the victim in the Oregon case. Ronan died in 1992.

Last month, three men dropped a Kentucky lawsuit that tried to link the Vatican to the abuse scandal.

The papers filed Wednesday in Portland contend the Vatican controls how priests are hired, educated, disciplined and removed.

The documents cite correspondence in the 1980s with Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI, who was then in charge of the disciplinary office that Levada holds.

"This evidence goes directly to the Holy See's control over individual priests, specifically showing that the Holy See (pope) is the only one that can remove a priest," one of the documents said.

Lawyer Jeff Anderson of St. Paul, Minn., said in an interview he has not ruled out asking for a deposition from the pope. "You don't start there. You may end up there," he said. "You go up the ladder."

Besides Levada, once the archbishop of San Francisco and Portland, Anderson is seeking to question Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, the Vatican secretary of state, and his predecessor, Cardinal Angelo Sodano.

In papers filed earlier this summer, Vatican lawyers said hundreds of documents from Catholic officials showed that U.S. officials of the priest's order "knew of Ronan's propensities and transferred Ronan," but the Holy See "had no prior knowledge regarding Ronan" and no role in moving him.

Ex-priest unfit to face child sex trial

Ex-priest unfit to face child sex trial
aunews.yahoo
A frail elderly retired Catholic priest has been found unfit to face trial over allegations he sexually assaulted three boys more than 30 years ago.

Hugh Edward Murray was charged with five counts of sexual assault between 1966 and 1978 and his trial was estimated to run from one to three months.

But in Sydney's NSW District Court on Thursday, Judge Greg Woods concluded the 81-year-old's fluctuating medical conditions made him unfit for the proposed trial.

Murray taught for some years at a rural secondary college in NSW, a school attended by most of the complainants.

Describing him as a frail man "suffering from a complex set of medical ailments", the judge referred to the "contending" opinions he had heard from "very able medical practitioners".

While Murray may be fit to appear for a quite short trial, the judge concluded he was unfit for the proposed hearing, even if the court sat for only an hour or two each day.

"Let me make plain my view that this is a regrettable and frustrating outcome," Judge Woods said.

"It is, nonetheless, an outcome which the evidence and the law requires."

He referred Murray to the Mental Health Tribunal, which will deal with Murray's matter at a later date.

The retired priest has had a number of heart attacks, is on his sixth cardiac pacemaker and is at serious risk of "an adverse cardiac event or even death", the judge said.

Other conditions include recurrent skin cancers, renal impairment, obstructive sleep apnoea and right deep venous thromboses.

"He has been an intelligent man in the course of his past life, and he retains the capacity to converse in day-to-day conversation of the ordinary kind."

But, the judge found, it was likely Murray, who is on multiple medications, would present very differently on different days.

The Crown case involved three separate cases and it was proposed to call evidence from possible "tendency and coincidence" witnesses.

"The possible Crown witnesses alone may total 43," the judge said.

He concluded Murray's fluctuating condition would mean that at some point or points during a trial, he would not have the capacity to carry out certain functions.

They included giving counsel necessary instructions or making a defence.

While it was not his role to explore how or why the claims were not raised decades earlier, Justice Woods noted material showing the "numerous transfers and movements" of Murray during his career.

"I emphasise, however, that nothing in this judgment is a criticism of the complainants in relation to the long delay," he said.

But he spoke of the possibility that the Catholic Church and "those who have directed father Murray's movements over the years" may bear some responsibility for this "frustrating impasse".

Nonetheless, the fact was that "at this point, the opportunity to conduct a fair trial of these allegations has passed".

Friday, September 3, 2010

6 Ore. men settle Boy Scout sex abuse cases

6 Ore. men settle Boy Scout sex abuse cases
By TIM FOUGHT
ASSOCIATED PRESS WRITER


Attorney Paul Mones makes remarks during a news conference Wednesday, Sept. 1, 2010, in Portland, Ore. Six men who alleged they were sexually abused by an Oregon Boy Scouts leader in the 1980s have settled their lawsuits against the group's national organization for undisclosed amounts, the plaintiffs' attorney said Wednesday. The settlements include the case of one man, Kerry Lewis, who was awarded nearly $20 million in damages from Boys Scouts of America in a trial that ended in April. It was believed to be the largest such award against the national organization. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)
PORTLAND, Ore. -- Six men who were sexually abused three decades ago by a leader of their Boy Scouts troop have settled lawsuits against the national organization dedicated to building character among youngsters.

The settlement followed a trial in which the Scouts were accused of failing to act for decades on a growing trove of documents alleging sexual abuse - known in the organization as "the perversion files."

In April, an Oregon jury awarded the first of the six victims to go to trial nearly $20 million from the century-old, congressionally chartered organization.

"I'm glad it's over with. I'm glad the jury heard us and believed us," said Kerry Lewis, an unemployed former factory worker who now lives in Medford, Ore. "Other children in the future will have more protection than I did."

Lewis agreed during the trial to be identified in news stories. He participated by telephone with his lawyers at a news conference Wednesday.

The second trial was scheduled in October. Lawyers for the men said the settlement agreement was reached last week.

Only one of the financial details was made public, and that because it would be a matter of public record: The state of Oregon will be paid $2.25 million in punitive damages.

By law, the state gets 60 percent of punitive damage awards in Oregon. But plaintiffs' lawyer Kelly Clark cautioned against making calculations based on the state's allocation.

"You can't just do the math," he said. "It's not even close."

The other five men were prepared to go to trial, Clark said. All six were determined not to settle individually, he said, and all settled because they are "in the process of getting on with their lives and getting healed."

He refused to say whether they would have equal settlements.

The jury found the Texas-based Boy Scouts of America negligent for allowing a former assistant scoutmaster, Timur Dykes, to associate with Scouts after he admitted to a Scouts official in 1983 that he had molested 17 boys.

"We extend our sympathies to the victims and are pleased to have reached a settlement which will both prevent these men from reliving their experiences during a trial and allow BSA to focus even more intently on the continued enhancement of our youth protection program," Boy Scouts of America spokesman Deron Smith said in an e-mail.

Journalists have sought the documents the jury saw, and the Oregon Supreme Court is considering whether to make them public.

The Boy Scouts have settled sex abuse lawsuits out of court before, although the exact number is not known because not all are announced.

But an expert on the subject, Patrick Boyle, has said the Scouts were sued at least 60 times in 1984-92 for alleged sex abuse, with settlements and judgments totaling more than $16 million.

The plaintiffs' lawyers said they represent more than a dozen victims in similar sex abuse cases, mainly in the West and Florida.

Given the evidence from two decades worth of Scouts documents, the number of instances of sexual abuse that go unreported and the number of victims that sexual predators typically have, the pending cases represent a sliver of what are likely tens of thousands of cases of abuse, said Paul Mones, another attorney for the six men.

"During the trial we heard from men in their 60s and 70s who were molested in the 1940s, '50s and '60s," he said.

Paying punitive damages to the state constituted an acknowledgment of wrongdoing from the Scouts, he said. He said the jury verdict led the organization to require training in abuse issues for its volunteers and to hire a former police officer as a child protection advocate.

"Basically, hopefully, it's a new day for the Boy Scouts now," Mones said.

6 years on, Portugal child sex trial reaches end

6 years on, Portugal child sex trial reaches end
By BARRY HATTON
ASSOCIATED PRESS WRITER


Bernardo Teixeira, one of the alleged victims of child sex abuse at a state-run children's home in Lisbon called Casa Pia, pauses during an interview with the Associated Press Thursday, Sept. 2 2010 in Lisbon. A verdict is due Friday in the major child sex abuse trial in Portugal that has lasted almost six years, produced chilling testimony from dozens of alleged victims and shaken public trust in the country's institutions. (AP Photo/Armando Franca)
LISBON, Portugal -- A child sex abuse trial that has lasted nearly six years is drawing to a close after producing chilling testimony from dozens of alleged victims and shaking public trust in Portugal's institutions.

Six men, including a national television celebrity and a retired ambassador, and one woman are accused of sexually abusing minors and adolescents, raping children and running a pedophile ring at a state-run children's home in Lisbon called Casa Pia. The court is to rule on more than 800 alleged crimes in a verdict due on Friday.

The trial, believed to be Portugal's longest, has included testimony from more than 800 witnesses and experts, including 32 alleged victims who have given gruesome accounts of rape by adults in dark cellars and nighttime car journeys to secluded houses used by the alleged sex ring during the 1990s.

The Casa Pia is a 230-year-old institution caring for roughly 4,500 needy children, most of them living in dormitories at its premises around the capital.

Bernardo Teixeira, one of the alleged victims who says he was repeatedly abused while living at Casa Pia between the ages of 13 and 15, says he never reported it for fear of not being believed and being punished by the institution.

When a whistleblower broke the scandal in 2002, and police opened an investigation that lasted more than a year, he came forward. Then, girding himself against fear and shame, he testified at the trial.

"It's traumatic going over it all again," Teixeira, now 22, said in an interview. "But in the end it was like getting a weight off my chest."

He published a book last year about his ordeal called "Why Me?" It recounts gut-wrenching episodes, including the first time he was raped in the back of a van.

"In despair I grabbed my own arm and bit down on it, hard. Maybe that way I could relieve the pain gripping my entire body," he wrote.

Almost all those who allege abuse - now aged between 16 and 22 - identified their alleged abusers by pointing to them across the courtroom.

