Monday, May 31, 2010

Vatican to begin abuse inquiry - Last Updated: Monday, May 31, 2010, 13:39
Vatican to begin abuse inquiry
• Irish-born archbishop resigns | 31/05/2010
• Archbishop says visitation about renewal, not sex abuse | 22/03/2010
• Archbishop urges full accountability | 22/03/2010
The Vatican said today it will begin its investigation into clerical sexual abuse in Ireland this autumn.
The Vatican will send senior clerics to Ireland to look into the Catholic Church's handling of sexual abuse cases and "assistance owed to the victims," according to a statement posted on the Holy See's website today.
The so-called apostolic visitation was first announced in Pope Benedict XVI’s letter to the Catholics of Ireland on the abuse in March of this year. In his letter, the pope said the visitation was intended “to assist the local [Irish] church on her path to renewal.”
The Archbishop of Boston, Cardinal Sean O’Malley, has been appointed apostolic visitor to the Archdiocese of Dublin. The four apostolic visitors will be retired Archbishop of Westminster, Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor; Archbishop of New York Timothy Dolan, Archbishop Archbishop of Toronto Thomas Collins and Archbishop of Ottowa Terence Prendergast.
All are of Irish descent and have played leading roles in investigating and responding to allegations of sexual abuse and Church mishandling of abuse in their own countries.
Archbishop of Dublin Diarmuid Martin welcomed the inquiry, which he said was an “important element in the broad process being set in place by Pope Benedict to assist the Catholic Church in Ireland in its renewal”.
The Irish Bishops’ Conference also welcomed today's announcement, saying it represented another important step “on the path to healing, reparation and renewal in the church in Ireland”.
Pledging their full co-operation with the mission, the bishops described the visitation as an opportunity to further address the needs of survivors of abuse, and “to build upon the strong procedures and guidelines for the safeguarding of children and to work for a renewal of faith”.
In his March letter, Pope Benedict said the apostolic visitation will involve a visit to certain dioceses in Ireland, as well as seminaries and religious congregations by officials from the Roman curia.
They will assess how much practices and procedures in each are in line with what the Vatican expects.
It will take place with the co- operation of the Irish Bishops Conference, the Conference of Religious of Ireland and the Irish Missionary Union, thus involving all Irish clergy.
Currently, there is an apostolic visitation of institutes of women religious in the US. It has angered more liberal American Catholics who see it as an attempt by the Vatican to stamp out new gender or feminist ideas on the status of women that some nuns appear to have embraced.
The apostolic visitation there has been described as “a formal but personal meeting [by Vatican officials] with the superiors and members of a religious community which offers an opportunity to comment on various aspects of community and religious life”.

Archbishop resigns after abuse claim
Archbishop resigns after abuse claim
An Irish Archbishop accused of sexually assaulting a teenage girl in Nigeria before having a 20-year affair with her has resigned, the Catholic Church confirmed today.

Richard Burke stepped down from the Archdiocese of Benin in Nigeria earlier this year after a woman, aged in her 40s and now living in Canada, made a complaint against him.

The St Patrick's Missionary Society in Kiltegan, Co Wicklow, which the Archbishop was a member of before being appointed to the hierarchy, confirmed his resignation had been accepted by the Vatican.

No findings have been made against the Archbishop, one of the most senior Catholic clerics to face allegations of child sex abuse.


Senior clerics monitor protection
Senior clerics monitor protection
The former head of the Catholic Church in England and Wales is one of five senior clerics appointed to monitor child protection procedures in the church in Ireland.

Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor, former Archbishop of Westminster who stepped down last year, was himself the subject of intense criticism over his handling of a paedophile priest.

In 1985, the Cardinal, then Bishop of the Arundel and Brighton Diocese, appointed Father Michael Hill to Gatwick Airport despite experts warning that he could be a danger to children. Victims' groups demanded the senior cleric's resignation in 2002 when Hill was jailed and the Cardinal was forced to apologise to victims.

The Cardinal and churchmen from the US and Canada have been drafted in to investigate safeguarding procedures and protocols in the Catholic Church in Ireland, which has been rocked by two sickening reports which unveiled decades of abuse and cover-ups by church and state authorities.

Cardinal Murphy-O'Connor said he hoped the Apostolic Visitation will provide Pope Benedict with a thorough analysis of protections in Ireland.

"Putting the safeguarding of children and all vulnerable people at the heart of every aspect of the Church's life is essential," he added.

Dublin Archbishop Diarmuid Martin - a campaigner for survivors and for reform in the church - said the Visitation was an important element in the broad process put in place by Pope Benedict to assist the renewal of the church in Ireland.

"Archbishop Martin welcomes in particular the announcement that the Visitation is being asked to evaluate the current response to victims and the quality of the assistance which the Church in Ireland owes to survivors," his spokeswoman said.

The Visitation will begin in the four metropolitan archdioceses - Armagh, Dublin, Cashel and Emly and Tuam - before being extended to other dioceses. In a statement from Rome, the Vatican said it will begin in the autumn.

"Through this Visitation, the Holy See intends to offer assistance to the bishops, clergy, religious and lay faithful as they seek to respond adequately to the situation caused by the tragic cases of abuse perpetrated by priests and religious upon minors," the Vatican said. "It is also intended to contribute to the desired spiritual and moral renewal that is already being vigorously pursued by the Church in Ireland."

Catholic Church 'breached international law'

Catholic Church 'breached international law'

Belfast Telegraph Monday, 31 May 2010
A leading abuse survivor has suggested the Vatican had breached international law over the child sex abuse scandals.
Colm O'Gorman also said he believes it is "technically possible" for Pope Benedict to be arrested when he visits the UK later this year.
At the Hay Festival of Literature and the Arts in Wales, Mr O'Gorman claimed the Vatican was implicated in grave crimes.
"There are moves on foot to start to look to international law, although I'm not quite sure how that may work out, to secure his (Pope Benedict) arrest," he said.
"I do think that that arrest in a country where the rule of universal jurisdiction and international law is perhaps more robustly applied than others is a distinct possibility. It is technically possible - it may well happen."
Mr O'Gorman, also executive director of Amnesty International Ireland, said the Vatican, as a state, was in violation of international law on several grounds.
"First of all, it is a signature of the UN convention on the rights of children, it is in flagrant violation of that legal instrument," he said.
"When it comes to torture and the sexual abuse and violation of children - this considered in legal terms as tantamount to torture - the Vatican is clearly implicated in grave breaches of international law and grave crimes.
"This is a global government, a global state, that tries to make out that it has no responsibility for the cover-up of those crimes against children; for the prevention of those crimes against children; or for the protection of children; and yet is responsible for the education and welfare of millions of children - and that is terrifying."

Future pope refused to defrock convicted priest

Future pope refused to defrock convicted priest
Monday, May 31, 2010
By Matt Sedensky, The Associated Press

The future Pope Benedict XVI refused to defrock an American priest who confessed to molesting numerous children and even served prison time for it, simply because the cleric wouldn't agree to the discipline.

The case provides the latest evidence of how changes in church law under Pope John Paul II frustrated and hamstrung U.S. bishops struggling with an abuse crisis that would eventually explode.

Documents obtained by The Associated Press from court filings in the case of the late Rev. Alvin Campbell of Illinois show Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, following church law at the time, turned down a bishop's plea to remove the priest for no other reason than the abuser's refusal to go along with it.

"The petition in question cannot be admitted in as much as it lacks the request of Father Campbell himself," Cardinal Ratzinger wrote in a July 3, 1989, letter to Bishop Daniel Ryan of the Diocese of Springfield, Ill.

With the church still recovering from a notable departure of priests in the 1970s to marry, John Paul made it tougher to leave the priesthood after assuming the papacy in 1978, saying their vocation was a lifelong one. A consequence of that policy was that, as the priest sex abuse scandal arose in the U.S., bishops were no longer able to sidestep the lengthy church trial necessary for laicization.

New rules in 1980 removed bishops' option of requesting laicizations of abusive priests without holding a church trial. Those rules were ultimately eased two decades later amid an explosion of abuse cases in the United States.

The Rev. Campbell's bishop had requested that he be quickly defrocked, in part to spare the victims the pain of a trial, but Cardinal Ratzinger's response was in keeping with church law at the time. Bishops retained the right to remove priests from ministry or to go through with a trial and recommend to Rome a cleric's defrocking, and nothing prevented them from reporting such crimes to police as they should have done, the Vatican has argued.

The Rev. Campbell's is one of several decades-old cases to emerge in recent months raising questions about Cardinal Ratzinger's decisions and the church law he was following involving abusive priests as head of the Catholic Church's doctrinal watchdog office, a position he took in 1981. The round of scandals worldwide left the Vatican initially blaming the media and groups supporting abortion rights and gay marriage, but recently Pope Benedict has denounced the "sin" that has infected the church.

Pope John Paul's views on laicizations were made known in a 1979 letter to priests, in which he wrote that their ordination was "forever imprinted on our souls" and that "the priesthood cannot be renounced." Bishop Ryan, in his letter to Cardinal Ratzinger, quoted the Rev. Campbell saying essentially the same thing: "Once a priest, always a priest."

"The whole idea was that the priesthood was so sacred you couldn't kick these guys out," said the Rev. Tom Doyle, a canon lawyer who reviewed the Campbell case and who has advocated for abuse victims.

The Rev. Campbell's misdeeds date back at least 15 years before his defrocking.

As an Army chaplain, he was reprimanded and ultimately left the service after abusing at least one boy, according to military and church correspondence. An Army letter in his file said he had exploited his rank and position as a chaplain "by engaging in indecent homosexual acts" with a child under 16 who had been under his supervision.

Even so, Bishop Joseph McNicholas, then at the helm of the Springfield diocese, wrote to him, "Be assured that we will welcome you with open arms here at home." While church officials overseeing clergy in the military were alerted of the Rev. Campbell's actions, and reference is made to the molestations in Bishop Ryan's letter to Cardinal Ratzinger, it's not clear whether Bishop McNicholas knew.

The Rev. Campbell became a pastor upon his return to the diocese. In at least three instances after returning to diocesan work, he was forced to depart jobs as parish pastor or administrator "for reasons of health," a euphemism for sexual abuse used within the church that Bishop Ryan himself put in quotes.

