Saturday, July 31, 2010

Clergy still managing to miss the point.

Clergy still managing to miss the point.
By nozzferrahhtoo | Published: July 30, 2010 Atheist Ireland
The country’s men in dresses both North and South of the Border have continued to miss the point of the Nation’s and the World’s outrage over Child Sex Rape and Pederasty scandals in the Church in recent years.

Addressing parishioners and fellow clergy in Kilaloe today Bishop Willie assured his listeners that no abuse has occurred in his diocese for the last 20 years.

They still think it is just about the abuse don’t they? They still really do not get it.

No Willie, it is not just about the abuse, it is about the systematic cover ups that followed them to. The transfer of the perpetrators, the burying of documents, the use of intimidation and fear to silence the victims and more.

Does Willie want to stand before the nation and tell us none of THAT has been going on in his or any diocese in the last 20 years? In the last 5 even?

This week Donal McKeown came out at Knock to tell people that drunk adults are probably abusing drunk kids. He alas does not cite a single statistic for this but bases it entirely on the fact that…. adults get drunk…. kids get drunk…. and kids can not control themselves while drunk…. so adults MUST be abusing them.

“The actions of intoxicated adults and some young people’s own inability to have control of themselves would imply that many children are being physically, emotionally and sexually abused across this country on a daily basis — and especially at weekends,”

Trust a catholic Bishop to think that if a child is vulnerable, then SOMEONE has got to be abusing it. That is, after all, what vulnerable children are for right “Father”?

The icing on this particular cake comes when he adds:

“That is a national disgrace and we seem unable to acknowledge it”

Yes “Father” because acknowledging child abuse is something your career background and experience to date is known to illicit in your ilk huh? Maybe you should explain this one to Willie.

Speak up for our women religious

Speak up for our women religious
Jul. 26, 2010
An NCR Editorial
Women religious

Members of the LCWR march through Woldenberg Riverside Park in New Orleans for a prayer service to preserve the wetlands, part of the LCWR's gathering last year. (CNS/Frank J Methe) Printer-friendly version
U.S. women religious, whose leaders meet in Dallas next month, find themselves in a terrible position. On one hand, they can defend their approach to religious life. Through decades of prayer and work together, they have discerned that approach, articulated in their Vatican-approved charters, as God's call. The process has drawn them deeply into social apostolates through which they have become a powerful representation of Catholic life throughout U.S. culture and the wider world.

On the other hand, they can work quietly in attempting to navigate the institutional shoals, placating those among the hierarchy who believe that a 19th-century model of religious life, shuttered up and held in place by an unthinking acquiescence to a male hierarchy — mistakenly referred to by some as obedience — is the salvation of religious life. The option holds the possibility of avoiding a public confrontation and the unpleasant consequences of such a standoff. However, it also holds the likely possibility that religious life in the United States will be re-engineered in secret by the men in the Vatican. It holds the prospect that the soul of a project rooted in and encouraged by the Second Vatican Council would be hollowed out.

The social sciences have a term for the situation of women who feel compelled to be compliant with the men who are bent on demeaning and humiliating them: They call it battered wife syndrome.

So much is at stake in the decisions the Leadership Conference of Women Religious will take about how to proceed because the very integrity of the organization has been called into question with a Vatican-initiated "doctrinal assessment" of its activities.

The doctrinal investigation of the Leadership Conference, which represents 95 percent of women's orders in the United States, was initiated by the Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. As much as it is, in itself, an affront to the sisters in the United States, it is all the more insulting because the congregation is headed by an American, Cardinal William Levada. As a former bishop and archbishop in the United States, he certainly could recite, with little prompting, the countless ways religious sisters provided him with an educated, inspired and active church over which to preside. Certainly he knows as well as anyone that the Catholic presence in the wider culture — from institutions such as hospitals, schools and colleges, to ministries in parishes, and to the neighborhoods of desperate inner cities — would be seriously diminished without the sisters whose loyalty he now questions. In that context, the investigation is a shameful betrayal of trust.

The doctrinal congregation's investigation is only part of the nuisance distracting U.S. women religious today. They are also contending with another investigation — said to be, of course, for their own good — conducted by the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, headed by Cardinal Franc Rodé. The benignly titled "apostolic visitation" is by any other name an invasive probe of how the sisters live and whether they conform to some unspecified measure of what religious life should be. At best, it's a setup. Rodé has several times revealed his conclusions about religious life in the United States, and they are hardly appreciative of what the sisters have done.

Rodé recites the tired shibboleths of a minority who see the future in the enthusiasm of a few small conservative orders that have gone back to habits and regimented community life. That approach is not to be dismissed, but it must also be noted that it has limited appeal. The numbers, by comparison to the alternative, are miniscule. The conservative model should be able to coexist with newer forms of community that involve different levels of membership and a greater role for lay associates. Imagining that the future of religious life resides primarily in a re-enactment of the past is similar to dealing with the priest shortage by insisting on a celibate all-male clergy even if it means raiding other priest-short countries to maintain the impression that all is well.

Underlying all of this, particularly the doctrinal investigation of Leadership Conference, is the basic question: What do bishops hope to achieve?

Before attempting to answer that question, it is necessary to note that the Vatican, in initiating these investigations, is revealing not a crisis in religious life but rather a crisis of the clerical and hierarchical culture.

It is a crisis most graphically depicted in the scandalous behavior of the hierarchy worldwide in its handling of the clergy sex abuse crisis in which bishops systematically and repeatedly chose the preservation of their culture over the lives of children.

In the case of the sisters, what Vatican officials hope to achieve appears to be a forced, public acknowledgement by the sisters that the bishops and cardinals hold all the cards and are the final arbiters of how the women will conduct their lives.

The resultant clash is inevitable. The Vatican that repeatedly extols the dignity of women and whose representative at the United Nations recently argued for the equality of women culturally and economically is the same structure that insists that men, and celibate men at that, are the only humans qualified to make major decisions for the Catholic community. The hypocrisy is embarrassingly evident. The theological and exegetic rationales for such duplicity are by now threadbare and rotting.

Framing the current situation in such stark, adversarial terms may seem to some counterproductive, even detrimental to the sisters and their attempts to work with and reason with the Vatican.

Indeed, there are rich opportunities in these conflicts for seriously exploration of the future of religious life. But to do so in a way that recognizes the work and intelligence of the women involved would require a sea change in hierarchical attitudes about authority, women and what it means to lead a community.

It is impossible to have a dialogue when one side is convinced of the outcome before the conversation begins. It is impossible to have a dialogue when one side believes it is vested with all of the wisdom and answers necessary, when it inherently distrusts changes to the status quo, and when it is convinced that leadership is defined as the ability to control.

Women religious cannot pull themselves out of the quicksand into which they have been thrown. Even while tormented by conflicted loyalties, they still seem to hold on to some hope that someone in the hierarchy will actually hear what they are saying. They are aware, too, that any response they make must take into consideration not only their own convictions and integrity but also the needs of the vulnerable in their communities, especially the elderly. If they have any hope of moving beyond the battered wife syndrome, they need strong, public support of the Catholic community they have so diligently served for decades.

Individuals, parishes, justice groups, alumni groups, all of those who know how different the world would be had it not been for the life of a woman religious need to speak out now and let the Vatican know how much the sisters are appreciated. We all have the power to easily join the discussion and perhaps affect the course of things. Individuals and groups can sign respectful letters and make sure the local bishop and those in the two Vatican congregations conducting the investigations understand the depth of feeling that exists for women who have dedicated their lives to service of the church and others. Send copies of all correspondence to the papal nuncio in Washington.

It is also time for bishops who understand the unseemly politics of the moment, who in private wince at each new insult to religious women, to show some courage. Those who know how dependent the life of their local church is on the service of religious women should end their silence. Speak up. Use your newspapers, Web sites, columns and blogs to highlight the contributions of women religious. You could be taking a first step toward both altering the culture that has brought on this sad episode as well as healing the growing and unnecessary breach between women religious and some members of the hierarchy.

If we want religious women to continue to minister while exploring the possibilities of the future with confidence and integrity, they need to know the church is behind them. Ending up with sisters who feel battered will serve no one and will only bring further shame on an already beleaguered community.

Where on earth is Bishop Wingle?

Local NewsHome News Local News
Where on earth is Bishop Wingle? Posted By GRANT LAFLECHE , STANDARD STAFF
Updated 22 minutes ago

Eganville is a study in contradiction. It's the kind of place where residents leave their cars unattended with the doors unlocked and the windows down without a worry. Farmers who have worked the land for generations know their neighbours like family.

Other residents who live and work there couldn't give you directions if you paid them. A significant number of the town's 1,300 residents -- a population so small the label "town" seems a bit grandiose -- turn over fairly regularly. They leave, only to be replaced by newcomers.

It's a farming community, but one marked by several fallow fields dotted with dandelions.

Traditional faith matters and the silhouettes of the old mainline churches from Catholic to Lutheran dominate the town-scape. Yet some of the churches are marked with unique, angular steeples that reflect more of a jazz architecture vibe than the mood of somber religion.

Eganville, two hours west of Ottawa, is a quiet, still place where life seems simple. But that quiet does little to hide the trauma suffered by the local Catholic church. One of its priests is facing sexual abuse charges, leaving his replacement to pick up the pieces.

However, silence is what defines the crisis facing another Catholic priest from Eganville.

Bishop James Wingle, former head of Niagara's Catholic community, is one of the town's favourite sons. Born and raised on a farm tucked away behind a wall of evergreens, he grew up to become an influential bishop who has the ear of popes.

"Father Jim," as he is known in town, left his Niagara post without warning in April. In a short letter to the diocese, Wingle said he no longer had the stamina for the job, and was resigning for a period of personal reflection and prayer. What led to his decision has never been disclosed.

Officials at the local diocese say they were not told and Niagara priests are very reluctant to speak about Wingle on the record. Some recently spoke to other media outlets about Wingle, but when contacted by The Standard this week said they would be better off not commenting.

Even in Wingle's homtown, where his sister Margaret Morris still lives on the family farm with her husband, the wall of silence remains. Morris declined to speak about her brother. The only person who can speak about James Wingle, she says, is James Wingle.