Miguel Matias, the lead attorney on the four-person prosecution team, says the pressure of being at the center of the most notorious case in recent Portuguese history took its toll on the accusers, driving some to attempt suicide. One jumped off a second-floor balcony; one stabbed himself in the stomach; another took rat poison.

Even so, Matias says most of them will be in court to hear the verdict.

"They are eager to see whether (coming forward) was worthwhile," he told the AP.

A 53-year-old former driver at the Casa Pia, Carlos Silvino - who claims he was also abused as a child at the home - has confessed to more than 600 crimes and has incriminated the other defendants.

They include Carlos Cruz, a popular television presenter with a three-decade career in show business, and Jorge Ritto, a decorated career diplomat and former UNESCO ambassador. Three other men are also charged with child sex abuse, including a doctor and a former Casa Pia ombudsman. A 68-year-old woman, Gertrudes Nunes, is charged with providing her house for meetings between the children and the alleged pedophiles.

They face jail terms of up to 10 years for each count of abuse, though Portuguese law stipulates that the maximum jail time a person can serve is 25 years.

The six have denied the charges and say their lives have been ruined by the allegations.

The claims that a pedophile ring had preyed on children at the state institution for years rocked the public's faith in the authorities, who appeared unable to protect the most vulnerable members of society.

The protracted trial has also fueled outrage about Portugal's notoriously slow legal system.

The president of the Portuguese Bar Association, Antonio Marinho Pinto, said "nothing justifies the length of time (the trial) has taken."

"What's bad is the slowness of judicial decision-making," Marinho Pinto said in an interview.

Teixeira, the alleged victim, said that whatever the outcome at Lisbon's main courthouse, the abuse he suffered is hard to put behind him.

"The memories won't go away. I'll live with them forever," he said.

A Crisis in Amish Country

A Crisis in Amish Country
By MALCOLM GAY
CURRYVILLE, Mo. — A troubled young man from this remote stretch of eastern Missouri, Chester Mast had traveled north in the summer of 2004 to stay with his extended family in Wisconsin. Mr. Mast, a member of a conservative Amish community here that eschews conveniences like electricity and telephones, was meant to apprentice with his uncle, a carpenter.

His uncle opened his home to the young man but, according to court documents, soon began having doubts about Mr. Mast. The uncle later told investigators that while traveling in Michigan he had observed his nephew, then 20, place his arm around his 13-year-old daughter. In the evenings back in Wisconsin, Mr. Mast and his cousins would open the windows and play cards in his bedroom. And it was there, investigators allege, that as the frogs croaked one summer night, the girl complained of a pain in her stomach.

“Chester convinced her that he could take her stomachache away,” James Small, a detective with the Waushara County Sheriff’s Department, reported in Wisconsin court filings. He asked her to lie on his stomach, the probable cause statement said. “She recalled being on top of him in his bedroom and that he ultimately penetrated her.”

These are but a few of the accusations that Mr. Mast, now 26, faces in a pair of sexual-assault cases that stretch between two states. The criminal charges, a rarity for a religious congregation that often resolves its disputes internally, offer an unusual glimpse into an Amish community in crisis. They have also laid bare the fault lines that divide this insular society that resides some 95 miles northwest of St. Louis.

“There is no gray area — people are either 100 percent for Chester, or they are 100 percent against him,” said Sgt. Sean Flynn, a detective with the Sheriff’s Department here in Pike County. “Some people are holding it against some of the victims and their families for what they’ve done to Chester; some people think it should have happened a lot sooner. There’s really no middle ground.”

Mr. Mast, who is married with two children and another on the way, stands accused in Wisconsin of incest and the repeated sexual assault of a minor. Meanwhile, officials here have charged him with two counts each of statutory rape and sodomy and one count of sexual misconduct involving a child. Investigators claim that Mr. Mast has victimized at least six girls, ages 5 to 15 — including some outside the Amish community — over the last 10 years.

“There is still the thought that there are other victims out there,” said Sergeant Flynn, the lead investigator in Missouri.

Mr. Mast, who last week pleaded not guilty to the charges here, declined an interview request. He is jailed on a $100,000 bond in Pike County, where his trial is set to begin on Dec. 15.

Since their arrival here in the 1940s, the Amish of Pike County have eked out an existence amid this area’s network of gravel roads and rusting cornfields. Theirs is a deeply private world, conducted mainly in a dialect of German, whose members travel by horse-and-buggy and support their families by working as butchers, farmers and cabinetmakers. As an “Old Order Amish” community, they are among the most conservative of their kind.

The roughly 70 families in this settlement are divided into three congregations, or churches, which are in turn led by bishops — lay members of the congregation who typically have no theological training. Social roles are clearly defined here, and transgressions are swiftly punished, either with the back of a hand, or in more serious matters, with excommunication and ritual shunning.

“We tried to work with it ourselves,” said Joseph Wagler, the bishop for a neighboring church. “We punished him, and he owned up to it. We put him away from the church, as a community.”

Community members say that in an effort to cure Mr. Mast of his affliction, they excommunicated him on three occasions: in 2004 when he returned from Wisconsin amid accusations that he had raped his cousin; and again in 2009, when new revelations surfaced of his alleged sexual misconduct. The third excommunication came this year, when after a tortuous internal debate, the community appealed to law enforcement.

“We seen this coming for years,” said Noah Schwartz, another of Mr. Mast’s uncles. “The church worked desperately to get behind him, but it was a lost cause. I don’t think we realized the seriousness of the crimes.”

Mr. Schwartz added that unlike most Amish children — who are often raised with many siblings — Chester Mast was adopted at 5 days old and raised as an only child, mollycoddled by his parents. Mr. Mast’s father, Albert Mast, declined an interview request on behalf of the family.

“This was a boy who had no discipline,” Mr. Schwartz said. “He didn’t respect authority. That’s why he’s behind bars.”

Community members described Mr. Mast as unsettled and spoiled. They say he talked a lot, was a teller of tall tales who longed to fit in, but who nevertheless experimented with alcohol, could not keep a job and had repeatedly threatened suicide.

“I felt he was never really converted and born again,” said David Eicher, echoing the sentiment of many here. “Maybe that was the base of his problems. But anyone would welcome him back to the church if he would repent and be honest.”

Donald B. Kraybill, a professor at Elizabethtown College in Pennsylvania, said that instead of viewing psychological problems as a form of psychosis or addiction, the Amish often see them as a sign of spiritual failing.

“Some Amish communities aren’t fully aware that a psychological disorder may be underlying devious behavior,” said Professor Kraybill, who has written many books on the Amish. “They may sometimes confuse this kind of an addiction — like an alcohol addiction or a sexual addiction — with a spiritual or moral weakness. They think that if the person confesses the sin, and we bring them back into the church, and they pray about it, everything is going to be O.K.”

Community members say they find it particularly galling, then, that Mr. Mast has pleaded not guilty to the charges against him. They say he has confessed his sins to them as part of his ritual reconciliation with the church, and that so long as he maintains his innocence, he is not Amish.

“Chester is lying, and that’s worse than the sex crimes, because no sin is so bad that you can’t recognize it and take total responsibility,” said Mr. Schwartz, 60, as he traveled by horse-and-buggy to buy milk from a neighbor. “We’re concerned that Chester is honest, not how many years he gets. If he lies and gets out of prison, then he’s still a prisoner to his own self.”

Until recently, church leaders had been paying regular visits to Mr. Mast, giving him spiritual counsel and advising him to plead guilty. (Though Mr. Mast is officially excommunicated and shunned by the church, there are ritual means by which church members can communicate with him, essentially shaming him with reminders that he has broken his baptismal vows and urging him to return to the fold.)

“Telling the truth and being honest is a fundamental virtue of Amish faith, and he is directly violating the teachings of Jesus if he is lying,” Professor Kraybill said. “That’s a very serious moral offense for them.”

The elders’ visits came to an abrupt end recently when Mr. Mast’s public defender, Lisa Morrow, prohibited them. Ms. Morrow says she banned the elders after learning they had been sharing important information about the case.

“The legal system doesn’t care about your religious beliefs,” she said. “When it comes to time in prison, I have to look out for my client.”

Her decision has rankled many Amish, who say that by persuading Mr. Mast to plead not guilty, Ms. Morrow is endangering him.

“The public defender is no help to him,” said Mr. Wagler, 38, while taking a break from baling hay in his barn. “She’s keeping him from being honest. If he’s going to act like this and not admit it in court, he’s still going to have to answer to God.”

As Wisconsin officials wait for Missouri to first prosecute Mr. Mast, many in his community say he should take his punishment and come back to the church.

“I would say that 95 percent of the people in this community think he’s where he needs to be,” Mr. Schwartz said. “He’s at the bottom, but how can you build a house if you don’t start from the bottom?”

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Priest sent for trial on Galway sex assault charges

Priest sent for trial on Galway sex assault charges

galwaynews.ie.com

September 1, 2010 - 1:27pm
An 82-year-old priest charged with the alleged sexual assault of a boy in County Galway over 40 years ago has been sent forward for trial.

The priest – who can’t be named for legal reasons – was extradited from the US in July.

He appeared at Loughrea District Court today.

Grand jury returns 20-count indictment against youth pastor

Grand jury returns 20-count indictment against youth pastor

By Jon Hutchinson
Staff Reporter verdenews.com


COTTONWOOD - The Cottonwood Police Criminal Investigations Division received a 20-count indictment from the Yavapai County Grand Jury alleging sex offenses by Christopher William Furey.