After workers at a rape crisis center alerted authorities that they were treating one of the Rev. Campbell's victims, police found he had been plying boys with video games, bicycles, watches and other gifts to get them to the waterbed in his second-floor rectory bedroom. Bishop Ryan sent the Rev. Campbell to a New Mexico treatment facility after the arrest.

The Rev. Campbell was sentenced to 14 years in prison in 1985, after admitting to molesting seven boys during his time as pastor of St. Maurice Parish in Morrisonville, Ill. He was released in 1992 after serving about seven years for sexual assault and sexual abuse.

Bishop Ryan apparently waited four years after the Rev. Campbell went to prison, according to church files, before asking for the priest's defrocking. It's unclear what accounted for the delay.

In his 1989 letter to Cardinal Ratzinger, Bishop Ryan outlined the Rev. Campbell's many offenses against children and asked for his laicization. He pointed out the local notoriety of the priest's case and said his crimes and those of another abusive priest had already cost the diocese $1.5 million in damages and legal fees.

"I fear the infliction of further pain upon the victims of his criminal activity and their families," Bishop Ryan wrote. "I fear that the diocese will suffer further pastorally and in public relations, to say nothing of greater financial damage."

Cardinal Ratzinger refused, citing Vatican policy, and told the bishop to proceed with a church tribunal.

It is unclear whether a church trial was ever held for the Rev. Campbell. After his release from prison, he was cajoled by Bishop Ryan and his subordinates into accepting his defrocking. Three years after Bishop Ryan's initial letter to Cardinal Ratzinger, the bishop's request to Rome was granted.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Cardinal Brady to fight cases

Cardinal Brady to fight cases
John Downes, News Investigations Correspondent Sunday Tribunne

Under-fire Catholic primate Cardinal Sean Brady, who provoked strong criticism from survivors' groups last week after confirming he does not intend to step down, is set to continue to contest a number of outstanding High Court cases by victims of abuse.

This is despite concerns among survivors' representatives about the detrimental effect drawn-out legal cases can have on victims.

Among the cases involved is an action taken by a victim of the notorious paedophile Fr Brendan Smyth, who was one of two young people forced to sign an oath of confidentiality at two secret canonical inquiries which Brady attended in 1975.

Brady has acknowledged that he did not report the allegations to the civil authorities

The victim first brought the High Court case in 1997.

and has been involved in a legal battle since then in a bid to force disclosure of the documents relating to the Church's handling of the case.

But when asked this weekend if he intended to continue to contest the High Court proceedings taken against him by this victim, his spokesman said the interests of justice applies to all parties involved.

"Cardinal Brady will maintain his right to defend himself, both in his personal capacity and as Primate of All-Ireland, while seeking a just resolution for all involved," he said.

Brady responded to calls last March for him to withdraw his defence in a separate legal action taken by a male victim of Smyth by announcing that he had asked his legal representatives to engage with the complainant's legal representative "with a view to progressing the case".

In fact, he has been named a co-defendant, along with the head of Brendan Smyth's Norbertine Order, Gerard Cusack, in a total of five High Court cases since 1997. The latest of these was filed in 2003.

But when asked if he continues to contest any outstanding cases in which he is involved before the High Court, his spokesman reiterated that his position has not changed from that adopted by him earlier this year in relation to such matters. He said Brady cannot comment on the two cases which are in the public domain..

O'Brien got €61k for abuse group

O'Brien got €61k for abuse group
John Downes, News Investigations Correspondent Sunday Tribune

Former mayor of Clonmel Michael O'Brien has received over €61,000 in the past eight years from the state to run his Right to Peace group for survivors of abuse.

O'Brien, who has repeatedly stressed in media interviews that he has not per­sonally sought or received any money for himself, also received some €10,000 from the Rosminian Order over the past decade to help cover the cost of running his group.

The most recent payment of €4,000 was made in February of this year. The registered address which the Department of Education holds for the group is O'Brien's family home. However, he says he has used most of the money provided to the group to rent offices in Clonmel over the years, with rent payments covered directly by South Tipperary VEC, which administers the money on the department's behalf.

According to Department of Education figures, Right to Peace has received a total of €61,202 in funding since 2002. This includes a sum of €12,000 paid in 2002, and €6,000 in advance funding for this year.

"Right to Peace has received funding from this department for the provision of an information and referral service since 2002," he said. "In 2008 funding (of €1,574) for Right to Peace did not include office rental. Since the Ryan report was published the level of enquiries has increased and funding was provided in 2009 for office rental."

Fr Joe O'Reilly, provincial of the Rosminian Order, which ran St Joseph's Industrial School in Ferryhouse, said the Rosminians have given O'Brien around €10,000 "to support the establishment and running of his office, Right to Peace, for his services to other survivors.

"All monies were given for the establishment and running of his office for the benefit of survivors. Nothing was given for him personally. No compensation was given to him personally," he said.

O'Brien confirmed the details of the funding when contacted last week.

Catholic church fumes at RTÉ over 'dark' TV portrayal

Catholic church fumes at RTÉ over 'dark' TV portrayal
Ken Foxe, Public Affairs Correspondent Sunday Tribune

A DISPUTE has broken out between RTÉ and the Catholic church over the "excessively dark" tone of a news report on RTÉ's Prime Time about the continuing child abuse controversy.

The Catholic Communications Office has expressed anger after Prime Time broadcast what it claimed were a number of "serious mistakes" in a report on last Tuesday's programme.

The introduction to the RTÉ report had wrongly said that Bishop Willie Walsh was one of eight bishops who had offered to resign since the publication of the Ryan and the Murphy reports.

Martin Long, director of the Catholic Communications Office, wrote to Prime Time asking that it correct the errors as soon as possible.

He said: "The programme script clearly infers that Bishop Willie Walsh had to resign due to a failure of accountability; in other words, for reasons not related to age grounds. This is both factually incorrect and grossly misleading."

The letter continued: "Whilst Prime Time has since corrected – in text form on its website – that Bishop Willie Walsh resigned due to age grounds, there remains a much more serious correction to be made… namely to vindicate Bishop Willie Walsh's good name in relation to safeguarding children."

The national broadcaster corrected the statement on air and stated that Bishop Walsh had in fact resigned on age grounds.

The Catholic church had also taken issue with another error in the broadcast when Bishop Raymond Field, who has resigned, was incorrectly labelled as Bishop Martin Drennan in a caption.

RTÉ Prime Time subsequently clarified the issue but would not apologise regarding two other less specific complaints made by the communications office.

In his letter to the broadcaster, Long said: "The video film introduction was excessively dark in imagery. The animated and exaggerated 'mitres' superimposed on the head and shoulder photographs of bishops were clearly meant to ridicule and were offensive to Catholics.

"I look forward to you correcting these serious mistakes and impressions in tonight's programme," he said.

Long said he was happy that the substantial issues had been addressed and clarified, but that it was unfortunate RTÉ had not apologised.

He said: "The other matters I raised regarding the imagery are important to church people and also important for unbiased and balanced reporting.

"The issues addressed in the letter will now be looked at by the Bishop's Communication's Commission to see if anything further will happen."

Cork priest attacks women writers in parish bulletin

Cork priest attacks women writers in parish bulletin

Monsignor claims anti-Catholic women writers who write for Sunday papers are 'most belligerent'

John Downes, News Investigations Correspondent

O'Brien: astonishing attack

A senior Cork-based priest has launched an astonishing attack on "women writers" in Sunday newspapers who he says "seem to be the most belligerent" in the current climate of anti-Catholic church attacks.

In a parish newsletter circulated to the faithful of the Clonakilty and Darrara parish earlier this month, Monsignor Leonard O'Brien PP – who is one of two Vicars General in the Cork and Ross diocese – criticises what he calls "lapsed Catholics, who no longer accept the church which Jesus founded".

"Not satisfied with walking away, [they] insist on calling for the 'dismantling' of the church which they have left," he writes. "In the current climate of anti-Catholic attacks, women writers seem to be the most belligerent, especially those who write for the Sunday papers," he said. "It leads one to wonder if, in the world of reptiles, the female of the species packs the more venomous bite."

He also appears to attack the funeral arrangements of the late broadcaster Gerry Ryan.

In his treatise entitled "The Institutional Church", O'Brien continues on this theme by referencing a Patrick Kavannagh [sic] poem entitled 'House Party to Celebrate the Destruction of the Roman Catholic Church in Ireland'.

He says the poet wrote the poem in response to an anti-Catholic book by a "long forgotten lady author".

"Kavanagh mocked her efforts with his poem… the poet who did not 'do' political correctness described the lady as 'A female replica of Cromwell's face' adding cruelly 'her wart was a beauty mole,'" he writes.

Elsewhere in the newsletter, O'Brien describes how critics of the Catholic church "love to speak of the 'institutional church' on the one hand and the 'real' church on the other."

But, he argues, it is not too clear what they mean by the "real" church.

"Some kind of loose association of believers who follow Christ without the support of Sacraments, or Mass or public prayer… that is until they die when they are solemnly brought back to their parish church for an elaborate funeral service, (broadcast, of course, and streamed on Google.)"

Mgr O'Brien declined to comment when contacted by the Sunday Tribune, saying only: "You know what Pilate wrote, don't you know... Ever heard of Pontius Pilate, the Roman governor? Quod scripsi, scripsi.What I have written, I have written."

Centre defends hiring of abusive former nun

Centre defends hiring of abusive former nun
John Downes, News Investigations Correspondent Sunday Tribune

Gerry Kelly: ostracised after he made allegations against Nora Wall
Nora Wall: accused of abuse in Ryan report
12The founder of the Cuan Mhuire centre in Athy, which treats vulnerable people with drug and alcohol problems, has defended its decision to allow the former Mercy nun Nora Wall to continue to work there despite the findings of the Ryan report in relation to her.

The report said that Wall – given the pseudonym St Callida in the report when it was published 12 months ago – beat children in her care, and exposed them to "additional risk" by allowing male outsiders to stay overnight at St Michael's home in Cappoquin, Co Waterford.

It also highlighted how she engaged in lesbian relationships while in charge at the centre, would consume alcohol to excess in front of the children, and would take children away for weekends to stay in hotel "family rooms".

According to one of those interviewed in the report, she and her female partner would typically share one bed while the children would share other beds in the same room.