"Whenever the bishop decides to make a statement, if you are an honourable person he might talk to you," Morris said, rebuffing an interview request. "I won't say anything about him right now."


To Morris' unending chagrin, however, silence has not stopped rumours. In online forums where friends and foes of the Catholic church snipe at each other, Wingle has become a subject of fascination. Cloaked in the anonymity the web provides, some claim he is in drastically poor health. Others say he has been seen in Jerusalem. All of it is unconfirmed.

With no one who knows anything about Wingle talking, the closest thing to an explanation for what happened comes from the Eganville Leader, a weekly newspaper and the alpha-male of news in the town and surrounding county.

On April 14, the Leader ran a story about Wingle's unexpected resignation.

Based largely on what had already been reported by other media, including The Standard, the story by co-publisher and editor Gerald Tracey contains a brief peek behind the curtain of silence around Wingle.

"Family members told the Leader in recent weeks that Bishop Wingle, 63, has been dealing with several health issues, some of them brought on they believe due to a busy and hectic schedule." Tracey wrote.

Tracey says he didn't know the specific nature of those health issues.

Health problems, whatever they are, might explain Wingle's admitted lack of stamina and would undoubtably be part of a very difficult year for Wingle's family.

In February, his sister's son, David Morris, was killed in a vicious car accident near Alberta. His car collided head-on with a dump truck and exploded.

Wingle reportedly took his nephew's death exceptionally hard. The grieving family only buried David Morris in Eganville two weeks ago.

Although Wingle's presence could be felt during the funeral -- he wrote what some in town called a moving homily -- the bishop was conspicuous by his absence.

Even staff at St. James the Less Catholic Church in Eganville have no information on Wingle's whereabouts, other than to say they haven't see him. However, given that a former priest at the church is facing trial on four sex abuse charges, the fate of Wingle is not their top priority.

Tracey said despite Wingle's deep connection to Eganville, the town is as in the dark as everyone else. If Wingle has ever returned since his resignation, Tracey is not aware of it.

"He is deeply respected in this community, particularly by Catholics," he says.

Although Wingle's career as a priest keeps him travelling and serving communities outside of his own, he never forgot his roots.

Tracey points to a story in the Leader's archives as an example. In 1980, long before Wingle achieved his current rank, a local woman received the Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice, a papal medal awarded to lay members of the church.

Wingle was studying in Rome at the time, but arranged for the woman to come to the Vatican for an audience with the pope, John Paul II, Tracey says.

Yet, despite his deep connection to the town, Catholics in Eganville -- like those in Niagara -- wait for Wingle to break his silence and explain why he left the job he spent his career building for.

Crimes against the faith: child molesters and women priests

Crimes against the faith: child molesters and women priests
Posted By By Rev. Bob Ripley QMI Agency
Posted 12 hours ago

Just when I thought that the Roman Catholic sex abuse scandal was flattened under the weight of gushing Gulf oil and Mel Gibson's rants, last week the Vatican sent a letter to its bishops targeting crimes against the faith.

You know, the rape of children, molestation of the mentally disabled, possession of child pornography and the ordination of women.

I'm not kidding on that last one. More later.

Pope Benedict has begged forgiveness from victims of sexual abuse by priests, "particularly the abuse of the little ones," and promised to do everything possible to protect them.

He has met with abuse victims and said the scandal had shown the need for a purification of the Church. All of this raised hope that the Vatican had grasped the gravity of the scandal and that doing anything less than everything to prevent future abuse would be a betrayal not only of victims but all those who trust the Church to guide them.

So what should have been major surgery to address a serious wound, has turned out to be the application of a bandage at best; a move more tactical than penitential.

In 2003, the Vatican restructured its procedures for disciplining abusive priests, allowing them to be defrocked without a lengthy canonical trial if the evidence against them was overwhelming. The recent rules codified those procedures into church law. The rules extend the statute of limitations for handling priestly abuse cases from 10 years to 20 years after the victim's 18th birthday. Priests who possess or distribute child pornography and those who sexually abuse developmentally disabled adults will be subject to the same procedures and punishments as priests who molest minors.

The new rules, however, do not demand that bishops report clerical sex abuse to police, provide no canonical sanctions for bishops who cover up for abusers, and do not include any "zero tolerance" policy for pedophile priests.

As New York Times columnist Maureen Down suggested, if Roman Polanski were a priest, he'd still be working in the United States.

"The first thing the church should be doing is reporting crimes to civil authorities," said Andrew Madden, a former Dublin altar boy who filed the first public abuse lawsuit against the church in Ireland in 1995.

"That's far, far more important than deciding whether a criminal priest should be defrocked or not," he told The Associated Press in Dublin.

"The church's internal rules are no more important than the rules of your local golf club."

Astonishingly, the Church chose to include the attempt to ordain women as priests among the "gaviora delicta" or grave offences, subject to the same set of procedures and punishments meted out for pedophilia and heresy. Church officials later clarified that they didn't necessarily believe the crimes were of equal gravity. Too late. Damage done.

In 2007, the Vatican issued a decree saying that the attempted ordination of women would result in the automatic excommunication for the woman and the priest trying to ordain her. This recent document adds that the priest also can be defrocked.

I come from a religious tradition that has been ordaining women since 1936. True, Jesus chose men for his dozen disciples; a choice more contextual than doctrinal. No women. But no blacks or Germans either.

It's important to know whether we are listening to God or our ambitions or our anxieties. A religious institution which insists on male prerogative has to ask whether it is an unalterable dictate or misogynistic nonsense.

And any institution which works harder to protect predators rather than victims does indeed need, in the words of Pope Benedict, "a purification."

Jesus is not the protector of pedophile priests, he is judge and jury and the sentence is as harsh as it gets.

Parish priest stands aside as child abuse claim rocks diocese
Parish priest stands aside as child abuse claim rocks diocese
By John Cooney Religion Correspondent
Saturday July 31 2010

A closely-knit rural community in the north-west is in shock after a well-known parish priest was accused of child sex abuse.

The case is the first known complaint to hit the diocese of Killala which covers large sections of Co Mayo and Co Sligo. The elderly priest was suspended from parish duties by his bishop after a formal allegation was made against him.

The Irish Independent understands that the complaint of sexual abuse dates back to an incident in the diocese in the 1970s, and that it is being investigated by gardai and the HSE.

Last night, Bishop of Killala, John Fleming could not be contacted. And the priest, who voluntarily agreed to stand aside on being informed of the allegation, did not return a call made by the Irish Independent.

Geographically, the diocese of Killala takes in large sections of counties Mayo and Sligo, but it has a small Catholic population of 38,715.

The diocese has been struggling to stave off bankruptcy in recent years and its number of priests -- many of them elderly -- is declining. Currently, Bishop Fleming is in charge of 70 priests, 10 of whom are retired, to minister for 22 parishes and 48 churches.

Last weekend, parishioners in the village in north Co Mayo were stunned to discover that their parish priest had left unexpectedly. Mass-goers were informed of the investigation when a statement from the bishop was read out in the priest's parish last Saturday evening and Sunday morning.

The statement said Bishop Fleming had asked the priest to stand aside from his ministry while the allegation was being investigated.

The priest had agreed to do so, the statement added. "Since this complaint has not been established as either true or false, he enjoys the presumption of innocence during this investigation," read Bishop Fleming's statement.


An Garda Siochana, church authorities and the HSE are now carrying out separate investigations into the complaint.

Bishop Fleming asked the congregation to pray for the person alleging abuse, the priest involved, their families, for the people of the parish and the diocese.

In the 2009 report of the Irish Catholic Church's independent National Board for Safeguarding Children, its chief executive Ian Elliott named Killala as one of the few dioceses which had not appointed a priest as its child protection delegate.

Nor had the diocese established child protection committees in parishes.

Last night, people in north Co Mayo were too shocked to talk openly about the complaint.

But one woman said that until now the people of the Killala diocese had not seen the need for a child protection delegate or for vigilance committees.

"Abuse allegations against clerics were unknown in this part of the world," she added.

One parishioner on hearing the complaint said the community was "in total disbelief" as the suspected priest was "such a nice man and is highly respected".

Meanwhile, members of the clergy have previously complained that the practice of removing a priest from office when a complaint is made, irrespective of whether he is later found to be guilty or innocent, marks their reputations for the rest of their lives.

- John Cooney Religion Correspondent

On your knees, fathers, we demand a proper apology

On your knees, fathers, we demand a proper apology
Friday July 30 2010 Irish Herald

Apparently priests are getting angry. So angry in fact that some are considering forming their own union to give them a public voice and fight for "civil and ecumenical rights".

According to their spokesperson, Fr Brendan Hoban, "we have things to say and we are prepared to say them". Quite.


Here's the problem, reverend. While the public have a passing interest in your ability to organise yourselves into a pressure group, that is all it is. Passing. What we really want to know is what will be the items on the agenda at your inaugural meeting? The rights of Travellers and asylum seekers? Noble. The possibility of getting the Anglican Communion to rejoin the Roman fold? Ambitious. However, here's what all your faithful really want on this agenda.

Item 1 has to be serial clerical sexual abuse. We want it to stop and we want the shielding and denial to end now. We want the clergy top to bottom, right and left, to atone for its collective sins.

We want an apology from the Vatican with no caveats. We want the Church to fall Christ-like to its knees and beg for forgiveness. It's called Christianity.

Item 2 must be the abandonment of rampant clericalism. Unlike you, we the poor humble flock, do not see you as demi-gods, rather merely the gate-keepers of the faith.

Item 3 has to be women priests. What's with the misogyny, gentlemen? Not taking account of anything women say, never mind ensuring there are no women priests, is plain embarrassing with absolutely no theological or biblical foundation.

Item 4 should be celibacy. Unfortunately when you deny your sexuality you deny a part of your humanity. It's not rocket science.

There is no benefit to celibacy. God didn't want it (check the Bible for this also) and society certainly doesn't want it. It's not cool, it's weird, and anyone who says differently needs attention.