Furey, 43, who served as the youth pastor at Emmanuel Fellowship Church in Cottonwood, is charged with having sex with a 16-year-old girl.

The complaint lists numerous felony charges including five counts of sexual conduct with a minor, 11 counts of sexual abuse and four counts of luring a minor for sexual exploitation.

Furey was initially arrested on the charges Aug. 20.

The crimes were alleged to have been committed between June and August 2010.

Furey is currently in custody at the Yavapai County Detention Facility and is held pending a $50,000 bond.

Family sues church, pastor for allegedly harboring a pedophile

Family sues church, pastor for allegedly harboring a pedophile
Convicted child molester, Jeffery Waisner faces civil trial
By Jon Brines Gold Country News Service

Jeffery Waisner

The family of a 14-year-old Loomis girl molested by a youth pastor at Cornerstone Community Church in Rocklin are now suing him and the church for allowing the abuse to occur.

The church is also known as Rocklin Foursquare Church and the International Church of the Foursquare Gospel based in Los Angeles.

The 13-page complaint filed earlier this month seeks punitive damages for sexual abuse of a child, sexual battery, gross negligence, breach of fiduciary duty. They also want reimbursement for medical care and lost earnings.

In April, Jeffery Waisner, 33 of Lincoln, was convicted of lewd and lascivious acts with a child stemming from a nearly six-month affair with the girl who was a part of his Friday night youth group. According to court documents, Waisner performed oral sex, intercourse and fondled her during incidents at his home, on trips with the church and at the church in Rocklin.

The attorney for the family alleges the national church covered up problems of sexual abuse with minors by appointed leaders and engaged in a systematic pattern, which included compiling a secret archival file regarding sexual abuse by other church leaders in other states. The complaint alleges, the governing body of the church was harboring alleged predator pedophiles who would continue to sexually molest children using their leadership position to gain access to the victims.

The Rocklin church advertises its youth group meetings as “a safe place for your teens.” The family alleges the church “prohibited” victims “from warning others or speaking about the matter to anyone,” for fear of threats and “severe sanctions.” The family also accuses the church of negligence for not reporting known abuses to police and refusing to remove such leaders.

David Overstreet the attorney representing the church refused to comment on the specifics of the case during litigation. However he did issue a statement.

“There are different versions of what happened here,” Overstreet said. “The church does have procedures to protect children and it cooperated with authorities during the investigation.”

The Loomis victim, who will not be identified to protect her, has since moved away from the area.

At Waisner’s sentencing in April, the victim’s mother said the girl said Waisner told her he was going to leave his wife and three children to be with her and that she still believes it.

According to court documents, Waisner was caught with the victim after being pulled over by a California Highway Patrol in the middle of the night. She had allegedly snuck out of the house to see him. The officer became suspicious when Waisner allegedly told the officer, “It was OK because he was her youth pastor.”

During one month of the alleged affair, the girl reportedly received more than 4,000 text messages from Waisner.

Attorneys for Waisner could not be reached for comment.

A trial date has not yet been set.

A hearing is scheduled for Nov. 30 in Placer County Superior Court.

Centreville man accused of child sex crimes arrested in Poland

Centreville man accused of child sex crimes arrested in Poland
-Officials working to extradite suspect to U.S.
by Gregg MacDonald | Staff Writer
An international manhunt for a Centreville man described by U.S. Marshals as one of the most wanted child sex offenders in the country ended last week in Poland.

Former Little League Baseball coach John E. Hamilton, 39, was arrested Aug. 25 by the Polish Border Guard as he attempted to cross into Poland from the Czech Republic. Hamilton is on the G8 Wanted Child Sex Offender list, making him one of the 10 most wanted child sex offenders in the U.S., according to the U.S. Marshals Service.

Fairfax County Police, the U.S. Marshals Service and the U.S. Department of Justice are in the process of extraditing Hamilton to the U.S.

"It may take a while," said Billy Sorukas, chief of the International Investigations branch of the U.S. Marshals Service, on Monday. "There is a pretty substantial exchange of documents that has to occur."

Hamilton faces charges in Fairfax County stemming from at least five allegations of sexual misconduct between 1992 and 2008. Sorukas said authorities also might investigate to see if Hamilton is suspected of any criminal behavior overseas.

Sorukas said Hamilton was located Aug. 25 on a bus leaving the Czech Republic for Poland. He allegedly was traveling under an alias when Polish authorities in the border town of Gliwice detained him when he refused to show identification and provided evasive answers. Polish border authorities pulled him to the side and subsequently found his U.S. passport.

Hamilton was turned over to the provincial police, who contacted Interpol in Warsaw. Interpol in turn contacted the U.S. Marshals Service in Washington, D.C., to provide confirmation of his true identity. U.S. Marshals said they confirmed Hamilton's identify after sending Polish authorities copies of his fingerprints.

No attorney information for Hamilton was available.

"He is still in Poland and may attempt to contest the extradition to the U.S.," Sorukas said.

In June 2009, Fairfax County police charged Hamilton with aggravated sexual battery and three counts of indecent liberties with a child by a person in a supervisory relationship. He was indicted by a grand jury, released on bond and scheduled to enter a guilty plea in October 2009, but he failed to appear for his hearing.

U.S. Marshals said that after authorities suspected Hamilton had left the U.S., an Interpol notice was issued for Hamilton and sent to every country in Europe.

Hamilton originally became the subject of an investigation by Fairfax County police in February 2009, when a 24-year-old man came forward with sexual abuse allegations more than a decade after he had been coached by Hamilton.

Police said the man saw Hamilton with a preteen boy at a convenience store in early 2009 and thought it necessary to come forth with his own story. According to the man, who was 12 at the time of the alleged offense, Hamilton engaged in inappropriate sexual conduct with him periodically, from March through July 1997. Police arrested Hamilton in May 2009.

Fairfax police said sodomy allegations were then made by two additional victims -- now also adults --who came forward. One is now 21 and the other is 30.

Additional charges also were filed by another alleged victim.

"They have just come forward, one by one," police spokesman Don Gotthardt said in January.

One incident allegedly occurred in the parking lot of Carl Sandburg Middle School in Alexandria. Another allegedly took place at Hamilton's home at that time, in the 6600 block of Wakefield Drive in the Belle View area. Hamilton was a Little League baseball coach for the Fort Hunt Youth Athletic Association at that time. Hamilton lived in the Northern Virginia area for decades and held several positions in the athletic community working with children.

According to the Catholic Diocese of Arlington, Hamilton was a baseball coach at Bishop Ireton High School in 1999. The diocese said it was made aware of Hamilton's charges by police early last year.

"We notified the players from that year and we have put a notice in our bulletin," said Joelle Santolla, director of communications for the diocese, in January.

$2.3M reno for Catholic Glebe House in Halifax

$2.3M reno for Catholic Glebe House in Halifax
Upgrade comes as Antigonish diocese sells property to pay for sex-abuse settlement
Last Updated: Tuesday, August 31, 2010 | 4:22 PM AT CBC News
Halifax's Glebe House will eventually house eight priests, including Archbishop Anthony Mancini. (CBC) The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Halifax, N.S., is spending $2.3 million to renovate Glebe House so it can house Archbishop Anthony Mancini and other priests.

Some have criticized the expense given that the Roman Catholic diocese of Antigonish, N.S., must sell some of its properties to raise $15 million for a settlement with victims of sexual abuse by priests, but Rev. Paul Morris, the rector of nearby St. Mary's Basilica, defended it.

"Antigonish is a separate diocese," he said. "It is also a separate legal corporation. I, as the rector here, am trying to fulfill the responsibilities entrusted to me."

The large church property on Spring Garden Road and Barrington Street was built for basilica priests in 1891. The archbishop lived in a home on Dresden Row from 1891 and then a house near the south end Waegwoltic Club from about 1931.

Mancini, who became the archbishop of Halifax in 2007, had the south end home sold for about $750,000 two years ago, and the church put the money into renovating Glebe House.

The stately Victorian brick building, complete with turrets and dormers, will eventually house Mancini, priests who work at the cathedral and the rector of the cathedral.

'Healthy' living arrangement
Morris said Mancini made the move based on his previous experience in Quebec, where he served before coming to Halifax.

"Based on his lived experience in Montreal of living at the cathedral, of living with other priests, being in community, he chose to sell the residence … and chose to move back here," he said.

The extensive renovations include work to the exterior and the "outdated" plumbing and electrical systems, which Morris said were unsafe and inefficient.

The building had housed church offices, but Morris said it would be completely residential once renovations are complete in the spring of 2011.

The upper floor is slated to become a residence for retired priests.

"We will be able to accept, I believe, five retired priests," he said.

That would make a total of about eight priests living in Glebe House.

Morris said the move would enhance the church mission of living in community.

"Sometimes, because of people being very busy and, sometimes, because of the shortage of priests, the ability of priests to live in community and to have that healthy sense of living with others isn't always present," he said.

"I think it will be for everyone a healthy living arrangement."

Former altar boy describes aftermath of alleged abuse by Eureka priest

Former altar boy describes aftermath of alleged abuse by Eureka priest

By GUY KOVNER
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT


Published: Tuesday, August 31, 2010 at 8:38 p.m.


Shame and fear of ridicule kept him quiet about alleged sexual abuse by a Catholic priest in Eureka nearly 30 years ago, a Humboldt County man said Tuesday.

