Sunday, March 28, 2010

French priest avoids sex charges over claims he abused choirboy as Vatican struggles to contain paedophile crisis

French priest avoids sex charges over claims he abused choirboy as Vatican struggles to contain paedophile crisis
By Mail Foreign Service
Last updated at 4:37 PM on 27th March 2010

Pope Benedict has come under fire over child abuse
A priest in a town south-east of Paris was hit with sexual assault and child pornography charges after a 22-year-old former choirboy accused him of abuse, a prosecutor said.
A police search of his home also found pictures of a young parishioner.
The new case added to a wave of sexual abuse allegations made by church members across Europe in recent weeks that have put the Vatican on the defensive and fueled a growing sense of crisis.
Some of the cases have raised questions about whether Joseph Ratzinger acted aggressively enough against priests under his supervision as an archbishop and cardinal before he became Pope Benedict XVI.
French bishops said in a letter to the pope on Friday that they were ashamed of the 'abominable acts' of child sexual abuse by priests.
In another mea culpa, a conservative religious order that had enjoyed the favor of John Paul II apologised to victims of sexual abuse by its founder.
The new French probe was opened after the 22-year-old man told authorities that he had been assaulted by the priest as an adult, according to the prosecutor of Troyes, Alex Perrin.
Police searched the priest's home and found two or three pornographic photos of a child parishioner in Marcilly-le-Hayer, the prosecutor added.
'This news is upsetting to everyone,' the bishop of Troyes, Marc Stenger, wrote in a statement published on Friday in the local paper, L'Est- Eclair.
'But this must not be the hour of judgment and condemnation. We must wait to know the truth.'
The bishop asked the priest to be moved elsewhere during the probe, according to the prosecutor, who said the investigation could take several months.
Perrin said the priest was detained on Wednesday for questioning.
Sheena Kelly (L), Therese Albrecht (C), and Rick Springer hold signs during a press conference outside the Catholic archdiocesan chancery office in Chicago. Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP) held the press conference to urge Chicago's Cardinal Francis George to reach out to Illinois kids who may have been abused by the late Rev. Lawrence Murphy who is accused of molesting up to 200 children while working at a renowned school for the deaf in Wisconsin
Preliminary charges of 'sexual assault' and 'illegal possession of images characteristic of child pornography,' were issued on Friday, opening the way for a formal investigation.
The priest was freed after questioning, but ordered to receive treatment and forbidden any contact with minors, Perrin said.
The former choirboy has said he contacted the priest in November over the Internet and went to visit the clergyman, who then assaulted him, according to an official close to the investigation.
Perrin was not authorised to name the priest because of the secrecy that covers investigations in France.
Such cases involving priests 'are not something common in the L'Aube region' where Marcilly-le-Hayer is located, Perrin said.
The letter to Benedict from French bishops, and a website statement by the Legionaries of Christ both contained expressions of solidarity toward Benedict for his handling of abuse cases.
French bishops said in their letter to Benedict that they are ashamed of priests who molested and raped children.
Enlarge Pope John Paul II gives his blessing to late father Marcial Maciel, founder of Christ's Legionaries. He fathered a child and had molested seminarians
The bishops said these 'abominable acts' had 'disfigured the church, wounded Christian communities and cast suspicion on all the members of the clergy.'
But they also expressed solidarity with Benedict, saying the sexual abuse scandals were 'being used in a campaign to attack you personally'.
Leaders of the Legionaries of Christ said that at first they couldn't believe the accusations against the late Mexican prelate Marcial Maciel, including molestation of seminarians and that he had a long relationship with a woman and fathered a daughter with her.
But they said it was thanks to an investigation by the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith, under the direction of Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, the future Benedict, that they were convinced the allegations were true.
Before becoming cardinal, Benedict was the top authority in the Munich archdiocese in his German homeland.
The New York Times reported Friday that Ratzinger, when archbishop, was copied in on a memo about a Munich archdiocese decision to return a priest in therapy for pedophilia to pastoral work.
Some of the uncovered documents allegedly implicating Pope Benedict XVI in the cover up of sexual abuse by a Wisconsin priest
Vatican spokesman the Rev. Federico Lombardi quickly reiterated the Vatican's insistence that Benedict didn't know about the decision.
'Yet again speculation,' headlined a front page article in Vatican newspaper L'Osservatore Romano about the Times piece.
Lombardi circulated a statement issued by the Archdiocese of Munich and Freising stating that the decision to return the priest to pastoral work was made by the vicar general of that time, Rev. Gerhard Gruber.
Gruber, now retired, said that he was warned about the man and consulted with several people to weigh the risk, but never mentioned this to then-Archbishop Joseph Ratzinger.
Gruber said in a telephone interview from Munich that the psychiatrist who treated the Rev. Peter Hullermann in Munich from 1980 through 1992 warned him the priest was a 'risk'.
'Of course he warned me, he pointed out the risk,' Gruber said.
'However, I decided I would take the risk' and send Hullermann, who had a record of child abuse, back to pastoral work in Munich congregations, Gruber said.
The idea was to give Hullermann 'something to do,' Gruber said.
In addition to talking to Hullermann's psychiatrist several times, Gruber said he consulted with the vicar general of Hullermann's home diocese in Essen, but never with Ratzinger.
Meanwhile, reports that the Vatican intends to force the resignation of the head of the Catholic Church in Ireland over the paedophile priests scandal have been dismissed by his spokesman today.

Cardinal Sean Brady has apologised for his role in the handling of sex abuse cases. He has said he wants to work towards a just resolution of a case being taken against him by a man who claims he was abused by Father Brendan Smyth but not enough was done to stop his attacker.

The Northern Ireland Assembly prepared last night to order an official investigation into child abuse in Northern Ireland after details emerged of more attacks on children by members of the clergy.

Cardinal Sean Brady (L), Primate of All Ireland and Archbishop prepares to read the 'Pastoral Letter of the Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI to the Catholics of Ireland' at St Patrick's Cathedral in Armagh last week
Cardinal Brady's spokesman said: 'This kind of headline on a story I would not dignify with a response. We are entering Palm Sunday and Holy Week and the universal Church is focused on the celebration of the Resurrection and all that it means for the Church.'

The Times reported today that nothing less than Cardinal Brady's resignation will diminish fury at the highest levels in Rome over his role.

'Ireland needs a fresh start,' a source in Rome told the newspaper. 'By clinging on, he is putting his own interests before the Church's.'

Dr Brady apologised last week for his role in a church tribunal on allegations made by a 14-year-old boy against Smyth, a priest whose case brought down the Irish Government in 1994. The victim was sworn to secrecy after the proceedings.

But according to the newspaper, the view in Rome is that this has not gone far enough and there has been no popular groundswell of support for Dr Brady in Ireland.

The cardinal is in a legal battle with a man who claims he was abused by Fr Smyth and faces calls to withdraw his defence.

The victim's legal team also asked the cardinal to withdraw his defence to give 'practical expression' to the cardinal's recent statements of remorse about clerical sexual abuse.

The churchman recently apologised to anyone who had been hurt by any failure on his part.

Victims have called for the cardinal's resignation after it emerged that he was present at two meetings in the 1970s when victims of Smyth were sworn to silence about what had happened.

The information provided by the victims was not passed on to Irish police and Smyth went on to abuse many more children.

1 comment:

libhom said...

The only thing that will stop rampant child molestation in the RCC clergy is for that evil cult to be banned for once and for all.