Final item. Humility. Christ was big into this. Ask not what can be done for you, etc. Here's some fun. Try a discussion on how you might actually make yourself meeker than your flock -- you know, right down into the metaphorical earth.

So for that first meeting don't appoint a PR person or discuss the relative merits of social security payments or child benefit for the poor.

Instead get your own house in order without delay. Remember you are the foot soldiers. Make like an army and bring down those who believe their purple and red robes are more important then the message of their faith. Now that would be a proper union.

John O'Keeffe is a law lecturer and former priest

Fraud case against Fresno diocese delayed

Fraud case against Fresno diocese delayed
Posted at 11:23 PM on Friday, Jul. 30, 2010
By Pablo Lopez / The Fresno Bee Share

■Priest sex abuse test case in Fresno court
Priest sex abuse test case in Fresno courtA Fresno courtroom will soon be the testing grounds for a new legal strategy that could help people sue the Catholic Church in cases of alleged sexual abuse by priests -- even if the statute of limitations has expired.
The Fresno County Superior Court case involves a former altar boy who says his Bakersfield parish priest told him "God wants you to do this" as he molested the teen 17 years ago.
California's statute of limitation prevents him from suing the Roman Catholic Diocese of Fresno for sexual abuse. So he is suing for fraud instead.

■Pa. diocese sued after abuse accuser's suicide
Pa. diocese sued after abuse accuser's suicideThe estate of a man allegedly abused by a priest in the 1980s is suing the Roman Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh, alleging he committed suicide this year after the diocese stopped paying for his mental health treatments after two other suicide attempts.
Michael Unglo, 39, formerly of Etna in suburban Pittsburgh, committed suicide in May at a center in Stockbridge, Mass., according to a copy of the lawsuit obtained by The Associated Press. He alleged he was molested in the early 1980s while an altar boy by a priest who was convicted of molesting another boy and later resigned.
The diocese decided to stop paying for Unglo's treatment even though the diocese continued to pay for the priest's health insurance and a monthly stipend, Alan Perer, attorney for Unglo's estate, said Thursday at a news conference.

■Reform crucial
Reform crucialI applaud the brave clergy sex abuse victim who is trying a novel legal approach to hold Catholic officials responsible for a pedophile priest's crimes ("Priest sex abuse test case in Fresno court," July 10).
It's clear that California's archaic, predator-friendly statute of limitations, which prevents most victims from taking action in court against those who molested them, needs drastic reform. Until that happens, however, it's crucial that victims keep trying to find ways to expose offenders, protect kids, and get healing.
John Smith

■Valley news of the week -- July 11-17
Valley news of the week -- July 11-17Magnet for crime? That was the comparison suggested by Fresno County Sheriff Margaret Mims in speaking to county supervisors last week about the need to limit medical-marijuana shops that are springing up in unincorporated areas.
But readers of The Bee commenting online heaped scorn on the idea, making for one of the liveliest discussions in recent weeks.
Here are the top stories of the past week, along with selected comments posted by readers on

■Judge may toss part of Idaho Boy Scout abuse suit
Judge may toss part of Idaho Boy Scout abuse suitA federal judge said Tuesday he's inclined to dismiss many of the claims in a lawsuit against the Mormon church made by a man who says the church didn't do enough to stop a Boy Scout troop leader from sexually abusing children.
U.S. District Judge David O. Carter gave a tentative ruling saying he would likely dismiss most of the claims in the man's lawsuit against the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. But Carter also said he may allow a fraud claim to move forward.
The tentative ruling allows attorneys on all sides to more narrowly tailor their arguments to the points the judge believes are most pertinent to the case.
Legal arguments in a civil lawsuit that accuses the Roman Catholic Diocese of Fresno of fraud have been delayed to Sept. 9 in Fresno County Superior Court.

Initially, Judge Adolfo Corona was scheduled to consider the church's request to dismiss the lawsuit next Thursday, but new documents filed by the plaintiff's lawyer, Joseph C. George, prompted the judge to continue the hearing.

Both sides, however, will meet for a case management conference on Aug. 9.

George is using a novel legal strategy -- he is suing for fraud because the deadline to file a sex abuse case has passed.

The case involves a former altar boy who says his Bakersfield parish priest molested him 17 years ago.

Crime and courts coverage The lawsuit contends the diocese committed fraud when Bishop John T. Steinbock broke a promise.

The former altar boy says Steinbock told him he would defrock the priest who allegedly molested him.

But the accused molester, the Rev. Father Hermy Dave Ceniza, continues to work as a priest in the Philippines, according to George, who represents the former altar boy.

Lawyers for the Fresno diocese, which includes Bakersfield, said the suit is legally defective because Steinbock kept his promise and got rid of Ceniza -- though they don't deny he still is a priest.

While suing the Catholic Church for fraud has been tried in other states, this could be the first time a California judge will rule on it.

Read more:

Teen claiming abuse by ex-priest sues archdiocese

Teen claiming abuse by ex-priest sues archdiocese
Chicago Sun-Times

July 30, 2010

BY LISA DONOVAN Staff Reporter
A 19-year-old man filed a lawsuit Friday against the Archdiocese of Chicago, alleging church officials moved pedophile priest Daniel McCormack from assignment to assignment even after sex abuse allegations surfaced against the now-defrocked pastor.

The man, identified in court papers only as John E. Doe, alleges he was abused by McCormack as a sixth- grader at St. Agatha’s parish rectory on the West Side from 2001 to 2002.

“McCormack, as part of a continuing series of acts, raped, inappropriately sexually touched, rubbed and/or abused the [p]laintiff over eighty . . . times, including placing the [p]laintiff’s hand on McCormack’s penis more than sixty . . . times for penile stimulation,” the suit alleges.

The suit accuses the archdiocese and Cardinal Francis George of negligence for allegedly moving him from the seminary to two parish assignments, even though McCormack had been accused of sexual abuse.

It also accuses the church of failing to maintain records of alleged reported sexual abuse of minors involving McCormack when he was a student or seminarian. McCormack was a student at Niles College of Loyola University from 1986 to 1990 and attended Mundelein Seminary from 1990 to 1994.

The 19-year-old is seeking at least $50,000 in damages.

A spokesperson for the archdiocese declined to comment on the lawsuit.

McCormack, 41, was sentenced to five years in prison after pleading guilty in 2007 to charges he fondled five boys. It was unclear from court papers whether the boy in this case was among the victims in the criminal case. McCormack remains behind bars.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Utah Supreme Court Affirms Forced Marriage and Rape of 14-Year-Old Girl

Utah Supreme Court Affirms Forced Marriage and Rape of 14-Year-Old Girl
by Merrill Miller, Communications Intern NOW

On July 27, the Utah Supreme Court overturned Warren Jeffs' conviction of accomplice to rape. Jeffs, the so-called "prophet" and leader of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter-Day Saints (FLDS), had been convicted of accomplice to rape when he orchestrated the marriage of 14-year-old Elissa Wall to her first cousin, 19-year-old Allen Steed. Wall was terrified of the marriage and begged Jeffs to cancel it. He refused. He also refused to help her after she was married, when she pleaded with him to release her from her husband, who had been raping and abusing her repeatedly during their marriage. While Jeffs' guilt in this case appears undeniable, the Utah Supreme Court claimed that because the prosecution could not prove that Jeffs intended for Steed to rape Wall, his conviction should be overturned.

This ruling by the Utah Supreme Court gives no justice to Wall, who endured years of brainwashing under Jeffs and then years of abuse under her husband. But the Utah Supreme Court's decision also denies justice to women all over Utah and ultimately all over the country. If the state can say that a man who forced a girl into marriage against her will is not an accomplice to rape, then the state essentially finds it acceptable for men to tell women what to do with their bodies, choices and lives, stripping them of all autonomy. The state of Utah already heavily restricts women's rights in a variety of ways. It puts the "rights" of unborn fetuses ahead of women's rights to privacy and control of their bodies, and it also bans and restricts so many types of abortion care that abortion services are difficult, if not impossible, to obtain there. Utah also limits women's right to choose how to live their own lives, particularly concerning whom to marry. While Jeffs can coerce a girl into marriage against her will, same-sex adults who have spent years in loving, committed relationships cannot marry in Utah or most other states. In fact, the Utah Supreme Court's decision to overturn Jeffs' conviction reflects the state's, and the country at large's, failure to recognize a woman's body and life as her own.

On a more positive note, though Jeffs' conviction has been overturned, he most likely will have a new trial in Utah. Even if he doesn't, he's facing charges of bigamy, sexual assault of a child and aggravated assault in Texas. The FBI is also investigating him for sexual assault of a minor and conspiring to sexually assault a minor, and he has a federal indictment against him for unlawful flight to avoid prosecution. If Utah doesn't eventually bring this man to justice, hopefully Texas or the federal government will.

Religious leader accused of sex abuse at Strawberry Lake Christian Retreat

Religious leader accused of sex abuse at Strawberry Lake Christian Retreat
A St. Cloud, Minn., girl and her mother sued the founder of Gospel Crusades for what the federal lawsuit calls repeated incidents of sexual abuse at a retreat center near Detroit Lakes.
By: Don Davis, State Capitol Bureau
Attorneys Patrick Noaker and Sarah Odegaard tell reporters Wednesday about a federal lawsuit they just filed alleging religious leader Gerald Derstine sexually abused a girl at the Strawberry Lake Christian Retreat near Detroit Lakes, Minn. The photo behind them is of Derstine, leader of Gospel Crusades. (Don Davis/State Capitol Bureau) ST. PAUL -- A St. Cloud, Minn., girl and her mother sued the founder of Gospel Crusades Wednesday for what the federal lawsuit calls repeated incidents of sexual abuse at a retreat center near Detroit Lakes.

The suit claims Gerald Derstine of Bradenton, Fla., molested the girl during summer camps in 2007, 2008 and 2009 at Gospel Crusades' Strawberry Lake Christian Retreat.

St. Paul attorney Patrick Noaker said the goal of the suit, filed Wednesday in federal court, is two-fold: to make the retreat center safe for children and to get money to fund the St. Cloud girl's treatment.

