Monday, February 28, 2011

Sex abuse bishop

http://allafrica.com/stories/201102280364.html
Kenya: Sex Abuse Bishop Was Quietly Retired
Walter Menya and Giuseppe Liguori
27 February 2011
Nairobi — A Missionary order has pledged to cooperate with the authorities in investigations into a bishop who left Kenya after being accused of sexual abuse.

Responding to questions by the Nation into the circumstances surrounding the retirement and departure of Ngong Catholic Bishop Cornelius Schilder, the General Superior of the St Joseph's Missionary Society Rev Anthony Chantry replied:

"With regard to recent allegations that have been made in the Kenyan Press, our Society will cooperate with any civil enquiry which may be initiated in the best interests of safeguarding children and vulnerable adults."

The Archbishop of Nairobi John Cardinal Njue, who has been directly responsible for administering the Ngong Diocese since Bishop Schilder left, said he did not know the reasons behind the 2009 departure.

The Cardinal said he only knows that the bishop was allowed by the Vatican to retire early on health grounds. He also said he was not the Archbishop of Nairobi at the time.

During the period that claims against Bishop Schilder were investigated, the Catholic church was under Archibishop Ndingi Mwana a' Nzeki. Efforts to reach Archbishop Ndingi were not successful as staff at his office said he was ill and could not talk to the press.

Since taking over the Ngong diocese, Cardinal Njue said, no issues about the conduct of the former bishop had been brought to his attention; and therefore he would not comment. The Cardinal asked why the issue was being raised long after it was concluded and Bishop Schilder left the country.

However, there is credible information that a church inquiry initiated locally and then referred to the Vatican had found the allegations against Bishop Schilder, a Dutchman affiliated with the Mill Hill missionaries, as credible. The alleged offences were committed when he served as a priest in Ngong diocese before taking over as Bishop in November 2003.

The Ngong diocese comprises Kajiado, Transmara and Narok districts with 29 parishes with an estimated 101,870 Catholics out of a population of 960,303. That Bishop Schilder faced such accusations was confirmed by Fr Alphons Eppink, who was the Superior of the Mill Hill Missionaries in Kenya between 2005 and 2008 during the period of investigations.

Reached in Oosterbeek, Netherlands, where he is now based, Fr Alphons confirmed that there were investigations against Bishop Schilder.

However he said the matter was finalised at the Vatican and therefore he was not in a position to give any information. "I was in Kenya during the investigations but I don't want to comment, really," he concluded, "I am afraid I cannot comment because the case was handled by Rome".

Fr Alphons however confirmed that Bishop Schilder was no longer allowed to publicly celebrate Mass, an indication that he left the pulpit in disgrace rather than by ordinary retirement.

Approached by the Nation, Javier Herrera Corona, Secretary of the Apostolic Nunciature-- the Vatican representative office--in Nairobi, denied any knowledge that Bishop Schilder was edged out because of unacceptable activities. However, he insisted that the activities of one individual should not be used to besmirch the church.

"We have to distinguish the public life of a person and the private side. What a person does in private should be left to him to answer and not drag a whole community to answer on his behalf," said Fr Javier.

Fr Javier would neither confirm nor deny that Bishop Schilder faced such accusations, but asked that the matter be left alone. "It is not the right time to bring this matter to the public," he said. The Vatican envoy however defended the Nunciature from any blame, explaining that there is little it can do where a member of the clergy is accused of sexual abuse.

The Vatican representative said that church rules require that a priest found engaging in sex abuse should face secular law. However, this did not happen in the case of Bishop Schilder. It was never reported to the police according to Ngong DC Hiram Kahiro.

Sextortion

http://ipsnews.net/news.asp?idnews=54639
Time to Drag Sextortion into the Light
By Cléo Fatoorehchi

UNITED NATIONS, Feb 27, 2011 (IPS) - In their 2010 book "Half the Sky", Pulitzer Prize-winners Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn write about a disturbing but not uncommon problem in Southern Africa - male teachers who trade good grades for sex with students.

The authors note that "half of Tanzanian women, and nearly half of Ugandan women, say they were abused by male teachers."

There's a word for this – "sextortion".

The main characteristic of sextortion cases is that they involve a perpetrator in a position of influence or authority, Joan Winship, executive director of the International Association of Women Judges (IAWJ), told IPS.

This includes teachers, but also policemen, priests or employers, for example.


Using the Internet to fight back
The Internet is viewed as increasing the potential for various forms of sexual abuse, such as by the hacking of webcams or computers in search of compromising photos. Teenagers are the most affected by this new trend, since they are easily intimidated.

However, IAWJ considers the Internet a useful tool "for victims (of sextortion) to find each other, share stories and offer support," Goldstein told IPS. "Thus, you have groups springing up such as SNAP (the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests") and STAMP (Survivors Take Action against Military Personnel)."

She also pointed out that if "it's easy to brush aside a single allegation of sexual abuse/sexual harassment/sextortion, it's much harder to ignore thousands."

She cited the examples of the 2004 John Jay College of Criminal Justice report, "The Nature and Scope of the Problem of Sexual Abuse of Minors by Catholic Priests and Deacons in the United States," (which) brought together 10,667 complaints against 4,392 individual priests."

In addition, "sexual harassment - the quid pro quo form of which is a canonical example of sextortion - went from being something that "just happened" to women, to "a violation of the law."

Finally, new technologies represent a tremendous tool for proving allegations of sexual extortion.

"It is no coincidence that many of the sextortion cases that have led to actual court convictions involved compromising e- mails, texts, audio or video recordings," said Goldstein.

Thanks to these new tools, "at least we have been able to move from denial or blaming a few rotten apples to the acknowledgment that sexual abuse/harassment/sextorti on are serious problems embedded in institutional cultures - and they need to be addressed," she concluded.


"There is (also) an element of quid pro quo, where, if you agree to have sex, then I will be able to give you a promotion, or a raise, or your visa, or I will not give you a traffic ticket. So there is an element of exchange there, which can be either explicit or implicit," she explained.

These elements of exchange and power imply consent from the victim, and "that makes it a challenge (to prosecute)," said Winship. "It's part of the problem why it hasn't been defined, and this is what we're trying to do."

With the annual meeting of the Commission on the Status of Women taking place this week in New York, the IAWJ is using the opportunity to shed light on sextortion.

Sextortion is a widespread phenomenon found in all countries of the world. But since it is mostly unreported, impunity is common for perpetrators.

It is with the goal of ending this impunity that IAWJ launched a programme entitled "Stopping the Abuse of Power for Purposes of Sexual Exploitation: Naming, Shaming, and Ending Sextortion" in March 2009 in The Hague.

Aided by the government of the Netherlands through its MDG3 Fund, the programme pulls together three of IAWJ's partners from Tanzania, the Philippines, and Bosnia-Herzegovina. The concrete outcome of this initiative will be the creation of a toolkit by June 2011, which will provide judges with a range of current laws that can be applied to cases of sextortion.

As Hon. Teresita de Castro, from the Supreme Court of the Philippines, highlighted during a panel on the issue this week, when people understand that sextortion is a crime, then justice can be done.

Victims of sextortion also need to see it as a crime and overcome their fear of speaking out, even though "when they do come forward, there are other obstacles (for prosecution)," said Nancy Hendry, IAWJ senior legal advisor.

"She or he stands alone not only against the individual defendant, but also against the entire institution that the defendant represents - and historically, the community that has invested its trust in the defendant," Anne Goldstein, IAWJ human rights education director, told IPS.

IAWJ is not advocating for a new legal framework on this issue, either at the country or international level. "The problem is not an absence of law, the problem is the absence of will to enforce [existing] laws," Goldstein said.

IAWJ considers sextortion "a form of corruption", where it is not money but sex that is at stake. But while reparations can be made for financial corruption, sextortion brings psychological and physical damage, and overall is much more dangerous, Hon. de Castro underlined.

IAWJ is lobbying to have existing anti-corruption laws used to prosecute sextortion perpetrators. Goldstein told IPS their purpose is to "draw together in one place both the anti-Gender Based Violence laws and the anti-corruption laws that are generally looked at separately but - IAWJ believes - need to be integrated."

"A successful strategy against sextortion would mainstream anti-corruption efforts into gender - and vice versa," she said. And for Winship to conclude: "we want to change the thinking, that the currency does not have to be only money; the currency can be asking for sex."

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Cardinal avoids jail - for now

http://www.catholica.com.au/gc3/rs/007_rs_260211.php
Clerical abuse campaigner Richard Sipe has sent us this new assessment of the renewed state of the clerical abuse scandal in the United States following the release last month of the second lengthy Philadelphia Grand Jury investigation into the sexual abuse of minors in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia by archdiocesan clergy and employees. Mr Sipe concludes that the prosecution of a higher level official in the Church grows closer and the abuse scandal for the institution is far from over in the United States.

Cardinal Rigali Avoids Prison ... For Now!

by A.W. Richard Sipe

On January 21, 2011 the Philadelphia Grand Jury under District Attorney R. Seth Williams issued a Report on sexual abuse by Roman Catholic priests.[1] The entire text (124 pages) is included in the attached PDF which you can download or view HERE. It is the finest, clearest, and most complete account of the pattern and practice of the Catholic Church in dealing with priests who abuse minors and their victims. If you want to know the real dynamics of the Catholic clerical system read this report.[2]

In short: the Grand Jury released what has been termed a "sordid" (in content) report on clergy sex abuse. This led to the arrest of a Catholic schoolteacher and three archdiocesan priests on rape, indecent sexual assault and other criminal charges:

Fr. Charles Engelhardt, 64, an Oblate of St. Francis de Sales, is accused of orally sodomizing and molesting a 10-year-old altar boy in 1998 in the sacristy at St. Jerome Parish in Northeast Philadelphia.
Fr. Edward Avery, 68, an Archdiocesan priest who was defrocked in 2006, is charged with the same offenses against the same boy. And this boy's sixth-grade teacher at St. Jerome School, 48-year-old Bernard Shero, is accused of orally and anally sodomizing the then-11-year-old in the back of the teacher's car.
Fr. James Brennan, 47, an Archdiocesan priest, is accused of forcing his penis into the buttocks of a 14-year-old former parishioner when he was in the priest's bed. At the time, the summer of 1996, Father Brennan was on leave from Cardinal O'Hara High School. In 1997, he was returned to active ministry and assigned to St. Jerome Parish.
Importantly, Monsignor William Lynn, former Vicar for clergy is charged with endangering the welfare of children for allowing the priests work.
in 1996 and 1998. So much for the church's claim that clergy abuse is in the distant past.