“For a man, there is so much shame involved in saying anything,” the 38-year-old man, who declined to give his full name, said in an interview.

“I tried to work past it,” said the man, a father who works in law enforcement and as a young boy wanted to become a priest himself. “I just figured it was too late to do anything.”

He is one of two Humboldt County men who filed lawsuits last month accusing the Santa Rosa Diocese of fraud and negligence for hiring the Rev. Patrick Joseph McCabe and failing to disclose his sexual misconduct to parishioners in Eureka.

The men, who both served as altar boys, were not identified in the lawsuits. They both allege they were repeatedly fondled by McCabe, now 74, at St. Bernard Church in Eureka in the early 1980s.

McCabe, who was removed from the priesthood in 1988, is in custody at Alameda County Jail pending extradition to Ireland to face charges of molesting six boys from 1973 to 1981.

He was transferred from Dublin, Ireland to the Santa Rosa Diocese in 1983, months after being designated as a pedophile at a church treatment facility in New Mexico, according to a lengthy report on misconduct by Irish priests released last year.

The man, whose first name is Greg, said he was infuriated by news reports that McCabe had been assigned to St. Bernard Parish by former Santa Rosa Bishop Mark Hurley, who was told of McCabe’s condition by Irish church officials, according to the report.

“I found it incredibly unconscionable that (church officials) would shift a person from place to place and give him a new set of children to abuse,” the man said in a telephone interview arranged by his attorney.

Santa Rosa Bishop Daniel Walsh said last month there is no evidence of misconduct in McCabe’s file or any indication Hurley, who died in 2001, was aware of it.

The alleged victim also faulted the Santa Rosa Diocese for failing to fulfill the transparency espoused by U.S. bishops in their policy on sexual misconduct adopted in 2002.

“They are still playing cover-up games,” the man said. “As far as I’m concerned they are still protecting them.”

He was referring to Walsh’s refusal to identify nine of the 17 priests who served in the diocese and were accused of child sexual abuse. The other eight clergy were named by victims in various disclosures.

Dan Galvin, attorney for the diocese, said Tuesday there is no consideration being given to releasing the priests’ names.

“I will stand on the bishop’s prior statement,” Galvin said, noting Walsh’s previous comment that the nine priests are either dead or no longer serving in the diocese.

Walsh did not return a telephone call on Tuesday.

Victims’ advocates say the anonymity leaves an uninformed public vulnerable to the pedophiles’ continued crimes.

“Wouldn’t you like to know if you were McCabe’s neighbor?” said Joseph George, a Sacramento attorney representing both alleged victims.

Naming all accused molesters “could enable victims to understand what happened to them and to seek assistance and/or redress in the courts,” said David Clohessy, director of Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests.

George, who has filed more than 100 sex abuse lawsuits against the Catholic Church, said it is likely that revealing abusers’ names would prompt more legal claims.

“The assumption would be that the perps have been cloaked in corporate (church) secrecy,” George said. The attorney said he is working with other alleged victims of McCabe and intends to file more lawsuits.

The North Coast diocese, which serves 167,000 Catholics from Sonoma County to the Oregon border, has paid about $25 million to settle legal claims by abuse victims.

“Mr. George is entitled to his opinion,” Galvin said. “That’s all I’m going to say.”

Galvin said he still has not seen either of the lawsuits filed last month, and cannot say whether the diocese would fight the claims in court or seek settlements.

In previous cases brought by George, the diocese has succeeded “in working matters out” with a settlement, Galvin said.

The alleged victim said he is not motivated by money.

“The church could put $100 million on the table right now,” he said. “That $100 million doesn’t buy back what was taken from me.”

The man said he has discussed the alleged abuse only in counseling sessions. He said he suffers nightmares and gets “cold chills” driving past the St. Bernard’s rectory, where the crimes allegedly occurred.

But had the McCabe case not been made public, the man said he probably would not have come forward.

“I think I would have taken it to my grave,” he said.

Minnesota Court of Appeals dismisses fraud lawsuit by four women against New Ulm Diocese

Minnesota Court of Appeals dismisses fraud lawsuit by four women against New Ulm Diocese
Court finds diocese didn't have obligation to reveal facts
By Emily Gurnon
pioneerpress.com
Posted: 09/01/2010 12:01:00 AM CDT


Four women who alleged that a now-dead priest sexually abused them as children had their lawsuit thrown out by the state Court of Appeals on Tuesday.

The court ruled that the New Ulm Diocese's silence on the Rev. David Roney's abusive behavior did not constitute fraud because the diocese did not "suppress" facts that it was under a legal obligation to disclose, a three-judge panel wrote.

There may be circumstances where a legal obligation to disclose the information existed, but the plaintiffs did not allege that, the court wrote.

"(The) appellants do not assert that respondents had a duty to disclose Father Roney's sexual-abuse history," Judge Michelle Larkin wrote for the panel.

William Mitchell College of Law professor Michael Steenson said, "Our (state) precedent dictates that there is no duty to disclose under these circumstances." He added that "moral obligations and legal obligations are not the same."

Larkin wrote, "In this case, there is no evidence that respondents (the New Ulm Diocese) made affirmative misrepresentations separate and distinct from their nondisclosure or took active steps to conceal the abuse. The women have too broadly stated their fraud theory."

The opinion said that, "while we are sympathetic to victims of sexual abuse and recognize that appellants' claim involves allegations of inexcusable child abuse perpetrated by an adult in a position of trust, we are bound to follow existing law."

The judges agreed with the diocese that, had the court ruled the other way, it would "greatly expand the scope of potential liability for fraud claims."
The decision could affect other cases that allege fraud against dioceses that employed priests accused of sexual misconduct.

Mike Finnegan of Jeff Anderson & Associates, who represented the plaintiffs, said the ruling is not good for the women.

"This decision is definitely sad for these four women, and my heart goes out to them that, at least as of right now, we don't have any way to go forward," Finnegan said. "But the decision, overall, leaves a lot of hope for all the other survivors who have been lied to and misled, not only by the diocese here, but also by other organizations that are supposed to protect kids."

Finnegan noted that the decision favored the women's claim that they filed their lawsuit within the statute of limitations.

"If you're deceived or lied to and you recently learned about that, you may have the ability to seek justice," he said.

Roney served at two parishes in the 1960s and 1970s: St. Francis in Benson and St. Mary's in Willmar.

The women, who were identified as Jane Does 43C, 43E, 43F and 43G, alleged that they were sexually abused by Roney at those churches. Parents and one plaintiff herself, when she was an adult, complained to church officials, but Roney was reassigned.

He died in 2003 at the Diocese of New Ulm's mission in Guatemala.

After Roney died, the diocese publicly acknowledged that he had sexually abused children.

Msgr. Douglas Grams of the diocese said in a statement Tuesday that the court "made the right decision in determining that there was no basis for plaintiffs to make any claim of fraud against the diocese of New Ulm."

He added that the diocese "in no way" condones sexual abuse and expresses deep sympathies for any victims.

Trial vs. accused predator priest dismissed; SNAP responds

Trial vs. accused predator priest dismissed; SNAP responds

Statement by Judy Block Jones, SNAP Midwest Associate Director, 636-433-2511
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. And it’s important that suspected child predators not walk free because of legal technicalities.

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. (Many times victims are unable to promptly report their abuse - and are often criticized for that. In this case, however, this brave young victim stepped forward promptly.)

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

This victim and his family have done everything right and they have done it largely alone. It is time for others to speak up. It is important that no one – victim, witness, or whistleblower -feel like he or she must carry the burden of keeping Poandl away from children alone.

Back in March, we in SNAP wrote to 11 bishops in dioceses where Poandl worked. We asked them to use their resources to reach out to others who may have been sexually abused by Poandl, We received help from only one (in Texas).

Now more than ever, it is imperative that anyone who has witnessed, suspects, or been harmed to Poandl, to speak up and contact police. It is unfair for any one individual to carry the brunt of this alone,

Now more than ever, it’s time for these bishops to step up to the plate, do their civil duty, honor their moral obligation, and help law enforcement get to the bottom of these accusations against Poandl.

Every bishop who quietly sits back and does little or nothing risks enabling a child molesting cleric to molest again.

Pope must act on bishop who covered up admitted crimes, SNAP says

Pope must act on bishop who covered up admitted crimes, SNAP says

Statement by Barbara Dorris Outreach Director SNAPdorris@gmail.com 314 862 7688

The ball is now squarely in the court of 10 people.

Belgian Catholic officials now confirm that, just four months ago, Belgian Cardinal G Danneels a man once considered to be a likely candidate for Pope, tried to cover up admitted clergy child sex abuse, by urging a victim to stay silent. What’s worse is that Danneels did this even though the acknowledged predator was still in active ministry around kids and able to molest others.

Nine Belgian bishops, especially Danneels' successor Archbishop André-Mutien Léonard, should now publicly urge the Pope to discipline Danneels. If they don't, they are essentially endorsing Danneels' irresponsible, callous and hurtful actions. Staying silent about child sex cover ups is just as harmful as engaging in child sex cover ups.

The victim was smart for tape recording the meeting. We strongly urge victims to never meet alone with church officials. (Church officials almost never meet alone with victims.) In several instances, after a victim or advocate has met alone with church officials, those church officials claim money was extorted or threats were made. It's inherently dangerous and unwise for victims to meet alone with any church officials about abuse.