Gospel Crusades did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Paperwork Noaker and fellow attorney Sarah Odegaard gave reporters this afternoon included a letter supposedly sent by Derstine to the victim and her mother saying that he just was trying to be a father figure because the girl did not have a father living in her home. He asked them to drop a criminal case against him.

The lawsuit claims Derstine used his authority as a religious leader to influence the girl when she was 11, 12 and 13 years old. It also says that others at Gospel Crusades should have known what was going on and did nothing to prevent it.

Noaker and Odegaard said all but one of the alleged incidents occurred in Derstine's Strawberry Lake office.

Becker County Attorney Mike Fritz said that authorities have investigated the allegations, but no charges have been brought.

“There was an investigation and it was reviewed and based upon the information that we had at that time, in meeting with law enforcement officials, it was determined that there was not a sufficient amount of evidence to sustain our burden of proof at the time of trial,” he said.

Fritz said the case remains open and he will watch progress of the federal civil case.

Those bringing civil cases, such as filed Wednesday, have a lower burden of proof than when authorities make criminal charges.

Gospel Crusades began in 1953 and Derstine became its leader in 1965. Its website claims 1,500 active members in more than two dozen countries.

Derstine lives in Florida, where he has the ministry headquarters and a conference center.

The Strawberry Lake retreat has been in operation for more than 45 years.

Riham Feshir of Detroit Lakes Newspapers contributed to this story. Don Davis reports for Forum Communications Co.

Priest had date with teen before alleged suicide?

Priest had date with teen before alleged suicide?
Posted at 07/30/2010 6:39 PM | Updated as of 07/30/2010 7:03 PM

MANILA, Philippines - Police in Camarines Sur province are investigating the death of a priest, who allegedly went on a date with a 15-year-old girl before he was found dead last Wednesday morning.

Senior Superintendent Jonathan Ablang, Camarines Sur provincial police director, said the initial report he received was that Father Baltazar Acompañado Jr. died in his sleep and that that the priest may have committed suicide.

"May hawak-hawak na baril sa kananang kamay si Father Acompañado at may gunshot wound sa ulo, kaya lumalabas nag suicide siya (Father Acompañado has a gunshot wound in the head and he was holding a gun with his right hand, which indicates that he committed suicide)," Ablang said.

He, however, said that the suicide angle was not conclusive, based on the initial crime scene investigation by the Camarines Sur Police Provincial Office.

Acompañado, director of the Holy Rosary Preparatory Seminary and Archdiocesan Vocation, was found dead inside his room at the seminary's compound in San Jose town last Wednesday morning (July 28).

Mall date with 15-year-old girl

Ablang said that as the San Jose Police Station probed deeper into Acompañado's death, its investigators discovered that the priest went out with a 15-year-old girl last Tuesday.

He said police have arrested the girl's alleged pimp.

In an interview with ABS-CBN Bicol, the woman denied she was a pimp. She said the priest approached her and asked her to look for a girl who could accompany him to a mall in Naga City.

"HIndi naman ako bugaw. Nilapitan lang ako, pinakiusapan lang ako maghanap ng babae. Nasa bahay lang ako, tumutulong minsan sa sakahan (I'm not a pimp. The priest approached me and asked me to look for a girl for him. I'm usually at home and sometimes helps in the farm)," the woman claimed.

She said that the 15-year-old girl immediately agreed when she asked her if she could accompany the priest to Naga City.

"Sabi sa akin, oo, kasi kailangan niya ng pera (The girl agreed because she said she needed the money)," he added.

The alleged pimp also told ABS-CBN News that the priest tipped her P500 for finding him a girl.

The girl's parents refused to be interviewed.

"Basta sa police na lang kayo magtanong. Kawawa naman ang anak ko, kinse anyos lang ganyan na ang nangyari (You should just ask the police. You should pity my daughter, she's only 15 and yet she already had this kind of experience)," the girl's mother said.

The priest and the girl allegedly returned to San Jose town on Tuesday night.

Good priest

In a statement released by Archbishop Leonardo Legazpi on Thursday, he said that Acompañado was "a good and dedicated priest."

Legazpi said Acompañado first served as parochial vicar of St. John the Evangelist Church in Naga City in 2003 and professor of the preparatory seminary before he was appointed rector.

The archbishop announced that Acompañado's remains lie in state at the Good Sheperd Chapel at the Holy Rosary Major Seminary in Naga City.

A concelebrated funeral Mass will be offered on Saturday at 2 p.m.. The priest's remains will be buried at the Resurrection Garden, the burial ground for priests in Caceres. -- Report from Kate Delovieres, ABS-CBN Bicol

Catholic child protection chief wants Vatican action to go further

Catholic child protection chief wants Vatican action to go further
By staff writers Ekklesia
30 Jul 2010
The chair of the National Catholic Safeguarding Commission (NCSC) has said the Vatican should remove the statute of limitations on the prosecution of priests for child abuse.

William Kilgallon, head of child protection for the Catholic church in England and Wales, added that the time limit was unhelpful and failed to reflect the long-lasting effects of abuse.

Mr Kilgallon said that the Vatican's recent decision to double the time period from 10 years to to 20 was "better than it was", but he would have preferred its abolition.

The Catholic spokesperson was addressing the launch of the NCSC's annual report earlier this week.

The report highlights developments in the protection of children and vulnerable adults in the church.

"Very often, people who have been abused don't report things. They think they won't be believed," he commented. "What happens is, they see someone else has talked, and that gives them the confidence to come forward."

The panel stressed that local Catholic churches were not waiting for instructions from the Vatican on how to deal with sexual abuse, but that churches in each area were acting promptly and concertedly.

Convent among assets to be liquidated by diocese to fund abuse settlement

Convent among assets to be liquidated by diocese to fund abuse settlement
The former Stella Maris convent in Pictou has been chosen by the area's diocese as an asset that can be liquidated to meet the class-action sexual abuse settlement. Sueann Musick – The News
Published on July 29th, 2010

The News Topics : Stella Maris Church , Antigonish , Pictou County
PICTOU – Father Paul Abbass keeps one notion at the forefront of his mind as he deals with the liquidation of assets for the Diocese of Antigonish.

"We're doing this to be reconciled with the victims. If this is not what we're doing then none of this makes sense," said Abbass, the vicar general and director of pastoral services for the diocese. "We are trying to seek reconciliation and justice for the victims. Sadly, the people that had nothing to do with it will suffer, the people in the pews.… Unless I put this in the context of what we're trying to do right there is only pain."

Abbass is deep into the process of the liquidation of diocese assets to meet the court-ordered settlement for the sexual abuse scandal. That amounts to a $15 million settlement along with another $3 million for any other potential related lawsuits.

Churches of the diocese had to identify core assets and non-core assets to determine what could be liquidated and what would be retained.

That liquidation has begun with one asset in Pictou County, the former convent at Stella Maris Church in Pictou, identified as being ready for sale.

He said certain properties have been chosen first because they have been the easiest to identify as being eligible for sale, with a clear deed.

"Others are not so easy to sort it out. Some have one PID (parcel identification number) for the whole parish (church, parish house, land, cemetery) … there's a lot more separating out."

There are a few other assets for sale across the diocese, with more coming, said Abbass. He said the diocese is taking a gradual approach because of the learning curve involved.

"We wanted to release the first five or 10 and then learn what are the potential glitches. We would then say 'okay, what can we learn from this?… We have so many properties, too many to go out to the market at one time."

Abbass said the properties have to be listed for market value under the terms of the agreement.

"Some properties are very valuable, oceanfront, lakefront, subdivision areas. At any given time they're very valuable."

He also said there are some undeveloped rural lands that won't be sold as easily.

Abbass said parishoners of the diocese are dealing with a sense of loss, in some cases saying goodbye to buildings that were constructed by their parents or grandparents.

"It's fair to say most parishoners find this to be a tough situation, it's akin to letting go, it is letting go."

However painful this situation is now, Abbass said the alternative could be worse.

"This is a very, very difficult, painful process for anyone involved. We are trying to spare people of an even more painful process which would be bankruptcy, which no one wants to see."

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Teacher molested kids for 20 years, while community turned blind eye

Teacher molested kids for 20 years, while community turned blind eye
Police are investigating a man who allegedly sexual abused dozens of children on Moshav Kommemiyut over two decades.
By Tamar Rotem
For almost 20 years, one man allegedly sexually abused dozens of children on Moshav Kommemiyut, an ultra-Orthodox community in the northern Negev. Yet no one ever complained - either to the police or to the welfare authorities.

The police have since opened an investigation into the abuses, but the suspect is in the U.S. and refuses to return. Meanwhile, some say community leaders knew of the crimes but did nothing to stop them.

At least one of the victims is suspected of having sexually abused younger children in turn.

The main suspect, Shimshon Walzer, began his alleged career as an abuser 19 years ago, while serving as a teacher at a religious elementary school. Two years later, rumors of his abusive conduct led to him being fired as a teacher. Yet for some reason, he was allowed to retain an office at the school.

Over the ensuing years, his conduct became ever more abusive, police say, and an entire generation of children became his sex slaves. According to the testimony they have collected, he abused his victims frequently and in broad daylight, in barns and chicken coops, in fields and even at the mikveh (ritual bath ).

The testimony reveals that the victims were usually young - aged 9 or 10, or sometimes a bit older - and generally came from families whose from lower social status. Walzer would allegedly pick them up from school or synagogue in his car.

Police have been conducting an undercover investigation of Walzer for the last few months. Over the course of the probe, they began to suspect that some of the victims had also been sexually abused by a second person.

Suspect indicted

That person, who was a minor at the time most of his alleged crimes were committed, was indicted two weeks ago on charges of sodomy and indecent assault, then released to house arrest. But Walzer was not indicted at the same time, because he was out of the country.

In April, Walzer had gone to the United States to raise funds for the elementary school and the moshav's synagogue. While there, he realized that the noose was tightening about his neck and decided not to return to Israel.

The prosecution recently decided not to seek his extradition, fearing the process was likely to prove complicated, due in part to the fact that the statute of limitations has already expired on some of his alleged crimes.