Cardinal Bevilacqua who was not indicted, but whose hands were obviously dirty according to the 2005 Philadelphia Grand Jury Report (after 6 appearances), escapes an indictment again because he has "dementia" and cancer.


"what is very significant for the entire church in the U.S. is that the supervising priest, William Lynn, is indicted for the endangerment of children."


There have been priests accused and convicted of child rape before, but what is very significant for the entire church in the U.S. is that the supervising priest, William Lynn, is indicted for the endangerment of children. (Cf. LA and Mahony). The noose is getting closer to episcopal necks as investigations get more objective and the pattern of abuse in the system is laid out. Children are endangered precisely because cardinals know exactly what their Vicars do. Vicars do exactly what their boss wants. (Cardinals do exactly what their boss wants — that is the Pope.) Bishops and cardinals use an elaborate system of denial to cover their tracks. Chancery offices are filled with people who will take the "fall" for their boss. Bishops — especially cardinals — act like Hogan's Heroes Sergeant Schultz, they proclaim "I know nothing" or "they did it".[3] Or, as Governor Frank Keating portrayed them, as operating like "cosa nostra".

Cardinal Rigali was on the defense immediately once the report became public and he claimed, "there are no archdiocesan priests in ministry today who have an admitted or established allegation of sexual abuse of a minor against them". This, of course, is not what the Report laid out for all to examine. The Grand Jury could trace 37 credibly accused offenders who are still in ministry.

Rigali went on YouTube to reassure the faithful of his sadness for abuse, but he thumbs his nose at the problem and victims — all of the faithful — as he pulls a legalistic hat-trick when he insists, "Mistakes are one thing…Intentions are another". No evidence of effective reforms or real responsibility are evident in his statements. PR hustle, yes.

Cardinal Law was not pursued for criminal behavior, not because the Massachusetts Grand Jury Report lacked evidence, but because state law demanded "criminal intent" to convict.

It remains to be seen if Lynn will be convicted. Will he be a foil for his superiors? Will he tell what he knows in a criminal trial? A common church trick to avoid exposure is to have an indicted priest plead guilty, take his sentence and receive an annuity as reward.

Scrutiny of bishops and cardinals will not be dissuaded by protestations of sadness and sorrow for abuse. The time for apologies is over. Now is the time for responsibility.

This second Philadelphia Grand Jury after two years of investigation concluded that:

The archdiocese lacked "urgency in its efforts to eradicate sexual abuse by its priests."
The church appointed panel looking into the allegations dismissed credible charges against a priest by more than one independent victim.
The actions of the archdiocese are simply not the actions of an institution that is serious about ending sexual abuse of children.
The archdiocese remains focused on protecting its assets and reputation above all else.
These conclusions are strikingly similar to previous Grand Jury Reports. Note the first U.S. investigation to examine and assess the problem of sex abuse in the diocese of Rockville Center, New York — the Suffolk County Supreme Court Special Grand Jury published on January 17, 2002:

The history of the diocese [RC] demonstrates that as an institution they are incapable of properly handling issues relating to the abuse of children by priests.
Officials used the hollow promise of treatment and reassignment for offenders and … monetary payments to … guarantee silence.
The conduct of certain officials would have warranted criminal prosecution but for the fact that existing statutes are inadequate.
The Massachusetts Grand Jury reported on priest sex abuse in the Archdiocese of Boston on July 23, 2003. Its conclusions are so commensurate with the Philadelphia findings that if the locales are redacted the content would be indistinguishable. For instance from Boston:

The widespread abuse of children was due to institutional acceptance of abuse and a massive and pervasive failure of leadership. Officials knew the extent of the problem for many years before it became public. Officials did not inform authorities of allegations. They withheld information from investigations. They failed to adequately investigate allegations. Officials transferred abusive priests to other parishes or dioceses. They failed to supervise priest abusers. In short they put children at risk for abuse.


The Archdiocese of Philadelphia website contains a number of text and video responses to the Grand Jury Report. Click this image above or HERE, to access these responses.


Why? To preserve image and save money.

There is no evidence that things have changed in Philadelphia since a prior Grand Jury Report was published in 2005. But this current report is more dangerous for the clerical establishment because it comes closer to laying indictable blame for continued clergy violation of minors exactly where it really is — with the boss, the cardinal, or at least at this stage with his vicar.

Until this message becomes operative, effective and implemented the Roman Catholic Church will continue to select, produce, hide, and defend sexually abusing priests.

A recent press headline may indicate change in the civic pressure on the modus operendi of bishops in the United States:

(Reuters) The Archbishop of Philadelphia and his predecessor were accused on Monday [February 14] in a civil lawsuit of endangering children by concealing the identity and sexual abuse of predatory priests from law enforcement to save the church from a costly scandal. Among the seven people and three institutions named in the lawsuit filed in Common Pleas Court in Philadelphia were the current Archbishop Cardinal Justin Rigali, his predecessor Cardinal Anthony Bevilacqua, Monsignor William Lynn, the Rev. Richard Cochrane and Martin Satchell, who has left the priesthood.

The lawsuit accuses the Archdiocese, the sixth largest in the United States with 1.5 million Catholics, of implementing "programs and procedures that were misrepresented to the public as providing help to victims of childhood sexual abuse by clergy, but were instead maliciously used to develop information to protect the Archdiocese".

Stay tuned for developments. The sexual abuse crisis in the Catholic Church is not over.

Complaints

http://www.mysanantonio.com/opinion/editorials/article/Church-handled-complaints-poorly-1032542.php

Church handled complaints poorly
Leaders ignored Charter for the Protection of Children.
Express-News Editorial Board
Published 12:00 a.m., Sunday, February 27, 2011
02/26/2011 Page 1 of 1
If John Fiala had been a teacher or a police officer, there’s almost no chance he could have amassed a lengthy list of accusations of impropriety with children and still held a job. People entrusted with positions of authority are held to strict standards of accountability — as they should be.

Fiala, however, was a priest. As Express-News staff writer Abe Levy reported, the actions of church leaders allowed him to continue serving in parishes over two decades, beginning in the 1980s, filled with complaints about highly inappropriate behavior with boys and defiance of parental demands that he cease contact with their children.

Kansas authorities arrested Fiala in September as a fugitive from Texas on a four-count indictment, including aggravated sexual assault. Texas Rangers and Department of Public Safety troopers re-arrested Fiala in November on two more charges of sexually assaulting a teenage boy and one charge of soliciting someone to murder his accuser.

What is spelled out in Levy’s reporting is that over the course of his priestly career, the archdiocese of Omaha and Fiala’s religious order failed to take appropriate action in response to serious and credible allegations of misconduct by Fiala. The bureaucratic workings of the church are partly responsible for this failure. But the larger share of the blame lies with church leaders who failed to act responsibly.

What makes this irresponsibility all the more shocking is that many of the allegations against Fiala — and some failures to respond appropriately — occurred after the promulgation in 2002 of the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. The charter, created in response to sexual abuse scandals, lays out a comprehensive set of procedures to follow in cases of alleged sexual abuse.

The church’s actions failed to live up to the charter’s articles. Perhaps most pertinently, church leaders were not “open and transparent in communicating with the public about sexual abuse of minors” and in “informing parish and other church communities directly affected by ministerial misconduct involving minors.”

The bishops pledged to “put into positions of trust only those who share this commitment to protecting children and youth.”

In the case of John Fiala, it appears that they failed to fulfill this pledge — to the detriment of the church he was allowed to serve and the children he was allowed to minister.



Read more: http://www.mysanantonio.com/opinion/editorials/article/Church-handled-complaints-poorly-1032542.php#ixzz1FB6mjp1S

Sweden

http://www.presstv.ir/detail/167275.html
Church confirms 3 pedophilia priests
Sun Feb 27, 2011 8:33AM
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Bishop Anders Aborelius said on April 13, 2010 that the Roman Catholic Church in Sweden will investigate four claims of clergy abuse.Sweden's Roman Catholic Church has confirmed that three of its priests have carried out acts of pedophilia, as sex scandals and allegations of high-level cover-ups continue to rock the church.


The pedophile clergymen cannot be prosecuted as they are covered by the statute of limitations, AFP reported on Saturday.

According to the report, the crimes took place between 1940 and 1970.

The church opened a probe in April 2010 into allegations that four priests had committed pedophile acts.

A Church report, dated February 25 and put online on Saturday, said that the responsibility of the three priests had been confirmed.

The report noted that one of the three priests has died, another is no longer a priest and the third could not be identified.

"For the fourth priest, the accusations could not be corroborated by the investigation," said the report, adding that investigators had been unable to speak to the alleged victim.

Pedophilia scandals have rocked the Roman Catholic Church since last year. Pope Benedict XV himself has been accused of aiding efforts to protect pedophile priests from prosecution.

Charges against the Pope alleging crimes against humanity have been initiated at the International Criminal Court.

Two German lawyers, Christian Sailer and Gert-Joachim Hetzel from the Pope's home state of Bavaria, have submitted a 16,500-word document indicting the Pope for various crimes against humanity.