Sr Consilio Fitzgerald, founder of the internationally respected Cuan Mhuire group of treatment centres, told the Sunday Tribune that Wall is employed as a full-time gardener at Cuan Mhuire in Athy.

Set on 49 acres of land, the centre's land and the cultivation of its produce is a "central part of the rehabilitation programme," its website states.

But Fitzgerald said she was not aware of the Ryan report's concerns in relation to Wall's time at Cappoquin, adding that she was "very happy" with her work at Cuan Mhuire.

"Nora Wall gets up every morning and gets on with her gardening. She keeps quite busy," she said. "I never considered changing her role. She gets up and gets on with it. She's helping with our preparations here. She just works in the garden on her own. She has her work to do and does it faithfully and does it very well here."

Former Cappoquin resident Gerry Kelly, who was sexually and physically abused at the Artane Industrial School.

But he said he was "ostracised" in Cappoquin after he tried to raise his concerns. This included going public in 1999 with his claim that when he returned to the centre as an adult in 1979, Wall – who went by the name Sr Dominic – invited him to join her and another nun in bed together.

"I couldn't have made that up. Why would you make something like that up?" he told the Sunday Tribune. Kelly suffered a stroke seven years ago which he attributes to the stress of his childhood experiences.

Wall, who is in her early 60s, had her conviction for the rape of a 10-year-old girl in the same home declared a miscarriage of justice by the Court of Criminal Appeal in 2005 after it emerged that evidence had been given by a witness known to be unreliable.

She has since launched a High Court challenge to the alleged refusal of the state to make a decision on her claim for compensation over a miscarriage of justice in her case.

Devine slams anti-Catholic agenda in child sex abuse row

Devine slams anti-Catholic agenda in child sex abuse row

Stephen Naysmith, Sunday Herald

30 May 2010

The Bishop of Motherwell, Joseph Devine, claims today that opponents of his church are using child sex abuse scandals to further an “insidious” anti-Catholic sectarian agenda.

In an interview with the Sunday Herald, to accompany an exclusive article on the scandals, Devine said sectarianism was “constant” for most Catholics in Scotland, adding: “The proper name for it is anti-Catholicism.”

In his article, Devine describes some commentators as “hell-bent on depicting the Catholic Church as the paedophile empire of sexual abuse against children”. He also attacks “scurrilous” attempts to smear the Pope with the ongoing scandals. The bishop also told the Sunday Herald he wants to lay the issue of sex abuse to rest in Scotland ahead of the visit of Benedict XVI to Scotland in September.

Devine accepts some failings in the way the Catholic Church has dealt with abuse in the past, and says it is important to confront and atone for sins and betrayals. The Church should compensate victims of abuse financially, and perpetrators should be prosecuted, he adds.

However, he also points to the family as the source of the majority of abuse, and claims that fewer than half of one per cent of the clergy had any sexual allegations made against them.

We found out to our regret they are incurable. They need to be removed from the community and ­layified. They cannot be changed. Bishop Joseph Devine
“Statistics reveal that more than 75% of all sexual abuse of minors happens in the family, perpetrated by family members, mostly those who are married, and by others known to the victims,” he writes. “Sexual abuse of minors is not a ‘Catholic Church’ problem.”

Devine also says ongoing scandals have overshadowed good works by the church throughout the world to relieve poverty and suffering.

Claiming he is not attempting to downplay the suffering of victims who have experienced “grievous sins and perversions” at the hands of paedophile priests, Devine told the Sunday Herald that while there is “a certain amount of truth” in the allegations of a cover-up within the Church of sexual abuse, that is not the whole story.

“Thirty years ago, no-one spoke about this,” he said. “A friend of mine, a Jewish doctor, said to me in 1985 that he understood the difficulty faced by priests. That was because doctors were also struggling with this.

“When they saw babies who were black and blue, their response was to open the textbooks and look for the disease which had those symptoms. They knew fine well it wasn’t a disease, but they couldn’t bring themselves to believe that a parent would hurt their child like this.

“The Catholic Church used to have places we sent people when things went wrong – places where priests who had problems with things such as alcohol or depression could go to be treated. But abusers could not be treated in the same way. We found out to our regret they are incurable. They need to be removed from the community and ­layified. They cannot be changed.”

The Catholic Church in the UK is now one of the safest places on earth for a child to be, Devine believes. He points to increased vetting at all levels in the Church, with a coordinator dedicated to this task in every parish.

While Bishop Devine claims Scotland has been “luckier” than Ireland and America in terms of abuse levels, the Church in Scotland has been found guilty by association. “People know abuse did happen. It happened all over in Ireland and America,” he said. “They say if it was happening there, it must be here to the same extent. That is not true.”

With one in 200 of the clergy in Scotland having faced allegations of sexual abuse in the last 40 years, critics of the Church have “taken something minimal and made it look maximal,” he adds.

He believes this is partially malicious. “Sectarianism is far from dead in this land. The Government calls it that, but it is wrong. The proper name is anti-Catholicism. It is constant all the time, and a thing like this is grist to the mill.”

Survivors of clerical abuse reacted angrily to the bishop’s comments. Helen Holland, who experienced physical and sexual abuse in Nazareth House in Kilmarnock, dismissed the comments as a stunt.

“They’ve had plenty of opportunities to meet survivors of abuse and listen over the last 10 years. Why are they only ­talking about it now?” she said.

Referring to Devine’s comments that most abuse occurred within the family, Holland said: “It is a social problem, and in any other part of society it is dealt with by alerting the police. The Church’s response was to move priests from one place to another.”

Holland said many survivors wished to see the Church taking part in the independent forum for survivors. Bishop Devine said the Church had been unable to engage with that forum due to insurance issues.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

70-plus Church sexual abuse cases in JP

70-plus Church sexual abuse cases in JP
By John Ruch May 28, 2010
Jamaica Plain Gazette

Attorney: Numbers are a shock

The sexual abuse crisis that has rocked the Catholic Church for nearly a decade included more than 70 children molested at Jamaica Plain Church institutions, according to data compiled at the Gazette’s request by the famous attorney whose work helped break open the scandal.

Attorney Mitchell Garabedian had never looked at the Church sexual abuses cases he has handled in geographic terms before, and the JP numbers shocked him.

“This is just Jamaica Plain. This is unbelievable,” Garabedian said. “I do this [work] every day and I’m so close to it, but having a local newspaper like yours say there were 70 cases in your neighborhood—it’s just unbelievable.”

The 70 cases, which span 27 years from the 1950s to 1980s, include abuse victims from four out of five JP parishes and the former Nazareth Child Care Center on Moss Hill. The infamous child-raping priest John Geoghan alone is responsible for 59 of those cases during his time at St. Andrew the Apostle in Forest Hills. Geoghan became the face of the Boston Archdiocese’s cover-up of clergy sexual abuse, in part because of the activism of JP survivors’ families.

There likely were more sexual abuse cases in JP than those Garabedian has handled.

“Those are my clients. There are other lawyers handling [similar] cases,” Garabedian said.

Kelly Lynch, a spokesperson for the Archdiocese on sexual abuse matters, did not respond to a Gazette request for comment for this article.

The JP Church sexual abuse cases and the abuser responsible include:

• St. Andrew’s, 59 cases, priest John Geoghan (1974-79). Geoghan, who attended seminary in JP, was a known child molester when he was transferred to St. Andrew’s.

• Nazareth, 5 cases, seminary student Paul Hightower and lay brother Edward Anthony Holmes (1968-85).

• Blessed Sacrament, 3 cases, priest Robert Ryer (1958-60).

• St. Thomas Aquinas, 2 cases, priest Robert Burns (1983-85). Burns was a known child molester when he was transferred to St. Thomas and made associate pastor.

• Our Lady of Lourdes (OLOL), 1 case, priest Robert Gale (1970s). After being accused of abuse at OLOL, Gale was transferred to other churches and continued abusing children before being imprisoned for child rape.

Of those 70 cases, 68 have already been acknowledged and settled financially by the Archdiocese, according to Garabedian. One claim for Holmes’ abuse while he worked at Nazareth is still pending, but Holmes already has been criminally convicted and imprisoned for that crime. The Gazette previously reported on the life story of Scott Kimball, the abuse survivor in that case.

The 70 cases also include a new claim against Geoghan, who was murdered while in prison for child molestation. It is the 150th abuse case against Geoghan that Garabedian has handled.

Garabedian is also representing a client in an abuse claim against a former OLOL teacher, dating from the 1970s. That claim is still pending and the accused teacher has no criminal convictions in the matter, so the Gazette did not add it to the list of confirmed Church abuse cases.

Garabedian has represented about 700 victims of sexual predators in the Boston Archdiocese. “And they’re still coming in,” he said. “People [who survived abuse] will not stop coming forward in my lifetime…The abuse has been going on for centuries.”

“Every new case that comes in my door shocks me as much as the first,” Garabedian said.

That first case was in 1995, when a Waltham mother told Garabedian about a priest named John Geoghan who was “going door to door to door” in a housing development, preying on children.

“One was washing his hands ’til they bled every day,” Garabedian said of one of the abused children he interviewed for that case. “It was because Geoghan was visiting the house regularly to put the children to bed.”

Tracking parents’ complaints about Geoghan, Garabedian followed the trail to JP. He has represented many abuse survivors from St. Andrew’s, including the family of well-known local whistleblower Maryetta Dussourd, whose three sons and four other boys she raised were molested by Geoghan. Garabedian calls Dussourd “a hero.”

A letter sent to the Archdiocese in the 1980s by Dussourd’s sister, Margaret Gallant, became a key piece of evidence that allowed Garabedian to prove that the highest Church officials were aware of Geoghan’s crimes, yet continued to protect him and give him access to more victims.

JP abuse survivors, like those elsewhere, were originally met with denial and hostility. The pastor of St. Andrew’s at the time of 1979 abuse allegations against Geoghan complained in a letter to Archdiocese officials that the “possible hand of the devil” was a motivation—not of Geoghan, but of his accusers.

Garabedian and other attorneys representing survivors faced similar opposition from the Archdiocese when the scandal broke in 2001 and became an international crisis that is still unfolding. The 2002 resignation of former Archbishop Cardinal Bernard Law was followed by a more open approach from the Church, including an expedited settlement process and lifelong therapy services made available to survivors.