The notion that Danneels was somehow "naive" or "unprepared" for the meeting is absurd. We strongly suspect that Danneels has had dozens of such meetings over his 32 years as a bishop. For almost 29 years, Danneels headed the Belgian Bishops Conference. In that role, we strongly suspect he helped set the tone and direction of how church officials all across the country deal with child sex abuse reporters.

Two months ago, Pope Benedict pledged to “do everything possible” to prevent future child sex crimes by clergy. Here’s his opportunity to take effective action to deter future crimes and cover ups. He can do what top church officials have done for decades, and do nothing about the admitted misdeeds of a bishop. Or he can chart a new course, and use his power to discipline this bishop. If he does nothing, he sends a strong signal that concealing known child sex crimes is still OK in the church. It’s as simple as that.

Victims respond to new policy by German Bishops

Victims respond to new policy by German Bishops

Statement by Barbara Blaine, SNAP President 312 399 4747

A lack of words on paper isn't causing this crisis and more words on paper won't fix it. For starters, every church official who ignored or concealed child sex crimes must be removed. Every proven, admitted and credibly accused child molesting cleric must be exposed and suspended immediately. Unless and until those two steps are taken, everything else is window dressing.

This is part of the standard public relations playbook bishops use. For decades, nearly every diocese in which a major child sex abuse scandal has emerged has adopted or tweaked written policies. It rarely makes any real difference, other than mollifying some naive parishioners.

The problem isn't inadequate policies, it's a corrupt structure and system, in which bishops exercise virtually limitless power and are accountable to virtually no one.

Just months ago, Belgium's most powerful Catholic official tried hard to keep admitted child sex crimes by a bishop covered up. He tried to guilt-trip and sweet-talk a deeply wounded man to protect the church's image. No policy, regardless of what it says, would have prevented such wrong-doing or will prevent it in the future.

Real change will only happen when victims come forward, secular laws are reformed, prosecutors file charges, bishops are jailed, and Catholics donate elsewhere.

New bishops' policy is backwards

New bishops' policy is backwards

Statement by Barbara Dorris, SNAP Outreach Director (314-862-7688 home, 314-503-0003 cell)

The policy is backwards. It largely implies that clergy sex crimes and cover ups are past tense. They are not. Any bishop's first job must be to stop and prevent current and future child sex crimes.

This is a substantially weaker version of the very weak and only sporadically enforced US bishops' policy. It essentially keeps all of the power and discretion with the same bishops and church structure that has, for decades, ignored and concealed and enabled the horrific assaults on thousands of kids, and still does. There's no pledge of openness or any guarantees that predators will be exposed or suspended from ministry. It's window dressing, nothing more.

Under 'publicity,' there's not even a mention of transparency. The policy calls on church officials to warn one another when transferring a predator but not the public or the parishioners.

Again, the crux of the crisis is that bishops can and do ignore church guidelines essentially because they can do so with no fear of discipline or penalty. That's what enables clergy sex crimes and cover ups. That isn't changing with this new policy.

Ex-priest 'exposes' clergy's sex secrets

Ex-priest 'exposes' clergy's sex secrets
Ananthakrishnan G, TNN, Sep 1, 2010, 03.56am IST timesofindia.com
THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: There seems no end to Church's woes as far as "God's own country" is concerned. After ex-nun Sister Jesmi's tell-all book on the dark side of the convent life, it's now the turn of a former priest to expose what he claims "sexual anarchy among the clergy and the faithful".

The book, 'Here is The Heart of a Priest' by K P Shibu, who left the Vicentian Congregation after 11 years, is autobiographical and slams the "indulgent and licentious life-style of a section of the clergy". Writing about his days with the congregation, Shibu (38) alleges, "Homosexuality and adult films had become a part of their lifestyle... a section of priests and nuns were driven by lust for power and money. Mismanagement of funds was also rampant in institutions under the order."

After listening to the confessions of priests, Shibu claims he concluded that 60% of them had had sexual encounters with nuns, widows, society ladies or other faithful women. "Most celibates indulge in self pleasure," he writes in one place. There were also those who took advantage of poverty of women, orphans and abused children, alleges the former priest, and says ragging of new comers to the order shamefully prevails in seminaries.

Sister Jesmi's book, 'Amen: Autobiography of a Nun', was similarly critical of convent life.


Read more: Ex-priest 'exposes' clergy's sex secrets - India - The Times of India http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/articleshow/6471601.cms?prtpage=1#ixzz0yHcKdRLh

Sexual Abuse and Suicide

Sexual Abuse and Suicide
August 31st, 2010 · 2 Comments
Because the reporting on the Vangheluwe - Danneels case is in Dutch, much of the information is difficult to access.

One important piece of background has recently surfaced. Tom Heneghan of Reuters wrote to Austen Ivereigh at America:

What is not said in the transcripts but was reported in the other paper running the transcripts (Het Nieuwsblad) is that the victim was moved to speak out after learning that Vangheluwe had consecrated a deacon who was a child abuser. One of his victims later committed suicide. Vangheluwe’s victim felt this might have been avoided if he had spoken out about Vangheluwe years ago. The victim cannot just accept an apology from his uncle, he feels a duty to do more, but he does not come across as vengeful. At one point early on, he even says to Danneels that if he (D) suggests a coverup is the only way, he might have to learn to live with that. But then he pulls himself together again and says Vangheluwe simply cannot stay in office if the Church is to stand for anything at all.

Ivereigh is backing away from his attempt to soften Danneels action or rather refusal to act. Danneels was caught on tape acting like bishops usually act and will continue to act. And Danneels will suffer no consequences, nor will any future bishop who covers up sexual abuse suffer any consequences, and they know it. Until we get a true reforming pope like Pius V, the hierarchy will continue to tolerate abuse whenever they can get away with it – which is almost always.

What Vangheluwe did to his nephew could have gotten him executed in very painful fashion in the Middle Ages – but Danneels doesn’t even want Vangheluwe to suffer any embarrassment. Such are the tender hearts of our hierarchs – for each other, not for us.

PS It appears from this article that in 1995 Vangheluwe ordained a certain Marc V as a deacon, even though Vangheluwe knew that Marc V. was a convicted child abuser (suspended sentence - this is Holland) and that one of Marc V.’s victims had committed suicide in 1991. The victim’s mother pleaded in vain to Vangheluwe not to ordain the man who had driven her son to suicide. Vangheluwe insisted the victim’s family must forgive Marc V.The nephew felt that his silence enabled this situation: if he had spoken out, Vangheluwe would not be a bishop and therefore he would not have been able to ordain Marc V. as a deacon.

The attitude of the hierarchy toward child abuse can be seen in this ordination. They were willing to ordain a man who had driven his abuse victim to suicide. Perhaps, in fact, the fact that Marc V had abused children before his ordination was a plus: another abuser in the clergy who would “understand” and not “judgmental” toward what Vangheluwe had done to his nephew.

Marc V. remained a deacon and worked in a Catholic school until Vangheluwe’s downfall caused his background to become public. Then he was “temporarily” removed.

Man who settled sex abuse claim against Lansing diocese identifies himself

Man who settled sex abuse claim against Lansing diocese identifies himself
Kathleen Lavey • August 31, 2010

LANSING -- Attorney Gregory Guggemos has identified himself as the man who settled a decades-old sex abuse claim against the Roman Catholic Diocese of Lansing for $225,000 earlier this month.

Guggemos, his voice sometimes breaking with emotion, read a 10-page statement at his attorney's office today. detailing the years-long process of recalling the abuse.

Guggemos says he was abused by Monsignor John Slowey at the St. Vincent home for children while he and three siblings stayed there for portions of 1954 and 1955.

Guggemos, formerly of Haslett, said he hopes that sharing his story will encourage other victims of abuse to come forward.

"I know now I did nothing wrong when I was at the orphanage. I have no responsibility for being sexually abused. I am a victim," he said.

Guggemos settled his suit weeks before Bishop Earl Boyea, leader of the 10-county Diocese of Lansing, said he believes another priest, the Rev. John Martin, abused at least a half-dozen boys who attended St. Isidore church in Laingsburg during the 1950s and early 1960s. Both Slowey and Martin are long dead.

Read Wednesday's Lansing State Journal for more on this report.

Losing Patience With the Vatican

Losing Patience With the Vatican
by Andrew Walsh

Even in the hands of relatively buttoned-down practitioners of mainstream American journalism, blogs are megaphones. So Ross Douthat, the New York Times’ conservative columnist, was engaging in conscious hyperbole when his June 9 blog in the Atlantic carried the headline, “The Catholic Church is finished.”

“This was the year when the cover-up of priestly sex abuse, a long-simmering crisis for Catholicism, became something much, much bigger,” Douthat wrote. And, indeed, coverage of the crisis in all forms of media during early 2010 surged to the highest level since 2002.

The surge occurred because the abuse crisis came home to Europe, with scandals convulsing Ireland, Belgium, Germany, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Italy, and Austria. Above all, the coverage focused attention on the Vatican and on high-level church leaders, with a cast of characters including the Belgian police, German Chancelor Angela Merkel, and the New York Times showering the church leadership with very hostile questions about their handling of the crisis over the past 20 years.

For Pope Benedict XVI, that meant relentless and skeptical questions about his handling of cases when he was archbishop of Munich in the 1970s, about his service during the 1980s and 1990s in the Vatican as Pope John Paul II’s right hand man, and about his decisions more recently as pope. By March 25, blogger David Gibson ruefully noted in his politicsdaily.org column that the question had unavoidably become, “What Did the Pope Know and When Did He Know It?”