Pope Benedict is charged with the "establishment and maintenance of a worldwide system of cover-up of the sexual crimes committed by Catholic priests and their preferential treatment, which aids and abets ever new crimes."

Pastor's porn

http://www.sacbee.com/2011/02/26/3434274/a-web-of-porn-ex-modesto-youth.html
A Web of Porn: Ex-Modesto youth pastor makes admission
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By Sue Nowicki
snowicki@modbee.com
Published: Sunday, Feb. 27, 2011 - 12:22 am
Last Modified: Sunday, Feb. 27, 2011 - 12:42 am
Jason Ulven, a former Modesto youth pastor, was downloading a pornographic video on his computer at work when he had to leave it to go to the weekly pastoral staff prayer meeting.

While he was gone, his administrative assistant went into Ulven's office to use the computer and was shocked by what he saw.

The assistant, who had been on the job for only a couple of weeks, didn't confront Ulven, but did tell the Rev. Mark Krieger, Modesto Covenant's senior pastor. A day or two later, when he was called into Krieger's office, Ulven downplayed the incident. After all, even his wife had caught just a glimpse of his secret life over the past 15 years, and the lies went deep.

"I told him I clicked on something, and it was a stupid mistake to make, and it wouldn't ever happen again. I was trying to cover up the addiction," Ulven said.

But Krieger had talked to denominational officials with experience in sexual addictions. They advised him to take Ulven's computer and have an expert look at it. Ulven was temporarily suspended, pending an investigation.

Ulven is among a growing number of pastors — and men in general — who have been ensnared by an addiction to pornography. In a 2001 "Christianity Today" poll, 53 percent of pastors said Internet porn was a temptation and 37 percent called it a current struggle.

The addiction may seem solitary, but in fact ismessy, inflicting distress on the spouse, children, ministry and others.

Ulven and his wife found help and a renewed faith, but it wasn't easy.

"I was in torment," Ulven said. "I had this major problem, and I knew it was a major problem, but I didn't want to admit it. But I had to admit it.

"I remember taking my boys down to the park. They wanted to try riding a bike without training wheels for the first time. And they did it. As I ran alongside them, I remember thinking this should be my proudest moment at the time, but it wasn't because I was a hypocritical pastor, and I was living a lie."

A few nights later, Ulven couldn't sleep. One fleeting thought was that he still had a key to the church, so he could go and retrieve his computer from the senior pastor's office.

"But I was not a criminal, and I knew it was just time to come clean," he said.

He wrote one letter to the senior pastor, admitting everything, and one to his wife, Jill. Up until that time, he said, "I was still deceiving her."


Grace and discipline

The Covenant denomination put Ulven under "discipline" and took away his pastoral license. They said the family should attend a different church to protect those hurt by his addiction, a consequence that deeply affected Ulven's wife and children.

Local church leaders agreed on a plan: They would pay for an intensive four-day workshop in Tennessee on sexual addictions for the Ulvens and for counseling beyond that. They agreed to continue to pay Ulven's salary for three months.

Ulven said it was an offer full of grace, one he knew he didn't deserve.

His first step in his road to recovery was joining a newly formed support group in Modesto that worked with men addicted to pornography. Three pastors, including one with a story similar to Ulven's, and four other men met weekly and agreed to be accountable to each other.

"For the first time, I felt like this was a God thing, that getting caught was something God had initiated," Ulven said.

He and his wife and their two young sons — Riley and Zachary, then 8 and 5 — stayed in Modesto for a year. He took a job as a charter bus driver to pay the bills.

After the year, his church-sanctioned discipline was removed. He moved with his family to the Chicago area to enroll in North Park Seminary to complete his divinity degree.

The denomination allowed him to regain his pastoral license, Ulven said, because he never crossed the line into sexual abuse. "I never had touched anyone inappropriately or treated anyone inappropriately. If so, they would have still had me under discipline."


Childhood exposure

Like many pornography addicts, Ulven got his first taste of graphic sexual photos when he was in fifth grade and a friend showed him a "dirty" magazine. The images, he said, "really left an imprint."

The enticement grew in his teenage years.

"I was a real shy kid who didn't have any confidence in speaking to girls, so when I could get access to pornography, there was some kind of comfort to that," Ulven said. "I could look at that stuff and feel better. In your fantasy mind, these women accept you."

His cycle of addiction began when he joined the Navy after high school. It coincided with his decision to become a Christian.

"I would feel just a low self-worth and then turn to pornography to medicate that. Then, as a Christian, I would feel that I screwed it up and would try not to see it," Ulven said. "A few weeks would go by, and then I would just cave. There was a real repetition to that pattern."

When he left the Navy in 1993, he met Jill in a Bible study. They were married the next year in Oregon.

"There were some of these milestone moments when I thought, 'If only this thing happens, I'd be cured,' " Ulven said. "One of them was marriage. I thought all of my sexual needs would be met, and I could leave all this (pornography) behind."

But the Internet had arrived and was like an adrenaline shot to his addiction.

"I felt powerless to the computer," he said. "My addiction escalated, even when I felt spiritually close to God."

Like other sexual addictions, Ulven's pornography use proved costly.

"It probably damaged every relationship that I had," he said. "Pornography is this illusion that you start to believe. It affected the way I saw Jill. I was always attracted to Jill. The damage wasn't reflected (in comparing her to 'perfect' women). It had to do with the guilt. When we were intimate, I felt guilty. I wasn't able to enjoy what God said was a good thing."

Addiction to pornography created a barrier between Ulven and God. "I felt much shame," he said. "It's this weird irony that what we all want on our deepest level is to be loved and accepted just as we are. God offers that. But I didn't get that, and I turned to pornography to feel better about myself by the acceptance of these fantasy women. It was driving a wedge between God and myself. It's strange that we take something good from God, sex, and twist it to make it something bad."


Burden falls on wife

Jill said her husband became adept at hiding the depth of his addiction.

"He came to me pretty early on in our marriage and told me that he had a problem with it," she said. "I was just trying to do everything I could to get rid of all the places that it would be a temptation. I would call the video store and say, 'No adult movies can be rented on our account.' I'd check the history on the computer. I checked the mail. But I didn't really know the extent of it. It turned out he had his own account somewhere else, so it was pointless."

Unlike other women who often feel unworthy or physically unattractive when their husbands turn to pornography, Jill said, "I didn't feel like it was something wrong with me, but it upset me. I felt betrayed and lied to and deceived. But I never understood the addiction part."

After the Ulvens moved to Modesto in 2003, Jill said she didn't see evidence for three years that her husband was still looking at pornography. Then, on Valentine's Day weekend in 2006, she found and erased images on his home computer.

"We set up all kinds of rules," she said. "I told him he couldn't erase the (computer) memory. Then he came home a couple of months later and said they'd found it on his church laptop.

"He said it was because all of the rules at home had pushed him over. He said the (youth group) kids used his laptop, and who knew where all this stuff came from? It was just denial, denial. Finally, on the following Sunday, he said this had been going on forever."

The workshop in Tennessee proved "extremely helpful and insightful" to Jill. "That's when I found that all the checking I was doing was co-dependent stuff, and it wasn't my job," she said.

"He had his recovery, and my job was to stick to my recovery. I was really grieving, and I didn't know I was. I was grieving the loss of our church, the loss of support, the loss of financial security, all of that. That's when I started learning how strong I was and had enough strength to get through it."

It doesn't mean her journey was easy. "We'd moved to Modesto to be at that church," she said. "I worked at the church. I did Pioneer girls (a children's program) at the church. I was in a Bible study at the church. My whole life was at the church, and we could no longer go to the church.

"I remember being in my body and moving around and not existing, not wanting to look at anybody. But by the grace of God, I was moving and doing what I needed to do."

A couple of years ago, Ulven was asked to tell his story to a group of about 1,000 pastors and their wives.

Jill had mixed feelings about it, sorrow that their "dirty laundry" was being aired again, but pride in her husband for recovering from the addiction and hope that their story could help others.

"I feel God has been using me to pay it forward, to be there for others who are going through the same thing," she said. "The most important thing that I pass on to wives is it has nothing to do with them. All the addiction stuff starts a long time before they meet you.

"The other thing I pass on to people is that I didn't come from a perfect background, either. I was able to give Jason grace because I needed it, too."


Confession to sons

Ulven's addiction affected not only his spouse, but also his children.

"We talk to our boys all the time," he said. "Even before we left Modesto, we called it what it is: Dad looked at pictures of naked people and that was the wrong thing to do. We've been very upfront with them. They're innocent — only 5 and 8 years old — and you don't want to damage that, but they're going to come into it.

"Our boys are now 13 and 10. On TV, we block out certain channels. We put passwords on Riley's iPhone. We know there are people out there who are targeting him with their ads. There is an agenda to hook these boys early on."

Along with the confession of wrongdoing, Jill added, came a powerful message.

"We told our kids, 'Daddy's made a big mistake, but we're going to be here as a family, and if you ever make a mistake, we'll be here as a family for you.' "


Walking in the light

Ulven finished his seminary education in 2009 and signed on again with the Navy, this time as a chaplain. He's living in Maryland and stationed at a Coast Guard facility.

His experiences have helped him advise others who have come to him, troubled with sexual addictions. Ulven urges them to join an accountability group, which he called "the key to my recovery. You have to talk to other males about it."

He likes a Bible verse from I John: "It talks about walking in the light. It doesn't mean walking perfectly without ever stumbling. It means shining the light on the darkest part of our hearts.

"To me, that means if we are going to be pure as Christian men, we have to be able to admit everything. For the first 15 years of my addiction, I tried to overcome it without shining a light in that darkness. I prayed for years for God to instantly deliver me. He does that sometimes, but he didn't do it with me. He did it when I was willing to admit everything and walk in the light."