Pope Benedict XVI has been in the news recently with stronger denunciations of predatory priests. But scandals continue to erupt in Church institutions around the world, and questions have been raised about Benedict’s own involvement in cover-ups prior to becoming pope.

“The pope’s not following up his words with any actions,” said Garabedian, calling for the Church to release names of predatory priests and allow survivors to sit on advisory boards. “He has to come clean. It’s necessary so that victims can begin to heal.”

The Church abuse crisis has made Garabedian famous. He was even portrayed by “Cheers” actor Ted Danson in a TV movie. But he remains focused on helping his clients from JP and elsewhere, and gives them the credit.

“They should be proud for standing up for themselves,” he said.

Vatican abuse prosecutor warns hell for culprits

Last updated May 29, 2010 7:04 a.m. PT

Vatican abuse prosecutor warns hell for culprits

VATICAN CITY -- The Vatican prosecutor of clerical sex abuse warned perpetrators on Saturday that they would suffer damnation in hell that would be worse than the death penalty.

The Rev. Charles Scicluna, a Maltese priest who is a top official at the Vatican's morality office, led a special "make amends" prayer service in St. Peter's Basilica. The service grew out of a desire by some seminarians in Rome for a day of prayers for the victims of clergy abuse and for the healing of the church's wounds from the scandal over its concealment of abuse.

"It would be really better" for priests who sexually abuse minors that their crimes "cause them death" because for them, "damnation will be more terrible" in hell, Il Sole 24 Ore online news reported.

The Vatican said it didn't immediately have the text of the meditation Scicluna delivered for the two-hour prayer service attended by seminarians and other students of religion.

Scicluna has been leading the Vatican's drive to rid the church of pedophile priests. Many victims' groups say the Vatican must admit responsibility for a decades-old culture of secrecy and systematic cover-ups.

Participants at the ceremony asked for prayers "for the victims of abuses perpetrated by men and women of the Church, so that they can heal their wounds and experience true peace," ANSA reported. Prayers were also offered for clerics and other religious who committed abuses "so that, in the light of day, they can honestly face up to the consequences of their guilt and embrace the needs of justice," it said.

Scicluna, who could not immediately be reached for comment, began with a meditation from St. Mark's Gospel saying those who harm children would be better off tying a millstone to their neck and throwing themselves into the sea.

Earlier in the week, the Catholic news agency Zenit reported that several seminary students, including from Britain and the United States, decided to have the prayer service in response to Pope Benedict XVI's harsh letter to Irish bishops in March.

In that letter, Benedict chastised bishops in that predominantly Catholic nation for making grave errors of judgment about the abuse. But he didn't blame Vatican policies that kept the abuse secret for making the situation worse and he issued no punishment for the bishops.

Any scandal in the Italian church is particularly delicate for the Vatican. On Friday, the head of the Italian bishops conference, Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco told his churchmen that it was "possible" that sex abuse by clergy might have also been covered up in Italy, and said bishops should follow the Vatican's guidelines in dealing with abuse allegations.

Experience: I was raped by a Catholic priest'

Experience: I was raped by a Catholic priest'

I was always aware that he would look at me in a certain way, finding excuses to talk to me. I was terrified'
Sue Cox
The Guardian, Saturday 29 May 2010 Article history
'I was paralysed with fear and just managed to whisper to him over and over again: "Please stop."' Photograph: Jon Tonks for the Guardian

After 25 years together, my husband Gez thought he knew everything about me, that we had no secrets. Yet all that time I was holding something back.

Last spring I sat him down and calmly told him the truth I had kept hidden. "Gez," I said, "I was raped by a Catholic priest when I was 13. My mother knew about it and covered up for him, blaming me."

I told him I still didn't know which was worse – being betrayed by my church, or by my mother. Gez was horrified but I felt relieved; it was an enormous release. He didn't mind my not telling him earlier – I simply hadn't been able to get the words out.

I had been adopted into a family of fanatical Roman Catholics, in Mablethorpe, on the Lincolnshire coast, soon after I was born in 1948. Our days were ruled by the church's strictest codes, and I lived in desperate fear of committing a sin.

The local elderly priest was billeted to stay with us since they had no accommodation for him in the town – not unusual in small communities such as ours. Sometimes we played host to a younger priest, Father Nicholson, in his 30s. Did he spot me then as a future target? I can't be sure. He was always friendly, but hadn't made me feel uncomfortable. When I was 10, I was put forward for confirmation while attending a church camp. The night before the service, he molested me. I was so shocked, yet somehow I felt as if I was to blame. I didn't dare to tell anyone. I didn't think anyone would believe me.

Nothing was ever said, and to my relief my father's work took us away to Yorkshire for two years. But after he died from a brain tumour, my mother took us back to Mablethorpe.

Father Nicholson began hanging around our family again. I was always aware that he would look at me in a certain way, finding excuses to talk to me. I was terrified and tried to make sure we were never alone.

Then one night he appeared at my bedroom door. Before I knew what was happening, he was tearing off my nightdress and raping me. I was paralysed with fear and just managed to whisper to him over and over again: "Please stop." Downstairs, my spinster aunts were playing cards and drinking whisky.

Suddenly my mother came into the room. Had she heard scuffles? I will never know. She shooed the priest from the room. Then, her face like thunder, she questioned me. Was it physically possible I would fall pregnant? I had no idea what she meant. Eventually she left, telling me to pray for Father Nicholson. I felt mortified – my mother made me feel I had brought shame to her door.

After that I dropped out of school, married at 17, and my life disappeared into a blur of alcoholism, self-harm, eating disorders and depression. My first marriage was unhappy and the only redeeming factors were my six children. Then, at 28, I stopped drinking and joined AA. My marriage ended and I met Gez, an artist, when I was 36. Life was good: we opened a business; I studied acupuncture and counselling, and trained others in addiction work. But I could never forget what had happened and not telling anyone the full story had made me feel so much worse. Telling Gez was the first step, but I needed to take my secret back to where it began – the Catholic church.

When I told them, the Diocese of Birmingham seemed regretful, offering me prayers. Archbishop Nichols of Westminster himself wrote that I was in his thoughts. But what use to me were prayers or an archbishop's thoughts? I pressed harder, and learned Father Nicholson had been part of the Sacred Heart Order and that he died in 1998.

Now I am looking into financial compensation – for the trauma I suffered. I think the church would like to blame my mother – but where did her warped notions of parenting come from? The church.

Losing my faith in Catholicism was an erosion rather than a rupture. I had been steeped in its rituals and beliefs for so long that it was difficult to escape. I even brought up my own children in the faith. I was so frightened of them feeling like outcasts as I had done.

These days, I am a Buddhist. I appreciate the need for faith – but my chosen religion is compassionate. Best of all, I feel no shame in telling people: I have recovered from alcoholism, eating disorders, self-harm, marital abuse, childhood rape. And the Catholic church. • As told to Victoria Lambert

'Possible' priest abuse cover-ups in Italy

'Possible' priest abuse cover-ups in Italy
'Something wrong that must be corrected,' top bishop says

28 May, 15:21
ANSA) - Vatican City, May 28 - Italy's top bishop on Friday admitted there was a "possibility" that priest sex abuse cases had been covered up in Italy as they have been in other countries.

Asked whether any of the 100 canon law abuse trials in Italy over the last decade may have involved cover-ups by bishops, Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco told reporters: "There is a possibility".

The worldwide abuse scandals that have rocked the Catholic Church have sparked particular rage because of the way cases were hushed up, especially in Ireland where two reports found evidence of "systematic" cover-ups over decades.

Bagnasco, who is head of the Italian Bishops Conference (CEI), did not cite any of the cases and was unable to put a number on the victims.

However, he suggested that Italian Church officials may have sometimes been more inclined to protect the Church rather than reporting cases to the police.

"It was something wrong, which must be corrected and overcome," he said, without going into further detail.

He also said he was himself "ready to meet with any victim at any time, day or night, and I expect all other bishops to do the same". Bagnasco was speaking at the end of CEI's 61st annual assembly, where earlier this week his No.2, Msgr Mariano Crociata, bowed to media pressure to say how many child abuse cases there had been in Italy.

Crociata said there had been "about 100" in the last decade but did not say how many priests had been prosecuted or defrocked.

Msgr Crociata also said Italy had no need for a special Church panel on abuse like the ones set up in Germany and other European countries.

Bagnasco reiterated this on Friday, stressing that, instead of panels, "every bishop will be the reference point for victims and will take decisions according to the local situation".

Last week an Italian bishop gave evidence for the first time at a trial of a suspected paedophile priest, admitting he had heard rumours two years before the arrest but did not report them.

Bagnasco, 67, who is currently archbishop of Genoa, said Friday that in all his years in the Church he had only had to deal with a case of suspected paedophilia once, when he was archbishop of Pesaro from 1998 to 2006.

He said he had dismissed the case after "long and careful deliberation," deciding there was "no substance to the rumour". The public record of abuse cases in Italy has been emerging slowly.

This week a priest went on trial in Savona for alleged sexual violence against a 12-year-old girl.

Then a 73-year-old Milan priest, Father Domenico Pezzini, known for his support of gay rights, was arrested for allegedly abusing a 13-year-old boy.

At a preliminary hearing in the latter case Friday, Pezzini denied wrongdoing.

Bagnasco's remark on the possibility of cover-ups came a day after Pope Benedict XVI addressed the CEI assembly and made his most explicit plea yet for the Catholic Church to heal the wounds caused by the scandals.

A "humble and painful admission" of "the wounds caused by the weakness and sins of some of the Church's members" must lead to "interior renewal", Benedict said.

"What is cause for scandal must translate itself for us into the urge to re-learn penance, accept purification, learn forgiveness on the one hand and on the other the need for justice".

Bagnasco told the bishops that the 83-year-old pontiff was "up to the challenges" posed by the scandals, which he was "tackling with credibility and lucidity".


The Vatican has been responding with increasing openness to the scandals that first emerged in the US in 2002 before spreading to Australia, Ireland, Netherlands, Norway, Austria, Germany and now Italy.

Critics have accused the pope of failing to take proper action when he was head of the doctrinal office that deals with paedophilia cases.

The Vatican has said Benedict, on the contrary, made it easier to punish offenders as well as preventing paedophiles from becoming priests.