Some Kommemiyut residents, as well as some of the victims, told police the rabbi of the moshav, the principal of the school and members of the moshav's governing body all knew about the alleged abuse committed by the two suspects. But most residents denied that any abuse had occurred.

Walzer's attorney insisted that he had not returned because he was still fund-raising, and would "fight for the truth when he decides to return."

An attorney for the other suspect said his alleged victim "suffers from credibility problems, to say the least, and his desire to harm Haredi society in general, and the Walzer family in particular, is clear. We believe his testimony will not hold up."

Kommemiyut's rabbi, Mendel Mendelson, declined to respond to Haaretz's questions.

Investigators: Saint John’s Monks: Restricted, Really?

Investigators: Saint John’s Monks: Restricted, Really?
Updated: Wednesday, 28 Jul 2010, 6:59 PM CDT
Published : Wednesday, 28 Jul 2010, 9:20 PM CDT

COLLEGEVILLE, Minn. - In 2002, the head of St. John's Abbey told the public monks, who were accused of sexual misconduct, they would live under restrictions. Many thought it was a sort of house arrest, but that was not the case. The FOX 9 Investigators found just how easy it is for a so called restricted monk to leave St. John's and befriend a family, a family that didn't initially know about the monk's restrictions because St. John's had not made his name public.

A nap in a popular park filled with kids, an Eagle Scout ceremony, a cozy picture on the couch. Brother Jim Phillips has worked his way into the lives of a metro area family. A family we are not identifying to protect their privacy.

A man who knows the family well says, “I knew something had to be done. I didn't want these children to be hurt by this man in any way.”

Eric Evander is worried about Brother Phillips’ relationship with a woman in the family because it gives him access to her grandchildren, including a boy with autism. Brother Phillips is among the dozen or so St. John's priests and monks with credible allegations of sexual misconduct.

Pat Marker is a victims’ advocate. He says, “There's danger out there and there's danger coming from Collegeville.”

Marker knows all about Collegeville and the monks living there. It's a place unlike any other in Minnesota. The sprawling campus includes St. John's University. In the summer young people come from all over the world for events.

There is a beach where kids swim, there is St. John's prep school where teenaged boys live in a dorm and right in the middle is the Monastery where the monks live including at least a dozen the Abbey acknowledges sexually molested an untold number of young people. It's at that prep school Brother Phillips met his two accusers in the late 1970's.

Andrew Butler was one of the accusers. He attended the prep school after his mother died. He told the FOX 9 Investigators, “He’d taken a strong and peculiar interest in me very early on. He would tousle my hair and frequently touch me on the shoulder or put his hand on my back. Within about four weeks it had progressed to something of a much more sexual nature. He was having me come to his private room on a weekly basis throughout that academic year.

Brother Phillips denies he molested his accusers from the 70's but St. John's Abbey confirms Brother Phillips lives at the Abbey under what's called a safety plan.

Marker knows all about the safety plan, “I know what conditions these men live under and it is completely different than what the public believes.”

Marker says the public's belief was formed in 2002 when Abbot John Klassen made a public apology for the sexual abuse.

At the time Abbot Klassen said, “I offer you my deepest and most sincere apology.”

His letter of apology goes on to say, “I am deeply sorry that some members of St. John’s monastic community have violated such a fundamental part of our commitment by engaging in abusive sexual behavior with people in our schools and parishes.”

Klassen said in his statement, “The monks who have sexually abused young persons or vulnerable adults are not allowed to have pastoral or unsupervised social contact with our students or other young persons and he said Monks under restriction could not travel without his permission.”

Like so many of us, Eric Evander understood the Monks would be under a sort of house arrest. He says, “Abbot Klassen said they would be on restrictions. To me that means they would be restricted to monastic grounds.”

But the FOX 9 Investigators have learned the so called restrictions do not keep the restricted monks on the grounds. The safety plans allow them unescorted trips off campus.

Marker says, “The restrictions they're under allow a man like brother Jim Phillips to go to a restaurant to go to a home and visit with kids and grandkids and while he's been removed from ministry and restricted in some ways, he's had no problem in opening up other avenues.”

The FOX 9 Investigators watched as Brother Phillips ate lunch with his woman friend at a Denny's restaurant where kids come and go. The two then went to a nearby park, filled with kids of all ages. The woman carried a pillow in her trunk so Brother Phillips could take a nap.

The two then said goodbye and Phillips headed back to St. John's Abbey where remember he is a monk, a man who’s taken a vow of chastity, a man who the Abbot removed from public ministry after Andrew Butler's allegations came to his attention in 2002.

Butler says, “He should not be unaccompanied outside anywhere of the monastery.”

Butler is stunned the monks have so much freedom.

He provided the FOX 9 Investigators with an e-mail exchange he had with Abbot Klassen in 2007. The Abbot wrote that Butler's claims of abuse were valid and that Phillips safety plan puts in place safeguards against further sexual abuse or exploitation.

But when the FOX 9 Investigators told Butler what we had seen he said,
“It doesn't sound like there's any meaningful safety plan in place.”
And there is more. In June, the daughter of the woman contacted Abbot Klassen to complain about Phillips contact with their family. The woman says she asked the Abbot to keep her name confidential but he didn't.
Evander says, “He revealed who this person was who had called the Monastery and that has caused some very deep wounds in this particular family wounds that may not ever be healed.”
Evander is a man of deep faith and a graduate of St. John's University.
He says, “The place is beautiful, there are good monks and good priests and professors and great students but there's this blight on the campus that doesn't ever seem to go away.”
He agreed to talk to the FOX 9 Investigators because of how Abbot Klassen responded to the family's concerns.
Evander says, “it would seem that nothing has changed since 2002 given the treatment of this person who called the monastery and was looking for some sort of help on this instead it seems like the monk was protected and that's not really what you would expect.”
Not only did the Abbot reveal who called to complain he did not demand Phillips stop seeing the woman. He left this voicemail for the woman’s daughter.
“What I did was I expressed your concern to brother Phillips about the intrusiveness of his relationship with your mother and I asked that he not be with her except in the presence of another monk, I hope I didn't err and cause undue anxiety or inappropriateness or difficulty for you in what I said.”
Pat Marker says he also talked to the Abbot about the family's concerns
Marker says, “I told him one of his members was befriending a family that had a young boy and the family was worried about it. I said that was not restriction and he claimed it was restriction and it wasn't. He waffled on his answer as he has since the whole abuse scandal broke under his watch in 2002.
None of the restricted monks including Phillips ever faced criminal charges because the statute of limitations had run out. The Abbey says it provides more supervision of monks accused of sexual offenses than is provided for under Minnesota law.
You can read more about the allegations against the restricted monks on Marker's website called Behind the Pine Curtain. It's a website he wishes he could stop working on.
If the Abbey would do their job I wouldn’t have to have a website when the victims stop calling, I will stop working on it, but they haven't stopped calling.
The FOX 9 Investigators did leave a voicemail on Brother Phillips phone but he did not return our call.
According to a voicemail we listened to, the Abbot last weekend spoke personally with the older woman and told her exactly why Brother Phillips is living under restrictions.
Additional statement from Eric Evander
FOX 9 asked Eric Evander whether St. John's Abbey should publicly name all of the monks and priests on restriction. He said: “That would go a long way to being transparent in this matter which is really what the church has been doing in most dioceses including our own diocese of St. Paul Minneapolis. Our current Pope Benedict has taken many steps and our Archbishop Nienstedt has done so as well but unfortunately the monastery at St. John seems to be lagging behind that paradigm.”
E-mail responses from St. John’s
July 14, 2010
“We are unable to comment on issues related to Brother Jim Phillips who lives on a safety plan.”
July 22, 2010
“Any complaints from the public about the activities of a monk living under a safety plan are taken seriously and investigated thoroughly. If it is deemed that a safety plan violation has occurred, corrective measures are taken.”

Pittsburgh Diocese Sued Over Alleged Abuse Victim's Suicide

Pittsburgh Diocese Sued Over Alleged Abuse Victim's Suicide
Law Firm Says Man Killed Self After Diocese Stopped Paying For Treatment
POSTED: 8:35 am EDT July 29, 2010
UPDATED: 8:43 am EDT July 29, 2010
PITTSBURGH -- The estate of a man who claimed he was abused by a priest has announced a lawsuit against the Roman Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh.

The suit alleges the man committed suicide earlier this year after the diocese stopped paying for his mental health treatments following two other suicide attempts.

According to the lawsuit, 39-year-old Michael Unglo committed suicide May 4 in Massachusetts.

Unglo's family scheduled a news conference for 10:30 a.m. on Thursday at a Pittsburgh law office to discuss the lawsuit against the diocese and Bishop David Zubik.

According to the law firm representing the family, Unglo was molested in the early 1980s while an altar boy, by a Pittsburgh-area priest who was later defrocked and convicted of molesting another boy and served jail time.

The Diocese has not yet commented on the lawsuit

‘Franciscans have no interest in delaying resolution,’ attorney says

‘Franciscans have no interest in delaying resolution,’ attorney says
Posted by SBNN on Jul 28th, 2010 and filed under NOW.

Santa Barbara – 6:32 pm - The San Francisco attorney representing priests in the fight over the release of their personnel files has provided a glimpse into where the case may be headed if they lose the appeal.

Doe 1 vs. the Franciscan Friars, Inc., will be heard in the 2nd District Court of Appeal Friday, July 30, in Los Angeles.

A part of the case involves the now closed, St. Anthony’s Seminary in Santa Barbara.

Brian Brosnahan represents the Franciscan Friars of California, Inc.

(Brian Brosnahan/PHOTO-Courtesy law firm website)
Brosnhan told THESBNN.COM, the battle over certain private records, could make its way to the California Supreme Court.

Some of the people abused by priests here reached out of court financial settlements several years ago.

But the victims’ Santa Barbara attorney says, there are unsettling matters that remain.

Tim Hale’s clients want the public to know what happened to them — as disturbing as it is — and hear it from those they call the perpetrators.

They’re talking about the church’s official records of the priests who committed the acts and those who were part of the cover up.