While the main point of Douthat’s post was actually that the Catholic Church has weathered worse problems and worse leadership in the course of its long history, it didn’t carry the emotional punch of the rest of the message: “If the Church isn’t finished, period, it can still be finished for certain people, in certain contexts. And so it is in this case: for millions in Europe and America, Catholicism is probably permanently associated with sexual scandal, rather than the gospel of Jesus Christ. And, as in many previous dark chapters in the Church’s history, the leaders entrusted with that gospel have nobody to blame but themselves.”

The post provoked widespread reaction, much of it troubled, like former New York Times religion columnist Peter Steinfels’ response on the dotCommonweal.org blog. “Is the church finished?” asked Steinfels, who as both a journalist and scholar has tended to take moderate positions on Catholic matters. “The church leadership’s inability to respond adequately is certainly a symptom of something deep seated. More and more, I contemplate the possibility that Douthat may be right.”

Since the Boston phase of the crisis broke in 2002, the abuse scandal has been more about the Catholic leadership’s handling of allegations than about the actual cases of clerical misconduct, bad as they may be. As the Dallas Morning News reported in its coverage of the Dallas meeting where the American hierarchy adopted its “one strike and you’re out” policy, only a few percent of all priests faced accusations of sexual misconduct with minors. On the other hand, as many as two-thirds of the then-sitting bishops seem to have pursued policies that obscured, minimized, or ignored charges of misconduct.

Since then, there have been many apologies for misconduct by priests and many resolutions to prevent it in the future. Indeed, this spring brought the fullest and most emotional expressions of penitence from the pontiff himself. “Pope Benedict begged forgiveness from God and victims of child sexual abuse by priests on Friday and vowed that the Catholic Church would do everything in its power to ensure that it never happens again,” Reuters reported on June 11, in a story on a talk the pope gave to 15,000 priests gathered in Rome’s St. Peter’s Square.

Hundreds of priests and the handful of bishops who have faced charges that they committed misconduct have been removed from office. But Vatican officials, including Pope Benedict, have not been willing to publicly discipline the many hierarchs who failed to protect vulnerable children and adolescents. The marquee example remains Boston Cardinal Bernard Law, who was forced to resign in disgrace in 2002, but immediately reassigned to a place of honor in Rome.

Nothing better demonstrates the depth of the world’s current skepticism and the astonishing loss of deference suffered by the Catholic hierarchy as a result of the scandal than the events in Belgium in late June and early July. Police detained the nation’s entire Catholic hierarchy for nine hours while conducting a sweeping set of raids that involved seizure of church files, searches of church residences, and confiscation of computers and cell phones. The crypts of two recently deceased Belgian bishops were also searched to make sure that damaging documentation of church investigations of reports of sexual misconduct by bishops were not hidden there.

Howls of outrage rose from the pope as well as from Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, who complained that this harassment exceeded even the behavior of communist governments, but these met with a cool response from Belgian prosecutors. On July 13, the New York Times’ Doreen Carvajal quoted prosecutors saying they were taking action on a formal complaint. “We are working on a specific case about a specific declaration,” said spokesman Jean-Marc Meilleur. “We are not starting an inquisition against the church.” Meilleur noted that eventual charges might involve both those “who committed the crime” and “those who didn’t help someone in danger.”

Earlier Times stories suggested that the police action had been triggered by a retired Belgian magistrate named Godlieve Halsberge, who from 2001 to 2008 had been in charge of an internal church commission investigating allegations of clerical misconduct. On June 29, Carvajal noted that Halsberge had resigned her position and become a vocal critic of the church leadership’s approach to the crisis, complaining that it had not released all its records to the commission.

In June, after receiving an anonymous phone call from someone alleging that the church was hiding relevant documents, Halsberge turned over her own copies to police and filed a formal complaint. In the background was the case of the 73-year-old bishop of Bruges, Roger Vangheluwe, who resigned in April after admitting to molesting “a boy in my close entourage” some 30 years before.

The Times reported on July 13 that the victim was Vangheluwe’s nephew, who had been molested from age 10 for about eight years and who had spent much of his adult life coping with the psychological consequences. Some in the man’s family had been pushing the Belgian hierarchy to take action against Vangheluwe for a number of years, and accusations circulated that Belgium’s top bishop, Cardinal Gerhard Danneels, had consistently squelched efforts to investigate before his retirement last year.

Carvajal quoted the Rev. Rik Deville, a retired Belgian priest who has been a loud critic of the church’s failure to change its secretive and often failed efforts to curtail clerical misconduct. Deville said he had complained about Vangheluwe to Danneels in 1996, but that “the cardinal listened impatiently, glancing frequently at his watch.” Weeks later, “Father Deville 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.”

Earlier this year, relatives of the victim, frustrated by Danneels’s inaction, began to pepper the entire Belgian hierarchy with emails. On April 24, Danneels’ replacement, Archbishop André-Joseph Léonard announced Vangheluwe’s resignation. “We are aware of the crisis of confidence his resignation will set in motion,” Léonard said, according to a brief story in the Times. But Léonard “stressed that the Catholic Church in Belgium was determined to ‘turn over a leaf from a not-very-distant past when such matters would pass in silence or be concealed.’”

Among other things, the Vangheluwe affair triggered a flood of complaints of clerical misconduct to the Belgian internal church commission. After handling about 30 cases in the previous decade, the commission received 475 complaints in two months. (The German newsweekly Der Speigel reported in June that a new hotline system to file report claims of misconduct in Germany had been inundated with 4,500 complaints on its first day of operation.)

It was clear that Belgium would not follow Ireland’s lead and grant clerics immunity from prosecution (see Religion in the News, Winter 2010). Nor would it permit the church to investigate complaints itself and run its own disciplinary processes.

The Belgian crisis was not the only problem facing the church this spring. March and April brought a large cluster of related scandals, all of which turned attention to the Vatican’s management of sex abuse, particularly during the 1980s and 1990s.

There was the latest phase of the long-running saga of the Rev. Marcial Maciel Degollado, the Mexican priest who founded the Legion of Christ and rose to great prominence under the patronage of Pope John Paul II before he was condemned by the church in 2009 as a bigamist and abuser of seminarians. Two American cases, one involving a Wisconsin priest who abused 200 deaf boys over the course of many years from the early 1950s through the mid-1970s, and the case of an Oakland, California priest convicted of child molestation, whose request for laicization dragged through the Vatican for years.

Finally, and closest to the papal household, on March 25, the New York Times broke a story by Nicholas Kulish and Katrin Bennhold raising questions about the pope’s management of clerical misconduct while he led the Archdiocese of Munich in the late 1970s and early 1980s. The paper reported that Benedict, then known as Archbishop Joseph Ratzinger, was more involved in the process of deciding how to handle a case of misconduct than the Vatican had previously admitted. According to Kulish and Bennhold, Ratzinger had been “copied on a memo that informed him that a priest, whom he had approved for sending to therapy in 1980 to overcome pedophilia, would be returned to pastoral work within days of beginning psychiatric treatment.”

“The priest was later convicted of molesting boys in another parish,” they reported. The Archdiocese of Munich and the Vatican responded with vigorous denials that Ratzinger had been involved in the decision-making—which, they said, was done by subordinates.

Meanwhile, one day earlier, another Times story recounted the case of a Milwaukee priest named Lawrence Murphy. Written by Times religion reporter Laurie Goodstein, the story argued that Vatican officials, Ratzinger included, had resisted Milwaukee Archbishop Rembert Weakland’s repeated requests to authorize a canonical trial to laicize Murphy. The story was partly based on church documents, including letters back and forth between Milwaukee and Rome, provided to the Times by plaintiff’s attorney Jeffrey Anderson.

Goodstein indicated that Murphy’s misconduct had been reported to three consecutive Milwaukee archbishops before the priest was removed from the school in 1974—and then he was simply moved to a parish assignment in rural northern Wisconsin. Weakland wrote to Ratzinger, by then head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF), asking for permission to try Murphy after Weakland discovered that Murphy’s offenses at the school for the deaf had included soliciting sex in the confessional.

Ratzinger did not respond for eight months, the Times reported, although his assistant Tarcisio Bertone eventually authorized a trial to defrock Murphy. Murphy then appealed the decision, noting that the allegations were 25 years old, beyond the statute of limitations in canon law, and that he was old and in bad health. Weakland told the Times that he was unable to persuade the Vatican to let the trial go forward.

A vigorous counter-attack followed from the Vatican, which charged that the Times “lacked fairness in its coverage of Pope Benedict.” Bishops all over Europe weighed in, as did American bishops, including Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio of Brooklyn, who called on Catholics to “besiege” the Times in order to “send a message that the Catholic Church will no longer be its personal punching bag.” New York Archbishop Timothy Dolan took to his own blog and to his Easter pulpit to condemn the Times’ coverage.

In Rome itself, the contretemps cast a pall over Easter, with the pope’s personal preacher delivering a sermon on Good Friday comparing the media treatment of Benedict to anti-Semitism. Cardinal Angelo Sodano, the head of the College of Cardinals who was considered a to-the-bitter-end partisan of Father Maciel and an opponent of vigorous investigation of misconduct by clergy generally, gave an Easter sermon at St. Peter’s Cathedral dismissing the misconduct crisis as the product of malicious gossip.