The pontiff has met with victims of paedophile priests in the US, Australia and, most recently, Malta where he is said to have wept as he prayed with them.

At Easter he sent a pastoral letter to Ireland expressing his "shame" over decades of abuse and cover-ups there.

The Vatican recently published the guidelines it has been using since 2003, stressing all cases are reported to the police as soon as possible.

It has also said that Benedict will be able to defrock paedophiles immediately.

Clergy sex victims blast bishop

SNAP Press Release

Clergy sex victims blast bishop

For six weeks, he’s let 2 accused priests keep working

SNAP says they should have been suspended “long ago”

Church claims one has been ousted but there’s no announcement

Group criticizes Joliet diocese for “delays, secrecy & recklessness”

SNAP to bishop: “Use impartial person, not your lawyer, to investigate”

Holding signs and childhood photos at a sidewalk news conference, clergy sex abuse victims will urge Catholic officials to
-- suspend two credibly accused predator priests who allegedly assaulted a Joliet boy years ago,
-- explain their six week delay and continuing secrecy surrounding the accusations, and
-- stop using a lawyer to investigate clergy sex abuse reports, and use a more pastoral person instead.

The group will also urge anyone who may have seen, suspected or suffered crimes or misdeeds by the two clerics to come forward, call police, get help, expose wrong-doers and start healing.

TODAY, Friday, May 28, 1:00 p.m.

Outside the Joliet Diocese headquarters (chancery office), 425 Summit St. in Joliet IL

Two-three clergy sex abuse victims who belong to a Chicago-based support group called SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, including the organization’s founder and long time president

On April 24, a Florida man told a Joliet church staffer that he was molested as a child by two priests in the diocese. On May 11, he reported the same crimes to the bishop’s lawyer. SNAP believes the clerics should be ousted.

For the past eight years, Catholic officials have promised that they will quickly suspend credibly accused clerics. But SNAP fears that one of these priests still works in a local parish, and the other works on the west coast, which SNAP believes is reckless. Catholic officials have also pledge to be “open” with child sex abuse allegations, but the Joliet diocese has not disclosed either allegation.

(Yesterday, a church lawyer claimed, in a conversation with the alleged victim’s attorney, that the current Joliet priest was suspended on Tuesday, but SNAP is skeptical of the claim.)

SNAP is not naming the clerics at this point because there are no criminal or civil legal charges against either man. But for the sake of public safety and honoring bishops’ pledges to put children’s safety first, SNAP believes both should have been suspended weeks ago and will urge Bishop Peter Sartain (815 722 6606) to do so immediately and publicly.

The victim has spent hours talking with the church attorney about his experiences. SNAP believes he is credible because 1) the group has spoken with him repeatedly, 2) he’s represented by an experienced attorney, 3) he’s not seeking compensation, and 4) he’s cooperated extensively with the church probe, 5) his family has cooperated too, 6) he’s struggled with alcohol, but 7) he’s been sober for more than a decade. Over the past few weeks, as the church attorney has become more intrusive and combative, and as no church official has given the alleged victim any word of what’s been learned or what’s transpiring, the victim has gotten increasingly frustrated by the long, secretive process.

The reported victim is in his 40s and attended Providence High School (where he met one of the priests) and Joliet Catholic High School. With one priest, the abuse happened over several years (in a rectory, hotels, on trips out of state). The other priest assaulted the boy once.

The alleged victim is being represented by Miami attorney Adam Horowitz (305 931 2200). The church lawyer conducting the alleged “investigation” is James C. Byrne (815-726-4311, The first person at the diocese the alleged victim contacted was Judy Speckman, who calls herself “the Bishop’s advocate.”

Members of the Joliet Diocesan Abuse Review Committee include William Penn (retired), Ernie Stark (retired), Fr. Gerald Tivy (Pastor of St. Joan of Arc in Lisle, Cynthia A. Power (counselor, Life Enrichment Services of Wheaton), Dr. Alexander J. Spadoni (Professor of Psychiatry at Loyola Medical School), Shirley Robinson (therapist), Cathy J. Nusgart (attorney), Dr. Timothy Brown (Director, Kane County Diagnostic Center), William G. Plahm and Daniel J. Callahan.

Friday, May 28, 2010

How Schoolchildren Are Brainwashed In Iran

How Schoolchildren Are Brainwashed In Iran
Radio Free Europe
Children taking part in a rally marking the 30th anniversary of the Islamic Revolution in Tehran last year -- Iran's next generation of martyrs?
May 27, 2010
By Hossein Aryan
Acting on orders from Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei to counter the "soft war" launched by Iran's enemies after last year's disputed presidential election, the Basij militia have beefed up their ideological indoctrination of schoolchildren.

Brigadier General Mohammad-Saleh Jokar, who heads the Students Basij, told the Mehr news agency last week that in the last six months, 6,000 "resistance centers" have been established in elementary schools in order to fully prepare children for joining Basij units when they transfer to middle schools at the age of 12.

The idea of expanding Basij activities was first announced last November, when Jokar told Mehr that "schoolchildren are more susceptible at a young age than at any other time in their lives...and we want to promote and instill into elementary schoolchildren the ideas of the revolution and Basij."

Martyrdom Icon

The Basij Resistance Force, with a nominal strength of 12.6 million, has been present in schools since it was first created 31 years ago, but the law authorizing the government to establish schoolchildren's Basij units was ratified by the Majlis only in April 1996.

During the 1980-88 Iran-Iraq War, when self-sacrifice and martyrdom became the quintessential values of the Islamic revolution and the guiding principles of Iranian society, more than 550,000 students were sent to the front, often with a plastic "key to paradise" hanging around their necks and the promise that they would automatically go to paradise if they died in battle.

Basij members parade in Isfahan in 2008 .General Jokar told the Fars news agency last October that 36,000 schoolchildren were killed and 2,853 injured during the war, while 2,433 were taken prisoner. The exceptionally high ratio of dead to wounded (in a conventional war between professional armies the number of wounded is higher than the number of those killed) reflects the children's lack of military training: they were used as cannon fodder in human-wave attacks launched by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps against the Iraqi forces.

In order to promote and glorify the spirit of martyrdom in line with the law enacted by the Majlis, October 30 is celebrated as Student Basij Day.

It was on that day in 1980, during the battle for the southern port of Khorramshahr at the outbreak of the Iran-Iraq War, that 13-year-old Hossein Fahmideh pulled the pin out of a grenade and leaped clutching it under an advancing Iraqi tank, killing himself and disabling the tank. Islamic republic founder Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini declared Fahmideh a hero, and a monument to him was later erected on the outskirts of Tehran. That monument has since become a place of pilgrimage for schoolchildren.

Discussing the importance of observing Islamic standards in kindergartens, Welfare and Social Security Minister Sadeq Mahsouli, himself a former Revolutionary Guard commander, said last month that "children should be educated in such a way that when they reach the age of 13, they will be able to imitate Hossein Fahmideh."

Pioneers, Komsomol, And Commissars

According to General Jokar, the Student Basij currently numbers 4.6 million members of both sexes. They are subdivided into units of "Omidan" (Hopes, in elementary schools); "Pouyandegan" (Seekers, in middle schools) and "Pishgaman" (Standard Bearers, in high schools). Those subdivisions are similar to the Young Pioneers and Komsomol in the Soviet Union.

Meanwhile, 4,000 experts in political education are to be sent to schools across the country, a senior Education Ministry official recently told the Iranian Labor News Agency. Those experts, who bear a striking resemblance to Soviet-era political commissars, are to show children "how to combat the onslaught of [Western] culture and inform them about the enemies' plots being hatched against the Islamic revolution."

"The clerical regime is once again using religion to create an ideology in order to brainwash schoolchildren and consolidate its authority in society, the way many other authoritarian regimes do," Azadeh Kian, a political sociologist at Paris University VIII, tells RFE/RL's Radio Farda.

Increasing Indoctrination

Confirming that the indoctrination of schoolchildren has become a priority for the regime, Education Minister Hamid-Reza Hajibabai recently disclosed that "10,000 houses of the Koran, 20,000 prayer rooms, and 20,000 libraries will be established in schools."

Said Payvandi, a professor of education at the University of Paris VI, describes such indoctrination as anathema to education. "All international charters stress that children, especially 7-14-year-olds, should receive education in a free environment devoid of ideological pressure or military training," he tells RFE/RL's Radio Farda.

Schoolteachers too are seriously concerned by the government's measures to indoctrinate even the youngest schoolchildren. A teacher from the province of Khuzestan who asked not to be named told Radio Farda that the presence of at least one Basij at every school, Basij cooperation with the Intelligence Ministry, and the selection of Basij members as headmasters in most schools has brought schools firmly under the control of the security agencies.

Yet these combined measures were not sufficient to prevent student protests at a number of schools last September inspired by the post-presidential-election demonstrations.

It seems as though the government's education policy over the past 30 years has not succeeded in molding young Iranians' minds. "The government's failed policy manifested itself in [the post-presidential-election] protests by young people who were born after the [1979] revolution and grew up in an environment imbued with propaganda and the ideologization of Islam. But the result [of that brain-washing] has been the opposite of what the regime intended," says sociologist Azadeh Kian.

Nova Scotia diocese sells 400 properties to pay legal fees

Nova Scotia diocese sells 400 properties to pay legal fees
May. 27, 2010
By Connor MacEachern Catholic News Service
ANTIGONISH, Nova Scotia (CNS) -- The Diocese of Antigonish will put up about 400 properties for sale in an effort to raise the money necessary to cover legal settlement and sexual abuse lawsuit costs.

Father Paul Abbass, diocesan spokesman, told parishioners in a series of talks that the diocese has raised about one-third of the money necessary to cover the legal costs.

"We have commitments of close to 6 million (Canadian) dollars ($5.75 million)," he said. "That pretty much taps out what we can expect from that particular exercise of the pooling of liquid assets."

Parishes in the diocese were asked to contribute all but essential money to the legal settlement fund, which meant larger parishes donated much more than others, Father Abbass said.

"It's hard to say that there's any fair practice going on here," he said. "It's equal to every parish in the sense that every parish is asked for everything."

The remaining CA$12.5 million must come from the sale of all "non-core assets," which include all property except occupied churches and church houses, Father Abbass said. A financial study said the diocese would be able to meet the fiscal responsibilities if all properties were sold, he added.