Survivors of abuse say it’s their right and it will help protect children in the future.

The judge who handed down the ruling 3 years ago, agrees.

Judge Peter Lichtman said, “The rights of privacy must give way to the state’s interest in protecting its children from sexual abuse.”

That meant the personnel files of Roman Catholic clergy accused of molesting children were to be made public.

It hasn’t happened.

The ruling also covers clerics never charged with a crime and legal claims against them not proven.

Joey Piscitelli successfully sued The Salesians of St. John Bosco, whose Western Province is based in San Francisco.

Piscitelli won a $600,000 jury award.

However, like many who speak openly about abuse, he says, “it wasn’t about the money.”

The married father told THESBNN.COM, many Catholics remain in denial about scandal and others Catholic, Protestant and everyone else, simply want it to go away.

It hasn’t.

Piscitelli says laying out what happened will help survivors heal and play a huge role in protecting communities and preventing it from happening again.

Brosnahan seems to disagree.

“Releasing the psychotherapy files will not aid in healing,” he said.

He goes on to say, “The Franciscans have no interest in delaying resolution of this issue.

There were many steps in the trial court, and the biggest delay on appeal was caused by the plaintiffs, who took almost 5 months to file their briefs.

The documents at issue on the appeal do not discuss where the friars have been relocated.

An appeal to the California Supreme Court is possible since the issue before the court has importance going far beyond this case and these documents.

The Franciscans are not objecting to releasing the other parts of the personnel files, and releasing the psychotherapy files will not aid in healing.

But it would create a dangerous precedent that would make it difficult to protect the public from sex offenders in the future.”

Some priests who are appealing are represented individually by other counsel.

Attorneys on both sides say it could be weeks, perhaps even months, before a ruling is handed down.

© 2010 The Santa Barbara News Network

Suit: Church leader groomed victim

Suit: Church leader groomed victim
The Rev. Gerald Derstine said he was acting as a father figure.

By CHAO XIONG, Star Tribune

Last update: July 28, 2010 - 9:23 PM

The leader of a northern Minnesota Christian retreat center took advantage of his grandfather-like role in a girl's life and inappropriately touched and kissed her, according to the girl's attorneys.

The Rev. Gerald Derstine, 81, pleaded in writing with the girl and her mother to call off authorities who were investigating him in 2009 for the alleged sexual abuse, said the girl's attorney Patrick Noaker. A lawsuit against Derstine and Florida-based Gospel Crusades Inc. and Gospel Crusade Ministerial Fellowship, which he founded, was filed Wednesday in federal court.

The suit asks for a judgment in excess of $75,000.

Becker County authorities investigated Derstine, and did not pursue charges.

Derstine has run Strawberry Lake Christian Retreat near Ogema for more than 45 years, where attorneys alleged he sexually abused the girl from August 2007 to July 2009, when she was 11 to 13.

Noaker and attorney Sarah Odegaard said Derstine groomed the girl, now 14, by giving her toys and candy. He called her into his office daily, where the abuse occurred, Odegaard said. One incident occurred in a motel room, according to the lawsuit. The girl had little contact with her father, so her family and Derstine agreed that Derstine would mentor her.

In a transcript of a phone call between the girl and Derstine released by her attorneys, the girl asked Derstine if it was OK that they were "kissing on the mouth and hugging."

"...I tried to be a close friend to you, that's what I was trying to do and perhaps in the long run I shouldn't have done that," Derstine allegedly said.

She later said to him, "Um, tell me that it was OK that you touched my breasts, you know, when I was up in your office and --"

Derstine replied, "Yeah, the only reason I did that was because I was tr-trying to encourage you, uh, t-to let you know that I'm recognizing th-that you're growing, th-that you're becoming an adult and I wanted, um, as-as a father figure I thought that was all right..."

Christian teacher settles Ohio arm-branding case

Christian teacher settles Ohio arm-branding case

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- An Ohio family has settled a lawsuit against a middle school teacher who was accused of burning the image of crosses on students' arms.

The family of Zachary Dennis and attorneys for teacher John Freshwater's insurance carrier did not release details of agreement, which averts a trial scheduled to begin Monday in Columbus. U.S. District Judge Gregory Frost still must approve the pact.

The Mount Vernon school board voted to fire Freshwater in 2008, and he remains on unpaid administrative leave pending an appeal. The board settled a separate lawsuit with the Dennis family, agreeing to pay them $5,502 and their attorneys $115,500.

Family attorney Doug Mansfield said Wednesday the lawsuits were about correcting a wrong, not money.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Former Knoxville priest gets probation in N.C. molestation case

Former Knoxville priest gets probation in N.C. molestation case
By Nash Armstrong
Knoxville News Sentinel
Posted July 28, 2010 at 12:08 p.m., updated July 28, 2010 at 1:08 p.m.
.A former Knoxville priest pleaded guilty this morning to “crimes against nature” in McDowell County, N.C. — and the head of a national victims group praised the Indiana man who came forward after 30-plus years to report being molested.

Father Bill Casey, 76, will receive a two-year probation period, during which time he will participate in a sex offender program and pay a $500 fine and other court costs, Rutherford and McDowell County District Attorney Bradley Greenway said today.

Casey has served parishes around East Tennessee for 41 years. Catholic officials said in April, when the abuse was first reported and Casey confessed to church investigators, that he would will never publicly perform Mass or even wear a collar again.

The executive director of Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP), David Clohessy, said in a statement today that reporting instances of child molestation in any circumstance is “crucial.”

“It’s crucial that adults who know about Casey’s crimes honor their civic and moral duty to speak up and stop future abuse,” he said.

Warren Tucker of Jeffersonville, Ind., contacted the McDowell County Sheriff’s Department in April, saying Casey molested him over a five-year period in the mid to late 1970s.

Casey was arrested on April 19 and extradited to McDowell County for trial.

Clohessy said Tucker coming forward should be commended and seen as an example for those who have been molested by not just Catholic priests, but officials in all dominations.

“He should feel very proud of himself for finding the strength to speak up and having the wisdom to call police,” he said. “Children are safer because of Warren’s bravery.”

Casey’s career began in Chattanooga in 1969 and included nearly 10 years as pastor of St. John Neumann Parish in Farragut from August 1987 to July 1997. He retired in 1999 but still said Mass and filled in for other priests on occasion.

Casey, who lives in Greeneville, has declined media interviews but cooperated with church officials and police.

More details as they develop online and in Thursday’s News Sentinel.

Onalaska priest stands mute to child porn charge

Onalaska priest stands mute to child porn charge
Posted: Wednesday, July 28, 2010 11:50 am

The Rev. Patrick Umberger .
..A Diocese of La Crosse priest stood mute today to a possession of child pornography felony charge filed against him during a brief hearing in La Crosse County Circuit Court.

A not-guilty plea was entered on behalf of Patrick Umberger, 59, after he waived his preliminary hearing. The case is set for a status conference in October.

Umberger, priest at St. Patrick's Catholic Parish in Onalaska since 2005, was arrested July 15 when state agents found three sexually graphic pictures of nearly nude children on his computer, according to the complaint.

Umberger denied ever having sexual contact with children, but did admit to using a software program that regularly cleaned his computer hard drive.

The priest has been removal from active ministry pending the investigation, according to the Diocese.

See or Thursday's Tribune for more on this story.

Priest accused of drowning six-week-old boy during a BAPTISM as family looked on

Priest accused of drowning six-week-old boy during a BAPTISM as family looked on
By Daily Mail Reporter
Last updated at 1:37 PM on 28th July 2010
A priest has been accused of accidentally drowning a six-week-old boy as he baptised him in Moldova.
Witnesses claimed the baby died after Father Valentin failed to cover his mouth and nose when he immersed him in water three times.
Film shot by relatives shows the youngster moving after being taken out of the font, but then suffering difficulty breathing as he is dressed.

Twenty minutes later, he started bleeding from his nose and mouth and died.

Immersed: The priest in a Moldovan village has been accused of drowning a baby boy as he baptised him

Parents' nightmare: The baby had problems breathing as it was dressed after the baptism. Father Valentin can be seen in the foreground

The baby died on the way to hospital and a post mortem found he had drowned, the baby's father Dumitru Gaidau told Romania's Publica TV.
He added: 'We all saw it, the priest didn't put his hand over the baby's mouth to stop water going in as he should have done and as they do at every other baptism.

'We couldn't believe it that he just put his hand over his belly and over the head and submerged him three times in the water.'
Father Valentin denies being to blame for baby's death at the ceremony in the Rascani district in north-western Moldova.
The baby's godmother Aliona Vacarciuc, 32, told the Sun: 'The baby was crying as he went into the water.

'We couldn't believe it but we thought the priest must know what he's doing, but he didn't. When we got him back there was nothing that could be done anymore.'

She said that she and the other godparents had challenged the priest and asked him: 'What have you done.'

She added: 'He just told us that he knew better than we did what should have happened and that it was not his first baptism — he was experienced and knew what to do.'
Doctor Sergiu Raileanu, who examined the tiny tot, confirmed that the baby had drowned.
Police said they have launched a manslaughter investigation. If found guilty, the priest faces up to three years in jail.

Retired East Tennessee priest pleads guilty to sexually abusing child

Retired East Tennessee priest pleads guilty to sexually abusing child Updated: 7/28/2010 11:45:16 AM Posted: 7/28/2010 11:19:18 AM

A retired East Tennessee priest accused of repeated sexual abuse of a child decades ago in Tennessee and once in North Carolina pleaded guilty Wednesday to the charge in McDowell County, North Carolina.

The victim, Warren Tucker, came forward with the allegation in April.

In return for his guilty plea to a charge of crimes against nature Wednesday, Casey was sentenced to three years in prison, but that sentence was suspended to 24 months of supervised probation.

Father Bill Casey has already been suspended from any priestly activities for life, according to the Knoxville Diocese, after admitting to sexually abusing a young parishioner from 1975 to 1980.