Like a recovering alcoholic, Ulven said, "I will always be a recovering sex addict.

"There are boundaries that I now need to set to keep myself sober (such as) accountability with other men. Another key tool for my recovery is on every computer I use, is a program called Covenant Eyes, accountability software that keeps track of all the sites you go to. Anything it flags, it sends to my accountability partner."

Don't quit working for God just because you've had problems, he said.

"When everything fell apart back in Modesto, and I was questioning whether I should even be in ministry, I was reminded that God had used me despite everything. I became very excited to see how God could use me without all those shackles.

"For years, I was withholding a part of me from God. Now I say, 'God, you can have all of me.' "

News for victims

http://www.boston.com/bostonglobe/editorial_opinion/oped/articles/2011/02/27/jolting_news_for_clergy_abuse_victim/
Jolting news for clergy abuse victim
By Joan Vennochi
Globe Columnist / February 27, 2011
Father James F. Talbot — a Jesuit priest who molested him when he was a teenager — is about to get out of prison, he was told by the Massachusetts Department of Corrections. The target release date is March 18. Talbot is asking to serve a three-year probation period in an out-of-state treatment facility.

Talbot will be free in a way his victims never will be, said Higgins, 55, who now lives in Florida.

“He gets to heave a big sigh of relief. The rest of us are stuck with it, ’’ he said.

In the early 1970s, Higgins had a part-time job at the rectory of the Immaculate Conception Church in Boston’s South End, where Talbot worked. In 2003, Higgins was one of 14 men who were part of an approximately $5.2 million settlement of civil claims against Talbot.

Most of the other plaintiffs were former students at Boston College High School, where Talbot taught history and economics and coached soccer and hockey from 1972 to 1980. His victims said the priest encouraged them to wrestle one-on-one with him, sometimes clad only in jockstraps, and then forcibly molested them. In 1980, Talbot was transferred to the Cheverus High School in Portland, Maine.

According to records kept by bishopaccountability.org, Talbot was removed from ministry and sent to St. Luke’s Center in Maryland in 1998, when a former student at Cheverus accused him of sexual abuse. In 2005, he pleaded guilty to the rape and assault of two boys who were BC High students in the 1970s. He was sentenced to five to seven years in prison.

A spokesperson for the Department of Corrections said Talbot is currently at the Massachusetts Treatment Center in Bridgewater. By law, Massachusetts cannot provide information about prisoner release dates, the spokesperson said.

“If Father Talbot received a jail sentence of one year for every innocent child he molested, he’d probably be in jail for the rest of his natural life,’’ said Boston lawyer Mitchell Garabedian, who has represented hundreds of sexual abuse victims, including some of Talbot’s accusers.

Putting old crimes behind them as new abuse allegations emerge continues to challenge the Catholic Church.

“We want to be part of a church that puts survivors, the victims of abuse, first — ahead of self-interest, reputation, and institutional needs,’’ said O’Malley in Dublin.

But, to survivors, the church still misses the mark.

As Higgins sees it, O’Malley is in Ireland “to clean things up as smoothly as possible.’’ His predecessor, Cardinal Bernard Law, “should have been imprisoned.’’ Instead, Law resigned and was relocated to Rome, where he has “a great life.’’ As for Talbot, “He’s not defrocked . . . There’s a certain amount of punishment he’s received, but not from the church.’’

The Boston Archdiocese referred a call for comment to the Society of Jesus in New England.

“We are committed to placing him in a secure and monitored location, given the grave nature of his crimes,’’ said Alice Poltorick, a spokeswoman for the Jesuits. She said there are no plans for Talbot to remain at a Jesuit residence following his release.

“A process is underway to remove him from the priesthood,’’ she said. In the meantime, “he continues to be fully restricted and will never be allowed any ministry.’’

To Higgins, that response is infuriating.

“In terms of the process underway to remove him from the priesthood — they’ve had years to do that,’’ he said. As Senator Scott Brown’s newly-released memoir reminds us, sexual abuse of children extends beyond any single institution. Brown’s childhood memories include a graphic description of being sexually assaulted by a counselor at a Christian summer camp on Cape Cod when he was 10. But for those preyed upon by Catholic priests, decades of denial are hard to forgive and impossible to wash away.

Priest steps aside

http://www.todaystmj4.com/news/local/116991183.html
Elm Grove Priest Steps Aside Amid Allegations
By Michele Fiore
ELM GROVE -- Sexual abuse allegations have surfaced against a priest.

Reverend Laurin Wenig is voluntarily stepping aside from his duties at St. Mary's Visitation Parish, while the Milwaukee Archdiocese investigates a claim, dating back abut 35 years.

Wenig is denying the allegations. According to a letter distributed at mass Saturday, the case is being referred to the authorities for initial investigation.

Priest accused

http://www.mysanantonio.com/news/religion/article/Woman-claimingabuse-by-S-A-priest-1031606.php

Woman claiming abuse by S.A. priest
She says rapes began at age 10. Cleric now dead.
By Abe Levy

Updated 08:30 a.m., Saturday, February 26, 2011
. Rosio Castro (right) with her mother, Patricia Castro, on the grounds of St. John Berchmans Catholic Church. Rosio Castro says she was repeatedly raped by Father Theo A. Clerx, who died seven years ago.
Photo: San Antonio Express-News Rosio Castro (right) with her mother, Patricia Castro, on the...
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A woman has sued the Archdiocese of San Antonio, accusing her former priest of raping her repeatedly when she was as young as 10.

The priest, Father Theo A. Clerx, died seven years ago. He was pastor of St. John Berchmans Catholic Church on the Southwest Side and a close family friend who groomed her and her sisters with gifts before the abuse began, said Rosio Castro, now 29.

Castro, who was an altar server at Clerx's church, said the abuse started with groping at age 9 and continued for nearly three more years with rapes at least twice a month, leading her to suicide attempts, drug addiction and jail time.

“I have so much anger and regret about my bad choices,” said Castro, whose sisters Patricia Rodriguez, Mayra Hernandez and Yvonne Castro joined the suit, also claiming abuse. It was filed in Bexar County last month.

The San Antonio Express-News typically does not identify victims of abuse, but agreed to upon Castro's request.

Ronald Mendoza, attorney for the San Antonio archdiocese, responded to the lawsuit this month by denying the allegations.

Archdiocesan spokesman Pat Rodgers declined to comment Friday, citing the pending suit and the fact that Clerx was a religious order priest.

Clerx was a member of the Congregation of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, which has a ministry training house in San Antonio. Several of its priests staff eight parishes in the archdiocese, which has a longstanding relationship with Clerx's religious order dating to 1947.

Rodgers also declined to comment on whether Clerx was among 20 priests the archdiocese mentioned in 2004 as having pedophile claims against them.

He did, however, say the archdiocese is working to notify the parishes where Clerx worked of the allegations.

Clerx died Dec. 17, 2003, at 72. He had been living at Padua Place, a retirement home for priests.

The heads of religious orders keep tabs on their priests when assigned to work in the archdiocese. However, the archbishop alone grants and revokes permission for their ministry. If they work in parishes as pastors, they also report to regional deans and archdiocesan committees.

Father Anselme Malonda, head of the order's U.S. province, said in an e-mail that he was aware of the suit and allegations, which were turned over to his attorneys. He added that “I personally feel terrible and very saddened by what was done to this young woman.”

Castro reported her claim to the archdiocese last year, she said, which led to Malonda visiting her and expressing tearful sympathy.

Central to the abuse claim is how the priest manipulated his revered status to earn the trust of an unsuspecting mother and private access to her children, said Robert Hilliard, Castro's Corpus Christi-based attorney.

“The priest used the power of the church — and its flawed structure — to encourage them not to question,” he said. “This is about the culture that allows pedophiles to prey on the poor. He was more afraid of the mother than the church.”

Castro's mother, Patricia Castro, was a custodian at St. John Berchmans, which today has 2,000 families and was founded in 1910 by Belgian immigrants.

Clerx was there from 1988 to 1992, according to Catholic directories. His predecessor had a strong bond with the family members and asked Clerx to take care of them, Castro said.

The mother said she opened doors to the parish school at 6 a.m. and concluded her workday at 6 p.m. She also cleaned the parish after weddings and special events.

Her daughters were altar servers for the 8 a.m. Spanish-language Mass on Sundays. The family members regularly attended fall festivals, flea markets, Posadas and Lenten events, they said.

Castro's father worked for a railroad company and often was out of town and otherwise absent in their lives, the family members said.

They grew up poor. While they helped store and pass out food-bank items for the parish, they also received items from the food bank.

At first, their relationship with the priest was normal.

He visited their home, giving out colored markers and candy to Castro, she said, and wowed her with $20 in cash on her birthdays. He eventually paid their utility bills, mortgage and tuition. He became the godfather of Castro's baby brother.

He let the children have first dibs on food-bank items, including name-brand breakfast cereals and pastries they otherwise couldn't afford, she said.

“It was like we were in heaven. We could pick and choose whatever (food) we wanted,” she said. “At the time, we could only afford corn flakes.”

He also let them choose which roles to play in Posadas and other religious dramas.

The mother soon gave him a key to their home. The priest was so close to the family, a false rumor surfaced that he and the mother were romantically linked, the mother said.

At age 9, the abuse began, Castro said, with suggestive hugging and her catching him peeking in as she and her sisters undressed. She said Clerx followed her into the school bathroom to molest her.

He timed visits to the house when the daughters were there and their mother was at work or out of town, she said.

Castro said that when Clerx was alone with her at the home, he would guide her into her mother's bedroom to rape her beginning at age 10. Other times, he would urge her to take naps during the day as a precursor to more abuse, she said.