The Catholic Episcopal Corp. of Antigonish -- the corporate arm of the diocese -- has contributed about CA$2 million to various legal fees. That amount is not included in the CA$6 million total, said Jim Gogan, a member of the legal and financial settlement committee.

Consultant Jeanie McCharles, who will oversee the sale of all properties, was meeting with diocesan representatives in late May to develop a program and a standard for the sales.

Father Abbass said parishioners will have the first chance to buy any properties. If parishioners refuse to make an offer on a property, it will be listed publicly, he added.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Priest guilty of indecent assaulting sisters

Priest guilty of indecent assaulting sisters
Page last updated at 11:43 GMT, Thursday, 27 May 2010 12:43 UK

Father Lewis was found guilty of 11 counts of indecent assault A court in Omagh has found a Catholic priest guilty of sexually abusing three young sisters.

Father Eugene Lewis, 76, denied 11 charges of assault between 1963 and 1973. The sisters said the abuse began when they were as young as seven.

The abuse took place at their County Fermanagh home.

A jury of six men and six women unanimously convicted the former provincial superior of the Society of Missionaries of Africa.

The priest was also accused of raping one of the sisters, but since the alleged incident happened in Dublin he could not be tried for the offence in Northern Ireland.

During the six-week trial the jury heard that Lewis had befriended the girls' parents nearly 50 years ago.

Prosecuting QC Ken McMahon said the priest had "wormed his way" into the family through a fellow, but innocent cleric.

Mr McMahon told the jury that although welcomed into their home at anytime, he often chose to call at bedtime or on Saturday bath night.

Lewis, who currently resides in Dublin, was ordained in 1958 and after his time in a seminary between 1960 and 1970, he went to Dublin and then served on missions overseas.

More recently he has worked in west Belfast.

He will be sentenced in June.

Germany: 205 claims of abuse at Jesuit schools

Germany: 205 claims of abuse at Jesuit schools

The Associated Press

MUNICH - A special investigator says in her final report that at least 205 former students claim to have been sexually or otherwise abused in Jesuit schools in Germany.

Investigator Ursula Raue said Thursday she thinks the number is even higher, as "we cannot expect to have heard everything yet."

She said 46 Jesuits and non-clerical staff at the schools have been accused of abuse or of knowing of such crimes without acting.

Raue was asked by the Jesuit order to investigate allegations of sexual abuse which surfaced at Berlin's Canisius Kolleg school in January and triggered a scandal that has shaken the Roman Catholic church in Germany.

In a preliminary report in February, Raue said 115 people had claimed to have been abused, most of them decades ago.

The Trial of Benedict XVI

The Trial of Benedict XVI
By Jeff Israely and Howard Chua-Eoan Thursday, May. 27, 2010

How do you atone for something terrible, like the Inquisition? Joseph Ratzinger attempted to do just that for the Roman Catholic Church during a grandiose display of Vatican penance — the Day of Pardon on March 12, 2000, a ritual presided over by Pope John Paul II and meant to purify two millenniums of church history. In the presence of a wooden crucifix that had survived every siege of Rome since the 15th century, high-ranking Cardinals and bishops stood up to confess to sins against indigenous peoples, women, Jews, cultural minorities and other Christians and religions. Ratzinger was the appropriate choice to represent the fearsome Holy Office of the Inquisition: the German Cardinal was, at the time, head of its historical successor, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. When his turn came, Ratzinger, the church's premier theologian, intoned a short prayer that said "that even men of the church, in the name of faith and morals, have sometimes used methods not in keeping with the Gospel in the solemn duty of defending the truth."

If you detect ambivalence in those words, you are on the road to understanding the difficulty Ratzinger — now Pope Benedict XVI — faces in leading the Catholic Church to properly atone for another stain on its history: the decades of cases of child abuse by priests and cover-ups by their bishops. And while a well-placed Cardinal has publicly speculated that Benedict will deliver a mea culpa in early June, the words of that apology — if that is what it proves to be — will be severely limited by theology, history and the very person and office of the Pope. It is unlikely to satisfy the many members of Benedict's flock who want a very modern kind of accountability, not just mealymouthed declarations buttressed by arcane religious philosophy. "Someone once told me that if the church survived the Inquisition, it can survive this," says Olan Horne, 50, an American victim of priestly abuse. "But these are different times. And right now, the modern world is wrapping its head around the Catholic Church in a major way."
(See a photo gallery of the path of Pope Benedict XVI.)

The crisis facing the church is deeply complicated by the fact that in 1980, as Archbishop of Munich, the future Benedict XVI appears to have mismanaged the assignment of an accused pedophile priest under his charge. That revelation — and questions about Ratzinger's subsequent oversight of cases as a top Vatican official — has been the trigger in turning a rolling series of national scandals into an epic and existential test for the universal church, its leader and its faithful alike. It has blunted Benedict's ambitious enterprise of re-evangelizing Europe, the old Christendom. Over the past two months, the Pope has led the Holy See's shift from silence and denial to calls to face the enemies from within the church. What is still missing, however, is any mention of the Holy Father's alleged role in the scandal. Can the Pope, the living embodiment of the ancient Gospel and absolute spiritual leader of the world's 1.2 billion Catholics, publicly atone for his sins and yet preserve the theological impregnability of the papacy?

Without alluding to the crisis, Benedict told his May 26 audience in St. Peter's Square that "not even the Pope can do what he wants. On the contrary, the Pope is the guardian of obedience to Christ, to his Word."

Benedict now seems to understand the stakes. But Alberto Melloni, a church historian at the University of Modena, says other power brokers in the Vatican think the church can just ride out the storm. "They don't realize the deep bitterness among the faithful, the isolation of the clergy. We can't predict where this is going to wind up." Speaking to TIME, a senior Vatican official foresees immense consequences for the entire church. "History comes down to certain key episodes," he says. "We're facing one of those moments now."
(See the top 10 religion stories of 2009.)

At the Heart of the Darkness
In the end, the test is not about doctrine or dogma, not even about the wording of mea culpas and the resignation or prosecution of prelates. It is, rather, about the voices of children finally crying out, long after their childhood. Listen to Bernie McDaid's story and you will know why St. Peter's trembles.

"He grabbed me, tickling and wrestling like I did with my dad, and I thought at first it was fun," McDaid, who grew up in Salem, Mass., says of a parish priest. "But then something changed ... He started grabbing my genitals. I felt him rubbing against me from behind ... I was so scared. I knew this was so wrong. I looked out the window. I started praying." That would happen again and again over three years. McDaid's devout mother was delighted whenever the priest arrived to pick up her son, just 11 when the abuse started, to join other boys on trips to the beach. But, recalls McDaid, now 54, "the last boy out of the car was the one who would get molested." He finally spoke to his dad, who then took him to a priest from the next town to report what had happened. "We waited for months. Then there was a rotation of priests. He left, but they made it look like a natural progression. They celebrated him with cake and ice cream." The boy was left in silence and with his secret shame. The priest, Father Joseph Birmingham, went on to abuse boys in three other parishes in the Boston area before he died in 1989.

2 million Canadians know someone sexually assaulted by priest: Poll

2 million Canadians know someone sexually assaulted by priest: Poll
By Richard Foot, Canwest News Service April 13, 2010

The poll also suggests that a majority of Canadians, and even a majority of Roman Catholics, believe Pope Benedict XVI is guilty of covering up abuse by pedophile priests.Photograph by: Observatore Romano, AFP/Getty ImagesAt least two million Canadians personally know someone, a friend, relative or acquaintance, who has been sexually assaulted by a Roman Catholic priest, suggests a new national poll.

It also suggests that a majority of Canadians, and even a majority of Roman Catholics, believe Pope Benedict XVI is guilty of covering up abuse by pedophile priests.

The Ipsos Reid survey, carried out last week for Canwest News Service and Global Television, shows that child abuse scandals — which for years have troubled the Catholic Church and now directly threaten the Pope — are deeply felt in Canada, where Catholics and non-Catholics alike are unhappy with the Church's handling of the crisis.

"Two million people is a shocking number, admitting that they personally know someone sexually abused by a Roman Catholic priest," says John Wright, senior vice president of Ipsos Reid Pubic Affairs. "This is not something that can evade scrutiny."

Thomas Rosica, a priest in Toronto who is CEO of the Salt and Light Catholic Television Network, says the Church shares the concerns found in the survey. But he calls the poll "misleading and sensationalistic," because it fails to include the Church's efforts in Canada to respond to victims and become more transparent.

"And we must not forget that most of the cases being addressed in the media these days date back decades," he says.

Ipsos-Reid surveyed 1,003 Canadians by telephone last week. Eight per cent of respondents, and seven per cent of Roman Catholics surveyed — numbers that if extrapolated across Canada would equal two million people — personally know a victim of sexual abuse by a Catholic priest.

The results on this question were highest in British Columbia (11 per cent) and Atlantic Canada (10 per cent), Quebec (nine per cent), Alberta (eight per cent) and lowest in Saskatchewan and Manitoba (three per cent each). For Ontario, the result was six per cent.

The survey also found:

- Six per cent of all respondents and eight per cent of Roman Catholics surveyed, personally know of a Catholic priest in their parish or neighbourhood who has been criminally charged with sexual assault;

- Fifty-eight per cent, and 54 per cent of Catholics, believe Pope Benedict has "perpetuated a climate of silence and cover up around pedophile priests."

- Twenty-nine per cent, and 37 per cent of Catholics, believe instead that the Pope is being unfairly targeted in this scandal;

- Sixty-nine per cent, and 80 per cent of Roman Catholics, believe the proportion of pedophile priests among the Catholic clergy is minor, and that only a small number are harming the Church's reputation;

- Sixty-four per cent, and 55 per cent of Catholics surveyed, are not satisfied with the Church's efforts to root out predatory pedophiles among its priests;

- Fifty-five per cent of respondents, and 57 per cent of Catholics, said they are satisfied with the way police and the justice system are investigating allegations of abuse against Catholic clergy. However, only 14 per cent, and 19 per cent of Catholics, said they are "very satisfied" with the justice system's response.

John McKiggan, a Halifax lawyer who has represented hundreds of victims of clergy sexual abuse, says people need to remember that the institutional abuse of children is not only a Catholic problem.