Breaking News: The Vatican Is Super-Gay

Breaking News: The Vatican Is Super-Gay
28 Jul 2010 10:43 am

I haven't commented on this dog-bites-man story of the Vatican being crammed to the gills with homosexual priests who have long since abandoned the increasingly frantic anti-gay ideology of Ratzinger. And most of the commentary has rightly focused on the extreme response of the Vatican - defrock them now for consensual adult sex! - compared with the long tolerance of child rape and abuse. But it is worth noting, once again, how utterly hollow the Vatican is on the subject of homosexuality. It is an institution so embedded with homosexuality it makes Broadway look straight. The stories I've heard! The network of gay priests is vast in Rome, and is, in my mind, as unhealthy for those who get away with it - the hypocrisy must hollow out the soul in the end - as for those who impose it. Instead of grappling with this fact, owning it, and seeking to diversify the priesthood by ending the celibacy requirement and men-only anachronism, the Vatican clings on to denial and repression. And as society and the actual church evolves - as both must - the denial and repression must increase in proportion - until the sheer ridiculousness of the whole thing becomes apparent even to the most devout.

Increasingly, on these issues of modernity, the Vatican of the new millennium seems like the Soviet Politburo of the 1980s. They pretend to believe what they preach while we pretend to obey them. One day, this surreality will pop like a bubble. One day.

Former Rockford priest released from prison

Former Rockford priest released from prison
Posted: Jul 28, 2010 3:21 PM
Updated: Jul 28, 2010 4:56 PM

Mark CampobelloROCKFORD (WREX) - A former priest in the Rockford Diocese is a free man again.

Mark Campobello, 45, was convicted of sexual abuse several years ago in the Chicago suburbs. The victims sued the Rockford Diocese, which settled the case for $2.2 million.

Campobello has been held in a prison in Lincoln on a technical parole violation for about a year. He was released by the Illinois Department of Corrections on Wednesday morning and boarded a train to the Chicago area where he is going to live in Crystal Lake. He has three days to register with the state's sex offender registry list.

A group that represents victims of sexual abuse by priests say they're worried Campobello is still a danger.

Why give Pope immunity from arrest in UK?
Why give Pope immunity from arrest in UK?
Wednesday, 28 July 2010

I want to let your readers know how shocked I am by the story of how the Justice Secretary, Ken Clarke, has proposed changing the law so that no one can try to detain the Pope while he is in the UK (News, July 23).

This is an insult to all of us victims of child-abuse at the hands of this evil Church.

Does the Rt Hon Ken Clarke even for one moment realise what we victims have gone through? For me, it is like being abused all over again.

The British Government is spending millions of pounds on protecting him when he is in the United Kingdom and yet that same Government would not spend one penny to help us victims get help and treatment for what we went though at the hands of so many evil men.

I've been campaigning for years for a helpline for us victims to call to tell our stories, but our Government has no money to fund it.

I have yet to hear any member of our Government kicking up a fuss about what Ken Clarke is trying to do.

Why is this?

Don't they care about us — the forgotten victims of cruel clerical abuse in Northern Ireland? They are talking about launching an inquiry into clerical child-abuse, but we — the victims — know that's what it will come to: just talk and little else to help the injured parties.

When are the victims going to get the justice they deserve?

JOE (abuse victim)

Newtownabbey, Co Antrim

9 abuse allegations against 1st Episcopal bishop to ordain a woman

9 abuse allegations against 1st Episcopal bishop to ordain a woman
July 28, 2010
A bishop of the Episcopal Church has announced that he is aware of at least nine allegations of sexual abuse against one of his predecessors.

On July 11, Bishop Sean Rowe of the Episcopal Diocese of Northwestern Pennsylvania announced that the late Bishop Donald Davis sexually abused four girls of around the age of 10. Rowe also asked other victims to come forward and subsequently said that he is aware of at least five others who have alleged abuse.

Davis, who died in 2007 at the age of 78, was appointed bishop in 1973 and retired in 1991. In 1977, he became the first Episcopal Church bishop to ordain a woman priest.

Davis was married for 55 years and had three sons and a daughter.

Antigonish diocese begins property sales

Antigonish diocese begins property sales
Last Updated: Tuesday, July 27, 2010 | 8:07 PM AT Comments10Recommend8.CBC News
The Roman Catholic diocese of Antigonish, N.S., has identified which of its properties must be sold and has begun sending letters to individual parishes informing them.

The diocese needs to raise about $15 million for a settlement with victims of sexual abuse by priests.

Parishes in Mulgrave and Georgeville in Antigonish county, Bras d'Or and Lower River Inhabitants in Cape Breton, and the town of Pictou have been notified which of their properties will be sold.

The diocese has about 600 properties — including community halls, religious retreats and vacant land — that were being considered for sale.

The sale of these first properties should bring in about $200,000, said Rev. Paul Abbass, head of the diocese real estate committee.

Better returns are expected from the future sale of some special waterfront properties, he said.

"Where there's significant property, what we have decided to do is just hold those off for a long enough time for us to really place the right value on them and to access some resource people to help us with that … experts in the area that would have a better sense of what is the true value of these kinds of properties."

Abbass said identifying the properties to be sold and assigning an appropriate value has been a painstaking process.

"One of the great concerns as stewards of the people, as difficult as this whole thing is on them, we don't want to make it more difficult by somebody looking at their own property and saying 'Gee, they really undervalued that,' because that would be even harder for people to accept."

A handful of parishes will be notified each week throughout the summer about which of their properties will have to be sold. Abbass said church halls will not be sold unless absolutely necessary.

The settlement with abuse victims was negotiated by Raymond Lahey, the former bishop of the diocese of Antigonish, who has since been charged with possessing child pornography.

It was hailed as the first time the Roman Catholic Church apologized and set up a compensation package for people who claimed they were sexually abused by priests without fighting the charges in court.

Suit to accuse Minn. Christian retreat leader of sex abuse

Suit to accuse Minn. Christian retreat leader of sex abuse
By PAUL WALSH, Star Tribune

A longtime minister and founder of a Christian retreat in northwestern Minnesota is being accused of sexually assaulting a pre-teen girl whom he counseled.

The sexual-abuse accusations against the Rev. Gerald Derstine will be made in a federal lawsuit to be filed Wednesday by Jeff Anderson, the St. Paul attorney who has rattled the Roman Catholic Church all the way to the Vatican over long-running allegations of clergy abuse.

Anderson's law firm has scheduled a news conference Wednesday afternoon in St. Paul, after the suit is filed in U.S. District Court.

Along with the 81-year-old Derstine, the suit will name as defendants the Florida-based Gospel Crusade Inc., which he founded and chairs, and other entities under his direction.

The suit will allege that Derstine was involved in the "recruiting, grooming and subsequent sexual abuse and exploitation of an 11-year-old female from Minnesota," Anderson's law firm said in a news release.

The abuse took place at Gospel Crusade's Strawberry Lake Christian Retreat from August 2007 to July 2009, the law firm contends.

Derstine, in an interview Tuesday afternoon with the Star Tribune, said the allegations are false and stem from the family camp and conference center firing the girl's mother.

"This issue came up last year," said Derstine, who has run the Strawberry Lake Retreat near Ogema for more than 45 years, adding that local law enforcement declined to bring a case against him and even checked out his computer for evidence, then returned it.

Derstine, who was unaware of Anderson's intention to sue, acknowledged that he had counseled the girl for many years for "her fear of men. At age 3, she saw her [birth] father beat up on her mother."

He said his interaction with the girl, who he said is now 13 years old, involved "nothing sexual whatsoever." He said the family "even thanked me" for helping the girl.

Accused priest denies assaulting boys July 28, 2010

Accused priest denies assaulting boys July 28, 2010 - 4:29PM

A Catholic priest has told a court he doesn't remember the schoolboys he's accused of indecently assaulting and only once entered a dormitory after lights out.

James Patrick Jennings, 77, is charged with six counts of indecent assault against four boys aged about 12 in the early 1960s, at St Stanislaus Catholic College.

Jennings, then aged his late 20s, was the dean at the school at Bathurst, in regional NSW.

Allegations include that at night he would walk through a dormitory where the boys slept and sometimes sit on beds and fondle their genitals.

Giving evidence in a jury trial at Sydney's Downing Centre District Court on Wednesday, Jennings "absolutely" denied the allegations.

Under questioning from his lawyer Gregory Farmer, Jennings said he had "no recollection" of the alleged victims, whose identities are suppressed by the court.

"What do you say to (one complainant's) evidence that you asked him if he had had a sex lesson?" Mr Farmer asked.

"I completely deny his whole story," Jennings replied.

Mr Farmer then said: "Including his assertion that you asked 'do you know what a stiffy is?' and that during the course of that (interaction) there was some fondling and your penis was exposed?"

"I absolutely deny that," Jennings replied.

He told the court he did not "touch" any students at St Stanislaus, where his younger brother was also a boarding student and slept just metres from where the assaults are alleged to have occurred.

He also denied entering the dormitory where boys slept.

"Do you recall ever going into the dormitory after lights out?" Mr Farmer asked.

"On one occasion - the night I took (a boy) back to the hospital because of his tonsils. He had a tonsil operation and they had started to bleed," Jennings replied.

In earlier submissions, the prosecution said Jennings' intention through his alleged actions was to "obtain some kind of sexual gratification".

The trial continues before Judge Robert Toner.

© 2010 AAP

New Irish bishop says abuse scandal made church look in mirror

New Irish bishop says abuse scandal made church look in mirror
Tuesday, July 27, 2010
By Catholic News S...
By Cian Molloy, Catholic News Service
New Irish bishop says abuse scandal made church look in mirror Message
DUBLIN (CNS) -- In the wake of a series of clerical child abuse scandals, the country's newest prelate, Bishop Liam S. MacDaid of Clogher, called on the people of his diocese to join him in "a repentant return to the well of salvation."

Speaking at his consecration at St. Macartan's Cathedral, Monaghan, July 25, Bishop MacDaid said: "Society has forced us in the Irish church to look into the mirror, and what we saw were weakness and failure, victims and abuse. The surgeon's knife has been painful but necessary. A lot of evil and poison has been excised. There comes a time when the surgeon's knife has done what it can, is put away and a regime of rehabilitation for the patient is put in place.