“I couldn't tell him anything,” she said, sobbing and recalling he often smelled of alcohol and chewing tobacco. “He was helping my mom. ... We all hated him, and my mom just thought it was because he was old.”

At age 11, Castro said she began to run away from home, living at friends' houses for up to a month at a time and later developing a heroin addiction.

An overdose led to a three-week coma, and she lost a pregnancy at 16 from the drug use, she said.

She said she attempted suicide three times and lived in rat-infested drug houses because “nobody could touch me” there.

“I thought my daughter would be found dead,” her mother said. “I feel destroyed on the inside, and think every day that it is my fault. I never had a clue.”

Castro said she filed suit, despite knowing the priest is dead, to come to terms with the abuse now that she's a parent.

A month and a half ago, she visited his grave in a San Antonio cemetery. For an hour and a half, she said her mind raced back to the last time she visited him at Padua Place.

He had no remorse or hint of owning up to it, she said.

As she looked at the gravestone, she said she prayed for God to help her endure the pain — and forgive him.

“I told the Lord to be his judge,” she said, “not me.”



Read more: http://www.mysanantonio.com/default/article/Woman-claimingabuse-by-S-A-priest-1031606.php#ixzz1F9pzjLBX

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Generations lost

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/arts/books/as-long-as-the-rivers-flow-by-james-bartleman/article1920516/
Review: Fiction
Generations lost
REVIEWED BY MAGGIE de VRIES
From Saturday's Globe and Mail
Published Friday, Feb. 25, 2011 4:00PM EST
Last updated Friday, Feb. 25, 2011 4:05PM EST
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Increase text size ‘To the memory of the Native youth who have taken their lives as a result of the Indian residential school experiences of their parents and of the parents of their parents before them.” With these words, James Bartleman dedicates his debut novel As Long as the Rivers Flow, which explores the consequences of Canada’s residential school system through several generations. It is a story that we all need to hear.


As Long as the Rivers Flow, by James Bartleman, Knopf Canada, 244 pages, $29.95In 1962, Martha is 6 when a float plane comes to her home in the Cat Lake First Nation in northern Ontario, and takes her away to the school on James Bay where she is to spend the next 10 years of her life. There she is abused by nuns – including a First Nations nun who is herself a victim of the residential school system – and sexually abused by a priest.

Back at home in her late teens and twenties, Martha succumbs to alcoholism, her son is apprehended and her daughter is taken in by Martha’s mother when Martha leaves to rebuild her life in the big city. A dozen years later, Martha’s mother’s death draws Martha back to Cat Lake, where the abuses, now many years in the past, surface, and her life unravels again.

Many elements are combined into one tale, among them a time span nearing half a century, so parts of Martha’s life get short shrift, and I was not able to enter into her experience as deeply as I would have liked. I grew frustrated several times with the use of coincidence as a plot device, and with a number of typographical errors that should have been corrected during the editorial process.

The grand scope of the story is essential, however, because it allows us to see cause and effect across generations. In the short, three-part prologue, a 47-year-old Martha wakens from a nightmare in which she is back at school in the clutches of the priest; her daughter wakes from a dream in which the spirits of her friends visit her, furious that she has not killed herself on her 13th birthday as promised; and Father Antoine, the long-ago abuser, prepares for mass, comfortable in the belief that those girls have long forgotten what he did to them. The rest of the book demonstrates how wrong he is, how dreadful his legacy.

Balancing the horror of the abuse and its consequences are the legends of Gitche and Madji Manitou and the Wendigo, traditional tales told, ironically, on Treaty Day, the day each year when the Indian agent visits the reserve to hand out the money promised the people many years before, when the treaty was signed. Six-year-old Martha will never forget “the Wendigo … a half-human, half-devil monster at least ten times the size of a man, with breath that reeks of human flesh.” The legendary figures appear over and over again, helping Martha to survive the horrors that she faces and to maintain her connection to her home, her family and her heritage even during the decades she spends away.

A river also winds its way through the story. As the chief says to the Indian Agent on Treaty Day, “We don’t ever want it to be forgotten that our grandfathers were promised by the white man that the treaty would last for as long as the rivers flow, the sun shines, and grass grows.” And though the white man does not honour the spirit of the treaty, the river flows on, offering rescue at the final hour to one who is lost.

When telling a story of this nature, it is easy to create villains. A child dies from abuse in this book, as many children did and do. Terrible beatings take place. The sexual abuse goes on for decades, doing harm beyond measure. And because all the children from Cat Lake are sent to the same school, many, many of the women – the mothers whose despairing children later enter suicide pacts – were abused by the same man.

Bartleman is not explicit about the abuse itself – a wise choice, respectful of all who have experienced it – but he takes us inside the abuser. We revile him, but we also are allowed to know him. This does not help us to excuse the man. What he does is inexcusable. But the author will not let readers slip free of the knowledge that he is a human being like us, that the acts of men like Father Antoine spring from ignorance, selfishness, greed, weakness, all things each of us must battle in ourselves. He also reminds us that people like Father Antoine cannot act without those who stand by, who deliver children into their hands, who close their eyes.

As I read, I feared where the story would take me; it was hard to imagine how a tale of such sweeping devastation could conclude with hope without making light of suffering. I will say only that Bartleman finds this hope. For me, the novel’s greatest strength is in its resolution, which makes light of nothing, but, through a traditional healing circle, gives everyone a way forward.

Currently, we as a nation are engaged in a process of healing through the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. Perhaps the lessons in the stories that residential school survivors are now sharing will reach all of us and be part of our own paths forward.

Maggie de Vries is the author of Missing Sarah: a Memoir of Loss, about her sister Sarah, one of Vancouver’s missing women.

RCMP investigation

http://www.ctv.ca/CTVNews/TopStories/20110225/bountiful-teens-110225/
Allegations prompt RCMP investigation into Bountiful


Warren Jeffs is led from the Tom Green County Courthouse in San Angelo, Texas after his pretrial hearing Jan. 5, 2011. (AP / San Angelo Standard-Times, Ken Grimm)

The Canadian Press

Date: Friday Feb. 25, 2011 7:19 PM ET

VANCOUVER — The Mounties are investigating allegations that two 12-year-old girls and a 13-year-old from Bountiful, B.C., were taken to the United States by their parents to marry a polygamous leader four times their age.

The man, Warren Jeffs, is now in jail facing child sex assault and bigamy charges.

The RCMP's renewed criminal investigation involves a total of nine teenage girls -- eight from Bountiful and one from the United States -- whose marriages are detailed in documents submitted in a B.C. court case examining Canada's polygamy law.

The records, filed in court since last week, stem from the 2008 raid of a polygamous compound in Texas and outline marriages between 2004 and 2006.

The province's attorney general alerted the RCMP last week, said Cpl. Annie Linteau.

"We initiated an investigation and that's ongoing," Linteau said in an interview.

Linteau said she couldn't reveal any further details, such as what potential charges the Mounties could consider.

The RCMP have investigated Bountiful several times during the past two decades, looking into allegations of polygamy, sexual abuse and human trafficking, but those investigations have never led to criminal trials or convictions.

The community's two leaders, Winston Blackmore and James Oler, were each charged in 2009 with practising polygamy, but those charges were thrown out of court on technical grounds.

That prompted the provincial government to ask the B.C. Supreme Court to decide whether Canada's prohibition on multiple marriage is constitutional.

The hearings wrapped up earlier this month, with closing arguments scheduled for late next month, but the B.C. government was in court Friday asking for the new evidence to be admitted.

The records stem from the sensational 2008 raid on the Yearning for Zion ranch, a polygamous compound run by the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints -- known as the FLDS -- , near Eldorado, Texas.

Residents of Bountiful are also followers of the FLDS, which, unlike the mainstream Mormon church, still practises polygamy.

The marriages at issue began in 2004, when the documents allege four girls were married on a single day in Colorado City, Ariz.

They included a 13-year-old girl from Bountiful, who was married to 48-year-old Jeffs "for time and eternity." The girl's mother and father participated in the "celestial" marriage ceremony, according to court submissions prepared by the B.C. government.

Two 17-year-old girls from Bountiful were also married the same day to other men. They were "personally delivered" by Bountiful bishop James Oler, the documents allege. Jeffs presided over the marriage ceremonies.

Also on that day, a 16-year-old girl from the United States was married to a man from Bountiful. The court documents allege Oler was present at the ceremony.

The following year, two 12-year-old girls from Bountiful were married to Jeffs in Texas, according to the documents. They were each taken to the Colorado City area by their parents, and then transported to Texas by the FLDS.

And on April 26, 2006, the documents allege three more girls from Bountiful -- two 17-year-olds and an 18-year-old -- were married in the United States.

"This is the first hard evidence, at least with respect to Bountiful girls, of marriages as young as 12," B.C. government lawyer Craig Jones told the court Friday.

"It provides evidence of the commodification of and trafficking in girls that was predicted as a consequence of polygamy (by expert witnesses)."

Jones explained that his office only received the documents from Texas earlier this month, and asked Chief Justice Robert Bauman to allow them to be entered into the record. Bauman said the documents can be tendered with the court, and he'll decide later whether they can be formally admitted.

The documents from Texas will remain sealed, even if they are admitted as evidence, because they relate to ongoing prosecutions and secret grand jury proceedings in the U.S.

During the 2008 raid, Texas authorities seized more than 400 children, most of whom were eventually returned to their families. Seven men were convicted of child sexual assault and abuse.

Jeffs, now 55, is currently in a Texas jail awaiting trial on charges of sexual assault and bigamy. Prosecutors have alleged he had sex with two children, one under 14 and the other under 17. The court has entered not guilty pleas on his behalf.

He could also face trial in Utah, where prosecutors are considering whether to retry him on charges of rape as an accomplice for his role in the 2001 marriage of a 14-year-old follower to her 19-year-old cousin. He was found guilty in 2007, but the state's supreme court overturned that conviction last year.