"I've sued the Anglicans, I've sued the United Church, I've sued the Baptist church, I've sued provincial and federal government jails, the Boy Scouts and foster homes," McKiggan says. "In any institutional setting, where there are people in power and people who are vulnerable, you are going to have people who take advantage of that imbalance. It happens regardless of the religious faith of the persons involved.

"That being said, the vast majority of my claims involve victims from the Catholic Church."

As in the U.S. and Ireland, the Catholic Church in Canada has for years lived under the dark clouds of childhood abuse scandals, including the terror inflicted on children by Christian Brothers at the Mount Cashel orphanage in Newfoundland, and abuse of native children at Church-run Indian Residential Schools.

Victims and Catholic clergy have complained of a system of coverup — of failing to eject known abusers from the priesthood — perpetuated by the Church hierarchy.

This year, evidence surfaced from two past abuse cases in California and Germany that linked such practices to decisions by Archbishop Joseph Ratzinger, before he became Pope Benedict.

"The most striking statistic in the (Ipsos Reid) survey is the fact that the majority of Canadians believe the Pope is involved in covering up allegations of abuse," says McKiggan.

"This comes at a time when churches of all faiths are losing members and incomes, and people are leaving because of frustrations or other concerns. Whether or not these questions about the Pope are even true, they pose a huge additional problem for the Catholic Church."

Rosica says the Church in Canada has put new protocols in place to prevent future cases of abuse, but hasn't properly explained its efforts to the public.

"We still have a long way to go," he says, "to communicate forcefully and clearly what we have done to respond to the crisis, and what remains to done as we improve our protocols, care for victims, and to ensure that these heinous crimes will never happen again."

The results of the Ipsos Reid poll are considered accurate within 3.1 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.

© Copyright (c) The Vancouver Sun

Sister Margaret’s Choice

May 26, 2010
Sister Margaret’s Choice
We finally have a case where the Roman Catholic Church hierarchy is responding forcefully and speedily to allegations of wrongdoing.

But the target isn’t a pedophile priest. Rather, it’s a nun who helped save a woman’s life. Doctors describe her as saintly.

The excommunication of Sister Margaret McBride in Phoenix underscores all that to me feels morally obtuse about the church hierarchy. I hope that a public outcry can rectify this travesty.

Sister Margaret was a senior administrator of St. Joseph’s Hospital in Phoenix. A 27-year-old mother of four arrived late last year, in her third month of pregnancy. According to local news reports and accounts from the hospital and some of its staff members, the mother suffered from a serious complication called pulmonary hypertension. That created a high probability that the strain of continuing pregnancy would kill her.

“In this tragic case, the treatment necessary to save the mother’s life required the termination of an 11-week pregnancy,” the hospital said in a statement. “This decision was made after consultation with the patient, her family, her physicians, and in consultation with the Ethics Committee.”

Sister Margaret was a member of that committee. She declined to discuss the episode with me, but the bishop of Phoenix, Thomas Olmstead, ruled that Sister Margaret was “automatically excommunicated” because she assented to an abortion.

“The mother’s life cannot be preferred over the child’s,” the bishop’s communication office elaborated in a statement.

Let us just note that the Roman Catholic hierarchy suspended priests who abused children and in some cases defrocked them but did not normally excommunicate them, so they remained able to take the sacrament.

Since the excommunication, Sister Margaret has left her post as vice president and is no longer listed as one of the hospital executives on its Web site. The hospital told me that she had resigned “at the bishop’s request” but is still working elsewhere at the hospital.

I heard about Sister Margaret from an acquaintance who is a doctor at the hospital. After what happened to Sister Margaret, he doesn’t dare be named, but he sent an e-mail to his friends lamenting the excommunication of “a saintly nun”:

“She is a kind, soft-spoken, humble, caring, spiritual woman whose spot in Heaven was reserved years ago,” he said in the e-mail message. “The idea that she could be ex-communicated after decades of service to the Church and humanity literally makes me nauseated.”

“True Christians, like Sister Margaret, understand that real life is full of difficult moral decisions and pray that they make the right decision in the context of Christ’s teachings. Only a group of detached, pampered men in gilded robes on a balcony high above the rest of us could deny these dilemmas.”

A statement from the bishop’s office did not dispute that the mother’s life was in danger — although it did note that no doctor’s prediction is 100 percent certain. The implication is that the church would have preferred for the hospital to let nature take its course.

The Roman Catholic hierarchy is entitled to its views. But the episode reinforces perceptions of church leaders as rigid, dogmatic, out of touch — and very suspicious of independent-minded American nuns.

Sister Margaret made a difficult judgment in an emergency, saved a life and then was punished and humiliated by a lightning bolt from a bishop who spent 16 years living in Rome and who has devoted far less time to serving the downtrodden than Sister Margaret. Compare their two biographies, and Sister Margaret’s looks much more like Jesus’s than the bishop’s does.

“Everyone I know considers Sister Margaret to be the moral conscience of the hospital,” Dr. John Garvie, chief of gastroenterology at St. Joseph’s Hospital, wrote in a letter to the editor to The Arizona Republic. “She works tirelessly and selflessly as the living example and champion of compassionate, appropriate care for the sick and dying.”

Dr. Garvie later told me in an e-mail message that “saintly” was the right word for Sister Margaret and added: “Sister was the ‘living embodiment of God’ in our building. She always made sure we understood that we’re here to help the less fortunate. We really have no one to take her place.”

I’ve written several times about the gulf between Roman Catholic leaders at the top and the nuns, priests and laity who often live the Sermon on the Mount at the grass roots. They represent the great soul of the church, which isn’t about vestments but selflessness.

When a hierarchy of mostly aging men pounce on and excommunicate a revered nun who was merely trying to save a mother’s life, the church seems to me almost as out of touch as it was in the cruel and debauched days of the Borgias in the Renaissance.

Church, RCMP disagree over filing charges

Church, RCMP disagree over filing charges

The Western Star

Rev. George Smith served as priest of Deer Lake’s Immaculate Conception Parish between 1986 and 1991. — Star photo by Katherine Hudson

The Roman Catholic church will not automatically be going to police about the allegations of sexual abuse by one of its priests.

Corner Brook and Labrador Bishop Douglas Crosby said it is up to the complainant to decide if he wants to report the alleged abuse to the RCMP, since he is an adult.

He said the church is currently examining the allegation through a committee of professional lay people. The committee will take its lead from the complainant with regards to any recommendations it might make.

“It would depend on the recommendations that come forward from the committee if they would deem (reporting the allegations) to be appropriate ... the correct thing to do.

“I think we always take our lead from him. He’s old enough to do that if he wants to,” Crosby said.

Rev. George Smith was removed from his duties at a church in Prince Edward Island due to an allegation of sexual abuse dating back to when was in Deer Lake, Bishop Douglas Crosby confirmed Wednesday.

Rev. Smith served at Deer Lake’s Immaculate Conception Parish between 1986 and 1991. Crosby said the complainant came forward about 10 days ago, stating he was involved in an incident of sexual touching.

“I have asked him (the complainant) to talk in more detail to the bishop’s delegate, who we have assigned to this case,” said Crosby.

Crosby said he understands the complainant came forward with his story in the late 1990s, about 10 years after the alleged abuse.

He said was shocked, saddened and disappointed by the news.

Sgt. Jacques Morneau of the Deer Lake RCMP confirmed the police have not been contacted by church officials concerning the allegations. He said anything involving criminal offences should be reported.

“Unless we get a complaint, we can’t investigate,” Morneau said.

“That’s strange that they haven’t notified anybody yet, if it’s serious enough that they have to remove (someone) from the position. I can’t see them wanting to deal with this internally.”

Morneau offered reserved comment since details have not been disclosed to the RCMP.

“I don’t think they should leave it up to the complainant to come to us,” he said. “If they’re aware that a member of their organization has committed a criminal offence, (it) should be reported.”

Working with Smith
Patti Bouzanne, choirmaster of Immaculate Conception Parish in Deer Lake, worked with Smith during his time at the church between 1986 and 1991. She said Smith was easy to work with.

“He was a very gentle person,” Bouzanne said. “I had no concerns, no problems. I worked well with him. ... To me, he was just another priest who was in the parish. There have been several since I’ve been there.”

She said the parish welcomes a new priest every six years.

“When you’re a choir director you do have to work with the priest about what you’re going to be doing in church and for different functions,” she said.

Bouzanne said until she knows the facts, she won’t rush to judgment of Smith.

“There’s been so much of this going on and a lot of times, they find that it’s unwarranted,” said Bouzanne.

“Basically, when I see something like that in the paper, I say ‘OK, whatever.’

“I believe in the law, that you’re innocent until you’re proven guilty.”

Smith was retired until last year when he took the temporary position at St. Malachy’s Parish in Kinkora, P.E.I.

U.S. lawyer targets child pornographers in lawsuit

U.S. lawyer targets child pornographers in lawsuit
Wed May 26, 2010 5:54pm

"Sin within the Church" threat to Catholicism: Pope Benedict
Tue, May 11 2010
Factbox: Sex abuse scandals in the Catholic Church
Tue, May 11 2010
Cardinal accuses Vatican official of abuse cover-up
Sun, May 9 2010
Pope accepts resignation of German bishop in sex probe
Sat, May 8 2010
Dutch Catholic abuse commission call to offenders
Fri, May 7 2010Live ChatThe slumping euro
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CHICAGO, May 26 (Reuters) - A Minneapolis lawyer who has filed hundreds of lawsuits against Catholic priests accused of sexual abuse, said on Wednesday he was now taking legal action against people who produce and collect child pornography.

Bonds | Global Markets

The lawsuit filed by Jeffrey Anderson in federal court in Minnesota on behalf of an unnamed 9-year-old boy employs a federal law that calls for civil penalties of up to $150,000 for each downloaded image.

Anderson's suit names a 49-year-old Minnesota man who was indicted last week on charges of producing, distributing and possessing child pornography. According to the lawsuit, the accused knew the boy and took pornographic pictures of him.

"We have the ability, through (the suspect's computer) hard drive, to identify everybody who has downloaded that image, and to track them, and to use this law to sue them," Anderson said in a telephone interview from Minneapolis.

Child pornography, which Anderson said had been used by some of the pedophile priests he has sued, is an expanding multibillion-dollar industry, he said.