"We have been brought to our knees, but maybe that is no bad thing. It can bring us closer to the core of the mystery," he said.

"So while society keeps the mirror in front of us and rightly checks that we are sincere in our intentions and efforts toward rehabilitation, can I invite you, priests and people of the Diocese of Clogher, to join me in a repentant return to the well of salvation. The journey will include for many ... the enormous challenge of forgiveness. Despite his intense suffering, Jesus forgave those who mocked, spat at, scourged and abused him. One of the co-crucified could not bring himself beyond abuse and excluded himself; the other rose to embracing forgiveness and was welcomed into the kingdom. There are many painful experiences in life where only forgiveness can bring closure."

Last year, public confidence in the Catholic Church in Ireland was undermined after the publication of two government reports, the first detailing decades of neglect and abuse of children in church-run residential institutions, the second faulting the Archdiocese of Dublin for the way it handled 325 sex abuse claims in the years 1975-2004.

Born in Bundoran, County Donegal, July 19, 1945, Bishop MacDaid was ordained a priest in 1969. He has served most of his ministry as a teacher at St. Macartan's College, where he was president for nine years until 1989, when he began a six-year term as chairman of the diocesan priests' council. After spending three years serving in parishes, he was appointed diocesan secretary and chancellor before being named successor to Bishop Joseph Duffy, 76, who retired May 6.

Bishop MacDaid is a fan of Gaelic football and was a player on the County Donegal team in the 1970s.

Copyright © 2010 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops

The Vatican: a very Italian institution

The Vatican: a very Italian institution
The reaction to an exposé of gay priests highlights the deference of the Italian press – and the complacency of the Vatican

John Hooper, Tuesday 27 July 2010 10.00 BST Article history
Not the least interesting aspect of the exposure of the double life of some gay Catholic priests in Rome is the way it was handled by the Italian media. Panorama, the news magazine that carried out the investigation, tipped off the rest of the press last Thursday afternoon. Italy's biggest news agency, Ansa, carried a brief dispatch on the magazine's exclusive at 5.32 pm. By 7 o'clock it was number six on its "billboard" of the day's top stories.

Yet not a single national newspaper picked up on Panorama's story. It was only the following day – by which time the Rome diocese had responded with a statement berating the magazine for "defaming all priests" – that the Italian press felt able to run "balanced" reports leading with the diocese's advice to gay priests to "come out" – and get out.

Why this reluctance? Some will doubtless argue that the report, accompanied by photographs of half-naked priests, one still wearing his dog collar, was pure smut. I disagree. It went to the heart of the paradox, let us call it, that underlies many of the Catholic church's current problems. While condemning gay sex as disordered and at the same time insisting on celibacy in an age in which heterosexual clerics can no longer get away with the hypocrisy of "housekeepers", the Vatican is gradually creating a predominantly gay priesthood in all but the developing world. The most reliable estimate suggested that up to half of US Catholic priests are homosexual.

The story had another intriguing dimension. Panorama is owned by Italy's prime minister, Silvio Berlusconi. He cannot be expected to know about everything reported by the three television stations, two daily newspapers and one news magazine that his family influences. But it is hard to believe that he, or his immediate staff, was not alerted to Panorama's spectacular exclusive. And yet, in the three days since it was published, no one in a country addicted to conspiracy theories has posed any awkward questions in public about a possible connection between Panorama's ownership and a story that severely embarrassed the church.

What we have is an example of something with repercussions that go far beyond Italy – the deference with which the media closest to the Vatican treats it and the church that it administers. I hardly need to tell readers of this corner of Comment is free that since January, Europe has been swept by clerical sex abuse scandals involving Catholic priests and bishops. The impression given in the Italian media has been that they have solely affected the German-speaking world and a few other countries like Holland and Norway. In fact, cases of clerics accused of molesting or raping children have surfaced repeatedly in Italy and been systematically ignored. In 2005, a former abbot in Arezzo in Tuscany confessed to molesting 38 children. In 2008, a priest was convicted by a court in Ferrara of abusing children as young as three. He was sentenced to six years and 10 months. Right now, the parish priest of a Rome suburb is on trial in a case involving seven alleged victims. None of this has excited more than passing interest, let alone raised questions about the responsibilities of the priests' superiors. In at least one of case, the accused is known to have been confirmed in his post after the first claims against him were made.

I mention all this not so much to make a point about the media as about the Vatican and the Italian church. It has frequently been remarked that the Catholic hierarchy from the pope downwards seemed not to realise the gravity of what happened this year until it was too late. Its initial reaction to the scandals was to denounce them as part of a conspiracy. But, seen from Rome, this is not at all surprising. Wrapped in the dense, comforting cotton wool of Italian media respect, the Vatican just does not feel or hear the outrage that has been generated.

The situation is exacerbated by the fact that the Vatican communicates largely with Italian journalists. On the scale of values of most members of the pope's bureaucracy, the Roman curia, Il Messaggero, with a circulation of maybe 200,000 but based in Rome and traditionally Christian Democrat in outlook, counts for far more than CNN or Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. This in turn is a reflection of how little the Vatican has been internationalised even though it is now 32 years since the last Italian pope. The curia manages a vast, international organisation.

Yet it still manned to a disproportionate extent by Italians with Italian – and, to an even greater extent, Roman – sensibilities and priorities. Sooner or later, that is surely going to have to change.

Oregon faith-healing parents fight to get baby back, face criminal charges

Oregon faith-healing parents fight to get baby back, face criminal charges
Published: Thursday, July 22, 2010, 7:15 PM Updated: Friday, July 23, 2010, 11:46 AM
Steve Mayes, The Oregonian

The Clackamas County Sheriff's Office obtained photographs of 7-month-old Alayna May Wyland that show the fast-growing mass of blood vessels that may cause blindness in her left eye. Her parents, Timothy and Rebecca Wyland (holding Alayna) were ordered to hand Alayna over to state officials, and could also face criminal charges.

OREGON CITY -- A Beavercreek couple who left their infant daughter's fate to God rather than seek medical treatment for a mass that grew over her left eye will face charges of first-degree criminal mistreatment.

Prosecutors revealed Thursday during a custody hearing that a grand jury has indicted Timothy and Rebecca Wyland, members of Oregon City's Followers of Christ church.

The Wylands' 7-month-old daughter, Alayna, was placed in state custody earlier this month after child-welfare workers received a tip about the untreated and ballooning growth. Doctors said that the condition could cause permanent damage or loss of vision.

The Wylands were indicted within the past few days and probably will be arraigned next week, said Colleen Gilmartin, the deputy district attorney handling the custody case in juvenile court.

Under Oregon law, it is a crime for parents to intentionally and knowingly withhold necessary and adequate medical attention from their children. First-degree criminal mistreatment is a Class C felony punishable by up to five years in prison.

The Wylands and their church reject medical care in favor of faith-healing -- anointing with oil, laying on of hands, prayer and fasting. The parents testified at a juvenile court hearing last week that they never considered getting medical attention for Alayna.

Related stories
Previous coverage of Timothy and Rebecca Wyland.

Previous coverage of recent faith healing trials.

Previous stories about faith healing in Oregon.According to court documents, Rebecca Wyland anointed Alayna with oil each time she changed the girl's diaper and wiped away the yellow discharge that seeped daily from the baby's left eye.

Thursday's hearing was procedural and reached no resolution.

The Wylands' attorneys, John Neidig and Thurl Stalnaker Jr., offered a plan they said would guarantee the child would receive medical care recommended by doctors, with options such as regular visits from state workers, having a trusted individual occupy the Wyland home and monitoring the family with Skype, an Internet program used for video conferencing.

Attorney Michael Clancy, who represents Alayna, also urged that the girl be sent home.

Clancy, however, was skeptical that prosecutors or child-protection authorities would accept any plan to quickly reunite the family.

"There is no plan, even if we came up with 100 pages of stuff ... that is going to be satisfactory," he said.

Clackamas County Circuit Judge Douglas Van Dyk noted that doctors treating Alayna haven't reviewed the Wylands' plan and said he wouldn't approve the proposal without hearing from the physicians.

But Van Dyk also said Alayna should be returned home once a plan is in place "that makes the community feel secure about the care."

He told all the attorneys to submit their proposals to him next week and said he would work out a suitable agreement at a July 30 hearing.

"That's where this case is going as far as this judge is concerned," Van Dyk said.

Randy L. Rasmussen/The OregonianTimothy Wyland, 44, and Rebecca Wyland, 23, arrive Thursday for a hearing in Oregon City over custody of their daughter, 7-month-old Alayna.

There could be a complication.

Prosecutors said that a child usually is not returned to parents accused of criminal mistreatment. It is not clear whether the district attorney's office will seek a no-contact order or if one would be granted.

Gilmartin, doctors and DHS workers want assurances that Alayna will get treatment that will minimize damage to her eye and address any complications that arise.

Alayna had a small mark over her left eye at birth.

The area started swelling, and the fast-growing mass of blood vessels, known as a hemangioma, eventually caused her eye to swell shut and pushed the eyeball down and outward and started eroding the eye socket bone around the eye.

It's rare to see a child with an advanced hemangioma because the condition typically is treated as soon as it's detected, said a doctor who testified at a hearing before Van Dyk last week.

"They never get this large," said Dr. Thomas Valvano, a pediatrician at Doernbecher Children's Hospital. "This was medical neglect."

Investigators who interviewed the Wylands noted the grotesque swelling that led DHS to act.

"Alayna's left eyeball was completely obstructed, and you could not see any of it. The growth was multiple shades of red and maroon and appeared to me to be between the size of a golf ball and a tennis ball," said Clackamas County Detective Christie Fryett in a search warrant affidavit that included pictures of the growth on Alayna's face.

Alayna is the Wylands' only child.

Timothy Wyland was a widower when he married Rebecca Wyland two years ago.

Wyland's first wife, Monique, died of breast cancer in 2006. She had not sought or received medical treatment for the condition, said Dr. Christopher Young, a deputy state medical examiner who signed the death certificate.