A spokesman for Utah's attorney general said Friday his office hadn't heard about the latest allegations involving the Bountiful girls. Paul Murphy said authorities in Texas have been reviewing thousands of pages of evidence from the raid, and have agreed to pass along any information about potential crimes in Utah.

The FLDS has about 10,000 members, primarily living along the Utah-Arizona border, along with others in Texas and South Dakota.

Forgotten victims

http://www.bclocalnews.com/bc_thompson_nicola/kamloopsthisweek/news/116957973.html
Pondering class-action lawsuit for the 'forgotten' victims


Tk'emlups Indian Band Chief Shane Gottfriedson (right) and several other First Nation leaders, including Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, discuss a class-action lawsuit against senior levels of government regarding day scholars. Day scholars are First Nations members who attended residential schools during the day, but went home to their families at night. However, they have been said to have suffered the same abuses as their counterparts who lived in the schools.
By Jeremy Deutsch - Kamloops This Week
Published: February 25, 2011 4:00 PM
Updated: February 25, 2011 4:49 PM

They may be the forgotten individuals of the national tragedy that was the native residential-school policy in Canada.



They are known as "day scholars", First Nations members who attended residential schools during the day, but went home to their families at night.



However, they have been said to have suffered the same abuses as their counterparts who lived in the schools.



Now, several native bands from throughout the province have come together to look at legal options to get compensation for day scholars, which could include a class-action lawsuit against the federal and provincial governments.



The bands are hoping to put pressure on government to address the issue in the same way it did with residential-school survivors.



The Tk'emlups Indian Band (TIB) is taking the lead role on the issue and has met with several other First Nations leaders during the last five months.



"Definitely, the Tk'emlups Indian Band will be advancing something on behalf of its people," TIB Chief Shane Gottfriedson said.



He said he has heard "pretty drastic" stories from the day students, noting there are about 70 living band members who would be considered day scholars.



Though he couldn't give a dollar amount for compensation being sought, Gottfriedson said the band is talking to its legal counsel around a timeline for launching the suit.



Other bands in the province are also looking to take part.



Sechelt Indian Band Chief Garry Feschuk said the Sunshine Coast community is anxious to see some movement on the issue, noting there are about 125 members in that band considered day scholars.



"We went through all the same abuses that everyone else did and the same harms, and we're still living with those effects in the community," he said.



In 2008, the federal government offered an apology to residential-school survivors, along with $1.9 billion in compensation, but bands argue day scholars were left out of the settlement.



Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs Grand Chief Stewart Phillip said time is running out for the survivors, as many of the victims are getting old.



"We need to move as quickly as possible on this," he said, adding the hope is the lawsuit will force the senior levels of government to come to the table and talk with the group.



It is believed much of the abuse took place between the 1950s and 1970s.

Child abuse in church since its inception

http://www.ncregister.com/daily-news/benedict-basil-for-modern-times1/
Benedict, Basil for Modern Times
Saturday Book Pick: Pope Benedict XVI and the Sexual Abuse Crisis
Share by FRANKLIN FREEMAN 02/26/2011 Comment
POPE BENEDICT XVI AND THE SEXUAL ABUSE CRISIS




In Pope Benedict XVI and the Sexual Abuse Crisis, Gregory Erlandson, publisher of Our Sunday Visitor, and Matthew Bunson, editor of The Catholic Almanac, examine this grievous old sin that has lacerated the Catholic Church and has been the subject of much media attention in America and Europe.


As the authors remind us, St. Basil of Caesarea (d. 379) spoke out on this issue, in terms as harsh as any modern critic.


“He wrote that any priest or monk found guilty of sexually molesting young boys should not only be removed from the clerical state but should also face physical punishments, such as public flogging and incarceration for six months — after which they were to undergo long and prayer-filled penances under the stern supervision of spiritual authorities,” they write. “Above all, Basil urged, the priest or monk so convicted should never be permitted contact with, or have access to, young boys or men.”




Erlandson and Bunson set themselves the task of writing an overview of the crisis and how Pope Benedict XVI has reacted to it. While the media have excoriated Benedict for not always “defrocking” clerical abusers immediately, Erlandson and Bunson show that, after an initial period of tending to downplay the crisis, he came to a deeper understanding of the issue and that “he has evolved into a historic advocate for the reform and the renewal of the Church, and he understands the significance of the struggle.”


The authors see this in his actions: his appointment of Cardinal William Levada, an American “aware of the scale and scope of the scandal,” as head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith; his discipline of Father Marcial Maciel, founder of the Legionaries of Christ, communicating that “keeping silent to ‘avoid scandal’ was not an option for a Church leader”; his stern directness in speaking to the Irish bishops; and his understanding that this is “first and foremost a spiritual challenge to the entire Church.”


After an overview of the scandal and the Pope’s actions, a helpful appendix follows with sections on canon law, excerpts from the Pope’s speeches and letters and the entire text of his letter to the Irish bishops.


This book, however, lacks a personal dimension. No stories of the victims themselves are recounted, at least not in the kind of detail that would matter. The Pope has listened to the victims, and so should we.


I disagree with those, such as John Manly, one of the lawyers bringing many abuse cases against the Church, or William Lobdell, author of Losing My Religion, that this crisis is a reason to abandon faith. I agree with Dostoyevsky: that if there is no God, then “everything is permitted.”


But these outrages perpetrated on innocents should make us weep — or at least make us heartsick. This book does not make me weep, and though it is a sound defense of the Pope, it would have more impact if it presented the story of one abuse victim, one of “these little ones.”

Priest on trial

http://www.wrcbtv.com/Global/story.asp?S=14144596
Former E. Tenn. priest to go on trial April 11

Associated Press - February 25, 2011 6:45 PM ET

BLOUNTVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - A former East Tennessee Roman Catholic priest accused of sexually abusing a teenager more than three decades ago is set to go to trial April 11.

Seventy-6-year-old William Casey is charged with three counts, including criminal sexual conduct and aggravated rape involving a minor, in Sullivan County.

According to WBIR-TV, a pretrial hearing was set Friday for March 14.

Warren Tucker of Jeffersonville, Ind. - who has gone public with his claims against Casey - says his abuse began when he was 10 years old and lasted for five years. During that time, Casey was a priest at St. Dominic's Catholic Church in Kingsport in the 1970s.

Casey had retired from Notre Dame Parish in Greeneville by the time Tucker came forward last April.

Casey has been suspended from ministry, and a process to dismiss him from the priesthood is under way.

Priest removed

http://www.salemnews.com/local/x72344729/Priest-77-is-removed-after-abuse-allegations
February 26, 2011

Priest, 77, is removed after abuse allegations
By Paul Leighton
Staff writer The Salem News Sat Feb 26, 2011, 06:00 AM EST


MARBLEHEAD — A retired Episcopal priest from Marblehead has been removed from the priesthood after a church investigation into allegations that he abused children in separate incidents 20 years apart.

Franklin E. Huntress Jr., 77, voluntarily resigned rather than face a church trial conducted by officials of the Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts, a diocese official said. Bishop Thomas Shaw officially removed Huntress from the priesthood on Feb. 11.

Church members at St. Michael's in Marblehead and Church of the Holy Name in Swampscott, where Huntress has served in his retirement, were notified of the decision after church services this month.

"The churches are reeling from this," the Rev. Canon Mally Lloyd of the Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts said. "It's really hard on people."

Huntress declined to comment, referring questions to the diocese.

"I'll leave it all in their hands," he said. "I have nothing to say."

The investigation into Huntress began after Bishop Shaw's office received a complaint last October from a person who reported being sexually abused as a child by Huntress in 1974. Lloyd said she does not know where the abuse allegedly occurred.

An investigation by Shaw's office into that allegation uncovered the fact that Huntress had been arrested on charges of child sexual abuse in England in 1994, Lloyd said.

Lloyd said no charges were filed against Huntress in that case because the family did not want the child to testify. But church investigators concluded the allegations were true after reading the police report and speaking to the officers involved, Lloyd said.

At that point, Huntress was given a choice of facing further investigation and a church trial or resigning his priesthood. He chose to resign, Lloyd said. After a three-day period when Huntress could have changed his mind, Shaw "deposed" Huntress, removing him from the priesthood.

Lloyd said the diocese sent letters to priests and lay leaders of its 185 congregations in eastern Massachusetts and Cape Cod informing them of Huntress' removal. It also sent a "pastoral response team" to Church of the Holy Name in Swampscott and St. Michael's in Marblehead to talk with church members about Huntress.

"Responses range from anger and disbelief to gratification that action is taken and there is transparency and openness," Lloyd said. "We've found over the years that when this happens, the healing throughout the congregation comes about through openness about what went on. We're just in the beginning process of that."

The Rev. Mark Templeman, rector of Church of the Holy Name, declined to comment. The Rev. Andrew Stoessel, rector of St. Michael's in Marblehead, could not be reached for comment.

Diocese officials said they notified the Middlesex County district attorney's office and child protection services about the allegation from 1974 against Huntress. Lloyd said the statute of limitations has expired, so there will be no criminal charges.

Huntress has served at 12 churches, including four in England, since becoming a priest in 1962.

In Massachusetts, he served at St. Paul's in Malden from 1962 to '65, St. Martin's in New Bedford from 1985 to '91, All Saints in Dorchester from 1995 to 2002, and Church of the Advent in Boston from 1998 to 2001.

He has been "loosely associated" with St. Michael's in Marblehead and Holy Name in Swampscott in his retirement, occasionally serving at the altar but not on staff, Lloyd said. Huntress is not married.

Lloyd said church officials know of no other charges or allegations against Huntress, "but we take this very seriously and if there were an inkling, we would follow it up."