Federal prosecutions for illegal child pornography have risen sharply to nearly 1,400 cases in 2006, "but these numbers pale in comparison to the millions of existing images on the Internet and the hundreds of new child images being added each day," Anderson said.

"The police do a good job but they only prosecute a certain number of people," Anderson said. "By using the forensic techniques that we have, and working with law enforcement, we have the ability not only to get justice for the victims of child porn, but we can deter the further commission of it." (Reporting by Andrew Stern; Editing by Peter Cooney)

Surely Rome can do better

Surely Rome can do better
by James Ewens on May. 26, 2010 NCR
Examining the crisis

Let me take you into a situation that illustrates the church institution's instinctive reaction to cover-up scandal. It was a workshop in 2000 for new Jesuit superiors. The presenter, a former provincial, was discussing the circumstances when a superior could break the bond of confidentiality between himself and the men he was in charge of. He said something could be shared with the provincial "If it was a matter of danger for the individual or to others."

I asked, "What do you mean by others?" His response was concise and immediate: "The Jesuit order." (Not, as I expected, "students, parishioners, those we are counseling, etc.")

I was stunned by his answer, and the fact that none of the other 40 participants expressed any disagreement with it. That same evening we heard a talk by a newly installed bishop. He had worked in another diocese prior to his current post and said he often appeared in court to defend priests facing charges.

He described how, as he was walking into court, he would recite to himself, "I'm sorry, Your Honor, but I do not remember." Those attending the dinner laughed loudly. One wonders if either of these revelations would have occurred if "outsiders" (lay people, the parents and victims of sexual abuse by priests) had been present. I strongly doubt it.

I am, however, convinced that the two interlocking issues that contribute to sex crimes against young victims are precisely this misuse of confidentiality and power in the insular clerical culture, and the Vatican's fixation on celibacy.

The church's fixation on celibacy became obvious eight years ago when I decided to implement my decision to leave the priesthood. The process is complex and little known, even by clerics.

To obtain permission to leave the Jesuits I had to write a letter to the general of the order in Rome, stating my reasons. I had to write a similar letter to the pope, asking to become an "inactive priest." (I imagine it as having my hands tied behind my back, with the church saying I still possess the powers of a priest but without authorization to use them "unless there is a state of emergency or someone is in imminent danger of dying.") I was told the process would be completed within 6-8 weeks.

Writing the two letters seemed simple enough. However, there was one hitch: if I also wanted to be released from my vow of celibacy I would have to go through a series of steps, similar to those required for couples who seek an annulment from their marriage. I would need to have individuals who knew me before I was ordained to testify as to my freedom and maturity when I made this choice in 1970. The theory is that evidence will be found indicating I was not truly free and mature to choose celibacy in the first place. If, indeed, this can be found, then I could be released -- just as some married couples qualify to have their marriages annulled due to a lack of mature free choice.

This is how the church works diligently to protect the bond of marriage and the bond of celibacy -- but then I learned there was one additional hurdle: seeking this permission would take a minimum of two years and neither of the other two requests could be granted until -- and if -- it was successfully approved. Wow! Three superiors encouraged me to only apply for the first two permissions, saying that if I did get married "things could be worked out later without much difficulty."

Of course. It is eight years later, I did get married, and now I'm told that my marriage will only be "regularized" by the Vatican if I respond favorably to a five-page questionnaire that focuses primarily on my sexual history over the past 45 years. I have chosen not to complete the document because I am unable to answer the one question in it that I think is valid: "Why is it that you are seeking this special favor?"

In short, after being released from my vows as a Jesuit and being approved, by the Vatican, to become an inactive priest, I feel no need to obtain a further permission to have my marriage "regularized" -- especially since it can only be obtained by completing an onerous questionnaire fixating on my personal sexual history. Surely Rome can do better than that.

[James Ewens has worked as a chaplain in hospice care and with the mentally ill during his 30 years as a priest. He is retired and lives in North Lake, Wis.]

Editor's Note: As we were preparing this commentary for publication, Mr. Ewens recalled a news story he read in NCR last year: Congregation can more easily laicize priests. Mr. Ewens said, "Church leaders could take care of this situation with a simple solution, if they would just carry out the actions outlined in this document. But as the document says, the officials must take the initiative."

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

LA Catholics to welcome coadjutor archbishop

Last updated May 26, 2010 10:55 a.m. PT

LA Catholics to welcome coadjutor archbishop

LOS ANGELES -- The future leader of the nation's most populous Roman Catholic archdiocese will be formally welcomed Wednesday in a religious service at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels.

The Mass of Reception will mark the start of Coadjutor Archbishop Jose H. Gomez's ministry as an assistant to Cardinal Roger Mahony, who will retire next year.

Six other cardinals, dozens of bishops, more than 400 priests and representatives from 288 parishes throughout the nearly 8,800-square-mile archdiocese were expected to participate in a service incorporating a half-dozen languages to reflect the diversity of the region.

Mahony, who became archbishop of Los Angeles in 1985, has said he urged Pope Benedict XVI to select a Latino to replace him when, under church law, he retires in February at age 75.

Born in Monterrey, Mexico, Gomez, 58, will become the first Hispanic archbishop of the Los Angeles archdiocese at a time when illegal immigration from Mexico is a heated political issue.

Gomez is the newly elected chair of the Committee on Migrants and Refugee Services for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. His new position in Los Angeles will give the former archbishop of San Antonio, Texas, a more visible platform on immigration while reflecting a large segment of the U.S. church.

More than a third of the 65 million Catholics in the United States are Hispanic, as are nearly three-quarters of the 5 million-plus members of the three-county archdiocese.

Gomez will also inherit remaining elements of the clergy sex abuse scandal that has dogged the Archdiocese of Los Angeles for years.

In, 2007, Mahony agreed to a $660 million settlement with more than 500 alleged victims of clergy abuse, and a federal grand jury is investigating how the archdiocese handled abuse claims.

Mahony is not a target of the investigation, according to his attorney.

Italy's bishops reveal priest abuse figures

Italy's bishops reveal priest abuse figures
Page last updated at 14:49 GMT, Wednesday, 26 May 2010 15:49 UK
By David Willey
BBC News, Rome

The conference did not say how many cases were reported to police For the first time the Roman Catholic Church in Italy has admitted that about 100 cases of paedophile priests have been reported to church authorities during the past 10 years.

But the Italian Catholic bishops' conference refused to reveal how many priests in the country had subsequently been defrocked under canon law.

It also did not say how many priests had been prosecuted by police.

The Church has been under pressure to reveal the secret statistics.

Diplomatic immunity

Meanwhile, the public record of the number of cases of paedophile priests prosecuted in Pope Benedict's own backyard continues to grow.

On Monday, a priest in Savona went on trial for alleged sexual violence against a 12-year-old girl.

On Tuesday, a 73-year-old priest in Milan, known for his support of gay rights, was arrested for alleged sexual abuse of a 13-year-old boy.

Last week, an Italian bishop gave evidence for the first time at another trial that he knew about rumours of sexual abuse by a priest two years before his arrest, yet had never reported this to the police.

The Secretary General of the Italian bishops' conference, Monsignor Mariano Crociata, said there was no need for a special church committee to be set up to deal with cases of child molestation by priests as had happened in Germany and other European countries.

And despite the Pope's promise of zero tolerance in the future to crimes of sexual abuse by clergy, the Vatican continues to claim diplomatic immunity from prosecution in lawsuits arising from cases of sexual abuse by priests in the United States.

Bethany residents remembered

Bethany residents remembered
Irish Times

Former Bethany House residents Derek Leinster, Patrick Anderson McQuoid and Noleen Belton attend a memorial service at the unmarked graves of 40 children from the home in Mount Jerome cemetery in Dublin today. Photograph: Niall Carson/PA WireRelated
Graves of Bethany children 'located at Mount Jerome' | 22/05/2010Former residents of a Protestant children’s home gathered in a Dublin cemetery today as the names of 40 forgotten babies were read out at their unmarked graves.

Some 75 years after the infants were buried, former residents of the Bethany Home in Rathgar laid flowers, memorial cards and small toys at their final resting place.

The graves, in barren ground at the Mount Jerome Cemetery in Harold’s Cross, were discovered by Griffith College Dublin lecturer Niall Meehan after consulting documents from the institution.

The Bethany Home was run by evangelical members of the Church of Ireland but had no formal connection with that church. It operated at Blackhall Place in Dublin from 1921-34 and at Orwell Road, Rathgar, until it closed in 1972. It was also a place of detention for women convicted of petty theft, prostitution, infanticide and birth concealment.

Patrick Anderson-McQuoid, who was brought to Bethany shortly after he was born in 1947, recited a poem he had written for the occasion before reading out the children’s names.

“The whole purpose was to acknowledge their short time on earth and put their names out in the open,” he said. “It was very sombre standing on the spot but there was a sense of achievement that we had got to this point.”

The former residents of the combined children’s home, maternity home and detention centre for female convicts are now campaigning for a monument to remember the babies, who had an average age of three to six months.

Derek Leinster has also established a support group for fellow residents of the home, which closed in 1972.

“I’m getting contacts in America, Australia, Canada, Britain and Ireland,” Mr Leinster said. “There’s a lot of people affected by it and it’s all been hidden. Now it’s time to stop the hiding.”

The 68-year-old, who now lives in England, said many people suffered long-term health problems from the neglect they endured at the home.

Mr Leinster also called for the Government to help locate burial sites of other children from the home.

“You can never block it out,” he added. “As a father with four children, to think these children were there without any love or care or attention - anyone who’s human couldn’t fail to be moved.”

Mr Meehan found the graves, most of which are situated in two adjoining plots, with the help of a cemetery employee after obtaining documents from the home.

Among those who attended the memorial event were independent Senator David Norris and Labour equality spokeswoman Kathleen Lynch.

Ms Lynch backed calls for Bethany survivors to have access to the State’s redress scheme for similar institutions.

“I believe that the Bethany Home should be included within the Irish Government’s redress scheme, as well as the Magdalene Laundry women, so that people who suffered the horrors of abuse in the institution, on the wink and nod of the state, can be afforded the reparations that they deserve,” she said. “I also believe that there should be a fitting and appropriate memorial to children who did not survive.”