Boston’s Cardinal Sean O’Malley entered the fray on April 2, with a blog post explaining why he thought it was urgent to defend the pope. “Confusion and misinformation in the news media have obscured the pope’s effectiveness in dealing with sexual abuse of children by clergy,” he wrote.

“What’s very clear to me and I think to all who are fair-minded is that Cardinal Ratzinger and later Pope Benedict has been dedicated to eradicating sexual abuse in the church and trying to rectify the mistakes of the past. Until the sexual abuse crisis really became a part of the consciousness of the church in Europe there were many who were unsympathetic to our efforts in the US to deal with the problem in a transparent way and assure that our Catholic schools, parishes, and agencies would be safe for children. During this period of at least a decade, the strongest ally we had in this effort was Cardinal Ratzinger.”

In the eyes of O’Malley and many others, Benedict was the indispensable man.

But additional reporting in April complicated the matter further. American newspapers and the AP produced another story raising questions about the narrative of Ratzinger as hero, complete with a trail of documents including letters that he had signed in the 1980s. This was the lengthy saga of an Oakland priest named Stephen Kiesle, whose case languished for much of the decade in Ratzinger’s CDF.

In 1978, Kiesle pleaded guilty to charges of molesting two boys, ages 11 and 12, in his rectory. In 1981, Oakland bishop John Cummins passed on to Rome a request for laicization that originated with Kiesle himself. Four years later, Cummins received a letter from Ratzinger saying he needed more time and that “the good of the church” had to be considered in the final decision.

“As the scandal has deepened,” the New York Times’ Goodstein and Michael Luo reported on April 10, “the pope’s defenders have said that, well before elected pope in 2005, he grew ever more concerned about the scandal and weeding out pedophile priests. But the case of the Rev. Stephen Kiesle, and the trail of documents…shows that, in this period, at least, his concern seemed much more avoiding scandal in the church.”

The Times then put up on its website 18 documents (including a letter in Latin from Ratzinger), all of which came from attorney Anderson. Included was a February 1982 letter from Cummins to Ratzinger stressing that more scandal would be created by failing to laicize Kiesle than by taking action against him.

Ratzinger eventually approved the laicization in 1987. And while the Times did not claim or prove that Ratzinger put the brakes on Kiesle’s laicization, it seemed pretty clear that Vatican handling of the matter slowed down when Ratzinger got involved. What was not clear, in April, was why Ratzinger had been involved at all, since the CDF was supposed to be involved only in laicization cases that involved abuse of the confessional.

By that point, the Times itself had come to be regarded as one of the dramatis personae, especially by conservatives who viewed the paper as pursuing a conscious vendetta against the church and Benedict. Commentator George Weigel, among others, asked repeatedly (in the magazine First Things and elsewhere) why the scandal was never placed in the context of sexual abuse in other institutions, and attacked the Times’ story with particular vigor.

Clark Hoyt, the Times’ public editor, weighed in on April 24, defending Goodstein and the Times: “Some readers say the Times is anti-Catholic. They wonder why it isn’t giving equal effort to sex abuse in public schools, or in other religions. And Cardinal William Levada (the current head of the CDF) and others argue that Benedict improved the Vatican’s response to such cases, streamlining the procedures for hearing them and apologizing to victims.

“But it would be irresponsible to ignore the continuing revelations,” Hoyt wrote. “Like it or not, there are circumstances that have justifiably driven this story for years, including a well-documented pattern of denial and cover-up in an institution with billions of followers. Painful as it may be, the paper has an obligation to follow the story to where it leads, even to the pope’s door.”

Out in the blogosphere, Paul Moses, a former religion reporter and journalism professor, seconded the motion. “Journalists aren’t especially interested in individual cases of sexual abuse, but are very interested in stories about cover-ups in powerful institutions,” he wrote on dotCommonweal.org. “To say that sexual abuse in other churches or other sectors of society does not get the same media attention misses the point. The issue isn’t that Catholic priests are allegedly prone to commit sexual abuse, but that a small percentage of them were freed to do so, again and again, due to gross mismanagement, secrecy and lack of accountability on the part of church authorities. However dated most of the sexual abuse cases are, this story still calls out to be covered because some of those who failed to stop repeat abusers remain in positions of authority.”

One of the Times’ problems in covering the latest phase of the scandal was that it is now pretty much alone in both its sense of obligation and its capacity to pursue stories on so large a scale. During the past decade, American newspapers have become shadows of their former selves.

In 2002, the Boston Globe led the way, with ardent competition from the Times, the Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, and metropolitan dailies in Hartford, Pittsburgh, Cleveland, Chicago, Louisville, St. Louis, New Orleans, and San Diego, to name a few. Over the past few months, headed by Goodstein in New York and Rachel Donadio in Rome, perhaps a dozen Times reporters still assigned in Italy, Belgium, Germany, Ireland, and around the U.S. produced substantial pieces of journalism. In manpower and level of commitment to produce more than local coverage, the Times stood alone and looked like a gunslinger.

Writing in First Things on June 1, editor Joseph Bottum—no friend of the Times or its coverage—refocused attention. Calling Benedict “something like a hero,” he faulted the church for failing to act decisively to discipline its hierarchy, to end the careers of men like Sodano. “The bishops who ruled over those corrupt priests catastrophically failed to act,” he wrote. “The Catholic church did not start the worldwide epidemic of child sexual abuse, and it did not materially advance it. But the bureaucracy of the Church did not do nearly enough to fight that epidemic when it broke out among its own clergy.”

About Benedict’s handling of the Maciel case, Bottum offered this diagnosis: “The real problem is the lack of consequences—visible consequences—for failures and missteps and wrong associations in the Vatican. The real problem is that heads haven’t rolled, penalties haven’t been exacted.”

By mid-summer, there had emerged three ways of thinking about the pope and how he had handled clergy sexual abuse during his 30 years in the Vatican. Each was advanced by at least some people and had a case to be made for it. Not one was a perfect fit for what’s known or believed.

Way One: As both cardinal and pope, Benedict has been committed to restoring the orthodoxy and high standards of the church. Because he loves the priesthood, he defends it against those who betray it from within, and so was a stalwart opponent of clergy sexual abuse from the beginning. He is the heroic figure in Rome that O’Malley, Dolan, and so many other bishops have portrayed.

Way Two: Almost alone in Rome, it dawned on Ratzinger, probably sometime in the late 1990s, that the sexual misconduct crisis was real, widespread, and a deadly threat to the church. Until that date, he was preoccupied more with his campaign to support John Paul’s crusade to remake the church in a more conservative image, and he still shared reflexive concerns about the need to protect the church from scandal and preserve the prestige of the clergy. But by 2001, he was out front and gathering the administrative power to persuade the pope to let the CDF handle the problem. And as pope, he brought the hammer down.

Way Three: As cardinal, Ratzinger could sometimes see the import of the crisis, but he was always focused on an ideological agenda for conservative reform. He was unwilling to make combating sexual misconduct his top priority, especially if that meant slowing down the pace of reform or constraining “conservative” malefactors like Maciel. Neither could he tolerate sacrificing Vatican autonomy, whether by allowing more authority to local bishops, to the laity, or to the police powers of the state. And even as pope, he was only prepared to go so far.

For its proponents, Way One has costs as well as benefits. Most obviously, by portraying Benedict as a lonely hero, zealous supporters like Weigel and Bottum have to agree that the Vatican and the hierarchy in the field are full of bad actors, from Sodano and Bertone on down, up to their elbows in cover-ups and worse. And John Paul II’s reputation has to be pretty much thrown under the bus—hence a lot of rueful talk about his refusal to modify his agenda to address clerical sexual misconduct and his “blind spot” for evil but ideologically congenial characters like Maciel.

Way Two, which focuses on Ratzinger’s growing concern about the problem in the 1990s and his “come to Jesus” moment in 2001, is shared by the largest number of Catholic activists, including some official Vatican spokesmen.

But there are interpretive problems with it. In yet another Times story, this one published on July 1, Goodstein and David M. Halbfinger track the Vatican’s complex and confused handling of the crisis during the 1990s. This, according to them, cast “a new and less flattering light” on Cardinal Ratzinger’s “reputation as the Vatican insider who most clearly recognized the threat that the spreading sexual abuse scandal posed to the Roman Catholic Church.”

Specifically, the story raised questions about whether the 2001 decision to give the CDF control of the process of laicizing offending priests followed an extraordinary (and hitherto unacknowledged) meeting in April 2000 demanded by bishops from Ireland, Australia, the United States, Canada, and the West Indies to force the Vatican to respond to their concerns. The 2001 policy was “not a sharp break with past practices. It was mainly a belated reaffirmation of longstanding church procedures.”

Throughout the 1980s and 1990s, the Times reported, the world’s bishops were confused about which Vatican forums and procedures to use in seeking the laicization of priests. They were “daunted by bewildering bureaucratic and canonical legal processes, with contradicting laws and overlapping jurisdictions” in Rome. “There was confusion everywhere,” Archbishop Philip Edward Wilson of Adelaide, Australia told the Times.

At the meeting, Ratzinger, in marked contrast to many of his Vatican colleagues, came down clearly on the side of policing sexual offenders. However, it also became clear at the meeting that Ratzinger and the CDF had not vigorously asserted long-existing Vatican policies that gave the CDF the right to handle cases of priests accused of sexual misconduct.