Huntress is the ninth man to be removed from the priesthood in the Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts for sexual misconduct since 1990, according to the diocese. Six were for misconduct with adults, and three, including Huntress, were for misconduct involving minors.

Pastor charged

http://www.channel4.com/news/evangelical-pastor-charged-with-sex-offences
Friday 25 February 2011 .Channel 4 News learns that the head of a London-based evangelical church with 3,000 congregation members has been charged with indecent assault on a child under 16.

.Average rating 0.0/5Click to rate 1 2 3 4 5 Select a rating 1 2 3 4 5 The pastor of a global evangelical movement based in the UK has been charged with sex offences against former members of his congregation.

Dr Albert Odulele who runs Glory House International in London is to appear in court next week. One charge alleges indecent assault of a child under the age of 16.

Dr Odulele, who is 47 years old, is a major figure in the word of evangelism. His church, based in east London, says it has a congregation of 3,000, but he has many more followers around the world through appearances at international evangelic conferences, on religious TV programmes and videos on YouTube.

Registered charity

The church has been a registered charity for 18 years and turns over £2million a year. He was arrested last summer by the Metropolitan Police's Major Child Abuse Investigation Unit.
Channel Four News has learned that he has been charged with two offences - an indecent assault of an under 16 year old, and the sexual assault of another male teenager. This programme understands the alleged assaults took place in 2003 and 2004.

The Evangelical Alliance - the group that represents evangelical churches in the UK - gave this statement: "Our overriding concern here is for the care, protection and welfare of children and young people, so it is imperative that all churches adopt safe practice in order to protect children and young people from abuse - and staff members and volunteers from the possibility of false accusation."

Channel 4 News made several attempts to contact Doctor Odulele and get reaction from Glory House International. They have not responded, though we are told that he is on "annual leave" at the moment. He is due to appear at Bexley Magistrates Court on Monday.

Australia

http://www.smh.com.au/national/the-essay-holy-disorder-20110225-1b8sk.html
The Essay: Holy disorder Chris McGillion and John O'Carroll
February 26, 2011
.Many Australian priests find themselves alienated from Rome.

IN June, Pope Benedict brought to a close the Year of the Priest he had declared 12 months earlier by inviting every available priest from the more than 400,000 worldwide to attend a special gathering in Rome. For three days a small army of priests bivouacked in and around the Vatican, attending Masses, testimonials, prayer meetings and conferences designed to celebrate their vocation and renew their commitment to serving Christ and his church.

The gathering culminated in a spectacular Mass in St Peter's Square for an estimated 15,000 priests – the largest Mass ever concelebrated in that arena. Speaking of his "joy for the sacrament of the priesthood," Benedict oversaw waves of cassocks rising and kneeling in perfect unison during the celebration. Never before had there been a display of clericalism on this scale and to all outward appearances it showed a priesthood firmly united in fidelity to the Pope and his curia.

The reality, however, is somewhat different.

Advertisement: Story continues below In the course of their everyday parish work, Catholic priests have to deal with problems ranging from the mundane to the frustratingly bureaucratic, to the challenging and often plain bizarre. Few people ever truly learn about these aspects of the vocation because priests largely work outside the public glare. We surveyed more than 540 of them in Australia, and interviewed another 50, to shed light on their activities and their inner thoughts. What we discovered was a world rich in commitment but also in complaint, disillusionment and dissent.

Many of the priests believe the Vatican exercises far too much control in the life of the church, expects far too much regimentation and allows far too little room for local variations in expressions of the faith. They believe that Rome fails to understand the nature of Catholicism in Australia and does not appreciate the challenges facing priests here.

The attitudes of priests towards Benedict and his predecessor, John Paul II, are mixed and, occasionally, highly critical. Many priests bemoan the lost momentum for church reform that grew out of the 1960s and the trend towards the restoration of a more centralised, conservative and rigidly disciplined church over the past 30 years. A majority see the need for a Third Vatican Council to build on the church's engagement with society that was achieved by the Second Vatican Council.

More generally, in their everyday ministry priests are caught in the conflict of mediating Vatican directives and official church teachings to a laity that is more educated, more sceptical of authority and more willing to think for itself than at any time in the church's history. Priests must nuance black-and-white moral prescriptions in ways that make pragmatic sense in the increasingly complex lives of their parishioners.

They are expected to enforce church rules but also relate pastorally. They must balance the demands and ideals of the universal church against needs and realities at the local level. When in Rome, priests might do as Rome expects its priests to do. But that certainly doesn't imply they agree with everything the Vatican says or does or that they automatically fall into line with its dictates.

The Vatican performs three roles: it is an expression of the unity of the faithful, the most important source of their leadership (understood in terms of providing a vision for the whole) and the church's central system of governance (issuing authoritative rules for its members and appointing senior personnel, including the bishops of local dioceses). Almost without exception, priests view the first two roles as essential, comparing the existence of the Vatican favourably with respect to other Christian denominations that lack this kind of central focus – most obviously the Anglican Communion. The Vatican, said one priest, is like the "bones" of a living thing, giving form and substance to the entire organism.

On the governance issue, however, many priests are far less enthusiastic in their appraisal of the Vatican's performance, particularly when it comes to its relationship with the church in Australia. Two-thirds of priests surveyed felt that the Vatican did not understand the challenges facing priests today (just under a quarter thought it did). A greater proportion still felt the Vatican often failed to understand the nature of the local church in this country. Well over half felt Vatican directives in recent years had sometimes restricted the contribution the church could make in Australia while almost as many thought the Vatican exercised too much control over the local church.

"The Roman Catholic church I have almost no time for any more," one West Australian priest said. "No time. I have to tolerate it as a few of us have to because it's a means to an end, but anything that's unjust or dishonest about it then I have no hesitation in speaking out about it."

A NSW priest wrote that he was disturbed by a Roman curia trying to drag the church back into the past. Describing the contemporary Vatican as a "bully-boy", he added: "I want no part of it." Another wrote that the community "is more important to me than the ecclesiastical system which, at the higher levels, is completely out of touch and too dismissive of the mass of Catholics".

A 53-year-old priest from NSW commented that "left alone, a parish could grow, but belonging to a church hinders rather than nurtures". A younger Queensland priest (47) wrote that the only thing he had ever wanted to be was a priest but "given the state of the church today, I look forward to the night when I go to sleep and just don't wake up again. I realise that this is depressive thinking and I do suffer from that ailment but the state of the church today makes it worse."

Some priests expressed the view that all Catholics should simply unite behind the Pope and not question Vatican directives, while some pointed out that the church was not – and was never intended to be – a democracy. A perception that the Vatican only listened to those who said things it wanted to hear was common. "Denial is an issue that confronts Roman bureaucracy," wrote one priest. "The local church should be heard by the Vatican," insisted another, implying that this was not the case.

THE Vatican's most comprehensive intervention in the affairs of the church in Australia occurred towards the end of 1998. In November, the seven metropolitan archbishops of Australia together with the chairman and secretaries of several national bishops' conference committees held a series of meetings with Vatican officials who exercised responsibility for Catholic doctrine, clergy, worship and the sacraments, bishops, religious orders and education.

A summary of their deliberations, known as the Statement of Conclusions, was circulated among all the Australian bishops who were in Rome at the time for the Synod for Oceania. In a hastily arranged consultation before a scheduled meeting with Pope John Paul, the bishops were asked to assent to the document – which all did, though some reluctantly – and it was made public as an official view of the state of the Catholic church in Australia and a blueprint for its immediate future.

The Statement of Conclusions praised many things about the church in Australia but also claimed to identify weaknesses in it that were the subject of the document's main concerns. Chief among these was a "crisis of faith" existing in Australia, stemming from the "tolerance characteristic of Australian society".

Priests and laity were warned that individual confession is the "sole ordinary means" by which one is reconciled with God and the bishops were told the Third Rite of Reconciliation (also known as communal confession), which had become popular in Australia, was "illegitimate" and had to be "eliminated".

After a meeting in Sydney in February 1999, 75 priests and religious brothers and sisters signed a letter to the bishops rejecting what they saw as the Vatican's "overwhelming negative estimation of Australian Catholicism". In their view the statement passed over complex moral and social problems that afflicted many Catholic families and ignored the "deep shame" of clerical sexual abuse.

By re-emphasising the individual nature of sin as distinct from structural injustice and immorality, the statement would make it difficult for the church to contribute to critical issues concerning national reconciliation, particularly between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Australians, the signatories to the letter argued. They also said the statement's call to eliminate the general use of communal confession would be a disaster and close off a "profound and transforming" experience in the life of the church.

ASKED, 10 years on, whether egalitarianism is the defining strength of Australian priests, almost half of those surveyed agreed it was, just over a quarter disagreed and almost the same proportion were undecided.

The Vatican has given no firm instructions on how Australian priests should be addressed or attired, yet both are obvious ways in which priests in other countries publicly affirm their particular identity and authority. But "standing out" from the crowd has little appeal among Australian priests.

"The Catholic Church has had to struggle to be where it's at in Australia," said one priest. "And we still have to struggle. We're not a religious country. We're different." It is precisely on the issue of distinctive dress, this priest added, that you can see the difference: "The Australian clergy dropped the clerical collar very quickly after Vatican II, whereas in other countries it's still used."

The larger issue – as with the Statement of Conclusions – is the degree to which priests feel the Vatican understands, and is sufficiently sensitive towards, the cultural characteristics of Catholicism in Australia. One priest was critical of what he saw as a tendency to inflate "our local identity at the expense of what we are part of – the universal church – and that our Australian identity is not more important than our Christian identity". But most were highly critical of the way they were perceived by the Vatican. The hierarchy in Rome, said another priest, seems at times oblivious to the fact that Australia is not a "Catholic country" and as a result "a lot of the realities that they experience are very different from . . . ours".