Wilson, a canonist, had both before and at the meeting asked whether a policy statement issued in 1922 and reissued in 1962 giving the CDF jurisdiction was still in effect. Other bishops at the meeting had no idea that the policy existed. “For the two decades he was in charge of [the CDF], the future pope never asserted that authority, failing to act even as the cases undermined the church’s credibility in the United States, Australia, Ireland, and elsewhere,” Goodstein and Halbfinger wrote.

Most controversially, they bluntly asserted that “the future pope, it is now clear, was also a part of a culture of non-responsibility, denial, legalistic foot-dragging, and outright obstruction. More than any top Vatican official other than John Paul II, it was Cardinal Ratzinger who might have taken decisive action in the 1990s to prevent the scandal from metastasizing in country after country.”

Those tough words generated howls of outrage from Benedict’s defenders. Blogger Rod Dreher, a man who publicly left the Catholic Church because of its handling of the scandal, denounced the 4,000 word piece as a “weak hatchet job” on Benedict.

And in truth, the story doesn’t nail down a portrait of Cardinal Ratzinger as a “legalistic foot-dragger” cut from the same cloth as such Vatican hierarchs like Sodano, Bertone, or Cardinal Dario Castrillon Hoyos, head of the Congregation for the Clergy, who told the bishops gathered in 2000 that “sexual abuse is an unavoidable fact of life” and complained “that lawyers and the media were unfairly focused on it.”

However, it seems indisputable that Ratzinger preferred to focus his attention on the priorities he shared with John Paul: ending the practice of easy laicization for priests, defanging national conferences of bishops, opposing Marxist inroads on Catholic theology, and reshaping the legacy of the Second Vatican Council. Ratzinger did not stand up in the 1980s or 1990s to clarify the process of laicizing priests for his episcopal colleagues around the world. Rather, he let confusion prevail, dipping in occasionally rather than spending time and energy on forcing Vatican obstructionists to back down.

Further, both Ratzinger and John Paul II bear considerable responsibility for asserting a vastly expanded program of centralized control in the Vatican without improving the capacities of its administrative apparatus. Three decades into the sexual misconduct crisis, estimates of the size of the professional staff handing the cases in the CDF range from 10 to about 25 professionals. Even if the Curia’s staff is vigilant about reigning in rogue clergy (a position that few assert), that’s a tiny group to handle an inundation of complaints in very elaborate and slow moving investigative and legal processes. That is why the Belgian police were on the move.

So it appears that Way Three best fits the facts. Benedict may have the best track record among the current players, but it seems bootless to hope that he can bring himself to make heads roll in the hierarchy. Indeed, at the end of June he presided over a ritual that suggests just how deeply enmeshed in the folkways of the Vatican he really is.

Cardinal Christopher Schoenborn of Vienna, a former student who is closely aligned with the pope, had been one of Benedict’s most vigorous public cheerleaders at the end of March when the world’s bishops were rallying to defend him from charges of cover-up in Munich.

Schoenborn told Austrian television on March 30 that “to accuse him of being someone who covers things up—having known the pope for many years—I can say that that is certainly not true.” In the same statement Schoenborn recalled that in 1995, Ratzinger had come to his aid in demanding a special investigation of then-Cardinal Hans Hermann Groer of Vienna, who was eventually forced from office for allegedly molesting young monks.

“I can still very clearly remember the moment when Cardinal Ratzinger sadly told me that the other camp had asserted itself,” said Schoenborn, in an implicit criticism of Cardinal Angelo Sodano.

On June 30, the Vatican released an extraordinary statement rebuking Schoenborn, who it said had been summoned to a meeting in Rome on June 28 and ordered to apologize to Sodano in the presence of the pope. ‘”It must be reiterated that, in the church, when accusations are made against a cardinal, competency falls exclusively to the pope,” the communiqué read.

That pretty much said it all.

Vatican official says it is Curia's responsibility to conclude investigation into alleged abuse

Vatican official says it is Curia's responsibility to conclude investigation into alleged abuse
Claudia Calleja timesofmalta.com

It was now the responsibility of the Archdiocese of Malta to conclude “in a timely manner” its investigation into the alleged abuse that took place in a Church orphanage 20 years ago, a top Vatican official said yesterday confirming that his own report into the case had been concluded.

Last June, Mgr Charles Scicluna, the Vatican’s Promoter of Justice in the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, held meetings with some of the eight men who seven years ago alleged they had been abused by priests in a home for boys in Sta Venera in the 1980s and 1990s.

His aim was to gather direct information to supplement the work being done on the case by the Curia in the hope that the full investigation would be concluded “expeditiously”.

The victims have in the past been severely critical of the length of time it has taken the Curiaappointed response team to conclude its investigation.

Yesterday, Lawrence Grech, one of the alleged victims, said he was disappointed that Mgr Scicluna had concluded his report before carrying out more interviews. He said the monsignor had told him he would be returning in August to continue interviewing abuse victims.

On Sunday, Mr Grech heard through other media that Mgr Scicluna’s report had been finalised.

“I feel I’ve lost control over the matter,” he said, adding he was particularly interested in the outcome of the pending court case against his alleged abusers. Three priests are undergoing court proceedings over the allegations.

Mgr Scicluna yesterday confirmed he had completed his report in July and said: “I invite and encourage all persons who did not manage to meet me to approach the (Maltese Curia’s) response team (that will continue with the investigations).”

He added: “The meetings I had in June and July were very useful and important. I would like to thank all the witnesses who chose to cooperate with my work.”

His work has now been referred to the secretary of the Congregation at the Vatican. A copy of the written record of the meetings was also given to the Archdiocese of Malta, which was furthering its investigation through the response team, he said.

“It is the responsibility of the Archdiocese to conclude the investigation in a timely manner, evaluate the findings in liaison with the religious superiors and refer the developments in the matter to the (Vatican’s) Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith for further instructions and closure,” Mgr Scicluna said.

Questions were sent to the Curia asking what the next step would be and to provide a timeframe. However, a spokesman replied that the Curia did not give information on individual cases.

He explained that according to general procedure the response team was to present its report to the Archbishop and the Major Superior, who would take a decision according to the team’s conclusions.

Where minors were concerned, if there was primafacie evidence that the alleged abuse had taken place, the case was then referred to the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith

Kenyan Priest Charged With Sex Assault in Virginia Served As Chaplain in NH

Kenyan Priest Charged With Sex Assault in Virginia Served As Chaplain in NH
By Admin | Tue, 08/31/2010 12:53AM -0400 mwakilishi.com
A priest who had served as chaplain at a small New Hampshire Catholic college was arrested in Virginia last month and charged with sexual assault against an 11-year-old girl, two activists organizations said yesterday.

The Rev. Felix Owino was arrested in Herndon, Va., which is about 25 miles west of Washington, D.C. A Fairfax County police spokesman said Owino was considered a longtime friend of the alleged victim's family.

A native of Nairobi, Kenya, Owino served as chaplain of Magdalen College in Warner from June 2005 to October 2008, the college said yesterday. He was a member of the Africa-based Apostles of Jesus missionary worder.

Yesterday, New Hampshire Voice of the Faithful and Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests picketed outside the Diocese of Manchester offices yesterday to demand better efforts to find potential victims in the Granite State.

Diocesan spokesman Kevin Donovan said there are no allegations against Owino in New Hampshire involving sexual abuse of a minor. He said he was unaware of any allegations of improprieties against Owino.

"We've reached out to the college to offer pastoral and counseling support," Donovan said.

College spokesman Jim Van Damm said Owino was a part-time teacher and chaplain at the college, which had 68 students last year. The college never received any complaints about Owino when he was stationed there, he said.

"He was an excellent teacher and a pious priest," Van Damm said.

At the time of his arrest, Owino was on summer break from his duties as a philosophy instructor at Wheeling Jesuit University in West Virginia. He also served as associate pastor of St. Paul Parish in Weirton, W.Va.

The Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston suspended Owino from his priestly duties pending the outcome of his trial in Virginia. He had been scheduled for court Thursday, but that has been postponed.

In Manchester yesterday, Carolyn Disco urged the diocese and Magdalen officials to reach out to alumni and other participants in Magdalen programs during the Owino's years in Warner.

"We are well within the statute of limitations for criminal prosecution," said Disco. "That's not to say there's something here."

The diocesan website yesterday made no mention of Owino, or any priest accused of sex crimes. Donovan noted that the website includes a link on its homepage on how to report abuse. The diocese also runs notices in church bulletins about how to report abuse, he said.

"We don't put up (information about) specific priests," Donovan said. "This priest was never assigned a ministry in a New Hampshire parish."

Disco said the groups want more than a generic notice about reporting sexual abuse. Most victims, she said, do not report abuse, and proactive outreach by the diocese would encourage any possible victims of Owino, or other priests, to speak up instead of suffering in silence.

Disco said Bishop John B. McCormack has a poor record of outreach.

"It's about outreach," she said. "You do more than just a one paragraph boilerplate (notice)."

Earlier this month, McCormack announced he had submitted his resignation to Pope Benedict 16th. No replacement has been named, and McCormack continues in his role as shepherd of New Hampshire Catholics.

Donovan said Magdalen College is a private Catholic entity that is not overseen by the bishop. Magdalen brought Owino to the college, and all McCormack did was verify that he was a priest in good standing with his order, Donovan said.

That allowed Owino to celebrate Mass in the diocese.

Donovan said the diocese would report to authorities any allegations of child-sex crimes involving an outside priest to authorities.