This is an edited extract from Our Fathers: What Australian Catholic Priests Really Think About Their Lives and Their Church, by Chris McGillion and John O'Carroll. Published March 25, John Garratt Publishing, $29.95.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Priest remanded

http://www.irishexaminer.com/breakingnews/ireland/former-priest-remanded-on-child-porn-charges-494900.html





Former priest remanded on child porn charges
Friday, February 25, 2011 - 05:49 PM



A defrocked priest accused of possession of thousands of pornographic images of children, was remanded on continuing bail today pending directions from the DPP.

Oliver O'Grady (aged 65), with an address at a hostel, on Charlemont Street, in Dublin 2, had been arrested on December 10 last.

At his fourth appearance at Dublin District Court today, Judge Cormac Dunne remanded the defendant to appear again on March 25 next.

Earlier in the case, Detective Garda Johanna Doyle of the National Bureau of Criminal Investigation had said that further charges were being contemplated.

Previously, the court had heard that the defendant had lived at various addresses in Ireland since he was deported from the United States, in 2001. He rents a lock-up facility and a postbox to store his personal belongings.

As part of his bail conditions he must sign on twice daily at Harcourt Terrace garda station.

Mr O'Grady also gave an undertaking earlier not to seek travel documentation and has surrendered his passport to gardaí.

The material allegedly confiscated included images and videos on a USB key, an external hard drive and a laptop.

Det-Gda Doyle had told the court earlier: “We are talking about thousands upon thousands of images of child pornography. Children from the age of two and three up to teenage boys and girls.”





Read more: http://www.irishexaminer.com/breakingnews/ireland/former-priest-remanded-on-child-porn-charges-494900.html#ixzz1Ezy5gR9x

Holy disorder

http://www.smh.com.au/national/the-essay-holy-disorder-20110225-1b8sk.html
The Essay: Holy disorder Chris McGillion and John O'Carroll
February 26, 2011
.Many Australian priests find themselves alienated from Rome.

IN June, Pope Benedict brought to a close the Year of the Priest he had declared 12 months earlier by inviting every available priest from the more than 400,000 worldwide to attend a special gathering in Rome. For three days a small army of priests bivouacked in and around the Vatican, attending Masses, testimonials, prayer meetings and conferences designed to celebrate their vocation and renew their commitment to serving Christ and his church.

The gathering culminated in a spectacular Mass in St Peter's Square for an estimated 15,000 priests – the largest Mass ever concelebrated in that arena. Speaking of his "joy for the sacrament of the priesthood," Benedict oversaw waves of cassocks rising and kneeling in perfect unison during the celebration. Never before had there been a display of clericalism on this scale and to all outward appearances it showed a priesthood firmly united in fidelity to the Pope and his curia.

The reality, however, is somewhat different.

Advertisement: Story continues below In the course of their everyday parish work, Catholic priests have to deal with problems ranging from the mundane to the frustratingly bureaucratic, to the challenging and often plain bizarre. Few people ever truly learn about these aspects of the vocation because priests largely work outside the public glare. We surveyed more than 540 of them in Australia, and interviewed another 50, to shed light on their activities and their inner thoughts. What we discovered was a world rich in commitment but also in complaint, disillusionment and dissent.

Many of the priests believe the Vatican exercises far too much control in the life of the church, expects far too much regimentation and allows far too little room for local variations in expressions of the faith. They believe that Rome fails to understand the nature of Catholicism in Australia and does not appreciate the challenges facing priests here.

The attitudes of priests towards Benedict and his predecessor, John Paul II, are mixed and, occasionally, highly critical. Many priests bemoan the lost momentum for church reform that grew out of the 1960s and the trend towards the restoration of a more centralised, conservative and rigidly disciplined church over the past 30 years. A majority see the need for a Third Vatican Council to build on the church's engagement with society that was achieved by the Second Vatican Council.

More generally, in their everyday ministry priests are caught in the conflict of mediating Vatican directives and official church teachings to a laity that is more educated, more sceptical of authority and more willing to think for itself than at any time in the church's history. Priests must nuance black-and-white moral prescriptions in ways that make pragmatic sense in the increasingly complex lives of their parishioners.

They are expected to enforce church rules but also relate pastorally. They must balance the demands and ideals of the universal church against needs and realities at the local level. When in Rome, priests might do as Rome expects its priests to do. But that certainly doesn't imply they agree with everything the Vatican says or does or that they automatically fall into line with its dictates.

The Vatican performs three roles: it is an expression of the unity of the faithful, the most important source of their leadership (understood in terms of providing a vision for the whole) and the church's central system of governance (issuing authoritative rules for its members and appointing senior personnel, including the bishops of local dioceses). Almost without exception, priests view the first two roles as essential, comparing the existence of the Vatican favourably with respect to other Christian denominations that lack this kind of central focus – most obviously the Anglican Communion. The Vatican, said one priest, is like the "bones" of a living thing, giving form and substance to the entire organism.

On the governance issue, however, many priests are far less enthusiastic in their appraisal of the Vatican's performance, particularly when it comes to its relationship with the church in Australia. Two-thirds of priests surveyed felt that the Vatican did not understand the challenges facing priests today (just under a quarter thought it did). A greater proportion still felt the Vatican often failed to understand the nature of the local church in this country. Well over half felt Vatican directives in recent years had sometimes restricted the contribution the church could make in Australia while almost as many thought the Vatican exercised too much control over the local church.

"The Roman Catholic church I have almost no time for any more," one West Australian priest said. "No time. I have to tolerate it as a few of us have to because it's a means to an end, but anything that's unjust or dishonest about it then I have no hesitation in speaking out about it."

A NSW priest wrote that he was disturbed by a Roman curia trying to drag the church back into the past. Describing the contemporary Vatican as a "bully-boy", he added: "I want no part of it." Another wrote that the community "is more important to me than the ecclesiastical system which, at the higher levels, is completely out of touch and too dismissive of the mass of Catholics".

A 53-year-old priest from NSW commented that "left alone, a parish could grow, but belonging to a church hinders rather than nurtures". A younger Queensland priest (47) wrote that the only thing he had ever wanted to be was a priest but "given the state of the church today, I look forward to the night when I go to sleep and just don't wake up again. I realise that this is depressive thinking and I do suffer from that ailment but the state of the church today makes it worse."

Some priests expressed the view that all Catholics should simply unite behind the Pope and not question Vatican directives, while some pointed out that the church was not – and was never intended to be – a democracy. A perception that the Vatican only listened to those who said things it wanted to hear was common. "Denial is an issue that confronts Roman bureaucracy," wrote one priest. "The local church should be heard by the Vatican," insisted another, implying that this was not the case.

THE Vatican's most comprehensive intervention in the affairs of the church in Australia occurred towards the end of 1998. In November, the seven metropolitan archbishops of Australia together with the chairman and secretaries of several national bishops' conference committees held a series of meetings with Vatican officials who exercised responsibility for Catholic doctrine, clergy, worship and the sacraments, bishops, religious orders and education.

A summary of their deliberations, known as the Statement of Conclusions, was circulated among all the Australian bishops who were in Rome at the time for the Synod for Oceania. In a hastily arranged consultation before a scheduled meeting with Pope John Paul, the bishops were asked to assent to the document – which all did, though some reluctantly – and it was made public as an official view of the state of the Catholic church in Australia and a blueprint for its immediate future.

The Statement of Conclusions praised many things about the church in Australia but also claimed to identify weaknesses in it that were the subject of the document's main concerns. Chief among these was a "crisis of faith" existing in Australia, stemming from the "tolerance characteristic of Australian society".

Priests and laity were warned that individual confession is the "sole ordinary means" by which one is reconciled with God and the bishops were told the Third Rite of Reconciliation (also known as communal confession), which had become popular in Australia, was "illegitimate" and had to be "eliminated".

After a meeting in Sydney in February 1999, 75 priests and religious brothers and sisters signed a letter to the bishops rejecting what they saw as the Vatican's "overwhelming negative estimation of Australian Catholicism". In their view the statement passed over complex moral and social problems that afflicted many Catholic families and ignored the "deep shame" of clerical sexual abuse.

By re-emphasising the individual nature of sin as distinct from structural injustice and immorality, the statement would make it difficult for the church to contribute to critical issues concerning national reconciliation, particularly between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Australians, the signatories to the letter argued. They also said the statement's call to eliminate the general use of communal confession would be a disaster and close off a "profound and transforming" experience in the life of the church.

ASKED, 10 years on, whether egalitarianism is the defining strength of Australian priests, almost half of those surveyed agreed it was, just over a quarter disagreed and almost the same proportion were undecided.

The Vatican has given no firm instructions on how Australian priests should be addressed or attired, yet both are obvious ways in which priests in other countries publicly affirm their particular identity and authority. But "standing out" from the crowd has little appeal among Australian priests.

"The Catholic Church has had to struggle to be where it's at in Australia," said one priest. "And we still have to struggle. We're not a religious country. We're different." It is precisely on the issue of distinctive dress, this priest added, that you can see the difference: "The Australian clergy dropped the clerical collar very quickly after Vatican II, whereas in other countries it's still used."

The larger issue – as with the Statement of Conclusions – is the degree to which priests feel the Vatican understands, and is sufficiently sensitive towards, the cultural characteristics of Catholicism in Australia. One priest was critical of what he saw as a tendency to inflate "our local identity at the expense of what we are part of – the universal church – and that our Australian identity is not more important than our Christian identity". But most were highly critical of the way they were perceived by the Vatican. The hierarchy in Rome, said another priest, seems at times oblivious to the fact that Australia is not a "Catholic country" and as a result "a lot of the realities that they experience are very different from . . . ours".

This is an edited extract from Our Fathers: What Australian Catholic Priests Really Think About Their Lives and Their Church, by Chris McGillion and John O'Carroll. Published March 25, John Garratt Publishing, $29.95.